India’s armed forces still lack a brain: Economist

Published: September 25, 2016
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Indian army soldiers patrol near the Line of Control, a ceasefire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, in Poonch district in this August 7, 2013 file photo. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Indian army soldiers patrol near the Line of Control, a ceasefire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, in Poonch district in this August 7, 2013 file photo. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

In a damning assessment of India’s armed forces, The Economist has published a report on how the country’s international ambitions simply don’t match its military muscle.

“India is not as strong militarily as the numbers might suggest,” says the article, going on to claim how despite looking good on paper, India’s armed forces are in fact outdated or ill-maintained.

‘Pakistan 1,000 times stronger than in 1965’

“Our air defence is in a shocking state,” the report quoted Ajai Shukla, a commentator on military affairs, as saying. He said, “What’s in place is mostly 1970s vintage, and it may take ten years to install the fancy new gear.”

The report said that on paper, India’s air force is the world’s fourth largest, with around 2,000 aircraft in service. “But an internal report seen in 2014 by IHS Jane’s, a defence publication, revealed that only 60% were typically fit to fly,” it said.

The report quoted another earlier report this year by a government accounting agency estimated that the “serviceability” of the 45 MiG 29K jets that are the pride of the Indian navy’s air arm ranged between 16% and 38%.

India’s limited war option

They were intended to fly from the carrier currently under construction, which was ordered more than 15 years ago and was meant to have been launched in 2010. According to the government’s auditors the ship, after some 1,150 modifications, now looks unlikely to sail before 2023.

India fields the world’s second-biggest standing army, after China, with long fighting experience in a variety of terrains and situations. “Yet there are serious chinks in India’s armour. Much of its weaponry is, in fact, outdated or ill maintained.”

The report also addressed how India’s military is scandal-prone. “Corruption has been a problem in the past, and observers rightly wonder how guerrillas manage to penetrate heavily guarded bases repeatedly. Lately the Indian public has been treated to legal battles between generals over promotions, loud disputes over pay and orders for officers to lose weight.”

India incapable of waging war on Pakistan, experts say

The deeper problem, the report added, with India’s military is structural. The three services are each reasonably competent, say security experts; the trouble is that they function as separate fiefdoms. “No service talks to the others, and the civilians in the Ministry of Defence don’t talk to them,” says Shukla.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Rocky
    Sep 25, 2016 - 1:27PM

    I can see lots of articles written over indian military lack in xyz. Indian author write this things as criticism always make you better. But Pakistani news and media shows it to show how they are bigger and brainy than india. In 99 india was lacking in many things widely accepted in india . But Pakistan never should forgot results of 99 71 and 65 war. Pakistan should not get in any delusion that they won 65 war as the Pakistan goal to attack India was to snatch Kashmir which was not happened . Pakistan must had been more prepared in 65 and India just had lost 62 Indo sino war. Despite that Pakistan lost so many things . Your own air Marshall said those things to one of your Pakistani news channel. Watch it.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts
    Sep 25, 2016 - 1:48PM

    operational capacity aside, they are dealing with threat of ‘pigeon spies’ adequately, that’s all that matters.Recommend

  • ishrat salim
    Sep 25, 2016 - 1:52PM

    Absolutely correct analysis. Quantity does not matter, it is the man behind the quality gun that matters. It is the unflinching iman that energizes our armed forces to fight for their beloved motherland. They have the support of the whole nation. Recommend

  • ajeet
    Sep 25, 2016 - 1:53PM

    India does not have to be the most intelligent one on the block to fight the Muslim Punjabis, who are the least intelligent group in the world among humans.Recommend

  • Nav
    Sep 25, 2016 - 2:40PM

    India has segregated and kept the less power to Military to avoid any coup attempts.So, all 3 branches have been kept separate and there is a tight Civilian control on each of them. So, you cannot see Indian army taking decisions civilian matters like ordering hanging of criminals or taking decision on safeguard of industrial corridor. Army just takes the order and executes without thinking and all thinking is domain of the civilian government.Recommend

  • Saad
    Sep 25, 2016 - 3:11PM

    Whatever the capacity or lack off might be, India in reality is not interested in jeopardizing its economic well being. The cacophony is coming from the current hindu fundamentalist ruling party that needs to keep its voter base.

    Neither is the killing of innocent Kashmiris going to stop, nor is India going to launch an attack on Pakistan. Recommend

  • AK
    Sep 25, 2016 - 5:41PM

    no worries.. even with no brains the job gets done..
    1971 – bangladesh
    1984 – siachen
    1999 – kargil
    the question is, does the other side has brains to even remember these?Recommend

  • Braineating Amoeba
    Sep 25, 2016 - 6:34PM

    Britishers and Americans are pushing India and Pakistan toward wars to stifle development in Asia and Economist being the mouthpiece of Western Oligarchs is doing its bit.

    Don’t fall for trap, poor people in both country deserve our resources instead of ultra rich weapon industrial companies.Recommend

  • Amit
    Sep 25, 2016 - 6:47PM

    @Acorn Guts:
    Since u can’t afford to buy fighter jets and drones if not given to you in arms aid (F 16 event)what option do we have otherthan to catch your next best weapons of mass destruction( wait for it ) peigon.Recommend

  • Rao
    Sep 25, 2016 - 9:01PM

    Now that Pakistan has China ,superpower as its ally, it’s survival is guaranteed for thousand years. It should please all Pakistanis!Recommend

  • PakPower
    Sep 25, 2016 - 11:31PM

    @ajeet:
    Hahah…seems like you have a thing for Muslim Punjabis? What did we do to you or your family?Recommend

  • Indian wolf
    Sep 26, 2016 - 12:08AM

    @Rao:
    Like in 71?Recommend

  • Arfeen
    Sep 26, 2016 - 1:23AM

    there will be no war. So guys chill and put your effort for the development of your countryRecommend

  • Hmmm
    Sep 26, 2016 - 7:09AM

    Yeah I think it is bitter truth that India cant do anything except to make statements…Recommend

  • harkol
    Sep 26, 2016 - 8:11AM

    Economist is a publication that asked Indians not to vote for Modi… It’s objectives are as suspect as that of NYTimes.

    Having said that, some of this report is true, even if exaggerated. India has for over 2 decades, let it’s military modernization suffer, it is fixing it now.Recommend

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