Col Ashwani Sharma (Retd)


Survival has always been, and continues to remain, a living being’s primary instinct. Our reaction to the ongoing pandemic is proof, if one is needed – we do all that is in our power to survive. Within this premise, ‘survival of the fittest’ needs no debate. And there is an equally important adjunct to it – Power flows through the barrel of a gun.

Let us enlarge the context to a different level – even globally, only powerful nations thrive and progress. National power comes in numerous forms – economic, political, demographic, technological etc. But of all the forms, none is more visible than a country’s military power. As nation states go, in many ways, military power shapes world politics. A country with a strong military typically enjoys a higher degree of security and stability than a weaker state. Likewise, a country with a military advantage has the ability to seize or reduce another state’s power in many other areas, including economic, political or resource-based power. Development of military power can also prove to be the catalyst for a nation’s rise to great power status.  History is replete with examples of states whose ultimate downfall came on the battlefield, even if it was caused by a decline in other elements of power that resulted in eventual military defeat.

As the world battles its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, a new world order is poised to emerge in its wake. It would be presumptuous at this stage to indulge in any crystal ball gazing about what shape the new order would acquire. But it would be a timely reminder to the powers that be that the nation’s military power must not dwindle even in the aftermath of a crisis as big as the current pandemic. Secure borders are vital for growth. As young India eyes opportunities to emerge stronger from the ordeal, it must not forget continual addition to the military muscle needed to safeguard national interests. Our cover stories for the May-June issue are thus inspired from this notion of a strong military to safeguard long term national interests. Gen Hasnain and Admiral Chauhan have strengthened our belief through their compelling arguments in their respective contributions.

As if on a cue, India is having to deal with a volatile LoC with Pakistan and a number of intrusions by PLA in Ladakh and Sikkim. The former has become a constant pin prick that irritates, the latter a repetitive bullying pain! PLA’s moves appear baffling on the surface, but they are certainly part of a larger strategic calculus. India will have to figure out that part of the puzzle, even as talks at the diplomatic level have begun. But it is imperative that we continue to ramp up our military might in the area in order to negotiate from a position of strength.

India’s recent border dispute with friendly Nepal has been analysed well by two knowledgeable former military generals of the respective countries. Both are sanguine about an early diplomatic solution.

With an incisive feature on Integrated Air Defence Command, there is a wide variety of topics in our latest issue.