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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

From Today's Papers - 10 Feb 09

Army to use trade fairs to sell military career

http://track.gslb.in.yahoo.com/news/in/track/most_viewed.html?prop=in&type=n&cat=nl&id=/32/20090209/1053/tnl-army-to-use-trade-fairs-to-sell-mili&sig=lWgBLCHhHCcNw7ADTyjkWw--&ts=1234154719

Mon, Feb 9 12:20 AM

Concerned over growing disinterest among the youth for defence services, the armed forces are now looking at various methods to make the youth aware about immense possibilities in defence services. One such method the Army has adopted is participating in trade fairs where a whole set up of armed forces can be seen separately displaying what a youth can get from the job.

These are part of a policy shift to make the youth aware of the forces and inspire them to join. "We want officers and jawaans but youths are not turning up according to our expectations," said senior recruiting officer of Army.

"This trend is more or less spread all over Uttarakhand but seen more in Kumaon region. Even after increase in salaries of the lower ranks, the recruitment board is not getting a good response," he added.

As compared to plains where more than 50,000 youths gather for recruitment rallies, the districts of Kumaon, particularly Nainital, Bageshwar, Champawat and others, witness less number of youths at these rallies. The officer said, "There are hassles in recruitment as we have certain fundamental requirements for doing so.

For that we need infrastructure, healthcare facilities, boarding and lodging facilities and besides that we need support from the local administration, which we don't get normally." He said for organisng a recruitment rally they need grounds with 400-meter track for open field events, accommodation for officers in non-army areas, assistance from local administration in medical and boarding of youths participating in the rally.

"And not many administrations come forward to arrange for accommodation for youths who come to participate in the recruitment rallies.""It is only Rudrapur administration in Udham Singh Nagar district which has helped the Army overwhelmingly during a recent rally," the officer added.

DRDO 'very slow' on projects: Antony
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 9
With an international audience watching the proceedings, India today laid bare its frustration over the inability to develop world-class weapon systems.

"When our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru set up the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), he wanted to see India attaining self-sufficiency in weapon production. But, to date only 30 per cent of our defence equipments are indigenously produced, while 70 per cent are purchased from abroad," Defence Minister A K Antony said while giving the presidential address at an international seminar organised here on the occasion of Aero India 2009.

Besides India, delegates from 12 different countries, including the USA, the UK, Russia, France and Brazil, are participating in the seminar - "Trends and perspectives in the aerospace technologies".

The Defence Minister was not deterred by presence of foreigners among the audience and decided to speak his mind out. Ironically, it was DRDO, the organiser of the seminar, which bore the brunt of the Defence Minister's outburst.

Antony said the DRDO was "very slow" in execution of projects. "Your delivery is very slow", Antony said looking at DRDO chief M Natarajan, who was sitting on the dais. The Congress leader from Kerala kept a smiling face but did not mince his words while airing his dissatisfaction over the performance of the DRDO. "You take too much time" (to complete a project), he said.

The Defence Minister did not confine his criticism to the DRDO alone. He also pulled up public sector undertakings entrusted with making equipments for the defence forces. They were all "very slow" in producing results, Antony said and asked them to "speed up".

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chief Ashok K Baweja represented public sector on the dais.

Antony promised to enhance funding for R&D activities for the defence sector. "Now only 6 per cent of the defence budget is spent on research. I will see to it that the spending on research increases", he said.

The Defence Minister said the door of the defence sector had been now opened for private participation. But the private companies were also found stingy with regard to spending money on research. "Their investment in research has fallen much below our expectations", he said.

Antony, however, lauded the DRDO and HAL for developing Dhruv, the multi-role advanced light helicopter (ALH).

Tropex-2009: Armed forces conduct joint exercise
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 9
The Indian armed forces today conducted their biggest ever joint amphibious exercise to fine tune abilities to launch an attack using the sea route, that too in a war-like situation.

The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force today demonstrated the abilities to conduct an amphibious landing that is considered to be the most complex of all military manoeuvres involving co ordination and synergy. The exercise named "Tropex-2009" was conducted at the Madhavpur beach in Gujarat.

The pre-assault operations of planning, mobilisation and embarkation having been achieved at Karwar of the Konkan coast, the amphibious task force sailed from Karwar on February 5 and landed on the shores of Madhavpur today. The newly inducted landing platform dock (LPD) the INS Jalashwa was used. Also used were several landing ships carrying infantry combat vehicles, fleet ships with their integral helicopters, shore-based aircraft and submarines from the Indian Navy and hovercraft of the Coast Guard.

Tanks, armoured personnel carriers and infantry troops of 91 Infantry Brigade of the Sudarshan Chakra Corps participated in both stand-off and hard beaching modes.

The infantry combat vehicles were launched from ships. The third dimension of the assault demonstration was when para troopers were inducted from air, using a transport aircraft. In the mock drill, the role of the enemy was played by the Golden Qatar Division of the Indian Army.

It also provided tremendous training value through the testing of human and material endurance, execution of organisational and logistics plans and finally delivering the punch in a mock battle, a spokesperson of the Indian Navy said.

This is for the first time that the amphibious warfare was put into practice with its full scope.

The exercise was witnessed by Air Marshal KD Singh, AOC-in-C, South Western Air Command, Vice-Admiral JS Bedi, FOC-in-C, Western Naval Command and Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna, GOC-in-C, Southern Command and other senior military officers from the three services.

Mission Pakistan
Kashmir may not be on Holbrooke's agenda
Dateline Washington
by Ashish Kumar Sen

When Richard C. Holbrooke arrives in Pakistan this week on a fact-finding mission, he will come under pressure to include India and the contentious Kashmir issue among his duties, a prospect that India strongly opposes and Washington has since rebuffed.

Mr Holbrooke, a former ambassador to the United Nations and State Department veteran, is travelling to the region in his capacity as President Barack Obama's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He will also be making a stop in India. State Department acting spokesman Robert Wood said the purpose of this visit was "to hear from the Indian government in terms of how we can all better contribute to peace and stability in Afghanistan."

Initial reports that Mr Holbrooke's duties would include "related matters" created unease in India, which interpreted this to mean Kashmir. Indian officials promptly relayed their concerns to members of Mr Obama's team.

A more forceful denunciation of such a proposal came from India's top security official last week. Rejecting any attempt to link Kashmir with terrorism in Pakistan's tribal areas, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan told a TV channel Mr Obama would be "barking up the wrong tree" if he subscribes to such views.

"References made by President Obama did seem to suggest that there is some kind of a link between the settlement on Pakistan's western border and the Kashmir issue. Certainly that had caused concern," Mr Narayanan said.

But Pakistan is equally determined to put India on Mr Holbrooke's plate.

In a recent opinion piece in The Washington Post, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari equated the situation in Kashmir to the Palestinian issue, saying it "must be addressed in some meaningful way to bring stability to this region."

He hoped Mr Holbrooke would work with both India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute, which has led the two nuclear-armed neighbours to go to war in the past. The Obama administration is resisting such pressure for now.

"With regard to Kashmir, I think our policy is well known," Mr Wood said. "I think India has some very clear views as to what it wants to do vis-a-vis dealing with the Kashmir issue as well as the Pakistanis. But with regard to Ambassador Holbrooke's mission, as I said, it's to deal strictly with the Pakistan-Afghanistan situation."

Ayesha Siddiqa, an Islamabad-based defence analyst, told The Tribune that there is "discomfort in Pakistan over why it has been bracketed with Afghanistan and not India." Mr Holbrooke will come under pressure to include India on his watch, she said, but added, "Many want to link the two issues but as far as real politics go, how doable is that? There is no guarantee that Kashmir will be resolved anytime soon."

Marvin Weinbaum, a former Pakistan and Afghanistan analyst at the State Department who is currently with the Middle East Institute in Washington, predicted that Mr Holbrooke will not get involved with Kashmir other than in a crisis-management role.

Noting that India-Pakistan relations have suffered a setback in the aftermath of the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Mr Weinbaum said there is no basis for a serious dialogue on Kashmir.

Despite Mr Zardari's pleas, Mr Weinbaum said Pakistan is not as anxious as it once was to get US or international involvement in Kashmir. "They realise the international community isn't necessarily going to decide in their favour," he said.

The apparent continuity in US policy of carrying out air strikes on al Qaeda and Taliban suspects in Pakistan is another contentious issue the government in Islamabad will raise with Mr Holbrooke.

Providing a sampling of things to come, Mr Zardari wrote: "Ambassador Holbrooke will soon discover that Pakistan is far more than a rhetorical partner in the fight against extremism With all due respect, we need no lectures on our commitment. This is our war. It is our children and wives who are dying."

The President's wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was killed in a terrorist attack in Rawalpindi in 2007.

Mr Weinbaum said there was an understanding between the United States and Pakistan that drone attacks can be carried out on a limited basis and against high-profile targets. "But whenever one happens, there is always a backlash against the US," he said.

The government in Islamabad is fast losing control over large parts of the country to a resurgent Taliban, which has spread its reign of terror from the ungovernable tribal regions of Bajaur on the border with Afghanistan to the picturesque Swat Valley.

"Everyone in Pakistan, including Zardari, wants an end to the drone attacks, but what is not being said is how do you then show that the billions of dollars from the US to fight the war on terror are being well spent," said Ms Siddiqa. "There is a political commitment to fight terrorism but this is not shared by the Pakistani military."

Ms. Siddiqa said the US has very few options in Pakistan. "It could increase economic aid rather than military aid to its ally or resurrect George W. Bush's 'with us or against us' rhetoric and put greater pressure on Pakistan to deliver," she said.

Mr Holbrooke is likely to hear another complaint from the Pakistanis. Reports that Vali Nasr, a Shia Muslim, has been appointed to advise Mr Holbrooke have caused unease in some quarters in Pakistan.

"This raises the whole Shia-Sunni problem," explained Ms Siddiqa. Pakistan is a Sunni majority country.

Mr Nasr, an Iranian American and adjunct senior fellow on Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, did not reply to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is also opposed to an active Indian role in Afghanistan, one Washington has encouraged. Mr Obama's plan to send more US troops to Afghanistan has led some in Pakistan to see this as an opportunity to put the onus on the Americans to plug the porous Afghan-Pakistan border.

Mr Weinbaum warned against such expectations. "You'd have to saturate the region to plug that border. Thirtythousand extra troops are not a real scene changer," he said.

Army "unattractive" career for youth, says Gen Kapoor


Press Trust of India / New Delhi February 9, 2009, 12:01 IST


Army chief General Deepak Kapoor feels the armed forces are an "unattractive" career option for the country's youth and is looking at steps to counter that image.

"It does worry the Army chief....Very much," he said here when asked about the Army's plans to fill up the 11,000-odd vacancies in the officer cadre and the dwindling number of youth wanting to join the armed forces.

"The armed forces have, after a study, come to the conclusion that the army is not too attractive as a career for a young man, who is looking for employemnt...For good productive life," Kapoor said in an interview to PTI.

To reach out to the youth, the army has in the recent times proposed to make the Short Service Commission (SSC) an attractive option for the youth by encouraging them to go for additional qualification such as a Doctorate or an MBA to enhance opportunities in the private sector when they leave the force.

It had also moved another proposal to send the SSC officers for higher command courses to enable them to continue as permanent officers. These courses were hitherto offered only to regular officers.

Another plan was to provide the SSC officers 'gratuity' for the 14-year service in the army that would make some funds available to them as a buffer when they left the service.

Patriotism as a motivation for the youth was not so strong today as it was soon after the country's independence, Kapoor said, pointing out that priorities of the youth were very different now.

"Post-independence, youth would forego much higher paying job opportunities to serve in the military. In England, the Queen's sons and grandsons have all been in the Service. So that is not for money. But some of those ethos have perhaps undergone a bit of a change," he said.

"That is why the army is trying to ensure that its culture, ethos and that respect and dignity that the Indian public accords to the the army is maintained," he said.

Asked if he thought the civil services was more attractive than the armed forces as a career, the Army chief said the analysis did show such a trend from the youth's perspective.

"From a young man's perspective today, he finds it (civil services) more attractive. Perhaps he has greater opportunities to rise," Gen Kapoor said.

"There is the question of overall advancement and emoluments. The degree or spirit of nationalism is perhaps not as much today as it was earlier," he said.

Assuring that the armed forces were trying to set right the "anomalies" in the pay commission report, Kapoor said the youth was finding better emoluments, better pay (in civil service and corporate sector).

DRDO rectifying software glitch in BrahMos

PTI | February 09, 2009 | 22:35 IST

The failure of the BrahMos missile during a recent test was due to a "software glitch" and the Defence Research and Development Organisation is doing a number of simulations and tests to ensure that it does not recur, A Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Executive Officer of the BrahMos Aerospace, said on Monday.

"We have identified a software glitch as the reason for failure to accomplish the mission completely to our satisfaction. We are doing further tests and are confident of conducting a successful test soon," Pillai told media persons in Thiruvananthapuram.

The 290-km range supersonic cruise missile, developed jointly by India and Russia under a joint venture, failed to hit its intended target during tests in the Pokhran ranges in Rajasthan desert last month.

"The development of the BrahMos was a mission with complicated target engagements. Some targets were visible and some invisible," Pillai said.

"In these kind of tests, a hundred per cent success has to be ensured", Pillai, who briefed media on the second phase of expansion of BrahMos Aerospace unit in the Thiruvananthapuram, said.

Centre to set up coastal command, says Chidambaram

PTI | February 09, 2009 | 15:34 IST

The Centre has decided to set up a Coastal Command by integrating the functions of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard, to combat possible terrorist attacks from the sea, in light of the recent Mumbai terror attacks, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said at Kollam, Kerala on Monday.

The navy would look after the security of the blue waters, the coast guard would take the territorial waters and the coastal police would keep vigil at the grass-root level, Chidambaram said, while inaugurating Kerala's first coastal police station at Neendakara near Kollam.

The decision on setting up the Coastal Command would be taken in a few days, he said.

The Mumbai terror attacks had brought to light the fact that India was vulnerable to dangers from the sea. For long, the security agencies had been concentrating on land borders. To counter the sea threat and ensure integrated security, the Centre had ambitious plans and the Coastal Command was part of it, Chidambaram said.

The places identified to set up coastal police stations are Vizhinjam, Fort Kochi, Thottapally, Azheekkal, Beypore, Kodungallur and Bakel, covering the long stretch of the Kerala's coastline.

ID cards for coastal villagers

Chidambaram also said that the Centre will issue multi-purpose Identity cards to people residing in the coastal areas of the nine coastal states and four Union Territories.

The process for issuing the identity cards would be completed on a war-footing in 2009, while the census in the rest of the country would be taken up in 2011 as scheduled, he said.

Since the co-operation of local people, especially fishermen, was essential in tackling terror threat from the sea, coastal vigilance committees would be formed in all the coastal villages of the country, Chidambaram added.

3 services begin joint exercise off Gujarat coast

PTI | February 09, 2009 | 15:53 IST

A joint exercise Tropex of the country's armed forces, Army, Navy and Air Force -- began at Madhavpur in Porbandar on Monday, which is just 80 nautical miles from Pakistan's trade centre Karachi.

The exercise gains significance as it is being carried out when the relationships between India and Pakistan are strained after the Mumbai terror attacks.

The lone arrested terrorist of the Mumbai attack, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, who allegedly came from Pakistan, had hijacked an Indian fishing trawler Kuber, which belonged to Porbandar, to reach Mumbai.

Madhavpur, a village on the Gujarat coast, has been chosen for the exercise due to its strategic location, as the state coastline houses important petroleum refineries in Porbandar's neighbouring district of Jamnagar, official sources said.

Around 1,500 personnel of the armed forces, apart from the top officials of the three services are taking part in the joint exercise, sources added.

The entire area where the exercise is taking place has been sealed off by the authorities and civilians are not allowed to watch the military exercise.

This is for the first time in the recent history that all the three services of the armed forces are engaged in a joint exercise on the Gujarat coast, officials said.

The exercise is being monitored by the top officials of the three forces, sources added.

US, allies losing ground in Afghanistan: Survey Associated Press
Monday, February 09, 2009 (Washington)


A survey among Afghans indicates support is plummeting for the Kabul government and the United States and European troops trying to bolster it against insurgents, according to a report on Monday.

The decline is striking particularly in the last year, the poll shows, even as the Obama administration and NATO allies weigh moves to strengthen forces in the struggle with Taliban and other radical groups.

President Barack Obama has assigned high priority to the conflict, and the administration is weighing whether to send another 30,000 US troops, almost doubling the 32,000 present.

Few Afghans felt encouraged by Obama's election, however: Two in 10 said they thought he would make things better for the Afghan people, and nearly as many said they thought he would make things worse. The rest either expected no change or were waiting to see.

The poll -- commissioned by ABC News, the BBC and ARD German TV -- found that the number of Afghans who say their country is headed in the right direction has dropped to 40 per cent, from 77 per cent in 1995 when the survey was first conducted.

While 83 per cent of Afghans expressed a favorable opinion of the United States in 2005, just 47 per cent feel that way now. There was an 18 per cent drop this year alone, according to polling results.

Now, Iran asks Pak to reign in terrorists

Press Trust of India

Monday, February 09, 2009 (New Delhi)

In an apparent reference to Pakistan, Iran on Monday said the countries "nurturing" terrorists have a responsibility of putting an end to such activities even as it asked New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve their differences through talks without involving "foreign forces".

Iranian Ambassador Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh said his country could have a role in helping in the negotiations between India and Pakistan.

"Iran, India and Pakistan, all have condemned these attacks (in Mumbai), All our three countries (India, Pakistan and Iran) are suffering from such terrorist attacks," he told reporters here when asked about Iran's position on the Mumbai attacks considering that India had urged it to put pressure on Pakistan to act.

"The countries that are nurturing these terrorists have a responsibility to put a stop to all that," the Ambassador said without naming any nation but apparently referring to Pakistan.

Favouring a dialogue between India and Pakistan, he said "I believe that negotiations are going on well" between them and "I am sure that India and Pakistan will reach some sort of agreement." "We, as friends of India and Pakistan, have a role to play in pushing ahead these negotiations," he said.

BAE wants bigger slice of pie

10 Feb 2009, 0259 hrs IST, Deepa Bhasthi, TNN

Bangalore : UK-headquartered BAE Systems, recently involved with HAL's licenced production of Hawk IJTs, plans to set up a bigger base in India to garner more partnerships and investment opportunities. BAE Systems India president Julian Scopes on Monday said they want a bigger piece of the defence and internal security pie in India.

Currently, they have a partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra for artillery and armoury systems. Though they are associated with Eurofighter Typhoon, a strong contender for the MMRCA deal with IAF, Scopes said their interest in India is not restricted to just one programme. They are hopeful of getting a contract for 57 more Hawks from the Indian Army and Navy.

Looking forward to debut its Mantis Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) at the Aero India show, Scopes hoped for a lift on the 36% FDI cap in defence. "We are open to working with both private and the public sectors," he added.

Indonesia, India to Boost Military Ties

The Indonesian and Indian governments have agreed to enhance military cooperation, including in the fight against terrorism, a spokesman for the Indonesian Armed Forces, or TNI, said on Monday.

TNI Chief Gen. Djoko Santoso met with the Indian ambassador to Indonesia, H.E. Biren Nanda, at TNI's headquarters on Monday.

Military spokesman Air Vice Marshal Sagom Tamboen said Nanda presented a number of pictures and documents of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Sagom said the TNI regarded the information as helpful in anticipating similar terror attacks in Indonesia.

"The Indian ambassador also delivered expectations over the possibility that both countries would be able to work together in a number of areas, especially in relation to the fight against such terror attacks in Mumbai," Sagom said.

The spokesman added that both countries were committed to continuing naval cooperation through personnel exchange programs and a joint border security presence.

Other forms of defense cooperation would be discussed at the end of this month when the Indian Army chief visits Jakarta, Sagom said.

"Airborne defense cooperation will be realized in the form of the Sukhoi jet fighter's maintenance and its technicians' training in India," Sagom said.

Meanwhile, Indonesia has also been invited by Japan's Defense Ministry to attend informal regional security talks in the middle of next month.

State-run Antara news agency reported on Monday that Col. Neno Mamriono, the defense attache in Tokyo, had said Jakarta would send Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, the Defense Ministry's secretary general, to the talks.

"This is going to be an informal meeting and the first of its kind since Japan had its defense ministry," Neno said.

He said the talks would discuss regional security issues such as the rampant piracy in the Malacca Straits.

Nono said 60 percent of Japan's energy supplies were distributed through the Straits.

Indian Army refuses to release spectrum

3G auction unlikely before 2011

By Subhankar Kundu @ Monday, February 09, 2009 11:54 AM

The indefinite delay of the 3G spectrum auction now looks imminent with Indian Army making it clear that it cannot vacate the spectrum as per the agreed phased manner based on progress of the alternative network.

The government has been asking the defence forces to release the spectrum for commercial use but nothing has materialized yet.

The Defence ministry and the communications ministry have earlier agreed to release the radio frequencies from its three wings – Indian Army, Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy - as per the progress.

But, changing its line - the Army has now said that the spectrum will be vacated for commercial use only after the state telco, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) completes building the alternate networks for the three defence wings. BSNL is scheduled to finish building it in 2011.

BSNL is scheduled to finish the Air Force Network (AFNET) by the middle of this year which will connect about 160 locations at the cost of $221 million (Rs 1,077 crore).

The communication ministry wants Air Force to vacate the airwaves within the given time frame. IAF is likely to release 40 MHz of the spectrum after the completion of building the alternate network which would give some respite to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as well as the telecom industry.

The crunch in the radio frequencies has been causing great worry for the telcos. The unavailability of required spectrum means poor quality services with a big increase of call drops causing hindrances in the expansion of their subscriber base.

The onus is now on the group of ministers (GoM) to resolve the spectrum crisis. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has recently passed the spectrum auction ball to GoM's court.

The GoM is also expected to endorse the fund of $3 billion (Rs 14,623 crore) to build this alternative network. The CCEA would pass the approval only after GoM endorses it.

The Government has granted licences to quite a number of new telecom players to offer services in 2G spectrum though these players haven't yet managed to launch services with the inadequate or no frequencies.

Existing players have also been demanding more spectrum to usher the growth of their subscriber base.

'BrahMos failure was due to software glitch'

M.G. Radhakrishnan Thiruvanathapuram, February 9, 2009

The test failure of BrahMos, India's advanced supersonic cruise missile on January 21 was due to a software error, said A. Sivathanu Pillai, CEO and MD, BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian joint venture project.

This was the first full test launch at Pokhran field firing range of a more advanced version of world's fastest surface-to-surface cruise missile which was intended to be inducted by Indian Army as precision-strike weapon.

Initially the test was claimed to have been a success by the army which later admitted it was a failure. The block-II test was pertained to have more complex and sophisticated target engagement according to Pillai, who is also chief conductor (R&D), DRDO and also the chairman of the BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Ltd. (BATL).

"We are working on a series of endeavours to get over the software glitches and prepare for the next test which will take place as soon as possible" said Pillai. The BrahMos missile was tested successfully more than 20 times in the past and the failed test was related to a configuration with a new and more sophisticated guidance system. "We are the only country to have a supersonic cruise missile," said Pillai in response to a media persons' question if Pakistan also is on a par with India in missile technology.

The one year-old BATL- country's second BrahMos missile production unit -is expected to touch a turnover of Rs 24 crores in 2008-2009. BATL's supply orders have gone up from Rs 28 crores in the first year to Rs 86 crores in the current year.

BATL's clients include Defense Research Development Organisation, Indian Space Research Organisation and Department of Atomic Energy. "With the opening of the nuclear energy sector we intend to play a much larger role. We have orders now to produce robotic arms used for nuclear industry," said Pillai.

BATL was inaugurated after the BrahMos Aerospace took over the Kerala state-owned Kerala Hightech Industries (Keltec) last year.

According to Pillai, the first fully integrated BrahMos missile is expected to roll out from Rs 125 crore-BATL in 2010 once the integration complex is ready. Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony is to lay foundation stone for the BrahMos integration complex at BATL on February 10.

IAF to showcase vintage aircraft at Aero India

February 9th, 2009 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS - Send to a friend:

Bangalore, Feb 9 (IANS) Amidst the thunderous din of the modern-day supersonic fighter jets at Aero India 2009 beginning here Wednesday, aviation enthusiasts will also be able to savour a slice from the glorious past of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

On show at the static display would be two of the IAF's phased-out trainers - the De Havilland DH82 Tigermoth and Harvard aircraft.

The Tigermoth was a two-seat, single bay, biplane. The primary trainer for the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War, it was the basic trainer in the IAF from 1940. It was replaced by the indigenously-built HT-2.

The Harvard, on the other hand, was a single-engine advanced aircraft used to train fighter pilots of the RAF and other air forces of the Commonwealth during World War II. The IAF phased out its Harvards in 1973.

Meanwhile, Asia's largest air show will see unprecedented participation of international and domestic companies in the aviation sector. With participation of 592 companies, 303 international and 289 Indian, the show has become bigger and larger, a defence ministry statement said.

Significantly, the participation of domestic exhibitors has steadily grown from 66 in its inaugural show in 1998, to 289 this year, accounting for nearly half the total exhibitor strength.

The seventh edition of the prestigious show will have about 44,000 sq metres of exhibition area as compared to 30,000 sq metres in 2007.

The IAF would be one of the major participants at the show with majority of its firepower on display.

This would include the air superiority fighter Sukhoi SU-30 MKI, Mirage-2000, Jaguar, the basic and intermediate jet trainer Kiran and the advanced jet trainer Hawk.

Rotor power would be seen in the form of MI-8s and the indigenous Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH), and transport support in the shape of the IL-78 MKI tanker, the AN-32 and the Dornier-228.

The Indian Army will showcase its prowess through Army Aviation Corps, which will display a mock special helicopter-borne operation.

Other major Indian participating agencies at the show are the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Centre for Airborne Systems and the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL).

The ADA will be presenting the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA). The world's smallest fighter aircraft, it weighs a little over seven tonnes and can carry about 60 percent of its basic weight as ordnance.

The end of India'

Ehsan Mehmood Khan

Khushwant Singh, in his book "The End of India", written in 2003, said: "…the country (India) will break up. It will not be Pakistan or any other foreign power that will destroy us; we will commit hara-kiri (suicide)." Khushwant Singh's theme for break-up or disintegration of India revolves around the deeply embedded problem of communalism wherein he has made special references to the 1947 carnage, the 2002 massacre of Muslims in Gujarat and the demons of the Sangh Pariwar. He goes on saying that "Fascism has well and truly crossed our threshold and dug its heels in our courtyard. And we have only ourselves to blame for this.Hinduism will be judged by the utterances of people like Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Rithambara and Praveen Togadia and the doings of Dara Singh, Narendra Modi and Bal Thackeray.

Khushwant Singh's contention carries feet of wisdom to the extent that communalism and fascism have bolstered inter-community hatred and revulsion in India and may become raison d'être for its eventual break-up. Khushwant was brave enough to highlight India's basic problem but what he neglected to point out was the fact that Indian fascism has transcended the political boundaries of the country and conceptual boundaries of intra-state communalism. It has now started affecting its neighbours and is state-sponsored in many of its expressions.

To note, India is home to nearly all major religions of the world, over 2,000 ethnic groups and countless languages. Communal disagreements are a universal phenomenon but discords leading to armed clashes and conflicts are not as common to much of the states on the globe as are in case of India. Uninformed people of the world often attribute militancy in India restricted to Kashmir and the issue of Kashmir alone. But there are no less than 97 militant organisations striving for separation or autonomy in five Indian states namely Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and Meghalaya. If we add in the combative groups operating in other states like Punjab and Kashmir etcetera, the figure may well go round 200.

All these groups demand either independence from India or broad-based autonomy on communal grounds – religious, cultural or ethnic! With this communal setting, does India need any threat from abroad – Pakistan or Bangladesh? Of course not; India is self-sufficient in communal militancy and is rather in a position to export all this to its immediate neighbours. The Indian polity has taken over six decades to develop the sentiment of Indian nationalism but it has heretofore been fed by one-point agenda: the Pakistan phobia, which practically turns into Islamophobia across the subcontinent thereby right away impinging upon the affairs of at least Pakistan and Bangladesh. For instance, India makes a lot of hue and cry on illegal immigration from Bangladesh into Assam and West Bengal but it is an established fact that the Muslim Bangladeshis alone face the rebuffs. The Hindu émigrés are taken as "own people".

The Indian political ladder strongly feels that "anti-Pakistan" and "for-India" are the words of same syllable. In this case, even the Congress looks to be the part of Sangh Pariwar. What the Indian elite misses is that anti-Pakistan acts and feelings are communal and would surely work against the interests of India itself in the years ahead. Communal meanness on part of Sangh Pariwar has swollen to an out-of-proportion degree. Lately, an Indian Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit has been apprehended for having deep-rooted bonds with extremist Hindu organizations. He has been involved in Malegaon blast of September 29, 2008 and the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing in which 68 innocent passengers, mostly Pakistanis, were killed. To one's utter surprise, the Colonel had used RDX explosive held on the inventory of Indian Army rather than the one usually found in black-market. Encroachment of communal terrorism in the lines of Indian Army is an extremely bad omen for India, even though it is the spin-off effect of the communal policies pursued by India at the level of state.

Ironically, India is still abiding by the Communal Award of 1932. Articles 330 and 332 of the Indian constitution provide for reservation of constituencies for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). This on one hand validates India's constitutional accent at communalism declaring the SCs and STs (untouchables) to be the lesser Hindus. On the other, no other religious minority has been given an equal opportunity of separate electorate. Muslims are considered to be even more impure than the untouchables. There are 120 Lok Sabha and 1,081 Legislative Assembly seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes – SCs and STs – whose total population in the country is 16% and 8% respectively. However, the Muslims, despite having approximately the same population as of SCs, have no reservation of seats. More so, a number of SC or ST reserved constituencies has huge Muslim population. For instance, Karimganj in the State of Assam with 35% to 45% Muslim population in various areas and 15% SC, Bijnore with 38% Muslims and 23% SC, Birbhum in West Bengal with 35% Muslims and 32% SC, Ottapalem in Kerala with 30% Muslims and 17% SC, Araria in Bihar with 28% Muslims and 21% SC are all SC reserved constituencies. The above denotes that the Indian polity provides for communal discrimination, which leads to injustice thereby creating room for communal terrorism. This all speaks of the Indian mindset, which if not changed, could keep breeding terrorists like Lieutenant Colonel Purohit and the worries of Khushwant Singh might come true some unpromising day. —The writer is a defence analyst based in Rawalpindi

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