Tag Archives: Sadhavi Chauhan

Oil price boost for Indo-Vietnam ties

Asia Times Online, January 22, 2015

Sadhavi Chauhan, Senior Research Fellow, National Institute of Advanced Studies

mastheadAt the onset of 2015, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj declared that, while 2014 was a year of breakthrough diplomacy for India, in the new year New Delhi will focus on diplomacy for development with a new vision and renewed vigor. This vigor is bound to be boosted by the drop in international oil prices. BBC reported that since June 2014, oil prices have more than halved. Unsurprisingly, this is great news for the Modi government, which in just seven months of being in office has seen a drop in India’s current account deficit and an easing of inflation. 

Set in the background of accelerating Indo-Vietnamese energy cooperation, these developments present a ripe opportunity for the two countries to turn the tide in their favor and further boost ties. This article explores the scope of India-Vietnam energy cooperation in light of the plummeting oil prices. 

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 !!

Print Print

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More


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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More


Selling “Brand India” in Vietnam

The Diplomat, November 25, 2014

Sadhavi Chauhan, Senior Research Fellow, National Institute of Advanced Studies

The DiplomatSince the election of Narendra Modi as India’s Prime Minister, New Delhi has appeared determined to create “Brand India” by harnessing its soft power resources. This was very much on display at the meeting Modi had with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung, during the latter’s visit to New Delhi late last month.

The two leaders used the occasion to sign seven agreements. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of media coverage was directed at hard-nosed issues like the South China Sea, defense and security, energy cooperation, and trade. Unquestionably, these factors are playing a crucial role in Indo-Vietnamese ties. But no fewer than five of the seven deals focused on aspects of soft power, like religion, education, media interaction, and cultural cooperation. This is important evidence that New Delhi is exploiting its soft resources to enhance ties with its southeastern neighbor.

For the complete article click here

India Vietnam Cooperation: Implementing India’s Act East Policy

ISSSP Reflections No. 20, September 12, 2014

Author: Ms. Sadhavi Chauhan

Print Print

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.

A crucial sign of commitment of the new government to push ahead its policy of “Act East” was displayed by the Foreign Minister’s recent meeting with the Indian heads of missions in South East Asian and East Asian countries. According to official sources, the meeting aimed to chart out the future roadmap and get a frank assessment about the Indian foreign policy in the region and its potential. Swaraj also inaugurated the third roundtable of the ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks. Together, these meetings highlighted three main sectors, namely, Energy, Economy and Defence, which remain crucial for the transformation of India’s policy from “Look East” to “Act East”.

Energy Cooperation

Energy cooperation has played a crucial role in brining the two countries together. Indian petroleum company ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL) currently holds two assets in Vietnam. Block 06.1 is a producing asset and block 128 is an exploratory asset. Till March 31, 2012, OVL had invested US$ 342.78 million and US$ 49.14 million in Block 06.1 and Block 128 respectively. In comparison, China, although in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS), spent nearly US$1 billion on a single ultra-deepwater rig HD-981 that it placed for three months, 120 nautical miles east of Vietnam’s Ly Son Island.

Block 06.1, where OVL has 45 percent of the Participatory Interest (PI), is producing over 2 billion cubic metres (BCM) of gas and 0.036 million metric tonne (MMT) of gas condensate. On the other hand, Block 128, where OVL has 100 percent Participatory Interest (PI), has proved less economically viable due to severe logistic constraints in anchoring the rig on a hard sea bottom at the proposed drilling location. In 2012, these technical difficulties almost caused New Delhi to give up exploration activities in Block 128. In order to de-risk exploration in the block, OVL has now started looking for partners and is currently in talks with PetroVietnam. In addition to these two blocks, India also received seven blocks without a competitive bid from Vietnam during Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to India, last November.

Meeting PM Dung, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, stated that India is already engaged and committed to expand cooperation with Vietnam in the oil sector. She also discussed the feasibility of exploring five of the seven oil blocks offered by Vietnam in November 2013. Crucially, just a few days before Swaraj embarked on her trip to Hanoi, Vietnam extended India’s lease over oil Block 128, by a year. The significance of this development lies in the fact that although Block 128 falls in Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), it is also claimed by China.

Vietnam’s extension of the lease is believed to have riled China, which since 2012 has displayed an open opposition to India’s involvement in the region. A particular reason for this has been the continued presence of India in the Block, despite technical difficulties in exploration. The extension of India’s license for Block 128 and its expression of a desire to explore oil in the five new blocks is a definite representation of a more proactive policy in the region. Many in India also view this as New Delhi’s determination to preserve its strategic interests in the region.

Economic Cooperation

Economically, there has been a growing synergy between India and Vietnam. India has extended seventeen Lines of Credit (LOCs) to Vietnam totalling US$ 164.5 million. In terms of investments, India was ranked 30th out of 101 nations and territories investing in Vietnam, with 73 projects worth over US$ 253 million. India’s investments in Hanoi encompass diverse sectors, including oil and gas exploration, mineral exploration and processing, sugar manufacturing, agro-chemicals, IT, and agricultural processing. Some of the major Indian investors in Vietnam are: OVL, Essar Exploration and Production Ltd, Nagarjuna Ltd, Venkateswara Hatcheries, Philips Carbon, and McLeod Russell. Tata Power joined this list last November, when during the visit of Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong to India, it signed an agreement with the Vietnamese government for setting up the Long Phu II Thermal Power Plant. Costing US$ 1.8 billion, this project has become the biggest investment by an Indian company in Vietnam.

Markedly, this investment has brought India at par with China in terms of investment in Vietnam’s thermal power plant sector. Today, one of the most prominent Chinese presence in Vietnam’s thermal power plant division exists in the form of the US$ 2 billion Vinh Tan I Power Plant. China’s Southern Power Grid Company Limited (CSG) and China’s Power International Holding (CPIH) account for 95 per cent of the total investment capital, while the remaining 5 per cent is being contributed by Vietnam’s state mining conglomerate Vinacomin.

Bilateral trade between India and Vietnam has also been gathering momentum. However, it constitutes a small percentage of India’s total trade. By 2013-14, India-Vietnam bilateral trade was US$ 8 billion, well on its way to reach the US$ 15 billion target by 2020. However, it constituted only 1.05 percent of India’s total trade. In comparison, China is Vietnam’s largest trade partner, with Sino-Vietnam trade currently pegged at US$ 50.21 billion.

Understandably, during Sushma Swaraj’s visit, economic cooperation was recognised as the second sector, which has an immense potential to boost Indo-Vietnam bilateral ties. The Foreign Minister called on the two countries to double and triple trade, conclude negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement, and launch a direct air route in the near future. The Foreign Minister also conveyed the desire of Indian firms investing in large infrastructure projects of Vietnam and signing deals with Vietnam in the field of corn and rice production, and catfish breeding.

Defence Linkages

Defence cooperation was recognised not only as being extremely crucial for both the countries but also mutually beneficial. Thanhnien, a leading daily of Vietnam reported that India’s Foreign Minister during her meeting with Prime Minister Dung praised the security-defence role of Vietnam and expressed India’s desire to partner with Vietnam in this arena.

The brain storming session held by the Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj with fifteen Indian ‘heads of mission’ in South East and East Asia deliberated on the security structure of the strategically important region, Chinese presence, the issue of the South China Sea and the scope of India’s growth in the region. Delivering the keynote address at the Third Roundtable on ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh stated,

“…future development and integration of ASEAN and India “largely lies in East Sea (the South China Sea) and the Indian Ocean. So, our cooperation should focus more on maintaining maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and settling territorial disputes through peaceful means on the basis of international law, including UNCLOS.” 

India added to the Vietnamese Foreign Minister’s statement that although it is a non-participant in the South China Sea dispute, it has an interest in ensuring that there is free right of navigation and access to natural resources in that region.

Besides, getting an understanding of India’s stand in the region and reiterating its conformity with Vietnam over the South China Sea issue, the visit also involved military agreements between the two countries. India, like Vietnam has been using Russian military platforms for decades and has therefore emerged as its key defence hardware partner in matters of training and spares. Alexander Korablinov writing for the Russia & India Report stated that during Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Vietnam, the two countries finalised details of a defence agreement under which India will train Vietnamese pilots to operate Russian-built Sukhoi fighters. Already, in accordance to last year’s agreement, India has agreed to train up to 500 Vietnamese sailors in “comprehensive underwater combat operations” at its modern submarine training centre, INS Satavahana.

India and Vietnam have also been involved in frequent port visits. Just a few days before Swaraj’s visit, the Indian naval ship INS Shivalik carrying more than 500 officers and crew anchored at the Chua Ve port in Haiphong. Notably, this was the sixth Indian Naval ship to have anchored at the Chua Ve port since 2008. In the three-day stopover, the crew-members paid a courtesy visit to the leaders of Haiphong and provided technical support for Vietnamese naval soldiers. There are also speculations that Hanoi had permitted Indian naval ships to berth at the Nha Trang Port, which is just south of China’s new naval base at Sanya in Hainan Island. However, there is no official evidence of India accepting the berthing rights. 

Another speculation doing the rounds is regarding India’s decision to sell the Indo-Russian Brahmos missile to Vietnam. However, as officials put it  “a deal is not imminent”. While the sale of the Brahmos to Vietnam remains uncertain, what is sure is that Vietnam is the first South East Asian country to have received USD 100 million, as Line of Credit (LOC) from India, for the purchase of four offshore Patrol Vessels.


Evidently therefore, one can note an increasing cooperation between Hanoi and New Delhi in all sectors. At the same time however, it is crucial to highlight, that Beijing remains the largest and the second largest economic partner for Vietnam and India respectively. It is not surprising therefore, that the two countries continue to justify their cooperation in the disputed South China Sea, on grounds of international laws rather than personal biases. This was once again reflected during the recent visit, where leaders of both the countries agreed to uphold international laws and thereby support a peaceful resolution of the South China Sea dispute.

While it is too early to judge the success of the new government’s “Act East” policy, one can note a definite move by New Delhi towards proactive engagement. As Hanoi, gets ready to welcome India’s President Pranab Mukherjee, between the 14-19 of September, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj statement that Vietnam enjoys a prioritised position in India’s Look East policy begins to ring true.

About the Author

Ms. Sadhavi Chauhan is a Senior Research Fellow at ISSSP, NIAS. She can be reached at sadhavichauhan89[at]gmail[dot]com

Picture Courtesy: Voanews.com


Revisiting Higher Defence Management in India

Revisiting Higher Defence Management in India

ISSSP Working Paper #2, August 2014

Author: Sadhavi Chauhan, Senior Research Fellow, ISSSP, NIAS

To read the complete report in pdf click here

Higher Defence Management

India’s regional security environment necessitates the country’s armed forces to remain at a heightened state of defence preparedness. While in the short run, increasing the defence budget and importing weapons are necessary and unavoidable; a holistic solution lies in strengthening India’s higher defence management.

Need for Greater Political Involvement in Military Issues

Active and regular interactions between the Prime Minister and the Service Chiefs is important. Such interactions will keep the political leadership abreast of military matters and will provide the Services with an ear for their demands and opinions regarding the country’s security.

Creation of a Specialised Bureaucracy

Given the absence of a hands-on approach by the political leaders in defence issues, decisions are largely left in the hands of the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence. Creation of a specialised bureaucratic cadre is crucial to link military imperatives with policy decisions. Furthermore, closer integration of the three Services with the Ministry of Defence will facilitate greater jointness and cooperation, thereby boosting overall synergy. 

Indigenisation and Services-DPSU Collaboration

Higher investment in military research and development (R&D) is needed to boost defence indigenisation. The effectiveness of India’s Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs) will be enhanced if the DPSUs and the Services work in collaboration to draw up standardised quality requirements for their defence weapons and systems. Regular interactions between the Services and the DPSUs, especially during the planning and implementation phases of projects are imperative. The Services need to give sufficient lead-time to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and DPSUs for their development-related efforts. Concurrently, the DPSUs need to offer realistic timelines for the planning and completion of projects, thereby enabling the military to plan their force structures and future acquisitions.

Emphasis on Capacity building

Complete indigenisation is neither possible nor desirable. The existence of defence lobby groups who continue to push for the ‘buy’ option is a reality, which cannot be brushed aside.  Unfortunately, it has been observed that even in cases where the defence R&D establishment has delivered, there is opposition to induction of a quality indigenous product like the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) into the Services. New Delhi needs to manoeuvre around such opposition to reduce its dependence on imports. The offset policy can play a crucial role in this respect, provided India manages to develop the wherewithal to absorb these technologies. Additionally, there is a need for India’s defence sector to ramp up the scale of its production facilities to meet domestic defence requirements in a short time and also cater to the international market by way of defence exports.

Boost Inter-Service Jointness

Inter-Service rivalries hamper the planning of a joint force structure, better inter-service coordination, drawing up of long term national procurement priorities, which in turn, impedes overall defence preparedness. The creation of the position of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will not only act as a crucial link between the three Services but also provide them with a ‘joint voice’.

The Way Forward

In order to strengthen India’s security apparatus, an emphasis needs to be laid on structural reorganisation and defence indegenisation rather than resorting to expanding military budgets and arms imports. Enhanced coordination between the three fulcrums of the higher defence structure, namely the politicians and the Services, the three Services, and the Services and the DPSUs/DRDO remains central to the strengthening of India’s defence preparedness.

Conducting Academic and Policy Research related to National and International Security Issues
Sign up for Updates

Enter your email below

We will not share your email