PM’s moment of ‘Triumf’

It is Prime Minister Modi’s moment of ‘Triumf’. By signing the $4.2 billion deal for the acquisition of four squadrons of S-400 Triumf missile defence system, ignoring the angry scowl of Washington and its threat to impose sanctions on India. Modi has made an emphatic statement, namely, that India’s foreign policy is conducted in the national interest of India and any amount of pressure put by any foreign Power to change it will be of no avail. Judging by Washington’s initial reaction to the signing of the Indo-Russian deal it seems White House has reconciled itself to the reality. Simultaneously, signals emanating from New Delhi suggest that India will continue to import crude oil from Iran. The threat of US sanction will not work here, too.
Modi has acknowledged Russia an “old and traditional friend of India”, even though the architect of that friendship, Jawaharlal Nehru, continues to be the Sangh Parivar’s bête noire. The Triumf deal has served several purposes. First, it has sent a message to Washington that it cannot take India for granted. Second, it has bolstered our defences against both China and Pakistan. Third, by signing the deal India has effectively checked Russia to go over completely to the China-Pakistan axis. In fact, it is the sanctions imposed by the US (and by the EU under US pressure) that forced Russia to gravitate toward China for purely economic reasons. The Rs. 40,000 crore Triumf deal could not have come at a more opportune time for Moscow. It is time the US realized it needs India as much as India needs the US.
At a time when the fleet strength of the IAF has been declining and the acquisition of the Rafale MMRCA is mired in a controversy, the Triumf missile defence system will boost India’s defence capability. Now the MMRCA impasse has to be speedily resolved so that within the next five years, the IAF can replace its old and aging fighter aircraft with new generation aircraft. Technological upgradation of military hardware is a continuous process and has to be planned keeping in view the likely advance expected to be made by other players in this field in the future. For India it is important to be able to fight a two-front war with both China and Pakistan, if such a contingency arises. The former Soviet Union and its successor State, Russia, has proved to be India’s reliable and time-tested friend. The Modi-Putin agreement has further cemented that friendship.

Sunday, 7 October, 2018