Neville Maxwell

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Neville Maxwell
Born 1926 (age 87–88)
London, England
Occupation Journalist
Citizenship Australia
Alma mater McGill University
University of Cambridge
Subject Sino-Indian War
Notable works India's China War
Neville Maxwell's Blog

Neville Maxwell (born 1926 in London) is a retired Australian-British journalist and author of the 1970 book India's China War, which is considered an authoritative analysis of the 1962 Sino-Indian War.[1][2][3] However, he has been criticised for his pessimistic views on Indian democracy.

In March 2014, Maxwell leaked the Henderson Brooks–Bhagat Report, which was written by two Indian army officers in 1963 to examine India's defeat in the Sino-Indian War and had been kept top-secret by the Indian government for over 50 years.

India's China War[edit]

An Australian born in London, Maxwell was educated at McGill University in Canada and the University of Cambridge in England. He joined The Times as a foreign correspondent in 1955 and spent three years in the Washington bureau. In 1959 he was posted to New Delhi as the South Asia correspondent. In the next eight years he travelled from Kabul to East Pakistan and Kathmandu to Ceylon, reporting in detail the end of the Nehru era in India and the post-Nehru developments.[4] During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, Maxwell wrote for The Times from New Delhi, and was the only reporter there who did not uncritically accept the official Indian account of events.[5] This eventually led to his "virtual expulsion" from India.[5]

In 1967 Maxwell joined the School of Oriental and African Studies in London a senior fellow to write his book India's China War. He was with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at Oxford University at the time when the book was published in 1970.[4] Maxwell had to rely largely on inferences based on official Chinese statements at the time of the 1962 war.[6]:3 He did not attempt to examine the accuracy of Chinese perceptions.[6]:3 The book was widely praised across a diverse range of opinions, including British historian A. J. P. Taylor, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, and US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.[3] On the other hand, Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew considered it "revisionist, pro-China history".[7] In India, Maxwell is perceived as hostile to the Indian narrative of victimhood and received ferocious personal attacks.[3] The Indian government charged him with breach of Official Secrets Act, forcing him to stay out of India to avoid arrest, until the charges were annulled by Prime Minister Morarji Desai eight years later.[8]

View on Indian democracy[edit]

In the 1960s Maxwell incorrectly predicted that India would not remain a democracy for much longer. While serving as the South Asia correspondent of The Times of London, Maxwell authored a series of pessimistic reports filed in February 1967. In the atmosphere leading up to the 4th Lok Sabha elections, he wrote that "The great experiment of developing India within a democratic framework has failed. [Indians will soon vote] in the fourth—and surely last—general election."[9]

Leak of the Henderson Brooks-Bhagat report[edit]

On 17 March 2014, Maxwell posted the first part of the Henderson Brooks–Bhagat Report on his website.[10] The report was written by two Indian army officers in 1963 to examine India's defeat in the Sino-Indian War. It has been classified as top secret by the Indian government, but Maxwell acquired a copy and his India's China War contains the gist of the report.[11] After the Indian government refused to release the report for over 50 years, Maxwell decided to make it public.[10][11][8] Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of The Indian Express, who said he had been brainwashed into detesting Maxwell as an India-hater, praised Maxwell as a "relentless journalist and scholar".[12]


Maxwell has been called the authority on the Sino-Indian War.[1][2] His conclusion, also reached by American scholar Allen S. Whiting, that "in deciding for war, China's leaders were responding to an Indian policy of establishing Indian military outposts in territory claimed by both India and China but already under effective Chinese military occupation", has become the orthodox scholarly view regarding China's perception of and response to India's Forward Policy.[6]:29 US President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger both read his India's China War, which influenced their decision to seek rapprochement with China in 1972.[2][8]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Remembering a War". Rediff. 8 October 2002. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Arpi, Claude (January 2011). "1962 War: Why keep Henderson Brooks report secret?". Indian Defence Review. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Kai Friese (22 October 2012). "China Was The Aggrieved; India, Aggressor In '62". Outlook India. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b India's China War
  5. ^ a b Gregory Clark. "Book review: India's China War". Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c China's Decision for War with India in 1962 at the Wayback Machine (archived 26 March 2009)
  7. ^ Today newspaper (23 September 2013). "What's the Big Idea?". Today (Singapore). Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Debasish Roy Chowdhury (31 March 2014). "Neville Maxwell interview: the full transcript". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  9. ^ Ramachandra Guha (17 July 2005). "Past & Present: Verdicts on India". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 May 2007. 
  10. ^ a b Unnithan, Sandeep (18 March 2014). "Henderson Brooks report lists the guilty men of 1962". India Today. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Pandalai, Shruti (2 April 2014). "Burying Open Secrets: India's 1962 War and the Henderson-Brooks Report". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Shekhar Gupta (21 March 2014). "Who's afraid of Neville Maxwell?". The Indian Express. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 

External links[edit]