7 May 2014

Uncertain future for India's security structure, says ex-DGMO

05 May 2014

"Indigenisation of weapons will not happen unless there are suitable economic measures," said Lt-Gen V R Raghavan (retd), formerly Director-General of the Indian Army.

Participating in an interaction on "Agenda for India-2014: Strategic aspirations and security preparations" at ORF-Chennai on March 23, Gen Raghavan expressed a pessimistic view regarding a post-poll government bringing about changes in the army. He said that not much has changed over the past 15 years and a lot of opportunities were lost during the last ten years of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 

Pointing out that there was mismanagement of the national security structure, Gen Raghavan was vociferous that Defence Minister A K Antony did not live up to the demands and expectations. He added that not much of a change would come about with a new government at the Centre, and hoped that the parliamentary elections would usher in a strong government with a comfortable parliamentary arithmetic would emerge.

Gen Raghavan said that modernisation of the military does not essentially mean using modern weapons. Instead, it involved modern thinking, and breaking away from a system to which the bureaucrats are locked into, thus resisting change. He said the nation thus may not have the capacity to handle a war. 

Gen Raghavan said that future wars would not be fought in the way it was fought earlier. Hence, developing modern ammunitions and tanks may end up being pointless, he said. With more modern weapons, there would also be more scandals in the country, he cautioned. 

On the strategic front, Gen Raghavan said that even if India does go to war with China, it would be 'left high and dry' even by our closest ally Russia. India has only two things left in this regard, to avert a possible war situation or yield to the superiority of China. 

Energy pool and 'growth revolution'

Expressing, at the outset, an uncertain future for India's security structure in 2014, the former DGMO said it would be a foolhardy exercise to speculate on the same. He gave a global perspective of the security scenario and where India stands in it. He touched upon various global scenarios and detailed the various aspects where India is dependent on other countries. 

Gen. Raghavan highlighted India's energy pool, 80 percent of which comes from West Asia, Iran in particular. In the process of explaining how the supply of oil might be affected by 'Arab Spring', he termed these protests as 'growth revolution', since most Arab States were previously governed by monarchs or dictators, who cared little about the growth of the country. 

Another aspect that Gen Raghavan discussed pertained to the US-Russia relations, especially in the recent context of Ukraine-Crimea developments. He claimed that the Crimea case is a 'carbon-copy' of the Georgia case, where the Americans went in with NATO. He added that no EU nation was willing to fund NATO.

While discussing Ukraine, he said that India has a close relationship with the erstwhile State in the dismantled USSR. Tanks manufactured in Ukraine are used in the armed forces in India. He took the focus back to Russia-EU relations and said the inter-dependence of both is very high, and is unlikely that a war situation would develop. But he added that a new form of cold war-like situation was developing between Russia and the US.

Arms race in SE Asia

Gen Raghavan took the discussion to South-East Asia, to countries like the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore, where a plausible arms race is underway. On South Asia, he focussed on Pakistan, China and India. He observed that Pakistan, which was previously a major non-NATO ally of the US, is increasingly becoming a non-NATO, non-ally. 

Gen Raghavan spoke extensively about the relations between China and Pakistan. He said the Chinese are as much concerned as Pakistan regarding Taliban after the pull-out of NATO troops from Afghanistan this year. The Chinese have significantly invested in Pakistan, and Taliban have their eyes on Pakistan. 

With regard to India-China border-dispute, Gen Raghavan said that it is hard to say whether or not a war-situation would arise. The Chinese have several interests in India, he pointed out, for them to upset the apple-cart.

(This report is prepared by Ramalingam Va, Second Year, B.A. (Journalism & Mass Communication), S R M University, Chennai)

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