Bharat Burning Due to Thousand Cuts from Within!

Riots, not peaceful protests, by and large, are premeditated and organized by political adversaries who have a large number of criminals and goondas in their fold.

NewsBharati    20-Jun-2022 14:45:51 PM   
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Bharat is burning or bleeding depending on the eyes of the beholder. The popular myth that "Nero fiddled while Rome burned" appears quite apt to the current internal crises proliferation engulfing the nation.

Pan-India riots, under the garb of the Right to Protest of Article 19, have erupted against the "Agnipith" reforms long overdue in the armed forces. Let none suffer from illusion over instigators of riots. Riots, not peaceful protests, by and large, are premeditated and organized by political adversaries who have a large number of criminals and goondas in their fold. Rival political parties in pursuit of power, partisan media on pay rolls - editors, anchors, party spokespersons, partisan panelists - are indulging, invoking, and justifying endlessly the riot to protest challenging the government to retract from implementing every single reform under the garb of Article 19 of the Constitution.

Rival opposition parties are preparing the stage to carry forward their protests to the winter session of the Parliament. And, the partisan media and their caged panelists are bound to sensationalize their proceedings. Intellect is not required to predict sine die adjournment of the Parliament. All of them fail to realize that the "Brand Image" of India and also capitals like Hyderabad as the most investor-friendly locales suffer an irretrievable loss that is bound to turn away prospective investors.
Bharat Burning Due to Thousand Cuts from Within Agnipath

Be that as it may, the Supreme Court must take suo motto notice of the riots and order an inquiry/investigation to trace and track the provocateurs and their political affiliations responsible for the riots and destruction of public properties. As per initial reports in Hyderabad, an ex-serviceman running a Defense Academy to train aspirants to join the Armed Forces is responsible for the mayhem in the Secunderabad Railway Station. Surely, the political affiliation of the organization and its members must be established. The fact that the TRS cadres were in the forefront of the final procession of the casualty in the Secunderabad riots in Warangal provides the complicity of political parties.

All those who indulged in the riots at the Secunderabad Railway Station and also in all other States must be identified from the CCTV camera footage and prominently displayed at all the recruiting rally's/centers debarring them from entry into the armed forces. For such indiscipline rioters can turn into mutineers in the armed forces which can be disastrous to the armed forces.

More important to note, the bizarre statements made by Sonia Gandhi, uncrowned Empress of India and Rahul Gandhi, prince and PM-in-waiting justifying the protests, over Agnipith reforms fully knowing that they were violent riots. Her latest assurance appearing in the media to provide all rioters with jobs in the armed forces is quite outlandish considering only 60,000 is the annual intake. Not to be seen left behind, Arvind Kejriwal, self styled Anarchist, justifies violent protests, more aptly riots, and written to the government to withdraw the Agnipith reforms and allow the youth to serve their entire life. Other political rivals and even some allies of the BJP are also justifying violent protests.

In hindsight, mankind is traversing a historic age of protest. India is no exception. It is largely ascribed or attributed to democratic failure, rising inequality, good jobs, a clean planet, corruption, labor conditions and reforms in public services with a meaningful say in the decisions that affect their quality of life. And, leaders in government and business are not listening. Negotiation, conciliation and consensus, critical factors to sustain democracy, are an anathema in today's vicious politics.

In reality, riots, but not peaceful protests, are on the rise in modern India. At the "drop of a coin" political parties and their gangs are out on the streets indulging in violent riots and menace to the common man. Quite apparently, violent riots in the name of protests appear to be incited and provoked by rival political parties to malign the long overdue reforms of the archaic "recruiting system".

The trend of protests, more aptly riots, is transforming increasingly from local to pan-India. Some of the examples of the last three years include: the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh; the farmers’ year-long protest against the three farm laws from 2020 to 2021. Various protests concurrently held during the recent past include Enforcement Directorates summons to Rahul Gandhi, Gold Scam in Kerala, Assam Floods and pan India Muslim protests over Nupur Sharma's remarks. And, the blame for riots squarely rests on the rival political parties and associations hell bent upon remaining and/or reclaiming power by "hook or crook'.

Worrisome is the nature and character of protests, more aptly riots, increasingly becoming defiant and destructive. In few cases, the violence on the streets stems from a deep sense of despair and helplessness that things never change. New communication technologies and media platforms are not only raising awareness but triggering them.

Also, the triggers vary from situation to situation. Slogans like “Azadi, Save Citizenship, Save Constitution, Save Democracy etc.,” are used to incite, instigate and provoke protests to turn into riots. After all, there is too much “Azadi” on grand display. One can get away with abusing the Prime Minister, vandalize public and private properties (contra good Citizen), burning the Constitution and murder democracy. Defaced, mutilated and destroyed are the “Four Pillars of the Constitution” over the past 72 years. In the name of democracy, neo-dynasties have taken over the reins of modern India.

Let me define the typology of protests includes: acrimonious media debates; lawsuits; rallies or demonstrations; fast unto death; self-immolation; candle light vigils; picket; boycott; civil disobedience; rail and rasta rokos; strikes, slow down and lockouts; street plays/songs; motorcades; information distribution; attacks by instigators, melees, mob violence and vandalism; and the “Stone Pelting” against the law and order machinery.

Currently, under the garb of protests, mobs are indulging in riots characterized by violent clashes, particularly stone-pelting and even hurling bombs and firing against law and order forces, vandalism, and destruction of public and private property. They equip themselves with stones for pelting, tires for burning, makeshift protective gear, donning bicycle helmets, gas masks and goggles et. Meanwhile, governments to contain the rise in violence use strong-arm tactics and arrest activists and journalists. If there is a crackdown by law enforcement agencies, their perpetrators level charges of "political vendetta" and "Murder of Democracy" to further galvanize dissent.

In retrospect, what can one expect from Delhi recognized historically as the "capital of intrigue, treachery and corruption." Also, other States capitals too are not to be left far behind in perpetrating vicious politics particularly if they are ruled by rival opposition political parties. So, none should expect sanity to be restored and endured for too long.

Ipso facto, political parties led by dynasty families, erstwhile feudal lords and Neo-Maharajahs consider it their divine right to rule. When they are out of power, they indulge in vicious political games and gimmicks - ways and means as part of strategy - unmindful of its costs to the nation.

"One person’s democracy is another person’s autocracy", is also real. In particular, when democracy stands hijacked by goondocracy and mobocracy. After all, all alike without exception are "Chanakyan" in their conception and execution. Its natural fallout is escalation and proliferation of riots all over; but not peaceful protests guaranteed under Article 19 of Constitution.

Surely, destruction of public properties, perhaps running into 100's of crores, in the name of protests, is condemnable instead of justifying them. Since political parties and their leaders do not anymore use trains, it does not hurt or pinch them. Sooner than later, youth may also turn their wrath or ire and indulge in violent riots against airports and SUVs of political leaders. For example, the vandalism of Deputy Chief Minister home and the lady BJP MLAs car portend future prospects in a more destructive ways.

Setting such "bad precedents" like violent riots damaging public properties is past time or hobby of political parties. They fail to realize that they are opening the lid of riot "genie (a spirit depicted traditionally imprisoned within a bottle or oil lamp" thereby creating "Frankenstein's", who may also be released against them on the rebound by rival political parties to engulf them.

Lessons from the French and Russian Revolutions (1789-1799 and 1917–1923) are good examples of the mayhem by rioters against the ruling classes if the political parties continue to incite, excite and justify the violence and destruction by gangs of supporters or disgruntled and frustrated youth.

Undeniably, protest movements world over are influencing protestors in India, to adopt various means, including stone pelting, to vent frustrations on various issues. Rumors, fake, fraud and paid coverage over visual media channels are quite common. Political leaders and parties are experts in exploiting such events by provoking, inciting and actively abetting violence, chaos, and anarchy. Mobilization of crowds and mobs for the protests today has gone commercial. By paying Rs. 500-700 per day plus Biriyani, snacks and tea for each individual including free bus ride to the place of protest are the means employed. Even a group of 50-100 people can successfully undertake Rasta and Rail Roko's.

And, the foreign-funded paid partisan visual media with utter disregard to unity and integrity of India combined with online social media due to explosion of access to information and "a rising generation of discontented youth with ever growing aspirations” have become a deadly combination.

In the name freedom of speech and expression to dissent, youth have mastered their deadly combination to fuel violent protests and anarchy. Its fallout is simple: rapidly changing balance of power between government and society in both democratic and authoritarian states.

Ironic but true, political parties have converted over the past 72-years educational campuses into breeding grounds for protests in India and grooming future leaders. Ipso facto, student union politics, sponsored by rival political parties, provide a platform for their rise to prominence ultimately on the political scenario. It is the easy path to power, wealth and prosperity. No academic excellence or merit is vital. Mobilization power of sectarian groups is the only pre-requisite.

How relevant is the political wisdom of emeritus political philosophers voiced over a century ago that includes: "Democracy, by its nature, prefers those who keep step with the slowest march of thought, and frowns on those who may disturb the "conspiracy for mutual inefficiency". Thereby, democracy tends to result in the triumph of mediocrity - and to entail the exclusion of first-rate ability, if this is combined with honesty." Today, rulers hip in the name of democracy stands hijacked by narcissist's suffering from megalomania and paranoia to somehow to cling to power to enjoy perks, privileges particularly security at tax-payers costs.

Of course, the right to peaceful protest, but not riots, is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, which was ratified in December 1948. None can deny individuals, groups, associations to peacefully assemble to question and object to government actions but not to rioting. However, the right to protest is not an explicit right but derived from the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, Freedom of Association and Freedom of peaceful Assembly. Instead, the right to protest, like other fundamental rights, is not absolute and is subject to reasonable restrictions outlined in Articles 19(2) and 19(3) for the following reasons: • Nation’s security; • India’s sovereignty and integrity interests; • Public order violation; • In terms of ethics or morality; and, • In connection to contempt of court, defamation, or encouragement to commit an offence.

According to a UN Special Rapporteur’s report on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, while restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly can be imposed in the interests of national security or public order, they must be legitimate, necessary, and reasonable to the goal pursued. It also states that these restrictions are to be the exception, not the rule and that they “shall not undermine the essence of the right.“

The Supreme Court recognized the right to peaceful protest against the Act, stating that “democracy and dissent go hand in hand,” but that “demonstrations expressing disagreement must be held only in specified places.” In the Shaheen Bagh Judgement, 2019, the court affirmed the right to peaceful protest against legislation, but cleared that public streets and public areas cannot be occupied forever. Fundamental rights do not exist in isolation. The right of the protester must be weighed against the right of the commuter, and both must coexist in mutual regard.

The freedom to demonstrate and express dissent is protected by the Constitution, but it is accompanied by Fundamental Duties such as Article 51A, which states that every citizen has a fundamental responsibility to defend public property and to abjure violence.

Important extract of the Epilogue of the book titled "Burning India - Dismal Failure to Counter Strategic Challenges" published in 2020 are reproduced to enable the readers of dangerous internal security threats engulfing modern India: “Modern India” is engulfed by multiple ad infinitum crises and conflicts. …..The root causes are easy to sum-up. Successive political leaders have committed “Himalayan Blunders” due to their self-centrist obsession, narcissism and megalomania – I-Me-Myself-My Progeny obsession.

In sum, transformational reforms are imperative if the nation is to traverse the course of development and progress. If rioters and their back-room provocateurs are hell-bent on resisting reforms and insist on status quo ante, nation and society can never traverse on the course of development and progress. Due to riots in the garb of protests, modern India is poised dangerously atop the cliff to fall into an economic abyss that could churn a multitude of challenges in all dimensions of national security. Also, the populist backlash against multicultural left liberalism is set to dramatically alter past shared narratives and a common identity. Even political institutions are in a state of paralysis due to political polarization. Anti-establishment fever has debased policy debate and loosened the checks on executive power that generate consistency. In sum, the proliferating internal security crises are real and will remain most challenging to overcome. It is beyond the capability of the current crop of leaders, due to inherited hangovers, to steer the course of the nation on an even course.

Brig. G B Reddy (Retd)

G B Reddy, former Brigadier has seen frontline battles in India-China War in 1962, India-Pakistan War in 1965, and India-Pakistan War in 1971 (Liberation of Bangladesh). He has served in various insurgency areas to include Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, and West Bengal at the height of Naxal problem; Punjab, J & K and IPKF in Sri Lanka.

Author of seven books and numerous articles covering national security strategy, international, national and local political and social developments, he participated in international and national seminars whilst serving as Consultant/Senior Visiting Fellow at the National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad. He also served in Corporate Assignments of Vice-President, Kitply Industries and C.E.O, Hilton Tobacco Ltd.

He is a Graduate of National Defense College, New Delhi, Command and Staff College in Canada, Long and Senior Defense Management Programs at College of Defense Management in Hyderabad. He has served on the faculties of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, College of Combat, and Infantry School, Mhow.

He was awarded Ati Vishist Seva Medal for Distinguished Service of an Exceptional Order in Nagaland 1986. Menitoned-in-Despatches for gallantry in 1971 war. Chief of Army Staff Commendation Medal in 1977 for exceptional contribution for faculty development.

Seven books published: 1) Rising Dragon – China’s Holistic Security Strategic Perspective; 2) Nation in Crisis – Dimensions of National Security and Terrorism; 3) In Search of National Values - Withering Democracy, Secularism and Socialism; 4) India’s Nuclear Dilemmas; 5) Fight Against Corruption and Leadership Decay; 6) Democracy in Peril; and, 7) Cost Effective Rural Housing Technologies.