M. Ali Baig
India’s security-related developments are the reason behind the arms race in the region
The government of the Philippines has asked for a clarification from India to explain the accidental launch of the BrahMos missile. Indians first claimed it as a “technical malfunction” and then suggested the reason as “human error.” From a network of pro-US states in East Asia, the Philippines signed a contract with India for purchasing BrahMos missiles, which is a joint venture with Russia-India. This contract was signed on January 28, 2022. This would enhance the supply of Shore-based Anti-Ship Missile Systems in the Philippines. The deal closed at $375 million and two batteries to the coastal defence missions.
Subsequently, India, along with its partners, is working on modern technology to increase the strength of its military. These ventures also include missile technology. The BrahMos cruise supersonic missile is also a product of Russia and India’s mutual collaboration. This missile comes in different variants, depending on the platform used, which can be air, sea, land and under the sea. The target is covered within a range of 250-300 kilometres. India is also working on hypersonic delivery vehicles and more advanced technology.
Most importantly, India does not have the required expertise and competence to commensurate with the advanced technology. The labyrinth of military crisis, adventures and now accidents is not new within and to its neighbours of India. It opens new realms of the concept of security studies in political science due to the March 9 misfire missile incident.
Meanwhile, the Indian missile failure incident is one of the biggest perilous moments in the modern era. On March 9, the Indians launched a medium-range cruise missile, the BrahMos from the garrison town of Ambala, about two hundred kilometres (125 miles) north of the capital New Delhi. This missile, which ended up crossing the international border to the long-term nuclear rival Pakistan by damaging civilian property in the city of Mian Channu, could be the trigger to start a nuclear war or full-scale war. The reason for the incident changed by Indian officials from “technical malfunction” to “human error” when the developers of the missile got upset and apprehensive.
India’s security-related developments are the reason for the arms race in the region. It is the third country in the world, which spends extensively on its military. According to SIPRI research, India becomes third in spending $76.6 billion after the US and China. Such a big investment is a concern for the peace and security of the region, subsequently raising threat perception for other regional states. Additionally, the series of accidents happening to these lethal military assets due to the lack of proper training and inefficient human resource adds to the security environment.
These accidents are not only a threat to India itself but also to its neighbours and to those states who are purchasing the technology from India. For the record, before the misfire of the BrahMos missile into Pakistan, due to a pilot error, India’s Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, along with his family and twelve other military personnel, died in a chopper crash. Moreover, in 2019, the Indian Air Force shot down their helicopter in Budgam after the Balakot incident and called it a “big mistake.” Ironically, Indian military accidents do not end here but it continues with the darkest moments for themselves and others.
However, in case of taking the missile crisis of India as an accident, New Delhi has mixed its reasons for the accidental with technical as well as human error. It flashes the lack of trained personnel and a crucial problem in the Command and Control. India is advised to focus on and develop the training of its personnel as they already committed to the Philippines for security-related training.
Given the above-mentioned inferences, the threat of incompetency is not only lingering in South Asia but also in East Asia after the contract. This particular incident has failed the traditional concept of strategic stability.
Meanwhile, according to the critiques, the missile incident was intentional to check the air defence system and threshold of Pakistan. Then, it is a detestable bluff that involves risks to airspace safety and the absolute irresponsibility of India. It could have resulted in major safety and security incident for the region and the world.
From India’s views claiming the reason for the incident is human error, India needs to spend money and time on the security personnel involved as compared to the number of military technologies it is adhering to all around the world. To clarify, the international community should have a strong response to the status quo of maintaining the aurora of peace over the missile incident between India and Pakistan with the safety and safeguard envision. Due to the fact of its hair-trigger nature of the deterrence instability threat. There should be actions on the Indian missile development programme at least because it showed the entire world how dangerous Indian missile adventure could have been for global security.
Ironically, the western, and specifically the US, response to the incident was not proactive. For reference, the State Department’s spokesman Ned Price stated, “We have no indication as you also heard from our Indian partners that this incident was anything other than an accident.” Supposedly, what if India was not the partner of the US? The US might have put sanctions on it for its incompetence in bearing the technology and risk to the security of the world.
Consequently, all of these observations show there is a lack of competency, responsibility, credibility, and absence of a robust chain of command as well. This launch was unauthorised, as there was no legal consent by the political authority. There are greater and more complex safety protocols to fire a missile.
Lastly, the incident is leading to the points for India to give attention to its domestic strategic related organisations for establishing sustained reliable processes and systems. Also avoid testing and compelling nuclear neighbours to respond rather than refrain, as it will not be in favour of the overall South Asian security environment.