• 25 November, 2022
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Crystal Gazing 2022: India and The World

Cdr Sandeep Dhawan (Retd) Thu, 30 Dec 2021   |  Reading Time: 6 minutes

If we thought 2019 and 2020 presented uncertainties then 2022 is here to surprise all of us. It could be remembered as one of the most complex, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous years in the recent past.

COVID-19, oil crossing $100/barrel, Iran-US nuclear talks, Iran-Israel tension, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, cryptocurrency, and militarization of outer space are the obvious choices of topics that would continue to occupy most news items and human mindscape in 2022. However, I present some of the lesser-known happenings in 2022, that may escape attention but will have long-term effects on India and the world.

China’s Colonization of Latin America and the Pacific

The most profound impact on the world would come from China, and no one is going to like this effect. China would continue to harass and bully neighboring countries. India, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam will be obvious choices of Xi Jinping’s dominance strategy.

China would also continue to spread its influence in the Middle East and Africa but the most important Chinese strategy that would not draw enough attention would be seen in South America and the Pacific. China would take the war (not in the literal sense) to the American doorstep. It will progressively challenge the established American fiefdom in these areas, to keep it engaged in local issues (a similar strategy is being employed in the Indian subcontinent), and keep it away from the South China Sea and Taiwan.

In South America, Brazil’s trade dependence (biggest trading partner), Nicaragua’s technical dependence, Argentina’s financial dependence, Chile’s copper sale dependence (over 10 percent of GDP), Peru, Ecuador, and Uruguay’s exports dependence (28.29, 15.79, and 20.3 percent respectively), and Venezuela’s complete surrender would cost them dearly when the Chinese economy teeters.

China is also on a blitzkrieg of asset purchases in South America. State Grid Corporation of China‘s acquisitions of a power network and Sempra Energy in Chile, State Power Investment Corporation’s purchase of Mexican Zuma Energy, Three Gorges Corporation’s acquisition of Sempra Energy’s assets in Peru are some of the glaring examples of the new age colonization.

Another area that China feels is its backyard and will increasingly challenge the United States is the first island chain (Philippines, Taiwan, Okinawa, and mainland Japan). It also plans to progressively topple the American leadership in the second island chain (Guam, Yap, Saipan, Palau, and the Bonin Islands).

A dual-use wharf construction in Vanuatu, tourism development in Yap (Micronesia), subsidized civilian airport on Canton Island in Kiribati, and leasing of the entire island of Tulagi in the Solomon Islands by China are some of the glaring examples of increased Chinese footprint in the Pacific.

It is alleged that the recent resignations of Micronesia, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Kiribati from the Pacific Islands Forum – the region’s most influential body being supported by Japan, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, was staged by China.

Instead of reforms, China’s crackdown on the tech and property sector, which collectively constitute 60 percent of the Chinese economy, debt to GDP ratio of 290 percent, energy, and food shortages present an outdated economic model. With slogans like ‘Dual Circulation’, today’s China resembles ‘looking inwards’ 15th century Ming dynasty, when Yongle Emperor Zhu Di had cut China off from the world and that resulted in the great fall of China. Therefore 2022 would be the year of economic turmoil. Every country trying to be economically dependent on China would go down along with China. South America and the Pacific Islands are no different.

Russian Roulette in the Black Sea

There seems to be a tacit understanding between Russia and China to take a coordinated aggressive stance in their neighborhood. Although Russia has committed the same mistake with Ukraine what China did with India, it has fared much better than China in its game plan. Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine got it further pushed towards the west whereas the Chinese aggression left various Indian governments no choice but to synergize and produce better results.

In my assessment, Russia is bluffing its way through to put pressure on the west and Ukraine to avoid crossing the red line. For Russia, the red line is, Ukraine joining NATO and the European Union. Out of these two NATO is a bigger Russian concern.

Therefore throughout 2022, Russian troops will keep coming and going around the Ukrainian borders. We may also see some action in the disputed Donetsk and Luhansk region, but nothing beyond that. Russia would keep the United States and the west on the tenterhooks and Ukraine’s NATO joining, a distant dream.

The United States’ Year of Reckoning

Being the sole superpower of the world has made American bureaucracy rigid and the country’s leadership muddle-headed. If anyone they should thank then it is China and Russia, for shaking them out of their slumber.

Today, the US administration sits on trade agreements with Latin American nations for years and let China become their biggest trading partner. Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad meetings shy away from giving concrete plans. Pacific Island nations are getting trapped by China. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is becoming toothless and irrelevant.

However, a lot is about to change in 2022. The US is feeling the heat of unnecessary wars that gave time to countries like China to expand their base, stand up, and challenge the very hand which was feeding it for four decades. 2022 will see Quad addressing many contentious issues. The quad may also see an agreement on the lines of the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) to decouple from China.

The US understands China’s bluff on Taiwan, however, given the higher tempo of military activities in Taiwan Strait, accidental military conflicts like the Cuban missile crisis can’t be ruled out. In my assessment, China would not be ready for another three years before it takes the United States on, and attacks Taiwan.

India’s Year of Capacity and Capability Building

India is on the cusp of achieving greater heights in the coming year. This would be the year of capacity and capability building for India. Just like the US, India should also be thankful to China for shaking her out of the deep slumber. The rude Chinese shock has led to a flurry of Indian defence trials in 2021. So, 2022 would be even more action-packed.

Some of the most prominent and promising trials and procurements in 2022 are:

  • RudraM II, IIA, III: Long-range air-launched anti-radiation missiles with penetration cum blast capabilities for neutralizing enemy radars, communication sites, and other RF emitting targets, range 350 km & 550 km. RudraM II induction into service & trials of RudraM 2A & 3.
  • BrahMos II: Trials of Mach 7 hypersonic cruise missile scheduled to achieve initial operational capability between 2025 and 2028.
  • Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV): Trial planned early 2022, successfully tested Mach 6 scramjet in June 2019 and September 2020. India operates over 12 hypersonic wind tunnels. The present testing capability is Mach 13.
  • Man-Portable Defensive Missile System (MPDMS): Trials in mid-2022. World’s first data-linked autonomous MANPAD system.
  • Astra MK II BVR missile system: 160 km range Air to air missile system production. Astra Mk III will also start trials.
  • K-5 SLBM: 5000 km range Submarine Launched Ballistic missile, trials planned by June 2022.
  • Pralay: India’s first manoeuvrable conventional ballistic missile with Quasi Ballistic Trajectory and range of 500 km.
  • Rafale Fighters: To receive balance of 3 fighters, taking the numbers to 36. Carry out 13 India-specific enhancements, integration of highly capable missiles, low band jammers, satellite communication, helmet-mounted display, ability to start and operate from high altitude airfields, advanced infrared search-and-track sensor, and an electronic jammer pod.
  • Deployment of S-400 air defence system.
  • Rustom-II: 25000 ft altitude and 10 hours endurance indigenous drone to complete trials and go in for production in the first half of 2022.
  • MQ-9B drones, Kamov 226-T helicopters, and the Igla-S Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) systems: Clarity on purchase of these systems from the USA & Russia.
  • Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS): Likely progress in the procurement of 1580 guns.
  • Advance Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA): Clearance and development of Rs 15,000 crore, 25-tonne fifth-generation fighter aircraft to start in 2022, first prototype by 2025-26.
  • Light Utility Helicopter (LUH): Indian Army to receive the first batch of six indigenous helicopters by the end of 2022.
  • LCA (light combat aircraft) Mk-1A: March 2022 deadline to carry out the first flight.
  • INS Vikrant: IAC-1 being built in the Cochin Shipyard, may be inducted into the Indian Navy by end of 2022.
  • INS Vagir: Commissioning of Project 75 submarine.
  • Naval Utility Helicopter: 24 helicopters on a lease, Airbus AS565 MBe naval version is the front runner.
  • Completion of a large number of infrastructure projects including Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna.

In the End

Year’s biggest disappointment would be the European Union. It would shy away from taking a collective stand on the issues of Taiwan and Ukraine. The European Union would continue to recognize China as a business partner rather than a threat. China’s ‘divide and conquer’ strategy would hamper the EU’s efforts to show a united front.

Severe effects of climate change would bring never seen before numbers of super cyclones and tornadoes. Most countries’ militaries would be busy filling sandbags to save shorelines and help out the weather-ravaged countryside. Such freak weather activities would also add to already existing food shortages in the world. Over 45 million people are on the brink of famine across 43 countries. Afghanistan would be leading this bandwagon with the world’s worst food crisis in 2022.

The year would also see collapsed economies like Yemen, Somalia, Syria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Nigeria to exacerbate their economic vexation.

In the end, India’s GDP is expected to grow at 8.5-9.5 percent in 2022, however, the real victory for India would be when per capita income shows real growth along with an internally united India. As the world’s oldest scripture Rig Veda most famously says:

“Samani va akuti samana hridayani vah.
Samanam astu vo mano yatha vah susahasati”

“United be your purpose, harmonious be your feelings, collected be your mind, in the same way as all the various aspects of the universe exist in togetherness, wholeness.”

*****************


Author
A veteran of the Indian Navy, Cdr Dhawan served in the Navy from 1988 to 2009. He was a Maritime Reconnaissance Pilot and a Flying Instructor. He is a geopolitical analyst and writes for various online websites and organizations.

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POST COMMENTS (18)

Kalidan Singh

Jan 27, 2022
Our per capita gdp is $2000. Which means an average Brit is 20 times richer, and average American 30 times richer, and an average Singaporean is 40 times richer - than is an average Indian. So imagine a freshly graduated management school boy making Rs. 2 lakhs per annum suggesting to someone making Rs. 80 lakhs to Rs. I crore a year, that he is something fantastic. What if the boy does not know that other than serving as a buffoon, no one takes him seriously. No one will take us seriously when we talk like this. Thus far, we have shown no capacity to defend ourselves against a third rate aggressor like Pakistan, nor deter their terrorism nor incursions, nor create a government that is not corrupt, parasitic and prevent any progress. We cannot produce a product made fully in India, that anyone will buy in the international market unless it is at a cut rate price. One of our biggest exports is worthless gemstones polished by child labor. Yet, we seem to think we are a super power. Are we aware of our delusion? This article suggests everyone else is in trouble, and we are on a growth curve. Really? We have a communist insurgency financed by China in the heart of India that we cannot address, an active fifth column dedicated to destroying the country from within (the intellectual class), and a business community fully protected by a corrupt government from global competition. What I wonder is so great about us?

KRUSHNA PANDA

Jan 19, 2022
Sir, your article is full of valuable information about future prediction of India and also World

Shipu kumar

Jan 04, 2022
Sir,, your article is absolutely wonderful and greater than gives great to superior level of achievement, I so Proudfull reading this article sir,, 👍

Judithann Campbell

Jan 03, 2022
Thank you, Commander Dhawan, for waking all of us from our slumber! Your writing is such a valuable resource, thank you!

Samarth Dixit

Jan 02, 2022
Another masterclass article.Very well thought of with accurate facts and data makes it an interesting read always.

Col Dilip K Sharma (Retired)

Jan 02, 2022
Great compilation & analysis!

Sukhjit singh

Jan 01, 2022
Happy New year An interesting year ahead. Gripping article

Wendell Bruges

Dec 31, 2021
You are scaring us with your forecast of a gloomy future. I just wonder why is leadership in the free world missing. Why tyrants and despots look like succeeding at present? Thank you so much for your calibrated assessment.

Cdr Deepak Singh

Dec 31, 2021
Very optimistic view of Indian future. But I don't trust HAL and DRDO to deliver in time. Past experiences force me to say so. Hope things change in future. Privatisation in Defence products, started, give me more hope. Waiting for your next article. Keep Smiling.

Jas Dhali

Dec 31, 2021
An excellent article and an interesting read. The analysis of all relevant topics is gripping. Proud of You 😊. Happy New Year 😊🙏

mr. c.a.post

Dec 30, 2021
To call the American leadership muddle-headed would be offensive it it were no SOO true! Our Absent-Mind-in-Chief is only surpassed in hia muddled thinking by his Vice-President (a more appropriate title was never conferred on communist-minded authority: president-of-vice!) The only thing that could make America look worse would be if Trump ran again and won, sinking us into interminable battles with his egomania. For all the good that he DID while president, he needs to grow up and realize his time has passed. And the USA is about to fade into the background as Iran, Israel, Russia and China take center stage in the epoch to follow, which will be short-lived.

GP Singh

Dec 30, 2021
Nicely analysed.

Martina Ramsauer

Dec 30, 2021
Very interesting as usual! Many thanks and, despite everything, a good 2020!

Cdr MCV Jose (Retd)

Dec 30, 2021
Dear Sandeep! Very good analysis! Keep up the great work and Happy New year 💗 Jose

RAMAKRISHNAN Venkat

Dec 30, 2021
Sandeep, it's a great insight into the year ahead with immense clarity. Dragon continues to spread it's wings into far away continents, along with biological weapons like Wuhan Virus Pandemic. Interesting to note likely progressive opportunity available to India in the economic and military sphere.. Strong political leadership and internal security situations are vital to make the best use of the year ahead for progress in India. Happy to read a well analysed write-up from you. Thank you.

Rominad

Dec 30, 2021
Very informative as always and an eye opener as well. Happy to learn about Indian's progress.

Raman Gupta

Dec 30, 2021
A comprehensive roundup. Thanks for sharing Indian achievements, had no idea about the Hypersonic wind tunnels here. That was the only bright spark in an otherwise dreary Outlook. Wish you a great 2022

Rakesh P

Dec 30, 2021
Excellent summation of some of the often-ignored facts, since everyone likes to talk about the most obvious likelihood. Very few dare to venture into the unknown and you are one of them. Bravo.

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