Monday, July 30, 2012

China’s Involvement in India’s Internal Security Threats

Dr. N. Manoharan
Senior Fellow, VIF

Unlike Pakistan, the involvement of China in meddling with India’s internal security is not a simple story of ‘sub-conventional warfare. It is more nuanced and complex. Under Mao Zedong, China supported revolutionary insurgencies throughout the world. The spirit of Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai pervaded between India and China and the former was tagged as “neutrals” in the initial years. Yet, what made China to take interest in “national self-determination struggles” in various parts of India? Partly it was due to Beijing’s perception that its southern neighbour had been turning into an “anti-China base”. Nor did the Chinese take lightly Indian sympathy to Tibetan refugees, who were fleeing the state repression. China also suspected Indian covert hands in Khampas rebellion in Tibet. But, the actual support by China to rebel movements of India gradually commenced after the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict when bilateral relations between the two countries hit rock bottom. For Beijing, patronage to insurgent groups in the northeast India looked ideal not only because of geographical proximity, but also due to the region’s isolation from the Indian mainland, and the existence of external support network created and sustained by the then East Pakistan.

From 1966, China started training several batches of rebels from the northeast. Incidentally, the ‘Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’, popularly known as the ‘Cultural Revolution’ commenced in the same year in China. The first to reach out to the Chinese help were the Nagas. China was considered as the “only hope for revolutionaries”. Taking cue from Nagas, other groups in the region, especially Mizos and Manipuris, got hooked to China. Pakistan had already been in the job of supporting insurgent groups of the northeast since the mid-1950s. The infrastructure and methodology was there to imbibe. And it became easy for China to take on. The China-returned guerillas not only fought better, but were also not amenable to come to negotiating tables even when the time was ripe for resolving conflicts. However, when it came to China’s involvement in Naxalism, it was more of inspirational than any sort of direct material support. Charu Mazumdar, one of the pioneering leaders of the Naxalite movement, famously remarked: “China’s Chairman is our Chairman and China’s path is our path”. Naxals saw Maoism as the right template for making a revolution in India.

After 1978, Deng Xiaoping put Chinese economic, security and foreign policies on a new footing. His policy of “reform and opening” subordinated the revolutionary and anti-imperialist elements of China's foreign policy to the overriding imperative of economic development. The Cultural Revolution was severely condemned for having obstructed and delayed China’s economic and technological progress, and for the divisions it brought about in both its ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ worlds. China’s support to Northeast insurgency dwindled in the late 1970s, if not dried out completely. At around the same time, it should be noted that there was gradual normalisation of Sino-Indian relations. During this period, the northeast militant groups got an alternative support base in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar.

The revival of Chinese involvement in India’s internal security threats commenced roughly in mid-1998 when Sino-Indian relations witnessed strains in the wake of nuclear tests by India. And Beijing had been looking at the developments in the strategic landscape, especially India-US relations with utmost concern and suspicion. More than the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, China was far more concerned about the increasing defence cooperation between India and the United States. China’s role in India’s internal security threats during this phase has been wide-ranging: clandestine support to militant groups, not objecting to Indian insurgent leaders taking asylum in its territory, turning blind eye to Chinese arms flows into India and cyber warfare.

The rebels of the northeast, apart from their nuisance value to the Indian security forces deployed in the region, are also amenable to motivation by the Chinese to target key Tibetan leaders in exile based in India and to gather vital intelligence information about Indian force deployments along India-China borders. In the present period, Chinese intelligence agencies have taken over the role of Mao’s CPC. Apart from reviving contacts with old militant groups like NSCN and PLA, China’s linkage has now extended to touch new groups like United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF). On linkage with Indian Maoists, there is no evidence to suggest China’s direct support.

But, China did not wish to do anything overtly. Since indirect involvement is hard to prove a retaliatory response is more remote. Also, such involvement draws less international stigma. Most importantly, it provided China ‘plausible deniability’. On cyber warfare, the methodology is simple: use a network of cultivated and loosely controlled “patriotic” and mercenary hackers that allows the state to deny responsibility something similar to the method used in the case of small arms.

From time-to-time, India has taken up the issue with Beijing both diplomatically as well as through the aegis of counter-terror cooperation. However, China has categorically denied giving any help to insurgent groups, particularly the ULFA, UNLF, NSCN (I-M) and PLA. But, what surprises is the low level of confidence at which the issue is raised and discussed with the Chinese. India’s official position on the entire gamut of China’s involvement has been soft. One agrees that opinions and assessment on the state of China’s involvement should be expressed after careful judgment based on the long-term interests of building a stable relationship between the two countries. But, there is nothing wrong in having a structured mechanism to discuss this issue specifically. Simultaneously, all routes of Chinese interactions with Indian militant groups should be blocked. This requires enhancement of India’s border security apart from cooperation of India’s other neighbours like Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Except Bhutan, none of India’s neighbours are serious or consistent in cooperating with India to tackle insurgents in the region.

Arms and The Country

Kanwal Sibal
Member Advisory Board, VIF

European nations compete for defence ties with India

When listing India’s defence partners Europe is mentioned, but it would be more accurate to speak of individual European countries as partners. Europe is unified economically but not in the defence domain. Unlike on economic issues, on defence issues India deals with individual capitals and not Brussels.

Some points are pertinent to our defence ties with European countries. One, these countries compete even more intensely with one another for defence contracts abroad than they do for commercial ones, as the former are fewer in number, the margins are bigger and the supply of spare parts and periodic upgrades provide large long-term returns. European countries compete with one another as zealously in India as they do with Russia, Israel or the United States of America, our other major defence partners.

Two, defence ties have a much more pronounced political element than commercial exchanges. Countries with serious political differences can have extensive economic ties, as is the case of the US and Japan with China. However, for defence ties, some geo-political understanding has to exist. The country supplying arms acquires a degree of political leverage over the recipient country. At critical moments, spare parts or ordnance could be denied because of sanctions. These considerations are important for India because of our past experience and potential concerns for the future. In this respect, France is considered more reliable than other European countries because it has eschewed sanctions on India, even for our 1998 decision to go nuclear. The United Kingdom’s record is tainted while Germany has been squeamish about defence trade for humanitarian or conflict-prevention reasons. The sanctions issue has, however, lost its previous edge because of the lifting of nuclear sanctions on India by the US and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the deterioration of US/Nato-Pakistan relations and the receding of the Kashmir issue from the forefront of Western concerns.

Ultra Light Howitzers

Three, defence manufacturing is a high-cost industry as very advanced technologies and huge outlays on research and development are required. Exports help to achieve economies of scale and amortize development costs. European countries are maintaining large defence industries in spite of the absence of any real external military threat and dwindling domestic orders because of reduced defence budgets. Exports therefore become vital. We have so far failed to extract the maximum advantage for ourselves from this compulsion they have by way of obtaining genuine transfers of technology. This is in large part because all European countries adhere rather strictly to technology denial regimes individually, and some intra-European coordination exists on this score. In general, on issues of technology transfer, all of them are restrictive, with the latest generation technologies made almost impossible of access. We have also not used our bargaining power effectively enough because of systemic deficiencies which prevent us from integrating the opportunities we provide to European countries in diverse domains with a view to wresting concessions through cross-bargaining.

Four, the bigger European entities are habituated to wielding power internationally — such has been their domination of world affairs in previous centuries. Their big power status is intimately linked to the possession of a large defence industry. Its existence enables them to discharge their dominant role in maintaining international peace and security, whether through the Security Council, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or a “coalition of the willing”. In the race for technological innovation, the civilian off-shoots of defence technologies are an important factor too, for retaining a large defence manufacturing base. This may not be a material factor in bilateral defence ties, but is relevant in the larger context of global power equations.

Five, rivalry with the US, which is both an ally and a competitor, is a powerful reason for major European countries to maintain a sizable, independent defence manufacturing base. This allows a degree of independence in foreign policy making and avoids complete subservience to the US. This rivalry with the US is being sharpened in relation to India because of improving India-US defence ties and the US success in bagging major defence contracts. In fact, the foreign military sales route is giving the US an edge as it excludes middlemen and, consequently, the problem of allegations of corruption that hobble acquisition decisions is avoided.

Six, it is important to note the increasingly ‘multinational’ nature of the European defence industry resulting from its consolidation through mergers and acquisitions on account of high costs of production, reduced domestic orders, the need for economies of scale and international competition. Various European countries have been forced to pool defence requirements and jointly fund production programmes. It is not only that complex defence products are now seldom purely ‘national’, but also that European products are likely to contain even US-made components.

Of European companies active in India, the European Aeronautics, Defence and Space company, for instance, combines some leading French, German and Spanish companies. Its missile branch was merged with the UK’s BAE systems and Italy’s Finmeccanica to form the MBDA. The Eurofighter is jointly produced by Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain. Dassault, whose Rafale has been selected in preference to the Eurofighter, is owned by the Dassault Group (50.55 per cent) and the EADS (46.33 per cent), the manufacturer of the Eurofighter. Thales, another French company involved in major Indian defence programmes, is tied up with the US’s Raytheon and the UK’s BAE which, in turn, is the manufacturer of the Hawk trainer aircraft sold to India and will supply Ultra Light Howitzers to India through the FMS route on account of its several American acquisitions. In view of these links between European defence companies — and this sector has been largely privatized — the reality of dealing with ‘individual’ European countries gets diluted, although at the political level the commitment of individual governments to forging defence ties with India in depth can be differentiated.

That India should be the world’s largest importer of arms is a serious indictment of the state of indigenous defence manufacturing. India should have built domestic capability on an accelerated basis in view of the enduring combined threat from China and Pakistan and Western technology denial regimes applied to us. India cannot have genuine strategic autonomy without possessing an independent defence production base. We have, unfortunately, not been able to leverage our large-scale imports for obtaining the level of transfers of technology needed by us. Fortunately, the size of the Indian market has persuaded countries like France and Germany to reduce their defence supplies to Pakistan.

With the lifting of the nuclear sanctions on us and Western support for our membership of key technology denial regimes, meaningful technology transfers to us are now more possible in principle. The offsets policy can enlarge our domestic manufacturing base with participation by European companies, but unless the present 26 per cent ceiling on foreign direct investment is increased to at least 49 per cent, it would be on a sub-contractual basis, with serious technology transfers remaining elusive.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Preparing for Cyberwar - A National Perspective

Commander Mukesh Saini (Retd.)

On November 12th, 2011 Maj. Gen. Moghaddam, the "architect" of Iran's missile program, was showing a new type of warhead for nuclear weapon capable missile Sejil 2, to a group of experts for their comments, at a site about 50 Kms from Tehran. Warhead was connected to computer for simulation which was being watched on a big screen. And instead of simulation the actual warhead went off pulverising the site. Explosion was so powerful that it could be heard in Tehran. Initially Iranian government refused to accept that there was any such explosion however later conceded that in the explosion 17 officers of Revolutionary Guards have lost lives (though 36 funerals took place). Explosion was so powerful that no one was alive to narrate the incident and nothing was left at the site to provide evidence. Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) investigation pointed at two probabilities; (a) infiltration by a Mossad operative or (b) computer controlling the missile was infected with Stuxnet (like) worm. The second probability was considered much more likely after two well-known cyber infiltrations using Stuxnet and Duqu to stall Iran’s nuclear ambition. Probably this incident is historic as for the first time cyber weapon was used to cause real world explosion or kinetic attack. (Israel Insider, 2011)


Cyberspace has changed many old concepts. In this globalised world everyone is neighbour of other. There is no established concept of boundaries. Identification of targets and what is under threat or need to be attacked in case of Cyberwar is important to segregate the facet of Cyberwar from wars using other form of attacks on ground, air and as Sea. What needs to be secured is what needs protection. Therefore definition of Cyber security will give fair idea about the scope of Cyberwar and its targets. The Information Technology Act 2000 (India) defines Cyber Security which means protecting information, equipment, devices computer, computer resource, communication device and information stored therein from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification or destruction. Richard A. Clark in his book Cyber War defines "cyberwarfare" as "actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation's computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption. However things are not as simplistic and materialist but a game of mind and perception also.

To understand the real meaning of Cyberwar, it is necessary to understand the meaning of War and its import on governance and diplomacy. The British Parliamentary Committee in its report after Iraq war noted that “War” is a term that has both popular and legal connotations. Colloquially, “war” embraces conflicts between the armed forces of states and, occasionally, major internal conflicts such as the British or American Civil wars. “War” as a legal institution is a feature of both international and national law. In international law, the distinguishing characteristic of “war” is the legal equality of the belligerents and the special status of those states not taking part in the conflict (“neutral” states). The condition of “war” could be brought about by a declaration of war but one was not necessary (nor, where there was a declaration of war, were hostilities inevitable). Additionally, states could choose to regard a conflict between them as “war” and apply the legal rules accordingly, or neutrals could insist on respect for their rights. “War” as an institution of domestic law did require a declaration, made in the Monarch’s name but by the Prime Minister, acting under the prerogative. This action triggered domestic consequences—nationals of the opponent state became “enemy aliens”, liable to measures of restraint including detention. Property of enemy aliens was liable to seizure. Statute provided for emergency measures—for the call up of troops, the sequestration of property and so on. (Constitution, 27 July 2006)

To fit this definition of War the only Operation Orchard fits the bill were Air Defence System of Syria was made ineffective by Israel during their attack on alleged nuclear plant of Syria. In all other cases be it cyber-attack on Estonia, Georgia or Operations Titan Rain, Night Dragon Shady Rats etc may not be termed as the acts of war. The case of explosion at Iran’s missile site lacks affirmation and evidence.

War has International Ramifications

Various international laws and treaties especially of Paris and also Charter of United Nations prohibit use of threat or use of force in international relations. Prior to these developments post 1945, declaration of war was a standard practice, but today no one officially declares war to the international community. This is nothing but just masking because internally a nation state has to declare war, whether limited in scope or a full-fledged war. This is necessary to activate appropriate structures; authorisation to force commanders to use Rules of Engagement (R.o.E) for ‘conflict’; activate provisions of War-Book; freezing of assets of enemy aliens; mobilisation of resources; suspension of local laws against the enlisted personnel engaged in war; and even enforcing ‘Emergency’ in the country. Thus a war whether declared or otherwise is a ‘structured-response’ to a conflict which is expected to result in subjugating the enemy to the will of a nation.

National Information Security Policy & Doctrine of Cyberwar

It is necessary to define what would constitute an “attack” serious enough to precipitate into military counter offensive. It is necessary to define this line in an open stated policy, so that in case of any military retaliation, the international community can be with India. However defining this Lakshman Rekha is not easy. If the threshold is kept too law then breaches will be norm and finding exception where counter offensive becomes necessary in a transparent manner would be difficult. If the threshold is kept too high then nation can be bled by thousand wounds rather than massive attack and no formal retaliatory force can be used.

Another challenge is attribution. Cyber-attack may appear to be originated from one or multiple countries but actual culprit may be a third country. Recently in April 2012, National Informatics Centre has told the press that some unknown third country has used its servers to attack other countries including China. (Joseph, 2011) This statement had two immediate adverse effects on our cyber war preparedness, firstly it has exposed our vulnerabilities that we do not have sufficient capacity to identify originating country despite servers and logs are under our control and secondly it has provided a perfect alibi to our enemies to attack us and deny ownership of such attacks. Can we now blame China for attacks on Indian cyberspace?

Thus attribution is critical for appropriate response. In fact noting this fact, Annual Report 2011-2012 by Intelligence and Senator Committee of UK has termed cyber attack as a ‘Tier One threat to UK and has direct to government to inter-alia develop capabilities of cyber-attack without detection ( or at least without attribution). The UK government has been allocation of funds equivalent to Rs. 5720 Crores over next 3 years for National Cyber Security Program to prepare for cyber-attack. The committee has also advised the intelligence agencies to not to use such technologies against own citizens except with specific approval. (Intelligence and Security Committee, UK, 2012)
In 2005, after 2 years of extensive deliberations between 21 ministry/departments of the government and industry confederations, National Information Board under NSA Sh. JN Dixit had approved the draft National Information Security Policy (NISP), it is yet to be approved by the government. In the mean while Department of Electronics & IT drafted another NISP (apparently without wider consultation) and sought public opinion in 2011. Nothing has been heard of new NISP since then. Due to this intervening period on this front we moved from leader to laggard. Without such policy defining Information Warfare Doctrine for nation (not a doctrine by Armed forces) will be distant dream. Therefore to fight as well defend against future cyber-attacks, it is paramount that a good quality and well consulted over-arching NISP is finalized and formally declared. And based on this IW Doctrine for India (inclusive of Intelligence Services as well as private sector) be developed.

Amendment to National War book

Once as a policy India declares the existence of cyber war and its contours, and also develop cyber war doctrine, the war book required to be amended accordingly. The role and responsibility required to analyze and articulated to prevent confusion and fratricide at the time of war. It is also essential for efficient and effective conduct of war including cyber-war. The war book therefore needs to specify as how to maintain no-contact cyber war and when the government decide to go for full-contact or partial-contact war then how cyber war will be integrated to meet overall war objectives. The war is the only place which mandates the change in command and control structure and transfer of certain powers to military. It is the war-book which will clarify the intra-government relationship and any failure to do so can lead to turf war and chaos at the time of crisis.

Rule of Engagement

The offensive Cyber operations by the enemy will be swift and paralyzing. Therefore central control of conduct of cyber war may not be the good idea. It is necessary to define as unambiguously as possible Rule of Engagement for cyber warriors (whether uniformed or militia). Uncontrolled offensive can not only hurt in retaliatory fire against unplanned defensive measures but also can isolate us in community of nations. The role of diplomatic cadre can therefore never to be underestimated in events leading up to full scale cyber war. The National Internet Exchange (NIXI) is up and running to defend our intra-India Internet in case of worst situation, isolation but poor defensive mechanism, lack of capacity can paralyze us and can cause loss of our will to fight back. Therefore it is necessary to coordinate not only with in the government and armed forces but also with private sector as well as patriotic hackers outside the government and RoE for everyone should be articulated. While preparing RoE the issues highlighted in following paragraphs must be addressed.

According to RoE of most of the Armed Forces of the world, Line of Communication and nodes which directly or indirectly supports military operations of belligerent nations are valid military targets. By this Rule of Engagement all telecommunication and internet service providers are legitimate targets during any Cyber war. However when the Hague rule (1923) of Air warfare article 24(2) was prepared the dependency of life of masses on communication structures was not as heavy as it is today. Not even at the time when in 1956 New Delhi Draft rules were prepared, which clearly established that “The objectives belonging to the following categories are those considered to be of generally recognized military importance: ... (7) The installations of broadcasting and television stations; telephone and telegraph exchanges of fundamental military importance.” there was no Internet. Now technically it is possible to mount unbearable misery on masses through attacking on Critical Information Infrastructure. The question is that if such an attack is undertaken, will it amount to war-crime?

While dealing with IHL /LOAC, the British Parliamentary Committee felt, “The situation is different, however, in the case of breaches of IHL. The Minister of State for the armed forces told us that “once a conflict actually begins, whatever the legal basis for this participation, it is conduct by all participants as required by the body of law in rules known as the International Humanitarian Law. The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 are a part of that IHL. The United Kingdom is also bound by a number of other conventions and protocols, such as the first additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions ... Those are not our laws. We apply them. Those have been defined elsewhere and we simply live within them, so to speak”. Mr. Ingram added that “all of our personnel are so trained in understanding the basis upon which they are having to conduct themselves in a conflict situation and it is very much part of the whole training process”. Individuals (and in some cases their commanders) suspected of violations of IHL such as killing prisoners of war, the ill-treatment of detainees in occupied territory or the use of prohibited weapons must be considered for prosecution in national courts. The Government has said, in the context of the ICC, that all allegations of this kind would be stringently investigated and, where appropriate, criminal proceedings instigated. This duty, which mainly derives from the Geneva Conventions, has gained in importance following the United Kingdom’s acceptance of the Statute of the ICC. The prosecution of those alleged to be responsible for serious violations of IHL is within the jurisdiction of the ICC, but only where the proceedings in national law have been unsatisfactory or non-existent. The Government’s position has been that there will never be prosecutions against British servicemen before the ICC because there always will be adequate national investigations, followed, where required, by prosecutions. (Constitution, 27 July 2006)

Need for Coordination and Control

The cyber-attack on Iran in form of Stuxnet, Duqu and Flamer are just peek into the future. US President has repeatedly stated that cyber-attacks are most serious economic and national security challenge that America faces. To meet this challenge US has introduced Cyber security Act 2012 in Senate on 20th July 2012. (BBC, 2012). US conducts exercise ‘Cyber Strom’ every alternate year. NATO, Australia and many European countries undertake extensive cyber security exercises to improve command, control and coordination. A formal Cyber command and control structures have been established in most of the first world countries and China.

Unlike military war, the non-state actors such as terrorist organization, large corporate houses, hacktivist, cyber privateer and cyber insurgents have capacity and will to take on nation states. Wikileaks, Anon, Luzesec were some of the non-state players who have challenged the might on nations including the United States of America. Large organizations such as Intel, Microsoft, Huawei, etc can also play role to support their respective government. In case of ‘Flamer’ virus original Microsoft Digital Signature was misused. (Adhikari, 2012; Adhikari, 2012).

It is myth that hackers will win or lose the cyber war. Hackers (with due respect) are just foot soldiers, and wars are fought by General who are visionary, know their forces, understand enemy forces as well as mind of their commander, can coordinate with other wings of the government and first of all finest leader who draws respect from his soldiers (Hackers).

In India we are yet to formally recognize the dangers, not because it is not so recognized in the power circle but just because it is so recognized as one of the most powerful tool that everyone wants to play the lead role and turf war has broken out. Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses has attempted to give some course correction to this rudderless situation through its recently released book ‘India’s Cyber Security Challenges’. (IDSA, 2012; IDSA Task Force, March 2012) However overall paralysis is continuing and well planned structure such as CERT-IN, NTRO and NSCS are being consistently undermined. It is therefore necessary the National Information Board (a board of score of secretary ranked officer) be resuscitated and board meeting be held at least every quarter till things stabilise and we as nation become competent to defend our cyberspace.

Role of Defence Forces

Role of defence forces in case of Cyber war is limited. They are required to protect only its own domain and at the most government domain such as,, etc. But if this control is not practiced in peace time same cannot be undertaken in war time. In fact probably intelligence agencies and CERTs are better positioned to take on such tasks. However IHL and LOAC neither cover nor envisaged to cover the activities of Intelligence agencies. Similarly for offensive operations, intelligence agencies that had undertaken surveillance of enemy networks and probably placed backdoors and spybots in the target network may be more suitable for offensive action. For example if National Security Agency of US have deployed the launch pads of cyber weapons then NSA alone will be in better position to arm and launch cyber weapons from these pads. In case of Duqu probably some intelligence agency was controlling the Command & Control centres of Duqu. Non applicability of IHL / LOAC on such agencies is a glaring flaw in scheme of things for containing any Cyberwar. And also launching Cyberwar on other nation without adequately protecting own cyberspace will be similar to MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction / Disruption) of nuclear war.

Cyberwar also challenges some of the basic tenet of armed conflict. What is use of fighting personnel to wear uniform when the opposing forces are not going to be physically present in front of each other? How would belligerent forces know that attacking party is enlisted or a civilian? Suppose all major data of one of the belligerent nations are encrypted and made unusable, will the data which may be very vital for the survival of the population amount to prisoner-of-war? If collision of train takes place due to intentional malfunctioning of signalling system leading to death of masses, will it amount to War Crime?


War is serious matter which involves lives of all citizens. Even if external declaration of war has become redundant, this is required internally to divert resources for fighting the war. When war get (internally) declared there are changes in organisational structure of governance; War Book comes into force; Rules of Engagement changes; financial allocation made; civilian criminal laws stand suspended for actions taken in pursuance of war; and National Emergency may be declared. These are too profound changes which cannot be taken lightly. Therefore every cyber-attack does not amount to cyber war. Involvement of defence forces along with enlisting of hackers and allocation of cyber-targets for proper coordination is required. The international treaties and conventions such as IHL and LOAC come into force. Wars are not limited to action on ground but diplomatic struggle also begins. Non-state actors have the ability to stand winnable chance against a nation state. Therefore it recommended that Cyberwar be looked at with all seriousness and following steps should be take-up in double quick time to prepare our nation for Cyberwar:

a. Declare National Information Security Policy after wide consultation with all stake holders. Such policy should be as much as possible technology neutral, overarching and long lasting;

b. Evolve Cyber warfare doctrine and develop capacity to implement such doctrine;

c. Modify National War-Book to include this new form of war and its peculiar characteristics such as no-contact war and role of non-actors;

d. Define Rule-of-engagement for Cyberwar to prevent unintended escalation of war and unintended Human Rights violations;

e. Establish command and control structures for efficient and effective conduct of Cyberwar and prevent turf war within during the period of crisis.

f. And to do all this and much more, National Information Board should meet at frequent interval; else Cabinet Committee on Security should find an alternative.


Adhikari, R., 2012. Flame Singes Microsoft Security Certificates. [Online]
Available at: [Accessed 20 June 2012].

BBC, 2012. News Technology. [Online]
Available at: [Accessed 21 July 2012].

Constitution, S. C. o. t., 27 July 2006. Waging war: Parliament's role and responsibility Volume I: Report,London: HOUSE OF LORDS.
Hague Convention V, 18 October 1907. Hague Convention V. [Online]
Available at century/hague05.asp [Accessed 05 May 2012].

IDSA Task Force, March 2012. India's Cyber Security Challenges, New Delhi: Institute of Defence Studies and Aanlysis. IDSA, 2012. India's Cyber Security Challenge. First ed. New Delhi: IDSA.

Intel Technology Brief , 2011. Protect Laptops and Data with Intel® Anti-Theft Technology. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 24 May 2012].

Intelligence and Security Commitee, UK, 2012. Annual Report 2011-2012, London: Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
Israel Insider, 2011. Suspicion in Iran that Stuxnet caused Revolutionary Guards base explosions. [Online]

Joseph, J., 2011. Govt servers used for cyber attacks on China, other countries' networks. [Online] Available at: attacks-on-China-other-countries-networks/articleshow/10760699.cms [Accessed 24 July 2012].

Quintin, K. J. a. A., 18 November 2011. The Internet in Bello: Cyber War Law, Ethics & Policy. Berkeley, UC Berkeley School of Law.

Man and Environment in India: Past Traditions and Present Challenges

Anirban Ganguly
Associate Fellow, VIF

Civilisation has been at times described as a ‘type of relationship.’ In his classic‘Civilisations: culture, ambition and the transformation of nature’, historian and scholar of civilisations Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, chose to look at civilisation through the dimension of man and his environment. Armesto defined it as a type of relationship: ‘a relationship to the natural environment, recrafted, by the civilising impulse, to meet human demands.’ Armesto also argued that ‘civilisations commonly overexploit their environments, often to the point of self-destruction.’ Civilisations, at times, attempt to transform the world for their ends and in the process work towards trying to ‘denature humanity.’

Indian civilisation, on the other hand, has been known as an ‘eco-friendly’ civilisation. At least in the past it did express a profound awareness of the need to evolve a balanced pattern in the man-environment interaction and certainly not work towards ‘denaturing humanity.’ In order to calibrate this man-environment interaction, ancient Indians divinized nature and layed down well formulated guidelines to define and nurture this relationship free of exploitative propensities. Examples abound since its early history; it would be relevant to take a look at some of them.

The Rig-Veda establishes the symbolism of this close kinship when it says: ‘Heaven is my father; my mother is this vast earth, my close kin.’ Taking forward this environmental tradition the Atharva-Veda contains the hymn - Bhumi Sukta – in praise of the earth and invokes a balance: upon the immutable, vast earth supported by the law, the universal mother of the plants, peaceful and kind, may we ever walk for ever.’ The elaborate Vedic ritual of ‘Athiratram’ had, as its precise objective the generation of a positive impact on man and the environment and continues to be performed to this day with the same fervour and faith. Surapala’sVrikshāyurveda, for example, discusses in detail trees, tree planting and various other topics connected with plant-science including the treatment of sick-trees.

In one of its profound ecological perceptions the Mahabharata, in the Bhisma Parva, refers to the earth as an ‘ever-yielding cow’ provided its resources are developed and managed with balance and control: ‘if Earth is well looked after, it becomes the father, mother, children, firmament and heaven, of all creatures.’ The Mahabharata also compares the tree to the universe; it says that he who ‘worships the ashvattha [peepal, holy fig tree] worships the universe.’ The tree was seen as a symbolic representation of the universe with a single trunk and its multiple branches of manifestation. The Bodhi tree (ashvattha or peepal), under which the Buddha achieved his realisation has been always seen as the symbol of ‘the universal consciousness.’ The wish-endowing symbol was that of the tree –the kalpavriksha or kalpataru – the mystical tree that granted every wish just as nature showered its bounty on all. Tree worship, as findings reveal, was in fact known even in the Harappan culture. Trees and plants continue to play an important role in Indian rituals and customs to this day, especially in rural India.

This deep ecological consciousness pervaded the entire Indian civilisational mindscape and saw expressions from across the land. The legendary philosopher of Tamilakam, Thiruvalluvar, talks of nature as man’s fortress. If he destroys her, he remains without protection.

Even in the affairs of the state, the administration and the ruler were directed to preserve and promote environmental welfare. In the Arthasastra, Kautilya suggests the need to develop abhayāranya or abhayavana, forest and animal sanctuaries, where trees and animals would both dwell free from the fear of slaughter. Kautilya also prescribed the post of a forest superintendent and penalties for poaching and causing damage to forests, especially productive ones.

The sacred grove tradition was an intrinsic part of the Indian ecological imagination and tradition. There was the kovilkādu in Tamil Nadu, kāvu in Kerala, nandavana or daivavana in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh,deorai in Maharashtra. Preserved for centuries in the outer precincts of the village these sacred groves gradually grew into rich ecological repositories and are facing threats of decimation today because of population pressure and neglect.

The Indian environmental tradition was conscious of the need to protect nature and to harness it within prescribed limits. Harappan sites at Dholavira, for example, demonstrate the elaborate techniques employed for water harvesting and storing. The initial structure of the Grand Anicut on the river Kaveri, erected by the great Chola King Karikala who ruled around 180 C.E. diverted the Kaveri waters without ‘impounding them’ and is believed to have irrigated 30,000 hectares during that period. Temple tanks served the dual purposes of ‘ritual ablution’ as well recharging of the groundwater level.

The Arthasastra’s directives on water indicate that it was regarded as a ‘collective, not a private commodity’ and was considered extremely precious. Tanks were built through joint efforts of all stakeholders and the period that saw the construction or renovation of tanks received tax reprieves. Fines were also prescribed for a number of acts that adversely affected water bodies, ‘for obstructing or diverting a water course’, for ‘damaging embankments’ etc.

The river in Indian civilisation was also endowed with divinity and was a cosmos by itself with ecological, social and spiritual dimensions. They were classified according to their sacredness and capacity to spiritually elevate man. The seven sacred rivers of India continue to remain a vibrant symbol signifying Indian civilisational continuity as well as unity. Like the sacred forests and groves, rivers too in the Indian context assured the seeker of spiritual height and perfection. Circumambulation of the river Narmada – a 2600 km route – was considered one of the most sacred acts in the Indian spiritual tradition. Rivers in the Indian tradition were not regarded as ‘merely flowing mass of waters,’ but rather as ‘life-bestowing, life-nurturing, and life protecting divine mothers.’ The Satapatha-Brahmana and the Rig-Veda both abound in references to the sacredness of rivers and their organic link with man and his civilisation. Rivers were ‘implored for protection’; were referred to as the very breath of the people, seen as the sources of plenitude and were prayed to for granting people ‘nourishment and delight.’ Venerated as divine beings they were treated with deference and sensitivity.

The situation is obviously different today. Pressures of modern life and an increasingly materialistic mode of living have, to a large extent, served to severe these age-old organic links in India between man and his environment. The Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Forest in its recent report (May 2012) referred to this long-standing relation when it said, that ‘Environment in ancient India was not an entity isolated, apart and independent from mankind.’ The isolation of environment, it observed, was a ‘modern day phenomena arising out of crass commercialization, careless technology, unplanned urbanization, unbridled human greed, phenomenal population growth’ etc. It noted that the ‘Relationship between people and the environment/ecosystem in ancient India had been one of harmony, coexistence, mutual care and concern – the two supporting and complementing each other in their own way.’ Such an approach saw the embedding of the attitude of care and respect for the environment in the Indian way of life.

Recognising the uniqueness of such a tradition and upholding it as a symbol of a collective environmental consciousness that could still guide eco-conservation efforts in the present age, the Committee, interestingly, observed that, ‘Worship and reverence to various elements of environment – the earth, air, water, river, tree, forests, mountains, etc by personifying them not only signify how crucial and vital these were considered for our existence by our forefathers but also guide us how best to preserve and protect our environment even in the absence of regulatory regime [and] environmental governance.’ Awareness of these, it argues, would unravel the centrality of environment in the Indian civilisational vision and scheme. The Committee’s ‘rueful’ indications were that memories and practice of these past ecological traditions and perceptions were being gradually lost and one may add discouraged by official neglect and overruling.

Much remains to be done in the areas of environment and environment conservation and a brief survey of some the Committee’s principal findings and recommendations may be useful in appreciating the magnitude of the challenges in the area.

Delayed Finalisation of Plan Outlay

The first observation of a ‘surprised’ Committee was pointed at the delay in the finalization of the XIIth five year plan for the Ministry. ‘Even when the first year of the Five Year Plan’ has set in, the Planning Commission is yet to finalise the plan. The Committee expressed its ‘serious concern over the delay in finalization of the XIIth Five year Plan outlays’ of such an important Ministry and directed the Planning Commission to ensure that ‘such sort of delay does not recur in future and outlays are finalised well before the beginning of the Plan period.’ In view of the ‘lurking challenges that climate change poses’ before the nation, the Committee recommended that the proposed outlay of Rs.47586.00 Crores that the Ministry has forwarded be given ‘serious consideration.’

Consistent Reduction in Budgetary Allocations

In a move that seems to have become a pattern with the present policymakers, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has seen a consistent reduction in its budgetary allocation. The Committee took a ‘very serious view on the consistent reduction of Budgetary Allocation for such an important Ministry, like, the Ministry of Environment and Forests during the last two years.’ The Committee also noted ‘with concern’ that the share of the Ministry ‘in the Central Plan has consistently been declining in successive Plan periods.’ The surveyed statistics are hardly inspiring – the VII plan had a percentage share of 0.83 for environment and forests, the X plan saw a reduction to 0.67 per cent and the XI plan saw a further climb down to 0.41 per cent. The share of the Ministry in the Annual Plan 2012-13 has now become ‘a dismal 0.37 per cent.’ It was a ‘very disturbing trend’ that ‘needs to be reversed’ the Committee emphasised with alarm. On the other hand the Ministry was also asked to gear up its fund utilisation drive.

Lack of Adequate Resources for Pollution Control

Dealing with environment and ecological issues, the Committee felt that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) constituted way back in 1974 continues to face major constraints such as ‘shortage of technical staff, scientists and lack of quality laboratory facilities.’ It asked the CPCB to improve its internal working and enhance its coordination with the SPCB and directed its members to ‘regularly visit various places and hold discussions with concerned SPCBs so as to have a first hand experience of ground realities prevailing in the country.’ The Planning Commission was again upbraided because ‘despite justification and persuasion’ it did not allocate ‘adequate resources for prevention and control of pollution.’ The Committee was unhappy to know that State governments were not ‘according due priority to environment’ and in majority of States, it was ‘almost a non-issue.’

Deteriorating Health of Rivers

On the issue of river pollution and deteriorating water quality, the Committee made certain scathing observations. It brought to light the fact, that despite huge financial outlays and investment the ‘quality of Ganga water is going down day by day.’ Although the Ministry had launched 53 projects for reducing pollution in the Ganga under the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) Programme since 2009-10 in 42 towns of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal at an estimated cost of Rs.2598.48 Crores, the Committee was constrained to observe that the Ministry was making huge investments in the process of ‘cleaning the Ganga, the Yamuna and other major rivers of the country with the assumption that monitory investment is the sole parameter of abatement of pollution in rivers.’ Despite efforts to clean the Ganga that started with the Sixth Five Year Plan (1980-85) under the Ganga Action Plan and a number of schemes that followed such as the Ganga Action Plan-II the ‘end result is for everyone to see’, the quality of water in the Ganga has not stopped declining. As per information furnished by the Ministry, a total amount of ‘Rs. 39225.95 Crores has been incurred on the Ganga Action Plan-II, starting with the Eight Plan (1992-97). A similar story of huge funds allocated and little achieved has also emerged in the case of the Yamuna, one among the sacred seven rivers of India. The Committee did note that in spite of efforts made and a ‘huge investment incurred under various schemes/projects, pollution, level in both the rivers, i.e. Ganga and the Yamuna [and the Committee, at least here, did not take into account the other major river such as the Narmada] continues to increase unabated.’ It especially deplored the ‘pathetic condition’ of Yamuna which has ‘virtually turned into a ‘Nala’ to carry sewage falling into it from drains.’

The quality of the Ganga water was also bad and at several important downstream locations such Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Patna the issue continues to be a major concern for environmentalist as well as the common man. On this issue the Committee made a significant observation – one that brings us back to the civilisational link between man, river and his larger environment – when it said that the failure of Government schemes lies in the fact that the Government has so far only focused on the ‘engineering centric approach to solve the problem’ neglecting the ‘social engineering problem.’ It observed that the time had come ‘when we should integrate engineering centric approach with social centric or society centric approach through which people living on and around the banks of the rivers are involved and assimilated in the Mission Clean Ganga.’ One wonders why a serious effort in this direction has never been made especially when such private and local initiatives have evolved in these areas as well as around some of the major rivers in the country. Perhaps because these local, tradition inspired conservative efforts use an earthy and religious idiom that they are usually ignored or overlooked by the more engineering centric and urbanized technocrats in tune with Western conservation methods and models.

The other issue of concern that the Committee highlighted and one which leads to increased river pollution and choking was the encroachment of catchment areas. The catchment area of the river Yamuna, as a case in point, has been ‘encroached upon and diverted for construction and developmental activities.’ An encroached catchment sees a drastic reduction in its capacity of retaining water/rainwater and therefore the Committee recommended that the Ministry take urgent steps ‘to stop encroachment and illegal commercial activities on the catchment areas of all major rivers…’ The progressively dwindling natural flow of rivers has also affected their health and has reduced their ‘assimilative capacity.’ For the Yamuna the capacity has almost come to naught, for the Ganga it is going down, and according to those working on the ground to save the mighty Narmada, that river has already stopped flowing along a 437km stretch, almost one third of its total length.

State of Forests: Much remains to be done

Referring to the latest State of Forest Report 2011, the Committee noted that there is a decrease of 367 sq.kms in the country’s forest cover in comparison to the 2009 assessment. For achieving the target of having 33 per cent of the geographical area of the country under tree/forest cover as mandated in the National Forest Policy, 1988, the Committee has argued that there needs to be a much greater increase in the outlay in order to intensify forestry efforts. Commenting on the Green India Mission project, to be launched in 2012-13 under the National Action Plan for Climate Change with the aim of increasing forest/tree cover across 5 million hectare over a decade at a cost of 46000.00 Crores, the Committee observed that it did not receive satisfactory replies from the Ministry on basic queries such as land identification for the Project. It doubted the seriousness of the Ministry on the preparation for the successful completion of such a grand project. Overall the Committee did not appear to be satisfied with the Ministry’s efforts in increasing the green cover and in protecting the forest cover in the country.

Making Afforestation Mandatory in CSR Programmes

The Committee also made an important observation, it reiterated the recommendation of the 210th Report on Demands for Grants 2010-11 which had directed the Government to make it ‘mandatory for the public sector undertakings/major industries in public and private sectors to spend 50 per cent of the money being spent towards corporate social responsibilities (CSR) for massive afforestation’ under the guidance of the Environment Ministry. It was noted that no action has been taken till date on the issue and the Committee expressed ‘serious displeasure over the fact that the Ministry has miserably failed in taking appropriate follow up action and capitalising on the recommendations of the Committee for arranging additional resources for massive plantation.’ It was dismayed to see that the recommendation was taken ‘so passively, nonchalantly and casually’ when experiments involving major public sector companies like NTPC, HPCL etc have been successful. Why the Ministry chose to ignore such a dynamic proposal remains unclear.

Wildlife Conservation Requires More Funds

The other surprising development that has come to light is that while the population of tigers in the country has registered an increase by ‘almost 20 per cent as per an estimate’ due to the efforts made under the centrally sponsored and by now famous Project Tiger, the allocation made under the project since 2010-11 ‘has been on the decline.’ The 219th Report had directed the Ministry to convince the Finance Ministry ‘to enhance allocation of funds for wildlife preservation schemes.’ Even after a lapse of 16 months the recommendation seems to not have been considered or acceded to. Expressing ‘deep anguish’ over the state of affairs and on its recommendation being taken so lightly, the Committee has directed the Planning Commission to give ‘serious consideration to the need of the Ministry for adequate funds for preservation and conservation of wildlife’ and found wholly unjustifiable the Commission’s move to reduce the Ministry’s proposed demand of Rs.1276.30 Crore for the Project Tiger to Rs.167.70 crore. This itself, speaks volumes on the attitude of official India to wildlife conservation and support.

Non-serious Implementation of Biodiversity Act 2002

Another issue that came to light and which reflects the lack of official vision and approach when it comes to the Environment is the non-serious effort made to implement the Biodiversity Act 2002. The Biodiversity Act 2002 had established the National Biodiversity Authority at the national level, the State Biodiversity Board at the state level and the Biodiversity Management Committee at the Panchayat level with the objective of promoting conservation and ‘sustainable use of India’s rich biodiversity and associated knowledge with people’s participation.’ Ten years down the line, much remains to be done both at the Central and State level in order to implement the Biodiversity vision. The Committee mentioned that three states, Bihar, Maharashtra and J&K have not even set up their respective state biodiversity boards even after a decade. It called upon the Government to take make serious efforts to implement this crucial and futuristic piece of legislation.

As the report reflects; large and vital areas cry for a greater dynamic vision, action and effort at implementation. Innovative schemes and working mechanisms seem to be urgently required. As the Committee put it, ‘engineering centric approaches’ alone are not working anymore. Perhaps a people-tradition-civilisation centric approach to environment is the crying need of the day. Our, habitually ignored, or nearly lost civilisational vision and traditions of Environment conservation and rejuvenation, may provide a much needed clue and direction.

But is ‘official’ India even trying to look up that path?