The Controversy over the Army Chief's Age

The entire controversy about General VK Singh's DOB was stoked in 2006 by the powers that were then within the Army to tamper with the so-called line of succession.  At the time, Deepak Kapoor was to be the next COAS followed by VK Singh. These two appointments could not have been tampered with, but by restricting VK Singh to a slightly more than two-year tenure, it ensured that Bikram Singh would become the COAS in 2012 rather than KT Parnaik who otherwise would succeed VK Singh in 2013.

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An Attack on Pakistan is an Attack on Islam

The image of Pakistan , as evinced by global media reports, throws up a large number of contradictions that seem irreconcilable. On the one hand there is the often-presented romanticized picture of a tolerant Islamic state, conjuring up images of a nation worthy of inspiring the Arabian Nights. A “responsible” nation wronged by India and by the United states , a misunderstood nation that symbolizes peace and equality of Islam. A forward looking nation led by a latter-day Ataturk, who speaks of “enlightened moderation” as the cure to Pakistan’s problems caused by rampant religious fundamentalism.

On the other hand there is the less flattering picture of
Pakistan , one of a nation that maintains training schools for Islamic terrorists who operate from India to Indonesia and from the Philippines to Russia . The nation housing the headquarters of international terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (Army of the Pure) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (Army of the Prophet Mohammad). The nation that harbors the Al Qaeda and gave rise to the Taliban, under whose bigoted rule, millennia old statues of the Buddha, apostle of peace, were destroyed as statues were “anti-Islamic”[i]. A nation that holds and protects, without punishment or censure, and with state sanction, international criminals like Abdul Qadeer Khan, a nuclear weapons proliferator [ii], Dawood Ibrahim, a millionaire thug, leader of an international crime syndicate, and mass murderer responsible for one of the most heinous terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India in 1992 [iii], and Omar Saeed Sheikh, a kidnapper and murderer, the mastermind behind the beheading of the Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl. A nation in which women are possessions who can be raped and then punished for adultery [iv], and where female toddlers can be betrothed to adults as punishment for a crime by a third party [v]. A nation of poverty and illiteracy, led by a fantastically wealthy military elite leadership, who simultaneously claim the ability to control their nation, as well as inability to control parts of their nation [vi].

Is there any way in which these divergent and at times contradictory views of
Pakistan can be reconciled? 

It turns out that it is possible to reconcile these views, provided one is able to consciously give up the notion that religion has no role to play in affairs of the Pakistani state. The separation of religion from state, to produce a secular government is a construct that seems to work in Western and some non-western democracies. In such systems, the national laws and government do not interfere with the religious beliefs of the citizens because they view religion as a private, personal issue. Religious leaders in turn do not have the power or the authority to interfere with government policy. Religion and national policies form separate “compartments”, either of which cannot dictate terms to the other, and it is assumed that state policies on international relations with other countries are not motivated by religious concerns. However, this deliberate separation of religious affairs and affairs of the state has never existed in Pakistan, where religion is used with state sanction to whatever extent necessary, and without following any firm rules about the extent to which religion can control the government, or vice versa.

The role of Islam in
Pakistan should not be underestimated. Ignoring this or sidelining the role of Islam in Pakistan can only lead to a failure to understand Pakistani compulsions and actions.

The Islamic
republic of Pakistan was born as a nation for Muslims. Pakistan watcher and recognized friend of Pakistan , Stephen Cohen, chose to describe Pakistan as follows: “ Pakistan was to be an extraordinary state--a homeland for Indian Muslims and an ideological and political leader of the Islamic world. Providing a homeland to protect Muslims--a minority community in British India--from the bigotry and intolerance of India's Hindu majority was important”[vii] 

“Bigotry and intolerance” of hundreds of millions of Hindus, who had been under Muslim or British rule for several centuries, is mentioned casually as a truism for which Muslims needed protection in a separate nation, Pakistan. This ideology had no place for the protection of Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists, also religious minorities and presumably at equal risk from Hindu bigotry. The new state was formed for Muslims. With the word “Paki” meaning pure,
Pakistan was to be a state of pure Islam, purely for Muslims, despite the early rhetoric of a soon-to-die Jinnah.[viii] One of the rallying cries of this new Islamic state was “What is the meaning of Pakistan ? There is no God but Allah” (“ Pakistan ka matlab kya? La illah ilallah”)

In keeping with this pure Islamic ideology, the percentage of non-Islamic minorities in the Pakistani population has dropped from over 15% shortly around the time of Pakistan's creation in 1947 to about 3% today [ix]  [x]. Until recently Pakistanis had to swear by their Islamic identity before they could obtain a passport, and Pakistani passport holders are unique in the world in having their religion, Islam, mentioned on their passport [xi]. Even people who live as Muslims in other parts of the world, such as Ahmedis and Shias do not meet the exacting requirements of the purity of Islam in
Pakistan . Ahmedis are non-Islamic by law in Pakistan – a law that enjoys widespread public support in Pakistan . Such is the requirement in Pakistan for maintaining a particular pristine Islamic ideology capable of resisting all attempts at change or reform.

With religion dictating the fundamental question of the nature of Pakistani citizenship, it is little wonder that Islam crops up in every aspect of life in
Pakistan . Since the inception of Pakistan in 1947, Pakistani leaders have sought to use military force to occupy the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir , merely because the majority population in that state are Muslims. When all out war failed, Pakistan trained and armed terrorists who continue to wage a bloody campaign of religious ethnocide in India . Pakistani governments have denied this. That these denials were lies is well known, but what is significant is that Pakistani leaders have described even the act of telling a lie as an Islamic right. Late Pakistani supremo General Zia ul Haq told President Reagan that Pakistan would deny involvement in Afghanistan and added the words “Muslims have the right to lie in a good cause” [xii] . And so the tradition of lying for what is considered a good Islamic cause continues to this day. While Pakistan officially denied having been involved in the Kargil operation with India , alleging that the battle was fought between Indian forces and “freedom fighters”, - the recently launched website of the Pakistani President General Musharraf carries a photograph of General Musharraf with Pakistani troops during the Kargil operation.

The fact that Islam is the state religion of
Pakistan , and that Pakistan has sought to follow the “sharia”, or Islamic law, is perhaps an internal matter of the Pakistani state. But the internal effects of the sharia in Pakistan has a bearing on the overall development of Pakistan , and the rising incidence of poverty, illiteracy, and the burgeoning population of Pakistan . Education in Pakistan (where it is available) is primarily from privately funded Islamic schools called “madrassas” that impart an education in Koranic studies which does not include the “3 R's”. Such an education is considered all that is necessary in Islamic Pakistan, and girls are not admitted to madrassas, leading to lower literacy among women. Islamic laws have been enacted that can be misused for lopsided justice in which a rapist is let off and the raped woman accused of adultery [xiii]. A huge population of illiterate women with no access to birth spacing methods have resulted in a high birth rate and a population “bulge” of young people with little education and no jobs, ripe for induction into some madrassas that double up as schools for Islamic extremists.

By identifying itself as synonymous with
Islam , Pakistan presents the world with a fait accompli. 

Any effort to reform education in madrassas is considered anti-Islamic, so the education system cannot be changed. Efforts to change the status of women again is countered by the “anti-Islamic” clause. As recently as March 2005, the Pakistani government rejected efforts to remove a law that allows “honor killing” of women saying that efforts at repeal were anti-Islamic [xiv]. The recognition of Pakistani trained Islamic militia as terrorists leads to reactions from Pakistani governmental and non-governmental entities that “anti-Islamic nations”, - a euphemism for
India , the US, and Israel - are seeking to destroy Islam. Abdul Qadeer Khan proliferated nuclear technology only to Islamic states barring North Korea . Any effort to implicate him is considered an effort to malign the father of the Islamic bomb. An urge for nuclear restraint by Pakistan is considered an effort to de-nuclearise the Islamic world. Criminals such as Dawood Ibrahim and Omar Sheikh are considered in Pakistan to have served the cause of Islam by committing terrorist acts against India and the US and are thereby liable for protection by the Pakistani state.

Pakistan , everything done by Pakistanis and their government is deemed Islamic, and any effort at change can invite the accusation that such an effort is anti-Islamic, and therefore inappropriate and ill advised for Pakistan . This has served as an effective deterrent against change in Pakistan , and has allowed successive Pakistani governments to get away with acts that amount to international crimes [xv]

One question that stems from Pakistani actions is whether much of what is done is really Islamic or not. This is a question that should be answered by Islamic scholars from other Islamic nations. In the absence of widespread Islamic condemnation that
Pakistan has been misusing or misinterpreting Islam, it can only be assumed that Pakistani claims to ownership of Islam are genuine and legitimate, and that claims of such ownership are tacitly acknowledged and supported by other Islamic nations, who are clearly aware of Pakistan ’s claim to Islam.

This question of whether Pakistani behavior is truly Islamic has even greater impact on
Pakistan itself, and the so-called “Islamic world” at large. Pakistani leaders can hardly claim that the actions of their nation are not Islamic because doing so would mean giving up their claim on Islam and also losing the freedom the “Islam card” gives Pakistan , so that it can continue to break all norms of international behavior without fear of condemnation or retribution. 

But while
Pakistan lays claim on Islam, the picture of Islam that is emerging from Pakistan is not one of an egalitarian religion of peace, but that of an intolerant faith at war with everyone else. This is the new “Pakistan-sponsored image” of Islam, which can only be changed by the community of Islamic nations, who surely must have the concern and interest to do this. Cleaning up the image of a “Violent and vengeful Islam” that has been effectively promoted by Pakistan cannot come from non-Islamic states. It shows no signs of coming from within Pakistan . That responsibility lies with Islamic states. The non-Islamic world can only stand by and watch.

References and Footnotes

[i]  Bamiyan Statues destroyed,
[ii]Pakistan: Khan Gave Iran Machines Usable for A-Bomb, Yahoo News , Thu, Mar 10,2005,
[iii] Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian underworld don, man behind the planning and financing 13 explosions in Mumbai in 1993 in which almost 300 people died. Ibrahim is wanted in connection with cases of arms supply, counterfeiting, drugs trade, funding alleged criminals, murder and smuggling. He lives in and operates from
Karachi , Pakistan .
[iv]  In Pakistan, if a woman reports a rape, four Muslim men must generally act as witnesses before she can prove her case. Otherwise, she risks being charged with fornication or adultery-and punished with public whipping.
[v]  A tribal council in
Pakistan has ordered the betrothal of a 2-year-old girl to a man 40 years older to punish her uncle for an alleged affair with the man's wife, police said Monday.
[vi]  Balochistan-seething under Sardars and Subversion " Our predicament is that only about 5 percent of the province falls within the police jurisdiction and that means the writ of the government remains very weak, says a senior police official. "
[vii]"The Nation and State of Pakistan" Stephen P Cohen  
[viii]  "In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims-Hindus, Christians and Parsis -- but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of
Pakistan ." Quaid-i-Azam, Feb. 1948
[xi]  Religion column back in Pakistan passports: Pakistan's government approved the controversial restoration of a section identifying people's religion in the country's new passports on Thursday, in a move seen as surrender to Islamic radicals.
[xii]PERCEPTIONS JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS December 2000 -February 2001 Volume V - Number 4 (a publication of the Foreign Ministry of Turkey) "Several hours later, President Zia, the truly authoritative figure in Pakistan, called President Reagan I heard the President ask Zia how he would handle the fact that they would be violating their agreement. Zia replied that they would just lie about it. 'We've been denying our activities there for eight years.' Then, the president recounted, Zia told him that, 'Muslims have the right to lie in a good cause'."
[xiii]  "..specifically the "zina" or adultery law under the Hudood Ordinance has legally blurred the distinction between rape and extramarital sex, resulting in the imprisonment and/or physical punishment of numerous women who have come forward with charges of rape without witnesses. Consequently, many rape victims are deemed criminals in a Pakistani court of law.
[xiv] The Pakistan government has allied with Islamists to reject a bill which sought to strengthen the law against the practice of "honour killing". The parliament rejected the bill by a majority vote on Tuesday, declaring it to be un-Islamic.
[xv]  Major military changes in Pakistan by A. H. Amin "What major powers do not understand is that the Muslim elite uses the slogan "Islam is in danger" once their personal class interests are threatened as in 1940-47 or when US imposed sanctions on Pakistan from 1989 till 2001. This elite uses the slogan of Jihad once they hope to get US aid as in the Afghan War or once they have no hope of getting
US aid and need cannon fodder for dying in Kashmir , Afghanistan or elsewhere."  

Bharat Rakshak Forum Member's Donation Effort to the Indian Army Welfare Fund

qcialetterscan1The Bharat Rakshak QuikClot Donation effort was started in March 2009 after forum members came to know of acute shortage of blood clotting kits for Indian Army units engaged in Counter-Insurgency Operations (COIN). The original goal of the effort was to co-ordinate with the Indian Army and their approved vendor of blood clotting kits (called QuikClot) and provide the donated funds for purchase of the kits. However, after discussion with Indian Army officials, it was decided that it would be more feasible for the Indian Army if the donated sum was given for the rehabilitation of disabled soldiers and war widows.

With that in mind, it was decided to donate the collected funds to the Jat Regimental Centre (JRC), Bareilly after they indicated their willingness to accept the same. The funds were presented in the form of a demand draft at the Jat Regiment Reunion in October 2009, to Lt.-Gen. Balraj Singh Nagal, Head of the Strategic Forces Command of the Indian Army and Colonel of the Jat Regiment. However, after accepting the draft, the Jat Regimental Center were unable to deposit the draft on time and it expired. A new draft was re-issued and sent but by that time the Jat Regimental Center had decided that they would not be able to accept the funds from civilian donors without a long-drawn process involving significant paperwork and therefore, returned the funds.

Finally, it was decided to donate the entire amount to the central Indian Army Welfare Fund and upon successful receipt and acknowledgment of the same, the donation effort was considered successful and deemed closed

Ageing Defense Forces- The Enemy Within

The profession demands a younger profile, whereas due to the narrow pyramid of promotional avenues, the age profile in various command assignments continues to soar upwards, notwithstanding the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee report. There are now six to seven Lieutenant Colonels or Colonels in a major unit. If we continue in the same manner, we will end up very soon having units commanded by Brigadiers. Instead of addressing the core issues, we try to push the main problem under the carpet. Quoting Central Police Organizations (CPOs), Central Para Military Forces (CPMF), State Police Force or State Armed Police, example of having a top-heavy rank structure is not going to solve the problem of an ageing profile of the Defense Forces in any way. The aim of this very exercise is not achieved, as there has been a marginal reduction in age profile in command assignments. Even the life expectancy in our country continues to soar upwards, further compounding and complicating the problem. The trend, therefore, is to keep increasing the average age up the ladder with a view to give employment till as late in life as is possible. On the face of it, it looks good but it militates against the needs of the job content.

This issue has been repeatedly raised in many a forum but to no avail. We don’t have the will and the desire to address contentious issues; we have the enemy within. We don’t have to wait for our adversaries to cut us to size by throwing up most experienced but older defense personnel.

Instead of tackling the basic problem on a long-term basis, we end up carrying out upgradations giving temporary relief. This has resulted in an upside down pyramid, which means chaos and instability. The working hands or the functional cadre is shrinking every day. Sanctity attached to a particular rank has been eroded so much that it has not only lost its charm but at times it is demeaning. Some monetary benefits have accrued, but at the cost of depleting efficiency and counter productive work culture. Recent recommendations given by the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee have certainly assuaged the sentiments of the Defense Forces personnel. But how long will this euphoria of rank upgradations last? The top will become so heavy that the organization will crumble under its own weight. From time immemorial, Captains, Majors and Colonels (and their equivalents in the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force) had an aura attached to them and they commanded a certain authority, which has been diluted to a great extent. This is amply evident from the current rank structure of having six to seven ‘Bagga’ Colonels or Lieutenant Colonels in an Infantry Battalion or Artillery Regiment or Armored Regiment (These are the basic fighting units and cutting edge of the Indian Army). Have these upgradations really solved the ageing profile?  Temporarily yes, the age of a Commanding Officer may have been brought down to 38-39 years from the erstwhile 40-41 years. Still far from the desirable, if he has to lead from the front. The age of a Commanding Officer needs to be brought down to 34 - 35 years. In the next step you will have to give hundreds of additional appointments of Brigadiers and Generals to maintain upward mobility. Ultimately, the jobs which were earlier being done by Captains / Majors shall be done by Colonels or Brigadiers and jobs being done by Colonels or Brigadiers would be done by Maj. Generals or Lt Generals. This is applicable in a similar way in the other sister services. What are we heading for? A Welfare Armed Force or a Combat fit Armed Force?  In our country, we are known for fire-fighting actions in which we are very proficient and efficient. We either don’t take serious measures and steps to anticipate or prevent the fire, nor seriously take up the follow-up activity to its logical conclusion. Most of our actions are personality oriented and lack continuity. Invariably we lose sight of our needs and requirements. The Defense Forces are seized with the problem and some very brilliant and pragmatic studies have been undertaken and most workable solutions have been given. The decision-makers have always brushed these solutions under the carpet. This action by them is certainly not for economic reasons but because they feel threatened, as their authority and functioning ethos may be challenged and questioned because of the very nature and the character of the Defense Forces personnel. The bane of this problem is not lack of solutions but the ‘will’ to accept workable options.

Post 1962, the Defense Forces have been continuously undergoing trimming exercises as well as all organizations have been made leaner and meaner. The teeth to tail ratio has been continuously pruned down and superfluous flab removed. However, stagnation continued as no concrete steps were accepted by the Government to absorb highly trained manpower laterally or elsewhere with statutory support. Lip service has not yielded results.

Today the Defense Forces personnel are best trained in a host of disciplines viz. organizational acumen, human resource management, human resource development, material and resources management, inventory control, financial management including funds control, security scenario management, event management, environment management, automotive management, administration, marketing, and so on. In addition, the Defense Forces have a vast potential in IT and technical manpower. A line about our marketing capability i.e., we are able to sell a concept to our men who gets so motivated, committed and convinced that he is prepared to give his life for his ‘Leaders’. Having worked in the private sector for almost two years, it is revealing and painful to see that the best-trained and disciplined manpower being wasted in our country. Personnel of Defense Forces, who are wasted out at a very young age, are left to fade into oblivion when they still have a lot of flame and energy.  A gross national waste and neglect! This problem is more attitudinal in nature, and needs to be changed. When you talk to people in the public domain (public sector) and corporate world, they very well realize the capabilities of Defense Personnel but do not want to acknowledge, as they feel threatened. They are neither interested in productivity nor in enhancing national output. They feel insecure due to reasons best known to them. Notwithstanding the above, an attitudinal change will prevent criminal waste of this highly trained and potent national resource (manpower), which needs to be harnessed to increase national productivity. Discipline and grooming in an organization, which is over 350 years old, can invigorate not only the public sector and private sector but also improve governance, which is so very badly needed by our country. Proper and timely utilization of this highly accomplished manpower will not only meet the peculiar service conditions on account of lateral induction, even while in service and on superannuating. If utilized, they can contribute immensely towards nation building. This very live and acute problem can be addressed by lateral absorption and lateral adjustment. This can be achieved by not only societal obligations towards the saviors of our nation but by certain statutory provisions enforced by our government through legislation. Short Service Commission (SSC), is one measure to improve promotional aspects. Therefore, this avenue needs to be made more lucrative as had been done earlier. Age relaxation and certain concessions as were offered earlier i.e., exemption of one paper should be restored for the entrance exam of IAS, IPS, IFS and other allied services. Similarly, all other public sector organizations and undertakings, including railways, to give certain concessions for smooth career transition. Special courses for career transition should be conducted for all SSC officers under the aegis of the Director General Resettlement, as also for all other officers when they are due for their next rank. Institutions like Grand Career Transition Center, New Delhi have done yeoman service. More such institutions should be encouraged. While discussing with potential employers, it emerges that they are sensitive to getting rejected material from the Defense Forces. The term ‘rejection’ has since been discarded by the Armed Forces and it is now ‘empanelment’ for future promotion based on vacancies. Whether you use the word ‘rejection' or ‘empanelment’ the stigma continues to be attached. This problem can be very convincingly solved by empanelling say 110 officers against 100 vacancies and then offering headless list of 110 officers to prospective employers with star rating for some officers who can be better utilised in the Defence Services. This is a matter of detail which can be resolved by mutual discussions and understanding. Sidestepping to start with should be on deputation. On completion of tenure, an offer should be made for permanent seconded or permanent absorption. This proposal is not free of attendant problems but over a period of time they can be overcome.

Lateral movement should be planned not only for SSC officers but also for permanent commissioned officers at Major to Lt Colonel, Lt Colonel to Colonel, Colonel to Brigadier and Brigadier to Major General levels, and equivalent rank structures in the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force with ‘seniority protected’. Low Medical Category officers, by virtue of condition of service, may not be most suitable for Defense Services but could well be absorbed in civil set up profitably.

The government should also bring out legislation to earmark a reasonable number of vacancies in all public and private sector undertakings for the serving and superannuated defense personnel. This single measure will inject discipline and a productive work culture into any type of organization, which is very much a need in our country to be a ‘ Japan ’ or a ‘ Germany ’. The normal wastage rate of approximately 80,000 personnel annually can be judiciously utilized by harnessing their tremendous potential. This will greatly assuage the feelings of otherwise traumatized retiring defense personnel who start fading from the age of 35 for a sepoy, 45-50 for a JCO and 52 years onwards for an officer. Our country is going through the transitory stages of a budding democracy, which provides an ideal breeding ground for certain fissiparous tendencies to grow. For countering external threats, we certainly require strong Armed Forces but for maintaining internal security, we require highly motivated and trained SPF, CPOs and CPMF. There cannot be a much better trained and disciplined force than the Armed Forces personnel. Again, there is an attitudinal problem to accept personnel from the Armed Forces or perhaps insecurity because of rampant corruption?  There is no reason why the earlier trend should not be restored. Vacancies need to be set aside in all SPF, CPOs and CPMF for the retired and serving defence personal with ‘seniority protected’ and no restriction on promotional aspects. These measures will not only give the much needed younger profile toour Defense Forces but will also greatly enhance the fighting potential of our SPF, CPOs and CPMF for maintenance of normal law and order. These forces will also be able to effectively neutralize the growing menace of Insurgencies, Naxalism and Maoist activities and so on, which divert much-needed national resources from development purposes. The measures suggested above are neither all-encompassing nor new but they need to be addressed with compassion and urgency to be able to surge ahead towards a logical conclusion. There is no point in appointing high power committees and then implementing little. The buzzword, therefore, is ‘lateral induction’ for a ‘better tomorrow’. The Indian Armed Forces with a younger profile will be able to meet the security challenges in a better manner so that the taxpayer gets a fair deal. At the same time, the need to harness such a vast potential of superannuating personnel which otherwise is going waste will be utilized for nation building. This article first appeared in the Indian Defence Review Volume 20-1, Jan- Mar 05 and has been reproduced here with the permission of the editor.

India, China and the US: Current Realities

Hard times are tough, but good times can be even worse. After the Vietnam defeat in 1975,the US has not suffered a serious overt blow to its military power, with the result that there has not been a serious effort at reconfiguring strategies in a context in which India and China are displacing Europe as the geopolitical pivot of the Eurasian landmass. Over the coming decade, the "European premium" that has enabled the countries of the west of that continent to enjoy a standard of life far in excess of their productive capacities or future potential will gradually erode. At present, only the countries of East Asia and West Asia are victims to this premium. Thus they are willing in large numbers to pay in excess of the value that they are receiving for European labels. For the most part both Arab as well as Sinic societies remain in a time warp. They are unwilling to accept that the center of excellence is shifting from Europe to Asia and North America. However even they are changing slowly so that a secular decline in the standard of living within Europe (though not for Europeans moving elsewhere) seems inevitable.

Due of the momentum created by its size, the US has been able to shrug off the effect of mistakes in policy, creating for itself the illusion that it still has time on its side. The fact is that 2005 is the equivalent of 1905. The world is about a decade from a possible major international conflagration, one that is likely to be centered in East Asia. Unless the Chinese Communist Party goes in for major economic restructuring, the country will not be able to fend off competition from new players such as Vietnam and India, with the result that the country will enter into the same process of economic atrophy that has begun in Europe after the expansion of the European Union. The option of reform is almost as painful and will remove from employment tens of millions of individuals who would have enjoyed over a decade of prosperity. It is not the habitual poor who rebel but those who were once well off and are now undergoing hardship. Germany during the 1920s saw the malefic effects of such a reversal of fortunes, when a cultured and evolved people turned to psychotics in order to get themselves out of economic turmoil.

The Chinese Communist Party has overseen a spectacular growth in the real income of its populations. This is the largest known growth in history. Since the Deng Xiaoping reforms that began in 1979, the country has seen substantial growth and prosperity creating in the process a middle class for whom the continuance of good times has become the paramount objective, not political reform. The Chinese are a people as evolved as the Germans and as willing to subordinate themselves to authority were they to regard their welfare as dependent on such acceptance of limitations in freedoms. Should they believe that the prosperity that has finally come to them is threatened, they would be as willing as the Germans were in the 1920s and beyond to entrust their fates to authorities that in the view of the population have the ability and the will to reverse economic decline. Should the PRC enter into a period of economic contraction - something that is now being predicted with increasing frequency - the population is likely to accept a "hard" regime that promises a "soft" life, rather than go the way of the Russian peoples, who rallied behind a drunken and clueless Boris Yeltsin in an atavistic fit of collective masochism. Subsequently conditions in Yeltsinite Russia degenerated to such a level that several within the family-oriented Russian female population were forced to sell their bodies to escape hunger, the way so many women in Nepal have been similarly forced to do, despite a like culture that stresses family values. It is the women who always have to make the greatest sacrifice in times of want. The experience of the Russian people has served to reduce the hunger for reform within the Chinese population to very low levels, despite the verbal encouragement given to such a process by "scholars" from Europe and North America

And thus Proposition 1, that the population of the Peoples Republic of China is much more likely to turn towards "authoritarian" rather than "reformist" solutions at times of internal and external flux. The leadership of the Chinese Communist Party understands this well. It was the recognition of this propensity of the middle classes in the PRC to go the way of those that had been similarly placed in the Germany of the 1920s that led the author - in November 2002 – to suggest a policy o0f "Constrainment" of the PRC, rather than a duplication of the Kennan policy of "Containment" that was carried out towards the USSR. While "containment" would be a broad-spectrum medication, applicable virtually across the board so as to choke off economic, technological, personal and other contacts, a policy of "constrainment" would have the much narrower focus of degrading the ability of the PRC to wage war even while keeping open normal trade and person-to-person channels. The objective would not be isolation but a steady attrition of the power to sustain a conflict. This could be achieved by a careful monitoring of technology transfers, harsh measures against entities such as North Korea that depend on the PRC for their striking power, as well as a network of alliances that would automatically get activated in the event of a conflict initiated by the PRC. As a part of such a policy of constrainment of the PRC, the author suggested the formation of an "Asian NATO" that would guarantee the security of democracies across Asia, even those that were not formal members of the new alliance. However as yet the Euro-centric foreign policy and defense establishment in the US and their Cold Warrior counterparts in India have ensured that such a policy remains unimplemented. The US has still to rid itself of the illusion that Beijing can be part of the solution, when the reality is that it is the PRC which has created the problem, most notably in Pakistan and North Korea, the "proxy" nuclear powers created by the PRC to apply pressure on the flanks of India and Japan respectively. As for India, while the PRC continues to arm both Islamabad as well as Dacca against New Delhi, those involved in the making of policy continue to hope that if they turn their gaze away from the elephant in the room, the animal
will disappear.

However the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party themselves have a pachyderm in the room, and this is Taiwan. While many have written of "One China" or "Two Chinas", the reality is that there are now Two Taiwans. The first (Taiwan One) largely comprises of the families of the KMT cadres and elite that occupied the island after their 1949 rout, while the latter (Taiwan Two) comprises of the rest of the population, minus a minuscule segment of the local population that regards its future as being brighter in One China than in a Taiwan that is separate from the PRC. The divide between the two Taiwans has only grown as a consequence of Beijing's policy of dealing exclusively with those who accept the principle of eventual absorption of the island into the PRC. And thus Proposition 2,which is that Taiwan Two is likely to increase its influence on policy over Taiwan One, despite the help presently given to the latter by both the US as well as the PRC What will become manifest in the years ahead will be a "scissors" effect, caused by 

(1) increasing ferment within the PRC leading to the heightening of authoritarian modes of rule and approach and 
(2) the widening gap between Taiwan One and Taiwan Two, which creates an
impetus within the latter to further stretch the boundaries of Taiwan One's compact with Beijing by increasing the pace of formal separation between the PRC and Taiwan. 

Eventually - at present rates of development, most probably by 2012-15,the two blades of the scissor may come together, resulting in a conflagration. After nearly four decades of subjugation to Taiwan One, those who comprise Taiwan Two are unlikely to welcome absorption into the PRC. However the internal situation within China may by that time make a diversion of public attention through conflict very likely. The PRC economy hinges on two factors, a high degree of access to US markets and public confidence in the longevity and stability of Communist Party rule. Should this appear shaky, there is likely to be a collapse in the financial system, followed by a meltdown in employment and output. This will confront the CCP with a Hobson's Choice: risk ruin through alienating the US market (through conflict with Taiwan) or watch as public anger against CCP rule rises to a degree that makes its stamping down impossible. Although there seems at present a great distance between Communist Romania and present-day China, the fact remains that an oligarchy controls both, one that is dependent on tacit consent of the multitude of those governed. Further while both populations appear docile, they each have an invisible "red line" that - once crossed -leads to public chaos. The same people that cheered Nikolai Ceaucescu, murdered him once his regime became toothless

Given its present policy towards the island, Taiwan at present is a Lose-Lose situation for the PRC. Should Beijing ignore the inevitable steady progression by Taiwan Two towards the formal attributes of independence, jingoist elements in the military and in the population at large will get alienated. However even worse would be the option of war, for this would cut the PRC away from its major market, as well as ensure that an evolving policy of Constrainment gets replaced with a policy of severe Containment designed to emasculate the regime by weakening the country, in the manner of Iraq from 1990 till 2003.Only a policy of abjuring the use of force against Taiwan so long as there is no formal declaration of independence by the island will steer the PRC away from such treacherous waters. This appears unlikely. The policy of the Chinese Communist Party has historically followed the flowing zigzag direction of Quantum Mechanics rather than on the linear path of Classical Mechanics.

Proposition 3 states that this fundamental propensity to change direction in CCP policy has not been reversed by the Deng Xiaoping reforms, and that the CCP is likely to recoil from the "economistic" policies of this period .The tacit encouragement given to the anti-Japanese riots in April 2005 is an early indicator of such a switch.
In part this is because other powers have not reacted the way the PRC has to "economistic" stimuli. Despite showering largesse on the European Union in the form of investment and purchases, diplomatic returns have been few, barring atmospherics and verbiage, two fields in which the CCP itself excels, and has used to great effect while dealing with countries less sophisticated, such as India, where the "national security" talent pool comprises mostly of retired bureaucrats and journalists, all of whom source their analysis from the welter of embassies in New Delhi. The clearer-headed Europeans - barring France - have refused the temptation of breaking ranks with the US in order to support the rival interests of a much weaker power, China, as have most of the South American, African and Central Asian states. It would be easy to assume that the geopolitical successes of the US are based less on its economic performance than on its military arsenal. Such a conclusion though wrong, would accentuate the increasing trend of defense spending seen within the PRC since the end of the Jiang Zemin period. While media coverage of theatres such as Afghanistan, Serbia and Iraq have judged the US military to have defeated local rivals, the fact is that in each such case the objective situation for overall US interests is worse after military occupation (as distinct from intervention) than before.

While it is true that the PRC has increased its profile and presumed influence within its neighborhood - most notably with an equally Japan-phobic South Korea - the fact remains that as yet, despite huge increases in economic linkage, support by the "periphery" countries for PRC core interests ends where US core interests begin. Both South Korea and Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore (the original booster of China) host US troops and continue to maintain a dense network of military-military cooperation with Washington. On the Taiwan issue, neither has snapped non-commercial links with the island, although Singapore appears to have got a case of the jitters over recent PRC criticism of high-profile visits by Taiwanese politicians to the city-state.
Whether it is in Central Asia or elsewhere, the much smaller economic footprint of India, for example, has not prevented New Delhi from carrying almost as much diplomatic weight as Beijing. On balance it appears that an "economist" approach to foreign policy is not sufficient to ensure support for Chinese interests. Hence the increasing inner-party consensus that the "Rising Superpower" needs an armed forces that reflects its economic muscle. The attention being paid to the creation of a blue water navy and long-range underwater and airborne strike capability indicates a policy decision to have the capacity to intervene militarily in the PRC's "Near Abroad": ASEAN, the China Seas and - a recent addition - the Indian Ocean. These accretions are much higher in scope and volume than are needed for a purely "Taiwan-centric" posture. The evolving parameters suggest a determination by Beijing to gradually displace the US-Japan combination as the principal military power in Asia

Proposition 4 states that the PRC is seeking to create an archipelago of bases and "friendly" locations that could be used to moor its forces so as to be in position to repel or initiate an attack. Particular attention will be paid to the Pacific Ocean mini-states and to Pakistan. Gwadar is only the most visible symbol of this developing trend. While those involved in the making of US foreign policy are usually also the ones judging its relevance and success, the reality is that Washington's external affairs elite appears to have developed the characteristics of a sado-masochistic worldview. The harshest measures are carried out against those regarded as incapable of significant retaliation, while towards the rest, there is a cringing - in practice- accompanied by growls that hopefully camouflage the kowtow. Towards the PRC, the growling - mainly on monetary issues - has been unable to mask the acceptance of Beijing's bona fides on most critical issues, in the same manner that the generals in Islamabad have been given the benefit of the doubt by Washington, even where their culpability is obvious, as with helping Osama bin Laden and his core group of associates escape the US dragnet or selling nuclear technology to rogue regimes. There must be a reason for such forbearance, but what this is - is not obvious. The effect of such a double standard - the secular Saddam Hussein was a "threat to international order" while the House of Saud (the principal backer of extremist ideology throughout the world) is a "trusted ally" worthy of overnight visits to the Bush ranch at Crawford. Despite the absurdity of the proposition that A Q Khan "acted on his own" in proliferating nuclear technology, the army-led Pakistan is on the side of the angels while North Korea - which has done far less than Pakistan in proliferating, at least in nuclear technology - is part of the "Axis of Evil". The lack of consistency is ignored in a context in which the relevant establishments in Washington have come to believe in their own myths, chief among which is the belief that the occupation of Iraq has stanched the bleeding caused by Terrorism. In reality future checks will show that the overwhelming majority of the suicide bombers who are today fanning out across their country and tomorrow the world are from localities that have been flattened by Fallujah-style assaults of the US military, in the same way that young people with no hope of gainful employment in the "Palestinian" territories turn to suicide bombings

A parallel can be drawn between the US today and the UK of the 1920s and the 1930s. At that time, London refused to acknowledge the significance of the rise of the National Socialist Deutsch Arbeiter Partei under Adolf Hitler, seeing in him either a crank or as an individual with whom business could get transacted. Similarly the UK failed to recognize that the most effective ally against Hitlerite Germany would not be an enervated and panic-stricken France but the USSR. It was because both London and Paris left Moscow no other option that the Hitler-Stalin pact took place, which emboldened Berlin to risk a world war. Replace London with Washington, Berlin with Beijing and Moscow with New Delhi, shift back "2005" to "1929" and you have the present.

M D Nalapat is Professor of Geopolitics at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, India.

..and then there were none.

HPT-32 at TambaramIn the wake of the recent grounding of the HPT-32 basic trainers in the IAF, Gp Capt Anant Bewoor writes a hard hitting opinion piece about the way the Government, the Defence Industry and the Indian Air Force has been going about rectifying the situation. 


Read more ...

Towards Modern Ship Design and Shipbuilding in India


The commencement of construction of the Air Defence Ship on 11 April 2005 at the Cochin Shipyard Limited, Kochi marks the beginning of a new era of ship design and shipbuilding technology in India . We had to our credit the successful design and building of destroyers, frigates, corvettes, fast attack crafts and auxiliary vessels e.g. LST(L)s, survey vessels, fleet tankers etc. The building of an air defence ship brings India into the elite club of those very few nations in the world that can design and build all types of warships up to aircraft carriers. This paper reviews the developments in this field of ship design and shipbuilding and the future prospects in India .


Ship design and shipbuilding in India mainly pertains to warships.  We are one of the very few proud nations in the world who design and build warships for their Navies.  The Navy’s in-house design organisation has gradually grown into a fully computerised unit having the necessary special techniques for stealth, hydrodynamic, ship motion, structural and dynamic predictions.  We need to continue to move forward and update the design tools e.g. modern 3D computer software with allied application software to automate the design process with necessary checks and balances and transfer data and drawings securely to shipyards not only on magnetic media but also on-line without the need for duplication effort by the shipyard. 

The infrastructure available in our shipyards is ancient and not suited to modern shipbuilding at optimum cost, quality and time frames.  Nevertheless, we have built warships at defence shipyards.  These shipyards have delivered warships to the design specifications given by the Navy and met their specifications.  However, we are not happy because the manhours taken by our shipyards to build a frigate / destroyer is more than 10 times that taken by modern shipyards abroad.  Also, the calendar months taken by our shipyards to build a frigate / destroyer have been three times those taken by foreign / modern shipyards.  The excess calendar months can to some extent be attributed to delays in decision-making, indigenisation and delays in the availability of payload and other nominated equipment, which are beyond the shipyard’s control.  However the very excess manhours taken do account for the lack of productivity, which can be attributed to not so modern facilities available in our shipyards and also to room for improvement in ship production, management, working environment of Indian worker and lack of multi skilled work force concept.  In spite of this not so encouraging scenario, we still produce warships that are cheaper than those manufactured anywhere else in the world.  This is because of the relatively lower labour rates and also due to prices of equipment purchased from the former Soviet Union and Russia have been highly competitive and economical to us.  On an average, the shipyard effort in a shipbuilding programme is about 40 per cent of the total cost. If this 40 per cent component (having taken 10 times more man-hours) is still cheaper in India , we can foresee the enormous advantage in improving productivity to match the man-hours to international standards. We can then produce warships at costs that are most economical and even foreign shipyards will not be able to compete. This is possible because the shipbuilding labour rates in India are about one fifteenth of those in Europe , one tenth of those in Japan / USA and one fifth of those in Korea .

Therefore, what are we to do? Firstly, within the existing infrastructure, improve management of shipbuilding, provide the right environment, introduce multi skilled trade and improve worker productivity as defined in section 15 to 26 of this paper.  These suggestions, when implemented, will improve efficiency by at least 20 per cent and even with existing facilities, the man-hours taken will be 80 per cent of those taken now. 

Secondly, provide incremental modernisation of existing shipyards to enable high crane capacities, larger block construction, module workshops for advanced fitting out, wet basins and dry docks independent of too much dependence on dredging.  This  modernisation of infrastructure will of course have to be supplemented by modern concepts of lean manufacturing and total CAD/CAM.  These will improve productivity by another 30 per cent.  With modernised facilities and modern ways of working, the man-hours taken will be 50 per cent of those taken now with existing facilities.  Thirdly, in the long run setting up new modern shipyards with latest up to date facilities and layout will reduce man-hours by 70 to 80 per cent and will eventually catch up with man-hours as per international practice.  The capital expenditure involved in these recommendations will be more than outweighed by the reduction in the cost of the warships.  Therefore, we must continue to improve warship building and achieve self-reliance.  Moreover, our shipyards and the industry are urged to develop competence to provide comprehensive Integrated Logistic Support and performance warranty for warships as brought out in para 5 of the paper. 

We are also among the very few nations in the world which could design and build submarines. We built two submarines during the 1980s and suddenly the programme has halted for the last 15 years for reasons, which are not technical.  We need to revive submarine building at the earliest and also open a second line of submarine construction to catch up on lost time.  The special features of submarine building are briefly covered in section 6 of this paper.  The capability to design and build submarines indigenously exists in the country and needs to be utilised and nurtured.


As far as merchant ships are concerned, our country has lagged behind.  A few nations like Japan and Korea have virtually captured the entire market because of the excellence achieved by them in designing and building of ships (e.g. bulk carriers in 6 months and containerships in 12 months).  We have to seriously work hard to aim for achieving such standards. The Indian merchant fleet consists of about 200 ships (overseas going).  Taking a 20-year perspective, we shall need 10 ships every year for our own market.  In addition, we have 425 coastal ships and about 21 of these need replacement every year.  Therefore, there is a good case for reviving merchant shipbuilding within the country.

Our commercial shipyards have not kept pace with the technological developments in optimum production of ships.  We need to provide incremental  modernisation to these shipyards to make new merchant ship building economically viable in the country.  The remarks made for improving warship building in previous paragraphs are also applicable here.           The internal market need for producing 10 ships (seagoing) and 21 coastal ships every year should provide the necessary incentives.  Government can assist in providing income tax incentives, export incentive credits, tax incentives for money spent on training and facility improvement and free export or trade zone incentives (shipyards could import supplies free of duty for ships). The assured internal market, cheaper labour rates and Government incentives or support and prospects of producing ships cheaper than anywhere else in the world should encourage private industries to get collaboration or joint ventures with leading shipbuilders in the world and start a new shipbuilding wave in our country.  

The quest and zest for increasing productivity, reducing cost and improving quality in shipbuilding, warship building and submarine building continues in the world.  The latest trends are digital shipbuilding innovation brought about by software solutions for Product Life Cycle Management (PLM).  IBM and Dassault Systems are offering such solutions using software Catia, Enovia and Delmia.  This will improve collaboration / integration between design and manufacturing.  The next generation digital shipbuilding system will simulate and optimise the entire shipbuilding life cycle process in a virtual environment from the initial development stage to launch. The US Navy Office of Naval Research and Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd (SHI) are very actively pursuing the digital shipyard concept with virtual reality.  LPD 17 USS San Antonio is the first surface ship ever designed in virtual reality.  It is reasonable to expect substantial quantitative and qualitative benefits from investment in digital manufacturing.  Returns in the range of 10 to 1 are realistic with digital mock up, process re-engineering and as a component of an integrated Product Life Management (PLM) solution.  We must take cognisance of these futuristic developments and take them into account in our modernisation plans for ship design and shipbuilding both in military and commercial sectors as discussed earlier.  Joint ventures with sharing of initial investment, workload, and profits to mutual benefit of both sides will yield quicker results.  

Warship Design & Building

We are one of the few proud nations in the world, which designs and builds warships for tits Navy.  Credit goes to the Indian Navy who nurtured its in-house design organisation and credit also goes to the Ministry of Defence which motivated and encouraged our defence shipyards to take on the challenge of warship building.  The Indian Navy provided the trained specialist officers to manage these shipyards.  The indigenisation organisations set up by the Ministry of Defence provided the opportunities for indigenous development of equipment, which is fitted in warships.  Thus Indian industry participated in the Defence Sector by helping the Navy to gradually move from a buyer’s Navy to a builder’s Navy. This paper reviews the gradual evolution of this capability for the indigenous design and building of warships.  Although total self-reliance exists in design and building of warships, we are yet to become self reliant on weapon systems, gas turbine generators, control systems and allied special machinery and equipment.  The in-house design organisation of the Navy has been updating its resources and these are now almost fully computerised.  The shipyards need urgent modernisation to apply the latest techniques of large pre-outfitting and block construction.  Our existing shipyards can be modernised only within constraints of geographical locations and space limitations and water depths available.  In the long run, we do need to have a new modern shipyard to build warships in cost, time and quality competitive with international practice.  Indeed, in the meantime, we can analyse and focus on areas, which can improve our ship design, and shipbuilding practices in a most cost effective manner.  This will depend upon disciplined decision making at all levels and strict adherence to time schedules.  The reasons as to why we have not been able to adhere to such disciplined action also need to be analysed. 

Our dependence upon foreign sources for major weapon systems, our ambition to have the latest and up-to-date equipment, and our policy of complex multi-agency (directly and indirectly involved) participative management have prevented us from having clear-cut and firm cost and time programmes for shipbuilding.  But on the other hand, this has helped us to keep an edge in the overall performance and operational capabilities of our warships.

Warship Design: Warship designs are specific to the Navy and this fact was realised by the leaders in the Indian Navy in the 1950s and progressive steps were initiated to have the capability of warship design within the Navy.  In 1957, the Corps of Naval Constructors was set up to have specialisation in Naval Design and Construction.  The officers were trained in UK , USA , USSR and also the training programmes that had been established in India at IIT Delhi and with Naval training establishments.  Concurrently, postgraduate dagger  courses were introduced for the marine engineering and electrical engineering branches.  The idea was to have a composite design organisation with all disciplines i.e. Naval Constructors, Marine Engineers, and Electrical / Weapon Engineers qualified for the design of state of the art warships. 

The Navy’s design organisation has to its credit the design of many types and classes of warships.  These include the Delhi class destroyers, Brahmaputra class frigates, Kora class Corvettes, Godavari class frigates, Khukri class corvettes, Magar class LSTLs, Sandhayak class survey vessels and seaward defence boats etc.  The capability to design warships came about not only through trained manpower but also through collaboration with UK for building Leander class frigates during the 1960s and 1970s.  Subsequently, the design interface of FSU and Russian weapon systems on indigenous designs strengthened our capabilities.   

The Navy’s design organisation is fully computerised and has the necessary techniques for stealth (RCS, IR, noise) prediction, hydrodynamics, ship motion, structural, powerful and dynamic predictions.  We need to move forward and continuously update the design tools of 3-D type comprehensive computer software with allied application software to automate the design process with necessary checks and balances and transfer data and drawings securely to shipyards on both magnetic medium and online without any need for duplication of effort by the shipyard.  Of course, if we have to have complete self-reliance, then Indian industry must come forth to design and manufacture state-of-the-art weapon systems, gas turbines generators, control systems and other allied special systems for warships.            

 Warship building: The infrastructure available in our shipyards is ancient and not suited to modern shipbuilding within optimum cost, quality and time frames.  Geographical location of shipyards poses problems of dependence on tide and heavy dredging before movement of ships in and out of the shipyards.  The modernisation of shipyards with better and augmented facilities will be limited to availability of space and other constraints.  Nevertheless, we have built warships at defence shipyards.  These shipyards have delivered warships to the design specifications given by the Navy.  Within the constraints of existing facilities, are our shipyards efficient?  The answer is no.  We are unable to produce ships in quality and quantity in time even commensurate with existing facilities.  This, not so happy state of affairs is the cumulative effect of factors such as:


-        Order for series production of ships is not given and as such production lines are seldom fully loaded.

-              Administrative and bureaucratic hurdles and delays in sanctions for the ships, delays in sanction for model testing and delays in sanction for special design inputs.

-        Telescopic concept for design and production hampered by delays in decision-making.

-             Too many workers and too many trades in shipyards. Lack of multi skilled tradesman. Worker environment leaves much room for improvement.

-              Shipyards have to depend on other organisations for dry-docking. Too much dependence on tide and dredging for moving ships in and out from shipyard basins.

-              Crane capacities are small and no arrangements for advance fitting-out. Too much dependence on measurements at site to manufacture items. Less use of composite drawings for piping services. No facility for shot blasting and primer coating of weldment blocks.

-              Berths, jetties, dry docks not equipped with adequate and systematic services and welding points, gas outlets, power points etc.  This results in long cables, hoses etc all over the place leading to unhygienic shipbuilding conditions. 

-              Room for improving co-ordination in design, planning, materials, and production management in the shipyard.

-              Delays in availability of systems and need for accelerating indigenisation process.

We need to improve warship building systems and processes in India .  The time taken by our shipyards to build warships should have been commensurate with the infrastructure and facilities available in the shipyards.  The delays have also been due to delays in decision-making, delays in finalisation of contracts with other countries for supply of weapon systems.  Improving infrastructure to enable pre outfitting and manufacture of larger blocks and larger cranes to shift them to the slipway can of course, reduce shipbuilding time. Decision-making can be improved by having more indigenous systems and having disciplined action plans with suppliers that match the construction schedule.  Ship construction should only start when all inputs are nearly complete i.e. design is complete, systems have been selected.  Since shipyard slipways are free and workshops are idle, shipyards commence work without waiting for all inputs to come.  The shipyards should take on the responsibilities for detailed design and marry CAD/CAM fully in their shipbuilding process. The introduction of multiple trade system will reduce man-hours and save time by reducing man-days.  We should continue to seek means for productivity improvement.          

Unique Nature of Global Warship Building

All nations in the world have endeavoured that their Navies have a technological edge to face any threat.  As such, performance factors have hitherto always had precedence over cost factors.  However, in recent years, cost has become increasingly important. Rather than reducing the performance capabilities of their ships, the Navies are interested in reducing costs by adopting more efficient practices in the acquisition, design and construction processes. The design cost of US warships have been reported to be as below:

          DD651    in    US        6,000,000   man-hours

          DD173    in    Japan    1,200,000    man-hours

          DD963    in    US         5,000,000    man-hours

          D647       in    US       3,000,000    man-hours

Such figures for Indian design costs are not readily available.  However, there is always room for reducing design costs by adopting integrated CAD/CAM solutions.

The construction hours of some warships have been reported as follows:

Country Ship type keel Displacement Tonnes Time Man-hours to Commissioning
US DD651 8315 30 5,000,000
US FFG-7 3500 30 2,500,000


DD173 9485 34 2,036,000


DD158 4500 29 1,000,000


D-560 5400 42 -


F-215 4490 38 -


FFH300 5235 51 2,100,000


DD6280 5100 42 2,300,000


F230 4200 54 -


Godavari Class 3600 72 10,800,000


Delhi class 6500 100 18,200,000

The Indian shipyards take about 10 times the man-hours taken by Japanese shipyards and 3 times the calendar months.  There is a lot of room for improvement in modernising Indian shipyards and reducing build periods.   

Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) and performance warranty for warship


The prime contracts for the recent warships in the world include a comprehensive requirement for ILS, necessary to ensure that the ships are effectively operated, maintained and supported throughout the life of the warship.  The elements of the ILS package include maintenance planning, supply support documentation, manpower, training, technical documentation, facilities, storage and transportation of support and test equipment and computing support.  The recent contracts for warships, which include ILS performance warranty, the prime contractor has guaranteed an operational availability of 80 per cent for a period of 10 ship years.  These new contracts also include setting up of ship support centre to support the development and integration testing of both the platform control and monitoring system and the combat systems and to train the Navy personnel.  Our shipyards and industry should develop such competence and provide such services to the Navy.  This will be more economical and efficient and will increase teeth to tail ratio and enable the emerging lean Navy to perform better and achieve excellence in mission operations.

Submarine Design and Building

Although the Indian Navy has been operating submarines since 1960s, the indigenous design and building of submarines was realised with the designing and building of SSK submarines of Type 1500 in collaboration with Germany .  MDL Mumbai, the premier shipyard in the country, built two SSK submarines in the late 1980s.  We were among the very few nations in the world who could build submarines. The programme for continuation of submarine building in India came to a sudden halt due to non-technical reasons and the infrastructure developed at MDL Mumbai has been idle and unutilised for the last almost 12 years.  Efforts have been made to revive submarine building with more emphasis on indigenous development of systems in the Indian industry.  Such efforts are continuing for the last 12 years and persistence will bring success one day.  This will open up new avenues of co-operation and work for the Indian industry.  The design organisation is well equipped to undertake design and design-production interaction for submarines.  

Special features of submarine building

There are many changes necessary to adopt traditional shipbuilding methods to modern submarine construction technology. The complexity of modern submarines requires a high level of discipline from the submarine designer, submarine builder as well as those responsible for the design of machinery and equipment and the selection of materials. The strong links forged between the designer, shipbuilder and supplier of specialised equipment and materials are key factors in the technical success of a submarine programme. The total effort involved in modern submarine design, from concept, development and up to generation of working drawings is approximately 1,000 man-years over a 7-year period.  The cost of a full range of design and support to build tasks is equal to about one third of the construction costs of the first of the class.  Submarine design and building requires special efforts in weight control, ventilation and air-conditioning, mock up, modelling etc.  The steel for building submarines is to be high yield, low alloy, fine grain, fully killed, quenched and tempered.  Thicker and heavier plates are needed for the pressure hull requiring special fabrication and welding techniques.  The hull outfit in a submarine requires stricter standards.  The ability of the shipbuilder to produce pipe works to exacting service standards, configured within very restrictive space envelopes and in the quantities necessary, is one of the demanding parameters of a submarine programme.  1/5th scale three-dimensional models of each compartment are made with all relevant structure, equipment, piping and cabling represented.  Production information is also obtained from computer models.  The electrical outfit for an advanced submarine has to service the complexities of the propulsion systems, as well as, greatly increased electrical demand for DC and AC systems in a variety of voltages and frequencies to suit control, instrumentation, communication, navigation, weapon and life support systems.  The modern trend is to complete more outfitting in workshop rather than in the cramped confine of the submarines.  Nearly 80 per cent outfitting is completed prior to the launch of the submarine. 

ARM Technique  

Availability, reliability and maintainability are essential factors in the design of any modern warship and more so for submarines.  These must be considered at the earliest possible stage of design and modelling to assure optimum safety and service performance.  The ship availability modelling is a powerful tool used to assess the probability of a warship / submarine achieving given mission profile.  The assessment begins by producing a ship dependency diagram showing the relationship between the operational characteristics and the systems / equipment, which support them.  Each element is then examined to determine its likely failure rate, causes, and consequences (Failure Mode and Effect Analysis).  The results are applied to ship availability date for various mission profiles.  This approach is most useful in comparing the reliability of varying system proposals in the design stage.  By the use of models and mock-ups, equipment maintenance envelopes and removal routes are carefully designed, checked and then verified finally at ship.  Design decisions affect through-life cost and ARM techniques coupled with systematic design reviews offer a means of achieving an acceptable balance between procurement and upkeep costs and operational targets.  

Merchant Ship Design and Building

The Indian Scenario: The majority of the merchant ships owned by Indian companies have been designed and built abroad.  A few countries like Japan and Korea have virtually captured the world merchant ship market.  This is due to their excellence in design, quality and minimal shipbuilding times for delivery e.g. 6 months for bulk carriers and 12 months for containerships.  Indian shipyards have not been able to compete in the design and building of merchant ships.  The Indian merchant ship fleet consists of about 200 ships (overseas going).  Taking into account 20 years life, we shall need 10 ships every year for our own market.  There are, in addition, 425 coastal ships i.e. we need 20 such ships every year.  There is a strong case for reviving shipbuilding within the country.  The Indian shipyards have not kept pace with the technological developments in optimum production of ships.  We need to provide incremental modernisation to these shipyards to make new merchant shipbuilding economically viable in the country.  The internal market of 10 seagoing ships and 20 coastal ships every year should provide the necessary incentive.  We need to take major initiatives to improve productivity through technological automation, standardisation and rationalisation of design, engineering and production activities and reduction in work force.  Government can encourage, support and assist in providing income tax incentives, export incentive credit, tax incentives for money spent on training and facility improvement and free export on trade zone incentives and shipyards could be allowed to import supplies free of duty. The prospects of producing ships cheaper than anywhere else in the world should encourage private industry to get into collaborations with leading shipbuilders in the world and create a new wave of ship building in India .  

Worldwide Shipbuilding Industry 

The market for ships is a global market.  Ship operations, ship owners and shipbuilders freely cross national borders to obtain a price, time and technological advantage.  The shipbuilding industries of nations with comparative advantage, based on responsive markets, cheap labour, or superior technology would be expected to prosper.  The economics of nations that lack such an advantage would be expected to allocate resources to other activities.  This simple logic / model does not fit the realities of world shipbuilding.  This is so because most trading nations perceive the shipbuilding industrial base to be a vital national resource on other than strictly economic grounds.  The national policy of most trading nations reflects the primary requirement to maintain some degree of control over the resources needed to move their products to foreign markets.  They have, therefore, industrial policies aimed at assuring the existence of a nationally controlled fleet.  Some of these nations have supported their shipbuilding industries in order to provide the means of replacing the national fleet should it be threatened militarily or economically.  Other nations have supported the shipbuilding industry as a ‘hub’ industry for economic development.  Many nations also view their national shipbuilding industry as essential for defence purposes.  

The World Shipbuilding Market

The international market for merchant ships has historically been cyclical with nine major cycles.  With the closing of the Suez Canal in 1959 and the oil embargo in 1973, the cyclical curve had peaks and troughs with new extremes.  The first half of the 1970s was a boom period for the world’s shipbuilders.  Between 1970 and 1975, the world fleet deadweight tonnage increased by 70 per cent.  Much of this tonnage comprised supertankers built to carry crude oil from the Middle East to Europe and Japan .  In 1973, the world order book was equivalent in deadweight tonnage to 50 per cent of the world fleet.  After the Arab oil embargo in 1973, the entire world shipbuilding market contracted dramatically.  The worldwide order book declined from a peak of 242.3 m deadweight tonnage (dwt) in 1979 to 32.0 m in 1979.  Many of the marginal shipbuilders who were able to penetrate the market during the boom years went bankrupt or were nationalised.  The highly automated yards in Europe were either nationalised or restructured.  Even Japan suffered many bankruptcies and a reduction in shipbuilding capacity of 35 per cent.  Although some recovery occurred in the world shipbuilding market, its condition throughout the 1980s can be described as depressed.  However, there were modest increases in the 1990s.  The estimated installed yard capacity for shipbuilding worldwide is about 18 million compensated gross tonne (27 million dwt) of new tonnage per year.  The new shipbuilding requirements for the current period 1975-2010 have been projected to be of the order of 50 million dwt per year.  As such, the demand is almost twice the installed capacity.  Therefore, there will be pressure to expand world shipbuilding capacity during the early 21st century.  Japan became the world leader in commercial shipbuilding in 1956 and has continued to maintain that position.  South Korea , Spain , Taiwan and Brazil emerged as strongly contending shipbuilding nations in the 1970s.  In the early 1980s, the People’s Republic of China also began a serious entry into the world shipbuilding market.  During the 1990s, the percentage share in tonnage on order with the world’s leading shipbuilding nations are reported as follows:


39 per cent

South Korea

21.1 per cent


5.4 per cent


5.1 per cent


3.3 per cent


2.9 per cent


2.7 per cent


2.4 per cent

Great Britain

2.4 per cent


2.3 per cent


2.3 per cent


2.1 per cent
All others 9 per cent

          Total tonnage on order approximately 70 million dwt

To maintain their market share, the nations have followed a variety of marketing strategies, which have included subsidy schemes and major initiatives to improve productivity. Since 1979, the work forces have been reduced over 60 per cent in West Europe , and over 70 per cent in Japanese shipyards. These reductions have been possible by increasing the amount of automation, standardisation and rationalisation of design, engineering and production activities.

Dynamics of World Shipbuilding

The international shipbuilding scene is very dynamic.  Yards come and go, some are getting highly specialised and others diversify.  Since World War II, the shipbuilding industry has undergone dramatic changes regarding the countries and regions that dominate the industry.  There were dramatic increase in Japanese production from 1960 to 1975, crowding out the European manufacturers.  There was a similar growth of Korean shipbuilding from 1980 to 1985.  There has been a dramatic reduction in European shipbuilding from a position in 1960 controlling two-thirds of world shipbuilding output to a level of one-sixth today.  Japan has been controlling around half of world output for almost 30 years, but is now challenged by the growth of Korea .  Korea and Japan together now control over 60 per cent of world output.  One main reason that Japanese shipbuilding has been able to remain competitive for over 30 years is the ability of the industry to constantly upgrade productivity, and find ever-new ways of cutting costs.  This is done partially through investments in modern production technology though use of latest materials, administration and supply chain management are also key factors.  In Japan , one finds production of marine equipment located close to the shipyards.  This enables yards to adopt efficient just-in-time practices and reduce inventory costs.  In addition, the suppliers often act as flexible sub-contractors, making labour cost more of a variable cost element, adjusting to changes in the market.  We believe that in order to remain competitive in the future, shipyards will have to make alliances with the suppliers and sub-contractors. 

Performance indicator

A shipyard may have a highly productive shop floor workforce, but be disadvantaged by heavy overhead staffing.  This reflects a problem that is likely to be met by shipyards attempting to combine naval and commercial work.  The high staffing inherent in naval work must be separated from commercial work to avoid an unsustainable level of economic inefficacy.  

The unit of output most commonly used for comparisons between shipyards is the compensated gross tone (CGT).  CGT is effectively a measure of work content.  

          Productivity   =   Man years/Unit output (CGT)

          Cost              =  Total cost/Man years

          Cost Competitiveness  =   Productivity x Cost = Total cost/Unit output (CGT)  

Comparison Of Shipbuilding Productivity

(Relative man-hours / compensated gross tonnes)

            Japan                European         US               India

             1                         2                4               10

Country Relative labour rates




0.5 to 1.5


Hongkong 3




  U.K.    10
































In some countries, the labour costs associated with building a ship vary between 35 and 60 per cent.  In countries advanced in shipbuilding, the labour percentage is significantly lower at 20-35 per cent only.

Hourly Relative Labour Rates For Shipyard Workers Worldwide

Therefore, in many cases, the differences in labour productivity are absorbed by the differences in shipyard labour costs.  

Industrial Revolution In The Availability Of Marine Systems & Equipment  

We are building warships for the Navy indigenously.  Soon submarine building too will be revived.  There is also a proposal to open a second line of submarine construction in India .  This is bound to bring about industrial participation in a big way.  In view of the large domestic market for merchant ships and the relatively low labour rate, there is a good case to take bold initiatives to modernise our merchant ship building as stated earlier.  We need to come up to the expectations of the merchant marine to design and build merchant ships to international competitive standards. The indigenous building of warships, submarines, and merchant ships can bring about an industrial revolution in the country for the manufacture of marine systems and equipment.

Importance Of Comprehensive Build Strategy Towards Economic & Efficient Shipbuilding

There is room for substantially improving the build strategy document to be prepared by our shipyards.  Before commencement of production, our shipyards need to prepare a comprehensive document on ‘Build Strategy’ which should encompass approved and agreed designs, engineering, material management, procurement of long lead items and other items, production tests and a trials plan.  All these need to be prepared before work starts with the aim of identifying and integrating all necessary processes.  The ship build strategy should emerge from the shipyards’ business plan, shipyards shipbuilding policy and ship definition policy.  To meet the targets set in the build strategy a set of decisions are required on facilities development, productivity targets, make or buy or subcontract and technical and production organisation. The build strategy document should define relationships with yard’s business plan, policy, introduction, ship description, contractual matters, design and engineering, procurement, planning and production, accuracy control, tests and trials, personnel, weight control and quality assurance. The build strategy is used to facilitate and strengthen the communication links.  The build strategy serves as an effective tool by giving participants the opportunity to work out all their needs together, in advance of taking up the task.

Improving Shipbuilding Efficiency Through Lean Manufacturing

The purpose of lean manufacturing is to improve product cycle time, cost competitiveness, and quality, by eliminating any waste / wait in the manufacturing process through continuous improvement by a motivated work force.  It preaches the importance of creating continuous material flow, standardising processes and eliminating waste.  The idea is to give to the customer what he wants with minimal lead-time by eliminating waste / wait.

An efficient shipyard would use relatively standardised, modular designs to create what some call ship factories / workshops i.e. factories / workshop in which there is a constant flow of basic and intermediate products, built in most cases on moving lines and material is carefully sequenced and shifted through the yard in a carefully orchestrated flowing patterns – just-in-time (JIT).  There is need to develop people to be flexible, motivated and highly capable professionals.  In lean manufacturing, waste is anything that adds to the time and cost of making a product but does not add to the product from the customer’s point of view.  Lean thinking focuses on value-added flow and the efficiency of the overall system.  A component sitting in a pile of inventory is a waste and the goal is to keep products flowing and add value as much as possible.  The focus is on the overall system and synchronising operations so that they are aligned and producing at a steady pace. 

The seven wastes that need to be avoided in Lean Manufacturing include over- production, producing defective products, inventories, motion, extra processing, transportation and waiting.  The five Ss for a well-organised work force for Lean Manufacturing for eliminating waste have been identified as Sort (what is needed and what is seldom used), Stabilise (orderliness), Shine (cleanliness), Standardise (create rules), Sustain (self discipline).  The purpose of the 5 Ss is visual management, which touches every part of the yard from markings on steel to equipment gauges, to amounts of inventory, and to the appropriate thing to work on next. 

The lean principles used in shipyards include, Just-In-Time deliveries, lean flow using takt (meter) time (targeted pace of production), staged materials; dedicated process lanes for major processes, such as built-up profiles, sub-assemblies, flat blocks and curved blocks; built-in quality, visual control, the people systems such as continuous improvement, multi-skilled workers and multiple machine / task assignment.  Other important factors in the lean manufacturing principles include standardisation, one piece flow, flow smoothing, focus on elimination of waste, group technology (structured block construction with advanced and zone outfitting) and part families, dedicated interim product lines, and multi task assignment for employees. 

Productivity in Indian shipyards is one tenth of that in modern shipyards abroad.  Moreover, Indian shipyards take at least three times more time to build ships. There are many things that could and should be done, but one way that could significantly help, is to adopt lean manufacturing principles. It is anticipated that implementing lean manufacturing principles in shipbuilding could improve productivity by at least 50 per cent and shorten build times by at least that amount. Such improvements would certainly assist Indian shipyards to improve their prospects for the future. Lean manufacturing leads to Just-In-Time shipbuilding. Individual blocks are scheduled so that they will be complete Just-In-Time to construct grand blocks, which will complete Just-In-Time for final ship construction in dry dock.  The machinery, equipment and system will arrive in shipyard just-in-time for fitment.  It is often cost effective to purchase whole blocks from outside, in which case, the suppliers of those blocks must fit into the precise timetable of the shipbuilder – just-in-time.  Lean production also leads to cost reductions via eliminations of unnecessary operations, waiting times and inventories.

For lean manufacturing, the efficient and timely information flow in a shipyard is essential.  In order to build each compartment of a ship correctly the first time and on time, the craftspeople not only require the right material and tools at the right time, they also need the correct information just-in-time.  This information includes drawings, material-lists, bills and manufacturing aids. To explore the benefits of lean manufacturing in ship construction, it is essential to apply lean concepts throughout the programme of design construction enterprises.

Competitive Shipbuilding

Every shipbuilding firm needs to pursue ship design excellence, high build quality, quick delivery and cost effectiveness.  Yards must become innovative not just in product and process technology but also in management and operation.

Labour Productivity

Shipyard workers need to be competent, creative and hard working.  There are problems with workers who live very far from the work place and spend 4 to 5 hours commuting for an 8-hour work shift.  We cannot expect such workers’ productivity to be competitive with those who spend less time (less than 1 hour) of commuting.  The age of the workers also contributes to productivity.  Indian Shipyards need to resolve and reconcile these issues for improving labour productivity.  In most cases, the problem of low productivity is not with the worker, it is with the environment in which the worker performs. The principal factors influencing shipyard worker performance are discussed below.

Ship Production Management  

Ship production management includes planning, supervision, inspection and physical facility / equipment provision. With incompetent and inexperienced management, the material and production process flows are not effectively coordinated.  Tools, equipment and material (raw material and material in process) are not delivered just in time to locations where they are required.  The same is also true for personnel, inspection and facilities.  We need to improve ship production management with lean and just-in-time principles.

Worker & Manager Training

Training in shipbuilding, as in all manufacturing, must be a continuous                                    process, where worker and managers regularly undergo training to update their skills.  Successful yards abroad spend 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent of revenues on training.  This amounts to an average of 8 to 10 days per year as full-time training of everyone.  TQM requirements of training need to be fulfilled fully.  Indian shipyards need to implement such training schemes to keep up to date with technology and innovative techniques.

Working Conditions

The working conditions in our shipyards and in ships under construction leave much to be desired.  The workers and supervisors often dress in inappropriate clothing.  Shipyards must provide white or other colour overalls to their work force.  The working conditions need to be clean and hygienic.  Basic needs of clean changing rooms, lockers, tea snack, lunch, afternoon tea need to be provided in a dignified manner and in adequate / surplus supply to avoid queuing and thus avoid workers tendency to leave work spots much before scheduled breaks.  This will improve worker morale, work safety and self esteem.  Workers will treat equipment very much like the way they are themselves treated.

Multi-Tiered Hierarchical Line Organisation

We need to avoid too many levels between workers and yard manager.  The shipyards need to have flat, free-form, flexible organisations, with some matrix characteristics, which empower workers at all levels and assume proper feedback and feed forward of information.  Decision functions and responsibilities must be delegated to the lowest competent levels.  This assumes not only better and more timely decisions but also assumes proper sharing and transfer of information resulting from and required for such decisions.

Casual Labour  

A casual-labour environment where people are hired and fired all the time, instead of being allowed to move from one department or job to another to safeguard the use of their work skills as well as loyalty, needs to be carefully examined.  The latter is more beneficial provided a multi-trade work force concept is accepted in the shipyard.

Other Worker Incentives  

Financial incentives such as profit sharing, year-end bonuses and general recognition of contributions made by individuals should be introduced.

Workers-Personal recognition  

Workers should also be given an opportunity to relate to the customers, learn about the expected use of the vessel and the conditions under which the ship is expected to be used.  Workers must not only feel financial satisfaction but also pride of ownership, personal recognition, and peer acceptance.

 Multi Skilled Work Force  

We have too many trades in our shipyards and each trade has a mate / helper concept. A multi-skilled worker should be able to do all the jobs like plating, marking, welding, engine fitting, pipes fitting, etc.  Such a multi skilled worker should be designated as ‘ship mechanics’.  This simple factor if introduced, implemented and accepted, will improve productivity very substantially.

 Revival of Indian Shipbuilding

The shipbuilding industry needs a radical structural change.  It must reinvent itself to become a mean, lean, productive and creative ship production industry unhampered by government rules and restrictions.  It must be able to work in joint ventures with any one worldwide. The three important factors of shipbuilding competitiveness i.e. Labour Productivity, Technology and Capacity need to be advanced with innovative and bold solutions.  This will lead to series production of ships with repeat orders and the learning curve effects will benefit the shipyards.  The facts and figures given above make a strong case for revival of Indian shipbuilding.

The government can assist the shipbuilding industry in improving its productivity in many ways. There can be income tax incentives; the government can allow free export or trade zone incentives (where shipyards can import supplies free of duty);  the shipyards may be given export incentive credits;  government can also introduce tax incentives for money spent on training and infrastructure facility improvement etc.  

Clients For Shipbuilding Industry

The Indian Navy is a major traditional client of shipyards for building of warships and submarines and the Navy will continue to support indigenous warship and submarine construction.   With innovative infrastructures, the shipbuilding industry can also woo the domestic market of 10 seagoing merchant ships and 20 coastal ships per year.

The aim is to bring about radical changes in the shipbuilding industry, where we learn to better utilise our existing facilities, create incremental, modern, update technology, and work on joint ventures.  Such radical changes will make the industry world market oriented, and operationally independent.  

Futuristic Digital Shipyards and Virtual Reality with Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) in Shipbuilding

Future ship design and construction will be influenced by advances in both manufacturing techniques and technologies, along with improvements in the ship design environment, resulting from greater use of computer based databases and graphic tools. Digital shipbuilding innovation can be brought about by software solutions for Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) from world renowned companies like IBM and Dassault System including CATIA, ENOVIA and DELMIA software. Digital shipbuilding will improve collaboration / integration between design / engineering and shipbuilding manufacturing.  The combination of software like CATIA and DELMIA would provide unique opportunities to connect their two main domains. Several computer models can be developed to automate essential shipbuilding processes and these can be applied to the modern, scalable architecture that is the foundation of CATIA, DELMIA and ENOVIA.

Delmia Corp., a Dassault Systems Company is engaged in a full-scale research project to develop a digital shipbuilding system for the Samsung Heavy Industries Company (SHI). Delmia is the leading three-dimensional product life cycle management (3D-PLM) solutions provider for Lean Manufacturing process engineering. DELMIA’s IGRIP & QUEST will be implemented to develop the next generation digital shipbuilding systems integrated with industry best practices. These digital shipbuilding systems will simulate and optimise the entire shipbuilding lifecycle process in a virtual environment from the initial development stage to the launch. This will increase productivity, reduce costs and improve quality. The aim is to develop an integrated shipbuilding management system with digital simulation, which can improve productivity of the shipyard, optimise production line layout and evaluate production efficiency in practical details.  Computer software now available is reported to be a good 3D digital representation tool to simulate the whole shipbuilding process.

It is reported that the US Navy office of Naval Research has awarded research funding to DELMIA for a digital shipyard.  DELMIA software, together with CATIA and as part of the global Dassault System 3D PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) can be used to model a digital shipyard.  The focus will be to find ways for reducing the building costs of US Naval warships and commercial ships.  Shipbuilding involves complex resources and processes.  Thus for the efficient modelling of PPR (Product, Process and Resource) data of a shipyard, we need very powerful simulation based tools to achieve our goal.  It is reported that DELMIA provides such fine tools i.e. IGRIP, QUEST & ER60. 

LPD – 17, USS San Antonio is the first surface ship ever designed in virtual reality.  This was possible through digital manufacturing solutions provided by DELMIA. It is common for a ship design to be only 20-30 per cent complete when production starts, however, the design of LPD-D was over 80 per cent complete before any steel was ever cut.  This effort involved a new level of visualisation for participants to clearly see the work being done at each stage.  Much of the modelling and simulation work was done by Delmia’s Envision and Envision / Assembly computer-aided part of Delmia’s process planning and digital manufacturing tools portfolio.  On the LPD 17 Project, no steel was cut or welded until every step had been proven by simulation, thus avoiding rework, cut apart and reweld. The ship is assembled on screen, block by block, to make sure that everything fits and that the sub-assemblies and components would go together as planned.  Each section is disassembled in the reverse order, with simulation keeping track as it was pulled apart, and then put back together again, with each sub-assembly and component going back in the correct sequence, location and orientation.  Each ship zone is run five or six times to get the errors out and end up with a ship that could be built the way it was planned.  The US Navy has reported that the use of DELMIA tools and other processes contributed to savings of over $370m in total cost in the LPD surface ship programme.

It is reasonable to expect substantial quantitative and qualitative benefits from investment in digital manufacturing.  Returns in the range of 5 or 10 to 1 are realistic when it is implemented in combination with digital mock up, process re-engineering, and as a component of an integrated PLM solution.   

3D digital mock up tools have been used in USS Holland submarines project from 1992 to 2000.  The Royal Navy, UK has undertaken virtual future Aircraft Carrier studies through System Engineering and Assessment Ltd using DELMIA’s Envision to analyse short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) vs conventional take off and launching (CTOL).  

The above integrated product data environments and the reality of digital / ‘virtual shipyards’ have made it possible to produce very good definitions of the intended product that can be shared between the customer, the prime contractor and subsystem producers right down the supply chain to discrete equipment manufacturers.

Our design organisation and shipyards have to take note of digital shipbuilding with virtual reality and take it into account in our modernisation plans.


India has made substantial progress in the design and building of warships for the Navy and we are proud of the self-reliance being achieved in this sector.  We need to continue to update our design techniques and modernise our shipyards towards efficient competitive warship building.  We have to revive submarine building and also open a second line of submarine building to catch up with lost time in this field.  Our shipyards and industry need also to develop competence to provide comprehensive Integrated Logistic Support and Performance Warranty for warships.

A majority of the merchant ships in the Indian Fleet have been designed and built abroad.  We should not allow this situation to continue.  We have more than enough domestic demand to sustain merchant shipbuilding.  We need to utilise the existing facilities in the shipyards in a better manner and also take initiatives to modernise our yards and be competitive.  It is not very difficult, keeping in view that our labour rates are relatively very low. The prospects of producing ships cheaper than anywhere else in the world should encourage private industry to set up joint ventures with leading ship builders in the world to the mutual benefit of both sides.

Digital shipbuilding and virtual reality in product life cycle management in shipbuilding are moving in at a fast pace.  These innovations will fully integrate the design / engineering and building / manufacture.  The USS San Antonio LPD 17 has been the first ship designed in virtual reality.  Implementation of digital shipbuilding and virtual reality has saved $370m for the LPD programme.  It is reasonable to expect substantial qualitative and quantitative benefits from investments in digital manufacturing.  We need to bring in digital shipbuilding with virtual reality in our ship design and shipbuilding programme and reap the benefits thereof and thus remain competitive in the world market, both for military and commercial sectors of shipbuilding.

Our national policy should aim at assuring the existence of a nationally controlled fleet for strategic reasons.  The government should support the shipbuilding industry in order to provide the means to replace the national fleet, should it be threatened militarily or economically.  We should view the shipbuilding industry as a ‘hub’ industry for economic development.  The national shipbuilding industry will be an asset for defence purposes.  Also, this will bring in a new industrial revolution for the manufacture of marine systems and equipment to support shipbuilding. This will be in the interests of our national pride.   

For warship building, we also need indigenous weapons and sensors. Self-reliance in the field of defence is important. The need to keep up with the technology, to have the best and better than your adversary, is even more essential. These objectives can be rapidly and more economically and optimally met by involving the Private Sector in the development of weapons and sensors. The technology, expertise, skills and talent available in the private sector can make innovative contribution and can sustain it by updates as newer technologies become available. The Private Sector can either be given independent programmes to develop, manufacture and continuously update in consultation with the user, or and the private industry can support DRDO or Public Sector in accelerating the rate of progress in defence systems. Thus, the involvement of the Private Sector is a total win-win situation and defence preparedness shall benefit enormously.  

This article first appeared in the Indian Defence Review Volume 20-1, Jan- Mar 05 and has been reproduced here with the permission of the editor. 

Book Review: Fault Lines


Fault Lines

Fault Lines by Bharat Verma
Lancer Publishers 2009, New Delhi
ISBN 978-1-935501-00-8
Pages : 336

Two of India’s trinity of passions consisting of Politics, Cricket and Bollywood are holding the nation in thrall in the form of General Elections and the Indian Premier League, which ironically, is being held in distant South Africa.

It is a reflection of the sad state of affairs that the world’s most populous democracy earns fame for an election process which returns the usual bunch of short-sighted politicians to office and India still struggles to find its rightful place in world affairs.

The publication of this book could not have come at a more appropriate time.

Read more ...

Selection of MRCA for the IAF

After the usual scrutiny and associated delay, the Government of India has finally cleared the proposal by the IAF to procure 126 Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) needed to replace the obsolete MiG 21FL and MiG 23 fleet and restore the strength of combat squadrons to the authorised ceiling of 39.5. These aircraft are being phased out progressively on completion of technical life and as there is no certainty of the timeframe in which the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) would be made available in adequate numbers, there is no option for the IAF but to acquire replacements for ageing aircraft from foreign sources to close the gap and prevent unacceptable erosion of operational capability. The requirement for the IAF is for a 20-tonne class, multi-role, fourth generation combat aircraft or alternatively, a late third generation airframe with fourth generation avionics and weapon systems. The IAF needs a force mix of long and medium range combat aircraft capable of both strike and air defence roles. The SU30 MKI is under induction to undertake long-range tasks in a strategic sense. The proposed MRCA would be expected to perform both roles over own airspace and battle areas in a tactical sense. The Request for Information (RFI), only a preliminary inquiry, has been sent out to the manufacturers of the four possible contenders. These are the Russian MiG 29 M/M2, the French Mirage 2000-5 Mk2, the Swedish Saab Grippen and the American F16 C/D Block 50/52. Given the elaborate and complex procurement procedures, stringent and multi-layered financial scrutiny, painfully slow decision-making process, the lead time for manufacture and time for training, it may take over a decade for the proposed MRCA to be fully operational in the IAF.

Evolution of Combat Aircraft

The first generation combat jets inherited the concept of a good fighter aircraft based on the Second World War experience.  Designed primarily for the air defence role, the concept of a good fighter aircraft centred around its ability in close combat to get into a position and fire its guns before the enemy aircraft was able to do the same. This capability came through high engine thrust, low weight, high rate of climb, good acceleration, high speed, capability to  sustain high G-loading in manoeuvre, good visibility for the pilot, volume and rate of fire, all combined to provide an edge over the enemy. Success also hinged on the quality of training and piloting skills. However, the nature of aerial combat began to change with the induction of late second generation and third generation combat aircraft that could perform both the strike and air defence roles with equal efficiency. Such aircraft were described as Multi Role Combat Aircraft. Apart from possessing the conventional attributes, these aircraft were designed to have a multi-mode airborne radar, all weather capability and could operate by day and night. For the air defence role the aircraft were armed with high speed, highly manoeuvrable missiles capable of long-range interception in the head-on mode, supported by accurate active guidance system or fire and forget capability. For the strike role, the aircraft was equipped with an accurate navigation and target acquisition system combined with guided  air-to-surface weapons. Called Precision Guided Munitions or PGMs, the range of weapons carried by the aircraft were lethal; but in an air defence role, positive identification of an aerial target continued to remain a weak area.  Future wars employing fourth and fifth generation combat aircraft will be fought with machines operating in a network centric environment in conjunction with AWACS that would ensure positive identification of enemy aircraft in beyond-visual-range engagement. With low radar cross-section, the aircraft would have advanced multi-mode airborne radar for the strike role, and with help of the latest satellite navigation system, would be able to navigate accurately at low level and high speed to launch ultra smart stand-off weapons with fire and forget capability. The aircraft would be capable of in-flight refuelling and would carry advanced self-protection electronic warfare suites to provide security against detection and engagement by a wide spectrum of ground-based air defence weapon systems. Thus, for the aircraft of the fourth generation and beyond, onboard avionics, quality of the software and capability of weapon systems would perhaps be as important if not more than the platform itself. Another significant development incorporated on the SU30 MKI is thrust vectoring, by means of which the aircraft can carry out manoeuvres hitherto considered outside the realms of possibility. Thrust vectoring per se is not a new concept as it was employed successfully on the British Harrier more than three decades ago. However, the ingenious design on the SU30 MKI gives it unprecedented capability in close combat. Whether an aircraft like the SU30 MKI will ever get into a close combat situation except in peacetime exercises, is a subject for debate. The American F22 and the MiG35 which are under development have this feature as well.

Aircraft Under Consideration

During the Cold War days, selection of a weapon system for the Armed Forces did not pose any dilemma. The Soviet Union had established a virtual monopoly in this regard, rendering the IAF almost totally dependent on it for sourcing combat aircraft. There were a few exceptions such as the British Jaguar and the French Mirage 2000H, both acquired in relatively small numbers against hard currency. The Jaguar deal included licensed manufacture by HAL. In the face of wider options available today and the absence of preferential terms of payment from Russia , the process of selection would be more difficult. A host of factors would have to be taken into account to procure the aircraft that not only meets with the operational needs of the IAF, but also provides the best value for money. All the four aircraft for which RFI has been floated are versatile, top-of-the-line machines and incorporate modern state-of-the-art avionics and can take a wide variety of weapon systems for both short and long range engagement of targets in the air and on the ground.  Prima facie, all four aircraft are well suited to meet with the qualitative requirements of the IAF. There are, however, some distinctive features of each of the aircraft type that need to be noted. The MiG 29 aircraft is a 30-year-old airframe design developed to replace the MiG 23.  However, over the years, the aircraft has been progressively upgraded. Originally conceived as an interceptor, it subsequently evolved into a multi-role weapons platform. The MiG 29 M/M2, the M2 being the two seat version, is the latest model, derived from the naval variant, the MiG 29K and is still under development. It has a quadruplex electronic fly-by-wire flight control system, a synthetic aperture, multi-mode terrain mapping radar, the latest satellite navigation system, advanced communication systems, data link, and an international standard full-glass cockpit, infrared search and tracking system, helmet mounted target designator, comprehensive EW suites and in-flight refuelling capability. The MiG 29 M is powered by two engines giving it a high degree of reliability. The aircraft can carry a wide range of weapons, for both the air defence and strike roles and can be made compatible with weapons of western origin. Licensed production would not pose any problems in view of the elaborate infrastructure and vast experience available with HAL.

The Mirage 2000-5 Mk2 is built around a 1975 vintage airframe but has fourth generation avionics and weapon systems, and was developed exclusively for the export market as a competitor to the F16. This version is not in service with the French Air Force, which has opted for the fourth generation Rafale, which is still under development. Although a single engine aircraft, the Snecma M 53 engine has a flawless reputation for reliability. French equipment being relatively more expensive, the initial outlay for a Mirage 2000-5 Mk2 fleet would be significantly higher than for any of the other three types under consideration.

The Saab Grippen is a light weight, single engine, multi-role, fourth generation aircraft. Designed in the early eighties and test flown in 1988, the project suffered serious reverses initially owing to crashes during test flights in January 1989 and August 1993. Both these accidents were attributed to a malfunction of the flight control system owing to bugs in the software, a problem that was ultimately resolved successfully. Ten years younger than its competitors, the aircraft was inducted into the Swedish Air Force in 1996 but efforts at export have been less successful than for the other three types under scrutiny, having lost out in the bid for a contract from Finland and  Switzerland . The Grippen is powered by a GE 404-400 Turbofan, an American engine licence manufactured in Sweden . Avionics are a mix of American and indigenous, and the aircraft can take a wide range of weapons of western origin. Like the MiG 29M, the single engine light weight American fighter aircraft designated as F16 A/B  has evolved from an interceptor into a multi role version designated as F16 C/D. The F16 A/B was developed as a low cost, agile, light weight interceptor and incorporated design features based on the experience with the F4 Phantom in the Vietnam War and entered service with the USAF in 1979. The F16 is half the weight of the preceding combat aircraft such as the F14 Tomcat and F15 Eagle, and was optimised for a lower operational speed of Mach 1.6. It was also the first combat aircraft to be designed with negative stability necessitating a fly-by-wire flight control system. The multi-role F16 C/D Block 50/52 is larger in size than the original A/B models with an increase in wing area, fuselage length and control surface area. So far, more than 4,500  aircraft have been built and are operational in 24 countries including the USA . The F16 has undergone continual development and upgrade, which is represented by a Block Number placed as a suffix. The F16 A/B upgrades have Block Numbers from 1 to 20. Upgrades of F16 C/D have Block Numbers from 25 onwards. For example, the F16 C/D Block 25 was the first model to be armed with the AMRAAM  air-to-air missile. Further developments were represented by Block Numbers 30/32, 40/42 and 50/52. The two numbers in each block indicates the source of the power plant, 50 standing for GE engine and 52 indicating Pratt & Whitney engine. Even though the original design is more than 25 years old, the newer models such as F16 C/D Block 50/52 or Block 60 developed for the UAE and delivered a year ago, would be in service for another 25 to 30 years. India has been offered a customised version, possibly Block 70, which would have all the advanced avionics and weapon systems of a fourth generation aircraft. In spite of the large numbers operated by different Air Forces worldwide, the aircraft has a reasonably good safety record and enjoys a reputation of strong technological and logistic support  by Lockheed.

Other Considerations

It would be evident from the foregoing that all the four types are quite similar in capability and technological attributes. The Mirage 2000-5 Mk2, the MiG 29 M/M2 and the F16 Block 50/52 have essentially third generation airframes with fourth generation avionics and weapons. The Grippen is the smallest of the four in size and has a maximum all up weight of 12.5 tonnes, which is just over 50 per cent of that of the MiG 29 M. It is the only complete fourth generation aircraft amongst these to be in operational service anywhere in the world and is reported to have relatively higher manoeuvrability and is 10 years younger in design. The MiG 29 M/M2 is the only twin engine aircraft amongst the four. The finer aspects of the machines under review, such as handling characteristics and human engineering aspects can be assessed through evaluation flights. However, the final decision would be influenced by a host of other factors such as price, life cycle costs, payment terms, transfer of technology, co-production with access to foreign markets, assurance of long-term product support and political considerations. The IAF has the infrastructure and is well trained to absorb higher levels of Russian and French technology, having operated third generation aircraft from both sources. The Indian aerospace industry has also accumulated considerable experience in Russian and French technology. On the other hand, there is complete lack of experience of Swedish technology and the exposure to American equipment is limited. Induction of aircraft from Swedish or American sources would involve further diversification and enlargement of the IAF inventory, necessitating the development of fresh production and maintenance infrastructure and reorientation of training of technical personnel. There are other imponderables with American policy, such as transfer of technology and co-production, which would be a prerequisite from the Indian point of view. With regard to price, the Grippen, the F16 and the MiG 29 M would carry a price tag estimated to be between $ 35 and 45 Million, excluding spares and ancillary equipment. The Mirage 2000-5 Mk2 would have a price tag of approximately $ 65 Million, but compared with the MiG 29 M, would have lower life cycle costs.  Of the four, only the F 16 and the Mirage 2000 have been tested in actual combat.

Russia on the Indian Scene

Of the six types of combat aircraft acquired from USSR / Russia , three types have or are being manufactured in India under license. A number of new joint ventures between the aerospace industries of India and Russia are in the offing. These include the development of a fifth generation combat aircraft, Medium Tactical Transport Aircraft, Russian Regional Jets and the AL 55 (I) engine for HJT 36. In the past, Russian product support, especially for the MiG 29 fleet has been inadequate. However, Russia has always stood by India . In the Soviet era, military equipment was supplied against Rupee payment through counter trade and as no foreign currency transaction was involved, the terms were quite favourable to India . In the post-Soviet era, the situation has undergone change. On account of the globalisation of economies of nations, Russia expects payment in hard currency and hence Russian pricing policies do not offer any advantage over western counterparts. Although India and Russia have been strategic partners at the political level, sales to India are driven by compulsions of economy and have no political strings attached. This is evident in the fact that Russia has supplied combat aircraft to China and India concurrently.

The French Aerospace Industry

Over the last five decades, the French aerospace industry has consolidated its position in India though the supply in the sixties of the Ourgaon and the Mystere and later the Mirage 2000H and a large number of light helicopters that were manufactured under licence in India . The French have also dominated the Indian Civil Aviation scene with Airbus and ATR airliners as also engines for Boeing aircraft inducted into the government owned and private airlines. Snecma is also involved in the development of an engine for the ALH in partnership with HAL. The French are fiercely independent in the pursuit of their foreign policy and hence their decisions are expected to be immune to external pressures from within the EU or the USA . Defence sales by France are based purely on commercial considerations. Like Russia , France has also supplied  combat aircraft to both India and Pakistan almost at the same time without any reservation.

Sweden and US Sanctions

So far there has been no aircraft acquired from Sweden for the IAF. As such, the Saab Grippen would add a completely new dimension to the already complex technology mix of the IAF and the Indian aerospace industry. Though Sweden has a reputation for neutrality, the GE 404-400 American engine on the Grippen could prove to be the proverbial ‘Achilles Heel’ as the possibility of an US sanction may include a ban on the supply of the engine and this could undermine any deal with Sweden .

Strategic Partnership with the USA

Offer by the USA for the sale of  F16 to Pakistan and simultaneous offer  to India for the licensed production of the F16 and F18, has sparked off an intense debate on whether India should enter into any long-term relationship with the USA for purchase of critical defence equipment, especially a large fleet of combat aircraft. It is not surprising that opinion on the subject is divided. While the F16 meets with the qualitative requirements of a 20-tonne MRCA that India needs, the F18 with a maximum all up weight of nearly 30 tonnes, is a much larger and heavier aircraft and does not fit into the IAF inventory mix. It is closer to the SU30 MKI of which 190 are already under induction. The American offer to be discussed will, therefore, be limited to the F16. There are some very convincing reasons as to why India should patronise the American aerospace industry. In a uni-polar world, with unchallenged leadership of the most powerful democratic nation, it would be logical for India to shed the legacy of the Cold War era and enlarge the base for sourcing military equipment. Besides, the terms on which weapons are now available from Russia are not as favourable as those in the past. There is, therefore, no justification for limiting the source of acquisition of major   weapon systems to Russia . Besides, while Russian technology has caught up with the west in price, it is yet to do so in respect of quality and sophistication. 

The American offer of Patriot II missile defence system, P3C Orion, TOW anti-tank missiles, Phalanx system for ship defence, Command and Control Systems,  cooperation in the fields of civil nuclear energy, space technology and  F16/ F18 combat aircraft,  is a clear signal of the growing importance and stature of India in the US perspective. In her recent visit to Delhi , Condoleezza Rice stated the new policy framework of the Bush administration, wherein the USA will help India become a major world power in the 21st century. The US does not see any conflict or disagreement with India on any important regional or global issue and believes that a comprehensive relationship between the two nations will be crucial in shaping the international order in the coming years. It is time, therefore, to move away from past prejudices into a new world of cooperation and collaboration. Apart from the dialogue on economic and energy issues, USA intends to seriously consider India ’s defence requirements and explore possibilities of co-production in an effort to establish itself as a reliable source of supply of military hardware, including combat aircraft. India needs to view the emerging equation with the USA in the context of congruent security interests of the two largest democracies. The Indian economy has achieved high growth rates and the country has a respectable status in the global IT industry. Substantial purchases and co-production of high technology defence equipment from the USA would pave the way for the development of a broader strategic and technological relationship, wherein the strengths of the two countries could be synergised to mutual benefit. Acceptance of the offer for licensed production of the F16 could open up the possibility of collaboration in the production of the next generation aircraft.

The perceptible change in the American approach to India must also be seen in the  context of their own economic compulsions. Since the end of the Cold War, the American aerospace industry has suffered on account of a reduction in internal and external demand for military equipment. Orders for the F16 have been completed and the last of the aircraft under production at the factory at Fort Worth would be delivered soon. A contract with Pakistan for the supply of 71 F16 aircraft was terminated some time in the eighties on account of their nuclear weapons programme. Although the advance paid was refunded, Pakistan continued to persist with the effort to obtain the aircraft from the USA . The deal has now been resurrected even though the reasons for which the deal was cancelled in the first place, still obtain and in fact have got worse. Pakistan has not only developed nuclear weapons with the help of some other nations, it has also been engaged in clandestine nuclear proliferation. It is well known that Pakistan has been breeding and supporting terrorism and is said to have been indirectly involved in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and other targets in the USA . Pakistan continues under military rule with no effort towards restoration of democracy. Yet the Bush administration has authorised the sale of F16 aircraft as without immediate further indents for the F16, the production lines would have to close down, resulting in a massive loss of jobs in Texas , something that the Bush administration can ill afford at this juncture. Even in 1992, under somewhat similar circumstances, the US government while trying to build bridges with China , authorised the sale of 150 F16 aircraft to Taiwan to bail out the industry.

It should thus be obvious that even for the USA , economic compulsions can sometimes override political imperatives. India could, therefore, give the American offer serious consideration and formulate agreements so as to ensure powerful mutual economic interdependence that in turn would influence political decisions favourably. India ought not to overplay the issues of balance of power and arms race in the region as it is India`s responsibility to maintain balance of power with potential enemies and should not expect any other arms peddling nation to exercise self restraint for this purpose. Secondly, India did not raise a diplomatic row when France or Russia delivered combat aircraft to hostile nations in the neighbourhood.  However, to get a balanced view, it would also be necessary to consider the arguments against any major deal with the USA , especially for a large fleet of combat aircraft. Indo-US relations in the post independence era have constantly suffered on account of India`s policy of nonalignment, strong Indo Soviet ties and perpetual hostility in Indo-Pak relations. These proved to be major impediments in any effort at building a relationship with the USA based on mutual trust, confidence and respect. Indo-US relations, therefore, constantly hovered at the periphery of the Cold War up to the end eighties. Just as Indo-US relations took an upturn with the end of the Cold War, sanctions were imposed in the wake of the nuclear test in May 1998.  Apart from the implications for the Indian economy, sanctions had a deleterious impact on the ongoing projects in the Indian aerospace industry, specifically the LCA programme. Although the military industrial complex has a vice-like grip on the American economy, the decision to sell military equipment has so far been largely governed by policy imperatives rather than commercial considerations. Even though the aerospace industry is in private hands, the government exercises stringent control over sales outside the country. Also, the American government has a track record of dumping customers or imposing arm twisting sanctions to impose its will in the event of changing political equations. Recent examples are the grounding of the F5 fleet sold to Chile and the F14 Tomcat fleet to Iran . The US Government is also very selective in approving buyers and does so only when they, in some or the other, serve the US national interest. Undoubtedly, the USA would extract its pound of flesh for favours done to India under the new policy framework. The USA will undoubtedly continue to be the dominant military and economic power in the foreseeable future. Conflict or divergence of views at the political level should only be expected while dealing with a country like India with a flourishing multi-party democracy and coalition governments. Differences with the USA on policy issues could impinge on the defence related or technological partnership between the two nations to the serious detriment to India`s security interests. Recent pronouncements by Ms Rice notwithstanding, policies of the American government are labile to the extent that they are liable to change with the change of either the president or the party in power. The American policy establishment is inclined to view the world through the prism of arrogance born out of their superpower status, and is also known to be steered by powerful lobbies with vested interests working behind the scene or by the personal whims of the president and his confidantes. Viewed in the context of historically troubled Indo-US relations, the aggressive foreign policy posture of the USA witnessed helplessly in the recent past by the world community and the inability of the President of the United States to provide long term guarantees in defence supplies or immunity to sanctions, prospects of a long term stable and meaningful ties between the defence related aerospace industries of India and the USA appear difficult.


India needs a fleet of 126 MRCA to safeguard her security interests. As the Indian aerospace industry does not as yet have the technological strength to meet this requirement on its own, the nation has no option but to turn to the international market, where, unlike in the past, a much wider choice is now available. Undoubtedly, India must procure the best machine, but in so doing, sight of the long-term perspective must not be lost. Aircraft majors around the world see India as a lucrative and expanding market and will compete for the contract that could make a crucial impact in their own struggle for survival in the fiercely competitive world of the global aerospace industry.

However, the decision makers in the Indian establishment must penetrate the gloss and read the fine print carefully. Apart from the technological attributes, versatility and operational capability of the machine, they need to bear in mind a number of other important factors such as assurance of long-term logistic support, problems of integration with the IAF inventory, technological gains for the Indian aerospace industry, sanctions and denial regimes, financial implications and the nuances of the political dimension. In the final analysis, the process of selection of the MRCA for the IAF will not only be a techno-military dilemma but a challenging politico-economic exercise as well. This article first appeared in the Indian Defence Review Volume 20-1, Jan- Mar 05 and has been reproduced here with the permission of the editor.




Narayanan Komerath




The fact that global terrorism emanates from Pakistan is well established. This article debunks the notion that “non-state actors” outside the reach of the Pakistani state control global terrorism, using the visible evidence of sustained, pervasive complicity and control by state entities. The role of the Pakistani state is to protect and profit from the terrorist enterprise, rather than to confront it. Foreign aid has gone mostly to benefit the personal interests of the Army leadership, and to strengthen the state in shielding the terrorists against external action. The cognitive dissonance in the reports of Pakistan Army battle deaths at the Afghan frontier is easily resolved when one considers the relationships between the Punjabi-dominated Pakistan government and Army, and the repressed provinces. The concentricity of “Al Qaeda” and the Pakistani state is clear. To eradicate terrorism and bring about peace, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan must be broken into at least five independent provinces, too intent on protecting themselves from each other to be exporting terrorism. The removal of the central government would also enable the world to destroy terrorist strongholds inside the present borders of Pakistan.



Prelude: “Pakistan Is A Victim”


"The state of Pakistan is in no way responsible," Pakistan President Zardari told Larry King[i] "... Even the White House and the American CIA have said that today. The state of Pakistan is, of course, not involved. We're part of the victims, Larry. I'm a victim. The state of Pakistan is a victim."


One has to admire the logic of that. No responsible adult could call the Islamic Republic of Pakistan a “responsible” nation. As for Pakistan being a victim of terrorism, consider:

1. In every suicide terrorist attack outside of Israel and Iraq, a Pakistani is the first to die. 

2.  Most terrorist attacks and foiled plots[ii] lead to the arrest of Pakistanis.

3. Pakistanis constitute the majority of those charged or being interrogated for terrorist crimes.

4. The Pakistan passport has become a red flag at immigration checkpoints the world over.

5. The global focus on terrorism has devastated Pakistan’s biggest exports: criminals, hashish[iii],[iv], and counterfeit currency.


This article argues that the State of Pakistan should quite properly be the victim of its own terrorism. It must die, for the scourge of global terrorism to end.



An article published on the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States of America summarized extracts from open-source published reports on the role[i] of Pakistan in terrorist attacks directed against the USA. This showed that nearly every such attack over the previous decade originated, was planned, funded, trained and / or organized in or from Pakistan. Starting with the initial reaction“I would be very interested to read how anyone ascribes most terrorism to just one country”, an eminent South Asia Expert declared after reading it, that “the author suffers from lack of personal knowledge of the Pakistan Army.” Ah! Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;}

Was he dissing the article?  No, he was explaining kindly that he, being much better-informed about the Pakistan Army than the author, could point to far worse than what said author had pointed out!  As that author, I thank the Almighty that I do not have “more personal knowledge” of the Pakistan Army, and Insh’Allah, may it always stay that way.  Millions of innocents the world over have never had that choice.


A year later, I did an update[i] on Pakistan’s contribution to the global terror portfolio, still leaving out their operations in India except those that were “dry runs” for scaled-up operations elsewhere.  I then stopped these updates because the global market dominance was by now clear to all, and “Pakistan is Terror Central”, a catch phrase in 2002, had become as non-newsworthy by 2004 as “Dog Bites Man”[ii].  But we at BRF[iii] have been tracking every reported terror attack since then, and seeing how long it takes before the Pakistan connection becomes evident. Rarely have we had to wait a day.

[i] Komerath, N., “Pakistani Role in Terrorist Attacks Against the USA: An Update”.  Bharat-Rakshak Monitor, Vol. 6(3), Nov.- Dec. 2003.

[ii] Even British Prime Minister Gordon Brown seems to understand this by late 2008. See “Brown: Pakistan linked to most UK terror plots”. CNN, Dec. 14, 2008. Excerpt:  “Gordon Brown, who met counterpart Manmohan Singh in New Delhi and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad, said three quarters of the most serious terrorism cases investigated by British police have links to al Qaeda in Pakistan”

[iii] BRF is the Bharat Rakshak Forum. This forum started as a gathering of enthusiasts to discuss the history of India’s military forces, but expanded since the Kargil War of 1999 into a significant worldwide discussion forum on strategic affairs dealing with the Indian subcontinent.

[i] Komerath, N., “Pakistani Role in Terrorist Attacks Against the U.S.A.” Bharat-Rakshak Monitor, Volume 5(2) September-October 2002.

[i] Anon,  “Zardari: ‘Pakistan in No Way Responsible’ for Mumbai Attacks. CNN, December 2, 2008.

[ii] A very recent example is the arrest of 14 Belgians reportedly of Moroccan descent, accused of plotting a suicide bombing perhaps targeting the leadership of the European Union at an EU summit in Brussels. All had been trained and arrived from camps “on the Afghan-Pakistan border”, a politically correct euphemism for “inside Pakistan”. See Anon, “Belgian police arrest ‘al Qaeda legend’. December 11, 2008.

[iii] Anon, “Pakistan Using Drug Trafficking to Finance J&K Ultras”., May 14, 2001. “"The trafficking was used to finance the Afghan mujahideen and Kashmiri separatists, while part of the proceeds went to top Pakistani bureaucrats and the practice continues," Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported.


"In the years of Soviet-United States rivalry, Islamabad could indulge in heroin trade without problems, but with the break-up of the USSR, the situation radically changed," it said.


Fearing international isolation, Islamabad "hurriedly invented" the Taleban militia as a cover-up for its narcotics trade, which is also the basis of its prosperity, wrote the daily.

[iv] Anon, “Afghan drugs barons flaunt their wealth and power”. PakTribune, April 9, 2006.  Excerpt:  “From Baramcha, about two-thirds of the contraband is spirited south towards Karachi or the more secluded Makran coast. Another third moves west by road into Iran. The final destination, after being purified into heroin, is often Britain.”




Quality of Acquisition Staff: A Key Factor in Defence Procurements


Despite the recent reforms in India ’s defence procurement structures and promulgation of the new defence procurement procedure, no major improvement is discernible on ground. Ministry of Defence (MoD) is aware of the existing deficiencies and is constantly reviewing the whole mechanism. The stress so far has been on the establishment of a dedicated procurement organisation and streamlining of procedures. However, any mechanism is as good as the people who operate it. Surprisingly, little thought has been paid to the selection and training of the functionaries entrusted with the procurement of military equipment worth hundreds of crores of rupees. The quality of personnel continues to be the weakest link in the whole procurement system and this aspect needs immediate attention. The acquisition staff should be professional, well qualified and adequately trained. A look at the acquisition systems of other countries shows how negligent India has been of this crucial requirement.

With a view to improve the quality of its acquisition personnel, the United States constituted a committee of experts in 1990. Based on its wide-ranging recommendations, a Defence Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) was passed which approved the constitution of a Defence Acquisition Corps (DAC). DAC is a cadre of highly qualified individuals who have earned recognition as experts in the field of acquisition. Education, training and experience standards for each acquisition position have been laid down.

A Defense Acquisition University has also been established to provide training to both military and non-military personnel. Training is also imparted to private sector businesspersons active in government acquisition. Customised courses are conducted to fulfill different job requirements. Training is imparted in mission needs, performance goals, prioritising resource allocation, systems planning, research methodology, development schedules, engineering, documentation, business modeling, testing regime, logistic implications, cost estimating, negotiations, contracts and financial management. Officials are also attached with selected defence producers for a nine-month training programme to obtain first hand experience.

The British have accepted that the defence acquisition personnel need wide ranging management and acquisition skills. They proposes to establish an Acquisition Training Cell in the Ministry of Defence to meet all training requirements. A postgraduate accredited diploma course for middle management is also planned. It will be open to service officers, civilian staff and the industry. Training will be imparted in acquisition processes, management skills and some elective subjects as per an individual’s assignment.   

Defence Materials Organisation of Australia is seeking proposals from universities and other training institutions for strategic partnership for the development of professionalism and other required skills for its staff. A Select Advisory Group of Canadian Defence Ministry has recommended a revamp of the acquisition system due to inadequacies in management and leadership. It opined that a large number of senior functionaries were ill equipped for the job due to lack of exposure and experience.

The head of La Delegation Generale pour I’Armament (The French Procurement Agency) set up a specially constituted task force in March 2000 to review its functioning including human resources and staffing system. 

Even a newly born nation like Serbia and Montenegro has appreciated the importance of selection and training of acquisition staff. Special training is imparted to selected officers of high integrity, so as to prepare them for their assignment. It is generally believed that the country save up to 30 million euros in a year by proper selection of personnel and their subsequent training.

In India , the staff carrying out acquisition related functions is drawn from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the services.  All civil servants and service officers feel that they can carry out any job assigned to them. They believe that their initial training and subsequent exposure equips them to shoulder any responsibility. They are all well meaning and competent people. But for most of them it is just another routine assignment with little difference. Their approach continues to be entrenched in bureaucratic mediocrity and procedural quagmire. They are neither selected for any displayed talent nor are given any special training to handle defence procurements. Additionally, they lack necessary education to comprehend competing technologies and technicalities of complex procurement procedures.

Peculiarities of Defence Procurements  

India , has failed to appreciate that procurement of defence equipment is a highly specialised activity needing extraordinary professional skills and unique attributes. It is an intricate and multifaceted process. It is not a routine governmental activity that can be performed by all with desired results. Some of the major peculiarities are as follows: -

  •     Funds involved are very large and the quality of equipment selected has a profound influence on national defence potential.
  • There is no open tendering. Invitations are sent to a few selected vendors. A fine balance has to be maintained between need for generating competition and security requirements.
  • Most of the sophisticated equipment has to be imported as the indigenous defence industry is still in a nascent stage.

  • There are a limited number of producers in the world market and still fewer are ready to part with their top of the line products. The problem gets compounded where technology transfer is sought as an essential part of the package.
  • Major weapon producers in the world are, in fact, systems integrators only. Various sub-assemblies are produced in different countries. This complicates the issues while negotiating life cycle support for the equipment, as the export policies of all of them have to be factored in.
  • Countries have different norms for issuance of licence for export. Many impose riders on the usage of equipment. Yet, there are countries whose domestic laws preclude assured subsequent sustenance of the equipment bought.
  • There are strong political and corporate lobbies at work to push their products. Defence procurements are intrinsically linked to a nation’s foreign policy and diplomatic interests.

  • As there is an element of secrecy in the procurement process, all decisions come under scrutiny subsequently. Therefore, it becomes essential to follow the procedure diligently. Deviations, if any, have to be accounted for. All decisions have to be and must be seen to be above board and in the country’s interest.

  • Selection of the most suitable equipment is a complex and time-consuming process as a large number of functionaries are involved.  

Need for Specialised Acquisition Staff A nation’s military prowess and continued defence potential depends upon expeditious procurement of military hardware, which entails heavy expenditure of scarce national resources. This critical task must be assigned to the people who possess the necessary acquisition proficiency and attributes.  The entire procurement process consists of highly specialised activities. The following activities reveal their complexity, criticality and significance: -   ·         Preparation of Services Qualitative Requirements (SQR) SQR are structured operational parameters framed by the services for the equipment sought. Over-ambitious, impractical and imprecise SQR create confusion and cause delays. Infirmities in the preparation of SQR can result in the abandonment of the case at an advanced stage. It is essential that the persons associated with their formulation be conversant with own mission requirements, products available in the world market, level of indigenous technology and its likely development in the acceptable time frame.   ·         Formulation Of Requests for Proposals (RFP) RFP is a tender document issued to selected vendors, inviting them to submit their technical and commercial proposals. It lays down inviolable terms and conditions for evaluation and commercial negotiations. It also forms the basis of the subsequent contract document. There is a great deal of sanctity attached to this document as a sovereign government issues it. A poorly drafted RFP with unspecific clauses can lead to multiple interpretations and result in gross financial liabilities to the Government. Therefore, experts in corporate affairs, international law, foreign trade and legal complexities must be associated with its formulation.   ·         Technical Evaluation

It is a paper evaluation of technical proposals submitted by the vendors. It is carried out under the aegis of the Services Headquarters (SHQ). The aim is to identify vendors whose proposals satisfy the parameters and who should be called for field trials for validating their claims. It is a sensitive task as different vendors offer dissimilar technologies. It is for the Technical Evaluation Committee to understand the technologies, ascertain their degree of stabilisation and evaluate their suitability for own operational environment. Obviously, members have to be technically sound and knowledgeable.

  ·         Field Trials

These are carried out by the services. This is by far the most critical activity of the entire procurement process as its basic aim is to validate the performance claims made by the producers and to ascertain the suitability of equipment for induction into service. The trial teams have to be appropriately equipped and trained to evaluate equipment with diverse technologies and determine their inter se merit. They should have the necessary expertise and vision to be able to interpolate exploitation of equipment in diverse combat milieu.

  ·         Commercial Negotiations

Once the lowest bidder is determined, he is invited for commercial negotiations. Invariably, a battery of corporate lawyers, financial experts and executives trained in negotiation techniques represent the vendor. They are quick to gauge the depth of buyer’s comprehension of various facets of the proposal and urgency for the equipment. Staff carrying out negotiations needs special training and skills to do hard bargaining to clinch the most beneficial deal.

  ·         Drafting of Contract

It is a legal and binding document for both the parties. Every sentence has to be worded with utmost care. Strangely, India has no standard format of a contract for imports. Every vendor is asked to submit a draft contract, which is accepted by MoD after scrutiny. As is to be expected, the contract is invariably loaded in the vendor’s favour. At times, the fine print contains many unacceptable terms, which come to light at a later stage. MoD has no integral legal advice available to it. It has no expertise in international trade, foreign exchange transactions and international arbitration norms.    

The Way Ahead It is time that India pays attention to the quality of its defence acquisition staff and takes concrete steps to improve it. Changes in structures and procedures make limited difference. No reforms can yield the desired results unless and until the implementing functionaries are equipped to translate good intentions into tangible actions on ground. Some of the important steps that can be taken immediately without any bureaucratic upheaval are discussed below.

Identification of Appointments

To begin with, there is a need to define Acquisition Staff. There are a large number of officials and subordinate staff involved in the entire procurement process. Not all can or should be nominated as Acquisition Staff. MoD and the services have to identify the appointments that are critical to the smooth processing of acquisition cases. It is necessary that this be done with due care. As a broad guideline, only those appointments, which influence decision making, should be termed as Acquisition Staff Appointments (ASA). These appointments are required to be notified and updated periodically.

Selection Selection of suitable personnel for posting to ASA is perhaps the most difficult and critical task. MoD and SHQ have to lay down essential and desirable criteria for each post under their respective domains. Criteria should include aspects like formal education, related experience, previous exposure in similar jobs, demonstrated competence and aptitude.  Personal integrity has to be of unimpeachable standard. Selected officers should have an unblemished record and should be eligible for next promotion. It should preferably not be a last leg posting. In other words, to improve quality, it is essential to induct talent and inject professionalism. Tenure To provide continuity, all ASA appointees should have a minimum tenure for three years and extendable to five years. Their career interests should be protected. Initially, the selected officers should be kept on probation for a period of three months. Thereafter, their suitability could be determined for permanent posting. The officers should also have the option to seek reversion if they so desire. Orientation Training

All ASA appointees should compulsorily be made to undergo orientation training for six weeks at a nominated institute at New Delhi . Initial three weeks could be utilised for acquainting them with the procurement structures, revised procedure and methodology, while the last three weeks should be for specialised training related to their specific jobs. Help should be taken from experts in the civil sector and the universities to structure the courses to ensure their usefulness. All courses should end with an assimilation test to validate selection. Officers found wanting could be reverted back to their previous jobs without any adverse remarks. Attendance on orientation courses has to be enforced without exception. There is a tendency amongst senior officers to view such training as redundant, in the mistaken belief that they already know what is worth knowing.   

Training of Trial Teams Though all members of the trial team are important, they do not necessarily have to be nominated as Acquisition Staff. However, whenever a trial team is constituted, its key personnel should be called for training with respect to the conduct of trials and preparation of trial report. This could be carried out in the related training establishment of the sponsoring service. Conclusion

Whereas most of the countries in the world have realised the importance of the quality of acquisition staff, no attention has so far been paid to it in India . All reforms have been directed towards structures and procedures. Criticality of human resource aspect has been totally ignored. Functionaries are posted to key acquisition appointments in routine. They are neither selected for any demonstrated capability nor for any displayed flair. They lack education to comprehend technologies involved. They have no prior experience in military hardware evaluation. Additionally, no training is imparted to them to prepare them for their acquisition assignments.

Parameters are prepared by service officers with little knowledge of stabilized technologies. Tender documents are prepared by SHQ and issued by MoD in a most amateurish and casual manner. They contain ambiguities which later lead to multiple interpretations. Trials are carried out by units who consider it an additional chore and fail to comprehend their significance. Finally, negotiations are carried out by the people who have little comprehension of the equipment or its various functions. They have no knowledge of international trade, foreign exchange trends and cost benefit analysis.   

In other words, procurement of military equipment worth thousands of crores of rupees is being carried out by the staff who are ill-equipped for the task and who are found wanting when considered decisions are to be made. Their lack of knowledge manifests itself in their reluctance to take decisions and a propensity to involve maximum number of people.

It has generally been accepted the world over that an efficient acquisition work force can not only expedite procurements but also affect a saving of up to 15 percent of the capital expenditure in initial purchase price and associated life-cycle costs. When translated into actual figures, it amounts to a saving of over Rupees 5000 crore for India as per the capital expenditure budget of Rupees 33,500 crore for 2004-05. It is no small amount. It is time India carries out major reforms to improve the quality of its acquisition staff. India needs professional, well-qualified, highly motivated and adequately trained acquisition functionaries.

This article first appeared in the Indian Defence Review Volume 20-1, Jan- Mar 05 and has been reproduced here with the permission of the editor.

Editor's Notes: Possibilities and Pitfalls


Possibilities and Pitfalls

The old wooden Kaman Bridge , the last Indian outpost on the Line of Control (LOC), was replaced by the Border Roads Organization with an iron-and-concrete structure in a record time of two months.  The bridge was renamed Aman Setu (bridge of peace).  The Srinagar – Muzzarfarbad bus began operating on April 7 across the LOC and was hailed by the Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Shri. Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, as the “mother of all confidence building measures.”  The bus service is dubbed as the karavan-e-aman (peace bus). Extremist voices had always opposed the bus service and on April 6 two militants attacked the Tourist Reception Centre at Srinagar with automatic weapons and grenades.  They set fire to the building and injured six people before being killed by the security forces.  The attack did not deter the passengers or the governments of India and Pakistan . Instead the bus was flagged of by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh amid much fanfare and the State Chief Minister and other officials welcomed the passengers coming from Muzzafrabad in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir at the Aman Setu. These people were given a grand cultural reception at Salamabad before traveling on to meet their relatives in different parts of Jammu & Kashmir. Since the maiden bus, the second bus departed as scheduled on April 21st carrying mostly the visitors back to their homes across the LOC. The announcement by the Indian and Pakistani leadership that other routes between the two countries would also be opened and that trucks would also ply across divided J&K has come as a boost to the economic aspirations of the people.  In this spirit of development, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other dignitaries flagged off the inaugural train service between Jammu and Udhampur on April 13th, providing new economic opportunities and easier communications for the people living in the mountainous parts of Jammu . Meanwhile terrorists continued to attempt infiltration across the fence on the LOC and make attacks within the state, but improved defenses and diligent operations by the security forces have frustrated their designs. The true test for the Pakistani leadership will come when the snows melt and more infiltration routes open up in the difficult upper reaches of J&K.   On April 17th General Musharraf invited himself to watch the cricket match between India and Pakistan .  During the visit he met the Prime Minister and other political leaders.  The current visit was markedly different from his last visit to India in 2001.  At that time, General Musharraf’s aggressive and undiplomatic posture led to the collapse of the Agra summit.  The absence of acrimony in this informal summit resulted in a joint declaration stating that the peace process was now ‘irreversible’.  While supporting the government in an effort to build peace, many analysts have pointed out that peace can be very easily disrupted as long as Pakistan retains the infrastructure of terrorism.  In the future phases of dialogue with Pakistan , the Indian government needs to focus on a complete removal of the entire infrastructure of terrorism, so that the peace process will truly become irreversible.

In Pakistan , Balochistan continues to boil.  While the Pakistani army seems to have secured the natural gas installations at Sui, the major pipelines and the power plants that were attacked by the Baloch nationalists early this year, there has been no significant movement forward on the political front.  The protagonists remain unconvinced about the sincerity of the Pakistan administration and retain their ability to cause significant security-related worries to the Pakistan army.  Another interesting set of developments in the country have been recent efforts by General Musharraf to secure his political future beyond 2007, by splitting the Pakistan Muslim League and possibly cutting deals with other political parties.  However, the fact remains that the only source of power is his position as the commander of the army and it seems unlikely that General Musharraf would give up this position and risk removal, exile or possibly even death. The last few weeks have witnessed interesting developments on the nuclear front.  Pakistan has agreed to send samples of centrifuges to the IAEA for tests to determine whether the Iranian centrifuges originated from Pakistan .  Additionally, the Pakistani government was under tremendous pressure from the United States to hand over Abdul Qadeer Khan and possibly even the former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg for questioning. Pakistan seems to be hedged its risk by signing a deal with the Chinese Government to build the Chashma-2 nuclear reactor.  This reactor would produce plutonium that could potentially be diverted to the nuclear weapons program.

Europe and the US are trying their best to put the scarred trans-Atlantic relationship back on track. The visit of the US President to Europe in February was a major step in this direction. He showed an understanding of European concerns and was received with warmth not previously visible towards the U.S in recent years.  Interestingly, behind the trans-Atlantic rapprochement are widely differing perceptions about the direction of this relationship. Bush administration views Europe ’s new-found warmth as a consequence of the tectonic changes taking place in the Middle East after the removal of Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, Europe views the Bush administration’s recent moves towards multilateralism as a vindication of their stand on Iraq and a failure of the “go-it-alone” neo-conservative agenda. It would be simplistic to state that recent US-European rapprochement is simply a result of the changing political landscape in the Middle East . The West is facing a host of diplomatic challenges and the Bush Administration is making a concerted effort to present a united front with the Europeans in tackling these challenges.

On Iran , the US seems to have decided to back European-led negotiations with Tehran . According to some reports, the US is now ready to consider providing inducements to Iran such as World Trade Organization membership and badly needed airplane parts, with possibly the sale of new civilian airlines from Boeing or Airbus. The European trio – the French, the Germans, and the British – presented a united front on this issue. The US clearly stated its opposition to Europe ’s attempts to lift arms embargo against China .  However, notwithstanding this recent cozying up between the US and Europe , significant differences remain between the two on a range of issues. Even on Iran , the US concessions are dependent on permanent dismantlement of Iran ’s nuclear program while the Europeans are willing to negotiate for a temporary freeze. In regards to North Korea , the Europeans would like the US to initiate one-on-one talks with Pyongyang while the US is only willing to talk to North Korea within the framework on the six-party negotiations involving China , South Korea , Russia , and Japan . Lastly, the Europeans are still reluctant in aiding US in Iraq .

US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice’s high profile whirlwind tour of Asia in March has once again focused attention on the continent’s crucial place in global security and stability. Secretary Rice outlined a new strategic vision for the Asian security architecture with emerging powers like Japan and India at its center. She welcomed Japan ’s increasingly assertive role on the global stage even as she asked China to match its growing capabilities to its international responsibilities. The importance which the US attaches to its ties with India was reflected in Rice’s choice of India as her first stop in her tour.  As an indication of burgeoning Indo – US ties, the US is ready to offer civilian nuclear technology to India and completely lift all nuclear sanctions imposed after the peaceful nuclear explosion of 1974. During her visit, Rice explicitly acknowledged India ’s rising global profile and sought India ’s partnership in maintaining regional and global stability.  Despite some glitches such as the US opposition to the Indo-Iran gas pipeline project and Indian opposition to the sale of F-16 fighters to Pakistan , the visit reflected the changing framework for Indo-US ties.  Secretary Rice reiterated that the US has no intention of attacking North Korea .  However, she plainly stated that the US has run out of patience with North Korea ’s continued refusal to rejoin nuclear disarmament talks. There is a growing perception in the US that China is not doing enough to effectively pressure North Korea on its nuclear program. She challenged China to address the North Korean issue more effectively, stated US displeasure over heightened tensions with Taiwan and made a personal statement about limitations on religious freedom in China . Overall, the Asia visit was a step towards regaining lost diplomatic space by the US in the last few years.

Braving bombs and bullets the people of have voted. Candidates, voters and countless Iraqi security officers have risked life and limb to ensure the success of the elections. The editorial team congratulates the people of Iraq for this great achievement and offers condolences to the kin of those who gave their lives to make this happen. Though other external observers may take a less charitable view, the elections in Iraq have given the US led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) much needed political space. The attention is now focused on the new Iraqi government under President Jalal Talabani and the process of negotiation between the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions in Iraq takes the spotlight off the CPA itself. The CPA however could not rest easily on its laurels, for barely had the elections ended, trouble was just literally around the corner. In a tragic case of friendly fire, a highly respected Italian intelligence officer, Nicolo Calipari was killed by US troops in Baghdad . Calipari had just successfully negotiated the release of the Italian hostage, Giuliana Sgrena, a reporter for the leftist newspaper Il Manifesto. The news of Calipari's murder by US troops served to focus anti-war sentiment in Italy and considerable anger was also directed at President Silvio Berlusconi. In a bid to keep political pressure to manageable levels, Prime Minister Berlusconi had to announce the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq . Though Italy still remains a part of the war on terror, the loss of Italy in Iraq will be felt. At the very least, the inability to safely engage in independent hostage negotiations will give other nations pause when contemplating joining a multinational effort in Iraq . It must be borne in mind that the minority Sunnis constituted a disproportionately large portion of Saddam Hussein's regime and they opposed the elections. It should come as no surprise then that the majority Shia population were keen to see the CPA's electoral process succeed. The intensity of the relentless suicide bombings on Shia places of worship speak to the sectarian strife that simmers below the surface. This is going to make the process of negotiation alluded to earlier extremely difficult and the price of delay will be measured in blood. The US probably shares some fraction of the Sunni concern over a possible Shia dominance over Iraq , however an over enthusiastic approach seems fraught with the possibility of blowback. On a related note, the revolution in Lebanon has effectively contested Syria 's influence over the financially powerful Maronite community. This could in theory open several political questions in Syria itself. Though neo- conservative thinkers see this as a cautious spread of democratic values from Iraq , one wonders if there is a real understanding of what shape a "Post-Assad" Syria may take. Indeed one could not but agree that "Post-Saddam" Iraq proved quite a handful.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and an entourage of a hundred delegates visited India in April, highlighting his four-nation tour of the Subcontinent. Premier Wen Jiabao first visited India in 1994 as head of an international liaison department of the Communist Party of China.  The current visit was not only intended to greet India’s political leaders but survey its economic landscape.  It seemed clear that the Premier was intent to focus on potential Sino – India economic cooperation. In this vein, he visited the city of Bangalore, India’s corporate giant Tata Consultancy Services, telecom giant Huawei Technology's R&D centre, the Indian Institute of Sciences, and the Indian Space Research Organization.  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Premier Jiabao exchanged views on the border and emphasized a willingness to agree on an acceptable and fair solution by the Joint Working Group. Furthermore, India reiterated that Tibet Autonomous Region was an integral part of China while China reciprocated by declaring Sikkim as clearly demarcated within Indian territory.  However, questions linger about the Aksai Chin are and Arunachal Pradesh and the resolution of these boundaries will mark beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship with China. Prior to departing for Beijing, the premier addressed hundreds of students at Dogra Hall at India Institute of Technology in Delhi and stated that, "India and China are not competitors but can complement each other and work toward an Asian century."

The editorial team extends it heartfelt condolences at the passing of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005.  The passing drew to a close 28 years of papacy, one of the longest in this century.  His reign witnessed significant events in human history from the end of communism and the Cold War to the uncertainty of the post-Cold War era. On April 19, 2005, wisps of white smoke and bells announced an end to the deliberation of the College of Cardinals.  Cardinal John Ratzinger a confidant of the Pope John Paul II and in charge of Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith was elected Pope Benedict XVI.  We congratulate Pope Benedict XVI and wish him every success in spiritually leading the worldwide congregation of a billion Catholics through the challenges of faith.

Cover Image: Reuters / Amiruddin Mughal

India’s Submarine Acquisition Program merits a relook

Indian defense acquisitions are governed by Defence Procurement Procedure –2002, which lists `free competition' as its basic aim and underlying philosophy. The procedure repeatedly stresses the importance of generating maximum competition. It also mandates that competitive tendering be followed as a norm. Therefore, Indian defense acquisitions have to be broad based with tenders being issued to all eligible producers. But surprisingly, under the NDA regime, DCN, the manufacturers of the Scorpene submarine, were the only ones approached with a request for an offer. Neither Kockums of Sweden (an obvious contender), nor Germany's HDW (then still under a cloud), were approached, making the entire `selection' process monopolistic and non-competitive. What is more, the finalization pending signing of the contract was done on the basis of selection criteria that are hopelessly outdated. As a result, India almost contracted for a vessel that lacked many essential facilities like Air Independent Propulsion (AIP), at a price that was not only very high to begin with, but has since been upped enormously by the suppliers on the plea that the costs have gone up due to a delay by the Indian government in inking the deal.

The Indian Navy is understandable very anxious to expedite the process as it sees a major gap in its submarine potential a few years down the line. Haste, however, as we were taught as children, makes for waste.

It appears that HDW, which has since been exonerated of all wrong doing by the special court, and given a totally clean chit, is not only keen to offer its Type 214 submarine on transfer of technology basis, but is also willing to throw in a basket of `offsets' as a sweetener, while bidding at most competitive prices. That their prices are competitively economical was proved recently when HDW won a Portuguese naval contract as the lowest bidder in a global tender.

What is even more interesting is that the German HDW boasts of a tried and tested fuel cell technology that provides it with Air Independent propulsion for prolonged periods when submerged. Submarines with this technology are in service with the German and Greek navies, are being built for the South Korean Navy and are being supplied to the Portuguese Navy. Of special interest to India is the existence at Mazagon Dock of compatible equipment dating from the period when it constructed HDW Type 209 (Shishumar Class) subs. Indeed, some of this equipment is currently being used to refit these vessels. This equipment, can not only save India millions if the more advanced HDW 214 subs are to be assembled there in the future, but also imply a critical six-month or more saving in time. Furthermore, expertise already exists at Mazagon Dock in applying HDW technology and manufacturing processes, whereas, if India goes in for the French Scorpene, not only would substantial fresh capital expenditure need to be incurred, but the learning curve would also be very much longer.

Shekhar Dutt, Secretary of the Dept. of Defence Production during a recent CII meeting on Offset and Countertrade asserted that India must focus on Offset agreements for all major defense deals The French have offered no offset deal with the Scorpene, whereas the Germans appear to have made it clear that they are ready and willing to discuss substantial and attractive offset terms with India. This
would not only upgrade Indian technological expertise, and capabilities, but also, over the years, generate substantial export revenues, thereby even further reducing the effective price of the submarines.

The Germans feel that the Indian Navy's fears can be well addressed by them and are confident of their ability to deliver the Type 214 vessels in a shorter time frame than what the French could. They base their confidence upon their ongoing production program at the HDW yard and the skills and infrastructure available at Mazagon Dock.

All in all, it would appear that a relook into the purchase of this vital defence equipment, which shall have a bearing upon this nation's security for many decades to come, is in order.

Amrish Sahgal is a defense and strategy analyst

Unraveling the Chinese Checkers

With Premier Wen Jiabao’s recent visit to India , New Delhi needs to conduct an honest appraisal of the basic Chinese characteristics and compare them with ours. On one hand, this ruthless evaluation of plus and minuses of both, will enable New Delhi to evolve a long term strategy to deal with the emerging threats posed by the Chinese proxies on our periphery.  On the other, we can simultaneously plug into each other’s market to reap huge mutual benefits as India and China continue to emerge as the core group that powers the unprecedented economic boom in Asia .

China is a non-status quo power in terms of territory, power and influence and India , a non-status quo power in terms of status, power and influence by virtue of their belief in their centrality. Whereas the Indian centrality is of mind, the Chinese centrality is of material possessions including acquisition of fresh territory. Thus, history is witness to China’s expansionist agenda in forcible occupation of Tibet while India after liberating East Pakistan from the tyranny of Islamabad, withdrew its forces handing over the territory to create an independent sovereign nation. Hence, it stands to reason that incase India is ever found militarily weak; China ’s imperial territorial ambitions will overwhelm India . The forerunner of such a scenario was observed recently when a calibrated campaign was orchestrated through state blessed demonstrations by Beijing against Japan !. However, the reverse would not be true in case Beijing ’s hold ever weakened over its far-flung territories. Therefore, while New Delhi resolves amicably the boundary disputes and dialogues on other beneficial aspects of the burgeoning Sino-Indian relationship, its continued neglect of the military power will prove fatal in long term.

Integral to the Chinese statecraft is the belief that there are no friendly foreign powers – either they are hostile or subordinate. Pakistan , Myanmar , and North Korea are subordinates who need to be protected with economic, diplomatic and military support as they sub-serve the Chinese policy objectives. Embroiling them in their regional vicinity by arming them against neighbors shores up the credibility of Beijing ’s supremacy as the top dog in Asia . This policy is a direct derivative of China ’s strategic tradition of comprehensive national power that primarily consists of cultural, economic, organizational and military superiority. To create a favorable Balance of Power it uses in integrated fashion economic capability, coercion and deception, need based shifting of alliances, and use of force. Beijing joined up with Washington during the Nixon era in egging Pakistan to destabilize India . However in the current geo-political scenario where rising China intends replacing American influence in Asia-Pacific and after Washington termed it as a strategic competitor, Beijing is shifting gear by aligning with India and Russia to counter balance American unilateralist approach.  But on another strategic dimension it continues to surround and weaken India .

Even as China and India move to resolve the boundary dispute, Beijing is intelligently creating surrogates with anti-India tilt on our land borders. The big picture runs from West to East and consists of Pakistan , Nepal , Bangladesh and Myanmar on our periphery. There is an active Kamtapuri movement underway to carve an independent state in the narrow Siliguri corridor (i.e. 21 to 60 kms wide and 200 kms long), which if it succeeds can help Beijing unravel the entire northeast and take over Bhutan . Simultaneously Beijing is not only lavishing funds on its Navy but also acquiring naval base facilities in Gwadar port in Pakistan and Chittagong port in Bangladesh . This will facilitate inroads into the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal . To allow oil tankers from West Asia to bypass Malacca Strait , it is negotiating with Thailand to carve an Asian Panama Canal through the Thai isthmus. China has already helped build several ports, roads and rail links from the Chinese province of Yunnan to the Bay of Bengal , and a listening post on Myanmar ’s Coco Islands to monitor sea traffic. Therefore even as the Chinese Premier discusses friendship with New Delhi on his visit, Beijing is making sure that turmoil on India ’s land frontiers remains intact and the Chinese naval basis surrounding India with the help of its surrogates act as an adequate drag to further slow down New Delhi ’s rise as a global power.

However, India ’s belief thus far, in centrality of mind (unlike China ’ s centrality based on territory) inhibits India to accord a natural primacy to military power in the scheme of things to expand its influences. Though foreign policy of a nation is a means and not an end itself, unfortunately this centrality of mind makes us pretend that diplomacy by itself is adequate to meet the security challenges posed by adversaries. Without sufficient economic and military strength and a shrewd game plan no foreign policy objectives of peaceful neighborhood can be achieved.  New Delhi needs to be ruthless in conducting covert operations to ensure governments in our vicinity refrain from indulging in unfriendly acts, prioritize rapid modernization of our armed forces to expand our benevolent influences such that it lends stability to the region, create strong economic and military alliances within Asia to counter-balance nations and forces that can be inimical to us while seeking simultaneously, the resolution of boundary dispute, economic inter-connectivity with China and ability to act in concert where it furthers our national interests.

EU to Empower Chinese Military Bangalore’s biennial Aero India show has started attracting the American, Russian, Israeli, French, and the British companies in a big way. However, the developments taking place in our vicinity pose a grave challenge to India ’s supremacy in military aviation sector in Asia . European Union alarmed with a large growing trade deficit with China is keen to lift the ban on sales of weapons immediately. In particular, Germany , Italy and France are lobbying hard with Washington to remove the embargo imposed on transfer of military technology. This appears to be the only method to correct the trade imbalance with the Asian giant. So far, the United States has successfully stalled such attempts by threatening to limit its own military technological transfer to NATO incase EU unilaterally lifts the ban. However, the ban is more than likely to be removed by 2008, once George Bush demits office. This in turn, to maintain strategic parity will force India to invest heavily in upgrades and modernization of its military technology.

To emerge as the unchallenged military power in Asia and to replace American influence in Asia-Pacific , China ’s defense budget increases every year by ten to fifteen percent. In 2005 official figures stood at almost 30 billions dollars and the unofficial estimates at another 30 billion, making it the largest weapons and armament procurement program in Asia . However China ’s plans for military modernization have hit a roadblock due to the embargo placed by America and NATO countries on military hardware supplies.

French objective in the words of President Chirac while speaking in Hong Kong in October 2004 were stated to be “ the relations and links between the EU and China are destined to grow, and in my view, the EU is destined to become the leading customer, the leading supplier, and first partner of China” Implicit in these word is the fact that EU has serious concerns over trade deficit and resumption of military supplies is a way out to strike a balance. Military technical cooperation also promotes sales of high-tech civil products as an offshoot. Therefore it is quite a win-win situation for both, the Europeans and as well as the Chinese. For Europeans the Chinese market has preference even though the Indian aviation market is as big on two counts. First within India , there is a tough competition between Russia , Europe , Israel and off late, the United States . Second, on one hand, the Chinese market is easy to enter as United States refuses to sell as it considers Beijing a strategic competitor and also a threat to Taiwan . Therefore, an easy to enter market that ultimately will extend to its close ally Pakistan , making it the largest in Asia . This deal will be similar in reverse order where technology transferred via latest proposed F-16 aircrafts to Pakistan by America will traverse covertly to China !

Earlier Russia was gradually arming China with transfer of modern and sensitive technology. However, the situation is constantly under review with Putin taking over as President. China maybe denied supplies of airborne radars with phased array, heavy supersonic anti-ship missiles, nuclear submarine building technologies and a host of other weapons. Moreover, military aircraft supplied to China from Russia are designed in such way that makes it impossible to equip them with European weapons and radars while upgrading them. Naturally Beijing is irritated by the fact that India , Malaysia and Thailand are not encountering such problems. Beijing is also dissatisfied that Chinese designers unlike the Indian ones are barred from working on joint projects with their Russian counterparts. Therefore, for Beijing it is vital that it leverages the only willing suppliers of modern technologies – the Europeans. Similarly for EU to correct the trade imbalances with China and to take advantage of the largest emerging market in Asia , it is imperative that they agree to supply most modern weapon technologies to China .

There is a persistent belief that electronic items and dual-purpose technologies will be a major trade off with China . It is reported that France , Italy and Germany have already firmed up supplies of electronic radar and electronic weapon control systems to China despite the ban. Beijing also aims at acquiring Rafale Fighters. Unless and until 5th generation fighters are inducted in large numbers in the USAF, Rafale with China could prove a serious adversary for the US , incase latter wants to assist Taiwan in conflict resolution with the mainland. In return, China will open up to European aviation technologies and assist the EU to win global tenders against Boeing. Beijing therefore is quite amenable to let EU Airbus capture 60 percent of the Chinese commercial aviation market – a position presently held by Boeing. Airbus has already secured last year 78 orders in this fastest growing commercial airliner market in the world.

Therefore, a status quo power like India needs to review its strategy and equip itself with a superior firepower rapidly. This is particularly true if New Delhi wants to talk as an equal with Beijing . A weak India and a strong authoritarian China with a history of territorial expansion as a basic characteristic will always remain a threat. Therefore even as we work out together an economic inter-connectivity in Asia , a militarily strong China will require a sufficient counter-balance in terms of military power for the economic relationship to fructify in a congenial atmosphere of stability.

This article first appeared in the Indian Defence Review Volume 20-1, Jan- Mar 05 and has been reproduced here with the permission of the editor. The author is the editor of the Indian Defence Review.

Are Major Weapons Sales Necessary for a Strong US-Pakistan Relationship?


A strong security relationship has historically been a feature of
America ’s ties with Pakistan . Pakistan first entered into a military-based partnership with the US in the 1950s. By 1955, Pakistan had joined two regional defense alliances with the US led anti-Communist coalition, the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO). Under the rubric of these alliances, the US transferred advanced weaponry, including Main Battle Tanks and fighter aircraft, as part of a package worth more than $700 million in military grants to Pakistan until 1965. The US suspended military assistance following differences over use of American arms in Pakistan ’s 1965 war with India [i]

Pakistan again entered into a wide-ranging military arrangement with the US following the Soviet Union ’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. In September 1981, the Reagan Administration agreed to a $3.2 billion, five-year economic and military aid package with Islamabad . This package again included major weapons systems like the F-16 fighter jets, armored vehicles and artillery systems. Another American package, worth $4 billion over six years was agreed with Pakistan in 1986. However, following the 1989 Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and the rapid advancement of Pakistan ’s nuclear weapons program, the US terminated all military and most economic aid to Pakistan in 1990 as part of a legal requirement under the Pressler Amendment. The US also stopped pending weapons deliveries, including a fulfillment of Pakistan’s 1989 order for 71 F-16 fighters, although Pakistan was reimbursed under an agreement in 1998 [ii]

Following the calamitous events of
September 11, 2001 , Pakistan once again entered into a US-led coalition, this time as part of the Global War on Terror (GWOT). While Pakistan , under the leadership of President Pervez Musharraf, agreed to allow the US access to its airspace and military bases as well as to cut off assistance to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan , the US returned the favor with generous economic and military assistance and debt relief support. In June 2003, the US announced a 5-year $3 billion aid package for Pakistan , equally split between economic and military assistance. Pakistan was also designated a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) of the United States in June 2004, enabling the latter to receive priority military assistance from the US , among other benefits. Reinforcing this trend, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (S.2845), signed into law by President George W. Bush in December 2004 includes verbiage promising to indefinitely continue assistance to Pakistan at current levels [iii]

Objectives of military support

The policy areas of
America ’s engagement of Pakistan include counter-terrorism, nuclear proliferation, regional stability, and the long-term viability of the Pakistani state. Apart from the obvious American interest in making sure that Pakistan does not follow a negative trajectory in the aforementioned areas, there is a very real incentive to American strategists in seeing Pakistan evolve into a moderate Islamic state. With its million-strong professional army, Pakistan could turn out to be a troop contributor in American-led “coalitions of the willing” against global threats. It is reasonable to infer that the US policymakers believe that a strong security partnership with Pakistan is essential to achieve the above objectives. 

In terms of regional stability, the U.S seeks to prevent or defuse military crises between
India and Pakistan while simultaneously stabilizing Afghanistan . American policymakers believe that a military partnership with Pakistan
is vital to achieve both regional goals because of the belief that Pakistani insecurity on either front has contributed to destabilizing acts by the Pakistani military establishment [iv]

Military Balance in
South Asia

Most analyses of military balances between rival nations or alliances tend to focus on the conventional arms comparison; personnel and systems such as armored vehicles, artillery, and strategic forces comparison. A detailed discussion of the India-Pakistan strategic force equation is out of the scope of this effort, but it is worthwhile to point out that most experts believe that there is a reasonable level of parity between
India and Pakistan in terms of nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them [v]

Recent India-Pakistan military comparisons in Western media and think tanks have highlighted what is perceived to be a steady tilting of the conventional arms balance favoring
India [vi]. However, there are a few problems with this conclusion. First, Pakistan has historically depended on foreign aid to supplement it defense spending. The U.S is now committed to giving Pakistan at least $300 million annually for an indefinite timeframe. The Congressional Research Service, quoting Pentagon documents, states that between January 2003 and September 2004, Pakistan received coalition military funding equivalent to about a third of Pakistan's total defense expenditures during that timeframe [vii]

Pakistan ’s economy has also begun to grow at an impressive rate, which when taken in consideration with the above factors, indicates that Pakistan is unlikely to be swamped by India ’s defense expenditures in the near to medium term [viii]. India ’s numerical military superiority against Pakistan has actually declined in the recent years from a ratio of 1:1.4 to a statistically insignificant 1:1.07 [ix]. Another factor to consider is that successive Indian governments have routinely left a large portion of budgetary defense allocation unspent, while Pakistan ’s actual military spending usually exceeds the outlay. Therefore, given current trends, India is unlikely to have the surpluses needed to afford a huge military dominance over Pakistan for many years, perhaps decades, in even the most optimistic view.

Technology Gap: Real or Imaginary?

Some Pakistani and Western analyses point to
India ’s growing technological edge in the weapons arena. Systems such as the Israeli Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and the Sukhoi-30MKI multi-role aircrafts are given as examples of India ’s growing technology advantage when compared to Pakistan

Once again, the analyses that highlight
India ’s perceived technological edge overlook some critical factors. Recent trends indicate that Pakistan is rapidly closing the airpower technology gap with India . The FC-1 fighter, which Pakistan is jointly developing with China , is close to production stage and will go far in terms of neutralizing the Indian threat. The fighter program gives Pakistan some assets that were unavailable to date including Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missiles, mid-air refueling and better radars. Pakistani experts believe that the FC-1 is an asset that is superior to anything on India ’s inventory except perhaps the Sukhoi-30 [xi]. The U.S also appears to have promised an upgrade package for the PAF F-16 fleet. In the next few years, PAF will be armed with upgraded F-16s and a large number of advanced FC-1 fighters – a situation few can argue as indicative of a major imbalance with respect to India [xii]

Meanwhile, the
Pakistan army and the Navy have actually made significant technology advances, largely through purchases from friendly countries and selective system upgrades. In the last few years, Pakistan ’s purchase of the Ukrainian T-80UD and the induction of the locally manufactured Al Khalid Main Battle tanks provided Pakistan a decided armor edge even though India partially countered the threat with its own acquisition of T-90 tanks from Russia

Pakistan army also created a strong centralized corps of reserves for its formations in the critical semi-desert and desert sectors in Southern Punjab and Sindh provinces and rapidly equipped them with assets needed for mechanized capability. These reserve formations are dual-capable, meaning they can be used for offensive as well as defensive purposes and some analyses say that they even give Pakistan an edge at the theater level. When one adds the fact that Pakistan has smaller lines of communication and can mobilize its formations in less than 96 hours as opposed to ten days for India
, the balance of power does not appear dire from the Pakistani perspective [xiii]

When speaking of naval power comparison, neither
India nor Pakistan has considered naval battles to have a decisive impact on the outcome in their previous three wars. While India does have ambitions to develop a blue water navy, Pakistan ’s naval goals are modest – to protect her maritime interests in peacetime and to keep the supply-critical sea-lanes open during times of war. In essence, Pakistan ’s navy is tasked to neutralize an Indian threat of a naval blockade of the port of Karachi [xiv]. The U.S recently announced approval of Pakistan Navy request to purchase 8 more P-3C Orion Maritime Reconnaissance aircrafts from America . With a large fleet of Pakistani P-3Cs armed with deadly Harpoon anti-ship missiles, which have no comparable competitors in the world, along with the advanced Agosta 90B French submarines, few can argue that the Pakistan Navy is not equipped to defend its sea lanes from any Indian blockade attempt.

In real terms, the Indian Air Force and Navy’s assets have declined in terms of both numbers and age, in the past decade. It is quite clear therefore, that when one looks at the overall picture of the Indo-Pakistani armed forces, the conventional force balance has clearly not tilted as far in India’s favor as many would like to portray and the current trends indicate that Pakistan would be able to keep up with India in the near to medium term.

What about Sub-state actors?

Recent studies have discovered that the most likely path of military escalation in
South Asia begins with unconventional or asymmetric warfare. Therefore any discussion of conventional weapons balance between India and Pakistan
would be meaningless without a concomitant debate on the unconventional forces equation between the two rivals.

Pakistan , especially under military rule, has a history of employing sub-state actors as military agents against its neighbors. In 1947, the first war between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region started with a Pakistan sponsored invasion by tribal militia. In 1965, Pakistan ’s military ruler Gen. Ayub Khan launched an operation codenamed “ Gibraltar ” using non-uniformed Pakistani Special Forces and militant volunteers to try to seize Kashmir from Indian control. Under General Yahya Khan’s authoritarian regime in 1971, the Pakistani military helped create bands of militant Islamists to suppress the pro-independence Bengali movement and fight Indian troops. Pakistan ’s 1999 incursion into the Kargil region of Indian-controlled Kashmir
utilized militant groups as well as regular soldiers and special force members in disguise.

Pakistan has also used non-state forces during times of peace. In the 1980s, the Gen. Zia-ul-Haq administration provided copious support to Sikh separatist militants in the Indian state of Punjab . Pakistan ’s premier spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) has also been linked to anti-state guerilla groups in India
’s North East from the 1950s to the present day.

While some may claim that
Pakistan ’s neighbors, including India and at times Afghanistan and Iran , have supported anti-government insurgents in Pakistan , it is hard for anyone to argue that such support is in any way comparable to the breadth and depth of Pakistan ’s utilization of jihadist groups. For instance, Pakistani journalist Muhammad Amir Rana, who has written extensively on Pakistani jihadist groups and their government links, states that at least 30,000 Pakistani fighters have been killed in Kashmir and Afghanistan in the last decade. He also estimates that there are around 200,000 active jihadist volunteers in Pakistan
today [xv]. Other experts put the number as high as 500,000 and growing [xvi]

Despite the official Pakistani claim that jihadist groups do not and have never enjoyed state support, a preponderance of evidence indicates that this position is untenable. Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad recently reported that Pakistan-based jihadist groups operating in
Kashmir are even part of the Pakistan army reporting structure in Pakistan-administered Kashmir [xvii]. Other reports detail the financial, training, intelligence, logistical and occasional artillery support provided by the Pakistani army in support of the militants infiltrating into Indian-controlled territory [xviii]. Senior Pakistani officials have boasted in the past that the Pakistani military has the jihadist groups by the “scruff of the neck [xix].” While one cannot rule out the fact some Kashmir-linked jihadist groups may be rogue actors, it is quite clear that most of these fighters could still be a part of the Pakistani military apparatus.

Based on the above arguments, one can see that the current “balance of terror” in
South Asia stands with India holding a small, if temporary, conventional arms edge, Pakistan maintaining a decided unconventional edge with a clear parity in strategic forces between the two belligerents.

Cold Start

Media reports indicate that the Indian military has come out with a new doctrine titled “Cold Start,” which essentially entails the use of all service arms to launch punitive strikes rather than looking to gain the opponents territory or threatening their national survival, with the aim of avoiding prevent nuclear escalation. At face value, this appears destabilizing but many Indian and more importantly Pakistani military experts see
India ’s conventional superiority today as not large enough for it to use such a doctrine with any meaningful results [xx]

Some Pakistani experts do caution that were
Pakistan to keep falling behind conventionally to India , the latter might reach a stage to effectively implement a Cold Start like doctrine at some point in the future. But as the above arguments and evidence show, Pakistan has recently taken big strides to catch up with India in terms of regular forces. For instance, Pakistan ’s impending acquisition of advanced FC-1 fighters, along with its rapid Chinese and American supported modernization of Air Defense systems would arguably render any airborne component of Indian attacks prohibitively expensive in terms of attrition to be meaningful.

It is difficult to argue therefore that threats of Cold Start like operations by
India justify any externally inspired enhancement of Pakistan
’s conventional forces.

The Role of

During the 2002 India-Pakistan border crisis, triggered by Kashmir-linked Pakistani jihadist groups, Western commentators pointed out that
India ’s refusal to even discuss Kashmir with Pakistan was untenable and it was unrealistic to expect Pakistan to abandon the use of sub-state forces in Kashmir without a quid-pro-quo from India . Perhaps acknowledging this argument, successive Indian governments have since made moves to put Kashmir on the negotiating table with Pakistan . However, it is clear that the Pakistani establishment has since then moved the goalposts to demand a large territorial concession from India as a pre-requisite to curtailing the Kashmir-linked jihadists

It would be relevant to note at this stage that there are two differing views on how to interpret the Pakistani establishment’s current position on the use of jihadists. One view, which some in the U.S government agree with, says that President Musharraf is moving decisively to negate the jihadist role in
but is hampered by the presence of hardliners within the military and intelligence services. The other view, supported by many Western and Pakistani analysts, posits that the Musharraf led Pakistani establishment still controls the jihadists to a large extent and has merely turned off the tap without dismantling the plumbing as part of a conscious effort to keep the jihadists under state employ [xxi

With the assumption that the U.S has an enduring interest in preventing war in South Asia, if the jihadists are wriggling out of control of their handlers in the Pakistani military, it behooves America to press the responsible elements in the Pakistani state apparatus to eliminate their out of control proxies before the latter stage a cataclysmic attack in India. On the other hand, if the jihadists are still largely under Pakistani military command, it would not be responsible for any external power to prop up
Pakistan ’s conventional forces without a concomitant, verifiable degradation of jihadist infrastructure and numbers.

Rationales for Weapons Sales

At this point, it would be beneficial to weigh the merits of the various rationales advanced in favor of the U.S propping up Pakistan’s conventional defenses beyond what most agree is necessary for prosecuting the war on terror.

Argument #1:
Pakistan ’s conventional forces are so degraded that any attempt by India to preempt Pakistan over Kashmir would force Pakistan to use nuclear weapons in self-defense.

As reviewed above,
Pakistan ’s army and navy are well equipped today to take on India moreover with Chinese help and American spares, Pakistan is well on its way to neutralizing the air force threat as well. In addition, the Indian political leadership has shown it is not willing to risk punitive steps that would result in nuclear war. In Kargil they kept the war on the Indian side of the Line of Control even in the face of heavy casualties. Likewise they showed restraint in 2002, despite intense pressure and criticism from influential hawks within and outside the government. Besides, from a realpolitik point of view, it can be argued that it is in the American interest that Pakistan should remain more dependent on American goodwill as opposed to American weapons for protection from a potential Indian attack.

Argument #2: Weapons sales represent the biggest point of leverage that the U.S has over
Pakistan .

American policymakers and legislators at various instances have echoed this point over the years. However, there is overwhelming evidence that indicates that Pakistani policymakers value the diplomatic prestige associated with being an American ally and the accompanying economic benefits as well as the institutional ties with the American military more than the transfer or denial of specific weapons systems [xxii]

Argument: #3: Enhancing
Pakistan ’s regular military power would encourage its leaders to stop encouraging jihadist militias.

This argument does not bear scrutiny both in terms of history as well as recent evidence.
Pakistan has used irregular forces, mostly religious radicals, throughout its history. It used them in 1965 when it was arguably at its military zenith vis-à-vis India as well as in the 1980s (Sikh insurgents) and 1990s ( Kashmir and the Taliban), when it was flush with billions of dollars worth of American weaponry. Pakistan ’s leaders themselves made it clear that their use of jihadists is tied to political goals such as wresting Kashmir from India as well as installing a pliant regime in Afghanistan [xxiii]

Argument #4: Bolstering conventional defenses would assuage
Pakistan ’s insecurity and discourage its leaders from undertaking military adventures, especially in Kashmir .

This asseveration is false. The principal driver of instability in
South Asia is Pakistan ’s willingness to challenge the territorial status quo with force, although repression driven refugee crises could be a secondary potential trigger. It is in U.S interests that Pakistan is deterred from challenging the status quo. A moderate, as opposed to overwhelming, Indian advantage over Pakistan is therefore not something that demands correction. When one takes the recent Kargil war as an example, there is evidence that Pakistan ’s strategists view Kargil as a military victory that was turned into defeat by an inept civilian leadership. Western experts point out that Pakistan ’s leaders are likely still convinced that they can undertake similar military maneuvers under their nuclear umbrella, especially when they feel that the U.S needs Pakistan for the war on terror [xxiv]. President Musharraf has also made statements refusing to rule out another Kargil should the Kashmir dispute remain unresolved in a manner acceptable to Pakistan , thereby negating this theory [xxv]

Argument #5: A conventionally strong
Pakistan would not need to focus on nuclear and missile systems. Therefore U.S weapons sales would discourage the Pakistani state from undertaking risky proliferation activities.

Since 1998,
Pakistan ’s leaders have constantly stated that Pakistan would do everything to sustain the credibility of their nuclear forces. Therefore, any external cooperation that Pakistan may undertake with other countries in the nuclear and missile technology arena is likely to be dependent on what Pakistan feels is necessary to sustain and burnish its nuclear deterrent, and not on what conventional weapons they get.

Argument #6: Conventional weapons sales would help
America strengthen the hands of “moderate” Pakistani leaders.

This theory has been historically proven wrong. American experts on Pakistan, such as Jack Gill of the National Defense University and Teresita Schaffer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, recently pointed out that past sales of big weapons systems to Pakistan actually strengthened the hands of those elements in the Pakistani state that favored military confrontation as means to resolve issues with neighbors [xxvi]. If anything, the nuclearization of
South Asia dictates that the U.S should err on the side of caution when it comes to moves that bear a risk of encouraging military adventurism in Pakistan .

Argument: #7: Big weapons systems are necessary to keep
Pakistan able and willing to take part in the war on terror.

There is expert consensus that the U.S should enhance
Pakistan ’s military abilities in the areas directly related to the war on terror. Reports indicate that the U.S is already taking such steps, which include providing counter-terror training, flak jackets, and helicopters to Pakistani forces. However, it would be a logical stretch to argue that weapons like F-16s, air-to-air missiles or AWACS aircrafts are needed to fight terrorist groups. As far as incentives go, Pakistan has already reaped enormous diplomatic and economic benefits from direct and indirect American assistance related to the war on terror. It is hard for anyone to make a persuasive argument that Pakistan needs more carrots than what it is already receiving.

Argument #8: “Defensive” weapons sales to
Pakistan do not affect regional arms balance.

This argument has been advanced to support sales of such systems as anti-tank missiles, reconnaissance aircrafts etc. to
Pakistan . In reality, there are no such things as “defensive” weapons. Every military that fights a war uses every type of weapon in its armory. In South Asia , Pakistan is the anti-status quo or revanchist power. Should its leaders decide to undertake a military operation in furtherance of what they see as Pakistan ’s interests, American supplied “defensive” weapons will likely end up being used for offensive activities as was done in 1965.

Argument #9: Sales of systems like the F-16 fighters could provide an incentive for
Pakistan to cooperate more on issues like unraveling the A.Q.Khan nuclear network.

Some non-proliferation supporters have advanced such a view. However, many other experts oppose this type of deal because they allude to the negative aspects of U.S-Pakistani ties and encourage
Pakistan ’s rulers to be intransigent when it comes to matters critical to American security. Pakistan ’s level of cooperation in the unraveling of the A.Q.Khan network will always be limited by what the Pakistani establishment considers as its redlines. Such as, the exposure of any Pakistani state involvement in the underground nuclear transactions. 

Argument #10: Subsidized American weapons sales could encourage
Pakistan to allocate more budgetary resources towards education and state building.

Experts on
Pakistan point out that over the past two decades successive Pakistani governments have allocated significantly decreased funding to education and social sectors. Pakistani analyst M.B. Naqvi notes that even with a growing economy, US enhancement of Pakistan’s military spending, and assistance with debt payments since late 2001, Pakistan still allocates 82 per cent of its budget towards debt servicing and national security [xxvii]. Pakistan also lacks internal checks and balances on military spending, priorities and risk taking. It seeks to change the status quo, and continues to be willing to use violence to that end. Hence, the historical record clearly demonstrates that major American weapons sales have led to major Pakistani attempts towards military adventurism and decreased rather than increased stability. 


Since 9/11,
Pakistan policy specialists have argued that America needs to stay engaged with Pakistan for the long-term. Those views were echoed in the independent 9/11-commission report’s recommendations towards Pakistan
[xxviii]. It is also hard to argue against the view that the nature of U.S-Pakistan relationship necessitates broad and deep security cooperation between the two partners.

To that end, the U.S has already moved to restart and strengthen ties with Pakistan in the areas of professional military exchanges, education and training, regular high-level contacts and bilateral dialogue, counter-terror and counter-narcotics cooperation while adding weight to the cooperation through sales of counter-terror specific equipment and transport aircrafts. The conferring of the MNNA status to
Pakistan lent an element of permanence to the alliance as well as guaranteeing the supply of military spares and excess inventory items. 

However, tensions between
Pakistan and India remain a serious American concern. According to South Asia expert Michael Krepon, the first of the ten “commandments” of nuclear risk reduction between rival powers is “Don’t change the territorial status quo in sensitive areas by use of force [xxix].” Clearly, Pakistan
has not reconciled itself to exercise restraint with regard to this crucial escalation trigger.

In this context, there is overwhelming evidence that sales of major military hardware to
Pakistan , especially under generous financial terms, over and above the current American assistance could likely produce results contrary to the intended purpose. Sales of systems like advanced versions of F-16 fighter jets armed with newer radars and missile technology could end up sending the wrong signals to hawkish elements within the Pakistani establishment, especially with respect to India and Kashmir

In review of the aforementioned information, one can reasonably conclude that major weapons sales represent a high risk - low reward option when it comes to American policy regarding
Pakistan and is inadvisable when dealing with a nuclear South Asia

References and Footnotes


Buying an Interim Fighter

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is in the market for an interim fighter that doesn’t break the budget. Interim fighter purchases are always tricky. If one is not careful, one is likely to end up with unsuitable aircraft, in limited quantities, that needlessly complicate logistics. The paradox of limited budgets and ever increasing responsibilities haunts the IAF. This piece considers the challenges before the IAF and discusses some procurement options.

What’s the problem?

Of great concern is the fact that the IAF’s fighter fleet is in danger of block obsolesce in the absence of quick procurement decisions. Of even greater concern are rapidly declining force levels. In the medium and long term, there will be LCAs and Su-30s to plug any deficiencies in the IAF’s force structure. The problem is that in the immediate future large numbers of aircraft are due for retirement. The Type 66, Type 77 and Type 96 MiG-21s are now well past their prime. Indeed these types were due to be withdrawn over a decade ago. The MiG-23s too are beginning to get long in the tooth. 

Over the next five years the IAF will have to replace about six to eight squadron equivalents of MiG-21s. There are no easy solutions, but this provides an opportunity for some creativity and more importantly it provides an opportunity for a comprehensive review of ones force structures and doctrine. In the last five years the combat strength of the IAF has declined from thirty-nine and a half squadrons to thirty-seven and a half squadrons without any appreciable decline in threats. If anything there are glaring holes in the air defense umbrella. 

For the preceding thirty years, the IAF’s qualitative and quantitative superiority provided the bedrock on which India ’s conventional posture rested. The IAF fielded enough fighters, of the right vintage, to properly defend both the eastern and western sectors. Over the last decade a proliferation of fourth generation fighter types in the east have rendered the resident Type-77 squadrons obsolete and the MiG-27’s specialized role is certainly a handicap. One isn’t suggesting that the Bangladesh or Myanmar Air Forces are necessarily hostile, but one must take cognizance of their enhanced capabilities. Nor is one suggesting that conflict with China is imminent. But the PLAAF’s changing profile is shifting the balance (if it hasn’t already). 

What solution?

Once the Type-96s and Type-77s retire there will be a huge gap in the IAF’s force structure. Any replacement should be capable of filling both the quantitative gap and bringing IAF capabilities at par with those of potential adversaries. Keeping in mind that the IAF force structure in the long term is likely to see a high-low mix of multi-role Su-30MKIs and LCAs, what the IAF needs in the interim is a fighter that can be bought in large numbers, is versatile and can be integrated into the service at minimal cost.

There are several ways in which one can address this, given budgetary constraints. One of course is to purchase second hand aircraft of a type already in service. The Pakistan Air Force has done this with some degree of success with respect to their Mirage III/5 fleet. The capital outlay for such purchases is relatively modest. However, there are issues of relatively higher life cycle costs and safety, as the PAF itself is finding out. Another option is to replace manned aircraft with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in some roles. This is certainly a more cost effective option in terms of both capital and life cycle costs. However, UAV and UCAV technologies are not mature enough yet to dispense completely with manned fighters - particularly where air defense duties are concerned. Over time it is indeed conceivable that the IAF will replace single-role (strike) fighters with UCAVs. The third option is to buy new build aircraft of a type that is already in service. The IAF has already exercised this option in purchasing additional Jaguars from HAL. However, the Jaguar despite its excellent abilities is a bomber and ill suited for other tasks. The IAF could also choose to purchase additional Su-30MKIs. Being a twin-engine fighter, with a complex thrust vectoring mechanism, it is likely to have higher operating costs and is to an extent still work in progress.

What aircraft?

The Ministry of Defence has invited bids from four vendors for 126 aircraft of an interim type. These include Bae/SAAB (Gripen), EADS (Eurofighter), Dassualt (Mirage 2000) and RSK-MiG (MiG-29). All these are contemporary aircraft and multi-role. Even though the Mirage and MiG airframes designs are a generation older, as far as systems are concerned the aircraft are roughly equivalent. From an Indian perspective the following are likely to constitute some important criteria for arriving at a final decision:
  1. Fly-away price
  2. Operating costs
  3. Logistical compatibility
  4. Offsets and transfer of technology

Let us consider these in more detail (in reverse order). In each case where these aircraft have been offered for sale the vendor was willing to consider offsets and transfers of technology, where requested. Most recently, MiG and Bae/SAAB offered to supply fighters to Thailand in return for the supply of chicken. Similarly, Austria considered joining the Eurofighter program in return for industrial offsets and technology transfers. In this respect all the bids might be considered equally competitive.

The Eurofighter and the Gripen are two completely new types and have no commonality with any other type of aircraft already in India service. Although one should note that the Gripen GE F-404 engine is similar to that used in the LCA. In terms of logistics, it is quite clear that both the MiG-29 and the Mirage 2000 can be rapidly integrated into the IAF. They will require minimal investment in maintenance infrastructure and retraining of personnel. 

While the cost of flying a single-engine Gripen is likely to be less than that of the twin-engine Eurofighter, it’s actual life cycle costs (especially in Indian conditions) are an unknown. Some information might be inferred from the Swedish Air Force’s experience about the Gripen. The IAF has operated MiG-29s and Mirage 2000s for almost 20 years now. Consequently, there is a sound basis for making a judgment about the operating costs for these types.

The final issue is that of flyway price. Based on cost of aircraft being sold to Germany and Greece (since cancelled), the flyaway cost of a Eurofighter is around Euro 70 million (Rs 400-450 crore each). The remaining three types of aircraft are available for between Rs 150-200 crore, depending degree of customization. Clearly, then, the Eurofighter is not competitive. 

We can draw the following conclusions from the above discussion. First, that the Eurofighter is the least competitive of all the types. Second, since the other three types fall in the same price category, any final selection is likely to (or should) be based on operating costs and ease of integration. Introducing the Gripen will require the creation of a support infrastructure that is likely to take funds away from other pressing needs. In purely objective terms, this leaves the MiG-29 and Mirage 2000 as the only credible choices.

MiG or Mirage?

The IAF has a clear preference for the Mirage 2000 for good reasons. The aircraft has been unparalleled in its reliability, cost-effectiveness, versatility and safety. However, the MiG-29 too could be competitive, the added costs of operating the twin-engine type fighters notwithstanding. First, the upgraded versions of the MiG-29 are less maintenance intensive, less fuel hungry and considerably more versatile than the models currently in IAF service. Second, since the Navy too is purchasing MiG-29s, buying a common type could potentially lower procurement, maintenance and operating costs across the services. 

But how do the two aircraft stack up against each other? In purely technical terms the Mirage 2000-5 offers some advantages over the Mig-29K (actually a navalized ‘M’ version being built for the Indian Navy). In particular, the Mirage and its systems are less maintenance intensive, implying greater up time and aircraft availability. First, the Mirage has much greater airframe life: 7500 hrs vs. 6000 hrs for the MiG-29K. Second, the RD-33K engine for the MiG-29K is advertised as offering 1,200 hr MTBO (mean time between overhauls). However, based on IAF and Luftwaffe experiences with earlier models of the engine found that most engines require overhaul after 300-700 hours. The Snecma M53 powering the Mirage is of modular construction. This eliminates the need for complete overhaul at specified periods. The twelve modules that make up the engine can be exchanged or replaced during regular engine inspections. Third, the while RD-33 derivative powering the MiG-29 has lower specific fuel consumption (0.77) than the M53 on the Mirage (0.9) in dry mode, two engines on the MiG-29 make it more expensive to fly. Fourth, the Mirage 2000-5 can carry 6,300kg of ordnance compared to 5,500 kg for the MiG-29K. The two aircraft have roughly equivalent performance with respect to range and endurance, but the Mirage is more efficient. Last, and by no means the least, the Mirage 2000 has had a better safety record in Indian service.

Just as in the 1980s, the IAF could choose to split the buy between the two types, but MiG’s financial troubles might yet prove a deterrent. There is of course the important issue of sticking to delivery schedules, but as with manufacturing any complex equipment, delays should be expected – more so since neither the MiG-29s nor Mirage 2000s have been built in quantity in recent times.

Ultimately it is for the IAF and Ministry of Defence to choose which aircraft to buy. There is often a tendency in any competitive bidding processes to over-emphasize the issue of unit cost. One hopes that in procuring an interim fighter, both the IAF and the Ministry will take a more holistic view. Interim solutions should be optimal in both financial and operational terms.

(Rupak Chattopadyay is associated with ORF, New Delhi )

Reprint from ORF Strategic Trends Volume II Issue 48 December 6, 2004

A Family at War: Myanmar ’s Power Struggle and Purge

Myanmar ’s Politics

Since 1989 Myanmar has been ruled by the military junta initially named SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) and then renamed in 1992 as the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council).  The isolation imposed by the regime and the outside world has resulted in a scarcity of information on the government.  The SPDC is hypothesized as a central committee that controls various administrative aspects of the country. (see figure1)  It consists of core officers that control the Department of Defense, civilian cabinet, and intelligence agencies.  Senior General Than Shwe is the Chairman of the SPDC and directly controls the Ministry of Defense.  Deputy Senior General Muang Aye is the Vice Chairman and Commander in Chief of the Military.  Lt. General Khin Nyunt was (prior to October 2004) the Prime Minister of Myanmar and oversaw the civilian affairs via the cabinet and intelligence affairs via the OCMI (Office of the Chief of Military Intelligence). The remainder of the SPDC cabinet contains the Tri-service command and chiefs of Bureau of Special Operations.

Lt. General Khin Nyunt despite his third most senior position was considered to be the most powerful man in the regime’s hierarchy.  The various positions allowed him to liaison with influential international personalities and control the powerful intelligence apparatus responsible for internal and external espionage.[i]  Lt. General Khin Nyunt’s rise to power paralleled the restructuring of Myanmar ’s intelligence services.  In 1983, the North Korean terrorist bombing attempted to assassinate the South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan.  The attack resulted in the dead of 21 people including members of the South Korean cabinet.  The attack proved to be a major embarrassment for the U Ne Win regime and it severed diplomatic ties with North Korea .[ii]  Subsequent investigation of the attack resulted in an intelligence revamp. 


Figure 1: Schematic of the SPDC

The National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) became the central intelligence body.  It was given control over Bureau of Special Investigation, Criminal Investigation Department, Special Investigation Department and Military Intelligence.  Some of these branches were previously located within the Home Ministry.  Additionally the newly formed DDSI was formed but its exact purpose is not known. Khin Nyunt was tasked as the Chief of Intelligence in the revamping by General Ne Win.[iii]  Khin Nyunt’s profile continued to ascend with the burgeoning intelligence apparatus.

Over the past two decades, Myanmar ’s intelligence services have expanded in size and power (see figure 2).  The Directorate of Defense Services Intelligence (DDSI), technically a part of the NIB, became the most powerful intelligence body. The DDSI provided agents to the NIB, which was delegated to reporting to the SPDC.  The DDSI initially had 14 subdivisions but by 2002 had grown to over 40 subdivisions. In 1992, the DDSI was tasked to report directly to the intelligence chief instead of the regional commanders setting up the military - intelligence divide.  The intelligence apparatus also spawned a think tank named Office of Strategic Studies (OSS).  The cadre of the OSS was drawn from the highest achieving DDSI members.  The OSS was subdivided into five divisions and provided an academic environment as well a sophisticated public image that served as link with regional organizations.  The large intelligence apparatus was reorganized in 2002 into the Office of Chief of Military Intelligence (OCMI) which became the main intelligence agency in Myanmar .  Lt. General Khin Nyunt headed the newly formed OCMI and the major subdivision NIB, DDSI, and the OSS .[iv] [v] 



Figure 2: The organization of the OCMI

Power struggle

Deputy Senior General Muang Aye and his arch rival Lt. General Khin Nyunt were known to be locked in a power struggle for several years.  According to many reports the two had very different personalities and work habits. Lt General Khin Nyunt is a product of the Officer Training School (OTS) and considered to be more cosmopolitan with workaholic tendencies. He is rumored to be a “moderate” in the SPDC regime.[vi] On the other hand, Deputy Senior General Muang Aye dubbed a “hardliner” graduated from the Defense Service Academy and rose thru the ranks of the army to the current position.[vii] The two were reported to be involved in a power struggle for the better part of the last decade.  Rumors of a power struggle first reached public attention in 1998 after an unsuccessful assassination of Lt General Tin Oo.  Tin Oo, then Secretary 2 within the SPDC, was a Muang Aye supporter. The assassination attempt was largely blamed on dissident groups operating out of Japan .  However, later reports suggested that it might have been a diversion and that the culprits were within Myanmar .[viii]  Rumors of a power struggle were further fueled in 2001 when Lt General Tin Oo and Major General Sit Muang (also a supporter of Muang Aye & groomed for a potential leadership position in the SPDC) were killed along with several other officers and servicemen in a helicopter crash.[ix]  After the death of Tin Oo, Lt General Win Myint, Secretary 3 and supporter of Lt General Khin Nyunt, took over the duties without official tasking.  He was also considered next in line for the job.[x]  The position was officially left vacant for two years and filled in 2003 by Lt General Soe Win who was later promoted to Secretary 1 in the wake of Khin Nyunt’s promotion as Prime Minister and replaced him as Prime Minister in October 2004.[xi]

General Ne Win thru his charisma led a cult of personality and is responsible for placing many the SPDC leaders in positions of power.  Senior General Than Shwe and Lt General Khin Nyunt were both picked to lead.[xii] Lt General Khin Nyunt was known to have very close ties to Ne Win and his family members. Shortly before his death, Ne Win’s influence declined significantly due to health reasons, corruption charges raised against his family and an alleged coup attempt.  The loss of Ne Win, affected the regime disproportionately and hurt Khin Nyunt within the junta.  After the discovery of the attempted coup plot by Ne Win’s family, Khin Nyunt was told to end his association with them.[xiii]  Lt General Khin Nyunt was speculated to be involved in the coup attempt and his public disappearance at the time of the revelations further stoked rumors.[xiv] 

The power struggle extended beyond Muang Aye and Khin Nyunt, it was a manifestation of institutional rivalry.  The much publicized power struggle between Prime Minister Khin Nyunt and Deputy Senior General Muang Aye is a representation of the friction between the armed forces and intelligence sections of Myanmar ’s security forces.  While the exact origin of the power struggle is not known, it is possible that the reorganization which removed the intelligence officers from scrutiny of the army  lead to friction between the more senior army officers and junior ranking intelligence officers.  Additionally, intelligence officers would carry out investigations of army units.  This further deepened the suspicion between the two factions.[xv]   In 2001, shortly after Lt General Tin Oo’s death reports surfaced about a downsizing of the Office of Strategic Studies, the “think tank” of the government and part of the intelligence apparatus.  It was reported that many of the OSS officers were reassigned to other positions.[xvi]   Another significant but largely over looked event was reshuffle of the cabinet prior to the removal of Khin Nyunt.  In September 2004, several cabinet ministers with ties to Khin Nyunt were retired.  The most notable was the retirement of Foreign Minister U Wing Aung and his assistant.  It was stated that Minister U Wing Aung, was a former intelligence officer with a long distinguished foreign service career and closely tied to Khin Nyunt.  The positions were filled with two individuals with little foreign policy experience.  U Nyan Win, Foreign Minister, was a commandant at Defense Staff College and the U Muang Myint, deputy Foreign Minister, hailed from the Light Infantry.[xvii] [xviii] In addition, other replacements after the removal of Khin Nyunt seem to indicate that the power struggle is between the military and intelligence branches of the government.  The position of Prime Minister, Secretary 1, Secretary 2 and the bulk of the regional commanders are now held by graduates of Defense Services Academy (DSA).[xix] Deputy Senior General Muang Aye is the member of the first graduating class of DSA.[xx]

The Removal of Khin Nyunt and the Purge

The precise events leading up to the retirement of Prime Minister Khin Nyunt are unclear.  However, by examining media reports and official reports the last days of Khin Nyunt in power can be pieced together.  In September 2004 revelations occurred about the corruption within the OCMI.  It was discovered that members of the Ministry of Immigration and Customs department within the OCMI at Muse outpost on the Chinese border was involved in the smuggling of gold, jade and money.  The Auditor General dispatched by SPDC confirmed the report and 186 members of the OCMI were arrested.[xxi]  At the time of the revelations, Prime Minister Khin Nyunt was in Singapore accompanied by his wife and four ministers (Foreign Affairs, Industry and Commerce, Finance and Revenue) and Deputy Foreign Affairs. [xxii] Upon return to Yangon , he was greeted by the members of the SPDC and the Foreign Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister are retired and the Minister of Commerce was reassigned.[xxiii]

The period between September 17, 2005 and October 19, 2005 was characterized by a reshuffling of the cabinet members. In the days prior to the October 19, 2005 , Prime Minister Khin Nyunt continued his frenetic pace of activity.  On October 17th and 18th, there were no reports of Khin Nyunt’s whereabouts and was presumed to be in Mandalay , the last known location.  On October 18th, the OCMI was raided by the army and the next day, the retirement of Khin Nyunt was officially announced by the government.[xxiv] [xxv]  Khin Nyunt’s family was detained, additionally Bagan Cybertech , Myanmar ’s largest internet service, was taken over by government troops.[xxvi]  While the international media and politicians focused on the retirement of Khin Nyunt and dim prospects of political reform, the government continued the purge and reshuffled the cabinet.[xxvii]  A significant number of ministers were replaced by regional commanders, some with close ties to Senior General Muang Aye.[xxviii]

List of Recently Transferred or Retired Ministers


Position Situation

U Win Aung

Foreign Minister


U Khin Maung Win

Deputy Foreign Minister


Maj Gen Hla Myint Swe

Transport Minister


Maj Gen Nyunt Tin

Agriculture & Irrigation Minister


Maj Gen Pyi Sone

Commerce Minister

Transferred to PM office

U Tin Win

Labor Minister

Transferred to PM office

Colonel Tin Hlaing

Home Minister


Brig-Gen Aung Thein

Deputy Minister Livestock & Fisheries


Nyi Hla Nge

Deputy Minister Science & Technology


Brig-Gen Khin Maung

Deputy Minister Agriculture & Irrigation


Brig-Gen Kyaw Win

Deputy Minister Industry


Abolishing the NIB

“The SPDC, which is striving to establish a modern, disciplined and democratic nation in line with the changing times, in the interest of the people, the security and the tranquility of the country, has found that the NIB [National Intelligence Bureau] law is no longer practicable.”[xxix]  

The removal of Khin Nyunt did not end the remodeling of Myanmar ’s bureaucracy.  The SPDC has since continued to remove those loyal to Khin Nyunt, deconstruct the influence of his intelligence organizations and remove those suspected of corruption. The Junta released many prisoners, the number ranging from a few thousand to nine thousand.[xxx]  Among those released were several notable political prisoners and others held illegally. Charges of corruption were filed against senior OCMI staffers, currently many have been found guilty and are awaiting sentencing.[xxxi] Khin Nyunt has not stood trial but government statements imply that he was held accountable for the corruption by his removal and businesses owned by his family have been closed or taken over.[xxxii]

In October 2004, Myanmar ’s junta arrested almost all of the various department heads in the OCMI and their deputies.  It is rumored that Brig General Aung Zaw, head of the Administration department was killed in detention. Two notable exceptions in the saga of detention and interrogation are Brig-Gen Kyaw Thein, head of ethnic nationalities and ceasefire groups, drugs suppression, head of and Naval and Air intelligence, the other is Maj-Gen Kyaw Win Deputy Chief of OCMI.[xxxiii]  Some OCMI staffers who had retired were also arrested along with influential family members while others have been transferred to infantry battalions or retired. Additionally, family members of influential intelligence officers in military school have been expelled.[xxxiv] 

Businesses owned by relatives of intelligence officers have been closed or confiscated by the government.  Notable among the list of businesses involved is Myanmar Times.[xxxv]  Since its inception the Myanmar Times bypassed the tight controls set by Ministry of Information for Myanmar ’s newspapers.  This point was boasted by the OCMI members, the newspaper was designed to set it apart from others and to put forth the specific views of the OCMI instead of the government.[xxxvi] Coincidentally, the CEO of this controversial newspaper is “Sonny” Myant Swe, son of Thein Swe, the now arrested former head of International Relations department of OCMI.[xxxvii]


Position Situation

Brig-Gen Kyaw Thein

Head of Ethnic Nationalities & Ceasefires, Drug Suppression


Maj-Gen Kyaw Win

Deputy Chief of OCMI


Brig Gen Thein Swe

Head of International Relations

Arrested despite retirement

Brig-Gen Hla Aung

Head of Training


Brig-Gen Kyaw Han Head of Science & Technology


Brig-Gen Than Htun Head of Politics & Counter Intelligence


Brig-Gen Myint Zaw Head of Border Security and Intelligence


Brig Gen Aung Zaw Head of Administration Department

? Killed in custody

Current Leadership

Since the removal of Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, the media has focused on the remainder of Myanmar ’s leadership.  Senior General Than Shwe has emerged in the spotlight along with the senior SPDC members.  Senior General Than Shwe is a 72 year old veteran of the psychological warfare division of the Tatmadaw in the Shan and Karen engagements and also stationed in Southwest Myanmar .  He rose to prominence reaching the rank of Chief of the Army during the Ne Win era and was later encouraged to form the SLORC government.  During the 1990’s he is known to have deeply influenced the current senior members of SPDC with secret cabinet meetings that determined future policy. It is believed that the current purge surrounding Khin Nyunt is the handiwork of Than Shwe rather than Deputy Senior General Muang Aye. Previously portrayed as an aging lackluster brooding dictator, the media portrays him as a savvy politician able to interact with Myanmar ’s neighbors and strong links to national tycoons. Additionally despite widely held speculation of slowly losing grip on power to younger generals, he has now significantly consolidated power after the removal of Khin Nyunt and the all pervasive intelligence organizations. [xxxviii] [xxxix]

Lt General Soe Win replaced Khin Nyunt as Prime Minister of Myanmar.  Prime Minister Soe Win has a background that is significantly different from Khin Nyunt, he is predominately a military commander with previous postings in Karen and Chin State .  He was then appointed to North West Command and first appointed to the SPDC in 2001 as Air Defense General.  He gradually rose thru the ranks taking over Lt General Tin Oo’s long vacant position as Secretary 2.  In 2003 he was promoted to Secretary 1 as Khin Nyunt was appointed Prime Minister.  He is reported to be a “hardliner” with his role in the 1988 crackdown against democracy protestors and alleged to be the involved in the Depyin attack on NLD (National League of Democracy) and the arrest of Aung Sang Suu Kyi.  He is reported to be a close associate of SPDC Chairman Than Shwe and a member of the USDA (Union Solidarity and Development Association) a civilian organization designed to support the military regime against the NLD.[xl]  

Lt General Thein Sein, Secretary 1 entered into SPDC in 2001 as replacement of then Secretary 3 Adjutant Gen Win Myint who was considered to be a Khin Nyunt supporter.  Currently, his duties allow participation in the National convention, reassuring restive minority groups about political reform and will honor negotiated ceasefires.[xli]  Lt General Thura Shwe Mann, Secretary 2 of the SPDC, regime is also a graduate of Defense Service Academy (DSA).  He has steadily advanced in the ranks of the Army and a veteran of the KNU insurgency.[xlii]  In 1997, he joined the SPDC as a regional commander and then promoted up to Triservice Command in 2001. He is the regime’s most vocal anti corruption member and has sounded off on corruption at the OCMI.[xliii]  Currently, the top five generals are soldiers with long history of insurgent engagements and are widely respected and trusted in the armed forces.  Almost all except Senior General Than Shwe are graduates of the DSA.  Overall, it seems to indicate that the top two generals in the junta have consolidated their power over the government.

International Reaction

“We will be having our own forum in the Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] to convey our views to the new leadership of Myanmar .”

                                                - Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

ASEAN reacted with predicted surprise to the removal of Prime Minsiter Khin Nyunt.  Khin Nyunt held multiple portfolios and this afforded him extensive travel abroad and interaction with foreign diplomats in Myanmar .  Therefore, he was the primary source of ASEAN interaction with the Myanmar ’s regime.  The reaction over his removal ranged from concern over Khin Nyunt’s health to anger over stalled reforms.  The ASEAN meeting continued the trend with sharp criticism over the SPDC’s decision to extend Ang San Suu Kyi’s house arrest by one year. The People’s Republic of China issued a tepid reaction to the removal of Khin Nyunt and wished Myanmar stability in its reforms ahead.  India ’s reaction to the removal was muted and relations continued unabated with Sen General Than Shwe’s state visit, the first in 24 years.[xliv] [xlv] [xlvi]  

Several days after the removal of Khin Nyunt, the New Light of Myanmar announced that Senior General Than Shwe would visit India .  The visit came at a surprising time given internal upheavals and start of a purge.  Numerous reasons were cited ranging from bolstering ties to astrologic significance.  Regardless of the reasons, Senior General Than Shwe visit was significant as it included an entourage of Lt General Thein Sein, SPDC Secretary 1, several junior SPDC members, and eight cabinet ministers including Industry, Communications, External Affairs, Railways, and Science and Technology.  It was the first visit by Myanmar ’s head of state since President Ne Win several decades ago.[xlvii] [xlviii] An agreement on non traditional security was signed to curtail money laundering, cybercrime, organized crime and terrorism.[xlix]  High level visits continued with Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy in November 2004 that involved ceremonial and retreat spots.  However, several days after the visit, Tatmadaw struck NSCN camps in its territory.[l]  Most recently, Minister of External Affairs K Natwar Singh visited Myanmar to further bolster bilateral ties and gave importance to upcoming Tamanthi Hydel project and the Kaladan River bimodal transport system.[li]

China continued to maintain high level of interaction despite the removal of Khin Nyunt and his known pro China proclivity.  In September 2004, Chinese leadership met with Brigadier General Htay Oo, chief of the USDA (Union Solidarity and Development Association). [lii] The USDA is considered the political organization of the SPDC formed as a reaction to the NLD.  The USDA and its chief are believed to be heavily patronized by Senior General Than Shwe.[liii]  Interestingly, several days after the landmark visit to India , the new Prime Minister Soe Win traveled to China as part of an ASEAN delegation.  His entourage included 55 delegates mostly involving economy and industry.[liv] [lv] Following quickly on Prime Minister Soe Win’s visit China sent Deputy Chief of Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, General Ge Zhenfeng to sign an agreement on border defense and discuss management of border defense.  Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wu Dawei arrived on December 2004 on an official trip that was speculated to engage new members of the SPDC.[lvi]      

Summary and Analysis

Former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt’s windfall started with the unfortunate terrorist bombing of the South Korean delegation.  In the ensuing purge he was tasked to head the amalgam of various intelligence organizations.  Over time he expanded the role of intelligence organizations and rose to further prominence in the Ne Win administration.  In the post 1988 chaos, Ne Win encouraged Senior General Than Shwe to incorporate Lt General Khin Nyunt into the leadership of the newly formed SLORC.  In the evolution of the SLORC into the SPDC, Khin Nyunt was able to further his role by rerouting intelligence inputs directly to his office.  The supremacy of the DDSI (over the ceremonial NIB) and creation of the OCMI along with the OSS think tank further increased his influence in the regime.  It resulted in speculation that he would be the next leader of Myanmar either by choice or by power struggle.  These rumors were given further impetus in 2003 when he became Prime Minister.  The exact motivation for this move is not known.  One suspects that it was either a reflection of Khin Nyunt’s rising international stature.  He was able to successfully build a cult of personality around him and many considered the intelligence chief a “moderate” based on numerous interactions with foreign dignitaries and regular meeting with Ang Sang Suu Kyi in which he represented the SPDC. Another more cynical reason for his promotion as Prime Minister is that the regime wanted to distance him from the intelligence organization thru which he wielded much of his power.   

The infamous power struggle touted by the media while between Deputy Senior General Muang Aye and Lt General Khin Nyunt was between the two factions of the government.  The earliest cause can be traced back to 1992 revamping in which intelligence officers reported directly to DDSI instead of higher ranking army commanders.  In this situation, the intelligence officers became insolent towards their superiors and were able to report on them.  It is possible the rivalry may have even been present in the Ne Win era after the restructuring of intelligence apparatus.  The expansion of the OCMI and the running of a nearly parallel institution including its own newspaper only fueled the rivalry.  Over time the rivalry waxed and waned.  The death of Tin Oo and Sit Muang, supporters of Deputy Senior General Muang Aye and the tasking of Win Myint, Khin Nyunt associate and then Secretary 3 to Tin Oo’s task cast a suspicious shadow.  The power struggle was also cast along ideological lines of moderates Vs hardliners.  It is simplistic bordering on erroneous to term a power struggle in these terms.   The intelligence faction is responsible for internal espionage and detention of suspected “subversives” much of which is directed against NLD and other pro democracy groups.  It would be sufficient to state the nearly all of Myanmar ’s generals would not want to share power or share only in very favorable terms.  Additionally, a consolidation of power in the hands of the army instead of the intelligence service does not mean that reforms are less likely or more likely to occur. 

The casus belli of recent events seems to be the discovery of corruption at the Muse checkpoint.  It is hardly surprising that the intelligence apparatus would not be involved in corruption given the depth of involvement in the government and ownership of numerous businesses.  Nonetheless, perhaps the discovery pointed to a deeper and more widespread occurrence that finally forced the regime to act decisively against the OCMI.  The events from September 17, 2004 to October 19, 2004 seem to indicate that there might have been attempts to reach a settlement.  Khin Nyunt arrived from Singapore with several ministers. U Win Aung and his deputy were immediately relieved of duty and several others who accompanied the former Prime Minister were either retired or relocated.  Over the next month, a series of transfers occurred and their replacements interestingly enough were “loyal” army commanders.  Allegedly a heated argument occurred between Khin Nyunt and Than Shwe over resignation from the OCMI.  Khin Nyunt refusal may have directly led to his dismissal.  Later it was noted by several prominent members in the government that the former Prime Minister had to be held accountable for actions within his department.

The government has gone beyond the removal of Khin Nyunt, it seeks to deconstruct the cult of personality built around him by removing many of his achievements.  The announcement of Khin Nyunt’s retirement for health reasons, resulted in criticism of the junta for contriving careless excuses that seemed unbelievable.  However, its actions with regards to the OCMI were precise if not lethal.  Army troops raided the OMCI headquarters and netted nearly all of the main department heads.  Many of them are in custody and some have been tried, some like Brig General Thein Swe were brought out of retirement and then held accountable.  It is interest to note that both the Deputy Director and Head of Ethnic affairs and ceasefire have been retired.  It seems that the government while interested in taking apart the OCMI is not willing to undo some of its contributions. In fact, the SPDC has taken numerous steps to comfort restive minorities.  Many of the ceasefires were engineered by Khin Nyunt and he headed the Constitutional convention consisting of prominent ethnic leaders during his removal.  The junta in a bid to calm fears of backtracking on previous agreements sent Prime Minster Soe Win and other SPDC members to discuss issues with various ethnic groups.  In the purge, the NIB formed at the time of the last purge was disbanded and the remnant of the much downsized OCMI is allowed to exist.  The local control of intelligence has now reverted back to regional commanders.    They have removed or transferred cabinet members who might have similar sympathies.

The diaspora's reactions over the removal of Khin Nyunt ranged from anger to happiness.  Many were angry at the loss of a reformer and feared a more hard-line tone against the Ang Sang Suu Kyi, NLD and even ethnic minorities.  Other opinions in the press expressed happiness at the removal of the intelligence chief and stated prematurely that this was the beginning of the end of the junta.  International reactions were more balanced.  India and China wished Myanmar stability and hoped that reforms and transition would continue at their pace.  ASEAN, a patchwork collection of Myanmar ’s neighbors, expressed a multitude of reactions.  Many of them echoed the above quote of Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.  The quote and the thoughts behind it are incorrect.  Myanmar does not have a new government, it has a new administration, the top two leadership positions have not changed hands.  Many in ASEAN issued strong statements against the removal, despite the infamous ASEAN way of “non interference”.  It seems ASEAN has bought into Khin Nyunt persona of a moderate - reformer in a hard-line regime.  ASEAN’s preference in Myanmar ’s longstanding power struggle remains exposed by its comments over the removal of Khin Nyunt.  Several countries likely had successful business dealing with either Khin Nyunt or his organizations.  A well known one is Bagan Cybertech’s dealing with Shinawatra Satellite Plc.  The recent ASEAN meeting demonstrated the group’s anger at Myanmar and its lack of democratic reforms.  Interestingly Thailand threatened to walk out if its internal issues were discussed and Malaysia and Indonesia hardly have stellar democratic credentials.  Yet, ASEAN leaders have threatened to kick out Myanmar over sins committed by other members. 

The initial report of the removal of Khin Nyunt speculated on possible changes in Myanmar ’s foreign policy given his pro-China leanings.  It is unlikely that foreign policy played a role in the removal.  Regardless of the top leadership’s view of China , Myanmar cannot simply walk away from 15 years of strong engagement spanning economic, military and political aspects.  The change, if any, in foreign policy will be in subtle degrees rather than a major mid course correction.  China however continues to engage the junta.  Economic issues of widening the Irrawaddy , border security and political issues continue to be discussed.  Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Wu Dawei was dispatched to Myanmar to evaluate the new administration. India continues to engage Myanmar ’s leadership, the landmark visit by Senior General Than Shwe after the removal of Khin Nyunt and signed a non traditional security agreement.  India has followed up the momentum of the state visit with military ties and discussion of mutual political issues and economic projects.  It can be hypothesized that ties between Myanmar and India will continue to improve and deepen.  Myanmar will continue to position itself in between both India and China for maximum benefit. 

The long awaited power play in Myanmar between Deputy Senior General Muang Aye and Lt General Khin Nyunt has been overtaken by recent events and turned on its head.  The original prediction was that as Senior General Than Shwe aged, he would lose grip on power resulting in a tensing of the relations between the two potential leaders.  However the events of October 2004, the struggle has been between Senior General Than Shwe’s reassertion of control over the government and the removal of Prime Minister Khin Nyunt and the intelligence faction challenge.  In short this was a power play between cousins in military and intelligence factions.  The army commanders and their loyalists seem to hold the major positions in the new administration.  The threat from the intelligence factions has been reduced by the recent purge. This, however, does not mean that the government will not be subject to further upheavals.  Transfer of power in military government is rarely if ever smooth and the future of Myanmar is uncertain both externally and internally.  Externally, it must deal with ASEAN’s threats and Western sanctions. Internally, Myanmar faces the task of co-opting ethnic minorities and dissident political groups into nation rather than a country.  Myanmar ’s purge is the start of a long road of reform involving intelligence services, interaction with other ethnicities, and the international arena.  

To our distant relatives and extended families, the ones who first teach us about power plays and politics
References and Footnotes

Pakistan : Reconciling with Ground Realities

Ever since independence, the Pakistani establishment has nurtured two articles of faith amongst its masses: First, Pakistan would wrest Kashmir from India via a military victory, if not through negotiations; Second, Pakistan was destined for great achievements and a greater role, both in the Indian subcontinent, and in the international community., In contrast, the Pakistanis believed firmly that India was destined to mediocrity at best, and balkanization at worst. Such Pakistani beliefs were motivated by concepts of racial superiority of the Pakistanis over the Indians, along with the notion that their God was on the side of the believer rather than of the infidel. This was fuelled further by the British policy of nurturing so-called ‘martial races’, a number of whom came from regions of West Pakistan . The disdain for the supposed ‘inferiority’ of the Bengalis within Pakistan can also be traced to this racist concept --- this disdain was also the root cause of the genocide of Bengalis in East Pakistani by the Pakistani Army, which in turn triggered the 1971 war with India. As a result, the prevailing conventional wisdom, in Pakistan and the rest of the world in the latter half of the twentieth century, was that Pakistan was destined for greatness, while India was doomed to failure and balkanization.

This notion of Pakistan as a potential great power survived through the ups and downs of Pakistan’s history --- even the spectacular loss to India in the 1971 war could not completely destroy this article of faith for Pakistanis. However, there has been a significant change in the recent past in the attitudes of Pakistanis, if the views espoused in the Pakistani English-language press is a credible indicator. There seems to be growing recognition in
Pakistan that, over the course of the last 57 years after independence, things have gone terribly wrong with their country and its polity. Pakistan has sold its sovereignty to outside powers, while the military establishment of Pakistan has repeatedly taken measures to ensure that democracy does not take root in Pakistan . Today, Pakistan is a dictatorship with massive and growing illiteracy, growing poverty, huge unemployment, and a proliferation of armed groups responsible for rampant violent sectarianism in Pakistani society. The country has been made a haven for terrorists of every hue and color, and is recognized as such by the rest of the world. 

Why are more and more Pakistani columnists ‘throwing in the towel’, so to speak? One of the tools used by the Pakistani establishment in the past has been the tight control it has kept over the media. This had allowed even stark defeats to be painted as victories --- in the absence of any other source of information, such officially sanctioned misinformation was believed widely and internalized by the Pakistani polity. But with the explosive growth of the Internet in the past decade, and the associated proliferation of internet media sources, the Pakistani Army is unable to wield control on Pakistani media any longer. As a result of this fundamental change in the nature of information flow into and out of
Pakistan , Pakistani officialdom has been unable to use state-run media channels to suppress the truth about Pakistani society and culture. As a result, an increasing number of Pakistani columnists, expatriates, and journalists are able to disseminate information about the ground realities within Pakistan , even under the threat of retaliation by the Pakistani Army, which has not relinquished its desire to control Pakistani media.

In the last few months, there has been a spate of articles, columns and letters to the editors in Pakistani online English publications that essentially throw in the towel on Pakistan’s future – the authors of these articles seem to recognize two stark realities with respect to India and Kashmir: First, Pakistan is simply not capable of wresting Kashmir from India with force, or in other words, 'there is no military solution to Kashmir'. A corollary of this truth is also realized by a minority of Pakistanis that what could not be won militarily from
India , can never be won over the negotiating table, thereby facing the bitter truth that Pakistan cannot acquire Kashmir via peace talks with India . Second, India is inexorably and unstoppably pulling ahead, and is more focused on economically competing with China than Pakistan , while Pakistan is stuck in the morass of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, political instability, fundamentalism, sectarian divide, and is actually regressing on all fronts. In other words, 'the grass is truly and visibly greener on the other side of the border' for some Pakistani commentators today. These realizations among such Pakistanis, and the reasons behind such a change in mindset, are analyzed in detail below.

'There is no military solution to Kashmir’:
Pakistan has fought four wars with India of which three wars were for Kashmir (1948, 1965, and 1999 in Kargil). In 1948, Pakistan ’s marauding tribal hordes and its army occupied a part of Indian Jammu and Kashmir state but it fell far short of its ultimate objective of wresting the entire J & K from India . In the 1965 war, Pakistan could not achieve its objective of wresting Kashmir , and in fact, it had to concentrate on saving major cities like Lahore and Sialkot from falling into Indian hands. During the 1971 war, the Pakistani army was comprehensively defeated and ended up with 90,000 of its soldiers as Indian Prisoners of War. Pakistan also lost half its territory when Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan ) declared independence. In 1999, the Pakistani Army indulged in a miltary misadventure in Kargil under the leadership of Army Chief Pervez Musharraf, and in response, the Indian armed forces dealt a decisive blow to the Pakistani military, which pushed Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to request the Clinton Administration to provide the Pakistanis with an ‘honorable exit’ in spite of huge pakistani losses (former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif has estimated at least 3000 Pakistani soldiers lost in Kargil). Thus, in spite of four military adventures, Pakistan has not been able to wrest any Indian Territory but has lost a significant portion of Pakistani territory instead. In every successive war, Pakistan ’s position became weaker than in the previous one. The wars proved that India enjoyed a conventional superiority and Pakistan ’s nuclear assets were of no use in a conventional conflict. Thus, the Pakistanis seem to have have realized that their country is not in a position to inflict a military solution to its Kashmir dream. In the words of Nazir Naji, a reputed Pakistani columnist [i]

“We went to war in 1965 to resolve the Kashmir issue. We followed it up with an agreement in Tashkent not to fight again. We lost a war in 1971 and agreed to resolve the Kashmir dispute bilaterally. Then we opened the Kargil front and had to sign the Washington declaration subscribing to the sanctity of the Line of Control. After supporting armed struggle for independence for fifteen years we agreed also to disallow ‘cross-border terrorism’ and facilitated India in fencing the LOC.”

Also, it has finally dawned on Pakistanis that no other country, China or America , is going to help them achieve their geopolitical dreams. The world is simply not interested or strong enough to force India to do anything against the wishes of India 's billion people. Also, there is a realization that India is fast approaching a stage where the so-called conventional parity between the two will be a distant footnote in history. In a matter of a decade India 's defense budget could surpass the entire GDP of Pakistan. There is recognition that the world is not in the mood to tolerate any adventurism by Pakistan , and hence there is virtually no chance of altering the status-quo.

In the post 9/11 world,
Pakistan ’s strategy of bleeding India through a thousand cuts has become untenable. Pakistan supported the terror campaign in Punjab in the 1980s by supplying arms, finances and training to terrorists. Since 1989, Pakistan ’s ISI (“Inter Services Intelligence”, Pakistan ’s main intelligence agency) indulged in a Jihad in Jammu and Kashmir using its foreign mujahideen and madrassa-trained fighters to launch and sustain a terror campaign in the state. Thousands of innocent Indian lives were lost to the bullets and bombs of ISI-controlled terrorists. But simultaneously Pakistani society became poisoned with the Jihad culture and its concomitant problems such as sectarian killings, drug culture, high degree of lawlessness and worst of all, a highly negative image of Pakistan in the eyes of the whole world. After 9/11 and following the spectacular successes of Indian forces against these fighters, Pakistan had to shut off its valve of terror in J & K. This option is not open to Pakistani strategic planners anymore.

In summary, Pakistanis have realized that they have no cards left to play and
Kashmir is as far away from their clutches as it ever was. Meanwhile, the polity of Pakistan has been viciously hijacked by its military that has grown rich while keeping the ‘awam’ (Urdu word for masses) in wretched poverty. Consequently, in spite of precious little progress on the supposed ‘core issue’ of Kashmir in the talks between India and Pakistan , there is not much bellicosity to be found in Pakistani media. To the contrary, for the first time in the Pakistani press, commentators such as M B Naqvi seem to be ready to accept the status quo [ii],

“The net outcome of the talks so far is that no Kashmir solution is available that replaces India 's sovereignty over the Kashmir territories with something better. Pakistan cannot go out and conquer Kashmir ; that makes war out of the question... (The second Option) is to change the nature of Indo-Pakistan relationship after making a settlement on Kashmir on terms that are acceptable to India . MQM Chief Altaf Hussain's proposal to accept the LOC as the border may be painful if stated baldly. But it is realistic and is based on the only basis that will be acceptable to India ”.

Again in the words of MB Naqvi [iii]

“ Pakistan cannot wrest Kashmir from India . It has no option but to live with the territorial status quo, however painful.”

Thus, a host of factors have prompted a slew of columns/articles that question the wisdom of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy and even gently nudge the pakistani establishment to accept the status quo. 

The grass is really greener on the other side of the border: This realization is a culmination of several factors (economic and political) spread over several years. Each factor essentially contrasts the stellar performance of
India vis-à-vis Pakistan 's abject failures. 

Indian Elections - A triumph of democracy: In 2004,
India , the largest democracy in the world, conducted its completely transparent, free and fair general elections. The ruling coalition – the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) - failed to secure a majority and a Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition came to power. The outgoing Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee gracefully handed over the reigns of power, and the ruling UPA coalition named Dr Manmohan Singh, an economist of worldwide repute as the new Prime Minister. Pakistanis could only marvel at such an orderly and rancor-less transition of power and could not help but contrast it against the sometimes bloody and always illegal transitions of power that have characterized Pakistani politics. The fact that there has not been even a single lawful transfer of power in Pakistan since independence could not have escaped the Pakistani commentators. Ms Sherry Rehman, a senator in Pakistani senate commented , [iv] 
"In the history of Pakistan's chequered experience with democracy, only the epochal 1970 election has been held as free and fair. In India , however, the democratic process has taken a different trajectory, which has allowed its institutions to slowly develop their independence and credibility by strengthening each other. In this entire process of evolution over 57 years, Indian democracy has relied on its courts, its election commission and its military to play by the rules as established by its constitution." The UN requested the Election Commission of India to help UN conduct elections in Iraq and Afghanistan . Mr. Farrukh Saleem, a reputed Pakistani columnist and a PPP politician stated, [v] 

“The UN's request is a great tribute to India 's democracy ...Why the Election Commission of India and not the Election Commission of Pakistan ? The answer ... definitely lies less in mere statistics and more in the "genuineness" of elections". 

Indian economy and IT juggernaut: India 's phenomenal progress in the world of information technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has captured the attention of the whole world. Pakistanis have only a sense of wonder and loss at the inability of Pakistan to match India in this respect. Again Farrukh Saleem states, [vi] 

"Pepsi, Ford, IBM, Citibank, Kodak, Coca Cola, Microsoft, Motorola, ..., Ernst & Young and Price Waterhouse with offices in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai are hiring Indians by the thousands. US corporate giants are now dependent on Tata Consultancy, Infosys Technologies, Wipro, Satyam Computer Services, HCL Technologies, Patni Computer Systems, Silverline Technologies, Mahindra, Pentasoft, Mascot, Mascom, Mastek, Polaris, L&T and Hexaware (all Indian software giants). All we are left with is our bomb. Hope is the key. Bomb isn't."

Overall progress: India has not only made great strides in the sphere of economics but on other fronts too. The law and order situation is conspicuously better, Indian local Governments in cities like Delhi have successfully tackled environmental issues, India has emerged as one of the top 5 tourist destinations, etc. Following the normalization of relations and a cricket series between India and Pakistan , a large number of Pakistanis have visited India and have returned with a sense of wonder and admiration. Kamran Shafi, a famous Pakistani columnist and ex-politician notes, [vii]  “You should see today's Delhi! It is a thriving city, hotels full to brimming with foreigners -- tourists, investors, importers, journalists; its shops have undergone a sea change in the three years that I was there last, now looking (and feeling) like shops in any of the great capitals of the world…. India may not be 'shining' but it is certainly rising with every passing day. And where are we? Wallowing in self-pity; angry with the world; twisted in mind and spirit, looking for scapegoats for our own national failings. We've got to pull our fingers out if we are to get anywhere at all, and fast. We've missed the past few boats, could we please catch the next one that might happen along?” Indian clout in American corridors of power: The Indian Diaspora’s phenomenal success in business and the professions overseas and in particular in America , and its consequent clout in the American corridors of power has also left Pakistanis with a sense of helpless rage. The Indian caucus on Washington ’s Capitol Hill has a very large number of members; several influential Senators and Congressmen are part of this caucus and the membership is growing. Dr Farrukh Saleem noted in a 2002 article, [viii] 

“The India Caucus now has a total of 111 representatives/ Congressmen as its members. That’s 25 per cent of the entire strength of the House of Representatives. Prominent among them include Gerry Ackerman, Ben Gilman, Richard Gephardt, Frank Pallone, Tom Lantos and Jim McDemott. Furthermore, out of the four-dozen Congressmen who sit on the House’s International Relations Committee some two-dozen are also members of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans. Prominent among them include Berkley , Blumenauer, Brown, Chabot, Crowley , Davis , Engel, Hoeffel and Lee. India, as a consequence, has a lot of voices as well as a whole lot of votes going for her. … The Pak American Congress did manage to recruit Senators Tim Johnson and Robert Torricelli. Representatives David Bonior and Joseph Pitt did launch the Kashmir Caucus but the Caucus is yet to find direction. … In Washington, we are no match for the Indians. “ 

But perhaps more significant than all these individual reasons is the sense of direction and confidence that many prominent Pakistanis have observed in India and its polity, which is conspicuously absent in Pakistan . In the words of Pakistan ’s greatest cricket legend Imran Khan, [ix] 

“As a cricketer I toured India several times between 1977 to 1989 and I felt that it was a country going nowhere, with its highly centralized and over-bureaucratised inefficient governance system. I had never seen such poverty anywhere in the world. The infrastructure was decaying and Delhi and Calcutta were so polluted that playing cricket there was not a pleasant experience. Compared to India , Pakistan looked a developed country. Our economic growth rate and per capita income had been higher for the previous four decades. Though Pakistanis were crazy about Indian films, our television was far superior, and we would thrash them regularly at hockey, squash and cricket despite being seven times smaller… In the last year my two visits to India have come as a bit of a shock. India has overtaken Pakistan in per capita income while its economy is growing robustly at eight per cent. Delhi is being cleaned up, while Bombay is one of the most expensive real estates in the world. Poverty is decreasing. But above all and what is most striking is the growing self-belief of Indians… (the) Indians see themselves as a future superpower, as, indeed, does the world. They view their future with optimism and hope…. In stark contrast, since the '90s Pakistan has been going around in circles and heading nowhere. Our institutions and our democracy are sadly in an advanced state of decay.”

Similar to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's five stages of dealing with death/grief, Pakistanis seem to be going through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance of these two truths about Kashmir and India . It won’t be long before a large section of Pakistani society, especially its business class and intelligentsia start questioning the very rationale behind the two-nation theory, like the Mohajir leader, Altaf Hussain, recently did. Such ideas that challenge the very basis of Pakistani society and its Islamic identity can have unpredictable consequences. It would be naive to think that such attitudes espoused by a few could change the Pakistani national psyche dramatically, since the indoctrination of the past few decades cannot be negated easily without sustained, long-term public support from Pakistanis and Pakistani leadership. . Nonetheless, it would be wrong to summarily dismiss these changed perceptions of many prominent Pakistanis as just flashes in the pan.

Admittedly, such progressive views in
Pakistan only comprise a minority of the views espoused in the Pakistani English media, even as we have ignored the prolific vernacular press in this analysis – the Pakistani Urdu press boasts significantly higher readership than the English press. Pakistan’s overall low literacy rates indicates that even the readership of the Urdu Press in Pakistan constitutes a very small percentage of the Pakistani population, indicating that much of the Pakistani public receives all of its news by word of mouth or other means not involving reading. Thus, progressive Pakistani views detailed earlier in this article may not be representative of the vast unlettered masses at present. But this stream of thought, a trickle as it may be at the moment, is worth watching, since such points of view, if they gain popular acceptance, will have profound consequences for India, Pakistan, and the entire region.

References and Footnotes [i] (DailyTimes 1-10-2005)
[ii] (The News, Jang, 12-01-2004)
[iii] (The News, Jang, 1-05-2005)
[iv] (Dawn, 9-17-2004)
[v] (The News, Jang, 9-12-2004)
[vi] (The News, Jang, 9-07-2003)
[vii] (The News, Jang, 12-17-2004)
[viii] (Mid-day 8-10-2002)
[ix],00430005.htm (Hindustan Times, 12-2-2004)

The Indus Water Treaty

The Indus Water Treaty

Subrahmanyam Sridhar

Recent stresses and strains in the observance of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) have had many analysts including this author believe that water sharing will take a politically charged dynamic and may even replace Kashmir as the primary source of conflict between India and Pakistan. Therefore it is important to have comprehensive understanding of the overall issues of the Indus system of rivers and the IWT as this article attempts to provide. It is formatted introduce the Indus river system, a brief overview of the principles of water sharing, the historical background leading up to the water crisis between India and Pakistan and the mediation by the World Bank, various provisions of the IWT, current disputes in water projects on the Indus River System bilaterally between India and Pakistan, and a look into the state of affairs of the Indus River System within Pakistan today. (more)