Indian Armed Forces are nearly 75% Russian equipped and supplied. We
are of the view that this equation should not be suddenly disturbed.
In this context President Putin’s recent visit to Delhi deserves
careful analysis, especially since he tactfully conveyed as much
during the visit.
USA, France and Israel are making their pitch with Radars, Sonars.
Helicopters, L 159 AJTs and Mirages and other supplies, India is
doing some hard bargaining with Russia. If the media is to be
believed then the Russians are packaging their deals for the Admiral
Gorshkov and Nuclear Submarine with other military hardware as well,
such as the MiG AT (AJT) etc..
military hardware has come relatively cheap compared to the Western
prices we have paid for our recent purchases from Israel, France and
now from USA (advance paid for the Raytheon WLRs). Admittedly the
systems from Russia were more rugged but have done us well, both in
peace and war. Now with examples of cooperation in the Naval ships
–– bristling with Russian equipment –– and the SU 30 MKI
project which involves the Indian Air Force and DRDO –– both
countries have shown how that aircraft may be on par with the latest
F-18 and the Eurofighter.
are unsung stories that must be sung loudly and such collaborations
taken forward, so that India’s own Ordnance factories, industries
and PSUs gain and contribute. More than that India and Russia are
strategic partners, and we need not bully each other but get along
on a higher plane, despite pressures from USA to forge strategic
partnerships, which can also be looked at.
fact Stephen Hedley USA’s Deputy NSA was here to convey such ideas
and met with Ambassador Satish Chandra India’s de facto Dy NSA. As
we report this Brajesh Misra India’s NSA and PPS to PMO is in
Washington meeting with NSA Condalezza Rice. Ambassador Wisner was
here too, as he is very close to the Administration and US Industry
in USA. He has many Indian friends.
soft spoken Russian speaking Ambassador to Moscow, Krishnan
Raghunath, who was also India’s Foreign Secretary had recently
stated that “It is clear India–Russia relations have a great
deal of substance and are developing dynamically. They are time
tested and contribute to peace and stability. It is recognized by
both our countries that along with the political and strategic
dimension, effective cooperation in the economic, technical and
S&T fields is at the heart of the relationship. This not only
helps the two national economies but the prosperity of our
are aware that India’s strategy is never clearly charted and
Ambassador Raghunath failed to comment on our military relationship
so we go ahead to explain why India should ‘waltz with Russia and
tango with USA’, the largest economy in the world.
BJP Government has done well by any standards to keep India on the
right lines, economically and militarily (by going nuclear),
especially after 9/11 within the difficult and almost impossible
circumstances of the coalition of 24 parties and keeping them
together. This and Pakistan’s close relationship with USA and
terrorism in Kashmir has sapped BJP energies. Now Gujarat is on the
radar. Many Ministers like Dy PM L K Advani, Arun Shourie, Jaswant
Singh both Rajya Sabha members and Prabhu performed well and have
earned respect, but a number of them have been time passed and even
obstructed. Regrettably, Defence Minister George Fernandes has
India’s good at heart and the Jawans love him, but he has not been
coherent in executing what he promised. Many large defence deals are
stillborn like the AJT, Gorshkov, 155 mm Guns and the CDS issue
remains in limbo. The Tehelka matter gave the MOD a bad name and he
boldly resigned but PM Vajpayee took him back when people around him
are still under a cloud.
2002 ends, India’s predicament to chart its future strategy is on
cross roads as both Russia and USA are wooing India and hope their
engagements move to closer ties and trade, to eradicate our poverty.
The waltz is an easy dance. It is known as the ‘one two three
step’ dance and you can even do it with your partner along the
Danube or in the fields. The Tango is more complicated and needs a
smoother floor, but not too difficult once you get the hang of the
pauses and starts. Our relations with USA have had a number of
pauses, sanctions and starts and yet the tango is the more graceful
and sexy. Hence, metaphorically India can easily continue to Waltz
with Russia with more grace and less strong negotiations. Putin came
a visiting recently to explain that India can Waltz with Russia, buy
and help sell its military hardware, invest the owing of India in
Joint Ventures in Russia and join hands to fight terrorism, the
scourge facing both countries, mainly from Pakistan and its Muslim
the same time without giving up its national interest India can
easily learn to Tango with USA, the world’s largest economy and to
raise its own half full economic cup with a momentum that only a
Tango type of dance can offer. America is looking for a drive to
invest its billions, now that China’s cup is getting full and
since our tourism Minister has failed to make India a destination,
our Finance and Economic Ministers can do so easily. The American
dance floor is calling. ‘Strategea’ was a word coined by the
Greeks to understand how to shape the future and India has to shape
its strategy. Indian leaders will know how to do it, especially if
they read the Arthshastra (Economy) or read Morgentheau the writer
that Condelezza Rice appreciates.