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Kumaraswamy, P.R (ed.). Security Beyond Survival: Essays for K. Subrahmanyam.

Kumaraswamy, P.R (ed.). Security Beyond Survival: Essays for K. Subrahmanyam. London: Sage Publications, 2004, 281 pp

Security discourses have acquired new dimension in international relations particularly in the aftermath of the events of September 11,2001. India, as an important international actor, has its own security concerns commensurate with its defined national interests.

The present edited volume by P.R. Kumaraswamy is a collection of critical essays written by renowned scholars on security studies. These scholars through their essays have examined and critiqued key issues as it pertains to various parameters of India's national security. Among other topics, foreign policy issues and strategic perspectives are discussed in-depth in a provocative and yet persuasive way.

In the introductory chapter, P.R. Kumaraswamy, quoting Barry Buzan, has identified five factors which affect national security. These factors are: political, economic, military, societal and environmental in character. It is true, as the author states, that there is a mismatch between India's large scientific manpower, industrial base and the current economic growth compared to sectoral performance at the actual level. However, it is contestable whether this mismatch is sufficient explanation for describing the apparent lack of India's stability and peace with its neighbor. Furthermore, one can argue that Buzan's other categories-economic, social, political and environmental security--do not take into account the wide diversities and contradictions of India's society and great juggling act the Indian state has to enact in order to maintain delicate balance of order in its pluralistic set up.

The chapter, "Eclipsed Moon to a Rising Sun," by Ashok Kapur, situates Indian policies as framed and shaped by two of its more prominent leaders, namely, Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Behari Vajpayee. He compares Nehru as the eclipsed moon and Vajpayee as the rising sun. As for Nehru, Kapur is rather overtly critical by placing his legacy as one of double defeat. As Kapur states, Nehru "marginalized himself in the Indian sphere and marginalized India in the international sphere"(p.56). Yet Kapur gives due credit to Nehru for "building bridges between the Cold War rivals recognizing bipolarity as the central paradigm in world politics, seeking to reduce tensions between the Big Two and gaining prominence for third-party initiatives" (p.64). In other words, Nehru was a pragmatic leader of his own times who resorted to real politik by maximizing India's advantage and in minimizing risks by adopting a policy of constructive engagement with major powers such as US, USSR and the Peoples' Republic of China. On Vajpayee, Kapur's assertion that he (Vajpayee) raised India from a marginal state to the mainstream arena in international stage seems to be overstated. Vajpayee was a product of the peculiarity of Indian political scene who crafted successfully disparate political entities into his coalition government. Vajpayee's abject failure in forestalling Pakistan Army's Kargil incursions in its initial phase is prominently missing in Kapur's otherwise well-written chapter.

In Chapter Six, J. Mohan Malik provides a comparative assessment of Chinese and Indian security perspectives related to regional and global geopolitical environment. From China's perspective vis-a-vis India, as Malik surmises, it can be broadly described as 'four no's (p. 152). (a) do not align with the US and/or Japan to contain China; (b) do not hinder the Sino-Pakistan strategic partnership (c) do not support Tibet or Taiwan's independence; and (d) do not see and project yourself as an equal of China or as a counterweight to China. However, it is doubtful that India or even Japan will acquiesce to China's preference for a multi-polar world so as to have complete hegemony in Asia-Pacific region. In a counter-balancing game, India will be better off in maintaining a flexible position on Tibet and Taiwan in order to maximize its leverage on facets of Sino-Indian relations.

Michael Kreppon's chapter on "Nuclear Risk Reduction in South Asia" has examined the applicability of the stability/instability paradox in the Indian sub-continent within the theoretical underpinnings of deterrence, limited war, escalation control and nuclear risk reduction. There are lessons to be learned for India and Pakistan, as Kreppon describes, for studying the key elements of Cold War risk reduction mechanism between US and Soviet Union. The first such key element was a formal agreement not to interfere with the territorial status quo on areas of vital interests be it Germany or Korea. Second key element of Cold War nuclear risk reduction was the agreement made by Soviet and American leaders to avoid all acts of nuclear brinkmanship that might escalate into a full-fledged war. Third key element of US-Soviet agreement was to avoid declared military practices that could be termed as hostile by either party. Four, the elements of trust and good faith were germane to nuclear risk reduction as both US and Soviet Union during Cold War years initiated series of confidence-building measures. According to Kreppon, most of these measures could be ideally replicated in the case of nuclear tipped India and Pakistan so as to prevent a surprise nuclear attack by either side.

Kumaraswamy's book is a rigorous scholarly work undertaken by well-known scholars and analysts in security studies. This book would be of abiding interest to scholars of international relations in general and of strategic studies in particular.

Mohammed Badrul Alam

Jamia Millia Islamia University

New Delhi, India
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Author:Alam, Mohammed Badrul
Publication:Journal of Third World Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2009
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