Looking at the South-Asian cauldron
Reviewed by D S Cheema

Internal Security Threats to South Asia
by Manan Dwivedi and Devaditya Chakravarty Kalpaz Publications. Pages 263. Rs 845

Internal Security Threats to South AsiaSo much has been written about this subject that one expects the book to be the same run-of-the-mill book. It is a valiant effort to dissect a popular but highly complex subject for any writer. India and other South Asian counties, who have so much at stake, could learn a few things from the book. The authors have tried to lay bare the genesis of the problem and take a deep incisive look at a crucial issue with total honesty.

Terrorism of any kind is against the spirit of utopia i.e. "the good society" and equality and principles of hope being the central value of human existence. All nations in this region which want to become "all powerful," unfortunately, remain "all vulnerable" because of the threats of communalism, regionalism and 'casteism' which must be taken as segmented threats to national and internal security.

The authors discuss the anti-national contours of the theme of conflict and internal security situation in South Asia. They recommend the non-traditional or soft-security option, particularly for a country like ours. In the chapter "Red Star over India: Naxalism Revisited and a Few other Concerns", the authors explain how the tenet of rebellion, which runs in the bloodstream of humanity, has made the people eschew their tribal innocence which has become a major irritant for India. The authors argue that Naxalites are fast turning into India's "Fifth Columnists, who are keen to join hands with external forces", to undermine India's territorial integrity. Sustainable development through good governance is the only way of containing the resentment of people whether in Jammu and Kashmir, the North-East or the Naxal-affected areas.

Pakistan, which is fast turning into a failed state due to its religious fundamentalism and the Army's dubious role, is the worry of the entire world. Its intelligence agencies support the scourge of insurgency and terrorism which act as an "asymmetrical internal security threat" to India. The beleaguered state of Afghanistan is a point of flash which endangers not only South Asia but the world as a whole. It is well known that drug trade of this nation, along with the jihadi forces, are the major destabilising factor. Bangladesh has emerged as another source of internal security threat due to the rise and upsurge of Islamic fundamentalism and illicit migrations. A chapter has been devoted to the internal security threats in Maldives and the turmoil that is visible in the Indian Ocean.

At the end of the book, the authors have included a useful chapter titled, "Conclusion," wherein they answer many relevant questions related with internal security.

Some parts of the book appear to be disjointed as if a collection of essays has been put together. The writing style of the authors leaves much to be desired; the reader wishes the authors could avoid very lengthy and some times confusing sentences spread over all pages. The quality of the content, which no doubt the authors have prepared painstakingly, suffers at the hands of poor readability.

References at the end of each chapter provide a mine of information for the more inquisitive reader to dig further. At places, the authors repeat the arguments, perhaps to support their viewpoint and lay emphasis on it. However, it is to the credit of the book that it is still an invaluable source of information for administrators, South-Asia observers and thinkers, military and para-military leadership, intelligence agencies and students of different disciplines.