Letter from the Editor | June 2021

A key ingredient to any policy-making is dispassionate assessment of ground realities. Hence, if one has to make a national security policy, it’s imperative that one factors in the threats, the capabilities of the adversaries versus, one’s own in some sort of SWOT analysis. And then to be on the safer side, exaggerate the enemy’s capabilities, so that you are ‘extra’ prepared for all eventualities.

To those who have difficulty understanding this concept, here is a common place analogy. Say, you have to leave for an important engagement at 10am. You tell your assistant to inform your driver to be ready to leave at sharp 9.45am. To ensure that nothing goes wrong, your assistant tells the driver to be ready to leave at 9.30am. To cover all bases, a conscientious driver would tell himself to be ready by 9.15am. Eventually, you get a cushion of 45 minutes. One would imagine that this kind of caution would inform planning for war as well.

However, a peculiarity of Indian policy-making is that even individuals who are cautious in their personal judgement and decision-making, err on the side of braggadocio when it comes to national security. Hence, our assessments either start with how we are more powerful than our adversaries, or that our adversaries lack that critical war-winning quality which we have. Starting with this presumption, we conclude our assessment with a victory. It requires no brilliance to figure out that when we presume victory at the onset, how our planning would go thereafter.

One year after Indian and Chinese troops fought with one another, causing casualties on both sides, we seem to be stuck with our peculiarity. In our collective minds we will win, should there be a war. But to weave this into planning, we have to make presumptions about how exactly China would fight a war with us. Whether these presumptions are rooted in reality or not is immaterial. As long as they satisfy the nationalistic urges within, they are good to be part of policy planning.

All of this shapes the June cover story, which dwells on what has happened in the last one year since the Ladakh crisis began and what we think has happened. The gap between the two is the remorseless valley which is likely to cause much grief in the next couple of years.

Apart from the mammoth cover story, this issue is laden with expert opinion on a range of subjects, from procurements and defence exports to personnel safety and theatre appropriate equipment. The India and the BRI section looks at China Pakistan Economic Corridor. In the Books section, we have two extracts and an author interview. Plus, our usual news updates.

As the second wave of Covid-19 is calming down, the FORCE team wishes all its readers good health and good cheer. Stay safe. Stay optimistic.






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