Friday January 19, 2018
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Make-in-India: How private sector investment can bolster defense

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defence

By Ishan Kukreti

Given India’s geopolitical situation in the subcontinent, building a strong defense force is imperative for the country. The country is surrounded by neighbors who say things like ‘their nuclear warheads are not for the occasion of Shab-e-barat’ or those who are vocal supporters of military expansion and strategies like ‘String of Pearls.’ It’s time the country realized that we are not in a very peace loving company.

India’s defense budget  

In this regard, the recent defense budget of Rs 250 billion under Make-in-India (defense manufacturing) is an impressive amount. It is also impressive as it aims to make India self-reliant in terms of defense manufacturing.

This has been achieved with the investments of private players. Under Make-in-India, 46 licenses have been issued by the government for private players to undertake manufacturing of light armored vehicles, UAVs, artillery weapon systems, and underwater systems. Gautam Adani’s Adani Defense Systems and Technologies has applied for the license to manufacture helicopters while Anil Ambani has pledged an investment of Rs. 5,000 Crore into the defense sector.

The importance of Public-Private-Partnership in Defense

Importing technology and equipment from outside is not the best approach a nation can adopt to create a robust defense system.

India has been investing heavily in the defense sector for a long time but with little result. The red tape, the sluggish pace of R&D under government bodies, and structural contradictions in the defense manufacturing setup have all contributed to this. Moreover, the overstaffed bureaucratic bodies have more file pushers than innovators who can create a technically advanced defense system.

The presence of a substantial private stake in defense will bring much-needed vigor and accountability that the Indian defense sector needs today. The sloth of the bureaucracy in terms of efficient work and the ability to conceive out of the box ideas and solutions can only find an answer in a private investment which has a stake in the process.

The power relations in the sub continent

The power relations in the South Asian region have always been volatile. Disputes over the artificial border between Indian and Pakistan created by the British and instability in countries like Afghanistan and Bangladesh, when combined with the aggressive military ambitions of China, make the region very hostile.

Moreover, the increasing bonhomie between China and Pakistan, with the former making inroads into the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region north of J&K, is reason enough for the country to be prepared for any future conflicts.

Given these circumstances, Modi government’s focus on defense is critical. From Babur to Luo Ruiqing, India has paid a heavy price for not taking technological advancements in defense seriously.

Postscript

Wars and conflicts are realities not to be shied away from. The long maintained rhetoric of peace and non-violence, although morally noble, has rendered India a gullible republic. With all due respect to Gandhian principles, the aversion to act aggressively when the situation demands and flexing muscles afterwards is no way to be a relevant player in international relations.

 

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump’s Tough stand on Pak

The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) issued a statement Monday welcoming Donald Trump's stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

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Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons
Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons

Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.

Khwaja Wali Kirani in Balochistan. Wikimedia Commons

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.

The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.

No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.

The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.

“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.

The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.

A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.

The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.

Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.