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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 30 Sep 09

Indian Express

Indian Express

Indian Express

Indian Express

Indian Express

Asian Age

Kashmir Times

Telegraph India

Asian Age

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Hindustan Times

DNA India

DNA India

Fighting nuclear terror biggest challenge: PM
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 29
Warning that the spectre of nuclear terrorism posed a formidable challenge to the global community, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today deeply regretted that the global non-proliferation regime had not succeeded in preventing nuclear proliferation.

“Global non-proliferation, to be successful, should be universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory and linked to the goal of complete nuclear disarmament,” he said inaugurating a three-day international conference on peaceful uses of nuclear energy organised to commemorate the birth centenary of Dr Homi Bhabha, who pioneered India’s nuclear programme.

His remarks came just days after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, thus bringing renewed pressure on India to sign the CTBT and the NPT.

Amid the raging debate over the success of the Pokhran II and suggestions that the country should conduct a few more nuclear tests, the PM made it clear that India was committed to voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. “India is proud of its proliferation record and is committed to global efforts of preventing the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

He also announced that as a nuclear weapon state and a responsible member of the international community, India would constructively participate in the negotiations of a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) in the conference on disarmament.

He firmly told those questioning India’s credentials as a responsible nuclear power that the country had an updated, effective and comprehensive export control system and remained committed to not transferring sensitive technology and equipment to other countries that did not possess them. In this connection, he said the IAEA had a crucial role in promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy, while reducing proliferation risks.

Supporting US President Barack Obama’s timely initiative to convene a global summit on nuclear safety in 2010, he also took note of the fact that Washington and Moscow were negotiating further cuts in their nuclear arsenals. “States with substantial nuclear arsenals should take meaningful steps on nuclear disarmament,” he added.

He was of the view if the “power of atom” was used for the universal good, the possibilities were unbounded. “But if we do not, the consequences would also be devastating for the peace and progress that all nations seek for their people,” he said.

He underlined that if India was able to manage its nuclear energy programme well, its three-stage strategy could yield potentially 470,000 MW of power by 2050. This would sharply reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and would be a major contribution to global efforts to combat climate change.

Nuclear programme has allowed India to "think big": PM

Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 29, 2009, 16:32 IST

Prime minister Manmohan Singh said today the country's nuclear energy programme has allowed India to "think big" and that power from nuclear plants would reduce its over dependence on fossil fuels and combat climate change over the next decades.

He also said there will be "huge opportunities for the global nuclear industry to participate" in India's nuclear industry which is "poised for major expansion".

India sees increased power production as key to sustain its economic growth. The country currently relies on imports for about 70 per cent of its oil needs and the Planning Commission estimates that about 600 million people are not on the national grid.

Adressing an international conference on peaceful uses of atomic energy here, Singh said that 470,000 megawatts of energy could come from Indian nuclear power stations by 2050.

"This will sharply reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and will be a major contribution to global efforts to combat climate change."

The prime minister told delegates at the conference that India is looking forward to the "full and effective" implementation of the agreements it signed with the international community and their reciprocal commitments.

Lapses force Army to hold fresh inquiries
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
The reassembling of the court of inquiry (COI) to investigate alleged irregularities by a Lieutenant General in the procurement of dry rations has focused attention on the shoddy manner in which some recent sensitive and high-profile cases were handled.

Procedural irregularities in conducting COIs, which are meant to investigate an issue and fix responsibility, thereby forming the basis for further corrective action, and subsequent legal proceedings have resulted in the Army having to carry out the entire process afresh.

This has raised the issue of availability and commitment of a large number of senior officers, utilising valuable man-hours in terms of witnesses, support and administrative staff and expending government resources for reiterating the exercise.
While in some cases COI proceedings have been quashed by High Courts, in others, Army Headquarters directed reassembling of the COI after the proceedings were forwarded by lower formations for ratification.

The reassembling of the COI in General Sahni’s case comes after the Armed Forces Tribunal this month quashed earlier proceedings and ordered the Army to initiate fresh time-bound investigations.

Army sources point out that the most common violation while conducting COIs is non-compliance of Army Rule (AR) 180. A letter by the Army Headquarters issued on July 2, 2007, states that it is mandatory to comply with AR 180. This rule gives an accused the right to be present throughout the inquiry, to give any statement or evidence to cross-examine any witness in matters where his character or military reputation is affected.

The Army Headquarters also ordered reassembling of the COI in the case of Brig Bhupinder Singh, Commandant of the Kumaon Regimental Centre, on similar grounds. He had been accused of misbehaving with a junior officer’s wife and some other irregularities, but the COI had acquitted him of the primary charge last month. Another COI has been reassembled to investigate allegations against a Major General form the Army Medical Corps. He had been accused of supervisory lapses and some other irregularities, sources revealed.

A COI presided by a Major General has reassembled in central India to investigate alleged misappropriation of operational funds. The COI had reportedly established several irregularities, but there were procedural lapses in its conduct.

Sources in the Army Headquarters said a number of other COIs forwarded to New Delhi are being perused and some of them may have to be reassembled. A number of cases filed by senior officers, including a Major General, are also pending before the high courts or the AFT where proceedings have been challenged for not affording them full opportunity under AR 180 or some other procedural lapses.

J&K: Army jawan, police officer commit suicide

September 29, 2009 23:57 IST

An Indian Army [ Images ] jawan and a Special Police Officer allegedly committed suicide by shooting themselves with their service weapons in Jammu and in Doda district respectively, a police spokesman said on Tuesday.

Sepoy Vibodh Bharti of Tamil Nadu serving with the 85 Armoured Regiment, who was on guard duty on Monday night at Ratnu Chak Military Station on the outskirt of the city, shot himself with his service rifle, he said.

His colleagues shifted him to Military Hospital, where he was declared brought dead, he said, and added that the army had instituted a court of inquiry into the incident.

In another incident, SPO Satish Kumar shot himself dead with his own service rifle at his residence at Kulhand village in Doda district late last evening after a tiff with his wife, he said.

His wife also consumed poison and was rushed to a local hospital in serious condition.

The police have initiated inquest proceedings in both the cases, the spokesman said.

Indo-US defence drill off


New Delhi, Sept. 29: A dozen officers of the armed forces preparing to go for a joint drill with the US were left red-faced after their trip to Japan was cancelled, an action that has raised questions on where the India-US military-to-military relations that have intensified over the last five years were headed.

The officers — eight from the navy, three from the army and one from the air force — were called to New Delhi from their separate stations across the country. They were preparing for the last 10 days in the capital.

The armed forces had got an “in-principle” approval for the exercise — an annual feature — last December, a navy source said. But a defence ministry source said, “the file for the requisite permissions was not moved in time”.

The source added that the defence ministry had “cleared it”. For international military exercises the armed forces also have to take clearances from the finance and external affairs ministries. The personnel involved are also checked and cleared by the Intelligence Bureau.

The failure of the armed forces to send a team to a regular annual drill immediately cast doubts on claims that India-US military relations were being strengthened. This was because there were other drills that could not be held this year.

In April, a contingent of the US naval special forces — called Seals — had reached Goa for an exercise with the Indian Navy’s Marine Commandos. Five days before the drill was to start the armed forces were asked to defer it. The move annoyed Pentagon.

In another case, after the permission for a drill was given at the last minute, a US officer told his counterpart: “I believe you guys in Delhi also reach late for your own wedding.”

An India-China army exercise (named “Hand in Hand”), said to be annual event since December 2007, has also been dropped from this year’s calendar.

Exercise Habu Nag, the drill for which the 12 officers were preparing, was to be held in Okinawa, Japan. Last year the exercise was held in Visakhapatnam — the third since it was initiated.

Defence ministry sources are quick to refute insinuations that the India-US military relationship was hitting stumbling blocks. They point to two major exercises scheduled in October. The latest in the series of Cope India — an air forces and paratroopers drill — is slated to be held in Agra from October 19 to 24.

Coinciding with it, the latest version of Exercise Yudh Abhyas is to be held near Babina. In scale and scope both these exercises are much bigger than Habu Nag. For Cope India, the US air force is deploying a C-17 Globemaster heavy lift transport aircraft, a C-130J Super Hercules and threeC-130H transport aircraft.

The Indian Air Force complement includes an IL-76 heavy lifter, four AN-32 transporters and two Mi-17 helicopters. For Yudh Abhyas, the US is deploying a big contingent of Stryker vehicles for the drill with the Indian army’s armoured corps. The Stryker deployment will be the largest by the US military outside Iraq and Afghanistan.

'Pak must conduct reappraisal of its efforts to engage India'

Agencies Posted online: Tuesday , Sep 29, 2009 at 1420 hrs

Islamabad : Pakistan must conduct a reappraisal of its efforts to engage India and it should independently ascertain whether certain persons allegedly involved in militancy enjoy protection and if so, why? Asking for reasons for the current hold up in the bilateral dialogue with India, the Pakistani media has called upon its government to show greater flexibility.

Calling India and Pakistan must find means to move forward, The News daily commenting on the recent meeting of Foreign Ministers of two countries counseled its own government that Mumbai cannot be forgotten.

Nor should be attempts be made to find out who was responsible be abandoned as this would raise the possibility of more terrorism of a similar nature. But other mainstream Pakistani media said if India refuses to hold dialogue, Islamabad should take up its substantive issues with India like Kashmir issue, sharing of water and the situation in Afghanistan globally.

The influential Dawn newspaper, in an editorial titled 'Stalemate', acknowledged that there was "not much more that (Pakistan) can or should do" to ensure the resumption of the composite dialogue, which was suspended by India in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks.

It said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's suggestion that he would be willing to travel to India if it could help "change attitudes there towards engagement with Pakistan" was a move that is "frankly unadvisable" as Islamabad has "already made all the gestures necessary to indicate its willingness to talk".

The daily advised that the "foremost lesson for Pakistan" is that when the two sides finally re-engage, "and this is inevitable given the outstanding issues between the two countries Pakistan should demand that the big issues, Kashmir, water, Afghanistan, etc, should be addressed upfront".

The Daily Times, in its editorial titled "Indo-Pak dialogue: some basic questions", called for a comprehensive reappraisal of Pakistan's efforts to engage India in a dialogue. It should decide whether future talks should get India to move towards an overhaul of bilateral relations or the resumption of the composite dialogue "just for the sake of talking".

"In short, does Pakistan want this exercise to be meaningful or is it simply to concede to more of the same which, in terms of results, was almost nothing?" it said. The Daily Times also called for a "re-examination of the regional status quo among the stakeholders in Pakistan" before resuming talks with India.

"If disputes are not settled, as they are unlikely to since India, for the most part does not even accept them as disputes, what are Pakistan's options? Since the talks will not happen in a vacuum, attention must be paid to global opinion about this issue," it said, adding that "the world is siding with India".

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

From Today's Papers 29 Sep 09

Kashmir Times

Kashmir Times

Indian Express

Kashmir Times

The Pioneer


Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Times of India

DNA India

DNA India

Hindustan Times

Indian Express

Indian Express

Defiant Iran tests long-range missiles

Associated Press, Monday September 28, 2009, Tehran

Iranian state television reported on Monday that the country's Revolutionary Guards had launched fresh missiles tests late on Sunday.

The IRIB news network quoted the head of the Revolutionary Guard Air Force, General Hossein Salami, as saying that Shahab-1 and Shahab-2 missiles, with a range between 300 and 700 kilometres (186-435 miles) had been successfully fired.

Salami claimed during the launch multiple warheads were applied to the Iranian mid-range missiles for the first time during the testing.

The test of the mid-range missiles was the second stage of the "Great Prophet 4" military exercises that began on Sunday and long-range missiles were expected to be tested on Monday, the IRIBB report added.

Sunday evening's test follows earlier claims that Iran had tested a multiple missile launcher for the first time during an earlier test on Sunday.

Both tests came days after the US and its allies condemned Tehran over a newly revealed underground nuclear facility that was being constructed in the country.

The Revolutionary Guard controls Iran's missile programme.

Sunday's tests came two days after Western countries disclosed that Iran had been secretly developing a previously undeclared, underground uranium enrichment facility.

The nuclear site in the mountains near the holy city of Qom is believed to be inside a heavily guarded, underground facility belonging to the Revolutionary Guard, according to a document sent by US President Barack Obama's administration to lawmakers.

After strong condemnations from the US and its allies and a demand to open the site to international scrutiny, Iran said on Saturday it would allow UN nuclear inspectors to examine the site.

Nuclear experts said the details that have emerged about the site and the fact that it was being developed secretly were strong indications that Iran's nuclear programme is not only for peaceful purposes, as the country has long maintained.

Pak seeks military equipment for anti-terror campaign

September 28, 2009 23:10 IST

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [ Images ] on Monday asked friendly countries to provide state-of-the-art military equipment needed for Pakistan's campaign against militants.

During a meeting with a delegation representing the French Senate Committee on foreign affairs, defence and armed forces, Gilani said enhanced support is needed from friendly countries, particularly to build the capacity of Pakistan's law enforcement agencies.

India has expressed concern over Pakistan's efforts to acquire hi-tech weapon systems in the name of the operations against the Taliban [ Images ], saying such equipment could also be deployed against it.

Gilani said Pakistan has "exhausted most of its vital laser-guided ammunition in the military operation against militants and terrorists" in Malakand division and the tribal belt.

This ammunition needs to be urgently replaced along with the "supply of night vision devices, helicopters and drone technology" for taking the ongoing operations to their successful conclusion, he said.

LeT fights Taliban in NWFP for Pakistan

Sajna Menon

Mon, Sep 28, 2009 11:13:59 IST

ACCORDING TO reports, Lashkar-e-Taiba is helping the Pakistan army fight against the Taliban by setting up defence groups in villages.

Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Sayeed, has ordered his commanders to move to the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP). The local tribesmen seem to be wary of the Pakistani Army’s presence in the area, which has helped build up support for the Taliban. Hence, the elders in the area have invited the LeT commanders to take over the fight and campaign from the army.

Small armies or groups are being formed in villages as a defence mechanism against the Taliban to stop the organisation from gaining more power over the NWFP. Interestingly, these groups, comprising of villagers are also called Lashkars. They are trained in arms but refrain from suicide bombings that the LeT is known for.

These lashkars are being organised in areas like Dir and Buner in the NWFP. Khall has the largest group of Lashkars, amounting to 10,000 local people. The main reason that the LeT is aiding the army to fight against the Taliban could be the ideological differences between the two organisations. It is also a chance for LeT to set up ground level bodies and gain some control in the province.

However, the intervention of LeT may not be a very good sign for India. LeT is known as a terrorist organisation and has been banned in many states like India, Russia, UK, US and Australia. Pakistan has also officially denounced LeT. The body has also come under the radar for many terrorists activities in India. Lashkar men have been accused of heightening tensions between India and Pakistan.

The main objective behind LeT's formation was Kashmir Jihad. It has done everything possible to make things difficult for India, from guerrilla warfare to suicide bombings. India has alleged that Lashkar men have infiltrated the border many a times, to train Kashmiri youth to fight for Jihad.

Hence the amount of control that the organisation would gain in NWFP province is unsettling for India. With the support given to local tribesmen, it is likely that the locals in the area might slowly fall to Jihadist ideology and become new warriors in the fight against India.

The organisation is known for recruiting and training men and women to fight with modern arms and tactics. Once the Taliban is flushed out, their attention will once again turn to India. NWFP has witnessed anarchy for ages. Its economy, education and employment rates are abysmal. Hence it is easy for the LeT men to indoctrinate the youth from here into their outfit. The growing popularity of the organisation among the local men is dangerous for India.

In spite of banning the organisation in international forums, the fact that Pakistani military is taking the support of LeT chiefs in another matter of concern. Pakistan needs to learn lessons from the past. The Mujahideen and the Taliban were once formed and trained by Pakistan to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Now the Taliban are set to take over in many of its regions. If today, the Pakistan army helps the LeT men to breed in their soil, it wouldn’t be long before another conflict erupts between the state and LeT.

* UK seeks to boost defence ties with India

H S Rao

London, Sep 28 (PTI) India and the UK are set to boost defence ties with British Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth planning to undertake a key visit to New Delhi soon.

Britain has said there is tremendous scope for strengthening defence cooperation between India and the UK.

"India is growing in importance economically and politically. There is a partnership growing between Britain and India and there is a very, very significant opportunity out there to forge defence cooperation," Ainsworth said.

Speaking at the 'Labour Friends of India' reception, which was also attended by the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Ainsworth said he planned to visit India soon.

Indian High Commissioner Nalin Surie underlined the growing "strategic partnership" between the two countries.

* Indian Air Force denies "espionage" incident


New Delhi, Sep 28 (PTI) The Indian Air Force Monday said none of its senior officers was made to part with sensitive information by a foreign embassy official posing as a Defence Ministry joint secretary.

"The IAF strongly denies the media report written on the basis of hearsay. The report is full of untruth. At that senior level, no sensitive information is discussed over phone," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander T K Singha said here.

However, he said, the report of a circular on information security from the Defence Ministry's chief security officer routinely alerted officials, both in the Ministry and the Services headquarters, and warned them about the risks of discussing security matters over phone.

Indian Army To Buy Specialized Weaponry

India has initiated a fast-track programme for the procurement of of $300 million worth of weaponry and equipment for the elite special forces. Under the program, around 10,000 elite troops will be provided weaponry and equipment in the next 15 months which will be bought from the global market.

Indian Defence Ministry officials said that India’s Defence Acquisition Agency (DAC), the highest weapons acquisition agency has recently cleared the $300 million fast-track modernization program for the infantry. The global bids for this specialized weaponry will be floated in a couple of months.

Indian Army sources said that the 10,000 elite troops will be trained with the advanced weapons and equipment with the help of Israel. The intensive training will be held at an Infantry Training School, in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

The weapons and equipment to be procured under the program will include Helmut Mounted Display systems, anti tank rifles, anti mine boots, software embedded communication systems, Global Positioning System (GPS), thermal imaging sights, precision guided ammunition, protective clothing and other equipment. The Helmut subsystem would be light and will also house the microphone unit for the radio and Head Up Display and a Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) gas mask. The soldier’s personal computer would be attachable. The radio sub system would enable soldiers to transmit and receive complex voice and data signals.

The Indian Army had already envisaged a multi-billion dollar modernization programme for the infantry soldier called the F-INSAS (Futuristic Infantry Soldier as a System) in 2006. The objective of the programme is to enhance the capabilities of infantry soldier in terms of lethality, mobility, survivability, sustainability, situational awareness and battle command and make him a multi-mission war fighter.

Under the F-INSAS program the Indian Army plans to buy new Anti-tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) launchers, bullet proof vehicles, anti-material rifles, new generation carbines battle surveillance radars, Thermal Imaging Sights for ATGM launchers, ground sensors, secured communication systems, precision guided ammunition, laser rangefinder to provide the soldier with range and direction information and light clothing and bullet proof jackets. The Indian Army would commence trials for the F-INSAS prototype from 2011 and aims to equip its entire infantry troops comprising 500,000 by 2020.

The F-INSAS programme was jointly conceived by the Indian Army and the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). However, the Indian Army has virtually rejected the involvement of DRDO in the F-INSAS project estimated to be over $3 billion. The Army has termed the 25-kilogram weight of the entire personal system for the soldier as too heavy. This includes his uniform, the boots, handheld GPS system, night vision equipment, helmet, personal weapon, etc.

The prototypes and concepts were conceived by the DRDO and were deemed unfit by the Indian Army. Most of the weaponry will now be sourced internationally.

While the procurement for the F-INSAS programme is yet to begin, the Indian Army is relieved that some of the hi- tech weaponry is coming their way through the latest fast-track acquisitions.

China To Attack India 'Only If Provoked'

2009-07-20 21:01:50

Last Updated: 2009-07-20 22:19:05

China to attack India `only if provoked`

By Sify News Desk

``There is one scenario where there is possibility for (a Sino-Indian) war: an aggressive Indian policy toward China, a `New Forward Policy` may aggravate border disputes and push China to use force - despite China`s appeal, as far as possible, for peaceful solutions.``

So says a scathing Chinese editorial published in response to Indian defence analyst Bharat Verma`s assertion that China may attack India before 2012.

The article, `Illusion of ``China`s Attack on India Before 2012` written By Chen Xiaochen, was published on July 17 in, which bills itself as `the first online English publication dedicated to reviewing China`s finance/ economy/business.``

Noting that ``the 2000 km border between China and India has been a notable absence from press headlines in the years since then-Indian PM Vajpayee`s 2003 visit to Beijing,`` Chen adds that ``Tensions, however, have risen again as India announced last month a plan to deploy two additional army divisions and two air force squadrons of Su-30 Fighter Unit, some 60,000 soldiers in total, in a disputed border area in the southern part of Tibet, which India claims as its state of Arunachal Pradesh.``

``Adding fuel to the flames,`` he continues, ``is an article by Bharat Verma, editor of Indian Defense Review, predicting that China will attack India before 2012, leaving only three years to Indian government for preparation.``

Describing Verma`s arguments as `vague` and `lacking documentation,` he notes that even if China were to consider such an act, ``The Western powers would not take kindly to a Chinese conflict with India, leaving China rightfully reluctant to use force in any case other than extreme provocation.``

``If China were to be involved in a war within the next three years, as unlikely as that seems, the adversary would hardly be India. The best option, the sole option, open for the Chinese government is to negotiate around the disputed territory,`` he argues.

``Consider the 1959-1962 conflict, the only recorded war between China and India in the long history of their civilizations. After some slight friction with China in 1959, the Indian army implemented aggressive action known as its Forward Policy. The Chinese Army made a limited but successful counterattack in 1962,`` says Chen, who is described as `a journalist of editorial and comments in China Business News.``

``Now,`` he says, ``it seems `back to the future`. Mr. Verma asserts another war will happen before 2012, a half century after the last, regrettable one. India has started to deploy more troops in the border area, similar to its Forward Policy 50 years ago. Is Mr. Verma`s China-bashing merely a justification for more troops deployed along the border? Will India`s `New Forward Policy`, as the old one did 50 years ago, trigger a `2012 war?` ``

``The answers lie mainly on the Indian side,`` says Chen. ``Given China`s relatively small military garrison in Tibet, Indian`s 60,000 additional soldiers may largely break the balance. If India is as `pacific` as Mr. Verma says, and is sincere in its border negotiation, China-India friendship will remain. After all, China shares a long and mostly friendly cultural exchange with India as well as other neighbours.

``Now China is seeking deeper cooperation, wider coordination, and better consensus with India, especially in the global recession, and peace is a precondition for doing so. China wants to say, `We are on the same side,` as the Indian Ambassador did in a recent interview in China. Thus, `China will attack India before 2012` is a provocative and inflammatory illusion,`` Chen concludes.

Monday, 28 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 28 Sep 09






Better pay sought for havildar

Patiala, September 27
The Indian Ex-Service League, Punjab and Chandigarh, has demanded better pay scale for havildar and subedar-major.

In a statement issued in this regard today, league president Prabhjot Singh Chhatwal said they had sent a memorandum to defence minister AK Antony requesting the government to change the pay band for havildars and equivalent ranks from PB-I to PB-II and subedar-majors and equivalent ranks from PB-II to PB-III.

While stressing that soldiers of the rank of havildar were the backbone of the defence forces and subedar-majors chief executors of strategy in war, Chhatwal said the two ranks had been crushed by partial recommendations of the sixth pay commission.

The league has also urged the government to issue orders for one rank, one pension for the junior commissioned officers, senior non-commissioned officers and other ranks. — TNS






Gorshkov deal inked in ‘haste’


Navy just took a ‘cursory’ look at the aircraft carrier and ‘thought’ it could repair it. The force realised its mistake only after signing the multi-million dollar contract.


New Delhi, September 27

India signed the multi-million dollar deal of decommissioned Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov merely on “visual examination in as-is condition” and Navy “thought” ship could be repaired.


After signing the contract in 2004, the opening up the equipment for detailed examination and survey of the state of the hull structure, systems and cabling, it emerged that these could not be repaired and hence would have to be replaced with new ones, says Vice Admiral SPS Cheema.


The contract for the aircraft carrier was signed in January 2004 for which the “work package was drawn up based on visual examination in ‘as-is’ condition wherein it was thought that the majority of equipment, systems and hull structures could be repaired while the electronic equipment could be renewed,” Cheema said in a reply to an RTI application filed by Subhash Chandra Agrwal.


“This has resulted in additional work and in the interest to endure operation efficacy of the ship, these additional works have been accepted for consideration. The extra works have in turn resulted in increase in the project cost,” he said.


The deal which was signed for $ 974 million has escalated by about 300 per cent to $ 2.9 billion, according to sources. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India had also slammed the Indian Navy for the deal in which it would be “acquiring, belatedly, a second hand ship with a limited life span by paying significantly more than what it would have paid for a new ship.”


The report without naming the ship said that it was not an aircraft carrier but more of a cruiser equipped with a flight deck which had to be configured for a different type of service from that of its original design. “The vendor’s shipyard that was to undertake the repair and re-equipping work, had neither repaired ships of this magnitude nor had any work experience on aircraft carriers,” the report had said.


Cheema refuted the report saying the “basis on which the report has arrived such a conclusion is not known, as per the data available from internet and other sources, a new carrier of size of Gorshkov, is likely to cost anything between three and four billion US dollars and that too understandably without the spares, training, infrastructure and documentation cost.” He said it is not feasible to buy a new aircraft carrier commercially off-the shelf. — PTI





Krishna meets Qureshi; India rejects backchannel talks offer

NDTV Correspondent, Sunday September 27, 2009, New York


A day after talks between the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan, the Foreign Ministers of the two countries met in New York on Sunday. The meeting lasted nearly two hours.


After the meeting, Krishna addressed the media. He described his meeting with Qureshi as 'useful, candid and constructive'.


"We told Pakistan that India still has serious concerns about terror groups there and underlined the need for concrete and effective steps against these entities," Krishna said.


We also told Pakistan that any meaningful dialogue process needs an environment free from violence, Krishna added.


He also said that the issue of Balochistan did not come up during the meeting.


Despite mentioning that Pakistan has taken some steps against those behind 26/11 attacks, Krishna underlined that a case against Hafiz Saeed also concerns India.


India, however, rejected backchannel talks with Pakistan and said that if a front channel is open, what's the need of backchannel.


Later, addressing mediapersons, the Pakistan's Foreign Minister said that the it was a constructive, frank, honest and positive meeting.


"I minced no words, very clearly spelt out Pak objectives," said Qureshi.


He said issues such as J&K, Siachen, Sir Creeks, Wullar and water were raised during the meeting.


"We cannot confine our discussions to just one issue. We should discuss all issues that form part of composite dialogue," he said.


He further said that Pakistan would start the formal trial in the Mumbai attacks on October 3.


Referring to the rejection of backchannel talks by India, Qureshi said, "If India wants front channel talks, that's a good thing."


The Pakistan Foreign Minister said that he has given India a roadmap for the road forward, with a time frame.


On Saturday, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Bashir Malik held one-on-one talks in New York. The two diplomats discussed the role of Jamaat-ud-Dawaa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed's role in the Mumbai attacks.


The Pakistani side said it needs time to probe Saeed's role in the attack. The two secretaries also reviewed the 26/11 probe in detail.





'Many Chinese still see India as their main enemy'

Press Trust of India, Sunday September 27, 2009, London


Nearly 47 years after the two countries fought a war, many Chinese still perceive India as their main enemy, a British newspaper has claimed.


In an article ahead of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic, The Sunday Times said: "Not everyone in Beijing speaks in the silky language of the foreign ministry. Curiously, the enemy most often spoken of is India."


Interestingly, the censors in China permit alarmingly frank discussion on the Internet of the merits of another war against India to secure the Tibetan plateau, the report said.


However, a retired Chinese officer has claimed that those serving in the People's Liberation Army have no "devotion" to their country.


"Compared with our last war against India in 1962, our equipment is much better but the devotion to country and people of our officers and men is much worse," the paper quoted an unnamed officer as saying.


Even, veterans who know the PLA from the inside say that despite all its shiny new kit, such grandiose ideas mask the reality of a force "that has no recent battle experience and is riddled with corruption".


They describe a system of bribes ranging from 10,000 yuan (909 pounds) to get a good post for a private soldier to 30,000 yuan for a place at military college, the report said.


"If corruption in the army continues, ideology will decay and open the way for religion, while the promotion system risks causing a mutiny," the newspaper quoted General Zhang Shutian, a political commissar, as having said recently.






China at 60: Showing off

Sunday September 27, 2009

Sixty years ago when Chairman Mao and his comrades-in-arms established the Peoples Republic of China, the world did not know how to react. Winston Churchill's description of Russia - A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma - seemed to fit China of 1949 more than Russia.


At that time, China was a desperately poor country which had just come out of a long, bloody and enervating civil war that brought the communists to power. For much of the first thirty years of its existence, New China, as the People's Republic calls itself, the country struggled to come to grips with its enormous problems brought about by a huge population and grinding poverty. It was as if the country and its leaders were following Mao's dictum: Once all struggle is grasped, miracles are possible.


The struggle seemed unending.


But the miracle happened two years after Chairman Mao's death as China opened its economy in 1978.


Ever since then, the world has watched in awe, its rapid economic progress and peaceful rise.


The change is astonishing but not entirely unexpected. Thirty years of sustained economic reforms and consequent prosperity has given a new confidence to the leadership. The Chinese economy is now the third largest in the world. Nothing symbolises this change than Shenzhen, a city on the edge of China's southern tip, closer to Hong Kong than to Beijing. A simple but radical idea by Mao's chosen successor, Deng Xiaoping, not only transformed Shenzhen from a sleepy fishing village to a throbbing commercial centre but also fundamentally altered the Chinese economy. This also set the stage for China's rise as an economic and military superpower


Back in 1978, no one even in China had perhaps heard of Shenzhen. Most of its residents were farmers, barely surviving on less than 5,000 yuans a year. Thirty years later, the decision to set up a special economic zone here has benefitted most residents in this boom town the now have an average annual income of over 40,000 yuans. But if Shenzhen represents the new, brash China, Shanghai, perhaps the most well-known Chinese city across the world continues to retain the importance it had even a century ago. Shanghai is China's 2nd most populous city, and also its most cosmopolitan.


Now, Shanghai is planning to go a step further to transform itself as one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. The Maglev or magnetic levitation train is an indication of this future trend. Plush, fast, furiously fast, at 301 km an hour, the maglev is not yet the most favourite means of transport in Shanghai but it certainly is the city's pride and like the train, the new development area in Pudong is futuristic.


Perhaps because of this single-minded focus, China's next big event after the Olympics, the World Expo is coming to Shanghai in 2010. Like everything else in China, the scale is grand, indeed intimidating. 150 nations, 5,000 acres of exhibition space, the entire manufacturing world will be in Shanghai for six months trying to impress the Chinese, easily the world's largest consumer base.


But amidst all the hype and hoopla, there are tiny, very tiny cautioning voices about what remains to be done. As a senior Chinese minister says: "Please don't go by what you see in the big cities. We still have a large population that lives in absolute poverty, earning less than two dollars a day and are poorer than many SAARC countries.


Coming from a minister, this admission is all the more remarkable but at another level it also shows why the world should watch China more keenly then ever. Despite monstrous economic progress and an assured place at the top of international order, Beijing continues to remain realistic. Perhaps that's the secret behind China's transformation.


Today China is the fulcrum around which the world revolves, be it in tackling the global economic crisis or in attempts to rein in a rouge nation-state like North Korea.


Every time one visits China, one can't but notice the giant economic strides made by large parts of China. Even in Tibet, China has managed to raise the economic stakes of the new generation of Tibetans to a higher level, blunting in the process much of the pro-Dalai Lama sentiments. Today, the US is forced to accept China as an equal in most international forums. Its military is modernising rapidly, pouring in billions of dollars in building capability that is focused on making China a military super-power within the next decade.


Years ago, Chairman Mao had said: In waking a tiger, use a long stick. The world is still wary of China and keeps a distance.


On the eve of China's 60th anniversary celebrations on October 1, the world perhaps needs to keep this in mind and realize that in the case of New China, political power does not merely flow out of the barrel of the gun but is perhaps determined more by the currency reserve in a country's exchequer.





Cutting AfPak Gordian knot
How the US has become a problem
by B.G. Verghese

EVEN as the United States last week piloted a unanimous resolution through the UN Security Council calling for universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and stricter controls over potential proliferation, London’s Sunday Times reproduced the letter A.Q Khan sent his Dutch wife for publication in 2005 as insurance against his being harmed by the Pakistani authorities whilst under interrogation in Islamabad. He disclosed that he had on instructions from above both supplied and received nuclear-related material and technology from China and North Korea and supplied nuclear technology to Iran and Libya.

Further, an ISI functionary, Mr Khalid Khwaja, told Islamabad’s ARY TV on September 9 that he had arranged at least five meetings for Osama bin Laden with Mr Nawaz Sharif, a former Prime Minister, and had himself held over a hundred meetings with the Al-Qaeda chief before 9/11. All these “revelations” have been well documented and known for years.

In a season of confessions, President Zardari told retired Pakistani officials on July 7 that “militants and extremists were … deliberately created and nurtured (by the Pakistan State) as a policy to achieve some short-term tactical objectives” (obviously against India and within Afghanistan). These “strategic assets” and “heroes of yesteryear until 9/11 … began to haunt us as well”. General Musharraf, currently a fugitive from a treason charge at home, next stated that US military aid given it for the war on terror was diverted by Pakistan to bolster its defences against India, a fact well established but persistently denied.

In recent years, Pakistan had emerged as the epicentre of both terror and nuclear proliferation. Most terror trails around the world lead back to Pakistan. But the country remains in denial and pleads that it is possibly a greater victim of terror than anybody else. But pleading innocence and blaming non-state actors will not wash as they are still protected and patronised by Pakistan. This is evident in the manner in which the Jamat-ud-Dawa chief and former head of the now-”banned” LeT has been treated as a state guest even as India has provided evidence of his leading role in the planning and execution of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai. That the mastermind was not caught on the spot with a smoking gun has been used by Islamabad to argue that there is not a scrap of evidence against Hafez Saeed. If so, Osama bin Laden is as blameless.

Despite the most damning evidence of complicity and guilt, Pakistan remains Washington’s favourite frontline protégé that can do no wrong. Now General McChrystal, the US Commander in Afghanistan, has reported that “while India activities” ($1.2 bn investment in the country’s reconstruction and development) largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian (economic and political) influence is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan and India”. This is not the first time that the US has advised the world to do more but India to do less in Afghanistan lest this upset Pakistan. The bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul by suspected ISI agents was one reminder of Islamabad’s strange nervous disorder. It believes that Afghanistan is a privileged backyard that it needs for “strategic depth” against imagined Indian machinations.

This totally sick mindset has seen Pakistan symptomatically tilting at Indian windmills since its very inception to prop up a missing self-identity, a pastime regrettably encouraged by the US and Britain. Thus Pakistan’s established invasion of J&K in 1947 and violation of its related UN commitments thereafter has been converted into a “dispute” with India. This has enabled it to practice blackmail through blatant nuclear proliferation and state-sponsored jihadi terror, with the knowledge and financial assistance of the US despite spawning the Taliban and its offspring and the spread of lethal arms and drug trafficking in its wake. When the US mistakenly uses 9/11 as the reference point for global terror, it ignores the preceding decades of vicious and bloody terror unleashed by its protégé on India which has suffered enormous collateral damage that is scarcely ever acknowledged.

This charade cannot go on. Ms Hillary Clinton, in a moment of candour while testifying before the Senate at her confirmation hearings, described US policies towards Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past couple of decades as “incoherent”. The nature of the “incoherence” was not spelt out but can be listed as permitting the most flagrant and dangerous nuclear proliferation that has gone unpunished, the siphoning away of US arms and finances to build the Taliban to fight the US and India, using drugs as a currency of control and subversion, and providing an inspirational home for exporting radical Islam and related terror.

The Americans now realise they simply cannot win the botched-up war in Afghanistan. What is planned is another “surge”, which could well be followed by a declaration of “victory” and withdrawal while Afghanistan burns and is left under Pakistan-Taliban hegemony. The latter scenario flows from the unrequited $ 7.5bn dollar military assistance promised to Pakistan over the next five years over and above economic aid. This will further entrench the Pakistan military and ISI in what has become a garrison state at the cost of civil-democratic ascendancy. The critic will denounce this thesis as anti-Pakistani. On the contrary, it is the current US-NATO policy that can be so labelled whereas the “demilitarisation” of Pakistan would be a truly pro-Pakistan posture.

The basic fact to understand is that the US is not part of the solution in the AfPak theatre: it is the problem. This does not mean that it should cut and run. On the contrary, it must stay and fund and provide logistical support for a turn-around of the mess it has created, and the reconstruction of Afghanistan to follow. A US-NATO military withdrawal will by itself reduce the military heat while a UN-led regional peace-keeping and enforcement force takes over. The $ 7.5bn military assistance to Pakistan could be drastically cut and civil aid to that country made strictly contingent on a genuine withdrawal of the Pakistan Army to the barracks in its own country except for any legitimate aid-to-civil power role, verifiable disbandment of all jihadi formations and nodal institutions, and an end to state-sponsored cross-border terror.

The military and the ISI must be brought under civilian control and the powers of the National Security Council, that vests the military with civil power, redefined. Equally, a programme for disinvestment or civilianisation of the Fauji Foundation and the other military foundations that dominate economic life must be rolled out. Finally, A.Q Khan must be properly investigated and China’s nefarious role fully exposed. Aid could be leveraged to achieve these ends

A regional conference on Afghanistan under UN auspices, that includes Pakistan, Iran, India, Russia, China and Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbors, along with the US-NATO combine, must create a new framework and timetable for peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan with all forces being placed under a UN, not US, command. Both Pakistan and India could play a military role in this peace-enforcement exercise. The entire arrangement should have the backing of Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga or supreme tribal assembly. This is the way forward. Otherwise, the latest UN resolution will remain another dead letter.







Defence officer discloses 'sensitive info' to fake caller

Rajat Pandit, TNN 28 September 2009, 03:56am IST

NEW DELHI: Believe it or not, a person apparently managed to extract some ``sensitive information'' from a senior military officer over the

telephone by posing as a joint secretary in the defence ministry.


Thrown into a tizzy by this recent audacious espionage bid, a diktat has now been issued in the defence ministry as well as the Army, Navy and IAF HQs, which forbids all officers from discussing ``top-secret, secret or confidential'' matters on phone.


"All communications are vulnerable to interception. Security of information is, therefore, of paramount importance in the Defence HQ security zone,'' says the ominous security alert, issued by South Block's chief security officer on September 16.


The alert specifies that the person who made the telephone call was ``an official from a foreign embassy'' but does not name the country. Sources, however, said Pakistan was the primary suspect.


The entire episode began with the embassy official calling up the landline of a senior IAF officer at Air HQ here. Identifying himself as the joint secretary (air) in MoD with effortless elan, he sought some specific classified information.


Taken in by the act, the unsuspecting IAF officer revealed the ``sensitive information'' to him. ``He failed to check the identity of the caller,'' says the alert. The cat was let out of the bag when the IAF officer apparently called the joint secretary -- this time the correct one -- to check something later.


IAF, however, was quick to strongly deny any classified information had leaked through any such an incident in the recent past. ``We do get such fake calls quite often but we have procedures in place to prevent leakages,'' claimed a senior officer.


But the MoD security alert, being circulated in the corridors of power now, does indeed mention the ``recent'' espionage episode. It goes on to warn that ``every care'' should be taken to prevent the ``inadvertent leakage of classified information'' while discussing matters over the telephone.


A caller's credentials must be established ``beyond any doubt'', says the alert, adding officers would do well to carefully read the relevant chapter on ``security of communication'' in the Manual of Security Instructions, 2008. ``Follow them in letter and spirit,'' it says.


This, of course, is not the first time such calls have been made to elicit information from officers, juniors and seniors alike. ``Some do get conned. In one incident, an officer's wife was fooled into giving his unit's forward location,'' said an officer.


Incidentally, around 10 armed forces personnel have been convicted and dismissed from service after they were found guilty of espionage in the last three-four years.


``Pakistan-based military intelligence organisations and ISI have been identified for involvement in spying activities against India,'' held defence minister A K Antony, during a recent Parliament session.


``Regular security review is carried out from time to time with a view to sensitise the environment for making the security apparatus foolproof. Awareness programmes are also being conducted to sensitise all members of armed forces and their families regarding the threat perception and modus operandi being adopted by the adversaries,'' he added.





American miliary contractors eye India’s $100 bn defence pie

Arun Kumar

September 26th, 2009


WASHINGTON - Eyeing India’s estimated $100 billion defence pie, major US arms suppliers are wooing Indian defence agents and officials as New Delhi embarks on a major military shopping spree to modernise its Soviet-era arsenal, a US media report said.


At the US embassy in New Delhi, defence contractors such as Northrop Grumman are sponsoring little league baseball teams, the companies’ names stitched onto the uniforms, the Washington Post said in a report from New Delhi.


Almost every weekend, there are cocktails and closed-door presentations in the suites of New Delhi’s five-star hotels, hosted by retired admirals and generals from the US armed forces who now work for defence firms, such as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, it said.


“India will look back-generations down the road-at this period as a defining moment for its new, modern military,” the Post cited Roger Rose, chief executive of Lockheed Martin India, which is renting half a wing of New Delhi’s Taj Palace Hotel for a 12-person office.


“I think we can all see that there are a lot of threats shared between our two democracies.”


With its growing military footprint, India is steering away from traditional ally Russia, its main weapons supplier, and looking toward the United States to help upgrade its weapons systems and troop gear, the Post said


India is also pushing the Obama administration to ease the acquisition of US weapons and technology. Already this year, a high-level US government group cleared the way for Lockheed and Boeing to offer India cutting-edge radar technology for fighter jets.


India now has a shopping list that includes 126 fighter jets, 155mm howitzers, long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, vast cargo planes used in long-distance conflicts, high-tech helicopters and deep-water submarines. Boeing is vying with Lockheed-along with French, Russian and Swedish companies and a European consortium-for a fighter jet deal worth about $10 billion.


India is holding flight tests for the fighter jets. Lockheed and Boeing have conducted demonstration flights for Indian celebrities and defence experts.


“America’s relationship to India is maturing and expanding. India is an important global player now,” the Post said citing William S. Cohen, a defence secretary during the Clinton administration who is a member of the US-India Business Council’s board of directors.


(Arun Kumar can be contacted at





‘Chinese see India as enemy, but army lacks devotion’


September 27th, 2009


LONDON - India is the country that is spoken of most often as an enemy in China, a British newspaper reported Sunday, but quoted a retired Chinese officer as saying the men serving the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have no devotion.


Compared with our last war against India in 1962, our equipment is much better but the devotion to country and people, of our officers and men is much worse, the Sunday Times quoted an unnamed retired officer as saying.


In an article on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, the paper said the occasion is set to be marked by the grandest martial parade in the history of modern China, with displays of a new generation of fighters, ballistic missiles, battle tanks and rifles.


Thursday’s parade is certain to provoke an outpouring of virulent nationalism. Curiously, the enemy most often spoken of is India, the paper said.


Censors, otherwise draconian in their grip over Chinese netizens, permit alarmingly frank discussion on the internet on going to war against India over Tibet.


However, the paper said veterans who know the PLA from the inside say that despite all its shiny new kit, such grandiose ideas mask the reality of a force that has no recent battle experience and is riddled with corruption.


It said insiders speak of a system of bribes ranging from 10,000 yuan ($1,400, Rs.70,000) for a good post for a private soldier to 30,000 yuan for a place at military college.


The Sunday Times quoted General Zhang Shutian, a political commissar, saying in a recent address: If corruption in the army continues, ideology will decay and open the way for religion, while the promotion system risks causing a mutiny.


China’s People’s Daily newspaper declared Friday: We must abide by (former Chinese leader) Deng Xiaoping’s instructions that China must be under the leadership of the Communist Party.


If this fundamental principle is altered, China will go backwards, split and fall into chaos, it warned.





IAF all-women team to scale Mt Everest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
An all-woman IAF mountaineering team of 20 officers will attempt to scale Mount Everest in 2011. The team is currently undertaking several expeditions to prepare them to endure the physical and mental challenges that have to be conquered first before undertaking the ultimate challenge.

Mount Everest is 8,848 meters. About four years ago, an all-women Army team had conquered the peak. The National Cadet Corps is also preparing for a similar expedition.

Seven members of the proposed IAF team have scaled the 6,123-meter-high Mount Stok Kangri in Leh on August 11. Consequently, a 20-member team led by Wg Cdr Bhavana Mehra has launched an expedition to scale Mount Bhagirathi-II (6,512 mts) in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.

Further expeditions for this core group of women IAF officers will follow with increasing difficulty of climb and height. In the pre-monsoon climbing season of 2010, an expedition to Mount Satopanth (7,075 mts) is planned, while Mount Kamet (7,757 mts) would be scaled during the post-monsoon season next year.




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