In 2012, Robert D. Kaplan in his book The Revenge of Geography argued that “as the United States and China become great power rivals, the direction in which India tilts could determine the course of the geopolitics in Eurasia in the twenty-first century”. Now we can foresee what Kaplan had predicted almost a decade ago. However, India seems to be the unprepared kingmaker in Eurasia. China understands the future challenges and it is prepared for the long geopolitical game.
India’s natural boundaries are weak because of the territorial division inflicted upon it by the British occupiers in 1947. The territory of West Punjab and Sindh should have been in India, but today these two provinces along with occupied Balochistan and Pashtun dominated areas in Afghanistan are under the domination of an oppressive ethnic Sunni Punjabi community.
Pakistan is India’s biggest geographical dilemma, and without regaining control over its breakaway territory, it is unlikely for India to rise as a regional power. India should have resolved the issue of lost territory decades ago, but Indian political elite hesitated to formulate a bipartisan strategy to regain Indian territory. They strived to normalise relations with Pakistan and even began to imagine Pakistan as a unique historical sovereign entity with no historical relations to India. The delusion of the Indian political elite and bureaucracy only wasted India’s time and further weakened India’s position in the region.
America always favoured Pakistan during the Cold War, but the reality of the global order was different after the Soviet Union’s collapse. The United States for the first-time favoured India against Pakistan during the Kargil Conflict in 1999. According to Bruce Riedel, then-President Clinton’s Special Assistant, the Kargil conflict changed the equation in the region, and it set the trajectory of America’s engagement with India. Bill Clinton’s India visit in March 2000, cemented the relationship between the world’s oldest and world’s largest democracies.
He stayed for four days in India, addressed the joint session of the Indian Parliament, and both countries formulated a framework for institutional engagement and cooperation. Clinton also visited Islamabad only for a few hours, not for cooperation but to save Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s life who was ousted by General Pervez Musharraf in a military coup in October1999. Pakistan was already in decline, great Baloch leader, Hyrbyair Marri who is connected to the roots of freedom struggle for generations once again motivated, reorganised, propelled the masses for complete independence of Balochistan, from the oppressed Pakistani regime by reigniting the 5th Balochistan liberation movement in mid-1990s.
Pakistan had lost its significance in the international arena after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and US policies were more focused on China’s aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea. During the Presidential campaign, George W Bush criticised Bill Clinton for being too soft on China. President Bush faced his first foreign policy crisis in the South China sea immediately after taking office. In April 2001, a Chinese interception jet collided with an American EP-3 signal intelligence aircraft in the international waters. One Chinese jet was destroyed during the incident, and US Navy crew were forced to land their damaged aircraft in China’s Hainan Island. American soldiers were detained, and vital intelligence-gathering equipment was also compromised.
China was the new threat for the West in the 2000s; however, 11th September 2001 changed everything for America and the rest of the World. All rivals of America supported American efforts to topple the Taliban Government and cap ture those responsible for terrorist acts on American soil. United Nations resolution 1373 gave legitimacy to the War on Terror. America centred its core foreign policy strategy from geopolitics to counter-terrorism wars. Pakistan reaped the benefits of the post 9/11 world, on the one hand, it supported the American invasion of Afghanistan, on the other hand, it saved the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and prepared them for the next battle. Pakistan became one of the major non-NATO allies, gained access to crucial military hardware and received billions of dollars in aid. America lost the war because it trusted Pakistan and mistook a geopolitical driven proxy war in Afghanistan as a homegrown insurgency.
America started to re-shift its geo-strategic doctrine from counter terrorism to great-power conflict after the death of Osama Bin Laden. During the last years of his presidency, Obama increased the strategic focus on China. China is not the same state which it used to be in a pre 9/11 world. China was the 6th largest economy in the 2000s, and now it is the World’s second-largest economy. China’s One Belt, One Road initiative granted it access to the world’s geostrategic regions. China has built a naval base in Djibouti near Bab al-Mandab Strait, and a new naval base next to Hormuz is under construction in Jiwani, Balochistan.
Moreover, the new pact between China and Iran will give it more leverage in the Strait of Hormuz. India has an advantage in the Strait of Malacca against China, but that advantage will fade away as global warming melts the Arctic’s ice and China implements its new Arctic policy. Also, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will ensure Chinese access to the Middle East if Malacca is blocked by the Indian Navy in the case of war. Balochistan remains strategically of immense importance in the whole great power rivalries. It is also vital for any future Indian geo-strategic success in our region.
Partition has weakened India geographically in the region, and it is now being encircled by an aggressive China. China has territorial disputes with India, and it will never hesitate to start a limited conflict at the right time. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the US-China rivalry, and the world will confront China sooner than expected. China and the West are preparing for that next conflict, but India is still idling.
India needs to confront Pakistan indirectly with a long-term policy, stop China from encircling India and make long term reliable allies in the neighbourhood. All these three goals can be achieved by supporting the freedom movements in the neighbourhood e.g. Balochistan, Tibet and POK which would cement India’s stature in the world. The freedom in Balochistan is the legitimate right of the people of Balochistan and must be supported at all cost. The wrong of the past must be undone, which in turn will pave the way for India to reclaim its illegally occupied territory (PoK). Such a solution will resolve geographic dilemmas on the western border. India will get direct land access to Afghanistan and central Asian countries along with independent Balochistan which in turn will also bring the expansionist regime of China to an end.
As of today, China has lured India’s neighbours, but India can turn the tables in its favour if it understands the geostrategic value of supporting the freedom struggles of Tibet and Balochistan.
Jamal Baloch is Free Balochistan Movement’s head of the Foreign Affairs Department and a member of Chatham House. He can be reached at @JNBaloch.
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1971 WAR: NORTHERN COMMAND PAYS HOMAGE TO SWARNIM VIJAY MASHAAL
To commemorate the decisive and historic victory of Indian Armed Forces over Pakistan Army in December 1971 and to pay homage to the Swarnim Vijay Mashaal (Victory Flame), a solemn Wreath Laying Ceremony was held at ‘Dhruva Shaheed Smarak’ at Headquarters Northern Command in the Udhampur Military Station. Lt Gen YK Joshi, Army Commander, Northern Command laid the wreath to honour the Swarnim Vijay Mashaal lit in remembrance of the valiant soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service of our nation. The event was attended by Veterans, NCC Cadets and senior Army officers of Udhampur Military Station.
The Swarnim Vijay Mashaal had arrived at Udhampur on 13 Jun 2021 from Nagrota & was received with full ceremonial honours. The Victory Flame was then escorted to the local unit quarter guard. After the customary ‘Last mile run’ the Victory Flame was handed over to the Station Commander, Udhampur Military Garrison who placed the Victory Flame at Dhruva War Memorial. Wreath laying was thereafter carried out by JCOs / OR and Veterans followed by Wreath Laying by the Army Commander, Northern Command. On culmination of the Wreath Laying Ceremony the Swarnim Vijay Mashaal was further handed over to Counter Insurgency Force (Delta) where it will be taken to various units to commemorate the unforgettable victory of 1971.
The year 2021 has been named as “Swarnim Vijay Varsh”, by the government of India and the Nation started the celebrations of the 50 years of Indo-Pak War which had resulted in the largest military surrender after World War-II. The inaugural event was held at the National War Memorial (NWM) in New Delhi on 16 Dec 2020 where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff and Tri-Services Chiefs laid wreath and paid homage to the fallen soldiers. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi lit the ‘Swarnim Vijay Mashaal’ from the eternal flame of NWM on the occasion. Four Victory Mashaals (flames) lit from the Eternal Flame of NWM were then carried to various parts of the country including to villages of Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra Awardees of 1971 War. Soil from the villages of these Awardees and from areas where major battles were fought in 1971 are being brought to the NWM.
NORTHERN COMMAND’S ASSISTANCE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID PANDEMIC
Station Commander, Udhampur Military Station handed over a large number of Oxygen concentrators, PPE kits, masks, steam inhalers and other Covid related material to Mrs Indu Kanwal Chib, District Commissioner, Udhampur, on behalf of Northern Command as part of proactive assistance to civil administration. Since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, Northern Command has been pro-actively providing all possible assistance to the civil administration and citizens in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh in their fight against the pandemic. As India deals with the second wave of COVID pandemic, there has been an ever increasing demand of COVID related items to save valuable human life.
Keeping in view the present situation, Northern Command has taken concrete steps towards establishing Special Covid Care Centers, sensitizing the Awam on precautions, provisioning dedicated COVID care to Ex-servicemen and Veer Naris and collaborating with the civil administration on a host of other measures. The aim of today’s initiative was to augment the resources of the local administration with regard to COVID care of the poor and needy. This noble gesture will boost the efforts of the civil administration towards adopting the preventive measures in the area thereby restricting the infection load to the minimum. Northern Command always strives to support the people in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh in protecting their lives and responding to humanitarian causes directly or through the civil administration in a centralised as well as decentralized manner.
90 SOLDIERS JOIN LADAKH SCOUTS REGIMENT
An Attestation Parade was held at The LADAKH SCOUTS Regimental Centre, Leh to mark the entry of 90 well trained recruits into the LADAKH SCOUTS Regiment as Young Soldiers. The impressive ceremony, conducted in consonance with the highest traditions of the Indian Army, was reviewed by Major General Akash Kaushik, Chief Of Staff, Fire and Fury Corps.
The Young Soldiers, hailing from all regions of Ladakh, took the oath to serve the Nation. The Reviewing Officer congratulated them for the impressive parade and urged them to devote their life in service to the nation as proud soldiers of the Indian Army. He also complimented the parents of the Young Soldiers on having motivated their wards to join the Indian Army and exhorted the young Soldiers to continue to strive hard in pursuit of excellence and uphold the name of battle tested ‘LADAKH SCOUTS’ and their military traditions. The young Riflemen were awarded medals for their outstanding performance during training. It was indeed a proud moment for the recruits who hail from far flung areas to join the LADAKH SCOUTS Regiment as young soldiers.
BIG DAY: BORN TO BATTLE COURSE CELEBRATES GOLDEN JUBILEE
Fifty years ago, 349 gentlemen cadets, 307 from the 47th Regular and 42 from 31st Technical Course of the 47th Regular and 31st Technical Course passed out of the portals of the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, to be commissioned as Second Lieutenants in various branches of the Indian Army. That was a momentous period in the history of India. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had declared independence of the Eastern wing of Pakistan. The Pakistani army had declared war on its own citizens and let loose a reign of terror, loot, rape, and murder. Refugees poured into India in millions, and it was clear that, willy-nilly, India was going to be drawn into the conflict. The question was no longer if, but when.
Within 6 months of commissioning, before most could undergo even the basic Young Officers Course, in the ultimate call of duty, they were inducted into battle to participate in the 1971 war against Pakistan. The Course was baptized by fire in the truest sense of the term and for this reason the 47th Regular and 31st Technical Course has been dubbed as the “Born to Battle” course. Officers of the course lived up to the expectations of their alma mater and did the country proud. Five officers were martyred during the operations.
The ‘Born to Battle’ course has the unique distinction of being the only course to have been awarded the highest awards for gallantry both in war and peace, the Param Vir Chakra (PVC) and the Ashok Chakra (AC) to 2/Lt Arun Khetarpal and Col NJC Nair respectively. A brief description of the actions of the two gallant officers is given. 2/Lt Arun Khetarpal, PVC. On commissioning, 2/Lt Arun Khetarpal joined his Regiment, 17 Poona Horse in the midst of the Indo-Pak War. On 16 Dec 1971, in the process of establishing a bridge head, he came across heavy anti-tank fire. However, he not only destroyed the interfering Pakistani position, but in the tank battle that followed, he personally destroyed four enemy tanks. He embraced death by denying the enemy their intended breakthrough. For this act of exceptional bravery going well beyond the call of duty, he was posthumously awarded the nation’s highest war-time gallantry award, the PVC.
Col NJC Nair AC, KC. Col NJC Nair, KC was commanding the 16 Maratha LI which had been deployed for mobile counter insurgency operations in Northern and Central Nagaland. On 20 Dec 1993, while leading the advance party on the Mokokchung-Mariani Road, he and his men were ambushed by insurgents. A JCO and 13 Jawans were killed in the firing and Nair was seriously injured. However, caring little for his personal safety, he crawled across the road and killed an insurgent. Shaken by such raw courage, the insurgents’ broke ranks and fled. Nair later succumbed to his injuries. For this act of exceptional bravery going well beyond the call of duty, he was posthumously awarded the nation’s highest peace-time gallantry award, the Ashok Chakra.
In addition, officers have also been awarded 3 Shaurya Chakras and 4 Sena Medals for gallantry apart from a host of other decorations. Throughout service, the Course performed consistently well with 77 officers attaining flag rank, with 10 in the three-star category. Apart from distinguishing themselves in the battlefield and in the senior ranks, officers of Born to Battle course have also excelled in the field of sports, mountaineering, sailing, entrepreneurship, and aviation. Of special mention are Capts PS Bedi and NS Grewal in sailing, Capt Jai Bahuguna who lost his life while attempting to climb Mount Everest, Capt Gopinath and Col Samuel who pioneered affordable helicopter and aviation services in India.
A wreath laying ceremony was conducted on Sunday to pay homage to the memory of the seven departed comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of fire. Over the years, the Course has also lost a number of brothers to other causes, some as recently as during the current pandemic. To honour their memory, Lieutenant General Deepak Raj (Retd) will be laying a wreath on behalf of the entire Course and the families.
MOD APPROVES RS 498.8 CRORE BUDGETARY SUPPORT FOR DEFENCE INNOVATION THROUGH IDEX-DIO
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved the budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore to Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) – Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) for the next five years. The budgetary support will provide a big boost to the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as iDEX–DIO has the primary objective of self-reliance and indigenisation in defence & aerospace sector of the country. The creation of the iDEX framework and establishment of the DIO by the Department of Defence Production (DDP) is aimed at creating an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia and provide them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D development which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.
The scheme, with budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore for the next five years, is aimed at providing financial support to nearly 300 start-ups/MSMEs/individual innovators and 20 partner incubators under the DIO framework. It will support increased awareness in the Indian innovation ecosystem about defence needs and, conversely, in the Indian Defence establishment about the potential of the Indian innovation eco-system to deliver innovative solutions to meet their needs. The DIO, with its team, will enable the creation of channels for innovators to engage and interact with the Indian Defence production industry. The long-term effect to be realised by the group is the establishment of a culture, where enlisting the effort of innovators by the Indian military is commonplace and frequent. The scheme aims to facilitate rapid development of new, indigenised and innovative technologies for the Indian defence and aerospace sector to meet their needs in shorter timelines; create a culture of engagement with innovative start-ups to encourage co-creation for defence and aerospace; empower a culture of technology co-creation and co-innovation within the defence and aerospace sector and boost innovation among the start-ups and encourage them to be a part of the ecosystem.
The DDP will release funds to DIO for setting up and managing the iDEX network in the form of Partner Incubators (PIs); communicating with innovators/start-ups/technology centres of MSMEs through the PIs including the PIs of Department of Science and Technology regarding defence and aerospace needs; organising various challenges/hackathons to shortlist potential technologies and entities and evaluating technologies and products developed by innovators/start-ups in terms of their utility and impact on the defence and aerospace setup. The other activities include enabling and funding pilots using innovation funds dedicated to the purpose; interfacing with the Armed Forces top brass about key innovative technologies and encouraging their adoption into the defence establishment with suitable assistance; facilitating scale-up, indigenisation and integration in manufacturing facilities for successfully piloted technologies and organising outreach activities all across the country.
PASSING OUT PARADE OF TES-37 COURSE HELD AT COLLEGE OF MILITARY ENGINEERING
The passing out parade of the cadets of the Technical Entry Scheme—37 Course at the Cadets Training Wing, College of Military Engineering (CME) at Pune—was held on Saturday. The parade was reviewed by Lt Gen PP Malhotra, Commandant CME. Thirty-three Gentlemen Cadets of the Course, including three gentlemen cadets from Bhutan and two from Sri Lanka, were commissioned as officers.
Though parents of the passing out course could not attend the ceremony owing to COVID related restrictions, the parade was streamed live on YouTube. Lt Gen PP Malhotra, presented several awards to Gentlemen Cadets for excellence in training. The parade conducted with traditional military regalia, was commanded by Wing Cadet Captain Abhishek Chauhan. The coveted General Officer Commanding in Chief Army Training Command Gold Medal for standing first in overall performance in three years at CTW was awarded to Wing Cadet Adjutant Sahil Kumar. The Silver and Bronze Medal was awarded to Gentlemen Cadet Sonam Tshering from the Royal Bhutan Army and Wing Cadet Quarter Master Prince Kumar Singh respectively. Cadets of the Wing also had the distinction of being awarded the Commandant Officers Training Academy Silver medal to Wing Cadet Captain Abhishek Singh Chauhan and the Bronze Medal to Wing Cadet Adjutant Sahil Kumar for their meritorious performance in the combined four years of training, including one year at the Officers Training Academy, Gaya. Echo Platoon was awarded the General Officer Commanding in Chief’s Banner for performing exceedingly well in the Inter Platoon Competitions and emerging as the Champion Platoon.
Addressing the parade, the General Officer congratulated the Gentlemen Cadets for their superlative performance in the training period at the wing and their immaculate parade. Lt General PP Malhotra, highlighted that the cadets were at the cusp of a new beginning as young military leaders, and on their broad shoulders lay the future of our gallant Army. He urged the future officers to make their nation and the Alma Mater proud by rendering selfless and honourable service. He also stressed on imbibing strong moral values and ethics. The passing out parade was followed by a Commissioning and an oath taking ceremony for the newly commissioned officers.
College of Military Engineering has emerged as the finest technical institutions in the Indian Army. Recent forays of the College into Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Engineering Materials have been lauded by all. The college has entered into MoU with academic and industrial majors to absorb best engineering practices and infuse a culture of innovation in the Indian Army. Several projects from the College have been displayed and awarded in forums such as the iDEX4Fauji and the Army Day Parade, this year.
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