by Shri K Subrahmanyam
his introductory talk, Lt Gen Shankar Prasad, DG Infantry explained and
rightly extolled the role of the Indian Infantry (which has been in battle
since Independence) as the mainstay in the four wars India has fought, and
in the proxy wars in the troubled States. He welcomed the Chief Guest, RM
George Fernandes, the Army Chief Gen S Padmanabhan, and the Guest Speaker
Shri K Subtahmanyam. The Army Chief spoke about the RMA i.e. Revolution in
speaker of the day, Mr Subrahmanyam delivered a hard hitting, upfront
lecture on the
"Challenges To National Security". He is an ex IAS
officer and now India's leading strategy analyst and columnist, who
authored the Kargil Report and India's draft nuclear doctrine. He is also
the Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board and so came to the
platform with vast knowledge, pedigree and experience unmatched.
painted a dismal picture of the state of affairs in Defence and explained
how Indians leaders have failed to face reality since long, making India's
security apparatus weak. He spared no one involved with India's security
–– the common man, the Services, politicians and bureaucrats, with a
mouthful of harsh words during his 55 minute delivery, with some glaring
repetitions, especially the phrase “POLITICIAN/BUREAUCRAT CRIMINAL
NEXUS’. He talked of the lack of strategic thinking since Panipat, poor
mindset of politicians regarding India's defence, lack of public
awareness, skewed political and corrupt practices in daily polity, that
affect security and clubbed both the IAS and the military as bureaucrats
who are still preparing for the last war with no refreshed thinking.
added the nuclear dimension in India with the weapons, delivery and
command and control not clearly defined. So unless a shake up takes place,
internal security is in danger and external security not comprehensible
for most, while politics, coalition governments, the opposition and the
Bofors saga, have skewed the procurement process. India's attitude to
defence at the highest level needs education and change. He defended the
draft nuclear doctrine as the most economical.
he pointed at the non-performance of the newly formed NSC which has only
added to the challenges before India's security. His main solution is the
effective functioning of NSC, which has not uttered a single cry since
birth or met often enough.
recommended that for the NSC to take on the mantle, a separate staff for
it and full time NSA need to be provided. The present mode with Brijesh
Misra doubling as PPS to the PM and NSA is woefully inadequate for the
task. The other measures were to use ‘think-tanks’, revamp of
intelligence system, with proper feeding of civil and military
intelligence to the NSC and make it chalk out paths for all ministries to
ensure India's security.
emphasised that security and economy were very closely interlinked and
warned that disruption like the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai can be
disastrous. He advocated far greater transparency with most issues under
public scrutiny and that no statements should be ‘off the cuff’. He
also asked for less secrecy to the media which had a long way to go in
defence journalism; and frequent briefings of the opposition to ensure
that national interests are furthered. He surprised everyone by saying,
"it is the Congress that should rightly get the credit for the Shakti
(nuclear) readiness leading to the successful Pokhran blasts of 1998, as
it were the Congress PMs who sustained the critical work that enabled the
BJP led Government to explode five devices within days. But the Congress
was not consulted and took on an adversarial stance, which was not in the
interest of national security.
DRDO he said they are incapable of delivering on latest weapon technology,
so the civil sector needs to be involved. Finally he pleaded for the
reports of the four ‘task forces’ on security that have been tendered
admirably swiftly, to be analysed and implemented.
lecture was a refreshing look inside our security apparatus and ultra
critical. Mr Subrahmanyam based his introduction on the exchanges that the
late Field Marshal Cariappa had with Mahatma Gandhi in 1947 when he was
living in the Bhangi Colony and the Major General had returned from the
Imperial Defence College. Cariappa asked the Mahatma how he could explain
non-violence to his troops when their job was the opposite. The Mahatma
admitted he was not clear on the role of non-violence in uniform, but
fully supported the Indian Army's action in Kashmir and left it at that.
The speaker used this as backdrop and the Pakistani perception that Hindus
are not good fighters and hoped there would be clarity in policies that
will now follow, after 53 years of dealing with power politics in
international relations and four wars.
pens below some other one liners for those interested in the challenges to
India's security as seen by K Subrahmanyam :
this was music to IDC, which have echoed similar sentiments right from our
inception and wish to contribute to inform, debate and act as a
‘think-tank’ in its own humble way for net-surfers interested
in’national security’. We were however, disappointed he did not touch
upon the subject of JOINTMANSHIP or a CDS system but then his roots are in
George Fernandes as the Chief Guest spoke extempore it appeared and
replied with great confidence to Subrahmanyam's hard hitting issues, which
were pointed at the MOD and started by agreeing that even Nehru did not
face reality when Aksai Chin was gifted by Pakistan to China and put forth
four points which IDC noted as crucial. The rest was rhetoric recounting
of the MOD's achievements which have been many. On corruption he said
there was a turn with the conviction of a former PM and a former CM,
referring no doubt to Narasimha Rao and Jayalalitha but not by name.
The event was well organised and surprisingly only three English papers carried some truncated versions of the speech on the following day. Former Chiefs, the Air Chief, Ambassadors, senior Services officers and Defence Attaches were in the distinguished audience. Altogether it was a fine tribute to India's first Commander-in -Chief.