Drone danger: Just waking up to it?

128382_600
Sure!

Drones which dropped small explosive packages on the Jammu air base just missed hitting — not by much — a helicopter unit parking area and the air traffic control tower. Consider this a trial run.

What if a parked hepter had been struck? Depending on whether it was armed and ready with a full ordnance load of missiles, rockets and bombs, and a full tank, and on how many other hepters were in the vicinity, this would have been a humungous fratricidal fire attack — the first exploding hepter destroying other aircraft.

That the realtime photoimagery or IR sensor guidance was available to the drone platforms and that the hepters were in the crosshairs suggests its handlers were after big targets and wanted this to have a big demonstration effect. Logically, then the attacked aircraft would have to be expensive ones; in this instance, that means the targets were the attack helos stationed at the Jammu AFB at the time, or deployed there for the nonce.

There are two types of high value attack hepters in service with the IAF — the AH-64 Apache and the Russian Mi-24. In rounded figures, the Apache costs Rs. 695 crores or US$ 100 million each; the Mi-24 comes in at around US$ 14 million. If it is officially contended that what the drones missed were utility/transport hepters then the unit cost of the Russian Mi-17 is some US$ 9 million.

Now, let’s calculate the exchange ratio — the ratio of the cost of the drone lost to the cost of the destroyed hepters — the adversary would have obtained had the attack operation succeeded. The cost of the drone, assuming it was equipped with miniaturised camera, etc and a communications link, wouldn’t have exceeded Rs. 2 lakhs or US$ 2,700. Had the drone taken out, say, one Apache worth $100 million the exchange ratio just in monetary terms would have been 1:37000!! Had two more Apaches been thus destroyed the ratio would have mounted to 1:111,000. If we assume a single Mi-24 was hit, the exchange ratio would have been still terrifically lopsided at 1: 5186. In case it was the Mi-17, the E-ratio would be 1:3333.

You get the idea.

A former CAS, S Krishnaswamy, has penned an op-ed, post-Jammu attack, when everybody has suddenly become alive to the threat posed by drones/UAVs. (https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/drone-detection-system-jammu-airfield-bomb-attack-7380116/). He says drones are means of terrorism, that “hundreds of drones” could be launched by Pakistan to “harrass” India, and then alights on the surefire solution senior Indian military officers always do when they get the problem wrong and are otherwise fresh out of ideas — he talks imports! By way of a throwaway line Krishnaswamy mentions helicopters in anti-drone role. Presumably, he is referring to the directed energy (laser) doo-dah on the Apache able to disable lowflying drones. The Apache in anti-drone role, however, is nonsense because it will require an improbably large fleet of AH-64s to be in the air all the time, 24/7/365! This Apache mention is a prelude to his recommending buying systems to detect and to destroy drones abroad.

From this ex-Air Chief Marshal’s piece — one thing is clear. He hasn’t a clue about the evolving nature of drones and neither does the IAF brass who, over the years, have never seriously mulled the drone/UAV as principal offensive weapon system and surveillance platform. Tool of harrassment — really??!! Nor how drones/UAVs are helping manned combat aircraft to obsolesce fast because anything worth targeting is more vulnerable to small, highly agile, inexpensive drones than a new fangled combat aircraft our blinkered fighter-jock community leading the IAF into the future may insist on procuring. And he and the IAF pooh-bahs know even less about indigenous capability.

In this respect, a small but revealing episode. The day before yesterday, out of the blue, a retired Vice Chief of the Air Staff called me up. He asked me to republish an op-ed of mine he says he read 10-15 years ago that warned about the danger from drones, which he said was “prophetic”. He recalled how he had gone with my article to meet the then Air Force Chief and his Principal Staff Officers to ask them to do what I had urged in that piece: Take drones seriously, because they are the future, only to be told by them that “Karnad is a maverick”. Maverick in IAF terminology is a term of abuse.

Actually, I first talked about drones and unmanned aerial platforms making combat aircraft obsolete in 1986 in a two part series published in the then Khushwant Singh-edited Illustrated Weekly of India. It was written from Washington and after discussing the subject with many leading lights in the US, such as Jacques Gansler, then Under-Secretary of Defense in-charge of acquisitions. Given the technology trend path, I had recommended in those articles that, rather than waste time and money on the Light Combat Aircraft project that was just getting started and which aircraft I predicted would be dated by the time it hit the tarmac, HAL, IAF and the Indian government would be better off if they concentrated on designing and developing a family of drones/UAVs for various roles in aerial warfare of the future.

It earned me, on my return to India, the anger of the then science adviser to defence minister V Arunachalam and a trip to the LCA project in Bangalore and a briefing by its director, Dr Kota Harinarayanan. Enjoyably, I was, perhaps, amongst the first outsiders to actually sit in a live LCA glass cockpit mockup with fly-by-wire, and engage in what can be termed a dynamic video game of an aerial fight of me in the LCA versus one, two, or three “raiders” being managed by the head of the avionics software group, a US-trained engineer. (This was a long time ago and I hope I got most things right about the B’lore trip!) And I liked what I saw.

It is another matter that seeing the IAF time and again make a hash of things by choosing yet another foreign fighter plane and waste national resources while stepmothering the indigenous LCA into near extinction, I have been all for the Tejas to make it and for its technologies to be continuously upgraded and for larger, more modern and lethal variants to be funded. Meaning, if the IAF is damn fool enough to believe manned aircraft will be viable well into the 21st century, then I’d rather the government pour national resources — your and my tax money — into the homegrown Tejas and Indian industry than in a deal for an imported item that will improve the bottomlines of Boeing or Lockheed or Sukhoi or Mikoyan or Dassault or Saab or EADS.

The reason I say the IAF brass are clueless is mainly because they seem entirely unaware of the drone/UAV technologies — hardware and software — of the most sophisticated kind being designed, developed and marketed in India. According to a hard count by Group Captain RK Narang, there are 26 private sector companies, who are at the cutting edge of drone tech and doing well. He made this list for SITARA (Science, Indigenous Technology & Research Accelerator) — a forum founded and headed by a retired diplomat, Smita Purushottam, which has relentlessly pushed indigenous technology and has repeatedly succeeded in getting the Prime Minister’s Office to intervene, especially in the telcommunications area where the Ministry of Telecommunications and its various agencies seem bent on sabotaging Narendra Modi’s atmanirbharta policy by letting in foreign 5G technology vendors by the backdoor. A seasoned IAF helicopter pilot and author of the usefully informative 2020 book — ‘India’s Quest for UAVs and Challenges’, Narang was, until he retired earlier this year, the leading proponent of UAVs in IAF. One suspects though that while his seniors in service indulged him by supporting his research, his recommendations were not taken too seriously by Air HQrs. Hope they will do so now.

It seems to me that were these 26 firms to work together per a single plan and integrate their resources, they would produce a world class series of surveillance, warfighting and attack drones including drone swarms operating in distributed (artificial) intelligence mode, as also anti-drone technologies. Such an enterprise should long ago have been underway with the IAF helming it. But considering its regressive mindset the chances of its doing so are, well, zero. In the main because IAF brass fear that drones/UAVs will divert resources from combat aircraft acquisition programmes they are wedded to come hell or high water! Such purchases will be made even if these aircraft stand next to no chance of surviving actual fight with drones. Indeed, these aircraft will be lucky to get off the ground in the face of attacking UAV/D-swarms.

Relying on DRDO to perfect its drone and anti-drone systems, like land-based and airborne low energy lasers to shoot down drones/UAVs, and IT systems to scramble their guidance loops, is unnecessarily to lose time and money. Most countries are fast-forwarding their drone/anti-drone projects by going commercial — that is, getting companies vending whole drone systems and related technologies for commercial use, to build more rugged and capable drones and unmanned aircraft to milspecs for military use. This is the way to go and Narang’s list of Indian companies should ideally be immediately involved and commissioned by the Ministry of Defence to have time-certain delivery of finished drone weapons and surveillance systems and anti-drone tech systems. Because this is private sector where time is money there’ll be no time or cost over-runs.

Except, as in all advanced technology areas where procurement is featured, the process is deliberately elongated by everybody in the acquisition hierarchy and in the DRDO in the hope that IAF and Indian govt will opt for the usual, derated, inherently compromised, foreign hardware, and that this will involve a lot of foreign trips, lavish “entertainment” — “commissions” anybody? and, who knows what else. Can the Indian firms provide them such goodies? Of course, not.

So import everything!! Third World/Fourth World modus operandi zindabad!!

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.
This entry was posted in arms exports, asia-Pacific/Indo-Pacific, Asian geopolitics, civil-military relations, corruption, Culture, Cyber & Space, Decision-making, Defence Industry, Defence procurement, domestic politics, DRDO, Europe, Geopolitics, geopolitics/geostrategy, Great Power imperatives, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian ecobomic situation, Intelligence, Internal Security, Military Acquisitions, Military/military advice, Missiles, Pakistan, Pakistan military, Relations with Russia, Russia, society, South Asia, technology, self-reliance, Terrorism, United States, US., Weapons, Western militaries. Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Drone danger: Just waking up to it?

  1. whatsinitanyway says:

    What about the new under 200cr no global tender rule? Given the low costs of drone systems(including weapons, radars, surveillance systems) I think procurement will involve desi companiee only. An example would be the ‘ Switch ‘ drones tender.
    However if the whole defence establishment is hell bent on importing then a cheeky way around would be to club all tenders(for the three services) into one.

  2. By email from Air Marshal (Retd) Harish Masand:
    Harish Masand
    To:
    bharat karnad

    Sat, 3 July at 6:54 pm

    Right on the mark, Bharat.

    • San Mann says:

      Prof Karnad, I wish you’d write something about the latest turn of events in Afghanistan, where the US has now very suddenly fully abandoned the country, leaving a very vulnerable govt in Kabul suddenly completely alone to fend for themselves. Is the US doing this deliberately, to help bring about a complete collapse of the Afghan govt, and usher in a Taliban clean sweep of the country? The Taliban are immediately targeting northernmost border districts in a very coordinated offensive, indicating that Pak Army are very much in charge of the military strategy.

      BI feel we need to look at why has the Biden Whitehouse suddenly decided to abandon Afghanistan, especially after so strongly criticizing the Trump Whitehouse over its desire for withdrawal? Is it possible that the Whitehouse wants to abet a complete Taliban takeover – perhaps in the hopes of using the Taliban to fight against Iran? Back when Taliban originally appeared and began sweeping across Afghanistan, it seemed very obvious that they were receiving support from both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, with America’s tacit approval. The goal was not only to use a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan as a springboard to Central Asia, but also to open up a new military front against Iran on its eastern border. But AlQaeda quickly jumped into the fray to make it go awry, culminating in the 9-11 attacks.

      In the 20 years since then, Iran has managed to recover economically and militarily, now reaching the brink of crossing over the threshold into nuclear weapons state status. Iranian-backed guerrilla forces in Yemen are also posing an increasing threat to Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, Iran is now preparing to sign a huge strategic economic deal with China that could have very far-reaching implications. So the US may be desperately searching for a way to derail this strategic trajectory which could heavily undermine US power in the future. A Taliban takeover of Afghanistan might be just the Faustian gimmick Washington needs in order to salvage its situation – since Washington hasn’t ever bothered to learn enough from its past Faustian bargains to abandon such stuntsmanship. Pakistan is feeling very economically vulnerable and overly dependent upon China, after having lost its Saudi patronage. However, the prospect of a newly opened military front against Iran’s eastern border might be enough to woo Riyadh back towards collaboration with Islamabad. Unfortunately, the trans-nationalist AlQaeda and ISIS are still in existence, including in Afghanistan, and America’s newly open southern border must not have escaped their notice. Is a new disaster in the making?

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @San Mann- This is the US foreign policy irrespective of a Democrat/Republican President;

        “Initiate wars wherever possible, supply weapons to both sides. Military confrontations are not supposed to be won but meant to be continuous”

      • San Mann says:

        @Mr Tyagi – US has achieved continuous non-stop unending warfare against Taliban for 20 years without defeating them. Unfortunately those in the inside of the Deep State who run US foreign policy don’t even give a damn about the lives of American troops, whom they treat like cannon-fodder.

        US went to Afghanistan because of 9-11, and now its withdrawal may facilitate a Taliban victory which could once again renew the possibilities of further 9-11 attacks. With the addition of a very porous US southern border, this has all the makings of a Perfect Storm.

  3. Sohamg says:

    So the brass will remain in its usual stupor ? And the recent statements from the CDS etc. are just talk ?

  4. By email, Lt. Gen (Retd) JS Bajwa (editor, Indian Defence Review and fmr, Chief of Staff, Eastern Command)
    Gen Bajwa
    To:
    bharat karnad

    Sun, 4 July at 12:01 pm

    Pranam Bharat,
    Two issues :
    – This “cost-benefit” comparison is an excuse not to react. The threshold will be conveniently raised as an excuse – hardly any damage etc etc. Even an attempt to damage should draw retribution. The next question is whom do you strike at? Is it the LeT or any terror organisation or ISI or if it is a military establishment targeted then should we target one of theirs?? For that, detailed intelligence inputs must be collated on a regular basis and be readily available for prompt retribution. Will that result in a spiral escalation of the situation – probably. Are we prepared – we should be.

    – Disruptive technologies will never emanate from those big ticket defence industries which are manufacturing defence equipment. They cannot axe their own feet. It is startups which will deliver. DRDO and HAL are non-starters as far as counter Drone technologies go.
    Regards
    Gen Bajwa

    • Sankar says:

      Drones are low flying objects in the sky and are slow. Therefore, they are vulnerable to ground fire and hand-held jamming pods. Drones have also a very limited range, hence can only be launched from sites close to the border. If the intelligence (military and/or civilian) can locate the launching sites (say by overflying close to the border for surveillance), their operation could be neutralized by, I guess, pinpoint airstrike. Terrorists are unlikely to have the expertise to operate drones since it requires more sophistication than a shoulder-fired missile to fire. There will be some military involvement in launching drones in enemy territory.

  5. Email from Dr V. Siddhartha (former Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, and Emeritus Scientist in DRDO)
    V Siddhartha
    To:
    CAPS Library, dgnmf, Director CLAWS, Deputy Director Research
    Bcc:
    bh_karnad@yahoo.com
    Sun, 4 July at 2:54 pm
    Cf.: >> July 03, 2021, Bharat Karnad: https://bharatkarnad.com/2021/07/03/drone-danger-just-waking-up-to-it/.

    My attempts to get Karnad to change the title of his Blog “Security Wise” to “Pre-empting Kumbahkaran” have been unsuccessful.

    VS

  6. RK Narang says:

    The threat posed by small, slow and low flying drones, technological developments in detect, track and neutralise systems & three pronged strategy for India to develop Counter-sUAS and associated capabilities was proposed in my article titled “Armed Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) Swarm: Big Threat of Small UAS” that was published in the annual book Asian Defence Review published by Centre for Air Power Studies in 2019 https://www.academia.edu/40901397/Armed_sUAS_Swarm_Big_Threat_of_Small_UAS_C_sUAS_Development_and_Threat_Mitigation_by_India. At this juncture, Indian industry needs support from medium and larger Indian companies and venture capital entities for funding, formulating business strategies, scaling up production and for export. Similarly, It needs support from Indian defence forces, para-military, Central and State departments, who are procuring drone and counter drone systems or pursuing several drone related schemes such as SVAMITVA. Any large scale drone and counter-drone systems procurement from abroad would hurt domestic industry. Indian drone and counter drone industry has enormous potential to produce systems in India provided they are given opportunity and time to deliver. Decision makers not only in defence, but also in para-military forces, Central and State government departments would have a large role in the future trajectory of Indian drone and counter drone industry.

  7. Amit says:

    Sir, you make some valid points about India needing to make some hard choices about which weapon systems it procures. Maybe you are right that India does not need so many expensive aircraft systems anymore, what with India’s economy staggering at sub $3B for a long time. Maybe such weapon systems made sense when India’s economy was expected to grow rapidly. Now, it makes more sense to maximise effectiveness by using cheap and effective weapon systems. As for lack of momentum for indigenous drones, maybe we need a few more drone attacks for our system to wake up and build the right kind of public pressure to move things in that direction. Just like how things have started to seemingly move in the right direction after Galwan.

    Another point is the demonstration of these new technologies on our enemies. Pakistan and China don’t hesitate to demonstrate periodically, new techniques and technologies against India (drone weapons delivery, cyber attacks, electronic attacks on aircraft, maybe even this recent drone attack, etc). They have been doing it for decades. It’s time India too uses these new techniques against our enemies to keep them off guard, with the right kind of media attention so that we know what may be going on.

    Finally, it should be India’s strategic goal to defeat Pakistan and China in the hybrid/grey war that India has been fighting for decades. I don’t know what our strategists have planned, but it is clear that we are fighting a grey two front war. Let’s just clearly acknowledge that and fight to win. Russia just came out with a strategic statement about balancing ties between India and China, while clearly spelling out how it will handle the US. How about some clarity by India on the war it is fighting and how it will treat its enemies?

  8. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    https://indianexpress.com/article/india/lahore-hafiz-saeed-house-blast-pakistan-accuses-india-of-carrying-out-blast-7389061/

    Elections are due in U.P, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa & Manipur. Time to indulge in friendly fixed matches between both the neighbors.

    The game has become so predictable and boring now. Come on guys do something big.

  9. Deepak says:

    Fed up with Gandhian cowardliness of 56 inch chest who is still continuing same old Congress policy of hitting enemy only after beaten badly by enemy then again going to sleep till next attack. After balakot air strike (which was more of a compulsion due to election season) no follow up action was done to make sure Pak does not again do mischief. Our popular global leader has no big vision to make Pakistan suffer huge damages for any attack on India which India is capable of doing. All that Modi propaganda of success against Pakistan is not true success but only a tit for tat action but looks huge win for India only if we compare it to impotent reaction of former UPA govt.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Deepak- There is a character known in India as “James Bond”. He has indulged in false flag operations all throughout his career and glorified himself in the country as the special one.

      Kandhar hijacking, Parliament attacks, 26/11, Pulwama etc…the list is very long.

      The target is just to polarize the masses in India on Hindu (us) versus Muslims (Pakistan) line. ISI get paid good money through the aforementioned character to continue this circus.

      • DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

        Dear Gaurav,
        sO FORMER Pakistani Genreal Hamid Gul was spot on when he welcomed the election of the Modi government in 2019.

  10. Sankar says:

    This article brings into mind the US “Global Hawk” program which has been running for almost two decades now. I do not think they fall under drone/UAV technology although it is just semantics. The Global Hawk is an unmanned air platform, to my info it is comparable to the size of an AWACS, it performs as a surveillance aircraft, it flies high in the sky to gather military intelligence from the enemy territory, and has all jamming and early warning instruments with it. It has long-range and can be airborne for many hours. The US navy operates it from their control center in Guam to monitor the South China sea. It is in fact the state-of-the-art technology, not the business of a startup company to get involved. Even then it does not make the US F-35 redundant in any way. So the lesson could be for the IAF not to neglect its fighter-interceptor modernization program anyway, but to pursue some Global Hawk-type project in full steam alongside. Of course, it needs resources and technical expertise. It will also require input from the US to make a start. I do not think NATO has acquired that capability akin to the US Global Hawk.

  11. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    Dear Dr Karnad,
    Thanks a lot for your frank and very timely views. Well I believe this is again another ploy by the PRC to off-balance India and make us distracted over counter-terror in Kashmir region. Let us look at the bigger picture. Remember 1 year back I had mentioned in this forum that India is risking losing sOUTH ASIA our own neighborhood to China. Just look around us. Almost all major countries in South Asia (including Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka) are turning to China for vaccines at a critical juncture when India was needed to step up to the situation. But as I see it now the clock is ticking and slowly but surely we are at the process of losing our neighborhood to China. The more we get distracted in things like this Jammu drone , we will lose focus and determination.

    I would love your views on my analysis of the current situation and what do you think India should do to may be rectify the situation ?

    • Having a pacified neighbourhood by economically coopting all adjoining states, (minus China, of course) is the first step to India achieving great power. But we have been fixated on Pakistan so long and so intensely we are losing the plot, permitting China to encroach on our backyard. These have been some of my themes in all my books and other writings, since, well, I returned to India from the US in 1977.

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @Professor Karnad- Do you really think that India can compete with China when it comes to global/regional influence peddling through money power?

        Let’s assume for argument’s sake that it can. Now consider the following 2 statements;

        Modi gave a clean chit to China with his laughable line last year; “Mitroo.. naa koii ghussa haii……”

        A retired Army General with two date of births, in the Modi cabinet made another claim a few months back stating that India has encroached more times than China in the Chinese territory.

        China uses both these statements to make its point that India initiated the aggression last year.

        With leaders like the ones, we have India cannot even aspire to become a South Asian power but in the fantasies of the current establishment, India under Modi is already a “Vishvguru”

      • Amit says:

        One could say that five years back, India was ignoring the threat from China and was preoccupied with Pakistan. However, after Galwan, China has become India’s priority. This is clear based on the interviews with several senior military leaders who speak on YouTube, their analyses in media and India’s actions to counter China. I don’t have access to senior military leaders or Govt. Officials, but this is what I can gather based on various sources available publicly. However, there is a significant difference between realigning strategy and achieving outcomes.

        Even on the trade front, Indian strategy seems to be to integrate more with the BBIN states, integrate More with Myanmar and Thailand and try to compete effectively economically with China. However, here again, it is outcomes that matter and India is just not very good at execution. It has the right approach though. Frankly, for India to be more attractive as a trade partner it has to grow economically and it seems like that is just happening too slowly. I might add that our neighbours are also not that efficient and good at execution – so that’s another hindrance in achieving outcomes.

        While peace with Pakistan is beneficial to the whole region, I beg to differ with your approach. While China is India’s priority, peace with Pakistan is more likely to be attained by a punitive approach against it. The Pak army and ISI are sufficiently radicalised, and a significant proportion of the Pak population has been sufficiently fed with anti India propaganda for a long time – this ensures that it will be hard to overcome negative attitudes and achieve peace through talks. Talks and ceasefires are temporary acts to release pressure from time to time. India is fighting a grey war with both Pakistan and China. India Can’t ignore one or the other – it seems like India is responding to this twin threat albeit more reactively than proactively. It seems like India may have a plan to counter the twin hybrid threat. But India’s execution would need to improve.

  12. Rudr says:

    Sir should our companies be split into two(Tata/Reliance) groups and fund Democrats and Republicans so no matter what we’ll be benefitted

    • Good idea. But, there’s also the possibility of Democrats and Republicans happily taking our money and continuing with a fairly indeterminate course that Washington has pursued (where China is concerned) for the last 50-odd years.

  13. Krishna Soni says:

    Respected Sir @ Professor Karnad
    https://www.wionews.com/south-asia/hundreds-of-afghan-troops-flee-to-tajikistan-as-taliban-advances-395977
    https://www.wionews.com/videos/taliban-captures-several-districts-in-afghanistan-forces-flee-to-tajikistan-395830
    Will the Ghani Government collapse in the next 6 months and Taliban rise will destabilise South Asia and will have a global ramification akin to rise of Islamic State in Syria and Levant in 2014.

  14. Krishna Soni says:

    Respected Sir @Professor Karnad
    Prime Minister Modi wishes Dalai Lama: The Message for China
    Has India started playing Tibet card.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Krishna Soni- India was, is and will continue to be too scared of China to play the Tibet card.

      Dalai Lama made the biggest mistake of his life in continuing to stay in India. Had he moved to any Scandinavian nation (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland or even Iceland) He would have been able to pursue Tibetan agenda in a more meaningful manner.

  15. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    Dear Dr Karnad
    Thanks for very prompt reply to my post. When you talk about India coopting the whole of South Asia in an economic order, how do you think India can achieve it ? Every South Asian country barring Bhutan does more trade and investment from PRC than they do with Delhi.

    And unlike Delhi, these smaller South Asian countries get money from PRC without strings attached . Moreover most of South Asian countries’ own respective nationalism narratives have been built in direct opposition to what they consider “Hegemony of New Delhi”.

    So what are India’s options here to coopt whole of South Asia in an economic order as you prescribe ?

    Thanks and regards with best wishes
    Debanjan

    • The Indian economy can afford a unilateral free trade regime with adjoining states, allowing exports of purely indigenous good to be exported to India w/o tariff, and other such measures. China was allowed in because of Delhi’s cussed attitude .

      • DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

        Thanks again for your prompt reply. But almost all South Asian countries (especially Bangladesh since it is the rising star in South Asia) have huge trade deficits with India and moreover we just walked out of RCEP last year because we are becoming more and more trade-sceptic every year.

        China on the other hand has just opened up her market to these countries in South Asia.

        So how can we compete with the Chinese here ?

  16. Krishna Soni says:

    Dear Sir Professor Karnad , in your book and posts you had argued for privatisation of PSUs
    should BHAVINI ( Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited) also be privatised as it was responsible for the delay in commisioning of the fast breeder reactor at kalpakkam

  17. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    Dear Dr Karnad
    With the recent battlefield successes of the Taliban after the US pullout of Afghanistan, do you believe that our game plan vis a vis Baluchistan has taken big hit ? I feel there are the following developments :

    1. We are being forced to evacuate from certain consulates in Afghanistan
    2. Pakistan offering talks and reconciliation to Baloch militants
    3. With the weakening of the Ghani government and Taliban victories, the sanctuaries that RAW and NDS did offer to Baloch militants may be coming to an end.
    4. Both China and Pakistan are eager to put more money in Gwadar

    Does all these point to the conclusion that our hand in Balochistan has been further weakened due to the above mentioned points ?

    • This is fluid; let’s wait a little and watch, while maintaining relns with all parties.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Dear Debanjan- India under the present regime is totally incapable of fragmenting Pakistan.

      Modi government uses all this rhetoric just to maintain fake bravado and get votes in provincial/national elections.

      Army leadership in India has also realized it and are busy minting huge commissions on the foreign armaments shopping list provided to the PMO.

      Modi depends on IAS lobby from Gujarat. All his favorites are in PMO and they are ever ready to do his bidding.

      • DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

        To give credit to the present regime at least this particular government actually did three hitherto unthinkable deeds.

        1. Destroying article 375
        2. Baalakot strikes
        3. Great speech on Baluchistan

        It is a different matter that the capability of current India and her neighbors are not in favor of us, maybe. But at least this government tried its best. You must give it the credit where it deserves.

  18. Krishna Soni says:

    Respected Sir Professor Karnad
    Can India procure plutonium from international markets to boost Bhabha’s 3 stage nuclear progam?
    As yet, there exists no commerce in plutonium though there is no law that expressly forbids it.In fact, most nuclear treaties such as the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material address only U-235 and U-233.
    This is because Plutonium has so far not been considered a material suited for peaceful purposes.
    The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) merely mandates that special fissionable material — which includes plutonium — if transferred, be done so under safeguards.
    Thus, the LEGAL rubric for safeguarded sale of plutonium and safety procedures for moving radioactive spent fuel and plutonium already exists but it is not too complicated as in case Uranium.
    JAPAN and the U.K. who are looking to reduce their stockpile of plutonium will certainly be happy to sell it to India.

  19. Amar V says:

    Innovations in defense tech and strategies emerge when a consistent offensive posture is maintained ( a la USA). If we only play defense while those around us cook up new ways to attack us, we are doomed to fail. A pro active role in the newly abandoned Afghanistan might help India understand emerging threats and devise better strategies to combat aggressors of all stripes and hold back taliban.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Amar- India doesn’t share any land border with Afghanistan. The country is utter mess with numerous tribes and ethnic groups perpetually at each other’s throats.

      It will be an utter waste of time, money and resources dealing with the medieval mindset Taliban.

      India should completely ignore Afghanistan just maintain a token diplomatic presence there.

  20. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Talk is free. So speech in Baluchistan or any other subject doesn’t matter.

    Pulwama and Balakot were both pre arranged events with Pakistan in order to get Modi a second term otherwise BJP wouldn’t have won the 2019 elections.

    Removing article 370 is the only worthwhile thing done by Modi government in its seven years. I would say that turning the place into Union Territory has been the real ace since it renders the local politicians over there irrelevant.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.