National Solidarity day – 20th October
India celebrates National Solidarity day on 20th October every year to remember its solidarity. It was on this historic day in 1962 when China attacked India that continued for about a month until a ceasefire was declared by China on 21st November 1962.
India lost the war and there was a huge loss of life and property, but the entire country was united condemning the act of China and showed heart-warming solidarity, and united team spirit in order to protect the nation.
A Chinese disputed Himalayan border was the main cause of the war. The border between India and China is not clearly demarcated throughout. India, following Independence, believed it had inherited firm boundaries from the British, but this was contrary to China’s view. China felt the British had left behind a disputed legacy on the boundary between the two newly formed republics.
The India-China border is divided into three sectors, viz. Western, Middle, and Eastern. The boundary dispute in the Western Sector pertains to the Johnson Line proposed by the British in the 1860s that extended up to the Kunlun Mountains and put Aksai Chin in the then princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Independent India used the Johnson Line and claimed Aksai Chin as its own. China initially did not demur when India said so in the early 1950s; however, in the years that followed it reversed its position and stated that it had never acceded to the Johnson Line and therefore did not see why it should cede Aksai Chin to India.
The disputed boundary in the Eastern Sector of the India-China border is over the MacMahon Line. Representatives of China, India, and Tibet in 1913-14 met in Shimla, where an agreement was proposed to settle the boundary between Tibet and India, and Tibet and China. Though the Chinese representatives at the meeting initialed the agreement, they subsequently refused to accept it. The Tawang tract claimed by China was taken over by India in 1951. Till the 1960s, China controlled Aksai Chin in the West while India controlled the boundary up to the McMahon Line in the East.
China believed India was its threat to Tibet rule and this was one of the main reasons behind the Sino-Indo war. On 20 October China launched a major attack across the McMahon Line as well as another attack further north. It was a massive multi-pronged attack all along the border from Ladakh in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east. The Sino-Indian War which followed was a national humiliation for India, with China quickly advancing 90 km (56 mi) from the McMahon Line to Rupa and then Chaku (65 km southeast of Tawang) in NEPA’s extreme western portion, and in the NEFA’s extreme eastern tip advancing 30 km (19 mi) to Walong.
The Soviet Union, the United States, and Great Britain pledged military aid to India. China then withdrew to the McMahon Line and repatriated the Indian prisoners of war (1963). The legacy of the border remains significant especially in India where the government sought to explain its defeat by blaming it on being caught by surprise.
In 1966 a prestigious committee constituting Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and other dignitaries decided to dedicate 20th October as National Solidarity Day annually as a reminder of the Indo-China war. Many schools, colleges, NCC meetings organize activities on this day that encourage patriotism in the young generation. This day is needed to be remembered for the capabilities of our military strength to protect our borders. What we have achieved and what is still needed to be done to protect our borders. The whole nation remembers our Armed forces on this day with gratitude, affection, and admiration.
In wake of the current border dispute and deadliest border clash in decades between India and China, it is time to remember the Indo-China war of 1962, and National Solidarity day another forgotten relic of patriotic fervor.