India: The Giant with feet of clay

india[2]Eric Margolis, Canadian war reporter and author who lived among Afghan Mujahideen during Russian occupation of Afghanistan, said in his recent article: “Mighty India, an insecure giant with feet of clay.” Margolis made that observation in reference to China’s increasing influence in South and North Asia.

Professor Pranab K. Bardhan (UC Berkeley), an Indian economist, has even authored a book of similar title: Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India.

India has been picking on its small neighbors (Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar and Afghanistan) for years – but has tried not to bully China since New Delhi’s military defeat in 1962.

India, an artificial state in every sense – finds most of its enemies within the country. India’s thirst for more modern arms is not that much to fight foreign wars but to control over 100 ethnic groups which are fighting for separation from Mother India. While more than half of 1.1 billion India’s population is living below poverty line – India has become world’s largest arms buyer. Since the fall of USSR in the 1980s, United States and Israel have become India’s top military hardware suppliers.

In 2009, Indian Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor, came up with a “two-front war” – against China and Pakistan. He advised New Delhi to modernize Indian Armed Forces to meet the challenge. His successor Gen. V.K. Singh also supported the “two-front war” strategy. Since then, New Delhi has been purchasing arms from all over the world.

Gautam Navlakha, an Indian writer and anti-war activist, posted an article at the South Asia Citizen Web explaining how India is going to waste another $150 billion over the next ten years by importing 70% of its armament from foreign countries instead of developing local defense industries like some of its neighbors such as China, Russia and Iran – or find ways to live in peace with its neighbors.

India’s future purchase list includes six Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft for $1.2 billion, 126 Rafale medium multirole combat aircraft from Dassault for $20 billion, 310 Russian T-90 tanks for $800 million, eight Boeing P81 Super Hunters for $2.1 billion, 250-300 FGFA Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA for $30 billion and 10 Boeing C17 Globemaster III aircraft for $5.8 billion.

 Modernization of INS Vikramaditya will cost $2.33 billion. The list further includes 3,000 artillery guns for $4 billion, 75 Pilatus trawler aircraft for $1 billion, attack and heavy lift helicopters for $2 billion, six mid-air refuellers for $1 billion and 197 helicopters for reconnaissance and surveillance for $650 million. In addition, the army wants to arm 356 infantry battalions, and has been asking for other “fighting and support” arms such as weapons for close-quarters battle, carbines, light machine guns (LMGs), specialized sniper rifles and anti-bunker bursting rifles.

While India has emerged as the largest importer of arms with a 12% share of world arms imports, it has sunk to sub-Saharan levels in social indices of development. Whereas the US imports only 10% of its weapons, and China 30%, India imports 70%. If imports by DPSUs, whose import dependence is 35% to 45% of their budget, are taken into account, India’s total dependence on arms and component imports could be as high as 80% to 85%. While the major focus in India where arms imports are concerned is on bribes (or kickbacks), for which there seems to be a nexus of politicians, corporations, bureaucrats, defense officers, and media personalities, there is another factor that deserves attention – the possibility of the dependence on imports jeopardizing the country’s strategic manoeuvrability,” says Navlakha.



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