by Brig Arun Bajpai
Agreed that 70% of India’s military hardware is from Russia but with proximity of Russia and China increasing, China being our main enemy as also after arrival of Prime Minister Modi on the scene 7 years back and his distinct tilt towards US, China amassing its troops in Eastern Ladakh at Chushul, Daulat beg Oldie, Hot Springs, Galwan, India’s fight with Chines troops in Galwan on 15 Jun 2020 and complicated strategic relationship between US and Russia, have all now made it imperative that India will have to choose between Russia and US for its future purchase of weapons and cutting edge technology. It can not do tight rope walking anymore.

Let there be no doubt that Indian Governments whether it was UPA rule for 10 years from 2004 to 2014 or Modi Sahibs rule of 7 years from 2014 to till date India has been neglecting its Armed forces. Indian Neta’s and Babus who have never seen or fought a war, today rule the roost, they forget that our enemies also have their military intelligence wings like us and know all about our prepared ness for war so there is just no wonder if China and its two client states Pakistan and Nepal are showing eyes to us. After China has intruded from May last year in our areas of Chushul, Daulat beg Oldie, Chumar, hot springs and Galwan we are running like headless chicken here and there to procure arms and ammunition. However, 17 years of neglect cannot be undone in just few months. Just to give an idea we are authorised 42 fighter squadrons we have just 31 a few more than Pakistan and we are now facing both China and Pakistan. In Navy we are authorised 200 fighting ships we have just 130 well knowing that Navy takes long time to build. In land Army we were to raise 1.50 lakh strength Mountain Strike Corps to deal with China, a decision to this effect was taken during Cong rule only but till date after 7 years we have raised only one division and strike corps headquarters, no more. We have more money to dole out to Kissan Karj Mafi and still these so called Kissans are blocking all roads to Delhi in their Andolan going on for more than 2 months, but our Netas and Babus have no money for the countries Armed Forces. 

Since 2014 our PM Modi Ji has had 18 meetings and one virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping but truth is that we lack economic and military might as compared with China, as a result these meetings may have enhanced personal understanding but they have failed to deliver political or economic gains or a well-crafted strategy of dealing with China. In India friendly neighbourhood China has been able to extend its influence, and establish itself as a main investor, specially in infrastructure field in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. It has also become main arms supplier to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. This is happening because an economically weaker India has failed to become an alternative to these countries. India can only mend fences with these countries if it becomes economically strong and implements its promised projects to these countries on time.

There is a complex rivalry between its two friends Russia and US. While Russia has been supplying 70% needs of Indian Armed Forces, Washington has been noting this and it does not want its weapon technology stolen by Russia. India buying S-400 anti-missile system from Russia at a cost of 2.5 billion dollars has compounded the issue. Turkey a NATO member has also bought the same system from Russia, So US has told it in a forthright manner that I will be punished. Now Turkey is naming India that it is also doing the same thing. However, US has given indication That India is a friend which US needs now so no action against India. However, it is common knowledge that this argument US will not be able to sustain for long and sooner than later India will have to Choose between US and Russia. So, despite this, US sanctions against India under CATSAW are a possibility.

It is also common knowledge that apart from Russia’s friendship with China and emerging China-Russia Axis against US, In Trade also china buys 14% of Russian goods while India just 1.7%, while Russia imports 22% of Chinese goods while from India Russia imports 1.6% of goods. Also, Russia is unlikely to put its weight behind India in India’s conflict with China keeping in view its importance in challenging American hegemony of the world along with its comprehensive global partner China. Given these hostilities and developments between Russia and US, India to continue getting cutting edge technology from both US and Russia is not appears possible. May be soon India has to choose between them.

One more thigh. Every country tries to maximise its political and economic options. Chinas intrusion into Indian turf, its growing clout in Indian neighbourhood, anti-Americanism of China and Russia, mutual strategic understanding between china and Russia all challenges point to the fact that India now must become self-sufficient in its Arms production, technology, economy and stop walking tight rope between US and Russia. Recent statement by Indian Foreign minister that India follows an independent foreign policy will not do. till we become self-sufficient militarily and economically we will have to now choose a camp. Due to proximity of China and Russia obvious answer is US.

Brig Arun Bajpai (Retd) is a distinguished Defence and Strategic Analyst. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN. IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same