Free Press Journal

Securing India the Modi Way: Pathankot, Surgical Strikes and More- Review


Book: Securing India The Modi Way

Author: Nitin A. Gokhale

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Price: Rs 499

As a part of my everyday ritual, I switched on my television set at 8.00 am to take in my daily dose of news. Almost all the news channels, except couple of them flashed only one news… Two Indian Air Force commandos, part of a joint security team, and two militants were killed in a gunfight in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district.

A mere glance at ongoing breaking news, brought in front of me several thoughts related to the stages of pre and post operation the armed forces must have undertaken before neutralising the terrorists.

Less than 12 hours before, I had finished reading the book written by Nitin Gokhale titled ‘Securing India The Modi Way.’ The entire perception towards seeing and understanding the terror attack followed by defence resistance while watching the news had undergone change. An expert in writing and commenting upon national security, Gokhale through this book has finely brought out the aspects of defence preparedness and political will to achieve desired results.

No wonder, Gokhale who has greater access to several defence as well as political heads due to his national security expertise has touched upon several unanswered but often pondered upon questions with regard to defence operations. Be it Uri attack, averting a catastrophe at Pathankot, striking hard in Myanmar or the much spoken about surgical strikes in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), the book highlights several stages and risks that were involved in carrying out these operations.

We are all aware of the Newton’s third law which states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. But, in the recent past we Indians had lost faith in the practicality of this law with regard to retaliation or counter attack to Pak sponsored terrorism in several parts of India. Until, the Uri incident took place on September 18, 2016.

Four heavily armed suicide attackers, trekked according the Haji Pir pass, infiltrated into the Uri sector and attacked the administrative base of the 12 Brigade HQ killing 19 Indian soldiers.

According to the author, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval remembers Prime Minister Narendra Modi telling him: ‘This attack should not go without response’. On September 29, 2016, Doval drove himself to the residence of PM informing about India’s Special Forces bowing up several terrorist camps in PoK delivering a tight slap to the Pakistani Army and its proxies.

The book takes us to the decision making table, which was done swiftly but with complete secrecy. As the reader turn the pages, he or she finds oneself into actual combat mode, now for the very first time getting  more than a clearer view of what actually happened on the battlefield. Thanks to Gokhale’s in depth writing, doubts over Surgical strikes is now a passé.

On a political gambit, Modi’s pick of Goa Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar, as the country’s Defence Minister seemed to be a well thought move going by the chapter titled ‘Striking Hard In Myanmar’ in this book.

On June 4, 2015, a group of North-East militants had ambushed and killed 18 soldiers of an Infantry battalion in Chandel district of Manipur, bordering Myanmar. “How could anyone get away with killing our soldiers?”, visibly disturbed Parrikar, barely seven months into his high profile job as Defence Minister had asked. The book quotes Parrikar saying, “I told the Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh, this must not go unpunished.”

The decision took some time since Myanmar, after all, is a friendly country. Going deep inside the Myanmar territory to eliminate terror camps needed to take Myanmar government as well as its Army into confidence. None imagined that Myanmar raids would later serve as a template for surgical strikes in PoK.

However, according to the author, then Parrikar was however perceptive enough to understand that PM would not hesitate to seek a similar action on the Western Front if need be.

“I realised the Special Forces needed to be used selectively and effectively and asked for a report on their equipment status, shortages and requirements,” Parrikar had confided in author. He was bang on target in reading Prime Minister Modi’s mindset.

The book also takes into account several internal security challenges specially handling of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the aftermath of Burhan Wani encounter and task of handling Maoist infested areas. And while it looks into the swift handling of certain crisis by the Modi government, the book also highlights certain challenges that lay ahead mainly the uncertainty of geo-politics and fast moving diplomatic changes in the Asia-Pacific region due to China’s unprecedented rise.

‘Securing India The Modi Way’, is certainly an everyone’s read, from an defence enthusiast to a laymen with a primary question in mind…Is the Nation in safe hands? Some may stumble upon the answer, while others may just realise that especially in defence related matters unwritten words have much to reveal.

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