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Saturday, 6 August 2011

From Today's Papers - 06 Aug 2011




BSF, ITBP contingents leave for Congo

Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 5 The Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) today despatched a contingent each for the UN Peace keeping mission in Congo.  Both, the BSF and the ITBP have sent 125 men each, who will be based in the African country for one year. For both the forces, this is the sixth time that a team has been sent to Congo.  The BSF contingent was flagged off by Jitender Singh, Minister of State for Home, while the ITBP team was flagged off by RK Bhatia, Director-General, ITBP.  The teams have been trained to combat civil war and assist the local police in maintaining law and order.








Defence land data locked in digital brain

The Southern Command is leading the way in securing defence land records in the country. Phase one of the land audit - a suggestion the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence had made - will be implemented in the the current fiscal and the Southern Command has already completed digitisation of land records. It will shortly follow it up with updating of land records, survey, demarcation and protection of defence land and finally tallying of records with the actual ground situation.  Procurement of new equipment and training of personnel for surveying the land are in the pipeline.  “Digitisation of land records is over. We have submitted 100 per cent details required for compilation of land records. We will update records every six months,” said T Arockianathan, defence estates officer, Pune Circle.  As per details on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) website, 17 lakh acres across the country are defence land. With 19 Cantonment Boards and 10 Defence Estates Office (DEO) circles under its jurisdiction, the Southern Command is the largest command of the Indian Army in area.








Turf war with Navy has cost Coast Guard: CAG

Marine force short of patrolling boats, aircraft  Even though its mandate is to protect the 7,500-km coastline, the Indian Coast Guards is not legally empowered to check thousands of deep-sea fishing boats and trawlers and impound unauthorised vessels surveying the Indian Ocean.  The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its audit report on the Coast Guard tabled in Parliament on Friday said the vanguards of the Indian coastal defence is also critically short of patrolling boats and aircraft as well as in manpower exposing the coastline’s vulnerability.  A 10-year-old Rs 350crore project to set up 46 radar stations along the coast is also in limbo leading to gaps in detection and tracking of targets.  Till recently, 26/11 to be precise, the ICG was not even a part of the port security system. It also has a long-standing turf war with the Navy duplicating the efforts leaving big gaps in the coastline.  And to make the matter worse, there is simply no way to regulate around three lakh fishing vessels in the unorganised sector, the audit report said.Three years after the audacious Mumbai attack uncovered chinks in the coastal security, undetected arrival of an abandoned Panama-flagged ship, MT Pavit, in Mumbai on Sunday bore testimony to the fact that little progress was made on the ground in the last three years. Legal empowerment of the ICG remained a gray area. Indian maritime zones are governed by two Acts administered by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture.  Though an amendment was made to the Maritime Zones of India Act of 1976, which allows the ICG to enforce its provisions, the Coast Guards cannot impound vessels carrying out unauthorised survey or data collection and can prosecute only with the MEA approval.  Deep-sea fishing, on the other hand, remains completely unregulated. While fishing licences are granted on the basis of a 2004 guideline issued by the agriculture ministry, the maximum what the ICG can do is to inform the department of animal husbandry on the violators.  While a new act on the regulation of deep-sea fishing is in the works since 2009, the MEA and the defence ministry have not been able to find a solution so far on empowering the ICG to seize unauthorised vessels. Till 26/11 happened, the ICG was also not a part of the port security.  Only in February, 2009, the director general shipping instructed ship masters, owners, managers and operators to submit PANS (pre-arrival notification of security) to the Coast Guards.  However, all ships entering the Indian waters are not providing PANS to the Coast Guard, which can do nothing with the omissions simply because till May, 2011, the penal provisions have not been made mandatory by the DG shipping.  If all the pending acquisitions are delivered on time, the Coast Guard would still be 17 per cent short of its vessel strengths and 45 per cent short of its air assets by March 2012.







Power shifts towards Asian endgame

Ever play that old board game Diplomacy? It was a favourite of President John F.Kennedy, and Henry Kissinger has said he liked it, too, so it's nothing to be ashamed of.  It ranges over a map of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa before World War I. The players represent the powers of the time: Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Austro-Hungary and Ottoman Turkey. The aim is domination, partly by ganging up with other powers.  This week in Sydney, one of Washington's toughest and most unrepentant neocons, Paul Wolfowitz, harked back to the same era when discussing the strategic outlook in Asia. The contemporary rise of China had striking and disturbing parallels to the rise of the kaiser's Germany a century ago. Advertisement: Story continues below  Many analysts had been saying that China's economy - and the growth on which its domestic stability rests - is too enmeshed with that of the United States for it to let strategic rivalry with the present dominant power turn to conflict.  But Wolfowitz pointed to the famous prediction in 1910, by the British author Norman Angell in his bestseller The Great Illusion, that the mutual dependency of modern industrial economies made war between them unthinkable. A ruinous war took place anyway.  It's not just neocons thinking like this. The Democrat administration in Washington and the Labor government in Canberra are both preparing for the worst with China, while hoping the current economic blessings continue: China keeps buying Australian resources and US Treasury bonds.  Alliance building is not proving easy in the real-life version of Diplomacy here in Asia, however. A case in point is the intense American focus on building up strategic ties with India since the former president, George Bush, tacitly blessed its nuclear weapons capability on his visit to New Delhi in March 2006.  As the Washington-based analyst Sourabh Gupta has just noted (in an essay posted on the Australian National University's East Asia Forum website), the Indians are backing away from a too-eager American embrace.  The Pentagon had been hoping to build up "interoperability" with the Indian armed forces, to the point where India would become the Japan of the Indian Ocean, without the restraints of the Japanese constitution. Joint operations of "common interest" could move from humanitarian and disaster relief to enforcing antiproliferation sanctions, to "coalition of the willing" interventions and maritime patrols into the Pacific.  "US-India joint exercises, particularly, were seen as the glue that would furnish an operational 'jointness' on the ground, which would permeate into a correspondent strategic purpose at the highest political level," Gupta writes. ''To this end, joint exercise upon joint exercise - on mountain, forest, snow, sand and sea - were conducted, such that New Delhi became Washington's most active exercise partner over the past decade." Out of this, it was hoped, would grow strategic alignment.  "But expectations have not been borne out - New Delhi appearing neither willing to confront Beijing in any security format other than one which is strictly bilateral [Sino-Indian], nor countenance the degree of interoperability in bilateral defence planning preferred by Washington," Gupta says.  "Indeed, at the point at which defence interoperability assumes the trappings of quasi-informal military alignment, the tendency in New Delhi has been to reflexively shrink from such engagement."  New Delhi has not taken up an offer to post a liaison officer at the US Pacific Command in Hawaii, and it warns its servicemen against unsupervised contact with American delegations. It is wary of US hydrographic surveys of nearby waters (though not as hostile as the Chinese) and has opted to stay with key Russian-built defence equipment.  Partly in response to Chinese protests, it has scaled back inclusion of south-east Asian and Australian warships in the annual "Malabar" naval exercises in its Indian Ocean approaches. "To the extent, further, that such ties are viewed in New Delhi as being somewhat superfluous to security requirements in its immediate maritime neighbourhood, US-Indian defence co-operation that assumes the characteristics of a quasi-informal military alignment will remain aspirational, at best - if at all - well into the future," Gupta says.  If Beijing sent warships to protect its oil and gas drilling and pipeline interests off Burma, or had its submarines patrolling the Bay of Bengal, that might change, but "such eventuality appears hypothetical at this time", he says.  On a visit to New Delhi this year, John Lee, an international relations specialist at Sydney's Centre for Independent Studies, found Indians inclined to think just growing a huge economy and looking after their own defence was doing enough as a counterweight to China.  But there are Indian analysts who think India is intrinsically aligned with the West, and that a profoundly important US-India strategic partnership will evolve. The strategic analyst and journalist C.Raja Mohan even argues India will become a "Western'' power rather than an Asian one.  While China has quickly become India's biggest trading partner, with bilateral trade passing $US60 billion ($57 billion) last year, the critical sources of technology and investment remain Europe, the US, Japan and South Korea. That could change if Indian and Chinese firms undercut the older industrial powers in each other's market. China-India trade could then exceed the importance of trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic flows.  Canberra is meanwhile showing the keenness so far lacking in the Indians. Since annual ministerial talks last November, US and Australian officials have been looking at ways US forces can make more use of our defence facilities and bases to extend a more visible US presence across south-east Asia and the Indian Ocean.  But stationing US forces here for the first time since World War II, as recently suggested by the US Naval War College professor Toshi Yoshihara, is getting panned. It would be sending all the wrong signals, responds ANU strategic studies specialist Ron Huisken.  "If Washington conveys the impression that it is circling the wagons and building a fallback perimeter beyond the reach of projected Chinese military power," Huisken warns, "it will set off reassessments by allies and friends within the perimeter that will prove very difficult to contain."  There is a market here for an updated board game.  Read more:








India plans to counter China’s border threat

In the wake of China’s massive military infrastructure developments along the Indo-Tibetan border, the Indian government has given the green signal to multiple rail and road networks in its northeastern region.  The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in its report tabled at the ongoing monsoon session of the Indian Parliament Wednesday declared the laying down of three rail lines in India’s northeastern states while a road network of 73 roads were assigned as projects of “highest priority”.  "China is creating a (border) rail network and so should we," committee chairman Satpal Maharaj told the house.  The rail lines will link Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, a region that China claims as southern Tibet. The report said that the railway line to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh has been declared as a 'National Project'.  The report also noted India would construct "operationally-critical infrastructure" - including permanent military posts - along the 4,057-kilometre Line of Actual Control which demarcates Indian and China occupied Tibetan territories.  "China has been building its infrastructure. They have advantage of the topography also because they have the Tibetan plateau whereas from our side, the terrain and geography are more difficult," defence secretary Pradeep Kumar told the Standing Committee on Defence.  India and China occupied Tibet share a 3488 km long disputed border which was the cause of a short but bloody war in 1962. Since then, the two Asian giants have shared uneasy military ties with a series of border talks failing to yield much result.  China is the second largest spender on military in the world with an official defence budget of about US$91.5 billion in 2011, a 12.7% rise from the previous year.  Since George Frenandes, India’s then defence minister called China as India’s “number one enemy”, the chorus in India which recognises China as the real threat to India’s long-term security than traditional rival Pakistan has been growing.  Last month, former Law Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Ram Jethmalani joined the chorus by calling China an “enemy” of both India and Pakistan in the presence of the Chinese Ambassador at a reception for the visiting Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.









India plans three strategic rail links near China border

NEW DELHI: India plans to build three strategic rail links close to its disputed border with China, according to a government report that highlights the huge challenges of improving infrastructure in the region.  The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence report said the three rail lines will link the northeastern state of Assam with neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh state, which China claims in its entirety.  "China is creating a (border) rail network and so should we," committee chairman Satpal Maharaj said.  One of the proposed lines will terminate in Tawang, a heavily-militarised area of Arunachal that borders Bhtuan and Tibet.  The disputed borders between India and China have been the subject of 14 rounds of fruitless talks since 1962, when the two nations fought a brief but brutal war over the issue.  Chinese infrastructure build-up along the frontier has become a major source of concern for India, which increasingly sees China as a longer-term threat to its security than traditional rival Pakistan.  The committee report said India would construct "operationally-critical infrastructure" - including permanent military posts - along the 4,057-kilometre (2,515-mile) Line of Actual Control which demarcates Indian and Chinese territories.  A series of strategic roads are also being built, but the report quoted a senior Defence Ministry official who highlighted the problems faced by Indian engineers working in a remote area which requires helicopters to bring in supplies and heavy equipment. "As you are aware, China has been building its infrastructure," the official said.  "They have the advantage of the topography because they have the Tibetan plateau whereas, from our side, the terrain and the geography are far more difficult," he said.  "Not only the men, but also the equipment has to be lifted by helicopters," he added.  The border has remained largely peaceful in the past decade, despite the odd diplomatic wrangle.  In 2009, China protested against an election campaign visit to Arunachal by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and, in the same year, over the approval by the Asian Development Bank of a $2.9 billion funding plan for the state.




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