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Saturday, 13 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 13 Sep 2014

Army to hand over relief ops to local admn
Sources say there are apprehensions about separatists inciting people against armed forces
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 12
Nine days after the Indian Army and Indian Air Force were inducted to carry out rescue operations in flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir, the soldiers will hand over within 10 days the relief and rehabilitation operations – providing food, water, medicines, clothing and ration – to the local administration.

The work of the forces in the J&K flood operations has changed in the past 24 hours and it will change further in the next 48 hours. Now, the focus is on relief work and providing essential commodities.

The floodwater of the Jhelum river has started receding and people who had been evacuated want to go back to their homes, while in other localities where people wanted to stay put inside their homes have been assisted with provisions.

The number of Army columns (comprising 160 men each) on duty was also reduced to 265 from 329 today. Sources said there were four aspects from here on. Firstly, thousands of people have to be evacuated from Srinagar and Jammu on IAF’s transport planes as the national highway is snapped. Secondly, tourists trapped across the right bank of the Jhelum – that criss-crosses Srinagar – need to be rescued on boats to the left bank where the airport in located for onward evacuation to Delhi or to Chandigarh.

Thirdly, the forces need to bring in a lot of things that will be needed immediately such water suction pumps and generators. Drinking water is being picked up by the IAF from Chandigarh and Pathankot.

The Army moved in its field hospital — the fifth one since operations began. Each can have up to 15 patients.

Fourthly, the relief material has to be distributed in localities. With winter setting in, it is expected to be a long haul. The Army is currently running five relief camps where food and lodging are being provided.

The forces have been tasked with sending relief material till everything normalises, but its distribution will be the work of the local administration.

Sources say one of the reasons is that separatists may incite people against the forces and things may turn ugly as the soldiers are carrying their weapons.

This was the first rescue operation conducted by the soldiers while wearing bullet-proof jackets, said a senior functionary in Delhi.

Today in Srinagar, relief was provided to around 11,000 civilians in the most affected areas of Shivpora, Ram Munshi Bagh, Haft Chinar, Rajbag Tatoo Ground, Tankpura, Jawahar Nagar, Gorgi Bag and other adjoining areas.

The Army used 13 Cheetah helicopters and a similar number of advanced light helicopters to drop in food packets, water bottles and medicines to a large number of villages in south Kashmir, Srinagar and some areas of north Kashmir.

The other aspect of rehabilitation is restoring communication lines. The Army, BSNL and some of the private companies have been dispatched to restore the communication system in the state.

To meet the immediate energy requirement, 22,000 litres of fuel from Ambala have been transported to the Valley.

At least 8,200 blankets and 1,074 tents were provided to the flood victims. Eighty medical teams of the armed forces are already operating in full swing. A mobile oxygen generation plant is also being transported from Delhi to the flood-affected area. So far, 1,34,000 persons have been rescued by the armed forces and the NDRF from different parts of Jammu & Kashmir in the ongoing rescue and relief operations.
Water receding, people want to return home
The floodwater of the Jhelum has started receding and people who had been evacuated want to return to their homes
The number of Army columns (comprising 160 men each) on duty was also reduced to 265 from 329 on Friday
The forces have been tasked with sending relief material till everything normalises, but its distribution will be the work of the local administration
 Air-dropping supplies a tricky task
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

On board Army helicopter (Kashmir), September 12
The air-dropping of essential supplies is a tricky task, which has to be carried out for tens of thousands of people marooned in various areas of the flood-ravaged state.

The Tribune team, on board a chopper, found air-dropping relief material a mammoth task. Two helicopters hovered above a marooned area in Sannat Nagar and gradually lowered their machines to a certain height.

Then dispatchers got down to their task — dropping water, food packets and medicines for the people.

The helicopters dropped these supplies on higher and dry grounds for obvious reasons. The Tribune team found several people beneath eagerly awaiting the relief material to be air-dropped.

“Once we see people crowding a place of air-drop, our pilots shift to a place close by to avoid melee among the people because everyone should get relief,” said a senior Army officer.

A single Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv) in Kashmir lifts and drops 30,000 kg of supplies from dawn to dusk in a single day.

At the same time, this indigenously built flying machine — ALH — rescues and evacuates 500 people daily. “We are into all sorts of operations. From dropping supplies to evacuating people and carrying heavy equipment such as battery-operated water pump sets and pipes,” said Col Vikram Khatri.

“As stagnant water has started receding gradually in Srinagar, water pump sets and pipes are being airlifted and then ferried to places where they were required. An exercise seems to be on the cards to start draining out water from where it has receded. We work for 14 to 15 hours a day picking up relief material from the JAKLI headquarters and then carrying it to the Badami Bagh cantonment, Bemina, Rajbagh and Qazibagh,” he added.
Obama vs ISIS
US President targets the terror group

President Barack Obama has spoken. He has given a broad outline of his strategy of containing and ultimately defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Even as the US President said: "If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven", he was clear that the danger from the ISIS was a potential, but not an imminent, threat. However, he was not jingoistic in committing more US troops on the ground in Iraq, far from it. He was also not hesitant in maintaining that he would work with a "broad coalition" of US allies. The US finds itself once again in a theatre it had got out of with great difficulty.

The ISIS made major advances in Iraq while the US and the West dithered. By now it controls a significant swath of territory both in Iraq and Syria, where the US does not have forces. While the US air power gives it a great advantage, it is not enough, since it comes tied with a policy of not putting American soldiers on the ground. In Iraq, the new government of Haider al-Abadi has found acceptability among the Sunnis and the Shias, and seems more inclusive. The US will need to support it, even as it ensures that all sections of society are included in governance. This is a tall order, given the deep Shia/Sunni cleavage in the country, which is what the ISIS has effectively exploited.

The "degrade-and-ultimately-destroy-ISIS" objective cannot be carried out by a military strategy. It needs a multi-layered nuanced approach, and will take significant time and effort. The US actions will need to be coupled with an improvement on the ground, for which the US has to work with the government in Iraq. As for Syria, the man fighting the ISIS there is President Bashar Assad, who remains firmly in control in spite of all US efforts to topple his regime. President Obama was measured and reassuring in his speech, but the ISIS threat is real and deserves more attention.
Indian Bofors: Auto components leader Bharat Forge turns focus to defence technology, ready with advanced guns
MUMBAI: Flashback to 1999, and the Kargil war. The military is forced to abort missions due to heavy casualties. Then it decides to deploy the controversial Bofors gun to destroy Pakistani outposts from various vantage points. The strategy pays off, but the military realises it will soon run out of ammunition to feed the howitzers.
 At the urging of army commanders, the defence ministry turns to Baba Kalyani and his company Bharat Forge to make shells for its Bofors 155mm howitzers. Kalyani, chairman of the Bharat Forge Group, recalls how the company got the "emergency order" to make 1 lakh shells. That's how the company's ability to turn out high-quality products at short notice, which helped burnish its global reputation in the auto parts industry, came to play a role in history.

More than a decade since then, the group led by flagship Bharat Forge is ready with artillery equipment that the Indian defence forces will soon start testing. This puts it nicely in place to take advantage of the Narendra Modi government's initiative to encourage greater private participation in the defence sector.

"A lot of emphasis on local manufacturing of defence products has been put by the current government. Thus, companies like us, who've taken defence seriously, are now production-ready," Kalyani told ET in an exclusive interview.

The government has also opened up the sector to more overseas investments to persuade foreign companies to transfer technology to Indian firms. To those who would question the competence of a forging company entering the high-tech defence space, Kalyani said manufacturers such as Bharat Forge are especially well-qualified to do so.

"Companies like us from basic industries such as metallurgy and forging are the ones that are engaged in defence worldwide," he reasoned. For its artillery equipment venture, the Indian company has a joint venture with Elbit Systems, an Israeli defence equipment maker. The venture will initially work on the 155mm howitzer modernisation programme.

Bharat Forge has also built a howitzer from scratch that Kalyani says has far greater firepower than even the Bofors gun that's currently in use. "Our artillery gun would be better than Bofors," he asserted.

"On the operational parameter, it is better in terms that it can move at 25 km an hour on its own, and the gun would take 52 calibre rounds compared with the 39 calibre of Bofors. It would have 'steer by wire', which the Bofors guns do not possess," he said.
By late September or early October, the Indian Army will start testing Bharat Forge's artillery equipment. An ultra light gun will be ready for testing by late September while trials of the 155mm artillery gun will start by December. A 155mm ultra light gun will be ready for testing by the middle of next year.

The company is also actively scouting for opportunities in the small arms space, although the government is yet to give permission to private companies to manufacture such weapons. Bharat Forge decided to diversify away from the automobile sector after the global economic turmoil hit in 2008 and plant capacity had to be idled.

"We did a couple of things. We tightened costs and adopted lean manufacturing processes. We invested heavily in R&D to develop new products" to mitigate the effects of the slump. But "when the Indian economy got battered, we too got battered in the process". This forced the company to look at sectors it could enter by leveraging its metallurgical and forging prowess. Components for the shale gas fracking, aerospace, offshore oil & gas exploration and defence industries were shortlisted.

While bets on offshore oil & gas and shale gas have paid rich dividends thanks to orders from US companies, components for aerospace equipment will need more time to develop and test. The company will focus on India for its defence equipment strategy over the next decade.

"Unless we are recognised in the domestic market, who will acknowledge us abroad?" Kalyani asked. The defence market is a potentially massive one. India's defence imports are currently worth about $20 billion a year, accounting for about 70-75 per cent of its total requirements, Kalyani said.

Along with the offset clause, any other mandatory local manufacturing requirements would be a very big opportunity for Indian companies. An offset clause relates to the local-manufacturing pledge an overseas company needs to make in return for orders. Kapil Singh and Nishit Jalan of Nomura didn't put a number to the defence opportunity in a July 30 research report.

"With the focus of the Indian government on local sourcing and hike in FDI in defence to 49 per cent, the revenue opportunity for the company would be very large but difficult to build in our earnings estimates," they said.
Govt should buy Indian military hardware: Ex-Army chief
New Delhi: Former Army chief Gen Shankar Roychowdhury today emphasised on the need for developing indigenous technologies for achieving self reliance in the defence sector and urged the government to procure military hardware from Indian sources only.

"There should be a change in the attitude. The technologies should be developed and they would not come to us just like that. We have to work hard to get them," he said at the launch of his book "Decoding India's Defence Procurement".

"The blackbox will open, but what will come out remains the question...We have to be Indian and buy Indian," he added.

The editor of the book, General NC Vij emphasised on the need for development of technologies and weapons with the resources that were available with the country.

"Both the public and the private sector should work hand in hand for the upgradation of technologies in India. The budget has increased 15 per cent from the last government but the additional cost of the defence sector stretches up to USD 150 billion. However, the money provided for the budget is only USD 13 billion according to our study," he said.

I believe that a regulatory body should be set up to ensure a genuine 'Transfer of Technology' (TOT), he added.

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