India and China must remember common threat amid missile fuss
Global Times | April 22, 2012 20:05
By Global Times
The successful launch of the long-range nuclear-capable Angi-V missile on Thursday was applauded and celebrated by many Indian analysts and media outlets. They associate the move with India's wish to set China as a reference point for its military development, and believe that India is going to join the global intercontinental missile club soon.
In fact, India has little to celebrate. Up until the 1980s, India was far more advanced than China in both economy as well as technology. After that, China raced ahead, and today has outclassed India in both areas.
The Manmohan Singh government, because of pressure from NATO member countries, has kept a slow pace with their Integrated Guided Missile Program (IGMP).
The Agni-V is deemed to be in its final stage, whereas in fact the IGMP ought to have progressed to develop a range of 9,000 kilometers.
The celebrations over the missile conceal the inadequacies and slow pace of the program, and hide the fact that successive Indian governments have capitulated to pressure from NATO to restrict the range and power of their launch vehicles.
By now, India ought to be a space power. However, the country is so far behind China in this field that it is embarrassing.
India faces a huge vulnerability. More than 80 percent of its critical weapons systems are imported from France, the US, Russia and Israel.
If these countries cut off supplies or ammunition during a conflict, India would be helpless.
India's recent military output, including a strategic growth in nuclear forces and arms purchasing, is designed to catch the eye. But for how long can borrowed weaponry lead to genuine security?
The fact is, weapons systems imported from abroad are subject to a massive risk of supply disruption.
Those in India who celebrate because the country has become a favorite destination of international arms dealers are just being foolish.
Sadly, it is easy to please the Indian government. All that is needed is flattery.
By playing up the "China threat" and postulating that India can "counter and contain China," vested interests are hoping to ensure that more and more money is spent on foreign weapons systems rather than domestic manufacture.
It is also interesting to see the Indian public's response to the boost of military strength, especially the latest test of the Agni-V missile. There are lots of nationalistic voices to be heard at the moment, they say that the Indian people are strong, the military is motivated and there is no fear of China among the ordinary people.
However, both countries should beware of efforts to create widespread fear and tension. Bad relations between India and China will hurt both countries and aid those who seek to subjugate Asia and the world.
Both Indian and Chinese commentators need to look at the bigger picture and focus on the common threat faced by both peoples; the efforts to derail their nation's development and weaken them internally.
Patriotism is only genuine when it is expressed in a way that helps the country. If expressed in ways that are harmful to national interests, then it is false patriotism.
India still suffers from a lack of funds for infrastructure construction and public voices are speaking out to say that the government should spend more on civil livelihood projects, rather than military schemes. There are similar arguments in China, too.
At China's stage of development, it is not possible to completely separate the military from the civilian.
In the case of both countries, the development of technology is crucial to a better future which means a certain amount of sacrifice has been necessary in recent times.
But it would be short-sighted to slow down on military research and development. On the contrary, technological innovation stemming from military research can help other aspects of the economy to become more competitive internationally. This has to be explained to the people.
Although there is an international effort to paint India and China as enemies and to make the two countries go to war with each other, such an effort will fail. The Chinese and Indian people share a long history and culture, and what is needed is more discussion between the two about their economics, education, tourism and culture.
We must create so many bridges of friendship that the plans of other countries to make China and India into enemies will fail. Together, India and China can make Asia strong. Divided, not only these two countries but all of Asia will remain weak.
The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Chen Chenchen based on an interview with M.D. Nalapat, director and professor of the School of Geopolitics at Manipal University in India. firstname.lastname@example.org