New Government Will Face Security Challenges

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, Dec 1, 2013.



    Sep 22, 2012
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    Detroit MI
    Addressing India’s top military commanders at the annual ‘Combined Commanders Conference’ on November 22, PM Dr Manmohan Singh alluded to the growing threats posed by “radicalism, terrorism, arms proliferation and sectarian conflict” in our oil-rich western neighbourhood and by rivalries in Asia-Pacific, to our east. He called for “establishing the right structures for higher defence management”, but cautioned that as a result of our current “economic slowdown”, we’ll “have to exercise prudence in defence acquisition plans and cut our coat according to our cloth”, on “the assumption of limited resource availability”.

    Thanks to rampant populism and economic mismanagement, defence expenditure in India has reached an all-time low of an estimated 1.79% of GDP in the current financial year. This, at a time, when we are bending backwards in the face of blatant Chinese assertiveness across our eastern borders, with China rapidly improving communications and firepower in Tibet. On our western borders, a Pakistani regime, led by Nawaz Sharif, who has long-term ties with jihadi groups and refers to Kashmir as Pakistan’s “jugular vein”, may find it expedient to go slow on infiltration, as the winter snows close Himalayan infiltration routes. But, will Sharif continue to exercise restraint when the snows melt in June 2014? The current “prudence” being advocated in defence acquisitions will leave the Army short of firepower, including in mountain artillery, the Air Force short of essential Multi-role Combat Aircraft and the Navy with an aging and obsolescent submarine fleet. The UPA II government will be leaving office with the country’s treasury empty, its defence structures in need of drastic reform, after rejecting recommendations for structural changes in defence management by the Naresh Chandra Task Force and with its defence preparedness grossly inadequate.

    Political mismanagement has led to prospects of deterioration in our relations with key South Asian neighbours. Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh is unquestionably the friendliest leader that India has in its South Asian neighbourhood. Yet we have let her down badly by failing to fulfil our promises on the sharing of the waters of the Teesta River and on the demarcation of the land boundary. Hasina’s rival Begum Khaleda Zia appears set to win if she chooses to participate in forthcoming elections. We are thus headed either for political volatility or for the assumption of office by a Zia regime. This would not only hasten persecution and exodus of minority Hindus but also revert to making Dhaka a centre for cross-border terrorism.

    Across our Indian Ocean shores, we are set to face new challenges in Sri Lanka and Maldives. The PM’s inability to participate in the Commonwealth Summit in Colombo, because of partisan and populist pressures from Tamil Nadu, was an abdication of constitutional authority. UK’s David Cameron, who has not contributed a single penny for the welfare and rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Tamils, emerged as their “saviour”. Would India’s influence in its neighbourhood and the welfare of Sri Lanka’s Tamils not been better served by the PM attending the Colombo Summit and taking up the issue of full implementation of the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan Constitution? Moreover, would a PM visit to Jaffna immediately after the Colombo Summit not have set the stage for streamlining our massive relief assistance in Sri Lanka’s northern province and for reaffirming and reasserting our pre-eminence in our South Asian neighbourhood?

    With a new generation of economic reforms, which will further strengthen its already formidable economic sinews, China will step up its economic and military profile across our Indian Ocean neighbourhood. With the Islamist inclined Abdulla Yameen elected as its President, Maldives could move closer to a China-Pakistan axis. Any new government in New Delhi will inherit formidable national security and foreign policy challenges, even as it prepares to deal with serious economic issues. [email protected]

    New Government Will Face Security Challenges - The New Indian Express

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