INDIA’S SECURITY CHALLENGES of 21ST CENTURYDate posted: December 29, 2010 | Short URL: https://samvada.org/?p=2078 | Share:
National security is a comprehensive concept embracing social, political, economic, diplomatic and military matters. Unfortunately, in our country, the general perception of national security is – meeting external military threats and tackling internal insurgencies/militancy. In the absence of an institutional approach to National Security, such perception represents a myopic view.
Every nation has multifaceted, multidimensional and interdisciplinary features such as – political system, human resource development, economy, industry and technology, energy, power, infrastructure, environment, social, cultural, ethnic and linguistic issues, maritime, oceanic and water resources, media and public opinion and perception management, defense forces and military might and international relations.
As a result, comprehensive security concern permeates all aspects of national life which either strengthen or weaken the national security. These include diverse elements such as food security, economic security, energy security, water and land security, environmental security, protection of human rights, caring for minorities (all communities included) and so on. However, foremost among these is the governance of the country, which has a close bearing on a number of the above, among other elements and can greatly undermine or strengthen the national security of a nation.
INTRODUCTION: Security at national and individual levels has different meanings to different people. However, while holistically viewing the comprehensive and complex nature of national security, any event/activity/happening which threatens any one or more of the above features of a nation- it affects national security and the well being of its people.
Every nation identifies the”core values” based on its history, culture, religion(s), traditions and customs which have contributed to its “safety, honor and welfare of its people and multidimensional development which is progressive and keeps pace with changing times.” National interests emerge out of such core values which are protected by the nation, employing all its might and resources and when necessary even by waging war or resort to force against those who threaten national interests. To protect nation’s core values and national interests, nations evolve institutional mechanisms which are kept dynamic, responsive and upgraded to effectively handle any eventualities any time.
The Preamble to our constitution specifically refers to – The unity of India is vital for the survival of freedom in our country. Our greatest achievement has been that we, as a nation, have survived unfractured for more than 63 years.
A billion plus Indians- more than the combined population of Africa and South America, live together as one political entity under the conditions of freedom. Never before in history and nowhere in the world today has one-sixth of human race existed as a single free nation.
We are proud of a dazzling diversity in unity and present such a mosaic of humanity where in –
● All the well known religions of the world flourish in India
● We have twenty one major languages written in different alphabets and derived from different roots
● Our people express themselves in more than 1,500 languages and their dialects.
Our 5,000 years old rich civilization provides superb entrepreneurial spirit, unlimited reservoir of skilled labor, innate trader’s instinct and many splendored intelligence.
India is the only country in the world where the states are governed by different political parties (including communist party) with different ideologies – some even propagating sedition from the Indian Union.
Where the constitution of India and our leaders of the freedom struggle era gave us a flying start in the fifties, unfortunately over the next five decades we dissipated every advantage we started with and squandered away invaluable legacy, many a traditions, culture and core values of the oldest surviving civilization. A brutally frank and an honest introspection of the events/developments of the preceding six decades reveal the following inadequacies and shortcomings in the evolution of progressive, prosperous and powerful India, which is faced with multidimensional security challenges from within and our neighborhood.
National security and Core Values
Even though our constitution enshrines the Indian core values evolved over five luminous millennia, the political parties, with exception of none, have failed to practice and protect these core values from which emerge the national interests. It is a tragedy for India, that even after six decades the political parties have not been able to adopt an integrated approach to identify and protect the national interests. There is hardly any debate or discussions on these fundamental issues either in Parliament or State Assemblies or on public platforms. Consequently, we have degenerated into a ‘soft state’ which is reluctant to face multidimensional security challenges head on.
Institutional Mechanisms – Strategic Perceptions & Security Doctrines
India does not have a tradition of institutionalized planning of strategic policy towards protection of core values, national interests and prevailing and emerging multidimensional threats to national security. Traditionally India has always made a distinction between Home, Foreign and Defense policies and has also sought to keep science and technology in a water-tight compartment. All these managed by the know-all bureaucrats whose competence and professional approach have come under the clouds many a times.
Since 2001 and more particularly after 26/11 attack on Mumbai, these barriers are slowly collapsing. Though NSAs (National Security Advisors) have been functioning since nineties, how objective, pragmatic and professional have been their strategic perceptions on national, regional and global events and how much our political masters and bureaucrats have heeded to their advice/recommendations is a debatable point. How closely and intimately NSA interacts with three Service-Chiefs, while assessing both national and international security environment and evolving matching security doctrines and responses from time to time, deserves a close scrutiny by the political leadership and powers that be. Some glaring shortcomings are reflected in our handling of hijacking of IA plane to Kandhar, our response to attack on Parliament in 2001, more recently our reaction to the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, our response in Sharm-el-Sheikh meetings, uncoordinated approach (including deep division among political parties) to face Naxal and Maoists challenges to the Indian Constitution, our ability to integrate Jammu and Ladakh with Kashmir valley and the entire J&K State into Indian Union. Even after 63 years, the Chief Minister of J&K is splitting hairs between accession and integration: These examples highlight ground reality.
FAILURE OF BODY POLITIC AND POOR GOVERNANCE
Evil nexus amongst politicians, bureaucrats and criminals has adversely affected the governance at various levels. Consequently most of the institutions responsible for safeguarding ‘Democratic functioning and responsive governance’ have become ineffective and in some cases defunct. Look at the following examples highlight the system failures:
● Despite pressure from Supreme Court, political parties are dragging their feet on administrative and police reforms. An honest or professional bureaucrat or a police officer is shunted from pillar to post by unscrupulous political masters.
● Despite repeated appeals from the Election Commission, political parties are reluctant to weed out criminals from their parties. Parliament and State Assemblies do not even wish to discuss criminalization of politics, resulting in finest men/women of caliber, knowledge, character and vision, there is no shortage of such visionaries, do not wish to be in politics according to eminent jurist, Late Nani Palkiwala. Caste is the football in the political game, which our men in public life play day in and day out. We have numerous political leaders but very few ‘statesmen’ capable of evolving national strategy to face prevailing and emerging challenges to national interests and the security of Bharat.
SECURITY CHALLENGES – INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL
After spectacular achievements in some areas and monumental shortcomings in the other areas, India continues to develop as a rising economic cum industrial power. However, there are many challenges which are impacting our growth and progress towards emerging as a Major Power and shouldering our rightful role in shaping peaceful international order. This paper attempts to focus on five major challenges – three internal and two external – which need to be addressed in an integrated manner by the people of India.
NAXAL/MAOIST CHALLENGE TO THE INDIAN STATE
Poor governance, rising unemployment, neglect of land reforms, grinding poverty, raw deal for tribes, uneven development and exploitation by politicians and unscrupulous elements have led to the rise of Naxalism in India. Unfortunately, these factors exist even today and are getting aggravated with each passing day. Some of the major issues in addressing naxalism are:
● Many political leaders (including a cabinet minister) have direct nexus with Naxals. In a coalition government, the centre is unable to check control recalcitrant allies because of compulsions of remaining in power at all costs.
● State police and even CRPF are neither equipped nor trained to combat well trained Naxal cadres armed with highly sophisticated weapons. In this uneven battlefield the former have become cannon fodder.
● Unless the root causes, that is – socio-economic, education, employment and land problems (roti, kapada aur makan) are addressed in a responsive manner and decades old exploitation of tribals/rural populace is eliminated, mere police action will not solve Naxalism and will also further aggravate the existing alienation of the effected people.
● Present Home Minister (P. Chidambaram) has recognized the gravity of the problem and has initiated several pragmatic measures to combat naxalism from both angles – law and order and meaningful socio-economic development. Unfortunately, in coalition politics, he is constrained by his own party and allies alike, in spite the Prime Minister having given a blank cheque to his Home Minister.
● Political establishment must continue to refrain from using Armed forces to combat naxalism. It would be a tragic day for India, if political masters to cover up their sins use our Armed forces to fight our own civilian population.
NEED OF THE HOUR TOWARD NAXAL MENACE
● Ever since P. Chidambaram has taken over the Home Ministry, there is a seen change in the form of managing internal security situations and approach towards naxal menace.
● Good governance from village upwards focusing on reforms, economic, infrastructure, development, education and gainful employment.
● Ensure NREGA funds reach the people and not looted by political and bureaucratic nexus.
● Implement administrative and police reforms (pending since 1975) and compel the state governments to upgrade the capabilities of bureaucracy and police towards responsive governance.
● Maintain dual track approach –
○ Meaningful all round socio-economic development.
○ Elimination and transformation of Naxal cadre.
KASHMIR – SELF INFLICTED FESTERING WOUND
Kashmir is arguably one of the most contentious and complex issues in South Asia today. It has persisted for more than six decades despite four major but limited wars between India and Pakistan and two decades old Pakistan sponsored militancy in J&K state. Many meetings at official, ministerial, heads of governments and multi pronged approaches for reconciliation have not succeeded.
The problem shall remain intractable as ever so long as the three factors which have been the root causes of this festering wound remain. They are:
● Monumental mistakes of 1947-50 – lack of strategic vision and far sightedness resulted in
○ Approaching UN Security Council in 1948 with the complaint against Pakistan’s invasions of J&K
○ Thereby preventing Indian Armed Forces from driving the invaders from Gilgit and Baltistan hilly areas into Pakistan
○ Ignoring the advice of Rajaji and Sardar Patel on resettlement of part of displaced persons from Pakistan in J&K. It would have facilitated stabilization and all round development of J&K State.
○ Special States through Article 370
● Consequently India has failed to integrate Kashmir valley with Ladakh and Jammu and J&K State with the rest of India. Towards this end, our political parties, bureaucracy and public of J&K and rest of India cannot escape from their failure. They are answerable to the present and future generations of India.
● So long as Pakistan’s military dominates Pakistan’s polity and power structure and poisoning by Madrassas continue to fuel anti-Indian sentiments among Kashmiri youth, Pakistan will not reconcile to resolving the Kashmir issue on “as it is and what it is” basis, because external factors such as the nexus of China and Pakistan will not permit resolution of the Kashmir issue.
Poor governance, unparalleled corruption, spread of fanatics through Madarassas and subverted electoral practices deprived the younger generations of eighties from political power. Unemployed and frustrated youth was driven into the arms of ISI and Pakistan based terrorist groups in 1989-89. Thus, seeds of separatism through violent armed militancy were sown in 1989 amongst the misguided Kashmir youth. India has paid a heavy price for over two decades to tame this militancy.
There have been demands for greater autonomy and withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the state government led by Abdulla family (National Congress). Both these demands have dangerous implications for unity and integrity of India. If J&K State is granted “autonomy”, within a decade the states of Tamil-Nadu, Assam and North East will also feel free to make similar demands. The regional political parties will make it an electoral issue for demanding autonomy. Are we preparing to oblige China and Pakistan’s grand design of Balkanizing India by succumbing to pressures of autonomy to our states? Does electoral greed and vote bank politics make us blind to the writing on the wall with autonomous states?
Need of the hour towards J&K state is proactive measures and out of the box solutions including radical educational reforms and ensuring socio-economic and industrial development of the state to achieve total integration with the rest of India in all spheres.
POPULATION EXPLOSION FROM WITHIN AND DEMOGRAPHIC INVASION FROM OUTSIDE
Any discussion on national security is incomplete without considering the concept of quality of population. The Indian mind is one of the best assets of mankind universally recognized. In spite of missing Industrial Revolution, our achievements in the field of information-technology are an emphatic proof of our intellectual potential.
Within the galloping population with social inequalities, illiteracy, unemployment, corruption and poor governance have adversely affected the intrinsic quality of our population and its vulnerabilities. Instead of transforming population control as people’s programme through enlightening and imaginative human approach, it has been left to the bureaucrats and few NGOs. It is a national tragedy that our political class which rules the country has remained culpably aloof in the implementation of programmes at grass root levels primarily because of their fear of losing their vote banks.
The continuing influx of the Bangladeshis has crossed over 21 Million as of 2006 evaluation. They have altered the electoral prospects in Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Bihar and even Delhi to an alarming extent.
Apart from disturbing demographic balance in major urban centers and along the border areas of states surrounding Bangladesh, it has aggravated the socio-economic problems everywhere. It has become the root cause of disturbed security environment in Assam and West Bengal. Many political parties are cultivating these infiltrators as their vote bank by getting them ration cards and employing them as cheap labor.
In spite of several comprehensive reports from the successive Governors of Assam from 1990 onwards and directors of IB from time to time the Central and State governments have been totally unresponsive and blind to the writing on the wall – warning of another partition of Eastern parts India in the second half of the 21st Century. God help India!!!
E X T E R N A L C H A L L E N G E S
P A K I S T A N
Pakistan is at war with itself, embroiled in myriad problems like – political degradation, economic collapse, epicenter of Jihadi terrorism, rouge nuclear state,crumbling state edifice, declining clout of military in meeting internal and external challenges – inability and unwillingness of Pakistan’s Military and ISI in firmly dealing with Islamic Jihadi groups operating inside Pakistan, Pakistan Taliban group and Afghan Taliban, ethnic troubles with sizable violence prone in dependent tribes with loads of drug money and sophisticated weapons, which imperil Pakistan’s existence. Four major wars and two decades old Pak sponsored terrorism in J&K, have not yet convinced Pakistan Military and Polity about the need for peaceful coexistence with India. Pakistan has made extensive use of religious zealots to achieve its strategic and military goals against India and Afghanistan under ISI institutionalized control. Given the state of present strategic security environment in South Asia and Afghanistan and deepening Chinese involvement in Pakistan and South Asia, Pakistan is unlikely to give up its Anti India centric activities.
Road Map for dealing with Pakistan
·We must work on a multi layered strategy to deal with Pakistan’s military, ISI, civil government and people in multiple ways.
·Persue a policy of selective engagement on terrorism while keeping composite dialogue in cold storage.
·Covert and overt actions to exploit fault lines within Pakistan.
·Pakistan will have to pay a heavy price for its terrorist acts in diplomatic, economic and other fields.
·Develop capability to strike offensively against elements/basis which is perpetrating terrorism.
·We should not go over drive to ensure stability of Pakistan. If it disintegrates due to its contradictions and ethnic conflicts, let it be so. We should cater for effects of spill over.
Pakistan has serious problems with Afghanistan and Iran. Its time for our Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to shed its stereotype defensive and reactive approach and opt for out of box solutions imaginatively to strengthen our base in Afghanistan and consolidate bilateral relations with Iran. Remember Chanakya, “Our adversary’s neighbor’s neighbor is our ally and should be cultivated so & Practice this as real diplomatic!”
CHINA – A CHALLENGE OR A POTENTIAL THREAT?
India & China have complex bilateral relations because of history, geography & potential of both to influence events in the 21st century. Ever since humiliating us in the 1962 war, China has been periodically blowing hot & cold to keep us continuously off balance. While China has resolved border disputes/issues with almost all its neighbors except India, its strategic approach has been – resolve the dispute from a position of strength with weaker or smaller nations, e.g., even though border talks with USSR started in late seventies, the disputes were resolved only when the latter disintegrated in 1990 – 91 giving rise to weak successor states. So far, as our border problems and agreement on LAC (Line of Actual Control) are concerned, we must demonstrate the same patience as of China without giving up our claims and determination to hold on to where we are.
After completion of Ghormo – Lhasa rail link in 2006 and concurrent improvement in the infra structure – communication arteries, air bases, logistic dumps, it has augmented the administrative and military capabilities across the Tibetan plateau. The above developments downloaded from Google maps reveal glaring disparity on our side. Now that China has firm control over Tibetan autonomous people, its capacity to swiftly crush all dissent and the capability to project sizable military forces opposite Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh has enhanced. China’s aggressive & arrogant actions and offensive statements over the last couple of years have increased. Thereby, reminding us of the period – 1961/62. For example, denial of visa to one of our senior most serving Army officer who was on an official visit to China; referring to Jammu & Kashmir as disputed area; issuing visa on a separate piece of paper to citizens of Jammu & Kashmir; virtually objecting to our PM visiting Arunachal Pradesh and Chinese media publishing articles – calling for the disintegration of India into 29 – 30 states and that India is a major threat to China in this century – are all well orchestrated aggressive moves to test our response and counter measures.
Apart from Tibet, closer home, the collusion with Pakistan to confront us on as many fronts as possible is so evident, with the Chinese forces being located in POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) and their infrastructure teams working overtime in POK. It would be prudent to assume, as Pakistan’s internal problems multiply because of escalating violence and Jihadi/Taliban attacks, Chinese aggressive actions/provocations along with our Northwestern Northern borders may correspondingly increase.
A grim situation of a swift limited war is very much on the cards in South Asia; as all efforts of Pakistan to internationalize the Kashmir issue have been stone walled by USA, it is quite possible for Pakistan to operate in tandem with china and escalate cross border violence in J&K along with Chinese provocation in Aksai Chin area & Arunachal Pradesh. Here the strategic objective of China & Pakistan being – swift military/jihadi actions in the valley to compel UN Security Council intervention.
In this context, two statements, one from Indian Army Chief – Gen V K Singh – and the other from US Ambassador to India – Timothy J Roemer – both appearing on 15 Oct 2010 are note worthy.
Our Army Chief urged for up grading our military capabilities and redefining war doctrine to fight simultaneously on two fronts – against Pakistan & China. He described Pakistan & china as two major irritants (in diplomatic parlance it is adversaries in reality). On the same day, the US Ambassador publicly stated in Jodhpur, “China is a major destabilizing force in the Asian continent and the growing Sino Pak proximity was understandingly a matter of concern for India. China has not only caused disturbances on the Indian borders but its strategic relations with Pakistan are a matter of concern for India and the US is keeping close watch on it.”
On the maritime front, Chinese expansions of its Blue Water Navy with submarines and combat ships is causing alarm globally. Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Australia and even USA are wary on account of Chinese activities in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Srilanka and Nepal.
In the preceding four decades, China has systematically and strategically encircled us from North West (Pakistan), North (Tibet), East (Bangladesh and Myanmar) and now from South by having closer links with Srilanka. Chinese Navy operating in Indian Ocean is only a matter of few more years. Besides in conventional military capability and nuclear weapons forces, it is infinitely superior to ours. Our predicament is evident and cannot be wished away. It would be an eye opener and timely warning to return to a letter written by Sardar Patel in Nov 1950 to Jawaharlal Nehru, our then PM. It was one of the most comprehensive & astute assessment of China’s intentions in Tibet (1950s) and potential threat from China to Indian sovereignty! He also had suggested what should India do in terms of phased preparedness. His analysis was cogent and recommendations astutely formulated. Sadly, they were not acted upon and tragically ignored, thereby paying a heavy price 12 years later in 1962. Ironically most of recommendations remain valid even today.
China views India with a huge differential power. They are concerned whether they would be able to dominate balance of power in Asia. Because it has been uncomfortable with India’s Tibet policy and insecure with the uprisings in Tibet, Xinjiang and unrest in inner Mongolia and other border provinces. we should engage China on diplomatic front without being hysterical and rhetoric while concentrating on –
○ Upgrading our military capability and developing credible nuclear deterrence
○ Build up strategic alliances with Chinese neighbours, who have maritime/land boundary disputes. Quid-pro-quo is order of the day.
Role of Media
In today’s world, where media both reflects and magnifies events, perceptions matter more than facts. Emotions rooted in faith, culture, religion and ethnicity count more than the reasons to determine the conduct of nations and its people. We need a responsive, responsible and mature media capable of viewing national security and related issues more objectively, rationally and in a balanced manner.
India, with its enormous latent potential, is saddled with many a challenges to its national security internally and externally. based on our past experience evolve pragmatic and proactive measures to overcome existing shortcomings and effectively face future challenges. to create and sustain national awareness about these challenges we need responsible, mature and dynamic media which should focus on objective and balanced reporting rather than being sensational and divisive. towards the end i suggest the following strategic agenda :-
● Cleansing up political system of corruption and criminalisation through electoral processes
● Administrative police and judicial reforms for good governance on war footing
● Proactive redressal of root causes of Naxal menace and elimination of Naxal violence.
● Focus on Socio-economic and education development along with responsive governance
● While dealing firmly with Sessionionists in J&K state, pragmatic time bound socio-economic and administrative measures to achieve total integration of the state with rest of India. Imaginatively modify article 370 to enable rest of India’s participation in the all round development of J&K. Avoid further autonomy to the state under all circumstances. DO NOT ALLOW ANY OUTSIDE TERRORIST INFILTRATOR TO RETURN/ESCAPE ALIVE.
● Peoples participation in population control and management of better quality of life for all sections of society.
● Demographic influx of Bangladeshis must be prevented by legal, administrative measures and if need be by force. Any politician supporting illegal migration for vote bank politics should be ostracised – politically and legally. The UID Scheme should not be applicable to any Bangladeshi migrant who has entered India after 1990 or earlier cut off date.
● Pakistan’s military, ISI, Civilian government and people should be tackled with a multi layered strategy and diplomatic pressures from international community, forcing it to dismantle terrorist organisations. THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE FOR PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN. For this purpose people to people contacts should be encouraged at all levels. In spite of all these, if God forbid, Pakistan breaks up because of its internal contradictions, we should be prepared for spill over effects in cooperation with Iran and Afghanistan.
● China is not only a challenge but a long term threat to India. The spectre of sino-Indian cold war is looming large with increased border incursions; repeated claims to Arunachal Pradesh and diplomatic arrogance through selective visa denials. Besides enlarging its involvement in Pakistan and encirlcement of India from North, east and south, china has focused on building up air power, blue water navy and nulcear weapons force capable of causing strategic paralysis in Asia and Indian Ocean. To check mate this challenge effectively we must, as a rising economic power, concentrate on upgrading matching military capability, develop credible nuclear deterrence and firmly deal with china on all contentious issues including border settlements. then and then only china will realise the need for Sino-Indian complimentary approach to global and regional issues.
● Finally, i recapitulate to immortal quotes
○ “IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THERE ARE NO PERMANENT FRIENDS OR FOES. THERE ARE ONLY PERMANENT NATIONAL INTEREST” so said Chanakya.
○ “NATIONS HAVE PASSED AWAY AND LEFT NO TRACES. AND HISTORY GIVES THE NAKED CAUSE OF IT. ONE SINGLE REASON IN ALL CASES – THEY FELL BECAUSE THEIR PEOPLE WERE NOT FIT” so said Rudyard Kipling
○ To these we add “assertive public opinion; eternal vigilance and multi dimensional preparedness are pillars of National Security under all circumstances.
By Lt.Gen. V M Patil, Bangalore
National Vice President, Forum Of Integrated National Security
Sri M B Haryaadi.