Some thoughts from the Pune – the Covid Hotspot

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As many of you might know i live in Pune, which is currently the Covid capital of the world. I am not very inclined to writing personal experiences on blogs read by strangers, but here i am making an exception as i have felt the urge to share this experience for over a month.

Like everyone in the world, Covid has had terrible impact on life in Pune (and Maharashtra on whole) especially these last 2-3 months. India went into a harsh lock-down around March end and the lock-down continued in some form into the month of May. Things started getting loosened up by May end when Mumbai and Ahmedabad were the Covid hotspots in the country shortly followed by Delhi and Thane. But since July, its Pune that had held the pole position. We are yet to see 3 digit new cases per day since start of July with the average daily increase of cases being around 3000.

Graph courtesy @DeoSahil on Twitter

As seen since July end the case load in Pune Municipal corporation (Pune city) has plateaued at saturation level with no signs of going down. A mega facility to treat the rising Covid patients was opened in the city, but it has gotten very bad reviews with many citing negligence and lack of medical staff at the facility.  Link

COEP Jumbo Hospital

A Pune based journalist died  a few weeks ago after not medical treatment on time. This incidence sent panics waves across the city as a well connected person (journalist and lot of noise of social media) couldn’t get treatment on time, the condition of normal patients is much worse (viz getting treatment). Out of habit i keep checking the CSS board of available beds daily and on most instances the picture is similar to seen below. A daily small time spike in ventilator means generally means there have been more fatalities than admissions into ICU with ventilators.

Even though the Oxygen-less beds are 3005, there is extremely acute shortage of staff, hence the number is largely immaterial. The vacant oxygen enabled bed is 133, but even they are not well staffed and getting admission is anything but easy.

The test positivity rate has been consistently over 20% since July and at times has also touched 30% inspite of testing being scaled up significantly. Pune district has a population of 7 million and 250000 positive cases. But no one believes these numbers to be accurate as there is massive under-counting as found in the sero surveys. Even if one assumes a moderate 5,6 times more cases, Pune has almost 15-20% population infected (with the number being higher in core city). Why the quieter non Metro city of Pune has overtaken busier Mumbai and Delhi hasn’t been properly explored yet.

Every-time i have gone out to buy something or just for a bike/car ride, i have atleast seen 2 or 3 ambulances (at times even more). As of now I personally know atleast 50-100 people who have contracted Covid – including many close relatives and friends. A reasonably healthy 50 year old woman family friend of ours, was in ICU for 2 weeks including on ventilator for 2-3 days before getting out of hospital. She also suffered a stroke and it might take her months to make a recovery. A close friend of mine aged 30 and in reasonable health had a high fever for 15 days before getting admitted for low oxygen. This friend got Remdesivir and apparently that worked well for him. His fever subsided the next day and oxygen level was back up in a couple of days. His experience in hospital was harrowing, as the hospitals are extremely overworked. Over 20 people from my old society (where ~40 people live) have been infected including one fatality. Currently 2,3 people i know well are in ICU with news of their health coming infrequently. Even in the people who have recovered (including my in-laws), the recovery isn’t 100% even 2 months after the negative test. There are many instances of people getting admitted for some other issue and getting infected in hospitals with Covid and finally succumbing to Covid (not the original ailment). My wife tested positive a day after she delivered in early August with CT value 37.5 (not infectious according to experts), I tested 2 days later and was negative. Thankfully my wife had no symptoms whatsoever, but still the experience was extremely stressful. Adding to the misery, the hospital was seriously understaffed, leading to lot of chaos and bad health care inversely proportional to current health care costs.

I had personally guessed that cases will start falling around end of August given the high % infection in Pune, but they haven’t fallen yet. The Ganesh festival wasn’t celebrated publicly for the first time in 100+ years – yet people did visit each others houses for the festival. The resultant infections , with entire extended families getting infected in a matter of days resulted in a tall spike around start of September. For last two weeks not a day has passed by when i haven’t heard of some new cases in people i know on first name basis. All this while i continue to lead a very safe life with working from home & incomes unaffected.

From my own anecdotes in my experience, I can say see reasonable correlation between quantity of exposure and severity as suggested by Siddhartha Mukherjee. The thirty year old friend of mine spent half an hour talking to a man who was coughing intermittently (without masks & indoors). Typically the person from the family who gets the disease first (who typically catches it outside home) has had milder symptoms versus his/her family members who must be exposed to more viral load in Indian homes. Most other younger folks who have had moderate/severe disease in my experience had more exposure to viral loads. Masks seem to work very well in so far as they atleast seem to reduce the severity of disease. Personally i have tried researching on evidences of fomite transmission (as a significant mode)of any respiratory disease but evidence i saw is extremely tenuous. I cannot overstate the harm the whole Fomite transmission theory as the primary spread of disease has done. People have been fixated on cleaning surfaces and items, yet removing masks while talking to strangers. My current apartment has had EXTREMELY STUPID rules – like cleaning the entire premises every time we get a new patient (we have had over 20) while people continue visiting each others homes without masks.

Take everything i wrote in this paragraph with a grains of salt – as these are conjectures of a non biology/ scientific background layman.

Experts and laymen have been saying the peak (or is it the plateau) is truly in Pune for two months, but there has been neither a drop in number of deaths, cases nor in the Test Positivity rate. There is no attention in the media to suicides and other economy induced tragedies, here is a small statistic – 7 barbers had committed suicide in the Pune district in the month of June (i cant find a newspaper link to corroborate but am pretty sure about its veracity). From where I stand, there is some light at the end of the tunnel, I am just unable to gauge how far it is. Eventually the cases will fall before the vaccine is out and most cities in India should attain some level of herd immunity by Diwali, but the cost – both lives lost, lives affected and incomes crushed will be very high. What lies ahead life wise and livelihood wise, is anyone’s guess, but i fear social life as we knew it will no longer exist (atleast for a few years). Personally I dont know when i can comfortably stand close to another unknown human being without wearing a mask 🙁 .

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Revoking 13th Amendment in Sri Lanka and Elections in the US.

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Abstract: A centralized govt in Sri Lanka is necessary maintain Law and order. Devolution of power to provinces may be stepping stone to de facto Federalism and a client Federal state to India. The cautionary example is the US and its separation of Federal and State powers. The separation of US and State power has lead to inconsistent implementation of law and order, including even minor issues, such as wearing of masks.

In 1987 under duress from India under Rajiv Gandhi, the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord was signed.  Part of  the accord was the Devolution of land, the police and financial powers to the Provinces.   This pretty much de facto  Federalism was incorporated as the 13th Amendment (13A) into the Sri Lankan  Constitution.

The main issue with de facto Federalism is that it might be either a stepping stone for separate North and East state and or a client state/province of India.  As if to prove that fear in February 2016, the Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran sought India’s direct intervention in the complete implementation of the amendment.

There is a call from some of the minority Tamil population (12% of Total) to merge the North and East Provinces creating a province that would encompass 28.78% of Sri Lankas land area and 11.9% of the total population.  The minority Tamil population in this merged province would be 1,597,276 ( 987,692 + 609,584).   That is a 7% Tamil population of all of  Sri Lanka.   The two merged provinces have total population of 2,610,143 (1,058,762+1,551,381), making the Tamil minority 61%.

Land Area and Population North and East Provinces
Northern ProvinceLand Area 8,884 km2 (3,430 sq mi) (13.54% of total area),
Population 1,058,762 ((5.22% of total pop.)
Tamil Population: 987,692 (93.29%)
Eastern Province:Land: 9,996 km2 (3,859 sq mi) (15.24% of total area)
Population:
1,551,381 (7.66% of total pop)
Tamil Population: 609,584 (39.29%)


Cautionary Example: The US

In the US, excess Police Brutality on Black and Hispanics has resulted in protests,  some peaceful and some marred by violence and looting.  There is circumstantial evidence that Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests have been co-opted for political purposed.   CIA manual psychological regime change and Color revolution tactics are permeating into US politics.

Prominent opinion makers like David Brooks in a NY Times opinion piece advocates a color revolution if Trump wins. .

It turns out, amid the existential crisis, there really is a group of sober people who are militant about America, who can see reality unblinkered by the lens of partisanship, and who are finally compelled to organize.

If Trump claims a victory that is not rightly his, a few marches in the streets will not be an adequate response. There may have to be a sustained campaign of civic action, as in Hong Kong and Belarus, to rally the majority that wants to preserve democracy, that isolates those who would undo it.

Even some immigrant Sri Lankans, are inciting violence. A Sri Lankan, who works at the Pentagon and should know better as minority Tamil in SL says

against Trump is so high that many of us feel like physically beating up any Trump supporter we come across.
Imagine the energy on the far left then. The Trump enabling mafia is going to learn a painful lesson; for the unpardonable sin of foisting Trump on the country.

Some other Sri Lankans may not advocate violence, but

If people want to be relevant how about striving to  be the largest tax paying ethnicity? Betcha your lives will matter then.

Me: As usual you make supercilious, new immigrant, they as in Black and Hispanic are “looser” type remarks. When were you and yours ever in the forefront defending the US, other than as an armchair warrior.
Me: I guess you dont think Black and Hispanic are part of the “Brave” (as in Land of the Free and Brave) who have been in forefront of the right or wrong wars the US has been fighting.

Obviously, there is potential for color revolution type protests, violence, riots after elections.  Will the federal govt be able to maintain law and order.  From what is happening now in the US now it is extremely doubtful.  Because of the division of power between the Federal Govt and State governments there is no consistent implementation of Law and order, even a simple issue as such as wearing a mask.

Accusations of Democrat vs Republican  Governors and their ability to keep Law and order are flying around.  Post elections in the US, is it the Federal Government or the State Governments that are going to be responsible for  “Law and order”.

I think many are avoiding an issue as to why the current Fed govt is reluctant to get the military out. Because they are not sure which side they (as in the foot soldiers) will decide to support. 40% of the military is minority and very likely much higher at the rank and file level.

Relevance to Sri Lanka: Federal vs State law

My opinion:
Advantages of  Central Govt vs Devolution/Province is going to be very obvious after US elections.

 

*Side Comment:  My great Grandparents converted to Christianity because of of Americans.

References
https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/kamala-harris-the-dems-and-sri-lanka/comment-page-1/?unapproved=2357187&moderation-hash=a64098635d4feaf243a934669388d65f#comment-2357187

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/499857-trump-biden-campaigns-mirror-cia/

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Hello, Nurse!

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Aloha! Wassup? Kaisay ho yaar?

My name’s TheseLongWars, TLW for short, known for twitter.com/TheseLongWars, currently from these-long-wars.blogspot.com, formerly of theselongwars.blogspot.com (RIP: 2010-2020).

It is an absolute Goddamn pleasure and honour to have been invited to be here as a writer and opinion-ator at BrownPundits.com!

As you may have seen my tweets, I have been commenting in-depth about my native Pakistan for a decade now. I’m from the city by the sea, Karachi, and I am a happy partisan for that over-grown beach-hole. I’m not a big genetics or phrenology fan. However, I love talking politics, I love talking some culture, I love history, and I enjoy getting the chance to write.

But let’s not make this intro long-winded. Snappy posts are fine, but some effort later at longer posts, will come later.

For now, here’s where the catch-phrase my title is based on is from. Do read what I write; you’ll always learn something worth knowing 😉

Ciao!

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Broken Illusions And Enlightenment

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I see one of the main differences between India and west is of breaking down of the illusion of religious harmony in the west. The inter christian violence between catholics and protestants in 30 yr war led to westphalian peace. It was here that leaders in west accepted that there was no choice but to accept the reality of heresy/bigotry .It also meant over time that they realized no stable peace could be built on religion but only by transcending it through effective political and civic institutions. There is a strange argument nowadays where values gained from transcending religion is also being credited to religion. This reminds me of “everything comes from India” man in the comedy series of Goodness Gracious me.

In India , because among dharmic religions, the degree of violence was low without full scale wars with millions dead, the belief among Indian and Hindu elites has been to continue to pursue this path of compromise among various communities under the goal of religious harmony. Even now, many use slogans of “sarv dharma sambhav” , all these create illusions that brings much heartache and sense of betrayal among people when they dont come true now with evangelical monotheism. One hence feels cheated by the elites rhetoric and it is here congress has to break away from this. Had one been realistic about this, much of the violence during partition could have been avoided . This illusion needs to be broken. In the west it took violence in large numbers to get over the idea that solution could be found within Christianity itself . In India one must get over this before much violence happens and that can only happen if people move away from naive Gandhian view of religious harmony so that it would become embarrassing to even say that.

Much of the problem I see in Indian religions ,society and civilization to me is merely the willingness to compromise or to solve issues through syncretism to avoid larger violence. This leads to low optimal solution at local level rather than to scaling the powers of state and political institutions and upgrading the civics of the people and their understanding of it. The same is true for caste violence as well. I dont believe there ever was large scale mobilized caste wars. Had this happened the society would have no choice but to address it as well. The illusion now is carried over by Hindu atheists as well, a willingness to just let things be.Here is where I think even atheists are going wrong as well. Their belief that answer to problem of religion lies in atheism.Their denial of the religious nature of man is the issue. This is a reality irrespective of whether they be theistic religions or atheistic ones like marxism. They too are better off insisting on good polity,civic institutions as a solution. A model in order to work must work for extreme cases and not merely local ones where compromise is possible. Until this illusion of compromise remains there is no value placed on political realism and India will remain under threat of significant violence in its future. It is important therefore to make the case for impossibility of religious harmony and compromise and let people know there is no getting around the issue of religious bigotry on all sides. No answer to the issues of religious bigotry can be found inside dharma. And in general I think it is true that we forge ahead better in a sure footed way when our idealistic illusions are seen to be broken. Indian liberals,left and atheists must abandon the denial of religious bigotry and simply accept that there are bound to be religious bigots even among minorities and constitution protects that as well. They need to make this absolutely clear for otherwise they are seen to be either cheating the people with false illusions of harmony or engaging in what is termed as minority appeasement. To me, the most charitable view of their behavior is idealistic delusion. Enlightenment ensues as a result of breaking down of such illusions.

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From Abstract To Personal

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It is hard to always point out one’s own turning. When do we change our views, why, are there personal reasons, reflections to why we do what we do. How does the abstract knowledge changes our views and when is it that our personal experience changes our views and consequently us. How much do each of us remember in how we change our views regarding anything at all.

I come from a telugu speaking state, I am an introvert. The fact that I could personally experience these data points to me implies that many others have seen much more than this and it isnt one reads in newspapers. And hence the accusation of fake news by liberals, for they believe or rather hope that people dont gather information horizontally within communities. 


Continue reading “From Abstract To Personal”

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Some musings on the Bengal riots of 1949-50

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While any discussion of Partition tends to focus a lot on the migrations and violence circa 1947, we tend to forget the mayhem that followed in Bengal with a lag. As late as 1950! In Bengal the violence peaked in late 1949 – 1950 unlike in Punjab. Particularly in East Pakistan.

The discussion of these riots and the agreements that ensued in 1950 in TCA Raghavan’s book “The People Next Door” make an interesting read.

The partition in 1947 had left both sides of Bengal with similar proportions of minority populations. West Bengal had five million Muslims in a population of twenty one million. East Pakistan was left with eleven million Hindus in a population of thirty nine million.

Unlike in the Punjab, a full-fledged ethnic cleansing did not occur in Bengal. Perhaps in part because of the presence of Gandhi in Bengal for a couple of crucial months in 1947. There could be other reasons that can explain why Bengal didn’t start with a blank slate unlike Punjab. I can only think of the Gandhi-factor as of now

The violence festered in Bengal right up to 1950, but it peaked in the month of February that year, particularly in East Pakistan. The violence against Hindus provoked much political unrest in India, causing Nehru to assume stances that seem very hawkish to us today.

Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the Parliament on Feb 23rd of 1950, expressing outrage at the East Pakistan riots

Image

Then he went on to suggest a possible military action against East Pakistan while concluding his speech – Note the words – “We shall have to adopt other methods

Image

But then the invasion idea was dropped. It was not just a question of Nehru being pusillanimous. The President of India, Rajendra Prasad, a supposed right winger, wrote a letter to Nehru, suggesting that he drop the idea of attacking / annexing East Pakistan!

Image

I find this curious.

An interesting example of a “conservative” voice in India (Rajendra Prasad) persuading the supposedly more dovish and liberal Nehru to drop the idea of military action against East Pakistan

Another thing that I find curious about this episode is that the very large scale migrations that ensued in early 1950, were mostly undone by the end of the year by reverse migrations, following the Nehru-Liaquat agreement in April 1950.

Between February 7th and April 8th 1950, 1.5 million people crossed the borders! 850K Hindus from East Pakistan to West Bengal, and 650K Muslims from West Bengal to East Pakistan.

The agreement was signed on 8th April 1950, but it did not reverse the migration tide immediately. Between 9th April and 25th July, 1.2 million more Hindus left East Pakistan for India, while only 600K returned back to Pakistan prompted by the agreement.  That’s roughly a return-ratio of 1 in 2.

But it appears the ratio was much better for Muslims for exactly the same period (9th April to 25th July) following the treaty. In this timeframe, 450K Muslims left West Bengal for East Pakistan, but 300K returned back.  That’s a ratio of 2 in 3.

So it appears the agreement reassured the Muslims more than it did the Hindus. But nevertheless it did prompt Hindus to return back to East Pakistan in larger numbers by the end of the year.  A million Hindus had returned back to East Pakistan by December of that year.

One wonders if we could’ve had a more peaceful subcontinent in later decades, had the powers that be sat down and planned a more systematic population transfer, instead of idealistic reassurances to minorities, which did help stall the large scale transfer in the short run, but kept communal tensions simmering for several more decades.

References:

  • TCA Raghavan’s “The People Next Door”
  • Jawaharlal Nehru’s Speeches, Vol II

The author tweets @shrikanth_krish

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Notes on the religious demography of Punjab and Bengal

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India got partitioned in 1947 and the two provinces that got split were Punjab and Bengal. But the religious demography of the two provinces took different routes.

Today the Muslim population in Indian Punjab is 1.6%, while the muslim population in Indian Bengal is 27.1%. So while there was huge emigration of Muslims from Punjab, there was less so in Bengal.

There are still districts in Indian Bengal today where Muslims are in a majority

      • Murshidabad : 66%
      • Malda : 51%
      • Uttar Dinajpur : 50%

Nothing like it in Punjab where they are in single digits across the state. This is notwithstanding the fact that back in 1947, Muslims were upwards of 40% in the districts of Amritsar, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur and Jallandhar – all of which are in Indian Punjab today.

Punjab started with a clean slate. On either side of the border. Whereas Bengal remained complex demographically, with significant Hindu population in East Pakistan and significant Muslim population in West Bengal.

But the trends of the minority population on either side of the border in Bengal, have been radically different since 1947.  In Bangladesh / East Pakistan, Hindu population has reduced significantly since the 1950s. A decline from 22% in 1951 to 11% in 2015

Hindu population in East Pakistan / Bangladesh

195122.05%
196118.50%
197413.50%
198112.13%
199110.51%
20019.20%
20118.96%
201510.70%

In sharp contrast in Indian Bengal, the minority population has thrived, with a significant increase since 1951. Here are the numbers –

Muslim population in West Bengal

195119.85%
196120.00%
197120.46%
198121.51%
199123.61%
201125.25%
201127.01%

But it’s also interesting to see the demographic evolution of the provinces before Partition. We tend to think that the demographic mix changed decisively in 1947 (more so in Punjab than Bengal). But that doesn’t mean there weren’t major changes in late 19th / early 20th century.

Let’s take a look at the religious composition for Punjab as a whole (both Indian and Pakistan portions) before 1940s. We see a declining Hindu population in Punjab as we move from the 1880s to 1940s. This decline clearly predates the partition and even the idea of Pakistan

Religious demography of Punjab : 1881 to 1941

Image

Notice the sharp decline in Hindu population from 43% in 1881 to 29% in 1941. But this drop is not accompanied by a rise in Muslim numbers. Rather we see a near-doubling in the Sikh % between 1881 and 1941. One is not sure if this was indeed driven by conversions, or whether Sikhs became more conscious of their distinct identity and separateness from Hindus in those six decades, leading to a surge in Sikh census figures.

When we look at East Bengal pre-independence, we see a similar story. The demographic change long predated the partition, though it was less drastic than in Punjab. Please note these numbers are for East Bengal and not united Bengal.

Hindu pop in East Bengal : 1901 to 1951

190133.00%
191131.50%
192130.60%
193129.40%
194128.00%
195122.05%

I found these numbers fascinating, The purpose is not to emote people, but to understand the long run trends and the underlying demographic reality of these provinces.

We tend to think of partition as a “discrete” event. But demographic change long predates Partition, and it continues long after the Partition particularly in Bengal (both West and East). Less so in Punjab, as Punjab was rendered homogeneous on either side by Partition violence.

References : 

The numbers on Punjab demography were sourced from this very fine paper –

https://punjab.global.ucsb.edu/sites/secure.lsit.ucsb.edu.gisp.d7_sp/files/sitefiles/journals/volume11/no1/6_krishan.pdf

(The author tweets @shrikanth_krish)

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Covid Lockdown. Some Questions

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When the novel Coronavirus started its spread outside of China very little was known about it and it is no surprise that countries acted to slow or stop the pandemic by locking down their citizens to various extents. Some countries (most notably UK and Sweden) tried to “push through” to herd immunity but then had a LOT of cases and transitioned to various degrees of lockdown. Others like the US tried a “worst of both worlds” response, with the President being skeptical of lockdowns, but reluctantly going along with them for a while  before shifting back to passive-aggressive sabotage of whatever his science advisors were telling him (whether they were correct or not is a separate issue). Pakistan’s PM had Trump-like instincts in this matter and unlike the US, his lockdown did not last long and was never very effective. This led to an early surge of cases and deaths (after Ramadan, when lockdown first failed) but to the surprise of most observers (including me), this outbreak then seemed to slow down and now there are ongoing cases, but the health system is definitely NOT being overwhelmed and the worse seems behind us. Meanwhile India continues to have varying degrees of lockdown (and because Indian officialdom has relatively more ability to enforce such things, these  also seem to have been more real than any Pakistani lockdown ever was) and is seeing a major increase in cases. When people talk about this they frequently bring up the fact that testing and tracking are not necessarily at “first world” levels in either country, so real numbers may be very different from what is being reported. This is true, but we do see what is happening in hospitals, so the fact that the system has not been overwhelmed is still something we can say.  Beyond that, I have no special knowledge or data. So I thought I would put up a post and get some answers from the hive mind:

  1. Where can non-experts like us find the best data on Covid? There are many sites, which ones do commentators prefer and why?
  2. Why is Pakistan NOT experiencing a dramatic health emergency due to Covid in spite of having given up on lockdowns? Is there pre-existing immunity? something else? Or just fewer old people? is there more to come?
  3. IF Pakistan is not seeing a major increase in deaths, should India continue its current level of lockdown? Do we expect Indian immunity and spread characteristics to be very different from Pakistan?
  4. What is the expert consensus now on various details such as “doing X is cost-effective, but Y should be abandoned”.. I mean what is the best source (sources) for answering such questions? One assumes that the “authorities” spend a lot of time analyzing information to determine what worked and what was just a waste of effort? Are the detailed recommendations evidence-based? Should any of them be changed? (for example, why is my dentist open for cleanings, but my barber is not? things like that, are they evidence based? and what does the evidence say?)

I look forward to being enlightened. Meanwhile, stay safe and happy.

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The Middle Path: Towards a Liberal Conservatism in India (Part 2)

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In my previous post, I sought to demonstrate the chain of continuity that has been characteristic of Indian civilization. I also posited that the current political dispensation in India- whose support base can be loosely characterised as “woke Hindutva”- is normatively undesirable. In this post, I build upon my previous arguments to propose a framework I call “liberal conservatism”, which could conserve and promote India’s civilizational heritage within a liberal democratic system.

The limitations of classical liberalism

During the high noon of the post-Soviet Pax Americana era (1990s and 2000s), two books on political philosophy were particularly influential. The first was Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History, which broadly argued in favour of the Hegelian notion of a progressive march of history leading to a global convergence based on free markets and liberal democracy. The other was Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilisations which argued that the battle between capitalism and communism would be replaced by a new clash between competing values, customs and traditions of different civilisations. The Huntingtonian thesis was severely criticised at the time. The Fukuyaman idea of a global neoliberal hegemony captured the zeitgeist and seemed inevitable.

In hindsight, the Huntingtonian insight of divergence based on civilizational values has proven to be quite prescient. The idea first gained popularity in China in the last decade. China sees its unique political institutions and public culture as an outcome of Chinese values that have evolved over the centuries. These include Confucianism and the network of social commitments called guanxi. The notion has since become widely popular and adopted by countries as disparate as Russia and France.

Continue reading “The Middle Path: Towards a Liberal Conservatism in India (Part 2)”

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Why Did the Indian and Pakistani Armies fail in 1965?

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This is a chapter from Major Amin’s history of the Pakistani army. It is a very long post and there is a lot of repetition (do keep in mind that he wrote it mainly for a Pakistani audience, who may need convincing on some of the points) but I wanted to post it as a historical document and as something  people who are interested in military history may want  to read at leisure. As with any such analysis, there will be no many different opinions.. feel free to add yours in the comments.. Major Amin’s book has some excellent maps and tables that I was unable to transfer successfully. My apologies for that, but the points are pretty clear even without those.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN ANALYSIS – 1965 WAR by Major Agha Humayun Amin

Havelock said that ; “In philosophy, it is not the attainment of the goal that matters, it is the things that are met with by the way”. So it is with war. The most important thing for the student of military history or the art of war is not whether a country lost or won the war but how it was fought, how units performed in action, how decisions were made in face of the stress and strain of battle, the difference between practice and precept in short all matters pertaining to strategy tactics leadership equipment etc. In other words to simply analyze the war to answer the questions like “Whence”? “Whither” ? “Why”? and “How”?

In this analysis of war we have to go beyond probabilities and examine various facets of a particular situation and arrive at conclusions that will assist us in face of a similar crisis situation in future. War is the final audit of an army in which unit efficiency as well as higher and lower leadership is gauged and no book on an army is complete without analyzing in detail the qualitative efficiency of an army in actual War. Unfortunately most books written on both Pakistan and Indian Armies by foreigners and therefore meekly accepted by the subcontinentals who suffer from a subtle inferiority complex; as the final authority; do not discuss the qualitative efficiency of both the Pakistan and Indian Armies in any actual war; both as British Indian Army and as two different armies after 1947!

Instead these books beat round the bush discussing vague and largely irrelevant issues which their authors have decided to highlight, merely because they have decided to write a book and want to write their book without going into the subtleties of actual wars fought by the Indo Pak armies.

In the following paragraphs an attempt has been made to analyze the conduct of 1965 war and to answer certain questions about the qualitative efficiency of the Pakistan Army in a detached manner separating myth from reality and fact from fiction. This analysis is important because a considerable part of Pakistani military history has been deliberately or inadvertently distorted based on nationalistic parochial personal and inter arm prejudices and jealousies.

THE BRITISH COLONIAL LEGACY

We have already discussed in detail the impact of the British military tradition on the Indo Pak armies in our earlier chapters dealing with the armies of the English East India Company and the pre 1947 British Indian Army. This was not something confined to Indo- Pak subcontinent alone but an all Asia trend. From the late eighteenth century the “European Way of Warfare” was generally borrowed and follow as the gospel truth by many East European and Afro-Asian armies. The trend of “importing the European way of war” started around 1600 when the Ottoman Turks came into contact with the European powers in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Till 1500 the Europeans who had as a matter of fact military failed in the Crusades against Asia enjoyed no significant military advantage over Asia. Till the invention of gunpowder the cavalry remained the dominant arm in battle and the infantry was relegated to a secondary role. The ascendancy of European methods of warfare starts with the advent of Gustavus Adolphus(1496- 1560) of Sweden who introduced a renaissance in the art of warfare by “harnessing modern technology to a practical military philosophy” . (1)

Gustavus principal contribution was the introduction of a relatively superior conceptual framework of integrating military organization with weapons and tactics. He created an infantry organized in brigades of two to four regiments each of which had eight battalions of four companies etc. He introduced similar reforms in cavalry and artillery integrating artillery with infantry and cavalry in battle and restructured infantry formations in such a way that their firepower was enhanced. One of his most important reforms was employment of cavalry as a “shock weapon”.

Gustavus’s methods were copied by the French and the British. Gustavus ‘s tactics were improved by Turenne of France and Cromwell and Marlborough of England and were further improved by Napoleon who was able to benefit from the analytical studies of great military thinkers like Gribeauval Maurice de Saxe Bourcet Joseph Du Teil and Guibert. Formal military schools were organized in France where the art of war was studied while similar institutions were founded in Prussian and Sweden.

By 1600 Russia was the first country outside mainland Europe to realize that there was something conceptually and organizationally superior in the West European way of warfare which enabled them to defeat numerically superior but more primitively organized armies. lt may be noted that as late as 1592 the Russians were no match to the Muslim Tartars of the Golden Horde who sacked Moscow in 1571 and managed to penetrate into suburbs of Moscow as late as 1592. 1t may seem unbelievable to many but as late as 1660s the Crimean Muslim Tartars were one of Russia’s most feared enemies.(2)

A similar pattern of imitation was followed in the Ottoman Turk Army fromapproximately 1750 to 1914 when the Ottomans discovered that medieval tactics of cavalry assault were of little utility against relatively numerically superior or equal strength European armies with superior organization’.(3) Continue reading “Why Did the Indian and Pakistani Armies fail in 1965?”

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