Ranjit B Rai
This is an IDF analysis of why China is reducing its Army by half which actually, is the less half trained and less kitted Army of PLA, at a time when China’s economy is slowed and population is aging. There are pointers for India to act in National Interests. Even Indian Army wants IBGs more trained and more equipped than the rest of the Army and reduce manpower. But India has unemployed youth….So Its Catch 22 !
At a conference currently in Delhi with Chinese educationists IDF spoke on the sidelines to the Chinese experts and was told this step was thought out over the last year in China. The visiting Chinese team of researchers from Peking University and Indian experts on China are gathered to ‘Share Experiences on Vocational Education in China and India’ under the aegis of Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS). The acronym VET–Vocational and Educational Training (VET) came up in every paper.
The cost analysis and benefits by providing pension and re-vocational-ising/training half its Army in Chinese Universities and in Vocational Schools at Government cost in short courses is a calculated move to improve skills with state support to be more efficient for investment into the strategic industries as China ages, and they will be skilled for the manufacturing industry and contribute to human development in China. These issues have been factored in to the Case Studies done in China, and IDF learnt this is not an impetuous move like India announces (DEMONET and 36 Rafales etc which bounce, and then the Government grapples how to implement. More the nation is skilled like USA, Germany etc more the nation can prosper and Chinese admit they have a long way to go even compared to Hong Kong, and cited India too.
In China education is and has been important for the Communist Party and is a cost free state-run system. Every Chinese has to attend school for at least nine years, known as the Government’s Compulsory Education (GSE). India’s Constitution Article 21A also has this clause but it is not in directive principles and even Right to Education (RTE) has been cited. In India education is a state subject and becomes a political football, where Delhi may order but execution is state wise, and moneys are flittered. At the Conference the Chinese lauded India’s earlier efforts for higher education with IITs which China is following now and allowing in foreign Universities and teachers and attracting foreign students at economic terms like USA, Germany and Australia with English curriculum to earn. China’s booming tourism is waning.
GSE has six years of primary and three years of secondary education for ages 12 to 15. There is 99% attendance and those found good in studies after nine years go for higher education and others get Vocational Education and Training—VET, even as plumbers and electricians, construction workers for infrastructure etc using latest technology with good pay prospects and respect. There is no caste and one language and no religion but beliefs like Taoism with ancestor worship. India has no one language, has castes for workmen and religion which is a challenge, so its on job training. ILFS offered training but it went broke. Even Army has challenges.
It was Gen Winston Choo CDF Singapore who told IDF Training means HOW and Education is WHY and added that the Indian Army that trained him, is best trained in the world, but not best educated. Half of PLA (Army) will be sent for TVET IDF learnt.
The VET conference allowed IDF to understand why Chinese are cutting their Army and IDF adds that large scale long land wars are unlikely with tactical nuclear weapons and these are days of knowledge of technical weapons. Army has to change to be a skilled Army of technical weapons and technology. The Chinese feel China has to over take India’s Army in innovation and re-educate half it’s less technical Army not yet educated and trained in skills and make its Navy and Air Force stronger than USA for it rise with money saved. China has already make the East bi-polar and aspires be a power in the Chinese dream that Xi JInping has promised. Large majority support him. The Chinese said PLA(Navy) and PLA (Air Force) has to grow to be assertive in areas like the South China Sea, and all USA can do is sail its ships. Indian Ocean was avoided by IDF.
Cmde AJ Singh in Biz Standard has analysed India and China are in a Cold war 2.0 and IDF agrees. In the last Cold War the variables in the state of deterrence by USA, included long range nuclear missiles, nuclear submarines to limit Soviets and the U.S. focus was largely on that. Soviets were the only threatening supposed superpower. Now, we are in an age of new Great Power rivalry and confrontation is between a waning USA unless Trump makes it rise, and rising China and even Russia in military terms makes it triangular, and India is rising too.
Therefore a state of uncertainty dogs the potential adversaries possessing massive lethal conventional capabilities, and threats of use of nuclear power as North Korea did possibly goaded by China and Pakistan hints against India, which has grown as a military power. China worries about this, as India has considerable geo political and business advantages compared to Chinese capabilities and with USA as India’s partner providing latest hardware and planning with a ganged up QUAD. But on QUAD India is being ambiguous as PM Modi conveyed at the Shangri-La Dialogue. Conflict scenarios can evolve with unpredictable swiftness as Doklam showed by the media, and this worried India’s leadership if the Chinese forces refused to halt. Diplomacy worked and Wuhan has worked to keep the peace, that China covets for BRI.
IDF has earlier explained India faces a triangular China and Pakistan threat. Two sides of a triangle are larger. The army will find it difficult to penetrate any land territory as that nation will have the right to self defence even nuclear on own territory, as per Article 51 of the UN Charter which states, ”Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of collective or individual self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” Will USA give collective support? India’s Navy and air power have a have a greater say to disrupt. Pakistan Navy will use a Bastion Strategy and stockpile itself as a bastion for India not to be able to penetrate! Leaders and NSA’s must be planning.
It is noting that half of China’s PLA will be given handsome pension and get re-skilled and re-educated with TVET and will add as the mid aged work force in future China to make up for the aging Chinese population. India has the problem of young with poor VET and less jobs and two separate Ministries of Labour and Skills working separately and PM has changed Ministers for HRD whose support leans to RSS thoughts for education, more than HRD. Armed Forces run on HRD and equipment. Navy needs ships while IAF needs Squadrons and budget on 1st Feb will unfold BJP thinking. Shan Na Varuna.
IDF THANKS ICS AS over many Ne Hows and Si Sis (hellos and thanks in Chinese) IDF wished the Chinese Happy New Year for the coming year of the Pig in February. China is giving more emphasis to the PLA(N) to move away from defensive focus and downgrade its huge land army as war will not be hand to hand but aerial if at all on borders and cyber and naval war at sea will be with submarines and air power taking a larger part as vehicles of war. This should trigger concerns as even Army Chief has spoken of downsizing and CNS Adm Sunil Lanba stated China is adding 18 naval platforms a year. Indian Navy at most will add three large ones in a good year as per current order book and budget. Regional powers are expected to react to PLA’s greater offensive capabilities by boosting their own forces and may be India will have to think and increase its defence budget from 1.8% of GDP. Wishful IDF thinking in an election year ! Shan Na varuna.