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Awaken the warrior

July 29, 2010

Claude Arpi
Pioneer (India)
July 27, 2010

A bogus preoccupation with the ideals of ahimsa,
shanti and satya is at the root of the culture of
unreasoning acquiescence that characterises
Indian diplomacy. Air Marshal RK Nehra’s book,
Hinduism and its Military Ethos, mourns the
erosion of Hinduism’s lost ‘warrior mindset’

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 2,300 years and shows that
the loss of the ‘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 fightback, even no major signs of resentment."

According to him, the problem is that India is
"stuck in the bhool-bhulayas (labyrinths) of
ahimsa (non-violence), shanti (peace) and satya (truth)”.

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
civilisation, 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 battlefield (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 Air Marshal 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 Mahmood Qureshi
compared Home Secretary GK Pillai to
Jamaat-ud-Dawa’h chief Hafiz Saeed and complained
that his Indian counterpart Mr SM 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 Mr 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. 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 its rights in Tibet, without getting
even a proper demarcation of its frontier in
return. The Machiavellian Chinese Premier, Mr
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 Marshal Nehra’s theory is that there is
something wrong with the ‘Hindu’ mindset. He
writes: "Out of the recorded Hindu history of
around 2,300 years, Bharat was under jackboots of
slavery for some 1,300 years -- a dubious
record." He tries to analyse: "It is baffling to
see the great Hindu civilisation 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; Air Marshal Nehra himself quotes the
Bhagvad Gita: Hatova prapsyasi swargam jitva
bhoksyase mahim (Slain in battle, you attain
heaven, gaining victory, you enjoy the earth).

But Air Marshal 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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