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India Amid The U.S.-Chinese Arms Race

Al-Arab, London, February 2

India celebrated its national holiday this week, marking the 70th anniversary of the adoption of its constitution and the declaration of the South Asian country as a republic. Every year, this anniversary is celebrated as an occasion to highlight India’s military power and cultural diversity. It is also a suitable occasion to showcase India’s defense readiness amid the country’s strained relations with its neighbors Pakistan and China. For five years, India has been modernizing its armed forces by strengthening its naval capabilities to better monitor its maritime and Indian Ocean borders, especially following China’s naval buildup. This military modernization also includes strengthening the capabilities of its ground forces and air power, not only to improve its surveillance of its territory and airspace, but also to be prepared for any potential emergency in southeast Asia. As part of its efforts to modernize its armed forces, India is also trying to diversify its arms supplies to countries other than Russia, and buy them from the United States and Israel. Indeed, India has become one of the largest importers of defense equipment in the world, and is still seeking to increase domestic production of weapons and equipment. Since coming to power, Prime Minister Narendra Moody has been talking about transforming India, now the world’s largest arms buyer, into a defense equipment manufacturer through joint production of military equipment and increased technology transfer from other countries to India. India has also made giant leaps in space technology. Its space program was outdated and dysfunctional. But now it is being revamped for military purposes. For India, Beijing’s activities in recent years, driven by competition with the United States, have been a cause for concern. Following recent missile tests conducted by China, the scientific and technical bodies in India, as well as the country’s political leadership, leaders began to discuss whether India should develop matching capabilities. To this end, the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization is developing missile defense systems independently, while increasingly seeking partnerships with the United States and other countries. This will likely lead to an arm’s race that will continue to unfold in upcoming years, bring the U.S.-China dispute ever closer to the Middle East. –Zikru al-Rahman