Defence and economic cooperation are two prominent and defining aspects of any bilateral relationship in today’s world. While evaluating the growing bilateral relationship between India and Australia, it is heartening to note that in both these areas, the two countries have been moving rapidly over the last few years. Indian investments in Australia was recorded at AUD 10.9 billion in 2014, while Australian investment in India touched AUD 9.8 billion with annual bilateral trade reaching nearly AUD 16 billion (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2015).
1. In my earlier article on the Sri Lankan General Elections (‘Curtain Raiser’, VIF 07-2015) various possible out comes of the elections were out lined. As was mentioned therein, the electoral contest was mainly between the two key alliances namely the Ranil Wickremesinghe led United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) and President Sirisena led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) which also included former president Mahinda Rajapaksa in the fray as an SLFP candidate but not the future alliance prime minister.
“Two great civilizations ---India and China --- have been in mutual dialogue for centuries. Both the dialogue as also the distinctiveness have been inspired in no small measure through the spread of Buddhism.Pilgrims from each country have visited the other. The pilgrimage and trade routes provided opportunity for the flowering of creative energies in both the countries. The paintings and sculpture of the Dunhuang caves represent this cultural synergism as do the Ajanta caves of India."
- Prime Minister Narsimha Rao, November 1991
Defence planning in India has been marked by knee jerk reactions to emerging situations and haphazard single-Service growth. The absence of a clearly enunciated national security strategy, the failure to commit funds for weapons and equipment acquisition on a long-term basis and delays in decision making have together handicapped military modernisation. Also, there is a “critical hollowness” in defence preparedness, including large-scale deficiencies in ammunition and equipment, as revealed in former COAS Gen V K Singh’s letter to the Prime Minister in March 2012.
The recently concluded One Rank One Pension agitation by Veterans of the Armed Forces had me thinking of various aspects of the armed forces itself. Having grown up as an army brat, I spoke to quite a few people about the agitation itself. What I discovered was that while there was complete unity in the belief behind the struggle for OROP, there were differences in opinion pertaining to the way the agitation was taking place.