India urged to declassify report on the 1962 war with China

Indian soldiers facing Chinese troops during the 1962 conflict Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Indian soldiers facing Chinese troops during the 1962 conflict

Media are calling on the government to declassify an Indian army report that analyses the reasons for the country's crushing defeat in the 1962 war with China over disputed Himalayan border areas.

A large section of the Henderson Brooks report was recently posted online by Australian author Neville Maxwell but access to it was blocked hours later, India Today reports. Mr Maxwell was the Delhi correspondent of the Times of London during the war.

According to The New Indian Express, "India's long delay" in unveiling the report had prompted the journalist to leak parts of the document which is still top secret in India. It quotes Mr Maxwell as saying that he no longer wanted to be "complicit in a continuing cover-up".

The Tribune explains that the report revealed "serious flaws in India's planning of the war against its neighbour" and criticised the so-called "forward policy" of establishing "military outposts in areas claimed by the Chinese and the launch of aggressive patrols".

The document states that "the forward movement was without the necessary wherewithal", says the paper.

Commentators are baffled that an account of an event that occurred 52 years ago should still be kept hidden from the public.

"Most democracies declassify secret documents after a reasonable period of 25-30 years. It's time India too adopted such a policy, which would enable the building of an institutional memory as well as a review of mistakes that may have been committed in the past," the Times of India argues in an editorial.

A commentary in The Indian Express laments that "India's ostrich-like approach to archival material makes the 1962 war an unresolved moment in history".

It adds that the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was not right to use the controversy over the leaked report to attack the ruling Congress party.

"There is no point in the BJP now holding forth on why the report was not declassified. In its years in power (1998-2004), it too did precious little to open up access to official documents," the paper writes.

'Standing by Russia'

Newspapers are expressing mixed views on how India should respond to the Ukraine crisis.

The Hindustan Times says that "the wisest course for India would be not to involve itself in the geopolitics of the region and maintain a distance from both Putin and the US".

The Firstpost website, however, feels that Delhi needs to show support for Moscow, as "no other power on earth has stood so solidly with India during its several crisis moments for over past four decades as Russia has".

The Hindu reports that the Ukraine crisis may also have economic repercussions for India. A survey conducted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) has found that the continuing unrest in the European country could affect the work of Indian pharmaceutical companies based there.

The Ficci says there are "reasons for concern" that the devaluation of the Ukrainian currency (Hryvnia) against the dollar may have a negative impact as Ukraine is India's second largest trading partner in the Commonwealth of Independent States after Russia.

'Wives for votes'

And finally, a group of bachelors in Bibipur village in the northern state of Haryana has made a "unique" offer to political parties contesting parliamentary elections next month. "Bahu dilao, vote pao," ("Get us wives and get our votes"), the men have proclaimed, according to The Asian Age.

It explains that the unusual request was due to a "skewed sex ratio" in the region where more boys are born than girls.

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