(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The other day the Indian government announced with understandable pride that it had successfully tested the Agni-V missile.
This is not just some regular missile you can buy from your nearest toy shop. (Or at least not yet. The Agni-V is an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, or an ICBM.
This means that the Agni-V is capable of blowing up places at a distance of 5,500 kilometres and beyond. Why 5,500 kilometres? I am not quite sure, but it may have to do with the history of ICBM. The first ICBMs were designed by the Germans during the Second World War. They never got around to making one, but the idea was to bomb American centres such as New York. Berlin to New York is a point-to-point journey of 6,401 kilometres.
Now I know exactly what you're thinking right now: who is this extremely far away enemy that India is seeking to threaten? Why is India investing so much in missiles at a time when thousands upon thousands of Indians still struggle, every day, with Ashish Nehra's bowling.
The international community believes India is trying to put China in its place. What is the distance from Delhi to Beijing? Just 3,786 kilometres as the missile flies. The Agni-V, once fully operational, will be able to effortlessly pop over to Beijing, obliterate it, and then come back to New Delhi with plenty of missile-fuel still left in the tank. (For the benefit of readers I am simplifying the functioning of missiles.)
But surely an ICBM is overkill for such a distance? This is where I think the international community and defence experts have got it wrong. What if the Indian government is, in reality, preparing to take down that other great enemy: Australia in general and Ricky Ponting in particular?
By my calculations the distance from New Delhi to Ponting's residence in Tasmania is about 10,000 kilometres. Launch from Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and you shave off a full 2,000 kilometres from that journey. The more I do this math the more I am convinced this is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's security strategy. And it is a noble one.
Now such a noble venture is not without compromises. The technological inputs that have gone into Agni-V may have come at the cost of upgrading the technology used in the other branches of the government. For instance, India's network of passport office.
Many months ago I approached the office in Delhi to renew my passport. After standing in a variety of lines, filling in a variety of forms, paying a variety of fees, I was finally asked to present my documents to a computer operator. This operator, a young man no older than 22, was a private contractor. His job was to punch in my details into an archaic computer and see if any alerts came up.
He worked very slowly, typing each letter after careful inspection and certification of the key concerned. Nothing happened. And then he tried again. And again. And again. He kept trying up till and right through a tea break.
I suggested he reset the machine. He told me that he did not know how to do this.
I showed him the button. He said he did not have permission to press that button. And then he left to find help. So I pressed the button. Thanks to my initiative he was now able to check my application and reject it due to some missing 10-year old paperwork.
Now sceptics might say: why don't we scrap the missile and invest in proper computers in passport offices instead?
Nonsense. Ricky Ponting is the enemy. And any Indian should be prepared to make sacrifices to take him down.