India today is passing through interesting and challenging times along its periphery. Pakistan, with its focus on Afghanistan despite the floods, has not lost its balance, and continues fomenting trouble in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. Kayani, with an extended term on American insistence, has redoubled his efforts at keeping India out of any progress in Indo Pak relations. This was evident in routing India’ s aid through UN and disallowing Indian aid workers visas.
The situation in Afghanistan is spiralling out of control for the US and Pakistan is trying its best to keep India out of any political settlement there. This blog has covered this aspect extensively.
China has opened up another front for India with pressure all along the LAC, as evident from a range of its actions in the region – from denying Visas to Kashmiris to asserting its claims on Arunachal Pradesh. The Chinese military developments in Tibet are a cause for concern at Delhi.
Further, the Chinese policy of “String of Pearl with Golden Beads” has put additional strain on relationship between the two countries. Pakistan is the prized golden bead and is always keen to provide collusive support to China. Then there are Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka, where the increasing Chinese influence is giving India sleepless nights. This complicates the two front theory. Thus pressure is being put on India from two and more fronts even without going to war. In addition, there are bound to be proxy pressures mounted on India from the string of pearls. The Indian response mechanism can not overlook this and therefore has to keep all options open and work accordingly to manage its resources.
The discussions in the previous post amply highlight that India will have to maintain its trajectory despite China. Strategically China will continue to talk of peace but the tactical needling to keep India off balance will be its preferred option. Especially, with collusive Pakistani support. The larger aim would be to keep India engaged with Pakistan while maintaining pressure along a score of disputed issues. Ajay Das responding to the previous post has made an interesting but realistic observation:
Few pacifists amongst Indian strategic community often highlight asymmetries in Sino-Indian economic growth rates; military capabilities; infrastructure etc to make Indian leadership believe the futility of competing with China – ohh, we can’t catch up attitude. Let’s remember that POLITICAL WILL which represents NATIONAL WILL in a democracy, is a key component of NATIONAL POWER. China itself is nowhere near to achieving parity with US economic, technological or military might, yet it successfully applies its NATIONAL POWER against the US and other nations – it is more a manifestation of its POLITICAL WILL than the mere summation of its hard and soft elements of power. Let us face it squarely that there is no option for India to compete with China, deter and even overwhelm its anti-India moves. For that to happen, a time-bound capability enhancement program has to be in place and then pursued.This must be preceded by articulating and stating India’s strategic intent most unambiguously.
The text in bold is India’s gravest weakness as articulated in four previous posts. If only India had a strategic decision making structure which could articulate it’s short and long term strategic vision, it would have managed a better periphery – possibly a periphery of peace. This would need intelligent commitment of resources and application of policies in pursuance of National Interests. A strategic relationship with America could hold the key to emerging picture in the sub continent – a possibility which may fructify during Obama’s November visit – if all goes well.
Border management is one of the important aspects in India’s internal as well as external security. The country has 15106 km of land border running through 92 districts in 17 states and a coastline of 7516 km touching 13 states and union territories. India’s total number of islands is 1197 which accounts to a stretch of 2094 km additional border or coastline. This compounds the problems of internal security and border management manifold. Even in peace the commitment and demands on security forces ties down bulk of the security forces in border management.
The Beleaguered Backyard
The rise of fundamentalism and separatist activity in the valley, even though for material gains to Pakistan, is a headache Indian Security establishment would have wanted to wish away at a time when democratic forces were making some headway in stabilising the situation there. The political turmoil as a result of the stone pelters undermines the efforts of the ruling NC / Congress government, exposes the chinks in the political processes and marginalises the masses. The post ” The Larger Game ” has covered this adequately.
The reader participation clearly suggests that concerted political efforts are required to steer the valley towards peace. Simultaneously the security forces have to graduate to the new paradigms of riot control while keeping the insurgency under check.
North East continues to burn and no political solutions appear to be in sight. The issue of Nagalim and resultant blockade of Manipur exposes our claims that situation has been brought under control.
Naxalism has gained potency, courtesy our political and bureaucratic mismanagement, and now stares at us as the biggest threat to National Security. The stories Dantewada Again and NaxalRage cover most of the aspects of management of this bleeding ulcer. The ultimate measure of success, though can only be a qualitative improvement in the quality of life of the people of the Red Corridor, through a composite approach. There is growing evidence that the Naxals are being funded and fueled by our adversaries who are fishing in the troubled waters here.
I dare not enter into the domain of right wing violence and economic wars being unleashed against the country lest it prompts the readers to ask “What is Right”?.
Considering the troubles along the periphery and our beleaguered backyard, we need to get our act together in putting suitable structures and mechanisms at the National and state levels to take stock of these multiple threats. Being strictly matters of National Security, they need to be manned and managed by experts in the field who have spent a life time managing security. Generalists won’t do, Generals will. These structured mechanisms need to articulate and develop suitable road maps to take us out of the mess we are in. Coherently and collectively.
To end this piece from an observation from a very respected analyst would be in order:
Hambantotta was first offered to us by Sri Lanka. We demurred, because of appeasing the Tamils…It is again on offer for Phase 2 devp. Will we agree? I wonder.Pak is something that obsesses us and methinks, quite unfairly at that. I do think we need to move on and not have a bleeding heart if they self destruct, because even when they do, there is precious little we can or would do about it. Kautilya’s realpolitik is indeed needed by us. Our real worry is China in the long term and in the shorter term, getting our smaller neighbours less Pak to bat for us.The real problem is that we do not have cognisable Perspective Planning and we exclude the military from national decision making. Also, there is no follow up on military gains in Counter Insurgency operations (see Kashmir) because politicians distrust the military/do not comprehend national strategic needs and methods. Ends, Ways and Means are neither taught at Mussourie nor Parliament. Cleverness and obfuscation is, laced in endemic corruption and professional immorality. Shame.
It is time we focused on this vital aspect of governance. Knee jerk reactions will keep us mired in trouble from all fronts and burn the backyard – deeper.