Indo-us cooperation should go beyond trade
First, let us all congratulate the new President and the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces, Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, who we believe will be more than a titular head. As Minister of Defence between 2004 and 2006, Mukherjee was responsible for the 10-year Indo-US Defence Framework deal.
While the Indo-US relationship has grown from strength to strength, there have been niggling issues which need to be ironed out. These issues have been taken up with senior US officials at regular meetings, and as latest last week when the US Deputy Defense Secretary. Ashton B. Carter was in India.
Underlining defence cooperation, Carter said “We want to get to a place where we continuously discover new opportunities to make innovative investments that benefit both countries for generations. The only limit to our cooperation should be our independent strategic decisions and not bureaucratic red tape. The relationship has come a long way in the past decade. Our goal is to make it even stronger. We need to define where we want to go and then make it possible to get there.”
Indeed, well said. However, we have to reiterate here that India is looking at a meaningful relationship and not just being a market. When I pointed out that India’s main concern was that US would transfer old technology, Carter responded “that was true in the past, but not in the future”. Substantiating the past stance, he said, “In the Cold War, the US bureaucracy was designed to protect a wide swath of technologies. With the commercialisation of the global marketplace, we now recognise that defence technology controls should be more focused.” US would cooperate with India on high-value technologies, he did assure and we hope that the US understands India’s predicament of growing its own defence and aerospace industry.
The aerospace and defence sector is booming and we have giants such as Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) making forays into the sector. RIL, which last year roped in Dr Vivek Lall, one of Boeing’s top executives, has ambitious plans, though it has not made public its plans as yet.
In this issue, we have an interview with the Director General of Mechanised Forces, Lt General D.S. Siddhu, who outlines how the Mechanised Forces are developing capabilities to fight and decisively influence the outcome of operations across the entire spectrum of conflict. The forces are concentrating on widening employability to include operating in high-altitude areas, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, etc.
And giving his frank and forthright views is Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch on how bureaucratic bunglings have adversely impacted the armed forces. The failure of the intelligence agencies in giving inputs on Pakistani intrusions and the government not heeding the advice of the Army have been glaring, at the cost of the soldier. On Kargil Vijay Diwas, we did pay tributes to the soldiers who had laid down their lives for the motherland. Isn’t it time that the government sets rights the conditions for the soldiers, in terms of pay and allowances, while equipping him or her with the best of equipment.