By Vinayak Barot
Ahmedabad: That few countries really trust China is no secret. In particular, India, which now has the third most powerful armed forces in the world, has never ever trusted the Dragon after the 1962 war and subsequently losing many soldiers in skirmishes, and standoffs.
New Delhi has, therefore, always been on guard against Beijing. It has succeeded in creating new overseas assets against China over the last few years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts since 2014 revivified Indian diplomacy against both China and Pakistan which now stand isolated globally, a reason why they have formed an axis against India along with Nepal. Globally, China now has only Pakistan, North Korea and Nepal as “friends”.
Although wedded to peace, India consciously upgraded its weapons systems, bought the latest ones and started Make in India programme to manufacture military equipment and supplies indigenously.
But it is India’s overseas ‘assets’ which need to be highlighted at a time the country is actively engaged against China in Ladakh.
Recently, India and Australia sealed a deal to get access to each other’s military bases. It clears the way for more military exchanges and exercises in the Indo-Pacific Region.
The agreement allows Indian and Australian military ships and aircraft to refuel and access maintenance facilities at each other’s defence bases. India has a similar pact with the United States, which is seen as part of broader security cooperation to balance China’s growing economic and military presence in Asia.
Bhutan is India’s time-tested friend sharing its boundary on three sides. The Indian Army guards Bhutan, landlocked between China and India. An India Military Training Team (IMTRAT) is permanently stationed in western Bhutan.
India’s first official overseas air-force base is in Farkhor, Tajikistan, quite near to China and Pakistan borders. This foreign airbase is operated jointly by India with Russia and hosts Indian helicopters as well.
Oman is the first Gulf nation which formalized defence relationship with the Indian Navy and signed an agreement in 2008. The Indian Navy has berthing rights in Oman and has been utilizing its ports bases for conducting an anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden.
The Indian Naval airbase is also in Muscat.
India and Mozambique share warm military ties and, in 2003, the Indian Navy took charge of Mozambique’s marine security during the Summits of the African Union and the World Economic Forum.
New Delhi had committed its military assets to protect Qatar from external threat in 2008. It provides security and free access to the Indian navy.
China had settled its border with Vietnam a few years ago. But Vietnam now shares a strong military relationship with India and invited the latter for its naval presence in the South China Sea through access to the Cam Ranh Bay naval and airbase.
In 2009, India constructed an airstrip in Surkhet, Nepal, which is close to the tri-junction, Kalapani, where China meets India in Nepal’s territory. This airstrip would have been a great asset for India but the recent Communist Government in Kathmandu, supported by China, has misused India’s friendship and support. It is only a matter of time when Nepal realised its mistake of trusting China.