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Bridging the Gap Between Academics and Policymakers June 03, 2009 P. K. Gautam

Director General’s N.S. Sisodia’s opinion piece “The Case to strengthen Indian think tanks” published in The Hindu on May 24, 2009 is timely. The United Service Institution of India (USI) has existed since 1870 and the IDSA since 1965. In Delhi, over the last decade, a number of new think tanks working on defence issues have been established, like the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS), Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), The National Maritime Foundation (NMF) and the Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS). Besides, there are other think tanks funded by non-governmental sources such as the Delhi Policy Group, Observer Research Foundation, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Society for Indian Ocean Studies, etc. The Indian Council of World Affairs has been in existence from the pre-partition period.

Mr. Sisodia points out that analysts in these think tanks have hardly any access to key officials and are further constrained by absence of data. General K, Sunderji’s posthumously published book Vision 2100: A Strategy for Twenty-First Century (2003) alluded to these barriers by explaining that the line staff is too busy fire-fighting and managing routine crisis to devote time for reading and recharging of professional batteries. The tendency is then to create think tanks, though these operate with only unclassified data. When institutions generate a new idea, the ministry takes a patronising line that the products are academically interesting, and that the line staff knows better since they deal with hard facts and real life situations. Former Officiating Director of the IDSA, Commodore (Retd.) C. Uday Bhaskar, had called it the ‘Vikramaditya syndrome’.

The problem stems from the fact that policy makers pretend to have no time to read books or articles. They want PowerPoint presentations and at best one page executive summaries, a tendency not limited to India but even prevalent in the United States. However, the fact remains that during the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis, John Kennedy was deeply influenced by historian Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August on how the pre-war crisis in Europe led to the outbreak of the First World War. Thus, the influence of academics on policy making can range from negligence to transformative. There is a division between theory and practice. Academics have a tendency to make lengthy arguments while policy makers have time for only a few pages. Also, policy makers must make decisions when they are only partially aware of factors at play, whereas academics are hesitant about reaching ‘hasty’ conclusions even when they have greater information at a later date. This was ironically best captured by Mao Zedong in the 1950s, when he purportedly responded to a question about the lessons of the French Revolution with the remark that ‘it is far too early to tell’.

One reason for India lagging behind in recent centuries has been attributed to the failure to create new universities and an education system. There is lack of a research and development culture geared towards improving old technologies and master new ones. The Mysore rocket in 1799 was far superior to British firepower. Modern historians recount that more British casualties resulted from rocket fire than from shells. It has been pointed out that there is no work on Indian science comparable to Joseph Needham’s on China. Needham had in fact noted in the foreword of a 1986 book that science and technology failed to flourish in China because of “bureaucratic feudalism”.

The ball is in the courts of both the think tank and policy communities. Think tanks need to get involved in theory creation, a task alas that is not even being done by Indian Universities as pointed out by Professor Amitabh Mattoo in his opinion piece “Upgrading the study of international relations” in the The Hindu on April 21, 2009. The few Indian universities dealing with defence, security, strategic studies, military science, peace research and conflict resolution need to be actively networked with International Relations and Area Studies Departments. Similarly, defence-focused think tanks need to be networked with training institutes such as War Colleges, Staff Colleges and National Defence Colleges. This need not await the inauguration of an Indian National Defence University. In any case, defence-focused think tanks and teaching and educational establishments of the defence forces are like high quality colleges and departments. One policy decision with least financial impact would be the introduction of Defence and Strategic Studies as a subject in the civil service examination.

Finally, the policy, think tank and academic communities, and indeed society at large have to rid themselves of old baggage. Edwards Shills in The Intellectual Between Tradition and Modernity: The India Situation (1961) had noted the sterility of the Indian intellectual. Nirad Chaudhury in The Intellectuals in India (1967) had pointed out that there had been (at that time) no original thinking even by research scholars and PhD candidates, who, moreover, put an end to their research the moment a secure job came their way. Of course, we have come a long way from these tendencies, but they still exist in some form and need to be overcome. At the same time, we also need to broaden and revive our school education system with new policies including doing away with rote learning.

Military Affairs Strategic Thinking, Think Tanks The Case for Employing Non-Lethal Weapons June 03, 2009 Arvind Dutta

At first glance, ‘Non-Lethal’ and ‘armed forces’ do not seem to go along, considering that the primary role of the military is to preserve national interests and safeguard territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of India against external threats. However, changes in the security dynamics have embroiled the Indian Army more and more in the secondary task of providing assistance to government agencies to cope with internal threats as part of ‘Aid to Civil Authority’ when requisitioned for the purpose. Consequently, the Indian Army has been actively involved in counter insurgency, civic action programmes (Operation Sadbhavana), disaster management and relief operations.

Army troops on numerous occasions have had to manage crowds during conduct of cordon and search operations and also while dealing with other agitations that go beyond the capability of civil administration. In fact, of late there is a growing trend of radicals and their sympathizers exploiting civilians, especially women and children, to launch public protests against the security forces. Some of these have at times turned violent. In a number of instances even army convoys have been targeted by violent mobs. A recent incident is of an army convoy getting attacked by Tamil Tiger supporters near Coimbatore in May 2009. In another incident, anti-army demonstrations broke out in Srinagar after a 10 year old girl was killed in a road accident involving a military vehicle in the same month. The recent riots in Punjab after a preacher from an Indian sect was killed by a rival Sikh group in Austria also brought agitating civilians and the army troops mobilized to control the situation face to face. Fortunately, it did not escalate beyond a point and lead to any unsavoury situation.

Such hostile actions if uncontrolled also have the potential of causing physical harm to the troops. Though the Indian army has, by and large, with its strict code of conduct of using minimum force, done an admirable job, its human rights record has occasionally been a subject of criticism. The response by the armed forces personnel in such situations is indeed mired by the decision dilemma of using a ‘shout’ (which may not be adequate) or a ‘bullet’ (which may be too much). This is an equation that has to be addressed very deliberately since insurgents/terrorists blow out of proportion even the minutest of perceived human rights violations by the security forces. The aforesaid discussion reveals the necessity of building an additional capability of ‘Non-Lethal Weapons’ (NLW) in the Army, albeit only to a limited extent. NLW can be defined as weapons explicitly designed and primarily employed to incapacitate personnel and materiel, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel, and undesired collateral damage to property and the environment.

NLW can be categorized into two kinds: Conventional -- tear gas, plastic bullets, tasers, sprays, which to an extent are already being used by some of our paramilitary and police agencies; and Unconventional -- high-power microwaves, low energy lasers, acoustic weapons, which so far do not seem to have been utilized by the Indian security forces. In principle, the use of non-lethal weapons should devolve on the paramilitary and central police forces. However, in some complex situations, their usage even by the army can help in limiting fatalities, lessening collateral property damage, and demonstrating the ability to mete out a controlled and graduated quantum of force, particularly when employed in internal security tasks.

Many countries across the world are currently developing and implementing new non-lethal capabilities with a view that many emerging and non-traditional threats can be effectively countered with a progressive response using non lethal weapons first. Such circ*mstances are common place in low intensity and asymmetric conflicts as well as in peacekeeping operations. Countries like the US are also engaged in capacity building of partner nations through programmes such as ‘NOLES’ – Non-Lethal Weapons Executive Seminar. It is NATO policy that Non-Lethal Weapons, relevant concepts of operations, doctrine and operational requirements shall be designed to expand the range of options available to NATO Military Authorities. Further, NLW should enhance the capability of NATO forces to achieve objectives such as accomplishing military missions and tasks in situations and conditions where the use of lethal force, although not prohibited, may not be necessary or desired; discourage, delay, prevent or respond to hostile activities; limit or control escalation; improve force protection; repel or temporarily incapacitate personnel; disable equipment or facilities. However, the spin-offs of using non-lethal weapons need to be weighed against the risks to security personnel vis-à-vis the general population.

Some situations in which select NLW can be effectively used are:

  • Controlling an unruly and hostile mob.
  • Capture of specific individuals amongst a crowd without endangering the lives of others.
  • During Cordon and Search operations, in some circ*mstances use of NLW can also help in capturing terrorists alive. Such successes assist in improving Intelligence acquisition. The case of capture of a Pakistani terrorist, Kasab, alive during Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2009 has amply showcased the importance of such achievements.
  • Hostage rescue. A lot of collateral damage by the NSG could have been avoided while flushing out the terrorists from Taj Hotel post Mumbai terrorist attacks.
  • Anti-hijack operations by specialized forces.
  • Peacekeeping Operations. Incidences such as when a stone thrown by mob smashed the nose of a deputy commander of the Indian peacekeeping force near Kibumba in the Congo in October 2008 could have been avoided.

Overall, by bridging the gap between verbal caution and the option of using lethal force, NLW allow greater flexibility to the commander. When confronted with situations where the use of weapons may actually blemish the army’s human and people centric approach NLW provide the buffer. The idea is not that the NLW should replace lethal weapons, but to integrate them in a complementary manner while conducting internal security tasks. Nuanced use of force will indeed help the Army in winning hearts and minds – a vital aspect in such tasks.

Military Affairs, Terrorism & Internal Security Counter Insurgency, Non-lethal Weapons The 2009 National Elections: Signals from the Kashmir Valley June 02, 2009 Arpita Anant

Elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, be they for the state legislature or Parliament, have become the symbol around which the contest for legitimacy between the separatists and mainstream political leadership takes place. The recently concluded election for six Parliamentary constituencies was no exception. In the five-phase elections that were held in the state in April-May 2009, 2,022 election rallies were held. Voting percentages ranged from a high of 61 per cent in Ladakh, 49 per cent in Jammu-Poonch, 45.3 per cent in Doda-Udhampur, 40 per cent in Baramula, 26 per cent in Anantnag and 25 per cent in Srinagar. According to media sources, neither the Army nor the Special Operations Group was used for security duty. 225 companies of paramilitary forces, local police, Indian Reserve Police, and Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police were deployed in Jammu during the first phase of elections and subsequently in other places. Excepting for direct clashes between groups supporting the Hurriyat’s 50-hour strike, there were no instances of security forces’ use of excessive force in the context of the election per se.

An analysis of the debate on the elections in the Kashmir Valley however reveals five interesting trends. The first is a continuing trend that may be gleaned from areas where very low voting took place, where people gave varied reasons for why they did or did not vote. Some among those who voted said their vote was for electricity, roads and water, others said it was for resolving the Kashmir issue. Yet others in Bijbehara and Butt Mohalla said they voted for the PDP as it was during its rule that they felt most secure, especially from the Special Operations Group. In Tral and Pampore in Anantnag constituency, no voting took place, and it was limited to a few pockets in the other towns. At polling booth 81-C, 2 out of 1134 people voted. At 68- A Jamia Masjid polling booth in old Baramula, no vote was cast. People cited reasons such as the 2007 Tabinda Gani murder case and “atrocities” against them during the Amarnath agitation as reasons for not voting. At Syed Salahuddin’s village, Soibugh, people did not vote reasoning that when an Assembly member cannot make a difference, how could a Member of Parliament solve their problems.

The second follows from the participation of Sajad Lone of the People’s Conference in the elections. While the separatists criticized the move, there was also support for his decision among his supporters in Kupwara who were urging him to contest even the Assembly elections. They are of the view that the separatists are not helping the Kashmiri cause and that there is a need for someone to represent Kashmir at the national level. The weekly Chattan wrote in Sadad’s defence that he is no ‘sell-out’ and that in fact he is attempting to create a democratic route to continue the Kashmiri struggle, to make it something more than an India-Pakistan issue. It lauded him as the only separatist leader to have provided an alternate and realistic vision for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. A former militant, who now writes for Greater Kashmir, Firdous Syed said in favour of Sajad: he always speaks for a change in strategy, not in ideology.

The third is revealed by the brief drama of the stand-off between the United Jihad Council and the APHC (M) regarding the issue of the boycotting of elections. A senior leader of the Hurriyat faction stated publicly that he would not follow the call of the United Jihad Council which according to him was a non-entity. He was criticized severely by the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Mahaz-i-Islam as well as by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (Rajbagh). Following this, there were angry protests during which, for the first time in the Valley, the effigy of a separatist leader was burnt. Eventually, the Mirwaiz had to announce a boycott of the election and heap praise on the militant leadership. The boycott call was also supported by the High Court Bar Association and Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen. However, the local media was highly critical of the non-efficacy of the separatist leadership. It went so far as to lambast the separatists for not being in a position to frame a programme for future action. One column pointed out that Geelani’s call had limited effectiveness in the Valley, clearly demonstrating that Jammu and Ladakh were pro-India. It went so far as to state that the UN Resolutions must take into consideration the wishes of these two regions as well. Another column added to this list of non-inclusivists, the Gujjars and the people of Gilgit and Baltistan. On a fairly critical note, a column in Chattan called for better co-ordination between the separatists and mainstream parties. Separatists, it said, need to give a positive direction to the ‘question of the gun’, find practical ways of protests other than boycott calls, not praise Pakistan and attempt to win the support of India’s Election Commission, administration and even the army.

The fourth relates to voting by the Kashmiri Pandits. 10,000 out of a total of 30,000 Kashmiri Pandit migrants cast their votes for which the Government had made special provisions. Their numbers were less because they had to register using “Form M”, which required documentary proof that the migrants could not provide. Kashmiri Pandit leaders felt that if existing lists of those registered with the Relief Organisation had been used, the voting percentage would have been substantially higher. To protest this and the non-fulfilment of longstanding demands such as reservations and setting up of welfare boards for the Pandits, the political party representing them, namely, the Jammu and Kashmir National United Front (JKNUF) did not field any candidate in the elections.

Finally, in response to several alarming reports on the possible entry of the Taliban into the state, a local daily carried the statement of a spokesman of the Taliban refuting these reports. The daily also noted that the Taliban have not issued any statements about Kashmir during this period.

These debates around the elections lend themselves to some interesting conclusions. First, a certain section of people in Kashmir expressed their disillusionment with the electoral process by not participating in the elections. Causes for such disillusionment will have to be addressed. Second, the reaction to Sajad Lone’s participation must be seen as being positive. It reveals that at least some sections of the people who support separatists would like to give a chance to democratic politics. Third, while the Valley continues to have its usual set of hardliners, thinking minds are aware of the limitations of separatist politics in the current milieu. Fourth, pending a final settlement of the issue of Pandit migrants, their concerns regarding participation in the electoral process need to be addressed. And finally, that the Kashmiris are very keen that they not be bracketed with the Taliban.

Terrorism & Internal Security Jammu and Kashmir, Elections Brief on India’s Neighbourhood May 28, 2009 South Asia cluster

Executive Summary

India's neighbourhood is in turmoil. This creates a variety of internal and external security challenges for the country. Terrorism, maritime security and border management are the key challenges. India needs to give focused attention to its neighbourhood as a stable and friendly South Asia is a sine qua non for its progress.
  • Pakistan: Pakistan is passing through an unprecedented political, economic and social crisis. The Islamic radical elements pose a threat to stability in Pakistan...
  • Afghanistan: India should be cautious about the Af-Pak strategy unveiled by the US as it has several inherent weaknesses...

  • Bangladesh: The massive mandate for change given to the Awami League by the voters presents an opportunity for India to work towards a better relationship with Bangladesh which stagnated during the BNP-led government...

  • Nepal: The fall of the Maoist-led government in May 2009 over the sensitive question of the integration of the Maoist cadres into the Nepalese army and civil-military relations has brought political instability to the country. This situation is likely to continue even though a new government led by UML has been installed...

  • Bhutan: India and Bhutan have signed a new treaty which gives Bhutan greater freedom of action in foreign affairs than was possible under the earlier treaty...

  • Sri Lanka: With the demise of Prabhakaran, a new chapter has opened in Sri Lanka. India should take advantage of the opportunity provided by the vanquishing of the LTTE...

  • Maldives: The elections in Maldives resulted in a peaceful change of government in the country. The new President is friendly towards India. India should work hard to deepen India- Maldives relations, particularly by increasing investment, technical assistance and trade...
South Asia Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, South Asia The Role of Science Fiction in Strategic Thinking May 26, 2009 Peter Garretson

The recent publication and controversy over STRATFOR founder George Friedman's The Next 100 Years, with its forecasts of war and new space technology reminds us all to consider the value of science fiction to strategic thinking.

Science Fiction is an underappreciated tool in a nation's and strategist's tool book as well as an underappreciated part of culture and literature. Many, because of a lack of scientific literacy or unfamiliarity confuse hard science fiction, often written by well qualified scientists, with fantasy. Many use the term pejoratively to denigrate an idea as being too remote and fantastic, as in "This is the stuff of science fiction." That is an unfortunate self-lobotomy of individuals and cultures that are held captive by the tyranny of the now, or of the past.

No culture is naturally strategic. Strategy is an uphill battle, a constant struggle for all levels of all organizations. It is the natural instinct to be biased in favour of the present and its concerns, and not to consider the far-term and its implications. If one culture appears more strategic, it is only because at that particular period of time, there is some core of strategists, of gadflies prodding their establishments to take a longer view, and a calculated influence campaign fought through media and entertainment to value the future. Perhaps over time, nurture and inspire others, and like a nuclear reactor, keep enough interactions going so they don't entirely fizzle out. Occasionally they can be brought together in enough concentration to create enough heat to drive the turbines of society in new and productive directions.

One tool to nurture such interactions is Science Fiction. Science Fiction is basically a special form of scenario planning, a one-to-many publication of some possible future, based upon an extrapolation of trends and technology to examine what they mean to the human enterprise. It informs us as to the desirability of alternate paths we may take or shy away from. It helps us understand the implications of decisions in the now, of problems we may encounter as a result, and allows us a window into microcosms of cause and effect. It helps make the unfamiliar familiar and understandable, thereby steeling us for change and preventing future shock. It provides us with organizing gestalts, models for our behaviour and organization. It allows us to criticise the present, freeing us from the tyranny of the now. Like all of our senses, it is a sort of evolutionary adaptation that helps us to "see over the next hill" and to explore the territory ahead.

The ability to see which trends and technologies might be important, to suspend belief and project those implications into the future, to see how those factors will interact with other factors, and then to imagine oneself as an actor in that future, with those circ*mstances and causality and rule sets is a special talent. It requires a mind not only trained and agile for analysis, but for synthesis, for breaking down old patterns and reassembling their constituents.

SciFi typically aims to cast broadly, aiming for a mass audience. Societally, it helps us explore and be prepared for new possibilities or eventualities. Like many seeds being cast widely, some occasionally reach fertile soil, get planted in the right mind, and helps organize their own vision of the future. Take for instance this sentence from Indian IT entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani's book Imagining India, "As a teenager, I also read plenty of science fiction stories by American writers that portrayed computers..." Or consider in how many areas life has imitated art, such as the advent of submarines, powered flight, atomic power, space travel, computers, cell phones, and virtual reality. All things are created twice, and the first creation is in the mind.

But the special skills that a science fiction author has need not only be limited to the mass audience. Many times governments and think tanks bring together diverse groups of people to think about the future and our strategy in the present to arrive at or avoid some particular vision of the future. But too often, we neglect, or discount the contribution that such a mind could make. The SF writers’ special mental agility causes them to think on different lines, and ask different questions that lead to more robust and better analysis. They are a good hedge against "a failure of imagination." And contrary to popular belief, in real practice, they do not take discussions down wasteful fantastic diversions. However their presence does create a sort of permission for others to be less conventional in their thinking and more creative, which is a benefit in itself.

Some organizations, at some times, have made exceptional use of science fiction authors. In the 1995-1996 time frame, the US Air Force brought in multiple science fiction authors as part of its AF2025 project. Currently within the United States, several organizations, from intelligence, to military, to homeland security, to DARPA create structured opportunities for brainstorming and discussion with groups of eminent science fiction authors. An example of an organized group of science fiction authors as a think tank "science fiction in the public interest" is SIGMA (, which routinely offers its services to government and multi-government agencies.

But the initiative to convene such get together rests with the strategists, and their ability to create the space and seriousness to make use of this talent. Like all strategic thought, it involves risk, and requires organizational self-confidence. But many organizations have tried this approach already and were happy enough to do it at least a second time and recommend it to others.

As India grows in its volume of organized strategic thought, it is inevitable that it turns to its own internal science fiction talent to help it understand and envision its future, and to broadcast it widely to inspire and prepare the greater populace. But the initiative to take ownership of, and make use of this strain of Indian strategic culture will continue to rest with India's existing strategic community, and their ability to be bold and forward thinking.

Military Affairs Science Fiction, Strategic Thinking Economic Downturn: Options for MoD May 26, 2009 Laxman Kumar Behera

The present global economic crisis has slowed down the growth of the Indian economy, affecting among others, the fiscal situation and the revenue mobilisation potential of the central government. Defence being one of the largest recipients of central government expenditure, the present crisis casts a doubt on the adequacy of future resources. This commentary discusses some major options that India’s Ministry of Defence needs to consider in order to withstand the likely resource constraints in the coming years.

The global economic crisis has hit hard the Indian economy. From an annual average of 8.6 per cent growth registered during the past five years (2004-05 to 2008-09), the Indian economy is projected to grow, according to the latest assessment by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), by merely 4.5 per cent in 2009. The future growth prospect is also not so encouraging (although not so depressing vis-à-vis the present year’s projection). The IMF projects that India’s real gross domestic product (GDP) will grow marginally higher at 5.6 per cent in 2010. Beyond that the economic growth will pick up momentum, reaching a peak of 8.1 per cent in 2012, and thereafter sliding marginally to 8.0 per cent in 2013, says Economist Intelligence Unit. However, the highest growth rate in the next four years is expected to remain well below the average growth registered in the past five years.

To combat the gloomy economic environment, the central government has increased public spending, in a move to revive the economy. The increased public spending has however not accompanied proportionate increase in the government’s revenue earnings, due largely to a fall in overall economic activities. As a result the fiscal deficit – difference between the government’s revenues and expenditures – as a proportion of GDP has widened significantly. From 2.7 per cent in 2007-08, the deficit has so far increased to an estimated 6.5 per cent in the present fiscal year. Moreover, the deficit is most likely to increase as the government intends more stimulus packages to propel the economy.

The widening gulf between the government’s revenue and expenditure is however not expected to continue forever. The central government is bound by the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Act that requires the elimination of the revenue deficit and limits fiscal deficit to 3.0 per cent of GDP. The present crisis has nonetheless forced the government to deviate from the Act, but it is committed to come back to the targets as soon as possible. In other words, the government would consolidate its revenue/fiscal position, once the economy gains strength. However, the consolidation process would be slow, as the economy will take some time before it reaches the momentum seen in the past 4-5 years. The slow consolidation process would mean limited manoeuvrability of the central government to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy. This will affect many, including the Ministry of Defence, which has complete dependence on central government funding.

During the current economic downturn, the MoD’s 2009-10 budget, which has registered a growth of nearly 34 per cent over the previous year’s allocations of Rs. 1,41,703 crores is impressive, with no sign of fiscal stress. It is noteworthy that much of the growth of the current year’s allocation is accounted for by the surge in revenue expenditure (which caters to the running or operating expenditure of the defence services), necessitated by the hefty increase in pay and allowances flowing from the recent revision of pay scales of the central government employees. The real fiscal stress is evident on the side of capital expenditure which largely caters to the modernisation needs of the armed forces. In the 2009-10 Budget the capital expenditure has decreased to 14.20 per cent, compared to last year’ growth of 14.5 per cent. Considering that the Armed Forces are on a major modernisation drive, even a marginal slowdown in capital expenditure speaks of the scarcity of resources at a time of economic stress.

Given that the economic environment will likely remain less than benign in coming years, the MoD would find it difficult to sustain high growth of its resource base, which is already high after the current year’s pay revisions. Further, the fiscal consolidation that will go along with economic recovery will limit total spending capacity of the central government, adding further pressure on the defence budget. In this scenario, an annual increase of 10 per cent each year for the next 4-5 years will be optimistic (this is not to argue that the government will not allocate higher resources if the security situation so demands). Any growth below this optimistic level however painful may not be surprising given the present situation.

The modernisation of the Armed Forces depends on a higher level of resource allocation; any potential short supply of resources will certainly affect the services, and their modernisation efforts. Unfortunately, there is no acceptable short-term solution to counter the decreased supply of resources, unless the MoD as a part of immediate measures, cuts down some of the planned procurement programmes or adopts other measures that affect current or future operational readiness. Given that these short-terms measures would be vehemently opposed, the solution has to be viewed from a medium- to long-term perspective.

As a medium-term measure, the MoD needs to curb wasteful expenditure in defence, which primarily occurs due to duplication efforts by the services, and inefficiencies in some organisations. Duplication of efforts could be curbed through sharing of assets of common use, merging training infrastructure, and formulating an integrated procurement plan of the three services. At the same time a great deal of savings could be effected through application of information and communication technology (ICT) in all spheres of defence management and by adopting better inventory management methods and outsourcing of non-core activities to the private sector. Savings could also be made by eliminating inefficiencies that have crept into existing defence support service providers like Military Farms (MFs).

Presently, the manpower cost (excluding defence pension, which is not part of the defence budget) exerts a heavy yet rising pressure on the overall defence budget. From nearly a quarter of the budget in the previous year, it has increased to about a third in 2009-10, thereby reducing the share of the modernisation budget of the armed forces. Besides, an annual increase of five per cent in pay and allowance will automatically increase the budget by over Rs. 2,225 crores. As modern warfare becomes increasingly technology-centric, the rising manpower cost need to be controlled in order to free more resources for technology upgradation. This however requires a comprehensive review of the current manpower policy. The MoD and the Armed Forces need to act on recommendations of various Committees, which have reported that a combination of measures such as Voluntary National Service, reduced terms of engagement and lateral transfers, among others, could have profound impact on reducing manpower costs.

Due to variety of reasons, a huge sum of resources under capital expenditure remains unspent. In the last eight years (2000-01 to 2007-08), the underutilisation of capital budget ranges from Rs. 1,490 crores to Rs. 6,500 crores, amounting to four to 31 per cent of total budgeted capital expenditure. At a time of fiscal stress, this is the least desirable. The unspent funds in reality mean forfeiting and delaying modernisation. Though the MoD has undertaken several reviews of the Defence Procurement Procedure (Capital), the inadequacies still persist. The biggest inadequacy of the present system is the lack of an integrated approach for acquisition. In the absence of that various functional elements such as QR (qualitative requirements) formulation, trial and technical evaluation among others are undertaken by different bodies, without a single point of accountability. The Kelkar Committee Report (Part-I) of 2005 had recommended examining the feasibility of an integrated defence acquisition body, which would encompass all the functional elements of acquisition, under one head. Considering that acquisition within a stipulated time saves money in the long-run, it is time that the MoD takes a pragmatic view of creating an intergraded defence acquisition structure.

In India the capabilities of the private sector, in terms of financial, technological and managerial efficiency, has so far not been fully exploited for country’s defence. Until recently it was debarred from direct production of defence items. Though the MoD since 2001, has allowed private companies to participate in defence production, a significant barrier still persists. The private sector has no formal clue about the materiel needs of the armed forces, is discriminated against the established public sector production enterprises, and not trusted for undertaking any major developmental/production assignments. Consequently, no private company as of now has come up with any major breakthrough in complete systems integration. Considering that the private sector has the potential of accruing savings through faster innovation, better project management, and competition, the government needs to facilitate sector in a more proactive way for long-term benefits.

The present global economic crisis has affected major advanced countries, such as the US, the UK, and France among others, with substantial defence industrial capability. The defence companies in these counties are expected to face a decrease in their government’s military spending and a fall in domestic procurement budget, adding more pressure on their balance sheets. Exports will be a major option to compensate the fall in domestic demand. Offsets and other arrangements will be aggressively resorted to win potential customers in the arms market which in the post-Cold War period is increasingly favourable to the buying countries. India, which has an offsets policy since 2005, needs to leverage its huge buying power in this environment. However, the present policy needs a bit of revision. The present offset threshold limit of 30 per cent needs to be scaled upward to 50 percent or more and, at the same time, applied across the board on contracts worth Rs. 100 crores or less (presently, offsets are applied on contracts worth Rs. 300 crores or more). The increased inflow of investments/work to be generated through revised offset conditions can then be suitably directed to pre-identified areas for strengthening India’s domestic industrial capabilities, which would go a long way in reducing the import cost of defence items in the long run.

The present economic crisis, which has affected the Indian economy, is likely to persist for some time in the coming years, though its intensity may reduce subsequently. The impact of the crisis is likely to be felt on defence spending in two ways: slow economic growth will reduce availability of resources for defence in a period of crisis; and, once the economy bounces back to its earlier growth trajectory, the fiscal consolidation process will put pressure on defence spending, in the post-crisis period. In the absence of any acceptable immediate measures, the MoD needs to take some medium- to long-term measures to weather below-expected supply of resources. Among others, the MoD needs to curb wasteful expenditure, control rising manpower cost, reform its acquisition structure, proactively engage the private sector in defence production and pursue an aggressive offset policy.

Defence Economics & Industry Defence Offsets, Economic Crisis, Defence Budget India's Defence Offset Policy March 2009 Laxman Kumar Behera

Although India has established a formal mechanism for implementation of the defence offset policy, the structure and procedures lack the thrust to fulfil the objective of energizing the Indian defence industry. Besides, the policy is not supported by the existing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and licensing policies. While evidence suggests that domestic industry can absorb offsets, what India needs is an effective body to handle offsets, liberal FDI and licensing policies, and a better banking provision. Also there is a need for a clear roadmap for transfer of technology through offsets, keeping in view India's long-term military industrial objectives.

Defence Economics & Industry Defence Offsets, Defence Industry, Defence Technology Sino-Japanese relations warming up following Aso’s Beijing Sojourn May 22, 2009 Pranamita Baruah

On the invitation of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso paid an official visit to China on April 29-30. This was Aso’s first official visit to China since he took office in September 2008. Aso’s visit is significant in more than one way. Being the first between leaders of the two countries in 2009, it was important as it came after a number of exchanges of high level visits in 2008. Aso’s visit was expected to advance China-Japan strategic relations further.

Sino-Japanese relations are considered significant not only due to friendly relations between the two states that date back more than 2000 years, but also because they are considered two major powers of present day Asia. Although historical factors like Japanese isolationist policy, Japanese war crimes in China etc., deterred the two East Asian neighours from reaching out to each other, the signing of the Joint Statement in 1972 norrmalized bilateral relations. Since then, the 1972 Joint statement, the Treaty of Peace and Friendship (1978) and the Sino-Japanese Joint Declaration (1998) continue to be the bedrock for friendly cooperative relations between the two countries. In 1998, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s repeated visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine enshrining 14 Japanese Class A war criminals hurt the sentiments of the Chinese people. This led to a ‘frosty’ bilateral relationship between the two, which changed in October 2006 when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited China breaking the ice. The two countries agreed to foster mutually beneficial relations based on common strategic interests in a bid to realize ‘peaceful coexistence friendship for generations, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.’ Following Abe’s visit, Premier Wen Jiabao’s April 2007 Tokyo visit and December 2007 Prime Minister Yasuo f*ckuda’s Beijing visit helped strengthen Sino-Japanese bilateral relations further. Then during President Hu Jintao’s ‘warm spring’ state visit to Japan in May 2008, both the countries issued a joint statement promising complete promotion of strategic and mutually beneficial relations. The ‘China-Japan Exchange Year of Culture and Sports’ (2007) and the ‘China-Japan Friendly Exchange Year of the Youth’ (2008) also ushered in a new era in the cultural exchanges and exchanges between the younger generations of the two countries. Subsequently, bilateral economic and trade relations received impetus, with two-way trade galloping by 13.8 percent in 2007.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, before taking up the post, expressed hope to strengthen Japan-China relations by promoting friendly relations. Subsequently, Aso met with high-level Chinese delegates at various multilateral fora and continued to emphasize the necessity of deepening mutual understanding and trust for the advancement of strategic and mutually beneficial ties between Japan and China. During Aso’s recent visit to Beijing, it was expected that a step would be taken to advance strategic and mutually friendly relations between the two states.

Economic issues dominated the discussion during Aso’s visit. In April, 2009, the IMF predicted that Japan’s economy will shrink by 6.2 percent during the course of the year, while economic growth for China will be around 6.5 percent. China, being the largest trading partner of Japan, it is only natural that both the states discuss the possible strategies to be adopted to deal with the problems caused by the ongoing global economic meltdown. As the bilateral trade volume has already dropped by 24 percent to $46 billion in the first quarter of 2009, during Aso’s visit, Chinese Premier Hu Jintao stated that “with the international financial crisis looming and bilateral trade declining, both countries should take effective measures to boost our trade and investment.” Hu also proposed both countries step up information sharing and policy coordination, work more closely on key sectors of energy-conservation and environmental projects, information communication and advanced technology. Aso called for the maintenance of close high-level communication and better coordination between the two countries on the global economic down turn.

During his interaction with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao, Aso also agreed to join hands with China in reviving the Asian and world economies. While calling the China-Japan relationship as “one of the most important bilateral relationships” in the world, Wen proposed the promotion of multilaterization of the Chiang Mai Initiative (a bilateral currency swap arrangement to help countries tackle a possible foreign capital flow shortage) and the construction of the Asian bond market. Japan, China, South Korea and ASEAN states have already agreed to inject 120 billion U.S. dollars into the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilaterization, the regional foreign reserve pool to deal with a financial crisis in the future. Wen Jinbao also urged both the states to firmly oppose trade protectionism, strengthen international financial monitoring and seek positive results in the reform of the international financial system. Both Aso and Wen have also agreed to hold a high-level economic dialogue among cabinet members in Tokyo on 7 June, 2009.

The swine flu A (H1N1) issue also figured prominently in the discussion. Both Aso and Wen promised all-out efforts to contain the spread of the flu. China has already established a mechanism to prevent and contain the spread of swine flu, which is expected to enhance international information flow and cooperation to safeguard public health.

As Aso’s visit came amid heightened regional tensions after North Korea’s purported satellite launch over Japan on April 5, discussion on it constituted another important issue on the agenda. China and North Korea are communist allies and their bilateral relationship continues unaffected despite fierce international criticism following the satellite launch. On the other hand, Japan’s relationship with the North is not yet normalized, particularly because of the latter’s security threat to Japan with its nuclear program and the North’s past abductions of Japanese citizens. During Aso’s visit, he was keen to enlist Chinese help in persuading Pyongyang to return to the Six-Party Talks on its nuclear program, as the North has walked away from the negotiating table in the wake of UN criticism over its rocket launch in early April, 2009. Unfortunately, China continues to take a softer line on North Korea. In fact, in early April, just before North Korea’s rocket launch, Chinese President Hu Jintao rebuffed Aso’s request for China to back a new UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions against Pyongyang.

Aso pledged to work together with China in expanding cooperation in energy saving and environmental sectors as well as climate change. Both Aso and Wen have agreed on a comprehensive cooperation plan between the two nations on environmental and energy conservation measures. The new plan includes steps to deal with yellow sand and acid rain blown by winds from China that have affected various parts of Japan in recent years. The proposed plan also includes ways to improve facilities at China’s coal-burning thermal power plants that belch out huge amount of carbon dioxide. While in China, Aso also took time out to visit a China-Japan environmental project in Beijing that has implemented a pilot program to cut greenhouse emissions using Japanese technology.

Another important aspect of Aso’s recent Beijing visit has been Chinese Premier’s emphasis that Japan honour its promise to handle historical issues appropriately as they are highly sensitive. He also called on governments and political figures on both sides to adhere to the principles outlined in the important bilateral political documents which have been signed between the two states so far. Wen expressed China’s willingness to cooperate with Japan to expand youth and non-governmental exchanges and to boost understanding between the peoples of both countries. On his part, Aso stated that Japan’s stance on historical issues has been fully reflected in the official statements issued by the Japanese Prime Ministers during 1995-2005 where the main spirit has been to face up to history and keep oriented to the future. Aso pledged that his government’s policy would remain unchanged as far as historical issues are concerned. With a view to boosting people-to-people exchanges between China and Japan, Tokyo has already decided to host 100 junior and senior high school students from the region devastated by the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. Tokyo will also allow Chinese citizens to travel to Japan outside of group tours. Regular charter flight services between Haneda and Beijing airports are also going to start from October 2009.

Despite the positive outcome of Aso’s visit, certain points of friction still remain. Among historical issues, the Yasukuni Shrine controversy is probably the most prominent source of concern. Just before his visit to China, Aso stirred a controversy by sending an offering to Yasukuni Shrine. While expressing its ‘serious concern and dissatisfaction’ over Aso’s offering, the Chinese authority warned of ‘a serious and negative influence to bilateral relations’. Although the Chinese side did not make any move to cancel Aso’s planned visit to Beijing one week later or did not push the issue further during his visit, similar moves by Japanese leadership in the future may prove quite detrimental to the advancement of Sino-Japanese relations.

East Asia Taro Aso, China-Japan Relations, Japan, China Learning the right lessons on the just concluded counter insurgency operations in Sri Lanka May 22, 2009 P. K. Gautam

The death of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE) leader Prabhakran closes a chapter in the first counter insurgency success of the 21st century by military means. A greater challenge in nation building now faces the Sri Lankan people - integrating the Tamils in their society dominated by Sinhala Buddhists.

Purely from a military point of view some important lessons and some areas of further inquiry emerge. In brief they are:

(a) Validation of Edward Luttwak’s thesis of allowing war to run to a logical conclusion, rather than interrupt it by foreign intervention. He floated this idea in a Foreign Affairs article “ Give War a Chance” in 1996. The analysis was basically to discourage US intervention in asymmetric wars. Nevertheless, as a theory it had a point. This then leads to weighing up on the idea of humanitarian crisis and genocide. The international community did not treat the conflict in Srilanka a genocide demonstrating the skillful diplomacy of the Sri Lankan leadership. Will this model be the good practice in the ongoing counter insurgency operations in South Asia? It is unlikely that the Indian state will ever resort to this model, since it sees the political process as an integral part of its overall strategy.

(b) The Indian Peace Keeping Force fought the LTTE from 1987 to 1990. Admittedly this was a military and diplomatic failure. What needs to be studied is how the Sri Lankan military trained and performed in counter insurgency operations over two decades. It overcame a high rate of desertion and finally made the LTTE fight on its own terms. However, post the operations, the continued militarisation of society on chauvinistic Sinhala lines will lead to tensions. Thus a truth and reconciliation commission must be formed. Here the Buddhist concept of compassion or Karuna must be applied. International figures such as the Dalai Lama need to be proactive involved in peace building and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

(c) The Sri Lankan military must now mirror society. Just as India raised the Naga Regiment, Tamil troops can be enlisted in the military in a graduated manner. This will be a great challenge, but enlightened leadership must learn from the India example where minority communities such as Sikhs have a high proportion in the armed force. With a reformed military, the Sri Lankan Army can now get set to contribute to United Nations peace keeping missions and also earn the necessary foreign exchange and international goodwill. Ecological Task Forces of the Sri Lankan army can be raised on disbandment of the excess military manpower on lines of the Territorial Army in India. Ecological tasks are immense in Sri Lanka and disciplined soldiers can be re- employed en masse in an era of job losses and financial meltdown. Over the last century much of the forest cover in Srilanka has been destroyed. Deforestation has seriously diminished timber supplies, made soil less productive and affected natural water supply. A reforestation programme by incorporating ETF will be very useful. It will also help contain the widespread soil erosion. The country can also make a case for getting carbon credits via the clean development mechanism of the Kyoto protocol for afforestation.

(d) Diaspora politics by way of ideology and funds indicates that long distance nationalism or support for the Tamil cause may continue from abroad. Srilankan leaders must also include these diaspora groups in the peace process and negotiations. Ignoring them will be counter productive.

(e) Finally a historical analysis of raising or supporting ethnic and religious groups by foreign powers in South Asia needs to be revisited. Raising the Taliban at the behest of the US, or Bhindaranwale by India boomeranged, the idea of nurturing the LTTE by the Indian state in the initial phases must now be debated. It is obvious that it was not a good idea. It has taken over two decades to come to this conclusion. Good strategy is lasting peace and to that end it is time now that covert support must be consigned to 20th century history. Dialogue within South Asian countries must be initiated to end this baggage of the past.

Military Affairs Counter Insurgency, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Sri Lanka Space as the Source of Our Future Energy May 22, 2009 Peter Garretson

The idea is to launch giant orbiting solar collectors into space, where there is no night, and beam the power to receivers on the ground, where it is fed as electricity to the grid. Long championed by former President Dr. Abdul Kalam, and the Aerospace Society of India (AeSI), the idea is seen as a long-term solution for energy security and climate change, and the most environmentally benign and scalable renewable energy option, which deserves its own focused development programme.

Such satellites would be the largest, most ambitious space projects ever contemplated. A single solar power satellite would be several kilometres long, with a transmitting antenna about a kilometre across, and generate between one and ten Gigawatts (as much power as 10 nuclear power plants). It might weigh tens of thousands of metric tons and would require a fleet of reusable space vehicles to construct. Follow-on designs might use materials from the Moon.

Existing communications satellites use a similar process, using the power of the Sun on their solar arrays to power a radio transmitter for sending radio and television signals. But the small antenna on communications satellites prevents them from being able to focus a beam for power-beaming. To beam power, the transmitter must be increased to almost a kilometre long, and a special receiver, a rectifying antenna, or rectenna is required. The rectenna would be several kilometres across, about the size of a municipal airport, made of a thin metal mesh, and would be 80 per cent transparent to sunlight, allowing the land underneath it to be used for pastoral, agricultural use or production of algae biodiesel. Far from some scary space-ray, the large transmitting and receiving antenna, the high conversion efficiency, and the constant availability allow the beam to be very low power—about a sixth the strength of sunlight on a warm sun tan beach day. Except that sunlight contains high frequency ultraviolet rays which can strip off electrons in our cells and cause cancer. The beam from a Solar Power Satellite would be of low frequency, very similar to current wi-fi devices, and is non-ionizing and not dangerous like UV.

Proponents feel it is an attractive option for several reasons. One, by 2025 the world will have added another two billion people, its energy needs will have doubled, the combustion of fossil fuels will continue to alter the composition of the atmosphere with concerns about climate change, and by mid-century we would have exhausted most of our fossil fuels. By mid-century India alone would have added 300,000,000 people, expanded its electrical generating capacity eleven-fold, from 121 GWe to 1350 GWe, moved upwards of 60 per cent of its population to cities, and exhausted all or almost all of its fossil resources. How are we to maintain a sustainable civilization if we remain a closed system and never access the vast wealth of all the rest of the universe?

In space faring advocate Mike Snead’s excellent paper, “The End of Easy Energy and What to Do About It,” he lays out the need and opportunity for Space Solar Power. Today the total world needs about 81 Billion Barrel of Oil Equivalent (BOE) thermal or about 15 TWe. And by 2100, to complete development to the “gold standard” of 30 BOE per capita, will require an expansion to probably 300 billion BOE, or roughly 55 TWe. By 2100 we will probably be about 50 years beyond the age of oil, and will have had to increase our renewable/sustainable energy 26 times. Even with a massive up-scaling of terrestrial renewable energy in the most optimistic estimates, the deficit is still close to 60 per cent. 55TWe is just very hard to come by on Earth. But what if we go to space, where energy is abundant, where the Sun never sets and delivers up to 9 times as much energy per unit area as on Earth, and 24 hours a day? There, in the Geostationary belt alone, is thought to be in excess of 177TWe of exploitable green solar energy—and it will be there for at least a billion years. If we could provide 55 GWe of green energy we fix our climate and energy problems in the long run, and we would grow the Gross World Product (GWP) over ten-fold. Imagine a world greater than an order of magnitude wealthier, a world fully developed with the security that a high standard of living brings. Can we afford to ignore a resource that vast? Does not extraordinary reward justify extraordinary effort? Those in the space movement think it cannot be ignored and that we need not only have to look beneath our feet for our energy, but can look to the stars for renewable, sustainable, scalable energy, and for a cleaner, brighter tomorrow.

Non-Traditional Security Satellite, Space Solar Power, Space Technology
Publication | Page 549 | Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (2024)
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