An essay on "National Security: Within and Beyond Borders" by Deepika Singla is a comprehensive analysis of safeguarding borders and preserving internal cohesion which is persistently under the threat of extremism, separatist tendencies, fake news, hate speech, lack of basic income, inadequate health facilities, and widespread illiteracy.

An essay on "National Security: Within and Beyond Borders" by Deepika Singla is a comprehensive analysis of safeguarding borders and preserving internal cohesion which is persistently under the threat of extremism, separatist tendencies, fake news, hate speech, lack of basic income, inadequate health facilities, and widespread illiteracy. National security is not a concept only confined to the protection of the borders of the country. Instead, it has widened itself to encompass the security of every individual in terms of providing him political, social, economic, and environmental well-being. It is about equity, justice, peace, and stability in each front of life.

It is freedom from conflicts, riots, and violence that threatens not just the borders of a nation but even the walls of an individual's home. It is about no poverty, zero hunger, clean energy, economic efficiency, resource optimization, and strong defense forces. It is about development, inclusiveness, responsiveness, and empowerment. It is about building capabilities and augmenting the capacities of each citizen of the nation by providing him an education, skills, health, employment, and basic income.

The author opines that by working hard and leaving no stone unturned, both the government and citizens can turn the security of the nation into a new leaf

A Brief Introduction: National Security

A nation that is militarily strong, socially inclusive, politically accountable, financially empowered, economically efficient, gender neutral, environmentally sustainable, and humanly capable, is secure in the true sense. Such a secure nation is resilient and resistant to the ills of terrorism, extremism, radicalism, unemployment, poverty, inequality, discrimination, subjugation, hunger, injustice, tyranny, ignorance, expulsion, and exploitation.

The term National Security is no longer just about the defense and protection of territorial integrity. The prevailing socio-economic and political environment has widened the perspective with which the security of a nation should be visualized. A nation could be secure provided both its internal and external security is safeguarded. Not just the modernization of defense forces but the development of each citizen of the country is vital to ensure the security of the nation. The widening internal faults have to be mended with similar zeal as is being done to maintain territorial sovereignty.

The colonial rule that India witnessed was not just a consequence of poor border management and defense strategies, instead, it was a result of illiteracy, divisiveness, lack of fraternity and unity, as well as economic insecurity. The terrorist attacks, communal riots, distressed migration, hunger, unemployment, and poverty all symbolize an unsecured nation.

All-Inclusive Security

One can be secure if he enjoys freedom from fear and wants. This is only possible if there is well-being in all aspects that make human life worth living. Thus, along with terror-free borders we need want free citizens. This is only possible if we bring a paradigm shift in the 'Security Strategy' and make it comprehensive by encompassing all fronts of human life – health, food, water, education, environment, finance, politics, and society – along with security on the borders.

Defense Security: A militarily strong country can only protect its citizens. India, having both land and maritime borders need protection on both fronts. India is continuously under threat from incursions and invasions by China and Pakistan as well as from other non-state actors. To protect a nation from external forces, it is necessary to have able and strong armed forces to defend the sovereignty of the nation and the lives of its people. Thus defensive defense is necessary to maintain territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Political Security: With the world witnessing the rise of military coups (Myanmar), the capture of power by non-state actors (Afghanistan), the fleeing away of top government authorities (Sri Lanka), and protests against the authoritarian regimes (Kazakhstan) it becomes necessary to ensure a stable government for the stability of the country. A country with an unstable governance structure is bound to suffer from crisis, conflicts, and protests making it more vulnerable to being attacked by extremist forces. Thus, it is necessary to have a stable government both at the national level and state level and to provide people with the civil liberties they are entitled to, to keep extremist and separatist tendencies under check.

Economic Security: Economic development is foremost for ensuring national security. Unemployment, poverty, inequity in income, and financial inclusion make a nation weak whereby its citizens do not have sufficient disposable income to fulfill their basic needs. As per World Inequality Report 2022, India stands out as a 'poor & very unequal country with an affluent elite', where the top 10% holds 57% of total national income while the bottom 50% share is just 13% (2021). Further, it adds to the socio-economic cost of the nation as most of the potential lies untapped. Economic inefficiency is the biggest threat to a nation as it prevents optimum utilization of scarce resources and adds to wastage. Unemployment leads to unrest among youth.

As highlighted in the Global Risks Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF) "Widespread youth disillusionment" is one of the main risks for India. By "widespread youth disillusionment" WEF refers to "youth disengagement, lack of confidence and loss of trust of existing economic, political and social structures at a global school, negatively impacting social stability, individual well-being, and economic productivity." Thus, financial inclusiveness, employment, eradication of poverty, and equality of income are necessary for building a secure nation.

Health Security: Good health is necessary for human survival, livelihood, and dignity. India ranked 66th out of 195 countries in the Global Health Security Index 2021. National security is not just about protection from state and non-state actors, but also encompasses protection from emerging infectious diseases and other health outcomes that can threaten the nation's economic vitality. Unhealthy citizens cannot serve as the productive workforce to build capital assets for the country rendering the country persistently vulnerable to security threats from state and non-state actors or from natural threats like climate change and diseases.

Educational Security: India ranked 132nd among 191 countries and territories on the 2021 Human Development Index (HDI), a report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). India's expected years of schooling stand at 11.9 years, down from 12.2 years in the 2020 report, although the mean years of schooling are up at 6.7 years from 6.5 years in the 2020 report. Illiteracy is the most convenient way to enslave others and deprive them of freedoms and hamper their security. Education empowers an individual by making him independent, financially secure, and politically aware thereby making an individual secure.

Food Security: India is ranked at 71st position in the Global Food Security (GFS) Index 2021 of 113 countries. The affordability, availability, accessibility, quality, and stability of food are necessary to end hunger, malnourishment and ensure nutritional security. A country where food systems remain vulnerable to economic, climatic, and geopolitical shocks is bound to suffer from social tensions such as inequality, poverty, and loss of community cohesion. All of this led to an increase in the threat of civil unrest hampering the security of the country.

Water Security: India faces a serious and persistent water crisis owing to a growing imbalance of supply and demand, as well as poor water resource management and climate change. With only 2% of Earth's landmass and 4% of freshwater resources, India supports 18% of the human population and 15% of livestock. Although not a 'water scarce' nation yet India is projected to face severe water stress by 2050. Declining water tables mean increased cost of pumping, and salty irrigation water as a result of over-abstraction leading to crop and revenue losses for farmers, and long-term consequences for water availability. Poor water quality and lack of adequate access to sanitation are also major causes of disease and poor health. Access to water and sanitation is directly related to people's lives and livelihoods, including access to food, agriculture, employment, etc. Thus water insecurity can lead to widespread unrest, conflicts, and migration, thereby fueling instability.

Societal Security: India is a melting pot of immense diversity in terms of caste, race, religion, and culture. This diversity is continuously under threat of communalism, casteism, racism, and cultural, linguistic, and ethnic animosity. These acts are a threat to the internal security and stability of the country which crops up in form of extremism, riots, protests, violence, burning of public infrastructure, etc. Morton Berkowitz and Books defined national security as a

"nation's ability to preserve its internal values from external dangers is still inadequate. It implies that dangers to a country's security originate from the outside, but it ignores the threat from within."

Uncertainty, inequality, and insecurity go hand in hand with a lack of trust and cohesiveness. Thus, security within the borders is also vital for a secure nation.

Environmental Security: India has figured at the bottom of the 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranking of 180 countries, released by US-based institutions. The security of a country is intrinsically tied to its resource availability and ecological balance. Unsustainable utilization of resources raises incidences of climate extremities which pose a huge threat to national security by leading to loss of lives, livelihood, and infrastructure. A nation with an unsecured environment is open to natural disasters, intra and inter-generational inequity, and climate-induced migration. The recent heat waves have led to a decline in wheat production thereby threatening food security and the financial security of the stakeholders involved. Hence it is imperative to have ecological security.

Gender Security: The Global Gender Gap Report 2022 places India at 135 out of 146 countries. Gender inclusiveness in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, survival and health, and political empowerment is necessary for the security of the nation. A nation that doesn't respect gender diversity is vulnerable as it increases dependents. A country that is non-inclusive in terms of gender, deprives itself of transforming its demographic bulge into a demographic dividend. Women and transgender have to be ensured of equality, liberty, and justice at par with men to build a secure and safe nation.

Energy Security: India has been ranked at 87th position among 115 countries in the Energy Transition Index (ETI) published by World Economic Forum. Energy security is necessary to drive the economic engine of the country. With increasing geopolitical crisis and weaponization of energy sources, it has become necessary to be secure in terms of energy. This is because energy needs determine the foreign policy and economic development of a country. A country that is excessively dependent on energy imports; has an insufficient level of diversification of energy supply sources and technologies; and suffers from limited use of its own energy potential and new technologies, low fuel, and energy efficiency, distortion of market mechanisms in the energy sector; criminalization and corruption in institutions; and ineffective energy efficiency and energy supply policy; is vulnerable to be influenced by external forces and has impaired food and economic security.

Cyber Security: Cybercrime and warfare have emerged as a new threat to the security of the nation in the age where data is the new oil. The protection of the cyber ecosystem is necessary for the protection of a country's critical infrastructure. Lack of cyber security can disrupt, destroy, or threaten the delivery of essential services; can act as a haven for illicit money; hamper the financial system, etc. India reported more than 50,000 cybercrimes in 2020 with a 12% surge over 2019. So it is necessary for a country to protect information and information infrastructure in cyberspace, build capabilities to prevent and respond to cyber threats, reduce vulnerabilities and minimize damage from cyber incidents.

Making a blitz for a Secure Nation

Indian constitution provides a framework for holistic security of the citizens. It provides for sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, and republic governments. It directs the state to ensure socio-economic-political justice; liberty of thought, expression, belief, and faith; equality of status and opportunity; fraternity, unity, and integrity.

Following efforts have been made for the comprehensive security of the nation:

  • The defense of the country has been strengthened by introducing the post of Chief of Defense Staff, the establishment of Integrated Theatre Command, and the promotion of defense indigenization. For maritime security, India has adopted QUAD, SAGAR (Security and Growth of All in the Region), 'Necklace of diamonds' strategy.
  • The number of undernourished people in India has declined in the last 15 years to 224.3 million in 2019-2021, according to a UN report. This has been possible because of National Food Security Act, the Mid-day meal scheme, Poshan Abhiyan, the community canteen, etc.
  • PM Samagra Swasthya Yojana, Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK), Mission Indradhanush, etc have been initiated to build a healthier India.
  • Human security by imparting them education, skills, and employment has been ensured by the launch of schemes like Startup India, Stand up India, PM Street Vendor's Atma Nirbhar Nidhi (SVANidhi), Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP), Digital University, SWAYAM, MADAD portal, etc. Apart from this Delhi government has launched a 'lighthouse' to train slum youth to make them ready for employment. Also, 70 regular teachers have started teaching inmates in Delhi prison.
  • Efforts are being made for Gender security by Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Maternity Benefit Act, recognizing transgender as the third gender, allowing serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers of the Navy to be granted permanent commission (PC) on a par with their male counterparts, etc.
  • Indian government has started Ek Bharat Shresth Bharat to celebrate the idea of India as a nation wherein different cultural units across varied geographies coalesce and interact with each other and enable people to imbibe the innate chord of binding and brotherhood.
  • LiFE (Lifestyle for the Environment) approach, Tree ambulances by South Delhi Municipal Corporation, half day leave for 7 days cycling by Chandigarh, National Action Plan on Climate Change, etc. are a few of the efforts being made to ensure a clean and green environment.
  • Cyberdome projects of Kerala, Cyber Surakshit Bharat, Cybercrime Volunteer, etc. have been initiated to achieve cybersecurity.
  • Biofuel policy, One Sun One World One Grid initiative, GOBAR-DHAN scheme, E-vehicles, National Palm Oil Mission, etc. will help to achieve energy security.

Impediments ahead for Secure Nation

As Rome was not built in a day so is the security of the nation. The dream of building a 'Secure India' will be a distant dream if the following challenges are not overcome:

  • Corruption; exclusion-inclusion errors; reduction in discussion and debates while policy-making; etc. have made the implementation of schemes difficult.
  • The Weaponisation of the supply chain, trade, energy, and finance makes a country vulnerable to economic shocks and economic downturns.
  • 'Padhega India, Bhadega India' will be a mere slogan till there is a lack of employability skills; outdated curriculum; few seats, high fees; political interference in government institutions, etc.
  • Low focus on maternal and geriatric care; drug trafficking; undernutrition and obesity; health divides in form of rich v/s poor, rural v/s urban, and public v/ private hinders the objective of 'Health for All.'
  • Gender equality today for sustainable tomorrow cannot be reaped till there is low political participation of women, low female labor force participation rate, invisibilization of women's work, motherhood penalty, meta-son preference, missing women, early marriage, etc.
  • Excessive use of sedition laws, arbitrary decision making, vacancies in government institutions, overburdened workforce, violation of freedom of speech and expression, weakening rule of law, increasing intrusion of the state, etc. hamper political stability of the country.
  • The politics of identity – are based on caste, religion, language, and regions; polarization nurtured by social media, fake news, and disinformation impede cultural and social harmony.
  • The rise of non-performing assets, freebies, subsidy burden, and wastage due to economic inefficiency is shackling the development of financial assets.

In Full Swing: Way to Safety & Security

Prolonged crises, violent conflicts, natural disasters, persistent poverty, epidemics, and economic downturns lead to adversities and undermine probabilities for peace, stability, and sustainable development. Thus, endeavors have to be made to ensure security both internally as well as externally and both government and citizenry are equally responsible for building a secure nation.

Political measures

Not only is the government but citizens are equally important to ensure the political security of the country. Each voter has to be aware and educated to choose the right and responsible representative for themselves who is accountable, transparent, and responsive. The government needs to bring in public policies only after a detailed discussion and analysis in a public forum. The institutions need to be made inclusive and corruption free for a secure nation. As per Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson nations fail when they have extractive economic institutions, supported by extractive political institutions that impede and even block economic growth. Inclusive institutions are more conducive to economic growth than extractive economic institutions that are structured to extract resources from the many by the few.

Economic measures

Economic efficiency and development are necessary for a secure nation. Employment opportunities, reduction in regulatory cholesterol (complex legal laws), investment in capital assets and human resources, and inclusivity in labor force participation rate can ensure economic development and hence preserve the security of the nation.

Environmental measures

Afforestation programs, inculcation of environmentally sustainable behavior, segregation of waste at source, sustainable agriculture techniques, and use of renewable and clean energy resources can help to ensure environmental security.

Social measures

Food, health, education, and skills should be available, accessible, and affordable for all so that the country is not ridden by social unrest and conflicts. Efforts should be made to promote social harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all people of India transcending religious, linguistic, and regional or sectional diversities. Scientific temper, humanism, and scientific inquiry should be inculcated for the development of reasoned and informed public. Further to ensure gender equality it is high time to mainstream gender budgeting and improves social acceptance of the transgender community.

Winding Up

The twenty-first century is marked by new predicaments which are less militaristic in nature. In the globalizing world, it is difficult for nations to work in isolation, hence socio-economic risks make a nation more vulnerable as compared to military threats. As a result, the traditional militaristic and state-centric security discourse, with a focus on sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot resolve the present-day security problems.

The security of the state is not of much relevance for people suffering from hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, and illness. The security of borders is meaningless for people whose survival is at stake, their physical surroundings and economic bases are threatened by environmental degradation, and their social and political lives are affected almost on a daily basis by violence, ethnic and sectarian conflict, and riots. State security is meaningful only when a nation ensures its citizens-

• No poverty

• Zero hunger

• Good health and well being

• Quality Education

• Gender equality

• Clean water and sanitation

• Affordable and clean energy

• Decent work and economic growth

• Sustainable cities and communities

• Clean environment

• Rule of law and civil liberties

• Peace, justice, and strong institutions

Thus, let's strive together to help the nation escape incarceration of invasions and incursions, divisiveness, hunger, conflicts, riots, poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, discrimination, exploitation, and inequality.

Important Links

Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary, and Entrance Exams

Law Aspirants: Ultimate Test Prep Destination

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Deepika Singla

Deepika Singla

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