Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ramana » 08 Nov 2020 00:39

Yes he did. However, Xi has his compulsions to extend the mandate for heaven.
Lets see.

Am proud that BRF was able to read the tea leaves and message across the beyond from KS garu.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ramana » 20 Nov 2020 00:46

About twenty years ago I wrote:

The Challenge of China

Ad going to re-post and highlight things

The Challenge of China

D. Ramana

The end of Cold War and followed by the collapse of Soviet Union have transformed the geo-politics globally. Consequently, ideological confrontation has been reduced to a competition between states. While the prospect of nuclear confrontation in Europe has significantly diminished, there remains the problem of reforming of Asian socialism, limited as it may be to China, Vietnam and North Korea. Recent initiatives by the United States to draw North Korea into the world community are encouraging and should be continued. However the moves seem to be driven by need for reducing instability in the Pacific Rim due to continuation of intransigence of the North Koreans. The impact of North Korean behavior in other regions due to propensity to proliferate WMD technology should be taken into account. They have been a source of missile proliferation to rogue states in the Middle East and South Asia (Pakistan). The profile of these transfers notwithstanding, North Korea was and remains a surrogate of People’s Republic of China, and it the latter that requires a closer examination.

The Chinese Challenge

In order to understand the challenge that China represents, one needs to understand the challenge that the Soviet Union, another totalitarian state, once posed. The superpower label used to describe the Soviet Union was misleading, in that Soviet Union was chiefly an ideologically driven military and political power. Despite its prodigious output during World War II and after, the Soviet Union was by no means an economic power. Its inability to successfully transition from a war economy to a peacetime consumer economy ultimately proved to be its undoing. The West, led by United States, formulated the ‘Containment’ policy in order to contain the spread of Soviet power with its system of alliances. However one has to realize that the Soviet Union had already reached its limits of its power soon after end of WWII. Its expansion in Eastern Europe was due to the quest for buffer territory from Germany and later Western Europe. Its forays out of its ‘near abroad’ were limited and reciprocal. The Afghan war stretched its resources and sapped its morale. The economic collapse that followed the intervention led to its implosion and collapse as the ‘other superpower’.

China in contrast is both a rising economic and political power. Its military though modernizing is limited to strategic weapons and does not have any real capability to influence any major event in the near term. Unlike Soviet Union, which was implementing a Western ideology, China's political thought is rooted in nationalism. It has been beating back invaders for over 3000 years. Few nations can boast of its continuity in history and a track record of survival. It has absorbed many invasions and has survived each of them. Its interlude with Communism should be seen in that light as another invasion – an invasion of ideas.

China’s evolution today represents the vision of two individuals- Mao Ze Dung and Deng Xiao Peng. The Mao’s contributions are many, but key among them is his role as nation builder. In particular, he unified China under communist rule, obtained nuclear weapons, and consolidated China’s place in the world. It took the Soviet Union seventy years to realize the folly of its economic policies. China, on the other hand, realized this in about thirty years and Deng launched the four modernizations to transform it. Significant among them is the absence of any devolution of political power. In fact soon after the modernization program was launched, the regime suffered a jolt in the form of political dissent form of the Democracy Movement and led to the Tienannmen Square massacres. This event shook the very core of the regime and hardened its attitudes towards political dissent. The West hopes that by constructive engagement it can bring about gradual changes to the Chinese polity. The hope is that the government will transition from totalitarianism to authoritarianism to eventually democracy. The adoption of pragmatic policies by Deng Xiao Peng, and end of Cold War show that it is making the transition to authoritarian state. In all possibility this could be the most that will happen. Engagement with the West is bringing about tremendous pressure for political change from the newly rich. However, the regime in Beijing wants to keep all political freedoms in control while it leapfrogs from ox-carts to a modern economy without giving up anything on the political side. It fears democratization could derail the process of modernization and undermine the authority of the Communist Party. Consequently, economic liberalization has not been accompanied by political liberalization.

The challenge of Taiwan to the Chinese political system

Taiwan’s democratic transformation throws up a major ideological challenge to the mainland’s political system. Many mainlanders would question the authoritarian nature of their state if the Taiwan experiment succeeds. The mainland is tackling the challenge in two ways- by treating Taiwan as a renegade province it questions the legitimacy of that political system which could undermine it- this is accompanied by keeping up the military pressure and numerous threats. The second way is that of proposing ‘one country two systems’ type of government. Both these paths appear to be aimed at buying time while it grows stronger. As can be seen the fight is internal and will get resolved with the march of time. However it is in the interest of the world community that Taiwan exists as an example of contrast to the people of China.

China and the World

China is a member of many of the power bodies of the world. Its pretense at being a responsible international player is not matched by its actions on the ground. Despite being a member of the UN Security Council its participation in peacekeeping missions are few and that too in non-combatant roles. Despite being a member of many international treaties it has proliferated weapons of mass destruction in its own strategic interest and has thus spread suffering.

In order to understand its policy of proliferation, one must understand that this constituted practicing war by other means. Realizing that direct war can be costly, China has found the asymmetric weapon of proliferation to tie down its challengers- declared and potential. Its nurturing the North Korean regime to tie down South Korea and principally Japan has backfired. The latter is drawn more closely into security arrangements with the US than during the Cold War. And possibly that could be a goal of the Chinese- a Japan tied up in a relationship with the US is better than an autonomous Japan. And North Korean belligerent moves have prompted the neighbors into participating in US theater missile defenses, which in turn degrade China’s posture. Its proliferation to Pakistan has prompted India to unveil its nuclear capability and it is a matter of time for the Indian posture to build up sufficiently to dissuade China. It is contributing to the instability in the Middle East by proliferation and hopes to weaken the US based alliances in the region. One has to see how this turns out in the future.

Taking a long view of China’s history, the nearby regions have suffered whenever China had a weak center. From the time of the Mongol invasions to the colonial era, there has been negative fallout in the region whenever China had weak regimes. However strong centers have also resulted in a spillover of hegemonic tendencies prompting a former Thai minister to say, "The best thing China can do is stay together and stay at home!" What is desirable is a benign son of heaven in Beijing for peace and prosperity in Asia and now in a globalized world. However till that happens, one has to be on guard.

Threat to India and responses

The post Cold War was hoped to give rise to multiple poles. China sees for itself a bipolar role globally and a unipolar role regionally. It is in this aspect that its moves to check India’s rise to power should be seen. Most Indian observers state that the loss of Tibet as a buffer has brought about problems in the Indo- Sino relationship. However it is not understood that the occupation of Tibet was an essential element of the Chinese worldview for gaining domination in Asia. It is the desire to dominate and play a zero sum game that drives the dissonance in the relationship and than mere border disputes. Here again it has taken advantage of the confusion among the Indian elite in recognizing the challenge it presents to them. Here is an instance of Sun Tzu’s precepts in practice to confuse the challenger in order to achieve strategic surprise.

Ever since Sumdrong Chu, China seems to have decided that direct confrontation is not a feasible option and has propped up Pakistan as a surrogate. The proliferation of delivery systems started in late 1988 along with the declarations of peace. It is notable that these transfers took place after the Cold War was waning and appears to be part of a long-term strategy to tie up India locally. The hoped for response did not materialize as India took steps to protect its strategic autonomy.

The potential areas where China could cause direct problems for India are mainly two – proliferation of WMD to Pakistan and support for insurgencies in the North- East region. It can cause indirect problems through dragging its feet on the unsettled border and veto India’s membership in world councils. Proliferation of weapons and delivery systems to Pakistan increases instability and causes resources diverted to defense related systems. The umbilical can only be cut by forceful posture with Agni-III deployment and a visible the C3I system put in place. The nuclear tests in the late nineties and the deployment of the deterrent will contribute in mitigating the effects of the proliferation. Active dialog and steps have to be taken to raise the costs to the proliferators to dissuade them. Pursuing peace efforts in Kashmir with the local militants will go a long way to diffuse the situation and remove the rationale for Pakistan to offer ‘moral ‘ support to the militancy.

The trouble in North East and an unsettled border lead to increase or sustained military/paramilitary expenditure, which reduces economic growth. These could be accompanied by encouraging intransigence in neighbors- Myanmar etc. Here again a mixture of economic and political measures should tackle the internal troubles. Integrating the North East into the mainstream of the Indian economy is an urgent and required step and should be pursued regardless. As regards the neighbors, expansion of BMIST, and a new regional economic integration are needed to ensure ASEAN type of system. This should go a long way in discouraging the propensity to support such behavior in neighbors.


China's threat is mainly an indirect one through proliferation to Pakistan and support of insurgencies in the North East. It could also harass India by prolonging the border settlement and oppose entry into world bodies. The response has to be increased economic growth and regional integration to reduce propensity for conflict accompanied by a watchful eye on defense related systems. As China eventually resolves for itself the role that it wants to play in the world, India has to be on its guard. China’s attempts to constrain India are doomed to fail for India has historically never taken a back seat to China. The realization should be that it is not that China directly threatens India but rather it reduces and diminishes India’s power.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby ramana » 20 Nov 2020 00:52

Twenty years later India has reduced the Pakistani threat to terrorist nuisance so much so that China was forced to enter into open conflict in Ladakh.
US ended last century with G-2 rhetoric but the 911 and Middle East wars and 2008 financial collapse made China realize it could go for G-1. We see that post 2008 Chinese economy grew exponentially.

The election of NaMo in 2014 was a turning point for he started the reversal of folly set in place by UPA govt.

Trump in 2019 was on path to end G-2.

This is where we are now.
US is trying to restore G-2.
China wants to be G1 and G0 in Asia.

Galwan has handed a defeat to China.

Both US with TPP and China with RCEP and EU with FTA are trying to court Indian markets.

Next decade will be very tumultuous as Geo-political churn will be underway.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby Cyrano » 21 Nov 2020 16:17

Prescient you were Ramana garu.

21st century India will raise to the challenges and prevail.

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Re: Evolution of Indian Strategic Thought-1

Postby vijayk » 24 Nov 2020 21:30


I watched languidly when suddenly something struck me. In the eventually 200 interviews that I did for my book, I had been struck by how obsessed the BJP and the RSS were with the Third Battle of Panipat. But that history lesson had made no impact on me until that day spent on YouTube. I had a eureka moment. I saw, in a flash, the connection between the physical exercise in the shakha and the intellectual beliefs of Hindu nationalism. I grasped why the BJP wins.

The Third Battle of Panipat was fought in 1761 between the Maratha confederacy and the Afghan warlord Ahmad Shah Abdali. With the Mughal Empire in decline, the Marathas were the ascendant national power. Had they won at Panipat—86 kilometres north of Delhi—the Marathas could have ended the British presence in India before it ballooned into Empire. The results of the Third Battle of Panipat would shape modern India like no other.

Though Ahmad Shah Abdali was from another country, he was able to garner the support of local Muslim rulers. On the other side, the Marathas failed to entice the Rajputs, Jats and Sikhs to fight with them. The other problem was that the Marathas lacked internal unity. Rather than ruled solely by the Peshwas, they were a confederacy of chieftains:
the Holkars from Indore, Gaekwads of Baroda, Bhonsles of Satara and the Scindias from Gwalior. This meant that, while the royal guard of the Peshwas supplied 11,000 cavalrymen for the battle, the Scindias alone contributed 10,000 men on horses. The 100,000 Marathas at Panipat on the morning of January 14th, 1761 were not a single army; they were a mishmash of militias.

As I remembered the history lesson of Panipat when I saw those videos, what hit me was not its ‘truth’. Much of this narrative would not meet a historian’s standards, and it reduces a convoluted event to simple religious competition. But what hit me was how the RSS had internalised its own lessons from the disunity at Panipat. The physical part of the RSS training was not just exercise, it was exercise done together. What was being taught was teamwork—whether it was marching synchronously, standing on top of each other in a pyramid, or playing ‘games’ that are associated more with corporate outings. What both the history lesson and the physical exercise highlighted was the need for coordination among Hindus. It is this belief in teamwork, what I call ‘Hindu Fevicol’ in my book, that is central to Hindu nationalism.

Vajpayee’s fear of division was not just moored in history; it was anchored in the rifts that were tearing apart the Congress right then. He made a trip to England in the late 1980s to attend an academic conference in Oxfordshire. There he met the Princeton political scientist Atul Kohli who had written at length about the de-institutionalisation of the Congress. “I have read your books,” Vajpayee told him during their evening walks. “That is what we are worried about. That’s why organisation matters so much for us.”

But Vajpayee (UP Brahmin), Advani (Amil Sindhi), Narendra Modi (Gujarati Ghanchi) and Amit Shah (Gujarati Baniya) come from diverse castes and parts of India. And the social base of their party has evolved from only upper castes to Tribals, OBCs and even Dalits. In the 2019 General Election, for example, Modi won more Tribal, Dalit and middle-caste votes than his opponents.

The person responsible for the defeat of Prithiviraj, the Hindu King at Delhi, by Mohammed Ghori was his own caste relation Jaichand. The person who hounded Rana Pratap from forest to forest was none other than his own caste-man Raja Mansingh. Shivaji too was opposed by men of his own caste. Even in the last-ditch battle between the Hindus and the British at Poona in 1818, it was a fellow caste-man of the Peshwas, Natu by name, who lowered the Hindu flag and hoisted the British flag.’

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