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Monday, 25 May 2009

From Today's Papers - 25 May 09

Indian Express


Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Hindustan Times

DNA India

Talk as Powerful Neighbor, Not Hegemon:
Dhaka Media tells India

Congratulating Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Congress-led alliance on winning a second term in office, sections of Bangladesh media have said this is a good augury for development of positive relations within South Asia.

But for that to happen, Delhi needs to "talk as a powerful neighbor, not a regional hegemon", Left-leaning New Age newspaper Sunday advised editorially.

If that was to happen, relations between Delhi and Dhaka in particular were bound to improve as the terms of Singh and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would run almost simultaneously.

The Daily Star noted that India's Congress and Bangladesh's Awami League, both having won popular mandates, enjoyed affinity and historical ties.

"As the predominant power in South Asia, India can certainly play a significant role in the development of regional cooperation through such bodies as SAARC. On a bilateral basis and given the sweeping changes that have been taking place around the globe, India can give itself a boost by moving forward to resolve the issues between it and its neighbors.

"It is upon a resolution of those issues that closer ties between Delhi and other nations can be forged. The dividends that can accrue from such an approach are easy to foresee. A spirit of generosity on India's part can surely contribute to good neighborly ties. Where India's relations with Bangladesh are concerned, in terms of specifics, there are certain crucial areas where both Delhi and Dhaka must take a deeper look into the issues," the newspaper said.

New Age pointed out that the last major treaty, on sharing of Ganga waters, was signed in 1997 and the other in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (with assistance from Delhi), was with a non-Congress government in Delhi.

The editorials urged India to be 'generous', keeping in mind the imbalance in bilateral trade weighed against Bangladesh.

New Age editorial took note of the "rejection of the Hindutva forces" by the Indian electorate.

"We can only hope that this language of communal reconciliation and unity will find expression in Delhi's foreign policy, contributing to sustained stability and economic growth across South Asia," it said.

Entitled, "Congress govt. needs to reinvent regional foreign policy", it said: "We can certainly say of Dhaka and Delhi that people on both sides will see much gain in resolving their disputes over water sharing and border demarcations, as well as a more constructive and holistic approach to trade issues.

Both newspapers raised, among other issues, India's go-ahead on the Tipaimukh project in Assam, without adequately considering Dhaka's environmental concerns.

Taliban Lying Low to Fight Another Day in Pakistan
By Nadeem Sarwar

Buner (Pakistan)
Dressed in worn grey-colored traditional shalwar kameez and carrying no belongings, Ghazan Khan (a fictitious name) was sitting on a small rock just a few metres from an unmanned post at Pakistan's remote Ambela Pass, and he was not looking at all like a Taliban fighter.

Despite the long black beard, he looked little different from the rest of the refugees, who were either returning home briefly to harvest the wheat crop or to see how much damage to their houses or shops the fighting between government troops and the Taliban had done.

But unlike everyone else, Khan was not going to Ambela village. Instead he was waiting for the bus from Ambela heading to Mardan.

Khan wanted to die fighting Pakistani troops in Buner district, but his commander asked him to flee to the neighboring district and wait quietly for two to three months to be called back for another round of guerrilla war.

Following orders, Khan and 29 other fighters divided into five groups and dumped their AK-47 assault rifles, light machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, some suicide jackets, and wireless sets at five different places in the mountains.

Each man parted from the rest to walk alone through safe mountain paths to reach the adjoining districts of Mardan and Swabi.

After a week of walking and occasional crawling to avoid army snipers and helicopter gunships, Khan descended from the mountains and mingled with the hundreds of refugees waiting to enter Buner while the curfew was relaxed.

"Our people are giving stiff resistance but you know, the army has tanks, helicopters and planes. Therefore, they have divided mujahideen in two groups - some will continue the fight and the others will either hide in the mountains or leave the area for a while," said Khan at Ambela Pass, an entry point connecting Buner with the rest of Pakistan.

"When this fight is over and the military regains control in Buner, we will wait for some weeks. Then we will come back and start a new fight from the mountains," said Khan.

Khan, 20 and a resident of Buner, joined the Taliban months before the military raided the district from the adjoining Swat valley, where a peace deal with the government had emboldened the militants to infiltrate the neighboring areas.

He was sent back to Buner last month to recruit fighters. The new recruits joined more than 400 Swati Taliban rebels who entered Buner in April.

Buner's capture by the Taliban alarmed the Pakistani government and the international community, as the move brought the Taliban dangerously close to Islamabad, the capital of the nuclear-armed Muslim country.

Hundreds of government military and paramilitary troops moved into Buner April 28 and ten days later into Swat to launch a major offensive, which is being seen as a test of the capacity and the determination of the Pakistani forces to defeat militancy.

The results of the fight have been little promising so far. Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas vowed in the early days of the operation that the area would be clear of Taliban within a week, but the resistance put up by the few hundred guerrillas surprised everyone. Three weeks later, the Taliban still control parts of Buner.

The military has claimed to have eliminated 1,100 rebels, losing 50 of their own men in Buner, Swat and nearby districts. The numbers could not however be independently verified.

A win still incomplete, the military offensive has displaced hundreds of thousands from the district.

According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, the numbers of people displaced from Malakand region, where Buner, Swat and six other districts are located, have reached 1.5 million.

This is adding to the pressure on the military to complete the mission as soon as possible.

"We want this operation to end," said a 39-year-old farmer returning to Ambela village with his wife to harvest the wheat crop. He left behind nine children with their grandmother at a refugee camp in Mardan.

The security forces "are only killing us", the farmer added.

Even if the military were to be successful in taking control of the district, the Taliban are not likely to give up.

"Just remember, this fight in Buner is not over. We will be back soon. This land belongs to God and God's laws will be enforced here," Khan said, before abruptly standing up and entering an arriving mini-van heading back to Mardan.

Pakistani troops retake part of Mingora after battle with Taleban

Pakistani soldiers walk to their positions on top of a mountain at Banai Baba Ziarat area in northwest Pakistan

Zahid Hussain

Pakistani troops have recaptured a large part of Mingora, the main town in the northwestern region of Swat, in what military officials described yesterday as a crucial phase of their operation against the Taleban.

Special forces commandos were fighting street by street with about 300 militants still entrenched inside deserted buildings in the town’s central commercial district, which has also been heavily mined by the insurgents, according to the officials.

The Army made a three-pronged assault on the town on Saturday after fighting for more than three weeks to secure control of the surrounding areas in what the Government has called a battle for the survival of Pakistan.

The troops moved into the town from the south, north-west and north-east, cutting supply lines to the militants, who have controlled most of Mingora since striking a controversial peace deal with the Government in February.

A senior security source told The Times that Mullah Fazlullah, who is spearheading the Taleban insurgency, had been surrounded in Mingora with some of his top commanders. Some reports suggested that Mullah Fazlullah, who is also known as Mullah Radio because of his pirate FM radio broadcasts, could have been seriously wounded during the fighting.

“We want to eliminate the entire leadership,” said Major-General Athar Abbas, the chief military spokesman. “Despite some difficulties, we are going to take the operation to a logical conclusion.”

He said that ten militants and three soldiers were killed in the fighting yesterday.

Officials said that helicopter gunships had also pounded suspected militant targets in the Orakzai tribal region, including a religious school.

The troops had killed several militants, but the pace of operation was likely to be “painfully slow” to avoid civilian casualties, he said.

Up to 20,000 civilians are still believed to be stranded in Mingora, which normally has a population of at least 375,000, and the Army fears that the militants could use them as human shields.

Government forces were inching towards the central Green Square, also known as “Khoni Chowk” (Slaughter Square), where the Taleban used to hang the bodies of their opponents from electricity poles. Some victims had notes attached that accused them of spying and told residents not to move the bodies until specified times.

“Fierce gun battles are raging in many areas,” said Salim Athar, who fled the town a few days ago, leaving some of his close relatives behind to look after their homes. “They have run out of food and cannot get out because of fighting.”

Many people had fallen ill but could not go to the hospitals because of a curfew imposed by security forces, residents said. Fazal Wadood, a local political leader who is trapped in the town, said: “It is like inviting death to stay here.”

Analysts said that the recapture of Mingora would be a crucial step towards defeating the Taleban militants, whose peace deal with the Government collapsed after they advanced into neighbouring regions last month.

US officials have long urged the Army to take on the Taleban, but also have grave doubts about its counter-insurgency capabilities, especially in urban areas, as it is designed to fight a conventional war with India.

“The recapture of Mingora will deal a crushing blow to the Taleban seeking to establish its brutal rule in northwestern Pakistan,” retired Brigadier Mahmood Shah, a former top official in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, said. “Swat was the centre of Taleban militancy.”

Some other analysts, however, were more cautious, saying that victory in Mingora would not bring an end to the insurgency. “Sobering hurdles lie ahead,” said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Ambassador to Washington and now a leading political and defence commentator. “Security forces have to clear the Taleban militants from other strongholds. Preventing their return is an even bigger challenge.”

An over view of Indio-Bangladesh relations

Shah Mohammed Saifuddin

The independence movement under the leadership of Congress was for establishing independent undivided India through the eviction of British rulers from the soil of India, but the degeneration of Hindu-Muslim relation into hostility and the demand of Muslim league for a separate state for the Muslims of the region thwarted the dream of an independent undivided India and made the partition of subcontinent inevitable. While the initial proposal for the partition met with steep resistance as most of the senior leaders of Congress namely, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawharlal Nehru, and Moulana Abul Kalam Azad vehemently protested such proposal and termed it as British conspiracy to divide India, the Congress finally gave its nod of approval in the fear that outright rejection of the partition proposal might be used by the British colonial rulers against the independence movement to perpetuate their political domination over the country, and in the hope that with a small resource base, peculiar geographic reality that separates both the wings of the country by one thousand miles and paucity of leaders with political experience, Pakistan would not survive too long and would return to India in the end.

There is no surprise that partition of India came as a shock to Congress leaders and that they could never reconcile themselves to the idea of an independent Pakistan because their freedom struggle was for undivided India, and therefore, they wanted to roll back the geographical changes made to Indian subcontinent through partition and their intention was clearly demonstrated to Pakistan from the very beginning, which gave rise to a plethora of problem and a paucity of trust between the two nations.

What Pakistan needed in those formative years was national unity and balanced development in the two wings to ensure security and progress to consolidate its position as a powerful nation in the subcontinent to thwart Indian attempt to undo the partition. But the then Pakistani leaders' myopic failure to recognize Bengalis as equal partners and give them due share of political power and economic resource caused widespread resentment among the East Pakistanis, which was cunningly used by India against Pakistan in the subsequent years. The Indian political leaders in later years used their diplomatic channels and intelligence agencies to cultivate close relations with East Pakistani political establishment in order to involve themselves in almost all political movements in East Pakistan to use the prevailing sense of deprivation among East Pakistanis to their own political advantage and instigate East Pakistanis against West Pakistanis to accelerate the process of disintegration of Pakistan firstly, to weaken it and then to bring it back to India's lap through various political machinations to realize the dream of undivided India.

No amount of political negotiations between the two wings could improve the situation in Pakistan due, mainly, to the stubbornness of West Pakistanis, which gave rise to increasing sense of alienation and deprivation among the people of East Pakistan and finally when Sheikh Mujib was denied the premiership in 1970, Bengalis decided to get out of the relationship once and for all. So, for the first time and certainly for the last time in history, the disintegration of Pakistan became a common goal for both India and the Bengalis as the former wanted to break Pakistan to realize its vision of undivided India and the latter wanted to establish a separate independent nation to rid themselves of an insensitive and repressive political regime.

As soon as the Pakistani army cracked down on the unarmed East Pakistanis, India, under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, took bold steps to help the Bengalis in their just struggle for independence against the fascist regime of Yahya Khan. The Indira government set their objectives to do the following things to ensure a desired outcome in the war for both Indians and East Pakistanis:

To give safe passage to top Awami League leaders to India and help form Mujibnagar government

To help form Mukti Bahini and provide necessary training and weapons

To form Mujib Bahini as an alternative force and use them in special operations

To provide asylum to ten million refugees from East Pakistan

To launch a vigorous diplomatic campaign worldwide through its foreign services to garner support for East Pakistan's just struggle for freedom

To use its military and intelligence resources to the extent possible to help freedom fighters sustain a prolonged war against the powerful Pakistan army

India never lost sight of its strategic goal

Some people may argue that India's decision to help in 1971 was based purely on humanitarian grounds, but the reality is that India's decision to extend its wholehearted support to Bangladesh's liberation war was a premeditated one and was primarily based on its own strategic goal of disintegrating Pakistan to undo the changes made through partition. Former Indian foreign secretary Mr. Dixit said, "We helped in the liberation of Bangladesh in mutual interest, it was not a favor," and a senior RAW intelligence officer said, "Bangladesh was the result of a 10 year long promotion of dissatisfaction against the rulers of Pakistan" (RAW: Top-Secret Failures, p: 5 ). These statements from two top former Indian government officials are testament to the fact that Indian help for Bangladesh was not an altruistic one, rather it was for implementing India's own strategic goal of disintegrating Pakistan and that the intelligence agencies of India were also engaged in fomenting unrest in East Pakistan. With their strategic goals in mind, India concluded a seven point agreement with the Mujibnagar government to seal the fate of a negotiated settlement between East and West Pakistan, and to cripple Bangladesh by depriving it of its sovereign right to raise a standing army and to independently formulate foreign policy. Now, for the benefit of the readers let me briefly describe the points of 'seven point agreement':

Bangladesh government will select only those people for administrative posts who have actively participated in the liberation war and any shortfall therein will be filled by the Indian government officials.

A joint force will be formed comprising of the Indian army and the Mukti Bahini and this force will be placed under the command of the chief of staff of the Indian army who will lead the liberation war.

Bangladesh will have no standing army

India will help raise a paramilitary force to protect the internal law and order of the country.

Open market will be the basis for trade relation between the two nations and this arrangement will be subject to periodical review.

The Indian army will be stationed in Bangladesh for an indefinite period of time but the time frame for their gradual withdrawal will be determined through annual meetings between the two governments.

Bangladesh will formulate its foreign policy only in consultation with India.

The conclusion of the seven point agreement only ensured that the Mujibnagar government would continue the war until Bangladesh gained full independence from Pakistan, but it did not give the guarantee that China and America would not intervene in the event the Indian army directly involved itself in the war. So, the Indira government approached to former Soviet Union to extract security guarantee against impending Chinese and American threats and it was made available to them in the shape of '25 year friendship treaty' by the erstwhile Soviet Union, which was also seeking to play greater role in the subcontinent to expand its own sphere of influence.

The signing of the seven point treaty with Mujib Government and the 25 year friendship treaty with the Soviets removed all obstacles for the Indian forces to directly intervene in East Pakistan and it took them less than two weeks to overrun the defensive positions of the Pakistan army, which was already exhausted by a nine month long guerrilla war against Mukti Bahini and was at the final stages of disintegration and collapse. At the end of the war, Bangladesh got its much cherished independence and India could break Pakistan into two pieces for which it had been scheming since 1947.

Bangladesh steps into a strategic trap

While the public of Bangladesh, in general, and the Mujib government, in particular, was extremely grateful to India for her help and support in the war of liberation and wanted to maintain the best possible relationship with the Indian people, the political and military establishment of India had already done their strategic planning in line with the seven point agreement to reduce Bangladesh's relevance as an independent nation through limiting her power to formulate national policies. The strategic trap was set for Bangladesh in the form of '25 year friendship treaty' which took away most, if not all, options for Bangladesh to independently establish foreign, defense, and economic relations with other nations in the world. I would like to briefly mention a few clauses of the '25 year friendship treaty' that had a deleterious effect on our foreign, defense, and economic interests:

Article 4: Both the nations will hold regular meetings with each other at all levels to discuss major international issues for mutual benefit.

Article 5: Both the nations will cooperate with each other in the fields of trade, transport and communications on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and the most favored nation principle.

Article 8: None of the nations will ever enter into a military alliance against each other and will refrain from allowing a third party from using their soil for military purposes that could constitute a threat to national security of either nations.

Article 9: Both the nations will refrain from providing any assistance to a third party taking part in an armed conflict against either of the nations to ensure regional peace and security.

Article 10: Neither of the party will undertake any commitment, secret or open, toward one or more states, which may violate the spirit of the treaty.

Article 4 practically eliminated Bangladesh's power to devise an independent foreign policy and made it compulsory for Bangladesh to consult India about any major foreign policy matter.

Article 5 forced Bangladesh to confer most favored nation status on India to clear the way for India to capture Bangladesh's economic market without any restrictions, but Bangladesh being a smaller economy was unable to avail itself of the opportunities of most favored nation status.

Article 8 ensured that if there was a military conflict between Bangladesh and India, Bangladesh, as a weaker power, could not seek help from outside world to protect its territorial integrity.

Article 9 was included to protect India's strategic interest in its insurgency infested North Eastern states by imposing restrictions on Bangladesh to provide help and support to the insurgents, but India itself broke the sanctity of this clause by providing military and political assistance to Shanti Bahini in Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Article 10 restricted Bangladesh's power to sign a defense deal with a third party to improve its armed forces.

By dint of this treaty India was able to diminish Bangladesh's power to protect herself and the right to establish political and economic relations with other nations independently and consequently became the de-facto power over Bangladesh to whom the new born country had to depend for her security and economic development only to lose her relevance as a sovereign nation. Thus the entrapment of Bangladesh was complete.

Political change in 1975 and new equation in Indo-Bangla relationship

After the independence, the war ravaged country needed solid leadership with political maturity to overcome the seemingly insurmountable problems created by nine month long war of liberation and steer the nation to build a society free from corruption, deprivation and exploitation through creating national unity, establishing rule of law, strengthening democratic institutions, and creating economic opportunities for the people. Unfortunately, within three years of its rule, the new government banned all but four state owned national newspapers, dissolved the parliament to create one party rule, put incompetent party men in different state owned industrial establishments, neglected and humiliated the military, raised an alternative security agency to suppress oppositions that destroyed all hopes for the new born country to establish democracy and attain economic self sufficiency. This created widespread discontent throughout the country which resulted in a military coup in 1975 to end the rule of this unpopular regime.

The new government was installed and gradually undertook plethora of measures to restore law and order of the country, to bring back discipline in economic sector, to lift ban on national newspapers and political parties, to increase budgetary allocation for the defense forces, and to change foreign policy direction to establish close and productive relationships with China, the U.S.A., Europe, and the Middle Eastern countries so as to diminish Indian influence over the nation created through signing of the controversial 25 year friendship treaty. The inevitable result of such a drastic measure by the new government of Bangladesh was confrontation with India which saw it as an attempt to challenge its supremacy in the region and considered it a security, political, and strategic threat from a country which it helped gain independence from Pakistan. Strategically Bangladesh was too important for India to let it slip off her radar so they adopted a new set of strategies to keep Bangladesh within her sphere of influence in light of new political reality.

Some questions for India on the Chinese threat

May 24th, 2009 | email this | digg it

Posted by P. Chacko Joseph

Published in Opinion and Editorials

Of all the threats which India faces, the biggest is China. Other threats like Pakistani Army attitude and terrorists are proxy threats. China represents a threat in itself. India and China are two civilizations and a conflict between these two will be a civilizational conflict. Pakistani Army and terrorism can be controlled by US influence. Will US be able to influence China to stop attacking India like it can influence Pakistan? China will attack India when others are busy and is advantageous for China. Will India ever attack china even when it feels advantageous?

Second question is the location of Chinese threat. Chinese army is deployed on the higher ground and Indian Army is deployed on the lower ground. Chinese disadvantage of moving troops and equipment over the occupied Tibetan is overcome by feats in road construction, railway line and air strips. China also has built up vehicles/ carriers to move around at Tibet border, while Indian Army still depends largely upon mules. Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), other airfields reactivated, current roads building program at Chinese border are meant to “keep and eye” on Chinese and have very less value when it comes to large scale troop movements. Stationing SU-30 MKI at Chinese borders is the only credible defence on Chinese border which we have seen lately. Does India has the border infrastructure at Chinese border?

Third question is Chinese posses long range artillery, which is not yet employed in decisive manner by India. China has deployed missiles in occupied Tibet and it can hit any part of India it wants. Indian on the other hand has just started building up offensive missile systems which can harm Chinese at their main land. While Chinese will have no remorse to hit Indian populated centers, Chinese PLA can use Tibetan cities as shields. It is possible that Tibetans will rise in revolt, but, its anybody’s guess if china has not built it into calculation. There are fresh examples of how equipped are the Chinese to contain Tibetans. Indian ABM systems are quite a while away. Will India hurl missiles at Tibetan cities? Can India strike Chinese main land with as much damage that Chinese can inflict on India?

The fourth question is formidable Chinese production units that can churn the required military wares in numbers in the event of war. Not just this, Chinese forces have been using and upgrading their indigenous equipment. On the other hand Indian Armed forces, especially the Indian Army does not has such foresight and leadership for almost past 3 decades. India will have to import, non suited equipment from overseas. This was demonstrated during kargil war. Will it come in numbers and right time?

The fifth question is that Chinese can use nuclear weapons first and Chinese have the capability to withstand a nuclear strike and counter strike. Can India boast of such capabilities against the Chinese main land?

The sixth question is that India and China has undefined borders and Tawang is hotly contested. Will India fight the border war on the Indian side of the territory or the territory occupied by the Chinese?

The eigth question is the maturity of Chinese cyber warfare. We have allegedly seen them hacking Indian embassy PC’s. Have Indian cyber warfare team ever tested hacking Chinese networks?

The ninth question is that Chinese trade flows via Indian ocean. The Chinese are building Navy ( PLAN ) to operate in Indian Ocean. Will Indian Navy operate on east Chinese sea?

The tenth reason is the Chinese diplomatic clout and they are a permanent 5 nation at UN. They can block any deal in UN which concerns them. India doesn’t. Can India walk out of UN, when Chinese have an upper hand there?

The eleventh question is the Chinese ASAT test. China has tested its anti-satellite weapon, India has not. Will India be able to destroy Chinese assets in space?

The twelfth question is the Chinese economy and economic clout. Chinese economy can sustain a long war with India. Can Indian economy sustain it? Chinese economic clout spans from Latin America to Africa. Even Us and Russia have Chinese as major trading partner. How much can India influence?

The final question was echoed by the Indian Air Force Chief , Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major. He told Hindustan Times “We know very little about the actual capabilities of China, their combat edge or how professional their military is.” Does India fully understands the Chinese threat?

China’s “String of Pearls” strategy around India in tatters

May 11th, 2009 | email this | digg it

Posted by P. Chacko Joseph

Published in Opinion and Editorials

The Chinese “String of Pearls” strategy around India appears to be have broken. By definition, the “String of Pearls” describes the manifestation of China’s rising geopolitical influence through efforts to increase access to ports and airfields, develop special diplomatic relationships, and modernize military forces that extend from the South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to the Arabian Gulf (USAF Lieutenant Colonel Christopher J. Pehrson, “string of Pearls: meeting the challenge of china’s rising Power across the asian littoral” July 2006, Strategic Studies Institute, United States Army War College).

Around India, the Chinese pearls include Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles and Pakistan.

Currently there might be no comprehensive policy by the current Indian government to contain it, but, a mix of luck, some policy, some internal and external events seem to have worked in favour of India.

Myanmar ( Burma): Sittwe Port, Coco Island, Burma Hianggyi, Khaukphyu, Mergui and Zadetkyi are the main names associated with Chinese interest in Myanmar. India shares a border of more than 1,600 kms with Myanmar. Myanmar also serves as a gateway to South East Asia and ASEAN and is supposed to be the Eastern Flank to the Bay of Bengal.

“Look East” policy by former Indian Prime minister, Father of Modern India, Hon. PV Narasimha Rao, had brought Myanmar in Indian sights. Subsequently, India had toned down its criticism of the junta, supplied Myanmar with military spares, joint action on rebels in each others borders and offered economic co-operation. Vice Senior General Maung Aye visited India from 2 to 6 April 2008. During his visit, The Kaladan Muti Model Transit Transport Project agreement was signed which saw India gaining access to Sittwe. India also signed Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Myanmar. India and Myanmar are engaged in various sectors like cross-border developmental projects, trade, IT, Telecommunication, hydrocarbon etc.

Myanmar does not lean towards China or India. It makes best of the competition between China and India which are competing for Myanmar’s resources.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh currently has an India friendly government and army. Before this Bangladesh had an anti-Indian government and Army. China had taken full advantage of it.

Nepal: China and India are currently locked under a tussle over Nepal. China can do little but has increased considerable influence with the Nepali Maoist. India is not expected to loose its clout in Nepal.

Sri Lanka: This is another area where China is trying to influence. Hambantota port is being developed by China and China is a supplier of military wares to Sri Lanka. Indian influence in Sri lanka is not expected to be lost.

Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles: china is trying, but, it is not successful in getting ports or bases in these countries due to Indian objections.

Pakistan: Pakistan is currently involved in counter insurgency in its own country and has a very heavy US influence. Pakistan proxy is not currently available to China due to US influence. Gwadar port, which was built with Chinese assistance is under the management of Singapore based company. Chinese have not been able to complete central Asia - Gwadar link due to US influence and Indian friendly government in Afghanistan.

There are two more countries that are within the Chinese String of Pearls strategy, i.e, Thailand and Cambodia. Thailand has a proximity with Indian Andaman and Nicobar Island. India needs to work on relations with Thailand. Cambodia is currently of less direct significance to India.

For china, the fight for dominance over these regions is not yet over as it needs to secure its energy and trade route with Middle East and Africa. India needs a strategy to keep these gains and discourage Chinese dominance within Indian Ocean.

Is there an Sino-Indian space race?

23 May 2009

Western analysts seem to believe that India's resurgent space programme is a reaction to China's growing success in the field. But Indian officials deny this, saying its programme is entirely based on India's own needs. Also, China's programme is backed and funded by its armed forces and is therefore more defence oriented than India's, says Radhakrishna Rao

For quite sometime now western space analysts have been projecting the view that India is competing with its neighbouring Communist giant China in the race to dominate the final frontier. India's Chandrayaan-1 mission to orbit the moon, launched in October 2008 and China's first lunar probe Chang'e-1, which orbited in October 2007, have been described as exercises to boost the national prestige of the two most populous Asian countries.

Both Chandrayaan-1 and Chang'e-1 had fairly similar scientific objectives. While China's Chang'e-1 terminated its 16-month mission with impact on the lunar surface on 1 March this year, Chandrayaan-1 continues to study the lunar features in addition to exploring for the presence of water and Helium-3, a clean and abundant source of energy.

Both countries have a firm eye on the moon's resources. While India has hinted at its eventual aim of mining for lunar resources, China is thinking of setting up a base on the moon. Interestingly, both India and China have announced plans to send a landing mission to the moon in the first half of the next decade. But while China is edging close to firming up its plan for a manned landing mission, the Indian Space Research Organisation has made it clear that a manned moon landing project would be taken up only if it is ''totally justified''.

At the moment, a manned mission to the moon is not on the radar of ISRO. But on more than one occasion its chairman G Madhavan Nair has driven home the point that India should keep up its space exploration drive. ''As far as space is concerned, India can be described as a developed country,'' Nair has quipped.

But China could probably steal a march where a manned mission is concerned. Michael Griffin, the outgoing chief of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has expressed the view that China could well attempt a manned lunar orbit flight. ''Technically they will be able to do a circumlunar mission. Whether they will choose to do it or not depends upon the goals of their political leadership,'' observes Griffin.

China has so far accomplished three successful manned space missions. In September 2008 it carried out its third such mission on the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft. This manned mission was conspicuous for the widely publicised space-walk by its astronauts.

China is also looking at the possibility of a docking experiment. It plans to fly the Shenzhou-8 by 2012 for docking with a free-flying research module called Tiangang-1. As envisaged now, Tiangang-1 would be a major step towards putting in place an autonomous orbiting complex. And while China hopes to launch a space station by 2020, India at this point appears to have no specific plan for putting in place an orbital complex.

Chinese objectives clear

The objectives of the multi-faceted Chinese space programme are outlined in a white paper brought out in 2006. It observes among other things, ''The aims of China's space activities are to explore outer space to meet the demands of economic construction, scientific and technological development, national security and social progress, and to raise the scientific quality of the Chinese people, protect China's national interests and rights, and build up the comprehensive national strength.'' India has not outlined any such clear-cut agenda.

Western space analysts believe India's plan for a manned flight in 2015 is in reaction to China' strides in this area. As things stand now, ISRO plans to send a two-person space capsule complete with life support systems, emergency mission abort and crew rescue provisions on board a version of the three0stage GSLV-MKII vehicle.

As part of this programme, ISRO has tied up with Institute of Aviation Medicine (IAM), a part of the Indian Air Force, to work towards setting up a well equipped crew training facility in Bangalore. While ISRO has already come out with a design of the capsule for the proposed manned flight, how it would develop or obtain the necessary technology is unclear. But it is speculated that India will take Russian assistance for its manned flight.

The Chinese manned mission too had depended heavily on Soviet assistance and expertise. Not only were the Chinese astronauts trained by Russians but also China made use of some of the technologies used in Russia's Soyuz spacecraft for developing its own human rated spaceship Shenzhou.

Moreover, with the Chinese defence set-up closely involved with Chinese space activities, its manned missions of China have also benefited heavily from the expertise available at various institutions under its People's Liberation Army.

Nair believes that India is not in any kind of race or competition with China. ''Our projects and programmes are based on our own requirements and we are not influenced by any extraneous developments while arriving at our priorities,'' says Nair. Right from the outset, the thrust of the essentially civilian space programme in India has been on harnessing the advances in space technology to spur national development.

Thus, the Indian programme has focused on areas like using the potential of space technology for rural development, infrastructure improvement, telemedicine, communications, water resources exploration, natural resources management, agriculture, disaster warning, weather forecasting and related areas of national development.

RISAT-2 However, India has not neglected defence either, as shown by ISRO's recent launch of the Israeli-built RISAT-2 spy satellite on its PSLV launch workhorse, along with the peaceful, student-built micro satellite Anusat.

It must be said to the credit of the Indian space programme that despite having to start from scratch, without any outside assistance, today India has come to be recognised as a space power capable of ''doing things on its own'' . Moreover, being a fully civilian venture operating in a democratic set up, the Indian space programme is subject to public scrutiny and media criticism.

'Peaceful' India v 'militaristic' China

On the other hand, the defence oriented Chinese space venture enjoyed a number of advantages. To begin with, the Chinese space programme in its formative days was headed by Chine Hsueh, a US trained aerospace engineer who had previously worked on space projects at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In addition, the Russians made available key elements of missile technology to China, which it exploited for developing its space vehicles.

The anti satellite test carried out by China in early 2007 provided a clear indicator of China's plan to perfect ''space war techniques''. However, India has consistently opposed the misuse of outer space for testing weapons. In fact, Chinese keenness to develop a range of space weapons has been construed as a definitive threat to India's ''space assets''.

A recent report from Japan's National Institute for Defence Studies says, ''It is likely that China will continue to actively engage in space development in the years ahead, given that such development serve as a vital means of achieving military competitiveness and raising national prestige. The organisations involved in China's space development programme share strong ties with the PLA and a large proportion of the satellites launched and operated by China are believed to be for military purposes.''

China is also building a new family of heavy lift off space vehicles to support its long term space and defence projects. The Chinese constellation of satellites for earth imaging, reconnaissance, surveillance, telecommunications and navigation are regulated by its defence forces.

Both India and China are actively involved in promoting the hardware, services and expertise they have developed for their space activities in the multi billion dollar global space market. And both the countries have covered some ground in making their presence felt in the global space market place.

As part of their plans to become major players in the area of commercial satellite launch services, both countries are involved in developing launch vehicles to meet the specific requirements of global customers. However, both India and China will have to reckon with US export regulations, which put roadblocks in the way of the launch of satellites made in USA or satellites featuring US made components atop Indian or Chinese launch vehicles.

Gulmarg’s special museum exhibits gears used in high altitude warfare

Gulmarg, May 24 (ANI): A museum has been set up inside the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) in Gulmarg to display old and modern warfare equipment and gears used by the Indian Army during high altitude warfare or by mountaineers during expeditions.

The Kanchenjunga Museum in Gulmarg has war-related climbing and mountaineering equipment used by Indian army from 1947 till date.

Initially started as a 19 Infantry Division Ski School in 1948, the High-Altitude Warfare School has over the years become the Army’s nodal agency for “specialised training and dissemination of doctrines” in high-altitude, mountain and snow warfare.

According to HAWS instructor Major S.S Negi, the museum was established to commemorate 1997’s first summit of Indian Army to Kanchenjunga.

Thereafter, other expeditions like first successful Everest expedition of 2001 were given a due place in the museum.

“In this portion of the museum, we have got two sand models which are related to the Kanchenjunga museum of 1977 and 2001 Everest expedition. Thereafter second position is dedicated to the equipment which is being used presently and which was used earlier by the mountaineering fraternity of Indian Army,” said Major S.S Negi.

The High Altitude Warfare School housing Kanchenjunga Museum draws young breed of soldiers, who are eager to see the equipments used by Indian army in high altitude warfare including Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield in the earlier days.

The soldiers undergoing training at the school are fascinated having watched some of the age-old equipments and the eminent mountaineers who used them.

“When I first visited this museum in 1998, I learnt the history about which I never had any idea. A thought came to my mind that what I could do for this history. During that procedure, I did a mountaineering course in 2001. I learnt about all the mountaineering equipments. I also came to know about all the eminent expedition mountaineers of India,” said Karma Singh, an Indian Army soldier.

The High-Altitude Warfare School was initially set up at Gulmarg, as a Formation Sickly School. The training imparted consisted mainly of skiing techniques, mountain lore and patrolling on skis.

On April 8, 1962, the School was designated a Category A Training establishment and renamed High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS).

The training instils confidence and stamina. The men are taught to integrate with the environment so that they can guard the Himalayan frontiers effectively. By Bilal Butt (ANI)

Army sets sail for Olympics 2012

By: Shashank Rao

Date: 2009-05-24

A GOLD medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics has surely lifted spirits for many, including those in the Indian Army.

Some of the army men representing India in the sailing competition at the London Olympics 2012 have already started practising and will continue to do so, even in rough seas.

Practice sessions

The men start their training right from 6 am to hone their skills. "The boys will also sail during monsoon when seas are rough and other boats would have been cleared," said an army officer. These sailors are practising on sailboats wearing gear and suits used in the Olympics.

However, a major hindrance is the lack of facilities. During a media meet, Major General Rajesh Singh, General Officer Commanding, Bison Division, asked one of trainers why our sailors are not able to win medals, even though they put in the effort. "The players are being trained to meet international levels. But we need to maintain facilities provided at international level," replied the officer training the men.

Even the Indian Navy has separate training for sailors. Selection of the sailors for the Olympics will depend on the competitiveness among the forces. Teams are usually selected couple of months prior to the event.

Meanwhile, a group of 16 army subedars went on a sailing expedition on two sailboats to Lakshwadeep, covering nearly 1,200 nautical miles. The motive was to understand maritime difficulties, apart from ecological concerns.

It tested the physical and mental strength of the sailors who had to cook food, carry fresh water and sail using just a GPS compass, apart from sailing day and night without a break.

Subedar Arun Badshah, Madras regiment, who was part of the expedition, said, "The major problems were rains and 10 metre high waves. We had to remain awake even during the night to steer the sailboat." Both sailboats miraculously escaped accidents when they mistook the lights of a ship for a fishing boat, until they were just 10 metres away.

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1 comment:

  1. Mr Chako
    You missed the 13'th question.Are the Indian Armed Forces in current state of demoralisation(done by Chinese thru Pak ISI & its Moles in indian beurocracy)capable of countering the likely PLA onslought thru Nepal & other borders.Ans---Big NO



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