National Security Has Many Dimensions, Every Citizen Has a Role to Play: Former Army Chief General Naravane

Indian Army

New Delhi: Former Indian Army chief, General MM Naravane, addressing a session on ‘National Security Perspectives’, organised by India International Centre in association with Press Club of India in the national capital on July 28 said the responsibility of ensuring national security was vested in every citizen.

Underlining the security dimensions – both internal and external – said India does not have any “extra-territorial ambitions”, General Naravane said, “When we talk about national security, we should focus on the internal security dimension. External security, of course, is of paramount importance. The security of the country is the responsibility of each and every citizen of the country. Everyone has a role to play. National security is more than just external security, it has many dimensions.”

Emphasising that the food, energy and health securities of the country were also of paramount importance, the former Army Chief added, “If you do not have a healthy population, where is the manpower for armed forces going to come from? So national security has to be seen and understood in a much wider context.”

Highlighting that India still doesn’t have a fully articulated National Security Strategy in place, he said, “We have made some progress on this front over the years. Our activities does reflect how we are looking at national security.”

Replying to a query during the session, former Army Chief added that the country’s foreign policy “rests on two strong pillars”. “One of them is that we have no extra-territorial ambitions. The other is that we do not seek to impose a way of life or will on anybody else. It is not the my way or the highway. I think these two factors also guide us in all we do as far as our national security is concerned,” he said.

“The regional and global environments have a role to play in our overall security. Any instability in any our neighbouring countries will impact our security. More instability on our borders will lead to a rise in transnational crimes like smuggling, drug trafficking and so on and so forth,” he said responding to a question on securing the country’s northern borders where the country has been engaged in a protracted standoff with China.

During the discussion, former Army Chief General MM Naravane said that involvement of foreign agencies in violence-hit Manipur “cannot be ruled out,” as he highlighted the role of “Chinese aid to various insurgent groups” in the north-eastern state. He expressed confidence that the government is taking steps to restore peace in the restive state.

“I am sure that those who are in the chair and responsible for taking actions due to be taken are doing their best and we should avoid second guessing them,” he stated while expressing concern that instability does not help the country in the “overall national security construct.”

He also highlighted the possibility that some entities might benefit from the ongoing violence in Manipur leading to a reluctance to restore normalcy in the region.

“There could probably be agencies, other actors in the game who benefit from this violence who would not want normalcy to return to the state because while this instability is there they stand to benefit. That may be one of the reasons why we are continuing to see violence despite all the efforts which I am sure are being put in by the State and central government to bring it down,” he said.