National security strategy is not an academic exercise


There is a plethora of writings by former diplomats, bureaucrats and think tank analysts insisting that India must announce its national security policy and strategy for its implementation.

By definition, security involves the assessment of risks posed to the nation by external enemies, circumstances that threaten its economic well-being, and factors that harm its internal cohesion.

National security requires protection both against open attack from land, sea or air and against a “covert” attempt by the adversary to overthrow the country from within. The national security safeguard strategy should be holistic in terms of the input it would receive from all branches of government and the security arrangements that would be made to ensure a comprehensive implementation response across the multiplicity of institutions, authorities and the Centre- State boundaries.

It would also rest on the assurance that the democratic regime would keep national security above party gains. Three contemporary trends have challenged the task of developing national security strategy. A strategy, conceptually, is a plan of action that assumes long-term application – unfortunately, the lifespan of a strategy is shortened today due to the frequency of changes in global geopolitics or regional.

A national security plan can, at best, be a medium-term reflection. Second, a security strategy necessarily involves reading the arc of potential friends, enemies and adversaries, but the challenge here is that the stability of this spectrum itself cannot be assumed.

Therefore, “course correction” would become a significant contingency to plan for and this would change the methodology that might have been adopted previously for the exercise. Finally, it is rightly said that “security is not cheap”, but even where the nation is willing to spend on it, the principle of security is that it should be cost effective, free from bottlenecks of throttling in communications and totally clear as far as responsibility for action is concerned.

India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has somewhat unveiled the framework of its national strategy. The development of bilateral relations that promoted mutual security and economic interests, total attention to measures – military, diplomatic and financial – designed to counter the movements of a definite adversary, and a firm commitment to world peace, stand out as the paradigms of the same and these are not hidden from the international community.

What should certainly be avoided from becoming publicly known is the specificity of the steps the nation would take to deal with a particular hostile country. Academics who claim to be able to subscribe to India’s security strategy seem to forget that security assessments and responses should be kept confidential under the principle that “secret knowledge is secret power” and that Advantage is lost if either side learns the opponent’s ability and course of action.

Of course, any credible analysis from think tanks and academics can provide useful information to those tasked with crafting a national security strategy, but the actual components of it are not for public discourse except in general terms. .

Some studies of what is known to have happened in the past can provide useful lessons for the future, but security strategy is essentially about what lies ahead in terms of specific threats or growing dangers in the future. horizon and their possible counter-attack, which is necessarily “protected” information.

As part of the announced part of the national security policy, India’s reading on the current global geopolitics would certainly be made public as it helped identify potential friends and opponents. India did not seek to hide its position on the military conflict between Ukraine and Russia from the scrutiny of the world – it was based on an unwavering understanding of the concerns of both sides and called for an immediate halt to military action in the broader interest of global stability.

Prime Minister Modi spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin for a ceasefire and peace talks at the start of the conflict itself. That India is able to maintain its policy in multiple international forums is praise for Prime Minister Modi’s political will as much as it is the victory of morality in international politics.

This is perhaps a result of India’s deep civilizational belief in a peaceful world and the eternal Hindu doctrine of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’. Modi’s call “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” is in line with this broader thinking.

Notwithstanding the superficial theories of latter-day social scientists that blur the “idea of ​​India”, it is good to see the Modi regime successfully articulating Indian thought of universal relevance by fostering pride in our national identity, projecting our heritage and emphasizing India’s concern to remain in complete harmony with the larger destiny of the world.

India’s security strategy would therefore combine adherence to a multilateral effort to enhance the stability of the democratic order globally and the planning of specific military, diplomatic and economic measures to counter identified adversaries.

Following the Chinese PLA’s aggressive conduct in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in June 2020, India wasted no time in accelerating its military build-up on the LAC to deal with any Chinese mishaps. and at the same time activate its association with Quad to signal its determination to thwart any aggressive Chinese designs in the Indian Ocean.

The threat of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan is specific to India and that country’s strategic response is a combination of military and para-military actions against infiltration by the POK, the policy statement that “talks and terror cannot go together” and the success of mobilization on all international platforms ranging from the Quad to the G7 to obtain joint declarations against terrorism as also against those who have allowed terrorists to operate from their soil.

The strategy proved successful especially after the Taliban emirate took control of Afghanistan with the full complicity of Pakistan in August last year and also helped to expose the China-Pakistan axis which was working un only against India but against the democratic world as a whole.

Notwithstanding the fact that the United States apparently has a comfort of distance from Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops from there, a deepening Indo-American strategic friendship remains an important source of strength for the India to counter the actions of these two hostile neighbours.

The communal divide in the country has recently deepened in large part due to Pakistan’s determined attempt to use Islamic militants for cross-border terrorism to gain the upper hand over India in Kashmir in pursuit of the communal approach. of claiming the border territory as a Muslim-majority state and also by Pakistan’s declaration in its recently announced National Security Policy (NSP) that India is its main adversary.

The Pakistani NSP also claimed that the Modi regime’s “Hindu policy” had endangered the safety of the Muslim minority here. The most recent episode of Pak ISI inciting murderous revenge for the alleged ‘insult’ to the Prophet Muhammad caused by a former BJP spokesperson during a TV debate, which resulted in the brutal murder of targeted Hindu individuals , has pushed Hindu-Muslim relations in India to a new low.

Pakistan even took up the issue with the OIC and demanded a “national apology” from India for what was at best the action of a “party official”.

Meanwhile, China is colluding with Pakistan in Afghanistan after the Taliban emirate returned to Kabul and is also helping Pakistan by providing drones for the latter’s covert operations against India. India’s security strategy must prioritize the task of educating the US-led West against religious terrorism by Islamic radicals that primarily target the former, and making US policymakers aware that Pakistan is no longer a Cold War ally. era – having become an adoptive parent of radical outfits.

Above all, the democratic world as a whole must be made aware of the geopolitical threat it faces from the unholy alliance of the Marxist dictatorship of China with the fundamentalist Islamic regime of Pakistan.

The national security strategy of a great country like India, which plays an effective global role, must take into account the state of affairs in many other areas that are relevant to making the nation strong.

It is now a universally accepted concept that “national security is inseparable from economic security” and that a more economically developed and prosperous country can afford to have better security by spending more on its military and ensuring that health and education are within the reach of all citizens.

(The author is a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau. Opinions expressed are personal)


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