Homeland Security

India Under a Hybrid Attack?!
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
Issue Net Edition | Date : 11 Feb , 2020

 “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.” —Sun Tzu

In the aftermath of the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971, Zulfikar Bhutto is quoted to have said “we will bleed India by a thousand cuts”. Most Indians generally, shrug it off with a contemptuous smirk. But that only makes Pakistan more determined to achieve its diabolical ambitions. It inflicts these in any sphere where it can hurt India – politics, economy, military, science, technology, information, cyber or society.

Historically, unconventional means adopted as part of statecraft have been subversions by using irregular armed groups, deceit and intrigues in aid of the art of regular warfare. Pakistan has done so since its conception.

Historically, unconventional means adopted as part of statecraft have been subversions by using irregular armed groups, deceit and intrigues in aid of the art of regular warfare. Pakistan has done so since its conception. After the 1971 debacle and the 1999 Kargil episode, Pakistan has avoided taking recourse to a conventional confrontation against India. Proxy war was found to be a more viable option.

Post 1989, after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, Pakistan was landed with a large contingent of “jihadis” who were going be out of work and could wreck havoc in that country. These radical elements had to be employed gainfully under any circumstances. It was then that this surplus radicalised armed potential was, instead, orchestrated to play havoc with India’s security, economy, polity and society in the many years that followed. With time, Pakistan’s proxy war has acquired more sophisticated forms which include a variety of other destabilising tools to keep India on the boil through terrorist attacks, funding of other terror groups, fomenting social and political unrest, and funding Non Government Organisations engaged in anti-national activities.

“Hybrid Warfare”, is a relatively new term, which does not have a universally accepted definition in the first place; it is mostly being used as a catchall phrase to describe any sort of clandestine non-military destabilization efforts. Whether it is economic subversion or propaganda dissemination, all of these techniques have already been around for ages, and there is nothing novel in them now-a-days, except maybe in terms of how these techniques have adapted to incorporate modern-day technologies. The term itself is, therefore, highly politicized and with underlying subliminal inferences, aimed at influencing the perceptions of the targeted groups, thereby, making the word “Hybrid Warfare” a form of “Hybrid War” itself. Whatever be the definition, “Hybrid Wars” are externally provoked and tend to exploit ethnic, religious socio-economic and perceptive difference in order to disrupt and dismantle a regime.

“Hybrid Wars” are externally provoked and tend to exploit ethnic, religious socio-economic and perceptive difference in order to disrupt and dismantle a regime.

The process is apparently simple, all that it takes is a small and dedicated group of provocateurs to spark clashes with the authorities, which in turn are misleadingly reported on by hostile anti-government outlets, which includes the print and visual media and fake videos on social media, in order to craft the perception that the police are randomly attacking “peaceful protesters” without provocation. The whole point is to engineer a completely artificial narrative of “democratic peaceful protesters” resisting a “radical majoritarian dictatorship”. Such a theme serves the dual purposes of encouraging more “liberal” citizens to join in the growing riot and to generate support from abroad. The “support” does not just mean favourable media coverage, including in reputed journals, though, that is a part of it, but also the diplomatic isolation from the so-called “international community” which in this case mostly means the West.

This 5th generation or hybrid war is being fought in grey zones/frontiers that are not physically defined as these zones are in the minds of the people and communities. This war is so peculiar that the military cannot fight it with their machinery. The 5th generation war can be fought by the nation, particularly foreign policy experts, media, intellectuals, think tanks and people in general. This is only possible if they are able to understand the nature of the 5th generation hybrid war in grey zones – the minds and lives of the people beyond physical borders.

To counter this clandestine assault on the collective minds of the people, India needs an aggressive intelligence posture with an expertise and specialists from diverse fields like technology, economy, finance, culture, arts and politics. It must be remembered that hybrid warfare is not just about the military. The military is one constituent of it but in essence, it goes way beyond the military. Hybrid warfare has a strong espionage element; therefore, it needs a strong network of ‘humint’ resources to round the clock electronic intelligence measures spanning across the diverse sectors that needs to be built up. India needs to revamp its intelligence set-up, doctrine and philosophy behind it. In fact, what India needs is the complete Revolution in Intelligence Affairs (RIA) to tackle this new reality of “hybrid warfare”. Besides that there is a need of for a strategy to incorporate all elements of national power i.e. intellectual, economic, intelligence, cyber capabilities, scientific, business, trade and diplomatic; in new security framework through which hybrid warfare will be channelled.

To counter this clandestine assault on the collective minds of the people, India needs an aggressive intelligence posture with an expertise and specialists from diverse fields like technology, economy, finance, culture, arts and politics.

To counter this clandestine assault on the collective minds of the people, India needs an aggressive intelligence posture with an expertise and specialists from diverse fields like technology, economy, finance, culture, arts and politics.

The “danda” wielding pot-bellied, pan-chewing man in “khaki” passing off as Policeman will not do. The political class has preferred this semi-educated police force for their parochial agendas and thus resisted Police Reforms for many decades. Compartmentalisation of intelligence agencies and division of labour between States and the Centre in intelligence domains makes the comprehensive process of intelligence gathering and processing a complete dysfunctional ineffective hollow façade.

When it comes to the defensive and offensive power of the country against national and international threats, Intelligence agencies hold down the fort. While all intelligence agencies are best in their own regard there are some which are much superior in the execution of their missions. In a recent report being circulated on social media there has been a move to identify the top ten Intelligence agencies of the world. The report placed the Ministry of State Security of China at the tenth spot while Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan has been nominated at the top of the pack! India’s own Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) is listed fourth. It is without doubt that India is up against formidable opposition in this field. Is it just an Indian paranoia of that proverbial “foreign hand” or a distinct possibility of interference in the internal affairs of India by these two countries either individually or in collusion? To dismiss it with disdain, would imply that we accept “living in fool’s paradise”. The sooner India takes concrete measures to protect itself from externally controlled manipulations the better.

Post the passage of the Citizens Amendment Act, passed by the Parliament, a narrative has been generated that has been manipulated to suit the machinations of those groups which want to stall the governments’ agenda. There has been a systematic coordinated theme, misinterpreting the facts, evident in the protests. It started with opposition representatives appearing on the visual media condemning the Act and giving it a communal tinge. This was followed by agitations and protests in all metros and a number of state capitals and some major cities. Sustaining such protests cannot be possible without massive financial support. It is well known that the average Indian “protester” is a semi-literate or illiterate daily wager. He/she can only spare their time if adequately compensated for every day of work missed. The going rate for these hired “protesters” is a minimum of Rupees 300 for a day per person along with being given a meal for the day. Transporting them from places nearest their homes to the protest venue and back is another responsibility of the organisers. This is done by mustering private vehicles from transporters who may or may not be paid for the same.

Thus, the expenses for a days protest can be pretty substantial. Since there was no “crowd funding” undertaken prior to the series of protests, it can be safely concluded that the funding is either from the political parties leading the agitation, extortion from businesses and corporate sector or some other nefarious sources. Since the political parties are not going to deplete their hard got Party Funds, it is likely that the funds are being received through suspicious conduits. It would be too naïve to believe otherwise.

China is a big supporter of Pakistan. This intimacy began way back in early 1962 when Pakistan proposed to China to settle its boundaries of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) with the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

Pakistan sees its relationship with India through a religious prism. A nation carved out to pursue a separate specific religious identity cannot be expected to develop substantive relations with its old nemesis. The stage is being set for a clash of religious ideologies. Pakistan is a past master in deep intrigues. Jinnah and the Muslim League leadership, while pressing for Pakistan, perceived future India as a potential enemy, and were willing to compromise their sovereignty in exchange for British protection and they got it too. During the negotiations that preceded the country’s partition, a tilt of the British government in favour of the position adopted by the Muslim League was fairly evident.

Right from the days after India gained Independence, Mountbatten had instilled the fear of “international disapproval” in India’s leadership psyche. Thus the leaders were always looking over their shoulders to appease these “international” circus ringmasters and have been doing so to this day. Today India is being accused of “rising nationalism” by some western billionaires; it was to please such opinionated buffoons that compelled Nehru to go the UN for implementing a ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir in 1948. But due to British and American intrigue India ended up with the UNSC declaring Jammu and Kashmir a disputed territory! The same “international” lobby is actively conniving to keep Pakistan out of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) blacklist. The Western media, particularly, “BBC” and newspapers like the “New York Times” and magazines like “The Economist” are so vociferously belligerent to the recent goings on in India, that one is forced to question their motives and agendas. What is their interest to continuously target India? These media are doing what they are being paid to do. They do so with no moral guilt, because – “Money Makes the World Go Round”, as was succinctly summed up by the lyrics of this one time favourite Musical.

China is a big supporter of Pakistan. This intimacy began way back in early 1962 when Pakistan proposed to China to settle its boundaries of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) with the Chinese province of Xinjiang. China did not show any interest then. However, after the India-China war of October-November 1962, it did revive the Pakistani link and by March 1963, Pakistan had handed over 5180 square kilometres of the Indian territory of Shakshgam Valley in POK to China under a Treaty. It was a master stroke of a well conceived long term strategy of Pakistan to have China inextricably linked to J&K and its own ongoing dispute with India.

This has, evidently, played out recently in Pakistan’s favour when China took up the abrogation of Article 370 from the Indian Constitution, a completely internal matter of India, to UNSC. From the days of the inception of the Muslim League whose Party leaders then and Pakistani leaders now have outsmarted Indian political leadership who are more conscious of their individual international image than protecting the country from external pressures and indirect assault and in not exhibiting any strong sense of nationalistic fervour.

India is, without doubt, under a hybrid attack. It does not have the requisite wherewithal to counter it effectively. The proverbial “foreign hand” is real. It is not an illusion.

Lure of lucre is hard to resist. Indians seem to have succumbed to the lure more easily than some others. The hybrid warriors are exploiting this weakness. The track two groups, think tanks, pseudo intellectuals and academics have been psychologically manipulated to sing to their tunes. These are the persons whose opinions and views are carried in the print media and various prominent domestic and foreign journals. Of late most English language dailies in India have stopped carrying a section of “Letters to the Editor”. That, ipso facto, means that public opinion is inconsequential to these dailies?! In effect it means that everyone is talking and no one cares to listen. Implying that everyone’s individual opinion and view is final! This, in turn, implies that debates are passé. And that is what has happened to an Act passed by a majority in Parliament after a prolonged debate. An Act passed by Parliament is contested on the streets. It, thus, questions the basic fundamentals of democracy.

India is, without doubt, under a hybrid attack. It does not have the requisite wherewithal to counter it effectively. The proverbial “foreign hand” is real. It is not an illusion. The sooner Indians acknowledge it the better for the nation. Public awareness of this new form of nuanced war is essential so as to protect them from being misled and manipulated against the nation itself.

Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen (Dr) JS Bajwa

is Editor Indian Defence Review and former Chief of Staff, Eastern Command and Director General Infantry.  He has authored two books Modernisation of the People's Liberation Army and  Modernisation of the Chinese PLA

More by the same author

Post your Comment

2000characters left

5 thoughts on “India Under a Hybrid Attack?!

  1. Sir,
    You think Amit Shah only lost Delhi to JNU AMU JMI thuggees. Modi & Amit Shah also ceded N, E, W of Cochin to Dubai. This is apart from how muslims have bought off all the strategic lands around waterways and National Highways in Kerala to block the movement of Indian troops using Pakistani and Chinese counterfeit notes. Source: T G Mohandas and ex-DGP TN Senkumar’s startling admissions in PGurus.
    https://youtu.be/-2iMSDLBqNE
    https://youtu.be/wZUK7JQITgY

  2. A very nuanced article on comprehensive security against hybrid warfare. It is true that when the adversary is weak and rogue, he/she will not engage in conventional warfare and resort to clandestine operations like guerrilla warfare or terrorism. When this is also not adequate, then they will resort to injecting fake currency, cyber crimes, dividing the society into religious, ethnic and linguistic lines. There is a genuine need for a new security paradigm and a new security architecture to address the new emerging security challenges.

  3. An excellent article which amplifies the role of mis information as tool in the hand of the forces inimical to a nation. Though it can be argued that the State must not be ambiguous in its policies or be on witch hunt but the ” forces inimical ” can exploit nearly any issue raised by the State , to create chaos through use of social, print and electronic media.
    The State must reach out aggressively to those who are being misled in a realistic time frame , to assuage the feelings of ‘perceived victimisation” . Till it doesn’t react, it must prevent its organs to add fuel to fire by giving misleading and irresponsible statements. State is duty bound to do so.

    In today’s world , the State’s capability to reach out , has been greatly enhanced by the various channels of communication it has . By delaying and in the interim, using the law enforcers to brutalise the protesters, spells a mischievous intent on the part of the State.
    In such conditions, forces inimical to India will obviously capitalise and meddle through various means of subterfuge available .
    In a developing nation like India where 51 crores out of the 140 crores ( approximation) are categorised as poor , the problem is further aggravated by the rising unemployment . These are easy targets for mis information and for exploitation , for anti nation activities.
    Actions of State which are high handed in controlling the situation must be taken suo moto cognisance by the Independent Judiciary, especially when Centres of Excellence in Learning, created specially for the poor , are targeted by unlawful elements, in the presence of State law enforcement agencies .Unless the Judiciary plays a role of an important part of the check and balances , the State, however well meaning it may presents itself , may de fault.
    The onus to fight this hybrid war lays primarily at the State’s door by prompt clarifications and publicity and by media by playing its role impartially.

More Comments Loader Loading Comments