Wednesday, December 14, 2011


India's median age is 26 years and falling. A majority were born after Bangladesh. The '71 war is a fading memory. Alas.

Forty years have elapsed since that emphatic victory of light over darkness. Bangladesh finally became free. India emerged as a military power to reckon with. Pakistan shied away from overt war since.

The partition of Bengal in 1947 followed a debilitating famine. Its proud people, who share Tagore's music as their anthem, were torn asunder by forces impossible to comprehend. Denied basic human dignity, they asserted their nationhood. The Pakistani Army, which hasn't seen a war it cannot lose, unleashed a campaign of terror - a genocide on its own people that the world looked away from. Tellingly, there were no UN Security Council Resolutions on Bangladesh until December of 1971.

Yet, Bangladesh won the war. She thrives today, a nation at peace with her neighbors. Pakistan never found its footing again.

India did what any moral nation must. It intervened with decisive force and clear military purpose. Few military campaigns have been so effective since the Second World War. Korea remains in armistice. Vietnam burned America. Afghanistan toppled USSR. Other "savage wars of peace" have been costly, prolonged, and bloody. In Bangladesh, in a matter of weeks, Pakistan was crushed and shattered forever.

I look at Balochistan where Pakistan still wages the exact same war that lost it half of its bifurcated nationhood and most of its boastful manhood. But Pakistani Generals, sadly, see no parallels. If there were an exemplar of insanity, surely this is it.

Are there lessons from that great moral and military triumph? At a time when India is mired again in self-doubt and political paralysis, it's instructive and satisfying to note that - when the moment called for it - the nation came together, stared down two superpowers, and demolished the enemy with remarkable ease. It took conviction, iron will, and leadership. I watch Mrs Indira Gandhi's interview from then ( and take solace that, even in the era of Manmohan Singh and L K Advani, India may yet find a decisive leader among its Billion people.

Let me close by saluting the brave people of Bangladesh who won the war and the triumphant Indian army that made this happen.


Anonymous said...

I'm in the less than median category. A nice article. I think, our school history should start including two more decades after independence too in its syllabus.

In my readings of Bangladeshi newspapers, I can see that some of them believe that India went to war with the sole purpose of somehow defeating its 'arch-rival' Pakistan and breaking it up and whatever happened to Bangladeshis were side effects rather than intended one. They feel India is still some kind of passive enemy that was allied in '71 only by common enemy. I don't know the size of section of people who feel so. Any ideas?

Infinitchy said...

Beautifully written. The point regarding India's effective intervention as compared to similar attempts by more powerful countries elsewhere is testimony to the fact that the '71 war was, as close as possible, to the paradoxical 'war for peace' ideal that has now been converted into a tool for exploitation of other countries by the US.