ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Whither People's Security

What is the basis of the official perception of threat which informs our security policy? What is the extent of expenditure on the so-called security concerns? How justified is this expenditure especially in the context of the fact that military power in various guises continues to be deployed extensively against our own people? To make an attempt to persuade policy-makers to refrain from enhancing and expanding the repressive arms of the government, we need to make a realistic assessment of our security concerns and foreground the real issues.

In the age of self-serving nationalism the best the rulers are capable of is enlightened self-interest. But the ruling class is not naturally inclined towards this. Circumstances and an informed public opinion are capable of compelling a change. A recent example of this is available in the de-privileging of nuclear weapons by the NDA government. While nuclear capability remains, the development of delivery system carries on in fits and starts and the mounting of nuclear devices as well as their deployment remains frozen; a sort of reversal to the pre-Pokhran II phase. Thus the bilateral anxieties between India and Pakistan generated by weapons are much reduced which restores to the centre-stage the Kashmir dispute in its trilateral dimensions. This shift is the result of international pressure as well as domestic opposition. In other words, it is possible to force the policy-makers to resile from bolstering the repressive arms of the government by de-mystifying policies, and by foregrounding the real issues. For this exercise it is necessary to begin by establishing the size of the military (see EPW, May 13, 2000) allocation.

The resources ear-marked for the military are deliberately underestimated. There is no reason to exclude defence pension from the arithmetic of military allocation when it goes to compensate ex-servicemen. Again it is known that India’s atomic energy and space development have military as well as civil dimension, after Pokhran II there is even less room for confusion. Therefore, 50 per cent of the allocations for the two departments too must be included. Furthermore, when it is the considered opinion of the Indian government that external and internal security are intertwined and use of the army and para-military forces is widespread then the allocations for Assam Rifles, Border Security Force, Indo-Tibet Border Police, JAKLI cannot be kept out of the military budget. As it is the AR and JAKLI operate under army command, even when the allocation for them appear under MHA. Consequently, if all these items are added up, after deducting the civil expenditure of ministry of defence and the National Cadet Corp, the budget estimate for the military sector in 2001-02 comes to be Rs 81,107 crore (Table 1). This represents nearly 22 per cent of Indian government’s total expenditure of 375,223 crore; about 30 per cent of the non-plan expenditure of Rs 275,123 crore; and is 3.85 per cent of the estimated GDP, for 2001-02.

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