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Saturday, 19 July 2008

From Today's Papers - 19 Jul

Air Marshal calls for organ donation
19 Jul 2008, 0355 hrs IST,TNN

BANGALORE: Experts have estimated that the "willingness to donate organs for transplantation is only 0.5 per million people in India" - one of the lowest in the world, said Air Marshal V R Iyer at an interactive session on organ donation, retrieval and transplantation.
It was held at the Air Training Command here on Friday. Iyer, other officers and their families pledged their organs for donation in case of death.
Transplantation specialists from the Command Hospital presented various aspects of organ transplantation, including legal and ethical implications.
Iyer said the authorities who facilitate organ donation should not take fee from patients. He said officials should not be rigid in dealing with organ donation regulations.

Committed to pay, the 6th Pay Commission Report

The sixth pay commission has raised many questions, public sector employees are unhappy with their pay and allowances being less as compared to private sector. It is reminiscent of the era when the private sector employees agitated for the same..

SINCE DECADES, there has been altercations between the private and the government sector employees on the issues related to the pay comparisons. The recent agitations shown by the government employees over the inequality of pay and allowances as compared with the private sectors after the announcement of the Sixth Pay Commission Report reminiscent the era when the same agitations were seen from the private sector employees whose salaries were quite meagre as compared with those of the government employees.

There are two major tangible factors, which outbreak such agitations, one is that most of the government departments are lacking work and productivity, so the employees remain idle most of the time and hence cannot demand drastic hikes in their salary for the no work done by them. The second one being the lack of regular inter-departmental competitiveness, where an employee gets a chance to prove his/her skill based performance and hence deserves the right to excel by getting the promotion.
Lack of inter departmental competitiveness in the government sector for those who are willing to excel makes an employee’s skills obsolete and the then skilled employees are therefore not able to strive in the current private sector competitions. Hence such employees after putting up 15-20 years service don’t have any other option left with them except to continue with their present job and show their rage over their failure to get more.

The productivity-linked incentive/promotion, if introduced, will further aggravate the matters and the sycophants will flourish. Seniors will grade the performance of the junior ones, but who will grade the seniors who according to the junior employees extract most of the work from their juniors, which is in fact assigned to the seniors? In such situations, grading of the seniors performance by lower level should also be introduced to mark proper justification.

The assent towards the flexible working hours for the working women in government sector will fuel the agitations. On one side in the men dominated world, the government is pressing hard for giving the gender based equality in every respect to the women section then why such favouritism (still treating women as weaker), aren’t the working men in possession of getting such favours?

The resultant factor of all these will be a breach in laws and an intensification of rampant corruption making the high salaried class heave a sigh of relief leaving behind the low salaried class puff for the money.

India, Pak for effective border measures
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
India is keeping the Pakistani establishment on tenterhooks on the dialogue process between the two countries in the wake of the July 7 terror attack on its embassy in Kabul.

While New Delhi cancelled the talks between the CBI and the Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) of Pakistan, it went ahead with the meeting of the working group on cross-LoC CBMs in Islamabad today.

The fifth round of the composite dialogue between the two countries will be formally launched by the foreign secretaries of the two countries as scheduled on July 21 here.

The talks between the investigative agencies were cancelled when it became quite apparent that Pakistan’s ISI had a hand in the embassy blast at Kabul. None other than Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai went on record to confirm Islamabad’s involvement in the Kabul attack.

In what must have unnerved Pakistan, the United States had made a public announcement that it was conducting probe into the allegations of the ISI’s hand in the Kabul blast.

Official sources said India’s move was aimed at conveying its strong displeasure to Islamabad over the Kabul incident. However, New Delhi was determined to stay engaged with Islamabad and was committed to the peace process.

At a meeting in Islamabad today on cross-Loc measures, the two countries reviewed measures to ensure effective implementation of the existing measures.

The Indian delegation was led by T.C.A. Raghvan, joint secretary, ministry of external affairs, while the Pakistan delegation was headed by Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, director general, South Asia & SAARC.

France to meet deadline on Scorpenes
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
The Scorpene submarines will be delivered as per schedule to the Indian Navy and the technology, as agreed upon, will be transferred to India, asserted Jean-Marie Poimboeuf, chairman-cum-CEO of French company Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS) after holding a review meeting of the project that is under way at the Mazagon dock in Mumbai.

India has signed a deal for six submarines costing about $4 billion with France and the transfer of technology was one of the major components in it. The DCNS is one of the major naval shipbuilders of the world and they manufacture the Scorpene at their facility at Charboug in France.

Poimboeuf, who was in the Capital yesterday with his team, expressed satisfaction over the training of Indian technicians at the Mazagon dock, Mumbai. “We will deliver the first 1,800 tonne Scorpene submarine as per schedule in 2012 and one each will be delivered for the next five years till 2017.”

Talking to a select band of mediapersons after the meeting, he said France was very keen to transfer technology to India. Technology transfer includes training and building capacities. To start-off, even the tools of the existing unit of the DCNS in France have been shifted to Mazagon.

The DCNS team, that also had its India office director Xavier Marchal, said some shape of the first submarine would be visible by the end of this year. The hull of the Scorpene was being totally made in India and almost 30 per cent of the components would be sourced from Indian industries.

Agreements were being inked with local companies, said Paris-based Poimboeuf, while adding that products developed in India would also be used at the DCNS plant in Europe. This included the propulsion compression and the platform management system, he added. The French original equipment manufacturers are also being asked to have their own tie-ups in India.

Building a submarine was a far more complex task than building a ship, said the CEO. “We are training technicians from scratch. There has been no experience in the past as India has not made a boat in the past 20 years. About 100 Indian technicians have been trained in France and another 300 will be trained in Mumbai. The last time a submarine was built in India was in the late 1980s when under licence two German HDW submarines were built at Mazagon.”

The French government has put no restrictions at all on transfer of technology, Poimboeuf said.

The DCNS also interacted with defence ministry officials on future contracts, including for the next generation Scorpenes that would be capable of firing long-range air-breathing missiles.

Special security forces needed for Indian embassies
by Maj Gen (retd) Himmat Singh Gill

The recent bombing of the Indian Embassy at Kabul has centre-staged the question of a complete review and overhaul of the security apparatus that protects our interests abroad, in the various Mission Headquarters and their Consulates.

Our Foreign Office has no choice but to now meet this reality headlong with a comprehensive and near safe protective strategy, that has not been in evidence in recent years.

There are two kinds of security cordons that normally protect any Mission abroad. One is the covert and overt security cover provided by the host government, and the other is the local security that all Missions are supposed to manage within their own resources in and around their Chanceries and Consular Sections.

At Kabul the Afghan government failed to identify, trail or neutralise the lurking danger that lay waiting to ram the Embassy gate, or, as is known so far, give any warning or alert of a possible extremist attack which took place a few hundred metres from their Interior Ministry.

It also needs to be examined, in case, unknown to us, the Afghans had given such an advisory, what the action was that was taken by our Mission. We cannot lose very competent and exceptional officers of the kind that we have lost, who are picked out of thousands to look after Indian national interests abroad.

Secondly, coming to our Mission itself, there was during my time, over two decades ago, a plot of land being purchased in the diplomatic enclave of Wazir Akbar Khan, where the Indian Embassy was to be relocated.

The reason for doing so was that the current location was bang on the road where even a passerby could have hurled a grenade or fired a rocket launcher over the perimeter wall into the Mission offices.

One is not aware as to why in all these years, we never moved into the new location where well laid-back offices, with long drive-ins, that in themselves assure security of depth, was not considered as a viable option.

If we can give a Shanti Path to the foreign Missions in Delhi, then why cannot we ensure similar open spaces for our own Missions in foreign capitals? If India is to reach out as a global power in today’s troubled environment then any consideration including financial should not really matter.

Within the Embassy, not only in Kabul but world wide, our Foreign Office must also consider an additional and separate security cover (with spotters in plain clothes) for our Consular Sections, where the citizens, the soft targets, assemble in large numbers and which areas are easier to attack and get away from.

All our Missions, whether they are in our neighbourhood, Europe, South East Asia or Africa, which get a low priority at the best of times, but which could next be in the crosswire, must have a new, dedicated and properly trained security force to protect its personnel and establishment.

The Americans have regular Marines to protect their Missions. As seen from personal experience these combat soldiers are as good if not better than the American Army and have done a fine job securing their Missions in trouble spots like Saigon and Kabul.

There is a case here for a similar force drawn from the Indian Army/Rashtriya Rifles or even the Assam Rifles currently under the charge of the Home Ministry, to bridge the security gap, which is so glaringly obvious.

The sophistication of attack these days requires a sophisticated response, where we can enable our Ambassadors and their Military Attaches to better protect our interests. I mean no disrespect to any organisation but the time has come when station chiefs heading the intelligence agencies that are found in any country’s Mission, under some garb or the other, will be unable to meet the new threats.

And neither can the ITBP, which actually we had rushed to cover the road construction sites in Afghanistan, after our engineers were killed. They are not trained or equipped to carry out the task now being assigned to them in our Missions and Consulates.

The ISI will continue to haunt India but what is needed in these times is a dedicated force officered by the best, with its own trained manpower and logistics, placed under the Head of the Mission, to protect India’s interests.

An attack on a Mission is as bad as the attack that took place on the country’s Parliament some years back. The sacred memory of all those who recently perished at Kabul calls for expeditious remedial measures.

Japan drops troop plan for Afghanistan - media

Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:28pm EDT

TOKYO, July 18 (Reuters) - Japan has dropped a plan to send ground troops to Afghanistan after the ruling coalition failed to reach a consensus due to fears over the continuing violence in the area, Japanese media said on Friday.
Hard-pressed by the length of the campaign, the United States and NATO called on Japan to expand its support for military activities in Afghanistan, which currently consists of a naval refuelling mission in the Indian Ocean, the Asahi newspaper said.
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda was quoted as saying last month that Japan could send ground troops. But fact-finding missions dispatched to the area determined that the level of violence would make it difficult for Japan to provide troops or equipment such as aircraft, the Asahi and Kyodo news agency said.
Buddhist-backed New Komeito, the junior partner to Fukuda's main ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has expressed grave doubts about the proposed mission, the paper said.
Nine U.S. soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack near the Pakistani border this week, bringing to 892 the number of foreign military deaths since the Taliban government was toppled in 2001.
Japan's military activities are strictly curtailed by a U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution and troops may only be dispatched overseas to areas defined as "non-combat" zones.
While dropping the plan for more military support, the government intends to continue the refuelling mission, whose mandate expires in January, by passing related laws later this year, the paper said.
Last year the ruling coalition faced a battle with the opposition-dominated upper house over renewing the mission, which the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party's leader Ichiro Ozawa said breached the constitution.
Fukuda forced the renewal bill through by passing it a second time in the lower house with a two-thirds majority, but even this would not be possible for any legislation that did not have the support of New Komeito. (Reporting by Isabel Reynolds; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Defence Ministry suggests standards’ dilution for officers

July 18th, 2008 - 9:46 pm ICT by IANS -

New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) Failing to woo the youth to the Indian armed forces, the defence ministry has suggested a one-time waiver in the qualitative requirements (QRs) for officers to fill up the growing middle-rung vacancies in the forces - but this has not gone down well. “The waiver is one of the suggestions from the ministry to the armed forces and their opinion has been sought on it,” a defence ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Defence ministry Special Secretary P.K. Rastogi has made the suggestion in a letter to the chiefs of the army, the navy and the air force.

The armed forces have reacted to the suggestion with dismay.

“There cannot be a one-time waiver in the QRs as this will set a precedent and could affect the armed forces’ decision-making process in the long run,” an officer said, also requesting anonymity.

The armed forces have been maintaining that there is no dearth of people applying for recruitment as soldiers, with about 10,000 to 15,000 applications received for every vacancy. For the officer corps, however, there is an immense shortage of candidates with the right aptitudes and skills.

The defence forces need to take in 2,100 officers annually. But, against a sanctioned strength of 67,540 officers, the armed forces are currently short of a staggering 14,264.

The problem has further been aggravated with as many as 3,000 officers seeking premature retirement from just the army in the last three years, with most of them moving to the more lucrative corporate sector.

The defence ministry has also suggested the armed forces take a fresh look at requests for early retirement, as also consider re-employing retired officers.

“The forces have been asked to give their opinion on the reemployment of retired officers,” the official said.

China's next India war

CHINA’S RAPIDLY ACCUMULATING POWER is emboldening Beijing to pursue a more muscular foreign policy. After having touted its “peaceful rise”, it has shown a creeping propensity to flex its muscles — a tendency that has become more pronounced since it surprised the world with an anti-satellite weapon test in January 2007. Once the Beijing Olympics are over, it may not be long before China takes its gloves off. In fact, over the past year, its actions have ranged from provocatively seeking to assert its jurisdiction over islets claimed by Vietnam and staging large-scale war games in the South and East China Seas, to showcasing its new nuclear submarine capability and whipping up diplomatic spats with countries that grant official hospitality to the Dalai Lama.
What stands out the most is the perceptible hardening of China’s stance towards India. This is manifest from the Chinese military assertiveness on the ground — reflected in rising cross-border incursions — the supply of Chinese arms to rebels in India’s Northeast, the instigation of the Gorkhaland agitation via Nepal connections, and the waging of intermittent cyber-warfare by targeting official Indian websites. From Chinese forces in November 2007 destroying some makeshift Indian Army bunkers near Doka La, at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction, to the Chinese Foreign Minister’s May 2007 message that Beijing no longer was bound by a 2005 agreement that any border-related settlement should not disturb settled populations, bellicosity has been writ large.
Recent unfriendly actions include the post-midnight summoning of the Indian Ambassador in Beijing, slighting visiting External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee by cancelling his scheduled meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao, and deputing a junior functionary to receive earthquake-related relief from Mukherjee. These and other actions run counter to the stated aim of the high-level visits between the two countries to build a stable Sino-Indian relationship based on equilibrium and forward thinking. The public statements coming out from such visits, of course, are deceptively all sweetness and light.
The big question is: What objectives is China seeking to achieve by hardening its position? Indeed, it has gone to the extent of warning India of another 1962-style invasion through one of its state-run institutes. In a recent Mandarin-language commentary posted on the website of the International Institute of Strategic Studies of China,, the author, using an assumed name, cautioned an “arrogant India” not “to be evil” or else Chinese forces in war “will not pull back 30 kilometres” like in 1962. Such belligerence, which has led to more than three dozen Chinese military forays into Sikkim alone this year, has prompted India to redeploy forces by beefing up defences in the vulnerable Siliguri Corridor, stationing Sukhoi-30s in Tezpur and initiating moves to reactivate seven abandoned airstrips along the Himalayas.
China’s motives remain a puzzle. Yet there are several disturbing parallels between what is happening now and the events between 1959 and 1962 that led to the Chinese invasion. That aggression had been cleverly timed to coincide with the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of a nuclear Armageddon. Consider the following parallels:
» Like in the pre-war period, it has now again become commonplace internationally to speak of India and China in the same breath. The aim of “Mao’s India war” in 1962, as Harvard professor Roderick MacFarquhar has called it, were mainly political: to cut India to size by demolishing what it represented — a pluralistic, democratic model to China’s totalitarian political system. As Premier Zhou Enlai publicly admitted then, the war was intended “to teach India a lesson”. The swiftness and force with which Mao Zedong managed to teach India a lesson not only discredited the Indian model in the eyes of the world, but boosted China’s international image and consolidated the Chinese strongman’s internal power to the extent that he could go from his disastrous 1957-61 Great Leap Forward — the greatest genocide in modern history, surpassing even the Holocaust — to wreaking more damage in the name of the Cultural Revolution. It has taken India more than 45 years to again be paired with China — a comparison Beijing viscerally loathes.
» In the Mao years, China instigated and armed major insurgencies in India’s Northeast. That included the Naga rebels, with the China-trained Thuingaleng Muivah still the military chief of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah faction); the Mizo guerrilla movement whose leader Laldenga was openly embraced by Chinese leaders; and Manipur’s so-called People’s Liberation Army. Such assistance ceased after Mao’s death. But today, China may be coming full circle, with Chinese-made arms increasingly flowing into guerrilla ranks in the Northeast. Although an 11-year-old ceasefire between Naga militants and New Delhi has brought peace to Nagaland, several other parts of the Northeast are today wracked by insurgencies, allowing Beijing to fish in troubled waters.
» Like in the period up to 1962, there is a mismatch today between Indian talk and capability, offering a potential incentive to China to try and put India in its place. India’s power pretensions today are such that it believes it can punch above its weight. Yet the gaps in its defences make the parallel with the pre-1962 period glaring.
More than a decade after it went overtly nuclear, the country still lacks a barely minimal deterrent against China. To have peace with China, India needs to be able to defend peace. The advantages China has over India in military infrastructure and logistics, size of conventional forces and being on the upper heights can be neutralised only through an effective nuclear-missile capability. But India has still to deploy its first Beijing-reachable missile. Three decades after China tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, India doesn’t have an ICBM programme even in the pipeline, although it is spending a staggering $3.4 billion on a lunar project bereft of security benefits. While Jawaharlal Nehru made the mistake of chasing romantic goals, the present Prime Minister has consciously chosen deal-making over deterrent-building.
» Mirroring the confusion in New Delhi’s Beijing policy from the mid-1950s to 1962, India today lacks clarity on the ends and means of its strategy vis-à-vis China. Just as there was a propensity in the pre-war period to take Chinese statements at face value and condone furtive Chinese moves, including the nibbling at Indian territory, the Indian establishment today willingly makes allowances for China’s assertiveness. Nothing better illustrates this than Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor’s public assertion that India is as culpable as China in committing cross-border intrusions. His shocking statement not only made light of the increasing number of Chinese incursions, but also implicitly condoned China’s calculated refusal to clarify the frontline. To say the “Chinese have a different perception” of the frontline, as he did, is to disregard the fact that it suits China not to clarify the line of control and keep India under military pressure.
Such wanton indulgence — reminiscent of India’s pre-war miscalculations — can only embolden China to step up intrusions. In another reminder of that era, New Delhi first sought to sweep under the rug the November 2007 Chinese military action near Doka La, only to sheepishly admit the truth four months later, with Pranab Mukherjee telling Parliament last March that although Beijing accepts the Sikkim-Tibet border “as settled in the Anglo-Sikkim Convention of 1890”, “some bunkers have been destroyed and some activities have taken place”.
» Just as India retreated to a defensive position in the border negotiations with Beijing at the beginning of the 1960s after having undermined its leverage through its formal acceptance of the “Tibet region of China”, New Delhi today has drawn back to an untenable negotiating position. Instead of gently shining the spotlight on the core issue of Tibet and China’s continuing occupation of Aksai Chin, India is willing to discuss the newly assertive Chinese claim on Tawang. By contrast, Beijing sticks to its tested old line that what it occupies is Chinese territory and what it claims is also Chinese territory. So what it claims has to be on the negotiating table — a cynical stance India meekly countenances. As a consequence, the wounds of that 32-day war have been kept open by China’s claims to additional Indian areas even as it holds on to the territorial gains of that conflict.
The reality is that the trans-Himalayan military equations have been significantly changed by China’s July 2006 opening of the new railway to Lhasa. The railway, which is now being extended southward to Xigatse and then beyond to Nepal and to two separate points along the Indian border, arms Beijing with a rapid military deployment capability. It may not be a coincidence that China’s growing hardline approach has followed its infrastructure advances on the vast but sparsely populated Tibetan plateau, including the building of the railway and new airfields and highways. It is now constructing the world’s highest airport at Ngari, on the southwestern edge of Tibet. India can expect little respite from the direct and surrogate pressure China is mounting. Through Burma, Bangladesh and Nepal, it will seek to destabilise the Northeast. It will continue to prop up Pakistan militarily to help keep India boxed in on the subcontinent. In fact, it is now seeking to do a Burma in Sri Lanka by emerging as a key arms supplier to Colombo and building a billion-dollar port at Hambantota. More broadly, China has aggressively pursued port-related projects in the Indian Ocean rim countries. The symbols of such Chinese activity include Hambantota, Chittagong and Gwadar, now being expanded into a deepwater naval base. China’s ravenous pursuit of resources, including in India’s periphery, is another factor New Delhi cannot ignore. Constraints on resources are likely to become pronounced as more and more Indians and Chinese gain income to embrace modern comforts. The global demand for resources is set to soar, along with their prices. Beijing’s energy-import needs have come handy to expand Chinese maritime presence along vital sea-lanes.
An imperial energy age indeed appears to be dawning as a result of China’s aggressive resources-related diplomacy. Consider the following developments:
» The emergence of a 21st-century, energy-related Great Game, with China outmanoeuvring India. Beijing has used its rising energy imports as justification for openly advancing military objectives. While conserving its own oil-and-gas reserves, it has stepped up imports — a strategy it is also pursuing on key minerals. For example, it has more iron-ore reserves than India, yet 52% of Indian exports to China now consist of just one item — iron ore.
» Determined efforts to assert control over energy supplies and transport routes, including mercantilist moves to lock up long-term supplies. Such is China’s emphasis on legal ownership that it has been buying energy assets in faraway lands often at inflated prices.
The popular perception is that Chinese and Indian energy companies are engaged in fierce bidding wars to acquire overseas assets. But the cash-rich Chinese companies have easily beaten Indian competition everywhere. The only exception was the Akpo deepwater oil field in Nigeria, where India’s ONGC won the right to buy South Atlantic Petroleum’s 45% stake. The irony, however, is that New Delhi blocked ONGC from picking up that stake on grounds that the $2-billion investment entailed unacceptable risks as the Nigerian majority stakeholder was a dubious, politically manipulated shell company. But no sooner had ONGC backed out from the deal than the state-run China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) Ltd., China’s largest offshore oil producer, signed an accord on 9 January 2006, to pay $2.27 billion for the same 45% stake.
» China is actively pursuing access-gaining projects along the major trade arteries in the Indian Ocean rim. Consequently, it is beginning to position itself along the sea-lanes from the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea.
With an increasingly assertive China to the north, a China-allied Pakistan on the west, a Chinese-influenced Burma to the east, and growing Chinese naval interest in the Indian Ocean, India has to foil its strategic encirclement. India’s energy-security interests, in fact, demand that its Navy play a greater role in the Indian Ocean, a crucial international passageway for oil deliveries. In addition to safeguarding the sea-lanes, the Navy has to protect the country’s large energy infrastructure of onshore and offshore oil and gas wells, liquefied natural gas terminals, refineries, pipeline grids and oil-exploration work within the vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
» The establishment of interstate energy corridors (which also double up as strategic corridors) through the planned construction of pipelines to transport oil or gas sourced from third countries. China is busily fashioning two such corridors on either side of India through which it would transfer Gulf and African oil for its consumption, reducing its reliance on US-policed shipping lanes through the Malacca and Taiwan Straits and also cutting freight costs and supply time in the process.
One corridor extends northwards from the Chinese-built Pakistani port of Gwadar, which represents China’s first strategic foothold in the Arabian Sea. Located at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, Gwadar is to link up with the Trans-Karakoram Strategic Corridor to western China. The second is the Irrawaddy Corridor designed to connect Chinese-aided Burmese ports with China’s Yunnan, Sichuan and Chongqing provinces through road, river, rail and energy links.
» Strategic plans to assemble a “string of pearls” in the form of listening posts and special naval-access arrangements along the Indian Ocean sea-lanes. With its new blue-water navy and access arrangements around peninsular India, China is threatening to turn the Indian Ocean into the Chinese Ocean one day. As Navy chief Admiral Suresh Mehta said in a speech last January, “Each pearl in the string is a link in the chain of Chinese maritime presence”. That presence is now being extended all the way to Mauritius, where China is opening a trade development zone at a cost of some $730 million, making it the largest foreign direct investment in that island-nation.
Add to this picture another resource issue, the one with the greatest strategic bearing on the long-term interests of India and China — water. Although India’s usable arable land is larger than China’s — 160.5 million hectares compared to 137.1 million hectares — the source of all the major Indian rivers except the Ganges is the Chinese-held Tibetan plateau. But even the two main tributaries of the Ganges flow in from the Tibetan plateau — the source of the great river systems of China, South-East and South Asia, including the Brahmaputra, Indus, Mekong, Salween, Yangzi and Yellow. These rivers, fed by Himalayan snowmelt, are a lifeline to the 1.4 billion people living in their basins.
Given China’s ambitious inter-basin and inter-river water transfer projects in the Tibetan plateau and its upstream damming of the Brahmaputra, Sutlej and other rivers, water is likely to become a cause of Sino-Indian tensions. If President Hu Jintao — a hydrologist by training who has served as party secretary in Tibet — begins China’s long-pending project to divert the waters of the Brahmaputra northwards to the parched Yellow River, it would constitute the declaration of a water war on lower-riparian India and Bangladesh. Climate change, in any event, will have a significant impact on the availability and flow of river waters from the Himalayas and Tibetan highlands, making water a key element in the national-security calculus of China and India.
The centrality of the Tibet issue has been highlighted both by China’s Tibet-linked territorial claim to Arunachal Pradesh and by its hydro projects on the plateau. Through its water-transfer projects, Beijing is threatening to fashion water into a weapon against India. Also, given the clear link between Tibet’s fragile ecosystem and the climatic stability of the Indian subcontinent, China’s reckless exploitation of Tibet’s vast mineral resources and its large engineering works there are already playing havoc with the ecology.
India and China may be 5,000-year-old civilisations, but it is often forgotten that the two have been neighbours for only the past 58 years. After all, it wasn’t geography but guns — the sudden occupation of the traditional buffer, Tibet, soon after the Communists came to power in Beijing — that made China India’s neighbour. Nehru later admitted he had not anticipated the swiftness and callousness with which China forcibly absorbed Tibet because he had been “led to believe by the Chinese foreign office that the Chinese would settle the future of Tibet in a peaceful manner by direct negotiation with the representatives of Tibet”.
Latest developments are a reminder that the 1962 war did not fully slake China’s geopolitical or territorial ambitions. In fact, instead of building a win-win relationship with India based on a constructive, forward-looking approach, China still harks back to the past, to the unfinished business of 1962, by assertively laying claim to additional Indian territories while blocking progress on defining the long line of control separating the two countries. Such intransigence and expansionist intent come even as it continues to occupy one-fifth of the original state of Jammu and Kashmir and steps up its cross-border incursions into India.
It is against this background that a key question emerges: what if China sets out to “teach India a lesson” again? This is a question that can no longer be brushed aside, considering China’s growing proclivity to up the ante against India. Henry Kissinger once said China is a closed society with an open mind, while India is an open society with a closed mind and a know-all attitude. It was that attitude — and the refusal to heed the warning signs — that caught India by surprise when the Chinese army poured in through two separate fronts in 1962.
Today, two words define India’s China policy: confusion and forbearance. Caution with prudence is desirable. But can India afford to be overcautious, clueless and indulgent? In the celebrated words of Edmund Burke, those who fail to learn from history are sure to repeat history. Whatever India learned from 1962 seems to have been forgotten, with the country now torn by internal squabbling and policy disarray
Brahma Chellaney is Professor of Strategic Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

Indra’s Drishtikona (Viewpoint)

My online journal with thoughts, opinions, comments and more..

Arjun Looses Main Battle

Posted : July 19, 2008 at 5:51 am [IST]

Many years ago in a visit to a machine tool company in Germany, I came across a very sophisticated production line for manufacturing the components of Arjuna tanks. Only the defence could afford those sophistications of CNC flexible manufacturing system with full automation. Over the years, the PSUs under the defence ministry have created huge production capacities with investment running in billions of dollars. However, we hardly come to know of its effective utilization and efficiency. And no management and technical norms can justify that. And the reason of such misappropriation of taxpayers’ money is the ego war of the executives of various establishments and their vested interests.

Time and again, the news about the prestigious main battle tank Arjun that DRDO designed and developed have appeared in media. The latest relates that while DRDO wants the army to orderdoes not want anything more than the 124 Arjuns already ordered. Army wants to replace all its older through the progressive induction of Russian-origin T-90S tanks. 500 Arjun tanks to stabilise production lines and pave the way for the development of a “futuristic” MBT (Main Battle tank), the Army

According to the report, Chennai-based Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) had last year handed over 14 Arjuns to the Army for trials. However, the army returned them listing various defects some related to its defects in its fire control systems, inaccuracy of guns, low speeds in tactical areas such as deserts and inability to operate in temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius. This summer too Army and the DRDO took out Arjuns for trials. But no positive report has come. Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry suspects an effort at “sabotaging” Arjun tanks.

As it appears, the main battle is between the DRDO, CVRDE and army.

Going in the story, it appears to be a typical case of total lack of coordination and accountability. The end user is to participate positively in product development. The designers and manufacturing must take care of all the defects pointed out by the army. For getting the defects solved, the team can take services of all the experts in the technologies from anywhere in the country or even from abroad. Nothing justifies the abandonment of the project that has cost so much for the nation.

However, if the army wishes to keep on importing the tanks and intends to create obstacles in indigenising by raising various quality issues, Arjun can’t get inducted. The product development must be a joint responsibility and carried out by a team with the members from all concerned divisions. The technocrats in army must participate with equal responsibility. Is it so difficult to get the problems of quality of MBT sorted out in a country that is known world over for its innovative skills and talents?

Many doubt the Indian Army’s decision of not to accept any more home-grown Arjun main battle tanks (MBTs) emanating from the pressure of the powerful defence lobbyists and middlemen, who earn huge commissions from importing defence arsenal. It is to keep the middlemen happy and in turn to get the favours from them.

What a mess of a great indigenisation project that the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has been working on the tank for 36 years and the cost for the country of millions of poor men. But for the outdated policies and management practices, the Arjuna MBT project could have generated armies of small and big manufacturing vendors and employment in thousands.
Will Arjuna loose the battle or some Krishna (may be the defense minister or even the prime miinister, known as the most honest politicians) make him win?

- Indra

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