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Grading Threats against India

| by A. K. Verma

( January 13, 2015, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) With frequent violations of the Line of Control in J&K State and not so frequent infiltration across the borders with China one has to estimate which is the more dangerous frontier.

The insurgencies in the border regions and the maoist problem are not threats on the same scale as those mentioned above. They are not life and death issues for the nation.
Few are ready to give a clear cut answer but such an answer must be given authoritatively. There are other dangers to national security, internal and external. All must be organized in a descending or ascending order of severity for the citizen to understand what quantum of danger may be expected from which quarter. Other nations come out regularly with a public declaration of their national security policy. This does not happen in India.

India’s borders with all its neighbours are more or less secure except with two countries, China and Pakistan. The focus of national security efforts have therefore to be directed against these two countries. Which one of them deserves greater attention? The public discourse in India is extremely divided, with prejudice generally deciding, rather than dispassionate cold analysis. To find the correct answers one must look closely into their history.

China during its 4000 years of civilisational history got involved in only three wars by choice, all in the last century. Earlier it had been forced into one war, the opium war, by European imperial powers which had resulted into a great misery for the country. The lesson learnt from the opium war was that the country could never afford to be in a state of weakness, this lesson is now the bedrock of Chinese policies. Its current quest for economic and military strength is to seek parity with the US perceived as an abiding threat.

The three wars fought by China out of its own volition were the Korean, Indian and Vietnamese. It had felt obliged to enter the Korean war because of its fears that after crossing the 38th parallel which was the border between South and North Korea the South Korean forces aided by the US troops would get across the Yalu river to enter China. The Chinese entered the war to forestall this development.

The Chinese took an initiative against Vietnam because they feared that Vietnam which had just a little earlier signed a treaty of friendship and mutual assistance with the Soviet Union was intriguing with Cambodia and Laos to form a covert front against China, on the strength of Soviet nuclear weapons on which they could count on the basis of this treaty . The Chinese took a calculated risk and lost many men in the war but they considered the step necessary to protect their national security.

The 1962 war with India has been much commented upon at different fora and there is no agreed view on whom lies the greater responsibility for the war. From the Chinese perspective they were taking a defensive action. Whatever be the merits of this position the fact remains that they withdrew as soon as they realized that the Indian side was not preparing for a war and their information to the contrary was not well supported. Thus, in the Chinese eyes their action was defensive.

The Chinese relationship with India has been long and peaceful except in recent times. The pacifist religious philosophy which permeates the two regions and the impenetrable Himalayas can be said to be responsible for this phenomenon. Current disagreements over the borders are not war oriented. They arise because the borders remain undemarkated. The leadership of the two countries also now firmly believe that they need to help each other to build a stable and peaceful relationship oriented to economic, infrastructural and social growth. The two leaderships have accepted the guru mantra of cooperation, not confrontation or conflict, despite the dissenting voices of area specialists in both countries who decipher belligerence, hostility and aggression in policy statements or other developments in the two countries. These lobbies are persuaded that some are baying for blood on the Chinese side. But the top Chinese leaders fear no aggression from India or have reservations about India’s intentions unlike those in Pakistan.

With Pakistan India has become a civilizational issue. The civilizational problem came into existence ever since Islam entered the sub-continent. With partition it has become much more accentuated. Pakistan is now looking west trying to identify itself with Arabic culture, wanting to forget that its history is entertwined irrevocably with its Hindu and Buddhist past. Its people are from the sub continental stock sharing the same DNA and with little differences originally in languages, food, dress, and basic culture. Changes were forced when Pakistan became a new entity.

Much of the responsibility lies on how a new trajectory was forced on Islam in Pakistan. At the time of partition the civil society on the two sides of the new borders had the same value system, a legacy of the British Raj. As Islam changed its profile in Pakistan, the mind sets in Pakistan also underwent transformative modifications. Islam moved from increased piety to conservatism, shariatisation, radicalism and talibanisation and is today headed towards jihadism. Such an Islam cannot coexist with India and therefore destruction of India has become the prime objective of Pakistan The Chinese have no such aims. One can therefore be completely clear sighted who the real enemy of India is. The enemy if at all is Pakistan, not China.

An equally focused eye has to be kept on developments in Islam worldwide. In 1990s Samuel Huntington, a Harvard professor, had warned that the world was headed towards a clash of civilizations. His prophesy seems to be coming true. A radical Islamic Caliphate has established itself in West Asia with its own territory, sources of funds and army. It is proving to be a magnet to young Muslims across a wide region including natural born citizens of European countries who are flocking to the area to bear arms for the Caliphate. Besides, the Al Qaeda ideology has spread far and wide in the West Asian and North African regions and many home grown entities have been tossed up that serve as its franchises. They are causing mayhem in many countries by their jihadi enterprises. The Islamic world seems to be carving itself out in Shia Sunni spheres of influence forcing realignments in the old Muslim order. Islamic violence is on the rise.

These tectonic shifts have not spared Pakistan either. Radicalism which is a Sunni phenomenon there has cut down nationalism creating a divide which threatens the integrity of the nation. While the nation thus burns, voices are being thrown out to India to welcome radical Islam and reestablish the glories of Mughal empire. Leaders of extremist parties are on record roaring that the flag of Islam should be unfurled over the Red Fort.

Such voices should not be ignored they constitute a new developing threat which should rank among the top three threats to the country. In time this threat may out rank the other two. Recently, a regional sectarian political figure from south of India made the sensational announcement that all those born in India are born muslims. Such a statement can act as a motivation for the radicals from across to come over where they can receive support and welcome. The Muslim population in India is 17%. It can be argued that Islamic doctrines teach the adherents to regard themselves as the citizens of Umma rather than of a nation state. The potential for mischief is thus self evident.

The insurgencies in the border regions and the maoist problem are not threats on the same scale as those mentioned above. They are not life and death issues for the nation. As development takes roots and a greater economic justice can be ensured for the citizens these problems will wither away though a considerable time may be necessary for the right solutions to arrive.