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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 44 New Delhi October 22, 2016

Warmongers are Anti-National

Sunday 23 October 2016, by Sandeep Pandey

The Indian Government, after the surgical strikes on September 29, 2016, the details of which have not been made very clear, in response to the Uri attack on September 18, appears to be in a complacent mood as a result of something which it deems to be an accomplishment. This is similar to the nuclear tests conducted on May 11, 1998. Even then some BJP leaders indulged in chest-thumping; some were issuing warnings and threats to Pakistan. But before the end of that month, Pakistan too conducted its tests, taking India by surprise. Hence those celebrating India’s success at the border must be cautious. India has not carried out a strike which will deter Pakistan from attacking India directly or through its proxy in future. When the nuclear tests were conducted, we were told that India now possessed a weapon that, what to talk of Pakistan, even the US would be wary of. But before Atal Behari Vajpayee could conclude his term as the Prime Minister, Pakistani forces infiltrated in Kargil.

Just like the arms race between India and Pakistan accelerated after the nuclear tests, even though the social indices of the two neighbours are the worst compared to their neighbours in South Asia, consuming invaluable resources which should have been spent on making basic necessities of life available to its citizens, competition in acquiring material for mutual destruction would receive a similar fillip after the Indian surgical strikes. It would be under-estimating Pakistan if we think that it would be discouraged from carrying out its regular incursions in future because of our surgical strikes. The problem with the arms race is nobody knows when it’ll end. With technological advancement more sophisticated and dangerous weapons become available. If one country acquires a certain weapon then it becomes mandatory for the other to acquire something which is of equal destructive potential. The weapons are acquired for one’s security. But they actually increase the feeling of insecurity. First we worry only about our security, then we have to worry about the security of our weapons too. For example, countries possessing nuclear weapons have to worry about their security as well. It is a matter of grave concern for the US that the Pakistani nuclear weapons should not fall into the hands of Islamist extremists.

Currently India has created a situation which will trigger another round of arms acquisition between the neighbours. Countries which will benefit are the US, Israel, Russia, Britain, France, China, etc., from whom India and Pakistan will buy their arms. The money which should have been spent on education, health care, food security, housing, sanitation, to ensure that no child is malnourished and no woman is anaemic, will now be spent on purchasing weapons. Hence, even building an atmosphere of war is a crime against the poor people of both countries.

Rajnath Singh has declared that the 3323 km long India-Pakistan border will be sealed. Boundaries are made by humans and they have a history of changing. People and material will keep moving across India-Pakistan border because people on both sides have relatives and their religious places on the other side. People want to travel across the border. Two countries have cultural affinity. In nowhere else in the world, the language spoken in large parts of north India, known as Hindi in India and Urdu in Pakistan, is understood so well as in Pakistan. At a time when European countries have made their borders irrelevant, we are talking about sealing our borders! West and East Germany demolished the wall between them. We want to build one between India and Pakistan! If there are governments in the two countries in future who decide to make peace, then the money spent on sealing the borders will go waste. Hence, the effort should be to open the borders, not seal them. Impregnable border is a sign of animosity, open border is a sign of friendship. Enmity is short-term, non-permanent, friend-ship is long-term, stable. Hence the decision of the Indian Government to seal the border lacks wisdom and is anti-people. It is a waste of public resources. Is there a guarantee that sealed borders will prevent terrorists from invading? Aerial attacks and through sea, like the one in Mumbai, can still take place. Worst, they can infiltrate, physically and mentally. How will the sealed border prevent somebody inside India from being radicalised? We should look for solutions so that terrorists stop coming and people stop becoming radicals. It requires deeper introspection than a symbolic gesture of sealing borders.

People die in wars. It is not always the terrorists or combatants who die. As we saw in over three months of protests in Kashmir, the bullets of the security forces killed children, women and the old too. Even the family of a soldier doesn’t want him to die. They want to see him return alive. His job is to protect the border. He sacrifices his life in very special circumstances. It is the governments which create situations in which the soldier may have to sacrifice his life or he may remain safe. If the governments are not able to solve their problem with neighbouring countries, then the soldiers may have to sacrifice their lives. If the governments show intent of solving the problem then the soldiers may not be required to risk their lives. War is a sign of failure of the government to solve the problem with neigh-bours, and peace is a sign of success. A govern-ment which is concerned about its citizens will never want to go to war. On the other hand, a government insensitive towards its citizens will put their lives in danger.

To create war hysteria in the country is not patriotism but anti-national, as it will lead the country to disaster. It is not a sign of responsible government which allows the politics of jingoism. The government and Bharatiya Janata Party may temporarily gain from the war or building the atmosphere of war, but the citizens stand to lose in the long term.

Noted social activist and Magsaysay awardee, Dr Sandeep Pandey was recently sacked this year from the IIT-BHU where he was a Visiting Professor on the charge of being a “Naxalite” engaging in “anti-national” activities. He was elected along with Prof Keshav Jadhav the Vice-President of the Socialist Party (India) at its founding conference at Hyderabad on May 28-29, 2011.