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Friday, 5 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 05 Jun 09

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Finally, Russia agrees to lower price of warship
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 4
India and Russia have crucially inched forward to resolve the long-pending and touchy issue of the much delayed aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. The two countries are all set to meet mid-way in terms of price negotiations. The Russians have indicated that the price could be lowered from its demand to accommodate India.

The price is to be lowered than the existing demand of $ 2.9 billion, said well placed sources while adding the final price will be placed before the Cabinet by July 15. The countries will sign a fresh inter-governmental agreement on the warship. The deal for 45,000 tonne Kiev class Gorshkov, to be inducted in the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya, was signed in 2004 for approximately $948 million.

The Russians hiked the price to $ 2.2 billion. This was later hiked to $ 2.9 billion forcing the UPA combine to set-up a committee to negotiate what it felt was an “unreasonable” demand. The tension had cast a shadow on the long-standing Indo-Russia military ties. Sources said the Russians had now agreed to revise the cost and lower the price.

Last week, India released an additional $ 102 million taking up the payments made so far to $ 602 million The delivery of the ship is expected in December 2012 will be adhered too while adding that the ship is already afloat and it is no more parked in the dry dock.

A high-level Indian team was in Russia last week to break the deadlock over the cost escalation of the aircraft carrier, it returned last night. The basic training for the first batch of the Indian Navy pilots for MiG-29 aircrafts, which will be operated from the deck of Gorshkov has been completed.

The decision on the purchase of more MiG-29 aircrafts will be taken following the approval of the Cabinet.

A senior functionary requesting anonymity said “Gorshkov is by far the most problematic of the deals with Russia”. The aircraft carrier is crucial for India that is projecting itself as a powerful navy. It’s only such carrier, the INS Viraat, is under going a re-fit while another one is under construction. For Russia it is important to show that it can still built such warships. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the ship building capacity was lost as it was located in Ukraine.

Separately, the Indian team also made headway in supply of T-90 tanks. The Russians will supply 50 kits this year. Last year, no tanks were produced and this move would mean a resolution of the stalemate with Russia over transfer of technology. Defence minister AK Antony had expressed anxiety at delays in supply.

China to help rebuild Lankan economy after LTTE war

TV Sriram/PTI / Colombo June 4, 2009, 15:39 IST

As Sri Lanka works out ways to accelerate development after defeating the rebel LTTE, China has pledged its full cooperation in reconstruction of the Island nation's economy after 30 years of ethnic war.

"Prevalence of peace will strengthen the economy of Sri Lanka and China will continue to be a part of the economic reconstruction of the Island country," Deputy Director General of the Asian Affairs, Commerce Ministry, China Liang Wentao said.

"Ending the war against terrorism might help Sri Lanka to regain its ancient glory and economic prosperity," Wentao told reporters in Beijing yesterday.

"What Sri Lanka needs at this moment is a peaceful environment to rebuild its economy and this will attract more investments and economic benefits to the country.

"Sri Lanka has the best natural resources in the entire South Asian region. Reviving tourism and the export trade will help Sri Lanka rebuild its economy which was affected severely due to the war," Wentao said.

He said China will provide assistance to the Sri Lankan Government to rebuild and rehabilitate those affected. The top Chinese official said the two countries could work towards economic as well as cooperation in tourism.

"The strategic location and Buddhism will attract more Chinese tourists to Sri Lanka," he said.

Rubber, tobacco and fish products are the major exports to China from Sri Lanka.

"Diversifying of the economy will open new avenues for Sri Lankan products to enter the Chinese market," the state run Daily News quoted Wentao as saying.

Sri Lanka has invited Chinese investments to the country by taking advantage of the conducive conditions for setting up projects. China had invested in the Southern Hambantota new Port Complex, the Norochcholai (North-west Sri Lanka ) coal-fired power generation plant and the Performing Arts Centre in Colombo, among other areas, in Sri Lanka.

Tourist arrivals from China to Sri Lanka is estimated to have grown by 7.3 per cent during the first half of 2008.

On the export front, Sri Lankan tea is performing exceptionally well in the Chinese market and has achieved a remarkable growth of more than 65 per cent during first few months of 2008 over export figures for 2007, an official said.

Govt to resolve one-rank-one-pension issue by June end: Prez

Press Trust of India / New Delhi June 4, 2009, 12:29 IST

The government today said it would seek to resolve the 'one rank-one pension' issue of ex-servicemen by this month-end and that a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary was already looking into it.

President Pratibha Patil, in her address to the joint sitting of Parliament, said the committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar, "has already commenced its work and expects to complete it by the end of June 2009."

She also said the welfare of ex-servicemen would continue to be accorded high priority by the government.

As Lok Sabha polls were in progress, the government had on May 4 announced the formation of the committee, but later backtracked before the Election Commission after it was slapped a notice accusing it of violating the model code of conduct.

Promising that the armed forces would be fully enabled with modern technology to repel any threat from land, sea or air, Patil said,"To enhance combat efficiency, as also to address the requirements of modern day warfare, a number of steps are under way."

India pays millions more for Russian warship


SHIP THAT COSTS A TONNE: Aircraft carrier 'Gorshkov' was to be given to Indian Navy in 2004.

New Delhi: India has given an additional $102 million to Russia for the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov ahead of fresh negotiations before July end between the two countries on the final purchase price of the warship, a senior official said on Thursday.

An Indian team was in Russia last week to break the deadlock over the cost escalation of the aircraft carrier.

"Gorshkov by far is the most problematic of the deals with Russia. But by July 15 we will work out the scope of trials and a firm cost based on which a fresh contract will be signed. We are insisting and hopeful that the platform will be delivered by the end of 2012," a senior defence ministry official said requesting anonymity.

"In the last one-and-a-half years they have done a lot of work on the aircraft carrier and we have also released $102 million last week," he added.

The deal for 45,000-tonne Kiev class Gorshkov, to be inducted in the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya, was signed in 2004 for approximately $948 million. However, the project hit the headlines in 2007 as the delivery date was pushed back and the Russians increased the price.

With the latest installment of payment, India has paid nearly $602 million to Moscow so far for the refurbishment of the Gorshkov, an aircraft carrier which has not been seaworthy after 1988. According to the official, Gorshkov, currently undergoing refit at Sevmash shipyard in Russia, is floating and will be towed into the sea by the year end.

According to the senior officials involved in the negotiations with Russia, the quoted price of the aircraft carrier has fluctuated between $2.2 billion and $2.9 billion and Moscow may come around to the lower price to accommodate New Delhi.

The two sides have been carrying on negotiations on the price issue for over a year with India not keen to pay what it considers unreasonable escalation that has nearly doubled the cost of the aircraft carrier.

The dramatic cost escalation has threatened to cast a shadow on the long-standing defence ties between India and Russia.

Besides this the basic training for the first batch of the Indian Navy pilots for MiG-29 aircrafts which will be operated from the deck of Gorshkov has been completed.

"The basic training of the first batch of the Indian Navy pilots has been completed. The second batch will undergo training from September," the official added.

The decision on the purchase of more MiG-29 aircrafts will be taken following the approval of the cabinet.

‘Prabhakaran orchestrated his own downfall’

Express News Service Posted online: Friday , Jun 05, 2009 at 0211 hrs

Chandigarh : When the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) returned from Sri Lanka in 1989, their campaign in the Island Country was dubbed as “India’s Vietnam”. The same LTTE that proved to be the bĂȘte noire for the Indian Army, has now been decimated by the Sri Lankan Army. The two diametrically opposite achievements make it, but natural, for questions to arise.

At the strategic level, the Indian Army was fighting someone else’s war. The Indian political leadership did not display the maturity expected of them in such circumstances. It (India) tried to act like a regional power without political will, unity of purpose, military might and economic strength, all of which was needed for such a mighty venture.

Sent on a policing mission, the Indian Army ended up fighting a guerilla war. The naive rhetoric, “LTTE will be brought down to its knees in three days”, showed how a young Prime Minister was misled by his advisors. Mid way through the campaign, the government in Tamil Nadu changed and the Centre was not sure of its support. Under such circumstances, the operations were doomed to fail from the inception stage itself. Indian intelligence agencies like the RAW also failed to deliver. The Army commanders were never given a free licence as it always had to be ‘orders from Delhi’.

Compare it to the way the Rajapaksha Government went about its task. Its diplomatic moves to get the LTTE declared as a “terrorist group”, lobbying in the UN to get Russian and Chinese support against the LTTE, use of its full military might and a determined leadership with the president, defence minister and military chief all working in unison —- the country displayed the political will and sagacity needed to succeed in such operations.

The Sri Lankan intelligence agencies were also able to engineer a split within the LTTE. With Colonel Karuna defected from the LTTE, the latter not only lost control over the Eastern Province but also the manpower for its operations in the region.

When the IPKF went in for operations, the LTTE was in full control of the northern and eastern parts of the island. In addition, it (LTTE) also had the support of the local population. However, once the Indian Army wrested control over the Jaffna peninsula, the LTTE retreated to the jungles and resorted to guerilla warfare.

The withdrawal of the IPKF, following the death of over 1,200 of its brave soldiers, convinced Prabhakaran that he was invincible. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi also resulted in loss of sympathy for the LTTE among the Indian Tamils.

Prabhakaran committed his biggest blunder in 2007, when he switched mode from conventional warfare to guerilla warfare. He did not realise that his group would be unable to withstand the onslaught of a well-organised Sri Lankan Army.

In a way, Prabhakaran orchestrated his own downfall.

Let us pray for the brave soldiers of the Indian Army who had laid down their lives for a war that India could have very well avoided.

— Brig R S Grewal (Retd)

Russia yields after Antony burst


New Delhi, June 4: Upset with an India that is increasingly turning westwards to source its military hardware, Russia has promised to scale down the prices it has demanded and has come up with assurances of steadier supplies.

Indian defence secretary Vijay Singh returned this morning from Moscow where he led a team of officials to a meeting of the India-Russia High-Level Monitoring Committee. The Russian side was led by the Director-General of Military Services, Dimitriev.

Russia is by far the largest supplier of military equipment to India, and nearly 65 per cent of the Indian armed forces’ hardware is of Russian or Soviet origin. Annual military purchases from Russia total between Rs 15,000 crore and Rs 20,000 crore. India is Russia’s largest buyer.

The Russian assurances come after an outburst by defence minister A.K. Antony last week at a public ceremony in the presence of the Russian ambassador. The defence minister expressed his “anguish” at the frequent delays in the delivery of hardware.

“There is now an awareness in Russian industry of the competition they have to face (in India),” a senior defence ministry official said here today. He said there was an acknowledgement in the discussions that there were “bottlenecks and delays”.

Russia indicated that it was willing to look at a downward revision of the price that it had demanded for the aircraft carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov.

Russia had demanded an additional $2 billion for refurbishing the carrier after the vessel was contracted by India in 2004 for $964 million. India was willing to pay a total of $2.2 billion but Moscow kept insisting on a total of $ 2.9 billion.

In the latest round of meetings, however, Moscow has indicated it is willing to compromise, senior officials said. A firm price will be contracted again by July.

Last week, India paid up another $102 million for the carrier. So far, it has paid a total of $602 million.

The delivery of the carrier, being negotiated since 1997, has also been delayed. “It is floating,” an official said, to indicate that work has progressed enough. The carrier is not likely to be with the Indian Navy before the end of 2012.

The Russians were upset that the Indian Air Force had chosen Airbus’s MRTT refueller aircraft over the Russian IL-78, the senior official said. The Indian government has not yet decided the choice of refueller.

The IAF’s mid-air refueller squadron is currently made up of Russian IL-78 aircraft but air headquarters has preferred the Airbus in trials.

“Whatever decision is taken (on which refueller to buy) will be taken on sound commercial and technical grounds,” the senior defence official said. To override the Indian Air Force’s choice, however, would be difficult.

The official said the talks related to product support, supply of spares for old equipment, upgrade of MiG-29s with the IAF and transfer of technology for the T-90 tanks for the Indian Army.

Indian Army Reacts to the Taliban Threat

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 15

June 4, 2009 12:16 PM Age: 8 hrs

Category: Terrorism Monitor, Global Terrorism Analysis, Home Page, Military/Security, South Asia

By: Animesh Roul

General Deepak Kapoor, Indian Army

For India’s military, the Taliban is a threat looming large on the horizon. The perception of the Taliban making inroads to India has increased since December 2008, when Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mahsud vowed to fight alongside the Pakistan army if a conflict broke out between India and Pakistan (The News [Islamabad], December 23, 2008; see Terrorism Focus, December 12, 2008). The verbal threat has since been underlined by the Taliban’s eastward movement inside Pakistan, from its bases in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) to the city of Lahore, close to the Indian border in Pakistan’s Punjab province (India has its own, smaller Punjab province on the other side of the boundary). The advance on Lahore was marked initially by the Manawan police academy siege just outside of Lahore on March 30, in which 8 policemen were killed and 95 wounded, and more recently by the May 27 suicide bombing of the Lahore headquarters of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (The News, May 28; Geo News, May 28). Manawan is strikingly close to the international border with India; hence the fear of the Taliban reaching India through the Wagah border drew enormous public and military attention at the time. These fears are now reinforced by the Taliban bombing in Lahore.

Particularly worrisome were the conversations intercepted by India’s intelligence services between Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in Jammu and Kashmir that gave hints of a Taliban presence inside Kashmir. [1] TTP spokesman Muslim Khan refuted the reports but said if the Taliban ever decided to fight the Indians in Kashmir, no power on earth could stop them (Greater Kashmir, April 20).

Amidst these developments, speculations are rife about the possible impact of the Taliban’s growing strength on India’s security. Fears are being expressed by political and military elites about a potential Taliban incursion into Indian territory in the near future. Similarly, anxiety over a “nuclear-armed Taliban” in the event it takes over Pakistan’s nuclear installations and missile arsenal also dominates the security discourse in India. Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor has expressed his concerns with the growing number of warheads being developed by Pakistan: "Even if Pakistan is looking at deterrence, they require a minimum amount. But when you keep increasing [the number of warheads], it is a matter of concern....I think the world community should put the kind of pressure that is required for Pakistan to cap their nuclear weapons” (, May 29).

The issue of the Taliban turned political in the recent parliamentary elections in India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh drew attention to the possibility of a Taliban attack during the elections. He was overtly critical of Pakistan’s peace deal with the Taliban in Swat in light of recent military aid to Pakistan. According to Singh, New Delhi has no problems with economic aid for building schools, roads and hospitals in Pakistan, but is concerned with military aid that has been used against India in the past (Indo Asian News Service, April 20). The opposition right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called the Taliban’s advance in Pakistan a threat to India’s national security, calling for better counterterrorism mechanisms to be put in place (Indo Asian News Service, April 25).

At the time of the Manawan police academy siege by Taliban militants, the Indian army second-in-command, Lieutenant General Noble Thamburaj, responded to the threat cautiously, though asserting that the army would thwart any jihadi spill-over (Times of India, March 31). General Deepak Kapoor denounced the impending threat of the Taliban and noted that any attempt by terrorists to infiltrate the border would be met by a three-tier defensive system (, January 31; Indo-Asian News Service, April 14, NDTV India, April 14).

With over 1 million active-service personnel and 1.8 million reserves, the Indian Army has 13 corps organized under six operational commands and one training command. Of these, eight corps and three commands (Western, Northern and South-Western) are specifically dedicated to countering the Pakistani military (Daily Times, Lahore, May 27).

Any Indian military response to a Taliban threat from Pakistan would take place within the context of India’s “Cold Start” military doctrine, implemented in early 2004. By creating eight Integrated Battle Groups deployed close to the border, “Cold Start” significantly decreases the mobilization time needed by full strike corps while providing for rapid pursuit of enemy forces and penetration of enemy territory without the old emphasis on holding ground (Daily Times, May 27). By design, penetration efforts would be shallow in depth in order to avoid crossing various “nuclear-response red-lines” set by Islamabad. Indian Army operations would be closely supported by the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy where possible (Friday Times [Lahore], December 19-25, 2008).

The “Cold Start” doctrine was devised in response to the slow mobilization of the Indian Army and the hesitation of its command structure in “Operation Parakram” (Operation Victory), the Indian Army’s reaction to the December 2001 attack by Pakistani militants on the Parliament buildings in New Delhi. In short, the Indian plan “seems to be aimed at inflicting significant military reverses on the Pakistan Army in a limited war scenario short of a nuclear war”. [2]

In the midst of India’s Taliban anxiety, former Chief of Army Staff Shankar Roychowdhury wrote a column in a leading daily urging India to “recognize the Taliban threat” as far as India’s national security is concerned but cautioned India’s leaders and media “not to hype it” beyond a certain point (Asian Age, May 5). He warned that the Taliban could create an “existential threat” to India if they succeeded in seizing power in Pakistan through a radicalized government under their control. He also noted the threat of “nuclearization of jihad” in this scenario cannot be ignored and demands serious attention from the security establishment.

Brahma Singh, a retired Army officer and commentator claimed that the Taliban is the real threat to India, urging the security establishment and the political leadership to “recognize the inevitability of a confrontation with the state-sponsored Taliban sooner rather than later” (MeriNews, May 8).

Following the Manawan incident, reports from border areas of Indian Punjab indicated that civilians had begun to feel insecure following the Taliban’s advance into that region. There are growing fears that Punjab’s own jihadi groups are now aiding the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in carrying out bombings and other operations close to the Indian border in Pakistani Punjab (Dawn [Karachi], May 24). Recognizing the people’s apprehensions about the geographical spread and the emergence of the Taliban forces as a grave security threat, the Indian military has just finished an exercise code named Hind Shakti to check the operational readiness of its elite Kharga Corps in southwest Punjab (India Today, May 6).

The Ambala-based II “Kharga” Corps is one of the Indian Army’s two designated “strike corps.” It consists of two infantry divisions (including one Reorganized Army Plains Infantry Division - RAPID), a division and independent brigade of armor and a brigade of engineers.

Hind Shakti was a three-day exercise carried out in the Punjab plains (about 100 km from the Pakistan border) beginning on May 3. It involved India’s “premier corps” conducting what the Indian Army described as a “blitzkrieg type armored incursion, emphasizing rapid penetration into enemy territory.” The exercise included “intensive electronic and information warfare” and the coordinated use of a wide variety of intelligence and surveillance equipment, including satellites, helicopter-borne systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and ground-based surveillance systems. The exercise began with a massed mechanized attack, followed by a parachute drop by airborne troops and the insertion of assault troops by helicopter (Indian Ministry of Defence, Press Information Bureau, Statements of May 3; May 6).

The three day operational exercise at the Indo-Pakistan border was aimed at any Taliban or al-Qaeda threat emanating from Pakistan as well as serving as a confidence-building measure for a worried population.[tt_news]=35079&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=3714d6c266

First 50 T-90 tanks to roll out of Indian factory


June 4th, 2009

NEW DELHI - After a hiatus of one year, 50 T-90 tanks will roll out of an Indian factory under licensed production following the resolution of the stalemate with Russia over transfer of technology.

After the anguish expressed by the Indian establishment over the delay in the execution of various defence deals, including the T-90 tanks, Russia has reassured India that the delivery will follow the time schedule.

“We have repeatedly emphasised the timely delivery of the procured items. They (Russian officials) have reassured that supply of T-90s will remain on schedule. First 50 T-90s will roll out soon,” a defence official said.

Delays in the manufacturing of the indigenous Arjun main battle tank and Pakistan’s decision to purchase the T-80 from Ukraine prompted India to order 310 T-90s in 2001. Of these, 186 were assembled from kits at the Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi, near Chennai.

An agreement was also signed for the licensed production of another 1,000 T-90s. This, however, is yet to commence due to Russia’s reluctance to transfer technology, prompting India to purchase another 300 tanks from Russia last year.

However, the localised production of the tanks had not begun till 2008.

“Last year, we did not make a single tank. At least, a beginning has been made,” the official said.

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