Monday, May 13, 2013

REPEATING THE 1962 HIMALAYAN BLUNDER IN 2013 -Dr. Ishanand Vempeny

Part 11 
Dr. Ishanand Vempeny

The Concepts of Credible Deterrence and MAD

          Once a Holy Man (Sadhu) was approached by his villagers, requesting him to stop a cobra biting them. The cobra lived in the hole of a big, old, banyan tree under and around which the villagers used to move. One evening, this Sadhu confronted the cobra and ordered him not to bite anybody in the village on pain of his powerful curse. This poisonous reptile meekly submitted to the Sadhu’s command. After a week the Holy Man came to the banyan tree. He saw the cobra bleeding, wounded all over by stones thrown by the villagers. Raising its head with much pain and agony the cobra said to the Sadhu: “Maharaj, I obeyed your command. Look at my body. If I had not crept into this hole of the banyan tree I would have been dead already”. The Sadhu granted a new lease of life to the cobra and said: “My order was only not to bite and kill the people. I did not tell you not to warn the villagers by hissing and spreading your hood menacingly. Hereafter do so and no one will harm you.”

          This parable illustrates well the meaning of credible deterrence. By spreading its hood threateningly and hissing loudly the cobra could live safely. India, quite rightly agreed to abstain from the first use of nuclear weapons. But the Indian nuclear arsenals and warheads should be kept ready in the Indian Ocean undetected by hostile powers. We need nuclear submarines with nuclear warheads. With such a credible nuclear deterrent, Pakistan with its congenital hatred for India, and China with all its super power ambitions; will know that any nuclear misadventure on India would be ‘MAD’ ie. Mutually Assured Destruction, as was the case between America and Russia during the cold war. The recent successful launching of Agni-5 missile (April 2012) might make the Dragon think twice before repeating the 1962 adventure of stabbing the back of a friendly neighbour.

          Here another point has to be made. It is part of the question of soft power. The Editor of TOI wrote in his editorial: “Shoring up our Look East policy is a good place to begin. There are several South-East and East Asian nations ranging from Vietnam to Japan that are concerned about China’s territorial ambitions. Partnering with these countries and forming a contact group will help New Delhi obtain fresh insights and inputs on managing its own relations with Beijing. In the same vein, India must seriously consider joining forums and groups such as the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Asean-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. This will provide it with different options to deal with China” (TOI, “Chinese Checkers”, April 25, 2013, p.10).

Awake Oh Defense Minister, Awake

Recently Shivaji Sondhi, Jacqueline Deal and Stephen Rosen, three experts published three serial articles in the Indian Express (Ahmedabad) on September 13, 14 and 15 (2012) on the vulnerability of India in relation to China. The facts brought forward by these experts can be enlightening to your ministry, if you are open. In the first part of the series of articles they describe with facts and figures the vulnerability of India vis-à-vis China. In the second article they bring forward some positive factors that favour India vis-à-vis China and in the third article they show how can India respond to China’s might. After substantiating with facts the authors’ picture a few future scenarios. We shall cite just one:

“In considering these potential slippage points, we ask the reader to imagine an environment in which China has unquestioned military dominance over India and a major voice in the international system, especially in economic and financial matters. In other words, to imagine a future in which Chinese power looks like the power the US commands today.

“With that in mind, consider, for one, developments inside Tibet, perhaps following the death of the Dalai Lama, which could lead to decisive Chinese pressure for India to shut down all Tibetan political activity in India and to force the Tibetan government-in-exile into further exile outside India. Tibetan refugees in India would be asked to take Indian citizenship or to leave India, bringing to an end a morally admirable policy that India has stubbornly clung to for over 50 years.

“Second, as in 1962, China might also use unrest in Tibet as a pretext to seek a new border settlement on Chinese terms. This time, China might end up controlling Tawang, which Chinese officials currently refer to as part of ‘South Tibet’ (along with the rest of Arunachal Pradesh). Unlike the 1962 war, a future military clash may not be restricted to land warfare at the border – instead, we may see a more dispersed set of strikes with precision weapons that disable Indian capabilities in one fell swoop as well as cyber attacks. China would also be likely to bring to bear financial pressure, using economic warfare levers acquired through high levels of investment and trade” (Indian Express, “The Northern Neighbour” by Shivaji Sondhi, Jacqueline Deal and Stephen Rosen, September 13, 2012, p.11).

          The Krishnamenonized Defense Ministry may not take seriously such negative things about our “Friendly neighbour China”. The recent intrusions into the Indian Territory by themselves are not capable of awakening the sleeping defense ministry. Unlike Krishnamenon if the Defense Minister and the bureaucrats in the ministry discuss the situation with the defense experts including the heads of the three wings of the Indian Armed Forces, some sensible solutions may come up.

Shame on the DRDO, Shame

          It is internationally known that India is the largest purchaser of weapons in the whole world. What are the gentleman and ladies of DRDO doing about this shameful reality? How many years ago the order was given to build indigenously a model for Light Fighter Aircraft? After decades a semblance of an aircraft with foreign engines was experimented recently in Bangalore. Is it a credit to you? There were orders years ago for building with foreign collaboration in India, submarines, aircraft carriers, etc. Where are they? Where is the Russian made aircraft carrier supposed to be delivered to India more than a decade back? During the 1962 Chinese attack when the promised Russian MIGs were not reaching India, Raja Gopalachari asked the PM whether Russian MIGs were carried to India by bullock-carts. What about the Indian made Arjuna Tanks? Are you designing some decent guns instead of the scam-filled Bofors? The Indian soldiers are complaining that they do not have decent rifles. Have you thought about it? After the Pearl Harbour attack do you know within one year how many ships and submarines were made by the American people guided by American DRDO-like institutions? During the incessant attack on London by Germany, how many German bombers were shot down, how many British plains were destroyed and how much time it took to substitute them with their improved versions?

Hard Power and Soft Power

          If we are weak in ‘hard power’ we should at least be strong in ‘soft power’. China has problems with practically all her neighbours including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. The Americans and the Australians are eager to build up a strong alliance with India’s cooperation. The Krishnamenonized Defense Ministry may prefer to bow before the Chinese rather than joining hands with these South-East Asian powers. Remember in 1962 when the much hated and maligned Americans and the British came forward to India’s defense, the Chinese, anticipating serious trouble withdrew its armies. Among our neighbouring countries is there anyone whom we can call “All-weather Friend”?

          An effective defense system needs vision enhanced by the wisdom of experts. It needs patriotism and a sense of urgency. Many of the Chinese and our weapon-systems are just the improved versions of the Russian system. Is it strategically right to depend so much on the Russians? Besides much of the military corruption is in the purchase of weapons. When will India have the three wings of the military capable of standing on its feet and face the enemies? Will the DRDO shake of its drowsiness and get up with courage and patriotism? Let us hope and pray that the three wings of Indian Armed Forces may stand on their feet in the near future with ‘hard-power’ and ‘soft-power’. Please, please, save our Mother Land from the ignominy of 1962. 

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