ON THE PROSPECTS OF THE RELATIONS BETWEEN THE US AND IRAN
Though the biggest expectations from the work of the new US administration concern the financial and economical spheres, but there are also many questions in the sphere of foreign policy which require tough decisions from the 44th president of the United States.
The continuous escalation of the tension in the line of Afghanistan–Iran and the developments expected in the line of India-Central Asia, the latest war between Israel and Palestine and general situation in the Middle East, Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis with all its consequences on the post-Soviet territory and Eastern Europe. This is the incomplete list of the issues that Washington has to face and to which it has worked out fundamental approaches. Moreover, after entering White house Obama will find out that there are some issues where time is working against the US.
Therefore the point is at what extent the new US administration is ready to bring in some correctives into the foreign policy strategy, because one thing is clear: in this changed world the US can not follow the strategy of the 1990th. Moreover, this was realized by the Bush administration, because there are many examples when Obama will simply implement the changes which were planed in the days of Bush’s presidency.
The issue of the prospects of the relations between the US and Iran is one of the most important. This issue is essential for us on two grounds:
It has never concerned mainly those two countries and it always has a regional effect.
For the recent times American-Iranian relations has become almost of the same importance for the national security of Armenia as the relations between the US and Russia.
Since the Islamic revolution in 1970, for the first time in about 30 years, in November 2008 the president of Iran decided to congratulate the person who was elected on the post of the president of the United States. Of course this step by Mahmud Ahmadinejad logically corresponded to the chain of events, which in the end of 2007 witnessed to the thaw in American-Iranian relations1. Nevertheless the fact that from the first days of the new administration both parties decided to continue their relations in new informational environment is equally important2.
From this point of view the last Israeli-Palestinian war is worthy of note. In spite of the traditional rigorous statements by Iranian side, the fact is that in those 20 days of war Tehran had not taken any practical step against Israel.
It is known that in the period from January 8 to 14 from the territory of Lebanon at least six missiles were launched in the direction of the settlements in the North of Israel. This gave a reason to believe that Iran by means of Lebanese “Hezbollah” organization intended to force Israel two-front war. But the fact is that the war was over and “Hezbollah” stood off military actions. All foregoing becomes more obvious if we take into consideration the fact that during that war on January 2-3 the secretary of the Supreme national security council of Iran Said Djalali visited Damask and Beirut and met not only with the leaders of those countries but also with the leaders of “Hamas”, “Hezbollah” and “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine”. It is unlikely that organizations which receive financial, political and military support from Iran would reject the decision of Iranian political authorities to strike along the northern borders of Israel3.
There can be one conclusion. If the decision of Iran not to make concessions to Israel is particularly assured then the foregoing position of the Iranian party could interest only Washington. If in 2006, when “Hezbollah”4 was fighting against Israel, Tehran wanted to show Washington its capabilities in the Middle East then now when the agreements with the US are in process, Iranian party could not have such a purpose. It is more probable that today restraining “Hezbollah” Iran wants to show the US the benefits of the collaboration.
The developments in at least two directions make the US reach an agreement with Iran. Firstly, it is the extension of Russian influence on the post-Soviet territory and Eastern Europe and secondly, the developments which are expected in the line of India – Central Asia.
In the case with Russia Iran may facilitate the US in the following three points:
The general stabilization of the situation in the Middle East, which allows the US to concentrate more resources in the line of Moscow,
The chance to enter South Caucasus, the Caspian region and Central Asian and this will be of more importance for the US especially after Russian-Georgian war,
And finally the supply of Iranian natural gas to Europe, which will reduce the dependence of the European countries and especially Germany from Russian energy carriers, i.e. it will reduce the influence of Moscow in the European affairs.
As for the line of India – Central Asian then in this direction the significance of Tehran role may occur only by now. It is already known that in the initial period of the Obama administration the US is going not only to stay in Afghanistan but also to enlarge their military presence on 30 thousand soldiers. Taking into account the growing instability in Pakistan and its strained relations with India, it should not be excluded that in the near future the US will have to get permission from Tehran to enter Afghanistan and Central Asia, because other ways go through the territories of Russia and China.
It is not a secret that the following operation logic of Washington in the line of Iran gathers headway: Tehran should be treated the way Nixon did with China. May be the US will make concessions in the issue of regional security and lift economic sanctions. Nevertheless the main issue remains open: What will they do with Iranian nuclear weapons?
1Among such events the report of the National Intelligence Council of the USA should be mentioned. It said that most likely Iran stopped its nuclear program in the autumn of 2008. The other important feature is that in August 2008 American–Iranian agreements were reached about American military presence in Iraq, and this could not happen without the consent of the Iranian party.
2E.g. Barak Obama in his interviews twice (on December 7, 2008 and on January 11, 2009) stated that this issue should be tackled through diplomatic channels and his administration intended to involve Iran in settling regional issues.
3This particularly refers to “Hezbollah”, which with the help of Iranian military experts could make Israel retreat and from this point of view may be it has unprecedented experience in the struggle with Israeli military machine.
To understand the role of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in South Asia, a study of its overall strategic vision at each historical stage becomes necessary. Major determinants of such a vision included China’s perceived domestic policy priorities at a particular period. To cite instances of domestic and foreign policy linkages, in the Mao Zedong era (1949-76), ‘class struggle’ and ‘self-reliant development’ were the main domestic goals; to facilitate their accomplishment, China externally adopted a strategy of ‘leaning to one side’, i.e with Socialist allies. Internal priorities underwent a major change in the post-1978 period, with veteran leader Deng Xiaoping initiating a path of ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’, to be matched by an ‘open door’ foreign policy. As a break from the past, no alliance or strategic relation with any major power was envisaged.
Deng’s line continues till today, but with additional theoretical inputs from his successors sans any basic change. To illustrate, in the post-Deng period, Jiang Zemin formulated national policies centering round his theory of “ Three Represents”, aimed at making the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) a representative of majority of the people and codified ‘three major historic tasks’ for China – Modernisation, National Reunification and Safeguarding World Peace and Common Development. He selected a matching external line of ‘Independent Foreign Policy of Peace’.
Jiang’s successor Hu Jintao brought forth a development model marking a shift in emphasis – from GDP centric growth to ‘balanced development’; to be backed by his own concept of “ Scientific Outlook of Development”, of which creation at home of a ‘Harmonious Socialist Society’ and ‘Sustainable development’ constituted main elements. Designed to suit to China’s ‘primary stage of socialism’, the model provided for analysis of the country’s own development practice, learning side by side from experiences of other countries. Correspondingly, Hu put in place a foreign policy course based on the idea of a “Harmonious World” which lays emphasis on accomplishing ‘lasting peace and common prosperity, through a win-win solution in international relations’. It was left to Premier Wen Jiabao to pinpoint the links between his country’s domestic goals and external approach. In his words, “what China needs for its development first and foremost is an international environment of long term stability and a stable surrounding environment”, which meant that a ‘peaceful periphery’ has become a pre-requisite to Chinese foreign policy.
Signs of China adopting a neutral stand on issues relating to South Asia began appearing by end seventies. For e.g, Beijing at that time started modifying its pro-Pakistan stand on Kashmir issue, with the state-controlled media dropping references to ‘India-occupied Kashmir’ and using instead the term ‘India-controlled Kashmir’. The shift became concrete in December 1996, when the then President Jiang Zemin hinted at a beginning of his country’s ‘balanced’ South Asia policy in his speech to Pakistan Senate, by favouring New Delhi - Islamabad ‘consultations and negotiations’ on Kashmir. A leading China scholar later called this as Beijing’s “South Asia policy under new situation” and observed that subsequent to Premier Wen’s South Asia tour in 2005, the PRC would develop relations with South Asian nations in a ‘parallel’ manner, adding that ‘China’s strategic partnership with India and Pakistan is unprecedented in the sense that each relationship is not directed against any third party’.
Developments since the landmark visit of the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to China in 1988 have been remarkable. China has been more than willing to enter into several key bilateral agreements with India utilising the opportunity of regular exchanges of high level bilateral visits that included - on ‘finding a fair and reasonable settlement to the boundary issue’ and forming a ‘Joint Working Group’ for the purpose (1988), Appointment of Special Representatives ‘to explore the framework of a boundary settlement, from the political perspective of overall bilateral relation (2003), Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity and Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for Settlement of the Boundary Question’ (2005), ‘Promotion of Civil Nuclear Cooperation (2006) and ‘Shared Vision for the 21st Century ( 2008). Also being seen currently is China’s new stress on cooperation with India in the WTO and climate change issues, along with its prescription that ‘no country poses a threat to other’.
Most important development has been the recognition of both the sides that the Sino-Indian ties have gone beyond the bilateral context and acquired a global character. The policies of India and China now aim at “building a relationship of friendship and trust, based on equality, in which each is sensitive to the concerns and aspirations of the other” and ‘promoting bilateral relations, looking beyond the border issue’. It can be seen without difficulty that a congruence, to a good degree, of policy interests among China and India has emerged over the years; under its impact, in general, the comfort level in their relations has been increasing.
This is not to deny the existence of other motivating factors for Beijing, besides the need for ‘peaceful periphery’, to improve ties with New Delhi. They include neutralising the perceived US regional strategy to contain China, developing economies in areas bordering India, cooperating with India in exploitation of much needed energy resources, protection of oil transport security in the Indian Ocean with the help of India, getting India’s support to ‘One China’ policy and last, but not least, seeking India’s influence to reduce the pressure on China from the resurgence of Tibet issue.
The foregoing does not mean that mistrust and suspicions have completely disappeared in Sino-Indian relations. India has reasons to note with concern that barring improvements in bilateral trade (US$ 40 billion in 2007 with a target of US $60 billion by 2010 and commencement of Joint Study on Regional Trade Agreement), Sino-Indian relations remain bedevilled by lack of progress on settling core issues mentioned below.
China’s stand on the border issue indicates that Beijing is unwilling to compromise on issues concerning territorial sovereignty. The Sino-Indian border talks, despite twelve rounds of talks so far between two Special representatives, have not led to any substantial result in finalising a ‘frame work’ for a boundary settlement in accordance with the 2005 Agreement on Political Parameters. While Beijing’s stand is to approach the border issue in the spirit of ‘mutual understanding and mutual accommodation’, India wants ‘ground realities’ to be taken into account. Interestingly, the Chinese have of late introduced some new elements to the border question by questioning the already agreed position of keeping areas with settled populations out of the dispute. As confirmation of their official position of claiming entire Arunachal Pradesh, Beijing even raised verbal objections to the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Arunachal Pradesh soon after his trip to Beijing in January 2008.
Is China ready for a compromise on the border issue? The statement made by the PRC Ambassador to India in November 2006 that both sides should make compromises on the ‘disputed’ Arunachal may be meaningful in this regard. The two sides seem to perceive that the issue is complex, the negotiations could be long and a solution may not be immediate. Chinese academic circles have explained the same in terms of public sentiments in China disallowing any compromise by Beijing on questions concerning national sovereignty as well as the need for priority to solve the critical Taiwan issue first, before any attempt to solve the border tangle with India.
China also considers Tibet issue as sensitive in its relations with India. The March 2008 unrest in Tibet has raised questions of China’s sovereignty over Tibet, a factor naturally connected to the border negotiations. It is being assessed that the Tibet unrest may erode China’s bargaining position during border talks, particularly in respect of its claim over Tawang. On his part, the Dalai Lama has justified the Indian stand on the border issue. Beijing, in response, has accused the spiritual leader of ‘selling’ Chinese territory to India.
China is applying pressure on India by expanding its influence in the latter’s neighbourhood. It has established strategic presence in Pakistan (Gwadar), Sri Lanka (Hambantota), Myanmar (Sittwe), Bangladesh and Nepal, as part of its policy to protect the sea-lanes from the Middle East to South China Sea, crucial for Chinese imports of oil. The West calls this a ‘string of pearls strategy’; Beijing claims that it has no plans to try for domination of the shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and no intention to establish a chain to encircle India. Especially, Beijing’s cooperation with Islamabad in the domains of military, missiles and nuclear technology is continuing. The PRC has also a peace treaty with Pakistan, unique in South Asia, providing for mutual support in protecting each other’s national sovereignty and integrity. A Chinese assessment has called it as an ‘alliance’ against any foreign threat.
Beijing undoubtedly has concerns over India’s joining a ‘Western Alliance’ against the PRC, in particular over the growing India-US strategic relations. Its authoritative media have commented that Washington’s intentions to enclose India into the camp of its global partners fit exactly with India’s wishes’. Also, military experts in Beijing have alleged that India nurtures an ambition to become a regional and world power through collusion with the US.
Chinese strategic journals have been vehemently opposing the Japan-US- Australia- India ‘alliance of democracies’ concept, calling it as an ‘Asian NATO’. They have also questioned the motives behind holding the joint naval exercises involving India, the US, Japan etc. A Chinese comment found the Indian involvement along with Japan and the US, in the joint naval drill off the Japanese coast, ‘intriguing’ and viewed the drill as leading to a ‘new balance of power in Asia’. Days before the first-ever official-level security consultation between the United States, India, Japan and Australia in June 2007, China issued demarches to each of the participants seeking to know the purpose behind their meeting.
On the India-US nuclear deal, the Chinese official position has been non-committal. Beijing has said that they welcome civil nuclear cooperation between nations if the same is in the interest of international non-proliferation regime. Beijing’s ultimate stand at the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting at Vienna in 2008, in favour of granting waiver to India, has further underscored China’s ambivalent thinking on the deal; just prior to the meeting, the People’s Daily strongly criticised the deal. Other Chinese media comments have alleged that India’s development of nuclear weapons is an important reason for nuclear arms race in South Asia and that the India-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement marks a serious breach of the international non-proliferation regime. Their observation that India’s nuclear strategy is a potential challenge to China’s national security is a strong indicator to China’s basic thinking.
China’s military modernisation continues to be of concern to regional powers including India. Indian Defence Ministry’s recent annual reports have been indicative of this position. New Delhi may have noted the recent evaluation of the US that China’s military modernisation is changing the regional balance in East Asia. There is a strong feeling in the region that though Beijing’s Defence policy is in the main oriented towards preventing US intervention in Taiwan, it has other intentions, for e.g. gaining capacity to meet contingencies like conflicts over resources and territories. China nevertheless is showing some conciliatory gestures. Its latest Defence White Paper for 2008 downplays Indian concerns about the Chinese naval build up and the ongoing border dispute. On its part, New Delhi has shown a tendency not to highlight the challenge to India coming from China’s military modernization.
Limiting India’s role in the East Asian integration process is also a part of China’s South Asia strategy. Beijing officially supports India’s participation in the regional integration process, including in the East Asia Summit. However, by all indications, it excludes India from any role in the proposed ASEAN Regional Community, which is to come up with ASEAN plus 3 including China in leading position. On the East Asia Summit mechanism, the PRC considers countries like India, Australia and New Zealand as outsiders, desiring to give them only a secondary status. It is also cool to the Indian Prime Minister’s vision for an Asian Economic Community.
China wishes to play a role in SAARC, but seems to be unsure of India’s support to it.. As articulated by a Chinese scholar, India faces a challenge in promoting mutual trust with its neighbours and as such, SAARC is yet to become a bridge between China and South Asian nations. The success of China’s ‘balanced’ South Asia strategy would very much depend on India’s motives vi-a-vis the PRC as well as support from Pakistan, besides its own efforts.
Beijing’s goal is to establish a ‘moderately well off’ society by 2020 through quadruplicating the GDP for 2000 and become a ‘modernised medium level developed country’ by 2050. China is confident that its “Peaceful Development” task will face no obstacles as there are no chances of a war breaking out and a ‘long term peaceful international environment’ and ‘favourable neighbourhood’ will continue to prevail. Keeping this in mind, a drastic change in the PRC’s present global strategy, that includes South Asia, is not likely in the near future.
A long-term picture however appears not promising. Will China become aggressive in international relations once its modernisation drive gets completed at some point of time from now? Immediately coming into one’s mind in this regard is the advice given by veteran leader Deng Xiaoping that China should ‘ stand firmly, hide its capabilities, bide its time and never try to take the lead’ in pursuance of its objectives. Worth noting in this context are evidence already surfacing to suggest that China’s strategy is not going to remain static, for e.g. in the new circumstances, the country’s ‘independent foreign policy of peace’ is being made conditional to ‘safeguarding of Chinese Sovereignty, Security and Development’ and the ‘economic growth’ imperative is being balanced with that of ‘military modernisation’. This would mean that the PRC may not hesitate to modify its strategy, if the need arises. One has only to note what Robert B. Zoellick, former US Deputy Secretary of State and the initiator of the US-China Strategic Dialogue, said. According to him, though China remains absorbed in its domestic development, a question will remain whether it will have a similar view in next 10-15 years.
It is clear that China – South Asia relations are undergoing a tactical phase. Beijing’s present aim is to ease tensions in that region to help China in realising its modernisation task. That is why in the case of India, it is following the principle of ‘reserving the differences and working for common development’ and on India-Pakistan problems, it favours a peaceful dialogue between the two. However, for reasons mentioned earlier, uncertainties seem to be inherent in Beijing’s long-term strategy towards South Asia, on which regional powers like India need to be vigilant.
China Factor in India-ASEAN Relations
Mohit Anand and Sandeep Bhardwaj
Research Officers, IPCS
Chair: Prof. Madhu Bhalla, Head, East Asian Studies, University of Delhi
Speaker 1: Dr. Debashis Chakraborty, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade
Speaker 2: Dr. Vibhanshu Shekhar, Research Associate, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal University
Themes being discussed here cover some of the salient issues facing India in its engagement with ASEAN, which has begun looking at both India and China for reasons significant in the areas of economics and geopolitics. ASEAN has emerged as an important region for India, one where there is tremendous potential for India to successfully utilize its soft power to achieve greater cooperation and integration. There is, however, tremendous scope for India to streamline its integration process in order to effectively realize the potential gains the region can offer.
ASEAN's Economic Relations with India and China: Beyond the FTA's
India has begun pursuing a full-fledged regional trading agreements (RTA) approach since 2004. However, India does not stand to gain too much economically from ASEAN-India FTA because of the already low tariff levels maintained by ASEAN with respect to India. Nonetheless, the gains for India have been perceived more in terms of the contribution of the FTA to regional consolidation and concomitant regional peace and security. Being part of an FTA with ASEAN would also offer India greater bargaining power at multilateral negotiations by tying with partner countries through regional commitments.
An important aspect of India's approach towards the FTA is its inclusion of a shorter negative list of goods than China. This element highlights a soft approach followed by India towards the FTA. It is also possible to perceive China's inclusion of a larger negative list as an example of its superior negotiating capabilities as compared to India. Negotiations on the Sino-ASEAN FTA have been much smoother than the India-ASEAN FTA. Further, it is important to note that China's approach towards an FTA with ASEAN includes an emphasis on facing least anti-dumping duties whereas India is imposing greater anti-dumping duties on ASEAN. This highlights a contradiction in the approaches of the two countries. Nonetheless, there is a striking similarity in the approaches of the two countries on non-trade issues.
In the future, gains from the India-ASEAN FTA will be more in the areas of education, movement of professionals, SME products, business services and collaborations and the WTO. India is likely to gain from an integrated production network with ASEAN especially in the automobile industry. India hopes to extend this possibility to other industries and sectors as well. On the other hand gains from the Sino-ASEAN FTA will be from manufacturing, travel and transportation services and integrated production networks of hardware parts.
In the area of infrastructure, India is collaborating with Myanmar extensively to build roads and port infrastructure. This would benefit India by providing greater access to the ASEAN market along with opening up opportunities for the northeast, an otherwise landlocked region. Like India, China too has focused on infrastructure and has common areas of cooperation as listed under India-ASEAN FTA. There is thus to a large extent similarities in the path adopted by both countries to engage in an FTA with ASEAN, with differences arising from the fundamental structural differences in the economies of India and China.
India and China's Institutional Engagements with ASEAN: A Comparison
The discussion over institutional engagement covers two time-frames. These are - the formative phase (1992-2001) and the Summit Phase (2002 onwards). Three institutional engagements can be identified through which both India and China have been proactively engaged with ASEAN. These are ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN+1 Framework (summit level meetings between ASEAN and India and ASEAN and China), and the East Asia Summit.
Notwithstanding simultaneous entry of India and China into ASEAN, and India's diplomatic edge due to prevailing 'China-threat theory,' China surged much ahead of India both in terms of the nature and level of institutional engagement with ASEAN at the end of the first phase of engagement. China began interacting with ASEAN not only under ASEAN+3 framework but also set up ASEAN+1 summit level meetings in the aftermath of economic crisis of 1997. These two frameworks have facilitated China much greater influence in the ASEAN-centric cooperative deliberations.
The reasons for India's limited engagement with ASEAN can be attributed to India's own national outlook, the domestic paraphernalia, and the strategic resources at its disposal. India's initial engagement with ASEAN was as an economically weak state, strategically insular power, and a government overloaded with bureaucracy. India was not a confident player during the first phase of its engagement with ASEAN, which can be termed as a 'phase of experimentation, confidence building, and learning.' The Indian economic policies were largely protectionist and it failed to offer any viable option in time of economic crisis facing ASEAN in the late 1990s.
It seems that the first phase of learning has paid off during the second phase. India's engagement with ASEAN is much more diverse today. India has become a member of a 16-member East Asia Summit and participates in the annual summit level meetings under the ASEAN+1 framework. Today, India is a more confident multilateral player, a market-driven economy, and willing to take greater initiatives. It seems that the Chinese pre-eminence is also winning India friends. In the ASEAN+1 Framework and the East Asia Summit, there is a greater acceptability from ASEAN for India as a regional player. In essence, the more India improves domestically, the more important stakeholder it will be in the ASEAN-driven cooperative deliberations.
Though the range of India's cooperation with ASEAN shows significant progress during the second phase, India is yet to engage ASEAN as a major power with systemic ambition. First, there are greater degree of efforts by India to deal bilaterally with the nations instead of in the framework of ASEAN. Second, India has to put its own house in order. The time lag and delays in the implementation of the policies indicates a lack of roadmap. Third, the prevailing security mindset also impedes the effective connectivity between the nations. For example, India has to liberalize its visa regime to improve the tourism industry. On the other hand, ASEAN also needs to get its act together. There are several issues, including Open Skies Regime, FTA and Maritime Governance, on which ASEAN is yet to find a collective policy stance.
Q. Has India been flexible enough in its FTA Negotiations with ASEAN?
The India-ASEAN FTA negotiation has been a rocky experience that often required political intervention from the top. Though the initial Indian list of 1400 sensitive items highlighted the lack of planning, its eventual scaling down of the list brings forth flexibility shown by the Indian negotiators.
Q. Should India prefer bilateralism over multilateralism?
Though India has shown a degree of confusion while participating in the multilateral framework, it should not shy away from such endeavours. Rather India should rather participate more effectively in such deliberations. A close look at the 3rd East Asia Summit reveals that smaller countries like Thailand and Vietnam were much more active than India. India needs to be more active and innovative while taking part in multilateral cooperative frameworks.
Q. What are the components of India's soft power in Southeast Asia?
There are three important avenues - education, culture, and multimedia - through which India can make use of its soft power in further broadening its relations with Southeast Asia. China is, of course, increasing its soft power all across Southeast Asia. India, on the other hand, lacks an initiative. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations, which is a nodal agency to project the Indian soft power, has not been able to reach out to wider section of population in Southeast Asia.
Chair: Mr. R Ravindaran, Chairman, SAEA Group Research Pte Ltd, Singapore
Speaker: Cdr. Gurpreet Khurana, Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis
The rise of India and China is a topic of great relevance not only because of its regional connotations but also because of its implications for the entire globe in terms of what is going to be the role of the two emerging Asian powers in the new global order. The growth of these two giants and their inter-relationship has great implications for the entire Southeast Asian region, given its geographical contiguity to these two powers. But the conclusion that we must reach to is how can the evolving security architecture, whatever it is, bring peace and cooperative prosperity to the region.
Gurpreet Khurana: Sino-Indian Maritime Rivalry in Southeast Asia
The Sino-Indian maritime posturing in Southeast Asia is a component of a larger geo-strategic rivalry between these two powers. Though India and China do not share a maritime boundary, their interests are spreading beyond their immediate periphery to the regional extremities. So, while the immediate security imperative for India lies in Indian Ocean and for China in West Pacific, their strategic spheres of influence have begun to overlap in both these areas.
The Sino-Indian arc of rivalry comprises of three regions - Northeastern Indian Ocean, which includes Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea. Southeast Asia lies in the middle of this arc, making the region a concern both in terms of littoral as well as maritime domain. The Northeastern Indian Ocean is important for India because her critical security concern for survival lies here. For China it is vitally important because of its energy imports which are sourced from West Asia and Africa. In the case of a Sino-Indian conflict, China will be highly vulnerable here. Furthermore China's naval presence in this region provides it a significant strategic leverage against India, forcing the latter to resolve the outstanding issues like border disputes. China's defense assistance to Myanmar since late 1980s is very well known, especially building naval facilities all along the coast, including the Coco islands, which is barely 18 kilometers from the northern tip of Andaman Islands. India's upgradation of Myanmar's Sittwe port and its proposal to develop a deep-sea port in Bevai can be considered as India's move to watch over Chinese activities in these littorals.
Second part of the Arc is Malacca Straits, the key choke point passage between the Indian and Pacific Ocean. China's energy supply lines are most vulnerable here. The west-bound shipping of China in this waterway is very important for India to monitor. Sino-Indian rivalry has been going on in subtle and indirect ways. China and India are also subtly contesting for diplomatic influence in this area, which will be of great strategic value. This influence can lead to assurances from the littorals to China that its imports will not be impeded in case of a conflict, while for New Delhi this influence can mean information on China's west-bound naval shipping.
China has maritime boundary disputes with many Southeast Asian countries in the hydrocarbon-rich South China Sea. India has been increasing its naval forays beyond Malacca Straits. In 2000, India held its first ever exercise in South China Sea with Vietnam. In 2005 a joint India-Singapore exercise was also conducted in South China Sea. Events in South China Sea are critical of Chinese security and it believes that it is a revenge of India for China engaging its South Asian neighbors. China also objected to the exploration rights for two blocs given by Vietnam to the ONGC Videsh. However, such moves are only helping in strategic convergence of India and Southeast Asian countries.
In conclusion, the drivers for this Sino-India maritime rivalry are clear. For China it is the security imperative in the Indian Ocean. On the other hand, it is critical for India to balance China's rising power. Not doing so will only curtail its own aim as emerging as a regional power. It would also have serious ramifications on India's national security.
Comment: China's String of Pearls Strategy is a result of India's own failure and an over-hyped threat perception
The Coco Islands was given by India to Myanmar. Now to say that China is building a String of Pearls is stating the obvious. India would have done the same had its energy lines been coming from Japan.
Since the beginning of 1990s there were several reports indicating that Chinese presence in Malaysia and Coco Islands is a threat to India. These reports, since then, have been proved to be false. However, the potential remains there, not only for Myanmar but for other pearls of the string also. For example, Gwadar Port in Pakistan has the greatest potential to be used in a manner inimical to India.
Q. Should China and India focus on cooperation than rivalry?
Both India and China's rise basically depends on economic growth, which have forced them to look for resources beyond their borders. The mutual hunger for resources is going to make the relationship more competitive at least in the medium-term timeframe. In fact, India is now also seeking its energy resource from Sakhalin in Russia leading it to the same situation as China is in. The long-standing boundary issues further complicates the relationship.
Q. Can India contribute to the maritime governance in Malacca Straits?
The maritime governance is basically what the navy calls maritime domain awareness. India's security is linked to the Malacca Straits in terms of low-intensity conflicts like gun running and piracy. The northwest entrance to the straits is essentially Indian waters. So, any exchange of information regarding shipping with involved littorals will be of considerable help in terms of maritime governance. In fact, there is no need for physical patrolling of the Malacca Straits by the Indian navy; all it needs to do is grid the communication networks with other countries.
The rise of the Indian economy is one of the most important economic developments of our day. To put it in context, one needs to start by considering how India gained independence. The year was 1947, and it was the culmination of a long struggle between the British government and the Indian independence movement. That movement was led by Gandhi, but his most important lieutenant was Nehru. The two had very different views on a number of questions, and in particular on economic issues. Gandhi believed in a very simple life, while Nehru had absorbed the doctrines of British socialism. The British socialist movement at that time aimed to build up a modern economy as rapidly as possible.
THE POST-INDEPENDENCE YEARS
India in 1947 was characterized by very low per capita income. There were a lot of people, so there was always a big GDP, but per capita income was very low. In some ways India had a fully developed capitalist economy, and it had some of the oldest capitalist institutions in Asia, such as the Bombay Stock Exchange, founded in 1875. So there was a modern economy, but it was very thin. There was a manufacturing sector, but it didn't cover many industries. There was even a steel industry and a relatively strong textile industry, but these were limited. It was predominantly a subsistence economy. Most of the villages at the time didn't even have road connections. They were connected only by tracks to the outside world. They weren't part of the market economy.
During the independence struggle in the final days of the war, Nehru was put in jail, along with a number of his Congress colleagues. In a matter of weeks, they drew up a
consensus which has been called subsequently the Indian Congress Consensus. At that time the Indian Congress absolutely dominated India, so what the Indian Congress thought went. There was certainly a widespread agreement on the need to develop, to create an industrial revolution, to grow rapidly, and to build a modern economy. This would involve moving agricultural workers to the cities, which it was argued-this was a popular line of thought in the early days of development economics-wouldn't really cost anything, because the marginal products of those agricultural workers was negligible anyway. They really weren't contributing in the countryside. In any event, with a little agricultural modernization, it would be possible to increase output.
It was generally agreed that society should be based on collective action, not capitalist acquisitiveness. Basically, the view was that the state ought to seize control of the economy and ought not be run by the capitalist sector. Consequently, for the best part of forty years after independence, growth was slow. But the "License Raj" developed very quickly. Everything needed permission. If you owned a business that officially was in the private sector, in order to expand you needed a license. You couldn't get foreign exchange to import until you had the industrial license to expand. The government effectively controlled everything through a series of interlocking controls of that type.
sEven the banks were nationalized in due course. The banking system was one of the later things to be nationalized, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but even then this philosophy prevailed. The system was dominated as in many developing countries by the idea of import substitution, the idea that you would get expanding markets for industrial goods essentially by producing at home things that had formerly been imported. That was because you simply couldn't import most goods.
There was on the other hand continuous macroeconomic discipline. Unlike many developing countries in Latin America, or in Africa, or even in Southeast Asia (such as Indonesia), India never suffered from hyperinflation. India never went above about 20 percent a year. Instead, where the macroeconomic problems showed up was in balance-of-payment pressures. The fact that one required a license to import just about everything was strangling the economy.
Finally, in 1966, a year before the UK's famous devaluation, came India's. An attempt was made to undertake some liberalization of the economy at that time, and India sought U.S. aid. But since India wouldn't support the Vietnam War, President Johnson withheld aid. So the envisaged flow of aid that would help make it possible to liberalize the economy wasn't there, and India went back to slow growth for another 15-20 years.
Another feature of this period was that the educational system was very skewed. Illiteracy continued, and in particular female illiteracy, which is still quite common in India. But at the same time the elites have a very good educational system, typified by the Indian Institutes of Technology and Management, which were established in this period to cater to the elites. The education they received has been important in the subsequent development of the country's economy. But in the early years, the economy grew rather slowly, at what became known as the Hindu rate of growth, merely 3-4 percent per year. At the time, the Indian population was growing at 2.5 percent per year. If GDP is only going up 3.5 percent a year, that doesn't give much scope for an improvement in living standards and cutting poverty, the ultimate objectives of economic growth. In fact, there was actually an increase in poverty in India in the middle of that period. After reasonably respectable growth in the immediate post-independence years, by the early 1970s it had really slowed down to about 3 percent.
Then something changed. Initially we didn't realize that it had changed. Dani Rodrik, a well-known growth economist at Harvard, and Arvind Subramanian, an Indian economist at the IMF, continuing a line of work pioneered by American economist Brad Delong, have argued that the acceleration in Indian growth really came long before 1991, which is from when reformers had liked to date it. They claim there is evidence that growth speeded up in the mid-1980s. However, up until then, you can explain away the faster growth rate as a consequence simply of catching up, because there was a severe recession in 1979, due to the second oil shock. In any event, by the mid-1990s one has indisputable evidence that the Indian economy had moved to a faster growth rate, following the first, limited reforms.
One example of liberalization was known as "broad-banding." In the earlier period, if a private-sector entrepreneur was given permission to produce something, he produced exactly that and nothing else. Broad-banding meant that as long as he didn't use more raw materials, he was entitled to make something else. What you were entitled to produce was broad-banded, or extended. And that in itself led to an important liberalization of the economy.
Another example is that the trucking industry was deregulated in the mid-1980s, which meant that people who owned trucks, still in the private sector, were allowed to go out to bid in order to take loads from one part of the country to another, at prices they could choose. This was successful in that trucking performance improved and prices were lowered as a result of competition, instead of going up, as those who had opposed liberalization had predicted. Toward the end of the 1980s, even though exports were growing rapidly, balance-of-payment pressures were beginning to rise and the budget deficit was increasing. These two things together led to an important crisis in 1991, at the time of the general election. Despite the debate as to whether there had already been some liberalization, 1991 marks the big liberalization of the Indian economy.
Manmohan Singh happened to be the finance minister at the time. When he was a young man at Cambridge in the 1950s, he'd written an article that argued that it was a mistake to rely on import substitution, but despite that he'd gone back to India, entered the civil service, and been a loyal civil servant implementing these sorts of policies all those years. But when he became finance minister and was presented with the challenge of finding a way out of the crisis, he set about undertaking a major liberalization of the economy. The macroeconomic part of the package was quite orthodox. After all, if you have a balance-of-payment crisis, if you run out of reserves, you have to fix the balance of payments in a hurry. You really can't start revaluing the exchange rate or spending more, you have to do orthodox things like cutting expenditures, raising taxes, devaluing the exchange rate, and implementing monetary restriction.
The interesting part of the package was the microeconomic liberalization, which was adamantly against the Indian tradition. There'd been the very limited liberalization in the 1980s, but the main Indian ethos had remained very statist, hostile to the market economy, capitalism, and free enterprise. Singh swept away the controls of the license raj, the requirement that one obtain permission from the Capital Issues Committee to raise new money, and the ban on foreign direct investment. So investment was gradually liberalized, as was trade. The initial moves were to get rid of the quantitative trade restrictions. Tariffs were gradually reduced to the point of normal levels, though India's still a fairly protectionist country. Then there was an effort to modernize the tax system. In 1991 about one-quarter of all the tax revenue came out of trade taxes, which would be lost with trade liberalization. Tax rates between one product and another were equalized, again gradually, over the course of the 1990s.
There was the beginning of divesting the public sector of its ownership of enterprises. India was not adventurous in this respect. It certainly didn't do anything like the mass privatization in the former Soviet economies. It pursued disinvestment, which meant selling minority shares in enterprises on the stock market. You don't pay a lot of money if all you think you're going to buy is a minority share in a state-owned enterprise. This isn't a good way of raising money or changing management incentives. So India was slow in divesting, but the program was started, and it's gradually built up steam. There has been much more willingness to contemplate private enterprises competing against state-owned enterprises in recent years.
Finally, there was financial reform. Where India used to have one stock exchange, which still operated pretty much like in the nineteenth century, today it has a modern stock exchange running parallel to that one. The Capital Issues Committee was abolished, and companies were allowed to borrow freely. Where the banking system at one stage had to lend over 60 percent of its deposits to the government, and most of the others had to be lent as the government dictated, now it has a large degree of freedom to lend where commercial considerations dictate. Today India has a rather impressive financial system by developing-country standards.
Growth didn't in fact accelerate much from the 1980s average to the 1990s average. But the 1980s ended in a crisis because some factors were clearly unsustainable, and although some of us worry about some features of the present economy, there's no suggestion that the present growth rate is unsustainable. So it may have been only slightly faster, but it was sustainable. The growth translated into a fairly substantial fall in poverty over the course of the 1990s. The 1997 East Asian financial crisis really stopped growth in its tracks in many countries. Those countries, some of them more voluntarily than others, had all liberalized their capital accounts, allowing money to flow in and out fairly liberally. In contrast, in India, if you brought money in, you could take it out again, but domestic Indians weren't allowed to take their money out freely, and India in any event hadn't borrowed a great deal. So it wasn't vulnerable to the 1997 crisis.
In the second half of the 1990s one also began seeing the rise of the IT sector. Two explanations are given for why that sector became so successful. The first is that the bureaucrats didn't notice what was happening until it had already happened, so they couldn't really interfere and put up a web of regulations and restrictions. That's probably overly harsh. The other is that the government did some things right. Its founding of the Indian Institutes led to a flow of highly qualified manpower, many of whom found vocation in the IT sector. India at long last found its niche in the world economy, which wasn't in exporting manufactures, like the East Asian countries, but instead was in the services sector, and IT in particular.
One important consequence of the 1990s is the sharpening of regional differences within India. The fast-growing states were in the south and west: Maharashtra, Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat, etc. The large states of the Ganghetic plain-- Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa--became relatively poorer during the 1990s. Policy, which became more attuned to rewarding success over the 1990s, may have exacerbated these regional differences.
Since there were a whole succession of governments over the 1990s, the Congress lost its monopoly as the party of government. There was a period when the regional parties were dominant in the mid 1990s, then the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) entered the government and early in this decade there were even several years when there was a solely BJP government. In Indian politics, there's very little notion of economic ideology. The BJP tended to be a little more pro-market, a little less internationalist than the Congress, but the big difference is whether you're in or out of government. Government will introduce something--to privatize the insurance industry, for example; MPs will vote in favor of it when they're in government, and then three years later when the government has changed and they're in opposition, everyone who previously voted in favor now votes against, and vice versa. So there's no sort of socialist ideology in the way that there was in many European countries. All the governments of the 1990s were effectively reforming governments, even if not as strongly as some of us would have liked. They tried to push the reform agenda, and if they were slow, at least there were no big reversals as in Latin America and elsewhere.
At the moment, the Congress-led government is in alliance with some of the regional parties. The BJP is out of government, having run an election campaign that was altogether too complacent last time around. Manmohan Singh is now prime minister, but Sonia Gandhi, who was born in Italy, leads the National Congress Party. To avoid the complications of having a foreigner be prime minister, she handed over running the government to Singh, who sits as a member of the upper house. The other key reformer is Palaniappan Chidambaram, the finance minister. He is a member of one of the smaller regional parties. While they haven't been able to move as fast as they may have liked, they've unquestionably been moving in a reforming direction since coming into power two years ago.
Externally, there's no hint of a balance-of-payments crisis. India has something like $130 billion of reserves. Indeed, there's been some debate as to whether it couldn't spend some of those reserves to advantage. There's a sense of great optimism in India at last. It's found its place in the world economy as the place to which the multinationals outsource jobs.
he debate is how much faster than 6 percent India should grow. When I was young we regarded 6 percent as a miracle. It's what Italy did in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when we talked about the Italian miracle. Today, developing countries tend to regard 6 percent as the minimum. In India the debate is how much faster it should be able to grow. But there are still some big challenges.
First of all, there's the fiscal deficit, which is around 8 percent of GNP and has been up toward 10 percent. Now India is growing faster than the U.S., so it can afford a deficit larger than the 3-4 percent U.S. deficit without debt's getting out of control relative to GDP, but it still has one of the highest debt ratios in the world outside of Japan. It's still a 90-100 percent debt to GDP ratio. Sixty percent is supposed to be the limit in Europe, by the Maastricht Treaty; the Latin Americans have decided that they really shouldn't go that high, that 30-40 percent is the maximum prudent rate. And here's India with 90+ percent and still rising. They haven't had a crisis yet and seem confident that they're not about to. They do have a high private- sector savings rate, which means that the debt is almost all held at home rather than abroad, which makes life simpler. But at some stage they're going to have to get the deficit down. Otherwise, they'll be spending their tax money on nothing but servicing the debt. There are some signs that they're beginning to get a grip on this, but it's still a major problem. As a Brookings Institution economist put it in the 1980s, "The fiscal deficit is not a case of the wolf at the door, it's termites in the woodwork." It diverts resources away from investment in productive activities into excessive spending by the government.
A second difficulty is one that it's hard for people in most developed countries to believe is a real problem. But a large part of that deficit goes to financing the losses of the electric companies. Two and a half percent of GNP goes into power subsidies; only half the electricity that's generated actually gets paid for. Some of the other half goes in unfortunate (we economists think) programs to give free power to the farmers. Unfortunately, the farmers who qualify for free power are the ones who are rich enough to be able to afford power in the first place. But having gotten free power, they let their neighbors tap into it. That's another portion of the power goes that way. Then there are those who tap the lines. It's dangerous, but people know how to do it. So half the power doesn't get paid for even while there's a big increase in the fiscal deficit, while one has very expensive power for those who do pay, which includes large industry. What do you do if you're an industrialist with power that costs more to buy than you can generate it for? You buy a generator, which is socially wasteful. A lot of the investment in India is wasted by companies' generating their own power so as to bypass the power system. So while there have been some attempts at privatizing the power sector and at imposing a regulatory system, there are still big problems at the moment.
Third, there is the social situation. Education is still a
problem in just the same way as it used to be. There's excellent education for a small minority in the elite, and poor or no education at all for some people at the base of the pyramid, particularly women. India's in the region where there are a hundred million missing women, as Amartya Sen wrote. Even if they get born, they don't get educated properly. Malnutrition is another problem. About half of India's pupils are malnourished. The problem is worse than even Subsaharan Africa. In all the other dimensions, India has now passed Subsaharan Africa easily, but in this one it's still worse.
Finally, India is still a poor country. The average person still earns less than $2 a day. The figure is controversial, but the World Bank reckons that a quarter of the population are poor by its measure of $1/day in 1985 prices--that's a destitution level, rather than a poverty level.
INDIA VS. CHINA
Which country is going to win this race? Most economists actually think it's good when one country grows fast, that it helps another country grow faster. Nevertheless, there's a big discussion as to which of these two will grow faster in the long term.
China starts off with a higher standard of living. It has more manufacturing, a bigger economy, much better infrastructure, and a dense network of superhighways, as against India, which is just finishing its first superhighway grid linking the four big cities, the ones with more than 10 million people. China also starts off with a faster growth rate. It's been growing at 9-10 percent a year, it has a high rate--over 40 percent of GDP--of investment, it has practically universal literacy, and it has an open economy, measuring openness in terms of trade and FDI.
India has four major advantages. First, it is into the right things, the modern, skill-intensive service sectors like IT and outsourcing. Second, it has an entrepreneurial culture. Most Indians never fully subscribed to the non-acquisitiveness of the Congress consensus. Now that acquisitiveness has been given free rein, it's producing a big advantage. Third is the fact that they have a much younger population, which means that their saving rate is going to increase in the future. A young population with a lot of people who are in the high savings phase of their life cycle is going to save more than an older population as it moves into the retirement phase and may stop active saving. Finally, in many ways India has better institutions. It has a tradition of setting up thoughtful committees before it makes a reform. It has a democratic system, which is a really major advantage. As countries modernize, one of the things people want is a greater say in running their own life. India already has that democracy, China doesn't, and almost every country that's made the transition has gone through a pretty traumatic process. Maybe China will be lucky, but India already has democratized and doesn't face that risk. So for that reason the outlook is fairly good for India.
I see little reason so far to think that the Indian growth rate is currently above 6-7 percent on a trend basis, but that's a lot higher than most countries have achieved for long periods of time. It's high enough to take India into the first world in the course of some of our lifetimes. I don't see this as a threat to the United States in any event. For all the jobs that are being outsourced to India, there's some outsourcing in the opposite direction, opportunities that are only going to increase as India grows richer. So the outlook is basically optimistic.
This talk was given as the keynote of "Teaching About India," a two-day History Institute for Teachers seminar held March 11-12, 2006, sponsored by FPRI and co-sponsored by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the University of Pennsylvania.
Defence - Articles Print Bookmark Email Post Comment
#2838, 26 March 2009
Indian Missile Defense: Questions Unanswered
Mayank S Bubna
Former Research Intern, IPCS
e-mail: [email protected]
India’s latest successful test of a missile interceptor system in Bay of Bengal on 6 March may not have generated the same national euphoria as its five nuclear tests in 1998 but in strategic circles, there were smaller celebrations. “The third consecutive interception of ballistic missile demonstrated the robustness of the Indian BMD system,” announced a confident VK Saraswat, Chief Controller of Missiles Strategic Systems and Program Director for Air Defense in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
This third test, carried out in close coordination between a naval ship off the coast of Orissa and a military base in Wheeler Island, follows on the heels of two prior trials conducted in late 2006 and 2007. What distinguished this test was the use of a gimbaled directional warhead (a term for a warhead that is not limited to a single track across the sky), interception at a higher altitude and a more powerful propellant system.
Later this year, Saraswat said that the DRDO would be ready for an integrated exo- and endo-atmospheric missile interceptor test. The entire project is divided into two phases over a period of several years. The first phase envisages the ability to destroy missiles with a range of 2,000 km, and is scheduled for completion by 2010. Part two, expected to be activated by 2014, will take on intercontinental ballistic missiles with ranges exceeding 3,500 km.
India has been pursuing an anti-ballistic missile defense program for a decade now, coinciding with its nuclear tests around the turn of the century. Aspiring to be the fourth nation to establish missile defences, the development of the system is a revolution in itself. However, while the missile shield is yet to be fully tested and deployed, several questions remain unanswered, and the program has yet to convince its many critics.
First, the question of finances and development. The DRDO has been extremely secretive about the amount being spent on the development of these missile interceptors (one official closely associated with the program’s management estimated it to be in the “several thousands of crores”). Further, some key components of the project like radars, mission control center and launch control center have been produced in joint collaboration with foreign manufacturers. Israel (Arrow-2), United States (PAC-3) and Russia (S-300V) have been trying to promote their own operational Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) systems for a while now. This will save time and money. Saraswat was dismissive of these systems, claiming that an indigenous design would better “cater to India’s threat profile.” He also dismissed the PAC-3 missile as “outdated,” asserting that the Indian designed model was “20 to 30 percent better.” However, defense systems are not driven by the economics that govern free markets. The DRDO was silent on whether the government planned to increase or maintain its purchase of foreign systems, thus not ruling out such buys.
Another issue is that of the technology, which is still being developed. Many feel that the tests were carried out in situations that do not reflect realistic scenarios. The interceptor missiles remain vulnerable to cruise missiles or low-altitude missiles. There has also been no public mention of whether these rockets can distinguish between real warheads and decoys. Furthermore, a one-to-one kill ratio, as demonstrated by the missile test, is highly improbable in the event of a real attack. Whether the system can be deployed effectively in clusters around the nation is a matter of conjecture. “A massive overwhelming attack needs a massive overwhelming counterattack,” says Vinod Kumar, a missile defense expert at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses, “You are talking about a shield where you are taken by surprise, where you have minutes, maybe seconds to decide the course of action and interception, character tracking, etc. The Americans are still struggling with this in simulated conditions. So I am not sure who our specialists are trying to convince.”
Last, but not least, is the perceived threat and strategic imbalance of power in the South Asian regional context. While it is still “too early to talk about an arms race” according to Vinod Kumar, the development of this defence program has certainly upset the regional balance of power. No one knows about China’s missile defense plans, except for its successful anti-satellite test in outer space in 2007. Furthermore, despite the vast sums of money spent by India on this program, it has not prevented Pakistan from carrying out a low-intensity war against India, as evidenced by the recent Mumbai attacks.
Overall, however, the program has demonstrated some success. Whether the DRDO can continue to maintain these programmes remains to be seen.
Ballistic missiles with atomic, biological or chemical warheads are a major source of concern to all nations. Nuclear tipped missiles are the most damaging. India is most likely to face this catastrophe due to an attack by Pakistan and much less likely from China. The other nuclear powers are not a present threat. Unlike the large distances between America and Russia, India’s potential adversaries are immediate neighbors. This means that the missiles are likely to be short or medium range and give less time for neutralizing or retaliating. A Pakistani missile could strike New Delhi in ten minutes or less and a Chinese missile in fifteen minutes.
Every missile has a boost phase during which it is accelerating rapidly, emitting heat and a trail and is more readily detectable. A short-range missile at most goes to the upper limits of the atmosphere. A medium range one may go high enough to exit the atmosphere. A long-range missile exits the atmosphere. All missiles then enter the intermediate stage, where they may have jettisoned their fuel and follow a parabolic trajectory, until they enter the target stage by re-entering the atmosphere at high speed with high surface temperatures but too close to the target to avoid significant damage from the explosion and nuclear fallout, even if they are successfully intercepted by an anti-ballistic missile. During the intermediate stage the missile is difficult to detect and moving at its highest speed of thousands of miles per hour. Effective countering strategy necessitates destroying a nuclear missile in the boost or earlier path of the intermediate stages. This means detection and destruction within seven to eight minutes of launch and preferably within five minutes to avoid the destruction in Indian skies. This requires a missile launch to be detected within a minute or two at the most.
It is essential to have a fail-safe strategy and multiple redundancies. The current Indian government is smart and has acquired the Green Pine radar from Israel, which allows detection of a missile or plane launch from as far as 800 KM or 500 miles. Two units are acquired and a third is on the way. Israel itself, a much smaller country uses two and is going to have three units. To adequately cover the nearly 2000 KM India Pakistan border, more than three units maybe necessary and in the future a similar compliment maybe necessary for the Northeastern border with China. A second detection mechanism will be available when the Phalcon air defense and early warning system platform, already contracted from Israel, will become operational in three years or less. Israel is geographically in similar danger from biological and chemical missile attack, so its technology is particularly suitable for our similar needs. A third detection module is the planned 2.5 meter resolution satellite in stationary orbit over Pakistan and later another one over the Chinese border. Fourthly reconnaissance border flights by drones and manned planes, though less reliable because of intermittency and gaps, need to be carried out. In three years at the most the hurdle of early detection can be scaled.
The next problem is having an operational ant-ballistic missile. To intercept and destroy an incoming missile within five minutes of detection, the ABM must have speeds matching, if not exceeding the incoming missile. This requires a speed of 2.5 KM per second to destroy a short-range nuclear missile and closer to 5 KM per second for medium range and intercontinental missiles. The ABMs would have to be fired immediately after opponents launch and must have tracking and course altering ability followed by locking and built in destructive capability, in close proximity to the target missile. It must also be fully compatible with the detection equipment. Furthermore, there is always scope for failure and malfunction, as numerous such events in far more technologically advanced American ABM test firings have shown. Multiple ABMs may have to be fired to ensure 99.9% success rate. This would still mean that one in thousand nuclear missiles would detonate on India. Assuming that Pakistan has 50-100 nuclear weapons, theoretically India could neutralize all. In reality, one or two would get through and cause severe human, infrastructure and economic damage. Pakistan has airplanes capable of delivering nuclear bombs and they would have to be destroyed or held at bay by the IAF.
The technology for the control system and the ABM is not currently within indigenous know-how. There are only three countries that have it, America, Russia and Israel. Only America and even better, Israel’s technology are compatible with the Israeli Green Pine Radar. The joint Indo-Russian Brahmos could be upgraded, but it currently travels at 1500 to 3000 miles per hour. We need a missile that attains speeds of 6000 to 12000 miles per hour. America disallowed Israel from supplying the Citron Tree control system and the Arrow missiles, which complement the Green Pine radar and complete the Homa system. Even though the system is defensive, it could make India feel safe enough not to worry about Pakistani nuclear weapons, and thus willing to use its conventional weapon superiority to stop Pakistani terrorism by attacking POK. Thus Vajpayee’s surprising support of the Bush ABM defense plan did not bring the expected American endorsement of Israeli sale of the complete Homa system. Nevertheless, it was a good try and strategy of the BJP. In future, an attempt to buy the American Patriot 3 may be made. India feels that the US is an unreliable supplier. It could declare an embargo at anytime and make the weapons useless for lack of spare parts. The Iranian experience with F-14s and our own with the GE engine for the indigenous LCA dictates caution. This is why India, in negotiating with Britain for the Hawk jet trainers, specifically opted not to have American spare parts. The attitudes maybe changing as Locheed has offered advanced version of F-16s as a replacement for aging MiG-21s and India is considering them as well as French Mirage 2000s and Russian MiG-29s.