BOOK REVIEW-A DEVASTATING CRITIQUE OF STRATEGIC ILLITERACY

The author has penned a devastating critique of strategic illiteracy that prevails among policy makers and politicians, in “Scary Portents-India under Siege”. He also denounces the facade of half truths and dissembling, legitimised as ‘political correctness,’ in staunch defence of the Indian Army and national sentiments. This mammoth construct simply smothers dissent or a contrary opinion, even when facts directly negate what it craftily perpetuates as the gospel truth.

The votaries of political correctness have no compunctions in trashing our cultural and social inheritance, especially on news channels and in the print media. Caught in this tidal wave of hatred and hostility is the Indian Army, which is being vilified for doing an exemplary job under the most daunting circumstances. The constant and virulent attacks on the idea of Bharat has lately acquired a more vicious and sinister edge, especially after the new political dispensation came into being.

The author, who has lovingly dedicated the book to his father, late Major Sukumar Talukdar, a war veteran, argues trenchantly against these sinister forces, which disparage the selfless sacrifices of our soldiers, but maintain a deafening silence over heckling and hounding of Taslima Nasreen, by the fanatical mullahs in Kolkata. Similarly, nobody utters a word when the self-same group forcibly prevents the likes of Maj Gen. GD Bakshi and Tarek Fatah from speaking on the rights of the oppressed Baluchis, in the same city.

The author has compiled his penetrating insights on strategic and political matters between the covers of a book for making it accessible to a wider audience. These analytical pieces have become extremely relevant and timely, in view of the proxy war being foisted on India from across the border. His style is crisp, concise yet highly readable, the delivery powerful, shorn of ambiguity that speaks of his ease in employing the nuances of English language to a devastating effect.

For instance in the chapter titled ‘Strategic Bungling Emboldens Hostile Neighbours,’ his observations expose the sham that China is. He writes: “Beijing masks its sinister intentions with stratagem and guile, lures the potential victim with a witchery of words and some wealth, before trapping it in its web. Should the victim deviate from the demarcated line, dire threats follow, more of bluster than any real intent, which however makes him fall in line. The war is won without a shot being fired. Therein lies the beauty of the whole charade!

Perhaps the passage below pertinently explains why politicians always keep the Army out of reckoning:“In 1958, an event of far reaching significance irrevocably altered geo-political perceptions on the subcontinent. The army seized power in Pakistan amid a horrific carnage. Since then the coup has never ceased to cast an ominous shadow over the fate of politicomilitary relations in India and its worsening aftermath. The development must have so impacted the psyche of the country’s first Prime Minister Nehru that he probably feared men in olive green taking over his government. Several illustrations liven up the book which has been reasonably priced at Rs 260/-. This makes it eminently affordable to the lay reader.

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