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Thursday, 11 December 2014

From Today's Papers - 11 Dec 2014

Putin arrives; over 15 deals on cards
KV Prasad

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 10

Foundations of the India-Russia strategic partnership will be reinforced and strengthened during the annual summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin here tomorrow with accent on nuclear energy and hydrocarbons.

President Putin’s visit comes at a time when Russia is under sanctions from the United States and its Western allies over the Ukraine crisis, a move that India does not endorse.

The summit meeting will the first between President Putin and Prime Minister Modi, though it would be the third time the two leaders would be interacting after they met on the sidelines of BRICS in Brazil and G-20 in Australia.

Ahead of his visit, President Putin told the media that a “Strategic vision of strengthening Russian-Indian cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy’’ would be signed on Thursday.

Sources in the government said at least 15 to 20 agreements, including one in the field of media, could be signed at the summit with Russians stating that the country is keen on taking forward negotiations on the Kudankulam nuclear power project phase 3-4 as it looks to set up about 20 to 24 nuclear units in the country.

Besides seeking to augment nuclear energy, India is also keen on increasing its sources of supplies of hydrocarbons and New Delhi has already made investments in oil exploration projects in Sakhalin, Russia. The Russians are eager to divert gas supplies from the Western markets to Asia. Both sides have been talking of connecting through a land route via Iran to Russian ports.

India and Russia have a long-standing defence cooperation and Moscow continues to be one of the largest suppliers of military hardware. However, over the last three decades, India has sought to source it from other countries. First, New Delhi has entered into co-development of Brahmos missile and now the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft.

Besides the summit, both leaders will address CEOs and attend the World Diamond Conference. President Putin will call on President Pranab Mukherjee before concluding his less than 24-hour visit to New Delhi.
Social media stings Army

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 10
The Army has a new challenge to overcome — misinformation campaign on social media. The relative impossibility to track down the originator of messages on mobile phone applications like Whatsapp has led to all kinds of innuendos against officers, operations and even recommendations of gallantry awards.
Udhampur-based Northern Command has been under criticism from retired veterans who have taken to social media over the handling of an incident in the past few weeks. Army veterans have been divided over the handling of the incident, especially after nine soldiers were declared guilty within three weeks and the Army accepted its 'mistake' even as the Court of Inquiry was on.
Social media is abuzz with opinions most of which are critical. The terror strike at Uri on December 5 further fuelled messages over social application Whatsapp blaming the commanders. In view of barrage of posts on Facebook, Twitter and on Whatsapp, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen BS Hooda wrote to all Corps commanders and Divisional Commanders under him, warning them against falling prey to print, electronic and social media that swayed not only public opinion but also the sentiments of armed forces personnel.
He said the only way to counter this was through their own courage of conviction that what we were doing was professionally correct and honourable. The letter was written after the November 3 incident at Chattergam in Anantnag when two Kashmiri boys were killed by an Army patrol.
Maj Gen Shokin Chauhan, Addl Director General, Public Interface of the Indian Army, said, "It appears that disgruntled elements are putting out canards on social media that terrorists are targeting Army camps because restraints have been placed on the opening of fire by soldiers”.
Get Off WhatsApp, Army Tells its Men After Unsigned Messages Appear on Social Media
Get off WhatsApp -- that's the message of the Indian Army to its officers and jawans after a host of unsigned messages sprung up on social media after both the Uri encounter in Jammu and Kashmir and PM Modi's speech in Srinagar on Monday.

These messages are thought to have been widely circulated on WhatsApp by serving officers, possibly an indicator of discontentment with PM Modi's remarks on Monday where he is accused by the opposition of politicising the Budgam shootout where two innocent young men had been shot dead by the Army.
One of the messages says, "He proves that all he has is a political agenda and rightly so also as he needs the numbers in the houses of parliament. But the army is just a tool and that too a dispensable one."

In statements to NDTV, senior Army officials have said that this is a psychological warfare operation meant to spring disenchantment in the Army. They say they cannot identify the source of the messages since WhatsApp's servers are in the United States.  According to the Army, "all the messages are part of a malafide operation....None of the messages have been written by serving officers of the Indian Army. Army Headquarters is monitoring social media 24/7."

NDTV has also accessed two separate and seemingly unrelated WhatsApp posts which were being forwarded among the large online defence community. One of the messages, claiming to be about the Uri encounter in which 11 soldiers and policemen were killed, says, "The terrorists desperately tried to break the cordon established by Lieutenant Colonel Sankalp Kumar, Havildar Subhash Chand and Naik Gurmail Singh but these brave hearts fought till their last breath."

The Army says that this message is a complete fabrication since the sequence of events described is incorrect and the Commanding officer of the unit has denied that anyone in his unit has posted the message.

The WhatsApp messages, fake or real, continue to be circulated despite a message sent from the Army Commander General DS Hooda to officers several weeks back. In his message, the General said, "The print, electronic and social media are powerful tools which sway not only public opinion but also the sentiments of our own officers and men. Let us not fall prey to them."

For the Indian Army, the battle on social media is one that it is unaccustomed to. The anonymous nature of applications like WhatsApp mean that it is often impossible to get to the bottom of who is posting these messages. But the message from Army Headquarters is clear. These are not our men or women. This is psychological warfare and we need to defend ourselves against such attacks.
India Still Unsure on Need for Cyber Command
The Indian Ministry of Defence remains undecided on whether to establish a dedicated cyber command despite a push by the three military services to improve defense against network attacks from China and to build offensive cyber capabilities, a senior Indian Army officer said.

A draft proposal to establish a cyberwarfare tri-command has awaited MoD action for more than a year, the officer said, and the service hopes new Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will take up the matter soon.

“There is a need for creating synergy by a single headquartered cyber command,” said defense analyst Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Army brigadier general. “This will ensure militarywide doctrinal unity, synergize existing resources and coordinate defensive and offensive capabilities to direct these at the potential adversary.”

The cyber command proposal was prepared in consultations with the chiefs of the Air Force, Army and Navy after Chinese hackers broke into the computer systems of the Eastern Command headquarters in Vishakapatnam, where India’s Arihant nuclear submarine was undergoing sea trials, in 2012, a Defence Ministry source said. In 2013, the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s networks were breached by Chinese hackers, the source added.

MoD officials have declined to explain why no action has been taken on the issue.

Defense analysts and military officers said India needs to prepare to defend itself against such attacks —and also build offensive cyber capabilities.

“The cyber threat has the potential of being elevated to the level of a cyberwar in the event of a war between nations,” said analyst Venkataraman Mahalingam, a retired Army brigadier general. “Activities in cyberspace are an inherent part of day-to-day functioning of the militaries. Consequently, the psychological impact of a cyber attack on the soldier and military establishments would be tremendous. It is a threat which will impact the minds of commanders.”

The Indian Army officer said the advent of high-tech weapons makes cyberwar part of conventional warfare because these vital technology-driven systems are vulnerable to cyber threat and must be protected.

While no MoD official would officially say if there is a proposal to create a cyber tri-command, one ministry official quietly said that it remains undecided whether to build an offensive cyber arsenal.

“The presence of cyber weapons can be very dangerous because no one can predict its diffusion,” he said, adding that no one can ensure that a cyber arsenal can always hit the target
Make-in-India defence deal: Putin to be invited to bid for choppers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be inviting Russia to take part in a $3 billion light-utility helicopters project — the first big-ticket Make in India initiative in the defence sector — during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. The choppers are meant for both Indian armed forces and export.
This is the first India-Russia summit after the Modi government came to power.

Speeding up the process for setting up reactors 3 and 4 at Kudankulam without further price escalation, specific energy cooperation measures like tanker-shipments of gas, mid-sea trading will form a major part of the agenda at the summit.

Modi is also expected to take up Russia’s defence cooperation with Pakistan and China.
The deepening of India-Russia energy cooperation comes in the wake of Moscow inking a $400 billion deal with Beijing for supplying gas for 30 years earlier this year, which Putin had termed a “watershed event”.

For the chopper deal, public sector unit Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or an Indian private firm could partner with a foreign firm for production of Kamov-226T helicopters. In India, the bidding for these ‘reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters’ is restricted to Indian firms and their joint venture partner.

In the first phase, the order could be for 384 helicopters, which could later be increased to 600 to replace the ailing Cheetah/Chetak fleet used by the Indian army and air force, senior government officials told HT.

This invite, rather inserted late into the programme, is intended to be a signal that India-Russia ties should go beyond the “ordinary buyer-seller” ties and reflect the true nature of a “growing partnership”. Sources said the two sides are likely to sign around 20 pacts, including two commercial ones, after the summit meeting but that this invite could send a clear “message of intent for closer ties”.

The Modi government scrapped acquisition of 197 light-utility helicopters from foreign firms; the selection process had been married by allegations of corruption in October.

Russian Kamov-226T and Eurocopter and Bell were eying this contract. The tender was cancelled for the second time in seven years.

RSH helicopters can be used for day and night operations. They include reconnaissance and surveillance, evacuation, scout role, and aiding civil authorities to deal with any crisis.

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