If one has to summarise the characteristics of an Indian, the least is being aggressive. We are happy to attribute a lot of reasons for this: the feudal society, subjugation to foreign powers, the lineage of Buddha, the all accommodating Hindu cultural values, unity in diversity etc. These virtues that we boast have tied down our hands, when it comes to aggressive behaviour. Aggression in itself is not a virtue to be promoted, but in the face of competition, rivalry and enmity, aggression is a virtue that helps one to succeed.
The lack of aggression in our culture or psyche has and is playing havoc in our foreign policy, military affairs, internal affairs and every sphere of influence. We are docile and mute spectators to China's aggressive designs and Pakistan's sinister, belligerent behaviour. China's open intimidation that it can divide Indian into 20-30 pieces and its brazen call to assist the insurgent regional groups in India to create 'independent nation states of their own, out of India' or Pakistan's 26/11 carnage in the heart of India, have united us and moved us to tears but not to action.
It is an articulated fact that Pakistan is India's traditional enemy and China is its permanent foe. However, for them, India seems to be a meek adversary with resources and capability but without direction and aggression. Pakistan may not call India weak after being beaten in war more than once, but to China, India is the weak and meek enemy. Despite the hue and cry about a resurgent China, militarily and economically, and its ability to thwart India's attempts everywhere, India is dithering in its will since it does not want to consider itself as an adversary to China. Any strong and scathing remark against China or Chinese interests is fended off by the Indian Government as a personal opinion.
The Government's view against both the belligerent and the rogue state is restricted to the occasional tall claims that our military can take on Pakistan and Taliban; Arunachal Pradesh is part of India and the incursions in the LOC and LAC are statistically minimal. They are pleasing to the ears, but incidentally, we have not been able to take on the naxals, the Maoists and the insurgent groups in India. Do our establishments believe that Pakistan, Taliban and China are a tad easier to handle?
Kasab came and killed Indians and we had spent 35 crores on him, because we were providing him legal recourse, abiding by Article 21 of the Constitution that prohibits 'the depravation of a person's life or liberty except in accordance with procedure established by law'. Pakistan had a hand in the carnage but it demands more proof because we run helter-skelter to gather proof. The way we ensured the safe passage of the Olympic torch through India prompted a Chinese official to remark, "See, how the Indians stand and listen to our orders." We can attribute these weak Indian posturing to coalition politics, being fair, biding our time to prepare etc but sadly, it is how we have been defending our inability and submissive behaviour.
The preparations that have undergone in countering the Chinese menace are open knowledge and don't demand enumeration. If one has to compare the concerted efforts by the Chinese in creating infrastructure to reach the Indian borders with ease; its claims over India’s northeast borders; the Tibetan and the Dalai Lama issue; its indoctrination against Indian interests by manipulating its media, vis-a-vis the Indian efforts to counter China, one would be aghast. The nation has conscientiously kept the thought of emerging China at bay and has been reveling under the cloak of naivety, about the growing bilateral and trade relations and ego pleasing promises being made by China.
However, India has been always magnanimous in appreciating the rise of China since it has accepted being bullied, sullied and taunted by the inimical neighbours. If the neighbours are, at times, seemingly cordial or cede to Indian demands, it is not because of India's diplomacy, but due to international pressure/ramifications. The writing on the wall is for us to read: the patterns are similar, the demands have remained the same, the threats are growing and diplomacy has failed to cut much ice. It is time we change our strategy rather than hoping against hope for things to improve.
While the nation has reconciled to the dubious talks, inane statements of our government and its machinery, however, it is disheartening to hear it from the Service Chiefs about the diminished capabilities, the reduced force levels and lack of defence preparedness due to red tape. The ex-Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta spoke of 'coping up rather than countering China' and Air Marshal Barboras hit out at the 'culture of irresponsible politics' which impinges very badly on the country's defence preparedness.
It may be an open secret within the informed circles, but its admission in public doesn't serve the national interest. One should remember that we won the previous wars neither due to military might nor weapon power but only due to the courage of men in the front. They have been trained to achieve much more with much less and fight with what you have. Remember, the Defence Ministry is still acquiring snow boots, thermal cameras and other gadgets with which they should have fought the Kargil War, a decade back!
Whilst the Indian Government has to be blamed for not posing offensively, the force commanders have failed to maintain the rhetoric. Rhetoric, like body language, is vital for boosting morale of the defence forces. Pakistan has been feigning ignorance of its sinister designs despite conclusive evidence and mauls Indian integrity by mere rhetoric and inaction. China speaks in multi-tongues of its contribution to Indian growth and also blocks Indian interests and ventures at international arena, justifying its diabolic standards by rhetoric. India has to learn to play the game by the same coin.
The poor rhetoric has lead to lack of indoctrination in the soldiers' mind which would turn out to be its Achilles heel to ward off the enemy in a military scuffle or euphemistically 'limited war'. Moving few air squadrons and raising few new battalions could not be more than a defensive posturing. To prepare for an asymmetric warfare, the ranks and files are to be indoctrinated against the enemies nefarious designs and the strategic need to win.
Are the commanders scared of a war? No. They are anxious about the dismal state of security affairs and the all pervasive helplessness: whether it is procurements, upgradation of arms, ammunition and armour, we are lagging behind due to the labyrinth of procedures, influential middlemen, shortsightedness of the bureaucracy and apathy of the political masters. This helplessness has manifested at all levels. The late President KR Narayanan spoke about his helplessness in the Godhra communal pogrom; the Supreme Court Judge stated, “God only should save this country"; and the Prime Minister spoke about the Communists marring all growth in the previous regime. This helplessness expressed by the executive, legal and judiciary echelons is an indicator for immediate corrective action.
On the other hand, the helplessness of the Commanders borders on the security and the sovereignty of the Republic. We cannot fight believing that we are vulnerable. The debates on operational preparedness are to be restricted to the defence forces and not expose our vulnerabilities to the world.
China has been very articulate in its vision of being the sole superpower by 2050. It is not clear whether the country, especially the Army, has studied and evolved tactics from the 1962 loss. If there is an escalation, China may not restrict itself to the northeast. It may open fronts in Tibet and Jammu & Kashmir, as well. In such a scenario, the Navy could only be a mute spectator, unlike a war in the Arabian Sea or in the Bay of Bengal. The Navy doesn't have the strategic reach to fight in the China Sea but it should at least have the deterrence and offensive capability to nip any attempt in the Indian Ocean. There could well be a situation where India is forced to contain China and deter Pakistan simultaneously. Indian can neither rest its oars, nor Dr. Abdul Kalam's '˜India 2020' remain our magnum opus till 2020.
The indecisiveness of the Government and the occasional outbursts of the senior military officers have provided ample ammunition for the media to thrive on. On December 4,2009 (incidentally it was the Navy Day), a highly rated TV channel came up with its 'Breaking News' that the Army is not prepared for a war. It went on with minute details of how many years it will take to reach 100 per cent combat preparedness in arms, armament and aviation to fight a war.
The journalist forgot that there is nothing called '100 per cent preparedness'! Have we ever heard in India of a budget, insurance, housing, healthcare, social security that is 100 per cent? The journalist perfected the last nail on the coffin of India's defence preparedness. With the Government's acceptance of the airspace violations by Pakistan and China; with Pakistan trying to cede away POK to China; with the Chinese preventing the J&K government laying a road within its jurisdiction and painting of 'Indian stones' in Mandarin or Cantonese; threatening to break India into pieces and when the Government, for the first time, showed an offensive posture, here comes our tell all reporter with a news of clinical precision, to the world that India is not prepared.
Whom are we doing it for? Are we doing it in the interest of the Pakistanis, the Chinese, TV ratings or is it a treatise material for the so called think-tanks and research students? The new media jargons like 'Breaking News', 'Impact News' only breaks the heart of patriotic Indians and their impact on the Indian psyche cannot be even remotely positive.
A discernible citizen as well as the enemy would read between the lines and interpret the message that the Government, its Military and Media have started believing that in a standoff between China and India, India is bound to lose. Is the nation preparing itself for a loss? If words are the predecessors of action, our words confirm our faith.
Democracy isn't all about the freedom to select and elect, speak and write. It also implies the duty of every citizen to defend its peace and tranquility. The enemies are trying to intimidate us, and are waiting for the opportune moment when there is sagging of morale, depletion of force levels, and serious internal discord.
Rather than speaking about the 1962 defeat, we should indoctrinate ourselves to repay the loss. China's military is a big enemy, great in firepower, but, it is not a battle hardened army. Let us stop overrating our enemy. They are willing to flex their muscle because of their economic growth, military modernisation and above all, our meekness. Notwithstanding that our growth is not comparable, we will allow our military capabilities to retard at our own peril.
If you want to win, don't speak about defeat; stand up together and speak in one voice. To fight a war, we have to indoctrinate and change our rhetoric; to win a war, we need more force levels. The time has come to posture aggressively, prepare incessantly, play up to their psychological warfare and plan our strategy.
We are not a war mongering nation and this is not a war cry but do not forget that danger is lurking in the corner. The writing is on the wall for everyone to read and act. Let us not prepare the nation for a defeat.