refashions itself as global military power'
York, Sep 22 (IANS) From a country focused on self-defence
against Pakistan and China, India has begun to refashion itself
as an armed power with global reach. It is willing to dispatch
troops in far away lands to protect its oil shipments, its
expatriate population in the Middle East and shoulder international
peacekeeping duties, the New York Times wrote Monday.
world attention has focused on China's military in recent
years, "India sees itself in a different light - not
looking so much inward and looking at Pakistan, but globally",
William S. Cohen, a secretary of defence in the Clinton administration
told the Times.
sending a signal that it's going to be a big player,"
added Cohen, now a lobbyist representing US firms seeking
weapons contracts in India.
is now buying armaments that major powers like the US use
to operate far from home - aircraft carriers, giant transport
planes and airborne refuelling tankers, the newspaper said.
modern India's first military outpost on foreign soil, India
has helped build a small air base in Tajikistan that it will
share with its host country. India also appears to be positioning
itself as a caretaker and patroller of the Indian Ocean region,
which stretches from Africa's coast to Australia's and from
the subcontinent southward to Antarctica, the New York daily
years from now, India could be a real provider of security
to all the ocean islands in the Indian Ocean," said Ashley
J. Tellis, an India-born scholar at the Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace in Washington.
could also provide security in the Persian Gulf in collaboration
with the US, Tellis said, adding: "India is slowly maturing
into a conventional great power".
2006, when conflict between Israel and Hezbollah put in peril
Indian expatriates in Lebanon, four Indian warships, which
happened to be in the region, rushed to Lebanon and rescued
2,000 people, not only Indians, but also Sri Lankans, Nepalese
and Lebanese eager to escape the fighting.
2004, when the tsunami hit Asia, including its own southern
coast, the Indian Navy dispatched 16,000 troops, 32 warships,
41 planes and a floating hospital for rescue operations.
is all new for India, which gave the world the idea of Gandhian
non-violence, and long derided the force-projecting ways of
the great powers, Times said.
Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the paper: "Naturally,
a country of this size, a population of this size - we will
be required to strengthen our security forces, modernize them,
update them, upgrade our technology."
are ready to play a more responsible role," he added,
"but we don't want to impose ourselves on others."
whose own military expansion outstrips India's, has not raised
alarm at India's military modernization, but Pakistani officials
"are paying attention to Indian plans to project India
outside the South Asian region", said Hasan Askari Rizvi,
a Pakistani defence expert.
has sought to develop a powerful air force and navy that can
extend far beyond its shores. It plans to spend $60 billion
on its armed forces in 2008.
Pentagon estimates that China's actual military spending is
perhaps twice the officially budgeted amount, as much as seven
times India's defence outlay. Besides, Beijing has alarmed
New Delhi by courting allies in India's neighbourhood and
building military bases in Gwadar, Pakistan; Chittagong, Bangladesh;
and Yangon, Myanmar.
seems to be an emerging long-term competition between India
and China for pre-eminence in the region," Jacqueline
Newmyer, president of the Long Term Strategy Group, a research
institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told the Times.
is preparing slowly to claim its place as a pre-eminent power,
and in the meantime China is working to complicate that for
has worked to close the gap with China by spending heavily
on modern arms. Analysts estimate that India could spend as
much as $40 billion on military modernisation in the next
the change in military strategy, Rahul Gandhi, the rising
Congress party leader, said in parliament early this year:
"What is important is that we stop worrying about how
the world will impact us, we stop being scared about how the
world will impact us, and we step out and worry about how
we will impact the world."
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