Threats today are complex and interconnected: Chidambaram
The Finance Minister P. Chidambaram delivered the K. Subrahmanyam Memorial Lecture on “India’s National Security—Challenges and Priorities” at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) recently and here are excerpts from the talk: “Until recently, we had taken a very compartmentalised view of national security. Each threat to national security was neatly fitted into one compartment. The first, of course, was a war with Pakistan. That was fitted into a compartment and was meant to be deterred, or defended, through the might of our armed forces. A war with China was and remains unthinkable, and therefore that threat was fitted into another compartment and reserved to be dealt with through a mixture of engagement, diplomacy, trade, and positioning adequate forces along the borders. Beyond Pakistan and China, we did not perceive any external threat to our security. Other threats such as communal conflicts, terrorism, Naxalism or Maoist violence, drug peddling and fake Indian currency notes (FICN) were bundled together under the label “threats to internal security” and were left to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Some threats were not acknowledged at all as threats to national security and these included energy security, food security and pandemics. K. Subrahmanyam was one of the earliest to argue that we should take a more holistic view of the threats to national security.
“A close examination of the threats to national security will reveal that each one of them is connected to one or more other threats. For example, the threat of terrorism is connected to the threat of proliferation of arms, including weapons of mass destruction. The threat to the security of our sea lanes is connected to the threat to energy security. Low-intensity conflicts have a direct bearing on social cohesion. Technology security will be the key to building new institutions. Natural disasters, especially those caused by climate change, can wreck food security. Pandemics and diseases, if uncontrolled, can diminish our capacity to defend the borders against our adversaries or to defeat the militants within the country. National security is, therefore, caught in a complex spider’s web and unless we recognise that each strand of this web is connected to other strands, we would not be able to do justice to our fundamental obligation to protect and defend the security of the nation.
“Defending and promoting national security stands on three important pillars: firstly, human resources; secondly, science and technology; and thirdly, money. “
China invests heavily in security
“High growth in China inevitably translated into higher expenditure on security, and as a logical corollary, a high degree of security. In the same speech, President Hu Jintao said, ‘Military preparedness has been enhanced. The armed forces have greatly enhanced their capability of carrying out their historic mission in this new stage in the new century, and they have accomplished a host of urgent, difficult, dangerous and arduous tasks.’ The results of higher expenditure show up in the hardware. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China has nearly 62 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). China is reportedly developing the JL-2 SLBM for its new strategic submarines, four of which are already sailing while two more are under construction. India has purchased one from Russia that is used for training purposes.
“There are reports that China has commissioned its first indigenously renovated aircraft carrier, unveiled its fifth-generation stealth aircraft (the J-20 and the J-31) and tested an anti-satellite weapon once, and a missile interceptor twice. There is also a report that China has developed a strategic heavy-lift transport aircraft. China has a space lab in orbit and it also plans to launch 100 satellites during its ongoing five-year-plan from 2011-15. Twenty spacecraft will be launched this year, including its third Lunar probe and a manned spacecraft that will dock with China’s space lab. There are indications that by 2020, China may have more than 200 spacecraft in orbit accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s total. These examples are sufficient to emphasise the point that sustained high growth is the key to become, if a country aims to become, a “comprehensive national power”.
“I conclude by asserting that there is no substitute for sustained growth over a long period of time if India should attain the status of, at least, a middle-income country. It is only sustained growth that gives as a chance to tune the growth model in favour of inclusive development. Without growth, there will be neither development nor inclusiveness.”