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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

From Today's Papers - 21 May 2014

 What’s wrong with our national security policy?
Lt Gen S. S. Mehta

Sixtyseven years into Independence and despite four wars, including a humiliating defeat in 1962; matched by a consummate victory over Pakistan in 1971; the Kargil intrusion, the Mumbai terrorist attack, scores of insurgent and internal security movements, India remains cocooned in a yawning void between promise and delivery. If one thought India has had enough time to put the building blocks for a sound national security policy into place, one would be disappointed. On this critical issue, we remain vague and incongruous. On the contrary, it would seem that there is an inexplicable disconnect in policy makers’ minds about the linkages between National Security and National Defence.
National security is an inclusive concept. It demands political savvy, economic security, soft and hard power, focused development and growth of human and material resources and public understanding and support. In contrast, national defence has a narrower meaning. Defence relates to sovereignty, territorial integrity, capability to contain internal disorder, respond to man-made and natural calamities, and have the synergised political will and broad-spectrum capability to undertake multifarious international obligations; even the odd intervention if that becomes necessary in supreme national interest.

Security vs Defence

Security and defence are therefore not interchangeable. Security incorporates defence. Collectively they stand for National Security and both must co-exist. Kautilya in his seminal treatise on statecraft — Arthashastra, warned us around 2,000 years ago that national security challenges to a state demand of it both expertise and force development to successfully face the threats that it may be subjected to. He identified four such threats: The external threat externally abetted, the external threat internally abetted, the internal threat externally abetted and the internal threat internally abetted. Today we face all of them in varying degrees. Yet, a Comprehensive National Security Policy has not been articulated. Even if it does exist in some form, its application on ground is incoherent if not headless. It appears after each episodic disaster we face as a nation that we have learnt no lessons from the past, nor is there continuity of responses that could mitigate the sufferings that follow from such events.

Using the Kautilya analogy, it is instructive to identify the current threats to our security. First, the external threats: Afghanistan and Pakistan are the globally recognised epicentres of terrorism. A spillover to Jammu & Kashmir is a natural fallout and we are in its throes. With China, the International Border and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are still not settled and what has happened in the recent past is a source of concern. In the South, Sri Lanka is reneging on its commitments towards its Tamil citizens and Tamil Nadu is in ferment. Even Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar make no bones about their problems with India and some have equidistanced themselves from their large neighbours. Maldives is in turmoil and is a deepening source of concern for us. The internal threats are no less worrying. Maoism/Naxalism, with its “Red” corridor spanning half a dozen states, besides interstate spats over water sharing are now routine and are increasingly vociferous. Thus, in today’s India, land, water, migration and energy creation, distribution and sharing are all sources of concern. All these can be categorised within the Kautilyan framework of threats and puerile political explanations do nothing to mitigate their wholly deleterious impact on national security.

Non-traditional threats

We also have to face the reality that there are at least six non-traditional threats that negatively impinge on our national security: Water, health and the increasing possibility of pandemics, a debilitating energy crunch, stand-alone education not networked to employability resulting in spiralling levels of unemployment and underemployment, rapidly degrading environment, and not the least, abysmal levels of deployable technology — both indigenous and imported — complete the dismal round up. Manufacturing is now only 16 per cent of our GDP. Even in the much-touted services sector, discerning analysts call us the “labourers of the world”. Clearly we need to transit from a “labour arbitrage” economy to a “knowledge arbitrage” economy. How that is possible is another story but needs to be told —perhaps on a later occasion.

What then are the indicators of a truant National Security Policy? Firstly, is it there at all? If so, where is it? Who makes it? Who disseminates it? Who is calling the shots on Security Policy? What inputs are required to make one, and who provides them? Secondly, if there is one, does Parliament, and through it the common man need to know? If not, why not?

Let us, for a moment, assume there is one. The question that then begs answering is, as to why so many reports written by successive committees under different governments are lying in cold storage? These reports deal with urgent national issues of water sharing, defence, defence production, health, labour, environment, innovation, research and development etc.

Some allied questions also need to be raised. Where is the priority for operational readiness? If push comes to shove who will be held accountable? The Rules of Business suggest it ought to be the Defence Secretary but we all know the grim reality. These rules have never been applied so far. Why are we net importers of security equipment? What happened to the Scientific Adviser’s assertion in 2002 of a 70:30 ratio of indigenous to imported security equipment delivery schedule? It was then, as it is now, a pious statement devoid of a blueprint to execute it. We cannot in any case procure because the loser of a contract bid starts complaining anonymously and the process collapses.

Lack of accountability

Who monitors the National Technology Base? Where are we in the Human Resource Development, innovation, health, farming and agriculture practices’ indices? These are sample questions but serve to amplify a lassitude; that has consumed, like a cancer, our core understanding of what makes a nation work towards taking its place among the hierarchy of effective and powerful nations. The question that nevertheless begs an answer is why do successive governments relegate the demands of National Security to ridiculous levels of apathy?

Glaring shortcomings

An objective scan shows that the current arrangement has glaring shortcomings; some inbuilt, some contrived, some personality and mindset led and some a fallout of inadequate experience, lack of exposure and an inability to “think through” by our apex-level decision makers. The problem gets exacerbated by a near-total lack of a world-class work ethic, including networking among key advisers, staff and concerned ministries that allows for structured as opposed to “gut level” thereby subjective formulation of a focused “India First” national security policy. Consequently, the list of knee-jerk policy responses that we keep making are legion. The key take-home is stark and uncompromising: strategy and policy are two sides of the same coin and a truant national security policy and therefore an absent national security strategy has perversely scarred India’s strategic decision-making matrix.

Look at the tell-tale signs. Around 1.25 billion Indians with a lion’s share of the youngest male and female population in the world; young people with a creativity index better than most nations; people with energy, verve and an infectious we-can-and-we-will:just-give-us-a-chance attitude today find themselves eminently unemployable. A country that has a stunning array of nature’s bounty in perennial snow-fed and peninsular rivers is today faced with rapidly depleting water resources because we are hidebound and sadly dated in rain water/aquifer water harvesting and conservation techniques. The agricultural sector has been in stasis and has witnessed a sharp rise in farmer suicides. Our health, women and child welfare, our basic hygiene and environment conservation standards are at low levels; amongst the lowest in the world and, pretty unsurprisingly, we have a GDP that is declining and dismissive of the benefits emerging from new technology/new methods of wealth creation.

Shortchanging citizens

Although all this might look disconnected, look at the image this has created. Culpable Italian Marines have to be let off, Ms. Khobragade strip-searched, former Presidents frisked, bank accounts of proclaimed cheats released, our fishermen jailed, our prisoners in neighbouring countries beaten to death, soldiers’ throats slit. Armed patrols of neighbours walk in and out, migrants are here to stay, and the haves/have-nots’ divide has become uglier.

Isn't it the first call of a democratically elected, legally constituted government to ensure the security of its citizens? Why is the citizen; the basic building-block of the nation repeatedly and mindlessly shortchanged in all aspects of his/her life and living? It is time that the new political dispensation that comes into power by end May 2014 takes stock and draws a comprehensive, unique, well-thought-through and synergised blueprint to address these deep and abiding concerns. Partisan debates of blame game are now passé. The citizens deserve an appropriate response and it can no longer be left to fate and providence to resolve. (To be continued).

The writer retired as the Western Army Commander. Post retirement, he has served as DG CII and as a member of the National Security Advisory Board.

Tomorrow Wanted: A National Security Commission

The Tribune National Security Forum

With India at a crossroads and a new government taking charge, The Tribune has decided to set up a National Security Forum to ideate, discuss and bring clarity on the imperatives and challenges faced by the country with regard to its security and that of its billion-plus people. The purview of the forum will not be confined to military affairs but encompass the entire gamut of issues that have a bearing on the country's security, such as water, food, health, energy, technology, internal unrest and geo-strategic developments. The aim will be to identify the challenges and find ways to effectively counter these. To begin with, The Tribune will, in the coming months, carry a series of articles from experts analysing various aspects of national security and invite comments from readers. The first in the series begins today — a three-part article that sets the stage for a wider debate on national security. We welcome your comments and suggestions on the articles and the forum. Please send these to the
 Curative plea on Army recruitment filed in SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 20
A third petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the recruitment of general duty soldiers in the infantry and four other divisions of the Army — Artillery, Armed Corps, Bengal Engineer Group and Grenadiers —primarily on considerations of caste, region and religion.

“Such criteria are unconstitutional and are in gross violation of Articles 14, 15 and 16” of the Constitution, which guaranteed equality and protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste or sex, the petition contended.

Dr IS Yadav, a physician from Haryana, has filed the curative petition, the last resort available in the SC, unmindful of the dismissal of his PIL and the subsequent review petition questioning his locus standi.

Citing an apex court judgment delivered by seven judges, he contended that everyone had the right to file a PIL in matters concerning public interest and as such the SC should recall its orders dismissing his PIL and the review plea.

Contending that these five divisions accounted for more than 50 per cent of the total strength of the Army, the petitioner pleaded for a ban on the existing recruitment practice to enable the youth to have an equal opportunity of getting selected on merit.

A Bench comprising Justices TS Thakur and C Nagappan rejected the review petition on April 16 without assigning any reason, while the PIL had been dismissed on
February 11, 2014.

The petitioner said the Army’s recruitment policy “debars 70 per cent of the population” from seeking enrolment in the force which was unconstitutional. “There has been grave miscarriage of justice to those communities whose recruitment is never called for by the Army,” he pleaded.

Caste-based enlisting challenged

    A physician from Haryana has filed a curative petition challenging the recruitment of soldiers in the Army on the basis of caste, region and religion
    On February 11, the SC had dismissed a PIL filed by the petitioner; it also rejected the subsequent review petition on April 16
    The petitioner alleged that grouping of people from a particular region or caste in an Army regiment was unconstitutional
Support Rises for Unified Indian Spec Ops Command
India is likely to establish a unified Special Forces Command as the Defence Ministry is considering a two-year-old recommendation by a select committee to strengthen its “clandestine” fighting ability, a ministry source said.

The decision will be taken up by the new government. Defence Minister A.K. Antony had delayed making a decision on this issue ahead of the May 16 general election.

India’s Special Forces are under different organizations and report to different ministries. Lack of a unified command inhibits its ability to deliver the desired punch at the required place and time, officials said.

“The Special Forces lack logistics, communication resources and the support systems of the type that is needed for carrying out integrated Special Forces operations,” defense analyst Venkataraman Mahalingam said. “Access to intelligence and real-time information by operatives are nonexistent. They have no shared ethos, training, equipment, concepts or doctrines. Individual roles of these forces have not been defined, and as a result they lack super specialization and expertise to take on sensitive assignments.”

Analysts said the ambiguity on the structure of Special Forces stems from a lack of clarity about its role.

An Army official said the Special Forces can be used for strategic tasks, including deterrence against irregular and asymmetric warfare.

“Under the nuclear backdrop, since a conventional war cannot be an option to counter or deter low-level, low-cost, sub-conventional terrorist strikes, Special Forces should constitute the core instrument of our response,” Mahalingam said. “These forces can be employed at the strategic level to achieve the chosen political effect by imposing unacceptable costs by delivering disquieting surgical strikes at a place and time of our choosing.”

In 2012, the Naresh Chandra Committee on Indian National Security recommended creating a Special Operations Command to bring together the existing special forces of the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force and other agencies under a unified command-and-control structure. This would mean strengthening the clandestine and unconventional warfare capabilities of the armed forces, and include the ability to swiftly strike behind enemy lines.

The wish list for arming the Special Force could include stealthy aircraft and naval commando delivery platforms; man-portable sensors; an integrated combat system to facilitate effective command and control; night and day surveillance and information-sharing capabilities; and technologies to help Special Forces detachments maintain surveillance over large areas, gain access to difficult targets, and enable strikes with measured effects and precision, Mahalingam said.

India needs to have special forces for possible use in the Indian Ocean in addition to deployment for strategic interests against China and Pakistan, the Army official said.

Prakash Katoch, a retired Army lieutenant general and Special Forces expert, earlier said, “India needs a three-tier set-up of Special Operations Forces. Tier one should be the Special Forces that are purely deployed strategically on politico-military missions on foreign soil. Tier two should be the Commando Forces that meet military requirements in conventional war as also counterinsurgency and counterterrorist operations within the country. Tier three should be the airborne forces as rapid-reaction forces.”
India’s Muslim Soldiers

Muslims are underrepresented in India’s army. But this should not be allowed to skew recruitment.

India has made significant progress since its inception in 1945. The struggle for independence took its toll in the form of partition, with a religious animosity that continues to this day. Of India’s ballooning population, currently 1.237 billion, 12 percent are practitioners of Islam, meaning that India is home to 10 percent of the world’s Muslims, who form the largest minority in India. Muslims are looked upon with scorn and suspicion by certain other segments of the country. Discrimination in employment, social events, and public places is still quite widespread and commonplace.

In 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh commissioned the Sachar Committee to prepare a report on the socioeconomic and educational situation of India’s Muslims. The report revealed significant prejudice against Muslims in the employment sector. Muslims made up only 2.5 percent of the bureaucracy, even though they constituted almost 12 percent of the population.

Another area where Muslims are underrepresented is the Indian Army. Then Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. J. J. Singh denied there was a headcount of actively enlisted Muslim soldiers, maintaining that would be a gross violation of the secular nature of the army. The high command was further incensed by the suggestion it increase Muslim representation by introducing quotas. Consequently, there is no official census showing the number of Muslim soldiers enlisted in the Indian Army.

There is, however, an unofficial number, and it is revealing. According to CNN IBN’s Minority Report, of India’s one million soldiers only 3 percent are Muslims, or roughly 29,000 soldiers in all. And if the troops serving in the Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry (JAK LI), are subtracted (50 percent of whom are Muslim troops), that percentage is much lower. With only 29,000 fit for the army out of 150 million Muslims in the country, the ambiguous silence of the government tends to validate the suspicion of discrimination.

But before jumping to any conclusions, it is prudent to consider several facts. The Indian Army conducts recruitment drives, called rallies. Recruitment criteria, although differing from place to place, include a large pro rata quota for regional populations irrespective of religion. The recruiting officers are summoned from all over the country and randomly assigned to different locations, thus eliminating any regional animosity. However, there are no such rules for the officer cadre. And in fact Muslim officers have graduated from the country ‘s three army academies and have gone on to become high ranking officers. The Indian Army has had eight Muslim major generals so far, while the Air Force was once commanded by a Muslim air chief marshal. The Indian Military Academy has had one Muslim commandant, while the National Defense Academy has had two.

True, the representation of Muslim soldiers and officers may seem comparatively lower than those of other religions. Historically, it is believed that pre-independence Muslim recruitment was primarily done from Punjab, North West Frontier and Balochistan, all of which are part of Pakistan today. Thus, with partition, all regiments belonging to those regions went over to Pakistan..

Just as Muslims are under-represented in the army, so are the Bengalis, Biharis, Oriyas, South Indians or Gujaratis. And just as Sikhs are over-represented, so are the Jats, Dogras, Garhwalis, Kumaonis, Gurkhas, Marathas and others. The Indian army’s recruitment pattern was set 160 years ago by India’s 1857 uprising. Shocked by the revolt, the British army adopted a recruitment strategy that punished those groups that rebelled against them and rewarded the ones that stayed trustworthy. Because Muslims of Awadh, Bihar and West Bengal led the uprising, the British army stopped hiring soldiers from these areas. Also blacklisted from these places were high-caste Hindus whose regiments in Bengal were also mutineers. The Indian Army follows a regimental system based on region and caste, as seen in many Commonwealth nation armies of today. So there is a Sikh Regiment, the Maratha Light Infantry, Kumaon Rifles, the Gorkhas, and many more. These regiments usually comprise soldiers belonging to a particular caste or region, and were introduced by the British based on their “Martial Races” theory. This is why there is no pure Muslim regiment in the force, save the Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry, which does comprise 50 percent Muslim troops. A similar argument can be made for people from the state of Andhra Pradesh or West Bengal, which likewise do not have regiments based on their geographical location.

The Indian Army is one of the only public bodies in India that has not been skewed by politics or religion, which is partly to thank for the strong reputation it commands today. Recruitment should remain on the basis of merit only. Petty notions of religious inequality should not be allowed to tarnish this.
MoD, services must be integrated, says V K Singh
It's time India appointed a chief of defence staff, former Army chief and newly elected Ghaziabad MP Gen V K Singh tells TOI's Ayaskant Das. Excerpts.

You almost equalled Modi's victory margin of 5.7 lakh votes in a seat where BJP was virtually written off over Rajnath Singh's perceived 'non-performance'. How did you effect this turnaround?

My single-minded objective was to reach out to the 24.2 lakh people in the constituency. For me, this was fresh soil that I had to cultivate. People turned out in large numbers because they wanted change. There was wanted change. Ther hope in what Modi promised. All these combined to make a difference.

It's expected you'll be part of the defence ministry. Do you think it's time to create the post of chief of defence staff?

A chief of defence staff (CDS) is needed. You need one point where all defence needs can be handled holistically. We have had objections in this from the Air Force, etc, for some time. I think those were specious arguments. I feel a CDS is needed. We need to formulate how this organization will perform. Ours has to be an indigenous model.

Are you in favour of integrating the ministry and the Services?

It must be integrated. The world does it that way. Together with a combined chief of defence services. You need expertise. You don't need a chap coming in from, say , postal services to spend four to five years in the ministry and go back to the postal services. What expertise does he have? He doesn't even understand which end of the gun fires.

Why did you oppose Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag's appointment as the new Army chief? Did you think it was a political move?

The name was announced two months early. What was the hurry? Now, a question mark's placed on the man. What people are going to say is that he must have obliged the Congress government. This is avoidable. By taking such a decision, you show that there is political interference.

Will that be a point of discomfort between the Army and the new government?

I don't know. Let government be formed. So many things are going on. The man in question is Ravi Dastane, who's been denied justice. On June 1, 2 and 3, 2012, the vacancy existed for an Army commander. Dastane was senior-most at the time. Why wasn't he promoted?

Finally, what was Modi's role in bringing you into politics?

I came into politics myself. Modi asked me to contest from Ghaziabad, not my area, and show him the results. I did.

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