JOURNAL OF DEFENCE STUDIES

A Game of Chess and a Battle of Wits: India’s Forward Policy Decision in Late 1961

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  • October 2012
    Volume: 
    6
    Issue: 
    4
    Articles

    In spring 1962, small numbers of lightly armed Indian troops proactively established presence in the disputed border areas between Chinese Tibet and India, despite intense sabre-rattling in Beijing. What was originally intended as a ‘game of chess and a battle of wits’ in late 1961, eventually ended in war in October 1962. This article discusses the long-term and short-term factors that can help explain why the Government of India opted for the ‘Forward Policy’ in late 1961. It furthermore stresses the need to interpret the Forward Policy decision on its own premises and within its own historical context. Finally, it is argued that the Forward Policy experience has had an important impact on subsequent Indian strategic thinking. For that reason, and in light of the new sources available over the last years, a fresh glance at this controversial episode half a century ago would seem to be called for.

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