Fans of millitary fiction, tired of cold war like scenarios or small scale engagements can now rejoice. Here is a very realistic millitary scenario depicting a potential Indo-Chinese conflict and how it may actually end up. The surprise is in how it may end up and why 1962 was a flash in pan when the Indian leadership failed its people.
Imagine a brutal tank battle in Ladakh at 16,000 ft (the highest mountain on mainland US is @20,000 ft) or a battle in the passes of Bhutan or a vicious air battle where the Mig 29s and Su 30 are pitted against S-27s and J-8s. This novel covers it vividly. A cat and mouse game to punch holes in the S-300 radar defence, yes that is covered to. Use of transport aircrafts, refuellers, AWACS, cruise missiles and both tactical and strategic missiles are also covered. This is present technologies which the Asian giants currently possess. An operational supersonic cruise missile or near operational ALCM is pitted against a sophisticated radar coverage.
In this novel, the auther Vivek weaves a compelling story around the tools of war and how humans use it. The novel is fast paced and sucks you into reading further, due to a very good story built around actual data points. It has its elements of humour as well, sample this:
" ... What cause do we have for mobilizing these Divisions?" the PM said.
Chakri shared a look at Yadav in silence and then sighed where he sat in silence.
"Cause? How about defending our borders? Does that sound like a good enough cause, you idiot?"
Yadav said calmly:
"Defending our borders, sir. That's a just enough cause, isn't it?"
Brilliant! For the followers in news about the recent happenings in India, where the pacifist PM is being pilloried for beheadings of Indian soldiers at the border, the above hits home.
It appears that this novel has been in making for a while so all the more credit to the author for his perserverance and making it thorugh his first publication. It does not appear that this is his first fiction.
What could have been better? The prologue. The novel jumps directly into the conflict and keeps our attention, however a build up on the current Tibetan occupation, the ongoing tibetan sacrfices, the Indo-Chinese conflict rooted in Mao's foolhardiness and Kissinger's acquiescence etc should have been added for the lay person. Further, an epilogue giving the topography of the McMohan line and some details with photos of the arms like the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile and the advanced Su 30 MKI and Su 27 could have been added.
Again for a novel that lays down the use of arms and how they fare when pitted against each other, depicting a realistic scenario for a lay person this achieves a lot. A very complex and advanced mathematical modelling over a table top war fare exercise is deftly hidden by the author here. It does steer clear of international politics and that is a good thing.
Overall, every person/journalist interested in millitary history and modern conflicts in the Indian subcontinent should read this. This novel ensures why simple juxtapositions like Pakistani missiles are tall fair and hence more advanced than short and stubby Indian missiles are dumb. Or why the mere possession in numbers of Su 27s by the Chinese will make them masters of the aerospace is a far fetched thought.