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Saturday, 11 June 2011

From Today's Papers - 11 Jun 2011

Naxals strike again, kill 10 securitymen in Dantewada
Raipur, June 10 In the second brazen attack in as many days, Naxals today blew up an anti-landmine vehicle killing 10 security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.  The anti-landmine vehicle of the security forces was approaching a bridge near Gatan village when the Naxals triggered a blast and opened indiscriminate fire on them, the police said.  Seven special police officers (SPO) and three police jawans were killed when their vehicle was tossed in the air by the powerful blast, they said.  Three of the injured have been rushed to a hospital in Bastar. The Naxals had yesterday opened indiscriminate fire near the camp of Chhattisgarh Armed Force in Naraynpur district, killing four jawans and leaving another injured.  Giving details of the incident, senior police officials said two police vehicles from police headquarters were on their to the Katikalyan area of the district. As soon as they reached a bridge near Gatan village, the Naxals triggered a powerful landmine blast damaging the anti-landmine vehicle and opened indiscriminate fire at the police personnel.  The police force retaliated following which the Naxals fled from the spot.  “The condition of the four injured jawans is critical,” they said. A police team has been rushed to the spot and another is scouting the jungles of the area to trace the Naxals.  The attack comes at a time when the Naxals are observing “Janpituri” week when they hold celebrations and also carry out attacks. The week is celebrated in the second week of June every year.  Dantewada is a Naxal hotbed. Two years back, the Naxals had killed 76 CRPF jawans in an attack in the district. Naxals have killed 30 police personnel in the state this year. — PTI

After 13 yrs, AFT quashes court martial proceedings
Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, June 10 After 13 years of legal wrangles and time in prison, the Armed Forces Tribunal has awarded him compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the damage to his career and unwarranted imprisonment due to an “unfair” trial by a summary court martial. The court martial had tried jawan Ravindra Kumar on three charges pertaining to theft of official documents, handing over photocopies of documents to a civilian and making false accusations against an officer. He was awarded six months rigorous imprisonment and dismissed from service in 1998.  Quashing the court martial proceedings that “gave the impression of a mock trial”, the Tribunal ordered that he be notionally reinstated in service and paid all his salary arrears and benefits along with 8 per cent interest. Since Ravindra Kumar’s stipulated term of engagement of 24 years had expired in 1999, he cannot be actually re-instated in service at this stage, but would get his dues till that period.  Ravindra Kumar had contended that it was wrongly recorded during trial proceedings that he had pleaded guilty and that his signatures were not obtained against such a pleading. Further, there was no mandatory certificate from his Commanding Officer testifying that he was explained the implication of the charges and his plea on them.

The Sino-Pak nexus Learn from China’s strategic thinking
by Gen (retd) V. P. Malik  It is often stated that at the strategic level, one requires a long memory and a longer foresight and vision. There are many people in India who have a tendency to overlook the Sino-Pak strategic nexus in the dialogue over India’s boundaries with these two countries. Boundaries are a manifestation of national identity. Disputed boundaries are often trip-wires of war.   It is, therefore, necessary to place this issue in its historical and futuristic perspective.  Soon after its Independence in 1949, China set out consolidating its historic frontiers and placing administrative authority and military boots on the ground in Tibet and Xinjiang. India did not do so and rues till date this Himalayan blunder in strategic terms. India’s northern boundary from the Sino-India-Afghanistan tri-junction to the Sino-India-Nepal tri-junction on the maps remained marked with the legend ‘Boundary Undefined’ till 1954. No serious attempt was made to establish administrative authority or place military boots on the ground in this area.  On July 1, 1954, Nehru ordered, “All old maps dealing with the frontier should be… withdrawn… new maps should not state there is any undemarcated territory… this frontier should be considered a firm and definite one which is not open to discussion with anybody.” By then, China had placed its military boots in Tibet and Aksai Chin and started the construction of a strategic road connecting Tibet to Xinjiang (China National Highway 219). Construction of this strategic road, started in 1951 but not noticed by India till 1955, was completed in 1957. It was seen in the Chinese maps published in 1958.  Nehru tried to justify the loss of Aksai Chin by calling it ‘a desolate area where not a blade of grass grows’. Nevertheless, it became one of the triggers for the Sino-Indian war of 1962.  Soon after the war, China began Xinjiang boundary negotiations with Pakistan. This was a period when both China and Pakistan were upset over the post 1962 war US military assistance to India. They signed the Sino-Pakistan Border Agreement in 1963 in which Pakistan ceded Shaqsgam Valley of the Northern Areas (J&K territory, under occupation of Pakistan) to China. This agreement described the eastern termination of the Sino-Pakistan boundary at Karakoram Pass. Pakistan promptly delineated NJ 9842 on the Soltoro Range towards the North East to Karakoram Pass, ignoring “thence north to the glaciers” statement of the 1948 Karachi Agreement between India and Pakistan. The result: Karakoram Pass, till then on the boundary between India and China, now had a third party access and claimant.  China maintained a studied silence over the Pakistani cartographic manipulation. It continued to show the area north of Karakoram Pass as being under China. Meanwhile, Pakistan and China started building the Karakoram Highway, linking Xinjiang to Pakistan through the northern areas.  Pakistan’s cartographic manipulation was followed up in international mountaineering journals and Western atlases. It started sending civil and military mountaineering expeditions to the mountain peaks and glaciers in this area.  It would be noted that the Chinese were willing to negotiate and settle the boundary issue of J&K (west of Karakoram Pass) with Pakistan. But they have refused to discuss that boundary with India on the ground of its being ‘disputed’. That ‘dispute’ did not come in the way of their negotiations with Pakistan.  In April 1984, India reacted to these developments and intelligence reports about Pakistan Army plans to deploy troops in the Siachen glacier area by occupying the Soltoro Ridge (now called the Actual Ground Position Line or AGPL) to secure the glacier and the territory to its east. This deployment (a) dominates Pakistani positions in the valley west of Soltoro Ridge (b) blocks infiltration possibilities across the Soltoro Ridge passes into Ladakh (c) prevents Pakistani military adventurism in Turtuk and areas to its south. Its northernmost position at Indira Col overlooks the Shaqsgam Valley, illegally ceded by Pakistan to China, and denies Pakistani access to Karakoram Pass and beyond that to Aksai Chin.  In 1987, China and Pakistan signed the protocol to formalise the demarcation of their boundary. Its termination at Karakoram Pass and Pakistani recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Aksai Chin clearly indicated an understanding between them. In the late 1980s, China started assisting Pakistan on the development of nuclear weapons, long-range missiles and in large-scale sale of conventional weapons and equipment.  In 1997, China agreed to send its military commander opposite Ladakh to meet his India counterpart in Leh as a confidence-building measure. Near the date, it was proposed that the meeting be held in New Delhi instead of Leh. It had to be called off. After the Kargil war, military attaches from all countries except Pakistan were invited for a conducted tour of the battle zone. The Chinese attaché declined that invitation.  Three years ago, China started issuing “stapled visas” to visitors from J&K, thus bringing into question its status as part of India. It refused a visa to the GOC-in-C, Northern Command, who was to make an official visit to China as a part of ongoing military-level exchanges. It has now increased its civil and military presence in the northern areas, purportedly to improve infrastructure there. Among the infrastructure reconstruction projects to be given priority are those related to the repair and upgradation of the Karakoram Highway, which was damaged in 2009. China also plans to construct railway tracks and oil pipelines from Kashgar in Xinjiang to Gwadar port in Pakistan.  In December 2010, while addressing a joint session of the Pakistan parliament, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao stated: “To cement and advance the all-weather strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Pakistan is our common strategic choice…The two neighbouring countries are brothers forever. China-Pakistan friendship is full of vigour and vitality, like a lush tree with deep roots and thick foliage. China-Pakistan relationship is strong and solid, like a rock standing firm despite the passage of time.”  Recently, India and Pakistan resumed talks over the Siachen glacier issue. As in the past, Pakistan refuses to authenticate the AGPL and the existing troops’ positions and demands the Indian troops’ withdrawal to the pre-1972 position i.e. to the east of the line joining NJ 9842 and Karakoram Pass. Pakistan had formally authenticated the line of control in 1949 and 1972 but has consistently refused this position. The strategic consequences of a deal without such a formal authentication are obvious. Besides, it will re-introduce China into the end game because of its illegal control over the Shaqsgam Valley.  Without formal authentication of the AGPL, how does one detect any future encroachment into this area? It must be stated categorically that no amount of existing technology can have fool-proof surveillance and capability to detect small-scale infiltration, which is sufficient to hold and defend a tactical feature in this terrain. Can India afford to forego the strategic significance of the Soltoro position due to the financial cost-benefit ratio analyses? Or because not a blade of grass grows in the area? (Then why put up the Indian flag at Gangotri in South Pole?) Can India trust Pakistan to the extent of foregoing formal authentication of the AGPL after what Gen Pervez Musharraf did across the formally delineated LoC in Kargil? Our negotiators must keep all these points in mind in their discussions with Pakistani counterparts.  In his latest book On China, Henry Kissinger states that China’s strategy generally exhibits three characteristics: meticulous analysis of long-term trends, careful study of tactical options and detached exploration of operational decisions”. He describes the Chinese style of dealing with strategic decisions as “thorough analysis, careful preparations, attention to psychological and political factors, quest for surprise, and rapid conclusion.” There is much that our political leaders and officials can learn from China’s strategic thinking.

Govt asks forces to open more doors for women
NEW DELHI: The government has directed the armed forces to examine granting permanent commission (PC) to women officers in additional streams other than the legal and education wings they are already eligible for.  Defence minister A K Antony on Friday said he had asked the three Service chiefs, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, Admiral Nirmal Verma and General V K Singh, in a recent meeting to "open their services more" for women officers.  "Now, they are processing the possibility of opening more streams in Army, Navy and IAF for lady officers. So, the momentum will gather in the years to come," he said.  Speaking at a function to flag in the IAF team of women officers and other personnel, which has returned after successfully climbing the 8,848-metre Mt Everest, Antony hoped the "historic feat and achievement" would be yet another step in giving "more representation to women in more streams" of our armed forces.  Women officers have been serving in the armed forces in wings like legal, education, engineering, ordnance, intelligence, signals, air traffic control and the like since the early-1990s but could serve only as short-service commission officers for a maximum of 14 years.  In 2009, after a lot of struggle, the government decided to give PC to women officers but only in the legal and education branches, as also the 'naval constructor' department.  In line with this, women being inducted into the armed forces from the 2009 batch onwards will be given the option, a year or two before they complete 10 years in these wings, to opt for PC.  As of now, women constitute barely 2.5% to 6% of the officer cadre in the predominantly male environs of the armed forces. They are, of course, are not allowed to serve in combat arms like infantry, artillery or armoured corps, nor serve on board operational warships or fly fighter jets. Incidentally, IAF has over 50 woman helicopter and transport aircraft pilots.  The military brass have long contended that granting PC to women officers across the board is not feasible due to "operational, practical and cultural problems". The legal and education wings, incidentally, do not involve command of men or battalions.

Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into wrong hands a worry: Antony
India is worried over the threat of Pakistan's Pakistan nuclear weapons falling into the hands of militants and terrorists, but otherwise it is confident that it is prepared as Islamabad strengthens its nuclear arsenal.  This was stated by Defence Minister A.K. Antony during an interaction with journalists at a function to honour the Indian Air Force team that successfully climbed Mount Everest.  “Our only worry about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is that there is always a danger and threat of [the weapons] going into the hands of militants and terrorists,” he said.  The Minister was responding to questions related to recent reports from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute that Pakistan had increased its nuclear weapons stockpile from 70- 90 to 90-110 warheads in the last year.  Claiming that his Ministry was aware that Pakistan was strengthening its arsenal, Mr. Antony said the situation was being monitored. “We are also taking care of it. We are not unduly worried because we are also capable of meeting any threat…but the danger of [such weapons] going into the hands of terrorists [is a] cause [for] worry to us.”  While the issue has always been a cause for concern in the West, especially in the United States, anxiety levels had increased all around after the terror attack on Pakistan's naval base in Karachi last month.  Asked about the acquittal of Tahawwur Hussain Rana by a U.S. court in the Mumbai terror attack case, the Minister did not offer any direct comment. He, however, reiterated that given the security scenario in India's neighbourhood, the armed forces remained vigilant round-the-clock. “They are closely monitoring everything and are very vigilant.”  Mr. Antony said the process of opening up the armed forces to women was gathering momentum.  “Two months ago, at a meeting of Service chiefs, I told them now you have to open up more. So now they are processing the possibilities of opening up more streams in the three Services for lady officers. So the momentum will gather in the years to come…things are moving.”

Army has no record of Adarsh plot: Defence estates officer
Military Land Records do not have proof in the form of land records to assert the ministry of defence’s claim on Adarsh land, defence estates officer Gita Kashyap admitted before the Adarsh inquiry commission, on Friday. Kashyap said this on the last day of her deposition. Kashyap was cross-examined by state government counsel Anil Sakhare.  Sakhare, during his cross-examination, presented letters written by MoD officials asserting the state government’s ownership of Adarsh land. Kashyap, on May 23, had said the documents with her stated that the land on which the Adarsh building stood belonged to the Maharashtra government.  The defence estates officer is in charge of all defence land in places under his/her jurisdiction. The officer’s functions include management of all lands belonging to the estates department, maintaining land records, acquiring land and buildings for the use of the defence ministry and handling legal cases arising on account of land acquisition.  Kashyap said there were no records to show the land actually belonged to the defence ministry.  Kashyap had, however, claimed on June 8 that the government of India’s survey plan of 1957 shows the plot was in the Army’s possession.  Sakhre presented internal letters written by military officials showing the Maharashtra government as the title-holder of the land.  In response, Kashyap claimed land records with her did not show the Army’s ownership of the land.  Meanwhile, former chief minister Ashok Chavan who was to submit an affidavit before the commission has asked for more time to draft his reply.  The commission will now hear the deposition of SS Jog on Monday. Jog was the former administrative staff officer to the general officer-in-command (GOC) of the state army headquarters.

When will China become a global superpower?
(CNN) -- China is now synonymous with the term "emerging" superpower -- almost every reference to the country makes some mention of its future global prowess, both economic and military.  But while few question China's rise and its existing might, when will we be able to drop the "emerging" tag and simply refer to the country as a superpower -- much like the U.S. is perceived today?  Already a significant regional power in Asia -- only India and Japan offer any kind of credible competition -- China is already increasing its global influence with its economic policies in Africa, Latin America and Europe, according to analysts.  But many experts believe that for a country to become a true global power, it needs both unrivalled economic and military dominance.  Lawrence Saez, senior lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies, in London, says: "When China decides to take over Taiwan, that is when it will be a superpower. Unquestionably that will be the day."  China regards Taiwan as part of its territory. It has vowed to use force against the island if it ever formally sought independence.  "The tipping point is military, to have the ability to threaten your neighbors, threaten military action without the threat of challenge. China knows it would lose a war with the U.S. today," adds Saez, who thinks China will overtake the U.S. as a military superpower within the next 20 years.
Alexander Neill, senior Asia research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a London-based thinktank, says: "When it can truly challenge the U.S. (militarily), that is the day it will become a global superpower... a military with global reach, the ability to deploy around the world and defend its interests."  China's top military leaders have denied their country is seeking to become a military superpower; in early May Gen. Chen Bingde said America's armed forces remained far more advanced than China's. China has no intention to match U.S. military power, he said.  Just this week the Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie said: "To judge whether a country is a threat to world peace the key is not to look at how strong its economy or military is, but the policy it pursues."  However, many experts don't take such statements at face value, pointing to a rapidly growing defense budget and advanced defense projects.  China officially spent about $80 billion on its defense in 2010 -- but unofficially others put it much higher. The U.S. Defense Department estimates China's military spending at closer to $150 billion per annum and escalating. The U.S. spent $729 billion on defense in 2010.  This week the head of China's General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is reported by the Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily to have confirmed that China's first aircraft carrier is under construction.  The carrier is 300 meters (990 feet) in length and recent satellite photographs taken by Google Earth show it moored at the port of Dalian in northeast China.  And in December last year images and videos of China's latest generation fighter, dubbed the J-20, surfaced on the web.  Analysts believe the J-20 stealth fighter will have the radar-evading capability of fifth-generation fighters produced by the U.S., like the F-22 and F-35.  The jet is expected to be operational by 2017, although analysts believe China has the potential to deploy the fighter at an earlier date using a less-powerful engine than the one currently in development.  But military prowess is not the only -- or necessarily the most important -- component of superpower status.  Joseph S. Nye, a professor at Harvard, recently wrote for CNN, "In the 21st Century, military power will not have the same utility for states that it had in the 19th and 20th Centuries, but it will remain a crucial component of power in world politics."  Although it is emerging as a military power, China is already an economic superpower, say experts like Saez.  According to at least one estimate, China's economy will surpass that of the U.S. by 2021.  Yao Yang, Director of the China Center for Economic Reform at Peking University, recently told CNN: "Assuming that the Chinese and U.S. economies grow, respectively, by 8% and 3% in real terms, that China's inflation rate is 3.6% and America's is 2% (the averages of the last decade), and that the renminbi appreciates against the dollar by 3% per year (the average of the last six years), China would become the world's largest economy by 2021. By that time, both countries' GDP will be about $24 trillion.

DRDO to develop self-propelled artillery guns for army n
New Delhi: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has started developing an indigenous 155mm .52 calibre howitzer for the Indian Army,  a move prompted by the fact that the army has failed to induct similar artillery guns over the last 25 years.  Bhim self-propelled howitzerThe project will be undertaken by the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), a DRDO lab based in Pune, senior DRDO officials said. Other DRDO laboratories will also be involved in the programme with the ARDE acting as the lead agency.  ARDE was involved with the development of the Bhim self-propelled howitzer project about a decade back but the project was scrapped after South African firm Denel was blacklisted by the ministry.  As part of its over Rs20,000-crore artillery modernisation plan, the Army is looking at inducting several types of howitzers through inter-governmental pacts and global tenders.  The army presently uses a mix of 105mm field guns and 130mm and 155mm howitzers.

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