The book introduces the main character in the tragedy that overtook the Roof of the World -Tibet - in 1950, which turned the destinies of India, Tibet and China. The three nations had the choice of going towards peace and collaboration or tension or confrontation, but each one chose its fate with all the consequences that followed. The end of the 40s saw the entry of a new player in the great game of free Asia and that was China. A new emperor, Mao Zedong ascended the throne of the Middle Kingdom. His counterpart was a British-educated Jawaharlal Nehru. On the one side of the chessboard was Mao, the great helmsman who believed in real world only; on the other side was the idealist Nehru who was a dreamer. In 1947, when General Sir Robert Lokhart took the paper containing the recommendations for building up a defence policy for India to Nehru, the latter ignored the suggestion saying that the police was good enough "to meet our security needs". Mao knew his Indian interlocutor, the champion of non-violence well enough and feared no danger from him.
The author of this book makes a very pertinent point regarding China’s claims on Arunachal and Aksai Chin. The Chinese have been claiming both the disputed areas of Aksai Chin and Arunachal because "it costs them (the Chinese) nothing to exchange their claim on Arunachal against the ‘legalisation’ of their occupation of Aksai Chin." The recent incursion in Arunachal Pradesh is probably a Chinese bluff to "replace their illegal occupation of Aksai Chin." She suggests that if India wants peace with China, "it would certainly be in India’s interest if Delhi decides to help the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people to find a negotiated solution with Beijing."
"What is particularly galling is the role that India played by abdicating her position as the heir to British India's relationship with Tibet which gave her considerable powers and rights over her northern neighbour. Instead of taking a proactive stance on Tibet, Nehru succumbed to a pessimistic fatalism which foresaw the inevitability of Chinese annexation of Tibet. Arpi says Nehru was an idealist, a pacifist, and a dreamer and therefore was not fit to face the Chinese. The truth is probably more unflattering than that. Nehru feared the Chinese. Which is why even when the international community was prepared to follow his lead on Tibet, he preferred procrastinating and pushing for China's membership in the UN and dallied about in the hope of playing historical role in the settling of the Korean crisis. Nehru was also advised by KM Panikkar and VK Krishna Menon, both Sinophiles, who shared with Nehru the latter's pessimistic fatalism. Thus, everyone washed their hands of Tibet."
"Although the absorption of Tibet into China since 1950 has been copiously discussed from different angles, there is a dearth of understanding about the regional politics surrounding the "roof of the world". Since time immemorial, Tibet’s fate has been intertwined with that of its two giant neighbors, China and India. French scholar Claude Arpi's new book teases out the complex workings of this triangle and throws light on how Indian idealism came a cropper against Chinese realpolitik...With the destiny of Tibet already sealed as a graveyard of Indian idealism, New Delhi is now left to strive for its own territorial integrity against a surging Beijing."
“Claude Arpi’s well researched and illuminating account of the failure of India’s diplomacy in its very backyard is a tribute to not only the author’s painstaking efforts at getting to the truth (which few Indian writers can be credited with as regards to writing on Tibet), but also marks a plus for the publishers who thought of bringing out this very instructive account.”
"His knowledge of source materials combined with his extensive contacts with high Tibetan officials including the Dalai Lama allow him to write on Tibet and the India-China relations from a perspective that is not available in other works. Tibet: The Lost Frontier is an invaluable work on Tibet and its role in India-China relations."
“Students, analysts and practitioners of diplomacy and strategic affairs will find this book simply brilliant.”
“… contains in-depth account of Indo-China relations, exclusively obtained from the Indian government's archives. Such diligent effort from the author's side makes this book very interesting and different from others. More so, Arpi touches hard on Indo-China border issue, which people tend to avoid because of its sensitivity.
…recommend everyone to read this book, which unfolds the events that make up the current political and territorial status of Asia's three richest civilizations.”
Delving deep into the history of the Roof of the World, this book introduces us to one of the greatest tragedies of modern times, its principal characters as well as the forces impelling them, consciously or unconsciously.
The main ‘knot’ of our ‘drama’ was staged in 1950. During this ‘fateful’ year the dice of fate was thrown. There are turning points in history when it is possible for events to go one way or the other — when the tides of time seem poised between the flood and the ebb, when fate awaits our choice to strike its glorious or sombre note, and the destiny of an entire nation hangs in balance.
The year 1950 was certainly one such crucial year in the destinies of India, Tibet and China. The three nations had the choice of moving towards peace and collaboration, or tension and confrontation.
Decisions can be made with all good intentions — as in the case of Nehru who believed in an ‘eternal friendship’ with China, or with uncharitable motives of Mao. Decisions can be made out of weakness, greed, pragmatism, ignorance or fear; but once an option is excercised, consequences unfold for years and decades to follow.
In strategic terms, Tibet is critical to South Asia and South-east Asia. Rather the Tibetan plateau holds the key to the peace, security and well being of Asia, and the world as such. This study of the history of Tibet, a nation sandwiched between two giant neighbours, will enable better understanding of the geopolitics influencing the tumultuous relations between India and China, particularly in the backdrop of border disputes and recent events in Tibet.
eBook Edition also available
Author: Claude Arpi