National security in challenging times!

May 4, 2021, 11:09 AM

National security has been the buzzword in International Relations since the times of the formation of nation-states.

Territorial security in pre-colonial and colonial times got merely translated into national security when nation-states were carved out of the protectorates and colonies. The concept drew majorly from Hans Morgenthau’s understanding of securing national interest by the preservation of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and internal stability from external forces. It did not change much until the 1980s when the non-traditional security aspect was felt to be equally affecting national security if not directly.

Today, while the global security is under threat as the world faces an unprecedented challenge in the form of a “faceless enemy”, the COVID-19 pandemic; nevertheless, securing national interests remains paramount even in this situation.

As the pandemic affects all dimensions either directly or in indirect sense, therefore ‘national outlook for national security approach’ is important for an overall inclusive development of nations. While the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called the crisis the “Great Lockdown” and has predicted a slump in economy worse than the Great Depression; social implications of the pandemic will also be huge. India itself witnessed huge mass displacement during the time of lockdowns.

Advancement in technology has enabled state and non-state actors to upgrade their military capabilities and the ability to disrupt huge systems by attacking strategic assets respectively. To top it all, while the genesis of COVID-19 remains unclear, sceptics fear the misuse of such viruses by non-state actors to cause maximum disruption and to create threat perception. And thus, it is like an open wound that requires permanent healing!

Spread of new virus has made it clear that non-traditional threats to security are activated, however, traditional threats to national security still remain valid. India’s northern adversary’s rise and influence on India’s neighbourhood through its ambitious projects and investments, its recent belligerence on the border, and India’s western adversary’s constant pestering with activation of non-state actors in Kashmir, signal that heightened security apparatus at the borders cannot be downplayed.

A national outlook calls for involvement of all sections of society in nation building. Given the youthful demographic status of the country, it becomes necessary to make the younger generations aware of the growing national security challenges and threats that India faces.

No-one wants to feel insecure. The foundational element of the social contract between people and government is security. National security, then, must reasonably be one of the central concerns of both government and opposition.

A Guest Editorial

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