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Non-traditional Security: Looking East

I.P. Khosla

Edited by V.R. Raghavan
East West Books, Chennai, 2007, pp. x 319, Rs. 600.00

VOLUME XXXI NUMBER 12 December 2007

Two decades ago governments looked askance, with suspicion or even with downright hostility at any attempt to introduce non-traditional security concepts into the national agenda; this was especially so in regard to the efforts of academics, think-tanks and NGO’s, which had begun around that time.   Today these efforts have been so successful that government spokesmen have internalized the concepts: when they talk about security they take pride in including things like food security, water security, as also security issues arising out of the economy, the environment, ethnicity. In part this is due to the support and generous funding given by the United Nations agencies, specially the UNDP, individual governments like those of Canada, Japan and Norway, and the dozens of international NGO’s, academic institutions like Harvard University and even individuals, to make sure that the concept of security was made wider and deeper; that it should include not just the security of the state, but of races, religions, other sub-groups and even individuals, in other words, human security.   This is also due in part to the willingness of states and governments to respond positively to the concerns that were so expressed. They too felt that the traditional ideas of security, with their focus on force, deterrence and the balance of power, ill served the requirements of an age in which multiple threats, crop failures, floods and natural disasters, pandemics, just to name a few, had to be tackled, so to speak, on a war footing. Governments also no doubt believed, and this certainly appears to be the case if we look at some of the legislation that has crept into the jurisprudence of several states, that such collective concerns can prove useful for acquiring additional powers, always, as far as governments are concerned, an opportunity which should not be passed by, whether the additional powers are actually used to address the concerns in question or for something different which was not even envisaged at the time.   So now non-traditional security threats have become an important component of the work of governments, professionals, NGO’s, think tanks, the academic community and the media. Representatives of these groups were brought together in Chennai for a seminar on the subject of the present volume organized by the Centre for Security Analysis and the Hans Seidel Foundation, and it seems that this volume comprises the contributions made at that seminar, though this ...

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