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We are in the third world war right now: Capt Raghu Raman

Mumbai: Capt. Raghu Raman, who served the Indian Army for 11 years from 1987 to 1998, now works with Reliance Industries as Group President, Risk, Security and New Ventures. In the years between these, he worked for the corporate sector for another 11 years before creating and heading the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India.

Capt. Raghu Raman

Paris terror attacks

Capt. Raman, who is slated to speak at the TedXGateway in Mumbai on December 5, stresses on the need for a doctrinal change in the way we look at terrorism and react to it. “Earlier, the format was to prevent enemy nation’s soldiers from entering the country. Now, these enemies are no more restricted by borders, they are everywhere – cities and civilian areas,” he says.

The terrorists, he adds, will always major advantages over us. “Firstly, they always attack untrained civilians who can’t fight back. The damage potential is thus multiplied. Two, there will always be an element of surprise. Our security forces will guard a certain spot based on past experience, but the attackers will target some place else. The third, most important, advantage for them is that they never have to plan for extrication of their troops. The State, on the other hand, will always have to plan for extrication, no matter how risky,” he explains. “We need to understand their work pattern”, he says, elaborating, “There is a classical warfare formula wherein the attacker to defender ratio is 1:3. But it is different with terrorists. When 10 terrorists attack, around 140-150 lives are lost. When four to five attack, the number of people killed is around 40-50. So the ratio is around 1:10.”

Tackling terrorism

When asked about how terrorism can be prevented, he says his opinion is radical but sticks to it nevertheless. “You don’t prevent anymore because you only end up losing money. We are simply following the Americans. More cameras, more scanners, more money spent. At the end of the day, no hotel or organisation can guarantee security because the ways of the attackers are very different from security measures,” he said.

The investment for a bright future is at present going into security, the ex-fauji believes. “If a digitally-evolved and technically-advanced country like France couldn’t avoid it, then not much can be done to avoid attacks. That is why I stress on doctrinal change. It is bound to be a slow change, but it can be done. The motive to terrorise is achieved when we spend billions of hard-earned money on security. We should instead spend that money on educating the poor and laying the foundation for a better tomorrow,” Capt Raman said.

“More people died after 9/11 in road accidents in the USA that year than the number of people killed in the attack itself. People were afraid of flying post the attack and took to road travel, leading to traffic congestion and road accidents,” he says.

Talking about how change can be affected, he says, “When I talk about doctrinal changes, it means we change our leaders too. I am not talking about political parties. Change the age group of our leaders. Why are old people still telling us what to do? They are bound to have an older doctrine which does not apply today. We need younger leaders who will ultimately bring about the larger change.”

Life in the Indian Army

“We go from exchanging mugs to exchanging blood,” he begins speaking of life in the Army. Life in the forces is a different game altogether, he says, elaborating, “When I first joined the Indian Military Academy (IMA), we were all given a mug each. The same mug would be used for absolutely everything – from drinking water, tea and much more. This mug would eventually also get exchanged among cadets. And you can’t complain. That is how you learn. Tomorrow, you could be exchanging blood with these very people.”

Asked about the communal tension in the country, Capt Raman says, “In the Indian Armed Forces, nobody has ever fought over religion. For us, a unit is one family, irrespective of religion and background of the officers. But when soldiers come home on leave, they see a different picture outside. That is where the challenge begins,” he says.

The next generation needs to start questioning, he believes. Today, everyone thinks that the Islamic State (IS) is the gravest enemy. “No doubt, it is a big challenge but given a choice between being a Prisoner of War (PoW) in Pakistan and my throat being slashed by an IS terrorist, I would prefer the latter. It is just that we can see the IS activities on the internet and that is why we perceive it as a larger threat,” he explains.

Siachen – the highest battlefield

Capt Raman terms his stint in Siachen as an amazing experience. “A soldier posted here has to fight on three fronts– enemy, weather and with the self. Officers as young as 22-year-olds are guarding the borders by themselves. If this is the case, then why do we have 80-year-olds taking the decisions in the government, affecting two billion people?”

AFSPA and the way ahead

“It is a difficult problem to resolve,” says Capt Raman. There are too many stakeholders involved, he informs. “We are heading towards a conflict economy. People funding the security will never want the conflict to end,” he says.

“Every nation’s leader has called for a war against terrorism today. Are we still waiting for the third world war? I believe we are in the third world war right now. Only the format of war has changed,” he signs off.

(Capt Raghu Raman will be speaking at the TEDxGateway, Mumbai, on December 5, 2015, at NCPA)

This article was first published on iamin.in. For more such hyperlocal stories, visit their website.

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