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Kargil Impressions - Trip Report

ramana
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Kargil Impressions - Trip Report

Postby ramana » 17 Aug 1999 23:12

I have returned from our family's quadrennial India trip. I landed in Delhi at the height of Kargil crises, around July 4th. I expected Delhi to be under a seige mentality and was pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong. Everything was chalta hai. People were going about their normal routines in all walks of life. <P>The crisis did make an impact on the way ordinary Indians feel about their country and the armed forces in particular. There was an outpouring of patriotism which some could not relate to. This patriotism was mainly represented by contributions by way of donations - monetary and other. Quite a few people showed up for recruitment rallies in North India. Some instances of unruly behaviour led to police actions. A few cars had bumper stickers in the major cities (New Delhi and Chennai) supporting the troops. Retailers were conducting sales, part of which was donated to Kargil Relief Fund. Off course all this was decried by the holier than thou cogniscenti who felt it was all commercial. These worthies were also the ones aiding and comforting the enemy by questioning the GOI on its motives and lapses while the fighting was going on.<BR>I had a chance to see many talk shows and see the experts (chatteratti) discuss the issues threadbare. No doubt about it. Kargil represented a stab in the back for the doves(Kuldip Nayar and Javed Akhtar etc.). There was a universal sense of betrayal. The public (janata) does not blame ABV for this. On the other hand they feel he had extended a hand of friendship, which had a national consensus, and Pakistan showed its true colours and betrayed the process. Memories of Mir Jafar, Ambhi, and a whole bunch of sorry characters were often invoked.<P>What did Kargil achieve?<P>It showed India was a mature, responsible power which would use appropriate force to undo aggression even when disguised as intrusion. Pakistan was shown to be an irresponsible aggressive state which resorts to nuclear threats to achieve its aims. I think Pak lost it when its functionaries made disingenous remarks about nuclear escalation which were really blackmail. It rang alarm bells in the US and other world capitals. If Pak were to succeed it would do untold damage to the NPT regime and world order. A host of undesirables (Mid-East and North East Asia) would learn the wrong lesson and acquire nuclear weapons. But all that is a US and Pak problem. POK-2 ensured that the blackmail would not work and the Indian elite conveyed the message in many ways- eg. Tipnis interview, moving the Eastern fleet etc.<P>What did Kargil do for India?<P>It brought it together. This was the first occassion for the Indian Muslim to come out whole heartedly for India. This is generation born and broughtup in a free India unclouded by Partition blues. And it did come out strong and unequivocally. It laid to rest all the ghosts of the past. Sure there were some bad moments, but they involved people of the pre-Partition generation. Most of India was calm. The North- East had some sabotage by the ULFA etc. and this discredited them. The excitement was confined to the Kargil sector in Kashmir only. I did travel the length of India from Simla to Mahabalipuram and can speak on this from personal observation.<BR>It showed overwhelming support of the masses for the troops. There were rallies and fund raising melas galore. Some unscruplous elements also collected funds from travellers- e.g. on Vijayawada-Madras National Highway, local goons setup roadblocks and collected funds forcibily from travellers and who knows where the funds are going? Anyway these were minor irritations. Also trees and bridge railings were painted in the tricolor along this highway. Maybe these were part of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations, but they sure did come in handy for the present situation.<BR>The past bureaucratic bungles were shown up in bad light and looks like there is some corrective action going on. The Indian forces after initial setbacks showed resilence and came back with a bang. There are two enquiry committees- Subrahmanyam committee for going into what went wrong on a macro level and an Army committee for looking into the local level. I am sure there will be a lessons learned committee for the forces. I think the decision to use IAF within the borders and the moving of the Eastern fleet to battle positions ensured the victory. The massive use of artillery (155mm) against inturder positions helped to keep the casualties down. The use of protective gear (flak jackets etc.) would have helped. PGM shells for the bunkers would have been useful too.<BR>The decision to send the bodies back to the places of origin was the right one. It knit the country together. It allowed the collective sorrow for the fallen warriors to be expressed. There could have been a state funeral for the mutilated six, but it would go against the Army tradition and could have lead to unmanageable reaction from public, demanding undeliverable expectations.<BR>The GOI media briefing was a good idea turned bad. It was marred by three talking heads with bad accent. They would resort to notes even when telling the facts. They should have put someone who could articulate the message clearly. Its sad the IFS could not produce even one person to fill this role. Wonder what sort of training they go through. It was covered live by only a few channels and did not include DD. (Maybe shows the independence of Prasar Bharati!) One got mostly the nightly news which covered the briefing. Kargil was India's first TV war. The media did an exemplary job of keeping the focus on the fighting and gave coverage to alternate viewpoints- Congress, the Leftists etc. I got to see Vishnu Som's report on Pak firing a SAM on helicopters in Kutch.<BR>The casualty lists showed that the Indian Army has evolved into a truly national Army. Its ranks comprise of all sections of Indian society- urban and rural, rich and poor, forward and backward classes, North and South, and East and West. What struck me was the composite nature of the young officer class. This will definitely have a profound influence on how it acts in future.<BR>NOTE:<BR>I will write my views on other aspects of my trip in the other forum and break my taboo. <P>As I had said before departure, that I would send a condolence card to Dr. Kalia, I did and was pleasantly surprised in getting a reply from the honorable gentleman. He also sent me a copy of the death certificate issued by the Indian Army and a picture of his gallant son. He is trying to rally support to ensure that the crime does not go unpunished. <A HREF="http://www.indiaworld.co.in" TARGET=_blank>www.indiaworld.co.in</A> has a homepage which keeps track of progress in this matter and I request forum members to regularly visit and express support. The matter as it stands todate is that the NHRC of India has asked the MEA to present details of the matter. The IA has pleaded that it has handed over the case to the MEA and is doing a Pontius Pilate. I will mail a copy of the certificate to the webmasters so we can be reminded of the brutality of our neighbor. <BR>IMHO, we should write to US Congressmen to deny IMET facilities to Pakistan till full accounting of this dastardly act is presented. We should lobby India caucus members to ask Pentagon and US State Dept. to provide details of this case prior to release of funds for Pakistan for IMET. This is doable. <BR>Along with this student types should keep track of academic centers like Brookings etc. to protest any extension of facilities to thugs like Mushy/ Aziz after they are drummed out of Pak Army. For eg. Karamat is due at Brookings in Sept. for a study assignment(?)<P>We should write to Indian Army chief to put on hold regimental ties to old Pak Regiments, till full accounting of this sorry episode is given. It is a matter of regimental izzat.<P>A high point of my trip was to meet shiv and jagan in person and talk to philip on phone. It was amazing the rapport we established due to the forum interaction. It was as if we knew each other for a long time!

Muppalla
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Re: Kargil Impressions - Trip Report

Postby Muppalla » 17 Aug 1999 23:24

Welcome back... I always read your posts with lot of interest

Arun_S
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Re: Kargil Impressions - Trip Report

Postby Arun_S » 17 Aug 1999 23:29

As I said before in another thread. You are just in time ! <B>Welcome back.</B> <BR>Looking forward to some good discussion on the new Nuclear Policy.<P>Cheers -Arun Sharma

Sarma
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Re: Kargil Impressions - Trip Report

Postby Sarma » 18 Aug 1999 00:03

Ramana garu, welcome back. Would be grateful if you could tell some tidbits about the corresponding atmosphere in our beloved city of Hyderabad (if you were there). It has been almost four years since I had been to India myself.<P>Sarma<P>Spinster, I just saw that you are based in Hyderabad. Could you answer the above question too?<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Sarma (edited 17-08-1999).]

Kaushal
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Re: Kargil Impressions - Trip Report

Postby Kaushal » 18 Aug 1999 00:27

rkapoor, since you seem to be new to the forum, you may not have seen the extensive discussions that have taken place on this issue. Of course the number is too high. There have been many threads discussing what needs to be done and on what is being done to reduce this in future.<P>Kaushal<p>[This message has been edited by Kaushal (edited 17-08-1999).]

Skanhai
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Re: Kargil Impressions - Trip Report

Postby Skanhai » 18 Aug 1999 00:34

You didn't happen to visit Leh have you? Are all touristic place in Kashmir and Ladhak open again?

Pennathur
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Re: Kargil Impressions - Trip Report

Postby Pennathur » 18 Aug 1999 09:36

Ramana: "As I had said before departure, that I would send a condolence card to<BR>Dr. Kalia,........<BR>we should write to US Congressmen to deny IMET facilities to<BR> Pakistan till full accounting of this dastardly act is presented. We<BR> should lobby India caucus members to ask Pentagon and US State<BR> Dept. to provide details of this case prior to release of funds for<BR> Pakistan for IMET.............<BR>.......to protest any extension of facilities to thugs like<BR>Mushy/ Aziz after they are drummed out of Pak Army..."<P>If you remember Gen.Hugh Shelton, Chairman US JCS went on record asking for more information on the incident and also said that it was matter of concern. Guys in the US should pursue it through civil-military forums. Even a personal note to Gen.Shelton.<P>

vverma
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Re: Kargil Impressions - Trip Report

Postby vverma » 18 Aug 1999 10:23

ramana, your post seems to reflect that the Indian public was satisfied with the body count. Is this true? I know it was an uphill task but did the talking heads criticise the army or the govt for that?

shiv
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Re: Kargil Impressions - Trip Report

Postby shiv » 18 Aug 1999 15:06

Hi again ramana.<P>ramana is definitely the only B-R member who has tarvelled thru India during the Kargil conflict and his observations are interesting. It's almost as though this country needed a conflict to focus its attention.<P>Unlike 1971 there are now a lot of people with disposable incomes - and I think the nationalistic fervour combined with disposable income ensured the collection of 400 crores in a month or so.<P>Culturally we have had a chalta hai attitude - but increasing westernisation has resulted in a greater sense of "won't take no **** " among the people. But one cultural featuer hasn't changed. our reactions to death are definitely different to that in the west. So werma's question about attitudes towards casualties can only be addressed in the background of a totally different cultural viewpoint. But I think this is beyond the scope of this forum.

ramana
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Re: Kargil Impressions - Trip Report

Postby ramana » 18 Aug 1999 23:19

Thanks for the comments. <BR>I will write about the rest of the trip in the other forum. Will take a little bit more time-work, jet lag etc.<BR>No the people are not satisfied about the body count. They know it is excessive. OTH, they know covert aggression has taken place and soldiers get killed while clearing the mess. Atleast there was total transparency about the casulaties and people appreciated it. <BR>I suggest members wait for the amarjawan site to come on-line. It is horrifying to see the large number of soldiers killed in action with out any trace of accountability or public awareness in some of the operations conducted under previous regimes.<BR>I think God acts in mysterious ways and who are we judge whether it could have been avioded or not. But one unintended consequence was Pak goose is cooked and they stand exposed as perfidious, medieval thugs who cannot be trusted as presently constituted. It will take a lot of assurances to get back to the table with this lot.<P>Yes we should keep the Kalia topic alive. I think Shelton also has the info. as it was publicly released. But dont hold your breath!


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