Till now security planners in India were attempting to carry out their tasks on the basis of their past experience or what they learnt from the industrialized countries. Often there was a time lag in absorbing the experience of industrialized countries after analyzing what would be applicable to our security environment. As mentioned earlier, our understanding of national security was not future oriented. Even in the rest of the world where countries have a strategic tradition, the common saying till recently used to be that generals were used to preparing to fight the last war. It is no longer possible to deal with the problems of national security on the basis of past experience though that experience is very valuable as a learning process. Today's national security challenges call for thinking ahead to anticipate which state and non-state actors entertain hostile intentions towards our state, our society and our value systems and what they are likely to do and to devise ways and means of checking them. Therefore, it needs future oriented research into international, national, political, social, economic and technological developments to keep abreast with the thinking of potentially hostile state and non-state actors. This is why in other countries national defense universities have been established to keep a step ahead of the potential adversaries. Unfortunately, the recognition that national security today calls for high intellectual inputs and is not a routine bureaucratic management exercise by both people in uniform and civilians is yet to develop in this country. That raises further questions of training, periodic refresher courses, updating of knowledge and information for officers in the defense and intelligence services and to the civil servants. The present culture of generalism has become outdated and counter- productive.
There will be many in this country who will ask whether all this is necessary and whether these steps will not lead us towards becoming a garrison state. I am a liberal and totally abhor violence in any form. I am committed to good government, democracy, equal opportunities to all, affirmative action to speed up upward mobility of hitherto disadvantaged sections of society, an equitable economic order, secular and casteless society, total elimination of corruption and maximum human rights to everyone. The issue is how to move towards that world. A section of our people argues that we should set an example to promote that world. I agree wholeheartedly. However, we are not living in an island continent without the rest of the world actively impinging on us. We cannot afford to ignore the intentions of others, benign and hostile towards us. In the Mahabharata, Bhishma, lying on his bed of arrows, while in the process of choosing the moment of his death taught Pandavas the principles of statecraft. He told them: "Nobody is anybody’s friend. Nobody is anybody’s enemy. It is the circumstances that make enemies and friends."Thousands of years later, Lord Palmerston, the British Foreign Secretary, reenunciated the dictum in words which every students of international relations is taught: "There is no permanent friend, there is no permanent enemy." If the world is to be reshaped and values of peace, freedom, international cooperation and justice are to be promoted only the strong can do it and not the weak. One should have a realistic assessment of the international situation as it exists not as one would like to fantasies it to be. The international community has legitimised the nuclear weapons and the use of force without declaring war. When countries are harassed by international terrorism and proxy wars, by narcotics traffic and organized crime often posing as noble causes, the international community often looks away. In trying to counter these efforts to wreck and derail our development process, no doubt, excesses often occur. There can be no disputing that they should be curbed. But that cannot be done by abdicating the basic responsibility of the state to counter and overwhelm the criminal and anarchistic forces. There are genuine grounds to complain that the problems of use of force in a fair and just manner with restraint and effectiveness have not been addressed. But that is part of the overall problem of indifference to issues of national security, incompetence and mediocrity in governance.