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India’s vision for 2020

Posted on 11 August 2010 by .

India’s National Interests

India’s national interests, simply stated, are as follows :-

  • National sovereignty.
  • Unity and integrity of the country.
  • Democratic and secular polity.
  • Economic development.
  • Social and economic justice.
  • Favourable world order.
  • Preservation and promotion of our values.

Our Strategic Vision

By tradition, India has been a peace-loving and responsible nation. It has abjured aggression, espoused the doctrine of ‘Ahimsa’ or non-violence, led the non-aligned group of nations and played a constructive role as a member of the United Nations. \


The aim of this article is to visualise the likely national security environment in 2020 with special reference to the threats and challenges that may confront us at that time, and arrive at the most appropriate force structure and equipment profile for the Indian Army of 2020.

The Geo-Strategic Environment

Two major events, roughly a decade apart, have played a major role in shaping the current geo-strategic environment. The first being the demise of the Soviet Union. The second was the ‘9-11 Event’ – the 11th September.

2001 terrorist attacks on targets in Washington DC and New York. This impelled the USA to declare ‘War on Terrorism’, and attack Afghanistan and Iraq with a ‘coalition of like-minded countries’, with the purpose of ousting their regimes, which were sponsors of terrorist groups like Al Quaeda and were hostile to the USA. The USA believed that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The impact of these two events are now being clearly felt in international affairs and by all indications, appear to be long lasting. We need to take note of the following major ramifications, which are specially relevant to India :-

  • The USA has become hegemonic. Her style of diplomacy is increasingly becoming peremptory and coercive.
  • The UN has been sidelined by the USA, which, acts at will, ignoring the need for UN’s sanction.
  • The USA has adopted the doctrine of ‘Preemptive Military Intervention’. In consonance with this doctrine – threats, whether real and present or, perceived, are not allowed to mature, by use of military force.
  • The USA has drawn a list of countries, which are ‘of concern’ to it. Of these, it has dealt with Afghanistan and Iraq. North Korea and Iran await similar treatment by the superpower. Recently, India has voted in favour of a USA backed resolution against Iran possibly to secure military materials, nuclear technology and fuel for civilian purposes. If India resiles from her pro-USA stance in the late November 2005 voting, the USA may deny its expectations. This would amount to dictating India’s foreign policy.
  • China is neither amenable to coercion nor susceptible to being ‘contained’. Besides, because North Korea is a protégé of China, the latter has a major role in USA’s dealings with that country. The USA has also economically engaged China, as it provides a large market for US manufactured goods. The USA believes too, that as the USA-China trade gets increasingly intertwined, the likelihood of an armed conflict between the two will correspondingly reduce.
  • The European Union, despite reservations on the part of some constituents, is for purposes of realpolitik pro-USA.
  • Russia, because of her present economic debility, is supporting the USA or, at least, not opposing her. It may become more independent in its attitude as its economy recovers, a process that has already begun.
  • Pakistan is a ‘major non-NATO ally’ of the USA and also its frontline state for the ‘War on Terrorism’. The US has troops and aircraft on Pakistan’s soil. It has been permitted to set up bases in return for huge subventions and to bail out Pakistan from the brink of a near-collapse economic situation. In effect, Pakistan has become a client state of the USA with a less than independent foreign policy.
  • Terrorism, religious fundamentalism, nuclear and missile technology proliferation are pressing concerns for the US. It believes that these could ultimately pose danger to its ‘homeland’, something about which the USA is hypersensitive, or, even paranoid.

India’s Internal Security Environment, 2020

India is a rapidly developing country with a GDP growth of seven percent.  It has a huge reserve of technical manpower and strong liberal political culture, a youthful population more than half of which will be below 30 years of age in 2020.  It also has strong and apolitical armed forces. Our present concerns, which may persist in future are as under:-

  • The present rate of population growth is 1.6 percent. It is imperative to bring it down to one percent by 2020-2025.
  • The political culture in the country has deteriorated over the years. Communalism, sectarianism, regional parochialism, and sub-nationalism are on the rise. There is growing criminalisation of politics and a culture of ‘vote banks’ has taken root. Politicisation of the bureaucracy and the police, is well-established. The Armed Forces have, so far, been able to remain insulated from politics. Unless these evils are overcome, in 2020, we may have a nation whose internal security environment will be extremely unhealthy.
  • Distributive justice with regard to sharing of revenues and the fruits of development is an imperative, if radical left movements, currently active in the country, are to be eliminated by 2015 or so.
  • The separatist movements in the North-East and J & K must be amicably resolved.
  • Black money and drug trafficking must be put to an end as they not only ruin the economy but also corrupt the youth.

Attention to the above areas of concern will enable India to achieve desired internal security by 2020. Let us now identify the threats and challenges India is likely to face in 2020.

Challenges. Apart from military threats, a number of non-military challenges may have to be faced by our Army in the 2020 time frame. These are as follows: –

  • Human resources of appropriate quality may get drawn to the more lucrative civilian sector. The terms and conditions of service and satisfaction levels of personnel, must be made more attractive. We should also enroll more short service personnel than regular cadres to reduce pension liabilities and for better career management of officers.
  • Funds allotted to the Armed Forces should be sustained at a level of three per cent of GDP for at least 12 to 15 years so as to ensure requisite modernisation and making good existing shortfalls.
  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) must be upgraded qualitatively and top quality scientists should be inducted into it. Rightfully, their expectations of pay and research facilities will be high. These must be met.
  • Private sector participation in defence R & D and development of complete systems by them, must be facilitated. Government should fund their defence research projects and give them guarantees of sizeable orders to encourage their partnership with the DRDO.
  • Scientific and technical manpower will be eagerly sought by other countries. To overcome this ‘brain-drain’, we should improve the working conditions and research facilities in our country.
  • The IT driven revolution in military affairs requires that the Army ‘manages’ these changes in a systematic and smooth manner. We need to create an integrated force working in an ‘unified battle space’; seamless communications; extensive exploitation of IT with excellent ‘cyber security’; top quality space based and terrestrial surveillance systems and fully operationalised C4I2 systems. This convergence of various technologies and capabilities will bestow the forces with much enhanced force-multiplier benefits through Network Centric Warfare (NCW). We have a long way to go in this regard.
  • Internal contingencies of various types could retard or block the Army’s effort to achieve optimal development in the next 15 years. We need to be prepared with suitable contingency plans to overcome these ‘drag’ factors.

Doctrinal Changes

The following doctrinal changes/refinements are suggested for the Army in 2020: –

  • Through superlative preparedness deter any country from engaging us in war.
  • Every war in the future, must be fought in an integrated manner.
  • Every war must be won with the fewest casualties and cost to us.
  • Attack all the enemy’s vulnerabilities, all at one time if possible, and create an adverse impact on his will to fight.
  • Manoeuvre versus Attrition. Attrition involves heavy costs to the attacker, manoeuvre places the attackers at a relative advantage over the defender. Even in the mountains, it is only by manoeuvre that the formidable, fixed defences can be captured with the minimum cost to us. Aggressive use of airborne and heliborne/heli-landed troops in conjunction with unorthodox employment of tanks and ICVs after heavy bombardment, will enable manoeuvre in mountains.
  • Leadership. Despite the vast inventory of high-tech machines and instruments available to the Army and the better educated soldier of 2020, good leaders will always be prized.


There is no mathematical exactness about when events will transpire and whether certain aspects we have assumed as being constant will actually be so or will alter radically, putting our prognosis into error. Notwithstanding this, a few points cannot be disputed. These are: India is progressing rapidly as an economic power; its natural endowments like strategic location, rich mineral resources and a large, industrious and hardy population, befit her for great power status. Its Army is large, disciplined, battle tested and renowned throughout the world for its professional quality. Such an army should be upgraded further in quality to serve India of 2020, in a befitting manner.


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