There are two significant national security failures of longstanding that need correction. Hopefully, 2022 will be the year that practical solutions begin to get implemented.
China has occupied some 1,000 sq miles of strategically important Indian territory in the Depsang Plains in eastern Ladakh. The Narendra Modi government’s response, other than talking about China needing to restore the “status quo ante”, has been underwhelming. India’s China policy needs a massive course correction to institutionalise a strictly reciprocal — tit for tat — approach. India needs to strategically arm Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines as Beijing has done Pakistan.
Chinese market access has to be restricted to the same level Indian exporters face in China, and the flow of Chinese automobiles, mobile telephony goods, and light manufactures ought to be shut down. If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre wants India to replace China as the ‘workshop’ of the world, it should begin at home by jettisoning the still suffocating regulatory and bureaucratic controls.
The hardline policy has to be complemented with appropriate military force structuring. While the Indian Army may be able to mount a passable defence with massed forces to match China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) presence on the disputed border, it lacks the capacity to snatch back lost territory.
Such capability can be obtained by three offensive mountain corps (OMCs) for sustained proactive or aggressive action, and become financially viable only if the army’s three armoured strike corps — good only for the minor front against Pakistan — are reconfigured into a single composite corps for any Pakistan contingency. The remaining two strike corps need to be converted for mountain use with light tanks for high altitude operations.
These two formations, along with the Panagarh-based OMC (XVII Corps), will provide the means for the army to punch/counterpunch the PLA hard, and together with the existing defensively arrayed mountain divisions constitute a formidable fighting force able to blunt the PLA’s edge across the Himalayas, and limit Chinese influence in the extended region. Such repurposing of the armoured-cum-mechanised forces, if made part of the ongoing military reorganisation, that includes theaterisation, will minimise resistance to it within the army.
The other failure is regarding the aatmanirbhar (self-sufficiency) policy marked by confused thinking. Will the country be genuinely self-sufficient in arms if foreign supplier companies ‘make’ — in reality merely assemble — their products in India? This is exactly the ‘screwdrivering’ level of manufacturing technology the defence public sector units (DPSUs), such as HAL, Mazgaon Dockyard, et al, and the ordnance factories, have been mired in for the last 60 years.
They are habituated to license-manufacture contracts requiring them to just unpack the imported Completely Knocked-Down kits and Semi-Knocked-Down kits, and to screwdriver the various components and assemblies together to obtain weapons systems. Even here the advanced technologies pertaining to the weapons payload, propulsion, situational awareness, avionics, complex fire control systems, communications, etc. are transferred only as ‘black boxes’.
This process is labelled ‘indigenous production’, and the resulting ‘Made in India’ warships, submarines, and combat aircraft are boasted of as having 80 percent indigenous content, when this proportion is by weight, not value, as most high-end technologies that cost a bomb are imported whole, and account for 70 percent or more of the total contract value.
Further, these ‘screwdrivered’ DPSU-Ordnance Factory projects characterised by sloth, sleaze, corruption, bad work ethos, and low labour productivity and quality control rarely come in on time, or within cost. Worse, there is minimal technology ingestion, little reverse engineering, and no technology innovation and creation worth the name. This is the vicious arms dependency cycle the Department of Defence Production (DPP) in the defence ministry, the military and the DPSU-dominated defence industry now perpetuate in the guise of aatmnirbharta!
The stranglehold of the DPSUs in defence-related production is a liability. No government to-date has shown the political will, and economic common sense to integrate the highly-accomplished private sector into the national effort by allowing them to compete with the DPSUs for major military procurement deals. Consequently, accomplished firms with skilled workforce survive on sub-contracts from these DPSUs.
Consider the Tejas light combat aircraft. HAL’s annual production capacity is 16 aircraft; a second assembly line will double it, but won’t prevent the stretching of the induction period of the 83 Tejas the Indian Air Force has indented for, and to meet the potential demand for it abroad. The solution is multiple Tejas production lines requiring the DRDO to transfer source codes to several private sector companies for them to produce this aircraft and its variants in bulk for the IAF and for exports. Besides enabling the nascent Indian aerospace industry to take-off, it will create high-paying jobs, and generate revenues to amortise the vast investments made in this sector.
But who takes the long view in New Delhi?
Published in Moneycontrol.com, Dec 31, 2021, at https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/opinion/two-national-security-problems-india-must-address-in-2022-7886621.html
By email from Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha (Retd):
Fri, 31 Dec at 7:34 pm
Thank you for your article, very relevant for the Nation & the Leadership.
Warm greetings for the New Year.
By email from Air Marshal VK ‘Charly’ Verma (Retd)
I had suggested to ACM Dhanoa when he was CAS that second line for Tejas production should be at a BRD. He shrugged. What was the constraint, I don’t know. It is a simpler solution to speed up induction.
Not sure, Charly, that the Base Repair Depots with the IAF can cope with fullscale production of the Tejas LCA.
From Air Marshal Verma:
Fri, 31 Dec at 8:28 pm
BRDs can. I know their capability. Spin off will be more industry ready manpower when it leaves Air Force on release. Turf battle has to be won first.
All excellent suggestions that you have been making for several years now. What would be your take on the recent reforms on corporatising then OFB, the import restrictions list, the potential sales of Brahmos to Philipines and the recent spate of unicorns in India, which seem to indicate that entrepreneurship is finally taking hold in India. Is it finally happening in Indian defence? Or is it a lot of talk and propaganda? Or since so much of defence procurement and DPSUs are managed by bureaucrats, does article 311 need to go before real reform happens (from your book)?
Amit@ — You have hit on the nub of the issue — Article 311 of the Constitution guaranteeing that once recruited even the most corrupt, inefficient and ineffective “civil servants” cannot easily be fired, now multiply this by the crores of officials — petty clerks up to secretaries to GOI — and you can see the enormous drain on the Exchequer. For the “once in, and thereafter a lifetime on public dole”-system of “public service” that the taxpayer subsidises, it is “Balle, Balle!!”. In this respect, see something I wrote in the ‘Open’ magazine, issue of Dec 1, 2016 — “The 311 Problem” at https://openthemagazine.com/columns/comment/the-311-problem/
Reading all this makes me so disheartened that I wonder if India will ever get out of its rut! 311 requires a constitutional amendment and it has to be the politician to make that happen, not just at the federal level but also 2/3rd of the states. Far from becoming an election issue, no one even knows about this rule that much. Wonder how this will ever change.
Another change that is required is to remove the word ‘socialist’ from the constitution in the description of India. In my limited experience in running a business in India, even without unions, the communist parties exercise significant influence on company labor and make life difficult for businesses. It is the socialist labor laws that prevent businesses from growing large and world class. My understanding is that the labor law reforms have also been rolled back for now.
In the meanwhile, we live in a Darwinian world and China will punish India for its inefficiencies. Not just China, but anyone strong and powerful whose interests diverge from India’s. What a pathetic way to live!
It is never too late to arm your friends with decisive arms against a common adversary.
Wonderful article as usual by Mr Karnad. Wish you , your family and all the people in this forum a very happy and prosperous 2022.
1. You support arming to teeth ASEAN countries however why these ASEAN countries as well as Taiwan would like to arm themselves to teeth when a considerable chunk of their GDP consists of (apprx. 36 percent for Taiwan) exporting goods to China ? In the last two years, this amount has increased by a whooping margin so there is no justification on the basis of the countries to fight China on India’s behalf.
2. China-Taiwan or China-Philippines or China-Vietnam acrimonious relations are not at all similar to India-Pakistan enmity. In case of the former you can say it is economic competition whereas in the case of later enmity towards Pakistan is now part and parcel of our DNA. Therefore I do not believe these countries are going to gang up against China on our behalf.
3. Irrespective of whatever China does, the average Indian policymaker or general still considers Pakistan as the greatest threat to the Indic civilization. We are deploying even the S-400 on the borders of Pakistan and not China and this clearly suggests our strategic choice. The reason is that enmity towards Pakistan is now part and parcel of our DNA. An Indian will cease to be an Indian when he or she ceases to hate Pakistan. Period.
I would love to know your viewpoint on my analysis.
Nonsense. PLA will roll over the MSC,whether we put one or ten of them. PLA will operate at strategic level. PLARF will win the war in 60 minutes.They will smoke our C2 nodes and airbases in no time.The only way to deter a Chinese SRBM strike is to have a proven megaton agni-5 .PLA has not deployed SRBMs yet as they fear it will trigger a pre-emptive IAF airstrike. BUT they are capable of doing it at short notice. And Gen. Narvane knows all of this.That’s why DRDO is finally testing the desperately needed pralay missile. Also,it’s too late to nuclear arm Vietnam and Philippines given China’s N-buildup
Thank you sir for thought provoking article on the eve of new year 2022. Wishing you and your family a happy new year 2022. I would also like to draw your attention to the need for strengthening iDEX and Mehar Baba Competitions (of IAF) to harness the potential of young innovators, who are poached by foreign OEMs. These competition can help India in developing robust counter drone capability. In my article, Counter Drone Systems: An Opportunity for Self-Reliance, India can become Self-reliant in counter drone systems, which would be required by (& bought) Army, IAF, IN, NSG, other forces protecting VAs, VPs, VVIPs, VIP against drone and drone swarms attacks in the near future. Evolving nature of drone threat necessitates that we step up our R&D otherwise we could find ourselves in unfamiliar territory in actual combat with our northern adversary making rapid progress in drone and drone swarm technologies. Our start ups have demonstrate their ability to design and develop soft kill counter drone systems to counter the threat posed by rogue drones coming from Pakistan. However, they need greater funding and technical and policy support to develop more advanced high cost radars and hard kill counter drone systems, which can come from iDEX & Mehar Baba Competitions. ( I am carrying out further study on policy and technology challenges for developing counter drone systems & will share at appropriate time). The funding for iDEX needs to be enhanced to develop more complex & high value systems. I would like to highlight that in iDEX, defence, DRDO & DPSUs are users and can sponsor iDEX competition but they do not compete with private sector. Mehar Baba started by IAF is better competition as it provides equal opportunity to DRDO, DPSUs, private industry, academia and individual innovators to participate and prove themselves. In the first Mehar Baba Competition whose results were declared in Sep-Oct 2021 (Started on 08 Oct 2018 ) – it was the start ups who came up with niche technology and not DRDO, DPSUs or big private industry players (It was open to them). However, no decision on the commencement of second edition of Mehar Baba Competition has been taken so far. DRDO, ADA, HAL need to start work on further development and integration on indigenous counter drone systems on aircraft. If we do not launch our development program right now, we shall be buying them within four-five years. However, I have not found acknowledgement in this regard. The strengthening of iDEX and Mehar Baba Competition, participation of representatives of defence forces personnel in the design teams (as being done by most defence forces including by the AFRL, ONR of the USAF & USN) is essential to achieving self-reliance in counter drone systems and other defence technologies. warm regards Counter Drone Systems: An Opportunity for Self-Reliance
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India’s Jammu airbase was subjected to two explosions at 1.27 AM and 1.32 AM on June 27, 2021 that were caused b… |
Gp Capt (Dr.) R K Narang VM (Retd.)9911222003
by email: Sandeep Unnithan
Sat, 1 Jan 2022 at 9:25 am
Superb piece sir , as always. I believe unless you plan for this nothing will happen. Happy healthy 2022.
On Saturday, 1 January 2022, 02:25:12 pm GMT+5:30,
Re ur: “Chinese market access has to be restricted to the same level Indian exporters face in China, and the flow of Chinese automobiles, mobile telephony goods, and light manufactures ought to be shut down.”
Readily done by invoking the provisions of Article XXI of GATT, which the WTO DSP has already ruled — on arguments from Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. itself — no less — is a national, sovereign decision, not subject to appeal before the WTO/DSP.
Applies also to IPR protection under Section 157A of the Indian Patents Act (guess drafted by whom!) and its corresponding equivalent in our Semiconductor Masks Protection Act (guess both drafted by whom!).
Wishing Professor Karnad and fellow readers of the blog a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2022.
“Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, also said that trade ties between ASEAN economies and China are expected to grow closer, with China likely to import more agricultural products from ASEAN members while exporting more consumer goods.”
An excerpt from the following;
As I have stated in my various previous comments, none of the South East nations will ever confront China militarily.
China has tested the waters. They will persist in nibbling gradually at Indian territory.
Indian authorities will keep living in denial. Politicians and Army Generals will keep passing the buck to each other.
Sir, As a young engineer working in DDP, though I donot agree with all of your opinions (DDP/DPSUs still have the facilities/skills/QC on scale as of date), I could not agree more on the mindset inside DDP – archaic suffocating “characterised by sloth, sleaze, corruption, bad work ethos”. Many driven young engineers and scientists from IISc/IIT’s at DDP more than often are let down by total absence of any energetic GMs/Directors (who are busy settling their families abroad). They just kick the can down the road and await their GMship/Directorship to end.
On the EW side which you and CAS have mentioned umpteen times, our airborne/ground jammers designed and produced have been below par (glossed over by a single NETRA system) because everbody is out of sync. DARE (recently renamed CASDIC) has been pathetic in its jammer/SPJ programs which Israel is making a bounty out of, without giving any actual EW tech.
Sir, could the DRDO be service driven like the AFRL/NRL ?
Regards & Wishes for the NewYear
I’ve been reading up on India’s nuclear doctrine and various analysts views on what constitutes credible deterrence. Your views are classified as Maximilist as opposed to the minimal posture India has traditionally employed (though that has changed recently). However, in a Carnegie Endowment article from 2016 you were quoted to recommend 328 nuclear weapons, mostly megaton thermo nuclear. In your book you mention the figure of about 600. General Sundarji had recommended 150 by 2020, which roughly matches the current number, with potentially 200 by 2030. According to another article in the Washington Quarterly, India tested a 45 KT device, whose size can be increased up to 200Kt. But you say in your book that this test was defective and India’s TN capability is suspect. Question for you is with a CEP of 10m for the Agni 5, is a megaton weapon required or will 200 KT suffice? and would you say whether further tests are required for megaton capability or to validate the 200KT capability?
Additionally, on the conventional side, there was mention of creating a rocket force to neutralise China’s conventional advantage (General Rawat). With all the recent tests in surface to surface missiles (Pinaka, Pralay, Agni Prime) and other misses like Shaurya and Prahar, is India sending a message of its intent to build a conventional rocket force (to supplement Brahmos). Given the long lead times for local production changes, is this the fastest way to neutralise conventional Chinese superiority?
Of course then you have cyber warfare and EW, where India is also playing catch up.
In my first big book — ‘Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security’ I had argued for a strategic force of some 430+ nuclear weapons, including reserves, and recommended that this force strength at all times be elastic to keep pace with the actual Chinese arsenal correctly estimated (as subsequent Chinese N-buildup has shown) of in excess of 500 n-weapons.
The 1998 S-1 test of the 2-stage thermonuclear device was a “fizzle” and I gave evidence why this was so, which fact was later confirmed by the director, field testing, Pokhran. So, if the 45-52 KT weapon was a fizzle where does the confidence come from that trdt, that the scaled up 200-250 KT version will work?
The megaton-yield weapons able to devastate entire metro regions is what I have advocated for the last 24-odd years — from my days in the 1st NSAB, in fact. This is because of the psychological parity that would be achieved with respect to the Chinese 3MT standard warhead on the DF-3/4/5s. This strategic parity is essential because the reflex action of GOI in any crisis is to take fright. So, what will happen if the Chinese threaten thermonuclear W use, and India has only the proven 20 KT firecracker to respond with?
I tend to agree with your ‘maximalist’ approach. China, which competes with the US, has managed with less than 1/10th the US arsenal only because of the quality of their weapons – megaton bombs and true ICBMs/hypersonics. It also has a ‘minimum’ credible deterrence policy. So even though many analysts say that a 20KT bomb can cause unacceptable damage to major Chinese cities, it is likely that Indian leaders would capitulate if the Chinese threatened with megaton carnage.
I was also looking for cost figures – one source indicated that India spent about $5B in 2011 for its ~100 arsenal. So 400 should be less than $20B. Doable in maybe 7-10 years.
Regarding megaton testing, maybe India should conduct one after Covid recovery and invite the sanctions. India operates well only in ‘mission’ mode like you point out. It will force the use of indigenous weapons and get rid of the pressure from foreign lobbies to buy foreign arms. Who knows, maybe the Kaveri engine will suddenly start functioning! Moreover, the US wants a strong India to partner with to manage China. So even the sanctions regime could be a complicated issue.
It will also be an unmistakable signal that India is an emerging third pole apart from China and the US in the geopolitical landscape. Additionally, how many crises can the US handle concurrently – Russia, China, Iran plus India? France did it in 1995/6 and got away with it.
@Amit Wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous 2022.
I wish all the readers of this forum especially Mr Karnad a very happy and prosperous 2022.
Well this article by a prominent American China-expert actually suggests China is not looking for another empire unlike the West did centuries back.
I would love to know what are your thoughts on the same.
Interesting to read your points. I am a bit lost when you say “our airborne/ground jammers designed and produced have been below par” – is this a hardware issue relating to some bands, and if so, why it cannot be overcome? What about the Russian fighters-interceptors which are armed with excellent jamming systems – why does not DRDO or IAF go for those? Could you please elaborate on what you mean by “actual EW tech”? I guess EA (Electronic Attack) is meant as a part of jamming technology what you mean here. Thank you.
On July 1st, 2021, Xi screeched to the world that “… that the people of China will have their heads bashed bloody by the Great Wall of Steel forged by 1.4 billion people..”. Total lie. There are no 1.4 billion people in China. This is due to the one child only policy instituted in the most densely populated areas of China in 1979. The population of China has since shrunk and for China to have 1.4 billion people today it would have needed 1.6 billion or so in 1979. China’s population will continue to shrink and with it the title of the largest consumerist market in the world. This title will inevitably go to India which now has the largest population in the world with the potential of having the largest market. This is the CCP’s biggest fear and the reason the border issues will not be settled in the near future. It is the CCP’s crass way of crudely attempting to deter investors in India by ploughing do-nothing soldiers all along the border. This is the reason for long range bombers now stationed along the border.
@Gram Massla- I live in China and can tell you that the society here is very consumerist in nature. Chinese public like eating out, shopping and traveling as a result China is still fairly closed to the outside world since the advent of Corona outbreak.
Manufacturing companies are firmly established in China. A few that have relocated outside China have mainly done it because of cheap labor (compared to China) in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia.
Southeast region of Asia has strong business ties with China. Expecting the factories from China to move to India is akin to living in a fool’s paradise.
India neither has the infrastructure nor the systems in place to become the ‘factory of the world’. Majority of the Indian masses live on government doles of 2-4 kgs of free wheat/rice per month. Check the data for the number of BPL (below poverty line) people in India.
Demographic dividend without good education, healthcare and means of earning is not an asset but a huge liability.
Dr Karnad, one of Gramp’s best friends is an ex-BARC weapons’ designer(in his late 70s).He tells that A-5 can easily accommodate a 500kt FBF warhead,that coupled up with 10 m cep can still inflict unacceptable damage I.e smoke Beijing,Shanghai etc.Besides,India finally has petaflop range supercomputers to carry out proper computer simulations.When he spoke to guys who just recently retired,they told him that they are quite happy with the “megaton design”.Would like your comments on this.
Ayush@ — Any device, unless successfully tested in a warhead confguration, is NOT a weapon whatever the level of simulation techniques and computing capability available to the designers at any given time.
I forgot to mention that recently retired guys have hinted that they extracted valuable technical intel from N korea’s 2017 thermonuclear test.It seems they carried out a very detailed joint analysis with ISRO(isro very accurately determined the yield).They say that n korea made “massive proliferation blunders” following that test.On the basis of the shape and dimensions of the “peanut shaped” warhead,these guys made very accurate estimates regarding the amount of WG-pu,U235,lithium-6 deuteride used in the warhead.They,however,all agree that a test is absolutely necessary now more than ever before.We need to demonstrate our capability to eliminate any doubts in the minds of our enemy(China).My Gramps says that time is ticking on us.We have until October to act.After the 20the peoples congress,the possibility of a chinese strike will be very high.Please convey this message to your contacts(higher ups)!!
Even North korea has tested and proved its mettle in missile technology and continuing their tests inspite of sanctions and so many restrictions India has much more breathing space than countries like N.K its just that the political leadership does not have appetite to take even calculated risks which would give India time and breathing space to build its military capabilities.Indian state is unique in a kind it harasses its citizens with bureaucracy for even trivial things and plays the role of energy drainer for citizens but acts timidly in front of adversaries who it should stand up to.This feature really hurts and no one has been able to fix it.This wierd behaviour is rationalized as some kind of grand strategy by retired bureaucrats
The latest political news and analysis as in this link:
is stark at variance with your grave message in this column. To quote from it:
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government upped the boycott ante by banning more than 260 Chinese apps, including the popular TikTok, Shien and CamScanner. It’s now apparent to many those bans were more symbolic than substantive as broad trade surged.
That was seen in an earlier agreement signed between India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), to swap technical details of its satellite-based messaging service, with Chinese smartphone maker OPPO. The deal provoked a nationalistic backlash while raising questions of national security.”
What will be your somber assessment again, isn’t it that your analysis as in here is futile and falling on deaf ears of the blind political masters of India? Isn’t it time to condemn Narendra Modi and fire at him “Quo Vadis?” and rewrite the reality facing the Indian Nation in 2022?
@Ayush- “We have until October to act.After the 20the peoples congress,the possibility of a chinese strike will be very high.”
Do you really think Modi or BJP care about losing land to China?
Sankar once made an excellent observation wherein he said that the loss of territory in Ladakh doesn’t matter to BJP because northeast residents are called by racial slangs “Chinkis”. They are discriminated against across the whole of India.
The tourism potential of Northeast has been destroyed by useless acts like AFSPA, reserved area permits etc.
The Chinese intrusion happened in middle of 2020. Its 2022 now.
Indian political establishment as well as the army have accepted the revised status quo. They just keep on indulging in fake bravado rhetoric to fool the Indian public.
@Suresh, well said! The bureaucracy harasses, the police harasses and the judiciary is corrupt and inefficient. So no accountability apart from elections. A perfect raja-maharaja democracy.
@Suresh- “Indian state is unique in a kind it harasses its citizens with bureaucracy for even trivial things and plays the role of energy drainer for citizens but acts timidly in front of adversaries who it should stand up to.”
You have made a very good point. I will tell you why the Indian establishment acts timidly in front of adversaries.
The reason is that all officials in key positions (IAS, IFS etc..) are on the payrolls of foreign intelligence agencies. Till the breakup of USSR, KGB had them in its pocket and since then CIA has taken over.
Politicians cutting across party lines remain busy in lining up their pockets while in power and creating disruptions, when in opposition.