Priorities for India’s nationalist government
The photograph accompanying this article shows the stunningly beautiful canyon of Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet (Brahmaputra in India) just before it enters India. However, celebrating this natural beauty is not the purpose of this article. Chinese activities in this canyon represent mortal threat to India. By 16th May of 2014, Indian parliamentary (Lok Shabha) election results will be announced. With their extraordinary incompetence already in front of the Indian people to see, the ruling ‘United Progressive Alliance’ (perhaps a misnomer – should have been called ‘Unscrupulous Pocket-Lining Alliance’) is likely to be shown the door. Bharatiya Janata Party’s Narendra Modi is the frontrunner, to lead a ‘National Democratic Alliance’ government in the center. He will have not a moment to spare. His tasks will comprise emergency firefighting, urgent steps and important tasks. Addressing the threat from Chinese diversion of Yarlung Tsangpo’s water is merely one such example. An astonishing list of priority tasks can be foreseen in the hands of the new government. This article is a list of merely a few such tasks, taken from only a small cross-section of opinions.
First of all, acknowledgement
For this article, I am grateful to a large number of people and organizations, and if I miss acknowledging any, that is entirely due to my fault. I express my gratitude to Shri Prakash Katoch, Prof. Brahma Chellaney, Shri Ram Madhav, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Shri Claude Arpi, Shri Bharat Verma, Indian Defence Review, Shri Jayadeva Ranade, Shri Arun Shourie, Wikipedia, Dr. Jana Weiss, Prof. Robert Thurman, International Campaign for Tibet, Students for Free Tibet, United Nations for Free Tibet, FreeTibet, Shri P Stobdan, and Voice of Balochistan Missing Persons. In addition, countless friends have provided me with much insight over the social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and I can not thank them enough.
A few tasks that the new government needs to consider:
- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is a great son, not only of Tibet, but of India, too. His contribution to the cause of global peace and environmental protection is too well known, and too great, for a small man like me to even comment on. Suffice it to say, India must confer ‘Bharat Ratna’, India’s highest civilian honor, on this great son of the soil.
- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama needs to be invited to address the opening session of the 16th Lok Shabha (Indian parliament).
- Indian security personnel serving in the remote – and often frightening cold – outposts, must have the necessary provisions including medical care delivery systems.
- Negotiate a water sharing treaty with communist China, because if China is allowed to divert water from the rivers originating in Tibet, such as Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) or Indus, that will be disastrous for India.
- Indians have stashed away 25 Lac Crores of rupees (approximately 416 Billion US $ – which can pay for nearly 12 years of India’s annual defense budget) in foreign banks! This money must be recovered.
- Qinghai-Tibet railway built by China allows Chinese PLA to quickly amass huge forces in India’s borders, which are not even demarcated. The new government has to factor this in the national security strategy.
- Chinese PLA has at least 8 nuclear missile sites and 17 top-secret radar stations in Tibet, which India must be prepared to neutralize.
- India is still far away from operational readiness of nuclear triad, the new government has to work on war-footing on this.
- Earlier, I K Gujral government, and the present UPA government, have shamefully downgraded India’s external intelligence capabilities. It takes decades to build effective external intelligence capabilities, there is a significant gestation period. The new government must set the ball rolling. Also, the HUMINT agents must be assured of the appropriate government support in case of them being captured by forces hostile to India. The controversies surrounding ‘Technical Services Directorate” and the infamous Coup story was fabricated to frame an upright officer, retired General VK Singh, by the UPA government! The result is further erosion of intelligence capabilities!
- ‘China study centers’ in Nepal are used by China for subversion against India, the new government must work overtime to wean Nepal away from Chinese influence.
- India must know, and be ready to exploit, China’s fault-lines -Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Falun Gong issue, Coastal-hinterland divide, etc. India must raise China’s cost of misadventure.
- The new government must give real teeth to India’s much-vaunted, but under-performing, ‘Look East’ policy. Countries like Singapore have repeatedly expressed their keen desire to ally with India, to balance an increasingly expansionist China. The tardy responses – always inadequate and slow – from India do not help.
- Over 70% of India’s defense needs are imported! Even INSAS rifles are outdated, and have persistent quality issues. The new government must work towards reforming the defense public sector units (DPSUs), defense research and development organization (DRDO) and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). Private player must be encouraged in the defense manufacturing industry. Joint venture with foreign players that bring sunrise technology must be allowed and encouraged. The defense procurement policy (DPP), outdated and archaic, must be reformed. India must be able to build the Scorpene class submarines, Indian navy will become further weakened without these. Indian Air Force has 45 sanctioned squadrons, less than 32 are operational! Infighting between the civilian and military divisions of Border Roads Organization (BRO) has resulted into construction of roads such as the one into Daulat Beg Oldie (in Ladakh) – a vital strategic ground – being stalled! Andaman Nicobar command does not have adequate radars, due to environmental lobby groups creating pressure! The northern point of Andaman-Nicobar integrated command is only 18 kilometers away from Coco Islands of Myanmar, which China uses as a listening post! It is another matter that the Indian government must pressurize Myanmar to completely roll back Chinese influence in this vital region. Roads have still not been built in Arunachal Pradesh, and due to this, the Indian army will have to fight Chinese PLA deep into the Indian territory, in case of invasion! Indian coast guard must be professionally managed, to enhance India’s coastal security, lest 26/11 is repeated again! India’s national security establishment must be strong enough to simultaneously neutralize Pakistan, Jihadist terrorists, Maoist terrorists, China, ULFA, illegal migration from Bangladesh and all other terrorist organizations.
- Indian ministry of home affairs (MHA), to placate the Chinese, plans to challenge Election Commission (EC) directive to let the eligible Tibetan people living in India vote in the Indian elections! Such kowtowing to China must be stopped!
- Indian government must not arrest the peaceful Tibetan protesters when the Chinese dignitaries visit India! Such bending over backwards to placate the Chinese only emboldens them further!
- Huwei Telecom of China is closely controlled by PLA, they must not be allowed to do business in India. Only recently had they hacked BSNL systems!
- Google maps already show Arunachal Pradesh as part of China! International calls made from Tawang show Tibet’s area code for the recipient abroad! China publishes budget for Arunachal Pradesh terming it as ‘Southern Tibet’. Chinese maps continue to show Arunachal Pradesh in China, Ladakh in China and Kashmir valley in Pakistan. Such are the sly designs of the Chinese, and the Indian government must know how to outsmart them.
- India’s Mars mission, while good, is not enough! India must build anti-satellite capability (ASAT). China has already tested ASAT, and can destroy Indian communication and surveillance satellites.
- One of the first engagements of Shri Narendra Modi should be Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. The other should be the shrine built in memory of a fallen soldier of 1962 war against China, late Shri Jaswant Singh Rawat. The shrine is called ‘JaswantGarh’, in commemoration of the heroic battle he fought against the Chinese PLA in Nauranang, Arunachal Pradesh. Such visits will anger China. But the Chinese are pragmatic, they will understand that the new Prime Minister is not scared, and will get the message that they must exercise restraint. If you want evidence, please look at Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Shinzo Abe!
- Indian children do not get to read about the heroes of Indian armed forces, in the Indian history books! Major Shaitan Singh PVC, Major Dhan Singh Thapa PVC, Abdul Hameed PVC and Capt. Bana Singh PVC are immortal heroes, but Indian children do not read these names in the school history books! We are independent today, and living with at least a modicum of peace, because of these heroes! The new government must enhance the education policy to address such flaws.
- Notwithstanding China’s anger, India must recognize Taiwan fully, and build a vibrant relationship with this country. There are much to learn from Taiwan, not least of which are their China-watching capability and success of their small and medium enterprises.
- The new government must revoke the discriminatory article 370, and allow Indians from outside Jammu-and-Kashmir to settle in this state, which will go a long way to integrate this state effectively.
- A strong partnership with Japan is imperative. Clearing Japanese infrastructure development projects in Arunachal Pradesh will go a long way in strengthening this relationship, not to mention the benefits to the people of this state and the message going out to China. Japan has agreed to sell military hardware to India, in a sharp departure to their practice. India must walk their part too.
- Indian government must realize what an imbalanced trade with China is doing to Indian industries and economy! At the end of 2013, India’s trade deficit with China was an alarming US $ 31.4 billion! China imports raw material from India, and exports finished goods, in a stark reminder to the British colonial era. India’s current account deficit is rising, while Indian industries are closing down.
- India-Vietnam-Japan-Singapore-Taiwan-Malayasia-Indonesia-Australia partnership is key to containing China.
- India must know and be ready to exploit Pakistan’s fault-lines such as Balochistan, Sindh, FATA, NWFP, Gilgit-Baltistan. India must raise Pakistan’s cost of sponsoring terrorism in India.
- India must increase defense budget, it is currently just 1/4th of China’s!
- India must have effective cyber warfare capabilities, which will raise China’s cost of misadventure.
- With the looming US pullout from Afghanistan, China and Pakistan will fish in the troubled water, further destabilizing India. Indian government must act urgently.
- China’s imperialism in the garb of trade is generating strong negative reactions in Africa, India must partner Africa to exploit this.
- China threatens Bhutan regarding the highland overlooking India’s vulnerable Siliguri corridor, India must protect Bhutan adequately.
- China has nefarious designs with respect to Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. India must wean Sri Lanka away from Chinese influence. Once settled, Chinese PLA navy will be hard to dislodge from this key port.
- Similarly, Gwadar port in Balochistan will become another Chinese PLA navy controlled port, unless India can neutralize Chinese influence in Balochistan, and the way to do that is to help the Baloch people gain independence from Pakistan.
- Thousands of Chinese PLA personnel are already in Gilgit-Baltistan area, posing grave risk to India’s security. The new government must utilize India’s assets in Gilgit-Baltistan to dislodge Pakistan army and Chinese PLA there.
- India must conclusively wean Myanmar away from Chinese influence.
- Indian army’s artillery regiment is starving of equipment! The new government must set this right!
- Indus water sharing treaty with Pakistan is heavily skewed in favor of Pakistan, which must be renegotiated.
- Events in Maldives for the last two years have significantly eroded Indian influence there, and these events bear unmistakable Chinese signature. India must wean Maldives away from Chinese and Pakistani influence.
- India will never be strong as long as the women are brutalized, farmers commit suicide, transgenders suffer, manual scavengers lead a life of utter indignity, animals are brutally mutilated and environment degrades. The new Indian government must work towards comprehensive national strength.
One hopes that Shri Narendra Modi remains physically fit, mentally alert and spiritually vibrant. Leading a government with such overwhelming mandate requires a leader who is not afraid of hard work, who is humble but relentless, and who can take smart decisions as well as ensure execution.