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Online Radicalisation: The Example of Burhan Wani

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Prabha Rao

IPS (Retd.) 

Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen commander for South Kashmir, died in an encounter in Bundoora village of Kokernag on July 8, 2016, along with two other militants, Sartaj Ahmad Sheikh and Pervaiz Ahmad Lashkari. Wani’s death has generated unprecedented public hysteria, in keeping with his image as a glamourous, tech savvy, insurgent. The lessons to be drawn from this event go beyond the conventional understanding of violence in Kashmir.
A school dropout from the Shareefabad area of Tral, Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, Burhan Wani effectively played the victimhood narrative by stating that he had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) at the age of 15 in reaction to the brutality of the Security Forces, which had beaten his brother, Khalid, unconscious in the summer of 2010 on the streets of Tral. Wani eschewed the traditional gun-toting route and innovatively used his social media skills, thus changing the public face of militancy in Kashmir by crowd sourcing support in a manner popularised by the agitators of the Arab Spring and the ISIS in Syria/Iraq.1
Wani’s Use of Social Media
Wani’s initial stint in the HM in 2011 was that of a courier/messenger; the differentiator came with his cyber outreach. He created a Twitter handle @Gazi_Burhan2 in October 2012, which he used to upload photographs of atrocities – overtly graphic pictures of violence – allegedly perpetrated by Security forces as well as virulently anti-India and anti-Modi content.2 His calls for joining the ‘Jihad’ were accompanied by qur’anic verses, emotive demands for “Azadi” and exhortations to establish the Nizam-e-Mustafa (God’s government) in Kashmir. In a first action of its kind, he started sending photographs of himself and other militants with faces uncovered, in identifiable locations around Srinagar, which gave disaffected youth a sense of identity and imparted the idea that militancy was a heroic, fairly risk-free, job. His message to join the ‘Jihad’, and not become informers of the Army or Police, gained traction. And in an obvious recruitment drive, he offered remunerations of Rs 35,000 to whomever was willing to join.3
His video and twitter messages highlighted his fight against the Indian establishment. And because of his tweets, Mohammad Ikhlaq, lynched in Dadri on suspicion of consuming beef, and Zahid Ahmed, a Kashmiri trucker who was attacked in Udhampur, have become household names across the Valley.4
In August 2015, Wani uploaded a video on a Facebook account calling for the establishment of a Khilafat in Kashmir. This was a message sent to his target audience to emphasise the Islamic underpinnings of his initiatives. There were no calls for plebiscite or implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir, etc. Instead, the communication was directed to the Kashmiri youth, urging them to join his outfit, and to the Kashmir police, asking them to shun their fight against the militants. There were no references to the ageing Hurriyat Council or the HM leadership in Pakistan.
The video, which was professionally made with Burhan Wani and two other militants in military fatigues, with a Kalashnikov, a pistol and a Quran prominently displayed, went viral in minutes and was widely circulated on WhatsApp in Kashmir, before the Kashmir police took action to block the page. The Cyber Cell of Kashmir police in Srinagar has been valiantly combating the activities of Wani and other militants/sympathisers in the virtual world, but is seriously constrained by lack of qualified staff and meagre resources.5
In a video uploaded on YouTube and Facebook on June 8, 2016, Wani commented on controversies around the proposal for the establishment of Sainik Colonies and a separate township for Kashmiri Pandits. He tapped into the resentment among Kashmiri Muslims on this matter. His message was: “The Hindus of this place, who reside outside, they can come to their homes to stay there. If they stay at places where they have their homes, their land, they will find us as their guards… But these separate Israel-type colonies, this is an Indian conspiracy against us. We will act against them (separate Pandit colonies).” In the same video, he stated that the HM would “act against every man in uniform who stands for the Indian Constitution,”6 and urged the general public to keep note of the police personnel and their movements. This message again was widely circulated through the Valley, and it can be seen that attacks on the army, paramilitary forces and the police have escalated sharply since Wani started his diatribes against the security forces.7 To give an immediate example, the wife and daughter of Mohammad Ashraf Pal who is posted as duty officer at Sangam police post in Bijbehara area of Anantnag district, were beaten up by a mob on July 13 – a departure from the militants’ usual practice of not attacking families of officers. Organised activities by the Sanghbaaz – the stone pelters – have shown an upsurge, reminiscent of the situation in 2010, with social media activists terming it as Kashmiri Intifada.8
More recently, focussing on the current controversies around Dr. Zakir Naik and his purported role in radicalising the Dhaka terrorists, Wani tweeted a picture of the televangelist on July 7, a day before he died, with the text, “Support Zakir Naik or Time Will Come When Qur’an Recitation Will Be Banned.” He had tagged Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Aasiya Andrabi, Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Sayeed, Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Farooq, Canadian Wahhabi preacher Bilal Philips, former Fox international fellow at Yale University Inshah Malik, and Dukhtaran-e-Millat general secretary Nahida Nasreen Noor. Support for Dr. Zakir Naik has gathered momentum in the Valley following the tweet and Burhan’s death.
Wani’s Target Audience
Wani’s social media outreach had created a hype in the press, both in India and Pakistan, with commentaries stating that he was the emerging cult figure in Kashmir who had generated a new phase in the separatist movement which had been quiescent since 2010. Around 60 per cent of the Valley’s population is below 30, often unemployed, and hyperactive on the social media, giving Wani a readymade target audience. By 2013, he was being called the poster boy of the Kashmir insurgency by both the national and international media, given his dedicated fan following in the Valley and in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). According to the J&K Police,9 while it would be difficult to quantify the reach of Wani’s cyber blitz, he has undeniably attracted and influenced young minds to the idea of militancy. Evidence of this was seen in the crowds who attended his funeral on July 9, defying curfews, and far outnumbering the funeral processions for Mufti Mohammad Syed.10 Consequently, after a hiatus of 15 years, local Kashmiri youth are once again outnumbering Pakistani terrorists. According to official figures, north Kashmir has 66 local and 44 foreign terrorists; and, in south Kashmir, locals number 109 and foreign terrorists are a mere seven, according to police records.11 Commenting on the trend, Lt Gen Satish Dua, Corps Commander, 15 Corps, had opined that “The new strategy is to recruit locals and give them rudimentary training in the hinterland because the adversary (read Pakistan) is not able to push terrorists across the line of control.”12 In view of Wani’s disruptive activities, the Government of India had in July 2105 announced a bounty of 10 lakh rupees for information leading to his arrest.
Protests against his killing
Given the above backdrop, Burhan Wani’s killing has been a major operational success for the Special Operations Group of J&K Police. Adverse public reaction in Kashmir, though expected, snowballed into mass protests (with 33 people dead and over 500 injured), underscoring the extent of alienation in the Valley. This trend has been noted earlier during the funeral of Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Abu Qasim (October 31, 2015), who had ambushed and killed J&K Police sub-inspector Mohammed Altaf, when over 20,000 people attended his funeral. The high-pitched support for a slain Pakistani terrorist showed that there was a wide swath of support for the Lashkar’s religio-militant zeal,13 a fault line Burhan Wani was able to exploit. To reiterate, Wani’s funeral gathered an unprecedented number of mourners from all walks of life, including women and children, but predominantly young men in the age group of 15 to 30 years. Many were seen treading several kilometres on foot, travelling in mini-buses, load carriers, trucks, cars and motor-bikes, and shouting pro-freedom, pro-Hizb, pro-Burhan and anti-India slogans. “We will fight our own battles, there will be a Burhan Wani coming out of every Kashmiri house” was the slogan of choice, demonstrating that for a large number of mourners the killing of Wani was a call to rejuvenate the armed resistance.
Another incendiary development was that several mosques were echoing the mourners and asking people to join the “Jihad: against India14 — a theme that is likely to be repeated in the Friday Qutbah prayers on July 15. This is a cause for concern as the maulvis in many of the mosques in Kashmir are not locals, but are from Uttar Pradesh and are more Wahhabist/Salafist in their leanings, adhering to the Jamaat-ud-Dawa line in Pakistan, as against the essentially Sufi form of Islam traditionally practiced in Kashmir.
The Pakistan Angle
Eye witnesses quoted by Times of Islamabad said that Wani’s family wrapped his dead body in a Pakistani flag during his funeral and he was also buried with it.15 Pakistani flags, according to the “Greater Kashmir” website, were displayed around the Wani household and Burhan Wani’s father, Muzzafar Wani, a school principal, has been a long-time member of the Jamaat-e-Islami, with pro separatist sentiments. The website has quoted another family member as saying that “The Geneva convention gives us the right to fight for our right to have the self-determination as we are an internationally recognized disputed territory under the United Nation’s resolutions on which India has signed.”16 A Facebook comment by JNU student Umar Khalid, who is out on bail in a sedition case, comparing Burhan Wani to Che Guevara – “I don’t care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting. These were the words of Che Guevara, but could have just been Burhan Wani’s too” – has also found prominent place in the Pakistani media.17 Over the past week, the Pakistani media has used the death of Burhan Wani to drive the message to local and international audiences that Kashmiri support is firmly with Pakistan.
Pakistan’s role in cultivating, grooming and nurturing Kashmiri militants needs no elaboration. Reports suggest that Hafiz Saeed mooted the idea of using social media extensively in order to fuel anti-India sentiments in the Valley. The Jamaat-ud-Dawa/Lashkar-e-Taiba has several well trained social media cells across Pakistan. Hafiz Saeed has been working extensively on these cells to defy a ban imposed on the JuD’s media coverage in Pakistan. These cells have been used under the umbrella of several front organisations such as Difa-e-Pakistan Council and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation Pakistan.18 The symbiotic relationship between JuD and HM often extends to training and motivating cadres, and it is conceivable that social media initiatives by young militants like Burhan Wani not only gained approval but also support from these groups. The ‘virtual’ war was an innovative weapon, which could be used separately but in a syncretic way with the Hurriyat Council and the older Kashmiri leaders. Online messaging, while very effective in opinion creation, gained extra traction in Kashmir due to the prevailing disenchantment with the political elite. According to officials dealing with counter-insurgency, this helped an HM cadre like Burhan Wani, with no real militant credentials, to quickly gain iconic status. They also opine that he was a ‘Pakistani trap’, which the Indian security agencies fell into.19
Pakistan is trying to maintain the anti-Indian tempo generated by Burhan Wani’s killing by keeping a firm hold on the activities of the HM. The Hizb command Council met on July 12 under the chairmanship of the outfit’s supreme commander, Syed Salahuddin, at Muzaffarabad in PoK and decided to appoint Mehmood Ghaznavi to replace Burhan Wani as the new HM commander in Kashmir.20 Ghaznavi is an unknown militant who has not got a photograph of himself in the public domain, and is not immediately recognisable as an associate of Wani’s. Simultaneously, the group has appointed Sabzar Ahmad, @‘Sab Don’, son of Ghulam Hassan Bhat, resident of Ruthsana in Tral, as the new commander of one of its wings in south Kashmir. Sabzar Ahmad was a close associate and childhood friend of Burhan Wani, and joined HM in 2015 after Burhan Wani’s older brother, Khalid, was killed. He was seen by the public in Wani’s funeral, and is reported to be aware of his contacts across the LoC. He is known to be very tech savvy, and had contributed extensively to Burhan Wani’s media outreach. He is supposed to have uploaded the photographs of the Burhan Wani group on the internet.21 The HM will be able to fill the vacuum created by Wani’s death with comparative ease, using Sabzar Ahmad, and maintain overall control via an unknown/unidentified commander like Mehmood Ghaznavi.
Burhan Wani has certainly changed the dynamics of militancy in Kashmir. Though Omar Abdullah, Hafeez Saeed, and Syed Salahuddin sent tweets condemning his killing, none attended his funeral, which was actually marked by a groundswell of public support, especially among the youth. Sustained publicity is being given to young casualties, including feeds that over a hundred have been shot in the eyes. Pakistan-based terrorists have been feasting on these images, and spewing venom about the excesses of the Indian State. Hafiz Saeed’s Twitter handle @hafizsaeedlive was suspended by Twitter following reports by Indian security agencies that it was being used to incite violence in Kashmir.22 Now, the suspension issue is being used by the JuD to generate Tweets from various supporters that the United States of America supports India in the latter’s oppression of Kashmir, emphasising thereby that Pakistan was the only recourse left for the Kashmiri people. This was the line adopted by Pakistan in the UN on July 13, but which found little support from the international community. At home, however, New Delhi has to contend with a restive Kashmir which has been exposed to sustained online rabble rousing. Hence, while the security forces will certainly bring order to the situation sooner rather than later, the endemic issues of disaffection and alienation in Kashmir need urgent redressal.
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1. Piyasree Dasgupta, “Who Was Burhan Wani And Why Is Kashmir Mourning Him?” Huffington Post, July 11, 2016, available at huffingtonpost.in/burhan-wani/who-was-burhan-wani-and-why-is-kashmir-mourning-him
2. M. Saleem Pandit and Aarti Tikoo Singh, Times of India, July 9, 2016, available at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/srinagar/Tech-savvy-face-of-terror-in-Kashmir-killed-in-gunfight/articleshow/53124417.cms
3. Animesh Roul, Militant Leadership Monitor, Volume VI, Issue 12, December 2015.
4. Video of Hizbul Mujahideen’s Commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani asked Kashmiri youth, September 12, 2015, available at dailymotion
5. Saleem Pandit & Tikoo Singh, Note 2.
6. Basharat Masood, “Burhan warns of attacks on Sainik colonies,” Indian Express, June 8, 2016, available at http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/hizbul-mujahideen-burhan-wani-sainik-colonies-attack-threat-2840331/
7. “JK Police on target in valley; Mob thrashes officer’s wife, daughter,” Daily Hunt, July 13, 2016, available at http://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/english/u4uvoice-epaper-uvoice/jk-police-on-target-in-valley-mob-thrashes-officers-wife-daughter-newsid-55463372
8. Yusuf Jameel, “The story of prayers pelters and politics,” Asian Age, July 15, 2016, available at http://www.asianage.com/india/story-prayers-pelters-and-politics-019
9. Puneet Gupta, “A truth about Burhan Wani that no one speaks but everyone knows,” Daily Hunt, July 9, 2016, available at http://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/english/u4uvoice-epaper-uvoice/a-truth-about-burhan-wani-that-no-one-speaks-but-everyone-knows-newsid-55331033
10. Sandipan Sharma, “Burhan Wani: Indian state making a mistake understanding Kashmiri psyche,” First Post, July 11, 2016, available at http://www.firstpost.com/india/burhan-wani-indian-state-making-a-mistake-understanding-kashmiri-psyche-2887048.html
11. Harinder Baweja, “Kashmir’s Disturbing New Reality,” Hindustan Times, available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/static/the-young-militants-of-kashmir/index.html
12. Ibid
13. David Devdas, “LeT commander Abu Qasim’s killing: Police claim big victory, but attendance at funeral reflects sobering reality,” First Post, October 31, 2015, available at http://www.firstpost.com/india/let-leader-abu-qasims-killing-cops-claim-big-victory-but-attendance-at-funeral-reflects-sobering-reality-2489990.html
14. Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar, “If the Government Listened, Kashmir Would Be Different, Say Former Interlocutors,” The Wire, July 12, 2016, available at http://thewire.in/50815/kashmir-burhan-wani-2008-2016
15. “Kashmir buries its young armed resistance leader Burhan Wani among tears,” Times of Islamabad, July 9, 2016, available at https://timesofislamabad.com/kashmir-buries-its-young-armed-resistance-leader-burhan-wani-among-tears/2016/07/09/
16. “Kashmir buries its young armed resistance leader Burhan Wani among tears,” July 9, 2016, available at http://defence.pk/threads/kashmir-buries-its-young-armed-resistance-leader-burhan-wani-among-tears.438497/
17. “Umar Khalid praises Burhan Wani,” Greater Kashmir, July 10, 2016, available at greaterkashmir.com/news/india/umar-khalid-praises-burhan-wani/222616
18. Siddharth Tiwari, India Today, July 10, 2016, available at http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/hafiz-saeed-and-syed-salhuddins-unholy-alliance-behind-kashmir-unrest/1/711837.html
19. Aarti Tikoo Singh, Times of India, July 12, 2016, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Who-was-the-real-Burhan-Wani-paper-tiger-or-Indian-agent/articleshow/53163220.cms
20. Fayaz Wani, “After Burhan’s death, Hizb appoints Ghaznavi as new commander,” New Indian Express, July 12, 2016, available at http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/After-Burhans-death-Hizb-appoints-Ghaznavi-as-new-commander/2016/07/12/article3526076.ece
21. Ashraf Wani, “From failed lover to terror chief: Meet Hizbul’s new poster boy in Kashmir,” India Today, July 12, 2016, http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/failed-lover-to-terror-chief-meet-hizbuls-new-poster-boy/1/713490.html
22. Rahul Tripathi, “The official Twitter account of Hafiz Saeed suspended,” Economic Times, July 15, 2016, available at http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/53207063.cms?from=mdr&utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

Checkmate

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Major Gaurav Arya

Indian Army (Retd.)

 
 
 
Yesterday evening, as I parked my car in front of gate no. 9 and walked into South Block (Indian Army Headquarters), I looked up at the grey-golden New Delhi sky. I tried hard to see if Pakistani nuclear warheads were slamming into the ground and if Chinese paratroopers were really landing atop Rashtrapati Bhawan. I saw neither. I shrugged my shoulders, smiled, and walked inside AHQ for that obligatory cup of black coffee (always without sugar), and the much-needed camaraderie. I found both. The Indian Army never disappoints.
Now that we have crossed the Rubicon, that much vaunted Line of Control, caused havoc, and come back without any casualties, it is time to put things in perspective. This is a time to celebrate, but it is also a time to be on top alert. Pakistan will hit back, as sure as night follows day. And we are ready.
To those who doubted our ability and resolve, you may want to reconsider your opinion about the Indian Army. I hope we have given you enough faith to go by. We are not Seal Team 6. We are Indian Army Special Forces. This is our backyard. We are better.
To those armchair strategists who cried hoarse and created absolute panic about Pakistani tactical nuclear warheads, China’s response, CPEC, Russia and everything between Mongolia and Disneyland, please take a deep breath and relax. There are no Pakistani induced mushroom clouds over Delhi. And there are no Chinese paratroopers. In fact, there is almost no reaction from China.
And finally, to those who believed in the Indian Army, my heartfelt gratitude. Thank you for believing in us. We have never let you down. Your faith means enough for us to die for. This is your army.
We went into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and created merry hell. This was a purely anti-terror operation. We tried to keep our focus and avoid collateral damage. The only Pakistan Army soldiers who were killed were those that came in the way. How many terrorists were killed? Your guess is as good as mine. The media may give you figures of 35-40 terrorists and 9 Pakistan Army regulars, but these are guesstimates. Our boys were busy killing, not counting.
For over a week, the targets were under surveillance of our intelligence agencies. Based on intelligence inputs, the SF teams and some elements of infantry (commando platoons, mostly Ghatak) rehearsed for this operation and then, at a moment of their choosing, infiltrated (parachuted) into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. They completed their mission and ex-filtrated back into our own area.
All praise to the Special Forces and other specialized elements that carried out this operation. It was textbook perfect. Such an operation requires, apart from meticulous planning and a very high level of training, nerves of steel and sinews of iron.
I am a soldier and totally apolitical, as all soldiers are. But credit must be given where it is due. Prime Minister Modi displayed remarkable courage. He first cornered Pakistan diplomatically and economically, and when the time was right, he ordered the Indian Army to smash them militarily. All bases covered. As the old saying goes “ek chaal, sheh aur maat”. Checkmate.
Pakistan Army denies that such an incident took place. Smart move. If you admit that it did, you will have a tough time explaining to a war-induced, hysterical populace, how this happened. And the next question will be – how do you plan to retaliate? For an institution that has gobbled up much of Pakistan’s scarce wealth in the last 70 years, such a situation has embarrassed them. Modi has not made Pakistan Army bleed as much as he has, in full public view, taken off their khaki trousers. The Pakistani Army is not dealing with hurt. It is dealing with shame.
Khwaja Asif, Pakistan’s motor mouth defence minister, who till yesterday was threatening nuclear war, is suddenly at a loss for words. Brought up to believe that Indians don’t have it in them, he seems a defeated man, shoulders drooping.
And ISPR, that media house of all media houses, and the official mouthpiece of the Pakistan Army is oddly silent. No more aggressive tweets from Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa.
There will be a grand meeting tomorrow at GHQ, Rawalpindi and all will be held to account in the court of Emperor Raheel Sharif. More F16s will land on highways and some more Pakistani politicians will threaten nuclear war. The passes will close in a few months, and before that, Jihadis must be pushed into India. This will be a long winter.
There are troubling times ahead. Pakistan will not lie down and die. It will retaliate. We are vigilant on the border. We will not let an Uri happen again.
To the families of the brave heart martyrs of Uri I say, “Sleep well tonight. We have avenged our brothers”.
Congratulations, India.
 

Cold Start

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Major Gaurav Arya

Indian Army (Retd.)

 
 
 
It was an unusually warm afternoon in the autumn of 1935. Adolf Hitler sat under a tent, faithful Guderian seated next to him, reviewing maneuvers of tanks and armored vehicles, on the plains of Kummersdorf. Every now and then, he would glance at Heinz Wilhelm Guderian’s classic “Achtung Panzer”, the tank man’s Bible.
It was early evening when Hitler suddenly rose from his chair. Guderian got up, unsure of what was going on inside Hitler’s mind. Hitler could be extremely temperamental. He looked at Guderian and keeping his hand on his shoulder in an unusually familiar gesture, he said looking at the rolling tanks, “That is what I want – and that is what I will have.”
German strategic thinking had evolved from the writings of Carl Von Clausewitz, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder and Alfred von Schlieffen. But it was the defeat in the First World War and the humiliating Treaty of Versailles that violently changed German thinking. This violent change brought with it anti-Semitism, National Socialism and a spiritual connect with ancient Rome. In 1933, it catapulted Adolf Hitler to power. The Nazi Party was a one-man dictatorship and drew heavily from the Prussian (German) military masters. When Hitler started rearmament in direct contravention of the Treaty of Versailles, his vision was the Alfred von Schlieffen’s ‘Schlieffen Plan’ and Guderian model of warfare; heavy concentration of armor, fast moving infantry, total air superiority and mass deployment of mobile artillery. Hitler had a galaxy of military geniuses with him – Guderian, Schmidt, Model, Manstien, Rundstedt, Goering, Rommel and many more.
On 1 September 1939 Germany invaded Poland. So swift and brutal was the assault that the world could only stare awestruck. This was Blitzkrieg, Germany’s “lightning war”. Europe fell to Blitzkrieg and it was this “lightening war” that saw Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the USSR. Blitzkrieg was knocking at the doors of Moscow. The Germans never officially used the word Blitzkrieg. Most denied its existence. But the world understood it for what it really was. In the words of the immortal Maj. Gen. JFC Fuller of the British Army “Speed, and still more speed, and always speed was the secret, and that demanded audacity, more audacity and always audacity.”
India went down a similar path. For too long, we had adopted a defensive posture. Our methods were too straitjacketed and hidebound. Unknown to many of our own generals at Army HQ in New Delhi, the Indian Army’s Sundarji Doctrine of warfare was about to collapse.
On 13 December 2001, five Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists armed with AK 47s, grenade launchers, pistols and explosives attacked the Indian Parliament. Nine Indians (Delhi Police, Parliament Security and a gardener) were martyred in the attack. All five terrorists were killed. India responded by trying its hand at coercive diplomacy and launched Operation Parakram. For months, both the Indian and Pakistan Armies stood eyeball to eyeball at the border.
India could have seized the initiative. India could have done so much more than just sitting at the border for months. But it did not. The holding Corps of the Indian army were ready for battle in 72-96 hours. The three Strike Corps (I, II and XXI Corps) based in Mathura, Ambala and Bhopal respectively, took over three weeks to mobilize and reach their operational areas. And by the time they reached the Pakistan border, Gen. Pervez Musharraf had gone on national TV in Pakistan to condemn the attack on the Indian Parliament and promise that Pakistan’s territory would not be used as a base for terror. The US intervened and put tremendous pressure on India not to launch attacks on Pakistan. Musharraf reduced India’s political justification for war, to zero.
There is a certain “national mood” for war. And there is a certain momentum. India failed to capitalize on both counts. Both the armies went back to their barracks, with nothing to show for it.
Indian military thinkers came to the conclusion that the entire Sundarji Doctrine was flawed. You could not have holding Corps in a defending role at the border and attacking Corps deep inside Indian Territory. It was too cumbersome, unwieldy and slow. 21st Century wars required lightening fast reflexes. India needed its army’s attack elements to cross over into Pakistan much faster. We needed to reduce the mobilization time from 21 days to 48 hours. In many ways, we needed to do what Germany did in Poland on 1 September 1939.
The template was probably the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Israel fought a vicious six-day war against Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. And Israel won against a numerically superior enemy, fighting on different fronts. Israel won because they understood that surprise, speed, ferocity and deception win wars. Whether it was neutralizing the enemy air force when it was on ground, lightening armor thrusts through lightly defended gaps or the use of paratroopers, Israel fought like a nation possessed.
The concept of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War possibly became the core of the new Indian Army warfare doctrine. There were other operations like Desert Storm and Desert Shield, which were dissected, threadbare. This new doctrine stressed on fast moving Integrated Battle Groups, duly supported by the Air Force and Navy. It conceived a war fighting method that would catapult India into full-fledged battle in 48 hours. Someone likened it to an automobile engine, which did not need warming up before moving, an engine that could start at ambient temperature.
So, they called it Cold Start.
Cold Start is India’s new war doctrine, which envisions a conventional conflict in the shadow of Pakistan’s nuclear capability and its willingness to use WMDs if threatened. Unlike the Sundarji Doctrine, which was based on massive retaliation and dismembering of Pakistan, Cold Start has different ambitions. It acknowledges the possibility of a limited war and seeks to take advantage of it. Former Chief of Army Staff Gen. V.P. Malik states, “Space exists between proxy war/low-intensity conflict and a nuclear umbrella within which a limited conventional war is a distinct possibility.”
Cold Start is based on the premise that (even) Pakistan has a nuclear threshold. It will not use nuclear weapons in retaliation before that threshold has been reached.
Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) will form the core of this strategy. And the strategy is based on speed, audacity, overwhelming firepower, superior planning and total surprise. IBGs will largely comprise of heavy and fast moving armor, mechanized infantry, artillery and other firepower elements of the army duly supported by Air Force assets like fighter jets and helicopter gunships. In certain cases, the Indian Navy will close-support these IBGs.
These IBGs may be based in Jammu in J&K, Amritsar and Moga in Punjab and Suratgarh, Bikaner, Barmer, Jaisalmer and Palanpur in Rajasthan.
IBGs, eight in number and each the size of a division, will make lightening thrusts inside Pakistan, going in 55-80 kilometers. The holding (pivot) corps will carry out limited offensive strikes, while maintaining their defensive posture. Cold Start seeks to attack multiple objectives simultaneously. It is believed that Pakistan’s command and control & decision making structure will come under severe pressure in such a scenario.
The aim is to seriously degrade Pakistan’s will to fight, inflict severe damage to its war-fighting infrastructure and disrupt their decision-making capabilities.
Having stated the obvious, it is now time to reflect on a strategy and have related objectives that our policymakers think are achievable by military force. Cold Start may not cleave Pakistan into half, but it has the sheer capability to cause extreme damage, both physically and psychologically. The Pakistanis know this.
This brings us to two questions that our policymakers must address. One, how do we contain this conflict? All wars have a soul of their own, and amongst the drumbeats and hysteria, its very possible for the government of the day to come under pressure and expand the scope of the conflict. Two, how can we stop it from going nuclear? If either of these two things were to happen, Cold Start would have failed to meet its objectives. The Pakistanis know this, too.
It will be in the interest of Pakistan to exponentially increase the scope of conflict. They would want it to spiral out of control so that the distinct possibility of a nuclear conflict can horrify the world. Pakistan bases all its adventures on this one fact, and it’s a good policy, too. No country wants two nuclear powers to go to war. Ever since John von Neumann coined the term Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), a theory based on the assumption that in the event of a nuclear war, both belligerents will cease to be functional nation states; MAD has been accepted at face value.
So, Pakistan pushes the MAD envelope. India sees Cold Start as a highly effective strategy in the niche grey area between the first terror strike sponsored by Pakistan and MAD.
“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”, noted Helmuth von Moltke the Elder. Simply stated, however much planning and detailing you do, Plan A will be so much candyfloss in a desert storm. This brings us to the importance of initiative at the local commander level. The problem with initiative is that the senior commanders have to let go. It is still debatable if that is wise, in such high intensity operations being conducted under the shadow of nuclear war. However, like in all wars, in this case too, devolution will be decided immediately after the first contact with the enemy.
All war is based on Murphy’s Law, which states, “If anything can go wrong, it will”. Funny? Yes. True? Also yes.
Pakistan is geographically narrow, with a length of approximately 1000 miles but an average width of not more than 300 miles. If you were a tourist driving an SUV, unhindered, you could start at Jaisalmer after an early 7 am breakfast, stop over for a late lunch at Quetta, Balochistan at 3 pm and be in Spin Buldak, Afghanistan by 6 pm. You would need to refuel your vehicle only on reaching Afghanistan.
Now you understand why Pakistan is terrified. And now you understand why Pakistan has ignited insurgencies in Punjab (Khalistan movement) and Kashmir. It is always looking for that elusive mirage of strategic depth because wars need land to fight. Pakistan does not have land. But the next best thing is influence. Influence in Kashmir and Punjab give it depth and fifth columnists, Indians who will support Pakistan in times of war. Lack of land is the reason why Pakistan always attacks India first, because it makes better tactical sense to fight a war on someone else’s land. Imagine a scenario in which India’s 3 Strike Corps penetrate deep into Pakistan. Then, it’s either nuclear war or goodbye Pakistan.
Some experts claim that Cold Start is still in the experimental stages. That’s not true. It may not have been battle tested because that needs a war, but for the past 12 years the Indian Army has been honing it to a fine edge.
In March 2004, the Indian Army first demonstrated the various aspects of Cold Start in a war game called Operation Divya Astra (Divine Weapon). The aim was to deliver a potent and fatal strike into the heart of Pakistan. The location of the exercise was the famous Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan, approximately 75 kms from the Pakistan border. The scenario comprised of Army and Air Force elements penetrating fixed enemy fortifications. It was a mechanized assault supported by artillery and ground attack aircraft.
In May 2005, the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force launched a joint exercise in Jalandhar area, about 75 kms from the Pakistan border. The exercise was called Operation Vajra Shakti (Thunder Power). In nine days of simulated attacks and counter-attacks, the Indian Forces were able to penetrate 30 kms into enemy territory and set the stage for the Strike Corps for follow-on deep penetration attacks.
Just six months later, the Indian Army launched Operation Desert Strike in Rajasthan’s Thar area. The aim of this war game was two fold. One, to synergize XXI Corps with the Indian Air Force, and two, to defeat an enemy (Pakistan) using preemption, dislocation and disruption. 25,000 troops took part in this exercise, which deployed fast moving armor, paratroopers dropping behind enemy lines, fighter aircraft and helicopter gunships of the Indian Air Force.
May 2006 saw the Indian Army launch Operation Sangh Shakti (Joint Power). This exercise was in many ways a sequel to the May 2005 Operation Vajra Shakti. Ambala based II Corps was the focus of this major exercise. 1 Armored Division, 14 Rapid Division and 22ndInfantry Division war-gamed a scenario in which a lightening thrust through the Cholistan Desert would cleave Pakistan in half. An interesting fact about this exercise was that for the first time the Indian Army dropped the pretense of using the code name Red Land for Pakistan and Blue Land for India. The enemy was Pakistan and the operational brief to the Corps Commander II Corps was to attack Pakistan and break it into two.
The fifth major exercise designed to test and put Cold Start through its paces was launched in May 2007 in the Rajasthan desert. It was called Operation Ashwamedh.
I Strike Corps tested its network-centric warfare strategy. In a typical “fog of war” scenario, Operation Ashwamedh was designed to slingshot I Strike Corp into battle. With helicopter gunships providing cover, armored columns moved at unheard of speeds into “enemy” territory. Paratroopers, mechanized infantry units, artillery and infantry provided the thrust. Operation Ashwamedh was an out-and-out offense war game. For one week, night and day, the entire I Corps was the hammer and Pakistan was the anvil. The Indian Air Force provided tactical and close air support.
At a tertiary level, a few important capabilities were tested across these exercises. Night fighting capabilities, fighting in built up areas (FIBUA), special forces deep penetration strikes etc were tested simultaneously. For example in Operation Divya Astra, combat engineers bridged a 60-meter wide canal, all in 30 minutes. This bridge was capable of supporting tanks and armor.
Operation Ashwamedh met all its war objectives. Speed was required and so was audacity. I Corps delivered on both requirements, impressively. And I Corps moved at “supernatural speed”.
The lessons learnt from these war games were imbibed and improved upon again in 2012 during Operations Shoor Veer and Rudra Akrosh, and in 2016 during Operation Shatrujeet.
The big win in these exercises, apart from other critical parameters, was network centricity. Indian commanders seemed at ease with the latest global technology, and real-time intelligence gathered through satellite imagery and UAVs reduced decision making time, helping the commanders be as flexible as the situation demanded.
The big loss was inter-services coordination. It still is.
A war doctrine is effective only as long as it achieves its stated objectives. Simply put, the objectives of Cold Start are to damage and degrade Pakistan’s war machine and severely disrupt its decision-making ability.
Pakistan has nothing to counter Cold Start with. The best they have been able to come up with are tactical nuclear devices; small nuclear weapons which can be used against advancing IBGs. But Pakistan feels that the world will understand the use of tactical nuclear weapons because they will be used on the Indian Army but inside Pakistan’s territory.
We must always keep in mind that whatever we do, Pakistan’s first response will always be to exponentially and immediately expand the scope of the conflict.
That is the flexibility Cold Start must have, to be a scalpel when needed and a broadsword when it must.
Mjölnir, the legendary hammer of Norse legend had the power to level mountains. But the person wielding it had to be worthy. That was the only condition. Cold Start is fearsome in its potential for sudden destruction, but our policymakers must be absolutely certain, beyond a shadow of doubt, what they wish from this divine hammer.
As the legendary inscription on Mjölnir declares, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor”.
The next major terror attack will come, and as always, from Pakistan’s soil. That much is certain. There is no stopping it. What will be the construct of our retaliation is a question we must ask ourselves.
Till then, the hammer waits.
 

Budget 2019: Indian diplomacy needed a shot in the arm but budget flatters to deceive

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Anil Wadhwa
Indian Foreign Service & GCTC Executive Board Member

 
 

Union Budget 2019 India: Analysis reveals some notable facts: the MEA budget, from being close to 0.1% of India’s GDP in 2012-13, declined to 0.08% in 2018-19.
Union Budget 2019 India: As the stature of India rises internationally, its diplomacy, implemented through the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), needs a higher budget outlay for the projection of its geo-strategic objectives, win friends for much needed technology and investments at home, create a peaceful environment for uninterrupted growth, promote its exports and create favourable conditions for its businesses abroad. Despite limited resources at its disposal, the MEA has done a commendable job in fulfilling its objectives. In the recent budget, Rs 17,884.78 Crores has been earmarked for the MEA for 2019-20, an increase of Rs 2873.78 crore over the previous fiscal year when the allocation was Rs 15,011 crore against which the Ministry spent Rs 15, 582 crores. This is also an increase over the interim budget for the Ministry which was 16, 061 Crores. The budget head of “Aid to countries” has seen an increase of Rs 2037.79 crores – from Rs 5,545 Crores in 2018-19 to Rs 7,582.79 Crores in 2019-20. Notably, this increase of nearly 15% for the MEA has come after several years of a stagnant or shrinking budget.

Serve with Honour

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Major Gaurav Arya

Indian Army (Retd.)

 
 
 
Dear Officers,
On 10 September this year, 249 of you (217 Gentlemen Cadets and 32 Lady Cadets) stepped over the “Antim Pag”, slow marching to the soulful Auld Lang Syne. At the majestic Parmeshwaran Parade Ground, you were accorded a unique privilege. You passed out of OTA Chennai, commissioned into the Indian Army as officers under the benign gaze of your Supreme Commander, the President of India. Addressing you, the Supreme Commander said, “A billion hopes rest on your young and brave shoulders”. Truer words have not been uttered.
You have been through Indian Army training. That’s just hell by another name. Give yourselves a pat on the back. You are a survivor.
As an old soldier, I would like to share a few thoughts with you. I hope these will find a corner in your hearts.

  1. Your first loyalty is to India and its constitution. Mother India chooses its bravest daughters and sons to guard her honor. You have walked on fire to get those stars on your shoulders. Many a time during training, you may have wanted to quit. You did not. You are made of different molecules.
  2. Your unit/ regiment is your family. You will live and die for India but you will live and die with your unit. This bond is unbreakable, even in death. You will be remembered for eternity.
  3. Spend time with your troops. Get to know them. This is the brotherhood of Olive Green. You are their leader. If you are worthy, they will march with you to the very gates of hell. Remember the legend of martyr Lance Naik Hanumanthappa? Sometimes, it is possible for mortals to challenge the gods. Many of those mortals wear OG.
  4. Train, learn and read. That is the only way to succeed in the Indian Army. All of you, without exception, should be scholar warriors. Read military history, read the future of warfare and read just about anything that you can get your hands on. Absorb knowledge. It will stand you in good stead.
  5. Till the time you are a lieutenant, except breach of integrity, all sins are forgiven. Take advantage of this unwritten rule. Make mistakes but don’t stop learning. You have carte blanche.
  6. When things go wrong, step forward and take responsibility. When things go right, step back and let your team take the credit.
  7. The religion of your troops is your religion. If you are a Malyalee and posted into the Sikh Regiment, you will go to the Gurudwara. If you are a Muslim and your troops are Hindu, you will worship at a temple. And if you are a Hindu and your troops are Christian, you will kneel in church. If you see a Sikh in a mosque with a Quran, this is the Indian Army.
  8. Your background is immaterial. Rich or poor, Hindu or Muslim, this caste or that, the Indian Army just does not care. We are in the business of killing the enemies of the state and protecting the nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Only merit counts. If there are any considerations other than merit, it will mean compromising on national security and that is something the Indian Army will NEVER do.
  9. The uniform that you wear comes with the blessings of a billion Indians. You are trusted because the Indian Army is trusted. This trust cannot be broken, irrespective of consequence. Do whatever needs to be done to maintain this trust because this trust is sacred. A covenant with India is a covenant with God.
  10. You will have more privileges than the soldiers you command. But when orders are given to flush out terrorists from a house in Kashmir, remember you will be the first one to smash through that door. You will make the first kill. Or take the first bullet on your chest. You will never give orders to attack. You will always say “FOLLOW ME”. That is the officer’s creed. This is your article of faith.

It is important that you understand that we are not only a powerful army. We are also a moral army. We are not strong because we have weapons. We are strong because we are right.
I wish you the very best and I hope you have an exciting and fulfilling life.
Go forth and Serve With Honour.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
 

The China Factor in RCEP

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After seven years of negotiations, the 16 participating states in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement issued a statement on 4 November 2019 at Bangkok, conveying that 15 of the participating states had concluded text-based negotiations on 20 chapters of the agreement and will proceed to sign this agreement in 2020.
The statement mentioned that India has significant outstanding issues, which remain unresolved and that all RCEP participating countries will work together to resolve these outstanding issues in a mutually satisfactory way. India’s final decision, the statement read, “will depend on satisfactory resolution of these issues”. The Indian delegation issued a separate statement, stating that it had decided not to join the RCEP since it did not receive any “credible assurance on market access and non-tariff barriers”. A statement by the Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on 5 November revealed that there were at least 70 outstanding issues in the negotiations, of which 50 pertained to India.
Comprising half of the world’s population and accounting for nearly 40% of global commerce and 35% of GDP, the RCEP could have become the world’s largest free trade area, with India being the third largest economy had it been a part of it. This, however, was not to be. Not surprisingly, many ASEAN countries, and Japan, Australia and New Zealand have expressed views that India should be part of it. ASEAN, by tradition, has favoured diverse partnerships, and in the current scenario India would have become an additional large trading partner along with China.
Leading up to the negotiations, at least eight different industry sectors had expressed apprehension about the utility of the agreement for India, there was opposition from other political parties, and a division amongst the think tank community in India. The difficult state of the Indian economy, and stagnation in Indian exports added to the pessimistic solution. It does seem that Indian negotiators put forth their points forcefully, but the crucial issues for India kept getting pushed right till the end without resolution. This shows the divergence of positions between India and the rest of the participating states.
Reports suggest that India also brought in additional issues into the negotiations over the last two rounds after further evaluation of the impact that the RCEP in its current form could have on the Indian economy. Given these circumstances, staying out was a logical option for India. The statement by the Prime Minister at the RCEP meeting stated, “India has been proactively, constructively, and meaningfully engaged in the RCEP negotiations since inception”, but the draft RCEP agreement “did not fully reflect the basic spirit and the agreed guiding principles of RCEP” even as it did “not address satisfactorily India’s outstanding issues and concerns”.
Wang Shou Wen, Vice Commerce Minister and a top Chinese trade negotiator, said on 5 November that China and the 14 other member states respected India had outstanding concerns, but member states were prepared to work together to address them. “We must together with India, work hard to solve these problems. And India must decide on the basis of this resolution whether to enter into the agreement”, he said. Wang did not elaborate on India’s points of contention, but he said they were not just with China. He added that the current member states would settle the “very few remaining questions” around market access before the end of the year.
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, speaking on 5 November noted that “should the other countries come up with better offers in the interests of India’s industry and people, we will discuss it and do what is good for our farmers, industry, and the services sector”. Prima facie, this seems like an option, but in reality, to expect Indian concerns to be resolved within the legal scrubbing phase of the RCEP text, seems difficult unless there is a concerted effort made by the rest of the RCEP partners. This will also mean that the rest of the RCEP participating states will have to agree to reconvene negotiations with India since individual negotiations at this stage is not a feasible option. Even though India is a large market, and even if this market may be important for countries like China as it faces difficulties in its trade and investments with the United States, the process outlined above seems extremely difficult to get under way again for India’s sake.
What actually led to this situation and what were the main sticking points? At a time of escalating Sino-US trade tensions, China was particularly keen to see a successful conclusion of the RCEP negotiations and had been vigorously pushing for this outcome. But that also became the primary problem for India. The US and others have pointed out that over the years China has circumvented many WTO rules to its advantage on tariffs, market access, and subsidizing its state-owned enterprises and currency manipulation – all these issues have become contentious in the current round of trade conflict with the United States.
For India, a circumvention of international trade and investment rules to reorganize its domestic market is not possible in a democratic and transparent set up of governance and neither would it like to embark on that route. Other than China, some of the other RCEP partners with whom India has large trade deficits have become major investors, offsetting trade losses. In the case of China, India today is staring at a total of $750 billion trade deficit over the past 10 years, while investments into India from China amount to a paltry $8 billion in investments from that country. While India runs trade deficits with at least 11 of the 15 RCEP members, China alone accounts for $53 billion of India’s $105 billion trade deficit with these countries.
Analysts have pointed out that the RCEP agreement with its present text would leave the door open for China to circumvent rules of origin to enter in bigger margins into the Indian market. While there are reports that with China, the tariff reduction percentages offered by India would have been marginally lower than the rest of the partners, and there are also unconfirmed reports about an understanding with the Chinese on phasing out tariff reductions over 5-20 years depending on the product. A duty reduction of 80-90% on tariff lines under the agreement – it was feared – would have meant a drastic effect on dairy, marine and textiles sectors. In the absence of a strong chapter on rules of origin and dispute settlement mechanism or a strict investment regime, (so that companies investing in India would procure a certain percentage of input materials locally), intellectual property rights, as well as inimical rules on data sharing, the agreement would have been lop sided for India. China would have gained a lot of access in chemicals, pharmaceuticals and plastics, iron and steel and non-ferrous metals. This, it was feared, could have an effect on jobs, as well as small and medium enterprises.
India’s demands at the RCEP negotiations, therefore, were made with China fully in mind – and included a demand for shifting the base year for tariff cuts from 2014 to 2019 since it has raised tariffs on as many as 3500 products since 2014 mainly to guard against Chinese goods flooding the Indian market. India also wanted to avoid a sudden surge in imports from China, Australia and New Zealand by including a larger number of items in an auto trigger mechanism which would kick in higher tariffs above a threshold. India called for stricter rules of origin to prevent dumping into the Indian market through third counties in RCEP by China, establishing credible mechanism to address non–tariff measures through agreed equivalence, protocols, and similar mechanism to improve meaningful market access, and a better deal in services – especially movement of people under Mode 4 – which hardly found support in the RCEP negotiations. Indian concerns stemmed from the large trade deficit with the ASEAN and China, and fears that unless these demands were me, India will become a dumping ground for cheap imports from the RCEP partners, primarily China. India’s experience with Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) has been much less than expectations, with a NITI Ayog report pointing out that FTA utilization was in the 5% to 25% range.
India’s Act East Policy has been appreciated in the region. But its record on connectivity projects is inferior compared to the speed and scale of implementation of similar projects by China. ASEAN and the other RCEP partners would therefore prefer to see a greater Indian security and economic presence in the region. In that respect, India’s absence from RCEP will leave the field open to China, put into question India’s credibility and ability to deliver on projects in the Indo-Pacific, and will affect its trade and investments with the RCEP partners. Remaining outside RCEP will have an adverse impact on exports to the RCEP members, who will enjoy lower tariffs within the grouping – India’s existing FTAs with ASEAN, Japan and Republic of Korea notwithstanding. It would also mean that RCEP Members will be seen as better investment destinations, being part of larger grouping with market access within the group. The focus on an important policy option for improving competitiveness (trade policy reform which must complement improving cost and timeliness of transactions and policy response) will be put off at least in the short term, and India will not benefit from a framework of disciplines and collaborative solutions that would apply to China. Both geo-politically and geo-economically, China now looks to dominate the Indo–Pacific, and that is the reason why countries like Japan and Singapore are now suggesting that they would work towards a deal which includes India.
In the long run, however, India needs to be part of RCEP. This will facilitate FDI in manufacturing in India as RCEP will allow access to the Chinese and other 14 countries who will be part of RCEP. The fear of being swamped by Chinese goods can only be mitigated by making Indian economy and manufacturing efficient, reforming agriculture, promulgating new labour laws, bringing down the cost of capital and time and costs of business transactions, reducing deficit financing, rationalization of indirect taxes and levies, reducing bottlenecks, and improving logistics. India needs a road map and time frame within which to make structural changes and join RCEP, thereby deriving benefit from the agreement. Like the other participating states in the RCEP negotiations, India will need to improve transaction costs, and improve its position on indices such as ease of doing business.
Participation in RCEP will promote formation of supply chains and will provide access to mutual recognition agreements. While making these preparations, India will need to focus its attention on FTAs outside the grouping – e.g. Europe, USA or Africa. The CECA negotiations with Australia could be revived given the vast potential of trade and investments with that country. The existing FTAs with Asian, South Korea and Japan will need to be reviewed and made to work better to obtain a level playing field and to keep up the momentum in out Act East Policy. The stance of Indian negotiators on services needs to be reevaluated for the overall gains that insistence on Mode 4 access brings at the cost of strengthening of the three other modes under the services chapter where some of the RCEP partners are stronger. China’s use of ASEAN, particularly Singapore – where India has both FTAs and double taxation avoidance agreements (DTAAs) – as the route for dumping its low value products to India, though recognized, still continues unabated. Without an “origin of product’ clause in most of the FTAs signed by India, establishing the source of dumping remains difficult. With India insisting on such clause in the RCEP, it was also trying to plug this loophole.
That said, bilateral trade, investment and connectivity projects will have to be concentrated upon with ASEAN. India’s growing role in the Indo-Pacific demands that this engagement is maintained, and that eventually, when the India is ready, participation in RCEP reactivated.

The Virtual Summit between India and Australia: how Significant?

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Anil Wadhwa
Indian Foreign Service & GCTC Executive Board Member

 
 

Connected by the Indian Ocean, Commonwealth, the English language and shared democratic values, Australia has never loomed larger in the Indian consciousness than in the last decade. The relationship has seen its highs and lows but here has been a steady improvement in the quality and intensity of the political, commercial, cultural, educational and technological engagement between the two nations. The Indian diaspora, now close to 700,000 in a nation of just 25 million and the Indian student community which is close to 100,000, have ensured that Indians are the fastest growing community in Australia, and their views increasingly get reflected in the country’s democratic and popular political discourse.

Following a series of two – way bilateral Prime Ministerial visits starting in 2014, Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Morrison have met at least four times over the last year on the margins of international events. The visit by Australian PM could not take place in January due to the Australian bush fires, and then the Corona virus pandemic blew out the chances of a rescheduled visit in May. The urgency of business resulted in a Virtual Summit between PMs Modi and Morrison on 4 June, which was high in optics and is seen by many as an unqualified success. The Summit had an excellent atmosphere of friendship, trust and camaraderie, and it also had substance. The 2009 bilateral bilateral Strategic Partnership has been elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and both countries have decided to upgrade the existing 2 plus 2 dialogue between their foreign and defence secretaries to the ministerial level – meeting at least once every two years. This brings the process on par with the US and Japan – the other members of the quadrilateral grouping. Through the joint declaration on a shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo Pacific, a road map for maritime cooperation has been announced in the region, along with extended linkages between the maritime agencies, to harness opportunities and meet challenges together as Comprehensive Strategic partners.

There were seven concrete MOUs agreed upon – the much-awaited Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement has been signed which will allow use of each other’s facilities, and increase military interoperability through defence exercises. India has similar agreements with US, France, Singapore and South Korea. Both sides have also agreed to deepen and broaden defence cooperation by enhancing the scope and complexity of their military exercises to address shared security challenges. They will now be able to enjoy the resources of the other in the Indian and Pacific oceans interchangeably – and this, along with the enhanced maritime domain awareness will greatly enhance their capacities and capabilities.

An MOU on Defence Cooperation already exists between the two countries. An implementing arrangement to this MOU was finalized, which will take forward the agenda of technology-based cooperation in the defence field and will bring the defence research organization of the two countries closer. The areas already identified for such collaboration include advanced sensors, underwater technologies, quantum computing and cryptography laser technologies, hypersonic technologies, and technology cooperation in shipbuilding between Indian shipyards and Australian shipbuilding industries. PM Modi also conveyed that India is working on its Mars and Moon missions, and Australia can work with India in collaboration. Space situational activities, calibration and validation of satellite data sharing of meteorology and oceanographic data and establishment of ground stations in Australia are already identified areas of collaboration.

Both countries have seen a surge in financial transactions and use of personal data in digital transactions which attracts cybercrime. Although India and Australia have undertaken cyber collaborations for the past many years, they need to do much more in order to full fill each other’s needs and fill mutual gaps. Australia has rejected Huawei’s entry into the 5 G realm for its internal market applications, and has overhauled its telecommunications sector- the lessons learnt are of interest to India. The framework arrangement on cyber and cyber enabled critical technology cooperation was therefore an expected outcome.

India’s critical minerals strategy has identified 49 minerals required for lithium ion batteries, magnets and similar products which will be needed for India’s efforts towards e – mobility. India would welcome Australian companies to help in setting up processing facilities identified by Niti Ayog for lithium. The partnership in this area between the two countries promises much, because Australia possesses 21 minerals identified by India as critical for its future growth. The MOU on cooperation in the field of mining and processing of critical and strategic minerals will ensure a long-standing supply and investment relationship between the two countries in this area, and will ensure collaboration on new technologies for exploration and extraction of minerals.

The MOU on Cooperation in the field of Public Administration and Governance Reform is a vote of confidence in the way things are run in Australia. India and Australia both have accountable public institutions but India would like to benefit from Australia’s reforms in the public sector and the methodology of quality advice and effective implementation in public service. In future, this could extend also into the area of training and cooperation in processes.

The MOU on vocational education and training was very much on the cards. India’s demographic dividend of a young population can only be a powerful tool of progress if the workforce is trained and directed towards productive areas. Indian agencies like the Skills Development Council have therefore been engaged with a number of countries to ensure that this target of training 400,000 Indians by 2022 becomes a reality. Australia with its well-established Vocational Education System can collaborate across institutions and the private sector in India for developing skills, training curricula, and conducting workshops for raising the quality of trainers. Most importantly, Indian training institutions are looking for collaborations for raising Indian standards and gaining accreditation from Australian institutions and universities.

Water is a scarce commodity in both India and Australia, and the utilization, treatment, cleaning of water, training a community conversant with the skills of water recycling, preservation and its prudent management are the obvious areas of collaboration between the two countries. The new overarching MOU in the field will be another step forward.

In the light of the raging pandemic, collaboration in health and vaccine development is the need of the hour. An example was set by the Griffith University and Indian Immunologicals ltd of Hyderabad when they started work together in April 2020 on a Covid 19 vaccine. The two sides have agreed through the joint statement, to have a one -off special Covid 19 collaboration round based of the scientific Reserve Fund in 2020. Mutual collaboration on circular economy, surface coal gasification, waste to wealth processes was brought up by PM Modi, and these partnerships can open up new areas of collaboration.

The flagging of the need to strengthen India Australian partnership on grains management and logistics to reduce post-harvest losses, rationalize costs and supply chain logistics and the move to set up educational campuses in each other’s countries are all welcome steps. The requirement of Australian pension funds to be kept engaged in India’s infrastructure development requirements, the need for cutting out funding for terrorism, strengthening the cultural symphonies between the two countries will all add to the rich tapestry of this developing partnership.

China’s military assertiveness with ASEAN countries like Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia as it pushes for disputed sovereignty and consolidates its physical and military hold over vast swathes of the South China Sea based on so called historical rights and artificial structures as opposed to the principles of modern international laws the backdrop of the joint approach to the concept of a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo pacific, based on the rule of law. Taiwan is living in an atmosphere of frequent but unwelcome Chinese naval activities and overflights in Taiwan Straits which its government opposes. Japan has constantly been grappling with increasing Chinese presence in the East Sea and around Senkakus.

India is currently facing transgressions at multiple points from China on the Line of Actual Control on the Indo Chinese border. Australia is facing retaliation and pressure in trade through enhanced tariffs and anti-dumping measures for support of an independent assessment on the origins of the novel coronavirus. The Chinese authorities have asked tourists to refrain from travelling to Australia citing violence and racism against Chinese.

China has made aggressive forays into the Western Pacific and there have been unconfirmed reports of China seeking bases in places like Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. Chinese ocean mapping activities and the presence of PLA naval vessels in the Indian Ocean has increased noticeably in the last year. The joint statements express support for cooperation in multilateral fora, for the centrality of ASEAN, for India’s Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative, for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and for the peaceful resolution of disputes rather than through unilateral or coercive actions. The Covid -19 consultations in the framework of the Quad plus, the meetings of the Quad itself, the trilateral meetings with Japan and Indonesia have all found support in the joint statement, and there is an agreement to exchange views on Australia’s Pacific set up and India’s Forum for India – Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC).

What more could have been done? For one, besides discussing challenges in the new global scenario, for working together through the Asian and East Asia Summit institutions, and for strengthening international institutions like the WHO, both sides could have looked at more concrete ways in which the bilateral economic engagement could be taken forward. India and Australia have revived their bilateral negotiations of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which is an encouraging development. This will allow Indian companies a level playing field as far as tariffs on its exports to Australia are concerned. It will, equally, attract more Australian companies to work with India.

Mention could have been made of the Australia Economic Strategy Report which I have been working on along with the Cii team over the past many months in the joint statement. The Report has been prepared as a response to Australia’s India Economic Strategy Report 2035 and is awaiting final approvals. Hopefully, this will be taken forward through another virtual event in the future when officials and industry from both sides could participate and look at the concrete recommendations in 20 different areas identified.

Australian businesses will benefit a lot from opportunities and market that India offers for scaling up technologies in med tech, health tech, edu tech, water technologies, shipbuilding and start ups. A mutually beneficial situation can develop for both if they collaborate in digital gaming and animation, labour intensive services, fin tech, textile designing, sports technologies and equipment, renewable energy and power, food processing, dairy technologies, healthcare, clinical trials and pharmaceuticals besides the strong areas of mining and resources, technology and services, agriculture and education. The current global situation has made countries rethink their strategy on the location of supply chains. An appeal could have been made for Australian big businesses to look at diversification, and the advantages and opportunities that the Indian market can offer.

The Indian diaspora and students are a formidable force in the relationship, and the desire of PM Morrison to encourage more than 5000 Australian students to study in India under the new Colombo plan will only reinforce this strength. The Australia India Youth Dialogue has been identified by PM Morrison as the driver for conducting a Hackathon between the universities of the two countries.

India needs Australia for achieving appropriately suitable growth rates for its aspirational population of more than 1.3 billion people. Australia would benefit from finding a market in India for its natural resources, for scaling up its niche manufacturing, and for technological collaboration. As India grows, it will need to find solutions for its challenges in infrastructure, water and logistics. Australia and India can collaborate in all these fields, and the realization has been reinforced due to the geopolitical situation which confronts both these thriving democracies.

The Bravest of The Brave

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Major Gaurav Arya

Indian Army (Retd.)

 
 
 
The annals of the Indian Army are replete with stories of bravery and uncommon valor. And then there are stories of courage so overwhelming that it is almost impossible for the human soul to even comprehend that such men walked the face of this very earth.
On a freezing and unforgiving November night, 123 Indian soldiers – frostbitten, weary, hungry and heavily outnumbered – defied the might of the rampaging Chinese Army.
On 18 November 1962, Major Shaitan Singh and men of Charlie Company, 13 Kumaon Regiment, forever passed into the mists of legend.
This is a story of unimaginable sacrifice. This is a story of men pitted against impossible odds. This is the story of Indian soldiers who looked death in the eye and did not flinch.
This is the story of the Battle of Rezang La.
In their initial assault on Indian positions in October, the Chinese had overrun border posts from Daulat Beg Oldie to Damchok, along the Karakoram Range. The defence of Chushul was the responsibility of 114 Brigade, which had a battalion less. An Infantry Brigade has 3 battalions. 114 Brigade had just 1/8 Gurkha Rifles and 5 Jat Regiment. When the danger to Chushul was realized, 13 Kumaon was rushed from Baramulla to augment 114 Brigade.
Other companies of 13 Kumaon occupied heights like Gun Hill, Gurung Hill and Mugger Hill. Charlie Company was given Rezang La, a pass 19 km away on the southeastern approach to Chushul. Rezang La was all rock, bitterly cold with bone chilling winds and the troops were not acclimatized to such extreme temperatures. The company was deployed at a height of 16,404 feet above sea level, and the main company position was defended by the 7th, 8th & 9th platoons. The surrounding mountains isolated it from the rest of the battalion.
The biting cold and the howling winds were accompanied by snowfall. Lack of protective winter clothing made the vigil more treacherous. And to add to the already impossible situation, Charlie Company was “crested to artillery”. This meant that there was an intervening feature, which did not allow Charlie Company the cover and protection of Indian Army’s artillery.
Charlie Company was without cover, without support and on its own.
In the very early hours of 18 November, the Chinese Army attacked the 7th and 8th platoon.
At 0500 hrs, Charlie Company opened up with rifles, machine guns and mortars. The retaliation was so ferocious that hundreds of Chinese lay dead. The first wave of the Chinese Army was repulsed.
At 0540 hrs, Charlie Company came under intense artillery and mortar shelling, and under the cover of this fire, about 350 Chinese attacked 9th platoon. The platoon, true to their training, held their fire till the last moment. When the Chinese were a mere 90 meters away, the 9th platoon opened up with all their weapons. Their fire was devastating and hundreds of Chinese dead bodies littered the “nullahs”. The second wave of the Chinese Army was repulsed.
Major Shaitan Singh moved from platoon to platoon, firing at the enemy and encouraging his men. He ignored the grave danger to his life and kept fighting. They say that he fought like a man possessed, completely oblivious to his own safety.
For the Chinese, this horrific rate of casualties was not sustainable. They changed tactics. 9th platoon was brought under withering MMG fire and under the cover of this fire, 400 Chinese attacked 8thplatoon from the rear. This attack was stopped at the platoon barbed wire fence. Simultaneously, a heavily armed assault group of 120 Chinese attacked 7th platoon from the rear. The 7th platoon responded with mortars and rifle fire. There were heavy casualties on both the sides.
By now, the strength of 7th and 8th platoon was severely depleted.
When the Chinese again assaulted the 7th platoon, our soldiers rushed out of their post and engaged the Chinese in hand-to-hand combat. The Chinese brought reinforcements.
The entire 7th and 8th platoon of Charlie Company was martyred. There were no survivors. 9th platoon was very severely depleted and out of ammunition. So, the survivors fought the heavily armed Chinese with their bare hands. Naik Ram Singh, a wrestler, killed many Chinese soldiers with his bare hands before he was shot in the head.
Major Shaitan Singh was constantly fighting, moving from platoon to platoon, encouraging his men and leading from the front. During the course of the battle, he was critically injured by MMG fire. While being evacuated, the Chinese started firing at him and the two soldiers who were accompanying him. Not wanting his soldiers to be killed in such a manner, he ordered them to leave him with his weapon and rejoin the fighting.
Charlie Company, 13 Kumaon, repulsed seven attacks by the Chinese before the entire company was martyred in combat.
On 21 November 1962, a unilateral ceasefire was declared between China and India.
When the Indian Army visited the Charlie Company location after the war, Major Shaitan Singh was found holding his weapon. He had died fighting. The nursing assistant was found dead with bandages and a syringe in his hand. The mortar section commander was found dead, holding a mortar round. He kept firing till his position was overrun and he was killed. Out of the thousand mortar rounds that Charlie Company had, all but 7 had been fired.
Out of the 123 soldiers of Charlie Company, 114 were martyred and 6 were captured by the Chinese Army and kept as PoWs. They later miraculously escaped.
For conspicuous bravery and heroism beyond the call of duty, Major Shaitan Singh Bhati was posthumously awarded a grateful nation’s highest gallantry award, the Param Veer Chakra. The company was also awarded 8 Veer Chakras and 4 Sena Medals for exceptional bravery. Charlie Company was later re-designated as “Rezang La Company”.
I am from the Kumaon Regiment and I have studied the battle of Rezang La in detail. After all these years I still wonder what motivated Major Shaitan Singh and the entire Charlie Company to so willingly embrace martyrdom. It is unheard of, in the annals of modern warfare.
I don’t know if Rezang La was strategically important or not, but in those dark days of the winter of 1962, for an army facing reverse after reverse, Rezang La somehow became a matter of national honor. This was where the Indian Army dug in and said “thus far, and no further”. Rezang La was not just about “izzat”. Somewhere along the way, it became “zidd”.
122 Ahirs from Haryana, led by Major Shaitan Singh Bhati of Jodhpur, fought for “Naam, Namak, Nishan” at -30 degrees centigrade. In freezing, inhuman cold, clothed in thin sweaters and jackets, wet canvas shoes, badly equipped and armed with Second World War vintage .303 rifles, they fought against an enemy who was far better equipped and armed.
When they were out of ammunition, they fought with their bayonets. When their bayonets broke, they fought with their bare hands. These young men from Haryana had probably never seen mountains so high. Most saw snow for the first time. But it is also true that the mountains of Ladakh had never seen such grit.
These brave 122 fought against 3000 attacking Chinese and counted over 1300 enemy dead before embracing martyrdom.
Today, a memorial stands at Rezang La, honoring the memory of those heroes. It reads:
How can a man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his Gods.
To the sacred memory of the Heroes of Rezang La, 114 Martyrs of 13 Kumaon who fought to the Last Man, Last Round, Against Hordes of Chinese on 18 November 1962.
– Built by All Ranks 13th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment.
It was today, 54 years ago, that Major Shaitan Singh Bhati launched Charlie Company into battle. It was today that they became immortal.
 

India gets Elected as a Non-permanent Member of the UNSC: A Busy Agenda Ahead

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Anil Wadhwa
Indian Foreign Service & GCTC Executive Board Member

 
 

On 17 June, India was comfortably elected to the non- permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period of two years starting January 2021, receiving the endorsement from 184 out of the 192 countries who voted. In its last bid for the UNSC seat in 2010, India has secured 187 votes. Each year the General Assembly elects five non – permanent members (out of 10 in total) for a two-year term. The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis – five for African and Asian states, one for Eastern European States, two for the Latin-American and Caribbean States, and two for Western European and other States. The 55 member Asia Pacific group had already endorsed India as the sole contender from the region in June 2019. The candidates though, require a 2/3 majority (128 votes) of the 193 UN General Assembly members to be elected. India will hold the non-permanent seat at the UNSC to coincide with the 75 the anniversary of independence in 2022. It will also be hosting the G – 20 meeting in New Delhi in that year.
Traditionally, the UNSC elections are held in the General Assembly hall with each of the 193 member states casting its vote in a secret ballot. Now, large gatherings and meetings at the UN headquarters have been postponed till the end of June due to Covid -19 pandemic. Under the new voting arrangements President of the General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad Bande circulated a letter to all member States 10 days working days prior to the first round of the secret balloting, informing them of the date on which the elections will be held, the number of vacant seats, the venue where ballots were to be cast and other logistical details. On the Election Day the voters were required to visit the designated venue during a specific time slot to cast the ballots. Only ballots cast in the ballot boxes at the designated venues were accepted and no ballots were accepted after the last time slot had expired.
The General Assembly President circulated a letter to all Member States informing them of the results once the voting was complete and the ballots counted. Ireland with 128 votes and Norway with 130 votes edged out Canada which secured 108 votes forth two seats on offer in the Western Europe and other countries group. Mexico with 187 votes was the only candidate for the one Latin American and Caribbean seat. Neither Kenya with 113 votes and Djibouti with 78 votes, who were contesting the seat available for the African group could get past the 2/3 rd mark and will now contest the second round.
Unlike in the past, this term of India in the UN Security Council will present a number of challenges. Besides the 2011-12 term India was also a non – permanent member in 1950-51, 1967-68, 1972-73, 1977-78, 1984-85 and 1991-92. India has already stated that it will seek to address the challenges to internal governance of the UN system, and an effective and collective response of the world community to international terrorism. India has been known as a country with a voice of reason and a firm supporter of international law as well as multilateral institutions.
Speaking last month, Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar had said that India has plans for the ‘Five S” approach to the world while it is in the non – permanent UNSC seat – Samman (respect), Samvad (dialogue), Sahayog (cooperation), Shanti (peace), and Samriddhi (prosperity). Through this approach, he said, India wanted a “new orientation for a reformed multilateral system,” (NORMS). Multilateralism, he said, needed to reflect contemporary realities and adopt a comprehensive approach to peace and security and technology with a human touch, which in turn will be guided by dialogue, mutual respect and commitment to international law. Global institutions needed to be reformed and adequately represented, in order to be able to deliver. With its global values, and positive contribution, “to the security of the global commons”, India, he said,” will work constructively with partners to overcome old and new fault lines”. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN TS Tirumurti has said that India’s presence in the UN Security Council will help bring to the world its ethos of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – the world is one.
India has been at the forefront during many years of efforts to reform the Security Council, emphasizing all along that it rightly deserves a place as a permanent member of the Council which in its current form does not represent the geo political realities of the 21st century, and this reform is needed for it to remain effective and credible. There is a G-4 proposal on the table, in which India, along with Germany, Japan and Brazil have pressed their case as Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, even though it may be without a veto for some years. A larger proposal to expand the UN Security Council with two other members from Africa in addition to the G-4 did not come to fruition due to lack of consensus in the African group. All these proposals however, face alternate, challenging proposals and the informal discussion in the UN on this issue have not progressed due to vested interests of the Permanent 5 members, their proxies, and others who feel left out. India, as a player in all UN institutions, an active participant in UN peace keeping activities, a respected voice in the G 77 grouping and a member of the G-20 besides representing 1/6 th of humanity will need to push further on its case.
The UN is drifting towards ineffectiveness, due to lack of consensus among the Permanent -5 members, failure to come up with effective responses, usurping of powers through voluntary contributions in the absence of adequate finances by a set of countries, and domination of top positions by countries like China in many international organizations which it now uses for its own ends. However, India will have to work diligently within the confines of realities of the global situation. Issues like a global convention on terrorism, climate change, and the expansion and reform of the UN Security Council, all of which are close to India’s heart are issues on which there are many divisive voices which will need to be overcome diligently.
India’s presence in the UN Security Council will make it a tad easier to counter moves by China to target New Delhi on internal issues like reorganization of its own territory in that forum. China’s illegal actions in Ladakh and crossing into Indian territory on multiple points along the Line of Actual Control over the past few weeks, its aggressive posture in the South China Sea and scant disregard for rule of law, the aggression around the Senkakus, in the Taiwanese waters, and overflights on its territory, its actions concerning Hongong and Xinjiang will all come under spotlight, and have shown its real intentions. India can leverage these developments to push for its own deserving and qualified candidates to head UN organizations, and should endeavor to get elected to more Committees, as well as positions within the UN system.
 

The India – EU Summit: Implementation Remains the Key

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The Strategic Partnership between India and EU was forged in 2004. The precursor to this partnership was a Joint Political Statement (1993) and a cooperation Agreement (1994)both of which laid the basis of this partnership. India and EU also agreed on a Joint Action Plan in 2005 which was later upgraded in 2008 when the two sides decided to expand their cooperation in the fields of nuclear energy and environmental protection and deepen this strategic partnership. The 15th Summit between India and EU finally took place after a gap of two years on 15 July 2020 between Indian Prime Minister Modi and President of the European Council Charles Michel as well as the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Besides the customary Joint Statement, the Summit produced some other key documents: the ‘EU-India Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2035”, an “EU- India joint declaration on resource efficiency and circular economy”, a pact on research and development in civil nuclear energy, and a five year renewal for the science and technology cooperation agreement – which are all rich in content, and provide the direction on cooperation in a range of issues. The joint statement affirmed the determination of the two sides to promote “effective multilateralism and a rule – based multilateral order with the United Nations and the World Trade organization as its core”.
The roadmap to 2035 document spans economics, investment and trade, scientific research and innovation in cutting edge fields, student exchanges, movement of workers and citizens across borders, building modern societies, development in a sustained manner as well as basic tenets related to governance at the global level.
The two sides also agreed to reactivate their human rights dialogue. The protests against the Indian Citizenship Act which has been raised in the European Parliament figured in the discussions.
India and EU had launched talks for a wide-ranging Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) encompassing trade in goods, services and investments in 2007, but the talks stalled in 2013 over differences on market access and movement of professionals. EU is India’s largest trading partner while India is the EU’s ninth largest trading partner with bilateral trade in goods touching $115 billion. Trade in services was estimated at $40 billion. The EU has cumulatively invested US$91 billion in India. There was agreement at the Summit to launch a high – level trade dialogue between the EU Trade Commissioner and India’s Commerce Minister to foster progress on ‘balanced, ambitious, and mutually beneficial’ trade and investment agreements, opening markets , creating a level playing field on both sides, addressing trade irritants and discussing supply chain linkages.
There are a number of contentious issues surrounding the above mentioned issues between the two sides. The EU has some key demands – including India’s import tariffs on automobiles and wines, opening up the services sector for European companies, and change in rules guiding government procurement. India’s policy of “Atma nirbhar Bharat’ has raised concerns of protectionism in the European Commission bureaucracy. EU investments in India are crucial for India to realize its goal of raising the share of manufacturing in its GDP, and diversifying value chains, thereby lessening dependence on China. PM Modi therefore took care to clarify that the “Atma nirbhar Bharat “campaign was aimed at integrating domestic production with global supply chains and Europe in fact, could take advantage of this campaign and look to enhance its investments into India. There is no time frame set for the conclusion of the BTIA, but both sides have agreed that the two ministers mandated to take the discussions forward will meet as early as possible. It is important that these negotiations start as early as possible and both sides shed preconceived notions of each other’s stance in the past.
The Euratom Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the Department of Atomic Energy of India have agreed on a civil nuclear cooperation Agreement. The fields which will benefit range from nuclear safety to healthcare, agriculture to radioactive waste, and industry to fusion technology and nuclear safety. Through the document on circular economy and efficient use of resources, India and EU will now cooperate in efficient use energy, management of waste, information and communication technology, textiles, food and construction. Pure air and management of water are the new agreed areas.
India and EU will work together on space science and navigation as well as earth observation trough a specially set up joint working group. They will together develop post 2020 global frameworks on biodiversity and international waste and chemical management. Signaling enhanced cooperation between the Indian Navy and the EU naval force Atalanta the two sides have launched a new maritime security dialogue. There will be consultations on crisis management, as well as counter piracy operations in the Western Indian Ocean. This will enhance defence and security ties. India China relations and the situation on the border also figured in the discussions.
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Europol have launched negotiations to combat organized crime and terrorism, and both sides have decided to intensify cooperation to tackle terror and its financing, radicalization and abuse of the internet for such activities. Pakistan came up for discussion in the context of activities it has been continuing against India and other countries in the region as well as in the context of global terrorism.
Biotechnology, clean energy e mobility , energy efficiency and bio sciences exchanges will all benefit, given that the science and technology agreement has been extended for another five years. PM Modi took this opportunity to welcome EU investments and technology in India’s push towards renewable energy. The cooperation on climate change and a dialogue on the subject including the strengthening of the International Solar Alliance are areas of convergence between the two sides. The EU will hold a joint climate dialogue on solar and offshore wind resources with India. The EU raised the need to make tough choices such as phasing out coal, even as this comes against the background of India looking to increase its coal output in order to become a net exporter of this commodity. The EU also looks forward to cooperating with the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) launched by India.
A partnership in the health sector between India and EU will benefit both immensely. An agreement to work together on the Covid response and to develop universal and affordable vaccines as well as cooperate in production of pharmaceuticals and related apparatus is timely. Cooperation in multilateral institutions, strengthening of multilateralism and working together during India’s Chairmanship at the WHO in 2020 and during its UNSC stint for the next row years will strengthen India’s hands. India must cooperate with EU in Information and Communication technology, in order to become self sufficient in the digital space and bring investments in emerging and cutting-edge technologies.
The EU offered to share its experience in data protection legislation as convergence of standards will facilitate data flows. The convergence on building global standards on 5G and Artificial Intelligence is a natural progression of the desire of both sides to foster their safe and ethical deployment and utilize talent available in Europe as well as India. India needs to develop its infrastructure. The EU provides Euro 414 billion of global aid, and its partnership with Japan and USA is seen as an alternative to BRI. The roadmap talks of exploring avenues to improve connectivity between EU and India, and seek synergies between their cooperation on connectivity with third countries including in the Indo pacific region. Indian metro, ports, highways and infrastructure as well as India projects in third countries will benefit from an India EU partnership.
The EU has grown conscious of Chinese aggressiveness in the Indo-Pacific. It is therefore laying stress on maritime domain awareness and information sharing in the region with strategic partners. India, Japan, Australia and the US can work with EU in order to check growing Chinese presence in this region. Individually, France, UK and Germany can all be useful strategic partners of the Quad countries.
By laying stress on freedom of navigation and openness in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, the two sides have come together on the need to maintain stability, safety, security and peace in these global commons. The UNCLOS, and an inclusive approach in the maritime domain for full compliance with international law was highlighted. With China in mind, peaceful resolution of disputes keeping in mind the UN Charter , taking into account international law without resort to force , was clearly articulated.
Both sides have pledged to work together on maritime initiatives for mutually beneficial cooperation in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and for offering financially viable models for development of connectivity and infrastructure. In terms of development partnership, they have agreed to launch concrete trilateral / cooperation projects in third partner countries and will review such collaborations through an annual dialogue. It will be important for both sides to act fact on a handful of pilot projects so that this idea does not die down after the Summit.
EU and India have discussed and reached agreement on a wide range of collaborative ideas and the agreements are far reaching, but all these ideas will require follow up in a time bound manner. This is why PM Modi spoke of working on an action – oriented agenda with a fixed timeframe for implementation towards this objective. It is also quite clear that the EU would like to engage and work with both China and India in the future. Ultimately, however, it is the shared values of democracy and freedom which makes India and EU “natural partners”.
 

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