This book, in the shape of an edited volume of fourteen papers presented in the two-day seminar organized by the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies of the University of Pune, has attempted to address the various issues of internal security in terms of the need for evolving appropriate ‘security policy’, particularly in the context of ‘political, economic and socio-cultural dimensions’. In the process, the seminar kept in focus live issues like autonomy, decentralization of economic power and aspects of ‘state and civil society’ as part of the overall problem of governance. A seminar of this kind has, among other things, two readily visible merits. Being the product of a university far away from the Capital is by itself a welcome development and adds to the much needed fresh thinking. The second important factor is that the participants have been drawn from diverse fields of experience in security matters. There is arguably a very desirable mixture of the academic and practical field- expertise, which has helped give practical relevance to the contents.
However, neither the seminar nor the book has clearly listed out the contents of the ‘security policy issues’, though many of them figure in the papers discussed in the seminar. The contribution and relevance of this seminar would have been many times more, if such a catalogue of policy issues had been summed up in one place.
According to a study of the most conflict prone countries, India is said to have ranked second (Mynamar being the first) with 156 conflict years in the period 1946-2003. ‘Skirmishes on the border with Pakistan, cross-border terrorism, communal riots, activities of Naxalites, insurgencies and separatist demands and populism, have all threatened not just the security of the state but increasingly, of the common people.’ Even after 2003, there has been no significant respite. We have been witnessing increasing crime-criminal-politician nexus and this does not augur well for achieving satisfactory levels of internal security. Periodic terrorist attacks, increasing intensity of Maoist violence and occasional but disruptive communal violence, all these and more, not to mention the growing culture of violence and crime, continue to be the focus of attention of the people, reiterating the need to have ‘a people focused approach to security.’ The seminar was somewhat categorical that ‘A strong responsible and responsive government will necessarily be in readiness to combat the threats to internal security.’ It was rightly cautioned that ‘ensuring that the government remains so, is the responsibility of the civil society.’