29 October, 2020

Frontiers Of The Imagination

The story of the war lies buried with its dead, the debate lives on

Frontiers Of The Imagination

A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit a remote border outpost in Arunachal Pradesh where a sentry sat in the thick morning mist, pierced only by the gentle flares of flowering rhododendron bushes. His binoculars were trained on a Chinese outpost perhaps a hundred yards away. This place had been a minor flashpoint in the 1980s when the Chinese established their camp and started building a helipad. The Indian army set up its own posts on higher ground. Things calmed down, so I was told, when the People’s Liberation Army clarified that the helipad was really a basketball court. The jawan’s job was to watch basketball and he took it very seriously.

Fifty years ago this month, a very different mortal game was played out on those very hills and across the 3,500 km long frontier of the world’s two most populous republics. It ended in a rout, as you know. The bigger guys—or at least the larger team—won. And then left the field, for their dugouts.

The war itself has been well remembered and quietly forgotten in India. A short...



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