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Sunday, 25 January 2015

From Today's Papers - 25 Jan 2015

Unprecedented security in Delhi
An unprecedented security arrangement, comprising the Delhi police and paramilitary forces, has been put in place in the National Capital in view of US President Barack Obama’s three-day visit. Obama will be arriving tomorrow morning as Delhiites wake up to the unprecedented security arrangements with traffic restrictions on roads leading to Central Delhi.

Snipers of the Delhi police and National Security Guards will occupy all high-rise buildings on the routes which Obama will be travelling. The green ridge opposite to Maurya Sheraton hotel has been thoroughly checked and police personnel have been deployed in the jungles along the ridge till the US President leaves.

Central Delhi has turned into a virtual fortress with security agencies partly or completely shutting down nearly 71 buildings. Even bonafide citizens of this area, including MPs and officers of the Armed Forces, have been either issued special passes or have to establish their identities to enter the zone.

A joint team of the US Secret Services and sleuths of central security agencies will be monitoring specially established control rooms which are connected to freshly installed CCTVs for the VVIP.

Dedicated radar has been put in place to detect any suspicious movement in the sky and additional anti-aircraft guns have been put in place to shoot down any aerial intrusion.
Pak’s move to ban JuD significant, says Army

Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, January 24
The Army’s top officer in Kashmir on Saturday said that the banning of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) by Pakistan was significant, but the Army would have to wait and see how the ban manifests on ground zero.

“It is certainly an important announcement. How it (the ban) is going to manifest itself on the ground and how it is implemented on the ground are things which definitely must be monitored,” General Officer Commanding of Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt General Subrata Saha told mediapersons on the sidelines of a blood donation camp in Srinagar. “We will have to wait and see,” he said.

The Pakistani Government had recently banned Hafiz Mohammad Saeed’s JuD — the parent organisation of Lashkar-e-Toiba — a few days ago. Though Saeed has been publicly distancing himself from Lashkar activities, he remains the most-wanted militant for New Delhi.

The GOC said that extra security measures have been taken for US President Barack Obama’s visit to India. “Security is enhanced every year for Republic Day. As a very high-level visit is taking place, all precautions are being taken,” Lt General Saha said.

Outfit ‘not banned completely’
Islamabad: Contrary to reports, the Pakistan government has not banned Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) outfit, headed by Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, and only some actions have been initiated against it. “JuD was listed by the UN in December 2008 and it required three actions. These were freezing of its bank accounts, putting arms embargo and travel ban,” Pakistani government sources said. PTI
Deft Defence Minister on a Mission to Ensure India is Respected and Feared in the World
The guns have fallen relatively silent on India’s borders for the past few weeks. Even the Pakistani establishment seems to have reined in jihadis for now. Secularists may attribute the unexpected fall in the number of border incursions and infiltrations to the Obama visit, though the Indian Army said two days ago that 150 militants are waiting behind LoC to cross over. But the Olive Branch Brigade has conveniently forgotten that India now has a defence minister who neither barks without biting nor starts snoring when jawans are being maimed and civilians are massacred. And when he bites, it turns out to be fatal for the foe. Ever since 59-year-old Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar took over as the 24th defence minister, protecting the country and its men in uniform has become his Mission 24X7. For the past three months, his actions have been unconventional and his comments acidic, which have pained peaceniks. Last week, he stirred a hornet’s nest with the explosive revelation that some former Indian PMs compromised our deep intelligence assets in Pakistan. No other defence minister has ever charged any chief executive of the country of treason. But it was not just an off-the-cuff remark. It was a calculated strategy on Parrikar’s part to silence those who are out to sabotage and oppose India’s new aggressive stance against its inimical neighbour. For the past 10 years, the Indian defence establishment has been forced to face the enemy with both hands tied behind its back and mouth bridled. Now, through his frank statements and quick decision-making, Parrikar has changed the entire narrative and grammar of India’s defence and strategic policy. He hardly bothers about the nuances and spins offered to him by agents of Western think tanks.

On Monday, as India’s defence minister, he would be playing the host at the Republic Day Parade, for which US President Barack Obama is the chief guest. While Parrikar is busy in conference with backroom diplomats and defence officials to anticipate every possible hiccup in the execution of his plans, the media is more concerned about Obama’s Beast and his romantic but now aborted visit to the Taj Mahal. As a member of the all-powerful Cabinet Committee on Defence, he has been chosen as the pointsman to finalise various defence and strategic pacts. PM Modi knows Parrikar wouldn’t be swayed by US mania and instead, would do some plain-speaking to the business-minded Americans.

Defence experts feel that Parrikar’s strong comments and inflexible approach towards Pakistan has forced the US and Western world to look at the insurgency-infested country with suspicion. Parrikar was uncompromising when he made it clear to the West that it has to choose between a democratic India and terror habitat Pakistan. Last month, the defence ministry read the riot act to US Secretary of State John Kerry that India wouldn’t be able to do business with the US unless it forces Pakistan to dismantle terror camps and ban terrorist outfits operating on its soil. It is not a coincidence that the Sharif government banned a few of them and Obama spoke against terror camps prior to landing in India. Such high testosterone actions were never expected from the US in the past, because of India’s wavering stand on Pakistan. The Americans were particularly taken aback by the threatening tenor of Parrikar’s repeated warnings to Pakistan. When incursions rose exponentially, he sent a clear message to the Indian armed forces. “Our (NDA government) response is: don’t hesitate. React appropriately without holding yourself back.” He mandated that they should retaliate “with double the force” against all ceasefire violations.

Parrikar’s security-minded preoccupation with Pakistan is not his only virtue. He is very impatient with the slow speed in procurement of defence equipment and the largely dysfunctional DRDO. Last month, when he terminated the services of DRDO chief Avinash Chander—who was on a temporary extension—it signalled his intent of promoting innovative thinking. Parrikar feels that it is the DRDO’s failure that has made India heavily dependent on defence imports. On Chander’s exit, he remarked: “I thought that at 64, a person (Chander) probably thinks in a more cautious way. The scientist world today requires probably a much younger generation.”

Another bold decision of Parrikar’s was legalising the role of defence agents, ignoring all possible adverse impact. Within two months in his job, he told officials to draw up a roadmap for legalising the role of these agents. Aware of the damage done to many politicians and civil servants through their dealings with them, Parrikar felt it was better to bring all hidden persuaders into the public gaze so that their connections become transparent to all. He says, “Several times we require feedback and also someone who can get us information. There are some foreign companies which want to come to India... They can’t go on sending their people here.” But he also made clear that it was just an idea, and a “clear cut” policy would be announced soon on engaging representatives for arms procurements, which will also provide for punitive action against firms found giving kickbacks.

As Goa’s CM, Parrikar dealt with various stake holders directly on all issues. He wouldn’t mind walking down to the hotels and offices of those whom he thought would be useful for his state’s development. He has carried this culture to the defence ministry. Soon after Modi approved the hike in FDI in defence, Parrikar invited a number of Indian corporates to Goa on December 27. He was assisted only by his private secretary at the meeting, which was attended by representatives of leading defence equipment manufactures like Kalyani Group, Bharat Forge, Godrej and Boyce, Ashok Leyland, Tata Advanced Systems and Larsen & Toubro. Parrikar is playing the role of a reformer for whom defence production is not a clandestine business, but a source of boosting the Make in India campaign. As CM, his mission was to make the tiny state of Goa a vibrant global tourist destination. Now as defence minister, his vigilant eyes are constantly examining every chink in India’s defence armour and seal it mercilessly. Parrikar’s idea of India is a nation, which is both feared and respected not just in the neighbourhood, but in the entire world.
US President Barack Obama to see Soviet-era core of India’s might
For US President Barack Obama, the Republic Day parade where India will showcase its military might could well be like leafing through a forgotten album of sepia-tinted photographs from the annals of history, albeit with the odd contemporary colour snapshot popping up from time to time.

Obama will be sharing the dais with President Pranab Mukherjee and PM Narendra Modi, while motorised carriers bearing India’s finest weaponry will stream past down New Delhi’s Rajpath.

And although the Indian Air Force will showcase contemporary acquisitions such as its newly purchased Poseidon P-8 I maritime surveillance aircraft, which was developed by Boeing for the US Navy, and transport aircraft such as Lockheed’s updated C-130 Hercules, and Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster, Obama will also get to see a lot of Russian military hardware, not all of it modern. He’ll see attack choppers such as the Mi-35 (vintage: 1980), the Sukhoi MKI fighter planes (which Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. makes under licence from Russia) and MiG-29 K carrier-based fighters.

Seeing them may remind Obama of the US Air Force’s new Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors, the first fifth generation all-weather stealth fighters that can cruise at ultra-high speeds and combine manoeuvrability with stealth in evading surveillance. What may also cross his mind is the US offer to sell to India modern American helicopters – Chinooks for transport and Apaches for attacks.

The parade will also showcase other Russian technology-based equipment such as the Indian Army’s  T-90 aircraft-killer tanks (first produced 23 years ago) and T-72 or Tank-Ex main battle tanks (first developed in the 1970s), a reminder to the US of wars fought long back, including the one that was somewhat of a different kind known as the Cold War. Although India’s overt reliance on Russian-manufactured weapon systems like the BrahMos cruise missile may be on display, India’s Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO) will also showcase its indigenously-built weapon locating radar, which has been in development and trials since the Kargil War in 1999, and the Akash medium range surface-to-air missile, which was deployed with the IAF in the 2000s.

And the Indian Navy will showcase a model of the INS Kolkata, a guided missile destroyer that was inducted by Modi in July last year. It has stealth features and is armed to the teeth but in comparison to the 10 nuclear-powered super aircraft carriers and scores of destroyers in the US Navy’s repertoire, it is nothing.

In terms of technology or otherwise, India’s military hardware is not a patch on what the armed forces of the US have at their disposal, and China is far ahead in numbers and indigenisation.

The US military, in particular, has a mind-boggling array of weapons that could make close-quarter combat in wars of the future totally outdated— whether it is on land, in the air or at sea. The other sharp contrast in terms of arms and weaponry will be evident on the dais itself.

President Obama is the head of the world’s largest exporter of defence equipment, while Prime Minister Modi is the head of the largest importer. And as for defence budgets: at $640 billion, the annual spending by US on defence is roughly 13 times the $47 billion that India does.

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