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INDIA AND THE UNITED NATIONS: PEACE AND GOOD ORDER AT SEA

India has been and remains one of the largest contributors of troops to UN peacekeeping missions, which is an incredible demonstration of the country’s commitment not only to maintaining peace across the world but also of its belief in the UN Charter.

Commodore Odakkal Johnson

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“Unlike peacekeeping operations which occur after a situation has degenerated into a violent confrontation, ‘keeping the peace at sea’ operations would be intended to prevent the degeneration in the first place. This is what effective policing is all about. It is the constabulary role, and it is one which navies have been doing almost continuously for millennia. Giving navies a more precise set of tools, specific UN tools, can bring “a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasion” into the 21st century.”

— Hugh Williamson (2011)

75 years ago, the formation of the United Nations Organisation was the second major effort to evolve an institutional comity of nations that reflects among others an Indian ethos. On 26 September 2020, Indian Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, painted a picture of India as an outward-looking country, with a commitment to multilateralism, and fundamental philosophy that is aligned with that of the UN, declaring, “we treat the whole world as one family” [UN News : Sep 2020]. Few realise that while India will celebrate 75 years of political independence only on 15 August 2022, it is one of the four nations that became a founding member of the UN despite the wait for independent dominion status. Earlier in June this year, India was elected as non-permanent member of the powerful UN Security Council for a two-year term, winning a record 184 votes in the 193-member General Assembly. It is apt that this article looks at the Indian perspective of peace and good order on the global stage at large under the UN Charter and peace operations at sea as one of it core philosophies.

The evolving and turbulent world order, has been marked by transitions from bipolarity to multi-polarity and new scenarios of contemporary attempts towards economic and territorial hegemony. The Wuhan originated pandemic has further complicated the delicate balance of connectivity and contestations that become most visible in the maritime segment of geo-politics. Despite the innate desire for peace and good order, military forces and in particular naval assets remain a national contribution to international peace. Indian articulation of SAGAR or Security and Growth for All in the Region stems from the larger vision of collaboration and inclusive world order.

Naval forces play a vital role as maritime sinews in a unique environment like the sea, spelling out their wide spectrum of involvement on the international stage. Sea has more bridges that build international neighbourhoods as opposed to division by conflict. A key aspect of trade in an emerging multi-polar global order is the need to maintain good order at sea. Versatility of maritime military elements and ability to calibrate their posture highlights their enduring role in peace and order in the international arena.

Historically there is a credible record of maintaining peace at sea through deployment of naval forces. There have been several occasions in the past wherein maritime forces have undertaken operations albeit at a relatively low level, keeping peace and good order at sea. Under the concept of conventional UN peacekeeping operations, these were regarded as primarily a ground force function. In fact, most of UN peacekeeping operations have been conducted with ground forces and assets. However, maritime forces have contributed a significant portion to such operations. There are many tasks that United Nations peacekeeping forces are expected to play on the oceans. 

UN archives indicate that the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, when the Security Council authorised deployment of UN military observers to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Since then, there have been a total of 72 UN peacekeeping operations around the world, with 14 operations in progress today. Rumki Basu [1993] mentions that UN Peacekeeping Operations have enabled military forces to be used not to wage war, establish dominion, serve the interests of any power or group of powers but rather to control and resolve conflicts between states or communities within states. Alex Bellamy [2004] highlighted that Article 1(1), of the UN Charter, states that one of its central purposes, is ‘to maintain international peace and security, and to that end take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace’.

India and United Nation Peacekeeping Operations

Commencing with its participation in the UN operation in 1950 where it supplied medical personnel and troops to the UN Repatriation Commission in Korea, India has a long and distinguished history of service in UN peacekeeping. Since 1950, India has participated in 50 missions sending more than 2,08,000 troops. 168 Indians have sacrificed their lives in these peacekeeping operations, the largest sacrifice by any troop-contributing nation. Pallav Agarwal [2018] states that India has developed a well-rounded policy for participation in UN peacekeeping operations. United Nations peacekeeping operated in increasingly complex environment to which India was always a steadfast partner and contented its commitment with UN peace operations for long years. Acknowledging India’s contribution, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said that it would be an understatement to say that India’s contribution to global peace has been remarkable. Pallav Agarwal (2018) points out that India has expressed that the UNSC should decide peacekeeping operations within 30 days or within 90 days in order to avoid delays leading to further deterioration. India has advocated the involvement of experts from all fields in peacekeeping to better manage new challenges.  India was one of the original members of United Nations even before its independence in 1947. In principle, only sovereign states can become UN members. However, although today all UN members are fully sovereign states, four of the original members (Belarus, India, the Philippines, and Ukraine) were not independent at the time of their admission. India signed the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942 and was represented by Girija Shankar Bajpai who was the Indian Agent-General at the time. Afterwards the Indian delegation led by Sir Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar signed the United Nations Charter on behalf of India during the historic United Nations Conference on International Organization held in San Francisco, United States on 26 June 1945. Sir A. Ramaswamy Mudaliar later went on to serve as the first president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Technically, India was a founding member in October 1945, despite it being a British colony. India, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia were all British colonies but were given independent seats in the United Nations General Assembly.

Source: https://www.thebetterindia.com/165334/vt-krishnamachari-panchayati-raj-india-village-news/

Post independence, India has been dedicated to the maintaining international peace and security, as well as one of the leaders in the fight against colonialism and apartheid which marked the post-WWII environment in the world. The country was among the most outspoken critics of apartheid and racial discrimination in South Africa, being the first country to have raised the issue in the UN (in 1946). Its candidature was unanimously endorsed by the 55-member Asia-Pacific Group in June last year. This is the eighth time India has been elected a non-permanent member of the UNSC.

Trajectory of India’s Peacekeeping Contribution

For 70 years, the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations have stood as a beacon of multilateralism and international solidarity, the embodiment of the highest ideals of the UN. From Sierra Leone to Cambodia, Timor Leste, Namibia, El Salvador and elsewhere, UN peacekeeping has helped countries move from war to peace, proving to be one of the international community’s most effective investments in peace, security, and prosperity. India’s participation in this remarkable enterprise is perhaps without parallel. India has been and remains one of the largest contributors of troops to UN peacekeeping missions, with more than 2,00,000 personnel deployed in operations since 1950, the most of any country. This is an incredible demonstration of India’s deep commitment not only to maintaining peace and harmony across the world but also of its belief in the UN Charter.

Indian peacekeepers have been deployed in some of the UN’s most dangerous and challenging missions – in South Sudan, Congo, Somalia, Central African Republic and ten other UN mission across the globe. As the demand for UN peacekeepers has risen steadily, India has responded to the call for service, reaffirming the strength of its relationship with the UN. As of June 2018, India was the third largest troop contributor in the world, with over 6,000 personnel stationed around the world, helping save lives, protect people and setting the stage for a lasting peace.

India and UN Peace Operations at Sea

India had till the early 1990s, provided an infantry battalion, military observers and a field ambulance unit in UN peacekeeping operations. These included ONUCA (Central America) in 1990-92, ONUSAL (El Salvador) in 1991 and UNOMIL (Liberia) in 1994. Indian Navy in a period of maritime resurgence progressed operations for good order at sea in four types of naval operations — Humanitarian, Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) operations against illegal and undesirable elements, Anti-Piracy and Deterrent.

It is in Somalia, that the Indian Navy took an active part in the United Nations Operations in Somalia (UNOSOM) II, 1993-94. India contributed 5,000 personnel from all ranks and four Indian navy warships. Indian naval ships and personnel were involved in patrolling duties off the Somali coast, in humanitarian assistance onshore, and also in the transportation of men and material for the United Nations. They successfully combined the often conflicting roles of coercive disarmament and humanitarian relief to the civilian population. Indian personnel displayed considerable resilience in facing dangerous conditions in these missions. India was one of the few troop-contributing nations to maintain its original presence until the end of that operation, even resisting domestic political pressure to withdraw its troops.

Operation Muffet: The Somalia operation between December 1992 and December 1994 was the Indian Navy’s first ever overseas deployment in support of United Nations Humanitarian Relief Operations. Late Vice Admiral GM Hirandani (Retd) narrated that a task force was formed comprising three ships was dispatched to Somalia. IN Ships Deepak, Kuthar and Cheetah constituted the task group and was commanded by Commodore Sampath Pillai who was designated as Commodore Indian Naval Forces (COMINF).

Source: Indian Defence Review

Operation Restore Hope: A Task Force comprising IN Guided Missile Corvette, LST and Tanker was immediately deployed off Somalia once the US led coalition force launched ‘Operation Restore Hope‘ in Dec 92. This joint operation of the Indian Armed Forces as part of UN peacekeeping mission in the civil war ravaged Somalia continued to be backed up by one IN warship on constant surveillance and patrol task off the Somalia coast along with the warships of multinational forces till Oct 93. The Indian Navy spent a total of 347 ship days maintaining vigil along the Somali coast and ports during 1992-93. The last remaining units of the Indian contingent were repatriated from Somalia on board Indian naval ships from Kismayo port. India demonstrated its capacity to provide an integrated force, comprising land and naval forces as well as air support.

Source: Indian Defence Review

Additionally, major maritime nations have supported and contributed to the United Nations peacekeeping efforts. They have contributed ships and personnel to support the maritime portion of the blockade in support of UN mandated sanctions against Iraq and Maritime Interdiction Operations in Afghanistan through the 1990s and beyond. Those maritime forces operations, sanctioned or supported by the United Nations, clearly identify the growing demand for, and renewed role of, maritime forces in conducting a myriad of peacekeeping operation in areas where land conflicts have been extended to adjacent waters.

India’s Role in Mitigation of Piracy off the coast of Somalia

The scourge of piracy off Somalia posed a serious problem for safety of maritime traffic and the limited authority of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia became news of maritime concern by mid 2008. UNSC Resolution 1846 of 02 Dec 08 welcomed the initiatives of international navies (including India) for their pro-activeness in combating piracy and undertaking convoying operations. This resolution also authorised concerned naval forces to enter the Somalian territorial waters for repressing piracy and armed robbery at sea.

India deployed its naval assets under the UNSC mandate. Two interventions by the Indian Navy exemplify the naval role in peace and good order at sea. In the first ever deterrent action against Somali pirates undertaken by the navy of any country, INS Tabar destroyed a pirate ‘mother ship’ on 11 November 2008 285 nautical miles south west of Salalah Oman. The warship closed the vessel and asked her to stop for investigation. On repeated calls, the vessel’s threatening response was that she would blow up the warship if it closed her. Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of this vessel with guns and Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers. The vessel continued its threatening calls and subsequently fired upon INS Tabar and the warship retaliated, opening fire on the mother ship. After a fire and explosion due to stowed ammunition catching fire, the mother vessel sank. INS Tabar on the same day prevented hijacking attempt on a Saudi Arabian flagged merchant vessel also. In another direct action on 28 May 2009, INS Talwar was escorting the MV Maud, a Liberia-registered cargo ship with two other merchant vessels, Southern Independence and Arames, along the north of the Horn of Africa. The Maud sent a distress call around 12.50 in the afternoon. Its Indian captain reported sighting a skiff with eight armed men approaching the vessel at great speed. In response, INS Talwar, advised the Maud to increase speed and execute a sharp right turn in an evasive manoeuvre to avoid getting boarded. INS Talwar’s helicopter was launched with marine commandos embarked. The commandos sighted two men from the skiff attempting to board the vessel from the bow. They fired warning shots to deter the pirates.  The pirates were observed to disengage from the merchant ship. However two pirates who were in the process of climbing the vessel fell into the water. A boarding party from the warship, thereafter, boarded the skiff and confiscated various weapons as well as equipment used by the pirates.

Approximately US $ 110 billion of international trade passes through the erstwhile piracy infested waters off Somalia. India contributes around 7% of the world’s merchant mariners and thus has an abiding interest in their safety and security. In the UN and other multilateral forays, India has urged greater international cooperation in anti-piracy efforts, including welfare of the hostages. It was at India’s specific instance that the UN Security Council, vide resolution 1976 of April 11, 2011, for the first time strongly condemned the growing practice of hostage-taking by pirates operating off the coast of Somalia. India is a founder-member of the ‘Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia’ (CGPCS), established on 14 January 2009 pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolution 1851 (2008), is a voluntary, ad hoc international forum of approximately 70 countries, organizations and industry groups with a common interest in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, and to facilitate the discussion and coordination of actions among  states and organizations to suppress piracy.

Typifying its commitment to use of naval resources to ensure good order at sea, Indian Navy has been fully engaged for a dozen years to stay engaged in the region. As a founding member of the CGPCS, India has actively contributed to the international efforts to combat maritime piracy Containment of same off the coast of Somalia is an example of successful international collaboration of UN and India in the area of maritime security.

Conclusion

Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) have become one of the UN’s most important means of preserving peace and international security. Some of the greatest threats to international peace and security do not occur on ‘UN Member States territory’, but at sea. The internationally significant and long-standing phenomenon of maritime piracy initially led to international action off the coast of Somalia, but other regions affected by criminal acts at sea are reinforcing the need for international action.

The UN is likely to continue to conduct Traditional Peacekeeping operations and its most successful type of peacekeeping operation – Managing Transition – in cases where political settlements have been reached and outside assistance has been requested. However, the UN is likely to delegate significant military tasks to regional organisations and alliances in future. In such cases the UN will form only one pillar of a broader operation rather than enjoying overall control. India has played a detrimental and significant role with its constructive participation in International Peace keeping by bolstering the anti – piracy operations at the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. As reported in 2018 by Indian Navy, having escorted over 3000 merchant marine during patrolling, not a single ship under the escort of Indian Navy since 2008 has been hijacked by the pirates. With proper naval systems, surveillance and maritime domain awareness India Navy had played commendable job in Peacekeeping operations carried out at International Seas.

The ability to shape India’s maritime security environment requires the development of a credible naval presence with adequate assets commensurate with our defence and security interests as well as those required to discharge the role and responsibility expected of India by the international community like the UN. As a diplomatic instrument, the Navy has key attributes- access, mobility, reach and versatility. We need to embed these attributes within the larger vision of India’s role in the global arena. A flexible but proactive maritime international presence is essential to safeguard and project our national interests overseas. India and UN@75 is a time to heed the international call to bring humane order and well being through UN mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, in light of continued threats to good order at sea, India and its Navy must remain mission deployed in a collaborative maritime synergy to see that the sea lanes remain open for the arteries of maritime connectivity and trade.

Commodore Odakkal Johnson is the Director and Head of Research at Maritime History Society, an academic initiative of Western Naval Command of Indian Navy.

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Defence

Indian Coast Guard apprehends Sri Lankan boat with heroin and weapon

Ashish Singh

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In the past two years anti-national elements involved in narcotics smuggling are trying to infiltrate narcotic drug (Heroin) through Indian coast. The Indian Coast Guard(ICG) received credible information from intelligence agencies regarding an illegal consignment of narcotic drugs (Heroin) going to be smuggled in India through sea route, a couple of weeks ago. The information further revealed that the consignment is being transhipped through a Sri Lankan boat. Indian Coast Guard deployed five ships for the operation to apprehend the smugglers and seized the contraband.

ICG ships carried out extensive search for the suspected boat in the most probable area as per the intelligence input. Two ICG aircraft were also continuously deployed to augmentsea-air coordinated search. Post extensive well planned search in the area, extending since 17 November, suspicious Sri Lankan boat was identified south of Thoothukudi on 24 November 2020. ICGS Vaibhav stealthily followed the boat, and carried out boarding at the opportune moment at about 10 Nautical Miles off the coast of Kanyakumari in the evening of 24 Nov. Search of the suspicious boat revealed 99 packets of heroin, 20 boxes of synthetic drugs, five 9 mm pistols and a Thuraya satellite phone set.

The drugs and weapons were unearthed since hidden in an unapproachable location in the boat. During initial questioning, the crew members revealed that the drugs were transferred onto Sri Lankan vessel ‘Shenaya Duwa’ on the high seas by a Pakistani dhow from Karachi. The drugs meant to be sent to western countries and Australia. The joint interrogation of the apprehended six crew members will be undertaken on vessel reaching Tuticorin. The Indian Coast Guard again proves its commitment to thwart any attempt to smuggle contraband, drug and weapon into our country.

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Defence

Sino-Indian logjam: The Chinese three-card trick

We still need to secure further advantage in eastern Ladakh to break the logjam. The winter is our opportunity. This is the time for some engagement—direct or indirect—to destabilise PLA. The time for disengagement is far away.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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As Ladakh has got colder, Chinese have indulged in a three-card trick. Give up Finger 4. Gain Kailash Range. Retain Depsang. Natural and expected from the ever untrustworthy Chinese. However, we need to see why they are doing it and what our reaction should be. There has been no action on the battlefield except it has got colder. Let us review the situation on ground and then step back to analyse certain factors.

By now eastern Ladakh must be awfully cold. Leh reports minus 13 at night and feels like minus 2 at 1030 in the morning. Eastern Ladakh must be another 10-20 degrees less than that, depending on where you are. Heights would have snow and Pangong Tso would be more than half frozen. The wind-swept plains would be chilling the bones. There were reports that our soldiers are running short of warm clothing and equipment. There were also reports that the US had to bail us out with about 11,000 sets. Well, the reality is that our troops are well kitted and stocked with sufficient ammunition. Not only in Ladakh, but also along the LoC and in the east. That should be a total of about 2.5 lakh sets of warm clothing. So the 11,000 odd sets from the US are only small-time fillers. To put in perspective, we have been up in Siachen since the 1980s. We know what it takes there and are set for it. No sweat.

On the other hand, the perspective I get is that the Chinese are feeling the heat of the cold! Suddenly reports surfaced of enhanced Chinese causality evacuations. Catching cold? Then, one finds that Global ’Idiotic’ Times comes out with reports of buildings with oxygen and warming facilities. That is a giveaway. In high altitude, I would inhale oxygen only if I am in a HAPO (high altitude pulmonaryodema) situation. If every building they build has enhanced oxygen facility, then their troops are constantly less than acclimatized. That is survival with less than optimal battle fitness. In four tenures and innumerable high altitude visits, I have used Oxygen only thrice as a precaution – when getting in/ out of a chopper on the Glacier. It was also funny to see the Global ’Idiotic’ Times coming out with videos showcasing food delivery by drones. I suppose fresh Pangolin meat straight out of the wet market from Wuhan with the virus as a side dish was being air delivered to hardy young Han lads. After some time, I saw videos of Chinese troops hanging on to tails of mules while doing their logistics routine. What a come down to reality! In mountains, mules remain the best fail safe drones. Chinese are learning fast. In the land of Lama don’t behave like a Gama!! All Corps in in Northern Command, have a battle school. Every unit is mandatorily put through pre-induction training – hardened and weeded. The Chinese do not have any such system. Inputs indicate that the Chinese have brought in Russian speaking experts to train their troops. All the best to them. Why am I telling you all this? Our troops are very well stabilized and in a far better position than Chinese to exploit the situation. So why should reports of a three Phase dis-engagement leave me amused?

The 8th round of Sino-Indian Corps Commander-level talks were held on 05 Nov and an anodyne statement was released. In a couple of days a three stage disengagement plan surfaces in the media. Our acclaimed and regular media ‘experts’ claimed that the standoff would be over even before Deepawali! First Step. Tanks and armoured personnel carriers were to move back from their frontline deployment to a significant distance from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by both sides within one day. Second Step. Near Pangong Tso, both sides were supposed to withdraw around 30% troops every day for three days. The Indian side forming in at Finger 3 and the Chinese to go back to the East of Finger 8. Third Step. Withdraw from their respective positions from the frontline along the Southern Bank of Pangong Tso which includes the heights and territories around Chushul and Rezang La area. No mention of Depsang!

Analyse the three card trick. Dangle withdrawal from Finger 4 as a carrot. Whether the Chinese remain at Finger 4 or 8 is immaterial. It has no further tactical or strategic difference. Even virus laden bats do not live there! Get Indians off the Kailash Range in a pro quid quo. The Chusul gateway opens. Grab Kailash Range heights at the first opportunity after the Indians vacate. Maintain stance and consolidate Depsang. Go to the world and announce about the great Chinese victory—winning without fighting. Game set and match—China!

Examine the deception further. When our media is agog with the disengagement plans with our emotional analysts crying hoarse about the great sell off on Kailash Range, the Chinese media refutes that there is any plan. However after a couple of days, they come out with this great analysis that maybe the Indians are weakening and want to reach a conclusion to the conflict. That is why Indian media is discussing this. Indians are now prepared to discuss peace at Chinese terms! Typical Chinese deceptive strategy. Mind games at work. Deepawali has come and gone. Nothing further heard.

Let us for a moment think that this plan was credible and real. Who was to monitor the execution of the plan? Are we contemplating joint monitoring with untrustworthy Chinese? If we get beyond that, how do we manage the buffer zones which are to be created? By trusting the Chinese? On what basis is this plan drawn which leaves Depsang out? Who initiated it? Our media falls hook line and sinker for it.

Consider this also. Every step and turn, over the past seven decades, that we have taken with the Chinese is still being scrutinised minutely with a lens. Every conversation we have had with Pakistan is granulated. We ourselves say that what India has gained tactically on the battlefield, it has lost strategically on the summit tables. In such a situation how do we fall for such three card tricks? History will never forgive modern-day Jaichands, who take ill-informed decisions to fall for the trap.

An accommodation with China on the border and disengagement has many dimensions. Soldiers and veterans will see it emotionally through the prism of sacrifice for the territory/ advantage gained/ lost. The government will evaluate the overall situation—militarily, economically and diplomatically regarding the overall effort including maintaining a relationship with China in future—Good , Bad or ugly. The average citizen will see if India has succeeded. An international observer will see if China succeeds or not and its impact on world affairs. To arrive at a balanced decision which has far reaching proportions, with such diverse perspectives, needs informed political debate and plan at national level. An agreement other than to enforce a peaceful status quo to avoid flareups or to respond to an emergent situation is beyond the scope of military talks. There has to be political talks and understanding based on transparency. It needs trust. People need to be convinced that we have not been sold out or dealt a dummy. There must be political consensus. If a unilateral decision is taken, history will not forgive the current Prime Minister, like it has not forgotten our Prime Minister of 1962 for his folly of trusting the Chinese. So far the Government or the Army has not clarified the actual status at Depsang. Have we been pushed back or are we being blocked access? In such a situation even to contemplate to make a deal with China, without transparency or trust is being foolish. History will not forgive fools.

On the other hand our PM talks of ‘Prachand Jawab’ and ‘days of expansionism are over’ at Longewala. It was an obvious message to China. All ministries have repeatedly flagged their concerns regarding Chinese influence in day to day life and how to reduce it. We have banned Tik Tok and its siblings. We have taken a clear position against BRI and RCEP. We are leaning towards the Quad. We are preparing for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat. In any case Chinese will insist on a comprehensive dialogue to include trade and economics. Do we want to go back to China-nirbhar Bharat? Are we prepared for that? Under the conditions, does one still think that a disengagement plan is on?

There is yet another factor. As long as China is kept on the hook and is forced to commit troops and resources in a situation it can never master, the more it looks foolish. Already one sees that the Chinese balloon is a bit deflated. I have been maintaining that as long as the Virus lasts and as long as this current situation on the LAC lasts, China will continue to be in a face losing situation. So why the hurry? Moreover, if the issue is settled, China will be free to start some adventure elsewhere. Keep it there in the frozen wastes of eastern Ladakh and China will come to its senses.

China will try its mind games and try to seed disinformation as it is a habit to do so. All the hot air about teaching India a lesson has frozen in Ladakh. There was lot of talk that China will attack and capture Taiwan when the US presidential elections are on. That was supposed to be the ideal window of opportunity to capture Taiwan. The election has come and gone. There is still uncertainty in the US. Militarily, the US eyes are off the ball. The window remains open. China has not taken a single step to mount an amphibious attack on Taiwan. Hot air again.

As far as I see it, we are in a groove and prepared for the winter in High Altitude. We still need to secure further advantage in eastern Ladakh to break the logjam. The winter is our opportunity. This is the time for some engagement (direct or indirect) to destabilise PLA. The time for disengagement is far away. I hope we have a plan.

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. His other articles can be read on his blog www.gunnersshot.com.

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DEEPENING RELATIONS: AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER CALLS ON WESTERN NAVAL COMMAND CHIEF

Ashish Singh

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Barry O’ Farrell AO, High Commissioner of Australia, accompanied by Sarah Roberts, acting Consul General, Consulate of Australia, Mumbai, and a three-member delegation called on Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, on Monday. The High Commissioner interacted with the Admiral and exchanged views on various issues of common interest such as Bilateral Cooperation in Defence and Security, Strategic Partnership and shared maritime interests as Indian Ocean littoral States. The High Commissioner also visited the Aircraft Carrier Dock at the Western Naval Command.

The High Commissioner’s visit was significant as it coincided with the recently concluded Quad exercise MALABAR 2020 in which India, Australia, Japan and the U.S. participated. HMAS Ballarat, a frigate of Royal Australian Navy represented Australia in both the phases of Malabar 20 and had spent some time at Goa port for its operational turnaround from 10 – 13 Nov 20. The current visit by the High Commissioner is in accordance with the good relations enjoyed by both the Commonwealth nations and is expected to further strengthen the existing bonds between both the navies.

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Defence

INDIA TEST-FIRES LAND-ATTACK VERSION OF BRAHMOS

Ashish Singh

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At approximately 10 am on Monday, Indian Army successfully test-fired a BrahMos Land Attack Cruise Missile using a Mobile Autonomous Launcher (MAL) from Car Nicobar Islands against a designated target located at a range of approximately 200 km in Bay of Bengal. During this successful test launch, the missile demonstrated the weapon’s unmatched lethal ability and formidable precision strike capability.

BrahMos missile system, an Indo- Russian joint venture is the most lethal and potent weapon system available with the Indian Army for precision strike. The land attack version of BrahMos with capability of cruising at 2.8 Mach speed, is cutting edge of the Indian Army since 2007. The present Block III version of the missile has successfully executed four operational launches in the past. With the upgraded capability the missile can hit targets at a range of upto 400 Km with precision. The launch marks the achievement of a critical milestone in enhancing India’s capability of engaging enemy’s vitally important targets in depth areas. The launch was witnessed by various dignitaries who lauded the commendable effort demonstrated during the successful execution of the launch.

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Defence

WORLD NEEDS A NEW ORDER AND EVERLASTING PEACE

Making a rule or law with agreement of all is the first step to have acknowledged the problem and need for correction. However, more important are constantly making amendments in the law as per changing times, effective monitoring by unbiased body, strict implementation to ensure timely justice and punitive punishments to violators.

Ashish Singh

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World has been facing the most challenging medical emergency in last one century since December 2019 causing deaths in millions. This time it is due to a well concealed pandemic by inimical forces of humanity and treacherous intentions beyond comprehension. Historically on occurrence of crime, motive is the first and foremost thing to be investigated and most important clue is revealed by singling out the beneficiary. Evident motive in the present case of worldwide pandemic unleashed is to damage world economy, stemming the increasing influence of western culture by discrediting it and above all breaking the morale of developed nations by manipulating world organizations. It is quite obvious that a new world order is desired to be set. Wrongdoer was well aware that the collateral damages would be deaths in millions, discrediting of world leaders and dislocated governing bodies. In fact, the perpetrator must be overjoyed to have achieved more than what it had planned for however, it has also revealed itself in this act of treachery towards humanity. Nations of the world surely are not going to watch it go helplessly.

There are many pertinent questions to be asked such as; was the virus developed in a lab, was it allowed to escape, was it allowed to be sent worldwide? The leading world body being compromised what is the authenticity of the findings given by the investigating teams? It is difficult to believe that any punitive actions would be taken against the offender in a comprehensive manner to punish him as those actions would again be a violation of basic human rights and against the democratic values which the majority of the world players presently support. All this can happen only after the world is sufficiently assured of the correctness of judgment and identification of the guilty. Given all these there would still be a need for justice to the world humanity and human cause. Answer for destruction cannot be even more destruction however, suitable steps must be taken to make the culprit realize the futility of such covert and inhuman acts.

World at this juncture must address the much larger issue of the way forward for the humanity and world peace. They had come together earlier after WW I with formation of League of Nations and after WW II created United Nations just to ensure peaceful world and a better future for humankind. Anybody reading the preamble of United Nations would even today wonder how to improve upon it as it already has all the ingredients that are desired for world peace and harmony. Happenings after WW II has been well documented and we must contemplate a repeat.

Forty-six nations, including the four sponsors, were originally invited to the San Francisco Conference: nations which had declared war on Germany and Japan and had subscribed to the United Nations Declaration. There were 850 delegates, and their advisers and staff together with the conference secretariat brought the total to 3,500. There were only ten plenary meetings of all the delegates but nearly 400 meetings of the committees at which every line and comma was hammered out.

There was also considerable debate on the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the conference decided that member nations would not be compelled to accept the Court’s jurisdiction but might voluntarily declare their acceptance of compulsory jurisdiction. Likewise, the question of future amendments to the Charter received much attention and finally resulted in an agreed solution. Above all, the right of each of the “Big Five” to exercise a “veto” on action by the powerful Security Council provoked long and heated debate. The smaller powers feared that when one of the “Big Five” menaced the peace, the Security Council would be powerless to act, while in the event of a clash between two powers not permanent members of the Security Council, the “Big Five” could act arbitrarily. But the great powers unanimously insisted on this provision as vital, and emphasized that the main responsibility for maintaining world peace would fall most heavily on them. Eventually the smaller powers conceded the point in the interest of setting up the world organization.

“The Charter of the United Nations which you have just signed,” said President Truman in addressing the final session “is a solid structure upon which we can build a better world. History will honor you for it. With this Charter the world can begin to look forward to the time when all worthy human beings may be permitted to live decently as free people. If we fail to use it” he concluded, “we shall betray all those who have died so that we might meet here in freedom and safety to create it. If we seek to use it selfishly – for the advantage of any one nation or any small group of nations — we shall be equally guilty of that betrayal.”

On October 24, 1945 Charter came into force when the Governments of China, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States and a majority of the other signatory states ratified it and deposited notification to this effect with the State Department of the United States then the United Nations came into existence.” (Excerpt from un.org)

So, what led us as nations to violate the basic intent of collective resolve undertaken in 1945? Is it blatant disregard for rules or desire for growth or seeking better future for own people or jealousy or simply dominance? What did we overlook while finalizing the Charter? Causes of our collective failure lies in basic nature of human’s struggle to achieve equality. Equality of knowledge, wealth, status and every aspect of human life is a must to create a harmonious and peaceful co-existence. Non agreement on universal applicability of ICJ judgments and allowing veto powers to big five are the two major reasons which caused failure of the world body to prevent wars and manmade calamities. World thereafter witnessed numerous skirmishes, wars, long drawn out cold war, nations breaking up, meddling in others affairs with impunity and many more actions by signatory nations that were in violation to the spirit of UN Charter. One good thing that occurred during the meetings was agreement to carry out future amendments to UN Charter as and when felt necessary.

Making a rule or law with agreement of all is the first step to have acknowledged the problem and need for correction. However, more important are constantly making amendments in the law as per changing times, effective monitoring by unbiased body, strict implementation to ensure timely justice and punitive punishments to violators. Struggle would always be there between pure and the evil; the way forward should be to restrict, reduce and finally eradicate evil to diminish and eventually eliminate sufferings. Same struggle can be identified among the human race with religion to search for something pure which would eradicate all distress. World effort should be to establish such Charter that wipes out agony and replaces it with peace for the human race in this world. World after recovering from this artificial calamity must resort to rebuilding and restructuring the architecture of the world body. World certainly needs a new order today to ensure peace and alleviation of affliction of the human race.

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Defence

Resetting India -Nepal relations needed to offset Chinese threats

Mukesh Ambani has added a feather to India’s cap by figuring among the richest in the world.

Lt Gen A.K. Bhatt (Retd) & Brig Narender Kumar (Retd)

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No bilateral relations between nations can be built on sentiment—whether it is based on faith, ideology or inheritance. Only those rooted in shared interests will endure. Relations will not remain everlasting if the interests of the people and nations are not renegotiated. The relations with Nepal were driven for long on shared culture, religion and geographical realities. The problem thus far has been a sense of “everlasting friendship” between India and Nepal without incorporating suitable changes to the historical treaties to accommodate new political, social and economic realities. The border dispute is a manifestation of multiple factors including new found competitive nationalism among the political parties of Nepal, structural changes unfolding in the external and internal context of the bilateral relationship and Nepal asserting strategic autonomy to renegotiate the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship. New political elites of Nepal feel that relations with India cannot be frozen in time due to a treaty that has lived its utility.

When the founder of the modern Nepali state, Prithvi Narayan Shah, described Nepal as a “yam between two rocks”, he in fact hinted at the geo-strategic significance of Nepal and need for maintaining strategic autonomy and neutrality with India and China. In order to look ahead and repair, revise and revive the bilateral relationship, India must first understand why and how the territorial dispute has flared up. It may be tempting to start on a clean slate, but future visions will remain void if both sides don’t learn from past mistakes.

A POLITICAL CONFLICT TRAP

Nepal’s claim of approximately 372 sq km of Indian Territory in Kalapani area has caused considerable fissures in bilateral relations between the two countries. Kalapani issue has become a huge rallying point amongst the opposition parties in Nepal and it is now very difficult for the Nepalese Government or even the opposition parties to back off from their claim. It came at a time when India was engaged with China in a standoff along the Line of Actual Control. It gave new lease of life to the current Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and he rode the competitive nationalism to tide over the current political crisis. The claim and subsequent issue of map has given birth to a permanent and long-term territorial dispute that is difficult to resolve and thus creating a conflict trap that will keep rising whenever the relations between two states take a turn to the South. Till now the political leadership of both countries were keeping this conflict under wraps, but now it has been unleashed and will remain on the prowl till a mechanism is worked out to set this conflict to rest. 

The question comes up, could India prevent the constitutional amendment of the map if Indian government had kept their ears to the ground? It is difficult to answer in “yes or no” but the fact of the matter is that India needs to have a new road map to engage with Nepal post changed political realities in Nepal. To control the damage, Nepalese leadership should ensure that Nationalism is not distorted to an anti-Indian feeling. Because that will narrow down the options to resolve this dispute in future. Let this dispute not become a pivot for China to exploit Nepalese sentiment.

THE CHINA ANGLE

If the relations are not reset and Nepal continues to drift away, it will become a major peril of corridor especially due to China- Pak nexus and manifestation of Three Warfares (3Ws) and Irregular Warfare against India. The open and porous border facilitates an active non-contact warfare by China and Pakistan to destabilise the heartland India. It gives an opportunity to inimical forces to exploit this porous border for smuggling of arms, drugs and fake Indian currency to give impetus to instability and also support Left Wing Extremists who have ideological and organisational linkages with Maoists of Nepal. Dr PV Ramana posits that the Maoist insurgents and PWG have formed the Indo-Nepal Border Regional Committee (INBRC) “to coordinate their activities” in Bihar. The bottom-line is that ideological and organisational linkages do exist and it can be exploited by China by extending material and weapon support to the LWE through Nepalese Maoists. Bigger threat is political and information warfare that can penetrate deep inside India’s heartland. China Study Centers especially along the India- Nepal borders are a greater threat that can cause instability in Gangetic Plains and disrupt East- West strategic lines of communication. Only way this threat can be managed is by restoring ties with Nepal and building resolute military to military relation between two armies.

INDIA, A NATURAL ALLY

Nepal has been embracing a policy of strategic diversification to reduce its dependence on India and enhance its non-aligned autonomy. In response India’s perceived economic blockade of 2015 was seen by Nepal as a right to deny and insulate Nepal from the outside world. That had caused major upheaval against India among the Nepalese youth and common citizens. India should consider Nepal as co-equal and develop relations not as a “protectorate but as a partner”. Because strategic space if abdicated by India will be encroached upon by China and that will become difficult for India to reclaim. India cannot blame China’s political interference in Nepal as a major factor for deteriorating relations between the two states. India not paying adequate attention to reset the road map for building relations is also a factor. It is very natural that two neighbours sharing a border of more than 1,800 km are bound to have some differences but these differences should not become disputes or else a third party will take advantage of it.

Both nations today have to realise that apart from the strong historical relations guided by a common culture, religion and similar language is also supported by Geography. The Indian ports and transit access, protected by special trade and transit treaties is a commitment which needs to be honoured by India. Even though China has provided…special trade and transit facilities by way of dry ports and roads, the long distance from the eastern coast of China to Nepal via Tibet, approximately 4000 kms is just not a cost-effective option. Initially China may subsidize services and goods passing through this long corridor as it meets the objectives of Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative. However, if Nepal has to take a cue from Sri Lanka’s experience let it be clear that a decade later it is the people of Nepal who will pay the price for their political miscalculation. Many countries in the African continent today are suffering because of the free largess initially offered by China in the form of soft loans for development of infrastructure. Is this the future which Nepal is looking at? According to a report by the Survey Department of Agriculture Ministry of Nepal, China has illegally occupied Nepal’s land in several places spreading over seven bordering districts. Unfortunately the Oli Government has kept silent over this land grab. China believes in debt slavery and Nepal could be forced to surrender its strategic autonomy if it allows China to continue to make economic, political and cultural inroads in Nepal. Though there is a vocal anti-India lobby in Nepal, but the people with this new development along the Northern borders are equally resentful of China.

Nepal shares a long and open border with India the special privileges which are given to all citizens of Nepal are unique. In fact, a citizen of Nepal can work anywhere in India including the Armed forces as well as reside in any part of India. These privileges are not reciprocal for Indian citizens which is quite understandable because of the size of Nepal. Apart from the Army there is a large population of unskilled workers from Nepal working in the industrial and agriculture sector. Nepal will never have an ally that offers its citizens free access for work, education, health services, tourism, travel, religious pilgrimage and business. Such a facility has been extended by India to the Nepalese citizens without reciprocation from Nepal. Closing down the border and treating Nepalese citizens as per diplomatic protocol followed globally will harm the interests of the people of Nepal. Therefore, Nepal must exercise caution and restrain not to burn the bridges that may become difficult to rebuild in future.

MILITARY DIPLOMACY A BRIDGE TO INITIATE THE DIALOGUE

India has been shy of using military diplomacy with its neighbours, whereas there are special relations and close ties between Indian Army and Nepal Army that has been rarely exploited to reset the ties between two nations. After long hiatus of nearly more than four months, relations between India and Nepal could be set in motion, the visit of Indian Army Chief General M.M. Naravane to Nepal, where he will be conferred with the title of the honorary Chief of the Nepalese Army is a much-needed initiative for stabilisation of relations between the two close neighbours. This special tradition of bestowing the title of honorary Chief on each other’s Army Chief dates back to the period of Field Marshal S.H.F.J. Manekshaw who was proud enough to change his name to Sam Bahadur as a homage to his brave Gorkha brethren. This military tradition has helped in strengthening military to military relations between the two Armies. Fortunately, this tradition has continued despite some occasional ups and downs in the relation between the two nations. It is a good initiative that the leaders of both the nations have taken a pause and allowed military to military engagement to take place to kick-start the dialogue between two neighbours. It is a positive step that the Indian Government has sent their Army Chief and the Nepalese Government by willingly receiving him and honouring him. The President of Nepal bestowing the honorary General’s rank and the PM of Nepal meeting him in the capacity of Defence minister needs to be understood in a positive manner. It is pertinent to mention that Nepal Army has always acted as a permanent ambassador of India in Nepal due to their long association with the Indian Army. However, off late India has neglected this aspect and it must be given impetus by building bridges with the Nepalese Army and police.

Both the Governments need to take this visit as a trigger for a new beginning, an opportunity to reset our relationship to the current strategic realities, the recommendations of the Eminent People’s Committees report which is available with the Government could be a guideline. A very important part is that the relations between the two strategic neighbours should not be taken hostage by irresponsible media or local domestic political considerations in either of the nations.

WAY FORWARD

Most crucial aspect is building bridges with the people. The strong connect India maintains with the ex-servicemen of Gorkha regiments in Nepal needs to be consolidated. India still remains an economic destination for the people of Nepal. In fact, citizens of Nepal should be granted access to utilise the health care, education institutions along the borders for the common good of the citizens of the border areas of both countries. Villagers living along the Kali River should be allowed to use the road Dharchula-Kalapani for movement ‘to and from’ Dharchula. India needs to send a message that this road is built for collective good of India and border citizens of Nepal.

One visit by the Chief of the Army Staff may not be sufficient and thus there is a need to have a permanent presence of Indian military leader in Kathmandu either by way of posting a Gorkha Regiment General as an Ambassador or Special Envoy to Nepal. This engagement must remain unbroken and resilient. Nepalese Army and even the civil bureaucracy are more comfortable in dealing with a Nepalese speaking Army envoy who understands their language and ethos better than a diplomat who has lesser linkages with the people on the ground. The tenure of late Lt Gen S.K. Sinha as an ambassador is a proof of it.

India should guarantee unobstructed access to the port and dry docks. However, Nepalese government should be made accountable to ensure that the access will be unconditional if Nepal does not work against the strategic interest and national security of India.

India should be open to renegotiate the Treaty of Peace and Friendship 1950. The Eminent Peoples Committee Report could also be examined to give a new direction to the India-Nepal relations.

India must invest in upgrading its cross-border infrastructure and economic assistance to Nepal: There are now new rail and road links, an electronic cargo system for Nepali goods to transit via Indian ports, inland waterway navigation plans, and a new cross-border pipeline for petroleum products. These projects must be pursued at fast pace because it will bring economic benefits to both nations.

Lt Gen A.K. Bhatt (Retd) is an Infantry Officer from 9th Gorkha Rifles. He is a former DGMO, GOC 15 Corps, and Military Secretary of the Indian Army. Brig Narender Kumar (Retd) is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) and former Distinguished Fellow, USI (New Delhi). The views expressed and suggestions made in the article are solely of the authors in their personal capacity and do not have any official endorsement.

Most crucial aspect is building bridges with the people. The strong connect India maintains with the ex-servicemen of Gorkha regiments in Nepal needs to be consolidated. India still remains an economic destination for the people of Nepal. In fact, citizens of Nepal should be granted access to utilise the healthcare and educational institutions along the borders.

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