Since in this election season, the government of India has asked the voters to judge its five-year term on the touchstone of national security, FORCE decided to do just that. Last month we looked at external defence, in view of the controversial Balakot strikes by the Indian Air Force. The unprecedented airstrikes raised several questions including on the prudence of using air power in furtherance electoral objectives (as opposed to national objectives). FORCE visits the issue once again to draw a list of key lessons that emerge from this clear adventurism.
The FORCE cover story takes an overview of internal security across theatres — from north to northeast through the jungles of central India. The measure that FORCE has chosen to judge performance in this crucial area is testing achievements against the declaration of intent made before the elections — in this case, the manifestos of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, both 2014 and 2019. For good measure, we also evaluate the manifesto of Congress, the primary challenger to the government.
What emerges is that despite the wielding of a big stick, internal security, like external defence, continues to be adrift. The Naga peace process has started to unravel and the Kashmir situation is spiralling down the abyss. Under the circumstances, it is only in the area of Left-Wing Extremism that the government seems to have made some progress. However, even here, it seems to be moving tardily with socio-economic measures to capitalise on the successes of the security forces. Given how this movement has lingered on for decades with phases of extreme violence interspersed with temporary calm, it is important that every such period be made use of by reaching out to the most marginalised so they know that the government has a benevolent heart too; not just spiked boots.
Perhaps, the next government will pay heed.
In other stories, we have a comprehensive update on Indian military’s ISR capabilities, the modernisation of airports, air to air weapons, as well as expert’s comments on Dhanush artillery system among others.
FORCE regular Maj. Gen. Mrinal Suman returns after a brief sojourn with an update on the strategic partnership model, which he says is as good as dead. According to him, the government has once again succumbed to the lobbying by the public sector companies to deny even restricted opportunities to the private sector.
Given the challenges in every sector, the next government will have its task cut out. Hopefully, it will have the vision and intention of rising to the challenge. In hope we live.