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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

From Today's Papers - 16 Oct 2013
Talks with Pak vital for foiling terror forces’ plan: NSA
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 15
Justifying its continued attempts to engage with Islamabad, India on Tuesday said not holding talks with the neighbouring country would amount to falling into the trap of terrorists and their sponsors in the Pakistani establishment.
“When 40 self-styled experts and some political groups say do not talk to Pakistan until ideal conditions exist and all terrorism stops, it betrays a lack of self-confidence. This is precisely what the terrorists and their sponsors in the Pakistani establishment want,” said National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon. He was delivering the Sardar Patel Memorial Lecture, which was organised by the All India Radio.

Menon was referring to a statement issued by nearly 40 retired military, intelligence and civilian officials recently asking the government not to rush into a dialogue with Pakistan on the assumption that new Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was committed to improving ties with India.

Arguing that not talking to Pakistan would not change the behaviour of ‘our enemies,’ Menon said it would only help them in their nefarious designs and further encourage them. “At the very least, talking to the saner elements in Pakistan could encourage them to stand for the right policies and could create confusion among our enemies,” said Menon.

Though he did not identify the sponsors of terrorists in the Pakistani establishment, he was obviously alluding to the Pakistan Army.
Talking about India’s ’complex’ relationship with China, Menon admitted that there were issues between the two countries as was natural between two neighbours which were growing and changing rapidly. “We try to maintain the dynamic equilibrium in the relationship needed for peace, stability and predictability. So far, we have managed to do so successfully,’’he said.

“The China border has been relatively peaceful after 1962 for a reason.We are careful to maintain an equilibrium (or prevent the emergence of a significant imbalance) and a political context in which neither side finds the costs of changing the status quo attractive.’’ Menon said that during the seventies, eighties and nineties, India faced explicit or implicit nuclear threats on several occasions.
Jawan killed in Pak firing in Poonch

Jammu, October 15
An Army jawan was killed today when he was hit by a mortar shell as Pakistani troops opened heavy fire in the Bhimber Gali sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district.

The soldier has been identified as Lance Naik Mohammad Firoz Khan of 38 Rashtriya Rifles. He hailed from Hyderabad.

During the nearly 10-hour-long gun battle, Pakistani troops besides firing automatic weapons, fired mortars and rocket-propelled grenades in the Hamirpur Battalion area.

"Around 5 am, Pakistani troops opened heavy fire on Indian forward posts in the Bhimber Gali sector, firing LMG, HMG, mortars and RPGs on six Indian posts," an Intelligence source said. — PTI
Barrel of Bofors bursts during trials

New Delhi, October 15
A barrel of the indigenous-version of the Bofors howitzers burst during their trials in the Pokharan range, delaying plans to induct these artillery guns into the Army. The Defence Acquisition Council had recently approved the procurement of 144 such guns by the Army which are being manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board, Jabalpur.

During the recent trials of the gun in Pokharan, the barrel of the gun burst when the Army was conducting the user trials for approving the gun for induction in the Army, sources said here.

The OFB has now been asked to carry out a defect identification inquiry (DII) by the Defence Ministry to ascertain the reasons behind the bursting of the barrel during the crucial trials, they said. The user trials are carried out by the Services for approving the product being tested for induction.

The gun design, provided as part of technology transfer, has been gathering dust due to the taint associated with Bofors in the light of the payoffs scam. — PTI
Breach of discipline
Army must address causative factors

In the past one week there have been two major incidents of indiscipline in the Army that have come into public glare. Last week some soldiers of an Infantry battalion in Meerut beat up two officers following differences over the outcome of a boxing match. Then, on Monday, a soldier posted in an NCC battalion in Batala abused and assaulted his commanding officer, a Colonel, after the latter ordered his arrest for a breach of discipline. Two such incidents are insignificant, some would argue. After all it is a very operationally engaged million-strong Army that has served the country well in both conventional and assymetric warfare across one of the world's most geographically diverse and difficult terrains.

Yet, the fact remains that the internal health of the Army is a cause for serious concern. This was first expressed by Gen K Sundarji when he took over as the Army Chief in the mid-1980s. The concern was subsequently reiterated by Gen Vijay Kumar Singh when he became the Army Chief in 2010. The problem in this case relates to gradual changes, if not decline, in the quality of intake in both the officer cadre and other ranks joining the armed forces along with the rapid changes in society that have been brought about by economic growth. In addition, for over two decades the Army has suffered a shortage of 13,000 officers. This has meant battalions being officered by fewer men who have had to bear additional burden and hence increasing stress. The continuous and seemingly endless engagement in counter-insurgency and internal security operations, caused by a long history of political and administrative mismanagement that goes unaccounted, has added to the Army's stress.

All these factors and more have led to an unhealthy situation within the Army. It has resulted in grave discontent leading to Army men committing suicide, indulging in fratricide, incidents of indiscipline and seeking premature retirement. In other words a crisis in the Army's man power which the country can ill afford. The Army leadership and the government must address it with all seriousness.
India-US partnership
Defence trade to be the driving engine
by Surendra Kumar

Contrary to the forecasts of doom and gloom and the scepticism surrounding his visit to Washington, the third Manmohan-Obama Summit meeting on September 27 has been quite productive. With hindsight, one can say that media reports about growing impatience of US NSA Susan Rice, impact of the comprehensive immigration law, lobbying in the Capitol Hill by Microsoft, IBM and American drug manufacturing giants against Indian IT and drug manufacturing companies and differences on Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, nuclear liability Act etc were highly exaggerated.

An honest and dispassionate assessment of India-US relations in the last decade clearly shows that they have been transformed beyond recognition; India-US strategic partnership is for real and it is in for a long haul in spite of serious differences on some issues in the short run. Nothing demonstrates this better than the exponential expansion of defence trade; US exports of defence and military hardware to India in the last five years have crossed US$ 9bn; with the long shopping lists of the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy this is bound to expand further. If the promise of transfer of defence technology, joint research and co-production mentioned in the joint statement is taken to its logical conclusion, this collaboration could become the driving engine of closer Indo-US strategic partnership.

In this regard, the US decision to supply offensive weapons to India will be the leitmotif of this burgeoning relationship. Notwithstanding these positive signals, well-known strategic analyst Brahma Chellaney feels that India-US strategic relationship is somewhat “lopsided and unbalanced” on account of structural and strategic limitations of India.

A lot is made out of the flattering phrases such as the "defining relationship of the 21st century" (used by Obama and John Kerry) which might transcend into the 22nd century and India being the "lynch pin" of the US policy in Asia (used by Leon Panetta) and optimistic projections made by the heads of think tanks such as Ashley Tellis of Carnegie Endowment. Visiting American dignitaries seldom fail to stress the commonalities between India and the US: democracy, rule of law, human rights, and multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual, plural societies. These are, no doubt, important factors but must be taken with a pinch of salt.

In the real world, so long as it serves their national interests, countries don't mind doing business with other countries where these factors don't hold water. The US-China relations are an obvious example of this phenomenon. While the US IT companies might continue urging the US government to apply some indirect brakes on the Indian IT companies, the fact is they have been receiving "great service, great quality at low costs" from Indian companies and it has enabled them to operate efficiently and profitably.

The misperception created by media reports that the US wishes to "contain" China and hence is trying to warm up to India warrants closer scrutiny. The US-China economic, financial, trade, business and investment ties are so huge and millions of jobs in the US depend on this collaboration that the US will never risk them. As a matter of fact, the US has been quite careful not to hurt China's sensitivities; it’s decision to call its new approach in Asia now as “Asia Rebalance” instead of “Asia Pivot” is a “course correction” keeping China in mind.

On the issues of alleged incursions into Indian territories by the Chinese troops and the India-China spat regarding the ONGC-Vietnam offshore oil drilling collaboration, the US has maintained strict neutrality. Conversely, it is also a fact that the US won't like to see a China-dominated Asia. This, apart from the economic considerations, explains its concerted efforts to come closer to India, ASEAN and beyond to shore up its influence in Asia-Pacific and maintain pressure on China to keep trade routes through the South China Sea open to international trade according to international laws.

Some recent developments have eased the alleged “drift”, “wrinkles” and imaginary or real “plateau” in relations. The preliminary contract between the US nuclear companies, Westinghouse and NPCIL for setting up a nuclear plant in Gujarat is a welcome beginning. The establishment of “an American India-US climate change working group” and convening the “India-US Task Force on HFCs” are viewed as positive developments. And the reiteration of US support for a place for India in the reformed UNSC should be music to Indian ears. Besides, a temporary postponement by the US Federal Reserve to end the stimulus package should give countries like India some breathing time to put their finances in order. Though nothing concrete has been promised, some negotiated compromise on the new Immigration laws shouldn't be ruled out.

In the field of foreign affairs, the biggest relief has come from Iran. There is thaw in the air in the US-Iran relations thanks to the speech of the newly elected President Rouhani in the UN General Assembly and his wishes on the Jewish New Year on his Twitter which prompted Obama to make the historic Presidential phone call for the first time in 30 years! Unless, this process is cut short by the Iranian supreme leader, US-Iran relations should see some further easing of tension and resolution of the nuclear issue which has led to the imposition of crippling UN sanctions on Iran. This thaw has the potential of lightening India's oil import bill if more Iranian oil comes on the market.

India's expectations from the US to put further pressure on Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai attack to book and rein in the terrorist groups like Al-Qaida and LeT and dismantle terror infrastructure and go slow on co-opting the Taliban in the talks on the future of Afghanistan aren't likely to be met fully because of the US priorities to exit from Afghanistan smoothly. In the meanwhile, India should brace itself for a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the American troops in 2014. What role India could play in Afghanistan after the US exit can't be guaranteed by the US; it will have to work out a strategy with countries like China, Russia, and Iran and, of course, the US.

As the economies of India and the US aren't doing as great as they would have expected, there are domestic pressures in both countries which impact negatively on the bilateral relations. The IT and pharma MNCs in the US and the constituencies in India which didn't favour FDI in retail and pressed for a more stringent nuclear liability Bill are manifestations of such domestic pressures.

As both India and the US have strategic partnership with a number of countries, in crises situations each country will take a decision based on its strategic interests. From this perspective, KS Bajpai, a former

Ambassador to the US, injects a reality check: “If ever India finds herself in an open conflict with another country, she will be just by herself; none will come to her help”. That should give us a wake-up call to mend our fences with our neighbours and create an environment of goodwill and warmth without lowering our guards and ignoring defence preparedness.
Indian Army jawan killed in heavy firing by Pak on LoC

An Indian Army soldier was killed while six others were injured in the intense exchange of firing along the Line of Control in Balakote sector of Poonch of Jammu.

According to reports, Lance Naik Mohd Firoz Khan was killed in mortar firing from the Pakistani side at around 5.00 pm near Panjani Nallah in Balakote sector of Mendhar tehsil in Poonch.

Defense sources said the intense exchange of firing was going on in the area since early morning. According to official sources, at least six other soldiers received splinter injuries during intense exchange of firing along the Line of Control in Balakote sector in Mendhar area of Poonch in Jammu.

Sources said another Army soldier suffered blast injuries on his right leg while he was patrolling in the Sawjian sector of Poonch. He was airlifted to command hospital in Udhampur after rescued by the troops from the forward area.

Defence sources said firing with automatic weapons is still going on between our soldiers and Pakistani troops and our troops are retaliating.
Ashok Leyland, L&T in line for army rocket launcher order
Ashok Leyland, along with Larsen & Toubro (L&T), is reportedly on the verge of getting an order from the Indian Army, to supply Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers.

V Sumantran, vice-chairman of Ashok Leyland, told Business Standard: “We (it is a joint bid with L&T) are the L1 (meaning, lowest bidder) in the tender which was opened. Discussions are going on. Most likely, we will execute the order to supply about 100 units.”

He said the company was also making efforts to boost its presence in defence logistics, with a heavier truck programme.
It may be noted, all the transport and logistics the company we do in Ashok Leyland, the tactical armoured vehicles and special projects are done through defence company. “We do about around 2,000 vehicles every year. This year also we will do the same level”.

Ashok Leyland Defence Systems (ALDS), a joint venture company, provide tactical and armoured solutions to address defense requirements in India and globally.

Ashok Leyland Defence Systems (ALDS), a joint venture company, provides solutions for defence requirements. According to the company's website, the two partners for the company's business in this segment are Panhard General Defense, France, and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) GmbH and Co KG, Germany. The company is the largest supplier of logistics vehicles to the Indian Army. “We do about 2,000 vehicles every year,” said Sumantran.

Leyland also supplies a large number of vehicles for various applications to the air force and navy, and to para-military forces, such as troop carriers, refuellers, vehicles for gun mounting, fire-fighting, UAV support and recovery vehicles, flat-bed trucks and buses.

According to Sumantran, defence was adjacency for the company which it saw as part of its strategies in the last five years. “It is logical to grow and it is something that the company felt will provide the scale and will help to leverage its competency and capability”.

He noted last five years were spent on the backdrop of a careful and clear strategic growth plan. The company which has been core medium and heavy vehicle (M&HCV), realised that scale is important to grow.

“In this industry without scale you can't be a long time player and for us to achieve scale, we did number of things, apart from core business (commercial vehicles, buses, foundries, engines),” he added.

Then the company saw a huge growth on the Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) side, and it was a logical investment along with Nissan and then it saw an opportunity in construction equipment and infrastructure and therefore it made investment, along with John Deere.

While these gave more platform, ofcourse tit also invested in upgrading its products and capacities on the core business, which is M&HCV. The new Pantnagar, Uttarkhand is a fully integrated and importantly higher productivity with lower cost, said Sumantaran.

“Now its time for us to realise the benefit of more modern product lines, benefits of productive manufacturing plant and realise the benefit of better products features, performance like fuel efficiency. I would say bulk of our investments are behind us and now hopefully we will make better harvesting from the investments we made,” said Sumantaran.
200 BAE staff to lose jobs if India misses deal deadline
BAE Systems will lay off around 200 staff at its Barrow-in-Furness plant later this week if the Indian government fails to meet a deadline today to complete a £434m deal to buy its M777 Howitzer field guns.

Sources close to the defence manufacturer told the Telegraph it would begin the redundancy process on Thursday and close its M777 production line at the Cumbria plant to halt growing losses on the project. It has spent an estimated £31m to continue producing the titanium guns in the hope that India would conclude the deal but there is no immediate prospect of agreement.

The job losses would be a major blow to the town where BAE Systems and its forerunners have built artillery guns, ships and submarines since the late 19th century. The company employs several thousand workers at its shipyard and more than 400 at its artillery plant.

The factory is controlled by BAE Systems' American subsidiary, which is one of the US Defence Department's top six suppliers, and its staff had been hoping a US government deal to supply 155mm Howitzers to the Indian Army would keep the Barrow factory in work for several years. The guns are assembled at a BAE plant in the United States but designed, engineered and built at Barrow by titanium specialists.

The company has become increasingly frustrated at the Indian government's delays, despite confirming the agreement in principle earlier this year. Defence deals in India have been tarnished in recent years by a series of corruption scandals which have made officials reluctant to make decisions.
 The Indian Army has not replaced its 155mm Howitzers since allegations of corruption in a deal to buy Bofors artillery guns led to the defeat of the Congress government in 1989.

"No one will make a decision," said a source close to the discussions.

Under the deal, which was first proposed four years ago, the United States government agreed to sell 145 BAE Systems M777 light artillery guns, which would be mainly produced in Barrow. The guns are known as the world's "largest sniper rifles" for their range and accuracy – they are said to be able to hit a window from 25 miles away.

India's armed forces want the guns to replace their ageing artillery on its mountainous borders with Pakistan and China but procurement officials have delayed concluding the deal in the hope of better terms.

Sources close to the company said the Barrow plant has been without M777 orders for some months and cannot keep the production line and supply chain running without new income.

In August, the United States' Defence Security Co-operation Agency set a deadline of October 15 for the deal to be completed at the agreed price, after which India would have to pay up to £553m.

Jobs at the plant had been secured by an earlier deal to supply M777s to Australia but that order was fulfilled earlier this year and no new orders have been confirmed since.

A BAE Systems spokesman said it continued to "support the discussions between the governments of India and the United States" and remained "committed to supply and sustain the next-generation lightweight artillery system the Indian Army requires".
Army to Buy 49 Mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for J&K
Army's Northern Command has issued a global tender for procuring latest miniature unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for gathering intelligence and carry out reconnaissance of areas along Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and Sino-India border.

In the wake of frequent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC), General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GoC-in-C) Northern Command has issued Request for Proposal (RFP) tender recently for procurement of 49 NK Mini-UAVs for the Army units deployed in Northern Command theatre in J&K.

The bids are invited from Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of Defence Procurement Manual 2009 or Permanent Registered Authorised Distributors of OEM, a senior officer of Electric and Mechanical Engineers (EMA) Branch at Northern Command Headquarter, said.

Mini UAVs, which will serve as an electronic eyes to Army troops in most sensitive Northern theatre, for gathering intelligence and carrying out reconnaissance of areas along LoC with Pakistan and Sino-India border in Lakdah besides some specialised counter terrorist operations in J&K.

The procurement of Mini-UAVs have become all the more important in view of the fact that Jammu and Kashmir's LoC and International Border (IB) has become 'hot and active' with Pakistani troops' ceasefire violation due to firing, infiltration bids, BAT attacks on forward posts and sniping incidents on Indian forward posts on regular basis since August this year.

This year has witnessed several fold increase in the ceasefire violations as Pakistani troops violated border truce more than 130 times along LoC in J&K -highest in past eight years.

As per its requirements, Army has specified that the mini UAVs should be complete in all aspects of electronics sensors, propulsion system, on-board camera, control mechanism, trans-receivers, re-chargeable batteries and packing case.

In the tender, Army has specified that the UAV should have the capability to take-off and land without needing any kind of runway besides it should have an auto pilot on board with mission pre programming capability to undertake autonomous operation and return on base on its own.

The UAV would be less than 10 kg in weight and able to fly at the altitude of up to 1,000 metre from hand launch and safe landing without landing strip.

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