T R I B U N E  S P E C I A L


It is 50 years since the Chinese invasion of October 1962, but the scars remain. The Tribune revisits the traumatic war, with experts examining the causes, what went wrong and the lessons, in a series.

Why India and China went to war in 1962
The scars of the 1962 war against China that resulted in a humiliating defeat for India still remain 50 years later. Starting today, The Tribune brings you a series of articles by experts on the genesis of the war, India’s political and military blunders and the lessons the country has learnt and should learn
Zorawar Daulet Sing
Indian historian John Lall once observed, "Perhaps nowhere else in the world has such a long frontier been unmistakably delineated by nature itself". How then, did India and China defy topographical odds to lock into an impasse that was ultimately tested on the battlefield?

1962 WAR: Leaders failed india
There was no institutional mechanism for decision-making on national security. Indian soldiers fought bravely but were let down by unspeakably incompetent generals and the political leaders that had assigned them the commands for which they were unfit
Inder Malhotra
INCE the traumatic story of the brief but brutal border war with China is too well known, having been written in minutest details, and indeed is being retold extensively in the run up to its 50th anniversary there is no point repeating it here. Suffice it to say that whoever lived through it, as I did, hasn't forgotten it half a century later.

The Iron Man’s advice that went largely unheeded
N November 7, 1950 – twelve years before the Chinese attack -- the then Home Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, wrote a 2,323-word letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, giving his assessment of the developments across the Himalayan frontier and cautioning Nehru about the imminent threat from China.

No foresight, no planning saw defeat
Due to ideological, short-sighted and emotional reasons Chinese threats were either not accepted or under-played till Parliament and public opinion forced the government to adopt a military posture against China
General V P Malik (retd)
The India-China war in 1962 was independent India’s most traumatic and worst-ever security failure. The war has left an indelible impression on our history and psyche which impacts India-China bilateral relations. The resultant geographic surgery continues to fester in the form of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) till date. This October marks its 50th anniversary. It is an appropriate occasion to reflect on the strategic lessons from the war and our current politico-military status vis-a-vis China.

India must match Chinese capability in the Himalayas
Gen VP Malik (retd) examines the future course of action.
A Chinese military garrison as seen across the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh
After three centuries, China is enjoying the shengshi — a golden era, an age of prosperity. In the next decade, it would become the world’s largest economy — a progress that also reflects the rise of China’s comprehensive national power. On the defence industrial front, China has displayed exceptional pragmatism, self-reliance and pride.
A Chinese military garrison as seen across the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. While China has developed extensive infrastructure enabling rapid mass mobilisation, the Indian side is bogged down by huge difficulties in logistics. Tribune Photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Sidelining army was a grave error
An air of unreality surrounded India’s policy processes at that time relating to the higher defence management. It is unclear whether the Indian Army was consulted on the military and strategic implications of Nehru’s Forward Policy
ifty years should be long enough to forget India’s humiliation in the Sino-Indian border conflict of 1962; but its traumatic memory still haunts the armed forces and informs the timidity of South Block in dealing with China. Hence, it is important to review the process of higher decision-making in the area of national security that evolved after Independence, but signally failed at that critical juncture.

In Ladakh It was last man, last round
The 1962 war saw some decisive battles with troops displaying tremendous courage and some even going beyond the call of duty. Rezang La in the west and Tawang in the east are two prominent places where military history is etched in blood
Vijay Mohan
Razang La, at 18,000 feet across the cold, barren landscape of Ladakh, bears testimony to one of the most decisive battles fought against the Chinese during the winter of 1962.

Tawang: Saga of Chinese advance and Indian retreart
Ajay Banerjee
Flaws in India's 'forward policy' of locating troops north of the disputed MacMahon line, were exposed in Kameng frontier division of Arunachal Pradesh. Within days of the attack, the well-prepared Chinese had overrun the Indian defences. Thousands of Indian Army soldiers and officers were killed, captured or wounded while some even shame-facedly took refuge in neighbouring Bhutan.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Sino-Indian War
India militarily take on china today ?
We look ahead and review the existing military capabilities of the two countries. On the face of it, the military balance clearly favours China, but in the improbable event of another conventional war, it would be no cake walk  for the Dragon
Dinesh Kumar
OCtober 20, 1962 is not a date Indians would like to remember. During the 1962 border war with China, the Indian Army was far inferior and far inexperienced compared to the Chinese and also compared to what it is today. The Indian Army had then never really fought a full scale war, certainly not with a country of the size of China.

China modernises while India lags behind
casual glance at tables comparing Indian and Chinese military assets shows the numbers heavily stacked in favour of China, which has more of just about everything. Numbers matter, but then these are subservient to a host of other factors like doctrinal aspects, technological prowess, terrain and deployability, logistic support, training levels and leadership.

India and China, 50 years after
Lessons learnt from ’62 war
The humiliating 1962 war with China made India lose face. Everything that could have possibly gone wrong, did. Flawed threat assessment, inadequate intelligence, ill-equipped military and poor diplomatic skills made it impossible to see what was coming. There are lessons to be learnt. India can ill afford a repeat and must modernise its forces, experts tell The Tribune

INDiA-CHINA WAR 50 years later
One must always be mindful of the prism through which China interprets the world around it and India’s place in that world. It is only through such a complex and continuing exercise that China’s India challenge can be dealt with
Understanding China’s world view
Shyam Saran
The Chinese will insistently demand and sometimes obtain explicit formulations from a friend and an adversary alike on issues of importance to their interests, but will rarely concede clarity and finality in formulations reflecting the other side’s interests. Thus, there is the recurring demand that India reaffirm, time and again, its recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.

INDiA-CHINA WAR 50 years later Part 9
While India and China have reached a framework for settlement of the contentious border dispute, for which they went to war in 1962, differences in approach persist and a breakthrough eludes the talks between the two special representatives
Border dispute with China still far from settled
Ashok Tuteja
The scars of the 1962 conflict were too deep for India and historians acknowledge that the betrayal and defeat at the hands of China had largely hastened the demise of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Chinda's new ambitions in Pakistan occupied Kashmir
Arun Joshi
Unlike the Line of Control or LoC with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, there is no thrill on the Line of Actual Control with China in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. There are simply cold realities that India suffered a humiliating defeat in 1962 war with China, and China occupied 38,000 sq kms of the Indian territory in the cold desert region of the state -- the only state in the country having borders with two countries, China and Pakistan.

50 years later Part 10
Bridging China-India trust deficit 
China-India relations have gradually matured after passing through a tortuous course in the past sixty years. There are certain unstable factors in their relations which need to be removed so that mutual trust is steadily enhanced
Cheng Ruisheng
N April 1, 1950, India became the first country among non-socialist countries to establish diplomatic relations with New China. From 1950 to 1958, China-India relations witnessed a very friendly period of “honey-moon”, with the slogan of “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai” resounding across the land of both countries.