- Brig. Hemant Mahajan
The second phase of the government’s ambitious military expansion plan — worth Rs 65,000 crore — has run into rough weather. The finance ministry has red-flagged the plan with detailed queries and sent it back to the defence ministry with a bizarre question: will the Chinese threat last more than two years?
While responses have been prepared explaining the impossibility of ascribing a time period to the threat or even speculating on what the situation will be two years from now, sources said, the political understanding is that the finance ministry is probably not keen to clear such a high-cost plan this financial year.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given in-principle clearance last year to a five-year expansion plan, which involves fresh accretion of 89,000 troops with 400 officers — one of India’s biggest one-time military expansion efforts. The plan includes setting up a new strike corps in Panagarh, West Bengal, along with two more divisions. An independent armoured brigade along with an artillery division will be part of the set-up. These plans were fast tracked after the Army conveyed to the PM that according to available intelligence, China has been rehearsing military action during a limited local offensive.
It was in this context that the proposal for a new mountain strike corps, pending for over a year with the defence ministry, suddenly acquired momentum with the PMO promptly clearing it.
The finance ministry has also blocked the second stage of expansion of India’s first Navy-only bases, INS Kadamba in Karwar along the Karnataka coast. This Rs 13,000-crore plan involves creating more than a dozen piers and more berths which will host, among other ships, India’s next aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, better known as Admiral Gorshkov, which is now being refurbished in Russia
Don't take India’s security lightly
Respected Finance Minister, Please don't take India's security lightly. The safety and security of India is of highest priority. Even this means high cost. If something happens then we won't get time to react. Don't allow History to repeat. Rest people in power are wiser to understand the implications. Think strategically and in the Country's interest. China has been our no.1 enemy and will remain so until India gifts Arunachal Pradesh to China as in the case of portion of POK girted to china by Pakistan. It is sad that minsters like Pranab who cannot recollect 1962 aggression of China
It is time the ministry of defence got cracking in building up the Indian Army's military capability to face the Chinese threat .But it seems that New Delhi is in deep slumber or has no time to pay attention to such 'minor' issues like national security when all attention is focused on the upcoming assembly election in Uttar Pradesh.
It is, however, unfair to blame the government alone even the Opposition is equally busy in its perennial game of one 'UP-manship' and has never effectively taken up the issue of defence preparedness in Parliament.The media is frivolous as ever and is chasing TRPs; unfortunately there are no TRPs to be gained on defence issues.
What makes matters even worse than 'normal' in Delhi today is the inefficiency that has crept in all decision-making due to the 'Diarchy' that prevails in Delhi.The real power in the hands of the Gandhi dynasty while the prime minister has all the trappings of power. On December 14, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Parliament that his government does not share the view that China plans to attack India. Exactly half a century ago, another Indian prime minister stuck to a similar view, until November 21, 1962. Broadcasting to the nation that day, that prime minister lamented that in this hour of peril, our heart goes to the people of Assam!
As Jawaharlal Nehru spoke to the nation, the civil administration in Tezpur had begun to burn documents and currency in the government treasury, prison doors were thrown open, and everyone made a beeline to get across the Brahmaputra by whatever means.The stage was being set for surrendering all territory north of the Brahmaputra to the Chinese.
Just a year before that, in 1961, the then defence minister V K Krishna Menon had a scrap in public with the highly esteemed army chief, who resigned and then took back his resignation on the prime minister's advice. The prime minister then went on to humiliate the general in Parliament. As a consequence, the morale of the army was badly affected.
The same thing is happening today. Govt inaction has made Gen V K Singh go to supreme court to preserve his personal honour.
As someone who has studied that conflict, including the famed Henderson Brooks Report, one can say without any contradiction that 'loss of morale' was the single biggest cause of our debacle in 1962.
It is incredible that exactly after half a century we have a similar confrontation between the army chief and the defence ministry bureaucracy.
One of the horror stories of the 1962 conflict with China was the way India made a frenzied effort to arm the soldiers with modern weapons. The insistence on 'indigenous' production of arms and inability of the local R&D/factories starved Indian soldiers of tools of war.
So, what do we do?
Country Expects Defence Minister to Deliver
Our Army's modernisation is stuck in red tape of the deepest hue. Import of the critical lightweight howitzer, so important to provide artillery support to infantry in the mountains, is stuck in the courts/CBI clearances and what not.
Anyone familiar with the armed forces remembers the phrase often used by superiors while giving orders, 'I do not care whether you beg, borrow or steal! I want this done!'
It is time to remind the defence minister that the country expects him to deliver security and efficiency.
His primary job is to ensure honour and safety of the country, and not his honour, that must come last, always and every time.
It appears that China is carefully choreographing incidents with India. First, there were several instances of Chinese troops crossing the border, marking their presence. We have dismissed these as 'minor' incidents. Then there was the verbal spat and exchange of notes over the Indian foray into oil exploration in Vietnam waters. The New Year saw ill-treatment of an Indian diplomat. Earlier, there were cases of Indian diamond merchants being imprisoned in China. All these could well be dismissed as minor incidents that involve local officials.
Similar incidents were to take place on the India-Pakistan border; they are not to be taken seriously because in Pakistan nobody is in control of the armed forces or civilian officials.
But China is NOT Pakistan -- the People's Liberation Army, the media are all under tight government control in China.
India would be making a grave error of judgment if it considers these incidents as non serious. There seems to be a design behind these orchestrated events, especially the forays by the PLA.
It is time India woke up.
It is time the ministry of defence cleaned up its act got cracking in building up the Indian Army's military capability to face the Chinese threat. The impending American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the US-Pakistan divorce has the potential to destabilise the region.
China may become more assertive in South Asia.
Next year will mark 50 years since China taught a military lesson to India. Will history repeat itself after 50 years?
Brigadier Heman Mahajan (YSM) joined armed forces since 1973. Started his military life as an officer with the ‘7 Maratha Light Infantry’. Brig. Mahajan has served in the most sensitive areas like Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, North Eastern states. Importantly Brig. Mahajan had an experience of serving his duty in highest and tough warzone like Kargil, handling peace situation in furious Punjab after the ‘Operational Blue Star’ and the Ayodhya region. Along with ‘Youth Seva Medal’, Brig. Mahajan is recipient of various Military awards for his excellent track record.