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A New Security Awareness

V.R. Raghavan

By Colonel (Retd) P.K. Gautam
Knowledge World, New Delhi, 2003, pp. 286, Rs. 495.00

Edited by Purusottam Bhattacharya and Sugata Hazra
Lancers Books, New Delhi, 2003, pp. 298, Rs. 580.00


The issue of environmental security is much in discussion these days. The relationship between national security issues and environmental issues may not seem readily apparent, and indeed security experts have often viewed national security as a concept separate from other disciplines such as economics, ecology or development. However, in the new era of global security, environmental and national security issues are inextricably linked and environmental security is seen as an important aspect of the comprehensive security discourse.       Evidence is emerging that many conflicts around the world are driven by natural resource scarcity or inequitable access and benefit-sharing. Studies show that community vulnerability to disaster may be increased by the modification and degradation of natural buffer systems—river straightening, draining of wetlands and destruction of mangroves. These conflicts foreshadow a surge of similar violence in coming decades as environmental scarcities worsen in many developing countries. There is a need to explore the linkages among environment, population, security and governance.       The relation between the environment and human security is complex. A great deal of human security is tied to people’s access to natural resources and vulnerabilities to environmental change. And, a great deal of environmental change is directly and indirectly affected by human activities and conflicts.       Scarcity interacts with such factors as the character of the economic system, levels of education, ethnic cleavages, class divisions, technological and infrastructural capacity, and the legitimacy of the political regime. These factors, varying according to context, determine if environmental scarcity will produce harmful intermediate social effects, such as poverty and migration. Contextual factors also influence the ultimate potential for instability or violence in a society.      Colonel P.K. Gautam looks at the scarcity and degradation of natural resources as a cause of conflict. He has talked about the study of water and its relation to environmental security with respect to South Asia, population growth, migration and urbanization, the ecological security of the Himalayas, environmental issues of nuclear weapons in the South Asian context, understanding insurgencies from the environmental prism and the role of the military in this book. The book is divided into seven chapters, each dealing with a specific aspect of environmental security. The subject of environmental security forces us to re-examine the idea of security. Security includes the repair and regeneration of the natural capital and ecology to provide our projected population with reasonable standards of living. It is the very health of ...

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