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[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
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Abhijit wrote:
>I think it will be more useful if Indranil is a bit more specific
>what he means by "systematically weaken the military".

By "systematic" I mean:

1. The policy of successive governments, beginning with Nehru to
   weaken command and control structures by disallowing the formation
   of a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) command structure as is the case
the U.S. and other countries serious about their defence.
done to strengthen civilian control over the          military, it has
succeeded in preventing effective          coordination in times of
as being witnessed in Kargil.

2. Defence spending has ranged between 0.5% and 1.5% of GDP since
   the 1950s. Currently about 1.1%, it is far lower than any of our
immediate neighbors/adversaries (Pakistan spends 9% of GDP; China
according to latest World Bank    estimates). In real       (adjusting
inflation) terms, current spending is at the same      level as 1960,
two years prior to the Chinese aggression.
   Again, this is a deliberate policy. Nehru's Defence Minister
Krishna Menon used to talk about 'starving' the military to keep it
"under control". All this despite the fact, that the Indian armed
   forces are probably the most apolitical, loyal and constitutionally
responsible of any major armed force in the world.

Abhijit wrote:

>I don't think it is true that we have not placed enough "emphasis on
>intelligence gathering".

My take on this is that if that were true, then why have our
agencies failed to come up with even the identities of the perpetrators
the most heinous crimes of the past decade and a half. I'm not talking
capture and conviction, I'm talking
identification. The roster starts with the Kanishka Explosion of 1985,
to the Bombay Stock Exchange blasts of 1993 to the Coimbatore Bombings
of last year. Intelligence consists of both Humint (human intelligence)
Elint (electronic intelligence). The former RAW
chief and current J&K governor, Girish Saxena has said that we have
devoted resources to both Humint and Elint inadequate to the task at
Also, the charter of RAW, unlike say that of the Mossad, prevents it
mounting counter-terrorism operations further reducing its
Perhaps if we knocked off a few of the associates/sponsors in Pakistan
these self styled jihad fighters (aka thugs) currently holed up in the
mountains, we might put the fear of  "their God"  in the rest of them.

Abhijit wrote:

>To address Indranil's last point, I think it is debatable whether
>should invest in more defense R&D!!!...Why try to reinvent the >wheel
>soembody is willing to sell you theirs for a competetive >price.

My response is that the purpose of R&D is not to reinvent the wheel,
but to come up with something original. We have to remember that
other countries are willing to sell us are "hand-me-downs" and not top
the line technology. If we really
want to be ahead of the curve, we have to devote the necessary resources
make full use of our abundant human capital. Otherwise, we're destined
to be
stuck with second-rate technology which puts our armed forces at a

Abhijit wrote:

>the amount of funds should be decided on a rational basis not on the
>basis of a knee jerk reaction.

True. However, given the above state of affairs, I would not call my
position "knee jerk". Indeed, to use other "knee" analogies, we have
succeeded in cutting our military off at the knees, which is probably
why the knees of our political establishment begin to buckle, everytime
are faced with a Kargil-like crisis.

This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
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