Neville Maxwell

Maxwell was the reporter for the Times (UK) who covered India (1959-1967) and south Asia and is famous for the comment that the 1967 general elections would be the last one that India had as a democratic country. He covered the Indo-China war and his considered viewpoint was that…it is all India’s fault.

Maxwell at least has the virtue of being consistent, he has also blamed America for the current problems that have opened up between China and her maritime neighbors.

Here are his comments on releasing the Henderson-Brooks report (on the Indo-China war) which is still classified secret in India.

The most interesting question is (as always): who was the whistle-blower?

Those who gave me access to the Henderson Brooks Report when I was researching
my study of the Sino-Indian border dispute laid down no conditions as to how I
should use it.  That they would remain anonymous went without saying, an
implicit condition I will always observe, otherwise how the material was used
was left to my judgement.  I decided that while I would quote freely from
the Report, thus revealing that I had had access to it (and indeed had a copy),
I would neither proclaim nor deny that fact; and my assumption was that the
gist of the report having been published in 1970 in the detailed account of the
Army’s debacle given in my India’s China War, the Indian government would
release it after a decent interval.

The passing of years showed that assumption to have been mistaken and left
me in a quandary.  I did not have to rely on memory to tell the falsity of
the government’s assertion that keeping the Report secret was necessary for
reasons of national security, I had taken a copy and the text nowhere touches
on issues that could have current strategic or tactical relevance.  The
reasons for the long-term withholding of the report must be political, indeed
probably partisan, perhaps even familial. 
While I kept the Report to
myself I was therefore complicit in a continuing cover-up.

I marked the new century by publishing as an “Introduction to the Henderson
Brooks Report” a detailed description, and account of the circumstances in
which it was written, explaining its political and military context and
summarising its findings (EPW, April 14, 2001): there was no public reaction in
the Indian press or even among the chauvinist ranks of the academic security
establishment.  My first attempt to put the Report itself on the public
record was indirect and low-key: after I retired from the University I donated
my copy to Oxford’s Bodleian Library, where, I thought, it could be studied in
a setting of scholarly calm.   

The Library initially welcomed it as a
valuable contribution in that “grey area” between actions and printed books, in
which I had given them material previously.  But after some months the
librarian to whom I had entrusted it warned me that, under a new regulation,
before the Report was put on to the shelves and opened to the public it would
have to be cleared by the British government with the government which might be
adversely interested! 

Shocked by that admission of a secret process of
censorship to which the Bodleian had supinely acceded I protested to the head
Librarian, then an American, but received no response.  Fortunately I was
able to retrieve my donation before the Indian High Commission in London was
alerted in the Bodleian’s procedures and was perhaps given the Report.

In 1962, noting that all attempts in India to make the government release
the Report had failed, I decided on a more direct approach and made the text
available to the editors of three of India’s leading publications, asking that
they observe the usual journalistic practice of keeping their source to
themselves. (I thought that would be clear enough to those who had long studied
the border dispute and saw no need to depart from my long-standing “no comment”

To my surprise the editors concerned decided, unanimously, not
to publish.  They explained that, while “there is no question that the
report should be made public”, if it were leaked rather than released
officially the result would be a hubbub over national security, with most
attention focused on the leak itself, and little or no productive analysis of
the text.  The opposition parties would savage the government for laxity
in allowing the Report to get out, the government would turn in rage upon those
who had published it.

Although surprised by this reaction, unusual in the age of Wikileaks, I
could not argue with their reasoning.  Later I gave the text to a fourth
editor and offered it to a fifth, with the same nil result.  

So my dilemma
continued – although with the albatross hung, so to speak, on Indian necks as
well as my own.
As I see it now I have no option but, rather than leave the dilemma to my
heirs, to put the Report on the internet myself.  So here is the text
(there are two lacunae, accidental in the copying process)


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