With so much fanfare, wall-to-wall coverage, images and live feeds of take-off from Mérignac to mid-year refuelling to take a pit stop in Al Dhafra to finally landing in Ambala. After this unprecedented showcasing of a ferry flight, the Rafales are finally here. Five. Game-Changers.
Whether these fighter planes are ‘game-changers’ or not, only time will tell, but what does it say about us, as a nation. That we are a nation of a massive population which is immature, ill-informed, egoistic and start celebrating a little too early.
Unlike everyone in this country, I am not a defence expert but since I have family members who are serving in the forces, the limited knowledge I have acquired tells me that the proper operational deployment of aircraft may take up to six months. Because it is never about just buying an aircraft, in modern warfare, the equipment needs time, acclimatization and inter-operability with radars, missile systems and electronics. Though, due to the current situation at the LAC, it may be done sooner.
The way our media is going berserk that Pakistan and China are shivering and having nightmares and umpteen YouTube ‘content’ creators are uploading digital illustrations how Rafales can blow J20s and F16s in no time, there must be a call for restraint. There is no doubt these are among the most advanced and sophisticated fighter planes but these five are not going to shift the power balance towards India immediately. We must stop this tamasha and build our capabilities silently and steadily. The Generals sitting in Rawalpindi or in CMC Beijing don’t need our news anchors’ creative expressions to know our military strength. They know.
The problem with us Indians is that we get too excited too soon, just like children do. Another problem is that we are just too proud of ourselves. Nobody can deny that we are among the oldest civilizations and we have a glorious history and we must take pride in that but great nations are built not only by history but also by what they contribute to the world. Respect comes from economy, culture, freedom, art, sports, innovations, medicine and scientific contributions. Unfortunately, we have not been able to keep pace.
Successive governments in our country, however, could not create channels to unleash this potential. We are a young nation with the highest manpower reserve in the world. Fifty percent of our population is below the age of 25, where the average age is 29, compared to 37 for China. What are our youngsters creating? Nothing? They are watching porn or making moronic Tik-Tok videos on their cheap Chinese handsets using cheap Jio mobile data.
I saw an interview with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook a few years back where he was asked if the reason for Apple to manufacture iPhone in China is cheap labour. He said, “No”. The reason is, in China, you can fill an entire football stadium with skilled manpower. India has to do the same. We must equip our people with skills and shun the social mores of a degree loving nation if we want to even compete with China.
Nations are adored, which have a big heart. India has always been a cultural embracer and a spiritual anchor, and we must never forget that. So, while hanging on to our legacy, traditions and history, if we keep our arms wide open, we can become a compelling brand story. In the meantime, we can just start behaving and stop embarrassing ourselves with the needless thrill of ‘Indian‘ Kamala Harris running for VP. It’s our weight which will define this American’s India foreign policy, not her lineage.