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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

From Today's Papers - 11 Feb 2014

 India, China for hotline between armies
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
India and China today discussed additional confidence-building measures (CBMs), including the proposal for setting up a hot-line between the two armies, for maintaining peace and tranquillity along their more than 4,000-km border.

The two countries simultaneously held the 17th round of talks between their Special Representatives (SRs) and the 5th meeting of the working mechanism for consultation and coordination on India-China border affairs here.

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi led their respective delegations at the SR level talks which would conclude tomorrow.

The Indian side was led by Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia) and consisted of officials from the ministries of External Affairs, Defence and Home as well as the army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) at the meeting of the working mechanism on border affairs. The Chinese side at this meeting was headed by Ouyang Yujing, Director General of the Department of Boundary and Oceanic Affairs in the Foreign Affairs Ministry and comprised representatives of various departments.

The two sides are understood to have discussed implementation of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) which was signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing in October last year.

The Indian side drew China’s attention towards continuing incursions even after the signing of the BDCA. However, it was also noted that the BDCA has certainly brought down the incidents of incursions, much to New Delhi’s satisfaction. The two sides also discussed the possibility of conducting joint exercises between their forces.

Joint drills

    The two countries simultaneously held the 17th round of talks between their Special Representatives (SRs) and the 5th meeting of the working mechanism for consultation and coordination on India-China border affairs
    The Indian side drew China's attention towards continuing incursions even after the signing of the BDCA. However, it was also noted that the BDCA has certainly brought down the incidents of incursions, much to New Delhi's satisfaction.
Antony seeks status report on Vikramaditya from Navy Chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
Defence Minister AK Antony today sought a status report from Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi following reports about "technical glitches" onboard seaborne aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya during its voyage from Russia to India.

Admiral Joshi met Antony in his office and is learnt to have clarified on the issue and given details of the 15,000-mile voyage from Russia to Karwar, south of Goa. The Navy Chief, it is learnt, told the minister that no major glitches were faced by the over $2.35-billion warship during its journey to India.

According to reports, the aircraft carrier faced some problem in cutting through choppy waters at a top speed of around 56 kmph. Sources in the Ministry of Defence said there was no written report from the Navy on the incident so far.

The vessel delivery to India was delayed by more than a year after problems occurred in its boilers during sea trials in Russia in September 2012. The warship was handed over in November 2013 and it then set sail for India. It sailed non-stop and was refuelled mid-sea.
The enduring idea of India
Lieut-Gen (retd) Baljit Singh
Twelve generations of Independent India have witnessed, may be without a conscious thought, what is perhaps among the world's few very sombre and yet flamboyant performances, namely "Beating Retreat" by the massed bands, pipes and drums of the armed forces, which brings to end the Republic Day celebrations. The audience of several thousand Indians drawn from the lowly aam aadmi, right up the scale to the heads of the country's legislature, the executive, the judiciary and the diplomatic missions is usually seated, twenty minutes before the commencement and it is therefore natural that the specially created, vast open amphitheatre centred on the Vijay Chowk, would hum like the beehive.

That was the setting a few days ago, when President Pranab Mukherjee alighted in the six-horse-drawn state coach, in itself a work of art and antiquity of over ninety years! In clock-work precision, two posses of eight trumpeters sounded the fanfare and intuitively, the spectators fell silent and searched for the source of the music score, "Herald The Chief"! The trumpeters played their hearts out, from beneath the domes surmounting the two towers of the North and South Blocks, directly above Vijay Chowk, bringing the spectators on the edges of their seats as they watched the President take his seat.

Further enhancing this ceremonial ambience was a troop from the President's Mounted Body Guard, attired in scarlet tunics with intricate gold lace-work and white mole-skin breeches, astride well groomed and manicured horses, a heritage stretching to the Madras Governor General's Guard, raised way back in 1778. The guard salutes, and the massed bands strike the national anthem exuberantly as the national flag is hoisted, at the venue. The audience bursts in vigorous clapping, every face having misted eyes and wreathed in a smile! Now, that indeed is symbolic of the enduring spirit of India and let no one tamper with it.

Over the next 45 minutes the spectators cannot avoid tapping their feet to the rhythm of martial music. The under lying theme of every tune is focused on patriotism and glory of the Republic, such as "Kadam kadam budhaye chall, khooshi kay geet gaey chaall, yeh zindgi hay kaumn ki too kaumn par lootaye chall….!" As though to fortify this resolve, they next play out the rousing "Dhawaj Kay Rakshak", leaving nothing to chance that the fortress is under trustworthy and unfaltering vigil. The "Drums Roll" which follows, creates the auditory crescendo of the thunder and volley on the battle field.

The "Last Post" played by massed buglers, the national flag lowered and some 400 battle-inoculated, soldier-bandsmen wearing immaculate ceremonial uniforms, symbolising time-tested loyalty to the country and heritage of valour, march up the Raj Path playing to perfection "Sare jahaan say achha…!" As though to underline that resolve, Rashtrapati Bhavan, the North and South Blocks, and Parliament are flood-lit, signifying the eternal light even amidst darkness. And the lotus fountains of Vijay Chowk cascade water in the colours of the national flag. That too is the enduring idea of India and let every Indian mount vigil against those who may dare to mess with it, ever.
Chinese troops trespass on eve of special talks

On the eve of India-China special representative talks on boundary resolution, troopers of Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) transgressed into Chumar area of Eastern Ladakh, resulting in a two-hour face-off with the Indian troops on February 9.

National Security Advisor (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon met state councillor Yang Jiechi in the Capital on Monday for the 17th round of SR dialogue with a mandate to define 3,488 kilometre Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries. The talks end on Tuesday.

While India and Chinese foreign offices have off-late converged on stabilisation of South Asia including countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, the Chinese PLA continues to posture on the LAC with Chumar being specifically targeted with frequent incursions.

Government sources said that seven PLA troopers transgressed near patrol point 62 in Chumar sector around 9.40am with Indian Army troopers immediately engaging them in a face-off. Although the Chinese troopers seemingly withdrew to their original positions in the next 20 minutes, they returned with 11 more troopers joining their comrades. The Indian Army reacted by sending in a large contingent even as Chinese PLA ran circles on horseback trying to emphasise claim on the Indian territory.

“The face-off ended around noon after both sides engaged in banner drill reminding the other that they there transgressing into their territory. Chumar has been the site of frequent transgressions by the PLA since June 2012 and was the bone of contention during the April 2013 Depsang incursions,” said a senior official.
No role of British Army in Op Bluestar, says former Army Chief

Former Army Chief, General Shankar Roychowdhury denied the role of British Army in the execution of 'Operation Blue Star' while simultaneously blaming the Indian Intelligence for its flaws. The former chief, during his visit to an educational institution in the Jhargram district of West Bengal, ridiculed all allegations against the Indian Army stating that no forms of external assistance were called for and the fault lay entirely with the Indian political leaders of the time.

"It is hilarious to hear that Indian Army will seek British Army's help. In political front what letter has been exchanged between the Prime Ministers of the respective Nations is not known to us," he said.

"I can assure you that the Military Advice for operation was not asked for by Indian Army. All on-ground operations were done by us. We might have committed mistakes but we never came up asking for such a help. The mistake was basically done by IB. Some mistakes happened in 1984 and the only people responsible for that was Indian political leaders at that time," he added.

Declassified documents in the UK indicated that Britain's Special Air Service (SAS) officials had been dispatched to help India in the planning on the raid of the Golden Temple.

However, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain's role was "limited" and "purely advisory" and had little impact on the actual assault.

Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid denied the allegations, saying there were no records indicating this and the entire operation was carried out by the Indian Army.
Top Indian Army official met Nepal Army chief to discuss bilateral defence ties
A top Indian Army official today metndian Armys Army chief General Gaurav Shumsher Rana and discussed matters related to bilateral defence ties.

Adjutant General of the Indian Army, Lt General Sanjeev Anand paid a courtesy call on Rana at the Nepal Army Headquarters.

During the meeting, they discussed about mutual cooperation and matters relating to bilateral relations between the Nepal Army and Indian Army, according to a statement issued by Nepal Army Headquarters.
India not 'Enemy' in Bangla Wargames

The Bangladesh Army for the first time had a break from formulating its training  around India as a threat. Its officers recently undertook war games, which did not assume its border with India as the warfront.

Surrounded on three sides, India looms over the mindscape of Bangladesh. Not surprising, therefore, that when Bangladesh military trains, the enemy it keeps in mind is uncannily similar to India.

A war game, a table-top exercise, is an indispensable tool to train senior military officers to evolve and ratify tactics and warfare doctrines. The enemy is not named in a war game. But based on the location of  international border and force levels, it’s very clear who the opponent is. With India trying to forge closer defence ties with Bangladesh Army, modifying the war game to make it less India-specific was an important objective.

“If all your doctrines and war postures are aimed at India, it does create a psychological barrier on how the neighbour is viewed,” said a senior government official. Bangladesh military plans for defensive manoeuvre, where the troops fall back to the next line of defence and keep on delaying an invading army.It was naturally a sensitive subject, which requires a change in mindset. During a bilateral visit in 2012, the Indian Army chief had broached the subject to his Bangladeshi counterpart. “We had requested them to mark international boundary for war games inside their borders and change the force levels so that they don’t coincide with that of India’s,” he said.

All the military training institutions in Bangladesh were set up soon after the Independence by officers who had trained with Pakistan Army. “The way the staff college has been conceptualised and structured was obviously influenced by their training,” said the official.

After two years, Defence Services Command and staff college that select officers to be better equipped for higher leadership role, made the changes -- the first time since the inception of Bangladesh’s Armed Forces.

The last war game for the training season began on January 23, 2014,and ended in about a week. It is learnt that the ‘enemy’ in the war game did not correspond with Bangladesh’s international boundary (IB) with India. “They delineated the IB inside their territory, though the force levels remained the same,” said the official.

The new Bangladeshi Army Chief, Iqbal Karim Bhuiyan, is one of the first of the next generation leaders to have no “organic links” with Pakistan Army.

The current period is widely seen as the most opportune moment for India to improve ties with an amenable Sheikh Hasina government and the Bangladesh Army. “Frankly, this is a golden period for us,” said another senior official.

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