Your edit “Time to act” (Mint, 28 November) was clear and detailed and the question, will India be able to suppress terrorism, is valid. However, the will to do so should not be driven by being a “power”. Quest for power has led the US and China to the state they find themselves in today. Going by common sense estimates, things are only going to get worse for them. Do you seriously think that there is a competition and we should be “powerful” to win it? This perception, created by the media, is in my opinion seriously flawed. We should rather think about harmonious coexistence. There should be no power game across the world and even if there is, we should focus on peace and stability and not power. I hope we all have better sense to prevail through this.
Your turn to talk
I write with reference to the article “For a new civil military order” (Mint, 26 November). That the article has been inspired by civil servants is easily seen. The authors argue that for the service chiefs to be institutionalized as part of the government set-up, their role must be redefined as military advisers with no operational role. But the authors have not stated who will direct the field commanders.
In the US, in 1986, the Goldwater-Nichols Act mandated that the operational control of the services follows a chain of command from the president to the secretary of defence directly to the unified combatant commanders, who have control of all armed forces units in their geographic or function area of responsibility. Thus, the chief of staff of each service only has the responsibility to organize, train and equip their respective service components. The services provide trained forces to the combatant commanders for use as they see fit. The US army is currently undergoing a period of transformation. When it is finished, there will be five geographical commands which will line up with the five geographical unified combatant commands.
So in India, if you take the same analogy, will A.K. Antony and Manmohan Singh direct the field commanders? What a joke.
I liked the articles in the Views section on 4 December, particularly “Exit, voice and urban protests”. What hit home is the line “The Indian elite has already opted out of large parts of our public space, living in gated communities...”
I am living in India for the first time in my life. My parents emigrated from India in 1970 when I was two years old for the very reason I am back here today—opportunity. The difference I see is that my parents left India at a time when that “opportunity” really meant being able to get a good quality education, have a meaningful career, giving their children things that were not obtainable in India, to simply better their lives in ways that were not possible for the middle class in India in the 1970s and 1980s. The opportunity that brought me back is, by and large, financial.
Life is not better in India in the 21st century, the way life was better in the US in the 1970s. Not enough has changed with regard to infrastructure, politics, treatment/advancement of lower classes or education over the past 10 years despite the incredible influx of money and jobs.
Why? Two reasons as I see them—people’s mindsets and the government. So, now the question is, which comes first: Do we need to change mindsets first, or elect a different kind of government first? To change mindsets means another 10-15 years or more, but this is a long-term solution. To change the government is more immediate, but runs the danger of slipping back to where we always end up—corruption, short-term solutions and so on.
I, unfortunately, don’t have the right to vote in India now. I wish I did.
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