Archive for July, 2012

The 1962 War – Nehru’s India Never had a Chance ….

Posted on July 1, 2012. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

War they say is a continuation of policy by other means; an act of force to compel an adversary to do one’s will. It boils down to a contest between the wills of opposing leaderships.

Here is a broad over view of the opposing leaderships.

The Indian leadership was essentially the persona of Nehru while the Chinese were led by Mao and Zhou. 

Nehru’s India and the Indian Army never had a chance because along with Nehru there was his protege Krishna Menon, the Defense Minister, who had bled the Army of its pride and self respect. (Read more about this in other posts – specially the post on General Thimaya)..

Prime Minister for some 15 years and before that, Gandhi’s poster boy for a Quarter century, Nehru was elegant, urbane, polished and cultured. He had fine family credentials coupled with an Oxford education. Indeed he bestrode, like a colossus,  the Indian political stage before and after Independence.

But he did have his fixations. Like cowering before the might of the Russian juggernaut and strongly leading India towards a Socialistic pattern of Society. Was there also a hint of cowering to a bully in his pandering to Communist China when they marched into Tibet?

Also he detested the US. Perhaps for no reason other than that he found the plebeian, down to earth, Harry Truman a middle class bore. This was during his one and only visit to the US.

But there was not a ghost of anything negative in those halcyon days. To boot there was even a book titled, ‘After Nehru Who?

Tragically he was no match for his counter part in China! Why? Because of the personalities on the opposing side. Here  follow some very incisive observations from two divergent sources on Zhou en Lai. First these extracts from Henry Kissinger’s Memoirs which cover the Nixon Visit to China.

Kissinger on Zhou Enlai.

Gaunt, expressive face dominated by piercing eyes, conveying a mixture of intensity and repose; of wariness and calm self-confidence.

He moved gracefully and with dignity – filling a room not by his physical dominance but by his air of controlled tension, steely discipline and self-control, as if he were a coiled spring.   There was little wasted motion, either in his words or in his movements.

Very genial. On the one hand he conveyed an easy casualness (which did not deceive the careful observer). On the other hand there was the palpable alertness, the features of a man, who had had burned into him, by a searing half century, the vital importance of self-possession. 

There was an inner serenity, which enabled him to eschew petty maneuvers.  At meetings lasting many long hours, with 5-7 hour sessions, at no occasion did he reveal any impatience or imply that he had any thing else to do  –  he was governing the worlds largest country, both in area and population.  

Leader for 50 years, Prime Minister for 25. Equally at home in philosophy, reminiscence, historical analysis, tactical probes, humorous repartee, he could display an extraordinary graciousness. He had a special human quality.

And here is the then Secretary General of the UN, the supremely detached, famously effecient scion of a Swede PM. And the only posthumous winner of the Nobel Peace Prize  – Dag Hammereskjoeld on the very same Zhou in his Markings.

“It is a little bit humiliating when I have to say that Chou En-lai to me appears as the most superior brain I have so far met in the field of foreign politics.  So much more dangerous than you imagine because he is so much better a man than you have ever admitted”.

And here again is Kissinger on Mao.

Tall and powerfully built. He fixed the visitor with a smile both penetrating and slightly mocking; warning by his bearing that there was no point in seeking to deceive this specialist in the foibles and duplicity of man.

He distilled raw, concentrated Will Power. He exuded the overwhelming drive to prevail.  His thoughts even in the shadow of death were lucid and sardonic.

He never engaged in soliloquies. Not for him the prepared points – seemingly extempore or learned from notes. His meaning emerged from a Socratic dialogue that he guided effortlessly and with deceptive casualness.  

His characteristic sideways glance. Great, demonic, prescient, overwhelming personality.

And these were the guys India and Nehru had to contend with!        Nehru never had a chance!!!

Mao and Zhou had been comrades together for more than 3/4ths of their lives. Yet Mao refused funds for Zhou’s treatment before the latter died. And he felt humiliated when common people kept on placing flowers much against strict orders at Tien Ming Square in remembrance of Zhou.

Zhou was loved by the common people but not Mao!

For a complete account of the conflict read –

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