Pune: Against the backdrop of the Pune Dialogue on National Security which will be held in the city on September 15-16 at ICC towers, Lt Gen Shamsher Singh Mehta (Retd) interacted with Sakal Times on various aspects of national security.
Q. What is the definition of national security?
A. People often confuse national security with national defence. They are two sides of the same coin but when you talk about national defence, it’s related to sovereignty, territorial integrity, and ability to contain internal disorder, to look after international threats and to fulfill any international obligation a country might have. But national security is much more than that, one of the issues that Pune Dialogue on National Security is that while national defence may be the concern of people who are charged with the responsibility of doing it but national security is the concern of every citizen of the country.
There are 5-6 things that are of utmost importance to national security are water, education, energy security, environment, technology and health.
Currently, there is no link between education and employment, therefore, the idea of Skill India or identifying people who can create a level of skill to create employment for themselves is being promoted likewise the way energy market reacts has a direct impact on the economy which in turn has an effect of on national security. Similarly, if the health of the people is affected due to any pandemic, it affects the national security.
As the world has moved towards globalisation, technology also has an important role to play in national security. So these all things add up to national security so it’s not necessary that a country which can defend itself can also secure itself.
Q. What role does technology play in ensuring national security?
A. Our country is not a major hub for research and development and in the absence of that, manufacturing in the market is not catching up the way it should considering our population. Unless one is not very good in research and development, one has to find ways and means to gather technology. The method to gather technology is to see how you deal with large ticket items, for instance, the affordable defence expenditure is an engine of national growth because if it is spent well, it brings in a certain level of technology which then raises the level of manufacturing and creates jobs in the market. It makes sure that you catch up with technology in relation to the rest of the world.
Q. How you see India in the context of rising China and threat of Islamic extremism as well the new global disorder?
A. India has 20% of world population and such a large population cannot be marginalised for a long time. In the emerging world order, a large number of people across the world begin to feel that the world is moving out of control - within that framework India needs to be at the high table. Hennery Kissinger in his book mentioned that India will be the fulcrum of the world. Because of our free market, youth population and ability to absorb civilisations makes us acceptable to the world and our say in worldly issue will be considered as important.
Q. Can you elaborate on challenges faced by India?
A. We face a large number of challenges internally and externally. According to the famous quote of Kautilya, there are four kinds of threats - external threat externally averted, external threat internally averted, internal threat externally averted and internal threat internally averted. We face all four types of threats but because of our size, our youthfulness as a nation and our ability to navigate through these challenges will allow us to find space for us at high table as far the emerging world order is concerned.