The Surgical Strike and After

Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and their acolytes have perhaps nothing else to fall back upon except the well-worn cliche of patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism is their last resort. Also, to most of them patriotism means Pakistan-bashing. This explains why the Indian armed forces' surgical strike against supposed Pakistan-backed militants has been propagated with a zeal the like of which was never heard of before. Similar surgical strikes were made by earlier governments too, but without such propaganda. Narendra Modi, however, prefers to call it a great act of patriotism and to go on raising the anti-Pakistan war cry. The 'patriots' are claiming that they can wipe out Pakistan from the map of the world. Maybe it is not a false claim. But such war-mongering, if taken to their heights in action, will do a damage to India from which no amount of patriotism dished out by Modi can rescue the country, in case the Pakistani army decides to launch a nuclear counter-offensive in self-defense. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chieftains have even attributed the 'success' of the surgical strike to the teaching of the Rashtriya Sayamsevak Sangh (RSS). It may be recalled that during the days of British rule, the RSS ideologues acted as lackeys of the British by exhorting Hindus, who formed the majority religious community, not to fight the British and instead to fight Muslims, Christians and Communists. By an ironic turn of wheel, today patriotism is their battle cry. The reason is self evident; Narendra Modi has failed to deliver on his promises made with much fanfare during his electoral campaign of 2014. The economy remains on a downturn, the blusters about bringing in the black money deposited abroad have proved to be empty rhetoric, the promise of giving handsome jobs to aspiring youths is far from reaching fulfilment. Dalits have revolted against Hindu fanaticism, and sensible people all over India are decrying the naked, brazen aggressive majoritarianism. And although Modi has succeeded in opening up the gates of the defence, insurance and banking sectors to foreign capital, this has exposed the inherent hypocrisy in his logic of nationalism. Hence Modi needs a fresh weapon in order to retain his credibility and at the same time create a communal polarization. The coming UP assembly polls are breathing over his neck. The weapon is anti-Pakistan war hysteria. It is not that earlier governments always desired sincerely to have a relation of peace and friendship with Pakistan, but the pitch of the present hysteria is unprecedented. Aided by the corporate-controlled media, he hopes to spread this hysteria all over the country. The design was witnessed on the eve of the Bihar assembly polls campaign when Amit Shah went on telling that a defeat of the BJP would please Pakistan. But this ploy did not then succeed, and now a second round of campaign, centering on a surgical strike, has been launched with much greater ferocity. M S Golwalkar, Modi's ideological guru, was an advocate of the Nazi brand of nationalism, and Modi and Amit Shah, his true disciples, are bent on implementing an Indian version of the Nazi project of nation-building. In Germany, Jews were slaughtered en masse, here the targets are Muslims, Christians, Maoists and Dalits. Of course, there are some efforts for keeping the anti-Dalit offensive within certain limits, necessitated by the urge to win or neutralise at least a portion of dalit votes. This has acquired urgency in view of the coming UP polls.

Although some moreĀ  destruction of human lives in the name of patriotism is probably awaiting the country, it is unlikely that neither the high priest nor the disciples will be able to destroy the great diversity of India which really constitutes the core of Indian nationhood. That is perhaps why Modi finds it compelling to adore Ambedkar and Patel at the same time. Adoration of Patel is understandable because of the basic similarity in class and social outlook, but mention of Ambedkar is crass hypocrisy. The proposed week-long adoration of Patel will not probably acquire momentum in view of this diversity. And Modi's actions regarding Kashmir have further alienated the Kashmiri people and made the material and human cost of keeping Kashmir as an integral part of the Indian Union heavier than before, which has over time led many to view the position of the Government of India on Kashmir with increasing scepticism.

It is now plain that the drive to create and spread the war hysteria is born out of desperation. Modi knows how to ride on the horse of war-mongering. But does he know when to get down? This war hysteria may well devour him and possibly the day is not too long away. If a full-scale war with Pakistan really breaks out, its consequences will gobble up both the warring sides. India's much-vaunted military superiority over Pakistan will then be of no use.

Vol. 49, No.18, Nov 6 - 12, 2016