Security Scan- Security Challenges 2017
As the new year unfolds, it is expected that 2017 will be a year of many uncertainties and the prevailing global strategic framework is likely to be rearranged in an unexpected manner. The more immediate trigger for such an assessment is the assumption of office by US President elect Donald Trump on January 20th, 2017. A Trump led USA may review its relations with Russia and perhaps China with some expected implications. This in turn will have a downstream effect on India’s strategic framework and security calculus. The terror threat looms large and cities like Baghdad and Istanbul are stark punctuations at the regional level. In India, the Pathankot, Uri and Nagrota experiences are a reminder of the tactical challenge that has continued into the first week of the year. It is 25 years since the anomalous end of the Cold War in December 1991 yet certain security issues have been on the Indian radar for decades and these include the neighbours, nuclear issue, the nature of post cold war strategic contour and India’s locus among other strands that animate Indian establishment.
The Global Scenario and India:
In terms of its attitude towards globalization, engagement in Asia- Pacific and relationship with China, Trump government is expected to be different from its predecessors. As far as India’s issues are concerned, it still has to deal with cross border terrorism being encouraged by Pakistan and relations with China is required to be recalibrated. How world economy is going to develop is also significant as the after effects of 2008 are still there.
At present, there are some recent trends against which all of these challenges are unfolding especially in India:
- There is a tussle between globalization and nationalism
- Drive towards populism.
- There is advent of new technologies which is changing the way diplomacy is being conducted. For example: Policies being announced on Twitter.
- Perceptible move to try and build a new order post Cold War era.
China is proposing improvements and changes just like India. China is more engaged with the US than India. They have both cooperation on economic trade and investment front and competition at the strategic level. In the India-US-China trio, same work has to be done to improve relations between India and China. China has benefited from globalization but for US, it has gone against their interests. Therefore, US is renegotiating some of the pre-existing status quo. This gives India a strategic space to look at how it would consider some of the opportunities like One Belt One Road initiative of China for its own interests. Both Pakistan and North Korea are integral in some ways to the Chinese geostrategic security interest.
Over the last few months, there seems to be a rearrangement of Russian policy to South Asia because of Central Asian states and the relevance of that region to Russia particularly Russia-Pakistan cooperation in the military and intelligence in Afghanistan. Russian establishment demands a stable periphery. India also has same interests the question being how it goes on this issue. How the situation evolves in Afghanistan will help India in its long term policies towards Russia as well as Pakistan. India has to communicate its views and make its bilateral ties very carefully.
China’s footprint in the military domain is increasing. For instance, Chinese submarines to Bangladesh has certain operational implications. Similarly, China’s military exercises with Nepal also validates their existence near Indian borders. If Bangladesh wants submarines, then India should be willing to provide those among others. There is clearly some need to revisit internal security arrangements for India in the light of recent terrorist attacks especially on army camps and bases. India should engage with countries like US on terrorism which has effectively handled the issue of terrorism in its own land.
India has actually changed the nature of how it handled security issues considerably over time especially external security. The Naresh Chandra Committee was made to review the defence management in the country and make suggestions for implementation of major defense projects. It was formed after 10 years of Kargil Review Committee. Most of the recommendations were taken into consideration as well. The position of the National Security Advisor is relatively new for India. It was also expected to examine why some of the crucial recommendations relating to border management and restructuring the apex command structure in the armed forces have not been implemented.
How these issues are managed by India will altogether depend on two factors:
- India’s comprehensive national power
- The clarity, resolve and institutional integrity with which the challenge is identified and overcome.
There are many other issues like hostility from Pakistan, adverse position adopted by China on issues directly related to Indian security and structural deficiency in India’s higher defence management. But when it comes to core national security interest, India will have to rely on its own capabilities and these will have to be maximized through professional military competence and politico-diplomatic will. Given the polycentric kind of global order that is evolving in the world, India may be moving towards being multi engaged yet unaligned as Delhi seeks to maintain steady and cordial relations with the major powers who are independently pursuing their own national interests. It can be hoped that the collective experience of past decades will illuminate in the path ahead in 2017 and beyond.