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Saturday, 30 August 2014

From Today's Papers - 30 Aug 2014





















http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140830/main1.htm
Pak made spectacle of talks by meeting Hurriyat: Modi
Says any meaningful dialogue requires a terror-free environment
KV Prasad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 29
For the first time after India called off official-level talks with Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said New Delhi was disappointed that Islamabad sought to make a "spectacle" of the efforts it made to take the relationship forward by holding talks with the Hurriyat.

Ten days after India told Pakistan that the scheduled August 25 Foreign Secretary-level talks were off, the Prime Minister made public his thoughts during an interaction with the Japanese media on the eve of his five-day tour of the country.

Modi said that India desires peaceful, friendly and cooperative ties with Pakistan and recalled the "very good meeting" with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when he attended the swearing-in ceremony of his government this May.

"We together decided that the Foreign Secretaries should meet and explore how to take the relations forward. India has no hesitation in discussing any outstanding issues with Pakistan within the bilateral framework that has been established under the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration.

"We, therefore, were disappointed that Pakistan sought to make a spectacle of these efforts and went ahead with talks with secessionist elements from Jammu and Kashmir in New Delhi just prior to the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries," the Prime Minister said in response to a question on how he plans to improve the deteriorated relations.

Modi said while New Delhi would continue to make efforts, any meaningful bilateral dialogue necessarily requires an environment that is free from terrorism and violence. While the interaction covered both bilateral and international issues, it was for the first time that Prime Minister Modi chose to articulate his foreign policy.

He denied the government was currently taking any initiative to review the nuclear doctrine adopted during the NDA regime which specifies "no-first use". The response was to a question about the BJP manifesto that promised to revise and update the document to make it relevant to current times.

The nuclear policy continues to be a sensitive issue in Japan and Prime Minister Modi made it clear that India's position on the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is well-known. "India remains strongly committed to universal, non-discriminatory, global nuclear disarmament. Our track record of non-proliferation is impeccable... As to the CTBT, we are committed to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing."

The assertion assumes significance as India has made quite a progress in talks with Japan for a civil nuclear agreement and New Delhi hopes to convert it into a much-sought-after accord with Tokyo that Modi could return home with.

In addition, there is emphasis on scaling up defence and strategic ties with Japan as also accent on infrastructure, including the bullet train.

Modi himself alluded to these stating: "There has been significant progress in our negotiations on the civil nuclear agreement; on the US-2 amphibian aircraft; and in the field of high-speed railway. It is my hope that my visit this time will pave the way for concrete cooperation in these fields."

Modi avoided expressing views to a question on China's "expansionism" instead suggesting that while New Delhi was working to realise the full potential of its strategic and cooperative partnership with Beijing -- as major countries in the continent -- India, China and Japan need to work together, build on common interests and convert the 21st century into an Asian century.

Not reviewing ‘no-first use’ N-doctrine: PM

    Modi, who was speaking to the Japanese media ahead of his Tokyo tour, denied the government was taking any initiative to review the nuclear doctrine adopted during the NDA regime which specifies "no-first use".
    “We remain strongly committed to universal, non-discriminatory, global nuclear disarmament,” he said, adding India’s track record of non-proliferation was impeccable
    On CTBT, Modi said India was committed to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing



http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140830/main4.htm
US copters for Mountain Strike Corps
MoD scraps tender for purchase of light copters, likely to be made within country
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 29
The government has decided to purchase two separate types of US-produced specialised helicopters, one used in attack role and the other for lifting heavy load.

Currently, the Indian Air Force has been using Russian/Soviet produced helicopters in both the roles. The move indicates a shift in New Delhi preferences for buying military equipment.

Clearance for the $ 2.5 billion (approx Rs 15,000 crore) purchase for these helicopters was accorded at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex decision-making body of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) today. It also cleared proposals worth Rs 17,000 crore.

The meeting chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley accepted the proposals of US company Boeing that will supply these copters — 15 heavy lift CH47F Chinook and 22 AH-64-D Apache — meant for the newly created Mountain Strike Corps.

The 22 Apache Longbow gunships, armed with Hellfire and Stinger missiles, will be worth US $ 1.4 billion.

The 15 Chinooks, equipped with powerful contra-rotating tandem rotors, will be for $ 1.1 billion. The US copters won the bid in an open competition beating the Russian-built Mi-26 and the Mi-28-H. Moscow, in the past, had protested the choice and said that US copters were no match to theirs, claiming that the US itself was buying Russian copters for forces in Afghanistan.

Notably, the DAC decided to scrap the tender to procure 197 helicopters for the Indian Army and the IAF. The European Airbus helicopters and the Russian Kamov were in the race for the 197 copter bid pending since 2010.

This throws up three options: First that the MoD-owned public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited ties up with a foreign collaborator. Second, private companies like Tatas, Reliance or Mahindra tie up with foreign partners. Third, the Indian Government could accept US offer made by its Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel to co-produce the copter.

The light helicopter is used by the Indian Army and the IAF in the mountains.

Boeing to supply 37 choppers

    Defence Acquisition Council cleared proposals worth Rs 17,000 crore
    The meeting chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley accepted the proposals of US company
    Boeing will supply these copters
    India will get 15 heavy lift CH47F Chinook and 22 AH-64-D Apache meant for the newly created Mountain Strike Corps




http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140829/DEFREG03/308290033/India-Cancels-1-Billion-Light-Helicopter-Tender
India Cancels $1 Billion Light Helicopter Tender
NEW DELHI — India has canceled the purchase of 197 Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) worth $1 billion in which Airbus Helicopter’s AS550 was competing with Russia’s Ka-226T built by Kamov. The cancellation followed lengthy corruption investigations.

Cancellation of the LUH helicopter program, which was a re-tender from an earlier cancellation, would hamper Indian Army logistics operations in the Himalayas above 20,000 feet. The Army has been waiting eight years for new helicopters to replace aging Cheetah and Chetak platforms, said an Army official.

The Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, made by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. under license, are 40 years old and being flown beyond their age limitations, the Army official added.

The decision to cancel the LUH tender was made Friday by the Defense Acquisition Council, which is headed by the defense minister and is the highest Defence Ministry agency that makes decisions on weapon purchases.

“The move to cancel the LUH tender even at the cost of defense preparedness by the new government is contrary to expectations,” said defense analyst Nitin Mehta.

Last week, the Defence Ministry officially announced the imposition of a partial ban on purchases of weapons from Italy’s Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries in the wake of investigations by India’s anti-fraud agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), into alleged corruption charges regarding the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters by the Indian Navy in 2010 from AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica subsidiary.

An MoD source said cancellation of the LUH tender comes after allegations of corruption against an Indian Army brigadier general, which surfaced last year during investigations into the VVIP helicopter program. The official allegedly promised to swing the LUH deal in favor of AgustaWestland. AgustaWestland, however, was eliminated at the technical evaluation stage in 2010.

The MoD source added that the CBI has leveled charges against the unnamed Indian Army brigadier general for his alleged involvement in manipulating the trial report of the LUH procurement.

The recent LUH tender was canceled after an earlier tender for LUH had already been canceled. In 2007, Eurocopter, with its Fennec helicopter, was on the verge of being declared the winner when US-based Bell Helicopter complained to the Defence Ministry about a lack of transparency in the procurement. The tender was canceled in 2008 and reissued in 2009.


http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/govt-scraps-light-utility-helicopter-tender-opens-it-to-indian-players/
Centre scraps light utility helicopter tender, opens it to Indian players
The government on Friday scrapped a tender worth Rs 6,000 crore to procure 197 light utility helicopters from foreign vendors for the armed forces and decided to allow domestic players to manufacture these helicopters.

Scrapping the tender, the Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley put the acquisition under the “Buy and Make Indian” category, allowing the Indian industry to make the helicopters under a joint venture with a foreign manufacturer.

This is the second defence tender under the new government to be opened to the Indian industry. Last month, the government had opened the process to develop 56 transport aircraft to the domestic private sector.

The scrapping of the tender is significant as former defence minister A K Antony had deferred a decision on it following the VVIP helicopters scam. Investigations into the scam had also revealed alleged kickbacks in the light utility helicopters procurement process.

In January, the Central Bureau of Investigation had registered a case against a Brigadier working with Army Aviation Corps for allegedly fudging trial flight records of these helicopters.

While this decision is likely to spell bad news for two foreign vendors — one European and one Russian — who were in the race to equip the Indian forces with 197 light utility helicopters to replace their aging Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, sources in the Defence Ministry said it is likely to bring in business worth Rs 40,000 crore for the Indian industry.

“The DAC retracted the Request for Proposal for the procurement of 197 LUH and decided that it would be under Buy and Make Indian category. It confirms the policy of the Indian government to encourage Indian industry,” an MoD official said.

While clearing proposals worth Rs 20,000 crore in one go, the Defence Acquisition Council also cleared decks for the procurement of 22 Chinook heavy lift helicopters and 15 Apache attack helicopters for the IAF by approving the offset proposals of the US manufacturer. Jaitley also cleared the proposals for Navy, which include equipping 11 of its ships — four destroyers and seven frigates — with anti-submarine warfare suit at Rs 1,770 crore and a mid-life upgrade for six of its submarines at Rs 4,800 crore.

It also accorded extension of the Acceptance of Necessity for the indigenous MBT Arjun Mk-II tank, clearing the Rs 6,600 crore purchase for the Army, a mobile cellular communication system for 3, 4 and 14 Corps at Rs 900 crore and 40 self-propelled guns on the MBT Arjun chassis — provided all of them successfully completes the validation trials.


http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/29/pakistan-army-chief-talks-khan-qadri
Pakistan 'soft coup' fears as army chief holds talks with protest leaders


Pakistan's army chief took centre stage in a national political crisis on Thursday night by holding talks with two protest leaders who have been agitating on the streets of Islamabad for the overthrow of the elected government for the last two weeks.

Politician and former cricketer Imran Khan and a Muslim cleric, Tahir-ul-Qadri, left their protest camps outside parliament for back-to-back audiences with Raheel Sharif, the general in charge of Pakistan's 500,000-strong army.

Officials said the general had agreed to mediate in a bitter stand-off between the government, Khan and Qadri – who have brought thousands of their followers to Islamabad.

The development was widely seen as a decisive re-assertion of power by an institution that has directly or indirectly ruled Pakistan for most of its history.

It was fiercely criticised by politicians and commentators as a major setback for the country and even described by some as a "soft coup" by the army. One key ally of Khan, a veteran politician called Javed Hashmi, said the army's involvement was a "shameful time for all politicians".

On Friday prime minister Nawaz Sharif, attempted to distance himself from the matter, telling MPs he had not requested the army chief's help.

"The army did not ask to play the role of mediator, neither have we requested them to play such a role," he told the National Assembly. Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on Pakistan's military, said Sharif would now only be able to serve out the rest of his term as a "ceremonial prime minister".

"Any gains made in the last eight years to strengthen democracy have been rolled back," she said.

Sharif, a politician who lost power during the 1999 military takeover, was elected last year determined to curb the power of the army.

He enraged the military establishment by ordering the trial of former dictator Pervez Musharraf for treason, pushing for deeper trade ties with arch-enemy India and siding with the country's biggest television station after it accused the army of trying to kill one of its journalists.

On Thursday a senior aide to the prime minister said the army had agreed to help the prime minister defuse the crisis on the condition he left key areas of national affairs to the army, principally foreign and defence policy towards Afghanistan and India.

The aide said among the specific army demands was that Sharif should not call for investigations into firing by Pakistani troops across contested areas of the border with India, of which there has been an upsurge in recent weeks.

The prime minister's reliance on the army chief for survival was underlined by the regular meetings he has had with Sharif in recent days to discuss the crisis.

Some government officials believe the army deliberately encouraged Khan and Qadri to launch their protests to create the circumstances that would allow the army to intervene.

Khan, who has a fondness for cricket metaphors, has frequently hinted during the two-week political drama that a "third umpire" would at some point "raise his finger" and send the prime minister packing.

But it remains unlikely the army will support Khan's demand for the prime minister to be sacked.

Any unconstitutional move would risk billions of dollars of much needed US assistance. Sharif also enjoys solid support in parliament and the quiet endorsement of the US, which rejects Khan's claims that Sharif stole last year's election through industrial-scale rigging.

In the early hours of Friday morning, after his meeting with Sharif at Army House in the neighbouring city of Rawalpindi, Khan returned to his supporters to insist he would not drop his demand for the prime minister to step down.

"Our sit-in will not be called off until prime minister Sharif resigns," he told what remained of the crowd that gathers each night amid a carnival-like atmosphere to hear music and speeches.

Khan has watered down his demands somewhat, and now calls for Sharif to temporarily step down as prime minister whilst a judicial inquiry investigates claims of electoral fraud.

Qadri, a Barelvi cleric who spends most of his time in Canada, has also narrowed his focus. Although he wants to sweep away Pakistan's democratic system, which he says is irremediably corrupt, in recent days his demands have centred on a murder inquiry into the killing of his supporters in June.

At least 10 people died during clashes in Lahore after police attempted to remove security barriers near Qadri's office.

On Thursday, in an apparent bid to appease Qadri, the prime minister's office said a murder case had been registered against senior government officials including Sharif.

The inquiry may ultimately force Sharif's younger brother Shahbaz to resign from his powerful position as chief minister of Punjab province.



http://www.financialexpress.com/news/-make-in-india-kicks-off-with-defence-deals/1283741
Make in India kicks off with defence deals
Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day “Make in India” mantra, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by defence minister Arun Jaitley on Friday scrapped the tender for 197 light utility helicopters (LUH) for the Indian Air Force and the aviation arm of the Indian Army. Instead, it opened it under the “Buy and Make Indian” category, opening it for the Indian defence industry.

This means the Indian industry will now be able to make this aircraft under a joint venture with a foreign original equipment manufacturer under a transfer of technology deal. The approximately Rs 6,000-crore deal for 197 helicopters is the second after the government opened the programme for 56 transport aircraft to the Indian private sector at the DAC meeting last month.

While the decision is likely to spell bad news for European and Russian vendors vying for the contract to replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, sources in the defence ministry said opening the deal for the Indian industry could eventually bring in Rs 40,000 crore of business which will include producing a larger number of helicopters as well as creating a supply chain for spare parts as well as maintenance.

“The DAC retracted the request for proposal for the procurement of 197 LUH and decided that it would be under Buy and Make Indian category. It confirms the policy of the Indian government to encourage Indian industry,” a defence ministry official said.

The DAC also cleared proposals worth Rs 20,000 crore in one go, including the procurement of 22 Chinook heavy lift choppers and 15 Apache attack helicopters for the IAF by approving the offset proposals of the US manufacturer.

Jaitley also cleared the Rs 1,770-crore proposal for the navy that include equipping 11 ships — four destroyers and seven frigates — with anti-submarine warfare equipment. Also cleared was the mid-life upgrade for six submarines — four Sindhughosh class and two Shishumar class — jointly by the Russian OEM and India for Rs 4,800 crore.

The DAC also extended the “acceptance of necessity” for the indigenous Arjun Mk-II tank (basically clearing the R6,600-crore purchase for the army), and approved a mobile cellular communication system for the 3, 4 and 14 Corps (R900 crore) and 40 self-propelled guns on the MBT Arjun chassis, provided all of them successfully complete the validation trials.

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