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Intriguing Tales Of 1971 War

Updated: April 28, 2012 11:35 am

The year 1971 was an exceptional year for India for the development and exercise of its national power dynamics. India had won an outstanding military victory against a foreign power, the likes of which it had not known in the centuries of the sub-continental history before. Against this backdrop, the book—India-Pakistan War 1971, Military Triumph and Political Failure—by Major General (Retd) Kuldip Singh Bajwa, a local war veteran, on the ‘falsehoods’ in the account given by Lt Gen (Retd) JFR Jacob on the Indo-Pak War 1971, has triggered a new controversy. It has also sparked a fierce debate in the defence circles. Lt Gen Jacob is considered the architect of the 1971 victory against Pakistan.

In his book, Maj Gen Bajwa has alleged that Jacob in his two books published after the death of Field Marshal Manekshaw and Lt Gen Aurora and in an article published in a Bangladesh newspaper has blatantly claimed that he was the architect of the military campaign that led to the liberation of Bangladesh. “The final decision on as to how to conduct the operation is that of the commander alone, as is the command ethos in the Indian Army as well as in other armies. A staff officer, even at pinnacle of the staff ladder, howsoever brilliant he may be, neither claims any credit for success nor earns stigma for failure,” the book says.

The 285-page book, which is divided into 24 chapters provide profound knowledge about the 1971 war. While dealing with conduct of military operations, strategic philosophies and major tactical initiatives have also been analysed. The detailed tactical course of operations has been covered very broadly. However, some of the outstanding battles have been given in fair detail. In addition to this background, the writer has carried out an elaborate research into published and unpublished material available in both India and Pakistan.

The writer has discussed this work with some of the actual planners and participants in the operations in both the theatres, including some of them in Pakistan. Lest he should be faulted for hindsight in his analysis of operations, the author firmly states that such conclusions would have been thrown up in any profound and discriminating consideration of operational parameters that prevailed when these operations were contemplated, planned and conducted. The writer maintains that senior commanders and military planners are expected to possess a forward-looking strategic vision, and accompanied with it, the capacity of discriminating detachment to grab the operational options that open up with the developing battle situations. This book intends to add content to the security policies of India, and the intellectual pluralism that stems from this could in turn provide India’s politico-bureaucratic elite an idea of the national mood on military issues and enable them to direct the country’s policies in the right direction.

In this works, the Indian strategic dynamics to tackle the profoundly adverse impact of Pakistan’s military crackdown in East Pakistan on Indian national security and to overcome it the employment of Indian military power as a vital instrument of state policy will be critically examined. Before embarking on this study the writer had solemnly resolved to get to the truth without sparing reputations of the participants in the historic events of 1971. Unfortunately in the absence of an official history, the writer had to search far and wide, and to extensively use my own knowledge and experience, to draw deductions, inferences and conclusions as close to the reality as humanly possible. This work is complementary to ‘Indian National Security—Challenges and Responses’ and must be also studied as such along with ‘Jammu and Kashmir War 1947-48-Political and Military Perspective.’ Hopefully in another work the internal and external dynamics of India after 1971 and the gradual emerging of it as a South Asian and furthermore as a global power will be examined.

 By Ashok Kumar

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