Recently, a clearly infuriated citizen called Suman Singh, the wife of a former Indian army soldier, sent Prime Minister Narendra Modi a 56-inch brassiere.
She was doubtlessly venting her frustration following the unending casualties at the LOC. Her gesture was a powerful reminder of the anguish, angst and anger brewing among the people over the government’s ham-handedness over the complex, sensitive problem of cross-border violence. India appears effete, incapacitated, clueless—and the absence of a coherent policy is resulting in rising casualties.
In her letter to Prime Minister, ex-army-man Dharamvir Singh’s wife, Suman Singh reminded Modi that the BJP had before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections claimed that if it came in power the Pakistan would not dare to attack Indian soldiers. But the situation is even worse now.
Her husband told the reporters that the letter to PM Modi, along with the blouse had been submitted to the Zila Sainik Board in Fatehabad.
The lingerie sent an eloquent message to the PM: it was meant to rub salt into the gaping wounds of a government that won the 2014 elections on the back of repeated haranguing of the Dr Manmohan Singh government as “weak“. “Chicken biryani diplomacy” was BJP’s sarcastic taunt, winning them some public plaudits and huge social media traction. Modi boastfully promised instant solutions—a muscular, macho foreign policy that would make Pakistan shiver in trepidation. In short, he meant a directly confrontationist policy as opposed to the Congress-led UPA’s strategic restraint; a jaw for a tooth policy was the new declared intent. In TV debates, Modi’s self-congratulatory “56-inch chest” became a popular reference point. India was sold a biceps-triceps foreign policy model that would easily railroad any opposition. Three years down, the government desperately needs a protein shake.
Globally, there is a dramatic rise in an authoritarian leadership style. They may not necessarily be doppelgangers of tin-pot dictatorships, but they are not very different either. They have created a new political-government structure—illiberal democracy, which is essentially a diluted dictatorship. They adroitly camouflage their hardened fists behind clever velvety sophistry, raising the nationalistic temperature repeatedly because it delivers political dividends. They are masterminds at using sound-bite volleys delivered through hired creative writers which attract both the hoi polloi and the 9pm hashtag. Opposing them is virtual sacrilege, and their social media storm-troopers will invariably vilify you before hanging you from the tallest tree by the thinnest thread. Like Adolf Hitler, these leaders are democratically elected, so their acts of despotism are seen as possessing legitimacy.
Vladimir Putin’s regime has seen several assassinations of dissenting voices in mysterious circumstances, such as Denis Voronenkov . President Duterte of the Philippines indulges in macabre braggadocio, claiming that he has killed drug peddlers with his own hands. A fear psychosis looms over Manila as suspected offenders may be summarily jailed and executed. Turkey’s President Erdogan has ingeniously crafted a draconian law that makes him like a ruling monarch with unbridled powers.
Dharamvir claimed he was a former district observer of the Aam Aadmi Party and had served the Indian Army from December 1991 to 2007 and retired as a havaldar. Being an ex-armyman’s wife, he said, Suman had expressed anguish about the recent spate of killings.
He was also asked if the gesture could be seen as an insult to the office of the Prime Minister, to which he replied,
“You tell me one thing — are we not being insulted? Our prime minister used to say never ever will our soldiers have to go through what they went through before. But what is happening under the present regime is even worse”.
Suman wrote in her letter that videos had surfaced in which soldiers are being slapped, humiliated and pelted with stones. She also referred to Lance Naik Hemraj who was beheaded by Pakistan’s Border Action Team in January 2013.
She also urges PM to give the Indian Army a free hand to tackle the situation on the border.
“The way the hands of our soldiers are tied they are unable to take the situation head on, which is most unfortunate,” she wrote.