India, 11th March, 2022: Retired Major General Harsha Kakar, recently took to asynchronous social audio platform Swell to discuss his views on the Ukraine-Russia crisis and how it has impacted India so far. He elaborated on why the government took a decision to take a neutral stand on this issue by not openly criticizing Russia, but also not openly supporting Russia.
Impact on India’s defense supplies
Maj Gen Kakar discusses India’s solid dependency on Russian spares especially for missiles, including for the BrahMos missile, the sale of which is now being negotiated with the Philippines. He says that sanctions on Russia will impact defense supplies with Ukraine now paying a heavy price. There's been a hold-up on account of gas turbine engines coming in from Ukraine, but the parts for the servicing still come from Ukraine. With Ukraine handling Antonio's fleet and about 100 other aircrafts being affected, there is a chance that India is going to face the impact of this crisis in some form or the other from both sides.
India’s plans to reduce equipment dependence
Maj Gen Kakar mentions that India plans to move forward with Atmanirbhar Bharat. However, it is not something that will develop overnight but as far as the Ukraine Russia crisis is concerned, India is being impacted from both sides. With a few imports in the pipeline which can’t be canceled, it might take some time before the dependency changes. Another factor Maj Gen Kakar pointed out is that equipment once introduced into service remains in service at times for three to four decades or even more, so the focus is on equipment that is already in service. Whatever India plans to import will now be manufactured in the country but the problem is the equipment that is already existing in service for three to four decades.
Government’s decision to take a neutral path
Maj Gen Kakar agrees with the Government's decision to take a neutral path. He states that India has multiple reasons for doing so with traditional allies being one. The second part of the more logical reason is on account of defense deals. He agrees that Ukrainians are paying a heavy price but reminisces the time when India suffered the ingress in both Cargill and in Ladakh. However, other than a little bit of murmuring around the world, there wasn’t much of a reaction on the same. He thinks that the reason was that the incident took place in a remote corner of Asia and not in Central Europe. So every nation looks at every incident from its core national interests.
China emerging as a winner from the crisis
According to Maj Gen Kakar, China will operationally gain by understanding that the west is not going to intervene militarily easily. And this opens doors for China to expand its operations. China is also expected to gain economically with Russian gas not going to Europe, would be pumped towards China and it will come at a far cheaper rate. It’s important to realize that the Russian income was largely flowing from its gas supplies to Europe, which was lesser than the gas going to China because of the costs being high. Now with it coming to China at a lesser rate, there would be an impact on the Russian economy and China would give in.
Started in San Francisco by Silicon valley based entrepreneurs Sudha Varadarajan and Arish Ali, Swell launched at SXSW in 2021 and in India, shortly after that. It is the first asynchronous voice-based social platform in India. The asynchronous nature of the platform not only makes it easier for listeners to catch up whenever they want but also improves the quality of the conversation by allowing for prior prep. Conversations on Swell are nuanced, thoughtful, and imperfect to promote authenticity, safety, and relatability in social networking. Every post on Swell is up to 5 min of audio and can have links and photos. Swell follows a no ad-based business model to prioritize user experience and monetization will be driven by offering premium tools and Swellcasts.
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