Source: The Hitavada      Date: 10 Oct 2018 12:04:51

TRULY good signs are available on India’s national security and defence-preparedness fronts. Defying the direct and indirect threats from the United States of America (US), India has gone ahead with defence pacts worth billions of dollars to acquire ultra-modern weapons systems, including the deadly and futuristic S-400 Triumf multi-faceted Russian missiles. It has also neared the finalisation of the Rafale deal. Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa has described both these acquisitions as true boosters to national defence. There is every reason to feel good about these developments as indicators of a changed perception of the Government on critical issues of national security. 

Let us hope that this perception becomes the foundation of a rapid-action defence acquisition policy which is the most critical necessity for India at this juncture. However, this hope has an unfortunate dimension of disgust as well, given the slackness the Government has shown over the years about its willingness to spend appropriate sums of money on matters of defence-preparedness. Even though Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has shown a clear inclination to hiking defence-preparedness and the accompanying hike in spending, the actual growth in that arena has remained rather far below the desirable level. In fact, the most urgent need of the hour is to bring into effect a steep and immediate hike in defence budget with a very large component of defence acquisitions. That alone can make a lot of positive difference.

Economic managers might have some objection to any such thought. But such objections should carry little weight, given the overall geopolitical condition available in the world in general and Asia in particular. It is necessary to start shedding all old ideas and get aggressive on matters related to national security. For, on factual points, India’s defence-preparedness will have to be brought out of propagandism and pushed into a stark realism. It is all right to say that our Armed Forces are the best, but factually speaking, their being best also depends hugely on how well-armed they are in modern terms.

Let us understand the limitations we have imposed on ourselves. That the Indian Navy, described so proudly by us as the prima donna of the Indian Ocean, has only one aircraft carrier, can never be a matter of actual pride. That the total number of combat vessels in the Indian Navy is terribly small in comparison to our immediate neighbours like China, too, is not a matter of satisfaction. That the total number of combat aircraft with the Indian Air Force is actually very small, too, should be a matter of true concern for us. That our standing Army is one of the top five large armies in the world may help us feel good for a while, but factually it should also alarm us that our weapons do not match the world levels in a big measure.

There is little doubt that the Government would like to deny all these flatly. But those who know things also know that such denials carry little weight in actuality. The ugly fact of the matter is that the Indian defence-preparedness will have to be elevated to world level, no matter if it takes a lot of money. We have enough money to indulge in corruption, but we have paucity of funds for highest levels of defence-preparedness is a paradox for which our future generations would never pardon us.
The challenges of national defence are much bigger than our common people actually know. Let there be certain secrecy, as it is essential in national interest. Yet, the rulers of the country cannot ignore the reality that our defence-preparedness has much to be desired. It is time our Government stepped up the national spending on defence manifold on an immediate basis. That will serve our nation better than anything else.