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Sunday, 22 August 2010

From Today's Papers - 22 Aug 2010

Army to have own mobile network along border
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 21 Faced with problems of mobile telephone connectivity in posts located in the remote areas, the Army has decided to have its own mobile network in locations along the border with Pakistan and China.  The Army has floated a tender asking mobile service providers to submit their proposals for technical and commercial information for such services, along with equipment and related infrastructure. The Army also intends to have three “cellular circles” of its own in northern and north-eastern regions of the country. The idea is to have secure communication that is not “interceptable” by the enemy and also to connect the same on the Army’s existing network of landline phones - ASCON network.  At present officials in remote forward posts are dependent upon telecom service providers for mobile connectivity, which is very unreliable in such areas, said a senior official.  “How can one even imagine that some private company will expand its network just to meet the Army needs? The time has come to have our own mobiles,” he added. Regions identified for implementation for mobile services are Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya besides the areas bounded by Dibrugarh, Phek, Champhai and Karimganj in the states of Assam, Nagaland and Mizoram.  The Army is also looking to have the system in Jammu and Kashmir around Sonmarg, Loma, Leh, Batalik, Drass and Partapur - the last one being the base camp to Siachen. It is estimated that the Army will give these mobiles to about 21,000 users across these three zones. The connectivity is needed for voice and data transmission while the technology sought is CDMA. The Army is looking for handsets and equipments that will be operated at specific frequency and a system that provides seamless roaming facility while having ability to operate in extreme temperatures. It is also looking to have some sort of limited integration for connectivity with civilian mobiles.  Since it is for critical defence needs, the Army has laid down a strict guideline asking the vendor to be a registered company with operations in India. The foreign holding in the company and its subsidiaries, if any, cannot exceed 26 per cent. Notably, it has also asked the company to supply a list of equipment from where it has been sourced from. Just a few weeks ago the Home Ministry had banned telecom equipment manufactured by Chinese companies.

JJ Singh ropes in Navy to promote adventure tourism in Arunachal
Bijay Sankar Bora Tribune News Service  Guwahati, August 21 The Indian Navy is helping the tourism department of picturesque frontier state of Arunachal Pradesh to promote adventure tourism in various water bodies in the state at the initiative of state Governor Gen JJ Singh (retd).  The Governor has requested Vice-Admiral of Eastern Naval Command Anup Singh who was on a maiden visit to the hill state, to set up a naval wing of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) in the land-locked state where the Indian Navy doesn’t have any presence so far.  While seeking the cooperation and technical guidance from the Navy for promotion of adventure tourism in various water bodies in the state, the Governor has suggested setting up of an Indian Navy unit in the state from the nearest headquarter. Stating that the Indian Navy is hitherto unknown to Arunachal Pradesh, the Governor requested the visiting naval officer for technical advice and training to local people for promotion of adventure tourism and water sports in the state.  The former Army chief said the Navy should begin the mission at Ganga Lake in the state capital Itanagar followed by other lakes, including Sela and Sangesor lake in the bordering district of Tawang. State Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu said his government would look forward for a joint effort with the Navy for promotion of adventure sports and tourism in water bodies of the state.  The Indian Navy is taking up hydrographic survey of Ganga Lake for earmarking the unsafe portions by installing buoys. Vice-Admiral Anup Singh stressed on installing sinkers to mark the underwater plants in the lake. He also assured all technical support from the Navy adding that a few sailors and officers from the Navy would be deputed for the purpose.

  A Tribune Special Rising China, emerging India
While the future is uncertain, the world is moving towards a polycentric order, says Chandrashekhar Dasgupta  RISE of China and India (in that order) will lead to a tectonic shift in international relations. China had headstart. In contrast to India, it had already embarked upon a sweeping programme of economic reform by the end of the 1970s.  Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, Beijing launched the ambitious and comprehensive Four Modernisations policy in December 1978. China had no inhibitions in seeking the advice of Goh Keng Swee, a former deputy prime minister of Singapore and one of the principal architects of its economic policies.  In India, Rajiv Gandhi made a tentative attempt to open up the economy in the mid-1980s but failed to mobilise the required political support. The reforms petered out and it was only in the early 1990s that Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and Finance Minister Manmohan Singh successfully embarked on a step-by-step programme of systemic reforms. India decided to gradually open up its economy almost 14 long years after China.  Given this head start and Beijing’s unflinching resolve to accord overriding priority to economic growth over short-term questions of distributive justice, it is not surprising that China’s economic development has outpaced that of India. India is trailing behind China by almost a decade.  Paradoxically, partly because of this very reason, India’s growth rate may well exceed China’s in the next few years. In the earlier stages of industrialisation, developing countries are able to achieve rapid growth by technological leapfrogging; but, as they catch up with advanced countries in technology, the potential for further leapfrogging necessarily diminishes after a certain point. This is borne out by the experience of every country undergoing modernisation and China will be no exception.  Precisely because it has lagged behind till now, India will retain for a much longer period its potential for maintaining high growth rates by technological leapfrogging. According to the celebrated Goldman Sach’s BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) projection, by 2050, India will be the only major economy with a growth rate of around 5 per cent. The others will have much lower growth rates.  In addition, demographic trends are also likely to work in India’s favour. The latest Chinese study of the country’s age profile (released in July) shows that the ratio of the population of working age (those between the ages of 15 and 60) to the total population will start shrinking by 2015. In the case of India, this is expected to occur at a much later date. This trend will also help raise India’s growth rate, relative to China’s.  For these reasons, many recent projections suggest that India’s growth rate may catch up with and surpass China’s in the next decade. Of course, our per capita income will remain lower than China’s for a far longer period because of the substantial disparity in current levels. The projections concerning relative growth rates indicate only that the current economic gap between the two countries may gradually be closed over a fairly extended period.  Despite China’s spectacular growth rates in the last three decades, it still has a long way to go before it catches up with the levels of prosperity of Singapore or South Korea. India, of course, has an even longer distance to travel before it approaches these levels. However, unlike the earlier rise of the two smaller Asian countries, the rapid economic rise of China and India will lead to a tectonic shift in the global power structure because of the size of their population and, consequently, the overall size of their national economies. Because of this demographic leverage, India and China have a global footprint and degree of influence that is disproportionate to their level of development.  There are obvious similarities between India and China. Both are developing countries and, on this account, share many common interests in global economic and environmental matters. Both have achieved and sustained impressive economic growth in recent years and are, therefore, ascendant powers, playing an increasing role in world affairs.  Not surprisingly, the two countries are frequently clubbed together by political analysts. The term “Chindia” has recently come into circulation, in an overblown version of such bracketing.  In my view, “Chindia” is a fantasy. It focuses only on the similarities in the status and interests of the two countries and glosses over the differences. China’s economy is more than twice the size of India’s and its military capabilities are more impressive. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. China wields much greater influence in global political and economic issues. China is already a great power while India is still poised to acquire that position.  A more realistic view must recognise that China is a rising great power while India is an emerging great power. A realistic analysis of the impact of the rise of India and China on international affairs must recognise the similarities as well as the differences between the two countries.  What is likely to be the distribution of global power in, say, 2025 and how will the major powers interact with one another? The most recent assessment of the US National Intelligence Council suggests that, in 2025, the eight largest economies in the world may be the United States, China, India, Japan, Germany, the UK, France and Russia. This broadly agrees with the Goldman Sachs papers referred to earlier.  China is already poised to replace Japan as the second largest economy. The latest World Bank figures show that, in 2009, China’s GDP (at exchange rates) was $ 4.9 trillion, just a shade below Japan’s $ 5 trillion. Apart from India and Russia, the other six countries already figure in the current ranking list. The US National Intelligence Council analysis assumes that “India will probably continue to enjoy relatively rapid economic growth.”  As regards Russia, it qualifies the projection by noting that Russia could experience an actual decline if it fails to invest adequately in human capital, diversify its economy and integrate with global markets, or if oil prices remain low. The US National Intelligence Council projection seems to me to be quite credible.  Following from this projection, the Council draws the conclusion that it is a “relative certainty” that “a global multipolar system is emerging with the rise of China, India and others” and that “by 2025, the international system will be a global multipolar one with gaps in national power continuing to narrow between developed and developing countries”.  This most significant feature of the assessment of the US National Intelligence Council is in contrast with the previous projection it offered four years earlier. In December 2004, the Council’s projection for 2020 indicated continued US dominance in international affairs and emphasised that most major powers had forsaken the idea of balancing the United States.  I have two comments on the new US projection. First, it has correctly assessed the waning of US dominance. The “unipolar moment” is passing. My second comment is that the emerging international order is more accurately described as “polycentric”, rather than “multipolar.”  From an Indian perspective, what are the implications of the evolution of this polycentric global order?  In the first place, as we move towards a polycentric world, India must follow a multi-directional foreign policy, seeking to cultivate cooperative relations, to the extent possible, with all countries and, more particularly, the major powers. This will enable us to obtain maximum leverage with each of the major powers. For example, success in cultivating close bilateral ties with Washington can also raise our profile in Beijing.  Likewise, a cooperative relationship with Beijing can give us leverage in Washington. In tomorrow’s polycentric world, non-alignment will be reincarnated in the form of a multidirectional foreign policy.  While pursuing such a policy, we should pay special attention to our relations with the US. Even after 50 years, the US will still continue to be the pre-eminent power in a polycentric world. Even if China’s GDP is larger by 2050 in aggregate terms, its per capita GDP will remain far below that of the US. US leadership in science and technology will also find reflection in military affairs.  India has an advantage in building closer ties with the US. Both countries are open societies. India’s rise is already being reflected in the evolving US policy. During the Cold War years, Washington attached relatively low priority to non-aligned India.  What portents do these projections hold for India-China relations?  On the whole, we have good relations with China at present. Commercial ties have grown rapidly. This has provided a positive impetus to bilateral relations even though the degree of inter-dependence between the two economies is still quite small. China has an impressive military presence in our border areas, but its posture is not hostile and, in this sense, China does not pose a threat to India.  Looking into the future, we have to consider the possibility of a negative change in the Chinese posture. China’s posture could change suddenly in the event of a political upheaval in that country. A powerful and unpredictable China could pose a threat to its neighbours. Chinese policies might also change if there is a big change in the power equation between the two countries. This is a common feature of inter-state relations. Let us consider each of these possibilities.  Some analysts believe that China is likely to become politically unstable in the near future. The US Sinologist Gordon Chang, for example, has been predicting the “coming collapse of China” for several years. These scholars point to several negative factors such as the fact that China’s political development has lagged behind its economic growth, the discontent arising from growing income disparities and the declining prestige of the Communist party. These factors have, indeed, generated social tensions.  Nevertheless, the Chinese leadership has been successful so far in maintaining stability. It is acutely conscious of the dangers of an upheaval and it seems ready to adopt flexible and pragmatic policies to maintain political stability.  On balance, bearing in mind the track record of the Chinese leadership, I would discount predictions of chaos or collapse. It is possible that the required institutional restructuring may not proceed altogether smoothly. This could result in blips in China’s growth trajectory but a collapse or upheaval is most unlikely.  What are the chances of an adverse shift in the India-China power balance? As we noted earlier, many projections indicate that our growth rates may overtake China’s in the near future. The economic gap that now exists is likely to be closed in gradual stages. Thus, an adverse shift in the India- China power balance appears to be unlikely. On the contrary, a convergent trend, or a narrower gap, in the power potential of the two countries would be a stabilising factor in bilateral relations. Growing economic exchanges would also help consolidate bilateral ties. Thus, the overall prospects for India-China bilateral relations are quite promising, provided that neither side misunderstands the intentions or capabilities of the other.  There has been much talk recently about the so-called “Copenhagen spirit” and India-China cooperation in multilateral forums after the climate change summit last December. There is nothing new in the “Copenhagen spirit”.  Climate change is an area where the two countries have cooperated very closely ever since negotiations on the subject began in 1991. As developing countries undergoing rapid industrialisation, the two countries share common interests and these are reflected in their stand in the negotiations. For similar reasons, there are opportunities for India-China cooperation on many other global economic and environmental issues.  However, this logic does not necessarily apply to all other multilateral issues. China has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. In more recent years, it has also become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Unlike India, China already has a seat at the high table. In these areas, therefore, its interests often do not coincide with our interests.  For example, there is no particular reason for China to be enthusiastic about our efforts to secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Indian and Chinese interests may not always coincide in future when a rising India seeks inclusion in these or other exclusive policy forums. In some cases, China is not likely to extend active support to India though it may refrain from opposing our efforts in the interests of good bilateral relations. We will have to turn to other major powers to seek support or sponsorship.  How will polycentrism affect our immediate neighbourhood in Asia? The eminent American sinologist, John Garver, the author of an otherwise insightful book on India-China relations, maintains that there will be a contest between China and India for the so-called “spheres of influence” in our neighbourhood, in which China is likely to emerge as the winner. I have great respect for Garver’s writings on China, but I disagree with the “spheres of influence” forecast.  In the first place, it underestimates the role of other Asian countries. Not only Japan but also Korea, Indonesia and ASEAN (as a regional grouping) will certainly be major players in the Asian context. We will fail to understand Asian developments if we focus too narrowly on China and India. The rise of India and China is only a part of a larger historical development — the Asian Renaissance.  Moreover, Asia is not isolated from the rest of the world. Outside powers — above all, the US — will continue to play an extremely important role in Asian affairs. It would be a huge error to discount their influence. In addition to its economic influence, the US will continue to be the leading maritime power for the foreseeable future. It will be able to maintain a stronger naval presence in the Pacific and Indian Oceans than China or India, respectively.  The diffusion of power in a polycentric world will give the smaller Asian states a wider range of policy options on any specific issue, making it possible for them to avoid becoming excessively dependent on any single major power. There is no reason to expect these states to fall into anyone’s “sphere of influence”. A polycentric order will prevail in Asia, as in the world as a whole.  While the future is always shrouded in uncertainty, current trends suggest that the world is moving toward a polycentric order. By 2025, a number of major countries are likely to act as autonomous power centres. The US will continue to be the pre-eminent power, but China may begin to emerge as a rival and near-equal. The gap between the power potentials of the US and China may gradually diminish and this may also be the case in regard to the gap between China and India.  In a polycentric world, India’s traditional policy of non-alignment may take the form of a multi-directional foreign policy. Within the parameters of such a policy, priority is likely to be accorded to forging close ties with the pre-eminent power, the United States.

Aid flooded Pak by withdrawing Army
Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, TNN, Aug 22, 2010, 01.34am IST Pakistan is suffering its greatest human tragedy since Partition. The floodwaters of the Indus are an incredible 20 miles wide, sweeping away entire towns, villages and farms. Over 20 million people have been displaced, far more than the nine million displaced by Partition in 1947. The immediate death count of 1,500 will soon increase hugely through disease and deprivation. Rehabilitation could cost $100 billion.  Some Indians might be perverse enough to rejoice that an enemy has been hit by a natural disaster — an act of God, as it were — and will be crippled economically for years. But most Indians will surely want to help their neighbours. In these traumatic times, we need to think of Pakistanis as humans in distress, not foes.  Even those who cannot think beyond realpolitik should see that the floods are potentially a strategic disaster for India too. Flood damage will create a fertile breeding ground for Islamist militancy. Islamist NGOs with links to terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are at the very forefront of flood relief efforts and hence are gaining popularity. Meanwhile, the civil administration is seen as corrupt and ineffective. President Asif Zardari has further ruined his low reputation by going on foreign junkets.  The Pakistani army has in the last year battled some, though by no means all, militant groups in Swat and FATA (federally administered tribal areas). But much of the infrastructure built to reach the remote tribal areas has been destroyed by the floods. Besides, the Pakistani army is redirecting its efforts in the region, from combating militants to combating flood damage. The militants are re-occupying the resultant political vacuum.  The ISI recently came out with a study suggesting that Islamist militants had become a greater threat to the country than India. Flood damage can only deepen that perception. True, the army wants to back the Afghan Taliban even while battling the Pakistani Taliban, and this results in muddled thinking and sabotage of peace initiatives. The resolution of these contradictions is not in sight.  One day, the Pakistani army and the ISI will have no choice but to confront the reality that Islamist militants are Frankensteins that threaten their own creator. The ISI’s assessment should bring that day somewhat closer. In the light of both human and strategic considerations, how can India help Pakistan? Individual contributions from Indian citizens must be encouraged, and red tape thwarting contributions in cash and kind must be cut. But the Indian government should not offer more than a modest amount of food and financial aid. Pakistan requires billions of dollars for relief and rehabilitation, so anything India offers will be a drop in the ocean.  Besides, recipients are rarely grateful for alms: they resent being supplicants, and suspect the motives of the donors. The US saved India from mass starvation after the twin droughts of 1965 and 1966 by giving record food aid. But this won the US very few friends and stoked resentment from many who felt India’s independence was being compromised. The US will once again be the chief donor to Pakistan, but will gain virtually no popularity or gratitude.  If food and financial aid will not help much, how can India best help Pakistan? The best way will be for the Indian Army to unilaterally withdraw from the border in Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. This will pose no military risk whatsoever: flood-stricken Pakistan cannot possibly embark on military adventures against India. But the withdrawal of Indian troops will mean that the Pakistan army loses all excuses to avoid diverting manpower and financial resources from the border to flood relief and rehabilitation. This will cost India nothing, yet will release very large resources within Pakistan. Its impact on the Pakistani psyche will be significant. Even analysts who distrust Pakistan agree widely that India has no alternative to diplomatic engagement: cutting off ties will not win any minds and hearts there. Unilateral withdrawal will itself be a form of engagement, and will encourage other forms.  The wrong strategy will be to try to negotiate a mutual withdrawal of troops. Withdrawal must be unilateral and immediate. Defence hawks will express dismay that India is so soft on an enemy that encourages terrorism. But unilateral withdrawal will be a flood relief measure, not a military surrender. In the bargain, it will oblige Pakistan to withdraw its own troops and redeploy them for flood relief: its public opinion will be outraged otherwise.  Dr Manmohan Singh, you say we must be proactive in the peace process with Pakistan. The tragic floods there have given you an opportunity to be proactive in a way that will not come again. Go for it. 

Spoken English prevents UP cadets from joining forces
TNN, Aug 21, 2010, 10.52pm IST VARANASI: Out of nearly 1.19 lakh NCC cadets trained from various centres in UP, only 24 cadets could join the Indian Army (officer's rank) this year. This startling figure has been revealed by Major General Rajiv Verma, additional director general, NCC (UP).  Saying there was a strong need to motivate NCC cadets to join the armed forces in the country, Maj Gen Verma said spoken English and personality development were emerging as major stumbling blocks for NCC cadets, particularly representing the various districts of the state. "We are encouraging more cadets to join personality development programmes to improve their grooming sense, etiquettes and communication skills, especially spoken English, in which they lag behind in comparison to NCC cadets from other parts of the country," he said during his recent visit to the NCC headquarters at the Banaras Hindu University.  There is a huge scope for NCC cadets as Ministry of Defence has recently announced around two lakh vacancies for them. "Similarly, we are also looking forward to raising as many as five NCC battalions (each comprising nearly 1,200 cadets), including two girls battalion, in the next five years (one battalion per year) at different centres of UP, which is also the biggest NCC centre in the country with as many as 107 NCC units," said the ADG.  Emphasising that the four pillars of NCC, including joy and adventure, art and culture, care and share and discipline and training, had done enough to attract youngsters to join NCC in schools, Maj Gen Verma also pointed out that more girls were opting for NCC, which was an encouraging and promising sign. "We are pushing for one-third (33 per cent) reservation for girls cadets in NCC and the present figure has already shown that their strength has gone up to 22 per cent in various NCC units. Similarly, inclusion of adventurous sports in training, including para gliding, para jumping, trekking and mountaineering, has also attracted youth to NCC.  It may be mentioned here that around 15 to 16 institutes, including schools and colleges, have been in the waiting list for the past 10 years in various districts that are to be made the NCC centre. This is enough to suggest the growing attraction for NCC in students and academic institutions

Kalmadi seeks Indian Army's assistance for 2010 CWG
2010-08-21 12:20:00  Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi has sought the help of Indian Army personnel for specific tasks to ensure a successful conduct of the 2010 Games.  Briefing media after a meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) here on Friday, Kalmadi said Union Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy, who is also the chairman of the GoM for the Commonwealth Games has written a letter to Defence Minister A K Antony requesting him to depute Army personnel and not to charge for certain facilities.  "We have asked for the support from the Army, and Army has been good enough to give us support throughout the Baton Relay, for the opening and closing ceremony, for giving us lots of personnel for the Games, and we are very happy with it," said Kalmadi.  "The Group of Ministers (GoM), Jaipal Reddy, had requested the Defence Minister that the Army should do it free of charge. So, they have agreed to do something free of charge, and something they are charging," he added.  Jaipal Reddy in his statement mentioned that though he had written the letter, the contents of which can't be quoted and certain communication agencies have been asked to act in tandem.  "I did write to the Defence Minister, not to charge us for several things. Those details I am unable to recall. As per today's meeting of Group of Ministers, we discussed, with focus on the technology network. The MTNL, TCIL, Prasar Bharati, have to get their act together before TSR equipment could be inserted," said Reddy.  Earlier on Thursday, the Central Government had appointed a 10-member panel to oversee preparations of the Games and stripped Kalmadi of his powers.  The panel includes J S Deepak, Amarjeet Singh, Subodh Kumar, S R Rao, Shashi Shekhar, Gopal Krishna, Rohit Nandan and Rajeev Kapoor.  The Commonwealth Games 2010 is India's biggest sporting event since the 1982 Asian Games.  India is expecting about two million tourists in New Delhi for the Games, as well as about 10,000 athletes from 71 teams representing 54 Commonwealth member states. (ANI)

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