HEADLINES:
Possible sale of Boeing C-17 aircraft to India approved – Pentagon। President Trump tweets: Look forward to welcoming to India’s PM Modi to White House on Monday. Important strategic issues to discuss with a true friend! । Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for three-nation tour to Portugal, US and the Netherlands June 24 । India, Portugal sign MoUs in areas of Space, and Collaborative Research । Agreements signed during PM Modi’s first leg visit of the three-nation tour । US clears sale of 22 General Atomics Sea Guardian drones for Indian Navy । Deal likely to be announced during PM Modi’s visit to Washington June 26 । These unmanned, or Remotely Piloted, Aircraft will be used for ISR Missions in Indian Ocean । The G-to-G deal, under the US FMS program, should be around $2 Billion । India launches Cartosat-2 along with 30 other satellites June 23 । PSLV-C38, the 40th flight of PSLV, carrying 31 satellites took off from first launch pad of SDSC Sriharikota । President Mukherjee, PM Modi and the Defence Minister congratulated ISRO and its scientists for the successful launch । Lockheed Martin, Tata announce F16 India Partnership । Partnership aims to produce F16 Block 70 in India if selected by IAF । GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) orders 100 A320neo aircraft । Paris Air Show 2017 opens at Le Bourget, France June 19 । Chairman COSC and CNS Admiral Sunil Lanba on a visit to Isreal। India, Pakistan become full member of SCO। India’s entry into SCO was backed by Russia, and Pakistan’s membership by China। PM Modi calls on Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of SCO। He also thanked the Chinese President for supporting India’s entry into SCO। Prime Minister Narendra Modi exchange greetings with Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif in the Leader’s Lounge before the SCO concert in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan। It was the first time the two had met in nearly a year, during which period bilateral relations have deteriorated। PM Modi greeted his Pakistani counterpart and asked about PM Sharif’s health and about the health of his mother । Prime Minister Narendra Modi departs for 2-day visit to Astana, Kazakhstan to attend SCO Summit । India to be admitted as full member of SCO during the Summit । India signed Paris climate pact for its commitment towards protecting the environment, says EAM Sushma Swaraj । The EAM said this during MEA’s annual conference in New Delhi June 5 । It did not sign the pact of any greed or fear from any country: EAM । Ms Swaraj was rebutting US President Trump’s allegation saying India signed the deal to receive billions of foreign aid । India successfully launches communication satellite GSAT 19 June 5 । The heaviest ever rocket GSLV Mk III carrying GSAT 19 lifted off from SDSC (SHAR) Sriharikota । Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE cut diplomatic ties to Qatar । The 4 Gulf nations took the step following Qatar’s relations with Iran and support of Islamist groups। They also cut off its land, sea and air routes to the outside world । Libya, Yemen also joined the four Arab nations in snapping ties with Qatar । India, Russia sign pact for two nuclear power units at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu । INS Kalvari, the Indian Navy’s first Scorpene class submarine, will be battle ready from Day One, French collaborator DCNS announced June 1 । Kalvari, meaning shark, will be commissioned in July । Kalvari is the first of the six modern submarines ordered by the Indian Navy । Indian Navy is looking at 200 ships and 400 aircraft, all with hitech systems । Vice Adm Karambir Singh also told a seminar on Future Indian Navy that poor quality systems are not acceptable । Indian shipyards are building 40 ships at present । PM Modi reaches St. Petersburg in the 3rd leg of his 4-nation visit । He is to participate in 18th India Russia Annual Summit and SPIEF 2017 । India, Spain sign 7 agreements including one each on Cyber Security and Civil Aviation । Naval Chief Adm Sunil Lanba calls for cutting edge technologies with a Made in India stamp । Addressing a seminar on Building India’s Future Navy, he said ToT from foreign vendors would be say now with Strategic Partnership model । Adm Lanba said selection process for shipboard fighter is moving at desired pace and they should be inducted in about 5 years । About 80 killed, several injured in a bomb blast near Indian embassy in Kabul । Indian embassy staff were safe: MEA । PM reached Madrid on the second leg of his tour for a day- long visit to Spain May 31 । India, Germany sign 11 MoUs including one on Cyber Security । MoUs signed during Prime Minister Modi’s 2-day Germany visit on May 29-30 । We are made for each-other, says PM Modi on India-Germany ties । The Prime Minister is on 4-nation tour of Germany, Spain, Russia and France from May 29-June 3 । India’s distinguished police officer, Mr KPS Gill passed away at 82 । Hassan Rouhani re-elected Iranian President । Prime Minister Modi congratulated him on his re-election । India, Palestine sign 5 MoUs including one on visa exemption for diplomatic passport holder । Agreements were signed after Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with President Abbas May 16 । Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas is on 4-day State visit to India beginning May 14 । Abbas is visiting India on the invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee । This is the fifth visit and the third State visit of President Abbas to India । Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Colombo May 11 on his two-day visit to Sri Lanka । He was received by his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickramsinghe on his arrival at the Colombo airport । PM Modi is the chief guest at the International Vesak Day celebrations of Sri Lanka । India marks 19th National Technology Day । National Technology Day is marked to commemorate the anniversary of Pokhran nuclear tests of 1998 । On this day, Prime Minister Modi hails the then PM Vajpayee’s courage to conduct the nuclear tests । India launches GSAT-9 satetllite from Sriharikota । India to make Israeli rifles and small arms । Punj Lloyd and Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) collaborating in the venture । Trump to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia this month । This will be his first foreign visit as US President । India, Turkey signed three agreements including one between the Foreign Services Institute of India and the Diplomacy Academy of Turkey । Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls on President Mukherjee, Vice President Ansari, PM Modi and EAM Sushma Swaraj during his State visit to India । The Turkish President, visiting from April 30-May 1, backs India in fight against terrorism । Turkey conveyed its support for India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) । PM Modi expressed his gratitude on Turkey’s support । Indian Army celebrates 79th Armour Day । On 1 May 1938, Scinde Horse cavalry regiment was equipped with Vickers tanks and Chevrolet armoire cars । The Indian Army’s Armourerd Corps has played decisive role against Pakistani intruders in 1947, 1965 and 1971। India, Cyprus sign 4 agreements including one on Air Service Agreement । Agreements signed during Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades’s visit to India April 28 । Cyprus President called on President Mukherjee, Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi । The visiting President and PM Modi agreed on urgent need for all countries to decisively act against the states supporting factories of terrorism । PM Modi also thanked the Cyprus President for his support to India’s claim of Permanent Membership in UNSC । North Korea test fires a ballistic missile which landed in the Sea of Japan । India, Sri Lanka ink pacts on economic cooperation and road infrastructure development । The agreements signed during Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to India । Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on him । Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar accompanied Sushma Swaraj when the latter called on the visiting Sri Lankan PM । India-Russia defence engagement will continue to grow, says Defence Minister Arun Jaitley । He was speaking at the 6th Moscow Conference on International Security in Moscow । India, Russia are celebrating 70 years of Diplomatic Relationship । China launches its first indigenous aircraft carrier । The new carrier will accommodate 36 aircraft and will be commissioned in 2020 after sea trials । It’s a 50000 ton platform with a ski jump deck modeled on Soviet carriers but has many design innovations । India, South Korea Sign Inter-Governmental MoU for Defence Industry Co-Operation in Shipbuilding । The MoU signed by Secretary (Defence Production), India, Ashok Kumar Gupta and Minister of Defence Acquisition and Programme Administration (DAPA), South Korea, Chang Myoung-Jin । The Inter-Governmental MoU was conceived under the overall umbrella of the ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ between both countries । The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) accorded its approval for signing the MoU । The CCS also gave a go ahead for nominating Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, Visakhapatnam for collaboration । Indian Navy successfully test-fires land attack version of Brahmos supersonic cruise missile । Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari calls on President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Home Minister and Defence Minister in New Delhi Apr 18 । Nepalese President is on a State visit to India April 17-21 । This is her first ever visit to India since taking over in 2015 । She was given a ceremonial Guard of Honour on her arrival at Rashtrapati Bhawan । Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Singh Sajjan, called on Defence Minister Arun Jaitley Tuesday । He was presented a Tri-Services Guard of Honour on his arrival at South Block । 12 killed in Saudi military helicopter in Yemen । Unconfined reports say the Blackhawk was accidentally shot down by a Saudi Patriot missile। US NSA Gen HR McMaster meets Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi । Gen McMaster also exchanged views on Indo-US relations with Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar । Happy Easter । US drops its biggest 21,000 pound bomb on ISIS in Afghanistan April 13 । Designated GBU 43, the Mother of All Bombs is designed to hit deep caves and tunnels in hardy mountains । GBU 43 is the biggest non-nuclear bomb, carried by the US Air Force (USAF) and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) । White House Press Secretyary Sean Spricer confirmed the night bombing but there was no immediate word from Taliban । Spicer said the ISIS terroists were targeted as they used the caves and tunnels to hit the US forces । GBU 43 is a concussion bomb carrying an explosive charge of 8,500 kg, equal to 11 tons of TNT । India, Australia sign 6 MoUs including on Combating Terrorism and Civil Aviation Security । Agreements signed during Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull’s Visit to India April 10 । He calls on President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi । This is the first ever visit of Turnbull after taking over as Australian PM in 2015 । The Australian PM along with his Indian counterpart took a Delhi metro ride to visit city-based Akshardham Temple । India, Bangladesh signed 22 agreements April 8 including key pacts on defence cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation । India announced an additional $4.5-billion concessional line of credit for infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, and another $500 million for Dhaka to procure defence equipment from New Delhi । A joint India-Bangladesh event saw both PMs honour the 1,661 Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the 1971 war for Bangladesh’s independence । Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrives in New Delhi for 4-day State visit to India । Prime Minister Modi himself goes to the airport to greet the Bangladesh PM on her arrival । External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj calls on Sheikh Hasina at Rashtrapati Bhawan । She is the special guest of President Pranab Mukherjee during her State visit to India । The Bangladesh PM has a full day of bilateral discussions with her Indian counterpart on Saturday (April 8) । 20 agreements are expected to be signed between India and Bangladesh । India, Malaysia sign 7 agreements । The agreements signed during Malaysian PM Najib Razak’s visit to India from March 30 to April 4 । Malaysian PM calls on President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi । India and Malaysia joint statement, issued after Modi, Razak meeting, calls for a deeper ties between the two nations ।
June 28, 2017
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India’s regional aspirations

By Gen Deepak Kapoor (Retd) Published:November 2012
New Delhi. The fact that India is a rapidly growing global power has been repeatedly talked about in various forums for the last 7-8 years. Our annual growth rate of around 8 % during the period lent credence to the feeling that we have arrived at the global stage.
This conviction was further reinforced by a few other factors in the course of time.

First and foremost, India was largely unaffected during the economic meltdown that shook the world in 2008. While the US and the West were the worst affected, reverberations of the meltdown were felt in all economies which were closely linked to the US, whether in Latin America or in Asia.

Secondly, availability of large, younger workforce has provided India with a distinct advantage as far as growth and development is concerned, subject of course to optimum utilisation of this workforce. Thirdly, with the centre of gravity of world attention gradually shifting to Asia, India’s geostrategic location in the region naturally places it in a position to influence events occurring here which have an impact globally.

Finally, India, having joined the elite nuclear club, automatically places itself among the leading nations of the world, in the perceptions of a vast majority.

But there is a difference between perceptions and reality in case of India.

Our per capita income is nowhere near the leading nations of the world. We are still plagued by illiteracy, unemployment and lack of basic amenities for our citizens. Our healthcare system is unable to provide succour to our teeming millions in an appropriate fashion. Our agriculture continues to be dependent on the vagaries of monsoons and El Nino effects. Above normal rainfall leads to breakdown of infrastructure in most urban and rural areas and below normal rainfall raises the spectre of droughts.

A significant negative factor is the lack of desire for excellence in general in the Indian work force.

Of late, credibility of governance is also being questioned, thanks to a large number of allegations and scams coming to light. Sectarianism and regionalism keep raising their ugly heads on an ongoing basis. Insurgencies in J&K and Northeast and emergence of Left Wing Extremism in large parts of the country are administering a debilitating blow to the development of the country.

We tend to be more busy resolving one crisis after another rather than working towards having an organised system where the very occurrence of a crisis is avoided in the first place and if it does occur, corrective steps are thought of well in advance and implemented immediately.

Under these circumstances where is India headed in the medium to long term? Would it be appropriate to say that we are emerging on the international scene as a global power? The answer is an emphatic no.

While we possess the basic requisites to be able to reach there, unless all our resources are harnessed and optimally employed, it would be a tall order to achieve. Let alone global, even our regional responsibilities and aspirations would be in jeopardy unless we start taking corrective steps with immediate effect.

As a first step, we need to introspect that while our size and geostrategic location bestow on us the mantle of being a regional power, are we able to sustain that perception with our actions? Do we have good functional relationships with our neighbours? Do the other nations of the region look up to us for support and assistance and are we able to come up to their expectations in providing it? Have we been able to reach out to them and win their trust and confidence? These are difficult questions that need to be answered while analysing India’s regional aspirations.

The USA went through a prolonged period of ‘splendid isolation’ before it emerged on the global scene as a leading power post Second World War and has continued to wear the mantle of global leadership since then. Students of history would testify to the fact that it used the period of isolation from world affairs to strengthen itself internally in all spheres. Industry, agriculture, education, healthcare, commerce, military and governance- all areas were refined to make the country an economic powerhouse of the world.

China too has followed a somewhat similar route in first addressing internal shortcomings and systems, albeit under communist ideology. Since 1978, when Deng Hsiao Ping started the process of reforms, China assiduously worked on improving productivity, developing infrastructure, upgrading technology, modernising the PLA and creating global markets for its products before suddenly emerging on the global stage in the last decade.

The point to be emphasised is that India must likewise first address internal issues before venturing on to the international arena at the regional or global level. While a totally isolationist policy may not be feasible in the current environment of global linkages in most spheres, priority must lie with setting our house in order first and foremost.

India has a number of positives going for it. Our size, geostrategic location, huge workforce, frugal lifestyle, large resource base, suitable climatic conditions, surplus agriculture etc. provide the basic fundamentals which we can optimise to advantage. However, there is an equally long list of negatives which has to be contended with.

The country has time and again been exposed to communal riots and terrorism. Unemployment and illiteracy nullify the advantage of having a large workforce.

Mass scale corruption is gnawing at the roots of economy. National interest is viewed through the narrow prism of regionalism and parochialism and sought to be justified along partisan lines to derive maximum political mileage, in the process leading to a fragmented approach to national issues. Above all, poor governance, whether at the state or central level or by one political party or the other has hampered growth and development. As a result, we are unable to realise our full potential.

The past year has seen a visible unrest among the public at large and the civil society in particular against corruption at all levels in the government and the political class. It found manifestation in the movements started by people like Anna Hazare which got tremendous backing of the educated elite in the beginning. People even questioned the credibility of the parliament to make meaningful laws for the country when a large number of its members are facing criminal charges in various courts across the country.

The waning of support for such movements has more to do with there being no suitable and viable alternatives visible on the horizon than with differences among the leadership on how to carry the movements forward or the hidden agendas of some of the leaders. However, the fact that with passage of time, more and more Indians are getting disillusioned with the governance is not in doubt. There is also disappointment at the downward slide in the Indian economy.

As a regional power, India is expected to possess both the economic and military might to safeguard the interests of the region. In so doing, it is also expected to carry along with it most if not all the countries of the region. While differences between neighbours will always occur, common problems of the region like terrorism, drug trafficking, maritime piracy, natural disasters etc. need to be tackled jointly in a cooperative environment. India is expected to take the lead in setting up mechanisms to solve such problems and contribute a major share towards financing them. Mutual differences with regional countries also need to be resolved amicably in a spirit of give and take.

It is, therefore, important to first address internal issues, become strong economically and militarily, before venturing outwards to becoming even a regional power in the true sense of the word.

To quote from the Prime Minister’s speech on 20 Sep 2012, ‘The world is not kind to those who do not tackle their own problems’.

© India Strategic
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