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Tuesday, 18 November 2008

From Today's Papers - 18 Nov


From Lt Col (Retd) Harbhajan Singh Cheema

I am quite amazed at reading Mr. D.R. Sarin`s letter to editor giving his expert opinion as HR Consultant. He is convinced (as so called expert in job evaluation system) that there is no logic in comparing pay scales of Army Officers vis-à-vis IAS and IPS officers. He further states that risk of life as a job hazard for Army officer cannot be stretched beyond a point and it is to be treated only as one of the factors to be evaluated in the system. He than lists the complex job of a District Collector or Deputy Commissioner vis law and order, development and planning. He is further convinced that Sixth Pay Commission must have followed its own job evaluation system.

Sitting in AC office, with very limited accountability, doing development planning which may often not work is being given much higher weightage than operating at above twenty thousand ft in sub 0 temperature. Mr Sarin seems to think life as renewable energy and limbs replaceable like vehicle spare parts. How do we compare an Army officer leading thousand troops to face the enemy bullets vis-à-vis a DC ensconced in comfortable Air Conditioned office and planning development work for lacs of people? I would suggest Mr. Sarin to spend a couple of weeks in Siachin, come back and decide about the factors he is talking about. I would also request him to tell us all as to how many hrs of sleep he got, if at all he slept! Now about accountability, I would request Mr Sareen to tell us as to how many Deputy Commissioners and SSPs have been sacked for their failure to perform their tasks? Non I am sure. Armed Forces for his information have 0 tolerances to in efficiency. How about the civilian bureaucrats living in comforts of family life and Armed Forces house wives fending for themselves out of touch with their husbands in remote areas? I would not blame Mr. Sarin for his lack of appreciation of Forces Work Ethos as he has been closely associated with the babus who are the cause of this situation.

Lt Col (Retd) Harbhajan Singh Cheema

IAF's joint exercise with China on cards
17 Nov 2008, 1605 hrs IST,PTI


NAGPUR: A joint exercise of Indian Air Force (IAF) and its Chinese counterpart has been planned as part of building up strong ties with Republic of China, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, who recently paid a visit to the neighbouring country, said on Monday.

"My recent visit to China was successful one and had useful discussions with the counterpart there and we have planned a joint air force exercise in near future which will be first of such kind with China," Fali Homi Major told a press conference.

"Though no schedule has been drawn right now, it may take sooner or later," the he said, adding "the Chinese army is coming for joint army exercise in December in Belgaum. The 'Surya Kiran' aircraft team displayed an excellent aerobatic show there during the visit."

On acquisition of 126 fighter aircraft for IAF, he said the process is on and flight evaluation will take place shortly before final induction of these planes.

Admitting gaps in air defence system which has been pointed out by the CAG in its report, the Air Chief Marshal said the government was for strengthening our radar system and new systems are being acquired.

"Many such radars and missile systems are in the pipeline," he added.

Most wanted: Lt Col linked to more blasts

Agencies

HIS WAR: The Mumbai police claims Purohit organised explosives for Malegaon bombers.

New Delhi: The list of investigating agencies that want to question Lt. Col. Srikant Prasad Purohit, the Army officer under arrest for the Malegaon blast, is getting longer.

Purohit and nine other people have so far been arrested for the Malegaon blast on September 29 bombing in which five people were killed. Purohit is alleged to have trained the people who carried out the blast and supplied explosives.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Haryana Police wants Purohit's custody to interrogate him in connection with the explosion on the Samjhauta Express train between India and Pakistan in February 2007.

The Haryana ATS has questioned Purohit and Dayanand Pandey, the self-styled pontiff from Kanpur arrested in connection with Malegaon explosions, for their suspected involvement in Samjhauta Express blast which killed 68 people.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) wants to question Purohit in connection with the Mecca Masjid blasts in Hyderabad in May 2007. In the Mecca Masjid blasts as many as 14 people were killed and over 50 injured.

The case was investigated by the Hyderabad police's special wing and was later handed over to the CBI, which could not come to any conclusion.

The country's defence services insist that Purohit's arrest is a rare exception. Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major on Monday said Purohit's arrest "a minor aberration''.

''We have a million-strong military. Purohit's is but one case. It is no big deal,'' he said.

Supplies for US-led Forces
Start Moving from Pakistan Again

By Muhammad Najeeb

Islamabad
Twenty trucks carrying goods for the US-led forces Monday left for Afghanistan from Pakistan's tribal areas though more than 100 trucks were still waiting to move forward after a series of militant attacks, a security official said.

The official said that more than 100 trucks were still parked in Khyber Agency of the tribal areas because of the security situation and attacks on the transport caravans by militants.

Most of the goods for the US, NATO and ISAF forces are transported through Pakistan under the transit trade agreement with Afghanistan.

While the forces also use air routes for emergency aid, the preferred route is through Pakistan as Iran had denied such a facility to the forces operating in Afghanistan since the operation in the war-torn country was launched after the 9/11 attacks.

On Nov 10, twelve trucks loaded with food and other goods were hijacked with 26 members of the transport staff from Khyber Agency when they were going to Afghanistan.

Ten drivers of the trucks have been released while others are still missing. All the 12 vehicles have been recovered from different areas of Khyber Agency but the militants had looted all goods from them.

Since then the transporters had refused to travel to Afghanistan without security.

"Now the adequate security have been provided and 20 trucks have left for Afghanistan," the official told IANS.

Khyber Agency is an important area en route to Afghanistan and trade caravans pass from there for Kabul and other provinces.

Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin had been kidnapped from the agency this year and was released after almost five months.

The militants group known as local Taliban had warned last month that they would not allow the trucks carrying goods for ISAF forces if raids in tribal areas by the US-led forces were not stopped. More than 100 people have died in drone attacks inside Pakistan by the US forces.

The transporters have also claimed damages from the traders responsible for supplying goods to the ISAF forces as they their trucks are stranded in Peshawar and Khyber Agency.

"The traders will have to pay us extra for all these days... the standing trucks are not fetching us anything and traders are responsible for this as this is their responsibility to provide us security," Wali Shah, a transporter, told IANS.

Blackmail won't work, India may dump Gorshkov deal

Vishal Thapar

CNN-IBN

CALLING THE BLUFF: Indian Navy heads have said that they are drawing the line and will not give in to pressure.

New Delhi: "Pay up $2 billion more for the aircraft carrier Gorshkov, or else we call off the deal" - that was the Russian threat on Friday. But if the Russians had expected the Indians to whimper and comply, they were sadly mistaken.

Former Indian Navy chief, admiral (Retd) Arun Prakash said, "This is nothing but sheer, bare-faced blackmail."

Russia suddenly upped the price three years after it signed a $750 million contract for supplying the refurbished Admiral Gorshkov to India. However, the Navy Chief gave enough indication that India's patience with Russia was running thin.

Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta said, "I don't think that there is anything like they taking advantage of us, because we can also put our foot down and say it's a government to government contract."

Under pressure, India snubbed its tough talking Navy Chief last year and agreed to renegotiate the price. But with Russia now serving an ultimatum, opinion in India is building up against the deal.

Admiral Arun Prakash says, "The long-term price that we pay for 25 years of mischief, of twisting our arm will be much more than what we pay now."

But India urgently needs a replacement for its only aircraft carrier, the ageing Viraat. The indigenous carrier is still many years away. So, can India do without the Gorshkov?

Admiral Arun Prakash says, "I don't think there will be a catastrophe if we don't get the Gorshkov. India can do without carrier for a year or two. There is a doctrine built around carrier battle groups, but a void can be managed for sometime by other strategic measures."

'Call the bluff and draw the line' - that's the Navy's message for the Government at the moment.

Sri Lanka: Army seizes more LTTE areas

PTI | November 17, 2008 | 17:54 IST

Advancing Sri Lankan troops today made further inroads into tiger strongholds capturing the strategic town of Mankulam just adjacent to their prized goal of Kilinochchi as reports said a worried LTTE was sending its top commanders to the battlefront.

Government troops backed by fighter jets also seized Kumalamunai near the other strong LTTE base of Mulaitivu, a military spokesman said.

However, the tigers claimed they had beaten back an attempt by Lankan troops to breach the new LTTE defence line at Muhamalai in the Jaffna Peninsula killing 20 soldiers.

Confirming the capture of Mankulam, a military spokesman said that with this the vital supply lines of the beleaguered LTTE cadres inside the Kilinochchi town had been snapped.

With the capture of the new town, the Sri Lankan forces have recaptured three strategic towns which have been under Tiger sway for over long.

Apparently, stuck by recent spate of reverses, the Tigers according to sources in the rebel-held areas have sent experienced and senior commanders to lead their forces in defending areas still held by them.

Some of the top commanders identified as, Jerry, Muhundan, Kadalparidi, Puhalendi and Sendeer are now assisting LTTEfighters in the Northern battlefront.

Sri Lankan infantry's relentless push deep into the tiger areas is being assisted by heavy carpet bombing by air Force Kfir fighter and MI-24 gunships.

Before entering the Manakulam town, Lankan troops sent commando groups to cut off a stretch of the Mankulama- Oddusudan main road yesterday.

LTTE rebels also suffered reverses and suffered heavy damage as its cadres are now caught between advancing troops and forces already entrenched in the Jaffna area.

According to Jaffna military sources, troops have also destroyed parts of the LTTE constructed earth bund-cum-ditch defences, with some forward elements gaining control over some parts of the defences along the bund-line, the officials said.

Army has also deployed the mechanized infantry battalionin support of the rear defences, it said quoting sources.

WB: MiG-23 trainer jet crashes; pilots safe

PTI | November 17, 2008 | 15:05 IST

A MiG-23 trainer fighter aircraft from the Hashimara airbase of Indian Air Force on Monday crashed near Alipurduar in north Bengal, but the two pilots bailed out to safety.

This is the seventh IAF aircraft crash this year and the third MiG to crash in the Dooars region of North Bengal.

The two pilots -- Wing Commander Sisodia and Flight Lieutenant Karthik -- were on a training sortie on the MiG-23 twin-seater jet when they took off from Hashimara in Jalpaiguri district at 1220 hours.

Within 15 minutes of take-off, the two pilots complained of trouble and the aircraft crashed at 1236 hours, IAF sources said here.

"A MiG-23 trainer aircraft of IAF crashed near Air Force Station Hashimara on Monday. The aircraft had got airborne from Hashimara air base and was on a routine training-flying mission. The pilots ejected safely. The IAF has ordered a court of inquiry into the cause of the mishap," an IAF official said in New Delhi.

No damage to civilian property or loss of lives was reported from the site of the crash, sources added.

Alipurduar Additional Superintendent of Police Sabyasachi Mishra said the aircraft crashed at Nararthali area in his jurisdiction with the debris hitting a 'kutcha' house, setting it on fire.

The occupants of the house were working in the fields at the time. The debris of the fighter jet was scattered over a radius of 2 km. A search was on for the aircraft's black box, Mishra added.

With this mishap, the number of MiG crashes in 2008 rose to five. IAF has lost MiG-21s from Bhuj, Bagdogra and Chabua in Assam in the crashes on February 15, May 23 and November 12 respectively.

In the other crashes this year, a MiG-27 based in Hashimara was lost on January 31, 'Hawk' Advanced Jet trainer at Bidar on April 30 and a HPT 'Kiran' trainer aircraft on May 12 this year.

The Air Force has been facing problems with the Russian-designed MiG fighters.

With these aircraft flying with the IAF beyond their service life, the Air Headquarters has plans to replace them in about five years with 126 multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) and the indigenously-built 'Tejas' Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), which is under development at HAL Bangalore.

While the MRCA are likely to be inducted before 2013, the LCA induction is scheduled for 2011.

With ageing combat aircraft being phased out, the IAF's fighter fleet strength has come down drastically to 32 squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 39.5 squadrons.

In 2006, the number of squadrons went down to an alarming 29 squadrons, but has since then improved with induction of British-made 'Hawks' and raising of new Russian-made Sukhoi squadrons.

MIG-27 crashes in Bengal

Siliguri, November 17
A MIG-27 aircraft of the Indian Air Force on a routine sortie crashed into a house, injuring two persons at Alipurduar in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal today, the police said.

Kumargram police station officer Tirtha Bhattacharjee said the MIG crashed into the house at 12.45pm, about 50 km east of Hasimara air base. He said two persons on the ground were injured and the house caught fire immediately after the accident.

Bhattacharjee said the pilot was unhurt and safe. His name and designation were yet to be known. Senior Army and Air Force officials have rushed to the scene of accident, he added. — UNI

Lt Gen Fabrizio Castagnetti, Chief of Italian Army arrived India

Lt Gen Fabrizio Castagnetti, Chief of the Italian Army Staff arrived at New Delhi today and given a Guard of Honour at South Block. He is visiting India on an official tour from 17-21 Nov 08 on a reciprocal visit and cement our bonds of friendship further. His visit will not only enhance the existing military cooperation between the two countries but will also open up new opportunities for training cooperation.

With a view to build up a strategic partnership to achieve synergy for development and economic growth, there has been a regular exchange of visits between the political, diplomatic and military hierarchy of the two countries. To enhance Army to Army relations, Indian Army Chief visited Italy in Mar 2007.

During his visit, the Italian Army Chief will interact with senior military and civilian defence hierarchy, discuss defence related issues and prospects for future cooperation between two Armies. With shared commitment to United Nation objectives and common concerns on increased global terrorism, discussions on global and regional security situation are envisaged. In addition, visits to Defence Research and Development Organization, Indian Army Field Formations and training institutions are also being organized.

Rajapaksa's 4 'Ds'
Time For India To Intervene In Sri Lanka

By Sam Rajappa

When the Sri Lanka President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on 13 November he bluntly refused to declare a cease-fire in the Northern Province where its armed forces are involved in an intensive war against the LTTE. Although India had declared the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, it is fully aware the militant group is engaged in a liberation struggle for the political rights of the ethnic Tamils in the island nation, its failure to bring about a cease-fire has made the UPA government shaky.
The DMK, whose support is crucial for the survival of the UPA, has threatened to withdraw its six ministers from the Union council of ministers. In Tamil Nadu, every political party and all sections of society are agitated at the ease with which Rajapaksa snubbed Manmohan Singh during their Delhi meeting by asserting the war would continue till the LTTE was liquidated and terrorism was eradicated from the island.

Genocidal war

Terrorism is a phenomena of the 21st century from which no country is free. India has its own share of terrorism as well as separatist agitation in states like Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and the North-East. The Naxalites have created a Red Corridor stretching from the Indo-Nepalese border in the north to Karnataka in the south. But India does not indiscriminately bomb these areas or wage a full-scale war against its own citizens as Sri Lanka is doing against its ethnic minority.
The war in Sri Lanka is genocidal in nature. Genocide is defined in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as "an act committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group." Starting with the cold-blooded massacre of more than 3,000 Tamils in Colombo in July 1983, successive Sri Lankan governments have tried to wipe out the ethnic minority.
According to B. Nadesan, political head of the LTTE, the entry point to the Tamil districts of Kilinochchi and Mulaitheevu at Oamanthai in Vavuniya has been closed since the 12th of this month, creating a human crisis affecting emergency patients and supply of medicines to civilian hospitals. Intense shelling by the army on the entry point has forced the International Committee of Red Cross officials posted there to leave. By imposing a sanction on food, medicines and by maintaining an inhumane economic blockade, the Sri Lankan government is determined to carry on the genocidal war. Every time a convoy of medical supplies leaves for the Tamil districts, the Ministry of Defence grants permission to pass through the entry point. But the military officials manning the entry point will find some excuse to deny entry to the convoy or to delay it. Earlier this month, a lorry with oxygen cylinders was held back for several days at Oamanthai while acute shortage of oxygen prevailed in the intensive care units of the hospitals. All this was happening at a time Rajapaksa was assuring Manmohan Singh in person that the Tamils were safe and well looked after by his government.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly on 12 November unanimously passed a resolution demanding an immediate halt to military operations in Sri Lanka and begin political negotiations to find a solution to the ethnic problem. It called upon the Government of India to initiate steps to guarantee the right to life, property, livelihood, equality and to bring back normalcy to the Tamils of Sri Lanka. It was on the basis of this resolution that Manmohan Singh asked Rajapaksa to declare a cease-fire to which the Sri Lankan President said: "We must eradicate terrorism first. We cannot pass this on to the next generation. We will look after the Tamils. Nothing will happen to them. It is my duty."
In this unequal war, the Sri Lankan armed forces have lost about 8,000 people against 70,000 Tamils killed and 700,000 internally displaced in the traditional Tamil homeland. New Delhi's inability to persuade Colombo to declare a cease-fire and continued military support to Sri Lanka to carry on this war has led to the recrudescence of separatist and secessionist forces in Tamil Nadu. The UPA government cannot escape responsibility for this unhealthy development.
The ease with which the Sinhala-majority, post-Independent governments in Colombo had discarded the Soulbury Constitution with adequate protection to the minorities against discrimination, replaced it with the present unitarian Constitution and established Sri Lanka as the Sihadipa, the land of the Sinhalese, and the Dhammadipa, the land where the Dhamma reigned supreme with the Sinhalese Buddhists as the chosen people ordained to preserve Theravada Buddhism, are clear indications that the ruling class has no intention of giving equal rights to the Tamils. Call for a separate Tamil Eelam and the emergence of Tamil militancy are the direct result of Sinhala chauvinism. That Rajapaksa has no intention of finding a political solution to the ethnic crisis is evident from his new talking points built around his 4-D approach. Unveiling it to his favourite Indian newspaper editor, he said: "The current military operations are being carried out to build the environment required to free our own Tamil brothers and sisters from the cruel grip of terror and implement a just and enduring political solution based on the four 'Ds' ~ Demilitarisation, Democratisation, Development, and Devolution." When asked if the four 'Ds' were in the same order, he said: "Yes. Without demilitarisation no democratisation, no development, no devolution." The first stage of demilitarisation will not be achieved when no political solution is in sight. The long suffering Tamils will not turn against the LTTE without the political solution that instills confidence about their safety, security, rights and future. The present system undermines the sovereign rights of ethnic minorities. The Tamils will distance themselves from the LTTE only if the Sri Lankan government offers a substantial power sharing package to the minorities and make the LTTE's goal of separate Eelam superfluous and the war to achieve it unnecessary.
The problem with Rajapaksa is he places great emphasis on rhetoric without any intention of implementing promises. In the Eastern Province, he succeeded in achieving his first three 'Ds' but when it came to devolution, the fourth 'D' he reneged.

Political solution

In another interview to an Indian weekly published from Delhi, Rajapaksa exposed his true intentions by saying: "I believe that if the southern political parties (JHU, JVP and the Patriotic National Front with whose support he was elected President) that form the majority do not accept a political solution then we cannot implement it. I do not want to thrust a solution on parties. If I can have all the parties agree to a solution to solve the problem it would be by the people. Otherwise there will be riots and no government will be able to implement it."
It is now quite clear that Sri Lanka is incapable of resolving the ethnic crisis by itself. As the regional power, India has a moral responsibility which it exercised when JVP insurgents were about to overthrow the government in the 1960s. Similarly, when Maldives faced a coup a few years ago, India sent its paratroopers to restore the duly elected government. The UPA government lacks the will to intervene in Sri Lanka when the situation demands it. The least New Delhi could do is to take the issue to the UN for resolution under the doctrine of "Responsibility to Protect." American President-elect Barack Obama sees the Sri Lankan conflict not as a "war on terrorism" as Bush did but as a civil war for the political rights of the Tamil minority and there could be a paradigm change in the US policy after 20 January. It is the most opportune time for India to intervene before the initiative is taken by countries away from the Indian Ocean rim to avoid Sri Lanka turning into another Congo.

(The writer, a veteran journalist, is director, The Statesman Print Journalism School.)

Private military schools unwanted
by Maj-Gen (retd) Himmat Singh Gill

THE recent arrest of a serving and retired army officer along with a Sadhvi allegedly in connection with the Malegaon bomb blast case has brought to the centrestage a malaise that seems to have crept into the sacrosanct and apolitical structure of the country's armed forces.

The matter assumes serious proportions when even DCOAS Lt-Gen SPS Dhillon has been constrained to admit that the incident involving a serving Lieutenant-Colonel has hurt the prestige of the Indian Army. That the officer belongs to the Army's Intelligence Corps, the highest custodian of intelligence operations within the service, only adds to the intensity and gravity of the problem that the armed forces are faced with.

While proper investigations will no doubt fix responsibility and punishment where called for, it is the first time that the alleged involvement of Service officers is being investigated by the Anti-Terrorist Squad. This should ring alarm bells for anyone even remotely concerned with the integrity and security of the country.

Charges of conspiracy, training in handling explosives, funding, necessary logistics support for the venture and being present at a congregation where conversion of people of certain faiths to another faith was being advocated by the Sadhvi do indicate a disturbing trend within a section of the serving and retired soldiery.

Possibly misplaced notions of nationalism and religiosity have led some to the path of unidirectional social reformation of a peculiar kind in which certain organisations like Abhinav Bharat and the military school at Nashik may or may not be involved, going by the information available at the moment.

In India, where we have the Home Guards, the National Cadet Corps, the NDA and the IMA, just to name a few, the relevance of having privately run military schools is not understood. Who funds these outfits, for the government surely does not?

Is any monitoring by the government done of what they teach, who are on their faculty, what is the kind of literature and pamphlets they publish, what is their syllabus and who does their yearly audit to ensure that money from unauthorised or anti-national sources does not reach these institutions?

It is also beyond comprehension if a senior serving officer of the Indian Army has attended such meetings and whether such an officer reported this activity and all that had transpired there to his seniors at the first available opportunity.

Such actions of intelligence gathering are, of course, sanctioned at the highest level of command after giving much thought to it. The counter-intelligence wings of our armed forces would do well to institute detailed checks within their own organisations to plug all the loopholes and guard against the presence of moles, which is otherwise a standard practice.

At the same time, the legal position also needs to be looked into as to which kind of societies termed educational in nature can be allowed to operate and which fall under the objectionable category.

Or, for that matter, what is the dividing line between an educational and a religious society? This is important for India where communities run societies and trusts of this kind, and where permission to set up these is easily forthcoming

The other more serious issue is that of one of the Army officers having admitted to meeting Sadhvi Pragya .While in service we would never dream of even getting anywhere near any religious figure of our own or any other community, for a serving soldier's mission and line of national service is well defined.

How and why such things have started happening now is a question that our senior commanders and captains of society, who are politicians, need to ask themselves most urgently.

For politicians to tinker around with the ethos and culture of the armed forces is not to be wise, and any sign of disgruntlement or unhappiness on any perceived or actual injustice needs to be addressed at the first available opportunity.

While it is the right and privilege of a soldier to follow and practise his own faith and that we do in our unit gurdwaras, mandirs and masjids, too much emphasis on religious symbols often deviates from the call of national service and field service duty, where some kind of uniformity is called for.

In the present case, there are already unconfirmed reports in a section of the Press that the firebrand VHP leader, Pravin Togadia, had tried to woo Lt-Col Shrikant Purohit to his fold.

What we are seeing in the Malegaon blast case are, to my mind, manifestations of an overdose of religiosity in a few individuals and some organisations vying for a political base and patronage in today's murky game of politics.

India to boost oil, defence ties with Ecuador

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Foreign Minister of Ecuador Maria Isabel Salvador met her counterpart, Pranab Mukherjee, on Monday with a close relationship in oil and defence between these geographically distant countries high on the agenda. On the oil front, the new government in Ecuador has reversed the earlier revenue-sharing arrangements with western oil companies and is now keen on striking new partnerships with state-owned companies from China, Russia and India.

Oil-rich Ecuador has opened talks with ONGC Videsh which the Ambassador of Ecuador Carlos Abad described as "good for us because we now prefer state-owned companies."

An ONGC Videsh team will leave for Ecuador in the next few weeks for negotiations of contracts. Mr. Abad is hopeful of deals being inked in case a presidential visit is worked out for the second half of next year. Chinese company Sinopec and Petrobras from Brazil have already established a foothold and negotiations are on with a Russian company for a 20 per cent stake in a Spanish-Argentinean joint venture.

In the defence sector, Ecuador became the first country to sign a contract for purchasing the indigenously made Dhruv helicopters of which one will be for use by its President. The Embassy here has expanded its setup with the appointment of a Military Attache and prospects appear bright for more defence exports as Ecuador has agreed to be the servicing hub in South America for Indian defence equipment.

The distance and language barriers between India and Ecuador were, however, broken by the medium that knows no barriers — information technology. The first-ever Indian restaurant set up in Quito now caters to a substantial expatriate population that is running software development centres. In addition, TCS has bagged a $150 million order from Banco Pichincha. Impressed by the work ethics of the Tata Group company, Banco Pichincha has now opened talks on setting up an auto ancillary unit. "The global financial crisis has led to even the Tatas having problems. It will be interesting for the Tatas to open a new market," Mr. Abad said.

"We have departed from the neo-liberal policies that were not working in Latin America. We had a very heavy debt burden but the new government has changed the priorities. Earlier, the first call on our revenues was by the international banks but now we focus on health, education and eradication of poverty. Of course, the big banks in New York did not like it. But that is their problem. Besides, the President stopped the free trade arrangement negotiations with the U.S. Yet, 50 per cent of our trade is with the U.S. That is why we want to have a special relationship with Asia," he said.

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