India’s defence policy aims at promoting and sustaining durable peace in the sub-continent and equipping the defence forces adequately to safeguard against aggression. The immediate threat of aggression is from neighboring countries. The geographical set-up plays an important role in planning the defence strategy India’s geographical location poses a threat to its defence. On the Northern side are Napa’, China and Bhutan, in the South are Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean. On the Western side is Pakistan.
In the East, the Indian boarders are shared with Bangladesh and Myanmar. Pakistan has been hostile to India right from the day of its creation. Pakistan made a military attack on Kashmir in 1948. A quick action by India pushed Pakistan’s forces back. However, the whole of Kashmir could not be liberated. A part of Kashmir continues to be in illegal possession of Pakistan.
The Pakistanis call it ‘Azad Kashmir’. 1965 saw another attack on India by Pakistan. This time, however, a befittingreply was given by India. In 1971, Pakistan yet again launched an offensive from East Pakistan side. Once again Pakistan had to suffer defeat.
This war also resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. Pakistan, unfortunately has not given up its hostility towards India. It has been acquiring sophisticated weapons like F-16s and nuclear carrier aircraft. However, the political climate in Pakistan underwent an overnight change with the death of General Zia-ul-Haq in an air crash.
The country went to poll after 11 years. Ms Benazir Bhutto was elected the Prime Minister of the new born democracy. This change had been of interest to India as it raised the possibility of easing tensions and quickening the process of normalization of relations between the two neighbours.
However, this has not happened. Ms Bhutto had been pursuing a crusade of hatred against India both at home and at the international forum. She was sending fully trained and armed terrorists in Kashmir and other parts of India to create terror and chaos. She was also acquiring nuclear arms from all possible sources to terrorize India.
After Ms. Benazir’s period Mr. Nawaj Sharif sent the Pakistani intruders to infiltrate in an area approximately 400 Sq. Km., over an 80 km.
stretch in the -Kargil-Batalik Sector. The Strategy aimed at interdicting the sensitive Srinagar-Leh highway to isolate the Ladakh region. Simultaneously, Pakistan had intended to launch an offensive in the Turtuk sector with a view to turn Indian defences in Siachen. Pakistani’s game-plan rested on two main parameters. It had hoped that when the intrusions were detected. India would not be able to have the aggression vacated physically; Pakistan also hoped that the international community mainly the US would interference to prevent the conflict escalating into a nuclear show-down. Thus, Pakistan would be left with enormous gains – this was the closest that Pakistan had got to avenging its ignominious defeat of 1971.
China had launched a large scale military offensive on India in 1952. The Indian Army had to fight on a rough terrain with obsolete weapons. Till today it has not surrendered the occupied territories. Therefore, when late, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi visited China in December, 1988 for high level talks, it was seen as a breakthrough in normalizing Sino-Indian relations. The two Governments decided to set up a joint working group on the boundary question to make concrete recommendations for a solution. Lately relations between India and Nepal had become strained. Nepal is the closed neighbour of India.
India appears to be distressed on account of the Nepalese attitude of playing it off against China. Some years back, India was very displeased when Nepal imported 50 truckloads of arms from China. India-Nepal relationship needs to be reviewed in the interest of both the nations. India’s relations with Bangladesh are none too friendly.
Sharing the Ganga waters and Bangladesh refugee’s crossing over to Assam are two major irritant. Continuous influx of refugees into Assam has created an explosive situation in Assam. The native Assumes have been agitating over the foreigners’ issue in order to check this infiltration the Indian Government had decided to fence off the entire Bangladesh-Assam border at a cost of Rs. 450 crore. Bangladesh was opposed to this move.
But India ignored the objection and announced the construction of a jeep able road all along the 2,200 km long Indo- Bangladesh border. 150 yards from the demarcation line before the erection of the fence. India has to take into account the Indian Ocean while framing its defence strategy. West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu are exposed to danger because they are near Indian Ocean.
The U.S. demonstration of its Seventh Fleet during 1971 war is still fresh in the mind. Unfortunately, Indian Ocean had become the science of acute rivalry between the two Super Powers. Both dispatched their naval fleet into the Indian Ocean. Confrontation between the Super Powers in the India Ocean was not in India’s interest.
Therefore, India has been trying through the U.N. and other agencies to get the Indian Ocean declared a ‘zone of peace’. However, India needs to strengthen its Navy to meet any threat to the coastal States. Threats from the air may arise together with land or sea-borne attacks.
Our Air Force has to shoulder a variety of tasks. It has to provide air defence to crucial installations. It has also to ensure close air support to the Army.
Transport support to the Army and other agencies and strategic bombing in the enemy’s heartland are Air Force’s responsibilities. The Army is organized into five Commands Western, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Central and one Training Command. Each command is under a General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the rank of a Lieutenant General.
According to the 1980-81 report of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Army strength consists of 944,000 personnel, 2170 tanks, 700 Armoured personnel carriers, 2000 artillery pieces, 113,000 Air Force men and 40,700 Navy personnel. The Air Force has five operational Commands and two functional commands. The latest Command was started at Trivandrum and was inaugurated by the late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi on July 21. 1984. Our air force consists of an array of modem aeroplanes and is comparable to any other air force in the world. Its fighter force comprises Hunters, Ajeets as older generation aircraft while MiG-21 Variants, MiG- 23s, MiG-25, MiG-27s, and jaguars provide modern generation strike aircraft.
MiG-29s and Mirage-2000s provide Air Force with a present generation air defence aircraft. Transport force consists of IL-67s, AN-32s, Boeing-737s and indigenously produced HS-748s. Dornier-228 has replaced the other aircraft. The helicopter for has grown and its inventory consists of most modern helicopters like MI-8, MI-17 and MI-26 and attack helicopter like MI-25, MI-8 helicopters are specially modified to undertake tasks in Antarctica. The Navy is organized into three naval Commands: Western Naval Command with headquarters at Bombay; Eastern naval Command with headquarters at Visakhapatnam and Southern Naval Command with its headquarters at Cochin. The Indian Navy is a well-balanced three dimensional force consisting of sophisticated missile capable warships, two aircraft carriers, minesweepers, advanced Submarines and latest aircraft in its inventory. A nuclear powered submarine INS Chakra has also been inducted for training purposes. Many of the warships are of indigenous design and have been constructed in Indian shipyards.
The Navy’s forces are maintained and supported by modem dockyards at Bombay and Visakhapatnam The third naval base is under development at Kanwar. If the idea of the national defence was limited to the protection of a country’s national borders, there would be little trouble. The ferocity and destructive capacity of modern ways has made the leading nations of the world think in terms of regional security, spheres of influence, “lines of communication, strategic basis, and what not. This inevitably leads them to look for a loophole even beyond their boundaries. America j has military bases all over the globe to encircle Russia.
And here lies the root of all trouble. It is the inherent right of every nation to maintain adequate force to protect its territorial independence. But in these days of atomic and aerial warfare, if every country endeavours to make her impregnable, it would result in a mad race for armaments. And it would be impossible to achieve even if countries were to put in every ounce of their energy and resources to reach that fantastic goal. It is an old saying “Preparedness for war is the best security for peace”.
We must learn from the lesson of Kashmir and all that followed after the Pakistan army launched a regular attack with Patten Tanks over Chhamb in Jammu & Kashmir State. We must remain prepared forward. It is vital for the security of the country. We can undervalue it only at our peril.