Posts Tagged ‘RFI-RFP’

NEW DELHI: India and the US are all set to ink their new 10-year defence framework pact when President Barack Obama comes visiting as the chief guest of the Republic Day parade on the special invite of Prime Minister NarendraModi.

NEW DELHI: India and the US are all set to ink their new 10-year defence framework pact when President Barack Obama comes visiting as the chief guest of the Republic Day parade on the special invite of Prime Minister NarendraModi.

US undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics Frank Kendall will be in town on January 22, just before Obama, to stitch up the loose ends. The new defence framework will be “more ambitious” than the earlier one — which was signed in June 2005 by then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee and his counterpart Donald Rumsfeld — without impinging on India’s “strategic autonomy”, sources said.

The expansive framework will outline the series of steps to bolster the bilateral defence partnership, ranging from stepping up the scope and intensity of joint military exercises already taking place to advancing shared security interests for regional and global security. Collaboration in intelligence-sharing, maritime security and the drive against terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will also figure on the agenda.

READ ALSO: Officials slog to get most from Obama visit

A significant addition will be the incorporation of the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) to augment the ones existing under the overall mechanism of the Defence Policy Group, which chalks out the path for future defence cooperation.

The US has been hard-selling a score of “transformative defence technologies” for co-development and co-production with India under the DTTI, which range from the next-generation of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and MH-60 Romeo multi-role helicopters to long-endurance UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and 127mm warship guns, as reported by TOI earlier.

But the Modi government has already chosen an initial off-the-shelf purchase of Israeli Spike ATGMs, with 321 launchers and 8,356 missiles, for Rs 3,200 crore. Sources said India will initially choose only a couple of “simpler projects” from the ones being offered by the US to kick-off the DTTI process and then ascertain how they actually materialise on the ground.

Towards this, South Block is looking at technologies being offered by those American armament companies who already have Indian partners and will bring in FDI. “The technologies that come initially should also be open to being exported for long-term sustainability of such projects,” said a source.

As for exercises, the two sides are poised to upgrade their annual Malabar naval exercise. India has largely restricted Malabar to a bilateral one with the US after China protested against its 2007 edition in the Bay of Bengal since they were expanded to include the Australian, Japanese and Singaporean navies as well.

The 18th edition of Malabar held last year, however, included Japan for the third time after 2007 and 2009. Now, Australia is also showing keenness to join Malabar on a regular basis.

Source : Defence NEws
Advertisements
With new emphasis to kick-start manufacturing of military hardware in India, the Defence Ministry is modifying internal rules to allow private companies exporting their wares to friendly nations.

With new emphasis to kick-start manufacturing of military hardware in India, the Defence Ministry is modifying internal rules to allow private companies exporting their wares to friendly nations.

“We would be deregulating certain aspects of export conditions. There are too many bottlenecks,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said here last week.

Since he took over as the defence minister two months ago, Parrikar cleared defence projects worth Rs 75,000 crore, out of which projects worth Rs 65,000 crore involve manufacturing in India.

The involvement of the micro, small and medium (MSME) industries sector, too, is being reviewed. Parrikar said his ministry would move an approach note in January, seeking to streamline the processes required to increase participation of the private sector.

The minister met industry captains at a one-on-one interaction in Goa last week, listening to their problems and priorities. Those who attended the meeting include Baba Kalyani of Bharat Forge, Larsen and Toubro, Tata Advanced Systems, Godrej and Boyce, Ashok Leyland, Punj Lloyd, Alpha Design Technologies, Zen Technologies, Data Patterns, Dempo and Pipavav Shipyard.

In the meeting, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, the industry representatives suggested no programmes be tendered under the “make” procedure of the Defence Ministry until there was clarity on its final form.

Ever since the “make” provision was introduced in the defence procurement procedure in 2008, there is no major project under this category, which involves developing design capability and intellectual property in the country.

The industry leaders pointed out the Defence Ministry’s “make” procedure was different from the prime minister’s “Make in India” initiative, which is about boosting manufacturing.

In June, the defence manufacturing sector was opened up for the private sector, as the need to obtain industrial licence to produce a large number of components and sub-systems required in military hardware was done away with.

The relaxation was extended to heavy engineering techniques like “casting” and “forging”, which can enable private firms to caste the hull of submarines and forge the barrels of artillery guns in future.

However, manufacturing of tanks and armoured vehicles, aircraft, warships and a large number of arms and ammunition for the Army, Air Force and Navy will remain a “no go area”.

Parrikar said under the “make” category, the government would first identify the products and then fund 80 per cent of the development costs.

“We are now considering 100 per cent of the development cost, provided there is 20 per cent contribution from the MSME sector. The plan is to create a supply chain to take indigenisation up to 70 per cent,” Parrikar added.

Source : Defence News
India-Israel ties, which have been improving steadily in last few years, is now out in the open under the Modi government, according to Israel’s new Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon.

India-Israel ties, which have been improving steadily in last few years, is now out in the open under the Modi government, according to Israel’s new Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon.

Both countries have now more visibility in relations and tiesare more talked about in open under the current the BJP-ledgovernment compared to the last decade, he said, adding that while bilateral relations have been productive in the past decade and growing across sectors, there is more visibility in partnership and it is more talked about in the open in the recent months.

Carmon pointed out that when Prime Ministers of the two countries met on sidelines of UN summit last September, it was the first time that PMs of two countries were meeting in last 10 years.

It may be recalled that the last Prime Minister level contact was established when Ariel Sharon visited India in 2003 with A B Vajpayee as PM. In fact he has been the only Israeli PM to have visited India so far. No Indian PM has ever made a trip to Israel.

Visits by senior ministers to each other’s country since last May also contributed to the visibility in ties. The Israeli envoy pointed out that Home Minister Rajnath Singh recently had a productive visit to Israel. More senior ministers from two countries will travel soon to each other countries.

“Our agriculture minister is travelling to Vibrant Gujarat where Israel will be represented in a major way. Our NSA was here to meet cross section of people in October. Nevertheless, we need to realize these are important steps but there is still much work that can be done in many fields,” Carmon noted. Israel along with UAE and Bahrain will make country presentations at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit during January 11-13.

Sources said that during the past 10 years, mostly junior level ministers from India visited Israel except visits by erstwhile Foreign Minister SM Krishna and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Source : Defence News
PARIS/NEW DELHI: With the Indo-French $6 billion surface-to-air missile systems project in doldrums, France is hoping that new government’s push for “Make in India” will lead to inking of the long delayed deal.

 France remains hopeful of signing the deal even though Indian armed forces are sceptical about the missile since indigenously developed Akash is in play.
Titled Maitri, the project for joint development and production between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and France’s MBDA, was initiated in 2007 and a MoU to co-develop the surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) was signed during French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India in February last year.Since then, the situation has changed as Indian Air Force feels that its requirements could be met by indigenous Akash surface-to-air missile weapon system.

Asked about reservations by the Air Force, a top MBDA official in Paris told PTI, “we have written back answering the issues raised by the IAF. We are hopeful that this deal would be inked soon.”

The official at MBDA also said that the “Make in India” project is apt for the deal.

He added that while the range of SRSAM will be of 40 km, Akash’s range is only 25 km.
Sources at Indian Air Force said that they have nothing against the Maitri project per se but would prefer to use the available Akash missile rather than wait for the Indo-French ones to come.

“The Maitri project can go on but we want the missiles and Akash is serving that purpose,” sources said.

Refusing to comment about the Maitri project, sources in DRDO said that the Akash missile is already in play and is based on a similar platform like the Maitri.

However, the French are pushing for Maitri. “SRSAM is part of our strategic dialogue with India and is raised whenever top officials and leaders from both sides meet. We believe that a lot of information has been handed over after the new government has taken over in Delhi,” an MBDA official said.

French officials said that both Akash and Maitri can be inducted as the two will improve overall weapon system of India.

MBDA believes that the Maitri will be better for India as it will be “more cost-effective to develop a new missile than to upgrade a missile based on outdated propulsion”.

India is working on Akash Mark-II with longer range and MBDA is even calling Maitri as a potential Akash Mark-II.

As per the deal, the Maitri missiles will be produced only in India and the first deliveries will happen three years after the agreement is signed.

India can also export the missile with “MBDA support”. The French defence major said Source Codes for Maitri will be delivered to DRDO giving an autonomy to India for guided missiles and seekers.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had also written to the Modi government about the project.

The issue was also raised when Drian and the country’s Foreign Minister visited India since the Modi government came into power, sources at MBDA said.

Source : Defence News

NEW DELHI: The Modi government is cranking up clearances for long-pending projects considered critical to plug gaps in India’s operational military capabilities. If the first two meetings of the defence acquisitions council (DAC) cleared proposals worth Rs 40,000 crore, the third one on Saturday gave the nod to projects totalling around Rs 80,000 crore. 

The DAC, chaired by Arun Jaitley on Saturday, gave the green signal to long-term projects like the Rs 50,000 crore project to build six new stealth submarines with foreign collaboration in India as well as deals for anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), “midget submarines” for special covert operations, Dornier aircraft, Russian Uran missiles for warships and the like. 

Significantly, it rejected the American “Javelin” ATGM offer despite the hard-sell by US defence secretary Chuck Hagel during his visit to India in August. Instead, it approved the purchase of the Israeli “Spike” tank-killing missiles, which had already been extensively trial-evaluated by the Indian Army last year. The likelihood of all this happening was first reported by TOI in its Thursday edition.

“National security is of paramount concern for the government. All hurdles and bottlenecks in the procurement process should be addressed expeditiously so that the pace of acquisitions is not stymied,” said Jaitley. 

The speed of clearances contrasted starkly with the feet-dragging under UPA on filling critical needs of armed forces. 

Take the project for the six new-generation submarines, which are to be armed with both land-attack missile capabilities and air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance. Grappling with just 13 ageing diesel-electric submarines, the Navy has been crying hoarse for this project to get underway ever since it gained “acceptance of necessity” way back in November 2007. 

But with the UPA government forming committee after committee to review the plan, which earlier included importing two of the six submarines to save time, even the global tender for the mammoth project could not be issued for the last seven years. It will take seven to eight years for the first of these submarines to roll out once the contract is inked. 

The DAC has now decided that a committee will identify within six to eight weeks the public and private Indian shipyards that have the potential to indigenously build the six submarines in line with Modi’s “Make in India” policy. The RFP (request for proposal) will then be issued to the “compliant” shipyards, which in turn will tie up with a foreign collaborator, to submit their bids. 

Incidentally, defence PSU Mazagon Docks is already building the French Scorpene submarines, while the private sector L&T shipyard is helping in the construction of the country’s nuclear-powered submarines. Both, therefore, stand a better chance than the others in bagging the big project. 

The project for the third-generation ATGMs, with fire-and-forget capabilities, will also be a major one. The DAC on Saturday cleared an initial off-the-shelf purchase of 321 Israeli Spike launchers and 8,356 missiles for Rs 3,200 crore. 

This is to be followed by transfer of technology to defence PSU Bharat Dynamics for large-scale indigenous manufacture since the Indian Army wants to equip all its 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised infantry units with these tank-killers. The Army is currently saddled with just second-generation ATGMs, and that too with a crippling 50% shortage in launchers and missiles. In all, the ATGM project would cost around Rs 20,000 crore. 

Another significant clearance was for the acquisition of two midget submarines or “chariots” for Rs 2,017 crore. These “underwater special purpose crafts” will be used for covert operations to land elite naval marine commandos or “Marcos” on enemy shores or installations.

Source : TOI

Police To Buy Three Gadgets For Rs. 1.5Cr Each To Identify Precise Locations
The next time you lose a cellphone, chances of reclaiming it are higher.
Delhi Police has finally given the nod to its much-awaited project for buying devices equipped to trace mobile phones. Around 40 mobile phones go missing here every day on average, police data suggests.

The devices, termed Geolocators, will cost Rs 1.5 crore each—the department will reportedly procure three.

One each will go to the special cell and the crime branch, while the third may be allotted to the local police for specific cases.

TOI had first reported in September last year that cops were planning to procure devices which could help them find mobile phones. Sources confirmed that a global tender was floated last week to procure these machines. The gizmo will not only help cops trace loststolen or snatched phones but will also help in narrowing down on the suspects making ransom calls from a remote area. It will also help in tracking terrorists and criminals on the run, police said.

Geolocators, which use advanced GPS and “frequency locator” technology from Europe, come with an assembly unit and a handheld device. The latter is equipped with a smartphone and can be used to reach to the place where the target phone is located. The units can be mounted on a vehicle or packed in a haversack.

A source said the device would generate a “mobileterminating call or an SMS” to the phone from any given number—cops would even be able to speak to the target and engage or distract him—and then it will establish contact with the phone’s IMEI or IMSI’s frequency. A trained cop will go through the area with the handheld device to track down the target. The GPS-enabled unit will take him even to the room where the crimi nals or terrorists could be operating from or hiding and a cover team will follow to thwart them.

Till now, cops have been using the information furnished by the service provider, which directs them to a vague tower location (such as ITO or Pragati Maidan) which have hundreds of active numbers. Cops get to the tower ID and track the target or the phone using manual intelligence. This device—the handheld part of the unit acts as a guide—can take you up to 10 metres close to the target. It will, however, only be able to track GSM phones with 2G or 3G technology and can be upgraded to 4G as well.

Geolocators are an essential part of any police investigation unit in the West and are crucial in cases of homicides, kidnapping for ransom and robbery. The instrument is perceived to be a great help to the force.

 

Source: Defence News

In this India-U.S. Policy Memo, W.P.S. Sidhu writes that the India-U.S. relationship has progressed significantly over the last 25 years. He outlines areas ripe for deeper cooperation, as well as issues that have the potential to derail ties.

There was a time when India-U.S. relations were summed up in platitudes like “world’s largest democracies,” while seasoned pundits lamented that they were in fact “estranged democracies” that had very little in common. Today, with nearly 30 separate dialogues, the India-U.S. agenda involves issues ranging from the TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) to the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and a spate of acronyms in between.

For New Delhi, the principal driver behind the transformation of its relations with Washington lies in the Indian ambition to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2025 and, consequently, also emerge as one of the key global political and security actors. This fundamental objective requires two external conditions: first, at the very least, ensuring a no-war environment, particularly in India’s immediate neighborhood; and second, the ability to shape global rules in terms of existing and emerging norms and institutions that have a direct impact on India’s ambitious development goal and economic well-being—particularly multilateral norms and institutions related to climate, cyber, energy, food, outer space, trade, and water (rivers and oceans) policy.

New Delhi grudgingly recognized that a partnership with the United States was indispensable to attain these twin external conditions. Consequently, it was essential to cooperate not only at the bilateral level but also critical to reach common understanding (if not agreement) in various multilateral and plurilateral fora.

Such bilateral and multilateral interactions have the potential to take India-U.S. relations forward but also to stymie them. Thus, it is crucial to manage the ever widening and deepening India-U.S. relationship carefully if it is to make progress and contribute to India’s primary objectives.

At present three areas are particularly ripe for cooperation and should be prioritized by New Delhi and Washington: clean energy, defense, and infrastructure and investment.

Clean energy: In the lead-up to his election, Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pledged to “give a thrust to renewable sources of energy,” and the Modi government’s first budget included significant investments for research and development of solar, wind, clean coal, and other renewable energy sources. The joint statement of the fifth strategic dialogue strengthens institutional structures to enhance cooperation in this area. Now India and the United States need to operationalize these mechanisms for additional cooperation.

Defense: In an effort to bolster domestic arms production and create jobs, the Modi government has raised the limit on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defense sector from 26 percent to 49 percent. U.S. officials applauded the adjustment and the Indian government and American corporations have said they would like to move forward on a host of sales, and co-development and co-production projects. The parties should capitalize on this moment of mutual agreement.

Infrastructure and investment: Prime Minister Modi’s budget allocated massive sums for urban renewal, transportation, and sanitation projects, and eased restrictions on FDI for construction. The establishment of two collaborative infrastructure efforts launched during a recent visit by top U.S. officials suggests this is another area ripe for movement.

While traction in each of the areas above can help to re-energize India-U.S. ties in the near term, a handful of other issues have the potential to derail them:

Free trade: India’s blocking of the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade facilitation agreement (TFA)—while the fifth strategic dialogue was ongoing—disappointed U.S. officials. India’s justification of its actions, on the grounds that it did not get assurances on food subsidies and stockpiling programs, was grudgingly acknowledged by the U.S. However, diplomats on both sides should find a compromise solution to ensure that the WTO fracas does not derail the revived dialogue.

Intellectual property rights: Western pharmaceutical companies have been at loggerheads with India for years over patent laws and regulations on generic drug production, and India is one of just 10 countries currently on the U.S. Trade Representative’s intellectual property rights watch list. With the Indian government and electorate focused on growth and development, discussion of any measures that could significantly hinder Indian industry and deprive access to cheap medication could backfire.

Regional geopolitics: India is anxious about the upcoming U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, suspicious of the American approach vis-à-vis a rising China, and disdainful of U.S. coziness with Pakistan. With hard national interests and a slew of historical grievances at stake, differences of opinion here will be immensely challenging to reconcile.

Diplomatic decorum: The bungled arrest of an Indian consular officer in New York in December 2013 and the lasting—if presently downplayed—effects of the denial of a U.S. visa to then-Chief Minister Modi over his alleged involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots highlighted a considerable lack of understanding and coordination between the two sides. Rebuilding trust and comfort will take time and dexterity.

Finally, the two parties would do well to seek an early resolution of a couple of other vexing issues, which have the potential either to provide a fillip to or to wreck bilateral relations. If, however, an early resolution is not possible, then both sides should shelve the issues until the new Indian government has had the opportunity to flesh out its policies more clearly.

Civil nuclear deal: The landmark India-U.S. civil nuclear deal lies dormant, due to a dispute over India’s Nuclear Liability Act and the United States backsliding on key elements of the nuclear agreement. Prime Minister Modi has expressed a desire to implement outstanding bilateral nuclear agreements, and American officials have registered hopes that progress will be possible. Still, if large gaps remain, then it might be more sensible to put off trying to find solutions to a later date.

FDI in retail: While India has taken steps to open up various sectors of its economy to FDI—defense, insurance, e-commerce—the multi-brand retail sector remains largely insulated due to sourcing requirements. Reports suggest the BJP-led government is considering a number of adjustments to its retail FDI policies; until their approach is ironed out, it is best to hold off on any related discussions.

Prime Minister Modi’s election provides a unique opportunity to re-energize relations between India and the United States. The parties should recommit themselves to a dialogue of candor and mutual respect, and focus on those areas ripe for progress in order to build much-needed confidence. Only then can India-U.S. ties become what President Obama has called “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”

Source : Brookings

NEW DELHI: The Indian armed forces have projected a combined requirement of 440 light utility helicopters which will now be manufactured indigenously involving the state-owned HAL and private sector firms in partnership with foreign players.

The IAF, Army and the Navy require 440 choppers and these would be now manufactured within India including the HAL, private sector firms and foreign players, Defence Ministry officials said here.

 

 

The armed forces had projected their requirements to the Defence Ministry before the government scrapped a Rs 6,000 crore tender to procure 197 such helicopters for the Army and the Air Force, they said.

The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has already started a project in Tumkur, Karnataka for building light helicopters, which will have capability to lift 2.5 tonnes payload.

Last Friday, the Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had scrapped the scam-tainted tender for procuring the choppers to replace the vintage fleet of Cheetah and Chetak choppers used to move troops and equipment to high-altitude locations like Siachen.

The DAC decided to retract from the tender for procuring these choppers and the Indian industry would be given the opportunity to produce around 400 such choppers for the requirements of the armed forces.

In line with NDA government’s plan to develop the indigenous industry, the government decision is expected to generate business worth over Rs 40,0000 crore for the local industry in the defence sector, they said.

This is the second time in seven years that the tender has been scrapped in which European Eurocopter and Russian Kamov were competing and it had been on hold for the past over two years due to an ongoing CBI probe and other allegations of wrongdoings in the trial process.

Source: Defence News

New Delhi: The Defence Ministry will decide the fate of the controversial Rs 6,000 crore deal to procure 197 light choppers which has been on hold due to an ongoing CBI probe into charges that a Brigadier had sought bribe from AgustaWestland to help it bag the contract.

 
During a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) scheduled this week, the Defence Ministry will also discuss deals worth around Rs 15,000 crore for procuring Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavylift choppers for the IAF from the US, Defence Ministry officials said.

The DAC, headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, is scheduled to take up the deal for discussion in its meeting where it is expected to decide its fate, they said.

The 197 light utility choppers are to be procured for the Army and the IAF who use them for ferrying troops and supplies in high altitude areas such as Siachen Glacier and would be used to replace the vintage Cheetah/Chetak choppers which were inducted 40 years ago.

CBI has been probing allegations against the Brigadier which surfaced during investigations into the VVIP chopper deal about the alleged involvement of AgustaWestland in paying kickbacks to secure the Indian contract for 12 VVIP choppers.

CBI probe was ordered by the Defence Ministry after the Army requested it to investigate the charges against the Brigadier before taking any decision on the future developments in the deal.

Allegations have been levelled against the Brigadier in a letter allegedly sent by an AgustaWestland official in India to his superiors in Italy saying the officer was seeking USD 5 million for facilitating the deal in their favour.

Only two firms European Eurocopter and Russian Kamov are left in the race for the deal to supply 197 light choppers to the Army and the IAF as AgustaWestland was knocked out of the deal in the preliminary stages itself.

The deal for procuring 197 light choppers has already been cancelled once in 2007 in the last stages. The Brigadier has denied the charges made against him.

 

Source : Zee News

The much touted US pivot/re-balance to the Asia-Pacific has drawn considerable flak of late. From the Syrian chemical weapons use to Russia’s revanchism, the questioning of America’s leadership has seen the pivot naysayers become louder.

 

The much touted US pivot/re-balance to the Asia-Pacific has drawn considerable flak of late. From the Syrian chemical weapons use to Russia’s revanchism, the questioning of America’s leadership has seen the pivot naysayers become louder. President Obama has firmly recognized the limits of American power. The Commander of the US Pacific Air Forces has admitted that the resources for the pivot haven’t come his way even as the head of the US Pacific Command has made clear America’s inability to conduct amphibious assaults. To top these off, the US Defence Undersecretary for Intelligence has made it known that the US considers the Syrian civil war, Iran and even a vague ‘persistent volatility’ across South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa as greater threats than China.

The Obama administration is therefore caught in a three way struggle: it is persuading China that its re-balancing is not containment, reassuring its Asian allies of its support, and also projecting to the US Congressmen an image of China as a major threat. Senior American commanders have said that they “aren’t going to go to war over a rock” in the South China Sea while Obama has said that all Japanese administered territories (including the Senkakus) are covered under American defence commitments to Japan. Such a US posture is of concern since the strategic ambiguity this policy creates sows doubts about US commitment among its regional allies and also makes it tougher for China to determine where the real red lines drawn by the US lie.

The East Asian nations are today struggling to balance their relations with both China and the US. This balancing act is occurring at a time when India is rapidly accreting military might and is cultivating military contacts with South East Asian nations. India and South East Asia have no contentious issues between them, nor has India been keen for military alliances or basing arrangements. Currently, an East Asia unsure of US commitment is welcoming greater Indian involvement in regional affairs. As long ago as a decade ago, however, it had been postulated that the Indian armed forces are too overextended domestically to pay attention to their neighbourhood. 

Even a decade later, India’s much talked of Look East initiative has been more words than action. Primarily responsible is the fact that none of the burning issues of East Asian politics (a nuclear North Korea, the Taiwan problem and competing territorial claims in the South China Sea) are directly relevant to Indian interests. While the balance of forces tilts towards the US and its allies, the balance of influence is weighing heavier on the side of China by the day. ASEAN’s desire to engage with India, however, should not be interpreted to mean they shall do so at the expense of their relationship with China. India’s Look East initiative was never pursued with the aim of counterbalancing China, and ASEAN would ideally like India to not have antagonistic relations with China. This is so for that would put them in the same balancing dilemma where they are presently caught with respect to the USA and China.

India has always been ambivalent about its take on the US Pivot, a stand attributed to an ongoing tussle between the nationalist and realist elements in the Indian policy elites. In such a context, the rise of Narendra Modi hailing from a right wing Hindu nationalist party holds promise to bring more clarity to this debate. Modi’s first priority is the Indian economy and not extremist ideological agendas. Any analysis of his foreign policy priorities then shall flow from his domestic economic priorities. Given the sparse commentary on foreign policy in the BJP manifesto, hardly a surprise on account of the low priority accorded to foreign policy by the Indian electorate, this is all the more important. Modi has stated that, “I believe a strong economy is the driver of an effective foreign policy.. We have to put our house in order so that the world is attracted to us.” The mere fact that India’s economic relations are likely to shine brighter in the East as compared to a retrenching West shouldn’t be interpreted as an automatic Indian commitment to the US rebalance. Given the blooming Indo-Japanese relationship, though closer alignment between the two in a future where India feels threatened by China, there is a high likelihood of India actively participating in the US re-balance. It is a fact that an unresolved border dispute between India and China that sparked a war in 1962 remains a sore point. Also, China’s low key support of insurgencies in India and its all weather alliance with Pakistan has posed roadblocks for cooperation. China’s opposition to India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the UNSC as a permanent member has proven unhelpful as well. As a former Indian foreign secretary remarked “Pakistan is just an enemy, China is the adversary.”

That said, Indian steps to militarily hedge against China have been more reactionary than proactive. There is indeed a passionate debate over whether India should contest China militarily on land or sea and the final verdict is not yet clear. What is clear is that India has always gone out of its way to not antagonize China, hence its conspicuous absence from militarized international groupings with a China centric focus. 

The Chinese are optimistic about Modi and certain commentators have noted that both nations are undergoing historic economic transformations, with India hoping to assume China’s present position (assembling and offshoring) and China building an economic model akin to the Japanese/South Korean model (innovation driven high value commodities provider). With a gargantuan demographic dividend baying for jobs and Modi seeking to revamp Indian infrastructure, the Chinese have an optimal candidate in India as they look to channel their funds into higher yielding assets. China is India’s largest trade partner, and an era of strategic cooperation, quite unlike any seen before, may very well find its beginnings under Modi’s premiership.

For China to rake up its territorial conflict with India would force it to redirect resources from its naval, air and missile forces to territorial defence. Given the continuity which characterizes Indian foreign policy thought, dramatic changes should not be immediately expected under Modi. 

A China that doesn’t hinder Indian attempts to carve out its own sphere of influence and swiftly resolves the border dispute would give India good reasons to not engage deeply with the US pivot, at least militarily. China would do well to remember that strategic autonomy, whilst long a cherished end state in Indian foreign policy circles, is not an ironclad necessity (as a glimpse at India’s Cold War history would make clear). As a Prime Minister leading the first ever non-Congress-non-coalition government in India, Modi has a historic mandate and opportunity to shape India’s foreign policy as he sees fit in a manner that will be felt for decades to come.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are personal.

 Author :Himanil Raina 
Source : stsfor.org