A surface-to-surface Agni-V missile is launched from the Wheeler Island off Odisha. (Reuters/DRDO/Handout)
A day after the launch of the Agni V missile, the government-controlled media, both Chinese and English continued to question the state of preparedness of India’s armed forces and the many problems plaguing them and poured scorn over the launch.
Questions were raised about India’s ballistic missile programme regarding its effectiveness. While acknowledging the successful launch, the official television channel, CCTV, said India’s missile programme was riddled with problems.
India, it was pointed out, doesn’t possess a homemade high-precision guidance system for long range missiles to hit targets more than 5000 km away. New Delhi is dependent on foreign technology.
Further, at 50 tonnes, the weight of Agni V could pose a problem in transporting. An unnamed expert claimed that India does not possess the infrastructure, like roads, to quickly transport missiles.And any way, it would take a long time, maybe several years for India to operationalise the missies and induct them into the armed forces.
Chinese language newspapers didn’t lag behind in dismissing the launch. The BBC quoted an editorial in the state-run Chinese newspaper Huanqiu Shibao as saying that India's strategic strike force was in “early childhood” and commented on “the backwardness of Indian missiles”. It was “merely one of the concrete displays of its social and economic development as a whole lagging behind China.”
The BBC quoted another translated comment from the Communist Party newspaper Renmin Wang: Commentator Wu Xuelan wrote that India has always "cherished the dream of becoming a major power" but its social problems “are still very serious” and instead of wasting money on developing missiles, India “should do a better job in terms of [improving] the lives of ordinary people.”
On Friday, CCTV news programme from Washington, titled “missile launch causing stir around the world” said major Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai could be targeted by the Indian missile.
It raised a question whether New Delhi’s acquiring a nuclear-capable missile takes it any close to a seat the UN Security Council? The programme was quick to point out that that India has become the largest importer of arms and its expenditure would touch the 50 billion USD in a few years, (China’s defence budget crossed the 100 billion USD mark for the first time this year.)
Several controversies to hit the Indian armed forces were pointed out this year including the recent letter that army chief VK Singh wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Malik’s assertions that the armed forces were low on ammunition, the air force didn’t have enough fighter jets or training aircraft and equipment were dated.
The state-run China Daily, the most circulated English newspaper, splashed a photograph of the launch on page 1.
On Thursday, the Global Times newspaper published an editorial warning India not to be too adventurous.
The main mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, the People’s Daily, was yet to react to the launch.