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A Brief History


S.S. Bhattacharya

THE HIMALAYA AS A FRONTIER
By Ram Rahul
Vikas, New Delhi, 1978, pp. 154, Rs. 36.00

VOLUME III NUMBER 5 March/April 1979

The title of this book is something of a misnomer. After India and China clashed in 1962 to establish their respec­tive claims over their frontiers in the Himalayas interested scholars in their quest to find out the truth about the different claims started vigorous research to trace out the history of the Sino-­Indian frontier in the Himalayan region at least since the Simla Conference of 1914 when the boundary between Tibet and North East India was settled. Profes­sor Ram Rahul has neither mentioned anything about the origin of the McMahon Line nor the subsequent events that resulted in the 1962 war. How can a book on The Himalaya as a Frontier be deemed complete without any reference to the Sino-Indian border claims and conflicts? One would have expected the author to provide a comprehensive ac­count of the vital and strategic roles played by the Himalayas as a zone of contact, barriers and tensions between two Asian powers in the region. Alternately, the author could have analysed under this topic how different powers in this region played their geo-political roles to preserve and enhance their political, eco­nomic, social and military interests throughout different periods of history with the Himalayan ecological back­ground. The author has dwelt briefly in the history of Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan without adding much to his Himalayan Border Land (Vikas, 1969) and ignored altogether the Himalayan regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Hima­chal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Aruna­chal Pradesh, where Himalayas form the frontier of India. Under these circum­stances, the appropriate title of the book would have been A Brief History of Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan. As the early history of Sikkimand Bhutan is still obscure it would have been much more useful if the author had made an attempt to enlighten us on the missing links of the early history of the Himalayan States. Similarly, the work would have been more valuable if some new data on the history of this re­gion in the latter period had been added for there is no dearth of material on the subject. Professor Rahul's description and classification of the Himalayas are not scientific and unknown to the geogra­phers. His assessment that ‘the central crest of the Himalaya has always served as an impregnable barrier, a mighty wall between Tibet in the north and India, Bhutan and Nepal in the south’ is not ...


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