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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours!

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The single, undeniable, underlined and enduring, message from the 2014 General Election is that of change. All other factors can be debated endlessly. But the fact that the country wanted change, in enormous numbers, is incontestable. That message of change must now be taken to its logical end, in every direction and department of government. It is the yearning of the citizenry of India and has been repeated in every state election since the momentous General Election of 2014. So it is only appropriate that the message of change be absorbed by the government and be reflected in its actions and decisions.

One of the most important, for today and the foreseeable future, would be a re-look at the Indian Army. Not a re-look to check its vital role, which is undeniable, or its contribution, which is equally unquestionable. The re-look that is alluded to here is the one based on the message of change. Where the very shape and size of the institution is opened threadbare to see inside for all that is redundant. And to poke around and find the places where the changes can be implemented. For change is essential, especially for the Indian Army in the 21st century.

There is no denying the fact that of all institutions of state it is the Indian Army that consistently scores the highest in approval ratings. Nationwide there is a respect for the Army that other institutions and departments of the government can only dream about and sigh wistfully. That high standing doesn’t take away from the fact that the basic structures and systems of the Army are essentially antiquated, 19th or 20th century by-products. It also doesn’t take away from the fact that the Army was created for and designed around contingencies that don’t exist for the modern 21st century republic that India aspires to become.

So taking the message of change in 2014 to its logical direction, Army Day 2015 is as good a day as any can be in order to introspect deeply about the military force that we want for now and the future. 2015 is a good time to look at the Army of today, of 2050 and beyond. For any analyses of the service based on the message of change can only point in one direction – structures and systems of the Army need to be overhauled in order to make it a modern more efficient fighting machine. After all the goal of every concerned citizen is for the Army to be a lean and mean fighting machine, even if it means deploying one of the most overused cliches.

The vital prelude to these new structures and systems and resultant efficiencies, is essentially an in-depth analysis of what is that India is fighting against currently, will do so in the medium term and finally the long-term threats to the country. Within the projections of now, tomorrow and the rest of the days after, lie the challenges that confront the country in the foreseeable future. In simple language it is called a threat perception study. One in which all possible threats and solutions, must be laid out in plain view. Perspective Planning at Army HQs has surely done this study a number of times. Declassified versions of the study must be placed in the public domain so as to generate a national debate, a churning of ideas and a better idea of what constitutes threats to India’s security!

The country needs to analyse and understand what all constitute the threats of the future. There is every reason to understand the types of conflicts that the country is likely to get involved with. If India wants to be regarded as a future great power there is reason to believe desi boots may well have to be landed in Mogadishu flying the tricolour, for example. Sans the UN blue flag there aren’t many takers in India for an operation in another continent. Hence the ‘if’ and hence the need to do a threat projection study. It would help the country understand as to what constitutes the emerging threats and what kind of force is required to tackle them. The study will also suggest as to which threats are declining, because not all threats have a perpetuity. And for every future security challenge the country will remain dependent on its greatest institution, the Indian Army. Just as it has in the past, for some things can never change.

Manvendra Singh



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