B3 While editing the compendium of essays to focus  towards articulating a security strategy for India,  Gurmeet Kanwalhas not really succeeded in  creating cohesive narrative. The New Arthshashtra  A Security Strategy for India, may have essays from  some of the best known names in the field of  strategy but merely bringing in the names does not  really create a cause
 for dialogue, create a viewpoint which emerges from  interaction or evolves an opinion based on consensus. When Kanwal’s compendium, published by Harper Collins, fails to integrate the view points of the contributing essayists, how can it blame the policy makers of having not been able to formulate a
security strategy for the country despite “having fought five wars and being hemmed by nuclear-armed” states.
The official summary of the book says, “India surprisingly does not have a formally declared national security strategy. All the major powers of the world publish documents that spell out their national interests, identify their threats - political, economic, diplomatic or with regard to security - and draw up policies
 to deal with them. The absence of a similar doctrine makes India’s defence policy look ad hoc and creates the impression that the country is unprepared to realize its global ambitions.”
The editor of the compendium claims that “The New Arthashastra” attempts to recommend a national security strategy for India. He claims that the book has done the difficult groundwork for India’s political leaders and policymakers by bringing the best names - from within the community as well as from the armed forces and academia - to the ideating table. Ideating is fine but debating the issues would have been better appreciated.                                                   Though to be fair this collection has 20 high-quality essays, which cover a wide range of topics from nuclear deterrence to defence spending, the domestic production of weapons, and bracing for the wars of the future that would be fought in space and cyberspace. As Kanwal says these essays are rooted in the expertise of analysts with inside-out knowledge of their domains.                                                                

Most important, it presents a roadmap to address India’s chief concerns: Chinese assertiveness and Pakistan’s unrelenting proxy war. The editor also is honest enough to explain, albeit inadvertently, about the disjointed narrative of the text at hand. He mentions about his enduring interest in security strategy and the desire to write a book on it, and what stopped him from doing it. “Given the complexities of the subject, it was clear to me that a book would take many years if I were to write it myself. Also I lack specialized knowledge of issues like maritime, cyber and space security, among others, I would be groping in the dark. A better alternative would be to invite the finest domain experts in the country to write on their areas of specialization and put it all together in one volume,” he writes in the editor’s notes at the beginning of the volume. Therein lies the major difference between Chanakya’s “Arthshashtra” and Gurmeet Kanwal’s “The New Artrhshashtra”. The fourth century BC thinker was master of his own quill and his scripture flowed from his thought process. He did not suffer from the complex of not having “specialized knowledge” and is not known to have helmed any writing project of people more knowledgeable than him.
Kanwal has also not tried to explain why his compendium has been inspired by Mauryan period administrator-philosopher’s treatise, which has a much wider scope of discussion than just dealing with security strategy. Books 7 and 10 of the ancient tome deal with various scenarios and reasons for war. Chanakya catalogues war into three broad types - open war, covert war and silent war. Not very different from something which India has faced for the past seventy years. It defines each type of war, how to engage in these wars and how to detect that one is a target of covert war.
The conclusion of these chapters is the necessity for the ruler to know the progress he could expect when considering the choice between waging a war and pursuing peace policy. This probably could be the raison d’-etre for having a “Security Strategy” for the nation. And on making a choice between war and peace, the ancient text lays out thumb rule, “When the degree of progress is the same in pursuing peace and waging war, peace is to be preferred. For, in war, there are disadvantages such as losses, expenses and absence from home.”

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