Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites

Loading

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

From Today's Papers - 13 Apr 2011






India, China to resume defence drills
Announcement comes before Manmohan Singh’s meeting with President Jintao at BRICS Summit Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service
Blowing hot & cold with Beijing      * Stapled visa row had resulted in suspension of military exchanges between two Asian giants     * India was particularly upset with China for denying proper visa to its top Army commander     * However, Beijing quietly stopped the practice of issuing stapled visas to J-K residents after Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December last year     * India, though, expects a public announcement by China in this regard
India and China are set to resume defence exercises which were put on hold by New Delhi last year in the wake of the stapled visa row between the two countries. This was confirmed by sources in the government today on the eve of a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao on the margins of the BRICS Summit.  Armies of the two countries had conducted hand-to-hand exercises in 2008 in China and 2009 in India. Naval warships of the two countries had also been paying goodwill visits to each other’s ports since 2004. Both Army and naval exchanges were suspended in July last year after China issued stapled visa to Lt Gen BS Jaswal, who was commanding Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir, virtually questioning the state’s accession to India.  Despite protests by New Delhi, China refused to give proper visa to Lt Gen Jaswal, forcing India to cancel the military officer’s visit and suspend defence exchanges with China.  Indian nationals from J&K were being given stapled visas for the last two years but that practice has been quietly stopped by Beijing since Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December last year. India expects a public announcement by China in this regard.  Asked if the stapled visa row was no more a bone of contention between India and China, sources said the two countries were in touch to resolve the issue amicably. “There has been some movement on the stapled visa issue…we can’t say it is off the table…we will have to wait and watch,” they added.  The sources explained that despite the visa row, the two countries had maintained defence contacts in the past one year. In this connection, they drew attention to the regular border flag meetings between local military commanders of the two countries.  Asked to elaborate on the issues that are likely to come up at the meeting between Manmohan Singh and President Hu, the sources said the top leaders of the two countries had been regularly meeting each other and taking stock of bilateral ties. “Political exchanges between the two countries have been good in recent years,” added sources. The sources also recalled that both India and China had abstained from voting on a UN Security Council resolution calling for international intervention in Libya.  On the trade imbalance with China, the sources said this has been a matter of concern for New Delhi. The issue had been discussed by the two countries at the highest level. China had assured India that they would give access to Indian companies in certain areas.







IAF to shore up air defence capability
Request sent to suppliers for getting new medium range surface-to-air missiles Ajay Banerjee/TNS  New Delhi, April 12 Faced with the increased air-borne threat, the Ministry of Defence has okayed an Indian Air Force plan to further upgrade the country’s air defence capability, and, in the process totally replace the Soviet-vintage missile systems.  The IAF sent out a request to global and Indian (DRDO) suppliers on April 7 asking how soon can they provide a new medium range surface-to-air missile (MR SAM) that is needed for protection of vital areas and installations across the country.
The time frame for inducting the new systems is nearly two years from now, sources said. The suppliers have been requested to provide their bids within 30 days, indicating the urgency following which the MoD will go through the process of identifying the lowest bidder.  The IAF and the Ministry of Defence are looking at the latest systems that will be on par with prevailing global standards. An MR-SAM has a range of 70-90 km and can be activated to fire when radars and sensors pick out incoming enemy planes, choppers and UAVs. The entire system is linked while fire is directed using automatically generated location coordinates that radars and sensors provide about incoming planes.  The new purchase will be in addition to the existing orders of procuring MR-SAM of Israeli origin and also the DRDO developed missile systems, Akash. The IAF is procuring 18 missile systems, from Israeli company Rafael at a cost of $ 260 million (Rs 1200 crore). The company will supply the entire lot of its truck mounted ‘Spyder’ systems by August next year.  In the fresh demand, the IAF has not specified the number of missile systems it was looking for, but has indicated its benchmarks to have world class air defence systems - largely deployed for protection of nuclear installations, IAF, Army and Naval bases, sensitive locations and to defend the borders.  One of the key requirements of the IAF is that the missile systems should be accompanied by a multi-function radar that provides for 3-D target information to the commander. This radar should be able to provide early warning and should be able to simultaneously track an incoming object while scanning the air space for fresh incursions. The IAF is looking for systems that will be able to prioritise the threats and allocate a missile fire as per the threat evaluation.  And as per the existing norm the launcher has to be truck mounted. Keeping in mind Indian conditions, the IAF wants the missile to operate at mountain heights of 3,500 meters (approx 12,250 feet), arid deserts and in high temperatures and high humidity.  At present, Indian air defence relies largely on antiquated Soviet-vintage SA-3 Pechora and SA-8 OSA-AK systems.
The urgency  * Antiquated Soviet-vintage missile systems to be phased out  * Suppliers requested to provide bids within 30 days, indicating the urgency










India, China to resume defence drills
Announcement comes before Manmohan Singh’s meeting with President Jintao at BRICS Summit Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 12 India and China are set to resume defence exercises which were put on hold by New Delhi last year in the wake of the stapled visa row between the two countries. This was confirmed by sources in the government today on the eve of a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao on the margins of the BRICS Summit.  Armies of the two countries had conducted hand-to-hand exercises in 2008 in China and 2009 in India. Naval warships of the two countries had also been paying goodwill visits to each other’s ports since 2004. Both Army and naval exchanges were suspended in July last year after China issued stapled visa to Lt Gen BS Jaswal, who was commanding Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir, virtually questioning the state’s accession to India.  Despite protests by New Delhi, China refused to give proper visa to Lt Gen Jaswal, forcing India to cancel the military officer’s visit and suspend defence exchanges with China.  Indian nationals from J&K were being given stapled visas for the last two years but that practice has been quietly stopped by Beijing since Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December last year. India expects a public announcement by China in this regard.  Asked if the stapled visa row was no more a bone of contention between India and China, sources said the two countries were in touch to resolve the issue amicably. “There has been some movement on the stapled visa issue…we can’t say it is off the table…we will have to wait and watch,” they added.  The sources explained that despite the visa row, the two countries had maintained defence contacts in the past one year. In this connection, they drew attention to the regular border flag meetings between local military commanders of the two countries.  Asked to elaborate on the issues that are likely to come up at the meeting between Manmohan Singh and President Hu, the sources said the top leaders of the two countries had been regularly meeting each other and taking stock of bilateral ties. “Political exchanges between the two countries have been good in recent years,” added sources. The sources also recalled that both India and China had abstained from voting on a UN Security Council resolution calling for international intervention in Libya.  On the trade imbalance with China, the sources said this has been a matter of concern for New Delhi. The issue had been discussed by the two countries at the highest level. China had assured India that they would give access to Indian companies in certain areas.
Blowing hot & cold with Beijing      * Stapled visa row had resulted in suspension of military exchanges between two Asian giants     * India was particularly upset with China for denying proper visa to its top Army commander     * However, Beijing quietly stopped the practice of issuing stapled visas to J-K residents after Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December last year     * India, though, expects a public announcement by China in this regard









9 charges drafted against another Lt Gen
Chandigarh, April 12 The Army has drafted nine charges on which Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, former Military Secretary at the Army Headquarters, is expected to be tried by a General Court Martial in the Sukna land scam.  Sources said following the review assessment of trial by Headquarters, Eastern Command, subsequent to recording of summary of evidence, administrative orders for the conduct of the trial were issued a few days ago.  These, along with the draft charges, have been sent to the Army Headquarters for final approval before the GCM’s convening orders, detailing the members of the court and addressing other pertinent issues, are issued. Sources do not rule out the possibility of any changes in the draft charges. If go-ahead is received from the Army Headquarters, sources expect the trial to commence in May.  The charges levelled against Lt Gen Prakash are under Sections 52, 57 and 63 of the Army Act for offences related to property and intent to defraud, making inaccurate or fraudulent statements in official documents and violation of good order and military discipline.  Lt Gen Prakash is the senior-most Army officer to face court martial proceedings. The Army has already tried and convicted two other lieutenant generals, who were junior in status to Pakash, for professional and personal impropriety recently. This includes Lt Gen PK Rath, former GOC 33 Corps, who was also embroiled in the Sukna case. In January, a GCM had held him guilty of three out of seven charges and had awarded him a severe reprimand and a two-year loss of seniority and 15 years’ loss of service for the purpose of pension. The sentence is still awaiting confirmation by the Chief of the Army Staff.  More recently, a GCM held at Jalandhar had sentenced former Director General Supplies and Transport at the Army Headquarters to cashiering and three-year rigorous imprisonment for irregularities in procurement of dry rations.  The Sukna issue blew up in 2008 and Prakash and Rath were among several senior Army officers who allegedly influenced the decision to issue a no-objection certificate to a private builder to construct an educational institution on a 70-acre land adjacent to the Sukna military station in West Bengal. The NoC was issued in violation of norms.  A court of inquiry ordered into the issue by the Army had held Prakash, Rath, Lt Gen RK Halgali, Maj Gen PK Sen among others as blameworthy for their acts of omission and commission.
The Sukna Scam      * Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash’s GCM may begin next month. Lt Gen Prakash is the senior-most Army officer to face court martial proceedings.     * The Army has already tried and convicted two other lieutenant generals, who were junior in status to Pakash, for professional and personal impropriety recently.     * Lt Gen PK Rath, former GOC 33 Corps, was also embroiled in the Sukna case. In January, a GCM had held him guilty of three out of seven charges










Pak and India cannot afford another war: Gilani
Islamabad:  Asserting that Pakistan and India cannot afford another war, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh is a "sensible and sane" person who wants the two countries to resolve their important issues.  Gilani made the remarks during an interaction with senior government officials participating in the National Management Course.  Speaking highly of the Indian Prime Minister's intentions to have good relations with Pakistan, Gilani said Singh had said several times during their meetings that he wanted to do "something really positive" for both countries.  He said Singh, who hailed from Punjab, was highly desirous of resolving important issues, including Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek.
Singh had shown a commitment to improve relations between the South Asian neighbours and said the Kashmir issue can be resolved diplomatically, he said.  Singh had also said several times during their meetings that he wanted to fight the common enemies like poverty, hunger and unemployment, Gilani said.  Gilani noted that he had officially met Singh four times - in Colombo in 2008, in Sharm-el-Sheikh in 2009, in Bhutan in 2010 and at Mohali in India last month.  He said they had also met unofficially on several occasions.  Speaking about the wave of terrorism in Pakistan, Gilani said terrorists were getting their "instructions from a foreign source".









NATO not doing enough in Libya: France
As forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi continue to push the rebels from their positions, cracks seem to be appearing in NATO over military strategy in Libya, with major NATO alliance partner France demanding that the punishing raids should be carried out to finish strongman's tanks and heavy artillery.  NATO is not doing "enough", the French Foreign minister Allen Juppe said, as he clamoured for heavier strikes to destroy heavy weaponry used by Gaddafi's forces in Libya to break the present stalemate on the ground.
"NATO must play its role fully. It wanted to take the lead in operations," Juppe said, adding that Libyan civilians remain at risk.  France, UK and the US under the banner of NATO are leading the drive against pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya.  "It must play its role today which means preventing Gaddafi from using heavy weapons to shell civilian populations," Juppe was quoted as saying by BBC.  Libyan rebels have been pushed back despite air raids by NATO on the forces of Gaddafi.  Meanwhile, Libya's former foreign minister Mussa Kussa, who is in the UK after defecting from Moamer Gaddafi regime, feared that the restive nation could become a "new Somalia".  "I ask everyone, all the parties, to avoid taking Libya into a civil war," the former minister said in a statement issued to the BBC.  "This would lead to so much blood and Libya will be a new Somalia," he said. "We refuse to divide Libya.  "The unity of Libya is essential to any resolution and settlement for Libya," he added.  Meanwhile, the government forces pounded besieged western town of Misurata, which has been the scene of heavy bombardments for more than a month now. The rebels pushed back an advance by Gaddafi's forces into the town.  In the eastern battlefront, where the government forces were rapidly advancing till yesterday, a major NATO strike destroyed 25 tanks on the outskirts of Ajdabiya and Misurata, helping the opposition stem their advance.  While 11 tanks were hit outside Ajdabiya, which the rebels were struggling to hold on, while another 14 were targeted on the outskirts of Misurata.  Earlier, the Benghazi-based council, which is demanding an end to Gaddafi's decades-long rule, said the "road map" set out by a delegation of five African presidents was "outdated", following the deaths and destruction wreaked in the past month since the proposals were first outlined.  "The demand of our people of our people from day one was that Gaddafi must step down," spokesman Mustafa Jabril said.











Why terrorism may be on a decline in Kashmir
Set to retire on June 30, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai said that if militant leadership in Kashmir [ Images ] wants it can join the peace process. But a dialogue is not something that these jihadists are looking at. With declining support from locals the terrorists in Valley may be down but not out, reports Vicky Nanjappa.  The Hizbul Mujahideen [ Images ], the largest guerilla group operating in Kashmir has been vanquished, according to Union Home Secretary G K Pillai. He also said that militancy in Kashmir is on the downslide and India [ Images ] had no issues if some of these militants came forward for peace talks provided they give up violence. Is this a lull before the storm? Or is it the end of the horrific violence, which has been haunting the Valley for decades now?  "Violence has decreased considerably. However, I cannot say that this situation will continue and hence we are keeping a strict vigil. There's no proposal to extend an offer for talks with these militants, but if they shun violence they are welcome to come forward and speak. Giving up arms would be necessary to even to talk to them," Pillai said.  However, the big question is whether the lull in Kashmir is intentional and Pakistan-sponsored militant groups are behind it or whether India's security agencies have finally managed to get the better of them.  Statistics reveal that since 1989 nearly 70,000 people in the Valley have lost their lives because of violence and India will do everything it can to ensure that this number does not increase.    Sources in the Indian intelligence say that the violence has surely come down in the Valley. Also, there has been a great deal of improvement in manning the borders, which has slowed down infiltration. In addition to this, there has also been an overhaul in the terror infrastructure in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, which have put jihadists in Kashmir on the back foot.  However, the biggest problem these terrorists in Kashmir are facing is the lack of support from locals. It's a well-known fact that they were able to operate better when they were backed by locals who often tipped them off about the movement of the Indian troops, which made it easier for terrorists to plan their movement.  However, with over tens of thousands people, mostly civilians, killed over the last 15 years, locals realise they are fighting a losing battle. They realise that it's better to side with the Indian establishment, as this may benefit them in the long run. Many now feel that separatists are only furthering their own cause and very little is being done to help the public.  The IB also points out that it would be too early to say that these terrorist groups have given up their fight. Kashmir, for them is a burning issue, and under the new leadership of Badaruddin Haqqani, one of the sons of Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani the head of the Afghan Taliban [ Images ], the Al Qaeda [ Images ] network may have a new plan in place.    The Qaeda-Haqqani network is splitting into small cells, and according to intelligence inputs, they have formed a strong force to further its activities in the Valley. Hence, it is too early to say the battle is over. The heads of these terror groups feel that their recruitments may see a decline and donations will also be affected if they give up on Kashmir.  Glad that the violence in Kashmir has ceased, India's next move is to start a dialogue with separatists. But will this work in the Centre's favour? Professor S A R Geelani, a lecturer from the Delhi [ Images ] University who was acquitted in the Parliament attack case, says that New Delhi's plan may not work.  "The Centre's proposal appears to be conditional and talks when conditional always fail. The only way to win the battle in Kashmir is to win over the hearts of the people. If they are sincere about resolving the issue then talks should be held with no pre-condition. New Delhi should try and resolve the issue with more sincerity," he said.  India is willing to go all out to resolve the crisis, say government sources. Locals are now eager to find out if the scheme to grant amnesty to Kashmiri militants in Pakistan who want to surrender and return home will take off soon.  There are nearly 4,000 Kashmiris who have crossed over to Pakistan and are now expressing their willingness to return. If the amnesty package works and if these militants are allowed to return home, the government is bound to earn some brownie points. But, even during such an exercise a strict vigil should be maintained to ensure that anti-social elements do not look at this as an easy passage to India.










Society sits on army chiefs' resignations
MUMBAI: Since the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam came to light, four senior retired defence officers gave up their flats in the Colaba building. The society, however, is yet to accept their resignations and refund their money.  Major General R K Hooda (retd) who had held the post of General Officer Commanding of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, and three retired chiefs in the Armed Forces-former Navy chief Admiral Madhavendra Singh and the two Army chiefs Generals Deepak Kapoor and NC Vij Hooda-have resigned as members of the housing society. Though they refused to comment on the issue, TOI has learnt that they've all paid a significant amount of money towards their flats.  Singh has allegedly paid around Rs 81 lakh, after taking a loan of Rs 70 lakh from the State Bank of India, according to Income-Tax documents. Vij had paid around Rs 67 lakh towards his flat, while Kapoor purchased his apartment through a combination of a home loan of over Rs 20 lakh, personal savings and the money earned from the sale of a property he owned in his hometown.  Society members who did not wish to be named said it would be a while before they discuss the four withdrawals. One member said: "We are awaiting an order from either the court or the commission set up by the state government about the occupation certificate, before which we cannot take a decision on the matter. We are angry with the chiefs for deserting us when we required them to defend us and are sure to revoke their membership even if they want to withdraw their resignation."  At the time the Adarsh scam came to light, Singh, speaking for himself and on behalf of the two army chiefs, had said, "At no stage we were aware that these flats were meant for Kargil war widows as claimed by certain sections of the media and if that be so, then we have absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in returning these flats to the authorities concerned.''  R K Hooda had submitted his resignation from the society after Army Chief V K Singh ordered an inquiry into his role in the Adarsh scam. Though the inquiry found Hooda "not blameworthy'', he was not made lieutenant general. He has also been issued a show-cause notice for taking a loan without the army's permission.










MIGHT IS ALWAYS RIGHT
- The US knows how to arm-twist India into giving it concessions Diplomacy K.p. Nayar  Friendship on the wane?  Hats off to the Americans! Those guys in Washington know how to exercise power, just as our Congress politicians of the Indira Gandhi brand used to know once.  When President Barack Obama’s dreaded internal revenue service chose Republic Day this year to make an example of Vaibhav Dahake, an Indian American, by sending his savings to banks back home, and accusing him in a New Jersey court of conspiracy of trying to “defraud” the United States of America by the use of undeclared accounts in India, some of those who are good at reading political tea leaves suspected that this was a signal.  A few days ago, the signal turned into a threat. The threat is serious enough and has the potential to rock India-US relations on a scale Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger did when they sent the US Seventh Fleet into the Bay of Bengal during the creation of Bangladesh.  Four decades ago, a crude display of military might was the weapon to try and bring India in line. Today, when sophisticated financial instruments have as much manipulative power as naval fleets and air force squadrons, Washington is using the economy to make New Delhi toe its line.  The threat by the Obama administration demands that HSBC Bank should provide the IRS authorities with a list of Americans of Indian origin, who have savings of more than $10,000 in their branches in India under various schemes for attracting foreign currency and non-resident external rupee deposits which have been in operation for more than three decades now without any hitch.  Although HSBC is the largest European bank in terms of assets — because it is the bank of choice for the enormously wealthy Hong Kong tycoons and draws on mainland Chinese business from there — it has chosen to crawl when asked to bend, to borrow L.K. Advani’s famous description of sections of the Indian media during the Emergency. The bank has hastily closed its offices in New York and in Fremont, California, the two branches which exclusively deal with clients of Indian origin and through which Dahake dealt with HSBC to service his accounts in India.  As soon as Dahake pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiring with five HSBC bankers to hide his Indian accounts from US tax authorities, an HSBC spokeswoman, Juanita Gutierrez, told reporters in an email: “HSBC does not condone tax evasion and is cooperating with law enforcement in this matter.”  A California judge has now given permission to the IRS to serve a summons on HSBC for a list of Americans of Indian origin who have accounts in India which are perfectly legal under the Indian law but have a shade of opaqueness under the US tax laws. There is no doubt about what this will lead to.  Switzerland’s biggest bank, UBS, last year gave Americans a list of its top 4,450 American clients, lifting the historically prized veil on Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws. HSBC is unlikely to act any differently to protect the secrecy of its Indian American clients and thus risk its ability to do business in the US.  But HSBC is only the tip of the iceberg. It is actually a warning. Next in line will be the State Bank of India, the Bank of India and the Bank of Baroda, all of which have offices in New York that deal primarily with the inflow of remittances from Indian Americans.  Wealthy clients of UBS left the bank in thousands as the threat of legal action by the IRS loomed until the Swiss parliament agreed to a treaty to give the Americans details of clients whom the US government insists were tax dodgers.  India is not Switzerland, at least not yet, and is by no means a tax haven for wealthy Americans seeking to dodge US taxes. So, by choosing to make an example of Dahake and in threatening HSBC, the Americans are sending a political message that has shades of Mario Puzo’s “Godfather” tactics.  It is an open secret in both Washington and New Delhi that India-US relations are lately not going too well, notwithstanding protestations of deep and abiding friendship on both sides and a continuing flurry of bilateral engagements. Unguided by political directives and on their own, Indian officials in New Delhi have willingly genuflected before diplomats from the US embassy in Chanakyapuri as the WikiLeaks cables now reveal.  While the obeisance of Indian civil servants may have made US diplomats in New Delhi feel good, that is really not what Washington seeks. The Americans need a bigger slice of the expanding Indian economic pie in terms of import orders, market access and, most of all, defence purchases by India’s army, navy and air force. They also need orders from India for nuclear plants on their terms and they need them quickly: a big order from India which will offset the damage to the nuclear industry worldwide as a result of Japan’s post-tsunami travails at a time when America’s nuclear manufacturers were just about recovering from a long winter of campaigns against nuclear power not only in the US but also abroad.  But such orders have not been forthcoming: they are, as defence and nuclear imports show, clearly going in favour of Russia, France and Israel. That is not what the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations invested their political capital in India for. The Dahake case and the notice to HSBC represent a Shylockian demand to India to pay its dues to Washington for what the Americans see as the extraordinary lengths they went to in order to end India’s long nuclear winter and for having supported New Delhi on a score of other issues under the terms of their bonhomie that turned a page, starting with the Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbot talks on India-US strategic cooperation 12 years ago.  The Americans know that turning the screws on non-resident Indian accounts in Indian banks is a pressure tactic that the Manmohan Singh government will not be able to stand up to. India now ranks at the top of countries which have impressive foreign exchange reserves, but those reserves will significantly evaporate if American actions to curb alleged tax dodging by their citizens of Indian origin were to force Indian Americans to pull out their deposits from such accounts which constitute the bulk of India’s foreign currency holdings. The same applies to NRI stock holdings in Indian companies. In other words, the Obama administration has the wherewithal to turn India’s impressive foreign exchange reserves into hot money that can evaporate and push India back to the 1990s, when it virtually begged for foreign currency.  But it need not come to that. Indeed, it will not, given the nature and composition of the Indian power structure. The Americans have known for some time now that Indian Americans have considerable influence on their system. But the way NRIs in America were mobilized — first by the National Democratic Alliance government to thwart sanctions against the 1998 nuclear tests and then by the United Progressive Alliance government in support of the nuclear deal — has convinced Washington that NRI power is a double-edged sword: that it is a force which can be used to influence New Delhi as well.  Powerful Indian politicians and senior civil servants have their children, siblings and a variety of other friends and relatives in the US who have NRI accounts in Indian banks which are now under the scanner of Obama’s IRS.  Those who hold the levers of power in New Delhi and state capitals are not going to stand by and let the threat of prosecution — as in Dahake’s case — hang over the heads of their family members or cause them to lose sleep. That is how the Americans will secure orders for at least a significant share of the 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft, the biggest military aviation deal in history. That is how the Americans will secure other import orders and significant concessions from New Delhi.  If these orders and concessions are forthcoming, the threat to India’s foreign exchange reserves through withdrawal of hot money through the prosecution of NRIs in US courts will evaporate. In any case, the Americans will have proved that they can decisively influence the making or unmaking of India despite the illusion in New Delhi and Mumbai that India is a rising global power.










India needs to review forces
Ashok K Mehta  Blindly acquiring military hardware is not going to help as the nature of threat has changed radically. A Strategic Defence and Security Review would help.  Done last year, Britain’s first comprehensive Strategic Defence and Security Review since 1998 is far-reaching. It is bold, honest and innovative, entailing analytical risks to extricate the armed forces from the Cold War mindset to face the new ground realities, including cuts amounting to 38 billion pounds over 10 years. It informs of the limits of British power — of what it can do alone and in partnership with allies. Pax Britannica no longer rules the waves. It is high time India carried out a similar full-scale review involving all departments of Government to produce both a macro and micro picture of the security situation.  Paraphrased, Britain’s national security strategy which flows from its Strategic Defence and Security Review has put the protection of people, territory and ways of life from major risk uppermost, followed by shaping a stable environment to reduce threats to national interest at home and abroad by tackling potential risks at source.  The high priority risks identified for the next five years are terrorism, including the use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons; cyber attacks by other states; major accidents or related hazards; and, international military crises like the one in Libya. Britain has renewed its commitment to success in Afghanistan with a condition-based withdrawal commencing in 2015.  The most striking feature of the Strategic Defence and Security Review is the admission that Britain will no longer be able to undertake combat missions on the scale of Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Against the 45,000 troops deployed in Iraq in 2003, it will now be able to field only up to 30,000 troops for limited periods and with sufficient notice. For protracted operations over several years, the maximum deployable force will be 6,500 as against 10,000 currently committed in Afghanistan. These are significant shrinkages in combat capability, forcing joint or collective defence.  The shift from high-end conflict to low-intensity operations is removing the Cold War mentality of tank-on-tank battles with heavy artillery in the Fulda gap to counter terrorism in Afghanistan.  The strategic parameters are also changing. Although the Trident submarine fleet will remain till 2016 (when its retention will be reviewed) to maintain an independent nuclear deterrent, a joint nuclear capability with France is being considered. The strategic dialogue with France extends to creating joint and integrated defence capabilities like combined joint expeditionary force, maritime task force, joint military doctrine, joint acquisition of military equipment, etc.  The decision to retain one of the two new aircraft carriers with option to field the second has been made in recognition of the salience of stand-off air power. The existing Harrier fleet has been retired as no aircraft carrier will be operational till 2016. Even then the carrier-based version of the joint strike fighter will become available only in 2020. While British forces will remain deployed in Afghanistan till 2016 at the very least, in the interregnum, compatible allied aircraft could take the deck of the British aircraft carrier. These are big calculated risks which the Government of Britain is preparing to take.  By 2015 the Army is to be reduced by 7,000 to 95,000 troops with cuts in tanks and artillery. Manpower reduction will be compensated by Special Forces and Territorial Army who are doing exceptional work in Afghanistan. Similarly the Royal Navy will be down by 5,000 to 30,000 sailors, main losses being in the frigate fleet and Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft. The RAF will be downsized by 5,000 personnel to 33,000 and many aircraft will be retired. The Government has come to the conclusion that future air wars are unlikely and the RAF will have its fast jet fleet based on two advanced aircraft: Typhoon and Tornado.  Britain’s Future Force 2020 will have two aircraft carrier, five multi-role brigades and an adequate Air Force backed by a minimum effective nuclear deterrence. The non-military pillars of security address conflict prevention through building stability overseas, counter-terrorism and counter radicalisation, creation of a cyber crime strategy, a national crime agency, a maritime information centre and a special security policy. Long-term cooperation with France is the cornerstone of bridging the capability gap while maintaining its role in the European Union and allied security architectures like Nato.  Viewed strictly from the military prism and set against the future character of conflict, the Strategic Defence and Security Review has initiated a total transformation of the armed forces. The emphasis is on precision fire rather than suppression and to combat specific challenges like improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan. The Strategic Defence and Security Review virtually rules out conventional war. including air battles. It believes in partnership of shared capabilities, including a minimum effective nuclear deterrent. Transformation entails risks of capability voids which are to be filled by allies.  The Strategic Defence and Security Review’s impact on Britain’s defence industry is significant. It earns 15 billion pounds annually and employs 355,000 people. Already 7,000 jobs have been lost through suspension and cancellation of programmes, including a 14-billion-pound centralised training academy in Wales.  Accompanying transformation will be the turbulence among combatants made redundant like pilots from Harrier and Nimrod fleets and foot soldiers returning from Afghanistan in a severely recession-hit British economy. Retooling its military has had other consequences. Besides rebasing of 20,000 troops from Germany, a task force set up to scout for forgotten imperial outposts across the world on the payroll of Britain’s Ministry of Defence has traced 20,000 British citizens in locations as exotic as yacht clubs in the US.  Britain ordered its first major strategic reconfiguration in the 1960s in what was called the East of Suez drawdown and political vacuum. The current Strategic Defence and Security Review cuts the cloth according to Britain’s size and stature as a middle level power.  India should draw lessons, the most obvious being ordering a whole Government review of existing capabilities, threats and opportunities and future forces to cope with the challenges. The Indian Army is engaged in an ad hoc transformation which is ‘uplinked’ with the other two services. The Indian Air Force and Navy’s numbers of aircraft and ships have gone haywire as their long-term re-equipment plans never materialised due to bad planning and funding support. Consequently India is already the world’s biggest importer of weapons and will spend $ 100 billion in the next decade.  Britain has cut costs and capability through a defined review mechanism. India is to boost military capabilities which must derive from getting the character of future conflict right without dissipating resources on the fashionable ‘full spectrum of war’. Identifying critical missions and affordable risks must come from political foresight, good generalship and deft diplomacy. We must not duck the review at any rate.










The man on horseback
During the controversy over the joint parliamentary committee in Parliament, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee stated on February 21, 2011, “Parliament cannot be mortgaged to the conceding of a demand”, warning that if “hatred for the parliamentary institution was generated, it will lead to the rise of extra-constitutional authority as in the neighbouring country in 1958 when martial law was declared”. It is indeed surprising that 63 years after Independence, and in spite of the Indian Army’s proven apolitical record, a senior and experienced political leader should fear a military coup. No responsible leader in the West would express such a fear, even though the UK had a Cromwell and France a Napoleon.  Supremacy of the civil over the military is an imperative for a functioning democracy. Even in colonial India, the Viceroy, representing civil authority, was supreme. The Curzon-Kitchener dispute did not question this. It was related to organisational matters and functioning procedures. Till Independence, the Commander-in-Chief in India also held political authority in his additional capacity as War Member and senior member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council. Thus, in a way, he was both the defence minister and the deputy prime minister. The defence secretary was his subordinate.  Till 1920 this appointment was held by a major general, but thereafter a civil servant started holding this office. Before Independence, the role of the defence secretary was limited to issuing government letters, as worked out by military officers with military finance, answering questions in the Central Legislative Assembly, interacting with other ministries and provincial governments, and looking after defence lands. He hardly had any say in decisions pertaining to military matters. After Independence, a radical change took place. The defence minister now controlled the defence services and the defence secretary, as his staff officer, became a key functionary.  The civil service lobby tried to get a higher protocol status for the defence secretary than the Service Chiefs on the analogy of other ministries in which departmental heads are subordinated to their concerned secretary. Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, torpedoed this and the Service Chiefs retained their higher status vis-à-vis the defence secretary. This continues to be so but the latter has acquired a higher functional status. Service Chiefs have to put up papers to the defence minister through the defence secretary. In 1962, when the appointment of Cabinet Secretary was introduced, a higher protocol status was accorded to him than the Service Chiefs. As secretary-general in the 1940, Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai did not have this high status.  When General Manekshaw was promoted Field Marshal, a unique ceremonial rank, his protocol status was kept lower than the Cabinet Secretary. No wonder the funeral of the military leader, under whom we achieved the greatest victory of Indian arms of the last millenniym, was a tame affair. The Government of India was represented by a minister of state at his funeral. The funeral of the Duke of Wellington was not only attended by the head of state and head of government of his country, but of several European countries.  The colonial pattern of administration, in which the generalist civil servant exercises authority over the specialist professional, obtains in ministries of Government of India like health, home, transport, agriculture and so on.  * Lt. Gen. S.K. Sinha, a retired lieutenant-general, was Vice-Chief of Army Staff and has served as governor of Assam and Jammu and Kashmir










'Defence management vital to ensure security'
HYDERABAD: “It is now widely acknowledged there is more to security than purely military factors. The definition of security today encompasses political, economic, environmental, social and human aspects among other standards,” said Shekhar Dutt, governor of Chhattisgarh.  Speaking at the valedictory function for the Higher Defence management course of the College of Defence Management in Secunderabad on Monday, the governor said, “Defence management has been the mother of all management practices till date. The environment for India’s development has never been as favourable. But increased resources can flow in only if safety and security are ensured.”  The HMDC course trains selected officers of three services in concepts and techniques required for effective and efficient management in the armed forces. 83 Army, 13 Naval, 25 Air Force officers, two civilian officers of the NSO cadre and five officers from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka were awarded the Masters of Management Studies by the Osmania University.  Stressing on importance of teamwork, the governor said it is a concern to retain correct priority and focus in a democracy. “We cannot afford to tackle particularities and lose sight of the larger picture. In my opinion, India has always been guided by ‘strategic restraint’ and it has served us well,” Dutt said. Highlighting that future assignments of these officers would bring them closer to higher decision-making processes, the governor reminded there is a need to consider long-term leverages of soft power in comparison to short-term advantages of hard power.  “Wherever in management, interactivity at all levels encourages an even flow. Synergy is a product of all of this. To achieve this, personal egos and protocols related to positions and appointments need to be breached. As long as there is conviction about a common goal, I have noticed turf issues get resolved quickly,” he added.  Later, awards for performance in categories like project studies, dissertation, case study, most promising foreign officer and COAS integration trophy were given to officers.











Ex-servicemen in another combat
BANGALORE: Defence personnel dedicate themselves to the country. Day and night, they guard the borders and save the people from enemies. They are recognised by the government and the society for their great contribution to the country with awards and medals.  However, once they retire, they face many problems. Undeterred, these retired officials continue to fight like they did on the battlefield. They have, so far, received nothing more than empty assurances.  "We have been fighting for One Rank One Pension," stated Wing Commander (Retd) Ashok Gupta. Terming the decision of the government to deny them their right as the "funniest thing in the world", he said the entire exservicemen fraternity had voiced its concerns but the government continued to ignore them.  One Rank One Pension  Explaining the concept, he said a Colonel-rank officer in the army today gets more pension than that of a Major General who retired 1520 years ago.  "We in the army follow hierarchy, but if a junior ranked official gets more pension, then what is the use of a higher rank?" he questioned.  Adding to this, Lt Col Satwant Singh, Secretary of the Delhibased Retired Defence Officers Association (RDOA), expressed his displeasure and said this trend was funny at best and preposterous at worst.  Informing that retired officers from across the nation have even surrendered their gallantry medals, he said: "Defence personnel have put their lives on the line to earn those medals, which acknowledge and appreciate their work. But if the same people are willing to give away this, it only shows how pained they feel about being treated this way."  Grant of Rank Pay  On June 10, 2010, Major General Mrinal Suman wrote: "The growing adversarial relationship between the government and exservicemen is a matter of grave concern. For the past few years, an impression is gaining ground that the government is becoming increasingly intolerant and biased against exservicemen and is treating them unfairly. The military is an instrument of the government. How can a government let itself be seen as an adversary of its own constituent?" He added: "They do not seek favour or pity but ask for compassion, understanding and equity. They want their government to acknowledge the severity of their service conditions and their contribution to nation safeguarding." Lt Col Satwant Singh stated that the fourth Pay Commission had granted Rank Pay in addition to basic pay for officers up to the rank of Brigadier.  However, he added, while fixing pay in the integrated scale, an amount equal to the Rank Pay was deceitfully deducted by the bureaucrats from the total dues, thereby causing heavy financial loss to the officers.  "It was an act of betrayal of the trust of the armed forces. No other country in the world is known to have conspired and connived so blatantly to deprive its own soldiers of their rightful dues," Major General Suman added.  Systematically deprived  Lt Col Savant compared an army man's retirement plan with a civilian's. He said civilians can work until their retirement age and hence can avail the full pension. "A Lt Colonel and Colonel retire at 54, Brigadier at 56, Major General at 58 and so on", he said and added: "That's the system which forces them to retire and hence, they would not be able to get the full pension."  Shortchanged  He said Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and other such services had the provision of promotions that would guarantee them a minimum post of secretary in their service.  "It takes an officer more than 33 years of service to become a Major General in the Army, which is equivalent to that of Joint Secretary cadre. But any IAS officer will reach a minimum of secretary cadre within 1622 years of service," he said and added that only five per cent of officers in the Army would reach this position as compared with their civilian counterparts.  Disability pension  "We are not even given disability pension on the same lines as the civilian services," Lt Col Savant added.  Even the Supreme Court has directed the government to ensure that the same services are given to defence personnel but it is yet to be implemented by the government.  "There are over 4,000 cases pending in the Armed Forces Tribunal," he said and added that ex-servicemen were still being made to run from pillar to post to claim their rights.  Big steps  These brave soldiers were given some respite when Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrashekar gave a presentation on 'One Rank One Pension' to the Petitions Committee of the Parliament.  The Petition Committee will now meet to discuss the petition and issue advertisements in leading newspapers to seek comments and suggestions from the public.  The Committee will then consider all letters and suggestions and take the matter for consideration.




No comments:

Post a Comment

 

Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal