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The Indian General Staff Is Equally to Blame for India Being Reduced to a Second Class Power Against China

Updated on November 2, 2018


War is a subject of study and it's closely entwined with politics. No wonder Clausewitz had stated that war is an extension of the political aim. This simple axiom was lost on most of India's political leaders right from the time of Nehru and even now Narendra Modi. One wonders whether these worthies had ever read world history which is basically a study of war all the years around. Yet after 1947, India was found wanting and the mantle of a great power which had been conferred by the British rule was thrown away for pacifism and the result is what we see. When the British ruled India, it was the paramount power and Tibet was kept independent as a buffer state. Alas, all this was thrown away inside 2 years by that worthy Jawaharlal Nehru. History will not absolve this man for the blunders he committed. The matter did not end with Nehru but the leadership that followed him was also influenced by pacifism and considered the army as an unnecessary appendage and the result was that the Indian state became like what Churchill had said about Italy" the soft underbelly of the Axis". In this case, we can substitute Axis with Asia.

Changing Scenario

The present scenario is disconcerting. What do we see now? there is an antagonistic and hostile Pakistan which has nuclear weapons and maintains the 7th largest army in the world on the Indian western border. One can remember in 4 wars the Indian army has never been able to subdue the Pakistan army in the west and to the chagrin of military analysists Lahore city, just 20 km from the border was never captured. So much for the fighting ability of the Indian army. True they thwarted the Pak offensive, but the lack of a strategic sense has let India down.

In the north China, the world's no 2 superpower looms like a dragon. It has gobbled up Tibet, thanks to Nehru and occupied 30,000 square miles in Ladakh thanks again to Nehru and also claims the entire Arunachal Pradesh as part of China.

The Chinese had a border war with India that humiliated the Indian state in 1962 and the top Indian generalship, to say the least, was incompetent. Men like General Thapar the COAS had no clue how to fight a war and just let the nation down. Worse right from the time of the General Cariappa the army chiefs of staff never put up a single paper or study to assess the Chinese threat. There was one exception; a paper put up by Lt Gen Kulwant Singh about China's intentions but Nehru superseded the general.

This is a grave dereliction of duty and though the decision makers are the political leaders, yet the inputs have to come from the army general staff, which never came. The general's content to have 4-star cars to ride in let the Indian nation down. Professionalism so necessary in a force was lacking. Most of the generals right from the time of Marshal Cariappa to the present COAS have been content to tow the government line, even if it affects the morale of troops and officers.

India Encircled

After 70 years of so-called freedom from the Raj, the situation in Asia is not conducive to India. Now Nepal also is bending towards China as can be seen with the Nepalese army carrying out joint exercises along with the Chinese army. This was expected as Nepal cannot afford to antagonize China and to rely on India to the Nepalese mind would be folly as India just does not have the will or the where with all to counter China. So the Nepalese have bent in the direction of the wind and at the same time shown that the boss in Asia is China, irrespective of what Modi may say.

Even lowly Lanka routinely arrests hundreds of fishermen and all New Delhi can do is make some small noises. Nobody takes India as a power to reckon with when it comes to brass tacks. Alistair Mclean wrote " Fear is the Key", that dictates the political and military leadership. India is now facing an insurgency in Kashmir and the North East while 30% of Central India is under control of the Maoists. This is not something to be proud off and one wonders where will India go from here?

Bangladesh which was given independence by Indian arms has for long harbored separatists from Assam and the tribal areas. In addition, an ISIS-inspired local insurgency is targeting Hindus and yet the Indian state is powerless.

Last Word

The failure of the general staff to give inputs is particularly galling. Even Sam Maneckshaw the soldier of soldiers let matters slide when the civil government curtailed the perks and pension of the army. If one does such things to a force that is to be an extension of the political aim, woe betides such a nation. The general staff is as guilty as the political leadership in failing to alert the Indian nation. Considering that in China in 1948 not even a bicycle was manufactured while India was at takeoff stage in Industry this relegation to a second power status in Asia can only harm India in the long run.


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