India Strategic Review

Nowadays, India as a developing country[1] in Asia tries to boost their position into an economic giant in Asia. India as the world’s seventh largest country has begun economic reforms in 1991, and its economic reforms dramatically altered economic policy to privatize state-owned enterprises and to promote competition and investment. The economic focus of the country has since changed from one based on self-sufficiency to one based on trade with other countries. With this economic reform, India competes as new economic power in the region. Geographically , India is bounded on the north by Afghanistan, China, Nepal, and Bhutan; on the east by Bangladesh, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), and the Bay of Bengal; on the south by the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannār (which separates it from Sri Lanka) and the Indian Ocean; and on the west by the Arabian Sea and Pakistan. This geographical condition placed India as a main actor in south Asia.

With its role as the main actors in the region, National Security becomes the most important concern for India. This paper will try to analyze the meaning of National Security for India and the implementations of it. Furthermore, this paper also analyzes threats to India’s National Security Policy. The structure of this paper itself divided into 3 main sections. First, background concepts, that tries to explain any concepts that used to analyze the issues. Second part is analysis, this section will consist of implementation from the concepts to the case and explain what kind of threats that faced by India. The last part but not least is conclusion, it will conclude every analysis about India’s National Security Policy.

Background Concepts


This paper will use Systems-Analysis Approach to Policymaking as a major approach to analyze national security issues. This approach holds that many different inputs go into the policy process. These inputs create political dynamics within the policymaking machinery, which must reconcile a number of competing interests and design a policy acceptable to most. In turn, the impact of policy must be measured by feedback

We can see that there are two main factors on national security of developing states such as India. First, Against Internal Threats:

· Security through strengthening the state: eliminating internal contradictions that may give rise to internal conflict.

Aims at minimizing the state’s own vulnerability. It would reduce the number and intensity of internal threats and also minimize the opportunities for external interventions in domestic affairs. This approach referred to the development of national resilience which includes economics, politics and socio-cultural developments.


· Security through suppression of opposing forces.

It usually encounters resistance from the opposing forces, at times leading to use of violence; emphasizes a tight military policy (security approach), and is designed to eliminate the dissidents and simultaneously entrench the position of the regime or group in power.


Second, Against External threats:

· Security through power and international alliance/alignment.

It has the function of deterrence and containment. States may seek to enhance their standing in the Balance of Power equation by developing their own power or by augmenting their power through international alliance


· Security through non-alignment,neutralization, equidistance.

This approach was a response to the tight bipolar international system of the cold war. This approach also has been used to describe the policies of the developing states with different kinds of security problems. By using this approach, nation states seek to achieve common security.[2]


· Security through regional order and cooperation.

It has the objective of national development and maintenance of favorable regional environment to reduce or eliminate external military threats to national security from states of region. It is assumed that regional cooperation has the potential to:

o Prevent intervention by members in each other internal affairs.

o Create regulatory mechanism to facilitate the resolution and adjustment of intra-regional problems through peaceful means.

o Regulate the involvement of great powers in the region

o Enhance the stability and solidarity of the region

o Minimize interference by extra regional powers.

These approaches seek to pursue a comprehensive security.[3]

In order to Analyze India National Security Policy, we could also use the three dimensions of NSP, which consist of:

n Diplomatic: concerns the handling of political relationship among nation-states and within the International Organization.

n Economic: focuses on the allocation of resources in society as well as economic relationship with other nation-states, international financial institutions. It also focuses of foreign aid, arms sales, economic sanctions

n Military policy: consists of policies that directly concern the armed forces and the use of military forces such as military strategy (the plan for the use of military force) and force structure (the organizations, soldiers, military equipment, and the actual capabilities to execute military strategy.



India’s national security policy today faces strategic threats both from external and internal, which are in marked variance to its earlier geographical, historical or cultural configurations.

Internal Threats:

Economic Disparity Between Its People

Economic development in India creates new dilemma. In one side, India has become one of the most growing economic countries. In other hands there is inequality or uneven between groups and some area in India. The economic growth in India mostly benefited India’s middle and upper-middle classes.[4] Besides that, unemployment still becomes main problem in India because huge number of populations makes working opportunity percentage reduced. Unemployment rates in India are difficult to estimate because many people work in temporary or part-time jobs. Few workers are permanently unemployed, but seasonally or marginally employed people such as agricultural laborers are often under employed.[5]

Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir

Conflicts in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir are each the result of centralized power operating in a predominantly heterogeneous society.[6] Although tensions in the two states have important historical roots, they have been fueled by controversy over the policies of India’s central government. Opposition is built upon the feeling that political power in New Delhi is inaccessible and unresponsive to local needs.

Ethnic and regional tensions also raged out of control in the strategically sensitive Jammu and Kashmir. The conflict assumes considerable symbolic as well as strategic importance because, as India’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir validates India’s national identity as a religiously and culturally diverse society held together by a common history and cultural heritage.[7] The roots of the Kashmir conflict extend at least as far back as 1947 when Maharaja Hari Singh, the princely state’s Hindu ruler, decided to cede his domain with its predominantly Muslim population to the Indian Union at a time when Kashmir was under attack by a Muslim paramilitary force supported by Pakistan

The Kashmir crisis of the 1990s is reflective of trends occurring throughout the Indian polity: the increasing intervention of the central government in local affairs, the resort to coercion to resolve social conflict and maintain social order, and the increasing political assertiveness of the Indian public.

Hindu-Muslim Tensions

Rapid urbanization has uprooted individuals from their previous occupations and communities and placed many in competition for new livelihoods. Newcomers who succeed frequently provoke antipathy, and many riots have targeted successful Muslim merchants, business owners, and Muslim returnees from the Persian Gulf states, where they often earn incomes many times higher than they would have earned in India. High-caste Hindus, fearing the loss of their social prestige, have provided an important social base for Hindu militancy.

Changes in the nature of India’s political process also have contributed to the rise of religious tensions. Analysts from a variety of perspectives have commented on the increasing willingness of India’s politicians to exploit religious and ethnic tensions for short-term political gain, regardless of their longer-term social consequences.[8] The violence of religious militants in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir has also contributed to sentiment among the Hindu majority that religious minorities employ aggressive tactics to win special concessions from the government.

The manipulation of India’s religious tensions by militants, criminals, and politicians highlighted the extent to which religious sentiments in India had become an object of exploitation.[9] Religious tensions eased somewhat and incidents of communal violence declined during the remainder of 1993 and through 1994, but the persistence of the social conditions that gave birth to violence and the continued opportunism of India’s politicians suggest that the relative peace may be only an interlude.[10]


Corruption not only has become a pervasive aspect of Indian politics but also has become an increasingly important factor in Indian elections. The extensive role of the Indian state in providing services and promoting economic development has always created the opportunity for using public resources for private benefit. Politicians have become so closely identified with corruption in the public eye that a Times of India poll of 1,554 adults in six metropolitan cities found that 98 percent of the public is convinced that politicians and ministers are corrupt, with 85 percent observing that corruption is on the increase.


The Indian media both print and electronic has developed imperialistic attitudes towards the coverage, analysis and projection of national security issues.[11] In a bid to make money, national security interests were given a go by this portal. A noble mantle was sought to be worn by depicting it as a crusade against corruption.

Some Indian journals, indulged in politicising the issues of military commanders performances on the basis of leaked classified documents. They did not even bother to think that such irresponsible journalism not only affects the national security of the country but also the morale of the Indian Armed Forces. It also affects the confidence of the uniformed personnel in the Indian media, who should really strive to be a pillar of the state rather than a money-spinning enterprise of some industrial house, depending on sensationalism for its wider circulation.[12]

India as a nation state is still in the formative stages and many challenges both external and internal threaten its existence and integrity. The Indian media should refrain from applying western templates of journalism as neither the political & strategic context nor the national cohesion as existent in the West is presently obtainable in India.

External Threats:

Any national security doctrine (NSD) of India has to facing the possibility of external threats from two main sources, China and Pakistan besides others minor reasons.


The threat from Pakistan has always remained and will continue to remain of a very high order due to the following reasons:[13]

Ø Pakistan’s inability to reconcile itself to the loss of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and its obsessive urge to gain control of this territory.

Ø Its equally obsessive urge to avenge its defeat at the hands of India in 1971 and its loss of the then East Pakistan.

Ø Pakistan also have a Nuclear Capability that can be serious threat for India as a neighbor country.

Ø The predominant role of the revenge-seeking Pakistani Army in its national security management, with practically no role for an elected political leadership in this matter.

Ø Its refusal to work for a reduction of tension and for the improvement of relations in other fields till a negotiated solution could be found to the Kashmir question.

Ø The complexes and the feelings of insecurity from which the Pakistan Army suffers vis-a-vis its Indian counterpart.

Ø The role of the pan-Islamic extremist elements in moulding perceptions towards India, whether in the civil society or in the national security apparatus.


The threat from China was rated high because of the border dispute between the two countries, the clandestine military and nuclear assistance given by the Chinese Government to the Pakistani Armed Forces in order to keep the Indian Security Forces preoccupied on two fronts and the support extended by the Chinese intelligence agencies to the tribal insurgent groups of India’s North-East. China also continues to pre-occupy the attention of India’s national security managers due to the following reasons:

Ø The very slow progress of the talks on the border issue giving rise to misgivings that it probably wants to keep this issue alive till it has totally pacified Tibet to its satisfaction.[14] Though there is no more unrest in Tibet, which has been developing economically, the Dalai Lama still enjoys a large following there. The Chinese are determined that when the present Dalai Lama dies, his successor would be a man of their choice. They apprehend that this could give rise to serious unrest, which could be exploited by the Tibetan diaspora in India and elsewhere.[15] By keeping the border issue alive, China wants to retain a pressure point which it can exploit should India show reluctance to keep the Tibetan refugees under control. In national security matters, the Chinese, unlike the Indians, work on a long-term basis and try to develop today options which they may need years hence should circumstances so warrant.

Ø China’s continued clandestine assistance to Pakistan in the military nuclear field and in the acquisition of a missile-based delivery capability. Even as Beijing was entering into an agreement with Rajiv Gandhi on improving bilateral relations, it was secretly entering an agreement with Islamabad for assistance in the missile field. [16]

Ø China’s decision in 2001 to assist Pakistan in the construction of the Gwadar port on the Balochistan coast, which would reduce Pakistan’s present dependence on the Karachi port, which is within easy reach of the Indian Navy, and give the Pakistani Navy a greater operational flexibility.[17]


Refugees from Neighbor Countries

This issue has become a minor threat for India’s National Security, if we see India on the map; there are several neighbor countries besides China and Pakistan such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. When we talk about refugees, every country that neighboring India always becomes a threat, this is because movement of people from one country to others hard to controlled. Even though it was a minor threat, it still becoming an important issue to prevent. No ones know what will happen if those people who moved from one country to others were terrorist group and try to build a network in this region. With this condition, India needs to cooperate with the other neighbors to tightening their borders security.


Instrument of Policies

In order to facing any threat to India’s National Security Policy, several instruments can be used to secure the National Security of India. Those instruments are:


India has friendly relations with several countries in the developing world. Though India is not a part of any major military alliance, it has close strategic and military relationship with most of the major powers. India’s large growing economy, strategic location and friendly foreign policy has won it more allies than enemies. India keeps building cooperation with other countries bilaterally and multilaterally in order to strengthening their position in global politics.

Countries considered India’s closest allies include Russia, Israel and South Africa. India has a key strategic alliance with several other countries including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Nepal, Bhutan, Persian Gulf countries, African Union and South East Asian countries. After economic liberalization in 1992, India has forged its relationship with other developing countries especially South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, and People’s Republic of China. India’s decade old “Look East” policy has helped it develop greater economic and strategic partnership with ASEAN, South Korea and Taiwan.

Political and Social Cultural Development

Political and social Cultural development becomes the other instrument that used by India to secure its national security. Government tries to promote fundamental values such as human rights, liberties, and democratization. the fundamental paradox of India’s political economy and elaborates the core causes of failure of the democratically guided strategies to reconcile economic growth with redistribution and to mitigate the condition of extreme poverty which remains as pervasive as ever, with some 350 to 400 million Indians, roughly 40 percent of the population, living under variously drawn poverty lines.[18] India can reduce poverty through rapid economic growth and population control strategies, but without any effective programme India’s rural development experiment will collapse and the balance between democracy and development will be badly affected.[19]


Economic Development

After suffered a financial crisis in the early 1990s, India now has become one of economic giant in the world. The crisis led India to reforms its policies (primarily in economic sectors) with the goal was to boost Indian growth by fostering trade, FDI, and portfolio equity flows while avoiding debt flows that were believed as potential destabilizing factors.[20] In years, India has been extensive but selective liberalization.[21] After through some difficult years India success to gain international thrust and many international investors invest their money in India especially in IT sectors (India now well known with their IT development with Silicon Valley as an icon). Now, India tries to create or build themselves as a future “super power” in Asia besides China.

India also use WTO as their instrument to increase their economic condition, with an active role in WTO, India gets wider market share for their product and attract investor to invest their money in India. Economic development become the most important instrument for India to compete with others countries in this globalize world.


Military Power

Indian Army

With total troop strength of around 3.8 million (1.3 million active, 1.2 million reserve and 1.3 million para-military) and is the second largest standing army in the world, India’s military forces become one of the important instrument to counter every threats that may endanger India’s national security. India’s army has rich combat experience in diverse terrains, considering India’s diversity on this front, and also has a distinguished history of serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Nuclear Capability

India’s primary objective is to achieve economic, political, social, scientific and technological development within a peaceful and democratic framework. This requires an environment of durable peace and insurance against potential risks to peace and stability.[22] In the absence of global nuclear disarmament, India’s strategic interests require effective, credible nuclear deterrence and adequate retaliatory capability. This is consistent with the UN Charter, which sanctions the right of self-defence. The fundamental purpose of Indian nuclear weapons is to deter the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons by any State or entity against India and its forces.[23] India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail. This instrument gives India higher bargaining position when they faced or involved in international issues.



India is to be the predominant power in the South Asia region. It already is in terms of size, natural resources and human resources. It has a lead in the sub-continent in terms of economy, industrial development and infrastructure and hi-technology sectors. India with its nuclear capability however is not dominant in military power, as Pakistan has been built up as the ‘regional spoiler’ state by China in terms of a nuclear weapons and missile arsenal. China has been engaged for the last two decades specifically to arrest India’s emergence as the predominant power in South Asia by its proxy efforts through Pakistan.

India today faces strategic threats to its national security both external and internal, which are in marked variance to its earlier geographical, historical or cultural configurations. To handle the threats, the Indian government uses some instrument polices such as diplomatic, economic development, military power, political and socio-cultural development. India’s Foreign Relations reflect a traditional policy of nonalignment. For over half a century, the Indian nation state has continuously been projected as a ‘Soft State’ by the politicization of national security issues. India’s political leadership shied away from the use of national power to safeguard India’s security or sought soft escape routes. All of them try to bring the spirit of non-alignment into a virtue and some of them even justifying it as a well thought out and well deliberated strategy of India’s national security.

India’s national security and defence is not solely, the duty of the Indian Armed Forces. India’s national security and defence is equally the responsibility of all its citizens. They must not only study matters military, but also be alive to dangers to India’s security, both from external and internal threats. As regards India’s parliamentarians and politicians are concerned, their responsibility in this respect is far more.

[1] The World Bank’s main criteria for classifying economies is gross national income (GNI) per capita. This term was referred to as gross national product, or GNP. Economies are divided according to 2005 GNI per capita, calculated using the World Bank Atlas method. The groups are: low income, $875 or less; lower middle income, $876 – $3,465; upper middle income, $3,466 – $10,725; and high income, $10,726 or more. Low-income and middle-income economies are sometimes referred to as developing economies. India is in between $ 600-$800 level, it makes India still being categorized as a developing country.

[2] There are six principles of common security: 1. Acknowledgment that all nation-states have a legitimate right to security, 2. Proscription of military forces as an instrument of dispute resolution, 3. Restraint in the expression of NSP, 4. Reductions and qualitatively limitations of armament, 5. Recognition that security can not be attained through military superiority, 6. The avoidance of linkages between arms negotiation and political events

[3] This term is not merely focused on the use of military power as an instrument of policy, but incorporated other political, economic, and diplomatic means to achieve national and regional security.

[4] Look, accessed on 21 May, at 7:30 pm

[5] Ibid

[6] Look, accessed on 21 May, at 7:30 pm

[7] Ibid

[8] Look, accessed on 21 may 2007, at 7:30 pm

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Look:, Accesed on 21 May 2007 at 7:30 pm

[12] Ibid

[13] Look:, accessed on 21 May 2007, at 7:30 pm

[14] Look:, Accesed on 21 May 2007 at 7:30 pm

[15] Ibid

[16] Look:, op cit

[17] Ibid

[18] Look, accessed on 21 May 2007 at 7:30 pm

[19] Ibid

[20] Look L.Alan Winters and Shahid Yusuf (2007). “Dancing with Giants”, The World Bank and IPS, page 117.

[21] Summarized in Lane and Schmukler (2006). ”The International Financial Integration of China and India.” Discussion Paper 5852, Centre for Economic Policy Research, London.

[22] Look, accessed on 21 May 2007

[23] Ibid


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