Tricky geopolitics and appeasement by arms purchases

[Modi has Putin in a clinch]

The official read on the summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 6, alongside the inaugural2x2meeting of the foreign and defence ministers of both countries — respectively S. Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh, and Sergei Lavrov and General Sergey Shoygu, is too sanguine for comfort.

Indian foreign policy is dictated less by geostrategics or long-term policy calculations than by immediate tactical political concerns, in the instant case, the need to pacify Moscow. So, the Modi regime is doing what Indian governments have done in the new millennium to get big powers on its side —  appeasing them with arms purchases. To palliate Moscow, a draft mutual military logistics support agreement, similar to the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement signed with America in 2019, has been readied to strategically equalise the situation. It is topped by a new spate of arms contracts for short range air defence systems, helicopters, assault rifles, etc worth over $5 billion.

This is in line with balancing India’s buys from the US over the last 20 years for mostly 1960s vintage military technology – M-777 light howitzers, C-130 and C-17 transport planes, and in New Delhi’s acquiescing in Washington’s ploy to use the 2012 Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) not to promote any worthwhile collaboration in the military high-tech sphere, as was promised, but to push for production of obsolete American weapons systems in India, such as the 1970s vintage F-16 fighter aircraft.

All this because Washington is convinced the Narendra Modi government values the fact of the production of something/anything in India, and not what is produced. It suggests the confusion at the heart of Modi’s Atmanirbharta programme and his government’s failure to use DTTI to pit the high-quality military hardware Russia provides along with technology transfer against the dated tech the US offers to make the point that the differential in technology and the American unwillingness to part with high-end tech are too significant a factor to ignore. That’s the kind of plain talk Americans understand but the Indian side is reluctant to deploy.

This is the arms supply scene in a nutshell and the backdrop for the Modi-Putin summit. The trouble is this meeting comes at a difficult time.

What restricts Russia

Western intelligence agencies, the Ukrainian government, and NATO, which are tracking real-time build-up and offensive maneuvering by 100,000 Russian troops in the Donbas region of the border with Ukraine — a former constituent republic of the USSR and now member of NATO — believe invasion is imminent. Moscow long ago made it clear it would not countenance an expansion of NATO, and to prove it is serious, snatched Crimea from Ukraine in Spring of 2014 and wants to add parts of eastern Ukraine, to its bag if it can. Russia has drawn the “red line”, indicating Ukraine is within its sphere of influence. The Biden Administration has responded by promising to beef up Ukrainian defence capability.

Short of a Russian invasion, that’s where matters will stand. Except, determined to dominate its periphery, Putin could create an international flashpoint by using some Ukrainian defensive step as pretext to attack.

If Moscow initiates hostilities, New Delhi can expect to be squeezed in a power play. Washington will demand that India, as a fellow democracy, act in concert with the West to oppose the Russian aggression. Depending on the timing of possible Russian hostilities, the 9 December virtual conference of democracies called by President Joe Biden to which India and Pakistan are invited — the old hyphenation there? — but, strangely, not Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, could end up as a means of pressing Modi to join the “democratic” consensus on Ukraine and to pressure his government, which mistakenly believes India is in no position to resist.

Putin , on the other hand, will expect India to be mindful of Russia liberally dispensing advanced weaponry and sensitive military technology (think Arihant-class nuclear powered ballistic missile-firing submarines!). He will hope that New Delhi will say or do nothing to irk Russia. Whether Modi will be able to side with Washington — how much and how successfully, without upsetting Russia, is the game to look out for.

In this regard, Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh in their 2×2 meeting will no doubt make much of New Delhi risking  punitive provisions in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA to stick with the $5.43 billion deal for five squadrons of the Russian S-400 air defence system.

However, there was never any chance of CAATSA being invoked because the US has too much to lose strategically if it does so. India is central to the security of the ‘Indo’ part of the Indo-Pacific and pivotal to holding off China, especially with President Xi Jinping itching to validate his newly acquired “helmsman” status by precipitating a showdown on Taiwan. Washington also doesn’t want to lose the political foothold it has gained in New Delhi over the last 25 years, courtesy Indian PMs putting out for the US, and a host of American think tanks who have set up shop in New Delhi and are manned by retired civil servants, senior military officers and diplomats peddling US-tilting policy options to the government.

Pakistan: Russia’s leverage against India

Except, there’s Putin. No slouch at the strategic chess game, the Russian President has already made a blocking move, putting in place Russia’s new Pakistan policy to ensure Modi does not deviate much, or go overboard on Ukraine, or other combustible issues. Sometime back, Moscow agreed to sell assault helicopters to the Pakistan army. On 26 November, Moscow and Islamabad initialled a wide-ranging draft-accord for economic coopertion, topped by a proposal for a 1,100km long north-south gas pipeline to stream 12.4 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to Pakistan, a deal to be formalised by February 2022, and for collaboration in the telecommunications, information technology, and various other fields.

Should New Delhi not heed these warnings, Putin will surely up the ante. Instead of making do with second-rate Chinese copies of Russian hardware (JF-17, a Chinese version of MiG-21), Pakistan may be able to access the latest and progressively more advanced Russian military equipment.

The geopolitics-minded Putin will not push India beyond a point though. He wants India in Russia’s corner as he expects relations with China to sour sooner rather than later, owing to clashing interests and friction points. Among these is the Russian fear of Chinese annexation by stealth of natural resources-rich Siberia. There’s already a flood of Chinese petty businessmen and labourers settling down in the Siberian districts adjoining the Chinese border, taking local Russian wives, and spawning not just a new breed of colonisers of the vast empty spaces in the Russian Far East but a consequential demographic creep that could lead to Chinese-origin people becoming a majority, in time to buttress Beijing’s claims on that part of Russian territory. Beijing is, after all, expert at alluding to some historical event or the other of a Chinese emperor or his emissary long ago reaching Vladivostok and points north or whatever and etching “a nine-dash line” in Siberia, who knows! — to claim all of it as China’s eminent domain!! Who is to say this won’t happen? It is, in any case, a nightmare prospect many Russian strategists worry about.

The other probable cause for a falling out is Central Asia.  Beijing is rapidly advancing its BRI (Belt Road Initiative) objectives via rail, road, air and telecom connectivity schemes along with massive commercial investments that are increasingly making the Central Asian Republics economic captives of China. It is stoking Moscow’s fears of a China growing too big too fast to contain. It is a subject where the interests of Russia converge with those of India and even the US, none of whom cares to have China dominate Asia, or even the Central Asian economies, which last could potentially have “a narco-terrorist” Afghanistan , an “insolvent [Pakistan] with nuclear weapons”, and India. in that order, falling like nine pins to the status of tributaries of China.

Where Modi’s going wrong

But Modi, hoping for rapprochement with China, has adopted a conciliatory attitude advised by the apex China policy forum within the government — the China Study Group (CSG) — appeasing Beijing by backing its contention that it has not intruded into the Indian side of Line of Actual Control. Reality is, over 1,000 sq miles of Indian territory northeast of the Y-Junction in the Depsang Plains in eastern Ladakh has been de facto annexed by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Such defeatist counsel is emblematic of a soft-headed Indian foreign policy. Look at what it has fetched the country: An India not doing anything proactive, or acting assertively and on its own to protect its territory and vital national interests. Instead, it is trying desperately to appease big powers by making arms purchases to get them on its side in a possible military conflict with China while seeking to postpone such contingency by appeasing the adversary with an approach that soft-pedals its aggression.

But such appeasement of friends and main adversary won’t obtain a more congenial correlation of forces. Nor is it a substitute for India needing to fight its own battles by itself and preparing to pay the price for it, because one thing is certain — the status quo ante in Ladakh that Jaishankar keeps talking about as a prerequisite for normal relations, will not be restored at the negotiating table.


[Published in The Print on December 4, 2021 under the title — “When Modi meets Putin, he should move India away from the cycle of ‘appeasement by arms buy’” at ]

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, Bangladesh, Central Asia, China, China military, civil-military relations, Culture, Decision-making, Defence Industry, Defence procurement, DRDO, Europe, Geopolitics, geopolitics/geostrategy, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian democracy, Indian ecobomic situation, Indian Navy, Indian Ocean, Indo-Pacific, Intelligence, MEA/foreign policy, Military Acquisitions, Military/military advice, Missiles, Pakistan, Pakistan military, Relations with Russia, Russia, russian assistance, russian military, SAARC, society, South Asia, Sri Lanka, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Technology transfer, technology, self-reliance, United States, US., Weapons, Western militaries. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Tricky geopolitics and appeasement by arms purchases

  1. Sankar says:

    Brilliant insight and strategic thinking!

  2. whatsintanyway says:

    @Bharat Ji How would Central Asia under Chinese thumb affect India? Afterall our industrial dependency is on the west.

    • whatsinitanyway@ — India’s access to Iran and Central Asia will be cutoff. This is no small development because our geographic policy ambit will get reduced virtually by more than half — see the map. China will be sitting astride the pathways to the north, west and the east on land at the Myanmar border, and seaward at Malacca.

  3. Amit says:


    Great article which highlights the ‘softness’ of the Indian state, even though there has been some improvement in the last decade. One policy that I’m surprised India still has not changed so far is it’s policy on Iran and giving impetus to connectivity between the Arabian Sea and Russia/Europe.

    India is bowing down to US pressure too much on Iran. There was talk about opening up Iranian banks in India just a few years back to circumvent US sanctions. India stopped buying Iranian oil and its relations have since slid with Iran. There are so many benefits to opening up relations with Iran – cheaper oil, more cooperation with Iran and Russia in Afghanistan, countering China in Central Asia through the North South corridor, greater pressure on Pakistan etc. it will also bring Russia and India closer through potentially higher trade and greater connectivity to Russia to the Arabian Sea. It will automatically reduce Russian pressure on India through Pakistan. Opening up the North South corridor will also align with EU interests for greater connectivity in Central Asia (with its recent announcement of investing $384B in connectivity projects to counter the BRI). Doing all this will also ensure that India emerges as a truly independent pole in a multi polar world.

    When I think about the negatives of India being bold on Iran, yes, the US and Israel and the Middle East states will be annoyed. But like you mention, the US needs India in its Indo Pacific strategy, and its corporations would love more access to a Indian markets. So that piece will not be affected as long as India dangles it’s market access to the US and does a good trade deal with them. Israel and ME states are too small to have any major impact on India. Israel is super concerned about nuclear weapons in Pakistan and Indo Israeli cooperation will continue. Plus they will continue to need Indian market access either in defence or commercial.

    Additionally, India can act as a bridge to improve relations between Russia and the U.S. After all China is a bigger threat to the US than Russia. The US and Russia are engaged in a meaningless tussle which is harmful to both of them. Both of them think they are superpowers of yore, which they no longer are.

    But all this requires some boldness on India’s part. The impression I get is that India is constantly defensive about acting on China, acting in Afghanistan and Central Asia, and downright soft on Iran.



      Why should Iran join with India against China ? When you put yourself into the shoes of the Iranians they will see it is India who ditched them the last time when they were reeling under sanctions from the Trump administration. I mean what exactly Iran received since she gave Chabahar on a platter to India ?

      1. India back stabbed Iran by deploying Baloch militants in Chabahar . This was clear when Mr Kulbhushan Jadav was caught by the Iranians and handed over to the Pakistanis. The presence of India-trained Baloch militants inside Chabahar threatens not only Pakistan but also Iran since these same terrorists target Iranians.

      2. India stopped oil imports when Iran was reeling from Trump sanctions. China continued to purchase Iranian oil at that crucial time.

      3. Indian agencies have strong ties with both the CIA and Mossad. Considering the huge number of assassinations that both the Mossad and the CIA have carried out inside Iran in last few years. So what if RAW continues to share Iranian informations with both the Mossad and the CIA that may lead to more assasinations of Iranians.

      4. You should know that after all Iran is an Islamic republic which cannot but condemn those anti-Muslim positions of the Indian state of past like Kashmir.

      Considering all the above factors, I believe that India cannot have the level of relationship with Iran which you want.

      I welcome your views on the same.

      • Amit says:

        Your comments make it sound that Iran has no interest in improving relations with India. I don’t think this is true. Not buying Iranian oil has made India lose influence there. By restarting these purchases, it will improve relations with Iran. Iran is a difficult nation to negotiate with based on what I’ve read. But India should develop this relationship as it has a lot of positives for India. This is one area where India should show some boldness and defy US sanctions.

  4. V.Ganesh says:

    @BharatKarnad You’ve wrongly written that Ukraine is a member of NATO. NATO is yet to admit Ukraine as its member.

  5. RK Narang says:

    thank you sir, interesting and pertinent observations warm regards Gp Capt (Dr.) R K Narang VM (Retd.)

  6. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @Professor Karnad- “the status quo ante in Ladakh that Jaishankar keeps talking about as a prerequisite for normal relations, will not be restored at the negotiating table.”

    Even Jaishankar knows it. He keeps on going on about the aforesaid like a broken record is because he wishes these meaningless talks to continue.

    Jaishankar’s son’s think tank has taken and maybe still takes hefty donations from China. Jaishankar and his family are happily milking two big cash cows (USA & China)

  7. Received by email: From Air Marshal Harish Masand (Retd)
    Harish Masand
    Sat, 4 Dec at 7:49 pm

    Pointedly accurate and hard hitting. Hope they listen.

    Warm regards,


  8. Received by email from Joydeep Sircar
    Sun, 5 Dec at 10:44 am

    The BJP leadership has a core of cowardice surrounded by a thick layer of bluster. This has been very visible in the manner in which it has buckled before Mamata in Bengal and Tikait and the farmer agitation. You are unnecessarily blaming the China Studies Group. It has, like a wise courtier, only given advice that a cowardly govt. would find palatable.

    The BJP wants to hang on to power at all costs, and is unwilling to jeopardise its domestic electoral fortunes by militarily confronting China. Modi has developed a fake sadhu persona and continually indulges in sweet-smelling oratory which does not quite dissipate the taint of lying and cowardice that hangs about him, as it has continually done about BJP and its guru Savarkar. Can you blame the China Studies Group for the indecisive bungling over IC 814? A bania party spectacularly failed the test of courage at Amritsar and so did its gutless ‘lron Man’.

    India will sit on the fence in case of a US-Russia conflict over Ukraine and mouth platitudes. The conflict is going to be of short duration, and end as soon as Biden manages to extract money from the tightfisted Europeans !

    • Deepak says:

      You are correct Sir in analyses of BJP under Modi. They lack Kshatriya spirit of fighting and turned governance into a business model.
      Modi’s silence on Bengal post poll violence (mostly targeting Hindus who voted for bjp) by TMC goons(mostly jihadi faction) reminds me of Gandi’s silence(who supported Khilafat to appease muslims) post Moplah Hindu genocide.
      Even Modi’s fake Sadhu persona is nothing different from that of Gandhi’s which fooled large section of the people to turn into cowardice instead of fighting for Independence.
      Role of RSS has become one that of Dhritarashtra instead of Vidhura supporting/shielding all acts of Cowardice of this government with master stroke,tactical retreat theories instead of guiding course correction when government is involved in taking 1 misstep after another.

  9. andy says:

    @ Bharat
    Re”But such appeasement of friends and main adversary won’t obtain a more congenial correlation of forces. Nor is it a substitute for India needing to fight its own battles by itself and preparing to pay the price for it, because one thing is certain — the status quo ante in Ladakh that Jaishankar keeps talking about as a prerequisite for normal relations, will not be restored at the negotiating table.”

    Truer words never been written!!What explains such pussilanimity on part of the political class is beyond comprehension,the armed forces being cut to size by the politico bureaucratic class since 1947, seems to have drained the offensive spirit so necessary for proactively staring down the enemy and taking him out if required. The army seems to have set the benchmark by exultation over sucess in COIN operations,rather than expeditionary endeavours, Maybe the politicians are responsible for the sloth, nonetheless it exists and should be rooted out for the military to be deemed a world class fighting force

    Years of diplomacy and one surgical strike or bombing of a terrorist camp is not dissuading the Pakistani pygmy from fomenting terrorism in Kashmir,what hope then of the Chinese salami slicing being checked by building up forces at the LAC but not following through by launching an offensive to regain lost territories?

    The Chinese bullies were last embroiled in real combat in the late 1970s, wherein they invaded Vietnam and were given a bloody nose by the untrained militias,leading to them declaring victory and getting out of a sticky situation. The only tactically sound manoeuvre of the SFF occupying the Kailash range has been undone by bargaining it away for some inconsequential real estate on the Pangong tso,rather than the strategically important Depsang Y junction. Since nothing seems to be working in dislodging the Chinese, at the very least an out manoeuvring move to regain patrolling points should be undertaken,if hostilities breakout then so be it. But this requires guts and gumption sadly missing in the primary protagonists.

    • whatsintanyway says:

      Gaurav Tyagi@ — Your argument is statistically incorrect.

      • whatsintanyway says:

        Gaurav Tyagi@ — Swap China and India in your sentence, it will be correct then

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @whatsinitanyway- This is a highly shameful incident. Even if there was any intelligence on militants in the vehicle, the soldiers should have warned the occupants, searched the vehicle instead of being trigger happy.

        China doesn’t have military deployed in civilian areas unlike India. Regarding last year’s border clashes if we believe the Indian government’s version then also it proves the incompetence of Indian forces. Agreements on paper aren’t meant to be taken so seriously especially when life/death situation arises.

        The commanding officer of the Indian unit should have instructed his soldiers to open fire on the Chinese instead of indulging in a useless, brutal/bloody wrestling game which lasted for hours and resulted in heavy casualties.

        Colonel Santosh Babu also erred in by going unarmed to meet his Chinese counterparts.

  10. Tony says:

    Modi’s background here comes in picture , he is like your bachelor uncle always avoids getting in arena whether it’s that of marriage , family or that of war. He is coward who was blessed with exceptional good luck , old pracharaks of gujarat have told how he was avoided at all costs as he would hug you and call you my mentor , brother etc and backbite and stab you whenever needs arises even when he was nobody. Indians or Hindus have expectations that are way too high for this intellectual pygmy who always had books in hand or in his room for show off and that too russian classics but hardly ever read them . He was tolerated as he had hyper sweet tongue with which he could get things done but alas these things don’t work in geopolitics.

  11. Email received from former ambassador, Smita Purushottam, founding Chairperson of SITARA (Science, Indigenous Technology & Advanced Research Accelerator)
    Mon, 6 Dec at 8:58 am

    Our import dependence does not change. Meetings are convened to figure out how to appease big clients, and in conferences we are told this is a way to cement allies. Truly sad.
    Smita Purushottam

  12. Deepak says:

    Appeasement politics and turning blind eye has ruined this country.
    Pritviraj appeased his opponent Turkic Muslim invader Muhamed Ghori after winning 1st battle of Tarain which resulted in his defeat in 2nd battle of Tarain and also 800 years of Indian slavery.Gandhi appeased muslims to help his so called peaceful independence struggle which ended in Partition of India and his appeasement to british ended in death of millions of Indian soldiers dying on behalf of British in world war.Nehru appeased Chinese leadership by turning blind eye to Chinese occupation of Tibet with slogan of Hindi Chini bhai bhai ended in huge defeate to India in 1962 losing Aksai Chin and parts of Arunachal pradesh.Congress appeasement to xtian missionaries turned Northeast hotbed of separatism.Most prime ministers appeased soviet Union or Some western power without getting much benefits to India in return for this.
    RSS’s appeasement politics for increasing its acceptability factor and recognition with creation of Muslim Rashtriya Manch,repeated utterance of common DNA ,common ancestry,Hindus and Muslims only defer in mode of worship and other non sense lies(deliberate/intellectual banckrupcy?) has destroyed genuine Hindutva movement from so called Hindu care takers(backstabbers?) like RSS which only do lip service for Hindu related issues.
    Surrender Modi’s appeasement and turning blind eye is beyond all limits.He appeases pakistan and chinese leadership with exception only during election season when he suddenly turns patriotic action hero targeting China and pakistan in particular for votes,appeases all his haters,enemies,blackmailers,anti nationals end result is anarchy.

  13. whatsinitanyway says:

    @Gaurav Again I would mention your argument is Statistically incorrect. I didn’t know if it was police with Tanks at Tianenmen or perhaps no Chinese died during their Civil war.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      Both these incidents which you mention happened during the last century. More than 2 decades of this century have passed. Talk about current situation rather than digging up the past skeletons.

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      Statistics and accounting both are juggling numbers. Do you really believe in the official data of the Indian government?

      I don’t believe in the official figures of either the Chinese or the Indian establishment.

      Anyways, since you seem to be a big lover of statistical data, take 2000 (start of the new millennium) as the base year and count how many civilians have been shot dead by the Indian army in J&K as well as Northeast.

      Compare it with similar Chinese operations by PLA against Chinese civilians in the mainland of China.

      Btw, China doesn’t have a law like AFSPA in their whole country.

      • whatsintanyway says:

        “What’s the point in having laws if your courts don’t work” – ancient Chinese proverb 🙂 .

  14. Amit says:


    I was doing some number crunching of Indian defense expenditures and noted that India’s ambitious plan of achieving $25B in local defense production is highly unlikely. And if you look at potential local production of defense equipment, it is more likely to fall from today’s levels than go up.

    From publicly available data (IBEF), Indian defense production in 2019 was $11B, with 21% private sector and remaining public sector. To grow to $25B by 2025, the CAGR (compound annual growth rate) would have to be ~15%. Now historically, from 2015-19, defense production CAGR was 3.9% with public sector growing at 1.4% and private sector growing at 13.3%. I calculated some scenarios to check what would be required to reach $25B in local production by 2025 (of which $5B is targeted exports). Even with private sector CAGR of 25% and Public Sector CAGR of 5% (which are both significant increases from historical numbers), India’s local defense production will reach $20B. To reach $25B, private sector would need to grow at 25-30% and public sector at 9-10%, which is highly unlikely given historical growth rates.

    Now India’s capital expenditure in 2019-20 was ~$16B. So local production % was ~62% (accounting for $1.3B in exports in 2019; = (11-1.3)/16). Assuming India grows at 7% CAGR between now and 2025, India’s defense capex would be ~$25B in 2025 (assuming 2.5% of GDP (=$4T by 2025) spent on defense and 25% of defense budget being capex). If India’s defense production reaches $20B by 2025, out of which $5B is exported, local defense production % is still (20-5)/25 = 62%. So even with aggressive growth, local production % will remain the same. It will be higher than current levels if exports are lower. It is more likely that local production % will reduce. India will continue to import at near current levels or higher at least through 2025.

    The only way local content increases is if locally produced content is used for local production – so for the 62% local production, let’s say local content increases from 60% to 80%. Then local content production would increase from ~36% to 50%. This kind of matches with what I heard a General say on the Defenders program on Sansad TV.

    So basically, India will continue to play the defense import game with different countries, at least through this decade. I don’t see that changing much. Its just not possible – the numbers are too daunting.

    • Amit@ — Your conclusion is correct on the basis of the numbers. But these figures are based on the production capacities mostly in the public sector defence industry. This is why I have been advocating for two decades now the need to bring th private sector majorly in to compete with the DPSUs for all defence contracts. In 1999 I wrote a paper for the Technology group headed by Roddam Narsimha in the 1st NSAB where I detailed how this can be achieved. This particular proposal was detailed in my 2015 book — Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet), pages 450-454.

  15. Amandeep Singh says:

    Dr Karnad, I am waiting for your views on the following 2 events:
    * The Ambush of Assam Rifles CO
    * As the media is calling it, of the “botched ambush” by Para SF in North-East.
    Amusingly an FIR has been filed against the Para SF, how is this possible when AFSPA is in place?

  16. Amit says:


    I’ve been doing some research into India’s EW and cyber capabilities. There seems to be a wide range of opinions on this topic. Some articles from last year indicated that India is about 20 years behind the Chinese in EW and Cyber capabilities. A more recent video indicated that India is 30 years behind.

    However, recent articles also indicate that the Uttam AESA radar will be demonstrated shortly by the IAF and be integrated with the Tejas Mk1A (22nd unit onwards). India is also upgrading its Sukhois and Mig 29s with EW suites and other weapons upgrades. Additionally, the Rafale have the best EW suite in the region according to some articles. The Uttam radar is supposed to nullify the J20s advantage. Now, this is all related to Aerial EW capabilities. I’ve also read articles about India potentially discussing terrestrial EW systems purchases from Russia. India has also increased its AWACS fleet and intends to expand it further. To me all this does not sound like India is 20-30 years behind China in EW. Also, I understand that China has only 700 aircraft that are 4th gen out of its fleet of 2800. So how asymmetric is the China EW threat against India?

    On the Cyber front, India has operationalised its Cyber Command reporting to the CDS. Recently, for the first time, there were reports in China of potential cyber attacks initiated by India. The IISS rates Indian cyber capabilities at level 3 while China is at level 2. Only the US is at level 1. I also have read articles that India has sent about 100 of its personnel to the US to train on latest cyber and AI technologies. India is also among the top 5 nations in terms of AI manpower. Given all this, would India be 20-30 years behind China in cyber and AI? To me it seems unlikely. India has access to the required hardware, software and manpower. Indian digital infrastructure has improved recently too. It seems like there is some excessive negativity on Indian capabilities.

    Any strategy has to be based on capabilities. The political stance that India has taken against China indicates that it will fight if compelled to. However, what strategy it uses to fight will depend on its capabilities.

    What would your sense be in terms of India’s EW and Cyber capabilities? Would you think that the gap with China has reduced recently? I think this would be a hugely important question for India to assess especially in light of the recent crash of the CDS’ helicopter, which has the potential to escalate tensions with our neighbours.

  17. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @whatsintanyway- Nice saying.

    Do you think courts in India work? Look at the pending cases from the district courts onwards to the Supreme Court.

    Check out the number of under trials languishing in jails.

    Law universally is a cobweb, meant to catch small flies. Bigger insects just break their way through with impunity.

  18. Shivram Gangadharaiah says:

    Ref “appeasing them with arms purchases” – our 2 big purchases from Russia, i.e. S400 & AK203 are very much required by us, and are of good quality, right? Or, is it otherwise? Thanks

  19. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @Professor Karnad & V. Ganesh- Check
    out the following;

    Nato has indicated it would not defend Ukraine if Russia attacked it.

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