Bharat Karnad delivers the BG Deshmukh Lecture at the Asiatic Society, Mumbai, March 2, at 6PM — Do log in!

Apologies for this belated notice, but if any readers of this Blog are interested in the subject of geopolitics and India’s options, have the time, and care to listen in and, perhaps, even participate in the Q & A session that will follow, please do log in at the appointed time on the Zoom link below.

This is an invitation to my lecture to be delivered (virtually) under The 12th B.G. Deshmukh Billimoria Endowment Lecture (Online) of the Asiatic Society, Mumbai, on “India’s Geopolitics:  What should be done to strengthen it?” on Wednesday 2nd March 2022 at 6.00 p.m. on Zoom.  Mr. Shivshankar Menon, Visiting Professor Ashoka University and Former National Security Advisor & Foreign Secretary, will preside at this online lecture.  The Zoom link for the lecture is given below:

Join Zoom Meeting at:

    Meeting ID: 867 8268 4225            Passcode: 362322

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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22 Responses to Bharat Karnad delivers the BG Deshmukh Lecture at the Asiatic Society, Mumbai, March 2, at 6PM — Do log in!

  1. Amit says:

    Nice discussion earlier today. But one thing I cannot reconcile in your comments – on the one hand you say we should emulate China if we can’t beat it and negotiate hard for technology and economic advantages using our market size advantage, but on the other hand you make almost an emotional argument about not doing the same with the US to enhance Indian capabilities. This stance seems contradictory to me. I say we use realpolitik in our dealings with the US and use them to our advantage.

    • Amit@ — I did not refer anywhere to “negotiating” technological and economic advantages. I said emulate China in stealing if necessary, but reverse-engineering select foreign weapons systems to build up in-country design and technology development capabilities — something DRDO has not widely attempted and, in the instances where it tried doing so, has not fared too well. As to my skepticism of the US I mentioned, if you will recall, the 2012 Defence Trade & Technology Initiative that was supoosed to promote collaborative high-value projects, which has not taken off at all. Indeed, President Trump — supposedly Modi’s freind — stopped a joint project to design and produce a high-performance jet engine for combat aircraft. The fact is the US simply does not like to sell/transfer other than dated technologies. Where’s the contradiction?

      • Amit says:


        Yes, I don’t think India can ever emulate the Chinese in stealing technology. It’s just not in our DNA. but reverse engineering is happening. A lot of the EW capabilities the IAF has developed as well as flight control software is either reverse engineered or self developed for example. But maybe happening on a smaller scale and not with as much gusto than what the Chinese have attempted.

        Also, there is growing realisation in the US that without allies they cannot contain China. They realise that they have not done a good job of sharing tech with allies. For example the defence industrial agreement with France and Germany in 2017 has not led to any tech sharing or growing of the defence industrial base in those countries. But this year’s NDS proposes to change that. More ‘two way’ sharing is recommended. But the point is India is not unique is this aspect of ‘not getting latest tech’, and the US realises that it’s export control processes are a nightmare and is affecting their ability to partner with allies and partners.

        Thirdly, on the economic front, if India addresses its structural economic issues (like land, labor and infrastructure), and makes ‘making money’ easier, US capital will pour into India. They are suckers for making money and I think India should take advantage of it. India needs hi tech manufacturing. Companies like Intel, Cisco and Qualcomm already invest in Indian R&D design centers. By addressing structural issues, India can benefit tremendously from the US (as well as other hi tech nations like Taiwan, Japan, UK,Germany and France etc.) in basic hi-tech manufacturing which India does not have. Indian security strategy must make this effort to leverage western technology including the US. And having good ties with these countries is a good idea.

      • Amit@ — Agree entirely with the contents of the last para. Reverse-engineering should have been on a big scale from the beginning to turn it into a foundation for a burgeoning defence industry and to achieve the sort of critical mass the China has managed to now reach in technological innovation.

  2. vivek says:

    please share recording if possible..


    Dear Dr Karnad,

    Another wonderful presentation from your side regarding geopolitics in our region and what India can do given our circumstances. Pepe Escobar recently has written about how Russia is thinking about disregarding American patent rules.

    Here is an excerpt from his writing here :

    “Arguably, the lethal weapon in Russia’s arsenal of responses has been identified by the head of the Center for Economic Research of the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements (IGSO), Vasily Koltashov: the key is to confiscate technology – as in Russia ceasing to recognize US rights to patents.”

    I would love to know your analytical views on this aspect of Russian counter action against the Western sanctions.

  4. Debanjan Banerjee says:

    @Amit I believe Modi did play both Putin and Biden when it came to the UN general assembly vote. Let’s see it. 1. India abstained. 2. 3 of India’s satelite states in the south Asian region, i. e. Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives voted against Russia. 3. In this way, Modi offered something tangible to both Biden and Putin ie abstaining to Putin and 3 votes of her vassals to Biden. 4. Putin got saved by Mr Xi only when Xi made Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to abstain from voting. So in the end, Modi gave the message to Putin but in a very subtle way by making his 3 regional vassals vote against him while he personally. This is exactly what Krishna did in the kurukhetea war. What do you think about my analysis?

  5. Amit says:


    I’ve been watching some Atlantic Council analysis on economic sanctions on Russia. They are unprecedented and a ‘nuclear’ non military response to Russian military action. I was boggled by the numbers – Russian stock market is down 98% in two weeks, Russian ruble is in free fall and is expected to drop more than 50% in value, out of the $620B in foreign currency assets, $350-$400B is frozen, $100B is in gold which is highly Illiquid, and there is talk of secondary sanctions on China if China tries to help Russia out financially. 14% of global wheat exports are from Ukraine which have completely stopped, China is the biggest importer of corn from Ukraine which is stopped completely. Russian wheat and oil/gas exports are currently not sanctioned but these are potential further sanctions. The current sanctions already are expected to reduce EU GDP growth by up to 1% and possibly more, Middle East wheat supply shortages could lead to public unrest and inflation is expected to rise globally.

    On the other hand, US military strategists are prepared to fund an 8-10 year proxy war to handle Russian military aggression. They think Putin has blundered big time and are going for regime change in Russia.

    Clearly Russia is in a corner and we don’t know what kind of response we will see from Russia to this economic warfare. Even some US economists are wondering if the sanctions have gone too far. No one knows what the real impact could be on the ground to the world.

    But one thing is clear – for India it won’t be just military impacts. There will be huge economic impacts. The West + Japan + Korea + Australia + Singapore have unleashed unprecedented economic sanctions which will hurt everybody globally. India CANNOT be a mute spectator in all this. There are huge implications for India, but all I’m seeing from India is feeble political statements of neutrality.

    What would you make of all this? I mean secondary sanctions of China seem reckless. Even Russian sanctions could generate very negative responses from Russia. There are some dissenting voices in the US, but the majority is totally fine with this. And how should India respond to all this? This is unprecedented!

    • Remain “neutral” Europe’s security is Europe’s business and, because it wants it that way, America’s. It should be no concern of India and other Asian countries/

      • Amit says:

        Professor, totally understand the neutrality. But US strategists are going bat crazy about sanctioning Russia and anyone who might support them. This is reckless I think. Shouldn’t India play a role in cooling the US a little? They are trying to make a regional issue a global one.

  6. Arvind says:

    Mr Karnad ,
    1 . Don’t you think India must act like a responsible democracy and at least condemn unprovoked invasion by Russia .Should we abandon morality completely here ?

    2. India aspires to be a UNSC permanent member . We will definitely not be one by running away from taking tough decisions when necesarry .

    3. With a sanctioned Moscow , strengthened Beijing , and distracted Washington , India stands to be a loser here . What are India’s options now ?

    4. India has many hard problems to solve to improve its economy . It will take great political will and leadership to solve these issues . I think India reforms only when faced with crisis scenarios .


    The following article published in the by the analyst Chen Feng , clearly underlines how the Chinese are looking at the current situation. Here are what I consider the most important points :

    1. Russia is deliberately limiting the attacks into the Eastern side of Dniper river basin but more interestingly the Ukrainian military is not actually making a quick move back from its current encircled positions in the Donbass region back to the places like Kiev even though they have had ample time to do so. It seems that the Ukrainian military is quite happy to sit back and allow the Russian military to overlap themselves from both sides. Does it mean that the Ukrainian military is not ready to listen to their president or they are not very effective when it comes to fighting.

    2. Curiosuly, Mr Putin has more than one occassion, asked the Ukrainian military to refuse to serve what he considers a drug addicted and illegitimate leadership and cooperate with him for what he calls the “denazification” and “demilitarization” of the Ukraine. Could it be that the Ukrainian generals therefore are no longer willing to fight and die for Zelensky ?

    3. Interestingly, the Chinese analyst believes that with the SWIFT option increasingly closed for Russia whose imports from China were approximately around 19 percent of its total imports (compared to Russian imports from Germany are around 13 percent of its total imports) , the Chinese expect the Russians to increasingly trade with them using RMB and intriguingly even expects Russia to conduct her trade with countries like Vietnam and even India using RMB.

    4. The Chinese expect that the US and India led QUAD push to confront China will get a big hit once the US attention towards Russia is permanently fixated. The Chinese believe that the US is just hard-wired in her DNA to be confrontational towards Russia i.e. another fellow Western power compared to say a China , an Asian power.

    5. Ukraine without Donbass will be a failed state as most of Ukraines industries reside inside the Donbass. Moreover most of the Ukrainians who have fled the conflict areas so far into the Western countries such as Poland and Romania

    I would love to view the feedback of the readers on this one. The original article is here :


    Just to conclude my 5-th point from my above post.

    5. Ukraine without Donbass will be a failed state as most of Ukraine’s industries reside inside the Donbass. Moreover most of the Ukrainians who have fled the conflict areas so far into the Western countries such as Poland and Romania belong to Western Ukrainian areas where the Russian-speaking populations are not that much. Interestingly these are the areas which so far have largely been avoided by the Russian army for targetting.

    6. The refugee crisis which may come sooner or later will be tremendously hard on the neighboring European countries such as Poland and Romania who have lesser number of populations compared to Ukraine but do have much much higher per capita income. To put into perspective, Syria with a population less than half of Ukraine really devastated the Europeans with refugees. Moreover Ukrainian refugees have tended to face tremendous amounts of hardships and racism in places like Romania , Poland and Germany in the recent past and these countries never look forward to host Ukrainian refugees. China expects European states quickly being fed up of these amounts of refugees with this potentially enormous economic burden.

    7. With European states being forced by the US to cut themselves off from relatively cheap and plentiful Russian oil, China expects these countries’ and Germany most particularly to have greater input production costs which will risk their export potential in the longer turn. China is happy to receive this plentiful, cheap Russian oil and gas and replace Europe. At the same time , China hopes to undercut the export competitiveness of the European countries and Germany in particular when it comes to the developing markets such as those in Asia , the Americas and Africa.

  9. Debanjan Banerjee says:

    Today’s biggest news is that UAE has been put under FATF grey list. This is strange considering that UAE has become the third major Muslim country after Pakistan and Turkey to become part of this list. I wonder why did India not help out UAE even though we just signed a free trade agreement with them last week.

  10. Debanjan Banerjee says:

    One thing I would love to know from those of the readers who have visited / currently inside China/Russia. How do these countries view RSS/Hindutva/Akhand Bharat ? I recall that just before his recent unprecedented Russia visit, PM Imran sat down with RT and there he repeatedly described RSS/BJP as indian version of Nazis. This is what I thought a very clever ploy considering the Russians really love to hate Hitler and Nazis because of obvious historical reasons. That is why I am curious how the average Russians/Chinese look at the RSS/BJP ?

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Debanjan- Average Chinese doesn’t give a damn about RSS/BJP.

      People here who have interest in Indian politics consider RSS/BJP as a bunch of buffoons.

      • Debanjan Banerjee says:

        @Gaurav Tyagi thank you sir for your prompt reply. However considering BJP/RSS the largest party in the world, why has it got that type of poor reputation in China?

  11. Amit says:


    Here is a transcription of a discussion by Tucker Carlson denouncing the ‘moral’ outrage in the US about this war in Ukraine. Tucker is sometimes hard to digest, but he has been bang on right about this war! I just hope more people in the US Congress and the administration listen to him.

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