Dr Farrukh Saleem
Obama has lost big. With 189 Democrats left in the House Obama can do little – if anything at all – as far as domestic policy is concerned. In the Senate, with 59 Democrats, Obama does not have the numbers to invoke cloture. The Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for February 6 2012 and Obama has 15 months to run his election campaign and that too based on foreign policy.
India is planning on spending a colossal $112 billion in the following six years to buy killing machines. According to KPMG, the global consulting firm, this would amount to "one of the largest procurement cycles in the world." According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) India is now the largest buyer of combat planes in the world.
President Obama wants a share of the pie for Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. Next month, President Sarkozy will call on India to sell killing machines made by Dassault Aviation, DCNS, EADS and GIAT. In December, President Medvedev will also be in India to sell hardware made by Sukhoi, Tupolev, Mikoyan, Mil Moscow Helicopter, Ilyushin, Yakovlev and IZH.
Agni, Akash and Trishul have mostly failed. Trishul is being replaced by Israeli Barak and Agni actually landed 100 km off target (Pirthvi has been the lone success). In 1974, the Main Battle Tank (MBT) Project was launched. In 1983, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Project was launched. MBT has produced tanks but the tanks are "too heavy and undependable to be used in combat operations." LCA, after spending $1 billion, has so far failed to produce an aircraft that can actually be inducted into the fighting squadrons of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Seattle may be 11,326 km from New Delhi but Seattle needs to create jobs. In 2009, Boeing laid off 10,000 or 6 per cent of its work force. The Russians have cancelled their order of 15 Dreamliners 787. The 747-8 Programme is a year late. President Obama now wants to sell India 10 C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlift, military transport planes for $5.8 billion.
Bethesda may be 12,050 km from New Delhi but Bethesda needs to create jobs. In 2009, Lockheed-Martin laid off 4.5 per cent of its work force. President Obama now wants to sell $11 billion worth of tailor-made F-16IN Super Viper and fifth generation F-35 Lightning II, single-seat, single-engine stealth multirole fighters to the Indian Air Force (the IAF currently has no inventory of US-made combat aircraft).
President Sarkozy wants India to upgrade its Mirage-2000 fighters at a cost $2 billion. EADS is looking at selling 197 helicopters worth $600 million. Eurofighter Typhoon, the twin-egine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter is also in the game to sell.
President Medvedev wants India to sign a $30 billion stealth-fighter co-produce agreement for the production of 250 fifth-generation fighters. The Russian president also wants to sell 29 naval MiG-29 fighters plus MiG-35 the 4++ generation jet fighters with Zhuk-AM AESA radars.
Over the past decade, India's defence outlay has gone from $10 billion to $32 billion (from Rs45,694 crores to Rs1,41,703 crores). Obama needs Indian orders to create employment back home and Russia needs Indian money to oil its own lacklustre economy.
The US needs India to counterbalance China but it is not in America's interest to hand over the sub-continent to India-and thus the US needs Pakistan. Furthermore, India's moves in Afghanistan are not in conformity with America's exit strategy out of Afghanistan.
But, for the largest exporter of killing machines on the face of the planet the business of selling killing machines must go on. And, for India, an aspiring regional power and the second largest importer of killing machines, its guns are not butter for her 900 million poor.