Chankaya Kautilya was an Indian political strategic thinker around 300 BCE. His book Arthaashastra is on war and diplomacy. His book is still being analysed and discussed in the strategic community. Kautilya was the main advisor of the king Chandragupta, in his rule the biggest Hindu empire came into being. Kautilya’s desire was for his king to conquer the world. Today’s Indian strategic thinking is also somehow has reflection of Kautilya’s six fold policy. This article will discuss Kautilya’s six fold policy and analyse it with modern India’s foreign and defence policy. Kautilya’s six fold policy components are 1)-Peace, 2)- War, 3)- Neutrality, 4)- Marching, 5)- Alliance, 6)- Double Policy.
1. Peace: “The only time a king will make peace is when he finds himself in relative decline compared to his enemy”. If we analyse this dictum then we will understand that after the 1962 humiliating defeat from China, India established peace with China, because it knew that it cannot win against China. This is a clear indication of the Kautilya’s six fold policy. India is still following Kautilya’s policies to safeguard its interests and defeat its enemies.
2. War: “When a king is in a superior position compared to his enemy, he will attack and wage war.” India has always tried to subdue Pakistan. It’s clear from its current military formation. Indian II- Corps, also known as the Strike Corps, plays a key role in times of conflict with Pakistan. The II Corps holds almost 50 per cent of the Indian strike capabilities and although based at Ambala it is responsible for guarding the border with Pakistan and mainly it is Pakistan focused. India has tried to coerce Pakistan many times in the past. In January 1987, India and Pakistan nearly went to war during a major crisis accelerated by India’s Brass tacks exercises, the largest military maneuvers in the history of South Asia. A tense situation developed in which even a minor clash could have triggered a major conflict. But diplomatic activity brought in the United States and the Soviet Union. President Reagan at that time telephoned Rajiv Gandhi and President Zia, instructing them to “cool it. The threat of nuclear escalation defused the tension. Then in 2001 a terrorist attack on Indian parliament brought both India and Pakistan on the brink of war. Estimated 800,000 troops, including its two strike corps, deployed on India’s western borders, its Air force units and satellite airfields were activated and the fleet moved into northern Arabian Sea to join the western fleet for blockading Pakistan if required. Various reasons were cited behind the Indian action, including the use of coercive diplomacy to mount international pressure on Pakistan. In an expected manner, Pakistan undertook large-scale counter deployments of its troops leading to an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation along the border, which carried the danger of conflict being escalated into nuclear war, not by design, but by misperception, accident, or miscalculation. These two events shows Indian aggressive designs against Pakistan, but due to an effective response from Pakistan Indian could not impose a war on Pakistan.
Chankaya Kautilya in his book also mentioned three types of war first is open war: In which, it is a declared war against a country. Second is a secret war which entails “a sudden attack, terrorizing from one side and attack from another side”. India is effectively pursuing this dictum. India is actively involved in Afghanistan making things worse for Pakistan in Balochistan and FATA. On the other hand it is practicing its Cold Start Doctrine on eastern border to coerce Pakistan. Now Pakistan is facing two front war dilemma from Eastern and Western border. Kautilya support such warfare in his six fold policy. Third is “Undeclared War: Which includes secret agents, religion or superstition, and women against the enemies” India has already waged such war against Pakistan. Pakistan has always criticised India’s malicious involvement in Balochistan and tribal areas of Pakistan. India is also involved in the malicious activities against other neighbouring countries including Srilanka (supporting Hindu Tamils), Nepal, (supporting Maoists Separatists), Bangladesh (supporting Shanti Bahini in Chittagong hills). All these malevolent activities suggest that India is keenly following the Kautilya’s policy to intimidate its neighbours.
3. Neutrality: “If a king feels that his enemy and he are equal and neither can harm the other nor ruin the other’s undertakings, then he shall choose to do nothing.” This is what India did in 1986-87 Brass tack crisis, 2001-02 border stand off and in 2008 after Mumbai attacks. In which India first tried to coerce Pakistan militarily and politically but when it realised that it cannot win against Pakistan because of the nuclear deterrence, in the end India had to follow its ancestor’s advice to observe neutrality.
4. Marching: “When a king increases his own power and has special advantage over his enemy, he will take part in the fourth approach of Kautilyan foreign policy by making preparations for war”. India is actively following this dictum. It has carried out ten military exercises in last six years near to the Pakistan border. India has tested and experimented synergy and integration among its armed forces, quick, robust operations, day and night fighting capabilities, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, behind the enemy lines operations, air mobility and logistics, mechanised armour, artillery, infantry, NBC warfare capabilities, NCW and EW capabilities, Navy’s marine commandos, Special Forces operations, para-dropped, Strikes Corps, air fire power, and Pivot Corps were also tested in these exercises. All these elements are essential for the offensive, quick and swift operations. India will spend around US $ 200 billion on defence acquisitions over the next 12 years. According to SIPRI, India’s annual arms imports doubled from $1.04 billion in 2005 to 2.1 billion in 2009. India has plans to add 278 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters by 2015 and almost 1000 T-90 Tanks by 2020. India has added force multipliers like RISAT-2 Satellite, A-50/Phalcon AEW system, Harpy missile-Silencing enemy Radars, Long Range Reconnaissance Observation System-(LORROS), Battlefield Surveillance Radars, (BFSR), Weapon Locating Radars (WLR), and Force Multiplication Command Post- (FMCP). All these force multipliers are necessary to improve Indian surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for quick and swift operations against Pakistan.
5. Alliance: “In contrast to preparing for war, a king may require the help of another to protect his own undertakings. This idea of building an alliance is Kautilya’s fifth method of foreign policy. A king seeking an alliance must ensure that he finds a king more powerful than the neighbouring enemy”. India is vigorously working on this dictum. It has strategic alliance with many countries around the world including US, Russia, France, and Israel. It has signed a 10 year nuclear deal with the US in 2008, this deal would open nuclear technology and energy market for India. Its nuclear programme would undermine Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent. In a recent visit by the US President to India, both countries singed deals of almost 10 to 15 billion $. Most important component of the deal was, purchase of 10 C-17 Globemaster-III military transport aircraft for Indian Air Force. Such aircrafts would help to improve Indian air force’s mobility and reach.
Other major strategic alliance of India is with Russia. Almost 70% of Indian conventional weapon and equipment comes from Russia. It has singed many arms deals with Russia; including transfer of T-90 MBT and SU-30 MKI multirole aircraft, nuclear submarine, aircraft carrier and other weapon and equipment. In the recent visit by the Russian President, India singed 30 deals covering a wide spectrum of issues ranging from defense, nuclear energy and trade. Both have also agreed to step up efforts to achieve the target of bilateral trade of $ 20 billion by 2015. The most important deal was struck in the defence sector for the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). It will be based on the Sukhoi T-50 platform with a possible $35 billion tab for around 250 fighters which are expected to be delivered starting in 2020. The total cost including options and the value of production will make this the biggest defence programme ever in the history of India. Other major breakthrough was in the space sector. Russia and India singed a deal granting India access to Russia’s space-based navigation system GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System). GLONASS can be used for both civilian and military purposes and allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters. This shows India’s pursuance of Kautilya’s policy to make alliances to improve its overall capabilities to undermine Pakistan’s national security interests in the region.
6. Double Policy: means “making peace with one and waging war with another”. According to this dictum a king must have peace with one and wage a war against other. This is what India has been doing from many decades. After 1962 war defeat, it has never tried to go for war with China. India is improving its relations with China but pursuing aggressive designs against Pakistan. Whether it is Water, Siachen, Sir Creek, or Kashmir issue, India is not ready to make peace with Pakistan. It is constantly building its defence capabilities to undermine Pakistan’s strategic interests. Such double policy is a clear cut shadow of the Kautilya’s six fold policy.
Kautilyan foreign policy offers the theory that “an immediate neighbouring state is an enemy and a neighbor’s neighbour, separated from oneself by the intervening enemy, is a friend”
It is necessary for Pakistan to monitor Indian strategic thinking and its military development and come up with adequate response. Pakistan is a democratic country with effectual military force. Its military and political leadership can play a viable role to allay threats to the national security. Political leadership must show a clear direction to the Pakistan armed forces. Political parties of the country must support the ruling government and military in any crisis situation. National Command Authority – NCA is a place where military and political leadership can sit together on issues related to extreme national security. Frequent meetings of NCA can enhance the mutual cooperation between political and military leadership. These meetings can fill the gap between civil military relations and pave the way for collective politico-military response to any threat from India. Better coordination and understanding between military and political leadership can help Pakistan to overcome its internal and external security threats.
Originally Published in weekly Pulse Magazine