New Addition, Security Segment

Issues of Security

This is the foundation article for the security segment which is being opened in This division would be containing think pieces on the security environment in the country and the neighborhood and the world at large. Lt Gen K S Rao is a rare soldier who had the distinction of not only valiantly fighting the enemy to protect boarders of motherland but also of going round the world in a small boat all alone. He wrote this piece soon after the terrorist attack on Mumbai on 26/11 discussing the security of the country.

Lt Gen K S Rao, PVSM, SC, SM, Arjuna Awardee


“Security means development. Security is not military hardware, though it may include it; security is not military force, though it may involve it; security is not traditional military activity, though it may encompass it. Security is development, and without development there can be no security.”

-Robert McNamara

National security means any thing on the globe, which challenges a people’s health, economic well being, social stability and political peace.

– Paul Kennedy

Lt Gen K S Rao-14

Lt Gen K S Rao, PVSM, SC, SM, Arjuna Awardee

After 26/11 a lot of discussion has taken place on security. What do we understand by security? The word security can be added as a prefix or a suffix to virtually anything-food, environment, water, cyber, job, social, political, industrial, financial, health, forest, urban, computer, energy, campus and so on- it will be an endless list. Finally we have national security and international security. Security means different things to different people. For a man on the street, he must feel secure to move freely. If a speeding vehicle knocks him down, is he secure? When corporate governance fails (e.g. Satyam), are our investments secure? When a citizen is made secure in all aspects, he would be indeed living in heaven. Can we make our citizens feel secure? Yes, we can! This is possible when we are strong. As an individual if I am physically strong I feel secure. If I train myself in Karate and learn to fight, I feel secure. If I am armed I feel secure. (But is there a need to arm ourselves in a secure environment?). If I have adequate (what is adequate is debatable) money, I feel secure. If I have all these but the country is attacked, are we secure?

Large volumes have been written on security but my effort is to put across to the common man what security means and what he can contribute to make our place a heaven.

When a country is strong, no one dares to look at us with an evil eye! To feel safe, we must have good, transparent and efficient administration. In addition we must also have a strong defence force or else we will not be secure. But to live like as if one is in heaven; our country must be the strongest country. What makes a country strong? We can list out some of the endless factors:-

Population is the primary factor, because it is the people who make the “Desam”. Larger the size of population, stronger the nation, the quality does matter, more literate and educated population, stronger the nation, healthy and physically and mentally fit population, stronger the nation, more skilled population, stronger the nation. If we have better and more( just to name some) of doctors, engineers, scientists, teachers, professors, research scholars, lawyers, tradesmen, sportspersons, industrialists, businessmen and politicians we shall be strong.

National water grid

We are fortunate to have geographically, a reasonably large size country with vast natural resources. We have adequate water but we must harness, harvest and utilise it effectively and efficiently. National water grid is one of the options, so that no farmer loses his crop for want of water. We have adequate sunshine and we must exploit solar power to the ultimate. Sky is the limit. We have a vast coastline and a large EEZ. Exploitation of this alone will make us the richest nation in the world. The more the marine activity, large number of merchant vessels, a strong navy, coastguard, marine police, larger and more number of ports, modern fishing craft, state of the art liners etc will enhance economic activity and make the country strong.

The next important factor is education. In a knowledge based society this is the vital factor as knowledge is power. Just to name, if we have institutions teaching all aspects of marine activity, the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) can be fully exploited. If we can ensure universal quality education, again sky is the limit for the results. Imagine over a billion people not only literate but each a specialist in his own field of chosen profession. May be half of them would be offered jobs by other countries of the world where there is already a shortage of manpower. Education means more schools, colleges, universities which in turn lead to a stronger nation. More medical, nursing, pharmaceutical, dental colleges, universities and laboratories, research institutes would ensure better health and health care of the citizens. Similarly educational institutes with specialties in other fields need to be established. These will attract students from all over the world. If we have Universities specialising in international relations with special reference to specific countries, specific fields say like sharing of river waters, then we shall not only would have done our home work as think tanks( we need to have over a million think tanks dealing with various subjects and issues) but also would be part of discussions that international regimes undertake and probably  some Indians will constitute the regime. We will be able to protect the waters of Brahmaputra then. If we have the best agricultural colleges, universities and laboratories, food processing establishments including storage facilities, then India would be feeding half the world.  Have we not succeeded in Green and white revolutions?  Similarly, in order to have the best judicial system, we need to train a very large number of barristers. We will not have to wait for years to get justice. Many cases are closed because the people involved are not living any more. National Security along with Disaster Management as a subject must be compulsory at the under graduate level, because wars will now be unrestricted. 26/11 is just one example. Attacks will be on economic, financial, information systems and services as also on our natural resources and infrastructure to name some. Educating in all facets of National Security is very essential. As of now we do not have a National Defence University. In fact we need scores of them for the size of our population.

Technological advancement

Next factor is technology. Education and knowledge show the way to technology and means to exploit the same. We are not strong enough at present because we do not have leading technologies in our country and some have been denied to us by the so called technology control regimes. Only when the frontiers of technologies are in our home land will India be a very strong country. Internet and mobile communication are some of the means to exchange ideas and seek information and knowledge. We need to have a reasonable portion of our population devoting their time to research. If we do enough research in sports and games, we can win more medals than others at the Olympics. At present we do not have a single sports university worth the name and hence our poor performance.   Technology has tremendous impact on how the world progresses. Gunpowder, steam engine, automobiles, radio, TV, satellite, space, computer and internet, remote sensing, mobile communication are some of the examples.

Next factor is infrastructure, physical, civic and social. The better physical infrastructure we have, the stronger will we be. Let us have the best roads. We must not only have better standards and specifications for the roads but also devise means for faster construction. If all our roads are minimum double lane, then in case of any disaster all help, rescue and rehabilitation will be so fast because all global logistical support is by means of containers, whether by air, sea or land. We must develop large number of airfields, numerous helipads along all axes of roads and remote areas especially in the mountainous regions and large number of minor ports with jetties not only along the coast but also at each of our island territories. We have seen that after Tsunami, we could not reach out with help to our fellow citizens living on some of these islands because we did not have the wherewithal to reach them.

Transparency, accountability

The list of factors is again endless. Some are accountability, corruption, transparency, religious tolerance, social equality etc. The lesser the corruption levels stronger the nation. Good governance is an essential requirement. We have a culture that is thousands of years old. Vedic studies must be revived in a fast manner. We need to compliment Swami Ramdev for making people aware of physical fitness. Rudyard Kipling had written, “NATIONS HAVE PASSED AWAY AND LEFT NO TRACES AND HISTORY GIVES THE NAKED CAUSE OF IT, ONE SINGLE, SIMPLE REASON IN ALL CASES THEY FELL BECAUSE THEIR PEOPLE WERE NOT FIT”

The citizen must be aware as to what is in national interest and what is not. Each citizen must have his wits about him always. Anything unusual, we must act. Had the person who had seen the men (terrorists) in a dinghy come and land at the fishing jetty raised an alarm, maybe we would have been saved from the mayhem of 26/11.

Before we go to the final factors, let us discuss corruption. Ours is indeed a corrupt society. Here we can get anything done, especially in the government machinery for a price. We all turn a blind eye- so we are all guilty of omission. In a society where there is a vast gap between the rich and the poor, where there are no morals as far as making money is concerned, where public exchequer is looted by the politician-bureaucrat nexus, where does national security fit in? Who cares for national security? In our democracy of vote bank politics, unless you have a group/ a segment of voters with you, you do not count. How can we build accountability, when the system does not support accountability? If you buy a piece of land and happen to be away, encroachers will occupy and you can do sweet nothing about it. You go to the market, the shopkeepers sell you what they wish to and at a price convenient, be it vegetables or construction material. We call it market forces. At all levels, self aggrandisement is the sole aim. To hell with values and principles. Why cannot I become big like Reliance-do not question the means! Government employees have a price and we must learn to manage them i.e. share the loot. The best way is to become a politician. Earlier in Andhra Pradesh the politicians used to collect funds for elections from the contractors but now the contractors are themselves the politicians! Unless corruption is eliminated from the society, we cannot be secure. Where does “Aam Aadmi” fit in?

Character, leadership

Finally the main factors are character and leadership. Both these are in the realm of societal changes and require tremendous effort. Societal changes must take place and we need social reformers who must become active. There must be a social boycott of any person with a stigma of corruption. What society is doing now is respect the rich-forget the means as to how one becomes rich. Satyam! If a rich politician(who has looted the public exchequer along with the bureaucrat) throws a party, all of us are not only keen to know as to who attended but also as to how one can attend such a party. The government encourages corruption-e.g. black money was regularised. (So what is the lesson for an honest tax payer?) Some people say that Indians have the largest holding of slush funds in Swiss banks (1500B US$). Can we get the names of the account holders? Can this be legally brought back to our country?  Let us remember the Father of the Nation. We need to train and develop national and international leaders in all fields. This is possible with the infrastructure that we develop. We must thank Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru for his vision and contribution in putting in place many institutions in our country that have enabled us to reach to this level. Somewhere we strayed and we need to get back on course. We shall then be a nation that is the strongest in the world, where there will be no poverty, no corruption, total transparency with literate enlightened citizens. Equal opportunities and we play the games in true sportsman like spirit where the better team wins. Imagine with a population of over 1.3 billion in the next 15 yrs, who are connected (i.e. each with a mobile that acts as a computer as well and each with a distinct national identity number) working in unison .What will be our comprehensive strength? Will it not be the strongest country ever? The country will be a heaven and no one dare touch us.

(PS. I have deliberately not highlighted defence because the enlightened citizens (each one of us is) will themselves help develop the best Defence Force, by volunteering for national service in any field, not necessarily armed forces.)

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