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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

From Today's Papers - 22 Jun 2011






Brahmaputra: Bone of contention

THE CHINESE are not listening to the Indians and going their own way in making a dam across the Brahmaputra river in Tibet. Yarlung Zangbo is the Tibetan and Chinese name of the mighty Brahmaputra before it enters India and flows through Assam.   It is understood that the idea of diverting waters of that mighty river northward to irrigate the arid region was initially put forward by Chairman Mao Tse-tung himself. The seed took six decades to germinate. It has caused international tension post-germination. It is indeed a serious matter and cannot be brushed under the table. We cannot go to sleep hoping that the problem would be solved itself. Care has to be taken that the present issue does not cause international tension that may escalate into a shooting war.   INDIA OPPOSES MILDLY   No less a person than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had, during a state visit to China in 2006, requested the hosts not to proceed further with the plan as that would divert 30 percent to 50 percent water northwards and may cause some Indian territory to go dry and lose paddy cultivation and green forest cover. The Chinese had promised to examine the issue with all seriousness that it deserved.   However, the Chinese engineers had proceeded with the dam construction work as per plan. The construction of dam across the Brahmaputra river, known as Zangmu dam, in the Shannan Prefecture of the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China has been going on full steam. Not only that, the Indian proposal to reduce the height of the dam from the present 3,370 meters was put in cold storage by the Chinese government in Beijing and continues to be there unactioned.   To add insult to injury of the Indians, the Chinese government plans to build four smaller dams besides the present big one. The Chinese plan is to milk the Brahmaputra as much as possible before the river leaves the Tibetan plateau and enters the territory of India.   In the long run, it is feared, the big and small dams would adversely affect the eco-system on the southern slopes of the Himalayas on the Indian side. Presently, the Chinese engineers and ecologists are not bothered about shortage of drinking water for an ever-increasing population of India. The illegal immigration from Bangladesh into the Brahmaputra valley has caused economic and ecological problems even now. With the passage of time, it may be exacerbated.   It would be in the interest of all interested parties to sit around the table and talk sense so that the posterity does not curse us. The Chinese government in Beijing may be persuaded to stop construction and increase ecological process. India’s protest to Beijing government has rather been a mild one. Unlike some other countries in the region, India has been keen on settling the dispute peacefully sitting and chatting around the table. Of course, some critics of the Government of India have termed it as a weak-kneed policy of the South Block where major and important offices of the Ministry of External Affairs are located.   IS HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF?   We may recall the tough negotiations that India and China used to have during the India-China boundary dispute days. Prime Minister Chou En-lai of China and Pt Jawaharlal Nehru of India had initiated a number of parleys. The Chinese side always wore a smile but what was going on in the heart of hearts, that was known to the concerned individuals alone.   While negotiations were going on under the nose of Pundit Nehru, the Chinese government in Beijing had ordered mobilisation of troops and their regrouping, if required. It was in October 1962 that the Chinese army launched a massive attack and the “ill armed, ill clad and ill trained” Indian soldiers were ordered to move to the borders of China (read Tibet). The Indian troops did their duty and no one questioned the wrong decisions made by some commanders. India was annihilated. Of course, there was a silver lining to this defeat.   India acquired weapons and equipment required for modern warfare and reorganised training to suit the battlefields located in the high Himalayas. Light equipment holding mountain divisions gained mobility in hills and infantry divisions were earmarked for plains only. 1962 war taught the Indian army many lessons that held them in good stead in 1971 in an all out war with Pakistan. India won a decisive victory and Pakistan was dismembered. India helped in the birth of Bangladesh.   Coming back to the Chinese skill of negotiating across the table, one finds that they hold their cards too close to the chest. Getting intelligence reports from the Chinese troops is a hard nut to crack. Be it peace, be it war, be it plain negotiations, the language barrier is difficult to bust. Unless our intelligence units and personnel learn Chinese-Mandarin, it may be difficult to adduce first hand information about their troops, their location and their plan of action. In the pre-1962 days the ground situation was just similar to what it is today.   The Chinese diplomats, soldiers, civilians are as polite today as they were in Chou-Nehru days of Hindi-Chini bhai bhai. There was a tremendous difference between the word and the deed of the Chinese negotiators. Their history tells us that the Han Chinese have not changed in their thought, action or simple behaviour.   OPTIONS OPEN   The dams on the Brahmaputra river may cause problems to the next generation of the Indians. India cannot afford to go to war against China. India cannot afford to forego unfettered use of water of the river that flows in Tibet as much as in India.   India may have to negotiate with the Chinese counterparts and not think of lodging a complaint with the United Nations. There are a number of international treaties and examples of international usage of water of a river that flows through two or more countries. The international conventions have laid down traditional proportions for the use of water of a river that flows through two or more countries.   It is an international convention that the country located at the source of a river will not make use of entire water of the river but let the country located in the lower region also makes use of the river water. In other words, the country of higher reaches will leave sufficient water in the river for the use of the country of lower reaches.   Indeed it would be in the interest of both India and China to negotiate and settle the dispute by mutual accommodation rather than run to the International Court of Justice and get bogged down in litigation lasting generations. Of course, it should be done in the spirit of “Give and Take” so that no party feels aggrieved. Both go home and live like good neighbours hereafter.

India's decision to ignore Boeing, Lockheed a sad mistake: Thomas Pickering   Read more at:

Wahington:  The Indian government's decision to not include two US companies Lockheed Martin and Boeing for its multi-billion fighter jet deal was a "sad mistake", a former top American diplomat said Monday.  "My feeling is that the decision was a sad mistake, and to some extent a serious one, but one that the United States and the companies involved quite wisely have tried to treat as part of the process of doing business," former US Ambassador to India, Thomas Pickering, told the National Bureau of Asian Research, a Washington-based think tank in an interview.  "In business, one must come to know that you don't win them all; you stay in business because, in the long term, you think you make better products. Only bad businessmen create animosity among their customers.   "In the end, if it turns out that the European planes cost more than either of the American options then the Indian military will have to answer for its decision," Pickering said.  The real question is security, he said, and that depends a lot on capacities. "If a country is buying second-rate equipment to maintain its security when it could procure first-rate equipment, does it make any sense, even if the equipment is manufactured by a country that would like to be a close ally?  But some of the distrust of the old days still hangs on," Pickering said.   Read more at:

'China will try to enhance military ties with India'

With an Indian army delegation visiting China after a year-long hiatus, Beijing today said it would make "considerable" efforts to enhance exchanges and cooperation between the two militaries.  "Military exchange is an important part of China-India relations. China would like to make considerable effort with the Indian side to enhance the exchange and cooperation between the two militaries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing, when asked about the current visit of the Indian army delegation.

The eight-member multi-command delegation, which is headed by Maj Gen Gurmeet Singh of the Northern Command of the Indian army, arrived here on June 19 on a week-long visit.  The team would also visit Xinjiang and Shanghai and tour the local military installations and hold talks with the officials of those units.  This is the first visit of an Indian military team to China in about a year as an earlier delegation to be headed by the then Lt Gen BS Jaswal of the Northern Command cancelled its tour last year after China declined to provide regular visa to him on the ground that he headed troops in Jammu and Kashmir.  The defence exchanges resumed after the two countries sorted out their differences.

US and European defence firms keen to sell to India

PARIS // India's booming economy and growing security concerns are making it one of the top defence markets for the next decade.  European contractors are deepening their ties to the country while US companies, which were barred from selling sophisticated equipment to India until 2005, are strengthening their presence.  It "is buying anything you can think of - fighters, patrol aircraft, missiles, trainers, aircraft carriers", said Stephen Trimble, a journalist who writes and blogs on defence matters.  "India is already one of the world's 10 largest arms buyers, and there is no reason to think that will change. If anything, if current trends continue, it's easy to see India outspending Europe's biggest spenders, such as Germany and perhaps even France and the UK, by the end of the decade," he said.  The US aircraft manufacturer Boeing forecasts India will spend US$30 billion (Dh110bn) on defence platforms such as aircraft over the next decade.  The country is estimated to import close to 70 per cent of its defence requirements from foreign companies, with Israel, Russia and the US among the top suppliers.  Just seven years ago Boeing would not have been able to sell a single missile to India because of the US administration's arm's-length relationship with India, said Mark Kronenberg, the vice president of international business development at Boeing Defence, Space and Security.  But following reforms initiated under the tenure of George W Bush's presidency and continued by his successor Barack Obama, including several confidence-building official state visits between the two nations, US contractors are set to reap huge deals.  Boeing is set to become of the biggest beneficiary of the improved relations with plans to sell C-17 heavy-lift transport planes, P-8 anti-submarine planes, Chinook transport helicopters and Apache attack helicopters.  "They have a significant acquisition budget that is growing at about a 7 to 8 per cent clip," Mr Kronenberg said.  With its economy racing ahead and its population expected to continue to increase until 2060, India is setting itself apart from other emerging nations, said Kevin Massengill, a vice president and regional executive for the Middle East and North Africa for Raytheon, a US contractor that hopes to sell sophisticated sensors and radar equipment as India looks to protect its borders.  "India booms from its own internal development," he said. "For the long-term play of 20 years and longer, India strikes me as world's emerging superpower.  "Like the US, India has a broad-based and at times fractious democracy. They are a maritime power with enormous coastlines, so there is a huge synergy between the US and India that we have yet to exploit."  It was not always so rosy for US companies.  Beginning in the 1960s, the Soviet Union dominated arms sales to India because of the strength of the bilateral ties. And since the 1950s India has also been a major customer of Dassault fighter jets. Dassault and another European jet, the Typhoon, are the two remaining rivals in a medium multi-role aircraft campaign for 126 fighters, estimated to be worth more than $10bn. The US was also at odds with India over its nuclear programme until Mr Bush's reforms.  The US has also been up against top technology from European companies. During the technical evaluation phase of the competition, India eliminated the US-made F-16 and F-18 fighter jets, in what some analysts said was a desire not to rely too much on US technology.

Missing the woods for the trees

The consensus among Australian strategic elites is that India will play an important and benign balancing role in Asia, and that New Delhi’s deepening security relationships with America, Japan and Australia are critical pillars for future stability in the region. Yet, in discussions with some of I ndia’s most respected strategic minds in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai last week, it became obvious that many suspect Australia is invariably drifting towards China’s sphere of influence. Such a perception is understandable but incorrect.  As a vast island nation, Australia has  allied with the most powerful naval country in the region in the past. First it was Britain and, after World War 2, America. This strategy was aided by the fact that first Britain, and then America was also our most important trading partner. Australia now faces a unique dilemma: our most important security ally in America is no longer our most important trading partner, which is China. In an age where economic power is shifting towards Asia, many Indian strategists expect that Canberra’s drift toward China’s sphere of influence will be eventually irresistible.  Such a perception is also strengthened by Australia’s penultimate prime minister and current foreign minister Kevin Rudd touting his Mandarin-speaking skills and admiring Chinese culture to the world when first elected leader in 2007. More significant was then PM Rudd instructing his foreign minister Stephen Smith to unilaterally withdraw from the Quadrilateral Initiative involving Australia, the US, Japan and India. The fact that this was announced during a joint press conference with Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi only strengthened the perception that Australia’s shift toward Asia’s ‘Middle Kingdom’ was beginning.  Rudd’s theatrics were ill-advised because they gave the wrong impression to the region about Australian strategic posture. There is general agreement that Rudd ‘mismanaged’ Australia’s relationship with China — raising expectations in Beijing and confusing allies and potential security partners like India. But it’s noteworthy that Rudd played an integral role in the writing of Australia’s 2009 Defence White Paper (DWP), the first in the region to explicitly justify defence spending increases by suggesting that China’s rise could be disruptive.  Australian strategic policies since the 1990s have remained consistent. While Canberra enthusiastically pursues trade with China, it continues to hedge against its rise by pursuing strategic and military-to-military relationships with America. But by pursuing closer and meaningful strategic and military relationships with American security partners like Japan, South Korea, and increasingly India, the Australian approach is part of a common one in the region that seeks to subtly but firmly dissuade future Chinese adventurism through collective strength.  There are many more points why the perception of Australian drift toward China doesn’t make good policy or sense. First, the importance of China as a trading partner doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a similar increase in Chinese leverage over Australia. True, Australia avoided a recession in 2009 and 2010 because of China’s booming demand for commodities. An enormous 25% of our exports go to China. Yet, interdependence is mutual. The combination of reliability, world-beating efficiency in mining processes, and geographical proximity mean Australian commodities like iron ore are cheaper for China. Tellingly, even when Sino-Australian relations reached their nadir in 2009 and 2010 over issues like the DWP, China continued to buy from Australian firms at record levels. Moreover, the fact that China is the central hub for trade in Asia can be overplayed. Over half of Chinese trade is processing, meaning that parts come in from other places in Asia, get assembled in China and are shipped out again to non-Asian OECD countries. China’s domestic consumer market is about the size of a country like France — large but not overwhelming.  But it is access to domestic markets that is the true source of leverage. Until China becomes the dominant centre of regional and global consumption, Beijing’s capacity to exercise leverage by denying foreign firms and countries access to domestic Chinese consumer market is limited. Besides, Beijing can ill-afford to do too much damage to an export sector, they generate 150-200 million jobs, in an attempt to twist the arms of strategic competitors. The lack of Chinese leverage is confirmed by the fact that even as China became the biggest trading partner for countries like Australia, Japan and South Korea, which are simultaneously hedging against Beijing by moving closer in strategic and military terms to Washington.  Finally, Australia takes political values seriously. Like Indians, they understand that poor domestic habits of compromise and negotiation in authoritarian China may not auger well for the region if China continues to rise. Australians being preoccupied with China is one thing. But drifting towards China’s sphere of influence — at the expense of old and new friends such as America and India — is altogether different, overstated and contrary to contemporary reality.

Lockheed Martin hopeful for Indian combat aircraft $11 billion deal

LE BOURGET, PARIS: India's status as a cherry in the global defence and aerospace segment has been underlined again as Lockheed Martin , one of the global defence majors who tried in vain for the medium multi-role combat aircraft deal has been quoted as being hopeful of re-entering the race for the $11 billion deal.  The US defence major's continued hope for the Indian defence deal is seen by experts here as reflective of the intensity of global competition to catch a piece of the India defence pie, but it is learnt that Lockheed's chances of a re-entry into the race is only speculative at the moment.  Lockheed vice president for corporate strategy and business development, Patrick Dewar was quoted as saying that the company's chances of offering the F-35 stealth fighter for the MMRCA deal had improved when the US senate armed services committee asked the defence department to study the feasibility of a joint strike fighter sale to India.  Lockheed officials at the Paris Air Show here said the statement should be considered of a "draft" nature. "This is a governmental decision, on what aircraft to offer to countries. He (Dewar) was referring to a draft language in a senate bill", Lockheed director of F-35 communication, Michael J Rein told ET. Rein said the company was not in discussion with the Indian government on the matter.  A reversal of the combat aircraft selection process is considered unlikely as analysts are already saying that such a step would be considered to be succumbing to US pressure, overlooking technical merits of the competing aircraft.  Lockheed, which has a fleet of proven combat aircraft including the F-16, lost out to Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault's Rafale in the MMRCA race. Typhoon and Rafale are both on display at the air show here, and the European companies are hoping to hear from India the final word on the winner in about a month.  Defence and aerospace officials here say that the defeat in the combat aircraft race in India need not be a complete setback for the US defence sector, considering that the arming of India promises attractive downstream business opportunities including technology solutions for India's defence sector in the coming years.  While India has decided on one of the European aircraft - Typhoon or Rafale - to lead its airstrike power in the immediate future, global aerospace majors are also tapping opportunities in the Chinese market. Boeing today announced the opening of an innovation centre in Shaanxi Province in China , in association with Aviation Industry Corporation of China.  The AVIC-Boeing venture is expected to enhance Boeing's production system by increasing AVIC's efficiency and capacity to supply high-quality parts for Boeing aircraft.

Jamaat-ud-Dawah warns India against 'striking' Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Outlawed radical outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawah has warned India against "striking" Pakistan and asked it to hand over persons involved in the Samjhauta Express train bombing.  The 10-point declaration was adopted at the "Defence of Islam and Pakistan's Stability" conference organised by JuD at the Jamia-al-Dirasat Islamia seminary in Karachi on Monday.  It called for the US to be declared an enemy of Pakistan and warned the government against releasing Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh.  The declaration also warned India against "striking" Pakistan and asked it to hand over persons involved in the 2007 Samjhauta Express train bombing, in which 68 people were killed mostly Pakistanis.  It also warned the people about alleged attempts by India, Israel and the US to destabilise Pakistan and called for unity among citizens to defend the country.  Among those who addressed the gathering was senior JuD leader Abdur Rehman Makki, who contended the situation in Pakistan was "not as bad as the local and Western media says".  Makki pointed to the perceived inability of the US to win the war in Afghanistan and said if "Pakistan is worried about the future, (Admiral) Mike Mullen and (Gen David) Petraeus are more worried!"  Makki also praised slain al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US raid in Abbottabad on May 2.  "He killed thousands of US citizens." He brought five planes that hit American buildings. He brought the CIA and the FBI back to their senses," Makki was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune newspaper.  However, the conference guarded by Kalashnikov-toting men was attended by only about 100 seminary students.

Mahindra Aerospace Seeks Tech Partner

MUMBAI—Mahindra Aerospace Pvt. Ltd., the aerospace unit of Mahindra and Mahindra, is scouting for a technology partner to make aircraft components at its proposed plant in Bangalore.  "Our plant then gets certified much faster," said Hemant Luthra, president of Systech, Mahindra's component manufacturing division, of which Mahindra Aerospace is a part. "This will include an equity as well as technical collaboration."  Rajiv Chib, associate director of aerospace and aviation at consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers, said given the long-drawn qualification process and certifications involved in the manufacture of aircraft parts, the gestation period for an Indian firm without U.S. or European collaboration could be as long as eight years.

"With a technology partner, the lead time can be cut to two to three years," he said.  Mahindra Aerospace has outlined an investment of 2.30 billion rupees ($51.7 million) for the Bangalore factory, which will make components to be supplied to global aircraft manufacturers as well as Mahindra's own aircraft manufacturing business.  Mahindra entered the aerospace business with the acquisition of Australia's Gippsland Aeronautics and Aerostaff Australia in December 2009. Gippsland makes aircraft and Aerostaff high-precision metal components for companies in businesses such as aviation and defense equipment.  The acquisitions made the Mahindra group, India's first private sector conglomerate with the ability to build aircraft. Most Indian firms can only make components and subsystems.  Mr. Luthra said the Bangalore plant will make use of the government's so-called offset clause, which requires foreign military aircraft and defense equipment manufactures to locally source components worth 30% of contracts valued at 3 billion rupees ($67.4 million) or above.  India may buy defense equipment worth at least $100 billion over the next 15 years, according to the estimate of industry lobby group Confederation of Indian Industry.  "Eventually we hope to be direct suppliers to Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS," said Mr. Luthra, referring to two of the world's biggest aircraft manufacturers.  PricewaterhouseCoopers' Mr. Chib said most Indian companies that participate in the government's offset program need a technology boost from a partner, and this could trigger a spate of mergers and acquisitions in the sector.  Auto component makers are also looking to tap into opportunities indirectly.  "We are looking at an acquisition in India to get technology for aerospace parts," said L. Ganesh, chairman of Chennai-based auto component manufacturer Rane group. "We plan to supply parts to companies that have interest in the aerospace sector."  Mr. Chib said India on average buys 30 jets and 30 helicopters every year for commercial and defense requirements, and there are several European and American firms looking for local partners to benefit from the low-cost manufacturing base that India offers.  "There are a lot of companies in Europe up for sale, which can be bought by the Indian firms," he said.  The offset program has a potential of $2 billion a year, mostly in the aircraft purchasing space.  Mahindra Aerospace, which has a contract with National Aeronautics to make two- to five-seat planes, will manufacture, along with the two Australian firms, 475 aircraft in the two-to-twenty-seater range in the next five years.

US may land deal for re-engining of Indian Air Force's Jaguar too

BANGALORE: The US is likely to be the prime beneficiary of yet another lucrative military contract, after the defence ministry withdrew its commercial tender for the re-engining of the Indian Air Force's Jaguar Deep Penetration Strike Aircraft last month.  New Delhi is likely to proceed through the Foreign Military Sales route as the existing defence policy does not allow procurement from a single vendor.  The latest development is likely to propel the US-based diversified conglomerate Honeywell, which was one of the two vendors invited to supply new engines, as the prime contractor for the new engines, especially after British engine-maker Rolls-Royce pulled out of the competition in March 2011. The tender for the re-engining of the Jaguar aircraft, which was cancelled by South Block last month, has been estimated at $670 million, and calls for the supply of between 200 and 250 engines.  "Commercial tenders cannot end up in a single-vendor situation. This (Jaguar re-engining tender) is likely to be a government-to-government deal," a ministry source said on the condition of anonymity.  For the Jaguar re-engining programme, Rolls-Royce, the world's second-largest engine-maker, had offered its Adour MK-821 engine, an upgraded version of the Adour-811 engines that are currently powering the fleet.  In an emailed response to queries sent by ET, the Westminster, London-based company said it has informed the government, IAF and state-owned defence undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics that it "will not be responding to the RFP".  "The IAF RFP issued in November last year and later confirmed at the Bid Conference in Delhi now calls for a new engine not an upgraded engine," the company said in a statement.  However, Honeywell has elected to stay in the competition, through its offering, the F125-IN Turbofan engine. "Honeywell remains fully committed to supporting the Indian Air Force and the Indian Ministry of Defence in their procurement process for an engine upgrade for their fleet of Jaguar aircraft," Pritam Bhavnani, president, Honeywell Aerospace India, wrote in an email.  The IAF, currently, has about 125 Jaguar strike fighters, but the existing engines on the aircraft have been deemed underpowered as per modern-era battlefield requirements, and a decision to install brand-new engines with greater thrust, has been taken.  With Honeywell still angling for the contract, New Delhi is likely to work directly with Washington for the supply of the engines, with the deal being concluded at the government-to-government level, according to informed sources.  The IAF wants to retain its Jaguar fleet and have been insisting that new engines will increase its longevity. Operationally, the the Jaguars have been used by the IAF, with a great degree of success during the Kargil conflict, in conjunction with its Mirage-2000 fighters.  However, upgrades of existing fighter fleets have not met with much success in recent times, with the Mirage-2000 retrofit seemingly in limbo, as the government continues to be at logger heads with French defence vendors Dassault and Thales over costs.



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