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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

From Today's Papers - 19 Apr 2016

SC stays woman IAF officer’s reinstatement
New Delhi, April 18
The Supreme Court today granted interim stay on an appeal filed by the Centre against the Armed Forces Tribunal’s decision granting permanent commission and reinstatement of a retired lady wing commander. The court issued notice to Namrita Chandi for May 9.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and UU Lalit passed the order after hearing Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand and Advocate Col R Balasubramaanian, who explained that none of the women officers from Short Service Commission have been given a permanent commission since 2004.

They submitted that only women officers in the administrative, education and accounts were considered for permanent commission from the SSC.

The Centre has challenged the Armed Forces Tribunal’s order granting permanent commission to the Wing Commander. — PTI
Ties with China top priority: Parrikar
Beijing, April 18
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today kicked off his first visit here by holding talks with Chinese counterpart Gen Chang Wanquan stating that India attaches highest priority to its relationship with China and is committed to further develop the ties.

“India attaches highest priority to relations with China and committed to further developing friendly and cooperative relations with China,” Parrikar told Chang in his opening remarks before the two delegations started the talks.

Parrikar was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the headquarters of the Chinese military here by a contingent of PLA soldiers. Welcoming Parrikar, Chang said: “Hope your visit improve strategic mutual trust between the two armed forces.” After his meeting with Chang, Parrikar will hold talks with Gen Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, (CMC).

In Chinese military hierarchy Gen Fan is ranked higher, as CMC is overall head of the 2.3-million-strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

He is also due to call on Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visit China’s recently-integrated western command military headquarters in Chengdu which has jurisdiction over entire borders with India.

During Parrikar’s talks today with top Chinese military officials, recurring incidents of incursions, implementation of an agreement to reduce tensions between border patrols and Sino-India strategic concerns are expected to figure.

While Indian officials said the talks were expected to review the whole gamut of bilateral ties, India’s concerns over aggressive patrolling by Chinese troops especially in the Ladakh sector remains high. China denies any incursions, asserting its troops patrol areas within its territory along the 3,488-km disputed border. The two militaries also have strategic concerns over each other’s military tie-ups with other countries.

Ahead of Parrikar’s visit, China hinted that it may take up the recent decision by India to open up military bases to the US for logistics and efforts to conclude a pact to share aircraft sharing technologies. — PTI
Kashmir may witness many Handwaras
Syed Ata Hasnain
The incident at Handwara panned out in a manner that was typical of a deep-set conspiracy to bait the Army. Targeting and burning of the bunker was deliberately done to invite response. The Army’s could not have given a benign response as the safety of its men was involved.
A dangerous situation is unfolding in Kashmir and it appears a deliberate attempt to up the ante. It was predictable to any one who observes the Jammu and Kashmir situation on a regular basis. South Kashmir was far too volatile and the north far too quiet over the last few months. The conditions were ideal for a return to the street turbulence witnessed during 2008-10. Sopore, Handwara, Baramula and Pattan are competing centres for attention. Bandipura too has been without political or terrorist activity for some time. All of them have distinct separatist bases with a large cadre of over ground workers (OGWs). Terrorist strength has dwindled due to an effective anti-infiltration grid and effort of the security forces in the hinterland. Separatists cannot afford to allow their movement to flag off beyond a certain threshold and the youth-based militancy in south Kashmir is increasingly out of control of the United Jehad Council with whom the separatists have a good working linkage. The stamina of the public for another round of street turbulence has resurged. This was evident from the manner in which mobs attempted to intervene in the operations of the Army's Victor Force in south Kashmir and turned out to pay tribute to dead terrorists. The local media has largely been eulogising the terrorists in south Kashmir, with pro- separatist commentaries. The return of a government also triggered the idea of agitation.

With Governor's rule an agitation loses its political effect and the response by the state is far more robust. With an elected government in place the situation helps to create hype; response comes under scrutiny and with a coalition government dissensions increase on how to handle the turbulence Separatists create situations in which the security forces are offered few options but to respond. Recall how the Muzaffarabad March of August 11, 2011, was set up and Sheikh Abdul Aziz was virtually led to his death through a conspiracy. His death is still believed to have been at the hands of terrorists concealed in the mob. The manner in which the recent Handwara incident panned out was typical of a deep-set conspiracy to bait the Army. The targeting and burning of the bunker was done deliberately to invite response. The Army could not have had a benign response as the safety of its men was involved.

The attention of the Army will shift to internal security and the terrorists and their handlers will hope that the anti-infiltration grid will be less focused allowing more terrorists to infiltrate, leaders to be brought in and the critical supply of arms and ammunition replenished. Separatists want India and Pakistan to talk but perceive that their own role is being marginalised, hence the necessity to project their relevance. Street power is considered an appropriate means to draw attention. If the India-Pakistan peace process does progress, the importance of Handwara- like situations will enhance  — with separatists constantly seeking their space.

The spiralling violence is a part of the overall plan of action and reaction. Cadres are usually on the ready for this and professional rabble-rousers move from town to town, with teams of stone throwers. The Baramula agitation, for example, is almost entirely instigated from Sopore and carried out by the Pattan youth. The Army has the experience to handle this although many of the officers and jawans may be new to this game due to turnovers. However, there is an institutional memory and the JK police will help in briefing them on past responses. The Army must keep itself out of the agitation as in the past, notwithstanding deliberate attempts this time to bait it. This is not a conventional internal security situation. Remember, the Army is on a counter-terrorism grid. Flag marches will have to be dispensed with as this brings the mobs in contact with soldiers. The CRPF and JK police have enough experience but must ensure that a repeat of 2010 is avoided at all cost. The optimum amount of anti-riot gear is learnt to be still eluding these forces for which responsibility must be fixed. Senior police officers have to ensure that their sub units are never too small to get isolated and, therefore, targeted.

My personal experience tells me that the clergy plays a crucial role in subsiding tempers. The Amir e Jamat of the Jamat e Islami (K), who is located at Kulgam in south Kashmir can play a positive role. In such mass agitation, a sane voice will help and his services must be requested. If need be, SAS Geelani and his ilk should be physically isolated and prevented from accessing any communication resources such as mobile phones. His bandh calls had reached a point where no one was responding to them. Obviously Handwara is a method to regain his lost space.

All the above is well said and is fine as an approach towards prevention of a negative situation followed by avoiding worsening if it occurs. However, there is an element within the separatists and a very influential one which is instigating an irrational approach. It is catering for a conventional benign Army response of controlled use of violence.

The overall response of the security forces has been relatively benign, although some may term my usage of the word as an oxymoron. It's not easy to be facing mobs and attempting to be “good guys”. Before long, tempers will have flared.

In 2010, Geelani was initially ill- advised to increase the pitch of the agitation by targeting Army camps. When a veiled warning from the Army was received, he sensibly held back.

It seems this time the separatists have concluded that the Army will be benign and defensive so as not to draw the ire of human rights activists. Those promoting violence on the streets need to be aware of the phenomenon of unpredictability which the Army follows as an essential principle of security. In needling the Army, the separatists may just cross the threshold. It is their intent to sacrifice a few lives in the street to raise passions but beyond a point they too realise that loss of lives flags down a movement rather than take it forward.

There is a dire need for messaging at this time. The parents must know that their sons in the streets are being instigated. Even with best of intentions of the security forces, lives will be lost if a threshold is crossed. Is it difficult to get this message across? Perception management isn't the strongest area of any government establishment but this time sincere efforts must be made to shift blame squarely to the perpetrators who care least for young lives.

Some elements of the local media are attempting to egg on the new government to take a hard stance against the security forces. The Army Commander has made an early visit to ascertain and be briefed.

This is the time when the political leadership and the Army need to be demonstratively on the same page. Separatists and elements of the negative media will paint perception of division of opinion and attempt to project the CM as anti-people. This must not allow the working to be dented. The Durbar is still at Jammu but an advance element of the government must move to the Valley to nip the happenings in the bud. If not, there will be no rest this summer in the salubrious environs of the pristine Valley.

The writer, an ex General Officer Commanding of the Srinagar based 15 Corps, is now a Fellow with Vivekanand International Foundation & Delhi Policy Group.
 India’s reliance on imports may well continue even as it seeks to develop a domestic military industry.

 By far the largest importer of arms in the world, India is poised to spend an estimated $310 billion by 2022 on upgrading its arsenal. Vying for these sweepstakes are global arms vendors and also domestic suppliers who are exploring all viable options, such as forming consortia, joint ventures (JVs), public-private partnerships (PPPs) and outright sales.

Facilitating such partnerships will be the Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016, launched on March 28 by Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar at the Defense Expo 2016 in Goa. Unveiled before a gathering that included 224 representatives from 48 countries and 1,055 defense-related companies, DPP 2016 seeks to foster a credible Defense Industrial Base (DIB), or military industry, that will serve India’s armed forces as well as exports. Parrikar was confident that the Procedure, effective from April 2, would ensure probity in, and streamline and simplify, acquisition procedures so as to boost the government’s “Make in India” mission through indigenous design and production of military hardware.

With a resurgent India pursuing robust militarization that aims at addressing the complex security challenges it faces, its Union Budget 2016-17 presented to Parliament on February 29 apportioned $38.4b. for the defense sector. The “guns versus bread” votaries are questioning this largesse, considering that allocations were but $1.08b. for the education sector, $579 million for Public Health and $535.5m. for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) rates India the largest importer of arms, with a 14 percent share in global arms imports between 2011 and 2015. India’s mobilization has been driven by concerns about the critical gaps in the tactical and strategic defenses of its armed forces that have hitherto been largely served by vintage Soviet-era equipment.

Another worry has been the concerted expansion of the offensive capabilities of both Pakistan and China on India’s frontiers.

Parrikar has directed his officials to ensure the sanction of 86 pending acquisition proposals worth $22.3b.

within the first quarter of the current fiscal, namely, by June 30, 2016.

Three “Made in India” defense contracts worth $3.7b. were cleared last May. One was worth $2b. for joint production of C-295 transport aircraft by Airbus and Tata Advanced Systems (TAS) to replace the IAF’S aging Avros. The initial order is for 56 aircraft, with options for eight more. UK’s BAE Systems plc is partnering Mahindra Defense Systems (MDS) on a $700m. contract for local production of 145 M777 howitzers for the Indian Army. A joint venture between Russia’s Rostec State Corp. and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will licensebuild 200 Ka-226T twin-engine light multipurpose helicopters, in a deal worth $1b. and which will replace the aging Cheetahs and Chetaks – Indian versions of AĆ©rospatiale SA 315B Lama and SA 319 Alouette III – deployed by the Indian armed forces for high-altitude operations, particularly in Siachen.

Imports have hitherto been the mainstay of India’s defenses – 70% of the defense capital budget is imported – as generous outlays to the defense public sector undertakings (DPSUs) and the Ministry of Defense’s (MOD’S) Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) failed to nurture any noteworthy military industry.

Curiously, budgetary allocations under capital acquisition are often not fully utilized, resulting in withdrawal at the RE (revised estimates) stage. Of the $5.2b. forfeited over the past four years, $1.7b. remained unspent in 2015-16 alone, from an allocation that year of $11.5b.

While India’s dependence on defense imports seems likely to continue in the foreseeable future, Prime Minister Narendra Modi desires the country to become a major arms exporter, targeting a value of $3b. within a decade. The fact is that India’s arms purchases far overshadow its exports. Parrikar informed Parliament that “direct payments to foreign vendors for capital acquisitions” for the three services over the previous five years totaled $15.4b. In contrast, the five DPSUs, four defense shipyards, 39 ordnance factories as well as the private sector combined managed to export defense equipment worth only $245m. in the past three years.

In February, the “Make in India” policy got a boost when two Indian consortia were selected for the $5.95b. Battlefield Management System (BMS) contract for integrating all surveillance resources available at the battalion or regiment level, including from locally launched UAVs and ground sensors. Fourteen contenders had formed four consortia to vie for this prestigious contract.

The two selected – one comprising Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division (SED) and L&T, and the other, Rolta India and the DPSU, Bharat Electricals Ltd (BEL) – will each develop four BMS prototypes for mountain, jungle, plains and desert operations. The BMS will pinpoint the locations of Indian and enemy troops and key weapons platforms as well as facilitate terrain analysis to achieve improved situational awareness.

Tata Power SED-L&T along with the consortium of HCL Infosystems- BEL have been selected for another major contract, the $1.5b.

Tactical Communication System (TCS), which will replace the aging Army Radio Engineering Network (AREN). It was in 1996 that the army had sought to replace this backbone of its communication grid on an urgent and critical basis. The two selected teams will build two prototypes of the TCS, seven of which will be produced for the seven army commands. The two prototypes will be put to trials and the selected competitor will produce the entire TCS.

Ten Indian companies that have formed consortia are competing for the country’s largest ever indigenous contract, for $8.93b. worth of supply of 2,610 Future Infantry Combat Vehicles (FICVs). While Tata Motors has entered into a strategic agreement with Bharat Forge Ltd and the US’s General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), L&T has tied up with Mahindra. Tata Power SED is going it alone, while the others include Reliance Defense, Rolta, Punj Lloyd, Titagarh Wagons and the public sector Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

This contract was conceived in 2009, but the letter of intent (LoI) was suddenly withdrawn in 2012, only to be revived recently. The FICV will be an amphibious, armored, tracked and air-transportable troop-carrier that can fire four-kilometer range anti-tank missiles and will replace the Indian Army’s Russian-made BMP II second-generation infantry fighting vehicles in use since the 1980s. Each of the three shortlisted consortia will develop an FICV prototype, with the Defense Ministry contributing 80% of the cost.

The Tata Group is among those Indian companies positioning themselves to take advantage of the military bounty. India’s largest private sector conglomerate with $108.8b.

revenue in 2014-15 is investing substantially in this field and its defense and aerospace business expects to earn $398.3m. in 2015-16. For instance, Tata Power SED, which has a $74.4m. facility in Bangalore, is setting up a new factory of a like amount at Vemagal in Karnataka.

The unit will open next year, and a further $29.8m. will be invested in the second phase. The group’s 14 companies engaged in the sector have an order book exceeding $1.3b.

Vernon Noronha, vice-president of Tata Motors’ defense & government business, sees defense contributing 15% to his company’s revenue, up from the current 3%, if it wins the FICV order.

The latest Indian company to foray into defense is the $10b. diversified Adani Group, with its newly- formed subsidiary, Adani Aero Defense Systems & Technologies Ltd, signing a statement of intent on March 30 with Israel’s Elbit-ISTAR and Bangalore’s Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd to collaborate on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

Adani believes UAS will be the next frontier of technology, providing multi-functional capability, especially that of “see & hear,” to provide information advantage to the military and Internet security providers.

Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Infrastructure entered the defense sector last year by picking up an 18% stake in Pipavav Defense and Offshore Engineering Company Ltd for $123.1m., after announcing plans to acquire a controlling stake for up to $313m. It followed up in December with an additional 17% for $127.8.m and made an open offer for a further 26%. Rechristened Reliance Defense and Engineering Ltd (RDEL) On March 3, the company is setting up a $751.6m. shipyard on the east coast in Rambilli, near the Indian naval base at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to build nuclear vessels and aircraft carriers. It will also be taking on its board veterans like retired air chief marshall Fali Homi Major and Lt. Gen. (ret.) Syed Ata Hasnain. The company secured 12 industrial licenses last year from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and is hoping for orders worth $18b. over the next five years.

L&T, the $9.22b. turnover engineering and construction giant, sees award opportunity of $18b.-$20b.

each in army and navy. Since 2002, L&T is India’s only corporation with licenses to manufacture the entire range of defense equipment for all four services, including the Coast Guard. The company fabricated the hull and other critical components of India’s first indigenous nuclear- powered submarine, Arihant, and has invested $594m. in the 1,225- acre Kutapalli shipyard on the east coast where it intends to build the P 75I submarines – if it wins the imminent contract estimated at between $8b.-$10b. – and other naval orders.

India’s largest defense deal was to have been the $22b. contract won in January 2012 by France’s Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The process began in 2005 with a request for information (RFI) issued by the IAF for a new frontline jetfighter to replace the out-of-date Soviet-built MiG-21s that had been its mainstay since the early ‘80s. The IAF is hamstrung by a depleted fleet of just 34 combat squadrons against the authorized strength of 42. Negotiations had stalled over pricing and the guarantee clause when Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his April 2015 visit to France officiated the outright purchase of 36 Rafales at an as-yet undetermined price. It is unclear what will happen to the rest of the MMRCA deal, which originally entailed outright purchase of 18 Rafales, the remaining 108 to be built under transfer of technology by HAL.

France’s other major ongoing military program with India is the $3.73b. transfer of technology Project 75 (P 75) by its state-owned DCNS with India’s public sector Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) for constructing six Scorpene attack submarines.

The first submarine, Kalvari, is set for launch in September and for commissioning a year thereafter, the remaining five joining service at intervals of one year.

The Indian Navy has a particularly robust program of modernization, with 41 ships on order from Indian yards at a combined cost of about $16b., including P 75.

DCNS, MDL and other defense-oriented enterprises like L&T and RDEL, which have invested heavily in creating and expanding their warship- building competencies, are also aspiring for the imminent $7.44b. P 75 India (P 75I) tender for building six more diesel-electric submarines.

Last September, India signed a $2.5b. deal with Boeing for procuring 22 Apache AH-64E combat and 15 Chinook CH-47F heavy lift helicopters. With large sections of the Chinook fuselage already being made in India and talks on to make Apache parts as well, Boeing chairman Jim McNerney said his company may assemble either of these helicopters in India and also proposed to manufacture a current fighter jet of Boeing in the country.

Russia, according to SIPRI, remains India’s steadfast arms supplier, accounting for 70% of India’s arms imports between 2011 and 2015.

India, in turn, remains the largest purchaser of Russian arms, with 39% of Moscow’s military exports in the same five-year period. “Based on existing orders and weapons, Russia will remain, by a significant distance, the main supplier of major arms to India for the foreseeable future,” the SIPRI report adds.

Last December, India’s Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared the purchase of five Russian S-400 Triumph (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler) missile defense systems estimated at $6b. India could reportedly buy 12 of these 400-km range surface-to-air missiles that can simultaneously engage up to 36 targets, like tactical and strategic aircraft as well as ballistic and cruise missiles, firing 72 missiles toward them. China is the first buyer of S-400, which is one of the most advanced anti-aircraft missile systems in the Russian inventory.

The DRDO and Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) are partnering on the $1.5b. project for developing a medium-range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) system for the IAF and on the $388m. project for developing a long-range SAM (LR-SAM) for both the Indian and Israeli armed forces. Both the SAM systems will be inducted from this year.

There is a growing view that India needs to adequately militarize in the context of the threat scenario it faces on two fronts. Apart from defense modernization and indigenization, it needs to focus on future technologies like stealth, unmanned systems, satellite surveillance and cyber-warfare. China, for instance, is a generation ahead when it comes to militarization and the gap is increasing. Beijing has successfully raised indigenization after decades of dependence on Soviet imports and reverse engineering. China also supplies more than half the defense equipment required by Pakistan under “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” theory.

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