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Sino-Indian Border Issue: Some Thoughts

Some questions raised on the subject and my answers to them, are given below:

Q: If Tawang is handed over to China, (as Sudetenland was presented to Hitler in 1938 under the terms of the infamous Munich Pact), do you think the Chinese will be satisfied?

A: Chinese rulers are not Hitlers. They have evolved from where they were in 1948 to 1971 when they linked arms with an arch capitalist, to market socialism, to globalisation, to WTO and to modernity. They have kept their word wherever they have given it — to the British on Hong Kong, for example. So, let’s not keep harking back to 1930s or 1960s. I can bet a million dollars that if the give-and-take on border is based on acceptance by both sides, there will be no repetition of Sudetanland.

Q: And India will then be left free with no further hassles on the border?

A: Inspired leadership is what keeps relations between two countries going. Imagination, innovation, intuition — are what constitute inspired leadership. Remember, when I say this, I was myself head of the Political & Security Policy Planning in the Home Ministry in 1961-70 and dealt with the security and political fallout of Chinese invasion and was a member of the War Publicity Group presided over by Indira Gandhi for charting the psykewar campaigns against China. Remember also, I dealt with issues arising from North-Eastern insurgency.

Q: Will China tolerate an India which is growing fast enough to become a power almost equal to itself in world affairs? At some point in the future will it not try to give a crushing blow to India’s aspirations by trying to occupy some more territory in Arunachal or esewhere on the border forcibly and humilate India as in 1962 so that it need not fear the rise of India for another half a century!

A: No country can put a full stop to any other country’s growth. We are megalomaniacal in thinking that China is in constant dread of us and is perpetually scheming to hurtle us down the precipice. Here again, compared to the time we are giving in our heightened sense of India-centric self-conceit to what we presume to be China’s obsession with India, the amount of time China is giving to India must be minuscule. It has other matters to occupy its mind. It is going about its business as it considers best. Let us go about ours as we deem best and no harm will come to either.

(The writer, Mr B.S.Raghavan, is a retired officer of the Indian Administrative Service, former Adviser to the UN and Chief Secretary to the Governments of West Bengal and Tripura. He is presently the Patron of the Chennai Centre for China studies. The views expressed are his own.

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