The 14th Commander level talks have concluded between India and China at the PRC-occupied Moldo area of Tibet. This “intrusion and talks” tactics will go on until Beijing prepares well for the actual battlefield—the Indian ocean.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has to prop up things at the borders to manage the internal rifts between the populists and the princelings. In the next three decades, China will be the main focus of our security doctrine. We must understand China’s concept of unrestricted warfare. A country that does not go to war is an expert on defining strategies for winning without an actual fight. We are great with combat strategies, much to the credit of our powerful forces, but we are far behind in strategies which do not lead to war.
In 1962, the Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai doing was a “smile with a knife in the hand behind the back”. The CCP used “borrow the knife to kill” in case of propping up Nepal against us in the last few years. Currently in the Ladakh faceoff, it is practising “wait in leisure and drain the enemy”.
In this backdrop, for the long term good of our national security apparatus, a bottom-up structure is a must. The realisation must come that security studies is a separate domain to train, besides the intel, forces and diplomacy trainings.
Since Independence, our security apparatus is running with veterans from armed forces, intelligence agencies and the diplomatic community. These three assets are largely focused on external security. National security includes internal security and is a separate stream of studies. It is not purely about combat, intelligence or diplomacy alone. Security studies curriculum right from the bottom to the level of PhD is missing in mainstream academia. Countries like China sponsor their students to the West and import the curriculum as students bring it back home with an added edge of western perspective of warfare.
In the Indic traditions, it is understood that Shastra (weapons) is meant for external security, whereas Shaashtra (curriculum) is meant for internal security. Shastra Vidya also needs a Shaashtra.
If you do not have a nationalist curriculum, you end up spending Shastra for internal security as well. This is precisely what we are seeing in parts of Kashmir and Bengal. Even in modern times, in most army war colleges, nationalist historians need to be hired as prominent national security professors.
Again, predictable warfare like Mantra yudh and Prakash yudh (diplomacy + open war) is always considered less effective than Kut yudh and Tushnim yudh (tactical + silent war).
What did we lose?
We have no clue what end outcomes we want to see in each of our neighbouring countries and what kind of environment should be there, for us to thrive and prosper peacefully. A nation’s value remains rooted to the kind of neighbourhood it surrounds itself with.
If we had our own indigenous PhD NSA, a home-grown expert in the Indian subcontinent Security Studies from the beginning:
1) We won’t have left Bangladesh without confirming a secular Constitution in 1971.
2) We would have kept all 93,000 Pakistani soldiers as Pakistan regiment here within India and banned them from keeping a separate army.
3) During the last UPA regime, the Nepal and Bhutan royal families which loved India wouldn’t have lost power and pro-PRC forces wouldn’t have grown to play there.
4) We would understand that most foreign transactions and contracts need security scrutiny right from the beginning. Avoid a situation where a hostile investment of China happens in a bank and we wake up after weeks to control the damage. Nor that a tourist operator in a distrubed area goes on earning terror-finance by online tour cancellation transactions and we wake up after some terror attacks.
5) We would not have let popular Chinese apps build data banks of all demographic details of our population. Imagine, for example, a crowd of several lakhs being passed on some fake infuriating information. Talking to the enemy’s population, bypassing the leadership, is a lethal weapon of war.
How do we make a beginning to build an atmosphere at the ground level?
A Security studies curriculum needs a host of research and development, besides years of hard work to develop. But we can certainly transition our current academic and research capabilities towards one. We need to prepare next generations to naturally fill in the positions in the National Security domain as subject matter experts.
1) Set up Centre of Security Studies on all elite campuses like the law schools, IITs and IIMs.
2) Push incubation set-ups to work on targeted defence products and technology with proper funding.
3) Encourage civilian military training for higher education students.
4) Ensure all war heroes and stories of wars fought after 1947 are taught in schools. People should celebrate real heroes more than the sportsmen or fictional movie heroes.
5) Recommend war heroes and retired generals to take up activities and address seminars in schools and colleges.
6) Set up a national team for researching and preparing a security studies curriculum and allied requirements.