By I. Ramamohan Rao
New Delhi [India], Oct.5 (ANI
) India is a huge country covering an area of 30 lakh square kilometres , spanning 3,200 kilometres from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and 2700 kilometres from Kolkata to Kutch. It has long borders measure 16,500 kilometres with seven neighbours and it has a maritime boundary of 5600 kilometres.
How equipped is India to defend itself? Srikant Paranjpe has presented a comprehensive book containing contributions by former army, navy and air force officers, Indian Foreign Service officers, academicians and those who have headed India's intelligence organisations.
The book also contains suggestions made to reorganise the Indian defence set up following the Kargil conflict. The suggestion to create the post of a Chief of Defence Staff after the Kargil conflict has still not been implemented. As pointed out by the late K. Subrahmanyam, Ïndia is perhaps the only major democracy where the armed forces headquarters are outside the apex government structure."
The suggestion was repeated by the committee headed by former Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra, but it still remains unimplemented.
The book also contains chapters on the "state of preparedness of the Indian Air Force, by B. N. Gokhale, the State of India's Navy by Vinod Pasricha . Rakesh Sood, an Indian Foreign Service Officer, in his analysis presents the role of foreign policy in safeguarding national interests and contributing to defence preparedness. It is more vital today than ever before.
The state of civil-military relations has been presented by S. Kalyanaraman, followed by a detailed analysis by V. R. Raghavan as to how it prevailed during the various conflicts that India faced. He underlines the need for reforms and says that a major effort will be needed to modernise the system through a new security consensus. The book also contains the role of intelligence agencies in defence and suggestions to improve it.
Finally, the book focuses on the challenges faced by the country from China and Pakistan. Jaydev Ranade, a former officer of the external intelligence network has presented in detail and the problems faced by the country in managing its relations with China.
Rana Banerji, in his assessment of Pakistan, points out that China has become Pakistan's largest weapons supplier today. He says that India cannot afford complacency in lowering its guard against persistent threats from Pakistan .Recent events have proved the correctness of this caution.
The book also contains chapters on the progress made by India in the field of defence technology and efforts to attain self reliance. India has made remarkable progress in achieving self-reliance particularly in the field of missile technology as pointed out by Amitav Malik. Efforts are also being made to involve the private sector to strengthen the defences of the country.
Book review: India's defence preparedness edited by Shrikant Paranjpe,publisher Pentagon Press, pp 244, price Rs 795. Srikant Paranjpe has presented a text book, conceived by the Nehru Centre, on India's defence preparedness.
Mr. I. Ramamohan Rao is a former Principal Information Officer of the Government of India. He can be reached on his e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (ANI