Monday, March 19, 2018

Commentary: The Stealth Threat Has Arrived on our Borders ... What is the Way Ahead?

19 Mar, 2018 | Lt Gen (Dr) V K Saxena (Retd), PVSM,AVSM,VSM, Distinguished Fellow, VIF

Stealth and Air Defence
The stealth muscle in the air threat vehicles of today is one dimension of survivability that is fast becoming a nightmare to the air defence warriors. Why so? Because, survivability directly translates into lethality. The relationship is fairly simple. Stealthy machines, by managing to become near invisible to the sensors of the adversary, not only survive by avoiding the onslaught of the defender's air defence arsenal, but also with all the smart and intelligent arsenal at their disposal, cause disproportionate damage by getting to attack the defender's vulnerabilities nearly undetected and unchallenged. A shadow boxing of sorts, detection of stealthy air threat vehicles is therefore an operational compulsion.
Stealth Threat we Face Today
Has the Stealth threat arrived at our doors? Yes, for a one word answer, if we were to examine some features of the frontline aircrafts with our northern neighbour which are fast approaching operationalisation and are making waves all over in the professional circles.
The case in point is Chengdu J-20 (Black Eagle), a stealthy fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) with the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), optimised for long range strikes. Starting its first flight on 11 Jan 2011, J-20 was planned for induction in Jan 18. In Mar 2017, Chinese media reported that the aircraft has entered initial operational capability phase with the Air Force1,2. In Sep 17 it was reported that J-20 officially entered military Service with the PLAAF3. In Oct 17, Chinese media reported that Chengdu Airspace Corporation (CAC) has initiated series production for J-20 and is on a path towards achieving full operational capability4. Though very few details are available about the said FGFA, it is assessed that the aircraft is likely to have a very strong stealth muscle.
For instance, the alignment of the outer surfaces of the aircraft is are so configured as to have all surfaces at the same angle. Such an arrangement (called Planform Alignment) reflects defender's radar signal in a definite direction away from the mother radar, making the aircraft invisible to the radar. In addition, the aircraft is likely to be painted with the state-of-the-art Radar Absorbing Material based on nano-substances and active carbon coats. This is likely to enable the aircraft to absorb most of the defender's radar energy and reflect back so little as to prohibit the defender's radars to detect the craft.
The avionics of the aircraft are so designed that it rarely offers its underbelly or its heat emitting points ( engine nozzles etc) to a full and sustained view making it difficult for the defender's missiles (especially heat seeking missiles) to lay on the aircraft and track it consistently (a precondition for missile launch).
Another stealthy feature of the aircraft relates to its weapon bays. Unlike the conventional types which always exposed to full view and hence provide strong signals for detection, weapon bays of this aircraft are fully concealed inside the body, only opening for a brief moment of firing. This reduces the aircraft's electronic signatures a great deal.
Subject Matter Experts are comparing the stealthy muscle of J-20 with the likes of F 22 Raptor, F 35 Fighting Falcon, Su- PAK FA, the Japanese ATX, or Korean KAI KF-X (last two still under development). The question is not which aircraft tips the other or otherwise, the grave fact is that the stealth threat in a tangible measure has arrived at our doors. An expert analysis has opined that J-20 has the potential of a high performance stealth aircraft. With the ever strengthening military bond between our neighbours on the North and West, the likelihood of seeing these machines on our West is only a matter of time.
Shenyang J-31 Gyrfalcon or Falcon Hawk is also maturing alongside as a fifth generation twin engine, mid-size, stealthy, multi-purpose medium fighter. Starting with its first flight in Oct 12, the aircraft is due for induction in 2018-19. The aircraft is likely to have comparable stealthy features as quoted above5.
If that is the shape of things firming up, where is the doubt that the stealth threat has indeed arrived at our doors. In the years to come, it is also likely to make its unwelcome appearance on our Western border.
Dealing with the Stealth Threat
If we have to counter the deadly threat from such multi-role stealth fighters like J-20, J-31 and others, we need to have sensors that can detect them in the first place. Thanks to many a state-of-the-art stealth technologies on board stealth aircrafts remain undetectable by the old conventional radars. Also, since most of such class of aircrafts have long standoff capabilities, these are likely to strike while remaining in the Beyond Visual Range (BVR) domain. It follows, that if these machines have to be countered, they must be detected electronically by our sensors at long ranges. How do we do it?
Basically, when the Electro Magnetic (EM) waves from the surveillance and other radars of the defender fall on the stealthy (also called Low Observable) aircrafts, these either get absorbed, diluted or deflected in one or multiple directions away from the mother radar. This results in the mother radar getting very weak to nil reflected signal from the aircraft, thus remaining unable to detect the stealth aircraft and paint it on its screen.
Air Defence warriors the world over are working to break the above trick one way or the other. The anti-stealth technologies are referred to as Counter Very Low Observable or CVLO technologies. Some emerging trends in the CVLO domain are briefly summarised below:-
• Experiments have shown that in contrast to the latest ultra high frequency compact radars, lower frequency radars are better suited to detect stealthy targets. Hence countries around the world engaged in the business of anti-stealth radars are producing radars in the lower frequency bands.
• Also, since the stealthy targets reflect back the defender's radar signals away from the mother radar, the trend is to produce radars so that transmitter of radar and its receiver are paced at different location (called Bi-static Radars). Also, for one transmitter, more than one receiver is placed at different locations thus increasing the probability of detection.
• Experts world over are also exploiting the lasers for detection of stealth targets. Laser waves, because of their short wave length, high beam quality, strong direction-ability, and high measuring accuracy, can successfully detect stealth targets. Radars using Laser waves are also called LIDARS (Light Detection and Ranging) 6.
• Another prevalent concept is Passive Detection, or more precisely, Passive Coherent Location (PCL). In this, the radars do not transmit any radar energy but achieve detection of targets based on receiving electromagnetic waves (EM) waves that hit the stealthy targets from multiple domains, such as Digital Audio Broadcast etc..
Focus India
While much is happening all round the world, what does it mean in our scenario? A possible way forward is suggested as under:-
• Since the stealth threat is very much alive at our doors, it is imperative that all new radars being procured for target detection and fire control must be stealth capable.
• It is fortunate that several legacy missile system held with the forces actually had the sensors in the low frequency bands, and hence capable of detecting stealthy aircrafts. These must be kept alive.
• Efforts must be made by our R&D to provide stealth capable radars to the forces. In this, head start is available along multiple routes of Joint Ventures/Memorandum of Understanding/Transfer of Technology (JV/MoU/ToT) etc. with foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) under the "Make in India" initiative.
• In the context of producing anti stealth equipment, what applies to the defence public sector is also equally applicable to private industry. Since the stealth muscle in our scenario is just about maturing, it is only going to become a more and more prominent feature of the futuristic air threat. Opportunities to develop stealth detectable radars for indigenous consumption, as well as for the export market either on the 'go alone' mode, or through technological tie ups, is thus an emerging business opportunity.
• In the Def Expo 2016, some radars were stated to be able to detect birds and unmanned aerial vehicles, sense-n-avoid situations, foliage penetration and portable ground surveillance. There is a need to build further on these capabilities and grow into the anti-stealth domain.
Indian Position
With what has been stated under the head 'Focus India' above, the net Indian position as of date and actions required in the foreseeable future can be summarised as under:-
• There is a need to start factoring the stealth threat in all qualitative and quantitative analyses of air threat from our potential adversaries and develop strategies to counter the same through multiple mediums. These may include optimising the existing inventory of radars, developing and procuring new anti-stealth equipment and putting out the cyber counter capability.
• Towards optimising, the vintage low frequency radars capable of CVLO must be retained and keep alive. As to new inductions, there is a need to insist that the future indigenous development of sensors is stealth capable (capability already stands demonstrated). Besides this, the Indian R&D establishment must venture into niche CVLO technologies by catching on the world trends and getting a head-start through joint ventures etc.
• And finally, the cyber warriors must train their soft arsenal towards debilitating the electronics and electromagnetics on board the stealthy machines of fifth generation warfare.
Such is the exciting and dynamic field of stealth and anti-stealth. The eternal cause-effect duel between the prosecutors of air threat and defenders there from, is only going to become more intense and interesting in so far as it pertains to the 'magic of invisibility' on one end and the resolve to 'find the invisible' at the other. And with stealth already at our door, we need to equip ourselves to deal with the same adequately
End Notes:
1.'s-j20-stealth-fighter-flies-fighting-forces-says-stat-media. Accessed on 04 Jan 18
2. ChengduJ20. Accessed on 04 Jan 18
3. Popular Mechanics 29 Sep 17 >china's-J20-stealth-fighter-is-operational. Accessed on 04 Jan 18
4. Jane's Weapon Systems 26 Oct 17> cina's-J20 -fighter-moves-into-series-production. Accessed on 04 Jan 18
5. https://www.>blog>america's-F35-stealth-fighter-vs-china's new j 31 who wins. Accessed on 04 Jan 18
6. Accessed on 04 Jan 18. Accessed on 04 Jan 18
(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान में हालिया विरोध क्यों

6 Feb, 2018 | Prateek Joshi, Research Associate, VIF

गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान काउंसिल, इस्लामाबाद द्वारा आयकर (अनुकूलन) कानून, 2012 के तहत प्रत्यक्ष कर लागू करने का ऐलान होने के बाद हाल में समूचे गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान में जबरदस्त विरोध प्रदर्शन शुरू हो गए। विरोध की अगुआई अंजुमन-ए-ताजिरान (जिसका मोटा अर्थ व्यापारियों की समिति है क्योंकि ताजिर का अर्थ व्यापारी होता है) और अवामी एक्शन कमेटी (एएसी) ने मिलकर किया था। कुछ दिन पहले प्रदर्शनकारियों ने कर के प्रति अपना विरोध जताने के लिए कराकरोम क्षेत्र की हाड़ कंपाने वाली ठंड में भी स्कार्डू से गिलगित शहर तक (करीब 150 किलोमीटर दूरी) “लंबा जुलूस” निकालने की घोषणा कर डाली थी।
भारतीय मीडिया ने इन घटनाओं पर झटपट प्रतिक्रिया दे डाली और समाचार चैनलों ने इस क्षेत्र के विवादित दर्जे का हवाला देते हुए इन्हें स्वतंत्रता पाने के लिए सत्ता के खिलाफ आंदोलन बता डाला। हालांकि पाकिस्तान सरकार ने दबाव में आकर अधिसूचना वापस ले ली, लेकिन जो हालात बने, उन्हें देखकर गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान इलाके के माहौल पर चर्चा करने के लिए बहुत कुछ है। इसीलिए यदि गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान के माहौल और पाकिस्तान सरकार तथा उसकी संस्थाओं के साथ उसके रिश्ते को समझना है तो वहां चल रहे खेल को, विशेषकर अगुआई कर रही अवामी एक्शन कमेटी के खेल को और उसके प्रमुख कारणों को समझना जरूरी है।
20-22 धार्मिक और राष्ट्रवादी दलों के समूह अवामी एक्शन कमेटी की स्थापना करीब चार वर्ष पहले हुई थी और 2014 में गेहूं की सब्सिडी खत्म करने के पाकिस्तान सरकार के फैसले का विरोध करने पर वह बहुत लोकप्रिय हो गई। करिश्माई वकील और तत्कालीन संयोजक अहसान अली के नेतृत्व में अवामी एक्शन कमेटी के आम लोगों से जुड़ाव और सबको जुटाने की उसकी रणनीतियों ने उसे जनता में बहुत लोकप्रिय बना दिया। पहले किए गए विरोध में अवामी एक्शन कमेटी ने कारगिलवासियों को मिलने वाली सब्सिडी का हवाला देते हुए कारगिल चलो का नारा दिया। यह बड़ा मुद्दा है क्योंकि पड़ोसी लद्दाख को गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान के मुकाबले अधिक फायदे और राजनीतिक प्रतिनिधित्व मिलता है।
दुर्भाग्य से 2014 में ही अहसान अली को संयोजक के पद से इस्तीफा देना पड़ा, जिसके बाद उन्होंने एक्शन तहरीक की बुनियाद डाली, जिसने अवामी एक्शन कमेटी को समर्थन दे दिया। दूसरी ओर अवामी एक्शन कमेटी को नए अध्यक्ष मौलाना सुल्तान रईस मिल गए, जो सुन्नी मौलवी हैं और जिनके कुख्यात संगठन सिपह-ए-सहाबा से निकले देवबंदी संगठन अहले सुन्नत वल जमात (एएसडब्ल्यूजे) से करीबी रिश्ते हैं। एएसडब्ल्यूजे की गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान शाखा के मुखिया काजी नसीर अहमद से मौलाना की नजदीकियों से कोई अनजान नहीं है फिर भी उनकी वाक्पटुता और लोगों को कायल करने की क्षमता ने लोगों को उनका मुरीद बना दिया है।
रईस जैसे पाकिस्तान समर्थक नेताओं के जरिये गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान जनांदोलनों में घुसपैठ कर पाकिस्तानी सरकार ने लोगों को पाकिस्तान के साथ रहने के पक्ष में कर लिया है। इन विरोध प्रदर्शनों की गहरी पड़ताल करने से यह समझने में मदद मिलेगी कि रईस की अगुआई में अवामी एक्शन कमेटी कैसे लोगों के मन पर काबू करने में तो कामयाब हुई ही है, सत्ता की मनचाही राह पर लोगों को चलाने में भी उसे सफलता किस तरह मिली है।
अवामी एक्शन कमेटी गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान में विवाद की बात को मानती है और गाहे-बगाहे ऐसे मुद्दे उठाती भी रही है, जो लोगों को सीधे प्रभावित करते हैं। मौलाना रईस ने अपने एक बयान में कहा था, “गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान विवादित इलाका है और इसके नागरिकों पर कर लादना गैर-कानूनी तथा असंवैधानिक है। जब सरकार गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान की जनता से कर वसूलना चाहती है तो उन्हें देश का नागरिक करार दे दिया जाता है और जब वे समान अधिकार मांगते हैं तो कहा जाता है कि यह विवादित क्षेत्र है।” फिर भी यह संगठन मानता है कि गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान की समस्याओं का एक ही हल है - पाकिस्तान में विलय।
हालिया प्रदर्शनों की प्रकृतिः “टैक्स दो हुकूक लो” का मतलब
आदेश सार्वजनिक होने के फौरन बाद जब विरोध प्रदर्शनों में अलग-अलग गुटों के लोगों ने अपने मतभेद भुलाकर समान उद्देश्य के लिए जबरदस्त एकता दिखाई तो अवामी एक्शन लीग ने (अंजुमन-ए-ताजिरान के साथ मिलकर) पूरे गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान में बंद का ऐलान कर दिया।
“टैक्स दो हुकूक लो” और “नो टैक्सेशन विदआउट रिप्रेजेंटेशन” जैसे नारे प्रदर्शनकारियों को जुटाने का जरिया बन गए। ‘हुकूक’ शब्द के यहां दो व्यापक अर्थ हैं। पहला अर्थ बहुमत के इस नजरिये से जुड़ा है कि गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान को पांचवें प्रांत के तौर पर प्रतिनिधित्व (संसद में सीटें और आम चुनावों में मतदान का अधिकार) और संवैधानिक मान्यता दी जानी चाहिए। दूसरा राष्ट्रवादियों (जिनकी संख्या बहुत कम है) का नजरिया है, जो ऊपर बताए गए अधिकारों की ही मांग करता है। राष्ट्रवादी आगे चलकर संयुक्त राष्ट्र द्वारा अधिकृत जनमत संग्रह के जरिये पाकिस्तान से आजादी चाहते हैं क्योंकि उन्हें लगता है कि निष्पक्ष जनमत संग्रह होने पर गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान की जनता पाकिस्तान से आजादी का रास्ता ही चुनेगी। राष्ट्रवादियों के अनुसार गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान का पाकिस्तान समर्थक रुख आतंकवाद विरोधी अधिनियम, 1997 की धारा 4 जैसे कठोर कदमों का नतीजा है।
भारत का पहलू
भारतीय मीडिया द्वारा की गई व्यापक कवरेज को देखते हुए और प्रदर्शन विवादित क्षेत्र में होने के कारण भारत का पहलू भी विरोध गहराने के साथ गहराता गया। किंतु विरोधाभास भी उभरने लगे।
प्हले तो भारतीय मीडिया के कारण ही पाकिस्तानी मीडिया भी हरकत में आया क्योंकि भारत की ओर से खबरें आने से पहले दो दिन तक तो वह विरोध की अनदेखी ही करता रहा। फिर भी भारतीय मीडिया की भूमिका के कारण ही पाकिस्तान सरकार की नजरों में आने वाली अवामी एक्शन कमेटी ने गिलगित शहर में भारत-विरोधी जुलूस निकाला क्योंकि उसके मुताबिक भारत मुद्दे पर बेजा ध्यान दे रहा था।
एक ओर गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान के मुख्यमंत्री ने विरोध करने वालों को भारतीय एजेंट करार दिया, लेकिन दूसरी ओर सत्ता समर्थक मौलवी की अगुआई वाली अवामी एक्शन कमेटी ने उन्हीं प्रदर्शनकारियों को इकट्ठा किया। इसकी व्याख्या इस वैकल्पिक सिद्धांत से हो सकती है कि विरोध प्रदर्शन संभवतः एजेंसियों के इशारे पर यह जांचने के लिए किए गए हों कि पांचवें प्रांत के मकसद के लिए गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान के लोगों में कितनी एकता है।
पाकिस्तान सरकार संयुक्त राष्ट्र के उस प्रस्ताव से वाकिफ है, जिसमें पाकिस्तान से कहा गया है कि कश्मीर विवाद के समाधान की दिशा में पहला कदम उठाते हुए वह अपने कब्जे वाले कश्मीर (पीओके) से सेना हटाए। लेकिन वह गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान के निवासियों को यह जताने की कोशिश कर रहा है कि प्रांत का दर्जा हासिल करने और पूर्ण अधिकार प्राप्त करने की उनकी आकांक्षा को भारत पूरा नहीं होने दे रहा है।
अगला विश्वसनीय कदम, जिस पर पाकिस्तान सरकार अभी विचार कर रही है, ऐसी संवैधानिक व्यवस्था से जुड़ा है, जिसमें गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान को शक्ति हस्तांतरण एवं राष्ट्रीय प्रतिनिधित्व से संबंधित 2009 के संवैधानिक आदेश से कुछ बेहतर हासिल हो सके। इस संभावना पर पिछले हफ्ते पाकिस्तानी संसद में चर्चा की गई थी, लेकिन अधिक प्रगति नहीं हो सकी। दूसरी ओर भारत सरकार पाकिस्तान के कब्जे वाले कश्मीर के मामले में अपने रुख पर अड़ी हुई है और (चीन का पाकिस्तान आर्थिक गलियारा गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान से होकर निकाले जाने के विरोध में) चीन के बेल्ट एंड रोड कार्यक्रम का बहिष्कार तक कर चुकी है। लेकिन गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान मसले पर वह अभी तक कोई सुसंगत नीति तैयार नहीं कर पाई है।
(लेखक विवेकानंद रिसर्च फाउंडेशन, नई दिल्ली में रिसर्च एसोसिएट हैं। लेख में उनके निजी विचार हैं और वीआईएफ का उनसे सहमत होना आवश्यक नहीं है)

Translated by: Shiwanand Dwivedi (Original Article in English)

Monday, February 5, 2018

Commentary: Japan’s Challenges and Indo-Japanese Connection - Perspectives for 2018

5 Feb, 2018 | Aftab Seth

In the new year, Japan under Shinzo Abe faces many challenges on the foreign policy front. Some of these are perennial problems and others are relatively new.
Among the continuing challenges is the threat of North Korea and its ballistic missile and nuclear arsenals. Japan has had bitter experience in this regard as the Kim regime has regularly shot missiles directly over the Japanese islands and into the Japan Sea. In this context, India has been a staunch supporter of the Japanese position; this was witnessed in the joint statements issued after Abe's visit to India in September and during Modi's visit to Japan in 2016 November. This cooperation is set to continue.
China, and the delicate relations both India and Japan have with the Middle Kingdom will remain a focus of both countries. Japan needs China's help to rein-in Pyongyang, though Japan itself continues to face Chinese threats over the Japanese Senkaku Islands claimed by China. India has supported the Japanese position in this matter.
Though both Abe and Modi have good relations with President Trump, India and Japan will continue to exchange views on how to handle the somewhat erratic turns in US policy. They both have important defense and strategic connections with the USA, bilaterally and in a triangular way as well.
South Korea is one of the other problem areas for Japan. The recrudescence of the 'comfort women’ issue and the expressed intention of the Korean leaders to have a second look at the 2015 Agreement has caused widespread indignation in Japan. India has strong economic and strategic relationship with Korea. It will be in our mutual interest to help Japan and Korea overcome their differences on this emotive issue.
Russia has good relations with India going back decades but Japan has yet to sign a peace treaty with Russia since the end of the war in 1945! This is so despite good relations between Abe and Putin.
2018 will see a further strengthening of defence ties between India and Japan. Starting in 2000, with PM Vajpayee and Modi at the helm, the two countries have seen expansion of cooperation between the two navies, coast guards and other branches of our defence forces every year. The Malabar naval exercises among USA, Japan and India are now an annual event.
The largest ever was held in July 2017 and 2018 is likely to see an even more elaborate show of force.
Abe mooted a quadrilateral connection between India, Japan, Australia and the USA when he spoke to our Parliament in August 2007. His vision became a reality when the four powerful naval nations met on the occasion of the ASEAN Summit in Manila and the East Asia Summit which followed. With the Philippines too India has a growing naval cooperation programme.
Japan will continue to build on the foundations of its work in our North East where it is assisting in extending the infrastructure of roads, railways and waterways. The objective of both India and Japan in this strategically important part of India is to improve connectivity with Myanmar and the larger ASEAN region. Both Japan and India pay highest attention to strengthening ties with all ten ASEAN countries. Presence of leaders of all ASEAN countries in Delhi on the occasion of the Republic Day on the 26th January 2018 dramatically underlines India’s commitment to this vital region. Abe himself showed his seriousness of purpose when after his electoral victory in December 2012, he went to Vietnam in January 2013 and in the space of that one year went to all 10 ASEAN nations.
In November 2016 and September 2017, both Abe and Modi affirmed their partnership in the development of Africa. Mombasa has been identified as the port which will facilitate the entry of Japanese and Indian capital, matrial and human, to assist in growth of African economies.
The underlying principle of India's work with Japan is to ensure the safety and freedom of the seas, to advance the cause of open societies adhering to the rule of law and to discourage hegemonic ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
(The author is a retired Foreign Service Officer and a regarded analyst)
(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)

What does the Economic Survey tell us about National Security?

5 Feb, 2018 | Arvind Gupta, Director - VIF

What does India’s Economic Survey 2017-18 tell us about national security? This may sound an unusual question because in traditional understanding of national security and economy are two separate entities which are not discussed together. The two concepts do not meet except when it comes to providing resources for defence and law and order functions. Economic Surveys do not generally talk about national security.
However, with a broader understanding of national security emerging, it is now a realized that a country must have a sound economy if it has to have robust national security. Economy is the basis of national security. Weak economies are prone to high degree of security risk. Failed states have been recognized as breeding grounds for terrorism, drug running, human trafficking and similar destabilizing factors. Jobs, gender, skills, science and technology, agriculture, climate change, external trade and resources are part of national security discourse today. These are the issues which the Economic Survey deals with in detail. Therefore, the watchers of national security trends should read carefully what the Economic Survey has to say about the health of national economy because of its direct impact on national security
The Economic Survey is upbeat on immediate prospects of economic growth. It estimates that the economy is likely to grow by 7 to 7.5 percent in the year 2018-19. This is good news for the country. But the Survey also cautions that the high oil prices and the likely steep correction in the exuberant and expansive Indian stock market can adversely impact economic growth. The twin balance sheet problem – the weak balance sheets of the banks and that of their clients to whom they have lent – has not been resolved as yet although some steps have been taken in this area. Further, it cautions that the cycle of low investment and low saving rates continues. Investment seems to be picking up but these are still early days. This means that higher economic growth rates cannot be taken for granted.
Hopefully, the higher economic growth that the Survey talks about will translate into more revenues for the Government, leading to greater allocations for defence, diplomacy and internal security. However, the revenues of the Government depend upon receipts, which essentially means higher collection of taxes.
The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has led to a fundamental restructuring of the indirect taxation system in the country. The Economic Survey has a whole chapter on the GST. Its findings are clear. After the initial hiccups, the GST system is stabilizing. This is good news. But we will probably have to wait a few more months to be sure of how much steady revenue will be generated by the GST. Last few months’ collections have been fluctuating. These revenues will have to be divided between the Center and the States. At the moment one can be sure that there has been a healthy increase in the number of indirect tax payers. One can be reasonably hopeful that the impact of GST on national security will be positive because the Government will have a steady stream of revenues which would only increase as the economy grows.
On the direct taxation front, the situation is not so sanguine. The worry here is that tax to GDP ratio in India is only little above 10 percent, one of the lowest in the world. More people need to be brought in the tax net. Some improvement has taken place but we will have to see where there is buoyancy in direct tax collections next year. The Survey also underlines a worrying trend that tier 2 and tier 3 tax collection local authorities are under-collecting the taxes within their powers.
The Economic Survey points to four “headwinds” the Indian economy might face in the near future, namely: Reduced opportunities for exports due to rising protectionism following a backlash against globalization; difficulties in transferring resources from low productivity to higher productivity sectors due to structural factors; lack of human capital needed against demands of the high-technology knowledge economy: and, stress on agriculture due to climate change. These are long-term challenges which will not go away immediately. The country will have to be take many steps to address these challenges.
It is ironic that despite having had a superb record of high quality contributions to world science, India is nowhere near being a global leader in this area. On the technology front, India is a net importer of technology. Brain drain is rampant. A highly intelligent workforce available in the country is being used by foreign companies who are global leaders. Our record in becoming self-reliant in strategic sectors and strategic technologies is below par except in a few fields like space and atomic energy. The country has not been able to build a proper innovation system which can encourage and absorb the desi inventors and innovators.
The Economic Survey has done well to flag the low spending – less than 1 percent of GDP - in the R&D sector. This has direct bearing on national security. Other countries spend much higher percentage of GDP on R&D. Today, the country is importing nearly 70 percent of its defence needs and it has virtually zero indigenous cyber security industry. The Economic Survey says categorically that spending on R&D should be doubled. Additional resources for science and technologies should come from the private sector and universities. It recommends that in addition to the ease of doing business, the country should create a climate for “ease of doing science”. It makes a vital point: India should invest in science and mathematics education, and take a “more mission-driven approach in areas such as dark matter, genomics, energy storage, agriculture, mathematics and cyber physical systems.” These are eminent suggestions which will not only improve the economy but also the national security.
Although the Economic Survey does not say it explicitly, climate change is a major national security threat. Adverse consequences of climate change on agriculture have been dealt with in the Economic Survey in detail. The Survey cites research to the effect that warming of the climate can lead up to 25 percent reduction in crop yields in unirrigated areas. Extreme weather events would become more frequent leading to huge dislocations and more expenditure on disaster management.
Gender issues are an important part of security discourse today. It is the women and children who bear the brunt of wars, migrations, violence, draughts, floods, pandemics and famines. The Economic Survey has some interesting analysis of the gender gap in the country, and of missing female children. The fact remains that discrimination against women, inherent in our socio-economic structures, weakens the country. It is not enough to worship the female as Shakti, it is equally important to empower her. A country cannot count to be strong unless half of its population is cared for.
The key take away from the Economic Survey is that the structure of the Indian economy is changing rapidly both due to a string of fundamental economic reforms undertaken in the last few years and because of the external factors like the relentless march of technology and the global uncertainty about oil prices which are linked to geopolitics. The Economic Survey puts forward a balanced and reasonable analysis of the Indian economy. It offers hope for economic recovery but also cautions about the pitfalls. National security rests on good economic performance. One hopes that the next edition of Economic Survey will have a chapter on national security also.
(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Commentary: From Football Icon to Liberia President - Can George Weah Lead Liberia?

31 Jan, 2018 Neha Sinha, Research Associate, VIF

Liberia is a country in West Africa which is bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast with an area of 111,369 square kilometers and population of approximately 4.6 million people. It has a republic system of government where the president is the chief of state and head of the government. The country is in the process of reconstructing a mixed economy. This will encompass restricted form of individual freedom merged with weak centralised economic planning and government directives. Liberia is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). For fourteen years the country remained under civil war and during this phase of conflict more than 250,000 people died and around 1.3 million people were displaced from their homes.
Political Scenario in Liberia
Liberia has faced a turbulent history marred by years of civil war and the 2014 Ebola epidemic. The country has not witnessed a peaceful transition of power since 1944. Mrs. Sirleaf became the first woman to be elected the Head of State in Africa in 2005. The country faced two civil wars, first from 1989 to 1996 and the second which occurred from 1999 to 2003. Mrs. Sirleaf, in her 12 years of power, tried to make the country a better place to live in, as the two civil wars had left Liberia; once a moderately prosperous country, in ruins. For her contribution to democracy, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Despite her efforts, the country remains one of the world’s poorest and she has been criticised over constant poverty and corruption charges. Half of the population of Liberia remains poor and about half of them suffer from inadequate food security. Generating employment remains the country’s most important domestic priority.
On the 26th of December 2017, the country experienced the first peaceful transition of power in 73 years. After the completion of two terms of Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, a former international footballer Mr. George Weah was elected President of Liberia. It was Mr. Weah’s second attempt at the presidency as a candidate. In 2006, he lost his first attempt to Mrs. Sirleaf. The Liberians were commended by the United Nations Security Council for the conflict-free conduct of elections. Apart from its people and government, the Security Council has also praised the political leaders and civil society organizations for their commendable job. Also, the media was applauded for the peaceful conduct of elections.
India-Liberia Relations at a Glance
India-Liberia relations date back over six decades of strong bonds of friendship and economic cooperation. It was President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first Head of State from Liberia to visit India in the year 2013 when the following agreements were signed between the two countries:
• Joint Commission between both the nations were established;
• MoU between Foreign Service Institutes of both the nations;
• In the field of Oil and Gas - MoU on cooperation;
• Decision regarding funding of power transmission and distribution project in Liberia, with an agreement between Exim Bank and Government of Liberia for a Line of Credit of US$ 144 million.
Prior to this, the only visit was by President Samuel Doe in 1983, that too, to attend the Non-Alignment Summit held in Delhi. In the year 2009, Dr. Shashi Tharoor visited Liberia which was the first visit by an Indian Foreign Minister since 1971, where he brought to limelight the interest of several Indian companies in various economic sectors for development - as Liberia is rich in mineral resources. Moreover, the country is rich in agricultural resources like rubber, coffee and cocoa. In 2015, Minister of State, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Mr. G Siddeshwara went to Liberia personal invitation of Prime Minister’s to invite Mrs. Sirleaf for the third India Africa Forum (IAFS) Summit at New Delhi. During her address in the IAFS, she thanked the Indian Government and its people for the support that India had extended to Liberia to combat the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). She mentioned that the level of trade between the two countries continues to expand and access to India’s Duty Free Tariff Preferred Status enhances the partnership further.
At present, there are around 2000 Indian nationals settled in Liberia. Initially, the Indian community was mainly engaged in trading industries, however; nowadays, the diaspora is also moving towards manufacturing sector. The diaspora has made substantial contributions to the Liberian economy and the trade during the year 2016-17 stood at US$153.96 million. The main items of export to Liberia are pharmaceuticals products, food items, steel, iron, plastic, etc. - while wood, metals scrap and natural rubber are the items that India imports from Liberia. In the year 2017 -18, India provided 70 training slots to Liberia under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme. The Indian Council of Cultural Relations also granted fully paid scholarships to six person for post-graduation. Liberia has shown its complete support for India’s desire for a permanent membership of the United Nation Security Council. In addition, India’s contribution of two contingents to United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), both 125-member strong has been well appreciated by Liberia. It was in the year 2007, that the first-ever women’s contingent of United Nation Peacekeeping i.e. the Female Formed Police Unit (FFPU) was sent to the United Nations Mission in Liberia.
To further strengthen the relationship, a significant role can be played by the establishment of an Indian Embassy in Liberia. India does not have a Liberian Mission in New Delhi. The opening of a Mission will give both the nations an edge to facilitate the bilateral movement of people and goods. This, in the long run will propel and promote business relationships between the two nations.
At present, the country looks forward for a better and efficient leadership of George Weah. It would not be an exaggeration to say that much is expected from the newly-elected president to make his country a better place to live in. A wise man once said “With great power comes great responsibility” -- a quote which couldn’t have been a better yardstick for Mr. Weah and his country in the months ahead.
(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)