"Surgical strikes" of Mr. ModiMr. Modi loves the metaphor of surgical strike - precise, effective, absolute. If surgeries are for flesh-and-bones bodies of living beings, the surgical strikes that Mr. Modi likes to unleash on are bodies of 'terrorism', 'corruption','poverty' etc.
In a physical body, a 'surgical strike' can be contained. The target and the weapon is definite and known. The cause-effect are immediately visible. The metaphor loses its meaning when you try to use it on conceptually elastic exchanges such as terrorism and corruption. What I mean by conceptually elastic is - terrorism or corruption are fairly fluid in their meaning and depends on who is defining whom as being a terrorist or corrupt. 'Corruption' or 'Terrorism' is not a thing or a person that we can see, smell, touch. It exists between people as an exchange.
Take for example the concept of "Terrorism"State sponsored terrorism is called nation building and poor Adivasis in Chattisgarh spend years behind jail, get raped, their lands get snatched away from them for merely being inconvenient to the interests of the powerful. And who is labeled as terrorist here? Adivasis, mining companies or state sponsored militias/ military?
Even if you understand it in terms of geography - Kashmir as a geographically definite and contained area in need of disinfection from 'terrorism'. Is it then 'physically' possible to actually contain it on all sides and do a 'surgical strike'? Are terrorists physically different from non-terrorists? Even if you contain, how do you know, whom to target?
What happens in reality is that a neighbor gives a false lead to usurp neighbor's property. Or a corrupt government rounds up inconvenient journalists and activists as 'terrorists'. Terrorist then becomes a convenient 'badge' to label enemies with.
All that manifests is power and human interests. "Terrorism" in the meanwhile gets much needed oxygen of public anger and distrust towards state sponsored terrorism.
A bullet can never solve a human interest problem. There is no 'final solution'.
CorruptionCorruption is even more difficult to solve - not just with surgical strike but in any which way. What is corruption really? Does it reside in bank notes or gold or uniforms? Is it something definite? If we get rid of certain notes, or certain people, would corruption get 'solved'? And that's the problem with the imagination of Mr. Modi. Corruption is not inherent in things or people. So you can't get rid of it by disposing of notes or killing a few people. Well thank god India has not(?) seen extra judicial killings like Latin America has or what Philippines is witnessing now. This imagination is not new though - McCarthy, Duterte, Hitler... all subscribed to the idea that getting rid of a people would solve problems. It doesn't.
Corruption is a byproduct of power systems. It is the way in which the people access services, people influence each other or people accumulate wealth and social prestige. In a sense, it is a way of life as a function of the nature of power structure in that society. In a society where power differentials are large, where the distance between the haves and have-nots is large, corruption becomes a necessity.
In the current system, when a kid without birth certificate wants an admission, he needs corruption so that he can access education. Farmers needs corruption to accept subsidies. Government servants need corruption to remain in favour of their superiors. Politicians need corruption to enrich his supporters in exchange for keeping him in power. Industrialists need corruption to protect their interests.
I am not making a moral judgement here. I am pointing out the truth of the current system. With so many artificial gates, there will be gatekeepers. gatekeepers in turn, will extract a price in the form of corruption, to maintain legitimacy and perpetuate the beneficial (to them) system.
Narrower the base of people who hold power, more is the corruption. (look at dictatorships)
The broader the base of people in power, less will be the corruption. (look at Scandinavia)
To remove corruption, there must not be gates and no gatekeepers. Which is not possible in its entirety. What is possible is to reduce these gates to an absolute minimum. Reduce the power differential. Do away with representative democracy - one man for a million: that is a dangerous power differential, prone to corruption. We need as many people to be directly empowered to take decisions as possible. That will be true democracy - Direct democracy. For that to be feasible, there needs to be decentralisation too. People should decide about roads and water and resources in their own towns, not about identities. Hence, incentivise for that eventuality.
A fool's daydreams / A rhetorical masterstrokeAs a strategy, surgical strike is a fool's daydreaming. As a rhetoric to win and sustain power, it is a 'masterstroke'. A desperately poor people with no recourse (physically, spiritually, economically), must believe in this 'masterstroke' and the many that might come their way. They must believe because that is the only way they can find peace, find some hope. "Others do nothing. Atleast he is doing something. Something will stick?!" It is a matter of the innermost urgency for a desperate people. They need that faith to go on with their lives. It is their soma, their quarter. This dream is their means of survival.
Terrorism, corruption, poverty = Power's byproductsTerrorism, corruption, poverty are the byproducts of power struggles. Power struggles will remain as long as humanity exists. To truly address these issues, we must work towards an equitable distribution of power and wealth. Even then, these things would exist - but if the payoff of corruption is less than payoff for actual work/ exchange, why would anyone attempt corruption? Because we create artificial barriers, people seek shortcuts. Because we create artificial insecurities and inequalities, people become 'corrupt'. Because we do not heed the reality of injustices and respect identities, people become 'terrorists'.
The only 'surgical strike' that can work to cure them was attempted in one form by Mahatma Phule a century ago with his Bhudan movement - an attack on power structure, redistribution of wealth. Even then, it was not a complete solution. A complete solution is not possible. We must accept that limitation. We must decentralise and wrest control (power) in our own hands. Empowered people = world with less corruption.