Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Monday, 2 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 02 Mar 09

Indian Express

Asian Age

DNA India

Asian Age

Telegraph India

Indian Express

Telegraph India

Asian Age

DNA India

Telegraph India

DNA India

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Times Of India

Times of India

Around the world in nine months
Forty-one year old, Commodore Dilip Donde of the Indian Navy, is all
set to become the first Indian attempting to sail alone across the
world in a span of nine months. The expedition will be flagged off on
Independence Day this year, from the Mumbai port.

1,000 BDR soldiers face murder charge

Dhaka, March 1
Murder charges were today filed against over 1,000 personnel of Bangladesh’s paramilitary force BDR following the 33-hour mutiny by them during which they killed 73 Army officers, even as the government said the revolt was “well-orchestrated” and that a group of “outsiders” was also involved in the carnage.

Besides filing murder charges, orders had been issued throughout the country to look out for those involved in the revolt last Wednesday, a police source said.

Six Bangladesh Rifles personnel were today identified by police as the ringleaders of the 33-hour mutiny that wiped out nearly the entire batch of army officers serving in the paramilitary force. The six were identified as BDR deputy assistant directors Touhidul Alam, Jalil, Nasiruddin Khan, Mirza Mahbubur Rahman and jawans Abdur Rahim and Selim.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today went to Dhaka Cantonment in her bid to quell the anguish in army, staying there for several hours for talks with officers.

Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam was quoted by the media as having said a group of people “outside” BDR was also involved in the killings. “Some evidences have already reached the government. It was ‘well-orchestrated’”.

His remarks came amid reports that a Bangladeshi shipping magnate having close links with Pakistan’s intelligence agencies was suspected to be behind the mutiny. But, there was no official word on this. The government has decided to hold speedy trial of the people involved in the killings in a special tribunal by enacting laws, Minister Islam said, adding each of the families of slain officers would be given Tk 10,00,000 (approximately Rs 7.4 lakh). — PTI

Al-Qaida safe haven in Pak worries US military chief

Press Trust of India

Monday, March 02, 2009, (Washington)

Expressing concern over the "safe haven" for terrorists in the tribal regions of Pakistan, the US on Sunday said it is continuing to apply "pressure" on Pakistan army to address the problem.

"There is a continuing concern with existence of the safe haven in FATA region in Pakistan and that has to be addressed, has been addressed, and needs to continue to be addressed," US Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said.

"We've brought pressure on both sides of the border, Pakistani military as well as coalition forces and Afghan forces," Mullen told Fox news in an interview.

"We did towards the end of 2008, and that will continue to happen, and we need to continue to bring that pressure on both sides and continue to coordinate that -- those operations," he said.

In response to another question, Mullen said: "I think there's clear recognition that threat, where Al Qaida leadership lives, is every bit as dangerous as it has been, and "we need to continue to address it and address it as rapidly as possible."

Extraordinarily difficult to find Osama: US army chief

Press Trust of India

Sunday, March 01, 2009, (Washington)

The head of the US armed forces on Sunday said it is extraordinarily hard to find Osama bin Laden, against whom the Washington has launched a massive manhunt post 9/11.

"He's, obviously, a very, very difficult individual to find, I mean, extraordinarily difficult," Admiral Mike Mullen, the Joint Chief of US Staff, told CNN in an interview.

"It's not as if we don't have a considerable amount of effort pursuing that, and I'm certain that will continue, but he hides pretty well," Mullen said.

Mullen has met 10 times with the Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani since he took over last year. He (Kayani) knows and his leadership knows very specifically they've got a serious threat here.

"Not only does it threaten us in terms of al Qaeda leadership, but it's also threatening them. They've seen great violence go up dramatically in their own country, and he's addressing that," Mullen said.

Responding to a question on Pakistan's apprehensions with India, Mullen said, "Clearly, they also are concerned about the situation on their other border with India."

"That's longstanding. And I'm hopeful that leaders will continue to use the kind of judgment and rhetoric that stamps that down over time. If the US cant win counterinsurgency, it would be difficult to win", he said.

"I would also agree that if we're not winning in a counterinsurgency, we are losing," Mullen said.

That just speaks to the growing security, the need, quite frankly, for a much improved level of governance, not just at the national level, but at the provincial level, the district level, the local level, in addition to getting the rule of law set and moving forward on their economy, Mullen said about Afghanistan.

ISI behind BDR mutiny?
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 1
As people in Dhaka see mass graves, its now becoming clear that Wednesday’s revolt by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) was not merely for pay and allowances but part of a larger conspiracy to overthrow the pro-India Sheikh Hasina government.

Government sources here said a large section of the BDR, which is in league with Pakistan’s ISI, is not favourably disposed towards Sheikh Hasina because of her liberal and secular image and her close proximity with the Indian leadership.

The sources pointed out that the ISI network was well-entrenched in all spheres of public life in Bangladesh and the successive governments in Dhaka have failed to contain the activities of the notorious spy agency of Pakistan. “The ISI has penetrated so deep into the army, BDR and the bureaucracy that it has on quite a few occasions influenced decisions taken by Dhaka.”

The facts now emerging about the mutiny clearly point to the fact that persons and groups with established ISI links were deeply involved in the revolt by thousands of BDR men that led to the killings of nearly 70 army officers. And bodies are still being counted with many said to be still missing. It is pretty much clear that this was a previously planned cold-blooded killing spree rather than being a mutiny.

The simultaneous revolt by the BDR personnel in different parts of the country could not have been launched without proper planning and financial backing. The ISI is known to have provided funds for the anti-government agitations and movements in Bangladesh, besides providing financial assistance to various ultra groups operating in the country.

The sources also pointed out that Salauddin Qadeer Chowdhury, whose name is doing rounds in political circles in Bangladesh as being one of those behind the mutiny, has been traditionally opposed to Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League party and is close to Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Chowdhury has also been pursuing the pro-Pakistani agenda in Bangladesh’s polity openly. He was also said to be closely connected with the 2004 Chittagong arms drop case.

Sea Route Row
FBI, MI-6 ridicule Pak navy chief’s claim
Man Mohan
Our Roving Editor

New Delhi, March 1
Top Indian and foreign counter-terrorism and intelligence experts, who joined hands to probe into the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, are surprised over the Pakistani naval chief Oman Bashir’s claim on Friday that the lone surviving gunman Ajmal Amir Iman Kasab and his associates “did not use the sea route” to reach the country’s financial capital.

Valuable inputs on the attackers using the Pakistan sea route and their boats/rafts had come from the agents of America’s foreign spy agency, the CIA, and the FBI located in Islamabad.

Besides the CIA and FBI, the British foreign spy agency, MI-6, and New Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism experts, who had also joined hands with their Indian counterparts to make independent probe into the Mumbai attacks, had reached the same conclusion about the gunmen coming through the sea route.

“We are 100 per cent convinced that the Mumbai attackers reached the city from Pakistan through the sea route,” an FBI official from the agency’s New York headquarters told The Tribune.

The CIA has warned the US administration that the Al-Qaida and its affiliates may attempt to emulate the Mumbai attacks in America or somewhere else.

Pakistan naval chief’s statement totally contradicts Interior Adviser Rehman Malik, who at a press conference on February 1, while acknowledging that a part of the Mumbai attacks conspiracy had been hatched in Pakistan, had confirmed the use of the “sea route” by the gunmen. Malik had even provided details about the use of boats by the terrorists.

A top Intelligence Bureau officer on Saturday told The Tribune “not only our own investigators, but also the best counter-terrorism experts from America and Britain had reached a joint conclusion that the Mumbai terror attackers had began their journey from a spot near Karachi, taking the sea route to reach Mumbai before the sun set.”

Two days before the chargesheet was filed in the Mumbai court on Wednesday, the FBI director Robert Mueller, while giving a gist of it to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, clearly pointed out: “Nearly three months ago, several men in a rubber raft landed on the shores of a bustling financial capital as the sun began to set. They scattered in different directions, carrying backpacks with automatic weapons, hand grenades, and satellite phones.”

While the Mumbai police have filed a chargesheet in the Mumbai attacks, both the FBI and the CIA have not yet closed their investigations as they are still working to analyse who was really responsible, assess lessons learned, and determine if the USA may be vulnerable to a similar attack.

Regional Navy headquarters to be set up in Gujarat

PTI | March 01, 2009 | 20:00 IST

The new regional headquarter of the Indian Navy to be set up in Gujarat will help protect the porous 1660 km long coastline in Gujarat, said Gujarat leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil.

He said that the Central government on Saturday announced that a regional headquarter of Navy will be set up in Gujarat, which would be designated as "North-West region" and a new post of Commander Coast Guard will look after the surveillance of the state's coast.

"Gujarat coast is vulnerable because of its strategic location and proximity to Pakistan," he said, adding," the Central government has rightly allocated a regional headquarter in Gujarat, which will strengthen the security cover of the coast."

He said that Navy's regional headquarter will have state-of-the-art equipments, choppers, ships and boats and there will be more than 1000 jawans.

According to him, Congress led United Progressive Alliance government has always accorded top priority to the national security, especially after the 26/11 Mumbai attack.

He also said that the Central government has already sanctioned 10 marine police stations in the state which have already become functional on the coastal areas.

IMS Vikrant to get helipad, restautrant and convention centre

PTI | March 01, 2009 | 19:45 IST

India's first aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, decommissioned by the Navy over a decade ago, is to be put to commercial use like restaurants and convention centres. INS Vikrant, now only a museum, is to have certain value additions to make it financially viable. Presently, the museum is open to public only for ten days in a year during the Navy Week in December. During the rest of the year it does not generate any revenue.

Maharashtra Urban Infrastructure Development Company which will oversee the project on behalf of the state government has issued a notice for Request For Qualification, "for selection of a private developer for converting Vikrant as a commercially viable maritime museum". The tender notice said, "The ship is proposed to be grouted at Oyster Rock- at Colaba in Mumbai and operated as a commercially viable maritime museum on a Public-Private-Partnership basis by allowing permissible commercial activities on board".

The MUIDC website says the possible revenue streams to make the project commercially viable may include construction of helipad for helicopter rides, small shops, cafes, hoardings on the ship and convention halls among others.

The warship, currently berthed at the Naval Dockyard at Colaba, is managed by the Vikrant Museum Trust through an apex committee of Navy and Maharashtra government. The MUIDC website states that IIT-Chennai has already been commissioned to do a technical study for jetty/platform construction and concept designing.

CRISIL, which has been appointed as consultant to the project, has said that the sanctity of the warship should be maintained while allowing commercial activities on it. INS Vikrant was India's first aircraft carrier and played a key role during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. It was India's only carrier for over 20 years, but was effectively out of service by early 1990s and decommissioned in January 1997.

In November 1998, Maharashtra proposed the conversion of Vikrant into a museum and the Ministry of Defence agreed and extensively refurbished it. The ship, rechristened as Indian Museum Ship Vikrant has been anchored in Naval Dockyard, Mumbai for the last ten years. The museum is now a microcosm of the entire Navy but is open to public only for a few days. In a new avatar, it may be thrown open to visitors all through the year.

BSF encourages more interaction between officers, jawans

PTI | March 01, 2009 | 15:53 IST

The Border Security Force has rolled out a project to relieve border guards of stress which often drive them to commit suicides. As part of the project, the BSF now encourages more interaction between the guards and the officers -- be it on the border outposts or on the play fields.

Though the project was conceived before the border guards in Bangladesh mutinied, it gained in significance after the developments shook the neighbouring country. BSF officers in Assam and Meghalaya frontiers are now interacting with the personnel more frequently to understand their grievances, if any, and sort them out. It has often been seen that stress in soldiers arises out of problems faced by their families back home and not because of continuous deployment on the border, BSF Inspector-General P K Mishra, who is now posted as the staff officer at the force's frontiers headquarters in Shillong, says.

''We have asked the officers and commanders to interact with the jawans more and share their problems. This will contribute in reducing stress,'' Mishra said. He said the deputy commandants, posted at the battalions, were being asked to ensure that they knew every jawan by his name, his address and other details.

Mishra insisted that officers and jawans at the border posts had the same food and spent their leisure playing games together. ''The commandant listens to the problems of the jawans and ensures that they get leave when required,'' Mishra said. A Suggestion Book is also placed at every border outpost so that the jawans can register their grievances which thus come to the notice of the higher-ups. ''The jawans have registered their complaints regarding drinking water and other welfare facilities.

We ensure that their needs are taken care of,'' the IG, who initiated the project, said. Mishra says it has been seen that during roughly 35 years of his service, a jawan spends hardly five years at home giving the best part of his life to his country.

‘Near-miss’ as wake-up call
Need for national aeronautical policy
by Air Marshal Brijesh D. Jayal (retd)

THE recent “near-miss” incident at Mumbai airport involving the fleet of helicopters flying the President of India and her party speaks poorly of the management of national air space. The ensuing public spat between the Minister of Civil Aviation and the Chief of Air Staff underscores the view that air space management, like so many other issues of governance, is a victim of turf wars.

The “near-miss” is still under investigation. But one thing is intriguing. What happened to the earlier rule which required closure of air traffic for a specified time both before and after the VVIP movement? Had this still been in vogue, an error by anyone involved would not have compromised the safety of the President. From the reported sequence of events, it would appear that this rule now stands abolished. Is one to believe that somewhere along the line, the demands of civil aviation with its attendant commercial underpinnings have resulted in this compromise?

Ever since civil aviation in the country was opened to private enterprise, there has been an exponential growth in air traffic. Not unnaturally, as competition has become fiercer, there has been increasing pressure on the infrastructure on the ground, on the air traffic control services and on the use of the airspace itself. In the recent past the Ministry of Civil Aviation has set up no less than four committees to cover various aspects. In none of them did the ministry find it fit to co-opt IAF representation, thus indicating a somewhat parochial mindset.

Airspace is a national asset and needs to be used optimally towards enhancing national security, air safety and commercial interests. Much like the pressure on the defence forces to release more wireless spectrum for civil communications, the pressure on the IAF to release more air space for commercial use has been going on for some time. Reports indicate that progress has been made and the IAF has agreed to flexible use of some of its airspace. This is all to the good, but only a small part of the overall problem. Clearly, when competing demands for resources confront us, the nation must take a call and arrive at priorities. In the context of airspace, it is not difficult to see that national security and air safety must precede other interests. After all, the first two are facilitators towards smooth civil air operations and by no means obstacles or competitors. Sometimes one wonders if this message is understood by the mandarins who man civil aviation!

The responsibility for the security of national airspace vests entirely with the Indian Air Force. The air safety aspects rest in their respective spheres, both with the IAF and the Director-General of Civil Aviation. The commercial areas are solely within the domain of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and various agencies under it. While it is administratively necessary to separate the areas of responsibility; operationally, the use of the same airspace by multiple users, operating the platforms of vastly differing performances, carrying out differing missions and routines, reporting to different agencies in a dynamic environment where decisions and actions need to be taken in seconds rather than minutes, calls for a well-crafted Air Traffic Management System.

In general this system would cover en route and airport air traffic control, airspace management, communication, navigation and surveillance, contingency planning and crisis management, aeronautical and meteorological information, and search and rescue. The Naresh Chandra Committee had commented that “under the existing arrangement, wherein both airports and ATC services are controlled by a single organisation (i.e. the AAI), ATC services often remain neglected on account of inadequate attention from the top management”. Even a casual observer of civil aviation will endorse this view.

If all this were not complex enough, as hijacking and other terrorist threats become more sophisticated, misuse of the country’s air space under the guise of civil air movements for terrorist type attacks or clandestine activities is becoming an ever-looming threat. The Purulia episode in 1995 should have cautioned us that we were not masters of our airspace and that coordination between the IAF and the civil aviation authorities was sorely lacking.

It is, however, the 9/11 attacks in the US that have brought home the grave danger that can be posed by terrorism from the air. Today not just airliners, but even light aircraft, micro-lights and unmanned air vehicles can all be converted into lethal weapons, and the only way to neutralise the threat is to maintain undivided military control over the entire airspace of the country on a round-the-clock basis. The recent Mumbai terrorist carnage indicated that our coastal defence system failed us primarily because of divided responsibilities. We cannot afford a repeat of this in the air, although the lack of co ordination that the minister recently talked of points precisely to this type of weakness.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation had in 2003 constituted a committee under the erstwhile Cabinet Secretary, Mr Naresh Chandra, to prepare a roadmap for the civil aviation sector that would provide the basis for a new National Civil Aviation Policy. Among many other issues, the committee had highlighted the current drawbacks in the air traffic management services and recommended hiving these off from the current jurisdiction of the Airports Authority of India into a separate corporate entity in line with international trends.

Five years on, even this limited recommendation remains on paper. In addition, the National Civil Aviation Policy that was put up to the Cabinet in 2007 has still not been approved, although nothing in it would have overcome the burning issues of national security and air safety that constitute the subject of the current discussion.

Recognising that aeronautics is the most significant technological influence of modern time and is a major tool for economic development having a significant role in national security and international relations, the Aeronautical Society of India under the Presidentship of Dr Kalam had in 1994 proposed a comprehensive National Aeronautics Policy document for consideration of the government. In 2004, the Society resubmitted a revised proposal. The proposed policy anticipates the issues discussed above and proposes a viable organisational and management model to cover various institutions like a Civil Aviation Authority, a National Air Safety Board, a National Air Traffic, Space and Air Navigation Agency, an Airworthiness and Quality Assurance Agency, Civil-Military Coordination among some others. This proposal remains lost in ministerial archives.

This “near-miss” can become a wake-up call to the government to seriously look at aeronautics across the country as one entity. This must cover national security, air safety, commercial aviation, R&D and the aerospace industry. The aim should be to lay out a time-bound road-map to introduce organisational and management changes so that aeronautics in India makes the best use of the resources in the country and in turn enables it to become a generator of wealth. In this endeavour the government already has a head-start. All it has to do is dust the National Aeronautics Policy proposal and consider its implementation. It took the Mumbai carnage for the government to set up the Coastal Command post-haste. For once, let us be a step ahead.

India worried over spillover from Bangladesh mutiny
Updated March 01, 2009 09:16 PM

NEW DELHI (Xinhua) -- The Indian government is "uncomfortable" with a request by the Bangladeshi government to disarm and hand over rebels soldiers if the latter try to flee to India, the Kolkata-based local daily The Telegraph reported today.

The newspaper quoted unnamed Indian officials as saying that Dhaka has requested New Delhi to disarm and hand over rebel soldiers of the Bangladesh Rifles if they flee into India.

Worried about a spillover of the conflict in its neighbor, India is strengthening border security to prevent the rebels from fleeing into India, the report quoted an Indian security analyst as saying.

"India does not want to meddle in Bangladesh's internal affairs, though it risks being affected by them," said Sreeradha Datta, a fellow at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyst in New Delhi.

Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has called the mutiny is the internal affairs of Bangladesh.

Indian border security forces have been put on high alert along the 4,000-kilometer-long border with Bangladesh after rebels staged a mutiny in Dhaka last Wednesday.

The report said that the Bangladeshi government has told the Indian government that firing "may be heard" on the side of the Bangladeshi border and bullets "may cross the border", but this should not be regarded as aggression, "as they are aimed at mutineers who have not yet turned themselves in."

Around 700 rebels are said to be on the run in Bangladesh, according to the report.

Worldview: U.S. has 'trust deficit' in Pakistan

By Trudy Rubin

Inquirer Opinion Columnist

In mid-February, America's No. 1 military man, Mike Mullen, wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post about an unlikely subject: Trust.

Adm. Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs, was musing about the role of trust in defeating the Islamist insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He talked especially about the need to overcome "our trust deficit with Pakistan."

Figuring out how to overcome this trust deficit - which runs both ways - is the key to resolving the most dangerous security threat we face. I refer, of course, to the danger posed by Islamist militants who are destabilizing the government and society of Pakistan, a country with nukes.

As for the trust deficit, it revolves around the way Pakistan is - or isn't - fighting those militants.

Many in the U.S. military say they believe their Pakistani counterparts are too slow to grasp that the existential danger to their country is internal extremists, not India. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has sent troops to fight al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries in tribal areas. But U.S. officials suspect that elements of the Pakistani army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) see some militant groups as a hedge they can use against India in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

And U.S. officials worry that the training Pakistan's military needs to fight insurgents is different from the training required to fight a ground war against India. Pakistan's top brass, on the other hand, resists any doctrinal shift.

One indication of the trust gap was apparent when President Obama's special envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke, was asked recently on the NewsHour With Jim Lehrer whether Pakistan's security forces were committed to rooting out terrorists. He replied bluntly: "I've rarely seen in my years in Washington an issue which is so hotly disputed internally by experts and intelligence officials."

Yet the Obama administration knows that the U.S.-Pakistani relationship is too important to let the trust gap widen. So there have been some interesting recent developments aimed at narrowing the divide.

Mullen makes clear that he recognizes that Pakistani military officers also have grounds for mistrusting Americans. The cutoff of U.S. military aid in 1990 led to a whole generation of Pakistani military officers who have had no contact with Americans, and who suspect American motives.

To counter those suspicions, Mullen has made numerous visits to Pakistan to confer with top military officials, as has Gen. David Petraeus, now head of Central Command. Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the head of the ISI, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, conferred with U.S. officials in Washington for three days last week.

Similarly, Holbrooke invited the defense and foreign ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan to Washington to give them input into Obama's strategic review of the "Afpak" issue. (Such meetings now will be held regularly.)

Each side had plenty of complaints last week. U.S. officials are nervous about a Pakistani deal with "moderate" Islamists to allow Sharia law in the valley of Swat; they see the deal as a sign of the Pakistani army's inability to curb hard-line insurgents.

The Pakistanis are nervous about U.S. Predator drone strikes against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets, which cause collateral damage and adversely affect public opinion. And they complain that the United States isn't providing the equipment they need. Last week they asked for Cobra helicopters, night-vision equipment, and jamming equipment to block the radio broadcasts of the Taliban commander in Swat. They would also like small surveillance drones.

Yet there are some promising signs that, slowly, change is under way.

For one thing, the Pakistani army has agreed to accept more U.S. trainers (even while insisting that its troops have adequate skills). So far, it has fought militants in tribal areas with tactics better suited to a land war with India, flattening villages and causing tides of refugees that may provide future recruits for the Taliban. (Pakistan has asked for $15 million in U.S. aid for displaced persons, but officials complain that the aid hasn't come.)

Now, however, 70 U.S. military advisers are working in Pakistan to train Pakistani army and paramilitary forces to fight insurgents. Pakistan wants to double the number of U.S. advisers. And it may also send more officers to the United States for special training in order to avoid controversy at home. Those Pakistanis can in turn train others.

"Pakistani officers will increasingly be invited to attend our war colleges," Adm. Mullen wrote. "And I am hopeful that more U.S. aid and technical assistance may flow to the border regions." More U.S. economic aid for civilian projects is also on the way.

And there are signs at the top that Pakistani security officials understand the need for change. "We may be crazy in Pakistan," ISI chief Pasha told the German magazine Der Spiegel in January, "but we are not completely out of our minds. We know full well that terror is our enemy, not India." And Pakistan has finally admitted that several of the militants who attacked Mumbai came from Pakistan (though it denied there was any government involvement).

However, when pressed by Der Spiegel, Pasha defended Pakistan's unwillingness so far to arrest Taliban leader Mullah Omar, believed to be living in the Pakistani city of Quetta. That kind of equivocation raises suspicion of double-dealing.

And yet, as Mullen points out, trust cannot be rebuilt quickly. Given the pressure that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are putting on Pakistan's institutions, the question is whether it can be rebuilt in time.

Bharatiya Sthalsena

*, March 01, 2009
By Dr Farrukh Saleem
One out of every 200 Indians is already employed by the Indian Armed Forces. Three out of every four Indians already live at or less than $2 a day. Bharat Sarkar (the Government of India) has, however, now jacked up the defence budget by a massive 55 percent. Who is India going to fight with?

India has 3,773,300 troops, plus 1,089,700 paramilitary forces ( India's army is second only to China in size. The Indian Air Force, with a total aircraft strength of 1,700, is the world's 4th largest. The Indian Navy already operates some 13 dozen vessels with INS Viraat as its flagship, the only "full-deck aircraft carrier operated by a country in Asia or the Western Pacific, along with operational jet fighters." Who is India going to fight with?

India has six neighbours; Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal and China. India now spends a colossal $32.35 billion on defence, Pakistan $4.8 billion, Bangladesh $830 million, Nepal $100 million and Burma $30 million (according to Business Standard, India's second-largest financial daily, "There is no apparent reason for India to understate its defence budget. No IMF conditions constrain defence spending…. But India continues to camouflage what other comparable liberal democracies transparently show as defence spending). Collectively, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma and Nepal spend $5.7 billion a year on defence. Who is India going to fight with?

Yes, there's China and the People's Republic spends $80 billion a year on defence. According to a report by Stratfor, the Texas-based private intelligence agency, "China has been seen as a threat to India, and simplistic models show them to be potential rivals. In fact, however, China and India might as well be on different planets. Their entire frontier runs through the highest elevations of the Himalayas. It would be impossible for a substantial army to fight its way through the few passes that exist, and it would be utterly impossible for either country to sustain an army there in the long term. The two countries are irrevocably walled off from each otherl.... Ideally, New Delhi wants to see a Pakistan that is fragmented, or at least able to be controlled. Towards this end, it will work with any power that has a common interest and has no interest in invading India."

To be certain, India and China are not military rivals. Who is India then going to fight with? Bharatiya Sthalsena (the Indian Army) has a total of 13 corps, of which six are strike corps. Of the 13 corps at least seven have their guns pointed towards Pakistan. The 3rd Armoured Division, 2nd Armoured Brigade, 4 RAPID (Reorganised Army Plains Infantry Divisions), Jaisalmer AFS, Utarlai AFS and Bhuj AFS are all aiming at splitting Pakistan into two (by capturing the Kashmore/Guddu Barrage-Reti-Rahimyar Khan triangle).

On Jan 21, 2009, India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) tested BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile (from Brahmaputra and the Moskva of Russia). According to India Today, the "test failure was due to a software error (unit cost $2.73 million)."

On July 9, 2006, DRDO test fired Agni III (unit cost $8 million). The missile remained airborne for a mere five minutes and then fell into the sea off the coast of Orissa. The following day, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) failed to launch a satellite when its rocket veered off course (destroying an Insat-4C satellite). The combined value of the satellite and the rocket was Rs2.5 billion. Agni III was test fired again on April 12, 2007, and then once again on May 7, 2008.

In 1974, DRDO began developing Arjun tank. It took DRDO 30 years--with billions wasted--to deliver the first five units. In July 2008, the Indian Army said it was "capping Arjun's induction at 124 units." DRDO now plans to deliver the remaining units sometime in 2009.

In November 2008, Lt Col Shrikant Purohit was arrested by the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism squad for his involvement in the Samjhauta Express bombings. Sudha Ramachandran, writing for Asia Time Online, said, "The arrests have triggered a heated debate…. The probes point to the possibility of the hitherto secular and apolitical Indian Army being infected by the communal virus."

Some nine years ago, India committed to achieve goals established at the Millennium Summit 2000. With so much money going into defence India is staring into a whole matrix of failures: failure in eradicating "extreme poverty and hunger"; failure in reducing the number of underweight children; failure in reducing child mortality; failure in reducing maternal mortality and failure in combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Why a country 75 percent of whose population is at or below $2 a day is bent upon spending $32.35 billion for the acquisition of more killing machines? Who is India then going to fight with?

The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). Email:




No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal