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Superpowers and the Subcontinent


K.N. Ramachandran

SINO-INDIAN CONFLICT AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS IN INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT 1962-66
By T. Karki Hussain
Thompson Press India, 1977, pp. 190, Rs. 40.00

VOLUME III NUMBER 5 March/April 1979

The metamorphosis of Sino-Indian interaction into a developing adversary relationship from 1959 onwards and the climax of this process which was reached in 1962, when Peking resorted to a mili­tary option and out-manoeuvred  New Delhi in a border war, has been a sub­ject of study from several points of view, both by Indian and foreign scholars. There are books and monographs on the political aspects, the Indian Parliamentary attitudes, soldiers' accounts and on the dimensions of the border issue itself. The book under review seeks to analyse the ‘international aspect’ taking into account the roles of the United States and the Soviet Union and the impact of the con­flict on Indo-Pak relations, during the years 1962-66. It is a study of a limited period and the five-page post-script is apparently a customary sum-up to pro­vide a: semblance of completeness to a Ph.D. thesis converted into a book. What is useful in this study is the analysis of superpower attitudes and res­ponses to the conflict and its aftermath in both a bilateral and sub-continental framework. In this exercise the author has made good use of documents, memoirs and official records and impor­tant secondary sources. As regards the US attitudes and res­ponses, the author holds the view—with some justification—that its framework in evaluating changes and responding to situations has a sub-continental emphasis with its overall anti-communist stance. The author has premised her analysis on this basis. Thus the US denouncement of the Chinese invasion of India in 1962, and the providing of limited military aid to India without pressurizing India into reorienting its non-alignment towards the West reflected both regional and global concern. They constituted, in the con­text of the sub-continent, only peripheral changes, the author says. For, the US did not seek to alter the Indo-Pak bal­ance, and at the same time sought a limited military presence without isola­ting the Soviet Union as it assessed that challenging Soviet presence would have only contributed to the slowing down of the acrimonious Sino-Soviet dispute. The author is right in saying that in the US view the Chinese objective on the border was a limited one, and hence limited US responses. The US took a similar posture vis-a-vis China in 1965 during the Indo­-Pak war when Peking made a political intervention. This is only part of the story, it appears. For one may argue ...


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