India as an emerging global power

India as an emerging global  power

In his interview with the Paraskinio Greek newspaper Metropolitan Nicholas of Fthiotida has commented on the relations established between the Greek government and the Orthodox Church and has noted that uncontrolled immigration poses a threat to Greece, reports

Answering the question, “have the relationships between the Church and the state changed since formation of the new Greek government?” Metropolitan Nicholas said the following:

“Despite what they said during the election campaign and the position declared by the Syriza ruling party, the relationships between the Church and the state have not worsened. We are collaborating with this government no less than with the previous one. It is obviously explained by the fact that the Independent Greeks party is a part of the governing coalition, and it declares its opposition to the separation of the Church and state”.

Metropolitan Nicholas has stressed that “today the Church representatives are waiting. They do not believe that radicals in the government will accept the status quo. I want to emphasize that the process of separation of Church and state started many years ago and is being realized cautiously and step by step, with the Church’s consent on many issues”.

In conclusion, the hierarch touched upon the problem of uncontrolled immigration: “I am seriously concerned about the superficial and irresponsible attitude of Greek society towards the incursion of immigrants into our country. When the flame blazes up, it will be already too late to respond. The pseudo-intelligentsia is lulling our vigilance with “the anti-racist lure”, but we will wake up when the fire of catastrophe breaks out around us. Who could think that in the 21st century Christians would be persecuted by Muslim extremists and their suffering and torments would be like those of the first Christians?” the Metropolitan said.




Maj. Gen (rtd) Vinod Saighal*

Executive Director, Eco Monitors Society, India

                                    (Talk delivered at Athens on September 30, 2009 at Hellenic MoD Colloquium)




India is fast emerging as a global power based on an economic resurgence that could propel it into the front ranks of global decision makers. For all the difficulties it faces it is indubitably a vibrant democracy. Coalition politics may be straining at the limits of good governance, but if peaceful transition of power is the keystone of democracy, India has demonstrated time and again that regardless of the turmoil leading up to the casting of votes, governments are changed without a hitch once the votes are counted. On this factor, which is the single most important hallmark of a functioning democracy, India scores hundred out of hundred. In the sixty years since it became independent the transfer of power, both at the Centre and in the States, has proceeded with clockwork precision. The title of the paper refers to India as an emerging global power as distinct from a potential ‘superpower’. The latter appellation is eschewed because it never has – and perhaps never will – enter into the calculus of a people who cannot renounce outright the philosophy of ahimsa as enunciated by Mahavira and the Buddha several millennia ago and as practiced by Mahatma Gandhi in the twentieth century. It is because of this deeply held belief in non-violence – cherished by a large majority of the people, if not always by the ruling elite – as the only answer to the problems afflicting humanity in the new century that it is possible for the European Union, Latin America, Africa and many other nations to work more closely with India than with most other countries in the search for global solutions to some of the intractable problems of today.

India’s gross domestic product (GDP) crossed $1 trillion mark in April 2007. A trillion dollar GDP, foreign exchange reserves approaching 300 billion dollars, a billion plus population, of whom more than 50% are in the working age group does point the way in which India is headed. As the 12thmember of a select club of countries with economies over $1 trillion, there is no question that India has emerged as a major economic power.

The fast growing Asian economies will be the prime contributors to the rising energy demand in the coming decades. China has already become the world’s second largest energy consumer after the United States. India’s projected energy requirements around 2030 will be five times those of today.India is already the sixth largest energy consumer. Energy availability and energy supply are increasingly intertwined with geopolitics. They will remain so for several decades. India and China are competing more and more among themselves for the world’s oil and gas resources in addition to the established economies of the US, Europe and Japan. Adding uncertainty in such an environment is the volatile situation of most of the important energy suppliers.


Europe has never been as prosperous, secure or free as a continent as it is now. To a large extent there is internal harmony between the states that form part of the European Union and external harmony with the whole world in the sense that barring non-state actors no state poses a direct threat toEurope. Looking well into the future it is difficult to see Europe being overly troubled due to internal rifts between its component states or the external world. Even the emerging giants of the new century, especially China andIndia look on Europe with great favour. Russia its giant neighbour to the east would like nothing better than to coordinate its policies with Europe for meeting fresh global challenges that may emerge. Against this background, the terror incidents unleashed by radical elements in Madrid and in the UKand the killing of Mr. Van Gogh have shaken European society. More so, because as distinct from the 9/11 attacks in USA, the radicals carrying out the terror attacks in Europe were of the homegrown variety. Almost all of them were people who were long timers, i.e., they were born in Europe, had been living there, and were European passport holders. They could hardly be termed as outsiders. For the average European citizen the paradox of a peaceful, prosperous and secure Europe becoming the spawning ground for terrorists from within, by individuals from immigrant communities who are mostly second and third generation citizens of Europe, creates unease for which there does not appear to be any palliative, except to hunker down for the long haul with its partners in the long drawn out battle against terrorism.

An enlarged European Union that might be willing to take on greater international responsibility would need partners for international cooperation.India and the EU have perhaps the strongest joint commitment to peace, stability, liberty and economic prosperity. India and the EU have the common objective of combating international terrorism, containing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and in resolving ethnic conflicts peacefully. The EU remains one of India’s top trading and investment partners. The rapid expansion of a high spending consumer class in India, the diversified EU manufacturing base, and other growing complementarities offer big opportunities to build on the economic partnership, which is reflected in the nearly 20 percent rate of growth registered by EU exports to India. It makesIndia one of the most promising customers of European products. The EU also remains one of the largest sources of FDI for India.

The importance of enhanced cooperation in science and technology between India and the European Union was underlined in the first ever India-EU Ministerial Science Conference held in New Delhi in early February 2007. This was the first time that EU member states and the European Commission had met on a ministerial level science conference outside the EU. It was also the first time that European Nobel Laureates and other renowned European scientists engaged in a forum with students outside the European Union. The Conference agreed that joint work should focus on core areas such as energy, environment, global change and human health. Implementation of the conference’s major recommendations could impart dynamism to the growing partnership in a vital area that could serve as development multiplier.

To follow up on aspects of common concern to Europe and India in the changing global matrix an important aspect to be kept in mind is that low income societies will continue to constitute the majority of states around the world. The new global order is not likely to allow for major improvement in their living conditions. For the same reason the gap between the upper income groups and the have-nots will continue to grow; the latter will be pushed to the margins, both within affluent societies as well as in the developing world. Following from it social integration is not likely to be brought about by market forces that are in the ascendant today, and will continue to remain in the ascendant for a long time to come.

The debate on the enlargement of the European Union is important for European as well as Asian security. A cohesive European Union with an independent policy, balanced between the unilateralist urges of USA and the security needs of the rest of the world is of equal interest to both sides. Blind adherence to US policies was a compulsion for Western Europe during the Cold War. The Cold War has ended. Europe has moved on. Russia has moved away. The rest of the world has gotten out of the Cold War mindset.America has to be nudged to do the same. It becomes a prerequisite not only for European – Asian security, also for global stability in the new century.

Much has been said and written about the eastward expansion of the European Union. With additional members added, giving it the strength of 27, the EU comprises nearly half a billion people – a very large grouping by any standard. Even if it remains at that level it automatically assumes a stature which neither USA nor the rest of the world would be able to ignore, provided that the possibility of externally inspired, unity-shattering fissures is excludedab initio. The discussions on the European Union expansion to date have generally been Euro-centric. The USA has played a role in the debate to influence decisions from an American standpoint. There have been few comments about the EU enlargement from an Asian standpoint. India can become a moderate Asian interlocutor, a fact increasingly accepted by the EU countries.

After the demise of the Soviet Union, European nations had started reassessing their position vis-à-vis USA with respect to the rest of the world. 9/11 reunited them. It turned out to be a temporary interlude. Going beyond 9/11 Europe cannot blindly tread the American path. The Western countries remain solidly allied to USA, but not in the manner that they were allied during the Cold War years, or in the policies that they might pursue in future to safeguard European interests and European security. Europe no longer faces a military threat, as was the case during the Cold War. Other threats have emerged. They may or may not require a military response. They certainly do not call for joint Europe–USA high-tech devastation of other parts of the globe. The EU countries and India have a major role to play in easing global tensions in a manner that the US is not excluded from these formulations altogether. Both the EU and India share the view that while theUS needs to re-examine some of its policies a catastrophic decline in USpower is not in the interest of global security at this juncture. Of all the countries that interact with or oppose the US on global issues, the Americans could become more amenable to advice from the EU and India in the coming years, if jointly rendered. One of the acceptability factors for a more ready acceptance from EU-India would be due to a lack of animus or innate anti-US feelings towards Americans in these countries, as distinct from fierce opposition to US policies in most other parts of the world.

As conventional wisdom goes, the USA being the only superpower is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, possibly up to the mid-21stCentury. Evaluating the global situation at some remove from Washington or the other power centers of the world like London, Moscow and Beijing, another great player can be clearly discerned. In several ways resurgent Islam with its runaway demographic surge is emerging as a major challenger to the US global hegemony. Resurgent Islam is today the only power entity that has the ability to challenge US – and Western – interests almost anywhere in the world. The expansionist urge of militant Islam is its third expansionist wave in history since inception nearly a millennium and a half ago. Its first major expansion took place in the second half of the first millennium. It again expanded in the second millennium till the Turks were stopped at the gates of Vienna at the close of the 17th Century. Potentially, the third wave, the current demographic expansion wave, can neither be dismissed lightly nor wished away, especially for Europe and India. As opposed to all other denominational strains, resurgent Islam has the demographic mass, unity of the Muslim ummat, and the commonality of goals to aspire for dominant global presence. It has already established sizeable population bases in the non-Islamic countries of Europe, USA, India, Russia and several other countries where it is expanding by the day, both through natural increase and immigration – legal as well as illegal. Moreover, colossal wealth is flowing into the coffers of Muslim countries that have large hydrocarbon reserves.

Typically, human security comprises two major elements i.e. freedom from fear and freedom from want. Taking these elements as the basis it will readily be seen that whereas in Europe freedom from want has diminished greatly in the decades following World War II, in Asia it remains the single most important concern for a large body of the population. Fear thereby gets subsumed into the basic concern for survival, in most cases subsistence survival. More recently, consequent to the rise of global terrorism in the form of Islamic jihad, many countries in Europe that felt safe under the military might of NATO and its nuclear umbrella are no longer so sure of their personal security. They too have experienced a rising surge of fear. More so, since it now requires much less effort to kill a larger number of people, or to shatter across-the-board the tranquility of people who felt safely ensconced in their post-Cold War security.

The big powers of the Europe-Asia region that have the ability to reshape the world order should they coordinate their approach on the major global issues can bring durable peace to their respective continents as well as the adjoining continent of Africa. Their joint approach does not ipso factotranslate into anti-Americanism. It would merely mean that these entities have come to the conclusion that unless they take a stand on some of the major issues in the larger interest of humankind the planetary stresses being generated by the global policies in the ascendant – largely at the behest of the remaining superpower and lately China as well – could lead to an irreversible global decline well before the turn of the new century.

There are many lesser aspects that could be enumerated in this respect. Suffice to say that their occasional differences notwithstanding, as was earlier the case of strong German and French opposition to US unilateralism in Iraq, the USA is generally confident of its ability to keep its Western allies and Japan in tow if the stakes were to be sufficiently raised; to put it differently, if the USA could raise the ante to such an extent that its European allies would have no choice but to remain on the side of USA in its unilateralist intervention. It is for this reason that the question of the enlargement of the European Union needs to be looked at more closely by the public of the European countries as well from the capitals of Russia,China, Japan, Brazil and India.


The EU and India, more than most other countries, have to take into account the demographics of global terrorism, as both of them could continue to be threatened by this phenomenon on a scale higher than the other nations on account of illegal migration, their far more tolerant democratic dispensations and the spiraling populations in their immediate neighborhoods. A few aspects that need to be urgently highlighted are:

  • Going by current trends Israel could cease to exist as a Jewish state well before 2050. The fertility rate for Palestinian women in Gaza and the West Bank is above 6, for the Arab Israelis in Israel it could be about the same, whereas for the Jews it would be several notches lower.
  • When a soldier from the coalition forces in Afghanistan gets killed the chances are that he or she would be the single child or one of two children of his or her parents. In the case of their opponents several other siblings would be around to ensure that the parents are not left totally bereft. This is the stark reality, limited manpower supply on one side, inexhaustible supply on the other. It has been seen that no family, irrespective of denomination, would allow its children to go for jihad type of activities if the family size remained small – one or two children – as is fast becoming the norm for educated middle classes the world over.
  • Presently Europe has about 15 million Muslims. By about 2050, if not before, the figure is likely to exceed 50 million. At that stage, even without the accession of Turkey, the Muslim population of Europe would have become large enough to create intractable existential problems. (This issue has been dealt with elsewhere by the author under the rubricCohabitational Incompatibility).
  • The EU countries and India being geographically contiguous will become natural magnets for the outward push of rapid population proliferation. The EU and India have a major stake in coordinating their policies in areas related to health care and women’s literacy and emancipation.
  • The stabilization inAfghanistan comprises another commonality of interest.

Demographic swamping has been resorted to by some countries for suppressing minorities demanding basic freedoms to practice their own cultures and a modicum of functional autonomy. This is especially so in Chinawhere the Tibetan and Uighur populations have been reduced to minorities in their own territories by the huge influx of Han settlers from mainland China. The change was effected in less than fifty years after several millennia of separate existence. Going by present trends it is well on the cards that in the next fifty years China would have pushed equally large numbers of Han settlers into Siberia and Kazakhstan, thus changing the geopolitical as well as the geo-strategic equation for the EU, India and Central Asia, if not the entire region. The declining Russian population and the sparsely populatedKazakhstan would not be able to withstand the westward push of the Hans. When that happens the EU, Russia and India will have to come together to ward off the twin dangers of the rapidly proliferating Islamic population from one side and the pressure from Han Chinese push from the other.

Neither Europe nor India can ignore the prospect of a decline in USpresence in Eurasia. This could result from a weakened economy (should present trends continue) or a conscious decision to concentrate on the Americas to ward off growing Chinese inroads into Latin America and pressures related to climate change. Therefore, the proposed setting up of missile interceptor defences in Poland, the Czech Republic or elsewhere in Europe could exacerbate tensions with Russia, without commensurate benefits for Europe from a deployment whose efficacy is questioned by most experts. The divergence in this case does not signify mistrust or hostility with existing US policies, but a pragmatic approach to problems that might obligeEurope to go it alone in the fast changing world of the coming decades.


The US and its allies have been concentrating on the nuclear proliferation threat building up in Iran and North Korea. After the A Q Khan episode Pakistan seems to have been put on the back burner. As a matter of fact the Pak nuclear threat is far more insidious and widespread than is currently assessed in most quarters. Iran’s capability vis-à-vis Pakistan on a scale of 0 to 9 is not even 1; Pakistan would be hovering around 7 or 8 in its comparative nuclear capability. Likewise in the case of North Korea although it has gone much ahead of Iran, it is not in the same league as Pakistan in the number of nuclear weapons that it possesses or is likely to possess in the next decade or so. What is more relevant North Korea does not have the radical groups that are capable of carrying out terrorist acts of varying intensities practically across the globe; Iran to date limits its reach to Lebanon, Syria & Gaza.

As if that were not enough the Pak radical groups in concert with sympathizers in the Pakistan Army and ISI have developed the potential to capture power in the state in the not too distant future, perhaps sooner. It means that they could become masters of the Pakistan nuclear arsenal as also the delivery system vastly augmented by North Korea and China. A recent report attributed to Professor Shaun Gregory of Bradford University in the UK mentions that Jihadis thrice attacked Pakistan nuclear sites (Times of India, August 11, 2009). It needs to be added that these are incidents that the western analysts are aware of. There would have been others that were known only to the Pakistan authorities. Hence the world must realize that neutralizing Pak nuclear capability is far more important for the global community than going after the much lesser threat from Iran or North Korea. Of course, China would demur, but that is only to be expected.

By about mid-2007 when the Taliban started gaining ground in Afghanistan commanders of US Forces in the field had no doubt that the Taliban were being clandestinely abetted by the Pakistani  intelligence agency and a portion of the highers up in the top army echelons of the army as well. By 2008, President George W. Bush had also become convinced, or had finally become convinced of General Musharaf’s duplicity. The scales from the eyes of those who had been blind-sided by the Pakistan military in the Anglo Saxon world for full 50 years also fell away after the happenings in Mumbai in the last week of November 2008, now being referred to as 26/11, being likened to the attack seven years earlier in the USA. After the Mumbai attack on 26/11, even without the emergence of a credible retaliatory threat from India, the following happened with programmed alacrity:

– The Pakistan army headquarters started pulling out forces from the west to (ostensibly) strengthen the borders with India.

– As if on cue from their handlers the Islamist radicals announced that they would fight alongside Pakistan army with 60 thousands volunteers if Indiawere to carry out punitive raids on Pakistan territory. For good measure unnamed sources within the Pakistan army let the cat out of the bag (of the deep nexus between these two entities that has been in place for several years) by revealing that a large number of suicide bombers had been placed at the disposal of the Pakistan army.

By now it would have become clear to almost anybody closely involved with the region that the Pakistan army and several radical Islamist entities operating in Afghanistan, India, parts of Pakistan and elsewhere in the world are hand in glove, symbiotically nurtured since the days of the Taliban occupation of Afghanistan, if not earlier. The radical Islamists are able to venture out boldly well beyond the frontiers of Pakistan, secure in the knowledge that nobody would dare root out their bases and spawning grounds in Pakistan because of the nuclear weapons that they would be able to have access to should their survival be threatened by any external power. They are as much the possessors of the nuclear assets of Pakistan, being an extension of the Pakistan army, as the Pakistan army itself. Of course, there are those who would point out that the radicals have often been targeting thePakistan army and tried to eliminate Gen. Musharaf. This is on account of policy differences. The genie has outgrown the master and would now like to call the shots, the roles having been reversed on account of the growing strength of the Islamists. In sum, removal of the Pakistan nukes becomes the foremost foreign policy challenge for the Obama administration as also for NATO, the European Union and the free world. There is simply no time to lose.

On the subject of Pakistani nukes and their threat to the world the author of this paper had been interviewed in New Delhi by Financial Times of London. The interview appears on the FT website. It clearly states that the threat from the growing Pakistani nuclear stockpile is no longer just India-centric as was the case earlier. It has now become far more complex, insidious and terrifying for the USA, West and Russia. Video link:

In sum the Pakistan Army supported by China is fast developing the capability to be able to hit the southern flanks of NATO in Europe as well as most US military facilities in the region up to and including Diego Garcia. The same capability would inhere for a successor regime of radical Islamists whenever they are in a position to take over the levers of power. China is very comfortable with this growing capability. Besides being the enabler it has developed leverage with many other entities in Pakistan including several – though not all – radical groupings. That is why it has been opposing US attempts to have some of them being designated as terrorists in the UN. Additionally, China automatically gets to examine all high-tech weapons transferred to the Pak army by the US; technology extrapolation follows.

Pakistan is setting itself up as the provider of last resort for nuclear materiel and weapons to the entire Islamic world in the years ahead. Similarly, when the country is confronted with funds shortage it would have no qualms in selling nukes to the big drug cartels in Mexico and Latin America, besides elements in Russia fighting against the Russian government in Chechnya and elsewhere. China should, on the face of it, be anxious about Xinjiang. Being a dictatorship it is more than capable of eliminating or incarcerating tens of thousands of its already enfeebled opponents in that province. The Uighurs stand largely emasculated. Chinacontinues to play up the nuclear threat from that quarter in order to retain the ability to play off both sides – to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.China is orchestrating a deadly game by rapidly augmenting the nuclear capability of its proxy and ‘all weather friend’ Pakistan.


When India looks at its security in the timeframe 2015 onward, it will be seen that the way things are shaping up its security in an independent – or standalone manner – could be cause for considerable anxiety. Today, largely due to the US presence in and around the subcontinent, India does not face short-term threats from abroad, other than externally inspired Islamic terrorism. Currently India’s security threats are mostly internal. Besides the externally abetted terrorism from neighboring countries India’s internal threats relate to the rise of Naxalism resulting from a market-oriented development paradigm being forced upon the tribal population whose way of life had remained undisturbed for thousands of years in their forest remoteness. Lack of good governance and insensitivity to tribal needs has exacerbated the problem. India has the capacity to overcome these from within the abundant resources at its command. The difficulty in dealing with this threat arises from constitutional lacunae (law and order being a state subject for the states of the Indian Union) and the irresoluteness of the earlier governments to address these urgent issues that were allowed to fester over a long period of time.

When looking at the long-term external security horizon there are only two countries and one entity that could have the will as well as the wherewithal to attempt the destabilization of India. Although the order of the potential threat from these countries and the entity may change in the coming years, as of now they can be enumerated as follows: (i) Pakistan-China abetted threat from cross-border infiltrations taking place via Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Northeast; (ii) large-scale demographic changes on the sub-continent due to differential rates of growth as also large-scale illegal influx into India from practically all its neighbours; (iii) threat from China; (iv) a possible threat from the USA should the present geo-strategic alignments in Asia or global geo-economics undergo substantial modifications (a threat of very low probability at the present time).

India has always considered its relationship with Russia – successor to the Soviet Union – as a special one, especially since the cementing of the treaty in 1971 prior to India’s action in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), which resulted in its independence. The potential of Russian-Indian cooperation remains important for both sides. An increased Indian military presence elsewhere in Asia, at whatever stage, would not be looked upon unfavorably by Russia, or for that matter the EU. A stronger Indian military potential could produce a restraining effect on China. Russia considers Indiaa showcase of Russian modern weapons technologies. Both countries have arrived at a comfortable understanding whereby each country pursues its own interest without allowing the strategic relationship to be impaired or eroded.

The developing partnership between USA and India has several unstated conditions attached to it. Even if not implicit, the superpower is able to exert pressures, which its partners do not find easy to resist. From the point of view of the USA, one of the cornerstones of its Asian strategy remains the setting up of India as the counterweight to China so that China is not able to unduly influence the foreign and economic policies of its neighboring countries, especially in Southeast Asia, through its economic and military might. A strong India, with strong economic ties to ASEAN, automatically becomes the balancer and stabilizer for an Asian equipoise. A strategic balance between China and India in Southeast Asia, and possibly beyond, would be good for the region and good for the world.

That perception is increasingly being shared in Japan, resulting in much greater co-operation between Japan and India. The cooperation, which is multi-dimensional, is picking up momentum. Amongst other things, Japan would be happy to balance its investments in China with those in India, provided the latter is able to improve its infrastructure (the Japanese are willing to provide assistance) and ensure fast track, single window clearances for proposals submitted to the government in New Delhi. Seeing the benefits that have accrued to both China and Japan from large Japanese investments on the mainland, Japan is entering into a new relationship with India which could become the next domain for large investments by Japan, both as countervailing strategy as also the harbinger of new geo-strategic equations that guarantee stability in the eastern half of the Asian continent in an arc going from New Delhi – Singapore – Jakarta – Hanoi – Tokyo – Beijing – Seoul – Pyongyang – up to Vladivostok. None of the likely outcomes need to be viewed with disfavor by the USA. They would be of special interest to the EU. In the long-term they would become the cornerstone of a new global stability order, which could be underpinned by Russia and the European Union to the North and by USA as part of its global outreach.

By about 2020, if not earlier, China could feel strong enough, both economically and militarily, to flex its muscles in Asia. Unless assisted byRussia or the EU in transfer of the most advanced technologies that it seeks, it might not be able to develop, at least for the next fifty years, the ability to project forces around the world in the manner that America is capable of doing. In Asia it would be able to easily withstand – and offset – US pressure or surmount any US challenge in its immediate neighborhood, the immediate neighborhood being East Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and parts ofSouth Asia. In the years to come practically all of China’s neighbours (other than those in South Asia) would be happy to see India develop into an economic as well as a military counterpoise to China. Should it fail to live up to these expectations, India would have given a free run to China to dominate most countries in Asia, especially Southeast Asia. To some extent Africa,Japan and Europe too could start feeling the heat. In sum, unless India becomes conscious of its responsibility to itself, its neighborhood, Asia and the world and improves its military capability in a significant way it might suffer military setbacks on its borders and loss of standing all around.

When India and China further increase their outlays on armaments, based on the reasons just enumerated, will it signify another arms race of a magnitude similar to the American-Soviet arms race of an earlier era? In consequence thereof will Europe and a few other countries have to follow suit? How will it affect the global economy and the state of the planetary health? These are no longer questions that can be wished away. The world can only be spared the added misery should there be total rapprochement between China and India. For this to take place China will have to settle the long-standing boundary dispute with India and gradually ease up on its assistance to countries in South Asia deliberately being propped up by Chinain their hostile actions against India. To date, India has not paid back China in kind. It has been extremely sensitive to China’s sensibilities.

To be allowed to live in peace and harmony India will have to increase its defence spending for the foreseeable future. It should be realized, however, that no matter how much it advances in the economic field, i.e., even if it were to overtake China at some point in time, India does not nurture the ambition to become a military superpower. Historically, India eschewed such a role. There has never been any defence paper, from the very beginning, that would indicate that India aspired to become a great military power. Even in the future, for generations to come, India’s strategic reach would be limited to the Indian Ocean region and the subcontinent and its neighborhood. Seeing its size, in not nursing a larger or strategic global military vision India stands unique in the comity of nations.

In the years to come big power conflicts of the type that the 20th century witnessed can be practically ruled out till at least 2020-2025. Beyond that as well, full-scale big power conflicts with the use of mega weapons of mass destruction are also not likely to take place on account of the planetary annihilation that such a conflict would entail. WMD if used would be released by non-state actors. Thereafter, retaliation with weapons causing large-scale destruction might take place against failed states harboring rogue forces operating outside the states’ system.

Once China is able to incorporate Taiwan – peacefully or otherwise – it might feel that it had reached its optimum size; that which would be possible for China to digest without developing uncontrollable indigestion or fissiparous tendencies. After the incorporation, whenever it takes place – if it is allowed to take place by USA – China, may go in for a strategic pause lasting several decades. It would coincide with the period that could be utilized by Russia, the EU and India to put in place a non-confrontational system that acts as a barrier to further Chinese inroads into the surrounding countries and regions.

It is estimated that the USA might retract the bulk of its extra-territorial bases in Asia by about 2025, it being the time by which its own dependence on Asian energy resources might come down or the discovery of renewable energy resources to replace the existing dependence on hydrocarbons. The other reason forcing a US pullback might also be the need for concentrating resources and energies on the American continents, where, going by present trends, insuperable challenges to US unilateralism could develop, giving a final burial to the Monroe Doctrine.

Once again, the nations that might feel most apprehensive about a total or near total pullback of USA from the Eurasian landmass would be India, Southeast Asian countries, Japan, Australia and to an extent the EU. Mechanisms between the European Union and India for chalking out joint, non-confrontational strategies for maintaining peace in Asia, Africa, and the European neighborhood could be set into motion in the near future.


Several millennia ago Kautilya in his Arthasastra had written: “It is the nature of power to assert itself”. The truism of that pithy statement has manifested itself through the ages. It is being demonstrated today in the shape of the superpower hegemony and the lesser hegemonies being witnessed around the world, by nations and by individuals. The process of nuclear disarmament has for too long been dominated by the Western powers. A major shift to the East, based on a strategic dialogue betweenChina, India, Russia, Japan, and at some stage the EU could become the linchpin for creating a fresh universal nuclear disarmament framework. (One such framework is contained in the author’s book, Third Millennium Equipoise(1998) and its Spanish edition Equilibrio en el Tercer Milenio published in 2008 ).

China, Russia, India and Japan, acting in unison could become the initial guarantors of the nuclear disarmament process in Asia, as a prelude to universal disarmament. These nations have centuries of accumulated wisdom behind them, which could now be tapped to find answers to problems that have defied solution. In inviting the great Eastern civilizations to take the lead in the search for global solutions it is not intended to diminish the centrality of USA to effective resolution modes. The world’s unstinting support to the US was unequivocally demonstrated after the 9/11 attacks in USA. Even now, no world power can be viewed as hostile to America, a golden opportunity to sit together and resolve issues that threaten global harmony.

The paramount concern of the world has to remain the spread of nuclear weapons. While the chances of proliferation – both horizontal and vertical – are more than they were a decade earlier, paradoxically the world has in fact got a breather as far as the likelihood of use of nuclear weapons is concerned. Barring some unforeseen developments there is very little chance of nuclear weapons being used in the foreseeable future between countries and certainly not amongst the larger, more stable countries. Today only two entities threaten each other and the world with the threat of weapons of mass destruction, these being the superpower USA and its principal adversary the shadowy radical elements out to hit USA wherever they can. At least for the next ten to fifteen years the nuclear exchange at the lowest kiloton yields is more likely between these two adversaries. This period becomes the window of opportunity to effectively roll back the nuclear peril. The cataclysmic holocaust that could have resulted from an exchange between the two superpowers during the Cold War decades when the doomsday clock in New York came very close to midnight can be practically ruled out for at least the next decade or two. However, as far as the planet is concerned, the bigger danger to planetary decline stems from massive deforestation, population proliferation, species extinction, breakdown of the inter-species genetic barriers, global warming and, most importantly, the likelihood of the pursuance of the capitalist consumption patterns by the developing world, being propelled by the forces of globalization into this cul-de-sac at a self-energizing pace. If the remaining virgin forest tracts disappear and the capitalist consumption patterns become the norm for the bulk of the human race the damage to the Earth would be far more than a suitcase bomb or a few low yield nuclear bombs going off.

It is above all the U.S. public that must appreciate that at the end of the day the course that America takes in the coming years will depend largely on how the USA deploys its wealth. For example, should it persist with the planet-destroying star wars programme, with outlays of tens of billions of dollars, leading up to possibly half a trillion dollars or more over the life of the programme, then America will surely get firmly sucked into the negative spiral of decline and decay. The rest of the world would be dragged down as well. The Great Game is over. It has nearly gotten out of the hands of the powers that be. In the era of weapons of mass destruction almost all the big games are over. It is time to take stock.

Nearing the end of the first decade of the new millennium, when one looks around, it becomes abundantly clear that the spiral of violence within societies, and between nations, has reached self-energizing momentum that might only be stilled by a cataclysmic event, the likes of which has not been witnessed before in human experience.

Between societies and groupings that cohere to form nations the ideal situation that must be worked towards would be one where the need for primacy does not arise. Non-violence appears to be the antithesis of the global reality in today’s world. Nevertheless, the concept of non-violence which can be deemed to be the most profound contribution that ancient Indian thought made to the world must regain its primacy, within India and without, if human society is to continue to retain a civilized face. That the essential harmony of all sentient beings, indeed sentience itself, as put forward by Mahavira, Gautama Buddha and many others was made the basis for India’s freedom struggle by Mahatma Gandhi should not be looked at in isolation, as a mere reiteration of non- violence. By introducing the ancient precept into the mainstream of the anti-colonialism struggle in India, Gandhi may have been looking well beyond to the universal projection of his innate belief in the virtue of non-violence as a survival imperative for humanity, just when scientific breakthroughs were placing immensely destructive capabilities into the hands of mankind.






Major General Vinod Saighal retired from the Indian Army in 1995 from the post of Director General Military Training. He has held assignments with UN peacekeeping forces as well as tenures in the Middle East. He served as the country’s Military Attaché in France and BENELUX and has lectured extensively in India and abroad. He was invited to join the ‘Institutional Advisory Board’ of USFSS (US Federation of Scientists and Scholars) in 2000. He is the author of: ‘Third Millennium Equipoise; Restructuring South Asian Security; Restructuring Pakistan; Dealing with Global Terrorism: The Way Forward; Global Security Paradoxes – 2000-2020.

Maj. General (rtd) Vinod Saighal: 38 Babar Road: New Delhi – 110001. India.

Tele: 91- 11- 23716314 & 23355967



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