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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.

Gorkhland? Never!

On Imported Blog

I don't support the movement for a Gorkhaland. I have been in the Darjeeling hills for 16 years now, and with Nepalis my entire life, but I cannot bring myself to be sympathetic to their cause. Make no mistakes, my best of friends belong to the community, and I love the hills very much. Here are my reservations for a separate state. I have consciously tried to avoid generalisations.

Nepali is, in fact, a lingua franca for many tribes and communities (with unique languages and scripts) sharing a common domain, not to mention those of the Tibetan stock. "Gorkha" itself seeks to unify vastly varied sorts of men. I interpret this to be a political move to create a consensus where none exist.

The government of West Bengal has for the last 58 years fed and nurtured virtual foreigners, and yet these brave warriors of the hills have foregone their attitude of gratitude for a seemingly selfish (and unrealistic) demand for another state. The greater pity is that the Gorkhas are not one people, but a staggered hoard of refugees (Tibetans), immigrants and an out-numbered group of indigenous people (the Lepchas, et al). The latter have even forgone their language and culture, and adopted Nepali. The loss is theirs, only. Some have even said that India should give in to their desire for Gorkhaland in return for the service rendered by the community's soldiers. At this rate, they might ask for Wales from the UK, for the contribution made by the Gorkha soldiers of the British army.Somewhere, though, I feel the Bengal government should give them their state. Bengal has been a blessing for the hills. After all, one doesn't realise the value of his teeth till he loses them.They should learn their lesson!

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