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Thursday, 23 June 2016

From Today's Papers - 23 Jun 2016

India seeks to buy patrol drones from US
Washington: India has sent a letter of request to the US for buying patrol drones for protection and vigilance of its maritime assets in the Indian Ocean. It comes less than a fortnight after India was inducted into the Missile Technology Control Regime. The letter seeks purchase of the multi-mission maritime patrol Predator Guardian UAVs from General Atomics. These drones can fly non-stop for over 24 hours and monitor movement of objects as small as a football. PTI

Listening to Mozart may lower BP          

Berlin: Listening to a soothing Mozart symphony may significantly lower blood pressure and heart rate. The study of the effect of different musical genres on the cardiovascular system found that the music of Mozart and Strauss is able to lower blood lipid concentrations and the heart rate. All musical genres resulted in notably lower cortisol concentrations, researchers said. The effect of music was far greater than that of silence. PTI

New AI system can predict human actions     

Boston: Scientists have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system, using videos from YouTube and popular TV shows, that can predict whether two people will hug, kiss or shake hands. Computer systems that predict actions would open up new possibilities ranging from robots that can better navigate human environments, to emergency response systems that predict falls, to virtual reality headsets that feed you suggestions for what to do in different situations. PTI

China to crack down on online comments      

Beijing: China’s Internet regulator has launched a new campaign to clean up the comments sections on websites to prevent the spread of what it calls “harmful information” and to encourage “more helpful, well-intentioned comments” to appear. The Chinese government already exercises widespread controls over the Internet. The Cyberspace Administration of China said the crackdown was aimed at tackling “outstanding problems”. PTI
Top level changes in Army on cards
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
As changes in the Army’s top hierarchy are on the cards following the retirement of senior officers, two Lieutenant Generals have proceeded on leave because the government is still to decide their new assignments even though posting orders of officers selected to replace them have already been issued.

Sources said Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command, is tipped to take over as the new Vice-Chief when the incumbent, Lt Gen MMS Rai, retires at the end of next month.

While the posting orders are yet to be issued, two names are doing the rounds to take over as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, from Lt Gen KJ Singh. These are Lt Gen DR Soni, an Armoured Corps officer who till now was commanding the Bathinda-based 10 Corps, and Lt Gen Surinder Singh, a Guards officer commanding 33 Corps in the north-east.

Lt Gen Ashwini Kumar, an Army Air Defence Corps officer, has been appointed as the General Officer Commanding, 10 Corps, in place of Lt Gen Soni. Lt Gen Soni and Lt Gen PS Mehta, GOC, 21 Corps in Bhopal, have been “sent” on leave for about a month till the government decides their new postings.

Officers appointed to replace Lt Gen Soni and Lt Gen Mehta, who have been attached to Headquarters South Western Command and Army Headquarters, are expected to assume charge this week. While Lt Gen Soni is expected to be elevated as an Army Commander, Lt Gen Mehta is tipped to get a staff appointment.

Army sources said that it is not unusual for officers to be sent on “cooling-off” leave till fresh posting orders are issued. Central Army Commander Lt Gen BS Negi, too, was attached to Headquarters Northern Command after completion of his tenure as GOC, 14 Corps, and remained on leave for about a month before proceeding for his current assignment. Similarly, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda had spent a month-long cooling period before taking over in July 2014.

The Chief of Staff, Western Command, Lt Gen Gurdip Singh is also retiring at the end of this month. A Major General posted at Headquarters Eastern Command is expected to take over from him on promotion.
Ahead of NSG’s Seoul talks, Modi to meet Xi in Tashkent
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 22
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to discuss India’s NSG membership with Chinese President Xi Jinping when the two leaders meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet that begins tomorrow in Tashkent.

China, as of today, showed no signs of welcoming India into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and stuck to its guns of India being a non-signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and hence not being allowed into the elite group.

Meanwhile, India is indulging in some hectic last-minute diplomacy in Seoul. As first reported by The Tribune on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar today reached Seoul where the NSG session is on. The crucial plenary session is on June 23-24 when India’s candidature is likely to be discussed. Many officials from the Ministry of External Affairs are already in Seoul, lobbying with various member states for India’s entry into the grouping.

While France today came out in public support for India’s bid, the one nation that seems to be holding up the opposition strongly is of course China. The US and the UK have already supported India as have many other nations such as Switzerland, but since NSG works on consensus, China has to be on board for India’s membership to the club.

China, meanwhile, seems to be sticking to its earlier position and insistence that nations that have not signed the NPT cannot be allowed into the NSG. In a written statement, the office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson today said: “As for the entry of non-NPT countries, the group has never put that on its meeting agenda. Based on what we have at hand, the agenda of this year’s Seoul plenary meeting circulated by the Chair does not include this issue either.”

The ministry, however, acknowledged that three rounds of “informal” discussions were held along a separate channel on the membership of non-NPT members.

It went on to dismiss allegations that China was blocking India’s membership and insisted that only membership of countries that had signed the NPT was on the agenda of talks in Seoul. “Deliberation on the entry of specific countries is on the agenda of the Seoul plenary meeting. However, it is worth noting that the meeting is only to deliberate on the entry application of countries that are state parties to the NPT.”

Pakistan also kept up its grumbling noises and Pakistan National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua today even alleged that America’s efforts to include India in the NSG was part of a “greater design” to contain China and prevent the resurgence of Russia. Pakistan has also said that the US pressure to include India into the NSG has pushed Pakistan closer to China.

With China sticking to its guns, and India pushing with all its diplomatic strength to gain entry into the NSG, the crucial meet now would be between Modi and Jinping. If Modi can convince the Chinese leadership to somehow reverse its stand, Seoul would see a happy ending for India.
Army comes out against road work on China border
 An ambitious road project planned along the McMahon Line in Arunachal Pradesh has hit the Indian Army hurdle. The Army is opposed to constructing any road close to the disputed border with China, said a senior Home Ministry official.

The proposed 1,500-km India-China frontier highway will run parallel along the China border. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, which was initially approached for the project, had declined to work on it citing that it was financially not viable.

The project is said to cost anywhere between Rs. 30,000 and Rs. 40,000 crore. The Home Ministry is now looking to rope in an international contractor to complete the project.

At a meeting last week, the Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) had opposed the project, and said that the alignment of the roads proposed was not conducive from security point of view.

The DGMO also opposed the demand of opening advance landing grounds for civilian use. The State government has been demanding that all the eight advance landing grounds should be thrown open for civilian aircraft to boost connectivity in the region.

An official said that last week a senior Indian Air Force officer inaugurated the advance landing ground at Mechuka without the consent of the State government.

The proposed highway will pass through Tawang, East Kameng, Upper Subansiri, West Siang, Upper Siang, Dibang Valley, Desali, Chaglagam, Kibito, Dong, Hawai and Vijaynagar on the Arunachal Pradesh border. The government has already relaxed environmental clearances for border area projects.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said, “I will be calling a meeting of all stakeholders soon to resolve the issue. The area needs connectivity.”

Earlier, an Empowered Committee led by Secretary, Border Management, tasked by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), held a meeting with the DGMO where the latter put forth the objections.

A delegation of Arunachal Pradesh MLAs, led by its Chief Minister Kalikho Pul, will soon petition the Prime Minister to resolve the issue. 

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