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Saturday, 12 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 12 Sep 09

Hindustan Times

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Indian Express

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Pak fires rockets into border areas
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Dhanoa (Indo-Pak border), September 11
As many as three rockets were fired into the Indian territory from across the border, which landed and exploded in fields of Modhe and Khacha villages on the Indo-Pak border at around 10 pm tonight. However, no casualty was reported in the incident.

Though it could not be confirmed officially, India was also said to have retaliated. According to available information, BSF jawans also opened fire towards the other side from Pull Kanjri side. It is for the first time that India has resorted to retaliation in such a quick manner at the Punjab frontier.

It was a harrowing experience for residents of Modhe and Kachha Dhanoa who had just winded up their celebrations following deployment of about 80 woman constables on the Indo-Pak border. They had to wake-up in the dead of the night due to scary explosions taking place near their homes and hearths.

The number of rockets fired into the Indian territory could even be more than three as the top BSF officials are carrying out the search work in this regard. Dark night also made the job of the BSF officials tough. BSF IG Himmat Singh was not available for comment.

Army to station new divisions in NE
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
The India Army has decided to place both its two new upcoming mountain divisions in the north east. One facing China and the other facing Myanmar. Each division will have about 15, 000 men, artillery support and weaponry, among other aspects.

Well placed sources in the defence establishment confirmed that a decision has been taken to place these divisions in the north east. One will be based in Manipur and will be attached to the 3 corps based out of Dimapur in western part of Nagaland the second one will be based in Arunachal Pardesh and will be attached to the 4 crops based out Tezpur, in north-eastern Assam.

Sources also confirmed that the Army has already issued instructions to the first lot of officers and men to start moving to Manipur.

Though raising a division takes a lot of time, the Army is speeding up matters by pulling troops out of “peace postings” and putting them in Manipur. This division will be located on the strategic Bangladesh-India-Myanmar tri-axis that is not only used by insurgents to smuggle in arms, the growing influence of China in Myanmar had added to the worries.

The second division will be placed in Arunachal Pradesh and will have its three brigades located in areas where the present fortification facing China may be weak or needs augmentation.

The decision to place the additional divisions in the north-east was taken after due consultation at the top level of the Armed forces. Senior functionaries scotched reports that a corps will be raised, saying that will need fresh government approval and will add to the time over run besides adding to logistics of the Army.

India lodges protest over PoK projects
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
Amid the stand-off over investigations into the 26/11 terror attacks, India today lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over the ‘Gilgistan-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order’ as also against the proposed construction of the Bunji power project in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).

Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner to India Rifat Masood was summoned to the Foreign Office and conveyed India’s displeasure over Islamabad’s actions. The Indian High Commission in Islamabad will also lodge a formal protest with Pakistan's foreign office soon.

“The Government of India protested through diplomatic channels today against the Government of Pakistan’s so called “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order - 2009”, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement this evening.

Pakistan has for the past six decades denied the basic democratic rights to the people in those parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir under its illegal occupation.

The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947. The so-called “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order -2009” is yet another cosmetic exercise intended to camouflage Pakistan’s illegal occupation, the ministry added.

The recently approved reforms and self-governance package is seen as a step towards merger of the Northern Areas with Pakistan. Northern Areas, which are part of PoK, have so far been directly ruled by Islamabad. New Delhi also protested over the proposed construction of the Bunji Hydroelectric Project “in a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir under illegal occupation of Pakistan.’’

The 7,000-MW power project is proposed to be constructed with Chinese help on ‘build, operate, own and transfer (BOOT)’ basis. An MoU in this regard was signed during President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to China last month.

The project has triggered anxieties in India about growing Chinese activities in PoK.

The project is estimated to cost between $ 6-7 billion and all the investment will be made by Chinese entrepreneurs.

Rockets fired from Pak side near Wagah border; BSF retaliates

NDTV Correspondent, Saturday September 12, 2009, Wagah Border

Three rockets were fired from Pakistani side that fell on the Indian territory near Wagah Border at around 11 pm on Friday, drawing retaliation from BSF using machine guns.

There was, however, no casualty on the Indian side in the Pakistani action, Border Security Force (BSF) Inspector General Himmat Singh said.

Singh said Pakistan fired rockets which landed in an open area at villages Modhey and Dhoneya Khurd after which the BSF troops hit back by opening fire from machine guns.

He said BSF authorities got in touch with their Pakistani counterparts for a flag meeting where India would lodge a strong protest against the action.

Flag meeting between Pakistan Rangers and BSF has taken place in which officers from BSF and Pak Rangers attended.

BSF says it's not sure if these were RPGs or other explosives.

The Amritsar DIG is also on the spot and BSF sources though say it's nothing big now and the border is calm.

BSF says two months back also rocket were fired from Pakistani side, they are not sure but they believe non-state actors may have been involved to escalate tension on Indo-Pak border.

The attack happened on a day when the BSF deployed its first batch of women constables at the border to facilitate frisking of women going for work in fields.

Sixteen of a batch of 178 women constables of the force were deployed at Rorawari village near Attari border in Punjab on Friday. (With PTI inputs)

Ex-servicemen wards’ scholarship enhanced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
In yet another step towards the welfare of the wards of ex-servicemen in the city, the Chandigarh administration has enhanced the scholarships grant to Rs 6,000 for the meritorious wards of the ex-servicemen.

According to a press release, 40 wards of ex-servicemen, who score over 60 per cent marks in Classes X and XII and continue further studies, are given one-time scholarship grant of Rs 3,600 each. The amount has now been increased to Rs 6,000 for each scholarship.

Besides this, a new scholarship scheme has been introduced as per which 20 wards of ex-servicemen, who score over 60 per cent marks in Class VIII examinations, will be awarded one-time scholarship grant of Rs 5,000 each.

Battle of Phillora commemorated
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 11
The 44th anniversary of the “Battle of Phillora” in the 1965 Indo-Pak war was commemorated in a solemn ceremony held at the Black Elephant Cenotaph in Patiala today.

A wreath was laid at the Cenotaph by Maj-Gen SH Kulkarni, General Officer Commanding, Black Elephant Division.

Senior officials paid homage to martyrs, who sacrificed their lives in the battle.

Kulkarni said during the Indo-Pak war of 1965, attack on Pakistan on Sialkot was launched on September 7 and 8. Phillora was captured on September 11. The battle was a hard-fought one with over 400 tanks slugging out in the area of 50 square kilometres.

During the battle about 165 enemy tanks were destroyed by the Indian Army. Five officials and 64 other ranks of the Indian Army paid with their lives. Among them was Lt Col AB Tarapore, who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra.

Push For Military-Industrial Complex in India?

By Raghu

An orchestrated campaign is now underway by global consultancy firms, leading industry associations and some strategic experts to increase the permissible FDI limit in Indian private sector defense companies from the present 26 percent to 49 percent. Some are even calling for allowing 100 per cent foreign-owned firms to operate in India.

The current flurry of news items and commentary especially in the print media, and more so in business papers, has been led by the report of a joint study by ASSOCHAM and the international consultancy firm Ernest & Young which has been submitted to the ministry of Defense last month. The report argues that foreign investors, read foreign armaments majors, lack sufficient incentives to bring in FDI into the fledgling Indian private sector defense industry within the present 26 percent stake cap that would deny them control. “The contributions from international defense majors in the form of both capital and technology can enhance the ability of [the] Indian private sector, which in turn would contribute to India's defense industrial capability and exports," the report said. It also called upon the government to stop extending preference to defense public sector undertakings and to expedite declaration of Raksha Udyog Ratnas among private sector players.

The report itself does not present any new findings or recommendations. It is essentially a rehash of previous reports by E&Y updated annually. The same basic report with minor changes has been released by E&Y separately, with FICCI and now with ASSOCHAM! Articles based on these reports have been carried in the print media over the past year or more each time referring to a “recent report” by E&Y!

So why are some circles so keen to pressurize the government to deepen the involvement of Indian private sector players and foreign defense majors in the Indian defense industry? And what are the various implications of such involvement?

Sharp increase in military imports

Indian acquisitions of military hardware are the hot topics in the global armaments bazaar. India is expected to spend around $30 billion on arms imports over the next few years. India is perhaps the world’s largest (some say second largest after China) importer of armaments with annual expenditure of around $6 billion (Rs 27,000 crore) on this count, a sizable proportion of India’s defense budget of $28 billion for 2009-10.

Indian capital expenditures in defense have been on a steady upswing since 2004-05 when acquisitions went up from around $3.5 billion in value to around $7.5 billion in each of the following three years and then rose to around $11 billion in 2008-09. Much of this huge expenditure has been on big-ticket imported items such as aircraft, naval vessels, missiles, tanks, artillery and accompanying communications systems. These acquisitions are explained on the one hand by the obsolescence of current equipment, inordinate delays in replacement or upgradation, and failures in indigenous development and production, and on the other by a more outward looking strategic posture emphasizing force projection and outreach in the wider Indian Ocean region or even beyond.

The Indian Air Force has in recent times acquired Hercules troop carrier aircraft from the US, Ilyushin mid-air refueling tankers from Russia, Phalcon airborne early-warning systems from Israel mounted on a Russian plane. The Navy has acquired the Lockheed P8 long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft from the US, has entered into a deal with France for co-production of 6 Scorpene diesel-powered submarines, and has agreements in place with Russia for purchase of the refitted aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and lease of two nuclear-powered submarines. All three services have also acquired numerous types of tactical missiles and related systems, mostly from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) but some also from Russia, for land, sea and air operations. Suppliers the world over are now holding their breath waiting for India to complete user trials and then place orders for 190 advanced helicopters costing around $1 billion and the truly mouth-watering so-called “mother of all orders”, the largest single order in military aviation history, for 126 multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) expected to be worth about $10 billion. India has also entered into joint design and development collaboration agreements related to several systems it wants for the third to fifth decades of this century such as with Russia for co-development of a 5th Generation fighter aircraft and with Israeli Aircraft Industries and its sister concern Rafael for medium range anti-missile systems.

Regrettably, despite a few notable successes in missiles and electronics, India has never come close to meeting its declared goal of self-reliance in defense production, leave alone R&D for development of new, advanced equipment. Most objective assessments put the ‘self reliance index’ in India as somewhere in the 30-35 percent range. Today, after three to four decades of efforts to build indigenous capability through foreign collaboration and technology transfer, the implications of this failure are quite clear. India should have been in a better position to modernize its military building upon its own solid industrial manufacturing base and a reasonable capability for development of new systems, but it is not and finds itself compelled to go in for repetitive and costly cycles of imports and license production.

Over-dependence on foreign suppliers has reached dangerous proportions. It will reduce India’s bargaining power, push up prices and pressure India into compromising its independent foreign policy under pressure from supplier nations. India has had ample experience of technology denial by the US over many decades, pressure tactics by the UK on technology transfer, and acute problems in supply of spares from Russia. How such pressure forces compromise is clearly evidenced by the fact that, despite proven corruption by Israel’s IAI in earlier deals, India’s Defense ministry has been unable to blacklist the firm and has instead rewarded illegality by placing huge repeat orders such as the Army’s recent $2 billion deal with IAI for land-based missile defense systems. Aside from the national security angle, India has also not been able to acquire independent technological capability in many defense-related sectors as it has in certain strategic areas.

Offsets policy only abbot money

Against this background, the government has adopted a new policy of offsets, as has been done by many other countries. Under the new Defense Procurement Procedures announced in 2007, all import orders worth more than $60 million must be executed by spending at least 30 percent of the value on products and services sourced from Indian firms. In exceptional cases of high value, this could even be increased to 50 percent. Indian firms, and armaments majors of other countries, are now greedily eyeing the prospects of sharing about $10 billion likely to be up for grabs through offsets in just the next few years.

This policy was ostensibly expected to tackle the weaknesses in the Indian defense industry highlighted earlier apart from ensuring that a substantial part of the funds remain within the country. In theory, the industrial base in India would get strengthened and absorb new technologies, thus building self-reliant capabilities for the future. In practice, however, things are likely to turn out quite differently. And there are other dangerous portents too.

The offsets policy has already been diluted in important ways under pressure from the global armaments industry. Foreign suppliers have now been permitted to “bank” their offset obligations, that is, to accumulate offset provisions over two or more projects and then enter into a single sub-contract equivalent to the accumulated amount. Offset obligations can now also be transferred from one contract to another, including in the civilian sector. So Boeing could, for instance, if it won the tender to supply 126 F/A-18 fighters, avoid sub-contracting any part of the F/A-18 manufacture but instead sub-contract manufacture of doors or other sub-assemblies for Boeing 737 passenger jets. By de-linking offsets from contract-specific obligations, the desired technology absorption in advanced defense-related technologies will simply not take place. Offsets will boil down just to money and the structural problems of repetitive imports and scant self-reliance will be perpetuated.

Privatization of defense production

This should not come as a great surprise when neo-liberal policies and globalization have been embraced by the Indian ruling elite. Self-reliance itself is seen by these sections as an old-fashioned idea dating back to the “bad old days”. And involvement of the private sector is seen as a panacea for solving all problems. But even in defense and national security?

The argument runs along lines familiar to those following the Indian liberalization story: the state sector has proved incapable of timely delivery of quality military hardware, therefore the private sector should be encouraged to step in. Maximum FDI should be encouraged because defense hardware is a risky, capital intensive business and because Indian firms do not have the requisite capability – the irony can hardly be missed. The icing on the cake, it is further argued, will be the opening up of an export market for armaments made in India or outsourced from India, a path that India had hitherto wisely eschewed.

Starting from the 1990s when India embarked on the path of liberalization, involvement of the private sector in India has been gaining momentum. In 2001, government formally decided to encourage private sector participation in defense production subject to licensing and also allowed up to 26 per cent FDI in such firms. Over the years, even though the Indian private sector as a whole received only 9 percent of total military orders or around $700 million annually, a few engineering majors have emerged as important players executing sub-contracted work even in strategic areas. Given the anticipated offsets boom, there is now a scramble to set up joint venture firms with international armaments firms who are expected to bring in capital but more importantly technology and capability.

Tata Advanced Systems has been set up as a joint venture (JV) with an investment of $150 million and 76 percent holdings by the mammoth Tata Industries and $50 million by Israel’s IAI to manufacture Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), electronic warfare systems, missiles, radar systems and security systems. Tatas have also tied up with US aviation company Sikorsky for helicopter sub-assemblies. Similarly, Indian automobile major Mahindra & Mahindra has linked up with UK’s largest and the world’s fourth largest military manufacturer British Aerospace for land-based armament systems and with a subsidiary of Italian Finmecanica for underwater systems. Engineering and construction giant Larsen & Toubro has started joint ventures with several international defense firms such as European conglomerate and Airbus manufacturer EADS Defense & Security and US aerospace major Boeing.

The present push for a major involvement of Indian private sector corporations in defense manufacture, greater FDI and partnership with prominent mostly Western defense manufacturers, all aided by the new offsets policy that emphasizes money transfers through sub-contracts rather than building of indigenous capability, are all part of a larger plan. The idea is to undermine and ultimately dismantle the Indian state-sector defense industry, which for all its weaknesses is and would be subservient to broader political goals subject to public accountability, and replace it with large private sector corporates with substantial or even controlling interests of global arms manufacturers. In such a dispensation, acquisition and upgradation of defense hardware would increasingly be driven by corporate and commercial interests, and export of armaments would become an important driver of India’s external policy. Is this not what former US general and President Eisenhower presciently called the military-industrial complex, and warned against its pernicious influence on government and policy?

Indian Clever Pretension to Conduct Nuclear Test

Kashmir Watch, Sep 11

By Dr. Anwar

The very purpose of every scientific inquiry and systematic study is to uncover the truth to enable the scientists to draw relevant conclusions. Hence, the testing instruments are prudently developed to withstand the rigors of the test and harshness of a scientific investigation. Nuclear scientists conduct extremely complex and serious researches. They simply cannot afford to bluff and cheat by reporting fake results for political reasons and personal advancement. Unfortunately Indian top nuclear scientists in May 1998 fell prey to temptations to claim that their nuclear tests at Pokharan-II were a success thereby edifying the political stature of the then Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and building his image in Indian socio-political circle. Similarly Indian top nuclear scientist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, in recognition to his meritorious services rendered to successfully conduct nuclear tests, was rewarded to become the President of India. Who knew “Shining India” was actually growing dim casting shadows of doubts and speculation about its scientific investigation leading to nuclear testing device.

The world would have never known the actual worth of Indian scientific prowess, had the juncture of signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as a result of US nuclear deal with India not crept closer and or K. Santhanam, a senior scientist and Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) representative at Pokhran-II, had not revealed that the yield of thermonuclear explosion was actually much below expectations and that May 1998 tests were perhaps more a “fizzle” rather than a big bang. In nuclear parlance, a test is described as a fizzle when it fails to meet the desired yield. In May 1998 Indian nuclear scientists had claimed 45 kilotons (KT) yield (15 KT from fission trigger and 30 KT from fusion process). Santhanam further suggested that Indian government should not sign the CTBT and that India needs to conduct more nuclear tests to perfect her nuclear device.

Political parties including ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under whose patronage the tests were conducted, scientist community including the then Director General DRDO and political analysts including Professor Ajay Singh, & Professor S.K.Gupta have rejected Santhanam’s revelations asserting that May 1998 nuclear tests were indeed a success. Thus making the whole issue controversial and dubious, allowing the media to deliberate on options available to India.

The question arises as to what motivated Santhanam to make an open statement on such a sensitive national issue? Was it the personal guilt of dishonesty which forced him to tell the truth after observing silence for 11 long years or was he acting as the voice of the hawkish elements of Indian establishment and scientific community? Pragmatism leads us to believe that Santhanam spoke in connivance with Indian policy makers. The aim is to develop an environment conducive enough to build a case for conducting more nuclear tests, enabling India to develop and fine tune a full-scale thermonuclear bomb. At the same time India will also cleverly avert signing of CTBT.

Indian ambitions to dominate and control the resources of South Asia (SA) and regions beyond are increasingly growing while USA is encouraging India to cumulate her conventional and nuclear arsenals. India has become strategic partner with USA as she is being used as a counter weight against China. Indo-US deals to provide civilian nuclear technology to India and Indian recent plans to import military hardware worth $30 billion from USA by 2010, speak of the grand cooperation between the two countries. Selling military hardware to conflict prone countries like India is a superb US initiative to fight economic recession and fiscal depression at home. On the other hand India is determined to divert her resources on military build up grossly neglecting the miseries of poor people of India who commit suicides and sell their honors to get food stuff. Indian plans to raise its defence budget by 50% during 2009-2010 and recent launching of nuclear submarine with underwater ballistic missile capability clearly points towards the hegemonic designs of India.

Indians argue that their military build up and nuclear advancement is not Pakistan specific and make references to their national interests which go beyond South Asia. They talk of confronting neighboring China and cooperating with (later competing) Russia and USA. Recently Bharat Verma in his article published in Indian Defence Review claimed that China will attack India by 2012 and will divide into sub-states. If that be the real threat there was no need for Indian Army and Navy Chiefs to make objectionable statements that Pakistan has exceeded the minimum nuclear deterrence level. They also propagated along with US media that Pakistan has improved upon US version Harpoon missiles issued to Pakistan Navy for use by ground forces. Similarly Indian propaganda has been very systematic that Pakistan’s nuclear assets may fall in the hands of terrorists. Such hostile propaganda by Indian military and political leaders proves that Indian designs against Pakistan are perilous. Indian military and nuclear build up is also a great security threat for Pakistan. Hence prudence must be exercised to deal with US rhetoric that India is not a real threat to Pakistan. At the same time Indian clever designs to build a case for future nuclear tests must be projected to the world to show that India is simply creating an excuse to conduct more nuclear tests. USA must also note the deceitful attitude of Indian scientists who openly say that in 1998 their nuclear tests were a fizzle. To conduct nuclear business with Indian scientists will be dangerous knowing their fake reporting.

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