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Friday, 14 February 2014

From Today's Papers - 14 Feb 2014


















http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140214/nation.htm#4
 Naval fleets engaged in month-long drill
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 13
Indian Navy’s major annual exercise Tropex (Theatre level readiness and operational exercise) is under way and the participating units include aircraft carrier INS Viraat, the Russian-origin nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Chakra and the US-origin surveillance plane, the Boeing P8-I.

Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi and Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, embarked on the combined fleets at sea off the East Coast today. The Eastern and Western fleets of the Navy are currently engaged in a month-long exercise.

The exercise is being conducted against the backdrop of two completely networked fleets, widely dispersed across the Indian Ocean. Missile, torpedo and gun-firing will be undertaken.

This year’s exercise will witness maiden participation of the recently acquired P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft as also Hawk fighter trainer aircraft. Besides UAVs and airborne early warning helicopter of the Indian Navy, air-to-air refuellers, Jaguars and SU-30 aircraft of Indian Air Force will also be deployed. An amphibious unit of the Indian Army having launch capability from a specialised warship is also a part of the exercise.

Tropex has the participation of some 40 ships and as many aircraft.


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140214/nation.htm#12
 AFT declines relief to 52 pensioners
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 13
The Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has dismissed a bunch of 52 petitions in which ex-servicemen had sought grant of arrears that arose after the fixation of pension anomalies.

The petitions, filed by personnel below officer rank (PBOR), sought arrears for revised scales applicable between January 1997 to October 1997.

On implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission, the pay scales in respect of PBOR were revised with effect from January 1996 and subsequently rationalised effect from October 10, 1997.

Jawan gets bail

The Armed Forces Tribunal has granted bail to a jawan, awarded four months imprisonment by a court martial, for his involvement in a case of collective indiscipline in an armoured unit.

The jawan, Dinesh Kumar, had been charged and found guilty of four charges against him for absence from duty, abetment whereby he instigated his unit soldiers to absent themselves without leave from the unit and act prejudicial to good order and military discipline. 


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140214/edit.htm#7
 UK & Bluestar: Nothing unusual about it
Britain's cooperation with India is not unusual and neither is Operation Bluestar unprecedented. What is needed is a lessons learnt exercise to ensure there is no repeat of the politics that led to such a situation so as to put a closure to the unfortunate incident and to move on.
Dinesh Kumar

Recent revelations that an officer of the Special Air Services (SAS), a British Special Force, reconnoitred the Golden Temple Complex in February 1984 and gave advice to the Indian government on the latter's request on how to flush out the armed militia led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from inside the premises of the holy shrine has evoked considerable dismay and outrage among sections of the Sikh community both in India and overseas, especially among those residing in the United Kingdom. 'How could have the British Government rendered advice to the Indian government to attack the holiest shrine of the Sikhs? is their angry question.

Notwithstanding, the fact remains that at the operational level it appears that whatever was the rendered advice, it was either not passed on to the Army or, even in case it was, it was not followed by the formation commanders during Operation Bluestar which had taken place less than four months after the visit of the SAS officer. The content of that advice is yet to be publicly revealed. As Lieutenant General Kuldip Singh Brar, who as General Officer Commanding of 9 Division in the rank of Major General had led Operation Bluestar, has repeatedly stated, the Army action was planned over barely five days (June 1 to 5) prior to Operation Bluestar and executed over a single night (June 5/6).
Saudi-French military action in Mecca

The short answer is that it is not unusual for countries to seek advice from each other. Neither was Operation Bluestar unprecedented. For, just four-and-a-half-years earlier, the world witnessed a similar operation inside the holiest shrine of the Muslims, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The operation that lasted two weeks witnessed the active involvement of the French Special Forces, essentially Christian and non-Muslim and therefore 'infidel'.

The incident dates to 20th November 1979, the first day of the year 1400 according to the Islamic calendar, when Juhayman al-Utaybi along with 400 to 500 followers seized Islam's holiest shrine and proclaimed Mohammed Abdullah-al-Qahtani as the Mahdi or messiah. The gunmen smuggled their weapons into the mosque in coffins, declared the Saudi family illegitimate and held hostage hundreds of worshippers who were on a pilgrimage.

As was faced by the Indian Army in the Golden Temple complex, the Saudi Army had little intelligence of the number of gunmen or hostages taken, faced heavy casualties during a frontal assault, found themselves at the receiving end of ambushes and sniper fire and ended up using heavy weaponry including tanks while making no headway with announcements for surrender over the public address system. The gunmen eventually took refuge in the basement and finally the Saudi Arabian government turned to the Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, the Special Forces unit of the French armed forces, which ended up commanding the Saudi forces but did not actually participate in the attack since non-Muslims are not allowed inside the holy city. The 14 day operation, which ended on 4th December 1979, resulted in the death of 255 persons including 127 Saudi soldiers and injuries to 560 including 451 soldiers. The unofficial figures are much higher. The one major difference, however, was that the Saudi's got the ulema to issue a fatwa permitting the use of deadly force to re-take the Grand Mosque from the terrorists. But even this fatwa came after three long days of persuasion. Unlike Bhindranwale who was killed in the Army operation, Juhayaman and 67 of his followers were captured, secretly tried, convicted and then publicly beheaded in different cities of Saudi Arabia.

When the ISI cooperated with RAW

The revelation of British assistance to India has also evoked similar surprise among a section of non-Sikh politicians in the country. 'How could have the Indian government compromised on their sovereignty and sought advice from the very country that until only 27 years earlier had colonised and ravaged India for over 200 years?' is their indignant question.

The fact is that truth is stranger than fiction and history is replete with examples of intelligence agencies, on occasions, cooperating with even their adversaries. The game of realpolitik, as any practitioner or theorist of statecraft ranging from Kautilya and Sun Tzu to Machiavelli will explain, is altogether different and, most will argue, is necessary.
Incredible as it may sound, one such example of cooperation between two adversaries was between India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), the very agency which has executed some major terror attacks in India. Interestingly, this phase of cooperation occurred at the height of terrorist violence in Punjab which was being fuelled by the ISI. All this occurred during the tenure of the much hated President Zia-ul-Haq, a former Pakistani Army chief who as an India baiter aggressively pursued the building of the Islamic (nuclear) bomb, pandered to Islamist radicals and under who the syllabus of Pakistani history school books were further Islamised and made stridently more anti-India and anti-non Muslim.

The cooperation was facilitated by Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan who was a personal friend of Rajiv Gandhi when the latter was Prime Minister. Prince Hasan's wife is of Pakistani origin and he also personally knew General Zia-ul-Haq when as a middle-rung officer he had been earlier posted in Amman as a commanding officer of a Pakistani unit based in the Jordanian capital. Ironically, several years earlier during the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Amman had sided with Pakistan and provided them Jordanian Air Force fighter aircraft.

Prince Hassan had then separately contacted Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President Zia-ul-Haq and suggested that the chiefs of the RAW and the ISI meet to discuss Pakistan's support to terrorists in Punjab along with other issues. The first meeting between the then RAW chief, AK Verma, and the then ISI chief, Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, was held in Amman with Prince Hassan personally present during the initial moments before leaving the venue of the meeting in order to allow the two Intelligence chiefs to continue their discussion. This was followed by a second meeting between the two in Geneva.

The two countries came close to resolving the Siachen issue as a result of these meetings and the ISI secretly handed over four Sikh soldiers who had earlier crossed over to Pakistan after deserting the Indian Army while posted in Jammu and Kashmir. Dialogue and cooperation between the RAW and the ISI had continued even after Benazir Bhutto came into power in elections held soon after General Zia-ul-Haq's death in August 1988 but came to a halt after Nawaz Sharif succeeded Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister in the early 1990s. It was during Benazir Bhutto's tenure that the ISI's support to terrorists in Punjab had begun to decline although it correspondingly intensified in Jammu and Kashmir.

There is also the interesting example of the Mossad, Israel's external intelligence agency, training a contingent each of the Indian special forces, the Sri Lankan special forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at the same time and at the same place in Israel during the 1980s long before New Delhi established diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv as is brought out by former Mossad agent Viktor Ostrovsky in his book By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer. Then again, there is the incident of Indo-US intelligence cooperation during the height of the Cold War when in the late 1960s the two sides cooperated to install a US-supplied plutonium powered transceiver in the Himalayas to detect and report data on future Chinese nuclear tests following Beijing's first nuclear test in October 1964.

Key issues need to be addressed

The decision to order Army troops into the Golden Temple and the hastiness with which the operation was planned raises a question on the quality of governance and decision making. There is first and foremost a need for a serious debate on why and how the political executive and its advisors at that time allowed such a situation to build up in the first place that subsequently necessitated them to order a military action.

Secondly, although the Army can say it was following orders given by the government, the question remains on whether it made sense for the Army to plan and execute a close quarter battle (CQB) operation of such intensity and sensitivity on such a short notice and with abysmally minimal intelligence in one of the country's holiest shrine.

Thirty years on, Operation Bluestar remains the subject of considerable controversy and continues to evoke strong negative emotion among large sections of the Sikh community. It has since cost the country the life of a Prime Minister that in turn led to Congress party-inspired brutal killings of Sikhs in Delhi and other parts of the country and revived terrorism in Punjab that lasted a decade and which cost several thousand lives. For, the operation is still perceived as an attack on the holy shrine rather than on a band of armed militia that had fortified the premises of the Golden Temple complex and buildings in the periphery after smuggling in weapons and explosives and from where they ran a virtual parallel government and spread terror across the state.

Among defence analysts, there remains the question of whether the Army could have executed Operation Bluestar in a better way so as to have inflicted minimal damage and casualties inside the complex. The debate is endless but what is disconcerting is that the Army never conducted a post-Operation Bluestar lessons learnt exercise. One other critical question remains, which in fact did arise at a later date in May 1993 with respect to the holy Charar-e-Sharief sufi shrine in the Kashmir valley with disastrous consequences: What would the Army have done if some of Bhindranwale's armed militia had taken armed positions inside the sanctum sanctorum, the Harminder Sahib? Unlike with the Akal Takht, the temporal seat, on which the Army fired about 20 tank shells to neutralise the heavily fortified positions, the Army would have been constrained to launch an assault on the sanctum sanctorum had the latter been similarly fortified. A retreat would not only have resulted in a loss of face to the Army but would still not have served the purpose of vacating the shrine premises of the armed militia.

There is need for both the Congress and the Akalis to introspect on the politics they played in the 1980s that had culminated in an Army action aimed at vacating Bhindranwale and his gunmen from the holy shrine. Similarly, the Army should also have carried out a lessons learnt exercise following Operation Bluestar (and the Charar-e-Sharief episode) on how they could have handled the operation better. This would be necessary in order to once and for all put a closure to Operation Bluestar. For how long can a country, society and a community hold on to the past?


http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/uk-may-offer-eurofighter-to-india-483211?pfrom=home-otherstories
UK may offer Eurofighter to India
Singapore:  A UK trade body has said that it still sees the potential of supplying Eurofighter to India, which has postponed till the next fiscal its plan to buy 126 fighter planes from France's Dassault Aviation.

"We are very keen, should the opportunity arise, to offer India a cost effective solution," Adam Thomas, a senior spokesman for the Defence & Security Organization at the UK Trade and Investment, told PTI at the Singapore Airshow here.

Noting that the Indian government was still in discussion with Dassault Aviation, he said, "We respect the Indian system and, if asked, clearly we would be happy to talk to the Indian government."

The deal for the 126 jets, when concluded, will be the largest ever for combat aircraft.

Thomas noted that India's Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme is one of the major attractions to woo FDI to the country's defence sector.

He said UK's defence industry has welcomed India's decision to raise FDI in defence to 49 per cent from 26 per cent.

"We hope that there could be more flexibility in the future to make India an attractive partner for inward investment," he said.

Thomas expressed the UK's defence industry's interest in establishing "strong business relationships" with Indian private and public sectors.

"India remains an important security market for the United Kingdom," he said.

"We have seen quite a capability development in the Indian public and private sectors. We have also seen how the electronics industry has developed not only to provide for the India armed forces but also holds the potential of exporting equipment," said Thomas, who was part of the UK delegation at Defexpo held in New Delhi earlier this month.

"We want to find how we can get British companies to work with the Indians to jointly develop equipment that can be used not only by the Indian armed forces, but perhaps the UK armed forces and export to a third market," he said.

"We see Indian companies as joint venture partners. We see supplying to the Indian market around a theme of partnership," said Thomas, noting that both the UK and Indian armed forces were undergoing transformations. .


http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/sochi-winter-olympics-army-man-havildar-nadeem-iqbal/1/343358.html
Army man keeps Indian hope alive in Sochi winter olympics


Havildar Nadeem Iqbal of Indian Army has the rare distinction of becoming the first soldier from Jammu and Kashmir to qualify for the Winter Olympics being held at Sochi, Russia from 07 Feb 2014 to 25 Feb 2014 and is the only one from three Services as well one among three sportsmen representing the country at the highest pedestal of winter sports.

This 30 years old Army Skier joined the Army Ski Team being trained under the aegis of High Altitude Warfare School, Gulmarg in September 2004. Having gone through a grueling training cycle under most trying conditions, the individual gradually emerged as a promising skier of the prestigious Army Ski Team.

Ever since he joined the High Altitude Warfare School, which is a premier training establishment of the Indian Army in Winter and Mountain Warfare, Havildar Nadeem Iqbal has been trained with a laid out strict training discipline which includes development of basic skills, honing of skiing techniques, provision of specialist equipment and above all a tailor made training package to build his physical and mental robustness, essential for athletes to rise up to such heights.

High Altitude Warfare School has the distinction of producing two more skiers who have represented the country in the Winter Olympics in the past.Havildar Nadeem Iqbal in his journey up to Winter Olympics has gained sufficient experience by participating at various National and International Ski Championships   He has been a National Champion from year 2009 to year 2013 as well as secured first position in 1st South Asian Winter Games, Auli (Uttrakhand) in 2011.

He also participated in VIIth Asian Winter Games, Almaty (Kazakhistan) in the same year.  The individual participated in   Federation of International Ski (FIS) Races-2013 at Shemshak, Iran in FIS Nordic World Skiing Championship held in Italy in 2013. To qualify for the Winter Olympics, Havildar Nadeem Iqbal participated in various events organized by FIS under most challenging conditions and very strict selection norms.  To earn the mandatory qualifying points for the Winter Olympics, the individual participated in FIS races organized by Federation of International Ski in Italy and France in Nov-Dec 2013.

The competition in these events was of a very high standard which required extreme talent and hard work. The individual belongs to a very humble family from village- Bada Kana (Rajouri) in Jammu and Kashmir. He has two children and has reached this level with sheer hard work, dedication and untiring spirit to make it big Conditioning by the best qualified instructional staff of High Altitude Warfare School, Gulmarg proved shot in arm for Havildar Nadeem for qualifying in 15 Km Nordic Free Style event for the Winter Olympics Sochi. The event is scheduled on 14 Feb 2014.   The whole country especially State of Jammu and Kashmir will expect another Olympic Medal from him and he is likely to do proud to the Indian Army.




http://www.isn.ethz.ch/Digital-Library/Articles/Detail/?lng=en&id=176507
India’s Defense Sector Still Plagued by Corruption


Despite attempted reforms, India’s defense procurement system remains tainted by corruption and wrongdoing. Today, Deba Mohanty explains why New Delhi has failed to solve a problem that puts the country’s military modernization efforts at risk.

By Deba R Mohanty for ISN

India’s defense procurement sector continues to be rocked by instances of corruption and wrongdoing that have the potential to compromise the country’s military modernization program. Worse still, such irregularities may yet have a bearing on domestic politics ahead of May’s presidential elections.

Current controversies
At least three major scandals – two of them related to purchases by ordnance factories and one to the Indian Air Force (IAF) – have led to the blacklisting of nine companies in the past eight years. Currently, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is investigating more than twenty cases of corruption and undue influence. India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has also blacklisted four major international companies - Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD), Singapore Technologies Kinetics Ltd. (STK), Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI) and Corporation Defence Russia (CDR) – and the former chief of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) was arrested and jailed in 2010 for wrongdoing.

More recently, the MoD cancelled the purchase of 12 AW 101 helicopters worth $570 million as a result of the violation of an Integrity Pact by Finmeccanica subsidiary Augusta Westland International (UK) Limited. The violation resulted in investigations by the CBI into the activities of 11 individuals, including top executives of Augusta and Finmeccanica, the former Chief of the IAF, as well as four additional companies (two foreign and two). Opposition parties have also used the violation to pressure the Indian defense minister A K Antony into making a suo moto statement on the issue, which he is likely to make in the current session of Parliament, if he is allowed to.

However, New Delhi’s response to the AW 101 contract has thus far been confusing. First, while the ‘chopper scam’ is under investigation by the CBI, questions have been raised over the wisdom of the Indian Foreign Policy Promotion Board (FIPB)’s - the agency that approves foreign investments in India – decision to give the nod to a joint venture between Augusta Westland and Tata Sons known as Indian Rotorcraft Limited. The company will assemble single engine helicopters and cater to the domestic as well as global markets. In light of recent developments, the MoD is far from comfortable with this decision.

Conversely, the Indian Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) - the body which approves all defense acquisition proposals - has put the proposed purchase of 98 Black Shark heavy weight torpedoes for the ongoing Scorpene submarine project on ice. These are manufactured by Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquel, which also happens to be a subsidiary of Finmeccanica. Adding to the confusion is the current status of the tender for 127 mm guns for Indian Navy warships. BAe Systems has reportedly left the tendering process, leaving Oto Melara – another Finmeccanica subsidiary – as the single bidder.
Finally, India’s protracted Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition remains a thorn in New Delhi’s side. While A K Antony continues to argue that a final decision on the acquisition of 126 fighter aircraft has been delayed due to time-consuming negotiations on life cycle cost calculations and offset arrangements, insiders blame the slowness on lengthy investigations into various complaints lodged by senior Indian politicians. These include Yashwant Sinha, the head of the powerful Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, who has even written a letter to the Defence Minister, urging him to reconsider the MMRCA contract.

Nothing new

However, corruption associated with defense purchases has plagued Indian military acquisitions for decades. The Bofors scandal of the late 1980s, for example, is a case in point. In order to win a contract to supply India with field guns, the Swedish industrial giant allegedly gave kickbacks to then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and members of his government. This not only resulted in the fall of Gandhi’s Indian National Congress government, its negative impact on the Indian artillery modernization continues to haunt the country’s Army. As a result, at least four rounds of artillery purchase tenders have either been cancelled or re-tendered in the last ten years, leading to serious problems in terms of availability and supply. Accordingly, investigations into the AW 101 contract may also have serious implications for India’s military modernization program, especially if Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries are blacklisted as a result of CBI investigations, even though both cases are different.
So why has New Delhi failed to bring corrupt practices that hurt the country’s military development – and, indeed, its defense industry - under control? Such problems can be traced back to what may be termed as the ‘systemic complexities’ found within the administrative organs of the state, most notably the MoD. These ‘complexities’ have allowed the MoD and its Integrated Headquarters to function in a closed and relatively autonomous manner for generations. Indeed, such practices continue to this day despite the introduction of a series of reforms to the higher defense management sector over the past decade or so.

In addition, the Indian Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) remains a complex process that often invites trouble. Currently, the DPP consists of a 12 step procurement process, starting with a request for information (RFI) and concluding with the signing of a contract and post-contract management. While the MoD is ultimately responsible for awarding the contract, there are still too many multi-disciplinary oversight committees that blur the accountability factor. Vaguely worded procedural requirements and ill-defined or insufficiently explained provisions, like ‘offsets’, pre-contract integrity pact’, ‘transfer of technology’ (to name but a few), also make tender processes complicated.

Indeed, such provisions are quite often tweaked to suit the needs of vendors. For instance, the DPP also has a section entitled ‘political and strategic considerations’. This gives the MoD the power to choose a weapons system from a particular state and/or supplier that also offers other political and strategic dividends. So while negotiations and processes associated with the MMRCA contract might have followed rules and regulations, such ‘dividends’ cannot be ruled out. Finally, preliminary investigations and legal procedures associated with tender processes can run for years, if not decades. Little wonder then that the DPP has been revised nine times in the past 12 years, but still fails to address issues of transparency and accountability in a meaningful manner.

Flattering to deceive

It should be noted that it took nearly two decades for the CBI to file a closure report on the Bofors scandal, an outcome that only reinforces that vendors and end-users both end up losing if arms deals of this magnitude go wrong. It also took nearly a decade for it to file a similar report on the role of South Africa’s Denel in an ordnance factory scam. In this respect, A K Antony’s continued determination in recent years to blacklist contractors, cancel contracts and even punish individuals is to be commended. India most certainly needs robust armed forces modernization and a transparent defense procurement system to realize its key objectives. However, the complexity and apparent opacity of the DPP – not to mention decisions taken by organs like the FIPB – suggest that New Delhi’s push for transparency will fall short of expectations for the foreseeable future.



http://www.newindianexpress.com/opinion/Brace-for-Chinese-Military-Might/2014/02/13/article2053217.ece#.Uv1qrc5W0a8
Brace for Chinese Military Might
It is being estimated that China’s defence budget will reach a whopping US $148 billion in 2014, second only to the defence budget of the USA and leaving behind the combined defence budgets of western nations such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom. China’s defence budget has risen each year for two decades and the trend shows no sign of abating. Thanks to rapidly rising defence expenditures by China and Russia, global defence spending is rising for the first time in five years. Across Asia-Pacific, there is an arms race brewing as nations try to secure their interests at a time of geopolitical transition. The region is likely to account for nearly 28 per cent of global defence spending by 2020.

Last year China had hiked its defence budget by 10.7 per cent to USD 115.7 billion, well above India’s defence spending of USD 37.4 billion. While its civilian leadership has tried to downplay the increase suggesting much of it will go to human resources development, infrastructure and training, it is the response of the Chinese military that should be a matter of concern. The military has been unambiguous in suggesting when it comes to military spending, there is no need for China “to care about what others may think”.

Divisions within China about the future course of the nation’s foreign policy are starker than ever before. It is now being suggested that much like young Japanese officers in the 1930s, young Chinese military officers are increasingly taking charge of strategy with the result that rapid military growth is shaping the nation’s broader foreign policy objectives.

Civil-military relations in China are under stress with the PLA asserting its pride more forcefully than even before and demanding respect from other states. Not surprisingly, China has been more aggressive in asserting its interests not only vis-à-vis India but also vis-à-vis the US, the EU, Japan and Southeast Asian states. There is a sense that China can now prevail in conflicts with its regional adversaries. Some voices have openly called for wars. The Air Force Colonel, Dai Xu, has argued that in light of China’s disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea, a short, decisive war, like the 1962 border clash with India, would deliver long-term peace. This would be possible, as Washington would not risk war with China over these territorial spats, according to this assessment.

The increasing assertion by the Chinese military and changing balance of power in the nation’s civil-military relations is a real cause of concern for China’s neighbours. The pace of Chinese military modernisation has already taken the world by surprise and it is clear that the process is going much faster than many had anticipated. China launched its first aircraft carrier last year as well as several versions of new fighter jets including a stealth fighter bracing to deal with big US military push into Asia Pacific.

A growing economic power, China is now concentrating on the accretion of military might so as to secure and enhance its own strategic interests. China, which has the largest standing army in the world with more than 2.3 million members, continues to make the most dramatic improvements in its nuclear force among the five nuclear powers, and improvements in conventional military capabilities are even more impressive.

What has been causing concern in Asia and beyond is the opacity that seems to surround China’s military build-up, with an emerging consensus that Beijing’s real military spending is at least double the announced figure. Tensions are escalating between China and its neighbours. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has suggested the two countries are “in a similar situation” to Germany and Britain just before the outbreak of World War One.

At this critical juncture in the regional strategic landscape, India’s own defence modernisation programme is faltering despite this being at a time when India is expected to spend $112 billion on capital defence acquisitions over the next five years in what is being described as “one of the largest procurement cycles in the world”. Indian military planners are shifting their focus away from Pakistan as China takes centre-stage in future strategic planning.

Over the past two decades, the military expenditure of India has been around 2.75 per cent but since India has been experiencing significantly higher rates of economic growth over the last decade compared to any other time in its history, the overall resources that it has been able to allocate to its defence needs has grown significantly. The armed forces for long have been asking for an allocation of 3% of the nation’s GDP to defence. The Indian Parliament has also underlined the need to aim for the target of 3% of the GDP. Yet as a percentage of the GDP, the annual defence spending has declined to one of its lowest levels since 1962. And now with a slow-down in the Indian economy, the Indian prime minister has suggested that the golden age of defence modernisation is already over.

But defence expenditure alone will not solve all the problems plaguing Indian defence policy. More damagingly, for the last several years now the defence ministry has been unable to spend its budgetary allocation. The defence acquisition process remains mired in corruption and bureaucratese. India’s indigenous defence production industry has time and again made its inadequacy to meet the demands of the armed forces apparent. The Indian armed forces keep waiting for arms while the finance ministry is left with unspent budget year after year. Most large procurement programmes get delayed resulting in cost escalation and technological or strategic obsolescence of the budgeted items. The present defence minister has been one of the most ineffective leaders of India’s defence establishment.

The Indian government is yet to demonstrate the political will to tackle the defence policy paralysis that is rendering all the claims of India’s rise as a military power increasingly hollow. The capability differential between China and India is rising at an alarming rate. Without a radical overhaul of the national security apparatus, Indian defence planners will not be able to manage China’s rise.

An effective defence policy is not merely about deterring China. But if not tackled urgently, India will lose the confidence to conduct its foreign policy unhindered from external and internal security challenges.

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