Saturday, 27 September 2014

China, Modi, and Pain of Indian Pushback

This China conversation is as old as 1962, not even Nathula, Chola in 1967 or Sumdorongchu, in 1987.

If the inevitable were to happen, and India were to go to another border war, it will be as the Indian Army, agnostic of Congress or BJP tint.

This talk about blaming the BJP in 100 days is both interesting, and biased. Maybe the hardening of resolve, the pushback to the Chinese, is the cause of all these repetitive outrages.

In Nathula, of 1967, 400 Chinese died. India lost men too but in far lesser numbers. But it stopped the territory nibble. Chumar or Depsang are no different. Nor Arunachal, Himachal or Sikkim.

Nathula pushback was after 1962, when things were physically and psychologically terrible. Today, while things may be sub-optimal, India has to face what comes as a Nation.

While it all very well as a rule for media, and analysts to keep a watch on governments, Congress or BJP, or a coalition thereof, any logical extension of the argument can not be extrapolated, by politically loaded, blamestorming.

Equipping the poorly clad, fed, armed, and transported, Indian Armed Forces, facing decades of criminal neglect, can not be reversed overnight, and will take time. Even at current troop levels and logistics, fight a good fight they can and they will as demonstrated tragically in Kargil.

Things with Pakistan remain frosty, and dangers of the two-front war are also sited often by the usual Doubting Thomas. Without getting into the probability trap of such an eventuality, the real question is what if it did happen? And following from that, what should India's hedge against such a probability be?

Warfare is exactly that, and that is what defence strategy, national security gaming deals with. Can it get better, absolutely it can, but does it mean sucking up territorial and foreign policy insults in the interim? That question is not rooted in troop numbers or infrastructure but in the deep visceral fear of a humiliated, vanquished, Nehruvian India. Certainly not in Modi's India.

And while the Narendra Modi Government has done a rather poor job of communicating its urgency in picking atleast the low hanging fruit of the ramshackle, Ministry of Defence, it has moved some distance already.

It has however done nothing on integration of Indian Armed Forces. The Army, Air Force and Navy continue to operate in turf driven, ego fed silo's, without interoperability or joint command. Ironic that these forces regularly exercise with foreign militaries, but have to communicate through a clueless civilian, generalist, MoD bureaucrat in India.

The Civil and Military conversation remains distrustful under Narendra Modi' MoD. Despite assurances on One Rank One Pension (OROP), the disparity festers as a bleeding sore, poked regularly by use of perverse litigation against decorated veterans, maimed, and war widows.

The inability of the Indian State to rehabilitate those sacrificing the prime of their youth, to safeguard the Indian way of life, by sometimes giving their lives, remains a pang, and a sob of the destroyed lives of those left behind by our brave.

India is often saved by the Military, the chief brunt of which is borne by the senior service in Indian Army. It fights, and protects India from external aggression, insurgency, terrorism, natural calamity, trade unionists, but it remains unfathomable why this nihilistic nation can not put its money where it's mouth is. After Uttarakhand and Kashmir Floods, the Government, still throws good money after bad. How does one explain this paradox? People often hate their benefactors, this is the bitter sweet irony of Civil and Military relations in India.

The big hype of the, 'Make in India' campaign , threatens to be subsumed by Nehruvian Socialist propaganda, and 1950s dogma, of Government owned Defence, Atomic, Space, and everything core where government has no business, complex. The ISRO Mars Mission hype has the same chemical composition as Nehruvian crack heroin used to stun the masses, with mass hypnosis. Until the 'Bharat Ratna' become autonomous, publicly owned, and professionally run, and not Swadeshi wet dreams, staffed with inefficient staff, they will remain parasites funded by taxpayer rupees.

In India, Private enteprise either colludes with license raj to screw consumers and keep competition out, or is extorted by the political and bureaucrat nexus. What Narendra Modi ostensibly seeks to overthrow is this Kleptocracy but does he understand what he asks for? And does he have the stomach for what that really entails, in terms of pain, for political contributors, and their proxies, in all political parties, no less the BJP.

What India wasted during Congress led UPA years was time. 'Make in India' remains, set up to fail, if underlying factors are not addressed. The Nehruvian gangrene will mean amputation and grafts.

The, 'Make in India', construct today perilously ignores the immediate needs of the Indian Armed Forces. Critical needs in Rifle, Ammunition, Troop Transport, Aircraft, Special Forces gear, Armour and Artillery are sought to be fulfilled by Swadeshi platitude, not rooted in realities of global defence technology, intellectual property and geopolitics.

The Modi Government has inherited an obdurate, Congress infested bureaucracy, a kleptocracy with no constituency for change. And with a part time Defence Minister, whose mealy mouthed platitudes don't inspire the greatest confidence.

The Government has yet to take even baby steps to streamline the Unity of Command dysfunction, given the private armies of the Home Ministry (MHA) like ITBP, completely unsuited for border skirmishes.

MHA neither has the numbers, aptitude nor leadership in the IPS, Policeman, and Bureaucrat, to resist the status quo change, hidden in demographic invasion by civilian populations or more direct, PLA thrusts to nibble Indian held territory on LoAC. The sooner such Command reverts back to the Indian Army, the safer our borders will be, and decision-making, congruent with the PMO!

Border Infrastructure will take its time too, as will the Strike Corps but too often the economy is ignored as the tool of war. A resurgent GDP will fund the armoury, and a lot else, so it is the Chinese economic might, that should be more scary, than their military, and logistics preparation.

And the only way to beat this is for India to improve its economic lot. It exports raw ore and rare earths to Chinese, while China send back, shitty toys, and spurious goods, with a resultant adversarial trade surplus, payments imbalance. And that should bother those criticising the Narendra Modi outreach, to Xi Jinping, and the PLA, much more.

The alliances that Narendra Modi seeks to stitch up, in the Far East and the West, and in our immediate neighbourhood, seek to do exactly this. It seeks to defeat flanking maneuvres by China by building a wall of mutually beneficial friendships based on economic, and cultural similarities.

For the armchair critics in media, and the 'out of work', Congress gravy train Intelligentsia, we already knew India and China are competitors with cultural animus, so what else is new? Where is the new strategem that they propose, asides of the lost kingdom bellyaching, and bitter recrimination.

Never before in independent India, has the mainstream media been so politically polarised. Never before has it created perverse perception, as it did during the Xi Jinping visit, or Prime Minister, Narendra Modi's visit to the United States.

The use of Social Media by the distrustful Prime Minister Office, the Ministry of External Affairs, and other key ministries has left the once pampered, junket fed mainstream media out in the cold, sullen and adversarial. Both lose, the mainstream media loses credibility with its audience, while Government of India, loses mass media reach to bring about communication, that can successfully carry the change, promised by the Narendea Modi led, BJP Government.

Like blind men the talking shops want to describe the Chinese elephant in the room, but these conversations have no solution proferred.

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