Say No to #SayNoToWar

Okay, the objective of this article is not to advocate for nor it is to say that war is good. Of course, war has always had a devastating effect on any country irrespective of whether it loses or wins. But still, it is to be fought nevertheless, when imposed.
I saw in the days following the air strikes by India on Pakistan’s terrorist groups, that the #SayNoToWar was trending in India. Now, I find it ironic that people tell India to say no to war. It is like telling Sachin Tendulkar, not to sledge.

If people know India’s history, India has never been at war by itself. It has always been imposed by other nations, mostly Pakistan. And if people know the world history, even the most peaceful nations of today’s times like Japan and the Netherlands have a history of territorial expansion and colonization. India has never ventured into those areas. So, when India should be the one teaching peace across the world, it is truly ironic that the country, having a bloodiest possible past and present, is trying to sermon India about peace. And it is unfortunate that some misguided people in India are falling for that.

Another point often made when asking India to be peaceful and tolerant of the things one should not be, is that India is the nation of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi is often quoted to alleviate any kind of aggressive defense India shows when its integrity and sovereignty is threatened by external forces. History, designed by Nehru-Gandhi (not Mahatma Gandhi) family kept Gandhiji at the center stage of everything, especially education. It was often shown that India is Gandhi and Gandhi is India and that nobody else mattered. But, as much as this country belongs to Mahatma Gandhi, it also belongs to Chandragupta Maurya, Maharana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Bhagat Singh, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Mangal Pandey and Netaji Subash Chandra Bose (and numerous others).

Our education system also changed the definition of violence and non-violence based on Gandhi’s perspective. Self-defense and taking up arms to protect its citizens is not violence. People who think India has been traditionally non-violent in absolute terms, as always been tried to project, do not know about the history of India.

This is the country that has never hesitated in taking up arms to prevent wrongdoing. This is the country whose history teaches us to not even hesitate to fight against your own brothers for the protection of dharma. And when I say dharma, I do not mean religion. That is not the interpretation of dharma in this part of the world. In Hinduism, Dharma is righteousness. It is not religion. Dharma is essentially doing the right thing. It asks us to keep aside our biases and look at what is necessary for terms of action, which we call karma.
The post-independence education and policies of India essentially developed a misguided concept that nonviolence is absolute – a principal difference between Gandhiji and other freedom fighters such as Bhagat Singh. That was precisely the reason why, after the initial years of Independence, Indian polity never really focused to build a strong army and instead just assumed that because we are a peaceful nation, nobody will attack us. That myth was broken by China within 15 years of Independence. Unfortunately, it came at a great cost of the precious lives of our brave soldiers who gave the supreme sacrifice in the war of 1962. India learned it a hard way that strength respects only strength.

People who know India’s history know very well that nonviolence can never be absolute. Even the saints in ancient India had knowledge of weapons and used them skillfully. They very well knew that as much as good exists in the world, evil does too. And it is up to the people, who do good, to eliminate the evil as well. And you cannot eliminate evil with non-violence. Lord Ram had to wage a war against Ravan. Even Lord Krishna had to wrestle Kans to kill him. The history of Hastinapur, today’s Delhi, would have been very different (in a negative sense), had the Pandavs not taking up arms against their own brothers in Kurukshetra.

Coming to today’s events, if we look at like what exactly happened, Indian Air Force specifically targeted the attack on the terrorist camps in Pakistan. Civilian areas and military establishments were carefully avoided. And even the attack on the terrorist camp was conducted because there was an apparent threat to India’s security. And even the rest of the countries of the world have acknowledged India’s right to protect itself from these terrorist organizations irrespective of where they are based. So, India essentially has waged a war on terrorism, not Pakistan.

And, instead of giving our opinion based on the minuscule amount of information we have compared to our armed forces, we should blindly trust, and I say it categorically that we should blindly trust, our armed forces to make a decision on whether to go on war or not. Just as advocating war is wrong, so is absolutely opposing it is.

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Armyman’s House

Last year, on our way from Mumbai to Bangalore, we made a night stop over at Belgaum. We took the opportunity to visit one of my close friend’s parents. While her mother was a home maker, her father served in the military and retired couple of years back to settle in Belgaum, a small city in North Karnataka (close to Maharashtra border).
It was my first visit to a military personnel’s house. However, it didn’t take much time to figure out how their houses are different from an average civilian’s home (and now I know why, for them (may be not all), the society is divided as military and civilians). Every single thing was not just at it’s right place but also placed in the most correct manner.
The living room also had a wall loaded up with all the medals and honors received during the military years along with photos of those proud moments when they were conferred. And as you watch it, you feel the sense of pride for having these countrymen ready to sweat out in Jaisalmer or fight the freezing Siachen to ensure we sleep in peace. You don’t see such walls in a regular house.
As we got ready for the dinner, uncle asked if I would like to have something to drink. For the first second, I wondered why so early? Normally, we have ice tea, juices, colas along with the food. And then I realized where I was. The collection of spirits in that bar cabinet was exquisite, something which I decided to have at least once in my life time (besides Robert De Niro’s wardrobe in The Intern).
Another most noticeable virtue was the commitment to cleanliness which sees no exceptions. Right from ensuring no walking without slippers inside house to placing shoes at the right place and in right position, there were intricate details. For me, that was perhaps the most commanding task for house members, especially when it is more preventive than curative. Maintaining such a large house in an impeccable way is no child’s play. My own perception of me being cleanliness freak went for a toss.
My interaction with uncle was amazing and reminded me of my conversations with my father, on totally different topics though. During his military years, he had spent some time in my home town (Ahmedabad) as well, so it didn’t take much time to find topics for discussion. The dinner was very homely (obviously) and we took some cooking tips from auntie on the North Karnataka cuisine too which we implemented later on.
We didn’t discuss much on the army anecdotes which I would have loved to. But this short visit of perhaps just about 12 hours is something I will cherish for time to come with hope that I get another such chance.

Yes, The General Deserves to Retire With Dignity – UPA Needs to Stop the Self-Goals!!!

Kapil Sibal – eminent lawyer; 23 years in politics; served as member of Board in several high-profile organizations such as IGNOU, Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies, Business Advisory Committee, Committee on Home Affairs, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Indian AIDS initiative and Working Group on Arbitrary Detention set up by the Human Rights Commission; represented India at different international summits like World Economic Forum, Annapolis Conference – USA, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

P. Chidambaram – MBA from Harvard; again an eminent lawyer; 26 years in politics; held cabinet positions in Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Home Affairs

Salman Khurshid – M.A., B.C.L. Educated at St. Stephen`s College, Delhi and St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University, Oxford, U.K.; taught as Lecturer in Law at Trinity College, Oxford; 30 years in politics; stints at Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Minority Affairs and now Cabinet Minister for Law and Justice, and Minority Affairs;

Pranab Mukherjee – lawyer, college teacher, journalist; 42 years in politics; served as member of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund, of the World Bank, of the Asian Development Bank, and of the African Development Bank; chaired the Group of 24 attached to the IMF and World Bank; currently a senior member of the Cabinet Committees on Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Parliamentary Affairs, Political Affairs, Prices, Security, Unique Identification Authority of India, World Trade Organization.

Manmohan Singh – This man doesn’t need introduction. Still for the others – http://pmindia.nic.in/cv.pdf

 

Pretty much similar to the “on-paper” Indian team that’s losing left-right and center in Australia. Well, this team is also no different when it comes to results – that too on their home ground. It is amazing to see the number of self-goals this team has conceded since coming back to power in 2009. Already earning a tag of non-decisive government, this team has a series of mishandling of issues – CVC Chief appointment, corruption and scams, inflation, Anna Hazare movement, Rs32 a day definition of urban poverty, FDI in retail and latest being the Army General date of birth issue. It is even more pathetic when you have four lawyers in your cabinet – getting onto the wrong side of a legal tangle is the last thing you would like to happen. But yes, THEY DID IT.

Since last one week I was hearing about something around the age of Chief of Army, General V K Singh. My occupancy with another article and the unfortunate habit of forgetting things didn’t allow me to check on this more. But this weekend, I tried to see what the issue is about and was astonished to find out the extent to which an issue of gravity of a couple of high level internal meetings was stretched to Supreme Court.

The questions to be asked over here are:

  • What is the importance of a SSC School Leaving Certificate issued by a State Education Board (a government body) as a proof of birth vis-à-vis a UPSC application form hand filled by a candidate?
  • In case of an error in the application form, does the intimation of the error, submission of the correct document to UPSC and its acknowledgement by the later, relieves the candidate from its accountability on any controversies arising due to his date of birth in future?
  • In a highly organized and hierarchical organization like Indian Army, why there exists a confusion between the superiority of AG (Adjutant General) Branch and MS (Military Secretaries)?

 

One doesn’t need to be an Einstein to understand what’s happening here. We fill hundreds of forms in our lifetime. And yes, we do make mistakes. But forms are always submitted along with supporting documents issued by statutory authorities to verify the details. And the sanctity of these documents is beyond question – which is why they accompany our hand-filled application forms.

The current army chief did the same. There was an error in the filled application form (May 1965) – yes. Performing its responsibilities rightfully, UPSC asked for clarification on the discrepancy which was resolved in timely manner (June 1966) by the general and his father when the matriculation results were out. The matter should have ended there. However, 8 year later, when the Army List was published by MS maintained the DOB of the General as 1950 instead of corrected 1951.

This raises questions on functioning of the MS. When were the details of General (not at that time) Singh received by MS? It certainly won’t be that the General filled the form and it was immediately recorded in the records of MS. If UPSC, AG Branch and IMA (Indian Military Academy – which issued the Indian Army Identity Card to the General) had the correct DOB of the General, why was MS in dichotomy? How is General responsible for that confusion? MS maintained that, “no request for change/correction of date of birth will be entertained after a lapse of two years from date of commission” – but the General was commissioned in 1970 and he submitted the originals in 1971.

The only point that is going against the General here are the three letters in 2008 where he agreed to accept any decision taken in organizational interest and to mention his DOB as directed. But the argument that the General Singh received his promotion because of the false DOB (i.e. of 1950) is misplaced since the current MS Secretary G M Nair categorically stated that the Selection Board considered the DOB as 10th May 1951 for the promotions.

Coming to the role of government on this, even a fairly educated person would be able to say that supporting your case with a hand written letter (the three in 2008), an application form and Army List is a suicide against the prosecution prepared with evidences such as matriculation certificate, documents with AG Branch, annual confidential reports and awards, identity card, passport, driver’s license and numerous other statutory documents. It is difficult to understand what the government will gain from this.

As long as I remember this is the first time in my lifetime that military and government has been in loggerheads – at least not for a reason like this. I might be amateur in saying this but these kind of issues are meant to be solved through internal meetings and not through media and judiciary. Yes, our General deserves to retire with dignity. It is sad that morons, currently in the MMS cabinet, are trying their best to sink the UPA ship to all time low levels.