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Monday, 7 December 2009

From Today's Papers - 07 Dec 09

Situation improving: Raju
Staff Reporter/Correspondent DIMAPUR/KOHIMA, DEC 6 (NPN):
Article published on 12/7/2009 1:17:50 AM IST   
  Union minister of state for defence, M. Mangapati Pallam Raju said that the over all situation in Nagaland was improving and that the level of insurgency has also decreased to a great extent. He said that such peaceful atmosphere would give way for more development especially in infrastructural sector.
Interacting with media persons at Dimapur Airport Sunday before his departure to Delhi after a two-day visit to the state, Raju urged all sections of the people to foster the spirit of peaceful co-existence as development required peaceful atmosphere.
Regarding the road condition between Dimapur and Kohima, the minister said the Border Roads Organisation(BRO) had assured him at the meeting held in Kohima, that they would provide quality road by March end. Raju also assured he would personally visit the state to oversee the road condition during his next visit. The minister also expressed happiness with the progress taking place at the Sainik School, Punglwa. The minister said the intake of students from 24 Sainik schools into the National Defence Academy was increasing and last year the figure was 207.
He disclosed that the Centre has also proposed to open a Sainik school in Sikkim besides setting up of a special NCC directorate for Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. The minister expressed satisfaction with his visit to the state and disclosed he held a good interaction with chief minister, Neiphiu Rio and Governor of Nagaland, Nikhil Kumar on Saturday evening at Raj Bhavan during the pre-Christmas celebration. The minister thanked the state government for the hospitality extended to him.
NCC reorientation
Earlier, in Kohima, addressing the ongoing Special National Integration Camp for senior division and senior wing National Cadets Corps (NCC) boys and girls being held at the Multi-purpose Hall, IG Stadium Kohima, Raju said the Centre was contemplating a comprehensive reorientation and expansion of NCC in view of the changing scenario in the country.
‘’As India is endeavouring to transform itself from a developing nation into a developed one, there is a need to improve orientation of this youth movement,’’ he said.
Raju said though the government wanted to expand the present strength of the cadets and to expose them to various new activities, shortage of instructors was a problem. Stating that about 13 lakh NCC cadets in the country were contributing towards the nation building, Raju encouraged the cadets to join the armed force as the country needed young and bright youth to lead the Indian Army. An NCC alumni himself, Raju said that the activities of the NCC have a direct bearing on society and urged the cadets attending the integration camp from across country to attend more such camps so that they could exchange perceptions also acquaint themselves about the people, culture and geographical conditions. The minister also informed that about 100 NCC cadres would being a walkathon throughout the country to tighten the bond of national integrity among the people.
Raju, who admitted that the North East was a “little away” from the mainland India and “not well connected” said the government was trying to create more infrastructure in the region. Later, the union minister of state interacted with the cadets.
Earlier, on his arrival at the camp, the minister was received by Director General, NCC Lt. Gen. R. K. Karwal and rank and file. Nagaland planning minister, T. R. Zeliang and power minister Doshehe Y. Sema and home commissioner, Mhathung Kithan were also present. The union minister then took the salute as the ceremonial guard of honour was presented by the Senior Division NCC Cadets.
Gen. R. K. Karwal in his address, disclosed that the NCC was in the process of doubling the exchange programmes under which 100 selected cadets were sent out to foreign countries for exposure annually. He informed that the NCC would be made IT savvy and Computer training would be provided to the NCC cadets and also introduce a human value package in the syllabus.
Gen.Karwal said the directorate was now planning to reach out to the alumni of NCC and double the number of students from present 12,000 in adventure activities. Around 700 cadets from across the country representing all the 16 NCC Directorates took part in the Special National Integration Camp. The cadets also had the opportunity to visit the ongoing Hornbill Festival and the Kohima War Cemetery.

India, Russia agree on Gorshkov price
Manmohan Singh in Moscow, likely to ink nuke deal today
G Sudhakar Nair
Moscow, December 6
India and Russia have reached a broad agreement to break the logjam over the protracted price renegotiation over Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier and the two sides are expected to sign a landmark civil nuclear pact during summit talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Dmitry Medvedev tomorrow.

Seeking to resolve the Gorshkov price issue, an irritant in bilateral ties, the two countries have worked out a general agreement, sources said. A pact in this regard, however, is unlikely to be signed during Singh’s visit.
The Prime Minister arrived here on a three-day visit, his sixth to Russia since 2004, that will also see the inking of three agreements in the field of defence, including one for ending ad-hocism in servicing Russian military equipment.
As a special gesture, the Russian President will host a private dinner for Singh and his wife Gursharan Gaur at his countryside residence in Barvikha outside Moscow.
The path-breaking civil nuclear pact is significant as it will ensure uninterrupted uranium fuel supplies from Russia in the event of termination of bilateral ties in this field for any reason, the sources said.
The agreement is considered by India as a "major improvement" over the 123 pact with the US which provides for not just termination of ongoing cooperation but also for the return to the country of already supplied components and fuel in the event of the accord being scrapped.
Singh, who will hold wide-ranging talks with Medvedev, said in a statement before his departure in New Delhi that he will review the status of bilateral cooperation, including in the key areas of defence, civil nuclear energy, space and hydrocarbons at the annual summit tomorrow.
"The Annual Summit is the principal mechanism for the advancement of our strategic partnership with Russia. This is a partnership based on the solid foundation of long-standing friendship, deep mutual trust and strong convergence of interests," Singh, who will also meet Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said.
Ahead of the visit, Singh voiced confidence of finding a "practical solution" to resolve the problem dogging the Gorshkov deal. India had bought the warship in 2004 for USD 974 million, but Russian shipyard Sevmash hiked the price twice since 2007 and currently demands an additional USD 2.9 billion.
On the nuclear deal, the sources said it is marked by a "forward-looking language" in matters relating to reprocessing, nuclear equipments and transfer of technology. Keen to take the Indo-Russian strategic ties to new heights, Singh said atomic cooperation is a "key pillar" in bilateral relations.
The Prime Minister's entourage was welcomed at the Vnukovo II Airport by a Russian band playing national anthems of India and Russia amid freezing temperatures.
A flurry of snowfall and high velocity winds lashed Moscow as the Indian delegation arrived, with the temperature touching minus 5 degrees Celsius. — PTI

New Delhi, December 6
India today sought to play down concerns over the possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of terrorists and said it has no reason to doubt about their safety at this stage.

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor speaking on Karan Thapar’s ‘Devil’s Advocate’ programme said, “At this stage yes, we have no reason to doubt that yet”.
His comments came when asked specifically if he took the Pakistani assessment that their nukes were safe at face value. “We do not have first hand information on that. Certainly, those who are very close to Pakistan seem to be convinced that there is nothing to be worried about,” he added.
To a question whether India has its own contingency plan in case Pakistani nukes seem to be in danger of falling into the hands of terrorists, he said, “Look, we are not there yet. I am little anxious not to get into unnecessary alarmism at this point.”
Tharoor said Pakistan had a lot of difficulties, but “they are not about to fall apart yet as a state and they are not about to have their Army surrendering control of its most-prized military assets to irregulars. So, at this stage, this is not a concern but obviously this is a further argument for why the PM has repeatedly said a stable, peaceful Pakistan is in our interest too”.

Missile warning systems for Army, IAF choppers
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
Over a decade after an IAF chopper was shot down in combat over Kargil, Army Aviation and IAF helicopters will be equipped with indigenous missile approach warning systems (MAWS) and laser-warning receivers for self-defence.

Bharat Electronics (BEL) will initially produce about 70 such systems for the Army’s Cheetah helicopters. The lightest helicopter in the Indian inventory, Cheetahs are the lifeline of troops deployed at extreme altitudes in the northern sector and also perform vital recce and observation tasks in the forward areas.
The MAWS has been developed by the DRDO’s Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) and the DRDO claims to have successfully tested it on the IAF’s Avro transport aircraft before it was sought by the Army.
It will form part of an aircraft’s electronic warfare suite and detect an incoming anti-aircraft missile, provide advance warning to the cockpit crew for initiating evasive action and trigger defensive counter-measures like firing chaff flares or emitting false electronic signals to confuse and deflect hostile missiles.
The IAF and Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) have also approached Dare to modify and validate this system for the IAF’s fleet of Mi-17 helicopters and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) that is under development at HAL.
The medium lift Mi-17s are the only armed helicopters currently capable of operating in the high altitude areas in Jammu and Kashmir. Other armed helicopters like the older Mi-8 or the Mi-35 gunships are not capable of high altitude operations.
The IAF had lost a Mi-17 along with its crew of four during strike missions when it suffered a hit by an enemy missile over the icy heights of Tololing in Kargil in May, 1999. The crew had carried out nine strike sorties. This year, the IAF had commemorated the sacrifices of the crew, who had been decorated with the Vayu Sena Medal. 

No proposal to open Nathu La for tourism: Selja
Press Trust of India / Gangtok December 06, 2009, 17:48 IST

There is no proposal to open up the Sino-India frontier at Nathu La for tourism purposes but the Centre has relaxed the guidelines under the Restricted Area Permit for domestic tourists, Union Tourism Minister Kumari Selja said today.

The Inner Line Permit for foreign tourists in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh has also been relaxed to provide extended stay for visitors, she said.

The relaxation of protected area, restricted area and inner line permit regime will boost tourist inflow, she added.

Selja's statement comes as a dampener for Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, who has been repeatedly asking the Centre to consider opening up Nathu La for international tourists.

Chamling had said the opening of Nathu La corridor for tourism will bring in much-needed domestic revenue to the border state, and at the same time will cement bilateral relations between the country and China.

The Chief Minister had earlier succeeded in pursuading the Centre to reopen bilateral trade at Nathu La three years ago after a gap of 44 years.

China-Pak military nexus
Antony’s deep concern is justified
Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s observation that the increasing nexus between China and Pakistan in the military field is an area of serious concern reflects the growing wariness of India over China’s sinister bid to encourage Pakistan to confront India. Considering that India has been extremely cautious and mindful of Chinese sensibilities in the past, this statement as also some others in recent weeks show the extent of governmental exasperation over China’s designs of arming India’s recalcitrant neighbour to its teeth. To that extent, the new Indian assertiveness is welcome. Mr Antony has aptly pointed out that China has helped Pakistan build two nuclear reactors and is working to disturb the strategic balance in South Asia. Earlier this year, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had told journalists in Islamabad after President Zardari’s Beijing visit that China was all set to help Pakistan build two more nuclear reactors. Recently, the Washington Post quoted a secret note of Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan as saying that China had provided Pakistan with a “do-it-yourself” kit and weapons grade uranium for making two nuclear bombs in 1982.
Significantly, China is Pakistan’s largest defence supplier, making available to it short-range ballistic missiles, fighter-aircraft, frigates with helicopters, T-85 tanks, jet trainers, besides arms and ammunition. In July last, days after India launched its first nuclear-powered submarine, China handed over the first of four warships that it is building for Pakistan. While three warships are being built at a Chinese port, one is being built in Pakistan. The Pakistanis are also buying 36 J-10 fighter aircraft which is China’s most sophisticated combat aircraft.
The arming of Pakistan, the increasingly shrill Chinese claims to Arunachal Pradesh and the Chinese assertion of its naval clout in the Indian Ocean add up to a formidable challenge posed to India’s security interests. It is indeed a matter of relief that India is speaking against a China-Pakistan nexus. There is certainly a need to step up India’s military preparedness and diplomatic activity in response.

U.S.-Pakistan: Rethink
Aparna Pande  

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President Obama’s speech on Tuesday night was significant both for what was explicitly stated – more troops for Afghanistan – and for what was not said –American policy towards Pakistan.
What America faces in South Asia is something unique: for the first time in decades not only is South Asia critical to American security interests but America has three allies in the region - Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – who share antagonistic relationships with each other. Afghanistan fears Pakistani intentions and has tried to ally with India to counter any Pakistani actions. Pakistan feels threatened by supposed Indian nefarious designs and seeks to prevent any Indo-Afghan ties. India has very good ties with Afghanistan but has fought four wars with Pakistan.

In January 2009 reflecting the importance of Pakistan and Afghanistan for American security interests, the Obama administration appointed Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since March 2008 Pakistan’s civilian government led by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has shown its willingness to support the American-led war on terror. In April 2009 the Pakistani army launched an operation to weed out the jihadi groups ensconced in Swat and Malakand region of Pakistan’s North West. In October 2009 the military also took on militants based in South Waziristan.

However, going forward if the Obama administration wants to succeed, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship requires commitments from both sides.

In order to gain Pakistani support the United States leadership needs to strengthen, support and stabilize Pakistan. • Strengthen – Even though Pakistan is the oldest American ally in South Asia the relationship has always been tactical not strategic in nature. Since Pakistani help was required primarily for Middle Eastern security related aims, instead of linkages between various elements of American and Pakistani societies the only strong relationship which developed was military-to-military. There is a need to convert the American-Pakistani relationship from one which has been primarily based on short-term collaboration to one based on long-term ties. • Support – A strong symbol of this American commitment is American aid in supporting Pakistani democracy and economy. American aid to Pakistan dates back to the 1954 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement, However, Pakistan’s stability requires massive investment – not aid - to boost the economy, re-build the educational sector and through this mechanism support the civilian democratic government. American investment to rebuild the Pakistani economy, especially infrastructure, energy and industry, is critical. • Stabilize –Pakistan’s tense relations with both its neighbors, India and Afghanistan means that American support to improve these relations is paramount for moving towards a stable and peaceful South Asia. American policy makers face the challenge of persuading Afghanistan, Pakistan and India that close ties with any of the other two countries is not detrimental to any one country and instead is beneficial for all. In addition, America has traditionally been reluctant to directly interfere in the Kashmir dispute, and has preferred to encourage the two countries to carry on bilateral dialogue. However, as India-U.S. relations strengthen and Indian policymakers view America in a more benign light there needs to be more American encouragement of the ‘Composite Dialogue’ between India and Pakistan.

In return the Pakistani leadership – civilian and military – needs to build institutions, tackle the insurgency and implement economic and development related policies. • Institution-building: Even though Pakistan was created as a parliamentary democracy, with the exception of the military none of the key institutions – legislature, executive and judiciary – have built strong roots. In addition Pakistan’s political parties depend either on the personal charisma of their leaders or on ethnic ties for their support base, not grass roots organizational support. Pakistan’s leaders – those within power and outside of it – need to declare a moratorium for a year or two on their personal differences and concentrate instead on building institutions. • Insurgency-tackling: A concerted effort and a national will needs to be created to tackle the extremist groups based in various parts of Pakistan. The earlier policy of treating some of these groups as “assets” vis-à-vis Pakistan’s neighbors needs to be abandoned fully. • Implementing development related policies: The public schooling system is in disarray, the economy is recovering very slowly, infrastructure needs massive overhauling, there is an impending energy crisis and the economy is still agriculture-textile based. These facts become critical when we realize that more than half of Pakistan’s 175 million population is under the age of 25 years.

This is not an easy task for either country’s leadership. There is a baggage of mistrust on both sides and rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan does not help. However, when the fate of over 1.5 billion South Asians in addition to 300 million Americans is at stake, there is a need to seriously rethink strategies and policies.

Israeli army chief starts visit to India

    JERUSALEM, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi Sunday departed from Israel to India on the first official visit to the country by an Israeli military chief, local daily Ha'aretz reported on its website.

    "The visit to India is part of the process of strengthening the ties between Israel and India, and the nations' militaries," the report quoted an IDF statement as reporting.

    During the visit, which is part of a five-day Southeast Asia tour, Ashkenazi will meet government officials and his Indian counterpart Deepak Kapoor, who visited Israel last month.

    According to the army, the IDF chief is also scheduled to meet with the Indian National Security advisor, the commander of Indian Air Force and the commander of Indian Navy.

    Israel and India enjoy close defense ties and last year Israel overtook Russia as the number one supplier of military platforms to India, said local daily The Jerusalem Post.

    According to press reports, India is interested in working with Israel on submarine-launched cruise missiles, ballistic missile defense systems, laser-guided systems, satellites as well as unmanned aerial vehicles.

Sunday, December 6, 2009
Indian, U.K. Companies To Jointly Bid on Indian Vehicle Programs

By vivek raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI - India's Mahindra & Mahindra and Britain's BAE Systems will form a joint venture to compete for sales of light strike vehicles to the Indian Army.

A senior executive of Mahindra & Mahindra, an automobile manufacturer that is part of the Mahindra Group, said the joint venture has been approved by India's Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

Mahindra & Mahindra is to initially invest $21.25 million over a three-year period. The Indian company will have a 74 percent equity stake in the joint venture and the remaining 26 percent will be held by BAE. The joint venture will be headquartered here, with a manufacturing facility built south of Faridabad, just outside of Delhi, according to a Nov. 30 news release.

The joint venture also will likely be involved "in a number of future artillery programs, including the M777 lightweight howitzer and the FH77B 155mm howitzer. It is envisaged that the JV will become a center of excellence for Indian artillery programs," according to the release.

The Indian Army plans to purchase more than 5,000 light strike vehicles over the next five years. The Army wants a four-wheel-drive vehicle capable of traveling at 80 kilometers per hour and armed with rocket launchers and gps navigation systems.

Two hurt in AR firing, slur casts
By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Dec 6 : Two villagers of Khoripok under Kasom Khullen sub-division have been injured while many houses have been damaged due to allegedly reckless and unrestrained firing by Assam Rifles troops.
The news report about the gun-fight between troops of 34 AR and militants at the former’s post in the evening of December 4 and the associated report that no one was hurt as reported in local media today has also been rebuffed by the Khoripok Village Authority.
Addressing a press meet here today, Khoripok Village Authority member Kesochithung alleged that there was no incident of gun fight.
It was only the AR troops who were firing grenades and mortar shells indiscrimi- nately towards the village, he alleged.
Two villagers, S Huimi (53) and E Matuichin (52) sustained severe injuries in the firing. They are undergoing treatment at RIMS.
Moreover, 25 houses, primary school, community hall and weaving centre have been damaged due to mortar and bullet strikes, Kesochithung said.
Saying that this unprovoked firing was a manifestation of Assam Rifles’ haughtiness, the VA strongly condemned the firing.
The VA demanded that the AR post should be removed from the village and its commander Captain Roshan Chetry suspended. The Khoripok Village Authority also demanded that either the Government or the Assam Rifles should compensate the injured villagers.
Kasom Khullen Sub-Division Development Association Chairman Jajo Robertson also rubbished the report of gun-fight as baseless.
It is reported that the Kasom Khullen Sub-Division Sinnao Long, Tangkhul Naga Aze Longphang and the Kasom Khullen Sub-Division Development would take up the matter jointly with Chief Minister Okram Ibobi in addition to filing a complaint to the Manipur State Human Rights Commission.

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