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Mainstream, VOL L No 48, November 17, 2012

The Proclamation of Emergency

Wednesday 21 November 2012


For five years, we have been the victims of Chinese aggression across our frontiers in the north. That aggression was, to begin with, rather furtive. Occasionally there were some incidents and conflicts. These conflicts might well be termed frontier incidents. Today, we are facing a regular and massive invasion of our territory by very large forces….

This strange twist of history has brought us face to face with something that we have not experienced in this way for over a hundred years or more. We had taken it almost for granted that despite some lapses in recent years, as in the Suez affair, we had taken it for granted that this type of aggression was almost a thing of the past. Even the Chinese aggression on our borders during the last five years, bad as it was, and indicative of an expansionist tendency, though it troubled us greatly, hardly led us to the conclusion that China would indulge in a massive invasion of India. Now, we have seen and experienced this very invasion and it has shocked us, as it has shocked a large number of countries.

History has taken a new turn in Asia and perhaps the world, and we have to bear the brunt of it, to fight with all our might this menace to our freedom and integrity. Not only are we threatened by it, but all the standards of international behaviour have been upset and so all the world is affected by it, apart from the immediate consequences. No self-respecting country which loves its freedom and its integrity can possibly submit to this challenge. Certainly, India, this dear land of ours, will never submit to it whatever the consequences. We accept the challenge in all its consequences, whatever they may be….

Even the McMahon Line which the Chinese have called illegal was laid down 48 years ago, in 1914, and that was a confirmation of what was believed in then. Legal or not, it has been a part of India for a long number of years and certainly, let us say, for 50 years or so, apart from its previous history which is also in our favour. Here then is a boundary which for nearly 50 years has been shown to be our northern frontier. I am limiting what I say to 50 years for the sake of argument; really it was even before that. Even if the Chinese did not accept it—and I would like to say that the objection they raised in 1913 to this treaty was not based on their objection to the McMahon Line; it was based on their objection to another part of the treaty which divided Inner Tibet and Outer Tibet, the McMahon Line did not come in that; however, it is a fact that they objected to the whole treaty because of that other objection —even if the Chinese did not accept it then, this has been in existence now in our maps, in our practice, in our Constitution, in our organisation, administration, etc., for nearly 50 years. Even the non-acceptance of it, can it entitle them to undertake an armed invasion to upset it? Even the Chinese know and say that independent India has been in possession of this territory right up to the Himalayan watershed….

Here, I may say, it has been unfortunate, in this as in so many other cases, that the present Government of China is not represented in the United Nations.

Honourable Members are surprised when we have supported the Chinese representation—the representation of the People’s Government of China—in the United Nations. We have supported it in spite of this present invasion, because we have to look at it this way: it is not a question of likes or dislikes. It is a question, which will facilitate Chinese aggression; it will facilitate its misbehavior in the future. It will make disarmament impossible in the world. You might disarm the whole world and leave China, a great, powerful country, fully armed to the teeth. It is inconceivable. Therefore, in spite of our great resentment at what they have done, the great irritation and anger, still, I am glad to say that we kept some perspective about things and supported that even now. The difficulty is one cannot call them up before any tribunal or world court or anywhere. They are just wholly an irresponsible country believing, I believe, in war as the only way of settling anything, having no love of peace and stating almost that, and with great power at their disposal. That is the dangerous state of affairs not only for India but for the rest of the world.…

May I add that there has been a great deal of attack about our unpreparedness? I think most of it is based on ignorance. …

There is always a choice and there has been a choice in this and other matters for us to buy arms from abroad or to make them ourselves. Obviously it is infinitely better to make them ourselves, because that strengthens the country, industrially and otherwise and secondly, you cannot altogether rely on outside supplies; any moment they may fail you and economically it is bad to get them from outside. So, our practice has been to try to build up our arms, the industry and the like in the country and we have done fairly well. We might have done better; I do not know. All kinds of difficulties arise, because the development of one industry depends on the whole industrial background of the country. We have laid stress on that. I would not go into that.

A great deal was said about arms, automatic rifles and the rest. For the last three or four years, we have been trying to make them and various difficulties arose about patents, this, that and the other and sometimes about our own difficulties in finding enough foreign exchange. This has been a continuing difficulty, as to how much we should spend in the shape of foreign exchange. Ultimately, we got over these difficulties and we started their manufacture, I forget the date, but sometime this year and we are now making them.

The only alternative was previously for us to get a large number of those weapons from abroad. We hesitated; we wanted to make them ourselves. Undoubtedly, we could have got them, but remember this. If we had tried to get all those weapons from abroad in what might be called relatively peaceful times, we would have had to spend enormous sums of money.

(A Statement in the Lok Sabha, November 8, 1962)

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