Admiral J G Nadkarni (retd)

Admiral (retired) J G Nadkarni was one of the most articulate officers ever to serve the Indian armed forces. A former chief of naval staff, he is a frequent contributor to these pages.

Risking the future   - January 16, 2003
'The worst mistake India can make is not to take Pervez Musharraf seriously. That was the mistake we made in the eighties when scientists kept telling our leaders that Pakistan's nuclear programme was 'ten years behind us'.'

Puny counties treat India with contempt   - December 31, 2002
'India will only be respected when it becomes an economic giant.'

Assessing old bonds   - December 18, 2002
'Indo-Russian relations have become pure business. Russia now looks to India to keep its defence industry afloat.'

When the Gods smiled on India   - December 4, 2002
'Today when terrorism racks the nation, when people are beginning to divide along communal and caste lines, when the future does not look too bright, it does the soul good to look back and remember that electric year which began with uncertainty and ended in triumph.'

Towards a brutal nation   - November 23, 2002
'If there is one thing the terrorists have succeeded in bringing about, it is the gradual transformation of India from a civilised, law abiding society into a brutal, violent population.'

Hollow promises on defence exports   - November 12, 2002
'The government must disband its defence empire or at least relax its monopoly and stranglehold on this vital sector.'

A cup half-full   - October 26, 2002
'To put it bluntly General Musharraf has called our bluff. Whatever gloss the government's spin doctors put on it, our first efforts at gunboat diplomacy have failed.'

Scourge of the 'bandh'   - October 17, 2002
'When disaster strikes other countries, they work that much harder to make up for lost time and production. But Indians declare bandhs.'

This battle will be won   - September 27, 2002
'If Gandhinagar proved one thing it is that the Indian nation has now come of age. The country has shown that it is made of far sterner stuff than one suspected.'

A world beyond boundaries   - September 13, 2002
'Our chauvinism and paranoia about foreigners is making us out of sync with the increasingly liberal and supranational atmosphere that is beginning to pervade the world.'

Lost opportunities   - August 29, 2002
'Unfortunately, thanks to wrong priorities, misguided policies and a total absence of clear direction, we still continue to be a major importer of defence equipment.'

A question of accountability   - August 16, 2002
'Our elected leaders do not seem overly familiar with the word accountability. In a democracy an elected leader is fully accountable for his action and lack of it, for his achievements and failures to the people.'

Plight of the ants   - August 7, 2002
'No group of people has suffered as much due to the Indo-Pak standoff as the poor fishermen of Gujarat and Kutch. A large number still continues to wallow in each other's jails for years on end with no great hope in sight.'

Plagued by gerontocracy   - July 22, 2002
'Old age is for golf, crossword puzzles and tending roses. But the only people who do not seem to retire in India are politicians and bureaucrats.'

Now for the long haul   - July 4, 2002
'The Indian people must be prepared for the long haul. They will have to understand that combating terrorism may take decades. There may be many setbacks along the way but they must have enough faith in their armed forces and the government.'

The forgotten soldier   - June 20, 2002
'Many Indian soldiers have their graves in the fields of Europe. Does anyone remember them? Has any Indian prime minister ever expressed a desire to visit these sites and lay a wreath?'

The nuclear possibility   - June 7, 2002
'A number of senior officers believe that nuclear weapons will never be used. Such belief, however, makes a mockery of the nuclear deterrence theory.'

Towards an unwinnable war   - May 23, 2002
'Unlike Israel, India faces an adversary which is militarily strong. In fact the Indian Army has only marginal superiority over the Pakistan Army on the western border.'

An untainted force   - May 15, 2002
'So far the services have been an example to the country. But how long before some of the men fall prey to extremist views?'

The cost of confrontation   - April 19, 2002
'India has achieved the maximum it is likely to achieve by eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation. The results are not commensurate with the expenses. The time has come to cut costs and normalise relations with our neighbour.'

Trial by the media   - April 10, 2002
'In most democracies a person is deemed to be innocent until he is tried and convicted. Not in India, where accusations, however wild they may be, are proof of final guilt.'

Unworthy selections   - March 28, 2002
'The services seriously need to introspect to determine whether these time-honoured systems have produced the desired results. By now each service has had its quota of problematic and undeserving senior officers.'

Where have all the leaders gone?   - March 9, 2002
'Gujarat 2002 will be remembered as the time when the nation's leadership, central and state, shirked responsibility and allowed a state to burn.'

Defence budget blues   - February 27, 2002
'If we continue to spend so heavily on defence. In that case the terrorists would have achieved their aim, of making this country suffer economically, one way or other.'

The reality of war   - February 12, 2002
'The three wars fought against Pakistan since Independence are known more for their civility than barbarity. Both India and Pakistan may not be so lucky the next time around.'

Doing your own thing   - January 25, 2002
'One fails to understand why the sacking of Lt Gen Kapil Vij should raise the national hackles. No eyebrows are raised when a coach is dismissed if his team loses frequently or a corporate bigwig is shown the door.'

Our superiority will prevail   - January 9, 2002
'Pakistan is neither Afghanistan nor is it Grenada or Panama. But if it comes to war, the Indian Navy is more than a match for Pakistan,' says Admiral (retd) J G Nadkarni.

The limits of power   - December 26, 2001
'Sabre-rattling rhetoric may be suitable for public consumption and for winning an election, but it cannot be a substitute for cold appraisal and a sensible appreciation of the situation.'

Wood for the trees   - December 14, 2001
'Not a single citizen grudges even crores spent on India's armed forces provided he knows where the money is going and that we are getting the appropriate defence we are paying for.'

Boundary control
'Do people in Mumbai and Karachi perpetually want to remain under the threat of a submarine-launched nuclear missile? It may not be long before this scenario becomes a reality. The time to prevent it is now.'

A coalition at sea   - November 15, 2001
'Now is the chance for India to show some statesmanship and push for an Indian Ocean coalition force to combat terrorism at sea. For the threat is real and immediate.'

The Indian Navy's white elephant   - November 2, 2001
'If Vajpayee inks the Gorshkov deal during his visit to Moscow, it will be the most illogical purchase ever between India and Russia.'

By George, he's back!   - October 16, 2001
'In his earlier tenure, George Fernandes showed he was neither a tool of the bureaucrats nor a darling of the armed forces. Many tough decisions remain to be made in his second stint. His reputation will be made by his ability to take them.'

Remember Kashmir?   - October 12, 2001
'We still seem to expect other countries which have nothing in common with Kashmir to come to our aid. The prime minister may be a good letter writer but that is not going to move George Bush.'

The fight begins at home   - September 27, 2001
'India has no moral right to talk about world terrorism when it tolerates terrorism at home. Which country would want such a soft ally on its side in the fight against terrorism?'

The fight against terrorism has to start NOW!   - September 12, 2001
'India has been incensed at Pakistan's support for terrorists but it must be remembered that in the eighties it supported the LTTE rebels in Sri Lanka. India would do well to clean up the skeletons in its cupboard before joining the international fight against terrorism.'

Give him something to fight for   - September 6, 2001
'India's army is poorly paid, badly armed and preserves the integrity of this country in some of the most inhospitable areas of the world. Yet every man in it is willing to lay down his life because he loves his country. But Indians cannot take this patriotism for granted.'

Pearl Harbour -- no, not the movie   - August 23, 2001
'Pearl Harbour established a number of tenets of modern warfare. The battleship as the main weapon of naval warfare was finished. In fact no nation ever built a battleship after 1942.'

The end of tradition   - August 8, 2001
'The new policy of replacing the ensign appears to be Navy's efforts to get on the swadeshi bandwagon. Will we also now obliterate the names of the Navy's first four chiefs and remove their portraits from South Block?'

Do India and Pakistan want IMF to dictate a solution?   - July 25, 2001
'Today practically every long standing problem is being solved with the help of third party mediation. If India and Pakistan do not want them to meddle, there is little time to lose in solving the Kashmir issue.'

The voices of reason   - July 11, 2001
'Will the summit hand over a future of peace or will it succumb to squabbles where every citizen is in fear of being wiped out in a nuclear holocaust? The world will be watching.'

Sirs, why not arms control?   - June 25, 2001
'The self-destructive arms race is detrimental. Pakistan has been the first to blink. In the not too distant future the Indian economy also will not be able to sustain the massive expenditure.'

Looking for peace on the Arabian Sea   - June 11, 2001
'Even after 50 years, India and Pakistan have failed to demarcate the maritime boundary between them. The hapless fishermen caught on either side, languish in jail for years and no one gives a damn about them.'

CDS -- stymied for now   - May 24, 2001
'The timing of introducing the CDS is all wrong. We have a chief who opposes the proposal. After the Bhagwat episode and the Tehelka scandal, the last thing the present government would want is another service controversy.'

Does India remember its war heroes?   - May 10, 2001
'Indians won the second highest number of Victoria Crosses in the world. But an ungrateful nation just gave each winner an extra Rs 90 per month and called it "jangi inam."

Who will slay the defence dragon?   - April 26, 2001
'Until the basic flaws in the defence structure and organisation are eliminated, it will be difficult to bring even a modicum of efficiency into the way the nation's defence is conducted.'

Who cares if Soviet ships were new or old?   - April 6, 2001
'Why did the Indian Navy put up with such humiliating and one-sided conditions when purchasing ships from the Soviet Union? To start with we were beggars, not choosers. Rejected by the west, we had no other source of supply except the Soviet Union.'

Is corruption endemic in India's defence forces?   - March 22, 2001
'The chiefs of our defence forces must ponder over the reasons for the gradual but alarming eradication of moral values in the armed forces and the growth of the 5-star culture, which is making armed forces personnel easy prey to bribery and corruption.'

Tehelka or tera kya?   - March 15, 2001
'The defence ministry can no longer hide behind the Official Secrets Act. Until each and every contract, its financial outlays, the offers of the bidders and terms and conditions of the contracts are openly published, corruption will continue in the armed forces.'

The defence budget: Lost opportunities   - March 14, 2001
'The Indian defence budget must possibly be the most opaque document in the world. For the average taxpaying citizen it is impossible to find out where the money is going. If he tries to be more inquisitive than normal, he may find himself arrested under the draconian Official Secrets Act.'

The sad tale of the LCA   - January 13, 2001
'During the last 20 years, DRDO has fine-tuned the art of selling projects. To start with, don't be timid and aim low. In true Parkinsonian style, the more ambitious the project, greater the chance of it being sanctioned.'

Rewriting history   - December 23, 2000
'Official history need not necessarily be true history. Indeed, there is no such thing as 'true' history. There are only different versions of the same event.'

It's communications, stupid   - November 22, 2000
'Today, thanks to satellite communications, sailors at sea can watch Sachin Tendulkar score a century, receive birthday greetings by e-mail or send and receive faxes.'

CDS - An idea before its time   - November 8, 2000
'Except for heredity, the concept that young, able and outstanding people should leapfrog over others is totally repugnant and unacceptable to Indian ethos, certainly to the military.'

The road to good neighbourliness   - October 27, 2000
'The two neighbours India and Pakistan, appear to be happy nursing their bruised egos and feeding on their pride. And yet, there is so much to be gained in mutual rapprochement, certainly in the maritime area.'

Putin and after   - October 6, 2000
The $ 4 billion defence agreement signed between India and Russia during President Putin's visit only confirms the growing arms race in the subcontinent as a reality. Secondly, it perpetuates our continuing dependence on Russia for arms supplies. And finally, it exposes the futility of our drive for self-reliance.'

Myths and traditions   - September 20, 2000
'Are we really interested in finding out that our victories in 1965 and 1971 were myths, that it was really not the Indian Army which won but Pakistan which lost? Or that the war might have ended earlier had the Air Force been called? And pray, what lessons are we required to learn from what is touted as "the true history of 1965"?'

Defending the middleman   - September 6, 2000
'Following the Bofors scandal the government had imposed a blanket ban on the use of middlemen and agents in defence deals. But now that the Vigilance Commission has recommended the restoration of the status quo ante, the Defence Ministry would do well to show more pragmatism and once again install the agent as an intermediary in defence deals who performs useful service prior to, during and after negotiations and procurement.'

Safety down under   - August 21, 2000
'The recent accident to Kursk, the Russian nuclear submarine and the loss of its entire crew is of course, not the first to a submarine nor will it be the last. Ever since submarines made their entry into naval warfare during the early part of this century, there have been a number of accidents involving collisions, grounding, explosions and fires.'

Pakistan gets a new naval port   - July 27, 2000
'The port in Ormara will give the Pakistani navy greater confidence in future action and have considerable effects on the strategy and tactics of both the Indian and Pakistani navies in a future war.'

Does India need to invest Rs 9,000 crore on a Russian aircraft carrier?   - July 13, 2000
'If it goes through, the purchase of the Gorshkov will be the largest single defence deal India would have entered into since Independence. The cost of the carrier and the aircraft is equal to the entire Indian naval budget for the past three years. Is such an enormous expenditure on the carrier worth it, asks Admiral J G Nadkarni (retd).

India's forces must join or perish   - June 8, 2000
If ever the Indian government decides to intervene in Sri Lanka, militarily or to render 'humanitarian assistance', it will have to be a joint operation involving the three Services, just as in 1987-90. Very few operations today, which involve the military, are single Service events

Hard decision on Sri Lanka   - May 18, 2000
'The time has come to put our money where our mouth is. By helping Sri Lanka militarily now we would have once and for all demonstrated our determination to preserve the territorial integrity of not only our neighbouring states but also of India itself.'

Towards a just service   - May 18, 2000
'It should strike India's armed forces that their present method of dispensing extra-legal justice smacks of human rights violations.'

The charm of the Russian connection has gone forever   - March 31, 2000
'The Indian Navy will be paying some Rs 4,500 crore for three Russian frigates and two submarines, according to a contract signed in 1997. This is more than the total we have paid for all the ships in the past thirty years.'

The Russian connection   - March 23, 2000
'As a result of its lopsided policy, the US not only helped India win the naval war of 1971, but also helped its armed forces to become the most powerful in South Asia.'

General Musharraf must be smiling   - March 4, 2000
'If the allocation for defence in the Indian budget is any indication, then Pakistan's leaders have achieved all their aims in the Kargil conflict. General Musharraf's strategy has worked perfectly and India has fallen for it hook, line and sinker.'

Today defence spending is being linked to national pride and patriotism   - February 17, 2000
'Both countries of the subcontinent are so obsessed with their defence apparatus that it is sometimes difficult to perceive what they are trying to defend. Is it the largest poverty stricken population in the world?'

Sharing the spoils   - February 3, 2000
'In India, it is mostly the officers who do the fighting. The jawans either watch from the sidelines or do not show any courage. How else can one explain the lopsided preponderance of officers in the gallantry awards?'

The arithmetic of a hijacking   - January 8, 2000
'It took more than 48 hours for the country's Crisis Management Group to come to grips with the problem. Since when have babus been able to manage a crisis? It is the country's misfortune to have an Intelligence Bureau without intelligent people.'

The superhighway to nowhere   - November 17, 1999
'How much did the Kargil operation cost? How much did the Mysore cost? How much will the leasing of AWACS aircraft from Russia cost? These are all legitimate questions, which the taxpayer would like to know. Yet try asking them in close proximity of the South Block and you will most probably be arrested as a Pakistani spy.'

The BJP and its allies are perfectly justified in claiming credit for Kargil   - October 17, 1999
'India's armed forces would like to keep their distance from politics. But will the politicians leave the services alone? Even in the most advanced democracies political interference in the nation's armed forces is always inherent.'

'The Indian army is a force with first rate men, second rate officers and third rate equipment'   - August 17, 1999
'The Indian army spends 85 per cent of its annual budget on paying and maintaining its force. From time to time, successive chief have talked about a lean and mean force. But sadly, the fat and the flab remain.'

After victory, let us be magnanimous   - July 22, 1999
'By his resolve, dignity and restraint, Atal Bihari Vajpayee has won the war. That was the easy part. Now by magnanimity and generoisty let him win the peace.'

The Video War   - July 8, 1999
'You can trust television to reduce a serious war to the level of a Bollywood potboiler. Television is now close to vulgarising the Kargil conflict.'

Raising the Nuclear Threshold   - June 17, 1999
Why Vikrant should become a national monument   - May 14, 1999
The Battle of Raisina Hill   - April 13, 1999
Why are we so apathetic about defence expenditure?   - March 3, 1999
A lean, mean fighting force   - February 9, 1999
A time to heal   - January 22, 1999
The Bhagwat episode: Morale is not a porcelain vase that it can break easily   - January 5, 1999
A chief's right to have his team has to be tempered with equity and justice   - December 30, 1998
In defence of bureaucrats   - November 16, 1998
Nuclear tests: The balance sheet   - June 1, 1998
All the nuclear missiles are not worth a hydrogen atom if they do not lead to less defence spending   - May 15, 1998
Only conscription can end army's manpower woes   - April 18, 1998
Defence Budget Blues   - April 4, 1998
Mutiny Over The Bounty   - March 14, 1998
The Saffron Undervest   - March 7, 1998
India is caught in the vice-like jaws of the Graph of Absurdity   - November 18, 1996