Such was the economy practised in sharing information with the public, the media, and even the parliament, and such was the economy with truth in Nehru’s democratic India that the blame for debacle in the India-China War came not on Nehru, the principal person responsible, but on Menon. Such was the ignorance of the opposition that Kriplani and others asked Nehru to take over the defence portfolio from Menon! The poor fellows had no idea that the disaster both in the foreign policy and in the defence was actually thanks to Nehru. Menon was only a protégé of Nehru, did his bidding, and became Defence Minister only in 1957.

Krishna Menon was reluctantly made the scapegoat. COAS Thapar resigned. BM Kaul resigned. But, not Nehru. Wrote Brigadier JP Dalvi in his book ‘Himalayan Blunder’:
“When the inevitable disaster came Nehru did not even have grace or courage to admit his errors or seek a fresh mandate from the people. He did not even go through the motion of resigning; he merely presented his trusted colleagues and military appointees as sacrificial offerings…
“Instead of gracefully accepting responsibility for erroneous policies, the guilty men sought alibis and scapegoats. In any developed democracy the Government would have been replaced, instead of being allowed to continue in office and sit in judgement on their subordinates…
“We must also learn that a democracy has no room for proven failures. This is not a matter of sentiment. Mr Chamberlain was removed after Hitler invaded France in May 1940 with Cromwell’s classic plea, ‘For God’s sake, go’. Mr Anthony Eden was forced out of office after the disastrous Suez adventure of 1956…”

Not only that, Nehru was not even willing to remove the Defence Minister Krishna Menon. Nehru told Yashwant Rao Chavan who had come to Delhi to attend a meeting of the Chief Ministers: “You see, they want Menon’s blood. If I agree, tomorrow they will ask for my blood.”

Finding it difficult to resist pressure, Nehru played his old game of a threat of his own resignation. Nehru had threatened to resign on several earlier occasions to have his way safe in the knowledge that people would back off. But, not this time. When he found that the trick won’t work and he himself would have to go, he quickly backed off and asked Menon to resign. Meanwhile Indira Gandhi had approached Vice-President Zakir Hussain to persuade her father to drop Menon, as that was the only way to appease the enraged public and the media. Nehru actually remonstrated with those who criticised him, and later even took revenge against some! For example, Dharampal, a highly regarded thinker-scholar and author who had addressed an open letter to Nehru critical of the humiliating 1962-war debacle was jailed by Nehru (Blunder#97).

Here is Israel and Golda Meir’s example, in sharp contrast to that of India and Nehru’s:
After its decisive victory against the joint Egypt-Syria-Jordan-Iraq army in 1967 in the Six-Day War, following its victories in 1948 at the time of its birth, and later, Israel was a little laid back and unprepared, thinking Arabs wouldn’t dare attack again. Also because Israel had nuclear weapons by then to deter the Arabs. The attack of 1973 therefore came as a surprise to it. In 1973, Yom Kipper, the holiest day of the year for the Jews, fell on 6 October. It is on that day when Israel and the Jews the world over were busy observing Yom Kipper that the Egyptian and the Syrian armies launched a surprise attack against Israel in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights respectively. Still, after the initial setbacks and panic, it rose to the challenge, and repelled the combined attack, emerging triumphant. The war came to be known as the Yom Kipper War.

Golda Meir was the president then. Even though Israel’s ultimate victory was spectacular and decisive, they immediately instituted an enquiry to fix responsibility for the initial setbacks and the panic reaction, and the lapses that led to the attack coming as a surprise. The preliminary report took just a few months and was released on April 2, 1974—it actually named names of those responsible. Several top-ranking staff were asked to resign. Golda Meir was not named, but taking overall responsibility, she resigned on April 10, 1974—after mere eight days of release of the report, which was only a preliminary report! This, even though Israel, under Golda Meir, had actually won the war decisively and turned the tables on the Arab countries that had attacked them!

Contrast the above with Nehru and India. Even though India lost pathetically in the 1962 India-China War, Nehru government instituted no enquiry; and Nehru did not even make a gesture of an offer to resign. What was the alibi offered to the gullible public? The nation was told that the borders were well-settled, and that the unprovoked attack from China was what the innocent India got for doing all the good to China. Even Rajaji, otherwise in opposition to Nehru by then, blamed it on the treachery of the Chinese. Perhaps, at that time Rajaji did not know all the facts. You do a Himalayan blunder, but you receive sympathy—Nehru, the poor chap, was stabbed in the back by the Chinese! How publicised misinformation can turn the scales.

Everyone remembers a popular song of those times penned by poet Pradeep and sung by Lata Mangeshkar. It went like this: “Aai mere watan ke logo, jara aankh me bhar lo paani, jo shaheed hue hai unki, jara yaad karo kurbani. ..” The song is invariably played on August 15 every year. Lata told in an interview when she had sung that song in Nehru’s presence, Nehru had wept! So sensitive was he!! Again, additional praise. But, who was responsible for his own tears and tears in the eyes of crores of Indians, in the first place? Had sensible policies been followed, this huge tragedy that befell the nation, and the consequent tears, could have been avoided.

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