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jaipur, rajasthan, India
retired Army Colonel

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Indian Farmer & his hope




Largely, agriculture in India, besides being an unorganised business sector is acutely capital-dry reducing farmers to zero sustenance. They, have no power to hold on to their produce even for a day and are heavily pressed against debt servicing. The distribution system is ruled by the middlemen who have the money power to control the rates leaving farmers high and dry. The case is no different than artisans starving and retailers making huge money. In an open market economy, the Capital controls the MRPs tactically, nullifying the strategic factor of demand and supply, which has slow and indirect effect. That explains flourishing Aadti (wholesale trader in Mandi) and starving farmer. We are not talking exceptions but generally speaking. Undoubtedly, world wide there is subsidy on agriculture because of various socio-political reasons and rightly so, but that is only to keep the system healthy and not as ventilators, what we witness in India.
 Since, farmers are poor, debt ridden and have no control over retail pricing suffer the most, to the extent of suicides and wildest of protests as we witnessed at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, or in Mandsaur(MP) or Maharashtra. It's now spreading like a wild fire despite a happy harvesting this year.
Subsidies, loan wavers are not the answers and these would be rather injurious to our national economy. Such measures are for compassionate healing and can be administered as immediate painkillers but not the remedy to the ailment.
Indian agriculture has to turn into a Corporate Business House, to become financially viable. That would necessarily require a structural changes in rules related to Revenue deptt, land holdings, land reforms, irrigation network, seed research and trade, taxation etc. More importantly, the need is of socio-economic transformation of farmers from land lords to businessmen/working hands.
Unless, we attempt to juxtapose socialism(public sector) or cooperative farming and refuse to learn from the world experience, the answer lies in turning farming into large  corporates. That will allow the satellite agro market and industry to flourish, generating employment and prosperity in rural areas, besides retarding human migration to urban areas. These have far reaching advantages.
Firing guns on Protesting farmers, politicising it for quest of power, blowing the wind for media TRP are criminal offences if argued by any jurisprudence.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sword & the Scabbard

Armed Forces are State’s Instrument of Power and beside their primary role, these are called upon to execute writ of the Government where necessary. These remains State’s last bastion and therefore not only be deployed judicially but decisively. The latter holds the key. As the Indian State evolved over period of last century, the political leadership and bureaucracy in comparison with Armed Forces lagged much behind despite being cornerstones of arch of power. It was because of British Raj’s patronage to Military and quality building out of sheer necessity. Today, when Indian Republic stands as world's most liberal and largest democracy, the acumen of state to employ and deploy it's Armed Forces shows large amount of deficit. The Nehruvian paranoia, on the other hand continues to clip the wings of Armed Forces reducing them into castrated bulls or oxen to pull the cart at the whip and whims of bureaucracy and Political leadership. 70 years after the Independence, the Armed Forces have started taking shape into the cast designed for them as the old guard has slowly faded away.
Going back to the deployment of Armed Forces, it's now going from bad to worse for a simple reason that the interface today has become more pliable as both the engaging wheels get greasy.
Protracted deployment of Armed Forces in Counter Insurgency role becomes even more complex decision to make, thus warrants deeper thought and strategy, the key word being ‘decisive’. Under no circumstances the deterrence of Armed Forces and their sanctity as a final Instrument of Power never be diluted leave aside losing them.
With this as a background, look where our Armed Forces stand today? During JAT Agitation last year in Haryana, the Army was marching with a placard saying ‘Army’. The Kashmiri youth is able to swarm at operations sites, totally undeterred as a flash mob and throw stones at the Armed Forces in defence of holed up militants. Stone pelters do not leave a chance of displaying their fearlessness to raining bullets.
The Armed Forces, much to their distaste are made to occupy front office of the State and seen as instrument of governance,  in addition to that of power. The failings of Government are inadvertently seen as failings of Armed Forces. A guile the politicians possess to their brim, and Military bites the bullet.  A case in point of Kashmir is there for all of us to see. A mission strapped young Army Major, make use of an unwilling human shield to save, reportedly some 100 lives. Means justify ends in war as they say, but is there a war in Kashmir? If yes then which is the other Army we are fighting against?The larger question remains as to why the Army has lost its deterrence power? Who is responsible for it? And now that alienated Kashmiri youth is undeterred, what next? I am sure no nuke and no Chemical Agents. Syria, Turkey are already under world's RADAR.
If, we talk of only Kashmir, it is a political problem and Military cannot resolve it, except bringing down the violence to a manageable levels of civil governance. The Army brought it down many a times but found follow up wagons missing. Last 30 years, it's been like a bloody game and politicians doing the cheer leader. The edge of Security Forces have been blunted, their deterrence lost and Operations turn into personal street fight.
Abusing and Misusing Armed Forces is a sin and no act of treachery or sedition could surpass it. Those who are jingoistic must look under their collar.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Burhan Wani, a Kashmiri Resurgence

Killing of Burhan Wani literally, had set the Kashmir Valley on fire that continues to simmer till today. No other killing of a terrorist has ever resulted in high octane volatility as this. Why? It's a question we all must ask ourselves and dig out answers for. Those who feel otherwise are either na├»ve or pretend to be one. It's  not matter of conjecture but a simple fact that occurred undeniably in the valley. His funeral gathered unprecedented solidarity and anger against the Indian State.
Burhan, was romanticising militanthood to avenge his brother’s killing. The least any professional terrorist would never do is to post selfies on social media. A staunch radical Islamist only desists the very camera, Burhan was toying with. There were no known or acclaimed terrorist attacks alleged on him. He and his whole gang apparently took up, otherwise easily available gun in Kashmir to become a hero in the eyes society which is largely petrified, specially the young girls. His bravado was an arrogance towards the might and merciless iron hand of security forces.
Those following the insurgency in Kashmir, closely and empathetically, had not only foreseen the cataclysmic results of Burhan’s killing,  but are also pulling their hairs at the annoying disconnect between military and the political establishment, which is so very visible. Whereas, the field units of Security Forces are conducting operations to eliminate terrorists in their conventional stride, the finer strategic direction to their colossal effort is found apparently missing. An intelligent target analysis and realistic damage assessment, in context of counter insurgency would require deeper understanding of complex strands that such evaluations bear. It's the job of our worthy intelligence agencies to continuously evaluate otherwise a fluid situation, and feed our political leaders as well as commanders so that they can keep fine-tuning their strategy. Killing of Burhan Wani explicitly displayed the disconnect, or was it incompetence at strategic level?
 This makes it a classic example of how not to fight insurgency. Any Counter Insurgency campaign would require a clear cut strategic thought and direction. Resorting to fire fight or retaliations, is simply faulting the basics. The strengths of a State in neutralising any political uprising are perseverance, strategic capacity and political acumen. On the contrary, by adopting reactive and punitive approach towards the alienated population and insurgency, the State agencies tends to get personal over a protracted period of deployment, thus losing their superiority of edge.  It not only does create a bloody melee but dissipation of state effort. And we have created such a melee in Kashmir.

We would view Kashmir better through an Indian prism rather than a Pakistani lens. Islamist Violence and religious fundamentalism has disturbed the global peace matrix. Pakistan, couldn't help itself to avoid becoming part of the problem and the world is aware of the same.  She has got cornered internationally for sure, and it's  outrageous support to Kashmir is waning on two accounts. Firstly, the World Community pressure and secondly, a severe resource crunch it faces in house. Its own domestic violence and public opinion are only making the situation worse. Our focus should well now be shifted to people of Kashmir away from Pakistan's proxies.

This, would put us in context of Burhan Wani, and his likes who are picking up gun not to defeat India but to wriggle out of life of an inmate a Kashmiri lives strangulated in barbed wire. The youth want to rebel and push the barrel of gun away, that always seen pointing at him or her. A joint strategy of political wisdom and military prowess can bring peace and tranquility back in Kashmir if we all put our hearts and minds together as Lt Gen Hooda, Northern Army Commander rightly said.
It's the delivery boy or the messenger that not only bears the brunt of war but also put up a front face of the back office, that may be any insipid, distorted, disjointed and ill-intended.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


A Cindrela in Waiting..

My 85 year old father once narrated me a small anecdote. While studying for an History exams in high school, he had asked his older brother “ Bhaisab, how come it's only Mughals that win all the battles and no Hindu King ever?  To this his older brother replied “You will learn in later chapters that only Angrez(British) are winning all the battles thereafter.”
This made me curious to dig more into the history and draw my own conclusions. My father and his older brother, both were right. Paradoxically, the Armies of Mughals as well as British were constituted mainly of native Indians though, the wars got identified by the Kings who fought them. I couldn't avoid observing that valour of Indian soldiers and officers had been always exemplary; and despite this we lost to every raider / invader and were enslaved for 1000 years. It is a question I tried searching an answer for.
 My first deduction was that there existed a serious deficiency in our polity which threw up sordid rulers of a low political acumen, incapable of forging stronger alliances and build a mightful nation. Probably, the folly goes on till today with no change.
Secondly, the Kings maintained their Armies necessarily to quell internal rebellions rather to thwart an external aggression. The soldiers were seen more as kingsmen rather protectors of people and their nation. The Army lacked its nationalist character from its origin. The genesis of Indian Armed Forces has another typicality which has been aptly observed by General JN Choudhury, former COAS while delivering Lecture in Cambridge Trust series. He recalls, I quote “that the Indian armed forces as constituted today originated from the locally recruited watchmen employed by the East India Company to guard their trading sheds and settlements. However, when the directors of ‘John Company’ changed their priorities from enlarging their trade to increasing the size of their trading territory, these watchmen grew in number and quickly became an army. As the scope of military operations began to expand, into this army were incorporated the military forces of those Princes who threw in their lot with the British. Take my own regiment, the 16th Light Cavalry, for example. The     brief history given in the Indian Army List states: ‘Date of raising unknown. Formed from details of   the Nawab of Arcot’s Bodyguard in 1784’.” unquote.

Indian Military slowly got cast into a colonial Army as event unfolded. Instead of, for own freedom and independence, it fought and won wars for our masters. The character of Indian Military was thus shaped by the purpose and intent of its rulers, keeping it nationally and politically colourless.

Going back into prehistoric times, the religious discourses, philosophical dictums and righteousness preachings occupy an overbearing space in our much revered epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana. It leaves military valour, strategy, tactics and art of warfare at the margins. On the contrary, the Greek epics like Iliad highlighted more upon Military values, valour and bravery. The Armies, therein, were  formed by the best men of the country who had an ability to defend people’s freedom and liberty, even at the cost life. Soldiers were thus seen in country as elite, saviours and Godly. That encouraged, among people a culture to respect and envy Military traditions and ethos. War and valour got romanticised and drew lot of glamour in Western World. Till the British came we never had experienced this among our common men.
Casteism, in India had been another evil which kept military a domain of few privileged and blessed ones. It added to an already existing disconnect, that Military had with common men.

Independent India had on her hands a Queen’s Colonial Army laced with British traditions and Brown Saheb culture. At the same time it was a reckonable force, seasoned through Frontier insurgencies, and two world wars. Since, it had served  the British Crown for two hundred years, our   political leadership, drawn from Independence movement, doubted the loyalties of Military and    would not believe that these can change instantly. Till few days back Military officers would look  down  upon the topi &  dhoti walas and chased them out with their mounts and batons. Indian Army had some very tall leaders and battle hardened distinguished officers who overshadowed both the political class and civil bureaucracy. Field Marshal Cariappa, General Thimayya, Rajendra Singhji, SD Verma, Nathu Singh ji, to name only few. The envy and insecurity it generated among bureaucracy were to guide future civil military relations in independent India. A bad note to begin with. No wonder Nehru said “Scrap the Army”. Blatantly, it also reflected Nehru’s paranoia about Military Coup and lack of his strategic vision and statesmanship. In fact it sums up the perineal dislike the Indian polity has in its Military and vice versa.
Flaws in Nehru’s leadership have been brought out best by Madhav Godbole in his book ‘The God Who Failed’. When it's almost fashion these days, in a new Indian political era, to loudly criticise and castricate Nehru, astonishingly no word comes out on his ill treatment of Armed Forces, not even by Godbole. Is it a testimony to the disconnect and insensitivity the nation has towards its Military or its connivance with the imprudence?
We do witness cricket kind of hoopla during war, calamities and anniversaries with Armed Forces but that's veneer of our patriotism and skin deep.
Our very fine Armed Forces, despite their proven unflinching loyalty, competence and dedication to our countrymen, time and again, for some very strange reasons as fathomed above, have been denied their due space in national affairs. Are we going to carry on with the follies and deficiency of our history or shall learn from it? When we were just rejoicing the dawn of a new political era on Indian horizon, the sky got overcast again.

Will our Cindrela get her Prince Charming ?









Wednesday, December 2, 2015





INTELLECTUAL PURSUITS ARE TENABLE

After saying my bedtime prayers, and lying eyes closed, I usually take a plunge into realm of architecture’s fantasy and enjoy mentally drawing a ideal house plan in my own virtual space of mind; until such time the sleep grapples me hard enough. During the leisure, while wide awake as well, if ever a paper and a pencil found their way into my hands, I would invariably indulge in drawing another house-plan. Noticing my intriguing hobby, one Colonel Chauhan, my colleague at Air Force Station, Awantipura, J&K,  warned me, that those who make house plans in the air never succeed in actuality. The colloquial phrase ‘castle in the air’ flashed across my mind immediately as part of natural reflex. I asked him inquisitively and worrisomely as to why? He said “ The desire gets satiated due to protracted flights of imagination itself and loses its potency to impregnate the ground”. He had a point alright,  but does it in anyway mattered to unabated stream of my creativity? Does it mean that unrealised ideas are worthless? The taunt triggered off argument in my mind to defend and value my thoughts, ideas, feelings and desires which remain unrealised, unaccomplished or unexecuted for lack of will and courage. While, I pushed my chair back to straighten up legs and recline, the temptation to light a smoke prevailed. Nicotine would soon stimulate my mind and raining thoughts would come knocking one after the other.
First one that came alive in my mind made me blush, unbecoming of a middle aged man like me. Thankfully it went unnoticed as Col Chauhan had left my office by then. Into the flashback…..experimenting then, with the puberty and adolescence, I would toss in my bed whole night, compose poetry for her and secretly write letters only not to post them. Angelic love that sprouted and flourished in my heart, sadly remained shy of pronouncement and enactment. I, with no sense of regret, cherish the very thought of it today with so much sublimity. Was it meaningless because it never saw the light of dawn?
Frequenting Indian Coffee House in college days, we discussed Karl Marx aloud and fought verbal duels with those having bourgeois mindsets. Idolised Bhagat Singh and we denounced Mahatma Gandhi. Hailed a powerful statement by Vibhuti Bhatnagar, a fellow goer that “Gandhi was not born in Porbandar but in the minds of British”. We cursed  American oppression in Vietnam and revered Dutta Samant a labour union leader in Bombay with hope and excitement. Yet, we never ever joined any street protest or a political rally. Remained like others, in the mainstream to flow with the current. Would it imply that intellectual pursuits we ventured into, as young men in seventies, was a waste of time or simply meaningless?
We grew up adoring Vijay of ‘Deevar’ (Amitabh Bachchan starrer Bollywood blockbuster),  who would not climb the steps of a temple of worship. Yet, we never mustered courage to abstain ourselves from rituals at home or acclaim Atheism. Did we fake our feelings and conviction then? I feel no. We were genuine in our hearts and saw rationality, reason above blind faith.
I might as well put  a lid to so many such thoughts that would keep erupting to justify their existence in a virtual world and never turned into a physical occurrence. Let's not talk of many recipes that churn out of my mind but never reach to oven.
In today’s age of roaring social media, sharing of ideas, opinions, philosophy and knowledge has become a popular trend. People have found new platform to hone their writing skills, exercise their analytical minds and attempt to attract as much readership. These are Intellectual pursuits which serve as nourishments to our brain faculties and quests for philosophical and empirical truth; the one we all remain in constant search of. Ironically, it's getting fashionable nowadays to ridicule these as pseudoism, meaningless outbursts or waste of time. Is it fair and just?

Of Course, we have those enviable doers, who would do it what they propound, and accomplish that they believe in totality. Most certainly, they are the midwives who actually deliver, through the intense labor and odds of uncertainty. Undeniably the doers are the gainer but it is not righteous to undermine the fertility of mind which conceives and sprouts seed ideas, concepts and philosophies, notwithstanding  its inability to cast and mould them into physicality.
Will it not be vulgar to call Intellectual Pursuits alias’ Mental Masturbation? Some wordsmiths have flirted with the idea to my utter anguish.