The chapter on internal security situation analyses the relevant factors for sustenance of various outfits.
This is the fifteenth volume in the series on India’s National Security Annual Review, which is produced by the Foundation for National Security Research, New Delhi. This series is unique in two ways: first, this presents authoritative assessments on the complex and evolving security environment in India, indicating both challenges and opportunities every year; and second, it serves as a channel for offering the views of experts on important security issues to the policy makers, opinion shapers and scholars interested in security affairs annually.
The first part gives holistic assessment on India’s security environment covering different dimensions- global security trends, external security situation as also internal situation. This volume assesses that the global security environment during the last few years has deteriorated with sharpening of tensions between three major powers — the US, Russia and China.
The National Security Strategy of US released in 2015, indicated the willingness of US to undertake a tougher line with both China and Russia. China concerned over the possible change of USA’s ‘one China policy’, urged the US to honour its commitment to respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on Taiwan and Tibet issue. China’s increasing defence budget in double digits during the last two decades with one exception reflects its intention to adopt a muscular approach. Russian President Putin noted that the potentials for a conflict were growing in the world and the old contradictions were growing ever more acute. He expressed his apprehensions that the current system of global and regional security would not be able to protect the world from upheavals.
In the east, the tension between China and Japan worsened. The Chinese declaration of Air Defence Identification Zone in the East China Sea spurred Japan to change the role of Japan Self Defence Force.
The factors responsible for the growth of global terrorism are analysed in depth. There had been nine-fold increase in the deaths from terrorism from 3329 in 2000 to 32,685 in 2014. The Islamic State (IS) grew out of dissipation of Al Qaeda taking advantage of the situation created by the Syrian civil war escalation. Its financial requirements are mainly met from the smuggling of oil from the oil fields it controls, extortion and criminal activities. This group is attracting recruits from all over the world.
The volume of nuclear weapons remains a source for concern with 15,850 weapons with nine countries of which 4300 were deployed with operational forces. It brings out that the international instruments for combating nuclear proliferation have not been able to deal with this vital security challenge. Both pose serious challenges to the international community.
The chapter dealing with India’s relations with US, China, Russia, Europe, Japan and Pakistan evaluates complex developments taking into account their interests and intents. The Indo-US Strategic partnership was elevated to a higher level in 2014-2015 mainly due to “meeting of minds of the two leaders (Obama and Modi) on global and regional issues of common concerns”. The US promised to support India’s entry in Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG). With Russia, notwithstanding our concerns over arms supplies by Russia to Pakistan, promises to strengthen economic and defence relations were made. India and Japan resolved to take firm steps to deepen defence cooperation. Both remained worried about China’s expanding trans-border military capabilities. The analysis reflects both opportunities and challenges for India.
India’s two neighbours-Pakistan and China- continued to indulge in provocative acts and the relations with them remained tense. Their collaboration in nuclear and defence fields continued to increase. Overall the analysis reflects that there is a need to re-visit India’s approach towards these nations.
The chapter on internal security situation analyses the relevant factors for the sustenance of various outfits. It underlines the growing nexus between the jihadis and various insurgent groups as also the Maoists. All the insurgent groups have external links and sanctuaries in the neighbouring countries. The J&K situation worsened with IS links and increased protests as a result of instigations from across the border.
Terrorist activities in other parts of India too are covered reflecting presence of Al Qaeda and IS supporters. It rightly concludes that the government initiatives have been inadequate to deal with the internal security issues.
The chapters written by experts cover the subjects in detail analysing the dynamics of various factors. Some of the suggestions/conclusions are noteworthy for improving the security situation. Vikram Sood aptly concludes that for India apart from terrorism emanating from Pakistan, the China-Pakistan nexus will remain our main security concern.
The article on the role of private sector in the aerospace and defence industry highlights the problems faced by the private sector. The suggestions to look into the issues connected with the private sectors like indefinite procurement decision timeline with open ended trials, lack of tax incentives, and an inverted duty structure that favours imports over indigenous production deserve to be taken up immediately.
The article on non-traditional threat i.e. climate change and its implications for India’s security covers an important topic, which has so far not received due attention. Chandrashekhar Dasgupta explores the threat that climate change poses to the security of India and concludes that this may be viewed as a threat multiplier. The suggestion to re-adjust priorities in the context of long term planning for national security merits attention.
The chapter on ‘India’s strategic partners: economic dimension’ points out that in recent years India’s economic cooperation has moved from focus on trade to investment led engagement. It suggests that with new mode of cooperation, the strategic partnership offers several opportunities for India’s economic development.
The last chapter provides an interesting ‘architecture’ for India’s external security analysis. The external security environment is divided into four co-centric circles – arcs of hostility, stability, security and global governance. Each arc comprises of nations or organisations having a common approach towards India or common utility for India.
The logic behind this division is to approach the multi-dimensional security environment of India in a thematic manner by adopting common strategies. However this division poses a few challenges. Where to place the non-state actors or Islamic State, which pose a serious security challenge and have presence world-wide?
They are also responsible for exacerbating the internal security situation. They need to be dealt with an effective counter-strategy. Similarly our trade and economic interests often do not coincide with political relations and require dexterous handling of hostile nations. While this framework is important for strategic planning and formulating a national security strategy that would coordinate different ministries and agencies to leverage our advantages, there are issues that need to be discussed among the security and strategic community.
This volume would appeal to policy makers, those interested in security issues and senior scholars looking for serious analysis of fast changing security environment of India. A summary stating the main points and suggestions of experts in the beginning of each article would be convenient for the busy policy makers to quickly grasp the essence of the articles.
The writer is a former deputy national security adviser and a former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.