Sino-India war of 1962

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  • India was unexpectedly attacked on October 20, 1962 in what famously came to be known as Sino-India war of 1962.
  • On October 20, 1962, China’s People’s Liberation Army invaded India in Ladakh, and across the McMahon Line in the then North-East Frontier Agency
  • Till the start of the war, the Indian side was confident that war would not be started and made little preparations.
  • Thinking this, India deployed only two divisions of troops in the region of the conflict, while the Chinese troops had three regiments positioned
  • On the first day, the Chinese infantry also launched an attack from the rear. The continued losses forced the Indian troops to escape to Bhutan
  • When the Indian army discovered that a Chinese force gathered in a pass, it opened fire with mortars and machine guns and killed about 200 Chinese soldiers
  • The Sino-Indian War is notable for the harsh mountain conditions under which much of the fighting took place, entailing large-scale combat at altitudes of over 4,000 metres (14,000 feet).
  • The Sino-Indian War was also noted for the non-deployment of the navy or air force by either the Chinese or Indian side
  • It is noteworthy that the buildup and offensive from China occurred concurrently with the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis (16–28 October 1962) that saw both the United States and the Soviet Union confronting each other, and India did not receive assistance from either of these world powers until the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved.
  • The belief of not ever being attacked by China did not let the Indian army prepare and the result was the standoff between 10,000-20,000 Indian troops and 80,000 Chinese troops. The war continued for about a month and ended on November 21, 1962 after China declared a ceasefire.

What were the reasons?

  • A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role.
  • There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, when India had granted asylum to the Dalai Lama.
  • India initiated a Forward Policy in which it placed outposts along the border, including several north of the McMahon Line, the eastern portion of a Line of Actual Control proclaimed by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1959.

What was Forward Policy?

  • According to James Barnard Calvin of the U.S. Navy, in 1959, India started sending Indian troops and border patrols into disputed areas. This program created both skirmishes and deteriorating relations between India and China.
  • The aim of this policy was to create outposts behind advancing Chinese troops to interdict their supplies, forcing them north of the disputed line. There were eventually 60 such outposts, including 43 north of the McMahon Line, to which India claimed sovereignty.
  • China viewed this as further confirmation of Indian expansionist plans directed towards Tibet.
  • At the beginning of 1961, Nehru appointed General B. M. Kaul as army Chief of General Staff,but he refused to increase military spending and prepare for a possible war.
  • According to the Indian official history, implementation of the Forward Policy was intended to provide evidence of Indian occupation in the previously unoccupied region through which Chinese troops had been advancing.
  • Kaul was confident, through contact with Indian Intelligence and CIA information that China would not react with force.
  • Indeed, at first the PLA simply withdrew, but eventually Chinese forces began to counter-encircle the Indian positions which clearly encroached into the north of McMahon Line. This led to a tit-for-tat Indian reaction, with each force attempting to outmanoeuver the other.
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