Growth is key to our national security

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SummaryUntil recently, we had taken a very compartmentalised view of national security. Each threat to national security was neatly fitted into one compartment.

Sustained growth not only enables us to provide inclusive development, but also shores up our educational, energy and military security

P chidambaram

Until recently, we had taken a very compartmentalised view of national security. Each threat to national security was neatly fitted into one compartment. The first, of course, was a war with Pakistan. That was fitted into a compartment and was meant to be deterred, or defended, through the might of our armed forces. A war with China was, and remains, unthinkable and therefore that threat was fitted into another compartment and reserved to be dealt with through a mixture of engagement, diplomacy, trade, and positioning adequate forces along the borders. Beyond Pakistan and China, we did not perceive any external threat to our security. Other threats such as communal conflicts, terrorism, naxalism or maoist violence, drug peddling and fake Indian currency notes were bundled together under the label “threats to internal security” and were left to the ministry of home affairs. Some threats were not acknowledged at all as threats to national security and these included energy security, food security and pandemics. K Subrahmanyam was one of the earliest to argue that we should take a more holistic view of the threats to national security.

Recently, eminent voices have echoed the views of K Subrahmanyam. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his address to the Combined Commanders Conference on October 20, 2005, identified as threats to national security terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, low intensity conflicts, and threats to the security of sea-lanes. The National Security Adviser, Shivshankar Menon, delivering the Raja Ramanna Lecture on January 21, 2013, said, “We now need to consider our energy security, food security, technology security, and social cohesion and institutions, to name just a few, when we think of national security.” In another place in the same lecture, he argued that there was little distinction between internal security and external security and identified the internal security challenges as having ‘some roots outside India and (is) linked to what happens outside the country.’

A close examination of the threats to national security will reveal that each one of them is connected to one or more other threats. For example, the threat of terrorism is connected to the threat of proliferation of arms, including weapons of mass destruction. The threat to the security of our sea-lanes is connected to the threat to energy security. Low-intensity conflicts have

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