This post tables C Raja Mohan’s bugle warning from Singapore
published in Indian Express’s ‘ADDA’ (Bastion) on 26 th Dec page 19
in small print.
Raja flies in and out of Singapore and briefs the world on the region. He watches Indo-Pacific more clearly from Singapore than in India, as almost each other day a Foreign Naval ship or VIP visits, while India’s politicians attention gets embroiled in races for power and bureaucracy in elections, and more recently with un-abating CAA and NRC and NPR disturbances, with the Indian media showing little interest in much else. EAM Jaishankar keeps busy flying around to pursue national interests with his persona.
In the recent protests, Prime Minister Abe could not come to visit with us and discuss our falling economy and a Maritime & Logistic Agreement so an Indian team has flown to Japan.
Raja Mohan has tabled an interesting answer to a simple question on Britain of yore, and China of today at IE’s Addda held with William Darympl; and Raja has rightly turned the spot light on the Indian Military to wake up on China. William is the best known Indophile after Mark Tully and his answers at the ADDA were interesting including a quip on Right Wing politicians and he mentioned Jar Bolsonaro of Brazil, Trump, Modi and Boris Johnson by name but not Erdogan ! And how difficult British Army found to tackle Afghanistan, hinting history repeats! Only one Brit Dr Boron returned from the Afghan war he said.
Delhi’s glitterati and so called Lutyen’s Delhi named such by the Government, were at the ADDA and so IDF cannot but help analyse Raja’s reply for those who may have missed it, as it is a subject suitable for Indian Strategists.
The incoming CDS if it be Gen Bipin Rawat may note Raja’s call and Indian Navy’s Chief Admiral Karambir Singh’s lament on Navy’s diminishing budget as Rawat remits office on 31st Dec and he is tipped to don a Purple Uniform as India’s first as CDS. Navy’s Suppliers are worried about payments it is reported and Naval experts on a drought of platforms and orders.
Q By Indian Express to C Raja. Mohan.
If Indians are still bashing the Brits, the Chinese seem poised to buy the Brits. Is there a way how both look at it differently ?
Answer by Raja.IDF Comments in bracket.
I think that is such a hugely important point. In this country(India) everyone is looking at Pakistan(and worrying of some action in POK as cross border terror is not reducing and Imran Khan speaks of war) and no one is noticing the massively greater thrust of this enormous Army (China’s military rise), which is 20 years ahead of you guys(Indians), in terms of aircrafts, tanks, communications, stealth bombers, owning Gwadar, Trincomallee (in Sri Lanka strategically placed). I did not know they bought Darwin(in Australia). They have just taken over Piraeus in Greece(China has crept in to take over the Entre Port for the past decade as a shipping hub for Chinese Shipping Lines feeding inter modal transport into Europe with Chinese exports). It is clearly the big rival (to India) and yet no one is looking over the Himalayas’.
Raja has not mentioned the powerful growing PLA(Navy) adding 18 ships and many aircraft a year, including an Aircraft Carrier with J-15 planes made in China and commissioned by President Xi Jinping last week named Shandong which sailed from Sanya in Hainan last week, the nearest Chinese port to the Malacca Straits and South China Sea through the Taiwan Straits. Is there a message in it for India. Sanya naval base has been beefed up with underwater submarine pens like that India is also making at Romboli in Project Varsha, South of congested Vishakhapatnam for basing nuclear and conventional submarines.
Raja’s reply has goaded IDF to add its own Chetavne (warning) to Indians on the security front. It is not to underestimate what the PLA(Navy) means to rising China in its ambitious plans in the Indo Pacific Indian Ocean Region(IOR) as China seems to winning the Great Maritime Game by its paws in Pakistan and Djibouti and is doing its first four day naval exercise with sanctioned Russia and Iranian Navy in the Gulf of Oman since 26th in joint drills amid ongoing friction in the economically important region between sanctioned Tehran and Russia and Washington. Four Russian Navy ships led by Variyag exercised with Indian Navy off Vishakpatnam in Ex Indira 10 days ago.
PLA(Navy) always has three warships in the area and berth in Djibouti where they have built berths even for merchant ships. The Gulf of Oman has been a focal point of geopolitical tensions in 2019 after two oil tankers were attacked in the straits in June and Iran detained a British oil tanker, the Stena Imperio for two months and Indian Navy patrols the area Gulf and has access to the port of Duqm and must be tailing the exercise as SOP.
Indian Navy needs to rise with a Code of Conduct for stability in the IOR with its friendly nations as the Net Security Provider(NSP), and offer steps of aid in SAGAR to fend off China supplying ships and submarines to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India has begun begin to look to the QUAD more and signed LEMOA and COMCASA foundational security co-operation agreements with USA, that Sri Lanka also covets but they are classified.
It was over a decade ago, when US announced its ‘pivot policy to the East’ hoping China would heed UNCLOS 1982 laws in the South China Seas(SCS). China showed two hoots and challenged US Navy Ships trying to do Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS). Then, in what many have called the most advanced reclamation technology in the world, China converted rocks in SCS into islands to claim EEZ and fortified them.
The many Exercise Malabars opened USA’s eyes to rope in India and its capable small Navy into a QUAD to help contain China. But China’s economy fueled its military industries especially ship building and infrastructure and re-orgainsed its military and began to gallop. If a Chinaman gets good ROTI KAPADA MAKAN & good living conditions most Chinese will support the leadership signified by the benevolent Lion and they have a Peoples Party in absolute power and leaders are all technocrats to plan well and contain grievances.
Currently China is quoting what is happening in India in Global Times and China Daily to absolve themselves on human rights in double speak. China on a Sun Tzu principle uses its neighbour North Korea’s Kim Jung Un to show the Red Flag to USA with Nuclear and Missile power it acquired from Russia and China and some from Pakistan in exchange for Nodong missiles. USA seems to have lost steam and wishes to sign a trade deal to end the Trade war with China.
In India in 2017 late Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stated, “India is a bright spot in the world’s gloomy economy”, but those hopes were belied in the Defence Budget of 2018-19. The Finance Ministry allocated only Rs 295,511 crores ($42.7Bill) for Defence which is 1.4% of India’s GDP. No nation shows hidden nuclear military spending. The budget for pensions saw a sharp increase of 26% to Rs. 1,08,853.30 crore over the Budget Estimates 2017-18. Manpower costs with revised pay scales has seen escalation in the cost of ships and equipment and the services revenue budget is over spent so even ECHS suffers for a few hundred crores.
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman this year allocated only Rs 3,05,296 crore ($44.6 billion) for Defence Expenditure. It was hoped a Supplementary Budget would ameliorate the challenge services face. This has not happened, and February is round the corner with elections in Delhi which may tell a different story.
The Navy needs bigger budgetary support. The cost of deliveries by Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and Shipyards has risen with delays with little MOD attention. Navy has always looked to affordability and Make in India and is suffering. The Rupee too has depreciated and the nation’s oil bill has risen. The Navy’s share of the Defence budget 2018-19 of Rs 40, 4195 crores was just 14%, compared to 22% for the Indian Air Force and 52% for the Army which the soft spoken Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh has lamented and needs attention. Thank you Raja ! Shan No Varuna.