Letter from the Editor | April 2022

One of the recurring arguments in favour of cutting down on direct imports and investing in in-country manufacturing, has been that in an event of a war, the exporting country might play hardball in supply of spares and replenishment if the war was with an adversary with which the exporter had ties. For instance, Russia might be constrained to support India’s war effort against China. Once upon a time, the same argument, albeit with Pakistan as the adversary, was used to resist purchase of offensive platforms from the US.

Nobody ever thought that two of our suppliers would go to war and plug our pipelines. While much attention has been focussed on India’s diplomatic callisthenics since Russia commenced its ‘special operations’ (war, in common parlance) against Ukraine, India dilemma is not just about balancing its relations between the US and Russia. The government of India’s major concern is to ensure that its armed forces remain in a fighting-fit condition. From the perspective of war-preparedness, the present situation is a small step short of a nightmare.

As the FORCE cover story lays bare, the problem is not merely about future programmes or those that have been contracted for and will be affected by both sanctions and difficulty in payments. The worry is about maintaining and sustaining the inventory that the Indian military currently holds. The indefinite postponement of IAF’s biennial Exercise Vayu Shakti (scheduled to be held in Pokharan), for which it was flying in not only friendly diplomats from New Delhi, but journalists too, was just one of the stark indicators of the precariousness of India’s current holdings. Even after operations cease, restoration of supply lines will take a while—with the US-led western sanctions being just one of the roadblocks.

Apart from underscoring the impact of this conflict on the three armed forces, the FORCE cover story also looks at the missed opportunities of the past when India had the chance to make use of technology transfer to create its own defence-industrial complex and attain some measure of self-sufficiency, at least in manufacturing if not ‘developing’ equipment, spares, as well as ammunition. Well, that horse has bolted.

The other big story in this issue focusses on mental distress amongst the Indian paramilitary forces. This has been prompted by two consecutive incidents of fratricide in early March. In addition to these are articles pertaining to imports, both our own, as well as our neighbours. Of course, there are a lot of news updates from the defence industry and the defence services, in a hopeful sign that life still goes on.

Summer has come early this year. Stay well.



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