0115 966 7955 Today's Opening Times 10:00 - 20:00 (BST)

National Power Or Military Power?

Published: Last Edited:

Disclaimer: This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers. You can view samples of our professional work here.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

The international system today is an interplay of national power of different nations. This can be felt in the emerging world order. There has been a perceptible change, particularly during the last two decades, in the manner the nation states conduct international relations. Military alliances have given way to multilateral groupings, understandings and strategic partnerships. Nations are becoming increasingly aware of the power or influence that they wield vis-à-vis other nations. [1] 

They are also looking at the ways and means to use this national power to secure their vital interests. In the later part of last century, National Power was only considered to be military power as can be understood by the superpower status of Soviet Union. But the disintegration of the Soviet empire and changing face of world relations due to economic globalization changed the world perception and brought the term 'Comprehensive National Power'. This term was more inclusive of the overall state of the affairs of a nation and a measure of its constituents could indicate the strength and weaknesses. [2] 

National Power has tangible and intangible elements. Geography, natural resources, industrial capacity, population, military power form the tangible parts while national character and morale complete the intangibles. India's economy has contributed in the last two decades towards a major share of the National power. In fact, India has even demonstrated certain soft power by cooption and attraction of other nations to achieve some of its aims. The primary currencies of soft power are an actor's values, culture, policies and institutions. India's soft power is based on its social and cultural values, the Indian Diaspora abroad and its knowledge base. India is being considered a knowledge superpower and is well placed to leverage its position in international relations. However, the military has also contributed towards the soft power. A well-run military has been a source of attraction, and military-to-military cooperation and training programmes, for example, have established transnational networks that enhance country's soft power.


Statement of Problem

The growth notwithstanding, India cannot afford to be satisfied with its current status. The geopolitical situation in the region is unstable. Though Pakistan has fewer options left after it has been exposed as a hub of terror activities and a haven for wanted terrorists, still if cornered by the world pressure and the internal compulsions it will not think twice in a military option against India to divert the attention and bring in its all weather friend , China, into the picture.

India can achieve its national aims only if the internal and external threats to its security is ensured. This situation can be understood with an analogy to game of soccer; a team may be having the best of strikers in their forward and midfielder players, who can score goals at will, but their efforts are inconsequential if the goalkeeper is not trained and equipped to save goals from adversary.

Thus, in the changing geopolitical situation, it is pertinent to evaluate the share of constituents of National Power to ascertain the future dynamics of a nation's aspirations and interests and the regional environment.

India has already made tremendous progress in various fields to achieve soft power constituent to contribute towards National Power. Indian economy is showing positive growth and attracting strategic partnership with leading economies around the globe.India , now needs to develop the military constituent to further pursue its National aim.


India needs to develop a potent Military capability by the year 2025 to be able to assert its National Power in keeping with the stated National objectives.

Methods of Data Collection

9. The data for this dissertation has been collected from a large number of books, periodicals, magazines, newspapers, internet and research journals that are available in the Defence Services Staff College library. The data related to Indian Military Power has been collected from open sources only so as to avoid any classified information to be brought out. The Bibliography is attached as Appendix.

Organisation of the Dissertation

Apart from a chapter on the introduction and methodology, the dissertation has been organized under the following chapters:-


Section 1. National Power.

Section 2. India's National Power.

Section 3. Constituents Of Indian National Power.


Section 1. Elements of Military Power.

Section 2. Present State Of Indian Defence Forces.

Section 3. Defence Budget And Modernisation Program.


Section 1. Analysis.

Section 2. Intra Organisaton Level.

Section 3. Shortcoming As A National Instrument.

Section 4. Recommendations .


Section 1. Geopolitical situation and regional environment In 2025.

Section 2. India's Predicted Growth By 2025.

Section 3. Desired National Power.

Chapter 2- Examining the constituent of Indian National Power. The present Indian standing in the world order is based on the soft power developed and the economic growth achieved by India. India as rising economy, offers excellent investment opportunity to the world. The democratic form of governance also projects India as stable and secure investment site in the long run. However we need to examine the constituents and their present share towards National Power.

Chapter 3- Military Power. It itself comprises the tangibles and the intangibles. It can be broadly categorized in force capability and force employment. There has been a change in war fighting. The technological advancement ,weapon lethality, destructiveness and precision along with the information frontier has increased the cost factor of going to war. Thus there is a need to analyse the military power constituents to understand the importance towards national Power.

Chapter 4- Analysis and Short comings of Indian Military Power. To suggest steps towards projecting a stronger military power the present capability needs to be analysed and the shortcoming to be highlighted.

Chapter 5- Desired National Power by 2025. The regional environment in the near future entails proactive approach by India to project comprehensive national power to have secured borders and assured growth to achieve its national aims .



National Power

1. The international system today.is an interplay of national power of different nations. There has been a perceptible change.in the manner the nation states conduct International relations. Military alliances have given way to multilateral groupings, understandings and strategic partnerships. Nations are becoming increasingly.aware of the power or influence that they weild.vis-à-vis other nations.

2. During 1960 and 70s most theorists.doing research on international relations avoided dealing.with phenomenon of power. National power was considered synonymous.with military power. This would explain to a great extent the superpower status.of erstwhile Soviet Union and its unexpected disintegration. Since then perception of national power.has undergone a change. It is called as comprehensive National power by the theorists which is a more inclusive term comprising all the facets of a nation's resources which contribute towards its security.

Defining National Power

3. National power is the ability of a nation with the use of which.it can get its will obeyed by other nations. It involves the capacity to use force.or threat of use of force over other nations. With the use of national power, a nation is able to control.the behavior of other nations in accordance with its own will. In other words, it denotes the ability of a nation.to fulfill its national goals. It also tells us how much powerful or weak.a particular nation is in securing its national goals.

Basic Elements Of National Power

4. The basic elements of national power include diplomacy, economics, informational, soft power and the age old trustworthy element of military power. It can also be classified as comprising of tangible elements and intangible elements. Geography, natural resources, industrial capacities, population, military power form the tangible elements of national power and national character and morale complete the intangibles.

India's National Power

5. In international politics, the image of India till recently used to be in terms.of its perennial rivalry with Pakistan and as power confined to South Asia only. However, as result of the remarkable improvement.in India's national strength over the last decade, consisting of.its hard and soft powers, the world has started rehyphenating India.with a rapidly growing China. The term rising India is a buzzword in the International Relations discourse nowadays. India's national power has begun to rise steadily.since Pokhran-II. India unleashed a slew of path-breaking initiatives.in quick succession in 1998 (and beyond). It was from this year onwards that the idea of India being a great power,.first floated by Nehru, started to be reflected in its foreign policy. Admittedly, India shifted its foreign and economic policies.soon after the end of the Cold War in 1991 when it started broadbasing.its diplomacy, initiated economic reforms by dismantling the economic model.based on import substitution, and went for market friendly policies. The economic reforms did give India economic stability.in the sense that India started growing at 6% annually.ever since the economic liberalization of early 1990s, however, political stability remained fragile. The country got much-needed political stability.at the center in March 1998 and a series of radical initiatives in quick succession beginning with the nuclear tests in the Pokhran desert of Rajasthan on May 11th and 13th 1998, was a grand strategic masterstroke by independent India. India initiated Multi-aligned/Great power diplomacy.for the first time in its independent history when it developed strategic partnerships.with all the great powers simultaneously, especially its relations with the United States and Japan, while retaining time-tested ties with Russia. India made institutional arrangements to its national security.when it set up the National Security.Advisory Board, National Security.Council, Nuclear Command Authority, developed a.nuclear doctrine, and so on.

6. More importantly, India developed a much needed strategic vision.whereby it redefined its geo-strategic.construct well beyond the mainland of South Asia. The comprehensive geo-strategic.construct included the Indian Ocean, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific. In fact, the 1998 nuclear tests themselves were indicative of the fact that India had begun to appreciate the role of hard power in securing its national interests and also in making her influence heard in international politics.

7. The India, that China defeated.in 1962 was guided by a foreign policy canon of non-alignment.vis -à-vis the superpower enmity, and it remained the cornerstone of India's international.diplomacy for more than four decades. However, this foreign policy paradigm underwent.a U-turn when it metamorphosed into poly/multi-alignment under the new leadership.in New Delhi in 1998. The new foreign policy outlook.broadly had two components, namely, improving relations with the US and its Look East Policy-II. The turnaround in India-US relations from being "estranged democracies" during the Cold War to "engaged democracies" in the 2000s has played a central role in bringing out a shift in China's India posture over the last decade. India has been a democracy right since its birth as a modern nation-state in 1947. However, its sluggish economic growth and weak military profile that led to its defeat in 1962 seriously stained this aspect of India's soft power.

8. With the rising India story, its democracy as an important component of its soft power has again come into the global limelight. India has more than 1 billion people. It is linguistically, culturally, racially, and religiously diverse, and it is growing economically at an enviable pace under democratic governmental institutions (except for the emergency period of 1975-77 when civil liberties were undermined). Its culture values peaceful coexistence, nonviolence, and religious tolerance. All of these factors, combined with the largest pool of English speakers outside the US, has increased India's power of attraction without need for coercion or persuasion, a fact not lost on an envious, hard power-minded China. The country to which India has projected most of its soft power is the US, through the export of highly skilled manpower, consisting mainly of software developers, engineers, and doctors.

9. In military terms, post-1998 India has been enjoying strategic capital, in the sense that, unlike the rise of China, India's military rise is not only not feared but it is felt to be desirable by the countries in the Asia-Pacific like Japan, Australia, South Korea, and ASEAN as a group. Most importantly even the US sees India's military rise in its own interests.28 Interestingly, a rising India is making full use of this capital by emerging as a formidable military power over the last decade, apart from unveiling even more ambitious military plans for the future



Military Power

1. Military Power is military dimension of national power. National power embodies soft persuasive or attractive elements as well as its hard or military component. Military power can itself mean different things in different contexts; as military forces do different things ranging from defending national territory to invading other states; countering terrorists or insurgents, keeping the peace, enforcing economic sanctions, maintain domestic order. Proficiency in one task does not entail proficiency in all as good defenders of national territory can make poor peacekeepers and also may not be able to conquer neighbours.

2. Since beginning of civilization, military power has been the primary instruement nation states have used to control and dominate each other. With the growth of technology, the destructiveness of military power has reached apocalyptic proportions.

3. Throughout history, military power has been paramount and economic power a luxury. This has slowly changed to the point that the two roles have been reversed. Japan, China have relied on economic prosperity to finance formidable military forces. Conversely, erstwhile Soviet Union, Iraq and North Korea have relied on their military to build economic power with little or limited success.

4. Military power is the capacity to use force or threat of force to influence other states. Components of military power for a nation include number of military formations, armaments, organization, training, equipment, readiness, deployment and morale.

Elements of Military Power

5. Elements of military power are worked out on the basis of military capability of nations. It includes numerical preponderance, technology and force employment. . Numerical preponderance has been exemplified in yesteryears; Napolean said ,

"God is on the side of the big battalion"

6. It is generally believed that states with larger population, more developed economies, larger military should prevail in battle. This is association of victory with material preponderance and beneath this lies the widespread perception that economic strength is precondition for military strength; that economic decline leads to military weakness and that economic policies merit co equal treatment with political and military considerations in national strategy making. Military preparedness requires a military (establishment) capable of supporting the foreign policy of a nation. Contributory factors are - technology,leadership, quality and size of the armed forces.

(a) Technology. The development and adoption of firearms, tanks, guns

and aircraft have had a profound effect on the course of battles. To illustrate,

if one reads the review of British operations during the initial stages of the

Second World War, which Churchill gave in the secret session of parliament

on 23 April 1942,one is struck by the fact that all defeats on land, on sea and

in air have one common denominator-the disregard of technological

capabilities being developed by Germans and the Japanese during the pre-war

years. The U-boats played havoc with the British shipping and adversely

affected their ability to move forces from one theatre of war to another, as

also to sustain them. Conversely, the development of radar technology by the

British during the war years gave them enormous advantage over their

enemies. In the present-day context, capabilities in cyber warfare, space

assets and smart strike weapons will give a great edge to the powers that are

able to develop and operationalise such technologies.

(b) Leadership. The quality of military leadership has always exerted a

decisive influence upon national power. We have the examples of the military

genius of Fredrick the Great, Napoleon, the futility of Maginot Line psychology

of the French General Staff versus the "blitzkrieg" adopted by the German

General Staff, and closer home the effect of superior military leadership led

by Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw in India's 1971 War with Pakistan.

(c) Quality and Size of the Armed Forces. The importance of this factor is

obvious. However, the question that has to be answered by the political

leadership of the country is, how large a military establishment can a nation

afford in view of its resources and commitments or national interests?



Much has been written and said about the potential for Indian military power to play a greater role on the world stage, and perhaps check China's expanding capabilities in the future.National Security has attained multi-faceted dimensions with wider challenges in diverse fields.There has been growing understandings of these challenges and consequently measures are being taken to overcome the same. India's remarkable economic growth and newfound access to arms from abroad have raised the prospect of a major rearmament of the country. But without several policy and organizational changes, India's efforts to modernize its armed forces will not alter the country's ability to deal with critical security threats. India's military modernization needs a transparent, legitimate and efficient procurement process. Further, a chief of defense staff could reconcile the competing priorities across the three military services. Finally, India's defense research agencies need to be subjected to greater oversight.

India's rapid economic growth and newfound access to military technology, especially by way of its rapprochement with the United States, have raised hopes of a military revival in the country. Against this optimism about the rise of Indian military power stands the reality that India has not been able to alter its military-strategic position despite being one of the world's largest importers of advanced conventional weapons for three decades.

Civil-military relations in India have focused too heavily on one side of the problem - how to ensure civilian control over the armed forces, while neglecting the other - how to build and field an effective military force. This imbalance in civil-military relations has caused military modernization and reforms to suffer from a lack of political guidance, disunity of purpose and effort and material and intellectual corruption.

The Effects of Strategic Restraint

Sixty years after embarking on a rivalry with Pakistan, India has not been able to alter its strategic relationship with a country less than one-fifth its size. India's many counterinsurgencies have lasted twenty years on an average, double the worldwide average. Since the 1998 nuclear tests, reports of a growing missile gap with Pakistan have called into question the quality of India's nuclear deterrent. The high point of Indian military history - the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971- therefore, stands in sharp contrast to the persistent inability of the country to raise effective military forces.

No factor more accounts for the haphazard nature of Indian military modernization than the lack of political leadership on defense, stemming from the doctrine of strategic restraint. Key political leaders rejected the use of force as an instrument of politics in favor of a policy of strategic restraint that minimized the importance of the military.

The Government of India held to its strong anti-militarism despite the reality of conflict and war that followed independence. Much has been made of the downgrading of the service chiefs in the protocol rank, but of greater consequence was the elevation of military science and research as essential to the long-term defense of India over the armed forces themselves. Nehru invited British physicist P.M.S. Blackett to examine the relationship between science and defense. Blackett came back with a report that called for capping Indian defense spending at 2 percent of GDP and limited military modernization. He also recommended state funding and ownership of military research laboratories and established his protégé, Daulat Singh Kothari, as the head of the labs.

Indian defense spending decreased during the 1950s. Of the three services, the Indian Navy received greater attention with negotiations for the acquisition of India's first aircraft carrier. The Indian Air Force acquired World War II surplus Canberra transport. The Indian Army, the biggest service by a wide margin, went to Congo on a UN peacekeeping mission, but was neglected overall. India had its first defense procurement scandal when buying old jeeps and experienced its first civil-military crisis when an army chief threatened to resign protesting political interference in military matters. The decade culminated in the government's 'forward policy' against China, which Nehru foisted on an unprepared army, and led to the war of 1962 with China that ended in a humiliating Indian defeat.

The foremost lesson of 1962 was that India could not afford further military retrenchment. The Indian government launched a significant military expansion program that doubled the size of the army and raised a fighting air force. With the focus shifting North, the Indian Navy received less attention. A less recognized lesson of the war was that political interference in military matters ought to be limited. The military - and especially the army - asked for and received operational and institutional autonomy, a fact most visible in the wars of 1965 and 1971.

The problem, however, was that the political leadership did not suddenly become more comfortable with the military as an institution; they remained wary of the possibility of a coup d'etat and militarism more generally.

The Indian civil-military relations landscape has changed marginally since. In the eighties, there was a degree of political-military confluence in the Rajiv Gandhi government: Rajiv appointed a military buff, Arun Singh, as the minister of state for defense. At the same time, Krishnaswami Sundarji, an exceptional officer, became the army chief. Together they launched an ambitious program of military modernization in response to Pakistani rearmament and nuclearization. Pakistan's nuclearization allowed that country to escalate the subconventional conflict in Kashmir while stemming Indian ability to escalate to a general war, where it had superiority. India is yet to emerge from this stability-instability paradox.

The puzzle of Brasstacks stands in a line of similar decisions. In 1971, India did not push the advantage of its victory in the eastern theatre to the West. Instead, New Delhi, underuberrealist Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, signed on to an equivocal agreement at Simla that committed both sides to peaceful resolution of future disputes without any enforcement measures. India's decision to wait 24 years between its first nuclear test in 1974 and the second set of tests in 1998 is equally puzzling. Why did it not follow through after the 1974 test, and why did it test in 1998?

Underlying these puzzles is a remarkable preference for strategic restraint. Indian leaders simply have not seen the use of force as a useful instrument of politics. This foundation of ambivalence informs Indian defense policy, and consequently its military modernization and reform efforts.

To be sure, military restraint in a region as volatile as South Asia is wise and has helped persuade the great powers to accommodate India's rise, but it does not help military planning. Together with the separation of the armed forces from the government, divisions among the services and between the services and other related agencies, and the inability of the military to seek formal support for policies it deems important, India's strategic restraint has served to deny political guidance to the efforts of the armed forces to modernize. As wise as strategic restraint may be, Pakistan, India's primary rival, hardly believes it to be true. Islamabad prepares as if India were an aggressive power and this has a real impact on India's security.

Domestic And Regional Constraints

India faces several daunting domestic and border challenges within its own neighborhood that may prevent it from thinking more globally - including the unresolved issue of Kashmir, an increasingly grave Maoist threat, Islamic terrorism from Pakistan, and unresolved border issues with China which broke out in war in 1962. Beijing's effort to beef up its presence in South Asia is also seen as challenging Indian dominance there.

The Lack of Strategy

India's military modernization remains, and likely will continue to be, an a-strategic pursuit of new technology with little vision. There is a whole host of problems that the nation faces, including:

Little political guidance from the civilian leadership to the military. This is true even on the general issue of what India's major goals should be. Even the Indian navy, which is often assumed to be the most forward thinking institution within India's military, does not see itself as more than a "naval blockade" vis-à-vis Pakistan.

Lack of organizational and institutional reforms. The need to reprioritize resources is never addressed, what is addressed is the procurement of new material, thus making modernization merely an exercise in linear expansion.

No legitimate and transparent procurement system. As a result, purchases are often ridden with scandals, corrupt, delayed and highly politicized. India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is also "a failed organization that is ideologically corrupt", but there has not been an honest attempt to put it under public scrutiny.

Imbalance in Civil-Military Relations

What suffices for a military modernization plan is a wish list of weapon systems amounting to as much as $100 billion from the three services and hollow announcements of coming breakthroughs from the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the premier agency for military research in India.

The process is illustrative. The armed forces propose to acquire certain weapon systems. The political leadership and the civilian bureaucracy, especially the Ministry of Finance, react to these requests, agreeing on some and rejecting others. A number of dysfunctions ensue.

First, the services see things differently and their plans are essentially uncoordinated. Coming off the experience of the Kargil war and Operation Parakram, the Indian Army seems to have arrived at a Cold Start doctrine, seeking to find some fighting space between subconventional conflict and nuclear exchange in the standoff with Pakistan. The doctrine may not be official policy, but it informs the army's wish list, where attack helicopters, tanks and long-range artillery stand out as marquee items. The Indian Air Force (IAF), meanwhile, is the primary instrument of the country's nuclear deterrent. The IAF's close second role is air superiority and air defense. Close air support, to which the IAF has belatedly agreed and which is essential to the army's Cold Start doctrine, is a distant fourth.

The Indian Navy wants to secure the country's sea-lanes of communications, protect its energy supplies and guard its trade routes. It wants further to be the vehicle of Indian naval diplomacy and sees a role in the anti-piracy efforts in the Malacca Straits and the Horn of Africa. What is less clear is how the Indian Navy might contribute in the event of a war with Pakistan. The navy would like simply to brush past the problem of Pakistan and reach for the grander projects. Accordingly, the Indian Navy's biggest procurement order is a retrofitted aircraft carrier from Russia.

India's three services have dramatically different views of what their role in India's security should be, and there is no political effort to ensure this coordination. Cold Start remains an iffy proposition. India's nuclear deterrent remains tethered to a single delivery system: fighter aircraft. Meanwhile, the Indian Army's energies are dissipated with counterinsurgency duties, which might increase manifold if the army is told to fight the rising leftist insurgency, the Naxalites. And all this at a time when the primary security threat to the country has been terrorism. After the Mumbai attacks, the Indian government and the people of India are said to have resolved to tackle the problem headlong, but today the government's minister in charge of internal security, Palaniappan Chidambaram, is more under siege himself than seizing the hidden enemy.

Second, despite repeated calls for and commissions into reforms in the higher defense structure, planning, intelligence, defense production and procurement, the Indian national security establishment remains fragmented and uncoordinated. The government and armed forces have succeeded in reforms primed by additions to the defense budget but failed to institute reforms that require changes in organization and priorities.

The Kargil Review Committee, and the Group of Ministers report that followed, for example, recommended a slew of reforms. The changes most readily implemented were those that created new commands, agencies and task forces, essentially linear expansion backed by new budgetary allocations. The changes least likely to occur were those required changes in the hierarchy.

The most common example of tough reform is the long-standing recommendation for a chief of defense staff. A military chief, as opposed to the service chiefs, could be a solution to the problem that causes the three services not to reconcile their priorities. However, political leaders have rejected the creation of the position of military commander-in-chief, mainly for fear of giving a military officer too much power. Instead of a chief of defense staff, the government has tried to install an integrated defense staff that is supposed to undertake reconciliation between the services, but which really is a toothless body with little influence.

Lastly, the Ministry of Defense has a finance section deputed by the Ministry of Finance. This section oversees all defense expenditures, even after they have been authorized. Once the cabinet has approved a spending item, what authority does the section have to turn down requests? However, the finance section raises questions of propriety, wisdom and policy that should under normal circumstances be under the purview of the defense minister.

No Legitimate Procurement Process

Corruption in weapons procurement has been a political issue since the mid-1980s, when allegations of a series of paybacks in the purchase of Bofors artillery, HDW submarines and other items mobilized an opposition that removed Rajiv Gandhi from power in 1989. Since then, Indian political leaders have tried hard not to appear to be corrupt, going out of their way to slow down new purchases.

However, corruption is still a problem, as shown in the 2001 Tehelka expose of political leaders accepting bribes in return for defense contracts. Recently, Uday Bhaskar, the Indian Navy officer and defense analyst, wrote bitingly that for a number of years now the armed forces, which desperately need modernization, have been returning unspent funds to the treasury.

There is widespread recognition that corruption is morally venal and detrimental to the cause of Indian security. We believe, however, that the second- and third-order problems of corruption have unacknowledged impact on military modernization and capacity. The Defense Procurement Manual and Procedures on the Ministry of Defense's website are the first steps in the right direction, but the Indian government has generally failed to build a transparent and legitimate procurement process.

The deep roots of corruption extend to military research and development and to the heart of India's foreign relations. Since the mid-1970s, however, the DRDO embarked on a number of ambitious and well-funded projects to build a fighter aircraft, a tank, and missiles. All three projects floundered.

While the aircraft and tank projects have largely failed, the missile program is considered successful. The reputation of the success carried the director of the missile program, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, to the presidency. Yet in 2010, no Indian missile in the arsenal of the armed forces has managed to alter the strategic equation with Pakistan or China. The Prithvi short-range missile is not useful because of its range and liquid fuel needs. The longer-range Agni models have gone through numerous tests without entering the army's arsenal. Other variations, such as Nag and Akash, have limited strategic purpose.

The virtual monopoly over military research in state-owned labs has meant that the abundant energies of the Indian private sector have remained outside the defense industry. Where in the United States, small and medium-sized defense contractors form the backbone of the research complex, India is far from thinking along those lines. Despite recent efforts to include the private sector through various schemes, there continues to be distrust of private industry in the Indian defense establishment. We believe it is easier for a private foreign supplier to win a contract with the Ministry of Defense than it is for a small private Indian company to do so.

For decades, the Indian government has accepted dishonest promises made by DRDO as the basis for providing billions of dollars of support because of the persisting ideology of autarky. The greatest success of military research in India comes not from the DRDO, but from the Atomic Energy Commission, which built the nuclear devices. But the government has been unwilling to subject DRDO to public accountability. Instead, the head of DRDO serves as the defense minister's scientific adviser. The two positions - of supplier and adviser - bring inherent conflict of interest, but this has not been an issue in India at all.

The second pattern of systemic corruption comes from the inability of the Indian defense system to wean itself from the supply of Soviet/Russian equipment. The reasons why India initially went to the Soviet Union for weapons are well-known. The United States chose Pakistan, India went to the Soviet Union. But that political decision was reinforced by ideas about the corruption-free nature of the state-owned Soviet defense industry and the profit-mindedness of western, and especially American, firms.

This characterization has always been untrue. Soviet/Russian suppliers have engaged in as much corruption as western firms, but because the Soviet Union was a closed system, the corruption - which was reported first in the press in the supplier countries - was never really reported in the Soviet Union. This tradition continues, though the Russian free press has been more critical of the country's defense deals. Indeed, those who served as Indian 'agents' for the Soviet firms have highlighted the better business practice of Russians, a laughable matter in light of India's recent travails with the retrofit and sale of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov.

The tendency is reiterated in Indian preferences in dealing with the West as well. Western firms have always been seen as money-grubbing, an opinion that exists across the political spectrum and is prevalent in the civilian bureaucracy. New Delhi seems to prefer government-to-government foreign military sales, which are in turn causing some degree of protest from users who want longer-term maintenance arrangements with suppliers.

The political rapprochement between India and the United States has not yet filtered into the system for attitudes to change dramatically. India's growing military supply relationship with Israel is instructive. The most successful Israeli firm in the Indian market is Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a state-owned company. IAI was quick to adopt the Russian model of operation in India: offering the DRDO co-development opportunities to win contracts. In contrast, American firms are reluctant to work with, let alone transfer high-end technology to a state owned enterprise. They would prefer to set up a subsidiary in India, which could retain control of the technology.

India has been one of the biggest importers of advanced conventional weapons in the last thirty years, but this sustained rearmament has not altered India's strategic position. The armed forces push for modernization, but do not have the authority to mount the national campaign necessary for transforming the security condition of the country. Budget increases delivered by a rapidly expanding economy and access to western technology previously denied to India have led to optimism about Indian military power, but the dysfunction in India's civil-military relations reduces the impact of rearmament. Arming without aiming has some purpose in persuading other great powers of India's benign rise, but it cannot be the basis of military planning.



Geopolitical Situation and Regional Environment by 2025

1. As far as external.strategies are concerned, defence and foreign.affairs are two sides of the same coin. These strategies would cover.policy and capacity creation for the accomplishment of the missions.assigned to security strategy by national strategy.

2. What would be India's aims.for this period? What does India want to be, a global player, a regional player.or an inward looking isolationist country? Assuming that it wants to be a global actor - will the economic ability permit this.during the period under discussion?

3. Assumptions about India's aims that would have a direct bearing on threat perceptions are:-

(a) India does not propose to liberate the areas of its territory that it considers wrongly occupied by China; it will decide to resolve the issue by the process of 'give and take'.

(b) India believes that a loose South Asian Confederation of at least Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka is a viable entity by 2025.

(c) India does not discount solutions of the Kashmir problem that accept its autonomy if it is a part of a South Asian Confederation.

(d) India does not propose to militarily liberate the so called 'Azad Kashmir', currently occupied by Pakistan.

4. The Nuclear Threat To India.

(a) The Threat From Large Nuclear Powers. As far as the USA is concerned, there is a possibility of a clash of interests if there is a future divergence between India's interests in the region and those of the USA. However, there is no major nuclear threat from the USA.

(b) The Threat From Medium Nuclear Powers. China has made a 'no first use' declaration as far as nuclear weapons are concerned.

(c) The Threat From Small Nuclear Powers. Pakistan poses a considerable threat in the short haul. This is due to the exaggerated expectations entertained in that country, of the moral impact of her acquisition of nuclear weapons; and the resultant exuberance in fostering and supporting terrorism and insurgency in Kashmir, the Punjab, and other parts of India.

A Nuclear Strategy For India

For India, the doctrine of minimum deterrence with a declared 'no first use' and a city oriented second strike capability would suffice.

6. Conventional threats. Conventional threats from regional non-neighbours are likely to be purely at sea or sea borne and amphibious threats to peninsular India or island territories like the Andaman and Nicobar islands. These are however likely to be deterred by the possibility of big power intervention. The conventional threat from China is not a classic one of invasion of India. China and India have a border problem. There could be a major conventional border war only due to miscalculation or some unforeseen reason. As far as Pakistan goes, there is a great danger that any conventional hostilities between us could end up in a nuclear exchange.

India's Conventional Strategy

8. The Global Powers. The Indian strategy for this big power deterrence has to rest on four legs:-

(a) A prosperous and booming Indian economy offering a 'Big Emerging Market'.

(b) The capability of a limited Indian nuclear second strike against the regional forward deployed assets of the aggressor.

(c) An Indian naval capability in the North Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

(d) An Indian land-air capability of raising costs to unacceptable limits of any attempt at securing ports, air heads or triphibious lodgments in the subcontinent.

9. China. Generally, the Indian strategy for dealing with the Chinese during the entire period would have to be based on:

(a) A settled border that can be more easily defended with less forces than a disputed border that has to be protected.

(b) A strong dismissive land-air defensive posture on the border, with a land air counter offensive capability of hitting up to a limited depth.

(c) A strong enough multipurpose land-air reserve suitably positioned that can defeat any deep trans-Himalayan penetration.

(d) An Indian naval capability that can frustrate Chinese sea-borne threats to India's island territories and to sub-continental India.

10. Pakistan. Indian strategy for Pakistan would have to be based on the following:

(a) Settle the Kashmir problem to the satisfaction of all three parties, the Kashmiri people, India and Pakistan as early as possible.

(b) Engaged Pakistan increasingly in mutual trade and commerce, and invest industrially and commercially in each other's countries.

(c) Maintain very strong positional defences for dissuasion backed up by adequate land-air reserves for defence as well as for a local counter offensive in Jammu and Kashmir till a solution is found.

(d) Maintain an adequate land-air defensive posture along the Indo-Pak border.

11. National Aims And Interests. As a situation prevails today, India's primary concern and interests should be to safeguard its sovereignty, ensure its territorial integrity and internal stability. All three are badly threatened. A nation cannot call itself sovereign if its territories remain under forcible occupation of foreign countries in spite of having passed unanimous resolutions is in the Parliament affirming that such territories belonged to it. Except for periodic talks and vague statements, the Nation and its leaders have more or less reconciled to the fact that there is no reason to force the pace and that compromise is the only answer. The question of a military option does not arise, because it would be too costly! But the truth is that before this, all other interests are secondary: economic growth, maintenance of India's core values, secularism and removal of poverty. Continued retention of India's unity cannot be ensured without sovereignty and independence to make policy decisions.

12. Nonalignment. India's foreign policy was formulated on the basis of Nehru's assessment of a bipolar world. But today an appropriate policy framework has to be undertaken to advance India's interests and security in a multi-polar world. After independence there was a desire to keep aloof from power blocs, alliances and military pacts so as to preserve the nation's sovereignty and independence. Nehru, the architect of India's foreign policy, felt that the developing countries which are weak economically and militarily, would lose their identity and sovereignty if they joined any of the power blocs. They would be dominated by superpowers which would bring back colonialism, though in a different form. And this conviction led to a new option of nonalignment. The Americans were annoyed because of India's policy of nonalignment and its friendly forays with the USSR. They seem to have formed a view that anyone not with them was against them with the Communists, and that India was indirectly against the US.

13. The Chinese angle. The China bogey remains. There is distinct hesitation in saying anything on Taiwan, the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 or to tell the Chinese about the sale of M-11 missiles, assistance in nuclear technology and supply of other military hardware to Pakistan which has virtually started an arms race with India. Such issues in fact should have been listed in red ink on the agenda for serious discussions during President Jiang Zemin's visit to India in November 1996 and not just listed as a matter of course. But nothing of the sort took place. If the issues were mentioned at all, then the Chinese rejoinder was that such arms were not meant for use against India. This however is too simplistic to be accepted by a country of the stature of India. A group of experts have opined that India's foreign policy is mired in the past. If there is a lack of international image, it is because of an incoherent political leadership and incompetent foreign service personnel who are not clear as to what India's foreign policy priorities should be.

14. Foreign Policy Goals. External goals are the essence of any nation's foreign policy. India's foreign policy has centered around four goals since independence: the quest for security, diplomacy for development, regional primacy and the search for an international role. But when it comes to implementation and decision-making, an area of darkness shrouds it. Yet, no defence strategy has been drawn up so far, no national security doctrine formulated, no white paper published and the country remains without a defence policy. Today, nearly half a dozen defence agreements for joint exercises, joint ventures, supply of military hardware, and mutual cooperation in matters concerning defence have been signed with countries like Israel, Germany, Italy, the US, Russia, Brazil, France, etc. The policy of nonalignment is therefore dead. As regards economy, India has now shifted its thrust from an inward looking, import substitute economy to an outward looking, export oriented economy. Its economic reforms have been well attempted, but the results are yet to be seen. As regards regional dominance, India is one country that is either contiguous to or which has a large coastline with all the states of South Asia. Here India has an advantage over its northern neighbour, China, in that it does not have the type of difficulties and obstacles which China has in interacting with these countries. Therefore, geographically, no nation beyond the frontiers of Indian region can equal the advantages which India has. This leverage - at least theoretically - that India has over other countries of the region is therefore exceptionally powerful. But in spite of this, the military impasse in which India finds itself since its first encounter with Pakistan in 1947, the humiliating defeat its suffered at the hands of the Chinese and the Indian peacekeeping force (IPKF) withdrawal from Sri Lanka without achieving anything substantial have eroded India's image in South Asia. That India was not after all that powerful and therefore, other countries of the region started turning to others for counter balance reasons. Let us now look at some other countries which have interests in the region:-

(a) China. The US wants to ensure that China and Russia do not coalesce. A number of defence agreements have been signed between the Russian and Chinese Presidents for arms and technology sales to Beijing and joint ventures which have serious security implications for India. Also, China has been giving a great deal of military assistance to Pakistan. In fact, to put it bluntly, China has been and is trying to make Pakistan powerful enough to stand up to India, so that the latter is not in a position to adopt any aggressive posture towards China. And to cap it all, the US thinks that China should have a supervisory role in South Asia. India hence, should take up a strong deterrent posture against China with a second strike nuclear capability.

(b) Tibet. China is of course, quite clear on its policy on Tibet, while New Delhi's policy is ambivalent and vague and depends on the likely reaction from Beijing. India does not recognise the Tibetan government in exile and yet it has given all necessary facilities to this 'government' to function effectively. The Dalai Lama has been wanting to follow a middle path. He does not want total independence, but would be happy with an autonomous status within China. He has been asking for US help. Further, he is of the opinion that a process of democratisation in China will open up that country and encourage its support for Tibet.

(c) The United States. India has to constructively engage the US which it has not been doing so far. There is a rethink in the US now about India after it went nuclear and its concern about China. The US now wants India to sign the CTBT arguing that India has already conducted nuclear tests, while New Delhi wants to change the terms of the CTBT as a full fledged nuclear power. New Delhi has to make a positive effort to educate the US about its serious concerns regarding its territories under the occupation of China and Pakistan, the threats of arms supplies to Islamabad, likely Chinese naval activities in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal in the future and so on. So far, India has neglected an effective engagement with the US which can help the country in many ways to counter its security threats.

(d) Russia. A mistake India has been making is that it has confined its contacts only to government leaders and not those who are leading political parties outside the government, owing to a fear of annoying those in power. It is very evident now Russia will not intervene in case of any Indo-Pak or Sino-Indian conflict. Neither it is capable of coming to India's aid in both cases except for the purposes of mediation or supply of arms. Russia does not wish to lose its arms market in China as well as India.

(e) Pakistan. India has to take note of what happens in Pakistan- there is no alternative to it. Should Islamabad enter into any alliance with any country, it has to be analysed seriously in New Delhi. Pakistan's threats can disappear, only if India's leadership is more cohesive and competent. Pakistan will eschew war as an option if it gets a clear message as regards the consequences of such a war which could be as grave as the Bangladesh one. One way for India is to prepare to use its military option to take back POK while the initiative to launch an all-out offensive against India is left to Pakistan of which it is incapable today. Meanwhile, the support being provided by Pakistan in Kashmir should be dealt with by strong diplomatic and military pro-action. Pakistan is not in a position to launch an offensive against India without US support. To neutralize this, Indian diplomacy must activate itself.

(f) Bangladesh. There should be no doubt that besides India, a large number of other countries are interested in Bangladesh for various reasons. In the past, insurgent movements in India's northeast have used basis inside Bangladesh for the purposes of logistics support and training. Accordingly, India needs a special relationship with Bangladesh. Its absence is a sad commentary on the handling of relations with Dhaka in the past. It is time our politicians clearly formulated their views on the exact policy to be followed with Bangladesh. If there are no regional ambitions and the status quo is to be maintained, then Bangladesh must be reassured accordingly. But if there are security considerations, then too the country must be told accordingly in no uncertain terms.

(g) Sri Lanka. It needs to be noted that when the Indian troops withdrew from Sri Lanka and arrived back on the Indian soil at Chennai, their reception was cool and not even lukewarm. The Indian foreign policy makers have therefore landed the country in a situation where it cannot take any initiatives on Sri Lanka, but can only wait and watch. If India has washed it hands off Sri Lanka, it does not mean that all the problems are over. At the moment, Sri Lanka stands on the threshold of a possible historic change. It is an area of strategic interest to the US, China and many other Western powers vying with one another to get a foothold. India just cannot afford to ignore the changes next door and remain a mere onlooker, as it has done in the case of Myanmar.

(h) Bhutan. The situation in Bhutan has a direct influence on India's security, historical and geographical fact which it just cannot wish away. It needs to be noted that the Chinese have all along been insisting with direct talks with Thimphu and not through India or in the presence of an Indian representative. And they have had their way. Also, they want diplomatic relations to be established with Bhutan. The pending border dispute and Bhutan's difficult position fit in well with China's strategic designs, should they at some stage decide to opt for a drive towards Bangladesh or to make for the Brahmaputra. India of course cannot afford to be bypassed through Bhutan without serious consequences. And that is why Bhutan is so important, both to Beijing and New Delhi, and certainly more to India.

(j) Nepal. Nepal has been in an anti-India mood many times. Although Nepal is not a threat by itself, India cannot avoid facing crucial challenges from the Nepalese soil, should Nepal become politically unstable. A distinct tilt towards China and even Pakistan, its emergence as a major base for terrorist activities against India in the North-East, and increased momentum in the movement for a greater Nepal- these are some of the issues which can be seen clearly to be surfacing on the horizon. Pakistan's ISI has a well established base in Kathmandu to aid and augment secessionist activities by various outfits like the NSCN(IM), ULFA, and the Bodo Security Force in India's North-East. The Liberation Front of Seven Sisters which has all the banned organization's from the North-East as its members, has its headquarters in the Pakistani embassy in Kathmandu. Such activities will be difficult to check. However, there are fears that Nepal may exploit these. But that remains to be seen. Indian Parliamentarians must get out of their inertia and short sightedness and view the situation in its totality. India must look after its ex-servicemen in Nepal. They are the most effective and a major source of goodwill for India. Sufficient attention has not been paid to them.

(k) Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the hinge of Asia on which pivots the gateway to India through the Khyber Pass via Pakistan as well as to the back door of Russia. And so, it has been traversed and fought over by the invading armies since the earliest times. Afghanistan is important to India. Should the country fall in the hands of Taliban fundamentalists who have made good progress with three fourth of the country already in their hands with their distinct tilt towards Pakistan, they can provide support with men and material to the ongoing proxy war in J& K. In this fluid situation- with an uncertain future, where does India fit in? A stable, well governed Afghanistan which does not take sides is essential for New Delhi. But that will not be possible, should the Talibans succeed in retaining power. What then has to be done? Already there are some moves wherein a diplomatic alliance of Iran, India and Russia has been proposed. Besides, some contacts have been established with the Central Asian Republics by Iran and even India and of course Russia. India is assisting Iran in the construction of a railway line to Turkmenistan. These initiatives are however moving at the snails pace. The bottom line is that India cannot afford to have a fundamentalist regime in Afghanistan which is completely tilted towards Pakistan.

15. The SAARC. Three factors have inhibited and continue to impede the functioning of the SAARC. First, there are many unresolved bilateral issues. These, chiefly between India and Pakistan, have led to friction. The second factor is that privileged and advanced countries find it convenient to be in a position to manipulate Third World opinion. The third factor is the influence of fundamentalism and communalism. India itself is today the biggest battleground for secularism and fundamentalism. Unless India can come out of its economic morass and show that its economic reforms will work, the status quo will continue. SAARC members are equal partners and they have a right to choose, assert and exercise options. But when there is a vacuum or an indication of an outside power trying to step in, India has to take note of it.

The Nuclear Dilemma

16. With both India and Pakistan having now conducted nuclear tests at Pokhran and Chagai Hills in western Baluchistan near the Iran border respectively in May 1998, the nuclear ambiguity is over and options are being debated. However, what has been harming India's interests so far was a dithering submissive policy, inspite of its nuclear attainments and capabilities, thus encouraging US pressures which would harden in the future. But these tests have removed that fear.

17. India has done well not to sign the NPT or the CTBT. Even Pakistan will not sign these unless India does. India's stand on these issues is clear, which is that India has no nuclear weapons programme; that it had demonstrated a capability to manufacture nuclear weapons, that it does not wish to close its nuclear options with a great nuclear power in the North, a nuclear submarine base at Diego Garcia and the Gulf littered with ships carrying nuclear weapons. How can India bargain its sovereignty? The fact is that nuclear weapons states have been playing a game of charade and double standards in nuclear morality.

18. There is no need now for India to underplay its nuclear capabilities. According to Abdul Kalam, nuclear weaponisation is now complete. Indigenously developed Agni and Prithvi surface to surface missiles can now be armed with nuclear warheads. Now, the command and control systems would need to be consolidated. The situation in Pakistan is no different. They too are trying to increase the range of their missile Ghauri and planning to go in for longer range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Weaponisation will take time. It will, in addition, need new command and control structures concerning production, storage and handling delivery systems, executive orders to fire and so on. India has to be prepared at to face a combined threat both from Pakistan and China. It cannot fight two fronts simultaneously. And therefore, weaponisation is a necessity for India. It would therefore do well to first weaponize and then negotiate for those terms of the CTBT which do not suit it and that too only as a full member of the Nuclear Club.

Need For A Strategic Doctrine And Restructuring Of Defence Mechanism

20. The Armed Forces cannot cross the borders and march into another country without political directions. For example, should the country decide to restore the status of J&K as it was at the time of its accession, and make-up its mind to exercise a military option to take back POK, then the armed forces will have to be prepared. This involves considering a whole range of factors including resources, manpower and equipment, law and order in the North-East, the timeframe, national support and reaction of Pakistan and its ally, China.

21. Foreign and defence policies are inexorably interlinked. All options have to support each other. But these have remained compartmentalised in India owing to the absence of a coordinating agency at the top. No action seems to be contemplated to improve the situation even in the future. India's defence capability depends on the nations total potential and not merely on men in uniform or what the government run defence units can produce.

22. India's apparatus for the intricate task of defence planning is characterised by a hierarchical structure of committees arranged in the classic pyramid style. A superimposed civil structure provides for formal means of lateral communication amongst officials at similar levels in different hierarchies. But the 'vertical-subordinate' relationship constitutes the skeleton. It is within the structure that the three Services struggle concurrently against each other and against budgeting pressures from finance. If India is to succeed and become at least a regional power, then besides an articulate foreign policy, it must have a clear policy for its defence.

23. Some basic issues. Some basic issues are:-

(a) The first point which needs reiteration is that though the military is no longer the exclusive tool for ensuring national security, it is and would remain the most potent and final instrument for fighting external aggression and imposing a decision.

(b) The second point to be noted is that owing to the growing complexity and the wide range of issues concerning security, there is an inescapable requirement for far more interaction amongst various components of the security mechanism.

(c) The third point which needs consideration is that the management of defence having become too intricate, it is not possible for a single agency like the MOD to manage it, constituted as it is at present.

24. Thus, there is an inescapable need for constituting accountable defence agencies like a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and an NSA to advise the Cabinet as well as to make themselves available for consultation with the NSC if and when formed. India does not have such institutions. The country has unnecessarily deprived itself of expert provisional advice.

25. While it is agreed that, the main purpose of a nation's defence policy is to ensure protection against external aggression and security from internal insurrect

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Request Removal

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have the essay published on the UK Essays website then please click on the link below to request removal:

More from UK Essays

We can help with your essay
Find out more