I want to make the long form argument against glorification of our men in uniform. I want to outline why we should respect them for their service but why it is pernicious and retrograde to glorify them. Here then are my five arguments against this rampant propaganda:
Greek had two city states in its glorious past. Sparta was a military state which halted the advent of Persians( watch 300 if you haven’t) and also defeated the rival Athens in Peloponnesian wars. Athens on the other hand was the liberal democracy where sundry arts, crafts, culture and philosophy were celebrated. All major advancement in human thought as also roots of entire western civilization can be traced to Athens. So Sparta won its wars, yet is but a passing reference in human history. Athens though is still a living and vibrant reality in minds and hearts of people.
So historical lesson is that if you need longevity of civilization celebrate values not muscle.
By repeatedly saluting men in uniform (women are still less in combat duties) you want to glorify strength, masculinity and warrior traits of the society. Machismo has a place in scheme of things however societies do not become great by projecting strength. They become great by their problem solving abilities. The problems that any society faces are of hunger, disease, inequality…. These problems can only be solved by bringing new technology, innovating outreach and by activism of citizenry against vested interests.
So if we have to glorify (since we get more of what we celebrate), as a society, we must glorify our teachers, business leaders and social activists.
Warren Buffet shuns hiring stock traders in-house for what he calls “the institutional imperative”. His argument is that if you have traders they will not sit idle and thus make trades. Quant algorithms non withstanding, more you trade in stocks more you lose. So his winning strategy is making long bets and then doing NOTHING.
Likewise if you keep a big mobilized army the institutional imperative kicks in. More you keep, talk, glorify the military more chances you have of using it and thus going to a war. So know when you glorify armed forces, in the long run, you are setting up a war.
Wars in 21st century as outlined in another piece will mostly be asymmetrical and hence conventional strengths in military numbers are a ‘up to 20th century’ phenomenon. In days to come, war outcomes will be decided by more eyes in the sky(Drones), ears on the chatter( Cyber) and finger on the trigger ( Artificial Intelligence driven robots) than actual boots on the ground. This cognitive unbundling of warfare will be more a technology driven game than a numbers driven engagement. Two people with superior technology will be able to annihilate a standing and mobilized army of 2 lacs.
Secondly wars are getting privatized. US used services of Black Op firm Blackwater extensively in active combat duties in Iraq. So like in days of yore, mercenaries will join armies of future to fight along with regular army.
We should definitely have a strong deterrence force based on our own technical prowess but we do not have to eulogize it. So lets stop celebrating fashions of yesterday and if you must, lets celebrate Indian space program, indigenous development of ICBMs, nuclear reactors, intelligent algorithms developments more than a person holding an assault rifle.
Remember we are the biggest importer of weapons in the world and unless that situation is reversed and we become tech exporters, we have miles to go before acquiring real strength. So as a society lets celebrate our scientists and our tech innovation capability instead of our last mile bearers of bought weaponry.
Dalai Lama makes that argument better than anyone else on the planet hence let me outsource this to him.
“Most of us have been conditioned. Since armies are legal, we feel that war is acceptable; in general no body feels that war is criminal and accepting it is a criminal attitude. In fact we have been brainwashed. War is neither glamorous nor attractive. Its monstrous. Its very nature is one of tragedy and suffering. “
So overall lets be effusive about our values, technical innovations and social entrepreneurs while being calm and clinical about building our force multipliers.
The new “Jai Jawan” in 21st century is definitely not the guy on the border but our youth on the computer table.