India’s Defence preparedness and the role played by other Countries

(Retd) Brigadier Hemant Mahajan

China and Pakistan are India’s main enemies. They do not wage an open war against India but achieve their objectives by a proxy war, either with the help of terrorist activities to bleed India with a thousand cuts or through harmful economic activities. This article sheds some light on India’s response to such direct and indirect threats to India’s national security.

1. Weapons

A. India’s Arms treaty with African countries : A recent report by the EXIM Bank states that India can fulfil Africa’s maritime, aerospace and defence requirements. Later, India’s defence delegation visited African countries a couple of times to sign arms treaties so as to cater to their defence requirements. These will boost the Indian defence industry and create additional employment opportunities.

B. India successfully launches AD-1 test missiles that can protect us from enemy missiles : India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently conducted research on an Anti-Ballistic Defence System (missiles that counter enemy missiles). DRDO also tested a missile named Interceptor AD-1. India developed this missile to protect itself from enemy aircraft or missiles. This missile has a range of around 300-400 kms. Hence, it can destroy enemy missiles before they cause any damage. This kind of research should be encouraged and continued. India has also started developing missiles that can effectively eliminate Pakistani drones.

C. India aims to become self-reliant for its defence needs and supports the local defence industry : India has adopted a policy to design and manufacture weapons indigenously so as to do away with its dependence on other countries. The Centre supports public as well as private companies in the defence sector. Recently, the Indian Army ordered five different weapons from these companies. The Indian Army has specifically asked these arms manufacturers to incorporate new age technologies like ‘High Frequency Man Packed Software Designed Radio’, ‘Radio System’, ‘Anti Drone System’ and ‘Laser-guidance system’ for bombs.

2. Indian Economy

A. Indian economy grows faster as compared to other economies : India’s foreign trade (imports and exports) has increased substantially in the past few years. As a result, India’s foreign exchange reserves have increased by $ 6 Bn. Indian economy is also growing at a rapid pace at a time when the other major economies are struggling to stand on their feet.

B. There is bitter infighting in Pakistan at a time when its economy is in the doldrums : Some weeks ago, unknown assailants fired four shots at Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan. He survived the deadly attack allegedly carried out by the Pakistani Army. We should note that Imran Khan has challenged the supremacy of the Army. He has proved to be a bitter opponent of Shahbaz Sharif, the current Prime Minister of Pakistan. In addition, there is a civil war in Pakistan. At a time when their economy is in the doldrums, Pakistani political leaders are engaged in politics of bitterness and mud-slinging instead of trying to find solutions together.

3. Terrorism

A. The Tamil Nadu Government was hesitant to investigate the matter in which a youth who had close ties with ISIS was killed in a cylinder blast : Some time back, a youth died in a cylinder blast in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. The State Government downplayed the ISIS angle and refused to conduct a thorough investigation. It was only when the NIA (National Investigation Agency) started a probe that nails and other elements used in making bombs were found in the car of the deceased youth. The NIA also revealed his close ties with ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). This revelation makes it amply clear that vote bank politics prevailed over national security in Tamil Nadu. We observe similar type of politics in Bengal as well. The Bengal Government deliberately covers up such incidents and does not let NIA to conduct any investigation. This myopic approach of the State Governments poses a serious threat to our national security.

B. The Indian Army was successful in eliminating three terrorists in the Poonch area of Jammu & Kashmir who had crossed over from Pakistan.

C. India holds the meeting of the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee, and Indian representatives brief the other Committee members about the terrorist activities in India : United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has set up a Committee on Counter-Terrorism. India hosted a meeting of this Committee at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai. The Indian representatives briefed the Committee on the 26/11 attack. Later, they informed the Committee about the 2002 attack on the Parliament in New Delhi.

The Indian representatives gave detailed information on the modus operandi of terror outfits that included luring potential terrorists via social media, online recruitment of terrorists, online collection of funds, use of drones for drug trafficking in Punjab, etc.

In this meeting, India successfully presented the following facts. Last year, the drug mafia in Pakistan sent 100 drug-laden drones to Punjab, but the Indian security personnel could not shoot them down. Later, India captured eight drones while the rest escaped after dumping their loads. Pakistan has been promoting opium terrorism in Punjab over Khalistani terrorism in the past few years.

4. China : The enemy of the world

A. Global resentment against China : The Red Dragon has been commissioning various infrastructure projects in many countries. Many locals attack these projects. Hence, the Red Dragon sends private security personnel to guard its projects. With this stance, you will realise how angry people are with the Red Dragon and its expansionist attitude.

B. Canada’s opposition to China : China used to mine lithium in Canada. Lithium is a ‘critical mineral’ used in batteries and high-tech devices. The Government of Canada has ordered three Chinese companies to divest their lithium mining holdings.

C. America’s opposition to China : The US expects the Netherlands to stop semiconductor trade with the Red Dragon. It expects similar behaviour from India. This will deprive China of the latest technology, and consequently, its ability to counter India will diminish.

D. France backs India’s opposition to China : Chinese ships often intrude the Indo-Pacific region. India fights this intrusion tooth and nail. To support India, France has deployed many warships in the Indo-Pacific.

5. The US has keen interest in helping India in the technology space

The US has recently revealed its National Defence Strategy 2022. It plays a critical role in India’s defence as well. This strategy paves the way for the US to cooperate with India in the technology space. The US is undoubtedly a technological superpower. Its cooperation with India will boost India’s economy and modernise its armed forces. The US has not minced words in calling the Red Dragon its prime enemy and has vowed to work against it.

6. Defence agreement with Bhutan

India’s Chief of Army Staff, General Manoj Pandey, signed a defence agreement with Bhutan. The armies of Bhutan and India conduct military exercises in Bhutan every year.

7. Pollution

Heavy smog was seen in the NCR (National Capital Region) over the past few days. The air quality was so bad that it has become toxic. Many people either fell sick or died due to exposure to the poisonous air. One reason for such drastic deterioration in the air quality is the burning of stubble in Punjab. Farmers in Punjab burn stubble to clear their fields before cultivating wheat and vegetables. This stubble burning produces smoke which pollutes the surrounding air. Farmers have refused to stop stubble burning despite many alternatives provided by the Government. The Government of Delhi also does not dare to take a firm stand against the Punjab Government. Hence, the residents of the NCR will have to bear the toxic air for an additional couple of months.

8. Air defence

A. India plans to manufacture C295 aircraft for the Air Force : The Tata Group has signed a Rs 22,000 crore contract with Airbus (a European multinational aerospace corporation) to manufacture C295 transport aircraft in India for the Indian Air Force. Earlier, the Government of India had suggested Airbus undertake this project in collaboration with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Since HAL had limited capacity, it could not get support from leading aircraft manufacturers in the world. However, many were interested in the Tata Group because of its legacy and deep pockets.

As part of this massive contract, 40 transport aircraft will be manufactured in India over the next 3-4 years. India will export these aircraft to other countries. We cannot build everything in India; however, we can manufacture high-quality weapons in collaboration with established global defence manufacturers. India has been working on these lines over the past few years.

9. Indian fishermen must venture into the deep sea

We should seek help from our allies to take firm action against the Red Dragon. Such an approach will reduce our expenses to a great extent, and it will be possible to take action against China. In all likelihood, Xi Jinping, the current President of China, will retain his presidency for life. Under his leadership, China will enhance its military capability and take an even more aggressive stance against its rivals. In this context, let us understand how other countries have supported India against China.

Japan is deploying a hypersonic missile so that it can mount a counterattack in case of an attack by the Chinese Navy. China takes undue advantage of the fact that the South and North American countries lack special forces to guard their borders. China sends its boats into their territory and engages in illegal fishing in American territorial waters.

One day, when the Chinese fishermen were on one such illegal fishing expedition, the US Coast Guards chased them away. While the Indian fishermen remain close to the Indian coast, their Chinese counterparts venture into the deep sea untouched by human presence. Indian fishermen should at least go near the Andaman-Nicobar or Lakshadweep Islands, but they refuse to leave the Indian coast.

– (Retd) Brigadier Hemant Mahajan, Pune.

India briefed the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee members about the terrorist activities in India !