March 19th, 2009 - 6:31 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh

I. Ramamohan Rao

Book Review. Dragons Shadow over Arunachal
By R.D. Pradhan (Rupa & Co) 192 pages

Nehru could never live down the wrong judgment he made about Chinese intentions to wage war against India in 1962. He died on May 27, 1964, a disillusioned man bequeathing the border issue to his successors.

Much water has flown down the Brahmaputra since then. (Incidentally, the author points out that Brahmaputra is one of the very few rivers in India that have a male nomenclature) The Chinese were not able to deflect Indira Gandhi in 1971 when India decided to support the Mukti Bahini in Bangladesh. Over the years, India has gradually strengthened its economy and defences.

There was a distinct change in Chinese attitude towards India after the Sumdrong Chu incident in 1986 when India decided to open a post there in response to Chinese movement in the area. Efforts commenced to persuade Rajiv Gandhi to visit China. The author quotes what Chinese Foreign Minister Wu told H. K. Dua (then working for the Hindustan Times): The objective of talks during Rajiv Gandhis visit could only be to arrive at an agreement on principles. Without such an agreement, he added, no border problem could ever be resolved.

R. D. Pradhan had the opportunity of briefing Rajiv Gandhi before his visit to China. The world witnessed the famous handshake of Deng Xiaoping with Rajiv Gandhi in Beijing in December 1988 followed by remarks to his young friend: Starting with your visit we will restore our relations as friends The agreement on principles were worked out. The Joint Working Group set up then on the boundary question has been meeting ever since over two scores or more times.

The Chinese had agreed in 1988 that the two governments would identify where the Line of Actual Control is located along the Sino-Indian border. There has been no response by China on this matter for over two decades.

China has been laying claims to areas in Arunachal, particularly Tawang. When it faced an international outcry before the Olympic Games, China expressed its appreciation of the Indian approach. The tone changed soon after the conclusion of the games.

R. D. Pradhan points out that India has made the mistake of not developing infrastructure in the North East all these years. The policy changed last year. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Arunachal, called it Our land of the Rising Sun and announced the implementation of projects costing 100 billion rupees.

The Chinese expressed displeasure over Manmohan Singhs remarks, to which Pranab Mukherjee responded by saying that Arunachal was an integral part of India and the Prime Minister did not do anything that was not warranted by announcing schemes for the development of the region.

The author points out that unless we are careful we may find the Dragon occupying physically the space in the north east. And the people of Arunachal face the threat.

One only wished there were more Governors who took their tasks as seriously as Ram Pradhan did.

I. Ramamohan Rao, March 19, 2009. email:

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