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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

From Today's Papers - 23 Oct 2012
US-Iran secret talks?
Showing signs of weariness

Despite denials by the US and Iran that there have been no secret negotiations between the two over the controversial nuclear programme of Tehran, something appears to be cooking involving the two countries. The New York Times report that the US and Iran have agreed “in principle” to hold one-on-one talks to end the Iranian nuclear crisis has come after the declaration by Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister in New Delhi that Iran is ready for a “peaceful settlement” of the nuclear issue provided the West recognises that Tehran has a right to a “peaceful nuclear programme” as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The minister went a little further to state that it was “very easy” to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

The change in the rhetoric both from Washington DC and Tehran should be viewed against the backdrop of the emerging reality in the two countries that have been at daggers drawn for a long time. There is growing unrest in Iran over the way the government in Tehran has handled the dispute, leading to the country’s economy shaking from its very foundations. On the other hand, the US does not want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, but it cannot afford to militarily engage Tehran. The US economic condition, a major issue in the campaign for the coming Presidential elections, does not allow the super power to go in for another military adventure after spending billions of dollars in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Afghanistan, the US has achieved a limited objective: it has eliminated Al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden by locating him in Pakistan, but the extremist Taliban movement remains as active as ever. After an unending long battle to throw the Taliban into the dustbin of history Washington has indirectly admitted that it cannot defeat the extremist movement. That is why the US has changed its Afghan strategy and is working on a solution which involves the Taliban as part of the ruling dispensation in Kabul. All this has, perhaps, resulted in the realisation in Washington DC that opening a new war front — in Iran — may lead to consequences unmanageable by the US.
Border dispute with China still far from settled

The scars of the 1962 conflict were too deep for India and historians acknowledge that the betrayal and defeat at the hands of China had largely hastened the demise of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Since the 1980s, India and China have attempted to resolve the border dispute through diplomatic negotiations but a solution remains a distant dream. China often claims that with the exception of its territorial disputes with India and Bhutan, it has resolved all its other land border disputes. It even claims to have given territorial concessions for resolving the disputes though it is debatable whether Beijing actually gave up territory or made any substantial concession to reach a border resolution agreement with any other country.

The McMahon Line boundary dispute is at the heart of relations between the two countries. The Chinese have made two major claims on what India deems its own territory. One claim, in the western sector, is on Aksai Chin in the northeastern section of Ladakh district in Jammu and Kashmir. The other claim is in the eastern sector over a region included in the British-designated North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA), which India renamed Arunachal Pradesh.

The first major agreement on maintaining peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the border areas was signed between the two countries in 1993. After more than thirty years of border tension and stalemate, high-level bilateral talks were held in New Delhi starting in February 1994 to foster "confidence-building measures" between the defence forces of India and China, and a new period of better relations began. In November 1995, the two sides dismantled the guard posts in close proximity to each other along the borderline in Wangdong area, making the situation in the border areas more stable. During President Jiang Zemin's visit to India at the end of November 1996, the two governments signed the Agreement on CBMs in the military field along the LAC, which was an important step for the building of mutual trust. These agreements provided an institutional framework for the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas.

During the Indian Prime Minister's visit to China in June 2003 India and China signed a Memorandum on Expanding Border Trade, which added Nathula as another pass on the border for conducting border trade. The Indian side agreed to designate Changgu in Sikkim as the venue for border trade market, while the Chinese side agreed to designate Renqinggang of the Tibet Autonomous Region as the venue for border trade market.

A landmark understanding was reached between the two sides in April 2005 when they signed an agreement on political settlement of the boundary issue, setting guidelines and principles. In the agreement, they affirmed their readiness to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary issue through equal and friendly negotiations.


However, they appear to have made only small gains in narrowing their differences over the alignment of the LAC along the 545-km long stretch in the former's central sector, covering the Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh boundaries with Tibet.

To accelerate and intensify the boundary negotiations, the two governments had in June 2003, during then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to Beijing, appointed Special Representatives (SRs) on both sides to give a political push to these talks. The SRs have so far held some 15 rounds of meetings but have not yet reported much progress in their negotiations. Every time they meet, the SRs issue a joint statement, talking more about the atmospherics than any productive outcome.

According to Debasish Chaudhuri, Associate Fellow at the Institute of China Studies, the SRs mechanism obviously is a healthy sign, reflecting the seriousness of the two countries to resolve the border dispute. He, however, feels that the SRs need to be more candid in sharing their perceptions with the public at large.

India has all along maintained that China return to it more than 40,000 sq km of Indian territory, including Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam Valley in Jammu and Kashmir, which China annexed during the 1962 war. The Indian Parliament had, in fact, passed a resolution that Shaksgam Valley, which Pakistan transferred to China as part of the 1963 Sino-Pakistan boundary agreement, be transferred back to India.

A meaningful step in confidence building can be achieved only when both India and China implement various agreements between them in letter and spirit. It appears that at present China is happy with the status quo as it gives it huge tracts of territory at strategic heights in Jammu and Kashmir and a foothold in South Asia. If ever, the Chinese-decision makers perceive India's growing stature as intended to contain China either independently or in alliance with countries like the US and Japan, they rake up the boundary issue to pressurise and contain India. Everyone knows that Chinese incursions into India in the late 1950s were inter alia influenced by their displeasure over Indo-Soviet proximity and Sino-Soviet tensions.

However, one would be doing grave injustice to both India and China if only negatives are to be reflected in their relations. They have taken some path-breaking confidence building measures (CBMs) which have withstood the vagaries of both nature and time.

Srikanth Kondapalli, a China expert at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), says the CBMs of 1993, 1996 and January 2012 have prevented a conflict between the two countries but not enhanced mutual trust. Both sides have stuck to their commitment and agreement of 1993 to maintain peace and tranquility along their border while developing friendly relations and strengthening cooperation in other fields. He acknowledges that the Sino-Indian border has been relatively peaceful unlike the India-Pakistan border.

Kondapalli is of the view that unresolved border issue triggers suspicions between India and China. However, there is no quick-fix solution for this since the border issue is not going to be resolved any time soon.

Three substantive steps

During the past decade, the two countries have taken at least three substantive steps to intensify efforts to resolve the border dispute. The first step was that India accepted Tibet as an autonomous region of China while China recognised Sikkim as a state of the Indian Union. The second step was an agreement on political parameters and guiding principles on the India-China border dispute and the third was the appointment of SRs.

Under the current circumstances, the two governments continue to work on the settlement of the border dispute while peace, stability and tranquility in border areas have remained unlike the Indo-Pak border. No armed conflicts or even skirmishes have happened although the media, particularly on the Indian side, has played up noises of China's incursions into India's territory. But even top Indian officials have gone on record to say that the over 4,000-km Sino-Indian border has been one of the most peaceful ones in the past decades.

China, for its part, still lays claim to most of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it asserts is part of Tibet and since 2007 has referred to the area as "South Tibet." Similarly, while India has acknowledged China's sovereignty over Tibet, it has not changed its stance on the McMahon Line as the boundary.

A working mechanism

The two countries have also established a working mechanism for consultation and coordination on the boundary issue, which would study ways and means to conduct and strengthen exchanges and cooperation between military personnel and establishments of the two sides in the border areas.

However, the most significant CBM in India-China relations has been the burgeoning trade relationship between the two Asian giants. In fact, the trade relationship has been seen in both countries as a crucial driver of the overall bilateral ties.

The China experts believe that the SRs on the two sides are both sharp minds of the diplomatic arena. Let them take their time but they must remain focussed and expedite a solution. Putting contentious issues on the backburner in the interest of economic relations is a wise diplomatic move for both countries but let's not allow this strategy to outlive its utility.

Framework for settlement
The three-stage process conceived to resolve the Sino-Indian boundary dispute involves

I) Agreement in principle
II) Laying out a framework for settlement
III) Defining the boundary line

India and China are presently at the  second stage of the process.

In 2005, India and China agreed on the following political parameters and guiding principles:

* The differences on the boundary question should not be allowed to affect the overall development of bilateral relations.

* The two sides will resolve the boundary question through peaceful and friendly consultations, without use of force by any means.

* The boundary settlement must be final, covering all sectors of the India-China boundary.

* The two sides will give due consideration to each other's strategic and reasonable interests, and the principle of mutual and equal security.

* Historical evidence, national sentiments, practical difficulties and reasonable concerns and sensitivities of both sides, and the actual state of border areas will be taken into account.

* The two sides shall safeguard due interests of their settled populations in the border areas.

from war to dialogue
1988 Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visits China, the first PM to China in 34 years. Both countries agree to set up a joint working group to settle the boundary issue.

1991    Chinese Premier Li Peng visits India and pledges to resolve the boundary question through friendly consultations.

1993 Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao visits China. Agreement on Border Peace and Tranquility signed and India-China Expert Group of Diplomatic and Military Officers to assist the work in Joint Working Group set up.

1995    India and China agree to pull back their troops on the Sumdorong Chu Valley in the eastern sector.

1996    Chinese President Jiang Zemin visits India. Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the military field.

1997    India-China Joint Working Group exchanges instruments of ratification on CBMs.

1998    India officially announces talks with China on the reopening of the Ladakh-Kailash-Mansarovar route.

1999    China displays neutrality on the Kargil conflict. Agrees to establish a security mechanism with India.

2000    India and China initiate the first ever bilateral security dialogue on global and regional issues of mutual interest. Military exchanges resume.

2002    Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji visits India.

2003    Special Representative level talks for political resolution of boundary issue.

2005    Chinese premier Wen Jiabao visits India. Agreements on political parameters and guiding principals for settling boundary issue and on implementation of CBMs in the military field. Major liberalisation of air links between India and China.

2006    India and China re-open Nathu La Pass in Sikkim for trade after 44 years.

2007    China denies a visa to a government official from Arunachal Pradesh claiming that it is part of Chinese territory.

2009    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits China. Bilateral trade surpasses $50 billion and China becomes India's largest trading partner in goods. The same year China expresses "strong dissatisfaction" on Manmohan Singh's visit to the "disputed area" of Arunachal Pradesh.

2010    India cancels defence exchanges with China after top Indian army officer is denied a visa because he was posted in Jammu and Kashmir.

2012    Agreement on a working mechanism for consultation and coordination on boundary affairs. Chinese defence minister Gen Liang Guang Lie visits India
China’s new ambitions in Pakistan occupied Kashmir
Arun Joshi

Unlike the Line of Control or LoC with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, there is no thrill on the Line of Actual Control with China in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. There are simply cold realities that India suffered a humiliating defeat in 1962 war with China, and China occupied 38,000 sq kms of the Indian territory in the cold desert region of the state -- the only state in the country having borders with two countries, China and Pakistan.
If what happened 50 years ago is one reality, another equally chilling reality is that Chinese troops continue to intrude into Indian territory in the most dramatic style. Sometime their choppers violate Indian airspace and land on Indian territory and PLA troops demolish Indian bunkers, asserting in symbols that the area belongs to them. On other occasions, they walk deep into the Indian side, stop developmental works: holding out threats to the workers constructing roads or those engaged in construction of the irrigation project.

The Indian army tends to dismiss these intrusions as transgressions in a bid to suggest that it is a part of the game on the borders which the two sides play quite often. An interesting argument forwarded is that since the Indian media is free, these incidents get reported. The other side is having a controlled media, hence no report of “our going to their side ever appears”.

This may be a self-consolation for the Indian army that is deployed alongside the Indo-Tibetan Border Police along the 646-km long LAC, but the factor underlined by the Indian army, after the international media reported that 11,000 Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) men are in Gilgit- Baltistan , which essentially is part of undivided Jammu and Kashmir, is that the PLA presence in PoK is a “grave security threat to India.”

On the strategic map of the Indian Army commanders, a scenario for 2020 envisages wherein India is under attack from the two nuclear powered neighbours. “This is a real possibility”, according to former GOC-in-C, Northern Command, Lt Gen B S Jaswal. He had told this reporter in January 2010 that India should be prepared for all this.

The architecture of cooperation that exists between China and Pakistan is emerging as a major threat to India. This is a genuine concern as far as India is concerned because of the one major factor that China has changed its tune toward India’s assertion of its sovereignty in Jammu and Kashmir. It is no longer a position where Beijing would stay neutral vis-à-vis the Himalayan state.

The issue of stapled visas

Not only did it start issuing stapled visas to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, underlining what it called the disputed status of the state -- an echo of the line that Pakistan has been airing all along. It runs contrary to the silence that China had maintained during the conflict of Kargil in 1999, when covert intrusion of Pakistan in the trans-Himalayan heights was pushed back by the Indian Army.

China had given its silent endorsement to the American and Indian assertions that the sanctity of the Line of Control had to be maintained at all costs. China also had refused to intervene on behalf of Pakistan or support its contention that it were the Kashmiri insurgents who were behind the intrusion and the war at the Himalayan heights.

This point was also underscored by an American think tank, Heritage Foundation. It had observed in its report: “China’s Indian Provocations Part of Broader Trend”. The report was released in 2010.

In the backdrop of the reports of the presence of 7,000 to 11,000 Chinese troops in the Pakistan’s Northern Areas and Gilgit–Baltistan, and Beijing’s denial of visa to Gen Jaswal, the report made a forceful plea to the Obama administration to “collaborate more closely with India on initiatives that strengthen economic development and democratic trends in the region and work with India to counter any Chinese moves that could potentially undermine such trends in order to ensure the peaceful, democratic development of South Asia.”

The report, written by Dean Cheng and Lisa Curtis, experts on China and South Asia respectively, also suggested that Washington should “cooperate with India respectively in matching increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region.”

The two experts had also taken note of Beijing’s observations about the state, claiming parts with Pakistan as Pakistan’s Northern Areas, while the part with India as “Indian controlled Kashmir”.

Beijing’s latest stand on J&K is a shift in its position adopted during the Kargil conflict in 1999, when it had persuaded Islamabad to withdraw its troops from the Indian side of the Line of Control. It is a reference to then Beijing position that Pakistan should “respect sanctity of the LoC”.

“China may be returning to a position of reflexively supporting Pakistan on Kashmir. Since the 1999 Kargil border conflict between India and Pakistan, Beijing’s position on Kashmir seemed to be evolving toward a more neutral position,” the report said.

The Siachen link

Pakistan had committed a diplomatically audacious act that China should be involved in resolving the issue of Siachen glacier, the highest battle ground in the world. It was during the 12th round of talks between the defence secretaries in May 2011 that Pakistan had handed over a non-paper to the Indian delegation in which it was argued that since China is in control of Shaksgam Valley, originally part of Jammu and Kashmir, which Pakistan had ceded to China in 1963, so Beijing should be involved in the future talks on the glacier.

This suggestion was instantly rejected by the Indian delegation as absurd.

The Pakistani delegation was told in clear terms that such a suggestion was not only unacceptable but also can cast shadow on the future talks on the glacier.

“China has no standing on the glacier, Pakistan is playing a big mischief and has further reinforced our point that it is not sincere in its intentions,” a senior officer of the army told this writer. The China- Pakistan nexus already has presented a worrying scenario for the Indian Army.

The Northern Command chief, Lt Gen K.T. Parnaik, while talking of this nexus, said that the presence of “Chinese troops in Gilgit , Baltistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir was a worrying scenario for the Indian army.”

General Jaswal asserted, “As a military man, I say that we should not make any concessions because that could prove very costly as, given the Pakistani- China nexus, China can walk straight there. That’s unacceptable. And we should not concede that line, come what may.”

Now this view is finding an echo in the Indian Army circles which are reviewing the whole strategic puzzle that Siachen presents in the light of the “involve-China” argument of Pakistan.
India should match China's defence power: BJP MP
Mumbai: India should learn lessons from the 1962 Indo-China war and relook at its defence preparedness in respect to the neighbouring country, BJP MP Tarun Vijay said on Monday.

"As the country observes 50th year of the Chinese invasion, India needs to relook at its defence preparedness in respect to China," Vijay, the Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, said.

Stressing that India should match the neighbouring country in military might, he said "Friendship can be lasting if the engagement is between two equally powerful partners. China should be made aware that the scars it inflicted on Indian psyche are hard to be erased."

Vijay demanded that the government tell the nation as to where it stands as compared with Chinese military might.

The BJP leader said India should take up the issue of presence of People's Liberation Army (PLA) personnel in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

"PoK is constitutionally and legally a part of India. The country should protest the presence of foreign armed forces on its soil at the international fora," he said and accused the government of not standing up to China's aggressive postures, calling it "spineless".

During his visit to Milam glacier in Uttarakhand, Vijay said he found ITBP forces have to walk 105 km to reach the borders while Chinese troops have motored roads to ferry their personnel to the border.

In Ladakh's Pangong lake, China has 22 state-of-art mechanised patrol boats while India has two old ones, he said.

"The border villages are facing unprecedented exodus towards cities. These are dangerous signals for the Army as the locals are their ground support during crisis," he said.

Vijay demanded that the border villages be declared as special defence areas and budget should be allocated for their development. He claimed that the NDA government had ambitious programme of constructing border roads and tenders were also issued, but in the last eight years there has been no progress.

Vijay said there is concern over the manner in which "China was encircling" India in PoK, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives. "Do we have an answer to counter this?" he asked.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE
1st Indian-Malaysian Exercise Ends This Week
NEW DELHI —Conventional war in an urban setting, including counterterrorism and counterinsurgency activities, is the focus of Harimau Shakti, the first-ever joint exercise between the Indian and Malaysian militaries, an Indian Army official said.

For the two-week exercise, which ends Oct. 23, India has sent two dozen officers from its Eastern Command to Kuala Lumpur. They will visit Malaysian Army formations at various locations.

Malaysian Army officers will come to India for a joint counterinsurgency war game at the Indian Army’s Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School.

As part of its “look east” policy, India has increased its strategic ties with Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. India and Malaysia first signed a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation in 1992.

The two countries’ air forces enjoy advanced relations. A team of Indian Air Force pilots and technicians recently spent two years in Malaysia to train Malaysian military pilots, weapon system operators and maintenance staff in the operation of their Russian-built Su-30MKM fighter jets. India also helped Malaysia set up a systems school for the Su-30MKM at Gong Kedak Air Base.
Infy hires ex-defence personnel in US to win govt orders
Firm's US arm employs 200 people, has inked 40 deals in just 8 months
Infosys, India’s second largest IT services company is banking on ex-defence personnel in the US to staff its subsidiary which works in the highly-sensitive government and healthcare segments in the country.

Majority of the employees of Infosys’s US subsidiary, Infosys Public Services, are ex-army and marine personnel who help in enhancing the credibility to bag projects sponsored by the national and state governments in the US. They also help the company in getting various security clearances faster what civilians might find quite difficult.
“While all the employees of Infosys Public Services are based out of the US, a significant chunk of them are ex-military personnel. They get security clearances required to work for various government projects faster than normal civilians even though we don’t do any defence works in the US,” said Ashok Vemuri, Head of Americas who is also in the board of Infosys Public Services.

For example, Eric Paternoster, CEO and President of Infosys Public Services (IPS) is a former Army captain who led infantry units in Korea and the US before joining the corporate world.

Infosys Public Services (IPS) was set up as a subsidiary of the Bangalore-based company in late 2011. However, the subsidiary started hiring and ramping up only towards the beginning of the fiscal year after obtaining the necessary approvals from the US government. The company which employs about 200 people has signed about 40 contracts with the US government and federal states in a span of just eight months.

In the quarter ended September 30, 2012, Infosys Public Services reported revenues of $24.88 million even though it is yet to start making profit.

Both government and healthcare are big areas of opportunities for Indian IT services companies. However, the laws in certain US states prohibit taking sensitive information to offshore locations thereby limiting the ability of the Indian IT services players to participate in those contracts. Similarly, healthcare service is also controlled by various government restrictions in the US.

Infosys which derives close to 64 per cent of its revenues from North America is also ramping up its headcount in the US. The company expects to hire about 2,000 people in the US by the end of 2012 as against about 1,200 last year.

In order to step up the hiring process in the country, Infosys has now aligned the hiring process with the industry verticals. Besides, in some of the newer contracts, Infosys is giving options to the employees of the clients to join the company.

“We are doing more and more deals which have a rebadging element. If you take the Harley-Davidson deal, we have given an option as per which their employees can interview with us if they desire to seek a job,” said Vemuri.

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