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.

Winning the Hearts of Alienated Societies

Winning the hearts of alienated societies

When asked what they wished for most in life, the villagers of Turtuk would say, ‘someone whom we can trust.’

To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.

—George MacDonald

The grand strategy of winning hearts and minds of the people has great significance when fighting terrorism or ideologies. Ideologies could be religious (Islam) or political (Communism). Now Iraq, for example, was not a war of ideas; it was primarily a war of identities—Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis. On the other hand, the nature of war in Vietnam was different; the ends being pursued were different—democracy over communism. Therefore, winning hearts and minds makes sense in a classical ideological insurgency, where people's trust can be ...

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