Letter from the Editor | November 2022

Two reasons prompted the cover story on China. At the recently held, India-hosted special meeting of the United Nations Security Council’s Counter Terrorism Committee (UNSC-CTC), the Council adopted the declaration proposed by New Delhi. The resolution accepted that ‘terrorism, in all forms, constitutes one of most serious threats to international peace and security.’ Among various issues discussed during the meeting were ‘naming and shaming of Pakistan’ which was expectedly stonewalled by the Chinese representative to the meeting, and ‘countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes’.

A couple of days before the UNSC-CTC meeting, defence minister Rajnath Singh was in Srinagar to participate in the ‘Shaurya Diwas’ celebrations which marked the arrival of Indian troops in the Kashmir Valley to thwart the invasion by Pakistan in 1947. In his address during the celebrations, he referred to the prosperity that revocation of Article 370 and creation of the Union Territory of Ladakh had brought to the region. Then, not stopping at this, he added, ‘Our aim is to implement the resolution unanimously passed in Indian Parliament on 22 February 1994 to reclaim remaining parts, such as Gilgit and Baltistan.’ Incidentally, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor runs through Gilgit-Baltistan and any assertion of reclamation is akin to showing a red-flag to China.

It is unlikely that Singh deliberately chose to provoke China. Singh, like most of his colleagues in the government, seems to have assumed the ostrich-like pose when it comes to the grave threat of war from China. They seem to be living in a fantasy world where the prime minister has the final power to determine what India’s threats are based on electoral calculations. The reality be damned. In this backdrop, it was only natural that FORCE puts the focus on the immediacy and the extent of the military threat from China.

The other focus of the issue is the post-mortem of the hurriedly organised DefExpo2022, spread across four locations in Gujarat. While the show itself was held in two convention centres in Gandhinagar divided by a 2km long park, the demonstrations were held at Sabarmati river front in Ahmedabad and Porbandar with the distance of roughly 380km between them. Needless to say, this edition of the defence exhibition was unprecedented, not only because of multiple venues, but also because of the nature of the show itself—it was all local. Since the show dates clashed with at least two pre-decided international shows, most global exhibitors could not commit to DefExpo. Turning necessity into virtue, the government decided to rebrand the show as Indian only. As our DefExpo coverage shows, it would have been better if the show was deferred and held alongside Aero India in 2023. But then, the elections in Gujarat are now. And they take precedence over everything.

Be safe. Be hopeful.



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