By Staff Correspondent
In the face of evolving warfare dynamics, India is strategically fortifying its cyber defences. This move marks a crucial milestone in the country’s modernisation efforts, prioritising digital transformation and indigenous research and development (R&D). With the increasing risks of a multi-pronged 2.5 Front War, India recognises the need to address historical vulnerabilities and reduce its heavy reliance on imports, especially from Russia.
The Importance Of Self-reliance In Technology
Having learned from past experiences such as the United States-enforced Global Positioning System (GPS) data embargo during the Kargil War, India has understood the importance of self-reliance in safeguarding national defence. The ongoing high-tech Ukraine War further highlights the urgency for nations worldwide to rethink their military strategies. Defence observers such as Colonel (Dr) Rajan Bakshi (r), Director of Amity Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (ACDSA), and Rakesh Krishnan Simha emphasise the role of disruptive technologies in India’s military transformation.
This transformation, being brought about as a part of India’s comprehensive modernisation strategy, encompasses cyber warfare, Command, Control, Communications, Computers (C4), Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, anti-satellite (ASAT) weaponry, drones, and artificial intelligence (AI).
No Dearth Of Challenges
Pursuing AI-based autonomous weapons and precision targeting poses several challenges. Such weapons and warfare lie outside of the scope of most traditional military doctrines. Refining and redefining the doctrines in use, recruiting skilled personnel as well as training those already in service on new platforms is a gigantic task. However, even before that, the bigger job is to allocate limited resources to the development of AI-based autonomous military technology.
Allocation of funds and paucity of time are pressing concerns. There is not enough training data available yet, and for the synergy between academia and industry to fully develop requires some incubation time, too. To add on, questions about accountability of such systems, and transparency in their use loom large.
To navigate these obstacles, India leverages its 10-year modernisation program and the Make-in-India initiative, focusing on boosting domestic industries and acquiring and developing key technologies. Collaborations with local industries, exemplified by the RTN-Pune model, are instrumental in addressing the military’s fundamental challenges.
Through the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-reliant India Mission), the Indian government advocates for domestic defence production. Defence analyst Rakesh Krishnan Simha envisions that by encouraging public-private partnerships, curbing import lobbying, and incentivising domestic production, India can foster homegrown defence giants on par with international powerhouses like Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman. Such a development would herald a new era of technological dominance and defence self-reliance for India.
AI plays a pivotal role in India’s modernisation endeavours. Lieutenant General Shivane (r), author and defence analyst, suggests that strategic AI deployment in military operations can offer innovative solutions, solidifying India’s position in potential conflicts. However, as emphasised by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, integrating AI into military operations requires careful calibration of human-machine interactions.
India’s strategic approach, commitment to AI, and adoption of cutting-edge technologies, coupled with its growing self-reliance and technological prowess, exemplify its resolve to establish itself as a formidable global power. This aligns with the vision outlined in India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) ‘Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap’. That document recognises the significance of technological supremacy for future military success.
Despite challenges on the horizon, India’s ongoing journey to reinforce national security and expand its economic and geopolitical influence reflects its aspirations to remain a significant player on the global stage.