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Thursday, 18 November 2010

From Today's Papers - 18 Nov 2010

Ex Army chief in yet another land scam 15 11 2010 0 0 In less than a
fortnight, a third allegation has come up against the former Indian Army
Chief, General Depak Kapoor. A Trinamool MP has written to the Defence
Ministry, alleging that Gen Kapoor benefited from a Defence land deal in
Mumbai. The MP alleged that Gen Kapoor along Maj Gen RK Hooda were
beneficiaries of a land deal in Malad-Kandivili in Mumbai. Sources tell CNN
IBN the letter by the MP to the Prime Minister's Office and Defence MInister
comes even as the MoD had started enquiring into the same. The letter,
dated 10th Nov, a copy of which is with CNN IBN, has been written by
Trinamool MP Ambica Banerjee. The letter alleges that Defence land under
the Central Ordnance Depot in Malad and Kandivili in Mumbai has been made
available to business establishments by granting them an NoC. The modus
operandi, according to the Trinamool MP's letter, is a familiar one – seek a
No Objection Certificate from the Army for a piece of land and then with the
help of BMC officials start construction. The NoC by BMC said the area was
not Army land. It then allowed Neo Pharma, a medical firm and part of
Kalpatru Group, to carry construction at the land. The letter alleges,
about a year ago, officers from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa area along with
the Central Ordnance Depot and BMC officials facilitated occupation of the
Defence land. Maj Gen RK Hooda and former Chief of Army Gen Deepak Kapoor
are already alleged beneficiaries in the Adarsh housing society scam.
Ironically the letter by the MP comes just days after the Ministry of
Defence ordered a high level enquiry into the same piece of land after a
whistleblower brought the matter to light. Sources indicate to CNN IBN that
Defence Minister A K Anthony has already asked for a status report on the
matter. The scam points to a growing realisation that Sukhna and Adarsh
were not aberrations. The Army is now under increasing pressure to come
clean on the repeated scandals. While also owning some controversial
property in Gurgaon, General Deepak Kapoor has also been embroiled in
questionable procurement of tents and other equipment when he headed the
northern command in 2005.

Texture of canopy by Major-Gen GG Dwivedi (retd) It was an auspicious day
with solemn significance. This day, some four decades back, the Red Shield
Division was raised. Traditional Army style celebrations were unthinkable as
the formation was in the thick of counter-insurgency operations, amidst the
most inhospitable jungles of Manipur, against militants who had been well
entrenched over the years. Literally, the hands were in a hornet's nest.
Innovation is the acme of warfare, as fight is always to the finish, So, to
mark this day, most of the units had planned bold operations with great deal
of ingenuity. I was particularly edgy about one such action, by a Rajput
battalion. It was a complicated mission; raid on a formidable militant base,
atop a hill, astride an incognito village — Tulaimazang. Arduous cross
country-move, through a harsh terrain in small bodies, was the only option.
The officiating Commanding Officer was personally leading the mission, with
four of his plucky officers as team leaders. Interestingly, although this
unit had been inducted into operational areas on numerous occasions, it
never got the taste of a real fight, as wherever they took the field, the
area turned dormant. It was now past 10 am. Positive inputs had begun to
pour in from the units, but the battalion in question was stoically silent.
I was beginning to feel concerned. Well, by the midday, the suspense was
over. There was a frantic call from the Tulaimazang area about the fierce
encounter and request for helicopters to evacuate the casualties. The
Operations Room swung into action. Four helicopters were airborne in
minutes. After initial haziness, clearer picture began to emerge. Due to
slow cross-country movement, some of the teams converged onto the road to
close up with the objective, thus offering a lucrative target. The militants
obliged, by springing a hasty ambush. Engagement was at close quarter, with
a hand-to-hand fight. All five officers took the hits. They led up front
with élan. Despite tactical blunder, due to resilient fightback, the damage
was minimised and mission accomplished, though at a price. At the Military
Hospital, I was overwhelmed, seeing officers and men in high spirits. Their
camaraderie and fortitude left me stumped. Realisation, that I was worthy of
trust of these brave men resonated deep within me. The Red Shield Division
couldn't have sought a better deed to re-dedicate itself on its anniversary.
Within weeks, these brave young officers were back to their unit, once again
undauntedly leading their teams. Such acts of valour are oft repeated in
one sector or the other; be it J&K or the North East. These actions
vindicate that structurally, the Army is in excellent shape at the lower end
of the pyramid, despite certain inadequacies in the wherewithal. However,
when it comes to the apex of the structure, some aspersions are being cast.
Incidents involving the hierarchy which have made the news in the recent
past, do not augur well. The call for an internal diagnosis, by no less than
the Chief of Army Staff, is timely. An organisation can not be benchmarked
in dual shades. After all, isn't it the texture of the canopy, which in
ample measure, reflects the real state of health of a 'legendry tree'?
MoD, Army not implementing AFT orders: Judge Vijay Mohan/TNS Chandigarh,
November 17 While the non-cooperative attitude of the Ministry of Defence
and services is affecting the functioning the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT),
several drawbacks have been observed in the AFT Act that, which need to be
redressed. "The problem lies with implementation of the Tribunal's orders.
In almost 90 per cent of the cases, the orders are not implemented by the
Ministry or the services, requiring persuasion or other follow-on actions,"
Justice Ghanshyam Prashad, head, AFT of the Chandigarh bench, said, while
speaking to The Tribune on the eve of the bench's first anniversary.
Justice Prashad said there were several other administrative and functional
matters associated with the Tribunal, which were the responsibility of the
defence establishment, state governments and local civilian administration,
but were not being given due consideration. About two months ago, the
Ministry had cleared the establishment of three transit courts under the
Chandigarh Bench at Shimla, Jammu and Srinagar, to hear cases of service
personnel located at remote areas. "We have taken up the matter with the
army, but nothing has materialised yet," Justice Prashad said. Transit
benches, which involve a mobile court being set up for a short duration at
the aforementioned places, would be convenient for the ex-servicemen
residing in remote areas, who would not have to travel all the way to
Chandigarh for redressal of their grievances. Though the Chandigarh Bench
has jurisdiction over Jammu and Kashmir, there are hardly any cases from the
state. Except for about half-a-dozen fresh cases over the past year or so,
virtually no cases have been transferred from Jammu. After the Tribunal was
set up, all cases pertaining to the military service, pending before the HC,
were transferred to the respective AFT benches. The Tribunal is a big boon
to the service personnel for speedy redressal of grievances. The Chandigarh
bench, over the past year, has disposed-off 2000 cases, with about 150 new
cases coming in every month. Justice Prashad said the powers of the
Tribunal, relating to civil contempt, needed a redefinition. "Though the Act
has granted full powers for criminal contempt, issues relating to civil
contempt are ambiguous," he said. He said judicial review of summary court
martial, which continues to be with the HC, should be brought under the
ambit of the Tribunal, as it offers a broader scope of examination since the
Tribunal has the powers to review or reexamine evidence. Summary trials,
held by a one-man court constituting the unit's commanding officer,
constitute the bulk of trials in military.
Tejas induction may overshoot deadline Indian Air Force was slated to fly
the fighter aircraft by March 2011 Ajay Banerjee/TNS New Delhi, November 17
The Indian Air Force would have to wait for another 10 months or a year for
the induction of indigenously developed light combat aircraft Tejas, it has
been learnt. While earlier the aircraft was slated to be inducted into the
IAF by March 2011, now even the clearance to operationally fly the fighter
may not be available by this period. There has been a delay in the
completion of the Tejas project and the aircraft was not likely to meet the
March 2011 deadline, as had been announced by Defence Minister AK Antony,
sources said. A meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on
Defence was held yesterday and the members were informed that the LCA
(Tejas) was approaching the initial operational clearance scheduled for
December, but the final operational clearance — after which it would be
inducted into the IAF — may only be possible by next year-end, the sources
said. After the operational clearance, the first lot of fighters would be
handed over to the Air Force. Subsequently, a series of tests would be
conducted. A review is being conducted by the IAF Chief every quarter to
check the progress on Tejas, the sources said. Notably, a contract for the
procurement of 20 Tejas was allotted to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
on March 31, 2006. The total contract cost was Rs 2,701 crore. The delay in
LCA production was primarily due to refinements carried out in the
development phase. A total of Rs 1,712 crore has already been paid to HAL
till 2009-end. The delay in the project was due to certain technical
complexities and denial of critical technology, including the fly-by-wire
system, that keeps the fighter stable as its takes twists and turns, it has
been learnt. The programme was originally envisaged some 25 years ago.
Meanwhile, Antony yesterday told the Parliamentary Consultative Committee
that the Ministry would be making all efforts to create an environment for
speedy indigenisation of defence systems and platforms. Certain policy
decisions were on the anvil to give a big boost to the defence industry and
for the production of futuristic weapon systems within the country. The
meeting reviewed the performance of the Defence Research and Development
Organisation (DRDO). The DRDO is working on various projects like LCA,
aero-engine, electronic warfare system, long-range and medium-range
missiles, early warning systems, low intensity conflict technologies,
radars, armament systems, etc. Meanwhile, members of Parliament have
expressed concern over the cost and time overruns for different projects.
The DRDO was asked to come back with the detail of cost and time over-runs
for each project and the reasons for the delay, the sources said.
Army looking to tie up with private sector Tribune News Service New Delhi,
November 17 Aiming at equipping its soldiers with skills to help them in
settling down post-retirement, the Army Industrial Training Centre (AITC),
Ambala, is looking for a tie up with private sector to keep abreast with
changing job profiles. Notably, the AITC is a joint venture between Army
and the State of Haryana and trains jawans in various courses like mechanic
motor vehicle, refrigeration and AC, electronics, welder and computer
operator programming assistant on the pattern of government ITIs. Due to
price rise, it had become difficult for AITC to sustain financially under
current circumstances. Thus to remain industry relevant, the AITC is
planning to be compatible with the corporate world outside. The curriculum
is suggested for a change so as to impart training to transform the
institute into a centre of excellence and make it self sustaining and a
viable venture. This can include the scope by accepting student intake from
the IAF, Navy and eligible civilians.
Welfare scheme for widows of CPF men New Delhi, November 17 The government
has finalised a welfare scheme for widows of Central Paramilitary Force
(CPF) personnel who lost their lives in fighting terrorists or in other
combat action. Under the scheme, if the death occurs due to active duty
then the widow is entitled for liberalised pensionary award, which is equal
to the last pay drawn, and there's provision of family pension in other
cases. An ex gratia of Rs 15 lakh for death on active duty and Rs 10 lakh
for death on duty, as the case may be, will be given to widow of the
deceased CPF personnel. Besides, 5 per cent of the vacancies have been
reserved for compassionate appointments for widows and next of kin of the
deceased CPF personnel. The scheme also envisages facilitating Prime
Minister's Scholarship Scheme for the wards of the widows of non-gazetted
officers. The Welfare and Rehabilitation Board has been set up to attend to
the grievances of the widows. The widows are also authorised to get goods at
cheaper rates from Central Police Canteen. — PTI
Media going overboard Army bashing is unwarranted by Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi
There is a famous saying that "the law is an ass". There may be some truth
in it as technicalities, strict interpretation of the law and the police
preparing incomplete cases, intentionally or unintentionally, have resulted
in even hardened criminals getting away. So far the media has not earned
this dubious distinction of being an ass, but if it continues the way it has
been acting, it may still earn it. I am not taking up cudgels on behalf of
those in the limelight for allegedly behaving in a non-soldierly manner. My
aim is to bring the much-needed balance in this one-sided army bashing
concerning the Adarsh Housing Society scam for this constant diatribe
against the army has little meaning and has now become counter-productive,
to say the least. Various inquiries have already been instituted and those
who have transgressed the law, irrespective of their status, would
undoubtedly be brought to book. This has been explicitly stated by many
functionaries of the government as well as by the Army Chief himself. In
recent years the media, especially the electronic variety, has been showing
the defence forces in poor light, while reporting on the misdemeanours of a
selected few. They do so with impunity. The government and the Press Council
watch helplessly from the sidelines as young reporters, some still wet
behind the ears, as well as a few anchors go hammer and tongs, repeating the
same news over and over again, without any new genuine inputs. It would
seem that for our electronic media, the TRP god is "Breaking News", while
the print media at least reports events somewhat calmly without
sensationalising or lampooning. Perhaps they do not realise that when a
character assassination of the defence leadership takes place in public, it
does incalculable harm to the only instrument of the nation that works and
works efficiently and with alacrity. Both serving personnel and veterans do
want factual news, but are really sickened by sensationalism, innuendos and
imaginary news. Unfortunately, all three have been used with impunity and
what emerges is a wilful and mischievous maligning of the defence forces. Is
the media trying to convey that the entire military of the nation consists
of criminals who are scheming to line their pockets? It would seem so, the
way a few channels are handling this issue. They seem to forget that,
notwithstanding a few black sheep, they are talking about an institution
that is known for its honesty, probity and discipline, and which has secured
the nation externally and internally and even has been called for tasks
which directly fall in the ambit of other instruments of the state. Let me
again state that such sensational reporting does more harm than good to the
polity of the nation and people's confidence in the defence forces as well
as to the morale of the forces. The number of defence personnel in this
so-called scam is minuscule when we consider the vast number of officers in
the defence forces. If they think this is part of that much-abused phrase,
"freedom of the press", than I suggest they go back to school and re-learn
about "responsible reporting". I sometimes wonder whether some in the media
work overtime at the behest of a powerful group of individuals who want the
defence forces to be wilfully and mischievously maligned for their own
agenda like deflecting the heat from bureaucrats of Maharashtra, or others
who wish to divert attention from bigger scams like the CWG scam, which
seems to have gone off the radar screens of the media. I have no intention
of adding more facts to this sordid affair. However, I must say that the
media has "missed the woods for the trees". This happens when the aim is to
sensationalise by picking up bits and pieces and then filling the blanks
with half-truths and a fertile imagination. In their zeal in showing the
defence forces in bad light by concentrating on selected officers of the
army and the navy, they have ignored the kingpin and the fountainhead of
this entire conspiracy, viz the promoter of the society, R C Thakur, an
erstwhile official of the Directorate General of Defence Estates, with a
history of underhand dealings in defence lands. It is not Thakur alone but
the whole organisation that has done much harm to defence lands throughout
the country. The Directorate General of Defence Estates, which is the apex
body of the Defence Estates Organisation, has its subordinate offices in all
parts of the country. As per its website, "It is entrusted with the task of
management of defence lands inside and outside cantonments; and
acquisition/hiring of immovable properties for defence purposes". What is
not well known and something missed out by the media is that defence land is
divided in to many types, like A1, A2, B1 and so on. The army is directly
responsible only for A1 land. There has been speculation whether the
building under discussion stands on defence land or not. No one has thought
it fit to enquire the true status and type of this piece of land. The
Maharashtra Government says the land belongs to them. The promoter says the
same. In this distressing episode unless one is clear about the ownership
and type of land, there is no point in publicly castigating individuals for
their acts of omission and commission. Lastly, I come to the question of
propriety, made much of by at least one channel, especially of senior
officers and certainly of those who in the past had steered the forces as
chiefs of their service. The point made by the media repeatedly is that they
should have known whether the Adarsh Housing Society was an approved society
(according to all commentators, it was) and whether it was meant for
allotment to Kargil heroes (according to the Maharashtra Government as well
as the local defence formations, it was not, except that defence personnel
would be eligible to become members). In addition, they should not have used
their position to force an allotment for themselves. This of course is
treading on thin ice, as the answer could be either way. However, the more
important point is that the Maharashtra government officials were the final
arbiters of who should be given a flat. It is little wonder that out of the
103 flats in the dubious building the majority have been allotted to
political leaders and civil officials of the Maharashtra government or their
kin. A perusal of the list of allottees indicates that 33 allottees are from
the defence forces (12 flag level and 21 junior officers) and a whopping 70
from the civil society, all of whom are or have been political leaders and
officials of the Maharashtra government!
Domicile clause for defence top brass was waived Shiv Kumar Tribune News
Service Mumbai, November 17 The ongoing inquiry by multiple agencies into
the Adarsh Co-Operative Housing Society scandal has revealed that senior
bureaucrats and politicians in Maharashtra waived the domicile clause for
senior defence officials to allow them to obtain flats in the controversial
project. In return they themselves were allotted flats in the society.
Among those who aggressively pushed the case of senior defence officials
like General Deepak Kapoor and General NC Vij was Maharashtra Chief
Secretary J P Dange and former Mumbai Collector Idzes Kundan. Her letters
to top politicians recommending the names of the two generals for the flats
at Adarsh was among the documents handed over to the CBI by Maharashtra
Chief Secretary JP Dange yesterday, according to sources. Under the laws in
Maharashtra membership in housing societies built on revenue land must be
granted only to persons domiciled in the state for at least 15 years. In
the case of defence officials they should have been serving in Maharashtra
at the time of making their application. However, neither of the two
generals were serving in the state when their names were cleared for
membership to the Adarsh Housing Society. According to sources Kundan
herself cited the domicile clause to reject the names of the two generals on
the directions of her superiors. Subsequently on orders of her superior J P
Dange, then principal secretary, revenue and forests, Kundan reversed her
decision. Kundan herself was allotted a flat in the society on the
recommendations of the state's politicians. Generals Kapoor and Vij have
since announced that they would surrender their flats at the Adarsh
Co-Operative Housing Society. Adarsh Housing Scam z Cases of senior
defence officials like General Deepak Kapoor and General NC Vij were
aggressively pushed z Under the laws, membership in housing societies must
be granted only to persons domiciled in the state for at least 15 years. In
the case of defence officials they should have been serving in Maharashtra
at the time of making application. However, neither of the two generals were
serving in the state when their names were cleared.
Haiti rioters attack U.N. troops, one protester killed The U.N. mission,
which is helping the impoverished country rebuild after a devastating
earthquake in January, has denied rumors that latrines close to a river at
the Nepalese U.N. camp were the cause of the cholera outbreak.
PROTESTORS IN Haiti, blaming United Nations troops for a cholera epidemic
that has killed hundreds of people, attacked U.N peace keepers in two cities
on Monday. One protester was shot dead in the clashes and six U.N peace
keepers were injured. The U.N. mission blamed the violence in Cap-Haitien
and Hinche on political agitators it said were bent on stirring up unrest
ahead of presidential and legislative elections set for November 28 in the
earthquake-hit Caribbean country. In Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second city on
the n orth coast, U.N. blue helmets were fired on by armed demonstrators and
one demonstrator was killed when a peacekeeper opened fire in self-defense,
the U.N. mission (MINUSTAH) said in a statement. U.N. troops also used tear
gas against the protesters. "MINUSTAH reiterates its firm commitment to
support the Haitian national police in maintaining order and security in the
country to guarantee the continuation of the electoral process and Haiti's
reconstruction," the U.N. statement said. At Hinche in the central region,
U.N. peacekeepers were among several people injured by stone-throwing
protesters who attacked Nepalese troops stationed there. The Nepalese have
been the subject of widespread rumors that they brought the cholera bacteria
behind the month-long epidemic of the deadly disease in Haiti that has
killed more than 900 people and sickened close to 15,000. The U.N.
mission, which is helping the impoverished country rebuild after a
devastating earthquake in January, has denied rumours that latrines close to
a river at the Nepalese U.N. camp were the cause of the cholera outbreak.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said DNA testing
shows the cholera strain in Haiti is most closely related to a strain from
South Asia. But it has not pinpointed the source or linked it directly to
the Nepalese troops, whom the U.N. says tested negative for the disease.
Officials and residents in Cap-Haitien said earlier on Monday that hundreds
of protesters yelling anti-U.N. slogans had set up burning barricades and
torched a police station. "The whole city is blocked, businesses and
schools have closed, cars have been burned. It's chaos here," a businessman
in Cap-Haitien, Georgesmain Prophete, told the media. The cholera epidemic
has inflicted another crisis on the Western Hemisphere's poorest state as it
struggles to rebuild from the earthquake that killed more than 250,000
people. Fear, uncertainty and anger have swept a country already
traumatized by the earthquake, which also left 1.5 million people homeless.
SECURITY WORRIES Haiti's government and the more than 12,000-strong U.N.
peacekeeping mission have signaled their determination to go ahead with the
November 28 elections. "MINUSTAH urges the population to remain vigilant
and not to allow itself to be manipulated by the enemies of stability and
democracy in the country," the U.N. mission said. Nevertheless, the
violent incidents raise questions about security for the elections, which
will choose a successor to President Rene Preval, a 99-member parliament and
11 members of the 30-seat Senate. Analysts say the elections could be the
most important in Haiti's history but many see the path to the polls
threatened by risks of political violence, as well as the huge humanitarian
challenges. Joany Caneus, director of police for the northern region
where Cap-Haitien is located, said the anti-U.N. demonstrators there set
fire to the Pont Neuf police station. "You can imagine how difficult it is
when we cannot have the usual backup of the U.N. troops because they
themselves are in difficulty," Caneus told the media present, adding that
the U.N. peacekeepers in the city had asked for a Haitian police patrol to
be posted in front of their headquarters. "So we don't only have to
protect the population, we also have to protect U.N. troops ... We are
working on ways to control the situation." Last month, in the central town
of Saint-Marc, at the heart of the cholera outbreak, stone-throwing
residents apparently fearing contagion disrupted the setting up of a cholera
treatment center, burning several tents. Experts say Haiti's widespread
poverty and poor sanitation have been major factors in the rapid spread of
the cholera epidemic, which has affected six of the country's 10 provinces.
The last cholera epidemic in Haiti was a century ago. But the experts say
it is difficult to trace the source of the outbreak with certainty or
determine how it re-entered the country after such a long absence.

Army attempts to clear confusion over Adarsh ownership DNA / Suman Sharma /
Thursday, November 18, 2010 2:11 IST In an attempt to remove confusion over
the ownership of the controversial Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society, a
presentation was made early last week at the army chief's office by the
Indian Army's Pune-based southern command. The army tried to prove the land
belongs to the defence forces. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is
carrying out a preliminary enquiry, before making a case for investigation.
Lieutenant General RK Swamy, chief of staff of southern command, was in
Delhi for the presentation as the Mumbai-Gujarat area falls under the
southern command. The presentation had facts and figures drawn from defence
estates records of 1958 and said the land was acquired in exchange for a
plot in Mumbai's Santacruz area. The defence ministry had asked the army,
navy and the directorate general defence estates (DGDE) about the security
implications of having the 31-floor highrise building in the vicinity of the
naval area and whether the land on which it stands is its property and how
was it transferred to the building authorities. DNA tried to contact the
present DGDE, Ashok Harnal, but he refused to comment. The army has also
shown concern over how an ecological park of the mid-90s got converted into
a residential building. The army was in de facto possession of the plot
since the early 1990s and had used it as a training location.
Russian-built T-90 tanks' thermal imaging system flawed Army suffers an
estimated loss of Rs 620 crore BY Ritu Sharma Delhi The Indian Army has
detected flaws with the thermal imaging system of the Russian-built T-90
main battle tanks (MBTs), inducted in its fleet three years ago, causing an
estimated loss of Rs 620 crore. Rechristened as 'Bhishma,' T-90s' flaw came
to light during its comparative trials with the indigenous MBT Arjun during
peak summers in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. According to the report
submitted by the Indian Army, the French Catherine thermal imaging (TI)
camera giving T-90s its night vision capability and higher precision is not
"adequately tropicalised." It simply cannot function in the extreme
condition for which it was supposed to function. Because of this the thermal
imaging camera is prone to malfunction in extreme temperature conditions of
Rajasthan, where it is deployed. "During the trials it was observed that
the temperatures inside the tank goes up to 55-60 degree Celsius resulting
in the blurring of images taken by the camera," a senior Indian Army officer
told Financial World on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to
speak to media. Following the repeated delay in the MBT Arjun project, the
Indian Army had opted for Russian-made T-90 tanks to counter-balance
Pakistan's acquisition of Ukraine-built T-80 tanks. Majority of T-90s would
be deployed in the western sector bordering Pakistan, where mercury soars to
intolerable levels during summers. The report describes the thermal imaging
cameras as the 'eyes' of the tank. While the tank costs around Rs 12 crore,
each of these systems cost (including) Rs 2 crore. Prolonged use of the tank
in extreme weather conditions has already rendered 80-90 of such systems
"unserviceable." The Indian Army is deliberating to get a locally effective
air conditioning system for the thermal imaging camera. However, nothing
concrete has happened on this front. French defence major Thales Land and
Joint Systems had signed a contract with Russian Rosoboronexport to supply
Catherine thermal imaging cameras for T-90s in 2007. The camera operates in
the 8-12 micrometre infrared frequency band and is designed to be
retrofitted into existing main battle tank fire control system. Russia
started licensed production of the cameras earlier this year. This is not
the first time the T-90 project has run into problems. In 2001 India had
contracted for 310 T-90 tanks for Rs 3,625 crore. Out these 310 tanks, 124
were purchased off the shelf, while the rest 184 were bought in semi-knocked
down conditions and were to be assembled at Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) at
Avadi in Tamil Nadu. There was a follow-on contract for 330 T-90s. Under
the contract, Russia was to complete transfer of technology to India for
indigenous manufacturing of 1,000 T-90s at HVF by 2006. However, following
chronic delay in technology transfer the first indigenous T-90 tank rolled
out of the factory only in 2010. Earlier, lack of cooling systems inside
the tank led to uninhabitable temperatures of 60 degree Celsius. This made
the Indian Army scout for an air conditioning system for the tank. The fire
control systems of T-90s also suffered malfunctions on various occasion.
GHTWEIGHT SUPERPOWER - Why the US might conclude that India is a rubber
sword Writing on the wall Ashok V. Desai Barack Obama came with a message.
It was mostly about broadening relationships. But behind it was an important
thread: that India was a superpower already, "emerging" no doubt, but a
superpower nevertheless. "Emerging" as in emerging market economy, which is
a market economy though poor. And that India had to get used to being a
superpower, and start behaving like one. Non-powers use their power within
their own borders; superpowers project it outside. It was in this sense that
Britain was a superpower till World War I, and the US a superpower since
then. The Soviet Union was a superpower, but failed. The European Union is a
superpower, though it lacks an effective central decision-making mechanism
to project its power. China is a superpower, though it is being extremely
cautious about projecting power beyond its borders. Obama wanted India to
join the US in doing things outside their borders. He avoided being too
specific in public; but his basic message was that India should realize that
it had grown up, and begin to project its power outside its borders. This
message was implicit in Obama's list of the tasks in which he wanted India
to join the US outside their borders — for instance, in ensuring that Iran
does not join the oligarchy of nuclear powers, and in helping Burma's return
to democracy. These were on his wish list, which articulate Indians,
otherwise known as chatterati, took a look at and rejected. But I think we
should not throw out the baby with the bath water or continue to be a
superpower with a small mind. In his speech, Obama showed familiarity with
many things Indian like Chandni Chowk and Vivekananda. He cannot have known
of these things; although he is well educated, such minutiae would not have
been part of his education. He was briefed. And I would not be surprised if
Stephen Cohen was one of the people who briefed him. Cohen and I were
neighbours and friends when he first came to India in the 1960s to study
Indian military affairs. Soon afterwards, Indira Gandhi and Richard Nixon
quarrelled over the drubbing she gave Pakistan, and India refused Cohen a
visa. So he went to Pakistan and became an expert on its army, and then on
to China. After Manmohan Singh showered Indians' love on George W. Bush,
Cohen could visit India again. After 40 years, he has written another book
on India's military affairs (this time with Sunil Dasgupta), which was
launched in Washington in September. It raises precisely the issue I have
mentioned — that India does not project military power. What is this power
India does not project? According to, India was the
fourth military power in the world in 2004, with 1.3 million men in arms,
another 1.2 million in reserve, a further 1.3 million in paramilitary
forces, 3,898 tanks, 1,007 aircraft, 143 ships, 9 deepwater ports and 346
serviceable airports. The United States was the leading military power;
China and Russia came next, roughly neck-and-neck. China had 2.3 million men
in arms, 800,000 in reserve, 4 million in paramilitary forces, 8,200 tanks,
1,900 aircraft, 760 ships, 8 ports and 467 airports. Russia had both more
men under arms and more hardware than India; Britain, France and Germany had
more hardware, but much smaller armies than India. Altogether, India's
equipment was not very modern or advanced, but it had very large forces by
world standards. Cohen says that the Indian armed forces have concentrated
on three things — defence in the Himalayas, COIN (coordination,
organization, institutions and norms in multi-agent systems), and a
cold-start strategy against Pakistan (a military doctrine developed by the
Indian army after Pakistan's incursion in Kargil; it involves dispersal of a
large number of small formations with offensive capability along the border,
which would rapidly make incursions into the enemy's territory and force him
to disperse his forces). Although cold-start strategy is innovative, the
army has implemented few of the organizational and logistic changes that it
requires. The Indian government's energies have been absorbed by internal
threats to security in Kashmir, the Northeast and now, Jharkhand. The Indian
navy is much better prepared for blue-water operations. But the air force is
unwilling to let the army take leadership, which it would have to in a land
war, and does not have the planes it would need to exercise air power on its
own. The civil government has too many bodies involved, including the Prime
Minister's office, national security council, and the ministries of defence,
finance and external affairs, to provide decisive, agile leadership in war;
its relationship with the armed forces is marked by suspicion and lack of
strategic understanding. All military production is concentrated in
inefficient public enterprises; despite declarations of intention, the
government has not significantly involved private enterprises. The result is
that India is dependent on a small number of countries — Russia, the US and
Israel — for its hardware requirements. The priority given to "developmental
requirements" — expenditure with social and political dividends — keeps the
army starved. The states have been getting stronger vis-à-vis the Centre;
they give no priority to defence. In sum, India is organizationally
unequipped to be a strong, decisive military power. I have not read Cohen
and Dasgupta's book, so my summary above may not have got all the nuances
right. But if the US government adopted their view, what would its approach
to India be? It would conclude that India is a rubber sword, and that it
would be a mistake to make it a strategic partner or support it against
Pakistan. Cohen and Dasgupta's picture of India's military preparedness is
not flattering. People in the government will want to contest it vehemently,
and our political and military "experts" outside will equally want to pick
holes in it. But one does not have to agree with all of it. One only has to
draw two conclusions from the experience of our past wars: first, that the
Indian armed forces do not have the unified command required for quick,
coordinated response in war, and that our civilian government has no
knowledge of the combination of leadership and delegation that is required
to enable the armed forces to fight a war effectively according to the rules
of modern warfare. These two propositions are enough to conclude that India
cannot win a war. The proof lies in the one war that India won by breaking
both rules — the 1971 war. Indira Gandhi was the sole civilian
decision-maker in that war. She spent a whole year warning the world that
the influx of refugees from East Pakistan was intolerable. She exhausted
diplomatic means, and overcame the resistance of the entire world except
that of the US. She went and signed a treaty with the Soviet Union, and
replenished the arsenal. And when she asked the army to attack, she left the
strategy entirely to the generals. In contrast, her father stopped his
troops in Kashmir as soon as they had defeated the invaders, and refused to
use the military advantage they had won for him. What prevents India from
becoming a superpower is not resources, but quality of leadership, both
political and military.

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