India’s preparedness towards new millennium challenges

Dr. Sudershan Kumar

With the dawn of the new millennium, India stands amidst various threats both internally and externally most upfront and significant being the security threat. Subsequently the security scenario arising due to external and internal threats is reviewed  bi annually by  top Commanders of armed forces since many years irrespective of the Government. There is avid participation of the Raksha mantri as well. This practice is going on since ages irrespective of any political party at the helm of affairs at the centre. We all as country men are proud of the valour of our officers and Jawans of armed forces who have become an epitome of sacrifice, patriotism and prowess. In two world wars of twentieth  Century, Indian Officers and Soldiers earned the highest  tally of Victoria Crosses .
This number was around 41. India has also been the champion of Global peace under the aegis of U.N. peace keeping forces. At home front, Indian armed forces have won all four wars except one debacle with China. But in today’s perspective, the question stands pertinent weather  India is fully prepared to counter new millennium challenges/ threats. Is the future of India secured in new millennium? To  comprehend and answer this, one will have to understand the types of threats the country is going to face both external and internal especially from strong, assertive, dictative and dicey China on one hand and weak unstable, radicalized Pakistan on the other hand.
Therefore, national defense is no longer ensured only through monitoring the sanctity of one’s borders, but it is highly dependent on the ability to navigate through sea and might to counter  space, cyberspace land and air attacks. This will assist in bolstering and enabling the military of the country not only to protect the national sovereignty, but also to gear up  to protect the interests of nation in the areas of digital data, communication and transfer of goods. As a result of these new proficient areas of New millennium  threats, the United States, Russia, China are working in the above areas viz. Sea, space, cyberspace, land and air to thwart these  new threats in the new millennium. In the past, world has witnessed armed forces around the world having fought conventional wars and use of extensive artillery to defeat their adversaries. Although as per some historical record, in ancient times use of biological and chemical warfare along with Conventional ammunition is evident whereas the phenomenal growth of technology for both military and civilian applications was witnessed in twentieth century. During World War – I chemical weapons were used extensively by both the warring fractions. As a result nearly 50965  tonnes of chemicals were used causing nearly  1.3 million deaths. But in World War II, various military strategists called for superior technology to embark supremacy and precedence over their enemies. In lieu of this the  American forces dropped two atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two cities of Japan on 6th & 9th August 1945. This unwarranted  and dastardly act of American forces brought an abrupt end to the seven year old war and these two cities of Japan were razed to ground with nearly 2.5 lakh deaths. But regrettably mankind never learnt any lesson out of it and nations are busy in developing and fostering weapons of mass destruction to gain  supremacy against each other.
During the period of seven decades, countries like USA, China, Russia, UK, France, Pakistan has conducted nearly 2000 tests and piled huge stock of nuclear  warheads. As per unconfirmed reports, there are nearly 14200 nuclear war heads available around the globe.  Majority of these weapons are  being possessed by USA & Russia. Besides, Islamic fundamentalism, radicalization and fanaticism  have spread its wings  around the globe especially in  Europe, Middle East and South Asia. The beginning of the  21th century   witnessed the deadliest attacks at World Trade Centre in New York 9/11 in 2001 and 26/11 in 2008 in  Mumbai. These attacks can be foreseen as the glaring examples of new threats being pursued by fundamentalist/ terrorists groups   for destabilizing the countries.
Besides, in this new millennium, the nations around the globe will have to gear up to  face the challenges of maritime security, space weapons, cyber warfare/cyber terrorism and simultaneously  they will also have to brace themselves up  to counter   land and air attacks. Hence the nations who are aspiring to become global/regional powers both militarily and economically will have to equip them selves with most advanced and sophisticated weapons to  prepare themselves to counter these challenges and maintain dominance. Firstly, the maritime domain which remains  contested through the use of Ar/D capabilities and piracy during trans shipments of goods through sea.The nation with clear vision  to be global player, will have to invest heavily in upgrading/modernization of its naval forces and its forward basis. For example to counter USA, China is expanding its naval forces and also has augmented its defence budget
Besides Russia, Japan and South Korea are also bolstering their naval capabilities. Even the smaller countries are also developing sophisticated anti ship missiles, diesel/ electric submarines with water humming torpedoes to counter USA in black water sea. In fact the technology right now is available to wide variety of actors around the globe.Indian navy being the 5th largest in the world is well acquainted with all of these developments around the globe.
Secondly, the most  challenging area is  the space weaponization and militarization with the amalgamation of the most sophisticated and critical technology with various space crafts/satellites. Although 1967  Nation space treaty largely defines     the activities of states for explorations and use of outer space. But over the years many countries  have launched large number of satellites. As per the latest information available there are around 20000 satellites available and out of these nearly 635 are rotating  around the earth. The use of these satellites can be ascertained by the event in 1991 gulf war where United state’s forces  depended heavily on space for intelligence sharing & 70 to 80 percent for communication purpose. This aspect was well analyzed by Chinese’ experts.    Since then PLA is pursuing this field  to counter United States. Development of ASAT weapon is a step towards that direction. Although the countries are working towards a treaty but future weaponry  both conventional / non-conventional will be controlled through the space based objects.
Thirdly, the world, around the globe will also face cyber terrorism as well as cyber warfare. . Cyber warfare is a computer net work based conflict, which involves  the actions by state or international organisations  to attack and attempt to damage the other nations’ computer or information by injecting computer viruses or denial of service.  This is an intriguing domain of global warfare. It facilitates the transfer of information and data from one place to another. Major concern in this case is that the large part is owned by private sector  The domain has serious implications of pin pointing the source of attack.
Therefore cyber attack identification is complicated particularly against such methods which allows the perpetuator to disguise the origin of attack, which are detrimental to the security and sovereignty of the country. Pakistan terrorist groups have fully exploited cyber warfare technologies in spreading radicalization fanaticism and terrorism not only in Jammu and Kashmir but  in other parts of the country. Therefore, the need of the hour is not only  to counter Pakistani network but also to adopt  an offensive strategy to curb Pak sponsored  cyber terrorism in the country by adopting innovative  strategy. India has a large pool of young innovative minds working in IITs, Academic Institutions and R&D laboratories These young innovative minds need to  be tapped. Fourth, which is of utmost importance is  keeping intact the land boundaries  and to maintain dominance on adversaries.
There fore to keep the troops in readiness it is utmost important to equip them with latest state of art weaponry/systems.USA& Russia have initiated number of development programs for modernization of their military. Notably among them is the most expensive US smart bomb with DIAL Down capacity( nuclear weapon with adjustable yield from0.343 kiloton to343 kilotons ) and much talked about Russia’s Doom Day weapon. China too is endeavoring to catch up with them.
The author is of the view that the security scenario in this new millennium will be a multi dimensional and a multi prong domain. These security challenges in addition to armed forces, will also encompass other stake holders too. India being the second largest democracy in the world having population of around 130 billion will be up against  both Internal and external situations in new millennium.
Therefore the role of Law makers, Technocrats , Indian Media, Think Tank and Strategic Planners is going to be crucial and imperative  for nation building especially when on one hand  where India is aspiring to become a global player both economically and militarily, where as on the other hand it has boundary dispute  with China,who is flexing muscles in south china sea also.   To counter these challenges the following steps may be of some help to achieve the desired results. The first and foremost is to lay stress on indigenous development in defense sector. The present ratio of self reliance is  around 35 percent. This needs to be enhanced to the tune of around  75 to 80 percent. For that, critical areas with clear vision 2050 have to be short listed and  task force  with all stakeholders on board has to be formed with a clear mandate from conception, development and   bulk production to maintenance. The defense R&D  budget needs to be enhanced.
The defence R&D budget allocation for defence must be at par with  China, Japan and United state.  The total defence budget has to be cumulative so that the money allocated against the capital and revenue heads  automatically gets carried forward so that the services can use it. Parallelly  the armed forces be equipped with latest and critical systems keeping in mind external and internal threats. It is often observed that the law makers are often involved in mud slinging pertaining to defense deals, even on the concluded ones i.e.. right from the time of  Bofors guns to the latest one of Raffle aircraft. These issues and speculations can be put to rest by discussions among themselves keeping in mind the national security of the country. It is heartening to note that some politicians for some petty gains even criticize the valiant action of our armed forces and Indian media to get cheap popularity invite these psuedo nationalists in live debates. We as a country need to be one and the true national character needs to be brought out in all of us.