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March 05, 2006
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March 05, 2006

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Home > 2006 Issues > March 05, 2006

Youth Folio
Agenda for internal security

The first tattva
By Varun Gandhi

Over the past millennium, India has been continuously invaded and her cultural representations devastated. Indians at the time did not look beyond their immediate neighbourhood and failed to augment their military strength. They had an insular domestic policy, and did not review military developments and social changes occurring beyond their horizon.

Modern India stands tall among the world?s great nations, but the thousand years old mentality of military nonchalance continues to influence the non-violent Indian mind. On the one hand, Pakistan spends nearly five per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence and China nearly $ 70 billion (Rs 308 lakh crore), while India on the other hand spends a conservative 2.9 per cent of her GDP or $ 18.86 billion (Rs 83,000 crore). The Indian reluctance to aggressively build-up military strength has haunted India in the past millennium, and will continue to haunt her in the new one as well, if India?s policies do not change.

In the Art of War, Sun Tzu, the Chinese General considers security preparedness to be of vital importance to the state. He views it as a matter of life and death for the state, an important subject of inquiry which cannot be neglected. India is surrounded by nations that have a past history of aggression against her. They have seized her territories, continue to aggressively arm and rapidly modernise their armies. Even though relations may improve, nonetheless the military arming goes on unabated. A non-violent India cannot afford to sit back quietly and remain a mute spectator. India should confront these scenarios, not from the docile platform of the past 50 to 60 years, but from a new dominant stage of her own making. India needs a dynamic agenda for her national security. An agenda that is bi-focused to take care of India?s immediate needs, yet cater to a far focussed vision. It should be strategic and dominant by nature.

In a 1909 essay titled, ?The place of India in the Empire?, the former British Viceroy, Lord Curzon of Kedleston writes, ?It is obvious, indeed that the master of India, must, under modern conditions, be the greatest power in the Asiatic Continent, and therefore, it may be added, in the world. The central portion of India, its magnificent resources, its teeming multitude of men, its great trading harbours, its reserve of military strength, supplying an army always in a high state of efficiency, and capable of being hurled at a moment?s notice upon any point either of Asia or Africa. All these are assets of precious value. On the West, India must exercise a predominant influence over the destinies of Persia and Afghanistan. On the North, it can veto any rival in Tibet; on the North-East and East it can exert great pressure upon China, and it is one of the guardians of the autonomous existence of Suam. On the high seas it commands the routes to Australia, and to the China Sea.? Of course, it was in British India?s interest to arm India militarily to protect their trading routes. Nonetheless, this statement reflects upon the dream of patriotic Indians, who have long desired a more assertive India. However, this legacy of imperialist Anglo-Saxon tradition was not followed by an Independent India believing in the principles of non-violence and non-alignment.

The failure of India in creating a strategic culture was suited to her extraordinary influence in her neighbourhood, but now a new agenda for the 21st century is required. India must step out of her self-imposed limitations arising out of post-Partition geography, and define her role prominently in her neighbourhood. The rise of India in this century is intricately linked to various factors that include her economic development, social stability, fiscal expansion towards infrastructural development, raising the human development index of her masses, and importantly increasing her security preparedness.

I would divide India?s security agenda into five basic elements?the panch-tattvas. They are internal security, external security, dominance and missile arsenal, border security, and intelligence gathering. The most potent attack is an internal attack that weakens the State from within. For an internally weakened State, external aggression is an expected reality. India needs to be strengthened from within. Therefore internal security becomes our first tattva.

The greatest threats to India?s internal security are from the rise of extremism propagated by agencies across our borders, the spread of the Naxalites, the demographic morphing of India?s North-East by illegal migrants from Bangladesh, deterioration of our urban police force, estrangement of the public from the police due to police cruelties, and the increase in organised crimes. The attack on the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, the bomb-blasts in Mumbai?s Gateway of India, in Delhi?s markets, and the attack on Indian Parliament highlight a nefarious agenda. What can India do to prevent these occurrences? Some would say better intelligence gathering. But no amount of intelligence gathering saved the US from 9/11, or Israel from the suicide attacks. Therefore, India must evolve a strategy of immediate counter response, everytime Indian interests or citizens are targetted.

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