Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jaswant Singh said on Thursday that mistakes in understanding and management of border issues resulted in the 1962 Sino-Indian war and later territorial disputes with Pakistan.
Errors in domestic policy matters would be corrected in a lifetime but mistakes with regard to foreign policy issues would take generations to be corrected, he said delivering a lecture on “borders and national security” in memory of K. Subrahmanyam at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) here.
To a query on trauma suffered by the country in 1962, Mr. Singh said: “The country has not entirely come out of the trauma suffered in the wake of the 1962 India-China war. Psychologically, not entirely… we have to reverse that and for that we require robust leadership. The [robust] leadership is absent in India today.”
Asked about deployment of military personnel around Indian territory by China, Mr. Singh said: “India is a nation and it cannot be surrounded by armed forces of another country. However, it makes little sense for China to go to war with India.”
The BJP MP, who has authored 19 books, said: “There are mistakes in the understanding and management of our borders that led to stand-off as in the case of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Except Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, all major Indian States have international borders – either sea or territory — with other countries. “Demarcation of India’s borders with present Bangladesh is totally arbitrary.”
Acknowledging the arbitrary demarcation, the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to Sir Cyril Radcliffe, British jurist, who drew the demarcation line between India and Pakistan upon the partition of India, Mr. Singh said.
The Radcliffe Line was announced on August 17, 1947 as a boundary demarcation.
On India-Pakistan relations during the NDA regime and now, Mr. Singh said: “We have to work continuously with that country to maintain peaceful relations. Pakistan is becoming a problem to themselves not because of India, but because of themselves.”
Referring to the Bangladeshi migrants’ issue that caused conflict in Assam recently, the BJP leader said the problem could be resolved by introducing green cards. “The green card would take away the fear of geographic migration and would give some kind of a status to what we call illegal migrants.”
On the merits of the green card, Mr. Singh said it would enable Indians to go to Bangladesh and Bangladeshis to come to India, not necessarily to settle or be an electorate. He favoured holding weekly markets across the borders.