Of whatsapp groups and warfare!

If you are a current events enthusiast like me, you’ve had a busy week. Unless you were under a rock or deliberately locked yourself out, you would’ve heard a lot of jargon bandied around. Now that Abhinandan is back(almost) it may be a good time to see how this played out in the age of instant news and social media. Firstly, salute to our Armed Forces because of whom we are able to sit in the comfort of our homes and type away incessantly. The last time the country saw this scale of war like situation was during the Kargil war. But that was 20 years ago where mobile phones were a novelty and you paid Rs.16 to make a call and a little less than that to receive a call ! So what was it like to watch something as serious as a counter-terrorism attack play out like a reality tv show within the whatsapp eco system?

First, I learnt a hell a lot of jargon. Sub-conventional warfare, imposing disproportionate costs, low cost intervention, escalation matrix, de-escalation, Military Jehadi Complex (MJC) and on and on. Once you get used to the jargon, you get used to the arguments. On the day India made the “non-military, pre-emptive”attack , the chest thumping was the highest where we were told that India has shown that it can attack deep inside Pakistan. This was the first time since 1971 since the Indian forces had used the air route into Pakistan.“We have to squeeze them dry economically” was the refrain on one thread. The ways of the war are strange- today’s victors are tomorrow’s vanquished. As news of Pakistan’s attack flowed in, a sombre mood engulfed one group where people who were lying low the previous day or were shouted down for critiquing the approach the previous day found their voices.“ There is a reason why it is not done. If it was so simple, we would’ve done it multiple times”screamed this camp.People who were gushing about the govt had to eat crow since the whole govt machinery went missing.. maun vrat of sorts !! Everyone were spouting lines from their echo-chambers at some point. Some more joys of social media..

Second, I got familiar with fighter jet terminology. MiG-19,F-16s, AARAM missile, electronic signature ! I don’t have a clue about them but nice to know the names at least ;-) . If all of this is spoken about can Geography be behind. When I hear Pulwama, Rajouri, Poonch, Balakot, Budhaum,Naushera I can at least nod with some confidence ..

Third, it was only a matter of time that the conversation moved to Diplomacy, Politics and Statesmanship. Who came out the better Statesman- Imran Khan or Modi ? The jury is out on that. I would give points to Imran for a mature statement although both of them are light years away from being Statesmen in the true sense of the word. People who till yesterday dissed international norms and were ready to tie people to jeeps were now talking of terms of the Geneva Convention! Irony just climbed the K2 and fell off! Was Modi right in making the “Pilot project” statement ? Was the bau approach of the govt and the party politicians right while asking from restraint from others? We can decide based on our leanings..

Fake news, messages exhorting for violence against another community was par for the course. I called it out in a couple of groups and earned the hate maybe but I took it upon myself to do my duties. With power comes responsibility. Whatsapp puts a lot of power in our hands. We have to exercise it carefully.

Lastly all of this was peppered with esoteric conversations of dharma, futility of war, national interest, Kautilya neeti etc where all our cognitive biases were having a field day. I recognised some of mine definitely.

What were the top 2 takeaways from me:

  1. Get over the fomo
  2. Put the screen time monitor back on the phone!

I hope I have given a ready reckoner of jargon at least to help you in a social conversation on the topic although my first advice would be to avoid the topic if you don’t want to ruin your evening! ;-) Do you have any terms for me to learn? Let me know in the comments below.

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