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"Desh ka bahut nuksaan hua hai", acknowledged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his military's recent failures against Pakistan in Balakot and Kashmir. This marked a major shift in Modi's belligerent tone that has been characterized by his boasts of "chhappan inch ki chhati" (56 inch chest) and talk of "munh tor jawab" (jaw-breaking response) and "boli nahin goli" (bullets, not talks) to intimidate Pakistan in the last few years. The recent events are forcing India's western backers to reassess their strategy of boosting India as a counterweight to China.
Balakot and Kashmir:
Indian government and media have made a series of false claims about Balakot "militant casualties" and "shooting down Pakistani F16". These claims have been scrutinized and debunked by independent journalists, experts and fact checkers. There is no dispute about the fact that Squadron Leader Hasan Siddiqui of Pakistan Air Force (PAF), flying a Pakistan-made JF-17 fighter, shot down Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of Indian Air Force (IAF) flying a Russia made MiG 21. Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan and then released to India.
|Beautiful Balakot, Kaghan Valley, Pakistan|
The widely accepted western narrative about India and Pakistan goes like this: "India is rapidly rising while Pakistan is collapsing". In a 2015 report from South Asia, Roger Cohen of New York Times summed it up as follows: "India is a democracy and a great power rising. Pakistan is a Muslim homeland that lost half its territory in 1971, bounced back and forth between military and nominally democratic rule, never quite clear of annihilation angst despite its nuclear weapons".
India-Pakistan Military Spending: Infographic Courtesy The Economist
India: A Paper Elephant?
In an article titled "Paper Elephant", the Economist magazine talked about how India has ramped up its military spending and emerged as the world's largest arms importer. "Its military doctrine envisages fighting simultaneous land wars against Pakistan and China while retaining dominance in the Indian Ocean", the article said. It summed up the situation as follows: "India spends a fortune on defense and gets poor value for money".
After the India-Pakistan aerial combat over Kashmir, New York Times published a story from its South Asia correspondent headlined: "After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its Military". Here are some excerpts of the report:
"Its (India's) loss of a plane last week to a country (Pakistan) whose military is about half the size and receives a quarter (a sixth according to SIPRI) of the funding is telling. ...India’s armed forces are in alarming shape....It was an inauspicious moment for a military the United States is banking on to help keep an expanding China in check".
Ineffective Indian Military:
Academics who have studied Indian military have found that it is ineffective by design. In "Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy Since Independence", the author Steven I. Wilkinson, Nilekani Professor of India and South Asian Studies and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Yale, has argued that the civil-military constraints that have helped prevent a coup have hurt Indian military effectiveness and preparedness in at least three important ways:
(1) the weakening of the army before the 1962 China war;
(2) the problems caused for defense coordination and preparation by unwieldy defense bureaucracy, duplication of functions among different branches and lack of sharing of information across branches and
(3) the general downgrading of pay and perks since independence which has left the army with huge shortage of officers that affected the force's discipline capabilities.
India's international perception as a "great power rising" has suffered a serious setback as a result of its recent military failures against Pakistan which spends only a sixth of India's military budget and ranks 17th in the world, far below India ranking 4th by globalfirepower.com. "Desh ka bahut nuksaan hua hai", acknowledged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his military's recent failures in Balakot and Kashmir. This marked a major shift in Modi's belligerent tone that has been characterized by his boasts of "chhappan inch ki chhati" (56 inch chest) and talk of "munh tor jawab" (jaw-breaking response) and "boli nahin goli" (bullets, not talks) to intimidate Pakistan in the last few years. The recent events are forcing India's western backers to reassess their strategy of boosting India as a counterweight to China.
Here's a discussion on the subject:
Here's Indian Prime Minister Modi making excuses for his military's failures: