War is the last option in a civilized world. Wars have never solved any problem anywhere in history, but wars have left indelible scars on the psyche of nations for generations to come. War is costly, and it amounts to shedding the precious blood of innocent people. War creates ‘martyrs’ only to glorify war and to absolve oneself of a guilt complex. This is the massive deception played on the naive populace. We need to see through this game.
We are inheritors of the legacy of the Mahatma who won us freedom from foreign rule using the most imaginative of all forms of protest which is non-violence or satyagraha. So the world does not believe that India is a country that will go to war except as a last resort, after all other options are exhausted. The world respects India for this one great creed of ours which is truth and non-violence.
India and Pakistan have had the proverbial cat and dog relationship for long, but in the real world cats and dogs do co-exist, and have learnt to improve their bilateral relationship. If they can do this, why can’t we? In this age of technology and easy communication, dialogue is not such a difficult option. Is war a better or easier option than dialogue?
Is war-mongering an act of national pride or a simple act of bravado? If the bravado involves other’s sweat and blood, and not one’s own, it’s sheer treachery. This is how politicians look at a situation like the Indo-Pak conflict. One politician of Karnataka was quite candid or naïve enough to publicly state that the recent surgical strike will ensure bulk of the parliamentary seats to his party. This shows how wicked and capricious some politicians can be. A few thousand soldiers’ life is not a big deal for them, if that would ensure them some political gain. In other words the Pulwama tragedy that cost us 40 lives will fetch his party at least half that number of seats in the election. Good arithmetic! He said so in one of his unguarded moments – a Freudian slip? He is now struggling to disown his own statement. How can we trust such leaders, irrespective of which party they belong to?
This is somewhat similar to a leader in Kerala saying at his party conclave that the Sabarimala imbroglio is ‘a golden opportunity for his party’. He also dutifully denied having made such a statement. Even when there is video evidence, they have no qualms about denying what they said even before the ink dries on the report. So much for the politician’s honesty!
The Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has shown remarkable maturity in doing two things. One, he made a public announcement that a war is suicidal for both countries. Two nuclear powers should not take a war lightly. It would amount to colossal destruction, whose impact will take generations to recover from. He has been quite candid about it. Secondly he has unilaterally agreed to release the Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman now held captive in Pakistan. With such gestures and with international pressure on both countries against precipitating any untoward step towards war, India needs to show remarkable restraint.
If in spite of such positive developments, if our political masters show any inclination to egg the defence forces on to action, it will be foolhardy and a colossal mistake. It’s foolish to assume that the people can be won over by escalating the situation on our borders and endangering the lives of our soldiers.
If the government goes ahead with the idea of a war abandoning due processes of peaceful negotiation, it would be letting down the nation.
A war would mean that so many widows and so many orphans will be added to the demography of the nation. A decision should be taken imagining that one of our own family members is there in the chilling borders willing to lay down his life for the country. Everyone responsible for decision making should go through this test. If each of them is prepared to risk the life one of their own ilk, the decision could be near rational, not otherwise.
What does the common man want? Jingoism as opposed to true patriotism is often used to incite the people. Slogans like patriotism and nationalism are used to influence the common folk quite deliberately, hiding the reality of political advantage. This should be remembered. The common man is being influenced by throwing the bait of national pride. However the common man is not that dumb to believe these things. Times have changed. People are capable of reading between the lines. They do not trust the politicians any more. They know that dishonesty and ego-centricity are second nature to most politicians.
Let good will and pragmatism prevail. Hate has never brought any good to anybody. On the other hand, patience and understanding are slow to yield results, but they surely are wiser options in the larger interest of the nation.
(The writer is Director, Little Rock Indian School, Brahmavar, Udupi)
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