When money is business, morals, ethics, human values and fundamental rights are of no consequence. Raja Mujtaba
By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
Honouring its deep-rooted strategic alliance, United States has finally decided to lift the ban from the Indian companies, directly or indirectly, linked with the Indian defence production, procurement, supplies, research, and development. U.S has imposed sanctions on these defence related companies following the Indian nuclear blasts in May 1998. The major beneficiaries of this facility would be two top Indian defence related companies; Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). DRDO has its four subsidiaries which include; Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Defense Research and Development Lab (DRDL), Missile Research and Development Complex; and Solid State Physics Laboratory. Similarly ISRO also has four subsidiaries; Liquid Propulsion Systems Center (LPSC), Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant (SPROB), Sriharikota Space Center (SHAR), and Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC). Besides, there are many other companies run under Indian Defence Ministry like; Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL). This company manufactures missiles and munitions for the Indian Armed Forces.
This removal of sanctions would enable Indian Defence facilities to procure hi-tech military equipment from US and other countries in the world. Upon removing the curbs, Gary Locke, the US Commerce Secretary said in a statement, that, “Today's action marks a significant milestone in reinforcing the US-India strategic partnership and moving forward with export control reforms that will facilitate high technology trade and cooperation.” As agreed between President Obama and Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, during the former’s visit to India in November 2010, lifting the sanctions would be the first step, “to implement the export control policy initiatives.” Moreover, the removal of the sanctions would enable these companies to operate freely without a requirement of the licence.
United States officials feels that, this special relaxation aims at, “more than just ginning up hi-tech trade and American exports.” Rather, it has “larger strategic implications.” Following the removal of sanctions, US administration has also up-dated its Export Administration Regulations (EAR). As per revised EAR, India has been removed from “several country groups in the EAR resulting in the removal of export license requirements that were tied to India's placement in those country groups. Countries that figure in EAR include China, Pakistan, Russia, and in some instances, even Israel.” Removal of the sanctions and placing India into a group of countries in the EAR by Obama administration is an effort to boost the strategic relationship between India and US. It also aims to, “to recognize and communicate India’s adherence to the regime, the U.S.-India strategic partnership, and India’s global non-proliferation standing.”
Indeed, this growing Indo-US strategic cooperation has multiple objectives. There is no doubt that, US is militarily strengthening India for the containment of its peer competitor, the People’s Republic of China. Nevertheless, the major Indian military deployment has been against Pakistan. However, in the recent past, its military commanders have threatened both China and Pakistan with its capability of a simultaneous launching of a two-front war. Indian Government has already approved the demand of its armed forces for balancing the military might of the China. The immediate approval includes creation of a new artillery division (equipped with 200 long-range guns and ultra-light howitzers), a Special Forces unit, and purchase of three aircraft for long-range reconnaissance.” National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) will purchase these long-range reconnaissance aircraft from Israel. However, Indian Army is in the process of raising the artillery division and training the Special Forces unit, aiming to play a “strategic role behind enemy lines in case of hostility, for destroying logistical lines, electricity plants and other war-supporting efforts.”
Otherwise, for the fiscal year 2010-11, India has already decided to make defence procurement of worth $32 billion. This procurement would also include acquisitions of new weapon systems, equipment, and services, of worth $13 billion. Comparing Indian defence budget of last few years, one would find that, there is an incessant increase in that on yearly basis. Seeing this non-stop increase, globally, this has been estimated that, Indian defence budget is likely to reach to $80 billion by 2015. As compared to $5.5 billion Pakistani defence budget, Indian defence spending is unparallel. This growing military spending by India is increasing becoming a threat for the regional countries in South Asia. Traditionally, Indian war munitions has always been used against Pakistan, as other South Asian countries are otherwise under strong Indian influence. Seeing the outcome of 1962 war with China, India would never dare to repeat such a mistake. However, its primary biases have been towards Pakistan and are unlikely to change in the days to come.
There has been no meaningful impact of the US ban on some of Indian defence companies after 1998, as India continued its military procurement across the globe. It has been getting modern and sophisticated weaponry from across the globe. Nevertheless, the lifting of the 13 years ban by US on Indian defence companies would, enable her to further modernize its conventional and non-conventional forces and war-munitions. India is already in the process of modernizing its navy; as the blue water navy, on the pattern of US and Russia. Its air force is getting some of the world’s latest aircrafts. US could have visualized that her unconditional and unilateral military assistance to India would promote an arms race in South Asia; a region already marred by extreme poverty and economic backwardness. This act of US would further enhance the security concerns of the regional countries in South Asia. As India is in the process of its absolute security, the rest of the states in the region would be insecure and exposed to Indian aggression or at least its domination. In the process, there would be more confrontations and conflicts in the region, thus a cohesiveness, which is much needed for an economic prosperity, would be no more.
As indicated by UNESCO, “One out of every three illiterate adults in the world is an Indian and one out of very two hungry persons in the world is an Indian.” Furthermore, as per global estimates, almost one out of two Indians lives below the poverty line of $1.25 per day and even then, “India spends $32 billion on defense, and increased its defense budget by 34% during 2010-11. Seeing the miseries of Indian people, there is neither a justification for lifting the ban on the Indian defence companies by United States, nor huge defence spending by India itself. Today India is grouped as the fourth biggest military spender in the world in term of purchasing power parity.
At a time once, Obama administration is seriously thinking to bring a substantial cut in the US defence expenditures for the economic stability in the country, India is heedlessly involved in a military build-up. No doubt, Indian acts are supported by this sole super power, which wishes an economic stability in US, but promotes conflicts in South Asia. Should not the sense prevail in South Asians, particularly the India masses to ask Indian rulers for such a madness of military build-up at the cost of living standard of human beings in that country in particular, and the region in general?