Long before the terrifying potential of the arms race was recognized, there was a widespread instinctive abhorrence of nuclear weapons, and a strong desire to get rid of them. Joseph Rotblat
When India got its independence from Great Britain right after Second World War we had the most advanced defense ordinance set up. But our Prime Minister who was always suspicious of the power of military put those factories to broad based industrialization. So the choice was made to become a peaceful industrialized nation and national security took back seat. Defense expenditure was cut and even though we had large army it had to make do with antiquated military hardware and the impact was fully realized when we lost the 1962 war to China. Our soldiers had to fight with World War One Enfield rifle while the Chinese had automatic guns. If we had invested a little bit more on defense our history could have been a little different.
Jawaharlal Nehru was not a pacifist, in fact he was a not even a socialist or capitalist but he did excelled in being consistently being inconsistent and when time came to fight China he did gave the order but our army was just not prepared in terms of man power or material. Result, years of neglect took its military toll but also political humiliation and we as a nation had to seek help from America and U.K. However after the war China got what it wanted plus they managed to ruin Nehru who died just over a year after the war had ended with his reputation as a statesmen sullied irrevocably. If we look back at our history we have never been the aggressor no king from Bharat ever ventured out to seek glory and even after independence we are yet to initiate a war with any of our neighbors.
Surviving in a tricky neighborhood
When we got our independence we were a divided nation on the basis of religion and soon after its inception Pakistan attacked us in Kashmir and since then we have fought three major wars and one localized conflict in Kargil. With China the only war we fought was lost and that is history and since then we have not had any conflict and at present we are strong trading partners. But Pakistan has always been problematic neighbor because of their unrelenting support to Kashmiri separatist that has morphed into Islamic terrorism and much more. China sees this as cushion and feels this way India will always concentrate on Pakistan and our Eastern border will always be weak and China will have the upper hand. Plus by helping Pakistan clandestinely acquire nuclear technology China thinks it has ensured our full attention to our western neighbor.
If we ever have to fight a conventional war against China and Pakistan at the same time we could hold out against the Pakistanis but against China the odds are not in our favor. Simply put no matter what any politician or generals have to say we would not be able to withstand their onslaught. Our men are no doubt brave enough to fight a war in the west and in the east but the cold fact is we just do not have the right military hardware. Our men are brave but in battle it takes more than bravery because we also need the right tool to fight. The good news is the current government at the center led by Narendra Modi is taking all the right steps to fill the gaping hole faced by our military. But it will still take years to develop and procure the right weapons for all the three branches of our military.
Rise of a credible deterrence and delivery method
The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable. Sun Tzu
A gun without bullets is as good as tying the hands of a solder and for a long time India faced that problem. Buddha first smiled on 18 May 1974 when we tested our first successful nuclear bomb. It took twenty four more years to finally test our nuclear capability again. It took such a long time because we could not test nuclear bombs due to our economic condition and we would have not have endured sanctions plus our ally Soviet Union was also failing. But more importantly we did not had the gun to fire this deadly bullet i.e. delivery of the nuclear payload. We neither had any fighter bomber to fly over enemy target and release the bomb or missile that could hit any target deep within China.
But with Pakistan it was never our problem since most of their military complexes are under two hundred kilometer range. But China was always a predicament because it is a very big country and to it could easily intercept our fighters before it can even reach the designated target. That is why the need for a Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) and Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) was a must and just few days ago India successfully test fired Agni V missile with a range of 5000 km but most experts believe the true range was 8500km enough to hit any target in China from any part of India and this new development has seriously rattled China.
In an editorial published in the state-run Global Times it reads “If the UN Security Council has no objection over this (ICBMs), let it be. The range of Pakistan’s nuclear missiles will also see an increase,” and this can be understood as a direct threat to India. China will never think of India as a direct threat because by admitting this it will give more credence to India. That is why in that same editorial it says “If the Western countries accept India as a nuclear country and are indifferent to the nuclear race between India and Pakistan, China will not stand out and stick rigidly to those nuclear rules as necessary. At this time, Pakistan should have those privileges in nuclear development that India has.” Any expert in South East Asia will tell that this is clear indication of China again propping Pakistan as its proxy to act as a counter balance to every move made by India. But this is good news!
On one hand China does not see India as a threat but to make this statement in a state run newspaper which is not possible without higher authorization it is clear they are feeling the ‘AGNI’. But if no one is convinced this quote from the newspaper should suffice “The US and some Western countries have also bent the rules on its nuclear plans. New Delhi is no longer satisfied with its nuclear capability and is seeking intercontinental ballistic missiles that can target anywhere in the world and then it can land on an equal footing with the UN Security Council’s five permanent members.” It is clear China is now feeling the pinch of India’s growing nuclear strike capability and is cryptically saying it will now help Pakistan acquire ICBM to even things out. I am going to call China’s bluff on this because Pakistan is an unreliable ally and only a fool will give Pakistan long range missile technology in clear violation of laws. Also America and the rest of nuclear power nation will not allow it happen and this hollow threat is just aimed at India to stop her from developing more long range missiles.
In 2016, twice China stopped India using its veto power in UNSC and has protected a known Islamic terrorist and Jaish Terror Chief Masood Azhar from being designated as a global terrorist. This is a wrong strategy on the part of China who are hell bent in making China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a success hence by protecting Masood Azhar they assume they can buy the security of the corridor and at the same time let terror groups like JeM carry out attacks on India to keep her distracted. But the main contention for the Chinese is we managed to get a seat in Missile Technology control regime (MTCR) and we can veto their entry plus India has circumvented the Nuclear suppliers Group (NSG) that allows us to get the very latest in nuclear technology. China may never publicly admit India as its potential challenger in Asia but fact is China has no friends in this region or anywhere and money can’t buy everything. Countries like Vietnam, Japan and other South East Asian neighbors are suspicious of the Grand design of the Dragon particularly the disputed South China Sea.
It’s ironic when India tested Agni V missile China first said it does not see India as threat to her growing hegemony but immediately also complained to the United Nations (U.N) which is fast becoming a irrelevant institution. There was a time when India could have gotten a permanent seat in the U.N Security Council but Nehru wanted this honor to go to China because in his mind pacification and appeasement could bring peace to India and the same country we supported to get into U.N is now dead against us getting a seat in the table.
In the beginning of this article I start with a quote by Sir. Joseph Rotbalt the Polish born nuclear physicist who received the Nobel Prize for peace in 1995. Even though he was one of the persons behind the development of nuclear bomb he understood and wanted the elimination of these weapons of mass destruction. Many say India is starting a new arms race and now has the capability to strike China and Western Europe and soon even the continent of United States of America. Are these facts, yes but it is necessary for us to have such capabilities because we live in a hostile neighborhood who possess nuclear weapons and Pakistan has threatened India on more than a few occasion. And even if the threat is hollow one must remember Pakistan is like an impetuous child, quick to react in a moment of crises that could drive her to insanity. I use another quote by San Tzu where he clearly says even if there is no war we must be ready to face any contingency and Agni V gives us that edge. We are also developing Submarine launch Ballistic Missile (SLBM) but it is still a long way bit Agni V gives us the readiness to receive China.
China is very powerful country but it is also a very insecure country and it is caught between a failing political ideology that suppress freedom but at the same time the people of China are also used to capitalism and will not go back to the time of Mao who killed over 50 million of his own people.
I end this article on the advice of the great Indian Political thinker Chanakya who said “Do not be very upright in your dealings for you would see by going to the forest that straight trees are cut down while crooked ones are left standing.”
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