- India faces dual challenges from its northwestern and northeastern fronts, both aimed at undermining its security and territorial integrity along with adversaries within its borders, driven by insurgency and support from China and Pakistan.
- India should bolster the strike capabilities of the ITBP and offer broader international visibility to the Dalai Lama, emphasizing the cause of Tibet.
- India should extend its support to the oppressed Hindu minority in Sindh and grant recognition to the Balochistan Muslim population as these marginalized communities in Pakistan need assistance and recognition.
- India should proactively engage in initiatives like the I2U2 Alliance and also actively pursue the ‘Indian-Middle East Corridor’ (IMEC) to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Hamas conducted a lethal and devastating attack on Israel on October 7, 2023. It was a well-planned and executed operation in the context of horrific terrorism. 1400 Israelis were slaughtered, 200 were taken captive, and many were raped, tortured, and brutalized in the most heinous ways. In terms of military norms, civilisational behaviour, and respect for the old, women, and children, it contradicted all standards of decent human behaviour. Not only were the crimes heinous, but they were joyously disseminated throughout the world with delight and pride by Hamas, the Palestinian leadership in Gaza, their fighters, and their civilians. This attack, particularly striking given Israel’s reputation for intelligence capabilities, left the international community in shock. In the aftermath of this incident, Indian military strategists have had to prepare for the challenges posed by dual threats from China, Pakistan, and internal security concerns.
India and Pakistan: Bilateral Challenges
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence, the most recent of which was the Kargil conflict in 1999. In 2019, India engaged in surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to target terrorist infrastructure. Pakistan has long used non-state actors to bleed India, including supporting terrorists in Kashmir, Khalistan radicals in Punjab, and PFI in Kerala. “Ghazwa-E-Hind” has been a long-held aspiration of Pakistan since its inception. The revocation of Articles 370 and 35A along with the reorganization of the State of J&K into two union territories Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir by India has significantly strained diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan, triggering increased tensions and a highly dangerous scenario along their shared borders. borders.
India and China: Areas of Conflict
The Chinese Communist Party adheres to the utilization of psychological warfare and various subversive tactics to undermine enemy nations from within, drawing inspiration from the principles outlined in Sun Tzu’s Art of War doctrine. China’s support for insurgent organizations in India’s North East, promotion of Naxal ideas in Central India, and financial support for universities, research institutions, and media outlets to disseminate Chinese propaganda have all heightened India’s security worries. Furthermore, India faces a different challenge from China, as seen by border clashes such as the Galwan conflict, territorial disputes in the North East, and tensions in areas such as Doklam. China’s diplomatic posture at the United Nations, where it supports resolutions sponsored by Pakistan, and its “String of Pearls” strategy in the Indian Ocean have exacerbated the problem. This emerging picture also includes economic rivalry and a fight for influence in the global South.
China-Pakistan Axis of Evil
China’s collaboration with Pakistan on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Pakistan’s gifting of the Saksham Valley to China are key elements in their partnership. Notably, China has been alleged to have used Pakistan for testing around 4,000 new pathogens, raising concerns about potential biological warfare capabilities. Moreover, Pakistan is enhancing its military capabilities by acquiring submarines and fighter jets like the JF-17, further strengthening its position.
Internal Conflicts – Challenges and Constraints
India faces dual challenges from its northwestern and northeastern fronts, both aimed at undermining its security and territorial integrity. Additionally, India’s former army chief, General Bipin Rawat, warned in 2017 that the country should be prepared for a “half-front war” against adversaries within its borders, driven by insurgency and support from China and Pakistan. These challenges pose complex security concerns for India.
The Indian Army, with a strength of 1.4 million personnel, is organized into 32 divisions and 14 corps. To effectively manage a two-front war scenario, it would require 43 divisions, along with the need for an ammunition reserve of 60 days which is currently at 10 days.
In the case of the Indian Air Force, it is essential to reach the desired strength of 42 squadrons to handle a two-front war effectively. Presently, it operates with 32-33 operational squadrons. Modernization efforts are underway, including discussions to acquire 114 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA), alongside the development of indigenous projects like Tejas and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) to replace ageing MIG, Jaguar fighter jets.
The Indian Navy maintains two aircraft carriers and 18 submarines, with the maritime theatre command being vital in controlling key sea lanes such as the Malacca Strait. India is considering the expansion of its naval presence by establishing overseas bases in regions like Seychelles (Assumption Island) and Mauritius.
China currently holds advantages over India in various technological domains, including Artificial Intelligence, Deep Space Warfare, Rare Earth mineral mining through deep-sea operations, hacking capabilities, and drone warfare.
India’s defence forces require both qualitative and quantitative enhancements, but it’s important to address the substantial budget allocation for pensions and salaries. Sustaining double-digit economic growth for the next two decades is imperative to meet these defence needs.
Countering Two-Front Challenge from China – Pakistan
India, despite its nuclear capabilities, is actively strengthening its military arsenals and progressing towards the development of a nuclear triad delivery system. Additionally, India is investing in electromagnetic weaponry, represented by Project Khush, which bears similarities to Israel’s Iron Dome and is anticipated to be operational by 2028. India also possesses advanced missile systems such as Agni and Brahmos and is engaging in arms exports to countries like Vietnam and the Philippines.
To counter external threats, India is establishing theatre commands that integrate the strengths of its three armed services. These theatre commands, such as the Western, Northern, and Maritime theatre commands, enable India to effectively respond to specific adversaries or diverse terrains. India is concurrently enhancing its border infrastructure in the North and North East, including airfields close to the border and all-weather road connections, which are vital for efficient relief supply logistics in times of conflict.
India can disrupt China’s maritime access through the Malacca Strait using its maritime command in the Andaman region. The government is actively bolstering the infrastructure for monitoring and responding to potential threats from enemy vessels, while also constructing airstrips to enhance its capabilities in the area.
The Indian Foreign Minister has been actively fostering relationships with democratic countries such as the United States, Japan, and various European nations. In the event of conflict Southeast Asia and the Middle East are expected to maintain a neutral stance, Russia may lean toward China, and Pakistan might seek support from countries like Canada, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and other allies. India should carefully
To address internal security concerns, India should take steps like banning Confucius Institutes, restricting Chinese apps, and loan apps, and implementing tax demands on Chinese companies. Preventing Chinese firms like Huawei and ZTE from bidding on Indian communications projects is crucial. The nation should focus on technology self-reliance through initiatives like Make in India, establishing a Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme, and building a semiconductor hub to enhance the supply chain.
Countering Internal Challenges
India’s intelligence apparatus, including agencies like RAW, IB, Military Intelligence, CBI, and NIA, should collaborate effectively with paramilitary forces like the CRPF and Assam Rifles, as well as state law enforcement agencies, to address internal threats. Strong measures are needed in border states to prevent demographic changes. Additionally, the Indian government should explore backchannel dialogues with separatist groups and work on their integration into the mainstream. India has successfully attracted a significant investment of $50 billion from the UAE, which is being utilized for development projects in Kashmir.
Geopolitical Alliances to Thwart China-led Axis of Evil
The Indian government should focus on bolstering the strike capabilities of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and offer broader international visibility to the Dalai Lama, emphasizing the cause of Tibet. Additionally, India should extend its support to the oppressed Hindu minority in Sindh and grant recognition to the Balochistan Muslim population, represented by Dr Naela Qadri, who serves as the Prime Minister in Exile. These marginalized communities in Pakistan need assistance and recognition.
Furthermore, India should strengthen its ties with Afghanistan and elevate its voice on the Uighur issue to exert pressure on China. The Indian government should consider expanding the scope of the QUAD alliance, potentially evolving it into a military alliance, while ensuring that the Malabar Exercises become a comprehensive agreement covering areas like information sharing, logistics, refuelling, reconnaissance, and technology collaboration and assistance.
Moreover, India should proactively engage in initiatives like the ‘India, Israel, UAE, USA” (I2U2 Alliance) and negotiate free trade pacts. It should also actively pursue the ‘Indian-Middle East Corridor’ (IMEC) to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) debt strategy. Building robust alliances with countries such as Armenia and Greece and enhancing ties with Latin American nations has significantly contributed to India’s geopolitical influence on the world stage. Furthermore, numerous Western nations have alleged the involvement of clandestine Indian operatives in the elimination of Bharat’s adversaries operating within their borders.
These collective actions underscore the proactive and preemptive measures undertaken by the current leadership to safeguard India’s geostrategic and geopolitical interests and neutralize potential threats.
(The author is a post-graduate student in International Relations at Kalinga University, Raipur. Views and opinions expressed are the author’s own)