Friday, February 20, 2015

Review of Basrur's India's Military Modernization

The latest edition of The Book Review is out and I reviewed Rajesh Basrur's latest book, which he co-edited with Ajaya Kumar Das and Manjeet S. Pardesi, on India's military modernization.

Civil-Military Disconnect
Rajesh Rajagopalan
Edited by Rajesh Basrur, Ajaya Kumar Das and Manjeet S. Pardesi
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2014, pp. 311, R950.00
India has one of the world’s largest military forces and it is also among the largest military spenders in the world, both in terms of military expenditure and arms imports. Nevertheless, the Indian military faces huge challenges. This is partly the function of the variegated nature of these challenges,
fighting in theatres as diverse as the Himalayas, the deserts of Rajasthan and the jungles in Chhattisgarh for the ground forces and equally diverse ones for the other two services. But
India’s political and administrative systems are also to blame for a confused and confusing approach to every aspect of security policy, from nuclear weapons to counterinsurgency and defence research
and production. These problems become even more acute when the current phase of military modernization is taken into account. The growth of the Indian military, a natural consequence of a larger economic pie (the proportion of wealth devoted to the military has remained low and steady), brings these issues into sharp focus. This volume, edited by Rajesh Basrur, Ajaya Kumar Das and Manjeet Pardesi, brings together both scholars and retired military leaders to present a comprehensive picture of the challenges that Indian military modernization faces. The story is one that is almost uniformly depressing.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

US and India: Moving Towards A Transactional Relationship

A brief essay, published in Economic Times (Januaty 26, 2015) on the Obama visit to India and US-India strategic ties, which I am posting rather late.  My original title is the post title, but the ET title is given below.

Obama in India: Both Countries Should Focus on Areas of Mutual Interest

Barack Obama is the first US president to visit India twice and the first to be chief guest at the Republic Day parade. Thus, the hyperbole that normally accompanies such state visits being a notch higher this time, as was evident in PM Narendra Modi’s and Obama’s joint media address on Sunday.

Being democracies, both India and the US would prefer to base their foreign policies on something larger and nobler than narrow self-interest. And Modi’s developmental agenda means that American investment and smart cities may garner a lot of attention. But without strategic understanding, economic ties themselves will suffer.