Republic Day is the time to display & review our strength. Organiser presents expert views and analysis on defence coordination and preparedness in the backdrop of complex security environment
Organiser and Panchjanya jointly organised their annual brainstorming ‘Dialogue on Defence’ at Haryana Bhawan, New Delhi, on December 26, 2016—a month prior to the Republic Day. This year’s Dialogue on Defence mainly pondered over the issues related to defence preparedness. The challenges, threats, preparedness, coordination and reforms of the Indian armed forces, paramilitary forces and police force were on the table of discussion.
Capt (retd) Alok Bansal, who anchored the discussion, made introductory remarks on preparedness to take on the emerging threats. He underscored that though the traditional issues of threat from China and Pakistan, cross-border terrorism and rising global radicalism remain the same, the new threats emerging from cyber space demand for better coordination. Among reforms he
elaborated on integration of defence staff and radical changes in intelligence and training especially with reference to paramilitary and police forces.
Shri Anil Kamboj, former IG of Border Security Force (BSF), said due to constant problems in Jammu & Kashmir, we have completely forgotten about north-eastern and Central parts of India where militant-Maoist insurgency poses serious threat to the security. As far as other issues are concerned, we often come up with knee-jerk reactions, the counteract is not based on a proper plan. Col (retd) Karan Kharb, an army veteran and a novelist, said the biggest threat perhaps lies within the country itself, not across the border. Nationalism and patriotism are our moral strength. During 1971, the political opposition hailed Indira Gandhi as Durga and now that kind of magnanimity is nowhere in politics.
Indrani, a journalist with Times of India, said as far as India is concerned, there is no open plan. An analyst in India can write more about China but not about India, because Chinese policies are much more in the public domain than that of India. Former Admiral Sekhar Sinha maintained that nothing about China is hidden and they have very explicit doctrine. Organiser editor Shri Prafulla Ketkar said most of our threats are from American point of view. Unless we identify things with our point of view, we can’t address the real issue. Americanisation of our threat perception is a serious concern.
In the second session on issues of coordination between Army, Navy and Air Force, Admiral (retd) Sekhar Sinha said Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) doesn’t come under any direct control of any Ministry and provides framework
for higher management of defence.
It comes under the chief of staff committee. It came after Subramanian Committee Report and after Kargil conflict. The IDS headquarter was created to be headed by a CDS. Entire defence procurement issues, before reaching the defence procurement council, are actually run through the IDS headquarter. There is Integrated Space Cell that looks after all space based issues, including all the communication satellites launched for all the three services. They also look after joint warfare issues, joint training issues, National Defence Academy and colleges, all come under IDS. Had there been a CDS to these headquarters, almost all the problems regarding the coordination would have been resolved. He suggested that one year training at IDS headquarter should be made mandatory to the senior officers from all the three forces as it would help them to get out of ‘regimentary thinking’ and understand the nuances of coordination.
Shri Alok Bansal said it should be made clear that the Army, Navy and Air Force are all together. They are one unit. One cannot put them in watertight compartments. Only jointly they can achieve their mission of saving the country from foreign aggression. This can be done by creating a proper environment, i.e. training Parliamentarians since policies are formulated by them.
Air Marshal (retd) PK Roy, out of his experience as a Commander, said Andaman & Nicobar Command is a
unified command of Indian Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard. It is the only joint command in India with
rotating three-star Commander-in-Chief from the Army, Navy and Air Force reporting directly to the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. Besides other major security concerns caused, the lack of joint-coordination also incurs financial loss to the public account, he added.
Anil Kamboj spoke about coordination between paramilitary forces and armed forces. Recalling his experience in working in Jammu & Kashmir as a BSF officer, he said initially there was a good coordination between Army and BSF under experienced IPS officers. Later on, it got deteriorated, mainly because of political intervention and lack of coordination. During border fencing, even though the Defence Ministry had good contractors, they were not given contract by the Home Ministry. The Home Ministry went for an open tender and through which inexperienced contractors got the contract and they couldn’t do anything in the initial stages. Due to this the BSF engineers took over the work. In Jammu region, now BSF is not under operational control of Army.
Talking about the lack of coordination between Home Ministry and Defence Ministry, Shri Anil Kamboj said whenever the proposals are send to Home Ministry based on the suggestions made by the Army they are turned down. In a shocking revelation he said it was according to the then Home Ministry that BSF took its controversial stand against Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) during the UPA regime. In a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, I had to say that AFSPA should not be there. He said the statement even surprised the then Army Commander as it was quite surprising to him. Later on I had to apologise him. He revealed that being the IG of BSF in J&K, he was of the opinion that AFSPA should not be repealed. “But I was under the instructions from the Home Ministry,” he said. In 2011,
during second UPA regime, Chidambaram was the Home Minister. The border area development fund is also diverted lacking of coordination, Shri Anil Kamboj added. Responding to the introduction to the session by Alok Bansal on the plight of police men and women in our country and the obsolete law and infrastructure with which they try to deliver justice to Indian masses, Prabha Rao, Senior Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA,) said primary problem with the police in India is the Indian Police Act 1861. This is an old British Act which was immediately formulated after the First War of Independence 1857. Even after seven decades of Independence, the real reform has not been brought in. He further said the police stations in India are understaffed.
Talking about the serious threat posed by crypto-currency, Smt Rao said people, including police personnel do not know that how it is working. A lot of transactions are done not through standard hawala. A lot of criminal money is coming in the form of crypto-currency. The cost of bitcoins have drastically increased in post demonetisation in India.
We don’t have a counternarrative to counter Islamic terrorism. In the name of counternarrative, the Islamic youth are getting more radicalised. Instead of counternarrative, we should talk about an alternative narrative. Policing into border areas is also a serious concern, she added.
Vishal Saraswat, a cyber security expert, in a session on Cyber Security issues, suggested that the Police
should outsource such work to private agencies. The knowledge and communication level of the people who are engaged in cryptography are to be increased. Smt Rao also shared her apprehension about the malwares and suggested to take serious note on the malwares that could be attached to the imported hardwares. The need to make career options in Cyber Security more attractive and incentivised was also highlighted.
RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sah Sampark Pramukh Shri Arun Kumar was also present on the occasion. While concluding the day-long brainstorming session, RSS Akhil Bharatiya
Sah-Prachar Pramukh Shri J Nandakumar said the security threats and challenges that we are facing are extremely grave and to be immediately addressed. The parliamentarians and politicians have to be educated towards this direction. When we consider the suggestions like citizen policing, the over politicisation of the system is a major hurdle before us that defeats the purpose, he added. He also congratulated the speakers who put forward various outstanding suggestions and called for an immediate follow up of the debate.
Shri Prafulla Ketkar and Hitesh Shankar extended vote of thanks to all the participants and speakers.
(Report by Ganesh Krishnan R)