This is an IDF Deepavali ‘State of Affairs’ pot pouri analysis of India’s external challenges with an accent on security and maritime issues after abrogation of Article 370 and PM Modi’s informal summit with President Xi Jinping at Mallampuram.

The preamble to this post has to be Internal as External affairs of a nation have a connect, and suddenly India’s internal challenges of Kashmir (vis a vis Pakistan and China), a cascading Economy and the Brand of the BJP Government as a Government with a Difference seems  a bit dented. This will heavily occupy the Government internally.

The results of the Maharashtra and Haryana elections came as a unexpected blow to  the powerful BJP & RSS combine, and the tilted media, just as the FATF result surprised India’s MEA. Pakistan escaped the Black List by garnering 3 needed votes provided by Malaysia (Mahathir) and Turkey (Erdogan) and China. Two nations have been punished by stopping Palm Oil imports; and cancelling a three tanker contract at MOU stage to Turkey and a visit by PM Modi respectively.

This may be a blessing. Navy needs more tankers for its high tempo operations and has looked to Italy, Korea and Turkey despite L&T assuring that if provided with a design that Navy has operated with Fincantieri built INS Shakti/ Deepak,  L&T can build tankers. The long Agusta Westland witch hunt against Italy has hurt Indian economy and Navy most. By BJP Black Listing Finmeccanica, Hum ne Apne pe Kulhari mar De, like Congress cancelled the HDW contract to hurt itself and Navy in the 1990s.

The book Indians Why We Are What We Are, was writtenafter time at Royal Navy Staff College London and 4 years in ASEAN explaining Indians are super intelligent but have terrible non-cooperative attitudes, caste biases and majority believe in  a fatalistic religion looking to next life and solace and live corruption, despite being the finest diverse peoples and brains in the world. The powerful enlightened Leadership of PM Modi and Amit Shah IDF, looked to change Indians’ DNA but over confidence of strategy crafted by RSS is proving that change is difficult. PM Modi truly inspired Indians to heights with his oratory and foreign trips, but recent internal events suggests the book is still valid. Luckily Hinduism now tilting to Hindutva and Ram Temple keeps many happy, and to know sins can be washed away in the Ganga.

IDF therefore worries both Muslim leaders of Malaysia and Turkey who have even taken on USA in the past, may see the MEA action as a pompous diplomatic act by India to punish them for saving Pakistan in FATF. Indians in these countries may bear some heat. IDF recalls how PM Rajiv Gandhi snubbed LTTE’s Prabhakaran at Katmandu and Delhi in the 1980s and 1400 fine Indian Army souls lost their lives in Op Pawan also given in book Indians Why We Are What We Are and how three Chiefs were looking for a CDS post more than co-operation in Op Pawan and Intelligence agencies played games with a US mole made public in two movies, but with no Inquiry in to Op Pawan to learn lessons even today.  PM Modi hopes to change this with NSA and a CDS but will need a Uniform Legal Law in the services.

India dare not take on China on FATF at a time India’s economy has fallen to a six year low to around 5.5% growth. It is said, “No Money No Shopping-No Shopping-No Shipping- No Shipping-No Navy”. IDF hopes bells ring in the Economic corridors of North Block to harness the potential of India like PM Narashima (Lion) Rao and FM Manmohan Singh energized in 1991 when India was broke for FFE and gold was hawked. IDF contributed as it is easy to open Indians’ market and also collect few billions from Temples, they can spare with a scheme they can trust.

IDF WORRIES THAT if a poor economy persists India’s maritime rise will halt. India’s Navy has fallen to fifth position behind USA, China, Russia and Japan from 4th(see Chart). The rating agency refuses to accept INS Arihant as a SSBN but calls it a technology demonstrator and wants proof of mid range submarine launched K-15 Missile tests. IDF posts a Notam for 19th Oct as sample(see photo ) which was issued recently that predicts a missile test to keep clear of an area. Satellites track missile launches. Rating agency claims Notam was not clear for a K-15 firing and needs correction. Practice Missile Firings are carried out regularly and Navy had towed decommissioned Ganga out as a target.

IDF had predicts this drop in Navy’s Orbat. CNS Admiral Karambir Singh lamented Navy’s budget is starved to 13% of the Defence Budget from 18% and chances of increase in 2020 looks bleak with few decommissioning and delays of ships being built in PSU’s (4 Type 15Bs, 7 Shivalik Type 17 A and Vikrant) means huge escalation in costs and no one is reporting the shared costs of Nuclear Submarines Arigath(S3) and S4 in building or cancelled contracts of 3 Training Ships, 5 OPVs and 6 Survey Craft. Navy looks to Navy Day on 4th December. All Navy can do is keep the tempo going with gas turbine and diesel fitted ships and flog them and hope for a 24 helicopter contract for its front line ships soon.

President Jinping came to Chennai after show casing China’s strategic forces modernization in an impressive parade on 1st Oct to show USA its strategic strike capabilities as evidenced by the DF-41 intercontinental range ballistic missile, which can hit New York in 30 minutes, hypersonic and J-20 planes and drones. The only official statement from Mallapuram meet was by the former Ambassador to China India’s FS Gokhale’s brief briefing where he stated Kashmir(370), CPEC or Doklam  was not brought up with President XI but that XI told PM Modi what PM Imran Khan told him. It was Kashmir. As a researcher stated it was a DIL KE BAAT after a peace talk over Doklam at Wuhan and not DEAL KE BAAT but XI Jinping was asked to reduce trade imbalance with India, at a time USA has told India not to trade with China. China has offered Huawei 5G with no back door to satisfy India.

Chinese play a strategy board game called WEIQI(Go and now OTHELLO in Italy) to surprise and surround. Indians play Chess to checkmate and Kissinger explains this best in his book On China. The India China relationship will challenge Indian foreign policy players and this brings in the animal called QUAD .India’s experienced EAM Jaishankar Subrahmanyan (with a Japanese wife) attended a QUAD meeting with Foreign Ministers of USA, Japan and Australia in New York and has his single handed role cut out to balance China and USA and keep Russia placated with defence and Nuclear contracts, so PM can concentrate on internal affairs with NSA.

China has increased its under sea deep water exploration technology to extract nodules and would be able to cut undersea cables secretly or tap them. It is encouraged by UNCLOS International Seabed Authority (ISA) in areas outside nation’s EEZ allocated to nations like China for mining. This needs QUAD type maritime power to meet China’s maritime challenge as USA’s Defence Secretary has admitted China has military capabilities to threaten USA. India is the swing state in USA’s camp but reluctant to admit itself into a QUAD beyond being more than a consultation group and carrying out military exercises.

Indians need to study the motivations, decision-making, and key capabilities supporting China’s military modernization. Its true budget is nearing $250 billion. China’s actions towards India on issues like Pakistan, CPEC, NSG and FATF increasingly appear inconsistent with its declaratory policies. This lack of transparency in China’s affairs will prompt international responses that hedge against the unknown. China has not taken abrogation of Art 370 well as it has interests in CPEC in POK and while Indians have welcomed it, the worry is how it will pan out with Pakistan’s Jehadi volunteers trying to create unrest.

IDF wishes all a Happy DEEPAVALI as our Armed Forces remain on alert on army Chief’s call that POK and Gilgit and Baltistan are India’s. Shan No Varuna.

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