Every Sunday in my home begins by watching Rangoli on DD National. During the Independence Day or the Republic Day weekend, they air patriotic songs to celebrate the occasion. These songs often are those adapted from war movies that celebrate the armed forces and remember our martyrs who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Since my childhood, one song has always brought out tears in my eyes. They air this song almost every year during the two weekends that I mentioned about and every time, it leaves me with a feeling of sadness.
This is the song Ab Tumhare Hawaale Watan Saathiyo from the 1964 Hindi film Haqeeqat which is based upon the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
The sight of Indian army soldiers lying dead on the battlefield in the song always made me sad. Mohammed Rafi’s voice and Madan Mohan’s music when combined can make anyone go emotional. Certain scenes in the song are based on reality. The scenes in which women of this country give up their precious jewels for the cause of the nation did take place in 1962. My grandmother has narrated an incident to me which took place in the city of Bijapur in Karnataka.
In 1962, India needed funds to sustain the conflict. The citizens themselves gave so many of their own jewels and other valuables for the sake of the nation. Bijapur is a tier-ii city in Karnataka and when S Nijalingappa the Chief Minister of the Mysore State back then and Indira Gandhi appealed to the residents of Bijapur, every household gave up their jewels and other valuables for the greater good.
The Sino-Indian war was not an accidental one. It was a carefully planned assault by the Chinese. The Chinese planned it in such a way that the war coincided with the Cuban missile crisis which required the full concentration of both the superpowers the United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or the Soviet Union). The Chinese had the intelligence about the impending Cuban missile crisis and utilized it to their full advantage. So, when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru appealed to the US President John F Kennedy and requested for the help of the US, he could not get a positive reply since the Americans were preoccupied with the Cuban missile crisis.
Similarly, the Soviet Union which had always been India’s closest ally, also could not aid India. India also foolishly took the advice of the Americans and did not employ the Indian Airforce into combat. According to the CIA, the Chinese Airforce was no match to the Indian one back then and an air combat would have been a huge advantage to India. Nevertheless, the failure in the war was purely the fault of PM Nehru and Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon. Nehru was naïve in his approach towards the Chinese and Menon’s favouritism had divided the Indian army like never before. President S Radhakrishnan rightly criticized the government for the way the whole situation was handled.
The 1962 war was a disaster for India but also had a few positives to look out for. It united the country like never before. It also acted like a lesson for India which realized that its military had to be revamped completely. The complete military setup was overhauled with respect to the doctrine, training, organisation and equipment. India realized that its defence sector had to be revamped and as a result of this, it invested heavily in the military and the defence of the country. India now has one of the strongest contingent of armed forces in the world. It is now a nuclear country and thanks to our committed scientists at the DRDO, we have Agni, Prithvi, Nag, Aakash, Brahmos, Trishul, Shaurya, and many other sophisticated weaponries in our arsenal.The Country doesn’t have a socialist romantic Nehru in the top chair but a nationalist Modi who has proved his mettle with Surgical Strikes in Pakistan and Myanmar. This List puts India as the 4th Strongest Army in the World, next only to China. Hence a Comprehensive defeat is out of question. A War with India will Push China a 100 years back.
India of 2017 is a new India and is no way like the India of 1962 that China defeated. The world too has changed now.
The Cold War is over and the USSR has collapsed. India’s relations with the only remaining superpower, the US has never been stronger and India by itself today is a major power in the world. India of today is a leader unlike the India of 1962. If there is a war now in 2017, citizens don’t have to give up their jewels and valuables like they did back in 1962. Indian economy is robust, dynamic, stable, and powerful. We can handle a war like situation.
The ongoing escalation between the two Asian powers over Bhutan is believed to be the worst since the 1962 Sino-Indian war. The Chinese experts have warned that if not handled properly, it can lead to a full-scale war. But Defence Minister has clearly warned the Chinese that India of 2017 is different from the India of 1962 and what he has said is absolutely correct. India learnt from the mistakes of 1962 and invested in its military and defence. If China even whispers of a war, India has the full ability to take it on and fight fire with fire. This is a new India in a new world. The Chinese must keep that in mind before making an unwise move.