Showing posts with label Terrorism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Terrorism. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Of Manifestos & Congress Party’s Backward March

“Reaching for their grubby lecture notes, scribbled at the pre-war London School of Economics, the second generation socialists went into action. They produced between them, the Labour Party’s Manifesto of 1945. Under the inspiring title Let us Face the Future, its authors planned to solve the problems of the past.”

- C. Northcote Parkinson in Left Luggage

Instead of the ‘second generation socialists’, the motley crowd of Naxalites and pseudo-economists that infest the NAC, have gone into action, with a similar backward vision to produce the Congress party’s 2014 Manifesto.

The grand document opens with a lie in its first paragraph, in the statement that the “Indian National Congress made seminal contribution to India’s unity, integrity, secular polity and democratic federalism.” Wasn’t it under the Indian National Congress that India lost 38000 square kilometres of land to China and 78000 squarekilometres to Pakistan?

And then, instead of telling the voter what it intends to do to solve the myriad problems that plague the nation, if it were returned to power, it gets down to bash its principal opposition, the BJP. Scroll down to the next page and you will have a surprise. Splashed in the centre of the page in large caps is the question, ‘CONGRE SS OR BJP’ without the question mark. The space you see between ‘CONGRE’ and ‘SS’ is not a typo in this article, but is as seen in the downloaded .pdf document.

The party’s report card informs us that ‘the Congress-led UPA has brought 14 crore people out of poverty in the last ten years.’ Oh, yeah! These people can now eat a sumptuous meal @ between `1 and `12! 

Whoever has written the manifesto is adept at fabricating history. The economic reforms were advanced by a decade to credit them to Rajiv Gandhi and the dynasty and to rob P. V. Narasimha Rao of his due:

“In the 1980’s, economic reforms were launched in response to new challenges, to modernise the Indian economy…”

There is this ‘Right to entrepreneurship’ in the ‘15 Point Agenda For Socio-Economic And Political Transformation’. Now, what the heck is ‘right to entrepreneurship’? Is it ‘entrepreneurship’ of the Robert Vadra variety or the crony capitalism of the A. Raja type? For the rest there is a ‘pledge’ in answer to every criticism levelled by Narendra Modi in his critiques of UPA’s 10 year misrule in his electioneering! The party pledges to achieve in five years what it could not in ten years! The pernicious Communal Violence Bill finds a place in this section.

Sonia Gandhi’s ‘tireless campaign and vision’ does not fail Parkinson! How does one reconcile [the resolve to] ‘promote a more flexible labour policy as needed for maintaining competitiveness’ (3 i. p. 10) with ‘strengthening collective bargaining’ (5. p. 14)? Was page 10 written by Jairam Ramesh and page 14 by the bots in the NAC?

Having run the economy into the ground during the last ten years the party seems to have woken up to the perils of its profligacy. It therefore slips this slice of wisdom into the fine print of the section, ‘An Economic Roadmap for 2014 - 2019’ (This section seems to have been written by a different hand, as evidenced by the fact that the articles in this section are not numbered with Arabic as elsewhere but Roman numerals.):     

vii. Subsidies: Given the limited resources, and the many claims on the resources, we must choose the subsidies that are absolutely necessary and give them only to the absolutely deserving.

And then there is the middle class which is the most pliant in conforming to economic laws. Having been conditioned to put up with abysmal levels of service in all public utilities for over six decades under its decadent rule, the Congress party feels it would not now mind being taxed to receive what is its due:

We will also consider introducing sensible user charges because many more people are willing to pay for better quality services, for example, uninterrupted power and better quality train services. We will use this money saved to expand health, education and infrastructure. 

The difficulty with this formulation is that it ignores the amorphous nature of the middle class. The middle class ranges from a call centre employee who draws a monthly salary of `10000 to a software engineer who is paid upwards of  `100000.

Even after the Supreme Court threw the `10000 plus crore Aadhaar card scheme out of the window the following paragraph finds mention in the section, ‘Accelerating Job Creation and Skill Development’:

4. Aadhaar is a powerful tool for protecting the interests of migrant labour, as well as ensuring the smooth flow of remittances to their families. All migrant labour will be covered under the Aadhaar programme in the next one year, through a special campaign.

The party considers the Communal Violence Bill so important that it finds a second mention under the section, ‘Safeguarding Minorities’ in the ‘Detailed Action Plan 2014 - 2019’. There are several others, detailed elsewhere, which were repeated in the section, probably to make up the bulk.

The party does not bother to broach about terrorism (the section on Internal Security deals with Left Wing Extremism) but has a small paragraph tucked in the foreign policy section:

7. On Pakistan we will encourage the new government’s stated position to improve relations with India but calibrate the dialogue consistent with delivery on accountability for 26/11 as well as dismantling of the infrastructure of terrorism on Pakistani soil.

The manifesto, long on rhetoric and short on substance, ends with again cribbing and cawing about its principal opposition, the BJP.

It is for the people of this country to decide whether they would like to vote for a party that does not even wish to utter the word ‘terrorism’ in its manifesto. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Asymmetric Warfare

Book Review

Someshwar, Manreet Sodhi. (2013). The Hunt For Kohinoor. Westland Ltd. Chennai. Pages: 425.  Price Rs. 295/-

In the aftermath of the event which has come to be known as 9/11 since then, the phrase ‘asymmetric warfare’ was popular and in vogue for about a decade. If for Carl von Clausewitz warfare was an extension of politics by ‘other means’, for the terrorist, asymmetric warfare was the policy. But there is a difference. For von Clausewitz politics was for national interest and nation building. For the terrorist, asymmetric warfare was a means to achieve an ill-defined cause, religion for example.  

Other nations like Israel, and India had been victims of terror. But till 9/11, the US has been oblivious to the threat and convinced of its own invincibility might have been a tad patronizing to the victims of terror. By the time the US woke up to realize it was not immune to the terror threat after all, India had had several bouts of it, including separatist insurgencies in the northeastern states, Naxalite insurgency in the east-central corridor, the Khalistani movement and lastly the violence in Kashmir that forced 500000 Hindus into ‘internal exile’. In most cases the insurgencies were externally engineered and fuelled by exploiting internal fault lines but Kashmir was different.

Montgomery Meigs, a retired General of the US Army, reviewing ten centuries of jehadi terrorism, wrote in 2003 that “Actually, al Qaeda’s overall strategy is not new. … Today, only the mechanism of attack has changed. The mechanism of attack has indeed changed. It is to deliver a spectacular blow to the perceived common enemy designated as the kaffir (infidel). The destruction of the World Trade Centre in 2001 falls in the category.

Saudi Arabia, home to the most radicalized form of Islam, known as Wahabism is generally known to be the financier of international terrorism, and Pakistan the supplier of operatives. However the nineteen member team that brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in 2001 was drawn from nine nations.

When Frederick Forsyth wrote The Afghan (2006), a second spectacular strike (after 9/11) was only in the realm of speculation. But it did take place, not in the west as everyone supposed it might be attempted, but on India. The attack on Mumbai, India’s financial capital in 2008 was achieved with the help of a number of ‘sleeper modules’.

Youngsters are indoctrinated to such an extreme degree of hatred (of the infidel) that they not only perpetrate mass murder without the slightest of qualms but are willing to self-destruct themselves in the process. These youngsters are infiltrated into the unsuspecting enemy nation where they merge into the mosaic of society so unobtrusively that it is impossible to detect. They lay in wait like a snake ready to strike when called to so. In intelligence parlance, they are known as sleeper modules. In his The Kill List (2013) Forsyth portrayed the indoctrination of ‘waiting snakes’ and how they were deployed to cause havoc among unsuspecting societies.  

It is not even whispered due to a skewed sense of political correctness, but Indian intelligence agencies are aware of the sleeper cells that exist in India and the availability of potential candidates to carry out terror operations.  

Apart from the international terror matrix that bedevils the world, there is an India specific threat that resides in its neighbourhood and engineered by its sworn enemy, Pakistan. The threat is ever present. It has been ‘bleeding India through a thousand cuts’. Deciding that it cannot wrest Kashmir through warfare, Pakistan has resorted to the more insidious mode of asymmetric warfare. The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the deadly India-specific terrorist organisation is a creation of its intelligence agency, the ISI. However, as Hillary Clinton, the American Secretary of State advised Pakistan, she could not harbour a snake hoping it would bite only her enemies. While the asymmetric warfare unleashed against India is denting the economic progress of Jammu & Kashmir, which Pakistan, ostensibly professes to rescue, it is bleeding itself out.

It was in the reign of Atal Behari Vajpayee that an attempt to bring about a rapprochment between India and Pakistan was mooted. His opposite number in Pakistan at the time was General Musharaf. The aborted Agra summit (2001) between Vajpayee and Musharaf is too well-known.

In her novel, Manreet Sodhi Someshwar sets the summit in Kargil instead of in Agra. It was the culmination of ‘Operation Karakoram’ a series of high level talks designed to find a solution to the vexed, decades-old problem. As proof of his bona fides Gen. Zaidi, the Pakistani President was to hand over secret documents (which he codenamed Kohinoor) that would help the Indian Prime Minister avert the next big terror attack on India. However the summit was sabotaged from the Pakistani side and the general assassinated as he descended from his helicopter. In the attack, an ace Indian Intelligence agent, Harinder Singh Khosa, popularly known as Harry was seriously wounded.

Harry, an undercover agent of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was tasked to halt ISI patronage to Khalistani terrorists. As head of the CIT-Z (counter intelligence team Z, where ‘Z’ means Zamzama the large bore cannon mentioned by Rudyard Kipling in his Kim) team, he brilliantly carried out the operation forcing the ISI to call for a meeting with RAW. A little after the operation, as Harry was in a joint operation with the Afghan intelligence agency KHAD, he was wounded in the head by a rock splintered and dislodged by a mortar shell. The knock made him unconscious for several days, but when he woke up, he lost a part of his memory. He forgot about his family of wife and daughter. Harry regained the memory when he was wounded in the head for a second time at the sabotaged summit meeting between the Indian Prime Minister and the Pakistani President Gen. Zaidi. Although he regained his memory, he was critically wounded and in no fit condition to travel for a while and undertake a mission.

Jag Misra, head of the Pakistan desk in RAW and Harry’s boss recruits his daughter Mehrunnisa, an art historian by profession to stand in to finish the mission. Mehrunnisa born to a Sikh husband and his Iranian Muslim wife has drop-dead looks and is fluent in several languages. Eventually, consumed as much by patriotic zeal as he was by fatherly love, Harry overcomes the anguish of a pain-wracked body to join the ‘hunt for Kohinoor’. What follows is, as the blurb says ‘a spine-chilling ninety-six hour hunt through the world’s most dangerous terrain’.

The Hunt For Kohinoor portrays a diabolical plot that is far more deadly in its sweep than the WTC bombing or even the 2008 attack on Mumbai.