The Indian Nation is going through some testing times. The Kashmir Valley continues to be embroiled in an unabated cycle of violence which is making life an unending misery for the common man and creating a tense security environment. The blockade in Manipur has been in place for almost two months and people are suffering unimaginable hardship even as the governments. The Naxal issue has gained criticality in the aftermath of a proactive policy adopted by Home Minister P Chidambaram. The Army is already playing an active role in both Kashmir and the North East and now it may be called upon to contain the Naxal menace also.
In the midst of this turmoil the Army, which is the sole savior and sentinel of the Nations integrity, is facing a grave challenge from a number of forces that are trying to weaken it intrinsic fabric. Whether this is part of a grand design or the machination of different powers and lobbies who have their own axes to grind cannot be ascertained, but what is very obvious is that the cumulative effect is quite alarming.
The increasing involvement of the Army in quelling social and political dissent in the country provides the first and most critical chink in its Armour. Interestingly, the divisive ideologies of Islamic Jihad and Maoism that the country has to contend with are direct imports from its two neighbours, China and Pakistan. The two countries are well aware that only the Indian Army stands between them and their long standing policy of dividing India into small segments in order to curtail its growing influence. Now, by involving the Army more and more in internal security these countries feel that they may have hit bulls eye. The engagement with the Naxals is not possible without diluting vigil on the border as also the edge that the Army enjoys as a conventional force. Quite obviously, the vacuum thus created will be exploited by these two countries, Pakistan will be able to boost its proxy war and China will gain strength in its negotiations for the border dispute.
The second challenge is emanating from a psychological war that has been launched against the force with the intention of denting the high moral pedestal at which it stands. The people of India see the Indian soldier as the epitome of all that is the best in the country due to his demonstrated qualities of courage, self sacrifice, integrity, strength of character and commitment to the cause of the Nation. If this image is dented the psychological fallout may propel the country into a self destruct mode. Against this backdrop a sustained campaign is being orchestrated to malign the image of the soldier in the eyes of his countrymen. Terrorists and terrorist linked organisations are keeping the pot boiling in regions like Kashmir and the North East by highlighting baseless human rights violations through the medium of orchestrated public demonstrations and virulent outcry. In the remaining parts of the country, especially the national capital, the slightest misdemeanour by an Army man is blown out of proportion through well managed propaganda. The result is that the force and the country are getting enveloped in a feeling of low self esteem and the army is getting involved in a web of legality which is keeping it perpetually on the back foot.
There is a need to counter this challenge being thrown up by forces inimical to the nation. Firstly, in order to allow the Army to concentrate upon its primary task of manning the country’s borders against our many adversaries we have to build upon our police and Para-military forces so that they can perform the role assigned to them. Some methodology can be worked out, whereby, the Army’s expertise is put to good use to give a boost these organisations. On the psychological front the media, which is unwittingly becoming a stooge in the hands of anti-national forces, needs to understand the difference between reportage of normal events and security issues, the latter being too important to be subject to TRP driven sensationalism. The Nation must realise that not all that is heard is coming from sources that have the good of the Nation in mind. The Army is the last bastion of the Nation, and a weakened, demoralized force will spell doom for the Nation. Isolating the Army from deliberate attempts to reduce its capabilities and from negative propagandist influences is a national responsibility.