A naive question that sometimes rises in my mind is if let us say India were a nation where everyone is well-fed and every person has a happy life and everyone is well-educated then will India become completely resistant to all sorts of terror activities? Will such an India be a land which doesn't even become the breeding ground for terrorism? If everyone in this world has sufficient resources to survive then will that world be devoid of terrorism?
I deeply feel that the face of terror has changed a lot and the modern form of terrorism CAN NOT be checked by access to good life to everyone. Osama comes from a very rich family and his top men are well-educated professionals who are doctors, engineers etc.
We should realize that terrorists are no Robin Hoods who are fighting to acquire resources for some deprived people. They are basically thinkers who are motivated by some idealism beyond measure and are not coming from any economically deprived background.
Of course one is aware of how many poor families are exploited by these terror groups. They get threatened to pay either a large sum of money to these outfits or send some of their young men in the family to join the group. Obviously the poor people choose the later alternative. The poor section of the people are very vulnerable to exploitation and they eventually act as feeding centers of these groups.
But even then the question rises if there were no such poor people to exploit will terror groups get crippled?
Again I feel that the answer is NO. There are thousands of intellectuals across the world who are brain-running these organizations. They are well educated people with specific ideological motives. They are sharper diplomats than most governments have and are fine thinkers. They have propaganda running all around to motivate the young and educated to join their outfits and become vehicles in their way to attain those political and ideological goals. There is a huge section of these terror groups who are joining these outfits not out of any need or force but by sheer motivation of ideology.
A world where resources are available to everyone is not going to prevent the rise of this educated and motivated section of the terror groups.
One must realize that not every lay man can be converted into a terrorist. It is not easy to motivate a person to go on a kill and have him kill thousands. It takes a lot of awareness and understanding (or probably mis-understanding!) of the history and political complications that exist in this world to feel motivated for a reason and motivated enough to lay down one's life and kill thousands for it. It is a very different level of inspiration than what we can off-hand imagine. Many feel inspired by the words of some great orators like say Vivekananda or by the words of some public figure or politicians but these inspirations are far less than what is required to lay down one's life for it or kill thousands for it.
There is probably no one in India who is motivated by any politician or spiritual leader in India to the extent to which the terrorists are motivated by their intellectual gurus running these organizations from far away.
War against terrorism is not a fight against a few hundred men with sophisticated rifles but a fight against some ideologies which are far more stronger than anything else when it comes to motivate people.
To summarize we should realize the following character of the terrorists:
1. They are NOT a bunch of irrational people creating havoc. They are decisive thinkers with immense education behind them, who have a very specific interpretation of history and politics of this world. They are cool thinkers working with definite purpose and methods. They are people working with definite organization and discipline.
One can put it this way that if someday India concedes Kashmir to Pakistan then Masoor Azad and such men will be hailed as "freedom fighters" by many people and whose lives will be taught in history books in some parts of the world just as we teach about the lives of Bhagat Singh to Indian school children. Reciprocally British considered Bhagat Singh to be a terrorist and life of Bhagat Singh is not taught to British school children.
In our war against terrorism we should keep in mind that against whom we are fighting are glorified as "freedom fighters" among large sections of the people.
2. They are NOT people "without return address" (as US believed them to be some-time ago). They have specific shelters and refuge centers across the world. They have powerful patrons. Whenever they see themselves getting cornered by some government they have specific places to return to and hibernate, regroup and then again attack back when the time is ripe.
3. They are NOT people who are working out of deprivation. They are well-off people fighting for their ideological goals. One cannot hope to bargain with terrorists by offering in exchange money or other resources.
Terrorists have enough of anything that money can buy.
So any plan to counter terrorists have to keep the following in mind:
1. The immediate aim of the war has to be to try to eliminate the intellectual sources of terrorism with as much urgency as governments try to eliminate the financial and other material sources of terrorism.
With the thinkers and philosophers gone what shall be left of the terrorists is just clusters of men trained to shoot. Indian army can take care of them with ease. What the army will not be able to fight with ease are the thousands of strategists and political thinkers across the world who are motivating people across the world to fight for their ideals.
2. Talk to the vulnerable youth before the terrorist propaganda talks to them!
This I think is the most important thing to do now as an extension of the education system of India.
This shall have to be an extensive outreach form of the education system which goes knocking door to door across India and neighbouring countries to teach the youth about the ideas of nationhood and ways to practical realization of it. To teach them use their skills to directly solve the problems that their nation faces and do these BEFORE the sophisticated thinkers behind terror outfits go picking these youngsters and brainwashing them into their ideas of killing.
3. Try to eliminate poverty in specific places where terror groups are active. They are most vulnerable. If poverty elimination looks like a long plan then at least immediately hike up the security of these economically backward regions.
4. Have an extreme level of control of who and what enters through the borders of India. A definitive form of identification of every resident of India, like say a number that shall identify every Indian. And every person in India should be able to prove his identity of being an Indian by that number whenever and wherever demanded of. You might be sitting in the cafe with your girlfriend but if demanded suddenly in the cafe by some passing by army person, you should be able to prove that you are an Indian by that unique number. And if the person fails to do so she/he should be immediately taken into custody.
This may sound harsh but given the situation in India this is time for strict measures.
It shall be a very difficult thing to implement in a country of 1 billion where so many people are homeless and where there are million remote areas where no transport goes. But still I think this is an effort worth trying.\
Apart from the security aspect this numerical identification has the chance of unifying India through a common means rising beyond all other local identities.
We have too large and rough a boundary with Himalayas on one side and ocean on the other. Our borders are too porous and it is too difficult to control what goes on there. But we have to have very strict control of what goes in and goes out of it. Such high security at the borders will mean a sharp decline in the trade that occurs there but I suppose when national security is at stake it is a very small cost to pay.
The above control at the boundary and control over identification will definitely need to be supported by a strong drive across the nation to curb the population growth drastically. Today it is time we look at no child per family rule. 1 child per family also looks to be too costly given the devastatingly large burden of 1 billion.
Today standing in these times let us all Indians exchange all our personal freedoms and choices if the need comes for the sake of national security and to fight terrorism. It is not the time to be politically correct. It is not the time to preach ideas of a liberal world and democracy.