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Punjab terror attack: Time for India to strike back
The erstwhile Indian strategy of wielding soft power only should take a back seat and India should take more imperative steps towards a more aggressive path.
There had been another dastardly attack by terrorists on the sovereignty of India. And this happened in Punjab of mainstream India (where our beloved Shahrukh and Kajol gyrate to desi beats in midst of mustard fields) and not Jammu & Kashmir or the northeast where such events generally do not merit more than a shrug from the average Indian.

The strike happened in Gurdaspur in Punjab resurrecting unpleasant memories of monotonic Doordarshan news readers announcing the day's casualties during the insurgency in Punjab. The nature or motive of the terrorists is yet to be known while the government has vehemently denied Sikhs or Khalistanis being involved in this act. There are also rumours of the alleged terrorists shouting 'Allah Hu Akbar'.

Initial details in media and Twitter suggested that there had been Intel reports about such impending attacks along the border in Punjab. The opposition is duly milking the situation in what appears to be a yet another major intelligence failure by the incumbent government of the day. This attack may miss the thrill of 26/11 due to the absence of a metropolitan sprawl but the act in itself is no way inconsequential in the greater scheme of things when it comes to terror attacks perpetrating on Indian soil.

One question that spontaneously ensues is about the efficacy of NIA since its inception in 2009? More recently, the NIA was unable to predict and warn about the attack on the military convoy by NSCN terrorists in Manipur. The day was however brilliantly saved by a meticulously planned and methodically executed operation by Indian Special Forces deep in the Burmese forests to eliminate the terrorist camps and their murderous inhabitants.

Sadly, the dead are irreconcilable. Retaliatory attacks mean nothing to them. Their families might find some solace in retribution but they have forever lost a son, a father, a husband, a brother and a trusted shoulder. Lives were lost today, that day and the day before that somewhere in the country. To make matters objectively clear, 193 people died in Kashmir, 372 people died in Naxal affected districts and 413 in northeast India in 2014 alone including security personnel and civilians in various terror attacks as per Times of India reports.

We can add on to this ominous number since independence, especially from the outset of insurgency in Bengal followed by Punjab and Kashmir and be certain of staring at one of the most drastic number of terror inflicted deaths in a free democratic country since its inception. And this is beyond the military deaths in the official and pseudo wars (why we shy away from calling the 'Kargil conflict' the 4th Indo Pak war?) and numerous hate induced riots (motivated by terror groups?).

The government might plan another reprisal (in Pakistani territory?) or settle with building more measures to tackle such events in future. But the raging debate is whether such responses be sufficient to ensure a peaceful future? No plan is perfect but given our record of keeping terrorists at bay, the need of the hour is an approach that is radically different from the ones employed earlier.

A good example to follow would be the hard power wielding China. Enough of being the nicest kid on the block, it is time for India to espouse realpolitik. India should now start making major investments in military expansion on Indian soil as well as foreign. Build so much of eerily close fire power to our reckless neighbours that terrorists and armies are left feeling uninspired. The strategy should be of 'hitting the enemy where it hurts the most' rather than 'pushing them away' or 'making their advance difficult' (bad border roads in Arunachal are a relic)!

Let us break the ceasefire for a change instead of 'returning' fire. Let us build huge naval bases in Andaman and Lakshadeep Islands and boost military ties with every country that loathe our enemies. Enough of requesting for a permanent seat in UN Security Council, let the inclusion to that forbidden chamber be the key decider of fostering economic ties with the other five.

Send satellites that can pick up a cat on the ground along our border and equip our security forces to monitor any unusual activity. Complete the border fencing along Radcliffe line and be ruthless with border jumpers. We can do so much more but the idea is essentially to make a lot of noise. Let our enemies be on tenterhooks about what would be our next move. A four lane highway to Diphu Pass or a Muzaffarabad putsch, the possibilities are endless!

The liberals will indeed cause an uproar on spending such vast sums of money on militarisation while so many Indians do not have access to shelter, sanitation, schooling or medical care. But the real argument here is not between basic necessities versus military might but a more simple choice between self-respect and hunger.

Moreover, arming our military to the teeth does have huge paybacks. A bigger, stronger and well distributed armed force needs more men, meaning more employment. In perspective, South Korea that lives with unruly neighbours has 12.3 people in active military duty per thousand of population in comparison to India's 1.1 according to Wikipedia. China sends 9.2 while the United States has 7 people in active military duty per thousand of population as per the same source.

Building so many ports, bases, arsenal, naval vessels, aircrafts and military gear will engender industry and give a much needed nudge to the domestic defence industry and the much-discussed 'Make in India' will take off in a glorious fashion. Plus, there are benefits to be reaped of nations fearing India as they truly acknowledge and anticipate the ramifications of India's military might.

UNSC seat, take it. MFN, it is you. A powerful India would mean stronger global Indians and Indian enterprises and robust Indian markets. Bangladesh would buy our cheaper new cars and not expensive Japanese used cars. Indian goods will be the Numero Uno imports into Africa. Again, limitless prospects.

We would have solved the terrorism menace to a great extent (one can reason so much with the fundamentalists) and done our economy a huge favour by putting these groups and countries on their back foot by yielding a leash.

It is indeed a sad day for India as it also lost ex-President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, a great visionary and statesman, to a heart attack. On this fateful day of twin tragedies striking the nation, let us not forget the fatherly leader's wise words 'Unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. In this world, fear has no place, only strength respects strength'.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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