INDIA is rapidly emerging as a major global player in economic terms. Its successful war for the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 and decision to go nuclear in 1998 have made it a military power of great significance. However, its recent trajectory of development has been more alien to that of Japan and Germany, points out the author of this book. The focus overwhelmingly has been on economic growth. He laments, “This has unfortunately not been translated into matching military power (unfortunately because India’s threat profile is increasingly becoming very acute). In fact, post-1998, the willingness to use military force to secure national interests has declined to a level that is now becoming a cause for concern.”
The author says forcefully that India’s failure to respond in a pro-active manner to the two decades of Pakistani sub-conventional assault is eroding its image, credibility and resolve as a potential global military power. He asks if India will become an economic giant that lacks the political will to wield military power?
On reading this book one feels that the author is correct in demanding that India should translate its economic potential into usable military power if it wishes to influence events in its neighbourhood, if not trying to influence them in distant countries. It cannot afford to be seen as hanging on to the coat-tails of the United Sates or any other power in search for its security. “It will soon have to emerge as an independent power centre in its own right (and not by the sole virtue of its alliance with any other power centre). It will need to display its strategic autonomy and the will to use force to defend its vital national interests (these include safeguarding its population from terrorist assaults). It has the capability; it must now display the will.”
The author advises that India needs to develop the “overarching vision and overview to impose order upon the chaotic developments in its neighbourhood that are seriously impinging upon the nation’s security; it needs to articulate a quadrennial national security strategy.”
The book highlights the precise military capacities that India needs to develop and field urgently. In the Soviet era military stock (that gave India the victory of 1971) is now well past its prime.
He criticises the soft approach and the stress on peace adopted by the Ministry of External Affairs.
The book concludes by saying that India cannot afford to become a soft state and an effete economic giant like Germany or Japan “that have not been able to transform economic power into military potential.” He feels a dire need for India to synergise its national security process so that it is in tune with the requirements and fast paced challenges of the 21st century.
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