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Thursday, 3 June 2010

From Today's Papers - 03 Jun 2010

  Maoists need to be defeated Talking of development alone won’t help
by Harsh V. Pant  Let no one be in any doubt that the Maoists are fighting a war to the finish with the Indian State. And unless the Indian State can credibly demonstrate its ability to stand up to the threat being posed by the Naxalites, it is by no means certain that the Maoists will lose. At the moment, they clearly have the upper hand. The Maoists are not only targeting the nation’s security forces.   More menacingly, even the civilians are no longer out of their range as the landmine blast leading to the death of more than 25 civilians recently in Dantewada underlines.  The Maoist attack on a private bus last week was the second major such incident after the April 6 happening at Tadmetla that ended in the massacre of 76 security personnel. There is a systematic campaign going on not only to demoralise the paramilitary forces and stall anti-Naxal operations but also to instil fear among the civilians to prevent them from cooperating with the security forces.  Unfortunately, even when faced with as dire a threat as Maoism, the Indian political class has found it difficult to speak in one voice. The Home Minister will once again try to convince the Cabinet on the need for air support to back police action on the ground after previously failing to garner the support of the Cabinet Committee on Security about the desirability of such a course of action. Meanwhile, Mr Chidambaram’s detractors are more interested in neutralising the Home Minister than in confronting the Maoists. Mr Digvijay Singh has not only publicly questioned Mr Chidambaram’s approach in tackling Naxalism but has also attacked him for not knowing the terrain of the area. He has openly demanded a rethink of the government’s strategy of fighting Naxalism and accused Mr Chidambaram of “intellectual arrogance.” And his own remedy refuses to move away from banalities: “We have to win over the people of the area…”  Mr Chidambaram was forced to make a fresh offer of talks after the Dantewada attack last week if the Maoists suspend violence even for just 72 hours but was rebuffed. The Maoists know that they are winning at the moment, so there’s hardly any incentive to come to the negotiating table. Operation Green Hunt, the 100,000-troop-strong counter-offensive against the Maoists launched last year, has not worked as per the expectations of its planners.  The conventional wisdom on tackling Naxalism, much prevalent amidst the Indian liberal intelligentsia, suggests that this is a mere socio-economic problem. And only if we can provide jobs to the disaffected youth and win their hearts and minds, can we prevent Maoism from spreading. This assumption is the basis for the developmental package that the government has announced for the Naxal-infested areas where significant development aid is now being channelled in the hope that this will help in alleviating the perception of alienation from the national mainstream.  It is true that good governance and economic growth have simply passed over certain parts of India, and the Naxalites thrive in this developmental and governance vacuum, often supplanting the State's legitimacy. And as the State's authority has eroded, the Maoists have moved in to fill this vacuum by erecting parallel structures of governance. According to some estimates, the Maoist movement has nearly 40,000 permanent members and 100,000 additional militia members spread across 22 of India’s 35 states and territories. They have established their own regimes that dispense justice, extort taxes and provide security. The insurgency of the Naxals is funded by extortion to the tune of Rs14 billion each year.  Development, however, is never the goal of such movements. It is all about power. A multi-pronged strategy is needed to tackle Naxalism and one of the planks will have to be to ensure that the developmental aid trickles down to those at the very bottom of the nation's socio-economic ladder. But this should not mean that the military defeat of the Maoists should be put on the back-burner. For far too long there has been a complacent attitude towards fighting these forces. There has been an absurd sentimentality about the Maoists' leftist pretensions.  The argument went that these are idealistic, well-intentioned people who have gone awry, but soon they will recognise the benefits of participatory democracy and start engaging with the nation's electoral process. The Congress party remains ambivalent about defeating Maoism and we keep hearing clichés suggesting that development is the only way to tackle the menace of Naxalism.  Only a dimwit would argue that development should not be a part of the solution, but development can only take place once the Maoists have been militarily neutralised. There can be no credible development programme when civilians and security personnel are getting killed day in and day out. The Maoists have no interest in development nor do those politicians who only talk about development to score partisan points. The tacit alliance of the Maoists with some political parties needs to be exposed.  There is no substitute for good governance. After failing to provide corruption-free governance for decades, sections of the political class have the gall to shed crocodile tears for those who have found it difficult to enjoy the fruits of India’s economic development. The politicians who have been ruling the states where Naxalism is thriving are as culpable in the present travesty as those who are wielding the guns without any compunction. Sections of the Indian intelligentsia continue to buy the arguments of the Maoists about the grievances that motivate the Maoist rank and file. This has led them to equate illegitimate Maoists actions with the actions of the legitimate State.  The indiscriminate nature of their killings and the brutality of their methods should be enough to convince anyone who chooses to see that the real aim of the Maoists is to establish a totalitarian state. For years, Naxals have been killing security personnel and civilians continuously and consistently with a ruthlessness that is unprecedented, but the Indian State has tended to look the other way while celebrity activists have tended to justify these acts on all sorts of moral grounds.  The Maoist insurgency is a blatantly illegal and no-holds-barred war against the Indian State, against the idea and existence of Indian democracy, and that includes the poor tribals and farmers for whose cause the Maoists claim to fight. It is not only ignorant but also extremely dangerous to romanticise the Naxal cause. The main task of great urgency before the government today, therefore, is a military defeat of the anti-democratic Naxal forces. New Delhi needs to re-establish its authority, creating conditions for pursuing an inclusive political process and developmental agenda.

  The spectre of China Beijing working towards a uni-polar Asia
by Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (retd)  President Pratibha Patil has got a Chinese assurance on a permanent seat in the UNSC President Pratibha Patil has got a Chinese assurance on a permanent seat in the UNSC — Reuters  An exchange of visit between nations at the political level generally helps soften their previously held positions. During President Pratibha Patil’s recent visit to China, President Hu Jintao assured the Indian dignitary on May 27 that China was ready to discuss India’s quest for a permanent seat in the UNSC.   Though without any clear commitment, as the Chinese leadership gave in the case of a non-permanent seat for the year 2010-2011, India views China’s forthright statement to discuss the issue as a change of stance and a positive development in an otherwise trust deficit relationship. The Chinese leadership also agreed to the need for consolidating mutual relationship and maintaining “peace and tranquillity” all along the border.  Notwithstanding, China’s long-term strategic objectives vis-a-vis India are unlikely to change in the near future.The Sino-Indian relations have remained unresolved despite protracted negotiations at the political level. To date, China continues to occupy nearly 40,000 of Indian territory, including 5100 sq. km of Shaksgam valley handed over to it illegally by Pakistan.  It also lays claim to the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh. Although, it desires a peaceful periphery in order to concentrate on its comprehensive national development and has resolved border disputes with all its neighbours on terms equally acceptable to both sides, it continues to avoid a solution with India, perhaps waiting for some more opportune time.  In all other cases, except Vietnam and ASEAN’S maritime boundary, it has settled disputes almost on the basis of fifty, fifty give and take. With Kazakhstan, it has gone ahead and given up most of its initial claim because of that country’s vast and much needed oil assets.  From all indications, it appears that China is no hurry to settle the Sino-Indian dispute. And yet it has managed to ensure a peaceful LAC by getting India to commit to a treaty of “peace and tranquillity” in 1993. It has thus ensured that the dispute resolution is relegated to a distant future when it expects itself politico-economically and military more comfortable.  China has similarly managed to commit the ASEAN to a “stand still” agreement. In both cases, China is sitting pretty with large chunks of adversary’s land in its possession. China does not want to get involved in any major war with any of its neighbours that may impede its national development.  Although, the probability of a large-scale conflict along the 4056 km border is low, periodic armed clashes in no man’s land may escalate the level of tension. Till China becomes a major global power, it will continue to follow a dual track policy of keeping India on tenterhooks by aggressive posturing coupled with maintaining strategic stability.  Meanwhile, China has embarked upon a dual policy of enhancing its influence in India’s immediate neighbourhood with a view to counterveiling India’s regional pre-eminence and making use of the time now available for building infrastructure in the Tibetan plateau north of Himalayas. Despite this being a laborious and time-consuming process because of the elevation that varies between 10,000 ft and 16,000 ft and the weather generally cold and dry and the land arid, China has made a substantial progress.  During the last ten years, China has managed to build a massive network of roads and railways. The road network runs north-south and east-west, covering almost the entire autonomous region of Tibet, including a direct road to Beijing. Most major cities are linked through these black topped, two or four lane roads for a fast movement of traffic. The plateau is also linked through this network of roads to the adjoining states Yunan and Xingjian etc. The total length of roads seemed to have doubled within this decade.  China has also simultaneously built nearly 2000 km of rail lines through the most treacherous route of permafrost soil at heights of 5,000 mtrs plus above mean sea level. This network is further likely to be extended to Shigatse and Yadong and later even to Chengdu. A large number of bridges and tunnels had to be constructed in most demanding conditions. But it has made travel and transportation of heavy goods comfortable and expeditious. It now takes nearly 48 hours to reach Beijing from Lhasa.  Knowing fully well that the Chinese have been working feverishly to enhance their fighting potential in Tibet, India continues to remain hamstrung in a politico-bureaucratic tangle. India has failed to comprehend the strategic relevance of road rail network in the northern region along the LAC. Whilst the Chinese will be in combat position in a matter of a day or two, India would be struggling for days to reach their sites. We seemed to have forgotten our recent history of the 1962 war. With our reactive modus operandi, the Indian Army is placed at a tremendous disadvantage.  Till very recently when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Arunachal Pradesh and discovered the asymmetry, we had ignored this strategically vital requirement. Funds sanctioned by the PM for building roads along the LAC will take years to fructify, Mere induction of a couple of mountain divisions and aircraft in the eastern sector will not meet the all-pervasive requirement of surface communication.  Besides, China is constantly at pains to prevent India’s rise. It did not take India’s 1998 nuclear test kindly. Later, it went on to block the India-specific waiver at the Nuclear Supplier Group in Vienna. It also tried to block the Asian Development Bank funding of projects in Arunachal Pradesh. China continues to show marked political, diplomatic and military aggressiveness towards India.  As per the latest information, China is planning to acquire land bases in Pakistan. With Tibet already linked with Pakistan through karakoram highway, China will thus have a direct access to the Arabian Sea through the Chinese built port of Gawadar on the Makran coast, besides being able to help Pakistan expeditiously when needed.  With similar facilities in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, China has managed to finally encircle India from all sides. It is also at the verge of getting similar concession from Bangladesh for a road and rail link between Chittagoan and Kunming, a large military and air base in land locked state of Yunan. It will pass through Myanmar and very close to India’s Tripura and Mizoram. Bangladesh is also likely to give direct land access to two of its sea ports. This will make China’s presence at sea all pervasive.  Competitive economic growth, strategic divergence and continuous territorial and boundary disputes are the potential sources of conflict scenario between India and China. The shelter given to the Dalai Lama by India is another sour point in mutual relations. China fears that India may exploit Tibetan nationalism and encourage clashes between the Tibetans and the Hans at some critical juncture.  China perceives these challenges as impediments in its rise as a dominant Asian power, thus precluding any possibility of co-existence with India in the Asian context. China wants a uni-polar Asia, whilst at the same time, it prefers a multi-polar world. India, on the other hand, feels that there is sufficient space for both to be accommodated for a twin-power Asia. The fight for space has led to a conflict situation that does n’t bode well for a stable Asia.  The writer is a former Director General, Defence Planning Staff

Helicopter crashes, naval pilot killed
Suresh Dharur/Tribune News Service  Hyderabad, June 2 A Naval pilot was killed and three others injured today when the helicopter in which they were travelling hit a high-tension electric wire and crashed into a rivulet near Visakhapatnam, the headquarters of Eastern Naval Command.  The mishap, involving a Chetak helicopter, occurred near coastal town of Anakapalle, about 50-km from Visakhapatnam, the police said. The chopper, which left Visakhapatnam on a routine training sortie, crashed into a rivulet after it got entangled in high tension electric wire while flying low, the Deputy Inspector General (Visakhapatnam range) Sowmya Mishra said.  Soon after the crash, the helicopter broke into two but did not catch fire. The seriously injured pilot, co-pilot and two other Naval personnel were rushed to a nearby hospital.  The pilot, Krishnan, died during treatment while the co-pilot Deepika Misra, Rishikesh and Trushara were said to be out of danger, the police said.

Tejas aircraft takes its first flight
Shubhadeep Choudhury/TNS  Bangalore, June 2 The dream of having a supersonic fighter jet of indigenous built came one step closer to realisation today when the Limited Series Production Tejas aircraft (LSP-4) took off from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited airport here for its first flight. The aircraft “an equipment standard needed for initial operational clearance” took off at 1110 hrs and landed 40 minutes later.  Test pilot, Group Captain Suneet Krishna, flew the aircraft to an altitude of 11 kms and went supersonic, touching 1.1 Mach speed. Test director, Group Captain D Chakravorty, guided him from the telemetry facility of National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) here.  A fighter plane flies in supersonic speed when it has already accomplished its mission and is being chased by enemy aircrafts. For testing, there was a plane chasing the Tejas LSP-4 during its first test flight. The chase aircraft (Tejas LSP-3) was flown by chief test pilot of NFTC, Group Captain RR Tyagi with Wing Commander Prabhu as the test director.  The test flight was supervised by Air Cmde Rohit Varma, Project Director (flight test) at NFTC. The flight was also witnessed by Commodre BS Prahar of the Navy. The Navy has a considerable stake in the Tejas programme as they want to replace their ageing fleet of Sea Harriers with the indigenous fighter. Importantly, the Tejas for the first time flew in the configuration that would be finally delivered to the Indian Air Force.

Indian Naval Chetak helicopter crashes near Vizag
Press Trust of India, Wednesday June 2, 2010, Visakhapatnam Navalcrashstorygrid216.jpgOne person has died and three were injured after a Chetak helicopter belonging to the Navy crashed on Wednesday morning into a river near Anakapally town, about 50 kilometres from Vizag.  In addition to the pilot, three other people were on board.  The accident took place after the chopper touched a high tension wire while flying low near Sarada river bridge.
Ehud Barak praises Israeli commandoes in flotilla attack Harinder Mishra/PTI / Jerusalem June 02, 2010, 19:03 IST  Showing no signs of remorse, Israel today praised the deadly raid carried out by its navy commandos on the humanitarian aid flotilla headed to Gaza, saying "there is no mercy for the weak" in the region and a strong defence was the only option.  Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak today visited the Shayetet 13 base in Atlit and praised the commandos who participated in the bloody raid on the Gaza-bound ships that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead and dozens others wounded, Army Radio reported.  "You carried out the mission and prevented the flotilla from reaching Gaza," Barak said.  "We need to always remember that we aren't North America or Western Europe.  "We live in the Middle East, in a place where there is no mercy for the weak and there aren't second chances for those who don't defend themselves.  "You were fighting for your lives – I saw it, and I heard it from your commanders," he said.  Barak was accompanied by Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, and Navy commander Eliezer Marom.  Nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed on Monday in clashes that occurred when Israeli naval commandos took control of the Mavi Marmara ship, one of the six aid ships intercepted by the IDF.  Seven Israeli soldiers were wounded, two seriously, when attacked by the activists.  Meanwhile, Israel has begun deporting the first batch of foreign activists apprehended aboard the aid carrying ships, the Foreign Ministry said today, indicating that the rest of the activists will be escorted out of the country throughout the day.  325 foreign activists, out of the 680 that participated in the mission, were transferred this morning from the Ela detention facility in Be'er Sheva to Ben Gurion Airport for flights to their countries of origins.  Another 186 activists were still at the prison but Israeli authorities were processing their release "at this moment," a prison service spokeswoman said.  In the face of mounting international criticism, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to deport all the foreign activists yesterday.  Israeli officials said that all the 680 activists held would be released, including two dozen that Israel had threatened to prosecute earlier on charges of assaulting its troops.

Indian army may be deployed to tackle Maoists 
RAHUL BEDI in New Delhi  Thu, Jun 03, 2010  INDIA’S FEDERAL government may deploy the military against armed Maoists rebels responsible for perpetuating terror and mass murder across a third of the country after provincial police and federal paramilitaries proved incapable of halting them.  The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by prime minister Manmohan Singh meets in New Delhi today to approve the military’s employment against the Maoists, responsible for killing nearly 200 civilians and over 100 security personnel since April.  Ahead of the CCS meeting, defence minister AK Antony conferred with the three service chiefs on Tuesday to discuss the military’s “calibrated” deployment on internal security duty against the rebels, its possible mandate and long-term security ramifications.  Over the past five years, over 4,000 people have died in violence unleashed by the banned Maoists, described by Mr Singh as India’s gravest internal security challenge since independence 63 years ago.  Last Friday, Maoist rebels sabotaged a passenger train, killing at least 145 people after it derailed and smashed headlong into a goods train in eastern India.  Past governments have been loath to employ the military to counter the spread of Maoist violence across some 250 of the country’s 620 administrative districts.  They believed such severe measures would only signal the obvious weakness of civil law and order instruments like the police and paramilitaries, ceding the rebels a tactical and moral victory. The military has been hesitant over such deployment as it is trained to kill its enemies with heavy force.  The use of Special Forces personnel has also not been ruled out to carry out targeted assassinations of senior Maoist leaders.  Since 1967, the Maoists have been pursuing their “People’s War” of agitation and propaganda. They levy taxes, dispense justice through kangaroo courts and determine the education and moral behaviour of locals. For the moment they control but do not hold territory.

Baby falls in borewell in Punjab, army tries rescue
(Lead) June 2nd, 2010  Batala, June 2 (IANS) A one-and-half-year old girl fell into a 200 feet deep, two feet wide borewell near Batala town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district Wednesday. Rescue operations by Indian Army officials to save the child were on in full swing, police said.  Indian Army officials, who reached the spot at Dhira village at around 2 p.m., are being assisted by the local police in this rescue operation.  According to police, Dilrajpreet Kaur accidentally fell into the borewell while playing in the courtyard of her uncle’s house.  “Indian Army officials from Tibri cantonment in Gurdaspur district have reached the village and started the rescue operation,” a police officer, who was present on the spot, told IANS.  “All precautionary measures are being taken while conducting the operation. A medical team has also been called. The child had skidded 29 feet down and so far army officials have dug out land up to 25 feet. It could take another two hours before we finally bring the child out,” he added.  In 2006, five-year-old Prince, who fell into a 53 feet deep and 1.5 feet wide shaft in Shahbad, Haryana, was saved after two days of rescue operations.  Batala town is around 250 km from state capital Chandigarh.

 India’s Cold Start Doctrine and Strategic Stability
Gurmeet Kanwal  Background  India and Pakistan have fought four short wars since independence, including the 1999 Kargil conflict. Though relations at the strategic level continue to be reasonably stable, instability persists at the tactical level. The Pakistan Army and the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate) have waged an unrelenting proxy war against India in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and elsewhere since 1988-89 through mercenary mujahideen belonging to international terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Tayebba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), among others. However, India has steadfastly conducted its counter-proxy war operations within its own territory – mainly to avoid the risk that military strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) may escalate to full-fledged conventional conflict, with the attendant risk of nuclear exchanges. The Indian military leadership nevertheless believes that there is space for limited conventional conflict below the nuclear threshold.  On December 13, 2001, ISI-backed Pakistani mujahideen had attacked India’s Parliament. This unprecedented escalation in Pakistan’s proxy war had led to widespread demands for punitive retaliatory strikes. Immediate air strikes and limited ground action inside ***************** Kashmir (***) would have sent the right message and would have been acceptable to the international community. However, India’s leaders chose to wait for the Indian armed forces to mobilise fully before initiating punitive action. The three Strike Corps (each comprising one armoured division, two to three infantry divisions and one independent armoured brigade, an artillery division or independent artillery brigade and ancillary support elements) took about three weeks to mobilise because of the long distances at which their major components were located from the border during peace time. By then, substantial international pressure had been brought to bear on India to desist from initiating any offensive action, not the least because the United States and NATO/ISAF forces had launched a campaign against the Taliban to effect a regime change in Afghanistan and needed Pakistan’s support for the logistics sustenance of their forces. Quest for a New Doctrine  After the 2001-02 military stand-off and India’s frustration at not being able to launch a swift military response, the Indian Army began to look for a new doctrine that would enable the country to achieve its political and military aims in a short war without running the risk of crossing Pakistan’s nuclear red lines. The doctrine was premised on two major elements. Certain readjustments were carried out to enhance the offensive operations capability of “Pivot” corps (defensive or ground holding corps), so as to make it possible to launch offensive operations virtually from a “cold start” to deny Pakistan the advantage of early mobilisation. This was to be combined with moving Strike Corps cantonments closer to the border, enabling them to deploy quickly.  It is believed that the second element of the Cold Start doctrine conceptualises a number of “integrated battle groups” (IBGs; divisional-size forces) launching limited offensive operations to a shallow depth, to capture a long swathe of territory almost all along the international boundary. The success achieved by the IBGs would be exploited by one or more Strike Corps, where possible, but without crossing Pakistan’s nuclear red lines. The captured territory would act as a bargaining chip to force Pakistan to wind down its institutional support to Jihadi elements. The overall aim would also be to destroy the Pakistan Army’s war waging potential through the application of asymmetric firepower from the ground (through long-range medium guns, rocket launchers and surface-to-surface and cruise missiles) and by way of massive air-to-ground battlefield air strikes. The logic behind the generation of massive asymmetries of firepower is simple: since it would be difficult to bring to battle and destroy Pakistan’s strategic reserves (Army Reserve North and Army Reserve South) through deep manoeuvre in a short, limited war, their combat potential can be substantially degraded only through the sustained application of ground-based and aerially delivered firepower. Impact on Strategic Stability  There are many punitive options short of war available to India to raise Pakistan’s cost in waging a proxy war. The Cold Start doctrine is one of them and is a work in progress. The doctrine has been carefully designed to avoid crossing Pakistan’s nuclear red lines through large-scale offensive operations with Strike Corps deep into Pakistan. By limiting the application of force to divisional-sized thrusts across the international boundary, it carefully avoids risking escalation of any future conflict to the nuclear level. Indian military analysts are convinced that when all the elements of the Cold Start doctrine are in place, Pakistan will be deterred from waging its proxy war for fear of effective Indian retribution. However, Pakistani analysts see the Cold Start doctrine as a dangerous doctrine that is inherently escalatory. It has been adversely commented upon by Pakistan’s military and political leaders.  The Cold Start doctrine is a work-in-being. Its implementation would have major ramifications for strategic stability in South Asia. It would have a stabilising influence in the sense that it will build confidence in the Pakistan Army that India has no desire to dismember Pakistan through large-scale Strike Corps-led offensive operations deep into the country. Its major disadvantage would be that it provides India a viable option for launching low risk shallow-thrust offensive operations in the plains in response to a grave provocation, for example a Mumbai-type terror strike with credible evidence that the perpetrators had the backing of the Pakistan Army and the ISI. While India’s initial military response would probably be limited to the areas across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, should Pakistan choose to escalate the situation by launching retaliatory strikes in areas across the international boundary, India may be forced to implement its Cold Start doctrine immediately by launching several divisional-size IBGs into Pakistani territory all across the Western front. This would unhinge the Pakistan Army as it has virtually no counter options.  The new doctrine may, therefore, be perceived to be destabilising by Pakistanis, despite all the precautions that India might take to avoid crossing Pakistan’s nuclear red lines. Hence, the Cold Start doctrine is a good doctrine from India’s point of view, but one that could adversely impact strategic stability since Pakistan’s nuclear strategy is premised on countering India’s conventional military superiority with a nuclear shield.

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