THEATRE OF THE ABSURD

The Theatre of the Absurd, which emphasises the ludicrous aspect of human existence, is being played out with a vengeance on our soil. Outwardly, political parties may sport different hues and ideologies. But given their collective nature, they do behave in a similar manner when in power, committing acts of unfathomable folly in strategic matters and trampling on national interests, year after year. The policy of abject surrender to inimical forces and appeasement of vote banks, foisted by the colossally myopic leadership that took over the strife-torn country in 1947, has created a crisis of grave magnitude, in the name of questionable secular values.

The present government too has not altered course, though unlike the Congress and the opposition, it is not beholden to any form of vote bank for survival. The current dispensation also does not seem to have come down heavily on corrupt politicians and babus, as was expected after the resounding mandate it received in 2014. In this connection, its refusal to make the NN Vohra report public, is strange and sabotages the prospect of punishing Pakistan, besides demonising the Indian Army.

The practice of invoking the United States, with a long history of shielding Pakistan, but which tricks New Delhi every so often with a bogus condemnation of its client state, has always been counterproductive. Washington is quick to denounce terror attacks on its forces in Afghanistan, but callously brushes aside the huge loss of Indian lives in jihadi depredations, as if they were lesser mortals. The writing on the wall is clear. Trump, like other presidents, has no stake in helping India or restraining Pakistan.

Maybe it is a gross failure of our foreign policy to convince Washington to impose sanctions on a country designated as the global fount of terror, rather than persistently bestowing its goodwill and munificence.

In this context, what an intellectual and spiritual giant like Sri Aurobindo had so perceptively observed about the ‘oldest party,’ especially its moderate wing many decades ago, remains particularly relevant and true today. “If the blind lead the blind, shall they not both fall into a ditch?” he asked in the Indu Prakash. The future Mahayogi berated the moderates for their craven and a mendacious approach to the British. At the time, he led the radical faction of the party with Lokmanya Tilak, besides orchestrating the revolutionary movement behind the scenes. Regarded as the prophet of nationalism, Sri Aurobindo pitched for swaraj and swadeshi, long before the likes of Gandhi materialised on the scene. So much so, the Crown certified him as “the most dangerous man in India.”

But from then on, the trait has become so ingrained in the party’s DNA, that it continues unbroken well past the century mark, manifesting in ways that play havoc with country’s security and well being, twist its secular credentials into a policy of appeasement and promotes religious fundamentalism, by propping up one community or caste against another. The catastrophic debacle of 1962, throwing roadblocks to prevent Indian Army from crushing Pakistan in 1965, returning all the 93,000 PoWs guilty of the worst genocide in East Bengal in 1971 after the holocaust, protecting Prabhakaran of LTTE, releasing hardcore terrorists in captivity, are some of the most diabolical consequences of this DNA. Trashing the supreme sacrifices of officers and jawans and vacating territories, to placate vote banks, also springs from the same source.

But far more damaging and vile has been the impact on the entire political class. The outlook has seeped into their consciousness, generating thousand and one nefarious practices, such as defending a host of terrorists, criminals, scamsters and hostile neighbours, justifying vote banks and corruption, among others. This attitude has also spawned an entire ecosystem intent on demonising cultural values, slandering soldiers’ sacrifices, promoting divisiveness and hate India sentiments. This gigantic cabal of the left liberals, English language media and news channels, NGOs and social activists, often acts as a fifth column, even converting half truths or complete fabrications into shocking revelations, with an ulterior agenda.

This is the kind of morbid mindset which acquiesces in the acts of sick jihadis and permits Bollywood to venerate an adult movie actress and the face of sleaze as a national icon. Or gloss over the unparalleled barbarity of a mass murderer like Allauddin Khilji. It also legitimises a sham narrative as the gospel truth, such as the one penned by a foreign editor of a newspaper which positions itself as “the world’s largest circulated daily.” He dismisses the 1971 war as a relatively minor affair, with a blatant disregard for facts, even insinuating that the Indian Army is not battle hardened. Anyone writing such infantile drivel needs to have his head examined.

The journalist conveniently overlooks the fact that Indian troops liberated Bangladesh, a territory much bigger than France, in only 14 days, but which took the German Blitzkrieg much longer to conquer. The same newspaper projects a grossly distorted version of reality when one of its Sunday columnists, writing in defence of Rohingyas, falsifies India’s humanitarian outreach. Did India not shelter 10 million refugees from then East Pakistan, after Islamabad’s crackdown? Or when Indian Army rescued millions during Kashmir floods, rendered massive aid to Nepal after the earthquake, upstaging the Chinese PLA? Or when tens of thousands of stranded labourers in Syria and elsewhere were brought home by the navy?

Successive governments, formed by the members of same political class, continue to persist with the follies of their predecessors. They have mastered the art of playing the victim card, with enough theatrics and breast beating to shame an army of cowards. One only need recall how the former prime minister, egged on by the deep state and Lutyens mafia, even initiated the extreme step of gifting away Siachen to Pakistan, over the heads of most military commanders, notwithstanding the blood shed by thousands of soldiers.

The former PM would have committed an act of the gravest infamy, matching Nehru’s colossal blunder in 1962, had saner voices not prevailed and checkmated him midway. It is also being said that the delusional ex-chief executive had been motivated to act by the prospect of winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The sham secular brigade, on its part, never shirks from honouring the Jai Chands and Mir Jafars of Indian polity. This is the kind of latitude that encourages a writer of pulp fiction to pontificate on the plight of illegal immigrants from Myanmar, who have the blood of their Hindu counterparts on their hands.

Is the columnist not blithely oblivious of India’s unmatched record of tolerance, which warmly welcomed the persecuted Zorastrians, Jews, Muslims and Christians? Does he realise that if the Buddhists, a non violent community, turned against Rohingyas, then the provocation must have been extreme? Why did this community of ethnic Muslims from Bangladesh, armed to the teeth by the British to fight the Japanese, during the Second World War, instead turn against the Buddhists with all the firepower at their command? The UN and Amnesty paint Rohingyas as victims of repression, as if their radicalisation by the ISI-jihadi-ISIS-Saudi combine is of no consequence.

Did these august bodies ever condemn the genocide on thousands of Baloch or speak up when Jihadi atrocities forced half a million Kashmiri pundits out of their homes? Why did Lutyens media, operating in cahoots with Amnesty, downplay the exodus of people from the Northeast working in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore, forced by fanatical Muslim mobs, just because Buddhist monks had thrashed Rohingyas for misbehaviour with their womenfolk? How come scores of ethnic groups coexist peacefully in Myanmar, but only this community is the one that alleges persecution? Will the Lutyens media answer?

This crisis would not have acquired such sinister dimensions, had Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) such as the Border Security Force, not winked at their entry, apparently at the behest of their IPS superiors, probably relaying orders from their political bosses. In this way, the previous dispensation connived at their infiltration and permitted 20 million illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar to settle in West Bengal, Assam and Kashmir and swell their vote banks exponentially. Had the Assam Rifles, an Army adjunct, been tasked to guard the eastern borders, it would have nipped the conspiracy in the bud and prevented a potential demographic disaster. Blame the deep state for their deployment elsewhere.

Winning a thumping majority in 2014, after vowing to punish Pakistan, the current dispensation’s obdurate refusal to imbibe lessons from several wars and innumerable terror attacks, is completely out of sync with the existing reality, notwithstanding a single surgical strike (no reflection on the Army, which did an exemplary job). Far from deterring the ISI-jihadi combine, it has only provoked them to step up their mayhem and violence in Kashmir. Targeting terror camps with long range artillery guns or drone attacks would have done the trick, especially when the enemy is unrelenting in its hostility.

Proxy war, engineered from across the western and northern frontiers, is a sinister but multi-dimensional low cost option that leaves the political dispensation jittery and fumbling. Their over-reliance on bureaucracy, populating the external, defence and home ministries, doubly compounds the problem. The energies of these pen pushing administrative and IPS officers are largely expended in wheeling and dealing and protecting their turfs. Add to it their stark incompetence, zero grasp of undercover work and strategic matters, all strictly military domains, which have severely curtailed the state’s capacity to tackle the terror apparatus.

Unfortunately, the presence of the current NSA, an IPS officer, did not improve matters, in spite of all the hype surrounding him. It is time now for the government to consider a fresh new approach to fight proxy war. For instance, the use of diversionary tactics, which Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, legendary commander of the feared Afrika Korps, mastered and elevated into the highest military art, during the Second World War, should be the guiding light of the intelligence community. In spite of a drastic shortage of men, munitions and supplies, the Desert Fox misled and confounded the much bigger and better equipped British and American armies, defeating them at a time and place of his choosing. They dreaded Rommel’s lightning attacks, out of the blue, which rained death and devastation.

Indian security agencies too can adapt Rommel’s diversionary tactics to checkmate ISI’s duplicitous moves. The Baloch card, an ace up India’s sleeve, can be utilised to a devastating effect against Islamabad, only if political will is forthcoming. If Pakistan harps on the alleged human rights suppression in Kashmir, then it gives New Delhi every right to highlight genocide in Balochistan through various assets, in various global forums, until the point is driven home. Similarly, India can force Pakistan on back foot by relentlessly questioning the legitimacy of the CPEC, fast coming up in PoK, which is still legally a part of India. But the moot question is, will the deep state and the left cabal permit the Modi government to act resolutely in national interests.

Sudip Talukdar, the son of a war veteran, is a senior journalist, author and strategic affairs columnist, ex TOI. He passionately campaigns against forces that he believes are not allowing India to rise and has recently published a book, Scary Portents-India Under Siege.

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