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Chinese checkers: How India can checkmate the Dragon

While the military will remain the fulcrum, a multidirectional approach with Tibet as the central theme and a wholesome policy covering military, political, economic, psychological and cyber operations has to be the future to tackle an expansionist, belligerent and untrustworthy China.

Major General P. Rajagopal (Retd)

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The current spiralling downward trend in India-China relations affords very little hope of getting back on track in the foreseeable future. Importantly, the trust factor crucial to any relationship has been lost. The recent intransigent and expansionist policy of China along the entire India-China border, creating a war like situation, has changed the complexion of this relationship. All the mutual agreements for maintaining peace and tranquility have become null and void as China has shown that it has no respect for any agreements. Clearly, Chinese actions are both tactical — change the alignment of the border unilaterally — as well as strategic — keep India engaged on the border indefinitely. China has irretrievably damaged the relationship.

 In the last four months, China has maintained the same modus operandi-talk in different voices at different levels, consistently blamed India for breaking the peace and tranquility agreements, and indulged in meaningless talks (17 meetings so far with nothing to show on ground). Having lost the initial opportunity to prevent PLA from occupying the disputed areas, India was quick to realize that China was stringing them along –there was no plan to disengage and they had come to stay permanently. With no negotiating point and all the cards with China, India was looking at a bleak future. 

However, with a master stroke India turned the tables by occupying important dominating heights in South and North Banks of Pangong Tso, on our side of LAC in August end. This ensured domination of Chinese positions in the South and North Bank, making it vulnerable and also preventing any misadventure by PLA while providing a window of opportunity to punish PLA when needed. It is a stalemate but the advantage still lies with PLA as they are physically sitting in disputed areas.

It was in this surcharged atmosphere of eyeball to eyeball confrontation, that a meeting of foreign ministers took place on 10 September. The five-point mechanism – in the obtuse language of diplomacy is highly suspect. From past experience, it will be naive to expect PLA to withdraw from the disputed areas or move back the men and machinery they have deployed close to the border. India cannot afford to once again fall into the machinations of China and repeat the cycle of bending over backwards. There is a need to reboot its long-term plans to tame the Dragon.

 We are dealing with a country – China – which has no principles and can even use nuclear, chemical or biological warfare with no compunctions as they have no respect for any international agreements. China besides being in possession of nuclear weapons has the ability to develop chemical and biological weapons. There are increasing reports of the Wuhan virus having originated from the Government controlled microbiology labs of Wuhan – the threat is real. On the other border we have another totally irresponsible country –Pakistan having nuclear weapons and reportedly also in possession of tactical nuclear weapons. India has a declared nuclear no –first use policy. Most of India’s policies are targeted for a single adversary – Pakistan. With a two front war staring at us we need to look at the entire gamut of nuclear warfare including tactical nuclear weapons while looking afresh at preventive and counter measures on biological and chemical warfare keeping in mind that we have two untrustworthy countries on our borders – China and Pakistan.

On the conventional side there is a need to revamp our plan for our military preparedness. Years of neglect and dwindling defense budgets has taken its toll. The lack of preparedness has already proved very costly for uspanic buying of weapons and ammunition and equipment at huge costs and disruption of our economy. There is no getting away from more fast track acquisitions particularly in areas of air defense, surveillance equipment modernization and capacity building of all three services. This is now an unavoidable imperative. It can no more be prioritisation within the armed forces; it has to be prioritisation of government spending so that adequate resources are found for defence acquisitions.

 At the same time, we need to remember that China is not only leading us into a trap of arms race in the subcontinent but also hitting at our economy and international standing. Other than an open war , China has indulged in anti-India activities across the boardworking against India in all international forums, openly supporting terrorists and Pakistan sponsored terrorism, trying to embarrass India by raising issue of Kashmir, claims on Arunachal Pradesh, psychological operations, salami slicing at the border and cyber attacks ( recent reports of a Chinese firm snooping over prominent Indians including President, Prime Minister, CDS and many other dignitaries, and so on is truly alarming) – the list is endless. It is time to turn the tables and pay them back in the same coin. For this we need to develop a comprehensive multidirectional approach (not to be hyphenated with the talks which must continue) to include military, political, psychological, economic, and diplomatic and cyber warfare with inbuilt pressure points. We have to ensure that there is enough deterrence in our arsenal to keep China away from any adventurism and their constant expansionist policy nibbling at the border areas.

 India must hit China where it hurts most. China has taken huge advantage of most of the nations accepting Beijing’s “One China “policy and “One Country Two Systems” principle. India has also recognised Tibet as part of China, accepting “One China” Policy. China, on the other hand, has made every effort to humiliate Tibetans and isolate Taiwan diplomatically and indulge in deliberate offensive acts against the country. They have been systematically robbing Hong Kong of its unique characteristics. The efforts to sinicize the lives of Uighurs and Tibetans now extending to Hong Kong has to be resisted. India can take this to the world and right now it will get support from a number of countries including US, Germany, Australia and Japan to name a few. India must also enhance trade with Taiwan particularly in telecom and cyber warfare techniques where Taiwan has tremendous expertise.

We should look at Tibet as our single point political agenda to pressurise China. The Tibetans cannot forget their forcible integration in 1951; since then PLA have committed innumerable crimes against the people, and are continuing their efforts to crush the spirit and religious beliefs of Tibetans. India has generally been cautious about not stirring up Chinese sensitivities on Tibet and has always gone out of its way to keep the Tibetan cause under wraps. It is time to review our stand on Tibet starting with using ambiguous language on Tibet’s status, and ramping up engagement with the Tibetan Government in exile. The crass environmental degradation of water resources in Tibet, rapid pace of dam construction is a matter of concern not only for India but the whole world. The presence of the Dalai Lama, should be used as a rallying point for Tibetan sentiments. We have a large exiled Tibetan community; moreover there is also the central Tibetan administration in India. These are powerful cards that Delhi can exploit for strategic benefit. India is the birth place of Buddhism and the religion is part of India’s spiritual heritage. 

While the military will remain the fulcrum, a multi directional approach with Tibet as the central theme and a wholesome policy covering military, political, economic, psychological and cyber operations has to be the future to tackle an expansionist, belligerent and untrustworthy China. It is now or never and up to India to grab the opportunity.

Maj Gen P.Rajagopal AVSM,VSM (Retd) has commanded the division in eastern Ladakh.

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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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Defence

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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Defence

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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Defence

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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Defence

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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