SHILLONG, May 8 - After the humiliating defeat at the hands of Chinese in 1962, the image of the “nine foot Chinaman overrunning the country,” was created by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to hide his follies.
Military historian and documentary filmmaker, Shiv Kunal Verma who penned the book “1962 -The War that Wasn’t,” says the image of the “invincible Chinaman” was created by Nehru to exonerate himself and others from the humiliating defeat and his book exposes that.
This phobia about the “mighty Chinese” still persists to this day in some measures, despite India having one of the best armed forces in the world now and are no push-overs, Verma said.
“The nine foot Chinaman did not overrun parts of North East during the 1962 war. It was Nehru and other bureaucrats who lost the war for India,” the author emphasised.
Verma, who has filmed the Kargil War and has authored several other books like the Northeast Trilogy, recently handed a copy of the book to Eastern Air Command chief, Air Marshal C Hari Kumar here.
According to Verma, Nehru committed one of the biggest blunders before the war by putting up political appointees in the armed forces, who lacked battle experience.
Nehru in fact “handpicked” Lt Gen BM Kaul, known to be close to Nehru, to lead the war, though he had no experience, the author pointed out in his book.
“Right up to the rank of Brigadier, before the 1962 war, there were mostly political appointees, who lacked experience of war,” Kunal said, who detailed these findings in his book.
Nehru, moreover, overlooked warnings from different eminent personalities and committees of a Chinese build-up along the borders and of an imminent attack.
Then Home Minister, Sardar Patel and also the Himmat Singh and Kulwant Singh committees gave adequate warnings to Nehru about China’s intent. “Sardar Patel had in fact written a letter predicting about this fallout (China attacking) but unfortunately 38 days later he died,” Verma said.
The reason for overlooking the advice of the experts was because Nehru considered himself a historian and viewed China favourably from history’s perspective. He further had Defence Minister, VK Krishna Menon, with Communist leanings, to guide him.
Despite these, much could have been salvaged had the Assam Rifles been positioned at the forward posts to slow down the Chinese advances.
“It is still a puzzle why the Assam Rifles were not put up at the borders. The Assam Rifles had the experience fighting the Japanese during World War II and also fighting with the Allied troops in the First World War,” Verma said.
Another blunder was not deploying the Air Force to stop the Chinese. “The Air Force was not deployed because of fear the Chinese Air Force would bomb our towns and cities. But at that time China did not have ATF (jet fuel). They couldn’t even fly within China,” the author said.
Meanwhile, Verma believes there is little possibility of a war between India and China in the near future. But border skirmishes would continue.
“They don’t want the border settled. They want the borders to be alive based on Mao Tse-Tung’s theory. The Chinese have an expansionist mindset,” he said.