Defence and Security

Technological and Strategic Implications of MTCR for India

Brig Arun Sahgal, PhD

India on Monday qualified to become member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), when the deadline for objection to Indian application expired without any member raising objections, in what is being termed as “silent procedure”. Under the silent procedure lack of objection automatically qualifies an applicant to be a member. India has been in pursuit to join major non-proliferation regimes for two reasons, legitimize its position as a responsible stake holder outside the NPT and more importantly get access to cutting edge technologies to enhance its strategic programmes.

MTCR is one of the four non-proliferation regimes, enacted by group of nations controlling sensitive technologies as part of global non-proliferation effort. The other three are: the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia Group and the Nuclear Supplier Group. The Wassenaar Arrangement deals with export control of conventional arms and related dual use technologies. Australia Group focuses on controls on technologies related to chemical and biological weapons. Lastly and most importantly the Nuclear Supplier Group a grouping of 41 countries that seeks to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials including fuels.
What is MTCR?

MTCR is essentially an export control regime comprising 34 nations with four permanent adherents; Israel, Moldavia, Slovakia and Macedonia, aimed at preventing proliferation of range of equipment pertaining to missile development, production and operations. Prohibited materials are divided into two Categories. Category I systems include missiles, drones and cruise missiles, with payload capacities exceeding 500 Kg and ranges beyond 300 Kms. Category II includes systems not covered in Category I, such as rocket systems (including ballistic missiles systems, space launch vehicles and sounding rockets) and unmanned air vehicles (including cruise missile systems, target drones, and reconnaissance drones etc.). These are subject to same limitations of payload weight and distance as Category I. This category in addition includes a wide range of equipment, material, and technologies, most of which have uses other than for missiles capable of delivering WMD .

India’s relatively smooth entry to a large extent was facilitated by Italy forsaking its veto post resolution of Italian marine controversy and more importantly China which is currently at the forefront of preventing Indian entry into NSG not being a member. Interestingly China although self appointed adherent, applied for MTCR membership in 2004, which was denied owing to its dubious export control records and commitments . China was found to be in violation of MTCR provisions in exporting missile technologies to both Pakistan and North Korea. Both countries missile programs have developed largely on account of Chinese support and munificence. Pakistani cruise and IRBM programs which include ‘Babur’ and Raad’, cruise missiles and Ghauri and Shaeen IRBM’s owe their success largely to design and technologies provided by China.

Implications of MTCR Membership for India

Post 1998 nuclear tests sanctions were slapped on India and critical technologies denied. To illustrate the point three specific cases are discussed.

First is the case of proposed sale of “Arrow II” theatre missile defence interceptor from Israel as part of our attempt to develop indigenous “Ballistic Missile Defence”. The transfer of both the missiles and technology was subject to US approval owing to its contributions in the development of the interceptor technology of the “Arrow II” system. The then US Administration taking its commitment to MTCR guidelines and the possible consequences of such transfers on missile defence cooperation with other states forced Israel to decline the sale even though Israel was willing .

Second is the sale of cryogenic engines and technology from Russia. By late 1980’s US space and strategic community began to conclude that India could be pursuing strategic ICBM program that could pose long term threat to the United States. This programme based on Agni IV/V series or what the American called the “Surya” missiles was thought to be using two stages of PSLV with strapped on third stage derived either from French ‘Victor’ rocket or cryogenic engines from Russia. Russia agreed to supply India both engines and ‘upper stage’ technology (Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle or GSLV). The US concerned that this will provide India with a powerful ICBM capability with ranges far exceeding 5000 Km with the ability to strike continental US slapped sanctions on both India and Russia in 1990. These were lifted only in 1993 after Russia agreed not to supply cryogenic technology to India and restrict sale to few cryogenic engines . It is another matter that this allowed India to master cryogenic technology on its own and today it is in a position to launch heavy satellites in space that in future could include manned space missions.

Technology Perspective

Before specifying technological gains for India it is important to highlight obligations under the regime. First is the issue concerning export controls? India will have to not only abide by export control norms specified in the regime but more importantly bring changes to its own export control laws to meet MTCR obligations. It could be a double edged issue which on one hand could restrict Indian exports to non MTCR countries on the other it will make technological access easy owing to complimentary obligations and export control commitments.

Once India is admitted into the Group, all such cases of transfers of technology will not face sanctions and technically India will be in a position to import and export missile and drone technologies. This does not however mean blanket availability; countries controlling technologies will make both political and strategic judgments in terms of impact of the technologies and the end user concerns, in the final analysis it will be a dominant political decision facilitated by larger geo strategic calculations.

It is in the above context, mutuality of strategic interests and growing Indo – US defence relations as a major defence partner could assist India in getting cutting edge technologies which would not have been possible earlier. To highlight the issue sight two specific cases.

India has been developing long endurance drones namely “Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE)” and “High Altitude Long Endurance Drones (HALE)” called Rustom I and II with on station endurance capabilities from weeks to a month. India has been facing some critical technological issues in their development. With India now being member of the MTCR group and even more importantly major defence partner it will be possible to get these technologies from the US or to collaborate with other MTCR partners in seeking those technologies.
Next is the cruise missile technology. No doubt India is justifiably proud of its supersonic jointly India – Russian developed “Brahmos” cruise missile, however it’s range had to be perforce curtailed to under 300 Km to meet the norms of the MTCR as India was not a member. Today it is the only operational cruise missile apart from limited import of Klub missiles for the navy which too adhere to MTCR norms. Pakistan on the other hand shorn of any such restrictions developed 400 Km range Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) Babur and 700 Km range Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) Raad with active Chinese support and technology both being non members. Similarly China has developed multiple air, sea and land attack cruise missiles with ranges of over 1500 Km and today form an integral pat of its AA/AD strategy.
In India’s case indigenous development of “Nirbhay” cruise missile of proposed 1000 Km plus range has been delayed owing to several technological limitations. Theoretically it will now be possible to bridge these technological gaps with technology transfers from US and others.

Another issue is the proposed sale of “Brahmos” to Vietnam and other countries. With both India and Russia being member states it will draw little attention. To that extent help in meeting Indian arms export targets an important aspect of the current governments defence policy. No doubt however that such sale will be subject of larger geo strategic calculations in particular regional geo strategic calculations. This is something that India alone will take a call, based on its regional interests. China factor as it is sought to be played in the above specific sale has little relevance as China itself has not hesitated in providing similar and more lethal weapons to Pakistan and other Indian neighbours.

There has also been much hype in the media about the MTCR clearing sale of Predators to India. Two issues are important, one as mentioned above if indigenous drones ‘Rustom’s’ technological problems can be resolved under DTTI or other bilateral initiatives then there maybe requirement at best to buy limited number of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles either of Predator variety or Heron TP from Israel as an interim arrangement. Indian interest should not be so much in a particular system but technology. There is however no doubt that India needs multiple variety and range of drones whose development can best be expedited thru easier technology imports.

Finally it is important to note admission into MTCR is a major development that will give a fillip to India’s indigenous missile and space programs. More importantly it recognizes India being a credible stakeholder. Actual transfer of technologies nevertheless will be subject to number of political and constraints of balance of power equations. To that extent, MTCR only opens doors and needs to be seen as a technology facilitator.

Unconventional War

By Dr. Arvind Virmani


State sponsored Terrorism is unconventional War. Unconventional war can only be won by asymmetric/unconventional means: Different Strategy, tactics, weapons, training, resources. It will be a grave mistake to try & fight such a long term unconventional war with conventional means such as complete mobilization or the fabled Cold Start Doctrine. Armed forces and security agencies need new thinking and approach and completely different level of human resources & training and type & quality of equipment from the conventional. For instance the use of Aerostats equipped with infrared cameras to detect infiltration and use of armed drones to attack terrorists, instead of Hercules aircraft for detection (used in Pathankot) or attack helicopters to detect & attack them.
Asymmetric Defense
Given the entrenched conventional Defense thinking in the three services, para-military border forces, State police, politicians media & intelligentsia, we need an Asymmetric Defense doctrine (ADS) to give all players broad guidance on how to approach this issue. The National Security Advisor should anchor and guide the formulation of such a doctrine and ensure co-ordination, integration & effectiveness of the diverse elements of unconventional Defense. The creation of an empowered Chief of Defense Staff (4 star CDS) with responsibility for strategic planning, HRD & equipment acquisition decisions, would help accelerate the change. There are arguments for and against the creation of a Special Forces Command under the CDS, given that each branch already has its own special forces. However, a special department/division for unconventional/asymmetric warfare is needed within the Integrated defense Staff (IDS), which includes designated posts for RAW and other intelligence agencies. Its first task could be to develop an Asymmetric Defense Strategy (ADS). As noted earlier this may requires unconventional ways of thinking and operating that are alien to regular armed forces. Under the guidance of the NSA, it could also sort out some of the operational issues (such as co-ordination) that arise in case of a terrorist attack on a defense installation or area & develop SOPs for the same.
Formation of the Triad of counter terror (CT) institutions: NIA, NATGRID, NCTC is needed to improve internal defense. A review of intelligence institutions may, however, suggest greater integration of overlapping functions through fewer organizations.
The foundation of unconventional Defense is precise actionable intelligence. We need a quantum jump in capability across Asia (central, west & east). For instance the quality of intelligence required to carry out a precision drone strike is higher than the average quality of intelligence currently available, even for S Asia. Local language competence/skills and cultural understanding are essential for obtaining good intelligence and for recruitment of assets. The capabilities of RAW must be strengthened to deal with State sponsored terrorism as well as potential future threats from Middle East & North Africa. Central Asia and South East Asia must not be underestimated as potential geographies for intelligence.
A critical (new) aspect of asymmetric war is the public narrative, domestic & international. Media is a fundamental theater of unconventional war. Indian media barons, anchors & personalities, must educate themselves on this issue & then educate the Indian public about unconventional/asymmetric war that we have faced for >20 yrs & how to counter it. For instance, it is well recognized that an important objective of terrorism is to create panic & uncertainty and instill fear and paranoia in the population. Therefore the calmness and collectedness with which the government and all other institutions of democracy and society function during such an attack is a measure of our success. Thus it is a mark of their failure when the PM and Cabinet ministers are able to go about their schedule business without interruption.
The media is an important instrument for creating & influencing public, political and intellectual opinion in democratic countries (including India & USA). An important element of Pakistan’s media game plan is to convince its targeted audience that it is more sincere in its search for peace than India, despite its periodic nuclear saber rattling and continued sponsorship of cross-border terrorism. The complex game of India-Pakistan talks, including subjects to be discussed and how, which country cancelled, started or restarted talks, is a tactical tool for achieving its public relations objective. Both war mongering and peace mongering (e.g. criticism of Indian government instead of Pakistan for stalled talks) helps support Pakistan’s media narrative. A balanced approach by discussants and analysts on Indian media, supports India’s National interests.
Diplomacy is a vital element of how other countries, their foreign policy experts and informed global public opinion perceives terrorism carried out against us. Thus Pakistan has successfully convinced the US, many of its allies and Indian track II participants, that (a) General Kayani’s policy of tacitly allowing extreme Islamism to flourish under his charge, has been replaced by General Sharif’s policy of countering internal terrorism & extremism. (b) It is the hard line attitude/approach of PM Modi & his hard-line supporters that is the main roadblock to India-Pakistan peace [not Pakistan’s unchanged strategy of terrorism (by pet terrorists like Let, JeM & HeM) under the nuclear umbrella].
PM Modi’s surprising halt in Lahore, the discussions leading up to it, and the subsequent terrorist assault on Pathankot Air base has given the lie to this false narrative. Indian diplomacy and media must ensure that global public opinion understands & appreciates this point. Indian strategic interlocutors must also ensure that we get the equipment (e.g. armed drones) and technology needed to deal with cross-border terrorism.
A long term perspective is essential for dealing with an opponent whose long term objective is to undermine India’s Strategic position in the region and whose Medium term objective is territorial aggrandizement. Short term revenge cannot & must not be our objective. Our primary goal is deterrence of terror. But terror will only cease when it entails unacceptable asymmetric cost on the sponsors of terror against us. Acquisition and demonstration of the capability for doing so, is long overdue and must be achieved by 2018 end. The National Security Advisor and to some extent his boss will be judged on their success in this matter during the 2019 election.

Dr Arvind Virmani, Chairman Policy Foundation
January 8, 2016

Defence Minister’s One Year Positive Record

By Brig Gurmeet Kanwal, Visiting Fellow, VIF

During his first year in office, Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar gave a free hand to the army to act pro-actively on the LoC. He led from the front and worked closely with the leadership of the armed forces, the bureaucracy and his counterparts in the other ministries to put defence preparedness back on the rails and give a fillip to the stalled process of military modernisation. He put to use his management skills to set the right priorities for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the armed forces and the results have been good. However, defence preparedness and military modernisation continue to need his urgent attention.
The foremost item on the Defence Minister’s agenda for the NDA government’s remaining years in office should be to hasten the process of addressing the ‘critical hollowness’ plaguing defence preparedness – a term used by General V K Singh, the COAS, in the letter he wrote as COAS to the then Prime Minister in May 2012. Major operational voids in the war establishment of the three must be made up early in order to optimise combat efficiency.
Large-scale deficiencies in ammunition and important items of equipment continue to hinder readiness for war and the ability to sustain operations over anticipated time periods. The army reportedly has some varieties of ammunition for barely ten days of conflict and it will cost Rs 19,000 core to replenish stocks. It will be recalled that during the Kargil conflict in 1999, as many as 50,000 rounds of Bofors ammunition had to be imported from South Africa. The occurrence of such a situation during a time of crisis must be avoided through a prudent replenishment and stocking policy.
Modern wars are fought mostly during the hours of darkness, but most of the infantry battalions and many of the armoured fighting vehicles – tanks and infantry combat vehicles – are still ‘night blind’. Warships, submarines, fighter aircraft, light helicopters, artillery guns, ground-based air defence, command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, are either held in inadequate numbers or bordering on obsolescence.
Among the structural reforms that need to be implemented in an early time frame the most important issue is the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). This appointment was first recommended by the Arun Singh committee on defence expenditure in the early 1990s, and then by the Group of Ministers led by Mr. L K Advani that reviewed the recommendations of the four task forces on the management of national security, assembled following the submission of the Kargil Review Committee report. This crucial appointment has been hanging fire due to the want of a political consensus and differences within the armed forces. Recently, the Naresh Chandra committee has recommended the appointment of a permanent Chairman of the CoSC as a more acceptable alternative.
The appointment of a CDS should be followed a few years down the line by the raising of tri-Service integrated theatre commands so as to ensure the ‘joint’ formulation and execution of operational plans. It has now been accepted by all modern militaries that ‘jointness’ or ‘jointmanship’ leads to the optimisation of single-Service combat capabilities. Also, the Army, Navy and Air Force HQ have been only notionally integrated with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and are still ‘attached offices’ for all practical purposes. The civil-military heartburn and the consequent weakness in functioning caused by this lacuna must be removed forthwith.
Modernisation of the armed forces has been stagnating due to the inadequacy of funds, the black-listing of several defence manufacturers and bureaucratic red tape. The Defence Minister has taken positive steps on these issues. Approval of necessity (AON) has been accorded to defence acquisition projects worth approximately Rs 100,000 crore. Though only a few contracts have actually been signed, including the purchase of Apache attack helicopters and Chinook medium lift helicopters, the process has been set in motion.
The issue of black listing has been addressed by instituting a system of penalties for the infringement of rules. A committee led by Dhirendra Singh, former Home Secretary, was appointed to review the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). The Minister has begun to implement its recommendations in earnest. For example, the policy on offsets has been reviewed and several pragmatic amendments have been made.
The armed forces are now in the fourth year of the 12th Defence Plan (2012-17). It has still not been formally approved with full financial backing by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The government has also not formally approved the long-term integrated perspective plan (LTIPP 2007-22) formulated by HQ Integrated Defence Staff. Without these essential approvals, defence procurement is being undertaken through ad hoc annual procurement plans, rather than being based on duly prioritised long-term plans that are designed to systematically enhance India’s combat potential. These are serious lacunae as effective defence planning cannot be undertaken in a policy void. The government must commit itself to supporting long-term defence plans.
The government must relinquish its monopoly on defence research and development (R&D). The DRDO should undertake research in strategic technologies that even the closest strategic partners are unwilling to share; e.g. ballistic missile defence technology. The MoD should progressively move away from its excessive reliance on the inefficient public sector for defence production. The defence PSUs should be gradually privatised to make them more efficient and quality conscious.
The private sector must be encouraged and incentivised to contribute to the national quest for self-reliance in defence production. Through the implementation of the Prime Minister’s vision to ‘make in India’, plans for military modernisation must lead to substantive upgradation of India’s defence technology base and manufacturing capability, or else the country’s defence procurement will remain mired in disadvantageous buyer-seller, patron-client relationships. No new defence acquisition should be undertaken without insisting on the transfer of technology (ToT).
The NDA government has done well to announce its intention to allow defence exports. Formal instructions to give effect to this policy should be issued early and it should be ensured that India abides by the provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty even though it is not a signatory to the treaty. The national aim should be to make India a design, development, manufacturing and export hub for weapons systems and other defence equipment in the next 10 to 15 years in conjunction with the country’s strategic partners.
Financial management too needs a major overhaul. The defence budget has dipped 1.74 per cent of the country’s GDP despite the fact that Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence and the armed forces have repeatedly recommended that it should be raised progressively to 3.0 per cent of the GDP if India is to build the defence capabilities that it needs to meet future threats and challenges and discharge its growing responsibilities as a regional power in Southern Asia. The budgetary allocations earmarked on the capital account for the modernisation of the armed forces will continue to be surrendered unless the government sets up a rolling, non-lapsable defence modernisation fund of about Rs 1,00,000 crore under the Consolidated Fund of India.
The relatively softer issues that can adversely affect the morale of soldiers, sailors and airmen have also got the Defence Minister’s attention. Approval has been accorded for the construction of a National War Memorial at India Gate in New Delhi and for the long-pending ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) proposal, though not to the satisfaction of the Veterans. To his credit, the Minister has taken steps to reduce the number of cases that the MoD is fighting in various courts against retired armed forces personnel, especially those against disabled Veterans.
Key personnel issues that merit the Minister’s attention include the large-scale shortage of officers and the grossly inadequate availability of accommodation for married personnel. The Defence Minister must also make certain that the Seventh Pay Commission resolves all the anomalies of the last two pay commissions that have led to disaffection in the armed forces and have added to the civil-military divide.
Overall, in his first year in office, the Defence Minister has gained the confidence of the armed forces, shaken the MoD bureaucracy out of its decade-long slumber and initiated several policy measures that will enhance defence preparedness. He has also succeeded in giving a much needed fillip to military modernisation. He follows an informal approach, consults widely, encourages discussion and is quick at decision making – hallmarks of good leadership. He is likely to continue to strive towards enhancing defence preparedness and giving the highest priority to undertaking military modernisation.
The writer is Visiting Fellow, VIF, and former Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi.

Courtesy: VIF Website

Fighting the Islamic State: Role of the P-5 Nations and India

By Gurmeet Kanwal
November 23, 2015

In the course of one week in November 2015, militants from Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate – also called ISIS, ISIL and Daesh – struck multiple targets in Beirut, Paris and Mali. Earlier, on October 31, ISIS claimed to have brought down a Russian civilian aircraft flying from Sharm al-Sheikh to St. Petersburg.

The ISIS militia, numbering between 20,000 and 30,000, now controls approximately 300,000 square kilometre of territory straddling the Syria-Iraq border. Its brand of fundamentalist terrorism is gradually spreading beyond West Asia and the militia is slowly but surely gaining ground. In Africa, ISIS fighters and their associates have been active in Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, South Sudan and Tunisia in recent months. Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group in Nigeria, has pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Fighting Back
Recent acts of terrorism have steeled the resolve of the international community. Significant help is being provided to the government of Iraq by the US and its allies. The Peshmerga, forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) which had captured oil-rich Kirkuk, have joined the fight against the ISIS and recaptured the Syrian (Kurdish) border town of Kobani.

The US began launching air strikes against the ISIS militia about a year ago, while simultaneously arming anti-Assad forces like the Free Syrian Army with a view to bringing about a regime change in Syria. The US has been joined in this endeavour by Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France and Netherlands as well as five Arab countries (Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates). The air strikes have resulted in substantial collateral damage. It is being gradually realised that the ISIS militia cannot be defeated from the air alone.

Putin’s Russia joined the fight on September 30, 2015 with the twin aims of defeating the ISIS and destroying anti-Assad forces. However, the initial air strikes launched by the Russian Air Force were directed mainly against the forces opposed to President Assad of Syria. Russian ground troops are also expected to join the fight soon. The Russians have also descended on Baghdad to establish a military intelligence coordination cell jointly with Iran, Iraq and Syria – a move that has not been appreciated by the Americans.

In a rare show of unity after the Paris attacks, the United Nations Security Council passed a unanimous resolution stating that “The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security,” and called upon all member states to join the fight against the ISIS.

Diplomatic moves have been initiated to coordinate operations and work together for peace and stability in the region. The US and Russia agree that the objective of their interventions should be to end the civil war in Syria through a political deal and that both Iraq and Syria should retain their territorial integrity. They also agree that the ISIS extremists must be completely eliminated. Iran has agreed to join the negotiations to resolve the conflict in Syria. However, while the political objectives are similar, the methods being used to achieve them are different and are designed to extend the influence of each of the protagonists in the region.

Implications for South Asia
Al-Baghdadi has openly proclaimed the intention of ISIS to expand eastwards to establish the Islamic state of Khorasan that would include Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics, eastern Iran and Pakistan. The final battle, Ghazwa-e-Hind – a term from Islamic mythology – will be fought to extend the caliphate to India. An ISIS branch has already been established in the Subcontinent. It is led by Muhsin al Fadhli and is based somewhere in Pakistan. Some factions of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan have declared their allegiance to al-Baghdadi. Afghanistan’s new National Security Adviser, Mohammad Hanif Atmar, has said that the presence of Daesh or the ISIS is growing and that the group poses a threat to Afghan security. And, some ISIS flags have been seen sporadically in Srinagar.

Instability and major power rivalry in West Asia do not augur well for India’s national security and economic interests. Combined with the increase in force levels in the Indian Ocean, the heightened tensions in West Asia may ultimately lead to a spill-over of the conflict to adjacent areas. India now imports almost 75 per cent of the oil required to fuel its growing economy and most of it comes from the Gulf. The long-drawn conflicts of the last two decades of the 20th century had forced India to buy oil at far greater cost from distant markets, with no assurance of guaranteed supplies. The 1991 oil shock had almost completely wrecked India’s foreign exchange reserves. The situation could again become critical. Oil prices had shot up to USD 115 per barrel in June 2014, soon after the Caliphate was proclaimed, but have since stabilised around USD 50 to 60 per barrel.

Since the early 1970s, Indian companies have been winning a large number of contracts to execute turnkey projects in West Asia. The conflict in the region has virtually sealed the prospects of any new contracts being agreed to. Also, payments for ongoing projects are not being made on schedule, leading to un-absorbable losses for Indian firms involved, and a dwindling foreign exchange income from the region.

India also has a large Diaspora in West Asia. A large number of Indian workers continue to be employed in West Asia and their security is a major concern for the government. Some Indian nurses had been taken hostage by ISIS fighters, but were released unharmed. All of these together constitute important national interests, but cannot be classified as ‘vital’ interests. By definition, vital national interests must be defended by employing military force if necessary.

US officials have been dropping broad hints to the effect that India should join the US and its allies in fighting ISIS as it poses a long-term threat to India as well. India had been invited to send an infantry division to fight alongside the US-led Coalition in Iraq in 2003. The Vajpayee government had wisely declined to get involved at that time as it was not a vital interest.

It must also be noted that India has the world’s third largest Muslim population. Indian Muslims have remained detached from the ultra-radical ISIS and its aims and objectives, except for a handful of misguided youth who are reported to have signed up to fight. This could change if India sends armed forces to join the US-led coalition to fight the ISIS militia.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed at the G-20 summit in Antalya last week that the war against terrorism must isolate and contain the sponsors and supporters of terrorism. He clearly implied that India is willing to join the international coalition against the ISIS and other non-state actors. Besides contributing to the global war against terrorism, India’s participation would help to isolate the Pakistan Army and the ISI – the foremost state sponsors of terrorism.

Direct Indian military intervention against the ISIS militia would depend on the manner in which the situation unfolds over the next one year. It could become necessary if ISIS is able to extend the area controlled by it to the Persian Gulf as that would affect the supply of oil and gas from the Persian Gulf to India – clearly a vital national interest. For the time being, India should cooperate closely with the international community by way of sharing information and intelligence and providing logistics support like port facilities if asked for. India should also provide full diplomatic support and work with the United Nations for evolving a consensual approach in the fight against the ISIS.

A concerted international effort is needed to first contain and then comprehensively defeat the ISIS and stabilise Iraq and Syria, failing which the consequences will be disastrous not only for the region, but also for most of the rest of Asia and Europe. Helping the regional players to gradually eliminate the root causes of instability will not be an easy challenge for the international community to address. As an emerging power sharing a littoral with the region, India has an important role to play in acting as a catalyst for West Asian stability.

The author is former Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi.

Courtesy: IDSA Website

The Game Changer

A look at DTTI, an important element in building deeper Indo-US defence ties

By Brig. Arun Sahgal (retd)

Defence Technology Transfer Initiative (DTTI) has emerged as the centrepiece to build deeper Indo–US defence cooperation. The initiative, which is part of a recently signed Defence Framework Agreement 2015, is aimed at assisting India in creating a strong defence industrial base and concomitant ecosystem. The broad objectives are:
• Strengthen bilateral relationship to strategic levels, given the converging strategic interests of both the countries in Asia-Pacific.
• Assist India in developing credible military capability to support both countries’ regional interests.
• Help strengthen Indian defence industrial base through technology transfer or sharing on the basis of co-development and co-production.
Both India and the US are committed to push this unique initiative that aims at moving bilateral relationship to a higher strategic trajectory. As mentioned earlier, the overall objective is to provide cutting edge defence technologies that include both co-production and more importantly, co-development. Both sides have taken nascent steps in identifying some path-breaking technologies essentially aimed at pushing the process forward. Based on interactions with stakeholders on the Indian side, there is a clear commitment to move forward. Despite these positive developments there, however, exist some perceptional gap both in terms of understanding what DTTI means in practical terms and future roadmap.

Indian perspective is being shaped by the growing asymmetry against China and declining conventional edge vis-a-vis Pakistan, primarily owing to lackadaisical modernisation and complete lack of transformational effort.

Capability development is suffering on account of acquisition oriented decisions based on long-winded and dodgy qualitative requirements, and excruciatingly time-consuming processes, hampered by corruption. Seen in broader strategic construct, this is taking its toll in denying Indian military the capabilities required to emerge as a net regional security provider. It is against this backdrop India looks at the initiative in addressing India’s critical ‘technological’ needs.

Indian Perspective of DTTI
Indian defence ministry remains committed to the concept of DTTI as a means of gaining critical strategic technologies from the US that will help propel India’s defence industrial ecosystem towards self-sufficiency, addressing critical technological needs, what with India emerging as an arms developer and exporter from being arms acquirer over a period of time.

For the Indian ministry of defence (MoD), DTTI represents a commitment by the US in assisting India build a credible defence industrial base and capability through hi-technology infusion. Thus, it looks upon DTTI as the route to getting critical technologies that they are finding difficult to indigenise, or time consuming, for e.g. up-gradation of GE 414 for Tejas Mk II.

This thinking is driven by the core ‘Make in India’ perspective, the sole purpose of which is to ‘manufacture or assemble’ big-ticket projects in India with technology absorption from abroad. Hence, the interest in critical game-changing technologies like gas turbine engines for aircraft, nuclear propulsion technology, Electro Magnetic Aircraft Launch System, etc.

In working the DTTI initiative, nonetheless, there are apprehensions with regard to technologies on offer and the constraints of the US arms control laws. In the perception of the MoD the whole initiative appears to be US industry driven and not so much as an American government initiative. This perception is based on the fact that out of earlier 17 technologies on offer 12 were industry driven, four by the US government and only one joint R&D and subsequent production. Whereas there is acceptance that the majority of technologies are incubated in the private sector, however, it is argued that for development of credible bilateral relations, the US government would need to push these companies for technology transfer co–production initiatives. Simply put, the perception that the US government has no hold on these MNCs is not bought, as a large number of development funding are provided by the US government which also decides on export control laws.

(Courtesy: Force Magazine)

Responding to Pakistan’s Challenge

By Brig. Arun Sahgal

Reams are being written about lack of India’s Pakistan policy or more specifically policy to impose costs for waging relentless proxy war through terrorist organizations, subversion in Kashmir and indigenous Indian organizations like SIMI and IM. These terrorist outfits are being subverted by ideologically driven radicalism.

This is coming about in the face of open provocations by the likes of Hamid Gul who are challenging India to respond in kind if it has the gumption. NSA, in his recent remarks in Mumbai has talked about ‘proportionate response’ to Pakistani provocations but the larger question is options in the face of calculated Pakistan strategy of provoking India.

Years of neglect and impervious political decision making has resulted in non development of credible asymmetric capabilities even as Pakistan continues to blame India for activities in Karachi or Baluchistan. There is no point in crying over spilt milk, these asymmetric capabilities will require time and political resolve to develop. This leaves India very much with the option of punitive conventional response. There is a tendency among the strategic community which percolates to policy makers that conventional Indian response that could provoke Pakistan’s nuclear thresholds. This notion needs detailed analysis and Pakistan’s bluff called.

India needs to unequivocally declare that India’s see’s unabated proxy war as breakdown of conventional deterrence and reserves the right to appropriate military response. Mere articulation will not be enough? India’s standoff military or what is euphemistically called “non contact” capabilities must be exploited and demonstrated. This will require close coordination between intelligence agencies and the armed forces. Possible option could be targeting various elements of terror network and their support structures which can be internationally highlighted as state sponsored. No doubt there will be noise and brinkmanship by Pakistan and even some military action, it will be important for Indian state to not only ride these out but inflict retaliatory punitive costs. What is being proposed is cross border strikes on targets (not merely camps) which India believes supports the terror network.

Second is developing capability and capacities for “Myanmar Raid” like operation. Action will be required to degrade surveillance and communication systems, backed by credible force insertion capability. Without going into too much details idea is to demonstrate will and resolve. These actions must be initiated in the backdrop of limited mobilization of conventional forces and quick response if so required. There is no doubt that Pakistan will respond by some sort of military action however surprise and speed of action backed by credible retaliatory capability will provide requites payoffs. This will require orchestration of operations both at military and national levels including diplomatic shaping of environment. The notion that Pakistan is operating on interior lines is a myth. With recent redeployments in Northern and Western commands adequate forces are available for quick response backed by credible and deterrent air power, which must be the backbone given are relative air superiority.
There are many other options which can be considered to demonstrate Indian will and resolve. These no doubt have escalatory nuances, but what is the point of raving about conventional superiority if it cannot be leveraged. There is perception in Pakistani military elites whom the author has been meeting in Track II Dialogues over last three years that India has no response to proxy war and conventional escalation can be checkmated by battlefield nuclear weapons. It is this myth India will have to challenge and debase. No doubt it carries a risk but sooner than later Indian state will have to demonstrate this resolve if it does want to be subsumed by rising tide of radicalism and Pakistan’s state sponsored terror. If any lessons are to be drawn we should look at what happened in 1971 war and how Pakistani forces capitulated against Indian manoeuvre and resolve. The doctrine of ‘retribution’ already stands vindicated in the NATO and American air strikes against ISIL in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
Perception of Sino – Pak collusion is overplayed particularly the two front war. Chinese are pragmatic; they realize the scenario of ongoing India – Pakistan confrontation is going to be harmful to its one road – one belt policy on which hinges its economic development and extended sphere of influence. Any precipitate action by Chinese will surely and firmly push India into American camp a development which will be grievous to its Asian and global ambitions. Pakistan it must be realized is a bit player with nuclear weapons, who’s utility in the “Great Asian Game” at best is marginal. From Chinese perspective strong Indian economic and military power which is antagonistic to China will be antithesis to its ambitions. Therefore it will be nuanced player which can be balanced by broader Indo – Pacific partnerships that India is attempting to evolve. Put simply there are limits to which China will go in supporting Pakistan?

So coming back to Pakistan, I am afraid in the developing scenario, India should go through the current round of bilateral negotiations with Pakistan impressing upon them the consequences of its support to cross border terror and the proxy war. It is very unlikely Pakistan will take heed, knowing a little about their thinking and mindset. It is when they try and exploit our perceived weakness India should retaliate suddenly, resolutely and without respite. Message of retribution and costs must be driven home.

Last word; such a policy or option cannot succeed without bipartisan support. This is an imperative. In its resolve to take military action perpetrated by Pakistan; nation must stand firm and united. Unless we develop such credible response capability and political resolve India will continue to bleed not only in J&K or Punjab but across its length and breadth. Indian dream will be truly and fully become unrealizable.

Brig Arun Sahgal, PhD (Retd)
Executive Director
Forum for Strategic Initiative
E Mail – brigarun.sahagl@gma

Aggressive Body Language: China’s Military Strategy

Gurmeet Kanwal

China released its 10th biennial White Paper on National Defence in the last week of May, 2015. Entitled “China’s Military Strategy”, this is the first White Paper that focusses on a specific aspect of national security unlike the previous ones that were about objectives, force levels, training and military modernisation.

According to the White Paper, China will follow a strategy of ‘active defence’. Clarifying the meaning of the term active defence, Senior Colonel Zhang Yuguo, from the General Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), said, “Some countries adopt pre-emptive strategies, emphasising preventive intervention and taking initiative in attack… Being ‘active’ is only a kind of means and ‘defence’ is our fundamental purpose.”

Four ‘critical security domains’ have been highlighted in the Paper: the ocean, outer space, cyberspace and nuclear deterrence. Emphasis will be laid by the PLA on ‘winning informationised local wars’. To this end, the development of the ‘cyber force’ to tackle ‘grave security threats’ online will be expedited. Several governments have already felt the power of the cyber fangs of China’s one million ‘laptop warriors’.

Though the White Paper calls active defence a strategy, military strategies are normally more specific and are a combination of ends, ways and means; hence, doctrine is perhaps a better term. The PLA’s warfighting doctrine has evolved from Mao’s “people’s war” to “people’s war under modern conditions” through a “limited/local war” phase to the current doctrine introduced in 1993. The new doctrine is more assertive than previously and is not bound by any restrictions to confine and limit future conflict to within China’s national boundaries.
Underpinning the new aspirations of the PLA is the basic doctrine of “active defence” that seeks to conduct “people’s war under modern conditions”, or “local wars under hi-tech conditions”. The PLA’s active defence doctrine envisages fighting future wars away from China’s territory. The doctrine emphasises firepower through integrated deep strikes – a concentration of superior firepower that is to be utilised to destroy the opponent’s retaliatory capabilities through pre-emptive strikes employing long-range artillery, short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) and precision guided munitions.

The new doctrine has been influenced by the lessons of Gulf War-I of 1991 and the Iraq War of 2003, both of which have been extensively studied by Chinese scholars. The doctrine requires the creation of a capability to project force across China’s borders through rapid deployment, conventional SRBMs and cruise missiles, information warfare, electronic warfare, precision-guided munitions, enhanced night fighting capabilities and other advanced military technologies.

China also follows ‘anti-access and area denial’ (A2AD) strategies to deny the adversary access to his planned launch pads in an endeavour to prevent the initial build-up of forces and logistics. Planning for A2AD strategies flows from the apprehension that if superior, well-equipped forces (like the US and its allies) are allowed to arrive in the war zone with the force levels and in the time frame planned by them, they are bound to prevail.

The PLA expects to fight the next war under conditions of what it calls “informationisation”. Its analysts have called the revolution in military affairs (RMA) an “informationised military revolution”. According to General Liu Huaqing, former Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, “Information warfare and electronic warfare are of key importance, while fighting on the ground can only exploit the victory.

Hence, China is more convinced (than ever) that as far as the PLA is concerned, a military revolution with information warfare as the core has reached the stage where efforts must be made to catch up and overtake rivals.” The PLA has adopted what it calls a “double historical mission” and a “leapfrog development strategy” – accelerating military informationisation while still undergoing mechanisation. Developing cyber-warfare capability is seen is presenting a level playing field in a David versus Goliath scenario.

Cyber attacks

Recent cyber attacks directed against India, Taiwan, the US and others are indicative of the efforts to develop new techniques, viruses and logic bombs. Information warfare will play a crucial role in the opening phases of a future border conflict with India as China will consider it important to knock out India’s communications infrastructure. A private army of ‘laptop warriors’ – young net-savvy civilian hackers on whom the state can bank during crises – is being developed for cyber-warfare besides the employment of regular PLA personnel.

Amid tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, mostly of China’s making, the White Paper repeatedly professes the theme of ‘peace and development’. “In the foreseeable future, a world war is unlikely, and the international situation is expected to remain generally peaceful,” but “the world still faces both immediate and potential threats of local wars.”

In the light of the ‘rebalancing’ plans of the US – to shift focus from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indo-Pacific, Japan’s robust military posture and what it calls other provocations in the South China Sea, the PLA Navy “will gradually shift its focus from ‘offshore waters defence’ to the combination of ‘offshore waters defence’ with ‘open seas protection’,” the Paper says.

Compared with China’s historically reactive stance of luring the enemy in deep and destroying him through strategic defence, the present doctrine is essentially pro-active and seeks to take the battle into the adversary’s territory. The aim is to catch the enemy unprepared in order to inflict substantial damage on strategic targets and disrupt logistics to gain psychological ascendancy. Clearly, the Central Military Commission has decided to discard Deng Xiaoping’s famous 24-character dictum to “hide your capacities and bide your time”.
According to Douglas Paal of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, “China’s lips say they have no expansionist ambitions. But their body language says, ‘Get out of the Way’.”The White Paper on “China’s Military Strategy” makes it clear that the Chinese are coming.

(The writer is former Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi.)

Deccan Herald, July 3, 2015

India Hardens Stand On Boundary Issue With China – Analysis India Hardens Stand On Boundary Issue With China – Analysis

By Brigadier Arun Sahgal, PhD (Retd)


There are multiple interpretations of Indian PM recent visit to China. Fundamentally while there has been significant movement on the economic side in terms of trade, investment and opening of markets, there has been little progress on major irritants impacting relations such as the boundary, water issue or the Chinese – Pakistan economic corridor passing through POK which India claims as its territory. There remains an unmistakable shadow of lack of mutual trust and unwillingness on the part of the Chinese to address any of these irritants. In fact during the visit an attempt was made to vitiate the atmosphere by showing an Indian map exclusive of Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh.

The vast gulf in perceptions forced the Indian PM to highlight these differences twice during the visit. Once during the Joint Statement, which specifically states early settlement of the boundary question serves the basic interests of both countries and should be pursued as a strategic objective by the two governments. This was followed up during his address at Tsinghua University, by stressing the need to clarify the LAC as means to maintaining peace and tranquility on the borders. He emphasised that the non resolution of outstanding issues leads to hesitation, doubts and even distrust in our bilateral relationship.

From the Prime Minister’s candor two quick inferences can be drawn. One: the Chinese were obviously not very forthcoming for on early resolution of the boundary dispute, harping on standard narrative of historical legacy. We had an inkling of this during Track II Dialogue with Chinese counterparts, in late January 2015. The overriding Chinese position was that political determination for boundary resolution with India had not yet been made, the outcome of the visit highlights that the period of sizing up new Indian government continues.

What is however more significant is the fact that an Indian PM standing on a podium in Beijing was telling his Chinese counterparts that the “historical narrative” has outlived its utility and lost its shine. If the two countries have to have normal relations, the boundary issue can no longer be put on back burner. From the editorials in Global Times and Xinhua it appears that message has gone home, with Global Times editorially praising Modi’s strategic insights and pragmatism; which could be a game changer like that of Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China.

There is yet another context to PM Modi’s assertions for early resolution of boundary disputes. He was holding a mirror to the Chinese leadership that attempts at creating an China centric Asian century will be in jeopardy if it persisted with assertive behavior and put off boundary resolutions (both continental and maritime) on specious grounds. He was in a way reassuring strategic partners in Asia of the emergence of India as a benign regional balancer whom they could look up to?

CBM’s in Context

As brought out by the PM in Beijing, the existing border disputes between the two countries is a major impediment not only to bilateral relations, but for broader peace and security in Asia. CBMs or Confidence-Building Measures between the two countries are essential for reducing tensions, preventing escalations of hostilities, maintaining peace and tranquility along the disputed border, and building mutual trust and confidence. CBMs can be broadly defined as “measures that address, prevent, or resolve uncertainties among states. They are particularly pertinent in addressing and working towards the resolution of long-term political stalemates.” The main objective of these CBMs is to provide a framework within which border security confidence can lead to the eventual settlement of the boundary issue. It calls for reduction of troops deployed along the border region and military disclosure when either of the parties is undertaking major military exercises.

India has two major outstanding border disputes one with Pakistan and the other with China. The Line of Control with Pakistan is clearly defined but despite this, there are regular instances of firing at the border and incidences of cross border infiltration leading to casualties and turbulence. On the other hand, the Line of Actual Control which is un-demarcated marks the disputed boundary between India and China; which has, witnessed reasonable peace and tranquility with no major instances of firing or skirmishes since the Sumdorong Chu valley incident of 1987.

Boundary Issue: State of Play

Since the 1962 conflict and tensions between India – China remain high despite years of attempts to resolve the boundary issue with no signs of early resolution. The border runs along an imaginary line called the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which complicated by its myriad and differing perceptions.

Since Rajiv Gandhi’s breakthrough visit to China in 1988, significant attempts have been made for the restoration of friendly relations. The India – China CBMs, unlike other CBMs, is not a knee-jerk response under some possible threat of an impending nuclear apocalypse, but instead have put in place an elaborate mechanism that represents several areas of interest for bilateral relations. The main objective is to construct a framework that focuses on the resolution of the boundary question. Additionally, it also provides a platform for dialogue regarding other areas of bilateral and mutual interest. The strategy is essentially, threefold. The first step is laying down the foundation of the political principles which are to guide the process of settlement; the second step involves ensuring a framework for the implementation of these guiding principles; and the third and the most important step is to demarcate and delimit the boundary.

The first CBM in 1993 was path-breaking in its arrival at the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the LAC which was a virtual no-war pact. What followed in 1996 was the Agreement on Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC. The primary objective of these measures was the commitment to the maintenance of peace and tranquility along the border. The Declaration of Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation was signed in 2003 in which The Joint Working Group that was set up and functional at a purely bureaucratic level was upgraded to a meeting of Special Representatives, thereby providing much desired political impetus for resolution. These agreements led up to the adopting of the ‘Political Guidance Principles for the Settlement of Boundary Question’ signed in 2005.

Additionally, it was responsible for the establishment of border meeting points at Kibithu-Damai in the Eastern Sector and Lipu Lekh Pass in Uttaranchal in the central Sector, together with the facilitation of exchanges between commanders of the respective India and China military regions. The exchanges between training institutions, and sports and including cultural formed other CBM’s.

A comprehensive push on promoting bilateral military relations remained on track following the visit of the then Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, to China in May 2006. The visit led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that called for the institutionalization of frequent exchanges between the officials of the Defence Ministries and the armed forces through an Annual Defence Dialogue, in addition to developing an annual calendar for joint exercises and training programmes. In April – May 2013, following three week long confrontation at Depsang valley in Ladakh, two sides signed Border Defence Cooperation Agreement to address tactical problems and to prevent their escalation. To further enhance mutual cooperation and promote understanding between the two armed forces, the two sides have also conducted low-level tactical military exercises whose scope is being increased to naval and air cooperation.

The several measures adopted as part of the CBMs can be broadly categorized into declarative principles, information exchange and constraining measures. The inhibiting factor with regards the effectiveness of these CBMs is that most of the current measures undertaken fall primarily under the first two categories, with less importance being given to the third category.

With regards the boundary issue, the CBMs that were adopted followed a two-track policy with the twin objectives of maintenance of security along the Line of Actual Control and the permanent resolution of the border dispute. The tackling of the boundary issue was always viewed from the perspectives of border management and not border resolution.

Despite effective border management measures some more of which have been suggested in the joint Statement following PM’s recent visit the reality is that incursions by the Chinese are on the increase. According to Union Ministry of Home Affairs’ figures, China has transgressed into Indian boundary over 1600 times during January 2010 to August 2014. Two most recent and serious violations were the Depsang incursion of 2013 and the Chumar incident of 2014; later took place during Chinese President’s maiden visit, to India. Main question is what is provoking China? What does it gain from these, is it an attempt to creep forward and occupy vantage points along the LAC useful for future operational contingencies, gaining better intelligence or for trade of during eventual settlement?

However, as far as boundary resolution is concerned, a broad framework for settlement has been defined but nothing more concrete has been achieved. The fundamental perception of threat and the security outlook which has its roots in hostility and suspicion has not changed. In spite of progress in economic and political relations, the wide security gap remains un-bridged. Development attempts undertaken by the Chinese in terms of communication technology and infrastructure upgrades in the Tibetan region is also a cause of worry for India.

Another major limitation of the framework for resolution as achieved by these agreements is the lack of clarity regarding the principles on which talks of resolution are to be defined – whether it is the demarcation of the Line of Actual Control that is the objective or the definition of the area within it or is it concerned with the exchange of maps which till date has not been done for the eastern and western sectors?

Differing Approaches

India and China have differing approaches on the boundary issue. The Chinese approach has been to ensure peace and tranquility along the borders and prevent major flare up which could draws its attention from internal political consolidation, reigning wayward economy and dealing with tensions in South China Sea and in North East Asia. Thus peace and tranquility along the India – China border allows Chinese a period of strategic consolidation without compromise. This also allows time for executing its new Silk Route policy of “one belt one road” aimed at consolidating its economic, trade and political influence in SE and South Asia and the sea lanes of Indian Ocean. In Chinese calculations next 5 to 10 years are critical for execution of these plans and undermine India’s strategic interests in the region creating a sense of isolation in Asia – Pacific and containing its Act East Policy. If the above hypothesis has validity then China is unlikely to agree to border resolution any time soon.

India until now i.e. the PM’s recent visit to China was sanguine to make haste slowly on the resolution of boundary dispute. It was content with maintenance of peace and tranquility along the borders while concentrating on building strong economic relations. The new government in Delhi is attempting to shift the discourse from this gradualist approach to the boundary question by pushing China for early resolution. Their concerns from the face of it are less geo strategic i.e. allowing China period for economic and political consolidation but are more driven by recent events of border intrusion underscoring the tenuous nature of peace and tranquility. An underlying calculation being given India’s improving relations with the US, Japan, Australia, Vietnam etc provides India with a leverage to push China on the boundary issue – a sort of classic opportunity?

Path Ahead

It has been more than 50 years since the Indo-China border war. The CBMs have been successful in providing a framework for the continuation of talks and friendly relations, especially, economic relations and preventing military conflict; but is that sufficient? For all the border management that the CBMs have achieved, they have barely accomplished anything tangible with regards the permanent resolution of boundary disputes and long term security along the LAC.
Chinese approach to CBMs and border resolution indicate a clear rhetoric for political resolution of the boundary issue. However this sentiment hasn’t been translated into political action nor is it clearly decipherable how the Chinese intend their long term relationship with India to be developed. There is a lack of clarity regarding whether the approach to be adopted should be one of co-engagement or co-competition. The resolution of this dilemma would be crucial in furthering political, strategic and economic interactions between the two countries.

From the Indian perspective, there are further challenges that present themselves. The main question that one needs to address is whether we want to push for an early resolution or allow the issue to fester. Apart from the factors discussed earlier, there is the consideration of growing asymmetry, of power which will get only accentuated over time. Feeling one gets is that China looks upon this growing asymmetry as a strong leverage to seek favourable resolution and draw India into its circle of influence. Added to it is the issue of Dalai Lama. As long as a closure on next Dalai Lama on terms favourable to China does not take place the two issues will always remain linked.

The Indians and the Chinese differ in their approaches towards each other. The question of perception also plays a huge role. Differences in value systems, worldviews and strategic objectives are also factors to be considered. The Chinese are largely concerned with the development of a China-centric and China-dominated Asia and in keeping with its revisionist tendencies, considers India as the status-quoist and militarily weaker state. The Indian narrative till now has emphasised relationship based on friendship, sentimentalism, wishful thinking and engagement. PM Modi during his recent visit has sought to change this discourse by clearly pointing to the Chinese the festering border issue as a crude coercive tactic aimed at keeping tensions alive which India will not countenance.

Courtesy: Eurasia Review

Chindia can drive 21st century Asia

By Swaran Singh, Posted on 27th April 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s successful visit to Pakistan this week, especially his promise to invest over $46 billion, compared to $20 billion he promised for India last year, has briefly revived the perennial “Pakistan factor” of China-India relations and it is likely to color the thinking of Indian interlocutors as they prepare for the coming China-India summit in Beijing in May.

What makes China’s continued indulgence of its “all-weather” strategic partner Pakistan seem such a formidable trend is the fact that, in the last five years, China’s trade with Pakistan grew from $9 billion to $16 billion.

Meanwhile, the continued insurmountable Sino-Indian trade deficit, which has now risen to nearly $40 billion, has made India overcautious on all counts, be it China’s financing of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, providing Pakistan with eight submarines, or various assessments on how US exit from Afghanistan will bring China and Pakistan even closer and eclipse India’s unprecedented presence and investments in that country.

Though the Indian side will continue with its sworn policy of not discussing “Pakistan” with China, this high-profile visit of Xi to Pakistan will haunt its imagination and flexibility vis-a-vis Beijing. Knowing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s track record of deviating and emphatic language, this may even trigger some indirect reference to it and he may even offer some advice on how to address it.

Hopefully, given the Chinese track record, the leadership would understand India’s sensitivities. This is also because China fully understands Modi’s increasing eminence on the global scene and also the critical role that China and India must play in ensuring their unhindered rise as major players in the emerging geopolitics of Asia.

Besides, there are areas where China and India can evolve a shared understanding in addressing some of the challenges that flow from Pakistan’s continued internal instability and economic crisis.

Chinese leaders have repeatedly sought cooperation from Pakistan in addressing challenges from the East Turkestan Independence Movement. India likewise also needs cooperation of Pakistan in addressing continued violence in Kashmir. Given that all three see themselves as victims of terrorism, there must be a possibility of evolving some innovative trilateral strategies in addressing this menace. As of now, though, their perspectives continue to have enormous differences that need to be narrowed.

Both China and India fully understand that their rapid development is not possible without peaceful and stable neighborhood and how their rise remains integral to the progress made by their respective co-prosperity spheres. The fact that their co-prosperity spheres overlap a great deal provides them with shared responsibilities in developing not just bilateral cooperation but also planning joint strategies for various regional problems.

Shared infrastructure development may be one sure way of addressing these challenges. India shares this broader understanding and the two have developed a close partnership in forums like RIC (Russia-India-China), BRICS and elsewhere. India has become a founding member of China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The two have also evolved a shared understanding on developing the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor. But the two also continue to carry the baggage of history, and their continuing irritants like repeated border incursions create extra difficulties on issues like the “One Belt and One Road” scheme, which can go hand in hand with India’s Mausam and Spice Route projects.

Given that both Xi and Modi see themselves as ordained to lead their national revival for at least a decade, patience and perseverance can surely make the twain meet on many more issue areas, reinforcing the Chindia paradigm as the driving force of the 21st century Asia.

The author is a professor of diplomacy & disarmament at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Courtesy: Global Times