Ranjit B Rai
This IDF post is about India’s critical geo-strategic and economic challenge to face USA’s sanctions and begs the question, will Strategic Autonomy that PM Modi desires be possible, for India ? The answer lies in President Trump’s mood which PM Modi has stoked by inviting him to Republic day 26th Jan, 2019 .
After PM Modi’s off the record chats with Xi Jinping in Wuhan to maintain peace post Doklam and exchange of films etc, the space maps show consolidation by Chinese, a road to the Dosa canal below the Jhamperi Ridge which Bhutan claims, but can do little, and beefing up of communication facilities, and planes and UAVs at Shigatse airbase. So China watches what India will do about Doklam and Trump’s sanctions on Russia and Iran that US Congress and EU were not in favour of as members of JCPOA. But EU has succumbed. Will India do too ? It is a Hobson’s choice.
PM Modi has promised Putin India would buy weapons like S-400, another Akula on lease and four Krivacks and support weaponry like Su-30MKIs, ships, planes and helicopters and may buy few FGFAs and set up two more Nuclear power plants, so the stakes for India to keep it’s word and maintain links with Russia are high. India buys 10% of its oil from Iran, and Iran wants the pending dues for Chahbahar where India needs to stay for its connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics and get support on businessman Cdr Jadhav in prison in Pakistan.
Nikki Haley Trump’s messiah told PM Modi home truths about CAASTA. Modi looks more glum than he normally does, as he knows Trump means either you are with me or against me. Russia may raise it with Trump on 16th July or with Iran await the outcome of the 2 Plus 2 talks were EAM Swaraj and RM Sithraman were to charm Pompeo and Mattis in DC to give exemption from CAASTA. In they offer to sign CISMOA as COMCASA and possibly order 9 Apaches for the Army and 28 Atomics Avenger Drones for the Navy to please Trump in the postponed September talks and venue may change to Delhi. This adds to the uncertainty, in an already uncertain state in the world, India cannot escape. .
India’s Autonomy will depend on disruptive Trump, not India’s. Will Modi stand his ground if USA does not give exemption as China has a Creeping Strategy which IDF explained as the strategic board game to surround India in the String of Pearls strategy. China crept into Shasksgam valley of POK in 1963, built the Karakoram Road and elapsed the South China Seas from 2005 to consolidate rocks into islands, entered IOR with Horn of Africa patrols from 2006, built and took over Gwadar and soon Ormara and Jiwani and a base in Maldives and Hambantota since 2007 and CPEC in Pakistan and Dijbouti since 2015 with a new jetty, all to trump India. Kissinger told Chinese, Indians play chess which is tactical and reactive in moves, nor strategic like GO , and Indians have no speed of execution. IDF hopes we do not wait for 2 plus 2 and trump USA.
Indian has a Maritime Iron Curtain in Singapore, Duqm, Assumption island (IDF is assuming after PM gave a dole) and Sabang where a INS Sumitra called to see how to build facilities. India owes money to Iran for Chahbahar.
China wishes to barge in to the Net Security Provider (NSP) barrier of India. Egged by China through the Sri Lankan PM’s Pathfinder Foundation, their ex Naval Chief wrote a Code of Conduct for the IOR but he was given a shut up call with three no trumps by India (Navy ?) ! IDF too does not know the workings of NSP which was a proposal by ex Navy seal Richard Armitage, for joint patrols. PM Dr Manmohan Singh announced NSP on 13th Aug, 2013 near Gurgaon while laying the stone for the National Defence University.
Nearer home the Malabar Exercises have pleased USA but many of India’s maritime assets are in decline. The Navy in defence with low budgets keeps saying Indian Navy has Capability explaining PLA (Navy) has Capacity only in numbers. IDF calls it the 1962 syndrome of complacency as it takes time to get capacity and deep pockets, but capability comes easier. PLA(N) learnt a lot even from Indian Navy in RIMPAC but this year it has been kicked out by USAOF .
China looks long term and has crept into Bhutan’s Doklam and has used the collapse of the Soviet Union wisely to befriend Russia as it gets 20% of its oil from Russia and some weapons. In 2014 India turned hard right to USA under PM Modi and this has worried Russia. India has the Mir Kasim trait that politicians use to change sides in India—Principles be bowled.
IDF is clear President Trump plans to trump China and Russia, by hurting their economy but a research visit to China shows its capability to do business and manufacturing indicates China has matured like USA did with internal consumption and the $ 13 trill economy is creeping ahead and will grow at 5 to 6% minimum to challenge USA’s $ 20 trill, especially if BRI succeeds in two decades and its maths.
Two war prevention security blocks are also forming. One is USA, with Japan, Korea, Indonesia & NATO and an animal called QUAD with India on one side as Trump asks Europe to chip in more to NATO (2% of GDP). The other is cash rich and technologically cyber rising China with Artificial Intelligence in SCO. India has become a member of SCO with Pakistan and pays for the membership for holding hands with a powerful Russia rising on Chinese built crutches. Pakistan’s military is in cahoots with China for BRI and CPEC. A nuclear North Korea is with China, playing Sacred games with Trump and Pompeo. India is in Chinese camp too for military exercises.
IDF also explains China’s BRI is actually a infrastructure Dole for strategy. IDF relates the famous story. In 1932, Engineer Strauss designed the Mile long One Span Bridge for San Francisco, which was broke like our MCDs in India in the Depression era. Strauss approached other banks who rejected and finally A. P. Giannini, founder of the Bank of America for help. Convinced that the Bay Area needed another bridge, Giannini told Strauss, “We will take out bonds, because you said the bridge will last for ever, so it will play back.” It did, like the Noida and Gurgaon toll roads, which have paid back earlier than Delhiites thought.
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is business, so risky too, and China knows that. Visits to Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lankan roads by the Chinese and a visit to the sea face in Colombo shows how Chinese builders are even funding the Shangrila Hotel renovation and port expansion or see Humbantota —–many Chinese investments will pay back some day.
Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew built infrastructure for Singapore and taught the Chinese and Taiwanese where he stationed his military for training because the Singaporean first Chief Gen Vij asked to do so in India and Nehru declined. India did not even attend the ASEAN opening invited to…….they even delayed the ceremony awaiting a Message from India which never came. Now we run to ASEAN and USA. Modi must have been briefed of this.
Indians look for immediate returns so Infrastructure in India has suffered badly. Only private INVESTMENT with assurances can do it despite my respect for a Gadkari which means Kardega or like Kamal Nath 10% kar dega some big shot said. We need DOERS not talkers. Rain grows flowers not the Thunder we hear in speeches and on Republic TV by Arnab.
In all this tamasha of Trump, India wants Strategic Autonomy and US know Indians are clever. World growth is set to suffer as USA turns inward to grow it’s own economy and will soon come to terms with China and EU as Trump heads to Russia on 16th July to make a deal with Putin. India looks forward to rihayat (leniency) because India leans on Russia for S-400 missiles, FGFA, SU-30MKI’s, Nuclear Submarines and Krivack deals that are on the sanction block by Sitaraman. Shan Na Varuna.