There is little hope

There may be a lot of heat and dust generated by the Pulwama massacre, but there is no light at the end of the tunnel

The perpetrators of terror will pay a heavy price
The perpetrators of terror will pay a heavy price

Whatever the Modi regime may do—surgical strikes or heavier response—the export of terror from Pakistan will not cease

One would like to believe Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge that the perpetrators of Pulwama outrage “will pay a heavy price,” but for that one has to be excessively optimistic. For neither his government nor that of any predecessor has done anything to suggest that there is any seriousness about overcoming terror in the first place.

At the heart of the problem lies a debilitating mindset—the Nehruvian mindset. It may sound contrary to the general impression

Without naming Pakistan, the Prime Minister recently said that “if our neighbour, which is totally isolated in the world… thinks it can destabilize India through its tactics and conspiracies, then it is making a huge mistake.” But there is no question of ‘if’; it does think, and works on its thinking, that it can destabilize India. The onus is on us to prove that Pakistan’s thinking is wrong; more importantly, to stop it acting on its deeply-held beliefs and convictions.

Unfortunately, we are not acting as we should be. Consider this: it was only after dozens of Central Reserve Police Force men were blown apart that the government deemed it fit to revoke the most favoured nation (MFN) status to Pakistan. And even that would have little effect, for Indo-Pak trade is less than $3 billion. Following this step, India has increased customs duty to 200 per cent on all goods imported from Pakistan. It begs the question: Why now?

Similar questions arise when PM Modi says, “I want to tell the terror groups that you have committed a grave crime. The perpetrators of terror will pay a heavy price. I assure the nation that we will punish the perpetrators of terror.” Why now? Why not earlier?

What kind of revelation enlightened our political masters on February 14 to revoke MFN? Why did they resolve on that day, and not before that, to teach the Pakistan-based jihadists a lesson? After all, Pulwama was not our 9/11 moment; unlike the United States—which rudely woke up on September 11, 2001, to the threat jihad posed to itself and others—we have been suffering at the hands of the terrorists that Pakistan aids and abets. They have massacred our citizens, bombed our cities, attacked our Parliament, and slaughtered our security personnel; it has been going on for decades. And we didn’t even scrap the MFN status, despite the fact that Pakistan didn’t fulfil its international obligation of reciprocating and extending the same status to us for 23 years!

At the heart of the problem lies a debilitating mindset—the Nehruvian mindset. It may sound contrary to the general impression, and given Modi’s antipathy to the first prime minister, but the fact is that he is more Nehruvian than some of his Congress predecessors. Facts are shaped by what we do and not what we profess.

Two cardinal principles of the Nehruvian Consensus were socialism and non-alignment. It is well-known that Modi has done nothing to carry out major economic reforms like structural changes in the farm sector and privatization of public sector banks (PSBs); instead, he has relied on populist, socialist measures like farm loan waivers, price controls, and PSB recapitalization. Worse, too many compliances and tax terrorism have become the bane of wealth creators, whether first-general entrepreneurs or business tycoons.

The consequences: the economy remains shackled, jobs are not getting generated, and public finance is in a mess. It has had its impact on national defence: the military is woefully short of arms and ammunition; the Vice-Chief of the Army Staff said that last year on record. Even this year’s defence allocation is short, the ruling party’s pompous claims notwithstanding.

China can be dangerous without firing a bullet: it has steadfastly shielded Masood Azhar, the mastermind of Pulwama, and supported Pakistan that harbours him

A less tangible result is on the moral behaviour of politicians. Since socialism is premised on the state is the prime mover of progress and development, politics becomes an enterprise of grabbing and retaining power, whatever the cost. The cost is often the neglect of national defence: when those who matter are busy manipulating law-enforcement agencies and institutions for electoral gains, security of the nation becomes tentative. And when there is no coherent policy, ad-hocism rules the roost, expressing itself in shrill rhetoric, surgical strikes, and so on.

While socialism incapacitates the economy and weakens national security, non-alignment lulls the minds of powers-that-be into nurturing pacifist fantasies. Nehru did that during his tenure; 1962 was the denouement. Modi has been doing this for quite some time. After completing two years in office, he said in an interview to the Wall Street Journal, “There is no reason to change India’s non-alignment policy that is a legacy and has been in place.”

Modi downplayed the multifarious threats emanating from China: “We don’t have any fighting with China today. We have a boundary dispute, but there is no tension or clashes. People-to-people contacts have increased. Trade has increased. Chinese investment in India has gone up. India’s investment in China has grown. Despite the border dispute, there haven’t been any clashes. Not one bullet has been fired in 30 years. So the general impression that exists, that’s not the reality.”

But China can be dangerous without firing a bullet: it has steadfastly shielded Masood Azhar, the mastermind of Pulwama, and supported Pakistan that harbours him. Our government, however, has remained insouciant about China’s role. Mao and Chou Enlai betrayed Nehru; over half a century later, Xi succeeded in lulling Modi into complacency. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Therefore, whatever the Modi regime may do—surgical strikes or heavier response—the export of terror from Pakistan will not cease. We should not forget that the strikes in September 2016, despite being reportedly successful, failed to end terror. The real change—that is, containment of Islamabad’s malevolence—can happen only if government sheds Nehruvian proclivities. Worse, there is no alternative: there is no possibility of a non-Modi government breaching the Nehruvian Consensus. Even worse, the alternatives appear to be worse.

So, there may be a lot of heat and dust generated by the Pulwama massacre, but there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Ravi Shanker Kapoor

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5 COMMENTS

  1. The author seems to be distraught as much as many more like us who have been waiting for changes and see nothing significant happening with any leader at the helm. But I also felt the distraught feeling in the author is making him be more pessimistic than he has ever been as many of his past columns have been pretty invigorating and encouraging with this one being an outlier.
    Our challenge is that we constantly ignore the inimical forces at work within the country and allow all things to continue fester in the name of fundamental rights and free speech.
    What we can do with the military might is simple – kill the terrorists. But we cannot kill terrorism which is a ramification of a corrupted mind. A critical chain of reaction to corrupt minds has been set just like in a nuclear fission and it is fast assuming critical stage where it will assume self propagating stage destorying the civilisation from inside out.
    We have been made to entangle into petty dimensions of identity of caste, religion etc while missing the sole identity that grants us civilisational superiority or pride.
    Modi is the best bet we see around us and therefore sky has been the limit for the expectations we have from him. In him we have a determined and hard working PM.
    But his advisory and execution team are not necessarily of the same mould. The challenge in a democratic set up esp when India has made a habit of what sounds like a ‘virtue ‘ ( it is not a virtue though) of being a statesman and champion of all that is good and patient towards everything that comes in its harm way. This habit has been bred into the state from the times of Nehru and we feel elated by the false sense of pride which actually covers our lack of determination to take bold decisive steps to stem the rot from within

    Modi in my mind was seen as a radical change agent while he proved to be only an incremental change agent. The incremental changes are less visible when you look at gross problems like the ones we face at our borders etc, corruption etc.

    Politics unfortunately in this country is the most loved topic for every citizen not just the politician. So everyone has a pie in this game. Media plays a big role as business and politics have entwined well over the past 25 years with private media ruling the roost.

    Managing minds is a game no PM has played well enough. It is beyond marketing and PR selling govt plans and development work which Modi does exceedingly well.
    Moulding minds that makes the very process of thinking the way it aids a nations well being comes in from very well co-ordinated efforts from several sides – not just top down but side ways too in the society. Much of the ills we see are a result of well managed/ planned and executed game to win minds and use them in the wrong way

    Two enemies of the nation to tackle in managing minds positively are – religious/ caste driven leader (not necessarily electorally relevant politicians but influencing politicians in other roles like in seminaries (all religions), institutions of education driven by ideologies which are not subservient to the top most ideology call one nation one people etc. The second one being Media which takes sides and fans outrage and biases.

    A crackdown on nexus of media, politicians religious/caste leaders with anti national is the first thing. Summary trials and imprisonment for life. Closure of hate preaching houses, Working to change education values to build society that prides in being part of the civilisation and nation. The confidence building efforts internally together with ruthless wrath of the state on elements inimical to it, will make the enemies feel weak as they use more people inside the enemy country than outside to cause you harm.

    Modi can do it and has to do it because he is best positioned to do it today. But that means he needs to derive his power from a different more confident set of advisors and executing team than the present ones and he needs to crack the whip on the inimical forces with impunity and not wait for the system to be supportive of him. The system is infested so a war on the festering wound will mean you need to ampute, cut and throw the parts infected with gangrene even if it means you need to limp for a while before you become strong.

    Cut down on all facilities for the third child born to a father with a cut of date today. Ban religious conversions, free hindu religious institutions from state control, ruthless punish and shame the corrupt and anti national to make sure that societal guilt for wrong doing take a bigger stage than law which itself is ridden with most of the malaise we speak about. The ruthless speed must begin from the first day of new term so that by the end of the second term non of the vestiges are even visible or remembered and the new bharat would have taken root.

  2. Very discouraging thought. India run by official who don’t want to pain themselves hence same also for politicians who for five years, and want to earn money for generations of their families. Still it is tough by Modi .

  3. Another one shouting for bank privatisation. The quick travel from Pulwama to the economic agenda is impressive to say the least.

    Perhaps, attacks like Pulwama will stop if we privatise banks. Good idea, I say.

  4. Alas, what you say is very true. There is less than a little hope. Mr. 56″ welcomes the crown prince of Saudi after the latter visits Pak to give them 20 billion USD. This, when the pyres of the fallen are still warm. Shame on Modi.

  5. True , there probably can be no lasting permanent solution, even with a ‘heavy response’ . India was caught being a bit naive.. this terror attack is finely timed so near an election and the PM has had to hug Mohammed bin Kasim. He has allegedly said he wants to modernise Islam . Clearly that is one of the aims of giving 20 billion dollars to Pakistan.. so they can buy/supply thousands of kilos of explosives.
    The petro dollar flows into Pak and Indians are working in Saudi. Economics somehow trumps the fight against terror… nothing has changed there, as history tells us.
    Ek baar Mukherjee ko Kashmir se wapas nahin aane diya tha… Dilli se to sab araam se wapas chale jate hain.
    Its not just a question of rational Hindus versus barbaric Muslims, but that has quite a lot do do with this.
    The history of barbaric Islam is well documented in India and elsewhere. The petro dollar buys more than camels. I cannot wait for the day the oil runs out. I hope Indians stop watching cricket and do something more useful before the oil runs out.
    It just goes to show that what Nehru and others before him did, has consequences now for India and for future centuries. People of a 1.3 billion country being blown up on a regular basis by a country of 200 million Muslims.

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