Where new threats are emerging, the old ones are still boiling. Newer means tactical and strategic upmanship are adopted by nations to pursue their national interests. Non-state actors are undermining the nation-state system in every possible manner. To mitigate future security challenges, we need to evolve the Indian Strategic Culture. Organiser attempted this through ‘Dialogue on Defence’.
Organiser and Panchjanya known for their nationalist approach continued the tradition of calling experts on 26th January 2014 to discuss Defence Preparedness of India: Mitigating Future challenges. From larger strategic thinking to specific issues like rising Islamic fundamentalism, Defence Capability, Reorganisation and Training, Coastal and Maritime security were identified as critical security concerns in a daylong brainstorming during Dialogue on Defence. The need to develop a grand strategic thinking and modernising the defence forces were consensual solutions that emerged in this dialogue.
Dialogue on Defence has become an annual feature of nationalist weeklies, Organiser and Panchjanya. As a one month precursor to the Republic Day, this year also the weeklies organised a day long brainstorming on Defence Preparedness of India: Mitigating Future challenges at Madhya Pradesh Bhawan, Chanakyapuri on December 26, 2014. The programme brought academicians, researchers, social activists, bureaucrats and Defence personnel on one platform to discuss future security concerns for India. Prafulla Ketkar, Editor Organiser welcomed guests and flagged off ‘changing dimensions of security discourse in the volatile global geopolitics’. Panchjanya Editor, Hitesh Shankar outlined the idea behind this dialogue as a consistent endeavour by the nationalist publications to raise the issues of national interest and national security. This was a third dialogue-The dialogue process began with Internal Security Challenges, then Emergence of New Caliphate and this year the focus was on Future Security Challenges.
Session 1: Future Challenges in Defending India
With personnel strength of more than one million, Indian Army has kept the nation together through various crises, including four wars since Independence and still fight 24X7 with the support of Air force and Navy in Defending India. But still there are many present and future challenges which we have to fight.
On the issue of Future Challenges in Defending India, former Naval Officer and Director, Center for Security and Strategic Studies, India Foundation, Alok Bansal initiated the discussion saying that we have a traditional challenge from Pakistan, we have China which is not our enemy but the issue territorial dispute is there. To face all this, we face problems of piracy. Internal Security issues are still to grapple with the growing threat of Red terror. We need to focus on resurgence of Jehadi terrorism which is increasing globally. After the 26/11 Mumbai attack we haven’t learn anything and still we have not done much to secure our coastlines.
While deliberating on the issue, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) SA Hasnain said that with our civilisational perspective we lacked strategic culture. But with a party with nationalistic approach in power, we will do every possible thing to defend India in a better way. Kashmir, North-east and Red terror should be taken seriously. Infact, the time has come to solve the issues of internal threats and traditional threats (from Pakistan and China) and time has come to solve this. Terror itself is an industry and Kashmir is a big example of this. He also focused on budgeting aspect and said that India spends 1.7 per cent of budget on Defence whereas neighbouring countries like China and Pakistan respectively spends 3 and 4 per cent of its budget on Defence. We have to increase our Defence budget; this is one thing we need to consider seriously.
Further focusing on Pakistan, he said that Pakistan doesn’t have the capacity to do anything inside Kashmir and now we have to learn how to hit hard on Pakistan. It’s time to give them a strong message that anything now would be unacceptable. Presence of Border Security Force (BSF) in LoC is also not adequate and the government needs to think on increasing the number of BSF. Rajputana Rifles should be deployed in Jammu and Kashmir for better impact. Lack of officers in Army is also a big concern. Shortage of officers and management problem is affecting Army at a major level. On Maritime aspect, he said that we somehow failed in clearing the project.
On conflicts in North-east and Jammu and Kashmir, Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Dhruv C Katoch said, “We have to check from where all this money is coming to create problem in these areas because there are many NGOs with anti-India sentiments who are funding naxalites and terrorists. We should have a plan to counter these problems.” He also focused on shortage of officers in Indian Army. ‘We need officers at lower ranks. Army has to change its entire man-power planning. IT related threats are the new form of terrorism and we have no preparedness to meet this challenge.’ The government should hunt for cyber experts in defence, he added.
Former Chief Secretary Andaman & Nicobar Administration, Shakti Sinha said, “We need to focus on our per capita income, health and many sectors which will help India to become a great Nation.”
Session 2: Defence Preparedness: Self Sufficiency in Defence Capability, Reorganisation and Training
India needs to create its own India operating system to fight Cyber wars because Cyber crime is increasing very rapidly. Technology is Nation’s power so government needs to make single-window mechanism and a science-state, said Smita Purushottam, Ambassador to Venezuala.
On Defence Preparedness, Hasnain said, “We lack scientific temperament in Army. An army officer never repeats work in one section. The government needs to look at these aspects to make Indian Army better.”
Shekhar Sinha said that Population matters in Defence preparedness. By 2050 we will be the most populated country and will cross China. So education and healthcare is much needed to control population. On security aspect he said, “National Security Council must have experts in every field like cyber space, border conflict, etc. Globalistaion is the root cause of terrorism and cyber terrorism. We should go the way what we are capable off to tackle the menace.
Our security challenges are many more except military challenges in border areas. Our challenges are different from other country so we have to fight it by our trick, not by others trick.”
“It’s time to transform. Training needs to be modified by keeping future threat in mind. There is need of service reforms. There should be appointment and promotion based policy,” he added. On training in Defence, Sinha emphasised on the following issues which needs to change:
- We have a straight jacket training approach for everything so it needs to change.
- Time has come for India to follow its own module.
- Specialised people should be used and content of the appointment needs to be corrected.
- FIR policy needs to change.
Emphasising on technology, Dhruv C Katoch said that we are not in position of making latest technologies, so we have to create an atmosphere that foreign companies can invest here easily. We need to motivate and encourage young talent who go to foreign lands in search of job.
He added, we are not able to analyse our threat. It’s time to re-prioritise our threats and act according to that. There is need to increase our Defence budget and appoint Defence person, Foreign Service officers and Researchers in Ministry of Defence.
On Defence preparedness, General Patnaik said that National Security University must be approved. Military should understand what are the other dynamics of security? He added, we need to develop our capabilities. We have unsettled borders. If we are not able to clean our inside mess than we can’t fight the outer mess.
Session 3: Coastal and Island Security
India’s coasts have always been vulnerable to anti-national activities. Numerous cases of smuggling of goods, explosives, drugs, arms and ammunition as well as the infiltration of terrorists into the country through these coasts have been reported over the years. The Government had been aware of the activities and for a long time several initiatives have been taken by the government to strengthen security of coastal areas and Islands against the threat of neighbouring countries. There has been a significant increase in the coastal surveillance patrols by Naval and Coast Guard ships in the recent years but still we have to do a lot to keep these areas 100 per cent safe.
On the issue of Coastal and Island Security, Air Marshal (Retd.) PK Roy said that Islands are totally dependent on mainland. India should be watchful of Chinese development in Indian Ocean Region and militarisation of ‘String of Pearls’. The naval modernisation plan of China is reflective of the fact that control of the Indian Ocean is emerging as its priority. Andaman and Nicobar chain of islands provide us an opportunity to influence events much deeper into South-East Asia.
We need to increase our focus on the extra regional powers in China and it necessitates assessment from military point of view. Intentions need to be monitored for threat analysis because resurgence of China and focus of world has shifted to Asia-Pacific region. Proximity to littorals in South-East Asia presents both a challenge and an opportunity to our national interests, he added.
He emphasised on some important points:
- “Malacca Di Lemma”—Desire to reduce criticality of Malacca Strait.
- Developing alternate ports to reduce criticality of Malacca strait-String of Pearls.
- Increase in Chinese traffic between mainland and Andaman & Nicobar Island will alter security environment in the region.
- Things are moving but there is very slow infrastructure development. Because of lack of raw material, cost of the project escalates in this region.
- Infrastructure development is a necessary criterion for any economic growth so major infrastructure is required in OTR ports and runways.
- Proximity to the coast line and Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Act shrouds development in a maze of rules and regulations with its resultant unimaginable delays.
- The working season is restricted to six months in a year due to excessive monsoon rains, leading to longer gestation period for a project. So there is a need to find out some alternative to this.
- Radar installation problem remains.
In a concluding remark, Vice Adml. (Retd.) Shekhar Sinha pressed for the urgent necessity of all around development of Coastal and Island region.
Session 4: Islamic Terrorism
From the past few decades, there has been a sudden surge in violence and terrorist activities by the Islamic fanatics. Presently India as well as the world is facing the bloody face of Islamic terrorism. Their theory of “Let there be no religion except Islam” is very dangerous for humanity and everybody should come together in the fight against Islamic terrorism.
On the issue of Islamic terrorism, Sultan Shahin, founder editor of the moderate Islamic website NewAgeIslam.com said, “More worry for me being a Muslim is that these people (Muslim Terrorist) believe that they will go to heaven after killing the innocent children, women and men. It is a matter of great pain. Islam is a religion of peace. Suicide is considered worst in Islam and persuading anyone to commit suicide is a big crime. ‘Suicide is not acceptable in any situation-Prophet Muhammad’.
But Taliban, al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist organisations proudly accept that they have killed many people and that many suiciders belong to them. There is no compulsion in religion. I am totally against the theory of ‘let there be no religion except Islam’. For you your religion, for me my religion. Most of the terrorists educated from Madarsas have been taught by fundamentalist.”
According to me terrorism has no religion but most of the terrorist organisation or terrorist you find is Muslim and most of them are the students of Madarsa. You have to create good role models to inspire and reform fundamentalist mindsets.
—Nishant Kumar Azad