India must be ready to use might: Prez
Tribune News Service
Guwahati, November 21
President Pranab Mukherjee today said while the nation was firmly committed to peace, it must be equally prepared to use its might to safeguard its sovereignty, should the need ever arise.
“To preserve peace and harmony and promote all round development, it is imperative for us to have an effective deterrence and a strong defence,” Mukherjee said at the President’s Standard Presentation to 115 Helicopter Unit and 26 Squadron at Air Force Station, Tezpur.
“The Indian Air Force has always been at the forefront in the projection of our nation’s might. Besides its role of safeguarding the sovereignty of our nation, it has always been a harbinger of humanitarian aid within our boundaries,” he said.
The President in his address to IAF personnel and their families, both past and present: “The distinguished flying units of 115 Helicopter Unit and 26 Squadron have a glorious past and a rich tradition of professional excellence. Since their inception, they have rendered illustrious service to the nation and done us proud. Their rich heritage and stellar efforts in the pursuit of excellence have set a benchmark for others to emulate. For their selfless devotion, professionalism and courage in the face of adversity, the nation honours them today with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation.”
The President also appreciated the relief operations rendered by the men and women in blue in disaster-hit regions. “The resilience and tenacity of the Air Warriors has been a source of tremendous pride for the Nation. The professional excellence, grit and determination exhibited by them over the past few decades are highly laudable.”
Maoists attack IAF copter, 2 hurt
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 21
Moists attacked an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter near Jagdalpur this evening, injuring two men – one from the IAF and the other from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
The helicopter, a Russian built Mi 17 –V5, landed at the base at Jagdalpur, Chattisgarh. The incident occurred 8 km southwest of Jagdalpur around 5.30 pm today, sources in the IAF confirmed.
The helicopter was on a rescue mission to pick up casualties of the CRPF which was involved in an ongoing operation against Maoists. CRPF's Chhattisgarh chief and IG HS Sidhu is leading the operation indicating the seriousness and scale of the effort.
The IAF helicopter had been called to help evacuate six injured men. It came under attack as it flew 200 feet above ground after picking up the injured CRPF men. An IAF gunner was hit in the leg and the CRPF man suffered injuries to his face.
The CRPF men who were injured in the attack on the ground and evacuated by the helicopter are: Vipin Kumar, Sub-Inspector of CRPF's 150 battalion, constable Madhukar Rathore of the same unit, constables Chandrashekar and Manoj Kumar Gonde of 206 CoBRA battalion and constable Rupak Rawat, posted as the gunman of the IG and Surendra Bathi, constable of 150 battalion. Half-a-dozen Naxal cadre have also been injured and the area has been cordoned off. Sources said sending immediate reinforcements to the area would not be possible during the night.
Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant to Be Broken Up
India's first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which saw action during the 1971 India-Pakistan war but has now been decommissioned, is finally being broken up.
The process, which started on Thursday with the first blow hammered on its front portion, is expected to be completed within 7-8 months, its owner said in Mumbai on Friday.
The once-majestic aircraft carrier was bought in an e-auction by Mumbai-based IB Commercials Ltd., its director and now the ship's owner Abdul Karim Jaka said in Mumbai.
"A team of around 200 people has been deployed to dismantle and break down the ship after we completed all legal and technical formalities and secured all requisite clearances from the agencies concerned," Mr Jaka told IANS from the breaking yard at Powder Bunder in southeast Mumbai.
Formerly known as the HMS Hercules, it was bought by India in 1957 and commissioned in the Indian Navy on February 16, 1959. It was decommissioned on January 31, 1997.
The ship - which saw a lot of action during many wars - was laid on October 14, 1943, and launched in 1945.
The 71-year-old vessel is finally being broken down for its tough steel and other valuable components.
Pakistan And Russia Sign Defence And Military Cooperation Agreement – Analysis
Pakistan and Russia signed a ‘Defence and Military Cooperation Agreement’ on November 20 in Rawalpindi during the significantly first-ever visit of a Russian Defence Minister to Pakistan in the changing security environment.
Coming as it does virtually on the eve of the visit of the Russian President to India, what does one in India read in the latest political signalling by Russia in South Asia? Was India kept in the loop by Russia of the signing of the ‘Defence and Military Cooperation Agreement’ with Pakistan? Is it just connected with the impending exit of US Forces from Afghanistan or is it a recasting of its strategic blueprint by Russia in South Asia? The Indian policy establishment needs to decipher this.
Significant was a statement in the Pakistani media quoted in inverted commas attributing it to the Russian Defence Minister extolling the Pakistan Army for its role in combatting terrorism and that today the whole world wants to do business with Pakistan. Is it reflective of Russia’s changed perceptions on Pakistan and Pakistan Army?
The Russian Defence Minister Serge Shoigyo and the Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had wide ranging discussions on security issues preceding the signing of this Agreement not in Islamabad, the seat of the Government, but in Rawalpindi the location of Pakistan Army GHQ.
Intriguingly, for just a one-day visit to Pakistan, the Russian Defence Minister was accompanied by a 41 member delegation.
No details of the Agreement have been released in the public domain but media reports indicate that it also covers a wide range of military equipment. The supply of Russian MI-35 Transport/Combat Helicopters was specifically mentioned. The Russian envoy to Pakistan later stated that the deal to supply Russian MI-35 helicopters stood “politically approved” and that price negotiations would now be underway.
The Russian Defence Minister also had a meeting with Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif who expressed appreciation for Russian support in Pakistan’s’ full-membership of the China-Centric Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Increase in trade ties was also stressed besides greater engagement on discussion of regional and international security issues.
In a curious coincidence of timings, the Russian Defence Minister’s visit to Pakistan and signing the ‘Defence and Military Cooperation Agreement’ between Pakistan and Russia was taking place while the Pakistan Army Chief, General Sharif’s visit to United States was ongoing.
Obviously, the spadework for this Agreement would then have been undertaken much in advance of Pak Army Chief’s visit to USA.
Importantly, IATR TASS reported that Russia had lifted the arms embargo on Pakistan and this would facilitate supply of wide range of military equipment to Pakistan Army.
In connection with the above the Pakistani media highlighted that Russia had in effect downgraded India in terms of its military relationship from one of “Exclusive Military and Technical Partner” to one of “Preferred Partner”. The media attributed this downgradation to India’s increased defence purchases from USA.
Russia in the past at different occasions has been engaged in political signalling reverberations to India that it has other options in South Asia.
Could China have goaded Russia towards signing a ‘Defence and Military Cooperation Agreement’ with Pakistan in light of the unfolding dynamics in Afghanistan?
Whatever be the case, this development does inject some strategic doubts in those who believe that the Russia-India Strategic Partnership is a significant and enduring one.
Strangely, Indian media does not seem to have highlighted this development proclaimed by Pakistan as “a milestone achievement” and a “landmark cooperation pact”.
The pragmatic idealism of Nehru
Somewhere in the files of the PMO there is a 1949 query by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to his Army chief, General K C Cariappa, asking if the Indian Army would be able to intervene and prevent the Chinese conquest of Tibet.
The General’s response was that, given the capacity of the Army and the difficult communication links with Tibet, intervention was out of the question.
Nehru was not the caricature woolly-headed idealist that his critics make him out to be. He had to deal with the instruments under his command. And among these was an army that lacked the size and heft to take on the battle-hardened PLA across the Himalayas in Tibet in 1950.
India’s response to the invasion of Tibet by China, beginning January 1, 1950, was, therefore, cautious. Nehru’s interim government had already supplied weapons and trained Tibetans since 1946. But with Chinese power rampant, the Indian effort became covert.
According to one source, India quietly dispatched 40,000 rifles to the Khampa regions, the first to feel the weight of the PLA invasion.
Sardar Patel’s famous letter to Nehru on November 7, 1950, warning of the dangers arising from the Chinese invasion of Tibet, was not meant as a critique of Nehru as many uber-nationalists claim, but as part of a policy review which was undertaken after the Sardar passed away a month later.
A committee headed by Major General Himmatsinhji, the Deputy Minister for Defence, was set up to examine the issues of the border and external intelligence.
The Committee, which comprised of senior army, intelligence and foreign ministry officials, submitted its reports in two parts, one dealing with the eastern border in April 1951 and the other with the western border in September.
The recommendations called for the reorganisation and redeployment of the military forces and an increase in the size of the infantry and supporting arms, the development of certain airfields, the setting up of radar stations in the east, and an increase in the size of the Assam Rifles to patrol the border.
It called for the strengthening of the administration in the eastern areas and the strengthening of the IB network.
The dilemma before Nehru was stark. His army could not take on the PLA in Tibet. So, he used diplomacy to delay that moment of confrontation. Unfortunately, it came sooner rather than later and its causes had as much to do with India’s China policy as Beijijng’s internal power struggles.
The Indian Army not only lacked the capacity to intervene in Tibet - it did not even have the ability to defend India’s northern border. To right this, paradoxically, Nehru needed economic growth, which required minimising defence expenditures, while encouraging the creation of a domestic defence industry.
Towards that end, the government appointed Dr D.S. Kothari as the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and the head of the new Defence Science Organisation in 1949.
In 1957 India began work on the design and development of a combat aircraft which was to be done by a German team of Dr Kurt Tank and Engineer Mittelhuber, while an Indian team of Dr Ghatage and Raj Mahindra would design a jet trainer.
The first flight of the HF-24 took place in June 1961 and the trainer HJT-16 (Kiran) in September 1964.
But Nehru’s diplomacy failed to synchronise with his defence modernisation plans. Also, it was hit by America’s decision to arm Pakistan in the name of fighting Communism.
Even though India expanded its ordnance factories and established facilities to make and assemble trucks, aircraft and other equipment, poor management and scarce resources ensured that the armed forces were badly equipped when the crisis with China erupted in 1959, culminating in the disastrous war of 1962 that shattered Nehru’s reputation and health.
Nehru’s pragmatism is best visible in his policy on nuclear weapons. He was among the first leaders to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons in the world. However, he was also the person who summoned Homi Bhabha and gave him the wherewithal to start India’s civil nuclear programme.
In 1956, a nuclear reactor named Apsara, designed and built by Indian scientists and engineers, went critical. This was the first reactor to go critical in all of Asia. By 1958-1959, the DAE overtook the CSIR as the most important scientific institution in the country.
One third of all R&D expenditures were flowing to the DAE. This led to the 1955 Canadian offer of a nuclear reactor called CIRUS (Canada-India-US) with the initial load of uranium fuel to be supplied by them came through. Nehru and Bhabha’s strategy was to build India’s nuclear capacity in such a way that it could be quickly transformed into a strategic capability.
Once again, unfortunately, they were let down by their instrumentalities. The DAE failed to deliver the plutonium reprocessing facility in time and the result was that India did not have the wherewithal to carry out a nuclear test shortly after the Chinese test of October 1964 or before the cut-off date of January 1, 1967 for the NPT.
It is easy to criticise Nehru today. His priority then, as it remains that of our country today, is to take hundreds of millions of poor Indians out of poverty and protect the country’s territorial integrity.
Given the circumstances, he did not do a bad job, and he did it without murdering millions as was done in China, or overturning democracy, as was the case in many countries of the time.
But to understand him, you have to place yourself in his very large-sized shoes. Suffice to say, none of the heroes of today’s uber-nationalists would be able to fill them.