In the mid-1950s, C.P. Snow had argued that the breakdown of communication between ‘two cultures’ — the sciences and humanities — was “a major hindrance to solving the world’s problems”. A similar dichotomy between security and development appears to have coloured the thinking of policy makers and members of both communities.
The last few decades have witnessed a paradigm shift in the approach towards national security — there has been a shift from traditional and narrow conceptions of security to more expansive and inclusive definitions, encompassing the close nexus between security and development. among other things, these definitions are based on a ‘human rights-centred approach,’ the focus of which has been on the right to economic security.
In the wake of growing extremism, there has been a refocus on the linkage between security and development, signaling a move away from the military, law and order-centric approach to this problem. However, what needs to be noted, in particular by those who advocate the primacy of each approach, is that only a judicious mix of both approaches should underpin the choice of strategies.
For example, in the context of threats posed by Left-wing extremist activities in India, when attacks happen, the Central and state security forces would take appropriate action. Lalgarh and Rajnandgaon are cases in point. But critics would argue that it is the absence of an “effective and inclusive developmental approach” in the past that resulted in the alienation of vast sections of the population, which in turn became an ideal breeding ground for the extremists. Hence, while each side has a point, it is a balance between the two that needs to be maintained — an argument articulated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his address to Chief Ministers on April 13, 2006. In his speech, the PM said that Naxalism was not merely a law and order issue but directly related to underdevelopment. He went on to add that India must find “practical, credible strategies to reconcile the imperatives of development and the imperatives of national security”.
It was soon after his 2006 speech a panel was set up to study the subject and in April 2008 this group submitted its report. It recommended speedy and effective implementation of protective legislation and programmes for “closing the gap between promise and performance” and more importantly, on the need for effective governance.
The government would do well to include the examination and implementation of these recommendations of this report — which are very much in keeping with what the PM had said in 2006. They are also within the ambit of the thrust areas included in the President’s speech of June 4, 2009. The key word of course is speedy implementation of the government’s flagship programmes in under-developed areas.
Nisha Sahai Achuthan is a Visiting Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi