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Nuclear pretence

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HT (and many other newspapers) indulged in meaningless hyperbole, probably direct quotes from a press release:

India today inducted the Russian-origin nuclear-powered submarine ‘Nerpa’ into the Navy, joining the elite league of nations having such sophisticated warships.

Defence Minister A K Antony formally commissioned the Akula II class Nerpa, rechristened ‘INS Chakra’, into the Navy at the Ship Building Complex in Visakhapatnam.

“INS Chakra will ensure security and sovereignty of the country,” Antony said after commissioning the vessel.

India has earlier leased and operated a Charlie Class Russian nuclear submarine from 1988 for training its personnel on such warships.

With the induction of INS Chakra, India has joined the elite group of nations with nuclear-power submarines after a gap of two decades.

With INS Chakra and the indigenous INS Arihant expected to start operational patrols soon, India will soon have two nuclear submarines guarding its vast maritime boundaries.

Strangely, two days ago the very same HT ran this report:

The ministry of defence should rename itself the ministry of imports. India earned the undesirable honorific of being the world’s largest buyer of foreign arms in the latest ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers’ report.

It’s not just that the Indian defence sector can’t build simple trainer airplanes or armoured vehicles. It even struggles to design usable rifles or make good boots. “Indian soldiers”, says Commodore Uday Bhaskar of the National Maritime Foundation, “prefer to buy their uniforms from private tailors rather than wear free government issue”.

The defence ministry loves the term ‘technology transfer’. These are weasel words. Every study shows this to be a way to temporarily get obsolete knowhow. Transfers are like cheat-sheets. They keep you from doing the hard work of really learning something. The State-owned defence firms are like students who mug enough to get past each exam and graduate with blank minds.

The Tatra truck, left-hand drive after 25 years, is only a more glaring example of this import-and-assemble game.

In effect, India spends to maintain the military-industrial capacity of others who are too decrepit, like Russia, or too small, like Israel and France, to stand on their own feet. India’s government defence firms serve as their cutouts. At the Prime Minister’s Office, it is fully understood that the lack of an indigenous defence sector with real innovative capacity makes a mockery of India’s great power ambitions.

Buying and running sophisticated machinery does not make a nation a hub of technological innovation. Buying and using a nuclear submarine, or buying the rights to put together a sub to someone else’s design, does not enable a country to join any elite league.

This piece of news seems to have been planted to distract from the mess arising out of General V. K. Singh’s allegations of bribery and unpreparedness inside the Indian military establishment.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

April 4, 2012 at 10:07 am

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