War by other means’ is an important doctrine of warfare. The objective remains the same though, to debilitate a nation, to force it to submission, to devastate and cripple it from within, to manipulate a regime change by dethroning the incumbent one, and to put a substitute regime in power which is more amenable to the conqueror. With time, conventional wars became less feasible considering the devastation that they cause and the costs involved in sustaining them. Those who could not win or push their narrative through conventional wars found succour in furthering terrorism to bleed a country from inside.
From Conventional to Asymmetric War
For decades, cross-border and foreign funded terrorism kept on devastating nation after nation. There was always the case of plausible deniability to refute involvement when the terror financing State was accused of wrongdoing, by simply terming those terror groups as non-State actors, and that the accused State has nothing to do with them. For decades, terrorism remained a viable option of inflicting wound, which otherwise could not be done through conventional wars. Few countries have faced the brunt of terrorism more than India has faced it for more than four decades now.
Yet, in the post 9/11 scenario, even though terrorism did not vanish, its impact on breaking a nation diminished substantially. On the contrary, any act of terrorism ended up in making a nation stand more in unison and with bigger resolve to defeat the perpetrators and their masterminds.
Modi Govt and New Dimension of Hybrid War
Over the last few years, India has been facing a new kind of ‘war’. To understand what it is facing, one has to realise what the Modi Government did in the last few years to make India fundamentally a strong nation.
Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government came to power in 2014, riding on the back of an overwhelming popular vote in its favour, the country started a new journey towards self-reliance by weeding out the systemic rots that plagued it for decades. Therefore, in the last seven years almost, unprecedented levels of efforts have been made by the Modi Government to modernise India’s Armed Forces. Defence acquisitions that were pending for years were cleared to shore up the arsenal of the forces. Likewise, a ruthless approach was taken not just to deal with terror elements and Maoist groups but also dismantle their funding architecture and radicalisation channels. In J&K alone, more than 1,000 hardcore terrorists and their commanders have been eliminated, several money-laundering syndicates financing terrorism have been busted and institutions preaching radicalisation have been banned. Further, even as Central and State-level security forces went for a hot pursuit of Maoist groups, NIA created a dedicated wing to trace funding of Maoist groups. Likewise, unprecedented crackdown started on fake currency rackets and drug money syndicates that often have a key role in funding anti-national activities.
In addition to this, the Modi Government started massive crackdown on shell companies operating in India. Till 2020, nearly four lakh shell companies were struck down from thelist of the Registrar of Companies by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Leakages in public distribution system and cash disbursement were plugged through direct benefit transfer (DBT). Above all, an unprecedented move was made to blacklist thousands of NGOs which were operating in India without any kind of accountability and were receiving foreign funds for carrying forward suspicious activities that were not in the interest of the nation.
Surprisingly, even as the Modi Government went ahead with the clean-up acts to make India more resilient, strong, and a torchbearer of democracy and pluralism in Asia, a shocking spate of attacks on the Government started since 2015, where small local issues were getting amplified to give a communal angle or to portray the incumbent NDA Government as ‘hegemonic’, ‘partial’, ‘fascist’ and ‘brutal’. Nothing was far from truth than that.
For decades, terrorism remained a viable option of inflicting wound, which otherwise could not be done through conventional wars. Yet, in the post 9/11 scenario, even though terrorism did not vanish, its impact on breaking a nation diminished substantially. On the contrary, any act of terrorism ended up in making a nation stand more in unison
Even though the Modi Government has been striving relentlessly to make sure that even the last penny given out by the Government of India for the benefit of poor reach their pockets, or bank accounts, even as every scheme has been implemented without any communal or caste bias, and even as the delivery to the poor and their visible improvement in their living conditions was evident, a narrative to the contrast was getting created time and again, by a cabal, which seemed to be getting increasingly rattled by the existence of the Modi Government and its clean-up work.
Dimensions of Hybrid War
From the JNU incident to anti-CAA riots followed by Republic Day riots in the heart of Delhi, there is a pattern in all of these. If a law which is aimed at providing Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, was twisted with lies and dangerous falsehoods by vested interests, to portray it as a threat to Muslims of India, to trigger anti-CAA riots, in case of the Republic Day riots, a series of reforms aimed at improving the financial condition of India’s vast population of marginal and small farmers, by unchaining them from the stranglehold of commission agents and middlemen through market reforms, was deliberately twisted and manipulated with falsehoods to project the same very laws as against interest of farmers.
In between there were also some ridiculous narratives embedded with falsehoods that were created to project India as ‘intolerant’. In each of the above-mentioned instances, a pattern can be witnessed which indicates certain invisible hands playing a key role in triggering disdain, revulsion and antipathy among people against their own country’s government. Those triggers are seldom based on facts but imbibed with selective amplification of incidents, rhetoric, fake emotional appeals, and frequent use of some specific words such as ‘fascist’ that are deliberately used to portray an incumbent Government in negative light.
Anti-CAA Protests were conducted across the country with the help of foreign funds
Over the last few years, social media platforms have been playing a key role in over-amplifying even local incidents. It has become increasingly easy for people sitting abroad to comment on issues without getting into depth of subject. Yet those Tweets when emerges from twitter handles of Western celebrities do end up in globalising events. Also, neutrality of those social media sites are also in question.
Support Any ‘Cause’ that would Weaken Government
In essence, one thing is clear from the Arab Spring in West Asia that almost rattled nation after nation there, to conspiracies in India to trigger nationwide riots and violence, both in 2020 and 2021, it seems that there are powerful syndicates who would support any cause, without even getting into details of it, so long as those protests are aimed at incumbent Government of States, especially powerful and emerging States like India. Ironically, the farm protests, are mainly being staged by rich farmers and powerful commission agents, who for decades, controlled agriculture in India like a feudal system. They are protesting against laws that would end their monopoly and empower small farmers, even those protests are being supported by Western celebrities, activists and columnists in the name of supporting ‘poor farmers’ cause’. Is it because they care for Indian farmers? Certainly not, because in that case, they would have tried to find out as to how lack of agriculture market reforms been the reason for farmers, in hundreds of thousands, committing suicides in India in the last few decades. They would have, in that case, known why farm reforms are necessary. If they had been genuinely concerned about the people of India, then they would have shown solidarity with India when Pulwama terror attack or Covid pandemic struck India. But they did not. And neither did they support India’s fight back against terrorism or Covid.
Forces Orchestrating Unrest
Therefore, the next question is if they are not extending support based on facts, then is it that these celebrities are tweeting because they have been paid or told to do so? In that case, the question is-- who are those who fund such campaigns and who, through discrete funding of NGOs, silently create mayhem within countries in the name of ‘human rights’ and ‘justice’?
Does India’s vibrant and resilient democracy built on the faith and electoral votes of hundreds of millions of voters need lectures on democracy by foreign-funded, self-serving NGOs? If those NGOs genuinely want to work in making democracy of respective countries better, should their founders not join electoral politics there, instead of manipulating things with foreign funds and engineering social discord?
In today’s era, it is not that most powerful entities are only countries in possession of nuclear weapons. There is a select list of powerful syndicates, investment banking and technology companies and influential self-proclaimed philanthropists who are like States within a State, and who at times are more powerful than incumbent governments of even the most powerful countries of the world.
The ‘Black Lives Matter’ riot in US in 2020 triggered by tragic death of George Floyd by policemen, eventually became less of a movement against police methods in the US to pin suspects down and more of arson, loot, mayhem and above all, a show of strength to defy the incumbent Trump administration. The ‘Black Live Matter’ arson and riots exemplified how mob can be weaponised to burn down city after city, something which none of USA’s enemies could ever inflict on it, but its own people did, driven by a frenzy, instigated by fake news, organised through social media, and funded, allegedly, by powerful non-government organisations.
The ‘Black Live Matter’ arson and riots exemplified how mob can be weaponised to burn down city after city, something which none of USA’s enemies could ever inflict on it, but its own people did, driven by a frenzy, instigated by fake news, organised through social media, and funded, allegedly, by powerful non-governmental organisations
‘Philanthropists’ and their not-so-Benevolent Agenda
Over the last few years, the name of George Soros funded Open Society Foundations, has often cropped up every time civil unrest and mob violence on a large scale affected a country. A few things about Open Society Foundations can be a real eye-opener to understand what exactly is happening in this world now. The website of Open Society Foundations states, “In 2017, the Open Society Foundations announced that Soros had transferred $18 billion of his fortune towards funding the future work of the Foundations, bringing his total giving to the Foundations since 1984 to over $32 billion.”
The website also states, “The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. In pursuit of this mission, we work on a wide variety of issues both geographically and thematically. National and regional foundations affiliated with Open Society also focus on the open society issues and concerns most relevant in their countries or regions….,,.The vast majority of the grants made by Open Society are to organisations. Every year, Open Society awards grants for a wide range of activities, everything from discrete project grants to general operating support.”
Therefore, here is an organisation with billions of dollars in its coffers to fund organisations in various countries to build its own version of democracy. In other words, Open Society Foundations and its bunch of funded NGOs would lecture, dictate and manipulate things within in a country to create what they believe is ‘democracy’ and not the people of that nation. Should that not be the work of the people of that country instead of foreign NGOs? Should it not be called gross interference into affairs of a country? Does India’s vibrant and resilient democracy built on the faith and electoral votes of hundreds of millions of voters need lectures on democracy by foreign-funded, self-serving NGOs? If those NGOs genuinely want to work in making democracy of respective countries better, should their founders not join electoral politics there, instead of manipulating things with foreign funds and engineering social discord?
Nationalism, an Anathema?
One can still understand, though not support, if NGOs, even those funded from abroad, attempt to bring democracy in dictatorial regimes. But what is the reason for their interference and anger towards India, which is the world’s biggest democracy? The answer to that question lies in an incident that happened in January 2020. Among others, Bloomberg reported, ‘George Soros to Start $1 Billion School to Fight Nationalists, Climate Change’. One may feel aghast and wonder as to why someone would pledge a billion dollar to fight nationalists. Is nationalism or loving one’s own nation a sin? Is it that some powerful global NGOs are working overtime to corrode nations from within and by imbibing hatred among youth against their own country?
The reality of ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement was echoed the best by Sheriff David Clarke, of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. During a television interview in 2016 over a riot in which three police officers were killed and three more were wounded. Sheriff Clarke, when asked by the anchor about what his message was, stated, “My message has been clear from day one. Two years ago, (that) this anti-cop sentiment from this hateful ideology called ‘Black Lives Matter’, has fuelled this rage against American police officers. I predicted this two years ago….this anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country has turned out some hateful things inside the people that are now playing themselves out on the American police officers…”. Incidentally, Sheriff David Clarke is an African-American and not a White American. Something similar happened on the day of Republic Day riots when rioters driving tractors tried to mow down policemen on duty.
In fact, an excerpt from the book ‘Globalization’ by George Soros, as quoted in an article in medium.com by Paul Austin Murphy, titled,‘George Soros Explains What He Means By “Open Society”’ gives an indication of what the powerful philanthropist, supporting many a dissent, think of nations. He writes, “The member states of the EU have gone quite far in surrendering their sovereignty. The future of the EU will show how far it is possible to go along that avenue.”Does George Soros want every country to give up its sovereignty? Is that even a plausible idea? In fact, as per Bloomberg, “Billionaire George Soros said he will commit $1 billion to start a global university to fight authoritarian governments and climate change, calling them twin challenges that threaten the survival of our civilization.” Is India among those at the receiving end of this maleficent generosity? In that case, it is time for India and its 1.3 billion people to fight back.
Why a Strong India worries Global NGOs
Therefore, one may construe that those who have been fanning disorder in the name of dissent in India may have a problem with the nationalistic credentials of the Narendra Modi Government.They have, perhaps, a problem that here is a Government which altered the threshold of counter-terror response mechanism and gave befitting reply to Pakistan through Balakot airstrikes by killing more than 300 hardcore terrorists. They have, perhaps, a problem with the Modi Government because it resisted the hegemonic behavior of China and vigorously challenged it. Their problem is also because the Modi Government is striving to make India a resilient state by investing in world class infrastructure and by creating the foundation of next generation growth in the country that would help unleashing and nurturing the capabilities of young Indians to attain success in their ventures and create wealth both for themselves and for the nation. Their problem is the Narendra Modi Government is strong and cannot be manipulated.
In the name of farmers, pro-Khalistan Sympathisers bludgeoned
the police and indulged in vandalism on Republic Day
As India continues its journey towards becoming a $10 trillion economy by 2030-32 and third largest economy by 2050, India would have to be prepared to not just face evil designs of countries like Pakistan or China, and terror groups, but also a whole bunch of NGOs and their foreign mentors, who would not spare any opportunity to corrode India from within and constantly attack its democracy, cultural ethos and value systems
Who will Decide our Destiny?
The fundamental question that needs to be asked is whether eventually, some foreign NGOs backed by some irrational philanthropists, with deep pockets, would decide the destiny of countries like India or whether the mandate to chart the destiny of India is with the people of India and the government they have elected in one of the most transparent electoral processes of the world.
Piggybacking such foreign NGOs and their generous funding to create chaos in countries are a bunch of home-grown anarchists who stand no chance to win even a simple election, but would still want to decide the destiny of India or rather ruin it, through triggering of chaos, riots, mayhem and arson, all in the name of dissent and ‘right to protest’. From Khalistanis to Maoists, from ISI to missionaries, they have all now realised that on their own they may have little impact but working in tandem and with support from some generous foreign donors and influencers, they can now think of inflicting damage to India.
Therefore, the so-called protests and riots that India witnessed both in 2020 and in 2021, were not random acts of violence but extremely orchestrated, preplanned, well-funded, strategically designed acts to not just bring bad name to India, but also to create social discord, and severe impediments for the incumbent Government. If the Government reacts strictly for upkeeping of law & order, then it would be termed ‘fascist’, while if it does not do so then it would be projected as ‘weak’ and that the nation is not safe for investments.
As has been the case of Arab Spring, it is now a tried and tested method to trigger mob violence through dissemination of fake news and hateful messages by using social media, and then use the mob as a weapon to turn against the state by making it fight brutally against its own country’s security forces. In case of casualties, use that as a pretext to call for ‘armed uprising’ and seek global intervention to oust the incumbent government through civil war, albeit with generous support from other countries, and then create a failed state out of it.
As India continues its journey towards becoming a $10 trillion economy by 2030-32 and third largest economy by 2050, India would have to be prepared to not just face evil designs of countries like Pakistan or China, and terror groups, but also a whole bunch of NGOs and their foreign mentors, who would not spare any opportunity to corrode India from within and constantly attack its democracy, cultural ethos and value systems. Just as the Modi Government strives to make India among the top economies of the world, they would try to pin India down through riots and arson, turn India into a failed State. As a nation, the fight against this kind of new dimension of warfare would need a new kind of ideological determination to fight back. Fighter planes and missiles may not help this war. Grooming new generations with deep value system and passion for the nation is key to fighting back those who want to reduce countries to nothing more than open lawless ghettos, in the name of open societies.
(The writer is a research consultant on strategic, defence & security affairs)