I’m writing from Leh, the largest city in the Ladakh region of the Indian Himalaya. Today is the occasion of a Presidential visit and public gathering to celebrate the (heavily debated) 2550th anniversary of the birth of Siddhartha Gautama –
Ladakh is among the most Buddhist regions of
This piece is intended to discuss the military presence that this visit has led to. Leh is the largest secure city near to two major border disputes. To the north there is the border with
Take into account the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and the fact that Dr Abdul Kalam is most famous for his role as a scientist in developing the Indian Military's missile and nuclear weapons programs, and it is pretty understandable that the government would pull out the stops for this visit.
I have seen civil wars that resulted in fewer troops on the ground than this - the 8th of July in
I suppose this is all understandable from the Indian Government perspective – it is only when you come here that you realize how large a role the military plays in Indian society. As is always the case with social/military interactions, these displays are fascinating to watch - here we see a mixture of Russian equipment and armaments, mixed with a hangover of British Raj style uniforms and rituals. It is not unusual to see troops in this country square marching, gun in hand, lifting their knees up to waist height. Today will in all likelihood go off without hitch – If I were Pakistani militants or the Chinese military this would certainly scare the hell out of me, but it is worth remembering that the emerging state everyone is hoping will counterbalance
Little Man What Now wishes to celebrate the life of history’s most eminent pacifist thinker, and honours the Indian government for taking his birthday seriously.