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Fresh Notes
National Security and its study in India
By Air Cmde Jasjit Singh (retd)
One of the most commonly articulated cliché that one hears these days, especially among the educated elites, professes that national security in the past used to be associated only with military security; but now it is far beyond mere military security and covers almost every facet of national activity down to human and individual security of the citizen. This discovery apparently can be traced back at best, to the end of the Cold War, and the strategic and security literature of the Western countries which our academia and mandarins rushed to adopt. Even the concept of sovereignty has been under a scanner but without any suggestion of what organisational principle or structure would replace it. Some even go to the extent of claiming that international borders no longer carry any value or validity in an age of globalisation (which includes terrorism but does not extend to the military power or police organisations of sovereign nation states). One could go in this strain. One can also cite the Indian model where comprehensive security has taken precedence over sectoral approaches though this view has been losing ground to more esoteric concepts. Nonetheless, two questions must be addressed first: how and why did this line of thinking develop; and what are we trying to make secure in our country when pursuing national security?
As regards the first we need to recall that the developed, industrialised and civilised nations were at war almost throughout the 20th century and the two super powers of the period had waged over 300 proxy wars in the developing countries deprecatingly termed as the Third World.
As regards the first we need to recall that the developed, industrialised and civilised nations were at war almost throughout the 20th century and the two super powers of the period had waged over 300 proxy wars in the developing countries deprecatingly termed as the Third World.
   OTHER COLUMNS But the Euro-Atlantic-Pacific region (including China and Japan) from Vancouver to Vladivostok had remained without war primarily as a consequence of 67,000 nuclear warheads, 94,000 tanks, over 70,000 combat aircraft, millions of missiles of various types and so on. The security of the ‘civilised’ developed world rested squarely on military power; but Indian security rested on improving the quality of life of our people.
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The collapse of the Soviet Union truly ended the militarised peace of the Cold War. All these affluent states now turned to argue for a change in the concepts of national security waiting for a ‘peace dividend’ that never materialised. And our elites adopted the revised definitions without a question. One fall-out was that in the eyes of the civilian academics, government and political elites, military and its utility was seen to be marginal and hence bulk of the army was employed for a quarter century in counter-terrorism to compensate for the fragility and failure of the appropriate state institution, the police forces. Perhaps the fact that the military power of India has succeeded beyond popular conception and no war has been imposed on us through aggression for four decades (barring the very limited action in Kargil in 1999 which also was believed to be terrorists rather than military led!) has influenced the downgrading of military security. This is not to deny or reject the concept that national security should not focus on human security and rights, and better quality of life and myriad non-military aspects. If you go back as far as Manu Smriti, you will find that the happiness and prosperity of the people was the prime Dharma (duty) of the ruler; and the people had the right to change the ruler if he failed in this duty. But while keeping the evolution of the ‘new concepts’ of security in mind, we must address the second question: what do seek to secure? This requires a deeper examination of the concept of national security even in affluent countries
 
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