‘Will India become a super power?’ — panel discussion, Sunday April, 5 PM — Do join!


For those who have nothing better to do (!) on an early Sunday evening, please join the panel discussion on ‘Will India become a super power?’ hosted by the forum –‘Argumentative Indians’ today, April 18, 2021, at 5 PM IST.

Attendee Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_PUNT46J-RtmfbhiQqrxLAg

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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21 Responses to ‘Will India become a super power?’ — panel discussion, Sunday April, 5 PM — Do join!

  1. PRATIK KUMAR says:

    Sir will it be available on YouTube???

      • San Mann says:

        What is a “superpower”? Why is it necessary to be one?

        A: “Superpower” is an ego-stroking phrase coined by smaller Western European countries seeking to take advantage of the larger United States to have it fight their battles for them. There is no need or benefit for any large power to take on such burdens, least of all India. We don’t even seem to be able to keep the Chinese out of Mauritius, and had to go to the Americans for help on that. This hardly makes us a candidate for becoming a superpower.

  2. S Paldas says:

    Thank you for flagging it – was interesting to hear other points of view. You were articulate – but, predictable 🙂 Regards

  3. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    A country whose political leadership is just focused on elections even at the Panchayat level, whose army generals are only capable of big talks without any tough action.

    Add official arrogance, needless hyper-nationalism, and bureaucratic incompetence to the above mix.

    You will then get an apt answer to the question

    • San Mann says:

      Contradictory statements from you. Nationalism is required to confront external threats, and to motivate that response. So there is no such thing as “hyper-nationalism” in this situation. What’s needed is more nationalism, not less, as this will motivate a firmer response against Chinese aggression.

      Your contradictory statements amount to saying: “Everybody is dying of thirst! Why all this needless hyper-emphasis on finding water?”

      Your words are contradictory, and it’s precisely because of oxymoronic posturing like yours that nationalism is the pressing need of our times.

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        Sann Mann@ — Hyper nationalism is an apt term for the likes of you. The Pradhaan Drameybaaz of India first denied any Chinese intrusion till now he doesn’t have the courage to order the Indian army to confront the PLA and drive out the Chinese forces.

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        The PM’s various actions — Useless Demonitisation, Faulty GST, crony capitalism, Economic Blunders & Mismanagements, China’s Drubbing at Ladakh , Needless 18 day’s Mahabharata analogy, Sudden Lockdown displacing Millions, Mismanaging Pandemic – Vaccine – Medicines ……. List goes On & On & On …..
        Here in China, people laugh at the so called Super-Hero. Indian-Mango-People are in dumps !!!

      • San Mann says:

        Tyagi, you clearly don’t care about India’s borders, and only care about hurling abuses at the national leadership by catcalling on any issue. The main problem is that India doesn’t have the military might to fight China directly – and it’s especially difficult when so many domestic critics like yourself are waiting to pounce. During confrontation with an external threats, critics should keep their mouths shut. Nationalism is the best ideology to have, when confronted with dire external threats. Whatever deficiency Modi has shown in his response, the Congress-Lefty response would have been far worse. If Modi has been deficient, then the corrective action is to bring in leadership which is even more nationalist. I’m glad that India is moving to upgrade infrastructure in Andaman & Nicobar islands, because that is where we should shift our confrontation with China to, since that’s the place that gives us the most advantages to defeat them.

  4. Amit says:

    Professor Karnad,

    For those of us who could not attend the session, could you post it on your web site? Would be great to watch.

    Also have a request for you – any security strategy has to be based on a country’s security capabilities. Would be interested in hearing your views on how India’s security strategy is based on its capabilities in the army, air force, navy, cyber, and space and where the major capability gaps are in facing the security threats India has in the near future. There is a lot to read about the armed forces, but not much on cyber and space assets and capabilities.

    Also, in terms of military spending – according to SIPRI, India spent $71.1B and China $261B in 2019 (I think Pakistan was $19B). However, if you apply PPP – then India spent $229B (3.22x), China $428B (1.64x) and Pakistan $73B (3.84x). If you look at the size differences between India and China and what each country has to defend, the difference in military spending is not as stark as the media makes it out to be – between India and China or between India and Pakistan. The main reason China has been successful against India is mostly psychological, and perhaps lately some lagging in technology and military capabilities (esp. cyber, space). But since most of the spending is inside the country (except for capital spending where imports are a higher %), PPP dollars spent seem to match the size of the landmass each country needs to defend.

    Would be interested to hear more on your thoughts on India’s capabilities and how well matched we are to take on China.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @San Mann- Why and on what parameters are BJP/RSS nationalists? What’s their contribution in India’s freedom struggle?

      I am not concerned with what Congress/Left would have done. They were not in power in the centre in 2020, when the Chinese aggression happened.

      There’s no point arguing with you. Yesterday, I came across the following comment in the comments section of the following news. 0Go chew on it; https://indianexpress.com/article/india/national-security-jeopardised-by-govts-wasteful-talks-rahul-gandhi-on-china-7280033/

      If Chinese didnot come inside Indian territory then why is GOI asking China to withdraw from its own territories? Everyone knows 1000 square Kilometers of territory in eastern ladakh have ben lost. There was attempt to divert Indians’ attention to Sushant singh’s suicide, etc.

      The chinese tactical withdrawal from pangong tso lake area was projected as victory to fool the illiterate masses but actually that was the only place where India had the tactical advantage and the Chinese were successful in getting Indian army out of commanding heights!

      • San Mann says:

        Freedom struggle? Are you stuck in a time warp? British are long gone from the subcontinent, and meanwhile Nehru’s & Congress’ ideology to rebuild India following independence has badly failed. Nehru’s Fabian socialism has left India badly underdeveloped, and his extremely naive foreign policy didn’t contribute to any freedom struggle for Tibetans, nor for the security of Kashmir & Ladakh.

        Stop partisan-motivated hairsplitting over statements. What’s obvious is that China came into and occupied the buffer zone which is claimed & patrolled by both sides. China has withdrawn from the Galwan areas, but still remains in Gogra & Pangong Tso. What’s also obvious is that you care more about attacking the Indian leadership, like the disloyal opposition, instead of backing up our leadership during an external confrontation.

        Whatever withdrawal Modi & co have failed to secure from the Chinese side, I’m quite certain that Congress & Lefties would have bungled even worse on. All you care about is petty partisanship. India needs loyal citizens and a loyal opposition. Nationalism becomes all the more important when there are persons spewing partisan vitriol and putting their partisanship above the interests of the nation.

  5. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @ San Mann- The main problem is that India doesn’t have the military might to fight China directly

    This is utter nonsense myth propagated by the Indian political and defence establishment to fool the masses.

    History is full of examples, where smaller ill equipped armies of fighters have beaten back big regular forces.

    LTTE forcing Indian army to retreat from Sri Lanka & Vietnamese beating back the Yankee troops are good examples of the aforesaid.

    • San Mann says:

      Tyagi – As I have said, it’s much better for us to deflect conflict with the Chinese out to the A&N islands near the Malacca Straits, because that’s a far easier place for us to defeat them. There is no possibility for guerrilla warfare against PLA in Tibet, although there might be some possibility for it against them in Myanmar by drawing them in there. However that could become destabilizing for India’s northeast.

  6. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @Sann Mann- I am not a fan of Congress as I have pointed out multiple times. What sort of nationalism is Modi’s? The PM care fund is not open to any audit, whatsoever. The supreme leader has funds for all useless activities while ignoring the most pressing issues; https://indianexpress.com/article/india/covid-virus-strain-india-gene-study-7280783/.

    In Modi’s new India finding funds for genomic sequencing of the mutant variants of the Corona Virus, which will help the Government in its pandemic response and hence aid in safe guarding Public Health, is a problem. But monies are obviously not a problem when it comes to procuring VIP aircrafts at the cost of around ₹ 17,000 crores, or the Central Vista Project of around ₹ 25,000 crores, erecting a Sardar Patel statue for around ₹ 3000 crores or building a new Ram Temple at the cost of a few thousand Crores. So the measly ₹ 115 crores gets cut to ₹ 80 crores to be raised by DBT from internal resources! All this in the middle of a raging pandemic!

    However, the more troubling aspect is the lack of leadership with a “clear lack of directives and goals”. Should we be surprised at this at all?

    If someone has spent all his life in mobilising one community, has worked as a Proselytizer for a quasi politico religious organization from an early age, has spent all his life fighting elections, has shown no inclination to educate himself (by reading and increasing his awareness) , has a history of bigotry, has no scientific temper as can be concluded by his many gaffes in public, what enlightened Public Policy making can we expect to tackle a gargantuan crisis? Is it any surprise that the person finds himself out of depth when he grapples with a giant problem?

    The deaths of so many people can be attributed to many factors, but one inescapable, persistent, central issue is poor decision making involving the highest and the most powerful political office of the Country: Buffer zone wow. Keep coming up with new excuses everyday to justify the cowardice of pseudo nationalists. Keep indoors and save yourself from Corona.

  7. San Mann says:

    Tyagi, your hatred of Modi is stronger than your love for India. Therefore you will not back the national leadership against China in a confrontation with them. Your main focus of antagonism is against Modi, rather than against China. As I’ve said, nationalism is most certainly the best ideology to confront national security threats, both internal and external. Your petty partisan venom knows no bounds, and is a lesson for all to note what not to be when facing a threat to national security, like China is.

  8. Amit says:

    Professor, thanks for putting the video on the site…interesting to watch. What I found a little amusing was that there was absolutely no disagreement between those who were for or against the debate topic on the problems facing the country! I think everyone agrees there.

    Another point to highlight is that India’s current ambition is to be a leading power not a super power. So the aspiration of the current government is not entirely in line with the debate topic.

    Thirdly, it was interesting to note that 56% of the audience thought India would become a ‘superpower’. Slightly optimistic. I am not sure where I am – I would say in the middle – can’t say for sure as there are huge problems to overcome.

    But Professor, I would like to take a different stance from you on NRIs. Your example of Indian Americans in Biden’s government was more an example of Bureaucrats in the US government standing up for American interests. But what about the millions of others in the private sector, who do send money back home or make significant investments in India.

    If you look at the start up eco system of IIT Madras (where I am from), you will see significant NRI investment into the leadership of the program as well significant funding to make the system a success. Every batch I know has pretty impressive goals of raising money for the institute (and making good progress against those). There are tons of other such examples. So do not agree with you on that score. Many IITians (and I am sure others) who studied and worked abroad have gone back to India to teach as well or take leadership positions in industry (including American citizens). So its not just the gulf country NRIs that contribute to India. I completely disagree with your comments on ignoring this class of Indians for India’s benefit.

    • Of course, there are many NRIs who are investing in programmes in India to do good. But the bulk are not; nor should we expect them to.

    • Aur says:

      Spurious NRIs

      = ==============
      “Spurioius NRIs”.

      Yesterday the “Aajj tak” was pushing the news about one so called NRI who is making waves in usa-as if that NRI IS PRO-INDIAN ENTITY AND AN ASSET.
      IN FACT THAT NRI HAS BEEN RAISED IN SAUDI ARABIA FROM HER CHILDHOOD AND IS supporter of muslim legal system and her parents live in Saudi Arabia where they direct a muslim religious journals.( the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs.) She is advisor in middle east to a hawkish witch of wild west.
      Hardly the type to favour Indian standpoint in usa.
      Ofcourse that person is Huma Abedin an ally and campaign manager of of wild witch of west aka Hitterey Clinton.
      Hilary’s closest aide is Huma Abedin…the one person that Hilary has relied on more than anybody else. And besides being a Sunni, she and her parents have heavy Saudi influence. So the call of the Ummah will be ever present. Huma grew up in Saudi Arabia and her parents set up the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (supposedly funded by the Saudis).
      Quote from Wikipedia- “Her father, born in New Delhi, India, on April 2, 1928, was an Islamic and Middle Eastern scholar of Indian descent, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and then in 1978 founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, an organization devoted to the study of Muslim communities in non-Muslim societies around the world.”

      First a population of 1.2 billions Indians does not need help of so called NRI. Secondly more than 60 % of those NRIs in west are anti Indians either khalistanis , Islamic extremists or coconut Hindu non entities..
      Thirdly even if all NRI had been pro India, they have very little real influence because usa always cater to Pakistan view point and for pro extremist Islamic view point as of Taliban etc.
      That is why you find that in usa paksitani view point is always in upper hand in the higher centres of power.
      It is delusion of Indians –mostly coolie traitor types-that they make India look up to those so called spurious NRIs.
      India is too much of a rich and proud nation to be bothered about those who left her shore for greener pasture.
      India can and has risen despite of NRIs.
      The news channel who have been completely taken over by angloamerican foreign interests are in habit of making Indians feel the need to be obliged to such spurious 3rd rate entities.

    • Aur says:

      Report is that a few NRI organisations in the USA are lobbying for our prime minister sri Narendra modi to be invited by the congress to address the joint session. What a disgusting act of the NRIs. First they bootlick the Americans and then they undermine the Indian Pm by supposedly speaking on his behalf –may be PM Modi does not want to be felicitated by those who made all attempts to see that he is not even elected let alone invited to America.
      These stupid NRIs are basically techies who think that science subjects have made them understand the deep politics. They do not realise that to confront the real enemy of India we must align with china and Russia that is why America wants to create rift amongst these three nations. So NRIs are doing knowingly or unknowingly a great disservice to India by putting Modi in the heynas’ den.
      It is not the first time that NRIs have attempted to sabotage the real interests of India-in fact the traitor mmsingh boasted that his govt. spent a few millions of dollars on lobbying the congress (through NRIs and others) to make it possible that the Indo-us nuke deal goes through-in other words the gaddar mmsingh was bribing the NRIs and American congress to let pass a nuke deal which had been sponsored by the Americans and which was injurious to India !
      This is what the Americans think of stupid Indians !
      What is it with NRIs in America who bend down and act as coolies to the anglos ?
      India does not need NRIs rather NRIs need India that is why they should mind their own business.
      Chinese diaspora was much stronger and richer than NRIs but china got status only after 1964 when it went nuclear and a world power militarily. Jews diaspora was much richer and influential than Indians but only after victory in war of six day war of 1967 did the Israelis get more status and recognition and so did the Jews.

      At the international conference on climate change in Copenhagen in December 2009, US President Barack Obama forced himself into a room where the then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao was holding a secret meeting with the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders.
      Giving a blow by blow account of the incident, of which she was part as the then secretary of state, Hillary Clinton in her memoirs ‘Hard Choices’ writes that the purpose of China was to isolate the United States by bringing together countries like India, Brazil and South Africa on its side.

      But Obama’s determination and presence of mind thwarted such a move, she writes.
      IMO only MMS himself must’ve leaked the venue of the meeting .
      Once that world bank low functionary mmsingh was a NRI too.!

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