20 Indian soldiers have died in combat with the Chinese army. The images of their dead bodies draped in the tri-colour are bound to boil the blood of any patriotic citizen. Every Indian wants to give a befitting reply to the Chinese. As the leader of the country, what would be Narendra Modi’s response to Chinese aggression?
Hardliners would want to believe that Narendra Modi would seek an eye for an eye, a life for a life. Moderates would want to believe that Narendra Modi would mobilize the world opinion in India’s favour to isolate China globally. All Indians would want to junk Chinese products in favour of Indian to teach China a lesson.
Narendra Modi’s surgical strike on Pakistan as a reply to Balakot has heightened the expectations. What will he do to China? How will he nurse back the Indian pride? How will he avenge the death of 20 Indian soldiers who would have been alive today but for the Chinese aggression?
No two problems are alike. So, how to go about predicting his reply? A leaders’ response in the past to overwhelming issues give an idea about his thought process. The issues to which a leader attaches importance to gives an idea of what his priorities are. Let’s try this approach to hazard a guess about what Narendra Modi’s response to Chinese aggression will be.
The past issues
- Demonetisation: A once-in-a-lifetime step to cleanse India of ills of black money. The Government officials and politicians spectacularly scuttled the move. Not a single person lost ill-gotten wealth. Not a single person was sent to jail. Rather, nobody even got notice. The leader’s response: Blink and retreat. He has seemingly forgotten to talk about black money altogether.
- GST: Seemingly, a cure for the multiple taxes and levies plaguing the Indian economy. A unifying, simplified, business-friendly tax regime with no scope for evasion. The Government officials and politicians made a royal mess out of what should be a smooth migration. The nation gets saddled with a complex and jarring tax structure full of loopholes, beyond the understanding and scope of small businesses. The leader’s response: Blink and retreat. He does not talk about it at all.
- Single-use Plastic: After claiming resounding success for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Narendra Modi trained his guns on single-use plastic. India is drowning in single-use plastic, the biggest scourge for our country’s well-being. There was wide-spread rumour-mongering before 2nd October 2019 about the impending ban. Though, there was a small niggle. Narendra Modi neither had a replacement for single-use plastic nor the execution bandwidth for enforcing the ban. The leader’s response: Blink and retreat. He does not bring up the topic anymore.
- Coronavirus: Narendra Modi addressed the nation four times in the short span of a month and a half. He took the lead in educating the citizens about the deadly virus and announcing the lockdown. Given India’s half-baked lockdown and perplexing strategy of easing restrictions as infections rise, the virus is in no hurry to leave India. The leader’s response: Blink and retreat. Does anyone remember when was the last time he spoke about the coronavirus?
The only priorities
- A fight that he can win: From his past, it becomes very clear that Narendra Modi engages only in a fight that he can win. He loses his interest in a situation when there is no clear winner, the issues require getting into the details and will take time or the worse, he will lose. The Chinese aggression does not suit his narrative of a Hero Leader.
- Us v/s Them: For all his strengths, Narendra Modi does not know to unify the country. His only strategy is to pit the majority section of the electorate against the other. A reply to Chinese aggression requires him to get all Indians together. This is not a prospect that he particularly relishes for his electoral benefits.
- Pakistan, not China: Everybody loves being a big brother. Pakistan is a broke nation. It can create nuisance here and there but has no momentum to continue its nonsense. China is a complete antithesis of Pakistan. Narendra Modi can whip up rhetoric against Pakistan in a moment. However, he knows well enough that China holds all the cards against India.
Narendra Modi’s response to Chinese aggression
His past shows him backing off at the first inkling of things not going as per script. His priorities show only focus on issues that can lead to electoral victory. With all this background, it is not rocket science to figure out Narendra Modi’s response to Chinese aggression.
Blink and retreat. Act as if nothing ever happened. 20 Indian soldiers lost lives for a leader who won’t stand up for them.