Home Contact Us
Search :


Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#1183, 21 October 2003
International Security Environment – III: Challenges to India
Maj. Gen. Dipankar Banerjee
Director, IPCS

The external security environment presents both challenges and opportunities to India; where the challenges are major, yet there are enormous opportunities. 

First, in the area nearest us in South Asia

The obstacles to regional cooperation must not be underestimated. It is also true that a majority are not of India’s making. Because India occupies a central location and its size and economy are overwhelming, there arise a natural sense of insecurity and concern among its neighbours. They suffer from an acute ‘small state syndrome’ even though in terms of population and size, each is large by global standards.  Regrettably the Indian state has also not done enough to provide the necessary confidence to these countries through sustained engagement.  

There is a new nationalism in our region where some countries are more affected than others. Hence there are imagined grievances, unreal expectations and a reflexive approach to consider any offer for cooperation from New Delhi with suspicion. These mutually beneficial approaches are then often politicised for domestic political gain. An attempt is then made to project an image of Indian hegemony, which is not possible to counter with reason and persuasion, when prejudices lie deep and are carefully sponsored by vested groups. In spite of this New Delhi has rightly maintained a high record of accommodation, provided our neighbours have demonstrated reasonable concern and sensitivity to India’s security.  It is in India’s interest to develop a cohesive and prosperous region where its leadership is uncontested. India will matter in the world as a leader of a cohesive regional group. As a contested leader in an underdeveloped and conflict prone region – it will matter much less.

What can India do to overcome regional apprehensions? There are no easy answers. Ideally regional cooperation should emerge through SAARC. Realistically, as structured, SAARC has limited possibilities. Some have suggested that it died at adolescence. The fact is that without economic cooperation, other issues matter for little. Here, current Pakistani policies, which do not allow even minimal trade relationship with India, offer little hope of any significant regional arrangement for economic cooperation. Bilateral and sub-regional initiatives are the answer and India’s initiatives in the last few years show the way. However, till now these have remained mainly platitudes without substance and will remain so unless India invests much greater effort and resources to make these capable of implementation.

India must consciously expand and redefine the region, both to the west and particularly the east. Opening up to Southeast Asia and through it to the dynamic Asia-Pacific region is the strategy that needs to be consciously developed. The recent initiatives undertaken by the PM at the ASEAN summit provides the ground for a new beginning; a beginning that should have logically happened at least a decade and a half ago. India is many years behind China today in the breadth and depth of relations in the region and these are not comparable. Yet, this is where our real challenge and competition will lie with China.

Relations with China

India-China relations will remain an important issue affecting the future of Asia and the world. It must remain cooperative and not confrontational and it must span both bilateral and multilateral issues.

Bilateral issues should focus on cooperation through trade and people to people contact and also to deal with outstanding issues over the boundary. Neither side are fully ready for it, yet some hopeful steps have been taken recently. There are a number of so-called soft security areas where the cooperation between the two countries can help set the global agenda and particularly help the developing world. There was some cooperation at the recent WTO meeting at Cancun. There is need to expand this to other global issues such as human rights, disarmament, climate, intervention and such areas.

At the same time it will not do to be surprised by Beijing once again in the security field. New Delhi must develop simultaneously a resilient and effective dissuasive and deterrent capability to deal with sudden turns in China’s policy and its unpredictable uncertainties.

International Issues

Ties with the US need to be both strengthened and deepened – politically, economically and strategically. Vajpayee’s description of this relationship in 2003 as one of “natural allies” is potent with many possibilities. Long estrangement will lead to many mistakes along the way, but its long term objectives must never be allowed to be obscured in short term considerations. In turn this relationship needs to be based on values and mutual interests and accommodate each other’s concerns. True friendship may not be achieved or be even desirable in an era of realpolitik, but sound relations are based on supporting each other, even at some sacrifice. Over the next couple of decades, this relationship will be critical in the global war on terror, whose last battles are likely to be fought in the sub-continent. Great maturity and strategic perspective will be needed in this critical phase.

Energy security will remain a major security concern for India. For the foreseeable future it will remain dependent on external supply for up to 60-70 per cent of its requirement. This will call for far reaching measures and long term relations and plans for cooperation with the energy rich countries to our west and even further afield.

Revolution in Military Affairs

Future dissuasion and deterrence capabilities will rely heavily on RMA technologies. Even though India will never be able to acquire full scope capability covering a wide spectrum, asymmetric capabilities in selected areas can and must be developed. This must remain the central focus of any long term strategic planning. It will need enormous resources and costs will be high though possible civilian benefits might off set some. The nation must remain prepared to allocate resources over a period of time.

Finally, the principal challenge to India will remain internal. Only a country that is cohesive, free from poverty, ill health and universally educated, and whose people are gainfully employed, can play a role in the world and meet the challenges from the external environment and truly turn these challenges in to opportunities.

Extracts from a presentation at the National Defence College, New Delhi, India, on 14 October 2003

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistans Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Stability in 2015
Sri Lanka: Making a Case for Change
Connecting Sri Lanka: Train to Jaffna
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Burying the Past: A New Beginning for Pakistan and Afghanistan
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Bangladesh: Diplomatic Manoeuvres at the UNGA
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticisms Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
IPCS Forecast: East Asia in 2015
China-North Korea: Reasons for Reconciliation
Abe-Jinping Summit Meet: A Thaw in China-Japan Relations?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?
The Future of SAARC is Now

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From Look East to Act East
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Indias Northeast: Need for a New Anti-Terror Policy
India-China: Securitising Water
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015
India and Maritime Security: Do More
Indian Ocean and the IORA: Search and Rescue Operations

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
IPCS Forecast: Left-wing Extremism in 2015
Maoist Attack on the CRPF: Time for New Counter-strategies
Naxal Violence: Challenges to Jharkhand Polls

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
18th SAARC Summit: An Economic Agenda
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security
Obamas New Strategy towards the Islamic State: Implications for India

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
IPCS Forecast: West Asia in 2015
Rise of the Islamic State: Implications for the Arab World
Islamic State: The Efficacy of Counter-strategies
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
The Af-Pak Entity: Seduction to Armageddon?
Maritime Combat Power in the Indo-Pacific
Of Lawrence, Sykes-Picot and al-Baghdadi
Voice from America
Amit Gupta
Obamas Rapprochement with Cuba
China's Global Ambition: Need to Emulate Germany
Mid-Term Elections: So What If the US Swings Hard Right?

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
China at 60 - The Military Dimension

China's Defence White Paper- Part 2

China's New Defence White Paper- Part 1

Towards a More Secure World (Part 2) - The UN High Level Panel's Report

Engaging Pakistan - The Composite Dialogue Process

India-China Border Talks

Policy to Counter Hostage-taking

Kashmir: A Trip Report

Future Threats: Challenges and Collective Actions

Nepal: Current Situation and Future Challenges

The Crisis in Nepal and Indias Response II

The Crisis in Nepal and Indias Response I

The SAARC Summit and After

The War in Sri Lanka

India-Pakistan Imbroglio over CBMs

International Security Environment – II: A Brief Overview of the International Environment

International Security Environment – I: Recent Developments and Characteristics of the Era

Jiang's US Visit: The Strategic Perspective

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2015
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October
 2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007
 2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999
 1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1900, Tel: 91-11-4100-1901, Tel/Fax: 91-11-4100-1902

© Copyright 2015, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com