SP's LandForces - - INTERVIEW -

In­dia’s Growth Story: With the on­set of the New Year 2014, as we look around us, there seems to be lit­tle to cheer. Po­lit­i­cal paral­y­sis has been ev­i­dent through­out the ten­ure of UPA-II and the sce­nario on the growth front is dis­mal as the pace of ex­pan­sion is barely re­cov­er­ing from the low of 3.2 per cent in 2012-13 to 2.4 per cent in the growth story is fal­ter­ing be­cause for­eign and do­mes­tic in­vestors re­main wary of the busi­ness and in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment and the paral­y­sis in de­ci­sion-mak­ing. This, in turn, calls for eco­nomic re­forms across a wide front. The peo­ple there­fore feel that the out­come of the 2014 elec­tions is cru­cial for the In­dia story. Let us wait to see how this plays out.

For­eign Pol­icy: For for­eign pol­icy, 2013 has been a painful year. We have lost a friend in Sri Lanka by the Prime Min­is­ter re­fus­ing to at­tend the Com­mon­wealth Heads of Gov­ern­ment Meet­ing (CHOGAM) and by per­sis­tently vot­ing against them at the UN. In the con­text of Bangladesh, the prom­ise of the land bound­ary pact which is in our in­ter­est. This will surely hurt the Sheikh Hasina Gov­ern­ment. In the case of Bhutan, just weeks be­fore its July elec­tions, In­dia stopped pro­vid­ing kerosene and cook­ing gas at sub­sidised rates. Ev­ery­one be­lieves that we were pun­ish­ing Jigme Thin­ley for an “in­de­pen­dent” for­eign pol­icy, par­tic­u­larly his out­reach to China. This in­sen­si­tiv­ity/in­com­pe­tence should have been avoided.

Hamid Karzai has de­pended on In­dia as a true friend. It is in this con­text that in 2014 when Afghanistan is left alone to bat­tle Pak­istan-spon­sored ter­ror­ists with­out NATO, In­dia could have been more em­pa­thetic and help­ful. We have not been able to as­sure weapon sup­plies to Afghanistan. What is the gov­ern­ment wor­ried about?

Fi­nally, there is the sorry spec the all-pow­er­ful United States, al of In­dian ori­gin in New York to take over the reins of gov­ern­ment au­thor­ity while the US State Depart­ment slept and tried to hide be­hind the tech­ni­cal­i­ties in the Devyani Kho­bra­gade episode. Now that both sides have shown their rel­a­tively low cal­i­bre in in­ter­na­tional diplo­macy, it would be in the in­ter­est of both na­tions to move ahead be­cause more try­ing times await both the na­tions in 2014.

In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity: se­cu­rity re­mains an area of ma­jor - de­pen­dence. The Prime Min­is­ter (PM) while ad­dress­ing the Chief Min­is­ters at the Con­fer­ence on In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity in Delhi on June - lenges fac­ing the coun­try rang­ing from Nax­al­ism (left-wing ex­trem­ism), mil­i­tancy and ter­ror­ism in the North­east and in the hin­ter­land, com­mu­nal and sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence, crimes against women and chil­dren to bor­der man­age­ment and coastal se­cu­rity. He then urged the Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment. But the Cen­tre has shown its weak­ness by not be­ing able to carry the states along with them in their bid to es­tab­lish the Na­tional Coun­terT­er­ror­ism Cen­tre on the lines of United States.

We have a long tra­di­tion of be­ing po­lit­i­cally di­vided by schisms of caste, re­li­gion, re­gion, lan­guage and even in­di­vid­ual ego. When­ever the cen­tral power weak­ened, di­vi­sive el­e­ments have risen to trig­ger dis­in­te­gra­tion of the realm. This was ev­i­dent through­out our his­tory. To­day, thanks to the poor man­age- ment of the coun­try by our Cen­tre and the states, once again In­dia is be­ing con­sid­ered as a soft state.

De­fence: Se­cu­rity threats and chal­lenges fac­ing In­dia have in­creased enor­mously. While the old ad­ver­sar­ial threats due to un­re­solved bor­ders re­main, new threats and chal­lenges like ter­ror­ism and in­sur­gen­cies have been added to the old in­ven­tory. Thus In­dia needs to pre­pare it­self for the full-spec­trum of war­fare rang­ing from low-in­ten­sity con and counter-ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tions the nu­clear shadow on two widely sep­a­rated fronts on its western

The re­vised De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure (DPP) over the years has done lit­tle to ac­cel­er­ate the pace of mod­erni­sa­tion. A dis­pas­sion­ate anal­y­sis would in­di­cate mod­ern war to­gether with the lack Army, is caus­ing a ca­pa­bil­ity gap vis-à-vis our likely ad­ver­saries and this is be­com­ing more pro­nounced day by day. It is in this con­text that we should view the let­ter writ­ten by Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Singh, the for­mer Chief of Army Staff (COAS), to the Prime Min­is­ter on March 12, 2012, which was de­lib­er­ately leaked to the me­dia. It high­lighted the lack of mis­sion re­li­a­bil­ity of mu­ni­tions. Thus it pointed out the lack of pre­pared­ness of the na­tion -

Po­lit­i­cal Land­scape: The Aam Delhi state elec­tions on the plank of pro­vid­ing a cor­rup­tion free gov needs of the com­mon man such as wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and liv­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion, has hit the In­dian po­lit­i­cal scene like a tsunami and has vir­tu­ally changed the po­lit­i­cal land­scape of In­dia overnight. The two na­tional par­ties are feel­ing threat­ened. So we can look for­ward to in­ter­est­ing times ahead dur­ing the pre-sum­mer months in 2014 when the na­tion goes to polls to elect the new par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. Let us hope the “Ke­jri­wal ef­fect”, as it has come to be known, will have a long-term pos­i­tive im­pact on the po­lit­i­cal land­scape of In­dia.

Lt Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Kapoor

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