The young candidate shifted uncomfortably, adjusting his right hand. His elbow seemed to be crooked, and the candidate did not want the interviewers to notice what seemed like a deformity. This was after all an interview for the civil services, and impressions were important.

The candidate could not afford a suit for the interview and so he borrowed it from a friend, a friend with a deformity, a crooked arm. It was 1959 and that was the best he could do.

“What are your hobbies?” asked one interviewer

“Boxing, Sir” answered the young man, all of 22 years.

And so, the interview went on. The young man was conscious that he was focusing too much on his “crooked arm”, and not enough on the interview.

The young man passed with flying colors and soon training commenced.

IPS. 1960 batch. Madhya Pradesh Cadre. That would become his identity for the rest of his life.

It was late in 1962 when the news of our military reverses started trickling in. Yes, we lost that war, but the Indian Army did not surrender. Many fine young men lost their lives. They died where they fought. In those deaths, there was glory. Far away from the brutal war, in Central India, the young man was heartbroken.

BSF House
8 Lodi Estate, New Delhi

We sat in the shade of the verandah, the massive lawns sprawling in front of us. It was March and the summer was creeping in. I had just been commissioned from OTA and after my leave, was expected to join my unit in Suratgarh.

Papa was lost deep in thought.

“The humiliation was too much to bear”, he said, his mind going back to the winter of 1962.

“I was young. I did not know what to do. There was so little information. It was 1963 and I was posted in Madhya Pradesh. There was a message from Delhi. They were asking for volunteers to become a part of some new force being created. The message did not say what this force was, but it was clear that this force was being created to fight against the Chinese”, he said.

When the young man again asked what the name of the force was, he was told that it was “sometimes referred to as Establishment 22”. The man at the other end of the phone didn’t say very much.

The young man reached Chakrata, and training started. The officer cadre was overwhelmingly from the Indian Army and trained by the CIA and Green Berets. The Special Frontier Force did not pull punches. Training was brutal and incessant. There was no respite. And then there were the Tibetans, who seemed superhuman in the mountains. These were the initial birth pangs of Vikas.

“How did you survive the training?” I asked, having just come out of the hellfire myself.

“I was a village boy. I had labored in the fields, got water from miles away and walked 14 kilometers to school. I managed,” he answered with a smile.

My father was that rare IPS officer who did parachute jumps with “my Tibetan friends”. There are no police officers in SFF now. There haven’t been any for a long time. But those were different days.

And so, it was…

My father served in ITBP for a significant part of his career. He was company commander, adjutant, quarter master, Commandant, DIG and finally Director General of the force. I was born in 1972 in Joshimath, when he was Commandant 2nd Battalion, ITBP.

In 1992, he was DGP Madhya Pradesh Police. In 1993, he took over as DG ITBP. Later, he was DG BSF and held additional charge of DG NSG. He retired in 1995. In 1996 he was appointed Advisor to Governor UP, a Cabinet Minister equivalent position.

For the next 20 years, he worked with ICRC.

He was invited by a few political parties to join them, but he never did. Papa could never understand politics.

The last days…

Father tested positive for Covid in November 2020 but recovered. He had kidney issues, a heart problem and diabetes. At the age of 82, he would insist on driving to Noida Gold Course for the weekly game of golf. Many an evening passed by on the bridge table, with his batchmates for company. In 2021, everything changed.

Not a single month in 2021 passed by when he was not hospitalised. Even when he was physically weak, he was mentally strong. He refused to give up. He was soon undergoing dialysis thrice a week. It drained him but he always had a smile on his face. I don’t remember father complaining even once, about anything. Always stoic, he kept the pain and trauma to himself.

I remember clearly. It was 23rd February, and I was traveling. I received a frantic call from home. Papa had collapsed and the doctors at Apollo Hospital, Sector 26, Noida were trying to revive him. I immediately cut short my trip and rushed back to Delhi. When I landed, I was told that they had shifted him to Apollo, Delhi. Apparently, during dialysis on 23rd February, there was an electrolyte imbalance that caused a stroke. By the time he could be taken to the hospital, the oxygen to the brain had been cut off for about 8 minutes.

Papa had slipped into coma.

We prayed every day, hoping for a miracle. In the third week of March, we shifted father to Kailash Hospital, Noida. It was closer to home and would give us more time to spend with him. The neurologist said that he was not hopeful. Maybe if we spoke to him, there would be a reaction, but it was a very slim chance.

There were days when even the tiniest movement of fingers or the blinking of the eyes became a cause for celebration. The doctors told us that this was not “purposeful movement”.

On 9th April, back from her morning ICU visit, Ma said “Your Papa’s fingers are turning blue”. It was like a punch to the guts. Subconsciously, I knew that the end was near.

On 10th April, Papa began to VT. His pulse rose from 82 to 240 and then came back to normal in ten to fifteen seconds. This happened over a dozen times in the space of an hour.

At 3:42 pm, Papa left us. I was inside the ICU at that time.

Thank you…

The Arya family will remain eternally grateful to all the doctors and medical staff who took care of Papa when he was critical. Dr. Sanjiv Jasuja, Nephrologist at Apollo, was our guiding light. More than a doctor, he was like an elder of our family. Dr. Sameer Tawakley (Apollo Noida), nephrologist, supported us all throughout and we are grateful to him. Dr. Pawar, Cardiologist at Apollo Noida, thank you.

Mr. Raj Raina, CEO at Apollo Noida, and Dr. Saurabh Gupta at Apollo Noida went out of their way to support the family. Dr. Gurpreet Kaur at the dialysis center took care of my father and for that I will always be grateful. Ram Lal Ji carried out the dialysis on Papa, and he always did so with care and affection. Thank you, Sister Jyothi, for taking care of Papa in ICU Apollo Noida.

At Kailash Hospital, Noida our family’s gratitude to Dr. Mahesh Sharma who told his team of doctors that they should consider patient on ICU bed number 20 as his own father. I also thank Dr. AK Jain of critical care for taking personal care of Papa in his last moments.

All the people mentioned above fought their hearts out. There are many more whose names I have not mentioned and to each one of them, the family is grateful.

Thank you, Shri. Pankaj Kumar Singh (IPS), DG BSF for the fitting farewell.
Thank you, Shri. Alok Singh, (IPS) CP Gautam Budh Nagar, for being there with the family.
Thank you, Shri. Sanjay Arora (IPS) DG ITBP.
Thank you, Shri. Sudhir Saxena (IPS) DG MP Police.
Thank you, Shri. Love Kumar (IPS), Joint CP, GB Nagar.
Thank you, Uttarakhand Police, for the curtsey extended at Haridwar.

Lt Gen SS Mishra Sir, Col Rawat Sir, Andy, Padmaja and Kishan Singh saab, your presence meant the world to me. We are joined by an umbilical cord. Meri paltan…meri izzat…mera ghar. No amount of gratitude is enough.

SS 57, thank you. I will not say much except that you proved again and again that “Coursemate” is not just a word. It is a commitment that must be honoured. You honoured it. I am proud to have a hundred brothers.

When Ma told me on 9th April that my father’s fingers were turning blue, I thought of how Mahadev and Prabhu Shri Ram’s images were always depicted in blue. Maybe blue is the colour of divinity.

Papa is with Mahadev now.

Major Gaurav Arya (Retd)


Pakistan’s schizophrenia and the two-nation theory  

In an iconic scene from the Bollywood classic Sholay, a much inebriated, golden-hearted petty criminal Veeru climbs the village water tank and tells the crowd gathered below that unless he is married off to Basanti, the village beauty, he would jump off the water tank and commit suicide. And if he did, the plagues would follow. So, Basanti’s ageing aunt better agree, or else.

Salim-Javed will deny that they had Pakistan in mind while writing this iconic scene. But as the years pass, the striking similarity between this scene from Sholay and the security state mindset in Pakistan is becoming clearer even to the most benighted.  Pakistan is a nuclear weapons state perpetually threatening suicide by simply implying that whether they themselves worked for their country’s future was immaterial, but the plagues would visit the world if Pakistan’s core were to destabilize.

That Pakistan flourishes, with massive foreign aid since its inception, is everyone else’s responsibility except Pakistan’s. A strange culture of entitlement has set in, not just within the government but also amongst its citizenry. The relationship between the US and Pakistan is indefinable. The US gives aid. Pakistan receives aid. Pakistan then calls the US a back stabber and the embodiment of Satan. Then the US gives aid again.

The very thought of Pakistan destabilizing is enough to scare the daylights off the hardened veterans of the US State Department. And the US is 8000 miles away. Now imagine what India has to undergo each moment Veeru is up that tower. Nuclear weapons in Pakistan’s arsenal are not such a major cause of worry as is the systematic brainwashing of the citizenry. The implausible is the mundane.

Yes, the Islamic world is full of fantastic conspiracy theories but Pakistanis can get extremely creative. Sample this – a day before the planes slammed into the World Trade Center the Jew employees at WTC were asked by Mossad not to report for work. Osama bin Laden was not killed in Abbotabad; he had died years earlier.  The anti-polio drive in Pakistan is a Jewish conspiracy to render the Pakistani male child impotent. Pakistan is the Qila or fortress of Islam and the Hindu-Christian-Israeli nexus just cannot come to terms with the fact that a Muslim country has nuclear weapons and through their paid agents cause terrorist activities to take place on Pakistani soil.

This bizarre thought process and acceptance of conspiracy theories is so well entrenched in the Pakistani mindset that you have educated people, experts so to say, spouting this nonsense on national TV. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The reality is that Pakistan’s core is destabilizing fast. From Baluchistan to FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), from the urban sectarian death traps of Karachi to the now Taliban infested South Punjab, the finely spun myth of the two-nation theory is unraveling at great speed. Feudal landlords called Waderas hold sway over much of rural Sindh, as do Zamindars over rural Punjab. Pirs, or holy men, who heavily influence voting patterns across Pakistan, lap up whatever is left. And contrary to the popular belief in Pakistan, it brings no particular joy to Indians.

So used to foreign aid are Pakistanis that they have started believing that it is part of their annual budget. It is not something that the US gives to Pakistan for a well-defined purpose and for a period of time. But aid must follow under one pretext or the other. And this has led to a culture of entitlement and has completely destroyed Pakistan’s ability to manufacture anything other than towels and underwear.

Along trundles China with a cheque of USD 46 billion that has the Pakistanis gasping “maula…maula”. Lest I be accused of blasphemy, “maula” means master, not God. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor has, by the very act of the number of zeros placed after forty-six, befuddled the Pakistani imagination. Pakistan’s intelligentsia dare not ask the questions that are on the tip of their collective tongues.

  1. What does Pakistan gain from the CPEC?
  2. What is the exact route of the CEPC inside Pakistan?
  3. China will import oil from the Middle East through Gwadar. Will Pakistan’s role be limited to that of a tollbooth?
  4. Pakistan is raising an Infantry Division (about 10,000 men) to protect the Chinese? Is this a long-term solution?
  5. What do the Baloch get out of the CPEC? Punjab-centric Pakistan has been looting the Baloch for seven decades. Have the Chinese now joined the party?

Have the Pakistanis totally forgotten what the East India Company did to India? How is the Chinese approach any different? All contracts must, by the nature of the agreement, be awarded only to Chinese firms. Investments are subject to 18% interest. Will Pakistanis be relegated to being petty sub-contractors, suppliers of labor and coarse sand?

Finally, have the Pakistanis actually sold off their nation for 46 billion dollars? The CPEC is not simply investment. It is Pakistan handing over the chicken coop to the wolf.

To ask is to commit kuffar or blasphemy. But ask one must.

What is the Two Nation Theory? It states that the unifying force of a nation is religion, rather than culture or ethnicity, and that Hindus and Muslims are two different nations and hence cannot coexist.

Jinnah did not create Pakistan. He was just the acceptable liberal face of a much more sinister plot. Pakistan was the economic and social need of the jagirdars and waderas of West Punjab. They were the economic powerhouses, which would suffer if India became democratic. Gandhi was speaking of land re-distribution. For a feudal class bred on deep sense of entitlement, it was death. One man – one vote was against the notion of hereditary privilege. The waderas were slave owners. They still are. Democracy would seat the landless along with the wadera. Economic self-preservation morphed into the two-nation theory. That Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) spoke of all men being equal in the eyes of God, and enjoined that no Muslim would bow before anyone but Allah, was just theory for them. Practical life dictated that privileges had to be protected.

Maulana Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami vehemently opposed the idea of Pakistan. For one, the concept of nationhood based on religion had no sanction in the Quran or any of the hadiths, the traditions and sayings of the Holy Prophet. The world was divided into Daar-ul-Aman (the house of peace) or Daar-ul-Harb (the house of war). Muslims in India had lived peacefully for a thousand years. There was no precedence or Quranic sanction, which could justify the division of India. Maududi also believed that the creation of Pakistan was not just division of land, but also division of the sub-continents Muslims.

But Partition did happen. For twenty-four years the two-nation theory held good. On 16 September 1971 the make believe world of Pakistan collapsed. It seemed that Bengalis did not take kindly to dictation from Punjabis and Pashtuns. Language and culture trumped religion. Jinnah’s moth-eaten state had been cleaved into half by “black dhoti-clad Bengalis” as Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan was fond of calling them, with a little nudge from Manekshaw’s boys.

What now remains of Pakistan is a confederation of ethnicities.

If Jinnah envisioned Pakistan as a safe haven for Muslims of the sub-continent, the less said the better. More than three thousand people were killed in ethnic violence in 2014 in Karachi alone. That’s about eight killings a day in the largest city of a country that was founded to be a safe haven for those who were killed.

There isn’t an Islamic terror group in the world that does not owe allegiance to the State of Pakistan or one of its upright citizens. Pakistan exports terror into Iran through the Sunni leaning Jundullah. Iran being dominantly Shia is a God given target. Shia’s are wajib-ul-qatl. Basically, it’s all right to kill them. No ones counting. Through the Punjabi Taliban and the Haqqani Network, the ISI spreads its tentacles in Afghanistan, looking for that elusive mirage, strategic depth. Uighur terrorists from China have admitted to being trained in terrorist activities in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) of Pakistan.

Pakistan is looking for influence. Not the kind that comes from Yoga or McDonalds. Pakistan is looking for influence through terror. It is the same wadera mindset of keeping everyone in line. Pakistan has nothing to offer the world. What it had, it destroyed. Perhaps the poetry of Bulle Shah and Syed Waris Shah is too effeminate for the generals at Rawalpindi. Three million Bengalis killed in Operation Searchlight, a few thousand disappearances in Balochistan and letting loose the MQM (Haqiqi) faction in Karachi is more their style. Not that Altaf Hussain of the MQM is an angel, but state sponsored terror is a different ball game.

What it can kill or subdue, it does. And what it cannot strike fear into, sets it climbing the proverbial water tank. “If I kill myself you will be in a sea of trouble” is the refrain. You will note that whenever there is a downslide in Indo-Pak relations, which is very often, bang comes the reminder from Pakistan that they are a nuclear weapons state and the said weapons are not for ornamental purposes.

So, Pakistan will keep asking for money and the world will keep giving money. It is scary when you see a deranged drunk with a violent record roaming in your neighborhood with a loaded assault rifle. This is “The Veeru Effect”. The world is not likely to call Pakistan’s bluff anytime soon.

An outright military response to Pakistan may not be the answer. That’s probably because the question is ideological. Pakistan was a problem for us before 1971. We dismembered it. It is still a problem. Even if Balochistan were to somehow secede from Pakistan, the problem will not just remain. It will multiply.

Pakistan will get more desperate and more insecure. There will be more brinkmanship, like Kargil. Or a third party operation by Hafiz Saeed and his ilk. This cyclic violence will continue till the Indian extreme right-wing hawks realize that they are ineffective and their current actions will have no long-term impact on Pakistan or its mindset. We must accept that we do not have all the answers.

An idea, however vicious or powerful cannot be defeated by anything except an idea. That’s why the Americans lost in Vietnam and the Soviets were humbled in Afghanistan.

The only way to attack at the roots of Pakistan is to attack at the very idea that gave birth to Pakistan, the “two-nation theory”. It’s not a macho plan and not something that would find favor with those that advocate a more muscular policy vis-à-vis Pakistan.

Think Ravana, the demon king of the RamayanaLord Ram cut off his head and it just grew right back. Until VibhishanaRavana’s brother told Ram about the secret of Ravana’s immortality; amrit or the elixir of life that was hidden in Ravana’s navel. The two-nation theory is the amrit in the navel of Ravana. It is the preamble of the ideology of Pakistan.

Pakistan is there to stay, like it or not. But every time a Muslim man in India starts a Wipro or a Cipla, it suddenly and irrevocably damages the two-nation theory.  Nothing scares Pakistan more than the success of the Indian Muslim, because it questions the very reason of its existence. It forces the average Pakistani to ask “If Muslims are so successful in India, why did we create Pakistan?”

Let young Pakistanis ask why their nation was created. And when they see successful Muslims in India, they will ask that question. And once they do, their nuclear weapons will be so much candyfloss.

A hundred and seventy-two million Muslims call India home. This is an indisputable fact. And it is these Muslims who hold the key to our Pakistan problem.

Muslims will have to question their own leadership, both religious and political, and hold them accountable for jobs, education and infrastructure. They will have to firmly tell people claiming to be their leaders that fear mongering is pulling the community down. And these so-called leaders are both Muslim and Hindus; yes, those very leaders who would love to give voter identification cards to Bangladeshi immigrants but dare not tell the maulvi of a madrasa to install computers.

It is these leaders who are the real enemy of the Muslims, who would do anything to keep them away from joining the national mainstream because it serves their narrow political purposes.

When Muslims are free of the clutches of these leaders and political charlatans, and when they mass-embrace modern education; that will be the day when Sir Syed will smile from the heavens.

And that’s when Veeru will look down from the water tank to find that there is no one there. His bluff will then have been called.


I watch Pakistani TV every day. It helps me build perspective and broaden my horizons about our Western neighbours. But it also helps with a lesser intellectual pursuit. In these trying times, it helps me laugh. Sometimes, it’s a short laugh, the kind you experience when something is funny but not so much. A short laugh that starts and stops, perhaps undecided if the joke is still funny after the laugh left your throat. You abruptly stop, not wanting to appreciate the joke more than it really deserves.

A few Pakistani TV anchors are sharp, incisive and knowledgeable. They speak extremely well and do detailed research before they appear on screen. But you cannot laugh at them because they are professionally competent. I avoid watching them.

And then there are the legends of Pakistani TV. They elicit a different kind of laughter; it starts from the pit of the stomach and travels all the way up, working its way from my intestines to my lungs and from there to the sternum, finally gushing all the way up to my throat. I apologise if I have got my own anatomy wrong. Now you know why I opted for Humanities after Class X.

Israel, a nation, is at war with Hamas, a terrorist outfit. War is always unfortunate but sometimes it is inevitable. This is such a war. But in between scenes of violence and destruction, Pakistan TV anchors provide a ray of hope, sunshine and very frequently, generous doses of Nitrous Oxide.

A lady anchor, often seen spitting fire, brimstone and the odd dash of venom, wants the Pakistan Air Force to immediately fly to Palestine and bomb Israel and the Pakistan Army to march to Tel Aviv to unfurl the “flag of Islam”. She wants Imran Khan to realise that he is a man (mard) and as such, should be busy fighting Israel. Her guest, an old, retired General of the Pak Army, sits quietly in a corner, unconvinced. There is a look of bewilderment on his face, as if he were saying “You want us to attack Israel, you blithering twit? When was the last time we attacked anyone apart from our own people?”

Another male anchor, frothing at the mouth, wants to know why Pakistan cannot use its “Atomic Bum” on the Jews. Yup, that would scare the Israelis. No one wants a Pakistani to land “bum” first on Tel Aviv. Disgusting, to say the least. Preposteriorous. That’s not a word, folks and I am not going all Shashi Tharoor on you. I just made it up.

The Pakistani Lahori anchors should be tried for various crimes, none more serious than murdering Urdu. It’s a lovely language, broken and battered by a clique who were forced to learn it on the orders of a cadaverous lawyer, who did not speak it. The atrocities perpetrated upon Urdu can best be described in Indian call center training jargon as MTI or Mother Tongue Influence. Some Lucknowites (yes, that’s a word) want to string them up for blasphemy.

The Pakistan Army could do nothing about Kashmir, except send the Pakistani poor to their deaths, all the while themselves acquiring corner plots in various DHAs across Pakistan. This army depends upon Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad to fight its wars. The best that this army could do was to get their chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to lie to his own people saying that he deserved a three-year extension because India was going to attack and swallow Pakistan. India did nothing and Bajwa is still enjoying playing God. And Pakistani TV anchors want this army and its chief to fight Israel. Nitrous oxide, anyone?

Another Pakistani anchor wants all Muslim nations to unite and fight Israel. Unite? This is Pakistan where people are not united in celebrating Eid on the same day. Traditionally, Pakistan has celebrated Eid on two different days – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on one day and the rest of Pakistan on the next. This year they broke their own record by celebrating it on three different days. Apparently, they saw three different moons.

On odd days, Imran Khan begs for and gets rice as Zakat (aid for the poor) from Saudi Arabia. On even days, he plays Don Quixote, charging at the windmills. They say he grows his own weed. Good man. Atmanirbhar Pakistan.

I shall keep it short and sweet, even abrupt.

Get rid of Netflix and Amazon Prime. Tell your cable or satellite dish company to take a walk. Go to YouTube and watch Pakistani anchors at work. Bring out the laughing gas. Let’s party, guys.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)


It is now time to tell the truth. We were forced to grow up in a synthetically created bubble of self-loathing, perceived inferiority and constant reminders that we, as a nation and as a people, were not good enough. These blatant falsehoods were pushed down our throats by our schoolbooks, sometimes written by brown sahibs and mostly by left-leaning faux ideologues. What is the best way to kill the spirit of a people? Tell them that their culture, their way of life and their entire belief system is inferior.

We were told that we had no culture before the armies of the Umayyad Caliphate invaded Sindh and that we knew no science when the British landed on our shores. Generations of Indians were forced to believe that the humiliation and subjugation of arguably the world’s oldest civilization was actually an act of mercy.

So systematic was this intellectual slavery that students of history would respond to the accusation that over a million Indians died in the Second World War, by churlishly saying, “But the British gave us the railways, didn’t they?”

I grew up studying Sun Tzu, Machiavelli and Clausewitz because conventional wisdom had it that there was no Indian worth studying and that all knowledge that existed in India, actually came from outside. It was as if the entire world had but one mission; to civilize India. Our blood, honour and freedom were a pittance in payment for this divine favour. When we questioned, we were told that we were not grateful enough.

Nalanda and Takshashila were lost in the mists of time. Ajanta and Ellora were simply caves with some statues of our half-clothed ancestors. We did not achieve independence because hundreds of thousands of Indians walked this blood-soaked earth. The British simply left one day, just as suddenly as they had come; their departure a nod to their precarious economic condition after World War Two. Somehow, even our freedom was a gift bestowed upon us by a departing tyrant.

To many, this intellectual slavery was, in a dark and insidious way, comforting. If you have no spine, no one will expect you to stand.

But nations are not built with bricks and cement alone, and neither do iron frames give them a spine. Nations are built with blood, bone, flesh and memories. Our history books almost totally ignored Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Guru Gobind Singh Ji; it was as if they were not worth more than a passing mention. But what we were taught in school was negated by what my mother taught me at home. Back from school and over a simple but lovingly cooked meal, India’s history was told and re-told. Stories from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana came to life. She told me about India’s great warriors. Unknown to me then, I had perhaps slowly started understanding what India was. And my eleven-year-old mind took great flights of imagination. One day I was a General in the army of Maharana Pratap and on another, young Shivaji’s childhood friend, running with him on the ramparts of Shivneri Fort.

Today, I realise that the stories my mother told me were really not about our history. They were her way of fighting what she thought was the negation of our very cultural existence. She could not win against an entire system that ran on falsehood, but she could certainly resist. These storytelling sessions were like a child throwing a stone at a marauding giant. They were small acts of defiance.

When Europe wore animal skins and the pyramids did not exist, my forefathers were farmers and artisans, priests and poets, kings and scientists. Indian dynasties sent ships and armies across the world. Thousands of years later, between 1350 to 1767 AD, existed the Kingdom of Ayodhya (also pronounced Ayutthaya), the precursor of modern-day Thailand. The incumbent Thai King still proudly carries the royal title of King Rama the Tenth. The Cholas sent armies and emissaries across Asia. Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered Afghanistan. General Zorawar Singh unfurled the Dogra flag in Tibet.

When people tell you that the Indians were non-expeditionary, they lie.

One of the cornerstones of our ancient wisdom is the Arthashastra, written by Vishnugupt Chanakya. A great political scientist, teacher and a master of statecraft, he envisioned the idea of a nation that was strong, self-reliant and united. Chanakya was a contemporary of Alexander the Great and his treatise, the Arthashastra, defines many principles, chief amongst them economics, taxation, philosophy, statecraft and the duties of a king towards his nation and his subjects.

The Arthashastra also talks about the four pillars of statecraft and how these pillars are the means to achieve a nation’s political and military ends. Saam, by way of convincing. Daam, by way of economic benefit. Danda, by way of military might. Bhedha, by way of deception. These pillars stand strong and true two-and-a-half millennia later. They are an affirmation of a glorious past which refuses to be wiped out by treachery and deceit.

The road to India’s place in the sun meanders through its glorious history. The more we embrace our past, the more powerful we will become.

It was the summer of 2020 and the Chinese dragon was breathing fire on the Line of Actual Control. Rumours flew thick and fast; the Chinese had swallowed up thousands of kilometers of our territory, some said. Others said that the People’s Liberation Army was a day’s march from Leh. Some of our own people, steeped in millennia of mental slavery, quoted the New York Times to buttress their claims. When I asked them, “How does New York Times know? They haven’t been there”, they ridiculed my question. They gave no logic for the ridicule they heaped upon me. They just simply could not understand how an Indian could commit the blasphemy of questioning The New York Times. It was like questioning the word of God.

It was then that the idea of an online magazine took shape in my mind. It would have articles by experts on Geopolitics, Foreign Affairs and National Security. Global in its outlook, its character would be quintessentially Indian. And it would, unequivocally, tell the truth.

So, I decided to name it Chanakya Forum. The idea certainly had a tinge of romance to it; a few of us reaching back into the mists of time to uphold the immortal legacy of Chanakya. I launched it on 25th September. To me, this date is significant because it was on this date that I was born twice, once in 1972 and again in 2020.

Today, we launch our mobile phone app. But Chanakya Forum is not just a magazine. It is the same child throwing a stone at a marauding giant.

Chanakya Forum is a small act of defiance.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
Founder and CEO – Chanakya Forum

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About the author – Maj. Gaurav Arya (Retd) is a veteran, writer, public speaker and TV host. He is the founder of Chanakya Forum.


Shah Faesal wears many hats – common man, bureaucrat and dissident. Here, he writes exclusively for Chanakya Forum.

“Two years down the line it is by and large clear now that the abrogation of Article 370 made a powerful statement about how India looks at itself and its perception of the contemporary world-order. The situation in Kashmir must be examined in the backdrop of what has been achieved so far because that sets tone for the task ahead.

Government’s action on Article 370 was firstly a geopolitical signal, a reiteration of the unconditional nature and irreversibility of J&K’s Accession to the Union of India in 1947. India made it unequivocally known that it would not hesitate from taking seemingly extraordinary steps in the region to protect and promote its national interests, even if that meant risking an asymmetric two front war in the Himalayas.

Summer of 2019 was the time when India’s defensive-offence national security doctrine whose biggest proponent has been India’s NSA Ajit Doval, came of age. Gautam Chikermane calls it inauguration of India’s rise as a ‘rajasic’ nation.”

Read entire article here 👇

Kashmir – A Preferable Future


Watch the latest episode of THE CHANAKYA DIALOGUES on Paratroopers and Para Special Forces.

Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, a paratrooper & former DGMO talks about the strategic use of Paratroopers, the future and the spirit needed to wear the maroon beret.

The soul of the paratrooper – DIL, DIMAAG AUR GHUTNA…EK LINE MEIN

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Pakistan was created as a result of the Two-Nation Theory. When Pakistan did come into being, it feared that it would be looked upon as a ‘lesser India’. It was exactly like India, just smaller and poorer. So, Pakistan embarked upon a mission to project itself as a nation that identified itself as ‘we who are not India’. It rewrote history. It created Arab and Central Asian ancestry for its people out of thin air, and convinced its citizens of their non-existent foreign origins.

Therein lie the foundations of the first cracks in the edifice of the State of Pakistan. Urdu was imposed and this was one of the many reasons that lead to the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. But the “Urdu problem” as Bengalis would sometimes refer to this imposition as, was planned in 1947-48, with Mohammad Ali Jinnah traveling to Dhaka in what was then East Pakistan, to announce his grand plan to have Urdu as the only national language of the “moth-eaten” state of Pakistan. No one realised the irony of it then. Jinnah was selling a language that he did not speak, to a people who did not understand it. The Bengali language is more than fourteen hundred years old. Some believe it carries nuanced sophistication on one shoulder. Others believe that it carries a chip on the other, but that is open to debate. Oh, the Bengalis love a good debate.

Created to be a homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims, it was believed that Islam was the glue that would hold Pakistan together. On 16 December 1971 that glue unraveled. In the first partition of its kind, a majority broke away from a minority. Punjabi sub-nationalism was simply too heavy handed to permit co-existence. That you were Muslim was not good enough. You had to be Sunni Punjabi Muslim.

Pakistan was to be an Islamic welfare state, based on the Riyasat-e-Medina model, the first Muslim state set up by Prophet Mohammad after his Hijrat, or migration from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. That did not happen. There were simply too many pulls and pressures.

Muslims are not a homogeneous entity. Pakistan’s two hundred million people follow a staggering variety of ‘sub-faiths’ and each ‘sub-faith’ is followed with a passion that can sometimes border on the terrifying. The Deobandis have a fundamental difference of opinion with the Barelvis. Together, they share a visceral hatred for the Ahl-e-Hadith. This often results in blood baths and bombing of mosques of the other sect. Interestingly, these three sub sects of Islam were created in North India, before partition. Most Pakistani Sunni Muslims belong to the Hanafi Fiqh. Salafism and Wahabism, born in the deserts of Egypt and Arabia, are fast finding their feet in Punjab and Sindh, once the nurseries of Sufism.

The two branches of Shia Islam in Pakistan are the Twelvers or Imamiyyah and Ismailis, with the Twelvers being the most widely practiced Shia faith. Ahmadis were declared non-Muslim in Pakistan by the Second Amendment to the Constitution and by Ordinance XX.

These are the broad schisms in the Pakistani Muslim landscape. Muslims form a staggering total of 96% of the population of Pakistan. By one estimate, the breakup is – Shia (Twelvers) 18%, Ismailis 2%, Ahmadis 2%, Barelvis 50%, Deobandis 20%, Ahl-e-Hadith 4% and other minorities 4%.

Students of sub-nationalism in Pakistan know about the Baloch freedom struggle and the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement. They lament the dying out of Jiye Sindh movement and the brutal suppression of the MQM. The Baltistani movement is picking up steam and we hear angry voices from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. But clearly, there is no constant and consistent momentum. There cannot be, not without outside support. India has steadfastly maintained a policy of not supporting secessionist movements in Pakistan or other countries.

A cursory look at the Pakistani society reveals a nation that is forever at the edge of implosion. It is not the strain that comes with the ebbs and flows of a democracy, because whatever its veneer might be, Pakistan is not a democracy. The war within is religious, ethnic and social. For India, this has provided a window of opportunity, which has been ignored for too long. Indians worship passivity. We take great pride in saying that we have never attacked any country, ever. This has been our undoing; this and the entire narrative of ours being a non-expeditionary army.

For seventy-two years we have either been fighting Pakistan and its proxies or have been in a state of no-war-no-peace. Our conflict with Pakistan is existential. Let us, as a nation, accept the fact that Pakistan will never allow India to live in peace. Pakistan thrives in a synthetically created eco-chamber in which the mere existence of India is anathema and Kashmir, the cornerstone of its foreign policy.

Since its creation, Pakistan has dedicated enormous resources to widen the fault-lines in India. It started the terrorist Khalistan movement in Punjab and followed it up with terrorism in Kashmir. It was able to do so because we were weak; diplomatically, militarily, politically, economically and socially. Specially when Kashmir blew up in our faces in 1989, foreign reserves were down to the last billion, we had a weak coalition government at the center, we were embroiled in Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka, operations in Punjab and the North East and with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the world was looking the other way. As astrologers would say, it was an ‘opportune moment’ for Pakistan.

Today, Pakistan is down on its knees. Economically it is staring at bankruptcy, politically it is unstable with Imran Khan taking a beating from opposition parties and widely believed to be selected by the army and not elected, and diplomatically it is isolated. A study of the socio-political landscape will tell you that the country has never been so fractured. Militarily, the Army Chief finds himself at odds with his own Generals. His three-year extension has sealed the fate of his first line. Sub-nationalism in Pakistan, which has never been fully dormant, raises its head again. It is often violent and put down even more violently by the Pakistan Army. The cycle of violence never ceases. Pakistan’s human rights record is only slightly better than Saudi Arabia and North Korea. The media, a section of which has managed to remain away from the direct influence of DG ISPR, is being browbeaten.

This is the perfect time to take advantage of all of Pakistan’s fault lines. We do not need to take a leaf out of Pakistan’s books and start arming and training disaffected elements. The Pakistani society is already well armed and trained. It is one of the most weaponised nations on earth. The country is a tinderbox. All it needs is a spark. Social media is that spark.

The low hanging fruit is the ideological schism between the Deobandis and Barelvis. Over a period of years, if carefully nurtured, it has the potential to bleed Pakistan. While the Ahl-e-Hadith are a small percentage of the Sunni Muslim population in Pakistan, like the Deobandis and Barelvis, their ‘Tanzeems” or armed groups have been deployed to devastating effect. Shia Tanzeems are active in Karachi and also in areas bordering Iran. While Pakistan Army has tried to disarm some of these groups, many remain in the woodwork, beneficiaries of the deep state’s largesse.

We would also do well to stop looking at Balochistan in isolation. The Pakistani Punjabi tendency to look down upon every other ethnicity as socially and racially inferior puts it at loggerheads with every other sub-nationality in Pakistan. Our narrative needs to be crafted in a manner that makes it Punjab versus the others. This emotion already exists in Pakistan. It is merely a function of reiterating it again and again. Punjabi hubris was on full display during the events leading up to the 1971 war and the eventual dismemberment of Pakistan. No lessons have been learnt. Nothing has changed.

The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Balochistan Liberation Army are very different in the way they operate. Their ideologies are different. The PTM is largely peaceful. The BLA is violent. The MQM, after being battered to the ground, is rising again. The common factor is that the people they represent have been marginalised, their resources stolen and their jobs snatched. Their homes have been razed, their women raped, their relatives killed and their culture destroyed by an overweening Punjabi establishment. Punjab is Pakistan. Pakistan is Punjab. This is what merits telling and retelling.

If there is an institution in Pakistan that has a veneer of strength and solidity, it is the Pakistan Army. However, it has its own skeletons. From the initial days of the creation of Pakistan to the years before and during the 1965 war, the turbulent years before and after the fall of Dhaka, the Zia years and then the rule of Parvez Musharraf has seen that despite its outward sheen, the Pakistan Army is vulnerable to factionalism and intrigue. Post the Kargil War; factionalism within the Pakistan Army was out in the open. Defeat does that. The incarceration of Lt Gen Sarfraz Sattar and his forced resignation for opposing the three-year extension given to General Qamar Javed Bajwa is a case in point. That seven of the senior most generals of the Pakistan Army openly revolted against their own chief in the extension issue tells us that there are cracks in the Pakistan Army that can be exploited.

In the recent past, Pakistani Army Chiefs have made a habit of settling abroad. Generals Pervez Musharraf, Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani and Raheel Shareef are not in Pakistan. Most Pakistani senior military officials, bureaucrats and politicians have homes and investments abroad. In many cases, their children are foreign citizens. The widening chasm between the haves and the haves not is a sore point with Pakistanis who live without electricity, water and basic amenities. Rising inflation, the cost of food and the all-encompassing absence of hope are forcing the common Pakistani to rise against the system. In the past, this dissonance has often taken the shape of violence.

Media finds itself managed and controlled. Major General Asif Ghafoor, the former DG ISPR, ran a personality cult using the Pakistan Army’s resources. While the gist of his endeavours was anti-India, he established himself as the voice of Pakistan on social and mainstream media. Major General Babur Iftikhar, the current DG ISPR is expected to be more circumspect. Having said this, Pakistani media is generally expected to fall in line with what ISPR dictates. ISPR almost functions like the parent body of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority or PEMRA. The truth is that the Pakistan Army crushed PEMRA’s autonomy and spirit long back. In mainstream media, journalists and anchors have been intimidated, killed, beaten and shot at. Pakistan’s top TV anchor Hamid Mir carries two bullet wounds on his body, a reminder to him as to who the real boss is, in Pakistan.

It bears admission that we are years behind Pakistan in Information Warfare. They became better than us not because they had more talent and money, but because they had no choice. After having lost every war to India, they became experts in hybrid warfare. They looked for non-investment heavy solutions and found them.

We have far more money and talent than Pakistan will ever have. What we lack is the realisation that media and social media are weapons of war. Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese philosopher said “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. It Facebook had existed during Sun Tzu’s time, the philosopher would have smiled in satisfaction. In the end, all war is deception.

What we need is an Information Warfare organisation, which comprises of experts. I have seen no proof of the military having the talent for Information Warfare, or even the simple realisation that a few credible Twitter handles are far more dangerous than a battalion of soldiers. We need an Organisation that is run by the military but manned by writers, singers, video editors, musicians, content creators, historians, social media experts, hackers, theological experts, geo-strategic experts and host of other talent that exists outside the military. This organisation must be supported by intelligence agencies. The scale and scope of this organisation must be large enough to take this e-war to Pakistan.

This organisation will be tasked to create narratives through videos, songs, stories, blogs, Vlogs, articles, video games, documentaries, social media accounts and will also serve as a feeder to the mainstream media. It will function through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms. It will create content that will directly address the fault lines in Pakistan. It will reiterate, constantly and consistently, the narrative that Pakistan is tearing itself at the seams. Pakistan ranks 25th in the global Internet penetration list. Only about 15% Pakistanis have access to the Internet. But with China investing heavily in Pakistan’s telecom infrastructure, the number of users is expected to increase exponentially by 2025.

If we are innovative and consistent in our approach, the fault lines in Pakistan will begin to haemorrhage. It is only a matter of time before Pakistan again goes to war, this time with itself.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

Note: This article first appeared in the Spring Issue 2020 of SCHOLAR WARRIOR the magazine of CLAWS (Center for Land Warfare Studies), India’s premier Security Think Tank. You can also read this article at