Pune meet drives a hard look at India’s national security | pune news | Hindustan Times
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Pune meet drives a hard look at India’s national security

Centre urged to strengthen cyber security, improve civil-military relations and counter Islamist extremism. Pune Dialogue on National Security formed to assist in preparing a comprehensive National Security Policy has highlighted concerns and solutions.

pune Updated: Jun 29, 2017 14:57 IST
Abhay Vaidya
Border Security Force (BSF) soldier standing guard during a night patrol near the fence at the India-Pakistan International Border at the outpost of Akhnoor sector, about 40 km from Jammu.
Border Security Force (BSF) soldier standing guard during a night patrol near the fence at the India-Pakistan International Border at the outpost of Akhnoor sector, about 40 km from Jammu.(HT Photo)

Over the last two years, India’s leading security experts have been participating in closed door deliberations in Pune on important issues and concerns of national security. These freewheeling discussions under Chatham House Rules were hosted by the Pune International Centre (PIC) and key recommendations emerging from the Pune Dialogue on National Security (PDNS) were presented to the PMO and important members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet.

As part of its initiative to empower citizens, and inform and enlighten them on key issues of national security, the PIC prepared a report of the proceedings for public dissemination. Here’s a gist of the PDNS deliberations:

India’s cybersecurity is extremely poor

Issue at Hand: The Centre and states are rapidly adopting cyber technology and asking their ministries and departments to go online. However, the overall cybersecurity environment is extremely poor and needs to be addressed urgently. India is lagging in the creation of a workforce of IT security professionals. On the lines of the Nuclear Deterrence Doctrine, India needs a Cyber Deterrence Doctrine as a strategy against cyber attacks from other nations. Other countries need to be aware of our cyber offensive capabilities as part of the Cyber Deterrence Doctrine. While Iran developed very good cyber capabilities after it was hit by Stuxnet, China has People’s Liberation Army units to create high quality malware.

Recommendations: The poor standards of cyber security in India must be addressed urgently. India can accelerate her cyber security journey by establishing three to four cyber security clusters with close cooperation between the government, industry and academia. Pune with its vibrant ecosystem of IT and cyber security companies, academic institutions and defence and government labs is willing to take the lead and has already established such a cluster. Government funding and technology support is required to develop this first nascent cluster so as to set up a national template for further replication. India has a huge potential in cyber space and can create a culture by organising the best cyber security competitions, hackathons and other cyber fests.

Deal with Islamic radicalisation and extremist violence firmly

Issue at Hand: According to the report, the goal of the Pakistan State — more so, its Army leadership — in collaboration with certain Islamist states “is nothing less than to bring about the destruction of India and the conquest of India, and to that end, to impair and damage India by as many and whichever ways feasible”. States promoting radicalisation and violent extremism include countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Pakistan. India has been the focus of a “premeditated, concerted, abundantly-resourced attack planned by expert practitioners of statecraft and state-destabilisation. The radicalisation and violent extremism seen in the country is not unplanned or sporadic or merely locally-inspired but a collaboration between external and internal entities”.

Recommendations: As the first step towards tackling this problem, the institutions of the state and civil society must comprehend that a meticulously-planned and heavily-resourced effort originating in Pakistan with abundant funding from some Arab nations is underway to destabilise India. This needs to be countered at the national, state and district level. The Indian Government in concert with civil society within and outside India needs to work with the US Government to affect effective strategies to control misuse of cyberspace channels by Islamist extremists. Government also needs to take steps to prevent anti-India propaganda and misuse of mainstream media in India. Rather than ‘party spokespersons’, trained government spokespersons should participate in TV debates to convince the public on various aspects of national policy and steps taken.

Comprehensive National Security Policy highlights
India’s leading security experts met behind closed doors in Pune to discuss national security concerns. These freewheeling discussions, under Chatham House Rules, led to key recommendations emerging from the Pune Dialogue on National Security (PDNS). Here are some of the main recommendations on key topics.
INDIA’S CYBER SECURITY
Current state: Extremely poor
Recommendation: Establish three to four cyber security clusters with close cooperation between the government, industry and academia.
ISLAMIC RADICALISATION
Current state: Certain Islamist states focus "is nothing less than to impair and damage India by as many and whichever ways feasible".
Recommendation: Indian Government in concert with civil society within and outside India needs to work with the US Government to affect effective strategies to control misuse of cyberspace channels by Islamist extremists.
NUCLEAR DOCTRINE
Current state: Demand is to re-examine the efficacy of two major attributes of India’s nuclear doctrine: Credible Minimum Deterrence and No First Use (NFU).
Recommendation: India must consider Pakistan’s acquisition of eight Jin-class missile submarine from China which will most likely be equipped with nuclear weapons. In the event of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, what would be the roles of China, Russia and the United States? These need to be analysed.
MARITIME SECURITY
Current state: India has shown gross neglect of her maritime interests, assets and potential.
Recommendation: India needs to urgently conceive a national strategy for maritime security. Promote ship-building and ship-repair in a big way. Develop better technologies and better capabilities for the enhancing Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA).
CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONSHIP
Current state: One of the major aspects of civil-military strife in India is "the contempt and ignorance amongst many civilians about the uniform".
Recommendation: Implement the key recommendations of the Arun Singh Committee, K. Subramanyam Committee Report and the Naresh Chandra Task Force to improve civil-military relationship.
WATER
Current state: India has a little less than 4% of the world’s area, almost 17% of its population and about 4% of the world’s fresh water. The per capita water availability has been reducing since Independence.
Recommendation: With regards to the international sharing of water, India can use the Indus waters "as a tool of coercion and intimidation, if needed". India needs to re-look at the water treaties with Nepal and Bangladesh and re-construct water management approaches and move towards a basin management approach.

Uphold NFU (No First Use) strategy of India’s nuclear doctrine

Issue at Hand: In recent years there have been several writings suggesting and demanding a revision of India’s nuclear doctrine. The demand is to re-examine the efficacy of two major attributes of India’s nuclear doctrine: Credible Minimum Deterrence and No First Use (NFU). Issues to consider are the close partnership between China and Pakistan on strategic matters, the possibility of terrorists using nuclear weapons and Pakistan’s claim to have developed theatre or tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) to counter a massive Indian attack.

Recommendations: India must consider Pakistan’s acquisition of eight Jin-class missile submarine from China which will most likely be equipped with nuclear weapons. India’s nuclear doctrine needs to be looked at from the context of a global strategic environment which is very different today from the time India decided to become a nuclear weapons state. In the event of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, what would be the roles of China, Russia and the United States? These need to be analysed. The best option to counter Pakistan’s threat of using TNWs is to make massive retaliation more credible through credible signalling. India could also make a horror film on the consequences of a nuclear war in the subcontinent. Such a film could drive the common man in both countries realise the futility of nuclear weapons and percolate up to the decision makers.

Extremist

Do not neglect maritime security

Issue at Hand: India’s maritime security interests include protecting the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; promoting safety and security of Indian citizens; fishing, shipping, trade, energy supply assets and resources in the maritime domain. It includes the pursuit of peace, stability and security in India’s maritime zones; maritime neighbourhood and other areas of maritime interests. India’s 97 per cent trade comes from sea. Unfortunately, India has shown gross neglect of her maritime interests, assets and potential. It is necessary for India’s decision makers to understand that the navy constitutes just one pillar of the larger edifice of maritime security. Without overall strategic planning, India’s maritime power “will remain hollow and vulnerable”.

Recommendations: India needs to urgently conceive a national strategy for maritime security. Adopt a “whole of government approach” for the development of India’s maritime domain. Given the emerging salience of blue economy, create a full-fledged ministry of maritime affairs under the charge of a cabinet minister. Promote ship-building and ship-repair in a big way. The market for global ship-repair is estimated at $10-12 billion. Singapore’s share is 20% and India has a share of only $100 million. Strengthen Maritime Police Force and promote cruise shipping and domestic shipping. Provide greater impetus for the development and upgradation of ports and associated industries. The Sagarmala project is still quite a distance away. Develop better technologies and better capabilities for the enhancing Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA).

Repair civil-military relationship

Issue at Hand: Something is seriously wrong with civil-military relationship in India and this needs to be addressed with all the seriousness it deserves. One view holds that the role of political leaders on issues relating to the military has been hijacked by the civil servants and this has resulted in bureaucratic control of the armed forces; not civilian political control. For smooth civil-military relations, the political leadership, civil bureaucracy and military have to have space for working in harmony for national security. India is the only country in the world where the service headquarters have been kept out of the Ministry of Defence. One of the major aspects of civil-military strife in India is “the contempt and ignorance amongst many civilians about the uniform”.

Recommendations: Implement the key recommendations of the Arun Singh Committee, K. Subramanyam Committee Report and the Naresh Chandra Task Force to improve civil-military relationship. A more regular and formalised interaction between the Prime Minister and the three service’s chiefs is necessary. There have to be many cross-postings and a specialists cadre, especially for functions like acquisitions and procurements. There has to be an emphasis on specialists manning the Ministry of Defence. Civilian bureaucrats need a better understanding of the armed forces to achieve this, create a specialised cadre like the Foreign Service. It is necessary that civil-military relationship is based on mutual respect.

Sharing of Water

Issue at Hand: India’s population is projected to rise to about 1.5 billion by 2040, about half of whom will live and work in urban agglomerations. The UN Habitat Report projects that by 2030, 14 urban clusters will contribute 40% of the GDP and urban India will be the site for 80% of economic production. Dependable supplies of water would be required to grow, manufacture, procure and distribute the vast requirements of food and non-food items and generate the energy required on a dependable and sustainable basis. India has a little less than 4% of the world’s area, almost 17% of its population and about 4% of the world’s fresh water. Clearly, there is stress in many parts of India when it comes to water availability. The per capita water availability has been reducing since Independence: from 5,000 cubic metres per person in 1950 to only 1,545 cubic metres per person today. This will go down further to 1,100 cubic metres per person . In another 20 years, almost 45-50% of India’s population will be in 84 urban centres in the entire country. This is quite alarming. India’s total water storage capacity is no better than that of Ethiopia. Russia, USA, Brazil and China have a far better storage capacity.

Recommendations: The mapping of water demand needs to be done on a watershed, sub-basin and basin-wise manner to better understand and then address water availability, utilisation and distribution issues. Agricultural productivity per unit of water in India is lower than other developing countries. We need to introduce better irrigation techniques to conserve water. Excavating shallow wells is a good way of conserving water. Grey water can be recycled in all housing societies in urban areas. Bioremediation in septic tanks is a good idea and should be made mandatory. Nashik and Nagpur have been supplying treated waste water to power stations. Inter-basin shifting of water should be done wherever feasible. With regards to the international sharing of water, India can use the Indus waters “as a tool of coercion and intimidation, if needed”. India needs to re-look at the water treaties with Nepal and Bangladesh and re-construct water management approaches and move towards a basin management approach. This will shift the diplomacy in the region from a bilateral to multilateral approach.