India’s Watershed Moment


The conflict in Ukraine after the Russian military action has hugely impacted the dynamics of world geopolitics, compelling profound changes in the strategic positions of the important nations of the world even as the outlines of a new world order is seemingly taking shape.

But what has riveted the attention of the global comity of nations is the path-breaking position taken by India. Not taking categorical sides, advocating peace through negotiations and yet communicating its position with a fair degree of success has enhanced India’s prestige in the world order.

Never before has India’s main plank of ‘strategic autonomy’ found so many takers even as many nations—not keen to take sides in a war they do not want to be drawn into—are already looking at the ‘Indian model’ and at India’s leadership role. India has effectively made the world acknowledge its aspirations. No wonder important leaders of important nations are making a beeline to New Delhi.

Indeed, India has made capital of the Ukraine crisis with rich diplomacy. After all, India is also the land of the Kautilya’s third century BC Arthashastra—one of humanity’s earliest treatises on diplomacy and statecraft.

With the immediate neighbourhood—Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar—in considerable internal turmoil, there are questioning stares at the role India should and could play. With the ongoing military standoff with China across the northern borders, there is no question of slowing down on our focus on the military—be it for modernisation or for consolidation.

Moreover, with the reverberations from the not-yet-over Covid pandemic still being felt all across the world, the time to repair and reverse the impending gloom through collective action is already here. India should therefore seek out its own space while maintaining the delicate balance between strategic and economic stability.

Obviously, being pursuant with our Atmanirbharta of self-reliance goals amid such dynamic challenges is a challenge of Himalayan proportions. Acquiring economic heft with a blend of self-reliance in defence technology should be the top priority dispelling the stigma of being an underachiever nation despite having all-round potential.

On the bright side, India’s confident stride towards Atmanirbharta in defence has started showing green-shoots. A vibrant defence ecosystem is finally taking shape, technological prowess, innovation in defence is gaining traction with emergence of home grown defence unicorns.

The experience and confidence gained through Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is propelling the future Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) project, collaborative involvement of research and development institution, armed forces, defence industry and academia backed with government’s funding and backing shows encouraging signs for the future even as the defence acquisition and procurement policy changes / reforms in response to changing dynamics is adding momentum and giving more thrust to Make in India. Yet, achieving the self-reliance goal is a long journey ahead laced with multiple challenges to overcome.

With the completion of the P75 submarine project and P75I project under the Strategic Partnership model plagued with uncertainty, India’s submarine acquisition plan needs a rethink. In absence of order continuity, the loss of know how, expertise and skills acquired during the P75 would adversely impact the indigenous building of future submarines.

Similarly, the naval utility helicopters and the medium multi-role combat aircraft projects too requires a fast track implementation—either through a more refined Strategic Partnership model or Buy Global, Make in India process.

Team Raksha Anirveda expects that the April-June edition will resonate well with the readers. Your feedback is vital to gauge the impact and make the magazine more enriched, insightful and engaging.

Jai Hind!!