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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

From Today's Papers - 25 Jun











Army gagged, warned against leaking secrets

CNN-IBN
SENSITIVE ORDER: The Govt wants officers to give an undertaking that they won't publish sensitive information.

New Delhi: The Government has issued a directive banning officials who have served in sensitive security agencies from writing books or appearing as guest experts on TV channels.

A life-time ban has also been imposed on officers from publishing anything relating to "sensitive assignments" they carried out during their service.

To impose the ban order, the Government has amended the Central Services pension rules to deter officers from giving out "sensitive information", even in the form of statements to the media, on the secrets they held while in service.

According to a notification, issued by the Department of Personnel and Training, any failure to adhere to the ban order would result in the officer being penalised with reduction or withdrawal of pension "in part or full," and even prosecution, in the event of their having violated an undertaking they would be forced to give on retirement from now.

"Failure to adhere to the ban shall be treated as grave misconduct. The undertaking would further bind the concerned official with appropriate penalty," the guidelines, aimed at regulating publications by retired officers of any sensitive information, stated.

The gag order of the Government, which has come into force with immediate effect, applies to officials who have worked in departments exempted fom the Right To Information Act. It seems to be a fallout of the recent book by former RAW offical V K Singh - India's External Intelligence: Secrets of RAW - in which he spoke of corruption in the intelligence agency.

The amendment comes soon after a CBI chargesheet under Official Secrets Act against Singh, a former joint secretary in RAW, for his book, which was critical of present RAW Chief Ashok Chaturvedi.

Apparently irked by the revelations, the Government wants officers to give an undertaking, "not to publish in any manner, while in service or after retirement, any information which I have obtained by virtue of my working in the aforesaid organisation", just before he superannuates or is transferred back to his parent cadre.

"Publication", the notification said, includes communication to the media, publishing a book, letter, pamphlet, poster or any document, in any form.

Till the notification came into force, retired officers were provided a two-year cooling off period before they published literature related to their work in sensitive posts. The Armed Forces officers, however, had it a little easier as no lay off period had been prescribed for them.

Officers from the 18 organisations mentioned in Second Schedule of Right to Information Act - RAW, IB, DRI, NCB, BSF, CRPF, ITBP and such other paramilitary forces - would come under the blanket ban. The order also applies to officials who have worked in these departments on deputation.

Government officals have however called the directive, "vague".

A retired senior official from one of India's intelligence agencies was quoted by news agency PTI as saying: "the order clearly violates Article 19 (a) of the Constitution of India dealing with Freedom of speech and expression."

Another retired officer told PTI on the condition of annonymity, "In case military officers are prohibited from writing memoirs, it will have a negative effect on military history, which is a basic ingredient of training of military officers."

"Why does such a gag order not apply to bureaucrats. IAS officers such as Cabinet Secretary, Defence Secretary and Home Secretary are privy to much more sensitive information than most officers in the Intelligence and paramilitary organisations," he added.

Retired officers also wondered why the order was not applicable to politicians, who hold high posts such as Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Home Minister, "who surely know a lot more than Army officers".

ARMED FORCES GAGGED
bullet To accord wider cover to the ban, the term "information" has been explained as "any material in any form including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advice, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models and data material in any electronic form held or accessed by the official while in service."
bullet Information, that officials cannot publish, included those that had the potential to "prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific, or economic interests of the state, or in relation with a foreign state or which would lead to incitement of an offence".
bullet Armed Forces do not come under the purview of the Department of Personnel as the gazette notifications on their service rules are published by the Defence Ministry. Their pension too cannot be stopped or reduced, being immune from attachment even by a court of law under Section 11 of the Pension Act, 1871.

(Inputs from Sumon Chakraborty

Summer trials of Arjun tank successful
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
India’s indigenously built battle tank, the Arjun, completed its much-awaited summer trials yesterday at the Mahajan firing ranges in Rajasthan. Official sources in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) today termed the trails as “successful”.
The trial was carried out by running the tanks across 5,000 km in the searing heat of Rajasthan. The guns, the gears and other systems worked very well. The transmission (gear) system that had created problems in the past also worked well, a DRDO functionary said, here tonight.
The gear system is built by a German company that supplies the equipment to leading tank makers. The Army that carried out the test on behalf of the DRDO is yet to give its report on the tests.
Sources in the Army said the report would be ready in a couple of weeks this even as the DRDO is expecting some suggestion from the Army on tightening of the overall quality control for the tank.
The summer trials were crucial for the tank, as the Army had severely criticised the functioning of the tanks after the last trial was held in the winters. The matter had led to a furore in Parliament and also negative publicity for the tanks in the media with a series of articles by experts on how public money was being used and the tank was no where near completion.
The Army had told the Parliamentary Committee on Defence that it was not satisfied with the tank and it was still below its expectation. This had come as a major setback for the tank that was seen as major step in India’s programme of building its own weapon systems.
Sources said during the trials that ended yesterday the transmission system worked very well as the DRDO had installed a software that indicated the need for great shift. Earlier, the problem had occurred as the tanks had been reportedly run on low gears over extended periods. The tanks guns were tested in static as were as moving conditions.
The targets were also static as well as moving. The guns proved reliable. The Arjun, as a rifled-bore gun enjoys a greater precision over a smooth-bore gun. Its night-firing ability was also put to test.

Gen S.S. Mehta to be Tribune Trustee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
Lieut-Gen S.S. Mehta, former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, is joining the Board of Trustees of The Tribune as a member. He was chosen unanimously as a new member by the trust at a meeting presided over by the president, Mr R.S. Talwar, in New Delhi yesterday.
A highly decorated cavalry officer, he had put in 41 years of service before hanging up his uniform in January 2004.
Post retirement, he served as the director-general of the Confederation of Indian Industries from May 2006 to April 2008. His other important assignments include GOC-in-C of the Army Training Command, Shimla, Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Planning and Systems) at Army Headquarters and member of the National Security Advisory Board. At present, he is the vice-chairman, environment committee, for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Commissioned into 63 Cavalry in December 1962, General Mehta has a rich command, staff and instructional experience. He led an independent Armoured Squadron in operations during the 1971 war with Pakistan, where he was mentioned-in-despatches. He commanded 63 Cavalry, an Armoured Division and a Strike Corps in the Western Sector.
General Mehta had been an instructor at the Higher Command Wing of the Army War College, Mhow, the Intelligence School, School of Artillery and Defence Services Staff College. He also served as the Additional Director-General Military Operations at Army Headquarters. He was the Services member of the National Task Force on information technology, the Army member of the Group of Ministers’ Task Force on review of defence management and also chaired an Army study on logistics for the 21st century.
A Master of Science in defence studies and a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, he attended the nuclear, biological and chemical defence course at the Timoshenko Academy in Moscow and the United States Army War College Course in 1990-91. He is a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Bar and Vishisht Seva Medal.
As principal advisor to the CII from March 2004 to April 2006, he headed the skills development and information risk management initiatives and provided oversight in IT, ITES, telecom broadband and business association sectors. During his tenure with the CII, to harness the youth energy, he launched a skills development initiative to make India the world’s “skills capital”.
General Mehta is also associated with the UK-India High Technology Cooperation Group, Council of Indian Council of World Affairs, UGC’s standing committee on Universities with Potential for Excellence, Sarvodaya International Trust, and the Aspen India Institute.
He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Defence Policy Studies and is on the governing council of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi, and the management board of Yadavindra Public School, Mohali.

India, Pak to identify anti-terror measures
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
India and Pakistan today decided to work together for identifying measures to counter terrorism, assisting each other in investigations through exchange of specific information and for preventing violence and terror acts.
In a joint statement issued after the third meeting of the India-Pakistan Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism in Islamabad, the two countries shared fresh information on terrorist incidents, besides reviewing the follow-up steps taken by each side after the second meeting of the mechanism. The External Affairs Ministry here simultaneously released the text of the brief joint statement.
The Indian delegation was led by Vivek Katju, additional secretary (political and international organisations) in the External Affairs Ministry, while the Pakistani side was headed by Masood Khalid, additional secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan.
The Indian delegation also called on Pakistan’s acting foreign secretary Khalid Aziz Babar. The joint mechanism was formed in September 2006, after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in Havana on the margins of the NAM Summit.

Ex-spies seek national debate on ban
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
Former spy-masters of the country today came down heavily on the gag order issued by the government of India, seeking a national debate on the subject and calling it a violation of their fundamental rights as granted under the Constitution.
The government has issued a notification banning officers from writing books post-retirement on sensitive matters or secrets known to them during the course of their job. The Tribune had broken the story in its edition yesterday as to how the government has muzzled former spies by amending the central services and pension rules to stop any more secrets being spilled.
The threat is to stop a part or full pension of such authors who reveal secrets besides prosecuting the authors of such books, articles or television commentators. The government will get officers to sign a bond that they will not write books or articles or express their view through the electronic media on the country’s secrets.
Under the new rules, officers who have worked with the Research Analysis Wing, the IB, the air research centre, the national technical research centre, the directorate of revenue intelligence, the NSG, the SPG, The Special Frontier Force and the Assam Rifles, the BSF, among others will, be barred from sharing secrets.
Former joint director of the IB M.K. Dhar - the author of a few such books that exposed the governments of the past -- today told the Tribune: “Let the government approach me to sign the bond and I will move court to seek justice. Let there be a national debate if there should be a ban or not. The country has the right to know the truth.” Dhar, a former IPS officer, has worked extensively in Punjab and the north-east.
Although the order, which was circulated in the ministries last week, does not mention about officers who had retired prior to the notification, a grey area exists as former officials feel they could be prosecuted. Some of them still lead lives of seclusion and others live under the threat due to the sheer nature of the work they handled in the past.
A senior retired officer of the IB, who was involved in Punjab during the peak of terrorism, said even today the government uses the services of the former officers when the need arises in back channel efforts within the country or outside. He called it a violation of article 19 of the Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and expression.
With no system of automatically de-classifying documents after a fixed number of years, these books by former spies were seen as an authentic account of recent history. Most of the intelligence gathering agencies even out of the ambit of auditing. Till the notification came into force, retired officers were provided a two-year cooling-off period before they published literature related to their work in sensitive posts.
Books in the past have exposed the political system and have been lapped-up by the thinking classes as everybody wanted to know the truth behind the Punjab problem, the Kashmir issue or the north-east.

Russia, India to share experience in training mountain troops

24/06/2008 19:39 MOSCOW, June 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and India have agreed to exchange knowledge in the training of mountain troops as part of an extensive military cooperation program, an aide to Russia's Ground Forces commander said on Tuesday.
India's Chief of Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor, arrived in Moscow on Monday on a five-day visit to Russia. He met Tuesday with Russia's Ground Forces commander, Gen. Alexei Maslov, to discuss prospects for bilateral military cooperation.
"Generals Maslov and Kapoor agreed to establish a regular exchange of experience in training mountain troops," Col. Igor Konashenkov said.
"This year 10 Russian officers from mountain brigades [deployed in the North Caucasus] will visit an Indian military training center located in the mountain ridges of [India's northernmost states] Jammu and Kashmir," he added.
Mountain warfare is one of the most dangerous types of combat, as it involves fighting not only the enemy but also extreme cold and inaccessible terrain. As part of his current tour, the Indian army chief will visit the North Caucasus military district. Russia began deploying two mountain brigades in the North Caucasus last year, near the mountainous border with Georgia. The two brigades are made up of contract soldiers, totaling about 4,500 personnel. The Indian Army has 10 divisions dedicated to mountain warfare and another infantry division earmarked for high altitude operations. They are deployed in strategically important areas along the borders with its traditional rivals, Pakistan and China.
India and Russia have a long history of military cooperation, which goes back almost half a century. The existing Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation program, which lasts until 2010, includes up to 200 projects worth about $18 billion in all, according to Russia's Defense Ministry.

India and US defence ties grow stronger

Rahul Bedi, Foreign Correspondent

Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, with AK Antony, the Indian defence minister, in New Delhi this year. Mark Wilson / AP
NEW DELHI // India’s civil nuclear agreement with the United States may be in jeopardy because of opposition from Communist members of the country’s coalition government, but defence ties between the two countries are growing steadily.
Military officials in New Delhi said recent visits to India by senior US officials, including Robert Gates, the defence secretary, in February, were to bolster military ties and agree on weapons deals rather than to rescue the fading nuclear agreement.
“Other than obvious commercial interests, the US is keen to invest militarily in India, which it believes, with Washington’s help and hardware, can emerge as a counterweight to China’s growing might across Asia and other vital regions like Africa and the Middle East,” said Lt Gen V K Kapoor, a defence analyst.
The controversial nuclear agreement, which is undermining the Congress Party-led administration of Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, would permit India to conduct nuclear commerce while retaining its active strategic weapons programme, allowing the country to import civil nuclear equipment and fuel such as uranium to power its burgeoning energy requirements.
At the same time, it also allows India to remain out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, having to place only 14 of its 22 atomic plants and facilities under international safeguards.
The formalisation of the agreement, however, remains stalled by opposition from the Communist MPs, who are crucial to the survival of Mr Singh’s coalition, and who view the agreement as a gambit by Washington to “enslave” India.
The Communist MPs have threatened to bring down the federal coalition if the deal, which is nearing fruition after the recent end of negotiations between India and the International Atomic Energy Agency, is “operationalised”.
For the past week Mr Singh has made the nuclear deal the talisman of his commitment to the country’s progress and is locked in deep consultations with the Communists to try and avert a political crisis by clearing the agreement.
Yet, while the Bush administration considers this deal a major foreign initiative, the possibility of its collapse is unlikely to adversely affect US weapons sales to India.
“If the India-US civilian nuclear deal collapses, it will not impact on the growing military ties between the two countries,” William Cohen, the US defence secretary under Bill Clinton, declared at DefExpo 2008 in New Delhi in February, at which major US armament companies were well represented.
“The promise of deeper US-India defence co-operation is now a reality, with collaborations and joint ventures between US and Indian firms already under way,” he said.
Indian military purchases are projected to double to more than US$30 billion (Dh110bn) by 2012 as the country’s military seeks to modernise and replace its largely Soviet military hardware. By 2022 spending is expected to reach $80bn.
US companies, who so far have been slow to reach out to the Indian defence market, are now turning to the country in growing numbers.
“In Washington’s strategic calculations, India is an important player that needs closer engagement,” said Brig Arun Sahgal, of the United Service Institute in New Delhi.
“US weapon sales only enhance this importance and Washington’s leverage.” India is an important part of America’s overall Asia strategy.
Since 2002 India has acquired military equipment for about $1.3bn including artillery locating radar, a troop ship, helicopters and military transport aircraft.
The Indian navy, meanwhile, is negotiating with Boeing to acquire eight long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft for about $2bn and Washington is backing a $10bn contract for 126 multi-role fighters for the Indian air force, for which Boeing and Lockheed Martin were competing alongside Russian and European manufacturers.
“There is no strategic divergence between India and the US,” said Lt Gen Kapoor. “Both are a part of the wider concert of democracies and need to become equal allies.”
Washington is backing up its sales pitches by offering the Indian military training and logistical support. The countries have conducted 50 joint military exercises since 2001 to enhance “functional inter-operability” between their armed forces, and in the coming weeks the Indian air force is scheduled to participate in the prestigious “red flag” exercises at the Nellis air force base in Nevada, which are the US air force’s most sophisticated manoeuvres.
Despite the Communists’ objections, the Indian air force will proceed with the manoeuvres, arguing they will augment its combat skills.
For Washington, Lt Gen Kapoor said, India would not only be a welcome customer of US weapons but a credible ally in a region, where its hold has become tenuous as a result of unpopular military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But several procedural issues between the United States and India remain unresolved.
Washington has so far failed to persuade India to agree to a long-awaited logistical support agreement that would permit the countries’ militaries’ reciprocal use of facilities for maintenance, servicing, refuelling, communications and medical care.
And India is seeking clarification on the “unduly intrusive” End-user Verification Agreement, which allows spot checks by US defence officials at Indian military installations where US equipment is employed.
India is also concerned about possible US inspections at its frontline fighter bases and military formations in regions bordering nuclear rivals China and Pakistan. But defence officials said the two sides are working on a compromise put forward by India that would provide the US with access to Indian military records with regard to the deployment of US equipment.
For now, however, the focus is on the nuclear deal that will feature prominently when Mr Singh meets George W Bush on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Japan early next month.
Mr Singh strongly believes its successful conclusion, and India’s subsequent access to superior technology, will boost his country’s international profile; but few in his government or administration share his views.


China eyeing Sikkim again


India, like others, follows a 'One China' policy but deals with two Chinas. The "peacefully rising China", which "understands and supports India's aspirations to play a greater role in international affairs" but merely lip services it, actually regulates a relationship on its own terms. This is the China which Indian leaders want to emulate economically and frequently make believe there is space for both to rise and prosper. This China will soon overtake the US as India's largest trading partner.

The other China is the one that inflicted a humiliating defeat over the boundary dispute in 1962 and has kept bullying and needling India without diplomatic grace and sophistication. It is opposed to India's permanent membership of the UN Security Council, entry into the Asian economic and security structures and recognition as a state with nuclear weapons. Its blatant use of Pakistan and other negative strategies ensures India is kept confined to South Asia courtesy its strategic encirclement: 'String of Pearls', a chain of naval bases designed to undermine India's pre-eminence in the Indian Ocean region.

China's military modernisation is moving at a frenetic pace. Defence spending has registered an annual increase of 17 per cent, officially amounting to $ 70 billion, though Western analysts say it is double that amount. The upgrade in military infrastructure in Tibet has trebled the operational and logistics capabilities of the PLA. Its strategic programmes are on the rise too.

The boundary dispute, which hurts India, has for all intents and purposes remained on the back burner, periodically subjected to the charade of political and cartographic mechanisms for its resolution. It is a zero sum game. Cleverly, the Chinese have raised the political cost of any settlement to unacceptably high levels even raking up boundary dispute on the settled Sikkim border.

Dealing with the two Chinas are officials in foreign office who believe relations with Beijing have never been better and military commanders who assert that there is a serious disconnect between our perception of Chinese intent and capabilities. But they are being advised to underplay, even underreport, border incidents.

The Chief of Army Staff, Gen Deepak Kapoor's recent television interview on the frequency of alleged intrusions by the PLA was unprecedented for its candour and content. He emphasised that both Armies were patrolling up to the Line of Actual Control of their perception and transgressing each other's imagined red lines. He dismissed the aggressive behaviour of the PLA in dismantling military structures on the Dolam Plateau near the trijunction of Bhutan as a matter for Bhutan to sort out with China. It is no secret that India is committed to the defence of Bhutan and coordinates its border talks with China.

Article III of the 1996 CBM Treaty, which outlines several de-escalating measures, cannot be implemented as a mutually acceptable LAC has defied definition and demarcation.

The most recent and sustained fingering by PLA on the border has been in North Sikkim is Gyangyong area. The border with Sikkim was settled in 1890 as per Anglo-Chinese convention along the watershed between the Sikkim Teesta and the Tibetan Mochu rivers. The boundary though has not been jointly demarcated. In 2003 during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to China, Sikkim was recognised as a State of the Indian Union after India parroted for the nth time that Tibet was an Autonomous Region of China.

On June 16, a vehicle-mounted PLA patrol came one kilometre into the Finger Area making it the 65th intrusion this year in the same area. On one occasion, Indian soldiers formed a human chain to block the entry of the PLA. In 1967, similar Indian tactics at Nathu La blew up into a major border skirmish.

Sikkim's geo-strategic importance is recognised beyond doubt. Its eastern shoulder descends into the Chumbi valley to the point near the trijunction with Bhutan which is disputed. North Sikkim is the only area in the East from where any meaningful ground offensive into Tibet can be mounted. During Operation Falcon, following the Sumdorong Chu standoff in Wangdung, heavy tanks, artillery and mechanised vehicles were inducted into North Sikkim in 1987. As matching infrastructure lagged behind and slowed down to zero after the 1993 and 1996 peace accords, the military deterrent capability also withered away. So twice, once after 1962 and again in 1987, infrastructure development plans were aborted.

Only this year, singed by Chinese accusations of a prime ministerial trespass of Arunachal Pradesh was a retired Army Chief despatched as Governor of the State and a development package funded. No Indian Prime Minister has ever visited Tawang which, the Chinese say, has an inalienable connection with Tibet.

The intrusions in Sikkim have provoked the standard official response: From "not yielding an inch of ground" to "integral part of India" to "the matter will be taken up at the appropriate highest level". For at least three days after the June 16 trespass in Sikkim, the media went berserk, painting the incident as a serious breach of faith by the Chinese. Mr Mao Swe, the Chinese Consul General in Kolkata, defused the crisis by publicly reaffirming Beijing's recognition of Sikkim as part of India. He added that these were not incursions but differences of perception. For good measure, he said, "The border dispute between India and China won't be settled soon."

The message is loud and clear. Regardless of the method and level of negotiation, the boundary dispute will not be resolved anytime soon. Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei has injected a strategic dimension to the India-China relationship, whatever that means for conflict resolution.

Why has the PLA become proactive? Why the needling in north Sikkim and why now? Until this year, the Sikkim boundary was a settled issue. Only the status of Arunachal Pradesh was periodically questioned. China, raising the ante on the boundary issue and thus India's discomfiture, has in part to do with India's strategic partnership with the US, improving its bargaining position on the boundary question and delaying its full and final settlement.

The PLA's posturing on the border is risk laden. Indian Army and Air Force do not have an adequate deterrent capability in the East. A counter offensive Corps has remained on paper since 1987. Belatedly two new Mountain Divisions have been sanctioned for the East. We are 20 years behind the Chinese in operational capability and infrastructure.

The Chinese have raised not just the political, but also the military cost by undisguisedly dragging the border dispute. Two companies of the PLA will shortly arrive in Punjab for counter-terrorism exercises with 11 Corps, ostensibly augmenting strategic ties! For soldiers in north Sikkim and elsewhere on the LAC, the contradictions in policy and statement are not easy to comprehend. Managing differences on the LAC is easier in South Block than in Finger Area, especially when China intends to prolong the war of nerves.

India seems prepared to take on China

Express News Service Posted online: Monday, June 23, 2008 at 0209 hrs IST

Chandigarh, June 22
The Indian Air Force (IAF) did a commendable job and achieved a major strategic feat last month when it landed an AN-32 aircraft at the Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) airstrip — the highest in the world. It has given a boost to the soldiers guarding the frontiers with China in the harsh climatic conditions. Also, it has warned China surreptitiously, which is expanding its military operations across the borders with India, not to dare eye even an inch of the Indian territory.
Due to China’s vigorous military modernisation drive, the military gap between India and China is growing every year. With the improved logistics infrastructure in Tibet, including the Gormo-Lhasa all-weather railway line, improved road access and many new air strips, the Chinese are now capable of inducting large numbers of troops into Tibet in a time frame that is likely to unhinge Indian war plans.
This year, China has also hiked the defence expenditure by 18 per cent whereas the Indian government has just managed to increase it by 5 per cent. In terms of money, China has allocated $59 billion compared to India’s $26.4 billion. The increase is gradual. If we look at the hike in China’s defence expenditure in the last 10 years, they are increasing it by 12 to 15 per cent every year. It is a matter of concern for India. Therefore, the recent reactivation of the DBO airstrip is certainly a commendable job by the Indian Air Force to tackle the increasing pressure from China.
India needs to invest more in improving the logistics infrastructure along the border with Tibet, in hi-tech intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems for early warning and in generating land and air-based firepower asymmetries to counter China’s numerical superiority. India also needs to raise and suitably equip four to six mountain strike divisions to carry the fight into Chinese territory if it ever becomes necessary.
All of these will require a large infusion of fresh capital. India’s growing economy can easily sustain a 0.5 to 1 per cent hike in the defence budget over a period of three to five years, especially if the government simultaneously shows the courage to reduce wasteful subsidies.
India has already announced immediate measures to develop 1,100 kilometres of strategic roads on the Indo-Tibetan border.
This is in addition to over 7,500 km civilian roads that will be developed in the northeastern states to support rapid deployment of troops from the plains, 800 km roads already operational in Ladakh, and 1,000 km new civilian roads in Kashmir.
Along with roads, the government has decided to revive four IAF bases in Arunachal Pradesh — Vijaynagar, Mechuka, Tuting and Passighat. These, along with the border road network, are expected to bolster supply lines and ensure greater and more frequent access to the far-flung border areas under dispute.
While negotiations continued on a border settlement between both the countries, sources say, India felt alarmed by frequent Chinese claims being made locally along the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
Much of this can be countered if India increases the frequency at which it patrols these areas and in that context, road connectivity to border outposts is vital. All these measures have been taken well in time and in the next three to four years, India will be able to take on China, if need be, without any fear. Investment worth billions into air and land power by the government is ensuring an all-round protection of the country. We have successfully overpowered Pakistan thrice since Independence. Now, there is a dire need to look at China and devise strategies to face the challenge.

Western firms vying to sell combat vehicles to India

Paris, June 24:Leading Western armament companies are vying with each other to grab a USD two billion tender for the supply of mine protected combat vehicles to Indian armed forces for its anti-insurgency operations.Drawing upon the experience and need of forces engaged in combat zones Afghanistan and Iraq, leading American and Western defence companies are now coming up with more and more advanced surveillance systems for protection of combatants in battle against terrorists.Western experts said that India would issue global tenders for 1,500 such vehicles within a month and western companies were ready to team up with Indian companies for this order.“This is just an initial order. The demand of Indian security forces could run up to few thousands of such vehicles,” they said in Paris.Leading armament companies are each month churning out new devices in the battle against terrorism, which in turn could have major technology spin-offs for India, also engaged in major anti-insurgency campaign.The market for such systems for the west, has been estimated to run into billions of dollars as US and NATO forces face threats like land mine blasts, suicide bombers and need for greater mobility in the battle against terrorists.And western companies foresee an equally big marke also worth more than five billion dollars for such equipment for Indian security forces in the coming years.With such a heavy demand, the companies are now hitting the market, with more and more advanced mobile mine detectors, mine resistant combat vehicles and highly mobile battle vehicles to carry out surprise hit and run raids against terrorists.French armour company, Nexter, has just launched a multi-purpose counter-mine vehicle SUVIM, which it claims can blast any type of mine.SUVIM, the company officials said, had been launched for protection of French forces now operating in Afghanistan and can clear improvised explosive devices, infra-red mines, pressure mines, anti-personnel mines, as well as magnetic mines.With eight to 10 feet tires, the new mobile mine sweepers have the capability of jumping around even anti-tank mines, which can be defused by specialised trailers it carries.The vehicles are to be used by the French forces to open routes of military convoy for as long as 200 km in 24 hours and is seen as ideal for road opening for army convoys in Jammu and Kashmir, a task which is currently undertaken manually or with the help of specialised sniffer dogs.“These vehicles are competitively priced,” a top Nexter official told visiting Indian journalists at the just concluded Eurosatory-2008 Land Combat Exhibition in Paris.Nexter is ready for total technology transfer and production of these vehicles in India, which has already been introduced to the French forces.Another breakthrough by the company is a 4x4 ARAVIS multipurpose heavily protected vehicles, for use against terrorists in thick jungle areas.The new vehicles, company officials said, had for the first time in the world been tested to withstand even 50-kg TNT blasts and capability to defeat even 155-mm artillery blast all around it.ARAVIS also claims that it can withstand even 10-kg mine bast under the belly and wheels and appears to be an ideal weapon for Indian security forces battling Naxals in Central India.“The vehicles have SAFEPRO armoured technology that can defeat combined effects of blasts and fragments generated by both lethal IED mines and AP carbide heavy machine gun bullets.The vehicles can carry upto eight combat troops and can be air transported by C-130J aircraft.Most of the American and European companies have also come up with highly mobile mine protected 8x8 super mobility troop carriers, which Indian forces have been seeking.

Russia starts building new missile frigate for Indian Navy

KALININGRAD, June 11 (RIA Novosti) - The Yantar Shipyard in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad will start on Wednesday the construction of the third Project 11356 frigate for the Indian Navy under a second contract, the company said.
India and Russia signed a contract for the purchase of three additional Project 11356 Krivak IV-class guided missile frigates for the Indian Navy on July 14, 2006. Russia previously built three Krivak-class frigates - INS Talwar, INS Trishul and INS Tabar - for India, and delivered them all by the end of 2004.
"The Yantar Shipyard will hold an official ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction of the third [Krivak-class] frigate for the Indian navy," a company spokesman said, adding that the work on the first two frigates was progressing according to schedule.
All three ships will be delivered to India by 2012. They will feature the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missile system instead of the Club-N/3M54TE missile system, which was installed on the previous frigates.
The Krivak-class frigate has deadweight of 4,000 metric tons and speed of 30 knots, and is capable of accomplishing a wide range of missions in the sea, primarily hunting down and destroying large surface ships and submarines.

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