Intro: “If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle”
—The Art of War, Sun Tzu (6th Century BC), Chinese general and military strategist.
Future wars will be fought in the space some scholars say while, some argue that India does not have a Grand Strategic Culture. While celebrating the Republic day which is symbol of sovereignty and strength of ‘WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA’, we need to assess whether we lack a Strategic Culture, and if yes, how to build it.
Civilisationally, we had a tradition of Grand Strategic Thinking reflected in the classics like Arthashastra. In fact, in Mahabharat as well Virata Parva, Bheeshma and Krishna symbolise this thinking. Unfortunately, after independence, while tuning to the western new nation-state system, we did not take many efforts to build our own Strategic Culture based on our civilisational heritage. At the best, we tried to throw some idealist rhetoric to western realist paradigms.
When everyone is talking about India’s arrival on the global stage, we need to understand what constitutes this ‘We’, what the potential threats are and how we can mitigate them.
Securing ‘Unity and Integrity’ of a nation does not only mean defending territorial boundaries, but also developing a complete strategy to secure what a nation stands for. As France stands for Liberty and Britain for Rule of Law, India stands for certain cardinal values of life. Assimilation and respect for all ways of thinking and worship is the unique contribution of India. When ‘liberty’ and ‘secularism’ were not coined as popular rhetoric, India practiced them in real spirit. Similarly, Change with Continuity is another feature that India has inherited since ages. Following the righteous path shown by great minds is another value we cherish. Our systems have always been society centric rather than polity centric. That is the reason aggressions or victory over few kings could not alter the basic character of our society. These are the things we fought for all along even when we lacked resources. Urge to survive as a civilisational is inherent in us.
Fundamentalism negating multiplicity of ways of worships, illegal migration and growing inter-community scuffles, increasing maritime incursions and our failure to modernise our forces to meet these challenges are the key threats to us as a nation.
Now when resources are increasing and the world is talking about India, we need to think in tune with our civilisational wisdom. Realist power equations should be mastered and managed in such a way that the Indian ideals are not only accepted but are also protected globally. For this, knowing threats to our existence, external and internal, should be identified. Human, economic and military resources should be marshalled in such a way that future threats are annulled even before arriving. Our individual success should be used collectively to address these concerns, then only, India that is Bharat will be able to guide world for peace and prosperity. Then only the purpose of we being a true Republic will be fulfilled.