Case Study 25

Mr Tripathi is the Principal Secretary (PS) to the Prime Minister of India. The hostilities between India and Pakistan are increasing and a recent terror attack in Jammu & Kashmir has further fuelled the enmity. India has clear evidence that these terrorists are getting support from Pakistan Government. Indian government wants to take strict action this time, not only on the military front but also on the economic front.

In this regard, a proposal is there from one of the ministers that the vegetable export from India to Pakistan shall be stopped. Pakistan is heavily dependent on India and any stoppage of trade will lead to skyrocketing prices in Pakistan. However, this is also true that there is surplus growth of vegetables in India and backup will crash prices in India. The Prime Minister has asked Mr Tripathi for his opinion. Analyse the situation and explain what advice Mr Tripathi shall give to the Prime Minister.


The war against terror is a complex issue and the challenge always is of targeted action. The case presents the following essential issues to deal with –

  1. State-sponsored terrorism from Pakistan.
  2. Strict action is required to create deterrence.
  3. National integrity and safety of citizens.
  4. The welfare of our own vegetable farmers.
  5. Empathy for the poor in Pakistan as skyrocketing prices can happen there.
  6. Value of prudence in Mr. Tripathi, while giving advice to the prime minister.

If Mr Tripathi advises the PM to take up the proposal of stopping the export of vegetables to Pakistan–

  • It could be a realistic idea. Kautilya has given the principle of ‘Saam Daam Dand Bhed’ (dialogue, incentive, punishment and war). All steps to persuade Pakistan to stop support to terrorism have failed. In this regard, both military and economic action gets justified.
  • If terrorism does not stop, then in the national interest, India might have to go to a full-fledged war. That will cause more harm to people on both sides.
  • Short-term losses to Indian farmers can be checked through a price support mechanism.

If Mr Tripathi advises otherwise –

  • Farmers, already facing rural distress, will not further face emotional and financial shock.
  • Economic activities can be kept free of war against terrorism.
  • The growth of the nation will not be affected.
  • Price-rise in Pakistan will not be in the Indian interest. Terrorists can use unstable social conditions for recruitment and executing their plans.
  • India’s fight is against the terrorists and the military establishment of Pakistan which supports such activities. The general population of Pakistan like citizens of any other country are peace-loving. Stopping vegetable exports will create a further negative attitude toward India in Pakistan’s citizenry.    

So, Mr Tripathi should not advise stopping vegetable export. However other serious actions must be taken to stop of the terrorist attack on India –

  1. Use of International Mechanisms –
  2. Banning of terrorist organisations and leaders through UNSC resolutions.
  3. Blacklisting of Pakistan in the list prepared by the Financial Action Task Force.
  4. Naming and shaming Pakistan for support of terrorism at international and regional forums.
  5. Calibrated and informed military actions like surgical strikes and hot pursuit.
  6. Strengthening border management.
  7. Fast-track courts for terrorism-related cases.

Life lost due to terrorism is much less compared to a farmer’s suicide. The fight against terrorism should not cost us the welfare of our farmers and rural region. Mr Tripathi must show prudence and use emotional intelligence to not get swayed by increased enmity with Pakistan due to a recent terror attack. 

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