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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

From Today's Papers - 19 Jan 2011

We know what’s happening across LAC: Army Chief Vijay Mohan/TNS  Ambala, January 18 Stressing that there have been no incursions by the Chinese across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, Chief of Army Staff Gen VK Singh said that India was cognisant of the developments across the border and was taking appropriate measures. There were reports earlier this month that Chinese troops had intruded into Ladakh.  “Each nation has its own policy. Since the LAC is just marked on a very large-scale map and there is no physical demarcation of the border on the ground, troops from both sides undertake patrols in accordance with their perception on the LAC,” he said, while interacting with the media here today.  The Chief said that the Army is in the process of restructuring and relocating its assets and formations to improve operational efficiency, decision-making and response. He also said that the number of individuals involved in decision-making at the higher levels would be reduced.  Stating that the Adarsh society scam has not affected the morale in the Army, he said that procedures were being re-worked so that clearances of higher headquarters would be mandatory for grant of no-objection certificates for land transfer. The Army Chief also pointed out that infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir had come down. He said that 110 persons had infiltrated across the LoC in 2009, which had come down to about 85 in 2010. He pointed out that 42 terrorist training camps were still functional across the LoC and infiltration would continue as long as their remained active.  On troop reduction in J&K, he said that there was a unified command in the state, which would take decision.
Kargil Records AFT slaps Rs 10,000 fine on Army Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, January 18 The Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal yesterday imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on Army authorities for their failure to produce necessary documents pertaining to the 1999 Kargil conflict as directed by the tribunal earlier while hearing the case of Brig Surinder Singh, erstwhile commander of Army brigade based at Kargil.  The bench comprising Justice NP Gupta and Lt Gen NS Brar has directed the Army to produce the said documents on March 3. Brigadier Singh was commander of 121 Brigade at Kargil when the conflict broke out. He was removed from command in the early stages of the conflict and later dismissed from service. Praying not only for professional restitution, but also for a complete investigation into the Kargil conflict, he has sought a number of records to substantiate his claims.  During the hearing today, the Army’s counsel had contended that the documents could not be produced as additional time was required to collect and procure the documents that were held by various units and formations.
China’s ‘Google Earth’ doesn’t budge on Arunachal, Aksai Chin Mapping website goes live, shows two disputed areas as its own  Beijing, January 18 China today officially launched its state-run mapping website that rivals Google Earth, showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir - two key areas of dispute with India - as part of its territory.The map called ‘Map World’ displayed on the Internet in Chinese language is already being used in I phone and other mobile and Internet user applications in China.  It shows Arunachal Pradesh that China has always claimed as “southern Tibet” as part of its territory. The map makes no specific mention of southern Tibet but its shows China’s borders covered up to Arunachal Pradesh.  Also, the Aksai Chin area, which India asserts as part of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir has been included by the map as part of China’s Xinjiang province.  Both areas are part of the border dispute being negotiated between the two countries, which so far have held 14 rounds of talks.  The map, however, displays the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir region acknowledging both sides of the areas respectively under the control of India and Pakistan. The unresolved border issue has been a simmering issue in Sino-India relations for a long time.  The issue of Arunachal was in the news again this month after two residents of the state were issued stapled visas by China, a development which observers said could be an indication of a change in Beijing’s policy. China had earlier refused to offer visas to the residents of the state.  However, China reiterated yesterday that its policy that Arunachal Pradesh is a “disputed area” remains “unchanged”. The online mapping service called MAP WORLD is meant to offer an “authoritative, credible and unified” online mapping service, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.  Announcing the launch of the map SBSM vice-director Min Yiren told the media that global geographic data can be accessed through the website and the data on China was “particularly detailed,” covering towns and villages in China’s extensive rural areas.  Search engine Google entered into a confrontation with the Chinese government over issues of censorship and hacking and also closed down its operations in the mainland for a brief period.  China then launched a blistering attack on Google and quietly began work on its own search engine. China is the biggest Internet market with more than 400 million users.  MAP WORLD has 11 million place names in it. Among them are some 120,000 points of interests, including hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, government institutions, banks and roads.  People can use MAP WORLD, for instance, to find a hotel in Beijing near subways or bus stations and then plan a travel route by measuring the distance between the hotel and tourists sites like the Forbidden City, Min said.  Last October, China clarified that the satellite imagery data for the Map service was being provided by commercial satellites from different countries while it has Intellectual Property Right (IPR) over the software. The clarification came after a Chinese blogger questioned the IPR of the map saying the satellite maps used in Map World most likely come from the US-based DigitalGlobe, which is the satellite imagery provider of Google Earth maps. — PTI
<p><table border="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 18px; font-weight: bold; color: rgb(2, 83, 183);">Defence Min to take 'balanced view' on MoEF demolition order</td></tr><tr></tr><tr><td style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold;">Press Trust of India / New Delhi&nbsp;January  18, 2011, 16:36 IST</td></tr><tr><td style="background-image: url(&quot;/images/common/gn_005.gif&quot;); background-repeat: repeat-x;"></td></tr></tbody></table></p><p>After the Environment Ministry recommended the demolition of the Adarsh Housing Society building in Mumbai for violating coastal regulations, Defence Ministry today said it would take a "balanced view" on the issue before arriving at any decision.</p>
<p>"I don't want to comment on the views of others but I would say that a balanced view would be taken in the Ministry. ....I can't comment on the future of the building but a view will be taken in best interest of everybody," Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju told reporters here.</p>
<p>He was responding to queries about the future of the building in view of the Environment Ministry's recent recommendation.</p>
<p>The CBI is also likely to give its recommendations as to whether the building constructed next to a sensitive naval base is a security threat and whether it should be demolished or given to the Defence Ministry for public use.</p>
<p>The CBI probe into scam was recommended by the Ministry after it emerged that flats were alloted to several senior serving and retired military personnel including three former Service chiefs.</p>
<p>On Sunday, the Environment Ministry recommended that the 31-storey building should be demolished within three months as the project in Mumbai's upmarket Colaba was "unauthorised" and violated the spirit of coastal regulations.</p>
<p>The Environment Ministry in its final orders on the controversial building, in which flats were doled out to politicians, top defence personnel and bureaucrats as well as their kin, had said, "The unauthorised structure built... should be removed in its entirety and the area restored to its original condition."</p>
<p>Asked if the Defence Ministry would recommend a CBI probe in the Kandivali land scam, Raju said, "If the Army Command has recommended a CBI probe, then I think probably the Ministry will follow the advice."</p>
<p>In his report, Southern Army Commander Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna has said that a plot of land in Kandivali-Malad area in Mumbai, which was with Army on lease, was sold "illegally" to a private builder in 2007 at the intervention of Inderjit Singh and Gen Deepak Kapoor.</p>
<p>The land in question belongs to the state government and had been on rent with the Central Ordnance Depot since 1942.</p>
<p>On the issue of China issuing stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, the Minister said, "It is unacceptable to us."</p>
Indian Army may finally induct howitzers in 2011   The Army may finally exorcise its Bofors ghost this year by inducting its first-ever 155mm howitzers since the infamous scandal in the mid-1980s completely derailed its artillery modernisation plan.  "I am very hopeful that we should be able to see some induction of one type of artillery gun this year itself. For others, there are certain trials in progress and certain RFPs (request for proposals) in the pipeline,'' said Army chief Gen V K Singh.  The first gun to be inducted is likely to be the M-777 ultra-light howitzers, 145 of which India will buy from US in a direct government-to-government deal worth $647 million under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.  The defence ministry has also now re-issued the fresh RFP for 155mm towed artillery guns, trials for which have been repeatedly held over the last several years but only to be scrapped.  The project to buy 400 155mm/52-calibre towed artillery guns, to be followed by indigenous manufacture of another 1,180 of them after transfer of technology, alone is worth Rs 12,000 crore.  Different scandals starting from the infamous Bofors one in the mid-1980s continue to stymie the long-delayed acquisition of different types of 155mm/52-calibre guns, under the Army's overall artillery modernisation programme worth well over Rs 20,000 crore.  The planned acquisitions, stuck at different stages, include 1,580 towed guns, 814 mounted gun systems, 180 self-propelled wheeled guns and 100 tracked guns.  The M-777 howitzers, on their part, were "trial evaluated'' first at the Pokhran field firing ranges, then in high-altitude areas in Sikkim, in November-December. Depending on the trial reports, the commercial negotiations will begin soon.  India wants ultra-light howitzers because they can be swiftly deployed in forward and inaccessible areas by helicopters and aircraft. The all-weather 155mm/39-calibre howitzers, with laser inertial artillery pointing systems and a 30-km range, will arm five regiments.  This is in keeping with the ongoing Army focus on strengthening offensive capabilities in the mountains, with China on mind. The force has already raised two new mountain divisions (35,011 soldiers) in the North-East to strengthen defences in Arunachal Pradesh against China.
Indian Army Opens Bases in Chhattisgarh, Asks for Rules of Engagement The Daily Telegraph reports that the Indian Army is opening bases in Chhattisgarh and has asked the government for rules of engagement.  There is a justification for these bases, other than counter-insurgency:      A big reason the army wants establishments in Chhattisgarh is that it is in the hinterland, far away from the borders with China and Pakistan. General Singh said the army also needs large tracts of land for its training establishments that are available in Chhattisgarh.  On the other hand, India is a large country.  There are parts of India that are far away from the borders with China and Pakistan that are not famous for an insurgency in the area.  So it is not wildly unreasonable to assume that the Indian army is setting up the infrastructure that it will need to fight the insurgency if and when it is ordered to do so.  If the Maoists think the way  I do, they may attack the Indian army.  It is unlikely that they will attack a battalion of the army, or even a company, but army units of less than company strength might be attacked, or mortar and rocket bombardment of the training base might easily occur.  So the request for rules of engagement makes sense.  It is worth noting that the Naxalite insurgency is, from a military perspective, a fairly small time operation.  Intelligence reports give it only about 4,000 fighters and 7,000 small arms,   Heavy machine guns, mortars, etc have not been reported.  So the Indian army is pretty likely to win any battle between the army and the Naxalites.  That said, fighting an insurgency and winning battles are two different things,, and it is quite possible that trying to use the army against the insurgents will do a lot to increase support for the insurgency.  From a distance, it looks like the insurgency is just big enough to make suppressing it with paramilitary units impossible, but not really big enough to make military units very useful.  The Maoists will avoid fights they cannot win, and there is as yet no sign that the army is deploying the kind of units it would need to take the fight to the Maoists.  So it not like we can expect fighting tomorrow.  But it is worth noting that the Indian army seems to be doing the things necessary to prepare for a fight.

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