The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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NATIONAL SECURITY: MILITARY ASPECTS By K.K. Nayyar, B.D. Jayal, V.K. Singh, R.B. Suri, Afsir Karim, Rupa, Rs 395

The term national security has been borrowed by Indian security analysts from their American counterparts. It broadly means securing a country’s long term objectives — an amalgam of military strategy, politics, economics, diplomacy and social security. In the book under review, five senior military officers from the navy, the air force and the army chalk the trajectory of India’s military policy within the wider aspects of statecraft.

The national security policy partly involves envisaging and constructing possible situations that might emerge in the future. National security analysts are also supposed to portray how an immediate threat might transform itself in the coming decades. That is, national security needs foresight and planning, with a vision of at least 25 to 50 years.

The authors have asserted that instead of being Pakistan-centric, India must widen its strategic vision in order to meet the more dangerous challenges in the coming years. China remains India’s long term threat. China’s national security policy is geared to keep India on the edge. By transferring missile, arms and nuclear technology, besides providing diplomatic support, China is encouraging Pakistan against India. India’s engagement with the Pakistan problem will enable China to spread its influence across southeast Asia. To block India’s “Look East policy”, China is providing military and maritime support to Myanmar. The Chinese naval base at Coco Island already threatens India’s position in the Andamans. A further threat comes from China’s building on its logistical infrastructure.

China’s modernization of its armed forces is supplemented with state-of-the-art weapons systems supplied by a cash-strapped Russia. The ongoing economic boom in China has facilitated this technology purchase and even if India spends 5 per cent of its gross domestic product, it will not be sufficient to match China’s military might. Currently, India spends less than 3 per cent of its GDP on defence.

In case of a confrontation between India and China, we can expect no help from the United States of America. The US’s economic stakes in China are significant and China’s $100 billion trade with the US rules out any adverse relations between them. So Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s rhetoric about India being the US’s strategic partner and natural ally does not hold water at least in the case of a probable India-China clash.

The increase in defence expenditure is sure to come under fire from the opposition in India, where developmental issues still need to be addressed. But in the world of realpolitik, it is important to understand the strategy matrix and the reason why our neighbours and other regional powers are spending so much on their defence. This book is an eye-opener for our complacent public policy-makers and the intelligentsia.

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