India has become the most threatened country in the world, from south to north and northeast to north west, and the politicians are lethargi, disinterested and do not listen to the recommendations made by army officers to raise the morale and defence preparedness of the army. Said Gen. (Retd.) V.P. Malik while inaugurating the two-day national seminar on ?Threats to national identity and security in 21st century? at Kolkata. The seminar was dedicated to the memory of Field Marshall SHFJ Manekshaw.
The seminar was held on the occasion of 107th birth anniversary of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee under the aegis of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation. The seminar, first of its kind in Kolkata was attended by luminaries such as former union minister and veteran journalist Arun Shourie, former high commissioner to Pakistan G. Parthasarathy, Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Ashok Mehta, senior fllow of IDSA Prof. P.Stobdan, former deputy chief of army staff Lt. Gen (Retd.) N.S. Malik, Member of Parliament from Ladakh Shri Thupstan chhewang, Member of Parliament from Arunachal Shri Kiran Rijiju, Former joint secretary, cabinet secretariat Shri Bhaskar Roy, Chief Editor dainik Statesman Shri Manas Ghosh, noted columnist Smt. Sandhya Jain, founder general secretary of World organisation of Students and Youth Shri Dattatreya Hosbale, Former president of west Bengal BJP Shri Tathagat Roy, veteran defence expert Col. Sabyasachi Bagchi, senior student leader Shri Jatin Mohanty, president of west Bengal ABVP Shri Rabi Ranjan Sen,
Shri K.N.Sahani, president of the Foundation welcomed the guests, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, secretary gave an introduction to the foundation while Shri Tarun Vijay. Director presented the seminar'stheme. Prof. Stobdan discussed the concept of the seminar as its coordinator.
Gen. Malik said that the dependence on imported equipment and low morale of the officers was posing a serious problem for the Indian Army, ?Even today we are importing 70 per cent of our equipment. As long as we have to depend on equipment from outside, we will be inconvenienced by any rise in prices,? he said.
Gen. Malik, the army chief during the 1999 Kargil war, said at that time, Indian troops were low on tangible assets, but high on morale and confidence.
?This asset is almost on the verge of extinction now. There is an acute shortage of officers. Young men and women with great leadership capabilities are not joining. Those in the army want to quit,? he said. He presented a paper on ?Indian Defence Forces? preparedness to deal with challenges of the 21st century.?
?The low morale of the forces is becoming visible. I couldn'tdream of such a scenario when I joined the army,? he regretted.He also criticised the political leadership for ignoring the recommendation to create the post of Chief of Defence Staff.?That was a right recommendation made years ago. But the government chickened out. This was unfortunate.?
Gen. Malik expressed his unhappiness against using the army for internal security duties.
?You can'tswitch a soldier on and off from external to internal security. These two need completely different orientations,? he said.
Continuing with his hard-hitting speech, Malik said that the government made a mistake by neglecting the Border States soon after independence. ?Unless we assimilate these people, our defence cannot be strong.?
Replying to a query as to why the strategic roads in border states like Arunachal Pradesh still lay in neglect, Malik said: ?In 1986, the government gave us huge resources to build infrastructure like airfields and roads. Work was on at a great pace. Then in 1988, (then prime minister) Rajiv Gandhi went to China. After that, the fund flow dried up.?
Malik highlighted the need for military might to sustain India'score values.
?Unless you are alert about the need for protecting your independence, how can you evolve as a great nation?? he asked at the seminar.
?In order to protect your soft power – your cultural ethos – you can'tdo without adequate hard power. They need to compliment each other,? he added.
Shri Arun Shourie warned against the designs of the Chinese expansionism and said there is no alternative to build your own defence strength to counter the threats on the northern front. ? Claim, claim and grab? is the Chinese policy, he cautioned. He chaired a special session on ?dealing with rising china? participated by Ambassador G. Parthaarathy, Prof. Stobdan, Thupstan Chhewang and Bhaskar Roy. Kirna Rijiju , who had first warned about the Chinese incursions in Arunachaal had spoken a day earlier on Chinese designs.
Prof P. Stobdan in his opening remarks said that as India continues a rapid economic growth and regains a justified position in the world dynamics, she also wakes up to unique challenges of national security and identity.
India has transformed itself, over the decades, into a modernizing emerging great power. India'sachievements and recognition in modern times essentially stemmed from the contemporary relevance of ancient Hindu civilization. It'svast plurality and tradition of tolerance has particularly found compatibility with modernity and liberal democracy. The country, despite all odds, has lived up to a functional democracy for over half a century. It has also uniquely evolved as an Indian democracy.
There are also challenges that are regional in nature. The prolonged instabilities in the neighborhood have serious politico-security consequences for India. A perceptible shift in power to the Asian continent is already in the offing. The rapid growth of major Asian economies particularly the emergence of China as a superpower is a major challenge that require cogent Indian response. Meanwhile major countries are also turning towards multilateralism and regionalism to resolve their identity and security dilemmas.
Significantly, new issues have come to the fore that poses major challenges to India'snuclear policy. The menace of terrorism, largely having underpinnings in the differences between the Western and Islamic cultural values, has also been played on the Indian scene. Terrorism distorts India'spluralistic experiment and harmonious balance of societies.