June 12, 2015
By Ayush Prasad
News channels have been flashing reports that the 21 Para Commandoes of the Indian Army carried out two operations - one along the Mizoram-Nagaland Border and other inside the sovereign territory of Burma. There are reports that it was a joint operation between the Air Force and the Army, while others say that Army used its own helicopter capabilities to launch surgical strikes. Some say that the operation was punitive to avenge the killing of 18 soldiers last week; while others say that it was an operation to prevent another strike within the territory of India.
Whatever may be the actual facts, it is for the first time since January 1990 that Indian Army has conducted a military operation on foreign soil. It can roughly be said that coalition governments in the Centre have avoided usircng Military and had reduced India to a soft state.
Democracy and Military
There seems to be an empirical co-relation between the strength of the mandate and the military aggression. Stronger mandates encourage greater use of the military- Hitler in Germany. Dictators who have an absolute mandate use the military most often.
Any prolonged military conflict becomes unpopular due to the cost - human lives and financial. The capacity of governments with larger mandate to bear that cost is higher. Coalition governments are composed of partners who have a very narrow base and as soon as the action begins to affect any one of that narrow base, they begin to prevent any such action.
Efforts to Solve
The North Eastern part of India has been a troubled region due to the tribal identities and the lack of tolerance to work together with other tribes. A variety of constitutional measures have been undertaken, especially by Rajiv Gandhi's MAJORITY government - Article 371 (A) for Nagaland, Mizoram Accord of 1987, Autonomous Hill/District Councils of Assam, Full Statehood of Arunachal Pradesh etc.
The militancy against the Indian State has continued and is similar to the Naxal Movements among the tribals in Central India. Both of these movements have a wide-range of similarities with the trial uprisings during the British Raj. The Indian State has failed to integrate the tribal in the mainstream political process in India. The fundamental conception of state and citizen seems to differ between the tribals and rest of India.
Stay Careful - India
Though India did a good thing by acting against the militant groups, even on foreign soil; I believe India must be careful. China would react strongly to the violation of sovereign territory of Myanmar. The country may become the next Afghanistan where proxy wars of India and China would be fought like USA and USSR during the cold war.
The Border between India and Myanmar was separated in 1935-37 and tribes are based on both sides. The border is open and upto 16Km there is a free movement of people. And like the naxalites, the militancy camps are not in caves or a separate demarcated enclave. Instead, such camps are in villages where the field serves as both as a foot-ball field and a firing range at different times.
Any violation of human rights, even in the "foreign soil camps" must be dealt with strongly as this has been the biggest grudge against AFSPA, 1957 and the Indian State.
The Presidents of the United States repeatedly clarify that their war is not against Islam but against those who use Islam to carry out acts of terror, the Indian State must explicitly state that the war is against the militant groups and not the tribe that they claim to represent. There has been an absence of a democratic political mobilisation among tribals across India and these militant groups occupy prominent political space. They are not fringe elements for most tribes instead the political mainstay. While military action is important, it is also important to carry out ground level political work.
The saddest thing about India is that the such a large number of its citizens wake up every morning and point a gun towards their own country.
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