NEW DELHI: Victories in battle generally carry more resonance than defeats but that’s the odd thing. Most Indians, even those of the current generation, know about India’s defeat in the 1962 war against China. But the Nathu-La/Cho La face off in 1967 evokes little response even though India came off better in those encounters. In the inaugural edition of Books Corner, StratNews Global talks to Probal Dasgupta whose book Watershed 1967: India’s Forgotten Victory Over China, throws light on the fierce gun battles and artillery duels in this remote corner of the Sikkim Himalayas.
The Chinese initiated it, evidently thinking India would succumb in the manner it did in 1962, but that didn’t happen. Dasgupta’s account is rich in detail, documenting the fight back by the Indian army and the role of humble sepoys like Timjong Lama. He credits Gen. Sagat Singh for rejecting the advice of his superiors to pull back his troops from the Nathu-La heights. That sage decision accounts for the tactical advantage India enjoys in this sector today. Dasgupta also believes Nathu-La convinced the Chinese not to take India at face value any more.
A book of this kind has been long in coming and all credit to Dasgupta who was able to trace some of the survivors of those battles living in obscurity all over the country. This book is a tribute to them, to their belief in themselves, and the training that helped them overcome the psychological effects of 1962. Dasgupta, if you haven’t already guessed it, is a former Gorkha Rifles officer. He did not serve at that time but credit to him, he was able to piece together diverse strands and people to bring you this, his first book. Yeh dil mange more!