• Thursday, December 12, 2019

National Security: Decision Making

Discussion in 'Indian Defence Forum' started by ILLUMINATO, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. ILLUMINATO

    ILLUMINATO BANNED

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    The Indian State as it exists today is a consequence of the British presence in India. Prior to that, throughout history, the sub continental land mass was hardly ever a State in geographical terms. Culturally, there was a vast web of unity but it was not enough to make the people and the large numbers of rulers of the land mass feel that they all had an identity of interests in security also.

    In fact the concept of security in those days was confined only to the ruling elite and it only encompassed territorial integrity and pacification of the populations. Each ruler thought of his interests alone. The raiders from the North West found it easy to make forays into this land mass and eventually to establish footholds. Subsequently, the British and other Europeans came in with equal ease and an empire was created.

    Thanks to various battles and wars in Europe, the British had a highly developed sense of national interests. Applied to the Indian subcontinent, it meant protection of the new acquisitions from other empire builders or expansionist powers. Much of their involvement in national security terms meant mainly keeping Czarist Russia and China at bay. Policies with this end in view were made in London by the British Government which now had a Secretary of State for India. This official depended for his inputs on the Governor General of India. The latter's authority was principally concerned with the consolidation of British power in India. His prime interests were, therefore, of a military nature and his own advisers were, therefore, mainly the British military establishment in India, headed in the final stages, by a Commander-in-Chief, placed second in the Executive Council of the Viceroy.

    When the Empire was converted into a nation in 1947, the institutions and outlook inherited by the Indian successors were all colonial in nature. Very few had the vision that with introduction of Parliamentary democracy radical changes had to be effected and new thinking evolved. To be fair to the leaders of the day, their preoccupations were with matters which they considered to be of immediate importance such as making the state viable, establishing a respectable place for it in the community of nations and awakening the people to their new status and responsibilities. Strategic thinking was not a part of this matrix and, therefore, no questions arose as to what mechanism should take care of it, even though there were issues of national security which came up almost immediately after independence.

    The three most important among these were the tribal incursions in J &K, establishing a foreign policy and determining the approach towards China. Though the decisions were to be made in the name of the Indian Cabinet, the actual policy maker was the Prime Minister who depended primarily on his insights and experience of dealing with a colonial power, the British. His stature was such that hardly anybody could question him. The bureaucracy, as it was constituted then, did not have the expertise to advise in the arena which was by and large a new area for them.

    The decisions in each of these cases were, thus, adhoc and entirely individualistic. They did not follow structured long term or midterm assessments. They gave no indication that they emanated from an awareness of strategic imperatives for the country. What is certain, however, is that real-politic was not a consideration.

    Those decisions have had in subsequent years, traumatic effect on the body politic of the country. The decision to refer the J&K issue to the UN, instead of driving the incursionists out of J&K which was militarily feasible at that time, has embroiled us in an unending stand off with Pakistan. The policy on China saw the loss of Tibet as a buffer state. Only, establishing nonalignment at the core of our foreign policy, can be said to have the continuing approval of the country. The correct adoption of this policy was an outcome from the experience of the long freedom struggle against colonialism in India.

    These early encounters with national security decision making brought no changes to the decision making institutions except that there was now a Defence Minister in the Cabinet in place of the C-in-C. The service Chiefs functioned with the title of C-in-Cs till 1955, providing inputs to the Government for decision making on defence matters through Chiefs of Staff Committees and Defence Minister's Committee. The Defence Committee of the Cabinet considered their recommendations. After 1955, with the rechristening of the C-in-Cs as Chiefs of Staff, the Chiefs no longer served as principal advisers for defence decision making. The field was left entirely to the civilians who themselves were ill equipped to take a holistic view of National Security. Their organisations such as they existed were still to be Indianised in spirit.

    This was evident in the episodes which led to the war with China in 1962 and which ended with the war with Pakistan in 1965. Misgivings about China had always been present and were on the rise after the discovery of the road built by them in Aksai Chin. The Indian response was the forward policy which just amounted to establishing checkposts on the Sino Indian border as far forward as possible. The checkposts represented no strength, just a symbolic presence. Their concept evolved part from wishful thinking, part from an acknowledgement that nothing more substantive was possible in the near future. The policy was not the result of brainstorming sessions because no mechanism for such brainstorming existed. The disaster of 1962 then followed.

    The Tashkent agreement of 1966 which ended the 1965 war with Pakistan again saw India loose out. The Hajipir Pass, captured with considerable sacrifice, and which controlled infiltration routes into J &K was returned to Pakistan against no tangible gain.

    In both situations, decisions were of individuals. More wide ranging coordinated institutional assessments preceded the decisions. There was no prior articulation of India's national interests.

    The debacle in 1962 did lead to soul stirring within the country and it was realised that something was amiss. Among many steps taken, JIC which was a subcommittee under the Chiefs of Staff, was given an independent status and the role of being a single point referral agency for the preparation of assessments. The Defence Committee of Cabinet was converted into the Cabinet Committee for Political Affair. A separate organisation, the R&AW, was created to deal with foreign intelligence. Most of these however, amounted ultimately to cosmetic changes, because defence and foreign policy*making continued to remain with key individuals who were not necessarily professionals themselves. The assessments of the JIC were not taken seriously. In fact these assessments were prepared routinely and superficially, with Ministry of External Affairs keeping most of its information to itself. The same was the situation with regard to technical source information obtained by the Armed Forces.

    The real cause of this state of affairs was the presence of a frigid mindset and absence of a security culture. These accounted for the irony that the essence of what constituted national interests or security was not still understood by most players in the bureaucratic or political class. Nobody had seen the wisdom of clearly identifying India's interests or values, much less articulating them.

    One of the best definitions of security is from Robert McNamara "Security means development into a modernising society; security is not just military hardware, though it may include it; security is not military though it may involve it; security is not traditional activity though it may encompass it".

    This definition underscores why there should always be a National Security Management mechanism present in the country. Such a mechanism was brought into existence in 1970-71 in relation to Bangladesh operations. Highest level representatives from the MEA, Ministry of Defence, Army HQs and R&AW met to plan, coordinate and execute. A brilliant strategy was thus produced with equally brilliant results. However, the mechanism did not last beyond 1971. It, therefore left no permanent imprint. Furthermore, this is what caused the political dialogue at Simla in 1972 to fail in taking full advantage of the military victory in the 1971 war. At the end of the Simla agreement, the J&K issue returned back to square one. Pakistan has since repeatedly demonstrated that LOC is not sacrosanct.

    The years following have seen no basic changes in the national security decision making systems though some new ideas were tried. Following examples will illustrate:

    1. The decision to go in for the Peaceful Nuclear Explosion in 1974, because China was now considered to be a larger threat than Pakistan, was not a decision based on institutional recommendations.

    2. The policy relating to support to Sri Lankan Tamils grew out of fears that unless such support was forthcoming, the party in power at Delhi will be a loser in Tamil Nadu. This underlying thought governed this policy throughout the period such support was given. The validity of such a thesis was rarely examined independently by competent observers.

    3.The decision to impose emergency in 1975 was again taken without reference to ground realities or credible disinterested assessments thereof.

    4.The decision to have early national polls in 1977 was based on unrealistic studies.

    5. Operation Blue Star was undertaken despite strong dissenting voices.


    Some new institutions like Strategic Care Groups or Core Committee of Secretaries had functioned in 1980s and 1990s where ideas were bounced back and forth to reach a consensus on specific security related policies. Constitution of such groups indicated a desire to decentralise policy making and to consult a wider spectrum of opinion but these objectives failed to be realised as membership was confined to individuals who were more bureaucratic than professionals and whose memberships flowed from the official positions they held rather than the expertise they possessed if any. Often the decisions in such groups degenerated into desultory chats rather than indepth debates or examination of the issues.

    A feeble effort was made in 1990 to give a new direction to decision making by setting up a National Security Council but a change of government at Delhi reduced this effort to naught. Status quo continued in the rest of the decade but in its last year the concept of NSC has been revived.

    This NSC exists merely in form. To be effective it has to be fully and properly structured. The handling of the highjack of IAC 814 in December 1999 would indicate that national security management in the country is still in an embryonic stage.

    The highjack posed two perspectives before the policy maker. One was humanitarian, saving 160 lives. The other was of capitulation to the State behind the overt face of the highjackers and to the ideology which has been the inspiration of this State and which we recognise as having no validity. Most people in the country, including some leaders in the ruling Parivar saw the final decision in the case to be contrary to the supreme national interests. Sentimentality played a big role when national security decision making needs to be entirely objective and cold*blooded.

    However there is reason to believe that in the new millennium wind of change would be blowing, improving decision making. Non state actors like the media, academics and thinktanks have taken upon themselves to direct national issues and recommend for adoption policies and postures. Public interest litigations are compelling the judiciary also to be involved in decision making. Such activity is being noticed at the centre of power, creating an impact. CTBT is a good example of how such pressures are operating.

    These pressures will ultimately hopefully result in the enunciation of a national strategic doctrine and creation of a proper national security management mechanism. The vacuum that exists in public consciousness about national security thinking may then start disappearing, compelling the policy makers to remain always on their toes.
     
  2. Solar Flare

    Solar Flare FULL MEMBER

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    Dude, just a suggestion: When you post lengthy articles, please bold the main points in the articles. You can also change the font color, size of these points so that it catches the eyes of reader and makes it easier to glance over the main points. :mod:
     
  3. Solar Flare

    Solar Flare FULL MEMBER

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    Now that looks nice! :tup: