The word geopolitics derives from the principle that geography and politics are closely intertwined. One cannot be separated from the other; geography being the tangible constant in fact drives strategy and politics. Ironically though, in the land of Chanakya, the original exponent of statecraft and strategy, it is disappointing that no original thought process on national strategy, specific to India and its geographical compulsions and legacy is ever put forth. We seem to imbibe and apply without any serious discourse western thought process and often copy paste it on the Indian sub-continent and then start defending and justifying it passionately.
Recently I was a speaker at a homeland security seminar and got thinking about this unique Indian affliction, of being enamoured and impressed with foreign jargon. This has also rubbed off on the military and we too are quick to give these doctrines the thumbs up rather hastily and willingly. For example USA has a huge secure continental landmass with no border disputes or viable threats. On the other hand, it has a lot of military strategic assets worldwide, global ambitions, allies, treaties and commitments. It therefore separates its national strategy into two distinct parts, homeland and worldwide.
THE TERM HOMELAND SECURITY AS A SEPARATE AND DISTINCT SET UP IS OF COURSE A DIRECT CONSEQUENCE OF 9/11 AND THE THREAT FROM TERRORISM. THE TERM WAS ALSO COINED THEN AND CREATED AS A SEPARATE ENTITY WITH A COMMENSURATE INFRASTRUCTURE AND COMMAND HIERARCHY. INDIA HAS NO SUCH PARALLEL OR GEOGRAPHICAL DERIVATIVE!
The term homeland security as a separate and distinct set up is of course a direct consequence of 9/11 and the threat from terrorism. The term was also coined then and created as a separate entity with a commensurate infrastructure and command hierarchy. India has no such parallel or geographical derivative! If we examine the broad contours of Indian Military Geography, one knows that we have long rugged mountainous, high altitude volatile borders on the North and dense jungle based porous border to the East. Besides that, we have our long coastline and Island territories. India’s internal and external security dynamics are closely linked to our borders and directly impinge on the security of our heartland and most of India. We have no territorial ambitions, nor do we covet or wish to defend any far-off allies. Our security frame work has a unique set of dynamics and national interest imperatives which are dictated by geography.
Thus, homeland security as a much touted and now loved terminology is unsuitable in our context. Internal security, the purview of the home ministry and our police and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) is still relevant and meets our needs. Army is always ready and available to assist in internal security and can coordinate with MHA. But Army getting more and more involved in the ambiguous homeland security scenario may be counter productive. We need to formulate a seamless and indigenous national security paradigm with an overarching command and control architecture which encompasses our entire landmass including active unresolved borders.
In the same context, I personally feel that the glamorous and much clamoured for CDS concept may not be entirely ideal for our country. This concept of joint warfare in far off lands by expeditionary forces where all three services are integrated is again a US invention suiting their doctrinal requirements. More about the CDS issue later. I stand firm that we must evolve a national strategy doctrine totally and completely in sync with our national interests, our location in South Asia, our military geography and cultural ethos.We can and should objectively and astutely analyse other philosophies but not make it a modified default option. We need to chart our own destiny within our geopolitical goalposts!