The new non-alignment
Mains Paper: 2 | International Relations
Prelims level: COMCASA
Mains level: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests
- During or immediately after the 1962 India-China border war, Soviet Union provided no military assistance to India while Washington was generous with offers to Jawaharlal Nehru’s call for help.
- Barring that small blip, Moscow has always stood by India, both in providing latest military equipment and classified military technology — say, nuclear submarines — which no western power will ever provide.
- It all started with the Mig-21 fighter aircraft which Moscow decided to sell to India in 1961.
- It had entered service with the Soviet Air Force only in 1958 and India was the first country to get it.
- Not only that, Moscow was willing to permit licensed manufacturing of Mig-21 in India, and extend credit for manufacturing.
Important highlights of this alignment
- As Indian Air Force (IAF) expanded after the 1962 War, it considered three aircraft for induction: British Lightning, Soviet Mig-21 and American F-104 Starfighter.
- The IAF found the British aircraft unsuitable and chose the F-104 Starfighter.
- The US had already given F-104 Starfighter to Pakistan in 1961 and it was expected India would get it without any opposition in Washington.
- India rejected the American offer.
- As per the 1961 Mig-21 contract, the first six aircraft were scheduled to be delivered to India in December 1962 but it was held up for months as India awaited clearance of the American sale.
- Finally, the six Mig-21 aircraft arrived in mid-1963, which formed the No 28 Squadron of the IAF.
- This was a major turning point in the military relationship between Delhi and Moscow, which was on display again last week .
- The signing of the $5.3-billion deal for five S-400 air defence systems, despite the clear and open threat of US sanctions under CAATSA.
- It is the second-biggest defence deal of Modi’s tenure, after the controversial Rafale deal with France.
- As Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said last week, the S-400 will be a “booster dose” for his force, which currently has an obsolete air defence system.
- But the S-400 is a defensive system, and the IAF equally desperately needs fighter aircraft which are its sword-arm.
- The IAF has been pressing for more aircraft but we have not seen a similar desperation to procure fighter jets from Russia or elsewhere.
- NSA Ajit Doval also paid a much-publicised visit to Washington to meet the major US principals soon after, where the S-400 is believed to have been a significant point of discussion.
- But there was no clarity about the waiver.
- American officials say the decision will be taken by President Trump himself, and considering his recent remarks about trade with India, no one is sure which way he will turn.
- White House has not yet confirmed its response to the Indian invite to be the chief guest at next year’s Republic Day parade.
- With President Trump having imposed sanctions against China under CAATSA, the American threat cannot be dismissed as a nonserious one.
- Delhi, however, can’t succumb to American pressure.
UPSC Prelims Questions:
Q.1) Which of the following is true about "CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act)", recently in news ?
A. The act is passed by USA for countries having significant defence relations with North Korea.
B. It would be tough for India to carry on defence deals with USA if the act is not diluted on case to case basis.
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2
UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Why has India gone ahead with the S-400 deal despite Trump administration sanctions ?
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