De­ter or Delete

India Strategic - - NEWS - Gul­shan Rai Luthra

I have al­ways held that the In­dian armed forces must be ad­e­quately em­pow­ered with mod­ern weapons and tech­nol­ogy to be able to de­ter an en­emy or delete him if he at­tacks us.

Un­for­tu­nately, the armed forces still have mostly old, and out­dated, weapons and sys­tems, al­though I am rea­son­ably as­sured by re­ports from high­est quar­ters that a lot of things are hap­pen­ing. Be­fore mov­ing to his home state of Goa as Chief Min­is­ter, former De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar for in­stance gave de­tails of cer­tain fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments the Govern­ment was mak­ing to­wards build­ing and strength­en­ing the coun­try’s mil­i­tary in­dus­trial com­plex. Un­der­stand­ably, In­dia be­ing the fourth or fifth largest buyer of arms in the world, it must draw some off­set ad­van­tage in terms of in­duc­tion of tech­nolo­gies, and that has not hap­pened be­fore. This is where the Govern­ment’s thrust is now. It is not that this dream was never dreamt be­fore.

In fact, not­with­stand­ing the al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion against Ra­jiv Gandhi in the ac­qui­si­tion of Bo­fors guns from Swe­den, the 1986 deal for the guns was in line with Make in In­dia pro­gramme. It is another thing that VP Singh de­mol­ished the deal as cor­rupt and the gum as “tech­no­log­i­cally poor” in his cam­paign to suc­ceed Ra­jiv Gandhi as prime min­is­ter.

His al­le­ga­tions trig­gered a paral­y­sis in the Min­istry of De­fence, and in line with that, in the mod­erni­sa­tion process.

Any­way, that is his­tory, and if I read Mr Par­rikar cor­rectly, he also set an am­bi­tious tar­get of de­fence ex­ports to the tune of about $ Two bil­lion in the next cou­ple of years. One hopes and wishes that the MoD, the state run and pri­vate sec­tor in­dus­tries are able to live up to that.

Mr Par­rikar did in­deed set high hopes on HAL, as also on BrahMos, the lat­ter now rock­et­ing to­wards pro­vid­ing the coun­try with cut­ting edge long range pre­ci­sion strike ca­pa­bil­i­ties, thanks to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s suc­cess­ful ne­go­ti­a­tions with the US and other coun­tries in get­ting In­dia off the MTCR restric­tions.

Why am I sud­denly re­peat­ing the need for mod­erni­sa­tion!

I have been con­vinced for some time that the Cold War II is be­gin­ning, if it al­ready hasn’t. And while ear­lier, there were two play­ers, the US and the Soviet Union, this time, there is third one, China, which is near In­dia’s doorsteps, at Gwadar in Pak­istan. And for a long time like four decades or more to come. The im­pli­ca­tions are ob­vi­ous, and the In­dian armed forces have to be ad­e­quately armed with of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive tech­nolo­gies to de­ter any threats.

I hope no coun­try has to go be­yond that.

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