A win-win strategy

A follow-up to the previous blogpost on a politically attractive anti-Maoist strategy.

Today’s Hindu has a brilliant piece by Praveen Swami explaining in great detail, and in a very rational manner, that the only way to secure victory against the Maoists is to build the local police forces and establish intelligence collection mechanisms at grassroots level. In theory, no one can disagree with the solution prescribed by the venerable journalist. But as with most such security solutions, these steps will take substantial time to implement and an even greater time to show results on ground. This strategy might be a Win strategy for the security professionals  but it is not a Win strategy for the politicians; because security goals are mid- to long-term while political goals — read electoral gains — are short-term in nature.

As explained in this blogpost yesterday, any anti-Maoist strategy has to be a Win-Win strategy for both the politicians and the security professionals. Any such strategy thus has to meet the following inviolable benchmarks: it must visibly stall the momentum of the Maoist onslaught with irreversible gains; the political class must be able to demonstrate successful results from the security strategy in a very short span of time; and it must allow the security forces to seamlessly build upon and reinforce the initial success. In response to the suggested strategy of security operations moving outwards in concentric circles like an oil drop, a couple of issues about the strategy have been flagged by commenters such as ex-R&AW chief Vikram Sood,  and my fellow blogger Retributions.

Retributions raised the very pertinent issue that as the state concentrates its forces in the designated target districts, it will provide an attractive target for the Maoists to launch their attacks in other districts. This danger exists but it needs to be borne in mind that other districts aren’t being completely denuded of security forces. These districts already suffer from insufficient forces but these security forces will now have to conduct counter-terror operations only to disrupt the Maoists. This will not be easy but it is far easier to disrupt the Maoists than to destroy them with limited forces, provided they have access to better intelligence. If there are setbacks, which will inevitably occur as Maoists retaliate to increasing pressure from the security forces, the government will have to manage the environment with a smart Strategic Communication strategy which focuses on the success of the state in the target district and highlights the desperation of the Maoists in launching their attacks.

There are a couple of issues raised by Mr Sood that deserve to be highlighted. His first point is the availability of the administrative resources to govern the target districts once the state has secured them, after clearing them of the Maoists. This should not be a problem for the first few districts where the state government can easily muster up the number of administrative and governance professionals from its cadre. Once the strategy progresses, the states will have no option but to regenerate the capacity for governance in its administrative cadre. A short-term solution to overcome this deficit has been proposed earlier at Pragati — to raise a new agency called CIMPCOR (Civilian Military Partnership for Conflict Resolution) for undertaking development in conflict-ridden environments. While the state governments would have to address the issue in the initial districts, the central government could raise and employ CIMPCOR for developmental work in the later districts as security operations move outwards.

The second issue raised by Mr Sood is of cultivating local intelligence. It is a challenge in any counterinsurgency but previous experience shows that once momentum seems to perceptibly shift towards the security forces, better intelligence is available to the government forces. This would need a strong push from the states and the centre which will have to progress concurrent to another step essential to the success of this strategy — police reforms.

The most substantive question though comes from Smita Prakash, Editor (News), Asian News International. Ms Prakash avers that it is not incumbent upon the security professionals and the media to make it worthwhile for politicians to accept a course of action. The political leadership has been elected to render national service and it is their bounden duty to do the right thing. While this is a noble and attractive thought, it ignores the Clausewitzean dictum that war is also politics by other means. Thus it is equally incumbent upon the security professionals to take note of the political considerations, while advising the political leadership or proposing a security strategy to the government.

An intellectual exercise in a political vacuum to devise a security strategy may be fit for seminars, conferences and professional journals but it will achieve little progress in the real-world of political decision-making. Moreover, as the situation stands today, the greatest challenge for this nation is to generate the political will to kick-start security operations against the Maoists immediately. If the political leadership is unwilling or unable to back the security professionals without any reservations, other stakeholders in the process have to find ways to force the political leadership to take the right decision. It may not be the ideal way of going about such things but it is certainly the most practical and pragmatic response to the current crisis. And it is surely in the national interest.

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4 Responses to A win-win strategy

  1. as June 2, 2010 at 6:51 am #

    Read this, also in Hindu.Maos have already started the revolution!!
    Is the Nation in a coma induced by cancerous corruption?
    Monday, May 31, Business Line: The Hindu Group by Mohan Murti
    Europeans believe that Indian leaders are too blinded by new wealth and deceit to comprehend that the day will come when the have-nots will hit the streets.

    A few days ago I was in a panel discussion on mergers and acquisitions in Frankfurt, Germany, organised by Euroforum and The Handelsblatt, one of the most prestigious newspapers in German-speaking Europe.

    The other panellists were senior officials of two of the largest carmakers and two top insurance companies — all German multinationals operating in India.

    The panel discussion was moderated by a professor from the esteemed European Business School. The hall had an audience that exceeded a hundred well-known European CEOs. I was the only Indian.

    After the panel discussion, the floor was open for questions. That was when my “moment of truth” turned into an hour of shame, embarrassment — when the participants fired questions and made remarks on their experiences with the evil of corruption in India.

    The awkwardness and humiliation I went through reminded of The Moment of Truth, the popular Anglo-American game. The more questions I answered truthfully, the more the questions get tougher. Tougher here means more embarrassing.

    European disquiet
    Questions ranged from “Is your nation in a coma?”, the corruption in judiciary, the possible impeachment of a judge, the 2G scam and to the money parked illegally in tax havens.

    It is a fact that the problem of corruption in India has assumed enormous and embarrassing proportions in recent years, although it has been with us for decades. The questions and the debate that followed in the panel discussion was indicative of the European disquiet. At the end of the Q&A session, I surmised Europeans perceive India to be at one of those junctures where tripping over the precipice cannot be ruled out.

    Let me substantiate this further with what the European media has to say in recent days.

    In a popular prime-time television discussion in Germany, the panellist, a member of the German Parliament quoting a blog said: “If all the scams of the last five years are added up, they are likely to rival and exceed the British colonial loot of India of about a trillion dollars.”

    Banana Republic
    One German business daily which wrote an editorial on India said: “India is becoming a Banana Republic instead of being an economic superpower. To get the cut motion designated out, assurances are made to political allays. Special treatment is promised at the expense of the people. So, Ms Mayawati who is Chief Minister of the most densely inhabited state, is calmed when an intelligence agency probe is scrapped. The multi-million dollars fodder scam by another former chief minister wielding enormous power is put in cold storage. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chairs over this kind of unparalleled loot.”

    An article in a French newspaper titled “Playing the Game, Indian Style” wrote: “Investigations into the shadowy financial deals of the Indian cricket league have revealed a web of transactions across tax havens like Switzerland, the Virgin Islands, Mauritius and Cyprus.” In the same article, the name of one Hassan Ali of Pune is mentioned as operating with his wife a one-billion-dollar illegal Swiss account with “sanction of the Indian regime”.

    A third story narrated in the damaging article is that of the former chief minister of Jharkhand, Madhu Koda, who was reported to have funds in various tax havens that were partly used to buy mines in Liberia. “Unfortunately, the Indian public do not know the status of that enquiry,” the article concluded.

    “In the nastiest business scam in Indian records (Satyam) the government adroitly covered up the political aspects of the swindle — predominantly involving real estate,” wrote an Austrian newspaper. “If the Indian Prime Minister knows nothing about these scandals, he is ignorant of ground realities and does not deserve to be Prime Minister. If he does, is he a collaborator in crime?”

    The Telegraph of the UK reported the 2G scam saying: “Naturally, India’s elephantine legal system will ensure culpability, is delayed.”

    Blinded by wealth
    This seems true. In the European mind, caricature of a typical Indian encompasses qualities of falsification, telling lies, being fraudulent, dishonest, corrupt, arrogant, boastful, speaking loudly and bothering others in public places or, while travelling, swindling when the slightest of opportunity arises and spreading rumours about others. The list is truly incessant.

    My father, who is 81 years old, is utterly frustrated, shocked and disgruntled with whatever is happening and said in a recent discussion that our country’s motto should truly be Asatyameva Jayete.

    Europeans believe that Indian leaders in politics and business are so blissfully blinded by the new, sometimes ill-gotten, wealth and deceit that they are living in defiance, insolence and denial to comprehend that the day will come, sooner than later, when the have-nots would hit the streets.

    In a way, it seems to have already started with the monstrous and grotesque acts of the Maoists. And, when that rot occurs, not one political turncoat will escape being lynched.

    The drumbeats for these rebellions are going to get louder and louder as our leaders refuse to listen to the voices of the people. Eventually, it will lead to a revolution that will spill to streets across the whole of India, I fear.

    Perhaps we are the architects of our own misfortune. It is our sab chalta hai (everything goes) attitude that has allowed people to mislead us with impunity. No wonder Aesop said. “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to high office.”
    (The author is former Europe Director, CII, and lives in Cologne, Germany. blfeedbackatthehindudotcodotin)
    Is the nation in a coma?

    Moderator comment
    Truly a sad state of affairs. The vast majority of patriotic and law abiding citizens of India will hang his head in shame and shed a few tears. The thought like that of the French Revolution in the 21st century is mind boggling and beyond one’s comprehension! Are then the Maoists and Naxals prelude to the predicted Revolution? Can this revolutionary threat be doused by the Indian Corruption Inc

  2. ashok June 2, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    as!! Never read a more hard hitting and sadening post. It reallly sinks. With your permission I am going to preserve this post and circulate it. What pass have we come to. Is this the day for which our forefathers shed their blood to get us independence. It will be long before the echos of this post in the mind die down. But what do we do to get out of this??

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