Sunday, July 11, 2010


By Chitranjan Sawant
I heard of the uncongenial climate in the officers’ mess over a drink. It was named Open Officers Mess because wives, girl friends, an acquaintance for just one-night stand, or even one on Hi and Bye terms were permitted to come with an officer escort and enjoy privileges provided by the facility on payment. Quite a congenial climate that suited one and all. The facility was on the premises of a US Army establishment where officers and their spouses from many countries assembled to undergo some training or the other made available by the Department of Defence of the United States of America. The broad nomenclature was the Military Aid Programme under which America extended its influence globally. It worked well. Never mind if some aid receivers were the worst critics of policies of Uncle Sam.
The phrase uncongenial climate came up in the conversation every now and then when the Vietnam War was discussed. The war was in full swing. Notwithstanding its unpopularity with average Americans, the United States got sucked in more and more as the days passed. The arm-chair politicians clamoured and said “Bring the Boys Home” but the policy makers from the White House to the Pentagon to the Department of States did not know how to handle it. Airports handling MATS (Military Air Transport Service) flights bustled with activities as plane loads of officers and GIs flew out to land at the Saigon airport (now Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam. Wives and girl friends who came to see off the departing personnel painted their lips and cheeks red with lipstick wearing lips. After all, they were leaving from places of congenial climate to jungles and hills of uncongenial climate.
The service personnel drew uncongenial climate allowance that was increased from time to time. It was not the wild life, nor the snakes, nor the leeches nor the scorpions that bothered the servicemen so much as the Vietcong or the rebel guerrillas who popped up from nowhere and wreaked havoc on the US Army convoy. The US convoys also passed through hostile civil population areas who pelted stones on personnel and disappeared in lanes nearby. The unsocial elements who sided with the enemy made the climate most uncongenial.
Fragging was a by-product of a war that was as good as lost. Once the top generals and policy planners lose a war in their minds, the soldiers lose it on the ground in no time. All ranks become irritable by nature and sometimes simple arguments turn into violent fist-fights. The more of such incidents occur, the more chances of total defeat are there. These incidents reflect low morale leading to an abject surrender to an enemy that is ill armed but has high morale. No amount of uncongenial allowance will turn tables on the winning enemy. Fragging, that is soldiers killing fellow soldiers, especially own officers were in evidence in Vietnam. It was a result of crisis in command. There were too many top brass giving orders and too few junior ranks to implement orders in areas of uncongenial climate. It is surmised that the US Army lost the Vietnam War because it was killed by the weight of its own brass, read incompetent senior officers who knew not how to handle battle weary GIs. Thus fratricide became the order of the day. Americans lost the Vietnam War and the global climate continued to be uncongenial – that is now military history to be read by up and coming tacticians and strategists all over the world.
On fulfilment of my mission I returned home in India from the Continental United States. Home sweet Home is not just a cliché. It is indeed soul -touching. I experienced it. What, however, bothered me was the uncongenial climate in different parts of our lovely Bharat. Many a pessimist made matters worse by speculating that the Republic of India was perhaps breaking up because of lack of decisive leadership. Our so-called leaders at the centre were too weak-kneed to withstand the international pressure in the form of Taliban terrorism, Maoist-Naxals, and restive Kashmiri Muslims prodded by Pakistan. The spate of fake currency pumped in by Pakistan to destabilise India made the climate more uncongenial.
Home-coming that was initially sweet was gradually turning into bitter-bite. Let us take stock of situation in our Kashmir first. Once what Firdaus, the renowned Persian poet had written about the Iranian city, Isfahan and the Moghul Emperors had it engraved in their famous garden in Srinagar, Kashmir. It says “O Firdaus, if there is a Heaven on Earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.”Unfortunately, the golden climate of Kashmir has turned into uncongenial climate of Kashmir. The street urchins turned into stone-pelting mobs have made the city unliveable. The unsocial elements have put a fear psychosis into minds of tourists who now shun Kashmir. The political leaders at the State level and also at the Central government level bungled time and again. Trillions of US dollars equivalent Indian rupees poured into the Kashmir valley went into the pockets of a few families. The common man was led astray by Maulvis and Mullahs in the pay of Pakistan and, therefore, preached sedition. Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir sat with the anti-India crowd who burnt the national flag and separatist Huriyat leaders connived with the Islamist forces in driving out the Hindus from Kashmir valley to Jammu, Delhi and other places forcing them to live a life of refugees in their own country.
The telephone intercepts of separatist Kashmiri leaders on the pay-roll of Pakistan, were made available to the Media. It clearly shows that they not only organise stone-pelting youth but also pay them as per their performance. There are stone-pelting specialists who charge more money from the Pakistani agents for fomenting trouble in the valley. It is horrendous but true that these separatist leaders also stage-manage killing of commoners by the security forces to foment trouble. Even when village women die of natural causes, the Huriyat leaders make the death as resultant from rape and torture by the security forces. Riots were stage-managed by the pro-Pakistan elements and the cause was shown as rape of Kashmiri women by the security forces. When the doctors said that there was no evidence of rape, the rabble rousers changed it to attempted rape. Even the moderate leaders among separatists knew that the charges were trumped up. However, in the interest of Pakistan Kashmiri separatists let the attempted rape charge continue to agitate minds of masses. Thus it is crystal clear that Pakistan promotes dirty tricks and violence in Kashmir to destabilise India.
Any political outfit claiming to be India-based would not target passenger trains to kill innocent passengers for no fault of theirs. The police constables being killed in ambush laid by Naxals are poor people. And Naxals profess to protect poor people.
The Naxalite movement has bases in forests, villages and among poor and exploited tribal people. It is partly negligence of governments at various levels to ignore such a massive problem for such a long time. Moreover, there is no coordination between the Central government and the State governments. Thus there is no strategy to tackle the Naxalite problem and the situation is going from bad to worse. The Prime Minister acknowledges Naxalite violence as the biggest threat to the Internal Security but just stops there. No tangible major step has been taken to punish the law breakers and simultaneously wean away the exploited men and women from the violent core group.
All political parties and all governments must put the Nation Above All. If the Government of India fails to hang a criminal sentenced to death by the Supreme Court because the political party in power erroneously jettisons national interest for petty politics of vote bank, take it from me the country is doomed. With a view to saving the sinking ship of the State, all concerned must have only one aim to achieve – Making our country strong and people prosperous. So say NATION ABOVE ALL.
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