75 YEARS INDEPENDENCE OF INDIA- INTERVIEW WITH GENERAL (RET.) ASTHANA: „INDIA OF TODAY WANTS TO GROW AND BECOME A DEVELOPED SOCIETY BY 2047. UNLIKE CHINA IT DOES NOT HAVE AN EXPANSIONIST DESIGN“/“UNFORTUNATELY EU IS OVER-OBSESSED WITH RUSSIA- UKRAINE WAR AND APPARENTLY NOTHING ELSE MATTERS FOR IT, BUT THE REALITY IS THAT THE WORLD EXISTS BEYOND EUROPE TOO.“

Sharing an incisive/tricky interview of mine by Global Review (Germany) about India after 75 years of Independence and related international issues to include its glorious history, colonial past, freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, outstanding growth trajectory and achievements, future aspirations. Questions on 75 years of Pakistan’s Independence and future role of USA, China, India, EU, Russia and Pakistan in Asia. The interviewer is Mr Ralf Ostner. The interviewer did convey the EU perception on some of the issues about India, which is interesting mentioned at the end. The link and the text are reproduced below for ease of readers, as there can be errors in double translation (English-German-English).

Ralf Ostner after the interview had to say,

“Thank you very much for the interview. It gives the Western audience and readers a rare perspective of the role India played in history , at present and will play in the future.In the European media you didn´t read very much about India, more about China, China, China. Sometimes the Europeans and the West forget that Asia is not just China and that India is an important part in the world and I myself even think it should have a seat in the UN Security Council. Therefore we think our interview is a valuable contribution to give Asia and India a voice in our hemisphere. Thank you very much.”

75 YEARS INDEPENDENCE OF INDIA- INTERVIEW WITH GENERAL (RET.) ASTHANA: „INDIA OF TODAY WANTS TO GROW AND BECOME A DEVELOPED SOCIETY BY 2047. UNLIKE CHINA IT DOES NOT HAVE AN EXPANSIONIST DESIGN“/“UNFORTUNATELY EU IS OVER-OBSESSED WITH RUSSIA- UKRAINE WAR AND APPARENTLY NOTHING ELSE MATTERS FOR IT, BUT THE REALITY IS THAT THE WORLD EXISTS BEYOND EUROPE TOO.“

  Ralf Ostner

Global Review had the honor to have another interview with Indian General (ret.) Asthana about the 75th Indepence Day of India and Pakistan, British colonialism, Indian history, the New India and related questions.

Global Review: General Asthana, India and Pakistan are celebrating their 75th anniversary of independence. How old were you at the Independence Day and how do you and your family and young Indians remember this day?

Major General S B Asthana

Me and my family are blessed and privileged to be born in a free independent India and we owe our freedom to our older generations who made so many sacrifices to achieve it. We remember Independence Day with honour, pride and responsibility to build up stronger and developed India on the foundation laid by our forefathers.  

Global Review: Mahatma (The Great Soul) Gandhi was the most popular fighter for Indian independence. He relied on non- violence, social struggles and civil disobedience  as the salt strike or the public burning of Manchester made textiles which ruined the Indian peasants, lived a simple life as a model , made a journey through India and convinced the Congress party that India consists of 700 000 rural villages in poverty due to colonialism and not of a urban elite which consisted mostly of lawyers and some rich people. Therefore if  should become a nation and a real power against the British, you had to unite the nation, the people, the Hindus and Muslims and the Dalits. However, the British were a quit liberal colonial power with rule of law and some freedom of speech and assembly compared with Nazi colonialism and imperialism in Eastern Europe. Do you think if the colonial power in India would have been like Nazi Germany that Gandhi´s strategy wouldn´t have worked? Would Bose´s Indian army, guerrilla and asymmetric warfare then have been the alternative like in semicolonial China under Mao?

Major General S B Asthana

The contribution of Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose has been immense in freedom struggle of India and is incomparable. The methodologies of both were different but both were relevant and important in freedom struggle of India. It may not be appropriate to credit British as liberal colonial powers, because Indians can’t easily forget the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh and torture of Indian freedom fighters at cellular jail in Andaman and Nicobar, previously called as Kalapani besides trillions of dollars of wealth transported from India and  invisible hand in orchestration of Partition of India to get western aligned Pakistan holding a strategic piece of land to checkmate USSR by inclusion into CENTO and SEATO. There are many theories to justify as to what really pressurised British to leave India, but in hind sight it was a collective pressure of methodologies adopted by Mahatma Gandhi as well as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose signifying softer non-violence approach and hard-line Asymmetric Warfare approach. British were particularly worried by escalating anti-British sentiments and stellar performance of Indian Army soldiers in Second World War and regional forces, that they believed to be capable of changing the tide of British colonial efforts, in case of possible change of intention.

Global Review: How do Indian remember the British colonialism? Was there one India before and was it a regional or world power and had its own textile and other industries before the East Indian company and British industry ruined the self-reliant structure as some critics of British colonialism claim? China claims that it was a world power before the invasion of the West which has now to have its rejuvenation in the coming decades. Does India have the same narrative?  How do Indians perceive the British rule today, were there also positive effects and which relations has India today with the former British Empire and Great Britain which now wants to become Global Britain again? There are some Indians who also claim that British colonialism also had positive effects, while others compare British war hero Churchill with Adolf Hitler as he was responsible for the planned mass starvation of millions of Bengalis during the war. What do Indians think about reparation for British colonialism (some demand 1- 2 trillion US dollars)? Or would it be better to draw a line and forget about the past and turn to the future?

 Major General S B Asthana

India is proud of its glorious past when Many Indian Empires ruled not only the major portion of India and many more South and South-East Asian countries of today like Mauryan Empire, Cholas in South, Marathas to name a few. Indian civilisation is one of the oldest in the world, which was the seat of education as well as trade in terms of spice route. Some of the oldest universities like Nalanda University belong to India and the origin of science by inventing zero and medical science is part of Indian history.

Prior to colonisation, China and India had long held the top two economic positions in the world, which is why India was given the historical nickname „Golden Bird.“ Before it was colonised, India made up more than a quarter of the world’s GDP, which went down to less than 4 percent before British left. It lost much of its industrial base and had an administrative system that was designed to advance the interests of the colonial rulers. Militarily it was a major regional power with vast sphere of influence in what is known as Indo-Pacific and South Asia of today. India was also one of the largest maritime power.

Before colonisation, various princely states ruled over different regions of India. These states competed and rivalled with one another and did not coordinate their defence of Indian civilisation against invaders like the Mughals and later British colonisers in the form of the East India Company, which in reality had a strong component of the British Army. Indians were excellent fighters throughout history, but they succumbed to invaders because of disunity among the princely kingdoms. No country wants to be dominated by someone else, therefore exploitation of India and its people is a prominent theme in the perception of British rule in India.  The positive developments during British era relate to some infrastructure development and education to facilitate governance by British rulers. The period is also remembered for mass conversions of poorer segments of the society through education into Christianity.

India of today wants to grow and become a developed society by 2047. Unlike China it does not have an expansionist design or any awkward ambition of reuniting countries who were part of erstwhile Mauryan Empire. Indian growth ambitions are limited to prosperity of its people and not expansion of its territory, however it certainly wants to become a credible military power to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity and will continue to work towards it.

India has drawn lessons from its colonial past and is unlikely to  forget events like the mass starvation of Bengalis that you brought up. Regarding reparations, I don’t believe the modern-day UK is capable of making such payments, and given that India has already surpassed the UK as the world’s fifth-largest economy, the gap is only expected to widen. I am aware that several nations, such as Poland, have requested compensation from Germany for the Nazi era. Despite the veracity of the assertions and the reality that the current generation was not to blame for what occurred in history, I don’t think such requests can be realistically met by any nation, even though they may make for interesting headlines. Currently, India has good relations with UK and its in mutual interest of both countries to pursue the same.  

Global Review: If you look back at 1947: How did India develop after independence and the fall of communism in 1989 in these 75 years. What were in your opinion the most important phases and milestones to modern India? Why did the BJP gain so much power after nearly 60 years rule of the more socialist Congress party, Nehru and Gandhi? Why did many Indians distance themselves from the founders of India? Didn´t they do a good job?

Major General S B Asthana

India’s transformation from a colonial state to the largest thriving democracy currently recording the fastest growth rate has seen many historic accomplishments. Given that it is home to one-sixth of the world’s population and has the greatest variety of cultures, castes, religions, languages, ideologies, beliefs, and economic standards, India faces the greatest degree of difficulty in the world in governing it and guiding it toward growth while maintaining a secular democratic fabric. However, India has managed to maintain unity in diversity, exemplifying a stable democratic system. China, the only country with a population greater than India’s, is home to 93 percent of Hans and is ruled by an authoritarian communist dictatorship with dubious human liberties.

Despite the degree of difficulty, India became a Sovereign, Democratic and Republic reuniting many princely states as a country, and has come a long way in its glorious history. Some of the significant milestones being Adoption of a written Indian Constitution in 1950 and restructuring of governance and banking system. Emergence of strong military force which transformed itself from 1962 war to respond forcefully to Chinese in 1967, defeat Pakistan in 1971 War with 93000 prisoners in 16 days war, withstanding the threat of US, pushing ahead to become a nuclear country in 1974 and now proud to have second largest military in the world, in context of hard power.

If we compare the growth in various elements of Comprehensive National Power, India’s exploited and damaged economy at independence has overtaken the erstwhile colonial master, the UK, to become the fifth largest economy in the world. A country considered digitally backward has recorded more than 40 percent of global digital financial transactions in 2022. India recorded the highest annual FDI inflow of $83.57 billion in FY21-22 despite the coronavirus pandemic. From famine to dependency on PL480 to feed its people, India has become food surplus ready to help the world, growing its food production six times by engineering Green, Yellow and White Revolutions with continuous advancement in agro-technology  and food processing. It’s the largest producer of milk in the world.

In terms of human resource, India has largest, young, English speaking manpower in the world and one of the most influential diaspora globally. Since gaining independence, its literacy rate has increased dramatically, from 20% to 75%, and it now has more than 1000 universities. The improvement in rural sanitation from 1% to over 100% and the doubling of life expectancy since independence are significant. India is now the fifth-largest manufacturer in the world, moving from agro-economics to the service sector and now recording one of the highest unicorns in the world as a result of a significant drive towards self-reliance in every domain, including defence production.

India has recorded many top spots globally to its credit like launching 104 satellites from single flight (PSLV-C37) and lunar mission at a cost lesser than a Hollywood movie. Indian resilience was witnessed by the world during coronavirus pandemic, wherein it recorded highest voluntary vaccinations beyond two billion. It also made a name for itself as a nation that had produced very little personal protective equipment (PPE) before the pandemic, but rose to become the second-largest PPE producer in the world during the pandemic itself.

The second part of your question has political overtones. As an analyst, I analyse India as a country. Suffice to comment that that India is a free nation and that modern voters honour political talent. The biggest number of voters in the world—nearly one billion—cannot be misled or skewed, therefore I assume that political parties that promote better government will endure. Indian democracy has reached such a level of maturity that it may elect a different party in a state and a different party in the centre, depending on the ability to govern at regional and national level. No nation in the world is perfect, but India is unquestionably the largest democracy, with one of the best systems of governance.

Global Review: Indian Prime minister Modi held a speech at the historical Red Fort claiming that at the 100st anniversary of Indian independence he would have create another New India within the next 25 years. Modi wants to  create a New India starting with the reconstruction of New Delhi as well as  the rest of India. In the article “What Narendra Modi Is Taking From Me- In redeveloping the Indian capital, the prime minister is remaking it in his image” in The Atlantic Anandi Mishra writes:  

“New Delhi is more than 2,000 years old and has served as the center of multiple empires and kingdoms, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. By the 17th century, what is now known as Old Delhi was the capital of the Mughal empire. The British, who came later, sited their capital in Calcutta (now Kolkata) before eventually deciding to move it back. In 1911, King George V laid the foundation stone of a new capital to be built within Delhi—New Delhi. The city was at that point not fully equipped to accommodate India’s governing apparatus, requiring huge amounts of new infrastructure, which was ultimately designed by Herbert Baker and Edwin Lutyens. Finally, in 1931, New Delhi was inaugurated. Today, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party are seeking to impose Modi’s image on the capital architecturally as he has politically, remaking it and doing away with what came before.”

What do you think is Modi´s vision of India at the 100st anniversary. Has the Congress Party or other Indian parties different visions? .

Major General S B Asthana

India joins its Prime Minister in aspiring to be a developed country and  society by 2047. That is the National vision. I don’t view India from prism of political parties or individual authors, who are entitled their own opinion in a democratic India. India is certainly looking at peaceful, inclusive growth for all, with confidence of all and with the co-operation and efforts of all. The country is developing and so are its cities including New Delhi. Every government decision will be perceived differently and criticised in a thriving democracy with a free, commercial media, which strengthens democracy. India wants to have a $5 trillion economy by 2030, among other things, and achieve self-reliance in the defence industry. India wants to advance through the AI-driven Industrial Revolution 4.0 and establish a distinctive digital footprint through its Digital India, Innovate, Start Up, and Stand Up India campaigns.

Regarding Prime Minister Modi, you may refer to all the global surveys carried out by various global agencies which tag him as most popular leader ahead of any other leader by wide margin.       

Global Review: Pakistan also celebrates 75th Independence Day with patriotic enthusiasm and this year also marks 75 years of bilateral relations between the United States and Pakistan. While India after independence relied on the Sovjet Union and the Non-Alligned movement with Nehru, Sukarno, Tito, Nasser and others, Pakistan first relied on the USA under the Eisenhower administration which also tried to integrate Pakistan as front state against  communism by CENTO/SEATO, the Afghan war under Zia ul Haq. While Indians complaining that Pakistan was a state that supports Islamism and terrorism and that the USA would not take an active position against that, Pakistan complains that the USA only used Pakistan as a security agent and didn´t support it in Kashmir.  

“Lieutenant General (ret) Abdul Qayyum, former military secretary to the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a former senator, and the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Defense Production, told The Media Line that, “barring few exceptional periods like President Eisenhower’s era, unfortunately, the US used Pakistan to thwart communism through Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO)/Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) pacts and the Afghan war but could not stop India’s naked aggression against former East Pakistan.”

Qayyum also said that “during Afghanistan’s invasion, the US-led forces frequently utilized Pakistan’s soil, but Pakistan was never paid any compensation to ensure the repatriation of Afghan refugees.” 

He told The Media Line that Pakistan was “severely punished” for becoming a frontline ally in the US-led war on terror. As a result, he said “the local supporters of the Afghan Taliban formed armed organizations and started terrorist attacks in Pakistan; as a result, more than 70,000 Pakistani citizens lost their lives while the infrastructures were severely destroyed. Moreover, the US never extended its moral and diplomatic support to stop Indian atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir.” 

Qayyum said that the “US should realize the importance of Pakistan’s pivotal strategic location, which provides a safe gateway to Central Asian Republics and the Middle East.”

He also stressed that Pakistan’s “relationship with the US cannot come at the expense of our historically deep relationship with China, and if we buy cheap Russian oil or Iranian gas to meet our energy needs, the US should not have any objection.“

https://www.jpost.com/international/article-714721

How do you comment the Pakistani narrative?

Major General S B Asthana

I find the Pakistani narrative referred by you as collection of excuses of a failed state, taking solace in blaming everyone else but itself for its economic and social debacle in last 75 years. Sometimes one wonders how Bangladesh liberated out of Pakistan has beaten it in every single economic parameter. The misgovernance by Pakistani politicians, over reliance on religious fundamentalism, unstable democracy and overcentralisation of power with Pakistan Army are some of the fault lines for such outcome.

While US did use strategic location of Pakistan to pursue its agenda to checkmate USSR and settle scores with al-Qaeda, but it compensated it in adequate terms in terms of modern weaponry to balance its conventional power asymmetry with India to the extent of overlooking Pakistan deep state’s involvement in terrorism against India. Lieutenant General (ret) Abdul Qayyum’s remarks are aimed at reminding US that Pakistan’s strategic location is still relevant for US to access CAR countries and influence Afghanistan and it should make some concessions and not punish it for its closeness with China in the big power contestation between US and China.

Kashmir is a fake obsession of all Pakistani Generals to keep levers of power with Pakistani Army by posing themselves as saviour against Indian threat, and Kashmir as a rallying agenda amidst domestic population/politics in Pakistan. Kashmir acceded to India, was never part of Pakistan is a historical fact which will never change. Pakistan will do a great favour to its people by governing its original territory instead of ruining the future of its people in Kashmir obsession and idea of bleeding India with thousand cuts through its proxy war against India. If Pakistan continues to support terrorism, terrorists will bite it and it will continue suffering its ill effects till it changes its policy towards sanity. Regarding Kashmir, it’s a fast growing state post abrogation of article 370 with per capita GDP better than many other states of India. The fake propaganda initiated by Pakistan and its paid agents, picked up by western media as sensitive commercial news will die its natural death in times to come by natural progress of Kashmir and its youth.

Global Review: Which role do you think the USA, the EU, Russia, India, China and Pakistan will have in Asia and in the world at the 100st independence day? Militarily, geopolitically, politically and economically?

Major General S B Asthana

There is no doubt that the economic centre of gravity is shifting towards Indo-pacific and Asia will be centre of powerplay, once the dust settles down after Russia Ukraine war in Europe. The big power contestation between US and China in Asia will continue, and the focus of EU will also shift towards Asia in general and Indo-Pacific in particular. USA will maintain its global dominance due to many factors like no land border issues and self-sufficiency in energy, food, technology, defence manufacturing and strong hold over global financial system. However, a trend towards multi-polarity is inescapable and there is a strong possibility of alternate de-dollarised financial system to mark its decline to some extent. It will not possible for West to take on China without India on its side, which I see as a big possibility in context of Indo-Pacific, where the strategic interests are converging.

Chinese influence will see a significant decline, mostly due to internal and some external contradictions, but it will still be the largest manufacturing hub. It’s lack of self-sufficiency in energy food water will force it to look outward for growth, but given its opaque and unreliable  policies, its effort for global dominance will be resisted by most democracies.  With most failing states as its friend it can at best aspire to be major Asian power. India and China are unlikely to be friends due to unsettled border and Chinese ambition of China centric Asia. I see Pakistan as de-facto colony of China, which will exist as independent state, but may not be free to make sovereign choices independent of Beijing unless US plays its cards well. It will however continue to remain a global nuisance because being a failed state with nuclear arsenal and risk of jihadi takeover like Afghanistan; hence its Army will be kept amused by various world powers to avert such risk.

India seems to be emerging as a middle level power, a strong economy and military power by 100th Independence Day. Improvement in self-sufficiency level in energy and indigenous manufacturing will be the key to such expectation. A resource rich Russia despite recent setbacks will not remain contained for very long and will re-emerge as a major global power due to its geographic and resource advantages.

Militarily I don’t see much change in global order considering the enormous defence budget of United States added to its capabilities. Sino-Russian partnership will continue to be a big deterrence for US. EU will have to face the consequences of some wrong choices made in recent past, which will impinge on its growth pattern and security including internal security. The economic and geopolitical clout of some of the South-eastern Asian countries will grow much faster than Europe. As most of Asia including India is still part of developing segment of the world, the per capita income of western countries will still be much higher than Asian countries barring few exceptions. 

Global Review: India claims to be neutral in the Ukraine war. However India participates in the Russian Drill Vostok 2022 together with China. What does this mean?

Major General S B Asthana

India continues to maintain principled impartial position on Ukraine War and continues to urge all parties to stop the war and resolve differences through diplomatic negotiations with due concerns of genuine security concerns of all parties.

Vostok 2022 is ongoing exercise series which is a multilateral exercise. These exercises are finalised at least one to two years in advance. Likewise Vostok 2022 would have been finalised well before Russia Ukraine War broke out. Russia has done nothing to India, which justifies India pulling back from the finalised exercise. While Russia can be accused of Invading Ukraine, NATO can also be accused of provoking it to do so and having invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in past. India hasn’t stopped exercising with US and at the time of Vostok 2022, India is also doing bilateral exercise with US troops in high altitude area near China border.

One of the theme of this exercise is counter terrorism and emergence of IS, Taliban and al-Qaeda is a concern for India, Russia and CAR countries as much as rest of the world. In that context there was no justification for India to pull back from Vostok 2022 and it shouldn’t be read in context of Russia-Ukraine war. Unfortunately EU is over-obsessed with Russia- Ukraine War and apparently nothing else matters for it, but the reality is that the world exists beyond Europe too.

Comment Global Review:

We are very glad to have an Indian voice analysing India´s past, present and potential future, compare the narratives of China and Pakistan, the US and European role , etc. and that Western people have the cahnce not only hearing about China, China and China and nothing else if the discussion is about Asia. However we have to question two assumptions:

First, that India will also in the future have no expansionist design and be a democracy forever. India’s independence fight had two factions: Peaceful, nonviolence democratic, more socialist Gandhi and more militant, authoritarian Bose. At the moment General Asthana´s description of India is correct. However we cannot ignore that the RSS who murdered Gandhi and from which Modi came from has the dream of a revival of the Mauryan Empire and we don’t know if Modi has not a hidden agenda. Remember the times when the West thought that China, Russia and Turkey wanted to be responsible, peaceful stakeholders of the international UN order. However, it turned out when they became more powerful that they then openly aired their hidden agenda and expansionist design, be it the the Russian world, Eurasianism or the Neo Ottoman empire or the Chinese expansionist design. Modi´s Hindu nationalism also has a strong tendency to develop an authoritarian rule and an expansionist design. General (ret. ) Asthana is the generation of secular democratic generals who like his Attaturk-educated Turkish counterparts could never imagine that Erdogan could transform Turkey in an authoritarian dictatorship with an expansionist Neo Ottoman Empire design. But it happened. Therefore besides India’s impressive development, one has still to be sensitive if the growth of national strength is not accompanied with authoritarian, Hindu nationalistic, anti-secular tendencies and an expansionist design if India grows stronger. However that remains to be seen.

Secondly, the argument that the EU was over-obsessed with the Ukraine war has some flaws. First Russia also has an expansionist design. Already in his so called peace speech at the German parliament (Bundestag) 2001, Putin proposed that Europe and Russia should merge and unite their economic and military power. Most people ignored that beyond an Eurasian economic bloc he also wanted an Eurasian military bloc instead of NATO, pushing the USA out of Europe, like the Chinese want to push it out of the Indo-Pacific and to create a Russia-centric or China-centric new world order. While the USA, NATO and the EU might have made some mistakes in Ukraine, Putin’s treaty proposal before the Ukraine war openly showed that he had a much more ambitious agenda- at least the roll back of NATO before the borders of 1997. It’s not just about Ukraine, but about a new world order, the multipolar world order or as Lavrow once said at the Munich Security Conference: There can’t be any regional solution in Ukraine, Syria or everywhere else if the West didn’t accept a new world order and a new security architecture which would be written by China and Russia. That Europe is over- obsessed with Ukraine has its cause in Russia’s expansionist design. India has a long tradition of good Russian/Soviet relations, no geographic proximity and is also not threatened by a Russian war of choice. However we would like to hear what the Indians would say if the Europeans would claim that India is over-obsessed with China’s expansionist design or India’s criticism of Pakistan. However in general General (ret.) Asthana made many interesting points and arguments, be it criticism of Europe’s colonial past, the Iraq war, Pakistan and China. Therefore worth reading.

Reply from Major General S B Asthana

Let me take the opportunity to fill in some information voids with the West about India, and perceptions based on it context of both the questions.

In light of the experience of China’s rise, which the West mistakenly assisted in transforming into the world’s factory, before it was confronted with a formidable expansionist challenge, India’s rise will likewise be viewed with these misperceptions by the West, and it must be prepared for them.The apprehensions have to be viewed in light of facts, intentions and trajectory of the country. India is a developing country and in next 25 years its biggest priority is to pull everyone out of poverty line which requires all its efforts, peaceful periphery and economic development. Even a thought of expansion is detrimental to its aim of peaceful inclusive growth. It has settled borders with all maritime neighbours; hence question of revival of Mauryan Empire doesn’t arise. Let me correct a factual error that Mahatma Gandhi was shot by Nathuram Godse, not by any organisation/RSS as you mentioned, and there is no proven evidence that he was a member of RSS, when he did so. This propaganda has political motivation to discredit some organisations/parties.

There is total misconception regarding ‘Hindu Nationalism’? The word Hindu represents Indus valley civilisation of which all religions in India are part of. India has second largest Muslim population in the world (will have largest by 2030). The current government couldn’t have been in power with such a majority if it did not have support of minorities. It may surprise many in West that there are a sizeable number of Muslims and other minorities in RSS. Therefore, as I mentioned earlier, India is a mature, secular democracy where performers will get rewarded. It had many Presidents from minority communities as in all other offices including military. It needs to be noted that despite many protests in India picked up by western media, the population of all minorities is rising faster than majority community and no-one has left India due to persecution, but the same is not true for other countries around India. Even the minorities are pride of India, because going by statistics, per capita recruitment into ISIS in comparison to size of population was lesser in India than many so called developed countries.

Regarding second observation, Russia can be accused of violating territorial integrity of Ukraine but US led NATO also needs to look at its expansion on map after Baker’s promise of ‘Not an inch Eastward’, more so having done the same in Iraq and Afghanistan. India has no qualms about EU being obsessed with Russia-Ukraine War, but it doesn’t want to be told to pick side between two sides having done the same activities at different periods of history. It was sad to see democratic Government in Afghanistan sidelined to strike a deal with UN designated terror group like Taliban and all women pushed back to stone age.

India faces unique strategic challenge of having unsettled border with two nuclear countries and one of them is China. It’s a kind of threat which no other country in the world faces. If it’s preparation to meet such threat in all domains of warfare is construed as Chinese obsession by West, so be it, because India will do everything to suit its national interest. Pakistan continues to be global terror factory with nuclear weapons. If US/NATO chose to ignore it after Osama bin Laden being found there, they may inadvertently be inviting next terror attack. It makes little sense to Indians as to how upgrading F-16 will help in combating terror.

Major General S B Asthana

Globally acknowledged Strategic and Security Analyst authored over 400 publications. Veteran Infantry General with 45 years of experience at national and varied international fields. Former Director General Infantry in Indian Army. Held various key appointments in Army and UN. TV commentator, Speaker in various Strategic, Military forums, UN Organisations, Think tanks and Universities. Interviewed by various National and International news channels/newspapers/organisations on strategic, military and UN related subjects. Currently On Governing/Security Council Confederation of Education Excellence CEE, International Organisation of Education Development (IOED), and other UN Organisations. On Advisory Board of Global Advisors Consultants Corporation, member Expert Group Challenges Forum, IOED representative in UN Headquarters, Vienna, Austria. Chief Instructor, USI of India, the oldest think tank of India. Distinguished Expert, Bharat Centre of Canada. Advisor Amity University, Bharat Media LLC, USA.

Awarded twice by President of India, twice by UN, CEE excellence award for Nation building by Governor of Haryana. Awarded for “International Diplomacy and Global Conflict Resolutions” by IOED twice, a Consultative body for ECOSOC and International Police Commission – IPC India, by former Prime Minister of Moldova.

(The views expressed are personal views of the author, who retains the copy right). The author can be reached at Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ as Shashi Asthana, @asthana_shashi on twitter, and personnel sitehttps://asthanawrites.org/email shashiasthana29@gmail.comLinkedIn Profilewww.linkedin.com/in/shashi-asthana-4b3801a6Youtube linkhttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl50YRTBrOCVIxDtHfhvQDQ?view_as=subscriber

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