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Thursday, 8 July 2010

From Today's Papers - 08 Jul 2010

Confusion over Army marching into Naxal areas
Man Mohan/Our Roving Editor  Raipur, July 7 Confusion prevails among officials of the Chhattisgarh administration and the police authorities on the question whether the Army will march into the areas worst hit by the Maoists, especially Bastar, to fight the “red terror”.  Should they believe Defence Minister AK Antony or Union Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai on the issue? The arrival of the Army will make it a different ball game.  Media reports from Bangalore on Tuesday quoted Antony as saying that Army units would be deployed in Chhattisgarh to help the police and paramilitary personnel in their fight against the Maoists. Pillai yesterday ruled out the use of Army at this stage in any manner. Pillai spent Monday and Tuesday in Chhattisgarh to assess security situation and development issues.  Meanwhile, Maoist-sponsored 48-hour bandh began today. The call has been given in protest against the killing of their top leader Cherkuri Rajkumar, alias Azad, in a police encounter in Adilabad of Andhra Pradesh on July 2. The Maoists have alleged that Azad was “murdered” by a joint intelligence team of Andhra Pradesh and the Centre.  As the Maoists have taken a pledge to take revenge, Chhattisgarh, like other Naxal-infested states, is on high alert. Till late evening, no incident was reported from any part of the state. However, markets were closed and public and private transport off the roads. The life in Raipur was normal. Maoist violence has claimed over 100 lives of CRPF men in several ambushes this year.  Antony had said that short of directly participating in the operations against Naxalites, the Army would do everything possible to help the state police and the central paramilitary forces to tackle guerrillas effectively. “We shall give the police and the paramilitary forces full logistic support. We shall give them more training. We shall give them aircraft,” Antony said. He, however, acknowledged that calling the Army for internal law and order problem should be the “last resort,” and “I am confident that the state police and paramilitary forces would be able to put an end to the Naxalite challenge.”  Ruling out the use of the Army, Pillai said the Cabinet had only cleared the plan to deploy IAF helicopters in inhospitable Naxal-dominated areas for quick response to reinforcement of central paramilitary forces and rescue missions “and they won’t be available for offensive operations”.  “I do not think that the Army is required at this stage to fight Naxals,” Pillai told The Tribune while flying back to New Delhi on Tuesday night. He reached this conclusion after getting first-hand reports from top officers of the paramilitary forces, which include the BSF and the CRPF, and the state police.

Permanent Commission to Women Officers Army files special leave petition in apex court
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 7 The Ministry of Defence yesterday filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court judgment of March 12 that had asked the Army to grant permanent commission to serving Short Service Commission women officers.  The appeal was filed yesterday after a single Bench of the high court issued contempt notice to Army chief General VK Singh and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar for not complying with its directions.  The Centre, in its petition, has sought stay of the operation of the high court judgment and its review. It has been argued that there is no government policy to grant permanent commission to women other than in two streams, i.e. judge advocate general (JAG) and Army education corps (AEC). This was allowed in September 2008, and will be applicable to those women who joined after March 2009.  Sources in the Army yesterday said providing permanent commission with retrospective affect, that too in all streams, will offset the functioning of the force. Moreover, there is no policy decision to take in women in other streams.  The high court, in its judgment, on March 12 directed that Permanent Commission (PC) be offered within two months to Short Service Commissioned (SSC) women officers of the Air Force and the Army at par with male SSC officers. The IAF, which was also asked to do so, has decided to offer permanent commission to the 22 petitioners. The IAF had an error in is advertisement seeking applications as it had promised possibility of permanent commission to women, whereas the Army had made no such promise.  The court had turned down the plea of women of being allowed in combat operations.  The high court had also rejected the plea of the government that permanent commission can be allowed only for future recruitment and the benefit cannot be given retrospectively for the serving and retired lady officers who had approached the court.

  Military audit by Brig A.N. Suryanarayanan (retd) 
Capture of Gwalior fort on a 200-feet-high scarped and isolated rock on August 3, 1780 was a rare military feat. When all else failed, Major Popham got made special set of cotton-stuffed boots for a rigorously trained small team under Captain Bruce. They climbed the fort-wall, jumped in noiselessly, quickly fought the guards and opened the gates for East India Company troops to enter.  The fort fell without loss of life. Popham was highly decorated and subsequently retired; but in final settlement, he found a hefty sum deducted. After enquiry, he learnt, audit had objected that those boots were neither in regulation nor was he the competent financial authority! This shows “Audit-department” for military forces existed even then, just as today!  Initially “audit-observations” are on rough sheets for a discussion at sub-unit (Major’s) level; then with unit-QM (who, though a Captain, holds the key to all the ‘materials’). ‘Observations’ can be nipped in the bud, before becoming ‘objections’, with advice from the auditors themselves. That secret can’t be divulged!  There is fun too in audit! Pensioners have to submit annual certificates during November of being ‘alive’! You miss your ‘date’ or the certificate, the pension misses you! High altitude allowance was objected to at a place, being a foot short of the defined height. CO replied that when standing, men fulfilled the requirements; objection was withdrawn.  Pointing out ‘carelessness’ in spelling snacks as ‘snakes’, its purchase from Annual Training Grant by the Commando Wing was once objected to. Army’s reply: “It wasn’t snacks but snakes for training of commandos”! Objection had to be waived off. (Remember Commando Nana Patekar, holding a snake in ‘Prahaar’)!  After WW-II, Britain took reparations from Japan and compensated British soldiers who had fought against Japan and the allies in Africa. But Indian soldiers were ignored. Our governments too did not, till very recently, as audit stated, “soldiers had fought for another government”!  On pickets troops normally leave after early breakfast, carrying packed lunch, to be self-contained during unforeseen delays due to landslides, rains etc: ‘Ab ka khana pet mein, agla khana pack mein”! On arrival at Base, any good unit would give them a hot meal; with lunch-presence marked at both locations! Observing this and working out the number of extra rations, auditors said, unit must either pay or “under-draw” equal quantity. A visit to the same auditors to sort out the mess (pun intended) provided the answer: write to brigade for enquiry to verify the extra rations drawn, while quickly under-drawing that quantity. That was done within next week. Committee convened after a week could find nothing amiss!  Once in seven years, CAG-team (‘Test-Audit-Team’) visits. Their ‘objections’ become ‘Audit Paras’ in CAG-reports to Parliament. The juicier the find (like the electric carts in Chandigarh Golf Course allegedly meant for hospitals), the better the chances of a good ACR for the auditor.  Now from the air force. Unaware that each runway has two directions and only one is in use at a time, for landing/take-off, an objection was raised on construction of two runways in an airfield (eg, Magnetic Direction 09/18)! Auditor was taken to the airfield and explained; objection waived! Once a trainee-pilot lost his bearings and could not locate his base! Running out of fuel, he ejected. Court of Inquiry held none to blame as the pilot was inexperienced. Auditors agreed but with a proviso that “the lost bearings be recovered”, not realising that the phrase meant ‘relative position’, a usage dating from the 1600s!  Finally, a classic. A son was born on the night of July 14 to the sergeant-major of a British Army regiment in India. The father proudly registered it and received acknowledgement that the name has been entered in the records w.e.f. July 15. Sergeant-major complained but was shown a paragraph in the Military Accounting Code (India) which read: ‘Troops disembarking in the afternoon will be taken on strength as from the following morning, being deemed to have received rations on board before off-loading!’

Govt to use Army as ‘deterrent’ in J&K
 l Hardens stand on violence in the Valley  l Asks state to deal sternly with stone hurlers
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 7 Taking a tough stance against stone hurlers and those indulging in violent protests in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre today made it clear that it would use the Army as a “deterrent” to bring the situation under control in the state.  Separately, it asked the state government to launch a “crackdown” against mischievous elements and continue with the curfew till the violence was quelled.  The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which discussed the situation in Kashmir today, decided to use the Army as a “deterrent”. The meeting decided that the Army would be used in “peripheral” areas and not in congested ones. At present, the Army is deployed largely in rural areas and along the Line of Control (LoC).  The decision is significant in terms of the ongoing turmoil that is seen as being backed by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba.  The Army will not be used for crowd control, but could be used to tackle any situation that could spiral out as a major law and order issue. The deployment of the Army in a particular urban area will be left to the Army Commanders on the field. Meaning thereby, the Army will assist the civil administration and not be forced into tackling local law and order issues.  Sources said it was not that the Army units were being moved closer to urban fringes, the force had its own existing campuses and a team could be asked to move at a short-notice, whenever needed.  Army teams could be used along the fringes of Srinagar, Sopore, Batmaloo and Maisuma, besides areas like Anantnag, a senior functionary said.  The Army, meanwhile, clarified that there was no “flag-march” in the valley, the convoys of trucks, jeeps and men had returned to their units and were used just to instill a sense of confidence among the people.  The Centre today rushed Union Home Secretary GK Pillai and the Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lieut-Gen Anand Mohan Verma to carry out an assessment of the situation in the valley.  In the afternoon, Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan backed the Centre’s move saying “….elements from across the border are trying to create tension there (J&K)…..We will resist our enemies with all the force at our command …We are very confident that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will not fall prey to the designs of such elements……we are confident that we will very soon be able to restore law and order.” She refused to be drawn into a discussion about reported Army deployment in the valley saying, “It is for the CCS to decide”.

Top Naval officer killed in freak firing 
It was an accident, says Navy; police suspects suicide Tribune News Service & Agencies  Kochi/New Delhi, July 7 Mystery shrouds the death of Chief of Staff of the Southern Naval Command, Rear Admiral SS Jamwal, who died today after a bullet pierced his skull. While the Navy said that the highly-accomplished officer accidentally shot himself, the police suspect suicide.  Admiral Jamwal, 51, was firing from a 9 mm hand-held pistol as part of his routine training drill around 10.30 am when the freak incident occurred. During firing, the deceased paused to inspect the weapon, which probably had a snag. In the process, Jamwal shot himself. He was rushed to hospital where he later died.  Even as Navy spokesman Commander PVS Satish maintained in the National Capital that Admiral SS Jamwal died in accidental firing, top police sources said that his death appeared to be suicide. A case of ‘unnatural death’ has been registered. Family problems could be behind it, police said.  However, the Kochi naval establishment dismissed reports of suicide as speculative. “If the Chief of Staff wants to commit suicide he need not go to the firing range. He was accompanied by his entire staff, including the executive officer of Dronacharya, the firing officer and head of the range. It was an official, planned visit to a firing range to check the progress of training,” Commodore Ajaya Kumar, Commanding Officer of INS Venduruthy and naval officer in-charge of Kerala, told reporters.  Admiral Jamwal was at INS Dronacharya on an official visit to monitor training of the second batch of ‘Sagar Prahatri Bal’, the new force being raised by the navy for coastal security in which 24 cadets were undergoing training. The training had commenced on Monday and today was the day for firing practice, he said.  The Rear Admiral, Commodore Kumar said, had said he himself would do some firing practice and first used the Insas and later the 9 mm pistol. Unfortunately, the pistol misfired twice. While he was inspecting it from close range to ascertain the cause of the misfiring, it suddenly went off, he said.  “The muzzle was pointing towards his head and during that time the gun went off accidentally,” Commodore Kumar said. Though he was rushed to the hospital, he was declared brought dead.  Commodore Kumar said a board of inquiry has been ordered to look into the incident and would file a report in 10 days. Ruling out suicide, he said Admiral Jamwal was a very happy man. “I had never seen him in despair,” he said.  All officers, howsoever senior, have to practice firing throughout their career at periodic intervals. Norms for minimum practice are laid down by the Naval Headquarters. Officers expressed great shock at Jamwal’s tragic demise. Describing him as a rising star of the Indian Navy, they said that he had picked up his current rank — equivalent to Major General — at the age of 50 and was certain to be elevated as Vice-Admiral. “He was doing very well for himself and was ahead of his compatriots in being promoted,” said a colleague.  Jamwal took over as Chief of Staff of the Southern Naval Command on September 1, 2009. Earlier, he was naval attaché at the Indian Embassy in Moscow. An alumnus of Lawrence School Sanawar, National Defence Academy, Grechko Naval War College (Russia), Defence Services Staff College (Wellington) and the Army War College, Jamwal had in his 30-year service specialised in anti-submarine warfare to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy subs and was now an instructor in the same.  Originally from Jammu, Jamwal is survived by his wife Geeta and two children who live in Delhi. He was commissioned into the Navy on July 1, 1980. His father Major General Jagdish Singh Jamwal (retd) lives in Jammu.  Jamwal’s afloat appointments included tenures on Indian naval ships Taragiri, Atul, Rajput and Ranvijay. He also commanded the Vibhuti and Kuthar and was commissioning executive officer of guided missile destroyer Delhi and commissioning commanding officer of guided missile frigate Beas. He was the Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the President of India from 1983 to 85.

Should army be used against Maoists  
Bhaskar Sarkar   Wed, Jul 07, 2010 12:05:03 IST   THERE IS no doubt that the army is best trained and led to deal with insurgents. But there are four major reasons why army should not be deployed against the Maoist Insurgency.   Firstly, the political leaders and ministers need to understand that every time we deploy the army for counter insurgency duties, we are reducing its capability to fight a conventional war against Pakistan or China. This is because whenever an infantry battalion or an artillery regiment is deployed for counter insurgency operations, their heavy equipment like artillery guns, mortars, anti tank and anti aircraft weapons are mothballed.   Training completely stops. Training in conventional warfare, combined arms operation and air ground operations also stopS. There is no time for basic military training like physical training and drill. This was the objective of former Pakistani President Zia ul Haq’s strategy of weakening the Indian Army by encouraging and supporting insurgency and terrorism and making India bleed from a thousand cuts.   Secondly, the army has not ended any insurgency. It has only contained the level of violence. The Naga insurgency started in 1954 and the army was involved in it from 1956. The insurgency ended with the Shillong Accord of 1974. The Naga insurgents have not surrendered and negotiations still continue. The insurgency in Mizoram started in 1966 and army was deployed. The insurgency ended in 1987 when Rajeev Gandhi solved it with a negotiated settlement which gave political power to Mizo National Front. Insurgency started in 1965 and army is deployed. The insurgency has not been defeated. The insurgency in Assam started in 1982-83 and army is deployed. The insurgency has not been defeated. The insurgency in Kashmir stared in 1990 and army has been deployed since then. The insurgency has not ended.  Army cannot solve insurgencies. Israel with its military might has not been able to defeat the Palestine militants in 60 years. Insurgencies have to be dealt with politically. Thirdly, the army does not have forces to deploy against the Maoists. Much of the army, alt least 100,000 soldiers, is deployed for counter insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir, a tiny state, to fight 1500 to 3000 insurgents. There is no end to the violence. The army has another 15,000 to 20,000 troops to fight 400 ULFA cadres, 200 Bodo insurgents and 400 or so Manipuri insurgents in the North Eastern states. The affected area is much smaller than the Maoist affected areas which cover almost a quarter of the country.   The area is also the most under developed hilly jungle terrain. The strength of the Maoist armed cadre is between 20,000 and 30,000. An infantry battalion can control at best a “Tehsil” or Subdivision.   The army will have to deploy at least seven to ten divisions to have any effect on the level of violence. It cannot deploy such resources without reducing troops on Pakistani and Chinese borders.   Fourthly, army units have to balance field and peace tenures. If this arrangement is disturbed by deploying army against the Maoists, the morale of the army will be affected. Without high morale, no army in the world can fight effectively.   Many retired and serving officers feel that the capability of the Army to fight a conventional war against Pakistan and China is already below acceptable level because of their employment in fighting insurgencies and shortage of officers. What ever be the reality, it will be obvious that army should not be deployed against the Maoists. The Chief of Army and Air Force Staff have clearly said so.

Rear Admiral shot himself accidentally, says Navy, rejects suicide theory 
NDTV Correspondent, Updated: July 07, 2010 22:01 IST  PLAYClick to Expand & Play Kochi:  The Navy says that one if its senior-most officers who died at a training centre in Kochi on Wednesday morning accidentally shot himself while examining a pistol.  Rear Admiral Satyendra Singh Jamwal, Navy's Southern Command chief of staff, was at the firing range of INS Dronacharya , a Naval gunnery school in Kochi, when he  died. His death was described then as "an accidental firing." In the evening, at a press conference, the Navy said that Jamwal was examining why a pistol wasn't firing when he shot himself.  Rejecting the possibility that this was an act of suicide, the Navy said an internal inquiry will be completed within ten days.  In response to a question, Commodore M R Ajayakumar said, "If Rear Admiral had to commit suicide, he would not have gone to the firing range."        He said a lot of officers were present when the incident happened. There shall be a post-mortem and a formal service in Kochi. The family of the Rear Admiral is yet to decide where the funeral will be held.  Rear Admiral Jamwal had served as the Aide-de-Camp to the President of India between 1983 and 1985.  He was also the Naval Attache at the Indian Embassy in Moscow before he took over in September as Chief of Staff of the Southern Naval Command, which also handles all training activities of the Navy.  The Admiral, who was from Jammu, is survived by wife Geeta Jamwal and a daughter and son.  He was commissioned in the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer on July 1, 1980, and had specialized in anti-submarine warfare (ASW). (With PTI inputs)

CBI asks Defence Ministry to blacklist six firms 
Press Trust of India, Updated: July 07, 2010 16:18 IST  New Delhi:  CBI has recommended to the Defence Ministry blacklisting of six firms, including four from abroad, as a sequel to its probe into the Ordnance Factory Board scam.  Official sources said the the apex investigating agency, in its letter, has mentioned four international firms - Singapore Technologies Kinetics Ltd (STK), Israel Military Industries Ltd (IMI), Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD), Zurich and Cooperation Defence in Russia - to be blacklisted.  Besides, two Indian firms - T S Kisan and Company Pvt Ltd (New Delhi) and R K Machines Tools Ltd (Ludhiana) - have also been named in the CBI communication to the Defence Ministry sent earlier this week, they said.  The CBI in its charge-sheet filed in Kolkata last month initially named only the two Indian firms and there was no mention of the foreign companies.      "The names of the (foreign) firms came up during the course of investigation. While two (Indian firms) have been charge-sheeted, the CBI letter also mentions four international companies whose name cropped up during the probe," a source said.  The letter is advisory nature and it is up to the Defence Ministry to accept the recommendation or not, the source said.  In June, the CBI had filed a 2,700-page charge-sheet in a special CBI court in Kolkata against former Director General of Ordnance factory Board, Sudipta Ghosh and 11 others for graft.  A case was registered by CBI on May 17, 2009 under different Sections of IPC and Prevention of the Corruption Act against Ghosh and others.  It was alleged that Ghosh had entered into criminal conspiracy with other accused with the object of demanding and obtaining huge illegal gratification in the matter of various supply orders placed by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and also in the matters relating to transfer or posting of the officers of Ordnance Factories.          The charge-sheet has named Ghosh and his wife Kajal Ghosh, Ramesh Nambiar, then additional GM (Sports) Air India, J K Thapar, director of T S Kishan and Companies Private Ltd, Satish Mahajan, director and Sunil Handa, manager of R K Machines Tools Ltd, Ludhiana. Former statistical investigator of National Sample Survey Organisation, J K Grover, two private firms T S Kisan and Company Private Limited and R K Machines Tool Limited, chairman of Mokul Group of Companies Mohinder Singh Sahni and two private persons-Ashish Bose and Pradeep Rana-were also named in the charge-sheet.  The matter will come up in the CBI court on July 31.

Indian army returns to Srinagar 
Bid to end escalating violence with first deployment to Kashmir city in 20 years threatens to raise tensions with Pakistan      , Wednesday 7 July 2010 19.03 BST                    * larger | smaller                     * Article history  Srinagar India army Indian army soldiers in an armoured vehicle patrol the streets of Srinagar where 15 people have been killed during anti-India protests. Photograph: Reuters  India deployed its army in Kashmir's summer capital of Srinagar for the first time in nearly 20 years today in an attempt to break an escalating cycle of violence that has killed 15 people and wounded many hundreds.  A long column of armoured military vehicles drove through Srinagar in a show of strength after police failed to control weeks of street protests in the disputed region. The troops repeatedly fired live rounds into crowds of stone-throwing protesters.  "We would like to make [our intervention] as short as possible," Pallam Raju, the minister for defence, told local television. "It is not a situation the army would like to be in."  The move threatens to raise regional tensions ahead of a visit by the Indian foreign minister SM Krishna to Pakistan next week. The hostile neighbours have fought three wars over Kashmir and continue to dispute ownership of the former Himalayan princedom, India's only Muslim majority state. Peace talks have been stalled since the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in November 2008 which Delhi blames on a Pakistani-based militant group.  An overnight exchange of fire on the border killed two Indian troops and wounded a Pakistani soldier and several villagers, according to reports.  Indian officials said the army's deployment in Srinagar had been formally requested by Jammu and Kashmir's chief minister, Omar Abdullah.  The last time the army took to the streets of Srinagar was in the early 1990s at the height of the insurgency against Delhi's rule. The city is usually patrolled by local police or paramilitaries from the central reserve police force (CRPF).  "It remains to be seen if it will have a sufficient psychological impact to stop the protests," said Professor Gul Mohammed Wani of Kashmir university. "I don't think the problem will diminish, however. It is primarily a question of politics and there is no political movement at all at the moment."  Human rights groups accuse the paramilitaries of being responsible for most of the recent deaths. But Prabhakar Tripathi, a CRPF spokesman, said: "We are using maximum restraint. We only ever fire in a few cases and in self defence."  While locals say the protests are spontaneous, the Indian government has blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant group accused of carrying out the Mumbai attacks.

Modernise rapidly, armed forces told 
The lifespan of weapons systems has shortened in the face of rapid technology advancement, Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju said on Wednesday, asking the Indian armed forces to keep abreast with the cutting edge transformation.  "The gestation periods ranging from 10-15 years are history and we have to keep abreast with the cutting edge technology in all spheres. This period has to be abridged with the process of focussed interaction between the army, the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) as well as public and private industry," Raju said.  The minister was inaugurating a two-day international seminar on 'Missile Technology focusing on a family of Future Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM)'.  Despite the advent of atomic weapons, Raju said, a conventional conflict between nuclear capable states could not be ruled out.  "The Kargil conflict in 1999 amply highlighted that despite the nuclear dimension, the probability of occurrence of conventional conflict exists."  Raju underlined the need for regional and global security dialogue. "The nature of conflict today is determined more by political, social, economic and strategic imbalances than by military factors alone.  "We need to coordinate nationally and globally, and enforce cooperative security as a strategy at the regional and international levels," he said.  Indian Army Chief General V.K. Singh highlighted the "pivotal role" played by the armed forces in providing a secure environment to the nation to pursue its economic policies.  He stressed on the need to indigenously develop a family of ATGMs that can be launched from a variety of platforms.  The two-day seminar is organised by the Directorate General Mechanized Forces and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).  It will provide a forum for the industry to understand the challenges in designing, development and serial production of the ATGMs likely to be introduced in the future.

India Readies for China Fight 
For too long Delhi’s policymakers have watched idly as China’s military prowess has grown, says Nitin Gokhale. Not anymore.  Last May, just days before India’s general election results were announced, the country’s highest policy making body for security matters was convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Its mandate: Find ways of enabling India’s military to take on an increasingly powerful (and belligerent) China.  At the end of a marathon meeting, the Cabinet Committee on Security initiated a comprehensive, well-funded plan to bolster India’s land, air and naval forces to counter China’s rising military prowess. The plan is historic, coming after years of dithering by an Indian establishment seemingly paralysed by memories of the country’s humiliating defeat at the hands of the Chinese in a brief but brutal war in 1962.  Since the CCS plan was launched, there have been significant and wide-ranging signs that Indian policymakers are finally willing to realistically assess possible military responses to China’s rise. One clear example is a new division of troops aimed exclusively at the border region of the two great powers. India is now mid-way through raising two mountain divisions for the north-eastern border area with China, with the two divisions pencilled in to be ready for deployment by the middle of next year.  The goal is to plug existing gaps in India’s preparedness along the Arunachal Pradesh-China frontier, and the two divisions, consisting of about 20,000 well-armed troops, will include a squadron of India’s armoured spearhead—Soviet-built T-90 tanks and a regiment of artillery. They will be backed by enhanced command, control, communications and intelligence (C4I) capabilities aimed at covering the Tibet region. But that’s certainly not all.  The Indian Air Force has over the past year deployed 36 Su-30MKI, its most advanced multi-role fighter aircraft, to Tezpur in the country’s north-east in response to the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s seven airbases in Tibet and southern China.  Meanwhile, the Indian Navy is working to counter the growing clout of the PLA Navy. The current thinking at Indian naval headquarters is that China will move to aggressively increase its presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to secure its extended energy supply lines (despite its name, military planners in Beijing don’t feel India has ownership of this expanse of water).  As a consequence, the Indian Navy’s plans are based on the premise that it needs to be a fully-networked and flexible force capable of meeting any ‘out of area’ contingency. Successive Indian naval chiefs since 2004 have spoken about the need for the Navy to have ‘longer sea legs’ by 2020 and to be capable of influencing the outcome of land battles. The importance of the Navy’s role was underscored during the 1999 Kargil skirmish between India and Pakistan, when the Indian Navy played a crucial but silent role in blockading Pakistan’s sea lanes, putting Islamabad under significant pressure to end the conflict quickly.  Since then, India’s naval leadership has been working to break free of its traditional ‘continental construct’ mindset and start looking at the bigger picture, taking into account the full gamut of geo-strategic and geo-political realities. After all, 90 percent of India’s trade by volume and 77 percent by value transits through the IOR.  But trade considerations aside, countering China remains the country’s biggest (but officially largely unstated) objective, a fact Beijing no doubt saw as underscored when India held a joint exercise in the area with the US, Australian and Singaporean navies in 2007.  These joint exercises apart, the Indian Navy is working to build and acquire new, varied and potent platforms including an aircraft carrier, nuclear submarines, stealth frigates and long-range maritime reconnaissance planes. By 2014, it hopes to have 160 ships in its fleet, up from its current strength of 136.  But the most surprising revelation to many analysts was India’s public admission that it was inducting a Russian Akula-class Type 971 nuclear submarine into its forces, in addition to an indigenously designed and built submarine, earlier called the advanced technology vessel but now officially named the INS Arihant (The Destroyer).  ‘Together, the two vessels would constitute the third leg of India’s sea-based strategic deterrence,’ Adm Sureesh Mehta, former chief of the Indian navy, announced at the time—the first time a high-ranking Indian military official had gone on record about the country’s plans to have a three-pronged nuclear deterrence.  The induction of the nuclear submarine has brought India closer to securing its nuclear deterrence based on a second, retaliatory strike option that is built on a triad of strategic weapons (the other two options—delivery by an aircraft and mobile, land-based launchers—were already available).  In addition, in recent months, India has also successfully test fired its long range Agni-III strategic missile, capable of hitting targets deep inside China, while the head of India’s missile building programme, VK Saraswat, announced in May that India will go one step further by testing the 5,000-kilometre range, nuclear-capable Agni IV missile in 2011.  But there’s more to an effective defence force than an offensive capability for a country the size of India. Communication and transport lines are essential, especially in far-flung regions, so 72 tactically important roads are also being built in the tough, mountainous terrain along the China border in the Eastern and the Western sectors. The roads are being built by the quasi-military Border Roads Organisation to enhance connectivity, and come on top of the reopening of three major airstrips in Ladakh (Nyoma, Fukche and Daulat Beg Oldie).  The airstrips are being upgraded to allow medium and heavy-lift transport aircraft such as the Russian-built AN-32 aircraft and soon to be inducted US-made C-130J Hercules transport planes to land. The hope behind these developments is that once the facilities are fully functional (expected to be by the end of next year), these assets will offer India the ability to insert a large number of troops in forward areas at short notice, a capacity that Indian policymakers hope will right the current poor connectivity in the forward areas along the Line of Actual Control.  Indeed, it’s this boundary that is the biggest irritant in Sino-India relations, as neither country agrees with the other’s perception about where exactly the line should be drawn. India believes that for all China’s professed desire to find a peaceful and mutually acceptable solution to the festering boundary issue, the country has not budged from its more than three-decades position, and they note that despite frequent meetings of special representatives of both the countries over the past half decade on the issue, the deadlock has yet to be broken.  Suspicion of China runs deep among Indian analysts. ‘China’s demonstrated policies of strategic encirclement of India and its use of India’s other arch-enemy Pakistan as a proxy for her designs…is proof enough that you can never trust Beijing’s intentions,’ says former Maj. Gen. Sheru Thapliyal, who commanded a frontline division responsible for handling China. ‘Until a visible change is demonstrated by China, there’s no excuse for any Indian Government to ignore or soft-pedal the imperatives of strong defensive preparations along the India-Tibet Border’.  But such preparations haven’t gone unnoticed by China. When news of last May’s plans went public, China reacted strongly, with the semi-official Global Times editorializing: ‘India’s current course can only lead to a rivalry between the two countries. India needs to consider whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation with China…Any aggressive moves will certainly not aid the development of good relations with China. India should examine its attitude and preconceptions; it will need to adjust if it hopes to cooperate with China and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.’  This year’s annual report by the Indian Defence Ministry stated: ‘India remains conscious and alert about the implications of China’s military modernisation. Rapid infrastructure development in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Province has considerably upgraded China’s military force projection capability and strategic operational flexibility…Necessary steps have been initiated for the upgrading of our infrastructure and force structuring along the northern borders.’ This kind of urgency, lacking for far too long in New Delhi, is a refreshing indication that Indian policymakers are taking the need to prepare for potential conflict with China seriously. China cannot—and should never be—taken lightly. And India should always be mindful of the fact that military preparedness and trying to improve diplomatic relations are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

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