Sunday, December 6, 2009

DON'T 'BEGGAR-MY-BUGGERING-NEIGHBOUR', MAKE HIM BIGGER

Recently, when visuals of a few people celebrating someone's election victory in Rohtak were shown on NDTV, Shekhar Gupta remarked that they, his Haryanvi brothers, were celebrating "just because someone had won!"

That typical remark solved one mystery for me. I used to wonder how a man of Shekhar Gupta's immense experience and reach could write something as ridiculous as he sometimes does. Now I know. This man from Haryana also sometimes says things "just because someone has said so!"

A few months back, he attempted to 'educate' professionals who are in the know of the state of India's military strength and preparedness. He informed them that India was a nuclear power with the fourth largest standing army in the world, and that a resurgent India was now militarily in a terrific position to take on the Chinese. Had he backed his fanciful conclusions, designed to dishonestly lull the nation into complacency, with hard data, one would have believed that he, a journalist, had at least some rudimentary knowledge and understanding of the subject. But, not surprisingly at all, all he spoke about were some old stories, Lata's song, a movie about the 1962 debacle and the skirmishes between India and China in 1967! On the basis of that utter nonsense, he concluded - as he might have been asked to by ossified and ignorant minds in the government and the bureaucracy - that all was well on the Chinese front, and asked those in the military to stop being 'defeatist', stop fighting the 1962 war, stop panic-mongering and "stand down" .

Manifestly, as far as Shekhar Gupta and his educators are concerned, the Indian Army is telling lies when it says that it is so badly under equipped that it cannot fight and win a war; the Air Force is exaggerating when it informs the nation that it is no match for China, and that the balance of air power is worse than it was in 1962; the Navy is misleading the nation when it bemoans the fact that the Chinese have gone far, far ahead, and that we have neither the capability nor the intention to match them force for force; international experts are being being needlessly alarmist when they say that Pakistan has more nuclear weapons than India - and better delivery systems, I may add.

Last month, Gupta went many mindless steps further. He actually said that Pakistan winning its war on terror is in India's "supreme national interest!" If that was not bad enough, he went on to say that India must make "moves, offers, anything that will enhance the power and credibility" of Pakistan's government.

In his latest article in the India Express of December 05, 2009, he has gone even further to say that every dollar spent by the US in strengthening Pakistan's democratic elite "is a million invested in our future." To make this and other illogical deductions designed to ensure that India does nothing at all to strengthen itself, he has seized upon the broad statement of intent of Obama to begin withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan 18 months from now, and quoted Jay Leno! to make the US President and the military look like bums who should be taking lessons in strategy from the deaf, dumb and blind men who rule India.

Gupta talks of India's "foreign-strategic policy" doctrine objective of establishing "India's pre-eminence in its immediate neighborhood." Needless to add that in that map put up by bureaucrats in the MEA and MOD, China does not figure at all in India's immediate neighbourhood, despite a 4,000 km long disputed border. As far as they are concerned, it does not exist. But what about Pakistan, the object of obsession of their petrified minds? How do they, through Gupta, suggest that India should build the strength to "restore" that never achieved, even attempted, pre-eminence after the Americans leave? You got it: strengthen not India but Pakistan!

Gupta is happy to let India remain militarily so weak that it never develops "the traction" to do what it should have done long back in its supreme national interest. As per him, India should forget about the history of the last six decades and pretend that Pakistan's military, its ISI and the LeT either do not exist or will be magically turned into angels by a feudal Pakistani "democratic" elite that, thanks to India's support, will miraculously become powerful enough to dump jihadi terrorism, tear up school text books that preach nothing but hatred for India and re-discover in India the brother that it had violently dumped on the basis of a politico-religious ideology that has only become more extreme and violent in the last 63 years. All that India will have to do is give fatal concessions on Kashmir since it runs in the blood of Pakistanis and no Pakistani leader can survive without it. Simple! Remember Shimla 1972?

In the fifties, Nehru thought that India's foreign-strategic policy objectives (if there were any, that is) would be best served by strengthening not India but the socialist regime in China. We all know how enormously China benefitted from that panchsheel disaster. One would have expected that China would have taught India's political leaders and its babus, the ones who have colluded to keep India weak and the military out of the loop, the hard lesson that national interest can only be secured by strengthening yourself and not you potential adversary, much less an adversary who has your jugular in his cross hairs.

Tragically, that has not happened. Then the magic word of the weak was socialism; now it is democracy. Then there was no one educated or informed enough in the media to expose the harm that was being done to India by that flawed argument based on criminal ignorance and arrogance. Now, there is a powerful, but pliant section of the media that is more than willing to spread that same dangerous argument because it is told to.

Says Gupta, "Beggar-my-neighbour may be a tempting thought each time a big terror attack takes place. But big, serious nations do not run a foreign policy for cheap thrills." So next time Pakistan does another "bugger-my-neighbour" act in the form of a 26/11 or a Parliament or something even more disastrous, India must meekly and quickly run to its democratic leaders and make offers so that Pakistan's democracy is strengthened; that is the shield that will best protect India. Any response that will deter Pakistan for doing what it has been for decades - democracy or military rule - will amount to "cheap thrills."

The US must listen to this, China must listen to this, the whole world must listen to this. And laugh. India must cry.

A nation that does not learn, a nation that accepts leaders, policy makers and opinion makers who do not learn, must expect to face increasingly debilitating consequences. For this continuing criminal dereliction of national interest, India will have to keep paying a heavy price. In blood. Again and again. Till it learns...
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Related Reading:
1. A year after 26/11, calls for a strong Pakistan
2. Obama and India: no room for apprehension now
3. Musharraf's shockers on terror, Kashmir and Indian Muslims