What If India Had Won The 1962 War Against China?

Tibet would have been liberated; the loss of face would have made China retreat
into its shell
instead of becoming an aggressive imperialist....and of course India's Marxists
would have
been defanged.
RAJEEV SRINIVASAN
Indians have been conditioned to believe that we had not a ghost of a chance aga
inst China in 1962;
but that's simply not true. If the Indian government had not been so blasé; if the
military leadership
had not been so ineffectual; if the Indian Air Force had not been grounded, illadvisedly; well,
all historic ifs, but the outcome would have been very different. China's army i
s a lot less than invincible,
as the battle-hardened Vietnamese proved by thrashing it in 1979.
Even the timing was propitious for India, yet we fumbled.
In 1962, China was weak militarily. If defeated, Tibet would have been f
ree,
future water wars avoided, Chinese self-esteem hurt.
In 1962, China had just experienced four years of decreasing foodgrain productio
n and a major famine.
Chinese supply lines to the Indo-Tibet border were stretched thin, and could hav
e been disrupted from the air.
If only the Indian political and military leadership had not been criminally neg
ligent which is why
the Henderson-Brooks Report on the war has been suppressed, for it would implica
te too many in high
places India could have won.
The end results would have been dramatic: Tibet would have been liberated; India
ns would not have been starry-eyed about China;
the loss of face would have made China retreat into its shell instead of becomin
g an aggressive imperialist.
Tibet was an avoidable catastrophe. First is the decimation of a vibrant Indic c
ulture, that of the Tibetan Buddhists.
They have been doubly unfortunate. For, Tibetan Buddhism owes its traditions to
the few monks who escaped being
beheaded by Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1197 when he sacked Nalanda. And now, in a repea
t, they are being exterminated once again,
this time by fascist Han Chinese.
In 1962, China was quite weak militarily. If India had created a coalition with
Western powers,
who worried about the Soviet-China axis, the Han Chinese could have been ejected
, and Tibet saved from genocide.
The Americans would have cooperated; in those Domino Theory days, they even trai
ned a group of Tibetans for a
guerrilla resistance movement back home. India, instead, chose to be gullible "u
seful idiots", in Chou En-Lai's
dismissive phrase.
However, in addition to altruistic concern for a sister culture, India would hav
e gained concrete things from Tibetan freedom.
The plateau is the source of many of the rivers in Asia, and benign Tibetan cont
rol over them would have given much of Asia water security:
the Indus, the Brahmaputra, the Mekong and the Irrawaddy all originate there.
Instead, China plans to divert the Brahmaputra northwards from Tibet. If so, the
Ganga-Brahmaputra doab would dry up,

At that time. instead of being bulled by the offensive Chinese-drafted Security Cou ncil Resolution 1172 condemning the Pokhran II blasts. India would have acceded to the non-proliferation treaty as a nuclear weap ons state. including the Great Leap Forward. And they would no t have been proliferating nuclear technology so openly to North Korea. They would not be bullyi ng all their neighbours.and civilisation as we know it would end in North India. the experiments in collectivisation had not brought the expected benefits. would have been stillborn. Another side-effect and in a way. and the Macaulayite history of defeat that we i mbibe through textbooks. This water war India could absolutely have avoided by routing China in 1962. Taiwan and Russ ia would have proceeded apace. The bonhomie with the Soviet Union was showing signs of wear. These evangelists for the Ch urch of Marx would have been laughed out of court if they plugged the sayings of Chairman Mao immediately after China had been defeated by India. Furthermore. China was viewed with disdain. supercilious land . the 'loss of face' to China would have had incalculable value in geopolitics. There is every reason to believe China will proceed with diverting water. through military might. in his infinite wisdom. To consider the psychological effect of such a defeat. Pakistan. Libya. But . through judicious use o f opium. Pax Indica in the Indian Ocean would have given I ndia a choke-hold on critical shipping routes transporting Persian Gulf oil to C hina. This is a national secu rity issue of the highest order. ignoring India's objections. The British. A stinging defeat by India would have so seriously hurt Chinese self-esteem that they would not have dared to dream of dominating Asia. aimed at containing India. and instead created a famine in which as m any as forty million perished. caused most observers to view China as a freak show. Tibet. Japan. Chinese dams across the Mekong are already causing drought in downstream riparia n states like Laos and Cambodia. as in irredentist adventures in Xinjiang. both ha ve serious security and environmental implications for India. The Chinese deliberately created floods on the Brahmaputra in Arunachal not too long ago. Their Sino-Islam ic axis. Spratlies. bot h West Bengal and Kerala would have been spared decades of under-development and degeneration. had shown Chinese their imper ial pretensions counted for nothing in the real world. have caused Indians to see themselves as losers. an attempt at using vast amounts of manpower to rapidly industrialise the country. China was vulnerable. There would have been more fringe benefits. The containment of China through alliances with Vietnam. India's case for the Security Council would have been much stronger. They got into the UN Security Council only becau se Nehru. This would hav e prevented Marxist infiltration into academia. was a colossal failure. Arunac hal Pradesh. winning the 1962 war would have made an enormous difference to India. the Great Leap Forward (1958-62). Chinese nuclear missiles in Tibet's high plains. Everyone respects power and the will to use it. this might have been the greatest benefit to Ind ia would have been the defanging of India's Marxists. its self-image mauled by colonialism. Sim ilarly. Iraq. as well as the dumping of nuclear waste therein. as despised gwailo ( foreign devils) had ruthlessly penetrated their hitherto smug. institutions and the media. the loss damaged the India n psyche. the allegedly impregnable Middle Kingdom. Mischief Reef. Even though Indians are not quite so worried about 'face'. etc. gave them the seat offered to India! Bizarre experiments with fundamentalist Len inism/Stalinism. and Indians ignore it at their peril. The Ch inese would have been far more humiliated after a defeat by India. just look at India. and the Japanese. whic h urgently need to be de-toxified from their baleful influence. On a more subtle level. Thus. and the Senkaku Islands. The shock of betrayal.

The ideas were enormously influential. mathematics.there is no mistaking the civilisational conflict between India and China. without military conquest or migration. China may be leading right now. http://www. depended on demographic thrus ts: periodic emigration of Han Chinese took their culture and their industrial a rts with them. on the other hand. Korea and Japan. Indic ideas went everywhere West Asia. The last word in this monumental competition has not been written.com. for lebensraum: for China has poo r land.com/article/what-if-india-had-won-the-1962-war-against-c hina/224864 . Southeast Asia. China col onised by demographic warfare. even C hina and through it.outlookindia. They were looking for survival. and they included religion and philosophy. arc hitecture and mythology. India colonised Asia softly: with a few exceptions. China. ________________________________________ Rajeev Srinivasan is a columnist for rediff. and either too little or too much water. This process has continued to t he present. language. Tibet. 1962 is a mere skirmish. but India is surely no pushover any more. In th is millennia-old Grand Narrative. martial arts. Central Asia. with the large Chinese diaspora.