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Indian Force Modernization: A Threat to Strategic Stability in South Asia

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Hans J Morgenthau in his classical work of Politics Among Nations stated that the aspiration for power on part of several nations, each trying to maintain or overthrow the status quo and policies aim to preserve it, leads to a necessity of configuration that is called balance of power.[1]This concept lead to coining the terms of strategic stability and arms race following competing states ambitions to maintain balance and stability. The evolving cycle of new arms race in international arena among major powers has ensued rapid force modernization at conventional and strategic level. The global defense spending has reached  $1.917 trillion in 2019according to SIPRI, while, US ($732billion) China ($261billion), India ($71.1billion), Russia ($65.1 billion), KSA ($62 billion)  remain among the highest military spenders.[2] Indian defense spending due to its hegemonic ambitions has increased by6.8%in 2019 as compared to $66.5 B in 2018. The Indian MoD has spent and allocated over  $ 16.91 billion for acquiring new weapon systems for its armed forces. During the first 50 days of Modi second term BJP government spent over USD 1.23 billion on armed forces. While, amid current India china military standoff Indian government approved $67,365,400 ($67 million) on emergency bases.  Thus, the build-up and expansion of forces by India is impacting the delicate balance of power in the South Asia. 

The Indian Army has been the major focus of force modernization which include acquiring and procuring new weapon systems across the force spectrum for infantry soldier to mechanized infantry, artillery, and armored branches. One of the major modernization project is Indian Army’s Future Infantry Soldier System (F-INSAS)which has seen an investment of over $ 6-8 billion by the DRDO for equipping infantry soldiers and upgrading 325 Battalions with  new weapon systems, armor protection and communication systems along with network centric capabilities.[3] The Indian Army has also made deals worth of $5 billion to acquire battle rifles of various calibers including 650,000 units of AK-103, 72,000 units of  SIG 716 and 94,000 units of Caracal 816.The Indian Army has allocated $3.4 billion (80% of its capital budget) for procurement of artillery and howitzer guns under Field Artillery Rationalization Program with aim to equip 169 artillery regiments with 3,000 155mm howitzers in self-propelled, tracked, ultra-light configuration by 2025. The Indian army is planning on inducting:

  • 1,100 units of 55 km range Dhanush ATAGS copy of French Bofors FH-72B howitzers worth $2.9 bn by 2021.
  • 100 units of K-9 Vajra-T self-propelled howitzer guns.
  • 140 units of M777 howitzer guns for $700 Million with US.[4]

Indian Army currently fields 65 armored regiments consisting approximately 3000 MBTs and is beefing them up. For this purpose Indian Army has initiated various deals.

  • A deal for 464 units of T-90MS MBTs has been made with Russia which worth $1.93 billion and has furthered order for 1345 units of T-90S Bhishma MBTs to be developed indigenously.
  • Deal worth of  $1.7 B for acquiring Milan 2T ATGMs from France, subsequent deals for Spike ATGMs are in pipeline with Israel.
  • Indian Army is also negotiating with South Korea for Hanwha K-30 Biho mobile ADS worth of $2.5 billion.

The Indian Air Force has embarked upon a major force modernization process.        Purchases worth Rs USD 1.088 billion cleared for IAF in just last 2 months from May-July 2019.

  • IAF has processed the deal of procuring 170 air crafts worth $22 billion for 114 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) with contenders from Boeing F/A-18, Lockheed Martin F-21, Saab Gripen-E, Russian Su30 and Mig 29 and 56 twin turbo C-295 cargo jet under joint venture of TATA-Air Bus.
  • Apart from this a $8.6 billion deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets is underway which will be inducted in IAF by 2022.
  • A deal worth of $ 2.43 billion for 33 Russian fighter jets including 21 Mig-29 and 12 Su-30 MKI including upgradation of 59 existing Mig 29 jets amid military standoff with China. [5]
  • IAF project on Tejas Mk I, II which costed $1 billion and has inducted only 16 out of 123 planned jets.
  • The Indo-Russian deal for S-400 BMD of $5.5 billion will materialize till October 2020-2023.[6]
  • The IAF is also procuring gunship helicopters from Boeing with 22 Apache AH-64E  and 6 Chinook CH-47F (I) utility helicopters worth of $ 3.1 billion.
  • The IAF has initiated project for stealth Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle named Ghatak and allocated $37 million developed by DRDO by 2025.[7]
  • India has given tender to HAL for USD 1.415 billion to develop Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH) replacing its fleet of Russian Mi-8/17.

The Indian Air Force is procuring BVR Stand-off missiles such as METEOR and SCALP along with R-37 RVV-BD missiles to target AWACS and support aircrafts within hostile air space. IAF has also tested and inducted BrahMos Cruise Missile with extended range upto 500 km launched from Su-30 MKI. IAF has also conducted tests of BVR Astra missiles with a range of 100 km, a Mach speed of 4.5 with payload capacity of 15 kg to be deployed on Su-30 MKI.

Under its hegemonic ambitions India has been heavily investing in its navy and embarking on equipping over 200 vessels by 2027 under its force modernization process.

  • India has signed deals with Russia including development of two guided missile frigates worth $950 million under Project 11356. Akula Class Nuclear powered attack submarine SSN worth $3 billion for leasing by 2025.Further procurement deal for Naval EWACS helicopters Kamov 31 for $ 521 million is also underway.[8]
  • India also plans on procuring 6 next generation missile vessels worth $2 billion.
  • The development of 4 out of 6 Kalvari Class/ Scorpene Class diesel-electric, AIP, submarines is underway with a net cost of $3.4 billion by 2020 under P75 project at Mazagon Docks Mumbai.This will be followed by six more conventional submarines under project  P-75I for which the Indian government has placed tender for global ship-builders including French, German, Swedish, Spanish and Russian companies for a worth for 6.6 billion USD by 2030. Moreover, a tender worth USD 291 million for critical heavy-weight torpedoes for the under-construction Scorpene Class subs has been made to global manufacturers.[9]
  • Indian Navy’s Advance Technology Vessel (ATV) project worth $13 billion is underway to develop six Arihant Class SSNsand seven Project 17 A class stealth frigates to be delivered by 2022.
  • INS Vikrant which costs about $2.4 billion is under construction at Cochin Shipyard in Kerala will enter into sea trails by 2021 and inducted by Indian Navy in 2023, while proposed project of INS Vishal a 50,000 tonnage vessel is under negotiation with Royal Navy for $5 billion.[10]
  • India is also procuring 24 MH-60 Seahawk helicopters from US for $2.4 billion for anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare. Procurement of 10 P-8 Poseidon maritime aircraft for $3 billion signed with US, maturing from 2020-2023.[11]
  • Turkish TAIS has secured a tender worth of $2.3 B for manufacturing five support tanker vessels with 45,000 tonnage.
  • The DRDO has also carried out test trails of Electro Magnetic Rail Gun EMRG for the Indian Navy. The EMRG can fire projectiles with a speed of Mach 6.
  • ISRO would be developing $ 231 million military satellite GSAT-7R for communications between warships, aircraft and shore based units, to be launched in 2020.[12]

Indian indigenous defense production corporations are also engaging in various joint ventures with international defense industries. Indian Missile and Defense equipment manufacturer Baharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) has procured orders worth $ 3.63 billion including $ 1.1 billion currently on hand to be executed by 2023-24. BDL is also engaged in joint venture with DRDO for QR SAM, Akash 1S-NG, ATGMs and sonobuoys. The company has an MoU with Thales, UK for STARSTREAK HVM for air defense. Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has awarded Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems a $100 million contract to supply missile kits for Barak-8 medium-range surface-to-air missiles and  MRSAM worth USD 50 million with IAI. Under a $2.5 billion program launched in 2017, the IAF will induct 18 firing units and 450 missiles while the Indian Army will induct 14 firing units and 500 missiles.[13]

India has maintained an unsafeguarded nuclear program by manipulating the Atoms for Peace program and carrying out nuclear tests in 1973. India over the years has developed significant nuclear weapons program, increasing stockpiles for fissile materials. The currently under construction Indian Nuclear City project at Challakere, Karnataka would host largest nuclear site in Asia upon its completion. This facility will be able to produce enriched uranium fuel for nuclear weapons and for hydrogen bomb also.It is estimated that India maintains30%-45%highly enriched Uranium HEU U-235 with stocks ranging to 4.0±1.4 at various sites maintaining lare centrifuge plants mainly at Rattehalli and Cgitradurga plant under Rare Materials Project, operational since 1990.

India also maintains a considerable amount of weapons grade plutonium which is being produced in two major reactors located near Mumbai in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). In BAC complex two reactors produce weapon grade plutonium; a 100 MWt Dhruva plant commissioned in 1985 and another 40 MWt CIRUS which was decommissioned in 2010. India is also planning to construct a 100 MWt reactor in Vizag located in Andhra Pradesh. The estimated amount of weapon grade plutonium maintained by India is around 0.6 + 0.15 tonnes, while 6.5+3.5 tonnes of reactor grade plutonium which is produced from unsafeguarded heavy-water reactors used for power production which can be used for producing military grade plutonium in future. India is also using over 2 tonnes of plutonium as fuel for fueling the core of under construction Fast Breeder Test Reactor. The estimated nuclear weapons of India are around 125+  with sufficient fissile material to manufacture 300 to 492 weapons.[14]

India maintains a considerable space program with over 55 satellites in space including designated military satellites which are around 8 and over 17 dual use satellites. These satellites are laden with electro optical, and radar imaging, electromagnetic and cartographic sensors used for various ISR missions. Indian space program has a budget of over $1.6 billion and has recently embarked on launching manned mission to moon. India on March 27, 2019 conducted an Anti-Satellite mission which created debris and threatened the peace in outer space which is a global common.[15]

The hegemonic ambitions and destabilizing actions to peace and strategic stability of India are evident from Indian rapid force modernization. The rapid restructuring of the armed forces, shifts and changes in nuclear doctrines from No-First Use to First Use and issuance of Land Warfare Doctrine 2018 an evolution of Cold Start Doctrine CSD, indicates the hostile and belligerent ambitions of India. Modi regime has spent billions of dollars for upgrading its armed forces in India is on a spree to force modernization for quenching its hegemonic desires while projecting its actions to counter China, while in reality its force projection and modernization is aimed against Pakistan at the cost of destabilizing strategic balance in South Asia. Thus, the irrational decisions and aggressive posturing of India has placed Pakistan in a position to secure its own national interests and security by countering potential Indian military capabilities. The major areas of concern for Pakistan would be apart from conventional and nuclear domain would be cyber and space domains where India has been excessively investing and developing its capabilities. Pakistan due to its economic constraints and conventional asymmetry vis-à-vis India must invest in force multiplier platforms, long-range and deep strike capable weapon systems including strategic and  cruise missiles along with developing redundant and survivable command, control, communications, computer, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems. For this purpose Pakistan should focus upon developing and increasing its indigenous capabilities, investing in research and development and enhancing human resources in emerging technologies, and enhancing bilateral cooperation with allies in various sectors to attain strategic advantage against Indian hegemonic ambitions to maintain the strategic balance in the South Asian region.


[1] See, Morgenthau, Hans J, ”Politics Among Nations”, (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1948)

[2]“Global military expenditure sees largest annual increase in a decade—says SIPRI—reaching $1917 billion in 2019,

SIPRI, April 27, 2020, https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2020/global-military-expenditure-sees-largest-annual-increase-decade-says-sipri-reaching-1917-billion#:~:text=(Stockholm%2C%2027%20April%202020),growth%20in%20spending%20since%202010.

[3]“Future infantry: unravelling the Indian Army’s F-INSAS programme,” Army Technology,  February 20, 2012, https://www.army-technology.com/features/featurefuture-infantry-unravelling-the-indian-armys-f-insas-programme/.

[4]Sandeep Unnithan, “Bang for the buck?,” India Today, February 22, 2018, https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/the-big-story/story/20180305-bang-for-the-buck-make-in-india-military-hardware-1176002-2018-02-22.

[5] “India to buy 33 Russian fighter jets for $2.43bn,” Al Jazeera, July 3, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/07/india-buy-33-russian-fighter-jets-243bn-200703045842841.html

[6]“S-400 Triumf missile deal: India mulls euro payments for Russian arms to escape US sanctions,” Business Today, June 28, 2019, https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/s400-triumf-missile-deal-india-russia-euro-payment-russian-arms-us-sanctions/story/359683.html.

[7]Shiv Aroor, “EXCLUSIVE: Inside The World Of India’s Most Secret Combat Aircraft Program,” LiveFist Defense, February 02, 2018, https://www.livefistdefence.com/2018/02/exclusive-inside-the-world-of-indias-most-secret-combat-aircraft.html

[8]“Defence ministry approves Navy’s Rs 3,600-crore deal with Russia for 10 Kamov-31 helicopters,” India Today, May 3, 2019,  https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/defence-ministry-indian-navy-russia-kamov-31-helicopters-1516576-2019-05-03.

[9] “India Wants global warship builders to build new submarines for $6.6 billion,” Defense News, July 12, 2019, http://www.defencenews.in/article/PM%e2%80%89Modi-wants-global-warship-makers-to-build-new-submarines-for-$66-billion%e2%80%89Report-585762.

[10]Ajai Shukla, “Budgetary woes put India’s supercarrier ‘INS Vishal’ on hold,” Business Standard, May 06, 2019, https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/budgetary-woes-put-india-s-supercarrier-ins-vishal-on-hold-119050600047_1.html.

[11]“US approves sale of 24 MH 60 Seahawk helicopters to India for $2.4 bn,” Economic Times, April 3, 2019,  https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/us-approves-sale-of-24-mh-60-romeo-seahawk-helicopters-to-india-for-usd-2-4-bn/articleshow/68698990.cms.

[12]Manu Pubby, “Navy to buy Rs 1589 crore satellite from ISRO,” The Economic Times, July 19, 2019, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/navy-to-buy-rs-1589-crore-satellite-from-isro/articleshow/70283927.cms

[13]Vivek Raghuvanshi, “Joint Israeli, Indian venture to make missiles kits for Barak-8 weapon,” Defense News, July 11, 2019,  https://www.defensenews.com/global/asia-pacific/2019/07/11/joint-israeli-indian-venture-to-make-missiles-kits-for-barak-8-weapon/

[14]Indian Fissile Material, International Panel on Fissile Materials, February 12, 2018, http://fissilematerials.org/countries/india.html

[15]“India’s Military To Create Defence Space And Cyber Agencies As Part of Reforms,” SpaceWatch, April 30, 2019, https://spacewatch.global/2018/10/indias-military-to-create-defence-space-and-cyber-agencies-as-part-of-reforms/.

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Webinar: How will we minimize conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean?

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One of the biggest online events for this year with the theme: “How will we minimize conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean?was held by the Region of Western Greece and EuropeDirect Patra, on Thursday 25 February 25 2021, organized by the Deputy Governor of Entrepreneurship, Research and Innovation of Western Greece, Fokion Zaimis, with representatives at a very high level, from Greece and abroad. Specifically, the countries represented were Greece, Turkey, Sweden, the USA, Italy and Brussels through elected representatives, MEPs, MPs, lawyers, International Relations Specialists, political scientists, diplomats, senior officials, academics, journalists and representatives of European and international networks.

Opening the event the Deputy Governor of Entrepreneurship, Research and Innovation of Western GreeceFokion Zaimis said: “The Eastern Mediterranean, the cradle of ancient civilization and the crossroads of major economic and commercial routes has been and is the focus of many conflicts from antiquity to the present day. I warmly thank all the participants in today’s international event for conflict prevention in the Eastern Mediterranean in cooperation with Europe Direct and CPMR. Critical and serious issues emerged from completely different starting points and perspectives. Regional government has an important role to play in communication, trade and economic relations, tourism, environment and the consolidation of relations of mutual respect and trust between the communities of Mediterranean countries. The goal is the progress and prosperity of the citizens and what unites us is much more than what divides us”.

The Regional Governor of Western Greece Nektarios Farmakis highlighted: “It also proves in this way that regional government is able to organize and contribute to national or supranational issues and this is something very important, because it proves that it is not limited to the house and is not only trapped in its daily life but also looks at our world with a broader look. Knowing what is happening in the wider area ultimately concerns the regional government. I firmly believe in diplomacy and the possibility of international cooperation that can shape self-government strengthening the national diplomacy and strategy”.

The MEP (epp) Manolis Kefalogiannis, stated: “A very important initiative of the Region of Western Greece with many distinguished guests from Greece and abroad on an important issue concerning the conflict and the reduction of conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean. It really concerns a dominant issue at this time because we have a neighbor Turkey and President Erdogan who are behaving like riots in the wider region violating every concept of law, every good neighborly relationship and creating tensions in the wider region. We must respect, in accordance with international law, the decisions of the United Nations, the decisions of the European Union, always guided by good neighborly relations, always with respect to the international law of the sea, resolve any disputes in a spirit of peace, cooperation and relations as befits a country such as Turkey, a country that is part of the European family “.

Particularly honorable was the representation of NATO through the speech of a senior official, Dr. Nicola De Santis, Head of NATO Public Diplomacy, presented by Theodosios Georgiou, President of the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation, who highlighted, among other things, the role that Regions can play in security and cooperation. Dr. Nicola De Santis spoke about the important role that NATO plays in the challenges and what security prospects in the Eastern Mediterranean, explained the principles of the Alliance, pointed out the important role played by citizens through their demands, security as a necessary condition for development, as well the consultations and cooperation proposals promoted by NATO.

Speaking about the institutional-legal framework, the Ambassador (ad.hon.) and former Ambassador of Greece to Washington, Alexandros Mallias, pointed out: “It is exactly one year since the operation of violating the borders of Greece in Evros. The invasion and occupation of Cyprus, the aggressive moves against Greece and the constant official provocations, the strategic intervention of Turkey in Libya, Iraq, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh are violations, incompatible with Article 1 of the NATO Statute. So this is an ally behavior that allows NATO rivals to question the consistency between declarations, principles and actions. The goal of Mr. Erdogan’s policy is not sound in the negotiations to ensure the terms of an honest peace that will ensure relations of cooperation and good neighborliness. On the contrary, its goal is the forced adaptation of Greece to the expectations and conditions of Turkey. Therefore, it does not have a short-term character. It is no coincidence that Mr Erdogan is systematically calling for a revision of the Lausanne Treaty. At the same time, Ankara aims to nullify the trust of Greek citizens in its political leadership”.

The business framework was set by former Minister of Culture & Tourism, Pavlos Geroulanos: “One can not ignore the provocation of Turkey and its willingness to create tension in the region. Obviously we can not discuss any cooperation as long as we have such a deployment of Turkish troops in the Aegean Sea. The basis of cooperation is with countries that have strong diplomacy, economy and army. Only when you can stand on yourfeet can you impose peace in an area.”

Dimitrios Kairidis,  Professor of International Relations and MP (North Sector of Athens, New Democracy), explained why Turkey, a country with special structural elements, is a particularly destabilizing factor for the wider Mediterranean region.

Suleyman Ozeren, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, George Mason University talked about forced Migration, Refugee Crisis and the Abyss of Securitization in Turkey, which consist really concerning issues. He referred that Turkey is not only a country of entry for many refugees, such as Syrian people who were considered guest in the beginning, but also a country of exit for many Turkish people due to law and democracy issues. In this context he made some policies recommendations.

The representation of ELIAMEP (Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy) was also particularly honourable by Thanos Veremis, Vice President of the Boardand Emeritus Professor (Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Athens, History, International Relations) who expressed strong concerns about Greek-Turkish relations.

An important parameter in international relations regarding the value code that each country has, every citizen, put the Ottoman, Turkologist, Associate of the Laboratory of Turkish & Eurasian Studies and Lawyer at the Supreme Court, Dr. Dimitris Stathakopoulos stating: “We have common interests with Eastern Mediterranean, but we also have different quality characteristics which our value codes and the historical memories we have prevent us from resolving the existing issues in a sense of” associations “. Because we start from a different historical basis and it is by no means self-evident that we perceive International Law or conventions in exactly the same way. The Turks believed and believe, for example, that Greece liberated not Greek territories, but conspiracy theoristically conquered new countries. He sees Greece as an ungrateful part of the Ottoman Empire which made a “stop”, not a Greek revolution “, and added that” we can get along with Turkey, but the logic of Turkey does not allow us to agree, since it does not want cooperation with equals”.

Matthew Crosston, Ph.D., Professor, Director of Academic Transformation Office of the Provost, Bowie State University, Executive Vice Chairman and Author at  Modern Diplomacy.eu talked about the Hydrocarbon Hybrid War asan untangling conflict in the Eastern Med. He pointed the problem of missing information in western and eastern media regarding the real  situation, as well as the vision of Turkey to be an energy hub.

Through this event besides presenting the current situation in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, the opportunity was given to identify those points that complicate the situation and views were expressed from different perspectives within a democratic, multicultural and pluralistic context that seeks to find cooperation solutions through dialogue, democracy, human rights and the peaceful coexistence of peoples.

The event was also attended by the honorable speakers:

  • Mitat ÇELİKPALA, Vice Rector, Professor, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of International Relations, Kadir Has University
  • Emmanouil Karagiannis, Associate Professor, Department of Defense Studies, King’s College London
  • Ioannis Mitsios, Political Scientist, International Relations Specialist, M.A. Northeastern University, Boston
  • Giorgos Alexakis, Vice Governor on European and International Affairs at Region of Crete, Vice-President of CPMR & EUROMONTANA
  • Theodoros Louloudis, Publisher of “Peloponnisos” Newspaper, Member of the Organizing Committee of the Regional Growth Conference,
  • Annika AnnerbyJansson, President of Region Skåne, Chair of the CPMR’s Task Force on Migration Mamangement
  • Dimitrios Triantafyllou, Professor, Department of International Relations, Kadir Has University
  • Dimitrios Rizoulis, Journalist, Director of the newspaper “Dimokratia”.

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India – The US Promote National Defense – Security Cooperation

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US and Indian foreign ministers and defense ministers at a press conference after 2+2 Dialogue on 27/10 (Source: IANS)

In recent years, the India-US bilateral relationship has been more closely bonded, especially defense-security cooperation in various fields including nuclear technology, maritime defense and security, anti-terrorism in the region and in the world … has been continuously promoted, contributing to the development of an intensive bilateral relationship. This results from the demand for security strategy, economic, security and political interests of the two parties. The United States wants India to become its ally in the Indo-Pacific region, counterbalancing China’s growing influence, ensuring U.S. maritime security interests and a huge commercial arm market for the US. To India: a good relationship with the US will help India highten its position in the region; India also wants to rely on US power to increase its military strength, to watch out China and create pressure on Pakistan. In addition, India’s comprehensive diplomacy and the US’s regional strategy carried out simultaneously without overlapping, is conducive to strengthening the bilateral security cooperation for both countries.

It is evitable that in recent years, defense-security cooperation between India and the US has made remarkable progresses. After removing the Sanctions on India for nuclear testing in May 2018, the US and India announced the Joint Declaration on Civil Energy Cooperation between the two countries. Accordingly, the US will provide nuclear fuel and technology support for India to develop civil nuclear energy. This has opened the door for India to develop their nuclear weapons and improve military strength. The two countries also cooperate in many defense activities including ballistic missile defense, joint military training, expanding arms sales, strengthening military staff exchanges and intelligence, as well as loosening two-way technology exports.

To be specific: In January 1995, the two countries signed the “US-India Defense Relations Agreement”, stipulating that in addition to conducting cooperation on research and production of military weapons, the two countries also conduct exchanges between military and non-military personnel. In May 2001, the Indian government announced its support for the US to develop a ballistic missile defense system, and proposed to purchase the “Patriot 1 (PAC-3)” air defense missile system. In March 2005, during the Conference on Cooperation in Ballistic Missile Defense, the US, India and Japan agreed to set up a joint working group, to implement close cooperation on ballistic missile defense. In June 2005, the United States and India signed a 10-year military cooperation agreement, which not only required increased exchanges between the two countries’ armies, but also proposed to strengthen military cooperation regarding weapons production, and trading as well as ballistic missile defense. In July 2009, the two countries signed a “Comprehensive customer surveillance treaty” on defense, the US sold advanced defense technology to India. This treaty allowed India to obtain a “permission card” to buy the US’s advanced weaponry. In addition, the two countries also cooperate in counter-terrorism in the region and around the world, maritime security, and joint military exercises …

One of the activities promoting bilateral relations between India and the US was the “2 + 2 Dialogue” taking place on October 27, 2020 in New Delhi. Within the framework of this dialogue, India and the United States had shared exchanges of a free and open Indo-Pacific vision, embracing peace and prosperity, a rules-based order with  the central role of ASEAN, resolving disputes, ensuring the economic and security interests of all related parties with legitimate interests in this region … The focus on defense-security cooperation in this “2+2 Dialogue” is the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). The agreement allowed India to access accurate data, topographic images, maps, maritime and aviation data and satellite data on a real-time basis from US military satellites. Thereby, this will assist the provision of better accuracy for such weapons as cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones of India, and support the rescue operations during natural disasters and security strategy. The BECA is one of the four basic agreements a country needs to sign to become a major defense partner of the US. The other three agreements that India had previously signed with the United States are the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA),  the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and theCommunications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) . These are “cornerstone” agreements allowing the armies of the two countries to fight together in the event of a conflict. Accelerating the signing of the BECA was just one of various ways India reacted to China threats, especially after the border clashes in Doklam (2017) and Ladakh (5/2020-now). India, the US, Japan and Australia were more active in the Quartet Meeting on October 6 in Tokyo. India also invited Australia to join the Malabar naval exercises with the US and Japan in November.

The signing of BECA was a further institutionalization of the Indo-US strategic relationship to promote the two countries’ intensive cooperate on strategy and military, without pressure to become an official ally yet have benefits. Washington received interests in selling weapons to New Delhi, especially when conflict starts. New Delhi has attached more importance to US military equipment because of its transparent pricing, simple operation and maintenance, thereby reducing reliance on Russia for weapons. Currently, the total value of Indian weapons purchased from the US is more than 15 billion USD and is expected to double in the coming time. The US-India military cooperation, therefore, will be closer in the future.

Also at this dialogue, the two countries agreed to cooperate in dealing with the Covid pandemic, considering this a priority for bilateral cooperation in this period. Accordingly, the US and India will cooperate in RDto produce a series of vaccines, to expand access to vaccines, and ensure high-quality, safe, effective and affordable medical treatment between the two countries and on a global scale.

Currently, India-US defense-security cooperation is at its heyday in the history and is likely to develop further. This relationship has profound effects on the regional security environment, especially direct effects on China. As military forces grow, India will probably implement their military strategy “taking the Indian Ocean in the South, expanding power to the East Sea in the East, attacking Pakistan in the West, watching out for China in the North”, plus nuclear deterrence. This will worsen the fierce arms race in such regions as the South Asia and the Indian Ocean, leading to an imbalance of forces and add up a number of unstability factors in these regions.

In short, India-US defense-security cooperation is making remarkable progresses and has created impact on regional security, especially China and other countries with common interests in this region, including Vietnam. Therefore, the China-American-Indian triangle relationship is currently in an unstable state. In this scenario, it is suggested that countries actively identify issues relating to the this three military powers relationship and devise appropriate diplomatic strategies, balancing bilateral relations with major powers with disagreements to ensure national security and stability in the region.

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India-Pakistan LOC peace

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India and Pakistan have both announced to “strictly observe” the truce along the Line of Control and all other sectors “in the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders”. Such an announcement could not have emerged without Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s imprimatur.  A hunch is that the move is an upshot of a nudge from the US president. This impression is fortified by several events that are accentuated by India-Pakistan entente (so called surgical strikes, 5000 ceasefire violations, hype about 2008 Mumbai attack and the one at Pathankot  airbase, so on). From Pakistan’s angle, India believed in might is right. And while it was open to compromises with China, it displayed a fist to Pakistan.

Need for a dialogue

In the past, peace at the LOC proved ephemeral as it was not backed up by sufficient follow-up. A dialogue is needed for the hour. It is a good omen that Pakistan is open to talks despite chagrin at abolition of the occupied state’s statehood.

Misconception about the sanctity of the India-Pakistan LOC vis-a-vis the Sino-Indian LAC

A common misperception is that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is more sacrosanct than the LoC. For instance, India’s prestigious Indian Express explained: ‘The LoC emerged from the 1948 ceasefire line negotiated by the UN after the Kashmir war. It was designated as the LoC in 1972, following the Simla Agreement. It is delineated on a map signed by Director General Military Operations of both armies and has the international sanctity of a legal agreement. The LAC, in contrast, is only a concept –it is not agreed upon by the two countries, neither delineated on a map nor demarcated on the ground’.

To understand Sino-Indian differences, one needs to peek into the Indian mind through books such as Shivshankar Menon’s Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy, Shyam Saran’s How India Sees the World, and A G Noorani’s India-China Boundary Problem 1846-1947.

The afore-quoted newspaper poses the question: “What was India’s response to China’s designation of the LAC?” It then explains India rejected the concept of LAC in both 1959 and 1962. Even during the war, Nehru was unequivocal: “There is no sense or meaning in the Chinese offer to withdraw twenty kilometres from what they call ‘line of actual control…” In July 1954, Nehru had issued a directive that “all our old maps dealing with this frontier should be carefully examined and, where necessary, withdrawn. New maps should be printed showing our Northern and North Eastern frontier without any reference to any ‘line’. The new maps should also be sent to our embassies abroad and should be introduced to the public generally and be used in our schools, colleges, etc”. It is this map that was officially used that formed the basis of dealings with China, eventually leading to the 1962 War’ (Indian Express, June 6, 2020, Line of Actual Control: Where it is located and where India and China differ).

India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000km.

The LAC was discussed during Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng’s 1991 visit to India, where Indian PM P. V. Narasimha Rao and Premier Li reached an understanding to maintain peace and tranquility at the LAC. India formally accepted the concept of the LAC when Rao paid a return visit to Beijing in 1993.

The reference to the LAC was unqualified to make it clear that it was not referring to the LAC of 1959 or 1962 but to the LAC at the time when the agreement was signed.

India’s disdain of the LOC

India’s mindset on the LOC should change. The problem is Nehru never cared a fig for the disputed state’s constituent assembly, Indian parliament or the UN. This truth is interspersed in Avtar Singh Bhasin’s 10-volume documentary study (2012) of India-Pakistan Relations 1947-2007. It contains 3,649 official documents which gave new perspectives to Nehru’s state of mind.

In his 2018 book (published after six years of his earlier work), India, Pakistan: Neighbours at Odds (Bloomsbury India, New Delhi, 2018), Bhasin discusses Nehru’s perfidy on Kashmir.

LoC peace should lead to Kashmir solution

The tentative solutions include (a) status quo (division of Kashmir along the present Line of Control with or without some local adjustments to facilitate the local population, (b) complete or partial independence (creation of independent Muslim-majority tehsils of Rajauri, Poonch and Uri, with Hindu-majority areas merged in India), (c) a plebiscite to be held in five to 10 years after putting Kashmir under UN trusteeship (Trieste-like solution), (d) joint control, (e) an Indus-basin-related solution, (f) an Andorra island (g) Aland island-like solution and (h) permutations and combinations of the aforementioned options.

Another option is for Pakistan and India to grant independence to disputed areas under their control and let Kashmir emerge as a neutral country. An independent Kashmir, as a neutral country, was the favourite choice of Sheikh Abdullah. From the early 1950s “Sheikh Abdullah supported ‘safeguarding of autonomy’ to the fullest possible extent” (Report of the State Autonomy Committee, Jammu, p. 41).

Abdullah irked Nehru so much that he had to put him behind the bars. Bhabani Sen Gupta and Prem Shankar Jha assert that “if New Delhi sincerely wishes to break the deadlock in Kashmir, it has no other alternative except to accept and implement what is being termed as an ‘Autonomy Plus, Independence Minus’ formula, or to grant autonomy to the state to the point where it is indistinguishable from independence”. (Shri Prakash and Ghulam Mohammad Shah (ed.), Towards understanding the Kashmir crisis, p.226).

Sans sincerity and the will to implement, the only Kashmir solution is divine intervention or the unthinkable, nuclear Armageddon.

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