India’s Missile Modernisation and Credible Minimum Deterrence

Generation Why: South Asian Voices, Stimson Center, December 5, 2013

Arun Vishwanathan, Assistant Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies

gen whyIndia has been modernising its missile capabilities. It has successfully flight-tested its longer range missiles like Agni-IV and Agni-V. It has also made efforts at canisterising its missiles with statements from senior DRDO officials pointing to the development of missiles capable of carrying multiple warheads. These developments have resulted in analyses (here and here, among others) which argue that India is “moving away from its stated doctrine of minimum deterrence towards one with more war-fighting like capabilities.” Such arguments are a simplified understanding of a complex dynamic that underpins the relationship between China-Pakistan alliance and India. Also, such an understanding fails to take into account India’s unique geo-political situation where it shares borders and a troubled history with two nuclear armed neighbours in China and Pakistan. Given the dynamic nature of nuclear doctrine and postures, countries are likely to respond to changing security dynamics. Therefore, the ongoing modernisation of India’s missile programare in essence attempts by India to preserve such technological options for the future rather than for immediate deployment. As such, these efforts are nothing but natural responses from New Delhi to the changes in its security environment rather than any move away from its stated nuclear doctrine.

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