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.

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