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Analysing India’s options to achieve ‘Chini Kam’

If the Wuhan virus is a watershed event in global geopolitics, the Galwan incident is a defining moment in Sino-Indian ties. In this environment, India should be prepared to handle China on its own.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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Ladakh

China, while seeking global hegemony, must support military expansionism and an aging population, with a contracting economy, in a deglobalising environment of falling exports, withering manufacturing, collapsing BRI and weak internal consumption. It portends an authoritarian China rapidly reverting to revisionism. Simultaneously, the Pakistan Army will continue to own a failed and bankrupt state whose existential identity of “Not Being India” constantly reinforces revisionism. A democratic India is destined to live with its revisionist neighbours in a friendless relationship. The India-Pakistan relationship is along known curves and slopes. However, a dramatic reappraisal is needed for the new Sino-Indian situation. With this in view a SWOT analysis of China was carried out in the first part of ‘Chini Kam’.

 If the Wuhan virus is a watershed in global geopolitics, the Galwan incident is a watershed in Sino-Indian ties. In this environment, India should be prepared to handle China on its own. It has the military capability in the Himalayas and IOR as well as comprehensive potential otherwise to hold its own. Simultaneously, India must not hesitate to form alliances/relationships with other nations to deal with China, which is grossly violating a rules-based world order after dropping its “Invisibility Cloak” of peace. India must put its interests first and do what is best for its people in all cases. There is a need to stop appeasing China and deal with it firmly in a calculated manner.

The Indian Air Force carrying out sorties in Leh on Friday. The air activity has gone up after the standoff with China on the Line of Actual Control. (ANI Photo)
An Indian Air Force helicopter is seen against the backdrop of mountains surrounding Leh on Sunday. (ANI Photo)

Contrary to cultivated myths, Chinese history indicates cycles of rise and decline over the past century and a half. An aging China has peaked. It is now set to decline, hastened by its own virus. Isolation followed by decline is inevitable in the coming decade. Historically, an isolated China has always been troublesome. The stigma of the Wuhan virus and the grouse of perceived denial of its rightful place will invigorate its trouble-making capability. While the current crisis is foremost in everyone’s view, it will not end soon. It is just a starting point of a long haul ahead with “gloves off”. India needs to plan for this tectonic shift. Very importantly, the loss of face for China is going to be proportional to the length of this confrontation. Options being suggested here are for the inevitable long term. However some immediate action and pushback must be taken to ward off the bull from the China shop. We must also not lose sight of the fact that giving a bloody nose and stalemating China is a victory for India. Gun for that. Anything more is a bonanza.

China has embarked on this misadventure with a relativity logic. China may have weakened, but others have weakened more. That logic is slowly unravelling. Two key shifts are taking place. As per Der Spiegel, “Beijing is ruthlessly expanding its power. But resistance is growing around the world — and Germany will soon play a key role.” As per South China Morning Post, “ASEAN leaders are wary of putting all their eggs in the Chinese basket.” This adds to the stances of the US, UK, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and India. The degree of isolation is increasing. Continued confrontation with India will only enhance it. Reappearance/persistence of the virus anywhere will reinforce it. The military is in a two-front situation. It is with this background that we must consider the options. However, we must never forget that China, despite everything, remains a formidable opponent.

Political Options

 Internal: India has already conveyed that it will not back down. This signal must be continually reinforced and demonstrated. Dealing with China requires internal political consensus and unity. So far it is superficial. Unless internal solidarity is achieved, a unitary China will undermine us politically. Exposing proximity to China/ CCP competitively by political parties is its harbinger. A singular message to all political parties is – decide who is the enemy. Each other or across the Himalayas? In this connection I think the ruling party has the onus to take everyone along. The media has a role to play to develop this harmony. As of now selfgoals are being presided over by a TRP-driven media. India is underutilising the proven nuisance value of the Indian Media. It can get under the skin of the Chinese amazingly fast. Weaponise this potential. It will do well to whittle down Chinese influence, deflate their hyped-up image, and build positive national sentiment through influence ops. The Virus is great firepower against the Chinese. We are softpedalling it. We also need to develop internal stability by controlling the virus to revive our economy. Somehow that seems to have gone off the boil.

Tibet, Xinjiang, Gilgit and Baltistan: If China can use Pakistan and Nepal as catspaws and develop a string of pearls, why can we not return the compliment? High time we did so. Historically, China exercised suzerainty over Tibet and not sovereignty. The Tibet buffer separated our civilisations. If China can claim Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet which never existed even in imagination till 2006 and lay claim on the entire Galwan Valley now, India can revive Tibet and East Turkistan. There are many ways of doing it. Develop the old silk route. Raise the Uighur factor. An outreach to Gilgit and Baltistan will target three birds with one stone. Religion worries China. All it needs is political clarity and will. Start small but start. Combine it with Hong Kong and Taiwan, the potential is nuclear.

 Civil Military Fusion: There is a dire necessity to develop civil military fusion. That is how the US developed into a superpower. That is what China is attempting to do. This needs political initiative. It is beyond the Indian military which cannot even procure weapons for itself. It must be an inter-ministerial thrust where the military is integrated with our space, nuclear and disruptive technology research, and development. As China relies more on 5G systems, we need to enhance our cyber capabilities as part of civil military fusion. The pity is that Indian talent is being exploited by the Western societies.

Soft Power: India has a huge reservoir of soft power — democracy, religion, culture, diversity, tourism et al. For unfathomable reasons we have underutilised it. The projection of Indian soft power has been ‘soft’. Often, we have used it against ourselves! It is time to deploy it in a planned and methodical manner.

Military Options

Tactical Options: The Indian Army should continue to be firm and show clear offensive intent in dealing with the Chinese. It has the option of executing a quid pro quo incursion at a time and place of its own choosing since China does not have any major defenses constructed along the LAC. The fight can also be taken into the Chinese rear. Their buildup of mechanized forces leaves their tail vulnerable in Aksai Chin especially with the onset of winter. A lot of infrastructure in depth is on permafrost. A simple temperature inversion will put spokes in wheels. Innovation is the name of the game. Use General Winter intelligently. Overall we should not put pressure on field commanders as to what to do. Let them do their tasks and they will deliver.

Influence and Media Ops: Influence ops and media need synergy. For example, Chinese soldiers are conscripts who join the Army for post-service prospects. They lack combat experience. Exploit it. Their mental state will be weak. After Galwan it will be worse. Nothing like old-fashioned propaganda operations. Target their political commissars. Target families of PLA and increase anxiety levels. Penetrate Weibo and WeChat through Taiwan and Hong Kong. We need to expand our thinking.

 CPEC: China has high stakes in the CPEC. I have always maintained that the CPEC is the third and weakest front of Pakistan. It can be targeted easily. It is two birds with one stone.

Capability Development: Infrastructure development must continue ceaselessly. In the Himalayas, the main fighting capability is Air Force, infantry, artillery, special forces and ISR with armour in a few areas. Focus on development of these capabilities to reach well into Tibet and be able to interdict the highways at a place of own choosing. A well-defined and publicised programme to dominate the IOR should be embarked upon. This includes regular exercises to be effective at choke points, enhancing capabilities on the A&N Islands, enhancing anti-submarine capabilities and so on. In the short term, pose a threat to China’s energy security and maritime trade unambiguously. There is angst that the Mountain Strike Corps raising has been stalled. However we have the capability to convert the existing strike corps into mountain capable reserves by a simple re-organisation of shedding the mechanised elements to pivot corps and equipping the balance with mountain capable artillery and infantry. It is internal and at no cost. Let us start thinking differently and not reinforce a costly planning failure.

Refocus on East Ladakh: In my opinion, India and the US should develop operational synergy wherein, India should focus on eastern Ladakh and the US should focus on western Pacific. A lot of lessons can be drawn from the present crisis for future implementation. A hammer and anvil approach will leave China at strategic X roads. If this idea is the core of the QUAD, then China is in real trouble. This strategy can be synergised today. It needs reciprocal visits by high-level military officials to PACOM and HQ CIDSS.

Diplomatic Options

 If we aim to be a global power, our diplomacy has a lot of work ahead. We need to redefine our narratives. ‘One China’ should remain a dream. Turfs to exploit are many — Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang. In addition, leverage G7 plus, QUAD, India-Australia, US, Vietnam, and Japan ties. Cash in on the wariness of ASEAN. Develop defence and cooperation ties with South Korea. Stir up GilgitBaltistan. Revamp ties with Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Enhance military diplomacy quotient with our immediate neighbours. Nepal needs special attention. Regain Africa where we have traditionally deep ties. Limit Chinese influence in the UN and WHO. Pakistan needs special focus as always. Diplomatically raise issues concerning CPEC and the new Diamer Bhasha Project. Our diplomats have done an excellent job without being “Wolf Warriors”. Expand the diplomatic corps.

Economic Options

Principle: If the Chinese economy shrinks by an X percent, its focus will remain internal. While it is difficult to predict that X, India can contribute to it individually or as part of a group.

 Leveraging Markets: India has the capability to leverage markets and weaponise trade. China is doing it blatantly with Australia. However it needs to be done sensibly. Some knee jerk reactions and public anger are good to convey a point. Such emotional responses have limits. Without viable alternatives, boycotting is only sloganeering. There are many aspects to leveraging trade. Imports from China must be reviewed holistically to reduce them with a layered approach on a need basis. For imports/ FMCG goods of other countries, local sourcing/ non-China sourcing can be made mandatory. In critical sectors like software apps and communications, Chinese goods must be excluded. All Chinese contracts can be reviewed. At an individual level, if I can buy one Chinese item less that is my contribution for the overall X. Every reduced penny counts.

Decoupling Benefit: 30% global decoupling from China in five years is realistic. India must derive its benefit. It will not happen unless a special drive is undertaken at state and national levels. This is the “1991 moment” for India again with a difference. Every business set up here is that much less for China. We have the knowhow to rope in businesses exiting China. After all, software and automotive majors have huge Indian hubs here for global markets. We need to leverage our own models and make a concerted effort. Go in for the big ones. Aim high.

Aatmanirbharta Abhiyan: Clear policy initiatives and directions to include ways, means and ends must be put in place with execution and monitoring mechanisms. Otherwise it will go the Make in India way to remain a slogan. This must be coupled with a concerted effort to close the Sino-Indian technology gap on a mission mode. Local industry bodies, economic and technology forums will have a huge role to play in all economic options and must be tapped. The bottom line is clear thinking and sustained execution.

Conclusion

The options outlined above are not original but a broad range which are available. They can be varied and expanded situationally. Some can start now some later. However the Galwan action has taught us a lesson. The Chinese can be beaten if we stand together and believe in ourselves not as Biharis, Punjabis, Sikhs or Thambis but as Indians. Let us do that. United as Indians.

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology.

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Defence

Major push to Make in India in defence sector

Ajay Jandyal

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To give a major push to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atamanirbhar Bharat mission, the Indian Army has joined hands with various technology firms to cater to the demands of the present security scenario.

The Army says if it has to remain operational all around, it cannot rely on obsolete technology hence latest advancement in the sector have to be adopted.

“The Northern Command is always combat ready in the times to come, the challenges will continue to increase so we have to rely on advance technology and keep on innovating,” Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi told The Daily Guardian on the sidelines of the Northern Technology Symposium held in Udhampur on Sunday.

North Tech Symposium was organized under the aegis of HQ Northern Command at Udhampur. Technology symposium, exhibition was organised wherein 162 companies from Indian defence industry including MSMEs, DRDO, DPSU, participated and exhibited their products.

In addition, 42 innovative solutions by Army establishments towards enhancement of combat potential of the Army were also on display. Lt Gen BS Raju, Vice Chief of Army Staff inaugurated the first of its kind technology symposium in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing the event, vice-chief of Army staff Lt Gen V S Raju said that he would have appreciated if the investors, capital ventures would have also shown interest in the event to boost the new start-up.

“To cope up with the ever-evolving and ever-changing security scenario, we also need to adopt changes and keep on innovating. I am happy that so many companies have shown interest to showcase their products at the North Tech Symposium. I am hopeful that in near future, many of the products would be put in use by the armed forces,” General Raju said.

In the wake of recent incidence of drone dropping in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab from across the Indo-Pak border, various companies have displayed their products including anti- drone system, drone jammer which can strengthen the forces and border guarding forces to thwart Pakistan’s plan of disturbing peace.

Other than drone dropping threats, detection of tunnels on Jammu and Kashmir border is also a major threat for the security forces these days as 11 tunnels have been detected on Indian-Pakistan border in the past few years. There was number of companies which showcased their products to detect underground tunnels by using artificial intelligence and special radar.

The symposium saw active participation from of senior officers from different forces including IDS, Army HQ, HQ ARTRAC, other Commands, HQ Northern Command, and its subordinate formations. This interactive platform for knowledge diffusion through Joint Army-Industry participation was an important step in the direction of the government’s initiative of “Make in India”.

On the first day of the seminar, the participants from Army and industry discussed the policy and procedures for expeditious procurement, Raksha Atmanirbharta initiatives by Indian Army, DRDO and Defence Public Sector Undertakings, how can private sector contribute towards surveillance system, weapon sights, drones and counter drone system and miscellaneous technologies like 3D printing.

The symposium served to showcase cutting edge technologies and innovative products providing solutions to some of the complex challenges faced by the security forces in Northern Command and also acted as an ideal platform for mutual exchange of ideas between the domestic defence industry and the Army. The technologies and products on display covered a wide canvas, the prominent ones being surveillance and situational awareness, tactical mobility, firepower, force protection, communications, combat medical facility, robotics and simulators.

The symposium was a huge success and Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, AVSM lauded the initiative and innovations of all the vendors. The General Officer expressed his conviction that the plethora of technologies available indigenously can further boost the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” project of the nation. The spirit of Atmanirbharta demands that research and development, the domestic defence industry and Army have work in a synchronized manner to realise the nation’s vision.

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ARMY MAJOR SUCCUMBS TO INJURIES DURING OPERATION IN KASHMIR

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An Indian Army Major lost his life after slipping into a ravine during a counter-infiltration operation in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.

Major Raghunath Ahlawat.

Late Major Raghunath Ahlawat, 34 was leading his team on a counter-infiltration operation based on reliable intelligence input. “To identify a safe approach for the team he led from the front while carrying out reconnaissance on a route through a steep cliff. “Unfortunately, he slipped due to bad weather and slippery conditions and fell 60 meters into a ravine. Critically injured, he succumbed to his injuries enroute while being evacuated to the nearest Army Hospital,” Indian Army officials said in a statement.

The Army paid tribute to the officer in a ceremony held in the Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar led by Chinar Corps Commander Lieutenant General DP Pandey.

Major Ahlawat was commissioned into the Army in 2012 and hails from Dwarka, New Delhi and is survived by his wife and his parents.

The mortal remains of Late Maj Raghunath Ahlawat were taken for last rites to his native place, where he would be laid to rest with full military honours.

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FOR 114 FIGHTER JETS, IAF FAVOURS ‘BUY GLOBAL MAKE IN INDIA’ ROUTE

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For over USD 20 billion tender for manufacturing 114 multi-role fighter aircraft (MRFA) the Indian Air Force (IAF) would prefer to take the ‘Buy Global Make in India’ route over the strategic partnership policy model to produce the planes within the country.

‘Buy Global Make in India’ is a category of procurement process provided in the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 under Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to smoothen the acquisition of foreign weapon systems and their production within the country under the ‘Make in India’ in the defence programme. Along with the indigenous LCA Tejas and the 5th Generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft project, the 114 MRFA project would also be required by the IAF to maintain an edge over both the Northern and Western adversaries. We would prefer to go in for the Buy Global Make in India route which is preferred by the vendors also who are expected to take part in the programme, government sources said. Three American aircraft including the F-18, F-15 and F-21 (modified version of the F-16), Russian Mig-35 and Su-35 along with the French Rafale, Swedish Saab Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft are expected to participate in the programme. The Indian Air Force had also sought the views of these companies on the acquisition procedure that they would like to opt for in the programme and most of them have shown a preference for the Buy Global Make in India route only, they said.

The sources said that the force has also sought directions from the government on the project.

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INDIA GETS DEFENCE SUPPLIES FROM RUSSIA, BUT PAYMENT MAY BECOME AN ISSUE

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Amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, defence supplies from Moscow are continuing as the Indian defence forces have received a shipment of overhauled aircraft engines and spares. However, there is concern about whether this would continue in the near future as a solution for making payment to Russia has not yet been found.

“The defence forces have received shipments from the Russians very recently and it is still on. So far, there has not been any glitch in supplies for our forces,” a government source told ANI.

“However, there are concerns on whether these supplies can continue in the same manner as the Indian side cannot make payments to these Russian firms in view of the sanctions related to their banks,” he added.

The sources said the Indian and Russian sides are working to find a way this issue can be overcome and many options are being explored.

The latest supplies from Russia included overhauled fighter aircraft engines and spares for an aircraft fleet and they arrived through the sea route, the sources said.

India also received the final parts of the S-400 Triumf air defence system from Russia whose first squadron is operational with its elements deployed to take care of threats from both Pakistan and China.

India is one of the largest users of Russian weaponry including major platforms like fighter jets, transport aircraft, helicopters, warships, tanks, infantry combat vehicles and submarines.

Over the last couple of decades, it has broadened its source base by including equipment from countries like the US, France and Israel in a big way but the dependence on Russia still remains very high.

The Air Force is dependent majorly on the Russian supplies as its mainstay Su30 aircraft fleet is Russian along with its Mi-17 helicopter fleet.

The Army is also dependent on the Russian-origin T-90 and T-72 tank fleet for the armoured regiments.

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IAF, ARMY BRASS WILL ASSESS LAC SITUATION

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The top brass of the Indian Army and Air Force would be assessing the preparedness of their forces and infrastructure requirements along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the militaries of both India and China continue to remain in a standoff position in eastern Ladakh.

The Indian Air Force brass would be meeting this week from 6 April to discuss the security situation including air operations along the northern borders. The Indian Army commanders led by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane would be assessing the present deployments along eastern Ladakh and the northeastern sectors from 18 April onwards in the bi-annual commanders’ conference.

The top brass of the Indian Army had jointly discussed the infrastructure requirements and developments required by the Indian side from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh during a conference in Lucknow recently.

India has made several changes in its deployments post aggression shown by Chinese troops in April-May 2020.

India and China have been talking to each other at both military and diplomatic levels to address the issues but so far they have not been able to do so mainly because of Chinese reluctance. In recent talks to address the Patrolling Point 15 friction, they proposed a solution that was not acceptable to the Indian side.

Indian security establishment led by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has been of the view that the issue would be resolved only if the Chinese completely disengaged and went back to pre April 2020 positions.The Indian side has strengthened its deployments manifold all along the LAC. The Indian Air Force has also started building advanced bases in the forward areas including infrastructure to operate fighter jets and attack helicopters from the forward fields such as Nyoma.

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Sharp fall in infiltration of foreign terrorists, stone pelting: CRPF DG

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There has been a sharp decline in the infiltration of foreign terrorists as well as in stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 from the erstwhile state, Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Kuldiep Singh said on Thursday.

However, noting the targeted killings in Jammu and Kashmir, the officer said, “Some time there is a spurt in terrorist incidents” and the recent killing in “periodic series” are among those, and “it occurs”. Replying to queries during a press briefing here at the CRPF Headquarters, Singh said, “CRPF immediately try to control terrorist incidents in Jammu and Kashmir soon after it gets inputs. These incidents are not totally controlled by internal terrorist people who are there. On many occasions, it is controlled by those sitting across the border and it is directed whom to be targeted or not.”

The CRPF DG reiterated that “some directions comes from foreign lands too”, and thus, “terrorist incidents some times increase and sometimes decrease” “It does not mean that things are out of hand…You can see that the incidents of stone-pelting are almost nil. There has been a sharp decline in the number of infiltration of foreign terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir. Sometimes, there is a spurt in terrorist incidents but it happens,” he said.

The officer informed that the CRPF has neutralized 175 terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and apprehended 183 from March 1, 2021, to March 16, 2022.

Meanwhile, the CRPF has recovered 253 arms from Jammu and Kashmir and seized 7,541 ammunition as well as 96.38 kg explosives, 23 Improvised Explosive Device (IED), 232 grenades, and 36 detonators from the Union Territory, Singh said. Further, he informed that as many as 91 encounters have taken place from March 1, 2021, to March 16 this year. CRPF is the premier Central Armed Police Force (CRPF) entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the internal security of the country. It is deployed across the length and breadth of the country, assisting various state police in the discharge of their duties. CRPF is providing security cover to 117 protectees of various categories, he said adding that 32 women personnel have been inducted into the VIP Security Wing.

A total of 41 VIPs were provided security cover by the CRPF during recently concluded Assembly elections in five states, the DG said adding that the security of 27 protectees has been withdrawn post-elections. The CRPF chief also said that under financial assistance from the risk fund, ex-gratia for personnel martyred in action has been increased to Rs 30 lakhs from Rs 20 lakhs, and for all other cases, the ex-gratia has been increased to Rs 20 lakhs from Rs 15 lakhs.

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