Jats and Brahmins don’t get along. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu fight over river water distribution. Biharis hate Bengalis, nobody gets the North East and Bengalis make fun of Punjabis.
Unity is an alien concept. Unless, of course, the 11 Men in Sahara Blue are playing or India is fighting Pakistan.
So I’m not surprised when government after government has intentionally chosen to keep the war with Pakistan alive, sometimes under the cover of a war on Kashmir, sometimes as a war on terrorism and sometimes by simply allowing a proxy war to happen.
And since 1948, there has been no resolution to an issue that has festered and nibbled away at the Indian and Pakistani economies, slowly and steadily, through extravagant defense budgets.
Yet, you would think that in 67 years, somethings would change.
Nothing seems to have.
I was 11 when Capt. Saurabh Kalia and five other soldiers were tortured and killed by the proxy army funded by our neighbors. For three months, I saw coffins, one after the other, shrouded in a tricolor, brought down from heaven on earth (Kashmir is sometimes called that for its beauty) and cremated or buried with 21 gun salutes.
For three months, the stories of people that keep our borders safe blurred together into one mass of grief, sometimes through the words of a fiance who shall forever wait, sometimes in the helpless lack of understanding of a five-year-old burning his father’s body, sometimes in the voices of fallen army men who’s vitality and valor didn’t desert them until their dying breath.
In all of this, in the victory of Tiger Hill, in the faces of our leaders, I had looked for an assurance that in my lifetime, and perhaps for generations yet to come, there would be no more war, no more waiting in front of prime time news to hear if Delhi is under a nuke threat, no more hearing about plane hijacks, dead honeymooners, dead paramilitary forces in the Parliament, dead holiday shoppers in a bomb blast, dead restaurant eaters in a fancy hotel.
I am still waiting for this assurance; still waiting as I wonder if my cousin in the Army will be one of the names I will read on the evening news someday.
As the Pathankot attacks unfolded, our Home Secretary account tweeted a successful close to the operation only to gulp it all down in shame the next day, as operations continued against two more terrorists at the air force base.
In the meantime, this esteemed country’s esteemed leader sat in safe South lecturing on the merits of Yoga. No emergency meeting, no staying on top of his cabinet. The pull of Yoga is such, for him, that it trivializes the death of seven men dead protecting their ungrateful wretches of countrymen. Sadly, the leader himself breathes today thanks to men like the ones that laid their lives in martyrdom.
And all politicians can do is express their grief and pain (or any other synonym for the two).
As a citizen of India, I don’t need your grief and pain, keep it, shelf it, or do Yoga to get over it.
I need a leader who can assure me I will see no more tricolor coffins in my lifetime, a leader who can dump the birthday cake in favor of hard talk.
After 67 years of childish tom-foolery, it is time to assess the cost that Kashmir and this border dispute has cost us, and ask ourselves: if this is how it is going to be for as far as my family tree can hold in the next 100 years or so, isn’t it just smarter business sense for a half-flayed economy to just cut its losses and exit the game?