The Strategic Culture of India

Category: Asia, World Affairs Topics: Foreign Policy, India, Pakistan Views: 3391

Indian Army chief visited military bases, camps and posts during his weeklong visit to the United States in April 2002

India's military relationship with the U.S. continues to grow. Washington has concluded that U.S. relations with traditional allies such as South Korea and Japan have become fragile, and it is time to develop closer strategic ties with India. In May 2002, Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense Policy, hosted a meeting of the U.S.-India Defense Policy Group to map out joint defense strategies. These included planning joint naval patrols of the strategic Malacca Strait, workshops on missile defense, and cooperation in defense technology.

Relations between the two countries have blossomed with the recent Malabar IV exercises, which involved coordinated maneuvers between the two navies. According to Martin Walker of United Press International, "the United States and India are already virtual allies, and share a strong military relationship with Israel." The Bush administration has approved the sale of three Israeli Phalcon AWACS to India and is likely to approve the sale of the Arrow-2 anti-missile system, jointly developed by Israel and the U.S. These weapon systems could shift the balance of power in Asia, and make India invulnerable to missile attacks.

Reflecting this deepening of ties between Washington and New Delhi, a U.S.-India Institute for Strategic Policy has been launched with a major but unspoken objective: containing China. The Institute, affiliated with the ultra conservative Center for Security Policy, is also intended to limit the growth in U.S.-Pakistani ties.

After India dismembered Pakistan in 1971, it began to see itself as the preeminent and pivotal power in South Asia. The Indira Doctrine, enunciated at the beginning of the Sri Lankan civil war in 1983, stated that India was entitled to be the security manager of the entire subcontinent. The BJP embraced this vision wholeheartedly. India is now determined to become a "great power," since it is home to one-sixth of humanity and heir to a great civilization. A major factor that is adduced in favor of this claim is India's dynamic economy, which comprises a diverse technological base that produces world-class software as well as nuclear weapons and rockets capable of launching satellites into space. To further its claims to being a great power, India is anxious to acquire a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. India's smaller neighbors, who were not consulted in the development of this Indo-centric vision, are concerned about being reduced to satellite states of India.

India's security policy is built around four threat perceptions. First is the challenge to national unity, which comes from separatist movements that are active on its northeastern and northwestern frontiers. Continuing rebellions in the northeast require India to maintain a garrison of two to four army divisions in that region. India perceives that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence is furthering the rebellions in the northeast. It is also concerned that Myanmar and Bangladesh have become involved (at least at the non-governmental level) with the separatist movements, since they are hosting India's rebel groups in their territories. In the northwest, the long-standing insurgency in Kashmir continues to bleed India, and requires the stationing of several hundred thousand troops in the state.

The second threat emanates from Pakistan. India's fear of Pakistan mirrors Pakistan's fear of India. One of India's leading strategists suspects that Pakistan masterminded the Tehelka corruption scandal. Others suspects that Pakistan aims to disrupt India by funding and instigating organized crime in India. One analyst has argued that Pakistan caused the crash of the Indian stock exchange, and caused more damage to the Indian economy than what could have achieved by bombing major Indian cities. Pakistan is viewed as a thorn that is permanently lodged in India's western hide. Its close ties with America and China over the past fifty years have thwarted India's policy of translating economic and military preeminence in South Asia into legitimate predominance.

The rivalry with Pakistan has driven the recent modernization programs of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles have been deployed on the Pakistani border in the army's 333rd Missile Regiment. In the post 9/11 time frame, the threat of Pakistani-sponsored terrorism has been played up as a major problem. India has begun to reach out to Pakistan's traditional allies such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, in order to impede Pakistan's diplomatic maneuverability. During the past couple of years, India's foreign minister visited Saudi Arabia, Vajpayee visited Iran and Iranian President Khatami was the Chief Guest at the Republican Day parade in New Delhi. Since 1970, India has unsuccessfully sought membership in the Organization of Islamic Countries, to further its image as a secular democracy with a large Muslim population.

Third, India feels threatened by China. This has driven India's nuclear and ballistic missile program. India has embarked on a grandiose program to challenge China's dominance in Southeast Asia. The Indian Navy is at the start of a 30-year buildup, to counter the 50-year plan of the Chinese Navy. There are plans to induct three aircraft carriers in the Indian Navy, and to install nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles on major warships. In the next few years, the navy's "area of interest" will extend for 7,000 miles from west to east along the Indian Ocean littoral. Ultimately, India intends to project naval power into the South China Sea.

Finally, India perceives an embryonic threat emanating from the U.S., which is now the world's unchallenged superpower. This factor has driven India to acquire an ICBM capability. One assumes that while the U.S. has found it convenient to enlist India as a partner in its drive to contain China, it would also seek to restrain India's ambitions toward its smaller neighbors. Otherwise, it may inadvertently lay the seeds for creating an Iraq-like situation in South Asia.

To meet these perceived threats, India currently spends $14 billion annually on defense. Over half of this budget is devoted to fighting a conventional land war against Pakistan. Pakistan's nuclear weapons have reduced the likelihood of such a war, since the risks of escalation are simply too great for even the BJP to countenance. The probability that China would attack India remains remote, since the Middle Kingdom does not have a history of imperialism.

If India were to resolve the Kashmir issue, it could redirect some of the billions being spent on its military toward social and economic development. It is a nation where half of the children are malnourished, 350 million go to bed hungry, and 300 million are illiterate. The combined budget deficit exceeds 10% of GDP. These statistics paint the portrait of a power that is long past its prime, not one that is gearing up to greatness.

  Category: Asia, World Affairs
  Topics: Foreign Policy, India, Pakistan
Views: 3391

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Older Comments:
Mr. "A Muslim," you said:

"A Muslim" said:

"you people are beggars of America."

Really??? You people? Did you know I have lived in Canada all of my life, when did you deduce that I am from Pakistan, and then you further go on to say even more rudiculous things.

"Show me one sign of Islamism in Pakistan." really are strange, you refer to Islam in such a derogatory sense, saying "Islamism" which basicaly means you are equating Islam with all the other ISMS that exist in the world, that could mean it's along hte likes of Communism, and Imperialism, yet you use your name as "A Muslim" have no idea what you're talking about, making up words like "ISLAMISM"...educate yourself man.

Next you go on to say:

"You people are beggars of the United States."

Hey "A MUSLIM" that is a very honourable thing to say to a fellow fact it's a very honourable comment you just made there to every single person living in Pakistan. You should be very PROUD of yourself for calling your brothers and sisters in Pakistan beggars to kaffirs. I guess that means that you did not know that Hosni Mubarak's government in Egypt is actually the second largest recipient of US foreign AID in the world. The only reason you seem to believe that ALL PAKISTANI'S are beggars to the USA, like you said, means that you are getting your information from watching a lot of ZNN and FOX NEWS.

A bit of advice to you, cultivate your education and learn something before saying idiotic comments like the ones you just said.

India is ahead of Pakistan and China in IT. India has tremendous talent at present despite 300 million go to bed with an empty stomach. Just imagine what India can do if it can feed those empty stomachs. India needs some serious and tough leaders who can stand up and contain communal violence and provide justice for all. With the present judicial system, rampant corruption, fragile relations between Muslims and India, India is much closer to disintegration than to attaining power. I wish India to lead not just south east asia but the entire continent of asia. All the best to India.

Manish Thakur's post sounded like something which Ari Fliesher would say during a question and evasion session at the white house.
Indians in the West are highly deceptive about what goes in their country. They would have us believe that theres nothing besides cheesy cliched movies and population statistics about India.
The fact that India is in the grip of Hindu fascists is rarely spoken. The pogroms against minorities and the occupation of Kashmir is also ignored. Indians can go on harping about being a democracy and throwing their sales pitches at the US, but the reality is that they are just another rogue state trying to ride the train set in motion by a renegade superpower.

Mr. Akbar Khan, if you Pakistanis are not greatful to Allah (sbt) for the creation of Pakistan, then why do you expect Bush to be greateful of your nation. Show me one sign of Islamism in Pakistan. You people are beggars of the United States. Rightly somebody said, if US allows Pakistanis to migrate, the whole Pakistan will be in U.S. My advise to you sir, reform Pakistan first. Stop taking charity from U.S. Cultivate Islmic spirit in Pakistan first.

A Muslim

India is not the largest democracy in the world as foolish Vajpayee has bragged about before, it is though, the largest unrepresentative criminal government in Asia, ever!

How ungrateful of the USA once again. Pakistan's government is not only a current ally of the USA, but was the US Government's greatest supporter and help during the US-led invasion of Afghanistan!! Why make Pakistan suffer under the dominance of India? Just b/c China is a rising power in the world, with 1.5 billion people, and exports technology to Pakistan and not India? These are some of the main reasons behind Vajpayee, and reasons behind Mr. Bush. Of course now that you see over 150,000 US troops in Iraq, you can clearly see the Americans sidelining Zionist need in the Middle East region, for the moment, as they can now monitor the region themselves!! Convince Sharon to accept peace (no worries Sharon....we give u oil, and u've got them caged behind a fence hahaha! The day Bush sat with Abbas and Sharon, I saw the greatest convergence of World Liars. Abbas the torture treatment man, Sharon the Sabra and Shatilla Butcher, and Dubya, the new Butcher of Baghdad (and all other places of Iraq). How long will it take for people to unite and stop believing these murderous governments that wield their power because we allow them to, just so we can be bribed with false hopes and dreams? It is a pathetic state for humanity to be ruled by such unruly men while we have the opportunity to communicate through the internet, yet the people in Palestine, India need water and food.

Now if India gov. uses the attacks of 9/11, and the recent invasion of Iraq as motives/reasons to start a quarrel with Pakistan, don't be surprised, as Zafarullah Khan has said, 'if anyone tries to attack us, Pakistan will is ready.' (referring to India during the Invasion into Iraq). Where is the Bush Administration's thanks to Pakistan for their help in Afghanistan? Do you understand the concept of history!?

An earlier reader said that US/India were not likely to engage as India was the "France of SE Asia" with a mind of its own. India certainly does have a mind of its own - as a country hosting one sixth of humanity, that is to be expected - but the point of France is mistaken. France was acting impetuously to hold back the US; whereas India is acting rationly in its own interests - interests which now align very closely with the US. This convergence of interests covers not only China, but stopping terrorism, narcotics and piracy. It also emcompasses exploting economic opportunities as India is now one of the world's fastest growing economies. Underpinning this are shared values of democracy, secularism and the rule of law - a far cry from former allies in Pakistan and China. So i agree with the thrust of this article - the growth of US/India ties are only a matter of time, being held back in the most part by lingering suspicions formed in the Cold War era. During the cold war, India and the US were on opposite sides. A fact that today we may find historically interseting but utterly irrelevant. When Cold War allies are deserting the US, America must seek new allies that share common values, goals and threats

India is not a democracy as we see it in The West. It is one of the most currupt nations on this planet. Over 350 million of their population go to bet hungary, but nuclear weapons they must have. The fact is that India is the most agressive country in South Asia: no wonder they dont have "normal" relations with even one of their neighbour. By the way, how many times have their politions gone out with "nuke Pakistan"? What happend to the UN resolutions on Kashmir? Not only is India a danger for Asia, but could also turn out to be a danger for rest of the world too. The American support of India is simply wrong.

India is only harping along the tone of the USA in order to capitalize on dual use technology and other advance technology from the USA. But "India is like the France of southasia" and has a mind of its own, once its purpose has been achieved. Like the France India is willing to sell arms to countries who can match their price i.e. recent India and Iranian strategic arms pact. In the long run its hard to see US and India striving in containing China.

Bush has already mentioned that US and India shares much in common....when in reality India and American share very little in common.. most "red blooded" American knows next to nothing about India; and America's way of life does not move in the same direction as India's.

Assaloomu alaikum wa rahmatullohi wa barakatuh.
Very informative, very educated and interesting.
Impressed by the polotical knowledge.
The only thing was that in general, it seemed like the Muslim Ummah was responsible for all the terrorism, as well as that it is also responsible for all the "half of the children are malnourished, 350 million go to bed hungry, and 300 million are illiterate", like if the muslim domintaed countries around are "attacking" rather than protecting!
It gives the negative impression on the Ummah I believe. (maybe, insh'Allah, it was only me)
Overall, good.


I, as a frequent reader of IslamiCity's articles, do appreciate the article. It is very well put together. It indeed reveals the reality on the ground vis--vis the threats India is facing today. I personally think that India is just another third-world nation-state which is trying to protect itself against the potentially aggressive powers which surround it. It is always disheartening to learn that India and the rest of the developing states devote much of their resources to their military. Many social and economic programs get sacrificed as a consequence and millions of people wind up going hungry while the leadership relishes in the abundance befallen them. It is time mankind found how to discover other routes to prosper and flourish instead of continuously seeking bloody ways to destroy others or self-destruct. I believe that India should have a place in the midst of the Organization of Islamic countries. India probably has the second largest Muslim community in the world after that of Indonesia. Opening the door to India will lessen friction and tension and of course the threat of war between it and Pakistan. Muslim states could always leverage some pressure on both parties to achieve a lasting peace. There is no excuse for any country to resort to declaring war on another country unless it is invaded. There are infinite ways to walk the course of peace in any particular situation. Realists might counter by saying that I am dreaming; I tell them that they are wrong and that they have to cease promoting war and scourging the world and the weak amongst us. The world has no place for the blood-thirsty and the flesh-hungry, period.

Well the writer has well spoken for the India's ambitions, but the reality is there India & Pakistan has to settle down the major dispute Kashmir between them for real development of the nations, as a matter of fact India is spending huge money from the national budget of defence, on the other side there is much more poverty in the Nation.
And India should remember this, Weapons only can not build the nations, (example russia) Or make the nations progressive.

India has always BEEN ANTI ISLAM,the Indian Government has always Suported Western Governments and have been on a crusade against Islam and the Muslim People.Kashmeer is only part of the of the Indian Governments human rights abuse and

A very good article explaining the complex nature of politics in the subcontinent of Asia. Also it is explaining how these conflicts are affecting millions of muslims.

South East Asia is already a tropical hellhole (Gary's word) and we don't need any hot-headed ragheads in here.So back off.