Ek dhakka aur do – topple the NPT regime, skewer China!

[The Chinese delegation at the 2022 NPT RevCon]

It was only appropriate that Russia, the country that proved just how foolish and ridiculously naive Ukraine was to trust the trio of the United States, Russia, and Britain and surrender its share of the erstwhile Soviet Union’s thermonuclear arsenal, courtesy the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, prevented a consensus “final document” from emerging at the 10th edition of the five-yearly UN Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon).

This conference periodically to assert the primacy of the NPT regime, delayed for a couple of years by the COVID pandemic, began in New York August 1 and concluded August 26. Considering how relations between Russia and the US are heading south, the Russian action, in effect, kicked the RevCon into life support, bringing the future of the NPT itself into question. Russia did so to protest the reference in the draft paper to the alleged Russian attacks on or near the Zaphorizhzhya nuclear power station. Many European states felt that even an accidental strike could create a Chernobyl-like nuclear catastrophe. In other words, Moscow used an issue unconnected with nonproliferation to damage the NPT regime. And, a damned good thing to happen from India’s strategic point of view!

As observers at these RevCons, Indian diplomats dish out the usual disarmament pablum produced by the DISA (Disarmament and International Security) Division in MEA. Just as well that nothing, if anything, of note was said by them because otherwise it’d have been reported at least in the Indian Press (even if no other media takes notice). The correct thing for Delhi to have done from the time of the first RevCon in May 1975 was to give it a miss. And it should have been followd up by boycotting the subsequent RevCons to signal India’s unhappiness with the global nuclear order lorded over by the five “NPT recognized” weapons states — the US, Russia, UK, France and China. Instead, while not being a signatory to the NPT and therefore not bound by its rules, India has acted all along as if it is a bonafide member of this treaty that was, incidentally, originally designed by Washington in the Sixties to keep India from crossing the nuclear weapons threshold!

Delhi is in the forefront of the worldwide nonproliferation effort just so it is in America’s good books, eager to burnish its image as, what else, a “responsible” state. To be perceived as such has required grave compromises to be made by various Indian governments. Such as refraining from selling and exporting entirely indigenously developed technologies related to the Bomb and to 220MW heavy water-moderated light water reactor-based power plants. China should long ago have been paid back in kind for its policy of nuclear missile arming Pakistan in the early 1980s by transferring nuclear-warheaded Prithvi and later Agni ballistic missiles and Brahmos cruise missiles to countries on China’s periphery. It is an option I have been advocating from 1998 and my time in the (First) National Security Advisory Board, but which is now getting shut down because the Indian government seems intent on shackling itself to the do’s and don’ts of the Nuclear Suppliers Group — an offshoot of the NPT, and entry into which group, ironically, is subject to a Chinese veto!

The 2008 civilian nuclear cooperation deal with the US — negotiated as I keep reminding everyone, by the then Joint Secretary (Americas) in MEA and now foreign minister, S Jaishankar, furthers Washington’s twin nonproliferation goals of ensuring that India sticks by the “voluntary moratorium” on nuclear testing announced by Atal Bihari vajpayee in May 1998, which capped the Indian N-weapons tech at the simple fission 10-20 kiloton level. Except, without new and open-ended nuclear tests, the Indian strategic deterrent will be minus proven thermonuclear weapons (because the fusion device tested in the 1998 tests was a dud). This deal was supposed to enable India access to US N-tech. Except, India never really needed US civilian nuclear technology in the first place what with Trombay having mastered all three fuel cycles (uranium, plutonium and thorium). But this rationale provided the Manmohan Singh government with political cover for signing the deal which actually is a strategic liability. Especially so, considering Manmohan Singh’s promise of “20,000 MW by 2020” was predicated on India buying multi-billion dollar Westinghouse AP 1000 reactors that the US Atomic Energy Commission refused to certify as safe! None of this matters now, because the aim of successive governments Narasimha Rao’s onwards was less to buy anything from the US than to pacify Washington by deliberately keeping India a sub-par nuclear weapons state.

A government that means to push India into global reckoning as a country that will get to the top by any and all means, and only abide by treaties and conventions it negotiates has, to-date, not emerged. Instead of putting the fear of God into the P-5 and the big power NPT managers that either India gets what it wants or it will strive to bring down the whole UN caboodle, and particularly the unfair and inequitable NPT-based international nuclear order, like the barrage of explosive charges (in a 9-second TV spectacle last Sunday) did the illegal 30-storey structure in Noida, India talks big, acts small and helps the US and the West perpetuate the status quo.

If Modi wants to change things, do right by India, and pitchfork the country into the ranks of meaningful powers — if only as a spoiler on the world scene, he can and should break out of the system of self-restraint and, firstly, resume nuclear testing; secondly, waste no time in ignoring the NPT-NSG restrictions and onpassing nuclear weapons technology and N-power reactors — perhaps as a package! — to Vietnam, Indonesia, and Philippines and whoever else wants it, and is willing to pay for it. These two actions will instantly destroy the NPT order, and begin seriously to unravel the UN. North Korea with its regular nuclear and missile tests has long offered provocations, as do the nuclear buildup plans of the P-5 with the US, Russia and China in the lead. This development, by the way, directly contravenes Article VI of the NPT mandating nuclear weapons stockpile reductions by the Five NPT-acknowledged powers in return for the rest of the 191 members of this treaty regime foreswearing the Bomb.This is a very good reason to torpedo the NPT.

The plea here then is for India to be disruptive like China is. Ambassador Fu Cong at the RevCon, extolled the virtues of “self-defence” while Chinese strategic forces are on an overdrive to achieve the 2,500 thermonuclear weapons/warheads strength by 2030 — a deterrent size and timeline laid down by President Xi Jinping. In other words, China, unlike a discombobulated India that takes its nonproliferation pledges seriously, is determined to be the equal of the US and Russia in this and every other respect. Meantime, Modi’s India appears content to be bested by Pakistan, its 150 nuclear warheads/weapons beaten by 160 Bombs in the latter’s employ.

Thirdly, India should needle China all it can and on every issue that riles Chinese sensibilities. Thus, India should be in the forefront of publicizing the UN report accusing China of gross human rights, genocidal, abuses of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang using tactics honed by the PLA in Chinese-occupied Tibet, and repeatedly urge Beijing to respect the nationalist urges of the Uyghurs seeking an independent East Turkestan, and get under the Chinese skin that way. Simultaneously, Delhi should with much fanfare and public hoo-ha celebrate Taiwan and support international efforts to solidify that country militarily and symbolically even offer Taipei “strategic weapons technology”– not that Taiwan needs any help in crafting nuclear weapons of its own . Taiwan’s own N-weapons programme was compelled by the US into a state of dormancy, but if activated can produce a weapon inside of 3-6 months. In the interim, India can offer Taipei some 2 dozen warheads as deterrent for fitting into the nosecone geometries of Taiwanese mssiles. This measure combined with Delhi’s publicly disavowing the “one China” paradigm on the basis of China not respecting the “One India” concept encompassing all of Jammu & Kashmir, including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Baltistan, and the principalities of Hunza, Gilgit, Chitral et al in the “Northern Areas”, will put the fat on fire.

And, finally, what will it take for Prime Minister Modi to shut down Chinese access to the Indian consumer market where Chinese companies continue to make a killing? And why does his government continue to ease the rules for Chinese firms? Like the exemptions the Finance Ministry announced for Chinese companies yesterday exporting green energy tech and components to India? Would it take another round of military clashes in Ladakh or in Arunachal? Why are Jaishankar and his MEA promoting the idea of Modi’s meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit to be held mid-September? Is Modi really all that much of an innocent, and has no clue about what’s what with Xi and China? And that the PM’s interest in somehow restoring a pre-Galwan clash-like normalcy to his personal relations with the Chinese supremo and to bilateral relations, cannot be realized without hurting India?

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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41 Responses to Ek dhakka aur do – topple the NPT regime, skewer China!

  1. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    China is Indonesia’s biggest trade partner and a major source of foreign investment, while China relies on Southeast Asia’s largest economy for mineral resources and sees it as a key partner in the Belt and Road Initiative, its globe-spanning trade and infrastructure project.

    In 2021, bilateral trade grew by 58.6 per cent from the previous year to US$124.4 billion.



    China has become the Philippines’ largest trading partner, the country’s second-largest source of foreign investment, the largest export market, and the largest source of imports for the Philippines by the day. 

    An excerpt from the following link;


    Bilateral trade between Vietnam and China still recorded strong growth in 2021, despite the negative impacts of COVID-19 on global trade, according to Vietnamese commercial counsellor in China Nong Duc Lai.

    According to China’s customs bilateral trade exceeded the 200 billion USD mark for the first time, reaching 230.2 billion USD, up 19.7% from 2020.

    China continues to be Vietnam’s largest trading partner and second largest export market, while Vietnam was China’s largest trading partner in ASEAN and its sixth largest trading partner in the world.



    Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam will never get into any military conflict with China.

    None of the aforementioned will show interest in Indian offer (if any) of getting nuclear armed by India.

  2. Amit says:


    Agree with you on breaking the NPT. I guess it will depend on how Mr. Modi handles the politics of it. But arming Vietnam, Indonesia and Philipines is a whole another story. I think they haven’t made up their minds yet on whether to balance or bandwagon with China.

    Phillipines with the Brahmos sale is moving towards balancing, but I’m still not sure of Vietnam and Indonesia. That makes it harder to nuclear arm them (when they are hesitant of even conventional missiles!). I think it’s easier for India to break the moratorium on nuclear testing than arming other nations. Though Taiwan could be easier – however, backlash from the US is something they too fear. Taiwan would be nuclear armed by now if the US really wanted it.

    As for the MEA arranging all these meetings with China, if I believe your earlier article about foreign policy being driven by Mr. Modi, it is he who is driving all this. But I wouldn’t mind a meeting with Xi and doing a thermo nuclear test the next day. Nothing like that to send a good message!

    Also agree with all the pin pricks to keep China on its toes.

  3. Trig says:

    China contained the insurgency in Xinjiang. India has faced an insurgency for over 30 years in Kashmir. However in Kashmir the Pandits were ethnically cleansed and the insurgency appears to be a forever conflict. Chinese strategy and technology in Xinjiang should be a model for India.

  4. Ayush says:

    Dr karnad,
    I am pretty sure that you have participated in war games with the top brass of this nation. I am sure that you are well aware of the fact that 300-400 MIRVed warheads are enough to annihilate any nation many times over.What’s more is that given the explosive technological growth in the field of conventional arms, its an inescapable fact that massive investment in conventional arms is necessary to maintain survivability of nuclear deterrent.In my opinion, 300-400 warheads mated on Soon to be tested K5 SLBM, Agni-V “mark II” is enough.As far as the warheads are concerned, i as a computer science student in a premier institute can assure what wonders proper modeling on modern supercomputers can perform.We can achieve the this threshold nuke count in a few years given the fact once the PFBR starts operations.And as side note , it is said to commissioned as early as next month.

    • May be. But India’s manifest thermonuclear disparity with China can, in a crisis, have a deadly psychological effect on the Indian ladership as I have argued in my books. And aren’t we getting way ahead of ourselves considering the MIRV tech developed by ASL has been on the shelf for the last 20 years and GOI has yet to approve even prototype testing?

  5. Kunal Singh says:

    Gist of your article is : India has to go by” Bahot hua samman, tumhari aisi tasi. “

  6. Ayush says:

    Let us be brutally honest.I know you as much as my veteran family members want to see this nation rise as a great power within your lifetime.That isn’t happening when our FM “crawls” in the UN forum by saying things like “Very soon we will be the populous nation in the world and we still don’t have a (so called) UNSC seat”.Get a modern military crush you immediate enemies on the battlefield that’s the only way you get respect in this world.India will NEVER EVER become a great power until we carry out an Op Iraqi freedom style “shock and awe” assault on pakistan.The unfinished dismantlement of Pak has to be completed within modi’s lifetime.It’s absolutely certain that the CCP regime will play the same dirty game or even worse which the US is doing without consequences in Ukraine.Unlike Putin, we don’t have a Trump type implant in the china.We will have to be prepared to shoot down dozens of Chinese spy satellites or even arms convoys in the G219 highway.Our nuke deterrent’s purpose should be to deter any thought of a first use from Pak and to deter a Chinese response.

    • You’ll only emphasize your limitations by “crushing” Pakistan. China! China! — take it on.

      • Amit says:


        While the Indian focus on China is appropriate, India should not appease Pakistan like you propose. In fact, India should employ tactics of koota yudha like you mentioned in one of your videos to bleed Pakistan and let it fail in its own. The Pakistani military has no love lost for India and they should be punished albeit without an open war.

        War is not a good option either with Pakistan or China. India should build capabilities to defend its strategic interests from the West Indian ocean to the Malabar straits and possibly South China sea as its economy grows. This will automatically deter Pakistan and China and could potentially even further bankrupt Pakistan as they try to match India militarily, which is a foolish thing to do. But if the Panjus across the border want to behave like lallus, let them!

      • Sure, use kuttauddha against Pakistan, which should be sufficient. But why not then shift bulk military resources from the west to the China front as I have been arguing?

  7. Ayush says:

    Our conventional military’s purpose is to quickly defeat any Chinese offensive at LAC and to crush Pak at minimal to no cost.For this purpose, we need A LOT of long range missiles(thousands) , a network of dozens of recon satellites and 5th generation aircraft, dozens of ASAT weapons and ASBMs.Most of this should be in place by 2030 or so.

    Dr Karnad, I am reading about the massive protests in the Czech Republic with a broad smile—its begun and Its not even winter yet.Putin’s iron grip over the political powerful western Right/far right parties is simply mind blowing.His most invaluable implant is inarguably Trump.The efficiency of the Russian disinformation campaign/ troll factories on social media is truly awe inspiring.The Russian military for its part is clearly bleeding itself to death in Ukraine.This is in large part due to putin’s reluctance to destroy US spy satellites,strategic bridges across the wide dnipro river,dams,munition depots in poland,Central C2 nodes in Kyiv.However,he apparently might not need to do any of the above.Europe will quite literally “freeze” or “burn” in inflation during winter.These damned Europeans seriously thought that they could “reduce rouble to rubble” in a few weeks and there would be no retaliation/blowback from Russia’s side?That’s unbelievably naive from their part.They don’t know how the world works.Showcases their typical neocolonial mindset.Russia is no “Saddam’s Iraq” to say the least.The sanctions have more than just backfired.Putin for his part has shown just how pathetically weak these so called “western democracies” are.Their internal structures and even industrial bases are not built for fighting wars against a serious enemy—not anymore.They resemble more like the proverbial house of cards.These “mighty world leaders” have shivers down their spine whenever the talk of “nuclear escalation” is brought out.

    The bright side for India is that,Putin has a made mockery out of the UN and the so called “rules based world order” and got away with it.The absolute ineffectiveness of western sanctions is a godsent boon for India.If this supposed tidal of sanctions failed to barely scratch an economy the size of Russia, then what can they possibly do to India? whose economy is more than twice the size of the former.

    To say it bluntly, we can carry out atmospheric Megaton TN tests and these western “world powers” aren’t going to lift a finger.They already have swallowed far more than what they can chew.Modi&Co must call their bluff NOW!!!

  8. By email, from Air Marshal Harish Masand (Retd)

    Sun, 4 Sept at 12:32 pm

    Well said, Bharat. I totally agree with you but are they hearing what you say?

    Warm regards,


    • Amit says:

      Professor, I don’t have technical knowledge of weapon systems and force requirements, but if your assessment indicates so, then we should re-focus Pakistan facing resources towards China (some of which is happening now). Also some of your other suggestions like the light tanks. Frankly, even the refocus on China started after Doklam.

  9. Amit says:


    I think that unless India has a grand strategy that views itself as a future great power and its role in balancing China and the US, such sub optimal decisions will be routine.

    Currently India is largely behaving according to what realists would approve. But I hope India realizes that even if China were to resolve border issues with India, it’s attitude with India won’t change. China will remain a threat or a competitor as its value systems are very different. India should never make the mistake the US made that China will change its political system or historical values.

    So I hope MEA statements of no normal relations until border issues are resolved remain more of a political facade than actual policy even if border issues are resolved. India and China will always need to balance each other (unless India gives up and bandwagons with China).

    And while Indian and US value systems match largely, India will have to balance both China and the US in the long term (maybe 25-30 years assuming India continues to grow economically).

  10. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Indian establishment irrespective of the Prime Minister (Congress/BJP) has never been able to handle China effectively.

    Dalai Lama in spite of being given political asylum in India was and continue to be treated like a pariah.

    Taiwan offers an excellent leverage against China. Just give diplomatic recognition to Taiwan and watch the fun. Chinese establishment will continue ranting regularly without doing anything substantive.

    Connect the dots. Check out how many times Modi visited China as the CM of Gujarat, when US denied him visa due to Gujarat 2002 riots.

    What activities did he indulge in during all his trips to China? I can mention them here but then you will not publish my comment.

    This is the reason why the self proclaimed ‘Vishvguru’ is too scared to even mention China by name.

    Expecting Modi to act tough on China is akin to waging a bet on Bangladesh winning the forthcoming T-20 cricket World Cup to be held during October-November 2022 in Australia.

  11. Pravin Kumar says:

    You are right. India should start routine testing of big and small nuclear weapons without making any major announcement. Just to gauge the accuracy of measuring tools used during nuclear blasts.

  12. Sankar says:

    I have a grave skeptism about India’s capability of undertaking a thermonuclear ignition with the present state of Indian expertise on nuclear technology. Stated in other way, irrespective of NPT or other existing international constraints, India lacks the scientific-technological knwowledge base to experiment with fusion devices and therefore has decided to close her door in that direction.

    My understanding is the very basic physics – fusion is triggered by achieving very high density of matter ,i.e. the fuel, where neighbouring nuclei overshoots their electric repulsion or breaks through the Coulomb barrier in physics terminology, resulting in very close proximity which brings the nuclear forces into play. It is attained by extreme temperature giving rise to extreme thermodynamic pressure inside the matter reulting in its compression.

    Thus for weapons applications, an atomic bomb is first ignited which is a fission process induced by neutrons that leads to the extreme temperature in the immediate environment. And the resulting pressure is exploited to trigger the fusion reaction.

    In other words, one must first achieve perfection in experiments with fission ‘bombs’. I doubt whether India has reached that mature goal since one needs many many experiments with fission processes. All the western powers have gone through that learning process in the long past (1950s). China has undertaken it in 1960-70 (Lop Nor) with doing many trials. And what about India – only a handful of experiments?

    So it is a long way to go for India in mastering a fusion bomb technology. True NPT is a hindrance for fission experiments, but a few violating NPT cannot lead to success – one needs many more.
    On an aside, it needs to be pointed out that fusion process takes place in stars (our Sun) without the intermidiate stage of fission as often iluustrated in newspapers and magazines of astrophysics. There the enormous pressure is due to the gravitational pull of the huge matter present.

  13. Sankar says:

    @Professor Karnad:

    Could you please give us your present assessment on the Ukraine war. Is that turning up as a joke? How will that fiasco end up impacting India’a strategic inyerests?

    A detailed journalistic report is here:

    “Ukraine can still count at least on American support. But this is threatening to become an American war, at least an American-financed one. Does Ukraine want to bet that that continues? That’s the main risk of a slow grind strategy.”

    • The situation simply is this: Ukraine cannot win, whatever the extent of help and assistance from the US and NATO. Russia can win but it will require scaling up of warfighting Moscow is unwilling to commit to.

  14. Deepak says:

    India has right to own/test nuclear weapons,ICBM and any other weapons as long as any other country in the planet has similar weapons.All unequal treaties which only favors west deserves to be trashed to dustbin.

    • whatsinitanyway says:

      Sovereigns by definition are supreme … there is no over arching judicial framework which can give rights or punishment to sovereign nations. Thats why states should do what they can to further its interest without considering morality. International relations follow jungle law … it seems. There are no rights…. its the choice and the risk appetite, the state is willing to take that matters while taking any decision.

  15. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    Professor Karnad, what’s your take on this;


    Is the big brother seeking you 🧐

  16. Ayush says:

    @ Sankar/Bharat
    Testing a TN is no “big deal” as even a country like North-korea has succeeded in it.USSR and US did it in the early 50s when the best computers were weaker than today’s IPhones!Tells you a lot why they are still superpowers.You are absolutely right in the fact that TN weapons require a “boosted fission primary”.The first stage of the Pokharan-II TN “device” was a fusion boosted fission primary which worked satisfactorily as confirmed publicly by both Dr karnad and late K santhaman.The rule is that if you get “Fusion boosted fission” weapons right, you will certainly get the “staged” TN right as well down the line.That’s how N Korea did it.All we have to do is to test the bomb designed using powerful computer simulation(trillions of times more powerful than those used to make the first bombs)and “demonstrate” our TN prowess to China and rest of the world.

    Regarding Ukraine, I would have agreed with Dr karnad’s analysis that UKR can’t win regardless of whatever support they get—though this was true a few months ago.The Russians are clearly running out of their priceless PGMs Kalibr/Iskander.Without these two missiles they are basically a Soviet force from the 1960-70s.For instance, we have many times the T-90s they do!The Russian war doctrine that of active defense was designed to defeat an all out US/NATO conventional assault.It relied very heavily upon the 1500km Kalibr and 500 km iskander along with EW.These missiles would have carried out massive “deep strikes” at the theatre-operational level and disoriented the enemy(US).Now most of those missiles are gone(forever).You need high grade electronics to make these missiles which the Americans are ruthlessly denying.Semiconductor controls is the only part of the sanctions that has worked—at least for now.Russia could have used these missiles to destroy Ukrainian C2 nodes,Strategic bridges across dnieper,NATO munitions depot across the polish border,American satellites etc.However,doing any of the above will likely result in an American response and a heavily depleted Russian military is no shape of dealing with a massive shock and awe American assault.

    • It is not the capacity, but the political will to test, which’s at issue where India’s concerned.

      • Ayush says:

        Dr karnad, as far as I am ware the Agni-V has a 1Mt warhead weighing around 1500 kg.A simple test firing of the missile into the Indian Ocean with a live,armed serial production warhead will shock and awe the rest of the world especially china into respecting us and signing of the border dispute once it for all.Why? One may ask.The answer is simple.A single A-5 (or new Agni-prime) detonated over central china at an altitude of 300km can create an intense EMP pulse which will fry the electronics of all of china’s fancy new toys.I do not understand when will our spineless,brainless policy makers see the light.We have been bullied/invaded by foreign enemies from all sides since the last nine centuries.We have the ultimate weapon to end this cycle but nobody has the guts to do so.Moreover, such a test will buy us the time we need to modernize our archaic Conventional military.

      • I’d be hugely surprised if there’s an Agni-5 1 MT warhead. How to scale up from a boosted yeild of 52KT to 1 MT w/o a series of new and open-ended tests, is beyond me. Then again, you can mount a dummy 1 MT warhead as a test for weight factoring.

      • Ayush says:

        From a nuclear weapons designers perspective, making a small TN(miniaturized) one is much tougher than a “city buster”(Megaton).If you get just one teller-Ulam design right you can scale it up to any size you want.For instance, the tsar Bombay’s first two stages were of a standard issue 1.2Mt warhead (it was a three staged bomb).Also US ivy mike and all other first TN tests of major powers were in the multi megaton range.China’s 1967 test had a yield of 3.3Mt .France’s 1968 test had a yield of 2.8Mt.As I have said in the past these bombs were made with very crude and rudimentary computers.And the ones we use today are WAY WAY better.

  17. Amit says:


    Here is an interesting article on China by Cai Xia, an ex professor at the Central Party School in the CCP from 1998-2012. Those who have a subscription to Foreign Affairs can read it, but it provides a fascinating perspective on the politics within the CCP.

    Firstly, the CCP is run like a mafia organisation- the Don, Consiglieries (Standing Committee), underbosses, capos and so on. Secondly, there are factions and lineages. Lineages are loyal to a current or past leader. So you have the left, center and right (or liberal) factions and within each you have lineages. E.g., you have lineages corresponding to Mao and Xi in the left faction, Deng Xiaoping in the center etc. Thirdly, Xi Jingping has significant opposition from other lineages because of economic and COVID failures. However, he is still likely to win a third term and potentially a fourth. Fourthly, Xi Jingping is the least meritocratic leader in the last forty years and may go to war over Taiwan.

    There are other interesting insights, but worth a read…

  18. quickboy says:

    Well looks like you have a logic of the legendary “One Trick Pony”. I dont seriously see China as the biggest threat to India. We just need to be cautious and prepared anyway, That is all. The reality is India cannot become a developed country, if it continues it’s infatuation of some so-called genius who want to imitate Americans (and generally most genius and experts available here are more or less Western imports and feel WHITE-IS-RIGHT anyway. May get a few brownie points shouting against China (IN the current atmosphere, more so if one shouts against Russia too. A free foreign policy is to do what you want without fear of anyone. Your articles either shows fear of China or America or whoever else. Countries cannot exist for ever appeasing one side against other. They should take their own side first.

    • quickboy@ — The “One Trick Pony” is because that pony for the military and, to an extent, MEA, remains Pakistan! One can’t stress enough just how dearly such an idiotic threat orientation has cost India. “My pox on all sides”-skeptical view leading to an infinitely iterated conclusion that the Indian government needs to “take [India’s] side first” was I thought my hallmark thesis found in all my books and writings to-date! My peeve with the Modi regime, in fact, is that the “India First” policy concept, first articulated by me in 2001-2002 (!!) — see https://www.india-seminar.com/2002/519/519%20bharat%20karnad.htm, and borrowed by the 1st Modi election campaign in 2014, has been all but discarded.

    • Amit says:

      @quickboy, ‘I don’t seriously see China as the biggest threat’ – seriously?!

  19. Sankar says:

    @Professor Karnad:

    “The situation simply is this: Ukraine cannot win,…” –

    I do not not understand why the conclusion could not be that “the US” cannot win – Ukraine is just a proxy by all ccounts?

    A propos, about your “seminar” presentation, I am optimistic under Modi’s leadership, the Indian foreign policy and statecraft is undergoing a drastic reorientation for sometime now triggered by the Ukraine war. Here is some of the analysis in the context:

    and here:
    It is worth quoting in this context from the link to the AsiaTimes noted in my previous input
    “This is underlined by the broader strategic constellation. Russia is making big money on energy without even trying.”

    • Yea, sure, except it is not Americans doing the fighting. The analog here is the Soviet support to North Vietnam against the US in the Indo-China war.

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @Bharat Karnad- Indo-China? It should be Vietnam-US war?

      • The US War involved the brutal bombing of Cambodia and Laos (through which the Ho Chi Minh Trail passed).

      • Amit says:

        Yes, I read in Kissinger’s biography that some 400K people died in that bombing. But in his book ‘Leadership’ Kissinger doesn’t talk about the number of deaths, but the rationale for the bombing. To block the supply lines in order to force a ceasefire. I distinctly felt disgusted when I read the biography, and was not too surprised at the interpretation in ‘Leadership’. And he got the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts to stop the Vietnam war. Such is RealPolitik!

      • Sankar says:

        @Prefessor Karnad:

        Oh, I beg to differ from you here. “Americans” are doing the fighting in reality if one closely follows the war. Of course, in the western news media only bits and pieces are occassionally reported. In European news it has been brought to light a number of Nato military officers have been captured by the Russian forces in the Ukraine war. The European nations whose citizens these officers are have dismissed their involvemrnt as these people are retired from the Nato forces and thus they have no bearing to Nato – amazing, isn’t it. No one in his/her right senses can accept that excuse.

        As far as the direct involvement of the Americans is concerned, a number of them (as well as Britons) have been captured by the Russians. The US have tried to brush the news off by claiming that these Americans were humanitarian aid workers, or have gone to Ukraine on thir own conviction to fight for democracy and what not. In fact, the war prisoners captured by the Russians in Mariupol some weeks ago included, Britons, Americans, Swedes … as claimed by the Russians. Unfortunately, they all have perished by bombing on their location which Zelensky and his coterie claimed by the Russians. But the Russians have vehemently denied it and categorically stated that this bombing was undetaken by the Ukrainians using HIMARS lethal weaponry supplied by the US. Of course, this was carefully planned by the Ukarainians under instruction from above (?) so that no trace remains for external involvement in the war. Russians have claimed that the US military officers are directly operating HIMARS in Ukraine since no one in Nato or in Ukraine have the expertise in HIMARS, and it takes at least a years training to operate HIMARS in the war front, and hence the personnel fighting there are not Ukrainians or the NATO officers – they are from America.

        In any event, the Ukraine war cannot have any analogy with the Vietnam war or the Afghanistan war. The boundaries of Vietnam, or Afghaistan, did not change at the end of the wars there. In contrast, the state boundaries of Ukraine and Russia is going to change drastically at the end of the Ukraine war in the context when a negotiated settlement happens in the future. It is impossible for Ukraine to survive in the form it was in pre 2020. Ukraine, if it survives as an independent state in mututilated form, is going to loose at least 25% of its sovereign territory as it had in 2020.


    Dear Dr Karnad,

    US will throw Pakistan under the bus the moment the moment India offers some better weapons and energy deals like it has always done before. The US-PAK relationship has always been a transactional one and India knows it well. This is the reason that this time India is not too much bothered about the F-16 deals. I would love to know your views on this one.

  21. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @Sankar- Excellent assessment of Yankees and their NATO puppies fighting the war in Ukraine.

    However, ‘It is impossible for Ukraine to survive in the form it was in pre 2020’

    I think you mean Ukraine in the form before the commencement of hostilities on 24th February, 2022, right?

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