Indian elite lack strategic culture: Admiral (Retd) Prakash

Mubarak Ansari
Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Arun Prakash added, “The success rate of prophets is low, but chances of this prophecy coming true will rise exponentially if India crafts a grand strategy, initiates urgent reform of its archaic defence structures and takes steps to revive its comatose military-industrial complex."

PUNE: Admiral (Retd) Arun Prakash on Monday said that India’s elite lack strategic culture and the ‘prophets’ on Raisina Hill are, once again, chanting the mantra of ‘Jang nahin hogi’. 

He was speaking about ‘India’s Role in the Dynamic Indo-Pacific Scenario’ during the 25th anniversary of Indian Maritime Foundation (IMF) in the presence of its President Cmde Rajan Vir and several other retired armed forces officers. 

He added, “The success rate of prophets is low, but chances of this prophecy coming true will rise exponentially if India crafts a grand strategy, initiates urgent reform of its archaic defence structures and takes steps to revive its comatose military-industrial complex. Notwithstanding its handicaps, India, as a democracy, a nuclear weapon state and a significant economic and military power, must stand firm as a bulwark against regional hegemony. History shows that neither appeasement nor empty bluster works with hegemonic powers.”

The former Indian Navy chief further said, “A reality that has eluded India’s decision makers is that ‘maritime power’ is much more than just a navy. It constitutes just one pillar of the country’s maritime capability, and without the rest of the structure, India’s maritime power will remain hollow. In sad contrast with China, India’s ports and infrastructure remain under developed, our shipbuilding industry is sluggish, merchant shipping grows at a snail’s pace, sea bed exploitation is stagnating and human resource development in the maritime sector is inadequate.”

Talking about challenges, he added, “With few cards, economic or military to play, India would need to evolve a skilful national security strategy that will buy a breathing spell while it builds economic, industrial and military muscle. 

ON CHINA
Given its growing economic and military strength, revisionist outlook and past record, China can be expected to push its influence in the region, grab territory and rewrite the rules of international conduct to suit its own interests. China’s grand strategy aims to reshape the geopolitical fundamentals of global power. 

In a few years, the PLA Navy (PLAN) will overtake the US Navy in numbers but may lag in capability. Choices for India in the face of Chinese hegemony are stark. The constraints of India’s political system render it unlikely that it can bridge the economic and military gap vis-à-vis China within a reasonable timeframe.

ON PAKISTAN
The Pakistani ‘deep state’, comprising the GHQ and ISI Directorate is determined to sustain, indefinitely, the bogey of an ‘existential threat’ from India which will justify their status as the nation’s saviours. The Pakistani army is willing to pay any price to destabilise India, grab Kashmir and keep it out of Afghanistan. Pakistan having been enlisted by China as a ‘cat’s paw’, both have formed a menacing anti-India nexus.

ADMIRAL'S OBSERVATIONS
- Indian Navy’s significant foreign cooperation outreach to smaller IOR neighbours has often been plagued by delays and procrastination in New Delhi due to lack of synergy between NHQ, MoD and the MEA. 
- India is struggling to become a significant industrial and technological power and has to support the needs of its military through massive imports. Need to tread with great caution while offering to provide security to other nations.
- Given the national level void in doctrine and strategy, India seems to be taking a relaxed view of developments in the Indo-Pacific region. Nothing illustrates this better than failure to focus on maritime security, fortify the A&N Islands.
- While we can blame lack of political resolve and diplomatic lethargy for the neglect of many critical security issues, the armed forces need to introspect about their own lack of cohesion and infighting that impact adversely on Jointness and national security.

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