His­tory re­peats it­self


It is cer­tainly ap­pre­cia­tive and wel­come that In­dia and China, the two fu­ture eco­nomic su­per­pow­ers, are talk­ing about strength­en­ing bi­lat­eral ties. Re­cently, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Man­mo­han Singh and the Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Ji­natao jointly de­clared 2012 as the year of In­dia-China friend­ship and co­op­er­a­tion.

The Prime Min­is­ter hoped that the two would work to­gether to main­tain peace and se­cu­rity on the bor­ders and re­solve bor­der is­sues through friendly talks. Here lies the thorn. If we go by In­dian mil­i­tary strate­gists, In­dia not only has to be cau­tious by such ‘friendly Chi­nese over­tures’, but also has to be welle­quipped and pre­pared, not to be taken by any kind of sur­prise, which the Chi­nese are known to de­liver. The case in point is the 1962 war be­tween the two nations. His­tory tells us how China, led by Chou En-lai, played a game of de­ceit, lead­ing In­dia to be­lieve that all was well, when it was pre­par­ing for a mil­i­tary as­sault. The 1962 war is a grim re­minder.

In this is­sue, as the na­tion re­mem­bers the sac­ri­fices of In­dian sol­diers, we have in­ci­sive ar­ti­cles and viewpoints on the Chi­nese think­ing, strat­egy, mil­i­tary might and its am­bi­tions. Gen­eral (Retd) V.P. Ma­lik has said that deep strate­gic fis­sures be­tween the two coun­tries can­not be ig­nored. In re­cent years, China has been more vo­cal and as­sertive on its claim over Arunachal Pradesh. China is non-com­mit­tal over nu­clear arm­ing of Pak­istan and in­duc­tion of PLA in Gil­git-Baltistan area of Pak­istan Oc­cu­pied Kash­mir. By is­su­ing sta­pled visas to In­dian pass­port hold­ers from Jammu and Kas­mir, Bei­jing is vir­tu­ally ques­tion­ing the sta­tus of the State, pro­vid­ing sup­port to Pak­istan’s po­si­tion on the is­sue, and en­sur­ing greater se­cu­rity to its oc­cu­pied ter­ri­tory in Aksai Chin.

The Gen­eral has rightly pointed out that de­spite sev­eral for­eign ag­gres­sions in our post-in­de­pen­dent his­tory, we seem to lack re­al­ism. There is a sense of self-right­eous­ness and sin­gu­lar faith in words, with­out look­ing for un­der­ly­ing false­hoods and in­com­pe­tence.

Echo­ing sim­i­lar views, Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch has said that the ac­tions of Pan­dit Nehru, by ig­nor­ing the warn­ings on China given by Sar­dar Pa­tel, led to In­dia be­ing out­wit­ted both po­lit­i­cally and mil­i­tar­ily. Con­sid­er­ing what the two Gen­er­als have said, it would be pru­dent on the part of the pow­ers that be in New Delhi not to be ‘naive’ when it comes to deal­ing with China.

In SP’s Ex­clu­sives, we have cov­ered one of the ma­jor cor­po­rate developments in the de­fence and aero­space sec­tors, the prob­a­ble merger of giants EADS and BAE Sys­tems. Con­sol­i­da­tion be­ing key to stay com­pet­i­tive, it is be­lieved that the ac­tual trig­ger for the two to come to­gether could be the loss of MMRCA deal, and also the need for them to counter com­pe­ti­tion from Boe­ing.

We have a re­port on HAL send­ing out an RFP to BAE Sys­tems for a po­ten­tial or­der to sup­ply prod­ucts and ser­vices for the man­u­fac­ture of 20 Hawk ad­vanced jet trainer (AJT) air­craft, in ad­di­tion to the 123 Hawks al­ready or­dered. Once these Hawks are avail­able, the IAF is keen on re­viv­ing the erst­while Surya Ki­ran Aerobatics Team which we all would love to see them per­form across the globe.

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