The peacetime activities of an armed force have a bearing on its wartime capabilities and its relations with the civil society.

Although it has been the stated government policy for at least a decade to use the defence forces as sparingly as possible the Indian army has been continually engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast.

“Excessive and continuous involvement of the Army for internal security is not good, neither for the Army nor for the nation,” former army chief Ved Prakash Malik said four years ago.

“Most of the states have neglected their armed police,” he said.

When the al Qaeda recently threatened India with more Mumbai-like attacks, the first response came from Defence Minister A.K. Antony.

“Our army is ready to face any threat from anywhere,” he said.

Internal security is the responsibility of the Home ministry and the police force.