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Monday September 16, 2019

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Reflections for New Direction

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As a conscientious and responsible citizen of India I was shattered and very disturbed by the 26/11 terrorist attack and mayhem at Mumbai. More so by the fact that India was caught unawares and totally unprepared for such an onslaught. 26/11 triggered a chain of thoughts and cerebrations along with my friend and former member of Indian Parliament Manvendra Singh that culminated in the idea of creating a platform that will facilitate dissemination, discussion and debate on defence and security of India and the world. Thus was conceptualised and born DSA.

The magazine was envisioned as the harbinger of a paradigm changing brave new world of defence and security journalism committed to creating awareness among the people of India about the core requirements for a viable defence and security environment. Since then, not a day has passed when some new military threat or danger or a new far-reaching political development has not rudely impinged on the conscience and elicited stark reactions. Through this space in Publisher’s View I have tried to create a sentience and sound an Alert just as I had envisaged while mulling over the raison d’etre of DSA, which I thought was long overdue in the rapidly changing circumstances, not just on the Indian periphery but also within India and around the world.

Over the years as CEO of DSA, I have encapsulated the focus areas of every edition, every month in Publisher’s View. It has been an exhilarating learning experience to understand the nuances highlighted by experts and stalwarts we have been inviting to share their perceptions of the fast-changing defence and security developments and scenarios. There has been a steady growth in ‘security consciousness’, which was absent from the Indian psyche since the dawn of independence, as highlighted by observers. Writing for an Anniversary Edition requires a yet higher zealous stimulation to chronicle how events have evolved. It is a moment for retrospection, evaluation, corrections and re-charting courses as the expectations from DSA multiply.

The transformations in the defence and security arena during the past six years have veritably been a paradigm shift for India along with the rest of the world. New challenges and threats have emerged. Like any other industry, there have been mergers and acquisitions in the Defence sector during the last one year and the same in India has been particularly thrilling with the new government making big ticket announcements in the interest of national security. These alluring developments have compelled international manufacturers of defence technologies and products to flock to India in an anticipation of a piece of the cake from the establishment of a world-class defence and security industry hub.

With Modi government at the helm since May 2014, there has been a concerted effort to amend an unacceptable status of being ‘the world’s largest importer of arms and ammunition’ with emphasis on ‘Make in India’ through partnerships with foreign original equipment manufacturers. Many leading companies from US, Israel, France, UK and Russia etc have started exploring for new strategic partners in India and likewise many Indian companies are also keen on mutually rewarding tie-ups with international defence and security giants. Another major announcement of creating 100 Smart Cities in India has also captivated major international companies that have planned and executed such projects in other parts of the world.

DSA has been avidly following these transformations with intellectual stalwarts ardently analysing events and scrutinising effective solutions to tackle these emerging developments.

The past twelve editions of DSA have comprehensively deliberated on the following topics:

  • Indo-US Strategic Partnership, Indian Air Force − New Challenges
  • Northeast: A Ticking Bomb
  • Growing Importance of Indo-Pacific Region, Indian Navy − Maritime Muscle
  • Indian Army − The Changing Security Paradigm
  • Aero India 2015, Pre-budget Musings
  • Women In Defence And Security, Time For Military Industrial Complex
  • Global Terrorism: Trends And Prospects − Impact on India
  • One year of Modi Government − Defence And Security Appraisal
  • Modernisation of Police Forces
  • Make In India In Defence − Making India Self-reliant
  • Indo-Pak War 1965, J&K − A Festering Chasm
  • National Security, Securing Smart Cities

With a future that stipulates even more instability than the past six years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP led National Democratic Alliance has sought to retain centre stage by his outreach to India’s neighbours from island territories to the huge landmass of China. Back home, old provocations are acquiring new dimensions with the China-Pakistan nexus fashioning what one of our contributors has described as a ‘steel collar around India’s neck’.

The full potential of recent Naga accord is yet to be fathomed but there is no gainsaying the salutary effect of the land boundary agreement and exchange of enclaves with Bangladesh even while illegal migration remains a touchy subject. As a bright spot on the horizon, India displayed a new dimension to its military preparedness by its ‘hot pursuit’ strike against Myanmar-based terrorists.

India continues to be embroiled in Left Wing Extremism and the possibility of terrorists/extremists of various hues seeking to coalesce their operations. As a consequence the requirement of modernisation of the armed forces as well as the paramilitary and police forces (both Central and State) has acquired a desperate urgency.

Ironically, the nation has been in a sad state of dilemma by the agitation of ex-Servicemen for ‘One Rank, One Pension’, which has remained unresolved for decades. The new government has announced a slew of proposals but many agitating veterans are not happy and unfortunately the stalemate continues.

Globally, the security situation has deteriorated and its baleful shadow is creeping towards India from the trouble-torn West Asia-Levant salient where external powers, too afraid to put boots on the ground are wreaking havoc on the landscape from the air. The mindless bombardment has unleashed waves of human migrants who are perceived as a threat to the culture and lifestyles of the Europeans. How complicated the situation is can only be judged by the fact that Turkey is bombarding the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters even as the Kurds are trying to roll back the ISIS. In Syria where the Western coalition is trying to topple the Assad regime, Russia is on Assad’s side because of the threat posed to itself by ISIS and the Americans are trying to overthrow Assad who is fi ghting the ISIS that was created by the US in the bloody crucible of Iraqi sectarian divide between the Shia majority and the Sunni minority. The same divide has consumed Yemen where Sunni Saudi Arabia is bombing Shia Houthi rebels, turning townships into moonscapes. The recent joint operation by the bloodthirsty Boko Haram and Pakistan-trained Lashkar-e-Taiba and other such jihadi outfi ts in east Africa is a pointer for looming disaster. Indications that India is the next target need to be contemplated earnestly.

I have been affirming that candid and unflinching dissertations from distinguished veterans and experts of the defence and security fraternity have skyrocketed DSA to prestigious positions on the Intranets of Armed and Paramilitary Forces and have facilitated applauds and laurels from the powers that be. On behalf of team DSA, I salute them and feel grateful for their support which I will always cherish.

It has been an extraordinary experience to witness how a soldier is crafted; the inspiring truth of the saying, ‘once a soldier, always a soldier’ with the same dedication and commitment he/she has on the first day of their induction; the unparalleled feeling of nationalism is way ahead and beyond all relationships for a soldier. This commitment has inspired and reinforced my vision to make DSA the most sought after magazine in defence and security journalism.

Understanding the readership, target audience and outreach of DSA, corporate leaders of the defence and security industry have been supportive to our endeavours by advertising in various print and online editions. We strive to offer exceptional quality in everything we do and issue after issue of DSA bears testimony to the laurels coming our way from around the world, some of which we are happy to share with you in this edition. These testimonials bolster our resolve and fortify our mission of sounding ALERTS and creating AWARENESS about the myriad dimensions and manifestations of DEFENCE and SECURITY in India and around the world.

As they say, ‘Teamwork makes the dream work’! Individually, I am a drop. But together with my team, we are an ocean. Every team member of DSA is a soldier … dedicated to my vision and working towards the same in unison. I feel delightfully proud of their achievements and extend my gratitude for being the backbone of DSA. My colleagues have made this six year journey a pleasant odyssey and an incredible experience.

Team DSA is committed to spreading awareness of the dangers that confront us within India, around our periphery and distant horizons. We also take pride in our endeavours to explore mechanisms of achieving peaceful coexistence among the nations and the peoples of the world and propagate the cardinal Indian concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: One world – one family.


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