Pride of India

FIRST EDIT


With the launch of its nuclear submarine INS Arihant for trials, India has moved a significant step closer towards developing the third leg of its nuclear triad. The submarine is now under water and will undergo a series of rigourous trials in the coming months.
Once it passes these tests, INS Arihant will be formally inducted into the Indian Navy. Developing a nuclear submarine  involves a very high degree of technological expertise, a skill that only five other countries have displayed so far. With the launch of its first indigenously-developed nuclear submarine India has joined this exclusive club. Indian scientists who have developed INS Arihant with some help from the Russians must be congratulated for their splendid work.

India’s air and land based nuclear infrastructure are vulnerable in the event of a nuclear strike by an adversary. A nuclear submarine however are hard to detect and therefore  India could use it in a second strike and inflict severe devastation. Its a potent nuclear deterrent. Besides INS Arihant, India is developing two other SSBNs. It is also leasing a Russian attack submarine, which is due to arrive by the end of this year.

Strategic experts are saying that this might not be enough given the nature of India’s neighbourhood. They are pointing to China’s robust nuclear submarine fleet, which is believed to include 11 nuclear submarines and in the process of developing another dozen at least. It is true that China’s nuclear submarine is formidable compared with that of India. But India must avoid getting dragged into a numbers game. India’s security against a nuclear strike can be achieved with a credible minimum nuclear deterrent. This does not require a large number of nuclear submarines. During the Cold War, the US and the former Soviet Union spent trillions of dollars trying to outdo each other in the nuclear weapons game. The nuclear deterrence they were trying to build could have been achieved with fewer nuclear warheads, missiles and submarines. India must avoid repeating their blunders. Nuclear submarines do not come cheap. INS Arihant is a proud achievement for the country and is an asset. But it could become the start of a ruinous spending on nuclear submarines if the defence establishment acts in a reckless manner and aspires for more submarines.

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