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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

From Today's Papers - 12 Jan 2011





Defence production policy set for release Tribune News Service  New Delhi, January 11 The Ministry of Defence is slated to release its first-ever defence production policy on January 13. This is aimed at speeding up defence production in the country with a thrust on indigenisation.  In the past 12 months the ministry’s key body the DRDO has seen two historic successes - induction of the Arjun Tanks and Tejas.  Last week, the Defence Ministry had released the latest version of the defence procurement policy (DPP) 2011.  At present, Indian imports close to 70 per cent of its equipment. Defence Minister AK Antony is looking to change that and is stressing on self-reliance for country’s future requirements. The Ministry is looking to expand the defence production base when keeping the cap of 26 per cent on Foreign Direct Investment.  Antony had said in November “…We are going to take some more drastic steps to achieve our goal of speedy indigenization……Our aim is to have a strong defence industrial base in India.” The Defence Minister had reminded that at a time India was seeking a permanent seat in the UNSC, heavy dependence on foreign companies for defence acquisition is not suitable.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110112/nation.htm#6
ITBP to procure snow scooters Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, January 11 Almost a decade after the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) decided to procure snow scooters to beef up operational capabilities in snow-bound areas, its plans have finally been materialised.  The force, which guards the Himalayan frontiers, has procured a limited number of snow scooters for trials. “We inducted six snow scooters on a trial basis in 2010,” an ITBP officer said. “These are at present deployed in Ladakh and Garhwal sectors,” he added.  According to sources, another four snow scooters are being procured, which would be evaluated and received by the force’s Transport Battalion here. The ITBP requirements are for four-stroke, 1,000-1,200 cc twin-cylinder two-seater machines having liquid-cooled engines and tracked wheelbase.  It was in 2002 that the then Director-General ITBP had announced plans for procurement of snow scooters by the force for efficient patrolling and logistics support in snow-bound areas in the Himalayas.  The ITBP had then envisioned two snow scooters per company for battalions deployed in snow-bound areas. Besides patrolling inhospitable terrain, these would also be used for communication, search and rescue operations and disaster management operations.  Under a Rs 150 crore-modernisation plan that got the government’s approval last year, the ITBP is acquiring modern weaponry, surveillance equipment and specialised vehicles, besides undertaking measures to strengthen border posts. Fibre-reinforced polymer huts, additional satellite phones, high-power snow cutters, solar power generating equipment and additional oxygen cylinders for border outpost are other measures on the anvil.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110112/nation.htm#14
A delayed Tejas Indigenous LCA is still a long way  In Sanskrit, tejas, the name given to India’s indigenously developed light combat aircraft (LCA), means brilliance. On Monday, the Tejas was finally accorded an initial operational clearance, but this tells only part of the story. The otherwise landmark event is the culmination of almost 27 years of work marked, however, more by unacceptable time and cost overruns – from an initial ` 560 crore to a staggering ` 17,269 crore.  The Tejas, which is meant to replace the antiquated Soviet-origin MiG-21 fleet, is still far from induction into the Indian Air Force, which most disconcertingly has been grappling with declining fighter squadron strength. As of now, weapon systems have not been fully integrated into this aircraft and, so, its operational induction into the air force is not expected until end-2013. Like most other high-end technology projects, the LCA too is a microcosm of all that is wrong with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) along with the nature of constraints and challenges in which it functions. The Tejas may have been built in India, but its key components are mostly either American or built with US assistance. It is powered by the US supplied General Electric 404 engine while the flight control system has been developed by Lockheed Martin, which again is an American company. India’s plan to develop the indigenous Kaveri aero-engine for the Tejas has, after spending 20 years and ` 2,830 crore, been an effort in vain. As a consequence, the DRDO is now looking for foreign partners to jointly develop an aero-engine. As of now Mk-II of the Tejas is to be powered by the American GE-414 engine, which again, is expected to fructify only by December 2014.  By the time the Tejas enters squadron service, it is expected to end up being, at best, a medium-end fighter and somewhat behind the times. As the air chief uncomplimentingly put it, the Tejas will be a “MiG-21 plus-plus”. Surely there is need for the DRDO to exercise greater tejas in executing their projects if India, an aspiring power, has to attain a credible degree of self-reliance in weapon technology.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110112/edit.htm#3
Plan B for India in Afghanistan Let Pakistan remain entrapped by D. Suba Chandran  With the Lisbon summit of the NATO countries (in November 2010) and the Afghanistan Review by President Barack Obama (in December 2010) over, it is time for New Delhi to take stock of the situation in Afghanistan, and rework its strategy to achieve those primary objectives. And as Robert Blackwill has done for the US (“Plan B in Afghanistan: Why de facto partition is the least bad option,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2011), perhaps India should also prepare a Plan B if the present strategy is unlikely to yield the desired results.  First, what is our own assessment of the situation in Afghanistan? And what are our alternatives? The Lisbon summit makes it clear that NATO would be withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by 2014. President Hamid Karzai’s statement at the Lisbon summit that the Afghans should take ownership of their security and governance was more an ultimatum than a request. For the US and NATO, this serves their purpose and they should be glad to exit as early as possible.  Will Mr Karzai be able to secure Afghanistan on his own? The Afghan security forces — the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan Police — are far from ready, both in terms of training and equipment. In terms of recent history, there is no single operation that the ANA has undertaken successfully on its own against the Taliban. More importantly, in terms of military leadership, there is no leader who has the charisma to attract the loyalty of diverse components. The command and control structure of the ANA is far from complete. Once the international troops leave, the ANA will not be able to secure even Kabul and protect their President.  There is no doubt that Mr Karzai will not be able to convince the Afghans that his government will deliver and provide safety and security to the common people vis-√†-vis the Taliban. His government is seen as corrupt and opportunist even by most Pashtuns, people of his own tribe. Neither the Afghan educational institutions nor the legal structures will be able to provide education and justice, the two most important demands that would ultimately force most of the Pashtuns to go back to the Taliban.  On its part, the Taliban infrastructure remains intact. Though the CIA and the US take pride in telling that they have disrupted (if not completely dismantled) the Al-Qaeda network, the Taliban network led by the Quetta Shura and the Nangarhar Shura (popularly known as the Haqqani network) are intact. It will not take more than six months or one year for both these networks to overrun the Karzai government. The Quetta Shura led by Mullah Omar is strongly positioned in Balochistan with regular inputs from Southern Afghanistan. The Haqqani network, according to recent reports, has shifted its base to FATA in Pakistan. The drone attacks have targeted Al-Qaeda, but top and second-rung leaders of these networks are alive and receive constant support from both sides of the Durand Line.  Finally, the umbilical cord between Pakistan and the Taliban remains uncut. Available reports do not suggest that the ISI and the military in Pakistan have totally distanced themselves from the above-mentioned groups. Besides, Islamabad has succeeded in pressurising Mr Karzai to reach an understanding on trade and transit between the two countries, and signing the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline agreement. The ISI has also succeeded in removing the anti-Pakistani elements in Mr Karzai’s Interior Ministry — Interior Minister Hanif Atmar and Afghan Intelligence Chief Amrullah Saleh were removed due to pressure from Pakistan.  Equally importantly, Islamabad also seems to have succeeded in convincing the international community (read the US and Europe) that the road to any moderate success in Kabul runs via Islamabad and the Khyber Pass. Today the US and other major powers, including the UK, (perhaps reluctantly) agree that there is no alternative in Kabul other than to concede an increased role for Pakistan in what they consider as “Endgame Afghanistan”.  How should India secure its interests against this backdrop? What are the alternatives? India has invested more than a billion US dollars in Afghanistan. How should it protect them and continue to maintain a presence in Afghanistan? More importantly, what should be done to negate the growing influence of Pakistan?  The first alternative is to work with whichever regime that remains in Kabul. But what if that regime, under Islamabad’s influence, is unwilling to work with India? The hard truth is that Mr Karzai has started looking outside already; the chances of his support to New Delhi’s enlarged engagement in Afghanistan are minimal. If the Taliban factions come back to power, in one form or the other, even this minimal space will get completely shut. The possibility of the Northern Alliance — which could provide a larger role to India — getting back to power is slim.  The second alternative is to form a coalition of regional powers — including Iran, Pakistan, Russia and some Central Asian countries — to ensure that Afghanistan remains neutral and no single country/ actor makes it as its backyard and allows it to be the centre of radical Islam.  The third alternative is to ensure a small presence, perhaps along with the US. It is widely expected that the US would leave a small force primarily to operate the drones for attacking Al-Qaeda. This is where India should seriously reconsider its obsession in negating the Pakistani influence in Afghanistan. Instead of India trying to obstruct the Pakistani presence, New Delhi should attempt to trap Pakistan in Afghanistan. Any historical analysis of Afghanistan-Pakistan relations would reveal that Pakistan has not succeeded in establishing a positive relationship with the Afghan nation, including the Taliban. There is hardly a section that will appreciate Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan.  Pakistan, on the other hand, has not gained anything substantial from Afghanistan. Most of Pakistan’s recent problems actually originate from across the Durand Line. In fact, Afghanistan does not provide strategic depth any more to Pakistan. India should have a symbolic presence in Afghanistan, adequate enough to annoy Pakistan and involve more, and get trapped.  The last alternative is to cut its losses and get out of Afghanistan. This is where India will have to relook its strategic objectives in Afghanistan. There is so much of an intellectual discussion, without much of an understanding of geography, saying that Afghanistan is India’s gateway to Central Asia. Is there a secret passage or grand tunnel which makes Afghanistan a gateway to Central Asia, jump-starting Pakistan from the Wagah border?  Plan B for India would be to cut its losses and leave Afghanistan, perhaps with a minimal presence, adequate enough to trap Pakistan. Let Pakistan consider Afghanistan as its strategic depth and remain embroiled.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110112/edit.htm#4
Chiefs of armed forces to appear before PAC today  NDTV Correspondent, Updated: January 12, 2011 07:54 IST ad_title  New Delhi:  In perhaps the first instance of its kind, chiefs of the Army and the Air Force will appear before the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to explain alleged discrepancies in ration procurement and distribution.  The chiefs of the three services - the Army, the Air Force and the Navy - have been summoned for questioning on the observations by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on alleged irregularities in canteens of the armed forces.  On Monday, Army Chief VK Singh and Air Chief PV Naik said they would appear before the PAC headed by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi. "We have no problem in appearing before the PAC. We are following the directives of the Defence Ministry," Singh had said.  The Navy would, however, be represented by Vice Chief D K Deewan, as chief Nirmal Verma is in Indonesia on a "pre-scheduled" four-day visit which began on Sunday.      * Share this on Rediff.com Rediff.com     * NDTVTwitter     * NDTVNDTV Social     * Share with MessengerLive Messenger     * NDTVGmail Buzz     * NDTVPrint   The CAG had said in a 2009 report that the Canteen Stores Department's procurement and distribution of dry rations was faulty.  Highlighting the irregularities in the Canteen Stores Department, the CAG had said, "The existing procedure for provisioning of dry rations failed to assess the requirement realistically. The failure was mainly due to systemic deficiencies due to which different quantities were worked out at different echelons applying different parameters...."  The report had said that the risk of existence of "cartels" affecting the quantity and quality of rations is too serious to be ignored.  PTI adds that the armed forces have decided to stick to their stand that their Unit Run Canteens (URC) are beyond the purview of the PAC.  "We still maintain that URC is beyond their purview. That is the basic issue on which I presume the hearing or questioning will take place. We have given our replies to them and let us see how it goes," Naik told reporters on Monday.  "We all must remember one thing that we all are subject to Parliament. That is the system of our governance. Nobody is exempt," Naik added.  The Defence Ministry, which received the communication, advised the service chiefs to appear before the PAC apparently to underline the committee's immense significance at a time when the government is seeking to project it as a body as important as the Joint Parliamentary Committee following Opposition's  demand for JPC into 2G spectrum issue.  Usually the Defence Secretary attends meetings of the Parliamentary Committees along with Vice Chiefs of the services. (With PTI Inputs)

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/chiefs-of-armed-forces-to-appear-before-pac-today-78766
Chiefs of Army, Air Force to appear before PAC tomorrow Press Trust of India / New Delhi January 11, 2011, 17:11 IST  In perhaps the first instance of its kind, chiefs of the Army and the Air Force will appear before Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) tomorrow in connection with alleged irregularities in the canteen stores supplies.  Army Chief V K Singh and Air Chief P V Naik have said they would appear before the PAC headed by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi.  The Navy would be represented by Vice Chief D K Deewan, as chief Nirmal Verma is in Indonesia on a "pre-scheduled" four-day visit which began on Sunday.  The armed forces have decided to stick to their stand that their Unit Run Canteens (URC) are beyond the purview of the PAC.  "We still maintain that URC is beyond their purview. That is the basic issue on which I presume the hearing or questioning will take place. We have given our replies to them and let us see how it goes tomorrow," Naik told reporters here.  The Army chief had already made it clear that he would be appearing before the Parliamentary Committee tomorrow.  "We have no problem in appearing before the PAC. We are following the directives of the Defence Ministry. I will appear before the PAC on January 12," Singh had said.  "We all must remember one thing that we all are subject to Parliament. That is the system of our governance. Nobody is exempt," Air chief Naik said.  The PAC had called the chiefs of the three defence services for a hearing tomorrow based on a CAG report which has pointed out irregularities in the supply chain management of rations by CSD.  The Defence Ministry, which received the communication, advised the service chiefs to appear before the PAC apparently to underline the committee's immense significance at a time when the government is seeking to project it as a body as important as the Joint Parliamentary Committee following Opposition demand for JPC into 2G spectrum issue.  Usually the Defence Secretary attends meetings of the Parliamentary Committees along with Vice Chiefs of the Services.  Highlighting the irregularities in the Canteen Stores Department, the CAG had said, "The existing procedure for provisioning of dry rations failed to assess the requirement realistically. The failure was mainly due to systemic deficiencies due to which different quantities were worked out at different echelons applying different parameters...."  The report had said that the risk of existence of "cartels" affecting the quantity and quality of rations is too serious to be ignored.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/chiefsarmy-air-force-to-appear-before-pac-tomorrow/121855/on
Army rethink on women OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT  New Delhi, Jan. 11: The Indian Army is mulling permanent commission for women officers in areas other than the education and legal wings after a contempt petition was filed in the Supreme Court against the force’s chief.  The army has till now offered women officers permanent commission only in the Education Corps and the Judge Adjutant General’s office, though Delhi High Court had ruled for permanent commission for all women officers on March 12, 2010.  The air force immediately agreed to implement the order but the army was squeamish and said it could not allow women in “combat areas” for several reasons.  The reasons it cited then were possible reluctance of male soldiers to take orders from women officers and that of women being taken hostage in a war situation or getting killed in enemy action.  A high-powered committee of the army is now exploring ways to allow women permanent commission in at least seven areas other than education and law, additional solicitor-general Parag Tripathi said.  “A decision would be taken by the ministry of defence after the report is placed before the Chiefs of Staff Committee,” Tripathi said.  “The army is moving forward,” he assured the court. “In certain areas it may not be possible because of the sensitivities involved,” he said.  The court granted him time till March 7.  Lawyer Meenakshi Lekhi, appearing for five women officers, three from the engineering and two from the electrical-mechanical wings, said the army was retiring the short-service commission women officers. The five are set to retire in March when their commission ends.  Lekhi dismissed the army’s position as untenable. The force, she said, was misleading the country. Women were never recruited to the combat wings, so to oppose their permanent commission in combat sections was an imaginary issue, Lekhi said. “We were only asking for permanent commission in areas where they have been recruited such as engineering,” she clarified.  Prior to this, women were recruited to the support and services wings, both non-combat areas, but were being offered short-service commission.  When Delhi High Court ruled in favour of the women last year, the army balked.  The five women officers then filed the contempt petition after which the force allowed women to serve permanently in the legal and education wings.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110112/jsp/nation/story_13426406.jsp
New defence production policy to promote domestic industry Sify.com Close 2011-01-11 16:30:00   GE Finance Ads by Google All types of loans available Apply Now! www.gemoney.in/html  New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) India will this week come out with its first Defence Production Policy (DPP) that aims to arrest the trend of imports in arms purchases and strongly pitches for a robust domestic industry.  The draft of the new DPP, approved in December 2010 by the Defence Minister A.K. Antony-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), focusses on building a robust industrial base for achieving self-relience in meeting the armed forces' needs.  Under the new production policy, the government will give preference to indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment, defence ministry sources said.  In particular, the policy will hold good for long-term needs such as equipment required over 10 years into the future, they said.  Accordingly, the government will rely on foreign sources to buy arms for the army, navy and air force only in case of critical technologies in which indigenous industries do not have capabilities and in cases where they cannot meet delivery timelines.  The draft DPP stipulates that the 'government will endeavour to build a robust indigenous defence industrial base by proactively encouraging larger involvement of the Indian private sector in the design, development and manufacture of defence equipment.  'It (the government) will progressively identify and address any issue which impacts or has the potential of impacting the competitiveness of Indian defence industry in comparison to foreign companies,' it adds.  Indian defence production was an exclusive domain of the public sector undertakings and the Ordnance Factories till 2000, when the government decided to allow 100 percent private participation in the sector.  In the first decade since the policy shift, the defence ministry has issued about 150 licences and letters of intent to the private sector.  At present, 70 percent of the armament requirements of the Indian armed forces is met through imports. But this scenario is likely to change once the DPP is implemented in full, the sources said.  The draft DPP also says that the 'government has decided that preference will be given to indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment. Therefore, wherever the required arms, ammunition and equipment are possible to be made by the Indian industry within the required time frame, the procurement will be made from indigenous sources.'  While pursuing this policy, the overall objective that at all times the forces have an edge over potential adversaries will be kept in view.  'Only where the Indian industry is not in a position to make and deliver them (hardware) in the requisite time frame will procurement from foreign sources be permitted,' the draft DPP says.  Also, the time taken for delivery of the equipment by companies abroad against timelines for indigenous production would be factors in deciding to permit imports keeping in mind the urgency and criticality of the requirement.  In the case of strategic and critical technologies, the draft DPP stresses the need to be self-reliant. In technology transfer from foreign companies, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will be 'a necessary party' for assistance in identification, evaluation and absorption of the technology, apart from encouraging the defence public sector units and the Ordnance Factory Board to strengthen their R&D wings.  Only last week the defence ministry had released the revised procurement procedure to be followed for acquiring arms, weapons and other systems for the armed forces under which it had diluted the offsets clause.  Offsets, introduced in 2008, made it mandatory for foreign arms vendors to plough back 30 percent of a defence deal worth over  Rs.300 crore ($66 million) to the domestic defence industry, thereby vitalising the sector in India.  But the procuredure for 2011 has now included sectors such as civil aviation and internal security for foreign vendors to discharge their liabilities under the offsets clause. This had been a long-standing demand of the vendors, who felt the clause was restrictive.

http://www.sify.com/finance/new-defence-production-policy-to-promote-domestic-industry-news-default-lblq4mdfche.html


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