Time is now to tackle internal strife
There is growing concern about naxal violence spreading to different parts of the country. As per the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Jitendra Pratap Singh, 26 districts in India are ‘severely’ affected by left-wing extremism (LWE), pronounced in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha, while there is naxal presence in West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The need to quell further spread of LWE is urgent and the government must approach the burning issue, using the carrot and stick method.
Internal strife is popping its ugly head here and there. Assam is marred by violence, a problem not easily to go away with illegal migrants into the state. The recent violence has left the state shattered. Its ramifications are being felt elsewhere and there is mass exodus of Northeast people from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This certainly does not bode well for the country, which is known for unity in diversity.
In his fortnightly column, Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch mentions how post-26/11, Pakistan has activated its sleeper modules inducted in the 1980s and we see increasing attacks pan-India. The time to tackle these insurgencies is now.
While internal security is a major issue, the Indian military is on fast-track modernisation. At a recent press meet, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma disclosed that the government has granted acceptance of necessity (AON) for naval acquisitions worth ` 2,73,000 crore (approximately $50 billion). This makes India’s naval modernisation programme one of the world’s largest naval build-up.
That India is Boeing’s largest international customer for C-17 Globemaster III is not surprising at all. India’s defence acquisition programmes are humongous, driven by the vastness of the country and also the growing threat-perceptions in the region. India is buying 10 C-17 airlifters from Boeing, while the company awaits to hear on the deal for 22 new AH-64D Apache attack helicopters.
Work is on at a frenetic pace to deliver the 10 C-17s at the Long Beach facility in California. SP’s Special Correspondent was at Long Beach, capturing the pace of work that is going on the first of the C-17s. The ceremonial riveting programme of the tail section, fuselage and forward section was a momentous occasion. The Consul General of India, San Francisco, Ambassador N. Parthasarathi, rightly mentioned: “This momentous occasion, where we see India’s first C-17 take shape, further strengthens our growing relationship. As India strives to become a global reservoir of highly skilled and technologically sophisticated manpower, we will witness an escalating technology transfer, collaborative joint research and development and coproduction of defence items between our two countries.”
Not just with the US, India is keen on strategic partnerships with several countries. Brazil’s Embraer Defense and Security has delivered the first EMB 145 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) class of aircraft to India. The President & CEO of Embraer Defense and Security, Luiz Carlos Aguiar summed up the partnership: “The collaboration with DRDO in such a complex programme strengthens the ties between Brazil and India.” The Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) of DRDO will be involved in integration of mission systems.
We are seeing more partnerships happening on the ground. Recently, Mahindra & Mahindra, one of India’s leading business houses, and Telephonics Corporation signed a definitive agreement to form a joint venture to provide radar and surveillance systems, communication systems, homeland security systems, etc.
As the nation commemorated the 13th anniversary of Kargil victory, former Chief of Army Staff General V.P. Malik opines that the Kargil War was not the first time when Pakistan initiated a war; and we must not assume that it would be the last time. India will remain vulnerable to such threats along its disputed borders unless it builds a credible will and capability to deter and dissuade likely adversaries.