THE POHOTTUWA GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA Part 2 C7b
Posted on November 29th, 2020

KAMALIKA PIERIS

Today, the world is not interested in India’s politics or India’s economy. The world is interested primarily in India’s relations with other countries. It is interested in the possibility of war in the Bay of Bengal with India helping.

That is because India has linked militarily with the war mongering USA. India’s initial hesitation in yoking itself to USA appears to have finally gone, said analysts.  After some hesitation, India has decided to establish a military alliance with USA. India, a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement has now become an ally of the US, said critics.

US has established a military alliance with India, confirmed analysts. India is now part of USA’s Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, consisting of United States, Japan, Australia and India. The purpose of this US-India alliance is to contain China.

India has signed four  military agreements  with USA. The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was signed in 2002. The agreement enables the sharing of military intelligence between the two countries and requires each country to protect the others’ classified information. Thereafter, in 2010 USA   entered into a civilian nuclear program with India.

 The second agreement, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), was signed on 29 August 2016. The LEMOA permits the military of either country to use the others’ bases for re-supplying or carrying out repairs. It allowed Indian and US navies to support each other in joint operations and exercises.

After LEMOA, US made India a “Major Defence Partner”, a designation that allowed India to buy advanced, sensitive technologies from America at the same level as other US allies and partners. In 2016, US supported India in its   surgical strikes on Pakistan occupied Kashmir  and  Joint US-India military exercises  took place near  the India- China border.  There was a trilateral joint military exercise involving Japan, US and India in 2016.

The US National Defence Authorization Act of 2017 further recognized India as a major defence partner of the US.  In 2019 United States Senate passed legislation that brought India onto the same level as NATO, Israel and South Korea for defence cooperation.

The third agreement, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) was signed in September 2018. This allowed the Indian and US navies to support each other in joint operations and exercises.

 The fourth agreement, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), signed in 2020, permits the exchange of geospatial products between India and the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). 

BECA is a crucial agreement.  It permits the sharing of sensitive satellite and map data. This agreement will give India access to topographical, nautical and aeronautical data vital for pinpointing attacks using missiles and armed drones. BECA   clears the path for India acquiring armed drones and fighter aircraft.

India has now completely integrated with the four-nation Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue (QUAD) to monitor the Indian pacific region’, said analysts. US had turned India into its proxy and India will now assume some of the security functions carried out by US, said analysts . With this alliance, India has become one of the players in the current geo politics of the Bay of Bengal.

A US carrier strike group led by aircraft carrier USS Nimitz was set to conduct an exercise with Indian warships near the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago in July 2020  . Indian and Japanese warships  carried out a small exercise near the Malacca Strait in June 2020.  In November, all  four countries participated together for the first time  in the Malabar exercises.

In 2020 India has given a 100-million-dollar grant to fund the Greater Male Connectivity Project which is the largest ever such infrastructure project undertaken in the Maldives  and a project loan of 400 million dollars for Cooperation in Sports and Youth Affairs. This is interpreted as part of the encircling plan of the Quad.

There is another angle to this. Critics note that Hillary Clinton visited Tamilnadu on her visit to India in 2009 and Kolkata in 2012. These cities are by the Bay of Bengal. Shenali Waduge says it is possible that USA will encourage India to balkanize.

India has always had ‘great power ‘dreams. However, a report by London School of Economics in 2012, concluded, that India is not a superpower and will not become one in the future. It has too many weaknesses, such as poor leadership, extreme social divisions, poverty and religious extremism.

 India now finds itself dwarfed by China, a much bigger power with global ambitions. China has overtaken India in economic performance. The Indian economy is still one fifth of China and the defence budget is way below, said experts in 2017 and again in 2019. The Indian Navy is ahead at present, but China is rapidly developing its naval power experts said in 2017. 

India is worried about China’s entry into South Asia.  India is particularly concerned about China’s ‘string of pearls’ which is like a naval necklace around India. India sees China everywhere, said an analyst in 2012.  China on the other hand, sees India as an unstable state with weak leadership, deep religious and linguistic divisions.

New Delhi must now accept a Chinese presence in many sectors previously considered as India’s exclusive domain said observers.    However, India is not prepared to accept a subservient role. That is why India has decided to link with USA.

China is now preparing for a border war with India. China does not recognize the McMahon line which divides China and India.  China and India have settled  their border in the middle of this Line of Control but not at the two ends. China wants parts of Ladakh at the western end and the whole of Arunchal Pradesh at the eastern end.  In June 2020, China seized control of Indian Territory in eastern Ladakh, with India opposing.  

In November 2020, China has   placed its military all along the Line of Control, starting from Ladakh in the west, also Aksai Chin, Karakorum Pass, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakand, Sikkim and Arunchal Pradesh in the east. There is a massive road –communication-surveillance upgrade all along the LAC, with the potential of opening of other fronts, said observers.

China has established a logistical supply depot at Ladakh that can serve military needs up to Uttarakand. There is an electronic warfare unit at Arunchal Pradesh, with jammers and satellites. There is patrolling of the skies at Aksai China and China has expanded its air bases in Tibet.

India is trying to settle its disputes with China. China and India met at a summit in Chennai in October 2019.   This is the 19th occasion that they have met since Indian Prime Minister   Modi took office, said analysts. Some meetings were informal visits.

There are tensions between India and Pakistan as well. Pakistan is angry. Pakistan says India   is strengthening its hold on Jammu and Kashmir. The number of ceasefire violations on the Line of Control, between the two countries at Jammu and Kashmir has increased significantly. Pakistan says there have been 2,158 ceasefire violations by India as of September 2020. 

India has withdrawn the special constitutional status accorded to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, and Pakistan announced plans to make the Pakistan administered section of Kashmir into a separate Province. Is the stage being set for a historic military confrontation over Kashmir, asked analysts.

 It will be a simple matter for Pakistani and China to join hands in attacking India. Not only China, but  Pakistan too is a formidable military power. When they do China will grab a chunk of northern India. Pakistan  will try to seize Kashmir ” as Indian troops would be reduced to less than half the normal deployment  in Kashmir. 

The possibility of collusion between these two military adversaries of India, is high, said experts. If that happens then India  faces a two front war, which it cannot possibly win. There will be very little possibility of switching troops and resources from one front to another in case of a war on two fronts,  said military experts.

India has not stayed still where military power was concerned. In 2017,India strengthened its naval bases in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. About 3000 Indian soldiers trained in amphibious warfare were deployed there. The latest landing ships can carry 10 armored vehicles, 11 armored personnel carriers and more than 500 troops, media reported in 2017. 

In 2017 India launched the nuclear-capable Agni V missile, with an expected range of over 5,000 kilometers. The missile achieved its objective and landed off Australian waters. All major cities of China are now within Indian missile range.  But Agni V is not a surprise to China. India has been working on it for years. 

analysts say that   India appears completely unprepared for a two-front conflict.  India’s stocks of ammunition are below the minimum acceptable risk level” which means 20 days of war fighting.  Some ammunition is not sufficient for even 10 days of intense  fighting said experts in 2009 .

The fleet of the Indian Air Force  is not large enough , either. The minimum strength necessary  for a two-front conflict  is  42 squadrons.   The Indian Air Force  has only 30 squadrons of fighter jets said experts in 2020.  

India’s air force planes are old models. In 2019, India sent war planes over Pakistan- controlled Kashmir, and dropped bombs onto Balakot .India’s  a Soviet-era MiG-21was easily shot down by the Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 and the pilot taken captive. India has bought4.5-generation French Rafale. The air force will have a total of 36  Rafale by 2022. These planes will face China’s indigenous fifth generation fighter, the J-20.

India has  managed to clash with all of its neighbors, at one time  or another..India  annexed Sikkim using political cunning  and the use of RAW. Sikkim is starting to question. Nepal has  recently   enlarged its territory by taking over land form the India side without consulting India.

When Bhutanese Prime Minister  Jigme Thinley met the Chinese Prime Minister , Wen Jiabao, in 2012 at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development at Rio, India got angry. India retaliated by withdrawing fuel subsidies to Bhutan. New Delhi’s heavy-handed response was deeply resented by Bhutan.

India said in 2009  that Sri Lanka  must realize that India is the big power in the region and it should stop going to Pakistan and China to get arms. We are prepared to accommodate Sri Lanka within the framework of our foreign policy.  India supporters in Sri Lanka have tried to create subservience to India. Finland is careful not to antagonize its neighbor Russia. We must also follow a policy of Finlandization and not antagonize our big neighbor India, they said.

However, Sri Lankan public is openly anti-India. They have not forgotten the Parippu drop. They say that India has forfeited the respect and confidence of Sri Lanka. Relations between India and Sri Lanka should be based on mutual respect, not superiority.  One side should not be in a perpetual state of superior bargaining power, Sri Lanka said.

India  realized  then that  imposing pressure from above will not work, with Sri Lanka. India now wants to develop its relationship with Sri Lanka on a one to one basis; with mutual respect and open hands, respecting the sovereignty and dignity of the two countries  said India in 2017.

Today, in 2020, Sri Lanka has cordial relations with India. President  Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s first official visit abroad was to India. However, India objects to China’ presence in Sri Lanka  specially  Hambantota and Colombo.  Land in the Colombo Port City was given to China on a 99 year lease, which is a long time, India complained.

Sri Lanka explained that  In  2009 Sri Lanka needed money for its development plans. The amount far exceeded what India alone could do. The only country that came forward was China.It wasn’t a foreign policy shift but an economic necessity.

In 2020 Sri Lanka  has made three  requests to India for a postponement of its debt repayment, a debt moratorium and for a currency swap facility. The Reserve Bank of India signed a $400 million swap agreement with Sri Lanka in July, to help boost Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves, and is perusing a further $1 billion requested by Sri Lanka.  

But New Delhi has not responded to  the request for a debt moratorium. Sri Lanka owes $ 960 million to India. It is now more than four months after the request was made no decision has been taken, the media observed in August, 2020. The swift assistance to the Maldives and the delay in responding to our request may  be a message to Sri Lanka , critics   said. But it shouldn’t then be a surprise if Sri Lanka seeks reprieve from China, they warned.

India has established  sound  military relations with Sri Lanka . The maiden overseas port call of INS Vikramaditya, India’s aircraft carrier, also India’s newest and largest ship was made to Sri Lanka In January, 2016.  Sri Lankan President Maitripala Sirisena was the first foreign head of State onboard the ship.

India  extended a defence Line of Credit to Sri Lanka for US$ 100 million to procure variety of defence equipment and supplies in 2017. India also gave  two Offshore Patrol Vessels. India provided large number of training slots to Sri Lankan military and security personnel in 2017.

Sri Lanka Navy  has for many years,  had  a bilateral maritime exercise with India.  SLINEX-20 was conducted off Trincomalee in October 2020, for the eighth year. The previous edition of SLINEX was conducted off Visakhapatnam in September 2019.The Sri Lanka Navy was represented by SLN Ships Sayura (Offshore Patrol Vessel) and Gajabahu (Training Ship) as well as the locally built ASW corvettes Kamorta and Kiltan.

SLINEX-20 aimed at enhancing inter-operability, improving mutual understanding and exchanging best practices and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations between both navies. In addition, the exercise showcased capabilities of our locally constructed naval ships and aircraft. Surface and anti-air exercises including weapon firing, seamanship evolutions, maneuvers and cross deck flying operations  were included in the exercise.

SLINEX exercises helped when the two navies went to the rescue of MT New Diamond, a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), which had caught fire off the East Coast of Sri Lanka. The exercise was conducted in a non-contact ‘at-sea-only’ format in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic.(Continued)

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