Saturday, 11 March 2017

On India’s military: Writings from within

Down load ebook from Drop box, link - 

On India’s military: Writings from within
The book comprises the published writings in service journals of Ali Ahmed while serving in the
army. They cover the two decades on either side of the turn of the century, thereby providing a
window into the army in the period. The author was an infantry officer and the articles reflect
the concerns of the infantry and the wider army as the author grew in service from a subaltern
to colonelcy. The articles reflect the intellectual growth of the author and engage with the
issues that were salient in his time in uniform. The book is a record of the times as also serves
to provide insight into India’s army. The book is complemented by his other work, From within:
Reflections on India’s army (CinnamonTeal 2017), which comprises his unpublished work on the
same themes. The two books would interest military buffs and the attentive public; veterans
and practitioners; and students and academics in strategic and peace studies.

For the soldiers who served with me

The book is a compilation of my in-military-service writings. I served in the Indian army for
twenty one years. I wrote avidly for its in-service publications and editors were kind enough
to publish some of my work. Most of the articles comprised my impressions and observations
on matters military. They were informed by a wide reading of professional subjects including
military history and by my graduate studies. I was fortunate to have undertaken sabbatical in
the UK early in my military career. The articles, book reviews and letters to the editor carry the
imprint of my studies and experience. In all, I managed to have about 95 pieces of varying length
published in service journals, which was reasonably good going since at least a decade of my
writing career was in the pre-internet age.
The published pieces reflect the concerns of the military in the period I served circa a decade
on either side of the turn of the century. They comprise in effect a written record of the times as
regards security concerns and issues as seen through a serving infantry officer. In my letters to
editor I engaged with the issues reflected in the publications, mostly presenting a point of view
that was not always the popular one. The collection expresses the liberal perspective in security
studies. This I believe made my articles somewhat different since my fellow officers largely
subscribed to the realist perspective and service journals usually reflected this bias. However,
that I was patronized by editors – all of whom were serving officers - did not owe so much to my
persistence or originality as much to their breath of vision and commitment to quality of their
I have divided the book into themes: regular war, irregular war, military matters and sundry book
reviews and letters to the editor. The commentaries in the regular war section deal with my main
area of interest which is limiting war. These were early articulations of my thinking that into my
doctoral dissertation. I converted the dissertation into a book, India’s doctrinal puzzle: Limiting war
in South Asia (Routledge 2014). In the irregular war section, I have compiled the articles dealing
with the army’s preoccupation through the nineties and early 2000s with counter insurgency.
My military service enabled me a vantage from which I could glean some insights on this and
have used the forum of writing for journals to record my observations. The liberal – soft-line
- perspective makes my take on insurgency and its counter different from the general run of
articles that featured in the journals. The military matters section comprises my impressions on
various issues that the military was engaged with intellectually during my time in uniform. There
were many viewpoints and mine was one of them. The topics range from military leadership to
educating army officers. My interest in military and society finds expression in this section. The
book review section has some book reviews I authored, but most have been left out since they
were short in length. The letters to the editor section is the one I am most proud of since I would
step up to the intellectual fight, forcefully presenting my argument or pointing out the fallacy in
some or other article. My excuse is that I was young then.
I believe the book will repay a reading and even a selective reading. It can over time prove to
be a significant contribution to military studies, strategic studies and peace studies in South
Asia since it is an insider’s view of the military in his time. On that count it might have historical
significance in serving as a national security record of the late twentieth century and early
twenty first century. It needs being read along with my other book, From within: Reflections on
India’s army, which is a collection of my military writings that did not get published when in
service. The two taken together will interest lay readers, veterans, military officers and scholars
interested in the military.

There are two groups in particular who I must thank for this book. The first comprises the
editors of the service journals who were serving officers on tenures with the institution that
published the journal. Their work is generally unsung and their contribution unrecorded but they
have held the intellectual torch high. They have provided me a forum and I must repay them by
acknowledging their support all through my years in service.
The second group are my senior officers in my battalion, in particular my commanding officers.
They allowed me to moonlight and I hope the output of my time does not disappoint them. The
support of my fellow officers in the various units I served in always buoyed me. Some did not
make it home from their field tenures, but our time together has surely gone into these pages in
some manner and measure.
Also, my father’s military postings during my early years in service enabled me a wider window
into the service that I have liberally relied on to inform my writings. A military background
equipped me well to serve as an observer on the military in my time. My earliest memory is
accompanying my father to the firing ranges sometime in the period before the 1971 War. As a
cadet home on vacations and as a gentleman cadet and young officer I was constantly taken
along for some or other military exercise. Some of these in Kashmir turned out to be adventures,
within sight and sound of gun fire. I suspect the early grounding in the military makes for any
acuity of my insights.
Finally, of course, the book owes to my family’s patience with me. I was allowed to goof off to
the computer at the expense of what could have been quality family time in some or other peace
tenure or when I was home for a limited time on leave. I trust the book compensates for the time

Other books by Ali Ahmed
From within: Reflections on India’s army (2017) (Ebook) - Download
India’s National Security in the Liberal Lens (2016) (Paperback) - Buy
On War In South Asia (2015) (Paperback) - Buy
On Peace in South Asia (2015) (Paperback) - Buy

First eBook edition published in India in 2017 CinnamonTeal Publishing.
ISBN: 978–93–86301–25–3
Copyright © 2017 Ali Ahmed
Ali Ahmed asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of the work.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this book are the author’s own and the facts are as
reported by the author, and the publisher is not in any way liable for the same. Although the author and
publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at the time of
going to press, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for
any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result
from negligence, accident, or any other cause.
Page Development and Cover Design: CinnamonTeal Publishing
Cover Photo Courtesy: Author
CinnamonTeal Publishing,
Plot No 16, Housing Board Colony
Gogol, Margao
Goa 403601 India

From within: Reflections on India’s army

Down load ebook from Drop Box link

From within: Reflections on India’s army
The book comprises unpublished writings of Ali Ahmed from his time in uniform. The author served in the Indian army for two decades. His reflections in the period that did not make it into print have been compiled into this volume. The commentaries here supplement his other book that contains his published writings of the period, On India’s military: Writings from within (CinnamonTeal 2017). The essays are carried unedited to retain the flavor of the times and conditions in which they were written. It has historical value in providing a snapshot of the concerns that animated the army intellectually in the period at the turn of the century. The observations and insights would be useful for both practitioners and scholars in military studies.

For comrades who did not make it back

The book comprises my article and commentaries while I was in the military for just over two decades. While my book On India’s military: Writings from within is a collection of my articles that were published in military journals, there were several pieces I wrote that did not get carried in the service publications. I have collected these into this book. I think their publication complements my in-service published writings and taken together the two book present a fair record of the
security concerns and professional and intellectual engagement of the military in the years I served in uniform. While about 95 pieces of mine were published in the many service publications, many more
articles and rejoinders sent in as letters to editors did not see light of day. And, I am sure with good reason. However, to my mind mostly this owed to the service bias towards realism, which is perfectly understandable and not unreasonable. But it did lead to the writings presented here
not making it to print, largely because they were anchored in a liberal perspective. In effect, my views were a counter point, running into a brick wall at times. Nevertheless, as the book testifies, I persisted and some of my views did manage to get to print, even as those that did not
then make it, have this book to finally have an audience.
I think this book is therefore the more significant of the two. It is blunt, straight-forward in a typically soldierly way. It is forthright in criticism of some service mores and practices that do not dignify the service any. By including such pieces in this book without any subsequent editing I think a truer picture might emerge of the military in my time. But of course it is only one view point and perhaps not the most comprehensive or accurate one. However, taken with other vantage points on the military, I am certain my labour at the keyboard will pay off a reader in
search for an understanding of India’s military as also help the military along in its never ending trajectory towards professional perfection.
As with my other book On India’s military: Writings from within, I have followed the same sections to compile my writings: regular war, irregular war, military matters, selective book reviews and letters to the editor. The regular war section deals with conventional and nuclear doctrinal
issues. I have discussed these more fully after I left service in my writings for think tanks and on the web. The irregular war section has articles that draw on my personal experience in counter insurgency settings. My liberal perspective shines through in these articles, arguing relentlessly
that the military has to exercise strict self-regulation lest it impose on people in a counterproductive manner. In military matters, I mostly dwell on the soft-core issues such as military sociology. These articles are the more important ones since they are straight from the heart.
Some appear critical but the intent all along has been to be constructive, to engage, to debate and where possible influence change. The book reviews also bring out a few ideas triggered no doubt by the books reviewed. Some sensitive issues are dealt with in the letters to the editor
section. In some letters I spoke up about what I felt was penetration of majoritarian extremist thinking into military journals. I think this remains an area that warrants close attention, lest the politics in wider society seep into the military sapping its professionalism. The letters testify
that there is sufficient ground for concern on this score.
The book is not quite dated, even though I left the service a decade back. In fact most of the current day developments are riding on the back of issues originating in the period I was in service. The book serves as an outspoken, warts and all, no holds barred record of the military
in my time. It must be read alongside my other book with my published work of the period, On India’s military: Writings from within, to gain a fuller insight into India’s military at the turn of the century. It is for this reason, as an aid to scholarship in national security, security studies,
strategic studies and peace studies, I have undertaken to publish these piece a decade and more since they were penned. I trust the book shall serve to better the Indian army’s professionalism and help it serve the nation with pride.
I have had the benefit of a military background and quite like other fauji kids developed early an abiding interest in matters military. The book is a consequence of this interest. It is largely a labour of love since I spent considerable time on the keyboard. Though some of the output
appeared to be critical – perhaps accounting for why the pieces were not published – my writings were with a constructive intent. Where possible I pitched to bolster military good practice and where necessary I was constrained to point out we could have done better. The publication of
this book owes to the same sentiment. It is tribute to my former comrades in arms who made the military the fine institution it was and remains to this day.
I would like to thank my family foremost for permitting me the time and space. The inclusions here testify that it was an uphill journey, clearly one that could not have been undertaken without my family’s support, in particular my wife. Having an absentee husband even while he is at
home is a feeling she perhaps shares with spouses of authors in general. It is to ensure that her time was not spent in vain, I have put this book together, in the hope that some good emerge for India’s army and at one remove for the Indian nation.

First eBook edition published in India in 2017 CinnamonTeal Publishing.
ISBN: 978–93–86301–26–0
Copyright © 2017 Ali Ahmed
Ali Ahmed asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of the work.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this book are the author’s own and the facts are as
reported by the author, and the publisher is not in any way liable for the same. Although the author and
publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at the time of
going to press, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for
any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result
from negligence, accident, or any other cause.
Page Development and Cover Design: CinnamonTeal Publishing
Cover Artwork: Painting by Farah Ahmed,
CinnamonTeal Publishing,
Plot No 16, Housing Board Colony
Gogol, Margao
Goa 403601 India

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Intractable Scenarios
 By Sumit Ganguly 
Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, 2016, 188, 395


Sumit Ganguly is no stranger to scholars in international and strategic studies. His book The Origins of Wars
 in South Asia is a popular text with undergraduates. He takes his earlier work that finishes with the 1971 War
 further in the volume under review by beginning with the Kargil War. His is a slim volume covering the first
 decade of the century, the beginning of which he dates to this war. In his view, Pakistan’s India policy cannot
 be explained through the ‘spiral model’. The spiral model relies on the concept of security dilemma. The
 security dilemma has it that states, perceiving even defensive actions of neighbours as threatening, resort to
 counter measures that in turn generate a negative threat perception in their neighbour. This leads to a
spiral—hence ‘spiral model’—expressed through worsening relations, the arms race and recurrent crisis.
 Since Pakistan covets Kashmir, to Ganguly, Pakistan is a revisionist and ‘greedy’ state—‘with nonsecurity
 motivations for expansion’ (Charles Glaser) (p. 20). Wanting territorial revisionism, its actions in the security
sphere are not a result of a perceived threat from India that can be attributed to a security dilemma. Nothing
 India can do in terms of reassuring Pakistan by reining in its actions in the defence and security spheres
can assuage Pakistan. Therefore, the recurring crisis and potential for conflict in the subcontinent cannot
 be explained by the spiral model. The deterrence model on the other hand has it that a state’s security
 preparedness deters a neighbour from threatening it, but even such preparedness can be found wanting
when confronted with a revisionist state out to change some or other facet of the status quo or relationship.
 He uses the deterrence model in appraising India. To Ganguly, evidence in favour of this model is in the
quiescent period in the seventies and eighties when Pakistan was fended off by India’s defence preparedness.
 However, Pakistan’s Kashmir obsession got an outlet with the outbreak of troubles in Kashmir in the nineties.
Since Pakistan is attempting to overturn the territorial status quo, India cannot but restrict itself to warding
 off Pakistan through defence related measures. This brings Ganguly to his prescription that, since the deterrence
 model provides a better vantage for India’s Pakistan strategy, a strategy informed by deterrence by denial
is the preferred one for India. Ganguly makes his theoretical case in his opening chapter. He then ...

Thursday, 2 March 2017 

Dark side of Army’s social media groups

ONE of General Bipin Rawat's early concerns into his tenure is social media. He had barely taken charge of the Army when the BSF trooper at a post under Army jurisdiction, along the Line of Control, sent out a social-media salvo on poor food being served. It set off posts by uniformed personnel, including Army soldiers, similarly exercised by myriad perceived impositions on them, such as “Sahayak” (batman or soldier-helper) duties. 
The Army has since revisited its social media policy. Essentially, its call for restraint is intended to keep personnel from washing dirty linen in public. Tightening internal grievance redress, the Chief has opened a direct line of access to his staff in case lower levels fail to prove responsive. On the batman system, there are innovative proposals in the pipeline, at least for peace stations, substituting for soldiers undertaking domestic work in officer accommodation. 
It is apparent that the Army has constructively seized  opportunity to make the necessary, if overdue, changes. However, there is one aspect that is likely to have missed its eye.  It is the extent of right-wing trope being exchanged on social media in military networks. It is now so commonplace as to be unremarkable. It is unexceptionable therefore in case the Army is oblivious to this. Precisely for this reason, the matter needs airing. 
The trend of social media penetration of right-wing jargon, thinking, positions and propaganda line began at the same time as in other middle class social media groups, sometime prior to the last General Election in 2014. It is now in the open that the “Modi wave” was partially manufactured in troll factories by paid agents and committed volunteers. 
The Army was no exception to this trend since its officer class is middle class. The earlier insulation of the Army in its cantonments and being tied down to its professional till has been eroded in the internet and mobile age. Consequently, the political winds that swept the dysfunctional UPA II government away found their way into the minds of the officer corps. 
Anecdotal evidence suggests that liberal voices on social media networks were feeble and easily overwhelmed. Protest was silenced through cyber bullying, with the majority being silent spectators. Political posts were widely shared, most with a degree of endorsement. It is easy in retrospect to identify that the Army had its share of what  have since come to be called bhakts. These self-anointed monitors outshouted any group managers who dared intervene on groups ranging from old-boy networks of military schools, course-mate groups to battalion groups. 
While earlier, politics was a taboo subject in officers' messes, and perhaps continues to be so, reservation on espousing a political line failed to extend to regulating the social media behaviour of members of the armed forces. The enthusiasm for the conservative party's victory is explicable as it is in keeping with the universal political inclination of an officer corps; the attractions of the allusion to development; its anti-corruption packaging; and the BJP’s largely pro-security agenda. 
The problem is that the ideological baggage that attends the politics of the BJP — Hindutva — was part of the package. One popular propaganda line that was seemingly heartily consumed — judging from its traffic on the social media group — was the conflation of the two “others” in the Hindutva worldview, the Indian Muslim with Pakistan. 
This was easy to sell since a majority of the military has been through Kashmir and has seen the Pakistani hand at play. Exposed to the media attention to the terror attacks in the hinterland, that seldom went beyond the reporting on the blasts to the investigations that have attended these blasts, the theme of a strong government was easily sold. Lately, the letting off by courts of Muslims incarcerated for alleged complicity in the blasts suggests that India was well into the post-truth age before the term was coined. 
Any collateral damage in terms of marginalisation of the minority and social relationships was found acceptable. The distasteful experience of this writer on social media chatter on Army groups led to his withdrawing from the three social media groups comprising his military cohort and former comrades. It was not so much on account of religious affiliation but constraints on expression of a liberal worldview encountered. 
The military leadership needs alerting to this unseemly underside of social media. The military's social media policy is a work-in-progress. It needs updating with stipulations on the content that is exchanged. While self-regulation is best, it has proven insufficient. This has implications for the freedom of expression intrinsic to social media. A case can be made that those who do not wish to receive such posts can opt to leave. The problem with this line of reasoning is that it divides the officer corps, leaving the turf to the cultural nationalists in uniform, for whom patriotism is just not enough. The Army’s social media policy has further steps to take. It needs to be possessive of its social turf. Its cohesion and apolitical nature is at stake.