National Security Strategy: Its formulation is not an academic exercise
D.C. PATHAK (Source: IANS) | 25 Aug, 2022
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There is a spate of writings from former diplomats, bureaucrats and
think-tank analysts insisting that India must announce its National
Security Policy and the strategy of implementing it.
by definition entails evaluation of risks posed to the nation by
external enemies, circumstances that threaten its economic well-being
and factors that damage its internal cohesion.
demands protection against both an open attack from land, sea or air
and a 'covert' attempt of the adversary to subvert the country from
within. The strategy of safeguarding national security has to be
comprehensive in terms of the contribution it would receive from all
wings of the government and fail-safe arrangements that would be made
for ensuring an integral response of implementation cutting across
multiplicity of institutions, authorities and Centre-State delineations.
It would also rest on an assurance that the democratic polity
would keep national security above party gains. Three contemporary
trends have posed a challenge to the task of framing the national
security strategy. A strategy, concept-wise, is a plan of action that
presumes long-term application - unfortunately the life span of a
strategy stands shortened today because of the frequency of change in
the global or regional geo- politics.
A national security plan
can at best be a mid-term thought. Secondly, a security strategy
necessarily involves a reading of the arc of friends, enemies and
potential adversaries but the challenge here is that the stability of
this spectrum itself can not be presumed.
correction' would become an important contingency to be provided for and
this would change the methodology that might have been adopted earlier
for the exercise. Finally, it is rightly said that 'security does not
come cheap' but even where the nation is willing to spend on it, the
principle of security is that it should be cost-effective, free of
bottlenecks in communication and totally clear as far as the
accountability for action is concerned.
India under Prime
Minister Narendra Modi has in a way revealed the framework of its
national strategy. Development of bilateral relations that promoted
mutual security and economic interests, total attention to measures -
military, diplomatic and financial - designed to counter the moves of a
defined adversary and firm commitment to world peace, stand out as the
paradigms of the same and these are not kept hidden from the
What certainly has to be kept from
becoming public knowledge is the specificity of the steps that the
nation would take to deal with a particular hostile country. The
academics who claim to be in a position to underwrite India's security
strategy seem to forget that security assessments and responses are to
be kept confidential on the principle that 'secret knowledge is secret
power' and the advantage is lost if any side comes to know of the
opponent's capacity and plan of action.
Warnings to the
adversary through diplomatic and other means are in order for conveying
an intention and creating a possible deterrent but the details of what
the actual response would be and how it would be executed, have to be
kept under the wraps.
Foreign policy by definition is a product
of the nation's security and economic concerns and diplomacy is skilled
in the art of sharing them with others - including friends and
unfriendly rivals - in an appropriate manner.
Of course, any
credible analysis of think-tanks and scholars can provide useful
information inputs for those charged with the responsibility of drawing
up national strategy on security but the actual components of it are not
a matter of public discourse except in broad terms.
studies on what is known to have happened in the past can provide useful
learning for the future but security strategy is basically about what
lies ahead in regard to specific threats or the rising dangers on the
horizon and their possible counter and this is of necessity a
Within the announced part of the policy
on national security, India's reading of the current global geopolitics
would certainly be made public as this helped to identify friends and
potential opponents. India did not seek to hide its stand on
Ukraine-Russia military conflict from world scrutiny - it rested on an
untainted understanding of concerns on both sides and called for an
immediate stoppage of military action in the larger interest of global
Prime Minister Modi spoke to both Ukrainian President
Volodymyr Zelensky as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin for a
ceasefire and peace negotiation at the beginning of the conflict itself.
That India is able to hold on to its policy in multiple international
fora is a commendation for the political will of Prime Minister Modi, as
much as it is the victory of morality in international politics.
is perhaps an upshot of India's deep civilisational belief in a
peaceful world and the everlasting Hindu doctrine of 'Vasudhaiv
Kutumbakam'. Modi's call of 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas' is in line with
this wider thinking.
Notwithstanding the superficial theories of
latter day social scientists that put a haze around the 'idea of
India', it is good to see the Modi regime successfully articulating the
Indian thought of universal relevance by fostering pride in our national
identity, projecting our heritage and emphasising the keenness of India
to remain in total consonance with the larger destiny of the world.
prerequisite of the success of our national security strategy is that
the leaders in public life in India must be totally free of corruption
which meant they were not misusing authority for lining up their
pockets. Initiatives of the Modi government to eradicate corruption in
public life therefore are welcome- it does not matter who were brought
up in the queue ahead of others.
The global security scenario
facing India covers the threats it is exposed to as a leading country
belonging to the democratic world, on account of the current
geo-politics at large and also those that arose specifically for it from
the hostile neighbours around.
India's security strategy would
therefore combine joining a multilateral effort to strengthen the
stability of the democratic order at the global level and planning
military, diplomatic and economic measures specifically to counter the
Following the aggressive conduct of
Chinese PLA at Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh in June 2020, India lost
no time in speeding up its military build up on the LAC to deal with any
Chinese misadventures and at the same time activating its association
with Quad to signal its determination to thwart any aggressive designs
of China in the Indian Ocean.
The threat of cross-border
terrorism from Pakistan is specifically for India and the strategic
response of this country is a combination of military and para military
action against infiltration through POK, declaration of the policy that
'talks and terror can not go together' and successful mobilisation at
all international platforms ranging from Quad to G7 to get joint
declarations issued against terrorism as also against those who allowed
terrorists to operate from their soil.
The strategy has proved
its worth particularly after the take over of Afghanistan by Taliban
Emirate with total connivance of Pakistan in August last year and has
also helped to expose the Sino-Pak axis that was working not only
against India but against the democratic world as a whole.
the fact that US apparently has a comfort of distance in relation to
Afghanistan after the withdrawal of American troops from there, a
deepening Indo-US strategic friendship remains an important source of
strength for India in countering the doings of these two hostile
A significant aspect of security strategy of India
that has acquired overriding importance pertains to the fact that
external threats to our internal security have multiplied in a manner
that is new. Most of these are traceable to the concerted attempts of
Pakistan and China to fish in our troubled waters at home. Conflicts
rooted in differences on caste, creed and region were not new in
independent India but they were all gradually moderated over time by the
assimilative process of a democratic system.
Communal divide in
the country has lately become aggravated largely because of Pakistan's
determined bid to use Islamic militants for cross-border terrorism to
get the better of India in Kashmir in pursuit of the communal approach
of claiming the border territory as a Muslim majority state and also
through the declaration by Pakistan in its recently announced National
Security Policy (NSP) that India is its principal adversary.
NSP also contended that the 'Hindutva politics' of Modi regime has put
the security of Muslim minority here in jeopardy. The more recent
episode of Pak ISI instigating murderous revenge of the alleged 'insult'
to Prophet Mohammad caused by a former BJP spokesperson during a TV
debate, which resulted in the brutal killing of targeted individual
Hindus, has pushed Hindu-Muslim relations in India to a new low.
even took up the issue with OIC and demanded 'national apology' from
India for what was at best the doing of a 'party functionary'.
China is conniving with Pakistan in Afghanistan after the return of
Taliban Emirate in Kabul and also aiding Pakistan by supplying drones
for the latter's covert operations against India. The security strategy
of India needs to prioritise the task of briefing the US-led West
against the faith-based terrorism of Islamic radicals that principally
target the former, and making the American policy makers aware that
Pakistan is no more an ally of the Cold War era - having turned into a
foster parent of radical outfits.
Above all, the democratic
world as a whole has to be made wiser about the threat it faces
geopolitically from the unholy alliance of the Marxist dictatorship of
China with the fundamentalist Islamic regime of Pakistan.
National Security Strategy of a major country like India with an
effective global role has to take into account the state of affairs in
many other spheres that are relevant to making the nation strong.
is now a universally acknowledged concept that 'national security is
inseparable from economic security' and that an economically more
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.
A country is strong if it is
not dependant on others for its needs. Internal cohesion and a sound
level of patriotism existing across the demographic spectrum is another
key determinant of national security. National security is also
ultimately linked to the environmental safety of the world.
finally, a nation has to be strong enough to influence the geo-politics
in favour of global peace and human well-being. It is a matter of great
satisfaction that Prime Minister Modi is totally aware of both 'hard
core' security issues and the 'non-traditional' components of national
security that together must be built into the National Security
(The writer is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau. The views expressed are personal)
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