Major General G. D. Bakshi – Strategic Initiative for Indian Security

By: Shreepal Singh

There was a lecture by Major General G. D. Bakshi (Retd.) at IIT Madras on ‘Rise of the Indian Army and National Security’, which subject given the current volatile situation in South Asia on account of terrorism is of great importance to India. Major General Bakshi is a decorated soldier and knows the complexities involved in guaranteeing the security of a country. When he spoke with a brilliant analysis of the past historical events relating to his subject and came to the present times with an insight into the strategic moves that India should adopt in dealing with the issues that this country is facing, there was an attempt to create a ruckus by four or five persons in the audience.

Later on, it transpired that these persons were students from the State of Jammu and Kashmir and had a few more sympathizers from the Ambedkar-Periyar-Leftist group present in this institution. Then, an open letter was written by one Abhinav Surya to the head of the institution raising his objection to the contents of the lecture by Mr. Bakshi. This letter gave its own version of what Major General Bakshi had said and then alleged that it was ‘filled with hatred, instigating violence among the students … was heavily loaded with brewing enmity, inhumanity and glorification of brutality’. This incident was first reported by Indian Express and a lot of comments – supporting and opposing what Mr. Bakshi had said – were posted on the site of this newspaper. A comment was posted by the present author in these words, ‘My dear Abhinav Surya, I would like to ask you a question: Do you live in India of your dreamland or India of a harsh reality? If you live in India of your dreamland, you are fit to be labelled a buffoon and if you live in India of harsh reality, you should be sent for military duty – of course, after training – on the border with Pakistan to correct your mental delusion. Dear Abhinav you must know that the Institute where you study needs at least one assurance: it should not be overrun by Pakistan troops (for which work they are trained and missioned). You seem to be very short on history and international affairs. History of how and why Pakistan was made, what it did in 1948 to India, what it did to Bombay / Indian Parliament. International affairs about Osama Bin Laddan, Taliban, Fidayin … a long list. Do you have any idea, Mr Abhinav, what is and what for Fidayins are? If you don’t know all these things even though you are given to learn – a student – SHAME on you! Mind you, it is not jingoism, it is not nationalism; it is ensuring your security by Mr. Bakshi when he talks what he talked.’

However, in this write-up we are not concerned about the attempted ruckus at the event by those Kashmiri students or the justification of the Abhinav’s letter. We are concerned here what Major General Bakshi had said there – and its merit or otherwise for India of today.

The letter of Abhinav Surya gives its own version of what Mr. Bakshi had said and on that basis raised an objection to the very invitation extended to Mr. Bakshi by the Director of the institute. It looks the letter is building up a case to raise an objection and should be taken with a pinch of salt. There was also an independent eye witness account of what Mr. Bakshi had said there. This version is reported in Swarajya. This version is reproduced here.

“The lecture on the “Rise of the Indian Army and National Security” held on 11 August 2016, given by Major General Dr G.D. Bakshi, created ripples across the intellectual circles inside IIT-M.

What I got to see was that when I reached the CLT hall, it was packed and the time was nearly 6:40 PM. I didn’t find a place to set my foot inside and had to stand outside for a minute until some generous people gave me way. At the time, the Retd Major General was speaking about the military strategies that have been practised from Mauryan times till today. He described how psychological warfare by Indians who propagated the message of having a 9000 elephant-strong army, to demoralise the Greek forces, had led to the retreat of Alexander.

He then went on to explain how Babar had used camel cannons and artillery to defeat the Sultanate forces who were still using the outdated technique of war-elephants. He cautioned us that if we didn’t modernise our weapons, we would fail. He further described the method of British forces which used discipline and military formations of infantry to defeat Indians’ strong world-renowned cavalry.

He then moved on to explain the role of Indian Army in the 1857 War of Independence. I could see that there were a few murmurs and amazed expressions at his usage of the term “Indian Army” for the soldiers who worked for the British at the time. However, he clarified how the British army was largely drawn from the Indian masses and how the British were only its officers. He elaborated how the British in India could survive here only because of the “Indian” Army (logic given about populous Indian fighters) and how, once they started losing grip over this army, they fled. And the first time the grip was loosened was during the intra-army rebellions that culminated in the First War of Independence.

Hindus and Muslims fought with unity and all castes and creeds were forgotten. General Bakshi said that this was the first time that the British saw a united Indian effort, and it terrified them. They realised that if they started dividing us on the basis of caste, they could rule over us. This led to the genesis of the first ever caste-based census under which everyone had to register their caste as per definitions laid out by the British officials.

General Bakshi went on to explain the role of the Indian Army in the two World Wars and how the robustness of our men earned us praises even from our enemies.  The 2.5 million strong army of Indians, controlled by the British, was invincible and when foreigners in foreign lands identified the armymen as Indians, it gave shape to a sense of “Indianness” in the soldiers which, hitherto, was not articulated so vividly. They began to realise then that they were part of a geographical entity that defined them as “Indians”.

Coming to the Indian National Army (INA) and Subhas Chandra Bose’s role in it, he said it is not wholly because of non-violence that we got our Independence, but it was also due to the sacrifice of 26,000 soldiers of the INA against their fight with the British in Nagaland and Manipur. The trial of INA soldiers in Red Fort created an uproar all over the country and the British realised that they had now lost their discipline over the Indian Army. This resulted in revolts in different cantonments in British India from Bombay to Karachi to Calcutta in all three wings of the Armed Forces. This terrified the administration and they were finally driven out. It didn’t mean that the Indian non-violent struggle was not doing anything, but it was not the only major force or factor to uproot the British. It was also the blood spilled in battlefields which resulted in our freedom. He said that non-violent struggle, as that which was practised after World War I, would have resulted in the British appeasing the elite class by some political concession.

This statement of his, I felt, would have directly pierced the hearts of people who had blindly believed in Gandhism. I, too, felt the same. But it was enlightening to know this version of the Indian Independence struggle story.  This was the outlook of a soldier, one we have seldom heard and read about in our history books. Indeed, I came back to refer to NCERT history books after the event to see if it was even talked about, and I found that it is mentioned but so much in passing that it does not get registered. This is like paying lip service to the effect of the INA on the Indian Independence struggle.

General Bakshi then said something that has been grossly misreported and distorted by mainstream media outlets that have picked up this news. He said that even if India got its independence in 1947, she got re-Independence from theAnglophile leadership only in 2014. This statement from him has been twisted by the mainstream media outlets to mean as if he said India achieved independence only in 2014. He explained further that, till that time, we were having leaders who regarded English to be placed higher than the Indian languages.

He said that in 2014 we obtained freedom from Western centric thoughts, which were still recognised as better and higher to anything native to India. It is very clear from the above statements that the General was talking about the influence of Western languages and thought on our psyches until the current government took over in 2014 and made it a matter of pride to talk and conduct business in Indian languages.

General Bakshi questioned the motive behind India’s Intelligence Bureau’s allegiance to the British MI5 till 1960s, and we also had to think about it for we were also confounded by the idea that an independent nation’s Intelligence Forces were to be beholden to its former colonisers. We felt how little we knew of the state of the intelligence and Armed Forces of our country. And then he went on to describe the wars of India against Pakistan and China and showed the pattern of deployment of divisions in respective wars. His focus now came to the 1971 war, which was a death blow to Pakistan as Pakistan couldn’t dare to declare full-scale war on India after it.

When alluding to 1965, he praised the efforts of a young democracy and its new leader Lal Bahadur Shastri to defend the borders from Operation Gibraltar, launched by Pakistan who took the help of American Patton Tanks. He spoke of how India got defeated by China in 1962 due to some individuals’ greed for power, who lobbied to Nehru to control significant roles inside the army, and how their inefficiency led to defeat of a better positioned army against a tactical invader.

In 1971, Indira Gandhi’s well intentioned decisive action with the help of the world’s best Army tactician of the time, General Sam Manekshaw, led to the effective dealing of the Eastern front and creation of Bangladesh. He showed the plan and the strategies, followed by the Army, and the incidents and situations which happened then, like, the conversation between Gen Sam and Smt Indira Gandhi, Gen Sam and his friend Captain Jacob, etc. He told us how prisoners of war from East Pakistan, who had been pillaging the houses of Bengali nationalists and raping their women, had to stand defeated and helpless in front of mighty Indian Army.  He informed us of a way to deter Pakistan as a tit-for-tat measure to give a befitting reply to Pakistan by further dividing it into four separate countries, according to aspirations of the local people, whenever Pakistan tries to hamper the unity of India.

This was the whole part of his talk that led to his views on how Pakistan should be treated (which has been widely reported). When seen in the total context of what has been reported, one can see, in his formulation, how a patriotic soldier reacts to so many war situations provoked by an enemy neighbour country.

Then he moved on to give details about the Kargil War of 1999, and then it came to our notice that some of the students were constantly moving in and out. The Major General gave detailed reports of the demography of the state and talked about how Kashmir is being afflicted by pro-Pakistan agenda which has nothing to do with the state’s welfare. He mentioned about the recent unrest regarding the death of terrorist Burhan Wani, which was a Pakistan-funded drama.

At this point, there was a call from somewhere “Azaadi”. We ignored it. Then we saw two students having skirmishes and many more students coming from the door to shout at the speaker, saying that this is unjust. The protesting students claimed that the killings in the unrest could not be justified and that the use of pellets killed 67.  Is that the truth?

By this time, there were five to eight students, in a group, shouting at the speaker. These students were later recognised as Indians from the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The speaker was supported by many students who, by this time, felt that they had to clap in order to keep the prestige of IIT. When the coordinator bettered the situation and took control, the group agreed to have a peaceful conversation with the speaker.

One student from the group alleged that the recent unrest started on Eid and that many were affected, including a child and an old woman. The validity of the news was a question that was on the minds of many. General Bakshi answered the question by asking what they were doing near Army bunkers on the auspicious day of Eid. He said that the army was attacked on the streets and it wasn’t them who went to each house to pick the people to kill them. When given this response, the student said something which was out of context and quite inaudible. After that, they left the auditorium. Following them, about two to three other students took the mike to say that the ex- Major General is a war monger and showed the lowest level of thinking. The General responded by encouraging the students to join and work for the Indian Armed Forces and help to improve our capabilities.

The discussion was over with slides about different budget spending comparisons and the looming threat to India if it doesn’t modernize its forces which it last did in the 1980s. The General said that the symptoms of this desuetude are being felt in recent phenomena like the missing of MIG fighters and fire-incidences of submarines.

This is all what I observed. It’s for you to judge now.”

For those who care for this country and its security and well-being, what Major General G. D. Bakshi has said is an eye-opening lecture. Still there are persons who call themselves Indians and, instead of showing any interest in ensuring security for this country, label a soldier’s prudent warning against a proven enemy and its design as “brewing enmity, inhumanity and glorification of brutality“.

The time has come for India as a nation and its people to be vigilant and take note of those who want to sit on the opposite side of the fence.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Swapankumar Mazumder
    Aug 14, 2016 @ 20:11:32

    What are the 4 prospective countries that are meant by Hon’ble Major General G.D. Bakshi? It ought to be: Bangladesh (ii) West Bengal (iii) the small Pakistan in existence and (iv) India being divided by West Bengal, which Pakistan wanted to divide. I do cry for a reply!

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    • Authors of posts
      Aug 14, 2016 @ 20:57:59

      You got all wrong, dear Mazumder! You seem to be completely out of touch with what is currently going on in Pakistan. Please search Baluchistan on You Tube. Likewise, with Sindh and Pakhtun areas. Add to this Gilgit and Baltistan areas of Pakistan occupied Kasmir. Is this enough to satisfy your query?

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  2. Stephanie Ellison
    Aug 14, 2016 @ 20:20:11

    Whoops, the cat is out of the bag about military modernization… This needs to be done as necessary ASAP. Thank you for the article, which sums up my suspicions about events of the last 70+ years. It’s too bad. I’m not Indian and young enough to join…

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    • Authors of posts
      Aug 15, 2016 @ 10:57:17

      In reply to Stephanie Ellison’s comment: There are three riddles for you to solve; all possible answers are given and you have to choose one – the correct one; to help you choose, clue to each riddle is given. Riddles No. 1 and 2 carry 2.5 marks each and Riddle No. 3 carries 5 marks. (It is also a riddle!)
      Riddles No. 1: Which thought, when put in action, brings our world more close to the danger of annihilation by an atomic war? a) Nazis’ thought that the (alleged) Aryans have a right to subjugate and rule the world b) Communists’ thought that the (alleged) proletariats have a right to establish their world dictatorship c) Islamic thought (of a sect) that God has ordered its adherents to put everything, including their lives, at stake to bring entire world into its fold. (Clue – The problem and solutions relate only to the present times).
      Riddle No. 2: If a nation is constantly harassed and again and again attacked by the most dangerous thought’s followers (depending upon your choice as to which one is most dangerous thought), what the victim nation should do? a) It should surrender to the aggressor b) It should defend itself and get ready for the next attack c) It should ensure that the attacker is never in a position to attack again. (Clue – Answer relates to Major General Bakshi’s lecture).
      Riddle No. 3: (Depending upon your choice to riddles No. 1 and 2) When such a victim nation is dealing with its problem, what should be the reaction of rest of the world? a) Others should remain aloof and non-concerned till they too are attacked by the belligerent thought b) Others should help the victim and wait till their turn comes c) All should unite and find a permanent solution to the belligerent thought.

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  3. Trackback: Three Riddles for you to solve! | Indian People's Congress

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