Opinion » Comment

Updated: April 5, 2012 00:54 IST

China, India and the lesson of Megara's burning pigs

Praveen Swami
Comment (40)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
STRATEGY: India may well need more hardware but it needs to think about what it needs, and how to use it to best effect like the Megarans. Photo: S.Subramanium
STRATEGY: India may well need more hardware but it needs to think about what it needs, and how to use it to best effect like the Megarans. Photo: S.Subramanium

General V.K. Singh's leaked letter on deficits in India's defence has fostered hysteria. Fearsome as China's military build-up might be, it isn't clear why Indians should be fearful.

In 266 BCE, the armies of Emperor Antigonus II Gonatas laid siege to Megara, hoping to seize the small, but wealthy, city's harbours. The contest was, at first glance, hopeless: Antigonus's armies were much larger and backed, moreover, by phalanxes of battle-elephants.

Faced with certain defeat — the ancient military historian Poluainos recorded in his classic, Strategems in War — the Megarans hit upon a tactic of considerable genius. The city's pigs were doused in resin and set on fire as they were pushed out of the gates. Panicked by the sight of the burning, squealing pigs, the elephants broke ranks and fled, trampling many of Antigonus' army.

Indians panicked by Army Chief V.K. Singh's grim warnings on system-wide deficits in the country's war-preparedness might profit from the lesson of Megara's burning pigs: in war, the side with the bigger guns doesn't always win. The anxiety underpinning much of the debate provoked by General Singh's leaked letter to the Prime Minister isn't hard to miss. The rise of an allegedly-malevolent China, many in India's strategic community fear, makes the prospect of a war almost inevitable: a war that Pakistan, more likely than not, will capitalise upon.

Back in 2008, Defence Minister A.K. Anthony is believed to have issued a formal directive calling on the armed forces to prepare themselves for a two-front war. Mulayam Singh Yadav, India's former Defence Minister, even told Parliament in November 2011 that he had evidence China was “going to attack us soon.” “The attack can take place any time,” he asserted.

Two reasons

The facts behind fears like these are well known. China's declared military budget for this year is $106.4 billion, up from about $91.5 billion in 2011, and in line with a more than a decade-long expansion of over 12 per cent a year, a little over the growth of its wealth. It is expanding its cruise and ballistic missile arsenal; the new Dong Feng-21D, comes with a manoeuvrable warhead that constitutes the first serious threat to United States carriers in the Pacific. It has rolled out a prototype for a fifth-generation stealth fighter and inducted an aircraft carrier.

Fearsome as China's military build-up might be, though, it isn't clear if Indians need to be fearful. India isn't, for one, China's principal threat. Eight of China's 18 Group Armies — the equivalent, roughly, of a corps — face out on its south-eastern seaboard, trained and equipped for a war over Taiwan. “Much of the observed upgrade activity,” the U.S. Department of Defence noted in a 2011 report, “has occurred in units with the potential to be involved in a Taiwan contingency.”

In the Koreas, the People Liberation Army (PLA) must consider the prospect of everything from a full-blown war involving nuclear weapons to a meltdown which could send millions of refugees across its borders. Its forces must be prepared to deal with an insurgency in Xinjiang, and potential disorder in Tibet. They must protect China's trade routes, and guard contested basins of energy in the high seas. Each of these threats could conceivably lead to a showdown with the U.S. — the world's pre-eminent power.

India's second reason not to be fearful of China's military growth is this: the threat is made up of gunpowder, but also hype. The case of China's submarine threat is instructive. Five years ago, analysts in the U.S. were predicting that the PLA Navy would outstrip their submarine holdings by 2011. But Russia, concerned about the expansion of China's naval power, held back on supplies of critical technology — and the U.S. doubled its submarine production.

Last year, the U.S. estimated that China has five nuclear-powered attack submarines, three of them 091 Han-class vessels that are reaching the end of their service lives. In addition, it has some 50 diesel submarines, half of them obsolete, and a handful of experimental ballistic-missile submarines.

The U.S. Navy, though, has 53 attack submarines, four guided-missile submarines and 14 ballistic-missile boats — 71 in all. All this not counting the fleets of its European partners, and regional allies like Japan, Korea and Australia.

Lessons of 1962

None of this, China-sceptics in India argue, is reason to be sanguine — pointing, almost always, to the war of 1962 as an example of the costs of complacency. In fact, that war is an excellent illustration of the proposition that weapons capabilities alone don't win wars. From P.B. Sinha and A.A. Athale's History of the Conflict With China, 1962, an official account commissioned by the Union Defence Ministry in 1992, we know this: “Chinese weapons, equipment organisation and training were better than that of the Indians. But this superiority was only marginal. By itself it would not have proved decisive.”

India's Air Force, notably, was actually better equipped than its Chinese adversaries — crippled because the country's rupture with the Soviet Union had left it without access to spares, and without airfields in Tibet from where its jets could carry full payloads. However, India chose not to use its superior air power — fearing, among other things, that it would open the way for retaliatory strikes.

John Galbraith, the U.S. Ambassador to New Delhi, also lobbied hard against air strikes, fearing his country, then engaged in a stand-off with the Soviet Union over the placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba, would be dragged into the war.

The then-Director of Operations at air headquarters, H.C. Dewan, argued in a 1988 interview that the use of air assets would have been of limited use, since the North-East's jungles provided infantry with cover to the attackers.

Dr. Sinha and Colonel Athale, however, disputed this proposition, noting that air strikes would have crippled China's logistics, and made the passage of its forces through mountain passes lethal going. Either way, the lesson is simple: superiority doesn't mean military victory.

Last year, in a talk delivered around the same time Mr. Yadav was holding out his prediction of imminent assault, the scholar Kanti Bajpai offered several sound military reasons why 1962 wouldn't happen again. He pointed to the difficulties in destroying India's Air Force, necessary to secure China's logistics; the robust defensive positions occupied by India's Army in the Himalayas; the limited capabilities to wage a naval campaign in the Indian Ocean; the risks of internal conflict in Tibet breaking out; and, above all, the risk of a nuclear conflagration.

Dr. Bajpai concluded by asserting that “war between the two countries is not very likely unless one or the other engages in highly provocative, ill-judged behaviour — and even then, with nuclear weapons and air power, it would be very risky to go to war.”

What is to be learned

Indian diplomats have been listening, but not its military: the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute recently stated that India has become the world's largest importer of arms in 2007-2011 — playing catch-up with China, which held top position in 2002-2006. It seems unclear, though, precisely what kinds of war these acquisitions are intended to address. In 2010, former Army Chief Deepak Kapoor spoke of a two-front war. Not many weeks later, Gen. Singh suggested he saw little risk of conventional war, but insisted that India “should have a great amount of conventional capability.”

Precisely what a “great amount” might be has never been defined: in military debates, everything from all-out conventional wars to limited, localised wars in the Himalaya are discussed, often in the same breath. Indeed, it's hard to erase the suspicion that India is still preparing to fight the 1962 war again: its forces are deployed on much the same axis, and its tactical language remains unchanged.

Faced with questions, Indian military strategists often argue that armies need to prepare for possible wars, not just predictable ones. This proposition isn't as robust as it first seems. No army in the world has infinite resources — and in a volatile world, almost any war is conceivable.

Gen. Singh's letter has had the salutary impact of focussing attention on delays and corruption in defence acquisition. It has also had the wholly undesirable consequence of engendering a public culture in which any, and all, military claims for equipment are seen as legitimate.

For India to shape a serious response to the military rise of China, its intelligentsia and military establishment ought be studying China far harder. India's universities, intelligence services and military all have large shortages of staff even familiar with the language of our most important neighbour, let alone the intricacies of its strategic thinking. India may well need more hardware — but it needs to think about what hardware it needs, and how to use it to best effect like the Megarans.

India's pre-1962 military, the official history recorded, conducted “no studies of Chinese war tactics.” “No debriefing was done,” it continues, “after the Korean war to learn about their ways of working and fighting. Nobody seems to have cared to know [sic].” Few, it seems, still do.

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Praveen Swami, who writes so eloquently about Jihadi terrorism, has stumbled while writing about 2 front doctrine or on Chinese threat.

Since 1962, China has emerged into a powerful force militarily and economically capable of challenging the U.S. It is now a strategic partner of Pakistan which had been fighting a proxy war with India using terrorists after failing in three conventional wars.Already Chinese are present in large numbers in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, ostensibly for infrastructure projects.

So if and when we are compelled to fight Pakistan, Pakistan has the option to use its Chinese allies to tie up Indian forces in Northeast. And if that happens it would be disastrous for India. The Army Chief has to be ready for it; this is what 2 front concept is all about.

Fortunately, India and China appear to be keen to build win-win relations. However, Indian defence forces have to keep the powder dry because rarely are wars of one's choosing.

from:  R Hariharan
Posted on: Apr 6, 2012 at 22:27 IST

Defense forces of any country should be ready at all times for warfare. China's strategy in arms purchases is to have strategic balances with forces of Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam (or Japan and USA allies). It also dupes India to match purchase of defense equipment. If India competes with China, it fulfils China's goal as India will be spending money in defense puting aside development. Communists of Russia foolishly entered in the trap of USA in civilian and defense space adventure. A lesson for India. India need not worry now as we have nuclear arms and we should use it to save the country like Kennedy called the soviet bluff in Cuba. Also it is time that USA, Japan, Korea and Arabs have to shell in money to make India stronger. USA got the Arabs money for adventures in middle east.

from:  Jayanthi
Posted on: Apr 6, 2012 at 20:18 IST

What the writer needs to know is that, its not the diplomats who carry weapons during a conflicts, its the soldier. And by god does a soldier needs all the help he wants to stay alive and put an end to the conflicts. Nobody is certain of the China's plans, including China. This is not a China rhetoric but a realistic thoughts. Its is well known that Indian military hardware is aging pile of scrap metal. We do not have sufficient conventional weaponry even as a deterrent ! let alone defend ourselves during the conflict. Do you think that the Pakistan will keep quiet if China tries to play smart ? Army should always equip itself for the worst case scenarios. It's not the diplomats and their forward thinking that you remember when something goes wrong. It's the score of hardworking dead Jawans' ! Let the Defense Institutions decide what they need to buy to strengthen themselves. It's not like India doesn't have enough financial resources anymore !

from:  Varun Pai
Posted on: Apr 6, 2012 at 01:26 IST

On the 1962 border war, the following excerpt from your article, makes interesting reading:

"...India's Air Force, notably, was actually better equipped than its Chinese adversaries — crippled because the country's rupture with the Soviet Union had left it without access to spares,..."

With ruptured relations with the Soviet Union in 1962, and the long standing antagonism with U.S., ever since the birth of new China in 1949, would it seem logical for China to have made an extra enemy by initiating a border war with its southern neighbour at the time?

from:  jinsheng
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 18:41 IST

If war is worth conceivable than why not put most of strategic time in developing war tactics against any adversaries.Put most of budget allocation in defense,make equipment delivery system transparent and prioritized. Pre-1962 India was lacking smart training and region specific strategies,but now we are.Even we fear any Chinese incursion could be fatal.These fear could be outrun by only by defense preparedness and high spirits among personnel.
Army's letter to PM have leaked and showed us the reality but lesson needed to be learnt and if India wish to see a safe and prosper future it must design a global relation and be 100 % sure and safe from Army side.

from:  Abhinandan Prasad
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 12:05 IST

A new world order will surely arrive in future. We may be with or against china. Our power, influence at the point of time will decide where should we belong. All countries today are building advance defense systems, so it will be put into use some day. The history of world is mainly about wars. I am not talking of indo-china, but about third world war, which should happen. This is the rule of universe.

from:  Naresh N
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 10:19 IST

You can count on the Hindu to publish pro-China, anti-India articles. Fortunately the Indian security establishment does not have any of these characters. According to the author almost the entire defence establishment and political establishment is wrong in assessing the Chinese threat. Why is China then openly claiming Indian territory and interfering in domestic matters, and why is China rapidly modernizing and expanding its armed forces. The author's arguments are similar to what was said befoe 1962 and then China attacked India, and India was caught with World War II rifles and minimal ammunition. 100s of soldiers died in 1962 because they ran out of ammunition and because they had sub-standard rifles. History cannot be denied and the future has to be faced with strength with strong armed forces to deter China and Pakistan jointly and to ensure India's economic progress and rightful place on the world negotiating table.

from:  Arivandan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 10:17 IST

The author mentions many credible points. However, some of them suffer
from his inability to empathize with an inferior power (India in this
case) and perhaps a positive bias for communist China. For example, he
mentions that a full blown war is not possible between China and
India, as if to imply that seeking military strength is useless in the
modern era. The fact is full-blown war is matter of past, but indirect
arm-twisting via military-economic strength is order of the day. The
author needs to visit north-east front and hold direct talks with
jawans there to know the over-zealous PLA. Not that PLA is wrong in
being over assertive (INA too would have been in its situation), but
it is equally wrong to not see PLA as a threat, and nor does history
has any clue as to why we should trust China more than Vietnam or
Japan trusts her.

from:  Shashank
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 00:02 IST

The article by Praveen Swamy seems to have caused a lot of confusion
amongst its readers. Most of them have misread the intention of the author. Mr. Praveen Swamy never intended to state that we can become complacent against China’s growing military might. On the contrary he has only advised against any Knee-jerk reactions as an aftermath of Army Chief ‘s letter to the PM that got leaked. He has only suggested that merely piling up of Arms and ammunitions without a proper short term and long term Defence strategy to back them up, wars or even border skirmishes can not be won! And I feel he has hit the nail correctly on the head!

from:  Shahabuddin Nadeem
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 22:21 IST

"China's declared military budget for this year is $106.4 billion, up from about $91.5 billion in 2011, and in line with a more than a decade-long expansion of over 12 per cent a year, a little over the growth of its wealth. " If this is the true reflection of the Indian think tank's common sense of economics, than it is really horrible. Everybody should know that the published GDP growth rate is adjusted after inflation (especially in this case) while the reported growth in military budget is not. The Chinese nominal GDP growth rate is much higher than the the military expenditure growth.

from:  Arun
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 21:27 IST

Assuming that all said by the author is correct and unbiased, what is wrong in being prepared for a likely problem. It is known that we are not known for our preparedness. At least hence forth let us not be caught unaware.

from:  Sethuraman
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 20:01 IST

A wise king should never seek war, but should ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR IT.

from:  madhu
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 19:56 IST

This is just one of many un patriotic pro China articles , that Hindu has been publishing with an intent to camaflouge China's rogue ambitions. Big powers like China ,former USSR ,US would never directly clash with each other .Instead they will try to widen their sphere of influence , by threateing it's neighbours , or expanding their infuence in unexplored geographies by setting up bases etc. So atleast to show that it is a boss , China will one day fall on us. Speaking on nuclear deterrant is ameturish . Considering the retaliation,it would be a last resort to any country . Our concern is all about withholding or repulsing the conventional attack atleast for a few days without any loss of face . Corruption in army purchase is certainly eating our preparedness. Remember where were we in 1999 Kargil war .We could not even move the troops , for the simple reason that there was not enough winter jackets . By 1962 were just 12 year old baby .But now we are a pwer in global politics.

from:  maha
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 17:13 IST

Management pundits were giving IQ then EQ and now what? Propaganda alone cannot
change facts. We fail to realise the change. We carry on with our self praising
mode.A child when talks the word mmma, we are overwhelmed,next word pppa, fine; kkka
fine; but we carry this attitude for every word - encouraging OK; but if the child
thinks that whatever he does is great - then he will have problem in his later life.
We have that tendency, everytime we repeat a thing, we coin different words, and make
it look something great. The whole world knows, we are the largest importer of arms,
import all aircrafts, depend others for service in strategic areas - launch many
satellites - mostly with one single Launch vehicle, PSLV, depend others for our major
application,. France,Japan, Germany - they do not claim, they are great ; but are
meeting other nation's requirement. You have to have something and be a leader -
technology, agriculture, industrial products, others will come to you.

from:  Gopalan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 17:10 IST

Mr Swamy correctly said we have to look for our burning Pigs , War is
not only about the Strength of the weapons and technology , its also
about the Tactics how to use them in way that small things can be
bigger , Although I think the real war is economic war in which we
need to look for China

from:  Ashish
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 16:43 IST

It is indeed highly improbable that India and China go to war.But that does not mean we must not be prepared,Sir.Yes we must learn from the Megaras about the art of winning wars even when you are hopelessly outgunned.Every word you said regarding the lack of Chinese studies is as correct as there can ever be.War mongers like Mr.Yadav must be denounced but it cannot be denied that China is indeed a force we must be wary of.
Moreover,the most concerning aspect of the leaked letter to the PM was regarding the corruption in the armed forces and the Defense Ministry which is slowing down the pace of modernization.As mentioned in a previous article by you,while the Navy and the Air force acquired weapons valuing some billions of dollars the Army had managed to acquire weapons valuing only 420 million dollars.And if the Chief of Army says that our air defense is obsolete,our tanks have no ammunition and night-blind,something is seriously wrong and it naturally causes a lot of concern.

from:  Charan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 15:09 IST

India need to be wary of China and improve its Defence Capability
substantially i.e. capable to defend against China and Pakistan
simultaneously. Besides author is right that many Indians need to
learn Mandarin Language and be deputed not only in China but other
ASEAN countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Burma
and Thailand) where Chinese Dominate in Economy or politics. Besides
India must develop strategic & Relations in Defence area with ASEAN

from:  Atma Gandhi
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 14:13 IST

Praveen Swami makes some relevant points but it is Kanti Bajpai who brings out the truism pertaining to the outbreak of a war, a truism that the doyen of military philosophy Carl von Clausewitz has highlighted in his classic dissertation on Statecraft. War is the outcome of political mismanagement by either avaricious leaders or by those who believe that foreign policy can be kept isolated from the broader strategic template of International Relations. India's foreign policy is being controlled by USA ever since the UPA outfit took office some 7 years back. Under USA's directive we have been antagonising China with the hope that our mindless acts would please USA and we would get a UN high table seat, the carrot that USA has been dangling at us. We seem to forget that our misplaced aspiration will be dashed because China will simply veto it. As a student of Statecraft, I opine that India's relations with China is our most important relationship in the world. Why are we botching it up?

from:  JK Dutt
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 12:23 IST

So does the article imply that we can relax on equipping ourselves and concentrate on simple tactics like the Megarans? The world's most dangerously equipped nations are still acquiring arms. Why? Is it because they lack the pigs' stratagems? In those days, factors like lobbying by other powers (e.g., the Galbraith incident) were absent. It was a straight and simple contest between the fighters. Now, we need to arm ourselves first, and then think of burning pigs if the enemy is a fool like Antigonus.

from:  Ramana Murthy
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 11:59 IST

Full fledged war between china and india is unlikely. India and china could be good friends but we can look at china only with suspision always from the 1962 surprise attack till its close tie-up with our rival enemy clearly shows chinese mentally didnt change..........from my perception, its pakistan taking diplomatic victory and financial benifits from everybody including chinese, americans,arabs and europians at our cost......!!! Yes even in a modern day work.....tactics and stretegy wins....not the supremacy of weapons and forces....i m sure we learned good leason from past and we will never loose to anyone anymore in future bz we indians are ONE.....We need to create more friends in the neighbourhood to tackle the growing chinese aspirations in the region especially in the south east asian including korean, japan, asean and australia.

from:  mohamed hosain
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 11:47 IST

In the changing a world a war is not a distant possibility, but a
possible reality. Given that strategically there is space for a new
super power, given the decline of US and change in the orbit of Russia.
This would mean we should be better prepared to face that rather than
post a sorry figure when it actually matters. we should know that the
military might actually matters, given that the future wars would fought
for water and the major rivers of India originates from the Tibetan Plataea.

from:  Deep
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 11:29 IST

Events at the time of Antigonus is not the same today. Its purely
selective writing given here. we can't send hordes of pigs on fire at
the enemy. China is ambitious and can go beyond all limits. Its specific
interest on Arunachal Pradesh and its many claims are a reason to be
prepared for any kind of action from our unpredictable neighbour!

from:  cyril mathew
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 11:23 IST

I really don't think either India or China are ready for war when you look in the economic prespective. For China, though a well developing nation with high growth rate, still is a developing one with lots and lots of population to feed.Any war waging situiation will cost it dearly and effect it long term.A country with such a huge population cannot afford this kind of damage in any where near future.And coming to India we are not a small or weak nation to take a chance with.though, we do have our own deficiecies in our system.So if really China is intended to become a super power in the world it would not take any chances against neighbour like India, instead develop friendly ties.Despite the facts of its political strategies in international arena it still cannot afford a war with India.
As of India it is always mandatory to be ready with "Big Stick" as the history has taught us many times.Firstly let us restructure our system with commitment and judge ourselves before dreaming war.

from:  siva kumar
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 10:55 IST

Where is any mention of China fighting in Vietnam in 1979? Perfect case study for eastern frontier. How about the dithering and slowness in obtaining ammunition, sensible, affordable equipment that can be used now, not in decades? It is fine to point at historical flaming pork, but in many cases there seems to be a lack both the resin and pigs. Too much time is spent looking for the fanciest, most expensive pig, not learning how to raise pigs locally - instead buying beautiful foreign varities, sampling endless varieties of resin to test fragrance and taste, and waiting for some one to have the vision, imagination, charisma and moral authority to organize/inspire both the pigs and their handlers. And sadly, pigs as a metaphor might not resonate well with people in India for obvious cultural reasons. The author is correct that a panic isn't helpful, and any war India fights will likely be short and sharp. But doing nothing may mean the difference between being France in 1870 or not.

from:  Ed Hayden
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 10:41 IST

I commend the author for his knowledge of the past. But do you really think that the wars or tomorrow will be fought with only conventional weapons? The biggest wars will be in cyberspace. It will be about 'dismantling the enemy' without even firing a weapon. Think again! Strategic Thinkers, Think again!

from:  Vishal
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 10:36 IST

I am not sure how many of us Indians know the realities of China as it being a reserved information sharer. I have been working with a huge number of Chinese colleagues overseas and from what I hear from them is no different from the perception that Indians have on our own Armed capabilities and infrastructure. There was a news from China that they built a 30 level building in just 2.5 days with precision and all, but not many have read the news of 4 skyscrapers in a thickly populated region in China falling down like packs of matches as the quality test on the soil was rigged with graft. China, as much as India, is affected by graft and corruption in every field and this includes the armed forces. My best Chinese friends at work (well educated) have never had any worthy opinion on their armed capabilities and have constantly made fun of the quality of weapons they manufacture.
Good news is, Chinese use homemade weapons as a major portion of their ammunition package.

from:  Prakash Srivatsan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 10:25 IST

Dear Smita, Actually nobody needs a war but when its thrust upon you there is no option but to fight back & for that you have to have some sort of a minimum deterrent.You can't wait for some incident to happen & then react....we have to be prepared for any eventuality.....if a war doesn't take place its great but what if it does????

from:  Sourabh
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 10:20 IST

The author makes several valid points, however he misses one big lesson, Kargil. No one expects wars of 1962, 1971 again, but a strike to change positions on the LoC/LAC are all possible. Looking at the frequency of the chinese crossing the border, internal strife more probable. It is wise to "speak softly" but wiser still to "carry a big stick" (West Africa/Roosevelt) at the same time.

from:  Pradeep
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 09:39 IST

A thought provocative article

from:  Paradesi
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 09:19 IST

In all this war talk I really wonder if any one is willing to realise that the actual cost is of human lives, military and civilian. Mahatma Gandhi in his profound wisdom had much to say about violence: 'An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind'- can't we understand this. Actually, who needs a war? The arms dealer, the middleman, the profiteer, the wrongdoer. What is this thirst for notoriety that drives us to listen to people who profit from destruction? Will it matter to the many who will die in conflict under what idea their lives were sacrificed? Warmongering is a terrible deed; our people must stop now. I don't want a war, I want life. I want our children to live free of this bloodthirsty propaganda. The generation that is warmongering is in its 60s and later. They have lived a full life, never facing any harm; yet they don't hesitate to sacrifice young lives. Is it jealousy and fear of their own mortality that makes them reckless with young lives?

from:  Smita
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 08:46 IST

so the same logic applies to china also right ? why it is building up its forces? Peace can be achieved only when you have power. Otherwise it will be hit first and then talk. In 1999 when we conducted the nuclear tests, there were lot of criticism. now people think it is a wiser move.

from:  hari
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 08:30 IST

This article also must include the technical aspects as well.For
example, the article say we have better edge in air warfare but technically we don't have stealths, but i guess china has its own half-stealths. Which ever side you take: missiles, tanks, aircraft, filed force, etc.. we are completely swiped by not only by numbers but quality machines. Indians stand a chance only if they use a good presence of mind. They do have far more funding for researches and the already existing funding in india is used up and given back research failure. Most of the researches that are successful are with collaboration of either private orgs or international (foreign countries) tie ups.

from:  Daranivasan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 07:55 IST

This is a sensible article. I agree with the author that India should think and plan strategically when confronting its threats. Unfortunately, she appears to be procuring a large amount of ammunition and equipment with no apparent strategy except to get into an arms race with China. India does not have the resources to spend as much as China without bankrupting itself. It is important that Indians calm down and think through the process before wasting a lot of money. Vietnam showed the world in 1989 that they could give the Chinese a bloody nose. An India-China war is most likely to be a border skirmish. India needs to make sure that it has the ability to retaliate with a devastating force that China will think twice before attacking it. More importantly, the latest arms and aircraft are of no use if a country does not have the will and mental strength to take on a aggressor. Remember that Alexander was able to defeat a vastly larger, well-equipped Persian army through sheer strategy.

from:  S.R.
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 07:18 IST

Its a boring article just words without any substance.Please note the below:
1. Out of 100 wars 99.9 % is won by the bigger and strongest party 2. India is the biggest importer of arms now as china has started producing its own weapons. 3. Indians doesn't realize that world has changed since 1962.The war is economic and political instead of military.India is being fooled by false US/ Europe Friendship.Eg The Nuclear Deal with USA didn't help us get even 1 gram of uranium.We should realize our strength in diversity and stop bending over western nations.

from:  Avi
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 06:49 IST

Praveen Swami has based his conclusions on wishful thinking rather than objective facts. He seems glibly reassured that India is not China's principal threat as opposed to Taiwan, Korea etc. But this was true in 1962 as well. In spite of the situation in places like Taiwan and Korea, China launched an attack against India. In any case, threat percpetions can change quickly. Military planning and procurement is a long term process. Modern weapons are high technology intensive. The Army Chief is to be commended for highlighting the huge gap in capabilities between India and China. The best way to avoid war is to have a credible defence at all times.

from:  Viswanath
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 05:56 IST

Mr Swami is very selective in his comments..."John Galbraith, the U.S.
Ambassador to New Delhi, also lobbied hard against air strikes ... dragged into the war" -- implying that because of that India did not use its air power. He cleverly omits the fact that it was the U.S that rushed arms (NOT the USSR -- our "time-tested friend"). The day after the arms landed in Safdarjung airport, China unilaterally withdrew. Those of us who lived during 1962 can never forget the humiliating defeat -- not because of our jawans, but by the combined failure of two political imbeciles (Nehru and Krishna Menon) and a desk-jockey General Kaul. Thanks to these specimen, our jawans were short of equipment and winter clothes. How much ever the likes of Swami play down 1962 war, history cannot be erased.

from:  Jay Ravi
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 04:36 IST

Loved the Emperor Antigonus story. Also you cannot blame the Indians for China hysteria. Once bitten, twice shy.

from:  Tejaswy
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 03:57 IST

Very well written article. Wars in modern era never based on military superiority alone. Wars can no more be conventional. Even if there is a stand off, superpowers will fear total war and know its too stupid get into total war. taking into account the Geographic, political, economic, strategic and tactical advantages each side has it will be a stalemate. As it will cost very dearly to both side and in the end nobody will convincingly win. But the truth is India believed in same philosophy even during 1962. Truly it was misjudged. Yet even in 1962, India though lost the war, never lost the consequence of the war. The hard truth will be to respect superiority each nation has over other respect the current borders. For this respect to be earned the nation needs to flex its mussels and have its edge sharp and leathal.

from:  senthil
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 03:13 IST

So you want us to make the same mistake that we did in 1962? God, how can people be so deluded!!!

from:  Kunal
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 03:02 IST

A redundant article and it looks more like a mouth piece of US oriented writing than India oriented strategic thinking..Time to think different and bold. China will make sure that by 2025 the entire Pacific theater is under its view. China with 1.2 billion people and 1.5 times US power will have submarine travelling in Latin America and Middle east to support its power and supply lanes. If India need to be powerful it cant poodle articles just related to neighbour.
If France can move its assets everywhere, I am dumbfounded to see thinkers writing useless articles just hanging on 1950 to 2008 perspective and not from 1750 or 2025 perspective which oppossite of near histroy..India and China need to work together to step up brutally by promoting each others values, currency, position and power. Else both watch West coming back with new ways to rule.

from:  ram iyer
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 03:01 IST
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