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Monday, 23 March 2015

From Today's Papers - 23 Mar 2015

At Attari, Rajnath warns Pak on acts of terror
Perneet Singh

Tribune News Service

Attari (Amritsar), March 22
Home Minister Rajnath Singh today warned Pakistan to stop supporting acts of terror if it wished to improve relations with India and be its partner in ushering in peace and prosperity in the region.

Addressing a function organised to mark golden jubilee of the BSF’s raising near the Indo-Pak Border, Rajnath invoked former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “This is the same Attari-Wagah Border from where Vajpayee ji boarded a peace bus to Pakistan, extending a hand of friendship to it, but we got the Kargil War in return. Still, we didn’t deviate from the path of peace and again offered friendship to the neighbouring country. However, it did not yield desired results. Vajpayee ji had said we can change our friends but not neighbours.”

He wondered as to how long these “acts of terror” would continue stating that it was for Pakistan to ponder over the issue.

Referring to the last year’s suicide bomb at Wagah that killed over 60 people, he said it was a matter of grave concern. “Sitting here at the Border, I see that the land of both countries is green. I would like to ask Pakistani leaders as to why do you want to turn the soil red on either side?”

He said India wanted good relations with all its neighbours, including Pakistan, as it believed in the principle of “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam” (the whole world is a family).

Later, replying to a media query on withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Kashmir, the Home Minster said the government would think over the issue, but the current scenario didn’t seem fit for it.

Evading a reply on the latest meetings of separatist Kashmiri leaders with the Pakistani envoy, he said these meetings were an annual feature on Pakistan’s Independence Day. He also avoided queries on the release of Masarat Alam and the BJP-PDP alliance. On the recent terror strikes in Kathua and Samba, he said the security forces had given a befitting reply by gunning down the terrorists.

He said the government had succeeded in getting 57 boats of Indian fishermen freed from Pakistan which would be reaching Porbandar soon. On the land acquisition Bill, he said the NDA government would never hurt farmers’ interests.
India, China to hold boundary talks today
KV Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
India and China will formally re-engage on the contentious boundary question with the designated special representatives National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi scheduled to meet here.

Beginning Monday, the two-day talks will be the 18th round between the two special representatives and the first formal engagement between the Narendra Modi government and President Xi Jinping administration on the boundary issue under a mechanism set up during former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The last time special representatives on either side met was during early 2014 when then NSA Shiv Shankar Menon met Jiechi. The Ministry of External Affairs today announced that Jiechi will be on a three-day visit starting today on the invitation of NSA Doval.

Last year during his visit to Beijing, Doval had said ties between the two Asian neighbours were scheduled to take an “orbital jump”. Significantly reports of both Doval and Jiechi meeting in Munich last month said they focused on ways to resolve the boundary issue.

The Chinese official news agency, Xinhua, was quoted Jiechi as stating that “positive interaction between Beijing and New Delhi is increasing and their momentum of cooperation is improving”.

The report said Jiechi proposed the two countries should “push forward negotiations over boundaries, and to effectively maintain peace and safety of border areas” in tune with respecting and looking after each other’s concern.

Soon after the meeting, English daily Global Times, associated with the Communist Party of China, published an article in which it said India was sending mixed signals regarding border. “India’s regular patrolling along the border areas has been stepped up, and a massive infrastructure programme has been launched in these areas. Under these circumstances, more patience is needed for a breakthrough of the solution.”

Both sides are currently negotiating a framework to resolve the dispute in western, middle and eastern sectors — the second of a three stage process. The first stage was completed in 2005 with an agreement on political parameters and guiding principles. The final stage will involve delineating the border in maps and on the ground. With Modi expected to travel to China before completing one year in office this May, the talks will also lay the groundwork for the proposed visit.
Somali pirates shifting closer to India: Parrikar

Bhubaneswar, March 22
Beaten back in their usual area of operations, Somali pirates are "shifting their location" towards India, but the country is watchful to deal with such threats, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said.

“Somali pirates, after being neutralised by various countries, are shifting their locations towards India. Because their (shipping) lanes are heavily guarded, they have moved 30-40 nautical miles, although they still are 450 nautical miles from India. “They may not be next to India but... we are watchful,” he said. — PTI
Mufti warns Pak against disturbing peace in J&K
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 22
Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today warned Pakistan against allowing terrorists to disturb peace in Jammu and Kashmir and asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to rein in such elements.

Echoing the Government of India’s stand that ‘terror and talks cannot go together’, the Chief Minister said Pakistan would have to check elements which are intent at mounting terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The process of dialogue and reconciliation cannot go together,” the Chief Minister said. Mufti had come under intense attack from all the quarters for attributing the Kathua terror attack on March 20 to the “non-state actors”.

The alliance partner BJP also denounced the twin terror attacks in Kathua and Samba and raised anti Pakistan slogans.

The move seemed to be aimed at silencing the Opposition, which had came out all guns blazing against Mufti’s ‘non-state actor’ remarks.

“Mufti Sahib who these non-state actors are?” asked Nawang Rigzin Jora, Congress Legislature Party leader. “We would like to know.”

The National Conference had also submitted an adjournment motion seeking to know the government’s stand on the terror attacks and who theses ‘non-state actors’ were. NC’s Devender Singh Rana articulated the party stand.

However, the adjournment was summarily rejected by Speaker Kavinder Gupta.

Irked at Speaker’s move, NC legislators, including National Conference Legislature Party leader Omar Abdullah, staged a walk out.

Having been cornered on the issue, Chief Minister Mufti suggested let there be a resolution condemning the attacks in Kathua and Samba on March 20 and 21.

He, then, went on to make a speech on the importance of dialogue and how the terrorism can rip apart the whole atmosphere for peace and reconciliation.

The Chief Minister recalled how during his tenure as Chief Minister in 2002 there were no incidents on borders. “We brought peace on borders from Kathua to Kargil and suggested  Nawaz Sharif to check all the elements which were  out to disturb peace in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Defence ministry sounds red alert on web spying
NEW DELHI: India's defence establishment has sounded a fresh red alert over the need to ensure physical as well as cyber security of classified information in light of ever-increasing espionage attempts by foreign intelligence agencies, especially from China and Pakistan.

Citing "inputs" from the home ministry and elsewhere, the defence ministry has directed the armed forces and other organizations working under it to strictly implement the fresh security measures to prevent any classified matter from being leaked.

"Defence personnel, especially those serving in lower formations, privy to sensitive information relating to organization/matters pertaining to the armed forces continue to be targets of foreign intelligence espionage efforts/agents," said the MoD directive, issued on March 12.

Some of the security instructions deal with monitoring of photocopying machines, police verification of all staff employed on "an outsourced basis", restricted access to divisions dealing with confidential matters, close watch on suspicious conduct, caller ID spoofing and the like.

But the bulk of them are connected to cyber-security and computer-usage norms. They range from strict access control and proper firewalls to "air gap" between secure and insecure networks and curbs on use of digital storage devices.

"There have been cases of data being leaked through the use of pen-drives, removable hard disks and CDs. Moreover, Chinese hackers have also broken into military networks through worm-infected USB devices to exfiltrate information," said an official.
Interestingly, in its publication 'The Science of Military Strategy' this month, China for the first time has admitted its People's Liberation Army has specialized cyber warfare units. While both China and Pakistan have been bolstering their capability to wage war in the virtual arena, the former has made it a top military priority. "China regularly hacks into sensitive computer networks of countries like India, US, the UK and Germany," said a senior officer.

"China has at least a couple of hacker brigades, apart from over 30,000 computer professionals in its militia. It also has civilian teams empowered to undertake similar intelligence and computer network attacks," he added.
Targeted cyber attacks can hobble, and even destroy, strategic networks and energy grids, financial and communication info-structures of an adversary. Iran, for instance, learnt this the hard way when the Stuxnet software "worm" crippled its nuclear programme five years ago.

But even as countries sharpen their cyber-weapons, India continues to drag its feet in setting up a tri-Service Cyber Command, which was proposed along with an Aerospace and Special Operations Commands by the chiefs of the staff committee a couple of years ago.
Martyrs Day: Chandigarh Municipal Corporation passes off US Armymen as Indian Army soldiers in hoardings
Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (MC) committed a major faux pas on Sunday when it passed off photographs of US Army personnel as those of Indian Army soldiers in its hoardings commemorating Martyrs Day across the city.

The photograph of three US soldiers seems to have been picked up from the internet where they have been misrepresented as that of Indian Army even though the soldiers are clearly seen wearing the US Flag on their uniforms (see pic).

To make the matters worse, the photograph from the internet has been tampered with and flipped so that the US flag was not visible.

However, flipping the photograph made all the three soldiers look like they were holding rifles in their left hand which seemed very unlikely and raised initial suspicions of the photograph being doctored which were later proven right.
Even other aspects of the photograph, like the pattern of helmets worn by the soldiers and the M-16 US Army standard issue rifle they are carrying, should have alarmed the MC officials dealing with the advertisements but evidently all this was ignored.

The hoardings were put up across Chandigarh to inform the general public about the commemoration event being held in the city on March 23 to mark the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev where the war widows would also be honoured.

The defence community in Chandigarh is understandibly aghast at the faux pas. Speaking to The Indian Express, Major Guneet Chaudhary (retd) said that the Chandigarh MC must take action against those responsible for dishonouring Indian Army martyrs. “This is not a small mistake. It goes to show how lightly the Chandigarh Administration takes the defence community and what little importance it gives it,” he said.
Chief of Defence Staff or Permanent Chairman COSC
Going by recent media reports, India may soon have a General Number 1 – a four star General as the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). The reports quote the Defence Minister stating at a recent media conclave, “In the next two-three months, my Cabinet note with the recommendation will go to the right place (Cabinet Committee on Security) for the final decision.”  The reports further go on to say “MoD sources are said to be holding consultations to create the post of a Permanent Chairman of the COSC — which currently comprises the three service chiefs — with fixed two to three year tenure.” There is no elaboration with who is MoD undertaking the said consultations. The media has termed it “major rejigging” of the military set up, further elaborating that India needs this General Number 1 for providing: one, single-point military advice to the government; two, better manage country’s strategic resources and nuclear arsenal; three, bring synergy among Army, Navy and Air Force by resolving inter-service doctrinal, planning, procurement and operational issues, and; four, integrate the Services Headquarters with MoD. The decision is ostensibly follow up of the Naresh Chandra Committee that had recommended such an appointment amongst many other recommendations that are yet to be implemented.

Strategic affairs analyst, commentator and civil servant, Mr. K Subhramanyam whose son is our Foreign Secretary, had been termed as the ‘doyen of strategic thought’ by many. Right until he unfortunately passed away in February 2011, he kept on exhorting the powers that be to streamline the country’s higher defence structures but to little avail. Under his chairmanship, the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) strongly recommended establishment of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), which was endorsed equally strongly by the Group of Ministers (GoP) Report. Around 70 countries including US, UK, France, Germany and Australia have CDS like post for integration of military operations and planning. Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and CDS in US and France respectively are highest ranking military officer and principal military adviser to the President of the country. In the case of the US, the Theatre Commanders too report directly to the political leadership. Ask the powers why India does not have a CDS, 16 years after the Kargil Conflict despite such strong recommendations and the answer is that Services don’t agree and more forcefully that “we need political consensus”. During a meeting chaired by the then Defence Minister (now President of India) in 2005, the Service Heads showed not only complete consensus to the need of a CDS but equivocally endorsed he must have full operational powers over the entire military. Then Defence Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee stated that few months back the government had actually taken a decision to announce the CDS and had even identified who the first CDS would be, but then there was no political consensus on the issue. He however, added in the same breath that when there were 101 things on which political consensus is not there but some decisions are still made. That was 10 years ago.

India’s population is largely unaware that ‘Rules of Business’ of Government of India adopted from the British continue to treat Services Headquarters as “Attached Offices”. Not changing this gave the handle to not only keep the military away but also absolves MoD of whatever happens in the Services. In British India, the Defence Secretary was charged with the defence of the country because Defence Secretary of British India was also the Defence Minister. This remains operative in India. So the Defence Secretary (not Defence Minister) continues to be in-charge for the defence of India as per the said ‘Rules of Business’. The IAS in the MoD followed the divide the military and rule policy of their predecessors, the Indian Civil Service (ICS). In 1947, the ICS included 322 Indians, some of whom would have continued in the MoD, joined by more birds of the same flock as bulk of the 688 British in the ICS chose to revert to UK when Partition took place. The babus of MoD would have been overjoyed with Nehru’s detest for the military and the Defence Minister in VK Krishna Menon who initiated the arms mafia in MoD through the infamous Jeep Scandal and despite having brought shame to the county in 1962 has a road named after him in the Capital’s heart perhaps because of the money he must have contributed to the party funds. With this legacy in conjunction the fact that he was not responsible for the defence India, successive Defence Ministers were more gainfully employed to make money, as indicated by successive scams growing increasingly larger and profitable, in synch with the arms mafia masterminded by the bureaucracy in tandem with other tentacles in PMO, DRDO-DPSUs-OF and abroad. Political involvement gave automatic protection to the bureaucracy. Little wonder why our defence indigenisation is so pathetic and despite the 1995 Dr Abdul Kalam headed Review Committee laying down the target of 70 percent indigenisation by 2014, 19 years later we are still importing over 70 percent defence equipment – no inquiry for lapses, no blame apportioned, no heads now tolled.

The bureaucracy will tell the political hierarchy that there is no difference between a CDS and Permanent Chairman of the COSC. But first, how did this new term come up when only CDS was mentioned past several years. The inside news is that Naresh Chandra was briefed by Shivshankar Menon (then NSA) at the time of formation of the committee as to what the recommendation of the committee should be. This is what in military parley is called ‘situating the appreciation’; decide on the end result first and jigger the way towards it rather than going about in a logical manner to arrive at options and recommendations. Not that Shivshankar Menon would have done this of his own accord but he was the same NSA who personally briefed the selected core of three of the infamous Track II that recommend Indian withdrawal from Siachen, apparently at the behest of Manmohan Singh (then Prime Minister) as hinted upon in Sanjaya Baru’s book ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’. Incidentally, speaking at Harvard on 7th March 2015 on ‘India’s Security Challenges: India and China’, Shivshankar Menon conclusively failed to bring out the larger aims and intentions of China and our long term interests. No wonder when NSA he and his hierarchy were content with China nibbling away our territory. The Shyam Saran report submitted on 10 August 2013 binging out some 645 sq kms territory lost to China and the permanent intrusion in Sirijap area to such nibbling actions in Ladakh over and above Aksai Chin was quietly buried after a brief accidental mention in the media. Not without reason, former Ambassador P Stopden has stated many times that over the years India has given up some 400 sq kms in eastern Ladakh alone to China over and above China’s illegal occupation of Aksai Chin and Shaksgam Valley.

We have a COSC with the senior-most Service Chief performing duties of its Chairman. The COSC has the full fledged HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) for all the planning that is required. But what is the status of HQ IDS. George Fernandes as Defence Minister established HQ IDS in accordance with the KRC and GoM recommendations. However, this was to be part of MoD which the bureaucracy has not permitted to happen. A Permanent Chairman COSC will simply replace the rotating Chairman COSC with balance remaining unchanged. The bogey of single point military advice needs to be seen in backdrop of MoD’s official document ruling “as and when a CDS is appointed, he will have equal voting rights as the Service Chiefs and in case of two Service Chiefs disagreeing, MoD (read bureaucracy will arbitrate”. Means he will NOT be projecting military’s single point with the capable bureaucracy proficient in creating dissent among the Services. As to ‘better manage country’s strategic resources and nuclear arsenal’ as trumpeted in the media, how is that possible with the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) quietly placed directly under the NSA with the COSC taken out of the loop years back? Bringing synergy among Army, Navy and Air Force again cannot be achieved by COSC, which is a Committee with little powers and control over Services. As regards, resolving inter-service doctrinal, planning, procurement and operational issues, these cannot be achieved in required measure by the COSC and HQ IDS in the present shape especially in absence of a National Security Strategy and Comprehensive Defence Review. The bogey of integrating the Services Headquarters with MoD can continue hitherto fore without any integration worth the name.

So where does this take us? The Permanent Chairman COSC will enable the MoD bureaucracy to continue to enjoy unlimited authority without any accountability as always. For example take the mishaps of the Navy. Logically, responsibility of the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak after explosions caused by a fire on board when the submarine was berthed at Mumbai, on August 14, 2013, killing 18 officers and sailors, plus the fire that engulfed INS Sindhuratna, on February 27, 2014 aside from numerous other mishaps should have shared by the MoD, especially those bureaucrats who did not sanction purchase of replacement batteries for months, which would be the normal course in any other country. INS Sindhuratna’s batteries had used up their life cycle in December 2012 but the submarine was forced to go for minor refit and continue on sea because of the depleted numbers of the Navy. It was still running on l5-month-old batteries. It could not get new batteries because procurement was delayed for more than those months by MoD though the batteries were available in India. INS Sindhuratna was on its first sea trial when the fire broke out due to the outdated batteries. Despite all this, no one in the MoD was prepared to share responsibility – not even those who sat on the related files to clear purchase of the replacement batteries. Antony and his bureaucrats buried it with the resignation of the Naval Chief. Despicably, powers to purchase such submarine batteries in emergency have still not been delegated to the Naval Chief.

In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one’s sovereignty or nation. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor. By another definition, it means disloyalty or treachery to one’s country or its government. But in a country like India, how do you classify the treasonous acts like shutting down of the Technical Support Division of the Army with adverse impact on our national security? Ministry of Commerce and Industry website admits 50 percent of all equipment held by the Indian Military is obsolete. Then you have the CAG reports saying that the DRDO has been supplying sub-standard and costlier equipment to the armed forces when better and cheaper equipment are available off the shelf, with lakhs of crores gone down the drain and years wasted. All this with the DRDO-DPSUs-OF functioning directly under the MoD and latter’s Joint Secretary’s on all boards of the DRDO-DPSUs-OF – all obviously receiving their monthly pay packets. It well known that despite many defence scams, no one from the bureaucracy has even been questioned. Corruption and scams include creating criticalities, as AK Antony did in his decade long tenure as Defence Minister, to force massive imports and make money in the process. The recent VVIP helicopter scam was deflected at a former Air Chief and the IAF, both of whom stand fully vindicated. The intelligence-cum-inquiry team that travelled to Italy in connection with the scam completely ignored the jottings in Heschke’s diary of the bribes given to MoD bureaucrats and politicians, for who can question them especially where everyone is involved?

Appointing a CDS, as recommended by the KRC and GoM was never implemented attributing it to lack of political consensus. Political consensus in any case was a farce with India having over 1,750 political parties. If a note is being sent to the CCS now directly, why could this not happen for appointing a CDS more than a decade back? The fact is that post the 6th CPC the bureaucracy wanted to quietly upgrade the Defence, Home, Foreign and Finance Secretaries to the level of Principal Secretary and equate the Defence Secretary with the Service Chiefs but this did not come through then. Now with the 7th CPC round the corner, the game plan appears to be to appoint Permanent Chairman COSC and upgrade the Defence Secretary to Principal Secretary thus downgrading the Service Chiefs to the Principal Defence Secretary level. So instead of Chairman COSC being the single point military adviser to the Cabinet, he would be single point advice to the Defence Minister with MoD playing arbitrator as earlier. Remember how the Military Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat was quietly done away. That is the reason the mafia will never permit a military member on the 7th CPC.

The Defence Minister can discount on any sane advice because he has chosen his advisers from within the MoD bureaucrats who are sans basic knowledge of matters military. The arms mafia is powerful and well embedded in the defence and defence industrial complex of India. ‘Make in India’ is a necessary concept but not the end to the woes of our security. As it is the Defence Minister admitted during Aero India 2015 that changes are required in the procurement policies and procedures to facilitate ‘Make in India’ in the defence sector. Doesn’t it strike you why these policies and procedures have not been streamlined seven months after the Prime Minister gave the call for ‘Make in India’ from the ramparts of the Red Fort on 15th August last year? Ever wondered why our indigenous defence production remained horrific despite the annual ritual of a new “simplified” defence procurement procedure announced with much fanfare. The simple explanation is that it had to suit the arms mafia. That is the reason HQ IDS was not permitted to be integrated with MoD. That is the reason in stark contrast to rest of the world our MoD does not have serving military professional on deputation or permanent absorption. That is the reason why the media in vilifying the military including the deliberate mischief of rumour-mongering purported army coup has gone unpunished. That is the reason that former military men who have even become Members of Parliament in the ruling party are kept at arms length from MoD, which unfortunately is the present case too. The inside news is that if the OROP is not sanctioned by 31st March, MoD is likely to surrender around Rs 13,000 crores. This would be a shame though the bureaucracy will deflect the blame on the Services for slow progress of cases; the usual trick. The Prime Minister’s mantra of same filing system and same bureaucracy worked beautifully in Gujarat and is being implemented in the central government but this unfortunately cannot work in MoD that is staffed with generalist bureaucrats.

The country urgently needs a CDS with full operational powers in addition to the Defence Minister made responsible for the defence of India. The political hierarchy must shift the civilian control of the Military from control by the bureaucracy to control by the political hierarchy. To bridge the vital void of integration, HQ IDS should be completely merged with the MoD. The Railways (almost as large as the Army) is managed by the Railway Board exclusively manned by Railway officials; without any generalist bureaucrats. The Foreign Secretary is an IFS Officer and not a generalist bureaucrat. So, why the MoD should be manned by generalist bureaucrats. The MoD needs to be replaced by a Department of Defence (DoD) headed by the Defence Minister, and manned by military professionals with civilian cells in the Defence Production and Defence Finance Wings of the proposed DoD. Undoubtedly this would hit the arms mafia in the jugular but isn’t that why the Planning Commission was done away in line with the Prime Minister’s motto “Na Khaoonga, Na Khane Doonga”? The CDS is vital not only for providing single point military advisory to the Cabinet but also to usher in synergy vertically and horizontally between the three Services that is completely lacking at the moment, and to transform the three Services into Network Centric Warfare (NCW) capable forces. In appointing the CDS, it should also be made clear that there should be no question of MoD generalist bureaucrats doing arbitration over disagreement between Services, as was cunningly inserted in the document authorising establishment of HQ IDS. Changes as these would provide a boost to defence preparedness, usher in a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), evolve requisite strategies and policies including for national security, response to asymmetric war, defence procurements, R&D, technology acquisition and reorganising the defence-industrial base.

What remains to be seen is whether the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister would stand by the bureaucratic puppetry of establishing a Permanent Chairman COSC or go for the overhaul as above that is long overdue and becoming increasingly vital in view of mounting threats to our national security.

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