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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

From Today's Papers - 14 Mar 2012
On NCTC, Centre terms states’ concerns reasonable
Ajay Banerjee/TNS
New Delhi, March 12
The Centre and state governments today got down to sorting out the imbroglio over the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) after days of vocal opposition to the anti-terror hub in its present form. There were indications of a forward movement after a meeting in the National Capital today.

At a daylong meeting of Chief Secretaries, Home Secretaries and DGPs of all states convened by Union Home Secretary RK Singh, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) spokesperson Ira Joshi said: “Almost all states agreed in principle on the need to have an effective anti-terrorism mechanism like the NCTC.”

The points of contention raised by the states were “very reasonable and are doable”, a well-placed Home Ministry source said, adding that these were small adjustments. The Centre is also learnt to have assured the states that “their concerns had been noted and would be suitably addressed”.

The next hurdle for the NCTC would be the meeting of state Chief Ministers on April 16. Some 14 of these CMs had opposed the anti-terror hub in its present form maintaining that it would hurt the country’s federal structure. In fact, the Centre had put on hold the operationalisation of the NCTC from March 1 following strong protests by non-Congress CMs.

What’s next

    Feb 3 order to establish the NCTC to be reworked to address states’ concerns
    It is expected to include a detailed list of powers, functions and duties of the NCTC Standing Council
    Matter to come up in internal security meeting of CMs on April 16

The counter-terror centre order, originally issued by the Home Ministry on February 3, will now be reworked and re-worded to address the concerns of the states. It is expected to include a detailed list of powers, functions and duties of the Standing Council of the National Counter Terrorism Centre, a body that will have anti-terror squad (ATS) chiefs of all states besides the three directors of National Counter Terrorism Centre.

The reworked order will also specify the circumstances in which Section 43-A of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) can be invoked. So far, the proposed NCTC’s operational wing has the powers to arrest a person under Section 43-A.

At today’s meeting, a majority of states opposed this very power of the NCTC. They pitched for joint operations of the NCTC and state police forces with complete information sharing. Representatives of the states, especially those ruled by non-Congress governments, ruled out any possibility of allowing the National Counter Terrorism Centre to act suo motu in their territories.

Home Ministry sources said the demands of the states for joint operational teams were okay. There was no discussion on prior permission of states to conduct counter-terrorism operations, but sharing of information will have to be done, sources said.

Police officials of some Congress states were also votaries of joint operations, said officials. “These officials have seen operations from close quarters and their views have to be incorporated,” Home Ministry sources said.

States also wanted that the National Counter Terrorism Centre be made equally obliged to respond to their requests and expressed that the Central Government must provide resources (money and equipment) to upgrade capabilities.
Boost likely for military hardware production

New Delhi, March 12
With the country depending on foreign vendors for more than 70 per cent of its military hardware needs, Government today said its focus is to enhance domestic defence production capabilities to increase self-reliance.

President Pratibha Patil said the government is aiming to develop the three Services as "modern and technologically most advanced forces" to meet the security challenges.

"Our focus is on enhancing domestic defence production capabilities as well as achieving technological self-reliance in weapons and delivery system," she said.

India is one of the largest importers of military hardware in the world but relies heavily on imported systems for more than 70 per cent of its defence needs.

In the recent years, Defence Minister AK Antony has taken several measures to enhance self reliance including the formulation a Defence Procurement Policy and a Defence Production Policy (DPP).

The President in her address said in the years ahead, "our aim is to make our armed forces among the technologically most advanced in the world."

She listed the successful test-firing of 3,500 km-range Agni-IV missile and the proposed induction of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas into the Indian Air Force (IAF) as the major milestones in the recent past. — PTI
Israel’s talk of war on Iran
Wisdom lies in not playing with fire
by K. P. Fabian

It was Charles Caleb Colton, an eccentric English cleric, who pointed out that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is all set to imitate Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein. The latter invaded and occupied Kuwait in August 1990 with  consequences, unintended and horrible, in equal measure.

Israel has been beating the war drums louder and louder. Netanyahu on his recent visit to Washington categorically stated that “Israel wants to be master of its own destiny…and must have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.” Addressing 13,000 delegates to the politically powerful AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Netanyahu proclaimed to thunderous applause that with him as Prime Minister Israel shall not live “in the shadow of annihilation”.

Is Israel living in the shadow of annihilation? Israel is militarily stronger than its neighbors put together as wars have shown more than once. Israel made two crude  atomic bombs in 1967 in Dimona. The nuclear plant was started in 1964. Israel feared a preemptive strike from Egypt as the bombs were being made. There was no strike. In 1969 Prime Minister Golda Meir and President Nixon agreed to keep mum about Israel’s bombs. That policy is known as nuclear opacity, “amimut” in Hebrew. US think tanks seldom talk about Israel’s bombs.

All the 13 wars and conflicts since Israel’s founding through a United Nations Resolution  have   been won by Israel. In the 1967 Six-Day War, 100,000 Israeli troops were pitted against 240,000 Arab troops. Israel won and increased the territory under its control three times. There is no state neighboring Israel that is foolish enough  to start a war with it. Missile attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah are a different matter and, in any case, neither can threaten Israel.

Should Iran make atomic bombs and if Iran-Israel relations deteriorate there will be a serious threat to Israel, or so it appears. However, reflection will show that there is no real threat. Iran knows that any attack on Israel, nuclear or conventional, will provoke retaliation by Israel and the US of a nature that would reduce it to smithereens. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that Iran would threaten Israel with an atomic bomb.

Israel’s threat to bomb Iran is far from rhetorical. A number of Iranian scientists have been killed in terrorist attacks. Iran believes correctly that Israel is behind the attacks. A cyber attack slowed down Iran’s uranium enrichment programme.  Uze Dayan, Israel’s National Security Adviser, stated recently, “The pistol is not only loaded, but the safety catch has been released.” In other words, an Israeli strike is imminent. Or, at least that is what Israel wants the rest of the world,  including Iran, to believe.

The BBC and the CNN have started working hard to project the impression that a war is imminent. CNN  has carried reports of Iran’s plans  or intentions  to send suicide speedboats to harm oil tankers, place smart mines (supplied by Russia and China) along the shipping lanes, and even to damage  Saudi Arabia’s desalination plants that provide 60 per cent of its  drinking water.  The CNN report that this writer heard twice to make out its veracity   could be pure speculation.

Incidentally, the CNN clip on the Internet is sponsored by J P Morgan, a global leader in oil trade. Oil traders have an understandable interest in raising oil prices. Oil is not a commodity the price of which is decided by supply and demand alone. Speculation and manipulation play a big role in determining prices.

The BBC has even told us about the three routes the Israeli Air Force might choose from: a northern one, over-flying Turkey and Syria; another over Jordan and Iraq; and the last, over Saudi airspace. We are also told that the “main weapon in Israel's arsenal is the US-supplied GBU-28. This is a 5,000 lb (2,268kg) laser-guided weapon with a special penetrating warhead.”

It is quite likely that Israel is playing a game: Threaten Iran and the US with an imminent attack on Iran; the US will be compelled to tighten diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran; the regime in Teheran might fall, Iran will get destabilised; it might even act foolishly by attacking Israel or the shipping, in which case retaliation from the US will be swift and severe.

If Israel is playing such a game, it is playing with fire. Some Israeli pundits have argued that Israel could repeat its 1981 bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in Osirak. The argument is wrong. Iran can retaliate and cause huge damage to Israel.

The role of the US is pathetic. The body language of Netanyahu while in the US on his recent visit was aggressive. Obama made the cardinal mistake of taking on Israel in his first term. No US president who wants a second term should take on Israel. The US is tightening sanctions mainly to dissuade Israel from resorting to military action. But the US should know that Iranians are a proud people and that the increasing  pressure will be increasingly  counter-productive.

One might have hoped that the European Union will see reason and talk reason to Israel and the US. Alas, the Europeans are singularly unable or unwilling to play a leading role. They prefer to follow.

India has started, rather slowly, to refine its policy. India should privately point out to Israel that it is playing with fire. India should speak to the US less defensively. Despite the arrest of journalist Kazmi for the Delhi blast, it is too soon to say whether he or Iran had anything to do with the blast.

Will Netanyahu emulate Saddam Hussein? This writer doubts it, for two reasons. One, a poll conducted by the University of Maryland has concluded that only 19 per cent of Israelis support a military strike without US support. Two, the Israeli military is not capable of striking without US support.

However, those who play with fire might get burned and their neighbours are in danger. Therefore, an Israeli attack cannot be ruled out. The lesson: Stop playing with fire right now.

K. P. Fabian, a former ambassador, is the author of “Diplomacy: Indian Style”.
Veggie seller’s son is captain in Indian Army
Avegetable vendor in the Maoist-affected Lohardaga, the city of bauxite, has scripted his son’s future as an officer in the Indian Army.

A resident of the town’s Navadipara locality, Pradeep Mahto could not go to school as family responsibilities fell on his shoulders after his father Raghunath Mahto’s sudden demise.

Pradeep, who worked hard as a vegetable vendor fulfilling his family responsibilities forgetting his education dream and ignoring his desire for the good things of life, decided early that his son’s life would not be the same. After marriage he decided to expend all his earnings to educate his children.

With wife Prabha Devi, a Class III pass-out, playing a supportive role on all fronts, the couple is now happy to witness their son Arvind Kumar serving as a Captain in the Indian Army. He is now posted in Jabalpur. His elder brother Dhaneshwar, a student of M Com, is making his efforts in the banking sector while their sister Rakhi is studying BSc at Birsa Agricultural University. The parents are sure that their children will not let their hard work go in vain. The tears of happiness start flowing as this writer congratulates them on the success of Arvind. “Though we only thought of providing our children better education what Arvind brought us was beyond our expectations. Arvind completed his schooling locally at Sundari Devi Saraswati Shishu Mandir (a primary school) and at Sheila Agrawal Saraswati Vidhya Mandir (a high school) and then passed intermediate from St Xavior’s College, Ranchi.

He wanted to be an engineer, so we provided him Rs 14,000 to avail coaching but he surprised us by following a friend’s advice and attempted the NDA entrance in 2005,” Prabha Devi said. Dhaneshwar added that Arvind qualified all tests in the first attempt and availed training for three years in Pune and for a year in Dehradun.
Indian Army women's team to scale Mount Everest
New Delhi: Women in the Indian Army may not be deployed on combat roles but they will soon prove they are good enough for any challenge when a team will attempt to scale Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, in May.

The 22-member women's team was flagged off Monday by Indian Army deputy chief Lt. Gen Ramesh Halgali.

The team will take leave for Kathmandu on March 22 and after a 17-day trek, will reach base camp at 17,500 feet on April 12.

"Four camps will be established en route and after completing the load ferries and acclimatisation process, the summit attempts will be made between May 15 and 20," an army release said here.

Indian Army has already scaled seven of the nine open peaks of above 8,000 metres altitude, apart from touching South Pole last year. An expedition to North Pole is already on its way.

Mount Everest, at 8,848 metres or 29,029 feet altitude, was conquered for the first time by an Indian Army expedition in 2001.

Since then, it has been a norm in the Army, to send members on all expeditions undertaken by army or by other organisations like Nehru Institute of Mountaineering and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.

The first army women team had summited Mount Everest from the north route in Tibet in 2005.

Now, the present team will attempt for the first time through south route in Nepal, which is known as the traditional route from which Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had first climbed. This is also the longer and much tougher route, as considered by mountaineers.

Everest, due to the sheer difficulty posed by the terrain and altitude, and the glory of being the greatest mountain on the earth, is the ultimate destination of every mountaineer. It throws great technical challenges to the mountaineers, in form of the infamous Khumbu ice fall, blind crevasses and avalanche prone slopes, to climb over Lhotse face and other formidable obstacles like Geneva Spur, Yellow Band, Hillary Step, and Balcony

Indian Army has about 1,200 women in the officer cadre and they perform all roles in the force, except in combat units such as infantry, mechanised infantry, armoured and artillery.
GOC-in-C India’s Southern Army Command visits Naval Headquarters

General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of India’s Southern Army Command Lieutenant General AK Singh visited the Naval Headquarters on 12th March 2012. He was accorded a token Guard of Honour on arrival.

General Singh met Director General Operations Rear Admiral Jayantha Perera and they held cordial discussions on matters of mutual interests as well as a range of issues of bilateral importance with a view to strengthen the friendly ties between the two forces. Mementos were also exchanged to mark the occasion.

General Sing, the head of the largest command of the Indian Army, is in Sri Lanka heading a high level Indian Army delegation.
Ahead of Budget, armed forces asked to return Rs 4,000 cr
Aditi Phadnis / New Delhi Mar 12, 2012, 12:18 IST

As in the past, this time too, ahead of the Union Budget 2012-13, the armed forces have been asked to surrender funds amounting to around Rs 4,000 crore.

Normally this is the unspent amount from the capital account, usually from the army.
Former Defence Secretary Ajay Prasad said: “In my time, around this time of the year, I used to get a call from the Finance Minister saying: ‘we want Rs 5000 crore’."

The armed forces have long complained that this practice of getting unspent money to balance the Finance Ministry’s books makes nonsense of the procurement plans of the services typically with long gestation periods.

The surrender amounts to roughly Rs 3,000 crore from the Army and Rs 1,300 crore by the Air Force.

When asked, top sources in both the Army and Air Force denied any funds were being surrendered. The Army says it has readjusted the unspent amount partly through the Capital component under the Revenue head (war stores). But only the Navy seems to have managed to balance its books by December 2011.

Highlighting the need for funds, the Army made a presentation to Defence Minister A K Antony last month indicating the ‘hollowness in critical fighting equipment’ like shortages in war wastage rate (WWR) of ammunition, thermal imaging equipment in T72 and T90, no purchases of air defence or artillery and slow modernization of the infantry.

In the last decade more than Rs 45,000 crore has been returned either because it is unused or because the government needed the money to balance its books.

Of the three services, the Army is the worst hit on account of modernisation mainly because of inhouse problems. Blacklisting of  six firms last week— four foreign and two Indian companies were— all affected the Army’s modernisation.

Instructions have been given not to conclude any contracts before 31 March. Affected are the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), the basic trainer aircraft Pilatus and possibly the Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft. In the case of the Army, it is the American Light Howitzer gun, the light helicopter and other smaller projects.
Sino-India joint Army drill ruled out this year
The next edition of the Sino-Indian joint military exercises is unlikely to take place this year as well. India and China have so far held two rounds of joint military exercises in 2007 and 2008. But in the three succeeding years after that, there were no joint exercises. “Any scheduling in 2012 of the third edition of the joint exercise looks highly unlikely,” said sources. Sources added that the Indian Army is already scheduled to hold exercises this year with a few other countries and that there is no likelihood of any exercise with China this year.

“The specifics of conducting the third edition of the exercises was not discussed during the Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD) that took place in December last year. But the holding of the ADD itself indicates improvement in defence ties,” said a source.

There are several reasons why the next edition of the joint exercise could not take place in the past three years after it started off promisingly in 2007 and 2008. The first edition took place in Kunming, China, in 2007. The second edition took place in Belgaum, Karnataka, in 2008.
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In 2009, the Chinese told India that they were busy with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in October that year. India then expressed confidence that the exercises would take place in 2010.

During this period, there were several controversies over frequent Chinese border troop transgressions into Indian territory (in J&K) that worsened ties.

In 2010, China refused to grant permission to the then chief of the J&K-based Army Northern Command to visit China. This resulted in suspension of defence exchanges between the two countries. In 2011, following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit, the two countries decided to resume defence exchanges.

In December, 2011, the much awaited annual defence dialogue (ADD) took place between the two countries. But just recently, China once again created a controversy by objecting to defence minister A.K. Antony’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh.
City firm gives Indian army tanks an ‘all-seeing’ eye
In another bull’s eye for the city, a Bangalore-based electronics firm has developed a device which would soon make the Indian Army’s Arjun Main Battle Tank (MBT) an even more formidable weapon of war.
The indigenous Arjun tank, considered the finest third generation battle tank in the world, will soon be fitted with an ‘Automatic Video Tracker’, a device developed by Deepti Electronics and Electro-Optics Pvt Ltd (Delopt), Kanakapura Road. The device homes in on an enemy target and tracks it until it is destroyed.
Based on Line Replacement Units (LRUs) technique, a state-of-the-art technology, the tracker uses thermal technology to locate enemy tanks and vehicles. The device becomes the ‘eyes’ of the tank as it maintains a constant surveillance for potential targets. Once a target is detected, information is passed on to the gunner, who then launches a weapon to destroy the target. The entire process takes no more than a fraction of a second.
A prototype of the device was successfully tested on Arjun tanks in the Pokhran range, Rajasthan recently. A slightly modified version of the device will be handed over to the army in about a month’s time.
According to M R Sheshadri, director of Delopt, Arjun tanks are currentlyfitted with a manual thermal imager produced by a French company. It requires the navigator to constantly keep an eye on either the monitor or the view finder to locate enemy targets — a difficult process as both are on the move.

“By the time the information is passed on to the gunner, the target would have escaped,” Sheshadri, a former DRDO scientist, said. “With the thermal imager, the navigator can only track the enemy, but he cannot lock on to it for that perfect strike.”
Considering these drawbacks, the DRDO had called for tenders inviting firms to devise and manufacture a mechanism that would lock on to a target irrespective of its speed and location.
“Once the device locks on to a target, the commander can forget about it,” Sheshadri said. “The tracker will take care of the rest. It collects intelligence inputs like location, distance, range etc and in less than a few milliseconds output is sent to the gunner who then fires a missile to destroy the target. It has zero error. Unlike the earlier mechanism, with this device you can save personnel from fatigue. For instance, the tank commander can attend to some other duty while the tracker locks on to the target.”
An Arjun tank is operated by a four-member crew comprising a commander-cum-navigator, gunner, loader and driver.

While the tracker has been devised to primarily locate targets on land, it is capable of tracking air-borne threats as well.

“Whether the target is in the front or at the rear of the tank, the device can detect any enemy threat and lock on to it,” Sheshadri said. “During trials,
it detected fighter aircraft and missiles at a distance of 25 to 30 kms away. But for terrestrial targets, the army wanted us to limit it to 3km. Israel has also installed a commercial grade version of the product in their surveillance gadgets like air balloons etc. The defence grade has been made available only to the  DRDO ,” he said.
Although it can locate a number of targets, the tracker can lock on to only one target at a time. “We are working to incorporate multiple target engaging facility,” said Sheshadri, whose firm took five years to develop the tracker.

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