India-China tension: Your reading list for decoding the border dispute

China’s India War: Collision Course on the Roof of the World Bertil Lintner Oxford University Press ₹675  

For the past few months, the eastern India-China border along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has witnessed an escalation of tension, which resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers on June 15. Following the incident, China staked claim to the entire Galwan Valley, a disputed territory in eastern Ladakh.

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The disputes along the borders have been numerous along the decades. Here are six books that can assist you in understanding the origins of the issue and its consequences on the world order.

1) China’s India War: Collision Course on the Roof of the World by Bertil Lintner

The Sino-Indian War of 1962 was, in many ways, a turning point in the India-China relationship, and has coloured the world's perception of India and the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. In his book, Swedish journalist Bertil Lintner argues that the trigger for the war was not the establishment of the Dhola outpost or the arrival of the Dalai Lama in India.

With thorough fieldwork study and research, Lintner shows that China began planning the war as early as 1959 and proposes that it was merely a small move in the larger strategic game that China was playing to become a world player—one that it continues to play even today. Kallol Bhattacherjee, who reviewed this book, termed it a "definite landmark in understanding the Chinese position on the border issue."

2) The McMahon Line – A Century of Discord by J.J. Singh

The McMahon Line, internationally accepted as the border between India and China in the eastern sector, remains a bone of contention between the two countries. In this book, former Chief of the Army Staff J.J. Singh examines the evolution of the boundary and the nuances of British India's Tibet policy from the eighteenth century through to India's Independence, and it’s lasting effect on the India-China relationship.

Singh is extremely critical of the way Jawaharlal Nehru handled China’s reoccupation of Tibet in 1950, writes our International Affairs Editor Stanly Johny who reviewed the book, terming it a "comprehensive account of the thorny Indo-China border row."

3) Fateful Triangle: How China Shaped U.S.-India Relations during the Cold War by Tanvi Madan

Our National Editor Suhasini Haidar suggests three types of books to get a 360-degree look at the Line of Actual Control disputes between India and China - research on the 1962 war, books based on archives of the India-China-US relationship, and those by senior Indian diplomats. Tanvi Madan's Fateful Triangle falls in the second category.

Among other things, Madan points out that the triangle between the U.S.-India-China has always been distended with pulls from two other critical points: the relationship of each of those countries with Russia and Pakistan.

4) Watershed 1967: India’s Forgotten Victory over China by Probal Dasgupta

Written by an ex-Indian Army officer who served in the Gorkha Regiment, Watershed 1967 details two fierce encounters between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) across two 15,000-feet mountain passes in Sikkim in September 1967.

Military historian Arjun Subramaniam, who reviewed the book, called it "well-researched," bringing into focus a turning point in India-China relations.

5) How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century by Shyam Saran

Former diplomat Shyam Saran’s book is a “welcome addition” to reminiscences by former diplomats, writes our reviewer Swaran Singh. The book offers a ringside view of India’s foreign policy, its sometimes prickly relations with neighbours (especially China, Pakistan and the U.S.) and the way forward.

Writing in an easy story-telling style, How India Sees the World reinforces several persistent insinuations and inferences and reveals interesting anecdotes about major episodes of Indian foreign policy using Kautilya’s Arthashastra as a constant reference point.

6) When Nehru Looked East by Francine Fankel

One of the most recent books on former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s foreign policy, When Nehru Looked East provides an account of the origins of India-U.S. suspicions and India-China rivalries.

Outlasting the Cold War, Nehru's worldview lived on in the mindset of successor generations, making it difficult for the US and India to form a strategic partnership and establish a natural balance in Asia, writes its author.

Other reading suggestions include Neville Maxwell’s India’s China Wars; Daulet Singh and Mohan Guruswamy’s India China Relations: The Border Issue and Beyond; Martin Sieff’s Shifting Superpowers: The New and Emerging Relationship Between the United States, China and India; A.G. Noorani’s India-China Boundary Problem, 1846-1947; Shiv Shankar Menon’s Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy; T.N. Kaul’s Diplomacy in Peace and War : Recollections and Reflections, and Maharajakrishna Rasgotra’s A Life in Diplomacy.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 10:11:52 PM |

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