Is Modi Suggesting That The Balakot Airstrike Was A Strategy To Get Votes?

It looks like Modi himself has finally revealed that the Balakot airstrike was just a facade or jumla, a word that has stuck to his persona like a leech. Military training is not enough to fight wars, knowledge of military strategies is equally important. Only skilled veterans will have the ability to simulate an entire war scenario in the war room and create the most effective winning strategy.

While one of the objectives in a war strategy would be to minimise casualties, it depends entirely on the overarching objective of the war. The same applies to battles and targeted military offensives. All major countries are developing or have developed advanced skills in short term engagements because no country can afford a full-scale war in the digital age with such advanced technology and weapons.

In 1971, India displayed its finest foreign policy and military strategy. When the East Pakistan crisis was at its worst and India was getting inundated with refugees, Indira Gandhi travelled to all major countries to ask for their help to intervene and solve the problems in East Pakistan. It was the time when the ‘Cold War’ was at its peak and Pakistan was a strategic ally of NATO. India was part of NAM and was perceived as closer to the Soviet Union. Although most countries were sympathetic to India’s concerns, no one extended help. After Indira Gandhi returned to India, she spoke to the military establishment about liberating East Pakistan.

But there was also the possibility of the war escalating on to the western front. That was the limit of Mrs Gandhi’s involvement. The blueprint of the strategy of the 1971 war was created entirely by the military establishment. Compare that with the present day surgical strike at Uri in 2016. PM Modi has admitted to playing an active role in strategising and executing the operations. What would a political leader without any formal training in military schools or military exercises know about military strategies?

It is this lack of knowledge that he has accidentally revealed in an interview in his preposterous zeal to project himself as a strong leader.

Modi Interview on BJP Twitter

The fact that the air force heeded to him and decided to send in the jets to destroy the camps in cloudy weather and rain is incomprehensible. Contrary to Modi’s illogical perception, radars do work in cloudy conditions and in the rain. It is the jets ability to conduct precision targeting that gets affected. The fact that Modi wanted the jets to be undetected by the Pakistani radars underlines something very important. Modi was seemingly scared of a measured military retaliation from Pakistan even though the operation was not against the Pakistan state itself and was targeted at the terrorist camps. These factors ensured that the strikes supposedly managed to raze only a few trees to the ground and missed the camps entirely. No wonder someone from Pakistan had jeeringly remarked on Twitter that if the trees had the ability to respond the jets would not have returned to India.

But a larger question looms before Modi. When there were clouds and rain, why the hurry? Why did Modi override IAF’s decision to postpone the strike? What was so important about those camps that warranted an immediate aerial strike against them on that night itself? Every military operation and especially the covert ones would have extremely specific and pinpointed objectives. Had the top leadership of JeM visited the camp at that time? Was there any important meeting or planning taking place for a terrorist attack in India? No such reason has been given by either the government or the IAF. What would simply bombing a few camps have achieved? JeM would have built more camps and used the premise to brainwash and recruit more people to create terrorists out of them.

It has become evident that the military offensive was born out of BJP’s political strategy especially after Modi started asking for votes in the name of the airstrike. The objective was to divert people’s attention towards national security from the government’s abject failure in governance in the last five years. Balakote gives us insights into the working of Modi’s mind. He is always looking to be in the limelight which can be observed from his obsession to be shown prominently in photos, videos and on TV channels. The same obsession clouds his judgement when it comes to decision making. He thinks one-dimensionally, rejects opinions and despises detractors. Once he makes up his mind about something, he wants everyone concerned to fall in line with his decision. When his decision goes wrong, the onus of defending him falls on the people around him while he moves on quickly to find something new to get back into the limelight. When he finds nothing of substance, he quickly goes on a foreign visit. This is how his five years as PM have unravelled, from demonetization to GST implementation to Rafale to Pulwama and finally Balakote.

But there is a bigger question that the country should be concerned with. When retired veterans are raucously arguing in support and against the Modi government on news channel debates, it is making me wonder how far the country’s military establishment has been politicised and more worryingly how deep has it been infected by the Hindutva ideology. Otherwise, why isn’t the establishment telling Modi sternly to not politicise military operations? The establishment has been degraded to the point where BJP leaders are calling it Modi’s army and Modi is openly claiming that military operations are his own brainchild.

The IAF has to explain why it chose to sacrifice its own credibility for Modi’s lust to hold on to the PM’s chair at any cost.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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