#SOTD 13: The Story behind India’s reluctance to condemn Russia

1. Make me Understand / 5. General

#SOTD 13: The Story behind India’s reluctance to condemn Russia

You might be surprised by the lack of a strong anti-Russia stance taken by the Indian government.​

While there are many theories floating around on Whatsapp, most are unsubstantiated.​

I got a good sense of a crucial element in this narrative: The Indian defence establishment’s massive dependence on Russia.​

In an eye-opening ‘Cut-the-Clutter’ video, leading journalist Shekhar Gupta (I’d once written a post analysing the storytelling techniques he uses) shares some plain facts about the extent of dependence of India on Russia for her defence supplies.​

On seeing the video, I could glean the use of the 6W1H framework by SG.​

The 6W1H is a data storytelling framework that tackles the 7 key questions of a data story:

– What happened

– How much

– When

– Where

– Why

– Why not

– What next

Here’s how SG answers these questions in the video:

– What happened: India has high dependence on Russia for its defence needs​

– How much: While an overall number is not given, across the Army, Navy and Air Force, it is likely to be in excess of two-thirds of all our spending​

– Where: (in which division)

– Air Force: 71% of combat aircraft of Russian origin (further breakups provided in the video)

– Army: About 96% of tanks and 100% of Infantry Fighting vehicles are of Russian origin

– Navy: 10 kilo-class submarines from Russia, our only aircraft carrier and all its combat jets are also Russian origin, 4 frigates being made with Russian and Ukrainian (!) help, 4 out of 10 guided missile destroyers and 6 of 17 Talwar class frigates are from Russia/Soviet Union

(Note: SG shares much more detail in this section, which I’m leaving out)

– (Since) When: Around the 1960s

– Why: So the history is a bit complicated. But broadly, during the Cold War, as Pakistan became close to the US (and also China), India became close to Russia. Post the 1962 China war and 1965 war with Pakistan, India realised that it needed urgent modernisation of its arms and ammunition… and India began to rely more on Russia. (I guess also Russia was more willing to supply to India as against US/EU? I’m not a history expert at all and this video by SG doesn’t delve into the ‘Why’ so much)

– Why not (sourced from others): Again not detailed out very much, but the same reasons as mentioned above would hold.​

– What next: SG is very clear in his implications – India has to reduce its massive dependence on one country for its defence needs, if we want to avoid tying our own hands. He adds “Summer is coming. The Chinese can ratchet up tensions at the border. In such a situation, we cannot have uncertainty in terms of maintenance and resupply of crucial ammunition”

A clear, simple and comprehensive data story.​

Additional point: The story uses credible data from sources such as

  • SIPRI (Stockholm International Peacekeeping Research Institute)
  • The US Congressional Research Service

#SOTD 13

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