Letter from the Editor | March 2018

Two issues dominate the March edition of FORCE: Deteriorating situation on the Line of Control (LC) and India’s only show dedicated to civil aviation.

The tenuous ceasefire on the LC, which suffered severe badgering all through the last year can now be said to be truly over. Recent media reports point out that Indian and Pakistan armies have been using artillery fire to create havoc on each other’s positions. While it may not be reminiscent of the situation in the late 1990s, but with no end in sight, we seem to be getting there. The absence of a political process with Pakistan and with the Kashmiri people (including the Separatists) and emasculation of the state government means that the situation inside the Kashmir Valley remains equally volatile. According to reports, armed militants have once again started moving in and out of the state capital Srinagar after several years.

To a discerning observer, Kashmir seems to be falling fast into an abyss. Even senior military officers have quietly started to urge resumption of dialogue with Pakistan. They understand that once a security situation is allowed to spiral out of control, its trajectory becomes unpredictable. For a nation aspiring for a bigger role in the Asia-Pacific region, as the defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently said (there’s report on that inside), such uncertainty at home and in the immediate neighbourhood can be extremely constraining. Our lead story focuses on that highlighting that with China in the picture, India can no longer let the matter drift.

The other focus area is civil aviation in the view of Wings 2018 show. As readers would have realised, FORCE is media partner for show. It has been a while since the government of India announced the new civil aviation policy. As usually happens, the implementation of the policy has been a bit tardy. The egalitarian vision of making air travel accessible to everyone, including those in the remote areas of India, remain just that as of now. Greater issues have been exercising the civil aviation officials in New Delhi — Air India, for instance. Finally, when the government has made up its mind to divest the state carrier, the buyers are in short supply. Hopefully, the situation will change in the coming months.

The two special sections aside, we have a host of articles on subjects ranging from procurement procures, airfield modernisation, capacity building, both through education and modernisation among others. Then there are the FORCE regulars, updates from the industry and the services. Enjoy the issue!