Monday marks the 64-year anniversary of Indian activist Mohandas Gandhi's assassination. The ideological leader helped free India from British control through his iconic non-violent protest and civil disobedience methods. He also led nationwide campaigns for increasing civil rights, reducing poverty, and ending religious animosities in the country.
However, the short peace that India enjoyed soon ended with his death. Since then, the country has faced violent political unrest by extremist groups. From 1970 to 2008, over 4,100 terrorist attacks have been reported, many of which were public bombings or assassinations.
Partly to stem such attacks, India last week sought a strategic partnership with regional neighbor Thailand. This dual alliance with a state like Thailand will play an integral role in stopping the root of terrorism, but it will not suffice. The country must extend their partnership to other countries and build upon its police power. It's important to note that India should not be on the offensive, but always on the defensive. Action is necessary, but violence should only be used if the situation absolutely demands it. In that sense, Gandhi's peaceful methods can be observed and practiced as a model for containing the threat of terrorism.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Thai counterpart, Yingluck Shinawatr signed six pact agreements in areas ranging from military cooperation, prisoner exchanges, and defense. They both agreed to set up a working group on security to tackle transnational crime, domestic terrorism, and drug trafficking.
Their efforts should not stop there though. If conflict is to end, the nation must call upon their neighbors, from both the East and West, to aid immediately. International support must come from as many different sources as possible. If India was to gain the support of more developed countries, then terrorists would feel more discouraged to act out.
This plan will reduce the criminal activity that exists outside of India's borders, but will not dramatically control the threat of terrorism that exists within the country's walls. And therein lies the central flaw of this partnership. It has some merit, but India should also strengthen its own military defense. A strong anti-terrorist police organization is a necessary contingency plan to have.
However, violence is not the answer. Gandhi was right when he said that India needed to be tough, not reactionary. The government cannot simply sit by while this recurring issue plagues the land, but at the same time, scouring the land for could-be terrorists would only cause panic and distress amongst citizens. As a rule of thumb, the country should show restraint. Violence should be used as a last resort. With assistance from other countries and a stronger domestic police force, India will be able to restore to its former state of peace and prosperity under Gandhi.
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