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Wednesday, 25 February 2009

From Today's Papers - 25 Feb 09












MPs' panel calls for defence establishment's revamp to deal with new threats
25 Feb 2009, 0402 hrs IST, Rajat Pandit, TNN


NEW DELHI: The 26/11 terror attacks exposed the utter disconnect between intelligence agencies and security forces, as also the gaping holes in operational capabilities of armed forces as well as police and paramilitary forces.

It forced the home ministry to launch a slew of measures like creation of National Investigation Agency, regional NSG hubs and the like. But what about the defence ministry (MoD)?

From its sheer inability to formulate long-term strategic and procurement plans and lackadaisical approach to Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post to under-utilisation of modernisation funds and lack of jointness among armed forces, the MoD came in for a hammering in Parliament on Tuesday.

Three reports of the parliamentary standing committee on defence, tabled in Lok Sabha, called for a complete overhaul of the defence establishment to tackle the "entirely new dimension of security threats and challenges'' faced by the country, both in terms of conventional as well as proxy war.

Some of the measures recommended to the government are:
* The immediate constitution of a high-powered expert committee to reorganise, reform and restructure armed forces.

* The creation of a federal central intelligence agency, covering even the tri-Service intelligence gathering networks under its ambit. Time and again, events like the 1999 Kargil intrusions and 26/11 bring home the deploring lack of coordination among different spy agencies, leading to "loss of precious lives'' of civilians and uniformed personnel.

* With jointness within armed forces "still at a nascent stage'' and their integration with MoD "merely cosmetic'', the staffing pattern should be changed drastically. Military officers, for instance, should be appointed as joint secretaries and additional secretaries in MoD.

* With the CDS system proving its efficacy in 67 countries including US, UK, France and Germany, it's high time India had a CDS since "the key to success in modern-day warfare'' is for different services to "integrate their efforts under a single command, without any loss of time''.

A CDS will ensure synergy among Army, Navy and IAF as well as provide "single-point military advise'' to government. Till a CDS is appointed, the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee should get full authority to exercise command and control over all the three Services.

* An effective mechanism to ensure better coordination and jointness between Navy and Coast Guard, the lack of which led to "the national catastrophe'' of 26/11.

* Revamp the entire selection system to plug the acute officer shortage in armed forces. The 1.13-million Army, for instance, is around 11,000 short of its authorised strength of 46,615 officers.

The committee rejected the MoD contention that youngsters were not interested in a military career due to lucrative job opportunities in the civil-corporate sector.

Instead, there is a need to do away with the "negative approach'' in SSBs (service selection boards), enhance training infrastructure, woo rural youths, make short-service commission attractive and pay a monthly stipend of Rs 10,000 for NDA and Rs 15,000 for IMA and OTA cadets, among other measures.

* MoD should formulate definite five-year plans and LTIPPs (long-term integrated perspective plan) well in time, with requisite approvals from the finance ministry and Cabinet Committee on Security.







India turns down Pak offer to resume dialogue
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 24
India today turned down Pakistan’s proposal to resume the bilateral dialogue process, saying Islamabad must do more to dismantle the terror infrastructure on its soil and punish the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Talking briefly to reporters here, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said: “So far as the composite dialogue is concerned, it is paused and we expect Pakistan to do more in respect of dismantling the terror infrastructure and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.”

His comments came a day after Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik met Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and proposed the resumption of the bilateral dialogue. Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has repeatedly appealed to India to restore the composite dialogue. Malik is also understood to have assured the Foreign Secretary that Pakistan was committed to carrying out sincere investigation into the attacks.

Pranab acknowledged that Pakistan had taken some steps to bring to book those behind the Mumbai mayhem. “The process is on.”

Pranab said India had received Pakistan’s response to the dossier of evidence prepared by New Delhi, suggesting the involvement of the elements in Pakistan in the attacks. “We have received their response to the Indian dossier. We are going to send our response.”

A meeting between Pranab and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmud Qureshi appeared on the cards on the margins of the SAARC Council of Ministers’ meeting. But the Pakistani minister backed out as the dates of the SAARC meeting clashed with his visit to the US. And now even Pranab’s visit to Colombo is uncertain due to his preoccupation with pressing domestic developments.

Official sources said Pranab might skip the Colombo meeting and Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed could represent India there.

Tibetan cabinet: Avoid clashes with Chinese people

The Tibetan government-in-exile cabinet has appealed to those in Tibet, not to engage in protests and to avoid any activity that will bring unnecessary imprisonment, detention and harm to them. It advised them to avoid clashes with Chinese people..

CJ: B K Upmanyu , 10 hours ago Views:83 Comments:0

IN A significant political development, the cabinet of the Tibetan government-in-exile has appealed to the Tibetans, who are in Tibet, not to engage in protests and to avoid any activity that will bring unnecessary imprisonment, detention and harm to them. In that appeal, the Tibetan cabinet has also requested them to avoid any clashes with the Chinese people.

The situation in Tibet has deteriorated so much that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) authorities has deployed additional troops across the Tibetan plateau. The deployment of additional troops are significant and conspicuous in the Tibetan capital city Lhasa, Labrang Tashikhyil (Ch:Xiahe), Rebgong (Ch:Tongren), Lithang in Kham and in other parts of Tibet. The PRC authorities’ recent remark, they "will wage a people’s war" to crush any potential protest is especially inflammatory and is an incitement for ethnic tension.

The authorities’ refusal to permit tourists to visit Tibet is a clear indication that the situation in Tibet is not stable, despite their claims to the contrary. The cabinet of the government-in-exile strongly deplore the recent arbitrary arrest, detention and torture taken place in Dege, Zogang, Lithang, Nagchuka and other places for slightest peaceful expression of their aspirations or resentments.

The cabinet supports the right of every Tibetan in Tibet and elsewhere to not to celebrate the Tibetan New Year, as a mark of respect for those Tibetans, who sacrificed their lives in the 2008 protests to highlight the deplorable human rights situation in the Himalayan country. At the same time, the Kashag would like to appeal to the Tibetans in Tibet to do this with peace and dignity that conform to the values embedded in Tibetan culture.

The cabinet especially regrets the re-launching of the strike hard campaign, patriotic re-education and forcing Tibetans to celebrate Tibetan New Year. The Kashag is convinced that this show of military force by the PRC authorities and the accompanying strike hard campaign are acts of provocation. In view of this, the Kashag once again ask the PRC authorities to call off the strike hard campaign and to withdraw the undeclared martial law imposed to suppress the Tibetans.

In view of the grave and urgent situation in Tibet the Kashag call upon the parliaments, governments, human rights organisations, Tibet support groups and concerned individuals around the world to actively intervene and persuade the PRC authorities to exercise restraint.

The PRC authorities must be convinced that repression and military might not resolve any problems and that tolerance and engagement are the only effective means to bring stability in Tibet.

US doesn't see India through prism of Pak: Mulford

Press Trust of India

Tuesday, February 24, 2009, (New Delhi)

The US no longer looks at India through the "prism" of Pakistan, according to outgoing US Ambassador to India David Mulford, who describes "de-hyphenating of India-Pakistan obsession" as a major accomplishment of his four-year tenure.

"One of the accomplishments has been to de-hyphenate the India-Pak obsession that was present when I got here. We set out to do that," he said in an interview, his last as the American envoy in Delhi.

He sought to dispel apprehensions that the Barack Obama administration may not be as "warm" towards India as the previous Bush government, saying the new dispensation in Washington realises India's importance and would be "extending" the bilateral relationship that has seen tremendous growth over the last five years.

"The Obama administration shares the view that India is very important country to the US. There is very high regard for India and Indians living in the US. I think the Obama administration is fully aware of this and will seek to extend the relationship. I don't think there is any doubt about it," the outgoing envoy said.

DRDO products not just for armed forces anymore

BS Reporter / New Delhi February 24, 2009, 17:14 IST

An explosive detection kit that can determine threat levels by sniffing out the smallest quantity of explosives, acoustic life detectors to locate people trapped under rubble in the aftermath of disasters and providing potable water by using mobile water purification systems.

These are some of the products being used the security forces that would soon be available for sale in the market.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has forged a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) to market its products and dual-use technological processes.

Launched four months ago, the “Technology Assessment and Commercialisation” initiative was unveiled today in the capital by DRDO and Ficci.

The initiative aims to set up a framework wherein DRDO's non-sensitive products and spin-off technologies in healthcare, disaster management, and computing and simulation can be introduced into the market.

The private sector in India has been quite receptive to this idea, with Larsen and Toubro, Alkali Metals Ltd, GTL Ltd, etc having submitted expression of interest to Ficci for technology transfer from the defence R&D leader.

Of the 50 DRDO laboratories, 26 are taking part in this initiative and 200 technologies have been assessed so far for marketing.

The initiative would eventually zero in on 40 of the most marketable products and processes and create business development models to market them, said Len Denton, programme manager of IC2 Institute, University of Texas, Austin. The university is the programme partner to identify and market the products.

M Natarajan, scientific advisor to the Defence Minister, said apart from developing cutting-edge defence technologies, the DRDO would increasingly participate in the market to deliver hi-tech non-military products.

The PPP has taken into account the twin problems of not compromising classified information and marketing DRDO products at the same time, said Dr Prahlada, DRDO's R&D chief controller.

A special purpose vehicle (SPV) has been conceptualised to put 10 products on a fast-track for marketing and sale. In the next 3-5 years, another 200 DRDO products and their spin-off technologies can be marketed, he added.

Re-examine Maj Gen’s promotion case: Delhi HC
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
Directing the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) to re-examine the promotion case of a major general whose elevation was held up after the CBI registered a corruption case against him, the Delhi High Court has observed that the incidents of complaints against officers due for promotion were on the rise.

“The object in such cases can be to benefit somebody lower in the merit so as to keep the appointment of a senior meritorious candidate in abeyance or to cast doubts on his character,” a division bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Mool Chand Garg noted.

The CBI had registered an FIR against Maj Gen Anand Kapur of the Army Ordnance Corps (AOC) in October 2007 on the basis of sourced information, which the officer contended were anonymous complaints against him. The FIR was lodged just prior to the special selection board (SSB) meeting and the case prompted Army headquarters to impose a ban on his promotion.

When the officer sought judicial intervention, the High Court stayed further promotions to the rank of lieutenant general, consequent to which the two top posts in the AOC, that of AOC Director General and Commandant of School for Material Management remained vacant for about a year.

The court has directed the cabinet to take a fresh decision on the case within a month.

The major general’s counsel, Col R Balasubramanian (retd), told The Tribune that the deemed DV ban imposed on his promotion was in contravention to the Army’s own policy.

The officers could be placed under DV ban only if the CBI investigations hold them blameworthy and the competent authority accords sanction for prosecution in a civil court or recommends departmental action against them.

In this case, he said, CBI investigations were still underway despite the lapse of 16 months since the FIR was lodged and the stage for the CBI making any recommendations has not even arisen.

LTTE's ceasefire offer hilarious, says Lankan govt

T V Sriram in Colombo | PTI | February 24, 2009 | 15:57 IST

Dismissing as 'hilarious' the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's ceasefire offer, the Sri Lankan government termed it a ploy, saying the Tamil Tigers call for a truce whenever they are on the verge of defeat.

"It has been the modus operandi of the LTTE to pressurise the international community and cease the current humanitarian operation to liberate trapped civilians," Defence Affairs spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

"The international community has fully acknowledged the nature of the LTTE, though they should pressurise the LTTE to surrender and release civilians," he said.

"The country and the world are quite aware of the nature of the LTTE. It is a ploy used by the LTTE over the last two decades, when it is about to be militarily defeated. Every time the LTTE is on the verge of defeat militarily and losing weapons and equipment, then it calls a truce," Rambukwella told the state owned Daily News.

The LTTE has written a letter to the United Nations, Britain, Japan, Norway and the United States, indicating its readiness to agree to a ceasefire with the government, but refusing to lay down arms and surrender.

Rambukwella, who is also a senior cabinet minister, referred to the letter and said, "LTTE political head B Nadesan, in the first place, has to understand what a ceasefire is. It's hilarious".

Rambukwella said that the LTTE, by breaching the ceasefire agreement, has brought 'calamity' to the country and the people. Peace talks were held with the outfit on several occasions by leaders but the LTTE violated all these agreements and brought about destruction, he said.

"The Indo-Lanka peace accord by late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the 13th Amendment called for the LTTE to lay down arms and surrender. What they did was laying down arms and going back to the jungle to fight again," he said, adding that they also assassinated Rajiv Gandhi.

"There will be no ceasefire until terrorism is defeated," the newspaper quoted Rambukwella as saying.

LTTE's ceasefire offer hilarious, says Lankan govt

T V Sriram in Colombo | PTI | February 24, 2009 | 15:57 IST

Dismissing as 'hilarious' the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's ceasefire offer, the Sri Lankan government termed it a ploy, saying the Tamil Tigers call for a truce whenever they are on the verge of defeat.

"It has been the modus operandi of the LTTE to pressurise the international community and cease the current humanitarian operation to liberate trapped civilians," Defence Affairs spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

"The international community has fully acknowledged the nature of the LTTE, though they should pressurise the LTTE to surrender and release civilians," he said.

"The country and the world are quite aware of the nature of the LTTE. It is a ploy used by the LTTE over the last two decades, when it is about to be militarily defeated. Every time the LTTE is on the verge of defeat militarily and losing weapons and equipment, then it calls a truce," Rambukwella told the state owned Daily News.

The LTTE has written a letter to the United Nations, Britain, Japan, Norway and the United States, indicating its readiness to agree to a ceasefire with the government, but refusing to lay down arms and surrender.

Rambukwella, who is also a senior cabinet minister, referred to the letter and said, "LTTE political head B Nadesan, in the first place, has to understand what a ceasefire is. It's hilarious".

Rambukwella said that the LTTE, by breaching the ceasefire agreement, has brought 'calamity' to the country and the people. Peace talks were held with the outfit on several occasions by leaders but the LTTE violated all these agreements and brought about destruction, he said.

"The Indo-Lanka peace accord by late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the 13th Amendment called for the LTTE to lay down arms and surrender. What they did was laying down arms and going back to the jungle to fight again," he said, adding that they also assassinated Rajiv Gandhi.

"There will be no ceasefire until terrorism is defeated," the newspaper quoted Rambukwella as saying.

LTTE may target India: Sri Lankan Army Chief

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Feb 24, IRNA -- After being battered by Sri Lanka, a desperate Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) may target India, Sri Lankan Army Chief has warned.

“The Tamil Tiger rebels could attack southern India’s economic and civilian targets in aerial strikes”, zeenews portal reported quoting Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka.

The Indian government has made it clear that it would not interfere in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs, reiterated that the LTTE is a banned organisation in India, and has only sought assurance for Tamil civilians’ safety from the island nation’s government.

According to the Sri Lankan Army Chief, the LTTE’s air wing – though its strength has now got depleted following the downing of two of its planes during the recent air attack on Colombo – still has the capability to attack targets in India.

“The LTTE and their sympathisers in South India are angry that the Indian government is no longer toeing the LTTE line; it is now only talking about the plight of the civilians,” Fonseka was quoted as saying.

“They are capable of flying all the way from the north-east of Sri Lanka, attack targets in Colombo (more than 250 km one way) and fly back. They can do the same in India,” he added.

The threat to India seems credible as the Tigers were able to launch an air attack on Colombo even though all their seven airfields have been captured by the Sri Lankan Army in the ongoing offensive.

The Army Chief stated that the rebels’ low-flying aircraft, which are difficult to detect, could easily carry out attacks more than 150-170 km inside India.

“And if they are on a suicide mission, the aircraft could fly deeper and not come back at all,” he warned.

Asked whether targeting India would be of any use to the LTTE, especially in the wake of heightened criticism for allegedly not letting thousands of displaced Tamil civilians escape the warzone, Fonseka said: “The LTTE had the audacity or were stupid enough to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi on Indian soil. They do not believe in peace or talks. Now they are just confined to around 35 sq km on the main land and some 20 sq km of beach area in Mullaitivu. They are desperate.”

With regard to the whereabouts of LTTE chief V Prabhakaran, the Sri Lankan Army Chief believes he is still hiding in Mullaitivu.

Indian Army chief arrives in RI

Tue, 02/24/2009 12:59 PM | World

Indonesia: Chief of Staff of the Indian Army Gen. Deepak Kapoor will arrive in Jakarta on Monday on the invitation of his Indonesian counterpart, Gen. Agustadi Sasongko Purnomo, to foster a bilateral defense relationship, the Indian Embassy said on Monday.

"The objective of the visit is to strengthen the bilateral defense relationship, exchange perceptions and views with the higher leadership on bilateral and regional *security* issues, with a view to increase mutual understanding," the embassy said in a statement sent to The Jakarta Post on Monday.

During his five-day visit to Indonesia Gen. Kapoor will meet Indonesian Military Chief Gen. Djoko Santoso, Gen. Agustadi as well as other officers. He will also visit state owned weapons manufacturer PT Pindad and the Army Training Command Center in Bandung.

In recent years the two maritime neighbors have strengthened defense cooperation through high level visits and joint patrols. - JP

Boeing, Bharat Electronics Sign Agreement for Joint Defense Modernization Facility

Daily News & Updates

India Defence Premium

Dated 23/2/2009

Indian state-run firm Bharat Electronic Ltd has signed an agreement with U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co to jointly set up a facility to help modernise India's defence forces, the company said in a statement on Saturday.

The proposed analysis and experimentation centre will be staffed with local personnel who will work with India's Defence Ministry, the statement said. India is looking to spend $30-40 billion on imports over the next five years to modernise its largely Soviet-era arms by introducing new weapons systems.

It is allowing state-run and private firms to tie up with foreign defence equipment makers to scale up domestic production.

Boeing along with Lockheed Martin Corp, France's Dassault Rafale, Sweden's Saab are vying for a contract to supply India with 126 multi-role fighter jets potentially worth more than $10 billion.

Earlier, the Boeing India head said the firm was looking to bid for defence projects worth up to $31 billion over the next 10 years in India, as strategic ties between India and United States deepen.

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