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Saturday, 1 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 01 Aug 09

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Pak moves troops away from India to take on Taliban

Vishal Thapar


BIG MOVE: US terms it 'a significant redeployment' involving a 'very large number of troops'.

New Delhi: Pakistan has moved a large number of troops from the border with India to its troubled north-west for an offensive against the Taliban.

US Special Ambassador on Af-Pak Richard Holbrooke has termed the troops redeployment as a significant move.

The troop redeployment looks like the first significant thinning out of the Pakistan Army from its front with India.

Pakistan is reported to have pulled out at least 70,000 army troopers deployed against India for an offensive against the Taliban on its western side.

Interestingly the announcement was made by the US.

Holbrooke termed it "a significant redeployment" involving a "very large number of troops".

Intelligence agencies indicate that Pakistan has since March trebled the number of Army troops deployed in its troubled North-Western Frontier Province and Waziristan.

The number now stands at approximately 1,00,000 and perhaps the most symbolic movement is that of a brigade along the Line of Control.

Pakistan had insisted earlier that there would be no thinning out from its side of Jammu and Kashmir.

Intelligence inputs suggest that the Pakistan Army's 14 Division has been moved out of Okhara in Punjab and it's 37 Division has been pulled out of Gujaranwala.

Even a part of Jhelum-based 23 Division, including its Headquarters, has been shifted to Pakistan's Wild West.

The number of Army battalions in the NWFP and tribal areas has been increased from 18 to 80.

But a big majority of Pakistan's 6,00,000-strong Army as also its entire strategic capability is still ranged against India.

So, its makes very little difference on the India-Pak frontier.

Observers see a US push in this development.

They are also linking the redeployment to the Indian climb-down at Sharm-el-Sheikh and the controversial inclusion of Balochistan in the joint statement with Pakistan.

The redeployment is seen as preparation for an offensive against Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan.

So, is Pakistan finally walking the talk?

It's commitment to take on the Taliban, which it fathered, is clearly on test.

5,000 BSF men to join anti-Naxal ops

In a move to flush out Naxalites [ Images ], Border Security Force personnel will be deployed in Maoist-infested states along with the Central Reserve Police Force troopers, the only paramilitary fighting the menace at present.

Five BSF battalions will be deployed in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal [ Images ] and Maharashtra.

"Around 5,000 men, drawn from various frontiers of the BSF, will de deployed for anti-Naxal operations in five states by September last," official sources said.

These states have been hit by the onslaught of Naxal violence and lost more than 230 security men this year alone.

When asked for a confirmation, BSF Director General M L Kumawat said: "The BSF has earlier played a leading role in anti-Naxal operations. We may go to Naxal-hit areas whenever ordered."

Talking about the construction of bunkers along the Indo-Pak border, Kumawat -- who retired from service on Friday -- said: "It's a fact. After 26/11 there had been strengthening of defence structures and bunkers by Rangers. But as a matter of policy, we did not react in that manner. We took all other measures to thwart any misadventure."

Kumawat also spoke about the problem of fake currency circulating in the country and said only seizures will not stop this problem. The source of fake currencies has to be tackled in a 'decisive manner', he said while referring to the cross border network, which is sneaking the notes into the country.

The DG, who took charge of the more than 1.5 lakh-men force 10 months ago, said there have been 2,607 incidents of infiltration at the country's Eastern borders while the corresponding figure at the Western borders had been 199 attempts so far this year.

Indo-Pak dialogue: Reckless gamble or cautious first step?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] surprised many of his own advisers and supporters by issuing a joint statement at Sharm-al-Shaikh in Egypt [ Images ] with his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani, which pledged to resume the bilateral dialogue process. It was widely expected that the dialogue, suspended after the Mumbai [ Images ] terrorist attacks last November, would be re-started only after Pakistan shows a credible commitment and takes visible action to bring the attacks' perpetrators to justice. India has repeatedly reminded Pakistan that it must abide by its solemn pledge to fight terrorism directed at India from its soil.

Admittedly, the signs of this happening are still tentative -- although Pakistan's 36-page dossier given to India does name Lashkar-e-Tayiba's [ Images ] Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi as the attacks' mastermind and admits that Ajmal Amir Kasab [ Images ] and other attackers are Pakistani nationals. Again, the Pakistan government's charge-sheet against them contains valuable evidence gathered by its official agencies, which adds significantly to what was provided by New Delhi [ Images ]. Islamabad [ Images ] has now brought the case to the prosecution stage. How the prosecution itself proceeds, and whether the culprits are punished quickly, is an open question.

So was Dr Singh right to have convinced himself that Pakistan means business this time and therefore that the stalled dialogue should resume, albeit gradually, at the foreign secretary level? Was he justified in issuing the joint statement which said: "Action on terrorism should not be linked to the composite dialogue process and these should not be bracketed"? Was he on the defensive when responding to the criticism of the joint statement and stressing that he hadn't diluted India's stand demanding firm Pakistani action against terrorism?

The "delinking" has raised a furore. The Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ] and hawkish former diplomats and soldiers have pounced on the formulation and accused Dr Singh of "surrender", capitulation to external pressure, and worse. Even the ruling Congress has distanced itself from the phrase. L K Advani [ Images ] has charged Dr Singh with breaching the national consensus that there should be no talks with Islamabad unless it resolutely acts against jihadi groups.

Worse, the statement's reference to Balochistan has been attacked as signifying India's admission that it has clandestinely fomented trouble in that restive province. This will allow Pakistan to claim moral parity between India's suspect behaviour in Balochistan and its own long-standing support to violent separatism in the Kashmir [ Images ] Valley.

These criticisms are largely misdirected and based on the misperception that the composite dialogue has already been resumed and will continue full tilt no matter what Pakistan does. In fact what Dr Singh and Gilani agreed to was much more limited and laced with caution. As Dr Singh told Parliament, no "meaningful process of engagement" can move forward unless and until Pakistan shows real progress by taking measures to control terrorism and bring the Mumbai attacks' perpetrators to book.

The "delinking" formulation is rather inelegant, awkward and ambiguous. Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon [ Images ] has admitted as much. It can be interpreted by either side to suit its domestic political exigencies or convenience. Pakistan can claim that it has succeeded in getting India to resume the bilateral dialogue even as the case against LeT operatives proceeds, but is not completed.

India can claim that it has extracted an assurance from Pakistan that it would act firmly against terrorism -- as any minimally civilised country would be expected to do --irrespective of what the dialogue produces. Both prime ministers reckoned that the delinking formulation would give them enough domestic elbow room to resume constructive engagement bilaterally.

The plain truth is that the two processes -- action against terrorism and dialogue -- have their own independent logic and dynamics. They will converge only as they gather momentum at their own respective pace. That's what genuine, positive engagement leading to d├ętente and reconciliation is all about. Both sides must recognise and respect this. Neither should act unilaterally. For instance, Pakistan shouldn't stop acting against jehadi groups if, say, talks on Sir Creek or Siachen don't make progress. On the whole, the greater onus is on Pakistan.

The Indian and Pakistani governments must hold firm against their critics and persevere with the dialogue process. Dr Singh should not be on the defensive about having made a leap of faith by agreeing to re-start the process. Atal Bihari Vajpyee did exactly that, whether in 1999, when he rode the bus to Lahore [ Images ], or in January 2004, when he launched the peace process in Islamabad with General Pervez Musharraf [ Images ].

There are two differences, though. The 2004 dialogue began before Pakistan took credible steps to rein in or crack down upon jehadi groups targeting India. Today, it's being resumed after Pakistan has taken more effective action against them than at any time in the last quarter-century. The 2004 launch took place on the basis of a verbal assurance by Musharraf that Pakistan would do all it can to prevent its territory from being used to attack India. Vajpayee, who had only a few months earlier ruled out talks, decided to take him seriously. The results aren't perfect. But India and Pakistan are unarguably better off after the dialogue. They even made significant progress on Kashmir in their "back-channel" discussions.

Today's context is different, and in many ways, better. Islamabad has admitted, frankly and categorically, that Pakistani nationals and militant groups indeed planned and executed the Mumbai attacks. This is a departure from the long-practised strategy of "plausible deniability" (that Pakistan has been aiding extremist groups). This is taking place when the Pakistan Army [ Images ] is fighting the al-Qaeda-Taliban at its western borders in alliance with and under the watch of the US-led International Security Assistance Force. This is no mock battle. Pakistan is under pressure, both domestic and from the international community, to act against terrorism and erase the stigma of being a state that nurtured it.

Pakistan is a divided and heterogeneous entity. A civilian government is in power there, which has sent serious signals hat it wants better relations with India. It has so far succeeded in keeping the hawks in check and pushed a moderate agenda in alliance with civil society forces and political organisations that are genuinely opposed to violent jehadi political Islam. The hawks and India-baiters in the Inter Services Intelligence and other military agencies have by no means been overpowered or marginalised. That can only happen when the moderates get more support.

It's in India's interest to stop treating Pakistan as a single homogenous entity and to build a strategic alliance with the moderate forces in that country which serendipitously combine an anti-extremist and anti-military outlook with a strong pro-democratisation agenda. It would be unwise for India to leave such engagement and alliance-building to the government alone.

India must open up the process up to scholars, artists, writers, cultural activists and civil society groups by facilitating their movement across the borders. There is enormous potential in such interaction, whose tapping can produce dramatic results. India should stop, and allay fears about, its clandestine activities in Balochistan, on whose existence there's some evidence and agreement in intelligence circles.

Those who hysterically accuse Dr Singh of having "surrendered" to Pakistan fail to understand or appreciate any of this. Indeed, they don't even pause to ask why Pakistan, in particular the moderates in the civilian government, are so keen to resume a dialogue with India and remain invested in that agenda despite many setbacks. Our anti-Pakistan hawks have a single refrain: Pakistan and India are destined to be enemies; no reconciliation is possible between them given the history of three-and-a-half wars, the military's dominance in Pakistan, and the festering of any number of disputes, etc.

This is a totally illiterate and a-historical judgement. It erases or trivialises numerous instances of reconciliation and fruitful friendship developing between strategically hostile rivals who forget countless wars. Take Germany [ Images ] and France [ Images ], which were in a state of intermittent war for centuries, in which they sacrificed millions of their people. Yet, after the Second World War, they struggled hard to reach reconciliation and laid the foundations of the Common Market, which later grew into the European Community and today's 27-member European Union.

The two European rivals achieved this through a determined process of negotiation, which rejected pessimism, confronted issues head-on, and adopted a hard-nosed but positive practical approach. The process established a relationship which is called co-bonding in international relations theory.

Put simply, co-bonding involves adversaries tying each other down in a non-hostile relationship through numerous cooperative agreements, mutual interaction, and greater exposure of their citizens and officials to each other's cultures -- so that there is no backsliding into mutual suspicion, recrimination and rivalry. It's as if two wrestlers who balance each other by exerting pressure on each other had gradually moved towards a friendly embrace.

Co-bonding is precisely what India and Pakistan need. But for that to happen, both governments will have to try hard, earnestly, in good faith, not once but repeatedly. The fact that they are at least attempting another beginning is itself welcome.

Praful Bidwai

Expanding Indian footprints

India 's down-to-earth Defence Minister, AK Antony, has consistently been advocating the need for India to achieve self reliance in all aspects of defence technology and production to reduce dependence on imported hardware. Expressing his concern over the imported equipment and systems making up for 70% of Indian defence procurement, Antony has described the trend as both "shameful and dangerous". Without mincing words, Antony has characterized Indian dependence on imported defence systems as an "undesirable situation". Says Antony : "We had set the target for self reliance 50 years ago by our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Unfortunately we are still importing 70% of the equipment. A country like India cannot allow this situation to continue".

As part of its strategy to boost indigenous defence production capability, the Defence Ministry has decided to encourage the participation of India 's private sector in the defence production scenario. Observes Antony : "Now we have taken a decision that in all procurements, priority, wherever possible, if any equipment can be produced in India either by the public sector or the private sector, should be given to India . If that is not possible, only then we will buy from abroad".

Giving details of the new move to involve Indian industries in the defence production at an accelerated pace, Antony noted that the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) which was earlier amended every two years, would now be amended every year. "The main idea is to give more teeth so that we can on the one hand assure more transparency and on the other, give more space to the Indian industries, both public and private." He also revealed that of 55 items provided to the soldiers deployed in the Siachen glaciers and other high altitude areas, only 19 items are being imported. "We are gradually trying to produce these 19 items also indigenously," states Antony .

In what has been perceived to be a marked shift in defence procurement strategy, Indian Defence Ministry has decided to let Indian private firms bid for a US$1-billion project aimed at modernizing army's tactical communications systems. If the proposal is carried through, it would be the biggest military project to date that would be thrown open to domestic private sector companies. Sometime back, India 's defence acquisition council, the high powered body that approves military projects involving huge outlays, had cleared the proposal for allowing local companies to enter the race along with state owned entities for the tactical communications system.

This system is aimed at equipping the defence forces for network centric warfare in which ground troops are connected to air force and navy through a satellite supported secure and integrated voice, data and video communications device. As pointed out by Frost and Sullivan of the total capital outlay of 54,824 crore for the defence sector in 2008-09 budget, the army has been sanctioned Rs. 11,212-crore for its ongoing modernization programs including tactical communications and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Along with many big, established players like Tata Advanced Systems (TAS), Larsen and Toubro (L&T) and Mahindra Defence Systems, many small and medium industrial outfits in India are showing an increasing interest in meeting the fast growing requirements of the Indian defence sector. "The private sector has graduated from being tradesmen to engineering companies. They are now synergistically using the technology and the skill set available to make, market and sustain world class products" says Dr. Prahlada, Chief Controller (Research and Development), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Meanwhile, DRDO has revealed that it is willing to transfer the technology related to nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare to small and medium scale companies and in the process opening up business potentials worth Rs. 2,000-crore.

'We will spend Rs. 300-crore on NBC sector. Around 60% of our work will be outsourced to SMEs (small and medium enterprises)"states W Selvamurthy , Chief Controller Research and development (Life Sciences and Human resources), DRDO. DRDO is now working on developing new techniques to defend the country against a range of potentially lethal agents. These projects include nano technology based bio sensors, unmanned robot operated aerial and ground vehicles attached with NBC detector sensors, devices for detection of chemical clouds and self contained NBC shelters and hospitals to handle NBC victims.

All said done, the share of the Indian private sector in so far as capital spending on defence is concerned is just around 9%.As things stand now, Indian private sector appears to be a peripheral player in country's defence sector dominated as it is by state owned giants and global aerospace and defence vendors. Meanwhile, the heavy engineering and infrastructure development company L&T which is contributing to the missile launch systems including ones for Brahmos and Dhanush ,has announced a joint venture with European aerospace and defence consortium EADS to manufacture high end defence electronics products. The defence division of L&T which makes ancillary equipment for ships such as propulsion steering gears and shafts, is now planning to build ships for the Indian navy.

Along with Godrej and Boyce as well as TAS,L&T is in the race for bagging the contract for developing and building an unmanned aerial vehicle(UAV). This medium altitude, long endurance UAV christened Rustom will be designed to fly at an altitude of 250-km. "Only defence manufacturing coupled with economic might can make India a super power" quips AM Naik CEO of L&T.

Tata Group companies have floated a number of joint ventures with foreign entities with a view to sharpen the edge of the defence production. TAS has a joint venture with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for building unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles and radar systems. Tata Group has also a tie up with Sikorsky Aircraft Corp of USA to manufacture S-92 helicopter cabin in India . The cabin for this four bladed chopper, meant for both the civilian and military uses, is expected t roll out of the Greenfield facility near Hyderabad international airport by late 2010.

Observers of the Indian defence sector feel that the defence offset clause forming part of the defence procurement will help Indian private sector not only get business from foreign vendors implementing high ticket projects but also help it sharpen its technological skill and manufacturing base. The defence procurement policy stipulates that for import order in excess of Rs. 300-crore, the suppliers must outsource around 30% with the Indian companies. Experts are of view that Indian companies can rake in US$10-billion in the next four to five years through the offset program. In the ultimate analysis, it would be reasonable to assume that if Indian companies graduate to the position of delivering high quality products at low cost, foreign defence vendors will be tempted to set up manufacturing facilities in India to tap the skill base available with the Indian companies.

Radhakrishna Rao, -INFA

Army guilty in ‘fake encounter’ case
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 31
The Guwahati High Court has held Army guilty in connection with the death of four suspected National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) cadres in an alleged fake encounter and directed the Government of India to pay Rs 3.5 lakh as compensation against each of the victims to their respective families.

A Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Arun Chandra Upadhyay, directed Kokrajhar district police to register a murder case against Army personnel involved in the alleged fake encounter that took place at Tukri Basti, near Manas National Park, on May 21, 2003.

In its verdict, the court said it found “sufficient material to entertain the view that the four persons were killed by the Army in cold blood”. The court delivered the verdict in response to a writ petition filed by Hasa Basumatary, the father of Mankesawr Basumatary, one of the victims of the alleged fake encounter. The rest three victims were Danchouran Basumatary, Philimon Kempramari and Kishore Narzary, all from Aidhubuni village under Basugaon police station in Kokrajhar district.

Petitioner’s counsel Bijon Mohajan said the court directed the officer in charge of Basugaon police station to register a murder case against the Army troops under Section 302 of the IPC and investigate the case.

Colour of a martyr’s blood
by Maj Gen (retd) Raj Mehta

It is July 26, 2009 — another hot, humid, rainless day in the tricity. I am back home after a round of golf, followed by attendance with my better-half at a moving, well-conducted public function at the imposing Major Sandeep Sankhla memorial at Panchkula, by the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, to pay homage to the Kargil dead and injured.

Restless, my thoughts wander... unaffected by the stifling heat, to the chill winds, the icy fastnesses of the brooding, gaunt mountains that overlook Dras, Kargil and Batalik.

Ten years ago, 527 soldiers died in those unforgiving mountains; another 1,334 were wounded; some reduced to mortifying stumps; caricatures of once erect, alert, combative, dignified soldiers — all because they swore deathless allegiance to the idea of India; of upholding the sovereignty of their country at the cost of death or permanent maiming.

They swore allegiance with passion, at times with prescience and quiet acceptance of grim reality, of either planting the tricolour on their objective; or returning with their bodies wrapped in it.

The TV channels have been going ballistic covering the 10th anniversary of the famous victory. The newspapers speak of the need to learn lessons from the mistakes of 1999.

This is intelligent, thoughtful stuff. What rankles the rank and file, numbs the nation are the comments of a member of Parliament, who opines that that “Kargil isn’t a thing to be celebrated. The war was fought within our territory. We didn’t even come to know when the Pakistani army crossed over and built bunkers inside our territory...”

My thoughts are overtaken by the darkness that surrounds me. I light a candle and hold vigil over its flickering flame, as ex-servicemen and citizens are doing all over India, in honour of those who died in those trying days when Kargil happened. Yet again, my mind returns to memories of the past...

It was past the witching hour. My time was up. Though still in uniform, I had just retired after 38 years in uniform; had ‘hung up my spurs’ with a heavy heart. With the majestic Dhauladhars as a backdrop, I stood outside the just refurbished War Memorial in Yol Cantonment, near Dharamsala, addressing an audience of serving and retired soldiers, their ladies and a few, distinguished gentry.

Amongst them were the parents of the late Capt Vikram Batra, PVC, the brother of late Major Somnath Sharma, India’s first PVC and himself the ex Army Chief, Gen VN Sharma, along with his wife.

Days earlier, I had visited the Batra’s at Palampur, to pay homage to Vikram, seek permission to borrow for display a few of his artifacts at the Yol museum and request his dignified yet grieving parents to join us for the ceremony.

The Batra home, set beyond a tea garden in the low hills surrounding Palampur, is a far cry from the mountains that claimed him. Yet, his parental home exudes his passion, his fervour, his commitment to the pledge he took on becoming a soldier; the country first, always and every time.

I showed a nine-minute TV clip on Vikram, on that hugely moving last day, at Yol. It was the Barkha Dutt recording of his now iconic ‘Yeh Dil Mange More’ and ‘fly the tricolour or come back wrapped in it’ sound bytes. Barkha stated very recently that she had intuitively sensed he would not return.

So had his father, Mr GL Batra, as he watched that last, touching interview. They were both right. She had unknowingly essayed her first obituary. Mr Batra had lost a son, and Vishal, who resembles him so heart breakingly, his extraordinarily brave twin brother.

Recalling Vikram’s sacrifice, Vishal broke down inconsolably, during the TV interview with Barkha, conducted under the shadows of Point 4875 where he died. We, the nation, broke down too. I wonder, though, how our honorable MP must have reacted.

He needs to be reminded that the colour of a martyr’s blood across the continuum of time, era, history, country, location, is always red. Blood red. It is never daubed in the colours of political parties. May God, Allah Talah, forgive this MP his trespasses as the ESM fraternity and perhaps the nation at large are certainly going to have a problem doing that.

India rising, and flexing military muscles

Matt Wade Herald Correspondent in New Delhi

August 1, 2009

NO CHAMPAGNE bottles were broken at the launch of India’s first homemade nuclear submarine this week.

Instead, the political and military elite gathered in the port city of Vishakapatnam to watch Gursharan Kaur, the wife of the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, crack an auspicious coconut on the new boat to mark the occasion.

The submarine – named Arihant, meaning destroyer of enemies in Sanskrit – will not be fully operational for several years but it is symbolic of India’s strategic aspirations.

Military spending has doubled over the past decade to about $US30 billion ($36 million) a year and if military outlays keep up with the country’s anticipated economic growth, analysts say it will be the world’s third largest military power in two decades.

As its military capacity swells, India’s potential to project its growing military might in the Indian Ocean – a region of great strategic importance to Australia – could be relatively unimpeded.

Deba Ranjan Mohanty, a strategic analyst at Delhi’s Observer Research Foundation, says that by about 2025 India is likely to have three to four aircraft carrier battle groups, a fleet of nuclear submarines, an air force with 35 squadrons and sophisticated land-based weapon systems to go with its huge army.

‘‘There is no doubt that India will be a comprehensive military power in the region,’’ he said. ‘‘The larger aspiration is to play a constructive role in the global arena.’’

India is the biggest importer of military hardware in the developing world and its recent acquisitions are a guide to its ambitions. It is purchasing more military hardware that can operate a long way from home, such as aircraft carriers, giant transport planes and airborne refuelling tankers.

‘‘A lot of this new equipment is about power projection,’’ says Rahul Bedi, a Delhi-based correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly. ‘‘As India’s economy grows, India’s ability to extend and display its power away from home is going to increase. It’s entering the big league.’’

Another factor in India’s military build-up is New Delhi’s concern about growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.

On Thursday a senior naval official revealed plans to add almost 100 warships to the navy over the next decade. Captain Alok Bhatnagar, the director of naval plans at the ministry of defence, said 32 warships and submarines were under construction, the Financial Times reported.

However, India will have to overcome some obstacles before it can claim to be the caretaker of the Indian Ocean and beyond.

A lot of its military hardware has reached obsolescence and Mr Mohanty says it will be difficult for India to rapidly acquire and manage the sophisticated weapons systems it wants.

It is also hampered by many perceived threats on its doorstep.

ANU strategic specialist, Professor Sandy Gordon, says India will eventually emerge as a major force in the Indian Ocean but for now it is constrained by internal security challenges and threatening neighbours, such as Pakistan and China.

‘‘India’s strategic attention is still demanded by these continental imperatives,’’ Professor Gordon said.

Because of the perceived threat from its nuclear-armed arch-rival Pakistan, India maintains a huge land force. Its regular army numbers about 1.3 million with a further part-time reserve force of about 1.2 million. In addition, India’s paramilitary forces number about 1.1 million. Only China has more security personnel under arms.

India has also devoted huge resources to developing its nuclear arsenal estimated at about 60 to 70 operational nuclear weapons.

Uday Bhaskar, a former naval commander and director of the National Maritime Foundation, said India’s military had one of the most skewed army-to-navy ratios in the world.

‘‘The navy only gets about 15 per cent of the defence budget while the army gets about 60 per cent,’’ he said.

Rory Medcalf, the international security program director at the Lowy Institute, said India would have to devote far more resources to its navy to achieve its strategic aspirations.

‘‘It may not do that until it feels more secure in its own neighbourhood,’’ he said.

The US has encouraged India’s naval expansion and there has been a dramatic increase in joint exercises involving the US and Indian fleets.

Australia and India share interests in stability in the Indian Ocean region, but that has not always guaranteed close co-operation on defence.

In 1998 Australia’s defence attache in New Delhi was thrown out of the country in retaliation for Australia’s strong condemnation of India’s decision to conducted a nuclear weapon test.

Once ties were revived two years later, the Australian Government worked hard to strengthen military engagement with India.

‘‘There is three times as much activity between the two armed services as there was four of five years ago; joint exercise, high-level visits and so on,’’ Australia’s high commissioner to India, John McCarthy, told the Herald.

Mr Medcalf said the rapid improvement in the defence relationship was welcome but believes ‘‘it could still be much better’’.

Strategic analysts in New Delhi agree. Mr Mohanty said the military relationship had a long way to go.

‘‘Australia doesn’t pose a direct threat to India and it makes sense for India to engage countries like Australia to maintain stability in the India Ocean region,’’ he said.

‘‘The scope for further military co-operation is vast.’’

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