India’s nuclear capable ballistic missile test is a success. India’s aggressive military build-up, is it about Africa?

April 19, 2012

Africa, International

India’s Aggressive Military Build-Up: Keeping Up With China

Indian police and army soldiers march towards India Gate on Rajpath during the main Republic Day parade on Rajpath, in New Delhi, Thursday. India is marking it’s 62nd Republic Day with military parades across the country.

By Palash R. Ghosh
International Business Times 

As India prepares to launch a long-range nuclear missile, the Agni V, the emerging South Asian giant has become one of the globe’s most active buyers of weapons and missiles, raising some concerns in China, Pakistan and elsewhere.

According to India’s defense ministry, New Delhi will increase its total defense spending by 17 percent this year to $38.6 billion — reportedly more than four times what the government will spend on health care for its billion-plus citizens.

A new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed that India’s military spending has jumped by 66 percent over the last decade. Recently, India also commissioned a Russian-made nuclear submarine, and it is negotiating with a French company for more than a hundred Rafale fighter jets.

International Business Times spokes to an expert on South Asian issues to discuss why India is aggressively arming itself.

Anjalika Bardalai is the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) senior analyst covering South Asia. She is based in London.

IB TIMES: Why is India committed to such an escalation in military and defense spending?

BARDALAI: India is keen to modernize its defense capabilities since much of its equipment is relatively old. This is especially true in the context of the recent leaking of a letter from the army chief General V.K. Singh, saying that much of India’s defense equipment is “obsolete.”

In addition, relations with the country’s neighbors, notably Pakistan and China, remain poor, and although relations are not as bad as they once were, this undoubtedly bolsters the desire to ensure an adequate level of military preparedness.

IB TIMES: Between 2007 and 2011, India accounted for 10 percent of all global arms imports. Is India simply flexing its muscle as an emerging superpower, or does it see a grave military threat from its historical enemies, China and Pakistan?

BARDALAI: The EIU wouldn’t say that India sees China as a “grave threat.” India and China still have unresolved border disputes, and more broadly, India views China as a rival for strategic influence in Asia, but these issues would not have been the sole driving factors behind the rise in defense spending in India.

China recently announced its own large increase in military spending, and given the Chinese economy’s larger size and faster growth, India is not about to eliminate the gap in military spending.

Nevertheless, in addition to the desire to modernize equipment and boost capability, there is almost certainly a desire not to let the gap [with China] widen too much further. The Indian defense ministry recently said it was “conscious and watchful” of China’s military stance.

IB TIMES: India’s top arms suppliers appear to be the U.S., Russia and Israel. Does Russia see India as a bulwark against China?

BARDALAI: India and Russia (then the Soviet Union) have had close ties since the 1950s.
IB TIMES: Why does the U.S. sell arms to India, given that the U.S. does not sell to China?

BARDALAI: The U.S. arms embargo to China was imposed after a specific incident [the reaction by the Communist Party to protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989].

In recent years, the U.S. has gone to some lengths to improve its relations with India, so it is unsurprising that it would sell arms to the country. However, Russia remains India’s largest arms supplier by a wide margin.

IB TIMES: Is Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal larger and more sophisticated than India’s?

BARDALAI: Estimates vary, but we believe the two countries’ arsenals are roughly comparable.


India test ‘nuclear-capable missile’ capable of China strike


India has test launched a new nuclear-capable missile that could strike the major Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai, according to reports.

The government has hailed the Agni-V missile, with a range of 3,100 miles (5,000km), as a major boost to its efforts to counter China’s regional dominance.

“It will be a quantum leap in India’s strategic capability,” Ravi Gupta, spokesman for India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation said.

Indian media reported the missile was launched just after 8am local time from Wheeler Island off India’s east coast.

News channel Times Now showed footage of what it described as the missile streaking through the sky.

Avinash Chandra, mission director for the test, said the missile performed as planned.

“We have achieved exactly what we wanted to achieve in this mission,” he told Times Now.

The Agni-V is designed to carry a 1.5-tonne nuclear warhead.

It can be moved across the country by road or rail and can be used to carry multiple warheads or to launch satellites into orbit.

The missile will need four or five more trials before it can be inducted into India’s arsenal at some point in 2014 or 2015, Indian officials said.

China is far ahead of India in the missile race, with intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching anywhere in India.

Officials hailed the test as a major step in its fight to be seen as a world power.

India and China fought a war in 1962 and continue to nurse a border dispute.


India commissions nuclear submarine

India has added a Russian Nerpa nuclear submarine to its navy, becoming the 6th country to operate underwater nuclear-powered vessels.

India has formally commissioned a nuclear-powered submarine into its navy, rejoining the elite club of nations with such a weapon.

The $1bn (£630m) Russian-built vessel is being leased by the Indian navy for the next 10 years. It was handed over to India in eastern Russia in January.

India previously operated a Soviet nuclear submarine until 1991.

India now rejoins China, Russia, the US, the UK and France as an operator of nuclear submarines.


Nations of color with nuclear weapons

There are only 4 nations with people of color that have nuclear weapons: China, India, Pakistan and possibly North Korea.

The other nations with nuclear weapons are: United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and Israel as stated by many including former President Jimmy Carter.

 President Jimmy Carter

NATO nuclear weapons sharing nations

NATO nuclear weapons sharing nations are: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey. After World War I Germany signed  The Treaty of Versailles that included one of the most important things under the terms of articles 231–248  to disarm. On May 17, 1933 Hitler spoke to the Reichstag regarding the disarmament. Nazi Germany openly started re-armament in 1935.

South Africa is the only nation that had a nuclear weapons program and  disassembled them. The white apartheid government eliminated the nuclear weapons in South Africa due to the probability of a black ANC led government. South Africa would have been the only black governed nation to have nuclear weapons impacting  what some apartheid leaders and some Europeans feared of Africa’s economic continent control over its own natural resources.

In 2008 the United States warned Nigeria not to rely on what top administration officials described as rogue nation’s in it’s quest to acquire nuclear technology, that being Iran. At the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan assured the global community that Nigeria will ensure that adequate safety measures are deployed when the country introduces nuclear power into its energy mix.

Nigeria’s President Jonathan with U.S. President Obama.


Indian and African leaders agreed to sharply increase bilateral trade to $90 billion by 2015.  India is aiming to boost its trade and diplomatic ties with Africa where China has already made major inroads by striking multiple deals, building infrastructure projects and offering soft loans.


Three years ago China surpassed the United States as Africa’s biggest trading partner. Bilateral trade grew from $10.6bn (£6.67bn) in 2000 to $160bn in 2011, according to Chinese state media and Chinese investment totals $13bn. China says it has also provided tens of millions of dollars in food aid. The new $200m headquarters of the Africa Union in Addis Ababa was a gift from China as a “symbol of deepening relations”.

Trade between Nigeria and Brazil has reached $6 billion.

BRIC refers to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China

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