Narendra Modi May Be Campaigning On National Security But Rahul Gandhi Has An Actual Plan For It
Congress, with the professional advice of Lt Gen (Retd) GS Hooda, has drawn up a definitive blueprint on national security.
Narendra Modi has made national security the centre of his campaign in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In rally after election rally, he has been using the Balakot airstrikes as a showpiece — a proof of his muscular security policies. It’s worth noting that the Pulwama terror attack happened because 300kgs of RDX, somehow, managed to slip into the country and after that, a vehicle carrying that RDX managed to infiltrate a CRPF convoy, resulting in the death of more than 40 CRPF jawans. Narendra Modi also seems to have buried his mystifying five-hour absence from the hot seat on the day of the Pulwama terror attack. He has also successfully obliterated from public memory that he chose to address a political rally and shoot a documentary for National Geographic in Corbett National Park, even after receiving news of the Pulwama tragedy.
Then comes his interview with a friendly television channel where Narendra Modi expounded his theory of “Entire Cloud Cover”. Personally, rather than reassuring me, the “Entire Cloud Theory” rattled me. It also raises a set of questions.
A ) A person who holds the high office of the prime minister needs to carry gravitas. Does a person espousing cloud cover to evade modern day radar’s really fit to be in that office?
B) Admittedly, even though prime ministers aren’t supposed to know everything, prime ministers are expected to heed to specialist advice.
C) Exactly how deep has the rot seeped in for even the Chief of Air Staff to have acquiesced into proceeding with the Balakot airstrikes, based on the prime minter’s cloud cover theory? Remember, Indira Gandhi postponed the Bangladesh operations by a full nine months, based on professional advice from Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.
D) In the interview, the prime minister was heard saying “Main hairaan hoon, ye jo itne bade bade pundit log hain, mujhe din bhar gaali dete hain, unhon ne kabhi iss taraf dhayn nahi diya (I am surprised that these pundits who abuse me all day, why had they never paid attention to this).” Presumably, the prime minister was referring to atmospheric disturbances. But who are the pundits who abuse him, all day? It couldn’t be the Opposition, for it wasn’t privy to the planning of the airstrike, so was the prime minister referring to the professionals who are supposed to advise him? The nation needs to know who abuses the prime minister of India, and why?
Then we have Rahul Gandhi, who in his capacity as president of the Indian National Congress invited Lt Gen GS Hooda (Retd), of the Uri Surgical Strikes fame, to draw up a definitive blueprint on National Security. Indian National Congress has decided to address security issues, both internal and external, along the lines of the Hooda Report.
The Hooda Report on national security has identified five critical focal points.
1) Assuming our rightful place in global affairs.
2) A secure neighbourhood
3) Peaceful resolution of internal conflicts
4) Safety and security of our citizens
5) Strengthening our capabilities.
To achieve these goals, the Indian National Congress is committed to the principals of:
1) One Border One Force
Currently, many paramilitary forces are tasked with securing our borders on different fronts. At times, this leads to various coordination issues, and the Congress proposes to bring the various paramilitary forces, tasked with securing our borders, under one seamless umbrella.
2) Smart Fencing Along The Myanmar Border.
The northeast, as we know, is a troubled region. Militant separatists infiltrate through the harsh terrain and escape back to their bases in Myanmar. A smart fence, equipped with state of the art surveillance sensors and equipment, is proposed to be built.
3) Border Management Integration and Infrastructure Development
An integrated border management system has been proposed and dedicated funds, for rapid infrastructure development along the border, has been promised.
4) Coastal Security
Currently, fifteen different agencies are in charge of coastal security. This is set to change, and all these agencies could be integrated into a single entity. This will be done by passing the Coastal Security Bill to set up a National Maritime Authority.
5) Boosting Military Capabilities
To cement the discontinuity between the men in uniform and the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence, the Congress has proposed to transform the MOD into a fully integrated headquarters, by posting service officers to the MOD. A Chief of Defence Staff will be appointed immediately as the principal advisor on matters of security. These two steps, it is believed will improve coordination & decision making.
From ad hoc budgets, Congress proposes to move to fund allocation based on mid- to long-term requirements of the armed forces, jointly arrived at by the three services.
Delayed arms procurement has been the bane of the armed forces. A new accountability-based structure has been proposed, and the persons responsible for delays will be held accountable.
6) Indigenisation of Defence Production
At present, the nation relies on imports for 90 per cent of its defence needs. To truly become a regional and global superpower, it is essential that India creates a Military-Industrial base of its own. To achieve this goal, Congress proposes to pursue joint development of platforms along with friendly countries and trusted partners, incentivise and support domestic private sector players who get into defence production, streamline PSU defence production units and encourage DRDO, to focus on new generation technologies.
7) Intelligence Apparatus
Intelligence failure is the most-cited reason after every terror strikes the hits the country. The best way to deal with terror attacks is to pre-empt them. For this Congress proposes to establish an all-new intelligence cadre, which will be manned by qualified personnel and will be required to have a familiarity with languages, local customs and knowledge of the region they’re operating in. The proposed intelligence machinery will be populated with people drawn from the broadest spectrum of society possible, and they could be from the civil bureaucracy, armed forces, information technology, economists etc.
The Congress also proposes to grant statutory basis to the National Security Council (NSC) and the office of the National Security Advisor (NSA) and even set up a Parliamentary Standing Committee on intelligence to act as a watchdog.
8) Cyber Security
Cyberwars are and could be the next battlefield and to deal with this, the Congress proposes to upgrade the Defence Cyber Agency to a full-fledged Cyber Command, with a mandate to conduct a full range of cyberspace operations, formulate policies on how to deal with malicious cyber-attacks and encourage production and development of indigenous hardware and software platforms.
To conclude, we have Narendra Modi and his “Cloud Cover Theory”, and we have Rahul Gandhi who seems to have an actual plan for national security.