Matches and lighters have only recently come into vogue in rural India. Just 50 years ago, people used to light their own stoves with embers left over from the stoves of others. On one occasion, a woman went to her neighbours and asked if they had any fire. “On the mantle piece,” her neighbour replied. The woman’s neighbour was getting on in years and had become hard of hearing, so she could be excused for replying to a question that had not been put to her. Yet there are many whose faculties are in perfect order who do much the same thing.
Back in 1971, General J N Chaudhuri of the Indian Army delivered a lecture on national security. Stressing the importance of the role intelligence had to play, he said that in wartime it was essential to know what the enemy were going to do before they actually did it. Military commanders should be able to base their decisions on a sound knowledge of enemy strategy.
Any task requiring the coordinated efforts of several individuals can only be effectively carried out if each person involved plays his part properly.