Cutting the Chai has moved to a new domain:
You can get in touch with Soumyadip at

Friday, September 23, 2005

War and Peace

When I was a little younger and the topic of war cropped up in any discussion, my father would always emphasise upon me the pain and suffering which war brings upon the people. The history texts taught in my school (and many others across the nation), indirectly or otherwise glorified the practice of war. I haven't experienced any wars; only read about them in the papers and saw the mutilated bodies on prime time television. At most I've lived through a few communal riots.

My father's words would run a chill across my spine but the ghastly images no longer shock me. Overexposure desensitised me. For my father things might have been a little different. During the partition of India he was merely a toddler, but the anecdotes of the anarchy that followed must have impacted him. 1962, when the Chinese came knocking at our doorsteps and 'India' left the northeast to fate - he must have felt the pangs of being unwanted and uncared for. 1971, Pakistani mortar shells landed on the village fields and his pet mongrel ran away in the cacophony - never to return again. The refugees who rushed in had tales of brutality and savagery to narrate. His brother - then a lieutenant in the Indian army - was on the battlefront.

Now we possess nuclear deterrence, but my English text was not as insensitive as History. It described the horror of Hiroshima. North Korea fears U.S. will nuke it and China threatens to blast the Americans if they meddle with Taiwan. Nuclear deterrence or nuclear arrogance?

The wars of today are fought in lands far away from mine, involving people I don't know. It is perhaps why I don't seem to care. But what about the little battles, still raging? The ones against our own kind. The ones which we dump into the collective waste of our memory of the other India. We let loose an Army trained to kill in order to pacify the disoriented and disgruntled youth. We conduct air raids and bomb our own towns. They cry rape, murder - we say terrorists (militant is too soft a word). They start off as well intentioned militants - we transform them into terrorists because we just don't care.

My father nowadays doesn't discuss war. He prefers silence. Perhaps he still cares.


Anonymous said...

The small everyday wars that we face are the most dangerous. When the enemy is unknown and is within. An external aggressor can be identified and dealt with in convetional terms but its the ones who wage a war within the nation's border, strike the unsuspecting ones who put me to risk. The chnaces of me dying in an all out war with one of our 'enemies' is miscule, but the probability of being caught in a blast set up by some disgruntled people is high. Why is that even though I'm not involved in anybody's war, I'm still a potential target.
History skips the horrors and its all about the glory of war. At times we should see the human side of it, and the sorrow and pain that follows it. If we human beings felt for the pain of others, then there would not have been much sooorw in this world, but we dont, we live to amplify our gains to live our goals. Its easy to be a Patton or Alexander, but its really tough to be a Buddha. The first comes easily to human nature and for the second we have to fight human nature.
Interesting blog this. Myriad in its views and eclectic collection of thoughts on divergent subjects.

dwaipayan said...

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

i think bob dylan said it all.

K said...

Do we really care that somewhere in Africa thousands of people are dying (of course not, after all when the US is engaged in a military operation are we allowed to watch anything else) in some battle or another. We don't give a flying f. We don't care that in India tens of policemen and soldiers die everyday. You're right, war doesn't matter as long as the economic engine of mindless buying keeps on rolling, why should anyone care! However, I do disagree that we have used air power against our own people - unless you count Sri Lanka and the IPKF.

Soumyadip said...

It is a little known fact but perhaps the only instance in history where a country conducted an air raid on it's own territory, against it's citizens. On March 5-6, 1966 the Indian Air Force carried out air raids on the city of Aizawl in Mizoram to soften the situation, so that the Indian military can recapture the town.

This dark chapter of Indian anti-insurgency history remains shrouded in the classified files. Very few people have spoken about it.

Gen. (Retd.) DK Palit states “… 5th March was the crucial day. At last, at 1130hrs came the air strike, IAF fighters strafing hostile positions all around the battalion area. The strafing was repeated in the afternoon… (6th March)… There was another air strike that day and that put paid to the investment. The hostiles melted away.”

[Gen. (Retd) DK Palit, Sentinels of the North East: The Assam Rifles, p. 264.]

Abaniko said...

Cicero once said that "an unjust peace is better than a just war." winning or losing a war doesn't matter at all to the hungry, the orphaned and the homeless.