National security has been the buzzword in international relations since the times of the formation of nation-states. Territorial security in pre-colonial and colonial times got merely translated into national security when nation-states were carved out of the protectorates and colonies. The concept drew significantly from Hans Morgenthau’s understanding of securing national interest by the preservation of sovereignty, territorial integrity and internal stability from external forces. It did not change much until the 1980s when the non-traditional security aspect was felt to be equally affecting national security if not directly.
Hans Joachim Morgenthau (Feb 17, 1904-July 19, 1980) was a German-US major twentieth-century figure in the study of international relations.
Today, while the global security is under threat as the world faces an unprecedented challenge in the form of a “faceless enemy”, the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, securing national interests remains paramount even in this situation. Because the pandemic affects all dimensions either directly or in an indirect sense, therefore “national outlook for national security approach” is important for overall inclusive development of nations. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called the crisis the “Great Lockdown” and has predicted a slump in the economy worse than the Great Depression. Social implications of the pandemic will also be huge. Advancement in technology has enabled state and non-state actors to upgrade their military capabilities and the ability to disrupt huge systems by attacking strategic assets respectively. To top it all, while the genesis of COVID-19 remains unclear, sceptics fear the misuse of such viruses by non-state actors to cause maximum disruption and to create threat perception.
In that regard, it is necessary to analyse India’s preparedness in multi-dimensional spheres. The spread of the virus has made it clear that non-traditional threats to security are activated. However, traditional threats to national security remain valid. India’s northern adversary’s rise and influence on India’s neighbourhood through its ambitious projects and investments, its recent belligerence on the border and India’s western adversary’s constant pestering with activation of non-state actors in Kashmir signal that heightened security apparatus at the borders cannot be downplayed.
With the above background of national security in mind, the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), an Indian Army affiliated Think Tank in New Delhi, has published two timely books: one, dealing with India’s future preparedness with regard to COVID-19 and another on national security challenges.
COVID-19 & Its Challenges: Is India Future Ready? is not only an unprecedented attempt on the subject but is also on similar lines with the National Security Adviser’s orders in March which highlighted three post-COVID national security scenarios, namely, economic impact and need for social harmony, study on India’s two adversaries keeping in mind various wargaming scenarios and lastly to prepare a comprehensive road map for future-readiness. The book with its holistic approach deals with various aspects of national security in terms of the need to prioritise on human and environmental security in national security self-reliance and self-sufficiency in various dimensions to achieve maximum sustainability; evolving the role of the Indian armed forces that will lead to a re-appraisal of India’s military thinking and the use of advanced technology for a better security apparatus.
At the end, the book provides an all-encompassing list of palatable policy recommendations.
The author is an associate
fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi. THE ECONOMIC TIMES, India