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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

From Today's Papers - 30 Nov 2011

India, China to hold defence talks as per schedule in Dec
Ashok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, November 29 The India-China Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD) will be held as scheduled here on December 8-9, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna indicated today.  “I think, we expect whatever is in the pipeline will continue,’’ he said on the sidelines of a Passport Officers’ Conference when asked whether the defence dialogue would take place.  This sets at rest the speculation that the defence dialogue too might be deferred in view of the postponement of the 15th round of boundary talks between the two countries following differences over the Dalai Lama’s scheduled address tomorrow at a global Buddhist conference.  The defence dialogue will be held between Indian Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma and Chinese Deputy Chief of Staff Gen Ma Xiaotian.  Krishna also met Indian Ambasssador to China S Jaishankar, who had arrived here last week to prepare the ground for the talks between the Special Representatives of the two countries on the boundary issue. Jaishankar is understood to have briefed the minister in detail on various issues connected with the Sino-Indian ties.  “Our ambassador to China was here for regular consultations with the foreign office. He had come prepared to assist the government in the talks to be held between the Special Representatives,’’ Krishna said.
India keeping tabs on Chinese activity along LAC: Antony
Ajay Banerjee/TNS  New Delhi, November 29 The growing Chinese aggressiveness and rapid improvement in its infrastructure alongside India has caught the attention of the Members of Parliament. The Defence Ministry, yesterday in its written replies to queries, assured the Lok Sabha that a constant watch was being kept on China using all methods. A constant review was also being carried out of the threat to India.  The replies came after MPs, cutting across party lines, questioned China’s infrastructure, on the manner India was keeping a watch on its neighbour and even our own lackadaisical road construction at the front.  Each of the questions had more than 30 MPs questioning the ministry. From the region, Navjot Sidhu (BJP) and Partap Bajwa (Congress) were among those who had sent in the questions. In the past month, there has been extensive news reporting, including in The Tribune, about growing Chinese assertiveness along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), especially in the eastern Ladakh sector.  The LAC is not delineated and China has been building airfields, roads and watch towers on its side. India had set up sophisticated equipment and stationed its troops, but a lot needs to be done.  The ministry today assured, “The government is closely monitoring all developments in our immediate and extended neighbourhood.”  It admitted that there was no delineated LAC between India and China. There are a few areas along the border where India and China have different perceptions of LAC. Both sides patrol up to their respective perceptions of LAC due to the perceived differences in alignment of LAC.  “Areas along the LAC are kept under constant surveillance by regular patrolling by troops and other means,” the ministry said. Defence Minister AK Antony said, “All developments on the borders are being watched and a review of the threat perception is being done regularly, he added.
Army hospitals may outsource disposal of biomed waste
Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, November 29 Faced with increasing maintenance costs and stringent pollution control norms, military hospitals located in peace stations may outsource the disposal of toxic bio-medical waste to local civilian organisations engaged in such activity.  Senior Army Medical Corps (AMC) officers familiar with the Guidelines for Management and Handling of Biomedical Waste in the Armed Forces and its current review said many large corporate and government hospitals have already adopted the system of outsourcing bio-medical waste to a centralised disposal agency, reducing their financial and legal liabilities. Waste is collected and processed appropriately till it is transported to the hospital’s ‘kerb site’, from where its safe disposal becomes the responsibility of the concerned agency.  “Outsourcing bio-medical waste is being deliberated upon within the services as it may not be practical and prudent to maintain incinerators in each and hospital owing to emerging economic, environmental and legal issues,” an AMC officer said. “Moreover, outsourcing facilities are available in most stations where our larger hospitals are located,” he added. Service medical establishments located in the field, remote areas or highly sensitive areas would not be covered under the scheme.  At present, the armed forces have their own in-house system of disposing bio-medical waste. Following the enforcement of the Bio-Medical Waste Management and Handling Rules by the Union government in 1998, the Ministry of Defence nominated the Director General Armed Forces Medical Services as the nodal authority for enforcing and reviewing the rules in all defence establishments.  Consequently, detailed guidelines pertaining to the organisational setup for bio-medical waste management, methodology of segregation, collection and handling, transportation and final disposal as well as audit were issued. Entitlement and authorisation of equipment and the requirement of developing in-house capacity for final disposal facilities like incinerator, waste steriliser, microwave and shredder, depending upon the size of the hospital, was also laid out.
'Bangla-China ties not to affect bond with India'
Wed, Nov 30th, 2011 2:10 am BdST New Delhi, Nov 29 ( – Chief of Army Staff General Mohammed Abdul Mubeen has said that China is just helping Bangladesh in infrastructure development and that Dhaka's ties with Beijing will not affect friendly relation between Bangladesh and India.  He said on Tuesday that Bangladesh and China did not have a strategic relation and the relation between the two had nothing to do with Dhaka's ties with New Delhi.  The Chief of Army Staff was talking to media persons after reviewing the Passing out Parade of India's premier National Defence Academy near Pune in the country's western state of Maharashtra.  Gen Mubeen is currently on a five-day tour to India on an invitation from the chief of the Indian Army Gen V K Singh.  He was the third foreigner to take the salute of the newly passed out cadets of the prestigious institution after late Chinese premier Chou En-Lai and former chief of the then Royal Nepal Army Gen P J Thapa.  During the visit, Gen Mubeen is scheduled to interact with Indian defence minister A K Antony, national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and top officials of the Indian Army and the Ministry of Defence.  He will also visit Paratroopers' Training School at Agra in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. He is also likely to visit Indian Army's Eastern Command at Fort Williams in Kolkata.  An official statement from the Indian government's Ministry of Defence said that Gen Mubeen would visit important field formations of the Indian Army. "The high-level visits of both Army chiefs in 2008, 2010 and 2011 boosted our military-to-military relations," it read.  A spokesman of the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi said that military-to-military cooperation between Bangladesh and Indian armed forces encompassed exchange of high and medium level visits, availing of training courses in each other's training institutions, witnessing of designated exercises by military observers from both sides, exchange of war veterans, United Nations Peacekeeping Operation, sharing experience in disaster management, sports and adventure activities.  Gen Mubeen's visit to India is a reciprocation of a similar tour by the chief of the Indian Army last June.  He expressed hope that the visits by top military officials to each other's country would foster closer relations between the two neighbours and act as a catalytic tool for the mutual benefit of both.  Altogether 302 cadets, including 16 from Bhutan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the Maldives, graduated from the National Defence Academy of India on Tuesday. They had commenced their training on June 30, 2008.  Gen Mubeen, as the reviewing officer of the Passing out Parade, presented medals to the award winners of the autumn term of this year.  Chou En-Lai was the chief guest for the NDA's passing out parade in December 1956, and Gen P J Thapa was the chief guest in Nov 2004.  The Indian Government said that the visit would further cement India's defence relationship with Bangladesh and add impetus to ongoing defence cooperation.  "Maintenance of enhanced military-to-military contacts with Bangladesh by Indian Army is mutually beneficial to the strategic interests of both the neighbours," said the statement.
No information on joint China-Pakistan army exercise: Antony
New Delhi: Defence Minister AK Antony on Monday said India has no information on a China-Pakistan joint military exercise held close to the Indian border recently.  In a written reply to questions in the Lok Sabha, Antony's answer to a query whether a joint military exercise of Pakistani and Chinese armies was being carried out merely 25 km away from the border with Jaisalmer area of Rajasthan was an emphatic "no".  "No, there is no information regarding such an exercise being carried out," he said, but admitted that India and Pakistan have an agreement in place to issue each other prior notice of any joint military exercise within the radius of 50 to 75 km along their border. No information on joint China-Pakistan army exercise: Antony  Media reports in the recent past, including from Chinese official media, have indicated that Chinese army personnel had carried out a counter-terrorism exercise with Pakistan Army personnel in Jhelum in Pakistan's Punjab province in the middle of November.  (Watch CNN-IBN live on your iPad. IBN7 and IBN Lokmat too. Download the IBNLive for iPad app. It's free. Click here to download now)
NDA toppers from defence backgrounds, but first-generation officers
PUNE: The three toppers from the National Defence Academy's (NDA) autumn term 2011 -- cadets Deepak Awasthi, Deependra Kheechee and Amit Kandwal -- have much in common.  They will be the first in their families to be commissioned as officers in the armed forces after their year-long stint with the respective training academies, they will represent families with a tradition of serving the nation and all three have excellent academic records.  On Monday, a deep sense of pride shone in the eyes of their parents and family members who were at the defence academy to share their achievement. Awasthi is from Kanpur, Kheechee comes from Jodhpur and Kandwal is from Kotdwar in Uttaranchal.  "I am proud of my son," said Rajesh Kumar Awasthi, a retired subedar from the Corps of Signals. His son was adjudged the overall best cadet. Deepak topped the computer science stream with an 8.1 final grade percentage average (FGPA) which reflects the sum total of a cadet's performance in academics and training. "I was a consistent topper in my stream," he said.  The inspiration to take up a career in the armed forces came from his father. But Deepak wants to be a fighter pilot unlike his father who was in the army. "I have always wanted to fly. It does not matter whether or not it is the army, as far as I am in the defence forces," he said.  He joined the NDA after standard XII at the Uttar Pradesh Sainik School in Kanpur. "After being in the boarding school for long, I was used to the regimental life at military training institutes," he said, adding that the initial days at the NDA were tough.  "But, I was able to adjust with life in the academy and the latter part was particularly good," he said. In March, Deepak joined a three-member NDA team to participate in an international competition on 'The laws of armed conflicts' in Italy. "I came fourth," he said.  Squadron cadet captain Deependra Singh Kheechee, who topped the arts stream with an 8.08 FGPA, wants to be an army infantry officer. "I will join the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun," said Deependra.  His great-grandfather was a soldier in the British Indian army and fought World War I, while his grandfather, Narpat Singh, was with the 14 Rajput regiment that fought the 1971 Indo-Pak war.  "I was motivated by my grandfather to join the armed forces. I also found this career adventurous and challenging," said Deependra, who went to St Paul's School in Jodhpur. "I took the call on joining the NDA when I was studying for standard XII," he added.  "The three years at the academy has helped me become a better person with a better attitude. Now, I have a definite goal," said Deependra. His father, Gaje Singh, who is with the Rajasthan forest department, and elder sister, Kirti, who is studying for her MBA at the National Law University, were at the convocation.  Science stream topper battalion cadet adjutant Amit Kumar Kandwal is the son of retired army havildar, Ansuyaprasad Kandwal, who was with the Pioneer Corps in Bangalore for 26 years.  "My grandfather, Suresh Kumar Kandwal, was personnel below officers' rank with the 4th Garhwal Rifles. He motivated me to join the armed forces," said Amit, who had the highest 7.52 FGPA in the science stream.  "I am living my grandfather's dream," said Amit, who quit studies at the G B Pant Engineering College at Pauri, to join the NDA. He wants to join the navigation cadre in the navy.  But before that, he will join the Indian Naval Academy, Cochin for his training. "At NDA, I learned never to give up and keep trying," he said.
House panel to be invited for war games in Thar on Dec 2
NEW DELHI: The defence ministry has shot down the Army's plans to showcase its ongoing massive combat Sudarshan Shakti exercise in Rajasthan to young MPs, including AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi and his cousin Varun Gandhi of the BJP.  Instead, the plan is to invite members of the parliamentary standing committee on defence to witness the war games, which has about 50,000 troops, 300 tanks and 250 artillery guns, apart from fighters, spy drones and attack helicopters amassed in the Thar desert.  While the standing committee members are likely to witness the desert maneuvers on December 2, President Pratibha Patil and defence minister A K Antony, among others, are slated to get a first-hand look at the Army's combat potential on December 5.  The Army was planning to invite the young MPs as the "potential leaders of the future'' to witness the war games. But it was not aware that there "was a laid down procedure'' for such an invite, with sanction also being required by the Lok Sabha Speaker.  'Sudarshan Shakti', as reported earlier, is testing swift mobilization and multiple blitzkrieg thrusts across the border in keeping with the Army's ongoing "transformation" to consolidate its strike capabilities as well as streamline operational logistics.  Pakistan's brandishing of tactical nuclear missiles as a riposte to India's "Cold Start" doctrine has not deterred the Indian Army from conducting such exercises to sharpen its "pro-active" war strategy.
Did Vajpayee govt sleep for a year over intelligence alert on Kargil?
New Delhi, Nov 28 (ANI): Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had knowledge about infiltration from the neighbouring country in 1998, but his government did not pay attention to intelligence reports on the Pakistan Army's intrusions in Kargil in 1999, according to an army think tank.    The study titled 'Perils of Prediction, Indian Intelligence and the Kargil Crisis', said the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had also warned in its October 1998 assessment that the Pakistan Army might launch "a limited swift offensive with possible support of alliance partners (reference to mercenaries).
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had also sent a secret note to the then Prime Minister Vajpayee on Pakistani logistics building across the Kargil.    The Indian Army's think-tank Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) made these revelations in an internal study it undertook on Indian intelligence and the Kargil crisis.    It rejects the charge on the Indian security establishment failing to detect or predict the Pakistani invasion because of a lack of proper intelligence and a turf war between security agencies.    "What went wrong, was not lack of intelligence, but the lack of coordination, assessment and predicting in specific terms in which way the attack will be enacted," says the classified study.    The study shows that the Indian intelligence agency had accurately assessed Pakistani intentions prior to the Kargil crises and as early as in 1998, a year prior to detection of the intrusions.    As many as 43 reports were produced between June 1998 and May 1999 by three intelligence agencies-the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Military Intelligence (MI). The Indian border guards stationed in Kargil also generated two other reports.    The study says the analysis, origins and destinations of these reports is quite revealing: Army intelligence produced 22 reports, none of which were shared with any civilian agencies, including the JIC. RAW generated 11 reports and IB produced 10 reports, of which three were distributed widely.    On June 2, 1998, the IB had dispatched a note to the Prime Minister, containing details about Pakistani logistics building efforts along the LoC in the areas opposite to Kargil. The note was personally signed by then IB chief, meaning the contents were extra-sensitive requiring attention from the highest political level.    Again in the winter of 1998-99, both RAW and IB had predicted an escalation of the mercenary infiltration, with the thrust in the direction of Kargil. In its October 1998 threat assessment, RAW had even warned that Pakistan the Army might launch "a limited swift offensive with possible support of alliance partners-a reference to mercenaries."    "But credible reports suggest that RAW was informally pressured to retreat from the alarming projections it had made in October 1998, as Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was preparing to undertake a peace journey to Lahore," the study says.    It says it was after the nuclearisation of South Asia that four Pakistani Generals, including then Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf, had drawn up plans for an incursions into the Indian Kashmir, code named Operation Badr.    The paper believes that reconnaissance for Operation Badr had begun in November 1998, when Pakistan troops had probed Indian defence lines in Kargil. "Unmanned aerial vehicles were used to verify the laxity of Indian border security. Actual Movement of troops into Indian territory began late February 1999," says the paper.    The paper concludes that more than the lack of intelligence, the lack of coordination, assessment and turf-war between various security agencies was taking toll on the Indian security system. (ANI)
Army regiments get coveted colours
PATIALA: It was a historic moment for the Army on Sunday, when the supreme commander of the armed forces and President of India Pratibha Patil presented colours to its five tank regiments at Patiala in an impressive ceremony. It is the second occasion in the history of Independent India that so many regiments were conferred with the colours, which are presented for exceptional role played by these regiments during war and peacetime.  A formation of 132 T-90 tanks, with their engines roaring, guns on stabilizer systems and holding their newly acquired colours presented salute to their supreme commander.  The five regiments presented colours were 70 Armoured, 73 Armoured, 74 Armoured, 5 Armoured and 6 Lancers. Out of these regiments, 70 Armoured Regiment had participated in the 1971 war. All these regiments have offered more than 25 years of dedicated service to the nation. Colours were received by Col M K Sirohi who is commandant of 70 Regiment, Col Sunil Dala of 73 Regiment, Col Atul Suri of 74 regiment, Col Mohit Wadhwa of 5 Regiment and Col Ranjan Keron of 6 Lancers.  In the presence of four religious teachers -- representing various faiths Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Sikhs -- a short prayer was held following which the President presented the colours to the commandants of the respective units.  Speaking on the occasion, Patil congratulated the units for the rare honour. She said that the honour bestowed upon them carries additional responsibilities. The President also reviewed the parade before the colour presentation ceremony.  Chief of Army Staff General V K Singh, Army commander of Western command Lt General, S R Ghosh and a host of other senior serving officers, as well as retired veterans and all ranks, also witnessed the historic moment.  Box: What they denote?  Colours or Nishans, also known as Dhwajas/Patakas, are a source of pride for any regiment and various traditions have taken shape around them. In the Indian context, these have their roots in history since Vedas and Puranas where an individual sign of a king or emperor were carried by the armies. These Dhwajas were protected at any cost. Loss of the Dhwaja to another army was considered a defeat. Acceptance of colour or nishan of another ruler was taken as accepting the supremacy of that king.  Significance of colours  With East India Company coming under the control of the English, the regiments in India started carrying colours of the British Crown. After Independence these colours were discontinued and placed at Chetwood Hall of Indian Military Academy at Dehradun. Later, they became the colours of the President of Republic of India. Cavalry regiments from whom these five regiments owe their traditions carried the Guidons, which were last paraded in 1936. Post-Independence only colours are awarded.
President to witness Indian Army exercise
President Pratibha Patil will Dec 5 witness the Indian Army’s massive war games in progress in Rajasthan desert close to the international border with Pakistan.  The exercise, Sudarshan Shakti, being held under the aegis of the Pune-based Southern Command, has over 50,000 troops and over 200 battle tanks such as T-90s, T-72s, Arjun and infantry combat vehicles such as BMPs participating in the exercise, in association with the Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets, transport aircraft and helicopters.  ‘Exercise Sudarshan Shakti will be witnessed by the President Pratibha Patil, the supreme commander of armed forces, on Dec 5. She will be accompanied by Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh,’ army spokesperson Veerendra Singh said.  ‘This exercise will be a trend-setter for the Integrated Theatre Concept,’ he added.  The transformation that will be tried out will make the army ‘more agile, versatile, lethal and a networked force’.  ‘In the exercise, we will be trying out new structures, strategies, and test beds of an integrated, seamless air-land battle,’ he added.
Indian Army and Forest Dept summon each other
Jaipur: Soon after the accused army men skipped the interrogation by not appearing before forest officials, the inquiry into Chinkara killing case has reached a logjam after Army and Forest Department summoned each other.        Earlier a team of forest officials had recovered the uncooked meat and remains of the endangered animal from the army unit on Friday. The army officials had initially claimed to have procured the chinkara from locals, however, the forest officials said that investigations are also being held to identify if the accused had hunted the chinkaras.           According to the District forest officer BR Bhadu said that the accused five army personnel’s Gopi Lal, BR Nath, N Sarkar, Pardesi and DR Naidu, were summoned on Sunday for interrogation but they did not show up.        Another summon has been set up for today to set up an inquiry on the fast track. Meanwhile, locals alleged that the armymen are trying to frame some villagers in the Chinkara killing case. Meanwhile, locals alleged that the armymen are trying to frame some villagers in the Chinkara killing case. Sources said army men are saving their own skin by claiming that they had purchased meat from villagers.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

From Today's Papers - 26 Nov 2011

Sino-Indian boundary talks postponed
Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, November 25 Amid tension between New Delhi and Beijing over India’s decision to go ahead with oil exploration in the South China Sea, the 15th round of talks between the Special Representatives (SRs) of the two countries on the boundary issue has been abruptly postponed.  The talks were to be held in New Delhi on November 28-29 between National Security Adviser Shivshanker Menon and Dai Bingguo - the SRs of India and China, respectively.  “We are looking forward to the 15th round of SR talks in the near future and the two sides remain in touch to find convenient dates for the meeting,’’ External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said in response to a question. The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing is also believed to have informed the media that the two sides were discussing the possible dates.  The two countries were set to announce a joint mechanism for border management at the talks to deal with any escalation on the nearly 4,000 km border between them. The joint mechanism was to consist of representatives of the Foreign and Defence ministries and armed forces personnel on the two sides.  It was not known if the visit of a Chinese defence delegation to India for the defence dialogue between the two countries would go on as scheduled on December 8-9.  The postponement of talks between the two SRs took the media and strategic experts by surprise in view of the fact that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a fruitful meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao just last week on the margins of the ASEAN Summit in Bali. The PM had, however, made it clear to Wen that India was undertaking oil exploration in the Vietnamese blocks in the South China Sea purely for commercial purposes.  Yesterday, the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua had put out a lengthy commentary on its website reflecting the Chinese Government’s views on relations with India. It came down heavily on India, observing that New Delhi was jittery at the sight of China gaining prestige in Asia, particularly in South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Hi-tech weapons gather dust
Shiv Kumar/TNS Ajmal Kasab is the Ajmal Kasab is the  lone terrorist to be captured alive during the 26/11 attack.   Mumbai, November 25 Three years after Pakistan-based terrorists like Ajmal Kasab and his associates outmanoeuvred and out-gunned the Mumbai police, the men in khaki are still struggling to make do with inadequate weapons.  A recent audit of weapons in the police armoury conducted at the behest of Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik revealed that 30 per cent of the weapons issued to the force were defective. A report containing details of the purchases of the weapons, their suppliers and other details has been submitted to the Maharashtra Home Ministry, sources said. "It was found that many of these weapons cannot be used at all. Thus, these are not issued to policemen," a state government official said.  Officials say the Mumbai police is facing a severe shortage of personnel who are trained in maintaining these weapons. "It was found that many of these weapons in the police armoury lack adequate spares because of which they are unusable," said a senior official.  The Mumbai police had come in for severe criticism for the poor quality of weapons deployed to them. Most of the armed policemen deployed to tackle the terrorists who hit Mumbai on 26/11 had been issued with rifles of World War II vintage, which in many cases malfunctioned.  The Ram Pradhan inquiry committee, which looked into the functioning of the police force, had found a number of irregularities in the purchase of weapons, bullet proof jackets, uniforms and other equipment. It went on to recommend an urgent revamp of the police armoury to tackle modern-day terrorism.  However, the state government has been slow in implementing the recommendations of the report. Sophisticated weapons worth Rs 127 crore purchased in the wake of the terror attacks are gathering dust as the police personnel are yet to receive training to use them. Among this equipment are fibre-glass boats purchased to enable policemen tackle threats from the sea.
The Afghan cauldron Strategic alliance vs strategic depth
by Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (retd)  Historically, Afghanistan has been the most difficult country for military campaigns and equally difficult to govern. The nature of terrain, the climate and the tribes that inhabit the land make an amalgam of harshness and lawlessness. The “Great Game” of the British ended in a woeful failure. Then the Russians had to beat a humiliating retreat. And now, after a decade-long struggle, the US and its allies, too, are preparing to bid goodbye without leaving behind any trace of peace and stability.  The recently concluded strategic accord between India and Afghanistan covers wide-ranging areas of trade, infrastructure, creation of facilities to exploit minerals and hydrocarbons, education, etc. More importantly, India will now be involved in training and equipping the Afghan national security forces. There will also be regular political contacts and cooperation at the United Nations. This agreement has vastly enlarged the scope of cooperation between India and Afghanistan and, understandably, raised eyebrows in Pakistan.  India training the Afghan security forces and the use of the term “strategic alliance” conjure up Pakistan’s worst fears, more than all the other provisions in the agreement. The Pakistan military has always dreamt of exercising control over Kabul, albeit through its proxies, and of acquiring “strategic depth” against its perceived enemy. The possibility of this perceived enemy gaining considerable influence in Kabul is an anathema to Pakistan. Speaking to David Bradlay of the Atlantic Media Company, Gen Pervez Musharraf reflected the Pakistan military’s view when he said, “In Afghanistan, there has been a kind of proxy conflict going on between Pakistan and India. India is trying to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan and has the vision to dominate the region and weaken Pakistan.”  President Hamid Karzai’s writ does not run in most parts of Afghanistan. He has failed to persuade the Taliban to agree to participate in a peace dialogue. The recent killing of ex-President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was appointed by Karzai as an interlocutor with the Taliban, is an indication that the latter are not willing to accommodate Karzai in any future political dispensation. Pakistan’s own designs and its backing of the Haqqani group is a factor that will inevitably play its full course after the US-led NATO troops leave Afghanistan. Pakistan’s obsession with “strategic depth”, flawed as it may be, is the very raison d’etre of its Afghan policy. It would not like India to fish in what Pakistan considers its backwaters. Pakistan has had an inalienable relationship with the Taliban and other extremist organisations. It has travelled too far down the terrorist highway to pull back.  American frustration with Pakistan’s continued support to the Haqqani network finally came into the open when Admiral Mike Mullen accused Islamabad of playing a “double game” of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. President Obama and former President Clinton, too, have warned Pakistan against this duality in its stance. At some point America will distance itself from Pakistan and cut down its aid which will impact Rawalpindi, but may not be able to dissuade it to delink itself from the Taliban. On the other hand, it will drive it more and more into the arms of China.  Establishing a Taliban regime in Kabul gives Pakistan the added advantage in that Afghanistan would have neither the influence nor power to aggressively assert its historical claims to territories seized from the defeated Afghan rulers by the Imperial British power, which termed this new boundary as the Durand Line.  While Pakistan is likely to view the Indian alliance with Afghanistan as an attempt to squeeze it from two sides, China may feel that its plan for the exploitation of Afghan mineral wealth will be in jeopardy. China has already got a contract for copper mines in Afghanistan and is now extracting this valuable mineral. It is also exploring the possibility of more such contracts. Moreover, China will be loathe at the prospect of spread of Indian influence in this important region. China’s relentless quest for hydrocarbons and minerals would seek to negate Indian influence in the region for obvious reasons.  On its part, India does not have the capacity and the will to carry through this strategic alliance with Afghanistan, especially when Pakistan, in cahoots with China, militates against it. For India there is no air or land link with Afghanistan except through Iran. The geography itself is a major roadblock against this alliance with Kabul. It will also bring to naught Dr Manmohan Singh’s persistent efforts aimed at befriending Pakistan. Flip-flop in its policy on the issue of granting the Most Favoured Nation status to India is the result of uncertainty in the direction Pakistan wants to take though it does realise the tremendous economic advantage Pakistan will draw from this trade agreement with India. In any case, India is well acquainted with the duality of Pakistan’s politics.  President Karzai has been making friendly overtures to Pakistan, calling it Afghanistan’s “twin brother”, but he does know, well enough, that amends are not possible and Pakistan has a different game plan in mind. With the deadline of 2014, when the bulk of the foreign troops will have left Afghanistan, approaching fast and Pakistan’s intentions being known, he has tried to latch on to the only country he could find willing to help him out. On India’s part, the contours of this alliance and their likely fallout on Pakistan have simply not been fully thought through.  Given the constraints of geography and India’s own limitations to go the whole hog with Kabul, the deal should have been purely trade-oriented. Peace in this region is in the best interests of all — Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. New Delhi can think of trans-border trade with Central Asian republics and revival of something akin to the old Silk Route only by fully involving Pakistan in this grandiose scheme. That is the reality India must come to terms with. On the other hand, China is well on its way to building trade corridors with Pakistan and the Middle East and, finally, a land bridge linking the Pacific coastline with the Atlantic.  Given the ground reality, this hopping across Pakistan and working out a strategic tie-up with Kabul is not without its own pitfalls. This alliance with Kabul will bring added pressures from China on our borders, and terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir may increase. Such are the dynamics of the geo-political realities of the region. Pakistan is quite unmindful of its disastrous policy of building the jihadi network and the inevitable fallout of this on itself.  When Maharaja Ranjit Singh was shown the map of India, he wanted to know what the area marked in red indicated. When he was told that it indicated the spread of the British, moving his hand on the rest of the map prophetically he said, “All of it will become red.” This was when his empire was at the very pinnacle of its glory. It would be no prophesy to predict that once the Americans leave Afghanistan, the Taliban, duly supported by Pakistan, will come back with a vengeance and India will be able to do little to thwart it.
Indian 'Blade Runner' set to make his mark
NEW DELHI: At the Capital's date with the half marathon this Sunday, also unveiled would be India's version of the 'Blade Runner'.  Major Devender Pal Singh's journey from soldier during the Kargil War to marathon runner who overcame all odds - even cheated death - is stuff for celluloid.  But for now, he's happy to be regarded as the country's first runner to compete with the fibre blade that Oscar Pistorius - the South African amputee runner - made famous and gave thousands of physically-challenged runners the world over hope to run as normal people.  On Sunday then, DP Singh hopes his 21.1 km run in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon will be historic in more ways than one. Also running alongside would be a group of 12 other runners who share the ex-armyman's love for a run, and taste for challenge.  The blade that costs anything around Rs 5 lakh was made available to Singh by the Indian Army. "It's the best available blade. I was lucky that Army came to my support," Singh told TOI on Thursday.  "I have had one-and-a-half month of training with the blade. It's not enough and there are a few hiccups like fitment and adjustment. But then, they will always be there," he said.  Major Singh wanted to participate in the Desert Storm car rally, and even bought a Gypsy. All he needed then was sponsors to support his endeavour.  But with no backing in sight, Singh decided to run the half marathon. "I was ready for rally, but could not find sponsors. It was a coincidence that around that time I saw an advertisement for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon and I enrolled myself," he recalled.  Running a marathon and representing India at the Olympics are on top of the agenda for this 37-year-old. "The day the doctors informed me that I had lost my leg, I took it as a challenge. Living like a physically challenged person was not acceptable to me," Singh said.  Singh is not alone as he will be running in company of 12 'challengers' who have lost a leg like him. He calls the group 'The Challenging Team'. Also with Singh would be Gopendra Kumar Sharma, who lost his leg in an accident.  "We want to show the world we can do what others can," Sharma said.
26/11 Mumbai terror strike-hit youngsters want to join system to beat it
MUMBAI: Call it a reflexive desire for revenge or a drive towards heroism, the career choices of at least three youngsters directly affected by the 26/11 terror strike are likely to be influenced by the traumatic event. Akash Karkare, 20, son of slain ATS officer Hemant Karkare, is studying to be a lawyer. Little Deepika who was 10 when she was shot in the leg, yet testified against Kasab, wants to join the police force. Rohan Kamble, 13, wants to realize his father's unfinished dream of joining the Indian Army.  Each is willing to join the system to remedy the situation although it failed them in their hour of need.  Psychiatrists say these tender minds have been branded by the scars of the tragedy that unfolded live on television. "These three children have grown up before their time. They have sublimated their childhood desires towards higher goals," says clinical psychologist Narendra Kinger.  "Akash has decided to fight for morality (right and wrong), little Deepika is choosing the gun of a police officer to put criminals down and Rohan wishes to fulfil the dream of his father rather than his own dreams."  Kinger says they want to be part of law enforcement because they have been victims of its failure. "The police failed to enforce security, the law has failed to wrap up the case and the defence forces failed to pre-empt the attack," he points out.  Psychiatrist Anjali Chhabria says, "Instances like these manifest a defence mechanism that is often used after one has suffered strong emotional trauma. Young teens often want to be superheroes, they want to save the world. It is admirable how these children have channelized their anger in a positive way. They must have had a sensible adult leading them through rational thought."  All those who watched the youngest child of the Karkare family, Akash, holding up his mother and two sisters during the public condolence and the subsequent funeral saw fury simmering in the 17-year-old. Today, the tall, broad-shouldered lad is studying in the third year at Government Law College. "He has yet to decide his area of specialization, but I think he nurtured this ambition even before the events of 26/11," says his mother Kavita.  Ten is too young an age to stand witness and testify in court. But Deepika (name changed to protect identity), now 13, was not one to be intimidated. The child who identified terrorist Ajmal Kasab in court is now readying herself for more steely encounters. She is determined to become a "powerful" cop. "I want to become an IPS officer like Kiran Bedi," she says, adding that she has been studying diligently because she has been told the exam is difficult to crack.  At the root of her desire to acquire the khaki uniform is to be able to fight terrorists like Kasab, whose indiscriminate rampage at CST railway station three years ago injured her grievously. "I will eliminate all terrorists like Kasab," she says confidently.  Teenaged Rohan, son of Taj maintenance staffer Rajan Kamble, wants to join the Indian Army to save lives even though he lost his own father to terror. Rajan was hit by bullets while helping a doctor couple. "It was my husband's dream that our son joins the army. My son also realized that there is a need for brave people who can help others in times of crisis," says Shruti, Rajan's 39-year-old widow.  Rohan has "grown up" after the incident. "He feels proud about what his papa did. And thus wants to take the legacy forward," Shruti says. However, the family has only each other to rely on for support. "I have no idea how to put Rohan through military school. If someone would guide us, we would be able to fulfill my husband's dream," says the single mother.  It remains to be seen whether the children stay the course, but like Chhabria says, it would be wrong to write them off. "They may become powerful in their field given that they are willing to accept challenges," she predicts.  Psychiatrist Harish Shetty feels they have created their own inspirational goals to avenge the deaths, correct the system and achieve closure. "It is rationalized anger that they want to vent against the terrorists," he says. "Since it is taking a long time for the terrorists to get their punishment, the youngsters, by choosing these professions, want to punish the wrong-doers. They want justice. They want to change the system by being a part of it," he says.
Pakistan’s relationship with China
Speaking in Jhelum on November 24, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said that Pakistan-China relations were purely strategic and were not against any other country, and that they would actually help in the promotion of regional and global peace. He had just attended the closing ceremony of a two-week-long Pakistan-China Joint Military Exercise Friendship-IV-2011.  Lest the world take him as speaking tongue-in-cheek, he added that China’s security was dear to Pakistan and such joint exercises would strengthen relations between the two countries, which were facing the common threat of terrorism. He further disarmed regional and global suspicion by pointing to the fact that Pakistan was in the routine of having such joint exercises with other countries as well and had conducted them with 50 other countries.  But the sad truth is that conflict is still the working paradigm in South Asia and in the world. When General Kayani said ‘purely strategic’ relations with China, he probably thought that this would take the adversarial regional mind away from ideas of hostile combinations of force. The fact is that the Jhelum exercise will not fail to elicit negative interpretation and much of that will be based on ‘explanatory’ statements made in Pakistan but not in China, where foreign policy intent is not worn by the politicians on their sleeves.  Unless suspicion is disarmed through codependent trade relations with India, the neighbouring state will go towards seeing any Pakistan-China development as directed against it. India sees much more in the Karakoram Highway, built by the Chinese, than just a trade artery. It says it is a flanking move to challenge India in Kashmir, where Indian troops are deployed, and that Chinese troops are actually deployed in the Gilgit-Baltistan region (something that both Pakistan and China have denied). India has always linked Pakistan’s nuclear programme and its weaponisation to China. The rest of the world, too, is suspicious of China’s policy towards South Asia in general and Pakistan-Afghanistan in particular. In Pakistan, strategists don’t help by looking at the American presence in Afghanistan as being aimed against China — as a challenge to China’s forward move in Central Asia. Pakistani leaders openly say that new contacts with China should be aimed at shifting Pakistan’s big traditional dependencies on America to its all-weather friend, China. Of course, this can have its negative effects in Pakistan, where cheap Chinese imports could deal a devastating blow to local industry and businesses.  What makes matters worse is that Pakistan’s relationship with China is — as is much of foreign policy— dictated by the military which dominates policymaking and sets the narrative and public discourse on how we perceive and deal with the outside world. This is perhaps why we are programmed to look at relations with China as a counter to Indian influence in the region and seem to prefer it over relations with America, which happens to be one of our largest aid donors and largest trading partners. Over time, the elected civilian government in Pakistan needs to take greater ownership of this bilateral relationship so that it can be weaned away from purely defence to social sectors. Right now, the perception that is determined by the armed forces in Pakistan is a fair one, and it is inevitable that the military is the one who stands to benefit the most from it. Of course, this is merely to point out that the benefits of such a deep relationship should accrue also to ordinary Pakistanis, especially in fields which concern and benefit them.  Pakistan’s isolationism and internal civil-military contradictions are retarding its progress towards a prosperous market state that can look after its large population better. To achieve this, Pakistan must stay on the course of normalising its relations with India through free trade and allowing India to trade with Central Asia through its territory the same way it is willing to serve as a transit territory for the movement of goods from Gwadar to the western regions of China. If we were to learn the philosophy behind China’s conduct in addition to just doing military exercises, we would do what the world wants from us and not adopt an unrealistic defiant posture.
Large orders can make Arjun tank cheaper
Ajai Shukla / Avadi/ Chennai November 26, 2011, 0:10 IST  The army could clear the indigenous Arjun Mark II main battle tank (MBT) for frontline service after trials next year, but a question mark hangs over the Arjun’s prohibitive cost. Heavy Vehicle Factory, Avadi (HVF) has already built 124 Arjun Mark I tanks for the army at Rs 18 crore per tank. But on 29th August, Defence Minister AK Antony sprung a bombshell when he announced in Parliament that, “The likely estimated (sic) cost of each MBT Arjun Mark-II… will be approximately Rs 37 crore.”  This is twice the price of the Russian T-90 and not much cheaper than USA’s M1 Abrams, the world’s most advanced MBT. On 1st July 11, the US Congress was notified that Egypt would buy 125 Abrams tanks for $1.3 billion — i.e. $10.4 million, or Rs 54 crore, per tank.
During a visit to HVF and to the Central Vehicles R&D Establishment (CVRDE), which has developed the Arjun, Business Standard was explained that the cost of the Arjun is easily reduced. If the army places a larger order the price will drop by 30 per cent.  P Sivakumar, Director of CVRDE, explains that 50 per cent of the cost of the Arjun Mark I went on three imported components —the gunner’s main sight (GMS) from OIP Systems, Belgium; the gun control equipment (GCE) from Bosch, Germany; and the power pack (engine and transmission) from Renk, Germany — which together cost Rs 12 crore. Ordering just 124 pieces left little leeway to beat down that price.  “If you are talking just 124 tanks, there is a problem. Bring an order for 500 tanks. We will go for ToT (transfer of technology) for the foreign parts… The cost of labour in Germany is the highest in the world. We will build 70 per cent cheaper in India. If we buy the power pack of the Arjun for Rs 7.5 crore on Friday… I will produce it in India for just Rs 4-5 crore,” says Sivakumar.  For an army with more than 3,500 tanks, including 2,400 obsolescent T-72s that are crying out for replacement, ordering just 124 Arjun Mark IIs seems unduly cautious. But the army has little incentive to reduce cost. Though the generals are now willing to order more Arjuns, they are placing their orders piecemeal.  Since most of the Arjun’s 10,000 components are outsourced, the size of the order is a crucial determinant of what price they are supplied at. Says RK Jain, Additional DG of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) who oversees HVF: “If the army’s indent is for just 124 tanks, the vendors charge higher prices. Besides, the amortisation cost of jigs, tools and equipment is reduced over a larger order. HVF and CVRDE have been jointly requesting the army to confirm an order of at least 250 Arjun Mark IIs so that we can negotiate from a stronger position,” says Jain.  Another reason for the Arjun Mark II’s rising cost becomes obvious at the Arjun production line at HVF, where the army is collecting the last of 124 Arjuns that were cleared for production in 2008. Just as the Rs 50 crore Arjun line has hit its stride, it must shut down for at least two years since another order can come only after the Arjun Mark II trials next year.  I walk through the giant workshop, now almost empty, with the HVF manager who oversees Arjun production, HR Dixit. “Even if the army clears the Arjun Mark II next summer, and indents for 124 more tanks by October 2012 (an optimistic time-frame), we require at least 12 months for obtaining the items that go into the Arjun. So end-2013 is the earliest that the Arjun assembly line can restart,” says Dixit.  The skilled workers on the Arjun line, who have developed invaluable expertise while building 124 Arjun tanks, will be distributed to other parts of HVF, Dixit tells me.  “We can send our workers to HVF’s other lines. But what can we do about the dislocation of our sub-contractors, many of them small enterprises around Chennai, who supply thousands of Arjun components like fuel pipes and bearings. They will seek other work because they know they will get no orders until an indent is placed for the Arjun Mk II. And, when we need them again, they might not be available,” says Ashutosh Kumar, works manager.
Indian Army's infantry combat vehicle engines to be upgraded
By N.C. Bipindra, IANS,  New Delhi : India is preparing to upgrade around 1,500 BMP-2 and BMP-2K Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs) with more powerful engines to enhance their cross-country mobility, floatation and gradient negotiating capability and mount more lethal weapon systems on board. All of this will make the ICVs robust killer machines.  "The Indian Army is looking for a new power pack with minimum 380 horsepower engine for the BMP-2 and BMP-2K ICVs," a senior defence ministry official told IANS.  The BMP-2 is the main combat vehicle of the Indian Army's Mechanised Infantry regiments used for breaching enemy defences and for troops thrusting forward into enemy territory.  "Since the upgrading of the BMP-2 and BMP-2k ICVs are at an advanced stage, the army wants to get the new engine for the combat vehicles at the earliest," the official added.  At present, the BMP-2 and BMP-2K command vehicles are running on Russian-origin UTD-20 engines, which have been indigenised by India through technology transfer.  The UTD-20 provides a 285 horsepower output that is considered inadequate as it adversely impacts the ICV's functioning.  The UTD-20 is the original engine of the BMP-1 ICV and is being used in the BMP-2 and BMP-2K even though they are more than 1,000 kg heavier.  "A more powerful engine is required to make the BMP-2 more efficient in cross-country mobility, floatation and gradient negotiating, apart from providing it the ability to take more add-on systems and weapons," the official said.  "It is imperative that the existing UTD-20 engine is replaced with a new minimum 380 horsepower engine, thereby offering greater mobility to the BMP-2 and BMP-2K," the official added.  The army is hopeful the new engine will enable the BMP-2 and BMP-2K ICVs to touch 50 kmph during cross-country, 70 kmph on roads and 7 kmph in forward gear during still water floatation.
Major Sahab extraordinaire
When you first shake hands with Major Krishan Yadav, 31, the 5-foot 6-inch-tall, slim, bespectacled army officer at the National Defence Academy (NDA), you could easily mistake him for a professor. However, this is far from the truth.  In reality, the NDA’s equitation training officer is a hard-core soldier and sportsman. He is the only officer in the history of the NDA, who has won not one, but two gallantry awards: a Shaurya Chakra and a Sena Medal in his 11-year-old career.  If that were not all, he recently captained India’s equestrian team that won the first South Asian Beach Games in Sri Lanka on the strength of his four individual gold medals.  Yadav, an NDA alumnus, has led three significant operations in the Kashmir Valley, which resulted in 23 militant deaths with zero casualties on the Indian side.  In his latest military operation in May 2003, Yadav (then a Captain) led 10 battle-hardened men of the 5th battalion of the Bihar Regiment and killed 12 militants, who had infiltrated Indian territory in Kashmir. In a gunfight that lasted 72 hours, Yadav’s team suffered zero casualties. He was awarded the Shaurya Chakra for his courage and astute leadership.  In July 2002, Yadav (then a Lieutenant) led an ambush party of 10 men, who managed to kill five militants in a 1-hour gunfight in Kashmir. In October 2001, as a fresh-faced Lieutenant, Yadav led 10 soldiers, who managed to kill six militants, who were in the process of re-entering Pakistan. Yadav was awarded a Sena Medal for his efforts.  A second generation army officer — his father is a retired Army Supply Corps officer, and his elder brother is also an army officer — Yadav lets success sit lightly on his shoulders. He attributes his successes to a highly-motivated team of battle-hardened soldiers under his command, some of whom also won gallantry awards for these operations.  Stroking his new horse, Golden Glow, at the equitation centre on Thursday morning, Yadav said he took naturally to horse riding as an NDA cadet.  “Horse riding is a thrilling sport, as there is a risk attached to it. Horses are lovely animals and the trust that develops between a rider and a horse is like a familial bond,” Yadav said.  As a horseman, Yadav has won a silver medal for show jumping at the October 2009, Federation Equestrian International World Challenge in New Delhi, following it up by jumping 185 cm with his horse in the March 2010 horse show in New Delhi, and capping it with four gold medals at the recent South Asian BeachGames in Sri Lanka.  With his wife Preeti and son Rudransh (4) also learning to ride horses, Yadav is practising 5 hours every day for the 2014 Asian Games, where he aspires to represent India in the ‘eventing’ category, consisting of dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

Friday, 25 November 2011

From Today's Papers - 25 Nov 2011

Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, November 24 India jitters at the sight of China gaining prestige in Asia, particularly in South Asia and Southeast Asia, the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua said today giving a new dimension to the Sino-Indian rivalry.  In a commentary posted on its website, the Xinhua also observed that New Delhi considers China’s ever-growing influence in recent years as a strategic move to encircle and contain India.  The article in the Chinese media appeared in response to an to an article, "Asia's Giants Colliding at Sea?" written by former External Affairs and Defence Minister Jaswant Singh.  The commentary came nearly a week after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Bali on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit.  It said that India has been living under the delusion that China lays out a ‘strategic chessboard’ to lock up and contain it. Every act and every move of China could touch a raw nerve of India.  “Jealousy can sometimes be put in the same breath of inferiority. India could trace its sense of being so self-abase to the brief border war with China in 1960s when it was beaten by the Chinese army. And India has since eyed China with deep-seated distrust. The Indian media are always given to wild speculations on what on earth China intends to do. Any move Dragon takes in the region would in all likelihood vex Elephant,’’ it said.  The Xinhua said China has, in fact, sought a win-win model to develop economic and trade relations with its neighbours, including India. “Why India appears so impatient to take more agreeable strategies in its periphery is still beyond understanding. But one thing is certain: today’s India, no matter how anxious it intends to lead the region and even the world, is far potent and prosperous to act of its own accord - by currying favours with China’s neighbours, in particular, those who have brewed disputes with China, India would assume, it could instigate these smaller nations to engage in a gang fight against China and contain China’s growing clout in the region.’’  The article also gives some advice to New Delhi - to build up a real power, neither self-satisfaction nor self-inferiority is a mature and constructive mindset. “In a nutshell, to grow up to be a real power and stand as a sound competitor, India needs to first and foremost break through its own psychological fence,’’ it added.
India's China anxiety an ‘inferiority complex,' says Xinhua
India's “jitters” and fears of encirclement by Chinese influence in South Asia reflected an “inferiority complex” and “loud jealousy” over China's rise, State-run Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Thursday.  India was “living under the delusion that China lays out a strategic chessboard to lock up and contain India,” said the commentary, the latest of a series of editorials in China's State media outlets that have taken a hard line on India following disagreements over ONGC Videsh's cooperation with Vietnam in the disputed South China Sea.  While it struck a similar tone voiced by a number of Communist Party-run papers in recent weeks, including the nationalistic Global Times and PLA Daily, this commentary was unusual because it was issued by the official government news agency, and posted prominently on the front page of its website.  It was authored by Li Hongmei, a columnist known for her particularly nationalistic views.  “India jitters at the sight of China gaining prestige in Asia, in particular, in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and takes China's ever-growing regional influence in recent years as a strategic encirclement to target and contain India,” the commentary said.  “It sounds nothing more than a loud jealousy, for the simple reason that China has done what India could not, especially when India perceives that China's influence has well reached to its doorsteps and created tremendous impact on those who should have banked on India as imagined.”  The Xinhua commentary follows editorials last month by the official People's Liberation Army Daily and the Global Times, which hit out at India for “stepping into the South China Sea issue.”  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in talks in Bali last week, on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, that ONGC Videsh's projects were conducted on a purely commercial basis, and did not mean India was taking sides with Vietnam, one of more than ten countries that contests China's claims of “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry has since taken a more measured tone on relations with India, playing down differences following the meeting between the two leaders. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said this week there was “no power in the world that can prevent the development of bilateral relations between the two countries.”  Chinese officials and analysts had hoped the Prime Ministers' meeting would draw a line over differences over the South China Sea, which they said had created strains, although exaggerated by the media on both sides of the border.  However, analysts acknowledge that a series of editorials in influential Party papers — and now in the official news agency — underscore prevailing views, at least among an influential section of the Party and Army leadership.  The Xinhua commentary, the first of its kind published by the official news agency, said India had “put sand in the wheels of its own progress” by not allowing foreign investment from Chinese companies because of its “iron-clad suspiciousness.”  India's “jealousy” and “inferiority,” it said, were a legacy of the 1962 war which left “deep-seated mistrust.”  “By currying favour with China's neighbour[s], in particular, those who have brewed disputes with China, India would assume it could instigate these smaller nations to engage in a gang fight against China and contain China's growing clout in the region,” it said.  “Today's India,” the commentary added, “no matter how anxious it intends to lead the region and even the world, is far from potent and prosperous to act of its own accord … To grow up to be a real power and stand as a sound competitor, India needs to, first and foremost, break through its own psychological fence.”
In pursuit of dreams: Six city youths make it to NDA
PUNE: It is nothing less than a dream come true for six city youths who have made it to the National Defence Academy (NDA) for the 127{+t}{+h} course, the final list for which was declared on Thursday. In what speaks volumes for their dedication to a career in the defence services is that all of them will quit coveted engineering courses they are currently pursuing in city colleges.  Of the six youths, aged between 18 to 19 years, five have civilian backgrounds. For Mrugendra Joshi, who stayed close to the NDA in Pashan and spent his childhood years dreaming of being part of the academy, nothing could have been better. Joshi bagged the best ranking of 162 from among the six and is a first-year engineering student. "Although my parents are in private services, they always encouraged me to select this career. I will quit engineering now."  Student Dhruv Verma, who is the only one to have a defence background, secured the 182{+n}{+d} rank in the all-India merit list. His father is a serving Brigadier in the India Army. Verma, who is in first year engineering, said, "My parents and grandparents have defence backgrounds, but they wanted me to pursue engineering. However, I was keen on the defence services and they finally left the decision to me."  In his first year engineering underthe computer science faculty in a city college, Ameya Deshpande has secured the 193{+r}{+d} rank. "Since childhood, I was involved in adventure activities. It was always my ambition to join the NDA and I have studied really hard for it," said Piyush Deshmukh. "I had taken admission in engineering as a back up. I will willingly quit that now to pursue my dream in the Indian Army." Deshmukh stood 199{+t}{+h} in the rankings.  Meanwhile, Shreyas Nitve has a purely medical background with both his parents being doctors and his elder brother pursuing an MBBS degree. Nitve, who stood 219{+t}{+h}, said, "Though my mother wanted me to get into the field of medicine, my father was happy with me pursuing a career in the defence services. I did not get a medical seat in a government college after std XII and joined engineering instead. I am happy that I made it to the NDA."  It was Mayank Bhaware's first attempt at the NDA entrance exam and he is glad to have sailed through. Bhaware, who is originally from Gadchiroli district, said, "I am in my second year of engineering. My core interest is technology and sports. I realised that engineering was only sharpening my technical skills, but there was nothing that I could do about my sporting activities. I thought NDA was the best place to be in, so I decided to appear for the entrance exam." He said that his father is a businessman and he has full support from his family. Bhaware stood 321{+s}{+t} in the rankings.
Sino-Pak security cooperation not threat to any country: Army chief
Pakistan's army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Thursday said the Sino-Pak security cooperation should not be perceived as a threat to any country, a statement that comes closely after India said the "close military and strategic ties" impacts its security environment.  Pakistan had strategic relations with China and the ongoing joint military excercise YouYi-IV will further strengthen these ties, Kayani told the media during a visit to Jhelum to witness the drill.  Relations between the armies of Pakistan and China were not based on aggression against a particular country, he added.  Cooperation between the two countries will promote regional peace, he said.  Pakistan is cooperating with China to tackle terrorism in the region, Kayani was quoted as saying.  Back in New Delhi, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai in his recent address at the National Defence College had talked of media reports about the developments in Pakistan's nuclear and missile programmes.  "The close military and strategic ties between China and Pakistan impacts on our security environment," he had said.  Meanwhile, People's Liberation Army deputy chief Gen Hou Shusen, who was present on the occasion in Pakistan today, said relations between the China and Pakistan had been strengthened over the years.  Such exercises are evidence of joint efforts against terrorism in the region, he said.Officials have said the two-week-long exercise is aimed at enhancing the capability of both militaries to tackle terrorism and at sharing of information through a training programme in real time.  The drill will include collective training at the unit and brigade-level for low-intensity conflict operations.
Indian SEALs Seek Competitive Gear
November 24, 2011: The Indian Navy is seeking modern infantry equipment for its elite MARCOS unit (India's SEAL teams which perform special ops on the high seas). MARCOS wants equipment similar to what other commandos, especially the U.S. Navy SEALs have. The Indian government and defense procurement bureaucracy is aware of this need, not just from MARCOS and other special operations troops, but for all Indian infantry as well.  The government tries. Two years ago, with great fanfare, India announced an effort to design and create its own version of the U.S. Army Land Warrior system. Countries around the world (including Britain, France, and Germany) have been designing, trying out, and testing similar combat systems for over ten years now. The Indian effort is not going well. The Indians version is INSAS (Infantry-Soldier-As-A-System). One of the major things the Indians want to build as part of the program is a domestically produced multi-caliber individual weapon and a programmable airbursting grenade launcher for the infantry. This is basically the exact same thing that the U.S. Army's OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon) was supposed to be. The Indians are hoping their weapon will be more successful. But so far, progress, much less success, has been scarce.  Other plans include introducing new anti-tank weaponry, laser rangefinders, a new carbine/submachine gun, new combat uniforms for the infantry, better communications, and improved body armor. The new platform, the Indians are hoping, will reduce the load carried by the individual soldier by 50 percent. The helmet device the Indians are designing is equipped with video cameras, thermal sensors, and a visor set-up that contains two computer monitors. Plans to issue each infantryman with a "palmtop" computer are a high priority. But there's little to show for all these ambitious plans.  The first set of INAS equipment is supposed to appear next year, and by the end of the decade, some 500 infantry, paramilitary and special operations battalions will have this gear. But MARCOS knows that these projects never deliver on schedule, and are instead seeking foreign sources. There are several, including the U.S., France, Germany and several other European nations. If MARCOS gets away with this, it will encourage other Indian special operations forces to do the same.  India actually has lots of special operations outfits. These include;  Para Commandos form the parachute infantry of the Army, but have been given additional training and equipment to enable them to carry out commando type operations.  The Special Protection Group is assigned the task of protection for India's Prime Minister and VIPs from terrorist attacks.  The primary counter-terror unit in the country, however, is the 15,000 National Security Guards and the ones who have borne most of the responsibility for tackling India's persistent insurgent problems over the last couple of decades.   The army has created a force of over 7,200 commandos so that each of the 359 infantry battalions in the army has a twenty man Ghatak (commando) platoon. While this gives each battalion some shock troops, it also increases discontent among the rest of the troops, who now see modern equipment up close, and wonder why they don't have it.  India has been increasing spending on equipment for its ground forces over the last decade, but these efforts have been uneven. Some of this has been caused by corruption. Like many other nations, India has long had problems with kickbacks and favoritism in defense procurement. But it's been worse with India, which ranks 87 (out of 180) in an international survey of least corrupt nations. Last year India was 84. India has responded with a major effort to halt corruption in defense matters, but this has stalled some procurement efforts.  The end result of this is that India is under increasing pressure, from below, to honor promises to upgrade the weapons and equipment of the infantry forces. These troops have fallen far behind other armies, and the troops, and especially their officers, are not being quiet about it. But government plans to upgrade infantry weapons and equipment have not amounted to much. The troops are not happy with this.  While India spends a lot of money on its fighter aircraft, naval vessels, and heavy ground equipment like tanks and APCs, very little is spent on taking care of the infantry. This isn't unique to the Indians, it just happens that the infantry historically doesn't get first grab at funds within the military and are usually at the bottom of the list when it comes to spending in general.


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