As India celebrates its 67th Republic Day, the might and challenges of the country have quadrupled. The new Modi government is running a marathon of expanding its foreign policies, but is yet to deliver its promises for a Change in Indian politics and improvement of the its left out citizen’s lifestyle. The rich have grown richer as expected. Literacy remains a battle to this dichotomy of a country which churns the word’s highest number of doctors, engineers and lawyers each year. Its brain drain makes the strength of reputed global giants like Microsoft, Google, NASA, Adobe, Accenture, Alcatel, Amazon, American Airlines, American Express, AMD (MIT), Scan Disk, Nokia, Net App, Oracle and others.
And yet, everywhere I travel to, I meet educated Indian ‘haters’, those who pathologically despise Indians, in spite of being inferior to them in terms of their looks and intelligence. I wonder why?. The first thing that comes to their tongue if the heavy Indian accent, the ‘curry’ eaters. The ‘dhal-rice’ dark skinned bunch who wear gaudy heavy 22 carats Gold jewellery. Outside, India when the kids of the Indian families topped their class, my ‘Indian haters’ criticize the slave parenting skills, and competitive nature of their parents. I still fail to understand why when a similar scenario presents itself with anyone, preferably a Caucasian family, my ‘Indian haters’ are full of praise.
What is it that Indians do as successful entrepreneurs, sharp Surgeons, smart Engineers, rich hoteliers, prosperous real estate owners and steel barons, to infuriate others and turn them into Indian haters? They turn their attention upon petty details about our their own beings to inflate and voice their frustrations. Upon reflection, in context with the growing India’s might, I cannot but acknowledge one thing, the India has no ‘ invade, capture, loot, take’ as its policy. The country’s conflicts through history came from invaders. It has built its defence system upon failure to secure its own borders and live under the loot and enslavement of some of its invaders. Today, modern India offers a clearer image rather than a complacent one, it bore for hundreds of years. It has organised its dispersed army after the ‘divide and rule’ policy of its past colonisers. I forget that India has won the Miss World Beauty Pageant a record number of times and stands proudly 2nd on a world list. The Bollywood actors and actresses are admired and copied all over the planet. Everyone wants to be a Bollywood star, bollywood party themes are among the world most popular likes when one a celebration with glitz and glamour. Indian’s capital holds a world record number of beauty parlour and spas on an average of 4 every kilometres. Indian tattoos are a craze, Indian embroidery embelishments is second to none on the planet.
My list of superlatives can go on, not as a biased person, but on someone who has exprienced, lived and studied under the Indian skies. I do not deny my bad experiences too, especially someone shoving a live cobra to me for Rs 10! Before, I went to India, my poorly informed mind by the media and popular ranting, shaped a distorted image of in my mind. What I discovered was beyond my expectations. I came to appreciate and admire people in their simplicity, warmth, I saw very rich and very poor, I saw languages changing every 2 hrs I travelled to, in the four cardinal directions. I saw beaches with wondrous stone carvings in gigantic scale which no one took a second look to, a street dog peeing over a monument which stood there around the smae time as Ptolemy was scribbling his world map. I spent a lot of time in Delhi’s sprawling Lodhi Garden, did long hours of reading by Humayun tomb’s (a copy of the Taj Mahal in red stone), surrounded by expansive gardens laced with paths, ponds, channels, well-manicured lawns, and shady trees. Today, this tranquil setting provides locals with a quiet retreat from Delhi’s noisy hustle and bustle. I would not forget my experiences in the hair salon in Khan market, where I lived, the Chinese hairstylists not speaking Hakka, Mandarin or Cantonese, but the hilarious Delhiite Hinglish. I love each and every of my travels across the country. I had my emergency moments when I ran to the madly crowded Old Delhi to the Red Fort ( Lal Qila) to exchange my dollars against a higher rate in the gem and souvenir shops in its inner entrance. The super-sized 17th century Mughal citadel was rich in power and splendor when it stood as the ancient capital of the country’s Persian invaders. Connaught Place was my haunt when I missed home and felt lonely in this big city. I learnt to haggle, shopped till I could draw a step, ate the most delicious food, discovered that people refer to India as to a place where people begged, kids starved, but I have seen the equal number in the most advanced country in the West. The difference being most lived behind closed doors, while others slept on the streets. Strict law enforcement hid many child abuse behind closed doors. In India, everything is visible, done under the sky and lived by no double standards. Whatever you wish to see, drink, eat, learn, experience, you could do it in this one country. From the best to the worst.
Recently, when someone voiced negative views about living in the city, I was lost for words to describe the life that breathes in New Delhi , which I have not found present in other Indian cities. But here, any Mumbaiite would differ to their favourite ‘aka Mumbai’, as being the soul of the country. To me, where Mumbai is chaos and helralds the bollywood industry’s, Delhi is class and quiet leafy suburbian residential areas, while holding the country’s governmental administrative power centres.
What does the Indian Army look like nowdays?
The Indian Armed Forces are the military forces of the Republic of India. It consists of three professional uniformed services: the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force. Additionally, the Indian Armed Forces are supported by three paramilitary organisations (Assam Rifles, Indian Coast Guard and Special Frontier Force) and various inter-service institutions such as the Strategic Forces Command
With strength of over 1.3 million active personnel, it is world’s 3rd largest military force and has the world’s largest volunteer army.
Since 1962, the IAF has maintained close military relations with Russia, including cooperative development on programmes such as the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA)
India has one of the longest military histories, dating back several millennia. The first reference of armies is found in the Vedas as well as the epics Ramayana and Mahabaratha. Classical Indian texts on archery in particular, and martial arts in general are known as Dhanurveda.
Indian maritime history dates back 5,000 years. The first tidal dock is believed to have been built at Lothal around 2300 BC during the Indus Valley Civilisation, near the present day Mangrol harbour on the Gujarat coast. The Rig Veda written around 1500 BC, credits Varuna with knowledge of the ocean routes and describes naval expeditions.
Sea lanes between India and neighbouring lands were the usual form of trade for many centuries, and are responsible for the widespread influence of Indian Culture on other societies. The Cholas excelled in foreign trade and maritime activity, extending their influence overseas to China and Southeast Asia. The Indian Army during World War I contributed a number of divisions and independent brigades to the European, Mediterranean and the Middle East theatres of war. One million Indian troops would serve overseas, of whom 62,000 died and another 67,000 were wounded. In World War II, the Indian Army began the war, in 1939, numbering just under 200,000 men. By the end of the war it had become the largest volunteer army in history, rising to over 2.5 million men in August 1945. Serving in divisions of infantry, armour and a fledgling airborne force, they fought on three continents in Africa, Europe and Asia. The Indian Army fought in Ethiopia against the Italian Army, in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia against both the Italian and German Army, and, after the Italian surrender, against the German Army in Italy. However, the bulk of the Indian Army was committed to fighting the Japanese Army, first during the British defeats in Malaya and the retreat from Burma to the Indian border; later, after resting and refitting for the victorious advance back into Burma, as part of the largest British Empire army ever formed. In 1961 tension rose between India and Portugal over the Portuguese-occupied territory of Goa, which India claimed for itself. After Portuguese police cracked down violently on a peaceful, unarmed demonstration for union with India, the Indian government decided to invade and Operation Vijay was initiated. A lopsided air, sea, and ground campaign resulted in the speedy surrender of Portuguese forces. Within 36 hours, 451 years of Portuguese colonial rule was ended, and Goa was annexed by India. India fought four major wars with its neighbour Pakistan in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999, and with China in1962. Indian victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war, helped create the free country of Bangladesh.
The beginning of the 21st century saw reorientation for India in the global stage from a regional role in the subcontinent to a major role in the Indian ocean region stretching from Gulf of Aden to the Malacca Strait. India’s sphere of influence needs to encompass not just the South Asian Sub-continent, but also the northern Indian Ocean area, from the eastern seaboard of Africa in the west, to the Malacca Straits in the east, and must include Iran, Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics (CARs), China and Myanmar. India’s credibility, as a regional power will be contingent upon institutional stability, economic development and military strength, including nuclear deterrence.
The major deployments of the Indian army constitute the border regions of India, particularly Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and the Northeast India, in order to engage in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations. The major commitments of the Indian Navy constitute patrol missions, anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, the ‘Singapore Indian Maritime Bilateral Exercise’ with the Republic of Singapore Navy in the Straits of Malacca, maintaining a military presence in SE Asia waters, and joint exercises with other countries, such as Brasil, South Africa, the United States and Japan, France (Varuna naval exercises), People’s Republic of China, the Russian Navy (INDRA naval exercises), and others. During 2010, the Indian Armed Forces has a reported strength of 1.3 million active personnel and 2.1 million reserve personnel. In addition, there are approximately 1.3 million paramilitary personnel, making it one of the world’s largest military forces.
Farkhor Air Base is a military air base located near the town of Farkhor in Tajikistan, 130 kilometers (81 mi) south east of the capital Dushanbe. It is operated by the Indian Air Force in collaboration with the Tajikistan Air Force. Farkhor is India’s first and only military base outside its territory. India will soon provide medium-lift choppers to Tajikistan and dedicate a hospital there as part of efforts to build on the strategic ties between the two countries against the backdrop of US-led troops preparing to pull out from Afghanistan in 2014. India is also helping the development of Chah Bahar Seaport in south eastern Iran which is speculated to be done to secure India’s Maritime assets and also as a gateway to Afghanistan & Central Asia. However, India and Israel also have a very strong defence relationship. India made obligation to actively assist Nepal in national defence and military preparedness, and made both nations not to tolerate threats to each other’s security.
India started the process to bring the island country Maldives into India’s security grid. India is also one of three countries with whom Japan has a security pact, the others being Australia and the United States.
India and Russia maintain strong military cooperation. India has defence pacts with US focusing on from security to joint training to the joint development and manufacture of defence equipment and technology. India had signed a pact to develop ports in Myanmar and various bilateral issues, including economic cooperation, connectivity, security and energy. India has a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with UAE. India has maritime security arrangement in place with Oman and Qatar.[
Indian Navy also has berthing rights in Oman and Vietnam. India has substantially stepped up military engagement with East Asian and ASEAN nations. Although never explicitly stated, ASEAN and East Asian nations want New Delhi to be a counterweight to increasing Chinese footprints in the region. Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and, particularly, Vietnam and Myanmar have time and again pressed India to help them both in terms of military training and weapons supply.
For more than a decade now, India has been providing Vietnam with assistance in beefing up its naval and air capabilities. For instance, India has repaired and upgraded more than 100 MIG 21 planes of the Vietnam People’s Air Force and supplied them with enhanced avionics and radar systems. Indian Air Force pilots have also been training their Vietnamese counterparts. In a first, India has offered a $100-million credit line to Vietnam to purchase military equipment. A bilateral agreement for utilisation of facilities in India by the Singapore Air Force and Army was signed in October 2007 and August 2008 respectively and has been extended up to 2017. Singapore is the only country to which India is offering such facilities. The army has rich combat experience in diverse terrains, due to India’s diverse geography, and also has a distinguished history of serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations. The Indian army has dedicated one brigade of troops to the UN‘s standby arrangements. Through its large, sustained troop commitments India has come in for much praise for taking part in difficult operations for prolonged periods. The Indian Army has participated in several UN peacekeeping operations, including the ones in Cyprus, Lebanon, Congo, Angola, Cambodia, Vietnam, Namibia, ElSalvador, Liberia,
Mozambique and Somalia. India has been the largest troop contributor to UN missions since inception. So far India has taken part in 43 Peacekeeping missions with a total contribution exceeding 160,000 troops and a significant number of police personnel having been deployed. As of June, 2013, about 8000 Indian UN peacekeepers, both men and women, are deployed in nine missions, including Congo, South Sudan, Liberia, UNDOF, Haiti, Lebanon, Abeyi, Cyprus and Cote d’Ivoire.
India has so far, provided one Military Advisor (Lt Gen R K Mehta), one Police Adviser (Ms Kiran Bedi), one Deputy Military Adviser (Lt Gen Abhijit Guha), 14 Force Commanders and numerous Police Commissioners in various UN Missions. Indian Army has also contributed lady officers as Military Observers and Staff Officers apart from them forming part of Medical Units being deployed in UN Missions. The first all women contingent in peacekeeping mission, a Formed Police Unit from India, was deployed in 2007 to the UN Operation in Liberia (UNMIL)
The army also provided a paramedical unit to facilitate the withdrawal of the sick and wounded in Korea.The Indian Navy operates a sizeable fleet of Sindhughosh (Russian Kilo-class design) and Shishumar (German Type 209/1500 design) class submarines. A nuclear-powered attack submarine INS Chakra has been leased from Russia. India has started construction of six Scorpène class submarines at Mazagon Dockyards Limited (MDL), in Mumbai under technology transfer from French firm DCNS. Recent induction of attack submarine INS Chakra and the development of INS Arihant make the Indian Navy one of six navies worldwide that are capable of building and operating nuclear-powered submarines– others include China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
India also launched a 37,500-ton indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in August, 2013 in its bid to join a select group of nations (United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and France) capable of building such warships. The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict. The modern, state-of-the-art AFNET is a fully secure communication network, providing IAF critical link among its command and control centre, sensors such as the Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems and shooters like the fighter aircraft and missile squadrons. Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS), an automated command and control system for Air Defence (AD) operations which has been exported to several countries, including Israel, Burma, Nepal and Ecuador.
India has been in its possession of nuclear weapons since 1974. Its most recent nuclear test has been done on 11 May 1998, when Operation Shakti (Pokhran-II) was initiated with the detonation of one fusion and three fission bombs. On 13 May 1998, two additional fission devices were detonated. India, however, maintains a no-first use and a nuclear deterrence policy against nuclear adversaries. India’s nuclear doctrine envisages building a credible minimum deterrent for maintaining a second strike capability which will be massive and designed to induce unacceptable damage on the enemy. India is on the verge of becoming one of only four nations in the world to possess a Nuclear Triad. India’s nuclear missiles include the Prithvi, the Agni, the Shaurya, Sagarika, Dhanush, and others. India conducted its first test with the Agni-V, which can carry a nuclear warhead in the east as far as all of China and in the west deep into Europe with its 5000 km range, in April 2012 and a second test in September, 2013An Indian Navy team comprising 11 members successfully completed an expedition to the North Pole in 2006. The Indian Naval ensign first flew in Antarctica in 1981. The Indian Navy succeeded in Mission Dakshin Dhruv by traversing to the South Pole on skis in 2006. With this historic expedition, they have set the record for being the world’s first military team to have successfully completed a ski traverse to the geographic South Pole.
I still remember those ships stopping in the harbour in Port Louis, Mauritius, and the buzz would be out. In fact, did you know that before reaching Antartica, there is no land after the island of Mauritius?
Today, I view India with a different eye, and whenever I speak for it, my ‘Indian haters’ give me those placid but irritated looks with a snap to end the conversation. I feel thrilled that turmoil resides in those who cannot comprehend India and its achievers. Many mistake my Indian looks for being from the country. Hence, naturally defensive about it. But the truth is that having travelled and lived in many different countries, I have rarely felt the ease, and feeling at home like living in India, maybe here I should stress, New Delhi. Many atrocious things are still going on in the capital, as one would expect from a country with the second largest population on the planet. But I cannot but admit that I found there the most cultured, tolerant, stylish, well-read, intelligent, adventurous, creative, generous and kind people, all in one bag.
I guess, I was lucky, I opened my heart to India, and it gave me its own in abundance.