Date: 03 Jan 2009


Here is an article about what happened in 1962. 

Henderson-Brooks report written after the debacle is still under wraps. Apparently, our politicos and babus do not want the nation to learn from history. Their agenda is very simple, they want to avoid exposure of their acts of omission and commision at any cost; and to hell with the nation. Please read on.
Clipped from pragmatic.nationali

 Henderson Brooks report  …the story still simmers while the skeletons have withered away in the cupboard.

In my opinion, it was not really a war. One Indian division had to cover a front of 500 miles. To have a section in position, it was necessary to use the remainder of the platoon to maintain them. The section was only flag flying. When the clash occurred, the unfortunate replacements were not properly clothed or armed and without supporting weapons. They were not acclimatised… On the other hand, the Chinese soldier was… attacking downhill. 

Thus spake Lieutenant General T. Henderson Brooks, who presided over the 1962 Operations Review Committee, and whose report is still classified. [Indo-British Review, Madras : March 1989] 

Rediff had earlier carried a special three-part report [Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3] on the genesis and conduct of the 1962 war by former Times of London correspondent Neville Maxwell. He is the only journalist to have had access to the secret Indian army report, undertaken by Lieutenant General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier P S Bhagat to study the debacle. Maxwell is also the author of India's China War (1970), which provides an insight into the debacle. Claude Arpi, author of The Fate Of Tibet explains the unrecorded history of the report in some detail. 

An Anglo-Indian general called Henderson Brooks was requested to go through the official records and prepare a report on the war. Sometime in 1963, the general presented his study to Nehru and a couple of his ministers. The report was immediately classified 'Top Secret'. 

One can understand that at that time the prime minister did not want the report made to be public, as he may have had to take responsibility for the unpreparedness of the army and, most probably, resign. 

The tragedy is not that the report was 'classified' in 1963, but that it continues to remain classified today. Forty years later, nobody has still seen the report. That is, except for one person: a British foreign correspondent named Neville Maxwell. The rumour is that a senior minister passed on the report to him. 

Neville Maxwell's summary of the background and related facts about the report places the conundrum in context–   

But a series of studies, beginning in the late 1960s and continuing into the 1990s, revealed to any serious enquirer the full story of how the Indian Army was ordered to challenge the Chinese military to a conflict it could only lose. So by now only bureaucratic inertia, combined with the natural fading of any public interest, can explain the continued non-publication - the report includes no surprises and its publication would be of little significance but for the fact that so many in India still cling to the soothing fantasy of a 1962 Chinese 'aggression'. 

It seems likely now that the report will never be released. Furthermore, if one day a stable, confident and relaxed government in New Delhi should, miraculously, appear and decide to clear out the cupboard and publish it, the text would be largely incomprehensible, the context, well known to the authors and therefore not spelled out, being now forgotten. The report would need an introduction and gloss… 

The Indian government's view can be comprehended from the then Defence Minister Y.B. Chavan's statement in the Lok Sabha on September 2, 1963 (almost a year after the war) regarding the Henderson Brooks Report. 

I am sure the House would appreciate that by the very nature of the contents it would not be in the public interest to lay the report on the table of the House. Nor is it possible to attempt even an abridged or edited version of it, consistent with the consideration of security, that would not give an unbalanced or incomplete picture to you … The publication of this report which contains information about the strength and development of our forces and their locations would be of invaluable use to our enemies. It would not only endanger our security but affect the morale of those entrusted with safeguarding the security of our borders.[IE] 

Veteran journalist Kuldeep Nayyar recounts his experiences while trying to unearth the report in the Parliament - 

During my six-year stint in the Rajya Sabha, I requested the government many times to publish the Henderson-Brooks report on the 1962 India-China war. The refusal was firm and consistent. Once, in a reply to my question in Parliament, Defence Minister George Fernandes said that it was not in the ''public interest'' to disclose the contents of the report. 

By keeping the report secret, every rule governing archives has been violated. Under the law, the government cannot withhold such documents beyond 35 years. In the case of the Henderson-Brooks report, as many as 40 years have gone by. Of course, the government can take the cover of ''public interest'' as it did while denying me information on the report. The excuse of public interest cannot be used as a pretext to hold back official reports.[IE] 

The fate of the Henderson-Brooks report is eerily similar to the non-publication of India's war histories. The political angle associated with the higher military directions of the 1962 war has compounded the problem further. A major part of the report or at least the allusions made in the report have been available in the public domain for some time. 

Is Henderson-Brooks report then essentially a non-issue not worth wasting the breath over? Or the search for an official version of the 'truth' a sacrosanct quest by itself? Yes, it is. In this case, the process of getting the establishment to own up and act transparently is as important, if not more, than the sheer outcome - the details contained in the actual report. An official declassification of the report only can avert the national tragedy returning as a farce. Karl Marx prophesied it thus- 

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.____________ ______