Why do we care so little about national security?

In the past 1 year, I have read some very interesting and well written books on how India is defended by its soldiers.

  • Watershed 1967 – India’s Forgotten Victory Over China : by Probal Dasgupta
  • 1962 The War That Wasn’t : by Shiv Kunal Verma
  • Kargil – From Surprise to Victory : by General VP Malik
  • India’s Most Fearless (parts 1 and 2) : by Shiv Aroor and Rahul Singh

Brave men who face nature’s fury, treacherous enemies like Pakistan and China and an indifferent political and civilian population. This has been happening for decades now. These are real life stories of the bravest and most patriotic Indians, post Independence. It takes a lot of courage to withstand an enemy assault, charge into ambushes, hold on to your positions and break into enemy positions. Our patriots do this day in and day out. They are doing it for past 70+ years.

As you read this, regardless of whether we acknowledge or not, thousands of our soldiers are guarding border areas in Jammu & Kashmir, thousands are protecting civilian lives inside J&K, thousands are defending our borders against Chinese incursions in Leh region as well as Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Night temperature goes way below zero. Encounters with Pakistan sponsored terrorists happen almost on a daily basis. Each and every encounter puts the soldiers at high risk.

Indian Army, Intelligence departments, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, Assam Rifles, State Police Departments, CISF .. the list is long. We are talking about lakhs of men and women in uniform in active duty, at harm’s way, every day.

Big question now is – why is the civilian population of this country has so little knowledge and interest in national security?

Ask yourself these questions.

  • How did India manage to fight with Pakistani invaders in 1948?
  • How was the nation unified, especially Sikkim, Goa, Hyderabad?
  • Why India got exposed to Chinese aggression? (Hint – Tibet)
  • Why and what exactly happened in the 1962 war?
  • Why and what exactly happened in the 1965 war?
  • Why and what exactly happened in the 1971 war?
  • Why and what exactly happened in the 1999 Kargil war?
  • How did China manage to interfere in India’s territorial integrity, continuously for 70 years?
  • When you hear / read that a Soldier was killed in action in Kashmir, do you spend time to understand what caused the incident? What do you even know about the unrest in Kashmir?
  • When you hear some terrorists were killed in an Army operation, do you even know the risks that were involved in such an operation? The risks our soldiers take every day?
  • CRPF men gets killed in an ambush in Chhattisgarh. Do you even know how horrible and tragic that news is? The risk these men took in defending India’s Constitution in those hostile areas?

Sadly, we do not think about these at all. For us civilians, national security means nothing. We outsourced national security to few people, paid our taxes to fund it, and that’s it. We are done. Is it not a matter of shame that we have so little knowledge of the bravery and sacrifices needed to keep our borders secure?

Lets look into some of the areas where we fail to pay attention to national security.

State level politics

The biggest and most ungrateful section of Indian population are the State level politicians. Can you think of any State level politician who has a vision and strong views on national security? Apart from making a statement when a major incident happens at the border, none of the politicians rise above their State level politics. TRS, TDP, AIADMK, DMK, CPI, JDU, BJD, SS, SAD, SP, BSP, RJD and the never ending list of State level political parties.

None of these political leaders have any views or comments on defending the country. No wonder the message to their constituents is never about national security. They talk endlessly about caste, religion, region, politics and other divisions in society. The average citizen who relies on these State level politicians for guidance never gets to know anything about the tough security situation the country is going through.

Literature, news and entertainment

There is very little literature present in public domain that is focused on national security and the bravery of our soldiers in hostile conditions. Apart from few retired Army officers, no one writes any books on this topic. Print and Electronic media does a decent job of highlighting the situation at border but their attention span on such issues is very short. The moment there is a different news, these media outlets simply move on. Ungrateful souls! Looks at this headline from a noted media outlet – https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/mphil-dropout-named-as-new-hizbul-chief-in-kashmir-after-security-forces-kill-saifullah-mir-in-encounter/678629 Disgraceful. Some how it is important to show the human side of a terrorist, even when that person has taken an oath to kills Indian soldiers. There are many other media outlets who do a similar thing.

India’s movie industry is the biggest betrayer of nation security related subjects. We have a 70+ years conflict with China. We have a similar long conflict with Pakistan. For past 30 years, 10s of 1000s of people were killed in Kashmir, including soldiers and civilians. Naxal violence in the heart of India is another challenge to national security. So is the militancy in North Eastern part of India. How many of these conflicts have been the background of major movies in India? In any language? Hardly any.

Real soldiers, not the reel ones

The few movies which do touch this topic are so poorly made that they make a mockery of what a conflict situation unravels. Fighting terrorists is not done in slow motion shots where the protagonist can evade 100s of bullets and kill all enemies with a small pistol. What movies feed us in India is absolute nonsense. It is very important for movie makers to present a realistic picture of what happens in an Army operation. Cordon and search, Combing, Setting up Ambush, Area domination exercise, Defending immovable assets, Patrolling, Managing checkpoints, etc. None of these processes matter our dumb movie makers.

It is a matter of shame that Indian movie industry, with all its creative talent, have failed miserably to make movies on such an important area.

Education

The constant turmoil that India has gone through and is going through hardly finds any mention in our Education sector. As a student, more time is spent learning about what happened 500 years back and very little on what happened in past 50 years. Mughals are still our heroes.

If we do not make our children aware of the national security challenges at an early stage, how do we expect them to grow up with a mindset that is essential to defend the nation?

Here is an easy example to understand. Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and others… heard of them, right? All great cricketers? Do you think they woke up one day, at the age of 18, and decided to become cricketers? NO! They starter playing the game ever since they were 8 years old. Same applies to national security. That awareness and exposure to the challenges faced by the nation should be made aware to children in a form that makes sense for their age.

Social, cultural and religious fabric

In India, our communities and families are built on strong cultural bonds. Religion plays a crucial role and keeping people together and ensuring a semblance of security and predictability. As a nation, the past 200 years have been a period where there is very little focus on defending the country. No attempt is made to make national security a part of our social fabric. Apart from a public holiday in entire year, we do not celebrate anything that makes us grateful to the men and women who are defending us. Fathers do not tell their kids stories of our heroes who are defending us against our enemies in hostile conditions. Everyone is lost in two types of races: a race for survival or a race for growth. In both the races, it is “self” that is paramount and nation has very little to do.

Our over reliance on religion is turning out to be our biggest weakness. We believe that religion will protect us automatically. We believe in intents rather than actions.

Religion should unite us, it should be a force multiplier and not a replacement for our duty towards national security.

Trade and commerce

Do you know what is a Most Favored Nation (MFN) in world trade? Read this. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/slate/all-you-wanted-to-know-aboutep/article26501686.ece.

Now, MFN is given to countries that you want to partner with, trust them and hope for mutual prosperity. India had MFN status for Pakistan up until 2019. Is that not atrocious? A country that is responsible for 1000s of killings in India is still perceived as MFN by our own politicians, businesses and civilians? What about those 1000s who lost their lives due to Pakistan sponsored terrorism? Did they die in “friendly” fire? This is the state of our seriousness when it comes to national security. Our trade and commerce has not sensitivity towards the sacrifices being made to defend the nation that they call their home.

Another example. China’s transgressions into India and their constant conflicts with our border forces are going on for 70 years now. India-Tibet border is a major flashpoint. We lost a war to China in 1962, gave them a bloody nose in 1967, fought multiple low intensity battles and the Galwan flashpoint in 2020 where India lost 20 soldiers. Despite these hostilities with a rogue China for 70 years, today we have a thriving trade relationship with them. 70% of mobile phones sold in India are Chinese mobiles. We depend on China heavily in electronics, pharma and even toys. What happened to the sensibilities of our policy makers? Why did we allow a situation to reach this stage that we have no regrets doing business with our worst enemy? As civilians, why do we think it is out duty towards the nation to not buy products that are Made In China? Is it that hard? Or, have we become so selfish and insensitive towards national security?

Our annual imports from China in 2019 have literally funded the yearly budget of China PLA.

It is time we think one level above our self benefits. A country of our size, with the type of neighbours we have and the diversity we have within, needs a very strong approach to national security. Unfortunately, we are no where close to that. However, the situation is not all that difficult to change. Teach your kids from an early stage about national security issues. Tell them that in entire world, they have only one identity – INDIAN. Not their castes, not their gender, not their social status, not their religion – what matters the most is their nationality.

Please do share if you have any views in the comments section below. Or, you can tweet me @VijayIvaturi.

Image courtesy – https://www.indianarmy.nic.in/home

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s