Economic growth is the foundationstone of a country’s national security: P Chidambaram

February 06, 2013

New Delhi: Economic growth is the foundation stone of a country’s national security, stated Union Minister for Finance, Shri P Chidambaram, adding that “defending and promoting national security stands on three important pillars; firstly human resources; secondly science and technology and thirdly money.”

Shri Chidambaram was delivering the K Subrahmanyam Memorial Lecture, organised jointly by the Subbu Forum and the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on February 6, 2013.

Elaborating further on the importance of Human resource for national security, the minister emphasised upon the need to build more schools, colleges, universities, libraries, laboratories, skill development institutions and, above all highly qualified teachers.”

Further, speaking on science and technology, the second pillar for strengthening national security, he said, “None of the threats to national security can be effectively countered unless we embrace science and technology and impart instruction in science and technology beginning at the school level.” Every country that has moved up to the level of middle income country or a developed country has intensively promoted and heavily relied upon science and technology, he added.

India has a land border of a length of about 15,000 kms with Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and even a small length of 106 kms with Afghanistan. These borders are patrolled using a variety of measures - from sophisticated radars to camel-mounted border guards. “However, a large volume of goods do not move through these stations and do not bear the endorsement of the Customs authorities. Because only border guarding forces are in place, and hardly any technology is employed, it is widely acknowledged that the borders are porous”, stated the minister, adding that there are at present “191 battalions of the BSF, ITBP, SSB and Assam Rifles on our borders, but little technology.”

Coming to the third Pillar of national security, Money, the minister said that it is this pillar that supports the other two. “Fiscal growth is the key for greater public welfare and greater security. Yet, we adopt a disdainful attitude to growth”, lamented the minister.

Speaking further on national security, the minister referred to “social cohesion and harmony” as another aspect of national security. “The case for high growth will be much stronger if one took into account the dimension of inclusive development that contributes to social cohesion and harmony,” concluded the minister.

As a nation, India seems to oscillate between embracing highest goal and deriding growth as no panacea for the ills that afflict the country. “If we do not have sustained high growth over a long period of time, we will be, forever, an undernourished, Under-educated, under provided and under performing nation” the minister insisted.

Today, India has a choice between becoming the third largest economy of the world and a middle income country or becoming one of the largest economies of the world that muddles along with the bulk of its people trapped in a life of low income, poor quality, high morbidity and great inequality, he stated, adding “a nation that was the cradle of civilisation five thousand years ago must choose wisely and, once the choice is made, it must have the resolve and the power to stay the course.”