How Pulwama Changed India forever!
Enough has been written about the Pulwama incident. No more detail is required. However, it has set a lot of things in motion for India and the world. That is the soul of this essay. Suffice it is to say that India has joined the league of nations who will enter enemy territory to strike at the sponsors and their foot soldiers, who cause harm to its law abiding citizens.
Over the last few years, nationalism and national security have attained mainstream global attention. It was assumed that only some countries were susceptible to security risks. The spate of terrorist attacks in New York, London and Paris meant that nobody was really cocooned. Add to it, the attacks on a megapolis like Mumbai and rebel attacks by Naxals in India. It is also to be noted that countries that harboured terrorists directly or indirectly were not safe either. This led to citizenry asking for security around the world. Governments beefed up their security, asked for participation from the citizenry and this led to a sense of belonging and therefore spirit of Nationalism.
Why terrorism? A root cause analysis of this negative attention seeking apparently beneﬁts, points out to the following.
- Sovereign violations and trade imbalances.
- Apparently, the business of terrorism to avenge the so called excesses was a proﬁtable proposition. For some countries ( more speciﬁcally for their Army and politicians) it became a low cost, high impact proxy with very little costs, aimed to be in center stage and squeeze more money from donors to serve the donors’ political interests . In short, nuisance value was proﬁtable.
- Jobless growth around the world created unemployment which led to disenchanted people who found this a good source of income, never mind potential loss of life.
- Territorial expansionist maneuvers of certain countries
- Search for Oil and mineral resources ended up in deprivation of local economies.
- Last but not the least, need for dominance and spread of religion to across boundaries to create a large bargaining power base through subversion, violence, conversion and economic inducements.
As can be seen from above, nationalism, economic sanctions and a conventional military solutions to this problem is the need of the hour, a common refrain of the citizenry. Law abiders have realized that, soft talk, negotiations, liberal views, walking the ﬁrst mile do not work. This may not be entirely true, but the good people have lost patience. This is no good, but who is to blame, but we, the democratic civil society represented by the politicians. They served us what we asked, to keep themselves in power. The collateral impact could therefore be global businesses and immigration.
Cut to India, where many decades of soft governance resulted in undermining of government. We the people were too busy ﬁghting for reservations, education, employment, opportunities, wealth creation and migration for better opportunities. An Ostrich approach! Governance then, meant unabated peacenikism, appeasement, pliability, soft gloves, power preservation and more important extracting narrow beneﬁts. National security, led to delayed purchases, defence budget disproportionate to economic size and needs. The absence of a strong federal power through years of coalition and rise of regional powers meant paralysis in decision making. This saw India experience frequent terrorist attacks, blackmailing to free terrorists.
Pliable politicians, certain sections of the academia and the so called liberals pitching for human values, peace with trouble makers,appeasement to contain. This led to death of many civilians and more important death of our soldiers. More soldiers died at peace stations than theater of war. This also diverted legislative attention from development to apathy and containment. No permanent defence and certainly no offense was the stated policy. All we did was to drape our brave hearts in the Tricolor, without any will to solve the core issue and hoping for the best. Classical case of Stockholm syndrome.
It is against this backdrop, that the current situation is to be seen. Rise of Donald Trump, Advent of Narendra Modi, return of Mahathir Mohammed, a change in strategy by the Saudis led by MBS is not an exception,but a trend.
Now coming to Pulwama. Pulwama is not a cause, but an important trigger for India. The trigger to stated muscularity in policy. Pulwama was preceded by Surgical strikes by Indian army in Myanmar and then in LOC Kashmir. Doklam was a trigger too. The difference was by the time Pulwama happened, India awoke to wondering about its own existence, as a country. This is certainly not the last retaliation.
In parallel, efforts were underway to arm and equip out forces, even if it meant in a ready to shoot condition, a deviation from erstwhile policy of local production even for immediate needs. Efforts were also made to tighten the funding of sympathizers from within;, demonetisation being one of them ( it had other beneﬁts and certain drawbacks too, but it was good at gross levels). This was also in conjunction with hectic diplomatic parleys by Indian missions worldwide. Mind games and optics to test enemy’s response were also carried out in this period.
From here where and what will be the impact way forward for India speciﬁcally:
- Offensive retaliation will be a way of life and sometimes, right at the door of the enemy mainly aimed at the terrorists and their masters alike.
- Proxy war will become costly for those who use it as state policy. End of" It is not us but them". The citizenry of such countries will also wonder why they need to go this way. It will not be easy for strategists of proxy war to justify.
- Multi theater military action is not ruled out.! Concerted action by like-minded powers, to subjudicate and perhaps contain nations, that play the double game will be real.
- Coordination of nations, to curb ﬁnancial crime, tax evasion and illegitimate money, that often funds terrorism will be way of life. It is WIP.
- Tracking of people using single identiﬁcation will be the norm. Technology will certainly aid. Aadhar is perhaps the ﬁrst one of the block. There will be interoperability between ID's. I was surprised to ﬁnd abroad, that Aadhar can be QR scanned to reveal the authenticity of displayed data. Wait until it is veriﬁed online.
- Silent abettors of nuisance using third party nations will take a backseat, given that their own claim of being civil and statesman like will be punctured.
- A sense of unanimity will come in amongst politicians since they will have no alternative, given public opinion. This will be especially true in matters of defence, economics and public good.
- There will be a minor loss of unchecked civil liberties and hope is that it will not go farther than needed.
- While war costs money, a decisive war also brings peace in conjunction with policy and diplomacy. Therefore, the high growth economy will be used to fund military action.
- There will be focus on compliance specially in governance and tax collections. This may actually lead to reduced tax rates as a result of buoyancy in revenues. This will lead to decisiveness in approach in all spheres of policy including defence and also commerce . Fortunately , we are blessed with a strong economy.
- Regional parties, while still remaining inﬂuential, will have to contend, with a strong central party. Forced alignment.
- Silent majority will certainly be more expressive of opinions.
Some politicians, media men, liberal thinkers and activists have not gauged it, deeply enough as yet. A state of denial, based on empirical statistics exists, but this is a revitalised and new citizenry and for them, it will be a new normal.
Overall, we are moving towards strong intent, strong action and strong governance.
It is all about us, who we are, to get to what we want; which is peace, growth, and enduring democratic values, with a difference - strong action! Politics in India will certainly be more rallying, around the lightning rod. The net result will be that person or a group, that will lead us to the next orbit will go farther. Let us be decisive in electing them to empower them and support them whole heartedly when there is intent and integrity. At the same time, we must seek accountability and state expectations.
The death of our brave hearts, has certainly been an inﬂexion point. May their sacriﬁces not be in vain. Thathasthu (so be it)!