National Security is often a topic that has remained confined to the realm of international relations. There has perhaps been very little effort made in the Indian context to analyse the traditional and non-traditional threats facing the country. In such a scenario characterised by dearth of information, the launch of "The Oxford Handbook of India’s National Security" edited by eminent scholars and academicians, Sumit Ganguly, Nicolas Blarel and Manjeet S Pardesi, in New Delhi paved the way for a debate that reexamined the very concept of national security.
Shivshankar Menon, former Indian National Security Advisers spoke about "insecure" state of affairs in the country. “We are in an unprecedented situation. Today, there is no external existential threat to India, it comes from within. The average Indian feels much more insecure than before,” he said at the launch at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) in New Delhi.
Citing two probable reasons for such a shift, he said, it can be because the expectations from the state has gone up and India today is much more dependent on other countries than it ever was in history. Terming this a paradox, he said, even though crime rates are climbing in the last six years and traditional policing can no longer cope the situation. This has happened despite India having one of the lowest crime rates in the world. He pointed to the rise in urban migration and said, as more and more people are being taken away from their traditional strongholds and social set-ups, it has led to an increase in social violence.
C Raja Mohan, Director, Carnegie India, commended the series and termed it an impressive achievement. He said, “While the demand for national security is growing and the number of people engaged in it are growing, there is no intellectual capital fall back on as the knowledge is not being transmitted. In that way, the book is a commendable venture.” However, he warned that too much political science and too little history can distort perspectives.
Shakti Sinha, Director, NMML, who chaired the session said, “The conceptualization of security can be problematic if we keep expanding it”. He also pointed to the use of metrics to determine state capacity as a problematic thought.
The book, published by the Oxford University Press is a comprehensive work that has brought together different interpretations of national security from national-security experts from various parts of the world.