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Que sera sera

July 25, 2010

Claude Arpi Blog
July 22, 2010

Que Sera Sera -- Whatever will be, will be. Thus
ends a fascinating book, Hinduism and its
Military Ethos written by Air Marshal RK Nehra.
According to the retired Indian Air Force
officer, it could be the motto of India: The
future is already written, we can’t do anything about it!

At the level of an individual or a nation, the
blind acceptance of the present, as it is and the
future, as it will be can have critical consequences.

Air Marshal Nehra relates one by one the battles
that the Indian nation has gone through for the
past 2300 years and shows that the loss of
‘warrior’ mindset by the country’s leadership has often resulted in slavery.

He explains: "It is equally baffling to see the
ease with which Hindus accepted their slavery.
They adjusted to it with remarkable alacrity,
almost as a duck takes to water. There was no
great national upsurge, no fight back, even no major signs of resentment.”

According to him, the problem is that India is
"stuck in the bhool-bhulayas (blind and dark
alleys) of ahimsa, shanti and satya."

Of course, there is nothing wrong with these
great Indian virtues which have been the ideals
of every Indian for millennia, but the problem
seems to be rather that instead of being the
final goal, the ultimate objective of a
civilization, they have become the means to
achieve this end. Mixing up the goals and the means is the tragedy of India.

Chanting shanti, shanti or speaking of ahimsa on
a battle field (or on the parleys’ table) does
not help to achieve shanti or remove the violent
instincts in the opponent, especially when one faces a rogue one.

Though Nehra restricts himself to military
matters, the mindset described by him also exists
in other fields, particularly in diplomacy.

Take the example of the recent ‘Islamabad talks’.
I was shocked to read the comment of an ‘eminent’
analyst who said that ‘India shone’ in Islamabad.
Why? Because India did not respond to the insults received.

One can understand that the Indian Prime Minister
wants to leave some trace of his passage at Race
Course Road and is ready to take some risk for
that, but why silently accept insults. When
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi
compared Home Secretary GK Pillai to
Jamaat-ud-Dawa Chief Hafiz Sayeed and complained
that his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna took
telephonic instructions from Delhi, the Indian
side only feebly protested. The next day, the
Indian Foreign Secretary even said that the talks were on. Que Sera Sera!

The worst is that Pillai was punished for
standing by ‘satya’, he had just confirmed that
the ISI had been involved ‘from beginning to end’
in the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks: the
Ministry of Home Affairs has now appointed a new spokesperson for the Ministry.

Indian diplomatic blunders would take pages and
pages just to list. One of the biggest, according
to me, was the Panchsheel Agreement through which
India unilaterally surrendered her rights in
Tibet, without getting even a proper demarcation
of her frontier in return. The Machiavellian
Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai enigmatically declared
that all the issues ‘ripe for settlement’ had
been solved. Nobody reacted till several years
later when it was too late (the Chinese had
already built a road through Indian territory, in
the Aksai Chin area of Ladakh).

Air Marshall Nehra’s theory is that there is
something wrong with the ‘Hindu’ mindset. He
writes: "Out of the recorded Hindu history of
around 2300 years, Bharat was under jackboots of
slavery for some 1300 years — a dubious record.”
He tries to analyse: “It is baffling to see the
great Hindu civilization going under with such
extraordinary ease. It would appear that reasons
for Hindu slavery lay in their mind, rather than
in their muscle. The ancient Hindus were a set of
martial people who lived by the sword. Somewhere
along the line, Hindus lost their way and their martial spirit."

One of his conclusions is that "Hindus developed
a deluded sense of dharma under influence of
Buddhism; that was the main reason for their downfall."

Here, I differ with his view. There are many
examples of Buddhist ‘warriors’, defending the
highest Indian values. Even in modern India,
without the Nubra Guards of Colonel Chhewang
Rinchen, who received twice the Mahavir Chakra,
Ladakh would today be under Pakistani occupation.
One could also cite the role of the Ladakh Scouts
during the Kargil conflict or on the Siachen
glacier and the Tibetan Special Frontier Forces
who participated in the Liberation of Bangladesh
in 1971 and several other battles.

For Buddhism (as well as for Hinduism), a
tradition of defending the highest Dharma has
existed; Nehra himself quotes the Bhagavat gita:
hatova prapsyasi swargam jitva bhoksyase mahim
(Slain in battle, You attain Heaven, Gaining victory, You enjoy the earth).

But Nehra is probably right when he says: "Hindus
suffer from bouts of phony morality and bogus
sense of self-righteousness. "All these are
un-military-like attributes, which must be shunned.”

He speaks at length of India’s military campaigns
and India’s lost chances to send back the
invading forces to their Penates. One of the
first ‘blunders’ of Independent India occurred in
January 1948; suddenly the Indian forces stopped
their advances in Kashmir and the raiders were not pushed back to Pakistan.

If one studies history, one discovers that Indian
defeats have always been the result of wrong
interpretation of the Indic spiritual tradition.

However, some Indian leaders did see things
differently. When Hindus were butchered in East
Pakistan during the first months of 1950, the
Government first contemplated strong steps, then
the Prime Minister of Pakistan came to India and
Nehru melted; he signed a Pact with Pakistan; at
that time, Sri Aurobindo argued: “The massacres
in East Bengal still seemed to make war
inevitable and the Indian Government had just
before Nehru's attempt to patch up a compromise
made ready to march its army over the East Bengal
borders once a few preliminaries had been
arranged and war in Kashmir would have inevitably
followed. America and Britain would not have been
able to support Pakistan and [they] had already
intimated their inability to prevent the Indian
Government from taking the only possible course
open to it in face of the massacre. In the
circumstances the end of Pakistan would have been
the certain consequence of war. …Now all this has
changed. After the conclusion of the Pact …no
outbreak of war can take place at least for some
time to come, and, unless the Pact fails, it may
not take place. That may mean in certain
contingencies the indefinite perpetuation of the
existence of Pakistan and the indefinite
postponement of the prospect of any unification of India."

Sixty years later, India is perhaps ‘shining’, but losing battles.

At the end of the day, is it not a problem of
leadership? India has unfortunately only had
leaders who sing: The future's not ours to see! Que sera sera!
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