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Buying Predator Drones From The US Could Cost India Heavily

11/06/2016 8:41 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
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FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night. Amnesty International calls on the U.S. to investigate reported civilian casualties from CIA drone strikes in Pakistan and compensate victims in a report providing new details about innocent citizens allegedly killed in the attacks. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

One of the highlights of Prime Minister Modi's latest US trip was the admission of India in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Apart from being a stepping stone to NSG membership, it is important because it opens doors for various defence deals involving missile and drone technology. What is not really being highlighted though, is the fact that the US is planning to sell predator drones to India, as an immediate consequence of this deal. This could have huge consequences for India.

Relying on technology which increases the capabilities of destruction, without guaranteeing reasonable accuracy, will simply amplify the current problems in Kashmir.

Predator Drones have a dodgy history, especially in northwestern Pakistan. Of course this fact is ill reported in the mainstream US media. No country likes knowing about the bad deeds being carried out by its military. Word of the recklessness of the US drone program, however, has still got through to some popular American media. Criticism notwithstanding, there have been nine times more strikes (in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia) under Obama's presidency than Bush's. Noble Peace Prize winner, ladies and gentlemen! Even with the state of the art capabilities of the US Army, the current surveillance and intelligence is not sufficient to identify drone targets with complete accuracy. In the hands of the Indian military, one can only expect worse!

Now, the US can afford to experiment with the drones because they are not doing it on their own soil. The civilian casualties are merely collateral damage and more importantly, merely Pakistanis. We, however, are more likely, for now, to use the drones in our own country as neither Pakistan nor China is going to allow India to fly armed drones in their territory.

Just like we "guarded" net neutrality through a social media campaign, we can tell the government to not waste money on harmful toys.

It doesn't take a genius to realize where the Indian military would use their drones. India is seemingly impressed by the use of predator drones in northern Pakistan. Probably because of the similarity of the terrain with Kashmir. One could argue how much the drone attacks are responsible for the insurgency and chaos seen in Northern Pakistan, but only a fool will say that they have had zero contribution. Pakistan has been struggling to counter the terrorism emanating from that zone, leading to more drone attacks. It is a vicious circle and it is only getting worse.

This is not to say that all military action in Kashmir should be stopped. That would be a disaster of Iraq proportions. But relying on technology which increases the capabilities of destruction, without guaranteeing reasonable accuracy, will simply amplify the current problems in Kashmir. Previous experience with Predator drones have taught us that much.

The solution, thankfully, is simple. We are not obliged to buy the drones being sold to us. Just like we "guarded" net neutrality through a social media campaign, we can tell the government to not waste money on harmful toys. Drones are not deterrents, and their use so far has only led to increasing chaos.

So if you get time off from outraging over censorship, help save some lives from unreliable technology. The money could be used for better purposes. To be on the right side of history, say #NoToPredatorDrones.

This post was first published on Idea Bhandaar.

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