Arjun Ray's book is based on the dialogue around the counterinsurgency doctrine, arguing that the main strategy towards this aim should be preventing people from feeling alienated. The central focus of this strategy, which the author in his capacity as an army man successfully executed in Operation Sadhbhavna, is the people. The author believes that killing is counterproductive and the army must change its role from ‘winning wars’ to ‘preventing wars’.

He also calls upon the media to be more responsible in discharging their role in nation-building rather than being a bystander.

The author proposes a three-pronged strategy to achieve success—preventing conflict by addressing human security through human development, pursuing a policy of atonement and forgiveness, and eliminating trust deficit between the State and the marginalized—the three pillars of Operation Sadhbhavna. The failure on the part of the State and the army to follow this strategy, with terrible human cost and devastating consequences, is charted through the examples of the Naxalite and Kashmiri experience.

Centre of Gravity—The People

Centre of gravity—The people

In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.

—Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality

Popular support is the oxygen that enables insurgents to achieve victory in their armed struggle. Likewise, if they are denied this support base the insurgency dies a natural death. Mao Tse Tung was unequivocally clear in his theory of popular support, ‘The moment that this war of resistance disassociates itself from the masses of the people, is the precise moment that it disassociates itself from the hope of ultimate victory.’1

This is history's lesson, yet all governments choose to ignore it. This partially explains why insurgencies are protracted and governments prefer the armed response to a ...

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