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