The political ferment, socio-economic and cultural confusion in the North-eastern region of India as a whole in the ominous context of abrupt occupation of Tibet by China in October 1950 and their immediate and future implications for national security were all clearly understood and foreseen by Sardar Vallabai Patel with clairvoyant vision just five weeks before his death when he wrote to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 7 November, 1950 :
'Let us also consider the political conditions on this potentially troublesome frontier. Our northern and north-eastern approaches consist of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling and the tribal areas in Assam. From the point of view of communication, there are weak spots. Continuous defensive lines do not exist. There is almost an unlimited scope for infiltration. Police protection is limited to a very small number of passes. There, too, our outposts do not seem to be fully manned. The contact of these areas with us is by no means close and intimate. The people inhabiting these portions have no established loyalty or devotion to India. Even Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas are not free from pro-Mongoloid prejudices. During the last three years, we have not been able to make any appreciable approaches to the Nagas and other hill tribes in Assam. European missionaries and other visitors had been in touch with them, but their influence was in no way friendly to India or Indians. In Sikkim, there was political ferment some time ago. It is quite possible that discontent is smoldering there. Bhutan is comparatively quiet, but its affinity with Tibetans would be a handicap. Nepal has a weak oligarchic regime based almost entirely on force: it is in conflict with a turbulent element of the population as well as with enlightened ideas of the modern age. In these circumstances, to make people alive to the new danger or to make them defensively strong is a very difficult task indeed and that difficulty can be got over only by enlightened firmness, strength and a clear line of policy. I am sure the Chinese and their source of inspiration, Soviet Union, would not miss any opportunity of exploiting these weak spots, partly in support of their ideology and partly in support of their ambitions.
In my judgement the situation is one which we cannot afford either to be complacent or to vacillating. We must have a clear idea of what we wish to achieve and also of the methods by which we should achieve it. Any faltering or lack of decisiveness in formulating our objectives or in pursuing our policies to attain those objectives is bound to weaken us and increase the threats which are so evident.
'Side by side with these external dangers, we shall now have to face serious internal problems as well. I have already asked H V R Iyengar to send to the External Affairs Ministry a copy of the Intelligence Bureau's appreciation of these matters. Hitherto, the Communist Party of India had found some difficulty in contacting communists abroad, or in getting supplies of arms, literature, etc., from them. They had to contend with the difficult Burmese and Pakistan frontiers on the east or with the long seaboard. They shall now have a comparatively easy means of access to Chinese communists and through them to other foreign communists. Infiltration of spies, fifth columnists and communists would now be easier. Instead of having to deal with isolated communist pockets in Telengana and Warrangal we may have to deal with communist threats to our security along our northern and north-eastern frontiers, where, for supplies of arms and ammunition, they can safely depend on communist arsenals in China. The whole situation thus raises a number of problems on which we must come to an early decision so that we can, as I said earlier, formulate the objectives of our policy and decide the method by which those objectives are to be attained. It is also clear that the action will have to be fairly comprehensive, involving not only our defence strategy and state of preparations but also problem of internal security to deal with which we have not a moment to lose. We shall also have to deal with administrative and political problems in the weak spots along the frontier to which I have already referred.
It is of course, impossible to be exhaustive in setting out all these problems. I am, however, giving below some of the problems which, in my opinion, require early solution and round which we have to build our administrative or military policies and measures to implement them.
A military and intelligence appreciation of the Chinese threat to India both on the frontier and to internal security.
An examination of military position and such re-disposition of our forces as might be necessary, particularly with the idea of guarding important routes or areas which are likely to be the subject of dispute.
An appraisement of the strength of our forces and, if necessary, reconsideration of our retrenchment plans for the Army in the light of the new threat.
A long-term consideration of our defence needs. My own feeling is that, unless we assure our supplies of arms, ammunition and armor, we would be making our defence perpetually weak and we would not be able to stand up to the double threat of difficulties both from the west and north-west and north and north-east.
The question of China's entry into the UN. In view of the rebuff which China has given us and the method which it has followed in dealing with Tibet, I am doubtful whether we can advocate its claim any longer. There would probably be a threat in the UN virtually to outlaw China, in view of its active participation in the Korean war. We must determine our attitude on this question also.
The political and administrative steps which we should take to strengthen our northern and north-eastern frontier. This would include the whole of the border, i.e. Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling and the tribal territory in Assam.
Measures of internal security in the border areas as well as the states flanking those areas such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal and Assam.
Improvement of our communication, road, rail, air and wireless, in these areas and with the frontier outposts.
The future of our mission at Lhasa and the trade posts at Gyangtse and Yatung and the forces which we have in operation in Tibet to guard the trade routes.
The policy in regard to the McMahon Line.
These are some of the questions which occur to my mind. It is possible that a consideration of these matters may lead us into wider question of our relationship with China, Russia, America, Britain and Burma. This, however, would be of a general nature, though some might be basically very important, e.g., we might have to consider whether we should not enter into closer association with Burma in order to strengthen the latter in its dealings with China. I do not rule out the possibility that, before applying pressure on us, China might apply pressure on Burma. With Burma, the frontier is entirely undefined and the Chinese territorial claims are more substantial. In its present position, Burma might offer an easier problem to China, and therefore, might claim its first attention.
I suggest that we meet early to have a general discussion on these problems and decide on such steps as we might think to be immediately necessary and direct, quick examination of other problems with a view to taking early measures to deal with them'.
What was the considered response of Jawaharlal Nehru to this letter from Sardar Patel? Trapped in the deluded hallucination of triple synchronization – conceptual confusion, technical incompetence and transcendental human failure – Nehru wrote back to Sardar Patel on 18 November, 1950:
'We cannot save Tibet, as we should have liked to do, and our very attempt to save it might well bring greater trouble to it. It would be unfair to Tibet for us to bring this trouble upon her without having the capacity to help her effectively. It may be possible, however, that we might be able to help Tibet to retain a large measure of her autonomy.'
Perhaps, Montaigne had political 'buffoons' like Nehru in view when he wrote with biting sarcasm: 'No man is exempt from talking nonsense. The misfortune is to do it solemnly.' Solemn and secular nonsense often dished out with supreme love for himself and unconcealed contempt for others, based on his love for Russia and China, became the warp and woof of his socio-economic policy after independence.
Sardar Vallabai Patel passed away on 15, December 1950. With a sense of great political relief, Jawaharlal Nehru, guided by his bosom friend and communist fifth columnist Krishna Menon, cast aside the sage-like advice of Sardar Vallabai Patel, with supreme contempt. At that point of time, Nehru as a petty politician was interested only in clinging to his office of Prime Minister. He thought that he had politically outwitted and checkmated Sardar Vallabai Patel. Indeed Nehru seems to have been little worried about either the security of India or the survival of India as a nation.
Sardar Vallabai Patel was a stark realist. Quite unlike mercenary Nehru in post-independent India, Patel was a true patriot with no private agenda for his family and his successors! Nehru's attitude towards Patel was guided by his own favorite philosophy: 'China is a communist country. It can do nothing wrong. Sardar Patel is an obscurantist and aggressive Hindu and he can do nothing right – now or for ever'.
Sardar Patel was fully vindicated in 1962 when China invaded India. Even after this dastardly invasion, Nehru stuck to his post of Prime Minister in a shameless manner, only to lose his soul if he had any, for ever and ever.
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