Ex-IAF chief Tipnis blames Nehru for 1962 defeat

A former IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal (retd) A Y Tipnis, blamed former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for India's defeat in the 1962 war with China, amid a continuing debate on why air power was not used during the conflict.

Speaking at a seminar 'India and China: After five decades of 1962 war' here, Tipnis also alleged that Nehru had made national security interests secondary to his "ambition" to become a world leader. "It was more or less universally accepted, perhaps grudgingly and not openly in some Indian quarters, that to serve the dubious purpose of political survival that Pandit Nehru had — with his grandiose vision of a conflict free non-alligned world — he surrendered vital national security interests to the ambition of being a world leader."

The remarks on Monday came against the backdrop of recent comments by the current Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, that the outcome of the 1962 war would have been different had the IAF been used in an offensive role.

Asked about his remarks, Tipnis on Tuesday said Nehru was the "major contributor" to India's debacle. Tipnis, 72, who had a three-year tenure as IAF chief from December 31, 1998, was commissioned as a fighter pilot in 1960, two years before the hostilities broke out between India and China.

Tipnis said he had also seen an Army chief in those days being "ticked-off" like a school-boy by Prime Minister Nehru for his alleged petulance. The issue of IAF not being used in the 1962 hostilities is still debated by military historians and experts and there is no clarity as to why the Air Force was not used. Browne had said the IAF was not allowed to be on an offensive and was confined only to provide support to the Army. "These are open and glaring lessons we should have imbibed," he added.

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