People paying homage to dead soldiers is not a happy sight. It’s not only because there is something utterly sad about the proceedings but also because the sight brings in a sense of dread. The obvious questions keep haunting the mind: When next? What will be the headcount next time? Surely, countrymen paying emotional farewell to the departed heroes has become too frequent for comfort. The latest followed the killing and mutilation of bodies of two soldiers in the Krishna Ghati sector of the Poonch district.
Every such incident – there have been too many, including brazen attacks on military camps, after the surgical strike on terrorist camps across the border in September last year — is followed by a good deal of chest-thumping and macho talk of revenge, redistribution and a devastating muscular response to Pakistan. Bloodlust spills over in television channels with anchors and experts launching war from the air-conditioned studios. Arguments become missiles and words warheads. Similar talk follows from politicians and every nationalist worth his salt spews venom.
It’s a sick ritual. Looking at it dispassionately one gets the impression that the death of soldiers feeds some sadistic urge in some Indians. Few are worried that soldiers, a precious asset for any country, should be dying in this fashion. There are hardly any questions on whether any action from the political leadership could minimise the occurrence of soldier deaths through sagacious policy intervention.
Perhaps this is the nature of the new normal.
The Kashmir situation makes it clearer. Ever since the killing of Burhan Wani, Hizbul commander and social media rock star in July last year, Kashmir has been on the boil. People in the Valley, particularly the younger generation, appear to have lost the fear of the power of the defence personnel. As they indulge in stone-pelting and take on the latter on streets, the talk in the mainstream media is hardly about getting the situation back to normal. It is the same macho, revenge-seeking talk hiding behind defence personnel all over as the Valley’s youth keeps getting alienated from India.
The new normal seeks no solution.
Closer home, similar is the case with Maoists. The red rebels keep killing CRPF personnel, the latest being the Sukma attack which saw 25 personnel dead. It’s a routine that continues from the UPA days. As the tragic episodes keep repeating what we have is more talk of vendetta and blood-letting. No one is clear where the battle in Bastar is headed; frankly no one appears to be bothered. We would have similar intemperate reaction if, God forbid, another such attack takes place. Meanwhile, the tribal population would suffer, crushed on both sides by Maoists and security forces.
The new normal relishes trouble, in fact, it draws oxygen from it.
It is a state of existence where a pre-decided, unchanging bigger narrative enmeshed in nationalism and religion overwhelms and overpowers all smaller ones. It is not respectful of ground realities or the truth and is bereft of all sense of responsibility and compassion too. Thus it does not matter whether soldiers or para-military forces are being killed needlessly or a region is being alienated or there is a long-term damage to the interest of the country.
Is it sustainable? History suggests in the negative. It amounts to be in denial and living in delusion. Such narratives are common to totalitarian tendencies, common to nationalist-populist dispensations. The approach, combative and devoid of nuances as it, sets nations on course to disaster. In India, the relentless jingoism and war-mongering cannot be an end itself; it has to lead to something. The simple answer to it is war. With sober, reasonable voices drowning out in the nationalist cacophony and the ruling dispensation showing no intent to silence it, there appears to be no other way out. Till that happens, the charade around love for soldiers would continue.
The new normal is fraught with dangerous consequences.
Updated Date: May 04, 2017 16:20 PM