Military & Aerospace

Illiteracy of War Drums
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 02 May , 2013

In a recent TV debate on the Chinese intrusion in Ladakh, to a suggestion by a veteran Army General that India should be resolute in response, a Member Parliament from the ruling party said, “Yeh badi badi moochon wale general larai karwa kar chodenge (these big mustachioed Generals will plunge us into war).

Lack of governance and defence preparedness, plus incoherent strategy has undoubtedly created asymmetries vis-a-vis China.

The irony is that we are chock-a-block full with politicians of this breed who were best described as “Post Tortoise” by a wise farmer, which he amplified by saying, “When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s a Post Tortoise. You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there, he’s elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb jackass put him up there to begin with.” This specific Post Tortoise should have been asked, has one single military veteran ever recommended in the first place that this bunch of banner totting Chinese picnicking at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) be attacked and wiped out or bombed?

The problem is that these Post Tortoises cannot visualize anything between war and groveling diplomacy – read inaction. Hence, disdain and arrogant retorts to sane advice of the ‘mustachioed General’. For them, any physical action whatsoever signifies direct beating of war drums. These are the fellows who perched atop the fence post are responsible for the nation’s security but do not see the a requirement of any national security strategy or even a standard operating procedure despite numerous intrusions and offensive actions by the Chinese who capitalize on fear psychosis of the Indian hierarchy.

Ask the government and take a bet they cannot reply why the ITBP guarding the LAC in DBO Sector is not under the Army and why is the Indian Army not responsible for complete land borders. Therefore, the gumption of the Chinaman in merrily intruding 30 kilometres inside your territory, with Xi Jinping  surveying the scurrying chicken with some running to nanny for advice and the Prime Minister with the Foreign Minister in tow still insisting this is “localized action”.

One wonders how many read the article by Manas Chakravarty titled “Lost but not found” in Hindustan Times dated 26 June 2011, saying that the real Manmohan Singh is gallivanting in Pattaya Beach and that his replacement back home is a robotic marvel made to order by the Japanese and wondered how much of it is fiction. As for the Post Tortoise, any mention of physical action gives him hallucinations of massive cyber and nuclear strikes by China. Mercifully, most of them, if not all, would be unaware of the Chinese term ‘Shaoshou Jian’ or Assassin’s Mace least much more panic would generate.  But then how can you expect the Port Tortoise to imagine that physical actions can also be other than direct attack, which can nonplus the attacker and make him recoil.

If only Nehru had followed just the first part, then we would have not halted operations in 1948 when Pakistanis were on the run. There would have been no POK and we would be linked with Afghanistan through the Wakhan Corridor with China treating us differently.

Writings in India, are full of quotes by Sun Tzu like, “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill”. Very appropriate and we get awed by the Chinese following it religiously, for are aren’t these numerous intrusions and changing claim lines part of the same philosophy? But then Chanakya too had said that if the end could be achieved by non-military method, even by methods of intrigue, duplicity and fraud, he would not advocate an armed conflict.

Many of our Post Tortoises would perhaps not be aware who Chanakya was, what he wrote in 6th Century BC and if you tell them he said, “As soon as fear approaches near, attack and destroy it”, their immediate response will be to equate Chanakya with the ‘mustachioed Generals’ who can only think of ‘attack’; signifying beating of war drums. These fellows are the Ahmad Shah Abdalis of today; without a clue to attack fear and indulge in foolish action like Abdali leading a war on the sun. Those of us who have read Chanakya’s (also known as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupt) ‘Arthashastra’ would agree that Chanakya was at par, if not greater than Sun Tzu. Chankya wrote of “Silent War” including use secret agents, sowing discord amongst the enemy, use of ‘disinformation’ and the like. To the ignorant polity of ours, Arthashastra will perhaps be thought of as “Earthshastra” with visions of it being a treatise to optimize illegal mining for making billions. But the fact is that Arthshastra should be compulsory education for the ruling hierarchy with periodic quizzing to ensure it actually sinks in.  For that matter, the teachings of Gita too are excellent exposition for developing conflict strategy but that would be taboo on grounds of vote bank secularism practiced by our Post Tortoises.

Chanakya’s pearls include, “Your neighbor is your natural enemy state. The neighbor of your neighbor is your friend”. He did not by any logic preach that one must go for war against the neighbor but advocated an entire spectrum of statecraft to handle neighbours on the premise that the neighbor could be an enemy or potential enemy. Therefore, his teachings contained a five-fold approach; conciliation, gift and bribery, dissention, deceit and pretence, open attack or war. He also advocated that the ruler should not hesitate to break any friendship or alliances that are later found to be disadvantageous.

If only Nehru had followed just the first part, then we would have not halted operations in 1948 when Pakistanis were on the run. There would have been no POK and we would be linked with Afghanistan through the Wakhan Corridor with China treating us differently. Similarly, he would have not had the blind faith in the Chinese with Chou-en-Lai befooling him completely in 1962. But why talk of 1948 and 1962? In hindsight, Nehru’s successors should have at least taken in the second part of this advice by Chanakya – “The neighbor of your neighbor is your friend”. Had we followed this, we would have had our own string of pearls surrounding China and not the other way round. But nothing is lost even now.

Ironically, over this entire span of decades since 1948 to-date, of shall we say dismal statecraft, the present ruling party has the predominant lion’s share of causing national loss, both in terms of territory and prestige.

Through the follies of our Post Tortoises, we lost control of practically one third of Jammu and Kashmir in 1948; 13,297 square kilometers to be precise. Then was the usurping of 38,000 square kilometers of Aksai Chin by China followed by the illegal ceding of the 5,860 square kilometers of Shaksgam Valley by Pakistan to China. But it did not stop at this. Then has been the periodic swallowing (not nibbling) of Indian Territory by China, mostly kept under wraps by our petrified Post Tortoises, as is being attempted presently in relation to the Chinese intrusion in DBO.

Yet our Post Tortoises want to cover up portraying the 30 kilometres deep intrusion as 19 kilometres – as if the latter is of no consequence. It was depressing to listen to former Ambassador Stobdan (who hails from Ladakh) on national TV (29 April 203) telling us that since 1980, in Ladakh itself over 400 square kilometers of Indian Territory have been lost to China over and above the 38,000 square kilometers in Aksai Chin.  Ironically, over this entire span of decades since 1948 to-date, of shall we say dismal statecraft, the present ruling party has the predominant lion’s share of causing national loss, both in terms of territory and prestige.

Lack of governance and defence preparedness, plus incoherent strategy has undoubtedly created asymmetries vis-a-vis China. Our border communications and infrastructure are pathetic despite the hollow declarations of improvement. Given the current dispensation, these asymmetries are not going to go away in a hurry and may even increase. Those who talk of ‘first’ get over the asymmetry are living in a fool’s paradise. What we need to do is to target the mind of the enemy. “The arrow shot by an archer may or may not kill a single person; but skilful intrigue, devised by wise men, may kill even those who are in the womb“, said Kautilya. China has numerous vulnerabilities that are targetable and she knows them. That is where we need to apply pressure, however, this should not be misconstrued that we should not resort to acupressure in Ladakh also.

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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

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is a former Lt Gen Special Forces, Indian Army

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14 thoughts on “Illiteracy of War Drums

  1. Let me remind you that M S Aiyar is also the same person who says talks with Pakistan should be uninterrupted and uninterruptible and on a debate on Headlines Today he said that our foreign policy should be based on MORALITY.
    Well with this kind of peacenik approach we can guess where our national security is heading!!

  2. Some years back, Mani Shankar Aiyar made fun of J.Jayalalitha, the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, when she gifted an elephant to Guruvayur temple.He said that Jayalalitha should have gifted herself to the temple instead of the elephant – alluding to her sturdy physical frame.

    Much later, when Jayalalitha addressed a public meeting with Aiyar on the dais,
    she dared him to repeat the comment.

    Aiyar did not have the courage to open his mouth but was believed to have wetted his pants.

    What else can one expect from a coward like him.


  3. A well written article, which puts our loud mouth arm chair strategists in their place. Mani Shankar Aiyyar is a particularly offensive character who should be drummed out of any media discussions

  4. I hope these chair bound sycophants who pretend to understand diplomacy will someday step out of their cocoons and live and face the enemy at LAC. Maybe then they will understand your writings. An excellent summary of our policies.

  5. I find it curious that apart from Indian media reflecting the views of analysts, commentators, MPs and nameless defence personnel, that there seems to be no acknowledgement in the global media about an international border incursion by troops of a world superpower into the territory of a nuclear armed nation. Is this because there is actually no internationally independent authority that can verify the sanctity of the border separating these two immense countries and therefore no one knows if there has been a real intrusion? Imagine the intensity of military and diplomatic posturing reflected in the world media if this was an ‘intrusion’ involving the two Koreas where the borders are clearly demarcated and internationally acknowledged? I think all this discussion in India is premature unless the two countries go about mapping their borders properly with electronic marker posts incorporating motion sensors and GPS transponders and register these markers with an independent authority, which then lends credibility to any such intrusions. This will no doubt be a far more cheaper and credible exercise than spending billions of dollars in armaments that the Indian defence forces will ultimately never be allowed to use because their overly-scheming political masters won’t have the wherewithal to allow them to engage with such an enemy.

  6. The Indian Constitution and laws have fostered a governance of free loaders without accountability, morality or sense of responsibility. It is amazing that Mani Shankar G Aiyar Saheb has escaped being appointed to the “China Study Group” which, I understand, on the basis of its extraordinary military, political, economic, historical, aesthetic, poetic, geographic, linguistic and diplomatic competence has been appointed as the supreme arbiter of how much land India may cede to China, when and in what fashion and at what price.

  7. “Post Tortoise” are the root cause of our country. When are they going be out of their slumber?????? May be when Chinese have reached Leh!!!!
    Great understanding of the problem and very aptly put across.

  8. There’s a idiot splattering his walls in the comment section. Please ban him.

    He is ruining the pure brilliance of the article. I’m glad that the army has officers like you.

  9. a) Chanakya belonged to the 4th and 3rd century BC. b)His name wasnt Kautilya. Kautilya is the name of a gotra, more like a surname, if you will. Chanakya would have been more like a cognomen. c) Chanakya in his Vridda-Chanakya also said that women should be obedient and under complete control of their husbands. wondering if this washout wants that too… d) Chanakya was a product of his times, wonder if we are still struck there… e) Cry all you want… the Chinese will do what they want, simply because they can… all this “voodoo” magic this venerable vulture is talking about… vis-a-vis spying and encouraging conflict within china, china is again stronger in this area… look around you, you will find plenty of examples… so, heres another quote from one of the books you so blatantly misused:

    क्रोधादः भवथि संमोहः
    संमोहात स्मृति विब्रमः
    स्मृति-भ्रंसद बुद्धि-नसो
    बुस्षि-नासत प्रणश्यति

    I wonder if you even know sanskrit, so heres a translation:

    Delusion arises from anger.
    The mind is bewildered by delusion.
    Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered.
    One falls down when reasoning is destroyed.

    Wonder who the post tortoise is now…

    • Dear Sriram,

      The language you use is in the least disgusting. Be that it may…

      Nobody here suggests retaliation in anger. Suffice to say that if you let a bully be, he will forever be one…retaliate once and even if you get a bloody nose, he will keep away having suffered even a fraction of a bloody nose.

      Col KL Viswanathan

    • aap ko kabhi border le chalenge aur whan do din chor denge phir dekhte hain aapke parivar walon ka kya khayaal hai …. Pak ya Cheen nahi sirf Bangladesh ke border rifles ke saath … phr aapko Chanakya neeti bhi sikhayenge ….. Aur agar aapko hindi samajh nahi aati to hum hinustan ke kisi bhi bhasha mein samjhayenge …. Shubh Din ho aapka ….

  10. it pleases me no end to have some one call the pompous mani shankar iyer a ‘post tortoise’.
    every word of that definition fits him.
    here is the resident oracle of ndtv where anchors are required to cue him for arrogant outbursts that pass for great secular wisdom.
    i vividly recall this poseur of a venerable elder, stand as a supplicant, arms folded across his chest, slightly bowed, standing about 6′ to the side and behind jayalalitha who introduced him briefly, without once looking at him, as the candidate for the parliament from mayiladuthurai constituency. that is only time, i think, this man won an election.
    he has mostly been a resident in comfort on the fence post, sticking his neck out bravely only in the presence of pampering anchors.

  11. Excellent article Sir!! that’s why our country believes that its army is top notch and capable of defending our borders. Present government has lost touch with the masses hence any attempts to belittle or discourage the army should be taken with a pinch of salt. Salute to our soldiers !!

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