Posted: May 4th, 2012 | Author: Tom van der Made | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Military, Nuclear Dispute
On Thursday the 19th of April, India launched the so called “Agni-V” missile with a range of 5,000km. Next to the UN Security Council its permanent members, namely the USA, France, UK, China and Russia, India now demonstrated to be the sixth nation of the world openly capable to develop, produce and build long-range ballistic missiles.
As India is a rising power, it seems naïve to think that India can continue to develop as a global economic power without also brining its defence capabilities up to standards. Can this be stated as the logical next step and the reason for this military development? Or is it that India wants to catch up to China. Or is India sending out a message, as this new missile is able to reach major Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. CBC news reports that Ravi Gupta, a spokesman for the Defence Research and Development Organization, states however that “there is no threat to anybody” and that “our missile systems are purely for deterrence and to meet our security needs.
According to Martin McCauley, an international affairs analyst, “If you want to be a big player and to be at the top table nowadays you’ve got to be a nuclear power. And secondly, you must have intercontinental ballistic missiles which can carry nuclear warheads. If you have these two, you’re really a big boy and you’re listened to. Therefore, it was inevitable that India would, in fact, attempt to attain that status.“
So it seems that it is just a strategic step as growing world power. Especially when considering an arms race with China seems one to be lost. This in comparison, China’s arsenal includes the Dongfeng 5A with an estimated range of 13,000km. In addition China has 66 land-based intercontinental missile launchers, while India has none. However a milestone for India, for China it should not be something to be too worried about.
On the other hand, India is a country were more than half of the population lives on less than 1.5 dollar a day. This raises the question whether the 500 million dollar for the missile and 46 billion dollar spent on buying weapons in 2011 is well spent? Certainly when comparing the amount of money spend on education and health which adds up to “only” 17.5 billion dollars according to broadcast network Al Jazeera.
As the missile launch clearly did not receive the amount of criticism as witnessed with the Korean missile test the week before, India seemed to have reached a national milestone without making world nations feel anxious. As some say the money should have been spent with different priorities, this can be said for many other countries as well. According to website of US government spending, the US military defence spending was approximately 768 billion dollar. So when looking at the opportunity costs when it comes to military spending, while poverty is ever present all around the world, is to be criticised in general.