Tag Archives: Aditi Malhotra

Obama’s India Visit: Opportunities & Challenges

Niti Central, January 23, 2015

Aditi Malhotra, Senior Research Fellow, National Institute of Advanced Studies

xniti_central.jpg.pagespeed.ic.FAgG9ZSo4jPresident Obama’s visit to India marks a crucial event, with hope of instilling a sense of dynamism in India-US relations. Interestingly, Barack Obama would be the first serving American President to ever attend India’s Republic Day celebrations and also the first to visit India twice. Going beyond the high symbolism that dominates the visit, this article highlights some of the opportunities & challenges for Indo-US relations.

For the complete article click here

India’s Nuclear Deterrent: A desire for Immunity

Generation Why: South Asian Voices, Stimson Center, January 22, 2015

Aditi Malhotra, Senior Research Fellow, National Institute of Advanced Studies

gen why“While Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent is for security, India’s is for status.” As soon as I read these words, I wondered if the terms ‘security’ and ‘status’ are mutually exclusive when understanding South Asia’s nuclear deterrent. Also, if ‘security’ is the right term to use for the Indian context. Scholars have asserted that India’s nuclear deterrent is merely for status, prestige, or greater global recognition. While the arguments are interesting and much needed for greater academic debate, the premise on which the viewpoint rests has some inherent gaps. This post points out the gaps and asserts that India’s nuclear deterrent is for security.

For the complete article click here

Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Programme: India’s Anxieties

Generation Why: South Asian Voices, Stimson Center, January 05, 2015

Aditi Malhotra, Senior Research Fellow, National Institute of Advanced Studies

gen whyNuclear weapons programmes remain a crucial strategic element when looking at India-Pakistan relations and its idiosyncrasies. Given this background, India tends to possess some fears regarding Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme. It is natural to assume that Pakistan may have certain fears regarding India’s programme. The following article presents an Indian viewpoint and points out some of the major anxieties India has about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme. The author also urges that a blogger from across the border presents a Pakistani viewpoint on the issue.

For the complete article click here


Most Read in 2014: Top 10 ISSSP Analyses

ISSSP Reflections No. 23, January 1, 2015

As we ring in 2015, a look back at the Top 10 analyses which were popular amongst our readers in 2014 is in order. All of us at ISSSP wish our readers a Very Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2015 !!

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1 | Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence

Authors: Arun Vishwanathan, S. Chandrashekar and Rajaram Nagappa

Agni V--621x414In an article in the FAS Strategic Security Blog, Dr. Hans M. Kristensen has quoted various statements by scientists of the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) related to modernisation of India’s missile program to arrive at the conclusion that the development and deployment of longer range missiles with multiple warheads and quick-launch capability would “indicate that India is gradually designing its way out of its so-called minimum deterrence doctrine towards a more capable nuclear posture.”

Though the arguments advanced in the paper appear logical and persuasive, they remain anchored in the Cold War logic. The two-party logic cannot be applied to understand the complex dynamic that underpins the relationship between the Sino-Pak alliance and India. Such a caricature of the more complex dynamic tends to misrepresent the realities of the relationship between these countries.

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2 | India and Sri Lanka: Battle Over Fishing  Ground

Author: M. Mayilvaganan

fishermen_301213Fishery resources have always sustained fishermen communities in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, however over time these resources have become the object of “uncommon controversy.” The battle over fishing in the Palk Straits especially for tuna, prawns, lobsters, blue swimming crabs and cuttlefish is a classic political maritime confrontation: a showdown between the state government, India and Sri Lanka which, like past disagreements, snowballs into a major diplomatic row between two countries. With the continuing trend of attacks and arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities, the issue is slowly approaching a ‘crescendo’, with no solution in sight.

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3 | Revamping India’s National Security Structure: Agenda for the Indian Government

Author: Arun Vishwanathan

Revamping-India-s-National-Security-Structure-Cover-212x300The 2014 elections for the Sixteenth Lok Sabha saw the Indian electorate delivering a positive, decisive mandate to a single party after a gap of almost three decades. An important area which is in need for urgent attention from the Narendra Modi-government is India’s national security structure. Despite past efforts at reform, India’s national security structure continues to be plagued by absence of coordination, turf battles and paucity of human resources. Many of these problems are symptomatic of systemic ills which therefore require a holistic relook.

In order for India to achieve its national interests it should be able to work in a coordinated fashion. This necessitates a holistic revamping of the existing national security apparatus and its workings. Putting in place a mechanism that develops long-term strategies and coordinates their execution is imperative as is and strengthening the National Security Advisor’s (NSA’s) support structure. In addition, such a revamp should also include reforms to the existing higher defence organisation and intelligence setup. This report will flag some of the important issues the incoming government needs to focus on in order to strengthen India’s national security architecture.

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4 | Russian Intervention in Crimea & Geopolitical Consequences: Legal Perspectives

Author: Himanil Raina

russia-crimeaThe ongoing crisis in Ukraine which has seen the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea has primarily generated two important legal questions. The first one relates to whether Russia has violated international law with respect to the non-use of force, respect for the territorial sovereignty and political independence of Ukraine. The second question relates to the legality of the referendum in Crimea whereby it has chosen to become a part of Russia.

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5 | HATF-IX / NASR Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Implications for Indo-Pak Deterrence

Authors: Rajaram Nagappa, Arun Vishwanathan and Aditi Malhotra

Nasr Hatf IX Pakistan Tactical Battlefield Nuclear Weapon Arun Vishwanathan NagappaOn April 19, 2011 Pakistan conducted the first test flight of Hatf-IX (NASR) missile. The Pakistani Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) described the missile as a ‘Short Range Surface to Surface Ballistic Missile’. Till date there have been three tests of the missile system on April 19, 2011, May 29, 2012 and February 11, 2013.

Following the Pakistani tests and claims of NASR being a nuclear capable missile, there has been a lot of analysis pointing to the dangers it poses for Indo-Pak deterrence. However, despite the large amount of literature which has come out following the NASR test in April 2011, not much attention has been directed at carrying out a holistic assessment of the tactical nuclear weapons issue. It is this crucial gap that that this report seeks to address.

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6 | China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM

Authors: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal

Launch of Yaogan 17With the recent launch of the Yaogan 19 satellite China has in place an advanced space capability to identify, locate and track an Aircraft Carrier Group (ACG) on the high seas. This space capability is an important component of an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) System that China has set up.

The current 19 satellite constellation consists of ELINT satellites, satellites carrying Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors as well as satellites carrying optical imaging sensors. Based on the orbit characteristics, their local time of equatorial crossing and other related parameters, these satellites can be grouped into different categories that perform the various functions for identifying, locating and tracking the ACG.

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7 | India’s Pipeline Diplomacy: Case of Lost Opportunities

Author: Sanket Kulkarni

pipe2_070612024522India’s pipeline diplomacy over the past year has been a mixed bag. All the existing cross-border pipeline projects, viz Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) Gas Pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline and Myanmar-Bangladesh-India (MBI) Gas Pipeline have made some headway. India’s participation in these projects will contribute towards improving its energy scenario. The Government of India has already identified the importance of natural gas as a major contributor in India’s future energy mix.

Currently, the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) route is being used to procure natural gas from abroad. But, in comparison to the LNG route, pipelines are considered a more viable method of transporting natural gas. This is because the LNG route needs an elaborate infrastructure, at the supplier’s and receiver’s ends, thereby increasing the costs of energy transportation. Despite the obvious advantages of pipeline projects, the existing proposals face challenges owing to the unique geopolitical and security considerations prevalent in South Asia.

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8 | Asia-Pacific Power Dynamics: Strategic Implications and Options for India

Authors: M. Mayilvaganan, Aditi Malhotra, Viswesh R., and Sadhavi Chauhan

seminar coverIn the emerging geopolitical discourse today, the Asia-Pacific region has emerged as a major centre of geostrategic interest. Accompanying this change in perception is a change in scope, with strategists not just considering the typical Indian Ocean, but also the western, and sometimes even central Pacific Ocean. The Asia-Pacific ranges from East Africa to the western and central Pacific, including Japan and Australia. Asia-Pacific concept reflected a new reality shaped by the rise of China and India, a revitalized Japan, along with the continued primacy of the United States and also signifies the accelerating economic and security connections between the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean thus creating a single strategic system.

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9 | Evolution of Solid Propellant Rockets in India

Author: Rajaram Nagappa

Solid Rocket Propellant Rocket IndiaHistorical narration of technological achievements is more an exception than the rule in India. The narration in respect of rocket development in the country generally follows this trend with a few notable exceptions covering the developments in the Indian Space Programme. The development of defence rockets has hardly been touched upon. Propulsion forms a major subsystem of the space launch vehicles and missiles, and today, India boasts of a significant capability and capacity in this discipline.

The solid propellant rocket technology in India is essentially home-grown and has found wide application and adaptation in sounding rockets, launch vehicles, and ballistic missiles. While the requirements of solid propellant rockets for the space programme have reached a maturation phase, the requirement of solid propellant rockets for missile applications are diverse in their characteristics, and performance needs continue on a demand and development trajectory.

This book highlights the development of solid propellant rockets and the main solid rocket subsystems used in the space programme and ballistic missiles with emphasis on the indigenous nature of development.

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10 | India Vietnam Cooperation: Implementing India’s Act East Policy

Author: Sadhavi Chauhan

sushma visit vietnamWith the US pivot to Asia challenging China’s regional dominance, global geopolitical rivalry has shifted to Asia. India and Vietnam involved in territorial conflicts with China would be considered as natural supporters of USA’s return to Asia. However, both these countries have adopted a balanced approach making a conscious effort to not get involved. As C. Raja Mohan and Rory Medcalf highlight in their recent paper, “these nations don’t want to put their security at the mercy of the fluctuating relationship between America and China.” Consequently, both the countries have decided to take charge of their security and have been strengthening bilateral ties, in particular, security cooperation.

The recent visit of India’s Minister of External Affairs, Susham Swaraj to Hanoi from 24-26 August highlighted this trend. During her meeting with the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Swaraj unveiled a shift in India’s foreign policy from “Look East” to “Act East”. She identified this as a crucial step to escalate New Delhi’s bilateral ties with its South East Asian neighbour(s). In this context, it is crucial to take stock of recent developments in India-Vietnam relations and in light of this evidence, see whether the change in nomenclature is just verbal jugglery or more than that.

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India’s Changing Pakistan Policy

Generation Why: South Asian Voices, Stimson Center, October 22, 2014

Aditi Malhotra, Senior Research Fellow, National Institute of Advanced Studies

gen whyThe ongoing episode of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC), continuous firings and the unfortunate cases of civilian deaths on both sides, points to the challenge South Asia is facing today. It is important to highlight the issues that make this event relatively different from the previous incidents along the LoC or the International Border (IB). The nature of confrontation is nuanced due to changing strategies and changing styles of interaction between the two countries. In light of the recent events, the article looks at the changing ways in which India and Pakistan are dealing with each other.

For the complete article click here


Taking to the skies – China and India’s quest for UAVs

Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, 2014

Aditi Malhotra, Senior Research Fellow, ISSSP, National Institute of Advanced Studies

Viswesh R, Research Associate, ISSSP, National Institute of Advanced Studies

coverUnmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have undoubtedly attained a prominent position in contemporary and future defence technologies. Likewise, Asian militaries have continued to realise the operational value of such vehicles, whether for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) or combat purpose. In the current times, wherein UAVs are proliferating globally, it remains pivotal to understand their relevance, uses and implications, particularly with regard to emerging powers. It is in this context that the paper seeks to explore and compare the cases of the two rising Asian giants, India and China. The paper explores their UAV programmes, possible defence-oriented employments, and current technological capabilities to produce UAVs. The relevance of UAVs is assessed in terms of India and China’s present military doctrines, security requirements (current and future) and how the UAVs fit into their security landscape. Finally, the article delves into the strategic implications of the greater proliferation and rampant employment of UAVs in the region.

For the complete article click here

Nuclear Waste Management: Exploring Future Areas of India-Pakistan Cooperation

Generation Why: South Asian Voices, Stimson Center, July 30, 2014

Aditi Malhotra, Senior Research Fellow, National Institute of Advanced Studies

gen whyOwing to secrecy of India and Pakistan’s nuclear programmes and understandably so, there are extremely limited nuclear-related areas where India and Pakistan would be willing to cooperate. It is challenging, yet important to identify some areas where both India and Pakistan could collaborate to establish durable peace in the subcontinent and reduce the trust deficit in this sensitive field. One possible area for cooperation is nuclear waste management. Nuclear waste is produced by a number of pursuits in the different stages of nuclear fuel cycle (uranium mining, fuel fabrication, etc). The management of nuclear waste, which is highly radioactive, is challenging mainly because of its harmful effects on human beings and the environment. 

For the complete article click here


Indo-Pak discussions on Deterrence Stability in South Asia

ISSSP Reflections No. 18, July 25, 2014

Author: Ms. Aditi Malhotra

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Group Istanbul

In the picturesque city of Istanbul, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and The Stimson Center brought together an interesting mix of young Indian and Pakistani researchers, academics and journalists working on nuclear issues. The workshop held from June 18- 20, 2014 was titled ‘Deterrence Stability in South Asia’ and aimed to delve on issues related to India-Pakistan nuclear deterrence and deterrence stability. Over a period of three days, the gathering deliberated upon the varying perceptions and key challenges to deterrence stability in South Asia and ways to address these challenges. The discussions focused on identifying common grounds and novel approaches on various issues, which could help in furthering better relations and understanding between the two neighbours. Interestingly, all participants agreed to keep the most contentious Indo-Pakistan issues on the back burner and discuss subjects where some progress was possible. The ensuing paragraphs reflect on some of the important points that were discussed during the workshop:

Deterrence Stability

There were lengthy discussions on the concept of deterrence stability in general and factors affecting it in South Asia. A majority of the participants shared the perception that deterrence in South Asia meant different things to both countries and their decision-makers. Even the concept of stability is highly influenced by one’s perceptions and more so in the case of India and Pakistan. Capabilities of a country, internal politics, role of perceptions, structures of state institutions etc. were identified as some factors affecting deterrence stability. It was agreed that the lack of a common lexicon on deterrence stability in South Asia complicates the already precarious situation. Therefore, it was felt that India and Pakistan need to achieve a better understanding of each other’s perceptions, fears and thinking in order to minimise any chances of misunderstanding.

Discussing the nuances of deterrence stability, it was argued that extreme secrecy with limited bilateral dialogue on nuclear issues might lead to a situation wherein the other party may misunderstand signals. Also, during a crisis, a country tends to assume that the other country may act or react in certain ways. Such assumptions result in the creation of grey areas, leaving them contingent on the future shaping of events, which may lead to increased tensions during a crisis.

A majority of the participants agreed that the current leaderships in both the countries are strong. The clear mandate given by the people provides the leaders in India and Pakistan the capability to take some tough decisions and ensure its implementation. On the one hand, this has its advantages. For instance, Pakistan’s Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif’s recent visit to India for Indian PM Narendra Modi’s swearing in ceremony, indicates that both the leaders have the potential and will to work on Indo-Pakistan bilateral relations.

On the other hand, participants felt that strong Indian leadership implied that the Indian government could take an aggressive stand during a crisis initiated by Pakistan or Pak-backed non-state actors. India’s response to another 26/11 type of an attack from Pakistan was discussed, as was its impact on deterrence stability. In this regard, there were mixed opinions, as many believed that India would react aggressively to such as attack, while others disagreed.

Economic Levers

India and Pakistan do not have strong economic linkages. It remains essential to work on this aspect, as both countries do not have any levers that could be leveraged for peace. Economic interdependence could take Indo-Pakistan relations to a level wherein economic links take primacy over military or nuclear-related issues. It was also emphasised that the ‘fauji foundation’ needs to given an incentive in investing in India and vice-versa, which would make them stakeholders in Indo-Pakistan peace. In light of the new governments in both the countries and PM Modi’s pro-economic image, majority of the participants were hopeful of improved economic relations between New Delhi and Islamabad in the coming years.

Challenges to Deterrence Stability in South Asia

Deterrence stability in South Asia has been plagued by a number of challenges. The perceptions of challenges differ. Indian and Pakistani participants came up with what they perceive as major challenges to deterrence stability in South Asia. Predictably, there were differences in the challenges identified. However, there were also some commonalities in the approach.

Participants from Pakistan argued that asymmetries/imbalances between the two countries was the main challenge, that also affects other dimensions of the relationship. Asymmetries remain a major factor in the minds of Pakistani decision-makers. This predisposition in turn affects the political capacity of the state, especially in terms of its political will to undertake arms control and political coherence when implementing policies. These aspects impact the domestic and international policies of both countries.

With regard to conventional asymmetries, most Indian participants argued that the China factor remains relevant. It was reasoned that India’s military modernisation and quest for technologically advanced weapon systems were resultant of China’s growing military prowess and assertiveness along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Most insisted that it remains difficult to decouple the China factor from the strategic landscape in South Asia. Additionally, it would add to the stability in Indo-Pak relations if Pakistan views Indian military modernisation keeping in mind the larger context. 

The Indian participants contended that the primary challenge to deterrence stability is sub-conventional warfare, as it has the potential to spiral into others levels of conflict. Specifically, sub-conventional operations of magnitude and scale that provokes response from New Delhi and wherein the culpability of the Pakistani state can be ascertained are most detrimental to peace in South Asia. The group also identified misperceptions and wrongly interpreted signals as another major challenge. Within this category, factors such as introduction of new weapon systems in the subcontinent, nuclear safety and security of Pakistan were included. It was averred that theft and use of nuclear weapons by Pak-based terror groups could lead to crises, which could spiral out of control. The participants agreed that there is a crying need to address the above challenges that hamper deterrence stability between the two countries. 

Consensus was achieved on trust deficit being an important factor hampering Indo-Pak relations. Over long discussions during the workshop and outside, many innovative ideas were discussed in order to minimise the existing mistrust between the governments and people. It was widely believed that the current Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) were inadequate due to limited impact value and scope. Additionally, some CBMs may be discontinued during a crisis when emotions run high.

The success of the workshop can be gauged from the fact that at the end of three days, the participants concluded a list of implementable and non-contentious CBMs and Nuclear Risk Reduction Measures. Some of the measures included establishing a joint project on social and literary history and introducing it into school curricula, promoting joint technical studies on security issues, establishing liaison programs between the two national nuclear Centres of Excellence etc.

The workshop helped in building bridges and creating pleasant memories. The discussions helped in gaining a better understanding of the ‘other’. Our dinner conversations were a mix of insightful views on politics and light-hearted conversations, ranging from Arnab Goswami being India’s the most credible deterrent to small talk about Pakistani and Indian television dramas. The endless conversations and enjoyment over sumptuous Turkish meals and tea sessions helped all participants realise that at the end of the day, we are not so different from each other. The three days helped build friendships that might last for decades.

About the Author

Aditi Malhotra is a Senior Research Fellow in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies. She can be reached at: aditimalhotra008[at]gmail[dot]com. She can also be followed on Twitter @aditi_malhotra_

Picture Courtesy: Ali Mustafa


Book Review: Troubling Tehran: Reflections on Geopolitics

Strategic Analysis, Vol. 38, No. 3, May 2014, pp. 376-378.

Aditi Malhotra, Senior Research Fellow, National Institute of Advanced Studies

strat analysisThe ever dynamic nuclear conundrum of Iran has continued to hog the limelight. Numerous suggestions emanating from varied quarters about how to manage the issue have dominated the ongoing international discourse. However, there is no unanimity on how to cope with the current situation and the impending future.

Surprisingly, in the Indian context, where Iran’s importance is undeniable, the debates have remained limited and incomprehensive. Troubling Tehran is a book that seeks to address this lacuna and trigger an Indian cogitation on Iran and the prognosis.

For the complete book review click here
The book can be bought from Flipkart | Bookadda | Amazon | Amazon India

‘Overlooking’ Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers

Generation Why: South Asian Voices, Stimson Center, April 9, 2014

Aditi Malhotra, Senior Research Fellow, National Institute of Advanced Studies

Sitakanta Mishra, Research Fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi

gen-why-300x141Fitzpatrick seems to acknowledge all the problems with nuclear Pakistan – track record of proliferation, a lowered nuclear threshold, command and control prone to human error, warheads not one-point safe, inability to control the terrorists – and still vouches for Pakistan to be recognised “as a normal nuclear state” especially when some may say that Pakistan itself is not a normal state. His compassion is discernible when he says “how long Pakistan must pay the price” for the Khan nuclear proliferation network – “a solitary event.” Drawing a parallel to India’s performance, Fitzpatrick argues that “the time has come to offer Pakistan a nuclear-cooperation deal akin to India’s”.

For the complete article click here
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