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Saturday, 8 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 08 Aug 09

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India, China start boundary talks
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
The special representatives (SRs) of India and China today sat down for a fresh round of negotiations on the decades old boundary dispute between the two Asian giants with New Delhi hoping the talks would further strengthen bilateral strategic and cooperative partnership.

Sources said the talks were held in a positive atmosphere and the two sides explored the framework for a final package settlement covering all sectors of the boundary. They are likely to come out with a joint statement tomorrow at the end of their talks.

Among other issues, the two sides are understood to have discussed the technical procedure and formalities for establishing a hotline between the two Prime Ministers to maintain regular contacts at the highest level.

The 13th round of talks between National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and Chinese State Counsellor Dai Bingguo got off to a start at the majestic Hyderabad House this morning in the backdrop of China’s renewed assertions over Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.

The two SRs posed for photographers before Narayanan, in an opening statement, said the two sides would review the entire state of bilateral relations and see how the partnership could be further strengthened. The border issue involved complex issues for which the mechanism of SRs was created, he pointed out.

The two sides met after a gap of nearly a year. The last round of talks between the SRs was held in Beijing in September 2008.

New Delhi has been cut with China for some of its recent actions, primarily its attempt to block India getting a 2.9 billion dollar loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for Arunachal Pradesh. India has since decided to self-finance the massive irrigation project in Arunachal Pradesh. China has repeatedly staked a claim to large tracts of land in Arunachal Pradesh while New Delhi has charged Beijing with illegally occupying a large part of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the two countries have shown their sincerity in not allowing the boundary dispute to become an irritant in bilateral ties.

Realising that a solution to the lingering boundary dispute could take a pretty long time, they have been concentrating on cooperation in other spheres, like trade and commerce, defence and people-to-people contacts. As part of high-level exchanges between the two countries, President Pratibha Patil will visit Beijing soon while a top Chinese leader will pay a visit to India before the end of the year.

Even Chinese have acknowledged that political confidence was building between the two countries with bilateral cooperation being extended to several areas. Chinese Embassy sources said the two countries were keeping healthy coordination and cooperation in international affairs.

PEC counselling on Aug 17
Separate quota for defence men’s wards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today cleared the legal hurdle in the way of counselling in Punjab Engineering College (PEC) and the Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology (CCET).

The Division Bench of Justice MM Kumar and Justice Jaswant Singh restored separate quota for wards of military and para-military personnel, passing their qualifying examination from Chandigarh or fulfilling other domiciliary conditions.

The Bench also directed the joint admission committee, constituted for the admissions to PEC and CCET, to conduct counselling on August 17.

It is now clear that out of the total 20 seats reserved for the defence category in the PEC, 10 will go to the wards of defence personnel passing their qualifying examination from the UT. The remaining 10 seats would go to the all-India quota.

Similarly, out of 12 seats reserved for the defence category in the CCET, only two will be reserved for the all-India quota, while the rest 10 would go the wards of defence personnel fulfilling domiciliary condition of the UT administration.

The directions were issued while disposing of petitions by city residents - Avneet Hira and Arshdeep Sandhu. They were seeking the quashing of provision made in the admission brochure of the PEC, clubbing the seats reserved under the defence category of Chandigarh pool and the all-India quota.

The Bench directed the joint admission committee constituted for admissions in the PEC and the CCET to prepare separate list on the basis of 50 per cent quota each for the ‘UT pool’ and ‘All-India quota’ under the defence category and display the same by August 10 on notice board as well as on the website.

The court also directed the admission committee to inform all the candidates about the development through newspapers/emails or short message service by August 10.

The High Court also observed that the PEC could not club the UT and all-India quota for the purpose of admissions under the defence category because the status of deemed university was granted to it on the basis that the reservation of seats under the defence category have to be calculated separately for the ‘UT pool quota’ and the ‘All-India quota’ in admissions.

Indian Army kills 3 militants in ongoing gunfighting in India-controlled Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India-controlled Kashmir, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Three militants were killed in an ongoing gunfighting with Indian army Friday in India-controlled Kashmir, a defense spokesman said.

The gunfighting took place in Bandipora district, 55 kilometers north of Srinagar, the summer capital of India-controlled Kashmir.

"The fighting broke out Friday evening at around 18:45 p.m. when the army came face to face with a group of militants in forest area of Bandipora district. So far three militants have been killed in the gunfighting between Indian army and militants," said defense spokesman in Srinagar, Lt. Col. J.S. Brar.

The gunfighting was still going on in the area, he said.

The gun fighting between militants and Indian army troopers in Indian-controlled Kashmir takes place intermittently.

On Wednesday nine militants were killed in different gunfightings with the Indian army.

Indian army maintained that these militants had tried to infiltrate deep into the region and were killed close to line of control.

Defence achievements, timeless pride for nation

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Sixty-two years down the road, Pakistan swaggers among the few nations in the world, enjoying the nuclear status and invincible defence.

This success story has a very humble beginning, surpassing challenging tasks imbued with unparalleled sense of attachment and commitment for the country.

The journey was started in a very dreary milieu. Surrounded by foes, hell-bent to scuttle its independence, Pakistan was direct under the Indian browbeating when the archrival conducted nuclear tests in 1974.

As India’s nuclear programme was deemed to be the main threat to Pakistan’s security, strategic experts in Pakistan joined heads to cope with this situation.

The most popular leader of the time, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, rose to the occasion and emboldened the nation by raising a slogan ‘we shall eat grass for hundred years but we shall go nuclear.’ Bhutto’s undeterred will and commitment to the nation, laid down a foundation stone for becoming nuclear power though the history was written years after he was hanged by military dictator Ziaul Haq.

It was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who struck a historic agreement with Indra Gandhi in 1971 to get released all of war prisoners and vacated every inch of land from Indian occupation.

But, the experience of three wars fought with India left Pakistan with no other option but to strengthen its defence. India’s nuclear tests in 1974 further ‘added fuel to the fire.’ “The outbreaks of full-scale wars (in 1947, 1965, and 1971) gave ample motivation to the leadership to develop potent weapons and gain advantage over or restore balance with India,” said Lieutenant General (r) Hamid Nawaz, a strategist.

“Pakistan needed well trained armed forces and defence industries to counter threats from India,” said Hamid Nawaz, also a former interior minister.

At the time of independence, Pakistan got a bare share of combined Indian armed forces and finances. After the partition, India developed close relationship with the Soviet Union while Pakistan joined the United States’ sponsored defence treaty ‘South- East Asia Treaty Organization’ in 1954 and ‘Central Treaty Organization’ in 1955.

The voyage continued and local expertise and external assistance elevated Pakistan to be among the top ten militaries of the world.

Despite discriminatory attitude by some of the partners, the army expanded to nine corps, a full-fledged armoured division, a mechanized division and 19 infantry divisions and an important number of independent brigades.

The nation always stood shoulder to shoulder with the army and sacrificed for country’s defence against a rival that always denied the very being of Pakistan. It suffered hard times and sanctions, but continued forging ahead.

“To avoid disabilities due to embargoes, Pakistan endeavoured to be self-sufficient in military equipment,” said Defense Analysis Lieutenant General (r) Talat Masood.

“Pakistan practically had no defence industry at the time of independence and everything had to be started from scratch. But, the will and hard work put in by our engineers and scientists took Pakistan to respectable pinnacle,” he added.

China did help Pakistan to build up defence industry. Three vast compounds were built (Heavy Industries Taxila), one at Wah (Pakistan Ordnance Factories) for producing armaments and ammunition, mainly for the army and a third one at Kamra (Pakistan Aeronautical Complex), to overhaul and maintain and even manufacture military aircraft and aeronautical equipment such as radars.

Heavy Mechanical Complex Taxila set up with the collaboration of China is not only modernising the existing equipment but also manufacturing modern and efficient Al-Khalid and Al-Zarar Tanks. To strengthen Armour Division, 320 T 80-UD tanks were also bought from Ukraine.

Today, Pakistan is able to manufacture state-of-the-art fighter-jet JF-17 (Thunder), Naval Dockyard in Karachi repairs and maintains navy ships and locally manufactured Agosta 90-B submarine is another feather in the cap. Its missile technology was much better than the adversary as it used solid fuel.

The country has the capability of manufacturing and maintaining small and medium ships while it has recently been assigned task to manufacture combat platform like F-22P (Frigate).

Its ordinance factories have not only fulfilled the demand of army but also were earning sizeable revenue by exporting small arms to over fifty countries.

This story did not end here, the journey continued and more achievements were made with every passing day - hats off to our engineers and scientists.

Talat Masood gives credit of nuclear programme to all past governments as they never compromised on continuation of nuclear programme despite various pressures. But, one cannot forget Z A Bhutto and great scientists like Dr Qadeer Khan and Dr Samar Mubarakmand who made Pakistan shine at the horizons.

The credit also goes to PPP leader Benazir Bhutto for taking keen interest in safeguarding country’s interests and Mian Nawaz Sharif for standing firm against pressure from Western nations, not to conduct nuclear tests.

Thus in prevailing global situation, looming threats of terrorism and extremism and evil designs of arch foe India, it is high time to reaffirm our commitment to make our defence invincible.

Let us forge unity in our ranks to foil conspiracies of enemies and lead the nation to destination of progress and prosperity.

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I don’t want to die an ordinary death. When I go, the whole nation will remember me.” So spoke Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan to his father when he had just joined the NSG. Unnikrishnan was to die a hero’s death, fighting terrorists who struck the Taj Hotel in Mumbai last November. Now, a 29-year-old merchant navy officer has delved deep into the young commando’s past right up till that fateful day, bringing his brief but eventful life alive, in an unusual format, the comic book.

Delhi-based Aditya Bakshi, an army officer’s son has seen too many times how war heroes are feted madly after a successful operation and just as quickly forgotten. A while ago he hit upon the idea of using the fun and accessible comic book format, to tell the stories of the tumultuous lives of Indian soldiers. “Comics are great reads and we still go back to our old Amar Chitra Kathas for their mythology, so I wondered if I could do the same with Indian soldiers,” says Bakshi. In 2008, he tested the waters by self-publishing an 88-page black-and-white comic book on Captain Vikram Batra, who died fighting Pakistanis in Kargil. “Called Yeh Dil Mange More, it was to be a one-off comic book but the response surprised me and encouraged me to bring out more comics,” he recalls. As the sales figures came in, Bakshi realized children would read stories of Indian soldiers if they were well told. “I decided to make the comics thinner because children are afraid of thick tomes. Also, the new books are coloured to make them more appealing,” he says.

On August 15, Bakshi will release a comic book on Colonel NJ Nair, one of the most decorated officers of the Indian Army, who died fighting insurgents in the Northeast. The books, he stresses, go beyond the soldier’s supreme sacrifice. “We look at the soldier right from his youth. I started my research by talking to his parents. Major Unnikrishnan’s parents were initially hesitant but soon fell in with the project. I also spent six hours talking to the men who were with Major Unnikrishnan during that last operation. Tracing the lives of each soldier takes more than two months,” he says. Bakshi adds how some traits are common to all three war heroes he’s researched till now — Batra, Unnikrishnan and Col Nair have all held records on the sports field since childhood, they were all voracious readers, and cultivated deep bonds with the troops in their charge.

The books, retailed through Om Book Stores and other prominent outlets, are still a family affair. Bakshi’s father, Major General GD Bakshi, who has won the Seva Medal and Vishisth Seva Medal, helps out with the initial storyline. Bakshi’s wife Namrata puts the final touches on the computer. The illustrators range from students of the Delhi College of Arts, Mukesh Sehgal and Shwetang, to an Ahmedabad-based portrait artist called Deepak Prajapati.

The storyline is high on adventure, heroics and adrenaline as the target readers are 10-year-olds and above. Though the purpose of the books is to entertain and inform, Bakshi hopes it will also restore the former glory of the Indian army in young minds. “Young people don’t want to join the army, but being an Indian soldier is about self-transcending values and a very different way of life,” he says. In 2008, of the 300 recruits selected by the National Defence Academy only 190 joined, and of the 200 selected for the Indian Military Academy, only 80 turned up. “That’s a sad comment on how youngsters view the army today,” says Bakshi as his father adds yudhasya katha ramya (The tales of war are enchanting). With stories that strike at the imagination, Bakshi hopes to make a difference. Major Unnikrishnan may yet get his wish to be remembered forever.

`Indian' arsenal

Category » Editorial Posted On Friday, August 07, 2009

Three decades ago when the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) unveiled several blueprints for the attainment of self-sufficiency in military hardware it was stated that with the completion of the projects India's dependence on foreign sources for weaponry for national defence would shift dramatically away from the 70 per cent foreign and 30 per cent indigenous content paradigm. Recently, while addressing the DRDO Research Council Defence Minister A.K.Antony asked the scientists to set a goal of achieving indigenisation of 70 per cent from the current level of 30 per cent in ten years in the manufacture of Defence products. This means that we have not moved even one per cent beyond in dependence on foreign sources for our military arsenal in the past thirty years.

In the intervening decades some of the plans have fructified in half-baked fashion. The main battle tank (MBT) Arjun has been inducted into the Army in limited quantity and is in grave danger of being blackballed by the users for not fulfilling their requirements. The light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas is still some years away from joining squadron service with the Indian Air Force mainly because the indigenous Kaveri engine has failed to come up to standards on the test bed and so the LCA will have to continue to fly with a foreign engine.

With two of its most cost-intensive projects being inordinately delayed the nation has had to buy both tanks and aircraft to fill the gaps in modernization and, at the very minimum, to retain the conventional edge on the battlefield. Basically, it is the slippage in the delivery schedule of the major weapons platforms like tanks, aircraft, and artillery that India has continued to be dependent on foreign sources of weaponry.

If timeframes had been met, within about 15 years of the conceptualization of the weapon system India would have raised the level of self-sufficiency to about 50:50. DRDO scientists have been accused to being over-ambitious in their targets. Yet in missile technology, they have managed to overcome the hurdles placed in their path by such restrictive international arrangements as the Missile Technology Control Regime intended to prevent India from making strides in nuclear deterrence even as its neighbourhood was clandestinely acquiring proven nuclear warheads and the means of delivery.

Reality check shows that India has failed to utilize to the fullest extent the licenced production deals it has entered into. In fact these agreements had resulted in half-baked competence in the many laboratories that were created within the DRDO to lay the foundations of a viable and vibrant indigenous military-industrial complex.

India 's very first sojourn into aeronautics was when the British Gnat fighter jet was acquired under a licenced-production arrangement. It did appear at the time that India would take giant steps in military aviation when it launched the indigenous design and development of a follow-on aircraft to eventually replace the ground attack fighters in its fleet. An admittedly efficient airframe was not matched by an adequate engine because the Egyptians failed to develop an engine that was intended to be fitted to the Indian fuselage. The resultant HF-24 Marut was underpowered and could not be utilized to full potential.

A good aircraft can only be produced around an engine of proven capabilities. But this lesson we had learnt the hard way for the second time while developing light combat helicopter, the Dhruv. When we negotiated a licence production arrangement with the French for Allouette helicopters, we did not lay enough emphasis on acquiring the know-how for helicopter engines. So India had to buy a foreign engine for the Dhruv. It is this factor of a large percentage of foreign involvement that has hitherto kept India in dependency mode for its weaponry.

When Dhruv and Arjun projects were unveiled by the DRDO, the emphasis was on building the weapon platform around a foreign engine even as an indigenous engine development project was undertaken for both the aircraft and the tank; it was promised that in the series production the indigenous engine would be installed. That has not happened. The indigenous tank engine has been abandoned and the Kaveri engine for the LCA is in the doldrums.

This factor and corruption in defence deals have induced the UPA government to introduce a new procurement policy with two planks- buy and make - buy the whole weapons platforms to fulfil urgent needs of the armed forces, and get the technology arrangement similar to the licenced production of good old days. Its seeks to offset up to 30 per cent to seed indigenous capabilities on which future systems could be created; and put in place indigenous design and development capabilities.

The runaway success of the BrahMos supersonic missile system - a India- Russia joint venture- has prompted the defence mandarins to adopt "joint development" route for all future weapons projects with any nation that is a leader in a particular weapon system. Of course "joint development" implies that there would be equal contribution in expertise by all those who are involved in the project. In one sense this will give full play to all the competence that the Indian military-industrial complex has accumulated over the years of licenced production. On the other hand the other partner would fill in the gaps in know-how on the Indian side. This would make for the maintenance of time schedules and thus prevent cost overruns as BrahMos has proved.

While this will ensure that India will get state-of-the-art weaponry its armed forces need it must lead automatically to indigenous design and development of the next generation of that particular weapons platform. It should be a process of natural progression so that acquired expertise is not lost. This is what had happened in the "licenced production" days. Examples are galore. In the HDW submarine case, the trained manpower was lost because there were no follow-on orders; 155mm howitzer product improvement suffered because the contract was cancelled in the wake of the Bofors scandal and there was no attempt to protect national interest by reverse-engineering the system to produce the next variant of the howitzer which we are now trying to buy from abroad again; the upgradation of the 105mm Indian Field Gun suffered because the Gun Development Team at Jabalpur was disbanded.

In the final analysis it is necessary to put on record that whatever the DRDO has achieved in the past three decades has come in the teeth of embargos and sanctions to prevent India from catching up with the rest of the developed world. That the attempt has failed is proved by the signing of the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement-something that would not have happened if Indian scientists had not attained the high level of competence that made it impossible for anyone to ignore them in a highly competitive milieu. India has reached a point where it can replicate in its military-industrial complex what others have done in space and nuclear energy.

Vinod Vedi, Syndicate Features

No Army report on Chinese plans

Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Aug 6 – While denying that the Army Command has submitted a report on China’s ambitious plan to divert Brahmaputra River from the point of the ‘Great Bend’, Ministry of External Affairs admitted that it is aware of media reports about Beijing’s plans. Union Government’s ambivalent stands on the issue came in the face of fresh reports that China plans to construct a mega hydro power project just 30 km away from Arunachal Pradesh border. New Delhi today confirmed that Beijing has built a road connecting Lhasa with Medog County, near Arunachal Pradesh.

India and China have established an expert-level mechanism to deliberate and cooperate on all issues regarding trans-border Rivers. India-China Expert Level Mechanism on Trans-border Rivers had held three meetings between September 2007 and April. The expert level mechanism provides the inter-governmental forum to discuss relevant issues relating to India-China trans-border Rivers, said Minister of State for External Affairs, Preneet Kaur in a Rajya Sabha reply.

Referring to the reports about China’s proposal, Minister of State for External Affairs said Chinese Foreign Ministry has denied such reports.

Government of India is monitoring the flows in the Brahmaputra River.

The Minister, however, admitted that China has constructed a road linking Lhasa to Medog County in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Medak County is the place where China has reportedly proposed to construct 40,000 MW power project. The area is just 30 Km from Arunachal Pradesh.

“Government of India is giving careful and special attention to the development of infrastructure in the border areas opposite China, in order to meet our security requirements and also to facilitate the economic development of these areas,” said the Minister.

Meanwhile, the External Affairs Ministry for the first commented on deployment of the Sukhoi Fighter planes at Tezpur air base. Deployment of a defence aircraft is undertaken keeping in view the operational requirement of the services from time to time.

India and China have established a strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity. There are regular political contacts between the leaders of the two countries, said Kaur in reply to a question by Kumar Deepak Das.

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