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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

From Today's Papers - 11 Mar 2014

 ITBP chief for sprucing up border infrastructure
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, march 10
Stressing on the need to develop border roads and infrastructure along the India-China border, Director-General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Subhas Goswami said this would help in countering intrusions from the other side, prevent migration from border villages to the plains and act as a ‘force multiplier’.

Goswami said the ITBP, which is presently guarding the 3,488 km-long India-China border, will raise three new battalions for India’s North-East sector next year.

“Border roads and infrastructure are a strategic requirement,” said the DG at the Border and Naxal Management Security Technology Summit India 2014 held here today. The ITBP had recently held three seminars, one in Shillong, Meghalaya, and two in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, for sensitising local stakeholders to develop border infrastructure along the India-China border.

According to Goswami, there was consensus on the establishment of good road connectivity; developing a mechanism for pulling resources from government agencies; constant monitoring of border projects; creation of a ‘special purpose utility vehicle’ for undertaking road construction tasks, more functional airfields in the region, strengthening of policing in the border areas and speeding the drafting of proposals for roads under the new land acquisition act.

He also said that border roads are agents of change and provide connectivity. “To counter intrusion, mobility is a critical factor,” explained the DG. He also explained that the development of the border areas will check migration. “Border development should be seen as a security requirement. Unless we don’t develop it, there will be migration from the border areas to the plains. We also need to give due thought to relaxing the recruitment norms for induction into the security forces for individuals from border areas,” he said. He added that some parts of the border areas are good tourist destinations that can be very gainfully exploited.

While explaining the problems in the setting up of border infrastructure, Goswami said that environmental instructions should be waived for national security related projects. Sources in the security establishment explained that a main impediment to construction of the border roads is the delay in acquiring forest and environmental clearances.

Three new battalions

* Director-General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Subhas Goswami said the aim is to counter intrusions from the other side and prevent migration from border villages to the plains

* Goswami said the ITBP, which is presently guarding the 3,488 km-long India-China border, will raise three new battalions for India’s North-East sector next year
 LS poll to put Army to test in J&K
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 10
Maintaining peace in Jammu and Kashmir will be a challenge for the Army during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The reason is twofold. One, the number of foreign militants operating in the strife-torn state has gone up since the onset of winter. Second, there are intelligence inputs that militants could resort to suicide attacks to create terror.

The state has only six parliamentary constituencies, but the elections will be held in five phases so that the security forces are available in adequate numbers in the areas going to the polls. Two parliamentary constituencies are in the Jammu region, three in Kashmir and one in Ladakh.

Jammu and Baramulla constituencies share border with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The apprehension about suicide attacks stems from Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader Maulana Masood Azhar’s speech made at Muzaffarabad in PoK threatening to conduct suicide attacks in India during rallies ahead of the General Election.
 Ensure safety of subs, Antony to DRDO, Nav 

New Delhi, March 10
Defence Minister AK Antony has asked the Navy and the DRDO to maintain highest safety standards in the nuclear submarine fleet of the country after the mishap at the site of an under-construction vessel at Visakhapatnam in which one person was killed.

He has also asked the Department of Defence Production to review the safety standards in all defence PSUs and shipyards after a mishap late last week in which a commander-rank officer was killed and two people were hospitalised in the Mazagon Docks, Defence Ministry officials said.

The Defence Minister talked to DRDO chief Avinash Chander and Navy’s acting chief Vice Admiral Robin Dhowan on the issue and asked them to ensure observance of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and maintenance of safety standards, they said.

After the mishap at the facility in Eastern Naval Command to build follow-up submarines of the Arihant Class, the DRDO has ordered an inquiry into the incident and asked authorities, including the contractors, to observe the highest safety standards and adhere to the SOPs, they said.

Though the incident did not have any direct impact on the nuclear submarine programme, the government has taken it seriously as it involved nuclear assets, officials said. The safety departments in the submarines and their construction shipyards are also to be reviewed and strengthened after the mishap, they said. — PTI
 Vizag N-sub mishap industrial, not related to Navy: DRDO

Chennai, March 10
The DRDO probing the March 8 accident at the site of an under-construction nuclear submarine in Visakhapatnam today said it was not related to the Navy, but was an industrial accident.

The under-construction nuclear submarine was a follow-up of the Navy's warship, INS Arihant. One person was killed and two injured in the accident at the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam on March 8. The DRDO chief had ordered an inquiry into the accident.

"What happened at Visakhapatnam has nothing to do with the Navy. It was an industrial accident," DRDO Director General Avinash Chander said. Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function here today, Chander said a DRDO team was inspecting the accident site and it would take probably another week to exactly analyse what went wrong.

"We have to see whether there was a human error. That's why it will take some time and our team is on the job," he said. The Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister said when components go through various levels of testing before they are cleared for use. "Therefore, there was this system, which was getting tested. Naturally, when you test, there can be malfunctions."

"We are going to ensure that whatever causes we will find, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that such events will not take place. A higher level of safety will be incorporated," the Defence Secretary (R&D) said.

The incident took place when the pressure of the hydraulic tank of the Arihant-class submarine was being tested and the tank's lid fell on L&T workers at Building 5 of the ship building centre. Under the Arihant class submarine development programme, India is building around three submarines which have not yet been named so far.

The first vessel of the class INS Arihant is expected to be launched for sea trials within a month or two and these are expected to be completed within this year. Recently, Navy officials had said after trials of INS Arihant were completed that it would be ready for induction into operational service.

The ATV project is directly under the DRDO and the Navy plays a significant role in it. — PTI

Clean chit

* One person was killed and two injured during a hydro pressure test on an under-construction nuclear submarine on March 8

* DRDO Director General Avinash Chander said the mishap was industrial and not related to the Navy

* India is building three submarines that have not yet been named under the Arihant class submarine development programme.
E-forums Play Brand Ambassadors of Defence

It’s raining pages on Indian defence. And, their numbers are rising every day on the virtual world. While all the three major wings of services have their own websites for publicity, what seems to be overtaking these official online missions are the ones being promoted by individuals and groups, who romance the Armed Forces. Some pages engage the visitors in serious debates, while there are many purely jingoistic in nature.

The Army has maximum number of FB pages followed by the Air Force and the Navy. But, the IAF seems to be having an upper hand with many pages individually propagating its assets, including the Sukhois, the MiGs and even the Tejas.

The recent spate of scams and accidents that hit the defence have turned some of these pages into fertile grounds to vent out their anger against the establishment.

Responding to Express’ email queries, Jagan Pillarisetti one of the promoters of, a top-rated website that discusses India’s defence programmes threadbare, says that the growing number of forums act as a meeting ground for the common-minded people.

“They also help in people getting easy access to information and images. Some forums have  Evolved into highly specialised and research focused groups. A single question would bring up many supporting answers,” says Jagan, who has authored many books on the IAF.

On the number of defence pages mushrooming on the FB, Jagan feels that it has added a new dimension to knowledge-sharing. “They are providing aninstant fix to people and enable them to discuss the technicalities with fellow enthusiasts. The only issue with these FB pages are that, their formats doesn’t allow space for a serious discussion. The posts tend to get lost and searching for them is a pain. Also, the noise and signal ratio is too high,” says Jagan.

According to Krish Yadav, one of the admins of Indian Army Fans, a popular propaganda FB page with over 15 lakh ‘Likes’, it is an emotional missionrunning the page. “We depend on information from our friends in the Indian Army and media. Most visitors get emotionally connected with us and over the years we have become a one-stop window for curious followers of notjust Indian Army, but other forces as well. We have taken up many initiatives to inspire youngsters to join the Indian Army, in addition to being an a vibrant voice of the forces in spearing various recruitment drives,” says Yadav, who operates out of Delhi.

While the services want their men to stay away from various online interactive forums sighting security reasons, the Army has an official page on FB (Indianarmy.adgpi), which disseminates information periodically.

“It has helped us to read the pulse of people, which wasn’t the case before. Earlier, we had to depend on our internal mechanisms and also media reports for feedback. Our FB mission has been encouraging so far,” says an official, attached to the media wing of the Army. Interestingly, there are some pages being operated by those serving in the Armed Forces, discreetly. A Special Forces (SF) operative, currently posted in a sensitive area tells Express (via a FB message) that he started the page to inspire fellow soldiers. “We (SF) are the unsung heroes of the Armed Forces and the recently-launched page is purely to inspire fellow buddies.
Indian Army To Upgrade T-90 Tanks With Domestic Help

NEW DELHI — The Indian Army will upgrade more than 600 Russian-built T-90 tanks by adding new features and replacing their thermal imaging sights, navigation systems and fire control systems at a cost of more than $250 million.

The Indian Ministry of Defence formally approved the Army’s three-year-old proposal for the T-90 upgrade Feb. 24, and the tender for the upgrade will be sent only to domestic defense companies, an MoD source said.

The upgraded T-90 tanks will have air-conditioning systems, which will be developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The tanks’ existing armor protection systems, navigation gear, thermal imaging sights and fire control systems will be replaced.

India contracted to acquire 310 T-90s from Russia in 2001, 190 of which were license-produced at the Avadi-based, state-owned ordnance factory. Another contract was signed in 2007 for the licensed production of 330 tanks. The lack of an air conditioning system in these tanks caused damage to their thermal imaging systems when operating in hot climates, an Army official said.

The Army plans to procure a total of 1,657 T-90s by 2020, which will include 1,000 tanks produced indigenously under full transfer of technology from Russia, with all parts made in India.

“DRDO had earlier attempted to mount air conditioning systems on the tanks, but were stopped by Russia, citing intellectual property rights,” said Arun Sehgal, a retired Army brigadier general and defense analyst.

“The Russians were then asked to fit the air conditioning systems in the T-90 tanks, but the attempt was unsuccessful,” Sehgal said. The intellectual property rights issue has since been resolved between India and Russia.

Another Army official said, “The thermal imaging system of the T-90 tanks were faulty from the initial stage.”

Rahul Bhonsle, another retired Indian Army brigadier general and defense analyst, said, “A major part of the proposed upgrade will include providing an enhanced fire control potential because in the comparative trials between the Arjun and T-90 tanks last year, the Arjun had demonstrated a superior sighting system than the Russian tank.”

The Army carried out comparative trials between the heavier homemade Arjun and the lighter Russian-built T-90 in the deserts of Rajasthan last year, with the aim of assessing the Arjun’s combat worthiness.

Both the Arjun and T-90 are being produced at the Avadi factory. Production of the Mark-1 model of the Arjun has begun with 124 tanks ordered. The first Mark-2 models, of which 124 also are ordered, are expected by early 2016.

The indigenous production of about 1,000 additional T-90s has been contracted, but production has not yet begun.

“The Russians have not provided full-scale [intellectual property rights] and are withholding some critical designs; thus, full-scale indigenization has been held up in Avadi,” Bhonsle said.

A Russian diplomat, however, said Russia is supplying all necessary technology, and that the responsibility for production delays rests with the Avadi factory.

An official of the Ordnance Factory Board, which administers the Avadi factory, said the Russians have supplied only 40 percent of the technology and nearly none since 2008.|head
India To Seek Home-built Replacement for Air Defense Guns

NEW DELHI — The Indian Army will replace its aging Swedish-built 40mm L/70 air defense guns with weapons from domestic companies, a Defence Ministry source said, after the cancellation of a global tender floated last year that failed to elicit any response from overseas defense companies.

The MoD decided this month to float a $400 million domestic-only tender, the source said, to purchase 430 gun systems to replace the four-decade-old L/70 guns.

The 2013 tender was submitted to Israel Aerospace Industries, Thales, Bumar, Rosoboronexport and BAE Systems. While no executive from the overseas defense companies would respond, an MoD source said the companies did not respond to the tender because they found the program uneconomical.

An executive with private Indian firm Larsen & Toubro (L&T) said it would tie up with overseas defense companies to compete for the tender.

The tender, expected to be issued in three months, will go to state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) and the Ordnance Factory Board, and to private-sector companies Tata Power SED, L&T, Punj Lloyd and Bharat Forge.

The new L/70 guns, which will be bought from local companies along with ammunition, will be used to protect areas of tactical importance in the mountains, plains, desert and semi-desert terrain.

The guns will be towed or mounted on a high-mobility vehicle, an Indian Army official said.

The new guns will be linked to advanced fire-control radars to automatically lock on to the target and signal the fire. The Army requires that the guns have the ability to engage air targets at a range of at least 4,000 meters and be capable of firing 1,000 rounds per minute.

The Army operates about 2,000 L/70s, bought in the 1960s from Sweden, and upgraded in 1995 by BEL by adding a digital fire-control system. The gun’s rate of fire was increased from 240 to 300 rounds per minute by the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation.

The Army has been pressing since 1997 for a full upgrade of the L/70s, including the addition of advanced radars, upgraded night-vision devices and the use of smart ammunition.
The crisis of India’s defence preparedness
If the travails of our armed forces are any indication, A.K. Antony’s quest for probity has come at a heavy cost for India

Much has been written on the economic mismanagement by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over the last ten years. But as the country gets ready for an epic electoral battle, the gross negligence of India’s defence preparedness under its longest serving defence minister is a far more worrying trend. A defence minister is not just another minister sitting in a dandy office in Delhi. His duties are onerous: He is the chief manager of the country’s present and future preparedness to ward-off attacks from a combination of state and non-state actors. A.K. Antony has been found wanting on both counts.
Sinking ships and subs
Accidents at Indian Navy establishments is now almost a weekly occurrence. On Saturday, a civilian worker was killed in an accident in an under-construction nuclear submarine at a shipbuilding site in Visakhapatnam. The accident happened a day after a Navy commander died aboard INS Kolkata. He died because the fire suppression systems on board the warship malfunctioned and he inhaled a large amount of carbon dioxide. About ten days before this, two people were killed and seven injured aboard INS Sindhuratna after a fire in the submarine.
In August 2013, INS Sindhurakshak, another submarine, sank at Mumbai’s naval dockyard, killing all 18 crew members on board.
The Indian Navy has suffered several such incidents in the last year, raising serious questions about the safety of its ships and submarines.
From any perspective these incidents are alarming. The Indian Navy has a long tradition of building, operating and maintaining a diversity of naval craft and equipment. Is it possible that in a single year, this branch of the armed forces has become so sloppy that accidents have become routine? Or are there other reasons behind this epidemic of accidents? As defence minister, Antony should have been awake to both possibilities and taken some interest in getting to the bottom of the matter. All he did was order some enquiries and left the matter at that.
This attitude befits a bureaucrat and not a political leader responsible for India’s defence. When the Sindhuratna accident happened, the chief of Naval Staff, Admiral D.K. Joshi, resigned. The government accepted his resignation in a haste. But if the Navy chief accepted his responsibility, why couldn’t the political leadership do that?
The ministry of defence is one ministry where systems and procedures are in place for virtually everything—from accidents to the purchase of equipment. In that case, what is the role of the minister? What leadership does he provide?
The years ahead
Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Army are grappling with their own problems, with major acquisition programmes being put on hold. Here Antony’s intervention, negative as it is, is more evident.
The IAF made a demand for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) in 2001. Eleven years later, it was announced that France’s Dassault Rafale had won the bid. At more than Rs.60,000 crore, this was one of the biggest defence deals to be signed by India. However, in February, Antony announced that the ministry had no money left to sign the deal this year.
Similarly, the Army announced plans to acquire 145 M777 howitzers in 2010; the defence ministry in February deferred a decision on the purchase. India has not bought artillery guns since the Bofors deal in 1986.
There are two repercussions of these delays:
1) The costs of these deals are skyrocketing. There are reports that by January 2014, the cost of the Rafale deal had escalated by 100%. The cost of the howitzer deal has gone up by 75%.
2) The greater the delay, the more obsolete such equipment becomes even as the country’s adversaries modernize their military. Last week, China announced it is increasing military spending by 12.2%. At nearly $132 billion, the Chinese budget is $100 billion more than India’s $36 billion.
The defence ministry in any country is one of the most important departments of the government. Its decisions and policies have to be framed not only keeping current realities in mind but also keeping ever changing, long-term dynamics in the country’s neighbourhood and the world in perspective.
Countries across the world have evolved different institutions to cope with these challenges. In the US, for example, there is close coordination between military authorities, the political leadership and academia to plan future priorities. Day-to-day management of military and politico-military affairs engages the civilian leadership deeply.
As India grows economically, its military abilities have to grow hand-in-hand, if only to safeguard its economic interests.
Antony’s keenness to keep his image clean by ensuring that corrupt practices don’t creep into big tender defence purchases has come at a cost. His preferred solution has been to blacklist a large number of defence contractors. This has served no one: there will be “honesty” in the ministry now for the simple reason that there are no purchases being made.
It would have been an achievement if he had streamlined defence purchases without corrupt practices creeping in.
If the travails of our armed forces are any indication, Antony’s quest for probity has come at a heavy cost for India.

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