कुर्दिस्तान और कैटेलोनिया में हुए दो जनमत संग्रहों ने पूरी दुनिया का ध्यान खींचा है। वे अलग-अलग हिस्सों में हुए हैं और उनके पीछे ऐतिहासिक संदर्भ भी अलग हैं। लेकिन एक बात समान है। दोनों ने लोकतंत्र में स्व-निर्णय की संभावना की सीमाओं को कसौटी पर कसा है। प्रतिक्रिया से साफ पता चलता है कि अंतरराष्ट्रीय समुदाय विभाजन की ओर ले जाने वाले और स्थापित देशों के टुकड़े कराने वाले स्व-निर्णय के पक्ष में नहीं है। प्रक्रिया अभी चल रही है। लेकिन प्रमुख रुझान साफ दिख रहे हैं।
इराक के कुर्द इलाके में जनमत संग्रह का आह्वान इराकी कुर्दिस्तान के राष्ट्रपति बरजानी ने 25 सितंबर, 2017 को किया था। उसमें 72 प्रतिशत मतदान हुआ, जिसमें से 92 प्रतिशत लोगों ने स्वतंत्रता के पक्ष में मतदान किया। कैटेलोनिया के जनमत संग्रह में केवल 43 प्रतिशत लोग शामिल हुए और उनमें 90 प्रतिशत ने आजादी पर मुहर लगाई।
कुर्द जनमत संग्रह
इराक के कुर्द स्वायत्तशासी क्षेत्र में हुए जनमत संग्रह का इराकी केंद्रीय सरकार ने और दोनों पड़ोसी देशों ने विरोध किया। मतदान से पहले तुर्की के राष्ट्रपति ने कुर्द क्षेत्र से तुर्की में होकर गुजरने वाली पाइपलाइन काट देने की धमकी तक दे डाली। ईरान ने कुर्दिस्तान की सीमा पर सेना तैनात कर दी। इराक के प्रधानमंत्री हैदर अल-अबदी ने कुर्द क्षेत्र से अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानों की आवाजाही के लिए हवाई क्षेत्र बंद करने की घोषणा कर दी। उन्होंने यह घोषणा भी कर दी कि सीमा पर जिस आवाजाही को स्वायत्तशासी कुर्द क्षेत्रीय सरकार संचालित करती है, उस पर नियंत्रण के लिए भी इराकी कर्मचारी नियुक्त किए जाएंगे। इराकी सरकार की शिकायत के बाद इराकी सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने जनमत संग्रह रोकने का आदेश दिया। इसके बावजूद कुर्द क्षेत्रीय सरकार ने मतदान कराया। इराकी सरकार के रुख को इराक के शीर्ष शिया नेता अयातुल्ला अली अल-सिस्तानी ने भी समर्थन दिया और जनमत संग्रह को खारिज कर दिया।
जनमत संग्रह को अमेरिकी समर्थन भी नहीं मिला। अमेरिकी विदेश मंत्री रेक्स टिलरसन ने 29 सितंबर को जारी बयान में दोहराया कि “अमेरिका कुर्द क्षेत्रीय सरकार द्वारा सोमवार को कराए गए इकतरफा जनमत संग्रह को मान्यता नहीं देता है। मतदान और परिणाम वैध नहीं हैं और हम अटूट, संघीय, लोकतांत्रिक तथा संपन्न इराक का समर्थन जारी रखेंगे।” बयान में इराकी केंद्रीय सरकार अथवा इराक के पड़ोसियों को बल का प्रयोग नहीं करने की सलाह दी गई। अमेरिका की चेतावनी के बावजूद इराकी सेना आगे बढ़ गई है और किरकुक को घेर लिया है। अमेरिकी विदेश मंत्री के बयान में कहा गया, “आईएसआईएस/दाएश के खिलाफ जंग खत्म नहीं हुई है और चरमपंथी गुट अस्थिरता तथा विवाद का फायदा उठाने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं। अपने इराकी साथियों से हमारा अनुरोध है कि वे आईएसआईएस/दाएश को हराने में लगे रहें।” लेकिन दाएश के खिलाफ मोर्चा कमजोर होना तय है क्योंकि सीरिया में कुर्द जमीनी सेना का इस्तेमाल आईएसआईएस की संचार व्यवस्था खत्म करने के लिए किया जा रहा था।
कैटेलोनिया का जनमत संग्रह
कैटेलोनिया की क्षेत्रीय सरकार के राष्ट्रपति पुजदेमोन ने 1 अक्टूबर को जनमत संग्रह का आह्वान किया। स्पेन के प्रधानमंत्री राहोई ने जनमत संग्रह का विरोध किया और कसम खाई कि उसे नहीं होने देंगे। स्पेन की राष्ट्रीय पुलिस के दंगा-निरोधक दस्ते और सिविल गार्ड ने बल का प्रयोग किया, जिसके कारण पुलिसकर्मियों समेत सैकड़ों लोग कथित तौर पर घायल हो गए। मतदान के बाद 10 अक्टूबर को पुजदेमोन ने पहले तो स्वतंत्रता की घोषणा करने वाले जनमत को मान लिया, लेकिन बाद में स्वतंत्रता की घोषणा नहीं की ताकि बातचीत हो सके। इस विरोधाभास के पीछे असली राजनीति की खींचतान काम कर रही थी।
कैटेलान स्पेन के सबसे संपन्न प्रांतों में शामिल है। लेकिन उसे भाषाई भेदभाव सहना पड़ता है। स्पेनिश ही स्पेन की एकमात्र आधिकारिक भाषा है। इस शिकायत को स्पेन में रहते हुए ही अधिक स्वायत्तता के जरिये दूर किया जाए या नया देश बनाया जाए, इनमें से एक विकल्प चुना जाना है। 1978 के स्पेन के संविधान ने कैटेलोनिया को स्वशासन का अधिकार दिया है। किंतु क्षेत्रीय स्वायत्तता का मतलब अलग होना नहीं होता। कैटालोनिया की क्षेत्रीय संसद ने सितंबर में “स्व-निर्णय जनमत संग्रह कानून” पारित कर दिया। स्पेन के सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने इसे राष्ट्रीय संप्रभुता तथा “स्पेन राष्ट्र की अटूट एकता” के खिलाफ करार दिया। स्पेन के प्रधानमंत्री संविधान के अनुच्छेद 155 की मदद लेने की कोशिश में हैं। उन्होंने घोषणा कर दी है कि वह कैटेलोनिया की सरकार को बर्खास्त कर देंगे और छह महीने के भीतर नए सिरे से चुनाव कराएंगे। अनुच्छेद 155 स्पेन की सरकार को असाधारण कदम उठाने का अधिकार देता है। प्रस्तावित कदमों को अब स्पेन की सीनेट ने मंजूरी दे दी है।
ब्रसेल्स में 20 अक्टूबर को हुए यूरोपीय संघ (ईयू) के शिखर सम्मेलन में कैटेलोनिया पर बातचीत नहीं की गई। हालांकि बेल्जियम के प्रधानमंत्री ने मैड्रिड पुलिस द्वारा की गई हिंसा की निंदा की। ईयू परिषद के अध्यक्ष डॉनल्ड टस्क ने कहा कि संघ के 27 अन्य नेताओं के अपने-अपने ‘आकलन, विचार, विश्लेषण हो सकते हैं किंतु औपचारिक रूप से कहा जाए तो इस मामले में ईयू के हस्तक्षेप की कोई गुंजाइश नहीं है।’ यूरोपीय संसद के अध्यक्ष अंतोनियो तजानी ने दोटूक शब्दों में कहाः “यूरोप में कोई भी आजाद कैटेलोनिया को मान्यता नहीं देगा।”
कुर्दिस्तान के जनमत संग्रह का प्रभाव इराक की क्षेत्रीय अखंडता पर ही नहीं बल्कि तुर्की, सीरिया और ईरान पर भी पड़ सकता है। इन तीनों के सीमावर्ती क्षेत्रों में बड़ी संख्या में कुर्द आबादी रहती है। हालांकि जनमत संग्रह के पैरोकारों ने वृहत्तर कुर्दिस्तान की बात नहीं की है, लेकिन पड़ोसियों को डर है कि यदि ऐसा देश बन गया तो उन देशों में मौजूद कुर्द अल्पसंख्यक भी उसकी ओर आकर्षित होंगे। कैटालोनिया में जनमत संग्रह से पड़ोसी देशों को किसी तरह का खतरा नहीं है। फिर भी उन्हें न तो यूरोपीय संघ से और न ही स्पेन के पड़ोसियों से प्रोत्साहन मिला।
कुर्द क्षेत्र और कैटेलोनिया हर ओर से जमीनी प्रदेश से घिरे हैं। दोनों में काफी संसाधन मौजूद हैं। इराक के 30 प्रतिशत तेल संसाधन कुर्द क्षेत्र में ही हैं, लेकिन वहां कोई स्वतंत्र आउटेट नहीं है। तेल का निर्यात तुर्की के रास्ते होता है और वहां भी अच्छी खासी कुर्द जनसंख्या है। कैटालोनिया स्पेन का सबसे अमीर प्रांत है। चूंकि जनमत संग्रह के नतीजों की घोषणा हो गई है, इसलिए राजनीतिक विकल्प बेहतर नहीं होते हैं तो दोनों क्षेत्रों की आर्थिक स्थिति खराब होगी। इराक का कुर्द क्षेत्र किरकुक का नियंत्रण इराकी सरकारी सेना के हाथों गंवा चुका है। आईएसआईएस के उभरने के बाद से ही कुरकिक पर कुर्द आतंकियों पेशमर्गा का कब्जा था। वहां इस क्षेत्र के सबसे बड़े तेल भंडार तथा रिफाइनरी मौजूद है।
कुर्दिस्तान और कैटेलोनिया के जनमत संग्रह पर तो अभी काम चल रहा है, लेकिन उन जनमत संग्रहों का क्या, जिनके कारण वास्तव में देश बने हैं? दक्षिण सूडान को ही लीजिए, जहां 99 प्रतिशत दक्षिण सूडानियों ने आजादी के पक्ष में मत दिया है। सूडान के इसी क्षेत्र में तेल मिलता है। लेकिन निर्यात के लिए सूडान के बंदरगाह तक जाने वाली पाइपलाइन सूडान के क्षेत्र से होकर गुजरती है। आजादी के बाद से दक्षिण सूडान पाइपलाइन के शुल्क को लेकर सूडान के साथ विवाद से जूझ रहा है। इसी बीच डिंका और नुएर कबीलों के बीच गृहयुद्ध छिड़ गया है, जिससे तेल का उत्पादन बहुत कम हो गया है।
कुर्द जनमत संग्रह के नतीजे को तुर्की, ईरान और इराक नकार चुके हैं। उसे अमेरिका का समर्थन भी नहीं मिला है। कैटेलोनिया के जनमत संग्रह को यूरोपीय संघ का समर्थन भी नहीं मिल पाया। दक्षिणी सूडान को आजादी तो मिल गई, लेकिन वह और भी गहरे संकट में फंस गया। राजनीतिक, आर्थिक अथवा सामाजिक तकलीफों का समाधान समाजों और कई जातियों वाले समाजों को बांट देने में नहीं है।
(लेख में लेखक के निजी विचार हैं और वीआईएफ का इनसे सहमत होना आवश्यक नहीं है)
Myanmar historically had three distinct periods. The monarchy which lasted from the 9th to the 19th century comprised, chronologically, the Pagan Dynasty, the Toungoo Dynasty and the Konbaung Dynasty. The army during this period was a powerful one in the South East Asia, which was ultimately defeated in 1824 by the British after a 60 years struggle. The Army during this period was based on conscription and consisted of infantry, elephants, cavalry, artillery and naval units. Weapons were initially procured from the Chinese which had become integrated by the end of the 14th Century. 16th Century witnessed the introduction of special musket, the Portuguese matchlocks and cannons. Technological gap compelled the Army to buy arms from the Europeans. The Army could defeat the Portuguese and the French in the 17th and the 18th centuries respectively but failed against the British in the 19th century. They lost the three wars against the British and finally Burma was in the latter’s control by 1824.
The British did not trust the local army and initially used the Indian Army to secure the country. Later a few units were formed of the Karens, Kachins and Chins. The Burmese population’s loyalty was doubted and was kept out of the security structure. Just before the beginning of the First World War, the only indigenous military regiment which comprised Myanmar citizens were the 70th Burma Rifles made up of Karens, Kachins and Chins. It was during the First World War that the British relaxed the ban, raising a Burmese battalion in the 70th Burma Rifles, a Burmese Company in the 85th Burma Rifles and seven Mechanical Transport Companies. In addition, three companies of Burma Sappers and Miners, made up of mostly Burmese, and a Company of Labour Corps, made up of Chinese and Burmese were also raised. It is interesting to note that all these units began their overseas engagement during the First World War. The 70th Burma Rifles served in Egypt for garrison duties while the Burmese Labour Corps served in France. One company of the Sappers and Miners distinguished themselves in Mesopotamia at the crossing of the Tigris.
The British knew the fighting capabilities of the Burmese and their ability to challenge authority with regard to their employment against the domestic population. Accordingly, the British practically abolished all Burmese units after the First World War. They consolidated their position and made Burma a separate colony on 01 April 1937. At this juncture they decided to permit Burmese citizens to join the Army but the citizens did not respond as they could feel the mutual lack of trust. It is pertinent to note that prior to the Second World War, the British Burma Army comprised 27.8 percent Karens, 22.6 percent Chin, 22.9 percent Kachin, just 12.3 percent of the Burmese and the remaining British.
In December 1941, the Burma Independence Movement gathered momentum and a group of Burmese activists formed the Burma Independence Army (BIA) with Japanese assistance. This was led By General Aung San who happens to be the father of the current political counsellor Ms Aung San Suu Kyi. The Army had strength of about 23000 and there were internal disturbance between the Burmese and Karens. This organisation was soon transformed into a ‘Burma Defence Army’ on 26 August 1942 and later into the ‘Burma National Army’ on 01 August 1943. General Ne Win became the Commander when the Japanese occupying forces allowed Burma to gain nominal independence in 1943. After the defeat of the Japanese and disillusioned with their occupation, the Burmese Army joined the Allies on 27 March 1945. This brings us to the third period which relates to the post independence era.
Myanmar became an independent republic on 04 January 1948 with U Nu as the first Prime Minister. Unlike other British colonies, it did not become a member of the Commonwealth. At this time the Tatmadaw (the Army) was weak and lacked organisational cohesiveness. Prior to independence, in September 1945, the Tatmadaw was reorganised by incorporating the British Burma Army and the Patriotic Burmese Force. The British also decided to form class battalions based on ethnicity. There were total of 15 rifle battalions out of which six were Burma Rifles, three Karen Rifles, two Kachin Rifles, three Chin Rifles and one Gurkha Rifles Battalion. The British held important appointments till 1955 and on 01 January 1956 the Ministry of Defence was formed with General Ne Win as the head of the Tatmadaw.
The political situation deteriorated in 1957 and General Ne Win was invited to form a Caretaker Government by Prime Minister U Nu on 28 October 1958. Elections were conducted under the care taker Government in 1960 and U Nu was re-elected as the Prime Minister. On 02 March 1962, General Ne Win staged a coup and formed the Union Revolutionary Council which ruled the country. He formed the Burma Socialist Programme Party whose members were mainly military personnel. There were uprisings again in 1988 which was controlled by the military. Aung San Suu Kyi emerged as a national icon and the only way was to have a reorganised military organisation known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) which permitted elections in 1990. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) swept the elections but SLORC refused to recognise the results and placed Suu Kyi under house arrest. The Tatmadaw drafted the Constitution in 2008 and allotted 25 percent of the seats in the Parliament to the Armed Forces. Elections were held in 2010, followed by another in 2015. The NLD swept the elections and Htin Kyaw was made the President while Ms Aung San Suu Kyi was made the State Counsellor. A slow transition to democracy is likely to take place in the near future. Aung San Suu Kyi is the defacto head of the Government.
The Tatmadaw had its first test immediately after independence was granted to Burma (now Myanmar). The first step was to consolidate the borders in the difficult terrain. At the beginning of 1950, Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) troops under General Li Mai with support from United States, invaded Burma. Their aim was to use Burmese territory to attack the People’s Republic of China. Units of Tatmadaw attacked but failed to remove the attackers due to logistic reasons. The KMT held on till they were finally evicted by joint military operations by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Tatmadaw. The area occupied by the forces was 30000 square kilometres. The operations commenced on 22 November 1960 and concluded on 09 February 1961. The KMT fought in small columns dispersed over a large area. They were able to escape in large numbers due to jungle terrain and their ability to fight in small teams. The Tatmadaw got their territory liberated and consolidated their gains and it has been friendly with the PLA ever since.
As per Military balance 2017, strength of Tatmadaw is 406,000. The strength of the Army is 375000. The Army’s Order of Battle is as under:-
• 14 Regional Military Commands organised in six Bureau of Special Operations, • 7 Regional Operational Commands, • 20 Military Operational Commands (Divisions), • 10 Light Infantry Divisions, • 10 Armoured Battalions, • 7 Artillery Battalions and 37 independent Artillery Companies, • 7 Air Defence Battalions, • 40 Intelligence Companies, • 45 Advanced Signal Battalions, • 54 Field Engineer Battalions, • 4 Armoured Engineer Battalions, • 14 Medical Battalions, • Equipment comes from China, Russia, Ukraine and other countries.
The Myanmar Navy is small in size and has strength of 16000 personnel. It has two stealth frigates, four frigates, and a large fleet of fast attack crafts capable of firing missiles and torpedoes, patrol boats and river craft which make them a versatile force of a total of 122 vessels. It is comparable to the Bangladesh Navy and is mainly trained by the Chinese and Russians. The Navy defends the coastline and participates, where required, in counter-insurgency operations.
The Myanmar Air Force is the aerial branch of the Tatmadaw. The primary mission of the Myanmar Air Force, since its inception, has been to provide transport, logistical and close air support to the Myanmar Army in counter-insurgency operations. It is also used in relief missions. The strength is 15000 personnel and it has 229 aircraft. The main combat aircraft are:
• Mig-29 - 31, • A-5 of China - 21, • J-7 of China – 24, • JF -17 of China – 16, on order.
The Tatmadaw has tremendous political clout in Myanmar.
Tatmadaw and the Rohingya Crisis
The current crisis with the Rohingyas in Rakhine province is being calibrated by the Tatmadaw. The Rohingyas on their part have remained isolated and made no effots to have peaceful relations with other communities in Myanmar. They have formed the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) also known by its former name Haraqah al Yaqin which is an insurgent group operating in the Rakhine province. The group was possibly formed in 2013 following the riots which have intermittently been taking place since 1978. As per authorities in Myanmar, the group is assisted by foreign Islamic terrorist groups. The ARSA is led by Ata Ulla, a Rohingya who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and grew up in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Tatmadaw has stated that the group is linked to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
The Tatmadaw was compelled to intervene in the Rakhine Province after the ARSA launched concerted attacks on a large number of police posts. The ARSA however, despite their Islamist connections, have denied being a Jihadist outfit, though on 25 August 2017, the Myanmar Government has formally categorised the group as a terrorist organisation. It is recently reported that China has working out a plan between Myanmar and Bangladesh for return of the Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh back to Myanmar. The plans are currently being worked out and as of now concrete action is yet to start. In this scheme of the Myanmar Government led by State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi Tatmadaw would be a principal player. Therefore, the Myanmar Government is careful in dealing with the Tatmadaw.
Tatmadaw and India
India is a good friend of the Tatmadaw. On 07 July 2017, the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing undertook an eight days visit to India. India sees Myanmar as a land bridge to the South East Asia. It would also like to offer an alternative to the Chinese support to the Tatmadaw. To this end, in the July 2015 Joint Consultative Commission meeting, the framework for military cooperation was laid down. India stands committed to support modernisation of the Tatmadaw and assist in building a professional Myanmar Navy. India is also grateful to Myanmar for its assistance in counter-insurgency operations in the North Eastern states.
Myanmar has evinced keen interest in Indian defence equipment. Myanmar has purchased artillery guns, rocket launchers, rifles, radars, mortars, bailey bridges, night vision devices, war gaming software, naval gun boats, sonars and acoustic domes, and there is a separate deal to supply torpedoes. Navies of both the countries have undertaken joint patrolling and the Indian Army has started training their personnel. As per the Shillong Times dated 21 November 2017, ‘15 Officers from the Myanmar Army and 16 Officers of the Indian Army were training together at the Umroi Cantonment from 20 to 25 November under the Red Horns Division in a Bilateral Exercise IMBAX- 2017’. The focus of the training was on tactics, procedures, expertise and methodology required by the contingents of the member nations serving in United Nations Peace Keeping Operations (UNPKO).
Partnership with China India is reaching out to Myanmar in a big way to balance China’s influence in this region. China is equally active and is leaving no stone unturned to woo Aung Sang Suu Kyi. Myanmar is an important component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with numerous projects being planned in Myanmar. The most important one among these is the development of the port at Kyaukpyu. China is planning to use the port as a source for its pipeline leading to Yunnan. It is reported that China has invested $7.3 billion in this project. China also mediates with the warring groups in Myanmar, particularly with the United Wa State Army in the Shan state. India has no such leverage. But the visit of the Myanmar Commander-in–Chief to India is possibly a signal that India is an important partner in Tatmadaw’s calculus.
Tatmadaw has played a historic role in shaping Myanmar. Post independence, since 1948, it has been governing the country. They have drafted a New Constitution in 2008 which has resulted in a slow transition to Democracy. With 25 percent of the seats in Parliament and retaining the important portfolio of Defence, the Tatmadaw remains politically important even then. The military focus of Tatmadaw has been on internal security, particularly in fighting with Karen, Kachin, Mon, Shan and other ethnic minority groups.
The Tatmadaw is undergoing modernisation with help from China, Russia and India. It has been able to aptly balance its relations with the PLA and the Indian Armed Forces. The Tatmadaw will remain an important component of the Myanmar political structure in the short term. India should continue to strengthen Tatmadaw and build bridges of friendship with Myanmar.
(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)
As Islamic State (IS), or ISIS (Daesh) is continuously losing territories in Iraq and Syria and with the imminent likelihood of it’s fading into oblivion, sooner than later, the questions that haunt our society and the geo-strategic community, in particular, are: What after IS? What does the future of global Jihad look like?
In a previous article, evolution of global Jihad was outlined from the 1980’s to the rise of the so called Caliphate. Dynamics of Jihad in the early stages when nationalist and tribal sentiments dominated the Jihad was also analyzed. It was argued that in the early phase, the idea of Jihad was more or less a mobilizer, a catalyst but the deep undercurrents and objectives were largely political. In the second phase, one witnessed the rise of transnational jihadi outfits like Al Qaida which, though active since the mid-90s, made its grand entry on the world stage with the 9/11 bombings of the Twin Towers in New York. Despite the largely theological motivations, the Al Qaida (AQ) was still a political entity first and religious second. Four years later, by 2005, AQ went into a kind of hibernation mode but its diffused networks strengthened and navigated their channel across and within a diverse Muslims world. In the next stage, IS brought in the emotive concept of the Caliphate to the fore. This marked a major leap forward in the politico-religious agenda of its predecessor Jihadi entities. It was distinct and markedly different from its predecessors and parent organizations like AQ in terms of brutality, theological moorings, and most notably, in its appetite for violence over a widely disbursed geographical expanse focusing mostly on the European countries.
IS is now rapidly losing its territorial possessions, disposed of nearly 75 percent of what it had as rapidly acquired since 2014 when its leader Al Baghdadi announced the establishment of the Caliphate. AQ is cross with the IS and from the present standpoint, any kind of union between AQ and IS seems unlikely. In purely military terms, aerial bombings accompanied by swift and coordinated moves by the Iraqi/Syrian forces against IS targets have borne fruits with their prized possessions like Mosul and Raqqa, amongst others, having already been liberated. But is it an occasion for celebration for the world counter-terrorism community? Is it a resounding victory or onset of more elusive, hazy and difficult challenges?
Military reverses suffered by IS, it must be admitted, are not accompanied by the proportionate decrease in its ability to inspire. And, the effects can be seen in a totally new form of terrorism, i.e. lone-wolf attacks. The most recent incidents of London Tube bombings, Barcelona and Manchester attacks, Nice attack in France and the subway attack in Germany and more such incidents of lone-wolf terrorism, where there is no command and control structure, no hierarchy and no direct involvement of trans-national terrorist organizations, stand testimony to their ability to launch attacks within Europe and UK, almost at will., giving the impression that such lone-wolf attacks will be the future form of terrorism now and even after the IS is ‘completely’ defeated. This would make the task of counter-terror agencies even more difficult. The leaders and handlers of organizations like AQ can be arrested, their funding can be stopped, they can be made to face sanctions; IS can be routed with aerial bombings, leaders can be assassinated with drone attacks but lone- wolves cannot be easily identified and arrested until the attack has taken place. They do not operate through organized networks; hardly use any circuitous funding pathways or territorial strongholds that can be dismantled with advance actionable intelligence for pre-emptive military action. Hence, the pertinent question in front of the counter-terror policy makers is to understand the new form of leaderless jihad, i.e. lone wolf attacks, and how to stop them?
Motivational Part of Terrorism
Across the world, counter-terrorism apparatus have so far focused on the operational part that includes special operational techniques, carry out targeted drone attacks and high-profile intelligence driven operations to track the operatives and disrupt flow of money and funding sources. However, the motivational part in terrorism has not been under strong focus for various reasons ranging from as trivial as its lack of glamour characteristic of high-profile counter-terror operations to a shallow understanding of the ideological motivation and the overall processes contributing to intense levels of radicalization/indoctrination. The key to unlocking the above mentioned novelty of leaderless jihad in terrorism lies in unraveling the secrets of ideology and understanding the patterns of radicalization.
In his article, ‘ISIS Made Jihad Religious Again’, Graeme Wood, an expert voice on IS uses the expression “democratization of jihad”. The expression is dangerous, scary and dark but indicates a lot about the future of terrorism. Wood certainly uses the expression in the context of the myriad instances of lone-wolf attacks. But, it indicates a phenomenon of which lone-wolf attacks are just manifest symptoms. The phenomenon which he is pointing at, pertains to the domain of jihadi ideology resulting in what we sum up in a rather abstract manner as radicalization. The exploration of ideological dynamics becomes essential on account of developments described herein.
In 2001, AQ commanded an army of 400 and almost a decade after IS had mobilized 40,000 people to travel to Syria and Iraq to join the Caliphate. It included cadres, mostly from Muslim majority countries, but also a number of Western countries, and even from countries like Chile and Japan with relatively less Muslim inhabitants. Further, this figure does not include those individuals who could not eventually join the group because their government prevented them from going and it also does not include thousands of Jihadis active in North Africa, South Asia, and Afghanistan. The figures simply show the meteoric rise in the numbers and the diffusion of the jihadi extremism across the globe.
There could be a range of factors motivating the lay followers including the westernized, alcoholic, cocaine-snorting youth from far off lands to join IS or go on a killing spree in a crowded area using a truck or a sharp edge weapon. It could also come from their disturbed and unstable lifestyles, mental vulnerability emanating from a highly indulgent lifestyle, sense of alienation, economic deprivation and an allure for an ideology promising anchorage, and a path with a certain determination assuring salvation and redemption from the past sins. However, the lure of ideology has always remained a rather difficult-to-touch domain among the intellectuals because of the fear of being perceived as Islamophobic. As a result, one comes across persistent attempts by the leaders of the faith to deny any theological moorings of Islamic extremism, in general.
Religion First-Politics Second
Until recently, Obama administration’s dubious efforts at nomenclature like “violent extremism” are the blatant examples of how we are sitting with our eyes closed and letting the baby monster become a giant. No doubt, factors like bad governance, shifting social mores, civil wars, failed states, corruption etc. have played a major role in the rise of violent Islamic extremism but focusing on the role of above mentioned factors to the exclusion of ideology smacks of duplicity and hidden or naïve political approach. However, after the rise of IS, it would be a sheer tom-foolery for any counter-terror analyst to play down the role of ideology. For any future policy analysis, it becomes essential to understand the unique brand of ideology that IS presents and the way it inspires the youth.
Terror outfits like AQ, Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) had political projects like withdrawal of American troops from the Middle East, Afghanistan, end of Israel and freedom for Kashmir etc., but IS represents a phenomenon which is primarily driven by religious under-pinning. Graeme Wood says that former counter-terror analysts like Ali Soufan ignore in their understanding of the differences between IS and its predecessor AQ, is the former’s emphasis on Islamic theology and law. He writes in Foreign Affairs, “IS has made religious questions the core of its mission. It enforces orthodoxy on topics such as who qualifies as a Muslim, whether Muslims may live in non-Muslim lands, how an Islamic State should administer itself, and when Muslims should overthrow their leaders. Al Qaeda was political first, religious second; it was conspiratorial—an exclusive club of operatives—and practical. ISIS is religious first and political second; it is public, non-exclusive, and religiously uncompromising”.
The notion of Takfirii.e. apostasy is very dangerous in Islam. The Prophet had said that if an accuser of apostasy is wrong, then he himself becomes an apostate. The punishment for apostasy is death. The break-away leader of AQ, Zarqawi, the chief intellectual architect of IS widened the definition of apostasy by including activities like selling alcohol or drugs, wearing western dresses or shaving one’s beard, voting in an election or standing in an election and being lax or reluctant about calling other people apostates. Shi’ism is considered a departure from the original teachings of Quran which implies rejecting the sanctity of the Quran in its original form. Shiite practices like worshipping the graves of Pirs and self-flagellation etc. are rejected as having no basis in Quran. As a result, 200 million Shias of the world are apostates and marked for death as a punishment.
IS wants to bring back the most original and authentic 7th-century legal system of Islam and ultimately bring an apocalypse. Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, IS’s chief spokesperson, had called on the Muslims in western countries such as France and Canada to identify an infidel and “smash his head with a rock”, poison him, run him over with a car, or “destroy his crops”. While uttering this language, Adnani gave theological and legal justifications and it echoed what Prophet had said that if the Muslims are in the land of infidels, then they should be unmerciful, and poison away. Further, he said , “we will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women”. IS gives religious justifications for slavery, selling of women and crucifixion and it is a fact that in the early wars of Prophet, he did resort to the aforementioned tactics.
Further, it presents a distinctive variety of Islam that believes in the Day of Judgment and apocalypse as a matter of its strategy. This can be seen in the fact of IS giving huge importance to Dabiq (a place mentioned in Quran where Islamic armies will defeat the armies of Rome). Virtually every decision and law promulgated by IS confirms to “Prophetic methodology” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad in punctilious detail. Musa Carantonio, the IS sympathizer based in Australia told Graeme Wood, National Correspondent, The Atlantic, that once a Caliphate is declared, it becomes a religious duty for all Muslims to migrate to the Caliphate. If a Muslim does not pledge allegiance i.e. baya’a to Caliphate, he or she dies a death of Jahil (ignorant, therefore a death of disbelief. Hopefully, this explains such a large number of foreign fighters joining IS. The Caliph is required to implement Shariaotherwise he will fall into sin. Caliphate has to be continually at war with non-Muslim states. It can’t have permanent treaties and it has to launch Jihad at least once a year against all the non-Muslim lands. It can’t have permanent peace treaties. It can’t send ambassadors to UN and other multilateral bodies because it implies recognizing the man-made law over the law of God and hence, becomes a case for apostasy. Voting, elections and representative governments are forbidden in Caliphate. By this measure, movements like Taliban and Muslim Brotherhood also do not qualify to be Islamic as they have given in to the blandishments of democracy by recognizing elected governments and international bodies. The modern Westphalian international system based on nation-states is not at all compatible with the idea of Caliphate.
Princeton Scholar, Bernard Haykel, a leading scholar on IS’s theology opines that the ranks of IS are deeply infused with religious passion. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. He regards the claim that IS has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. Leaders of Islamic State have taken the emulation of Muhammad as their strict duty and have brought to life those traditions which have been lying dormant for centuries. With the Caliphate, the ghosts of the past have come back to haunt us. It becomes a duty of a Caliph to implement Sharia and bring back the centuries old legal system with all its brutality and to ensure that it becomes a communal obligation of the Ummah (Muslim community). Without a Caliphate, many of the practices are not legitimate, for example, individual vigilantes are not obliged to amputate the hands of thieves. But, once a Caliphate is in place, this law along with a large body of Islamic jurisprudence becomes active and to not implement it or disobey it is a shirk.
Radicalism and Caliphate
The stock of ISIS is its literalism and the seriousness with which they read and follow the religious texts. This makes them the most authentic throwbacks to the Islamic world of the 7th century and coming up with strong theological justifications, it becomes difficult to counter the ideological narrative that they present to the Muslims. However, the vast majority of Muslims have not pledged any allegiance to IS and have rejected the IS as a false representative of Islamic values. Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and crucifixion is not justified at this juncture. But they can’t condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koranic injunctions and the example of the prophet. And, if they take a position that certain core teachings of Koran are not valid now, it will be an act of apostasy in the world of IS. Hence, such a literal interpretation of texts may hold a unique charm for some of the passionate enthusiasts of the religion, but for the balanced and rational minded, it becomes difficult to present a coherent counter-narrative without contravening the core texts. Further, the notions of the apocalyptic bloodbath and the mythological notions of the end of the world, hold a special attraction for psychopaths, perverts and mentally vulnerable looking for the immediate redemption of sins.
The Caliphate is not something coming out of a vacuum. It is a result of a process of which Wahhabism, Salafism, Deobandism etc. are nothing but different stages. Wahhabism, an 18th century movement, is strikingly similar to IS in its literal interpretation of texts except for the fact that it is not wanton in violence and destruction. Similarly, the Salafis which offer a hardline alternative to IS, are just as uncompromising as IS. They are committed to expanding Dar-ul-Harb with the implementation of brutal practices like amputation of limbs and slavery-but at some future point in time. Their first priority is of self-purification and religious observance and they believe that Salafis must stay away from politics and must not disrupt governments as chaos creates hurdles in the goals of self-purification. Similarly, Deobandi cadres in India are strictly against worshipping Pirs and tombs and they strictly implement the Sharia in the matters of dress, worship, and hygiene. Hence, the above-mentioned ideologies may not be violent but they fire the forces of radicalization in a vigorous manner which majorly helps in creating foot soldiers of Jihad, including the lone-wolf attackers. Graeme Wood calls such ideologies like Salafism, “the pre-terrorists” among us. And, it is evident from the long process of radicalization which went unnoticed in places like Kosovo, Catalonia, and Pakistan, and which hailed Bill Clinton as a liberator (of Kosovo) in 1999 has become a major supplier of foreign fighters to IS. Since 2000, Kosovo witnessed the intense wave of Wahhabi radicalization sponsored by petrodollars. Similarly, the background to the recent Barcelona attack was also the strong wave of Wahabbi radicalization in Catalonia. The decades of radicalization since Zia-ul-Haq’s regime in Pakistan needs least elaboration. Today, in Pakistan the foot soldiers of Lashkar and Jaish are sympathetic towards IS ideology, it could ruin the fortunes of the established sub-contractors of Jihad like Hafiz Sayeed.
All the above-mentioned ideological streams ultimately lead to the caliphate and apocalyptic bloodbaths. The IS might have lost the territory but has presented the idea that Caliphate is a doable project; it is something that can be attained and must be attained. Baghdadi clearly stated that Caliphate is a communal obligation, “This is a duty upon the Muslims - a duty that has been lost for centuries……..The Muslims sin by losing it, and they must always seek to establish it”. Hence, even after the territorial demise of IS, it will continue to stay as a powerful ideology and inspire the future Jihadist. It is likely that in future another Caliphate may remain a distant dream but through its symbolic and religious value- it will sustain itself and will be the main driving force behind the leaderless jihad, creating a fertile ground for lone-wolf attacks.
Future of Conter-Terrorism
Accordingly, in the future, the task of counter-terrorism establishments will become multi-dimensional, nuanced and more complicated on account of the ideology acting as a major weapon and democratizing the jihad. Policy analysts and agents working on counter-terrorism need to understand the dynamics of ideology and the patterns of radicalization. The internal and personal life journeys of young men and women joining terror outfits or indulging in lone-wolf attacks can tell more about the next possible attack and how the process of radicalization works. The understanding of the ideology can also help us in predicting behavior. For example, an IS like the organization is, in principle, against any kind of peace or reconciliation. Its online propaganda material and the nature of internet radicalization can tell us a lot about its strategy on Jihad and how it will channel its energies and schemes in the future. In the process of radicalization, there will always be a peer group and friendly network which will work as a driving force in getting the recruits. And, such networks will be loosely controlled by the individuals and groups that have vague and blurry connections with transnational organizations. Hence, if the intelligence community has a good penetration in the society and the effective mechanism to track the behavior of suspicious individuals, a big menace can be nipped in the bud itself.
Further, the leaderless jihad is not just a random fight. It is a well-planned strategy. AQ’s document Future Works presented this model in 2009 which stated that jihadist trained in Afghanistan and Central Asia will go back to their homes in Europe and stage crude, low-level attacks which will lend a cover to the large-scale and sophisticated attacks by the transnational terrorist organizations. IS’ Virtual Plotter model is an innovation to what AQ recommended in ‘Future Works’. The ‘virtual plotter’ does not need to be trained in Afghanistan or any other country. They are radicalized and trained in the terrorist tradecraft on the net. And, they are urged to stage low-level crude attacks using whatever weapon that comes their way. Hence, in future security agencies will have to engage in twin-front warfare - on the one hand, deal with the radicalization process to prevent low-level attacks, and on the other hand, tackle high level espionage and security operations to foil large-scale sophisticated attacks.
In India, we have been highly effective in tackling the operative part of terrorism through sound intelligence, busting of terror-financing networks, and effective combat missions. But, we have been very neglectful in dealing with radicalization issues. So far there is no systematic study of the burgeoningDeobandi and Wahhabi radicalization across the country. It is visible in the form of hundreds of Wahhabi and Deobandi mosques mushrooming across the length and breadth of the country, loaded with foreign money. Deobandi and Wahhabi preachers have penetrated remote areas of the country and this phenomenon seems to have largely gone unnoticed. There are visible changes in the dress patterns. Even in small cities one can see females increasingly wearing Burqas and Hijabs. The culture of small town composite and communal harmony has prevailed at large. Muslims largely followed Sufi practices. It was rare to find women in Burqa. In villages, there are local deities which until recently have been jointly worshipped by Hindus and Muslims. But, lately one can witness the burgeoning Deobandi madrasas and strict implementation of Sharia and other religious injunctions in the matter of dress, behavior, social intermingling and dining. It can be seen in behavioral changes of school students who exhibit early symptoms of religious rigidity and make communal demands like special timings for prayers, long vacations for religious festivals etc. Recently it is nonplussing to see huge protest demanding shelter and protection for Rohingya refugees! At this stage, mental associations with the global Jihad are evolving and so it is the right time to nip them in the bud.
Given the above-mentioned state of affairs, a question arises whether we have sufficient intellectual and material infrastructure to address the growing challenges of radicalization. The prevailing view is that conditions are pathetic at the cutting edge, i.e. at the district level where the administrative, enforcement and security officials do not generally know the differences between Wahhabi, Deobandi, and Barelvi schools of thoughts! Their basic awareness of terrorism issues is very poor. The state intelligence agencies are in a bad shape. They are under-staffed, poorly equipped, and short on the state-of-the-art technology, theoretical understanding, and skills needed to do the job. Though we have been at the receiving end of terrorism for decades, still, one hardly finds a center in any of the Indian University dedicated to the systematic study of terrorism and its diverse aspects. Whereas in the West, after 9/11 intense research work on terrorism has been undertaken by Universities, think tanks and governments.
Further, our public intellectuals, media, and academicians have not acted with honesty in opinion-making about the terrorism-related issues. They view any serious attempt to study terrorism from the lens of communalism. And through their distorted understanding of secularism, they have quite successfully thrown all the serious attempts to study the phenomenon of terrorism into the junkyard of binaries like secularism and communalism. Serious issues threatening national security are projected as attacks on the human and fundamental rights of the minority community, and the question of national security ultimately ends up as a joke. For instance, before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) investigations on all aspects of terrorism related incidents started in earnest in J&K, there was hardly any systematic analysis of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) funding of the public unrest and the entire issue was portrayed as an example of state brutality against the so-called ‘innocent’ protestors.
Terrorism is too serious a matter to be left to inadequately informed journalists and fancy social workers. It is a domain of experts. Lay media persons or intellectuals with the superficial understanding of the subject matter must refrain from vitiating the environment and jeopardizing the national security by shielding or empathizing with terrorism and terrorists in the name of secularism and human rights, for petty political considerations and monetary rewards. It is absolutely baffling to see journalists, strategic analysts and intellectuals crying in defense of terrorists like Yakub Memon and Ishrat Jahan.
Gearing Up to Defeat Terrorism
Hence, in the first place, we need to develop a nuanced understanding of terrorism. It, in itself, is a wide-ranging topic. Its different aspects like nature, causes, methodology, propaganda, psychological warfare, suicide terrorism, radicalization etc. must be studied and analyzed in depth. For this, we need academic centers on the lines of Stimson Center, International Center for Terrorism (Belgium) etc., dedicated to research and analysis in the field of terrorism. The outcomes of such research projects must go into policymaking. Such research centers should function with the ideas of convergence of academic/theoretical experts, sociologists, field operatives, intelligence experts and the experts from the field of the Non-Government Organisation (NGO) sector. The cross-fertilization of ideas will enable us to develop a nuanced understanding of the phenomenon of radicalization in general and in the Indian context in particular.
Secondly, the patterns of radicalization need to be studied in detail for future counter-terrorism work. One must keep a strict surveillance on radicalizing networks, peer groups and institutions by tracking their activities in the society, gatherings and their activities on the social media. These days, encryption technology and social media play a major role in providing online access to radicalizing materials and literature. The diffused and shadowy radicalizing networks also function through social media. Hence, we need social media experts who are alert and conscious of radicalizing undercurrents.
Thirdly, intelligence set-up at the ground level needs to be beefed up. State intelligence machinery needs a complete overhaul in terms of technology, skills, motivation and work culture. Currently, they are seen as side postings, engaging officers in a mundane and un-inspiring desk jobs. As a result, there is no motivation to work. Intelligence work needs special aptitude, interests, intuition, and skills. Therefore, people who are cut out for such jobs should only be given such assignments. Theoretical training for the officers in the concepts of Takfiri, Jihad, Salafism, Wahhabism etc. will enable them to develop a mature understanding of grassroots level radicalization trends and patterns. Outreach programs with the moderate and rational individuals will help in generating goodwill and will provide timely intelligence.
Fourthly, civil society can play a greater role in de-radicalization initiatives and rehabilitation of the radicalized youth by engaging in education-related activities, skill, and entrepreneurship development programs.
Fifthly, a counter-narrative to the extremist ideologies must be presented. In this, the Islamic religious scholars should come forward and explain the meanings of Koranic concepts like Jihad and Takfiri in the right context. They must be encouraged to publicly reject the extremist and literal interpretations. In India’s case, we have a tradition of liberal and tolerant Sufi strain of Islam. Sufi and other liberal traditions of Islam must be supported to check the onslaught of extremist narratives like Deobandi School and foreign ideologies like Salafism and Wahhabism. Unless we concentrate on developing a genuine and strong counter-narrative to extremist ideologies, the field would remain wide open for the extremists for the soul harvesting or rather blood harvesting. It must, however, be mentioned here that in doing all these, the role of the governmental machinery must remain that of enablers and facilitators without treading into the sensitive area of religious domain. That could be highly counter-productive and invite genuine concerns of interference in personal religious beliefs and practices of individual citizens.
1) Pandya, Abhinav, “Deconstruction of Islamic Extremism Over the Last Two Decades”, Indian Defense Review, Mar, 2016. 2) Wood, Greame, “What ISIS Really Wants?”, The Atlantic. 3) Wood, Greame, “True believers-ISIS made Jihad Religious Again”, Foreign Affairs. 4) Ganor, Boaz, ‘A New Counter-Terrorism Doctrine for President Trump”, International Institute for Counter-terrorism. 5) Barr, Nathaniel, “ISIS’ Blueprint-The Second Life for Al-Qaida Proposal”, Foreign Affairs. 6) Nanjappa, Vicky, “How Saudis Funded Rs. 1700 crores for Wahhabis in India ?”, One India. 7) Srivastava, Khyati, “ Spread of Fundamentalist Islam in Rajasthan-Are we Missing the Trap?”, India Facts.
(The author is a public relations, economics and policy consultant. He is also a free-lance journalist)
(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)
The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) organized a seminar titled "China's Internal Dynamics, Relations with India & Cyber Security", along with the Prospect Foundation from Taiwan on 01 November 2017. Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director VIF, and Dr. Tan-Sun Chen, Chairman, Prospect Foundation, delivered the opening remarks. Dr. I-Chung Lai, Dr. Yi-Bin Lu, and Mr. Fan Peng participated from the Prospect Foundations whereas Mr. Jayadeva Ranade, Amb. TCA Rangachari, Dr. Sujit Dutta and Lt Gen Davinder Kumar represented the Indian side. The Taiwanese Representative in India, Chung- Kwang Tien, Mr. Jason Huang, Mr. Chihlung Sheng, and Mr. Oliver Harn also participated. Many senior members of the strategic community, scholars from think tanks and universities attended the seminar.
The discussion was divided into three sessions: One, ‘Evaluation of 19th Party Congress; two, ‘China’s Rising Cyber Power’; and three, ‘A Case for India-Taiwan Strategic Cooperation’. Opinions expressed by the Taiwanese delegation in each Session are enumerated in the succeeding paragraphs.
Session 1 : The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping, who holds fourteen formal positions (more than any other CCP leader so far) has emerged stronger from the 19th Party Congress. The biggest takeaway from the 19th Party Congress was that there are no apparent successors, leading to strong speculation that Xi could seek a third term after concentrating his power. The Party Congress emphasised that the People’s Liberation Army should focus on realising ‘Chinese Dream’ for which it should develop “a new military strategy under the new situation”. China will complete the modernisation of its armed forces by 2035 and achieve a world-class military by 2050 that can fight and win wars across all theatres.
Session 2: China has leveraged cyber-enable theft of intellectual property to create its critical mass. Its ‘Internet Plus’ strategy will further help in building its cyber space capacity. However, China is unlikely to be a dominant cyber power as it has inward looking focus. Democratic countries are more deliberate and hence they can build better cyber power in the long run.
Session 3: India and Taiwan have democratic governments and can identify cyber security as a strategic enabler of their unofficial relations. Both have the potential to pool together critical mass capability for strategic cooperation in cyber security.
Making the Services Qualitative Requirement (SQR) for a weapon system or an equipment not only marks the beginning of a defence procurement case, but also is a foundation on which rests the entire edifice of the subsequent procedure. Whether the effort of many years will result in realising the weapon/equipment desired, or the case will fall, is decided in many cases on soundness of the SQR or the lack of it.
It has been more than a year and a half (since March 2016) since the SQR appeared in their new formulation in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016. The run time thus far has however shown that the real power of the new dimensions of the SQRs in the DPP - namely, utilising multiple options, capability to provide to a discerning user the stretch capability in a weapon system in a finite time, rewarding a vendor who promises to provide 'more than the minimum bottom line', not getting tied to a fait-accompli of a lowest quote (L-1), etc. - have somehow not been fully utilised by the users at large.
The above assertion flows out from the observation that in most of the procurement cases now rolling out anew, the users (especially in the Army cases) are by and large still seen to be following the conventional set of a uni-dimensional SQR, where the minimum bottom line profile parameters are quoted as the base line one. There is hardly any attempt to quote a parameter (range, rate of fire, band/area of operability, high altitude capability etc.), which is presently not available but is operationally required in the foreseeable future, and which a prospective vendor can take it as a challenge to provide in a finite time frame provided it resides in their stretch of capability domain. Also, such SQRs as quoted above do not utilise the option of rewarding promising vendors who are ready to provide beyond the minimum bottom line. In that they are doomed to the L-I syndrome where a lower capability and inferior solutions score over more enabled, albeit costlier, option out of further consideration.
This paper makes an attempt to revisit the enabling options now available in the SQR with an aim to provide a brief in drawing out a draft SQR. Since all is not that simple and straight forward as it looks in the DPP narration of SQR nuances, points of caution, based on the author's experience have therefore been quoted, where necessary.
The current format of SQR has the following three parameters:-
Essential Parameters- A (EP-A)
Parameters that are part of the contemporary equipment available in the market and form the core of the SQR. These are to be tested and validated at the Field Evaluation Trials (FET) stage itself.
Essential Parameters- B (EP-B)
The important attributes of EP-B are that while these are not available originally in the equipment fielded for the FETs, the same can be developed and achieved by the vendors using available technologies. EP-B are basically meant to meet different/higher specifications for specific operational requirements. These need to be tested and validated within a specified timeframe as stipulated in the Contract. The said tests must validate that (by having EP-B) there is no adverse effect on any of the EP-A. Also, the vendors need to provide an undertaking (by way of an additional Bank Guarantee between 5-10 percent of contract value) at the bid submission stage that they will develop and meet EP-B. The exact percentage is to be decided by the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) according authority.
Failure to meet EP-B in the stipulated timeframe will make a vendor lose all bank Guarantees. EP-Bs are non-negotiable requirements to be met by the vendor prior to the commencement of equipment delivery. These are to be incorporated only when required. These need to be approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).
Points of Caution
Since EP(B) relates to those parameters which are currently not available in the products being offered for procurement, the user has to be very sure about two aspects of EP(B) before including them in the SQR. The first of these is the conviction of the user, that that a particular parameter (read capability) which is currently not there in the equipment being offered (say a higher range or a higher rate of fire) is essentially required by the user as his operational requirement. Secondly, the user has a total confidence and assurance in his mind that the additional capability being asked for through EP(B) can actually be developed by the vendor in a specific time frame which will be stipulated in the Contract. This belief of the user has also to be substantiated by the vendor before he accepts the commitment of providing the EP(B) parameter in a specific timeframe.
Even before the vendor substantiates (or otherwise) the conviction of the user, the latter must be sure that the 'stretch' capability is something essentially required. Conversely, by implication this would mean that presently the contemporary products in the market do not meet the operational requirement. Taking it forward from here, EP-B will then essentially relate to the technologies that are in the process of realisation; a part realised in the form of products that meet the essential 'core' requirement and a part as 'work-in-progress’ and essentially realisable in a finite and an assessable time frame.
An example to illustrate the above point is quoted below:
There is an Air Defence Gun-Missile System (ADGMS) which features terminal guns and a Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) missile (Fire and Forget Type) on separate platforms. While the above meets the 'core' requirement of the SQR, the user will like to have the following as his operational requirement:-
1. Equipment essentially configured on one platform. 2. The VSHORAD missile should also get a cue from the Fire Control Radar (FCR) during target lay.
The vendor had been working on both the above requirements as a 'technology add-on' to his current product. In that, the first requirement already stands realised while the second one is nearing completion in a few months time. In such a situation, the vendor may accept both the above parameters as EP(B).
It must be ensured that due care and caution is exercised while getting into EP-B, since it has several very critical qualifying requirements. For instance, it is not only the user but the vendor also who has to substantiate that the requirement is supported as true. The vendor has to confirm that it is possible to achieve the capability being sought in a specified time frame which is stipulated in the Contract. Also, he has to provide Bank Guarantee related to substantiated EP-B to be realised. As a point of caution, the vendor has to be very sure on what he substantiates, and what specific timeframe he commits towards its realisation. The failure to meet the non-negotiable EP-B will not only make him loose the Additional Bank Guarantee but also the Performance Guarantee.
In the above context, it is reiterated that technology development is not a geometrical theorem that smoothly proceeds from the statement of problem to its solution, there are many slips in this slow evolution process which need to be appreciated a-priori, and catered for accordingly. Both the user and the vendor must also appreciate one another fact and that is that EP-B realisation is hooked to the commencement of equipment delivery. A non-realisable EP-B (for whatever reason, even unforeseen) will translate into continued equipment void for the user due to non-commencement of delivery and inventory holding cost of realised equipment for the vendor that cannot be delivered.
Another point of importance is the fixing of percentages between 5-10 percent for different parameters of EP-B. The DPP assigns this responsibility to the AoN according authority. Fixing percentages for parameters is a highly professional task and will demand high calibre Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) related technically and operationally to the vertical of the equipment being procured, as well as financial experts. While the latter are available in the AoN according authority, inputs from the former need to be taken comprehensively and evaluated properly.
Essentially, the above will be an exercise of weighing in each of the EP-B parameters and assigning it comparative weightage on a common reference scale so as to state how important is a particular EP-B feature in relation to the overall SQR requirement. With the above comparative inputs at hand, the financial experts will then be able to decide as to what percentage weightage they should accord to each of the specific parameter being asked for in the EP(B). The technical inputs on the comparative value-addition of each of such parameters towards the overall operational requirement can be a suitable guide to allot such percentage weightages. These can be sought from Service experts.
On the flip side, it is the author's opinion that the current taboo on putting in EP-B in a procurement case which is a single vendor case to start with, needs a re-think. There could be a perfect case that a technology actually required in the SQR may just be at the tipping stage and in the capability domain of the single vendor. With controls of Bank Guarantee and more in our hand, it is possible to have EP-B in this case as well, without being fleeced or delayed inordinately.
Enhanced Performance Parameters (EPP)
EPP enhance the capability of the equipment vis-a-vis its Essential Parameters (EP). DPP says that SQRs may not contain EPP in all cases. Inability to meet the EPP is not a disqualification for bidding/bid evaluation. Also the details of EPP are to be provided upfront at the time of submission of technical bids and tested for compliance at FET. EPP attract a credit score by cost up to a max of 10 percent with any of the individual virtues not exceeding three percent.
Examples of EPP are easy to fathom. For instance in a missile procurement case, the SQR range is 15 km. There is an equipment that offers a higher range which actually enhances the capability of the missile vis-a-vis the EP-A. Such a system qualifies for EPP. EPP is actually a very important provision, which actually addresses a long-standing anomaly. For instance, let’s say an SQR states some parameter which is given out in minimum term (minimum range xxxx/ minimum altitude coverage xxxx/ etc.). In earlier times, the equipment that just qualified the minimum term used to get in, while better equipment with higher capability had no chance because it could never match the L-I quote of the minimalistic entry based on the simple logic that higher capability equipment will mean higher cost. This is aimed to be addressed now as the higher capability weapon system which actually enhances the EP-A, also gets cost compensation in L-1 calculus. Obviously, the net gainer will be the user. The task of assigning credit scores to the individual EPP parameters is a highly professional task, something that will require a very high degree of technical and domain expertise. The same must be sought from the experts and built into the proposal.
With this ready guide with the user, it is hoped that the new power of SQR formulation will be better utilised. This will not only enhance the qualitative edge in procurement but will also address several existing anomalies and limitations in the current SQR formulation regime.
(Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VIF)