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Monday, 29 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 29 Mar 2010






  Avoid attempts to contain China Cooperative approach in India’s interest
by Premvir Das  Not without good reason, China now attracts attention almost every day in world capitals. Its economic growth at 10 per cent plus is creating growing self-confidence in a country which has experienced great power status and prosperity in the past. It is clear that by 2030, China’s GDP, even with slowing momentum, will be almost at the US level in real dollar terms.   There is a visible urge to match this power with military strength. China’s defence expenditure, estimated around $120 billion last year, may touch $600 billion or so by 2030, which is quite formidable even if less than what the US will spend in 2010. So, even as forecasts of military parity between the two are clearly misplaced, China is rapidly distancing itself from all others.  Take the case of India. Its GDP stood at $1.3 trillion last year. Given an 8-9 per cent sustained annual increase over the next two decades, this figure could reach $8 trillion by 2030, still well short of China’s. Similarly, India’s military expenditure, $30 billion last year, could, at best, grow to $150 billion in the same time-frame, about the same as China’s today. In short, even as India may figure among the top three global economies in 2030, it would still be some distance away from China, both economically and in terms of military power. Other countries like Japan, France, Russia, Germany and the UK will fall even further behind. This is the real context in which the implications of China’s rising power should be seen.  Growing power brings with it attitudinal changes. There is increased confidence domestically despite relative poverty, especially in the rural areas, which acts as a catalyst in prodding the government to be more assertive internationally. Some of its manifestations have been seen recently in China’s interfaces with Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea. The was visible in the stridency of tone, protesting against US President Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, and the sale of American arms to Taiwan. It is not that China has not been proactive in the past — the force-landing of an American reconnaissance aircraft a few years ago and the interception of a US Navy oceanographic research ship being two such occasions — but there was use of intemperate language in the recent posturing. Satisfying the domestic audience that the government is acting in accordance with its growing power may well be motivating these actions. Some argue that visions of again becoming the Middle Kingdom that China once was, a manifestation of destiny, are not mere fancies that can be brushed aside.  The same assertive posture is becoming noticeable with the growth of maritime power. From its earlier doctrine of first becoming capable of operating credibly in what was termed the “First Island Chain”, which covered Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines, and then the “Second Island Chain” covering sea areas up to Guam, the operating philosophy now focuses on maritime capabilities to safeguard interests over a much wider and undefined space. Some time ago, a senior PLA Navy Flag Officer reportedly told the visiting US C-in-C, Pacific Command, that the US Navy could “look after” the Pacific Ocean and the PLA Navy would mind its role in the Indian Ocean. Even if made in jest, the statement typifies the new state of mind reflecting arrogance.  Given the strong focus on the development of capabilities in the air, in space and at sea, all critical to operations at extended ranges, and the ship and aircraft building plans in motion, especially of submarines, with aircraft carriers not far behind, it needs little guesswork to see that China will be a formidable military power in the years to come. It will then be able to operate credibly well beyond the constraints that the “island chains” doctrine involved. Signs of the same self-confidence, seen on disputed maritime issues in the East China Sea, might soon manifest themselves in the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea.  This assertive approach is beginning to create uneasiness in the region. India is one country that needs to be more watchful than most others. It is true that there has been improvement in bilateral relations between the two countries across a broad front. Bilateral trade grew from $0.5 billion in 1995 to over $50 billion in 2008 and is likely to cross $100 billion before 2020. The two countries have cooperated in WTO and climate change negotiations.  China has not protested against our long-range ballistic missile project, Agni. There are commonalities in positions in regard to Afghanistan where both countries seek a moderate and independent nation. These are signs of a maturing interface. Yet, there are long-pending issues over the unresolved boundary dispute. China’s claims, often sought to be highlighted through seemingly innocuous but obviously planned incursions and politically hostile statements, continue to cause anxiety.  China has also been insensitive to India’s security interests, providing military assistance and making political overtures to countries in its immediate vicinity. At the same time, it is very unlikely that the Chinese will take recourse to military confrontation, not only because this might come in the way of achieving their larger strategic objective of reaching parity with the US as early as possible but also because they are doubtful if this would succeed. This would lend substance to the thesis that the harshness of views expressed by commentators on the government-controlled Chinese media is largely deliberate rhetoric. Nevertheless, the need to be watchful and to be prepared militarily cannot be overstressed. In this context, the recent statement of a retired PLA Navy Rear Admiral as posted on a Defence Ministry website, that China should establish facilities on a “permanent basis” to support counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, is disturbing.  Efforts to “contain” China in concert with others, even if possible, are not consistent with India’s strategic interests. It is evident that China will be a major global player very soon, if it is not that already, which all major countries must engage. Cooperation, while remaining prepared for unforeseen contingencies, is, therefore, desirable. Maritime forces of both countries are engaged in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. Even otherwise, defence cooperation, albeit just starting, has begun with joint exercises linked with port visits and the exchange of high-level delegations of the two militaries.  The Chinese, on their part, are not unaware that India’s growth as a major Asian entity cannot be wished away. They are also conscious that their growing power, unlike that of India, is arousing suspicion in regions like South-East Asia and must be tempered for greater acceptability. The US is not going to lose interest in Asia anytime soon and Japan is also not going to be just a passive onlooker.  In short, these are the times when almost every country, for its own reasons, is watching the moves that China makes. How the Indian democracy and the totalitarian Chinese regime interact, as both pursue their respective growth trajectories, and the effects of this interface on the emerging world order will be of consuming interest, not just to these two countries but to all others, especially in Asia.n  The writer is a former Director-General, Defence Planning Staff.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100329/edit.htm#4
Agni-1 successfully test-launched  Balasore (Orissa), March 28 India today successfully test-fired its indigenously developed, nuclear-capable, short range ballistic missile (SRBM) Agni-1 from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island, about 100 km from here off the Orissa coast.  “It was a fantastic mission carried out by the Indian Army. The test-fire of the Agni-I missile met all parameters,” ITR director SP Dash told PTI. Blasted off from a rail mobile launcher, the surface-to-surface, single-stage missile, powered by solid propellants, roared into the sky trailing behind a column of orange and white thick smoke at about 1305 hours.  “After piercing the sky, the missile re-entered the earth's atmosphere and its dummy warhead impacted in the waters of the Bay of Bengal in the down range," a defence official said from the launch site, adding that the guidance and re-entry system worked well.  User of the missile, the strategic force command of the Indian Army, executed the entire launch operation with the necessary logistic support being provided by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) at the Integrated Test Range.  Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-metre tall Agni-1, which can carry payloads weighing up to one tonne, has already been inducted into the Indian Army. It has a range of upto 700 kms.“The command chain has been validated. This is a major step in the preparedness of the Army in using this weapon system. We have reached the full range capability of the missile,” said a DRDO scientist. A battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry and electro-optic systems and a naval ship anchored in the impact point tracked the entire trajectory of today’s mission. The command, operation, integration, execution and networking for the launch was done by the Army. — PTI







Intach, Assam Rifles battle over Waterloo cannons 
Aizawl, March 28 Battle lines have been drawn between the Mizoram unit of the Indian National Trust for Art and Natural Heritage (INTACH) and Assam Rifles over possession of two cannons which were used at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.  The Mizoram unit of INTACH said the two pieces of artillery displayed at the Assam Rifles battalion headquarters here since 1892 were taken away in 2003 by their custodian, the First battalion of Assam Rifles, to Tuensang in Nagaland.  P Rohmingthanga, a retired IAS officer and convener of the state’s INTACH convener said the two historic cannons were placed at the Assam Rifles battalion headquarters by Lt Colonel J Shakespeare in 1892.  Shakespeare, in his book ‘The Making of Aijal’ (as Aizawl was known in those days) published in 1939 wrote that the cannons were among those used by the Duke of Wellington’s troops which were part of the combined armies of the Seventh Coalition to defeat French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at the battle of Waterloo. He wrote that they were part of armament of a Burma-bound warship that was docked in Chittagong port (now in Bangladesh) in 1857.  “When the detachment of the 34th Native Infantry mutinied on November 18 that year as part of the Sepoy Mutiny, the cannons were thrown overboard to prevent them from falling in the hands of the natives and were fished out after crushing the mutiny and brought to Aizawl,” he wrote.  “Shakespeare was also the civilian administrator of the then North Lushai Hills, the northern part of the present Mizoram state and anything installed by civilian head of a district could not logically belong to the armed forces, certainly not by Assam Rifles, which came into existence only in 1917,” Rohmingliana said.  “Historically and legally the canons belong to the people of the state and have high heritage value and not to the central para-military forces,” he said, while conceding that the Assam Rifles could have custody of the artillery pieces, but they must be kept in Aizawl.  However, the Assam Rifles and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the controlling authority of all the country’s para-military forces, do not agree with the contention of the Mizo INTACH.  The MHA, in a note on June 9, 2009 said as per service norms, war trophies were kept by respective units and formed an integral part of the battalion’s history and legacy.  The museum is situated at the Assam Rifles Headquarters on the outskirts of Shillong in Meghalaya. — PTI







400 militants waiting to cross LoC into Kashmir: Army
NDTV Correspondent, Sunday March 28, 2010, Srinagar  At least four-hundred militants are waiting across the Line of Control (LoC) to sneak into Kashmir, the Army has said.  Talking to media in Srinagar, Brigadier General Staff (BGS) of the 15 Corps, Brigadier Gurmeet Singh said, "Four hundred militants are waiting at launch pads to sneak into the valley."  He said, "This year we have occupied additional counter infiltration positions and repair of border fence has also commenced early."  The BGS said that between 270 and 300 militants were still active in Kashmir valley.  The Army had last week foiled a major infiltration bid in the Keran sector of the LoC and eliminated the complete group comprising of eight militants.  "The area of infiltration is high altitude, with rugged mountains and is snow laden, currently having 12 to 15 feet of snow. Terrorists, as is evident from the recoveries, were heavily armed, well equipped for snow and high altitude area and had the latest communication and navigation equipment, indicative of the support of intelligence and government agencies from across the LoC," Brigadier Gurmeet Singh said.








Agni-I successfully test-fired off Orissa coast
Press Trust of India, Sunday March 28, 2010, Balasore, Orissa India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed, nuclear-capable, short range ballistic missile (SRBM) Agni-I on Sunday from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island, about 100 km from here off the Orissa coast.       "It was a fantastic mission carried out by the Indian Army. The test-fire of the Agni-I missile met all parameters," director of ITR S P Dash told PTI.      Blasted off from a rail mobile launcher, the surface-to-surface, single-stage missile, powered by solid propellants, roared into the sky trailing behind a column of orange and white thick smoke at about 1305 hours.      "After piercing the sky, the missile re-entered the earth's atmosphere and its dummy warhead impacted in the waters of the Bay of Bengal in the down range," a defence official said from the launch site, adding that the guidance and re-entry system worked well.      User of the missile, the strategic force command of the Indian Army, executed the entire launch operation with the necessary logistic support being provided by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) at the integrated test range (ITR).      Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15 metre tall Agni-I, which can carry payloads weighing up to one tonne, has already been inducted into the Indian Army.                                   







India tests nuclear-capable Agni-I ballistic missile
Press Trust of India / Balasore (orissa) March 28, 2010, 17:27 IST  India today successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable, 700-km range ballistic missile Agni-I from Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast, a day after launching two other short-range missiles.  "It was a fantastic mission carried out by the Indian Army. The test-firing of the Agni-I missile met all parameters," S P Dash, the director of Integrated Test Range on the island, about 100 km from here, told PTI.  Fired from a rail mobile launcher, the surface-to-surface, single-stage missile, powered by solid fuel, roared into the sky leaving behind a column of thick orange and white smoke at about 1305 hours.  "After piercing the sky, the missile re-entered the earth's atmosphere and its dummy warhead impacted in the waters of the Bay of Bengal in the down range," a defence official said from the launch site, adding that the guidance and re-entry system worked well.  The missile was equipped with a new navigational technology which helps it to home on to the target. During today's test-launch, the weapon system achieved a precision-hit after reaching a height of 300 kms, defence sources said in New Delhi.  The user of the missile, the Strategic Force Command of the Indian Army, executed the entire launch operation with the necessary logistic support being provided by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).  Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-metre-tall Agni-I, which can carry payloads of upto one tonne, has already been inducted into the Army.  "The command chain has been validated. This is a major step in the preparedness of the Army in using this weapon system. We have reached the full range capability of the missile," said a DRDO scientist.  The entire trajectory of today's mission was tracked by a battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry and electro-optic systems and a naval ship anchored close to the impact point.  India had successfully test-fired two nuclear-capable short-range ballistic missiles Prithvi-II and Dhanush in quick succession from different locations off Orissa coast yesterday.  Dhanush was test-fired from INS Subhadra, about 50 nautical miles from Puri, while Prithvi-II was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the ITR.  Prithvi-II has a range of 295 km while Dhanush, the naval version of Prithvi, can cruise upto 350 km.  On March 22, the super-sonic cruise missile BrahMos, jointly developed by India and Russia, was successfully test-launched from INS Ranvir, also off the Orissa coast.






No repeal of controversial Army law: Antony 
Ruling out the repeal of a controversial law that gives the Indian Army unfettered powers of arrest in the northeast, Defence Minister AK Antony said on Wednesday that steps would instead be taken to make it more "humane".  He also said peace talks with an influential Naga separatist group were on track and that the situation in neighbouring Manipur, once "badly affected" by terrorism, was "improving".  Speaking to reporters in this garrison town, 40 kms from Nagaland's commercial capital Dimapur, as he wound up a two-day visit to the northeast, his first since assuming office, the minister also ruled out joint operations with Myanmar to root out Indian rebel groups that had taken shelter in its territory, saying the issue would be tackled through diplomatic means.  Earlier on Wednesday, Antony flew to an Army base at Dinjan, over 500 kms from Assam's principal city of Guwahati, for a briefing on the operations against the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) that is blamed for the killing of 61 Hindi-speaking people in a spate of violent incidents since last Friday. Eleven others, including five policemen and three ULFA cadres, have been killed in different incidents during this period.  Antony, who arrived in Tezpur on Tuesday, held a high-level meeting with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, the Indian Army Chief Gen JJ Singh and other officials to discuss the ongoing operations against ULFA.  Antony was categorical in his reply when asked about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that various groups have charged the Army with misusing under the garb of controlling terrorism.  "The act will stay but with a few amendments. It should be possible to make it more humane," he asserted, adding: "The law has to stay otherwise how else will we meet the threat posed by ULFA?"  "The Army operates in a difficult situation where the lives of soldiers are in danger. When they operate in such difficult situations, they need special protection," the minister maintained.  Referring to the ceasefire with Naga rebel groups that has been in place since 1997, he stated that "talks are on very smoothly to find a honourable solution" to the issue.  "The government of India is very serious and sincere to find a peaceful solution to the Naga problem," Antony asserted, adding: "There is an atmosphere of peace in the state and all round support for finding a peaceful solution."  Indian government interlocutors are scheduled to hold another round of talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).  As for Manipur, Antony said the situation had improved to the extent that "government officials can work without fear". In this context, he said the successful conduct of assembly polls next month "would be a great boost to the peace process".  Speaking about Myanmar, the minister said there was "concern" over ULFA rebels sheltering in its territory "but we will not interfere in the internal affairs of another country".  "We have conveyed our concern and we hope (the Myanmar government) will take it up", Antony said, even as he maintained that relations between the two countries, particularly in the defence sphere, "are now stronger". http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/198954.aspx








Summer rush: 10 militants gunned down along border
TNN, Mar 28, 2010, 01.12am IST SRINAGAR/JAMMU: In a clear indication that terror traffic has increased with the melting of winter snows, Indian soldiers on Saturday encountered and killed 10 heavily armed terrorists in separate border areas of J&K.  Officials say equipment and technology — ground sensors and electrified fences along the LoC — have made it difficult to infiltrate and driven terrorists to desperation. The terrorists have started taking greater risks by trying to sneak into the Valley in March and April, instead of the traditional infiltration season between May and August when the snow-bound routes across the LoC are fully open.  Defence spokesman Lt Col J S Brar said six terrorists were killed in an ongoing operation against the infiltrators at Keran along the LoC in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Earlier, three terrorists were killed in the operation that Army’s 12 JAK Rifles launched in a densely forested area on Wednesday evening. ‘‘One terrorist was killed on Wednesday while two more were killed on Thursday,’’ a source said.  The operation was launched when security forces noticed the movement of some terrorists in the area, who are believed to have been part of a group that sneaked into India from PoK on Wednesday. The spokesman said the operation was on when the reports last came in. ‘‘A search operation is still in progress and the identity of the slain terrorists is yet to be ascertained.’’ In another encounter at Kalakote in Rajouri district, security forces killed two Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists, following a tip-off from the army’s Counter-Intelligence and Surveillance Unit.  Defence spokesman Lt Col Biplabh Nath said arms, ammunition and sophisticated navigation equipment, including a GPS device, a satellite phone, a compass and a matrix sheet, were recovered from the two terrorists — Abu Soraab and Abu Osama. Around the same time, two more LeT terrorists, including a battalion commander, were killed along the banks of Merul river in the neighbouring Poonch district. The defence spokesman identified the two as Rehmatullah and Nisar Ahmed. ‘‘The slain terrorists were responsible for reviving the LeT in Kishtwar district,’’ he said.  CISU has warned of an increase in the infiltration attempts from across the border. Apart from the technology, the security forces have also over the years effectively countered infiltration, thanks to effective human intelligence gathering. The success reflects in the considerable decrease in violence in J&K. In 2009, the violence dipped by around 20% to its lowest levels since 1989.  Seventeen terrorists and eight soldiers were killed in March last year in a protracted gunbattle along the LoC in Kupwara.  The battle to thwart the heavily-armed terrorist mini-incursion had lasted five straight days and broken a lull that had set in as snow blocked the infiltration routes.  J&K CM Omar Abdullah had said last year that earlier, the rule of infiltration was that it was nonexistent during the winter months. June to September used to be the peak infiltration season, before the passes closed up yet again. Now, March-April is seen as the peak infiltration, when the snow starts melting and makes the ground sensors dysfunctional.



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