Preparing the Nation
By Moorthy Muthuswamy, November 2002
In my previous opinion (www.saag.org/papers6/paper535.html), I had outlined a national security vision. I ended it with a call to the country’s establishment to act. I am going to discuss here how India can prepare itself to act. In reality, India’s inability to act decisively so far is a reflection of a society that is ill prepared.
The sustained and pathological hostility Pakistanis feel towards India is a reflection of a society passionate about its religion and a religious compulsion to eradicate what it sees as a land of infidels. Historically, such enemies have been vanquished by an opposition that feels equally passionate about its way of life, and thus willing to go to any extent to defeat the enemy. Example: Hitler’s Germany or Imperial Japan were two fascist nations that were eventually trounced and their mindset forcibly changed by the allied nations.
As it stands now, Indian media comes across as confused on the issue of terrorism. It is painting a mistaken portrayal of the majority Hindu community being the victimizers, when in reality it is the Hindu community that is being systematically targeted (my previous opinion). Thus the media is only emboldening extremists among the Muslim community, while at the same time creating divisions among the majority community. This has also resulted in a confused and unfocussed public, -- making India’s ability to fight decisively, just about impossible.
Hence, the first crucial step lies in preparing the Indian public feel equally passionate about the Indian way of life and make it feel ruthless towards the enemy. This can only be accomplished if the regime in power controls the media. Therefore, the declaration of emergency, with the regime assuming more powers is a must, if India is committed to winning this war. A capable regime should be able to unify most Indians under its leadership, if it declares the main agenda as crushing terrorism, -- given, India’s safety and economic future are intimately linked to winning the war on terrorism, -- making terrorism, the primary concern of most Indians.
It is important to keep in mind that most, if not all, of the economic successes in Asia, – South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore or even China had single party setups rather than democratic regimes during the period of economic growth and consolidation. These visionary regimes provided the political stability and the will necessary to carryout security and economic policies; instabilities were not allowed to fester. After achieving stability and economic growth most of these countries have made a natural transition to democracy.
Culturally and religiously, Indians are much closer to East Asians than Middle Easterners or Africans. Like East Asians, Indian immigrants in Western countries have done very well, unlike the immigrants of Middle Eastern or African origin or even immigrants from Muslim majority regions of Pakistan/Bangladesh. Hence, we shouldn’t fear that an undemocratic, but a visionary government at the center would misrule India, -- like the Middle Eastern or African dictatorships.
Old models and ideas have simply failed. They have placed Indian children’s future under grave jeopardy. The proven models of East Asia as a mode of governing India, best suited to winning the war, and subsequently, to achieve prosperity, are worth looking into.