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A New Context for Security Discourse

Dipankar Banerjee

By Mohan Guruswamy, Ronald Joseph Abraham, Uma Natarajan
Centre for Security Analysis, Chennai, 2007, pp. 109, Rs. 350.00


Mohan Guruswamy and his group of scholars are to be complimented for this new approach to analysing security in a region, based essentially on examination of socio-economic data. Ever since human security entered the lexicon of security discourse and the annual United Nations Human Development Index came to be published some two decades ago, security is no longer related exclusively to the state and its hard power. This point in particular is highlighted well by General Raghavan, the President of the Centre for Security Analysis and the sponsor of the project. He defines what the Centre understands as security in the preface ‘as an amalgam of components that encompasses the needs of the citizen and society. Its components include economic, environmental, societal and political dimensions.’   This of course is not new in India, where the security discourse remains otherwise mired in history and in conflict. A modest effort was made by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in the late 1990s through separate projects on Human Security and Comprehensive and Cooperative Security, funded by the Japan Foundation. The Ford Foundation later supported an even more ambitious pan-Asian project on Non Traditional Security from 1999-2002. Leading institutes in South Asia under the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies in Colombo, in collaboration with other institutes in southeast and east Asia have worked on several issues of globalization, environment and cooperative security issues. Many of these concepts emerged in Europe and Japan and were debated intensely. But, sadly the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent ‘war on terror’, took the focus of analysis back to traditional security. That is why this slim publication, even though restricted largely to statistical data, is still a major step in developing an understanding of the new context of security discourse in India.   The book is a study of Peninsular India, which includes the five so called progressive states which depict the ‘modern and globalizing India’; Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. For comparison the rest of India is divided into High Income India (HII), which comprise five states in western India and West Bengal and Low Income India (LII), that constitute seven of the rest of the provinces.   Through sixty-six tables and nineteen brief chapters that highlight these findings, the study comes to the conclusion that Peninsular India is not shining after all. In many indices HII does much better and is therefore, shining more. The ...

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