News report published in The Hindu related to CPPR 16th Quarterly Lecture delivered by Admiral Arun Prakash

Image source: The Hindu

With Indian politicians being traditionally indifferent to national security, successive governments have failed to develop a national security strategy and this has placed much needed national security reform on the back burner, said former Navy Chief Admiral (retired) Arun Prakash.

Delivering a lecture on ‘India’s security challenges’ at an event organised by the Centre for Public Policy Research here on Tuesday, Mr. Prakash said the general elections this year marked a shift in political focus with national security being seen as a vote-catching issue that contributed to the NDA government’s victory. He identified the absence of domestic peace as one of the key challenges to national security. Whether the pursuit of majoritarianism is a good idea for a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual country like India must be questioned, Mr. Prakash said.

He said 60% of the budget allocation for defence goes on pay and pensions, leaving little to buy new hardware.

“The most expensive item is not hardware but manpower. China has replaced manpower with fire power and men with technology. But India seems to have missed the point,” said the two-time member of the National Security Advisory Board.

Besides, successive governments and inattentive defence ministers have left the country with a half-empty arsenal.

The Ministry of Defence is manned by a civilian bureaucracy with little knowledge of strategic affairs, he said.

“The Indian bureaucracy takes pride in being generalists who can switch from Centre to State and ministry to ministry with equal facility. But national security requires continuity and deep expertise,” Mr. Prakash said, calling for better integration between the bureaucracy and the armed forces.

The new government has elevated the National Security Advisor to Cabinet rank and announced the position of a chief of defence staff. But, without policies to back these announcements, they will make the status of the service chiefs uncertain with regard to the new posts, he said.

This news report was published in The Hindu on October 16, 2019. Click here to read

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