Intro : Day-long brainstorming by Organiser & Panchjanya and Jammu Kashmir Study Centre in Delhi to discuss the ‘Role of Stakeholders’ in evolving strategic culture.
Leading experts from security, academics, media and some other fields joined the ‘Dialogue on Defence’ organised jointly by Organiser & Panchjanya and Jammu Kashmir Study Centre (JKSC) in New Delhi on August 14 to discuss the role of various stakeholders in the strategic security discourse of the country. The day-long brainstorming comprised of two sessions—first on external security and the second on internal security. Apart from the state machinery, the role of other stakeholders including academicians, think-tanks, voluntary organisations, media, Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) were discussed. Organiser editor Prafulla Ketkar initiated the discussion while Panchjanya editor Hitesh Shankar presided over.
The first session mainly focused on various aspects of the external security. Sharing his views Shri Alok Bansal, Director of Center for Security and Strategic Studies, India Foundation, said, “External factors hugely influence internalities these days. The threat of Islamic State (IS) is not yet analysed properly in Bharat, as there is greater migration towards IS. Its influence in southern states of Bharat is much more than that of the northern states of Bharat. Deal between the western world and Iran will also have implication for the Indian sub-continent.” Expressing concerns over the conventional approach of Bharatiya think-tanks, he further said, “The Think Tanks in Bharat are limited to studies and research on the glamorous subjects. Role of stakeholders has become significant in articulating and mitigating the threat.
Lt Gen (Retd) Sayed Ata Hasnain said the non-state institutions in Bharat are unfortunately devoid of any nuanced strategic culture. They always consider national security synonymously as border security. Security is everyone’s responsibility. Comprehen-sive security is a composite notion of security, which entails every form of security such as social security, human security, economic security etc. Anything that impinges on the aspiration of an average Bharatiya citizen is a threat to nation.
“It is going to be a long process to see strategic culture grow in the country. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should also encompass ‘security awareness’ in its mandate. Constructive engagement is very important for peace and security. Role of Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) is another area where stakeholders can appropriately contribute in promotion of patriotism and strategic culture. Bharat and Pakistan at the NSA level talks can jointly explore options to eliminate the IS menace as both are going to be equally impacted by it,” Lt. Gen (Retd) Hasnain added.
Maj Gen (Retd) Dhruv Katoch opined that we need to look inside before looking outside. Our military industrial complex is an important element of security. We need to address the rot within. He said Jabalpur vehicle factory is producing military vehicles at exorbitant prices as compared to its counterpart in the private sector. He urged to shun the socialist mindset in the realm of arms manufacturing for the military as it is increasingly linked to corruption and bad money and suggested that DRDO should work in the pattern of ISRO. “Islamic radicalism is an ideological warfare and we need to get the real stakeholders to build an Islamic narrative and consequently build a counter-narrative”, he added.
Consulting Editor of DD News Shri KG Suresh made a significant intervention saying Kerala is going to be another Jammu & Kashmir looking at the manner in which the expatriates are being brainwashed in the West Asia. “There is an Islamic agenda being fulfilled through devious investments by some industrialists. We need to know about the source of their finances too.” He also pointed to the Wahhabi domination in the sphere of media and Islamic forums. Being a Wahhabi power in the West Asia, Qatar, where a large chunk of Non-Resident Indians are working, has superseded Saudi Arabia, he remarked.
“The Muslim community in Bharat is moderate and diverse. There is a central-Asian pattern to Islam, which is largely unacknowledged in our discourse. We need to acknowledge the nexus between the Arms-Narco-Hawala mafias and their respective roles in financing terror”, Shri MD Nalapat, Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian said.
Vice-Admiral (Retd) Anoop Singh imparted a comprehensive analysis on the maritime security challenges which Bharat faces now. He observed that China is the biggest external threat to Bharat. The Third Taiwan Strait incident brought transformative changes in navy capabilities of China. Huge expansion in blue water navy happened during this phase. They sent nuclear-powered submarine in the Indian Ocean in the name of patrolling but it was an exercise to familiarise the water where potential adversary resides. China also parked this submarine in Sri-Lanka. It amounted to violation of Rajiv-Jayawardene Pact. He referred Hambantota port as a lost opportunity. Another thing to watch out for is the developing Sino-Russian bonhomie. The Chinese Maritime Silk Road (MSR) will act as a last cog in the wheel in the string of pearls. The nexus between Pak and China is also becoming stronger with every passing day.
While Shri Alok Bansal indicated that Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) should take military diplomacy as one of its mandate, Shri Vijay Kranti, senior journalist, noted that the interface between Dharamshala and Beijing should not be at the national interest of Bharat.
The second session debated the issues like sub-nationalism, leftwing extremism, Jammu & Kashmir, Islamic radicalism, etc which come under the purview of internal security. Discussing the issue of J&K, Col. Jaibans Singh, editor of www.defenceinfo.com, pointed out to the security concerns posed by China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said the CPEC would have grave implications for Bharat. Gwadar is central to this corridor. Through this CPEC, 40 Billion USD will be invested in Pakistan through phases. “Persecution of Shias in Gilgit-Baltistan is a point where the non-state actors can hugely contribute. The role of media is immense in infusing optimism in the J&K discourse. The BJP-PDP shows vision and immense potentialities in fighting the menace of local terror”, he added.
Shri Alok Bansal emphasised on the proactive role which the media and other stakeholders can perform to bring about a change in the prevailing situation in J&K. “There are different stakeholders in J&K. Village Defence Committees (VDCs), media and voluntary organisations can play great role in mitigating the damages arising out of the gradual indoctrination from Islamic radicalism. Separatist voices like Gautam Navlakha and Arundhati Roy spray venom in the name of freedom of speech and expression, the state should somewhere find a democratic recourse to solve these problems. The reinvigoration of caliphate may activate the romantic notions around Islam and make it look cool and acceptable among youth. Sporadic reactions may prove to be counter-productive; there is a pertinent need to project Bharat as a Hindu state”, Shri Bansal said.
Maj Gen (Retd) Dhruv Katoch underscored the need to create a counter-narrative in strategic space. We need an institutional space to create the same. The battle is now of perception management. “We need to remove the old people from Track II diplomacy. We need an organised thinking in this realm. Media and think tanks are unconnected. Mediocrity is somewhat the prevailing rule everywhere. Deradicalising the curriculum will be a great effort in this direction”, he said. In his concluding remarks RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sah Sampark Pramukh Shri Arun Kumar said everyone, whether individually or institutionally, has a role in strategic security of the country. He said it is essential to evolve a consensus between the stakeholders on every issue. “We have to continue to exchange the views and ideas. The correct analysis is on the basis of facts and not on the basis of perception, which is also important. It is vital for us to accommodate the different world views and keep a proactive agenda. And it is also imperative to use the universities in Bharat with full potential,” he said. On behalf of Organiser and Panchjanya, Shri Prafulla Ketkar and Shri Hitesh Shankar thanked all the participants.
Ganesh Krishnan R (With inputs from R Guruprasad)