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Security Studies in India

National security studies is a burgeoning discipline in India, with a considerable demand from the student community as well. Apart from gaining an expertise in security studies, students also have the potential to become internationally renowned strategists.

National security studies is a burgeoning discipline in India, with a considerable demand from the student community as well. Apart from gaining an expertise in security studies, students also have the potential to become internationally renowned strategists.

However, the treatment of the subject in India has created reservations among those aspirants who seek a career through this discipline. For instance, although national security studies under the domain of “Defence and Strategic Studies” is now approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC) National Elegibility Test (NET) exam, it has unfortunately not yet been accepted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The main reason for its exclusion from the UPSC syllabus has not been officially confirmed. However, it has been speculated that due to the discipline bearing different names in various universities, it was not considered by the commission for the exam. The service commission wanted all the universities to model their departments under a unanimous name, Department of National Security Studies, instead of the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, or other similar titles.

In fact, in 2010 a national security experts committee headed by Air Commodore (Retired) Jasjit Singh was formed under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), which directed all the universities to rename their departments as Department of National Security Studies. However, some universities were reluctant to adhere to this, as they wanted to carry forward the legacy of their department with their traditional name. Such disagreements between the UPSC and the universities have led to missed opportunities for students of this discipline. Furthermore, the security communities remain active only in security-related offices such as the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, etc, and not in the administrative services, which exact influence within the MHRD or UPSC. However, powerful bureaucrats with a background in international relations, public policy and political science are employed in the MHRD or UPSC, which results in greater prominence being given to these subjects. As a result, security studies remains excluded from these competitive exams.

Not only in the UPSC exams, the subject is also inopportunely excluded from the state civil service examinations, except for Uttar Pradesh. Interestingly, in the past, the discipline was introduced in the Punjab and Tamil Nadu State Public Service Commission Test, but was later discontinued. Reasons stated were poor student enrolment, and limited faculty, which could breed favouritism in the ­selection process. However, such misperceptions within the state service commissions discourage potential students from considering the discipline from a career perspective.

The National Congress for Defence Studies, an association of security studies communities established in March 1980 at Allahabad University, has been trying to improve and expand the significance of the course. Furthermore, security studies needs to be treated separately from the discipline of international relations. National security studies centres functioning under departments of international relations, such as in the case of the Central University of Gujarat, should be permitted to function autonomously.

Subsequently, the MHRD must discuss the importance of this discipline and take the necessary steps to enlist the subject amongst the optional papers of the UPSC and state civil service commission examinations. As it was practised in the Bhonsala Military College, addition of physical training in the course curricula should also be considered by the ministry. The MHRD can direct universities such as Jawaharlal Nehru University, which only taught international relations, and Delhi University, that introduced only area studies, to initiate security studies courses. This will ensure that students from other parts of the country who wish to study in the capital and pursue the subject will not miss out on the chance to do so. The Jasjit Singh Committee formed by the ministry is nearly seven years old, and hence a fresh committee on security research and studies should be constituted to further evaluate the prominence of the subject at present.

In a similar manner to which concessions were given to the “C” certificate holders of the National Cadet Corps during the time of military recruitment, students of security studies can also be given certain benefits. To encourage the discipline at higher level, and bring about a closer affiliation with its practitioners, apart from civil servants and military officials, professors or renowned academics of the discipline should be offered a seat on the board of the National Defence College. The resolution of the existing dilemmas of national security studies by its stakeholders at the right time will not only augment the quality of this discipline, but will also directly improve the state of India’s security affairs.

T K Singh



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