New Delhi: India needs
to develop its unique vocabulary and doctrines, drawing from its
long tradition of strategic culture, if it is to deal with the
issues of the 21st century, National Security Adviser Shivshankar
Menon has said.
He also warned that as India's capabilities grow, it will also
need the Western world more.
"If India has to deal with the issues of the 21st century world,
it is essential that we not just elaborate our own culture and
tradition of strategic thought, but also develop our vocabulary,
doctrines and our own ways of looking at the world," Menon said
Thursday at a gathering of India's leading strategic thinkers and
military analysts, loosely called "The Subbu Forum".
"Ironically, the greater our capabilities, the more we need the
Western world and the more we are integrated into," he said, as
the event to mark the 83rd birth anniversary of the late K.
Subrahmanyam, one of India's foremost strategic affairs and
Belying popular perception that India lacks a strategic culture,
Menon said this was impossible for a nation like India, and that
too, an indigenous doctrine.
"That's like somebody claiming to be apolitical. That itself is a
political choice. Many others, many people see in India a
strategic culture that is more coherent than that of most other
contemporary states," he said.
Noting that the Indian strategic culture is "an indigenous
construct over a millennium, modified considerably by our
experiences over the last two centuries," the NSA said war and
peace are continuing themes in India's strategic space. He gave
the examples of the two great Indian epics Ramayana and
Mahabharata, Kautilya and Mahatma Gandhi to buttress his point.
"While not celebrating war, the Indian strategic culture treats it
as acceptable when the good fights the evil. Indian culture has
been comfortable with this contradiction," he said.
"As a result of this acceptance of contradictions, Indian
strategic culture supports the ethical views that dovetail the
international laws of combat," he added.
Menon said India had three distinctive strands of strategic
thought -- Nehruvian, Neo Liberal and Hyper-Realist. While all of
them agreed with the same strategic goals for India, they differed
sharply in the means to achieve them, he added.
"Fortunately for us, there is no isolationist stream in our
strategic thought so far and we have a rich tradition to draw
from. So, if anything, the need for and the rewards for studying
our strategic culture will only grow," Menon pointed out.
Paying tribute to Subrahmanyan, Menon said the legendary strategic
thinker, who died here Feb 2,2011 at the age of 82, shaped India's
thought processes in critical areas of nuclear programme, defence
and development and international relations, and gave direction to
its strategic culture to evolve.
"He personally had the idea of nuclear weapons as a political
rather than war fighting weapons," he said, noting that India's
vocabulary in its nuclear programme -- be it "no-first-use",
"minimum credible deterrence" or "second strike capability" -- was
his major contribution.