On the Secularity of the Indian Army and the Impending Danger to the Indian Nation-State

Since the Modi government came to power, it has been trying hard to centralize all powers in its hands. The goal of the Modi government and its ideological backers, RSS, is to change the secular nature of the Indian nation-state and turn it into a religious theocracy like Iran, Afghanistan, or Pakistan. The RSS ideologues and prime minister Modi firmly believe that India belongs to the Hindus and everyone living in this country is a defacto Hindu no matter what their practicing religion is. To realize their dream of a Hindu Rashtra/Akhand Bharat, the Modi government is trying hard to make all the political, economic, social, and judicial institutions of India subservient to their power e.g., the RBI is in now the hands of the Modi government after they sacked former independent governors Raghuram Rajan, Urjit Patel, and Viral Acharya and replaced them with their subservient history major career bureaucrat Shaktikanta Das. Enforcement Directorate and the CBI are politicized and used by the Modi government to punish their political opponents. The election commission is firmly in its grips as they are ignoring Modi’s violation of the election code of conduct frequently while punishing his opponents for even a slight infringement. Governors are routinely used to harass non-BJP states. The Supreme Court is compromised a long time ago as we can witness in its verdicts of Ayodhya or the ruling on the Modi government rescinding article 370. Recently Supreme Court Chief Justice Chandrachud said: 

After offering prayers at the temples of Dwarikadhish and Somnath with his family in Gujarat last week, the CJI had no qualms in saying, “I was inspired this morning by the dhwaja (flag) at Dwarikadhish ji, very similar to the dhwaja, which I saw at Jagannath Puri. But look at this universality of the tradition in our nation, which binds all of us together. This dhwaja has a special meaning for us. And that meaning which the dhwaja gives us is – there is some unifying force above all of us, as lawyers, as judges, as citizens. And that unifying force is our humanity, which is governed by the rule of law and by the Constitution of India.” 

This is a clear sign that the CJI is firmly in the grips of the RSS and Modi government. In the future when the Modi government changes the constitution of India and makes it a Hindu Rashtra, the Supreme Court will very likely have no problem with it. 

All the educational institutions of India are already saffronized as can be seen in this celebration of Ramotsav in the university where I used to work. As the former Jammu & Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik said, the Modi government has posted third-rate RSS men as vice-chancellors of all central universities.

Third class kind of people are becoming governors. Our systems are deteriorating. No central university VCs are chosen outside of the Sangh and perhaps do not even have qualifications to become a college principal.   

The only institution that is now standing between Modi/RSS and their dream of a Hindu Rashtra is the Indian army. The Indian Army holds the trump card as it holds the actual power in this country; the power in the form of all the firepower. In any nation-state, politicians can only rule as long as they can psychologically manipulate the ruled public with propaganda or bribe some of them, the intellectuals whom F A Hayek called second-hand dealers in ideas, and make them part of their political parasitic power. The use of force depends on the loyalty of the army. As long as the Indian army is neutral, the Indian nation-state is less vulnerable to big political upheavals like we see in the neighboring state of Pakistan. Pakistan’s history tells us what happens when the army is no longer politically neutral. If the Modi government and with it RSS come back to power in 2024, and make the army political then the army will decide who remains in power and who will be thrown out and killed. Army generals will become the kingmakers. 

Not only will the army generals become the kingmakers, but ambitious army generals will likely see the chance of launching a military coup against the civilian government and usurp power for themselves, like how many army generals have repeatedly done in the neighboring state of Pakistan. A politicized army will be ripe for a military coup in India. India will very likely see the rule of a military junta or a dictatorship of some military general in the future.

Once the army is no longer secular and neutral, it is also possible that the army itself will disintegrate into various factions based on their local affiliations and cultural backgrounds. We need to remember that the Indian army is not a cohesive unit made of one single unit of homogeneous people. The statistics on the state-wise makeup of the Indian army show that its army personnel come from all states of India. The northern states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan are sending a bigger percentage of their population to the army. The southern states also have a sizeable representation in the army. The day the Indian army is politicized, generals, officers, and soldiers coming from these states will divide on their local affinities, and the civil war for capturing power in various states will begin. 

The gist of the above-mentioned analysis is that the Indian nation-state will disintegrate and its myriad of factions will start their battle for capturing local power, as the long history of the Indian subcontinent exhibits. Before the British Raj handed over power to the hands of the Indian National Congress leaders Nehru and Patel, the Indian subcontinent was ruled by roughly 700 independent princely states. There was no India or Bharat before 15th August 1947. The myth of India/Bharat was created by the leaders of the Indian National Congress (see Jawaharlal Nehru’s book The Discovery of India) in their efforts to wrestle the power from the hands of the British Raj. Their goal was never independence for the people of India as Gandhi envisioned, but to centralize all power in their hands in New Delhi so they could socially engineer the Indian society in the image of their liking. Many princely states like Jammu & Kashmir, Junagadh, Hyderabad, etc., never wanted to join the newly formed dominion of the Indian nation-state. The then home minister Vallabhbhai Patel took those princely states by the use of military force, which the Britishers gifted before leaving India, and political subterfuge. 

The RSS leaders of that time never opposed the British Raj or cooperated with the Congress because they wanted to make India a theocratic Hindu Rashtra. Their leaders weren’t politically more powerful compared to the communist/leftist forces of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indian National Congress so they lost that political tug of war and India became a secular country. RSS never gave up their dream of establishing a Hindu theocratic state so they kept trying to grab the center of state power in New Delhi. They were finally successful in grabbing that power using the craftily made charismatic image of Narendra Modi. Modi was protected and groomed by them specifically for this purpose only. 

In this battle for power between the secular and sectarian forces the fate of 1.4 billion Indians depends. 

In their zeal for making India a Hindu theocratic state RSS and Modi are forgetting the dangers of politicizing the armed forces. Nehru and Patel were successful in creating a constitutionally secular nation-state because the army, gifted to them by the Britishers, was with them. In post-independence years no army general has exhibited any political ambition, but for how long? If Modi and RSS try to destroy the secular constitution of India to realize their age-old dream of a theocratic Hindu Rashtra then they will have to make sure that the armed forces are backing their constitutional changes. In this regard, a recent statement by Lt Gen. Manoj Katiyar is of utmost importance. He said:

What makes the Indian Army stand out is that we strictly adhere to the two important principles, the first one being our secular approach and second, our apolitical character. It means we respect all religions and steer clear of politics, Lt Gen. Katiyar said, addressing soldiers at the Investiture Ceremony of the Western Command on January 13, Saturday. 

It is necessary to stick to apolitical and secular principles and recognise the fact that any compromise or lack of adherence on these fronts will be harmful for the army, he added. (Emphasize mine) 

As we can see, the loyalty of the armed forces is to the constitutionally secular nature of the Indian nation-state. But what will happen when this constitutionally secular nature is under attack by the Modi government and its ideological backers RSS? How will the armed forces react when Modi will tear down the secular constitution and declare India a theocratic Hindu Rashtra? I have outlined above what is likely to happen when the armed forces are politicized and asked to be used to subvert the secular nature of the Indian nation-state. 

I strongly think that the Indian nation-state as it was carved out by the Indian National Congress and Nehru is in danger of disintegration. A nation-state that was birthed by using military might will very likely die by that same military might. The Indian subcontinent is ripe to go back to its historical nature of multiple in-fighting powers. Outside foreign powers might get lucky in grabbing some of its territories too, like China is already doing in border areas. As the Chinese curse says, the Indian nation-state is about to enter some very interesting times!   

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