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World War I

At the start of World War I, opposing armies were equipped to varied degrees with contemporary signal communication systems, but they had little understanding of the enormous burden that signal systems had to carry in order to keep control of the massive forces that had been set in motion. Armies differed tremendously in terms of structure and efficiency. At one end of the scale, Great Britain had a tiny but well-developed signal service, while Russia had a signal service that was inferior to the Union Army’s at the end of the American Civil War.

Both the Allies and the Central Powers quickly realised that commanders could not control, coordinate, or guide large modern armies without effective signal communication. Despite spending years focusing on the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans failed to ensure appropriate communication between higher headquarters and the right-wing armies pushing through Belgium and northern France. As a result of the lack of coordination between these armies, the strategy was foiled, and the army was forced to evacuate north of the Marne.

As the war proceeded, there was a growing understanding of the need for enhanced electrical communications with considerably more capacity for larger units, as well as the necessity for electrical communications inside regiments, which had previously been considered unnecessary and impossible. On either side, a complex telephone system with thousands of kilometres of wire arose quickly. In the rear of the opposing armies, pole lines with multiple crossarms and circuits arose, and buried cables and wires were placed in the elaborate trench systems leading to the forwardmost outposts.

As a result, there grew an enormous gridwork of deep-buried cables, with underground junction boxes and test points every few hundred yards, particularly on the German side and in the British sections of the Allied side. To some extent, the French used buried wire, but they chose to string their telephone lines on wooden supports set against the walls of deep open trenches. Despite efforts to protect the wire wires, the intensive artillery fire regularly cut them at vital periods. As a result, all belligerents developed and used radio (wireless) as a secondary mode of communication.

The ease of enemy interception, the necessity for cryptography or encoding messages, and the inherent instability of these early systems prompted them to be viewed as strictly auxiliary to the wire system and intended for emergency usage when the wire lines were cut.

The employment of electric signal lamps brought visual signalling back to the battlefield in World War I. Pyrotechnics, rockets, Very pistols, and flares were all commonly used to send pre-programmed signals. Messenger services expanded to the point where they were used on motorcycles, bicycles, and automobiles. Homing pigeons and dog messengers were widely utilised and proved to be quite effective.

The aeroplane, which was introduced in World War I as a new element in warfare, posed an urgent communication difficulty. Communication between the ground and the air was difficult and primitive during most of the battle. Between the planes and ground headquarters, extensive attempts were made to use radiotelegraph and radiotelephone. Many planes were equipped with radios in the latter months of the war, but the service was never satisfactory or reliable, and thus had little impact on military operations.

Wireless telegraph transmission was widely used by international navies during World War I and had a significant impact on the nature of naval warfare. Wireless communication over vast distances was made possible by high-powered shore and ship stations.

Post World War I

The pressing necessity for scientific study and the development of military equipment and procedures was one of the war lessons acquired by most of the major nations. Although the amount of money spent on military development from World War I through World War II was relatively tiny, the small sums helped to forge a link between industry, research, and the armed forces of the main powers.

Pioneering in the use of very high frequencies by amateurs, industry, and science was crucial in postwar radio communication. Armed forces now have access to portable short-range equipment for mobile and tactical usage by armies, navies, and air forces as a result of these breakthroughs. Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States all engaged in active military effort in these domains. Germany had designed and manufactured a complete line of portable and transportable radio equipment for its army and air force as early as 1938.

The printing telegraph, also known as the teleprinter or teletypewriter machine, entered civilian usage between World Wars I and II and was incorporated into military wire-communication systems, but military networks were not substantial. Military radio teleprinter circuits did not exist prior to World War II.

Frequency-modulated (FM) radio was another key communication advancement that arose and grew rapidly between World Wars I and II. This new method of modulation, developed by Edwin H. Armstrong, an inventor and a major in the United States Army Signal Corps during World War I, offered a previously unattainable reduction of the effect of ignition and other noises encountered in radios used in vehicles during the late 1920s and early 1930s. It was originally adapted for military usage by the United States Army, which had tank, vehicle, and man-pack frequency-modulated radio transmitters and receivers under development prior to World War II.

The world’s navies entered World War II with highly developed radio communication systems, both telegraph and telephone, and several electronic navigational aids in the works. Signalling with blinker lights was still in use. On navy boats, the usage of telephone systems and loud-speaking voice amplifiers had become commonplace. Air forces used wire and radio transmission to connect their bases and landing fields, and built airborne long-, medium-, and short-range radio equipment for air-to-ground and air-to-air communication.

World War II and After

In some ways, World War II was comparable to World War I in terms of communications electronics: the most extravagant prewar projections of military requirements quickly proved to be only a fraction of the real demand. The demand for various types of communication equipment, as well as enhanced communication quality and quantity, grew beyond the industry’s immediate capabilities. Manufacturing facility expansion became critical, and research and development in the communications–electronics industry reached new heights. 

The evolution of the air, infantry, artillery, and armoured teams necessitated increased radio communication needs for all members. Portable radio sets were distributed all the way down to the platoon level in the military. There was at least one radio in every tank, and some command tanks had as many as three.

Wire communications were provided by multiconductor cables, which could be reeled out quickly and carried up to four conversations at the same time using carrier telephony. The Germans were the first to employ this form of military long-range cable, and both British and American forces quickly followed suit.

At the division and regimental level, high-powered mobile radio sets were commonplace. Telegraph communication may be carried out with these sets at distances of more than 100 miles (160 kilometres) with automobiles in typical traffic on the road. Significantly larger telephone switchboards were required. The greatest communication development of World War II was radio relay, which was created out of the need for mobility. Sets that used frequency modulation and carrier techniques, as well as radio relay sets that used radar pulse transmission and reception techniques and multiplex time-division methods to get several voice channels from a single radio carrier, were created and used.

The necessity for improved long-range overseas communication networks arose from the requirement for communication between homelands and several far-flung theatres of battle. A radioteletypewriter relaying system was designed, allowing a radioteletypewriter operator in Washington, London, or other capitals to transmit immediately to the commander in any theatre of battle via teleprinter. A system of torn-tape relay centres was also devised so that tributaries may send messages through the major centres and retransmit them swiftly by shifting a perforated tape message from the receiving to the sending positions.

During the final years of the war, new and improved communication and electrical equipment emerged in ever-increasing numbers from research and development. Short-range navigational devices, known as shoran, and a new long-range electronic navigation gadget, known as loran, were created for both navy vessels and aeroplanes.

The landing of aircraft in zero visibility was perfected using a combination of radar and communications. The GCA, or ground-controlled approach system, was one such system. For ground control of intercept aircraft, a system called GCI was created using a combination of radio direction-finding, radar, and communications devices (ground-controlled intercept). The radio-controlled guiding of falling bombs allowed a bomber operator to lead a bomb to its intended target. Electronic countermeasures such as jamming transmitters for radio channels, radar, navigation, and other military electronics first appeared in the form of jamming transmitters.

Conclusion

The armed services learned the value of scientific research and development in all sectors, including communications electronics, from their combat experiences. Advances in the communication capacity of wire and radio relay systems, as well as enhanced electronic navigation aids, were produced. The main powers’ armies, navies, and air forces continued to emphasise measures to offer more comprehensive and reliable communication and electronic technology.

As a result, after the mid-century, military activities in all aspects of signal transmission continued to ramp up almost as aggressively as they had during World War II. As a result, signal communication, which combines the capabilities of photography, television, radar, and other instruments that use the electromagnetic radiation spectrum, has moved into new areas of military electronics, such as battle area surveillance and electronic warfare devices to jam enemy transmitters.

In the United States, Surveillance of the fighting area by the army greatly supplemented traditional reconnaissance measures. Using optical, sonic, photographic, infrared, and radar equipment, an electronically controlled target acquisition system was being designed to detect enemy troops or cargo on the ground or in the air. The data collected by these sensors across a large enemy front can be electronically compiled and shown at headquarters, allowing the battle commander to quickly assess the situation and make tactical decisions.

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Defence

India US Military Exercise Amidst China’s Taiwan Conflict

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India US military exercise

Indian and American military forces will conduct the periodic ‘Yudh Abhyas’ or ‘War Practice’ from October 14 to 31, 2022 at Auli in Uttarakhand, which is 95 km away from the Line of Actual Control. The India US military exercise is undertaken to enhance the interoperability between the two armies, and the joint exercise will carry out maneuvers to exploit the full scope of high-altitude warfare.

The occurrence of 18th edition is happening at a very crucial moment as both countries have strife relations with China. The Indian side will showcase its high-altitude warfare strategies and US forces will complement them by exposing various technologies that can be used in challenging scenarios.

This edition will witness the participation of the Indian Air Force in the effective utilization of aerial and ground assets. Also, the India America Military Exercise develops the social relationship with country.

More About India America Yudh Abhyas in Uttarakhand

India US Military Exercise in Uttarakhand

Yudh Abhyas is the largest running joint India US military exercise and defence cooperation between the countries. The program was started in 2004 under the US Army Pacific Partnership Program.

It is hosted alternately between both countries. The 17th edition was held in Alaska in October 2021. The exercise aims at enhancing understanding, cooperation, and interoperability between the two armies.

Also, the moto of India America military exercise is successfully achieved in Auli Uttarakhand. Also, the impact of this social training is shown on different countries, and various controversies has been made.

Why India-China Standoff? Facts & Statements

India China Stand Off

In the last two years, there has been a constant rise in tensions between India and China, as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) made an effort to unilaterally change the status of LAC. Also, the good relationship of India with powerful countries, terrify the China government, and such social activities such as joint India US military exercise, helps to more strong relations.

The Indian army struck back and thwarted the Chinese attempts. The External Affairs Minister while describing New Delhi’s efforts had said, “We’ve been resolute when challenged in border areas. 2 years ago, in the middle of COVID, we had China move forces in violation of an agreement. But we stood our ground and have been working it out without making concessions. The world recognizes that a country is capable of defending its interests”.

As per the latest news reported on 13 September 2022, the armies of both countries have confirmed their return from PP-15 (Patrolling Point) in the Gogra-Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh, and Indian officials are hopeful for further negotiations on more crucial face-offs of Depsang Plains and Demchok.

US-China Tussle

Following the controversial Taiwan visit of the Speaker of the United States’ House of Representatives Ms. Nancy Pelosi, and the support extended by China to Russia in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the US-China relationship has also deteriorated further. The two economic superpowers are generally also involved in a cold war in the

China’s Reaction on India US Military Exercise

China's Reaction on India US Military Drills

Chinese officials strongly opposed the military exercise, referring to it as a violation of past agreements between New Delhi and Beijing, and following conversation has been made:

“We firmly oppose any third party to meddle in the China-India border issue in any form”, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, spokesperson for the Chinese defence ministry said. “In light of the relevant agreements signed by China and India in 1993 and 1996, neither side is allowed to conduct military exercise against the other in areas near the LAC”, Tan said.

He further added, “It is hoped that the Indian side will strictly abide by the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and the relevant agreements, uphold its commitment to resolving border issues through bilateral channels, and maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area with practical actions”.

New Delhi’s Reply to China’s Allegations

Delhi Gov

In response to China’s allegations, “I do not understand the reference to third party interference. The India US military exercise is something completely different and I do not know what color has been given that it is targeted there or it is violating any existing agreement”, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

“The two sides should stick to the agreements (signed) in the past and obviously that did not happen”, Bagchi said, referring to China violating the agreements which led to the face-off in eastern Ladakh.

After the coming together of like-minded countries for informal dialogue, namely Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), China’s apprehension has increased and it has levelled the grouping as an ‘Indo-Pacific NATO’.

“The Indo-Pacific strategy cooked up by the United States, in the name of ‘freedom and openness,’ is keen on forming cliques”, Foreign minister of China, Wang Yi had said. He further criticized the grouping as ‘it claims that it intends to change China’s surrounding environment, but its purpose is to contain China and make Asia-Pacific countries serve as pawns of US hegemony’.

All the members of Quad had cleared their agenda and said they are committed to cooperation with partners in the region who share the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. India being an essential part of the grouping has always put its best efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region.

India’s Prospective with All Countries

India has always called for peace and co-operation in the region, that’s why the concept for India US military exercise has been conducted. Being a member of SCO, the two Asian giants have resolved their misunderstandings.

New Delhi has always asked countries to respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and international agreements. In the coming years, one can hope for a free and open Indo-Pacific region which will be beneficial for all the countries situated in this region.

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Is China’s Global Security Initiative a future security hazard?

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In April this year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) laid out a new vision to re-establish the primacy of the Middle Kingdom (or zhong guo, 中国) by adapting the ancient concept of Tianxia (天下) which literally means “all under heaven”. In typical Beijing-style misdirection, this plan was disguised under the moniker ‘Global Security Initiative’. When he announced the Initiative, at the Boao Forum on April 21, Xi Jinping asserted that this effort was based on dialogue, partnerships and win-win situations – or is this initiative just another case of standard CCP hypocrisy lexicon?

 

But before we discuss the Chinese proposal for GSI, lets glimpse into the other major decisions of Chairman Xi and the underlying factors which have necessitated Beijing’s new gambit:

1. Xi’s win-win developmental myth aka Belt and Road Initiative – As the CCP prepares to mark its 101st anniversary, global opinion and trust in China is reaching record low levels. With each passing week countries which bought into the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), all face crippling loan repayments. Notably, China’s banks are never willing to re-negotiate payments, and almost always have a ‘debt-for-ownership’ deal on hand – take for example the situation of Sri Lanka and Pakistan! So, even the CCP’s friends are getting wary of making any new deals… which is casting a deep shadow over Xi’s legacy. 

2. Zero-Covid Mismanagement – The loss of faith in Beijing has been exacerbated by Xi’s refusal to recalibrate response to COVID in multiple Chinese cities. Extended lockdowns and mass quarantines have impacted global supply chains, with less developed countries facing the brunt of the economic hardship. Moreover, the complete failure of the much-touted Chinese model in containing COVID for over two months, even as the rest of the world regains a modicum of normalcy, has raised several questions about governance with CCP characteristics. Such doubts among political circles, where the CCP sought to expand influence, is deeply troubling for Xi and his party men.

3. China’s assistance to Russia’s Ukraine war – China has not been able to establish itself as a neutral player in the ongoing Russo-Ukraine conflict. Perceived by the West as supporting Russia, Beijing has faced strong headwinds across capitals in Europe. Moreover, coordinated Russia-China provocative military manoeuvres during the Quad Summit in Japan have reinforced the Western belief that Beijing and Moscow are cooperating militarily in the ongoing conflict. As a result, widespread resistance is being faced by Chinese commercial and political entities across Europe and America.

 

4. Rise of QUAD and Failure of Chinese Diplomacy – The deepening of the relationships among the Quad nations, as well as the declaration of multiple Quad projects and initiatives has impacted the CCP’s self-belief. Beijing was so confident of its ‘sea foam’ narrative of the Quad, that it seemingly ignored the positive effect its own provocations were having in binding together like-minded countries of the region. The Quad, today, is an accepted, welcomed and respected arrangement, which has both the capacity and capability to ensure the requisite degree of security across the Indo-Pacific, needed for inclusive growth and shared prosperity. The rise of a credible alternative, in an area which Beijing had assumed was its own backyard, has significantly undermined the CCP’s claims to absolute pre-eminence in the region.

Xi Jinping’s Global Security Initiative – overlook

Aimed at building an Asian Security Framework (with Chinese characteristics), the GSI is being touted as an alternative to confrontational alliances which seek zero-sum outcomes. The “six commitments” promised under this initiative as issued by Chinese Ambassador to Somalia, Ambassador Fei Shengchao, are staying committed to – 

  1. the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security
  2. respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries
  3. abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter
  4. taking seriously the legitimate security concerns of all countries
  5. peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation
  6. maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains 

Packaged as a utopian, inclusive construct which promises to better serve Asian interests (than Quad/ AUKUS) the GSI makes a wonderful read… as a work of fiction.  Some issues included in the GSI which jump out at the reader, particularly considering China’s recent track record in these areas, are – trust deficit due to irresponsible actions of nations, cold-war mentality, (dis)respect for territorial & maritime integrity, rising extremism and lastly zero-respect for international law!

To put this hypocrisy in perspective, consider the following 

  • China’s all-weather friendship with Pakistan, including political support for proscribed terrorists, is the best example of a confrontational alliance anywhere in the world! Even today, extensive Chinese support to Pakistan’s deep state is resulting in extremist attacks across India, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

 

  • China’s undeclared launch of a missile by a submarine (which almost hit a passenger plane), dangerous manoeuvres and tactics by Chinese jets over international airspace which could have collided with an Australian warplane, and clear records of essential commodity hoarding (wheat, oils, etc) by Chinese businessmen (while countries across the world grapple with supply shortages) – these are some of the recent examples of how China is among the biggest contributors to the global trust deficit. 

 

  • China’s blatant violation of international laws, manipulating markets and supply chains, disrupting legal economic activities outside its jurisdiction, etc – Beijing has forced a gathering of like-minded countries, which share concerns and agree on the manner these illegal actions must be countered. Moreover, the calls of war from Chinese ‘hawks’ have become far more explicit, frequent and extreme, espcially since Xi Jinping has taken over the command of CCP. 

 

  • China’s claims of respecting territorial integrity are possibly the most ludicrous of them all. From South China Sea to Tibet, and Taiwan, Beijing’s insatiable greed for territorial acquisition and disregard for opposing perspectives is well established. It is, therefore, laughable to see this point being championed by Xi, in his idea of GSI.

 

  • China was the first country to engage with the Taliban post the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and it continues to shelter Pakistan’s booming terror industry. Significant proof has also come to light about Chinese support to extremists in Myanmar, Maldives and Northeast India. It would consequently be appropriate to say that China’s concern of rising extremism is another hypocritical feint by the CCP.

Will the world accept China’s Global Security Model? 

Despite the obvious hypocrisy in the GSI proposal, Beijing does have a fair chance of success in areas where the US’ influence is resented. Some countries in South America, in particular, will welcome it as a medium to hedge their bets, thereby extracting more from the West. Closer to China, however, nations would do well to be more circumspect. 

Alternatively, the GSI could be a way to distract the Chinese people from the widespread failures of the CCP in recent years, as well as China’s declining influence in multiple regions. A big, grandstanding announcement, notwithstanding limited capabilities to ensure success, would provide enough short-term political gains for Xi and his men to retain a favourable narrative during the CCP’s 101st birthday party. This may well be the true motive behind the GSI. 

Any security framework with CCP characteristics would ultimately have a hierarchical architecture, with Xi enthroned at its summit. The GSI’s concept of an Asian Security Framework would yield an Asian order where Beijing commands the loyalty of all regional countries, and peace prevails at the pleasure of the CCP’s top leadership. With Chairman Xi all but certain to stake a claim to the ‘CCP Chairman for Life’ position during the upcoming Congress, he would ultimately become the ‘de facto’ emperor of the new Tianxia… the true goal of the CCP, particularly since Xi’s ascension in 2013-14.

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Ladakh Gets New and Gleaming Gadgets: Military Development in the Pangong

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The Indian Army deployed a new assault vessel in Pangong Lake along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China as the country of India celebrated its 76th Independence Day. Operations along the LAC will improve with the Landing Craft Assault (LCA). To help the nation’s defence, even more, Rajnath Singh, the defence minister, delivered a variety of indigenous weapons and ammunition on Tuesday. This shipment of armaments includes the “Nipun” anti-personnel landmine, as well as infantry combat vehicles, landing attack craft, and many more weapon systems. The force will receive about 7 lakh of these mines, which were produced by the Indian private sector.

 

The Landing Craft Attack for operations in Pangong Lake, infantry combat vehicles, and numerous other systems was among the locally produced weaponry that was provided to the Army in part. Online images also showed Army servicemen demonstrating to the Union Minister the capabilities of a Landing Craft Assault positioned at Pangong Tso near the Line of Actual Control. The boats are capable of transporting 35 combat personnel at once and can quickly go to any lakeside location. Economic Explosives Ltd. (EEL), a private company with its headquarters in Nagpur, as well as other Indian defence manufacturing firms, developed the new weaponry.

 

An indigenously made drone system was given to the Indian Army so that its soldiers could keep a watch on enemy forces in the LAC’s forward areas. Singh also gave the troops stationed in these locations the infantry combat vehicles made in India. The launch, speed, and capacity restrictions have been overcome by the Landing Craft Assault, which is far more adaptable. In Eastern Ladakh, the LCA has improved its capacity to operate across water impediments. According to Goa’s Aquarius Ship Yard Limited, LCA was created locally.

 

The action follows the Make in India campaign, which was started by the Center to increase domestic manufacturing of goods.

 

Earlier, on August 15, during the nation’s Independence Day festivities, the indigenously developed artillery gun known as the ATAGS (Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System) prototype was fired from the Red Fort for the first time in India’s history.

 

Along with the “25 Pounder British guns” that are currently discharged ceremonially, the entire indigenous gun created and produced by the DRDO will do so. This has been made possible by a group at the DRDO’s Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune, led by scientists and artillery officers. “The major feature is that Bharat Forge is the first to claim that it is Made in India. The 21-gun salute on July 4th is being performed with a native artillery gun. DRDO constructed the ATAGS, which is currently located at the Red Fort. This will greatly aid the Indian Army ” he added.

 

In order to replace outdated guns currently in use by the Indian Army with a cutting-edge 155mm artillery cannon, DRDO launched the ATAGS project in 2013. For the production of this specialised gun, ARDE collaborated with two private companies, Bharat Forge Limited and Tata Advanced Systems Limited. China’s concerns are expected to grow in the coming weeks and months. The 15th iteration of the joint military exercise Yudh Abhyas between India and the U.S. will take place at Auli in Uttarakhand, less than 100 kilometres from the LAC. This is located in the LAC’s quiet centre region.

 

Significantly, the high-altitude mountain warfare-themed military drill will take place from October 14 to October 31. In addition, India will be commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Sino-Indian border war at the same time as the joint exercise. The Aksai Chin War in Ladakh, which saw the Chinese control a sizable portion of the region, lasted from October 20 to November 21, 1962.

 

We can anticipate more vehement Chinese rhetoric and actions along the LAC.

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Defense Cess – The Need or The Want of Need

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With the Finance Ministry coming down heavily on the Fifteenth Financial Commission on the latter’s suggestion for creating a ‘Defense Modernization Fund’, the question pesters the general public at large as to whether a separate defense cess is really required. Seemingly, the capital needs of the Indian military do not seem to be a problematic scheme. It rather appears to envisage a separately structured funding program in furtherance of enabling the Indian military to work in a more well-ordered manner.

WHY THE FUSS?

The root of every operative that there is, is guided by the procedure laid under the Indian Constitution. Hence, a casual read of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution elucidates the responsibilities between the Union and the States.  Subjects such as defense, and foreign affairs are on the Union list while responsibilities like public order, healthcare, etc. fall under the purview of the State List. The third list, i.e., the Concurrent List is a unique, centralizing feature adopted from the British Raj, that embodies the fundamentals of federalism. The list has both State and Union play a role with powers tilting towards the latter. It was due to this provision only that the government brought in the farm laws.  However, while a large section of funds and resources rests with the Union in New Delhi, expenditure of those funds is at the behest of different States, the taxes of which is collected by New Delhi. Hence, the Financial Commission of today now distributes the revenue collected by the Centre to various States and therefore, supervises the financial commitments of the States and the Union.

Now, the problem with the creation of a special fund – in this case for ‘defense’- creates a special third category along with Union and State. Theoretically, the Finance Commission therefore will inadvertently split monies between Union, State, and the Defense Fund. It is interesting to note that the defense is a subject already under the Union List and therefore, the creation of a third category would only cause stress for States to give up funds for defense. Now much like the game of dominoes, if one separate fund is created, many other demands for the creation of special pockets for every governance function would surface, which would unnecessarily create disruption of the flow of funds to the subjects in either of the lists and therefore would go far beyond the provisions prescribed under the Seventh Schedule in the Constitution. Hence the downpour of the Financial Ministry on the 15th Financial Commission for the reasons that setting up a separate fund for a function that is already covered under the Union’s List is against good parliamentary practice is perfectly valid.

TECHNICAL OVERSTEPPING

While the Finance Ministry may have rebuffed the request to create a different fund for Defense, it is however significant to understand how such a report was allowed to be tabled before the ministry in the first place. NK Singh, the chairman of the 15th Finance Commission, when posed with similar questions, contended that as per the legal opinion he received, the defense was a “shared responsibility of the Union and the states”. Defense is explicitly mentioned as the subject under Union List and the closest thing that resembles an iota of Defense is ‘Public Order’ which falls under the State List. In no way whatsoever, can anyone with the caliber and prudence as that of NK Singh can conclude that Defense is a shared subject. Furthermore, he also remarked that Finance Commission transcends the classification in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, which is simply an inexplicable argument. Finance Commission is in no way empowered to transcend any part of the Indian Constitution, especially something as critical as the Seventh Schedule.

Another interesting aspect here is the branding of the ‘defense’ fund as cess. Tax and Cess are two different contributions to State welfare. While Tax is already existing in the form of GST and Income Tax, a cess is imposed as an additional tax besides the existing tax (Tax on Tax). Now while the former is kept in the Consolidated Fund of India CFI for the government to use it for any purposes it deems fit, the latter, though also kept in the CFI, can be used by the government after due appropriation from Parliament for ‘specified purpose’. Now, what rebranding of ‘general tax’ as ‘cess’ does is that it brings any revenue generated through cess under the ambit of ‘specified purpose’ resulting in states sharing any of that revenue. Statistically, cesses and surcharges that were around 10% in 2010-11 are almost doubled in the year 2021 figuring around 19.9%. This increase in cesses and surcharges is shrinking the divisive pool between State and Union, leaving States bleeding out to dry. Therefore, to have a defense cess under the ‘specified purpose’ funds would only hurt the States of the Country as the gap between State and Union’s resources would further increase.

THE NEED OR THE WANT OF NEED?

The Union in 2019, empowered the Finance Commission with additional Terms of Reference to enable it to make a suggestion on how to create the fund. Defense Ministry further stressed on the need to increase focus on national security and warranted states to share the financial burden of maintaining and upgrading the security apparatus, including buying weapons from global suppliers, etc. Defense Ministry urged that subjects like Terrorism, insurgency, and securing national borders should be recognized as a shared responsibility for the Union and States, rather than leaving it just for the Union to take care of. The demand though extremely urgent goes beyond the nexus of the Constitution. Furthermore, the 10th Finance Commission also laid down the principle that cess and surcharge should be temporary and rare.

Union has always been seen complaining about limited resources and funds and yet does not shy away from spending money on subjects concerning the State List. Cribbing about not having enough money to fund its core function of defense and catering to the electoral compulsions by spending money on state subjects – Union has only made things difficult for itself and confusing for the public at large. A demand from the Home Ministry for a seed corpus of Rs. 50,000 crores to be carved out of dues from States for Central Armed Forces deployment is simply a result of the Union being derelict in its responsibilities. The constitutional remit of defense is often sidelined during elections and therefore, it is natural for the union to have a dry state of funds to cater to its core duty. It is therefore the job of the Finance Commission to stop the political drivers in their path and prevent populist rhetoric from influencing devolution. Instead, the Commission seems to be a puppet of the Union, to say the least.

 

 

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101 Years of CCP – Is the Chinese Dream Fading Away?

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“The Chinese charm you when they want to charm you and squeeze you when they want to squeeze you; and they do it quite systematically.”

– ‘The Revenge of Geography’, Robert D Kaplan

 

 

​It has been a century of glory, a century of turmoil, a century of single-party leadership, a century of suppression of dissent and human rights, and a century of disdainful pursuit of Mao’s Chinese dream. On one hand there has been the pressure to create a magnanimous image in front of the suppressed Chinese populace, and on the other lies the consequences of lofty ambitions of expansionism, colonisation of nearby islands, economic take-over of poorer nations in Asia and Africa, and military arm-twisting in the region. There are thousands of stagnated overseas projects, incomplete military R&D accompanied by struggling military equipment sold to other countries, and the notoriety brought in by spreadingCOVID-19 and bringing the world to a standstill for almost two years. Is Xi Jinping caught between the devil and the deep sea?

 

​Having enjoyed an absolute monopoly of power, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has authoritatively ruled China for a hundred years now. Motivated by the Bolsheviks, and sold to the innocent people as a party for peasants, workers and students in 1921, the past 100 years of CCP have been stained with brutal massacre of student protestors at Tiananmen Square in 1989, unceasing Human Rights violation and harsh repression of Uyghurs and other Muslims in the Xinjiang region, and the sudden disappearances of media activists who have voiced their opinions against the party or its members. It has been reported that the detainees in the re-education camps of Xinjiang province are forced to pledge loyalty to the CCP, forego religious (Islamic) practices and patronise Mandarin.

 

​The CCP in pursuit of Xi’s Chinese dream of becoming a global leader in 2049 has initiated manyambitious but crafty projects like the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and has pumped many irrecoverable loans into smaller Asian and African countries. In addition, millions of dollars’ worth money has been invested in building military infrastructure and progress territorial/ seaward expansion to assert China’s illegal claims on bothland and sea. However, of late, the world has woken up to the Chinese deceit.

 

​The genesis and spread of COVID-19 from China has fuelled anger, suspicion and reluctance for the world to engage with China. The post-COVID world order, with horrific examples of economic and financial meltdown of client states like Pakistan and Sri Lanka, has further marred China’s reputation. China is being called out more and more for its illegal military aggression in the South China Sea, debt-trap diplomacy, IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) Fishing, unauthorised spying usingcivilian research vessels, and ultimately the COVID-19 pandemic. Even its traditional clients in Asia and Africa are getting wary. The world at large neither finds China as an honest investor to expand trade and commerce nor do the bigger multi-national brands prefer to invest in China for their manufacturing/ production hubs and businesses.

 

​The years ahead look even more bleak. The humungous amount of money lent by China in most developing countries either as part of BRI or Debt-trap diplomacy are unlikely to credit their balance sheets in the years to come. While this certainly affects the Chinese banks, but it also hampers contribution of that money into their own GDP/ national economic efforts including businesses and domestic investments. As Xi Jinping is headed for an unprecedented third term in power, the country is likely to dive into rougher waters. China’s failed ‘Zero-COVID’ policy and re-emergence of widespread infection has brought the nation and the Chinese economy to a standstill. Failure of Beijing Olympics has reinforced the already shaking global confidence in a tightly choreographed China. 

 

The so-called unity within the CCP is dwindling and is likely to intensify in the days to come. Crackdown on opposition and disappearance of lawyers and human rights activists is causing massive chaos in the Chinese hinterland. Thanks to brutal control over media, China has managed to mute news reports about hundreds of protests in provinces like Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang etc which may trigger the beginning of a major revolution against the present order. Only time can predict tomorrow’s China, but today’s China is a grim story of political turmoil, military mis-adventures, slow economic growth, shaky reputation and an authoritative government.

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