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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 । Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is free from jail after six year । Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who holds additional charge of Defence, elected President of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) । He succeeds Mr Manohar Parikkar who resigned to take over as Chief Minister of Goa recently। Hardeep Singh Puri appointed Chairman of the Research and Information System for Developing Countries । Mr Puri is former Indian Envoy to the UN in New York and Geneva । FBI investigating possible Russian interference in 2016 US presidential election, Director Comey confirms । He told House Intelligence Committee there is no evidence of President Obama ordering wiretap of Trump during the election campaign । President Trump has made several allegations against his predecessor, which the powerful heads of FBI and NSA have denied । Finance Minister Arun Jaitley assumes additional charge as Defence Minster । Jaitley replaces Manohar Parrikar who has moved to Goa to head the State’s Government as Chief Minster । BRAHMOS Extended Range (ER) missile successfully test-fired । Prime Minister greets CISF on its 48th Raising Day । INS Tillanchang Commissioned into Indian Navy । INS Tillanchang was commissioned by FOC-in-C Western Naval Command Vice Admiral Girish Luthra at Karwar । India Strategic salutes the humanity on this International Women’s Day । Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju dedicates first integrated heliport to the nation । Ms. DR Doley Barman appointed Director of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad । 1992 batch IFS officer Gopal Baglay appointed MEA Spokesperson । He replaces Vikas Swarup, who has been appointed Indian High Commissioner to Canada । Raytheon, Tata Advanced Systems to Co-produce Stinger Missile Components । Indian Navy Concludes First Contract under Buy and Make (Indian) Category । Contract signed between Nova Integrated Systems Ltd (NISL), a TASL subsidiary, and Indian Navy for procurement of Surface Surveillance Radars (SSRs) । NISL to indigenously manufacture these state-of-the-art radars in collaboration with Terma, Denmark । ISRO creates history; launches 104 satellites in one go । President, Vice President and Prime Minister congratulated ISRO and its scientists for the historic mission । Indian Navy to decommission aircraft carrier INS Viraat on March 6 । India to spend Rs 2,74,114 crore on Defence । Rs 85,737.31 crore will be spent on equipment acquisition । Russia formally enters IAF’s second round of MMRCA competition । Moscow offers a new MiG-35 variant under Make in India । Alexander M Kadakin, who served as the Russian Ambassador to India for over a dozen years, passed away after a brief illness in New Delhi on Thursday, January 26, 2017. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Kadakin’s death calling him a “great friend of India.” । India Strategic wishes everyone Happy Republic Day । President Pranab Mukherjee takes salute at the beautiful Republic Day Parade in New Delhi । UAE Crown Prince Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed is the Chief Guest at India’s R-Day celebrations । A highlight of the Parade is also the participation of a UAE armed forces contingent । Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti to pay tributes to martyrs । The impressive Parade began with a 21-gun salute to the President, the Supreme Commander of the Indian armed forces । India’s anti-terror force, National Security Guard (NSG) made its debut in the Parade । Dressed in their patent black, NSG commandos jogged passed the saluting base with their faces covered । US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi late on January 24 । The telephone call is indicative of the vital nature of the India-US strategic partnership between the two countries । Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrives in New Delhi । Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was received by PM Modi । Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed is the Chief Guest of Republic Day 2017 । Government extends Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar’s tenure by one year । The extension to be effective between Jan 29, 2017 and Jan 28, 2018 । Pravind Kumar Jugnauth takes over as Mauritius Prime Minister । Prime Minister Modi congratulated the newly-appointed Mauritian PM । Donald Trump takes over as US President । Promises transfer of power to people । Turkish Boeing 747 cargo plane crashes in Kyrgyzstan with 37 onboard; all killed । Astronaut Gene Cernan, 82, the last man to walk on moon, passes away । India marks Army Day । President, Prime Minister and Defence Minister greet the Army । Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat takes salute at the impressive Army Day Parade । Gen Rawat says India wants peace but if attempts are made to disrupt it, then “we will display our power” । He says emphasis is on newer technology weapons and systems for the Army । Space connectivity is also high on Army’s agenda । This is the 69th Army Day, marking the time when an Indian Chief, Gen KM Cariappa took over the command after Independence । Indian Navy launches its second Kalvari class submarine INS Khanderi in Mumbai । India Strategic wishes all its readers and viewers a very Happy New Year । India successfully test fires Agni 5 long range missile | IAF gets Government approval for one more C 17 strategic Lift aircraft | IAF has got 10 C 17s, but had initially planned for more than 20 | Lack of timely approval made IAF slash figure to three but by then Boeing closed factory | IAF will get the last one in production | Syrian government of President Assad takes full control of Aleppo | Lt Gen Bipin Rawat appointed the next Army Chief and Air Marshal BS Dhanoa the Air Chief | The appointments are effective December 31 afternoon | Both are Vice Chiefs of Staff at present in their respective Services | 48 killed in a PIA ATR-42 aircraft crash in Pakistan | The twin-engine propellor aircraft was on way from Chitral to Islamabad | India marks Navy Day | Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets all Navy personnel, and salutes their bravery on Indian Navy annual day | PM Modi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani jointly inaugurate Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference at Amritsar (India) Dec 4 | Need of the hour is to identify terrorism and bring stability in the region, says PM Modi | India’s commitment to Afghan is absolute, Mr Modi said addressing 6th HoA Ministerial Conf | Afgan Prez accused Pakistan of sheltering terror, and thanked India of financial aid | HoA Conf began at Amritsar Dec 3 | INS Vikrant likely to be operational in 2018 | Vikrant to operate both Russian MiG-29K and Western origin Aircraft | Indian Navy to mark 2017 as the year of submarine: Adm Lanba class=”gap”>| Gujarat-cadre officer Rakesh Asthana to take over as CBI Director after Anil Sinha, who retires Dec 2 | Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is Pakistan’s new army chief | Gen Bajwa took over from Gen Raheel Sharif Nov 29 | The outgoing chief stressed all should work together “against external and internathreats” | Plane carrying Brazilian football team crashes in Colombia | Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro dies. He was 90. | Castro had challenged the US might and invited Soviet presence next door to the US | US-Cuban relations have normalized now after half a century | Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Commissions INS Chennai into Indian Navy Nov 21 | INS Chennai is a Project 15A Guided Missile Destroyer | This is the 3rd and last ‘Kolkata’ class destroyer indigenously designed by DND and constructed by MDL, Mumbai |
April 26, 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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