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The Link Between Internal and National Security: Insights from Former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon

Former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon recently delivered a keynote address at Delhi’s India International Centre during the launch of “National Security Challenges,” a book edited by N.N. Vohra. In his address, Menon underscored a crucial point that the weakening of India’s internal security has far-reaching implications for national security. This concept of security goes beyond traditional notions of physical and military defense; it encompasses various factors, including economic security, human rights, and climate justice.

Menon highlighted that internal security is a cornerstone of national security, and threats to it can manifest in multiple ways. His remarks were particularly pertinent in the context of India’s current political landscape, marked by majoritarianism and polarization, largely fueled by the ruling regime. The aggressive deployment of Hindu-Muslim binaries, calls for genocide, and the social and economic boycott of Muslims by some Hindutva leaders pose a grave threat to internal security.

Recent events have highlighted the repercussions of such divisive rhetoric. For instance, a BJP spokesperson made offensive comments about Prophet Muhammad, leading to sharp reactions and boycotts of Indian products by Gulf countries. Moreover, the global response to the Hamas attack on Israel and Israel’s subsequent retaliatory actions in Gaza triggered a vilification campaign against Muslims in India. These incidents directly challenge internal security, with potential spillover effects on national security.

Shivshankar Menon message highlighted

Shivshankar Menon
Shivshankar Menon recently delivered a keynote address at Delhi’s India International Centre during the launch of “National Security Challenges

Menon’s key message is clear: a weaker internal security framework weakens national security. There are conscious efforts to deepen communal divisions and caste discrimination, and this exacerbates the challenges India faces. To appreciate the gravity of the situation, it’s instructive to turn to history and the writings of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

In 1927, Nehru wrote an illuminating article titled ‘A Policy for India’ during his attendance at the League against Imperialism’s conference in Brussels. While India was still under British colonial rule, Nehru contemplated the nation’s foreign policy. He astutely identified three key problems that would shape India’s approach to its neighbors and the world: the Hindu-Muslim question, the Brahmin-Non-Brahmin issue, and the economic structure.

Nehru’s insights from nearly a century ago still hold relevance today. He recognized that reactionary forces influenced not only British colonial policies but also had global ramifications. His reflections on religious divisions and their underlying economic factors are especially pertinent today, as India grapples with majoritarianism and religious polarization. Nehru advocated for confronting divisive forces head-on, rather than compromising with rival superstitions and bigotry, as he believed that these would compromise national security.

In the current Indian political landscape, leaders like Rahul Gandhi have emphasized the need to ideologically combat communal forces and majoritarianism, echoing Nehru’s call to tackle divisive ideologies directly.

Furthermore, Nehru’s considerations regarding capitalism and socialism in India’s future are more relevant than ever. As crony capitalism raises concerns about the influx of questionable funds and economic inequality, the question of whether a capitalist economy endangers national security gains prominence.

In this historical context, Shivshankar Menon’s analysis on the linkages between internal security and national security takes on added significance. The challenges to India’s national security are substantial, and addressing majoritarianism and crony capitalism is crucial for the nation’s well-being. We must openly acknowledge and discuss these issues to safeguard both our internal and national security.

In a world marked by complex threats and ever-evolving challenges, the words of visionaries like Nehru and insights from experienced figures like Menon serve as valuable guiding lights for India’s path forward.

Read Now:Israel-Hamas Conflict: Escalation, Implications, and Global Concerns

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