To present an overview and deliberate upon the National issues, Amity Institute of Defence & Strategic Studies, Amity University in association with United Service Institution organized one day seminar on “Youth- the Custodians of Future India and their perceptions on India’s Strategic Security Challenges & National Response” at University campus, sector 125 Noida.
During the seminar various issues were addressed including “An appraisal of evolving scenario in J&K and way ahead”; “Dynamics of security in the North East, its external linkages and India’s response”; “Determinants of Sino Pak strategic nexus and its security manifestations in the regional matrix” and “Guidelines for a multi-domain, multi-pronged strategic response to address India’s national security challenges”.
The seminar was attended by 03 former Chiefs Of Army Staff, more than 100 senior officials from the army and a large gathering of retired civil servants, academicians and students.
Inaugurating the seminar, Gen V P Malik (Retd). Former Chief of Army Staff shared that presently, the situation in Pakistan is not good and they are not in a position to fight a war with India. He stressed that Indo Pak relations are unlikely to improve in near future and if situation arise then India should be prepared for a winnable war. Talking about relations with neighboring countries, he mentioned that other Nations around India have geographical, cultural, social and economic linkages and advised that while India should maintain healthy relations with its neighbors but in case of national security, both soft and hard power should be utilized.
Gen Malik disclosed that over a period of time, Indian Ocean has become very important due to oil refineries and other offshore products. Also, China has lately enhanced its presence in marine part by adapting ‘string of pearl’ policy as part of which they have taken over some maritime ports from other countries.
He commented that internal security is becoming a major problem due to political polarization, hence many sections of society get aggravated due to political backing they get. Gen Malik lamented the fact that the police officials are unable to utilize their full potential to control the unfavorable situations and therefore, are dependent on army for most of the situations. He remarked that excessive use of army is not good and usage of army power against civilians needs to be reduced. He opined that military pressure alone cannot resolve internal security problems especially in Jammu & Kashmir, the need of the hour is good governance and strong thrust over socio- political and socio-economic issues.
The first panel discussion was held on topic “Evolving J&K scenario and way forward”.
Sharing his views on ‘Assessment of the Dynamics of J & K Conflict”, Lt Gen DS Hooda, Former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command said that 70% population of Kashmir has grown in the environment of conflict wherein one or the other have lost their own. He added that the state is also suffering from the issue of unemployment, raising doubts and fear over the future. He remarked that there has been a growth of radicalization, be it political, religious or social, which is being fueled by social media and also by some sections of mainstream media who portrays the people in support of moderate voice or part of any protest as ‘Anti- Nationalists’. Lt Gen Hooda apprised that in J&K, people have complete loss of faith in politics as they believe that there is non-governance and corruption amongst local politicians. Due to such deplorable conditions, people resort to violence to make their voices heard. He pointed out that the issues and alienation in Kashmir will not be resolved overnight, patience and long term solutions are required.
Speaking during the discussion, Mr Ashok Bhan, Supreme Court Lawyer & Chairman of ‘Kashmir Policy & Strategy Group’ said that “the state calls for justice and peace. I have been hounded out as a minority of state by adopting the tactics of killing one and scaring thousands by terrorist. From over three decades, the state has been seeking for justice by pleading on different forums.” He informed that NHRC defined atrocities inflicted on people not as genocide but taken under genocide. Mr. Bhan observed that there has been a vicious circle in Kashmir wherein army and security forces are claiming that terrorism in neutralized in the valley but on the other hand recruitments to militancy at equal pace in also happening. He lamented the political dispensation of country who had been callously looking at the issues of Kashmir. Until, politicians don’t engage in talks with representatives of Kashmir till then the disputes won’t be understood and peace in the valley couldn’t be attained.
Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh, Corps Commander remarked that whenever military had created a normalcy environment in the valley, political structure creates a ruckus. There is a need of social engineering since the state is in a war with its own people. He urged that the armed forces should be used a s special power rather than being used by political forces.
During the discussions, a Kashmiri pandit from the audience suggested that the Kashmiri Pandits who had to be relocated shouldn’t be called ‘migrants’ but must be addressed as ‘Internally Displaced People.’ He asked for re-habitation of Kashmiri pandits and urged the government.
As part of the first panel discussion, three students of Amity Institute of International Studies gave a presentation highlighting the challenges and issues faced by the youth of Jammu and Kashmir due to the conflicts in the state. They requested the government to take necessary action to curb the conflicting situation.
Speaking during the second panel discussion on “Resolution of Insurgency in North East”, Chief of the Army Staff said that India has all the resources and requisites to be a super power. World looks up to India as a country that has grown beyond its challenges. He lauded for taking up the topic of North East since challenges and security issues in North east needs to be addressed and relevant reforms and policies are to be formed.
Lt Gen Arun Kumar Sahni, Former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief South Western Command briefed about the development of strategic infrastructure- look east and action policy and shared that look east policy was initiated in 1994 wherein engagement with eastern sea board side commenced but it was later called ‘act east’ in the manner of preparing north eastern states to engage with South Eastern, East Asia and Asian parts. Underlining the importance of the north eastern belt, he apprised that today, North East is the 5th largest trading partner, 10th largest investor in India and half of trading with Asian countries is through the seven states. However despite great resonance, development of infrastructure and internal engagement with north east got delayed. Lt Gen Sahni averred that to resolve the north eastern issues, mainstreaming of this region with rest of India through physical and economic connectivity along with emotional integrity is required.
Ms. Dishani Guha, student of Amity Institute of International Studies highlighted that concerns of north eastern states and said that the only connection of India’s northeastern states with rest of India is the 22 km stretch of Siliguri corridor. The people of north east have been in constant battle for political identity due to infiltrations from Bangladeshi immigrants. She also raised concerns over demand for autonomy state by several organizations. Ms. Guha stressed upon the ongoing ethnic conflicts in the state of Nagaland between the Indians, Nagas and people of Myanmar. There has been discrimination due to race, color and identity and suggested that democratic deliberations is one of the best methods to resolve conflicts. She further added that the issue of insurgency can be resolved if administrative power is given to the ethnic groups already present in the states.
Addressing the gathering, Dr. Ashok K Chauhan, Founder President, Amity Education Group called this congregation of chief of army staffs as a very historic event. He lauded the students of Amity for bringing forth the concerns and issues faced by the people in North East and Jammu and Kashmir who have been struggling for decades and called upon the youth to be the change maker and bring peace.
Students of various institutions of Amity University were part of the panel discussion who raised their views and concerns pertaining to topics. The students advocated the real time challenges faced by the people and what are their expectations from the government as well as armed forces.