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Sunday, 7 August 2011

From Today's Papers - 07 Aug 2011





Jaguar crash: Black box recovered

Mau, August 6 The black box of the Jaguar fighter aircraft that crashed in Dilahi Firozpur village, killing a pilot and a girl, was found today.  The black box or digital flight data recorder, which was essential for probing the cause of the crash, was located by villagers in a pit filled with water this afternoon and was handed over to the IAF personnel, the police said.  The debris of the aircraft was scattered in a radius of about a kilometer across agricultural fields which had a standing crop and were inundated with rain water. — PTI






Peacekeeping to be India’s focus during UNSC presidency

Ashok Tuteja/TNS Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations  New Delhi, August 6 Peacekeeping will be the watchword for India at the United Nations during its presidency of the Security Council.  After a gap of 19 years, India has assumed the rotational presidency of the Security Council on August 1. A thematic debate on UN peacekeeping on August 26 is among the activities that have been lined up by India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri during his month-long presidency.  Elected to the Security Council in the non-permanent category in October last year with the highest number of votes, India started its two-year term on the UN high table on January 1 this year. Although non-permanent members like India can vote on Security Council matters, the five permanent members --Britain, Russia, France, China and the US -- hold the veto power. “Peacekeeping in and of itself is becoming a somewhat complicated exercise. We have moved on from the traditional paradigm of peace to be kept after hostilities within a country. There are elements of peace-building, which now peacekeepers are expected to pursue, the issue of mandate generation,’’ according to Puri.  India has a great deal of experience in peacekeeping as a major troop contributor to the UN operations all over the world. India has so far contributed more than 100,000 peacekeepers since the process of peacekeeping started. India holds the presidency of the Security Council at a time when it is strongly pitching for a permanent seat on the world body as a part of the UN reforms. The situation in Libya and Syria are also among the areas of concerns to India, which it proposes to highlight during its presidency.  It is becoming clear that India would make every effort during its presidency to restore some of the lost authority of the Security Council. Decades ago, it took “decisions” instead of merely passing resolutions.  Puri is believed to be keen to revert to the old practice of the Council taking decisions instead of passing resolutions, in line with the UN Charter.








Coast Guard ill-prepared to deal with sea threats: CAG

New Delhi, August 6 In its report on the lack of preparedness of the Coast Guard, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) yesterday ripped apart the lackadaisical approach that led to wide gaps in the country’s coastal security in the period before the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. The report also questioned the slowness of bringing in new equipment after the attacks.  The CAG said the 1993 Mumbai blasts led to the launch of Operation Swan, the joint coastal patrolling carried out by the Navy and the Coast Guard, that was discontinued in September 2005 on the directions of the Union Home Ministry. Since then patrolling has been left to the state police and the Customs Department, which have meager operational assets. The CAG report, which was tabled in Parliament, went on to reveal: “The Coast Guard has not been involved in the inner layer (less than 27 km from the coast) operations in Maharashtra till December 2010 due to manpower and resource constraints”. — TNS









MoD report notwithstanding, time bomb ticking away

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a long-awaited, very belated report on what it called a 'Humanitarian Operation - Factual Analysis July 2006-May 2009'; an account of the last days of the military campaign to defeat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) with a general overview of the terrorist organisation.  The thrust of the report is a justification of that military campaign, and the use of force commensurate to the military threat that was posed to the government's Security Forces by the LTTE. Whether this report will defuse the gathering avalanche of criticism that continues against the Sri Lankan State on allegations of humanitarian law violations from governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is too early to tell.  The point that news agencies have picked up is that Sri Lanka has now admitted to civilian casualties when in the recent past it had claimed that a 'zero casualty policy' put in place at the time meant zero casualties.  For any reasonable person to believe that no civilian deaths occurred as the Security Forces advanced into the LTTE-held territory, entrapped the terrorists and eventually eliminated them, is, to say the least, a bit foolish. No doubt the initial blame is with the government for making such a foolhardy claim. Sometimes the government says the most astounding things and expects the world to believe them.  The MoD has, therefore, done the right thing in setting the record straight. It now says that the main objective of the military operation - which it is entitled to say was a humanitarian operation -- was "minimising casualties". The fact that the LTTE was a deadly terrorist organisation is now well beyond debate. The US State Department accorded it the dubious distinction of referring to it as the deadliest terrorist organisation in the world, ahead of its own public enemy No. 1, al-Qaeda. The LTTE was banned in the US, Britain, all of Europe, India, Malaysia and other countries. Lord Chris Patten, the well known British politician, someone who has met the LTTE leadership has written in his (2008) book 'What next? Surviving the twenty first century', that "the scale of the Tamil insurgency makes the LTTE rather different from most terrorist groups".  In the same book, Lord Patten also writes how difficult it was for Britain to convince US politicians not to fund the Irish Republican Army (IRA) - until, inter-alia, the 9/11 incident took place. Immediately thereafter, on September 20, 2001 US President George W. Bush Jnr., announced; "Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated".  US foreign policy, however, does not match those words. While the recent assassination of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the dumping of his body at sea pass without a hum, the US government has thought it fit to serve a demarche, a formal diplomatic message to the Sri Lankan government that it wishes the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), now in session in Sri Lanka, to be discussed at next year's UN Human Rights Council meeting. It comes hard on the heels of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent remarks in nearby Chennai that there needs to be some "innovative thinking" on the Sri Lankan ethnic issue (and how to get us to toe the US line).  While this demarche is not only interference in Sri Lanka's internal affairs it also places an unfair burden on the LLRC by virtually pre-judging its findings. This is a classic case of trying to influence the LLRC before it writes its report by the application of pressure tactics. It also goes beyond this disservice to the LLRC by bringing the subject into a world forum that has the power to vote on bringing those responsible for war crimes inquiries and imposing sanctions against countries - such is the seriousness of this move.  The MoD report has some flaws. For instance, it gives the impression that the Norwegian peace process facilitators were introduced by the short-lived United National Party government of 2001-2004 when in fact it was this government under a previous dispensation that was responsible. There are also sketchy details where there ought to have been more information, such as the LTTE's global octopus-like reach. Yet, it also gives some startling statistics.  It says that 37 Members of Parliament, 7 of them Cabinet Ministers, a sitting President and a former Prime Minister of India, 10 leaders of political parties, 4 Mayors etc., have been assassinated by the LTTE, also 19,282 soldiers killed and more than 80,000 of them maimed for life. The annexures in the report detail the military hardware that was in the LTTE armoury. The LTTE was no group of Boy Scouts.  By its own admission, the collection of data that went into the MoD's 161page report had not been easy because of the unavailability of documentation in one given place. That is why we have repeatedly said that the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of Foreign Relations and Strategic Studies was set up for just this task. This Institute came under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (now External Affairs), then the President took it under his wing, but on May 3 this year it was gazetted back to the Ministry. To date the incumbent Minister has not given it life by appointing its Board. The President made a big mistake in transferring it to this Minister given his prejudices and incompetence. It ought to have been placed under the MoD which at least is trying to do its part in the post-war scenario of foreign meddling.  Now, India has joined the band-wagon -- almost synchronising with the US -- on insisting that Sri Lanka should go outside the LLRC in investigating allegations of humanitarian law violations. In a suo moto address in the Lok Sabha (Indian Parliament) India's External Affairs Minister has referred to the UN Secretary General's Panel report on Sri Lanka, given credence to the British Channel 4 'documentary' entitled 'Sri Lanka's killing fields' and called for "investigations into allegations of human rights violations" when India knows that these charges are being investigated. So much for our lobbying.  The MoD report refers to post-war benefits that have accrued to the country from the liberation of the North and East from the clutches of the LTTE. That is a different debate altogether. The democratisation of the North and East, and the South, is lagging well behind. As the late Mr. Kadirgamar said in a speech way back in 1965 (please visit the related article : Each of us must share the responsibility of our common woes), a democratic state is in principle obliged not merely to permit but to encourage democracy.  The road ahead is long and arduous with many hurdles to clear as the US, Europe, and now India up the ante on the need for Sri Lanka to investigate alleged war crimes in the days leading up to the defeat of terrorism here. It is not that these countries don't know what terrorism is all about as they grapple with it themselves. It is politics, and partly Sri Lanka's own anti-West foreign policy and its flirtations with China that is at the root of it. The UN Secretary General's panel report on Sri Lanka, and now a British television programme remain as time-bombs ticking away. How well equipped are we to defuse this snowballing avalanche?










India squandering global role: Ex-NSA Mishra

NEW DELHI: India has no place in a new world order because India is failing to break out of South Asia.  Brajesh Mishra, former national security adviser, said the lack of governance in India was having an adverse effect on India's national security. "We have two enemies on our borders who are keeping us embroiled in South Asia. This reduces our ability to contribute in world affairs." Delivering the first K Subrahmanyam memorial lecture in New Delhi on Tuesday, Mishra delivered a trenchant criticism of the UPA government's policy paralysis. The lecture, an annual feature, was presided over by Mishra's successor, M K Narayanan, now governor of West Bengal.  "India's role in the world depends on economic and military superiority," he said. But economic reforms have stopped midway. On military modernization, Mishra said, "The government is carrying Bofors on its shoulders. How long should we worry only about personal integrity and not national security?" he asked, a direct hit at defence minister AK Antony, who is accused of going slow on military modernization because of fears of corruption.  He said the US policies in Pakistan puts India in the same predicament as China's policies in Pakistan. "Both are giving arms and material to Pakistan to be used against us. This means we cannot break out." China and Pakistan are military allies, he said. "In four-five years, we might have to defend ourselves on two fronts."  "Our procedures for acquiring equipment and technology are 19th century. When our 126 MMRCA come they will be obsolete." He derided the government for letting the civilian nuclear initiative run aground.  However, he said, these problems can be fixed if the government put its mind to it. "India is strategically placed in the world. We have security interests from Gulf of Aden to Straits of Malacca."  China, the former NSA said, "Treats us with contempt. Why?" China is trying to be the big player in every multilateral forum, and trying to keep India out. "Overseas, people praise our democracy but go ahead and do business with China." India's efforts should be to reverse this, by making itself more relevant.  India needs to concentrate on building its military power. "There is a place for us in the world. We have to work to get there."









Army to test 2 Agni missiles

Email 0 inShare Share on Tumblr Email Print  BALASORE: The Indian Army has planned to conduct flight tests of two Agni variant missiles from the missile testing range off the Orissa coast in the next 45 days. These tests are aimed at gauging the effectiveness of the weapons and their performance in real time situation. Defence sources said the missiles to be testfired are 700km range AgniI and 2,000km range AgniII. The Strategic Forces Command (SFC), a contingent specially raised to carry out the user specific tests of the missiles developed by DRDO, will conduct the tests. Both the missiles have been inducted in the Army.The missiles will be launched from the launching complexIV of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) with the logistic support from the DRDO scientists and technical officers. While AgniII has been planned to be tested in the last week of August, the test of AgniI is scheduled for third week of September. A defence official said as the missiles have been handed over to the Army for its use during the time of crisis, the military personnel through these userspecific trials get to know how to use the weapon and its capability. Preparation for the tests will soon start at the LCIV in the Wheeler's Island off the Dhamra coast in Bhadrak district. After both the trials, the DRDO has planned to go for the maiden test of 5,000 km range AgniV missile, considered India's first InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Though the missile which has the capability to reach most of the Chinese cities is ready for test, the DRDO is reportedly waiting for the State Government's nod. AgniI missile weighs around 12 tonnes and can carry both conventional and nuclear payload of about 1,000 kg. It is powered by both solid and liquid propellants, which imparts it a speed of 2.5 km a second. The missile can blast off from both road and rail mobile launchers.Similarly, AgniII missile is about 21 metres tall having a diameter of one metre and weighs 17 tonnes. It can carry a payload (both conventional and nuclear) of around one tonne. The twostage solidpropelled AgniII is one of the key weapon systems of the country's nuclear deterrence doctrine.







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