Resetting India’s national security vision (Beyond Gandhi-I)

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BY UDAY MAHURKAR

(The author presents his thesis on why it is time for a new security doctrine based on the vision of Veer Savarkar-Subhash Chandra Bose and an honest admission that Gandhiji did great things for India but his ideology of complete non-violence and Hindu-Muslim unity was, according to the author, at the cost of Hindus and resulted in much damage to the nation and is bedeviling it even today. This is the first of two articles on the subject)
There comes a moment in the destiny of a nation when it should accept the ultimate truth, howsoever bitter it might be, and end its ongoing suffering to secure its own future. In other words, no nation can move forward without squarely facing up to its past mistakes. Those nations who fail to do so get thrown into the dustbin of history.
With the repeated backstabs by China, Pakistan’s continuing terror attacks in J&K and an internal security situation where the actions of a combo of Pan-Islamists and Communists are destabilizing the nation, is it time for India to do an analysis of its past blunders and shift gears in terms of its national security vision?
Perhaps yes. India has been aware of the nature of the deceptive Dragon since 1962. After Prime Minister Modi came to power, India did take measures to contain China and turned India from an underdog to an equal partner before China. And yet it allowed itself to be lulled into complacence in Galwan valley. Modi did a great job of befriending anti-China powers like Japan and Vietnam, wooing back pro-China powers like Myanmar, opposing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea and, lastly, taking an anti-China stand on Covid-related issues.
None can deny that his grand plan to build military and civil infrastructure on the over 3,400-km-long Indo-China border was one of the provocations for the Chinese incursions. But, on the other hand, India revealed a weak spleen after Modi’s arrival when it prevented the Dalai Lama from being vocal against China in an attempt to appease the Chinese and, in the end, got deceived as shown by the latest episode. Even when China was opposing the designation of Maulana Masood Azhar as a terrorist by the UN, we chose not to play up Tibet as well as Chinese atrocities against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang .

Series of national security blunders

Let’s start with a throwback into history. Jahawarlal Nehru’s blunders on the national security front, which cost us heavily in the 1962 Indo-China war, were rooted in the ‘peacenik’ thinking of Gandhiji. Nehru’s Panchsheel doctrine, for which India paid a heavy price against China, was a mix of Gandhiji’s non-violence and his tilt towards Left ideology. The great visionary of India’s national security, Veer Savarkar, had warned in 1954 when Nehru came up with the Panchsheel doctrine, that such kow-towing to China after its aggression in Tibet would whet the Chinese appetite for swallowing land and he won’t be surprised if China did that with India itself. He was proved correct eight years later in 1962.
There are more examples of Gandhism’s dark shadow over India’s national security. Around 1978, an upright leader like Prime Minister Morarji Desai, under the influence of Gandhian ideology, committed the monumental blunder of revealing to the then Pakistan dictator Gen Zia-ul Haq that India had a spy network in Pakistan and that he (Desai) knew about the progress of the Pakistan atom bomb project at Kahuta.
Next, Zia weeded out all of India’s moles, set up by a resourceful Indira Gandhi during her tenure as Prime Minister as part of her successful plan to create a great spy network in Pakistan. Zia killed some of them while others managed to flee. Desai also rejected Israel’s request for a refueling facility to its fighter jets in India for destroying the Kahuta facility. Interestingly, till Modi’s arrival as PM, Indira Gandhi came closest to providing India with a robust national security vision that the country needed but she too demonstrated serious flaws because of the Gandhian streak.
After breaking Pakistan in two in the 1971 war, she failed to settle the POK issue even when India was holding 93,000 Pak jawans as prisoners. On the contrary, in the Shimla agreement with ZA Bhutto, she gave back Pak territories that India had won in the Sindh region in that war. Before that, in the Tashkent Agreement under Lal Bahadur Shastri, India had returned to Pak areas that it had won in the 1965 war.
On the internal security front, India allowed as many as 10,000 foreign Wahabi missionaries of the Tablighi Jamaat to come to India since 2014 to preach an exclusive brand of Islam that turns local Muslims against the idea of nationhood. The Indian security establishment has been aware for years that the Tablighi Jamaat is the biggest Wahabi movement in the world spread over 150 countries and forges the vision of Ummah (World Islamic brotherhood) which militates against the idea of nationalism.
But it is proof of the lack of national security vision of a nationalist government that 10,000 foreign-based Wahabi missionaries were allowed to preach in India in the past six years. The Shaheen Bagh movement was a creation of pan-Islamists or Wahabis who wanted to fix Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for having dealt repeated blows to their plan of Islamising India by winning the Assam and Uttar Pradesh elections and freeing J&K from the clutches of Article 370, besides facilitating a judicial solution of the 500-year-old Ram temple problem. Removal of Article 370 was proof of Modi government’s great commitment to issues affecting national security which was just unthinkable in the recent past. It carved the names of Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in golden letters in Indian history.
And yet the government, by its actions, allowed the situation to spiral out of hand on the Shaheen Bagh issue in the hope of winning the Delhi polls, thus dwarfing a national security issue before a small state election. A clinical national security vision warranted that the government at the centre woo the non-Wahabis to isolate the Wahabis on the Shaheen Bagh issue. Instead, driven by election fever, the BJP targeted the entire Muslim community, thus uniting the hardliners and the moderates.
Against Pakistan, India — which is four times the size of Pakistan — might have taken revenge for Pulwama but it is not able to contain that terror nation even today despite Herculean efforts. Pak-sponsored terror attacks continue in J&K. Yes, on the national security front, India is in a far better position than it was in the past several decades. But, the fact remains that like the previous governments, the Modi government too has failed to impose sufficient cost on Pakistan or China for their transgressions against India like Israel does for hostile Muslim nations. Clearly, there is something wrong with India’s security vision and there is an urgent need to fix it, both internally and externally.

(Uday Mahurkar is a senior journalist. The views expressed are those of the author)

(To be concluded)

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