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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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Taiwan President Announced Re- election after she Spoke Against China’s President Suggestion

Tsai indicated she plans to run for another four-year term as president.

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taiwan, china, president
FILE - Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a news conference in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 5, 2019. VOA

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced her re-election bid this week following a bump in public polling that came after she spoke out against Chinese President Xi Jinping’s suggestion that Taiwan and China unify as one country.

She was polling at 24 percent after her party lost local elections in November. In January she was speaking out every few days against Xi’s idea and her approval ratings hit 34.5 percent by Jan. 21, according to a Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation survey.

On Wednesday, Tsai indicated she plans to run for another four-year term as president. Inspired by her jump in approval ratings, Tsai will center at least the early part of her campaign over the coming year on raising public suspicion of China, political scientists say.

“Their campaign strategy is to speak of hating China, fearing China and refusing China,” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the international affairs college at National Chengchi University. If officials reiterate these messages and they appear in the mass media, he said, “ultimately people will be affected by them.”

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the 1940s and insists that the two sides eventually unify. Most Taiwanese oppose that outcome.

 

taiwan, china, president
FILE- President of China Xi Jinping arrives for the APEC CEO Summit 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Nov. 17, 2018. VOA

Opportunity to talk about China

The Chinese president’s Jan. 2 speech urging Taiwan to accept unification gave Tsai an unexpected opening to warn citizens against ties with China, political experts say.

In his remarks, Xi urged Taiwan to merge with China under a “one country, two systems” model that his government applies now to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is ruled from Beijing, but local officials make some decisions.

China has claimed Taiwan since the Chinese Civil War, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists lost and rebased their government in Taiwan. Tsai took office in 2016. Since then she has irked China by refusing to negotiate on the condition that both sides belong to one China.

More than 70 percent of Taiwanese say in government surveys they prefer today’s self-rule, or full legal independence from China, over unification.

In one comment since the Chinese president’s speech, Tsai warned at an impromptu news conference Wednesday against any China-Taiwan peace agreement.

“China’s military ambitions and not giving up deployment of arms against Taiwan are making the region unstable,” she said. “As China doesn’t give up weapons aimed at Taiwan and emphasizes ‘one country, two systems,’ there’s no way to negotiate equally and there can’t be any real peace.”

Knack for China issues

Tsai, as former chairwoman of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and a former government official in charge of Taiwan’s China policy, knows the issue particularly well, said Lin Chong-pin, a retired strategic studies professor in Taiwan.

“This is her forte,” Lin said. “She has been immersed in it for 18 long years.”

Since 2016, China has shown displeasure with Tsai by passing military aircraft and ships near Taiwan and persuading five foreign countries to switch allegiance from Taipei to Beijing. Taiwan has just 17 allies left.

“In international relations, what she can do is limited, we all know that, but in winning the public support in Taiwan, especially on controversial issues like ‘one country, two systems,’ she’s very, very capable,” Lin said.

Her party takes a guarded view of China compared to Taiwan’s main opposition camp, which advocates that the two sides talk on Beijing’s condition.

taiwan, china, president
FILE – Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je casts his ballot at a polling station, Nov. 24, 2018, in Taipei, Taiwan. VOA

Tough campaign

According to a survey released Thursday by Taiwan television network TVBS, Tsai would take 16 percent of the vote if the presidential race were held today and she ran against non-party aligned Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and Han Kuo-yu, opposition Nationalist Party mayor of the southern city Kaohsiung. The two mayors would get shares of more than 30 percent each, TVBS said.

taiwan, china, president
FILE – Nationalist Party’s Han Kuo-yu reacts after winning the mayoral election in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Nov. 24, 2018. VOA

Much of the public wants Tsai to stand up against China but also take stronger action on domestic economic problems, voters said in interviews in November. Among the domestic issues: low wages compared to other parts of Asia and rising costs, especially real estate.

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“She has already shown that she is against the ‘one family, two sides’ or ‘one country, two systems.’ That’s good,” said Shane Lee, political scientist with Chang Jung Christian University in Taiwan. “That will probably give her some points. But domestically there are many policies she will have to change.” (VOA)