India’s $10bn going down the drain

The Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov and Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh have signed a billion-dollar arms deal to develop military hardware over the coming decade.

The deal includes a plan to create an air defence system which would cover the whole of India’s territory.

The two countries have also pledged to work together to develop high-tech fighter jets, submarines and ships under the agreement, estimated to be worth a total of $10bn.

Mr. Klebanov said the air defence project was a “large and very complicated project”, but gave no further details. Analysts say, however, that India would probably buy S-300 air defence systems.

In my opinion, beside this defence collaboration, the two countries need to also work together to study that why countries disintegrate even after having such a strong defence system. There is a lot for India to learn from the Soviet Union example. The lesson learnt will save India’s $10bn going down the drain.

It is useless to warn India and its collaborators on the consequences of India’s hegemonic pursuits. However, the ever-increasing diversion of resources from economic development to defence toys means continued sacrifices on the part of India’s teeming millions who are living below the poverty line.

New Delhi hopes that Pakistan’s decline can be realized by luring it into an open-ended arms race. But Pakistan is not going to fall into the trap. India already has around 8,000 Kg of rector-grade plutonium, sufficient for over 400 nuclear weapons. I wonder how many more will guarantee India a sense of security?

Instead, it should learn to live in peace with its neighbours by settling outstanding disputes by giving up its hegemonic designs. Otherwise, it will end up just like its role model, the Soviet Union.

US has recently shown serious concern on India’s buying of nuclear fuel, nuclear submarines and bombers with the capability of carrying nuclear arsenals from Russia. However, India’s similar military equipment purchases from Israel are going on with US connivance. Are not these showy concerns merely reflecting the ‘market rivalry’?

No doubt an annual defence budget of 620 billion rupees would accommodate such an ‘arms shopping spree’. But the world must raise the red flag for India’s buying anything nuclear from Russia. The cash-starved Russians may be selling cheap, but the nuclear fuel and equipment will become potential safety hazard for the region and the Indians themselves. Have we forgotten the Chernobyl catastrophe or the recent sinking of nuclear submarine Kursk? If Indian wants to go the way of the Soviet Union, then it can continue to turn a deaf ear to world opinion.

My advice to India is to resolve the Kashmir dispute by honest, meaningful talks with Pakistan and Kashmiris, without chirping ‘Atoot Ang’ mantra, instead of resorting to huge, unsustainable defence budget hikes, which could better serve the Indian masses.

India will spend billions of dollars on nuclear and missile race, but people of Ahmadabad will be regretting for having only one heavy-duty crane in the city after the earthquake to excavate the dead bodies of their nears and dears. I wonder if the foreign countries have not dispatched the water cleaning tablets by DHL, how many more would have died by diseases.

It is the right time for India to set its priorities by deciding that whether it can still afford the hysterical spending on arms race or want welfare of its people.

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