I am not fond of Britain for enslaving my country for over two centuries. Though, I know the present-day Britishers probably have no role in the exploits of their forebearers; still, something torments me that all is not right with my attitude towards Britain.
It may not matter to them at all; but yet my heart and soul are reluctant to accept them as a friend of India. Probably; it is due to my own prejudices or possibly I have read more about our struggle for independence and the dubious role played by them. Keeping the J&K issue alive in the UN, years after our independence, the way Gilgit, Skardu and Baltistan were given to Pakistan stealthily and a naïve Nehru looked like a wet cat that has just been deprived of a fat rat by its master (Mountbatten) are just two of the innumerable issues.
I also cannot pardon Britain for blotched-up, mangled mutilation of my country where nearly a million were butchered and 14 million were displaced. I should not blame them fully as Nehru was a naïve strategic pawn whom they exploited and played around with by dangling the charm of Edwina. This love struck widower was nuzzling up to her and drooling to her wishes and continuously sacrificed the interest of our nation.
Whatever be my reservations towards Britain; one thing I cannot fault them is their strategic vision and their ability to build an empire on the foundation of the British Indian Army. The British built and sustained one of the finest war machines in history that got victories in Africa, Mesopotamia, China, Persia, Tibet, Europe, South East Asia, Middle East, Palestine, and enabled them to earn the country the sobriquet:The Sun never sets in the British Empire.
Even in the First World War, they built India Army to 1.4 million and contributed to the victory of Allies. Again, in the Second World War the British Indian Army was built to 2.5 million men and the war against the Axis was won.
Now, what did independent India do with the finest war machine they inherited? It was bungled at the inept hands of Nehru and Krishna Menon. They discredited, starved, truncated, demobilised and decimated it and reduced it to a pale shadow of its former self.
They killed its pride and reduced its pay and kept it out of decision-making orbit. Not a single weapon was added from independence till our defeat in 1962. The only equipment that was bought was Jeeps from Britain when Krishan Menon was the High Commissioner of the country.
He had flouted all the rules and regulations to strike the deal. The deal was not honoured and only 155 jeeps landed in India as Menon had paid most of the money upfront. Nehru did not allow any investigations in the deal. Next, we see that Menon was brought in as the Defence Minister of the country.
This trend of buying defence equipment closely followed by money scam became the trademark policy of Congress for several decades to follow. Every defence purchase had in tow a scam lining the pockets of bureaucrats and politicians.
There was always a symbiotic relationship between the manufacturer, the middlemen, bureaucrats and politicians.This nexus operated so smoothly in later years of the Congress rule as its foundation was laid by great visionaries like Nehru and Krishna Menon.
To cut it short the Armed Forces have been put under Defence Ministers in India, with no knowledge in strategic affairs. Not once has India articulated it's National Security Doctrine’ identifying our Political Aim, Military Objectives, Force Levels of our Adversaries and their objectives in two and half front war and how we are going to use all our instruments of national power to capture our strategic objectives, which in turn will make us achieve our political aim.
Naïve and ignorant and insolent persons like Krishna Menon, St Anthony and Seetharaman have been offloaded on the Armed Forces, where each of them has tried their best to demoralise them as if they were in league with our adversaries.
Krishna Menon ensured the defeat of our nation. Antony starved our forces of weapons and equipment and ensured that the MMRCA aircraft deal languished and caught dust in his cupboard. Volumes will not suffice to write on their misdeeds; hence let me talk about the more recent assault on the Armed Forces by Sitharaman.
Let me give a bit of background: USS Theodore Roosevelt in ‘Sea Control Operations’ in Western Pacific, USS Ronal Reagan based in Yokosuka in Japan, USS Carl Vinson and USS Nimitz both based in Bremerton, Washington have been rendered non-operational as the sailors are infected with Chinese Virus. Each of the four aircraft carriers has over 5000 crew, 80 combat aircraft, over 10 helicopters besides an array of nuclear and conventional missiles and guns capable of engaging targets in the air, space, underwater and on land and sea surface.
About two decades back, I had the good fortune to be conducted on one such carrier and it takes hours just to have an introductory visit to the gigantic combat platform.The Captain of USS Theodore Roosevelt was sacked and Secretary Navy had to resign. (Incidentally, the Secretary Navy is a political appointment of the rank of a junior minister) Hence, four out of eleven aircraft carriers (37 per cent) have been rendered unfit for war without firing a single bullet.
Similarly, the only French Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle has also been rendered non-operational due to Chinese Virus infecting the sailors. Just, visualise the prowess of ‘Biological Warfare!
What does it tell us? The British had always isolated the Armed Forces from Civilian Areas and gave them cantonments where they did not come in contact with locals other than those who were under cantonment administration. It is not to keep them exclusive but in times of such epidemics and pandemics, the ‘fighting forces are preserved’ to meet any external threats to the nation.
Strategically speaking when the entire country is involved in controlling the pandemic it is the opportune time for our adversaries to browbeat us and capture disputed territories. Look at China; after unleashing their Virus across the world, is flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and also against Taiwan with aggressive air and naval intrusions. As late as 10 Apr 2020, Chinese H6 Bombers and J11 Fighters exercised over waters of Taiwan, South West of the island nation.
China has established two administrative districts in South China, both at Xisha (Paracel) and Nanshan (Spratly). Both the archipelagos are disputed and claimed by Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia besides China. On 21 Apr 2020, a Chinese Research Vessel ‘Haiyang Dizhi 8’ intimidated Malaysian Petronas exploration Ship in the South China Sea.
Imagine a scenario if the forces manning the Chinese Borders are afflicted with the Chinese Virus. Thereafter, the Chinese Armed Forces come and intrude into our territory like in 2017 when they had occupied Dokalam Plateau of Bhutan. We also remember the standoff in Sikkim between the PLA and Indian Army. Our forces on the borders need to be reinforced from troops stationed in Cantonments.
They would have to be flown to deal with the Chinese intrusions. Hence, it is of vital importance that the troops in Cantonments have to be preserved form any affliction of the Pandemic. They are the national reserve to stabilise situations all across our frontiers. Each of the formations in peace locations has an operational role to be performed in war.
These forces are tasked for both defensive and offensive operations. The exclusivity of cantonments cannot be overemphasized to preserve the strength of the Armed Forces from Pandemic and other terrorists’ actions that could adversely affect the fighting capabilities of our forces.
It is for this reason that the Britishers had isolated Cantonments to locate troops in peace tenure where they train for future wars. These are under a separate administration and are usually the lungs of the cities. The forces at a moment’s notice are ready to fly to borders to augment forces anywhere across our frontiers.
However, Sitharaman will not comprehend the problem. Her imperiousness had made her blind to reason. She opened up 99 roads in 62 cantonments; citing the Armed Forces did not follow the required procedures in restricting roads to civil traffic. Please see a number of articles and open letters which I had written including one also to the President of India that it was not a rational decision.
Now; Sitharaman; will be solely responsible for the COVID cases in peace stations of the Indian Armed Forces. You have opened the roads indiscriminately and have played around with the security of the nation thus helping our adversaries. Already 80 services COVID patients are in R&R Hospital in Delhi.
If the Chinese wage a ‘Biological Warfare’ against India; the first thing it would want us is to open up the cantonments to spread the ‘Sino Virus’ among fighting troops and incapacitate the country’s fighting potential. This ‘sine qua non’ of the People’s Liberation Army’s operational plan has been fulfilled by Sitharaman two years before the war.
Posterity can only tell whether the Chinese had really launched the Third World War with Covid-19 as its biological weapon? Without firing a single bullet, it has ensured that all its adversaries are reeling under economic depression with millions dying and billions losing their livelihood. All are in the act of begging China for generic medicine, PPE, ventilators and testing kits for survival. Look; how China has turned the tables against all her adversaries?
Notwithstanding the raw deal given I have no doubts that we will pull through. The Army Chief has rightly assessed the situation that the preservation of his fighting troops is his first priority. The Army Chief has launched Operation “Namaste” to isolate his 1.3 million army and preserve his fighting force in view of the pandemic. He also said that their safety is his first responsibility; indeed, the words of a true operational commander; which he really is. He also said “It is my priority to protect my force.
We all will have to stay away from the disease. We will be able to serve the nation when we are away from the disease”. The Chief also assured the families of the soldiers defending Indian borders with China and Pakistan that the Army is taking care of its personnel serving the country in difficult times.
The Army HQ has issued several advisories to its formations to insulate the troops from the disease. He also stressed that in a combat formation the social distancing is not possible and hence in the national interest the combat troops have to be preserved to keep them fighting fit. He also said that it is the duty of the Army to help the government and civil administration.
The Indian Armed forces cannot be a silent spectator of the travails of our nation. They have allocated 8500 doctors and 50000 paramedical staff at the disposal of the country. Over 14 Quarantine centres across the country have been kept ready to take on additional load if required.
The Indian Airforce has evacuated Indians stranded across the globe and brought them to the country and also took care of them in quarantine centres. All Military Hospitals have been geared up to take on COVID afflicted patients. From 7 May, both Indian Navy and Airforce would be deploying their assets and assisting to bring back nearly a million Indians from the Gulf, the US and Europe. The Indian Armed Forces take pride in ‘mission accomplishment’.
It has been fulfilling its mission, in spite of the Ministry of Defence and a few of the inept RMs of the past. At last, we have an RM who is a senior cabinet minister and has his focus in the right place. May I request him to rescind the orders on ‘Opening of Cantonment Roads’ by his predecessor and restore statuesque ante as on 01 Jan 2018. Let us put our country first always and every time!
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')