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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 06 Aug 2013
Chinese daily questions India’s motives on Bhutan
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, August 5
While Beijing officially remained quiet over the recent tension between India and Bhutan over the withdrawal of subsidy on gas and kerosene, it used a Communist Party of China (CPC) organ to question New Delhi’s policy with regard to the tiny Himalayan nation.

“India won’t allow Bhutan to freely engage in diplomacy with China and solve the border issue. Besides, India will continue its stance on the Sino-Indian border dispute and strengthen its strategic posture,’’ the Global Times said in a commentary.

Written by Lio Zongyi, a scholar from a state-run think tank, the commentary said the timing of India’s subsidy withdrawal suggested that it wanted to influence Bhutan’s election results. ‘’Why did India, which is proud of being the largest democratic country in the world, venture to interference in Bhutan’s elections,’’ it asked.

Observing that in the 21st century when concepts like ‘protectorates’ and ‘client states’ had become outdated, the article said due to India’s influence on the election process in Bhutan, the wish of depending on democracy to maintain the sovereignty of Bhutan’s royal family and its political elites had become a failure.

The commentary also talked about former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s meeting with former Bhutan Prime Minister Jigme Yoser Thinley in June 2012 when Beijing expressed readiness to forge formal diplomatic relations with Thimphu. It also recalled that in August 2012, former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Fu Ying had visited Thimphu to discuss the establishment of diplomatic relations with Bhutan, which aroused great concerns in New Delhi.

The commentary claimed that former Indian Ambassador to Bhutan Pavan K Verma was forced to resign due to his failure to prevent Bhutan from developing relations with China. ‘’The withdrawal of subsidies before Bhutan’s elections reflected that India never gives up its power politics which it does not need to,’’ it added.

‘Influencing’ poll results

    Written by Lio Zongyi, a scholar from a state-run think tank, an article in the daily said the timing of India's subsidy withdrawal suggested that it wanted to influence Bhutan's election results
    India won't allow Bhutan to freely engage in diplomacy with China and solve the border issue, it said
    The article said due to India's influence on the election process in Bhutan, the wish of depending on democracy to maintain the sovereignty of Bhutan's royal family and its political elites had become a failure
    The commentary also talked about former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's meeting with former Bhutan Prime Minister Jigme Yoser Thinley in June 2012 when Beijing expressed readiness to forge formal diplomatic relations with Thimphu
Military equipment with ‘made in India’ stamp set to make a splash
SELF-RELIANCE Will reduce India’s dependence on foreign countries
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, August 5
Over the next few months, military equipment built indigenously will make its debut unhinging India from expensive imports and indicating a small step towards self-reliance. After years of struggle and perseverance, the Light Combat Aircraft, the Tejas, will join the Indian Air Force fleet at the end of this year.

This will not be the only achievement for Defence Minister AK Antony whose mantra is to see a ‘made in India’ stamp on everything. On August 12, indigenous aircraft carrier, the Vikrant, a 40,000-tonne vessel with fighter jets on its deck, is slated for a sea launch at Kochi. The nuclear powered submarine, the Arihant, being built at Visakhapatnam, can slither out to sea any day.

Away from these much discussed and globally watched projects, trials to upgrade the indigenous Arjun tank starts next week while the indigenous replica of the Bofors is doing well in its trials and is slated to be handed over to the Army by early 2014.

Today AK Antony told Parliament in a written reply that for second part of the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC-2) will be done by end of 2013 and Final Operational Clearance (FOC) by end of 2014. Explaining this to officials, the minister said the IOC-2 will mean the plane will start flying in IAF fleet and the FOC will be time when all its weapons and missiles are integrated.

Antony had reviewed the status of the LCA on June 24. He has asked the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) to strictly adhere to the planned schedules to ensure induction of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in the Indian Air Force (IAF).

“LCA - Tejas is likely to be inducted in the Indian Air Force soon after the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC-2),” Antony replied in Parliament said.

Next week, the Arjun Mark-II will undergo trials in two separate phases and for different parameters. First is to test its missile firing ability and the second part will be the tank’s automotive aspects, meaning its running especially with the added load. The Army and the DRDO will conduct the trials.

The first set of trials is slated in the second week of this month and the second one will be conducted in the third week. If successful, this will pave the way for the production of the upgraded Arjun. A total of 124 tanks of the first series have been produced so far.

The upgraded version has some 89 improvements over its predecessor and these include long-range missile firing capabilities, panoramic sights with night vision, enhanced weapon penetration, digital control, a better hunter killer capability, improved Auxiliary Power Unit , better communication equipments and navigation aid will be the additions.
Antony: Army officials illegally transferred land in Jodhpur
New Delhi, August 5
An inquiry has prime facie found that Army and defence estates officials allegedly colluded to illegally transfer defence land to a charitable trust in Jodhpur after which a Central Bureau of Inverstigation inquiry has been ordered, Defence Minister A K Antony informed the Lok Sabha today.

The 4.84 acres of piece of land was handed over Major Maharaja Hari Singh charitable trust by the local military authorities on August 23, 2007.

"An inquiry by Army authorities has revealed that Army officers at Jodhpur allegedly in collusion with Defence Estates Organisation (DEO) officials illegally transfered defence land to benefit the trust. The matter has, therefore, been referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation for further investigation," the Defence minister said in reply to a query.

He said the Central Bureau of Inverstigation has filed a preliminary enquiry in to the case on May 14. The Defence Minister said about 12,634 acres of defence land has been under encroachment and "action for removal of encroachment is taken" under the provisions of various acts.

"Detailed instructions emphasising the need for ensuring vigilance, detection and prevention of new encroachments have been issued to the ministry," Antony said.

After several land scams such as Sukna and Adarsh, the Defence Minister took away the right of the local military authorities to issue No Objection Certificates (NOC) to private individuals or organisation for use of defence land or use of land near defence establishments. — PTI
Blast in Jalalabad
India faces challenges in Afghanistan

Afghanistan continues to extract a high price from all those who have a presence in the beleaguered nation. The recent attack on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad is yet another indication of the bloody turn that the situation there can take. While there were no Indian causalities in the attack on Saturday, it left nine dead and over a dozen wounded. Even as the Taliban denied any hand in the attack, the fear of further violence in a nation that has already seen more than its fair share of mayhem is inevitable.

India has a long-term relationship with Afghanistan. The aid and reconstruction programme that India developed for Afghanistan has got much praise. India has built many roads and help has been forthcoming to the nation in the agriculture, telecommunications, manufacturing and mining sectors. There are only a few thousand Indians in Afghanistan, supported by a small diplomatic staff, but even this modest presence has attracted undue negative attention. In this as well as previous attacks - including deadly ones in Kabul on guest houses with Indian personnel in 2010 and the one on the Indian Embassy in 2009 - the needle of suspicion pointed firmly in the direction of the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency and its sub-agencies.

Even as the western powers seek to scale back their presence in Afghanistan, they are leaving a vacuum that various small players and the ISI will move in to fill. President Hamid Karzai is opposed to the Taliban, and is positive in his approach to India. He has proved to be resilient against powerful opponents, yet he still needs the support of international governments to govern his country. India has honoured its commitments to the people of Afghanistan by providing various kinds of aid and assistance, especially in developing infrastructure, building electrical power plants and in providing healthcare. Attacks like the one in Jalalabad recently should only stiffen the resolve of the country to continue on this path and help the people of Afghanistan.
Russia to modernise Tajikistan’s army
Moscow is expected to spend up to $200 million in the modernisation programme in return for rights to maintain a military base in the Central Asian country.
Russia will spend up to $200 million to modernise Tajikistan’s army by 2025 in exchange for maintaining a military base in the strategically important country.

Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rakhmon has promised that, in the autumn, his parliament will ratify an agreement to extend the term of a Russian military base there. Dushanbe had been dragging its feet over the ratification in the hope of getting help with re-equipping its army ahead of the NATO coalition forces’ pullout from neighbouring Afghanistan, according to an expert.

Vladimir Putin has asked defence minister Sergei Shoigu to assess the risks stemming from the coalition forces’ pullout from Afghanistan (scheduled for late 2014) when developing the programme for re-equipping Tajikistan’s army. The programme is to be expanded accordingly in the very near future, Shoigu said.
Rakhmon has promised that Tajikistan’s parliament will ratify agreements on the status and terms of stay of a Russian military base signed in 2012. “Our attitude towards this matter is very serious and we are decidedly committed to fulfilling our obligations,” Tajikistan’s President said. His Russian counterpart added that implementation of the base agreement would be launched soon. “Russia has completed all the requisite procedures in this regard,” Putin said, following the negotiations on August 1.

Last October, the presidents reached an agreement to extend the stay of the 201st military base (Russia’s biggest outside its own territory) during Putin’s visit to Dushanbe. The agreement provided for a 49-year extension (up to 2042), automatically renewable for five-year terms. Under a previous agreement, the base’s term was to run out in 2014.

As before, the new agreement is rent-free.

Instead, Russia has committed to equip Tajikistan’s army with modern weapons and to modernise it in general. It was not reported at the time how much this would cost Russian taxpayers. Putin signed a law on ratification of the agreement in May 2013.

Tajikistan, however, has procrastinated with ratification. Moscow met both conditions set by Dushanbe back in February, as it gave preferential status to Tajik immigrants and lifted export duties on petroleum products exported to Tajikistan.
“Tajikistan wanted to receive additional funds to modernise its army in exchange for ratifying the agreement,” Vladimir Zharikhin, Deputy Director of the CIS Institute, told Gazeta.Ru. “This is a substantial amount for Tajikistan, especially in view of the potential problems arising soon when NATO pulls out from Afghanistan,” he explained. Additionally, a verbal agreement was reached last October on investments in Tajikistan’s hydropower generation. On Thursday, Tajikistan reiterated its interest in four new medium-capacity hydro power plants to be built in the country by Russian companies.

In addition to military cooperation, both presidents again discussed immigration matters. “Remittances from Tajik citizens living and working in Russia play an important role in supporting and developing Tajikistan’s economy. That’s why we discussed cooperation on immigration and agreed to resolve any issues arising in this area quickly, by our combined efforts,” Putin said after the meeting with Rakhmon. Last October, both countries agreed to extend the terms of registration and work permits for immigrant workers.|head
India Goes Local for Battle System

NEW DELHI — The Indian Defence Ministry has decided the Army’s new battlefield management system (BMS) will be acquired as a “Make India” program, under which only domestic companies are allowed to participate.

Producing the US $5 billion project continues the MoD’s policy of boosting the local defense industry.

The BMS, which is part of the Army’s network-centric warfare program, will link infantry-level troops on the battlefield to command headquarters.

While the BMS program has been under consideration by the MoD for more than four years, policymakers were weighing whether to acquire the systems on world markets or to nominate state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL), which had been lobbying for the big-ticket program, MoD sources said.

In the month ahead, expressions of interest (EOIs) will be sent to more than a dozen Indian defense companies, private and state-owned, inviting them to participate in the program.

The EOIs will be sent to BEL, Electronics Corporation of India, Computer Maintenance Corporation, ITI, domestic private-sector major Tata Power SED, Rolta India, Wipro, Larsen & Toubro, HCL, Punj Lloyd, Bharat Forge, Tata Consultancy, Info Systems and Tech Mahindra.

While only domestic defense companies will be allowed to compete for BMS, these companies will forge ties with overseas defense majors to acquire advanced technologies, an MoD official said.

The overseas defense companies expected to compete include Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael and Elbit of Israel; Thales and Nexter of France; Rhode & Schwartz of Germany; BAE Systems of the UK; Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and General Dynamics of the US; and Selex of Italy.

The government expects to select two vendors after four months of evaluation of the EOIs. Each of those two companies will be asked to develop four BMS prototypes for mountain, jungle, plains and desert operations.

The development of the prototypes is projected to cost about $67 million with the MoD covering 80 percent of the expense and the shortlisted domestic company 20 percent.

The prototypes will be put through extensive field trials and the selected defense company will be asked to produce more than 500 systems in India for an estimated $5 billion, said sources. It will take up to three years for the final bidder to be selected before production begins.

The BMS project aims to link troops in the battlefield with command headquarters through rugged computers, providing a near real-time tactical picture.

The system will integrate all surveillance resources at the unit level of the infantry, including UAVs and ground sensors, and provide instant location of the troops and important weapon platforms, an Army official said.

The BMS will also receive and transmit data, voice and images from multiple sources including radars, cameras and laser range finders, simultaneously providing a soldier on the battlefield with the same information received by command headquarters.

Hand-held computers for individual soldiers and tactical computers at battle group headquarters and on combat vehicles will comprise the system.

The BMS will also provide a variety of intelligence, such as terrain analysis, details of friendly and enemy troops, resources and weapon systems, the Indian Army official added.
India, China face-off yet again, Chinese troops stop Army personnel from patrolling in Ladakh
Even as China and India try to evolve an acceptable mechanism to keep the Line of Actual Control (LAC) quiet, reports of increasing face-offs between patrol parties of the two armies in Ladakh continue to create local tensions.

In the latest incident, there are reports that Chinese troops are resorting to tactics like preventing Indian Army from patrolling posts in the sector along the border which is well within India's territory.

The incident came to light last week when Indian troops launched its patrol "Tiranga" from Trade Junction area in North of Ladakh for two posts located 14 kilometres up in the higher reaches along the LAC.

Indian Army personnel were stopped by Chinese troops who came mounted on heavy and light vehicles, official sources said today.

The patrol party was shown a banner, saying it was Chinese territory and that the former could not proceed to the posts, the sources said.

Sources also said the Chinese troops were aggressive in their approach while stopping the Indian patrol party who were at their posts.

In the last one month alone, there have been at least two face-offs followed by what is known as banner drill between the two sides in North Ladakh. There have also been three reported instances of intrusions in a week by the Chinese at Chumar in southern Ladakh.
Both sides maintain that these intrusions happen because of differing perception on where the border lies. Both New Delhi and Beijing are working on a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement to maintain peace on the LAC.

The Chinese have erected an observation post in the North Ladakh sector which keeps a vigil on the movement of Indian troops and as soon as an Indian patrol party is ready to leave, they are intercepted midway and sent back, sources said, adding the matter would be taken up during the next Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) at Chushul.

In the same sector, there were instances when Chinese military vehicles were spotted in Depsang Bulge and Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) sector where the two armies had witnessed a 21-day stand-off in April this year.

Indian troops comprising mainly of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) immediately swung into action and prevented the 'free-run' of Chinese military vehicles in the Indian territory.

In the last BPM meeting held on July 27, New Delhi also raised objections to a tower being constructed in the Chinese side on the LAC in Demchok-Fukhche sector.

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