As the year draws to a close, it is time to look back in time to see the events, year 2019 will be remembered for. Nonetheless, the year 2019 has been one of the most eventful in the lot of recent past. Things that happened in this year will be considered turning points in the course of our history. Let us revisit them to understand the implications of what all transpired in the year that’s about to end.
The year began with the gruesome terror attack on CRPF convoy in Pulwama, J&K on 14th February killing 40 soldiers. The attack happened when the CRPF convoy was passing through the Jammu Srinagar highway when an IED laden vehicle hit the convoy and exploded. The terror attack brought back the memories of Uri terror attack of 2016 and similar to Uri, public sentiment grew towards avenging the attack by punishing Pakistan. Even Pakistan had a notion that retribution will come, but in what form was not known. Many thought the Modi Govt will order a Surgical Strike similar to the way Uri was avenged. But after a silence of 12 days, the nation woke up to IAF Air strikes on JeM terror camps located in Pakistan, conducted in the early morning of 26th February 2019. The strike package consisted of French Mirage-2000 fighters equipped with Israeli Spice guided bombs. The Mirages were escorted with a pack of Su30Mki fighters which would have taken on anything the PAF had in its inventory. The Pak Air Force did scramble its jets and tried to bomb our Brigades next day, but it was all taken care of. The Balakot airstrike has broken many paradigms and is a turning point in the evolution of our military strategy. Eminent scholars, politicians etc of India and World powers in general have often shown concern of a war breaking out between the two nuclear armed countries. But the Surg. Strikes 1.0 and the Balakot Airstrikes prove that India can beat Pakistan’s asymmetric warfare strategy with its own asymmetric moves under the nuclear overhang. The implication here is that there is quite a room for India to escalate things after which war situation kicks in. The second paradigm broken is that now even Pakistan’s mainland is within the reach of Indian military planners. Retribution to any provocative step by Pakistan is not only guaranteed but now it may not be limited to LoC. These two equations are the ones which were upheld even in the worst crisis India faced such as Kargil war, Parliament attack and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. But now the rules of the game have changed.
On March 27th, India conducted the Anti Satellite weapon Test, codenamed Mission Shakti. Though country was going through the post Balakot crisis phase, when tensions between India and Pakistan were running high, the ASAT test came as a total surprise. After USA, Russia & China, India became the fourth country in the World to achieve this feat. The technical aspect of ASAT capability is not as special as is its strategic repercussions. For any country with an active space program already has an ASAT capability in theory. Since satellites move in pre determined orbits and their positions are known to everyone, a hostile country can send its kill projectile to meet the target satellite at a point resulting in a collision. But most countries have shied away from declaring the capability as nobody wants to militarise space. Since the West is good at creating high tables where only certified members are allowed to enter, it is good that India decided to gatecrash the party before the doors were closed on us. The possibility of an actual use of the ASAT weapon is remote; the capability will help us in the evolving threat scenario in the subcontinent.
The third historical event that shook the country was the revocation of Art 370 from the state of J&K and reorganisation of the state into two Union Territories. On 5th August 2019 the Govt, through a presidential order nullified all the provisions of the Article that maintained special status of the J&K state. Now the separate flag, separate constitution of the J&K stand abrogated and Jammu & Kashmir is fully integrated into the union of India. Before implementing the decision, the Govt mobilized a sizeable number of para military forces from other states to maintain law and order. Media and communication services were also severed and those restrictions have been lifted quite recently. Though the Govt has been criticised for its control on civil liberties and communication blockade, it is to be understood that these rights to not stand in isolation. They can only be ensured in a violence free social atmosphere which is nonexistent in Jammu & Kashmir due to terrorism. Hence all steps taken to prevent terrorism must be supported. Though Art 370 doesn’t deal with terrorism directly, it acted as nutrition for the roots of the separatism to grow from which the secessionist tendencies emanate. By fully integrating J&K the idea of a separate identity is now a thing of past. Any sub culture which threatens the national cultural identity must be culled in the first instance. It is a grave injustice to the country that a sub-cultural identity was not only allowed to fester but also given constitutional validity, so much that it became a full time secessionist movement threatening the union of India. The time to revoke the special status of J&K was when the Pandits were thrown out of the valley. Because it was then, the distinct social identity was destroyed by radical Islam. But it is said better late than never. With the removal of Art 370 J&K is fully integrated with India in letter and spirit. Now it is time to integrate the Pakistan occupied territory with India and end the problem of terrorism once and for all.
On 9th November, the Supreme Court of the country delivered justice on the centuries old issue of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. The unanimous bench gave the decision in favour of constructing the Temple at the disputed site, and as a relief gave a 5 acre land for the Muslims to build the mosque in a place of their choice. Though it was difficult for vested interest groups to accept the decision wholeheartedly, nobody could discredit the decision in the open so as to avoid court’s contempt. Also, it is very difficult to run a narrative counter to Supreme Court for it is not a good precedent to do so in a democratic setup. Now it is up to the Govt to formulate the trust as quickly as possible and begin the construction of a grand Ram Temple at the place it is supposed to be. Ram Mandir decision is just one course correction in the centuries of harassment, genocide and injustice Hindus have faced in the land of their birthplace. Envisioning freedom of Kashi & Mathura temples is too tempting a thought right now, hopefully someday these too shall be realized but will require a stronger and persistent resolve. By the time a grand Ram Temple comes to life in Ayodhya, Hindus should start a movement for freeing temples from the clutches of the Govt. Just as minority religious institutions are governed by the people of their faith, the temples should too be governed by Hindus themselves. Not by politicians who see temples as cash rich cows.
Nation is yet to settle down with the unrest, unleashed with the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019. Though there was nothing controversial about the amendments made in the Citizenship Act the country saw protests, arson, and violence in all parts of the country. There was no reason for Indian Muslims to rise in revolt when the CAA does not affect them in any way. The CAA is much less controversial than Ram Mandir or Art 370 decisions which ironically went by peacefully. Either this was a pent up anger that came out of frustration or the vested interest groups made a pre-emptive move by unleashing violence in the first step of demographic study of the country. Since NPR & NRC are two exercises yet to be conducted by the Govt, the riot act seems more like a sign of the times to come if the Govt moves ahead with the two exercises. Whatever may be the reasons for rioting, the opposition to the decision to give citizenship to persecuted Non Muslims in our neighbourhood has removed the masks of pseudo secularists and so called woke liberals. Hindus themselves will take time to come to terms that Islamic regimes can be so oppressive when a large section of society portrays Muslims as victims all the time. In fact Muslims themselves are so good at playing victimhood that showing them as oppressors goes counter to set narratives. Plus it is even harder to imagine minorities which can be Non Muslims, for the term minority itself has become synonymous to Muslims. Nobody considers Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians etc as minorities even though their population is much less than Muslims both in our country and in the neighbourhood. With the CAA done, the next challenge for the Govt is to implement NPR & NRC. A lot on these two will happen in the next year.
2019 was the year that broke many paradigms. The decisions or events listed above are milestones in the journey of our country. Let us hope 2020 will bring in more peace and prosperity for the nation and more paradigms will be broken.