The Role of Decision Making in the Pre-Crisis Period of India (15 March, 1959 - 7
September, 1962)


Boyko Iaramov
Introduction to International Relations
Professor Bond


More than thirty years have passed since the dramatic cling of arm in
the remote Himalayan region of the Sino-Indian border. This Time gap seems to be
appropriate for a correct reexamination of the conflict. The account of India\'s
attempt to find balance with China, ever since the Kongska Pass incident in 1959
until the attack of 1962, is not merely a fact sheet that we can brows and toss
and toss away. In stead we have to link each idea to the event and causes that
might have played a role in the conflict.
Ever since 1959 the border problem between Asia\'s biggest two nation-
states has been picking up speed at a threatening speed. The year 1962 was the
unfortunate year for India which knocked out any possibility of understanding
between China and India. Of course, such an act of terror could have not started
without some kind of the reason, whatever it may be. The chronological order of
pre-crisis decisions taken India\'s authorities are of great importance.
The role of the decision-makers before the time of the armed conflict
had a big significance for India\'s position on political and economic matters in
the continent of Asia. A major figure in India\'s decision making was Jawaharlal
Nehru, leader of the Congress Party, head of the Planning Commission and chief
spokesman of the government in Parliament. These titles not only made him an
important nationalistic figure but also Gandhi\'s appointed heir and a "major
architect of India\'s political institutions" (Brecher, 1959). Krishna Menon,
"the controversial defense minister consulted in almost every issue" along with
Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant was also a figure of great importance (Langyel, 1962).
This importance was mainly derived from the fact that both shared the same
overall world view of Nehru. However, in order to understand the cruicial
importance of decision-makers, we shall looked seperately at each of India\'s top
men.
Menon was highly important and useful to Nehru in the essence that the
latter helped Nehru convey his thought and policies to the outside world in a
forceful and organized manner (Brecher, 1959). But as Rajani Palme Dutt said in
his book "The problem of India," foreign policy was exercised "more behind the
scenes than in meetings of the committee." Both Menon and Nehru acted to the
desire of Nehru. It was often when the Foreign secretary would take to Pant
drafts of diplomatic correspondence and get the reaction which was usually at
Nehru\'s request (Hoffmann,1990).
Foreign policy makers Nehru, Menon and Pant shared a common world view
which clearly showed their psychological predisposition, drawn from the sources
of their personality, idiosyncrasy, ideology, tradition, culture and history. As
we shall see further down, in the mainstream of common ideas and beliefs, they
indeed had some differences. But all these men used the "attitudinal prism"
(Hoffmann, 1990), the lens through which they filtered and structured the
information thus perceiving the world. One set of Indian beliefs referred to the
role India should play world. This role was supposed to reflect the fact that
India was a considerably new nation-state.
India also had to preserve her independence of action. It didn\'t simply
fight for independence simply to become a camp follower of any of the Cold War
Power blocs. The restrictions and limitations that such a position imply would
be against India\'s national interest. And it was exactly this nonalignment
policy of Nehru between the two sides of the Cold War which was the projection
of Indian nationalism into world affairs (Maxwell, 1970). Nehru also expressed
the idea that India was an Asian power that should not be overlooked at. He
demonstrated that "in regard to any major problem of a country or a group of
countries of Asia, India has to be considered" (Gopal, 1980).
During the 1950\'s and 1960\'s Nehru and his advisors realized that India
was playing a far more than neutral role in the Cold War politics. She was a
very important player on the world stage, where questions of war and peace were
decided. He recognized that in s bipolar world, in which relations between the
superpowers were based mainly on "balance-of-power calculations" (Hoffmann,
1990), a nuclear holocaust, for example, had become highly likely. He sought
that India should stay out of the superpowers\' way in the nuclear arms race and
at the same time work to the reduction of superpower confrontation by "fostering
communication, engaging in constructive diplomacy and public judging each action
of the United States and the