Archive for the ‘The Warlords (national security)’ Category

कश्मीर फाइल्स & लिबरल

Sunday, March 20th, 2022
कश्मीर फाइल्स की रिलीज से जो भारत के समाज की – खासकर हिन्दू समाज के कुछ वर्गों की – जो नफरत सामने आ रही है वो आज नहीं पैदा हुई है. ना ही वो 2014 में पैदा हुई. 2017 के एक नेशनल सर्वे में सिर्फ 8% भारतियों ने यह कहा था की कश्मीर में मिलिट्री ज़ोर का इस्तेमाल कम किया जाना चाहिए, और लगभग 70% भारतियों ने कहाँ था की भारत की सेना को और ज़ादा बल और हिंसा का इस्तेमाल करना चाहिए. ये पुलवामा के पहले और बुरहान वानी की मौत के 2 साल बाद की बात है – जब भारत की सेना पेलेट गन का इस्तेमाल आम जनता पर कर रही थी. याद रखने वाली बात है की पेलेट गन का इस्तेमाल 2010 से कांग्रेस सर्कार द्वारा शुरू करा गया था.
उस ही सर्वे में ये भी पता चला की भारत के लोगो से जब पूछा गया की देश को बेहतर बनाने में कोनसे संसथान का सबसे ज़ादा योगदान है तो कोर्ट, पुलिस, सर्कार, एन.जी.ओ अदि से काफी ऊपर मिलिट्री अति है. हिंसा, मिलिटरीवाद, और कश्मीर के लोगो से दुरी और कई लोगो की नफरत आज की बात नहीं है और इसकी जड़ हिन्दुत्बा से गहरी जाती है – बल्कि “लिबरल” लोगो में भी आसानी से मिल जाती है.
क्यों 1990 से 2014 के बीच “लिबरल” भारत के और लोगों के बीच मिलिट्री और कश्मीर में हिंसा के बारे में लोगो की चेतना में बदलाव नहीं ला सके? क्या पता आने वाले दिनों में भी आम लोगो के बीच इन मुददों पर संघटित तरीके से लोगों की चेतना बदलने का काम कर पाएंगे या नहीं.
जादातर लोगों की सामाजिक चेतना लेक्चर हॉल और सेमिनार में नहीं बनती – जहाँ पहले से पढ़े लिखे और शोध में समय दे सकने वाले लोग आते हैं. रोज़मर्रा के सघर्षो, यूनियन गतिविधियों और कुछ गैर राजनैतिक प्लेटफॉर्म्स में ही लोगो के साथ इन मुददों पर समज विकसित करने का काम किया जा सकता है. जो की वो सभी लोग, जो समाज में गैरबराबरी और हिंसा का राज चाहते है, बखूबी कर रहे है.
नए इंस्टाग्राम लेफ़्टिस्ट्स में से कई लोगों का तो ये मानना है की जो लोग दुनिया में उनके जैसी सोच ले कर नहीं गिरे वो सब उनके दुश्मन है. जिसका मतलब जादातर मजदूर वर्ग भी क्यंकि उनमे से कुछ लोग भगवा स्कार्फ़ और माथे पर टिका लगा कर घूमने लगे है. जबकि ये दोनों बर्ताव एक ही सिक्के के दो पहलु है – अपने आप को एक नैतिक दृष्टि के गुट के हिस्से के रूप में दिखाना. जबतक हम इन लोगो से बात नहीं करेंगे और इनको अपना हिस्सा नहीं मानेंगे तबतक इस्थिति सिर्फ बत्तर होनी है.

Indian missile drops accidentally in Pakistan

Sunday, March 13th, 2022
I wonder how Indian media and establishment would have reacted if a Pakistani super-sonic cruise missile would have entered Indian airspace and landed in Haryana. (To the best of my knowledge Pakistan has none.)
Most likely this was a BrahMos cruise missile first tested in 2020 in Andamans. This is a ‘fire-and-forget’ missile that cannot be launched without locking in on a fixed target. Which raises the question of why was a missile locked in on Pakistan during peacetime?
And even if there is no wish to escalate tensions on either side this incident should remind us that at the end of the day these killing machines are Machines that fail. And if this happens in a time of escalated tensions on the border or diplomatically the results would definitely be catastrophic for all.
This incident should make us demand demilitarization, resuming peace talks with Pakistan, and at least demilitarization of Kashmir – the first step towards a peaceful solution.

India Arms Production and Export Boost

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021

“Combined arms sales by the three Indian companies in the Top 100 grew by 1.7 per cent. In 2020 the Indian Government announced a phased ban on imports of certain types of military equipment to bolster self-reliance in arms production.” – SIPRI.


A New Behemoth: New War Industry after OFB Corporatization.

Sunday, July 11th, 2021

The Union Cabinet on 30th June 2021 promulgated the Essential Defence Services Ordinance (EDSO). The ordinance was passed in haste and with the rationale that the parliament is not in session and that the ordinance needs to be effective for emergency purposes. The urgent and immediate impetus for EDSO is the call for an indefinite strike by workers under the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) which includes more than 80,000 workers in 41 ordnance factories spread across the country. The EDSO makes strikes and many other industrial actions – including denying to work overtime illegal for workers in any industry that are linked with the production or are essential for the function of defense manufacturing and services. This could include workers in the Mahindra factory engaged in the manufacturing of armored vehicles. The ordinance is in force for 6 months and can be extended every 6 months for the same amount of time.

The EDSO is a draconian law that does away with even the mild labor protections prescribed by ILO standards – most of which are not binding for India, as we have not ratified even the basic ILO conventions. But in this article, I will break down why the labour federations of civilian defense workers are going on strike starting 26th July.

Why are the five federations of the OFB and other trade unions calling for a strike?

The OFB is a government agency that works as the management for 41 ordinance factories and engages in research, development, production, testing, marketing, and logistics of products ranging from small arms, anti-aircraft weapons, tanks, missile launchers, to engines, machine tools, chemicals, and optoelectronics. It comes under the Department of Defence Production (DDP).

In the 2020-21 Union Budget it was announced that “In strategic sectors, there will be a bare minimum presence of the public sector enterprises. The remaining CPSEs (Central Government Public Sector Enterprises) in the strategic sector will be privatized or merged or subsidiaries with other CPSEs or closed.” The strategic sectors classified in the document included Defence, Atomic energy, Space among many others.

In May 2020 during the Atmanirbhar Bharat package announcement, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made public the decision of corporatization of OFB for “improving autonomy, accountability, and efficiency in ordnance suppliers”. To oversee the corporatization process Group of Ministers, headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, was constituted. KPMG Advisory Services (a subsidiary of the Netherland-based firm) leads the consortium as the consultants for the transformation.

The OFB workers’ federations are striking against this corporatization of the OFB, the world’s largest government-controlled defence producer.

What does corporatization of OFB mean?

As mentioned above, OFB is a government agency and agencies cannot be privatized or as a corporate entity enter into Public-Private Partnerships with private defence manufacturers. And because it is not a corporate entity it is not bound to generate profits for its shareholders every quarter. As an agency, it can work under “loss” to maintain high wages, social security, quality control, and other essential social goods which a profit-maximizing firm cannot.

The cabinet has authorized converting these 41 factories into 7 corporations. They are:

Ammunition and explosives group
Vehicles group
Weapons and equipment group
Troop comfort items group
Ancillary group
Opto-electronics group and
Parachute group

The constitution of the board of directors, creating a corporate plan for the corporations would be the next steps. All of this is going to be extremely difficult, especially given the spatial distribution and levels of technical specializations of different factories. But given the haphazard way in which the plan was announced planning seems wanting.

What are the “experts” telling us?

For Rajnath Singh increasing the quantum of defence export is the primary goal of the corporatization exercise. While for many retired military officers and “experts” it is increasing competition between producers resulting in lower acquisition costs and improving products range. Questions like ‘whether these are worthy goals’ or even if we assume that they are then ‘is corporatization the most credible strategy for achieving them’ have not sufficiently been discussed among the stakeholders, primarily with the OFB and the workers.

But appropriately enough in 2020, an internal report was leaked claiming that OFB was responsible for more than 400 accidents through manufacturing defects. The report was never shared with the OFB and the reporting on the leak failed to consider that most of these accidents could be because of unauthorized design changes, poor maintenance, or faulty fire drillings.

The basis of such proposals is put into doubt by some facts. India is constantly increasing its quantum of defence exports – India was the 23rd global major arms exporter for 2015-2019 and 19th for 2019. The Ministry of Defence’s annual report 2018-19 records India’s defence exports at Rs 10,745 crore, a growth of over 100 percent from 2017-18 (Rs 4,682 crore). OFB is a major player in these exports.

In addition to that, a 2019 study drawing lessons for India from the UK’s defence privatization by Jonathan S. Swift published in the Journal of Defence Studies (Journal of the MoD funded IDSA think-tank) found that “judged in terms of cost reduction, privatization has been a failure.” (pg. 20.)

What is the context of this move?

Privatization of the sectors that were predominantly under public control saw significant push under Bajpai rule. First, commercial aviation and importantly in 2003 Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited (IPCL) to Reliance Industries (RIL) for pennies. Then, in 2005 came MoD-appointed Kelkar Committee’s report recommending to corporatize the OFB to improve its efficiency. The report remained in limbo till 2020. But in the meantime, starting in 2009 more than 20 international defense manufacturers established subsidiaries in India – almost all headquartered within shouting distance from Raisina Hill and with ties with defense think tanks. 2014-15 saw the announcement of the Make in India campaign – defence is the biggest component of the campaign.

It is also worth noting that the Cabinet Committee on Security that approved OFB corporatization has the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs as a member. And between 2017-2019 Nirmala Sitharaman was the Minister of Defence. Making Sitharaman, Rajnath Singh, Modi, and Amit Shah the primary supervisors of the policy.

What will be the implications of corporatization?

Depending on the exact nature of the next step by the Singh-led Minister’s Group the whole exercise could mean either of two things: first, gradually being sold to private corporations, or second, gradually and through conscious policies being wiped out of the market, like Air India and BSNL.

Either way, one thing is clear: the influence of private, for-profit corporations that live on the war and waste industry will have more and direct influence over India’s foreign and domestic policies. The market for domestic weapons and surveillance systems will also grow. For most of the 80,000 workers, it would mean the end of government workers’ status and a turn to contract jobs and even lay-offs.

By more deeply entrenching industries and economy into war industry, OFB corporatization will be a big step in the direction away from a more peaceful South Asia. It must be resisted and stopped.


It’s not (just) Modi, it’s Neoliberalism and Military-Industrial Complex

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

The 2019-2020 union budget allocated Rs. 64,559 Cr. to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Rs. 4.3 Lakh Cr. to Ministry of Defence. There are expenses on health not included in this but that is compensated by the fact that a lot of defence funding is done through the Home Affairs ministry (especially of the forces and operations in Kashmir and Chattishghar) and the secret budgets for intelligence services are never revealed – so the comparison still holds. And a SIPRI report released yesterday shows that the actual publicly available defence spending was Rs 5.4 Lakh Cr.

<span;>And this trend is not new. For decades the fighter aircraft, carriers, missiles are eating away the money, manpower and technical expertise that could have instead created a stable healthcare system better prepared for something like Covid-19. Instead of producing guns and bombs, we could have produced masks and ventilators and instead of procuring missile defence systems from Israel and Russia, we could have procured material and tech for these health care needs.

<span;>This next one is a heartbreaking comparison to make but the most common argument for defence spending is that there is a violent threat to us that we need protection from and which justifies these astronomical spendings. Going by the worst-case scenario records, the total (Indian) death toll in last 50 years from wars, armed conflicts, insurgencies and terror attacks is no more than 2 lakh. We have passed this number officially and in reality, we have passed at least 5 times more than this number of deaths in the last year from Covid-19. It is as if we have fought a war each day for the last one year. And we have – it is the toll of the Indian elites class war against the population.

<span;>India was the worlds 3rd largest spender on military last year and ranked 131 on Human Development Index. Putting people over the interests of the State and its regional military dominance is not unique to this regime and will not go away after it.

<span;>Why is there a shortage of vaccines? Short answer is: patent monopoly and monopoly agreements. When a state funded research in collaboration with private pharma company results in a drug or vaccine there are atleast two option. Either the state can take rights over the medicine and pay the private firm for its contribution or, the state can grant the company monopoly rights to produce, set price and sell the product and have nothing to do with it. But the current social ideology of neo-liberalism tells us that we cannot do the former because it will create deficit if the state pays these companies – nevermind the “deficit” and burden inflicted on people in terms of drug costs which on average are 5-10 times higher. So, a single company gets the right over the medicine.

<span;>The rights to <span;>COVISHIELD are owned by AstraZeneca and its manufacturing rights in India have been given to Serum Institute. It is unclear who owns COVAXIN rights which was created under a PPP agreement with Bharat Biotech – the current pricing of the vaccine and tech-trasfer agreement with Haffikine Institute give a mixed impression but it is unlikely that Bharat Biotech doesn’t have a significant say in future manufacturing and pricing decisions.

<span;>The central government can grant compulsory license for both the vaccine and involve more private and crucially public manufacturers. This could have been done months ago. This can be done now. Not only will it ramp up production but also reduce the risk of single or few suppliers suffering accident or logistical issues. Recall that Serum’s production facility experienced a major accident few months ago (result of another neoliberal fetish – deregulation).

<span;>But this discourages “innovation” and alienates corporations. And of course alienating corporations is worse than couple of lakh people dead.

<span;>These policies too have support in all corners of political and elite circles and transcends Modi or BJP. They just represent the extreme wing of the elite consensus.

<span;>It’s because of the neo-liberal dogma that the level of inequality globally and in India is historically high and that jobs have collapsed. The result of which is people with insufficient savings and monthly income to survive economic and social lockdowns for even few days and who lose the last penny on rents, loans and medical bills. Deepening the spiral of poverty.

<span;>While all the work and needs today are understandably, for the most part, are local and hyperlocal the long term solution – which too are urgent must focus also on so-called “defence” eating away social wealth and corporate interest devouring the interest of the people and the planet.

(Dis)Integration At Gunpoint – Aug 5 2019-2020 J&K Report

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

I contributed a chapter on militarism to this very important and comprehensive study of life and politics in J&K in last one year: (Dis)Integration At Gunpoint.


Indians who read it with eyes (and mind) open should realize how deep our hands are in blood. And hopefully that should shake off some of the apathy and equanimity that makes this crime and violence possible.

A year ago, Indian state finished the task of completely alienating Kashmir from India and its puppet government in J&K. Ex-RAW chief Dulat and few other army commanders are worried and wonder if New Delhi is actually prepared for what is coming? One can speculate the direction local protests and militancy will take in the valley but one thing is clear that Indian state had once again made Indians insecure in name of “national security”.

One very unfortunate thing we can expect is more attempts and few successful attacks in mainland India in coming years. Indian state has known for years that whenever there are moments of hope for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue militant attacks (and even cross border infiltration) stops almost completely.It shows who and what is the cause of violence. What happened on August 5th was an invitation to a prolonged war of counter-insurgency that will be fought all over India. Who cares if that puts Indians at risk?

This is just one reason why more Indians should be concerned about Kashmir and our State policy there. But basic sense of humanity should be sufficient to see what is happening is grossly unjust, that we should stop the violence and resolve the issue peacefully with Kashmiris. No country, especially not India, can afford militarism and a war economy when almost half of its youth population is unemployed, health care is among the worst performing in Asia and inequality is rising faster than in any other country in the world.

The Real Lesson of Kargil: We are “Wicked”.

Sunday, July 26th, 2020

The official and well known accounts of the Pakistan’s operations in the spring of 1999 in the Kargil–Dras sector of J&K is that Islamabad “undertook this misadventure with sinister plans to capture India’s land”. And as Modi said this morning, “it is the nature of the wicked to have enmity with everyone for no reason.”

The war-machine needs to constantly paint the official enemy of the day as nonredeemable evil. So, the facts that do not fit this pictures should be kept out of the sight of the public. Facts like Islamabad did not know about the Pakistan Army’s plans. And that India and Pakistan both engage in local land grab operations that are not officially authorized. And also that India in 2001 was planning a much bigger land grab operation that was only foiled by attacks in New York and Virginia by al-Qaeda.

The realization that we are no different from the “wicked” and that we too have our “sinister plans” is not conducive for war mongering.

All of the following material is taken from Happymon Jacob’s important study of ceasefire violations along LOC, Line on Fire.

1. Jacob’s says that “Pervez Musharraf’s former colleague, Lt Gen. (Retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kiani, once stated: ‘I am not sure from where he (Sharif) came to know, but it wasn’t through the army and the Kargil operation was kept secret from Nawaz Sharif.’ Sartaj Aziz, a minister in Sharif’s cabinet, also confirms this in his book.”

Pakistani Army’s plan was to apply the finders keepers rule during the winter when Indian forces left their posts. There was only a tacit understanding and never an agreement that both sides would disengage the posts during winter. Jacob says that, “the Kargil operation was initiated as a series of limited tactical actions that normally would not require prior political authorization. But, spurred on by the local and personal ambitions of a very small coterie who did not foresee battlefield dynamics, this limited objective ballooned into an unintended and unplanned strategic provocation, something the military leadership suddenly found as being untenable. It is possible that the political leadership came into the picture at this stage, and without an understanding of the gravity of the situation, endorsed further actions.”

Pakistan did want to change the status quo and if successful would have cause more loss of lives and the conflict might have expanded to other sectors, heightening the nuclear risks. But the fact is it was not a “sinister plan” of Pakistani government but a military tactical operation, to gain more bargaining power over India, that by their calculations went wrong.

2. Jacob quotes Force magazine’s Pravin Sawhney’s 2014 article which says that “on 22 January 2000, fighting in the Chhamb sector left 16 Pakistani soldiers dead. While both sides blamed one another, the truth was that Indian troops, in strength, attacked a Pakistani post and overran it. Similar instances occurred in Akhnoor, Mendhar, Kotli, Naushera and Pallanwala between January and August 2000.” Jacob adds that, “during the previous year (2000), local units of the (Indian) army, with the tacit understanding and green signal from the army’s higher ups, had ‘adopted a calibrated offensive action across’ the LoC ‘to sanitise areas of infiltration’ on the Pakistani side.”

These were land grab operations which “by either side along the LoC in J&K is nothing new” Usually small scale but sometime medium scales. One of such medium scale Ops was Pakistan’s Kargil attempt and the other was Indian Op Kabaddi.

3. Op Kabaddi was primarily planned by the GOC-in-C of Northern Command of the Indian Army, Gen. Nanavatty. It would “include a wide spectrum of evolving punitive operations such as the execution of deliberate fire assaults to destroy military and terrorist points, and area targets across the LoC; ambushes and raids across the LOC; and company, battalion, and brigade-sized deliberate offensive attacks to capture objectives of tactical importance across the LoC that would improve the Indian Army’s counter-insurgency (CI) posture.”

When Jacob asked ‘How was the 2001 operation different from the Kargil operation by Pakistan?’ Gen. Nanavatty responded, ‘Not very different.’

The Operation, given its flexible nature had no start or end date but was supposed to start soon after 1st Sept 2001. The green light from Delhi came hours before the Twin Towers fell. And given Pakistan’s role under USA’s Afghan policy the Indian Army decided not to go forward.

Nanavatty told Jacob:

“With the world, including Pakistan, seemingly united in its anti-terror stance, any unilateral military action by us against Pakistan would be viewed unfavorably by the international community and be seen as taking advantage of the situation to settle scores on the side lines. I did not recommend the launch of offensive operations until the situation became clearer.”

International pressure and al-Qaeda stopped India from initiating an offensive land grab Op., while the Kargil campaign, at least initially, was targeted at an empty and limited posts.  Jacob and I am sure any one who thinks about this will wonders how would have things developed if Operation Kabaddi was not aborted. Would it have creeped into conflicts in other sectors? What about nuclear risks?

When we look beyond the “reality” conducive to state interests it is hard to find anything more “wicked” and “sinister” than the realization and the preparation of War.

On Tangible Pacifism

Monday, May 25th, 2020

“Whether the State is called monarchy or republic, crime will always be necessary to maintain and assure its triumph. This crime will no doubt change its direction and object, but its nature will remain the same. It will always be the forced and abiding violation of justice and of honesty – for the good of the State”. – Mikhail Bakunin

This piece was prompted by reading Eric Laursens’ The Duty to Stand Aside, a study of the dialogue that took place during WW2 between George Orwell and anarchist-pacifist Alex Comfort. Orwell argued that after a point the only way of defeating Nazism was supporting the Allies in the effort and that pacifism at this point practically meant taking a pro-Nazi stance. Comfort on the other hand thought the task of the intellectuals, even at that time was to bring to light the crimes that the Allies (“our side”) were committing and to oppose this militarization of society and fighting the spread of Nazi’s by supporting the local militias and not through formal soldiers engaging in battles. The debate continued till Orwell’s death, years after the war had formally ended. And answering the agonizing questions of the role of intellectuals, peace activists and the society of the nation engaged in organized violence are still as urgent as they were 60 years ago.

I consider myself to be a pacifist with a “p” and not a “P”. I think pacifism is derived from a genuine moral value and a value that all anarchists share, that conflicts should not be resolved through violent means. That all forms of violence in an unequal society serves the interests of the powerful and that a believe that conflicts can be resolved through means of force will ultimately lead to new forms of despotism or strengthen the old. But, i realize that this is one of the many moral values that anarchists and all humans share and in the reality values are often at conflict. And if by standing firmly for one value we forsake other (a position with capital “P”)  – say, the value of human life, which might in a particular circumstance be only protected through some violent means  then, it is nothing more than a selfish act that makes us feel good.

These, then, are some of my thoughts on a rational and pacifist position on question of violence:

1. Structural Pacifism:  Violence, more often then not, is a means of maintaining violence. The power system establishing, maintaining and expanding itself by means of force (and “engineering of consent”.)  Lets take states, they are by definition organization and concentration of violence in a society. They is justified and legitimized by images of a chaotic stateless society, where people cannot organize production, distribute services and goods and maintain welfare for all. So, a Leviathan is needed. This state then, through institution of violence and its threat creates a straitjacket for maintenance of its power and power of private capital. Through this imagined fear of chaos a very real violence of poverty and control is established that further creates alienation and aggression. Any serious pacifist cannot ignore these facts. The long term goal and vision of all pacifists must be a creation of society which is not based on inequalities, violence as a means of social regulation and conflict resolution. That means a society without the state, the caste system, capitalism, military and other structural forms of violence.

2. Particular instances of  necessary criminality:  Outside philosophy conference rooms and in a world of real consequences for real human beings there is no question of “should we oppose violence”? There is only the following questions:

a. In the particular context are the purported reasons for using violent means correct and justified? Driven by what (vulgarized) value?
b. Is some form of violence the only possible means through which the justified end result is sought?
c. Is the current form of violence the only possible form that can attain the results?

There are also questions like, what structural conditions have led us to a situation where we need some form of force to achieve this goal?

Even the most radical anarchist or pacifist regularly participate in the institutions of structural violence, for example, reporting robbery of your motorbike to a cop or purchasing an mobile phone. The value of being able to communicate with friends and colleagues in this particular case outweighs the value of not engaging in capitalist violence. The same principles applies in many other conflicts.

Within the current society, we have to survive, try to achieve a good life and struggle to build a new society by creating alternative structure of self management.  And in order to survive, struggle and organize we might at time use these very institutions, at time critically justify them for particular cases and at times defy them when they are in absolute contradiction to humanity, our wellbeing and survival – we have a duty to resist unjust laws and “just laws” being used unjustly.

In last few years, USA has withdrawn its support for Kurdish fighters who defeated ISIS in northern Syria. (Kurdish militias picking up arms was itself a largely justified act in face of barbarism of Daesh.) People like Noam Chomsky have argued that non-combatant USA troops should stay in the region and help the Kurdish forces. This is seen as a support for NATO and American imperialism by many commentators on the left.

Kurds beings dependent on US military for technical and air support is sign of a structural problem. But within this structural problem this particularly less lethal form of military assistance was essential for the Kurds who were threatened by being crushed by the Turkish forces.

This being said, it is important to note that such conditions where violence from powerful institutions like state can be a means for a peaceful end are extremely rare. In almost all cases, the seizing of state violence and opening up channels of dialogue would considerably eliminate violence on the planet – and the threat of nuclear annihilation. 

In Kashmir, it is very clear that the ongoing counter-insurgency operations will not end violence of pro-independence groups, or bring peace and prosperity to the valley. It is a tactic of brutally crushing the people of Kashmir. The Doval doctrine, which was described in 2010 by the current NSA to be:

“Don’t overreact, don’t give in, don’t follow appeasement, it [2010 protests] will pass off. It looks big in the midst of it, they cannot sustain it beyond a point and even if they do there is a price that they have to pay.” “In the game of power the ultimate justice lies with the one who is strong”.

The ethos of the State.

The violence in Kashmir is not a military issue, it is a political issue and a matter of grievances and political alienation of the betrayed and tortured people of the land. Like the Kurdish militants and any violent Independence struggle there is some justification for armed rebellion in Kashmir, this time against the barbarism of Indian state. And it will easily loose its traction and popular support if the Indian occupation ends. (And if not, there is a threat of further militarization of the Kashmiri society like the Adivasis in parts of active Naxal insurgency.) There will be many questions to resolve in the process, only possible through resolving the political problem and holding a plebiscite. There will also be the questions of “Pakistani aggression” in the region that can be solved with trilateral dialogues and confidence building and economic collaborations. But this much is clear, there is no justification either for the ends or the means that India seeks in Kashmir.

Coming back to the Orwell-Comfort dialogue, I believe Orwell was right in that after a point in the events of WW2 it was necessary for Allies to engage militarily. But Comfort was also right in that the duty of intellectuals and activists still lies on exposing the lies and fabrications of their own states to examine whether the purported threats are real, and are the means uses are proportionate and if there are nonviolent and more democratic alternatives available and at the same time recording the crimes of our side in hope for some justice or for same uncertain reason that Winston Smith started writing his diary.

To a large extent, these questions will remain intangible if there is no peace and disarmament movement tied with other popular struggles to make any pacifism and anti-militarism a reality. 

Of Petals and Pellets: Perception Management of Violence

Sunday, May 3rd, 2020

The institution that in rest of the world is known for pelleting hospitals and civilians in Kashmir today dropped petals over hospital in India. Militarism’s direct and indirect toll on health of the people in parts of North East and Red Corridor but most significantly in Kashmir is massive. From instances of attacking hospital ambulances to torturing and maiming civilians. The regular curfews but, more sharply since the August last year combined with the internet shutdown create an unprecedented health crisis in the valley.

Today’s military operation is part of a long history of military propaganda campaigns. This one being particularly milder and weaker. The goal of these operations is to project the military as a strong and powerful force that not only crushes the “enemies” but also supports the civilian population in time of calamities.  As explained below, well planned propaganda operations rely on hiding facts and even fabrications and lies to consciously shape the population’s perception and behavior. What is achieved is war mongering society that  sees war crimes and occupation as necessary and forgets their own economic concerns in fight against “the enemies.”

During the second world war when the so-called “Japanese inspired fifth column” of Indian soldiers, who became part of nationalist military groups and were fighting the Allies, the British Indian Army formed “Josh Groups”. In the meetings of the Josh Groups stories were circulated within the British Indian troops of Japanese atrocities on Prisoners of War and the occupied countries, as well as associate the INA troops to these atrocities.

“Josh is the strongest and most effective counter-propaganda method yet involved to combat the Japanese Intelligence offensive… it is the morale counter-offensive weapon against these dangerous activities”
(Indian National Army and Free Burma Army, Vol. 1.)

It is helpful to quote in full what the General Headquarters said it entails:

“Josh Groups are intended to:
(a) build in every Indian soldier the knowledge and firm faith that the Japanese and everyone who represents the Japanese are his own personal enemies;
(b) introduce stories of our victories against the Japanese and so turn the conversation around to the topic of why the Japanese are India’s enemies and why and how they will be defeated;
(c) introduce stories of the bravery of Indian soldiers in action and his comradeship-in-arms with his Allies;
(d) utilize entertainment, radios, dramas, information rooms, picture layouts etc., to bring home to the sepoy, through every medium that strikes his imagination, the existence of his chief enemy – the Japanese;
(e) inoculate the Indian soldier with a sound factual basis of true knowledge so that false rumours and brazen lies spread by Japanese, Jifs and Japanese agents can be easily shown as such.”

The INA is now celebrated for its heroism in the struggle against the British. So, it isn’t as much about the moral content of who is being demonized but whether it is in our interest to do so? And the lessons of containing these “dangerous activities” (i.e. questioning if our killing of thousands makes any sense or, are we actually the good guys after all) have always stayed in the Indian armed forces. But after the transfer of power, when the offensive that needed combating was no longer from the Japanese but from its own population, which might get involved in these “dangerous activities” of questioning the defense budget, the arms buildup, war mongering to sideline economic issues. So, we became a Josh Nation.

And its effectiveness can be tested by asking a simple question: whether people of this country have a “firm faith that the Pakistan and everyone who represents the Pakistanis are their own personal enemies”?

It’s not just the responsibility of the armed forces, any more, to maintain the Josh Nation but the mass media and political discourse in general is a means of maintaining it.

But within the armed forces it takes the formal form of Joint Doctrine for Perception Management and Psychological Operations of the Headquarters of Integrated Defense Staff. It starts with noting that “conflict is a struggle of wills, which takes place in peoples’ minds.” It says, “it is necessary to understand the motivation of… populations in order to shape their perceptions, affect their will to continue the conflict.” It also concedes that “the ingredients that are untrue are brought out in a manner so as to nullify element of doubt that has been knowingly / unknowingly crept into the information” – in other words, lies and fabrications. (All quotes are from 2010 Doctrine.)

Military Psychological Operations in India need a more detailed study but returning to today’s operation the Doctrine note that “image of Armed Forces for the internal audience is required to be subtly projected as a tough, focused force, offering swift and firm action not only to the enemies of the nation but also for care and protection of our countrymen when no other system can provide succour.”

Today’s “morale counter-offensive” of Josh Nation is in line with building support for state policies at large and image management for the armed forces. The whole activity is more ironic and saddening because it is precisely because of the MiGs and Sukhois that are showering petals over the hospitals the nurses and doctors inside these hospitals do not have protective gears and ventilators. Because a Josh Nation spends 4 times higher on military than it does on health. And because a similar exercise happened in USA few days ago all the bastion of Indian liberal media can tell the PM is that “a little originality would be appreciated.”

Caravan Magazine’s report on Indian armed forces’ silencing of journalists in Kashmir

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020