War and dissolution of India

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Predicting  when a war will occur is a difficult task. It is the likelihood that  nations prepare for and some circumstances make it more likely.  Perfectly sane statesman, even great ones, have regularly erred in  their estimate of the probability of war and even more often of its  consequences and outcome. The Great War of 1914-18, to which Europe  unexpectedly succumbed, devastated it. And it also presaged the end  of the mighty British Empire and especially its control over the  jewel in its crown, India. The omniscient, all-knowing Joseph Stalin,  the single most consequential individual in world history, almost  lost his realm, despite assiduous preparations over more than decade  for it, to Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa.

A  mixture of rage, spite and strategic calculation prompted the British  to incite latent religious animosities that resulted in India’s  blood soaked break up, the implications of which have not yet ended.  India had rarely been a united political entity in history despite  the vast reach of its shared culture and faith. Indeed only the  wilfully blind will insist its present political configuration and  geographical extent are an immutable and timeless reality. On the  contrary, centralised control of the region has been in retreat for  many centuries, rising and ebbing periodically. It shrank  successively from its historic western borders in Afghanistan to the  Punjab in the west and Bengal in the east after 1947. The ceiling of  India’s greatest geographical magnitude, in terms of total  territory, had been reached under British colonial rule and the  extant subsequent phase possibly only a historical pause.

A  fresh and devastating political and military challenge to the Indian  Union seems likely because deepening internal chaos is prompting  foreign foes and friends alike to review their goals with regard to  it. There have indeed been public discussions in China of the  desirability of dealing with a pesky India before 2017. Political  allies and well wishers cannot be relied on unconditionally since,  with rare exceptions, they are usually fair weather companions.  Athens’ steadfast Plataean allies, who cheerfully chose political  oblivion, slavery and death, are remembered with awe precisely  because their courageous deed was remarkable.

India  will also find itself alone if it fails to give a good account when  the challenge of mortal combat is posed against it by the Sino-Pak  alliance. The moment India seems unlikely to endure militarily in the  face of the enemy others will make their peace with them to salvage  their own geopolitical interests. It will begin the formal  Sino-America concordat for condominium over Asia, the main loser  being Japan, though all of Southeast Asia as well. If India fails to  respond effectively in the battlefield that will nix any desire of  outsiders to offer serious material assistance to influence its  course because that ought to essentially come from India’s own  efforts. They will be aghast, but cannot be realistically expected to  enter the fray directly except at the margin, in order to sustain  Indian resistance.

There  are odd parallels between the fifth century BC Peloponnesian Wars and  the Indo-Pak conflict, with India as the mightier Athens and Sparta  the Islamic Ghazi State of Pakistan, whose sole rain d’etre is  warfare. The Spartans finally defeated Athens with Persian help,  which enabled them to outclass formidable Athenian sea power. The  vast Persian Empire may be compared to modern China, taking advantage  of the local Indo-Pak rivalry. Athens sued for peace when its fleet  was decimated in the Second Peloponnesian War. The Delian League,  akin to Federal India in some respects, led by Athens, dissolved.  Athens itself was cut down to size politically, territorially and  conceded primacy to Sparta, a fearsomely militarized entity. It may  be noted that not an inconsiderable number of Greeks, akin to a  significant segment of contemporary India’s treasonous  intelligentsia, sided with Persia in their own life-and-death combat  with Athens. Is this the fate that awaits India in a future encounter  with the Sino-Pak alliance, while its vacuous political class engages  in dim-witted parleys with both in the interim?

It  would not be an exaggeration for an unbiased observer to suggest that  the Indian State has all but ceased to function. Even some who  sympathise with the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty express dismayed agreement  in private. The extent of the dysfunction of the Indian State  apparatus and its bureaucracy is fully apparent to most and certainly  to India’s enemies. It is being studied closely by them and  specific policies, like land acquisition and arms contract  investigations, that hamper Indian’s industrial development and  military modernization, are being influenced by their covert  intervention through proxies. These pressure Indian politicians, held  hostage by vote banks. In addition, vital decisions of State are  emerging haphazardly, from what is effectively a royal court. Many  conscientious officials are looking anxiously over their shoulders  and reluctant to act for fear of a CVC inquiry on any decision.

India’s  disgraceful National Advisory Council has proven an unmitigated  disaster, allowing ignorant parlour chit-chat and prejudices to  become State policy. Political and personal favourites, eager to  gratify, though without any vestige of competence or expertise, have  acquired ultimate say over policies. These are designed to please  members of the first family, even as these villainous traitors  promote their own interests and that of their families. It is also  clear that members of the ruling family, engaged in sordid business  malfeasance, are directly choosing everything from seats for Air  India’s freshly inducted fleet and top Delhi police brass to  university vice chancellors, senior bureaucrats and Indian  ambassadors. Worst of all, the chief of the Indian army turns out to  be a relative of the wife of the supreme Indian VVIP. She demanded  his selection, precipitating a massive crisis of authority within the  Indian army.

Under  the present dispensation, there seems no chance that India will  manage to engage the invading Sino-Pak hordes with the unprecedented  courage and determination that halted the German army outside Moscow  in 1942 and then thrashed them all the way to Berlin. Nor are  preparations being mounted for a long and bitter struggle for India’s  survival, likely guaranteed to run out of even ordnance in no time.  It would be stretching the imagination to expect the deputy chairman  of India’s Planning Commission to reorganise India’s industrial  assets for total war, with the unbelievable élan of the  extraordinary Russian wartime planner, Nikolai A. Voznesensky.

This  impending catastrophe will take the shape of simultaneous Chinese  assaults along more than one point of the Sino-Indian LAC. Our  incumbent National Security Adviser and External Affairs Minister  will probably dismiss them all as mere kerfuffle because it is  undemarcated, until, presumably, the fall of Tawang itself and worse!  There will likely also be an airborne assault on Arunachal Pradesh  and widespread surprise pre-emptive strikes on airfields, perhaps  India losing much of its precious fighter assets before they  scramble. All Pakistan needs to do, at the start of hostilities, is  mobilise and tie up significant Indian military resources by  threatening J&K and even Delhi. They would have been taken it in  1965, according to a senior Indian general, had it not been for  General J. N. Chaudhuri’s reforms after the 1962 Nehurvian debacle.

Pakistan  will also wave its nuclear manhood,  including its low yield battlefield member,  to dissuade the Indian political leadership from taking the fight to  the enemy pre-emptively, to free up military assets for use in the  north. But the moment India is militarily exposed and prostrate in  the aftermath of a successful Chinese assault, its leadership fleeing  in disarray to supposed safety, Pakistan will launch its own invasion  of India. There are also apparently well developed plans that have  been drawn up in Beijing to help Nepal regain territory it lost to  British India in 1816 as a result of the Treaty of Sugauli and to  which claims have been made recently. What will Bangladesh seek from  India in this situation of unusual opportunity?

Their  dreams may be easy to realise if a third of West Bengal’s  population, much of it strategically placed in the city and Kolkata,  decides to initiate a general uprising. They have already  demonstrated a capacity to mobilise tens of thousands in the streets  of Kolkata, when they violently protested the conviction of Pakistani  collaborators in Bangladesh for war crimes recently. They brought the  city to a halt and the government of West Bengal virtually went into  hiding in terror at this display of brute force.

In  any case, much of West Bengal’s Hindu intelligentsia always sought  a united Bengal, even under the shariah jackboot, the aspiration of  Sarat Bose and his overrated brother, Subhash. This was to be the  Bose family Zamindari though they themselves would have been speedily  consigned to the river Hooghly the moment an independent Islamic  Bangladesh was established. It was Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and N. C.  Chatterjee, the erstwhile Lok Sabha Speaker, Somnath’s patriotic  pater, who thwarted the nightmare though it begins to appear  transient. The Punjab may be tempted to secede, with so many Sikhs  convinced Hindu India is their real enemy. What of the rest of India  is hard to conceive though its venally opportunistic politicians are  scarcely able to engage in anything more than unbridled avarice on  behalf of their own immediate family? The leaders of most of them  organising to fight for the survival of the nation is a remote  possibility though collaborating with invaders to secure temporary  respite for themselves would be unsurprising. Many quasi autonomous  enclaves that subsist blatantly deep within the Indian body politic  already, including its India’s capital city and swathes of Kolkata,  where official authority hardly prevails, may spread.

The  question is can the Indian nation fight a long and bitter war, defeat  from which would equal the fate of its people during the darkest days  of Islamic subjugation. It certainly does not possess a political  class that shows any signs it can join such a historic struggle. In  addition, many of its most prominent politicians seem to harbour  suspect foreign ideological loyalties, religious and political, and  treasonously maintain ample assets abroad. Firing off Brahmos  missiles at Chinese military assets and formations may not suffice to  forestall disaster. Boots on the ground, proper equipment and skilled  military leadership will remain indispensable. All of these were  absent in 1962 and even during Kargil war the Bofors guns, which  played a critical role in the conflict, quickly ran out of  ammunition. Unfortunately, Nehru’s successors have largely turned  out to be pure carpetbaggers, making him appear saintly despite his  sheer mediocrity.

It  is only now that India’s Defence Minister, whose principal  qualification is unsparing loyalty to the ruling family, has taken  cognisance of the need for reserves as well as additional forces, the  two critical factors that Hitler grievously underestimated because  his armies destroyed a huge portion of the regular Soviet forces in  the first weeks of the invasion in June 1941. The Soviet people and  their leadership were stunned and reeled, but found their feet and  the necessary manpower to recover and embark on a defence without  parallel in history. In India’s current state of administrative and  political chaos, military uncertainty and lack of preparation,  battlefield nuclear devices must be considered for deployment. It  will send a chilling message to its tormentors that if there is to be  an end to India its neighbours will end up joining it.

Whether  the ongoing anarchy will find remedy after the 2014 Lok Sabha  elections is hard to predict. India’s anointed heir is no Athenian  Pericles, likely to stop the rot, though like him, descended from an  elevated social background. Even the Athens Pericles ruled suffered  dismemberment as a result of defeat in the Second Peloponnesian War.  Nor is the immediate forebear from abroad of the anointed pretender a  counterpart of the formidable Catherine of Russia, a German princess  in origin. And it is hard to imagine India’s dismal incumbent CEO’s  as Catherine’s efficient principal administrator, governor general,  Grigori Potemkin! One visualizes the perfumed first family fleeing  India, if not to an embassy in Delhi, to a salubrious retreat in  Europe, the moment the first signs of India’s military collapse  become evident.

Among  India’s contemporary politicians, Narendra Modi alone seems to  possess the ideological clarity, administrative competence and pure  love of motherland that would inspire India’s millions to follow  him to the gates of Hades, if the worst happened. He will need his  Alexander Suvorov, but the only Indian solider of the past  generation, Lt. General JFR Jacob of Calcutta, worthy of the highest  esteem is now past ninety, though without much honour in his own  country. However, the moment of truth will soon arrive for Indians,  who need to think long and hard about the future of their motherland.  Clearly, the gods have intervened and chosen an avatar that has come  into our midst from humble origins, but tempered like steel by hardy  circumstance. Voting for Narendra Modi in 2014 and those who will  allow him to function is the only choice.

Dr.  Gautam Sen (Taught international political economy and the London  School of Economics and Political Science for more than two decades).

First  published in Click To View