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November 24, 2017
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Deter or Delete

Published: April 2017
 

I have always held that the Indian armed forces must be adequately empowered with modern weapons and technology to be able to deter an enemy or delete him if he attacks us.

Unfortunately, the armed forces still have mostly old, and outdated, weapons and systems, although I am reasonably assured by reports from highest quarters that a lot of things are happening. Before moving to his home state of Goa
as Chief Minister, former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for instance gave details of certain financial commitments the Government was making towards building and strengthening the country’s military industrial complex.

Understandably, India being the fourth or fifth largest buyer of arms in the world, it must draw some offset advantage in terms of induction of technologies, and that has not happened before. This is where the Government’s thrust is now.

It is not that this dream was never dreamt before. In fact, notwithstanding the allegations of corruption against Rajiv Gandhi in the acquisition of Bofors guns from Sweden, the 1986 deal for the guns was in line with Make in India programme. It is another thing that VP Singh demolished the deal as corrupt and the gum as “technologically poor” in his campaign to succeed Rajiv Gandhi as prime minister.

His allegations triggered a paralysis in the Ministry of Defence, and in line with that, in the modernisation process.

Anyway, that is history, and if I read Mr Parrikar correctly, he also set an ambitious target of defence exports to the tune of about $ Two billion in the next couple of years. One hopes and wishes that the MoD, the state run and private sector industries are able to live up to that.

Mr Parrikar did indeed set high hopes on HAL, as also on BrahMos, the latter now rocketing towards providing the country with cutting edge long range precision strike capabilities, thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s successful negotiations with the US and other countries in getting India off the MTCR restrictions.

Why am I suddenly repeating the need for modernisation!

I have been convinced for some time that the Cold War II is beginning, if it already hasn’t. And while earlier, there were two players, the US and the Soviet Union, this time, there is third one, China, which is near India’s doorsteps, at Gwadar in Pakistan. And for a long time like four decades or more to come.

The implications are obvious, and the Indian armed forces have to be adequately armed with offensive and defensive technologies to deter any threats.

I hope no country has to go beyond that.

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