For many years after Independence, the personality of Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was such that very few people asked questions about India’s foreign policy or her security matters.
India was the leader of the newly independent nations of the world, and was committed to non-alignment. We stayed away from the Cold War, and alliances like NATO. In the process, we alienated countries like the United States amongst other super powers.
Jawaharlal Nehru, President Joseph Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, President Abdul Nasser of Egypt, President Soekarno of Indonesia were the pioneers in promoting non-alignment movement.
Following Independence, India reduced the size of its army, and the effort was to invest money to build what Nehru called ‘The Temples of India’ such as the Bhakra Nangal Dam in different parts of the country, and invest in steel plants to reduce the dependence of the country on imports. India did not feel that it had threats, and was hoping that the United Nations would look after the Kashmir border along the cease fire line
The situation changed in a dramatic manner following the Chinese invasion of Arunachal Pradesh, then known as the North East Frontier Agency in 1962. The Chinese invaded both in the East and the West, and withdrew after fighting bitter battles in the west in Ladakh and in the east in Arunachal.
India learnt that being complacent does not pay. I remember that as a young officer, the Ministry of Defence was making efforts to educate the country on the problems facing the defence of the country. The Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis came into being during that period.
It was also felt necessary to introduce courses that specialised in defence in various universities in the country. The Allahabad University, apart from the educational centres in the metropolitan cities, opened defence wings. Indian newspapers too decided to specialise in defence studies and I had the privilege of conducting the first Defence Correspondence Course in 1967.
The book brought out by the Allahabad University is very useful document, and gives the reader a sound idea of the security problems facing the country. Apart from the problems that we will have to face in our relations with Pakistan and China, with whom we have fought wars, it deals with regional conflicts and the aftermath of India’s peace keeping debacle in Sri Lanka., besides internal security problems.
The book contains presentations from many scholars who have specialised in their areas of study. It has an overview of international developments, and their impact of India. The book argues that the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the last decade of the twentieth century has elevated India position and many feel that India will play a dominant role in international politics.
The chapter on Pakistan by Shalini Chawla deals with the historical background, the covert war strategy followed by Pakistan in Punjab and aiding insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.
Recalling Pakistan’s role in fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, the author says: “The Afghan jihad strengthened the belief in Pakistan that, the fighting through irregulars defeated the Soviet Union, a super power. Hence, India could be defeated in Kashmir. Pakistan has been following the strategy of covert war, but the Afghan War further enhanced the Army /ISI capability to wage it.
After reviewing Pakistan’s nuclear strategy, the author concludes that six decades of Pakistan’s reliance on centrality of covert war strategy is unlikely to change in the coming years, although tactics, intensity and areas of operations may undergo changes.
The support to the resurgency of Taliban in Afghanistan and continuing terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir and selected placed in India, along with the support of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh which impact the northeast states of India are obvious examples of Pakistan's continuance of the covert war strategy.
The author asks the question: “Have we worked out a viable effect based strategy to defeat Pakistan’s covert war strategy?
Relations between India and China have been projected as dramatic ties between a dragon and the elephant. Primarily India and China are rivals and their bilateral relationship is characterised by the zero sum game. As of now, they will cooperate in various fields bilaterally and on the world stage, but in the final analysis one has to wait for the coming together of the two Asian giants.
The book also deals extensively with internal security problems and gives details of the steps that the Government of India has taken to deal with the Naxal problem. The conclusion is that despite the need to focus on counter insurgency operations, the impact of such initiatives on the CPI Maoist has been negligible. The Maoists have successfully defended their base in Dandakarnya and have well oiled systems in place to maintain financial viability and a strong military infrastructure.
Arvind Kumar has given a detailed assessment of the role of science and technology in the country’s national security and the role of the DRDO while Rajendra Prasad talks of science and technology as the force multiplier for India’s security management in the book, India’s National Security in the 21st Century.