On psywar and sedition

And demonstrating resolve

Twenty prominent personalities have written an op-ed arguing that India cannot afford to fall victim to a psywar (linkthanks Yazad Jal).

Some stray voices in the media have been questioning, with surprising nonchalance and lack of depth, the wisdom and expediency of retaining Kashmir as a part of India. This matters not because such voices reflect any growing view in our country but because they play into the hands of enemies of the nation. Their suggestions embolden subversive forces both within and outside the country, and encourage our adversaries to entertain the hope that with a little more effort, Kashmir will secede from India.

National will is a critical component of state power. In the absence of military might, psychological warfare is the weapon of choice of a devious adversary to attempt to break national will, and to also confuse and demoralise the Indian state. No nation aspiring to become a major player in global power dynamics can afford to fall victim to such psywar.

India cannot and must not give any signal that could be misinterpreted to mean that its national resolve to preserve its unity and integrity is crumbling. [ExpressBuzz]

They end their piece calling for the Indian government, political parties and people to unequivocally signal a commitment to India’s territorial integrity.

They are right to point out the effect that a perceived weakening of Indian resolve will have in the minds of Kashmiri separatists and Pakistani strategists. As Praveen Swami’s excellent India, Pakistan and the Secret Jihad describes all too clearly, India ends up suffering for the errors of judgement made by deluded Pakistani strategists who are keen to jump at the smallest sign of weakness on India’s part.

While they rightly criticise the media for giving way too much prominence to the “let Kashmir go” perspective, they could well have made these points without criticising the freedom of expression or describing views to the contrary as “seditious”. Actually winning the public debate by prevailing over pro-secessionists (and not by merely shutting them out) can send an even stronger signal to secessionists and deluded Pakistani strategists.

63 thoughts on “On psywar and sedition”

  1. Venkat,

    We are a liberal democracy. But these things are relative. I fully agree that we should be more liberal and more democratic (the two of which militate against each other).

  2. Navneeth:

    Have you verified the authenticity of the links that you provided to substantiate your views on the Indian security forces’ actions in Kashmir?

    One of the links that you provided on the atrocities committed by the Indian forces in Kashmir features videos and “eye witness anecdotes” by one William Wayne Baker, described as the founder of “CAMP” – acronym for “Christians and Muslims for Peace”. Here’s a blurb on William Baker published in the Orange County Weekly (CA, USA). Here is an excerpt:

    Though he was listed as “Dr. William Baker” in the conference program, Baker has no doctorate of any kind; officials of Oxford University in England disputed Baker’s claim that he did graduate work there. Baker claimed to have attended another graduate program that turned out to have been a six-unit freshman field trip.

    In 1984, Baker was national chairman of Costa Mesa-based Holocaust denier Willis Carto’s [neo-nazi] Populist Party, whose platform called for the repeal of U.S. civil rights laws. Baker now states that, although he planned his party’s national convention, he had no knowledge of its platform or ideology.

    Check it out for yourself. Why should I believe what this fellow says about the happenings in Kashmir? I have not researched the backgrounds of the authors of the rest of the videos, so I will reserve my comments on these.

    I am not asserting that the Indian security forces have been angels. Police brutality is not uncommon across India, and with time and effort, we can produce videos in support. Kashmir is not an isolated instance. There are investigations of such incidents, and as often in India and elsewhere, these are slow processes, and for a good reason. Meanwhile jumping to conclusions based on flimsy and self-serving “evidence” is dangerous, to say the least.

  3. Sud & Nitin

    I am not contesting the fact whether we are *really* a liberal democracy. Indices show we are not as liberal as the world/ west wants us to be, so why should we care what the world/west would think if we undertake some strict actions against rioters/sufi saints/ seditionists/ Anti-nationals across our country? Come what may, we should defend out sovereignity [a word oft-repeated in articles and news channels these days lol]

  4. @RationalFool: Thank you for bringing this to light. But I hope you don’t think that William Baker or his Neo-Nazi stand, proven or unproven, is the issue here. I am no position to defend or accuse him. Many Kashmiris may believe that even 9/11 was a Jewish conspiracy and I find that as absurd as holocaust deniers. I find the burqa system absurd too, just like I find it absurd why Narinder Modi or Raj Thackery keep publicly adoring Hitler. But getting into that is muddling the issues because we are talking about the actions of our military forces in Kashmir.

    I hope your position is not that because of an unrelated (to this discussion) issue of William Baker, all evidence and testimonies of Kashmiris are lies. Various Human Rights groups, Amnesty International and independent studies have all presented enough evidence of what Indian Troops are doing in Kashmir.

  5. The impartial, non-political, dedicated, disciplined Indian Army,

    which is helpless against malicious propagandists, ironically mainly by the home-bred variety – who are gleefully indulging in deriving sadistic pleasures by painting red the whole force for the action of a few miscreants almost two decade ago, mind you I am not justifying any wrong doings, as it is, the Army is not supposed to be used for internal state matters, but to defend boundaries against potential enemies & they are trained to kill & not for social law & order maintenances, nor do they possess lawful rights or privileges to defend their prestige against blatant lies from the civil society nor the power to issue orders or articulate draconian acts-they just obediently follow instructions from the civil society representatives duly elected by the people, who exploit their commitment to the nation for ulterior motives & to cover up their own failures , thus perceiving this neutral force as representatives from a particular religion or committing atrocities on their own accord is just not done, the ultimate fault in a democracy lies on the shoulder of it’s citizens.

  6. Navneet:
    I am aware of the reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. I have stated my position on this topic in the last paragraph of my comment. Armies and security forces around the world —American, Chinese, German, Pakistani, Russian, and that of just about every kingdom in history — have been accused, rightly and wrongly, of excesses. The Indian Army is no exception.

    Two points: first, it’s prudent to be wary of the motives of the accusing parties. Seemingly neutral agencies may not be so neutral, after all. These agencies may be going out of the way to find evidence that corroborate their world views and ideologies. They are not scientists, who seek evidence that would falsify their hypotheses.

    Second, investigations into the unlawful behavior and rights abuses by institutions that put the lives of their personnel on line, to protect the lives, liberties, and properties of others, ought not to be taken lightly or politicized. Failure to do so risks undermining the confidence of the citizenry in these institutions, endangering the freedom that we all cherish, the freedom that allows Nitin to post this article, you to accuse the Indian Army of abuse, and me to critique your views.

  7. Btw, I didn’t reference the OCW article to bring in Mr. Baker’s neo-nazi background to bear on this discussion. The fellow seems to be a charlatan, flasifying his credentials, and a carpetbagger, going whichever way the wind blows. His report on Kashmir cannot be taken seriously.

  8. Navneet
    For your past, present and future posts which may include ANYTHING about NGOs, HR Activists etc, my response is

  9. Navneet –
    You must have missed my query [#47]. Do take a peek at it and let me know your answer, please.

  10. “concept of sedition incongruous in a liberal democracy”

    Nitin, I am not so sure. While it’s hard case to make that talking heads on TV are seditious, there are plenty of instances when sedition and treacherous acts such taking up arms against the state or supplying info/arms to enemy state engaged in war are perfectly valid charges in a liberal democracy . It’s another matter if the state actually pursues those charges against, say, when maoists or islamic terrorists are caught and tried – I think Bharatiya state most surely does in such cases.

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