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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

From Today's Papers - 30 Jul 2014

VVIP chopper deal: Proceedings against Finmeccannica shelved

Rome/New Delhi, July 29
Italian prosecutors have “shelved” proceedings against defence major Finmeccannica, the parent firm of AgustaWestland, saying it had nothing to do with the alleged corruption in India’s Rs 3,600-crore deal to procure 12 VVIP helicopters, Italian news agency Ansa reported.

India scrapped the deal on January 1 on the basis of alleged breach of pre-contract integrity pact and alleged payment of kickbacks to Indian agents by the firm to secure the contract.

Prosecutors in the northern Italian city of Busto Arsizio have shelved proceedings against Finmeccanica for the alleged corruption in the sale to the Indian government of 12 AW-101 helicopters made by its AgustaWestland subsidiary, Ansa said in its report.

They have stated that Finmeccanica has nothing to do with the offence, the company said in a statement issued in Italy.

The Italian firm said its two subsidiary companies have agreed to pay a fine in the contract, but not admitted to any wrongdoing.

“AgustaWestland SpA and its UK subsidiary AgustaWestland Ltd, together with the prosecutor, decided to ask for the application of administrative pecuniary sanctions of limited extent against them, also confirming the effectiveness of their control systems and the substantial strangeness towards the facts alleged by the prosecution of corruption assumed. It remains therefore excluded any admission of wrongdoing on the part of both companies," the firm said.

Finmeccannica said the "two companies have taken this decision (to pay fine) on the basis of the radical reorganisation of the Finmeccanica group, based on the desire to focus on the business activities and take full advantage of the potential of the market."

The Italian Government is the largest shareholder of Finmeccannica with a 30% stake. — PTI
 Sri Lankan navy arrests 50 Indian fishermen

Rameswaram, July 29
Fifty fishermen from Nagapattinam and Karaikal have been arrested by the Sri Lankan navy personnel for allegedly fishing near the Lankan coast. This is the second time this week that Indian fishermen have been arrested by the Lankan navy.

The fishermen, who were arrested around midnight on Monday, have been taken to Kankesanthurai along with their five mechanised boats and two country boats, ‘Q’ branch inspector Kennedy and fishermen’s association secretary S Emirit said.

The fishermen were arrested when they were fishing almost close to the Lankan coast, officials here said.

Joint director of fisheries Subburaj said they have also received information about the arrest.

On July 22, 38 fishermen from Kottaipattinam and Rameswaram were arrested by the Lankan navy on charges of crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line.

Fishermen of Ramanathapuram district have been boycotting fishing since July 24 highlighting their demands including putting an end to frequent “arrests and harassment” by Sri Lankan navy personnel.

Reiterating her government’s ‘firm commitment’ to restore traditional fishing rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Palk Bay and retrieval of Katchatheevu,” chief minister Jayalalithaa had last week written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the Centre’s intervention in securing the release of the fishermen. — PTI
How officers of China's People's Liberation Army embarrassed the India army chief
Army chief General Bikram Singh faced embarrassing questions from some officers of the People's Liberation Army during his recent visit to Beijing.

What exactly happened?
After Gen Singh finished his lecture at China's prestigious National Defence University, a woman Colonel from the audience asked him to explain Indian Army's stand on Arunachal Pradesh. The next question was on Tibet and the activities of Tibetan refugees in India.

How did Gen Singh react to the situation?
Though General Bikram Singh deftly handled both questions, he was taken aback by the unexpected and embarrassing queries, sources privy to the incident said. On the northeastern state claimed by China, the army chief said that "Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India". While on the activities of Tibetans living in India, he simply reiterated Indian government's stand that "India does not allow any foreign political activities from its soil," the sources said.

Who had invited Gen Singh to China?
The Indian Army chief visited the neighbouring country from July 2 to 5 on the invitation of China's Military Commission, the body that controls People's Liberation Army. He was the first Indian Army chief to have gone to China in seven years after Gen JJ Singh's visit in 2007.

What is China's stand on Arunchal Pradesh?
China claims Arunachal Pradesh to be its territory and has been embarrassing India from time to time on the issue. Whenever the residents of Arunachal Pradesh apply for Chinese visa, Beijing issues them stapled visas in order to reiterate its claim on the Indian state. It also registers its protest whenever Tibetan leader Dalai Lama visits Tawang in Arunchal Pradesh.

What is the status of talks on the border dispute?
India and China have so far held 17 rounds of talks by special representatives to resolve the boundary dispute.
Armies of India, Pakistan greet each other along LoC on Eid
Amid increasing hostilities triggered by ceasefire violations along Line of Control (LoC), the Armies of India and Pakistan on Tuesday exchanged sweets and greeted each other along LoC in Jammu and Kashmir on the occasion of Eid.

Army officers today greeted officers of Pakistani Army at a flag meeting at Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing point along LoC in Poonch district and later handed over sweets to them, a Defence Spokesman said.

Another such function was held at Roshni post along LoC in Poonch where Indian Army officers greeted Pakistani Army officers and exchanged sweets, he said.
India Should Watch Out for Spillover from North Waziristan Operation: Northern Army Commander to NDTV
Kargil:  With reports of some terrorists having moved from North Waziristan after operations by Pakistan there, the Chief of the Northern Army Command Lieutenant General DS Hooda says that India needs to remain vigilant about infiltration and the possible fallout of the operations in North Waziristan.

"We are very closely looking at Pakistani operations which are carrying on in North Waziristan, and whether there is some spillover because there are reports of terrorists from those areas of having moved on from those areas and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is a neighboring area to that, so whether there is any manifestation of that, and of course the larger Afghan issue," Lieutenant General Hooda told NDTV in an exclusive interview.

Lieutenant General Hooda was speaking to NDTV on the eve of the 15th Kargil Diwas, an annual ceremony in remembrance of the Indian army soldiers who laid down their lives during the Kargil War with Pakistan in 1999.

The Northern Army Command, that Lieutenant General Hooda leads, is the country's most operationally active command as it looks after the land borders with China and Pakistan. It is also responsible for looking after the Siachen Glacier region, the world's highest battlefield.

In his response to a question on the army's summer strategy of counter-infiltration, Lieutenant General Hooda said that the army's key challenges would revolve around the ongoing Amarnath trip as well as the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, expected to be held in October.

"We had to do some re-deployments to make sure that the Amarnath Yatra is successful and similarly as the election comes closer, a little more domination of the areas in the hinterland," Lieutenant General Hooda added.

The Indian Army continues to battle repeated ceasefire violations on the Line of Control from time to time. Last week, the Defence Minister informed Parliament that Pakistan had violated the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir 19 times since the new BJP-led government came to power.
Western Army Commander meets Haryana CM
The Western Army Commander Lt General Philip Campose today met Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda at his residence here.

General Philip, who is moving to Delhi to take over as Vice Chief of Army Staff, raised issues of mutual interest pertaining to military stations in Haryana during the meeting, an official release said.

The General thanked the Chief Minister for looking after the interests of the Defence community especially war widows and Army veterans.

The Chief Minister assured the General that his government would continue to give priority to solving problems of soldiers and appreciated the sacrifices made by the Indian Army for the nation, the release said.
Is India Ready for the Next Kargil?

New Delhi, July 29: The 15th anniversary of India's victory over Pakistan Army in the Kargil War was celebrated with much fervor and passion across many parts of India. Even as India's Defence Minister paid floral tributes to the martyrs and announced that the Government is in the process of finalizing a place for the construction of an iconic National War Memorial, one lingering question that should be given due importance is whether India has finally seen the back of the Kargil kind of saga. The lingering questions.... Can one completely rule out the possibility of another Kargil War? Is it necessary that the next Kargil would happen in Kargil? Is India prepared enough to make sure that the toll of the next Kargil War would not be that high and that it would be nipped in the bud? Can one entirely rule out the possibility of the next Kargil type siege being orchestrated from within the country by external elements? Fact of the matter is that no one can rule out any of the possibilities. On the positive side Over the last fifteen years, strength and arsenal of Indian Armed Forces have been increased considerably. The Indian Air Force now have around 190 frontline Su-30 MKI aircrafts and a whole new array of modern helicopters like new generation Mi-17 medium lift helicopters and Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters,, Indian Navy has added a large number of patrol ships, destroyers and frigates to its fleet while the Indian Army has tried to contain the void created by complete lack of acquisition of the new artilleries with induction of Smerch and Pinaka type Multiple Rocket Launch Systems (MRLS). Likewise Indian Army and Air Force now has a sizeable fleet of drones which keep constant vigil on vulnerable areas of borders in addition to support from satellite imaging. Meanwhile India has worked hard to reduce the mobilization period of its army to a mere 48 hours which is a commendable achievement and worked well master its Cold Start Doctrine. India is also augmenting the strength of the army with addition of a whole new Mountin strike Corps with 90,000 soldiers at a cost of a whopping Rs 65,000 crore. On the flip side... Yet one cannot at the same time deny that there are also major issues that continue to plague the Indian Armed Forces including gargantuan delay in acquisition of many critical equipment including light utility helicopters, combat aircrafts of the MMRCA category, critical artilleries which have not been inducted for decades and even something as basic as new generation infantry assault rifles. On the flip side there are also issues related to India's War Wastage Reserve (WWR) or the amount of ammunition it has to fight a war. Reports in media earlier this year indicated that India's WWR has reduced to less than half of what ideally it should be  with the Army not even having enough ammunition reserve to even fight a war for 20 days even when it ideally should have ammunition to fight 40 days of intense war to the least. The loopholes, the lacunae and the threats in East and South While one cannot deny the fact that the entire grid along the Line of Control with Pakistan has been considerably strengthened, the incident of 26/11 as well as the increasing intransigence of the Chinese Army along India's eastern borders raise issues about how the shape and location of the next Kargil War would be. The incident of 26/11 vindicated that what was presumed to be an impregnable sea border has now proved to be permeable. Even though efforts are being made to considerably augment the capacity of Indian Coast Guard, loopholes do remain and that cannot be ignored. In the same league, Southern India which was always considered to be out of bound of radical terror groups, is now witnessing real time threat from terror groups from inside as well as from neighboring Sri Lanka and especially Maldives which has evolved as a dangerous hub of radical extremism. Also, there are serious apprehensions of the existence of several sleeper cells of Laskhkar and other terror groups in India which are manned by Pakistani nationals living in disguise here. A volatile Pakistan continues to be a major nemesis The situation across the border in Pakistan continues to be extremely grave with on one side Tehreek e Taliban's assault in Karachi and their near stranglehold on the Sindh province is a real cause of worry for India. Given the demonstration of firepower and audacious attacks they executed on Pakistani Airports and military bases, it would be na├»ve to presume that they would never set their eyes on India. The ISIS factor and the threat of radical jihad in India Likewise, the sudden resurgence of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, termed as the deadliest terror organization of the world today, is also a major threat to India. Their influence, one should remember, is not just restricted to Middle East only. Recent reports about a large number of Indian Muslim youths having already either gone to Iraq to fight for ISIS ( or are planning to go, comes as a portentous news for the secular fabric of India's multicultural society. Already it is a known fact that India is in the scheme of things of ISIS so far as their sinister global ambition is concerned. Reports have also emerged about an alleged letter written by Maulana Syed Salman Hussaini Nadvi of the Darul Uloom Nadwa, Lucknow ( wherein it was alleged that he has sought help from the Saudi Government to help him fund the creation of a 5 lakh strong Jihadi force in India to fight for ISIS. Whether this allegation is authentic or not is subject to scrutiny but one cannot deny the fact that a certain proportion of support does exist in India for ISIS and its success in establishing Caliphate in Middle East. Combining this with the existing threat from SIMI, Indian Mujahideen as well as cross border terror organizations, one has to keep in mind that both the recurrence of a Kargil type incident or a 26/11 kind of a siege is extremely possible but the dimension of either need not be same as their previous occurrence. The appalling condition of Indian Police- Is it prepared to take on threats from inside? Reality is that India's Army, BSF or the naval forces are still better prepared to deal with an assault from across the border, but the condition of the internal security forces and especially the state level police forces is grim. There are serious doubts about their ability to provide a credible first line of defense if any major eventuality erupt from inside. Nearly six years after the happening of the 26/11 incident, ground realities so far as the ill preparedness of India's police forces have not changed much. Further, one cannot also deny the Maoist factor and the possibility of them resorting to major strike leading to a major siege of cities, either on their own or in alliance with other forces inimical to India. The issue of links between Maoists and ISI is not an alien one. It is therefore critical for India to have a new architecture of national security by combining the external and internal security threats and develop a holistic approach towards dealing with the next Kargil or 26/11. The next Kargil War need not happen in Kargil Given the worsening security situation both inside the country and in the immediate and distant neighborhood, the issue of the happening of the next Kargil or 26/11 is perhaps not a question of if but when. Developing a credible deterrence therefore is the only way out. The next Kargil War need not happen in Kargil just as the next 26/11 may not necessarily happen in Mumbai. India needs to be prepared for all kinds of eventualities.

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