Geopolitics and Cyber security – the context of India – Part I

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Geopolitics and Cyber security – the context of India – Part I

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The Connection

One may ask as what can be the connection between geopolitics and cyber security. The purpose of this post is to discover that connection and then from these premises try to set out the direction of this global theme of Cyber security in case of India.

It is very unfortunate that India, in spite of many great achievements in many areas, did not produce first rate geopolitical thinkers. As long as India was part of the British Empire, the Empire bore the burden of geopolitical thought and initiatives, for better or for worse. Post-independence, we were too busy in economic front and we did produce very top rated economic thinkers. However, geography is destiny, economic destiny included and it is only now, when the whole geopolitical configuration of our region and the world as a whole is being re-shaped (described below) we are taking note of the implications.

In order to reach to the heart of the matter, i.e. to explore the connection between geopolitics and cyber security, some observations (answers will follow at the end of the post)

  • Why did Russia always try to have some buffer in the East? Why is Russia so interested in Crimea?
  • Why did Poland send troops in Middle East wars?
  • Why did Australia do the same?
  • Why did British fight Afghan War?
  • Who helped British to break Enigma code, the code used by Germany in 2nd world war and that ensured sure defeat for German Army as early as 1940?
  • Why did Ottoman Empire try to take Vienna again and again?
  • Why do all major empires of the West land up in Afghanistan?
  • Why every empire of India could hold Gujarat and Bengal at the same time?
  • Why did Gulf states develop very profitable airlines?
  • Why Burma and Sri Lanka are becoming close allies of China?
  • Why did Communist Germany build the most extensive state owned surveillance system of the world after Second World War?

Geo-politics is a game – a game played by powers – great and small, strengthened or hindered by geographical location of its strategic assets and strategic interests and cyber infrastructure is one such asset.

A fundamental and obvious tenet of geo-political thinking is to accept the rules of geography.

World Geopolitics and India: Last 300 years

In 1707, Aurangzeb, the last Mughal Emperor of India died. Eight years back, East India Company received its royal charter to trade. But something more profound was happening in the region which we call Turkey today.

Ottoman Empire – one of the greatest multi-cultural empires of the world and once master of the Mediterranean with capital in Istanbul was declining rapidly. It was losing territory and especially its control on the maritime trading fleet that was passing from West to East, especially to India.  This was the first geopolitical reconfiguration (GPC /INDIA 1.0) that had profound impact on Indian history.

The next major reconfiguration (GPC / INDIA 2.0) came in early 1900s when Middle East oil became a world strategic asset and all major powers were involved in the region. All the Middle East crises of today had their seeds planted at that time. The seed in its essence is geo-politics. British Empire was well secured in India, especially in South, West and East as there were no major challengers and British Navy was the best of that time. Rather, it was the British Navy that was the guardian of the Empire. In the Second World War, airplanes, especially aircraft carriers changed the balance and as Empire withdrew, so withdrew British Navy from the world stage as the “master of the waves”.  However, in the North West, Russia was the great challenger and Afghanistan was the buffer zone and any army that crossed Afghanistan would threaten Delhi and whole upper Gangatic Valley till Bengal. Why? Because – from Punjab to Bengal there is no natural barrier at all. Russians know this too well because from the East, there is no natural barrier till Moscow and this always invited warlords – Napoleon and Hitler included.  Thus Afghanistan, the buffer zone must be neutralized and that was the reason of two Afghan wars.

As a side note, in the start of this new millennium, another dimension of trade (export / import of services) started via telecom networks between East and West. This did not diminish or was not at the expense of the maritime trade of goods. But this created “invisible, mobile assets” just like a ship carrying valuables was.  Hence, the geopolitics of the asset remained same, but its mode changed. For example, what were pirates to maritime shipping, hackers are to cyber assets!

The current GPC/INDIA/version 3.0 is unfolding in front of our eyes and geographically much closer to us – the shadow of China is on the world stage. It remains to be seen how the events will unfold but such an event will have moderate to severe geopolitical tremors as we are very close to the epicentre.

India has considerable cyber assets and it has joined this new asset class big time. A significant portion of India’s GDP is on this “invisible and mobile” asset class that touches major strategic tangible assets. So, concern of cyber security for India this time is because of the present historical evolution and not on cyber security per se. Aboriginals living off from the civilization in jungles of Andaman have no risk nor any interest in cyber security. Hope I could make this clear.

In the next post, we shall deliberate on the direction this new asset class threat will take, its counter measures and how this itself will fuel geo-political co-operation, consensus and re-alignment.

Answers to Questions

  • Why did Russia always try to have some buffer in the East? Why is Russia so interested in Crimea?

# Russian plains are a great vulnerability for Russia. Through Crimea, Russia has access to ocean though an all weather port. All other ports of Russia remain frozen or locked and are not open all over the year.

  • Why did Poland send troops in Middle East wars?

# Poland is a victim of geography and all major powers – Russia, Germany, France, UK in various periods created a specific Polish psyche of insecurity and resilience. Poland is looking for a security guarantor and it is choosing US through NATO. Hence Polish forces are in the coalition although Poland has no direct interest in Middle East.

  • Why did Australia do the same?

# If the domaint naval power is not kept happy, Australia will perish without supplies.

  • Why did British fight Afghan War?

# To protect the greatest strategic asset – India so that a buffer may be created between Russia and India. Calcutta, the 2nd largest city of the Empire was 2500km away and between Punjab and Bengal, there is no natural barrier except some rivers which a determined Army can easily overcome with aerial cover.

  • Who helped British to break Enigma code, the code used by Germany in 2nd world war and that ensured sure defeat for German Army as early as 1940?

# National self-interest and geo-political wisdom. With France capitulated, there was no way to stop German advance in direct manner but to anticipate their moves in advance and through covert means.

  • Why did Ottoman Empire try to take Vienna again and again?

# In order to have their foothold in Europe, Ottaman Army needed a supply choke point. Their supply lines anything ahead of Vienna would have made the army vulnerable (what happened to Hitler’s General Paulus’ sixth army in Russia in 2nd world war) and it may wither away at any counter-attack. It is interesting to note that Ottamans never crossed the Gates of Vienna.

  • Why do all major empires of the West land up in Afghanistan?

# The prize of India and having a strategic location in the geo-political pinnacle.

  • Why every empire of India could hold Gujarat and Bengal at the same time?

#  All major empires of India depended on Bengal for food grain and craft and Gujrat for West bound trade. It was always easier for a fast and disciplined army to cover the vast plains and advance very quickly.

 Why did Gulf states develop very profitable airlines?

# Cheap oil and very strategic location while we compare best optimized flying time and performance of modern aircrafts.

  • Why Burma and Sri Lanka are becoming close allies of China?

# China has no direct access to Indian Ocean.  Burma is one choke point from South China Sea to Bay of Bengal and Sri Lanka is the next choke point in the Indian ocean. In the West, the post of Ghadar in Pakistan is a direct drop and passes through Kashmir.

  • Why did Communist Germany build the most extensive state owned surveillance system of the world after Second World War?

 # There was no physical barrier between West and East Germany and it was easy for citizens to just walk from one side to the other. Hence came Berlin Wall.  Moreover, an open East Germany and subsequent buffer states of East Europe constitute a critical buffer zone for Russia. East Germany is the first point of defense in case of a military move towards East.

 


Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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