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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

From Today's Papers - 25 Jul 2012
Finally, coastal radars in place
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, July 24
Almost four years after 10 Lashkar men sailed into Mumbai to expose India’s lack of preparedness, the first set of shore-based radars is ready and functioning. These powerful long-range radars can spot even small boats and instantly beam information to ground-based controllers in Maharashtra and Gujarat in the form of live pictures.

The first two of the 46 radars that are to be installed all along the coast under a Rs 602-crore project are ready and being tested along the West Coast. A formal inauguration by Defence Minister AK Antony is likely in a few days, sources say.

The remaining 44 radars will come up soon and will be integrated with each other, thus covering the entire 7,500-km Indian coastline. The island territories of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshwadeep will also get such radars as these lie very close to the international sea lanes of communication (SLOCS). More than 80 per cent of Indian trade takes place through the sea route.

As soon as any rogue ships is seen approaching the Indian coast, ground-based controllers will pass on the information to the authorities concerned that will arrange for sending a chopper, a plane, a UAV or a warship to probe further.

Installing coastal radars is a top priority, especially after a high-level review carried out by Antony last year when he was shocked to find that nothing had moved in the radar installation process initiated by the government following the Mumbai attacks.

The radars will beam information to joint-operation centres at Mumbai, Kochi, Vishakhapatnam and Port Blair. The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard man these centres. Following the Mumbai attacks, the Navy was made overall in charge of the coastal security.

A decision to have a chain of radars all along the coast was cleared in February 2001 by a group of ministers. The requirements kept changing for the next few years, without the radars ever getting installed. The project was revived after the Mumbai attacks.

The DG, Lighthouses, under the Ministry of Shipping, has been tasked to fit these radars atop existing lighthouses.

26/11 follow-up

46 radars will be installed all along the 7,500-km Indian coastline at a cost of Rs 602 crore

The first two such radars have been installed and made functional

A formal inauguration by Defence Minister AK Antony is likely in a few days

The powerful long-range radars can spot even small boats and instantly beam information to ground-based controllers in Maharashtra and Gujarat
Krishna to visit Pak from Sept 7
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, July 24
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will pay a three-day visit to Pakistan from September 7 to review progress in the second round of the dialogue process with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar.

“India had suggested (to Pakistan) September 7-9 as the dates for the visit…these dates now stand confirmed,” MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters.

Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal met Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani in Islamabad yesterday and discussed preparations for Krishna’s visit. The visit was earlier scheduled to take place on July 17-18, but Krishna had to postpone it in view of the presidential election in India on July 19.

Krishna and Khar will review the talks held between the two sides on all outstanding issues in the dialogue process, which was resumed last year after a gap of more than two years in the wake of Mumbai attacks. They are also expected to prepare framework for the third round of the resumed dialogue.

During his stay in Islamabad, Krishna is expected to call on President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and some key political leaders, including PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and PML-Q leader Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain. Following the resumption of the dialogue process, India and Pakistan have made significant progress in normalising trade relations.

Islamabad recently switched to a negative-list regime for trade with Delhi, paving the way for giving India the status by the end of this year.


    To review second round of bilateral dialogue process with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar
    Expected to prepare framework for the third round of the resumed dialogue
    Krishna is likely to meet Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and PM Raja Pervez Ashraf
All over South China Sea
Beijing asserts to protect its interests
by Harsh V. Pant

AS was expected, there was no movement on the contentious South China Sea dispute at the ASEAN summit held in Phnom Penh a few days back. But what was striking was the fact that the looming shadow of China prevented the meeting from even issuing a joint statement for the first time in the organisation’s 45-year history. China succeeded in playing divide and rule politics, thereby ensuring that the dispute remains a bilateral matter between Beijing and individual rival claimants. As a consequence, the waters of the South China Sea will not be calm any time soon.

At a time of domestic political transition, China is embroiled in a range of disputes with its neighbours. Conflict in the region has the potential to disrupt global trade flows. The South China Sea waterways carry around half of the world’s total trade and are claimed in whole or part by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. Proven and undiscovered oil resources in the South China Sea are estimated to be as high as 213 billion barrels. Fears have been rising in Asia that China is seeking to use its growing maritime might to dominate not only the hydrocarbon-rich waters of the South China Sea but also its crucial shipping lanes, the lifeline of regional economies.

The Philippines and Vietnam, in particular, have been raising concerns about China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. The Philippine President, Benigni Aquino III, has even suggested that he may ask the US to deploy spy planes over the South China Sea to help monitor disputed waters in the region. The impasse between China and the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal, which started when Philippine naval vessels discovered Chinese fishing boats in a lagoon of the Shoal, shows no signs of abating with China refusing to remove its fishing boats from the Shoal.

Just weeks back, the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) opened nine blocks for exploration in waters. The state-run Chinese media has been very vocal about states like the Philippines and Vietnam asking Beijing to “teach them an unforgettable lesson when it is time to hit back”.

Japan has also asked China to clarify its maritime claims. Though Japan may not have a direct stake in the dispute, it has increasingly taken a proactive role in the dispute. Tokyo remains worried about the implications of China’s assertiveness in South China Sea for its own dispute with China in East China Sea. The manner in which South China Sea issue gets resolved will have significant implications for maritime conflicts in the region and beyond.

China blocked efforts to resolve long-running tensions over claims in the disputed South China Sea, warning participants at the ASEAN summit that it is “crucial” they leave the issue out of their discussions. The US had been hoping that ASEAN member states would work on developing a code of conduct for activities in the sea to ensure future disagreements are resolved amicably and has been pushing the ASEAN nations to unify around a legally binding code of conduct based in international maritime law as a means of managing disputes and cultivating ASEAN as a partner in engaging China.

Despite agreeing to draft a code of conduct almost a decade back, there has been little movement towards completion primarily because of China’s position that disagreements should be settled on a bilateral rather than a multilateral basis. China has refused to discuss the South China Sea dispute with ASEAN as a group because they want to negotiate on a one-to-one basis where they are much bigger than any individual Southeast Asian country and they can bully their interlocutors seriatim. But there is a clear need to stress the importance of principles such as the freedom of navigation, respect for international law and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea.

By putting up for global bidding a Vietnamese petroleum block under exploration by an Indian oil company China has forced India into a diplomatic logjam. Not surprisingly, India was very vocal about its concerns at the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Cambodia demanding “access to resources in accordance with principles of international law”. New Delhi, which so often likes to sit on margins, can no longer afford the luxury of inaction if it wants to preserve its credibility as a significant actor in East and Southeast Asia. China’s assertiveness is no good news for the region but it should be particularly troubling for India.

Beijing’s rapidly rising defence expenditure, its expansive maritime sovereignty claims, its aggressive behaviour pursuing them, its support for states such as North Korea and Pakistan, and its non-transparent military build-up all raise questions about its willingness to act as a responsible stakeholder in the region. How to manage China’s rise and mould its behaviour will be one of the biggest diplomatic challenges facing New Delhi in the coming years. Many in India argue that given the high stakes that China and India have in each other’s economies, conflict between the two is highly unlikely. But as tensions in the South China Sea exemplify, economic interdependence has never really been an antidote to conflict. New Delhi should watch China’s behaviour closely and learn due lessons in dealing with the rising dragon in its vicinity.
Assam toll 32, Army called out
The situation in Kokrajhar and two adjoining districts turned from bad to worse on Tuesday with the death toll rising to 32, while more than 1.70 lakh people have fled their homes to take shelter in relief camps. The Assam government called out the Army to bring the situation under control.

Confirming this, Assam Home Secretary G D Tripathi said the clearance from the Defence Ministry to deploy the Army in internal security mode finally came in the evening. “The Army has started moving out to dominate the areas and instil a sense of security among the people,” Tripathi said. He said violence increased “by leaps and bounds” during the day, spreading to newer areas not only within Kokrajhar district but also to adjoining Chirang and Dhubri districts. This had happened despite an indefinite curfew.

Shambhu Singh, Joint Secretary (Northeast) in the Union Home Ministry, will be touring some of the violence-affected areas on Wednesday. Assam DGP J N Choudhury, who toured Kokrajhar on Tuesday, said it would take three-four days to bring the situation fully under control.

Even as the riots raged unabated, there was a clamour for adequate security forces from all sides — the Bodos, Muslims, Hindus — in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Council area and its surrounding districts.

“It is difficult to keep a count of the relief camps now, it is breeding at such a fast rate,” said Majendra Narzary, the MLA representing Gossaigaon. “These are no proper relief camps but locations where people from Bodo and Muslim families have congregated to escape death,” said Narzary.

Jahanuddin, MLA from Assam United Democratic Front, echoed Narzary. “No community is sparing the other in a conflagration unseen before. What has acted as an impetus is the total lack of security forces,” he said. The MLA went on a recce of his constituency and said, “If one camp has sheltered 16,000 Bodos in Chapar, bordering Dhubri and Kokrajkhar districts, Gohaingaon at a distance would be having 10,000 Muslims. There are such unending number of camps and with inadequate forces any attack could end in a worst carnage.”

Kokrajhar SP S N Singh said, “Over 1,000 villages have been affected by rioting. The peculiarity of the villages — scattered in small helmets, one far away from the other — are making them easy, soft targets for rioters.”

Kokrajhar town has been put under curfew and shoot-at-sight orders. Administration sources said the police firing today was to warn rioters that shoot-at-sight order was not to be taken lightly.

The communication network too has taken a hit. Kokrajhar continued to be largely cut off. From West Bengal, one could only go upto Coochbehar, barring the few trains escorted through the dangerous terrain with security forces.

Abdur Rehman of Barpeta Road in Assam had a night of terror as the Howrah-bound train he was travelling in was stopped at Kokrajhar for 10 hours.

Four coaches of the Guwahati-bound Rajdhani Express were damaged when miscreants armed with match boxes and other weapons attacked it at 9 am on Tuesday. The train was moved back to New Coochbehar.
India bolsters western front with fighters, radars and IAF-Army operational synergy
NEW DELHI: India may now be focusing more on the eastern front with China, but it has not forgotten the western one. New bases of its most potent fighter as well as advanced sensor units have come up along the border with Pakistan, even as IAF and Army build composite land-air war-fighting machinery for all contingencies in the western theatre.

Squadrons of Sukhoi-30MKI "air dominance'' fighters, now permanently based in Jodhpur (Rajasthan) and Halwara (Punjab), are "fully-operational'' and integrated with the "order of battle'' on the western front, say sources.

Similarly, the first two nodes of IACCS (integrated air command and control system) are operational in the western sector to make airspace more impregnable to hostile threats. The nodes integrate older sensors like THD-1955 long-range surveillance radars with newer ones like ATCR-22, Rohini and medium-power radars as well as Aerostats and Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) to plug gaps in the country's air defence cover.

Defence minister A K Antony on Tuesday also held a top-level review of the security scenario and military infrastructure build-up along the western and eastern fronts with national security advisor Shivshankar Menon, defence secretary Shashikant Sharma and the three Service chiefs - Admiral Nirmal Verma, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne and General Bikram Singh. Antony is also slated to visit Jammu and Kashmir this weekend to review the operational situation along the Line of Control (LoC).

India till recently had based its Sukhois - IAF so far has inducted around 160 of the 272 fighters contracted from Russia in deals worth Rs 55,717 crore - only in Pune and Bareilly, which were followed by Tezpur and Chabua in Assam to cater for the threat from China.

The need to base them in Jodhpur and Halwara was felt to take on the Pakistan challenge, especially since older MiG-21s and MiG-23BNs were being progressively phased out. ``With Pakistan acquiring American F-16s and Chinese JF-17 `Thunder' jets, the induction of Sukhois (which have a cruising speed range of 3,200-km) there will act as a strong deterrent against any misadventure,'' said a source.

The Army, too, is strengthening its capabilities on the western front by "optimising offensive and defensive formations with minimum accretions'' since the raising of the new mountain strike corps and other formations for the north-east are geared towards countering China.

Towards this, operational synergy and coordination between IAF's Western Air Command, which controls air operations over 400,000 sq km stretching from Ladakh till Bikaner, and three Army commands - Northern (Udhampur), Western (Chandimandir) and South-Western (Jaipur) - has also been stepped up.

``This ensures optimal utilization of resources, real-time sharing of information and fine-tuning of operational plans. Western Air Command chief Air Marshal Arup Raha and Western Army Command chief Lt-Gen Sanjeev Chachra, for instance, discussed operational jointness in detail earlier this month,'' added an official.
Army to hold Kargil war victory celebrations on Wednesday
Drass: The Indian Army will mark the 13th anniversary of its victory in the 1999 Kargil war with a series of events, spread over the next two days, at the war memorial in Drass sub-sector of Kargil region in Jammu and Kashmir.

The two-day commemoration - which begins on Wednesday - will include a wreath laying ceremony at the war memorial, sainik samelan (soldiers meet), memorial service and band display.

The popular musical trio Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy will also perform a stage show as part of the anniversary commemoration, Army officials in charge of organising the events here said.
Army to hold Kargil war victory celebrations on Wednesday

Kargil war, which began in May 1999, lasted for more than two months before Pakistani soldiers, a bulk of them drawn from its Northern Light Infantry, and irregulars withdrew from the mountain tops they had occupied overlooking the Srinagar-Leh highway.

In the battles with the Pakistani forces and irregulars, the Indian Army lost 490 officers, soldiers and jawans, many of whom were posthumously felicitated with gallantry awards.

Drass War Memorial, which has been built in the foothills of Tololing Hill, will host most of the ceremonies scheduled for the next two days.

General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Army's Northern Command Lt Gen KT Parnaik and MP Naveen Jindal will be the chief guests at the anniversary events.

Widows and relatives of the soldiers who lost their lives in Kargil, Mushkok, Batalik and Drass will also be present at the events, army officials said.

The major events, which include wreath laying, a memorial service and the stage show by the Bollywood trio, are scheduled for Thursday.

Drass town, 150 kms from the summer capital Srinagar, was a major battle zone in the summer of 1999 and rose to its fame in the aftermath of the war for being associated with Tiger Hill and Tololing Hill, which were also stages for many Bollywood films.
Corruption in armed forces: How extensive is the rot?
Is it possible to be patriotic and corrupt at the same time? Or is the badge of patriotism the perfect sham for a deeply entrenched culture of corruption that is gnawing at the innards of the Indian armed forces, more than million-plus personnel in strength?

What are the long term implications of such a culture of corruption and to what extent will it impact the national security of a nation as vast and complicated as India?

These are the issues that have been thrown up following a series of corruption cases involving top officials of the armed forces and the defence establishment, the latest one relating to the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla (Pune).

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) busted a recruitment scam at the NDA. Reuters.

Not long ago, the brazenness of corruption in the Indian armed forces was revealed rather dramatically in March 2012 by the then army chief General VK Singh. He had alleged that a former officer-turned-arms lobbyist had offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore to approve the purchase of 600 sub-standard vehicles. A month later, Gen  Singh named Lt Gen (Retd) Tejinder Singh as the person who had offered him the bribe and in retaliation, Lt Gen Singh filed a defamation case against the ex-army chief.

Gen Singh said he was stunned when told while being offered the bribe and that “people had taken money before me and they will take money after me”.

While this episode was among the most shameful for the nation, the case at the NDA has been deeply saddening. Last month, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) busted a recruitment scam at the NDA which led to the arrest of two serving colonels among eight persons. Defence Minister AK Antony ordered the immediate shifting of NDA Commandant Lt Gen. Jitendra Singh to ensure a free and fair probe into the case.

According to the CBI, the scam involved recruitment of class IV employees at the NDA and, apart from incriminating evidence such as lists of candidates, and those who had paid bribes, the CBI said it had recovered Rs 1.76 crore in cash.

The NDA is among the premier defence training institutions of the country which, through a rigorous, three-year training programme, transforms a carefully-selected batch of cadets into smart military officers of the Indian armed forces. Many of these go on to serve the nation selflessly without hesitating to lay down their lives in the call of duty. What example is the defence establishment setting before them when even their own hallowed institution is tainted by corruption?

Corruption in the civilian and military wings of the defence forces is largely prevalent in arms and supplies procurement, land-related issues and the MES, or the Military Engineering Services.

Whether it is the mother-of-all-scams – the Bofors deal – which involved kickbacks of an estimated Rs 66 crore, Tehelka’s Operation West End or the latest war room leak case involving high profile arms dealer Abhishek Verma,  arms procurement scams have revealed a well-entrenched nexus between arms dealers and serving and retired officials in the defence ministry, with or without political links. The HDW submarine case of the 1980s, the Israeli Barak missiles purchase case and Gen VK Singh’s allegations about a bribe offer of Rs 14 crore, all fall in this category.

Last month, Defence Minister AK Antony promised a serious follow-up of a probe ordered by the Italian government into allegations that a commission of more than Rs 350 crore was paid by helicopter manufacturer Augusta Westland to a Swiss-consultant to sell 12 VVIP helicopters to India.

In the naval war room leak case, arms dealer Abhishek Verma was arrested by the CBI for trying to bribe government officers to get a Swiss defence firm off the blacklist of the defence ministry. According to a report in The Indian Express, he is suspected to have penetrated senior levels in the government and secured confidential files relating to the air force’s acquisition plans for 2009-10 and 2011-12. Verma used a network of senior retired and serving defence officials and among those arrested and later released on bail were two ex-naval commanders and a retired IAF wing commander.

Defence analysts point out that India imports as much as 70 percent of its defence requirements and this is one of the reasons why arms dealers are flourishing in the country. In the decade after Kargil, India spent $50 billion on defence purchases and was projected to spend over $100 billion in the current decade. During 2007-11, India was the biggest importer of arms accounting for 10 percent of global arms imports. The nation’s defence budget for 2012-13 stood at Rs1.93 lakh crore.

Another huge source of corruption in the defence establishment comes from the manipulation of land records and irregularities in land deals with the connivance of defence and civilian officials to benefit unscrupulous builders and politicians. The Sukna land scam, revolving around the illegal transfer of 71 acres of land adjacent to the Sukna military station near Siliguri, West Bengal, to a private educational trust led to the sensational dismissal of former Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash. Prior to that, Lt Gen PK Rath was punished in the same case.

In Mumbai’s Adarsh Housing Society scam, former defence officials indicted by the CBI include Brig (Retd) MM Wanchoo, retired defence estate officer RC Thakur, Maj Gen (Retd) AR Kumar and Maj Gen (Retd) TK Kaul, all accused with criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and various sections under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988.

Former IAS officer Sanjeev Sablok writes on his website that corruption in the Military Engineering Services (MES) has been “as entrenched as in the PWD” even before the Bofors scam.

The somewhat rising frequency of corruption scams in the defence forces has undoubtedly eroded the public image of the Indian armed forces. In a 12 July article in the Indian Defence Review, former Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Harwant Singh noted that although the military has been “quick to deal firmly with abrasions” such as cases of corruption, this is not enough.

As he observed, “Senior leadership in the military no more insists on setting good and enviable standards of conduct for juniors to follow. A few, at the very top, have faltered and fallen prey to greed. As the higher rank officers climbed into what is called ‘five star culture,’ quite distinct from what fits in the military’s way of life, lower down the ladder some junior rank officers slid down to levels unacceptable for the officer class.”

Adding to this is the sharp decline in the attractiveness of a career in the military, where, even after lowering recruitment standards, the army continues to remain short of over 12,000 officers.

To what extent has the much-admired image of the Indian armed forces – as a highly disciplined, honest and professional body – turned into a myth? Lt Gen Harwant Singh cautions that the “officer cadre is the very soul of an army and mainspring of the whole mechanism. Any fall in their standard will sure lead to failures during war.”

Officers serve, not for their meagre emoluments but for the love of their country and on the off chance of being able to defend it with their lives. If the intelligent youth hold aloof from the army we ought not to complain if we are not properly led in war.”
Defence Ministry gives nod to purchase 56 AVERO aircrafts for Army
New Delhi: In order to fulfill the requirement of the Indian Air Force, Defence Ministry has given its nod to purchase 56 Avro aircrafts for the Army. Defence procurement council headed by the Minister AK Antony has inked the deal worth Rs 12 thousand crore.

Initially 16 aircrafts will be purchased out of 56 planes, while in the second phase 16 planes will be bought which 30 percent components will be developed in India.

When asked about keeping the deal out of HAL ambit, sources said that there is already enough work load on the public limited company which is responsible for manufacturing fighter planes like MIG and Sukhoi.

The deal would also give chance to indigenous companies to prosper.

Also requirement of replacing age old AVERO aircrafts with new ones was being felt since a long time.

Remarkably, AVERO planes are capable of transporting army goods weighing approximately 8 tonnes.

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