Steps to Counter Asia’s Security Threats Discussed

“Asia’s position in the world has seen a tectonic shift to being a major player, influencing the trading activities of developed markets. This has lead to emerging concerns in Asia’s security issues. If Asia has to succeed in the future, it has to plan according to the contemporary scenario of its times, include strategies of the future and include adequate transparency in the available market information,”  said Shr. Amitabh Rajan, Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Government of Maharashtra, India, at the session on `Asia and Security Challenges’ held on Day 2 of the 3rd Edition of the Global Economic Summit 2014, jointly organized by MVIRDC World Trade Centre and the All India Association of Industries.

Elaborating on the structural constraints leading to security lapses Mr. Rajan said, that there are primarily five areas that are crucial and require immediate attention. Piracy both in shipping and armed robbery has been on the rise. The only way to combat it is to constitute a task force on security issues. Cyber crime is another rapidly growing menace as a result of internet use. The reasons cited are unstructured tool kits, lack of standardization, inadequate laws on internet security, jurisprudence and the absence of critical analyses on cyber issues and security. The major reason attributed to cyber crime is the problem of operational coordination.

Further, surveillance security issues can be suitably dealt, with a focus on prioritizing areas that require appropriate design, thinking and above all involving privatization. Asia considerably lacks in this area. The way forward is the key role of public-private partnership, wherein the government plays an important role in including the partnership from the private sector. Learning from past studies and lessons learnt from the western world, could also help generate new ideas in formulating Asia’s strategies on security issues. The energy requirements of a country, if not taken care off, could severely jeopardize the security concerns. Critical infrastructure of a country is another important area that calls for great concern and immediate planning. Aviation security issues are typically seen as being sabotage, however the report of the UN convention on security has taken care of many other areas and has signatories from most countries barring 7.  Although, countries have signed the Montreal Protocol, they have done so in a casual manner. This thinking needs to change.

Mr. P.M. Heblikar, Director, Maxgrid Securicor (India) Private limited, India said that no country was immune to threats and development had no boundaries. With unlimited technology, funds at one’s disposal and weaker states and governments have given rise to danger and anarchy. Government is the first line of defense, termed as first responders. He added that dealing with public safety is complex and is seen through the telescope of the defense force. Internal instability has also interfered in the national security.

Some appropriate measures include controlling leakages in information. Government can no longer be considered to be the single stakeholder of security concerns. The private sector has to be brought in on the same stage of the government. A task force for India on security has to be constituted. Information should be shared in a non-sensitive manner. A large number of trade bodies have been dealing with issues of security and need to join hands with the government.  Other measures include homeland security arrangements, synergies, creation of centers of educational excellence and investment in developing new strategies.

Professor M. D. Nalapat, UNESCO Peace Chair and Director, Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal University, India in his address said, the security was commonly understood to be someone else’s problem which falls on the shoulders of the government. Low levels of importance is accorded to the issue. Asia lacks consciousness of its continent size. The need of the hour is a collective feeling of a sense of security as followed by the members of NATO. In the same manner, there should an Asian NATO. Currently no pan Asian security body exists. Snooping is considered to be a counter by industry elements. Servers are not controlled within India which is not safe and open to snooping.

He suggested that World Trade Centre should take up the various elements of security in the Asian region. There should be a veto for small groups that are blocking security issues. Security needs to be ingrained in the minds of people and there should be zero tolerance for any kind of extremism.

Earlier in the opening remarks of Mr. V. Balachandran, Former Special Secretary, Government of India said that nontraditional security threats such as migration, floods and SARS disease loom large over us. Suggesting solutions to combat the problem he advocated the need to have a composite view, importance of public-private partnership to pursue, prevent and protect the public.