National Security Volume VI Issue I | January - March 2023
About the issue

The current issue of National Security focuses on a set of key challenges to India’s security, environment and trade profile that flow from its neighbourhood and the need for an engagement strategy to build a more integrated region with potential partners that would bring all-round gains. The Editor sets out the context in his introductory Note followed by the specific explorations. Pankaj Saran, the former Deputy National Security Advisor, in his perceptive essay analyses the factors that are shaping Chinese strategy and policies under Xi Jinping and the threats and challenges to India that it poses. Defence expert Amit Cowshish draws the attention of the readers to the continuing asymmetry between India’s military capabilities vis-à-vis its adversaries, notably China. He underlines the urgency of formulating the much needed National Security Strategy (NSS) for optimal India’s defence planning and an appropriate strategic response.

Environmental scientist Shailesh Nayak, draws attention to the multiple factors that are eroding the Himalayan system and that require cooperation amongst the scientific communities of the Himalayan countries in order to preserve the vital range on whose well-being millions depend. He suggests a future course of action in this regard.

In the backdrop of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, academic J. Jeganaathan delineates the complicated strategic implications. He suggests that India needs to actively communicate with the regime in order to better understand the ground realities, influence its decisions, and help those in desperate need for food and medicines in Afghanistan. Analyst Nikita Singla focuses on the need to expand India’s trade with its neighbours in South Asia. She argues that India’s global ambitions are closely linked to its influence in the region around it and an astute trade policy towards the neighbours would not only benefit the region but also advance its own interests.

In the book review section, scholar Samir Bhattacharya reviews a new book on India’s development diplomacy towards Africa. He critically pinpoints the overtly ideological biases of the authors towards the Modi government that prevent them from undertaking an objective study of the theme, and assessing the significant steps India is taking in building ties with Africa.

Letters and Comments

Readers can share their views on National Security by e-mail to: the Editor, National Security. E-mail: [email protected]

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Editorial Board
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CONTENTS: Volume VI Issue I | January - March 2023

Editor’s Note

Engaging a Troubled Neighbourhood | Sujit Dutta


Xi's Foreign Policy Options and Evolving Strategy | Pankaj Saran


Organisational Restructuring for Defence Planning and Capability Acquisition | Amit Cowshish

Abstract:The enduring asymmetry between India’s military capabilities vis-à-vis its adversaries is a matter of concern. The widely held view that it is largely because of the politico-bureaucratic apathy, which manifests itself in the continuing absence of a National Security Strategy (NSS) as the basis for defence planning and inadequate budgetary allocations, needs revaluation. The situation has not changed despite the government having set up a high-level Defence Planning Committee (DPC) in 2018 to inter alia draft the NSS. The budgetary allocations also continue to fall short of the requirement projected by the armed forces. This paper broadly explores these two issues and argues that there is a need to consider the desirability of setting up a 24x7 Defence Planning Board for financially viable defence planning and a bespoke Defence Capability Acquisition Organisation, both of which have been recommended in the past by committees constituted by the Ministry of Defence itself.

Regional Cooperation to Preserve the Himalayan System | Shailesh Nayak

Abstract:The Himalaya is a unique ecological system and millions of people depend on its rivers for water, food and energy. It has distinctive biodiversity with a variety of high altitude vascular plants, grasslands, birds, etc. The Himalaya is under stress due to natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, floods, glacial lake outburst floods, climate change impacts such as the retreat of glaciers, and changes in precipitation patterns. Besides, anthropogenic activities related to infrastructure development, urbanisation, tourism, etc., also affect the Himalayan system. Defencerelated activities by China, Pakistan and India have placed additional pressure on the Himalayan ecology. The geological, cryospheric, hydrological and atmospheric processes and their interaction need to be modeled for the preservation of the Himalayan ecosystem. The formation of the Himalayan Science Council (HSC) is a positive step but it needs to set up monitoring systems for observing/measuring geological, hydrological, cryospheric, atmospheric and biological phenomena. Collaboration between research institutes of the Himalayan nations is a critical necessit

Dealing with the New Taliban Regime in Afghanistan | J. Jeganaathan

Abstract: The absence of a democratically elected government, the poor state of law and order and the many restrictions and violations of basic rights, especially those of women, under Taliban rule in Afghanistan are developments of deep concern. Moreover, the increasing tension along the Durand line with Pakistan, and the challenge posed by the Islamic State-Khorasan to the Taliban have made the security situation precarious. This paper examines the emerging strategic and security trends in Afghanistan in the post-Taliban takeover period. Should India engage with the Taliban regime so that it can influence its decisions, provide aid to its needy, and limit the security impact for the region, especially on Jammu and Kashmir? What would be the fallout if the Taliban regime is recognised and its relationship with the international community is formalised?

Geo-economics of India's Trade with its South Asian Neighbours | Nikita Singla

Abstract: India’s global ambitions are intricately linked to its growth as a leading nation as well as its regional influence. Brimming with opportunity yet equally troubled by challenges deep-rooted in its vast expanses, history and extra-regional geopolitics, cooperation in South Asia has proved to be a predicament as unique as the region itself. It is argued that South Asia’s performance in terms of socioeconomic indicators depends to a large extent on India’s geo-economics, and hence, this essay focuses on the use of trade policy in the geo-economics of India with its neighbours. On one hand, trade and investment figures indicate India’s position as the gravitational core in South Asia has weakened. On the other hand, it is doing more than ever under the aegis of the “Neighbourhood First” and the “Act East” policy to strengthen connectivity infrastructure at the sub-regional level, given the sombre achievements of the SAARC region as a whole in strengthening regional economic ties. The essay makes pointed recommendations for effective regionalism amongst the South Asian nations.

Book Review

India's Development Diplomacy in Africa-Through Western Lenses | Samir Bhattacharya


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