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A nation subverts itself - The Indian Express

Manvendra Singh ()
24 September 1997

Title: A nation subverts itself
Author: Manvendra Singh
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: September 24, 1997

A Jammu and Kashmir Rifles battalion lost eight soldiers in an ambush to
the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac-Muivah) group at
Chiesema, near Kohima on July 22. This was 10 days before the much-hyped
ceasefire between the security forces and the militant group was to come
into effect. Ceasefires are agreed upon on the basis of covert negotiations
and there is every reason to believe hush-hush talks were going on when the
ambush was placed. So what did the Government of India do after losing
eight of its soldiers? It went ahead with the ceasefire and allowed the
militants to don the caps of heroes. Any self-respecting State would have
gone after the militants to punish them, and then declared a ceasefire on
its own terms. The message that has gone to thugs, terrorists and others
with an eye on India is that the State is not merely weak, it is also meek.

This is an impression long held by many nations and is unlikely to have
been missed by those doling out memberships to the United Nations Security
Council. They are in the business of running the security policies of the
world body for the last 50 years. How well or badly has that performance
been is another matter altogether, but what is certain is that they have
participated in international security decision-making with one paramount
objective- the promotion and preservation of their national interests.
There is no internationalist brotherly solidarity and such other nonsense,
but simply furthering their national goals. At the end of the day it takes
a realisation of the fundamentals of national security to be a player in
the international arena. Participation at the world level is concomitant
to the demonstrated achievements of national security objectives. To have
that international responsibility bestowed on it a nation has to first
exhibit its performance at the national level. And in that respect India is
a loser from the word go.

The absence of a national security doctrine born out of the internal,
regional and international environment has created a situation wherein
policies change at the drop of a ballot. A government in New Delhi created,
financed and armed sundry Bodo groups in order to put pressure on a
disliked Assam administration. The same recipe was once applied in Punjab,
and produced a bloodbath. The picture is now pretty much similar in the
Bodo areas to the extent that they are even ambushing security forces sent
by New Delhi. And a tiny sneeze of a country is allowing the Bodos to
operate with impunity. It wants to apply a squeeze on India, and in the
process they are using terrorist groups once armed and financed by the
Government of India and who are now killing Indian soldiers to do their
dirty job. A schoolboy could not have scripted a worse thriller story.

Another government attempted the identical formula in bullying a
civilisationally similar neighbour. Training camps were run on Indian soil
for terrorist groups trying to divide that country. And by the end of the
decade India had lost upwards of 1200 soldiers to one of those groups in a
war the nation would rather not be reminded about. For good reason too,
since all the charges of state-sponsored terrorism and subversion come back
to haunt India. Little wonder that despite the crude and blatant Pakistani
indulgence of terrorists and thugs unfriendly toward India the world chose
to ignore New Delhi's pleas to paste labels on Islamabad. Can't blame the
world. But New Delhi can certainly be blamed when it, for instance,
creates and finances a Naga group that is led by a foreign national. It
then allows that group to operate in India, killing Indian citizens at
will, and subsequently negotiates with that group in another country! Who
is then left to blame if India subverts itself?

When despite its immense size and potential India does not feature on the
world radar but as a blip it is not because it possesses amazing stealth
features. Rather, it is on account of the fact that India is a nation
unable to comprehend what on earth it is doing. The carelessness with which
decisions are made, executed, rescinded and lastly denied communicates to
the world one simple message - take India for granted. The most telling
example of this tendency is the manner in which the country's nuclear
research and development programme has been subverted. There is a
deliberate use of the word subvert for that is the only manner to describe
what has been done to the programme. The most advanced in Asia it was,
until China blew the bomb in 1964. Sure, India blew one too, but the story
how it was managed, and what has since then been done to the nuclear
programme is a sorry tale. But, once again, the world does not feel sorry
for India if they feel anything at all for the country.

Most merely acknowledge its existence and those countries that
pay-attention to India consider it to be a wannabe without the vision
thing. And it is the lack of that vision for and of India that always takes
it into a cul de sac. For that vision does not exist amongst the
decision-makers. If it did then those thugs from Mumbai who conspired to
blow up the city could not have been allowed to frolick in one of the Gulf
sheikhlings. A determined State would have hounded the Sheikh or organised
a snatch operation. Lesser nations have been known to have done that.
When such be the state of the Indian State what chance does it have of
securing its place under the sun, currently regarded to be a permanent seat
in the UN Security Council?

Not much honestly, for the world just does not stomach a loser and a
whiner. It respects a nation that has clearly spelt-out objectives, goals
and perceptions of what it wants from the world; and what it aims to do in
order to achieve those targets. When India declares its national security
doctrine without waffling on the uncomfortable bits, when it sets into
motion efforts to realise its precepts and when its demonstrations of
national will begin to announce results, only then will India be regarded
with respect and seats vacated for it. Until then all it can do is to stand
in line and collect its dole. The only power, thus, that can help India in
fulfilling its ambitions is the Indian State; and the only power that can
prevent India from realising its aspirations is the Indian State itself.

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