Transformation in India's strategic vision: From a soft state to one that can take hard steps
The shift of India's strategic vision post 2014 has left the adversaries and world surprised. A state that was seen as a soft state is now taking hard unpredictable steps which was earlier thought impossible. 
 - Abhinandan Mishra

For the first time in more than 70 years of its existence, India has taken into its possession the ‘element of surprise’, something that was exclusively used by Pakistan all these time. India has also added the ‘element of unpredictability’ into its strategic arsenals.
When the surgical strike of September 2016 took place, Pakistan and the world were left surprised over the step that India had taken. Till then it was thought that India, despite having the capabilities, would never undertake any such hard measures.
And with the Balakot air strike, that took place earlier this year, India has put itself into a league whose one of the characteristics, when it comes to strategic interest, is ‘unpredictability’.
Before 2016, policy makers and defence analyst in the world over knew that India was a country with powerful military but they also knew that it was a country that follows a fixed template, which basically revolved around two options when it comes to dealing with Pakistan’s misadventure, either operationalizing its armed force on the Line of Control whenever a terror attacks takes place or handing dossiers or taking both the steps, one after the other.
There was no other third option that India seemed to possess.
Before the surgical strike, India’s ‘modus-operandi’ when it came to responding to Pakistan sponsored terror attacks, was that of ‘reacting’ to Pakistan’s moves.
It was Pakistan that used the ‘element of surprise’, by surprising India with terror attacks in Delhi, in Mumbai, in Uri, in Pathankot and so on.
However, now that powerful ‘element of surprise’ is now with India. There is no “Lakshman-rekha’, so to speak, for India now. Crossing of LoC, if the situation calls for, is now a very viable option, not a road block as it was during the Kargil war.
When India abrogated Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, it was both a surprising and an unpredictable step.
Even though Article 370 was always a part of BJP’s poll manifesto, no one, especially Pakistan believed that the BJP government would be able to gather the courage to execute what it has promised in its manifesto.
Now, Pakistan is ‘reacting’ to India’s moves and to be honest, it is failing miserably in it. The most it has been able to achieve in the last one month to register its anger’ is handing dossiers to other countries, something that India was known for.
Governments will come and go, but the fact that the government that is in power now, managed to add the aspect of ‘surprise’ and ‘unpredictability’ into India’s strategic arsenal, will have a massive impact on how India is seen globally for years to come.
India is now a ‘soft state’ that can take hard steps.
(The author is a journalist)