Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Dynasty Politics, The Theory of Unintended Consequences & The Demonized Indian Army

Begaani Shaadi Me Abdullah Deewana, quite literally Omar can not be blamed for all the ills of Kashmir, existed as they have since 1947 accession.  He of all the people should have known better from the experience of kin gone on before him that the Indian Army was his benefactor and generations of Kashmiri's before him starting from Maharajah Hari Singh ruler of Kashmir, who signed the accession of Kashmir under threat from Jinnah's marauding hordes. 

The fate of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is lost on no one, and the notion of freedom will not exist there for ages to come looking at the posture of Pakistan, its Army and the denial of free media access or movement to the region.

Ironies don't end here as the Indian Army is not involved at all in the current turmoil in Kashmir, the preserve of the the J&K Police & the CRPF and other CPOs.  

If loosening whatever little is left of governance in J&K, by means of diluting or removing Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA), mounting pressure on Police (SOG), CPOs, is face saving for the NC, then who authorized this wet dream and under what mandate. This is not someone's inheritance. Last India was a democracy and there were such niceties as Parliament and debate.

The media, much of which willingly espoused this Congress gambit is equally stung by their inability to have read the pulse of public opinion and the resentment this perverse politicking with the AFSPA & Indian Army, seen by many as the last bastion of a clean institution and Indian's last line of defense.

It is hardly Ironic that the dynasty in Congress should play politics with the Indian Armed Forces for the sake of another dynasty. It wasn't always that the Congress was anti Indian Armed Forces. The BJP has stood by the Army, isolated as it is today! The Left in its opposition is inconsequential and its only value remains nuisance value.

The theory on unintended consequences has pitted a recalcitrant Omar Abdullah against the Indian Army and its right minded nationalist supporters that are suddenly appearing all over the Indian landscape like the proverbial phoenix that rose from the ashes. 

Omar we thought of a nationalist has since turned out to be a weakling and a malingerer, because it is impossible to be a nationalist and be popular in the traitor districts of Kashmir valley! Any other institution was fine but his unfair and vitriolic views on the Indian Army sealed his fate.

Too long in this country has the Army been treated in a cavalier fashion! As India polarizes around malcontent and religious divide spread by the same poisonous politics that spawned the partition, the mood in India has hardened, and the Congress besides seeing an internal fissure, is clearly out of step with both public opinion and that means losing votes and elections in the long term if it is seen as compromising on national security for pecuniary short term gain.

Omar would have muddled along but for his cardinal sin to use the Army as a whipping boy, to camouflage failure on the governance (as have his father and grandfather before innumerable times). This misreading has cost both the Congress and National Conference dear as it has agitated a base level public opinion, which is hard to finesse or obfuscate with usual promises and sophistry.

The Indian Army meanwhile is being subjected to increased attacks on moral grounds as a way to besmirch its good name. Many retired officers have allowed themselves an ego boost of being used as de facto spokespersons, at the behest of media and think tanks, at the cost of the mother institution, to prove arcane, obscure and malafide theories. 

The Indian Army meanwhile has no direct voice, muzzled as it is by decades of political and bureaucratic insecurity, jealousy and keeping the fighting man out of policy and Defense management, Research and Strategic armament management. 

Its information strategy, its information warfare technique, even vanilla public and media relations, and general reputation management remains mired in a precedent organization that does not face the fast paced media world of Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and the Internet, beyond even the traditional Print and Broadcast media. 

The Ministry of Defense and its patron Minister have failed to represent the views of the Military, and this reflects in order of precedence, pay and such dirty politics as the ones India is witnessing over (AFSPA) meant to protect Indian sovereignty in extenuating and extra ordinary circumstances as exist today in the Indian North East and Kashmir Valley.

It didn't need to play out like this, but the dysfunction in the Congress has allowed real power to be centralized in the Gandhi family, away from the Prime Minister, the traditional head of the government in India. 

This dysfunction also manifests itself in all arms of government, bureaucracy and business regulation. The concentration of power has meant destruction of institutions that were once merit driven and democratic, and the consequences of this bastardization are evident all around us as we prepare to exit 2010.

Clearly there is no silver bullet solution for Kashmir, concessions will not douse this fire. What is needed is the iron will of a Sardar Patel, may more like him be born in the Indian Republic and those existing recognized and promoted to positions of eminence, power and fortitude in Indian politics, bureaucracy and its Armed Forces.

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