The blog is authored by, Ritika Sharma, a fourth-year law student, pursuing her B.A LL.B (Hons.) at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies (VIPS)
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India is surrounded by the mighty Himalayas on the top and with water bodies on the three sides of the land. While the distinct features of the country bring a humongous number of advantages, there are certain demerits too. In general, the term ‘defence’ refers to the action of defending and protecting the country from any attack that could render it in an incapacitated situation. In order to avoid tensions and clashes with other countries, it is often seen that every country tends to create, establish and execute its own defence structure and mechanism. Furthermore, the security of the nation has to be paramount for every State and it should be ensured at its optimum level in each and every realm. The term ‘security’ means to be free from the state of danger or threat. The priority of India has always been to defend itself from external and internal aggression and ensure the security of the entire nation while maintaining the status of a peacekeeping country. The concepts of diplomacy, foreign state policy and inter-state relations have become a cardinal aspect of the defence and security of the nation. In reference to this, India has witnessed landmark changes that can easily be divided into several phases. However, the situation has been an extremely different time and again since independence.
The history of India’s defence and security dates back to 5000 years when the maritime aspect existed. The Rig Veda mentioned around 1500 BC about Varuna being awarded with the credits of having excellent knowledge of routes of oceans throughout and there has an enormous explanation of naval expeditions. Also, there have been many mentions of the earliest organizations pertaining to the ships in ancient India in the Mauryan Empire itself from the 4th century BC. The Mauryan empire, Chola, Vijaynagara, Mughal and the Maratha empires are known to be the greatest militaries of their times. The structure of defence and security was as such that particular time that the sea lanes between the land of India and the neighbouring lands were being used exceptionally, not only for the purposes of battles and wars but also for the trade and businesses for a number of centuries, thereby, leading widespread influence and amalgamation of the culture of India on the other societies. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the fleets of Kerala and Maratha expanded multifold, thus, becoming the most powerful forces of the entire subcontinent leading to the defeat of many European navies from time to time. With the advent of British rule, massive changes were being brought about in the defence and security of British India. The Royal Indian Navy was being first established during the time of British rule itself. The Indian military was also being used during the First World War and it fought against the German Empire in German East Africa. However, after the First World War, the “Indianization” of the military actually began. The World War II brought about the largest volunteer in the army leading to huge success during wars along with the awards to their names. The constant demand for the wars as well as the near ending of the British era in India brought novel aspects and the increased rate of Indianisation of the Indian defence and security systems.
The independence was being brought about in India on 15th August 1947 from British rule. The characteristics and the features of the country make it stand on a different footing from all the other countries of the world, although, right after the independence, the country faced an end number of challenges of nation-building. With the formulation of the world’s largest Constitution, India came to be known as the world’s largest democracy. Moreover, the nationalization of the Indian army began with the thirteen Indian Major Generals and thirty Indian Brigadiers, and gradually the number of British officers began to decline by 1950. The religious, geographical, cultural, demographical and topographical features of the country depict India’s strength of harbouring a great number of advantages to its politico-economic baggage. However, even after such competitive advantages, India has a poor record of fighting of the invaders. The political realm of the country depicts it to be promoting federalism; however, it is known to be quasi-federal in nature. The aim is to advance the ideal of democracy. India is known to be the land of diversity. The foreign policy, defence strategies, and security aspects have seen to be evolving right from the Nehruvian theory to the Modian theory. The Nehruvian stream theory in foreign policy has often been questioned from two perspectives; the conservative realist perspective and the second one is Hindutva, which is more driven by Hindu ideology. The economy faced enormous challenges right after the independence, yet, under the Prime Ministership of Dr Manmohan Singh, the economy boom took place when the GDP of India was over 8%, the highest ever number. The economic reforms which were being brought in 1991 transformed the country into the fastest growing economy. However, the explicit decline can be seen during the era of the present government.
Defence and Security strategy of India- The changing parameters
The security strategy of India has been evolving from time to time. The rise of India’s regional and global power has been largely catered and reinforced by the geostrategic weight that has been assigned to India naturally. According to Drerkmeier, the real Great wall of India may instead have been its ability protect and preserve a fundamental Indian civilization and to mitigate the cultural and the social effect of foreign invasions by the way of the caste system. The projection of the power of India has been done both actively and passively. The security concerns that India has been facing time and again emerge from its neighbouring countries and at times from within the territory of India itself. Since Independence, India has been adopting the security strategies of creating friendly and amicable relations with that of its neighbouring countries so that threats can be reduced and become minimal. Maintaining peace and security within the territory has also been challenging as regards the internal perspective of India. The incidents of communal violence and riots as well as tensions and conflicts within in the Northeastern and Southern region give rise to threats of security and integrity. The changing parameters of security have brought new realms of the threats with such as cyber-attacks, environmental threats, maritime security, energy and biological security along with the concerns and threats of health. The recent instance of a novel Coronavirus pandemic has not only posed a greater health security threat to India but has paved its way worldwide. It has brought with it several other security concerns and it is nothing less than health terrorism. The defence structure of India includes the Indian army, navy and air force. The Indian military has been ranked in a great position from time to time.
The recent and the most imminent challenges are perceived to be the one that arises from the neighbouring countries itself. The recent break off with China has been the most excruciating factor in the Indian history of defence and security. The fact that Pakistan has always acted as the worst enemy with India, it becomes all the more important to note that the defence and the security get at the verge of being harshly threatened. The neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have always been in constant conflict with India and this creates a huge tense situation for India. The foreign policies and international relations on the global level has been far more improved than ever before, however, the neighbouring countries have often posed a great threat. The strained relationships reflect the international tensions and conflicts, thereby affecting the entire process of growth, progress and development.
In light of major facts and developments appraised, it has become clearly evident that the defence and the security aspects of India have been constantly evolutionary and extremely transforming. It is important to note that the concept of defence and security has never existed in isolation in the context of India. The policies of the foreign relation have been emerging from time to time with the changing nature of the internal political changes and transformations. It would be wrong to term the aspect of the defence and security system to be flawed altogether and fictitious as it is very much in existence. The need is to provide clear directions along with strategic planning and management. Hence, it has been highly observed that if the term defence is taken to be fictional in any sense, it would surely destroy the very entirety if the nations. The integrity and safety of the nations is based upon the defence and security as provided by the government and thus it needs to be re-build time to time
Views expressed are personal.