India is abuzz with Mahatma Gandhi in the year of his 150th birth anniversary but there is a new version to his message of “ahimsa” (non-violence) which its enemies are finding out at a great personal cost.
Gandhi was the “apostle” of peace and non-violence who offered the other cheek when slapped but India of today would rather leave a black eye on its aggressor as it did on Pakistan with retaliatory heavy shelling in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Sunday which left at least 6-10 Pakistani soldiers dead and blew up three terrorist camps into thin air.
It was a grim fresh reminder to Pakistan that India has the doctrine of an eye-for-an-eye in its new rulebook and the “surgical strikes” and “Balakot airstrikes” which followed the terrorist attacks in Uri (2016) and Pulwama (2019) was the new philosophy and not an exception.
India is still an adherent to “non-violence” and has an unbroken history of peaceful coexistence, never eyeing others’ territory but the painful lessons of past demand it puts a premium on the integrity of its Union.
India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval often reminds his audience that India was overrun by invaders despite being arguably the most advanced civilization of its times. It never protected its seas even though they straddle three of its four corners. It led to the servitude of almost a thousand years. It faced wars imposed by Pakistan on three of four occasions: 1947-48, 1965 and 1999. It didn’t use 90,000 prisoners-of-war as a bargaining chip nor advanced deep inside Pakistan after winning a conclusive war in 1971 which led to the creation of Bangladesh.
India was seen as an epitome of a “soft” nation as terrorists kept crossing the Line of Control (LoC) through Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and cost tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers lives since 1990. The horrific attack in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, when terrorists from across the border sprayed machine guns on civilians on streets and five-star hotels, known as 26/11 in nation’s damaged psyche, evoked no retaliatory response from India. Worse, the very next year in 2009, the same United Progressive Alliance (UPA), returned to power without any retribution from its masses.
All this has changed for good. India today is driven in its bid to modernize its army: It has only recently ceded its top spot to Saudi Arabia as the biggest arms importer of the world—the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reckons India accounted for 12% of the total global arms imports for the 2013-2017 period. It has lapped up Russia’s S-400 advanced missile system defying the threat of sanctions from the United States. It has gone ahead with its purchase of France’s Rafale fighter jets even though the move threatened to derail Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s bid for a second term on the unfounded charges of corruption this year.
India today is literally taking the fight into enemy camp: It rakes up the issue of Balochistan and its independence from Pakistan; it has vowed to wrest back the control of PoK for a unified Kashmir and its defence minister Rajnath Singh has already debunked the “No-First-Use” nuclear doctrine. India stood up for its ally Bhutan and stared down China in a face-to-face standoff between the two armed forces in Doklam in 2017 which lasted months.
India is not only flexing its armed muscle but is also a crusader against global terrorism on international forums. India has successfully overturned China’s reluctance in having Masood Azhar of Pakistan blacklisted by the United Nations. It dissuaded South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan from joining the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Summit hosted by Islamabad in November 2016 after the Uri attack. It recently tried it’s very best to have Pakistan blacklisted by the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) and has openly fallen out with Turkey and Malaysia for standing by Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.
India loves and is proud of Mahatma Gandhi and the message of “vasudhaiva kutumbakam (The World Is One Family) which defined the great man’s extraordinary life. But it doesn’t want to ignore the lessons of history. It is prepared to lift arms to protect its people and boundaries which is different from being an aggressor. It’s a nuanced approach to Gandhi’s philosophy and it seems to be paying dividends.
(This is a reprint from Russia Today—rt.com— for whom the author has penned this piece).
Does Manmohan Singh care about India or Congress?
If he cared about India, he would’ve earned the gratitude of a billion-plus Indians by stepping down as Prime Minister as his party spawned a million scams.
He would’ve done more than offer a mere apology for the 1984 Sikh genocide and certainly made sure he didn’t share the same stage with Sajjan Kumar, a prime accused as 3000 Sikhs were lynched in the Capital.
He would’ve addressed his countrymen at important junctures of his 10-year rule and not been a mere statue who didn’t react even as Rahul Gandhi tore up his government’s ordinance and humiliated him in public.
Such a background of his is not in consonance with his daily tirade against communal violence and mob lynching that he accuses have become widespread under the regime of Narendra Modi.
If he cared about India, he would’ve confessed to the citizens that the worst 18 communal riots in independent India’s history came while his party was in power. Six of the worst communal riots occurred while Dr. Singh was the Prime Minister. In 2012, there were 640 incidents of communal violence. A year later, the number was 473 in 2013.
As for lynchings which has Dr. Singh most upset about, he showed no such remorse when 25 lives were lost to mob-lynchings in 2012 itself.
This doesn’t seem a man in love with India. This is the picture of a dishonest man who yearns for a secular, plural and equal India but wouldn’t utter a word about Kashmiri Pundits who have been driven out of their own land. His plurality beats a hasty retreat when Hindus face communally marginalization in states such as Bengal and Kerala. He bemoans Kathua and Unnao but has no time for unfortunate rapes in Uri or in a madarsa. He would rather have a secret dinner with a top Pakistani politician than make a point to them about martyred soldiers and their unfortunate widows, victims of terrorists from our neighbours.
Those who profess by Dr. Singh for his honesty and integrity must be told the difference between the two traits. You are honest if you told your wife you cheated. But you lack integrity when you cheat on your wife, nevertheless. Honesty is convenient; integrity is the stuff a man is made of.
Now 86, Dr. Singh needs a mirror that reflects his true self to him. He has lived in shadows and deceptions for too long. He owes his allegiance to Congress, and not to India. His countrymen know better of him than a compromised mainstream media and academia of the land.