Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Himalayan Blunder ~ Book - Military History

‘The fame of this Division will surely go down as one of the greatest fighting formations in military history, to be spoken of with such as The Tenth Legion, The Light Division of the Peninsular War & Napoleon's Old Guard’ - Field Marshal Lord Wavell

20th October 2012 has been the 50th Anniversary of Sino-India War; conceivably a dark moment in the Indian History. After a long time I was able to read one of the most controversial memoir on 1962’s conflict with China. ‘Himalayan Blunder’ by Brigadier John P Dalvi provides us first hand account on the exploits of the Indian 7th Infantry & its destiny that would be sealed during the battle of Namka Chu Valley during Chinese offense.

‘This kindergarten homily was, & remains, the most humiliating moment of my seven month captivity & indeed of my life. That night I experienced a wave of bitter shame for my country.’ - Brig. J. P. Dalvi

Military history enthusiast will find this book engaging as well as riveting. Regrettably present Indian cohort hardly takes interest on armed conflicts which have been accountable for building our nation as we see it today. There has been lots of conjecture post war on the reason for the crushing defeat of the Indian Army but you would need to read this book to understand the reason for the unforeseen disaster which has been ignored by politicians, analyst as well as military generals who were handpicked based on nepotism rather than sheer combat experience. History hates void, this is perhaps the reason every one needs to understand the fundamental factors which would seal the fate of the Indian Army to catastrophic end thus planting yet another tree in the foreseeable forest of Indian humiliation.

‘We deplaned & were greeted with correct military protocol, tinged with chill reserve. It was only later that I found out that we had to clear ourselves of the charge of having been brainwashed - a strange charge from a government which had itself been brainwashed into championing China’s cause for more than a decade.’ - Brig. J. P. Dalvi

While going though the anecdote you will realize why this book was banned in India almost immediately after its first publication in 1969. Through out the book Dalvi has pointed out how the government has failed to react to all the premonition specified by combat officers on the imminent invasion as well as the pitiable bureaucracy which just worked as a deterrent to alliance between the ministry & the defense personnel who were having actual cause data on the groundwork which China had been doing for years before the fateful invasion in 1962.

‘In Italy, they brought an almost arrogant conviction of invincibility born of their great victories in the western desert.
The matchless, professional excellence of this formation was greatly admired by the Germans - no mean professionals themselves. It is said that General Von Arnim, Commander of the German forces in Tunis in 1943, insisted on surrendering to the 4th. No wonder Chinese were aghast at the poor performance of the famous formation. It is ironic that the fame of this formation is more widely known & respected by the foreigners than by the Indian people. Perhaps this is the price of segregating the Army from the public’ - Excerpt - The Trap Is Baited - Himalayan Blunder

India was expressively ill-equipped for the war of this grandeur; the book gives explicit details on the negligence of the then ruling government under the headship of Jawaharlal Nehru, whose myopic vision on domestic security policy was disastrous resulting to annihilation of legendary 4th Indian Division. History should not be repeated which is why this book should become a mandate for generations to understand who were really answerable, instead of just putting the blame on the armed forces that deserved much more gratitude than they received from Indians.

Final Verdict: Must Read

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