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Thursday, 29 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 29 Aug 2013
Myanmar troops try to raise fencing along Manipur border

Imphal/New Delhi, August 28
Myanmarese troops have attempted to construct a defence post and fencing along the border in Manipur where there is no demarcation of boundary between the two countries prompting India to take up the issue.

Construction materials were dumped for erection of fencing and the camp by Myanmar close to the international boundary in Manipur's Chandel district near Moreh town recently, official sources said.

Following a request of Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, the Centre took up the issue with Myanmar which halted all construction activities.

Myanamar's move was objected by local village chiefs and district officials as they thought Manipur would lose its territory if the neighbouring country goes ahead with the construction, they said.

Myanmar had some days ago also tried to construct a base camp next to Holenphai village near Moreh but they were persuaded not to do so until a joint survey by the officials of the two countries.

A senior Home Ministry official told PTI in New Delhi that all activities had taken place inside Myanmar territory and there was no incursion of Indian land. "We took up the issue with Myanmar government and it has been resolved amicably," he said.

Assam Rifles said in a communication to the Home Ministry that Myanmarese troops have not entered Indian territory. "We have stopped the felling of trees by the Myanmarese troops on BP (Border Pillar) 76 for the construction of a platoon headquarter because this BP is not yet demarcated... but otherwise Myanmarese troops have not entered Indian territory," it said after the Myanmarese activity came to light last week. Village chiefs and officials gave a detailed report to the Governor, the sources said. — PTI

India takes up issue

Following a request of Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, the Centre took up the issue with Myanmar which halted all construction activities

Myanamar’s move was objected by local village chiefs and district officials as they thought Manipur would lose its territory if the neighbouring country goes ahead with the construction
India’s first defence satellite all set for launch tomorrow
Shubhadeep Choudhury/TNS

Bangalore, August 28
India’s maritime security will get a fresh impetus as the stage is now set for the launch of an exclusive home-built satellite for the Navy by European space consortium Arianespace from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on Friday (between 2 am and 2.50 am on August 30 Indian time). GSAT-7 is India’s first dedicated spacecraft for defence applications.

The original plan was to launch the 2,550-kg satellite using the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) own Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). However, owing to slip-ups in GSLV’s development schedule, the launch would now be carried out by private company.

So far satellite-based communication has been carried out in the Indian Navy in a somewhat piecemeal manner. While ISRO’s GSAT series of satellites earlier allocated only part of its transponders to the armed forces, a dedicated satellite will broaden the scope of the Navy’s communication and data sharing capabilities.

Built around the INSAT-2000 bus, the GSAT-7 would carry four transponders that can transmit in the Ku-band, along with transponders for transmitting in the S-Band [one transponder] and UHF & C-Band [three transponders]. The satellite has been designed with a service life of nine years.

With the Navy’s focus on maintaining its strategic dominance over the Indian Ocean, where its warships spend most of their deployment time, the satellite would be positioned in the 74 degree east longitude geostationary earth orbit.

Though built specifically for the Navy, the GSAT-7’s capability can be exploited by the Army and the IAF too when required. After the GSAT-7 launch, the IAF, too, will get its own dedicated communication satellite, the GSAT-7A.

According to experts, once GSAT-7 becomes operational, it will be possible to link-up every submarine, aircraft and warship to each other along with their shore-based command. Such a datalink will also make it possible to interlink sea-based strategic missile with radars and sensors. This sensor-weapon synergy would make it possible to engage an enemy target without even physically citing it. A launch readiness review was conducted today at the spaceport at Kourou and approval for lift-off was given.

A giant leap

GSAT-7 is India's first dedicated spacecraft for defence applications. It will broaden the scope of the Navy's communication and data sharing capabilities

It is scheduled to be launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) by Ariane-5 VA 215 during the 50-minute launch window starting from 2 am on Friday.

The Rs 185 crore state-of-the-art satellite carries payloads operating in UHF, S, C and Ku bands

After the GSAT-7 launch, the IAF, too, will get its own dedicated communication satellite, the GSAT-7A
Geopolitics of oil and gas
Time for India to plan its energy policies
by G. Parthasarathy

In the aftermath of the Second World War, an energy-hungry Western alliance faced an energy-surplus Soviet Union. The world witnessed a new "Great Game" involving a quest for influence in the energy-rich Middle East, particularly the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The Carter Doctrine of 1979 brought American military power to India's doorstep. The US Central Command headquartered in Qatar and the US 5th Fleet based in Bahrain were primarily set up to prop up pro-American regimes and guarantee energy supplies for the United States and its allies.

The global energy scenario has changed dramatically in the recent past with the development of "Fracking" (hydraulic fracturing) technology in the US. American crude oil production grew by more than one million bpd in 2012, the largest increase in the world. Crude oil production jumped 14% last year to 8.9 million bpd. The US is set to replace Saudi Arabia as the largest producer of oil in the world by 2020. Even today, gas availability in the US exceeds demand and the US has surplus gas for sale. Recent surveys indicate that Canada's oil sands reserves contain the equivalent of 2 trillion barrels of conventional oil, which is more than the presently estimated reserves of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq put together. With a growing production of oil in the US and its reduced dependence on imports, the World Bank has predicted that oil prices will fall to $102 per barrel by the end of this year.

The US alone has a potential 24.4 trillion cubic metres (TCM) of gas reserves. The estimates of shale gas reserves elsewhere are: Argentina 21.9 TCM, Europe 18.1 TCM, China 36.1 TCM and Australia 11.2 TCM. India's recoverable shale reserves are estimated at 63 TCF, roughly one-fourth the reserves of the US and one-sixth those of China. China's reserves are largely in sparsely populated areas. Beijing announced in March this year that it is aiming to produce 6.5 billion cubic metres of gas by 2015. India has released a draft policy for the exploration of shale gas. But, shale production has faced public opposition elsewhere on safety and environmental grounds. One hopes that policies governing shale exploration are transparent and do not lead us into the sort of problems we have faced from activists on the exploitation of gas, coal, or more recently, even on nuclear power plants.

Given problems that members of the European Union are facing with gas supplies from Russia, the US is set to become a major supplier of natural gas to its European partners. The vast potential for energy resources in North America will be supplemented with growing production in Latin America. Oil production is growing in Brazil. Columbia's oil production has doubled since 2007. Argentina has larger shale gas reserves nearly as large as the US. Venezuela's already substantial production can be stepped up significantly. The production in Mexico, with oil reserves larger than Kuwait, has remained stagnant and below expectations. Production is Mexico would rise substantially with policy changes now under way. Moreover, the off-shore Levantine Basin, where Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Gaza have overlapping claims, has substantial oil and gas reserves. The influence of Iran and Arab oil producers in Western capitals will be drastically reduced, as the Americas become a power house of global energy production. In this emerging scenario, oil prices cannot be arbitrarily raised by OPEC, causing huge economic problems for importing developing countries, as it did in the past,

Under the current US regulations, gas can be exported without formal clearances to countries with which the USA has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Buoyed by the optimistic energy scenario and economic recovery, President Obama announced in his 2013 State-of-the-Union Address that the US would begin talks on a "Transatlantic Trade and Economic Partnership"-- in effect an FTA with the EU. The growing availability of US natural gas will be a major incentive to conclude an FTA for the environment conscious and nuclear averse Europeans, who are facing a decline in North Sea Oil production, which fell by 13.4 per cent last year. Negotiations with the EU are expected to be complex and difficult. But, its relatively cheap energy surpluses will be leveraged by the US in negotiations with European partners.

The US has simultaneously been involved in negotiations for a "Trans-Pacific Partnership" (TPP) since 2010, across its Pacific shores. The TPP is intended to be a "high standard" trade agreement aimed to address contemporary trade issues through the establishment of a Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement. Its current membership includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. While Japan joined the TPP discussions in 2010 as an observer, it is expected to become a full member this year. South Korea, which has an FTA with the US, will inevitably join the TPP. Thailand has indicated that it will be joining the TPP, while Taiwan, the Philippines, Laos, Colombia, Costa Rica and Indonesia have also expressed interest in doing so. Members of the TPP will have the advantage of preferential access to oil and gas energy resources from the US and Canada. India has been ambivalent on its approach towards TPP membership.

While a conflict leading to the closure of the Straits of Hormuz can cause temporary problems, India can now plan its energy policies without having to unduly fear an arbitrary rise in oil and gas prices. The Persian Gulf oil producers like Iraq will now be interested in seeking greater energy cooperation with major Asian oil consumers like India and China. Oil cannot be used as a weapon for political pressures, like those India experienced in the 1970s. Moreover, as China works feverishly to build oil and gas pipelines across Central Asia, undermining Russian influence in former Soviet Republics, we could see the beginning of doubts and differences in the presently cosy Russian-Chinese relationship, as the Russians will have to look to countries like Japan and South Korea to market their vast oil and gas resources.

India's western neighbourhood, sometimes labelled as the "Greater Middle East," extending from Pakistan to Turkey, is presently gripped by turmoil, terrorism, sectarian strife, Persian-Arab rivalries and ethnic separatism. The impact these developments on the security and livelihood of over six million Indians living across our western shores in Arab Gulf Cooperation Council countries needs to be carefully monitored and assessed. The External Affairs Ministry will have to focus greater attention on these challenges.
India doesn't have permanent security policy: Ex-Army chief
LUDHIANA: India does not have a permanent security or defence policy and the government at the Centre is guided in the matter more by "babus" (bureaucrats) than by any specific strategy, former Army chief, Gen VP Malik, has said.

Talking about the challenges for India in terms of strengthening its defensive shield, Malik said that the country's intelligence network needed to be further refined.

"Had they (intelligence agencies) provided real information, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee could never have taken a bus to Lahore just before the Kargil War," Malik said, giving an example of poor intelligence inputs. He was speaking today at a programme organised by the Ludhiana Management Association.

Referring to the situation on India's borders, Malik said that China and Pakistan were violating agreements at will. "Our defence preparation with respect to border roads or infrastructure is insufficient in the sense that our roads are 60 to 70km away from the (Line of Actual Control), while Chinese roads go right up to the border," Malik said.

As per official records, Pakistan has violated the Line of Control 87 times this year, which is twice the number as compared to last year, he said. "They continue to run terrorist training camps and provide financial assistance of crores of rupees to terrorist outfits to destabilise us," he said.

He said that the civilian administration in Pakistan continues to be dictated by that nation's Army, adding that, "we should always be wary of Pakistan's doublespeak".

Malik also strongly favoured handing over of the manufacturing of weapons to the private sector, saying it had the potential to churn out armaments of better quality. He said that in the last seven years, the Centre had taken up 73 defence projects, but only a couple of them had been completed.
Indian government condemns Chinese army for allowing Myanmar’s army into India
New Delhi. Indian government has reacted strongly to the news of Myanmar’s army entering India and setting up camps in Manipur.

As always, they have condemned. But this time, the condemnation is unique, because instead of condemning Myanmar, the government has condemned China.

Ministry of External Affairs has issued a statement condemning the Chinese army for not taking any action against the intruding Myanmar army.
“What is the use of letting Chinese army into our territory if they are not going to protect North-East India from external threats? If we just wanted some guys to sit idle there then we could have deployed government babus on the border and not ceded the territory to China,” fumed an MEA spokesperson.

He went on to add, “Once we allowed the Chinese to set up camps, we were certain that they will protect this territory against any other threat, but I guess they are as useless as us. We are going to pass our displeasure to the Chinese ambassador in Delhi.”

When we mentioned that Chinese soldiers had camped in the state of Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar’s army has intruded in the state of Manipur, he replied, “Arey yaar, what are Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur? North-east India is a single state, no?”

We thought about correcting him for a moment before thinking better of it as he looked very angry and we didn’t want to invite his wrath.

Defense ministry has not issued any statement on this incursion yet as Defense minister and Army spokesman were busy comparing notes to ensure that they don’t end up giving out different versions of the events.

We approached the home ministry for Mr. Shinde’s reaction to this intrusion on Indian Territory but we were turned away by the guard who told us that the honorable minister was waiting for his appointment with a specialist doctor.

Meanwhile, sources inform Faking News that Sonia Gandhi had her mind on the Myanmar army’s incursion as she sipped Burmese tea in the afternoon.
US should do more to boost India's defence capabilities: V K Singh, ex-Army chief
WASHINGTON: India and the US can work out joint ventures to upgrade defence capabilities if New Delhi is perceived as "a friend and a focal point" in Asia, former Indian Army chief Gen (retd) V K Singh has said.

There is great scope for cooperation in defence technology between the two sides and things will move at a faster pace if Indian military officials are given a greater role in talks with the US, Singh told PTI in an interview.

"There is a great (scope for) cooperation that can be worked out as a joint venture between the two to upgrade capabilities if the US thinks that India is a friend and a focal point for it in Asia," he said.

"If you look at the policies, it is looked at from that point of view some time back. But that now has to be converted into concrete action."

Noting that the US is a hub of technology, Singh said there is so much that can be shared in the armament, aviation and naval sectors that it can ensure great economic benefit to the US and technological benefit to India.

"I think there is some reservation in the US on sharing this technology with India. I think it is to mutual advantage of both countries," he said.

India is looking at technology, and not hardware. "It has got great capabilities, especially the private sector in India, to manufacture anything, provided the technology is available," he said.

Singh claimed the Indian system dominated by bureaucrats is preventing "real military-to-military" talks between India and the US and as a result, the real potential of defence ties between the world's two largest democracies is not being realised.

Singh, the only Indian general to be inducted into the International Fellow Hall of Fame at the prestigious US Army War College, pushed for strong defence ties between the two sides when he headed the Indian Army during March 2010-February 2012.

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