Initiative for a new defence
“ India scarcely has ammunition to last one full week in case of a war” scream the newspaper headlines while umpteen television talks and expert debates ceaselessly point out the dismal state of the country’s military preparedness. The air-power is ineffective, the night-vision equipments are faulty, the seas are unguarded and there is an acute paucity of officers at all levels- goes the list of alarming facts supported with chilling statistics which is designed to grip the people with a deep sense of insecurity. From obsolete weaponry to ill-trained soldiers to the faulty machines, the experts would want us to believe that the entire defence establishment is more like a fossilized version of a mammoth troop fit more for march-pasts than a cohesive fighting force capable of protecting the territorial integrity of the nation. The overwhelming verdict of these defence analysts is that the nation’s security is in grave peril.
And when it is a question of national security, you cannot afford to be rationale and ask sensible questions, lest you be branded at the best, as insensitive or at worse, as unpatriotic. So you better sit quite and remain a mute spectator to the bizarre clamour for much more increased defence spending for a nation which is already the largest importer of arms and ammunition in the world. Who cares if half the nation’s children are grossly undernourished and as long as it is willing to go on a shopping spree around the world picking up the latest and most fanciful war toys, you bet it is safely placed in the comity of advanced countries. War against poverty, disease and child mortality are indeed small battles which can be fought some other day in the distant future while at present, we are busy stock piling enough in the barracks to ably fight imagined wars and also win them many times over. The nation could be drained of trillions of dollars in this essential purchase but that is too little a price to pay to instil a sense of security amongst the people many of whom are deprived of life’s essential supplies.
But this clamour for more weapons and other defence equipments is not just a simple case of demand and supply as it is made out to be. It seems , in fact, to be part of a well orchestrated campaign where individual greed, political one-upmanship and entrenched interests of the arms industry converge to build a bogey of threat and defence inadequacy and intimidate the powers-that-be towards higher defence spending. These combined forces have little qualms to use any trick from the book, from manipulating the media to aggressive PR exercises and even influencing research findings, to push their no-so-hidden agenda. And when nations get sucked into this well laid trap and indulge in the catching-up act for defence parity, an unending spiral of weapon acquisition is unleashed. What is good for Paul is not good enough for Peter and this leads to a virtual arms race among neighbouring countries. Sitting over these arms pile, they lecture to each other to do away with their weapons, all for the sake of peace. It is as foolish as a man asking others to hold on to the branch tightly as he runs the blade to cut it down!
Peace, as history would teach us, is seldom achieved through military sophistication and whenever armed might overruled human reason and compassion, the result had been all-round catastrophe, including that for the perpetuator. But when compassion and non-violence were deployed as essential ingredient of statecraft, nations have forged victories over the hearts and minds of the people which in turn ensured abiding peace and tranquillity for centuries over vast lands. One illustrious example of this alternate approach to peace has been the achievements of King Ashoka the Great. Ashoka, in the zenith of his military victory, relinquished arms and became a missionary of peace and built on that edifice an empire so vast and prosperous that it is still considered the golden era in the annals of Indian history. He focused on fostering the humanness of his subjects, created structures and institutions for the flowering of the human spirit and instilled a deep sense of joy and contentment among them. The noble thoughts that his edicts and inscriptions promulgate continue to inspire generations and one of them, The Wheel of Dharma, became the national emblem as Ashoka Chakra, decorating the national flag. Another apostle, the Mahatma Gandhi, freed a vast country from the clutches of the most powerful nation of the time through the method of non-violence which became the tried and tested model for many liberation movements across the world. These great men have lived in the very soil which is now accused of not doing enough to strengthen its armed might!
The doctrine of nuclear deterrence propounds that nuclear weapons would make the world more safer place as nations will eschew wars for fear of a nuclear holocaust. But with all the nukes, nations do spend huge money to build military hardware and still fight many wars. The only deterrence that we need is not Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) but the Wisdom of the Mahatmas to uphold Dharma.
” We must work to change the hearts of men so that we remove the causes of war”
Entry filed under: To reflect.