ndia now boasts of a nuclear triad – after decades of progressively successful efforts. In simple terms, this means the country has achieved the capacity to fire nuclear weapons to enemy nations from all three bases — air, land and sea. The first leg was the land-based Agni missile system, and the second the air-based Mirage 2000s. To this is added the strike capability from sea. Arihant means ‘annihilator of enemy’.
This achievement, while retaining a steadfast commitment to the no-first-use nuclear doctrine, is supposed to be both, a pride and a warning to enemy nations that India will not be found wanting in adequate and lethal responses in the event of it facing a nuclear attack. However, the big question that troubles everyone in the know today is whether India is really capable of any form of retaliation in case it decides to adopt this policy of being the second user. In reality, a nuclear attack could easily cripple the response system of the Indian defense mechanism so badly that there would be none around to take the all important call. These knowledgeable sources cite the Air India jet hijack incident of 24 December 1999 when one of the national carrier’s craft was taken forcibly to Kandahar, Afghanistan during the Taliban days. Although the jet had landed at Amritsar, the Indian response team (obviously all bureaucrats) was found snoozing and totally inept. The result is well known to the whole wide world. The jet landed at Amritsar, was refused refuelling but was allowed to take off again. While Pakistan’s Lahore airport and the UAE both denied permission, it headed straight for Kandahar. The hijackers’ mission was complete. The Indian system was proven to be a total failure.
To claim that India’s military abilities have exponentially developed since 1999 is similar to a child trying to fool her parents that her bad marks are due to the teacher at school being uneducated. Our so-called ‘triad’ capabilities are just hogwash. To say that the morale of our troops is extremely low would surely be an understatement. Regular news reports of Indian soldiers being trapped, ambushed and beheaded breaks the hearts of every sensible patriotic Indian. Woefully deprived of proper clothing, arms and ammunitions, vehicles and most importantly intelligence inputs, the Indian armed forces deserve much better.
The announcement Monday that INS Arihant has successfully completed its “first deterrence patrol” may be seen as a new milestone in the nation’s defence preparedness and part of an effort to equip itself with a minimum of five nuclear submarines. A quarter of a century’s efforts went into its building, and a second one is currently in the making that could, probably, join the navy another 25 years later. China is recorded to possess at least 10 nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear ballistic submarines, besides over 60 diesel-electric attack submarines. Leading the pack, though, are the US with over 70 nuclear submarines, against Russia’s 30, while the UK and France have 10 to 12 such possessions. The same is true of the range, too – Arihant missiles boasting of 750 to 3,500 km, against the Chinese reach of up to 5,000 km.
The only matter of pride may be that INS Arihant is India’s first indigenously built nuclear submarine, a step-up from our dependence on INS Chakra, on lease from Russia for a 10-year-period from 2012.
The threat of a nuclear attack on India is perceived to be more from the China side than Pakistan. If that does happen, our response will surely be of great importance, although the damage that we could cause would be of very little consequence to the Dragon. Some claim, very bravely, that India has come a long way since 1962. Sadly for us, today’s China too has gone a much longer way since that era.