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'Indian army is being politicized'

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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Addressing the top commanders of the three services at the Combined Commanders Conference in Gujarat's Kevadia, on March 6, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for enhancing indigenization in the armed forces, not just in sourcing equipment and weapons but also in the doctrines, procedures and customs practiced in the three services.

The Print pointed out that it was not immediately clear what old practices and customs the PM spoke against as the forces draw their traditions from the British era. "Indigenization of British practices has been a focus area over the past few years, especially since the Modi government came to power in 2014. Military personnel now increasingly greet each other with 'Jai Hind' rather than with 'Good Morning', 'Good Afternoon' or 'Good Evening'."

However, Pravin Sawhney, a prominent defense analyst said that the suggestion of Modi is simply Hinduazation of army. "Now in what shape it will show up in the Indian Army I don't know but my worry is where is the professionalism?"

In a talk on his YouTube channel, the editor of Force Magazine, pointed out that there are lot of retired generals today who are vocal, who are saying that the politicization of the Indian army should be stopped. "My response to them is that the Indian army is politicized and this happened in 2014" when Modi's rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power.

The first result of politicization of army was seen in the so-called surgical strike against Pakistan in 2016. The Director General of Military Operations General Ranbhir Singh, in a press conference the day after the so-called surgical strike, said that this was done against terrorists. "Terrorist is a non-military target. You do surgical strike against legitimate military targets," Sawhney said.

It may be recalled that on September 29, 2016, India announced that it conducted "surgical strikes" against militant launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, and inflicted "significant casualties". The so-called surgical strikes came 11 days after militants attacked an army base near the town of Uri, in Indian controlled Kashmir, killed 19 soldiers. India accused Jaish-e-Muhammad, a Pakistan-based militant group for the attack. Pakistan rejected the surgical strikes claim and said India was deliberately escalating conflict. The Pakistan Army said that there had only been "cross border firing".

On the anniversary of this surgical strike, the government celebrated, what the government call it Vijay Parbha, where at 53 locations in the country it was celebrated as victory and Prime Minister Modi went to Jodhpure station to participate, Sawhney pointed out.

Balakot air attacks

So once we have done this it was only natural that the Indian Air Force would go and do Balakot air attacks in 2019 which they called operation Bander, Swahny said adding: Now again you are taking the airforce to hit non military targets, these are terrorists which are being hit. You are unable to do any damage assessment, you are unable to bring back and tell us the terrorists you have killed. You get that night from an area where the radar coverage of the enemy is minimal. No country can have 24/7 radar coverage unless a threat or a war is imminent. No country does that. So went in, we did this, and there was no damage assessment.

"The next day when Pakistan Air Force retaliated, with their operation Swift Retort, it was done in broad day light, we accepted that this was an act of war, we did nothing. The point here is very simple, then came to light thereafter that our electronic warfare was weak, our communication was jammed by the Pakistan Air Force. The Indian Air Force did not have the networks, they still don't have the air-born networks, they don't have the space networking." It may be added that an Indian warplane was shot down and its pilot was taken prisoner by Pakistan but returned within few days.

Hindu Rashtra within 2025

Going back to Prime Minister Modi's statement about enhancing indigenization in the armed forces, it may be pointed out that these remarks were made in the background of a strong movement to declare India a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation). The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an offshoot of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is holding Hindu Rashtra Conventions since 2012. The 9th such convention was held in August 2020 which urged the Modi government to amend the constitution by replacing the word 'Secular' with 'Spiritual', in addition to declaring India a 'Hindu Rashtra'.

Not surprisingly, in January 2018, a senior member of the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh, Surendra Singh, said that India will become a ''Hindu Rashtra'' in 2024, the year, when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will be completing 100 years of its establishment.

It may be pointed out that Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a member of the extremist RSS, assassinated the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi in January 1948.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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