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Manvendra Singh Blog - DSA's Editor-in-Chief

DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (May 2019)

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Mankind’s curiosity with flight took centuries of effort before it became a reality, little more than a century ago. Since then the ability to fly, to control flight, and to send manmade objects into space has proceeded at a pace that is truly astonishing. It is astounding how rapidly human beings have overcome the barriers of flight, and demonstrated mastery over various modes of flying machines. In all of human evolution, no other field has been won over so rapidly and to the extent that it has. In terms of research and development as well, more energies are invested in all types of flight than possibly in any other field.

The human ability to fly covers all aspects, from the original piston engined multi-cylinder engines to the latest rockets that take astronauts to the space station. Humans have studied and built all types of flying machines, but there is one category that came to be invented even after rockets, and which even defies nature’s principles of flight. Which is of course the multiutility and versatile helicopter! A unique machine in every sense of the term and a great human invention; as the helicopter has served mankind far in excess of its recognition.

A slow, relatively, lumbering helicopter is the best friend that a soldier has. Ask anyone who has been isolated, in need of help, and the first whirring sounds of the rotating blades send the sinking adrenalin into a rush. Such is its versatility that it can land in any open space without needing even ground, and take off from the same rough patch. The helicopter works in steamy humid jungles, hot dry deserts and the chilled Siachen Glacier as well. In fact, one of India’s helicopters was recently recovered from Siachen after lying almost belly up from about a year! Tribute to army aviators who trekked to the location and got it started up again.

India has, in fact, taken helicopters where they’d never been before, or where not even thought capable of. Since Operation Meghdoot began in 1984 to dominate the Saltoro Range, and secure Siachen Glacier, the mainstay supplies and rescue had been the helicopter. Initially, it was the diminutive Cheetah, and now, the Indian made Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter. In that sense, India hasn’t done that bad in terms of developing an indigenous helicopter. But it can do a lot more, and with a wider scope of activities.

The helicopter has more civilian applications than simply military ones. Before the advent of drones, it was essential to crowd control in most countries of the world. In fact, it is still in use by police forces for various uses. As a search and rescue transport, there is nothing to beat the helicopter. And, then there is always the role as an air ambulance. For all of this to be developed in India, it must open up its helicopter making industry to the private sector too. They will be able to bring in some skills that are not always available with the state sector. For the applications are also not limited to government but across the spectrum.


DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (April 2019)

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In stark contrast to the practice prevailing worldwide, India has gone public with an air strike on Balakote in Khyber Pakhtunwa province of Pakistan. Almost all countries that are compelled to mount clandestine raids, ground or air, tend to keep them that way, quiet and silent. This is the second action claimed by India, the previous one being a trans-Line of Control raid in September 2016. Another raid in Myanmar was initially claimed and then quietly dropped. This is quite unlike the practice of other countries, including Israel behind whom a number of Indian national security players seem to mould them.



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In the backdrop of the gruesome 14 February 2019 suicide attack on the Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir, the subsequent air strikes and all that followed since then once again raises the question about India’s ability to deal with security crises. And that question comes loaded with the fundamental query about the nature of India’s preparations and planning. All of which then raises the essential issue of how India has thought through its defence apparatus, what its long term preparations are, and how it hopes to get there. These can only be answered by first understanding the process of defence finance.


DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (Febauary 2019)

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When India purchases off-the-shelf aircraft like Rafale, its domestic programmes like the Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas, suffer. It suffers both in terms of delays in development as well as inadequate funding. The cost escalation of LCA Tejas is often quoted as one of its shortcomings. While it is certainly true that the cost has escalated well beyond the initial estimates and sanctions. But such escalation is, firstly, not unique to the Tejas project, and it also has to be seen in the correct context of its figures. There are various reasons, known and unknown.


DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (January 2019)

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India’s largest armed force, and the one that conjures up the maximum brownie points, is making news about its structural studies, as well as solutions being thrown up for the related problems. Indian Army has seen a number of assessments through various committees that have analysed its structures and cadres while recommending remedial steps. Over the years, many reports have been made available that seek to redress the internal manpower management shortcomings. Each report seeks to address the issue from a new perspective, offer new solutions, whether it is in terms of a cadre review, or, a structural assessment.

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