Watershed 1967: India's Forgotten Victory Over China

Probal DasGupta

India and China are two powerful and ambitious modern states, nuclear powers, neighbours and old civilisations with a long history. However, for over fifty years, the sole conflict between the two nations that occupied collective memories is the 1962 India-China war. It was a war which China won and India lost. However, there was another conflict five years later.
   In 1967, India and China fought again, on the heights of Cho La and Nathu La at the India-China border near the Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim. This time, India triumphed. These battles of 1967 restored parity between the two nations and revived India’s pride after the defeat earlier.
   India’s victory over China in 1967 proved to be a watershed in history. After 1967, the two neighbours would not go to war against each other again for a long time, ushering in over fifty years of peace, until the two countries were involved in a skirmish in 2020.
   The non fiction book begins with the events of 1965, which involved India, Pakistan and China and America's CIA in the region. The book, written as a non fiction narrative, describes the intriguing political drama in the mid 1960s and how Sino-Indian relations plummeted sharply, resulting in a diplomatic fracas. Ultimately, the bitter exchanges ended in ferocious military battles in 1967 at over 16000 feet in treacherous Himalayan conditions.
   1967 was also a watershed in the relations between the two states. The events that year reset the template for India to deal with a dominant China. India's victory after the loss to China in 1962 restored parity, which went a long way in establishing continuing peace despite a bitter relationship between the two countries. Four years later, in 1971, as India and Pakistan went to war in present day Bangladesh, China did not interfere or attempt to halt India's advance, despite the insistence of US President Nixon and Henry Kissinger.
   Over a period though, these pivotal battles were forgotten. Several decades later, in 2020, as the two nations challenged each other in a bitter standoff in Ladakh, the battles of 1967 between India and China served a reminder that peace was earned the hard way in the region. Ironically, losses of lives in a battlefield fifty years ago serve as a harbinger of a long period of peace that followed