Members of Parliament, press correspondents, interested University men and the attentive newspaper reading public in India, all agree that not enough information is available in easily assimilable form to enable a meaningful debate on matters pertaining to national security. It is one of the strange ironies of the situation that in spite of this criticism being voiced for well over a decade, and the country having gone through two major wars and a border skirmish, there has been no effort to study the reasons underlying this state of affairs, and to suggest concrete remedial steps.
Neville Maxwell's book, India's China War (Jaico Publishing House, Bombay, 1970) has already been subjected to extensive comments by a number of senior journalists in this country. By and large, the comments are not commendatory and one correspondent reflected the official view that it had woven a string of half-truths and misrepresentations around a preconceived conclusion. It is natural for an ordinary Indian to be indignant over the book.
The former defence minister Shri Yeshwantrao Chavan led a delegation to the United States in May 1964 to discuss American support for the Indian Defence Five-Year Plan. The delegation included among others, the then defence secretary Shri P.V.R. Rao. Both Shri Chavan and Shri Rao were very impressed by the quantitative and analytical approach adopted by the US Defense Department and on their return, initiated discussions in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to explore the possibility of setting up a ‘think tank’ on the lines of the RAND Corporation.
There is general agreement among those concerned with international relations and strategy that for the next fifteen years Asia is more likely to be an area of tension and conflict involving major powers than any other part of the world, now that detente has stabilised the situation in Europe. There is further agreement that China and growing nationalism among the Asian societies will be the foci around which tension and conflict are likely to build up.
So far the Chinese have carried out ten nuclear tests which include one underground test, one test of a nuclear-tipped missile and three thermo-nuclear tests. In other words, the Chinese are on a comprehensive weapons programme, which will give them thermo-nuclear warheads from the megaton range down to small yield nuclear weapons of a few kiloton range and even fractional kiloton range. They are now engaged in improving the compactness of their warheads.
No aspect of Jawaharlal Nehru's policies and leadership came under as severe an attack as those on defence. Unfortunately till this day no scholastic appraisal of the policy he pursued in regard to national security is available and it is a great pity that the Government has not encouraged such a study. We have had a host of publications by foreigners, retired Indian Army officers, retired civil servants, journalists, academicians and politicians which are generally critical of Jawaharlal Nehru's defence policy. The bias in these works is all too obvious. Shri B.N.
The popular perception in India is that with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of one of the two Superpowers, the bipolar international system has become unipolar. The United States is now assumed to be an unchallenged sole Superpower. Consequently, it is felt in some quarters that the Indo-US Joint Statement of July 18, 2005 is a case of US recruiting India as one of its allies for possible future containment of China. Such a perception nurtures suspicion about the US and its motivation about its attempts to befriend India.