‘Aatmanirbhar and indigenous’ in Defence : Camouflage for Adani’s deep penetration?  

Adani Aerospace Defence

The Defence sector is increasingly a happy hunting ground for  private sector, including foreign capital. Adani too made a big entry with ‘flying’colors.

This article in two parts focuses on India’s Defence Budget. Part-1 (‘Defence Budget, a burden on the people, must be pruned’)  published on 23rd  Feb 2023  brought out its huge size – around Rs. 7.6 lakh crore, NOT Rs. 5.94 lakh crore, as shown officially and its character of serving vested interests, both of which are concealed by the government as well as the media.

It is the duty and the right of parliament to discuss this, but there was never any serious discussion on the huge defence budget. The government’s  has its own alibis for such a huge allocation, China threat being its main, lame, and chauvinistic argument. Instead of exposing this, the Opposition vies with the ruling party in chauvinism.

The concealed reality that needs to be brought out is : it is all part of a shift to a defence-oriented economy, which is a key theme of this Part-2 of the article. It then focuses on how Defence is being outsourced to private sector, Indian and foreign, Adani being a major beneficiary.

The first part of  the Budget session of parliament was adjourned on Feb 14 for a recess, to recommence on March 13, supposedly for a detailed discussion. The second session began with diversionary tactics by the government and walkouts etc by the Opposition, avoiding discussion on the Budget itself, its chief task.

The first week of the Budget session was thus washed out, with little discussion on the Budget itself. Instead of the budget, ‘anti-national Rahul Gandhi’ was turned into the main issue. And the Adani scam, some called it Modani scam, hogged headlines: US-based Hindenburg Research raised questions about Adani’s funding source. It prompted the Supreme Court to set up a panel and ask market regulator Sebi to probe the issue.

Amit Shah in the week-end, on March 17,  opened his mouth on this, outside the House, and said the Opposition can go there; there is no need for shouting in the streets. Nor a JPC probe is needed.

But neither side is interested in bringing out some crucial issues: In parliament, there is more sound than light, which is shed by news items on the defence sector.

The Defence Ministry in a statement on March 16 spoke of a huge Capital Acquisition:

“Including today’s proposals, the total AoN ( Acceptance of Necessity) granted for Capital Acquisition in the Financial Year 2022-23 is over Rs 2.71 lakh crore, out of which 99% of the procurement will be sourced from Indian industries. Such quantum of indigenous procurement will galvanise the Indian industries towards achieving the goal of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.

Minister of state for Defence Ajay Bhatt, replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, earlier said:

“The Indian government has set a target of achieving defence manufacturing worth Rs 1,75,000 crore, including defence exports of Rs 35,000 crore by 2024-25. He said the value of production undertaken by private companies and state-run defence manufacturers in 2021-22 was Rs 86,078 crore while the amount was Rs 88,631 crore in 2020-21 and Rs 63,722 crore in 2019-20.”

“Further, the DRDO has undertaken 50 mission mode and technology development projects worth Rs 23,722 crore in the last three years for development of indigenous weapons and technologies,” he said. (PTI March 13, 2023).

The above report shows that the most dynamic manufacturing activity, as also R&D,  in India appears to be in the Defence sector.

It is notable that with with FDI beyond 50% allowed in defence, the private sector is given a lion’s share, aided by the public sector that is being made a handmaid subservient to the former.

The Minister Bhatt said the modernisation of armed forces to meet future challenges is a continuous process based on the long-term integrated planning process.

According to a report released by the Sweden-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on March 13, India has “once again emerged as the largest importer of weapons” and it accounts for almost 11 per cent of all such international imports of different military equipment. The report has compared the trend based on five year blocks – 2013-2017 and 2018-2022 and has indicated that  “ India was the world’s largest importer of major arms in 2018-22.” (financialexpress.com, March 13, 2023).

The minister also said the value of defence exports in 2021-22 was Rs 12,815 crore while it was Rs 13,398 crore till March 6 in the current fiscal. The value of production was Rs 50,499 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 54,951 crore in 2017-18.

An agrarian India last year imported edible oils, raw or processed, worth around Rs. 1.5 lakh crore, and pulses worth Rs. 16,500 cr, indicating the neglect of the farm sector and revealing the inverted priorities. 

“The annual acquisition plan is formulated annually based on inputs from the services and is based on identified threats and inter-service prioritization and emerging technologies,” Bhatt said.

Manufacture, exports, imports- of defence items- are very much in the news.  Given that most of it involves hitech, the Defence manufacturing sector  has little employment potential either.

***                             ***

Defence is no holy cow, it is a huge business with profits and commissions 

 This shift to a defence-oriented economy, with a jobless growth, a big drain,  is deleterious to the interests of the country, its economy, the  people and peace too. 

It was of course  started during Manmohan Singh era of Congress, but quickened by Modi regime. Thus the Congress has little ‘opposition role’ to play, also with its soft-Hindutva line. When AAP Minister Manish Sisodia was arrested recently, the Delhi Congress leader Ajai Maken, hunting with the hound, said Arvind Kejriwal also should be arrested (PTI, Feb 28)!

Defence sector, it needs to be stressed, is no holy cow as it is projected to be. The holy cow has become a man-eater. It serves those merchants of death and destruction who regard the people as voting cattle and cannon fodder. 

For big capital, native and foreign, it is a lucrative businesslike any other with its own share of corruption, middlemen, cronyism, scams ranging from  guns to coffins to Rafael aircraft, involving billions of dollars.

Many of these defence sector scandals include allegations related to bribery, and the alleged involvement of middlemen. These alleged middlemen are also termed as lobbyists, arms agents or arms dealers. Many former military officials are engaged in the job, some not so openly. No file can move without connivance of the Defence officials, though politicians are in the focus.

General V.K Singh, a former Indian Chief of the Army Staff, now a Cabinet Minister, once stated that the reach of lobbyists within the Defence Ministry extends to the level where agents have access to classified intelligence and know the inner workings of the ministry.

Now with enhanced role for private sector it will be worse. The security claims to oppose China are mere alibis when the whole sector is thus open to private business groups, native and foreign, and when all data and information are commodities.

According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the three largest and most powerful arms dealers are Vipin KhannaSudhir Choudhrie and Suresh Nanda– all accused in several defence scandals, and their commissions from arms deals could be up to as high as 15%.

Pakistan, apart from China, has been a factor for these Indian hawks to stir up. A Pakistan that was dismembered five decades ago (emergence of Bangladesh) with India’s support was never a threat to India. Modi’s Neighborhood First policy remained on paper, and SAARC was kept in cold storage. Global arms lobbies however always promoted conflicts and arms race in the subcontinent. Siachin for long wasted resources on both sides, which still continues. A political solution to the Kashmir problem is never allowed to fructify. The all round crisis in Pakistan, now in its peak, is enough to conclude that Pakistan is no more a threat. There is little to gloat over. India’s plight in 1990s was similar, IMF conditionalities still haunt.

Pakistan is always hyphenated with China by India: And the Establishment and its media sound jingoistic war drums all the time against both. They are shown as alibis – mere alibis- for huge defence budget.

With a Current stockpile 160 nuclear warheads (2022 estimate),with a range of up to 8000 km,  India has its own share of  weapons of mass destruction. But that could not prevent Kargil.

There is a relentless push for defence-oriented economy: 

India’s  Ministry of Defence issued a statement on March 16, 2023:

“ A meeting of Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), held on March 16, 2023 under the chairmanship of Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, has accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for capital acquisition amounting to over Rs 70,500 crore under Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)}. Out of the total proposals, Indian Navy proposals constitute more than Rs 56,000 crore, which largely includes indigenous BrahMos missiles, Shakti Electronic Warfare (EW) systems, Utility Helicopters-Maritime etc…

“Including today’s proposals, the total AoN granted for Capital Acquisition in the Financial Year 2022-23 is over Rs 2.71 lakh crore, out of which 99% of the procurement will be sourced from Indian industries. Such quantum of indigenous procurement will galvanise the Indian industries towards achieving the goal of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.

https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1907642

“The go-ahead to the fresh procurement proposals came amid the nearly three-year-long standoff along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh with China, ” said Economic Times reporting the above statement.

Out of the total proposals, however, Indian Navy proposals constitute more than Rs 56,000 crore, which largely includes indigenous BrahMos missiles, Shakti Electronic Warfare systems and Utility Helicopters-Maritime.

“While this additional procurement of BrahMos missile system will enhance the maritime strike capabilities & Anti-Surface Warfare Operation, the addition of Utility Helicopters will multiply the operational readiness of the Indian Navy in the domain of Search & Rescue operations, Casualty Evacuation, Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR. Similarly, Shakti EW systems will equip and modernise the frontline Naval ships to counter any Naval Operations by the adversaries,” the Ministry’s statement further said.

It is far fetched as there is no such naval threat. Real reasons are elsewhere as we shall see.

The DAC also approved Indian Air Force’s proposal for long range stand-off weapon, which will be indigenously designed, developed and integrated on SU-30 MKI aircraft. (Economic Times, Mar 16, 2023).

All this is not meant merely for ‘defence’ of India. It is more a business opportunity for billionaires, for merchants of death, Indian and foreign:

The defence allocations, we had earlier pointed out, are more part of theRunway to Billion Opportunities” as highlighted in the Aero India 2023 the PM  Modi inaugurated last February. The country which was the biggest defence importer for decades now exports defence equipment to 75 countries, the PM said: “India has rejuvenated its defence sector in the last 8-9 years. We just consider this to be just the beginning. We aim to take defence exports to $5 billion by 2024-25.” 

We shall see later in this article how Modi was acting as the salesman promoting Adani in defence sector.

It is new phase where ‘defence’ is made into an engine of growth, with an increasingly  big share to the private sector.  Soviet Union as a super power had it, but it was one factor for Soviet collapse. America has been at it no doubt, the military-industry complex thrived at the cost of people within USA and across the globe.

Defence Budget in fact is not exclusively for that purpose. It has other goals: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has termed the Union Budget of 2023-24 growth-oriented. He has said this will help in making India a $5 trillion economy within a few years.

One can also see the Defence expenditure is one that is not hit by the pandemic. An earlier report showed how it helped the private sector last year:

About 50 Indian companies in the private sector have contributed to defence exports to 75 countries, including some in Europe. Thus ‘Defence’ is now business too, the gullible patriots need to be told:  

“The Indian Defence sector, the second largest armed force, is at the cusp of revolution. Defence exports grew by 334 per cent in the last five years; India now exporting to over 75 countries due to collaborative efforts,” Press Information Bureau (PIB) mentioned in a tweet.

Given the increasing role for private sector in Defence sector,  with FDI beyond 50% allowed too, and the government pushing for them, one can see it is a happy hunting ground for Big Business. Gullible patriots need to be told of this harmful shift over the years, faster under Modi.

The beneficiaries included many in the private sector: Ashok Leyland Defence Systems, Larsen & Toubro , Reliance Naval Shipyard in partnership with MDL, Mahindra Aerospace, Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd, BrahMos Aerospace, Aditya Birla Aerospace& defence Pvt Ltd.

But now Adanis who entered Defence sector late in 2017, backed by Modi, are rising fast and going for a kill. They are entering sensitive areas, for the first time, hitherto not open to Indian private sector as we shall see below. 

***                      ***

‘Aatmanirbhar and indigenous’ : Camouflage for Adani’s deep penetration

“We at Adani Defence & Aerospace are committed to help India achieve self-reliance in defence & security, ” adanidefence.com claims . The link between  Aatmanirbhar and Adani can be seen here.

Its Mission Statement reads:  “Adani Defence & Aerospace is keen to play an instrumental role in helping transform India into a destination for world class high-tech defence manufacturing, aligned to Make in India initiative”

A range of initiatives to deregulate the private space sector were introduced by Narendra Modi‘s cabinet in June 2020, and the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (INSPACe) was established for incubating technology into private firms, known as Non-Government Private Entities (NGPEs) by DOS. NGPEs were included as a crucial part of ISRO’s Space Communication Policy draft issued in October 2020.

The private sector, Adani in particular, now has entry into the space and nuclear sectors, Brahmos missiles, submarines, defence R&D etc. The public sector is made into their handmaid.

Defence Ministry speaks of ‘Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant) Bharat’… Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)} etc..But what lies behind such claims is the entry of  private sector, including foreign capital, in the Defence sector, a runway to Billion Opportunities. The so-called “Indigenous BrahMos missiles” are also part of that.

Adani is now a big name, fast rising in Defence sector, in manufacture too, and is behind the big official push to the sector. Adanidefence.com introduces itself thus:

“We at Adani Defence & Aerospace are committed to help India achieve self-reliance in defence & security. In a short span, we have established capabilities in India across a wide domain such as small arms, unmanned aerial systems, radars, defence electronics & avionics, tactical communication systems, and electro-optical systems with a proven record to support the Indian Armed Forces and other para-military forces in India.”

According to PLR Systems, also a joint venture with Adani Group and the SK Group, the factory produces the Tavor Assault Rifle, X95 Assault Rifle, Galil Sniper Rifle, Negev Light Machine Gun and the Uzi Sub Machine Gun used by the Indian military, including Indian Special Forces. This in turn has a link with Israel.

It claims many firsts:

“ Adani Defence has established India’s first unmanned aerial vehicles manufacturing facility, India’s first private sector small arms manufacturing facility and is currently in process of setting up India’s first comprehensive aircraft MRO facility in Nagpur. With the emerging threat of rogue drones, we have taken an initiative of implementing counter drone systems for both defence & civil applications.

Through its comprehensive ecosystem of Tier I & Tier II capabilities across the defence supply chain, Adani is well-positioned to facilitate integration of larger platforms.ad less

https://www.adanidefence.com/about-us

But meanwhile Adani are allowed deep into the defence sector. And PM Modi promoted it all.

***                           ***

“Aero India 2023: DRDO, Adani partner to manufacture D4 C-UAS”

Israel India Arms Industry

Israeli and Indian arms industry cooperation has continuously deepened over the past 30 years (Illustration/MEE,  middleeasteye.net)

That is the title of a report (20 FEBRUARY 2023) in the janes.com, the leading  defence-news portal. Dubious shell companies (Mauritius is notorious ) are allowed to penetrate defence sector.

D4 C-UAS: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has partnered with Adani Defence and Aerospace to manufacture its Drone Detect, Deter, and Destroy (D4) counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS), a company official told Janes at the Aero India 2023 show, which was held in Bangalore from 13 to 17 February.

That show was inaugurated by PM Modi amid great fanfare. The Adani connection was not much brought into the limelight then.

The technology transfer has been completed, and Adani has started manufacturing the D4 C-UAS, the official said. The D4 C-UAS has been demonstrated to various services and security agencies under the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the official added. Janes understands that the DRDO and Adani have secured contracts from these agencies/services.

A spokesperson for Adani Group said in a statement, “In 2017, Adani Defence was looking for companies which can provide both defence electronics as well as aero-structures capabilities in India. Alpha Design Technologies had capabilities across both electronics as well as aerostructures.”

The Adani Group’s statement added, “Adani Defence invested in ADTL in 2018… Adani Defence had taken a 26 per cent stake and had invested primary funds to grow the company to the next level. Elara India Opportunities Fund has a minority stake of 0.53 per cent. The largest promoter is Vasaka Promoters & Developers.”

Adani investor Elara is co-owner in Bengaluru defence firm, it is reported :

The defence company incorporated in 2003 works closely with DRDO and ISRO, and holds a Rs 590 crore contract with the Union Ministry of Defence as of 2020

“ ELARA India Opportunities Fund (Elara IOF), an Elara Capital-managed venture capital fund, is one of the top four entities registered in Mauritius holding shares predominantly in Adani Group companies. Despite reducing its share over the last three years, its holdings in the three Adani companies add up to over Rs 9,000 crore or over 96 per cent of its total corpus in December 2022.”

However, Elara- a key Adani investor– is also a co-owner in the Bengaluru-based defence company Alpha Design Technologies Private Limited (ADTPL), records investigated by The Indian Express have shown.

Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Ltd is a 26 per cent stakeholder with management control in the company, but financial statements and records from the Registrar of Companies show Adani and Elara – through a pyramid structure – together own a majority of 51.65 per cent in the company…

In December 2018, Adani Defence put in Rs 400 crore to acquire a 26 per cent stake in ADTPL. This put the company valuation at Rs 1,538 crore. Adani and Elara, thus ended up with 51.65 per cent together, amounting to a majority stake in the defence company. 

As per the Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) annual report, ADTPL is involved in making satellite and ground equipment, electronic war and military communications equipment, and aerospace assembly. The company has also operationalised a simulator for the IAF’s MiG-29 craft in Adamput under the 20-year Build Operate Maintain deal.

The most recent contract ADTPL won came early this year for LWRRs (lightweight radio relays) for Indian troops. ADTPL happens to be the first Indian offset partner for Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to produce Air Defence Fire Control Radars. Sixty-six of these have been delivered to the army already.

For more on this:

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/aero-india-2023-drdo-adani-partner-to-manufacture-d4-c-uas)

https://www.deccanherald.com/business/business-news/adani-investor-elara-co-owner-in-bengaluru-defence-firm-1200693.html

***                    ***

Adani’s Israel connection via Elbit Systems

Benjamin Netanyahu Modi

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an official welcoming ceremony upon his arrival in Israel at Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel July 4, 2017 [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

And, in 2017, a $40m India-Israel Industrial R&D and Innovation Fund (i4F) was established. Eleven ongoing projects have been funded under i4F. “In 2017, Adani Defence was looking for companies which can provide both defence electronics as well as aero-structures capabilities in India.”

What is paraded as indigenous, part of Aatmanirbhar India, is very much linked to international capital, Israel in particular, which in turn is connected with USA. 

adanidefence.com reported its own Israel connection and its significance:

“ Adani Elbit Advanced Systems India Limited, a joint venture between Adani Defence & Aerospace and Elbit Systems, Israel had set up the first private UAV manufacturing complex at Adani Aerospace Park in Hyderabad to indigenize unmanned aerial platforms. The only Hermes 900 production facility outside Israel which inaugurated in December 2018, has started exporting Hermes900 Unmanned Aerial Platform to international customers. Hermes 900 is a state of the art, combat proven multi-role unmanned platform with an endurance of 36 hours, payload capacity of 420 kg, altitude of over 32,000 feet (10km+) with applications across civil, defence and homeland security.

Adani Defence & Aerospace and Elbit have agreed to setup a “Design and Development center” focusing on co-developing defence technologies aligned to the global requirements.

On the sidelines of DefExpo 2020, Adani-Elbit JV launched one of the largest export programs for the production of hundreds of Mini UAV systems for a global customer, with complete platform production and integration from Hyderabad, India.

Adani-Elbit JV is well positioned to deliver the full spectrum of unmanned platforms to Indian Tri Services & allied forces, aligned to “Make in India” requirements and international standards.

Elad Aharonson, Executive Vice President and General Manager – ISTAR Division of Elbit Systems commented, “India is a strategic market for Elbit Systems and we are proud to have been providing our portfolio of technologies and platforms to the Indian Tri Services for decades. Our enduring relationship with Adani Defence & Aerospace has shaped our joint vision to make India a global hub for manufacturing and exports of the unmanned platforms.

Said Ashish Rajvanshi, Head of Adani Defence & Aerospace. “Our vision is not limited to project based collaboration with our partners but it’s about transforming the defence ecosystem in India through inclusive growth and collective contribution.” (06 February 2020).

Isreal’s Pegasus has been in the news. Israel’s link with Indian Defence establishment is well known. But it would be a mistake to believe Modi and BJP were the pioneers in relations with Israel. It was Congress, with its links with USA, that heralded the ties. 

Three decades before the establishment of formal diplomatic ties, Israel had supplied weapons to India during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. India also used Israeli weapons in the Indo-Pakistan Wars of 1965 and 1971, and later in Kargil. And, when India’s foreign intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was established in 1968, its first spy chief RN Kao was tasked by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to establish ties with Israel’s Mossad.

In 1992, under the leadership of Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, India established formal diplomatic ties with Israel.

Even when Clinton administration was upset by Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998,  Israel refrained from criticising India’s nuclear programme and supplied weapons and surveillance systems and upgraded existing military hardware during the war.

As a result, today India is the largest buyer of Israeli weapons. Israel is India’s second-largest weapons supplier. Imports increased by 175 percent between 2015 and 2019 and current annual sales amount to more than $1bn. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) are currently collaborating on developing surface-to-air missile systems for the Indian armed forces.

The Indian armed forces have also inducted Israeli UAVs, radar systems, surveillance technology as well as anti-aircraft missiles and air-to-air missiles. Numerous Indian police officers, including many stationed in Indian-administered Kashmir, have been trained at the Israel National Police Academy. Security forces in the Kashmir Valley also use Israeli surveillance technology and foliage-penetrating radar. In 2018, Indian Union Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated two smart fence projects along the border with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir that will use Israeli surveillance technology. India and Israel are also part of a Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism that serves as a platform for dialogue and knowledge exchange on regional and global terrorism threat perception, the prevention of the transfer of weapons to violent groups, and counterinsurgency strategies.

During BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s stint as prime minister between 1998 and 2004, India strengthened its ties with Israel significantly. In 2000, then Minister of Home Affairs LK Advani became the first Indian minister to visit Israel. A year later,  BJP’s Jaswant Singh became the first Indian foreign minister to visit Israel. And, in 2003, Ariel Sharon became the first Israeli prime minister to visit India.  In 2017, Modi was the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. As a clear indication of changing allegiances, he chose not to visit the Palestinian Authority at the time.

( for more read article –  India’s deepening love affair with Israel –  by Somdeep Sen,  Associate Professor of International Development Studies at Roskilde University, Denmark ,  Published On 9 Sep 2021.

https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/9/9/indias-deepening-love-affair-with-israel)

The Israel link with India’s “indigenisation”  can be seen here:

“ Over the past decade, India has prioritised the modernisation of its armed forces and laid significant emphasis on self-reliance in arms production, in line with Modi’s “Make in India” plan.

“In a drive to strengthen the indigenous arms industry, 64 percent of capital outlays in the 2021 Indian military budget were earmarked for acquisitions of domestically produced arms,” Sipri said.

As part of this drive, India has worked with Israel in co-producing weapons.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/india-israel-arms-trade-numbers

***                        ***

Adani is now part of the global ‘military-industrial-complex.’

Naor Gilon, Israel’s ambassador to India, recenly expressed confidence that the Adani group’s troubles in the wake of the Hindenburg Research report would not affect the development of the Haifa Port. Pointing out that the Haifa Port is one of the two ports of Israel with the military, he said: “It is from our point of view a sign of deep trust in depositing our strategic assets in the hands of Indian companies.”

Israel handed over the Haifa Port to an Adani group-led consortium last month, coinciding with the storm unleashed by the Hindenburg Research report.  The consortium of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) and Israel’s Gadot Group won the tender to privatise the Haifa Port for $1.18 billion.

The deal, one of the biggest foreign investments by India in any Israeli sector, saw Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) acquire a 70 percent stake of the now privatised Haifa Port, while Israel’s Gadot Group purchased the remaining 30 percent.

‘This deal shows that Israelis trust India enough to privatise the state-owned Haifa Port and give it to Indian hands’, said Hananya Naftali, Israeli influencer.

“Liberating.”..That’s how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Indian tycoon Gautam Adani’s acquisition of Haifa Port. ‘Haifa Port has been a key site of Zionist and Israeli nation-building,’ it was commented.

“ With India’s ties with Israel booming since Modi took office in 2014, and India forming an integral part of the American bloc against China, the acquisition seemed to have pleased Washington.” middleeasteye.net commented. (10 March 2023.)

Such are the close relations between the two sides, with global import. Adani is now part of the global ‘military-industrial-complex.’ That is one factor behind the claims of Modi-led India being a Viswa Guru, of course subservient to USA.

( for more on this, visit…https://www.middleeasteye.net/big-story/israel-india-haifa-port-adani-what-tells-middle-east-plans.)

This is the key point in ‘Modani’ affair. It is not merely an economic scam as it is being reduced into by the Opposition, and the media. .

***                      ***

Congress party seeks to be a substitute, not an alternative

The phrase ‘military-industrial-complex’ (MIC), more common in USA, has appeared in relation to India also. National chauvinists show it as for ‘defence’of India. Modi-led BJP shows it as India’s rise as a great power.

The Opposition too never raises its voice against this. The Big media celebrates it in the name of “patriotism, the last refuge of the scoundrel. ” We have them aplenty robbing the people.

Congress is one up in chauvinism, blaming Modi regime failing to tackle ‘aggressive’ China, which is music to the ears of the hegemonist super power USA.    

Rampant crony capitalism is accumulating wealth in the hands of a few… the friends of the ruling regime,” Mr Sashi Tharoor of Congress party alleged, alluding to industrialist Gautam Adani, and his closenes to Modi.  This is a fact which he mixed up with a wrong argument.

“We want economic growth and ensure it reaches the marginalised. We must uplift the poor…” Mr Tharoor said. Congress should be “absolutely clear” about its ideology if it has to face the BJP’s full might, he added.

(ndtv.com, February 25, 2023. The news item ended with a new Disclaimer: New Delhi Television is a subsidiary of AMG Media Networks Limited, an Adani Group Company. That is the changed avatar of NDTV after acquisition of shares by Adani.)

You can not have the cake and eat it too. If the Congress has any commitment towards the marginalised, it must shun chauvinism, demand pruning the Defence budget, and enhancement of allocations to the social sectors. But it is vying with the ruling party and playing more jingoistic politics. That at best may attract and impress the defence lobbies, the USA in particular, but would not fetch them more votes.

Without such a stand, all talk about ideology will be empty. But from all the above, it is clear the  Congress party seeks to be a substitute, not an alter native. With such an attitude, it can not face the  BJP’s full might.

Congress is also currying favors with the crony capitalists and their imperialist masters, USA and UK in particular. It had served Ambanis, and Adani too, not to speak of Tatas Birlas etc earlier. It had built bridges with Israel.

With a  Defence budget that  in reality is around Rs. 7.6 lakh crore, higher than any other ministry’s , and by neglecting all the social sectors, what can be expected from the government? Does it help genuine  “economic growth and ensure it reaches the marginalised”?

Such huge defence budget is indeed meant to cater to “Rampant crony capitalism” and to Adani too, apart from Ambanis, Tatas etc in the Defence sector, and the military lobbies abroad, America in particular.

“Today’s era must not be of war,” the statement of G-20 with India as the current President, said. The statement was made initially by Modi in the context of Ukraine war, but should apply to India’s relations with China and Pakistan too : With them, normalization, not chauvinism, is the need of the hour.  It is indeed possible, in fact imperative, as we shall see separately.

If Modi’s precept is genuine, the defence-oriented economy is unwarranted, unethical, and immoral, particularly for a developing country like India, a laggard in HDI. It  will inevitably waste resources, add  to pollution, and undermine environment at all levels.

This needs to be opposed by all those who seek socio-economic justice for the vast masses, those who are for saving the earth, and those who desire peace and development.  

***                            ***

Read Part-1 of this article here:

https://countercurrents.org/2023/02/defence-budget-a-burden-on-the-people-must-be-pruned/

The author is a political commentator who wrote for the countercurrents.org.


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