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Monday, May 19, 2003

 
George says AJTs will be decided upon 'soon' but no specific dates givenIndian Express Internet Edition 08 May 03
New Delhi, May 8: Defying party's decision to boycott George Fernandes, at least four Congress members in Lok Sabha on Thursday refused to walk out when the Defence Minister rose to reply to a calling attention motion on frequent crashes of MiG fighter aircraft.
It was quite an embarrassing situation for the Congress as the motion was tabled by its member Jagmeet Singh Brar who chose to stay on to listen to Fernandes along with K P Singh Deo, Laxman Singh and Vilas Muttemwar.
Twice a few members, including Avtar Singh Bhadana and Ranee Narah, quietly approached them to move out of the house but they seemed to ignore the advice, a move welcomed by NDA members. After the Defence Minister read out the calling attention statement, Muttemwar and Singh Deo Left the house but Brar and Laxman Singh stayed on.
Left party as well as RJD members too had joined the walkout, continuing their stand to boycott Fernandes in Parliament over the Tehelka expose.
While complimenting the defiant members, Samata Party member Prabhunath Singh threatened to raise the issue of alleged smuggling of antiques to Italy if the Congress maintained its campaign to target his party leader Fernandes.
BJP chief whip Vijay Kumar Malhotra regretted the attitude of the Congress, RJD and left parties, saying their stand was "undemocratic and irresponsible".
"The Prime Minister has appointed Fernandes as Defence Minister but they are refusing to recognise that. It is being done by a responsible party (Congress) which is over hundred years old," he said.
To a remark by BJP member Kirti Azad against the Congress, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said now the Congress was relenting on the issue as could be seen by the presence of some members, there was no need to fuel the fire further.
In the very beginning when some NDA members were protesting the walkout by Congress, Speaker Manohar Joshi asked them to resume their seats as some Congress members were sitting to participate in the discussion on the calling attention motion.
Joshi thanked Fernandes for his reply, saying he himself had written a letter to him expressing concern over MiG crashes.
Fernandes told the house the government was "on the threshold" to procure advanced jet trainers for Indian Air force but the delivery of the planes could take a couple of years as they would not be purchased off the shelf.
Fernandes said "government has been considering various options for procurement of AJTs and it is expected that a decision will be taken soon".
Contending that there has been a "steady fall" in the number of accidents involving MiG aircraft in the last 3 to 4 decades, he said due to constant efforts and measures taken by the Defence Ministry, the overall number of accidents had come down.
The ministry, he said, was continuing making efforts to ensure that better training facilities and sophisticated training equipment were made available to IAF pilots.
Asserting that MiG series planes were "not flying coffins" and that they had been flown by then Air Chief A Y Tipnis and the present Chief S Krishnaswamy to prove their airworthiness, Fernandes said these planes were now IAF's mainstay and would continue to fly till sophisticated aircraft were acquired.
He, however, quoted the IAF to say that MiGs were the "most demanding" warplanes.
Rejecting Brar's charge that proper spares purchased from Russia were being exported to Algeria and Vietnam and sub-standard parts from CIS and former Warsaw Pact countries used, the minister said spares produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited were fitted to the planes.
Surplus spares and those sought by foreign countries through orders were exported, he said.
During the calling attention motion, Akali Dal (M)Member Simranjit Singh Mann and M A K Swain (BJP) also put questions to Fernandes on the MiG accidents.
"This lie needs to be nailed," Fernandes said.
On Brar's accusation that criminal negligence and corruption in the Defence Department were cause for the accidents, Fernandnes asked the member to make available any information in this regard to his ministry so that immediate action could be taken.
To another remark by the Congress member that the ministry was insensitive to the loss of pilot lives, he said "no one could be more concerned about these accidents than the Defence ministry and the IAF. The tragedy that visits the homes of those whose sons are killed is shared by everyone in the country, the Defence Ministry and the IAF."
Fernandes said ten MiG-21 crashed in the first year of their induction in 1971-72 followed by eight in 1972-73, 11 in '73-74 while one crash has occurred this year.
"It is not the NDA government and the Defence Minister who has to take responsibility for what is happening," he said, adding several factors were behind the accidents.
On delay in acquiring AJTs, which has been hanging fire for the last two decades, the minister said hurdles were created by negative media reports and other factors.
He said it took about two to three years for evaluation of an aircraft and completion of price negotiations but newspaper reports lead to the matter being referred to the Central Vigilance Commission.
"There has not been any kind of inordinate delay on the part of this government," he said.
Fernandes said the root cause of fighter aircraft accidents could be broadly classified as human error, technical defect and other miscellaneous causes such as adverse weather conditions, difficulties associated with harsh terrain of operations and foreign object damage.
"Category I accident is that where the aircraft is totally damaged and beyond economical repair. In Category II the damage is 30 to 50 per cent and in Category III between 10 and 30 per cent," he said, adding about 38 per cent of Cat I accidents were due to human error and 37 per cent due to technical defect.
Bird hit, he said, accounted for about 15 per cent of the crashes while the rest were due to miscellaneous factors.
"Majority of human error accidents are caused due to error of skill, error of judgement, poor airmanship, non-compliance of instructions and lack of situational awareness," he said.
Major technical defect factors responsible for accidents were rotor seizure, fatigue fracture, fuel contamination, over-heating of turbine blades, hydraulic failure and engine failure, he said.
Fernadnes said IAF has several squadrons of MiG variants, which were utilised in a variety of operational roles as well as for training.
Noting that at present supersonic training is carried out on MiG-21 FL aircraft, Fernandes said "the best possible training is given to IAF pilots and there has been no reduction in the standard of training".
He said "every effort is taken to reduce accidents and improve flight safety. This is an ongoing process. In this context measures to enhance quality of training to improve the skill level, ability to exercise sound judgement and situational awareness of pilots are being pursued.
"Constant interaction with HAL at the highest level is being maintained with a view to reducing accidents due to technical defect," he said.
Fernandes said Defence Research and Development Organisation and other technical agencies were also being involved in all accident investigations to form a wider perspective to prevent crashes and measures to reduce accidents on account of bird menace were also being implemented.
In order to bring down the number of fighter aircraft accidents, he said government constituted a committee on fighter aircraft accidents which submitted its report in September 1997. "All recommendations of the committee have been addressed and are under various stages of implementation," he said.
"Due to constant efforts and measures taken by the Defence Ministry, the overall number of accidents have come down. The Ministry is also phasing out as well as upgrading old aircraft and inducting new ones into IAF's fleet," he added.
No "full safeguards" of nuclear installations under IAEA: Govt Indian Express Internet Edition 8 May 03
New Delhi, May 8: There is no obligation for full scope safeguards on India's indigenous nuclear programme, government told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, denying that the country's rapid expansion of nuclear facilities had been affected by the regulations of the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG).
India, however, has facility specific safeguards arrangement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for those nuclear power reactors, which have foreign collaboration, Minister of State for Atomic Energy S.B. Mookherjee said in a written reply.
He also denied that the NSG regulations would affect the deal with Russia to construct two 1000 mw nuclear power plants at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu.
Government will not permit "full safeguards" of nuclear installations under the aegis of the IAEA, Mookherjee said and pointed out that the country's view point on opening up of nuclear trade between NSG and India has been adequately articulated from time to time.
He said the government recently announced its intention to increase the nuclear power generation capacity from 2720 mw to 20,000 mw by the year 2020.
The power generation is scheduled to grow to 6680 mw by December 2008 progressively by completion of eight nuclear power reactor units, two each at Tarapur, Kaiga, Kudankulam and Rawatbhata, the minister said.
Indigenous Light Combat Aircraft named Tejas Indian Express Internet Edition 04 May 03
Bangalore, May 4: Naming Light Combat Aircraft, projected as India's future war machine, as Tejas, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Sunday sought joint international collaborations with New Delhi in design, development and co-production in military and civilian sectors.
Speaking at a ceremony to christen the indigenously designed and developed multi-role fighter, Vajpayee said India would follow a vigorous policy of aviation growth in both the military and civilian sector, while continuing to support indigenous development.
"At the same time, we welcome collaboration with international partners in design, development and co-production", he said.
Stating that a shining example is India's co-development with a Russian company of the "BrahMos" supersonic cruise missile, Vajpayee said he was sure that other potential international partners would eventually wake up to the tremendous commercial potential of such joint collaborations with India not only for markets in India but also in third countries.
Vajpayee said the LCA should now be inducted into Indian Air Force squadrons, adding, the government need to make the necessary investments for its commercial production and should also explore its export potential.
He expressed confidence that this world-class fighting machine would make a glorious contribution to the nation's defence.
India has adopted a most responsible policy on missile, nuclear and dual use technologies, taking the utmost care to avoid their proliferation. It is as much of concern to us as it is to any other country that such technologies should not fall into wrong hands - whether they are of state actors or non-state actors.
"In spite of this, we have continued to face technology denial regimes, which not only try to impede our weapons development programmes, but also affect some of them," Vajpayee said.
India's scientists and technologists had responded splendidly to this challenge and developed world-class technologies of indigenous design, he said, adding, "our cutting edge skills in information technology have added further strength to this process".
Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy described LCA as a 'weapon of war' and 'machine of war', which can teach an 'adversary' a lesson. The LCA was expected to be inducted in a couple of years, he added.
The scientific advisor to Defence Minister and Director General of DRDO, Dr. V K Aatre, said the two technology demonstrators of LCA had done a total of 76 flights, and with the prototype vehicle, which is on the anvil, it was going to break the sound barrier. "It's going supersonic very shortly".
Defence Minister George Fernades said the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited would have to start a new division to focus on productionising LCA.
Without naming anybody, he said when the NDA government came to power, none thought that the LCA and advanced light helicopter project would take off at all, as 'deliberate attempts' were made to demoralise the scientists and engineers behind the project. More than one newspaper expressed cynicism over the LCA project even on the day of LCA's maiden flight, he added
Indian Army to set up IT directorateIndian Express Internet Edition 30 Apr 03
New Delhi, April 30: Taking a cue from the crucial role played by information flows in the US-led strikes on Iraq, the Indian Army plans to set up a Directorate of Information Technology.
The formation of such a key directorate is under discussion in the ongoing week-long Army commanders conference which is going to lead to the formation of the Army's first such directorate at its headquarters here.
The directorate, official sources said, would seek information flow as a force multiplier, as witnessed during the Kargil crisis.
Besides formation of such a directorate, the Army commanders are also framing an operational mandate for the rashtriya rifles, the Army's counter-insurgency arm in Jammu and Kashmir, which would then be placed before the cabinet committee on security for approval.
The absence of such a mandate, sources said, was often leading to friction between various security force units engaged in operations against militants in the border state. It has also become essential as the Rashtriya Rifles, which formed a fledgling force of a few battalions in the early 90s, has now become almost 64 battalion strong.
Army Chief Gen NC Vij, during his address to the six Army commanders and Principal Staff Officers at Army Headquarters here, also briefed them about Indian assistance to Nepal to combat the ongoing militancy. He said New Delhi had assured Kathamndu of continued military assistance.
India has already given military assistance worth Rs. 168crore as grant to Nepal to fight insurgency. The assistance includes supply of helicopters, specialised jeeps and medium vehicles, heavy mortars, multi purpose machine guns and imparting anti-insurgency training to Nepalese Army personnel in Indian military institutions.
The commanders also dwelt at length on the counter-insurgency operations, with special inputs provided by the northern Army commander.
They also took up the issue of ex-servicemen contributory health scheme which was recently launched by Defence Minister George Fernandes.
For the first time, the promotion board, comprising Army commanders, for approval of promotions from Major General to Lt General would not be making any recommendations as those by the boards for the last two years are yet to be cleared by the Defence Ministry. Usually, the board meets during the conference
Prithvi test firedIndian Express Internet Edition 29 Apr 03
Balasore (Orissa), April 29: Prithvi, India's most sophisticated medium range missile, was successfully test fired from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, 15 km from here, on Tuesday.
The Indian Army and scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, who conducted the test, described it as an user's trial.

Mounted on a mobile tatra transporter erecter launcher, the indigenously developed missile with a range of 150 to 250 km, was fired at 11.27 am, according to ITR sources.
Prithvi's test was part of the continuing effort to further fine tune the missile which has already been inducted into the Army, the sources said.
The 8.56-metre high and one-metre thick missile, which witnessed a perfect lift-off, is part of India's integrated guided missile development programme. With a striking range of 150 to 250 km, Prithvi was being developed for the Indian Army, Indian Air force and Indian Navy.
The missile with latest on-board computer and an advanced inertial navigation system could use both solid and liquid propellant.
Prithvi has a launch weight of 4.6 tonnes which included payload of one tonne. This variant of the missile could take just 300 seconds to reach the target located at a distance of 150 km, the sources said.
The first test of the missile was conducted on February 22, 1988 at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh while the last user's trial was conducted for the last time from the ITR on March 26 last
France offers long term military cooperationIndian Express Internet Edition28 Apr 03
New Delhi, April 28: France on Monday offered India a long-term military-to-military cooperation on joint development, technology transfer and sale of hi-tech weapons systems.
Asserting that the move towards a multi polar world was a must, especially after the recent war in Iraq, visiting French Defence Minister Michelle Alliot-Marie, who held wide-ranging security dialogue with the Indian leadership, said only those countries which had a credible defence deterrent would be heard.

Declaring that in the present turmoil in international relations forging of close military cooperation had become a necessity, Alliot-Marie said Paris wanted the "deepening of the intensity of its defence relations with New Delhi".
The minister's assurance comes in the background of France not falling in line with other western nations in imposing armament sanctions against India post Pokhran nuclear tests.
As the two countries were poised for signing of an estimated 2 billion dollar deal for manufacture in India under licenced production of six advanced diesel propelled Scorpene submarines, she said France was committed to carrying out upgrades of its weapons systems sold to India and maintaining them at optimal operational use.
She also said that France had offered the sale of its upgraded Mirage 2000-5 to India along with technology transfer. Paris has offered thermal imagers for India's Russian made T-72 and T-90 tanks and angular determination system for artillery.
France has also agreed to meet India's immediate needs for high-intensity mines to be strung on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir to check cross border terrorism and upgradation of fire control systems of Indian tanks.
Maintaining that Paris desired to take Indo-French military cooperation to partnership basis, Alliot-Marie said this would include joint development of weapons systems, sharing of technology and product maintenance.
On cross border terrorism in Kashmir, she said France had been fighting the menace much before September 11 adding that its was only after attacks on the US that Washington and other countries had changed their position.
Calling for an intensified fight against terrorism, she said international pressure had to build to root out terrorists international financial networks of the terrorists and to stop their recruiting policies.
Asked about whether Pakistan could be the next coalition target after Iraq and Afghanistan, in the fight against terrorism, Alliot-Marie said it was difficult to interpret US intentions.
She also sidestepped a question whether India was putting pressure on Paris to move away from arms sales to Islamabad as long as major weapons deals were on with New Delhi merely saying that her country was only fulfilling old contracts with Pakistan.
The French minister had a one-to-one meeting with Defence Minister George Fernandes after which military delegation talks were held. She also called on the deputy Prime Minister L K Advani. Besides Fernandes, the nine member Indian delegation to the talks included Defence Secretary Subir Dutta, Secretary Defence Production N S Sisodia, Scientific Adviser Dr V K Atre, Special Secretaries Dhriendera Singh and Somi Tandon.
The French delegation was headed by Lt Gen Jean Paul Pannie, Director of International Affairs French Defence Ministry Vice Admiral Francoi Dupont, Vice Admiral Herve Giraud and French ambassador here Dominique Giraud.
The three service chiefs, Admiral Madhvendera Singh, Gen N C Vij and Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy also called on the French Defence minister.
The Scorpene deal, which has been cleared by the Navy and Ministry of Defence, is awaiting the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security. Under it India plans to manufacture six of these submarines at Mazagoan docks and retain option of building six more.
Besides, the French subs, New Delhi plans to open another submarine building lines with the Russian Amur class subs in hot contention.
French officials travelling with the Defence Minister said "we have reasons to beleive that the deal could be finalised in coming months". The Scorpene would be built over a period of 15 years with the first one rolling out in 2010 and the sixth in 2016
Uproar in LS on defence committee report Indian Express Internet Edition24 Apr 03
New Delhi, April 23: A parliamentary standing committee report pulling up Defence ministry for lapse of allocated funds rocked the Lok Sabha on Wednesday with the Opposition members expressing serious concern and wanting to know whether the country's defence preparedness was "safe" in the hands of the NDA government.
Agitated Opposition members stalled the Question Hour for half an hour and later raised the matter during Zero Hour and stuck to their demand for an immediate response from Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in the absence of Defence Minister George Fernandes who was away in China on a visit.
Assuring the members that the government took seriously the reports of the standing committees, Vajpayee said these could be discussed in the House through a proper motion. "Opposition should remove this impression from their minds that the government does not take these reports seriously," he said, adding time should be fixed for a discussion.
A visibly annoyed Prime Minister took strong exception to a demand by Congress member Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi seeking suspension of Question Hour to discuss the report of the standing committee on defence.
Vajpayee said, "This is a Question Hour and I don't know what we are doing during Question Hour. How will this House function like this? Why not observe some parliamentary norms?"
Opposition members joined Dasmunsi in vehemently protesting Vajpayee's remarks
GSLV successfully placed into orbit Indian Express Internet Edition 08 May 03
Chennai, May 8: The 1800 kg GSAT-2, the experimental communication satellite carried by the GSLV-D2 Ii its second developmental flight from Sriharikota on Thursday evening, was placed into the geosynchronous transfer orbit at 1715 hours, IST, about 16.30 minutes after take-off, ISRO officials said.
Vij brings commanders in complaints panel Indian Express 25 mar 03
New Delhi, March 24: Army Chief General Nirmal Chander Vij has decided to bring his six Army Commanders including the Vice Chief on board while dealing with statutory and non-statutory complaints of officers of the rank of Brigadier and above.
While the Army HQs is silent on the move, it is understood that from now on officers complaints will be discussed during the bi-annual Army Commanders conference in order to bring transparency into the process.
So far, the non-statutory complaints filed by officers were disposed by the Army Chief in consultation with the Military Secretariat branch. In case of statutory complaints, it was the Army Chiefs office that forwarded the complaints to the Defence Ministry after recording the Chiefs recommendations. The statutory complaints that are filed under the Army Act are disposed off by the Defence Ministry.
The Army Chief reportedly decided to bring top commanders on board to dispel any notion of biases towards the complaining officer
Army modernisation plans hit by Rs 6,500-cr cut
Pranab Dhal Samanta

New Delhi, March 25: The Army is staring down an empty barrel, having failed to pay up for initiating procurement of certain key equipment after the Finance Ministry withdrew Rs 6,500 crore from its last years budget allocation. This happened just a month before the end of the financial year.
The worst-hit is the infantry which had a couple of important surveillance equipment in the pipeline. The initial amounts for these new deals were to be paid in March, but the finance ministry decision in February to withdraw Rs 9,000 crore from the annual defence budget over 60 per cent of which is for the Army made the payments impossible.
The list for infantry included 350 hand-held thermal cameras, about 300 short-range radars and over 100 anti-material rifles used largely to destroy bunkers. These were to be procured mostly from Israel. This apart, 1,000 special boots needed for mining and demining operations as well as a deal for new night-vision devices now stand frozen.
Sources say the delay in procuring these equipment crucial to the Armys counter-insurgency operations is going to have a direct impact on the troops committed in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East. Not only does constant upgradation minimise casualties, sources added, it also beefs up the armoury of tactical options available with the forces in these areas.
If the infantry has immediate problems, the artillery is despairing over the fact that its next lot of new self-propelled guns, to be procured from South Africa, are now stuck. Again the 10 per cent initial amount scheduled for payment this March is not available. The overall deal is for 280 guns with 50 per cent capable to move on tracks while the rest would be wheeled.
Another major acquisition for the artillery, 12 Smerch multi-barrel rocket launchers, too, could not go through due to a last-minute revision in previous years defence budget.
It is understood that usually an initial 10 per cent amount is paid on every arms deal. This ensures forward movement on the contract and the first batch of the equipment arrives normally within 18-24 months of this payment. With a budget of about Rs 3,500 cr allocated for modernisation projects, sources said, the withdrawal of Rs 6,500 cr meant a deduction of over Rs. 2,000 cr from this category. After paying up the several defence-related public sector units for procuring existing equipment, there was nothing left in the cash boxes.
The picture for next year also appears gloomy for the Army with two instalments of dearness allowance also to be paid to all personnel. It is understood that the modernisation component of the Armys budget could drop to somewhere in the vicinity of Rs 1,000 cr to Rs 1,500 cr. According to experts, such a sharp fall will have a devastating impact on long-term modernisation plans. These schedules of procurement are worked out well in advance

Navy builds case for another two aircraft carriers
Saikat Datta Indian Express 29 Apr 03
New Delhi, April 28: Having laid the keel of the first indigenous Air Defence Ship (ADS), the Indian Navy is now lobbying with the government to build two more aircraft carriers. It is understood the Navy is keen on three aircraft carriers to deploy one on each coast, sparing the third for regular refits at the dockyard.
Listing several advantages of building three ships, the Navy has pointed out that by 2011, when the indigenous ADS is ready to take to the sea, it will have a large force of marine engineers with the knowledge to build aircraft carriers.
South Block sources point out that while it is negotiating the Russian-built Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, it is at least four years away from being refitted and becoming operational. The Gorshkov will be replace the INS Viraat, Indias lone aircraft carrier which is also expected to be decommissioned in a few years. In fact, the Indian Navy could be without an aircraft carrier till the Gorshkov is operational by the end of this decade.
To avoid a similar scenario, the Navy has submitted a paper to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) seeking approval to build two more indigenous aircraft carriers. French company the Direction Des Constructions Naval will collaborate with the Indian shipyard in building the first ADS.
The Navy has also pointed out the growth of the Chinese Navy in the region and its aspirations to build a carrier battle group which is expected to be operational by 2020. This has underlined the Navys need to have an aircraft carrier on the East Coast to guard the sea lanes of communication opening to South East Asia and the Far East. A similar group is envisioned on the West Coast to deal with threats from Pakistan.
With the indigenous ADS costing Rs 5,000 crore, the Navy has suggested that funds be provided in a phased manner to offset a major burden to the exchequer. Once approved by the MoD, the final nod on building the carriers will come from the Cabinet Committee on Security
French minister to talk deals, gauge perception
Express News Service Indian Express 29 Apr 03
New Delhi, April 28: Visiting French Defence Minister Michele Aliot-Marie has promised to cooperate with India on defence matters beyond a buyer-seller relationship.
It is understood that the minister, who flew into New Delhi on Saturday on a three-day trip, is here to not only press for several major defence contracts with New Delhi but also to gauge Indias regional strategic perceptions. The minister also met Indian experts hailing from thinktanks at a dinner at the French ambassadors residence on Sunday.
Minister on Iraq War
NEW DELHI: French Defence Minister Michele Aliot-Marie reiterated how her country has always been against war. ‘‘It is difficult to understand US perceptions. It all depends on who you are speaking to in the US’’. Reiterating that France has been against war, Aliot-Marie said an international body like the UN must have a role in the reconstruction of Iraq. (ENS)
In her meeting with Defence Minister George Fernandes, Aliot-Marie offered a host of French arms in which India has evinced interest. On offer are six Scorpene submarines to be built in India.
Earlier in the day, Navy chief Adm Madhvendra Singh stated that the submarines had been cleared by the Navy and the Ministry of Defence and await clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security. According to Aliot-Marie, it is up to the Indian Government to take a decision and we should have something by the year-end, she said after a working lunch with a MoD delegation.
While India will get the Mirage 2000-H to make up for the losses in the two Mirage squadrons, the French are keen to sell the latest Mirage 2000-5 to India. The IAF is keen to procure 140 multi-role aircraft and and has listed the Mirage 2000-5 as a possible contender. Paris has also offered military equipment including mines and thermal imagers for its Russian-built tanks.
The minister met Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and discussed Indian perceptions on Iraq. New Delhi also conveyed its concerns on Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism to the visiting Defence minister. However, she side-stepped a question on continuing arms sales to Islamabad stating that Paris was fulfilling old contractual obligations. In her meeting with Fernandes , the French defence minister exchanged notes on the recently concluded visit to China
Navy to buy two IL-38 at second-hand price
Express News Service Indina Express 29 Apr 03
New Delhi: The Indian Navy is negotiating the purchase of two IL-38 aircraft as replacement for those lost in an air accident in Goa last year. The navy plans to acquire the P3C Orion maritime reconnaissance aircraft as part of its move to modernise its air fleet, said Navy Chief Adm Madhvendra Singh on the sidelines of a function to flag off a naval mountaineering expedition.
With an eye on the expertise and maintenance infrastructure for the IL-38, the Navy plans to pick up two planes at second-hand prices. It is also waiting for government clearance for its plans to build submarines with the help of a French firm, Scorpene. Stating that the deal has been cleared by the Ministry of Defence, Singh said: It is now between the French and the Indian government to give the final go-ahead.
The Navy has also invited international bids for two submarine rescue vessels. Singh said it is keen on replacing its fleet of 18 helicopters with anti-submarine warfare capability and medium haul helicopters. The Navy is also waiting for its first Krivak-class stealth destroyer, INS Talwar, which is expected to arrive in June this year. The ship would be put through user trials before it is accepted by the Indian Navy, Singh said. The project was delayed because a missile system failed to meet specifications. India is seeking damages from the Russians for the delay.

Russia, Israel quibble, IAF awaits AWACS
Saikat Datta Indian Express 28 Apr 03

New Delhi, April 27: Soon after National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra returns from Washington next month, he is expected to fly to Tel Aviv to expedite the PHALCON Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) deal for the armed forces.
The PHALCON deal is stuck due to the Russian insistence of signing an agreement with Israel to ensure that blueprints of the AWACS platform in this case a IL-76TD plane are not passed on to another country apart from the user, India.
While the dates of Mishras visit are being finalised, it is learnt that he will hold discussions with his Israeli counterpart, Efraim Halevi, and Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on this issue besides impact of the Iraq War on the security of the Gulf region. While Moscow is keen on signing a tripartite agreement with New Delhi and Tel Aviv, South Block sources say that they are keen on protecting the original blueprints of the Il-76 TD. However Israel, master at reverse engineering and adapting foreign arms designs, has turned down the Russian demand on the grounds that they have never entered into similar deals with any design partner.
For years Indias military has been looking for an AWACS, considered a major force multiplier and serves as a militarys eyes in the sky during battle. The lack of an AWACS was acutely felt during the Kargil War, when the IAF improvised by sending up helicopters to mark targets. An AWACS would enable the IAF to direct its interceptors to a threat from across the border the moment it is airborne.
In fact, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence has highlighted the need for an AWACS in its latest report which was tabled in Parliament last week. In its reply to the committees inquiries, the MoD has stated that a technical configuration has been finalised in May/June 2000 with Israel. It was decided that an AWACS would be based on the new Il-76 TD designed by Tashkent Aircraft Production Company and be re-engineered with a more powerful PS-90A engine.
India has already sought a commercial proposal with the Israeli electronics major ELTA, a subsidiary of the Israeli Aircraft Industries Pvt Ltd which has collaborated on several projects including the Su-30 MKI projects. The cost proposed by ELTA is in the region of a US $ 120 million. New Delhi is also keen to partner the Israelis in developing the Arrow-II missile system which is married to the Greenpine radar which has been acquired by India earlier
Defence: DPM gets updates from Admiral
Bhavna Vij-aurora Indian Express 24 Apr 03
New Delhi, April 24: A day after the Opposition put the Vajpayee Government on the mat for not paying enough attention to the demands of the military, Chairman of Chiefs-of-Staffs-Committee, Admiral Madhavendra Singh, briefed Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani on defence preparedness of the Armed Forces.
According to North Block sources, Singh made a 20 minute presentation before Advani that touched on issues ranging from the Tri-Service Command at Andaman and Nicobar Islands to increasing the force levels of the three services.
While North Block is tightlipped about the meeting, Singhs meeting with Advani assumes significance as the Armed Forces is unhappy with the cut in the capital outlay of the defence budget. The military establishment this year was forced to surrender more than Rs 9,000 crore leaving the Armed Forces acquisition plan in a lurch.
The standing committee on defence report, which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, sparked off a heated debate in the House with members accusing the Centre of neglecting the military establishment. The members wanted to know whether the country is in safe hands. It is learnt that Advani discussed the implementation of recommendations of the Group of Ministers with Singh.
He also called for the GoM report after the Parliamentary uproar on Wednesday. The Andaman Command was set up on the basis of GoM report to monitor the sea lanes in the context of energy security and tackle gun-running and narcotics smuggling in the Andamans sea. Sources said Singh made out a case for increasing force levels of the Armed Forces with Advani. The three services have been crying for acquiring more force multipliers so that conventional parity with Indias neighbours does not go down.
For instance, the Advanced Jet Trainer deal for the Indian Air Force has been hanging fire since 1984. The Army has been asking for self-propelled guns for the past five years and Navy has been keen on acquiring Admiral Gorshkov Aircraft Carrier for the past decade
Arms inspectors head for Pakistan
Agence France Presse Indian Express 22 Apr 03
Islamabad, April 22: Pakistan has agreed for the first time to allow international chemical weapons inspectors check an industrial site, a government official said today.
Inspectors from the independent Hague-based Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will arrive on April 29 to inspect a fertiliser plant in Karachi, the official said. They are more than welcome to inspect the Fauji Jordan fertiliser site, he said, asking not to be named.
Pakistan does not have any chemical weapons. The inspection will be conducted under the global Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) treaty, signed in 1993, which binds signatory states to work towards the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.
Members are obliged to open their sites for inspection and ensure that no chemical weapons are being produced. The official did not explain why the OPCW inspectors were checking Pakistan, or why the Fauji Jordan plant had been chosen for inspection
IAF plans change in MiG-27 engine
Saikat Dutta Indian Express 19 Apr 03
New Delhi, April 18: Worried at the safety record of the MiG series, the IAF is re-examining the ongoing upgrade programme of MiG-27 and is planning to change its R-29 engine with a variant of the modern AL-31 engine that powers the Su-30 MKI. The upgrade is being undertaken by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) at the MiG complex in Nashik.
Currently, the MiG-27 is undergoing a mid-life upgrade programme that includes better avionics, more pods for carrying weapons and a better radar. However, the upgrade does not include any changes on the airframe or the engine.
But the two recent crashes of MiG-21 Bison have forced the IAF to take a closer look at the upgrade programme, and it has proposed that the plan be modified to replace the nearly 30-year-old R-29 engine of MiG-27 that has a suspect track record.
According to sources, since replacement of R-29 engines with a variant of the AL-31 would include major design modifications, the IAF and HAL have decided to rope in MiG-MAPO group, the original manufacturers of the MiG series of aircraft.
Both the MiG-21 crashes are believed to have been caused by engine failures. However, since the MiG-21 design had become outdated, HAL as well as the original manufacturer had no option but to continue with the R-25 engine.
HAL was unable to make any design changes and stuck to upgrading the avionics and the weapons systems on board at a cost of approximately Rs 1,200 crore. Like the MiG-21, the MiG-27, which is a ground attack aircraft, also has a relatively high accident record.
Between 1988 and 2002, the IAF lost 23 MiG-27 aircraft, mostly attributed to technical defects. In fact, the IAF has also been forced to fly the ageing MiG-23 and is perhaps the only airforce in the world to do so.
With the IAF still awaiting a political decision to procure more modern aircraft to replenish its ageing fleet of front-line fighters and the Light Combat Aircraft programme years away from operational induction, the IAF has been forced to undertake mid-life upgrade programmes for its MiG series, which continues to be the backbone of the air force.

How our aircraft are sitting ducks Besides Paks Anza, militants now possess many other SAMs, says Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad Indian Express 18 Apr 03
The defeat of a new resolution in the UN Security Council calling for international involvement to resolve the status of Kashmir precipitates violent anti-Western demonstrations in Pakistan.
This is accompanied by a sharp increase in Islamic guerrilla activity in Kashmir, culminating in the downing, by a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile (SAM), of an Indian aircraft carrying its Home Minister, Defence Minister and Army Chief of Staff. Informed reports implicate the Government of Pakistan in the shootdown.
India responds by launching Operation Resolute Sword air and artillery attacks against targets in Kashmir and northern Pakistan suspected of harboring and supporting perpetrators of violence in Kashmir and the rest of India. The Government of India declares that its intentions are limited in both scope and objective.
Further, it issues an ultimatum demanding the immediate delivery of terrorist leaders sheltered in Pakistan, the dismantling of known terrorist headquarters and training facilities, and the removal of all Pakistani military forces from Kashmir.
No, thankfully, this isnt the real thing. The above were the conditions of a war-game conducted recently by the US Naval War College in Rhode Island. And what were the conclusions drawn after this brainstorming by experts and computerised simulations?
Initially, Pakistan offers little resistance to the attacks, which inflict heavy damage to the infrastructure targets. When Indian forces suspend their attack, Pakistan seizes the opportunity for a surprise attack against Indian forces east and south of Lahore.
During a two-day battle, Pak units manage to push about fifty kilometres into Indian territory, inflicting heavy casualties on Indian civilians, before a counter offensive repulses the thrust.
India matches its defeat of Pakistani troops in Indian Punjab with a rapid movement across the Thar Desert toward the Indus River.
Fearing that India is about to cut Pakistan into two, the Pakistani High Command orders a barrage of tactical missile strikes. Four of these missiles carry nuclear warheads: three twenty-kiloton weapons are delivered against Indian forces to halt their advance, and the fourth is used against the supporting rail hub in Jodhpur. The strikes stall the Indian movement and destroy the rail hub, also causing widespread destruction among the civilian population of Jodhpur. Experts from the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency estimate the number of dead and seriously injured in hundreds of thousands.
While an outcome along these lines such as India letting down its guard after destroying terrorist camps in Kashmir or the use of nuclear weapons against Jodhpur may be unlikely, the discovery, in December last year, of Pakistani-built Anza-MK-I shoulder-fired surface-to-air heat-seeking missiles in Kupwara makes the initial conditions of this wargame the downing of an Indian aircraft carrying VIPs highly probable.
Sheikh Jamil-ur-Rehman, Amir of the mercenary group, Tehrik-ul-Mujahdeen, and Secretary General of the Muttahida Jihad Council, claimed his groups were ready, operationally, to fire Anzas from mobile launchers in Kashmir, which could hit Indian aircraft at a range of six kilometres. Since Anzas are manufactured only by Pakistani Ordnance factories, the involvement of the Pak Government is clear.
The Anza, which Pakistan started manufacturing four years ago, is an improved version of the Russian SA-7. It has a passive infra-red homing guidance system and a range of 6 km. The greatest breakthrough that Pakistan has made is that the Anza can be fired in extreme weather conditions, even in temperatures of -40 degrees celsius, which makes it one of the few surface-to-air missiles which can operate successfully in the conditions of Siachen or Kargil.
Helicopters carrying VIPs and civilian aircraft at commercial Indian airports are at great risk of being brought down by shoulder-fired SAMs. In addition to Anzas, anti-India terrorist groups can purchase far superior Russian SAMs, including the SA-14, SA-16 and SA-18, or the Chinese HN-5, for less than $ 20,000 in the international arms black market.
Clones of the Russian SA-7b and Strela-2M, manufactured in Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Hungary, North Korea and Pakistan, are available for less than $ 10,000. Thousands of American-made Stinger SAMs, supplied via the Pakistani Government to the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, have also found their way to militant Islamic groups, despite the CIAs offer to buy them back at $100,000 each.
It would be easy for a terrorist to stand undetected three to four kilometres away from the runway of an Indian airport and fire at aircraft as they take off or land. According to Capt. Robert Lambert of the Worldwide Airline Pilots Security Alliance, If civilian airliners are targeted by terrorists using shoulder-fired missiles, there isnt much we can do about that in the air.
Moreover, new heat-seeking SAMs with a range of up to 30 km are being developed, which do not require to be fired from directly behind the aircrafts flight path. With highly sophisticated heat-seeker systems, these can be fired at an aircraft from any angle. So a terrorist located in Palam or Vasant Kunj or Dwarka would be able to bring down an aircraft as it takes off or lands at Delhis Indira Gandhi airport. Similarly, aircraft taking off or landing at Mumbai could be attacked by a terrorist in Santa Cruz or Andheri. Slow-flying helicopters, such as those carrying VIPs during election campaigns, are sitting ducks.
Counter-measures like flares or chaff could offer some protection to slow-flying civilian aircraft. Flares, made of magnesium, are dispensed on either side of the aircraft so that the SAM is attracted to their hot bright light and does not home in on the hot exhaust of the aircraft engine. Chaff are metallic strips roped by aircraft to confuse a missiles radar-homing devices. But while these are about eighty per cent effective, installing them would cost at least $ 2 million per plane. Not many airlines, or even Air Forces, could afford them.
The US Air Force has decided that from 2004, all its helicopters, troop transport planes and tankers will be fitted with Large Aircraft Infra-red Countermeasure (LAIRCM) systems. LAIRCM automatically detects, tracks and jams infra-red missiles, sending a high-intensity laser beam into the missiles seeker and disrupting its guidance system. Rafael, an Israeli military research and development company, is also developing Britening, a missile-warning system for commercial airlines that automatically senses missiles and sends a very hot light beam to deflect them away from the plane. Taking a cue from them, Indias own Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) should immediately begin to develop such systems and provide them to the IAF as well as civilian airlines. We should also plan to produce indigenous flare and chaff dispensers at lower costs.
The writer heads a group which analyses C4ISRT (Command, Control, Communications & Computers Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting) in South Asia

After IB, LoC to be fenced soon: Dy Army Chief
Express News Service Indina Express 17 Apr 03
Jammu, April 16: Portions along the Line of Control would soon be fenced on the pattern of the International Border and 13 additional battalions of counter insurgent force, Rashtriya Rifles (RR) would be raised to check infiltration from Pakistan, Deputy Chief of the Army Staff Lt Gen J.B.S. Yadava said here today.
The force strength would be raised from 53 battalions at present to 66 battalions by next two to three years to deal exclusively to counter cross-border terrorism, Gen Yadava told a high-level conference of Director General and five GOCs of RR. He added that this was decided by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) some time back following indications that the state would witness a rise in infiltration in summer.
The process of increase in security strength would start this year and completed by 2006-2007, Yadava said, adding that it would effectively bring the entire J-K under RR cover. He also emphasised the need for shifting the residents of 14 border villages from the LoC to other areas.
Ruling out replacement of the BSF from the International Border in Jammu sector by RR troops, Yadava asserted: The BSF would continue to man the IB.
Regarding the disbanding of the SOG, he said: As we were never banking on the SOG, its disbanding hardly affects us. He, however, admitted that the SOG had given them vital information at times.
Later, RR Director General Lt Gen Kapil Vij gave an account of the modernisation of RR in the state.
If were as sensitive to Shindes needs as the Pentagon was to Romeros, wed save many lives Havildar Shinde, Sergeant Romero
Shekhar Gupta Indian Express 12 Apr 03
The unexpectedly large response to Its not about saving Pvt Ryan (National Interest, IE, March 29) is generally evenly divided. The article struck a positive chord with most Indian readers, and many of those who wrote back in agreement were actually Indian soldiers, active or retired.
But disagreement was equally passionate and came from so many American readers who read it off the Net. Those in agreement said the Americans are so scared of losing lives as to be incapable of fighting a real war. Others said Indians could afford to talk like this because life comes cheap in these parts and millions are queueing up to join their army simply because there are no other jobs available.
The truth, as in most such cases, lies somewhere between these two extreme arguments. One thing we have to concede is that the western armies, no matter what their advantage in terms of resources and technology, take the efficiency, comfort and safety of their men much more seriously than we do. This despite the fact that our armies are almost constantly involved in some sort of combat.
While it is good that we are less hesitant about taking casualties, our rough-and-ready attitude is callous and uncaring towards the men who charge at the machine-gun nests rather than wait inside their main battle tank and call up a helicopter strike.
That difference is underlined strikingly by a story in The Wall Street Journal about a certain Master Sergeant Rudy Romero. While operating in the Afghan mountains with the 101st Airborne, he wrote a long e-mail in capital letters to one of his former commandants, explaining his experiences in real combat.
How the shoes that worked in Iraqi deserts in 1991 now fell apart in rocky Afghanistan, how the rucksacks were too heavy, how the MREs (meals ready to eat) were too cumbersome, how the gloves were warm but you couldnt pull the trigger wearing those, and so on.
MANY in our colonially hierarchy-bound armed forces would be outraged at the very idea of a mere master sergeant writing directly, and so informally, to his commandant like this. Particularly as the e-mail began, rather jauntily, with, Hows everything going, sir? Lets get together for lunch. I know a pretty good place if you like Mexican.
But whats more important is what happened after his e-mail landed with his old boss, Major Frank Sturek (who is probably putting some of that wisdom to good use with his unit around Najaf now). He forwarded it to the two people he thought should be reading it: Army Sgt Major Jack Tilley and Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki who, The Wall Street Journal said, found it fascinating.
A month later Tilley called Romero and summoned him to the US Soldier Systems Centre in Massachusetts. Romero and two others who operated with him in Afghanistan spoke to a theatre full of army engineers working on the soldiers personal equipment and clothing.
The result: Already, the boots are changing, so is the mix of rations, the fit of gloves. Engineers are also addressing other issues that might sound elementary but complicate the soldiers life a great deal in battle.
For example, the problem with different kinds of equipment using different kinds of batteries adding to weight as well as eating into operational time. Romero and his colleagues then spoke about other more functional issues, like what kind of grenades were found best at clearing caves and work on those is going on.
The Romero e-mail is now posted on several US army websites and in Internet chat rooms (http://windsofchange.net/archives/ 003064.html). The 1,500-word e-mail is studded with what marketing men would call genuine user statements. Romero describes how with the flak jacket, equipment and weapons they were already carrying 80 pounds each.
So throw on the ruck (the rucksack or backpack) and you are sucking, he wrote. He describes how his mates found a lot of the equipment issued by the army so impractical they learnt to procure it from commercial chains. These include gloves, socks, garters, even ammunition sacks all bought from mountaineering and hunting stores back in the US.
NOW, cut to Kargil and recall some of the media coverage of that bloody, little war. What feedback did our reporters bring you from our own anonymous men, the unknown soldier, and lets call him Havildar Shinde for convenience. That his shoes broke in a couple of days on those craggy rocks. That his clothing was not warm enough at night and too hot when the sun was out.
That he was short of night goggles and the ones he had were inadequate. That his patrols and assault sections, the very cutting edge of mountain warfare, were low on automatics and could do with a greater volume as well as range of fire power. That his close air support was erratic and ineffectual even if the pilots were brave and forever willing, and so on.
It is unlikely, given our social and temperamental differences, that some Havildar Shinde would have dared to send an e-mail or write a letter like this to his commandant. But did anyone higher up bother about these feedbacks that were coming through the media?
Kargil, mind you, was a war that was fought and won in the backdrop of the then army chief making a public statement like, We will fight with whatever we have got. We wouldnt know if he sent an e-mail like this to his bosses. Even if he did, we well know how seriously it would be taken given the fact that the ministry of defence returned unspent nearly Rs 9,000 crore in the last financial year.
And this when our army was lined up on the border through most of the year and supposedly preparing for full-fledged war any moment.
YOU want to see how this works in real life, apply a test I had suggested in a National Interest column (Our underdog of war, IE, May 6, 2000). Take at random a still photograph of the 1965 war, or even one from the Republic Day parade of 1966, and compare it with a picture of an Indian soldier in Kashmir or at the same parade now.
If they do look so remarkably similar, you know what were talking about. The army has been engaged in the most vicious, low-intensity conflict in Kashmir in 50 years losing on an average 300-400 men per year. This is three to four times more than the US army has lost conquering Iraq.
And yet they were fighting with the rifle that you saw them carrying in 1965 until, in many of the units, these were replaced with even older AK-47s but at least these are lighter and have a better rate of fire.
It is not that there have been no changes but its difficult to say if the user, the poor Havildar Shinde, has been consulted. Many units in Kashmir now have flak jackets. But these are cumbersome and heavy. The half measure mindset reflects in the new bullet-proof helmet that merely goes around the forehead and the lower head, leaving the top merely under a patka.
If George Fernandes went to Kashmir one of these days and, instead of the mere ritual of sharing a chana-shakarpara meal with the jawans, actually took one aside he may discover some truth. Most jawans discard both their jackets and the helmets when combat actually begins. The jacket is too heavy when you are in pursuit of the terrorist, the helmet is too inadequate when you are crouching under enemy fire.
The other fact he will discover is how often his jawans, and even officers, are inclined to use flak jackets and even rucksacks retrieved from terrorists they have killed because these are of better quality. Their personal weapons are exactly the same as those of the terrorists, there are very few night vision devices or other electronics that is part of the edge any regular army would deserve to have against hit-and-run terrorists.
Sergeant Romeros e-mail should be essential reading for both the brass that spends half its time playing golf and the other half bitching about the bureaucracy, as also for the civilian leadership which is so thrilled to return the equivalent of $2 billion unspent from the defence allocation to balance the nations budget.
Indias fight against terrorism is now a two-decade-old war of attrition. It is likely it will go on in the same way for many more years. If we were as sensitive to the needs of our Havildar Shinde as the Pentagon was to Sergeant Romero, we will save hundreds of lives of our own in this campaign. You can in any case leave it to your jawans to win it for you.


What ails our Armed Forces? Responding to Shekhar Guptas column, Hav. Shinde, Sgt. Romero, readers stress the need for our Army to be decolonised, liberalised Indian Express 17 Apr 03
It is heartening to note that an editor of a national newspaper has taken up the case of the low-castes of the army the other ranks. The Indian Army personnel are divided into three categories: the other ranks including the NCOs, the JCOs and the Commissioned Officers. In the US Army, there are only two categories officers and the enlisted men.
The JCO, a peculiarity of the Indian Army, was the invention of the British and was meant to fill the communication gap between the British officers and Indian sepoys. However, after Independence, the Indian officers found it convenient to continue with the arrangement of JCOs.
It was in the tradition of the Indian caste system and helped the officers keep their distance from the sepoys. In other armies, there is no intermediary between a lieutenant and sergeant (Havildar in the Indian army). That is why Hav. Shinde could not have written to an officer. In the case of Sgt Romero and Major Sturek, communication was natural because both were in the same platoon with no JCO between them. So strict is the chain of command in the Indian Army that a letter from Shinde to his former company commander would have resulted in disciplinary action against him instead of it being appreciated. You mentioned that Maj. Sturek forwarded the sergeants letter to two people he thought should be reading it: Army Sergeant Major Jack Tilley and Chief of Staff (General) Eric Shineski. For us in India, it is understandable that he forwarded it to the General, but why to a Sgt Major, who is only an NCO? Because, as the US World Almanac says, the US Army, Navy and Air Force in 1966-67 each created a position of senior enlisted advisor, whose primary job is to represent the point of view of the services enlisted men and women on matters of welfare, morale and any problems concerning enlisted personnel. In the Indian army, there is no representation for other ranks in the higher echelons. So is the case with JCOs. The battalion has a Subedar Major, who used to be a father figure and who directly advised the commanding officer on discipline and welfare of the men. But nowadays, the post has been reduced to that of an informer, if not an errand boy of the CO. Neither was the NCO/JCO represented in the committees that advised the Pay Commission or the rehabilitation and resettlement organisations. Let me narrate a personal incident. When I requested the United Services Institution, to change my associate membership into a regular one, it was rejected by the Executive Council comprising retired generals, because I had served as a JCO. This when there are half-a-dozen books on military matters written by me in the USI Library. The Royal United Services Institution, on the lines of which the USI was established in 1870, has no such officers only restriction. Arent our Generals more British than the British?
Sub Maj N. Kunju (Retd)
Whither our Indian pride
When I was a member of the faculty of Defence Services Staff College, I was told by an American officer that his soldiers would not serve in the conditions that our soldiers do. His statement sums up what our Army is all about: ‘‘serve without expecting anything in return’’. It is not enough for George Fernandes to just visit Siachen. Let him translate his words into deeds. He can modernise our forces instead of returning the funds unspent. . As a nation, we lack pride. This translates into the treatment of our soldiers. We think of them only during war, and make promises only to forget them. That is the difference between Shinde and Romero. Colonel A. Sridharan (Retd)
The Ex-Servicemens Contributory Health Scheme launched with much fanfare just a fortnight ago has sought as much as 50 per cent contribution from the pensioners. If this is the way we treat our Armed Forces, the quality of those opting for it will go down. After all, who would like to get stuck in a career which demands the best part of your life and gives nothing in return?
P.M. Ravindran
The approach of our civilian leadership towards national security is absolutely scandalous. If there is an India-US war tomorrow, the fate of the Indian Army will be no better than the Iraqi Army.
Dilip
If George Fernandes was half the man that Shastri was, he should have resigned many times over with the now almost-daily MiG crashes. But hes not, and we have to rue the fate of our jawans. Havildar Shinde is no Romero. He can be no Romero when we have callous individuals who assume and retain powerful positions without responsibility.
Jay Iyer
When real life heroes are ignored
It is really very depressing to learn about the appaling conditions faced by our brave soldiers and nothing being done about it. I guess that’s the way we Indians are. Even I, after reading your article and feeling so bad for our soldiers, will forget about it in a day or two if not earlier. Recently, Aishwarya Rai, who earns in crores for each movie and got hurt in a minor accident, had private planes at her disposal to carry her back to Mumbai. I wonder whether the owners of these planes would even spare a thought for our brave soldiers, who are always facing injury and death while guarding the country. - Shankar
It is so true that our politicians are so out of touch with the real issues. Our netas have to be made more more accountable. Then the death of even one jawan would be taken more seriously than just another photo-op for handing a paltry check to the widow.
Bob Thukral
I strongly believe that India has too much of democracy. By this, I mean that even buying essentials like supplies for the military is being scrutinised and criticised by the Opposition. The result: These people are scared to spend money even for basic necessities. How else can one explain the unspent funds?
Basker Mathrubootham
Yes, in the Indian Army it is impossible to change or modernise anything without giving an arm and a leg. Forget Havildar Shinde, a mid-level infantry officer cannot get anything changed for his men or himself. Our senior officers reach their exalted ranks because of two premier qualities: they have to be docile in action and a tiger on paper. Among the many things that the Army really needs, but cannot articulate, are: better and lighter rifles, modern form of Web equipment (pouches etc), better water bottles, more powerful and lighter binoculars, boots which do not require an anklet, computers to accurately fire 81 mm mortars, more lethal grenades, GPS equipment, replacements for the archaic one-ton vehicles which guzzle fuel. If we could somehow bring about these changes, the Indian Infantry would be revolutionised. If India wants to be a modern nation, it will have to liberalise its Armed Forces and give them a free hand, change the cult of subservience and cut out the colonial system. Otherwise the country will be roundly defeated in the next war by a military Pakistan. If our military officers are mere lackeys, the country cannot proactively defend herself.
Maj A.K. Mathur (retd)
It is not just the Army but our entire mindset about seniority and the notion that the ground-level people dont know anything that has to be changed. Even in our schools and colleges, are students ever encouraged to ask probing questions? How often does a company ask your opinion about their product and actually do something about it? You talk about the rifles used by the Indian Army. But think about the buses, trains and other mass transport systems in use in the country. How have they changed in the last two-three decades? Its all due to our lazy, unimaginative approach.
S. Chatterjee
On the one hand there are American soldiers who are embarrassingly dependent on their Air Force or so called Smart Bombs. On the other, are our soldiers who have a lot to grumble about, but hardly ever complain. I feel that the loss of their lives during the Kargil conflict could have been substantially reduced if we had proper equipment. I hope our politicians read your article.
Aditya Chandra
You have missed the point. Havildar Shinde stands nowhere in comparison to their Sergeant Romero because of the die-hard colonial legacy of our defence services, even 55 years after Independence. Where else do you find such ranks among NCOs ? So your well-intentioned harangue on poor equipment only touches the fringe of the malady.
R. Misra
Sergeant Romero may have become a hero in America for his email. But to me, it shows gross indiscipline on his part. I do not think it is right to allow sergeants to write letters directly to the authorities, bypassing the chain of command. In fact, such acts would create indiscipline. And while our brave jawans must be provided with the necessary equipment and the basic amenities needed for their day-to-day life, it must also be ensured that they do not end up becoming a pampered lot.
V.P. Damodar
Too often we tend to take our brave jawans for granted and expect them to perform miracles; which, given the terrible battle conditions they have to deal with, they often do. But do the brass (civilian and military) care? Perhaps not. Consider the infamous post-Kargil coffin-scandal and the every-other-day MiG crashes. So how do we set this right? A public interest litigation on behalf of our jawans?
Sriniis
n it is not right to blame just the military brass for the callous attitude towards the soldiers. Let us not forget that the English language Press lionised General Parvez Musharraf during the Agra summit. The US State Department frequently equates India and Pakistan by treating the aggressor (Pakistan) and the victim (India) as equally responsible for the situation in Kashmir. They do this to promote the interests of the US. The US Press reflects this position as they do whenever matters of US foreign policy are concerned. The Indian press should realise that when foreign policy is concerned, the countrys interests should come first. Nagaraja Rao
The article is a beautiful insight into the Defence Ministrys functioning. Why dont you lead a signature email campaign to bring this into the limelight? Like the Bofors scandal, we need to raise a big noise to be really heard. This is the least that we can do for our jawans.
N.S. Rao000
India, Russia to reopen talks on Stealth frigates
Saikat Datta Indian Express 12 apr 03
New Delhi, April 11: India is all set to re-negotiate the US $ 1 billion-deal with Russia for three Khrivak-class stealth frigates INS Talwar, Trishul and Tabar after the project has been delayed by nearly a year due to a faulty missile system.
While the Naval Headquarters is all set for re-negotiation, chances are that India may get the three ships at a cost lower than the price agreed upon earlier.
It is understood that a Russian team will be arriving in New Delhi shortly to re-negotiate the deal, plagued by delays ever since the on-board Shtil-1 medium range surface-to-air missile failed. The missile, which has been developed by Russia, had a successful launch early last year but failed the next two tests during the acceptance trials.
An Indian Navy team, which was in Russia waiting for the handover, was called back by Naval Headquarters as they refused to accept the ship with the faulty missile on board.
Written into the contract is a clause that offers liquidity damages to India in the event of delivery delays by the ship-builders. Navy sources say that as per the contract a delay of five months would attract one per cent deduction in costs. In the event of the delivery being delayed by more than five months, it attracts a maximum of five per cent deduction from the original costs. A further delay calls for both sides to re-negotiate the deal.
The stealth ships, designed by the Severynyde Design Bureau, were being built by the Baltiisky Shipyard in St Petersburg. The Shtil-1 missile had been designed by the Altair State Research and Production Association. An inter-departmental commission was set up to investigate the test failures
Should India strike or not? A look at the best and worst of foreign media.
Vandita Mishra Indian Express 12 Apr 03
They took time out to worry about the wars fallout in the subcontinent. Just as Arab and European newspapers have constantly linked the war in Iraq to the Israel-Palestine conflict, observed the GUARDIAN, newspapers in India and Pakistan are drawing parallels with their own war over Kashmir.
It said that Yashwant Sinhas newspaper interview, in which he called Pakistan a fit case for an Iraq-style invasion, had ratcheted up the rhetoric.
THE NEW YORK TIMES conceded that the argument is seductive at first glance: if America can strike out at a suspected sponsor of terrorism and hugely destructive weapons thousands of miles away, why cant India hit out at one next door? With the massacre in Nadimarg last month, and with reports of militants in Pakistan readying to cross into India, the paper said that the pressure to act is growing again.
In deadly earnest, the NYT sketched the possibilities. It discussed the perils of military action for India: airstrikes or special forces operations against militant training camps would prompt new camps to come up; a bigger thrust into Pakistan could lead to a dangerous escalation or even a humiliating defeat.
All about an iconic image
In the western media, the fall of Baghdad will forever be framed by the image of Saddam Husseins 20-foot statue being brought down at Firdos Square. Most commentators echoed US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfelds enthusiasm. Who exclaimed: One cannot help but think of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain.
But a few maintained a healthy scepticism. In 1989, as the NYT pointed out, East Germans did not need help to break down their wall. When television showed Russians yanking down the bronze statue of Feliks Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police on August 22, 1991, there were no American T-88 tanks pulling the chains.
Also in the NYT, writer Solomon Volkov cautioned against the iconic image. Big symbolic gestures rarely live up to their promise, he said. In Germany, almost 14 years after the fall of the wall, economic and psychological divisions remain.
In Russia, amid nostalgia for the Soviet past, there is persistent talk that the toppled Dzerzhinsky should be resurrected. If this happened, wrote Volkov, one question would surely gnaw at him: is it possible that among those who restored the statue, there were also some who helped to bring it down?
On the other side of the picture
A different image captured Baghdads fall in the Arab media. This was an image of a US marine pulling an American flag over the head of Saddam Husseins statue like a gallows hood. A tableau of conquest, not liberation.
Should we laugh or cry today? asked GULF NEWS. Cry on seeing an Arab capital sway and fall without resistance live on air... Or laugh because an Arab country is eventually getting rid of the yoke and shackles of slavery by which a tyrant of this age fettered it...? In the same paper, fears that Washington will now turn the screws on other states it sees as a threat, beginning with Iran.
Debating UN role in post-war Iraq
FOR a brief moment, treacherous questions in the US media about what exactly would constitute final victory. The capture of Saddam? The location of the still-elusive Weapons of Mass Destruction?
But that moment has passed. Now theyre talking of the road map for reconstructing Iraq. Bush and Blair have reportedly agreed that the UN will play a vital role. How vital?
The conservative WEEKLY STANDARD poured scorn on what it saw as the attempt by non-combatants to wrest control of Iraq. This is an idea whose time has not come. A large post-war role for the United Nations may be the worst idea of the entire Iraq episode worse than the UN arms inspections regime doomed to failure from the start...
When newspaper scores over TV
P.S.: For William Powers in the ATLANTIC MONTHLY, the most surprising media truth to emerge from war news is that having 600-plus reporters cover the war inside deployed military units, plus hundreds running around the region on their own, can make the story harder to follow.
And that while TV coverage gives the media equivalent of jet lag, the simple, stodgy old newspaper format has taken on a new energy and sparkle, just for the way it organises all the war-news chaos, lending every story context, definition, and a place in the larger order of news
Insat-3A pushed in orbit
Express News Service Indian Express 11 Apr 03
Chennai, April 10: Indian Space Research Organisations multi-purpose satellite, INSAT-3A, was successfully placed in a Geosynchronise Transfer Orbit today.
The satellite was put in its intended orbit by Ariane-5, 30 minutes after blast-off from Kourou, French Guyana at 4.22 am. The Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka picked up the telemetry signal from the satellite at 4.52 am. The initial health checks indicated that its performance was normal, a press release from ISRO said.
The first operations were carried out by issuing commands from the MCF and the outer-most panel of the stowed solar array of INSAT-3A was oriented towards the sun to start generating the power required by the satellite.
It is being tracked, monitored and controlled from the MCF and it utilises INMARSAT organisations ground stations at Beijing, Fucino and Lake Cow Chan. This is the 160th flight of Ariane carrying the 2950-kg INSAT-3A.
Why India cannot afford a pre-emptive strike on Pak
Husain Haqqani Indian Express 10 Apr 03
The pre-emptive US war in Iraq is not yet over but its international fallout has already begun. A spat has started between India and Pakistan over whether the doctrine of pre-emption can be extended to South Asia.
First came the assertion by Indias Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha that India had a much better case to go for pre-emptive action against Pakistan than the US has in Iraq. As if to clarify that pre-emption is not a universal doctrine but merely a tool of policy available to the US, the Bush administration was quick to state that India must not use the pre-emptive war against Iraq as a pretext for an attack on Pakistan.
State Department spokeswoman Joanne Prokopowicz clarified, Any attempts to draw parallels between the Iraq and Kashmir situations are wrong and are overwhelmed by the differences between them. This led Sinha to imply that he was not talking so much about an Indian pre-emptive strike against Pakistan as suggesting that the US deal with Pakistan.
He said Pakistan was a fit case for US military action, because it had weapons of mass destruction and terrorists.
For its part, Pakistan dismissed the Indian suggestion, telling India to listen to the US and to examine its own violations of UN resolutions. India has breached UN Security Council resolutions, said the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman, referring to resolutions from 1948 to 1957 calling for a plebiscite among Kashmiris to choose accession to India or Pakistan.
Indian and Pakistani foreign offices routinely engage each other in wars of words and this could be a routine exchange, were it not for the major changes occurring in the global system. Until the US and Britain decided to launch their invasion of Iraq, the international system worked on the premise of national sovereignty.
Since World War II, punitive or enforcement military action has usually been sanctioned by the UN except when a great power veto forced the majority of nations to bypass the UN. In such cases, a defined cause for war existed or the existence of aggression and genocide necessitated it.
In Iraq, however, not only was the UN bypassed but the need for demonstrating an existing threat was also dispensed with. The US and Britain went to war to change a bad regime. Until now, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq though the Anglo-American forces claim to have virtually taken over the entire country. A precedent has been set for external military intervention for regime change, based on unproven or perceived threats.
But, as the State Department response to Sinhas first statement affirms, the US considers the doctrine of pre-emption exclusive to its status as a global hyperpower. India can try to please its own people or embarrass Pakistan in that segment of the global media that has time to pay attention to it. But it cannot realistically expect international support for a pre-emptive strike against Pakistan.
Americas ability to do as it pleased in Iraq was largely a function of the tremendous asymmetry in military power between the US and Iraq. Saddam Husseins rhetoric notwithstanding, Iraq never had a chance of fighting a US invasion. Irregular Iraqi forces can still make a prolonged occupation difficult but US technological superiority seems to have won the first phase.
In the case of India and Pakistan, the military asymmetry is nowhere comparable to that between the US-British forces and the Iraqis. Pakistan can fight India to a draw despite Indias military modernisation, even if one were to ignore the nuclear aspect. The UN and other international players did not have the opportunity to intervene against a US pre-emptive strike. But an Indian pre-emptive strike will most likely be subject to international condemnation and intervention.
The US can absorb the costs of war and reconstruction in Iraq. The Indian economy is in a take-off stage and is growing at a healthy rate. A simple cost-benefit analysis would make it obvious that it is not in Indias interest to jeopardise its overall stability and well-being to pursue a misadventure against Pakistan.
Sinhas statements should be seen not merely as threats but as part of Indias effort to continuously increase its international leverage. Pakistan can hold its own militarily against India but it does not like to have to stare down frequent US pressure. Since the Kargil war, Indias ability to secure international support has been its persistent advantage. From Indias point of view, General Pervez Musharrafs speech of January 12, 2002 outlining a vision of Pakistan without jehadi activism was a triumph of sorts. It amounted to an admission that the acceptable course for Pakistan was different than the one pursued in the past.
With each round of brinkmanship, India seeks more concessions and greater implementation along the lines of Musharrafs speech.
It would be a terrible mistake on the part of Indias leaders to consider extending the notion of pre-emption to South Asia without recognising the limits . The US would most likely be able to shrug off the embarrassment that might result if it is unable to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
But Indias prestige would take a major battering if it fails to find the terrorist camps that it claims to eliminate. And the US can pull out of Iraq, back to the security of its homeland, if popular resentment makes life difficult for its troops but India cannot move out of Pakistans neighbourhood in case of prolonged sub-conventional resistance.
Instead of continuing the game of brinkmanship that has characterised India-Pakistan relations over the last several years, it would make more sense for both to acknowledge what it is that bothers the other.
New Delhi is clearly frustrated by what it sees as Pakistans failure to deliver on promises such as those made by Musharraf soon after his policy speech of January 12 last year. Pakistan, on the other hand, refuses to be treated with contempt manifested in comparisons with much smaller and weaker military powers.
Both also see the Jammu and Kashmir issue from totally divergent perspectives. If the leadership in both countries was less obsessed with rhetoric, there could be scope for a comprehensive peace process addressing these issues.
The writer is a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He served as adviser to Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto and as Pakistans Ambassador to Sri
Another crash, more questions Ambala sqadron loses second upgraded MiG to technical fault
Saikat Datta Indian Express 08 Apr 03
New Delhi, April 7: The crash of a MiG-21 Bison in Ambala today has put a question mark on the IAFs ambitious upgradation programme for the fighter fleet. In the past six months, two upgraded MiG-21 Bison of the Ambala-based III squadron, a frontline operational squadron, have crashed, both apparently due to technical defects.
According to sources, the last MiG-21 Bison, which crashed last September 9, was due to a fault in the fuel pump supply, leading to an engine flame-out. The IAF had slated 125 aircraft for upgradation and it has already lost two in less than a year.
While the upgraded aircraft has better avionics, more pods to carry a greater range of weapons and boasts of a better radar, the engine and the airframe has remained the same.
In fact, it is the engine (R-25) which raised eyebrows when IAF started investigating the last crash. It is understood that the investigating authorities identified several causes lack of proper maintenance, suspect quality of fuel, storage conditions for the pump to choke.
Sources said that these issues had been highlighted to the Defence Minister George Fernandes and then Minister of State for Defence Production Harin Pathak, as well as senior officials of the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) which has been entrusted the upgradation programme.
Sources said that after the crash of the upgraded Bison last year, several measures were suggested including strict checks, fuel discipline and storage conditions. Incidentally, the upgraded MiG-21 has a black box which enables crash investigators to pinpoint the exact cause of a crash.
Investigators will now be poring over the data from the black box of the MiG-21 which crashed this morning. IAF sources say that prima facie investigators have ruled out a problem in the fuel pump and are looking into other causes.
They say the aircraft experienced trouble while taking off and could not gather the required thrust. We are looking at the parts and we should be able to ascertain the cause of this particular crash, said IAF sources
Pak nukes come under US scanner
Janes report reinforces Indias firm belief that US has put contingency plan in place
Shishir Gupta Indian Express 06 Apr 03
New Delhi, April 5: With the US imposing sanctions on Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) at Kahuta for export of nuclear technology, India has an added reason to believe that Islamabads nuclear programme is being closely monitored by Washington. The Indian security establishment is also pointing to the March 21 Janes Intelligence Digest report which says a US contingency plan has been put in place to neutralise the threat of Pakistani nuclear assets and technology falling into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. Headlined Musharraf in peril, the Janes report says its important for Washington to ensure that militant Islamic groups do not get access to Pakistans nuclear assets and technology. The fear is that a dirty bomb could be used to target America. Although India and US have not discussed Islamabads nuclear assets, New Delhi believes that Washington has a fair idea where a dozen Pakistani nuclear warheads are located. We have a firm impression that US is closely monitoring Pakistans nuclear arsenal, an official confirmed. In February, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri ruled out any scope for a joint US-Pak command and control system of Islamabads nuclear weapons. Our nuclear weapons are in completely safe hands and Pakistan has not transferred nuclear technology to any country, Kasuri said. But his predecessor Abdul Sattar had admitted that Islamabad had accepted a US offer to train Pakistani experts on security and protection of nuclear assets. Pakistani experts will be apprised of security measures being applied by the US, he said on November 1, 2001. New Delhi feels that though the US is monitoring Pakistans nuclear arsenal, it does not want to publicly embarrass Pervez Musharraf at a time when the Pakistan President is under attack from Islamic hardliners for keeping quiet on Iraq. This is evident from the obfuscation exercise launched by the US State Department on the Pakistan-North Korea nuclear nexus. The Departments claim that sanctions on KRL it calls it a commercial entity though its at the core of the Pakistani military establishment were for importation of missiles and related technology. But the US embassy spokeswoman statement in Islamabad on April 1 tells a different story. Embassy spokeswoman Linda Cheatham said that KRL made material contributions to another (read North Korea) countrys efforts to use, acquire, design, develop and/or secure weapons of mass destruction, and/or missiles capable of delivering weapons. The Federation of American Scientists describes KRL as Pakistans main nuclear weapons laboratory where uranium is enriched. While the State Department is coy about Pakistani nuclear proliferation, New Delhi knows that the clauses under which sanctions have been placed on KRL relate not to import but to export of sensitive technology. It believes that Pakistan supplied gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment to Pyongyang in return for Nodong (read Ghauri) missiles. But New Delhi does not want to raise the contentious issue as it believes that it will be seen through the prism of Indo-Pakistan relations. It wants Washington to tackle Pakistan on its own, aware that Islamabads nuclear programme is under the scanner.
MiG crashes into colony, 5 killed
Ramaninder K Bhatia Indian Express 5 Apr 03
Mullanpur-dakha (ludhiana), April 4: An IAF MiG-23 today crashed into a residential area some 10 km from Ludhiana, killing five persons and causing serious injuries to three others. Of the dead, four belonged to a family.
The pilot, Flt Lt B S Gill, ejected safely minutes before the aircraft crashed.
The IAF has ordered a Court of Inquiry. A senior official of the Western Air Command, Air Vice-Marshal Sudhir Shah, visited the site in the evening and met the pilot and survivors.
The incident occured around 10.15 am when the plane was on a routine sortie from the Halwara air base. But it apparently developed a snag, forcing the pilot to eject.
According to eyewitness reports, the casualty figures could have been higher had the aircraft hit a petrol pump situated a little distance from the spot. In fact, they say, the debris fell inside the complex, as the plane hit the rooftops of two houses and then a rented accommodation. Among those killed were a shopkeeper Raju, his wife Pammi, who was five months pregnant, and her 15-year-old nephew Sunny who had come visiting. Rajus mother, Bimla Devi, was rushed to the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) at Ludhiana in a serious condition where she succumbed to her injuries.
The fifth person to die was Gurpreet Singh, son of house owner Bhola Purshotam. Bhola, wife Kuldip Kaur and daughter Manjinder Kaur, who sustained multiple fractures in the skull and chest, are in a serious condition. Doctors say Manjinders recovery chances are slim.
The pilot has been admitted at the Air Force hospital in Halwara. He has minor injuries. Villagers in Sarabha, where the pilot bailed out, saw him land in the fields and brought him to Halwara.
In Mullanpur-Dakha, people launched rescue operations almost immediately, pulling out people from the debris even as the place was engulfed in flames. Besides Rajus family, there were two other families living as tenants in the house.
Jagdeep, a young lad, who was working in his fields in Jangpur, had seen the aircraft flying dangerously low and on fire. He reached the spot in no time and helped pull out members of the two families who had a miraculous escape.
Surinder Kaur was in the kitchen when the aircraft crashed. There was no noise at all. I only noticed the window panes shattering and the glass fragments flying all over the place. Then there was a loud noise, which was followed by thick black smoke and there were flames all around. I dont know what happened thereafter, she recalls. It took 12 fire-tenders from Ludhiana, Halwara and Jagraon almost two hours to bring the flames under control.
Calling it unfortunate, Vice-Marshall Shah said that incidents like these are rare since every pilot is trained to avoid populated areas. He added that the pilot, Flt Lt Gill, had told him that he had followed the set procedure. But in Punjab, there has been such an increase in the built-up area that there are hardly any vacant spaces left, he said.
According to a PTI report, the black box of the aircraft has been recovered and could provide clues to the probable cause of the crash, senior IAF officials said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has announced an ex gratia relief of Rs one lakh each to the next of kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 to the injured. The IAF would also provide Rs 40,000 to the kin of the dead and Rs 20,000 to the injured. District administration officials said that the injured would be treated free of cost at the DMCH in Ludhiana




posted by promila 9:25 AM

 
Army to use Doda reality TV in war against terror Indian Express 07 May 03
Doda, May 6: Years after the Army chose the Kalashnikov rifle in the war against terror in Jammu and Kashmir, it is now the local cable operators turn to pitch in.
Directions from Army headquarters to Rashtriya Rifles (RR) battalions manning the counter-insurgency grid is to rope in cable operators to drive home the message that taking up the gun does not pay. The proposed channel now plans to go where no official channel has gone.
Worried at the influence PTV wields, Army HQ is looking at some local flavour to ensure the message goes deep into Dodas homes. For a district that couldnt boast of continuous electricity supply, cable TV has been a relative newcomer.
Long after the cable revolution swept the metros, Doda has graduated to a bouquet of eight to 10 satellite channels. The fact that cable operators have begun hiking their rates is an indication that cable TV is popular in the district.
Observing this trend, the local Army formation headquarters suggested roping in local operators for some psy-ops (psychological operations), army lingo for propaganda. Soon, Army headquarters instructed RR battalions to film encounters, or scenes of militants surrendering and confessing to a hard life on the run on candid camera. Now RR battalion headquarters is looking for the right cable that can carry data into Dodas interiors.
Through local cable operators, the battalions will now relay video films into Doda homes depicting scenes that, army headquarter hopes, will choke further recruitment and undermine any support for Pakistan-based terrorists coming into the district from neighbouring Anantnag district.
In fact, handicams have become standard issue for battalions as they train their troops to make short digital films. As teams go on seek and destroy missions, a small film crew will come along to shoot and capture foreign terrorists on candid camera. This will help us convince people that this is not a legitimate war, says a senior officer. Given the fact that a similar radio programme had failed to make an impact a few years ago, it is now time for some home-grown reality TV to pull the plug on terrorism here

posted by promila 9:21 AM

 
India, China close to deal on Sikkim?
By C. Raja Mohan
NEW DELHI MAY 18. An early resolution of Sino-Indian differences on Sikkim could lend the much-needed political substance for the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee's long-awaited visit to China, sources here say.
A formal agreement between the two Governments on the dates for the proposed trip to Beijing in June is yet to be clinched. However, a decision on an early visit to China would have to be made, one way or another, by the time Mr. Vajpayee meets the Chinese President, Hu Jintao, in Europe next week.
By that time there will be a clearer sense in both the capitals about the state of the SARS epidemic, which has cast a shadow over Mr. Vajpayee's visit.
New Delhi and Beijing know that resolving the Sikkim question would open the doors for wide-ranging bilateral cooperation across the Himalayas, boost mutual political confidence, and alter the atmosphere for Mr. Vajpayee's visit, the first by an Indian Prime Minister to China in a decade.
The meeting between President Hu, representing the new generation of leadership in Beijing, and Mr. Vajpayee is likely to take place in St. Petersburg where the two leaders will attend the tri-centennial celebrations of the famed Russian city.
If the interaction between the two leaders cannot be organised for scheduling reasons in St. Petersburg, they would still have an opportunity to meet in France on the margins of the Group of Eight industrialised States and key leaders from the rest of the world.
It is believed that the two sides are engaged in intensive consultations on resolving the differences over Sikkim which joined the Indian Union in 1975. Beijing, which strongly condemned the move then, has been signalling since the late 1990s that it is ready to acknowledge Indian sovereignty over Sikkim.
But differences over semantics and other issues appear to have delayed the framing of the new understanding on Sikkim. When Jaswant Singh, then External Affairs Minister, visited Beijing in March 2002, the two sides had agreed to initiate formal talks on resolving an issue that relates to Indian territorial sovereignty.
The Chinese reluctance to recognise Sikkim as part of the Indian Union has reinforced widely prevalent skepticism about Beijing's political intentions towards New Delhi. Diplomatic observers here believe Sikkim is the easiest to sort out among the many difficult questions that bedevil Sino-Indian relations.
India used to have a consulate in Lhasa, Tibet, until the early 1960s and China had a commercial mission in Kalimpong in North Bengal. It is not clear at this stage whether a border trade agreement between Sikkim and Tibet would lead to restoration of these links.
Once the question of New Delhi's sovereignty over Sikkim is settled, the Government is prepared to open up border trade between the Indian State and China's Tibet. The historic silk road between Sikkim and Tibet at Natu La can be reopened for traffic to tourists, businessmen and pilgrims after nearly four decades.
As it seeks to rapidly develop Tibet and opens up the sensitive region to economic cooperation with its neighbourhood, Beijing is believed to be ready for a final settlement of the Sikkim question. But there is no attempt here to rush through an agreement on Sikkim merely to ensure a visit by Mr. Vajpayee to China in June.
Even if an understanding on Sikkim remains elusive for now, New Delhi might be prepared to stay with its current patient problem-solving approach towards Beijing.
Rapidly expanding annual bilateral trade, which has touched $ 5 billions recently, and the changed international and regional environment are creating the bases for a more positive approach in New Delhi and Beijing towards bilateral relations.
Besides Sikkim, agreements on a number of other issues are being readied for Mr. Vajpayee's visit to China. These include promotion of mutual economic investment and the opening of cultural centres in each other's capitals.
In an important gesture, China is believed to be considering the return of the prime real estate belonging to the Indian consulate in Shanghai that was confiscated during the tumultuous days of the Cultural Revolution.

posted by promila 9:18 AM


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