The Stormy Parliamentary Debates of 1962

Dr. R. N. Das is Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile.
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  • October 2012

    Excepting in a war-like situation when there is threat to national security, unity and integrity, parliamentarians neither have the time nor the inclination to discuss issues that do not have a direct bearing on their constituency or on electoral politics. Besides considering the sensitive and professional nature of the subject, parliamentarians tend to leave the foreign policy issues to the professional diplomats and the foreign policy establishment. But there have been exceptions to the rule in most democratic countries, including India. India–China relations and India’s policy towards China is one such illustration. In recent past, the Indo- United States (US) nuclear deal also dominated the discourse in Indian Parliament and almost bought the government to the brink of fall. This article has the limited objective of revisiting the debates in the Parliament, Lok Sabha in particular, both prior to the Chinese attack and after the attack, and putting the gist of the debate for wider dissemination. As some of the observations that Prime Minister Nehru made in the House, and for that matter of the other members, are often referred to by scholars, they are mentioned verbatim, instead of paraphrasing them, for accuracy and authenticity from the original debate. The criticism by the opposition is also mentioned in the article. Revisiting the stormy debates, the Parliament assumes salience this year which commemorates the fiftieth year of the India–China War of 1962. As George Santayana once said, ‘Those who can not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’

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