Analysing India's Defense Preparedness
The tempers have risen in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. The attacks brought a renewed attention to India's defense preparedness and capabilities. Even as I am writing this blog, Pakistan is expected to give its reply to the Indian dossier. As per the reports, there is nothing new in the reply and Pakistan is going to simply deny the Indian charges. Surely, the coercive diplomacy hasn't yielded any major results.
So what are the other options before India. According to the Asia Times Online article, the military option is certainly not there. Not just because of threat of Nuclear weapons but because of the lack of preparedness. In fact the article mentioned above claims that it was Indian Army that had backed out of a full scale. This isn't something new that we are hearing. India's last major military conflict was Kargil, about 10 years. Kargil review committee had also raised several questions. the Israeli Ambassador in New Delhi, Mark Sofer, has said that his country had assisted India in 'turning around' the situation during the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan.
Kargil war was a narrow miss for India. It happened between May-July 1999. Had we not received Israel's support, the outcome wouldn't have been the same. Especially because winters were fast approaching and it would have been virtually impossible to continue with the conflict because enemy had an advantage of height. This would have given adequate time to the Pakistanis to build adequate defenses. Israel is surely a key ally for India, and it wasn't really a co-incidence that there were not too many harsh statements from Indian Govt in response to the Israeli invasion of Gaza.
If we look back at even earlier times, during the 1962 War, India did not fully use its air-power even though it was much more advanced than the Chinese and could have easily slowed their movements.
But have we really learned anything from the past and are we prepared for the future challenges? Sadly, the answer is a NO. India's defense modernization plan is stuck under red-tape and numerous delays. For example - Following the Bofors Gun scandal, no subsequent Govt. had the guts to acquire this gun even though it has proved its worth and was even instrumental during the Kargil conflict.The Arjun Tank, LCA and other important project with the DRDO are miles away from induction. Even the recent BrahMos missile failed its induction test.
India has historically depended on Russia for its arms supply. However, lately there has been blatant arm-twisting by the Russians on the Gorshkov and the LCA engines. It is therefore important for to move out from the Russian claws. The Russian weapon systems are no more cost effective, while their quality control and delivery schedules have always been unreliable.
India's defense spending recently fell below 2% of its GDP, far below 3-3.5% of GDP which is considered to be safe. This is much lower when compared to its neighbors such as China and Pakistan who spend close to 5% of their GDP on defense. China recently got the capability to shoot down spy satellites and also successfully sent a man to space. On the other hand, India's space program continues to largely civilian oriented. China has already build up a good road infrastructure along its borders with India and thus is in a much better prepared.
Turning attention to our internal security, the situation is once extremely bad. Naxalism continues to remain the biggest threat. But we are not tackling it politically. Chattisgarh will raise an elite commando unit on the lines of the Greyhounds(Source). But this wouldn't solve the real issues. The Bangladeshi refugee continue to remain a big security threat for us. Many of them have been in the country for almost 30 years and have even acquired voter cards. Unfortunately, this matter is being politicized by the so called secular forces. Most of the Bangladeshi refugee are Muslims and thus are steady vote bank for them. Other than BJP, none of the parties have really raised this issue. POTA which was brought in by the BJP was branded as anti-Muslim. Now the Congress Govt. has brought in a new anti-terror law, which not quite different from POTA.
I can understand that we are a developing nation and have only a limited budget when it comes to defense spending, but surely we can spend the money allocated to defense in a much more efficient manner. Moreover, at least on matters such as defense and internal security, our politicians should show some amount of consensus.
Analysing India's Defense Preparedness
- » Published on February 10, 2009
- » Type: Opinion
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