Oct 24, 2016

Surgical Strikes – The Multipurpose Tool for All Seasons and All Reasons

R Jayaraman

This surgical strike business has got a life of its own now. By itself, it was a revelation. That an army could, in such a short time, organise a wide ranging strike to neutralise and eliminate enemy personnel is a striking competency hitherto unknown. And that too the Indian army, which often is held back by a political class which prizes peace over war mongering and rightly so. India has never stood for war and it will not rely on war as an instrument of strategy. Only after the patience of the people of the country is sorely tested leading to a national consensus that “enough is enough” and a large part of the international community in concurrence of the general opinion that the enemy has crossed all limits of forbearance should such a strike be called upon. Well done India and PM Modi.

It is a great diplomatic triumph that the international community has fully endorsed and supported the Indian point of view. This is the clear, unambiguous outcome of the various visits undertaken by the PM to far off lands. All those efforts were not without strategic intent. Nor was the master stroke of the quick landing and friendly take off from Nawaz Sharif’s backyard during the PM’s return from the USA. He also was gauging the power of the generals too. This sudden, unplanned meeting showed that the PM wanted a rapprochement, not war. He was extending the golden handshake, confirming that the invitation for the oath taking ceremony in New Delhi was not grand standing, it was the first sign that India was open for business.

However, the enemy generals misread the moves and thought that they were dealing with the old congress and authors coterie (this seminar and conferences loving coterie included Mani Shankar Iyer, Arundhati Roy, Dileep Padgaonkar, some of the leading lights from Punjab and some freeloading journos who are always on the hunt for freebies and scoops) which, while dealing with great patience, did not show any strategic spine in dealing with and putting a stop to these cross border picnics which seemed to have gone on for too long a time. It appeared that Indian lives did not count for much.

The surgical strikes have been compared to the Israeli efforts. Now this is a different ballgame. The Israelis are at the other end of the spectrum. Due to their situation where they are surrounded by a hostile lot of enemy collaborators, they have to deal with speed, precision and strength. While the Indian civilizational advantage gives it the wisdom to try out peaceful means before finally doing what is needed done, Israel, no less civilisationally advantaged, lacks the numbers or the moral power to curb violence. The image of the money hungry Jew, displayed in the Shakespearean play “Merchant of Venice”, to the flexing of muscles by the powerful Jewish lobby in the US and elsewhere, makes sure that the finger on the trigger is often too un-resty. Thus, out of sheer necessity the Israeli military had to innovate the surgical strike methodology and practice it to a fine art. But then the Indian army is not used to this, and rightly so. However what needs to be done, should be done.

“Striking activity” has not been unknown to corporate executives. In fact mergers and acquisitions have been in vogue ever since the dawn of business. Some of the voracious acquirers include GE, Walgreens, Kroger, Rubbermaid, GM, Ford, Benz and Volkswagen. Some of the biggest deals by Indian corporates include Tata Tea, Suzlon, Tata Motors, Tata Steel (Corus, the mother of all deals), Hindalco, and Vodafone. According to a report by Mr Rajat Kataria, (2010) (https://www.scribd.com/doc/53091392/Mergers-and-Acquisitions-in-India-2006-2010) the summary of such “striking” activities between 2006 and 2010:

Year Number of M & A Total (Bn INR) Total ( Bn USD) Average value per deal (Bn INR) Average value per deal ( Mn USD)
2006 697 865 19 1.24 28
2007 867(Including 262 private equity deals) 1576 38
2008 455 1027 23 2.3 52
2009 355 NA 12.5 1.027 22.3
2010 NA NA 68.3 120 100


Not bad for a developing economy.

Striking in Indian politics has also been known for long, the earliest manifestations being “Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram” defections. On many occasions several MLA’s / MP’s have been “kept in safe custody” to prevent predators from poaching them. Recently Mulayam Singh used this weapon in a very broad, silken way, so that the guy whose throat is getting cut is still unaware of the threat. Akhilesh apparently has to be reined in. Another news item, although, talks about the second wife being the guilty party. Lalu is another expert at this. He used this technique effectively to get Nitish on his side of the boat and they row it into the choppy waters of prohibition.

And so it goes. Surgical strike has now become the buzz word. I hope we don’t see more of it but you never know.

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