Military & Aerospace

1962 War: Why keep Henderson Brooks report secret?
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Issue Vol 26.1 Jan-Mar 2011 | Date : 18 Mar , 2014

Maxwell put the onus of the non-settlement of the border dispute on the Nehru government: “India would through its own research determine the appropriate alignments of the Sino-Indian borders, extend its administration to make those good on the ground and then refuse to negotiate the result. Barring the inconceivable — that Beijing would allow India to impose China’s borders unilaterally and annex territory at will — Nehru’s policy thus willed conflict without foreseeing it. Through the 1950s, that policy generated friction along the borders and so bred and steadily increased distrust, growing into hostility, between the neighbours.”

Where Maxwell is wrong is when he says that India: “began accusing China of committing ‘aggression’ by refusing to surrender to Indian claims.”

That Nehru did not claim areas like Aksai Chin before 1958 is a fact28, but how does it make it a Chinese territory?

Therefore Maxwell’s argument is erroneous when he says: “From 1961 the Indian attempt to establish an armed presence in all the territory it claimed and then extrude the Chinese was being exerted by the Army and Beijing was warning that if India did not desist from its expansionist thrust, Chinese forces would have to hit back.”

The Chinese knew fairly well that India was not prepared. By 1962, Beijing had collected extensive intelligence, particularly amongst the Monpa population of NEFA; they were fully aware of the total lack of preparation on the Indian side.

The expansionist thrust has always been a Chinese trait, though nobody can deny that it was pure folly from Nehru’s part to announce ‘India’s intention to drive the Chinese out of areas India claimed’ on October 12, 1962, without adequate preparations.

The British author further elaborates on his own theory: “That bravado had by then been forced upon him by the public expectations which his charges of ‘Chinese aggression’ had aroused, but Beijing took it as in effect a declaration of war. The unfortunate Indian troops on the front line, under orders to sweep superior Chinese forces out of their impregnable, dominating positions, instantly appreciated the implications”.

Maxwell’s theory, “If Nehru had declared his intention to attack, then the Chinese were not going to wait to be attacked”, does not stand scrutiny.

The Chinese knew fairly well that India was not prepared. By 1962, Beijing had collected extensive intelligence, particularly amongst the Monpa population of NEFA; they were fully aware of the total lack of preparation on the Indian side. The fact that ‘they were not going to wait’ was probably linked rather with the internal situation in China and the catastrophic outcomes of the Great Leap Forward.

Mao Zedong knew that the time had come to teach India a lesson, thereby regaining the upper hand in the internal power struggle in China29.

In a section called Factionalisation of the Army, Maxwell is probably closer to the truth in his assessment. He speaks in details of the negative role played by Lt Gen BM Kaul: “At the time of independence Kaul appeared to be a failed officer, if not disgraced. Although Sandhurst-trained for infantry service, he had eased through the war without serving on any frontline and ended it in a humble and obscure post in public relations. But his courtier wiles, irrelevant or damning until then, were to serve him brilliantly in the new order that independence brought, after he came to the notice of Nehru, a fellow Kashmiri brahmin and indeed distant kinsman. Boosted by the Prime Minister’s steady favouritism, Kaul rocketed up through the army structure to emerge in 1961 at the very summit of Army HQ. Not only did he hold the key appointment of chief of the general staff (CGS) but the Army Commander, Thapar, was in effect his client. Kaul had of course by then acquired a significant following, disparaged by the other side as ‘Kaul boys’ (‘call girls’ had just entered usage) and his appointment as CGS opened a putsch in HQ, an eviction of the old guard, with his rivals, until then his superiors, being not only pushed out, but often hounded thereafter with charges of disloyalty. The struggle between those factions both fed on and fed into the strains placed on the Army by the government’s contradictory and hypocritical policies — on the one hand proclaiming China an eternal friend against whom it was unnecessary to arm, on the other using armed force to seize territory it knew China regarded as its own.”The extensive infrastructure network, the state of preparedness of the Chinese troops, the easiness with which they penetrated some sectors such as West Kameng (Tawang) are ample proofs that they had prepared since years for the attack of October 1962. It had nothing to do with the 1961 Forward Policy.

Maxwell argues that Nehru’s ‘covertly expansionist’ policy was implemented by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) Chief BN Mullik, ‘another favourite and confidant of the Prime Minister’.

Maxwell argues that Nehru’s ‘covertly expansionist’ policy was implemented by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) Chief BN Mullik, ‘another favourite and confidant of the Prime Minister’. Maxwell writes: “The Army high command, knowing its forces to be too weak to risk conflict with China, would have nothing to do with it. Indeed when the potential for Sino-Indian conflict inherent in Mullik’s aggressive forward patrolling was demonstrated in the serious clash at the Kongka Pass in October 195930, Army HQ and the Ministry of External Affairs united to denounce him as a provocateur, insist that control over all activities on the border be assumed by the Army, which thus could insulate China from Mullik’s jabs.”

According to Maxwell, the turning point was the ‘takeover’ by Kaul and his ‘boys’ at Army HQ in 1961. Regular jawans took over from the IB’s border police to implement the ‘forward policy’.

Maxwell says: “Field commanders receiving orders to move troops forward into territory the Chinese both held and regarded as their own, warned that they had no resources or reserves to meet the forceful reaction they knew must be the ultimate outcome: They were told to keep quiet and obey orders.”

The rest is history. Maxwell rightly notes: “China’s stunning and humiliating victory brought about an immediate reversal of fortune between the Army factions. Out went Kaul, out went Thapar, out went many of their adherents — but by no means all. …Political interference in promotions and appointments by the Prime Minister and Krishna Menon, defence minister, followed by clownish ineptitude in Army HQ as the ‘Kaul boys’ scurried to force the troops to carry out the mad tactics and strategy laid down by the government.”

The Report according to Maxwell

Maxwell says it is a rather long document with a main section, recommendations and several annexures. It covers more than 200 foolscap pages.

Maxwell affirms that the two-member Committee went beyond its brief, explaining thus the need to give the highest classification to their Report: “Henderson Brooks and Baghat in effect ignored the constraints of their terms of reference and kicked against other limits Chaudhuri had laid upon their investigation, especially his ruling that the functioning of Army HQ during the crisis lay outside their purview. “It would have been convenient and logical”, they note, “to trace the events [beginning with] Army HQ, and then move down to Commands for more details …ending up with field formations for the battle itself”.

Apparently, Lt Gen Herderson Brooks faced ‘determined obstruction in Army HQ’. According to the British journalist, the reason was that “one of the leading lights of the Kaul faction had survived in the key post of Director of Military Operations (DMO) — Brigadier DK Palit. Kaul had exerted his powers to have Palit made DMO in 1961 although others senior to him were listed for the post”.

In that period of less than two months only about 24,000 of our troops were actually involved in fighting”.

For Maxwell, Palit was the “enforcer for Kaul and the civilian protagonists of the ‘forward policy’, Mullik foremost among the latter, issuing the orders and deflecting or overruling the protests of field commanders who reported up their strategic imbecility or operational impossibility”.

The Forward Policy had come into existence at a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister on November 2, 1961, though Maxwell believes that it was “alive and kicking in the womb for years before that”. He mentions the year 1954 when Nehru first realized the importance to man the borders31. Earlier in history, when Tibet a ‘de facto’ independent country, it had not been necessary.

The Report noted that no minutes of the famous meeting were available, though Mullik was quoted as saying: “the Chinese would not react to our establishing new posts and that they were not likely to use force against any of our posts even if they were in a position to do so” It appears that this contradicted the conclusions that the Army Intelligence had reached 12 months earlier, namely that the Chinese would resist by force any attempts to take back territory held by them. The Report also pointed out the contradiction between the position of the Army HQ and the Western Command, when the HQ ordered “the establishment of ‘pennypacket’ forward posts in Ladakh, specifying their location and strength and Western Command protesting that it lacked the forces to carry out the allotted task, still less to face the grimly foreseeable consequences.”

There is no doubt that the assumption that the Chinese would not resist using force was wrong; history has proven this beyond doubt.

That Nehru did not claim areas like Aksai Chin before 1958 is a fact, but how does it make it a Chinese territory?

According to the Report, from the beginning of 1961 crucial professional military practice was abandoned:32 “From this stemmed the unpreparedness and the unbalance of our forces. These appointments in General Staff are key appointments and officers were hand-picked by General Kaul to fill them.”

In a section War and Debacle, Maxwell points again to the Forward Policy which began to be operative in December 1961 in the Eastern Sector and particularly near the Dhola Post, which the Chinese33 considered to be their territory, while India believed that the area was part of India. For Maxwell, the Indian action in this area was a provocation.

More interesting is the antagonism between the Army HQ (in this case, Eastern Command headed by Lt Gen LP Sen) and the local commanders, Lt Gen Umrao Singh (XXXIII Corps), Major General Niranjan Prasad (4 Division) and Brigadier John Dalvi (7 Brigade). The ‘local’ officers agreed that the ‘attack and evict’ order was militarily impossible to execute and the area below Thagla Ridge (at the western extremity of the McMahon Line), presented too many logistical difficulties. Quoting the Report, Maxwell writes: “so whatever concentration of troops could painfully be mustered by the Indians could instantly be outnumbered and outweighed in weaponry”.

No minutes of meetings

One of the difficulties faced by the members of the Inquiry was there were no minutes of the crucial meetings. At the same time, the Committee recorded its surprise that the most secret decisions of the government were immediately reported in the press.34

There is no doubt that the assumption that the Chinese would not resist using force was wrong; history has proven this beyond doubt.

Krishna Menon, the then Defence Minister, had requested that “in view of the top secret nature of conferences no minutes would be kept [and] this practice was followed at all the conferences that were held by the defence minister in connection with these operations”.

To say that this is astonishing would be an understatement. The Committee commented: “This is a surprising decision and one which could and did lead to grave consequences. It absolved in the ultimate analysis anyone of the responsibility for any major decision. Thus it could and did lead to decisions being taken without careful and considered thought on the consequences of those decisions”.

Howeverm what is the point in hiding this today, nearly fifty years after the incident, when so much has been written on the arrogant Defence Minister.

Another issue highlighted by the Report is the Army HQ interference in local issues of which they had no knowledge. For example, in mid-September 1962, an order was issued to troops beneath Thagla Ridge to “(a) capture a Chinese post 1,000 yards north-east of Dhola Post; (b) contain the Chinese concentration south of Thagla.”

The Report observed: “The General Staff, sitting in Delhi, ordering an action against a position 1,000 yards north-east of Dhola Post is astounding. The country was not known, the enemy situation vague and for all that there may have been a ravine in between [the troops and their objective], but yet the order was given. This order could go down in the annals of history as being as incredible as the order for the Charge of the Light Brigade”.

The extensive infrastructure network, the state of preparedness of the Chinese troops, the easiness with which they penetrated some sectors such as West Kameng (Tawang) are ample proofs that they had prepared since years for the attack of October 1962.

Next a new Corps (IV Corps) was formed; Umrao Singh retained his command but the new Corps was now responsible to evict the Chinese and drive them off the Thagla Ridge. Lt Gen Kaul was given the job.

According to the Report, this was done with “wanton disregard of the elementary principles of war”.

Maxwell writes that the “account of the moves that preceded the final Chinese assault is dramatic and riveting, with the scene of action shifting from the banks of the Namka Chu, beneath the menacing loom of Thagla Ridge, to Nehru’s house in Delhi — whither Kaul rushed back to report when a rash foray he had ordered was crushed by a fierce Chinese reaction on October 10. To follow those events, and on into the greater drama of the ensuing debacle is tempting, but would add only greater detail to the account already published. Given the nature of the dramatic events they were investigating, it is not surprising that [the Report] cast of characters consisted in the main of fools and/or knaves on the one hand, their victims on the other. But they singled out a few heroes too, especially the jawans, who fought whenever their senior commanders gave them the necessary leadership, and suffered miserably from the latter’s often gross incompetence.”

Unless one reads the Report, it is difficult to say if it is ‘dramatic and riveting’.

Why to keep the Report Secret?

We are living in the Wikileaks era, but the Herderson Brooks Report is still ‘classified’. Even the Secret Archives of the Vatican will soon be opened. Nick Squires recently wrote in The Telegraph: “After centuries of being kept under lock and key, the Vatican has started opening its Secret Archives to outsiders in a bid to dispel the myths and mystique created by works of fiction such as Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons.”35

It is not the Ministry of Defense alone which is guilty of confiscating India’s history. The Times of India reported: “What steps does the government follow while deciding to declassify its old secret documents? You may never get to know since the manual that details the declassification process in the country is itself marked confidential.36” The PMO alone has admitted having 28,685 secret files, not one has been declassified in the recent years.

Even if the government officially swears by the rule to make files public after 20 or 25 years, the policy remains unimplemented.

Ironically, the Chinese government is much more open. The Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson Center in the US has recently “obtained a large collection of Chinese documents detailing Beijing’s foreign policy surrounding the Sino-Indian Border clashes [1962 War]”. The documents will soon be posted on the CWIHP website.

It means that scholars will soon be able to research the 1962 conflict from a Chinese point of view, but still not from the Indian one.

Though the entire ‘classification’ exercise is clearly to protect the first Prime Minister of India, one wonders how many in India have ever read what Jawaharlal Nehru himself wrote on the subject.

One of these angles is the internal struggles within China between 1959 and 1962 and the role of Mao Zedong during these crucial years. A study of the Russian and East European archives, already partially opened, throws new light on the real motivation for the Chinese attack.

Though the entire ‘classification’ exercise is clearly to protect the first Prime Minister of India, one wonders how many in India have ever read what Jawaharlal Nehru himself wrote on the subject.

On 27 August 1957, in a Note to his Principal Private Secretary (PPS), the first Prime Minister of India commented about some persons having been refused access to the National Archives of India: “The papers required are very old, probably over thirty years old. No question of secrecy should apply to such papers, unless there is some very extraordinary reason in regard to a particular document. In fact, they should be considered, more or less, public papers. …I do not particularly fancy this hush hush policy about old public documents. Nor do I understand how our relations with the British Government might be affected by these as PPS has somewhere stated.”37

The Central Information Commission

In 2007, former MP and veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar took the matter to the Central Information Commission, under the Right to Information Act 2005. The Respondent, the Ministry of Defence dragged its feet for months and tried to take refuge behind the Section 8(1).

The CIC had to clarify: “Under the above circumstances we cannot accept an argument simply stating that the information sought stands exempted. Since in addition to Section 8(1) there is also Section 8(2) that empowers the Public Authority to take a decision in the matter, if it concerns the public interest. This Section reads as follows: 8(2) notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 or any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.”

The stand of the Defence Ministry was explicitly given during a hearing of the Commission on March 7, 2009: “It was submitted by Col Raj Shukla that the report prepared by Lt Gen Henderson Brooks and Brig Prem Bhagat was a part of internal review conducted on the orders of the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen Choudhary. Reports of internal review are not even submitted to Govt. let alone placed in the public domain. Disclosure of this information will amount to disclosure of the army’s operational strategy in the North-East and the discussion on deployments has a direct bearing on the question of the demarcation of the Line of Actual Control between India and China, a live issue under examination between the two countries at present. The Director General, Military Operations, therefore, submitted that the report falls clearly within the exemption of disclosures laid down in sec. 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act read with Sec. 8(3). After a presentation by Col Shukla we then inspected the original report, which had been placed before us, including the conclusion contained in pages 199 to 222 of the main report.”

Krishna Menon, the then Defence Minister, had requested that “in view of the top secret nature of conferences no minutes would be kept”

In a ‘decision notice’ dated March 19, 2010, the Commission said38: “We have examined the report specifically in terms of its bearing on present national security. There is no doubt that the issue of the India-China Border particularly along the North East parts of India is still a live issue with ongoing negotiations between the two countries on this matter. The disclosure of information of which the Henderson Brooks report carries considerable detail on what precipitated the war of 1962 between India and China will seriously compromise both security and the relationship between India & China, thus having a bearing both on internal and external security. We have examined the report from the point of view of severability u/s 10(1). For reasons that we consider unwise to discuss in this Decision Notice, this Division Bench agrees that no part of the report might at this stage be disclosed.”

It means that practically it is Neville Maxwell’s interpretation which will continue to prevail.

Some conclusions

While it is not our purpose to discuss the order of the Commission, it should be pointed out that all over the world, the normal practice is to ‘sanitize’ (or blacken) details which cannot be disclosed, for whatever reasons.

It is commonly done by the US State Department and the CIA (for example in the ‘POLO’ history of the Sino-Indian Conflict quoted above) or other governments. It could have easily been done (and still can be done) for the Herderson Brooks Report.

Further, Lt Gen Herderson Brooks and Brigadier Bhagat were not infallible. They may well have wrongly assessed some details (about the border issue in particular); continuing to hide the Report tends to prove that they found some truth which the general public should not know about.

To pretend that the ‘disclosure of this information will amount to disclosure of the army’s operational strategy in the North-East’ is not even worth discussing.

Regarding the border being a live issue, if some portions of the Report do not tally with the present position of the Government of India, it could very well be sanitized or explained that the view of the Inquiry Committee was not (and is not) that of the Government.

The release of the Report would certainly trigger further historical research on the subject, particularly in view of the opening of the US, Russian and Chinese archives. Today, as we have seen in the opening paras, Neville Maxwell’s interpretation alone is ‘authoritative’. This is unfortunate for India.

In my opinion, by keeping the Report under wraps, the Government is doing a disservice to the nation.

Notes

  1. Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.
  2. John H. Holdridge was working with Henry A. Kissinger.
  3. Winston Lord was also on Kissinger’s staff.
  4. Known as the Panchsheel Agreement, the actual title is “Agreement between The Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China on Trade and Intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India”. It was signed on April 29, 1954.
  5. This is not a fact: the addition of the Five Principles as a Preamble was an idea of K.M. Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador, but it benefited China, particularly the ‘non-interference in internal affairs’ clause. Beijing could now say “Tibet is our internal affair, do not interfere”.
  6. Neville Maxwell, India’s China War (New York: Pantheon Books, 1970).
  7. Zhou continued about the Soviet Union’s role in the 1962 war: “In looking at 1962, the events actually began in 1959. Why did he go to Camp David? In June of that year, before he went to Camp David, [Khrushchev] unilaterally tore up the nuclear agreements between China and the Soviet Union. And after that there were clashes between Chinese and Indian troops in the western part of Sinkiang, the Aksai Chin area. In that part of Sinkiang province there is a high plateau. The Indian-occupied territory was at the foot of the Karakorums, and the disputed territory was on the slope between.”  Kissinger intervened to ask: “It’s what they call Ladakh,” Nixon commented: “They attacked up the mountain!” Zhou Enlai then explained to his American guests: “We fought them and beat them back, with many wounded. But the TASS Agency said that China had committed aggression against India. After saying that, Khrushchev went to Camp David. And after he came back from Camp David he went to Peking [Beijing], where he had a banquet in the Great Hall of the People. The day after the banquet he went to see Chairman Mao. Our two sides met in a meeting.” “At that time our Foreign Minister was Marshal Chen Yi, who has now passed away. Marshal Chen Yi asked him: “Why didn’t you ask us before releasing your news account? Why did you rely on the Indian press over the Chinese press? Wasn’t that a case of believing in India more than us, a fraternal country?” “And what did Khrushchev say? ‘You are a Marshal and I am only a Lieutenant General, so I will not debate with you.’ He was also soured, and did not shake hands when he left. But he had no answer to that. He was slightly more polite to me.”
  8. Prepared by the History Division of the Ministry of Defence under the editorship of S.N. Prasad.
  9. Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chavan (12 March 1913 - 25 November 1984) was the first Chief Minister of Maharashtra after the division of Bombay State and the fifth Deputy Prime Minister of India. He was Defence Minister from November 21, 1962 till 1965.
  10. Pradhan, R.D., 1965 War: The Inside Story, Defense Minister YB Chavan’s Diary of the Indo-Pakistan War
  11. NEFA or North East Frontier Agency is the present Arunachal Pradesh.
  12. Pradhan’s book was published in 2007
  13. Chief of Army Staff or COAS.
  14. Though the Report is still considered as ‘restricted’, it is available on several websites, for example, http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/History/1962War/PDF/index.html
  15. Neville Maxwell is also alive.
  16. He had to work on it to prepare Chavan’s Parliament statement.
  17. Thereafter called the ‘Herderson Brooks Report’ or the Report.
  18. And continues to embarrass the Government today.
  19. Highlighted by this author.
  20. It is mostly in the West Kameng sector of NEFA that the Army suffered a series of reverses.
  21. The Defence Minister referred to the statements of the Prime Minister in Parliament on August 13 and 16, 1963 when Nehru had drawn the attention of Lok Sabha to the heavy concentration of Chinese troops, all along the northern border. It appeared that the total quantum of Chinese forces in Tibet had increased: there was “considerable activity by way of construction of barracks, gun emplacements, storage dumps, roads and airfields near our borders”.
  22. This author has often been told: “it is the way the babus function”.
  23. The US views on the Sino-Indian conflict can be found in the recently declassified CIA (POLO papers in 3 volumes) available on the CIA website. See http://www.foia.cia.gov/CPE/POLO/polo-07.pdf
  24. As we have seen earlier, this is confirmed by R.D. Pradhan. A friend of mine who had filed a RTI request to access the famous report was told by a ministry official: “Why you want to see the original report, read Maxwell’s book”.
  25. In fact, till October 1962.
  26. See Arpi, Claude, Born in Sin: the Panchsheel Agreement (Mittal Publications, New Delhi, 2004).
  27. It is probably why Maxwell is so much appreciated by the Chinese leadership.
  28. The entire correspondence is available in the Notes, Memoranda and letters Exchanged and Agreements signed between The Governments of India and China 1954 –1959 See: http://www.claudearpi.net/maintenance/uploaded_pics/WhitePaper1.pdf
  29. Mainly with Marshall Peng Dehuai and Liu Shaoqi. Mao’s man was Lin Biao who replaced Peng as Defence Minister.
  30. As we have seen, Zhou Enlai says that it was Khrushchev who masterminded the incident.
  31. Let us not forget the Panchsheel Agreement on Tibet was mainly to fix some passes between India and China’s occupied Tibet (“Traders and pilgrims of both countries may travel by the following passes and route: (1) Shipki La pass, (2) Mana pass, (3) Niti pass, (4) Kungri Bingri pass, (5) Darma pass, and (6) Lipu Lekh pass”).
  32. Maxwell says ‘when the Kaulist putsch reshaped Army HQ’
  33. And therefore the Chinese Army entered in this area on September 8, 1962 to take back control of ‘their own territory’.
  34. The Report called for a thorough probe into the sources of the leaks.
  35. The Telegraph, The Vatican opens its Secret Archives to dispel Dan Brown myths, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/7772108/The-Vatican-opens-its-Secret-Archives-to-dispel-Dan-Brown-myths.html
  36. Dhawan, Himanshi, The Times of India, August 28, 2009.
  37. While in the 1950’s, bureaucrats worried about how the Indo-British relations would be affected, today they use the relations with China as a pretext.
  38. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Information Commissioner M.L. Sharma were on the Bench.
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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Claude Arpi

Writes regularly on Tibet, China, India and Indo-French relations. He is the author of 1962 and the McMahon Line Saga, Tibet: The Lost Frontier and Dharamshala and Beijing: the negotiations that never were.

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8 thoughts on “1962 War: Why keep Henderson Brooks report secret?

  1. The army has been behind its withholding. The command failure has been discussed at length in the Henderson Brook report.

    There is nothing to be gained by discussing it. India lost the battle at many levels including political but more specifically at the military level. All these generals including Kaul, Thapar, Umrao Singh, LP Sen failed the common company commander, who was at the receiving end of the orders.

    As I said before, had Brigadier Hoshiar Singh held his post at SELA for three days more and not abandoned the fortress or he had sent a battalion to guard the back done entry of Bailey Trail, the Chinese hungry and out of ammunition would be surrendering to Indian troops.

    The above happened at other places including Twang, Bomdila and other places.

    The political masters failed with bad judgement. The military masters failed at the command level.

    The Henderson Brook report would lay it bare, which the army does not wish to happen. I do not blame them. They have given a good account of themselves in 1965, 1967 (Nathula), 1971 and more recently in 1999.

  2. I do agree with the comments of K Khorana. However, I do feel that the report should be released so as to identify mistakes and institute timely corrective interventions. I agree that while judging decisions, the context in which they were taken must be considered. However it would be extremely difficult to paint a favourable picture of General Kaul howsoever hard one may try!

  3. I think the establishment resists its release to “protect” the Nehru-family from the resultant fall-out as Nehru may then be held responsible for many more blunders that he committed as our first PM. This will adversely effect interests of those who run the establishment today.
    It has taken Wajahat Habibullah rather long to discover the capabilities of military brass during the 62 war. He perused the report and went with the establishment as CIC when in office a couple of years ago but made no comment.

  4. The fact is that the Report concerns the Army more than the politicians.

    Lt Gen HB, (then a Corps Commander) and Prem Bhagat (then a Brig), were not in a position to comment on the government or its grand strategy and failures.

    Then problem was/is that the failure of the Army also reflects failure and incompetence of the government. The politicians in that sense are more sensitive than the Army…..To them, lessons are less important than political survival!

  5. Frankly, hoo-haa about Henderson-Brooks Report is all a tamasha. The report is irrelevant today. In any case, if still curiosity needs satisfaction, read two books (Indias China War by Maxwell and Himalayan Blunder by Brig John Dalvi) and you can write your own H-B Report!!

    It would e fair to say that failures should throw up lessons for future NOT scapegoats for any kind of cover up. Decisions were taken in certain set of circumstances, political and economic, prevalent in the country at the time.

    It’s so easy to sit in comfort of an air conditioned library and indict personalities of that era.

  6. The answer lies in our national motto: Satameva Jayate. The truth MUST be known. Unless we know what happened (and to a lesser degree who did what) history may well repeat itself. Any witch-hunt would be impractical since many, or most, of the dramatis personae would have transited into Eternity. But the shortfalls in the system can certainly be rectified.

  7. Everybody knows that Neville Maxwell was a communist and had a history of communist leanings. His book is considerably anti-India because he was fundamentally pro-China in is communist outlook. Whereas, India’s China War has some good insights, it cannot be trusted fully as a reliable or credible document.

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