Monday, September 26, 2011

COVER STORY Strategic Importance of ANI: The FIST FIGHT

Strategic Importance of ANI: 

Can Government of India overlook the aspirations of the local population, and fortify the Islands sensing its strategic importance and the tall talks on sustainable development remain just in papers and lectures?

By Zubair Ahmed

The seminar on strategic importance, political autonomy and sustainable development had all the ingredients for an action thriller with Professor Malviya asserting on fortification of the Islands with nuclear arsenal, with a strong no to any kind of political autonomy, whereas, Prof Thandavan advocating people's participation for good governance and sustainable development. And Prof Banerjee throwing surprise by opposing both of them asking the settlers to abandon the Islands and leave it to the indigenous tribes.
"Demographic explosion is the biggest enemy of the Islands, and this enemy is within us, which needs to be addressed on priority," said Prof Gopalji Malviya, Head, Defence Strategy, University of Madras addressing the seminar on Strategic Importance, Political Autonomy and Sustainable Development of ANI.
Taking a dig on the elected representative and the demand for an Assembly, he said not to opt for political autonomy as it will destroy the Islands. He candidly admitted that democracy itself has many defects and those occupying the legislatures are incapable. He advised the islanders not to have same kind of a setup in the Islands.
Relying more on Chanakya's Rajdharma and less on Gandhi's non-violence, Prof Malviya vociferously demanded more teeth and less tail for the Defence forces in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He opined that New Delhi is yet to realize the importance of ANI. Prof Malviya said that the mental block that India's boundary ends with Kanyakumari needs to be cleared first. On the strategic importance of the geographical location of the Islands, he said that both Islamabad and Britain after Independence had made claim for the Islands. For Islamabad, it's too late now and Britain had thought it to be a white elephant, which they might be ruing now, felt Prof Malviya.
ANC was not created by the parliament and it was an executive decision, which shows our callous and non-serious approach. There is utmost adhocism in issues of national security. He also felt that as the landscape of the ANI is ocean, and the strategy should be to strengthen Navy and the overall command should be with Navy. The rotational leadership within the tri-services is not doing any good for the Command.
He asserted nuclear power for the Islands. The Islands need to have Brahmastra - Nuclear powered submarines to act as deterrent for any powerful enemy. We need to utilize the best in science and technology for defence as well as civil security. He said that nuclear energy resources are very important for the Islands.
On China's recent adventure into our territory, Prof Malviya said that China flexing muscles and Pak's hobnobbing with our neighbouring countries are the traditional threats, whereas, piracy, smuggling of contraband, transportation of nuclear waste, abandoned and delinquent ships and small arms smuggling, which may go to terrorists are the non-traditional threats the Islands face. The environmental threat as well the threat of maritime terrorism has to be dealt robustly by giving the Islands special status, Malviya cautioned.
Two Chinese warships have come to our waters threatening us. From Ammanthotta in Colombo, POK, Tibet and Coco Island, they are trying an enveloping strategy. We have never shown eyes threatening them. It's the Chinese way of asserting power. We need to adopt Chanakya's Rajamandala theory and assert ourselves that this region is India's territory. India needs to take cognizance of that. There is a need for a maritime security advisor, as the area and resources are vast and Navy alone cannot handle it without proper empowerment.
On lagging coastal security scenario in the country, Prof Malviya said that our country has nine states and 12 ministries dealing with coastal security and there is no proper deliverable security and information system at place. We already have been attacked twice by sea. "How many attacks to wake Bharat Mata?" he asked. We never learn lessons from the past. Even the British came through sea and colonized us. Every time there is an attack, we deal it as law and order problem.
There should be Coastal Security Networks, creating information system and involving local people. We should know who is coming and who is going.
On sustainable development, Prof Malviya said that some developments are also disaster. There is huge rise in population in the Islands. Can the Islands carry such weight? The number of vehicles has increased and how can the Islands absorb pollution generated by it? There should be a limit to growth. I don't want to see Islands turning into a concrete jungle. There is scarcity of land. With just 7% of land available, how much can the Islands develop? You need to think about the topography, the construction and the lifestyle here. The Islands cannot afford the kind of development that metros has.

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