Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Sunday, 27 February 2011

From Today's Papers - 27 Feb 2011

PAC slams MoD over submarine purchase
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, February 26 The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the highest statutory body of Parliament, has expressed its displeasure at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for its “unwarranted stubbornness” in not quantifying the exact monetary loss due to delayed procurement of submarines for the Indian Navy.  This is in context of Scorpene submarines that are now being co-produced with French company DCNS at Mazagon docks in Mumbai.  The PAC, in an earlier report, had observed that the delay led to escalation in the price of submarines by more than Rs 2,800 crore and an additional Euro 27 million commitment on procurement of missiles due to delay in the finalisation of the contract for three years from 2002 to 2005. The ministry had not quantified the loss.  The PAC, headed by Murli Manohar Joshi, tabled its report in the Parliament a couple of days ago, reiterated the need for quantification of financial losses accrued due to delayed procurement of equipment (for the submarines). It asked the ministry to indicate exact losses, the action it has taken to recover the same and also fix responsibility to check recurrence of such incidents.  The committee said it did not agree with the contention of the ministry that “highly complex nature of the procurement” had delayed the project.

No rules of engagement for troops training in Chhattisgarh's Maoist belt
February 24, 2011 14:51 IST No "'rules of engagement" for Army troops in Chhattisgarh since they are not being deployed for any operations, reports RS Chauhan   The home ministry has decided not to formally spell out any rules of engagement for the Army troops who will begin their training in the Narayanpur area of Chhattisgarh from the first week of March.  Sources in the Chhattisgarh government and the Union home ministry said the Army had asked for clarifications from the state government on what its response should be to "unforeseen" situations.  The request had been made after the Army decided to send two brigades (6,000 troops) from the its Central Command for training and jungle manoeuvres in the largely unadministered Abujmarh jungles located at the tri-junction of Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.  The Army mainly wanted to know from the state government what its stand would be when the Army retaliates if its troops are attacked by Maoists cadres who have bases in close proximity to the areas where the Army is planning to conduct its basic infantry training.  Army Chief Gen VK Singh [ Images ], in a recent interview, had said that troops will fire back if fired upon but had also emphasised that the Army would not be launching any proactive operations against the Maoists.  Now, the home ministry has told both the Army HQ and the Chhattisgarh government that there was no need to spell out "'rules of engagement" for the Army troops in Chhattisgarh since they are not being deployed for any operations.  Army sources say that first of the six battalions, earmarked to train in Chhattisgarh, will start moving into the area by the first week of March.  The Chhattisgarh government had agreed to provide the army an area of about 800 sq km for training. Three main conditions have been agreed upon by the two sides. They are:      * Army will not build any permanent structure in the area     * Army will not cut trees     * Army will not displace people  Security sources say it will be interesting to observe the reaction of the Maoists once the Army's begins its movement in the area. Will the cadres keep away from the Army? Or will some local Maoist commander decide to attack the troops to provoke the Army into a conflict?  These are some of the questions that are at the top of the decision-makers' mind both in South and North Block.

An era is ending and we must be on the right side of history
Feb 27 2011  M.K. Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat with considerable experience of West Asia, says an era is ending in West Asia and it is necessary for India to be on the right side of history. Here are excerpts from his interview with Ramesh Ramachandran.  India has millions of its citizens living and working abroad in the Gulf and the Maghreb countries. Do you think the Indian Government has a workable evacuation plan in place when situations such as the current uprising in West Asia arise? Even if we had an evacuation plan it would have gathered dust, and its relevance to the actual ground situation would be questionable because there is nothing like an ideal evacuation plan. In a broader context, we could have imagined that West Asia and the Persian Gulf inherently is an unstable region and that there was a kind of a crisis brewing, because even former US president George W. Bush had spoken of a ‘New Middle East’. Today, no one can tell what forms the unrest is going to take. Definitely there is an Arab awakening, a surge of popular aspirations for a different kind of political system and governance and a peaceful regional environment. But this will take different forms in different countries. So, how different regimes are going to react, and in what form these developments will unfold is going to have a bearing on evacuation plan. In some cases evacuation may not be necessary. On the contrary, in the case of Libya or Saudi Arabia, tendencies towards fragmentation regionally and on tribal lines may lead to a collapse of central authority and anarchical conditions can come to prevail. At the end of the day, therefore, I would hope the government mobilises contingency plans that adapt quickly to emergent crisis situations.  India is being criticised as not being vocal enough. There is another view that India cannot be too vocal as the livelihoods of Indians who live in those countries are at stake. Also, India sources most of its oil and gas from the Arab world. What is an optimal approach for India?  An era is ending, and it is necessary for us to be on the right side of history. India's initial reaction to the Egyptian situation was over-cautious to the point of being timid. Now we have spoken about Libya in a strong language. India had to take a stance in the United Nations Security Council. But, I think India is right if it is taking a stance on Libya. This Arab awakening cannot fizzle out and the ancien regimes cannot continue as if it is business as usual. But it shouldn't be that Barack Obama said harsh things about Gaddafi, and Western policy became very tough, and so India also should speak out.  What strikes me is that violence was let loose by the regime in Bahrain, too, where half the population is Indian and most of it actually from Kerala, and we didn't say a word. Frankly, I have no idea whether we really have a big picture in mind. And it is very important that we have one. This is not a situation where you think merely in terms of evacuation, a few hundred thousand barrels of oil, and so on. We have to look at the new forces that will emerge in the region that is our extended neighbourhood, what their expectations will be, and whether we are acclimatising ourselves with these winds of change. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening in Delhi.  Does our West Asia policy need a complete overhaul? Let me first speak of positive aspects. The Arab people are on the whole favourably disposed towards India. We aren’t carrying any historical backlog; we've never been invaders; we’ve never been prescriptive or exploitative; and I think the Indian expatriate community has acquitted itself well. Also, there is a fair awareness in the region that India is an emerging power, and it is useful from their point of view to have a good relationship with India. Now, to speak of the problem areas, in the recent years our West Asia policy underwent a big shift towards exclusively strengthening India’s relations with those regimes which are “pro-US”. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, but he seems adamant he won't visit Iran. So, India has been robustly working on tie-ups and strategic understanding with “pro-US” regimes and it has not gone unnoticed in the region. The Iranians and others know it, Arab popular opinion is aware of it, Turks know it and certainly, it has pleased the Israelis to no end.  Now, if tomorrow these regimes get swept away by representative rule, they will definitely reflect the popular opinions on regional and international issues. For example, they will take a genuine position on the Arab-Israel and Israel-Palestine issues. They are bound to be critical of the seamless US support for Israel and about Israeli belligerence. One major problem for India would undoubtedly be its relationship with Israel. The Arab street is bewildered why a great civilisation like India should sit at Israeli feet to learn about security issues or buy weapons that brought big budgetary support for Israeli economy. Palestinian prisoners have seen Indian security people visiting Israeli prisons to learn 'efficient' interrogation methods. This sort of ghastly behaviour does not cast India in a positive light. In 2008, we had the Israeli army chief taken to Srinagar for a 'Kashmir darshan'. Now, linking Israel with the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was in my opinion downright stupid. Having said that, I don't know how India can easily roll back its ties with Israel because there is a big military relationship and vested interests have accrued on both sides, including within our security and defence establishments.  Yet another problem area is the way we allowed our relationship with Iran to be degraded. The sum total of the developments in West Asia, in geopolitical terms, is that Iran’s rise has become unstoppable. There is no way the US can again put together a phalanx of Arab regimes plus Israel to put a containment ring around Iran. We could have easily foreseen that Iran is a genuine regional power and containing such a power is against the grain of history — and political realism should have demanded that we preserved our strategic understanding with Tehran. This is not the first time we came across American or Israeli pressures. American arm-twisting over Iran has always been a fact of life - from Indira to Rajiv to Rao, they all faced it, but Dr Singh seems to have a problem.  In your assessment, how far-reaching are the Arab uprisings; which countries are vulnerable and why? The faultlines are Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and it can spill over into Saudi Arabia. But the West will not easily allow comprador regimes to go away because the West sells arms to them and there are financial stakes. Bahrain has majority Shia population but it has a Sunni ruler. Change is inevitable there, but the Americans are trying to establish a dialogue with the Shia forces, and are trying to roll back the revolution's dynamics so that when tomorrow dawns, they are on talking terms with the new elites. Shia empowerment will cast its shadow on Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Kuwait, which have got sizeable Shia populations. From the Indian perspective, what happens in Saudi Arabia becomes extremely crucial. Two million Indians live there.  The eastern regions of Saudi Arabia which are Shia-dominated are also the oil-rich regions. Incidentally, 22 per cent of Saudi population is below its poverty level and unemployment is close to 20 per cent. And there is a class dimension to the Shia problem. So the struggle is going to be I think quite violent. Saudi Arabia is an arbitrarily demarcated country on the map - like Libya.  Unfortunately the propensity will be to use violence of a very extreme kind like in Libya, but, unlike in Libya, the West may acquiesce with it. I think the disaffection in Saudi Arabia is simmering and over a period of time things may gain traction. So the Saudi regime has got some time available to it for reform. Whether it is capable or willing is a different matter. What complicates the situation is that there is a leadership vacuum in Riyadh. All in all, the coming Haj season will be a highly sensitive time.

Is Pakistan in Control of its Nukes?
By Bruce Riedel Created: Feb 25, 2011 Last Updated: Feb 25, 2011  Pakistani Army soldiers guard nuclear-capable missiles at the International Defence Exhibition in Karachi on November 27, 2008. Pakistani Army soldiers guard nuclear-capable missiles at the International Defence Exhibition in Karachi on November 27, 2008. (Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images) WASHINGTON: Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. The arsenal is well protected, concealed and dispersed. The Pakistani army makes every effort to deny information about the locations of its weapons out of fear of any falling into enemy hands, especially American hands. The army is ready to use its nukes to defend their country, holding onto the national deterrent against any foreign threat.  But the international community questions Pakistani control: Are the nukes safe from Pakistan’s own home-grown opponents? The assassination of Salman Taseer—the governor of Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab—by his own bodyguard raises serious new questions about the process of vetting key employees in the Pakistani security infrastructure. And there’s compelling reports that Pakistan is prepared to share its weapons with its closest ally, Saudi Arabia, if Riyadh feels threatened by Iran.  The Pakistani nuclear button is in the control of the country’s military leaders.The democratically elected leadership has only nominal authority over them. If the country fell into the wrong hands, those of the militant Islamic jihadism and Al Qaeda, so would the arsenal. The United States and the rest of the world would face the worst security threat since the Cold War. Unique Nuclear Weapons State  Pakistan is a unique nuclear weapons state. It’s been the recipient of proliferation technology transfers, by theft (from the Netherlands) and from others (China), and it’s been a supplier as well (North Korea, Iran, Libya). Pakistan has been a state sponsor of proliferation and tolerated private-sector proliferation as well. As a weapons state it has engaged in highly provocative behavior against its neighbor India, even initiating a limited war in 1999, and its intelligence service, the ISI, has sponsored terrorist groups that have engaged in mass-casualty terrorism inside India’s cities, most famously in Mumbai, November 2008. Related Articles      * How to Keep the Nuclear Genie in the Bottle     * Power Game in Asia Erodes Nuclear Non-Proliferation    Pakistan’s fourth military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, created a Strategic Plans Division (SPD) in the army to provide security for the arsenal. Its director, Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai, has lectured across the world on the extensive security layers developed by the SPD, for facilities and personnel to prevent unauthorized activity by those overseeing protection of the weapons. The U.S. has provided expertise to the SPD to help ensure security, but is kept at arms length from facilities and personnel. Pakistanis don’t trust Washington’s intentions.  Former deputy of the SPD, Brigadier General Feroz Khan, noted that Pakistan had up to 120 nuclear warheads, as reported by the Washington Post in December 2007. Since then Pakistan has brought new reactors on line and undoubtedly produced more. Pakistan can deliver its weapons by both intermediate-range missiles and jet aircraft, including American-supplied F16s. The bombs and the delivery systems are dispersed around a country twice the size of California, often buried deep underground.  The SPD personnel vetting process has been largely an enigma to outsiders. The ISI, which monitors military loyalty, does the bulk of the vetting. And so the assassination of Taseer by his own Elite Force bodyguard, which was angered at Taseer’s support for efforts to amend Pakistan’s blasphemy laws that impose death for any anti-Islamic statements, raises questions about the vetting process. According to the Pakistani press, the assassin had a track record of sympathy for extremist Islam, yet also guarded the president or prime minister 18 times during the last three years and was assigned to guard two foreign dignitaries, unnamed, before he shot the governor, according to the Associated Press.  If bodyguards for the leadership are not properly vetted, how well protected are the arsenals? We simply don’t know.  Of course, if Pakistan becomes a jihadist state, then the extremists inherit the arsenal. A jihadist takeover is neither imminent nor inevitable, but it’s a real possibility. After all, one of Pakistan’s four previous military dictators, Zia ul Haq, was a jihadist and turned the country radically toward extremist Islam.  In this scenario, the international community could issue calls to “secure” Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, but since no outsider knows where most are located, such calls would be a hollow threat. Even if force was used to capture some of the weapons, Pakistan would retain most and the expertise to build more. Finally Pakistan would use its weapons to defend itself.  Pakistan may also continue to contribute to nuclear proliferation. There are persistent, but unverified, reports of an understanding between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for Islamabad to provide nuclear weapons to Riyadh if the Saudis feel threatened by a third party with nuclear weapons. Then Saudi defense minister and now also Crown Prince Sultan Ibn Abdul Aziz Al Saud visited Pakistan’s laboratories amid great publicity in the late 1990s. Some sensationalist reports claim the Saudis keep aircraft permanently deployed in Pakistan to rush a bomb or two to Riyadh if needed. Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia deny any secret deal, but rumors continue to surface as Iran moves closer to developing its own bomb. U.S. Pakistan Policy  U.S. policy toward Pakistan in general and the Pakistani bombs in particular has oscillated wildly over the last 30 years between blind enchantment and unsuccessful isolation. President Ronald Reagan turned a blind eye to the program in the 1980s because he needed Zia and the ISI to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. President George H.W. Bush sanctioned Pakistan for building the bomb in 1990; President Bill Clinton added more sanctions after the 1998 tests. Both had no choice as Congress had passed legislation tying their hands.  George W. Bush lifted the sanctions after the 9/11 attacks and poured billions of dollars into the Pakistani army, much of it unaccounted for, in return for Pakistan’s help again in Afghanistan. Bush’s civilian nuclear deal with India in 2005 left many Pakistanis angry at what they view as a double standard that gives India access to technology denied to Pakistan.  President Barack Obama has inherited a full agenda with Pakistan, burdened by the war in Afghanistan, the hunt for Al Qaeda and internal crisis inside Pakistan. But the nuclear issue will not go away. Obama’s call for a world without nuclear weapons and his pursuit of Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will inevitably mean arms control will return to the U.S.-Pakistan agenda. Islamabad already presses for a civil nuclear deal like India’s, but there is virtually no chance of such a deal. The international community and the Congress would oppose it given Pakistan’s history of proliferation.  In the meantime Americans should stay away from idle talk in newspaper op-eds and elsewhere about “securing” Pakistan’s weapons by force. Such chatter is not only unrealistic, but counterproductive and poisons the atmosphere for serious work with Pakistan on nuclear security. General Khan rightly called it “very dangerous.” It gives the jihadists further ammunition for their charge that the United States, in cahoots with India and Israel, secretly plans to disarm the only Muslim state with a bomb.  Now the entire relationship is threatened by the case of Raymond Davis, a U.S. diplomat accused of murdering two Pakistanis in Lahore. Washington wants him freed citing diplomatic immunity, many Pakistanis demand his trial in Pakistan. Some in Congress want to cut aid, which will only antagonize Pakistanis more.  The U.S. needs a policy toward Pakistan and its weapons that emphasizes constancy, consistency and an end to double standards. Increasingly, people in Pakistan recognize that the existential threat to their freedoms comes from within, from jihadists like the Taliban and Al Qaeda, not from India or America. Now is the time to help them and ensure a rational hand is on the nuclear arsenal.  Bruce Riedel is a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in the Brookings Institution. A former CIA officer, he chaired President Barack Obama’s strategic review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009, and he is author of “Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the Future of the Global Jihad”. With permission from YaleGlobal Online. Copyright © 2010, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, Yale University.

USA eyes on Army for 'safe water on move' technology  
The Press Trust of India February 25, 2011  Us-based Seldon Technologies today announced its foray into India to market its potable high capacity self-contained water treatment boxes and water sticks for Army and the domestic market in Jammu & Kashmir.  The company had developed the "safe water on move" technology for the US Army that is engaged in operations in various conflict areas across the world.  "We are focusing on the Indian Army as a major client for our products preliminarily produced for USA Army as safe water on the move," Seldon Technologies Inc President Roger Miller told reporters here.  Miller in joint collaboration with Aquanomics Systems Limited, launched Seldon products of water boxes and Seldon sticks manufactured under Carbon Nano Water Filteration Technology in the state today.  Flanked by Aquanomics Systems Limited Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Sapra and Nidheesh Group Managing Director Murti Gupta, Miller said, "The Defence Department of USA and NASA had provided us grants for development of this technology for the US forces."  We produced mobile equipments for safe drinking water which are user friendly and suitable for their use in any climate and geographical conditions, he said.  Sapra said "We will be meeting the officers of the armed forces at the conference here tomorrow, wherein we will showcase our technology which would be best suitable for the troops working in the harsh and unfriendly climates and terrain conditions during operations in the state.

Changing the lives of 5 ordinary Indian Citizens – Nat Geo ‘Mission Army – Desh ke Rakshak’ 
By admin at 26 February, 2011, 5:30 am  SOURCE : Nat Geo PR  Geographic Channel is all set to give its viewers unprecedented access into the most prestigious and revered institution of the country – The Indian Army. The long awaited mega programme “Nat Geo Mission Army – Desh ke Rakshak” will track the lives of 5 ordinary Indian citizens who have surpassed grilling tests of physical endurance and mental toughness to win the honour of stepping into the shoes of an Indian Army soldier.  But only one amongst them will emerge as a true hero and will win a never before opportunity and honour of being a part of an Indian Army Training mission abroad. To witness the making of true heroes, tune into Mission Army – Desh ke Rakshak only on National Geographic Channel at 10 PM on Monday, 28th of February, 2011.  The 5 finalists of the series have surpassed physical and mental tests akin to the actual Army standards during the auditions across Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi. These auditions saw 30,000 participants from different corners of the country come together to win a chance of being a part of this mega reality show. The selected few were further shortlisted based on army medical benchmarks & tests which were conducted in New Delhi. In the end only 5 emerged as deserving candidates who will undergo a training capsule at the prestigious Indian Military Academy in Dehradun. They will complete assignments at key Indian Army establishments such as – Commando school in Belgaum, Combat Army Aviation Training School in Nasik, The Corps Battle School at Srinagar, The Parachute brigade at Agra, the Armoured Corps Centre at Ahmednagar and Artillery Centre in Deolali. Besides this, the candidates will also be experiencing the grilling regimental routines from the snow peaks of Srinagar to the deserts of Rajasthan. The candidates will be trained and evaluated by combat experts of the Indian Army.  “After grilling 30,000 enthusiastic and patriotic youth applicants across the country, Nat Geo has selected the final five who will embark on a journey to win themselves a never before opportunity to experience the life of an Indian Army Officer. National Geographic Channel has taken the viewers to locations and places that no other TV channel has and our Mission’s in the past have lived up to this tradition. We have worked closely with the Indian army for our biggest Mission ever – Mission Army “Desh ke Rakshak” and will take our viewers into the second largest army of the world – The Indian Army. I firmly believe that in the age of scripted reality shows, a docu-reality programme like Mission Army will attract millions of people from different age groups across the country. We firmly believe that this programme will showcase the Grit, the Valour & the Glory of the Indian Army and encourage brave young men & women to join the Indian Army.” said Mr. Keertan Adyanthaya, Managing Director, Fox International Channel and National Geographic Network India.  The series is being promoted heavily through a 360 degree marketing activation spanning robust On-air, Print, Outdoor, Online & Radio.  Get ready to see the action unfold starting 10 PM, Monday, February 28th as the five go all for glory and the chance of lifetime.      * Over 30,000 entries received across the country for Mission Army      * The new 10 part series will offer five Indian citizens from different walks of life a chance to experience life in the Indian Army      * Each week, these 5 candidates will be in a new location and establishment from Chennai to Siachen      * They will be trained and tasked at each of these places and evaluated by the Army      * Only one amongst the five will win the honor of being a part of an Indian Army Training Team abroad.      * The selection procedure included physical test, psychological test followed by final round of Interview with the Army personnel      * Targeting candidates above the age of 18 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal