First and fore­most, we would like to con­grat­u­late Nir­mala Sithara­man for tak­ing the helm at the de­fence min­istry. She is the sec­ond woman in the his­tory of In­dia to hold the port­fo­lio of de­fence. It goes with­out say­ing the enor­mous con­fi­dence the Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has in Nir­mala Sithara­man who showed her met­tle as Com­merce and In­dus­try Min­is­ter. Yes, she has oner­ous tasks be­fore her and she has al­ready made her in­tent known on how she is go­ing to go about man­ag­ing the min­istry.

Her first mes­sage as De­fence Min­is­ter was on four is­sues: first, Armed Forces be en­dowed with and equipped to per­form their du­ties with best avail­able equip­ment; two, ma­jor role for ‘Make in In­dia’, In­dia be­ing ma­jor de­fence pro­curer; three, wel­fare of sol­diers and fam­i­lies en­sur­ing sol­diers in tough­est bor­ders and chal­leng­ing zones re­main as­sured their in­ter­ests are be­ing taken care of, and; four, ad­dress all long-pend­ing is­sues.

In an anal­y­sis, Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch has said that Nir­mala Sithara­man hold­ing charge of Min­istry of Com­merce & In­dus­try had overview of the pa­thetic state of equip­ping of the mil­i­tary; the chapter on de­fence on of­fi­cial web­site of Min­istry of Com­merce & In­dus­try in 2014 read­ing 50 per cent of equip­ment held by the our mil­i­tary ob­so­lete and 33 per cent pro­vided by the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) sub-stan­dard. With de­fence ne­glected, the De­fence Min­is­ter has mul­ti­ple chal­lenges be­fore her. The mil­i­tary needs syn­er­gised re­or­gan­i­sa­tion hor­i­zon­tally and ver­ti­cally, tak­ing into ac­count threats to na­tional se­cu­rity and suit­ing hy­brid war­fare re­quire­ments.

The Min­is­ter had a re­cent meet­ing with the US De­fence Sec­re­tary, James Mat­tis and the former came out trumps when she made it clear that In­dia will not send troops to war-torn Afghanistan, but pledged to help the trou­bled coun­try build in­fra­struc­ture and stamp out ter­ror­ist safe havens. The an­nounce­ment clears the gov­ern­ment’s stand in the back­drop of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s speech where he had urged In­dia to as­sist ef­forts to re­store se­cu­rity in Afghanistan. “There shall not be boots from In­dia on the ground in Afghanistan,” Mrs. Sithara­man had said.

In this is­sue, we have an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Mar­shal B.S. Dhanoa who has stated that the In­dian Air Force has got the top of the line high end sys­tems, medium tech­nol­ogy and also low tech­nol­ogy air­craft like MiG-21. All the medium tech­nol­ogy plat­forms that In­dia got in early 1980s like – MiG-29, Mi­rage, and the Jaguar have been up­graded and they are com­pa­ra­ble to any fourth-gen­er­a­tion air­craft as far as avion­ics is con­cerned. “Now In­dia was go­ing in for cut­ting edge tech­nol­ogy. We al­ready have the cut­ting edge tech­nol­ogy in Rafale, S400 and MRSAM . The In­dia Air force has a mix of all three tech­nolo­gies.”

In an ar­ti­cle, the former Air Chief, Air Chief Mar­shal P.V. Naik (Retd) has stated that the sin­gle thought that must pre­vail in our minds is that Kash­mir is an in­te­gral part of In­dia and it is our sa­cred duty to re­store the Val­ley to its pris­tine con­di­tion. “Hard de­ci­sions will have to be taken, some out of the box, but our re­solve must not wa­ver. I have mostly spo­ken of things mil­i­tary but the sit­u­a­tion de­mands strong po­lit­i­cal will and pub­lic sup­port. It de­mands im­prov­ing outreach to peo­ple and im­proved gov­er­nance. It de­mands some­thing which other peo­ple feel we as a na­tion lack – Ruth­less­ness.”

These ar­ti­cles and more in this is­sue. Happy read­ing !

Jayant Baran­wal Pub­lisher & Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

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