SEMINAR HOPPING WEEK
1. On retirement recently I have shifted to Dwarka from the comfort zone of Dhaula Kuan Part 1. Though one is mentally prepared for the paradigm shift, even then you feel the jhatka. You realize how thoroughly one has been spoiled by the great Indian Army where everything is catered for. Getting a plumber for a small repair job made my life no easier, On top of it staying inside the house 24 hours is not good for own health and family.
2. So I decided to attend some seminars/ round table discussions last week.
3. On Tuesday 5th Nov I went to Taj Mahal Hotel at Man Singh Road to attend a Panel Discussion on "Innovate in India" organized by ORF. It had an impressive array of speakers like Bibek Debroy, Kenneth Frazier, Chairman and CEO, Merck and Co, USA, Robert Shapiro, Senior Fellow, Georgetown University and former US Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, US Government, Manish Sabharwal, Chairman, TeamLease Services, India. Deb Roy gave the key note address and enthusiastically engaging in discussions. Innovation, IPR, WTO, Skill Development , …. The foreign speakers had their own agenda which was understandable. Deb Roy asserted that it is the Govt’s job to provide world class infrastructure. But let the market decide where the innovations should take place. Govt has no role in it. Something Gurcharan Das has been telling for a long time. I found Manish Sabharwal’s talk very interesting on skill development. Though I raised my hand during Q&A Session, understandably the foreign delegates were given chance to speak. I had following comments / questions in mind :
- IPR is all right for money making, what happens for common good of the people. There are so many instances where inventors have shared their invention free for benefit of mankind. We have ongoing issues with Basmati Rice, Earlier we had problems with haldi, neem, ayurveda and even yoga!
- Will the Govt consider education also as critical infrastructure. India is not Luyten’sDelhi. Please visit any district/ sub divisional towns in the heartland of India and see the state of education. People getting out from there are simply unemployable.
- Lot of work is being done on skill development. It is too early to comment. How is the natural aptitude is being utilized for placing an individual to a particular skill set. It seems everything is market driven.
4. On 4th November there was as heavy duty seminar by CLAWS in conjunction with ARTRAC held at USI. All the hoi polloi of Army were there! The first session till lunch was chaired by Prof Gautam Sen. As his wont he handled the session deftly. Except one, speakers were excellent in their deliberations and there were some searching questions. I also decided to join the bandwagon and raised the following issues as comments and questions.
- Everybody was talking of 2004 and 2010 doctrine. People have forgotten that the first IA doctrine was published by ARTRAC during Lt Gen Oberoi’s time as Army Commander ARTRAC. It had a red cover page. Requested ARTRAC when the new doctrine gets published they should at least supersede the older one which has not been done.
- The process of strategy / doctrine making normally is : National Security Strategy( signed by head of the state in our case the PM to be made by NSCS) à National Defence Strategy to be made by MoD signed by RM à National Military Strategy made by HQ IDS followed by joint doctrine. The individual services doctrine should come out of the broad parameters of joint doctrine, so is the case of others eg. NDS should come out of NSS and so on. In our case we are all talking of NSS and Army Doctrine what about the other missing links.
- We may also like to have a look at how Indian Navy has published National Maritime Doctrine though there is no NSS. MoD has neither approved it, nor rejected it. But it is there! In our case Army doctrine is made independently. Actually it does not matter as long as it is there. Strategies and doctrines are generic in nature. NSS covers all non traditional security issues like energy, health, economic, environment, water security etc . NSS of USA is only of 29 pages.
- We need to be practical. Do we really believe that as per our newly formulated doctrine we will reorg our force structure, our capacity building, our training, our personal policies. We know how our procurement takes place, how we function. Come on, this is an academic exercise only. The chair interrupted and asked me what is my recommendations. I replied I had already forwarded that in the form of an e mail as Eliot Cohen gave his testimony in the Senate Armed Services Committee meeting on 22 Oct 2015 only. He said rather getting into fruitless periodic exercise of writing the QDR they should try to do the following :
Remake our system for selecting and promoting general officer
Renew professional military education at the top.
Overhaul the current system for producing strategy documents on a regular basis.
- I drew the attention of a slide shown by Lt Gen Anil Chait where the recent statement of NSA was shown wherein for 4 GW police is being designated as lead agency. Have we already left that space for the police without contesting? We do not want to do CI Ops, govt keeps on increasing CAPF, we do not want to be the lead agency, NDRF has been created. We will still do riot control at the drop of a hat, recent example is there, there is no graduated response, no CAPF, Military became first responder. Same with Disaster Management. What is our take. Karna kya hai.
The most interesting observation came from a civilian a retired official from Finance. He asked has there been any study carried out about the effect of the doctrines published earlier in 5 years time frame. What are the financial effects. He also told me in lunch break, everybody is taliking about Arth shashtra but forgets it is the economy which drives everything! Understandably there was no response to his query from anybody.
5. On 5th Nov I attended CLAWS – Carnegie – Stimson Dialog org by CLAWS. It was an excellent one. The panel was very good. Walter Ladwig III was there. I had circulated his papers on India’s Strategic Options and earlier India’s cold start doctrine, both outstanding papers. It was nice to listen to ex SFC C in C and now Director CLAWS asserting that Indian Army will fight through Tac Nuc Weapons, if it happens, and willing to take on the casualty. The political leadership is aware of what is required to be done and will take action accordingly. One only wish, in view of the recent nuc saber rattling by Pak somebody responsible from the Govt does give some response and send signals across. After all signaling is very important.
6. Prof Gautam Sen before leaving gave some comments and not questions, as he emphasized. These were :
- Is there any methodology to measure intent.
- Capacity building, innovation, infrastructure development are of no significance unless there is intent to use it.
- To Varun Sahney in an asymmetric conflict on nuc issues Pak can come to the red line. He should not stop there, please elaborate on what will happen in case of a nuc war.
- What is the micro miniaturization that has been done to deliver a TNW through arty shell. What is the flexibility.
- To Monica Chansoria : She began well with Marxist theory and Mao to Xi Jinping ’s thought of China producing capability of deterrence. She should postulate what the new regime going to do. Imposition of economic and strategic conglomeration through one road one belt and other means is not like to succeed because of political compulsions.
7. I raised the following points ;
No two democracies have ever fought war, no two nuc powered states have either. The closest that happened was in Kargil which was localized and IA and IAF did not cross LC. PAF was not in picture. It is the most potential nuc flash point where whole world is concerned.
I drew their attention to the Shasank Joshi’s paper in CSIS where he writes that there is a calculation by Ashley Tellis which suggests that Pakistan would need as many as 436 nuclear weapons of 15 kiloton yield to destroy at least half of a single Indian armored division. Since the size of the Nasr missile indicates it could only accommodate warheads of much smaller yield than this, these requirements grow more onerous still. Indians assume that two ordinary, non tactical nuclear weapons dropped from Pakistani F /16 aircraft could effectively halt an armored division/ the tanks could get through a nuclear battlefield but their supply lines could not, and Indian forces could not disperse quickly enough anyway. Indian armored divisions are assumed to move at a speed of approximately 20 kilometers per hour. In the several minutes it would take to target and drop a bomb, Indian tanks could not disperse more than a few kilometers. That would be within the range of, say, a 15 kiloton device. Every year our armd formations do exercises, the terrain is known, is there a study which can tell us how many TNWs will be required to stop, say one Armd Div. We have three, all poised against Pak. As per India what is the red line for Pak. Ladwig said that Zimmerman had carried out some analysis at Princeton and he will send the paper. And promptly he sent me that paper next day. Interested?
China very effectively has boxed in India by giving Pak nuc technology and delivery means of Missiles through North Korea. They are providing another reactor now. There is news of deployment of ballistic missiles in TAR. What is the chance of China giving DF 21 or DF 26 to Pak. It will be a complete game changer, our Career battle groups will be in range and will have grave repercussions.
China is a cyber super power. Is there any information whether China shares their cyber expertise with Pak.
8. George Perkovich made some very interesting observation. He said the questionof Pak use of TNW arises when IA fights within Pak territory. Can we take recourse to other means like international pressure, financial sanctions, other economic measures to attain the same objective.
9. On 7th Nov I attended an international conference on India and WW I org by Shiv Nader University and USI. It was for two days first day in USI and second day at SNU. Since SNU is beyond Greater Noida they provided us transport to go from USI and Arun Vihar Institute in NOIDA to SNU. I was highly impressed by this initiative where the academia was partnering such an event. There was enthusiastic participation from the students of SNU. The panels were excellent including scholars from France and Belgium I have been following the writing of Dr Kaushik Roy of Jadavpur University and it was nice to interact with him. One really gets impressed by their knowledge om matters military . I asked him about Apoorva Kundu who wrote a seminal book on India’s Martyr class system and Sunil Dasgupta. His observations on Combat Motivation interms of Pre Combat and In combat was extremely interesting. I picked up the word homo erotic bond of German soldiers. Some of the statistics like the number of casualties the allies, the Germans took proportional to their population was mind boggling
10. The Vice Chancellor of SNU very proudly in his inaugural address talked about 2/Lt Girish Narain Singh who joined IA in 1947 and fought in all the major wars. He emphasized that his father was from 3rd Kumaon Rifles not Regt and how Sharon Day used to be observed.
11. Some of the facts which came out are ;
- More than 50% soldiers were from the then Punjab consisting of Sikhs, Jats, Dogras, Ahirs and Punjabi Mussalmans.
- At the outbreak of WWI strength of IA was 2, 39, 561 incl 77,000 Britishers, it was quickly increased to 1.4 million .
- There was a very huge number of people who went as labour force.
- Max number of people were in Middle East, Mesopotamia, but we get more coverage of European battlefields.
12. On 7th there was recitation of letters from Indian soldiers, an art exhibition by Sumantra Sengupta and a panel discussion.
13. I had given the following comments ;
In defence of why there was not much importance given to WWI post independence I drew the attention to the following;
For whatever reason mostly wrongly the political class wanted to keep armed forces away from mainstream. The happenings like military rule at Pak, Burma and other countries post WWII did not help.
Countries which got independence Post WW-II, there are not many countries which has done better than India.
In 1918, during the same time Jalianwala Bag massacre took place. It is Indian Army’s Gorkha soldiers who fired at the peaceful gathering. There were deep wounds which take time to heal.
After WW-II INA soldiers were put on trial, no less than Jawharlal Nehru probably for the first time wore the black coat and pleaded their case, but INA soldiers were not rehabilitated in Indian Army.
Requested them to put these excellent papers in the web so that everybody can read those.
14. Though it was Saturday when we went to SNU, it was worth the effort.
15. Who said, there is no free lunch? Every day of the week I had sumptuous lunch. To compensate I had to play tennis in the afternoons followed by getting caught in Delhi’s mad traffic jams of Diwali shopping. Driving to Dwarka specially approach to Dwarka fly over was a painstaking effort. And boy, after all these in the day what a sleep I had everyday.
16. I think I have to take a break from seminar hopping!