Hailed as the highest altitude tunnel in the world, the Atal Tunnel at Rohtang pass in Himachal Pradesh is a significant part of India’s border infrastructure push. It has reduced travel time from Manali to Leh and forward areas. It is significant for national defence as also tourism because it provides all-weather connectivity to the Lahaul-Spiti Valley.
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The Union Budget for FY 2021-22 is due next week. ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and the continuing stalemate with China in Ladakh will guide Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to allocate financial resources for the defence sector. How will she cater to the defence services’ expectations? Will she unveil special measures to further ‘Make in India’ in defence? Listen to defence expert Dr. Bhartendu Kumar Singh, in conversation with Sameer Patil, Fellow, International Security Studies Programme, to know how the budget will shape India’s mission to achieve self-reliance in defence-industrial capabilities
The global world order is witnessing a substantial shift. Part of the greater tussle for strategic and geopolitical dominance is the military rivalry between the U.S. and China. The two countries together now account for over one-half of the world’s defense spending.
The recently signed Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) between India and the U.S. symbolises the strengthened defence and security partnership between the two countries and the growing interoperability capabilities between the two militaries. India-U.S. defence and security ties have flourished in the last decade, with increasing focus on defence technology co-development and co-production. The enhanced G2G engagement is also reflected in the commercial sector where American and Indian defence companies have partnered in the aerospace sector to become part of the global supply chain.
On 21 October, Gateway House and the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi jointly hosted a webcast with Ambassador (Lt. Gen.) Karl Eikenberry, Sinologist, Deputy Chairman, NATO Military Committee; former Director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University on the Growing Sino-American Military Rivalry
The recent opening of the Atal tunnel represents the border infrastructure build-up underway for the last 10 years. Multiple other road and rail projects are being implemented, which will connect remote areas along the Line of Actual Control and also support the Indian military’s deployment in the region.
Start-ups are the latest entrants in the defence manufacturing sector. They have greater access through the Innovations in Defence Excellence programme. The technologies developed by them will add to the Indian military’s operational and combat capabilities. Beyond the obvious market for the defence forces, there is also the huge homeland security market in India and abroad for the start-ups.
The recently imposed import embargo on 101 items in the defence sector indicates that the government has confidence in indigineous defence-industrial capacity to fulfill the requirements of the Indian military, without resorting to imports.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated geopolitical changes. Countries around the world are becoming increasingly concerned about the nature of China’s global advances. China, at the urging of President Xi Jinping, is pursuing technological goals and investment programs to build a China-centric global model, not to mention its militarization of the South China Sea and its clampdown on Hong Kong.
The delivery of five Rafale fighter jets last month is a big boost for Indian military capacity. The government's recent ban on the import of 101 defence items is a major step forward in building domestic defence-industrial capabilities. Partnering with like-minded diplomatic partners and adopting emerging technologies will help India in this endeavour.