Congress releases plan on national security

New Delhi (IANS) Congress on Sunday released its plan on national security which emphasises on five key issues - assuming India's rightful place in global affairs, securing the neighbourhood, internal security, protecting people and strengthening capabilities.

The report, titled 'India's National Security Strategy', was drafted by Lt. Gen. (Retd.) D.S. Hooda, who was the Northern Army Commander in September 2016 when Indian troops carried out surgical strikes across the border after the Uri terror attack. 

Addressing a joint press conference together with Hooda and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram said that if the party is voted to power, it would try to implement these five key points on national security. 

However, these plans would undergo further expansion and revision as the government has several institutional structures - National Security Advisory Board, National Security Council and the Cabinet Committee on Security - Chidambaram said. 

"The final decision will be taken by the government when the plan goes through these institutional structures," he said. 

"Our approach is not ad-hoc. Our approach is not impulsive. Our approach is that after careful study and deliberation, we will take necessary measures to protect our national security." Chidambaram said.

According to him, the party has taken several features of Hooda's plan, while its views on national security were reflected in the manifesto released earlier this month. 

"'Jan Suraksha' - the main goal of national security - is protecting our people. We need to solve the climate change crisis, as well as the job crisis that harms people," Hooda said elaborating on the focus on public safety. 

"What will be the place of India in the world. How are our relationships with the world's powers," he said. 

He added that India must get a permanent place in the Security Council.

In its plan on National Security, the Congress said the party has always displayed zero tolerance on terrorism. 

"As Lt. Gen (Retd.) D.S. Hooda recently noted, the Indian Army was always given a free hand, without any political interference, to deal with Pakistan and cross-border terrorism," it said. 

"It is unfortunate that national security and the armed forces are being blatantly
politicised by the current government. The Congress party strongly condemns all such efforts of the Prime Minister and his colleagues."

The party said that as an emerging global power and the largest democracy in the world, India faces multiple security challenges that include transnational terrorism, a troubled neighbourhood marred by outstanding border disputes with Pakistan and China, internal militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, left-wing extremism in some parts of the country, threats to the data and privacy of our citizens, economic threats, and climate change and environmental threats.

It said the last five years has witnessed an alarming erosion in our military capabilities and defence preparedness, even as political rhetoric on national security has scaled new heights. 

The document has cited the fall in the share of India's defence budget, the 1.5-fold rise in cross-border infiltration and a five-fold rise in ceasefire violations by Pakistan in the last 5 years.

The Congress said that the roadmap for enhancing India's hard power would include securing land and maritime borders, taking steps to adopt the principle of "one border, one force" and a "smart fence" on the Myanmar border that combines technology with a physical barrier to check infiltration and smuggling.

The party said that a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will be immediately appointed as the principal adviser to the government on matters relating to defence.

It will also focus on indigenisation of defence production and reinvigorating the intelligence apparatus, besides working on forming a clear policy on cyber attacks, as well as upgrading the Defence Cyber Agency to a full-fledged Cyber Command. 

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