'India should not rely on United States: Expert

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New Delhi, Feb 3: An expert has favoured India joining the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a strategic framework of the CIS states, while having good ''working relations'' with the US for the country to hold on to its sole overseas airbase in Dushanbe, the Tajikistan capital.

Dr Kunal Ghosh, an IIT Professor, expressing his views while analysing Indian strategic interest in Central Asia with 'Organiser', the RSS mouthpiece, found India's foreign policy ''ill-advised and short sighted'' in putting all its eggs in the US basket. ''India can have limited joint naval exercise with the US but should not enter into any military or strategic pact with that country,'' he said.

India's sole military facility at Ayni, outside the Tajikistan capital, had been developed under a bilateral agreement in 2002 and the Border Roads Organisation had completed refurbishment of the Ayni military base after being 24 months behind schedule, Dr Ghosh said.

''India is likely to be evicted from its sole albeit fledgling overseas military facility under pressure from Russia, which has considerable influence on Tajikistan because it is concerned about New Delhi's ties with Washington,'' he added.

Dr Ghosh said it would be ''sheer stupidity'' to think that the US will help India to contain China and it will have to have a strong army and airforce to meet the Chinese challenge.

China, he said has 900 billion dollars worth US treasury bonds and helps maintain world dollar standard. It means that China subsidises US consumer and US indebted to China.

China on its part, Dr Ghosh predicted, would continue to maintain ''aggressive posture'' in Arunachal Pradesh and military thrusts and jabs along the border but never engage on Indian side of Himalayan ridgeline. It may have superior strength in the inter-continental ballistic missile and nuclear arms but infantry management across the mountains was another matter. China also remembers its skirmishes with Vietnam in the late 1970s when the latter did not even possess strong airforce but yet gave the Chinese a 'bloody nose'.

Communists in China considered Buddhism as a competing religion and a threat and were prosecuting any organised Buddhist activity in mainland China such as Falun Gong. However, they were tollerating organised Lama Buddhism in Tibet had circumscribed it to a great extent. India must make a realistic assessment of any internal situation and should neither whip up or get carried away by emotions, he wrote.

India must keep up its vigil, take local action, lodge protest when required but should not get perturbed but maintain adequate military strength along the Chinese borders to prevent any attempts to repeat its 1962 like limited action. India's priorities should be to have security along the border and economic development, the prof said.

He said Russia always had been a ''reliable friend'' of India while the record of US was mixed. What would be the standing of India in Central Asia after 123 nuclear agreement with the US.

Russia and China were also drawing closer in the face of western hostile posturing, it would only mean that the ''time was running out'' for India, he said.

The writer also said that if China can have close economic ties with the US, it should not be difficult for India to have its traditional friendship with Russia and have working relations with the US, he concluded.

Now, India has expressed its readiness to renegotiate the deal to break the deadlock over the delivery of Admiral Gorshkov, a move seen as a complete U-turn from its earlier hardened stand. A high-level team, headed by Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, is scheduled to leave for Russia on February 19, to verify the refit work on the warship and assess the ''actual'' cost.

The Defence Secretary confirmed to UNI that he is leaving for Russia with Director General (Acquisition) S K Sharma and other senior officials from the Ministry to hold talks with the officials there over the issues of price escalation and refit work.

Indicating that India was ready to revise the contract upwards in view of insistence by Moscow, defence sources said a large amount of money would have to be incurred on sea trials of the displacement carrier and the Russians may not have expected such a huge price escalation at the time of signing the deal with India.

''To some extent, their (Russians) demand is right. But, we have to verify the extent. If the variation is far too much, the Defence Ministry will have to seek the nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security before revising the contract,'' they added.

The sources hinted that India would be ready to shell out another 500-600 million dollars to Russia for the carrier.

However, Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta had recently criticised Russia for demanding a huge increase in the quoted price of Admiral Gorshkov, asserting that India would go by the original agreement over the aircraft carrier.

''There is no question of re-negotiating the deal. There should be no revision in the contract,'' he had said.

The Defence Secretary expressed the hope of ''positive and fruitful'' discussions with the Russians. ''I want to go and see the present status of the ship. I am hopeful of positive discussions with the Russian authorities. One of our teams is already there,'' he added.

Meanwhile, the latest issue of the Russian Information Centre's newsletter said neither Russia nor India were satisfied with Moscow's efforts to repair and re-equip Admiral Gorshkov.

''The ship's conversion into an aircraft carrier was a very difficult and complicated operation. Many designing and technological decision made during the implementation of this order have no precedent in shipbuilding. After identifying defects in the warship, drafting a technical project and making detailed engineering blueprints, the Russian side had to make substantial changes in the ship's design and conversion technology.

''It wants the aircraft carrier to have high combat qualities and a long service life. This required a lot of additional work, which was not envisaged by the signed contract. This is why the schedule of work had to be changed, as well as the cost of repairs and conversion,'' it said.

During the upcoming consultations and talks, the newsletter said the two sides would be able to agree on the changes and on the transfer of what practically amounts to a new aircraft carrier to the Indian Navy.

Quoting a military source, it said the two countries have started implementing joint projects to develop and produce a new generation aircraft and a multi-role cargo plane.

The programme licensing the Indian production of the SU-30MKI aircraft (NATO reporting name Flanker-H) and their AL-31FP engines was continuing, the newsletter said. The two sides have also launched a project for licensed production of the RD-33 (series 3) aircraft engine.

Last year, the two countries signed a record number of arms supplies agreements against the background of India's rapid economic development, it added.


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