Article by Shantanu K. Bansal
The course of security studies around the world on any level of merit focuses on mainly two things, first, prevention of any threatening incident and secondly, even if it comes about ensuring its effective mitigation. Saving as much as lives possible is the end objective.
The Covid-19 has got most of ours deepest fears true. We are witnessing some of the darkest times in the very start of the 21st century. As we hope that this darkest period of the generation we represent passes away soon, we must not forget to take essential knowledge/experiences which the Covid era has taught us. This is the phase where we can make closest assumption that what an apocalyptic situation would really look like.
There has been end number of movies, novels written which depict the doomsday, referencing or naming them goes beyond the preview of this article. They usually move around a plot which signifies some greatest misshapenings for E.g. aliens at war, meteorite striking, cyborg attack, network corruption, zombies, and what not? A recent sci-fi movie ‘Tenet‘ goes beyond these set boundaries and depicts something close to time machine used as a weapon to cause 3rd world war.
These featured work may not prove to be scientifically correct but they never fail to make its viewership think about whether in reality we will ever face such a situation? After all the publishing industry whether written or cinematic comes out to be the best source of expressing human’s thinking ability.
The ‘bio-warfare’ is one of the widely used plot in such movies/write-ups. We have been well familiarised with this term in the Covid era. There has been plenty of books/movies published long ago which has accurately predicted and portrayed a pandemic situation like the Covid-19.
The Covid-19 era has now forced us to think~ anything worse than this can happen on earth? If not in foreseeable future but in reality that may be far from? All these questions impel us to think whether we are prepared enough to confront such extreme event?
Given India’s experience in handling Covid pandemic, one thing is sure to say that we are not even near to manage such a situation, confrontation is another level to achieve. Moreover, not only India but also richest and the best of all countries will find themselve short to handle anything near to a doomsday.
In this direction, recently, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) situated in United Kingdom which is also said to be one of the finest defence think-tank conducted a seminar with a heading “Extreme Threats to the UK” which included expert views on issues ranging across weapons of mass destruction, space technologies and space warfare, the future of biological threats, cyber technology and quantum computing.
Although the seminar stick to so-called extreme traditional threats but this at least show how policy making is evolving their. At least they tried to find out to what extent they are prepared to face such extreme events but in India we see not a single effort made in this direction. In open-domain no one will find a single rationalised data on India’s nuclear preparedness. There is no data available on how many NBC suits India has as of now, its production and so on.
Although country like UK enjoy robust governance system with lots of capital to invest in human development, on the other hand country like India finds itself almost on opposite side. Given the age old bureaucratic set-up and system of governance which apparently the UK itself introduced in the 19th century haven’t changed in the letter and spirit till now.
Even after innumerable cases of corruption surrounding the system and a great history of negligence, some find this governance system of the country best in the world. This at least reassure the fact that we Indians are good at managing with limited/inferior resources which is also an intangible part of operating in an extreme condition.
However, to be serious, at least by now India must have taken some baby steps in this direction. The leading security think-tanks should have been put to work on realising such threats and give a systematic defination. India still does’nt have a National Security Strategy and Military doctrine. The Defence Planning Committee (DPC), headed by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is expected to submit the National Security Strategy (NSS) to the Prime Minister which must touch upon this issue.
Armed forces being the prime responder to any such threat must have made a roadmap to cater their services in backdrop of such an event. The Army Training Command (ARTRAC), the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Army War College (AWC) and other such prestigious in-house defence institutions must have been put to work in updating strategies and policies on this subject. This shall also give a modest overview to the manufacturing industry to design and develop relevant applications which could prove to be useful in such an event.
Military is just a part but the whole system needs to be ramped up in such a situation. These events if ever take place will naturally be chaotic in nature therefore standardised response mechanisms and clear command heirarchy would prove to be a great enabler in ensuring limited damage during such an event, at least in the very initial stages which is crucial.
The command structures need to be flexible which can be moulded based on existential circumstances. Besides interoperability within the armed forces, the civil-military relations must be at its highest peak during such an event which otherwise even in the peacetime remains out of order.
We cannot aspire for an absolute security because it’s an utopian idea but at least basic structures and policy directives should be their which can help us to handle such an event as it ever come about trying ensuring lives of maximum number of people. This article is just a preliminary work towards this theme but a very important incentive contribution towards the goal it tried to outline.