By I. Ramamohan Rao New Delhi, Feb 1 : Priime Minister Manmohan Singh was in Arunachal Pradesh on January 31 announcing an 100,000 million rupee development programme for the State, which he said, "is our Land of the Rising Sun". The package includes a 55,000 million trans-Arunachal Pradesh highway and various other projects.
One looks back at Arunachal Pradesh, which till 1986 was known as the North East Frontier Agency, as an area which was the venue of a bitter war fought with China in 1962.
One also recalls the visit to NEFA by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, in the early sixties. He visited an interior town in a helicopter. The village elder, it was reported, offered to buy the helicopter, but wanted to know how many 'Yaks' would it cost. Those days, the currency in interior NEFA for costly items was the Yak.
The successors of the village headman who wanted to buy a helicopter, would now be able to ride one from Tawang to Guahati or vice varsa., with Dr Manmohan Singh announcing the commencement of a helicopter service.
I also thought of my visit to NEFA in 1964, to visit the Indian Army units newly posted there. It took me three days to travel from Tezpur to Tawang. The road was being constructed and black topped to Bomdi-la, Se-la and to Tawang, with the base camp in the Tenga Valley.
During those days, vivid in our minds were the images of poorly clad Indian soldiers who were rushed to NEFA to fight the Chinese, who had obviously prepared themselves for the war.
The Chinese, about whom Nehru spoke warmly, had co-authored the Panchsheel, or the five principles of peaceful co-existence, had betrayed India.
Travelling across NEFA, one clutched at the memories some of the battles fought by the Indian Army, in which they had given a credible account like the battle of Walong, where then Brigadier Navin Chandra Rawlley, distinguished himself.
Looking back at the last four decades, one also recalls the statements made by China during the India- Pakistan wars in 1965 and 1971 when India could not afford to withdraw troops from the Chinese front. For all its ostensible anger against capitalism, China opened itself to the United States following the visit of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to Beijing in1971.
China helped Pakistan in its nuclear and missile programme. And the assistance is still continuing, the strategic 'relationship' being strengthened with the construction of the Gwadar port, which will link China to the Arabian Sea through the Karakoram Highway.
India and China have been discussing a possible solution to the border dispute for over forty years. . The Chinese have been inscrutable, but what has been clear is that they do not respect a weak adversary. The Vietnamese --a small nation that had stood up to China and the United States, to guard its independence, told me this during my visit to Ho Chi Minh City in 1984.
In 1986, I also saw a demonstration of this aspect of the Chinese. During the Prime Ministership of Rajiv Gandhi, as Principal Information Officer, I had interacted with the media during the Sumdrong Chu incident when the Indian Army was accused of crossing the Line of Actual Control. General K. Sundarji, the then Chief of Army Staff, had told me that India was in a position to face the Chinese threat and would not give in. .
It was accepted then that the robust military moves on the part of India demonstrated the difference in the ground situation between 1962 and 1986. Perhaps that brought about a change in the attitude of the Chinese, which was demonstrated during the visit to China of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The famous 'hand-shake' between him and Deng Ziao Ping, indicated the changed tenor of the exchanges.
One also recalls the impact of India becoming a 'nuclear power'. The debate is continuing whether the then Defence Minister, George Fernandes, called China 'Enemy No. 1' or a 'possible Enemy No. 1' during a television interview. The message was clear that India had not forgotten the events of 1962, when Nehru was betrayed by China.
George Fernandes visited China, followed by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The inter-action between the two countries has grown. Besides trade and commerce, India and China have also conducted Army exercises, and that too on fighting 'terrorism'.
The recent visit to China of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Beijing has been significant step forward.
However, the talks to find a solution to the border problem are still going on, with National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, meeting his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo in New Delhi or in the backwaters of Kerala as also in hallowed halls of Beijing.
China continues to be inscrutable. One hears of 'minor adjustments' which are necessary for a 'solution', but how 'minor'. One also hears that India and China have agreed that the 'minor' adjustments will not involve populated areas.
Meanwhile, connect Arunachal with the rest of the country, help development. There has been a great amount of delay in the sun rising in India's "Land of the Rising Sun".
I. Ramamohan Rao, former Principal Information Officer, Government of India. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.