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The National Identity III : The Cold Start Doctrine and the Civil-Armed Forces feud in the North Block

India stood at a cross-roads in December 2001. India's Parliament had been attacked by Pakistani backed and Pakistani trained gunmen and India's response, a mere two years after the Kargil war, would shape India's military and political response to Pakistan's proxy war for a generation to come. Half a million troops were mobilized across the International Border and the Line of Control in Kashmir. The service chiefs wanted to strike at the heart of Pakistan and divide it into two separate battle theaters. This would ideally call for a blitzkrieg within 72-96 hours of the Parliament attack. It took three weeks until India's Strike Corps from, Ambala, Mathura and Bhopal (in the hinterland) were able to amass the required columns across the border. Once mobilized, the Service Chiefs' plans of slicing Pakistan into two was rejected by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Indian armed forces gifted the Indian elected leadership their own worst enemy - time. Time to dither, time to look for diplomatic solutions, time to bow down to international pressure and time to eventually develop cold feet. Without any tactical or operational victories, there is little hope of securing a political and strategic victory and absolutely no hope to garner concessions from Pakistan. Thus Operation Parakram, the largest mobilization of troops since 1971, turned into a colossal and costly failure.

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, famously, uttered these words in response to Indira Gandhi's plans of a monsoon invasion of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1971. Indira Gandhi paid heed and instead on the Field Marshal's say so, India put in proper planning through the year and won a decisive victory in East Pakistan and liberated them in December 1971. India also decimated Pakistan on the Western front, thus compelling Pakistani Premier Bhutto to engage with India at the Shimla summit in 1972. After scoring a decisive operational victory in both the Western and Eastern theaters of war, Prime Minister Gandhi failed to usher in concessions from Pakistan and handed back important mountain passes, territory and PoWs on a platter. This stands as an example of poor political leadership, despite an operational victory, The civil leadership doubted our military capabilities to enforce lasting peace and thus never had a vision of a "political victory", and thus India failed to enforce her terms on Pakistan. Pakistan was left free to start planning for taking the Siachen Glacier and to fester unrest in Indian Kashmir in the decades to come.

All of India's wars show a glaring gap between what the political leadership knows of the Indian military's capabilities and what the military knows of the elected leadership's strategic goals. After the bitter truths learned in the aftermath of the costly mobilization of early 2002, the Indian Army wasted little time in developing a military doctrine which could ensure complete operational success.

A Trip of a Lifetime

On Imported Blog

On December 24, I embarked on the journey of a lifetime. I traveled on the Jagriti Yatra, an annual 7,500 km chartered train ride that takes highly motivated young Indians, as well as a few international participants under 25 years old, on a 15-day national odyssey to meet with and learn from entrepreneurs who have developed innovative solutions to address India’s challenges.

The Jagriti Yatra was an opportunity to learn without being taught, the experiences of successful social entrepreneurs like Bunker Roy of Barefoot College, Anshu Gupta of Goonj and the founding family of Aravind Eye Care. While on a panel discussion in Ahmadabad, Harish Hande, founder of Selco, offered sobering advice: “Live with the problem that you are trying to solve.” He explained that too often, so many of us—wanting to come from a place of understanding—don’t take the time to live with the issue that we want to help eradicate. This advice, similar to the wisdom we had been receiving from social entrepreneurs along the yatra, helped to shape our personal journeys, contributed to extraordinary learning, personal transformation and realistic applications to future venture ideas.

While some yatris were owners of their own enterprises, most were simply intrigued and enamored by the possibilities of becoming a part of the class of Indians transforming India through sustainable enterprise. Although many of the yatris were in STEM related fields, they expressed interest in crossing over into the social sector, stating that a major reason for selecting their field was because of parental pressure. It became clear along the yatra that while the interests of my fellow cohorts varied along an infinite spectrum, they shared the common interest of wanting to rebuild their nation and carry it forward.

The yatra was at the cornerstone of my experience in India. It opened so many doors, opportunities to travel (I traveled to Bangladesh with a yatri) and sparked the beginning of many lifelong friendships with people living in India and abroad. Through this yatra, I learned that India was much more than it’s cities; it is a vast and sprawling countryside. I learned more about the power of our generation by observing my Indian cohorts working to create change in the midst of crippling frustrations like corruption and poverty. The way that India changes over the next fifty years will change the world. This journey taught me more than I could ever hope to capture in any paper, book or article. The friendships, relationships and partnerships that have been cultivated keep me excited about the future of India.

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