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A few lessons from Mr Shourie

A few lessons from Mr Shourie is an edited extract from Arun Shourie's forthcoming book Are We Deceiving Ourselves Again?

books Updated: May 21, 2012 15:03 IST
ASA/Rupa

* Do not take the burdens of the world on your shoulders. Attend foremost to what concerns your country directly.

* If you are not able to do anything at one turn, build up your capacity so that you are not helpless at the next one: that we could not do anything when the Chinese first invaded Tibet is no excuse for not having prepared ourselves in the years that followed.

* Do not be carried away by welcomes and the eemotional upheavalsf that you see on fleeting visits. Be as wary of the earnestness of a Zhou Enlai acting the eager student. He is not waiting for your instruction. He is playing on your vanity to fool you.

* It is ruinous for a country when its leaders insist on being unilaterally friendly and trusting of those who control a potential adversary.

* Do not expect a China to be grateful because you have championed its cause.

* Never take its silence to be consent.

* Nor its ambiguous word: remember the. statements they kept making about the maps being old, and their not having had the time to correct them.

* Nor indeed its consent. Not even if that consent is in writing: no compunction restrained China from repudiating the 17-point Agreement with Tibet 50 years ago, just as no compunction has restrained it now from brushing aside the principles and 'political parameters' that were agreed for the settling the border question.

*You must recognise the danger as long in advance as it would take to institute the measures that are required to meet it; it did little good to see in mid-1962 the danger that Chinese forces posed.

* Rushing troops around at the last minute, buying weapons at the last minute, learning how to counter new types of warfare at the last minute. All this has to be done when the avalanche descends, but by then it is of little use. Nor does the emotion and enthusiasm with which people respond to aggression save the country. The emotion and enthusiasm are indispensable. But they are no substitute for having prepared oneself in the years that precede the onslaught. As Clausewitz would say, "The best strategy is always to be very strong". Both terms are equally important: "always" as well as "very strong".

* What is lost can seldom be recovered. As we have seen, the Resolution that Panditji moved in Parliament and which the Parliament adopted unanimously said in conclusion: gWith hope and faith, this House affirms the firm resolve of the Indian people to drive out the aggressor from the sacred soil of India, however long and hard the struggle may be.

* Who will today insist that the Chinese be driven out from the area in Aksai Chin that they have usurped?

* Do not pose the question as "all or nothing". The choice that the other fellow sees is not "war or peace", but "limited war", "proxy war", "the violence of peace".

* Never underplay what the adversary has done. This was the fatal flaw. Panditji had insisted China would not act aggressively. It did. Panditji kept minimising what China was doing. He started exculpating them. He, in fact, started justifying what they were doing in part because he had insisted it would not act that way, and in part because he still did not want to take the steps that the actions of China demanded.

* Be alert. Memorise the delusions of 1949-1962. Memorise the warnings that were ignored. That cannot be done by reading a bare "list of lessons" but by diligently ploughing through the record of the time.

This is an edited extract from Arun Shourie's forthcoming book Are We Deceiving Ourselves Again? (ASA/Rupa)