Skip to main content

Ukraine crisis: India's hour of reckoning to deal with challenges to national security?

By Ajit Singh* 

Western world has confined itself to a role of mere spectator watching traumatized Ukrainians from safe bubbles who are bravely fighting their own decisive battle against an aggressor state. The financial sanctions imposed by United States and other European members on Russia is just a face saving exercise and exposes the failure of the American-led coalition to ensure peace and territorial integrity of its allies in the region.
This has created a dilemma for India who is slacklining on a tightrope to effectively balance its relations with Russia and the Western allies. This is evident by the fact why India opted to abstain and not voted in favour or against the resolution of the UN Security Council drafted by the US to stop Russian military advances against Ukraine and compel it to come to the negotiating table for resolving differences diplomatically.
A paper published by Sameer Lalwani and others for Stimson Center have shown that 86 percent of Indian military hardware are of Russian origin and the country is still heavily dependent upon Russia for spare parts and regular maintenance of these equipment and weapons.
But cooperation between the two nations is limited mostly to the defense sector. Russia is not even among the top 20 trading partners of India. Bilateral trade between both countries is less than USD 10 billion.
On the other hand, the United States is India's biggest foreign trade partner with a trade volume exceeding USD 100 billions in 2021. Similarly India receives USD 14 billion worth of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from America, which is second only to Singapore.
These statistics largely explain that our economic interests are tilted more towards western counterparts. Yet India cannot take a clearer position and dare speak against the invasion, as it may lead to compromised defense capability due to heavy reliance on the Russian military complex.
The cordial relations between the two countries has stood the test of time. India along with Yugoslavia and Egypt had established the foundation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 1956. The goal was to not join either American or the Soviet power block during the Cold War era. But India due to its early socialist outlook deviated from its early non-aligned position to side with the latter power.
Under the leadership of Indira Gandhi and Leonid Brezhnev the two countries signed a security pact, according to which the Soviet Union was bound to defend India in case of external aggression. This treaty obligation greatly helped India in the 1971 war when Soviet nuclear warheads blocked the 7th navy fleet of the US in Bay of Bengal, and this moment became a deciding factor in the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistani occupation.
The Soviet Union that later became Russia vetoed sanctions against India after the nuclear test of 1974 and 1999. In the Kargil conflict as well India received Russia's imperative support. Similarly Russia has always come to India's rescue on the contentious Kashmir issue at the critical times in UN Security Council.
Even though India is now one of the key members of Quad nations and a major strategic ally of the US in the Indo-Pacific region, it hasn't fully shed the garb of neutrality, and that is why backed Russia in the current conflict, but will Russia reciprocate the same gesture and back India in an escalation with China or Pakistan? We already know the answer, it most likely won't.
In the Galwan valley clash last year between Indian defense forces and the People's Liberation Army of China, the former lost 20 soldiers in a bloody violent confrontation. At that time, Russia had taken a minimalist stand and even ruled out mediation between Asian powers.
Self-congratulatory wisdom and blind praise for the Indian military forces won't help to maintain deterrence let alone secure borders
This change of heart is not sudden but over the decades economic ties and strategic cooperation between Russia and China have been strengthened to strive a balance against the western power.
The unfolding Russia-Ukraine standoff poses a big conundrum in front of domestic foreign policy makers. India is steadily losing a trusted and reliable partner due to its collaboration with America and European countries. If tension with China escalates and turns into a full blown non-nuclear military conflict, India will be backstabbed by its new-found allies and destined to suffer the same fate as Ukraine if not worse.
India's top Generals and Marshals have tried to take the audience into confidence, as they argue India has acumen and wherewithal to deal with the formidable threat of two front war like scenarios involving China and Pakistan.
In 2019, India faced the real war like situation after Indian Air Force broke into Pakistan's territory to strike on alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist camps. The skirmish between sub-regional nuclear nations exposed India's self proclamation of being a superior power.
India largely failed on all fronts. We shot down our own Mi17 Military helicopter in a friendly fire which left 6 IAF personnel dead. India also faced a huge embarrassment when its MiG21 Bison aircraft crashed in neighbor's territory and Pakistan got its hand on living war booty to show-off the entire world that they managed to capture a prisoner of war. Most importantly due to lack of proper communication channels between the Foreign and Defense Ministries, India badly lost to Pakistan in building a media narrative in its own favour.
India needs to get its act together. Self-congratulatory wisdom and blind praise for the Indian military forces won't help to maintain deterrence let alone securing borders. The government must focus to expand the indigenous defense capacity which is in a nascent stage; at the same time India should diversify its defense purchases to erase the demand inelasticity vis-a-vis our dependence on Russia for critical technology and platforms.
---
*Sophomore in Bachelor's in Education (BEd) programme

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen