The recent incidents of attacks against Indian targets in Afghanistan and Kashmir were only to be expected. There will doubtless be more such in days to come. There is little point in stating the obvious; this piece is about a deeper issue.
Every time such a thing happens, most Indians react like Pavlov’s dogs to the bell. One lot always wants immediately to march to war, another always wants to pretend nothing happened, while a third keeps yelping ‘peace peace’ even as it is getting kicked.
This is because of their parentage, politically speaking. The inheritors of communal thinking, descendants of Golwalkar and Jinnah, see India and Pakistan in religious terms. For them, Kashmir is unfinished business from Partition, and that business can only be finished by continuing a fight that started a thousand years ago.
The descendants of Gandhi and Nehru’s political thought, with their ideas of an inclusive India at peace with its neighbours, are eternal optimists about human nature. Gandhi himself was shot dead, and Nehru died of a broken heart when his Chinese pals screwed him over, but the optimists are uncomfortable talking about such uncomfortable events. So they pretend nothing really happened.
The third lot is a curious one. This is the Martini Marxists and their friends, who do not recognize borders (but somehow recognize caste), who don’t see the need for security (but are always ready with candles after every rape/murder/terror attack), who don’t have clear ideas about anything (but nonetheless talk loudly about everything). They are what you get when you cross a Communist and a socialite. The Communist was traditionally opposed to India’s independence movement and tried to subvert the Quit India movement, supported the Chinese during the war with China, etc. Their loyalties always lie elsewhere.
This is why there is no clear response from India. The problem is one of a missing political gene.
That gene, which has been perhaps deliberately erased from our history, is the secular nationalist one represented by Netaji Subhas Bose. There was a man who was not corrupt, not wedded to communal identities for Hindutva or Pakistan or any kind of Ram Rajya, of modern temperament and egalitarian outlook, inclined towards boldness and action rather than eternal forbearance.
The country needs his political legacy to be brought alive again. It will help not only India, but all of South Asia, because the antidote to religious extremism cannot be administered by Jinnah’s and Gandhi’s heirs.