Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Perception Giap

General Vo Nguyen Giap, one of the greatest military strategists and leaders of this century passed away yesterday. India was unmoved. What a shame!

Not one talking head in India's strategic community thought of paying a tribute to him. Where are our military historians who are all crawling out of the woodwork whenever anybody whispers 'Pakistan' or 'China'?

Indian newspapers merely reproduced the obituaries prepared by Western newswires. Times of India picked stuff from AP; the Hindu reprinted an obituary from the Guardian, UK, while the Indian Express lifted one from the New York Times. Surely we could do better than this...

By all accounts, Gen. Giap was as earthly, realistic and practical as any great leader would be. He was trained to be a teacher and a journalist, not a soldier. Yet he went to to lead his troops - both men and women - through some of the most brilliant military victories that liberated Vietnam, first from the French colonial army (Dien Bien Phu, 1953), and then from the relentless US quasi-colonial intervention that ended with their retreat from Saigon in 1975.

Yesterday, on our prime-time TV, retired army generals and other assorted hawks were blowing hot and cold over Pakistani 'infiltration' in the Keran sector of Jammu & Kashmir. Perhaps the TV anchors did not consider Gen. Giap's legacy worthy of a discussion. Or maybe the NDA-OTA-IMA types don't think much of a teacher who switched tracks to become a soldier.

Either way, if we don't study modern Asian history carefully, the loss is ours.


Postscript: Finally, in today's IE, an economist has chipped in an op-ed on Gen. Giap. Small mercies.


NYT - Gap Remembers (1990) -- http://www.nytimes.com/1990/06/24/magazine/giap-remembers.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
NYT -- http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/05/world/asia/gen-vo-nguyen-giap-dies.html?pagewanted=all

Hookway, James (2013): LEGENDARY VIETNAM GENERAL VO NGUYEN GIAP DIES, Wall Street Journal, 8 Oct., 2013, URL -- http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20131004-706371.html


The HIndu -- http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/gen-giap-vietnam-war-hero-dies-at-102/article5201303.ece?textsize=small&test=2

Alagh, Yoginder K (2013): GENERAL VISION, Indian Express, 8Oct13 -- http://www.indianexpress.com/news/general-vision/1179603/

Fall, Bernard B (): HELL IS A VERY SMALL PLACE --
- Good Reads- http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/113486.Hell_In_A_Very_Small_Place
- Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Hell-In-Very-Small-Place/dp/030681157X

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