There has been a lot of articles in the past few weeks on whether India should consider military options in Maldives. This has been debated quite a bit, with equally valid arguments raised in favour of either. The question I am trying to answer here is, will India intervene militarily. Lets approach this through the lens of the organisations that are involved in taking the decision, their past history with such decisions, their organisational limitations etc.
The two most important primary actors in such a decision would be the Indian armed forces and the political executive. Lets discuss how these organisations have been working in the past.
The armed forces
The armed forces of India has been involved in several military operations in the past. Most of these operations have primarily been either peacekeeping or rescue operations, or issues that directly affected India. Lets look at some of the operations carried out by India since independence.
The first Kashmir war and the second Kashmir wars were about the sovereignty of parts of the country. The Sino-Indian war also concerned sovereignty. India involved itself in the Bangladesh Liberation war because of the rising cost of handling refugees from Bangladesh. In Srilanka, India supposedly entered as part of counter insurgency operations, although the way this played out went the wrong way. The other episode where India involved in foreign soil was in Maldives where issues were caused by LTTE from Srilanka.
Other operations that India gets involved in is border patrolling, peacekeeping and rescue operations.
Based on this history, we should hope that while the Indian armed forces has been continuously involved in operations. there has been very little history of direct involvement in conflict of a foreign nation unless the impact to India is considerable. By considerable, what I mean is that it is a direct impact on the sovereignty of the country. The only exceptions for this are operations in Srilanka and Maldives. In Srilanka, there was a domestic connection in people within Tamil Nadu, and Maldives had a Srilankan connection.
However, with the recent change in the political executive, Indian foreign policy has changed quite a bit. India has not been shy at pursuing its interest. In the military arena, there are quite a few examples where India has launched an offensive in foreign soil to protect its own interest — counter insurgency raid in Myanmar, surgical strikes in Pakistan(or rather the public acceptance by the govt. of surgical strikes). India’s stand with China, also has seen a change in recent times. The recent Doklam standoff is an example where the armed forces and the political executive were involved in asserting its stand.
Given what has happened in recent times, if you consider if the armed forces would decide to participate in a standoff in Maldives similar to the one in Doklam, it does not seem like a far fetched possibility.
The political executive
We would expect organisations to not change considerably when people change. While this is largely true, the recent change in the political executive in India in 2014 (the BJP govt. ) was an almost complete replacement of the political executive where most people at the helm have never been in that position. This has led to a marked difference in at least some angles. For example, there have been bold moves within the country such as demonetisation, huge political achievements in GST implementation and a considerably assertive stand in foreign policy. With respect to decisions involving the political executive and the armed forces, the joint strategies that were planned — the surgical strikes, Doklam standoff, counter insurgency in Myanmar — were a marked departure from how we have been traditionally handling international issues. One thing that has not changed with this political executive was the interest in remaining in power. The most apt way to prove this would be to read the most recent union budget.
So, what would an organisation that has acted assertively with China in the recent past, needs a topic to discuss in the next elections that does not involve demonetisation or GST implementation do? I think the foreign ministry is just bluffing its way through and planning a military offensive in Maldives. What exactly is in their mind thoug
What do you think?