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Thursday, 17 April 2014

From Today's Papers - 17 Apr 2014

 Rising defence spending
India, in top 10 big spenders, needs indigenisation

The latest report on world military expenditure for 2013, prepared by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), serves as a grim reminder of the huge quantum of money that continues to be spent on defence the world over and also how many countries remain either smitten by power, control and force projection or ridden with suspicion, fear, tensions and small wars and insurgencies. In 2013 alone, most countries put together spent as much as $1.75 trillion or $ 1,747 billion to keep their respective countries secure. The overall figure would in fact be higher considering that data from several countries was not available while some other countries such as China and other authoritarian regimes are quite likely to have suppressed the actual amount spent on defence.

India, with its major modernisation programme underway, remains among the top 10 spenders although it fell to the ninth position from eighth in 2012 as the world’s highest defence spender. Of particular concern to India and the South and South-East Asian region is the fact that China has increased its defence spending by 7.4 per cent to touch $ 180 billion making it the world’s second highest defence spender after the United States of America. Russia figures at the third place. A surprise high spender is Saudi Arabia, which has leapfrogged over the UK, Japan and France to have doubled its defence spending since 2004 and become the world’s fourth largest spender to touch $67 billion.

Saudi Arabia’s 14 per cent increase in defence spending is indicative of the instability that currently exists in the oil rich Gulf and Middle East region where tensions exist between Saudi Arabia and Iran, between Saudi Arabia and Qatar and also Riyadh’s need to maintain strong and loyal security forces to insure against potential ‘Arab Spring’ type protests. Even the smaller emirate of Bahrain has increased its defence spending by 26 per cent possibly to quell any potential for inner opposition. The fact, however, remains that despite India’s high defence spending, the armed forces are still saddled with a considerable amount of antiquated equipment. India remains dependent on imports from foreign nations for its armed forces, which hardly augurs well for a country that aims to be a military power to reckon with. New Delhi needs to work seriously on attaining a higher degree of indigenisation.
 IAF copter ferries Ladakh kids, teachers to school

In what is a major help for schoolchildren of the remote Zanskar-Padam region of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Air Force has adopted a few villages and is providing helicopter services for the children and teachers, saving them the treacherous ‘chaddar trek’ over the Zanskar river that freezes in winter.

The 114 Helicopter Unit at Leh, working jointly with Rigzin Spalbar, Chief Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, has ensured that the students and teachers are airlifted -- twice a year -- in an IAF helicopter to reach their schools at Leh and back home to the Zanskar-Padam region.

Earlier, the ‘chaddar’ trek over the frozen Zanskar river was the only and a dangerous way for children and teachers of the area to reach Leh. The valley remains cut off from the main road access for more than eight months in a year.

Top-level changes soon in Northern Command

New commanders will soon assume charge of all the three corps in Northern Command, the Army’s most-active operational command.

Lt Gen K Himalaya Singh will be taking over as General Officer Commanding (GOC), 16 Corps, at Nargota this week. Commissioned into 2 Rajput, he had commanded 27 Rajput during the 1999 Kargil war for which he was decorated with the Yudh Seva Medal.

He also commanded 25 Infantry Division at Rajouri before moving as Chief of Staff (COS) of the Bhopal-based 21 Corps, a strike formation.

The GOC of 21 Corps and a cavalry officer, Lt Gen Amit Sharma, moved as COS, South Western Command, Jaipur, a few days ago. Sources said that Major General BS Negi, who commanded the Uniform force in Jammu and Kashmir and is presently GOC, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh Area, is tipped to take over as GOC, 14 Corps, at Leh.

Major General Subroto Saha, who commanded the 22 Infantry Division and is serving as Additional Director General Military Operations at the Army Headquarters is tipped to take over as GOC, 15 Corps, in Srinagar. Both officers are from the Assam Regiment and have been approved for the rank of Lieutenant General.

The incumbent GOC, 15 Corps, Lt General Gurmeet Singh is expected to move as Director General Military Intelligence at the Army Headquarters.

Army’s youngest command turns nine

South Western Command, the seventh and the youngest command of the Indian Army, turned nine on April 15. Also known as the Sapta Shakti Command, the Jaipur-based formation has jurisdiction over parts of Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana, which have a high density of serving and retired armed forces personnel.

Created to rationalise troop deployment and plug operational gaps along the western frontier, South Western Command has the unique distinction of being the test bed for the implementation of the Army’s TacC31 (Tactical Command, control, communication and Intelligence) system.

Over the past few years, the command has developed world-class training infrastructure at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges which are utilised in joint exercises with friendly foreign countries like Russia, USA, UK, France, Thailand and Kazakhstan in addition to routine training of the Indian Army.

International recognition for DRDO lab

The Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR), Delhi, has been recognised as an affiliate member of the International Military Testing Association (IMTA) for a duration of three years.

Affiliate membership bestows international recognition and acclamation to DIPR and military testing in India. IMTA is an international organisation that promotes various kinds of military testing and has more than 30 countries as affiliate members.

DIPR, a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory, provides psychological support to the armed forces in selection, training, effective man-machine interface and motivation to enhance mental health and operational efficiency of the armed forces. The laboratory has been a member of IMTA since 2010 and will be hosting the annual convention of IMTA in 2016.
Army, People's Liberation Army celebrate Bihu, Baisakhi
GUWAHATI: The Indian Army and People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China celebrated the harvest festivals of Bihu and Baisakhi at the border post in Arunachal Pradesh's Bum La on Monday.

An Army official said the troops of the two countries celebrating the harvest festivals at the border posts holds immense significance at a time when India and China were holding sixth round of strategic dialogue in Beijing on the same day.

The Indian troops deployed at Bum La invited PLA soldiers for friendly volleyball matches, tug of war and archery. The first-of-its-kind celebration came to an end with the troops paying respect to their national flags as the national anthems played on.

"There was mild snowfall and the wind was chilly. The spirit of the soldiers was high. Along with military band performances, there were cultural shows that included Bihu and Bhangra dances," the official said.

An Army statement said the PLA guests appreciated the Indian initiative which will go a long way in creating a feeling of bonhomie, peace and tranquility.
Bonhomie through volleyball and greetings at Nathu La
 KOLKATA: Coinciding with the Indian harvest festival, a special Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) was held with a delegation of People's Liberation Army (PLA) from China at Nathu La in Sikkim on Monday. The meeting was held in high spirits with the Chinese delegation extending warm wishes to the Indians for the year to come.

"The delegations, comprising eight officers each from both sides, were led by Brigadier equivalent officers. The meeting was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere and the PLA delegation members wished their Indian counterparts on the occasion," an Indian official said.

A friendly volleyball match between the two teams comprising a mix of PLA and Indian troops was also played out. The keenly played match was enjoyed by the delegation members and the PLA seemed keen for more such sporting activities in the near future with the Indian Army, the official added.
SC to hear petition on alleged role of Indian Army in Sri Lankan civil war
 The Supreme Court will hear on Friday a writ petition for a probe by a Special Investigation Team into the alleged role of the Indian Army in the war in Sri Lanka.

The petitioner, Ram Sankar, an advocate and human rights activist, said a probe was necessary in view of the publication of U.N. Secretary General’s expert panel report implicating Indian armed forces for their involvement with the Sri Lankan army in alleged war crimes against Tamil civilians, including persons of Indian origin.

He also cited the report of the Permanent People’s Tribunal indicting the Indian government for the involvement of its Army in the war.

The petitioner alleged that the Indian government deployed its Army in Sri Lanka without the authority and approval of the President of India and without the sanction of Parliament. He said there was no provision in the Constitution for permitting the use of the Indian Army for any purpose in a foreign soil other than for the defence of India.

Contending that the aid and abetment of the Indian Army with the Sri Lankan armed forces was unlawful, the petitioner sought a direction for constituting a SIT to probe into the role of Indian Army in the ethnic killings.
Rajput regiment turns 72
BANGALORE: April 15, 1942, Fatehgarh, the Rajput regiment was raised by field marshal Cariappa. Today, the regiment turns 72.

And ministry of defence's group captain Tarun Kumar Singha, chief public relations officer, Kolkata, features the regiment from Kolkata. Times of India got access to his article authored from Kolkata, and it reads: "Among all battalions of the Rajput Regiment, 17 Rajput has a unique place in present day history of the Indian Army. It was raised during the period of Quit India Movement in 1942. It was also among 10 other Rajput Battalions that were raised following outbreak of World War-II from 1940 to 1943."

In so far as its historical significance is concerned, 17/7 Rajput as it was then known, was the only 'War Raising' battalion by any Indian Officer who was none other than Lt Col KM Cariappa, OBE, popularly called 'Kipper' who went on to become the first Indian commander-in-chief and later the chief of army staff. He was also conferred the highest rank of field marshal on April 28, 1986.

Popular in the army as the barhe chalo battalion, a motto coined by the first commanding officer to spur his troops, it was meant to convey 'get cracking on'. The battalion continues to crack on regardless in pursuit of glory as one of Indian Army's proudest and finest fighting outfits in recent times.

17/7 Rajput was raised at Fatehgarh on April 15, 1942 as the Machine Gun Battalion of the erstwhile 7th Rajput Regiment. A distinctive colour of maroon and blue was adopted for the new outfit. On August 1, 1942, the battalion was converted into a Regiment of Indian Armoured Corps (IAC) and designated 52nd Rajput Regiment IAC (Bawanja Risala) and moved to Lahore.

On September 15, 1942, the battalion was converted into a 'Lorried Battalion' and moved to Secunderabad to form part of 268th Lorried Brigade. On March 16, 1943, Kipper was transferred and succeeded by Lt Col G.B. Macnamara. In May 1944, 17/7 Rajput moved to Kohima and later deployed at Imphal.

Informed readers may know that Rajput Regiment is one among the senior most regiments of our country. It must therefore, logically, rank higher in the hierarchy of the nomenclatures. Then why the seventh standing?

Evidently, Maj Gen Parr, who had commanded the 7th Rajput in Mesopotamia during World War-I desired that the Regiment to which his battalion belonged be named 7th Rajput Regiment. The suffix '7' was adopted and remained so for all battalions of the Rajput Regiment between 1920 till Independence, where after it was dropped altogether.

In the redesignations that followed, Barhe Chalo became 17th Battalion of the Rajput Regiment on May 1, 1948. Later when its founding father, Lt Gen KM Cariappa became Army Chief on January 15, 1950 (commemorated as Army Day), an honour was bestowed on the battalion. The distinct maroon and royal blue hackle of the unit was now adopted by all Rajput Regiment battalions. In 1965, Barhe Chalo participated in Op Riddle as part of 7th Infantry Division, where it successfully executed its task of capturing Bedian bridge. The unit also participated in Op Cactus Lily in 1971 as part of 86 Infantry Brigade in Dera Baba Nanak sector, where it captured Khokherke and Sadhuwan posts of enemy and provided a firm base for Op Akal. The unit was also successful in capturing a crucial enemy post for which Capt Nawal Singh Rajawat and Late Sep Satyawan Singh were awarded VrC.

In 1982, the battalion underwent a change in class composition and reorganised to include Rajputs, Gujjars, Brahmins, Bengalis, Jats, Ahirs and Muslims in equal percentage composition. If ever anyone needs to see the secular credentials of an Indian Army's fighting unit, one need not go beyond Barhe Chalo whose war cry - Bol Bajrang Bali ki Jay! Hanuman ki Hunkare! - yelled by one and all can easily curl any enemy's guts.

The battalion was also the first unit of Rajput Regiment to be inducted in Siachen Glacier in 1991. The unit had a successful tenure without having a single fatal casualty, which indeed is a unique achievement.

Among the wars and major operations that Barhe Chalo participated include World War-II, between May to August 1944, Indo-Pak War of 1965 between September 1965 to February 1966 and Indo-Pak War 1971, from October to December 1971. Among the various military operations include Operatons Orchid, Rhino, Vijay, Rakshak and Parakram.

Glory to the Barhe Chalo has been brought through its gallant officers and soldiers through 2 Military Cross, an OBE and PVSM each, 7 Kirti Chakras, an AVSM, 4 Shaurya Chakras, 3 Vir Chakras, 12 Sena Medals, 3 VSM, 6 Mention-in-Despatches, 38 COAS, 7 VCOAS and 33 GOC-in-C Commendation Cards including several other gallantry certificates.

The battalion is presently serving at an undisclosed high altitude location standing vigil under Eastern Command. The Barhe Chalo battalion is presently being commanded by Colonel Balbir Singh Siwach, a second-generation army officer, commissioned in December 1990.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

From Today's Papers - 16 Apr 2014

 Gen JJ Singh rubbishes Baru’s claim on Siachen
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Former Indian Army Chief General Joginder Jaswant Singh (retd) today rubbished the claims of Sanjaya Baru on pulling back Indian troops from Siachen Glacier.
Baru, who was Media Adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh between 2004 and 2008, in his book “The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh” released recently criticised the former Army Chief for his stand on Siachen.

The retired General today said “what Baru has written is rubbish, it is more out of vested interest to make his book sensational. He had no idea what transpired at meetings among the PM, defence minister, national security adviser and myself”. Baru was never part of these meetings which were strictly on a “need to know basis”.

“For Baru to cast aspersions on military leadership is unacceptable with his (level of) knowledge of the Siachen issue. He is not aware how military advice is sought and analysed and this definitely was not part of his duties,” the former Army Chief said.

“I had advised the PM on what is a well-elucidated stand of the Indian Army: There is no question of withdrawal of troops till Pakistan accepts and authenticates the existing Indian troop position and the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) on maps and also on ground”, General JJ Singh said and added this was the stated policy of the Army. This was exactly the advice given by my predecessors and also my successors. General Singh was Chief between February 2005 and September 2007. “Only if Pakistan agreed to this would, the next phase kick in”, he added.
 Vice-Admiral Dhowan tipped to be Naval Chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Almost 50-days after Indian Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi quit, the government has moved the file to appoint his successor. Vice-Admiral RK Dhowan may be the next Navy Chief as the Ministry of Defence has reportedly recommended his name to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Admiral DK Joshi quit on February 26 following an accident on board INS Sindhuratna off the cost of Mumbai. Two Navy men were killed in the incident.

Vice-Admiral Dhowan, who was made the acting Navy Chief after Joshi's exit, is in the race for the top post along with Western Navy Commander Shekhar Sinha and Eastern Commander Anil Chopra.

Vice-Admiral Sinha is the senior-most among the three, but he may be left out because majority of the 14 mishaps, including two major submarine accidents, took place under his command during the past 10 months.

Top sources confirmed the file was awaiting clearance from the Prime Minister-headed appointments committee of cabinet (ACC). "The name of acting Navy Chief, Vice-Admiral Robin Dhowan, has been suggested," they say. The Prime Minister has to take the final decision.

If appointed, Vice-Admiral Dhowan will have a tenure of 25 months as the Chief of Naval Staff (till May 31, 2016). Had Admiral Joshi, who had 15-month service left, not resigned, Vice-Admiral Dhowan would have retired on May 31, 2014. Service Chiefs retire at 62 years of age, while Vice-Admirals retire at 60.

The sudden resignation by Admiral Joshi effected a change in the line of succession in the Navy. Had he retired as per schedule (in August 2015), Southern Navy Commander Vice-Admiral Satish Soni would have become the next Chief.|head
Official: India Will Need To Hike Defense Spending by 30% To Narrow Gap With China
Indian defense planners will need to hike defense spending by at least 30 percent for about 10 years to narrow the military differences between India and China, said an Indian Army official.

China spends over $100 billion on defense annually, about triple that of India’s more than $33 billion.

India will spend $150 billion in the next 10 years on new weapons from overseas and domestic sources, the Indian Army official. However, boosting spending 30 percent would require an additional $50 billion.

Given the current state of the Indian economy with an annual growth of less than 5 percent and a high fiscal deficit, the government will find it very difficult to find the additional money, said Nitin Mehta, defense analyst here.

The Army will need an additional $10 billion for the newly established Mountain Core of 80,000 troops to be deployed along the Chinese border. The Mountain Core, named 17 Corps, is planned to be raised in seven years.

India’s strategy of being able to fight China and Pakistan simultaneously will be difficult to achieve because of its slow pace of weapons acquisition, adds Mehta,

India will need to spend more than $6 billion on roads and related infrastructure in the next five years along the Chinese border, said the Indian Army official.

An MoD official said long-term purchase plans include buying night vision devices worth over $7 billion for more than 3,000 tanks and 1,900 combat vehicles. The military also will add aviation assets worth more than $3 billion in the next five to seven years.

Mahindra Singh, retired Indian Army major general and defense analyst, said that given the Defence Ministry’s track record in purchasing weapons and equipment through open competition, it was necessary to buy on a government-to- government basis.

To equip the Mountain Corps, the Army will need to buy about 700 light armored multipurpose vehicles, around 1,000 light strike vehicles, about 50 command post vehicles for reconnaissance and special operation, ultra light howitzers, a variety of UAVs and to weaponize existing UAVs, the Army official said.

A variety of reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition systems, greater firepower, and improved mobility will be needed along the Chinese border, Singh said.
Indian Army said no to Gujral’s order to vacate Siachen
    Under I. K. Gujral, the peacenik Prime Minister of a Congress-propped United Front Government, asked the Indian Army to withdraw from Siachen Glacier in 1997 to accommodate Pakistan.

    The then Indian Army chief, General V.P. Malik vetoed the move, demanding iron-clad guarantees as a precondition, which Pakistan has refused to concede till date. The collapse of the Gujral government in March 1998 stalled further movement toward what many strategists reckon would have been a monumental blunder.

    This disclosure was made by General Malik at a book release timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the undeclared war on the world's highest and coldest battlefield. It was on 13 April 1984, that India launched Operation Meghdoot to pre-empt a Pakistani takeover of the strategically-located Siachen Glacier. Thirty years on, it is an ongoing operation, with no end in sight.

    Gujral's position was in complete contrast to that of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, attests former Indian envoy to Pakistan, G. Parthasarathy. "Rajiv told me that he would not vacate the area where Indian troops have shed blood," recalled Parthasarathy, speaking after General Malik at a function to mark the release of journalist Nitin Gokhale's book, Beyond NJ 9842: The Siachen Saga, here on Friday. Rajiv too was under pressure from the peacenik lobby in 1987-88 to take advantage of his equation with his counterpart Benazir Bhutto and pluck the "low-hanging fruit" of Siachen.

    Gujral is best known for a dubious contribution to India's strategic history in ceasing during his tenure the activities of India's external intelligence agency, the Research and Analyses Wing (R&AW), in Pakistan. This is assessed by analysts as a huge strategic setback to India. Capabilities which took decades to build were swept away in one stroke.

    The precondition General Malik insisted upon was the authentication and demarcation of respective troop positions along the 110-km-long Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL). The Indian Army is in physical occupation of the Saltoro Ridge west of Siachen Glacier, which puts India in a dominating position.

    Warning that it would be a folly to ignore the strategic significance of Siachen, General Malik said, "The strategic consequences of a deal without formal authentication are obvious. It'll give Pakistan easier access to Saltoro and to the glacier, ensure security of Shaksgam (ceded by Pakistan to China).... and put a final stamp of China on its political control (of Shaksgam)."

    The Indian Army has since stuck to this "veto line" to resist an on-off politico-diplomatic push to vacate Siachen, first by the Gujral regime, and more recently, by Manmohan Singh, who wanted Siachen to be a "Mountain of Peace". The Indian Army believes Pakistan will sneak into Siachen if the commanding heights of the Saltoro Ridge are vacated.

    While the Army's insistence on demarcation of troop positions with Pakistan is well known, for the first time, it has come out in the open that the real military red line on Siachen is China, and its nexus with Pakistan. In his foreword to the book, General Malik says India must deny China and Pakistan an opportunity to link up via Siachen, and that their anti-India intent is transparent for the following reasons:

    * Pakistan illegally ceded the Shaksgam Valley in PoK, flanking Siachen, to China in 1963 under a Sino-Pak border agreement, in violation of the 1949 Karachi Agreement on the Ceasefire Line with India, and claiming a border link with China running through Siachen and terminating at the Karakoram Pass, east of Siachen. India's position is that the Karachi Agreement puts the boundary beyond the last demarcated Point NJ 9842 as running west of Siachen Glacier.

    * While China did a boundary deal with Pakistan on the PoK area west of Karakoram, it has refused to discuss the J&K boundary with India on the ground that it's "disputed".

    * Pakistan claims all of J&K but recognises Chinese sovereignty over Aksai Chin, which has been annexed by China.

    * In 1997, China went back on an agreement to send its military commander opposite Ladakh to meet his counterpart in Leh. This was an indication that they were unwilling to endorse Indian sovereignty over Ladakh.

    * China declined India's invitation to all military attaches in New Delhi (except Pakistan's) for a conducted tour of the battle zone post the Kargil War.

    * Four years ago, China started issuing stapled visas to visitors from J&K, thus questioning its status as part of India, refused visa to the highest ranking Army officer in J&K.

    * Increased Chinese presence in the northern areas of PoK, purportedly to improve infrastructure, repair the Karakoram Highway, and build oil pipelines and rail lines linking western China to the Arabian Sea.

    Ambassador Parthasarathy strongly argued that any deal on Siachen must be linked to an overall resolution of J&K. He endorsed the view of Brig V.N. Channa, the first commander of the Indian forces in Siachen, that by restricting itself to the Saltoro Ridge (west of Siachen), India lost an opportunity to take over the position now occupied by the Pakistanis beyond this ridgeline. "We should have gone beyond the Saltoro Ridge and taken over Gyari (now occupied by Pakistan). Had we done so, there would be no need to occupy the glacier (which is done at great cost)," rued Parthasarathy. Sadly, the story of missed opportunities for India does not end with Siachen.
Will review Indo-China border defence agreement if elected: Rajnath
Attacking the incumbent Manmohan Singh government over signing a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement with China, BJP president Rajnath Singh today said if voted to power his party would review it and asserted they would give a “befitting reply” to any neighbouring country which tries to intimidate India along the border.
“Soldiers from Pakistan and China cross over this side repeatedly. But our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went to Beijing in October 2013 and entered into an agreement with them that if Chinese Army enters, then Indian army will not drive it out, instead will request Chinese troops to return back with hand-folded,” Singh told a public rally here.

“What has happened to our Prime Minister? Those who should have given confidence, do this! As regard to this agreement, when we will come (to power), we will review it (BDCA),” he said, adding, BJP seeks to have a congenial relationship with countries including China and Pakistan.

“But if our neighbour does not desist from its acts, or tries to tease us repeatedly, we will tolerate it to a limit and if it continues with its design, we will not desist from giving a befitting reply,” he added. In October last, India and China had signed a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement to maintain peace and tranquillity on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

With the signing of the agreement, both the countries reached a comprehensive agreement to avoid border tensions and army face-offs along the LAC by deciding that neither side will use military capability to attack the other nor tail patrols along the border.

In a scathing attack on Congress-led UPA government, over killing of Indian soldiers on the border and repeated attacks by Pakistani troops, the BJP president said, “Pakistani solider repeatedly intrude into our territory and they attack our jawans.

“Even after that our government sits silent. I want to question PM, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, what sin have Indian soldiers done? Do you think our Jawans are weak. Just give free hand to Indian Army and then see, no country can dare to see toward us with any ill-design,” he added.
Why Is India Still the World’s Largest Arms Importer?
India has been the world’s largest arms importer every year since 2010, as its defence industry struggles to keep up with its international ambitions.

The volume of major weapons imports more than doubled between 2004-08 and 2009-13 and India’s share of the volume of international arms imports increased from 7% to 14%, according to the latest report released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

A plausible reason for this is that India lacks a defence industry of its own sufficient to meet its external challenges and to keep pace with its expanding strategic interests. The need to modernise has indeed been one major reason for India’s status as top spender on arms imports. But there are other factors at work too.
New Factories, New Weapons

India is still struggling to upgrade its arms manufacturing sector, despite this being a priority for over a decade. Continued reliance on foreign suppliers exposes the lack of a clear-cut vision of its defence industry.

The country’s hand was forced slightly: humiliating defeat in a war with China in 1962 and America’s refusal to share high-tech weapons meant India needed to upgrade its military capability. Given the Cold War dynamics of the time, the USSR stepped in and eventually the Indian armoury was full of Russian weapons.

Even today Russia continues to be one of India’s most significant strategic partners and biggest arms supplier, grabbing about 75% of its weapons imports. The remaining 25% is made up of the US and Western European countries, particularly France, Britain and Germany.

But the modernisation of India’s armed forces continues to take place in a slapdash manner. Despite the rhetoric of “indigenisation”, there has been no significant systemic transformation and huge cost and time overruns in domestic defence production are commonplace.

Though the government has emphasised private firms and public-private partnerships, the Indian defence industry continues to be dominated by the public sector. The Defence Ministry’s stumbles over promoting the private sector, which is still restricted to only 26% in the defence production sector, further constrains and exposes the lacuna in India’s defence industry planning.
Making New Friends

Indian defence firms continue to struggle with the move from a buyer-seller relationship with foreign firms to one based on equal partnership and joint production.

Since the Cold War, India has tried to increase its arms imports from the US and Western Europe as part of a broader strategy of diversifying suppliers. This works both ways: the US defence industry is very happy to find new buyers and new technologies. American defence giants such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing have been exploring potential business partners in India, attracted by the low-cost, well-educated, English speaking and technically sound workforce. The US is now India’s second largest arms supplier, accounting for 7% of the total.

Other sources of India’s arms include Israel, where the improving Indo-US ties and common security concerns over Islamic terrorism provided a natural partnership, and France, which has agreed to sell 126 combat aircraft to India, worth US$20-25 billion.

Relying on imports from first tier arms producing countries has positives and negatives. On one hand, it has ensured and enhanced India’s defence capability, but on the other it has constrained indigenous research as technology has been imported rather than developed. Though these arms purchases are done with technology transfer and offset arrangements, India still lags behind the developed countries defence industry standards.
Three-Way Fight

So what are all these arms for? India faces two primary enemies – Pakistan and China – and what worries its government most is the prospect of its two rivals uniting to form a hostile nuclear and defence partnership. This isn’t just scaremongering: 54% of Chinese arms exports already go to Pakistan.

In the face of this threat, India feels it still needs to beef up its arms acquisitions to deal with its shortage of fighter jets, submarines, helicopters, howitzers and so on. For example, the Indian Air Force is left with 34 fighter squadrons when at least 44 would be required to deter the dual challenge of Pakistan and China.

The prospect of conflict between the three countries is real. India has been at odds with Pakistan since its creation. China fought with India in 1962 and the relationship is still not truly normal, with a border standoff last year. The Indian government is only rational to want to be prepared to tackle both countries simultaneously, or even Pakistan directly if a terror strike brought the two to war.
The Great Game

Geopolitical factors are also driving India to focus on importing arms. Since the country declared itself a nuclear power in 1998, India’s political and defence elites have reached a consensus on the idea that India must march towards great power status. A growing economy further supports the focus on beefing up its defence as does the “push factor” of Chinese rivalry and the “pull” of the US’ rebalancing strategy towards Asia-Pacific.

Yale historian of international relations Paul Kennedy says, a credible great power must have a solid defence industry base. India is no exception. If it wants to seriously aspire to be a great power it will need to make its own arms, tanks and bombs.

As one account of India’s military modernisation puts it, the country is “arming without aiming”. Without a serious effort to reinvent its strategy, India risks wasting the money it is ploughing into its military. Excellent progress has been made in missile technology and a space programme, but more must be done to ensure effective public-private partnerships, joint-production with foreign firms, and the growth of India’s own industry.

For the time being, little will change. Security threats to the north and west, the need to develop an indigenous defence industry and its aspirations for great power status will see India continue to top the arms importer list in the coming years.


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