Consider a few facts: for a nation that has fought major wars and is embroiled in scores of skirmishes and insurgencies on a continuous basis, most Indians know surprisingly little about defence and national security; a country might ‘win’ a war, battle or an engagement, but if the cost of that victory is relatively more than what the enemy had to expend, it amounts to a defeat; the strategy to deal with asymmetric warfare necessitates adoption of correspondingly wily tactics. ‘Hit-and-run’ guerillas need to be countered by ‘search-and-destroy’ missions. These are but a few conclusions that Raghu Raman has drawn, mostly based on his own experiences. Everyman’s War is a compilation of various articles he contributed to national dailies over the years. The book is divided into three broad themes, each dealing with an aspect of national security, strategy and warfare.
Looks like Raghu has figured it all when it comes to either tackling terrorism; bolstering security along borders; combating terrorism; defence production; or, even crime against women and children. A wide gamut of issues that the book covers is almost a 360-degree view of national security.
One of the biggest threats to internal security is suicide attacks. A suicide bomber is the best option in terms of return on investments; assembling a team of motivated persons,hiding them, infiltrating them under secrecy is more difficult than a revenge-crazed or glory-hunting individual; and, while a random explosion itself causes terror, strategic targeting such as assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto has a game-changing potential. There is no magic cure for terrorism. Rightly so, without governance reforms, the menace can’t be checked.
Our country’s ignorance of its defence forces is possibly by design rather than indifference. This needs to change. The book makes a case for this. An important conclusion is that peacetime should be used as the time for improving defence preparedness and internal security.
Raghu has dealt with 26/11 at a great length and says that while security is almost a birthright and a pre-requisite to all other elements of development, aiming to improve it in isolation is naïve. The 26/11 changed the way we looked at ‘security’. Organisations have regrouped themselves in terms of security; no longer do we make faces or throw tantrums caused by security measures; and, the best of all – the government’s response is heartening – there has been no serious attempt to cover up failures post-26/11.
On the issue of social security, the book asserts that without absolving law enforcement authorities, or condoning their insensitivity at times, society at large is equally responsible for rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence. The answer is in creating a strong support structure for victims and high deterrence to potential perpetrators. Interestingly, the proceeds of the book are going to the widows and orphans of security forces who died while on duty.
Everyman’s War is focused on the Indian subcontinent; the issues in it are intrinsic to many developing and developed countries. Raghu says the national security cannot just be the responsibility of a singular set of institutions, departments or ministries. The biggest problem being faced by the country today is bourgeoning population of aspirational youth. Our nation’s resources, therefore, must be channeled towards growth-oriented strategies. This cannot happen in an environment of insecurity, lack of law and order, increasing corruption and widespread systemic inefficiencies. These erode the nation’s faith in its leadership and its shifting plans, leading to policy paralysis.
This is indeed, Everyman’s War!
by Dr Gursharan Dhanjal
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of INCLUSION. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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