Homeland Security

Unmaking of a great power in the making…
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Issue Vol 27.3 Jul-Sep 2012 | Date : 20 Jan , 2013

Sixty-five years after Independence, the ‘functional anarchy’ is now increasingly becoming dysfunctional as disorder spreads across the Union of India.

Midway, even before she could rise and despite the potential, the Indian dream of becoming a great power is coming unstuck due to acute helplessness on display and poverty of leadership at the centre and the states.

Rapid decline in governance, the crumbling civil administration, the collapse of the policing mechanisms, the divisive vote bank politics and the unprecedented plunder of the treasury are resulting in volcanic disruptions and debilitating internal turmoil.

…the Indian dream of becoming a great power is coming unstuck due to acute helplessness on display and poverty of leadership…

Unruly religious forces with belief in extreme philosophies unleashed by various political parties for short-term gains as also uncontrollable, well-armed and entrenched sinister groups like the Maoists will ultimately rule the roost with “political power growing from the barrel of a gun”.

Indian leaders neither had the vision nor the political will to integrate and consolidate the Union to make it a cohesive ‘whole’ based on rule of law, progress and prosperity for all. The result is the emergence of thousands of isolated compartments based on regionalism. Religion, caste, tribal and non-tribal, dumb inner line permit systems and grant of special status to Jammu and Kashmir and the feudal Khap Panchayats are now taking their toll.

If the vitals of a system can be weakened and hollowed due to our inability to govern, our enemies may not find it necessary   to impose on us a war of attrition. In the coming years, the growing threat of internal upheaval will, in all likelihood, outweigh external threats.

In the past six and a half decades, the self-serving sins committed by Delhi’s decadent ‘Mughal Darbar’ have led to civil strife, which is becoming uncontrollable. The deep despair now prevalent among the citizens of India is the beginning of the unmaking of a great power that was in the making.

In times to come, India will be ruled by various groups of mafia, and will begin to resemble Pakistan, if the trends are not reversed firmly, quickly and prudently. Ultimately our adversaries will control these factions of mafia by pitting one against the other!

Indian leaders neither had the vision nor the political will to integrate and consolidate the Union…

Is it possible to reverse these self-inflicted suicidal trends leading to the demise of the Union?

It is an uphill task that looks impossible but is ‘doable’. With reasonably ‘honest’ and ‘determined’ leadership, India can be put back on track. In a democracy, for the leadership to maintain an average level of honesty reflects the power of the will of the citizens. If citizens are vigilant and ensure that the public and the media maintain sufficient pressures, the government machinery will tend to remain functional. Otherwise the self-serving platitudes and the loot will continue.

The silver lining is that despite every shortcoming in men and material, the apolitical Indian Army has physically kept the Union intact by its sheer presence on the periphery, despite the collapse of the civil administration and the consequential raging internal civil strife. Despite New Delhi’s sheer apathy and neglect, the Indian military has, so far, succeeded in keeping the enemy at bay too. The truth is that the military is the only institution of the state that remains relatively functional and effective, the rest are under various stages of disintegration primarily due to the astronomical levels of corruption.

The breathing space provided by the military allows a temporary reprieve so that New Delhi can get its act together before the Union sinks into an irredeemable position of harsh unmanageable internal strife akin to the one that exists in Pakistan.

Democracies in the West have brought majority of their citizens in the fold of middle class by operating the equal opportunity clause, which included the right to education. They created intelligently all-round surplus opportunities for their citizens to prosper.

Ironically, our leaders have divided the people of this nation doling out reservations policy as ‘favours’. These policies have accentuated the differences between groups on religious grounds leading to internecine conflict over crumbs aggravated by an economy of shortages.

The breathing space provided by the military allows a temporary reprieve so that New Delhi can get its act together before the Union sinks…

Vote-banks politics is directly responsible for keeping the majority below the poverty line and in a perpetual grind. During elections, one is aghast to see on television the pathetic state of prime political constituencies such as Amethi and Raebareli practically frozen in poverty of the 1950s. The politicians and the ‘babus’ successfully befooled the ‘gullible’ have-nots for the last sixty-five years.

With the spread of electronic media, the have-nots became aware, understood that they were cheated and organised themselves into groups wielding political power. Such groups are now rising literally with the help of muscle power demanding equal rights. Had the have–nots been included in the progress graph of the country since inception, India could have avoided the huge turbulence it now faces.

Success of sinister forces such as the Maoists and other mafia groups is the result of the incompetence of self-serving administrative machinery that is mired in corruption. Stunned, unnerved and unable to handle the ugly situation, the civil administration will take recourse more frequently to call in the Army to rescue it from a scenario, which the former has created over a period of time in nexus with politicians.

The Indian Administrative Service (IAS), responsible for the developing chaos, is the core group in the administrative machinery. In spite of being the most unskilled segment within the government, it enjoys unprecedented powers! The scientists manning ISRO are skilled. Every government doctor is a professional and every military officer is highly trained in war-fighting and displays unparalleled administrative proficiency in the face of adversity.

The Indian Administrative Service (IAS), responsible for the developing chaos, is the core group in the administrative machinery. In spite of being the most unskilled segment within the government, it enjoys unprecedented powers!

The ability of military officers to govern efficiently by virtue of the training imparted has inducted the soldier, sailor and the airman in to the middle class lifestyle. On the other hand, sixty-five years later, the majority of the constituencies in rural areas under the ‘ babus’ continue to live in abject poverty, illiteracy and increasing lawlessness.

As they hold the key to policy making, the ‘babus’ have created the mess we are in today. Thus, it is necessary that training be imparted to make them move from the unskilled to the skilled segment within the government if India desires to be a power worth reckoning with.

In order to be respected as a ‘coveted service’, it is essential for the IAS to possess a repository of expertise that will help it to create an enabling environment for the citizens of this country. The IAS will need to acquire specialist skills in multiple areas to be able to govern successfully a diverse country like India. As a primary policy making body in the country, the IAS must draw and maintain the best pool of talent.

Direct recruitment of officers of IAS should, therefore, be limited to fifty per cent of the intake, the balance being drawn from different professions such as political scientists, economists, doctors, scientists, military, police and the private sector. The direct recruits must compulsorily be made to attend a course in management (MBA) within five years of their joining service in order for them to acquire executive proficiency.

Another component crying out for total transformation is the police a vital instrument of civil administration. The police force in India is ill equipped, ill trained and mired in corruption.

Despite the fundamentals of the Indian economy being strong, it has fallen apart on two counts. The intensity of the plunder of the treasury at all levels of the administration within a short span of time has led to economic gloom. The other reason is the huge cost of the ‘freebies’ being distributed by the desperate politicians to garner votes- all at the expense of the over-burdened taxpayer.

The ‘India Story’ has thus evaporated into thin air. Instead we now are in the midst of a rapidly developing massive civil strife. Internal security will remain under increasing stress. The external security situation is already under strain. In future, collapsing structures of civil administration will lean more and more on the Army to bail them out. It will not be a surprise if the Army has to raise a permanent Corps of Rashtriya Rifles in aid of the civil administration to help it douse self-ignited internal fires.

It will not be a surprise if the Army has to raise a permanent Corps of Rashtriya Rifles in aid of the civil administration…

To calm the internal turbulence and allow the civil administration to recoup and transform itself, will be a time consuming process. With the enemy attracted by the internal turbulence, the Army will need to hold the enemy at bay to create breathing space that will enable the politician, the civil administration and the people of the country to recover their poise, balance and cohesion.

It would, therefore, be prudent to equip the military at this stage with the best weapon platforms that will generate confidence and create deep offensive capabilities on the ground to ensure our adversaries are not tempted to fish in troubled waters!

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Bharat Verma

A former Cavalry Officer and former Editor, Indian Defence Review (IDR), and author of the books, India Under Fire: Essays on National Security, Fault Lines and Indian Armed Forces.

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29 thoughts on “Unmaking of a great power in the making…

  1. The system of civilian control was put in place after 1947 in a studied and deliberate manner, as the famous story of Gen. Thimmayya who had replaced Auchinleck at Teen Murti House and PM Jawaharlal Nehru suggests. It is the sagacity of the government of free India that turned the armed forces who were predatory occupation troops under foreign rule into defenders of the new nation’s boundaries. The higher echelons of the civil service generally have able and hardworking people, I don’t think quotas apply for promotions at senior levels. They may do so in the clerical grades. Internationally Indian negotiators at the WTO have had the reputation of being able to ring circles around their opponents from the industrial economes

  2. Genuinely true analysis. Ultimately forces have to come forward for any such eventuality. All four essential pillars for democracy may be cautioned well before such state of affair happens.

  3. Sensationalist and in poor taste. The armed forces have had their share of bad apples who nonetheless wangle plum positions. The elected organs of state have too many criminals in them for comfort. Earlier, politicians may have sought the help of criminals, but at some point the criminals thought that they might as well help themselves. The issue was debated at length by all political parties and the consensus was that there should be some limits to the number of serious criminal cases such as murder and rape for a person to stand for election. The parties felt that the number could not be zero as such cases can be maliciously filed by opponents of a candidate. This is spurious reasoning. If someone who is clean has cases slapped on them before an election, the courts should decide posthaste whether these cases are fraudulent and pronounce on them so that a candidate is cleared if innocent and nomination papers can be filed. Bashing the bureaucracy is another unfortunate pastime. As the steel frame, it is the bureaucracy who are permanent officers of state and actually hold the country together.There is nothing wrong in their being generalists as various departments of government expose them to new challenges. The civilian bureaucracy has ensured that the armed forces are kept under civilian control as stipulated by the constitution. Corruption in the cadre must of course be dealt with sternly.

    • Mr Nair…the fact is military has not been kept under civilian control..its the wise leadership of the military officers…who know that it can’t make another Pakistan here…having met a no of babus…very few I found worthy of being called officers.. As many reach that position bcoz they are Sc…st…and obc…yeah I agree these people may be having better scholastic aptitude…but that’s it……rampant misuse of powers……so openly..in all public departments ..that sometimes… It feels that we our wrong that’s how its suppose to be …..yes there are very few honest and capable..offers who either get sidelined..or are killed by politicians…but on the whole the so called the cream of our country let’s us down everywhere.. .

  4. This is beautifully written and has given words to the gut feeling I have been experiencing of late. The crumble of UOI is all too obvious. Especially when one returns from abroad, deplorable situation in our country in all the aspects the author has spoken, stand out even more. Absence of rule of law in our country in almost all walks of life is most noticeable in sharp contrast to these countries and is extremely frustrating. Jungle law seems to be progressing geometrically and each passing year is many times worse than the one gone by. One can’t but self pity.

  5. This article was written more than two years ago. The clairvoyance of the author deserves appreciation. The contents are more relevant today than they were two years ago. Despite the benefit of having received a clear mandate from the citizens of this country, the political class are on the verge of squandering their mandate by not coming good on most promises made to the nation.

  6. India is not sovereign, or democratic or any of the other touted platitudes considering its plagiarised (from the Government of India Act – 1935) Constitution to which Nehru and Ambedkar added ideas such as inequality under law, exceptions to the law and “the many nations theory” that they borrowed from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Why? Indians cannot even contest elections unless they are from chosen preferred castes/tribes/genders gerrymandered by law! India is a Kleptocracy. Kashmir is a fractal of India. The difficulty there is Islam. Inequity elsewhere, being less violent, is brushed under the carpet. While Hindus might have been ethnically cleansed from Kashmir in 1990 with the passive approval of the State, this has been happening to Brahmins in South India since 1921. Violence escalating and spreading in slow motion from which the technological and scientific might of the United States has been constructed. India is now 135th out of 172 nations in Human and Social Development and 143 rd out of 172 in internal peace and stability. Well below Sub Saharan Africa in the very image of its founders who condemned it to perpetual civil war and their preferred Indians.

  7. Excellant article, beaurocracy has failed country in primary task of governance, decline in its charecter and falling prey to lure of wealth and power have indulged in direct or indirect mis appropriation of money and wasteful expenditure, and int the end are victim of their own weaknesses and open to armtwisting by politicians, media, judiaciary and enemies of the country. This need to be rewamped immediately, first compulasorily retire all with doubtful integrity, rewrite protocols, ensure 100% audit of government expenditure, disapprove lavish life styles and break all syndicates, do away committee system where accountabilities r compromised and protect officers with integrity for genuine error of judgement. Transparency and zero tolrence 4 corruption is first point 2 begin with.

  8. Views reflect the anarchy that prevails in the country. However, the pessimism towards reversal is to my mind rather too strong. I believe that the common man is still in the process of transforming from a social animal to a self centered, bigoted commercial individual. If the society realises this important facet then the change needs to be induced amongst this category of personnel. People do appreciate good governance and rule of the law, as is evident in all those who have migrated to other countries but are probably unable to put their act together to fight the system, Their is no doubt that the privileged few with all their vices have become the brand ambassadors of happiness in our country but change if initiated by the society and led by the remnants of principled leaders, is very much possible. The few incidents at Delhi in the last few years instills a level of hope in me.
    Changes in the society are affecting the ethos, culture and grain of the Armed Forces also.More than equipping the Armed forces it is the human resource being inducted form this very society that needs to be ingrained with values. The divisive and group centric populist activities need to be eradicated and calibre and morals need to be restored their credence. The need is to retain and maybe revert to some good value based features of our Armed Forces. The biggest challenge is to shield the Armed Forces from the emerging changes in the society.
    The answer to the desired change is society and not the Armed Forces. Education and transformation in the law enforcement, in terms of authority and compliance, to my mind is the bedrock to the desired change.

  9. I informed my family that india would be worse than Pakistan or any other failed country, only much worse because of it’s population.
    I even requested, that no country should allow Indian neta-babus any refuge in their country as they are guilty for impoverishing india by mis-management & corruption > a la Rahul Gandhi caught by US customs with a bag full of US currency almost ¼ million US $ . . . .
    & the likesm of ex prez of india, pratibha patil !

  10. Dr. Bharath Verma ji is true.He is in fact reflecting the lack of vision that persists in all agencies.If only 10% of his sagacity could prevail in our babus,we could better.We always have a “policy of not having any policy” that lands us nowwhere.

  11. More important than incompetence in ensuring rapid depreciation of the system, are philosophical & intellectual corruption. This is easy to implement at a very core level: the laws and rules. Just follow some rules in writing laws and rules:
    1. Maximize the scope for discretionary decisions
    2. Minimize the clarity of the definitions
    3. Introduce a few illogical provisions
    4. Maximize the required documentation
    5. Maximize obfuscation
    6. Introduce sufficient executive decision-making steps as requirements
    Supplement the above with:
    a. Organizationally ensure low capability in decision-making
    b. Pack the system with committed people at the top and less competent people below (this can be arranged by getting in people who have no idea of the world at large, but are given immense power over the lives of the citizens)
    c. Evolve a system in which the time and mindspace available to those who look after the system is spent on (in decreasing order): the system, their bosses, themselves, their positions, their perks, their postings, their entitlements, their social interactions, their procedural work, their work, then – if there is any resource left: …………… their supposed constituents.
    People who spend a lifetime in their service may never find out what they should be really doing, because they are always looking up: to their masters, their bosses, their plums and grapes what may fall from above. Their frames of reference may never be built up except as seen from their high perches above the people that would give them only a bird’s eye view.
    What we need really is:
    a. less of these masters
    b. those who are required should get into the service after the age of 35 and based on competence in life and should not serve beyond 10 years
    c. nobody who works for government should have anything to do with government after they finish with it
    d. all appointments at senior levels should be based on public hearings
    This is just the basic idea.

  12. Justice Katju said that 90 % of indians are idiots.Warren Hastings in his despatches wrote that Indians have no concept of nation/State.They have only concepts of Family & caste.It is rightly said that People get theRulers they deserve,The rulers get the opposition they deserve & this rigmarole goes on & on.As Shakespeare once wrote ” There is something rotten in the state of Denmark [Read India ]. The Armed forces are doing a good job but they have also become neck deep in corruption.The Politicians & bureaucrats are jealous & mortally afraid of the armed forces taking over power.

  13. The individual is important in a democracy. People seem to be in conflict with laws, because they don’t know the law and how it pertains, don’t understand them, and usually, when the social phenomenon ‘crime’ manifests, it is not because people don’t know that in extreme cases, death is the penalty in serious crimes. Making laws isn’t any solution. People know, what the penalty is. What is unsettling, is that people might feel, that being convicted in court, is being seen as anti-social, by people who break laws, mostly. I mean, the person who collects bribes is bad, but not the numerous people who pay him/her. The courts should have a sanctity, whereby the person convicted has a certain dignity, in association with the court, if not the other constituents of the Indian state. I mention this, because no minister can resign, as the state will seem that there is no direction being given to it.

  14. The sad state of India today is due to poor governance. The Congress and the BJP are manned by corrupt leaders whose only interest is staying in power or gaining more power. What is the future like? China’s shadow will loom larger, Pakistan will continue its war on India with thousand cuts and plan more Mumbai type projects through its surrogates within and without under the flag of LeT. What can India do? Under its current leadership, other than empty threats, absolutely nothing based on the past. Why is it that most of the Asian nations have advanced into modern states with growing economies, higher standards of living and well functioning governments in the last several decades? Just look at our neighbor in the North. India and China started at the same point fourty years ago. Today, China has galloped into the 21st century as a super power while India is left behind with its teaming masses in a dirt poor economy. How long would this malaise continue? The people in India cannot stay passive any longer. They need to rise up nationwide like the Arab Spring in the Middle East and demand a structural change . It is time to think about doing away with the parliamentary system for a more centralized presidential system like in US for the sake of progress.

  15. Very well and honest article, a breath of fresh air among news of bad things in the country. India should first concentrate on providing 3 basics to its hundreds of millions of poor people – water/food, clothing & shelter and then try to think anything beyond that as this itself would be a daunting task.

  16. Very right but we can see this corrupt politician beaurocracy and industrialist nexus making way into defence set-up. It can fight external aggressors by even obsolete weapon as did in 1962 but Army is used more and more for Civil front to control internal enemy which will not keep level of apolitical nature of army for longer time. By delaying upgradation of arms etc by their own country is perhaps doing most damage.One can make any argument but its a truth that our status is same same state comparing to china. Whatever we improved in defence pre[atedness China has gone way ahead and our dumb and deaf politician is not listening this signal.

  17. VG article. The British left in 1947 but their thoughts and mode of governance continue to exisit. India’s problem is because it is governed in a manner ie different from its core self. Decentralization of power existed before the British centralized power. India is too big and diverse to manage in a centralzed way.

    Importantly the govt model is based on Democracy where citizens talk about their rights. India’s atma is Dharma where we talk about DUTY. There is a inherent disconnect between the two. Unless Indians both within and outside the Govt rediscover their soul we will continue like a rudderless ship.

  18. IAS & IPS officers manage the basic administrative block of the nation – the DISTRICT. Usually its their first independent assignment within their 2-3 years after they join the service. This 2-3 years also includes their training at respective Academies, attachments in the districts and a short stint as Asst Collectors/Sub Divisional Police officers under direct supervision of the DC/SP. These officers need to spend more time as AC/SDPO and some time in non-executive positions at the divisional and government level. They should be given districts around 6-8 years service. They will bring a better understanding and maturity to their responsibility and administer the districts and other institutions like Zilla Panchayats in a better manner.

  19. Mr. Verma’s article sums it all up. After sixty five years of independence, what has India got to show other than an expanding population of disenchanted, unhappy and disenfrachised population. Indians are sick and tired of poverty, corruption and diminishing hope with each successive year. Anna’s movement had some grassroot spark, but it failed to mobilize. The Congress and BJP are manned by corrupt leaders whose only interest is in staying in power or gaining more power. What is the future like? China’s shadow will loom larger, Pakistan will continue to plan more Mumbais and may succeed again. India as a nation will muddle along for another decade or two until states decide to break off for their short term benefits resulting inevitably in a civil war similar to what we are witnessing in the middle east. These are rather armchair-windbag forecasts but my fear is that some of these may come true unless we are ready to throw nearly all current leaders out, make national integration number one priority and commit to eradicating poverty more vigorously than China.

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