India has come a long way especially in space and missile technology it can be compared amongst the leaders. Our strategic capability despite the 1998 sanctions following the Pokhran tests speaks for themselves. DRDO does have major limitations in development of aircraft, tanks, and weapon systems especially for the infantry and armoured.
Since Chinese intrusion in May 2020, India has tested a number of weapons and defence systems. These tests range from missiles to hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HTDV). Most of these tests have been successful. Coming in a concentrated manner during an ongoing border spat with China raises an obvious question whether these tests were pre-planned or they have been orchestrated in response to the current India-China face-off.
Given the manner in which the tests have been conducted, it is obvious that they have been done as a response to the faceoff. Therefore, the next obvious question is: What purpose are they serving? Question assumes importance because it is common knowledge that the period between testing and operationalisation of a weapon system takes considerable time. In fact some systems have been inordinately delayed; for example the Trishul, Akash and Nag, the Arjun tank, Nishant UAV have taken so long to develop that they are now obsolete. This aspect is a common knowledge and it is highly unlikely that China will be unduly concerned by these tests. But to assume that the current phase of testing various types of missiles is mere optics meant to demonstrate the Government of India’s intent to counter the Chinese threat may also not be true. A subterranean analysis is needed to decipher the gains that these tests will provide to India’s defence preparedness. The recent statement of DRDO chief G. Satheesh Reddy that “India has achieved selfreliance in the field of missile systems and can produce whatever is required by the armed forces within the country itself” would have been based on a realistic appraisal of DRDO’s capability and not merely an emotional response post these tests.
SYSTEMS TESTED IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS
11 tests of various types of missile systems were conducted successfully by DRDO. Only testing of Nirbhay subsonic missile having a range of 1000 km conducted on 12 October, 20 developed a snag and had to be aborted. Some of the important defence systems tested in the recent past are discussed below.
1) Test of SMART system
India successfully tested indigenously developed “game changer” SMART (Supersonic Missile Assisted Release Torpedo) torpedo system on 5 October 2020 for the first time. SMART is a missile assisted release of lightweight antisubmarine torpedo systems for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations far beyond the torpedo range. This launch and demonstration is significant in establishing anti-submarine warfare capabilities of India. However, the point to be noted is that this was the first test and many subsystems of the missile are yet to be tested. It will take considerable time to operationalise the missile.
2) Testing of 400-km BrahMos
. Testing of India successfully test-fired on 30 September 2020, over 400- km strike range Brahmos supersonic cruise missile. The surface-to-surface cruise missile, featuring indigenous booster and airframe section along with other Made in India subsystems, blasted off from the launching complexIII of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) near here, a defence statement said.
3) Test Firing of Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle
India on 8 September 2020, successfully tested Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle putting India in a select group of nations. This small club includes the US, Russia and China. After the AntiSatellite Test conducted last year, this is the biggest achievement by DRDO in terms of proving new technology. It is a dual use technology. It can also be configured to deliver nuclear warheads as well. While the USA has refrained from its operationalisation, Russia and China plan to use it for nuclear weapon delivery also. In the civil arena, it can be used to launch small satellites at cheaper cost. India has just done a technology demonstration.
4) Test Firing of Shaurya Missile Test
Firing of Shaurya Missile. India successfully test-fired a new version of nuclear-capable Shaurya Missile on 4 October 2020. The new missile would be inducted in the strategic forces to complement one of the existing missiles in the same class. DRDO claims it to be amongst the top 10 missiles in the world. Shaurya missiles have a very small profile. It is truck portable and can be launched from either from a single truck or a silo. Hence, it can be located anywhere. Moreover as per DRDO it cannot be detected by satellite imaging, the sources said. Given its short range, portability, difficulty of detection and nuclear capability it is an ideal tactical missile it would be an ideal deterrence weapon in the super high altitude terrain of Tibet. Strategic Forces Command it is believed is in the process of operationalising it in the Ladakh region shortly.
5) Test of Laser Guided Anti-Tank Missile
Test of Laser Guided Antitank Missile. On 23 September 2020, DRDO successfully test fired laser-guided anti-tank guided missile. The laser-guided anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) is supposed to enhance the firepower capability of the Indian Army particularly along the frontiers with Pakistan and China. There is a long felt need by the Indian Army for an indigenous ATGM and the success of this venture has been eluding the DRDO since long.
6) Test Firing of Dhruvastra
Test Firing of Dhruvastra. India’s indigenously developed anti-tank guided missile ‘Dhruvastra’ was test-was fired on 23 July 2020. India has successfully conducted three flight tests of its indigenously developed anti-tank guided missile ‘Dhruvastra’ from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha.
7) Test Firing of Prithvi-II Test
Firing of Prithvi-II. Indigenously developed Prithvi-II missile was test fired on 24 September 2020. The trial of the missile, which has a strike range of 350 km, was carried out from a mobile launcher from ITR complex. This missile is already operational. It was a user trial test. Under the garb of testing, besides validating technical parameters, it provided the much needed practice to the users to deploy and fire this weapon if called upon into battle. It should go to the credit of SFC and the DRDO to utilize the flurry of tests to enhance the defence preparedness of the users.
8) Test Firing of ASAT
Last year in March, India test-fired an A-SAT missile under ‘Mission Shakti’. The Successful testing has demonstrated its anti-satellite technology.
9) Test Firing of Rudram Missile
In continuation of testing various missiles, India successfully test-fired Rudram 1, its first anti-radiation missile designed to take down enemy radars on 9 October 2020. The antiradiation missile can be launched from Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets. The missile has a launch speed of up to 2 Mach, twice the speed of sound. This will enhance our air combat power manifold and it is hoped that the DRDO will operationalize this capability at the earliest.
Analysis of the testing Game
Limited Value: While India’s operational capabilities do not get a boost by such tests in the short term, it does convey a strategic message of India’s increasing technical capabilities and the resolve to deal with our adversary. Having said that, on the flip side we must not get complacent by these tests and continue to be realistic on their impact on the enemy. In fact, some experts say that “the surge of tests by the DRDO is welcome; however, ability to deploy these systems needs greater emphasis and visibility.” If the aim of these tests is signalling to the domestic audience it may have served the purpose, but experts are unlikely to be impressed. Historically too, if we take the record of the journey from final testing to operationalisation of a weapon system, it varies from 8 to 10 years. For example, Prithvi 1 was tested in 1988 and finally it came into service in 1994. Similar story exists for most of the systems under development by DRDO. The technology demonstrator to operationalisation is a journey by itself and incurs considerable financial commitment besides technical, human expertise and financial challenges of commercialization and finally operationalisation.
Enhanced Technical Prowess: Above limitations notwithstanding, the missile journey of India is a success story, comparable to any leading military power in the world. On the positive side, a number of advantages these weapon tests bring to the table. Weapon tests do add up to a country’s technological capabilities.
Hard Power Image:
Conducting the weapon tests in a concentrated manner during an ongoing face off conveys an image of strong hard power orientation and resolve of the nation to its adversary. China though not worried by these tests would be cautious while responding to us especially since most of our existing systems provide dual capability of conventional and unconventional employment. Encourage Defence Exports:
Successful testing of new defence weapon systems generate acceptability of India’s capability to produce quality weapon systems that too at much lesser cost. This will facilitate export of defence systems by India. It is therefore not surprising that in the past few years our export of defence systems have increased by 700 percent in the last three years. India is now exporting defence weapons and equipment to 42 countries, which includes the likes of US, Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, South Africa, and Sweden, Azerbaijan, Seychelles, Estonia, Indonesia, Guinea and the Philippines. India’s exports in 2014 stood at meager Rs 2,000 crore, which in 2019 stood at Rs 17,000 crore and India intends to increase it by $5 billion (about Rs 35,000 crore) in the next 5 years. Improved technological threshold will encourage our neighbouring countries to go in for imports from India. Countering Chinese Influence on our Neighbours:
Increased acceptability of defence equipment due to display of high end technology demonstration will also help in weaning our neighbours away from Chinese influence. For example the decision to provide a Kilo Class Submarine, Tanks, artillery guns, ammunition for T-72 tanks, radars, sonars and 500 bullet proof jackets to Myanmar’s military may have been influenced by India’s increasing technological capabilities. A similar help to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will go a long way in countering the Chinese influence in our backyard.
Enhanced Defence Preparedness:
Increased testing leads to induction of indigenous equipment in the long – run at lower costs. Also, some of the equipment tested are on the verge of being inducted into the service such as the Shaurya missile system. There are reports that Strategic Forces Command (SFC) has begun looking for deployment of the weapon system in Ladakh. Further, these tests also help in providing the much needed user practice and revalidation of existing stockpile of our systems. Conduct of the 350 km range Prithivi 2 from the existing stockpile is a case in point. Deployment of Shaurya missile, world’s top 10 missile and ability to practice and validate existing strategic weapons does give us a better response capability against our arch rival China.
India has come a long way especially in space and missile technology it can be compared amongst the leaders. Our strategic capability despite the 1998 sanctions following the Pokhran tests speaks for themselves. DRDO does have major limitations in development of aircraft, tanks, and weapon systems especially for the infantry and armoured. But it makes it up with the Integrated Missile Development programme and the Space programme. Fortunately these are systems of the future and when coupled with its niche technology development programme in robotics, artificial intelligence, ship building and UAVs we expect India to rapidly move in the direction of self-reliance especially if the private defence sector is boosted appropriately. The new DAP 2020 with an option for leasing of defence systems is a good provision to tide over our short term needs at relatively lower costs till we achieve greater selfreliance and increase our exports as rightly aimed by the present government. It would not be out of sync to mention that India is on the path of projecting itself as a significant power in the region and the testing of new defence systems is a right step in that direction.
Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd) has served in varied terrains and theatre of operations, in India and in the UN as Military Observer. He has commanded an Infantry Battalion, Brigade and a Division in Jammu and Kashmir. He is currently Professor Emeritus Defence Studies at Gujarat Raksha Shakti University.
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Indian Coast Guard apprehends Sri Lankan boat with heroin and weapon
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.
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.
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.
DEEPENING RELATIONS: AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER CALLS ON WESTERN NAVAL COMMAND CHIEF
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.
INDIA TEST-FIRES LAND-ATTACK VERSION OF BRAHMOS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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