On 29th September 2016, Indian Army had conducted surgical strikes across the LoC in PoK and demonstrated to the world that India, which always practices restraining, can also show power when needed. These days, National Security is one of the most active topics of debates in India. But the absence of a clear definition of National security and its understanding among the common people gives a great scope to certain groups to propagate any event or act as a threat to National Security. There is a need to understand that National security of a country is not something that can get breach as routinely and easily as we hear these days.
In the 21st century, the National Security of a country is not limited to security arrangements and security assets alone. Today economic and diplomatic strength have become more dominating factors than others. PM Modi has a better understanding of this changing reality. He has earned an enormous appreciation worldwide for his economic reforms and foreign policy. During the last four and a half years of his tenure, we never heard a single statement of financial crunch from the MoD or any other security-related agencies. There is a visible optimism in the defense and security ecosystem of the country. For the first time, the government is reaching out to industry, MSMEs/Startups and facilitating their participation in the defense supply chain through different creative mediums and platforms.
India is going to release its National Security Strategy (NSS) document very soon, its draft is in the final stage. It was a long pending demand of security agencies and practitioners. This year, in the month of April, Modi government has set up the Defense Planning Committee, a dedicated structure to facilitate the comprehensive planning for the defense forces and to prepare the draft of National security strategy. The inaugural meeting of Defense Planning committee was held in the month of May, under the chairmanship of NSA Ajit Doval, which was joined by all three service chiefs, the foreign secretary, chief of integrated defense staff, the defense secretary, and expenditure secretary.
It is interesting to note that the need for establishing structured processes and institutions related to National Security was first felt during the previous NDA government days only. On 19th November 1998, former Prime Minister late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee had established the National Security Counciland appointed late Mr. Brajesh Mishra as India’s first NSA. The first National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) constituted in December 1998, produced a draft Nuclear Doctrine for the country in 2001, a Strategic Defence Review in 2002 and a National Security Review in 2007. Since then the NSAB board meets frequently and shares its recommendations with the National Security Council.
Earlier during the UPA time, in February 2014, on the sidelines of DefExpo, our then Defense Minister AK Antony was giving the daunting statements about the financial inability of the Indian government to proceed any major projects including the controversial Rafale Deal. We have seen the worst phase of national security under the long UPA regime. A number of cases on bribery in some major defense deals, an absence of crucial reforms related to defense procurement/manufacturing and modernization of armed and police forces, and the long pending lists of security agencies demands, reflect the previous governments’ level of sincerity towards the defense and security of the nation.
The difference in the Approach lies in the Core Philosophy
The difference in the approach of BJP and Congress led governments in national security-related matters lies in the core philosophy of their party’s founding members. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was the firm supporter of preparedness of every Individual for the defense of the nation and he considered the country’s defense policy a complement to its foreign policy and internal policies. He subscribed to the doctrine that the preparedness to strike is the best defense policy and he strongly advocated the modernization of the country’s army and the introduction of new technologies in the security domain.
While Nehru was of the opinion that Armed forces were not required for India and according to some contemporary articles when India’s First Commander-in-Chief Gen Sir Robert Lockhart shared his defense plan for the growth of armed forces to Nehru, he got annoyed and said “We don’t need a defense plan. Our policy is non-violence. We foresee no military threats. You can scrap the army. The police are good enough to meet our security needs.”
From 2014, things have changed a lot! A new level of confidence is visible in our security and intelligence agencies. Prime Minister Modi’s approach is a perfect balance of security and development.
The internal security situation in India is affected by terrorism and cross-border terrorism in J&K, Insurgency in North East India and Left Wing Extremism in certain remote parts of the country.
Fighting the Red Terror
The peace, security and economic transformation of North East India are the top priorities of PM Modi. The shift from ‘look east’ to ‘act east’ is not merely a symbolic change; Modi government has acted sincerely on this vision. In August 2015, PM Modi signed the historic Nagaland peace accord with the rebels of NSCN (National Socialist Council of Nagaland), a move which ended six decades-long insurgencies in Nagaland.
Due to the continuous efforts of security forces in parallel to centre government’s connectivity, infrastructure and other development projects in North East India, the numbers of insurgency-related incidents and causalities of civilians and security forces are reducing substantially. Today, Tripura and Mizoram are virtually free from the insurgency. From 31st March 2018, the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) has been removed from Meghalaya and its coverage has been reduced in Arunachal Pradesh. This year, Modi government has revised a two decades old ‘surrender cum rehabilitation’ policy of North East states and increased the stipend of the surrenderer from Rs.3500 per month to Rs.6000 and the one time grant from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 4 lakh, due to which the numbers of youths returning to the mainstream from militancy have increased substantially.
The connectivity was the key pain area of North East states for so many years and insurgent groups have taken great advantage of the situation. The longest ruling party of India, Congress has deliberately neglected the entire North East region for their well calculated political gains. When PM Modi took the charge he laid out an ambitious connectivity vision for the North East states, which he often referred as ‘Five Ways’ of highways, railways, roadways, waterways, and I-ways (internet connectivity). A few days back PM Modi has inaugurated Sikkim’s first airport. The Pakyong Airport is crucial for the strategic point of view too as it lies approximately 60 km away from the India-China border. Out of 24 airports and helipads identified under the Phase II of RCS (Regional Connectivity Scheme) UDAN, 22 are in the North East states.
On the other hand, the Indian railway has also set a target to bring all state capitals of the northeast region on rail map by 2022. Frequent visits of Centre government ministers including Prime Minister himself, for monitoring the status of key infrastructure and development projects have boosted the morale of the local people too, which is a crucial factor in the fight against the insurgency. In 2017, the States of Sikkim, Mizoram, and Tripura faced no insurgency-related violence while the numbers of insurgency incidents have declined substantially in Assam (56%), Nagaland (67%), Manipur (28%) and Meghalaya (59%) as compared to 2016.
PM Modi’s development focused approach is yielding remarkable results in LWEs districts across the country. In 2015, the Modi government has launched a comprehensive ‘National Policy and Action Plan’ with a zero-tolerance approach to Maoist violence. In September 2017, centre government has launched Special Central Assistance (SCA) scheme for 35 most LWE affected districts in 7 states, which contribute to more than 90% LWE violence in the country. The goal of the SCA Scheme is to fill the critical gaps in public infrastructure and services in these districts. In these selected 35 LWE districts, so far, 2400 mobile towers have been installed; about 4500 km of roads have been built, and 8 Kendriya Vidyalaya, 5 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, 15 ITIs, and 43 Skill Development Centres have been set up. Between April 2015 and December 2017, the government has opened about 430 new bank branches and 1,045 ATMs these 35 LWE districts. As a result of all these efforts, 44 out of 126 districts have been removed from the list of LWE-affected areas and about 3,380 Maoists have surrendered from 2014 to 2017.
The figures about the scale of development projects in Maoist affected districts mentioned in Home Ministry’s annual report are astonishing! The report highlights that Modi government has taken significant measures to strengthen state governments and their security agencies’ capabilities, this includes electrifying remote villages, accelerating roads, bridges and other infrastructure related projects in LWE districts, providing needed backup to state’s security and intelligence agencies and facilitating inter-state coordination etc.
According to the home ministry’s latest stats, in 2017 there was a 20% reduction in Maoist violent incidents and a 34% reduction in LWE related deaths in comparison to 2013. The report has also mentioned that PM Modi’s demonetization drive, which opposition is criticizing till now, has given a big blow to the funding sources of Maoist nexus which was spanning across the country.
Jammu and Kashmir
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security first approach has boosted the morale of security agencies in J&K. During the last four and half years, due to the government’s iron-fist strategy toward militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, numbers of militants getting killed are continuously increasing from 110 in 2014 to 213 in 2017. In the last four years of Modi government, some 600 militants have been killed, these numbers are much higher than the UPA I and UPA II times.
During the Atal ji’s government in 2003, the Indian Army has launched ‘Operation Sarp Vinash’ in which 64 terrorists belonging to different jihadist outfits have been killed. In 2017, the Indian army has launched ‘Operation All Out’ to flush out militancy in J&K until there is complete peace in the region. The Operation All Out combined forces of Army, CRPF, J&K Police, BSF, and IB. As an outcome, last year some 213 militants have been killed and 82 youths have returned to mainstream and abandoned militancy. This year, the government has also given the nod to deploy NSG commandos in Kashmir for anti-terror operations.
The culture of stone pelting on Indian Army and Police forces was started in 2008, during the UPA government days, which they called as the new dimension of Kashmir insurgency. But the UPA has deliberately treated this new form of insurgency as simple protests and even stopped security forces to take desired steps in defense. Modi government, on the other hand, has taken decisive actions against stone-pelting incidents and allowed security forces to take stringent moves to control this new form of insurgency backed by Pakistan’s ISI.
The ongoing militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is linked with infiltration of terrorists from across the border. A few days back, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has inaugurated two pilot projects of smart fencing along the Indo-Pak International Border in Jammu region. These pilot projects are a part of the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS)programme which was launched in 2015 to revive the existing border security infrastructure of the country with the help of advanced technology.
Outlining a development focused vision in the most turbulent part of the country was not an easy task for PM Modi. In the month of May, on the occasion of the inauguration of Hydro Electric project in Srinagar, PM Modi has said: “Let all of us focus our entire energy only on one thing and that is the development of Jammu & Kashmir. There is only one solution for all the problems, for all the disputes and differences and it is development and development alone.”
In this year’s budget PM Modi has announced a special assistance package of Rs. 80,068 crore for the development of infrastructure of Jammu and Kashmir. The package consists of 63 Projects relating to 15 Ministries and Departments. In Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh region, the projects of building IITs, IIMs, modernization of primary health care centres and district hospitals, construction of new national highways, tunnels and a number of initiatives for providing employment to youth have been taken up. In the month of November, the governor has decided to conduct municipal body and panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir. The state will have municipal elections after 13 years and panchayat elections after 8 years. It is a much-needed move for the development of the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the leadership courage to do what is required even in the face of stringent criticism. A country cannot deter terrorism; it has to fight with it and this involved fighting terrorism diplomatically too.
In the last four and half years, India has attained success in Isolating and exposing sanctuaries of terrors in our neighborhood on key international forums. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF, an inter-governmental body) has also placed Pakistan on the grey list for failing to curb terror funding.
Whether it’s PM Modi’s aggressive foreign policy, Act East Policy, SAGAR, Neighborhood first Policy, Link West Policy, or a standalone visit to Israel, through which he has surpassed the foreign policy of hyphenation and propaganda of minority appeasement of previous governments, all these moves have strengthened India’s national security posture in some way or other. A simple comparison on National Security approach of previous government and the current government can reveal the fact that we are moving in a right direction.
India, the world’s fastest-growing economy and vibrant democracy needed a holistic approach to protect its national interests. Today, out of the four key instruments of national power -DIME (where D stands for Diplomacy, I for Information, M for Military and E for Economy), Diplomacy and Economy power have become more dominating than others. And PM Modi is leading these two fronts perfectly!