In the two decades following the end of the Cold War, the world experienced an era characterized by declining war and rising prosperity. The absence of serious geopolitical competition created opportunities for increased interdependence and global cooperation. In recent years, however, several possibly fundamental challenges to that new order have arisen - the collapse of order and the descent into violence in the Middle East; the Russian challenge to the European security order; and increasing geopolitical tensions in Asia being among the foremost of these. What does this spell for India?
Russian Federation is the successor state to the Soviet Union. Before its dissolution, Soviet Union and the US were the key factions in world politics. They were briefly allies during the World War II but by the end of the war, they had become hostile. Brewing mistrust was one of the main reasons for the Cold War. The end of Cold War and the dissolution of Soviet Union (as well as the creation of Russia) seemingly brought an end to a period of uncertainty and turmoil.
This resulted in relative stability not only in the relations between Russia and the US but also in the world order. However, the advent of the 21st century has seen an escalation in violence and conflict. The Iraq invasion, the Afghanistan war and the rise of extremism has caused a lot of instability within the Middle East. Currently, there is an impasse between Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as an ongoing civil war in Syria and Libya. In addition, Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia has risen as a formidable force in challenging Western powers. There is also the threat of a war in the Korean peninsula and 2017 also witnessed a military standoff between India and China.
G.K. Pillai, Former Home Secretary, Government of India was one of the keynote speakers at the Synergia Conclave. He spoke on the theme, ‘Security 360’. He shined the spotlight on the major trends emerging as challenges to the internal security within the Indian context. He said that there has been rising inequality not just in India but world over. The rise in this inequality will also result in a rise of a crime epidemic. He noted that this was already being observed in terms of bank robberies and even cyber crimes and other petty crimes.
He also spoke about the Aadhaar card system and compared it to the “Big Brother” as nearly every facet of society has been linked to the Aadhaar card. He also spoke about the relationship shared between India and Pakistan. He noted, “Even though it is not publicly visible, I think the India-Pakistan relationship is going change dramatically in a decade or so.” That is because there is now a new generation of people in both nations whose outlook is different, and they don’t have the hangover of the partition.
He also spoke about terrorism and terror activities. He noted that the traditional first responder will shift from the Army or the police to the average civilian. Therefore, the citizen must be trained in how they should respond. For instance, a teacher in a school will have to become a first responder should the school become a site of a terror attack. He also noted that the nature of terror attacks has changed since 9/11. Now there is a rise in “lone wolf” attacks and there has been an increase in terror threats as well including biological warfare.
Our assessment is that there are many vectors that could create increased instability in the Indian subcontinent. Citizens have to be trained to recognize and react to terrorism. In addition, inequality has to be effectively addressed in order to curb the rise in criminal.
We feel that it is important to address the core issue of who will provide this security? The state clearly has a major role. But it is also important to note that there are limitations to states’ capacities and many threats even go beyond what a sovereign state alone can address. Some of the fundamental threats to human security - climatic, ecological, economic and social - do not respect state boundaries.
We believe that focus on human security provides the right context for deliberations in the 21st century. We realize that interactions occur along geological, geographic, climatic, biological, and social systems on the global level, and consequentially unilateral actions by single states are inadequate to deal with such threats. We believe citizens will have a very important role in enhancing their own security.