Components of Indian grand strategy

Components of Indian grand strategyDr Muhammad Khan

Monday, August 26, 2013 – Chanakya wrote three books namely; Arthashastra, Nitishastra and Chanakya Niti. In Sanskrit, Arthashastra mean the science of material gain. The book is a classic example of statecraft. The theme of Arthasastra is totally amoral. Chanakya considers the classic general issues of politics — relations with neighbouring countries, increasing the national wealth, ensuring the loyalty of subordinates — and dispassionately reviews techniques such as assassination that contemporary India is following strictly. Unambiguously, Chanakya believed that, “There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth.” Chanakya also known as Kautilya gave clear rules for war and diplomacy in this book. Being from the realist school of thought, he laid down policy guidelines for the king of his time to run the affairs of the kingdom. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and subsequent Indian leadership, irrespective of party affiliation, strictly followed those rules, as part of Indian grand strategy.

The policy guidelines begin with Peace, as the first component. This indeed is the soft power approach, as today’s India has a policy of secularism and democracy at the face of it. Though peace is first component of the Chanakya’s six-fold strategy, he believes that, “The only time a king will make peace is when he finds himself in relative decline compared to his enemy.” Indeed, this is a temporary phase and for the projection of soft power approach. The contemporary India follow this principle to the limits as laid down by its originator; until India is not powerful enough to compete and over through its enemy. At the regional level in South Asia, it has not maintained peace with any of its neighbours. It tried to prevail over China through the famous slogan of Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai in 1950s. Upon development of differences and clash of interests, there was a brief war in 1962 and in matters of days, China over run the Indian military defenses along Sino-India border. India met humiliating defeat; its defense positions proved as a sand dune in front of powerful Chinese Army.

Following this defeat, India is apparently maintaining peace with China, as it can do nothing against this Asian giant. In May 2013, there arose some tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), between India and China. India withdrew its claims, dismantled the military post and its Foreign Minister visited China for the continuation of a peaceful relationship between both countries. Following its nuclear blasts of May 1998, Indian Defence Minister, George Fernadus issued very strict warnings to Pakistan and even threatened to attack, the Pakistani administered Kashmir. It was a time that, Pakistan was indecisive to detonate or otherwise, its nuclear arsenals. Upon Pakistani nuclear explosions on May 28, 1998, there was a U turn in the Indian policy and the followers of Chanakya, sent messages of peace and living with harmony at the neighbourhood. Indeed, Pakistani nuclear blasts brought a strategic stability in South Asia and in the subsequent year, February 1999, then Indian Premier; Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Pakistan for the promotion peace and good neighbourly relations. In Lahore, at Minar-a-Pakistan, Premier Vajpayee read verses from his poetry, “We will not let the war happen.” Indeed, the indirect effect was of a nuclear deterrence and strategic stability brought by nuclear weapons of Pakistan, against the Indian military might.

The second component of the Chanakya’s guideline is to be offensive; war. He considered that, “When a king is in a superior position compared to his enemy, he will attack and wage war.” There are countless examples of today’s India following this guiding principle. Almost all South Asian countries are prey to Indian aggression, directly or indirectly. To start with, Pakistan was the first victim of the Indian military aggression and war hysteria. Pakistan had not settled itself once India waged a war against it in Kashmir; 1947-1949. Since Pakistan was militarily weak and economically backward, therefore, India maintained a continuous pressure on it, through wars like; 1965 and its dismemberment in 1971 and posturing to wage wars as happened in 1986/87 (Brass tacks exercises), 1990, 2001/ 2002 (major military mobilization) and 2008, after so-called Mumbai attacks. Indian has over 60% military deployment against Pakistan, especially in Occupied Kashmir. Under its Cold Start strategy, India has deployed its offensive corps all along the Indo-Pak borders and along the LoC. India is using all methods of direct and indirect wars against the state of Pakistan. It is promoting terrorism within Pakistan, through its spying network and using soil of a third country; Afghanistan for waging indirect war against Pakistan. Besides, this South Asian hegemonic power has been promoting instability and civil wars in other South Asia countries. Through Hindu Tamils, it supported the insurgency in Sri Lanka. Through Maoists separatists, it has destabilized Nepal, In the Chittagong Hills; India is promoting Shanti Bahini against Bangladesh.

The third guiding principles is; Neutrality. The principle states, “If a king feels that his enemy and he are equal and neither can harm the other nor ruin the other’s undertakings, then he shall choose to do nothing.” India has projected itself to be a neutral country, right from mid 1950s. It became the founding member of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) in 1955. However, in the garb of neutrality, India is continuing its covert military action against all its neighbours. Other guiding principles include Marching; which dictates, “When a king increases his own power and has special advantage over his enemy, he will take part in the fourth approach of Kautilyan foreign policy by making preparations for war”. India has carried out ten military exercises in last six years near the Pakistani border. It has tested all battle drills and procedures in connection with the preparation for war. Alliance formation is yet another principle of Chanakya’s statecraft. Today, India has strategic alliance with US, Russia, Israel and most of European countries. The most significant guiding principle is Double Policy, which means, “making peace with one and waging war with another.” Despite its strategy of two-front war, India is in the process of improving its ties with China, but pursuing aggressive designs against Pakistan, may it be the firing along LoC or its reluctance to negotiate other unsettled issues between India and Pakistan.

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