India’s joining of QUAD (military alliance of the United States of America, Japan, India, and Australia) has probably upset Russia. It has started showing eyes to India by developing military relations with Pakistan. The recent visit of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to both India and Pakistan gives clear indication of Russian annoyance. While in Pakistan, the Russian Foreign Minister criticised the Indo-pacific strategy of the QUAD.
As part of developing a new relationship with Pakistan, Russia has offered to give military equipment and support to Islamabad. In the bargain, it might delay the supply of S-400 to India or even scrap the deal. Though, the Russian minister has discounted Indian apprehensions, but nothing can be ruled out. Accordingly, some Indian security analysts are getting disturbed. Such analysts live only in the past. They do not consider Russian handicaps and strategic equations developing in the world.
It must be noted that Russia cannot put all its eggs in one basket. It would be exceedingly difficult for the Vladimir Putin regime to ignore Pakistan’s role in the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan and subsequent break up of Soviet Union due to it. Therefore, it would consider US influence over the Pakistan military which might be catastrophic for Russia. Pakistan’s reputation as a reliable partner, whether with the US or China has been of a questionable nature. All this should dictate to India that things are not as rosy for Pakistan as some Indian analysts are making it out to be.
Military alliances and partnerships of various nations are diktats of the particular time period, based on geo-strategic environs. Partnerships are for a specific purpose and they can never be static. Once an enemy can also become an inseparable friend and vice versa. In the fast-moving and transforming geo-politics, nothing is permanent.
The Warsaw Pact alliance of East European countries no longer exist. Same is the fate of the Central Treaty organisation (CENTO) of which Pakistan was once a member. Turkey is virtually out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) — while India has been given observer status. This is the new geo-politics of the globe.
Once Germany and France were at daggers drawn but today, they are part of European Union (EU). Russia and USA were allies in Second world war — but they are on the opposite sides since the end of Second World War. Same is true of Japan and the USA.
Having almost practically drifted away from Russia (scion of the erstwhile Soviet Union), did India have any choice but to sit on America’s Lap? The non-alignment era has been long dead. It was a need of the 1950s for a newly independent India to have its voice heard. But with the Soviet Union breaking up in 1990, non-alignment had lost its shine.
Today, you do not have a luxury of staying alone or being non-aligned as the power game has taken a new turn. Do you know what US President John F Kennedy had told Indian ambassador BK Nehru when India had begged the US for help during Chinese aggression in 1962? He had reportedly chided the Indian Ambassador on India’s high moral principles of non-alignment.
It is to be noted that Jawaharlal Nehru, as interim Prime Minister, had said in 1946 that India did not need armed forces, because India had no enemy. But In the wake of 1962 war, he had begged the US for arms assistance. In his second letter of 19 November 1962 to then US President, John F Kennedy, Nehru had asked for 12 squadrons of supersonic all weather fighter aircrafts and radars. So much for non-alignment excursion of India under Nehru.
Bruce Riedel, and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official, gives an extract of this letter, in his book, “A minimum of 12 squadrons of supersonic all-weather fighters are essential. We have no modern radar cover in the country. The United States Airforce personnel will have to man these fighter and radar installations, while our personnel are being trained.” It was more disgraceful. When one neglects own well- being, one is reduced to begging in crisis. If course, beggars cannot be choosers!
We should face the modern reality squarely of the year 2021. It is not a flip flop by the present government but acknowledgment of the harsh ground realities. Indian analysts ought to stop seeing too many images through the broken mirror of their mind.
As brought out earlier Nehru and his successors had wasted 60-67 years trying to be the moralistic sentinel of the world, without having the power to enforce. Time to shed this false ego. Learn to live with the reality.
QUAD is India’s necessity today to counter China, and of course America will act as a big brother until India acquires the capabilities which the US has today. Until India’s Aatamnirbharta (self-reliance) brings it at par — it will be bullied by all and sundry. The small step of Aatamnirbharta today will prove to be a big leap in the decades to come. India is a late starter in this and needs to learn from Deng Xiao Ping of China, who opened up China and began the ‘Four Modernisations’ in 1979 — almost 42 years ahead of India. Today it is openly challenging the USA.
Unfortunately, India been reared by impractical leaders since 1947, on a thought process of Nehru — who first thought that the army was not needed, as we did not expect enemies and then when him and his successors were scared of a military coup. His successors, therefore, did not allow armed forces to grow and modernise. In fact, national security was bifurcated between the defence and home ministries individually handling (external and internal) responsibilities because of the fears of military coup.
India is paying for it. Give Aatamnirbharta program a boost and catch up with others. Mark your time and follow Deng Xiao Ping’s principle of ‘Tao Guang, Yang Hui’ which means ‘avoid confrontation now, but continue to build yourself.’ Until it happens wait for your time to follow your own independent path.
(Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in ’71 War & has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected])
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')