Brig. J.P Dalvi gives a clear account of want exactly happened at the India- China war (1962), which was less than a war in his book, “The Himalayan Blunder”. The motivation to read this was reading about VK Krishna Menon , the then Defence Minister of India. The title given is great because it happened in the Himalayas and was a huge (Himalayan) in its very sense.
Even if you one is not into wars and more into peace and freedom of choice resting with peace than something evil as war, a history such as this cannot be ignored. Being prepared, anticipating the possibilities is better than having nothing to defend with than the grandiloquence of peace. As a true Indian nobody would support war. And ministry of defense is truly a matter of defense than offense, compared to other nations.
The author has a nice narrative style. It is unassuming and very explanatory and easy to follow with the map provided. Many place are difficult to pronounce. But the pattern is there. After describing the background of the political and economic situation of a brand new country and the leaders at the top, their chemistry and the Army positions, it is easy to follow the actual events in its sequence, with the dates provided. I do not know if this book is a reference in the Defense department but definitely a good read for an average Indian to learn about what happened at that time. The author acknowledges his situations and challenges in a very comprehensive way. The book becomes easy to follow this way. And what is better than reading a narrative from the man who was in the conditions.
The writing is definitely very humble to have given all the conditions and expectations of the “war” scenario and what made it a blunder. It was also interesting to read about the fame of the 2 Rajputs, 9 Punjabs and 1/9 Gorkhas and 4 Grenadiers during the world war elsewhere. It is always good to know the history and why the NEFA had problem with China is not yet known, other than the Chinese ambitions and disregard for McMohan Line. My understanding is that the fall of Tibet was not anticipated and India was more towards appeasing the west than immediate neighbours, including Tibet and China at that time. It was surprising to note that the army was not trained in Chinese language and the Chinese Army, some of them, knew Hindi. That was a big surprise. Of course, we expect spies in the NEFA(North East Frontier Agency) region and in any war situation the political bias and national affinity matters. I do not know why we had nothing much to learn about this ” Himalayan blunder” or the history of the north-east regions in our textbooks (2004 Kerala State Syllabus or lower classes). We had a good amount of data to learn about the politics of USA, Independence movements in Africa, India & Pakistan, History of Travancore with the background of various kingdoms like Choyha, Chera and Pandya in addition to the Mughals. I am surprised why I was never taught about the North east region except for the names of these states and their capitals.
However, the effort to write the book, is highly appreciated. The very humble factual narrative, assuming responsibilities also suggesting what could have been the case, makes this a history to remember. And now that people who are looking for can easily get access to the situation that was a blunder.