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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

From Today's Papers - 03 Mar 2015

Home Ministry against repealing AFSPA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 2
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has recommended against repealing the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).

In a report submitted to the Cabinet Committee of Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the ministry said the report of the Justice BP Jeevan Reddy committee, which recommended repeal of the law terming it as “a symbol of oppression” should be rejected.

“We have recommended to the Union Cabinet to reject the report of Justice Jeevan Reddy committee,” an official said.

The Defence Ministry is also opposed to any dilution of the Act and has said the forces operating in insurgency-prone areas are protected by the AFSPA from “harassment”.

The Jeevan Reddy committee was set up in 2004, in the wake of intense agitation in Manipur following killing of a woman, Thangjam Manorama, while in the custody of Assam Rifles and the indefinite fast undertaken by activist Irom Sharmila. The five-member committee, headed by Justice Jeevan Reddy, a former Supreme Court judge, had submitted its report on June 6, 2005.

The 147-page report recommends: “The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, should be repealed.”

The committee in _the report observed that “the Act, for whatever reason, has become a symbol of oppression, an object _of hate and an instrument of discrimination and _high handedness”.
Defence – where Make in India matters
When I met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I was struck by one telling comment he made during our conversation. He said, “Anil, do you know, that even the tears we shed in this country are not our own? Every tear gas shell used by our security agencies is actually imported!”

The Prime Minister’s anguish was entirely genuine and for me, literally an eye-opener.

It left me in no doubt about the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and what a remarkable change of mindset it represented compared to earlier governments, particularly in relation to the defence sector.

It was, for me, an extraordinary and personal glimpse into the Prime Minister’s thinking, his larger strategic vision, and his determination to make India a leading global player in defence manufacturing. This was reinforced by his choice of Defence Minister.

Manohar Parikkar is among the most talented, intelligent, hardworking and ethical leaders India has seen. His brief, from what I have seen so far, is to push the Make in India agenda, and provide our armed forces with the best possible, cutting-edge equipment and armaments.

His reputation for being a man of high principles and probity and one who is ready to change existing norms and systems for greater efficiency and transparency — are the two elements that will transform our defence sector into one that is modern and world class.

His willingness to engage one-on-one with all stakeholders and his out-of-the-box thinking has energised the ultra-conservative corridors of the defence ministry and given the wider defence establishment a new sense of energy and purpose.
Time for upgrade

We live in a troubled neighbourhood and defending our borders has become a huge challenge. Every day, we read about the exchange of fire with Pakistan troops along the Line of Control (LoC), the infiltration attempts, and the frequent face offs with China on the other LoC. The close military and political relations between China and Pakistan will always define our own strategic vision and how we can counter the joint threat.

One of the most illustrative examples of how our defence preparedness has suffered is the fact that for 25 years, the army has not been able to replace the Bofors 155 howitzer gun, a vital force multiplier in our artillery arsenal. In 1999, in the aftermath of the Kargil conflict, the Army initiated an artillery requirement programme to import 2,200 Bofors-type artillery guns for over ₹27,000 crore.

This was because no Indian firm made similar weapons. The new policy of opening up the defence sector to private players will go a long way to ending such self-imposed handicaps imposed on our defence forces.

Our defence preparedness therefore holds the key to our future as a nation. I recently had the honour of meeting and spending time with each of our three service chiefs — General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Air Marshal Arup Saha and Admiral Robin Dhowan; three officers of exceptional integrity, dedication and commitment.

I came away feeling proud and humbled, but also reassured that the defence of our realm is in very capable hands. It’s a great blessing as a nation that we have in uniform some of the finest officers and bravest men and women in the world.

Unfortunately, borders in the modern world cannot be defended by strength of character nor can wars be won by dedication, training, discipline and bravery alone. Lack of technological superiority leaves the country vulnerable and it entails disproportionate levels of sacrifice on the part of our valiant armed forces.

The Kargil War exemplified this harsh reality. For far too long indecisiveness in defence procurements, based on a play safe approach, has resulted in the Armed Forces suffering with sub- optimal hardware — this is truly a travesty.
They deserve the best

The outcome of war is never certain. However, success in warfare in our age is greatly aided by technological superiority, information systems and the quality and precision of weaponry. We owe it to our men and women in uniform to give them the best-of-class military hardware.

Most submarines currently operated by the Indian Navy are past their operational life, while the Indian Air Force is still saddled with MiG-21 aircraft of the 1970s vintage. India has great power ambitions, and with justification.

We are seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and India is projected to be the world’s 3rd largest economy by 2024. Yet, unlike all other major powers in the world, India remains the largest importer of defence hardware in the world. Nearly three-quarters of all our critical defence equipment is sourced from abroad.

Our record in developing our aerospace industry, quite unlike the remarkable strides we have made in other high-technology areas such as space, communications and missile programmes, is a sorry one, hobbled by missed opportunities, short term thinking, lack of controls on domestic manufacturers, and a blinkered strategic vision.

A recent CII survey assesses the maturity of India’s aerospace on a scale of 5 at 2.7, the lowest among all defence sectors. Aeronautics is lagging far behind naval and land systems.

A 2014 study by E&Y pegs India’s defence hardware purchases at over $250 billion or nearly ₹16 lakh crore. Nearly half of this equipment will comprise aerospace platforms such as combat aircraft, drones, helicopters and the like. Sadly, based on our current record, nearly all of this equipment will have to be imported.

Our goal of minimum dependence in aerospace is nowhere in sight. It is clear that if we wish to peg our defence expenditure at the current or even higher levels of GDP, then we will have to manufacture a major proportion of our requirements indigenously and, in time, begin to export so as to roll back the net deficit in the defence sector.
Agenda for change

So what’s the way forward? The Prime Minister has outlined a bold a new vision for India’s defence resurgence. Underlying the many policy changes that his government has announced — starting with the raise in FDI cap in defence from 26 to 49 per cent and, with cabinet approval, even to 100 per cent in identified areas of critical technologies — is the recognition that what we need most of all is a total change of mindset and approach to boosting this vital sector.

I have listed some urgent points that need to be addressed to make this change work for India.

There is need to acknowledge at every level of government that the private sector in India can be trusted to play as important a role in modernisation of India’s defence capabilities as the public sector.

We needa common framework for defence procurement across research establishments, Ordinance Factories, defence PSUs and private sector. Decision making needs to be simpler, faster and transparent.

There’s an urgent need to address and improve the ease-of-doing-business. The Ministry of Defence is the sole customer for the defence industry in the country. Without long-term contracts, certainty of volumes, quick selection process, transparency and fair payment terms, there will be little incentive for private players to invest the huge resources required for defence production.

There is a compelling case for creating a single window for defence licensing and FDI approvals. For example, DIPP and FIPB, which are currently under different departments/ministries, ought to be brought under one umbrella.

Any large-scale involvement of the private sector in defence would require a clear roadmap for engagement, with clearly identified thrust areas. We need to think of new modalities of public private partnership. One answer is a Joint Working Group, comprising leading representatives of the private sector and key decision makers in the government, who will work together from the planning stage so that private companies have a clear idea of the areas in which they need to invest. This will help in the development of human skill sets and capital infrastructure.

We need to set up a sovereign defence fund, on a PPP model, in which the government holds 49 per cent while private defence sector players make up the balance, with no player contributing more than 5 per cent of the total. Professionally managed, such a fund can help invest in long-gestation R&D projects and facilitate strategic global acquisitions in key technology areas of defence and national security. This will also be a big support for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which form a critical part of any developed defence industrial base.

We need to accord infrastructure industry status to the defence sector, thereby paving the way for easier credit and a greater role and opportunity for the private sector.

The long shadow of the 3Cs — CBI, CVC and CAG — have hamstrung decision making in India’s defence sector with the fear of regulatory censure and investigative overreach. We need to move forward with courage and conviction and have necessary safeguards to protect the decision makers just as in the coal block allocation sector where the bureaucracy has been provided protection.

The new model for India’s defence sector should be built on a cornerstone of the new 3Cs, namely Cooperation, Competition, and Collaboration.
No room for vacillation

There are also some obvious truths to be considered. Modern government needs to function with the need for discretion in policy formulation and implementation in a sector as sensitive as defence.

However, the modernisation of India’s armed forces cannot be held hostage to indecisiveness or vacillation. It is no secret that procedural delays and departmental red tape have often caused a greater loss to the exchequer in defence procurement than any alleged improprieties.

The road ahead is long. But with the current leadership, I believe we have our best chance of success in evolving a world-class defence manufacturing sector. With commitment, cooperation and a clear vision, we can turn the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ slogan into a reality. It offers us the best chance to repay the brave men and women of our armed forces for their dedication, discipline, and sacrifice.

I’d like to conclude by recalling the words of the father of our nation — Manasa, Vacha, Karmana — “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” We have thought long and hard and said a lot; it is now time for action.
US Army Chief ‘Very Concerned’ Over Impact of British Defence Cuts
A senior officer in the US Army is “very concerned” about the impact of budget cuts to the British Army. General Raymond Odierno, the Chief of Staff of the US army, has told a conference that Britain and America both need partners which share “close values and the same goals”.

Prime Minister David Cameron has come under increasing pressure from members of his own party to honour the Nato commitment of spending two percent of GDP on defence, annually. Former Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox warned “for Britain to fall out of the 2 per cent club would not only be a source of great anxiety to the United States, which already carries a disproportionate burden in terms of Nato spending, but will hugely undermine Britain’s moral authority and our ability to persuade others to make the spending commitment.”

In January US President Barack Obama also warned Cameron about the dangers of allowing the defence budget to fall below the 2 percent mark, saying: “if Britain doesn’t spend 2 per cent on defence, then no one in Europe will.”

Speaking to the Telegraph, Gen Odierno has confirmed that America is concerned about the apparent lack of commitment from Britain, pointing out that “This is the most uncertain global environment I have seen in 40 years of service,” he said.

Gen Odierno has fought alongside Britain in several recent conflicts, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Historically, it has been a long-held assumption within American military planning that Britain will contribute a combat force in excess of 10,000 men, as well as aircraft and naval vessels.

But that assumption has been rocked by the cuts made to the British armed forces by the Coalition government. Since 2010, the army has been cut by a fifth, the RAF is down to just seven combat squadrons, from the 30+ it had during the first Gulf War, and the Navy is only just able to fulfil it’s international duties.

Ironically, the cuts to defence have been made whilst the foreign aid budget has been ring-fenced, leading to a bizarre situation in which Britain is unable to defend her own borders whilst handing money to countries already able to defend theirs.

As part of the cuts the government scrapped the RAF’s fleet of Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft, leaving the forces unable to track a Russian submarine spotted in British waters. The RAF have estimated that the fleet could be replaced by the Boeing P8 Poseidon at a cost of £200 million a year. Coincidentally, £200 million is the amount given to India each year, although she already has a fleet of aircraft able to patrol her waters.

American confidence has been further undermined by the rhetoric coming from some Cabinet ministers: last summer, former Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told senior officers that the military would be unable to spend 2 percent of GDP even if the government agreed to provide it. There are also rumours that, under a Conservative government, the Army could see another 20,000 forces cut, reducing it to just half the size of the French army.

“We have a bilateral agreement between our two countries to work together. It is about having a partner that has very close values and the same goals as we do,” Gen Odierno told the New America Foundation’s “Future of War” conference.

“What has changed, though, is the level of capability. In the past we would have a British Army division working alongside an American army division.”

Looking to current threats, Gen Odierno warned that the alliance “had to be prepared for Ukraine”. He also highlighted the Iraqi’s government’s plans to liberate Mosul later this year, which is likely to require backup from America and her allies.

“The US is willing to participate, and in some cases lead, but we need our multi-national partners to help,” he said. “As we look to the threats around the world, we need to have multinational solutions. They are of concern to everyone, and we need everybody to help, assist and invest.”

Ajai Shukla: Needed - defence budgeting structures

Imaginative budgeting requires a top-down approach, where strategic demands determine procurement priorities

The National Democratic Alliance has presented its second defence Budget, a document remarkable only for its resemblance to the last one - not a desirable attribute when the defence ministry and the military need to radically change the way they do business. There is little real growth in spending, with the government resorting to the retailer's trick of under-spending last year's allocations by three per cent and then increasing this year's allocation by 10.95 per cent from that lower base. Given the five to 10 per cent annual inflation in defence equipment costs, the military's buying power remains largely unchanged.

There is little to be gained from gazing into the clouded crystal ball of defence procurement, which follows unpredictable logics and patterns. Instead, the most useful analysis of an Indian defence Budget relates to how the current year's Budget is being expended, which is discernible from the revised estimates that are released with the new Budget.
Read our full coverage on Union Budget

From the revised estimates (see chart) it is evident that the current year's Budget has not supported New Delhi's maritime emphasis (including "Act East") and the intention to create a dominant navy in the Indian Ocean. There has been a reversal of the steady rise of the navy's share of the overall defence pie: from single digits a few decades ago to 16 per cent of last year's defence allocations. This year, a significant part of the navy's allocations have been diverted to the army, which eventually spent 52 per cent of the overall defence allocation instead of the 49.5 per cent that it was allocated. The navy's share of the defence Budget has accordingly reduced to just 13.5 per cent, which would impact negatively on maritime readiness.

This is doubly regrettable because the army - to which naval rupees were effectively transferred - is the most inefficient spender of all three services. It lavishes 85 paise of every rupee on revenue expenditure, with just 15 paise going on modernisation. The navy, in comparison, bought warships with 59 paise of every rupee it received. Had the ministry allowed the navy to spend its full capital allocation, rather than diverting it to meet the army's payroll, the navy would have spent a healthy 63 paise of every rupee on modernisation. However, salaries and establishment costs must first be covered; and the navy has taken the hit for the army's abysmal planning.

The army's ballooning revenue spend remains a flashing red light, particularly its payroll that consumes almost 60 per cent of its Budget. This column has earlier warned that the army's growing manpower (whilst every other major military is reducing numbers) was leaving less and less money for equipment like artillery guns that are central to ground combat power. The revised estimates make it clear the situation is even graver than believed. While the current year's Budget earmarked an alarming 82 paise of every rupee for the army's revenue expenditure, the reality was even grimmer - army revenue expenditure will eventually consume 85 paise of each rupee this year.

What does this mean for the coming year? With the army revenue allocations even higher this year at 83 per cent of the overall army Budget, any significant overspend would leave practically nothing for badly needed ground equipment like artillery and air defence guns, helicopters and communications equipment. Already, more than 90 per cent of the defence capital allocation is pre-committed towards instalments for purchases made during previous years. While the exact figures would become clear only after March 31, it is already evident that no more than Rs 8,000-9,000 crore of the Rs 94,588 crore capital Budget for 2015-16 would be available for new purchases. A few percentage points of army revenue overspend (it overspent 5.5 per cent this year) would whittle that down to zero.
On the other hand reducing revenue expenditure by a mere five-six per cent would double the outlay available for new procurements. This would allow the defence ministry to sign contracts for urgently needed equipment like the Rafale medium fighter, which is currently beyond our means. A solution could be to revisit the costly decision to raise a mountain strike corps for offensive operations across our rugged Himalayan border. There are several alternatives. For example, one of the three existing armour-heavy plains strike corps could be reconfigured into a light infantry mountain strike corps, with a new authorisation of equipment and soldiers.

Such ideas remain unexplored because of our impoverished planning structures. Currently, the budgeting exercise consists of incrementally increasing allocations under each Budget head each year. Each department and service demands 15-20 per cent more than the previous year's allocation; and the ministry pares that down and hands out the largesse.

Instead, imaginative budgeting demands a top-down approach, where strategic demands determine procurement priorities, and money is allocated for specific outcomes. For example, if it is agreed that the coming year demands the conclusion of contracts for submarines and aircraft carriers for the navy, while the army's artillery guns and the air force's Rafale fighter could wait, there should be no hesitation in allocating the navy a higher-than-normal 25 per cent of the defence Budget, while the other services are pegged back that year. The following year, allocations could be skewed towards the army, or air force, depending on the priorities decided.

This would require all three services to be stakeholders in planning, armed with the assurance that priority acquisitions would be assured funding and procurement sanctions in a particular year. That would encourage the three services to actually frame priorities, both within a service and between services - with the appointment of a tri-service chief allowing inter-service coordination. Currently, there are no priorities. The procurements for this coming year will not be those most urgently needed, but rather those ones that are nearing the end of a long procurement pipeline. Given the years of wait for those procurements, services quietly accept the equipment even if it is no longer urgently required. The military waits for acquisitions, with cash in their hands. If the acquisition matures, good. If others do not, the military returns the money unspent.

This helplessness stems largely from our dependence on large global tenders, which decision-makers treat with excessive caution. In contrast, the defence ministry treats indigenous procurements with greater confidence. It would be worthwhile, therefore, to explore the possibility of an entirely separate head for "Make" category projects, in which indigenous companies develop defence equipment with the defence ministry reimbursing them 80 per cent of the cost. Currently, two "Make" projects are under way - a tactical communication system and a battlefield management system - for which the Budget allocates Rs 144 crore. Greatly expanding this initiative would be in line with the "Make in India" initiative, and would also provide the defence ministry with the leeway to control pay out, helping to ensure that capital allocations are expended in full.
Exclusive: Indian Army movement plans were leaked to ISI last year

In an explosive revelation, sources told Headlines Today that Indian Army movement plans were leaked to ISI in February last year.

The ISI was aware of the details of talks between Army chief General Bikram Singh and then defence minister AK Antony, the sources said.

General Singh and Antony had discussed the troop movement on February 15, 2014 at 11 am and lasted for an hour. The meeting took place in Antony's room.

The Indian Army was planning the movement on Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir border. 

The leakage

- At 12 noon, the Army chief briefed the DGMO chief about the redeployment plan.

- Within a few hours, the Pakistan Army too began redeploying the troops as a counter.

- The military intelligence told the DGMO Pakistan was also redeploying strategically.

- Rapid counter deployment by Pakistan triggered the alarm bells in the Army.

- The Army chief informed Antony of a possible leak, who then briefed the PM.

The fallout

- Manmohan Singh then visited the DGMO war room to meet the Army top brass.

- A Senior Army officer was the mole who leaked the operational details to the ISI.

- The DGMO official was subsequently court marshalled for this incident.

- The incident led to CCTVs being installed across the ministry office in South Block.
Pakistan to meet all needs of army: Sartaj
LAHORE: Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said that Pakistan is not engaged in an arms race with India.However, the country knows how to meet its defence needs in order to strike a balance in warfare technology and maintain peace in the region.

“Imbalance in conventional or non-conventional weaponry is not good for peace, so Pakistan will meet all requirements of its army to keep the Indian spending on defence in equilibrium,” Sartaj said in reply to a query about the Indian war hysteria and the increase in its annual defence spending by eight percent, announced by New Delhi a day earlier.

He was talking to reporters after the launch of the Shahid Javed Burki Institute of Public Policy (BIPP) here on Sunday.About the Indian foreign secretary’s Pakistan visit, Sartaj said New Delhi had suspended the talks and the Composite Dialogue process, and Pakistan had made it clear that only India would resume it as it had halted it. He welcomed the Indian move to resume it by announcing its foreign secretary’s visit to Pakistan.

However, Sartaj refused to comment on the expected outcome of the Indian foreign secretary visit to Pakistan. “It is impossible for me to tell you about the outcome of the Indian foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan in the next week.”

However, he hoped that chances of a decision on resumption of the Composite Dialogue were bright in the upcoming or the follow-up meeting. Normalisation of relations is urgently needed to reduce the tension on the Line of Control, he added.

But all kinds of issues could not be raised in the talks as various sectors would be part of the dialogue, Sartaj said, adding that Pakistan could not move forward without resolving the Kashmir issue. “Kashmir is the top priority for Pakistan and it will remain so for all times,” he said.

About the Taliban issue, Sartaj said after reaching a consensus on an operation, there was no distinction between good or bad Taliban. The government and military are on the same page to eradicate the menace of terrorism from Pakistan.

About an improvement in relations with Afghanistan, he said the two countries were coordinating with each other to combat terrorism and with the Taliban at political, security, military and intelligence agencies levels.

Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have launched operations against the Taliban in their respective territories to eradicate terrorism and they had committed that their respective soils would not be used against each other. “The continuation of Operation Zarb-e-Azb shows Pakistan’s commitment to it,” he added.

About the army’s control over foreign policy affairs, the adviser dispelled the impression and stressed that theimplementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) could not be achieved without due support of the armed forces. So, the army, as an important institution of Pakistan, was supporting the government in evolvingthe foreign and security policies. He said the government and the army were jointly evolving the security policy.

Earlier, speaking at the launching ceremony, Sartaj Aziz said the BIPP would set up a series of centres of excellence and the first one would be set up as the Dr Afaf Centre for Science. Dr Afaf was a close companion of Dr Abdus Salam.

Dar also appreciated the idea of placing the BIPP at the NetSol Technologies, saying that science and technology were going to play a major role in future.Sartaj said it was a strange coincidence that the West had high stakes in the region as and when the military regimes ruled the country.

Rashid Amjad, Vice-Chairman, Shahid Javed Burki Institute of Public Policy, in his welcome address, said the institute had already published seven annual reports on the state of economy of Pakistan.

Naming the institute after Shahid Javed Burki is an endeavour to professionalise the policy process, transfer the institute into substantial paradigm to ensure transformative change in the life of people of Pakistan. He said the focus of the BIPP would be on social, political, economic and environmental issues and to achieve synergy in research, think tank, learning and training and management.

Dr Zubair Khan, former federal minister, recalled his long association with Shahid Javed Burki and said he was proud of being a part of a team starting a number of initiatives on public policy. He said he was in the cabinet some 20 years back and feels sorry to note that the country was still facing similar challenges with minor improvement on some fronts.

At the end, Chairman Shahid Javed Burki said the purpose of his effort was to bring about some change and bring down the disappointment level among the people of Pakistan. He said Pakistan had neither a government nor money to run the state in 1947, but still the locals accommodated 24 million migrants. He said the population size had increased seven times since 1947, but the poverty level had risen only twice during this period.

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