It is learnt that the fifth test-firing of the Agni-4 IRBM — and the second after induction as the land-based component of the Strategic Forces Command, that was long ago scheduled was cancelled/postponed by the BJP government because the firing date fell during the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the US. This reflexive pandering to Washington on the one side and China on the other (by, for instance, conducting a joint Indian army-PLA exercise in Kunming at the same time as permitting Japanese warships to participate in the annual Malabar naval exercise with the US Navy, but disallowing the Australian Navy that too wanted to get in on this exercise) suggests that much of the early confidence about Modi standing up squarely for the national interest even if this meant stomping on toes, was a misread. Modi is turning out to be only a showier version of Manmohan Singh!
In any case, contrast the Modi regime’s genuflection to that of Iran under Hassan Rohani. It test-fired the Emad IRBM (apparently an extended-range Shahab-3) capable of carrying nuclear warheads knowing fully well it would be hauled up for defying the nuclear agreement with the US and a UN Security Council Resolution prohibiting the development of Iranian missiles capable of nuclear-ordnance delivery. The Iranian defence minister Hossein Dehghan preempted any criticism from the US and other Western quarters by saying “We don’t seek permission from anyone to strengthen our defence and missile capabilities.” No government in Delhi seems able to muster up such a refreshingly solid and straightforward stance of protecting the country’s sovereign imperatives? Any bets on which country — Iran or India — will be feared and respected by one and all?
Unless its foreign and military policies become disruptive and its attitude to international relations less risk-averse, and it relentlessly advances by any and all means the national interest by, for starters, initiating open-ended thermonuclear testing parallel with frequent test-launches of the Agni-5 IRBM, including the MIRV-ed variety, and the full-fledged Agni-6 ICBM, India, it is argued in my latest book — ‘Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)’ will remain an inconsequential, middling power, content with stifling Pakistan! The awful thing is our rulers seem quite satisfied with this reduced aspiration — a standing they misrepresent as ‘great power’.