Having edited the book Modi’s Blueprint for India – also published by Pentagon – in 2014, when Narendra Modi began his first tenure as prime minister, the tome MODI 2.0: A Resolve to Secure India is interesting for this reviewer as it takes stock of the ruling BJP-led NDA’s performance over the past seven years.
Despite all kinds of disruptions, hectoring, propaganda, attacks, etc. by the highly frustrated substantial constituency of Congress, the leftists, and the ‘pseudo-seculars’, the BJP-led NDA got re-elected in 2019 with a thumping majority. It surpassed its 2014 tally of 316 seats by picking up 350 seats in the Lok Sabha. With BJP itself winning 303 seats across the country, its tally along with that of its allies not only increased the coalition’s vote shares and seat share but also expanded its geographic reach.
Beginning his first term by creating consciousness among Indian masses against defecating in the open, Narendra Modi has strived over the past seven years to shift the narrative of Indian politics to emphasizing ‘reform, transform and perform’. Delivery of benefits and schemes to the entire vast amount of the deprived population of the country became the basis of politics.
National security and integrity unfortunately not only got a bad start but continued to suffer owing to some basic deficiencies for almost seven decades, except for the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars and the 1967 Sino-Indian skirmishes, when India’s top leadership was assertive. But the periods before and after these wars/actions were conspicuous for lack of assertiveness and a lackadaisical attitude to preparedness.
Safety and security lie at the heart of the prosperity of a nation. Real security is not only based on growth, reform, and change or, what can be described as all-around development of the nation, but also enhanced focus on the border, given the escalation of tension. Prime Minister Modi, when presented with the grave situation of cross-border terror, took a call for ‘hot pursuit’, thereby exhibiting his firm conviction not to bow down to Pakistan-sponsored terrorists. So far, the surgical strikes and the Balakot bombing are two instances of Modi walking the talk of entering the enemy’s domain and striking with telling effect.
While trust and collaboration are central to a systematic approach to security, it is cohesively strung on three core objectives: effective diplomacy and military capabilities; bolstering economic prosperity, and providing governance, and promoting democratic values. They present formidable challenges and are not easy to achieve, but under Modi’s ‘thinking thoroughly’ leadership, there has been an earnest movement with long-term strategic planning and review.
National security has seen a transformative and pragmatic change that reflects the aspirations of Indians to see their country stable and strong. Equally important has been the emphasis on internal security in which the police forces have faced many changed and daunting challenges. Often forgotten is the fact that from 1947 onwards till date at least 35,000 Policemen have laid down their lives while protecting the life and property of ordinary citizens, maintaining public order and combating terrorism, militants and extremists of various hues. What has been evidenced is a growing consciousness in the government for the need for a robust national security system, both internal and external, that is well structured, efficiently managed and free of ad hocism.
PM Modi also infused a sense of national pride, with the beginning of consciousness of India’s so far untaught and suppressed history of the Indian public and has done much in raising India’s image in the global arena.
The Modi government expediting the return of rare, invaluable, and historic Indian artifacts plundered over centuries, is indeed a pleasant surprise. Recently implemented by the US, many more from other countries are expected to be returned.
Rich mix of writers
The editors felt the need for a compendium that would carefully scrutinize government policies, initiations, responses to crises, and the political leadership role. The articles written by a rich mix of authors/experts in this volume cover various areas of governance and important issues in which the BJP has performed with a fair amount of success. These are: Modi’s Quest and Action for Securing India-Anirban Ganguly; Strategies to Countering Insurgency in Assam-Sarbananda Sonowal; Need for Police Reform-Bibek Debroy; Modi Government’s War Against the Underworld-Satya Pal Singh; Technology in Support of National Security-Alok Joshi and Forging Ahead: A New Strong India under Modi 2.0-Ranjit K. Pachnanda.
Also noteworthy are: The Return of India’s Stolen Heritage-Sujan R. Chinoy; Securing India’s Maritime Interests and Harnessing the Blue Economy-R.K. Dhowan ; Leveraging the UN for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism-Asoke Mukerji; India and the Evolving Global Security Landscape-Sujan R. Chinoy; Afghanistan in India’s Security Calculus-Amar Sinha; De-Securitisation and National Security: Reflections on
India’s Policy towards Pakistan-T.C.A. Raghavan; India-China Confidence Building Measures-S.L. Narasimhan; The Modi Government’s Pakistan and Kashmir Policy-Maroof Raza.
While much of the progress has been brought out in the book, there are still some major steps required in national and internal security. In dealing with China and Pakistan. We need to be able to outwit them and make their misadventures very costly. Consistency in political will/assertiveness/proactiveness and not in fits and bursts is very necessary. And on police reforms much more needs to be done.
The book is recommended for reference to a wide readership.
(MODI 2.0: A Resolve to Secure India; Editors Ranjit Pachnanda, Bibek Debroy, Anirban Ganguly, Uttam Sinha: Publishers Pentagon Press LLP; Pages 196; Price Rs795/USD 38.05)
(The reviewer is a former Indian Army and Ministry of Defence spokesperson).