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'India needs to modernise strategic culture'

Friday January 20, 2012 07:00:47 PM, IANS

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 security analysts.

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. 




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