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India’s National Security comes of age

On the night of December 31st 2014, the Indian Coast Guard intercepted and neutralized a boat filled with explosives that had come all the way from Karachi in Pakistan and intruded into Indian waters. This operation is a telling example of the India’s new resolve and Pakboatdetermination to keep the country safe. After many years, the national security establishment has done itself and the country proud by preempting a grave threat to the country by pooling its resources and smartly executing its counter-terror operations. India appears to be in no mood to mouth platitudes or wallow in self-pity any longer. It is now determined to pull the plug on terrorists from across the border and will go to any length to keep them at bay. The 2015 New Year’s Day operation clearly marks the maturing of the Indian National Security dispensation.

Since it shook off the shackles of British rule in 1947, India has seen constant security threats and wars with its recalcitrant neighbor. Thousands of Indians have been killed by terrorist trained in Pakistan. Fully exploiting an effete Indian leadership, Pakistan had inflicted its ‘thousand cuts’ on India. It went almost unchallenged, often getting away with incredible impunity.

For over thirty years, India had failed to come up with a credible and visible deterrent against this organized terror from Pakistan. India’s response, at best, has been brave words of fake resolve to fight it. For most of these three decades, India was run by political coalitions that were unwilling to put the country’s interest above their petty short term political gains. The country’s political leadership did not wield real authority, and importantly, was incompetent. Consequently, over the years, this had egged Pakistan to make terror an instrument of state policy to pin India down and had succeeded hands down.

The elections in summer of 2014 seem to have brought rapid changes. Earlier this winter when Pakistan, fired at Indian positions along the line of control (LOC), the response was unexpected. The ‘mortar-for-bullet’ response by the Indian security forces not only shocked Pakistan, but also India. Pakistan was forced to back off with a bloody nose and even admit that it did not expect such a powerful response from India.

Earlier in the year, India’s response to China’s intrusion in Ladakh was another pointer to its subtle, yet new assertiveness. Never before has India’s political leadership met China eye to eye and called off its bluff. While there is still much work to be done on the China front, recent decisions have only highlighted a vigor and maturity seen only among Western powers.

The overwhelming participation of the people of Kashmir in the elections is another key victory over terrorists. The security forces had ensured that elections were conducted in a peaceful manner – a feat that the National security adviser to the Prime Minister, Ajit Doval, rightfully claimed as a victory for India.

India has shown equal alacrity in safeguarding its economic interests – as seen from WTO negotiations. It stood its ground against the US pressure. While fully recognizing its vulnerabilities in a connected world, it has placed its bets correctly on securing its long term interest with a new found firmness. The wave of diplomatic charm offensives to win friends across the globe and in particular, a ‘Look-East’ policy – are definite pointers to a well-baked vision to further India’s interests.

These significant developments have not been adequately reported by the mainstream media in India. Either they have missed it or chosen to ignore it. On the other hand, some media reports have raised doubts over the authenticity of the interception of the Pakistani boat, and questioned every detail with the obvious intent to discredit the government. This is unfortunate and unprofessional when the full facts of the case are under investigation. In some sense, the media has lost its connect with the average Indian. They need to urgently revisit their priorities and get back on track to the business of dispassionately informing the people.

It would be unwise to dismiss the ‘mortar-for-bullet’ response to Pakistan’s intrusions at the border or the neutralization of Pakistani terrorists at sea as a one off chance event. It is only the tip of the iceberg of a host of tactical responses – and part of a larger policy framework – to handle a cantankerous neighbor. They reveal a deep and fundamental change in perspective to the country’s security.

India has superior and necessary assets –both human and material – to create the desired security climate conducive to achieve its strategic objectives – rapid economic growth to wipe out poverty from its land. The new security policy envisions economic growth and robust national security as two sides of a coin. In other words the two complement the other. Given that 80% of India is below 35 years of age, there is grave urgency to boost rapid economic growth to provide employment to the growing young workforce. Thus India is faced with a Hobson’s choice – rapid economic growth or a slide back to poverty. The latter will push India into social unrest and chaos. Hence at this juncture, India has no choice but to invest in its security for its growth. Consequently, it cannot afford to be distracted by Pakistan’s churlish designs. India’s new security doctrine seems be pivoting around this insight. In this context, Pakistan should also realize the economic realities of the changes in India and the consequences it may have to face if it persists with its proxy war. Since rapid growth is the only choice for India, Pakistan’s proxy war may cause severe retribution from India.`

Most importantly, the new national security paradigm is not limited to designing Pakistan centric response architecture, but building pragmatic and strategic machinery designed to protect India’s long term and immediate interests – wherever the threats may come from. The ground is prepared and India is ready to launch its aggressive economic growth strategies without distractions. Shock and awe awaits those who threaten India’s interests.

 

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Vijayvaani                                       Boloji

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2015 in India

 

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The Rise and Rise of Narendra Modi

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I have long resisted the temptation to put down my views on Narendra Modi. It is common knowledge that the electronic & print media in India have consistently projected a perverse and dismal image of Modi, notwithstanding the fact that he has been unequivocally cleared of any wrongdoing by a special investigating team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court of India.

In the midst of this polarization manufactured by a very powerful section of electronic and print media,  a well informed and intelligent discussion becomes impossible. However, even at the risk of being ignored, I want to highlight some key issues that have not been widely discussed by mainstream political pundits.

India is witness to a huge transformation that is sweeping the country as a result of three simultaneously occurring and evolving phenomenon. This transformation will influence future course of events in India and will in due course determine who the next PM as well as impact decisions beyond 2014. Narendra Modi has fully understood these forces and has used them to his advantage. This has paid him handsome dividends already – as seen from the massive following at his rallies and the stunning electoral success in the recently concluded regional elections. The three forces are the people’s expectations to deliver on development, India’s ‘demographic dividend’ and the skillful deployment of technology and internet – specifically social media,  in governance and mobilizing the people. Let me elaborate;

Many so called pundits have us believe that using development as an election plank is a new phenomenon. They in fact accuse Modi of starting a new expectation cycle from the people on economic development. This is far from the truth.

For six long decades Nehruvian-socialist shibboleths were peddled as panacea for removing poverty.  Keen observers have always been aware that the political parties – all of them – have been guilty of keeping large sections of society poor and underprivileged. Their logic was that these sections were susceptible to enticements and could be won over with trinkets, gifts and cash disbursals that came in handy to win elections. This, arguably though, is one of the reasons why we find slums dwellers in every city across India. That this has become an uncontrollable eye-sore is another matter.

To cover up incompetent governance and rank corruption, they raised a host of phony issues  and engendering  what Nehru would have called ‘fissiparous’ policies  – like appeasement politics – that did not have any real mass approval  and ultimately ended up against India’s interest.  But today there is widespread anger and demand for governance from every section of society.  Modi has shown the courage to change the narrative from rigmarole sloganeering to execution & good governance. What Modi has done in Gujarat is not unique; he delivered what a reasonable leader in a democracy is expected to deliver and his government performed the duties expected of it.  The time has come where anyone with a good record of governance will win the heart of India. This expectation has taken deep roots and Modi  has positioned himself  at the right place at the right time to encash his good work. .

Secondly, Indian political class today is a genre of senior citizens desperately clinging to office. With over 65% of Indians below the age of 35, the gerontocracy has long lost its connect with people. Overwhelming incompetence and corruption have accentuated disconnect. On the other hand, this demographic segment has played a very significant role so far in independent India in courting and influencing public opinion on a range of issues that  have shaped national discourse – from the gang rape in Delhi to exposing a media personality’s sexual indiscretions or drumming up support for a transparent administration.

Modi has smartly influenced this segment by showcasing his record of governance in Gujarat and offering the ‘India First’ theme. The Gujarat government’s efficient delivery of basic service to the people of the state and the attendant transparency has attracted millions to his fold. From there on he has shown superb leadership in keeping and growing this following by reporting to them at huge rallies the accomplishments in Gujarat and his dreams for India. This has captivated the under-thirty fives as well as larger sections of middle class.

Thirdly, Modi is tech savvy and has not shied away from using IT to enable development. He has an overwhelming following on Twitter – over 3 million followers. His YouTube videos are a big hit.  He is creatively engaging this group by crowd-sourcing new ideas for the 2014 election. The India272 website is an outstanding example where he has requested his fans to suggest campaign slogans, new ideas for development and electioneering. On the contrary the UPA regime and other parties have not only not courted them, but angered them by censoring social media. Winning the hearts of this massive segment is the biggest win for Modi.

Modi has definitely won the hearts of the people in his fight to capture Delhi. He is the hot favorite and is all set to become the prime minister. However, it would be naïve to conclude that the battle is won. There are any numbers of inimical forces that are determined to keep him away from taking charge of India. These are both internal and external forces that are working in tandem to stop him in his tracks. These forces will mount as many challenges as possible – legal, constitutional, political etc to block him.  So his path to Delhi is not exactly a bed of roses and he is fully aware of it. But the most heartening thing is that he has awakened an India that was long suppressed and emasculated by a perverted political model that defied logic for six decades.  If the British divided and conquered India, the Nehruvian socialist perfected a new art of appeasement to further splinter India. Both have greatly damaged the soul of India, but have not succeeded in destroying India. Modi will have his hands full in cleaning up the mess in 2014.

 

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