This is what happens when authors become analysts.

Soham

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In defence of the PM


Recently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani and they made a joint statement de-linking terror and bilateral talks. A massive reaction followed. The media, desperate for sensational news items so they can compete with the reality shows, ran several stories on how we had not shown a ‘firm’ hand and the statement was seen as a loss of national pride. Our MPs, eager to leave Parliament like college students wanting to bunk classes, staged several walkouts (by the way, where do they walk out to?).

Our attitude shows we really don’t want to reconcile with Pakistan. Sure, we’d like relations to be better but deep down there is resentment and anger. More than anything else, we want to teach Pakistan a lesson. We want to put them in their place. Bashing Pakistan is considered patriotic. It also makes for great politics.

We may feel our PM made a mistake by agreeing to talk to them before resolving the Mumbai terror attacks case. However, let me tell you this — whether we talk to Pakistan or not, we are extraordinarily involved with them. We can cut off all contact; our leaders can exchange dirty looks with theirs and pretend they don’t exist. However, every single Indian’s future is linked to Pakistan and we all pay our dues in keeping the fight going. The reason is our defence budget. At Rs 140,000 crore (up to per cent this year), this is the most expensive government spending item, most of which is because of Pakistan.

For patriotic reasons, defence spends are never questioned. After all, how can you question spending money on soldiers who give up their lives on the border? However, the bigger question is, did they have to give up their lives in the first place? And the second issue we need to understand is, for the amount we spend on defence, what are we giving up?

Yes, there is idealism in saying — ‘we must have a strong army’. However, we are a poor nation. When you are poor, you need to be practical too. I think all Indians must have a re-think about three areas before we arrive at a consensus on our defence strategy.

Foreign policy: Our foreign policy document is not a statement of national ego. It is a document that should articulate how we can best use our relationships with the outside world for the benefit of the country. Forget politicians — I want to ask my fellow Indians — how badly do we want Kashmir? At the cost of making colleges for the young generation in the country? At the cost of not doing irrigation projects for our farmers? At the cost of not building roads and power plants? At the cost of living in high inflation forever? Because, even though it may not be obvious, these items are linked. The budget for defence is more than all the above items put together. Our government doesn’t have unlimited money, so what’s better? Keep the fight going and prevent progress — or, do what it takes to make peace, and use the money to build a stronger nation. The foreign policy document can play a big role in that.

Strategic defence alliance: The new globalised world has interlinked economies like never before. Nobody does it all by themselves. We can have an alliance with another nation if the aim of defence is to protect our borders. For instance, America has a big need to ensure safety of its own borders and cut global terrorism. We can work with them — yes, by giving them some access to our country. For us, it can save costs of protecting ourselves. For them, they have a better control over a volatile region. We may shudder at the presence of American involvement in our defence, but frankly what advantage could they gain against us if they help us protect our borders? In this technology-driven age, do you really think America doesn’t have the information or capability to launch an attack against India? Neither do they want to attack us. They have much to gain from our potential market for American products and cheap outsourcing. Well, let’s outsource some of our defence to them, make them feel secure and save money for us. Having a rich, strong friend rarely hurt anyone.

Good, old-fashioned peace: The land of Buddha and Gandhi seems to have lost its peace goals. We want talk to Pakistan — but more to put them in their place and shove our point of view down their throat. Frankly, such defiance may win claps from an audience in a cinema hall, but is no attitude for peace. We may think Pakistan is always wrong and we deserve Kashmir — but when we are in a negotiation, we have to give the other party some room. We may not be happy about it, but we can learn to live with it.

We need to have peace not only because it is a good thing — but also because we can’t afford to fight or stay prepared to fight for the next 20 years. We are hiring more security guards outside the house when there isn’t money to put the kids in school. The defence budget has to be controlled and with the right policies and attitudes, we can. Money spent on bullets doesn’t give returns, money spent on better infrastructure does.

And maybe that’s what our Prime Minister had in mind when he continued the dialogue. At least the optimist in me hopes so.

Chetan Bhagat’s latest book is The Three Mistakes of My Life.


In defence of the PM- Hindustan Times
 

Soham

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Well... this is what happens when "story-tellers" become defence analysts.
The male version of Arundhati Roy is up and running.

While I love two of his books, this is outrageous.

Instead of realizing that our military needs to modernize, for which the defence spendings are justified, this guy is connecting the funds to building of colleges.
After these many years in India, doesn't he realize that the problem of poverty has everything to do with distribution and not fund accumulation ?

Inflation ?
Invite the noble Americans to patrol our streets ?
Peace ? Give back Kashmir in return for development ? The soft attitude has already cost us enough.
Someone needs to get this fact down his head.
 

Daredevil

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He is better off writing about his new book - "Fourth mistake of my life" :D:p
 

Flint

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At the risk of becoming highly unpopular, I will partially defend PM Manmohan Singh's actions. The fact is that displaying a belligerent attitude (in public) towards Pakistan by our various Prime Ministers has not got us anywhere.

Its time to move beyond this bickering. I think we are powerful enough to crush any misadventure by Pakistan. No need to bark when you can bite.

If you know the basics of how politics work, you will realize that if Manmohan Singh displays hostility towards Pakistan, then his counterpart will have to do the same, in order to please his domestic audience. Extending a hand of friendship at this point of time might just enable Zardari to take the sort of steps that may result in a decrease in our headaches.
 

Soham

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At the risk of becoming highly unpopular, I will partially defend PM Manmohan Singh's actions. The fact is that displaying a belligerent attitude (in public) towards Pakistan by our various Prime Ministers has not got us anywhere.

Its time to move beyond this bickering. I think we are powerful enough to crush any misadventure by Pakistan. No need to bark when you can bite.

If you know the basics of how politics work, you will realize that if Manmohan Singh displays hostility towards Pakistan, then his counterpart will have to do the same, in order to please his domestic audience. Extending a hand of friendship at this point of time might just enable Zardari to take the sort of steps that may result in a decrease in our headaches.
I'm not against Manmohan Singh's decision. Its too late to act hard with Pakistan anyway, the world has already forgotten 26/11.
However, I'm very much against the reasons, the great Chetan Bhagat is offering to cut down on defence expenditure, give back Kashmir and invite the selfless US/NATO forces to take over the responsibility of our security.
 

Daredevil

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At the risk of becoming highly unpopular, I will partially defend PM Manmohan Singh's actions. The fact is that displaying a belligerent attitude (in public) towards Pakistan by our various Prime Ministers has not got us anywhere.
I completely disagree with you. Lahore peace bus didn't lead us anywhere either. We got a Kargil as gift.

Its time to move beyond this bickering. I think we are powerful enough to crush any misadventure by Pakistan. No need to bark when you can bite.
It is not bickering if you ask your enemy country to not perpetrate terrorism and kill our country men. But the message MMS sent is "you keep killing our country men, we will keep talking peace with you and both these issues are not inter-linked"

If you know the basics of how politics work, you will realize that if Manmohan Singh displays hostility towards Pakistan, then his counterpart will have to do the same, in order to please his domestic audience. Extending a hand of friendship at this point of time might just enable Zardari to take the sort of steps that may result in a decrease in our headaches.
Zardari can do squat, so does Gilani. It is Pakistani Army all the way when it comes to India.
 

Flint

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It is not bickering if you ask your enemy country to not perpetrate terrorism and kill our country men. But the message MMS sent is "you keep killing our country men, we will keep talking peace with you and both these issues are not inter-linked"
Think about it DD. If Indian PM continues to accuse Pakistan, and Pakistan continues to stubbornly deny everything, are we heading anywhere?

Zardari can do squat, so does Gilani. It is Pakistani Army all the way when it comes to India.
If that is your understanding, the the obvious conclusion would be that the only solution is to utterly crush and dismember the Pakistani army. Is that a feasible outcome?

IMO, we need to talk sweet, and push buttons within Pakistan in order to bring about changes that would be favourable to India. Squabbling over the mass media is not going to get us what we want.
 

Flint

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I'm not against Manmohan Singh's decision. Its too late to act hard with Pakistan anyway, the world has already forgotten 26/11.
However, I'm very much against the reasons, the great Chetan Bhagat is offering to cut down on defence expenditure, give back Kashmir and invite the selfless US/NATO forces to take over the responsibility of our security.
I am certainly not defending Chetan Bhagat's criticism of our defence expenditure.
Rather, I am simply taking his side as far as supporting Manmohan Singh's overtures to Pakistan.
 

Soham

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Think about it DD. If Indian PM continues to accuse Pakistan, and Pakistan continues to stubbornly deny everything, are we heading anywhere?
No we won't. Accusing Pakistan never has and never will make a difference. Acting against them however, will.

If that is your understanding, the the obvious conclusion would be that the only solution is to utterly crush and dismember the Pakistani army. Is that a feasible outcome?
No. Dismemberment of the Pakistani Army is not an option at all. However eliminating certain key officials involved in the chain, would do well to disrupt the export of terrorists to India.

This war needs to be fought on an intelligence level, like the French Intelligence fought the 'Organisation de l'armée secrète'(OAS), the Mossad infiltrated Arab terrorist groups and the CIA established an intelligence network with AQ and Taliban.
I don't propose support to Baluchis, I merely propose elimination of "links" even if it means 'eliminating' certain ISI/PA officials.
 

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In this technology-driven age, do you really think America doesn’t have the information or capability to launch an attack against India? Neither do they want to attack us.
A very short sighted opinion.The US has the capability to launch an attack against anyone it depends on their interests and weather they're in jeopardy.Should we entrust our fate to them because they have the bigger military.Roll over and do tricks?
And would the Americans provide this security out of the goodness of their hearts?
 

Flint

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No. Dismemberment of the Pakistani Army is not an option at all. However eliminating certain key officials involved in the chain, would do well to disrupt the export of terrorists to India.

This war needs to be fought on an intelligence level, like the French Intelligence fought the 'Organisation de l'armée secrète'(OAS), the Mossad infiltrated Arab terrorist groups and the CIA established an intelligence network with AQ and Taliban.
I don't propose support to Baluchis, I merely propose elimination of "links" even if it means 'eliminating' certain ISI/PA officials.
That is precisely what I mean by "pushing the right buttons", but without dangerously destabilizing the neighboring country. However, there IMO is a good possibility that, given the political room, Zardari himself will be able to reign in the rogue elements within Pakistan.
 

Dark Sorrow

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I am in support of our foriegn policy towards Pakistan. The current policy states that "As much as possible ignore Pakistan ".
Mr. Singh should remember that he is a economist and not a foriegn policy/military advisor and must behave accordingly.
I respect Mr. Singh very much but i would have to say he put me down in this.
 

Daredevil

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Think about it DD. If Indian PM continues to accuse Pakistan, and Pakistan continues to stubbornly deny everything, are we heading anywhere?
Don't accuse, but at least tell that talks will begin only after the punishment of the culprits behind the mumbai attacks. But, he went on to delink talks and their sincerity in punishing culprits. This is not acceptable.

Despite the hand of Pakistan and its army behind Kargil, Kandahar hijack episode, parliament attack, mumbai blasts, mumbai attacks, we did nothing to punish for their crimes and it keeps on continuing. We are being seen as wimps not only by Pakistan but by world at large.

If that is your understanding, the the obvious conclusion would be that the only solution is to utterly crush and dismember the Pakistani army. Is that a feasible outcome?
Pakistani Army needs a spanking from India for it to behave. I believe that peace talks will not lead us anywhere and never led anywhere in the past. We need to make it prohibitively costly for Pakistan to carry out any more terrorist attacks in India. Khalistan movement and blasts in Karachi/Lahore rings any bells?.

IMO, we need to talk sweet, and push buttons within Pakistan in order to bring about changes that would be favourable to India. Squabbling over the mass media is not going to get us what we want.
We can do all the sweet talk we want but don't appear as if we are appeasing them or we are to be taken lightly. And, as I see it now, we are appeasing them and we are being taken lightly by Pakistan.
 

sky

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Those who you yearn for peace and at the same time question the wisdom in spending so much money on defence,dont learn lessons history has taught us.weak nations are taken advantage off,we live in a rough neighbough hood next to pak and china.both wont to see india fail,both countrys support groups that under mine our security and sovereignty.
futhermore if india is to be taken seriously as a world power,it must have the ability to defend itself and others from rouge states
 

Dark Sorrow

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Those who you yearn for peace and at the same time question the wisdom in spending so much money on defence,dont learn lessons history has taught us.weak nations are taken advantage off,we live in a rough neighbough hood next to pak and china.both wont to see india fail,both countrys support groups that under mine our security and sovereignty.
futhermore if india is to be taken seriously as a world power,it must have the ability to defend itself and others from rouge states
Couldn't be said in a better way.
I would just ask the author to read and understand the motto of Defence Forum of India.
 

Flint

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Those who you yearn for peace and at the same time question the wisdom in spending so much money on defence,dont learn lessons history has taught us.weak nations are taken advantage off,we live in a rough neighbough hood next to pak and china.both wont to see india fail,both countrys support groups that under mine our security and sovereignty.
futhermore if india is to be taken seriously as a world power,it must have the ability to defend itself and others from rouge states
Sky, as the topic says Chetan Bhagat is an author, not an analyst. He can sit and comfortably opine about our allegedly bloated military budget, while ignoring the fact that its exactly that budget which is protecting not only the borders of India, but our strategic, economic, and ideological interests around the world.
 

sky

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i read india was bringing the maldives into its security net as well as, building a air force base in tajikistan.on top off providing the 2nd largest number of troops for UN peace keeping missions.not to mention the the huge expansion of ships taking place for IN ,so we can assist the us in protecting shipping lanes in IOR. India must and is doing its bit not only to modernise its armed forces but also help its smaller neighbours.a future doctrine of what the indian armed forces will look like by a certain date already exists we cant change the game now,due to cost.it would make us look like fools
 

Soham

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A Review at the most lame points.

:(( SARCASM INTENDED.

However, every single Indian’s future is linked to Pakistan and we all pay our dues in keeping the fight going. The reason is our defence budget. At Rs 140,000 crore (up to per cent this year), this is the most expensive government spending item, most of which is because of Pakistan.
Yes... Lets be peaceful and cut down our defence budget to half. We'll be hailed as peace-loving throughout the world. Thats what matters doesn't it ?
Who cares if two of our neighbours would like nothing better than a weak and vulnerable India.

For patriotic reasons, defence spends are never questioned. After all, how can you question spending money on soldiers who give up their lives on the border? However, the bigger question is, did they have to give up their lives in the first place? And the second issue we need to understand is, for the amount we spend on defence, what are we giving up?

Yes, there is idealism in saying — ‘we must have a strong army’. However, we are a poor nation. When you are poor, you need to be practical too. I think all Indians must have a re-think about three areas before we arrive at a consensus on our defence strategy.
So according to Mr. Bhagat, they shouldn't have given up their lives in the first place, who cares if Pakistanis came and sat down at the Indian peaks and conveniently began to target our highways.

I want to ask my fellow Indians — how badly do we want Kashmir? At the cost of making colleges for the young generation in the country? At the cost of not doing irrigation projects for our farmers? At the cost of not building roads and power plants? At the cost of living in high inflation forever? Because, even though it may not be obvious, these items are linked. The budget for defence is more than all the above items put together. Our government doesn’t have unlimited money, so what’s better? Keep the fight going and prevent progress — or, do what it takes to make peace, and use the money to build a stronger nation. The foreign policy document can play a big role in that.
Why should we even want Kashmir ? If Pakistan wants it, just give it to them!
Giving is the greatest virtue !
And just think about it... we can make so many more colleges if we give Kashmir ! Isn't that cool ?

For instance, America has a big need to ensure safety of its own borders and cut global terrorism. We can work with them — yes, by giving them some access to our country. For us, it can save costs of protecting ourselves. For them, they have a better control over a volatile region. We may shudder at the presence of American involvement in our defence, but frankly what advantage could they gain against us if they help us protect our borders?

In this technology-driven age, do you really think America doesn’t have the information or capability to launch an attack against India? Neither do they want to attack us.
Yes, America is the only country with the right to "cut global terrorism".
We should not interfere. Bad manners. Instead, we should invite them with all their army to our country.

Good, old-fashioned peace: The land of Buddha and Gandhi seems to have lost its peace goals. We want talk to Pakistan — but more to put them in their place and shove our point of view down their throat. Frankly, such defiance may win claps from an audience in a cinema hall, but is no attitude for peace. We may think Pakistan is always wrong and we deserve Kashmir — but when we are in a negotiation, we have to give the other party some room. We may not be happy about it, but we can learn to live with it.
We should not leave our peaceful stand even when the other side is sending suicide bombers to kill our people. Helps in population control, you see ?

We need to have peace not only because it is a good thing — but also because we can’t afford to fight or stay prepared to fight for the next 20 years.
Didn't anyone know we don't have any money to fight a war for the next 20 years ? :eek:
 

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