A new government should be in place within the next fortnight. It would have to grapple with a difficult legacy left behind by UPA II. The internal security situation is dismal. Our external relations are at low ebb. The economy is in slowdown mode.
Whichever party or combination forms the government, it will have to give very high priority to reorganising and strengthening national security. It may sound shocking—and yet it is true—that even after more than 66 years of Independence, we have not yet defined our national security doctrine. Not that we are incapable of it, but it is just that our political masters never felt the need for doing so. It also suited them because in the absence of well-defined principles, they could always pursue a policy which would fit into their political agenda. Great powers have a codified national security strategy and these are in the public domain. Our national security doctrine must also be finalised on a priority basis. The country must have a formidable comprehensive national power, or what the Chinese call zongheguoli.
On a smaller scale, we will need to define our policies on four major threats to internal security: terrorism, transnational and domestic; Maoist insurgency; separatist and secessionist movements in the Northeast; and militancy in J&K.
Terrorism, from a long-term point of view, poses the biggest challenge because terrorists are opposed to the very idea of India and they want to destroy the country politically, economically and culturally. UPA has unfortunately been very ambivalent in its attitude to the problem. Important ministers of the government have made preposterous statements that there is no organisation like Indian Mujahideen in the country. This ostrich-like attitude has enabled the domestic terrorist groups expand their network. The transnational terrorists are going to exploit the vacuum created by the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. A Jaish-e-Mohammad leader, Asmatullah Muawiya, has openly said India will become a major target of terrorist assault after the US withdraws from Afghanistan. Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed has been making statements full of venom against India every now and then. The country must have a clear anti-terror policy backed by a stringent anti-terror law—sharper than the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The Maoist insurgency has shown geographical shrinkage, but it retains the capacity to launch “spectacular attacks”. The insurgency could be contained in less than five years provided the leadership shows strong political will and pursues a well-defined policy. To start with, the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army will have to be neutralised through sustained counter-insurgency operations and that will have to be followed by socio-economic development of the areas reclaimed. The government will have to come down with a heavy hand on the corrupt element frustrating the implementation of flagship schemes and it would also have to ensure an effective grievance redressal machinery. Land alienated from tribals will need to be restored to them. And, above all, there will have to be genuine attempt to win the hearts and minds of people in the affected regions.
In the Northeast, it will have to be made clear to the insurgent groups that while their genuine political aspirations would be met within the framework of the Constitution, there would be no tolerance of violent activities on any pretext. The terms of suspension of operations agreements, wherever negotiated, must be enforced in letter and spirit. Peace talks meandering for decades should be pushed to successful finale.
Jammu and Kashmir should be gradually integrated with the rest of the country in all matters and the separatist elements cut to size. The issue of PoK should be kept alive and pressure put on China to withdraw from the areas it has occupied in the border state.
There is no problem which cannot be resolved. There is no height which cannot be scaled. There is no depth which cannot be fathomed. The problems may appear formidable, but the country has the resources and political and economic strength to get over them. What is needed is a strong political will or, what Sri Aurobindo described as, “the aggressive virtues, the spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance, courageous attack”.