Letter from the Editor | July 2023

Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s first state visit to the US was a critical event for the future course of India, its sovereignty and security. Making common cause with the US against China, India has signalled that it is willing to stretch the strategic partnership to a de-facto alliance. India has agreed to provide its shipyards for US naval vessel’s maintenance and repairs. This is a huge step from the LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement) signed by India in 2016 which allowed US warships turn-around facilities (fuel, rations etc) on case-to-case basis. With US’ propensity to shift goalposts, India, over time, might end up granting temporary bases to US warships.

India has also signed up for more US equipment which will eventually become part of a common network shared between ‘allies’ for real time ISR. Nothing wrong with that, except that all of this is aimed against a common enemy, China, which is not only India’s immediate neighbour and its major trading partner, but also in occupation of Indian territory. Worse, in concert with India’s historic adversary, Pakistan, China now presents the challenge of one common, extended front from west to east. Since, US’ interests are maritime—in the confluence of Indian and Pacific Oceans—and Indian threat on the land, the closer it gets to the US’ interests more it exposes it flanks to Chinese retribution. And, on the land, India will be on its own, because there are limits to friendships between unequal partners. The July story explores the many ways in which Modi’s US visit has increased India vulnerabilities, taking it closer to a war with China.

Overshadowed by the high-profile visit was continuing violence in Manipur. Mysteriously and dangerously, this border state has not attracted adequate attention of the policymakers in New Delhi who seem sanguine in the belief that the ‘law and order’ problem can be handled at a local level. Weeks ago, the conflict in Manipur had acquired sectarian and communal overtones—a deadly mix, susceptible to exploitation by inimical neighbours; and India has plenty of them. Our story on Manipur underscores the need for immediate high-level intervention to restore a semblance of control.

The July issue also has a number of technologically-intensive articles—a consequence of the Paris Air Show, which took place after four years. Our detailed story on the show and news updates from Le Bourget show how gloriously the world has embraced physical events after living in the shadow of Covid pandemic. May hope always triumph.

In addition to these are our usual columns, news updates and features. Read on.



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