Geopolitics

'India First' Policy Mandatory: What they don’t teach in Indian schools!
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Issue Vol 16.2 Apr-Jun2001 | Date : 03 Aug , 2015
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The five thousand years of civilisation we talk of can be broken in two distinct periods. The first four thousand years appear to be an age of enlightenment. Though I was not there! The last one thousand years (more or less) are recorded as an era of servitude and bondage. Once again I was not there! New Delhi accumulated all the wrong characteristics from the latter.

The bottom line: We were led. We did not lead. Independent India inherited rulers who were led. Therefore, were unable to lead. Due to a historical error committed by an Indian Emperor earlier, this picture was already muddy. He laid down arms in victory, as he could not stomach violence. A terrible mistake. Result: Since 1947 New Delhi has refused to wield arms decisively.

In this dog-eat-dog world, the political class of 1947 vintage naively believed that the nation could do without the military. It merely needed a police force. This bent of mind is more astounding after coming out of a record-breaking subjugation. After all, why will any nation attack such a peace loving country? Someone sure did! Pakistan. The year was 1947. Irony that Pakistan’s onslaught endures in 2001. Reason: New Delhi more or less continues to be dominated by the generation born prior to Independence with all its mental hang-ups. The toll taken by these one thousand years is enormous. To rise beyond the led syndrome appears almost impossible! Casualty: India First policy.

We were led. We did not lead. Independent India inherited rulers who were led. Therefore, were unable to lead.

By treating national interests as secondary instead of primary concern, individuals and adversaries profited. But the nation lost. In 1947 by running to the UN on Kashmir individual fame spread. In 1962 by refusing to use the air power due to fear of escalation of hostilities (the led syndrome!) Indian military was humiliated for no fault of theirs. In 1965 we could not make up our minds as to what exactly were we doing on the outskirts of Lahore. In 1971 our generosity got the better of us. Bhutto returned without signing on the dotted line on Kashmir. Being gentlemen, we were worried as to how this guy will face his people.

Similarly, IPKF in Sri Lanka faced two fronts — Tamil Tigers on one hand and RAW funded training of LTTE on the other! First-rate politico-military circus. In 1999 we refused to cross the line of control or bomb Skardu (to disrupt enemy supply lines) for fear of escalation, though Pakis were inside Kargil without an invitation. Result: New Delhi claimed victory. Islamabad asserted it as vehemently. Bill Clinton did not lag behind! India’s restraint and maturity were lauded internationally. Naturally, since we had been led for too long, we loved the appreciation so showered. Political right had never received so much attention!

However, if political right had permitted crossing of the LoC with limited purpose, it would have won the elections with a bang. Besides the nation would have sent a strong signal. Synergy between national aims and personal political ambitions was a distinct possibility. Our political class could not achieve even this beneficial sync! Lets face facts. New Delhi must not suffer from any hallucination that the international community is going to come and fight our wars for us.

We must stop acting as a florist who deliver terrorists to Kandahar or allow them safe passages from mosques or anywhere else.

Subsequently a Limited War concept was bandied around. Fine. We conduct a limited war but if the enemy does not adhere to those limits, then what? No answer. User-friendly advice: Never try to make love and war at the same time. They don’t jell. War is war. Be prepared for wars without limits. Do not wage it unless you have courage (besides clear politico-military objectives) in ample measure. Corollary: Those who do not have courage are enslaved.

India First doctrine has been overlooked elsewhere too. Whoever legislated Illegal Migrants Act for Assam did a disservice to the nation. India took a knock in favour of personal vote bank politics. Strangely, here the onus falls on the administration to prove that an illegal immigrant is illegal! In rest of India the foreigners’ act shifts the onus of proof on the illegal immigrant. To proclaim that in Assam this tide of humanity which floods our land is a pre-requisite for development is horrendous. That the political groups cannot join hands and repeal the act displays how low in priority are the factors affecting the nation’s security.

If we are secular as we profess, article 370 must be repealed in J&K — demographic flow and settlement of population from rest of the country into this state is a necessity. We must stop acting as a florist who deliver terrorists to Kandahar or allow them safe passages from mosques or anywhere else. Ceasing of operations in Kashmir was a blunder that tied the security forces in knots. Do we really need to declare one ceasefire after another in our own territory? The list runs long since 1947. All along New Delhi has had an attitude problem! Foremost, this erroneous disposition of mind needs a change. Hypothetically, let’s assume for a moment New Delhi has a change of heart and is willing to lead. In such an (unlikely) eventuality, the blue print for action to secure Indian interests more or less will be based on common sense.

Without any rhyme or reason Pakistan for the past fifty-three years has been exporting hatred in one form or the other into India. The aim: To destabilise India. Wrest Kashmir. Stretch the military power beyond redemption. Export terrorism and poison the secular fabric.

Without any rhyme or reason Pakistan for the past fifty-three years has been exporting hatred in one form or the other into India. The aim: To destabilise India. Wrest Kashmir. Stretch the military power beyond redemption. Export terrorism and poison the secular fabric. Beef up fundamentalist forces and criminal elements within India with funds and weapons to bring the administration on its knees. Fumbling by New Delhi will create a grim backlash by the majority. The Jihad Factory in our backyard from Pakistan to Afghanistan plots against India everyday. Therefore it needs to be crippled.

After Kargil, Pak aided Madrassas and Mosques dot the skyline and are creeping towards Leh and Ladakh. To put the economy in a tailspin, the Pakistan government is pushing in fake currency into India. Innocents are being killed in J&K by terrorists, all in Allah’s name. Here, the irony is that New Delhi has more Allah than Islamabad! ISI has spread its tentacles to create mayhem inside India, from Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Hatred for India is being instilled in young students of Pakistan since 1947. Nuclear blackmail is order of the day.

Majority of the Pakistani Jihad groups in tandem with the military, daydream to hoist their flag on Red Fort. New Delhi’s weak response continues to fuel this dream! We can talk as much as we want. Hatred for India will not go away since that’s the sole reason for sub-nationalities in Pakistan to stick together. Bottom line: Pakistan’s present format has to be changed.

If Pakistan can keep India bogged down and South Asia is in constant turmoil, (with Russia down,) China can have a field day in Asia. Therefore, all debates (concerning nuclear, military or armaments) that should be between India and China are skillfully being converted to India vs. Pakistan scenarios.

Common sense dictates that sixty per cent of the threats to India originate from Pakistan. New Delhi should be alarmed with this bottom line assessment. Instead it is in a tizzy by placing restrictions on its intellectuals since it has failed to impose any on Pakistan. That’s like looking at the problem from wrong end of the barrel! India’s option: Judicious combination of geopolitical factors with bold covert and overt actions to force a re-format in the West.

Whoever thinks that Indo-Pak summit will yield results is living in a make-believe world. President Musharraf is a byproduct of the Jihadi movement himself. His Corps Commanders kept mum in the recent conference held by the CEO. They bide their time! Fundamentalists are raving and ranting. CIA Director’s reported clandestine visits to Pakistan will not undo the Catch-22 situation that prevails inside. With China as the current benefactor of Pakistan and ISI, chances are almost nix! China is a major beneficiary and Pakistan the front paw that does its bidding.

The compulsion to remove this sixty per cent threat acquires urgency so that India may breath easy from Kashmir to the Northeast. Chinese game plan is simple: If Pakistan can keep India bogged down and South Asia is in constant turmoil, (with Russia down,) China can have a field day in Asia. Therefore, all debates (concerning nuclear, military or armaments) that should be between India and China are skillfully being converted to India vs. Pakistan scenarios.

The minor decrease in Pak defence budget should be viewed as a part of this ploy on one hand and IMF imposed conditions, on the other. In any case Pakistan retains the low cost (with minimal budget) export of terrorism as a weapon of the state! Where is the respite that New Delhi continues to search in vain? Maoists are gaining ground in Nepal because of China mainly. And partially due to faulty governance. In Fiji the fleeing Indian population is being replaced with thousands of illegal Chinese immigrants to increase their influence in the region.

Chinese practically have their hands in every till. It is alleged that Beijing is investing into the Indian religious movements. The intention appears to use them as an instrument that can enhance the pacifist tendencies within India!

To many in India, it appears that the insides of China are in pink. This is more due to the effective Chinese psy war. With unstoppable march of democracy, the central authority will be diluted and Democratic China automatically is likely to pose a lesser danger in its neighborhood.

How do you defend India from Indians? For its inaction, New Delhi should be prepared to answer this question to its electorate. Or accept the premise that Indian interests are supreme. Therefore the uncalled for multi-layered threat posed by Pakistan which constitutes sixty per cent of the sum total must be resolved and removed by all necessary means at the disposal of the state. The secular fabric has to be preserved. The majority in India underwrites that. However, unsettling Pakistani activities are forcing a communal divide. The increasing insecurity and frustration in the minds of the majority finds helplessness written all over them. From Mumbai to Manipur! A developing flash point. This quickly needs to be undone.

Appearance of a temporary retreat by Pakistan that is in isolation due to a crumbling economy is merely a tactical retreat. After re-grouping, Pakistani venom will hit India with double the force. Therefore, instead of being zapped later, it is advisable in a strategic reversal for us to redirect frustrations of the nation on to Pakistan. Savvy leadership will always transfer the war (and war is fought in many ways) to the enemy heartland to minimise collateral damage!

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To many in India, it appears that the insides of China are in pink. This is more due to the effective Chinese (unlike India’s withdrawal symptoms) psy war. With unstoppable march of democracy (and as Beijing is gradually forced to concede political freedom to its people) the central authority will be diluted. Democratic China automatically is likely to pose a lesser danger in its neighborhood. Yet, while upgrading our political and economic contacts with China, we must enunciate a counter strategy to contain their ambitions in Asia.

The new generation possesses the skills to implement bold policies provided the Mughal Darbar wakes up. Time is running out!

This article was first published in IDR Vol. 16 (2) Apr-Jun 2001.

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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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