Dr. Ajay Chrungoo
INDIA is on the threshold of becoming a major regional power. Its adversaries have been trying to thwart these ambitions by unleashing a proxy-war against it. What is intriguing is that a section of our own people should facilitate these designs. These people need to be identified and isolated from the decision-making process. National security has emerged as India’s foremost concern. Assaults on social unity and ideological subversion by the Left-Liberal establishment have undermined the efforts to consolidate national security. ‘Indutva‘, the book under review, by Prof. MD Nalapat, a top Defence analyst answers all these concerns. Indutva is a vision of a strong India. Ideologically, it represents the fusion of the essential concepts of secularism and nationalism into a single coherent dialogue structure.
In India, in recent defence policies, there is not only absence of strategic thinking but even tactical thinking. Consequently, there has been lack of appreciation on having adequate defence systems on security. Pakistan’s proxy war and bullying attempts by global powers are the fall-out of our indecision to fashion effective nuclear and political deterrents. In the past also the defensive mindset of our rulers and the fragmentation of the social milieu led to India’s enslavement twice, first by the Turks and then by the British. Prof. Nalapat lucidly explains how blunders by the Congress leadership during the anti-colonial struggle strengthened Muslim communalism and delayed the freedom. Emotion was given precedence over reason and ground realities were ignored while working out strategies.
Prof. Nalapat criticises the current policy of ‘nuclear ambiguity’. He remarks that the deterrent value of this policy would be effective only when joined to a vigorous programme of development of launch vehicles, creation of fissionable stock-piles and development towards miniaturization of war heads. He declares that the development of Agni and the deployment of Prithvi will improve the security environment significantly and act as a deterrent to Pak adventurism.
Who are the guilty men of India that are throttling India’s defence capability? A spineless political class has been ever-ready to barter away the national interests. Nalapat attributes this psyche to the result of the memory of a thousand and more years of servitude to Afghans, to Persians, to the European power. Despite the engulfing proxy-war, the successive Central governments are reluctant to mobilise popular support by elightening people about the nature of subversive threats from within and without. The same government has abandoned the frontline victims of the proxy-war and dumped the groups, who could be useful allies, to win the war against terrorism. Warmer references to a terrorist state and willingness for dialogue by the Central government and the political big-wigs only serve to demoralise the nation.
Bureaucracy, which used to be called the steel-frame, has become an instrument to undermine the national security. The Politician-Bureaucrat nexus has led to the neglect of security systems. This is what Nalapat seriously believes. This nexus wants to turn India into a lackey of Washington. Morarji Desai, Narsimha Rao etc. all created hurdles in India’s nuclear programme. Rao starved country’s strategic programmes by with holding funds. During his regime Prithvi was capped, Agni was rolled back and the nuclear deterrent made defunct. A powerful lobby even tried to hound out Dr Abdul Kalam from India’s missile programme.
A domestic lobby has been more concerned about the security interests of China and U.S. rather than India. This lobby has been encouraging the external backers of subversion. Nalapat says the way to expose the allies of this lobby in India would be to call their bluff and propose and implement policies “that will guarantee security rather than a continuation of the slow bleeding that has been inflicted on this country as a consequence of the timidity of its political leadership. India needs not only secularism but also security”. He also establishes a correlation between the declining effectiveness of Indian diplomacy and the increase in externally-backed insurgency within our borders. Doesn’t it warrant a parliamentary probe to fix the responsibility for negligence of our security?
An influential lobby, toeing the U.S. line justifies the capping of India’s nuclear programme, arguing U.S. would provide the security umbrella. It also pleads unilateral concessions to U.S on nuclear issue saying this would be reciprocated by economic concessions. There are also demands to slash down the expenditure on defence. Prof. Nalapat brilliantly exposes the contradictions in this fallacious approach.
Entrusting the security of India to a power which has had a history of putting pressure on India to compromise its security concerns to accommodate a hostile Pakistan, would be an act of irresponsibility. U.S. is more a part of the problem. It has been creating security concerns for India in the form of fundamentalist terrorism. The network of Islamist mercenaries it created in the 1980s is a major security challenge to India to preserve its integrity. U.S. policies of bringing up Islamist mercenaries through ISI led to substantial sections of the Pak army coming under the spell of fundamentalism. U.S. drive to back up “moderate Islamists” to beat back “radical Islamists” has reinforced Pakistani assaults against India. An extension of this debate in U.S. establishment has led many think-tanks to propose a “moderate Islamic nation”, Kashmir. The entire Track-II diplomacy on Kashmir is sponsored and guided by this lobby. It is desirable to probe the motivations of Indian Track-II groups also. Nalapat rightly asks, “How else is one to interpret the fascination with the “Third option” for Kashmir (i.e. independence) on the part of those attending seminars on “conflict resolution” in South Asia? He adds that should the ‘Third option’ become a reality, the new state is likely to become as fundamentalist as Iran.
Stretching the argument further, Nalapat asks Americans if they are committed to the territorial integrity of India then why do they, dispute Kashmir’s accession. The truth remains that the agenda of U.S. on Kashmir is to internationalise the issue and hopefully secure a result in accordance with the wishes of the Pakistanis. Americans ignore the link between Kashmir and the very survival of the Indian state. Every expression of doubt on the finality of Kashmir’s accession provides oxygen to the terrorist movement in the state. American expressions of concern over “rights” of Kashmiris is the driving force in sustaining fundamentalist terrorism in Kashmir.
U.S. is also covertly backing ISI in training Islamist elements for fomenting trouble in Chinese Xinjiang. For these elements Karakoram highway is a vital route for supplies. Nalapat observes that U.S. pressure on India to withdraw from Siachen is to facilitate this subversion, away from the watchful eyes of Indians.
The direction of the present American policy towards the sub-continent is to wipe out the tactical and strategic advantages that India has over Pakistani and ensure parity between the two. This can only be done if Indian technological advances and defence procurement are checked, while Pakistan’s is not. The Americans consciously allowed China to transfer its nuclear technology to Pakistan. It has taken no action against North Korea. On the contrary, the Americans are hyping up the Pakistan programme “to convince the Indian public that a capping of both would be an even-handed measure rather than directed against India, which is the factual position”. U.S. design is not only to curb nuclear and missile programmes but to roll back the all capabilities the country has achieved during the past four decades in this field.
U.S. is using three sticks to throttle India’s nuclear programme. One, it is dangling the carrot of economic concessions. Secondly, it is indulging in moralisation by its references to global disarmament. Lastly, it abets Pakistan’s nuclear blackmail against India. U.S. has been trying to persuade India to give up the deterrent using a rationalise of the ‘danger’ of Pakistan emerging as a nuclear power. Nalapat does not hesitate in pronouncing that those who endorse demands that crucial strategic programmers be aborted are encouraging fresh assaults on Indian sovereignty.
Even the argument that yielding on nuclear issue would placate U.S. in reciprocating through economic concessions, does not hold water. India’s unilateral concessions were reciprocate by renewed American pressure on sensitive issues like defence technology and Kashmir. Henry Kissinger, in his book Diplomacy, himself says that unilateral concessions are to be taken as signs of vulnerability and the effort should, therefore, be to squeeze out yet more concessions, rather than reward such naivete by positive gestures.
How do we deal with Americans? Nalapat is not opposed to economic and strategic links with U.S. but warns against conceding anything on strategic interests-Kashmir or nuclear issue. He wants India to give depth to its policy on CTBT by much more active development of nuclear and missile technology, despite the risk of U.S. retaliation. India’s strength as a secular democracy and its economic potential may change U.S. ultimately. As a pragmatist he asks Indians to explore Russia-India-China strategic relationship in case U.S. intransigence continues. Recently, there has been loud thinking on build an Asian NATO, where Indian would play its rightful role and would be less vulnerable.
India’s ham-handed approach to Pak provocations may encourage Pakistanis to extend the proxy-war to other states. Nalapat warns against making any strategic concessions to Army-dominated Pakistan. However, trade, cultural and other relationship may have positive impact on common Pakistani. In the ultimate, Pakistan may not be able to withstand rising economic burden. Popular anger may burst out and call for an end to unjust wars being waged by Pak state.
In Nalapat’s view no Kashmiri politician is a saint. NC patronised cross-border infiltration to seek leverage with New Delhi. After 1997 NC hampered counter-insurgency effort by getting terrorists released. All political groups in Kashmir have patronised religious extremists of fascist Jamaat Islami. State Congress too followed a policy of patronising Kashmiri Sunnis, the group most pampered and mainly involved in the separatist movement. Nalapat criticises Mufti for toeing pro-Hurriyat line, patronising religious extremists in VP Singh’s time and helping Pakistan get a foothold in Kashmir by his refusal to take preventive action against many who had been won over by ISI. On Rubiya episode, he quotes a senior state officer who said, “the situation got out of control in 1990, when VP Singh was the Prime Minister. The minister had two options. He could have acted as the custodian of the nation’s security and refused to deal with the abductors. Or he could have resigned and appealed as a father to the Kashmiri people to force the terrorists to release his daughter. He did neither. Instead, the government surrendered”. Since the credibility of a government is an important factor in controlling an insurgency the Kashmris thought azaadiwas round the corner and the bulk of the population crossed over to the terrorists’ side.
There are no long-term solution in view so long as regional factors continue to destabilise Kashmir. Indian state has yet to send a message that terrorism will be fought whatever be the cost. There can be no discussions on the status of Kashmir. Nalapat wants this to be made explicit. On autonomy he says that Article 356, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, C AG and the Election Commissioner, in any internal dialogue, are non-negotiable. An important element in counter-insurgency war is that Indian state should also see that the nationalistic groups in J&K are not being penalised for being loyal to India.
Prof Nalapat belongs to a family, known for holding rationalist beliefs. Abrey Menon and Naryana Menon were his uncles. Nalapat has very strong views. He says respect for India will not flow from a repeat of past barbarity but from the rise of national income to a reasonable level. His other assessments are also scathing. Nehru is blamed for nourishing communalism. He finds much in common among Nehru school graduates, the Left and the religious exclusionists. He ardently believes that the anti-majoritarian definition of “secularism” has only led to Hindu anger. Mulayam Singh’s appeals to Muslim and Yadav groups are dubbed as communal. The other contributions of Mandalites to social disharmony include fanning insecurity among minorities and distancing them from BJP.
Nalapat has remarkable sense of humour. This pervades throughout the book. It is a book every Indian, who has good of his country at heart, should find time read.
Author : M.D. Nalapat
Price : Rs 395
Publishers : Har-Anand Publishers