Already, it has been publicly announced that the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme is being abandoned, and from now on, ?foreign collaboration? will be the norm. This means that Agni-III is the final stage of the IGMDP, rather than the start of a stage that would expand the range of India'smissiles to 9500 kilometres.
Because of the entry of rogue players into the national security matrix, India needs to develop the capability to eliminate a threat from any part of the world, for example a ship carrying nuclear material destined for illegal landing in India, that may be steaming forward in the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean. To expect another country to help would be as ill-advised a blunder as Jawaharlal Nehru'sfollowing the advice of Edwina Mountbatten to allow her husband to continue beyond August 15, 1947, so that control over the Indian armed forces could continue in a way that blocked the recovery of much of Kashmir from Jinnah'smen.
After having welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama into India in 1959, it ought to have become clear to Jawaharlal Nehru that Mao Zedong would exact revenge, and this he did in 1962, after having first sent Zhou Enlai to New Delhi several times to suggest that the status quo as existing then be made permanent. Neither was this offer accepted, or defence preparedness enhanced to the level needed to block a Chinese advance. Assets such as the Air Force were kept idle, while troops were ill-equipped and poorly-led by a close relative of Nehru. Finally, guns spoke
Even to the most paranoid of Chinese analysts, it would have been clear that Jawaharlal Nehru was being his blustery, ?bluff-master? self when issuing verbal threats of military action during 1962. The pathetic pickets sent to forward positions were never a serious threat to the Chinese, especially in the context of the complete surrender of all Indian rights in Tibet earlier. Yet a massive invasion took place, although Chinese troops withdrew after having comprehensively defeating the Indian forces mustered against them, into the same positions that had been suggested by Zhou Enlai earlier but rejected by Nehru. Interestingly, since Rajiv Gandhi'simportant overture to China in 1988, it is the Indian side that is asking a reluctant Beijing to honour the Zhou Enlai proposals. Because of their economic power, the Chinese Communists now believe that they can take over additional Indian territory by threat or force, the way the generals in Pakistan sought to shift the Line of Control in the Kargil sector in 1999. The fact that China has consistently refused a boundary settlement based on its own 1961 proposals is indicative of an essentially hostile mindset against India.
It is in this context that the (successful) efforts of the US and the EU to degrade India'sbomb and missile capability is as dangerous to the future as Nehru and then Finance Minister Morarji Desai denying the armed forces funds sufficient to hold back the Peoples Liberaltion Army during the period before the 1962 conflict.
Under prodding from Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh (whose parsimony as Finance Minister during 1992-96 to India'sarmed forces and strategic programmes is on record) has become Jawaharlal Nehru Mark II. A leader who substitutes words for action.
Unlike the Indian leadership, those in authority in China are willing and able to use a completely disproportionate response to Indian actions, such as the invasion of Indian territory in 1962 because of rage at the giving of asylum to the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan refugees. In 1996, this writer had argued that two factors would result in an assertive?indeed aggressive?Chinese policy within the next five years. This is because of the sociological phenomenon of several Chinese leaders coming from (a) families with a single male child and (b) those who came of age during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. Single children who are male tend to be spoiled and wilful, and those blooded in the Cultural Revolution have ingrained within them a contempt for rules and procedure, that predisposes them to take actions that lack any normative restraints. It is precisely this cohort that is today in full command of the vast apparatus of the Chinese Communist Party, and India needs to know that there is no limit to what they would be willing to do in order to defend perceived Chinese interests. The arming of Pakistan and North Korea with nuclear devices and missiles is a case in point, as these steps were taken entirely in order to box in Japan and India, the only two Asian countries that can rival China.
Astonishingly, the US and the EU have just stood by and wrung their collective hands while China has helped a slew of countries with nuclear and missile technology. The Bush administration has been as protective of the Pakistan generals as the Clinton team was, when it blocked India from revealing details of an intercepted North Korean vessel carrying missile components for their Pakistani clients. It was the darling of the US and the EU, Benazir Bhutto, who transferred (Chinese) nuclear bomb capability to North Korea in exchange for (Chinese-supplied) missile capability in return. In exchange, Bhutto helped US officials such as Robin Raphel set up the Taliban during 1994-99.
Why the US is putting at grave risk its own security by ignoring the threat from Pakistan and China is unknown, although in the first case, the influence of the Pakistan-loving Saudi royals may be a factor, while in the second, it may be the immense US corporate vested interest in the policy of support to Communist China. In such a situation, India needs to understand that we are alone, as isolated as Britain was in 1940.
Apart from factors rooted in their early lives, those in power in China have made ?Han Assertion? the core of their idelogy and appeal. Today, the Chinese Communist Party is in effect promising to revive the period when this great civilisation was the Middle Kingdom, the most developed country in the world.
Should economic growth slow in China, as seems possible given the belated realisation in the US and even in Europe of the risks to themselves of a Superpower Communist China, there is a strong likelihood of Han nationalism being ignited in order to counteract the negative effects of an economic downturn in the support that the people of China give to their regime. In the case of India, blatant insults such as the denial of visas to those from Arunachal Pradesh are indicative of a mindset that sees India as a rival, but seeks to cover up the belligerence with honeyed language. So long as China refuses to settle the border dispute on the lines of the 1961 Zhou Enlai formula and end missile and nuclear assistance to countries on India'speriphery, New Delhi cannot but regard with caution this economic and strategic giant. Sadly, because the UPA has a special relationship with those in power in China, this country has allowed its guard to get lowered, exactly the way it did in 1959-62.
The US policy is of enfeebling India. Even today, the US authorities refuse to allow any satellite to get launched from India that has even a single US-made component. The much-hyped ?space cooperation? has remained a dead letter, with the same teams coming into India that were active in the 1990s in seeking to defang Russia of its strategic capability. Some day, Washington will understand that only a strong India can ensure a balance of power in Asia, but until that day of wisdom dawns, this country must face up to the consequences of the vicious policies of technology denial and strategic limitation that the US, China and the EU have been following towards India.
Why does the Manmohan Singh government refuse to allow the Indian private sector, and indeed the DRDO, into the field of defence procurement? Under Sonia Gandhi, this country has been bled to financial ruin by a host of orders for defence supplies that could easily have been developed within the country. Whether it is the Gorshkov (a hugely expensive ship with limited value in an actual conflict) or the innumerable items routinely procured from selected foreign entities, the victim is national defence. These days, those looking after procurement simply copy data from booklets of particular systems, in order to ensure that the specifications are such that only a single supplier can be given the contract. Thus far, there is no sign that Indian companies will be allowed into the field of defence supplies. However, unless all available domestic resources?private and public?get utilised, this country will be saddled with systems that are twice the cost of equivalent ones made in China.
Next, what needs to be done is to set up an integrated Chief of Defence Staff, who will coordinate the three services in a way that equips them to fight a war. Today, the disjointed system of command makes the smooth networking and coordination needed in a crisis almost impossible. Those within the armed forces need to be inducted into the National Security mechanism, as well as in the Defence Ministry, the way they are in the US and Japan. Under the UPA, an alarming gap is opening up in our defence capability, and unless swift remedial action is taken, another 1962 or 1965 may well end in a disaster that sets the country back by decades.