28 August, 2010

India's Maritime Vision : 2020

from the Indian Defence Review

“What ship? Where bound?” is the traditional nautical query that goes out on the air when a warship encounters a stranger on the high seas. Recently an Indian Navy frigate on passage to the Persian Gulf was challenged on radio by a ship of the Coalition Task Force on patrol: “Unknown ship what are you doing in this area?” The IN ship shot back with barely concealed annoyance, “ I happen to be an Indian warship in the Indian Ocean. What are YOU doing here?”

While this story may be apocryphal, it does serve to illustrate two aspects. Firstly that old mindsets take time to dissipate; guarding the seas East of Suez was historically considered the ‘white man’s burden’, and in some perceptions we may still be seen as interlopers in our own backyard. And secondly, that India has neither acknowledged her role as a pre-eminent maritime entity in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), nor done enough to shoulder the concomitant regional responsibilities.

While others are reluctantly coming to terms with India’s quest for her rightful place in the evolving world order, Indians themselves have remained irresolute and diffident in this regard. Consequently, there is a likelihood, that the concept of ‘Maritime India’ may present a conundrum, to the citizens of a nation which has remained hostage to a continental mind-set for centuries.

Therefore, before making out the case for a Maritime India, a decade and a half into the future, I would like to briefly take my countrymen back into the hoary past to examine the context in which a substantive maritime underpinning can be claimed for India’s history.

Our Blissful Ignorance

While we revere our past and have been brought up to blindly believe that we are the inheritors of a great culture and tradition, as a nation we have been sadly remiss in neither researching the past, nor adequately recording our own history. William Dalrymple provides us a poignant reminder of this shortcoming in the Introduction to his celebrated new book, ‘The Last Mughal’. He refers to the 20,000 virtually unused Persian and Urdu documents relating to Delhi in 1857, known as the Mutiny Papers, that he found on the shelves of the National Archives of India and says, “…the question that became increasingly hard to answer was, why no one had used this wonderful mass of material before.”

It was left to conscientious British administrators, Jesuit scholars and other European researchers to unravel our glorious past by learning Sanskrit and studying our sacred Vedic literature. The discovery and collation of India’s history and culture by European scholars not only created great respect for it amongst them, but also inspired Indian nationalists to value and cherish their own inheritance, as they had never before viewed India from such a perspective.

However, those who write history also enjoy the license of giving it whatever slant they wish to; and this as we will see, is often at the cost of objectivity.

Their History

Almost all works on maritime history from Western sources start with a description of the seafaring tradition of the Mediterranean basin (circa 2500-2000 BCE), and dwell on the sea power of Crete, Phoenicia, Greece, Carthage and Rome. The first reference to the Orient generally relates to the Greco-Persian war in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, where mention is made (with relief) of how Greek sea power thwarted an “attack by Asia on Europe”. In this context Greece was fortunate in having two accomplished historians: Herodotus who is known as the “father of history”, and the Athenian historian-soldier Thucydides, who maintained a meticulous record of the Peloponnesian Wars between Athens and Sparta (431-404 BCE).

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Western Europe came once again under threat from the east; this time from sea power of the Ottoman Turks, who brought pressure to bear in the Mediterranean. The Battle of Lepanto in 1571 put an end to this last Asiatic challenge. Historians conclude that this was also the period that seafaring countries of Europe made certain breakthroughs in the fields of ship-construction and navigation, which enabled its sailors to start undertaking long-distance voyages. At the same time advances in gunnery and specialised fighting vessels provided them the means of overwhelming the opposition of ‘other races’.

As Paul Kennedy puts it, the Western onslaught into the East was inspired by a mixture of political, religious and economic motives, particularly the latter. Once the Spanish and Portuguese fleets had demonstrated the ease of conquest, and the economic benefits to be gained by such maritime forays, the race was on, with Dutch, French, and English adventurers joining in what became a scramble for trading links, political advantage, proselytisation and loot.

So much for early maritime developments in the West; but it is intriguing to note that nowhere in these historical accounts does one find even a passing mention of India or the seafaring skills of ancient Indians.

Our History

For this we have to turn to the lone voice of Sardar KM Pannikar (1895-1963), our first ambassador to China, who combined in himself the attributes of statesman, diplomat, historian and visionary. Among the large number of his works in Sanskrit, Malayalam and English is a seminal essay entitled ‘India and the Indian Ocean’. First published as a monograph in 1945, this treatise is now out of print, and although read and quoted extensively by foreign scholars, it is little known to Indians.

According to Pannikar, for geo-physical and meteorological reasons (currents, prevailing winds etc.), it was the Indian Ocean, and specifically the lands washed by the Arabian Sea, which saw the first naval and oceanic sailing activity; and European historians err grievously when they assume that the navigational tradition first emerged around the Mediterranean.

Long before seafaring developed in the “limited” Aegean waters, according to him, oceanic navigation had become common with the coastal people of peninsular India. He clinches his argument by stating that: “Millenniums before Columbus sailed the Atlantic and Magellan crossed the Pacific, the Indian Ocean had become a thoroughfare of commercial and cultural traffic between the west coast of India and Nineveh and Babylon (modern Iraq) as well as the Levant (E. Mediterranean)”.

Pannikar goes on to assert that not only do the earliest Indian literature, the Vedas (1500 BCE), speak frequently of sea voyages, but that much of the materials found in the remains of the Indus Valley Civilisation (3000-2500 BCE), and many products discovered in Mohenjodaro came either from the shores of the Red Sea or the extreme south of India and “could only have been transported by sea”. He places Indians firmly alongside the Greeks and the Arabs as ancient seafarers and claims that the Hindus had already in use a magnetic compass (matsya yantra) for accurate navigation, and having acquired the skills to build ocean going ships of great strength and durability ventured into the distant reaches of the Arabian Sea.

Though Socotra was perhaps an Indian settlement and Indian communities existed in Alexandria, and in other locations in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, maritime activity in the Arabian Sea was confined to commercial purposes only. On the other hand, the Bay of Bengal provided a highway for a succession of kingdoms in the southern and eastern Indian peninsula to embark on cultural, colonisation and proselytisation missions to lands beyond the Malacca Straits – as Far East as Japan. Interestingly, Pannikar debunks the commonly held belief that all Hindus had a religious objection to crossing the seas, saying: “it was never true of the people of the South”.

Pannikar recounts the continuum of colonisation as well as cultural and religious osmosis from India’s east coast, by sea to Southeast Asia. Starting with the Mauryan emperors, he traces Indian maritime activism through the Andhra, Pallava, Pandava, Chalukya and Chola dynasties. To make his point about intrepid Indian mariners providing continuous cultural sustenance and support from the ‘mother country’, he refers to the 500-year long dominance of the seas by the Sumatra based Sri Vijaya Empire (of Indian provenance) and to the growth of large Hindu kingdoms and empires in Champa (Siam), Cambodia, Java, and Sumatra from the 5th to the 13th centuries.

From this apogee, India’s maritime prowess went into rapid decline, mainly because the Central Asian dynasties, which ruled in Delhi, knew more saddles and stirrups than concepts of sea power.

The arrival of the 20-gun Portuguese frigate San Gabriele off Calicut in May 1498 marked the beginning of what Pannikar terms as the ‘Vasco da Gama epoch’ and commencement of four centuries of ‘authority based on control of the seas’ by European powers; and not all the daring, valour and patriotic fervour of the Zamorins, Marrakars or Angres could stand up to it.

An Indian Ocean Entity

“Status and symbolism” said George Tanham a RAND Corporation researcher in his monograph on Indian strategic thought, “matters greatly in Indian society…and Indian Admirals may need no justification or rationale for a powerful navy other than that India’s greatness mandates it.” Others have alleged hegemonistic intentions on the part of India. With mindsets of this nature, I considered this somewhat lengthy prologue necessary to obtain a correct perspective about our past, and to provide reassurance that Indians are neither interlopers nor parvenus in the Indian Ocean.

We, therefore, need to examine whether in trying to become a pre-eminent IOR entity India seeks merely ‘status and symbolism’ and hegemony; or is it actually seeking to fulfill a manifest destiny and a tangible need. The British, because they had arrived in India by sea, realised the gravity of the potential maritime threat, especially from their European rivals. Accordingly they adopted a maritime strategy for India, which was a sub-set of their global game plan to gain and maintain control of all major oceanic choke points worldwide, especially those leading to the IOR.

Our post-independence leadership, for various reasons, developed a utopian outlook, which led to a moralpolitik rather than realpolitik orientation in our policies and a focus on lofty concepts like ‘non-alignment’, ‘universal disarmament’ and ‘zones of peace’ which were rich in rhetoric but did nothing to further our national interests, gave us a moralising image and endeared us to no one.

The British have not forgotten that their economic rise and fall had been closely linked with their navy’s rise and fall. Shorn of all imperial or colonial trappings, their Defence Doctrine still speaks of maintaining the capabilities required “for independent action to meet inescapable national obligations and safeguard British interests worldwide”. Many times the size of this tiny island nation, we need to make a serious assessment of India’s own national interests and compulsions in the context of the IOR.

Due to a lack of vision, diffidence, and preoccupation with internal matters we have over the past 60 years embraced insularity and neglected our maritime security. Even if some kind of a ‘Monroe Doctrine’ was cultural anathema for us, we should at least have declared to others our strategic frontiers, and defined for ourselves a strategy to safeguard our interests within their bounds.

A Maritime Destiny?

India’s overarching interests are clearly defined by the need to guarantee a stable and tranquil external environment for two reasons. Firstly, our own people expect that favourable conditions will be maintained for speedy implementation of the nation’s lagging developmental process. Secondly, we have an obligation to the international community to ensure that trade and shipping traffic flows unhindered in the IOR sea-lanes.

With ample justification, our strategic frontiers can, therefore, be considered to extend from the Persian Gulf down the east coast of Africa, across to the Malacca Strait and south to the Southern Indian Ocean. In this context, as a peace loving status quo power and a law-abiding nation state with an impeccable record of observing international conventions, we must disregard those who are inclined to cry wolf about ‘hegemony’.

Admiral Mahan the renowned American strategist, had specified six conditions, as having a vital bearing on the sea power of a nation: (i) geographical position; (ii) physical conformation; (iii) extent of territory; (iv) number of population; (v) national character; and (vi) policy and nature of government institutions. Let us examine our country against the touchstone of Mahan’s conditionalities.

As far as the first three, essentially geographical conditions are concerned, no country – perhaps not even an island state – could be as favourably placed as peninsular India, for the development of maritime power. The next two conditions relate to the commercial enterprise and seagoing proclivities of the populace; and with 11 maritime states and island territories India probably has more seafaring people than the population of most European countries; but more of that later. It is the sixth and last condition, on which we will need to focus our attention rather sharply.

Having seen that the portents are appropriate and propitious for India to redeem her maritime destiny, we have to recognise that there are a number of distinct strands to the logic, which must underpin her endeavours in the maritime domain. It is necessary that we examine (the threats, and opportunities that constitute) these strands and then weave them all together into a cohesive cord.

States & Non-State Actors

For a threat assessment to be objective, it must recognise Lord Palmerston’s dictum about nations having neither permanent friends nor foes, but only permanent interests. An appraisal, divested of sentiment, will therefore show that India and China are going to be competitors for the same strategic space in Asia, and no matter how peaceful their rise or how intense their bilateral trade, a clash of interests cannot be ruled out. It is intriguing, in this context, to note that of her 15 neighbours, China has painstakingly settled land boundaries with all, but stoutly maintained her claim on Arunachal as well as occupation of Aksai Chin.

The sustained transfer of not just conventional arms but also advanced nuclear weapon technology as well as missiles, to Pakistan either directly by China or through the North Korean conduit has no precedent in international relations. In addition, China’s strategy of creating a ring of weapon client states right around India has placed us strategically on the backfoot. This situation is, however, of our own making, because over the years, China has provided sufficient indications of her plans for ‘containment’ of India, which we have disregarded.

It should come as no surprise to us if in the next few years PLA Navy ships and nuclear submarines are put regularly into harbours like Chittagong, Sittwe, Hambantota or Gwadar in our immediate neighbourhood. In pursuit of their grand design, the Chinese are planning or in the process of building container terminals in all these ports.

By herself, Pakistan may or may not have been able to do much vis-à-vis India, but as China’s surrogate she has received strategic support, and managed to achieve a great deal. And of course the Chinese puppet-masters have manipulated a willing Pakistan brilliantly to checkmate India at minimal cost to themselves.

Developments post 9/11 have garnered for Pakistan, moral and material support from the USA, and further buttressed the position of her military ruler. As a consequence of this implicit and explicit abetment, Pakistan continues undaunted, to be the nursery of religious fundamentalism and fountainhead of nuclear/missile proliferation.

Moving away from our immediate neighbourhood, we also need to factor into our calculus, the substantive presence of extra-regional powers in the IOR. Friendly they may be, but one should never forget that they are in these waters, not for altruistic motives but specifically to safeguard their perceived national interests; economic and strategic.

Should a conflict of interests ever arise, we must be in no doubt that coercive force will be brought to bear on us. Under such circumstances, we have to be prepared to act in our own self-interest. And we must let neither the Hyde Indo-US Nuclear Energy Act, or any similar document, nor the manifold ‘strategic partnerships’ that we seem to have crafted with other nations ever cloud our vision.

The seven tons of explosives, which created mayhem in Mumbai in 1993, arrived on our shores by sea. Today, the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle on either side of India are the source of financial sustenance for terrorist organisations like the al Qaeda and Jemmiah Islamiah, which use maritime routes for lucrative narcotic and arms trafficking. The LTTE, apart from its combatant Sea Tiger wing, also has a small merchant fleet, which conducts clandestine trade in Southeast Asia to replenish the organisation’s logistics. Add to this, the freewheeling piratical activity in locations like the Horn of Africa, the Bay of Bengal and the Malacca Straits, and one gets an idea of the vigil that is necessary to maintain order in the waters of the IOR.

Maritime Assets & Liabilities

The Indian Ocean sees about 100,000 ships transiting across its expanse annually. Two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments, one-third of its bulk cargo, and half the world’s container traffic pass through its waters.

The vibrant economies of China, Japan, and South Korea as well as the rest of Asia-Pacific rely on oil supplies, which emerge from the Strait of Hormuz and transit via the Malacca Strait into that region. Over 70% of our own oil comes by ship from the Persian Gulf. Any disruption in oil traffic could destabilise the price levels, resulting in a major upset for the world economy and a setback for our developmental process. As mentioned earlier, India’s fortunate geographical location astride Indian Ocean sea-lane gives her a key role in safeguarding their integrity and ensuring unhindered traffic.

India’s burgeoning economy, which ranks fourth in the world in PPP, is inextricably linked with sea borne trade. Our exports were about US$ 100 billion in 2005-06 and are slated to double over the next five years. Of our foreign trade, over 75% by value is carried by sea. India’s growing merchant fleet is the 15th largest globally and operates out of 12 major and 184 minor ports scattered along our 7500 km long coastline.

Another aspect of the ocean, which presents the prospect of wealth and prosperity, and yet contains the seeds of conflict, is undersea resources. The average depth of the Indian Ocean is less than 4 km, and that is the distance, which tantalisingly separates us from a veritable treasure-house of rare minerals, gas and hydrocarbons awaiting exploitation on the ocean bed. India has a mineral rich EEZ extending currently, over 2.2 million sq km (and likely to increase). In many instances, especially in deep basins of the Andaman Sea, technology is the only barrier that currently hinders exploitation of these resources at this moment.

In an effort to diversify resources and ensure stability in supplies, ONGC Videsh Ltd has acquired oil concessions abroad in Russia, Myanmar, Iran, North Africa, the CARs and South America. These represent investments of several hundred billion dollars in real estate, infrastructure and national resources, which may one day require us to reach out across the seas for their protection.

The frozen wastes of the Antarctic have been attracting expeditions of Indian geologists, meteorologists, oceanographers and others for over two decades now. Our scientific community has established a succession of manned scientific stations, which have yielded valuable data over the years. Their worthy endeavours have been fully supported by the navy, and should this unique continent have anything to yield in terms of mineral or organic wealth (even if 50 years hence) India’s stake would need to be protected.

Fish provides 25% of the world’s supply of animal protein. The control and management of fishing resources is a problematic area, with most seafaring nations deploying their fleets to more lucrative grounds in the EEZ of other countries. India’s EEZ contains an estimated potential yield of 40 million tons of fish. Of this, we harvest less than 10% and the rest are either poached by foreign trawlers (especially in our island territories), or die of old age.

Maritime Cooperation

During peace, which fortunately prevails most of the time, the main business of navies is (apart from preparing for war) to act as instruments of state policy in offering “a range of flexible and well calibrated signals” in support of diplomatic initiatives. The options available could include projecting maritime power for intervention, or influencing events on land, showing presence to either convey reassurance or threat, cooperating with allies in training exercises or simply rendering humanitarian relief when required.

Recent experience, including the relief rendered by us during the tsunami disaster and the Lebanon crisis has shown that our neighbours are inclined to look instinctively to us for assistance in times of distress. Even in the normal course, they feel that India is well placed to provide military training as well as material aid to them. It is only when we fail to respond to their repeated appeals that they turn to other countries in the region. Regrettably, this scenario continues to be repeated with depressing regularity.

As pointed out earlier, we have been neglectful of this aspect and need to make early amends. Our foreign cooperation objectives should essentially aim to curb or prevent powers inimical to India from intruding into our neighbourhood, and to help us shape the environment favourably for operations in peace and in war. The Indian Navy does have in place a well-oiled mechanism as well as long term plans for foreign cooperation, which needs the Government’s backing for implementation.

Safety of the Undersea Deterrent

India’s Nuclear Doctrine clearly envisages a deterrent in the form of a triad with land-based, aircraft borne, and submarine launched ‘legs’. Of these, we possess only the first two at the moment. Nuclear weapons are not meant for war fighting, and achieve deterrence by convincing the enemy of the futility of contemplating a nuclear first strike, because the instant response would be so horrific and devastating as to render the strike pointless.

In order to convince the enemy, your deterrent must have two essential attributes, which render it ‘credible’: it should have massive destructive power, and a major component of it must be survivable in the face of a sneak first strike. The only platform, which can claim to be ‘undetectable’ and hence invulnerable to pre-emptive attack, is the nuclear propelled, ballistic missile-armed submarine (known in USN parlance as the SSBN), which can remain concealed in the ocean depths for months on end.

The waters of the Indian Ocean provide a sanctuary where the SSBNs of various nuclear powers, including the Chinese, lurk unseen with their missile warheads programmed to strike designated targets; some of them, no doubt, our own cities. Location and tracking of these submarines may become necessary to keep the threshold of coercion at a reasonably high level. This is however, a daunting task, which requires tremendous anti-submarine warfare hardware and skills, which the IN should be acquiring.

However, to complete the triad of our own Strategic Forces we must have a small number of Indian SSBNs. Developmental work is reported to be underway, and when this platform becomes operationally available, we will need suitable areas in the distant reaches of the Indian Ocean from where it can be safely deployed to pose deterrence to our adversaries.

The Ingredients of a Maritime India

At Independence, agriculture generated seventy percent of India’s GDP, and it is a sign of the times that today its share has dwindled to less than 20% while services (including IT) contribute over 50%; and industry does the rest. The dramatic growth of the Indian economy is being spurred by its interdependence on, and integration with the global economy. This factor, coupled with our energy requirements, burgeoning trade, oceanic wealth; both mineral and organic, and many other vital interests require us to focus attention on our maritime environment.

A supporter of all UN organs, and an aspiring member of the Security Council, India’s own well-being and progress depend on promoting international stability, freedom and economic development. Since our economy is dependant on international trade, India’s vital interests are not going to be confined merely to the IOR. Just as we see foreign direct investment pouring into India, Indian investment overseas is also going to grow rapidly. Thus, along with an Indian diaspora of over 20 million, we are also going to have vital economic interests scattered worldwide.

The concept of maritime power encompasses far more than most people seem to imagine, and certainly goes much beyond the military aspects. Although it may be no longer fashionable to quote Admiral Sergei Gorshkov, in the opening pages of his book ‘Sea Power of the State’ he highlights his expectations from maritime power thus: “In the definition of sea power we include as the main components, ocean research and exploitation, the status of the merchant and fishing fleets, and their ability to meet the needs of the state, and also the presence of a navy to safeguard the interests of the state since antagonistic social systems exist in the world. Sea power emerges as one of the important factors for strengthening the economy, accelerating technical development and consolidating economic, political and cultural links with friendly people and countries.”

Thus, contrary to popular perception, a strong and capable navy is just one (albeit very important) component of a nation’s maritime strength. We need to focus on the ingredients required to make us shun our centuries old continental mindset and put us on the path of becoming a truly maritime nation. This brings us to the different ingredients that will go towards constituting a vibrant Maritime India 2020.

Ports and Merchant Fleet

Considering that 97% of our international trade by volume, is carried by sea, the Maritime Sector, in which the Ministry of Shipping and Transport includes port operations, the mercantile fleet and our shipbuilding industry, has been sadly neglected since Independence. A study commissioned by the Confederation of Indian Industry as recently as 2006, to examine the revival of this sector, points out that with our sea borne trade rising at a rapid rate, there is urgent need to focus inter alia on the following areas:

• Ports

• Global Maritime Security Environment

• Hinterland Connectivity

• Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Industry

• Human Resource Development

Compared to the efficient cargo handling and speedy ship turnaround times available in most of Asia-Pacific, our ports are slothful and grossly inadequate to meet the current cargo throughput requirements. Considerable planning and investment would be needed to bring our ports up to international standards. In this context, the exacting requirements of security protocols like the ISPS Code would also need to be kept in mind. Moreover, unless hinterland connectivity in terms of efficient railroad and fast highway connections are available, investment in ports may be rendered infructuous.

India’s merchant fleet comprises of 760 ships of 8.6 million tones GRT, and the average age of its vessels is about 17 years. It can carry less than half of the country’s foreign trade, and India’s shipping capacity in the words of Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, is “…woefully inadequate, and by any reckoning out of synch with its overwhelming dependence on seaborne trade.” Consequently we are continuously dependant on foreign carriers and losing earnings to them. The fleet is also qualitatively mismatched to market needs; lacking container vessels, as well as product and specialised carriers. All these shortcomings constitute strategic handicaps and need to be redressed.


Of all the Indian flagged vessels, only about 10 percent have been built in Indian shipyards because of higher costs, lengthy delivery times and indifferent quality. There is deep irony in this statistic, because we have an ancient shipbuilding heritage. In Lothal (Gujarat), archeologists have excavated, possibly the world’s oldest dry-dock going back to 2500 BCE, and anchored in Hartepool harbour is the 38-gun frigate HMS Trincomalee built of stout Malabar teak by the Wadia master-shipbuilders of Bombay way back in 1817. Today the Indian shipbuilding industry is a pale shadow of the magnificent Wadia tradition.

India is at the centre of a spectacular IT boom and many industrial sectors in the country are at the cutting edge of technology or of production engineering, but not shipbuilding. It is an index of our shortsightedness that while China, South Korea and Japan have marshaled their strengths to produce quality ships at competitive prices in large numbers, India with all her advantages, has completely neglected the shipbuilding industry. India may be world No.1 in low-tech ship breaking, but a modern supertanker needing repairs in our waters may well have to go to Dubai for dry-docking.

Of the 28 established shipyards in the country, only seven public sector and two private yards have reasonable building capacity. While the public sector shipyards lack the technology, as well as finances, work ethic and innovative spirit necessary to be competitive, the private shipyards await a ‘level playing field’ to make their mark. This depressing scenario may persist unless the GoI takes a long-term view and implements some hard decisions in this strategic sector, bearing in mind that a boom in shipbuilding will spawn a multitude of ancillary industries too.

A Central Maritime Agency

The sixth issue figuring in Mahan’s agenda referred to earlier, spoke of ‘government institutions’. Today there is no single government agency, which has either the span of responsibility or the authority to act as the focal point for India’s maritime policies and interests. Nor one, which has the physical means to exercise control over the myriad activities that take place on and under the oceans. As many as sixteen different ministries, departments or organisations, (including the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard), are involved in ocean-related matters, and much of the time the left hand does not know what the right is doing. The result is; confusion, crossed wires and compromised national security.

Let me provide a few examples here. Merchant ships blatantly pollute our waters with impunity, unsafe ships ply in our waters and often run aground or sink outside harbours, licenses to fish in Indian waters are given for foreign trawlers who fudge papers and have Chinese or Pakistani crews, we lack radar chains to monitor shipping traffic, and the crowning irony; while hundreds of retired Indian naval personnel are debarred from crewing our merchant ships, we look abroad to hire foreigners for this purpose.

A comprehensive proposal for the constitution of a multi-disciplinary ‘Maritime Commission’ was mooted a few years ago by Naval Headquarters, but ran into rough weather and finally foundered on the rocks of inter-Ministerial rivalry and insecurity. A nation such as ours urgently needs to evolve an overarching Maritime Policy and create a central agency to monitor its implementation.

Varuna’s Trident

Coming finally to the Indian Navy, which is the instrument for safeguarding our maritime security perimeter, for creating a position of influence in the region where India’s national interests lie, and in extremis for defeating the nation’s enemies at sea. Of all the entities that have found mention so far, it is the IN, which has prepared itself best to be the keystone of the nation’s maritime edifice in 2020.

Therefore, instead of embarking on a discussion of diverse issues, I will confine myself to informing the reader of the navy’s outline plan of action for this period. The navy considers that the resurgence of our maritime power is a sine qua non of India’s rise as an economic giant. While undertaking the planning process, the navy’s leadership has taken care to create not just the intellectual underpinning necessary for it, but also to provide, for decision-makers, a rationale for its projected growth path.

The Indian Maritime Doctrine published in 2004, essentially set out the ‘rules of the game’ for deployment of maritime assets for attaining national objectives. In 2005, the navy decided to undertake an exercise to quantify the ‘capabilities’ (for example air defence, amphibious, anti-submarine, maritime patrol etc) that would be needed to discharge all the roles envisaged for maritime forces in the doctrine. Given the performance of modern ships, aircraft & submarines, these capability requirements were then translated into numbers of platforms that would be necessary.

A sensitivity analysis was undertaken with the numbers that emerged, against budgetary variables up to the end of the 13th Plan (2022). Having essentially met all bottom lines relating to threat perceptions, fiscal resources, and shipbuilding capacity, this force planning exercise was converted into a Maritime Capabilities Perspective Plan which now forms the navy’s force planning blueprint till the end of the next decade. This capability-based approach has served to make tomorrow’s navy leaner, while packing far more punch and keeping the ‘capital to revenue’ ratio at a very healthy level; which means that there is much more money available for modernisation.

In late 2006 a Maritime Strategy was promulgated by the IN. This document has served to fill the residual philosophical hiatus, and to provide tangible guidelines, within the specific geo-strategic environment anticipated in the next decade, for the acquisition, build up and employment of maritime assets in peace and in war.

The navy of 2020 will essentially be a three dimensional force (“Varuna’s Trident”) built around the core of two aircraft carrier task forces and closely networked through a dedicated communications satellite. Indigenously built destroyers and frigates will be available in adequate numbers to provide escorts for the carriers as well as for independent surface action and anti-submarine hunter-killer groups. All escorts will have modern sensors and long-range weapons of offence and defence, and will carry multi-role helicopters.

While replenishment ships will ensure long legs for the combatants, we will also have enough friendly refueling ports in the IOR (and South China Sea) to allow extended operational reach. Long-range anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol aircraft of a new generation would provide support to our forces in the distant reaches of the oceans.

We would have in service by then, six indigenously built submarines of the Scorpene class, and perhaps another 3-4 boats of an advanced indigenous design, all equipped with missiles and air independent propulsion. The decline in submarine force levels should have been arrested and reversed.

It is now an article of faith with the IN that all operations by maritime forces at sea will be designed to produce a direct or indirect impact on the land battle. Future operations will invariably demand that information dominance be the opening gambit. Sea control, if required, could then be established as a prelude to maritime manoeuver and littoral warfare. In such a scenario, land attack, naval air, amphibious, and Special Forces capabilities will require due emphasis, which is being provided by the naval planners.

Many of these concepts are new, and require radical reorientation of mindsets as well as operating procedures. The navy has, therefore, triggered a process of ‘Transformation’ to deal with orderly the management of change.

The navy’s focused thrust would have ensured by 2020 that much technology and many products of indigenous or collaborative origin are at sea. In the area of propulsion, we would have advanced diesels and gas turbines, as well as electric drives on our warships. It is entirely possible that the endeavours of our scientists would by this time have succeeded in putting indigenous nuclear propulsion at sea, either on a submarine or an aircraft carrier.


It may be mentioned with utmost emphasis, that of all the ingredients, which go into the making of a great maritime nation, none is more important or significant than the human mind. Unless determined efforts are made to create a consciousness of our ancient maritime heritage, and an affinity for the seas in the minds of young Indians, all efforts at creating a Maritime India could come to naught.

There will be skeptics who point to our populous landlocked states. To them I would say that while the Indian Navy today does have its share of sailors from the ‘maritime states’, the bulk of our Service consists of land bound people from Bihar, UP, Rajasthan (two former Chiefs), Haryana, Himachal and Punjab; and they all make excellent sailors. So much for Mahan’s predictions!

In an epic and hazardous voyage, the navy’s sail training ship INS Tarangini circumnavigated the globe in 2004. The Captain describes with delight, the incredulity of thousands of visitors who boarded the ship in various ports across the world at the sight of Indians (!) sailing around the world. By next year, we hope that a courageous IN officer will set another seafaring benchmark for his countrymen by undertaking a solo sailing voyage around the world.

We must also note the example of continental Russia where Peter the Great almost single-handedly created not just a maritime tradition but also a magnificent navy, which recently celebrated its 300th anniversary. So if a maritime tradition can be created, it can certainly be revived.

There is a great deal that the Government can and must do in this context; and we have dwelt on it at length. However, there are a handful of organisations and individuals of dedication and conviction working today, to kindle the spark which will revive India’s glorious maritime tradition amongst the populace, and especially her youth. Noteworthy amongst these are the Sea Cadet Corps in Mumbai, the National Maritime Foundation in Delhi and the Indian Maritime Foundation in Pune. They are all deserving of our goodwill and support in this worthy cause.

Admiral Arun Prakash, former Chief of Indian Navy and author of From the Crow’s Nest.

INA and Bose

Comment: Well, it was a pleasing experience to find Bose mentioned in a properly compiled research article published in a UK-based journal! Kudos to the author and the editor of course....

Peter Heehs looks at the Indian army who threw in their lot against the Raj and with the Japanese in the Second World War.

The fall of Singapore was one of the greatest disasters ever suffered by the British armed forces. Left unprotected by the destruction of the American fleet in Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the warships Prince of Wales and Repulse, the garrison waited helplessly as the Japanese army swept down the Malay peninsula. The siege began on February 8th, 1942, and was over a week later. 85,000 men, what was left of the British, British-Indian, and Australian forces, surrendered to the invader.

Not all the defeated soldiers had to spend the next three years in Japanese prison camps. Of the 60,000 Indians that surrendered, 25,000 chose to go over to the enemy. They became the core of the Indian National Army (INA), which two years later took part in the Japanese invasion of India. In that campaign INA soldiers faced their own. countrymen, members of General William Slim's mostly Indian 14th Army, which crushed them and the Japanese army they served, greatly hastening the end of the war. In May 1945 Rangoon was retaken by an lndian spanision; the same month the ragtag remains of the INA laid down their arms.

Soldiers are sworn to serve their country in peace and war. But to what country did the Indians who surrendered in Singapore owe their loyalty? To Imperial Britain, or to an India that was engaged in a struggle for independence? After the war, arrested members of the Indian National Army were classed as 'white', 'black', or 'grey' according to the perceived innocence or culpability of their motives. Most were considered grey. However much wartime publicists, and even some historians, view complex issues in monochromatic terms, little in warfare is really black-and-white.

Indian soldiers had helped Britain conquer India and Indian soldiers helped them retain it. During the First World War nearly a million Indian troops fought for the Empire in Europe and Mesopotamia. Up to this time all higher officers of the Indian army were British; after the war belated efforts were made to 'Indianise' the officer corps. This was in line with Britain's recently announced aim of progressively conceding self-government to India – a grudging response to a nationalist movement that, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, was beginning to mobilise the masses.

During the 1930s the Indian war budget was reduced and the army's strength fell to less than 200,000 men. Few thought that a European conflict might have repercussions in India. When Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939, the viceroy announced that India also was at war. Provincial governments resigned in protest, hut thousands of young Indians flooded to the recruiting stations. Most were turned away. Military experts did not feel that India and Burma, which until 193 7 formed part of the Indian empire, were in danger. As late as August 1941 the Chiefs of Staff Committee considered 'the invasion of Burmese territory' a 'distant threat'. When the viceroy asked whether the Japanese, who had occupied French bases in Indochina, might attack Burma through neutral Thailand, he was told that with the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, they would never try it.

Bose lecturing at Tokyo

On December 11th, 1941, three days after the start of the Malayan campaign, the Japanese 15th Army moved across Thailand into Burma. Advancing against ineffective opposition, they reached Rangoon by March. Once Burma's capital and main port had fallen, the loss of the rest of the country was a foregone conclusion. Sweeping north, practically annihilating the Chinese forces defending Toungoo, the imperial army reached Lashio, the southern terminus of the Burma Road. Achieving their main objective in Burma by closing the only supply route to Chungking, the Japanese pursued the Chinese across the border into Yunnan, and forced Indian and British troops to withdraw, demoralised and in disarray, into Assam in north-east India. In just five months a relatively small Japanese army had conquered most of South-East Asia.

After the start of the monsoon the Japanese established a firm defensive line along the Chindwin River, not far from the Indian border. Apart from a few air raids on Calcutta and other ports, they made no move against India. But the north-eastern part of the country was vulnerable to attack, and the British soon turned this region, and much of the rest of India as well, into a huge military camp. More than 200 airfields were built, some of which became points of origin for supply flights to China across 'the hump' of the Himalayas. Voluntary en1istment to the Indian Army was stepped up, and by the end of the war it numbered 2 million combatant and a half-million non-combatant troops – the largest volunteer army in the history of the world.

The loss of Malaya and Burma was due largely to British unpreparedness; the Japanese owed much of their success to detailed planning. Part of their strategy was to mobilise anti-British elements in Malaya, Burma and India. Since before the First World War, Indian nationalists had tried to enlist the aid of foreign powers in their struggle. Much hope was placed in Japan, which after its defeat of Russia in 1905 had appeared to many to be the torch- bearer of renascent Asia. A number of activists had taken refuge in various countries of Asia, Europe and North America, establishing organisations such as the Indian Independence League (IIL), with branches in Tokyo, Bangkok and other capitals.

In October 1941 Imperial General Head-quarters sent Major Fujiwara Iwaichi to Bangkok to make contact with Indians, Malays and Chinese who might help in the Japanese invasion of Malaya. Fujiwara got in touch with members of the Bangkok IIL, signing an agreement of mutual assistance with one of them, a Sikh named Pritam Singh. During the invasion Fujiwara and Pritam Singh approached captured Indians and offered them freedom if they went over to the Japanese side. Their biggest catch was Mohan Singh, a colonel in the 1/14 Punjab Regiment. Resentful of discrimination in the Indian army, and influenced by nationalist ideas, Singh agreed to work with Fujiwara to win over Indian prisoners of war. Two days after the fall of Singapore, the two men addressed a huge assembly of Indians in a city park. Fujiwara told them:

The independence of India is essential for the independence of Asia and the peace of the world.... Japan is willing to give all-out aid and assistance to Indians in East Asia to achieve their aspirations.

Singh announced that he was forming, with Japanese help, the Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army, and asked for volunteers. The initial reaction to his proposal was mixed, but before long thousands of Indian soldiers and civilians had agreed to join the INA.

Why did more than a third of the captured Indian troops agree to go over to the enemy? Indian soldiers traditionally were loyal even in the face of racial discrimination (which, however, many found increasingly upsetting), and relatively untouched by the national movement. Philip Mason, wartime secretary to the Indian war department, placed the 25,000 defectors in four classes 'in proportions about which one can hardly be precise'. He felt that only a small number were ardent nationalists; another small number were 'frankly opportunist'; a few honestly planned to escape and return to their own lines; but the majority 'were puzzled, misinformed, misled, and on the whole believed that the course they took was the most honourable open to them'. Mason spoke of one battalion that was approached by a former officer:

He told them that the war was over and that they had the choice between digging latrines for the Japanese and once more becoming soldiers – but this time in the service of an independent India. They chose to be soldiers.

Despite the effectiveness of such blandishments, most of the captured soldiers stood firm, and paid the price. Some officers who refused to co-operate with the Japanese were tortured or otherwise mistreated, for example by being confined in underground cages or latrines. About one-fifth of the 35,000 Indian troops who remained loyal did not survive to the end of the war.

During 1942 the Indian National Army and the Indian Independence League had a brief flowering. Meetings of the IIL were held in Tokyo in March and Bangkok in June. These were presided over by Rashbehari Bose, a Bengali revolutionary who had fled to Japan after masterminding a bomb-attack on the viceroy Lord Hardinge in 1915. Bose was able to remain in the country with help from friends in the Black Dragon Society, a group opposing the British presence in India as part of' its pan-Asiatic ideology. The events of 1941-42 gave the almost forgotten Bose and the IIL an importance they had never before enjoyed.

At Bangkok the IlL resolved to take steps to bring about 'the complete independence of India free from any foreign control'; but before much could be done Mohan Singh began to quarrel both with Rashbehari Bose and with the Japanese. The Punjabi soldier grew suspicious about Japan's intentions in India, and came to think that Bose was a puppet of Tokyo. He wanted the INA to be a fighting force and was dismayed when he learned that the Japanese planned to use it only for preserving law and order in occupied territories. In December Singh decided to disband the INA. Later the same month he was placed under arrest.

If the Japanese were to profit from the INA and the League, they needed someone other than Mohan Singh or the ageing Rashbehari Bose to lead them. For more than a year they I had had their eye on a man who was ideally suited for the job, and who wanted to have it as much as they wanted to give it to him. But this man, Subhas Chandra Bose (no relation to Rashbehari), was in Germany. During the 1930s Subhas Bose had been one of the most important leaders of the Indian National Congress, his influence exceeded only by Gandhi's and perhaps Nehru's. Elected president of the party in 1938, he had challenged Gandhi's candidate the next year and won an unprecedented second term. The members of the Congress Working Commit- tee refused to co-operate with him, however, and he was forced to resign. As leader of the left-wing Forward Bloc, Bose took a strong anti-government stance, and in July 1940 he was jailed. Escaping from house-arrest in January 1941, he journeyed to Berlin by way of Kabul and Moscow.

Between 1933 and 1936 Bose had lived in Europe, spending much of his time in Italy and Germany. These countries, along with Spain and Russia, provided him with models for the sort of government he wanted for India: not 'democracy in the mid-Victorian sense of the term', but 'government by a strong party bound together by military discipline'. When he returned to Berlin in 1941 he found such a system in full flower, and did not altogether like what he saw. Nevertheless he met Nazi leaders, including eventually Hitler, and asked for German support. He obtained little but vague promises. A trip to Rome brought similar results. Like the Germans, the Italians did not know what to make of Bose. 'The value of this upstart is not clear,' wrote Foreign Minister Count Ciano after a brief meeting.

Bose was thrilled by the Japanese victories in South-East Asia, and realised at once that he could do more to further his aims there than in Europe. The Japanese made no secret of the fact that they would be glad to have him. After consulting with Rashbehari Bose, who said he would step down in Subhas Bose's favour, they arranged with the Berlin government to have Bose transferred to the East. On February 8th, 1943, he left Kiel on board a German U-boat. Three months later he was transferred to a Japanese submarine, which took him to an island off Sumatra. From here he flew to Tokyo, arriving on May 16th. A month later he was received by the Japanese Premier Tojo Hideki. The two men hit it off at once. On June 16th, Hose was invited to attend a session of the Diet, where Tojo announced: 'We firmly resolve that Japan will do everything possible to help Indian independence'.

Tojo had made similar statements even before the fall of Singapore. Early in 1942 he had invited India to 'rid herself of the ruthless despotism of Britain and participate in the construction of the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere'. Calling on the Indian people not to miss this opportunity for political and economic rebirth, he assured them that Japan entertained 'not the slightest thought of antagonising them*. Later, at a public meeting with Bose in attendance, Tojo reaffirmed that Japan had no territorial, military or economic ambitions in India.

Bose could not but be happy that Tojo had given him immediately what Hitler had always refused to consider: a clear statement of support and promise of non-interference. In his speeches he gratefully acknowledged Japan's assistance, but was independent enough to stress that he had accepted it to fulfil his own aims. Addressing his former friends in America, he said:

Japan is offering us help and we have reason to trust her sincerity. That is why we have plunged into the struggle alongside of her. It is not Japan that we are helping by waging war on you and our mortal enemy – England. We are helping ourselves – we are helping Asia.

It is hard to say how uncritically Bose took Tojo's assurances that Japan had no military ambitions in India. He was not unaware that the puppet governments of Manchukuo and other places occupied by Japan did little to check Japanese oppression of local populations. But he was confident in his own strength. He insisted that the Japanese recognise him as the leader of the Provisional Government of Free India and grant him the rights and privileges of a head of state. The Japanese seemed to respect him for this.

In July Bose arrived in Singapore, where he was given an enthusiastic welcome by the Indian community. He told them that he was:

... going to organise a fighting force which will be powerful enough to attack the British Army in India. When we do so a revolution will break out not only among the civil population at home, but also among the Indian Army which is now standing under the British flag.

The Indian National Army was reborn. Over the next year, while three spanisions were organised and trained, Bose travelled throughout South-East Asia, delivering speeches and meeting heads of state on equal terms. Aides let it be known that he wanted to be called 'Netaji' (Respected Leader). When someone pointed out the resemblance between this title and that of Germany's dictator, his secretary answered: 'The role of India's Fuhrer is just what Subhas Chandra Bose will fill'.

Japanese leaders had revealed to Bose that they planned to mount an offensive in 1944. He assumed this would be an invasion of India, leading to a triumphal march on Delhi by the INA. The actual aims of the Japanese were more modest. They assumed the Allies were planning to move into Burma and felt that the best defence would be to attack first. The operations of General Wingate's 'Chindits' behind their lines had demonstrated how vulnerable their position was. By moving into north-east India they would disrupt Allied communications and create panic. A big victory would boost sagging morale at home; its propaganda value would be enhanced by their presenting themselves as a liberation army.

The Allies did intend to move east into Burma in l944, but planning was complicated by the differing aims of the American and British commands, The former wanted to reopen the Burma Road, the latter to retake Rangoon and Singapore. The Japanese decided the issue by moving first. In December 1945 they attacked Indian Army positions in the Arakan, the coastal region south of the present Bangladesh. By threatening the port of Chittagong, they hoped to draw reserves away from lmphal in Assam, where their main thrust would be directed.

Passing a spanision through the Arakan jungle, the
Japanese managed to get around the flank of the 7th Indian Division. In previous encounters, British-1ndian forces had with- drawn when outflanked, allowing the enemy to win both territory and supplies. This time, however, a new strategy had been agreed upon. Besieged troops would stand firm in strongholds and wait for air supply and reinforcements. The 7th Division did just this, and by February the Allies were on the offensive, encircling the Japanese and winning their first victory in Burma.

To hold on in the Arakan, it had been necessary for General Slim to commit his reserves. Early in March, while his forces were spread out, the Japanese crossed the Chindwin and attacked Imphal. Ordering the withdrawal of the 17th and 20th Indian Divisions, Slim called for the 5th Indian Division to be brought from the Arakan by the American air- force. The key to the situation was Kohima, a town perched on a 5,000-foot ridge. Here about 3,000 British, Indian and Nepalese soldiers were besieged by an entire Japanese spanision. Supplied by air, they held out for four months, preventing the Japanese from closing the ring on Imphal and from taking the unprotected railhead at Dimapur. Meanwhile the 17th, 20th and 23rd Indian Divisions had halted the Japanese advance. On June 22nd, 1944, relieving British and Indian forces met north of the town and the siege was broken. Seizing the initiative, Slim's 14th Army chased the Japanese back into Burma and, as the monsoon set it, got ready to cross the Chindwin the next year. Imphal was one of the greatest Allied victories of the war, a turning point as significant in Asia as EI Alamein and Stalingrad had been in Africa and Europe. 50,000 Japanese were killed and an equal number wounded. Indian and British casualties totalled 17,587.

Many British and American histories of the war do not mention the INA, or else relegate it to a footnote. This is not surprising. Only 8,000 INA soldiers were sent to the front, against 230,000 Japanese. And these 8,000 saw relatively little action. Some INA men were attached to each of the three main Japanese spanisions, serving as guides, interpreters and spies; but the three small 1NA spanisions were: kept mostly in the rear. Regimental commander Shah Nawaz Kbian wrote to Bose in April 1944:

When this regiment was raised, I, as well as every single soldier of this regiment, were of the conviction that we shall form the spearhead of the advance into India.... When we actually arrived at the front line, the type of duty that was given to us was: (a) road-making or preparing, (b) repairing bridges, (c) extinguishing jungle fires, (d) driving bullock carts carrying rations for Japanese troops.

Khan later was ordered to take his men to Kohima, and they marched through the jungle for days, only to find, after a symbolic flag-raising on Indian soil, that the battle was already lost. They were forced to retreat with the Japanese in conditions of terrible privation.

Bose's dream that the men of the Indian Army would join the INA as soon as his men shouted some slogans was never fulfilled. INA propaganda did contribute to the surrender of three or four small bodies of Indian soldiers, and in one case this gave the Japanese momentary advantage in battle. But as a rule the Indian Army treated the INA with special contempt. Many Indian and Gurkha soldiers were unwilling to let the turncoats surrender, and Slim was forced to issue orders 'to give them a kinder welcome'.

During the monsoon of 1944 the Japanese and INA regrouped while the Allies prepared for an all-out offensive the following year. In December the Indian Army swept through the Arakan, and began moving eastwards from the Chindwin towards the Irrawaddy. During February 1945 the mile-wide river was crossed in several places. At Pagan the initial attempt failed due to enemy fire. Then soldiers of the 7th Division saw a boat flying a white flag moving towards them. It carried two INA men, who said that the Japanese had withdrawn, and that they wanted to surrender. The 7th soon was safely across the river. This incident may be taken as representative of the contributions of the Indian army and the INA in the Burma campaign. Indian spanisions of the 14th Army were always in the forefront, helping to take Mandalay, to re-open the Burma Road, to push south towards Rangoon. INA soldiers surrendered and deserted in droves, to such a degree that Bose issued orders that any INA officer or soldier who suspected another of treason could arrest and if necessary shoot him.

Bose had little knowledge of what was going on at the front line until late in the campaign, when he moved to a forward position. He wished to die fighting; but as Indian and British forces approached, his men plead- ed with him to withdraw. He agreed, and during his retreat showed the finer side of his character, refusing to cross rivers until INA men and women had gone before him. But now the end was near. On May 1st Indian paratroopers were dropped near the port of Rangoon. The next day the 6th Indian Division captured the city. Mopping up operations continued through the next few months, but the surrender of Shah Nawaz Khan's second spanision on May 13th marked the end of the military career of the Indian National Army.

Ironically, the INA's real contribution to the Indian freedom movement had just begun. As the British-Indian Army liberated South-East Asia, it gathered up 25,000 INA personnel, all of whom were sent to India for trial. Technically each captured soldier could have been shot for mutiny and desertion, but capital punishment on such a scale was unthinkable. The government decided to spanide the men into three groups. Some 4,000 whose plea that they intended to escape from the Japanese seemed plausible, were considered 'white' and restored to their former privileges. The 14,000 'greys' were adjudged to have been misled, and were released. But 6,000, the ringleaders and those who had committed atrocities, were considered 'black' and held for trial. Three officers whose crimes seemed clear were selected as the first to appear before the courts martial.

The trial was held in the Red Fort in Old Delhi, the very place Bose had said would be the site of the INA's victory parade. Many in India were sympathetic to the 'freedom fighters' and both Congress and the Muslim League chose to come out in their favour. The case was not as open-and-shut as the prosecution had hoped, and as the trial progressed there were demonstrations, often violent, in many parts of the country. The three defendants were found guilty and cashiered but not otherwise punished. Defending this leniency, India's commander-in-chief, General Claude Auchinleck, wrote:

It is quite wrong to adopt the attitude that because these men had taken service in a British-controlled Indian army that, therefore, their loyalties must be the same as British soldiers.

Public demonstrations in favour of the INA continued. Discontent spread even to the ratings of the Royal Indian Navy, who mutinied in February 1946. The INA, ineffective on the battlefield, had become what Bose always had wished, an inspiring force in India's struggle for freedom. As it became clear that India soon would be granted independence, the government decided not to hold further trials.

Independent India gives little thought to the men of the wartime Indian Army, who fought against Italians, Germans and Japanese in Africa, Europe and Asia, and without whom, as Auchinleck said, 'the war could not have been won'. On the other hand India remembers the soldiers of the Indian National Army as heroes and martyrs in the independence movement, and has transformed the life of Subhas Chandra Bose into legend. Killed in a plane crash on August 17th, 1945, Bose was believed by millions to be alive well into the 1970s. For a time sightings of him were almost as common as sightings of Elvis are today. In schoolbooks and magazine articles his many faults are glossed over and his military genius celebrated – this in spite of the fact that even a friend like Fujiwara had to admit that 'the standard of his operational tactics was, it must be said with regret, low'. His political acumen is more difficult to evaluate. He managed to gain the respect of many highly placed men in Tokyo, but was never taken seriously by the Japanese field commanders he had to work with. According to M. Koirang Singh, later Chief Minister of the Indian state of Manipur the Japanese army did not plan to honour Tojo's promise that Bose would assume administrative control over parts of India occupied after the fall of Imphal and 'certainly intended to control India as effectively as they controlled Burma'. Bose knew from first-hand observation in Rangoon what this would be like. He told sceptics that the British had never been able to take advantage of him and the Japanese would not succeed if they tried. With his great confidence in himself and in the Indian people, he seems to have felt that he could handle the Japanese once he was in his own country as its designated leader. This may not have been a realistic attitude, but it could hardly be called cowardly.

Western writers are inclined to dismiss Bose as a Fascist collaborator. He certainly consorted with dangerous Fascists and made statements that today read very badly, for example that the Azad Hind Dal (Free India Party) would 'be organised on the lines of the SS Party in Germany, or the Communist Party in Russia'. But Bose was not the only Oxbridge-educated intellectual to be swayed by Fascism or Communism during the 1930s (though his dream of a 'synthesis of National Socialism and Communism' may have been unique). His arrogance, intolerance of opposition, and love of militarism seem part and parcel of the Fascist mind-set, but his dynamism, inspiring leadership, and patriotism have also to be taken into account. It is probably best to agree with those who hold that 'Netaji' was basically a nationalist, even if misled.



by Claude Arpi

According to The Times of India, Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said the Henderson-Brooks report revealed the incompetence of the Indian military top brass.

It is not fair of the Chief information Commissioner to speak of the incompetence of the Indian military top brass, without mentioning the names of the politicians who have selected the ‘top brass’. As often, it is the Army which suffered and it is the Army which is been blamed. These remarks were entirely unnecessary.

The Commission refused to declassify the Henderson Brooks on the ground that it could endanger national security. The Bench (comprising Chief information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Information Commissioner ML Sharma) said: “We have examined the report specifically in terms of its bearing on present national security. There is no doubt that the issue of the India- China border particularly along the North-east parts of India is still a live issue with ongoing negotiations between the two countries on this matter.”

Well, it is possible that some portions of the Report mention the five rounds of border talks between India and China in 1960 or other information related to the border (perhaps the situation in the Aksai Chin), but as it is admitted but the Army Headquarters the Report is only an internal review which did not engage the Army (or the Ministry of External Affairs). Col. Raj Shukla who represented the Army during the hearings said: “The report prepared by Lt. Gen. Henderson Brooks and Brig. Prem Bhagat was a part of internal review conducted on the orders of the then Chief of Army Staff Gen. Choudhary. Reports of internal review are not even submitted to Govt. let alone placed in the public domain. Disclosure of this information will amount to disclosure of the army’s operational strategy in the North-East and the discussion on deployments has a direct bearing on the question of the demarcation of the Line of Actual Control between India and China, a live issue under examination between the two countries at present.”

The logical thing that the CIC should have done was to ask for the declassification of the Report and request the Army (or the NSA) to sanitize the portions which could jeopardize the current negotiations with China.

The CIC was probably not aware that the Indian Defence Minister had, in reply to a question, announced in the Parliament on April 1, 1963 that an inquiry into the reverses in NEFA had been instituted. The Minister affirmed that a “thorough investigation had been ordered to find out what went wrong with (i) our training; (ii) our equipment; (iii) our system of command; (iv) the physical fitness of our troops and (v) the capacity of our Commanders at all levels to influence the men under them”.

The purpose of the inquiry was to not witch-hunting, he said, but to “derive military lessons” and to “bring out clearly what were the mistakes or deficiencies in the past, so as to ensure that in future the mistakes are not repeated and such deficiencies are quickly made up”. The Inquiry Committee was headed Lt.-Gen. T.B. Henderson-Brooks with Major-General P.S. Bhagat as a member, he announced.


17 August, 2010

Petraues, Iraq and the American dilemma

by George Friedman
(figure inserted by diplostratics)

It is August 2010, which is the month when the last U.S. combat troops are scheduled to leave Iraq. It is therefore time to take stock of the situation in Iraq, which has changed places with Afghanistan as the forgotten war. This is all the more important since 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq, and while they may not be considered combat troops, a great deal of combat power remains embedded with them. So we are far from the end of the war in Iraq. The question is whether the departure of the last combat units is a significant milestone and, if it is, what it signifies.

The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 with three goals: The first was the destruction of the Iraqi army, the second was the destruction of the Baathist regime and the third was the replacement of that regime with a stable, pro-American government in Baghdad. The first two goals were achieved within weeks. Seven years later, however, Iraq still does not yet have a stable government, let alone a pro-American government. The lack of that government is what puts the current strategy in jeopardy.

The fundamental flaw of the invasion of Iraq was not in its execution but in the political expectations that were put in place. As the Americans knew, the Shiite community was anti-Baathist but heavily influenced by Iranian intelligence. The decision to destroy the Baathists put the Sunnis, who were the backbone of Saddam’s regime, in a desperate position. Facing a hostile American army and an equally hostile Shiite community backed by Iran, the Sunnis faced disaster. Taking support from where they could get it — from the foreign jihadists that were entering Iraq — they launched an insurgency against both the Americans and the Shia.

The Sunnis simply had nothing to lose. In their view, they faced permanent subjugation at best and annihilation at worst. The United States had the option of creating a Shiite-based government but realized that this government would ultimately be under Iranian control. The political miscalculation placed the United States simultaneously into a war with the Sunnis and a near-war situation with many of the Shia, while the Shia and Sunnis waged a civil war among themselves and the Sunnis occasionally fought the Kurds as well. From late 2003 until 2007, the United States was not so much in a state of war in Iraq as it was in a state of chaos.

The new strategy of Gen. David Petraeus emerged from the realization that the United States could not pacify Iraq and be at war with everyone. After a 2006 defeat in the midterm elections, it was expected that U.S. President George W. Bush would order the withdrawal of forces from Iraq. Instead, he announced the surge. The surge was really not much of a surge, but it created psychological surprise — not only were the Americans not leaving, but more were on the way. Anyone who was calculating a position based on the assumption of a U.S. withdrawal had to recalculate.

The Americans understood that the key was reversing the position of the Sunni insurgents. So long as they remained at war with the Americans and Shia, there was no possibility of controlling the situation. Moreover, only the Sunnis could cut the legs out from under the foreign jihadists operating in the Sunni community. These jihadists were challenging the traditional leadership of the Sunni community, so turning this community against the jihadists was not difficult. The Sunnis also were terrified that the United States would withdraw, leaving them at the mercy of the Shia. These considerations, along with substantial sums of money given to Sunni tribal elders, caused the Sunnis to do an about-face. This put the Shia on the defensive, since the Sunni alignment with the Americans enabled the Americans to strike at the Shiite militias.

Petraeus stabilized the situation, but he did not win the war. The war could only be considered won when there was a stable government in Baghdad that actually had the ability to govern Iraq. A government could be formed with people sitting in meetings and talking, but that did not mean that their decisions would have any significance. For that there had to be an Iraqi army to enforce the will of the government and protect the country from its neighbors, particularly Iran (from the American point of view). There also had to be a police force to enforce whatever laws might be made. And from the American perspective, this government did not have to be pro-American (that had long ago disappeared as a viable goal), but it could not be dominated by Iran.

Iraq is not ready to deal with the enforcement of the will of the government because it has no government. Once it has a government, it will be a long time before its military and police forces will be able to enforce its will throughout the country. And it will be much longer before it can block Iranian power by itself. As it stands now, there is no government, so the rest doesn’t much matter.

The geopolitical problem the Americans face is that, with the United States gone, Iran would be the most powerful conventional power in the Persian Gulf. The historical balance of power had been between Iraq and Iran. The American invasion destroyed the Iraqi army and government, and the United States was unable to recreate either. Part of this had to do with the fact that the Iranians did not want the Americans to succeed.

For Iran, a strong Iraq is the geopolitical nightmare. Iran once fought a war with Iraq that cost Iran a million casualties (imagine the United States having more than 4 million casualties), and the foundation of Iranian national strategy is to prevent a repeat of that war by making certain that Iraq becomes a puppet to Iran or, failing that, that it remains weak and divided. At this point, the Iranians do not have the ability to impose a government on Iraq. However, they do have the ability to prevent the formation of a government or to destabilize one that is formed. Iranian intelligence has sufficient allies and resources in Iraq to guarantee the failure of any stabilization attempt that doesn’t please Tehran.

There are many who are baffled by Iranian confidence and defiance in the face of American pressure on the nuclear issue. This is the reason for that confidence: Should the United States attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, or even if the United States does not attack, Iran holds the key to the success of the American strategy in Iraq. Everything done since 2006 fails if the United States must maintain tens of thousands of troops in Iraq in perpetuity. Should the United States leave, Iran has the capability of forcing a new order not only on Iraq but also on the rest of the Persian Gulf. Should the United States stay, Iran has the ability to prevent the stabilization of Iraq, or even to escalate violence to the point that the Americans are drawn back into combat. The Iranians understand the weakness of America’s position in Iraq, and they are confident that they can use that to influence American policy elsewhere.

American and Iraqi officials have publicly said that the reason an Iraqi government has not been formed is Iranian interference. To put it more clearly, there are any number of Shiite politicians who are close to Tehran and, for a range of reasons, will take their orders from there. There are not enough of these politicians to create a government, but there are enough to block a government from being formed. Therefore, no government is being formed.

With 50,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq, the United States does not yet face a crisis. The current withdrawal milestone is not the measure of the success of the strategy. The threat of a crisis will arise if the United States continues its withdrawal to the point where the Shia feel free to launch a sustained and escalating attack on the Sunnis, possibly supported by Iranian forces, volunteers or covert advisers. At that point, the Iraqi government must be in place, be united and command sufficient forces to control the country and deter Iranian plans.

The problem is, as we have seen, that in order to achieve that government there must be Iranian concurrence, and Iran has no reason to want to allow that to happen. Iran has very little to lose by, and a great deal to gain from, continuing the stability the Petraeus strategy provided. The American problem is that a genuine withdrawal from Iraq requires a shift in Iranian policy, and the United States has little to offer Iran to change the policy.

From the Iranian point of view, they have the Americans in a difficult position. On the one hand, the Americans are trumpeting the success of the Petraeus plan in Iraq and trying to repeat the success in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the secret is that the Petraeus plan has not yet succeeded in Iraq. Certainly, it ended the major fighting involving the Americans and settled down Sunni-Shiite tensions. But it has not taken Iraq anywhere near the end state the original strategy envisioned. Iraq has neither a government nor a functional army — and what is blocking it is Tehran.

One impulse of the Americans is to settle with the Iranians militarily. However, Iran is a mountainous country of 70 million, and an invasion is simply not in the cards. Airstrikes are always possible, but as the United States learned over North Vietnam — or from the Battle of Britain or in the bombing of Germany and Japan before the use of nuclear weapons — air campaigns alone don’t usually force nations to capitulate or change their policies. Serbia did give up Kosovo after a three-month air campaign, but we suspect Iran would be a tougher case. In any event, the United States has no appetite for another war while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are still under way, let alone a war against Iran in order to extricate itself from Iraq. The impulse to use force against Iran was resisted by President Bush and is now being resisted by President Barack Obama. And even if the Israelis attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities, Iran could still wreak havoc in Iraq.

Two strategies follow from this. The first is that the United States will reduce U.S. forces in Iraq somewhat but will not complete the withdrawal until a more distant date (the current Status of Forces Agreement requires all American troops to be withdrawn by the end of 2011). The problems with this strategy are that Iran is not going anywhere, destabilizing Iraq is not costing it much and protecting itself from an Iraqi resurgence is Iran’s highest foreign policy priority. That means that the decision really isn’t whether the United States will delay its withdrawal but whether the United States will permanently base forces in Iraq — and how vulnerable those forces might be to an upsurge in violence, which is an option that Iran retains.

Another choice for the United States, as we have discussed previously, is to enter into negotiations with Iran. This is a distasteful choice from the American point of view, but surely not more distasteful than negotiating with Stalin or Mao. At the same time, the Iranians’ price would be high. At the very least, they would want the “Finlandization” of Iraq, similar to the situation where the Soviets had a degree of control over Finland’s government. And it is far from clear that such a situation in Iraq would be sufficient for the Iranians.

The United States cannot withdraw completely without some arrangement, because that would leave Iran in an extremely powerful position in the region. The Iranian strategy seems to be to make the United States sufficiently uncomfortable to see withdrawal as attractive but not to be so threatening as to deter the withdrawal. As clever as that strategy is, however, it does not hide the fact that Iran would dominate the Persian Gulf region after the withdrawal. Thus, the United States has nothing but unpleasant choices in Iraq. It can stay in perpetuity and remain vulnerable to violence. It can withdraw and hand the region over to Iran. It can go to war with yet another Islamic country. Or it can negotiate with a government that it despises — and which despises it right back.

Given all that has been said about the success of the Petraeus strategy, it must be observed that while it broke the cycle of violence and carved out a fragile stability in Iraq, it has not achieved, nor can it alone achieve, the political solution that would end the war. Nor has it precluded a return of violence at some point. The Petraeus strategy has not solved the fundamental reality that has always been the shadow over Iraq: Iran. But that was beyond Petraeus’ task and, for now, beyond American capabilities. That is why the Iranians can afford to be so confident.

"This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR"

Kishenji offers ceasefire

Yahoo News
Tue, Aug 17 11:03 PM

Kolkata: Two days after the president and the prime minister asked the Maoists to abjure violence and come to the discussion table, top Maoist leader Kishenji tonight suggested a three-month ceasefire by both sides and talks for a peace process.

"The president and the prime minister, in their Independence Day speeches, have appealed to the Maoists to abjure violence. We are never for violence but the government has instigated us to take up arms," Kishenji told PTI from an undisclosed destination.

"When our comrade Azad was preparing ground for talks, he was treacherously killed... So, it is very clear from the activities of the government that they don't want any peace," Kishenji said.

The Maoist leader claimed there were "some reports from the prime minister's office that Mamata Banerjee has been asked to work as a mediator. If she agrees, then we have no problem".

Kishenji suggested some names of mediators, like a group of intellectuals including writer Arundhati Roy, singer and Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman, BD Sharma, Gopal Narlekar and Ramanna.

"But we will not declare ceasefire unilaterally unless there are some positive steps from the government," Kishenji said.

"If the prime minister is keen to restore peace and normalcy in the disturbed areas of the country, then he will have to take an initiative to withdraw joint forces and order a judicial inquiry into the murder of Azad," he said.

He said that the prime minister in his Independence Day speech had vowed to fight terrorism and corruption.

"We are always against terrorism and corruption of any kind... It has been our party's mandate to fight corruption and so we are mobilising people all over the country to ensure that they raise their voice against injustice which has been meted out to them," the Maoist leader said.

Referring to the drought in West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, he said, "We appeal to the government to sanction Rs500 crore to each drought-hit district of these states."

Kishenji also demanded that the Rs8,000 crore that had been sanctioned for modernisation of police force and Rs60 lakh per day being spent for the anti-Naxal operation be utilised for employment and income generation schemes in underdeveloped districts of the country.

13 August, 2010

India offers aid to Pakistan

In fact this was what we were advocating. Kudos to Indian Govt. Pakistan at least should express condolences for Leh.

Yahoo News

Fri, Aug 13 08:22 PM
New Delhi, Aug 13 (PTI) After writing to his Pakistani counterpart last week condoling deaths in the floods, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today called up S M Qureshi and offered aid of USD 5 million in "this hour of need". Krishna telephoned Qureshi and expressed solidarity with the people of Pakistan in handling the devastation caused by the floods -- the worst in more than eight decades, claiming over 1,700 lives and affecting 14 million people.

"Government of India has offered assistance of US 5 million (approx Rs 23 crore) for provision of relief material from India for the victims of the massive floods that have adversely affected Pakistan, causing widespread damage to life and property," a release by the ministry said. "In a telephone conversation, Krishna conveyed to Qureshi, this gesture of solidarity with the people of Pakistan, in their hour of need," it said.

The External Affairs Minister, on behalf of the people and Government of India, also conveyed deepest sympathies and condolences to the people and Government of Pakistan, on this natural disaster, it said. Last week, Krishna had written to his Pakistani counterpart and conveyed sincere condolences and had said that he was distressed by the devastation caused by the natural calamity.

12 August, 2010

IAF gets permission to fire at Maoists

Yahoo News

Thu, Aug 12 06:47 PM
New Delhi, Aug 12 (PTI) The IAF has got the government''s permission to fire back at Naxals in extremist-hit areas in self-defence, highly-placed Air Force sources said today. The government''s nod to the IAF''s request made in September last year comes at a time when a debate is raging on whether India should use its armed forces against left-wing extremists, whom Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as the gravest internal security threat.

The IAF currently deploys two of its Mi-17s and two Dhruv helicopters in anti-Naxal operations. It had lost one of its personnel when a helicopter ferrying election officials and material during the Chattisgarh assembly polls was fired at by suspected Naxals a couple of years ago.

The government had given permission to the IAF to defend itself from the extremists'' fire and had laid out conditions on the use of small arms in self-defence sometime in October-November last year. Consequently, the IAF has fitted sideward-mounted machine guns on its helicopters flying in Naxal-affected areas basically for logistics, personnel transport and casualty evacuation of paramilitary forces engaged in fighting the Maoists, the sources said.

These guns would be operated by IAF commandos belonging to Garud units, who would be on board the helicopters every time they go out on sorties, the sources said. Defence Minister A K Antony had told Parliament in November last year that though no offensive military action had been envisaged while using the IAF helicopters in anti-Naxal operations, there was no specific approval required for action in self-defence.

However, the IAF has proposed a draft ''Rules of Engagement'' to regulate such action, in order to avoid any ambiguity and damage to the helicopters or injury to their occupants, he had said replying to members'' questions. Among the conditions laid out were that no indiscriminate firing should be carried out and that the Garuds should be sure of the source of the attack on the helicopters before retaliatory fire was unleashed.

These guidelines were issued to ensure there were no civilian causalities in case the IAF used its guns in self-defence, the Defence Ministry had explained then. "The IAF helicopter crew will not use the conventional heavy fire power weapons such as rockets and other guns on board, but only the sideward-mounted machine guns.

They will use the weapons only if fired upon," the sources said. "Fortunately, in these months that we have been allowed to defend our assets, there has been no occasion when we had to use the sideward-mounted guns," they said.

11 August, 2010

Pakistan needs a Kemal Ataturk

Abstract: In a recent survey conducted in Pakistan, students from the elite universities have vouched for a non-secular country. What can be the possible reasons behind such an outcome? Are there any quick-fix solutions for a stable Pakistan, not only politically but socio-culturally as well?

Undeniably, Pakistan as a nation-state is going through a turbulent period. The Inter-Services Intelligence's (ISI) acts of double-crossing the Americans in Afghanistan as unraveled by WikiLeaks have been wedded with the brusque comment of Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron denting the credibility of the state itself. And all these are against the static background of the jihadi complex that persistently permeates the geographical territory. Even natural disasters of the worst kind are not sparing ‘the land of the Quaid’.

The civil-military administration has been found woefully inadequate to handle these matters; especially the harrowing floods and the strife at Karachi where mafia ridden political clashes disrupted normal life to a ludicrous extent.

In view of the above, encompassing the present as well as gory past, strategic analysts have even posited solutions which entail a balkanization of Pakistan. If Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is merged with Afghanistan, it essentially appeases the belligerent Pashtuns. Baluchistan and Sind may be declared independent. That solves the long term Baloch insurgency problem at least. And Punjab can become its own master and does not remain the political ruler of recalcitrant and thus reluctant ‘vassals’. After all, it is the inhabitants of Punjab who are numerically the majority in today’s Pakistan.

The fireball of hatred that was ignited at the Lahore Conference of the Muslim League in 1940 is now engulfing the very concept of two-nation theory itself. The cry of ‘Islam in danger’ has viciously transformed into the cry of ‘the land of Islam in danger’.

The jihadis whom ISI nourished till 9/11 have become the monstrous Frankenstein. Thus, it is neither the hubris nor the devious plan of a nation-state which coerces it to ‘hunt with the hounds and run with the hares’; rather it is a sheer existential compulsion which forces it to chart that path.

It may not be an altogether different matter that the present generation of youth in Pakistan is still asymmetrically bent toward the communal agenda; albeit to a slight degree. Ayesha Siddiqa, a renowned political analyst, recently conducted a survey to judge the ‘secular’ bent of mind of the Pakistani youth. She took a sample of about 600 interviewees from across Pakistan. All of them belonged to top universities of the land. And the question posed to them was rather direct: “Should Pakistan become a Secular state?”

Not unexpectedly though, 56 per cent of them went for the negative. This story has been carried in the August issue of Newsline, a premier magazine of Pakistan.

What is rather interesting is the fact that 44 per cent of the youth vouched for a ‘secular Pakistan’. The land which was created over thousands of corpses of both the communities, over the largest mass exodus ever recorded in History and over the emotions of millions could have definitely asked for less. The indications of this percentage are noteworthy.

Though the majority is still emblematic of the prevalent politico-social cacophony, the rising minority attempts to bear an insignia of ‘change’. One aspect is important here, however. The sample space which responded to the interview was from the educated group and that too from the ‘elite’ universities. Hence, they necessarily do not form a part of the actual ‘rising number’ of dissenting ‘enlightened’ youth of Pakistan.

Nonetheless, a fascinating fact which emerges out of this survey is that the education system of the country is yet to be completely sabotaged by the theocratic-military elements. Value based education imparting sense of justice, democracy, rule of law and secularism is probably still extant. Furthermore, the media in Pakistan is not an endangered species.

Talib Qizilbash, the online editor of Newsline, in a correspondence with the author exhibited overt enthusiasm when he asserted: “I did expect many to say yes to secularism; thinking that educated elites are more liberal and westernized and that they would see a majority of the problems in our country to be related to religion or some distorted version of it or the government’s promotion or manipulation of it, and that they would be cognizant of it”.

Nevertheless, he was quite pragmatic when he opined that may be the socio-political ethos of his people, the elite included, is dominated still by the historic legacy of partition of the sub-continent. The thought-process of the people of Pakistan is fuelled by the memories of the past, the rationale behind the two-nation theory and the consequent Indo-Pak hate cycle.

Is there any solution to this helical ascendancy toward anarchy, not only political but social and cultural as well?

Almost since inception, Pakistan has seen military leaders and in fact a decent number of them. If they did not possess a de-jure regime, then they had a de-facto control of affairs; at least the baton of maneuverability was in their hands. Critically speaking, no military leader had in essence acted as an emancipator for the nation-state. On the contrary, they had had the dubious distinction of pulling the state toward the ‘state of anarchy’ and in establishing an oligopolistic administration.

It is high time that the military as a corporate institution delivers to Pakistan a manumitter. Pakistan needs not a Mahdi, but a redeemer. The nation is overdue for a persona of the stature of Kemal Ataturk. The Turkish stalwart, apart from being a highly competent army officer to have thwarted the Allied advance at Dardanelles in 1915; ushered in a socio-cultural revolution almost single handedly in the land of Caliph.

In the years following 1926, Mustafa Kemal introduced a radical departure in Turkey from the age-old socio-political architecture of the Ottoman Empire. For the first time, there was a clear separation of religion from politics and civil life. Mustafa Kemal said, “We must liberate our concepts of justice, our laws and our legal institutions from the bonds which, even though they are incompatible with the needs of our century, still hold a tight grip on us.”

Such path-breaking reforms undertaken by Kemal made him earn the surname of ‘Ataturk’ or Father of the Turks.

The point of consideration here is whether the jihadi-military complex in Pakistan shall allow the germination of such a leader? Will the people of Pakistan be able to come out of the historical bondage that they are in since the coinage of the term ‘Pakistan’ by Rahmat Ali loitering in the corridors of Cambridge in 1933? Even if the witnesses to the pogrom of 1946-48 are not able to come out of the Indo-Pak hate cycle, will the post-colonial neo-generation seek to carve a fresh trajectory?

Well, the signs are there, at least in the above mentioned survey. Nevertheless, nationalistic moorings howsoever irrational, may continue to exist even after the coup d’etat of a hypothetical Kemal Ataturk; at least vis-à-vis India. In fact, in another survey by Newsline itself, an alarming 64 per cent of Pakistani students are reluctant to hand over the Jama’at-ud-Da’wah chief Hafiz Saeed to India. The hate cycle shall take some time to assuage but a socially, educationally and technically rejuvenated Pakistan will definitely be a stable Pakistan. And a stable neighbour would create a far more conducive regional temperature for India in particular and South Asia in general.

In the words of Pakistan’s slain leader Benazir Bhutto: “Democracy in Pakistan is not just important for Pakistanis, it is important for the entire world.”

However, birth of a Kemal Ataturk may have negative fallouts for South Asia at large. A strongly nationalistic Pakistan shall always try to spread its wings. But at least there will be a shield: that of rationality. Mustafa Kemal had the audacity to drive out the Italians from Anatolia, and still possessed the mind to accept a territorially limited Turkey. If an Ataturk reigns in Pakistan, then there shall be no Pervez Musharraf to tell any Benazir Bhutto:” We will put the flag of Pakistan on the Srinagar Parliament” (an excerpt from Bhutto’s revised autobiography, ‘Daughter of the East’)

At present though, the question posed to the majority student-citizens of Pakistan regarding their vision of a secular country would simply be a koan. To them, Quaid’s speech after independence urging his countrymen to accept all the nationalities and embrace all religions, probably if not necessarily, reverberates as mere rhetoric.