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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

From Today's Papers - 27 Oct 2010

India, USA to sign key pacts
Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service New Delhi, October 26 India and the USA
are expected to ink at least seven agreements in defence, trade, climate
change, education, clean energy, market access and hi-tech exports during
President Barack Obama's visit to India early next month. Highly placed
sources said the two sides were in constant touch finalising the pacts to be
signed after talks between President Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
on November 8. It is learnt that trade-related issues and defence
cooperation would top the agenda of the two countries during bilateral
talks. Some of the key US officials are expected to remain in Delhi for a
few more days after Obama leaves India to carry forward negotiations on the
understandings reached between the American leader and the Indian Prime
Minister. Indications are that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not
be coming to India along with the President since she will be in Australia
for the annual Australia-US ministerial consultations. Meanwhile, ahead of
the President's visit, the Obama administration is nudging India to assume
the leadership role in Asia as a major economy and the world's largest
democracy, in an apparent attempt to counter China. According to senior US
government officials, Washington desired India to take a more active role
outside its immediate South Asian region in trade, political and security
fields. "We view India as an East Asian power.India is not confined to the
context of its immediate neighbourhood,'' the officials, who preferred to
remain anonymous, told reporters at a select briefing. Worried over the
growing influence of China and its increasing economic muscle-power, the US
has made no secret of its desire to project India as a power which could act
as a balancing factor in Asia. The US officials indicated that the growing
Chinese assertiveness would be one of the key issues that would figure
during Singh-Obama talks. New Delhi, too, has been sensitive about China's
ambitions in the continent. Beijing's recent moves like questioning the
status of Jammu and Kashmir have caused a lot of anxiety in the South Block.
New Delhi looks with suspicion at the increasing Chinese investments in
countries adjacent to India like Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The American side believes that boosting economic and trade ties with India
would not only be mutually beneficial but also enhance India's role
globally. The US has projected the bilateral trade with India to touch $ 50
billion this year. The two-way trade doubled to $ 43 billion dollar between
2004 and 2008. The growing significance of trade between the two countries
could be gauged from the fact that a delegation of more than 100 corporate
honchos would accompany President Obama on his India visit. Outsourcing and
H1B visa issue are, however, likely to remain a bone of contention between
the two countries. The US officials admitted that these were difficult
issues but hoped the two sides would be able to deal with them
Commanders conference Govt must be sensitive to the Services' needs
Every year the defence minister twice formally addresses and interacts with
the Army's top brass comprising its chief, vice chief and the seven regional
commanders along with several other senior ranking officers holding pivotal
positions at Army headquarters. Both the annual Service-specific Commanders
conference and the Combined Commanders Conference are occasions when the
military's entire top rung leadership meets to discuss national security and
take a comprehensive look at matters pertaining to the internal state of the
services. It was in such a forum Defence Minister AK Antony on Monday
rhetorically stated that terrorism would be crushed while simultaneously
calling upon Pakistan to shed its ambivalence on terrorism. That the defence
minister chose to mention this at an Army Commanders Conference reflects on
the extent to which the Army has become a part of the country's efforts to
quell insurgency and safeguard internal security. Indeed, the Army's
otherwise secondary role of 'aid to civil power' has over the years become a
pivotal if not primary role and that too on a seemingly permanent basis.
But this is only one dimension to India's security concerns. China's ongoing
and fast paced military modernisation programme along with that country's
well entrenched strategic encirclement of India is a matter of grave
concern. But the Indian Army, the world's third largest, will remain
handicapped unless the government addresses a long list of wide ranging
serious problems that it is facing. From both a qualitative and quantitative
decline in the Army's officer cadre, which includes a growing incidence of
corruption by senior officers, to grave equipment deficiencies, the Indian
Army is silently facing considerable internal challenges. All these issues
are expected to figure in discussions during the ongoing Army Commanders
Conference. But in a country where civilian control of the military rightly
remains supreme, it is for the political executive, starting with Defence
Minister A.K. Antony, who must take notice and address these issues on an
urgent basis.
Better relations with Russia Emerging global challenges as the catalyst
by Harsh V. Pant A few days back India and Russia finalised joint fifth
generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and multirole transport aircraft (MTA)
projects to be completed over the next decade as part of which India will
acquire about 250-300 FGFAs and 45 MTAs. The Indian Defence Minister
underlined that these would be the flagship Indo-Russian joint projects as
the joint development of Brahmos cruise missiles has been a positive
experiment that would serve as a model for FGFA and MTA projects. India also
raised the issue of inordinate delays in the delivery of Russian defence
systems, resulting in considerable cost escalation. The delivery of the
aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, has now been finalised for 2012-13 after
India agreed to pay Russia $2.34 billion earlier this year as opposed to the
original price of $974 million agreed to in 2004. India was supposed to get
Akula-II nuclear-powered submarine last year but now its delivery has been
postponed to March next year. Despite this, the two sides are intent on
having a strong defence partnership. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will
be in India in December and the deal for joint development of FGFA will be
signed during his visit. The Russian Chief of Defence Forces will be in
India followed by the visit of the Russian Navy Chief in January next year.
The two armies will be holding a joint counter-terrorism exercise later this
month in India and it will be followed by another one in Russia next year.
There are very few examples of a relationship between two countries that has
been as stable as the one between India and Russia. Despite the momentous
changes in the international environment after the end of the Cold War,
there remains a continued convergence of interests that makes it
advantageous for both India and Russia to maintain close ties. Barring a
fleeting hiccup during Boris Yeltsin's term as Russia's President, New Delhi
and Moscow have been extraordinarily successful in nurturing a friction-free
relationship that harks back to the Soviet era. After the Cold War, both
India and Russia struggled for several years to define their relations with
other major players on the global stage, where the rules of international
politics were in a state of flux and where the terms of the economic
interaction between nations were being reset. As India rose in the global
inter-state hierarchy, many in this country continued to rely on Russia for
railing against the "unipolar world order". The most visible manifestation
of this tendency was an attempt to create a Russia-China-India "strategic
triangle". The proposal for a Moscow-Beijing-Delhi strategic triangle had
originally come from former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov during
his visit to India in 1998, arguing that such an arrangement would be a
force for greater regional and international stability. But as every state
in the triangle needed the US to further its own interests, this project
could not move beyond platitudinous rhetoric. And now with the US in
relative decline and China emerging its most likely challenger, Russia and
India are struggling with the implications of a possible Chinese hegemony
over the Asian strategic landscape. It is this geopolitical imperative that
is forcing Delhi and Moscow to ramp up their partnership. While this was not
discussed in the open, this is the hidden subtext behind the rapidity with
which the two countries are trying to revise their relationship. The rise of
China is the new reality that India and Russia are trying to come to grips
with, and this will shape the contours of their ties in the future.
Defence, of course, remains central to Indo-Russian relations. Not only is
Russia the biggest supplier of defence products to India, but the
India-Russia defence relationship also encompasses a wide range of activity
that includes joint research, design, development, and co-production. India
is now locally producing several Russian defence systems, including the
Brahmos supersonic missile, the T-90 tank and Sukhoi fighter aircraft.
Russia has agreed to further expand defence supplies ties with India, both
in content and range, and has also decided to give its nod to cooperation in
sophisticated spheres of technology about which the US and other Western
nations seem reticent. During Putin's trip to New Delhi earlier this year,
significant defence deals were signed that included a new contract for
refitting the Gorshkov aircraft carrier; a $1.2 billion deal to procure 29
additional MiG 29 K naval fighter aircraft; and an agreement for an
additional 40 Su MKI fighters for the Indian Air Force. The bilateral
defence relationship has indeed come under pressure as India has adjusted to
the changing nature of modern warfare and shifted its defence priorities to
the purchase of smart weaponry, which Russia is ill-equipped to provide.
Already, India's increasing defence ties with Israel and the gradual opening
of the U.S. arms market for India has made Russia relatively less exciting.
The Indian military has been an critical of over-reliance on Russia for
defence acquisition which was reflected in the Indian Naval Chief's view
that there should be re-think on India's ties with Russia in the light of
the Russian demand of $1.2 billion more for Admiral Gorshkov. Though there
is disquiet among the Indian armed forces about the Russian behaviour over
Admiral Gorshkov, it is clear that Russia is the only country that is
willing to share defence technology of strategic nature with India,
including aircraft carriers and nuclear submarine. It is equally significant
that Russia is probably the only major global power that has not sold
defence technology to Pakistan. Civilian nuclear energy cooperation has also
gathered momentum with a comprehensive nuclear deal between India and Russia
and a pact to build two power plans in Tamil Nadu. Russia is already
constructing four nuclear reactors in India, and this pact will lead to more
than a dozen Russian nuclear power plants in India. The rapidly
deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan has been instrumental is
bringing India and Russia closer to each others in recent years. Moscow's
recent assertion that the security situation in Afghanistan "does impact the
security" of India and Russia underscores the convergence of views between
the two on the evolving situation in Afghanistan. As a consequence, India
and Russia have stepped up cooperation on Afghanistan. This comes at a time
when Indian disenchantment with the West on Af-Pak is at an all-time high
and it is looking at alternative policy options to secure its interests.
India-Russia partnership is only likely to get stronger in the light of the
challenges that the two face in their vicinity.
China refuses to bend on J&K stapled visas
Press Trust of India, Updated: October 26, 2010 17:23 IST Ads by Google The
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Location Here Beijing: Rejecting New Delhi's
assertions that Beijing should respect India's sensitivities on Kashmir,
China today said that its policy of issuing stapled visas to Kashmiris would
remain unchanged, in crucial comments ahead of a meeting between Prime
Ministers of the two countries. Weeks after External Affairs Minister S M
Krishna hoped that Beijing would maintain "neutrality" on the affairs
related to Jammu and Kashmir and respect India's sensitivities on the issue,
a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said, "Though China had friendly
relations with India, its policy towards the stapled visas for residents of
the state remained unchanged." The comments come ahead of this week's
meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart
Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. The
issue of stapled visa is likely to figure prominently at the talks. *
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Ma Zhaoxu, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said at his bi-weekly
briefing, "As for the Indian Kashmir visa our policy is consistent and has
stayed unchanged." He was replying to questions whether the issue would come
up for discussions at the meeting between Singh and Wen. He said officials
of both the countries were in "touch" with each other to arrange the
meeting. Indian officials expect the meeting to take place on October 30.
Ma declined to comment on the just concluded visit of Singh to Japan and the
Indian Prime Minister's talks with his Japanese counterpart, Naoto Kan in
which China figured prominently. "We usually do not comment on leaders
meeting from other countries. Our friendly position with India remains
unchanged. Meanwhile we value strategic relations with Japan," Ma said.

ISI asks Kashmiri separatists to woo Naxals
October 24, 2010 18:41 IST Tags: ISI, Masarat Alam, Chota Shakeel, AP,
Andhra Pradesh Share this Ask Users Write a Comment Click! In an ominous
development, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence has roped in separatist
leaders and their sympathisers to make inroads in Naxal ranks in its
anti-India strategies after making a failed attempt to enlist the support of
the Maoist rebels. Some of the arrested militants and overground Naxal
workers spoke about the plan of the deadly Inter Services Intelligence(ISI)
after the Pakistani agency found it was not possible to penetrate the
security system of India [ Images ] regularly, official sources said. The
sources said there was evidence pointing to ISI desperately trying to make
inroads into the Naxal ranks and had now started seeking support of Kashmiri
separatists and their sympathisers in this regard for their sinister
designs. A detailed analysis of events by subversive elements in the state
showed that some Naxal activities were first noticed in R S Pura in 2007,
the sources said. It was also found in 2008 that the Naxals had some support
base in the Jammu University, the sources said. Another indicator to a link
between Naxals and separatists in the Kashmir [ Images ] Valley came to
light when Masarat Alam, the mastermind behind stone-pelting incidents,
circulated a pamphlet about the plan for strikes by separatists. Ironically,
the pamphlet was prepared by an overground Naxal worker and at several
places, even the language was the same, the sources said. A detailed
examination by the Questioner of Examined Document (QED) of the paper showed
that the font used in the pamphlet circulated by the Naxal leader Kishenji
and by Masarat Alam were identical and even the printers were the same, the
sources said. Over the last two years, some of the naxal overground
supporters have been visiting Kashmir Valley and Jammu regions which has
been monitored closely by the authorities, the sources said. Naxals had also
given a bandh call on September 29 in support of the secession of Kashmir
from rest of India. The ISI had even roped in underworld cadres of Dawood
Ibrahim [ Images ], designated by the US as global terrorist, to woo the
Naxals and an attempt to this regard was foiled only in August this year
when central security agencies led an operation in which six people in
Bengaluru [ Images ] and Hyderabad were arrested. The ISI had attempted to
establish contacts with Naxals with the help of underworld don Chota Shakeel
for carrying out subversive activities in the country and six people have
been arrested so far in this connection. The police in Karnataka [ Images ]
and Andhra Pradesh assisted by central security agencies in a swift
operation, arrested four persons from AP and two from Bangalore. A sum of Rs
25 lakh meant for distribution to Naxals mainly in Andhra Pradesh was also
seized from them. According to officials privy to the operations,
ISI had contacted Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed alias Chota Shakeel, who is at
present holed up in Pakistan. The underworld don, wanted in many cases in
India, got in touch with a person identified as Altaf, alleged to be one of
his touts and a resident in Karnataka, for establishing contacts with Naxals
in these two states. Altaf alias Rakesh got in touch with a person
named Vinay who had promised him to introduce him to some prominent Naxal
leader from Andhra Pradesh, the sources said. Making attempts to nip in bud
any subversive motive, the AP police closely monitored the activities of
Vinay and in a discreet probe, it was found that he had received Rs 25 lakh
through hawala channels from Altaf in Dubai [ Images ] as a token amount to
forge a long term relationship. The police arrested another person
Shreedhar and three more associates from AP while Vinay along with one of
his accomplice was arrested from Karnataka. All the six people are in jail.

Defence min may take over scam-hit Mumbai complex
Josy Joseph, TNN, Oct 27, 2010, 01.44am IST NEW DELHI: Stung by the
embarrassing scam in which retired military brass connived with Maharashtra
bureaucrats and politicians to corner a prized piece of property in Mumbai's
tony Colaba - all in the name of Kargil war widows - the defence ministry
and the army chiefs have decided to come down like a ton of bricks and are
considering invoking the Defence of India Rules (DIR) to take over the
property and call in the CBI to probe the scandal. These two options have
been considered at the highest level in meetings between the defence
ministry and the army brass where the Adarsh housing society scam, whose lid
was blown off by TOI on Monday, was discussed at length. There are
indications that the army brass is veering around to a takeover of the
31-storey complex and put it to military use. The promoters would, however,
be reimbursed their cost. Sources said the army headquarters has already
recommended a CBI inquiry into the scam. The recommendation came in response
to a query from defence minister A K Antony. "Since we do not have the legal
standing to inquire into the conduct of the state government departments, we
believe the CBI must look into how the entire manipulation happened and the
guilty must be punished," a source said to explain the army's unusual
readiness to be probed by an outside agency. The recourse to DIR rules will
mark an unprecedented step. Framed by the British to deal with challenges to
their Empire, the rules have seldom been used since the Emergency in 1975.
It is ironical that the rule is being dusted off to deal with a scam
allegedly involving leaders of armed forces, politicians and bureaucrats who
connived to misappropriate the land they got the army to release for war
widows. But DIR is seen as justified given the enormity of the
embarrassment and the fact that the armed forces, normally zealous in
guarding their turf, are okay with the idea of a CBI probe because, apart
from retired military officers, several others are involved in the land
grab, including officers of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development
Authority and Brihanmumbai Muncipal Corporation. Sources said Antony has
made it clear that the scam will not be swept under the carpet. On his
instructions, the MoD has sought the army's response to the disclosure by
TOI. The army headquarters has quite a task on its hand. The officials
dealing with the issue have to reckon with the fact that the beneficiaries
of the scam include two of its former chiefs, one former vice chief, one
southern army commander and at least four officers who headed the MG & G
Area (Maharashtra, Gujarat & Goa) in recent times. All of them own
apartments in the complex. The grim mood in the headquarters coupled with
Antony's resolve indicates that the current leadership may not flinch from
taking tough measures to repair the damage to military image. The navy has
its own share of embarrassment, with a former navy chief, a former chief of
the western naval command and another senior admiral featuring among the
flat owners in the housing society.

China rebuffs India, says it policy on J&K visas unchanged
PTI | 05:10 PM,Oct 26,2010 China has been issuing stapled visas to
residents of Jammu and Kashmir since 2008. The policy had its biggest fall
out when China recently declined to grant visa to Lt.Gen. B S Jaswal, the
Chief of Indian Army's northern command for official talks here on the
ground that he headed troops of a disputed area.The move prompted India to
put on hold all defence exchanges with China, even though Beijing played
down the move saying that defence ties are intact.Earlier China stapled visa
policy coupled with references of Gilgit and Baltistan which are part of
Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, (POK) as Northern Areas Pakistan by Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokesperson created an impression that China changed its
neutral stand on the status of Kashmir.However, an official online map
released by China to rival Google displayed the Line of Control, (LOC) in
Kashmir region acknowledging the both sides of the areas respectively under
the control of India and Pakistan. It also recognises the Northern Areas of
Gligit and Baltistan as part of the "Pakistan controlled" Jammu and
Kashmir.The stapled visa issue has emerged as an irritant in Sino-Indian
ties at a time when bilateral trade is set to cross USD 60 billion target
set for this year.

India, Japan Boost Defence Ties
October 26, 2010By Rajeev Sharma Indian Decade With an eye each on China,
India and Japan look to bolster defence co-operation. Image credit:US Navy
China's growing assertiveness in the region is prompting increasingly wary
Japan and India to boost defence cooperation. The most visible example of
this is the first ever Indo-Japan army-to-army staff-level talks that
concluded recently. The Indian Army currently holds such talks with nine
countries, including Australia and Malaysia (there had in fact been a
defence co-operation process between Delhi and Beijing, but this appears to
have been placed on hold by an indignant India following Beijing's recent
refusal to grant a visa to an Indian general). The fact that Indo-Japan
defence cooperation is being bolstered despite Tokyo's reservations over
India's persistent refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) speaks volumes about the two
sides' determination to improve all-round bilateral ties and their desire to
add a truly strategic dimension to their relations. It can only be hoped
that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's ongoing visit to Japan will be a
further step toward further deepening of Indo-Japan engagement. An early
example of co-operation between the two is the fact that Japan has already
built the Indian Navy's only Floating Dock Navy- 1 (FDN1). The FDN1 was
designed by the Indian Institute of Technology and has a lifting capacity of
11,500 tonnes. Now, the Indian Navy is planning to acquire another floating
dock, to be stationed in the strategic Andaman and Nicobar islands. But
it's not all going to be plain sailing in the defence relationship-the
Indian Navy has already looked for expressions of interest for the FDN2, but
this time it's not clear Japan is in the running, and would anyway be facing
stiff competition from Russia and Germany.

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