India's strategic missiles arsenal ranging from Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM) to Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBM) and Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and not forgetting Sea Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) would have been completed by now. India's strategic missiles arsenal is still devoid of ICBM and SLBM assets and it is not because India's scientists are found wanting in technological skills or the drive and innovation to design and fabricate these vital strategic assets.
India's strategic missiles arsenal is incomplete in terms of ICBM and SLBM capabilities because successive Indian Governments have been soft-pedaling these programs, not because of lack of funds, but because of an inordinate and unjustifiable concern for United States sensitivities particularly. None of the major powers of the world who wield these arsenals themselves welcome India's acquisition of ICBM and SLBM capabilities for obvious reasons.
The major question that India at large would and should ask its political leaders is that are India's national security requirements and imperatives going to be decided in foreign capitals or whether these vital decisions are going to be taken in New Delhi? India's political leaders at the helm in different political dispensations in New Delhi have buckled down to external pressures in the pursuit of India's strategic missiles development. They have displayed a regrettable lack of political will in doing so.
The recent success of the AGNI III missile test highlights that despite temporary setbacks which are a part of any experimentation process, India's defense scientists have high motivation levels to rise upto to India's national aspirations and strategic requirements, provided there is the requisite political backup support.
While still on this aspect it also needs to be said that India's defense scientists and nuclear scientists should neither be demeaned nor criticized as half the time these are motivated plants in the Indian media to serve external ends. The most disturbing trend noticed recently has been the tendency of the Indian foreign policy establishment including former foreign secretaries and senior diplomats to criticize Dr Kakodkar and the Department Of Atomic Energy for being unyielding on their serious objections on the US Draft 123 Agreement i.e. the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. The foreign policy establishment fails to realize that India's nuclear scientists are safeguarding India's strategic autonomy and are not in the business of scoring diplomatic brownie points. When India's national security interests are at stake there is no place for diplomatic brownie points.
Reverting back to the completion of India's strategic missiles arsenal it needs to be emphasized that speedy development and successful testing of ICBM and SLBM missiles has now become an inescapable strategic imperative. As a country which aspires to be a global power, India needs to have a global reach in terms of her strategic assets so as to add the necessary muscle to her foreign policies. Great powers do not emerge on the shoulders of soft power as per the prevailing misperception in India.
China as an emerging global power is feared and grudgingly respected all over the world not only because of her stupendous economic growth but backing her economic might is the strength of her strategic missiles arsenal which enables her to ignore political and strategic coercion from any quarter. China's strategic arsenal is invariably factored in when brinkmanship is resorted to against China.
India too needs to follow the same model and ensure that it does not allow coercive pressure from any quarter to impede or slow down her strategic missiles program. In fact it needs to place the ICBM and SLBM programs on a fast track basis so as to make up for the wasted years when it was being illogically concerned about external sensitivities. Political support in an unreserved and unapologetic manner coupled with sizeable financial resources should be provided by India's political leadership.