Can Modi Critics Offer Solutions Instead of Complaints?

Soldiers guard at the Army base camp during a militant attack in Baramulla district of north Kashmir, 3 October, 2016. (Photo: PTI)
Soldiers guard at the Army base camp during a militant attack in Baramulla district of north Kashmir, 3 October, 2016. (Photo: PTI)

Can Modi Critics Offer Solutions Instead of Complaints?

When the world heard about the unprecedented surgical strikes undertaken by India immediately after the dastardly Uri attack, the first people to congratulate the Armed Forces and the prime minister (in that order) were our patriotic apologists. The opposition leaders were scrambling to stay ahead of other parties in supporting the action taken, without once sitting back and wondering why they, when they were in power, did not have the courage to take definitive action.

But how long will it be before we start hearing our ‘Patriotic Apologists’ trying to dissect every statement and justifying their own comments.


Questioning Government's Intent

The first set of serious questions were raised by several patriotic apologists, 'intellectuals', politicians and journalists soon after the national excitement post-surgical strike had started to wane. The initial emotion of anger quickly changed to an attitude of questioning the capability of the prime minister and his government. One senior politician who could not hold back his words even termed the prime minister a warmonger.

When suggestions were made about taking action in several areas outlined above, the general question from an “interested and motivated” group of people who would be directly affected by such an action was how the government could believe that a single action could remove terrorism.

It would be interesting to take stock of some of the comments from the opposition leaders and discussions across several media outlets about the possible steps that India should take.

Arguments by 'Patriotic Apologists'

Activate rebels in Balochistan: It energised the Balochistan rebels to start demanding their own country and thus, forced Pakistan to start focusing inwards. It took only a few days for certain politicians to start questioning this action on the grounds that India should not interfere with internal matters of Pakistan.

Skip the SAARC summit: The government of India took the unprecedented step of refusing to attend the SAARC summit. Most other SAARC countries followed suit which was seen as a diplomatic defeat to Pakistan. Instead of applauding our government, we have several opposition leaders who are talking of the past and the importance of continuing with the SAARC tradition.

Review Indus Waters Treaty: The mere mention of a review of the Indus Waters Treaty was enough to get people talking. The first salvo was fired by one set of people who stated that water should not be used as a tool and how on earth can water be used to combat terrorism?

Send Pakistani artists back: The suggestion hasn’t come from the government of India but has been demanded by a regional party in Maharashtra. Of course, all the Pakistani artists come on valid visas issued by the Government of India and of course, they are not terrorists. But when Pakistan stops telecast of Indian channels and does not permit Indian artists, that is acceptable.

Revoke Most Favoured Nation Status: This would hurt Pakistan economically and local businesses would be affected. But we have our apologists who have started raising a clamour against this revocation. After all, businessmen are not terrorists, they say.

Flight Curbs: Pakistan has put curbs on flights over its territory immediately (albeit they claim it is only for one week). India has taken no such action so far but debate has already been kick-started that the curbs on civil aviation hurts passengers who are definitely not terrorists.

Impose tariff barriers on imports from Pakistan and reduce exports: We need to impose non-tariff barriers on imports and reduce exports. Damage incurred by a country’s economy always has long-term implications.

Work towards declaring Pakistan a terrorist state: A petition filed in USA by one of their congressmen has snowballed into a worldwide movement. I am waiting to hear comments from the disbelievers in India on this petition.

Offering Criticism Instead of Solutions

Of course everyone knows and understands that the solutions will only come after resuming talks but don’t they realise that there is a time for talks and there is a time for sabre-rattling and cessation of talks, because Pakistan does not want talks after getting used to a soft Indian Government that would revert to a pacifist attitude of talking about the “resilience of India and her people” and shy away from any hard action.

But if the agenda of our political apologists is to reduce the perceived political mileage that the BJP is likely to gain, then they and their ilk have no other way but to find ways and means to pull down the prime minister and question him on every step the government is taking.

For our Political Apologists, why must it always be a situation of “Heads I win and Tails you lose?”

In times of national crises, it is important for the entire nation to stand together and our apologists need to stay quiet for a little while, though they may not agree with the developments and do not have any answers except criticism.

(Ashutosh Garg is the founder, chairman of the Guardian Pharmacies and an author. He can be reached at @gargashutosh. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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