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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 11 May 2010

Security norms not against China: Sharma
Press Trust of India / New Delhi May 10, 2010, 20:14 IST  India's security norms for the import of critical telecom and power equipment are not targeted against China, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said today.  "I do not think it is China-specific...," Sharma said when asked whether Chinese officials would take up the issue with India.  He said while there is no blanket ban on sourcing of critical equipment to India, "There are certain security parameters which have been defined by the concerned agencies from the Ministry of Home Affairs."  Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has landed himself in a controversy over his remarks in Beijing last week that the Home Ministry needed to be "much more relaxed" in its approach to Chinese investments in India.  He had said that the security establishment was putting "needless" restrictions on Chinese investments in India, as "We are imagining demons where there are none."  Meanwhile, Chinese experts had called for consultations between the countries to sort out differences.  "India cannot reject Chinese imports citing security reasons...," Executive Council member of the China Society for WTO studies He Weiwen had said in Beijing recently.  Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp had told the China Daily that their $150 million orders for telecom equipment have not yet been cleared by the Indian government.

Chinese intrusions become frequent
Rajat Pandit , TNN, May 11, 2010, 03.18am IST NEW DELHI: China continues to intrude into Indian territory in the real as well as virtual worlds with sheer impunity. Along with mounting cyber-attacks, China persists in needling India all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC).  At least three incursions by motorised armed patrols of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the strategically-located Trig Heights and Pangong Tso lake were recorded during last week, said sources on Monday.  Chinese "transgressions'' into these sectors in Eastern Ladakh this year have registered "a sharp jump'', ranging from 27% to 52%, as compared to the same timeframe in 2009. "Just in Trig Heights area, for instance, almost 30 Chinese transgressions have already been witnessed this year,'' said a source.  Similarly, both the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, two-third of which is controlled by China as it extends from India to Tibet at an altitude of 4,218 metres, record incursions by Chinese foot, vehicle and boat patrols on a regular basis.  This continuing cat-and-mouse game to strengthen its claims over disputed areas is yet another indicator that China has very little intention of softening its posture in the protracted border talks with India to delineate the 4,057-km LAC.  Indian troops, of course, also indulge in similar moves but they are nowhere near as aggressive as the assertive border management policy of the 2.25-million strong PLA, which has already unnerved the Indian defence establishment with its massive build-up of military infrastructure in the border areas.  This flexing of muscles is not restricted to Eastern Ladakh alone. It spreads across all the three sectors -- western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) -- of the LAC. "Chinese armed patrols, for instance, have intruded in the Asaphila sector of Arunachal as well this year,'' said a source.  Even Sikkim, which India considers to be "a settled matter'' after the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to China in 2003, has not been impervious to incursions across the state's 206-km border with Tibet. The so-called 2.1 sq km "finger area'', the northern-most tip of Sikkim, for instance, is still on China's radar screen.  The UPA government, however, continues to publicly downplay all these concerns. The consistent official line is that the transgressions take place due to "differing perceptions'' of the unresolved LAC, with both New Delhi and Beijing trying to "amicably resolve'' the issue through talks.  But the concern underneath can be gauged from the fact the Border Roads Organisation is now being pulled out of Naxal-hit areas to concentrate on infrastructure build-up in forward areas.  This has become necessary because of the tardy progress in the construction of the 73 all-weather roads earmarked for the Sino-Indian border, with only a dozen ready till now.  Then, of course, apart from beginning to base Sukhoi-30MKI fighters in North-East as well as upgrading airstrips and helipads, India is also raising two new specialised infantry mountain divisions (35,000 soldiers) and an artillery brigade for Arunachal Pradesh.  India also plans to progressively base six surface-to-air Akash missile squadrons in the North-East to counter the threat posed by Chinese fighters, helicopters and drones in the region.

Firm seeks to raise money for visual sensing systems
Serial Innovations' indigenous technology is aimed primarily at the defence, security and media industries Shraddha Nair Mumbai: Cameras that raise an alarm if someone parks a car illegally or leaves something behind in it, help combat vehicles avoid obstacles and potential explosives, and even assist in displaying advertising appropriate to the audience—these are some of the devices Serial Innovations India Pvt. Ltd (SITPL), a three-year-old, Bangalore-based start-up, has been working on. Loading video... SITPL builds visual sensing systems that sense, analyse and control complex environments, catering primarily to the defence, security and media industries. The intelligent cameras are of various kinds— multi-sensor, three-dimensional (3D) stereo vision, night and panoramic vision—all constantly relaying information about the immediate environment. It is looking to raise money by the end of this year from either strategic or financial investors. "Finding IP (intellectual property)-strong companies in India with different technology is rare," said Manik Arora, founder and managing director of venture capital firm IDG Ventures India Advisors Pvt. Ltd. "However most products need to have more than just technology to succeed; good start-ups succeed if they pick the right market." Stereo vision: (from left) SITPL's Arvind Lakshmikumar, Sudeep George and Ankit Kumar are targeting the $200-300 mn, global speciality camera space. Hemant Mishra / Mint Stereo vision: (from left) SITPL's Arvind Lakshmikumar, Sudeep George and Ankit Kumar are targeting the $200-300 mn, global speciality camera space. Hemant Mishra / Mint The company is technically not a start-up—it was a Sarnoff Corp. subsidiary that Arvind Lakshmikumar and Timothy Mitchell bought out in 2007. The duo had no rights over the products they had helped develop for the former parent and had to recreate the expertise from scratch. "The idea was to build this technology indigenously here because the Indian defence industry and other users of high-end imaging equipment import it from Israel or the US," said Lakshmikumar, adding that such imports are both expensive and hard to configure for local use. Traditionally, camera images need to be interpreted by a human for actionable follow- up; smart devices can do most of this work on their own. The biggest taker for the technology is the Indian military: SITPL's major clients include the research laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, part of the ministry of defence. These include the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment in Chennai, the Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) in Pune, the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and the Aeronautical Development Establishment, the last two of which are based in Bangalore The firm, which Lakshmikumar said has had an average turnover of Rs10 crore in the past three years, is targeting the $200-300 million (Rs900- 1,350 crore) speciality camera space worldwide, he said. The Pune lab has already run a pilot with SITPL and plans to use a 3D stereo camera in one of its products, Daksh, a remote-controlled robot that can X-ray and defuse bombs. "With conventional cameras, you don't get depth perception, so we use stereo vision, which helps the robot see the object and gauge distance," said Alok Mukherjee, joint director and a scientist at the institute, about the camera's utility. In contrast with regular cameras, SITPL devices offer a view that's close to what the human eye sees. "Only three companies in the world provide this technology," said Mukherjee. "We already got an order for 20 such robots from the Indian Army and will incorporate SITPL's camera in our next batch." SITPL's technology also has uses in the media and ad industry, and is currently running a pilot project in Amritsar with Cinepolis multiplex, a Mexico-headquartered cinema chain. "We have made a system which analyses people watching a display and can tell you how many people watch this screen or how many of them are male, female, children or adults," said Lakshmikumar. In theory, the camera analyses the information and automatically displays advertising tailored to that demographic, a business that the company has branded stickyPiXEL. "It's real-time, proactive advertising and we make the core technology for that," said Lakshmikumar. The firm has had some feelers from prospective investors. "There is an Indian company and a European company which have shown interest," he said, adding that the technology could be of interest to some of the country's big firms, while overseas firms could use this route to enter the Indian market. Globally, the firm faces stiff competition from well-entrenched firms, such as Elbit Systems Ltd and Point Grey Research, Inc. in defence, Honeywell International Inc., Mobotix AG and Cernium Corp. in security and Tru-media Llc, Quividi and CognoVision Solutions Inc. in media.

Times Square Conspiracy Against Pakistan 
Monday, May 10, 2010 at 6:17 pm under On May 1 this year, a car loaded with fireworks, petrol, propane and fertiliser was discovered in New York's Times Square. On May 3, American law-enforcement officials arrested a Pakistani-born US citizen, Faisal Shahzad suspected for the failed attempt, revealing that he attended a terror training camp in Pakistan. On May 2, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the foiled Times Square attempt and its leader Hakeemullah Mehsud, appeared in videos on the internet, threatening suicide attacks on major US citizens. Notably, on May 6, TTP has denied any involvement in relation to the Times Square event saying: "We have no connection with Faisal Shahzad." This contradiction in the statements indicates that it was individual act of Faisal Shahzad, while he had no link with a terrorist group. This fact has also been verified by the US General David Petraeus who said that the Times Square bombing suspect is a "lone wolf" who did not work with others. Gen Petraeus further disclosed that the alleged bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was inspired by terrorists in Pakistan, but did not have direct contact with them.  The fact of the matter is that the failed attempt at the Times Square was a conspiracy against Pakistan. In this regard, agents of the Indian secret agency RAW and those of the Israeli Mossad who are well-penetrated in the American CIA have prepared that plot in order to achieve a number of designs against Islamabad. If we go through the reports of Indian media, Reuters and other western news agencies, we can witness in connection with Times Square device that it was a trick to keep Pakistan under pressure and push it to go after the Haqqani network in North Waziristan. In this context, the Reuters reported, "Any links between Pakistan's Taliban and a failed bombing in New York's Times Square could put the country under renewed US pressure to open risky new fronts against Islamic militants." Now, US counter-terrorism officials and investigators are trying to create a link between Faisal Shahzad and the TTP, while some officials of the western countries are also doing the same. However, another purpose of the failed incident was to instigate Washington to accelerate the drone strikes on Pakistan's tribal areas.  In the recent past, Pakistan's armed forces achieved successes in the Swat-Malakand and South Waziristan operations by breaking the backbone of the Taliban militants. These military operations were highly appreciated by the western leaders, especially those of the US. Thus good image of Pakistan was restored in the western countries which have given million dollars to Islamabad. In this respect, Times Square episode could be part of a conspiracy to tarnish the image of Pakistan which it has earned by decimating the terrorists' infrastructure and strongholds. It looks to be an artifice to de-track the Obama Administration which has been releasing economic and military aid for Islamabad to overcome its economic difficulties and also to equip the Pakistan Army to effectively take on the militants. Particularly, Indian sinister designs against Pakistan could be judged from the statement of its defence minister who warned the US on May 7 against providing military supplies to Pakistan, saying the hardware could be diverted to target India. The warning came after Washington in March made it clear that it would deliver unarmed drones to Pakistan and less than a month after, it unveiled plans to transfer $600 million to Islamabad to pay for anti-terrorist operations.  It is notable that in the recent past, Pakistan gained much success through the London Conference and the Pak-US strategic dialogue which frustrated Indians. In this respect, India which left no stone unturned in isolating Pakistan diplomatically had failed to manipulate the Mumbai carnage of November 26 in maligning Islamabad.  Nevertheless, especially, Indian RAW with the tactical support of Mossad and CIA agents played a key role in motivating Faisal Shahzad to seek revenge against Americans. In this regard, RAW indirectly used so-called Indian Muslim scholars for brain-washing and indoctrination of Faisal. Occupation of Afghanistan coupled with air and ground shelling by the US-led forces including drone attacks on Pakistan, resulting in larger casualties of the innocent persons was enough to motivate Faisal Shahzad against America. Besides, some other aim of the Times Square act was that India wanted to increase the difficulties of Pakistanis, living in the United States, and intended to ensure their arrests, detentions and tortures under the pretext of the suspected persons.  It is of particular attention as to how the suspected Faisal was able to drive the car all the way to Times Square, and as to why American agencies failed to check the car on the way? And when he reached the destination, what stopped him from carrying out the explosion? All this indicates that the main purpose behind was again to bring Pakistan into global limelight as a terrorist state, while it was the individual act of a non-state actor and no official involvement of Islamabad was proved.  In the recent days, a number of developments occurred with rapid succession which particularly show that New Delhi and its intelligence agency, RAW are conspiring against Pakistan by discrediting the latter on each and every occasion. In the end of April, Madhuri Gupta, a second secretary in Indian High Commission in Islamabad was arrested on charges of spying for Pakistan's spy agency ISI. She was accused of having visited the border area in Jammu and Kashmir and stayed with a doctor couple on March 28 and 29, this year. One fails to understand that when Indian spy agency had the information one month ago, why it was kept as secret only to be released at the time of SAARC Summit which was held in Thimpu, Bhutan on April 28-29, this year. Notably, before the SAARC Summit, the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai visited New Delhi so as to get briefing from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and he spoke in line of the speech of Singh at the Summit.  Although, Indian media had published reports of Madhuri Gupta's relations with a Pakistani, yet Indian officials said they did not have exact information on the kind of relationship the diplomat had with the doctor family. She was accused of passing sensitive information to Pakistan. Close on the heels of the arrest of Madhuri Gupta, another Indian official, a senior police officer of the Tamil cadre, posted as an attaché in the Indian high commission at Islamabad has also been called back on suspicion of spying against New Delhi. Nonetheless, there were contradictions in Indian government's statements regarding these two diplomats. In fact, RAW fabricated false allegations against its own diplomats as part of a pre-planned scheme against Pakistan. Meanwhile, on May 6, Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks was sentenced to death. The timings of these developments can not be seen in isolation; they are inter-related and even have links with the Times Square plot against Pakistan.  Recently, Indian Minister for External Affairs S M Krishna announced that he would speak to his counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi soon after the end of the session of the Indian Parliament. According to Indian daily, The Hindu, these interactions were agreed upon by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Thimphu to address the trust deficit between the two countries. A few days ago, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Quereshi admitted that the US and EU pressurized India to conduct dialogue with Pakistan. In the recent past, the Indian opposition, particularly the BJP critcised remarking that New Delhi has softened its stance on terrorism and conducted secretary-level talks with Pakistan under the duress of America. Now one of the important aims of the Time Squares conspiracy coupled with already mentioned developments is not only to create foreign pressure on Islamabad, but is also to strengthen Indian bargaining position and to get leverage on various issues, especially the Indian-occupied Kashmir during talks with Pakistan. In this context, India could also use delaying tactics in settling the various issues with Islamabad.  Renowned political scholars like Machiavelli and Morgenthau remark that in international politics, sometimes leaders and rulers have to choose between the lesser evil and the greater evil, while using unfair means. And in these circumstances, deceit and fraud become the principles of international morality. In this connection, Times Square conspiracy against Pakistan should not come as a surprise move. Indian RAW with the support of Mossad and CIA has prepared it in order to achieve multiple purposes against Islamabad.  Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Army man in Bhajan Lal line of fire
Shiv Aroor and Manaman Singh Chhina New Delhi/Chandigarh, May 10, A serving major-general of the Indian Army has been accused of severe irregularities. While scams and controversies are nothing unusual for the army, it's the identity of the complainant that has raised several eyebrows this time - Bhajan Lal, the former chief minister of Haryana who is currently a Lok Sabha MP from Hisar.  Headlines Today has the exclusive copy of a letter - written on April 7 - from Lal to Defence Minister A.K. Antony. The letter levels serious and comprehensive charges against Kamal Mohey, currently the Major-General Army Service Corps (MGASC) at the sword-arm Western Command Headquarters near Chandigarh.  The letter states: "I would like to bring to your kind notice the serious charges of corruption and irregularities committed by Major-General Kamal Mohey that is bringing a very bad name to the Indian Army."  The Haryana Janhit Congress MP then lists out five hard-hitting "charges" against the officer, including acts of commission in contractual purchases of daily rations such as meat, milk and fruit, leading to losses running into crores.  Antony refused to divulge much about the letter. He said: "Whenever there are allegations, an inquiry will happen. There may be some lapses here and there, but we will not ignore allegations. In the army, justice is delivered much faster than other organisations."  The defence spokesperson in Chandigarh said the Western Command HQ was not aware of any complaint made by Lal, but he said the "letter itself is scurrilous". Mohey refused to comment on the matter, despite repeated attempts to contact him at his office and residence. A colleague of the officer, however, said: "He does not know where these allegations have come from or why he is being targeted like this.  But he has full faith in the army's law and justice, and will cooperate with any process (that is) deemed necessary to get to the bottom of the matter. "In the meanwhile, the content of Lal's letter has made the army big-wigs suspicious about its motive.  Lal has ended his letter saying, "Major-General Mohey's promotion should be held back so as to stop corrupt officials from reaching the highest echelon of any service. "This statement has more or less convinced the army that vested interests within the service - Mohey's course mates, for example - may be at work. The authorities suspect they may have colluded with the contractor - who supplies the ration - to convince Lal. The motive could be to end his chances of being promoted as a Lieutenant-General, or a potential future appointment as the Director General Supply & Transport (DGST), the highest appointment for any Army Service Corps officer.  Using political or bureaucratic contacts to make or break career prospects isn't new in the armed forces. But till an inquiry verifies the truth, the allegations made by Lal cannot be ignored by the Indian Army.

India 'too late' in artillery modernisation: Army chief
Submitted by Raman Iyer on Mon, 05/10/2010 - 12:38      New Delhi, May 10 : India has been "too late" in acquiring modern artillery and needs to accelerate its efforts to modernise its firepower in an era in which advanced nations have gone far ahead, the army chief, Gen. V. K. Singh, said Monday.  Singh, who assumed office March 31, said though Indian artillery was in the process of major modernisation, the induction of more powerful guns like 155mm/52 calliber guns of the ultra-light, wheeled and self-propelled varieties was not proceeding at the desired pace.  "Are we not late vis-à-vis other modern artilleries," he asked while addressing the Third International Seminar on Artillery Technology organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).  He stressed that it was "imperative" that India modernised its artillery systematically to compete with the best in the world. "While other advanced nations have leapt far ahead in the field, we are still lagging behind."  The army chief cautioned that any delay in this regard would render the gap between the frontrunners and laggers "impossible to be narrowed" down. "We certainly need to catch up, and catch up fast. We have to take much longer strides and accelerate our efforts," he added.  Citing the example of some artillery equipment, like the Smerch Russian-made multiple rocket launcher, that is still in the process of induction, the army chief said: "The so-called modern weapons are, in fact, already in the process of replacement in the developed countries. Smerch has been in service in Russia since 1990 and we are still inducting it in our army."  "Such a state is disturbing and most unwarranted, and merits urgent rectification," he added.  Singh said India also needed to upgrade its existing equipment to make it "akin to the state-of-the-art, and provide it with extra life".  He also sought more interaction between the armed forces and the DRDO, India's premier defence research organisation, for the development of better artillery and missile technology to make the country's defence self-reliant.  "Such concerted and coordinated efforts would surely lead to a technologically modernised Indian Army in a foreseeable future. However, such an approach can only be successful if there is a high degree of understanding amongst the partners," he said, cautioning that "an element of ego in any of the partners" will a "great setback" to the partnership.  The army has been waiting for 23 years for new field guns and at long last, in January, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified the country's Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to India of 145 M777 155mm ultra-light howitzers with Laser Inertial Artillery Pointing Systems (LINAPS) and associated parts, equipment, training and logistical support for a complete package worth approximately $647 million.  The Indian Army, however, is yet to take a decision on another 250 towed and self-propelled 155mm guns.  The army had purchased 410 Bofors 155mm howitzers in 1986 but the deal was mired in corruption charges and the name of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was dragged in. The Supreme Court eventually found no wrongdoing but the taint stuck to Bofors, as a result of which it was not considered for a new order.  The gun had performed admirably during the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan but only some 200 are operational now due to normal wear-and-tear and cannibalisation. (IANS)

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