Loud mouthed boasting of a nation’s strength will by no chance improve its worth among the world nations. Real worth is when the rest of the world praises a nation for its performance that was achieved as a result of humble toil.
The brutal killing of 18 jawans in Manipur shocked the nation. A swift counter-attack by the Indian Army brought cheer to the armed forces and people alike. The Government’s response was a welcome change from the paralysis of 2001 when the Bangladesh Rifles killed 16 BSF jawans in cold blood.
Pictures of a smiling commando team were a hit on social media and representative videos seen on TV channels. A first-time minister talked about 56 inch chest and another referred to ‘change in mindset’. It was also said that Indian Army went inside Myanmar territory forcing their government to issue a denial. Though noteworthy, the current operation is smaller in scale and success compared to what the 57th Mountain Division achieved in 1995 during Operation Golden Bird, 38 rebels killed and 118 caught with weapons.
One appreciates the need for ex-Army men and ministers to pep up the Armed Forces and share changes in thinking with the nation. However, the widely held impression is that coverage was overdone. This also gave Pakistani PM Sharif an opportunity to score points by stating its desire for peace with India. A country that has made export of terror an instrument of State Policy is talking peace!
Members of the Strategic Affairs Community debated the possibility of launching similar attacks on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir at 9 pm prime time. To the cynical it seemed like a carefully crafted media event. For the emotional it was a perfect chance to display patriotism. Some news channels added to the excitement.
This is not the first time that the Indian people have gone overboard. Our behaviour borders at extremes. When a cricket team wins they are praised to the skies. One season later the captain could see his home stoned for losing a critical match. Before the onset of monsoons, its lack was being discussed. The next discussion could well be about ill effects of excessive rainfall.
Some pitfalls of recent behaviour
Details of counter attacks and back room diplomacy manoeuvres need not be a part of public discourse. Public reaction and external forces might then make it difficult for neighbouring governments to conduct joint counter-insurgency operations. India’s adversaries would have got the message with or without extensive media coverage! India has now upped the ante with terror groups. Now it is their EGO which could compel a response.
These verses from chapter 16 of ‘The Bhagavad Gita‘ throw light on ill-effects of ego.
The demoniac know not what to do and what to refrain from; neither purity, nor right conduct, not truth is found in them.
Bewildered by many a fancy, entangled in the snares of delusion, addicted to the gratification of lust, they fall into a foul hell.
When ego enters the picture, the mind becomes ever unsteady, irrational, agitated, loses power of judgment and discrimination.
We can expect a terror attack by Pakistan or North-East groups sooner than later, not to say that India is incapable of protecting itself. They will then taunt the Indian government and people just like the Pakistanis did after they conducted nuclear tests post Pokhran-II. Speak softly with stick in hand. Also excessive talk puts pressure on the Armed Forces to succeed every time. The fight with local insurgency needs to be won without publicly humiliating misguided Indians. A victory that leaves the other humiliated leaves lifelong scars of resentment.
Given that most of our wars including the low-intensity ones were with Pakistan, one can understand why ex-servicemen want to hit Pakistan back? But can that be the only reason why sections of the media and people are obsessed with Pakistan. By constantly comparing ourselves with a country whose economy and achievements, since independence, are a patch of ours, we are only belittling ourselves.
India’s biggest threats, in the 21st century, shall come from the East, North-East and the seas. Can we think differently? In a deeper sense, such behaviour reflects a constant craving for recognition. Western governments have sensed this and play up to the Indian ego by using words like superpower, economic powerhouse, India overtaking China’s growth rates. More Indians must visit China for a reality check.
Be it the IC-814 hijacking in 1999, 26/11, Kashmir Valley 2014 or Nepal 2015, reporting by sections of the electronic media has invariably been hyper, excitable, hurt local sensibilities and India’s strategic interests. Self-regulation is the need of the hour.
As a nation can we work silently, with the faith that we reap what we sow, and let actions speak for themselves? Remember Vallabhbhai Patel did not give himself the titles ‘Sardar’ or ‘Iron Man of India’, the people of India did. The title is a reflection of his contribution, that defined India’s borders, Karmas in short. A nation that is confident of its abilities need not shout from the rooftop and brag about its competence.
The day India truly arrives, the world will speak to us differently. The humble and aware will sense the difference. Market your good work by all means. However, the dividing line between sharing and jingoism is fine. Here is a example of sharing. 35,000 people did asanas on International Yoga Day at Rajpath, New Delhi and thousands across the world. This one day has done more to showcase Yoga than a million words could have. It is a subtle message that India is the home of Yoga. No need to ask the world to thank India for this science.
During the Emergency school buses were painted, ‘Talk Less Work More’. It worked. Excessive talk consumes energy and creates misunderstandings. If politicians talk less they might create less controversy and thus content for news channels. This might force channels to focus on producing quality content. India can gain by recalling these words of Maharishi Aurobindo: “Our first necessity, if India is to survive and do her appointed work in the world, is that the youth of India should learn to think — to think on all subjects, to think independently, fruitfully, going to the heart of things, not stopped by their surface, free of prejudgments, shearing sophism and prejudice asunder as with a sharp sword, smiting down obscurantism of all kinds as with the mace of Bhima. ” India’s Rebirth.
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1. Why post-independent India is at odds with its true nature