Violence unleashed upon a nation can only be met by developing the capability to counter the violence. In the 21st century, unless societies with deep-rooted beliefs in non-violence and pacifism secure themselves with a grid of violence provided by a lean and mean military machine, their survival as a nation state will be in question.
Military is an instrument of violence and not non-violence.
The Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force are meant to respond swiftly to neutralise violence let loose by the enemy to overwhelm a pacifist society. Thus, war-waging capabilities are required to be superior to that of the enemy. This in turn helps protect the trading community that generates wealth not only for itself but for the nation as well. The population can thus be secured from outside interference and can continue to practice its way of life and conduct its business successfully.
If there is no grid of violence to protect and preserve the community preaching non-violence then 'Tibet' happens.
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Violent communist China gobbled up Tibet, which was independent and committed to non-violence. Steeped in the philosophy of peaceful co-existence exported from India, Tibet practically maintained no military force to defend its way of life. Lhasa looked up to New Delhi to protect it from invasion by China. However, the two nations rooted in concept of 'non-violence' were unlikely to rush to each other's defence even though it was definitely in India's national interest to halt Chinese advance into Tibet. British India had a military plan in place to defend Tibet but the confused peaceniks of Independent India, afflicted with withdrawal symptoms, had none.
Today, unfortunately, a large part of the Tibetan population stands displaced from its homeland and lives in exile in more than forty countries. The remaining population is subjugated by the demographic changes caused by the Han Chinese in its homeland. Worse, a culture similar to that of India was snuffed out. In so doing, not only geographical but also cultural space was permitted to be usurped in India’s vicinity.
Unlike her father who surrendered space in the neighbourhood, Mrs Gandhi who was not a pacifist, permitted space to be occupied inside the Indian territory by foreigners. She imposed Illegal Migrants Tribunal Act (IMDT) in Assam in 1983 indulging in vote-bank politics. By the time it was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 2005, migration in millions of Bangladeshi took place changing demographic profile that now pits locals in Assam against illegal foreigners in perpetual conflict.
Three weaknesses persist in society composed of pacifists.
First, such societies neglect their military preparedness.
Second, they mess up the internal administration out of sheer mismanagement creating pockets of unwanted influence. India created Maoists and now vote-bank-politics is generating Talibanised pockets of influence – both have weakened the state from within.
Third, the peaceniks cede or vacate space quickly under pressure. Communities that profess non-violence are escapists by nature and their influence contracts under the ruthlessness of philosophies expanding their sway. Communist China and Pakistan are increasing their footprints by shrinking India's influence in its neighborhood.
Advocates of 'non-violence', Gandhi and Nehru similarly blundered by ceding space to create Pakistan. The Islamic Republic produced an Islamic Army, which in turn, generated a huge force of Islamic Irregulars - the Jihad factory. This not only extinguished multi-cultural space within Pakistan, essential for India's well-being but also limited New Delhi's access to Afghanistan and Central Asia. All three today are poised with the singular aim of destabilising India.
A group of pacifists in New Delhi mouth glibly "Just as we cannot change our relatives, we cannot change our neighbours." True or false?
False, China gobbled up an independent country, Tibet. And we landed up with a new neighbour!
The Nehruvian blunder of neglecting to defend the buffer zone of Tibet resulted in China lodging claim over 90000 square kilometres of Indian territory. Interestingly, China had a border dispute with Tibet on the China-Tibet border prior to its invasion but had endorsed the McMahon line between Tibet and India in 1914.
Due to lack of foresight and poor leadership in New Delhi since 1947, Beijing has consistently enlarged its territorial claims. Despite hundreds of years of foreign domination, our leadership on independence and since has continued to relinquish both physical and mental space to China and Pakistan in Asia. Pragmatic Sardar Patel and Field Marshal Cariappa could not prevail upon paper tiger Nehru of the looming Chinese threat.
However, unlike Nehru, his daughter converted East Pakistan in to Bangladesh, radically changing the neighbour! The primary reason for Indira Gandhi’s success was that unlike her father in 1962, she interacted directly with and accepted advice rendered by the military chiefs, leaving the conduct of 1971 war entirely in the hands of the professionals. Having successfully unleashed ‘violence’ to slice Pakistan into two, the Indian military chalked up unprecedented victory.
Despite the victory, India lost the plot at the negotiating table during the Shimla Summit. As a victorious nation, our aim should have been to demand the vacation of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) including the Northern Areas and the finalisation of the international border once for all. Especially since our military resources were free to be redeployed on the Western front after creation of Bangladesh.
The diplomats from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) bred on 'non-violence' and 'dialogue' accompanying Prime Minister Indira Gandhi messed it up. The plethora of excuses offered below by JN Dixit on behalf of the Indian diplomatic community in rediff.com is difficult to digest:
"The military regime in Pakistan had disappeared and a civilian, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had taken over, so we were at ease talking to him. Holding onto another nation’s territory is a politically and financially expensive proposition. You have to appoint a military governor and you have to permanently station your troops. The population will be hostile. The age of aggressive imperialism is over. It is not in our tradition, so we decided to talk."
We should have stationed military governors and troops till we, as a victorious nation had achieved our aim of ensuring permanent peace; the bloodshed by the military is too expensive to be overlooked. Tradition? Our tradition of enslavement for almost 1,200 years hardly endears anyway!
In the same article, former Foreign Secretary Dixit offers more excuses on behalf of the diplomatic corps:
"People often ask why we gave back the territory we won? Holding foreign territory is expensive militarily. It would also have not been acceptable to the international community. The 93000 POWs lived in pucca housing. Our troops guarding them lived in tents for a year. Under the Geneva Convention you have to give certain facilities to Prisoners of War (POW). It affected the morale of our soldiers. They thought we defeated the Pakistanis, but they are living comfortably while we are in slums. There was the tension of keeping 93000 hostile soldiers. It was a complex predicament and we wanted to get rid of them."
Pathetic excuses by a victorious nation. No wonder we hear the word 'dialogue' at the drop of a hat from South Block. It is obvious that the diplomatic corps does not understand the functioning of its military when it claims falsely that the morale of the troops would plummet. The PoW could be tented and that has nothing to do with Geneva Convention. The Indian Army was handling the prisoner issue successfully but the MEA found everything 'a complex predicament'. It appears that our diplomatic corps showed no acumen and lacked staying power. Negotiations would have succeeded if Mrs Gandhi had sought professional military advice from the Army Chief and included military representatives in her delegation. Thanks to the domination by team of adherents to ‘non-violence’ the military is back to square one and fighting the same old war at an extraordinary financial and human cost, again and again.
Except for strong visionary leadership, India boasts of possessing every other attribute to propel it to a great power status in Asia. This includes a young demographic profile and an extraordinary reservoir of brain power. Due to lack of worthy leadership at the national level, India is adrift without any national aim and survives on drip-economy and doles for vote-bank politics instead of creating economy of opportunities for its populace.
To pull itself out of the morass built around extraordinary helplessness inherent in pacifism, India's declared aim should be to lead Asia as a democratic power of repute, increasing pace, recouping lost space and influence. All strategies then have to be worked out backwards from this objective, in terms of increasing economic and military power simultaneously. This entails developing decisive strategic partnerships with other democracies.
This singular aim will shift India from an inward-looking mess to an outward-looking prosperous power. To halt and ultimately reverse the expansionist intentions of powers such as China and Pakistan, substantial militarisation of Indian mind by laterally inducting military personnel into the civil services and decision-making loop is the key to survival of the Union of India in this century.
Else the pacifists will continue to concede tangible and mental space to authoritarian and Islamic fundamentalist regimes and their regressive ideologies shrinking the Union's territory and its influence.
Bharat Verma, a former Cavalry Officer is Editor, Indian Defence Review. He frequently appears on television as a commentator, and is the author of Fault Lines and The Indian Armed Forces
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Courtesy Indian Defence Review