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Saturday September 21, 2019

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WEST ASIAN SPECTRES

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What came to be perceived as an Arab Spring germinating in Tunisia has been hijacked by external powers to cause mayhem in the West Asia-Middle East salient. India, which geographically appears to be situated at a safe distance from this volatile epicenter, has had a long history of cultural, trade and political interactions with the imploding nation-States of this region. It is, thus, seeing the ghosts that could also visit us. Europe has already felt the backlash in the form of terrorist attacks. So, distance is no longer a barricade against disasters and communications and insidious messaging that can brainwash a fertile imagination and lead to undeclared wars.

Thus, Syria is not the first of this kind of deliberate disruption of vulnerable nations. India has had to bear a series of insurgencies since its creation in 1947. That it has managed to retain its territorial integrity is, by itself, a miracle. Perhaps the worst national disaster, the Khalistan Sikh uprising, intended to replicate the “two-nation theory” was used to artificially bifurcate Pakistan from the Indian polity. It was effectively crushed with a series of counter-insurgency operations. But there are signs of attempts to revive it once again and accentuate the dangers that are lurking in Jammu and Kashmir.

Tunisia and Syria have shown how huge conflagrations have small beginnings. Tunisia, by an act of self-immolation by a man, goaded into taking the fatal step by corrupt officials. That spark has by no means abated and Syria showed that mishandling graffiti on the wall could have serious consequences. Moreover, civil conflicts have been sparked by perceived atrocities on weaker sections of society.

Indian civil society is a skein of diverse colours, each increasingly vying for either a more equitable portion of the national pie or a dignified place in the sun. This diversity is being sought to be exploited by anti-national elements for political or electoral gains and the uprising of the Dalits’ sparked by a Supreme Court ruling that is perceived to undo the legal underpinning of an affirmative action intended to prevent atrocities is a sign of things to come.

Governments at the Centre as well as in the States need to be more alert to apparently small provocations like warnings scribbled on selected residences and physical attacks on the basis of caste and religion. Internally displaced persons or a large influx of unaccounted-for foreigners can be extremely disruptive, severely damaging the gains the economy and development may have nurtured.

This edition of DSA has been dedicated on the situation of Syria and on the geostrategic options for India. Our distinguished subject experts have tried to depict the whole situation for you, dear reader, to update you on the nightmare in Syria and its consequences for the rest of the world, including India. Happy reading!

Jai Hind!


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