Road to power

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With levels of economic prosperity hitherto unknown, Indian government is vying to become a global power. Some top strategists put their heads together to produce a blue print. Iftikhar Gilani reports.
Top Indian strategists want the government to appoint a junior minister with the mandate to exclusively deal with the neighbourhood developments and relations as they think a stable neighbourhood was the only guarantee for India to become a “great power.”
They also asked the government to build conventional capabilities as they say the nuclear deterrent capabilities against sub-conventional war have failed.
A newly published book titled ‘Comprehensive Security for an Emerging India’ edited by former deputy air chief, Air vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak, encompassing contributions of 20 top strategists and diplomats analyses multi-dimensional dangers, non-traditional security issues and apprehensions ahead to transit India from a regional to a global power.
Describing Pakistan a challenge, authors agree that it would devour India’s strategy thinking over next two decades. They, however, called for ingenious non-military strategic leaps, in conjunction with leading international players to re-engineer Pakistan’s internal DNA and move it onto an entirely new plane to confront the challenge.
Kapil Kak believes that an effective engagement with Pakistan could help dilute its obsession about India’s reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. “The interests of both India and Pakistan could be mutually reconciled, provided the merits of regional cooperative security that animates comprehensive security are at last sagaciously recognized by Pakistan’s ruling elite,” he maintained in his write-up.
Referring to the five-fold growth in trade between 2004 to 2009 from 400 million dollars to 2.25 billion dollars respectively with Pakistan, he argues that India’s road to become a “great power” passes through Kabul, Islamabad, Katmandu, Thimpu, Dhaka, Colombo and Male. “India needs to factor each country’s sensitivities in the policy calculus. A junior minister exclusively to be mandated to deal with neighbourhood developments and relationships,” he adds.
In his introduction, leading strategist K. Subramanyam recommends that India’s efforts in the next two decades should focus on making attractive to its neighbours the prospects of their joining a free trade zone which in due course will become a common market.
Military expert Jasjit Singh believes that nuclear weapons should not be allowed to come into play in any future war. He maintains that credibility of India’s national deterrent capabilities against sub-conventional wars waged from across the border have been eroded, if not failed. Enumerating a response strategy against any major future terrorist attack against India, Singh says it should be based on discreet conventional punitive strikes against politico-economic targets preferably in Pakistan administered Kashmir in a calibrated manner spread over time rather a full-fledged war.
Discussing the strategy in detail, he says Indian army should go capturing Pakistani territory to shallow depths upto five km at five to seven places, the air force combat components should strike military-political-economic targets deeper inside Pakistan administered Kashmir and the navy need to apply pressure from sea. The special forces, he said, should hit specific targets close to the border.
G. Parthasarthy, however, says that India’s restraint in the aftermath of  26/11 have raised questions and reflects Indian weakness, indecision and a lack of coherent policy in addressing terrorism. “The Mumbai attack has also internationally exposed the weakness in India’s internal security mechanisms, with Chinese commentators even suggesting that the attacks have caused a setback to India’s claims to being an emerging power,” he writes.
Former defence secretary and chief of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) N. S. Sisodia calls for greater transparency in defence planning and apparatus, consistent with national security. He also asks for synergy with private sector and building India’s defence industrial base.
Former Navy Chief Arun Prakash raises security concerns attached with the Gwadar deep sea port, built with Chinese assistance on the coast of Baluchistan. “Situated at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, it could be ideal base for future operations of PLA (Chinese) Navy ships and navy submarines against India,” he maintains.
Former Research and Analysis Wingh (RAW) chief, B. Raman calls for political handling of the problems afflicting Muslim youth to avoid them “becoming fuel in Jehadi terrorism”. “Our young Muslims, who are taking to Jehadi terrorism are not bothered by issues such a lack of education and unemployment, reservation etc. They are angry at what they consider to be unfairness to the Muslims, which according to them is widely prevalent in India. Unsatisfactory political handling of the Muslim youth by all political parties is an aggravating cause of the threat from Jehadi terrorism,” he believes.
He further writes that flow of human intelligence about “Jehadi terrorism” is weak because of the post 9/11 phenomenon of global Islamic solidarity and the adversarial relationship between the agencies and the police, on one side, and with the Muslim community, on the other side.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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