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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

From Today's Papers - 15 Jul 09

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Colours of India in France
Maratha Light Infantry soldiers march down Champs Elysees on French National Day
Anita Katyal writes from Paris

India made an impressive splash on the Champs Elysees in Paris at the French Bastille Day military parade on Tuesday.

As a 400-strong contingent of the Indian Armed Forces marched in step with the French soldiers on what Parisians describe as the “most beautiful avenue in the world”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was present to applaud their efforts as the guest of honour at the French National Day celebrations - the first foreign leader to be accorded the honour.

German President Horst Koehler and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen were also invited to review the military parade. French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade last year.

Sarkozy ‘s visit to India, followed closely by the Indian presence at the Bastille Day celebrations today, is seen as a reflection of the deepening bilateral relations between New Delhi and Paris.

The close friendship between President Sarkozy and Manmohan Singh was quite evident as the French President greeted the Indian leaders with open arms.

The two then took seats next to each other to watch the parade. But nobody could ignore the presence of French First Lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy, who was seated alongside Gursharan Kaur, wife of the Indian PM, in the first row.

The parade opened with a fly-past by nearly a 100 French aircraft, including the Rafale Fighter planes that dispersed the skies with red, blue and white vapour, representing the colours of the French flag.

This was followed by the parade led by the Indian contingent, commanded by Air Commodore RK Mathur, comprising marching columns and military bands from the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The sounds of Indian martial music and Iqbal’s uplifting score “Saare jahaan se achcha” filled the summer air while soldiers from the Maratha Light Infantry, with their red and black headgear, proved to be virtual showstoppers.

Smartly attired personnel from the French armed forces followed the Indian contingent till the Arc de Triomphe. It is on July 14 that France celebrates the beginning of its revolution more than 200 years ago with the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789.

According to the French ambassador to India Jerome Bonnafont, participation of Indian soldiers in the French National Day parade marked the commemoration of their participation “on our side and in our territory during the two world wars.”

The parade, reminiscent of India’s Republic Day celebrations, was watched by thousands of spectators who had spent the previous night partying and showed no intention of winding up till late in the night. But it was not just party time for Prime Minister Singh, who also managed to squeeze in some serious business in between the celebrations. President Sarkozy hosted a lunch for the guest of honour where the two leaders went through a plateful of issues that dominate and define the close partnership between India and France.

Pradeep Kumar is new defence secretary

The government has approved the appointment of Pradeep Kumar as defence secretary. Pradeep Kumar is an IAS officer of the 1972 batch. He currently serves as secretary, defence production..

CJ: abhishekb ,

Tue, Jul 14, 2009 14:08:30 IST





Central Government :

Some thoughts on the UID Project

THE UNION cabinet has approved the appointment of Pradeep Kumar as defence secretary. Pradeep Kumar is an IAS officer of 1972 batch. He will take over from Vijay Singh, who is due to retire on July 31, 2009. Pradeep Kumar who currently serves as secretary, defence production, will have a tenure of two years from the date of taking charge.

A Haryana cadre officer, Kumar belongs to the 1972 batch of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). He has held many important positions in Haryana and in the government of India.

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The new defence secretary is an electrical engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and he has done his post graduation in economics and social studies from the United Kingdom.

In Haryana, Kumar served as principal secretary in a number of important departments and has also served as director of industries. He has served as joint secretary in the department of heavy industry and additional secretary in the coal ministry, and chairman of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

He has also served as director on the board of many public sector units.

'Pakistan building bunkers on border'

Zaffar Iqbal, Tuesday July 14, 2009, Jammu

The BSF says Pakistan is strengthening its defence structures along the international border in the R S Pura sector after the Mumbai terror attack. It's making a bund that could also be used for offensive operations.

The BSF is worried as these structures will impede visibility that includes watching out for infiltrators.

"Pakistan is not only making a bund but it's erecting a number of other defence structures on their side including bunkers, concrete bunkers, observation towers etc. For the last six months work has been stepped up for the construction of these structures after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks," said U K Bansal, Special DG, BSF.

The BSF had built a 200 kilometer long structure along the border to shield Pakistani firing when border fencing work was on. It's being demolished now as it did not allow forces to watch any suspicious move on the other side. But now, Pakistan creating similar structures could pose a security hazard.

"Bund is a type of structure which can provide safety behind it and inside the bund there is a possibility of construction of bunkers and firing positions," put forth U K Bansal.

Infiltration has not completely stopped and now the Bund being constructed on the Pakistani side of the border could hamper the vision and aid the infiltrators even more, something that the BSF cannot afford to take lightly.

US-China strategic and economic dialogue on July 27-28

Press Trust of India / Washington July 14, 2009, 11:35 IST

The first joint meeting of the recently started US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue will be held in Washington from July 27-28.

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The Dialogue will focus on addressing the challenges and opportunities that both countries face on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global areas of immediate and long- term strategic and economic interests, an official release said.

"This first meeting of the Dialogue will also set the stage for intensive, ongoing and future bilateral cooperative mechanisms," said a joint communique issued by the State Department and the Department of Treasury.

While the US side would be represented by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the Chinese delegation would be represented by their State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Vice Premier Wang Qishan.

Why India must gear up for cyber-terrorism

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru

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July 14, 2009

Cyber terrorism is the next big form of terrorism that India is likely to face, says the Intelligence Bureau. Already, the agency has issued numerous warnings on cyber attacks. The first signs of tech-savvy terrorists came to light during the serial blasts that rocked the country a year ago. The question, however, is how geared up are we to face the threat?

Senior police officials told that though there is a lot of work going on in this direction, there is always scope for improvement. But while officers speak of improvement and conducting multiple seminars to counter this future threat, a reality check with some cyber crime wings portrays a poor picture.

When cyber crime cells were set up in the country most cases pertained to sleaze mails. Now the complaints have become more sophisticated and cyber crime officials say that there are, at an average, four complaints of phishing mails that reach them everyday.

The detection rate is not something that one can be proud with only one out of four cases solved. Also miserable is the conviction rate.

Former Karnataka Director General of Police R Srikumar says the cyber ceels need to keep updating and deploy new tactics.

When one talks of cyber crime, the problem is whatever we may do is just not enough. We are good as long as we prevent an attack and we could also say that we are not good enough if we don't prevent one, he said.

The kinds of attacks we can expect:

The immediate threat to India is from our immediate neighbours, Pakistan and China.

According to the IB, China may try and destabilise our economy by launching attacks on our banking sectors. Pakistan, on the other hand, may attack essential commodity-related services instead.

Reports indicate that for a terrorist organisation, the easiest way to launch an attack on India would be through the cyber route. It is high investment, but it saves them the trouble of manpower on the field and the impact such an attack could cause is immense.

IB reports also suggest that terrorist organisations could start an Internet war by hacking into websites and sending out viruses to destabilise the enemy nation. The forms of cyber assaults would include cyber vandalism, destruction of essential commodity-related sites (ESCOMs) and phishing.

The cyber war on India is likely to be fought in three stages. First the enemy would bring down the control systems of defence installations, Parliament, railways and airports. Secondly, they would look to attack financial services such as banks and stock markets. Finally, ESCOMs and other utilities services will be taken over.

Cyber crime experts say this is a dangerous scenario. It will surely create a lot of panic and if they succeed, it could cause a lot of destruction since it would take days before the services actually recover.

Experts also say that although Pakistan-based terrorists will prove lethal, the worst attack could come from China through the use of the Distributed Denial of Services attacks. In a DDOS attack, the bandwidth of a targeted system is flooded. They keep attacking other systems by multiplying and creating a botnet.

India has had its share of such attacks, but they have not been on a large scale as yet. The sector that has been targetted the most through such an attack is the telecom sector, but they have managed to survive it thanks to a strong infrastructure. However, companies have to constantly upgrade to be one up on the enemy.

What India needs to do?

A combined effort is needed to counter the cyber threat, say experts. Also, cyber crime police stations need to be revamped soon. The process is already in motion, says an official in the Bengaluru [Images] cyber crime cell.

According to the official, they had hired around 12 engineers from a reputed IT firm to assist them. However, since they cannot do this all the time, it was decided to recruit professionals.

The latest batch of recruitments in a cyber cell will be computer and law graduates. "We would prefer having this combination since we need someone who has expertise in both computer applications as well as law since both are interlinked," he said.

A new batch of these graduates has arrived and they are been sent to several training programmes the official said, adding that these persons will be appointed on a sub-inspector level.

The Ministry of Finance too has upgraded its infrastructure to prevent cyber strikes. They have introduced a two token system, which mandates that a person carry with him a normal password and also a token that generates pin codes in real time. While logging-in the person will have to apply both.

Sources also point out that in key areas such as defence sectors, the use of a personal laptop has been banned. Only few laptops have been connected to both intranet and Internet.

There is a legal side to the problem too. Experts point out that if India needs to cater to this problem it cannot do so on its own. It will need the help of other countries. However, India is not a signatory to the 45-nation international convention on cyber crimes. Moreover, India still awaits a legal framework on cyber attacks.

Private sector can bid for role in Rs5,000 crore defence project

It would be the biggest military project till date to be opened to private firms

K. Raghu

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Bangalore: India has decided to let local private firms bid for a $1 billion (Rs4,880 crore) project to modernize the army’s tactical communications system, according to three people familiar with the development.

If the proposal is carried through, it would be the biggest military project till date that would be thrown open to domestic private companies.

Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, defence subsidiary of the Tata group, and Roltas Thales Ltd, a joint venture of Roltas India Ltd and France’s Thales group, have expressed interest in bidding for the project.

India’s defence acquisition council, the key sanctioning authority for large military projects, in June cleared a proposal allowing local private firms to compete with state-owned ones for the communications system, a defence ministry official said.

All three people with knowledge of the proposal spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitive nature of the development.

The system, conceived in the 1990s, is aimed at equipping the defence forces for network-centric warfare in which ground troops are connected with the air force and navy through a satellite-linked, secure and integrated voice, data and video communications system.

The decision to involve local private companies in a project of this size came after the ministry in September introduced a new procurement policy that put the thrust on building domestic technology to reduce dependence on foreign firms for large military projects. It would take at least three years for the project to be awarded to a bidder, the official said.

The army will seek expressions of interest from private firms after an integrated project management team lays down specifications for the system, another official in the ministry said.

The suppliers would have to then submit a pilot project, followed by technical and commercial bids, the second official said.

“The defence ministry has recognized that the domestic industry has come of age,” said Ratan Shrivastava, director, aerospace and defence, at consulting firm Frost and Sullivan.

According to an earlier policy, the army was authorized to buy the tactical system from a foreign firm and then have local companies build subsequent versions. This was followed with a second suggestion that leant in favour of state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd, the only company equipped for such a project. Roltas Thales and Bharat Electronics said they are yet to receive any notice from the ministry about a policy change.

Ashok Kumar Gakhar, project director, Roltas Thales, said it would bid, but source the technology from Thales and customize it for the army.

Tata Advanced Systems did not respond to emails and phone calls. The Tata group had in February 2008 unveiled plans to team up with the defence and security division of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. NV to bid for the communications project.

Of the total capital outlay of Rs54,824 crore for defence in the 2009 Budget, the army has been sanctioned Rs11,121 crore for its ongoing modernization programme such as tactical communications and unmanned aerial vehicle projects, according to Frost and Sullivan. The government increased defence allocation by 34% to Rs1.41 trillion over the previous fiscal year.

Over 500 cases reported in 3 years: Antony

NEW DELHI: More than 500 cases of suicide and fratricide have been reported in Indian armed forces during the last three years, KT News Service quoted Indian Defence

Replying to a question in Lok Sabha, Antony said steps had been taken to check the rise in such incidents. He said 495 personnel had committed suicide and 25 had been killed by their colleagues since 2006. The Indian Army was the worst sufferer, reporting 412 suicides, followed by the air force (76) and the navy (7). Forty-one army officials have committed suicide in the last six months, he said.

The defence minister said a proactive approach through better man-management techniques was being adopted at different levels to check this trend. “Measures such as identifying high-risk categories, increasing inter-personnel relationship and communication among officers, arranging lectures and workshops on stress management, counselling by professionals, establishing a helpline and redressing officials’ grievances have been taken to prevent such incidents,” he added. staff report\07\14\story_14-7-2009_pg7_34

Capt Poonam files appeal

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Express News Service Tags : chandigarh, courts Posted: Monday , Jul 13, 2009 at 0329 hrs Patiala:

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Sacked for levelling ‘false allegations of sexual harassment against her seniors’, officer seeks suspension of sentence

A day after a General Court Martial (GCM) in Patiala sacked Capt Poonam Kaur from the Indian Army for levelling false allegations of sexual harassment against her seniors, her counsel today filed a ‘pre-confirmation’ appeal with the Army Headquarters (HQ) seeking a suspension of the sentence.

Defence counsel Lt Col B L Bhardwaj and Capt Sant Singh Mangat said Capt Kaur had sought a suspension of the sentence granted by the GCM till her appeal has been heard by the Army Headquarters. They added that the appeal also includes a request for the reduction of the sentence, as Kaur has already been exonerated of three main charges by the GCM.

In addition, the counsel sought a fresh hearing for Capt Kaur, saying ‘complete evidence’ should be taken into consideration before the awarding of any sentence.

Capt Kaur’s parents, father Sukhwinder Singh and mother Hardev Kaur, meanwhile, met her today. And while they refused to talk to the media, they consoled their daughter, who has reportedly been in a state of trauma and stress ever since the GCM sentence on Friday.e Minister AK Antony as saying on Monday.

Fauji golf
by Rajnish Wattas

The burra Sahib had just teed off from the enchanting meadows of the fauji golf club nestling in the foothills. The sun was shining at the lush fairways that unfold as God’s own playground; birds were chirping on the lofty silver oaks and all was well in heaven. Then suddenly dark clouds gathered — and before one knew there was a deafening ‘boom,’ clap of the thunder and lightning; and the gods seemed angry!

A hasty retreat from the daunting frontiers of the ‘environment and training park’ i.e. golf course was made in the ‘electric multiutility vehicle’ with the caddies following in a TARV (track alignment and reconnaissance vehicle). Safely ensconced in the club house, overlooking the panoramic park, the combatants settled down for a tot of garam chai. And there were the killjoy, morning newspapers screaming about some nosey audit report making a big bogie out of a little toy i.e. golf cart.

“Koi hai,” hollered the angry sahib and ordered a stiff double of a spirited health drink instead of the tepid tea. The zing had gone out of ‘tea-time’ and it was time to get into the war room to strategise, getting out of the nasty bunker, that the joyous morning game had landed into. After all what’s a golf set—but in a sense, sporting combat equipment; with the ‘driver’ as the Brahmastra or a rocket launcher, the fairway woods as the artillery, the irons as the armoured carriers and the wedges as the foot soldiers for close encounters. If only the crusty, old bookkeeping accountants had some sporting blood!

The recent hullabaloo over the purchase of a few golf carts reminds me of the usual cover-up of small indulgences with imaginative euphemisms in the civilian world also. At most farewell parties to the ‘worthy’ senior officers, the host department bills the liquor served as some mystic ‘special beverages’. Airconditioners for officers, not entitled for the facility, were generally purchased with the justification of keeping the photocopiers cool!

Once a scruffy audit officer objected to a small payment made to a snake-charmer during the monsoons, to hunt down a menacing snake that had got inside the office premises, writing in a note that no quotations had been called! Stung by such hidden fangs I was left full of venom. But a seasoned old babu asked me to relax and leave the matter to him.

Next day when the ‘paragon of procedures’ stepped into his room, a big scream was heard! It was reported that the serpent had reared his head again; and this time coiled on the worthies’ own chair! We had won the snakes and ladders game. Golf is a gentlemen’s game. Let’s not grudge our valiant soldiers their little amusements. It’s because of them that we sleep well.

Defence budget
The hike is not as big as it appears
by Air Marshal R.S. Bedi

The Finance Minister, while presenting the budget on July 6, was ingenious enough to allude to being sensitive to the requirements of almost all important sectors, including defence. That’s why people were not able to react immediately either in favour or against the budget put up by the astute minister.

But the reality will dawn only when the process of implementation begins soon. The FM’s clever statement in regard to one rank, one pension (OROP) for ex-servicemen also had this clan go into a tizzy only to realise later that it was nothing more than a mere sop and nowhere near what is commonly understood as OR,OP. Besides, it did not include the officer cadre. The Finance Minister enhanced the budgetary allocation for defence by Rs,36,103 crore from last year’s allocation of Rs, 1,05,600 crore to Rs 1, 41,703 crore this year.

This works out to a big hike of 34 percent over the previous fiscal. Since the past allocations, after neutralising prevalent inflation, have been just about enough to sustain the armed forces at their current levels without reckonable modernisation, the 34 percent hike when compared to previous years, particularly last year’s hike of mere 10 percent, seemed a big jump. This coupled with an increase of Rs 13,279 crore in revenue and Rs 13,824 crore in capital expenditure resulted in a certain amount of euphoria.

The Finance Minister was constrained to hike the budget substantially for reasons not necessarily confined to modernisation. Out of this total allocation, substantial chunks of Rs 833 crore and Rs 4,458 crore will go for ordanance factories and research and development respectively, leaving the balance about 95 percent or so for not only the army, the navy and the air force but also for the coast guard, which has its own wish list of fast patrol craft and helicopters for the surveillance of India’s long coast line. How much will be needed for the newly created coastal command responsible for maritime security under the navy is not hard to contemplate.

The outstanding demands of the armed forces in regard to their long-term re-equipment plans, modernisation of obsolescent weapon systems, maintenance spares and a vast variety of weapons like bombs, rockets, ammo and missiles have to be catered for. In fact, the armed forces have been waiting for decades for their long-projected weapon systems like guns, armoured vehicles, fighter aircraft, helicopters, radars, missiles and submarines.

The government should now get on the task of speeding up the acquisition process so that the services get the equipment without the ministry surrendering the funds as hitherto. Normally, by the time, the services begin to receive these weapon systems after protracted negotiations that run into years, they begin to become obsolescent. The British Hawks are one such example.

The MOD has been surrendering vast amounts out of the capital outlays almost every year. Last year the MOD surrendered over Rs 7,007 crore. It surrendered almost similar amounts in the preceding two years also. And this is when the armed forces have been crying for help all through. The unspent money, which has become a regular feature with the MOD, could perhaps be carried forward to the next year since the arms deals certainly cannot be concluded within the same financial year.

With this in mind the NDA government had at one time created a fund to the tune of Rs 25,000 crore or so which was unfortunately undone by the next government later. Besides, large-scale corruption arising out of political parties’ penchant for a share in defence deals in addition to others’ share in the cake only adds to the delays, besides being a blot on the Indian democracy.

Every arms deal is dogged by allegations of kickback. The delay thus caused affects the armed forces’ potential adversely and also often leads to surrendering the funds. A major chunk of the budget hike will also be absorbed by the commitments made by the government in the 6th Central Pay Commission. As it is, more than 60 percent of the revenue expenditure goes towards the salaries of personnel.

Viewed against the long outstanding wish list of the three services and the enhanced salaries consequent to the 6th CPC award and the fact that this so-called big increase is only around 2 percent of our national GDP, there is still sufficient scope for further enhancement, particularly in the light of today’s security environment. Starving the forces of funds year after year, for whatever reason, has only led to the list of weapons required becoming longer and longer.

As against this, both China and Pakistan, arming themselves to the teeth, spend 7 and 5 percent respectively of their GDPs every year on their armed forces. Besides, both countries are known to hide their defence spending by allocating funds under different heads and ministries. Despite under reporting, China’s officially declared defence budget for the year 2009 stands at $70 bn as against India’s mere $27 billion. In fact, China’s defence spending has been growing by double digit for the last 20 years or so which has enabled the PLA to modernise its army, navy and air force significantly. China’s white paper on defence for the year 2009 leaves no doubt as regards its intent or the mounting military capabilities.

Why are we unduly conscious of others’ sensibilities and keep our armed forces perpetually starved of funds? Our military potential has been progressively going down and at a time when there is a compulsion to combat the deteriorating internal and external security environment. Beijing’s continued ingress in India’s neighbourhood, particularly its unceasing collaboration with Pakistan, is a cause of serious concern. Piecemeal reactive measures, as are now being taken in the eastern sector, do not reflect any vision or long-term defence policy.

Unlike China that comes out with a White Paper on National Defence every alternate year, the Indian government has scrupulously avoided any such exercise. Our security depends upon the extent of clamour for the arousal of the politico-bureaucratic combine by the armed forces. We are too lackadaisical about matters of security. Are we too dependent on the valour of our young officers and the rural soldiers who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the national cause?

Human resources, however, can never replace the hardware. We sent our soldiers to fight the Chinese in the high Himalayas in canvas shoes and without adequate clothing. We did exactly that again 37 years later in Kargil. Our security continues to remain in dire straits. The continued paucity of funds only makes the weapons list longer, requiring more and more funds. The 34 percent hike may seem huge when compared to the past, but it stands fully committed against the equally huge list of pending jobs with the government.

The writer is a former Director General, Defence Planning Staff

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