Monday, September 17, 2012

India’s Internal and External Security: Areas that call for greater national attention

India’s Internal and External Security: Areas that call for greater national attention 4 July 2012 AJIT DOVAL, KC (Director, Vivekananda International Foundation and Former Director Intelligence Bureau) As India enters the global arena as a power of the future, its external and internal environment is in a state of flux. While it presents a plethora of challenges it also offers opportunities that can be exploited to its advantage. This would, however, entail exercising difficult policy options, its execution with unmitigated resolve and political leadership that can restore the fast eroding national will. While this holds good for the entire spectrum of our national life, where high degree of cynicism has crept in, it has critical import for the national security. For India, the external security environment is undergoing a paradigm shift. The accrual of Chinese potentially destabilizing military and economic power, proliferation of cyber, space, missile and nuclear threats in India’s neighbourhood, the US drawdown from Afghanistan in 2014, maritime rivalries in Indian Ocean, global economic meltdown and its security implications are few such realities. The uncertain future of Pakistan as a consequence of its political, economic, ethnic and sectarian conflicts, increasing radicalization of society, amassing nuclear weapons and missiles at the ‘fastest rate in the world’ are of serious concern to India. Simultaneously, the widening contours of International Terrorism, threats posed by Left Wing Extremism, insurgency in the North-East, social conflicts on communal and caste lines catalyzed by vote bank politics, and a volatile polity compound and vitiate the Indian internal security landscape. Misgovernance has also resulted in alienating large sections of civil society, raising questions about not merely the capacities but the intentions of the government. Starting from the top, corruption has become all pervasive with the sharp erosion of governmental institutions. On most vital security issues affecting India there is a lack of concrete policy formulation, high level policy direction and clarity on strategic issues. The civilisational substance of Indian nationhood, that provides raison d’être to its identity, is under an incessant onslaught by those very forces that ought to strengthen its roots and broadened its scope. The aim of this paper is to outline some pressing issues deserving focused attention on national security, without delving too deep into every aspect of security. Internal Security Internal security is viewed as the most vulnerable aspect of India’s national security and there is total unanimity among scholars on this count. Its import is borne out by the country’s long historical experience and if the current window of opportunity of emerging as an important power centre is missed, much of the blame will be a result of internal mismanagement and sloppy governance. On this very subject, the Kargil Committee Report (2000) and Report of the Group of Ministers on National Security (2001) had both underlined the criticality of internal security issues and recommended a sharp increase in national capacities on this aspect. In the conventional sense, threats whose causes, instrumentalities, resources and consequences are of domestic origin, are categorized as internal security threats. This no longer holds true in the changed security setting. Today, wars are increasingly becoming cost ineffective means of achieving political and strategic objectives, giving rise to a new genre of externally primed internal security threats. Threats which emanate from strategic calculations, detailed planning, motivation, finances and, quite often, human resources, conform to external origins. It is the consequence of these externally motivated acts that are translated into the domestic front into gruesome violence wrecking devastation. When target states appear vulnerable and incapable of retaliation to the enemy, even asymmetrically weak powers find opportunities and space to breach the security on domestic fault lines for strikes. This renders the task of providing preventive and protective security extremely difficult. The victim state has scarce opportunity to ensnare the real perpetrators, capability to degrade their capacities or even make them accountable to domestic laws. There is thus a clear operational disconnect between the available knowledge and information about hostile external forces, and the response options that can be exercised. India finds itself thick in this cauldron with the government unable and unwilling to act, and in denial mode in admittance of the existence of such a problem. It has neither been able to deter Pakistan by increasing the costs of such misadventures nor create sufficient diplomatic and political pressure to dissuade them. Meanwhile, Pakistan which harbors a compulsive hostility towards India and lacks capabilities to achieve its politico-strategic objectives through military or political means continues to engage in covert actions as an instrument of state policy to bleed India. The weak Indian response over the years has only emboldened and increased their hostility. The Pakistani strategy in covert actions is manifested in sabotage, subversion, espionage and Jehadi terrorism. This multipronged strategy of Intelligence encirclement through the Middle East, Nepal and other regions, using collaborative networks of crime syndicates, drug traffickers, currency counterfeiters, smugglers and targeting Indian Muslims in creating disaffection, has gone un-responded by India. Jehadi Terrorism The dangers that spring from the rise in Jehadi Wahabism and India being its prime target, is a serious security and ideological threat given the ground realities that (i) the Af-Pak region is the global epicenter of Jehadi terrorism, (ii) Pakistan consider terrorist groups to be ‘Strategic assets’ in their security calculus, (iii) India has over 3,000 kms long porous land border with Pakistan, and (iv) Indian Muslims have become the targets of ISI for subversive activities. Pakistani state-sponsored terrorism has cost India not just the loss of 1 lakh precious lives, but diversion of substantive resources in the last three decades. Strengthening of radical forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh have implications for India, particularly in the wake of concerted efforts by ISI to export Jehadi culture to India. There is no effort to offset the superimposition of this exported variant of Islam at the ideological, political and physical levels, despite appeals by senior and responsible Indian Muslim religious leaders to stem the impeding danger. It is creditable that Indian Muslims have so far desisted from this ideological onslaught. However, the overpowering Pakistani intelligence offensive, the domestic internal political environment, an irresponsible section of the media and the power of money are forces incessantly at play to undermine India’s security. Proliferation of the Wahabi/Salafi variant of Islam deriving financial and ideological support from Arab states has compounded the problem. With no laws in place it remains outside the purview of the law of the land and ideologically unchallenged as most Muslim Tanzims are afraid of taking them head on. The mushrooming of Salafi Madrasas and institutions, propagating hate, violence and exclusiveness, is significant in terms of long term security implications and its sinister nature. The massive financing by some Gulf-based Islamic outfits has enabled and empowered them to undermine the indigenous form of Indian Islam. Undeniably, an imaginative policy initiative and firm executive actions are crucial to counter this onslaught. It is noteworthy that in the last decade, besides J&K, over 2,500 Muslim youth from different parts of India have been trained and re-infiltrated by the ISI for subversive activities. Hundreds of Pakistani ISI modules operating in India’s hinterland have been unearthed, while many more continue to function with impunity. Additionally, large numbers of Pakistani youth trained by the ISI and disguised as Indian citizens, have been located in strategic positions and constitute sleeper cells, forming part of the ISI’s intricate network of covert apparatus. The ISI has also established anti-India espionage, subversive and saboteur networks in areas like Nepal, Bangladesh, and Middle East. This Intelligence encirclement of India facilitates the Pakistani strategy of a multi-pronged covert offensive. Collaborative networks with the underworld, gun runners, drug syndicates, currency counterfeiters, hawala operators, border smugglers etc. are being co-opted to enhance the ISI’s covert reach. The conventional Indian response is increasingly proving to be inadequate in the face of global reach, money power, political linkages, access to modern technology and ability to take advantage of India’s soft governance by the terrorist groups. Illegal Immigrants The demographic invasion from Bangladesh is a matter that has been deliberately neglected on political considerations. Over the years, it has assumed a serious security dimension. In many of the bordering districts it has brought about a total demographic transformation, forcing the original inhabitants to abandon their homes. Instead of abating, the past few years have witnessed an unprecedented increase in the inflow – with the new migrants becoming more emboldened and aggressive; considering their illegal immigration to be a matter of right. At the ground level, there are cases where vigil at the border has been scaled down several notches under pressure from Bangladesh government. The illegal immigrants, who now exceed 20 million, are no longer confined to the bordering states of Assam, West Bengal, and Meghalaya but now inhabit the rest of India as well; registering a sizeable presence in 16 states. They have been able to acquire identity documents- including electoral cards- with local political patronage, who consider these immigrants as captive vote banks. The earlier emigrees and local Muslims often facilitate their settlement and help them in procuring ration cards, identity documents, jobs and political support. In accordance with the new rules formed under the Foreigners Act, immediately after the IMDT Act was repealed by the Supreme Court in 2005 (with serious strictures against the Government of India), illegal migration has increased substantially. This measure has left the law enforcement agencies on the back-foot and there is scarce police action against the illegal migrants. This large diaspora not merely affects the demographic patterns but also puts strain on economic opportunities and civic amenities available to local people. The illegal habitations offer safe havens and shelter to the terrorists and fundamentalists entering India through Bangladesh. In North-East, the Islamic militant groups linked to extremist organizations within Bangladesh like Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami, Harkat-ul-Ansar, Islami Oikya Jote, Jammat-e-Islami Bangladesh, have formed over a dozen militant outfits with a separatist Islamic agenda. Startling revelations made by the terrorist, Kari Salim and his associates, on their arrest were tabled before the State Assembly by the Assam Chief Minister. The alleged subversion of the youth, receiving training in Pakistan and stocking of weapons, among others, poses considerable security risks to India. The mentors of these groups in Pakistan and Bangladesh on tactical grounds have been advising the local groups not to strike until fully prepared and equipped, and the political environment was ripe for action. Meanwhile, the process of political consolidation on communal lines is ensuing, and the callous indifference of the state apparatus to this impending threat presents a grievous danger. These trends afflicting India’s internal security may not have immediate impact but have serious long term implications. Unfortunately, this threat does not constitute part of any serious security discourse, either at the State or the Central levels. The immediate and formidable problems of Left-Wing extremism, insurgency in the North-East, social and economic conflicts will undermine Indian democratic polity and negate its growth story. Though on the radar of the central and state governments, national security agencies, media and the public for long, the nation has not been able to formulate a sustainable long-term and coordinated policy in handling these threats. It certainly necessitates planned and focused attention by the government with an emphasis on capacity building rather than on perception management. These forms of conventional threats can be addressed through the strengthening of state police forces and its intelligence units. The centre should strive to bolster the capacities of the states through intelligence support, strategic guidelines, coordination mechanism, training, equipment and financial help. The states on their part need to streamline police administration, fill the existing vacant posts, implement police reforms as mandated by the Supreme Court, and ensure political interference in law enforcement abates. Another issue deserving higher priority is the maintenance of vigil over the long and treacherous border stretching to nearly 15,000 kilometers, more than 80% of which is with those countries with whom India has security related problems. Increasing vulnerabilities of the maritime coastline, both in relation to internal and external threats compels the augmenting of vigil and intelligence penetration along our 7,000 km. long coastline. The long overdue maritime commission and Coast Guard reforms must figure high in the impending security reforms to be undertaken. The common and routine bureaucratic responses to internal security threats, like accretion of force levels, upgradation in weapons and equipments, strengthening the protective cover for targeted entities may be important, but rather inadequate. It helps reduce the threat levels to some extent and leads to target hardening, but cannot either alter the intentions or degrade the capabilities of hostile forces. It would require an integrated and imaginative long-term internal security policy with an assessment of India’s futuristic security requirements. Besides external mechanizations, the policy will have to factor in geographic size and population, long stretches of borders and coastlines, social fault lines, pressures of the youth craving for better opportunities, and alienation caused by economic depravation and disparity. There is also a need to be alive to the activities of globally networked crime syndicates, drug traffickers, currency counterfeiters, money launders and groups who create social alienation and conflicts by indulging in acts of religious conversion in tribal and poor areas through inducement, threat and propaganda. The externally-primed terrorist and other violent groups have to be dealt with an imaginative matrix including diplomacy, strengthening of internal security forces, effective domestic laws and improved intelligence. There is also a need to enhance covert intelligence capabilities to degrade the capacities of the adversaries and force them to change their intentions. Intelligence-led smart operations are like heat seeking missiles; chasing targets till the threat is destroyed. Precise and real-time intelligence is a high-potency, low cost force-multiplier and a mere handful of skilled professionals can achieve what entire brigades and battalions cannot. Therefore, it is imperative in the face of such challenges to bolster intelligence capabilities both internal and external, to effectively influence the course of events impinging on national security. External Security: The end of the Cold War catapulted the US to a position of the sole superpower but this unipolar world order seems to be heading for a short shelf life. The excessive engagement of the US with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, global economic meltdown, dwindling control of the US on Europe is denting the American influence. The concurrent rise of China, emerging as a major economic power with large investible surpluses to enhance its strategic power, has further undermined US position which it did little to prevent in last two decades. The emergence of China as a major power touted to overtake economically the US by 2020, or even before, is a major game changer. It assumes greater import in the face of Chinese acquisition of military and technological capabilities disproportionate to its legitimate security interests. China’s rise has major security implications for India as it has a long disputed border with China, fought a war that it lost leading to loss of territory and its special military relationship with Pakistan. Since India is primarily a regional power its security concerns mainly centre on its immediate and extended neighbourhood flanked by nuclear China and Pakistan. India will need to induct a calibrated policy of engagement, containment and hedging in dealing with the threats emanating from these two counties. In attempting to avoid conflict, it is also necessary for India to possess a credible deterrent which essentially entails modernization of its defence forces, autarky in defence production, a technological edge over the adversaries and a favorable political and diplomatic environment. Its sustaining a growth rate around 8% at least for next ten years, would be crucial to achieve these objectives. India maintains an edge over China in terms of a younger population, a stable democratic polity and greater international acceptability to its ascent in global polity as unthreatening. All this can be leveraged to optimum advantage only if India is able to maintain the rule of law, ensure sustainable and equitable economic growth and provide corruption-free governance; one that is responsive, delivers in real time and not mired in the bureaucratic labyrinth. The rise of China poses significant and far reaching challenges to India, notwithstanding the rhetoric of peace and good neighbourly relations. These can be discerned from three factors namely, (i) sustained militarization of the bordering Tibet region and military assertions in the border areas by China; (ii) Strategic nexus with Pakistan, particularly in the area of nuclear and missile programmes and, (iii) Increasing footprints in the Indian Ocean region, especially collaborations with the littoral states bordering India. On the issue of Chinese development of infrastructure on the Indo-Tibet border the high altitude railway line in Tibet has been operational for about five years. This railway line is supplemented by new air bases, and helps enhance the mobilization of capabilities by concentrating large bodies of troops in areas bordering India in short spans of time. A 2012 Pentagon report revealed that China has moved its new advanced longer range CSS-5 missiles close to the border with India in addition to developing contingency plans to shift airborne forces at short notice to the region. The US Department of Defense annual report also corroborates this point and notes, ‘to improve regional differences, the PLA has replaced older liquid fuelled, nuclear capable CSS-3 intermediate range missiles with more advanced and survivable fuelled CSS-5 MRBMs’. The Military Balance published in 2012 by a UK based think-tank observed that China's increased military expenditure, by 11% this year and 12.7% last year, is matched by its growing assertiveness in pressing territorial claims. On the other hand, India struggles even to fully utilize allocated funds because of corruption, bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies in procurement. The former Chief of Army Staff of India, Gen. V.K. Singh held a similar view when he cautioned that the war-waging capability of the army has been hamstrung by long delays in decision making. Apart from expressing his own concern at the recent summit, the Defence Minister of India has expressed concern over China's high and opaque defence spending which touched $106 billion this year, A suitable framework of response India has to clearly conceptualize what would constitutes a satisfactory military preparedness policy for India. In precise terms it should include: i. Capability for a full scale 90 days full spectrum war? ii. Capacity for a two-front engagement to achieve the military objective of “defeating Pakistan" and "holding China”? iii. Modernisation in weapons and equipments with a mix ratio of 30% state-of-the-art, 40% prevailing and 30% dated technologies? iv. Restore India’s conventional superiority over Pakistan? v. Minimize dependence on foreign critical defence equipment including spare parts? Currently, India’s dependence on combat related equipment is as high as 70%. vi. Optimum defence infrastructure along the Chinese border that would help ensure higher intra-theatre mobility, capacity to move to heavy weapons, troops and supplies to forward areas, facilities for troops to recuperate and acclimatize etc? vii. Building capacities to counter China’s cyber offensive. India vs. China: Comparsion of Defence Hardware Particulars India China Armed Forces 1,325,000 2,285,000 Estimated Reservists 11,155,000 5,10,000 Paramilitary 1,301,000 6,60,000 Battle Tanks 568 2,800 Attack helicopters 20 16 Submarines 15 60 Fourth-generation Tactical Aircrafts 280 747 Fighter/ground attack Aircraft 784 1,669 Inter-continental Ballistic Missile Launchers 0 66 Airborne Early-warning and control aircraft 2 14 Modern Armoured infantry Fighting Vehicles 1,105 2,390 Aircraft Carrier 1 1 Cruisers/Destroyers 10 13 Frigates 11 65 Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Military Balance, Spring 2012 Defence Production India had inherited a rudimentary defence production infrastructure from the British at the time of independence. The indigenous industrial activity was confined to the lowest spectrum of defence production comprising mainly of repair and overhaul facilities of imported weapon systems. In the post 1962 phase, India’s doctrine of self sufficiency in defence items, other than indigenous production, which practically meant having reliable foreign sources for acquisition of weapons systems, access to technologies and un-interrupted supply of spares and components. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was a major supplier of defence equipment to India and its share remains 70% till today. The USSR had agreed to supply weapons systems, including MIG-21 aircrafts as well as a licensed production arrangement which helped India usher into an era of licensed production. This arrangement, had although served India well for two decades but, after breakup of the USSR and changing profile of India’s defence requirements, no longer addressed Indian requirements adequately. A significant major policy shift was brought about in May 2001 when the Government allowed participation of private sector in defence production. Under the guidelines issued a 100% investment by private sector would be permissible in designated areas, and 26% would be through foreign direct investment. Earlier in 2010, the government’s Defence Production Policy emphasized achieving self reliance in designing, development and production of weapon systems/platforms and equipment. With the objective of achieving greater synergy in production of high-end products it encouraged the formation of consortia, joint ventures and a public-private partnership. Greater integration between technical and scientific research and production was also envisaged. However, while the policy objectives laid down were commendable, at the level of implementation not much has changed and most of the ideas remain unexecuted. The overall scale of indecisiveness, absence of high direction, gaps in planning of resources and weak executive skills of the UPA-II government have cost India in terms of defence preparedness. In a current transformed global environment, India is at an advantages with the availability of investible capital, accessibility to earlier denied dual technologies, willingness for cooperation and collaboration by defence production giants in its repertoire. India boasts of a world class defence-scientific community, at least in some advanced fields and a pool of skilled manpower with long years of experience and knowledge relating to defence industries. Politically, there is a bi-partisan consensus that India should reduce its dependability on imported weapon systems as far as possible. The changing global and regional strategic landscape, China’s aggressive posturing with heavy investments in defence, estimated to be over $132 billion a year, and fast expansion of its defence production and R&D, leave India with no option but to bring about both a qualitative and quantitative transformation in its defence production. However, infirmities ranging from political indecisions, vested interests of the corrupt, external pressures and illiteracy of the bureaucracy on security issues nullify the advantages to a considerable extent. A powerful lobby exists within India, supported by an even more powerful and cash-rich network of arms manufacturers and their frontmen, interested in stymieing indigenous defence production. Spurious arguments and distorted facts are advanced in a sustained and systematic manner to create doubts and suspicious that, at times, influences even the leadership of the armed forces. Denigrating the capabilities of Indian scientists, DRDO and DPSUs form part of this campaign. With India’s estimated expenditure of $100 billion on defence acquisitions over the next decade, they see a great commercial opportunity in the offing; provided India does not build its indigenous capacities of course! It is apparent and urgent for India to strengthen and streamline the complex regimen of defence production and research comprising of its 39 Ordnance Factories, 8 Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), 50 laboratories under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), host of research units working in ordnance factories/DPSUs and widely dispersed private sector players. Some of the bigger private sector outfits like Larsen and Toubro, Mahindra Defence Systems, Pipavav Shipyard and Tata Advanced Systems Limited have professed an enthusiasm to work with the government, and contribute thereby in augmenting India’s defence preparedness. They are also willing to upgrade their manufacturing facilities and undertake research and development work, provided they are assured of sustained orders, sharing of R&D costs and international marketing opportunities. There is also a new enthusiasm in India’s public sector enterprises to change, modernize and become quality competitive. By cutting across the barriers of public and private sectors, the Indian Defence Ministry can perhaps take a leaf from the experience of ISRO that has successfully outsourced components, hardware and sub-systems for its launch vehicles and satellites from Indian industrial units, both from the private and public sectors. Undoubtedly, a clear vision, policy convergence, expedient decision making, de-bureaucratization of defence production and technology development can raise India’s defence preparedness manifold. India can ill afford to ignore this vital area of national security any longer. Gaps in Indian defence Preparedness (A) ARMY Artillery as was proven during the Kargil conflict, is a key battle winning factor. Over a decade ago, the Indian Army had drawn up a plan to modernise 80 % of the Artillery Regiments of the Indian Army. If it had been implemented, it would have reduced the large number of diverse calibers in use with the Artillery( 75/24, 105 millimeter, 122 millimeter, 130 millimeter, 155 millimeter) and brought about standardization at 155 millimeter caliber. However, this has yet to operationalise and consequently, modernisation is irrevocably delayed. Though tenders were floated, the pace of procurement due to bureaucratic delays and systemic deficiencies has been slow and may take another 5 years for induction. The last major acquisition of guns in India were 400 items of Bofors (39 caliber 155 millimeter FH-77 B) from Sweden in 1984. Armour: The Armoured Corps still holds in its inventory some regiments of vintage tanks like T-55. There is an urgent need to induct 347xT-90s contracted for in Dec 2007.There is an even more urgent need to remove Night Blindness of the tank fleet. Only 310 of T-90 tanks have proper night vision/fire control equipment. Presently, 70% of the tank fleet is Night Blind. In this context, it is worth mentioning that during Gulf War I, the Russian T-72 tanks were well matched with the American Abram tanks in day-time combat. However, the image intensification equipment with the US tanks made the critical difference at night. It was able to read the Russian tanks of the Iraqis at ranges of over 1000 meters, whereas the Russian tanks with their infrared devices could only see up to 300 meters, which proved to be disastrous. It is significant to note that Pakistan has upgraded the night vision capabilities of its entire tank fleet. Since most future combats will occur at night, there is an indelible urgency to step up the up-gradation of the T-72 MI, Ajeya Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), by fitting new generation night sights and fire control equipment. In addition, the tank fleet is short of critical ammunition. In fact, the Army Chief in his letter to the Prime Minister dated March 12, 2012 had observed that the Army’s entire tank fleet is “devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks”. He further added that there were “large scale voids “in critical surveillance and night fighting capabilities. This is particularly critical in the mechanised forces.” Air Defence (AD) Artillery: This aspect in India’s defence preparedness faces serious problems of obsolescence with an urgency to replace the L-70 (40 millimeter AD Gun System) and Schilka (ZSU-23-4 Schilka SP), as well as Surface to Air Missiles like SAM-6 and OSA AK. Referring to the inadequacies in Air Defence, the Army Chief in his letter to the PM had stated that “97% is obsolete and it does not give the deemed confidence to protect.” Infantry: For conventional engagements, the role of infantry still remains crucial. The Indian Army immediately requires new Sten Machine Carbines, better grenades, more +Hand Held Thermal Imagers and Battle Field Surveillance Radars (BFSRS). The Army Chief in his letter of March 12, 2012 had stressed that the infantry was crippled with “deficiencies of crew served weapon” and lacks “night fighting” capabilities. Special Forces are going to play a very vital role in all future military engagements. Despite its accepted high importance, very little has been done to upgrade their capabilities. Army Aviation: Replacement of observation Helicopter fleet of Cheetas and Chetaks of outdated technologies with more modern and better equipped Helicopters is necessary especially since Pakistan has substantially improved its fleet of helicopters. Equipment of Corps of Engineers and Corps of Signals needs urgent upgradation. (B) NAVY India’s unique geostrategic location lends its extensive maritime security interests a certain amount of vulnerability. To secure its sea lanes and oceanic routes, protect its 7000 kms long coastline, and 2.3 Mn. Sq Kms. of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), it requires a very powerful Navy. The need for naval superiority has become all the more pressing due to China’s ambitious naval expansion and modernization programme apart from known plans to exert its dominance in the Indian Ocean Region. The pearl of strings in India’s maritime neighbourhood starting from Sri Lanka (Hambantota), Pakistan (Gwadar), Myanmar (Swite), Bangladesh (Chittagong) and creation of a base in Seychelles, are a clear indication of its long term intentions. The following are gaps in India’s naval capabilities that require shortfalls in our Naval capabilities requiring urgent attention. i. Indian Navy, requires 3 aircraft carriers with supporting fleets submarines and air assets. Presently, it has only one aging carrier. Induction of aircraft carrier Vikramaditya (Gorshkov) has been delayed by 4 years and may not be available before 2013. ii. The submarine arm strength is eroding due to slow pace of acquisition. The country needs minimum of 30 submarines while presently we have only 8 operational submarines. iii. An aging combat fleet of naval aviation requires urgent modernization. The country needs minimum of 45 integral fighter aircrafts, 17 long range maritime reconnaissance planes and 20 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) heavy helicopters. iv. Conventional sources of procuring naval systems and assets, over a period of time have ceased to be technologically potent, operationally effective and involve prohibitive cost of maintenance. New sources of procurement need to be identified and the diversification process should be expedited. (C) AIR FORCE: The Chinese Air Force is fast reaching qualitative parity and enjoys a major numerical advantage vis-à-vis India. By 2020, it is projected to possess 2,300 combat aircrafts as against India’s 750 combat aircrafts. The induction of Tejas – an indigenously built Low Combat Aircraft (LCA) with huge cost and time over runs (initiated in 1983) – has been inordinately delayed. In fact, the multi-role combat aircrafts (MRCAs) will take another 5 years for induction while the MIG -21, MIG 23 and MIG-27 fleets have long become obsolete. The squadron strength is getting eroded. Conclusion India’s geostrategic position accentuates its strategic vulnerability even as it provides openings for playing a more dominant and proactive role in the region. To optimize its advantages, it requires a continuing reinforcement of several elements of its state power viz. economic, military, technological and diplomatic leverage. A credible military deterrent and capabilities to inflict unaffordable losses on adversaries will be critical. The fact that India has the world’s fourth largest fighting force, does not automatically translate into its having capabilities to adequately deter, defeat and degrade external enemies or tackle externally primed violent groups that threaten internal security. It remains dependent on foreign sources for meeting its defence requirements and as the analyst Brahma Chellaney avers, India “invests bulk of its defence modernisation resources not on strengthening its own armament base or deterrent capabilities but on subsidizing the military industry complex of others.” India’s national security lies in harnessing its own strength and being wary of the interplay of internal and external threats to it.


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