A. S. Bhasin, Nehru, Tibet And China (New Delhi: Penguin Random House India Private Limited, 2021), 368 pp. ₹699, ISBN 978-0670094134 (Hardcover).

AuthorAbhishek Khajuria
Published date01 July 2022
Date01 July 2022
Subject MatterBook Reviews
International Studies
59(3) 279 –281, 2022
© 2022 Jawaharlal Nehru University
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/00208817221106840
Book Review
A. S. Bhasin, Nehru, Tibet And China (New Delhi: Penguin Random
House India Private Limited, 2021), 368 pp. `699, ISBN 978-0670094134
In his latest book, Nehru, Tibet and China, historian A. S. Bhasin analyses the events
from 1949 (since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China or the PRC) that
affected the trajectory of relations between India and China up to the 1962 War. The
book is based on the author’s archival research, with special access provided by the
Department of Culture. However, by his admission, the collection of papers he
accessed is incomplete, and his use of the Chinese sources are limited only to official
communications and a few articles from state-run newspapers.
The book has been divided into 12 thematic chapters with overlapping
timelines, and the author traces the genesis of the conflict to the British era;
while somewhat accepting Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, the British soon
realised that this would entail increased Chinese influence towards the
Himalayan states and the Assam Himalayas. The views of the British officers in
London were often at odds with those at Calcutta over Tibetan autonomy. The
much-maligned Shimla Conference of 1914 laid the groundwork for future
conflicts. Although initialled by the Chinese, the agreement was signed only by
India and Tibet as the Chinese denounced Article 9, which declared the boundary
between Tibet and India (the McMahon Line) and that of Outer Tibet with Inner
Tibet. This discord manifested starkly as Nehru and Mao became the undisputed
leaders of their respective countries.
As he progresses, Bhasin emerges as a sharp critique of Nehru and his
government. The author notes that Nehru had grand plans for Asian solidarity and
friendship with China even before becoming prime minister. This lent his foreign
policy an idealistic overtone that proved detrimental to India’s national interest in
the long run and exploded into the humiliating and demoralising defeat of 1962.
Although Nehru recognised the establishment of the PRC as a momentous event,
he did not change his thinking, nor did he foresee what was to come in the future.
He still opted for the ‘elusive friendship’ of China and launched an unsolicited
campaign for China’s recognition at the United Nations, which was never even
acknowledged by Beijing. There were disagreements between Nehru and Sardar
Patel and among top officials of the Ministry of External Affairs on questions like
recognition and threat from communism. When it comes to Tibet, the reader gets

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT