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Friday, 17 July 2009

From Today's Papers - 17 Jul 09

Indian Express

Indian Express


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Real heroes of India: Forgone and forgotten?

The issue of barbaric treatment to the Prisoners of War by Pakistan was supposed to be taken to the international stage but it actually ended as just another promise made by our government. This shows how easily we forget our heroes..

The armed forces remain short changed

A DECADE ago, Indian Armed Forces fought one of the toughest battles in Kargil against Pakistani soldiers and terrorists. The enemy was uprooted and it became an embarrassment for the enemy who declined to accept the bodies of its nationals.

How many of you remember the name Saurabh Kalia today? If you don't, then for your reference, he was one of the first casualties in the Kargil war. Saurabh Kalia of 4 Jat Regiment, was the first army officer to report incursion by the Pakistani army on Indian soil had along with five soldiers – Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh had gone for a routine patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector when they were taken captive by the Pakistani troops on May 15, 1999.

They were brutally tortured for weeks before their mutilated bodies were handed over to Indian authorities on June 9, 1999. Saurabh Kalia was posted in Kargil as his first posting after passing out from the Indian Military Academy and did not even live long enough to receive his first pay packet as an officer. The supreme sacrifice made by Saurabh and his team has faded away from our memory.

Then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee assured the nation that he will take the issue of barbaric treatment of the Prisoners of War (POWs) by Pakistan on international stage. But ten years down the line, this has ended as just another promise made by our government.

Other Articles by Rishabh..

NK Kalia, father of Captain Kalia said in an interview, "Of course, his supreme sacrifice has made us proud but what has exhausted, disappointed and dejected us is that the nation, for which he has sacrificed his life least bothered to highlight the plight of war crimes at the international fora."

The family is running from one office to another to ensure that no other POW meets the same fate as the six heroes did. But the history of Indian government has been such that they forget these heroes as soon as they are in a safe zone. They did it after 1971 war and repeated it in 1999. "Is this the way the government treats its heroes?" If the same thing would have happened in America and Israel, culprits would have been brought to justice.

But this is India. Like always, we remember Armed Forces and other Security Agencies when we are in trouble but have rarely stood up for our soldiers. A soldier performs his duty and never expects to get recognition for the same. But as a grateful citizen, we must stand up for him. Don't forget that we are sleeping happily with our family because few men are awake at the borders, toiling and battling for us. Hope that government will take some action and do something for POW at international level.

http://www.merinews.com/article/real-heroes-of-india-forgone-and-forgotten/15776190.shtml

$300m rebate on $25m-worth 'Casino Gorshkov'- Part I

In 2003, India agreed to accept the wreckage worth $25m in scrap value for free. It agreed to pay $620m for redoing it by 2008 into INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier. 'Tough bargain' has pushed that price to 3.5 times and delivery off by four years..

MEMBERS OF the Indian Parliament at the Rajya Sabha enthusiastically cheered defence minister AK Anthony as he made a triumphant announcement. He informed the MPs of a happy end to the long and ardulous bargaining with Russia on the proposed proud possession of the Indian Navy - INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier. The government of United Progressive Alliance that has won a second term in the 2009 elections had invited the Russian side for final negotiations in the beginning of July. Officials sorted out long-pending differences in converting the Russia’s unserviceable cruiser Admiral Gorshkov into the aircraft carrier.

The 'free' media on India run by business tycoons hailed the deal as 'one of the first major defence procurements to be cleared by UPA-2,” remaining as always on the right side of the establishment. But an informed examination reveals that the Admiral Gorshkov deal is even bigger a rip-off than the one clinched by former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in 1994. Rao too had 'triumphantly' agreed to settle accumulated rupee debts of bilateral barter trade with the defunct USSR. The currency of the bankrupt entity, whose liabilities Russia took over, had plummeted drastically. Rao agreed to ‘dollarise’ the rupee debt at pre-1991 exchange rate of the rouble. The Congress PM effectively agreed to pay $17bn, spread over 12 years, to settle the debt that was worth $3bn.

The current Congress-led UPA regime is all set to shell out Rs 11,000 crore (2.2 billion dollar) for Admiral Gorshkov instead of Rs 1.25 crore (25 million dollar), the true worth going by the “comparable transactions” for the item. Soviet Union’s Pacific Navy had sold similar unserviceable vessel, the Varyag, in November 1998. A Hong Kong-based Chinese company paid the $25m to Ukraine in an auction. The buyer intended to convert it into an entertainment complex, complete with a casino, to be stationed off Macau. It is a cruel joke that the Indian 'elite' exults in the mega heist. Clever propaganda has made the gullible population believe and take pride, that a concession of Rs 1500 crore has been extracted from Russians over what they were prepared to accept.

The 44,570-tonne cruiser had been gutted in a devastating accident during sea trial even before it saw service. It was berthed in the Severodvinsk shipyard of Sevmash Enterprise in north Russia since late 1990s. Middlemen and (middle women!) brokering mega armaments deals for the voiceless military establishment of India started evincing interest in acquiring the rusting shipwreck in the early 2000s. According to the Russian newspaper Pravda, "It was rusting in the White Sea for a long time after the break-up of the USSR. . . It was agreed in 2003, that Russia would give away the cruiser to India for free, whereas India in its turn would place an order with Russia to remake the cruiser into an aircraft-carrier."

Sevmash Enterprise agreed to the redo, virtual building of a 'new' ship out of the scrap of the wreckage, for 620 million dollar. In effect, India was to shell out 595 million dollar for redoing scrap worth around 25 million dollar, received 'free' from the Nehru-era friend! What the seaworthiness of a ship with such obsolete, recycled input materials could be and how long it would last are anyone's guess.

The deal was finally inked in January 2004, at the fag end of the reign of Anthony’s predecessor George Fernandes. This ‘honourable’ defence minister is noted for his daredevil guts to famously declare that China was India's enemy number one something even United States, Russia or Israel dare not. He readily agreed that wily Chinese had shortchanged and betrayed Ukraine on the Varyag; they had paid just 25 million dollar for the mini cruiser but avoided giving the contract for turning it into a casino to the 'benefactor'! Ignoring the yardstick of 'comparable transaction’ item' on this ground, he approved the ‘strategic purchase’ Gorshkov.

Fernandes was the eye of many controversies on ‘strategic’ deals such as the infamous coffin scam for soldiers sacrificed in the Kargil war and the cash-for-entry-as-defence-contractor deals negotiated by his lady friend at his official residence, caught was in camera by a TV channel. His hold on the coalition government was so complete that he could get the then Navy Chief Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat unceremoniously sacked. No wonder, India readily acknowledged the extra costs in providing decks for MiG-29K jets to be located on the vessel and added 324 million dollar to the original estimate. A package was hammered further swelling the deal from 974 million dollar to 1.

5 billion dollar (Rs 6900 crore in the then dollar price), adding 16 deck-based MiG-29K jets in the deal.

When the 'original' dynasty that architected the lucrative 'special relations' business with the Soviets recaptured power in New Delhi, it one-upped on the previous regime. In mid-2007, India 'favourably considered' Russian's demand for cost-escalation of 1.2 billion dollar for Gorshkov's refit over and above the agreed price of 974 million dollar. The delivery schedule too was pushed back from 2008 to December 2012, conceding to Sevmash Enterprise’s plea of that the work had been 'grossly under-estimated' earlier.

http://www.merinews.com/article/300m-rebate-on-25m-worth-casino-gorshkov--part-i/15776215.shtml

14 hostages freed from Somali pirates by Indian, French Navies

Press Trust of India, Thursday July 16, 2009, New Delhi

Demonstrating excellent coordination in the last six days, the Indian and French Navies together ensured the safe release of 14 Indian hostages whose dhow (wooden ship) was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

"The close coordination between the two Navies helped in freeing 14 crew members of an Indian dhow 'MV Nafeya' after it was hijacked by pirates off Boosasso near Somalia at 1100 hours on July 10 by seven pirates armed with RPGs and AK47s ," Indian Navy officers said here.

The dhow, registered in Porbandar, Gujarat and operating in UAE, was hijacked by the pirates after it had dropped cargo at a Somalian harbour and was proceeding towards Dubai.

After capturing the Indian dhow, officials said, the pirates attempted to hijack a Liberian tanker ship 'MV A Elephant' near Bab-el-Manbeb on July 13.

"The attack was thwarted by a French warship belonging to the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), which was in the vicinity," officers said.

After failing pirates' attempts, the French warship started tracking the hijacked dhow and kept the Indian Naval ship, on anti-piracy patrol in the area, informed about the developments and both the ships tracked the dhow together, they said.

http://www.ndtv.com/news/world/14_hostages_freed_from_somali_pirates_by_indian_french_navies.php

Indian hacks Australian Air Force site: Report

Press Trust of India, Thursday July 16, 2009, Melbourne

An Indian techie has allegedly hacked the Royal Australian Air Force website and posted a message asking Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government to take all steps to stop racist attacks against Indian students.

Australia's Department of Defence has said the website was hacked between Monday and Tuesday but did not elaborate on the issue, The Age newspaper reported on Thursday.

Citing its sources, the paper said the message read, "This site has been hacked by Atul Dwivedi. This is a warning message to the Australian government. Immediately take all measures to stop racist attacks against Indian students in Australia or else I will pawn all your cyber properties like this one."

The department kept the entire RAAF website offline and replaced it with a page explaining that there had been "technical difficulties". The site has now been restored.

A Defence spokeswoman said the RAAF website was not used to conduct official air force business and no sensitive information had been stolen.

The internal "intranet" systems were secure and had not been compromised.

Twenty Indian students have been attacked in Australia since last month. Australia hosts over 5 lakh international students, including 97,000 Indians.

"No sensitive information was compromised as the air force internet website is hosted on an external server and, as such, does not hold any sensitive information," the spokeswoman said, adding "Further, the server is not connected to any operational Defence systems."

Defence Security Authority is conducting an investigation into the incident.

The department did not comment on the technical aspects or what action would be taken against the hacker, due to the "active investigation".

http://www.ndtv.com/news/diaspora/indian_hacks_australian_air_force_site_report.php

Hillary’s visit to India
Question mark over defence pact
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Just a day before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in New Delhi on a five-day visit, an end-user verification agreement, which will pave way for sensitive and high-end military equipment from the USA, is under question. The Ministry of Defence wants that India’s concerns are addressed in totality.

Sources in the ministry said today: “It is likely that the process to formally sign the agreement will be delayed. However, a significant progress has been made in the framing of the draft.”

Another source pointed out: “The agreement is on the agenda but there is no surety over it getting inked during Hillary’s visit”.

For all you know, the agreement could be amended further to accommodate Indian concerns. The ministry had protested against certain clauses in the draft.

Last month, the ministry had shot down a proposal of the US government, which said it was mandatory under the US laws to have inspections of sensitive military equipment to prevent misuse. Armed forces said “intrusive inspections” at forward areas or bases would be impossible.

The US was also conveyed about political sensitivities of allowing any such inspection at a forward base where the equipmnet is likely to be based. It is likely that the US will agree for inspections at mutually convenient location and that, too, on specific issues.

India buys equipment from other countries but only offers an undertaking to prevent “misuse”.

Separately, India wants a standard text of the agreement that is appended to all future deals. The text should be “frozen” and not be changed as per the future amendments to the US laws. The standard format of the text is almost complete and it has been fine-tuned to suit both countries, informed sources said.

The US is aiming to sell several critical items to India like fighter airplanes, transport planes and armoured choppers. All future defence supplies from the US hinge on the agreement.

The basic concern of the US with regard to the critical defence equipment it sells to India is that it should be used only for the purpose of armed forces operations, internal security, legitimate self-defence and civic action.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090717/nation.htm#9

Purpose of Clinton visit to strengthen strategic ties: US

Lalit K Jha/ PTI / Washington July 16, 2009, 10:51 IST

The purpose of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to India is to strengthen and broaden the strategic partnership between the two countries, a top Obama Administration official said today.

"The purpose of the visit is to broaden and strengthen the strategic partnership between the US and India," said Robert Blake, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.

Briefing reporters on Clinton's trip to India, Blake shared the purpose is also to highlight the extensive cooperation that is already taking place between the non-governmental folks in both India and the US.

"That is our business people, our scientists, our academics, our students, and so many other people. And those really underpin our relations and kind of propel them forward. So we really want to highlight those during the trip," he said.

"We believe that the strong showing of the Congress Party, Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh's return to office, and then President Obama's very strong support for strengthening ties with India really opened the way for a new and invigorated partnership between the US and India," he added.

Reiterating the commitment of the new US Administration, Blake said both US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton see India as an important partner for America not only in addressing bilateral issues, but also in kind of working with it to shape the world of the 21st century.

"So in terms of what we're trying to accomplish, the Secretary and her counterpart, Foreign Minister Krishna, will announce on Monday the elements of our new partnership," Blake shared, without going into details.

"Broadly speaking, we are going to continue the successful cooperation we have had on things like defence cooperation, counter-terrorism, trade, while also forging new initiatives on things like agriculture, education, science and technology, and women's empowerment," he said.

Obama and Clinton also think there is a scope for broader engagement with India on some of the big global challenges of the world, including things like climate change and nonproliferation, he observed.

Clinton leaves Washington for India Thursday night (Friday morning India time). The US delegation headed by Clinton would arrive in Mumbai Friday night, with the first event scheduled for Saturday. In Mumbai, she would be doing some events with business people, meeting with a local women's association, and then she'll have an event with a lot of youth who are doing volunteer work in their communities, Blake informed.

In New Delhi, Clinton would meet her counterpart S M Krishna on Monday, besides meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. She would also meet Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the Opposition L K Advani.

The Secretary of State also plans some people-to-people events in New Delhi, he said. "She will do an event at a green building to highlight some of the possibilities for working together on clean energy and climate change."

"Clinton will also have an event to showcase some of the cooperation that is taking place between our scientists, agronomists, and NGOs and foundations on agriculture. And then she will have an event at a local university that will be an interaction with students and so forth," Blake added.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/purposeclinton-visit-to-strengthen-strategic-ties-us/67876/on

Indian Army joins hands with State Govt to add greenery to Sikkim

GANGTOK, July 15: The Indian Army unit based in Sikkim today joined hands with the State Government for making the ‘Ten Minutes to Greenery’ successful in the State. The army carried out afforestation from Sherwani (Singtam) to Mile 13 on Jawaharlal Nehru Marg axis.

The afforestation drive was launched by Major General RS Chopra, GOC of the 17th Mountain Division at Penangla. Army persons, their families and defence civilian employees participated whole heartedly in the programme which was conducted successfully in an atmosphere of festivity, informs a press release.

The release informs that the Indian Army has been the leading organization in the country promoting and ensuring protection and care of the environment. On arrival of the monsoons, afforestation is an annual event much eagerly awaited by the Army all throughout the country.

http://voiceofsikkim.com/2009/07/16/indian-army-joins-hands-with-state-govt-to-add-greenery-to-sikkim/

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