4 July 2013

Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft for the Indian Air Force

IssueVol. 28.2 Apr-Jun 2013| Date : 02 Jul , 2013


The IAF has decided that there is a pressing requirement to have a stealth fighter with multi-role capabilities in its inventory to cater for future threats. It is also evident that this technology cannot be wholly developed in house. For this reason as well as to reduce both costs and shrink the time frame from design to induction, some form of joint development is required. The best choice was with the Russian PAK-FA stealth fighter programme.

Indian Air Force Fighter Inventory

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is on a modernisation drive to replace the MiG-21 variants and the MiG-27s. The Su-30 MKI and the MiG-29 upgraded version are already in service with the Mirage 2000 fleet being upgraded. The long delayed Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is likely to join the fleet soon. Acquisition of 126 French Rafale fighters with 18 to be delivered directly from the manufacturer Dassault in a flyaway condition and the balance 108 to be built by the joint venture partner Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to meet the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) requirement is supposedly imminent, provided the usual wrangling over the final contract is sorted out.

The IAF does not have a combat aircraft with stealth and high speed in the non-afterburning capabilities…

The latest bone of contention is about who, between Dassault and the HAL, is to guarantee delivery schedules and product quality for the aircraft to be built in India. Force multipliers such the Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft based on the IL-76 platform (IL-76 A50 EI) and the Embraer 145, along with the IL-78 tanker aircraft have already been inducted and integrated. Negotiations for acquisition of six Airbus A-330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft are to begin in the near future.

Stealth Fighters

Going forward, the above acquisitions still leave a gap in the inventory. The IAF does not have a combat aircraft with stealth and capable of flying at high speed without the use of afterburners i.e. with super cruise capability. Such aircraft are needed to operate in dense air defence environments to achieve air dominance. The longer combat ranges, smart weapons, passive and active sensors and data-link capabilities of these aircraft are needed to counter airborne and surface-based Air Defence (AD) systems that are being fielded by India’s potential adversaries. Precision attacks on high-value ground targets defended by modern AD systems require stealth aircraft capable of sustained flight at high speeds and armed with stand-off long range weapons. Reconnaissance missions also require stealth aircraft.

LCA Tejas

The US has the F-22 air superiority fighter and the B2 bomber, both with stealth characteristics and already in service. Their ambitious F-35 multi-role stealth fighter programme seeks to deploy multi-role variants including the F-35A with conventional take-off and landing capabilities, the F-35B with short take-off and vertical landing capabilities and the F-35C for operation from aircraft carriers. All these aircraft have ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence capabilities with stealth features. The project has run into issues of cost overruns, sub-optimal performance in all roles and resultant delays. The Chinese have stealth fighters under development with the J-20 and the smaller J-31 being flight tested. Japan is developing the Mitsubishi ATX-D as a technology demonstrator, with the first flight planned for 2014. Russia is developing the PAK-FA with the T-50 prototypes already in the flight-test phase. All the above are single-seat, twin-engine aircraft. The forerunner of the USAF F-22, the F-117 Nighthawk, which is primarily a ground attack aircraft with stealth features, was used effectively in the Gulf War of 1991 to penetrate the very dense AD environment around Baghdad and also in the Balkans later, thus somewhat validating the stealth concept.

Only the US and Russia have the capability to develop such aircraft with associated weapons, sensors and engines…

It is evident that only the US and Russia have the capability to develop such aircraft with associated weapons, sensors and engines as of now with the Chinese certainly lagging behind especially as far as engine development is concerned. The Japanese venture is still in the concept stage.

FGFA for the IAF

The IAF has decided that there is a pressing requirement to have a stealth fighter with multi-role capabilities in its inventory to cater for future threats. It is also evident that this technology cannot be wholly developed in house. For this reason as well as to reduce cost and shrink time frame from design to induction, some form of joint development is required. The best choice was with the Russian PAK-FA stealth fighter programme.

Based on a requirement first formulated in the late 1980s to replace the MiG-29 and SU-27 in the Russian Air Force, the Sukhoi SU-47 and the Mikoyan Project 1.44 was mooted. In 2002, Sukhoi was chosen to lead the design team for this new fighter with stealth capabilities. The firms for the avionics suites and the engine design were nominated in 2003 with a consortium of various entities for the former and NPO Saturn for the latter. This aircraft was designated as a Fifth Generation Fighter and called the PAK-FA or the T-50.

Funding was a problem and it was evident then itself that while the Russian Air Force needed such an advanced fighter, foreign participation was necessary to finance the project and foreign orders essential to make costs of acquisition affordable to the Russian Air Force. Since collaboration with the US was most certainly ruled out and with European countries not likely at all for strategic and political reasons, the options were very limited since almost all other nations did not have the financial strength to contribute to the project or to join the project for developing such an aircraft from the inception stage. Once in production, some nations may buy the aircraft as has been the case with the SU-30 variants. In 2004 and in 2007, China was invited to join in the programme; but declined in favour of developing the J-20 and J-21 indigenously. Although there were expressions of interest from both sides, it was only in the late 2010 that the Indo-Russian joint venture began in earnest.

Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap 2013

July 2, 2013

The Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap (TPCR) released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and posted on its website late last month provides a glimpse of the technologies and capabilities that the armed forces would be looking for in the near future. This projection is based on the capabilities envisaged in the Long term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) 2012-27, which was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council in April 2012.

The objective of the TPCR is to give an opportunity to the Indian industry to draw up business plans for developing technologies which could be transformed into capabilities required by the armed forces. The MoD expects the industry to interact with it on a regular basis and strike a partnership for developing contemporary and future technologies and manufacturing the requisite equipment.

Development of superior, or even contemporary, technologies requires a massive thrust in research and development (R&D). The expectation of the ministry is that the R&D agencies in the public and the private sector would be able to work out a detailed plan to develop such technologies and also to fund such projects, by tapping all available national resources, including the civilian industry, government enterprises and the academia.

The chapter on technology requirements of the Indian armed forces lists more than twenty technologies, ranging from battlefield transparency to sensor fusion, apart from several technologies specific to aviation, land warfare and maritime domain. The chapter on capabilities follows the same pattern. It is mentioned in the concluding portion of the document that although the direction and pace of modernization plan as well as that of technology cannot be predicated accurately, what is contained in the document is a fair assessment of the direction most likely to be followed by the modernization programme of the armed forces.

This is a welcome development but it also raises a number of issues that could come in the way of achieving the underlying objective of the roadmap.

The first and the foremost question is whether the information disclosed in the document will serve the purpose of the industry. While it is for the industry to answer this question, the feeling that it may fall short of the industry’s expectations is inescapable. There are three reasons for this: the information, for most part, is too generic; there is no indication of the likely numbers/quantity; and, there is ambiguity about the time frame.

It is true that the specifics of the kind of equipment the armed forces would require in future can neither be firmed up so much in advance nor disclosed in great details. But the information contained in TPCR in many cases is far below the line that separates ambiguity and specificity. Here is an example.

Mini/Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and amphibious aircraft are listed as two separate items in the chapter on technologies required in future. In so far as the UAVs are concerned, TPCR says that these may be hand-launched with a weight of less than 30 Kg and a minimum endurance of 120 minutes. As regards the amphibious aircraft, TPCR says that these need to be developed for missions like intelligence gathering, search and rescue, logistics and communication duties in fleet support along with conventional aircraft carrier. The information in respect of UAVs is evidently more specific than the description of the amphibious aircraft. What might add to the discomfiture is that there is no certainty that the actual specifications would be formulated keeping in view the limitation of the technologies developed with reference to these generic descriptions in the TPCR.

The second reason why the information contained in the TPCR might fall short of the expectations is that there is no indication of numbers/quantity of the equipment. Here again, it has to be conceded that the numbers cannot be predicted too much in advance but it is equally true that in the absence of this information it might become difficult for the industry to determine the viability of technology development projects. Numbers are important. It might be viable to undertake a project for construction of just one aircraft carrier but a project for manufacture of even 40 aircraft may not be viable, unless there is assurance of a wider domestic and foreign market and there is some latitude in regard to the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). It is precisely because of this reason that some newspaper reports are forecasting the doom of the Avro-replacement programme in which 40 transport aircraft are required to be built in India after import of 16 aircraft in a fly-away condition.

The third reason which could undermine the utility of the TPCR for the industry is its open-ended timeframe. If it takes five years to develop/acquire some technology and to press it into production, it would make no business sense to undertake the project in the first, second or even third year of the 15-year period that the TPCR covers. This problem could possibly have been overcome by dividing the TPCR into three five-year segments, coinciding with the 12th to 14th Defence five-year plans and indicating in which segment requirement for a particular capability is more likely to arise.

It is also worth considering why the public version of the five-year plans and the Annual Acquisition Plans (AAPs), which are actually two-year roll-on plans, cannot be released. These would contain more specific information which could be taken into account by the industry for persisting with or existing from the projects undertaken based in the information given in the TPCR.

Fabrication of a Deadly Triangle: India, Pakistan and Afghanistan

IssueNet Edition| Date : 03 Jul , 2013

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting the President of Afghanistan, Mr. Hamid Karzai

With all the historian accolades to William Dalrymple, his Brookings Essay titled ‘A Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India’ insinuating that “The hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the current war in Afghanistan” not only is absurd in the extreme, it depicts convolutions of the typical scheming western mind intent upon obfuscating their own skullduggery.

This triangle is deadly because of the west propping up Pakistani Military-ISI (not Pakistani democracy) at the cost of India, supporting terrorism in the process in the faint hope Pakistan will stop subletting itself to China.

Being a credited historian of the AfPak-India region, it is no coincidence that in tracing India-Afghanistan relations, he overlooks the devious deceit of the British at Skardu during the Partition of India. Had this deliberate act not been done, India would be connected with Afghanistan through the Wakhan Corridor, which would have changed the geopolitics of the entire region for all times to come; India-Pakistan relations, India-Afghanistan relations, India-China relations, China-Pakistan relations included. Then, in all the history penned down of British India replete with fairy tale love affairs of the lordly British and local women there is no mention of extreme brutalization of the populations of both India and Pakistan (undivided India) by the British, at par if not more than the Moghuls. Of course, there is no mention of the systematic loot of the region either.

Now let us examine who is behind this deadly triangle and the current war in Afghanistan. To start with, William Dalrymple will find it very difficult to deny that all these years Britain has had no option but to quietly tag along like a pet on a leash behind the United States, whether it was ‘nuclear’ Iraq, invading Afghanistan or looking the other way in case of the terror factory, that is Pakistan. It is a well known fact that the US was behind raising the Frankenstein called Taliban, not that China was not arming them equally strongly against the Soviets. But it is also no secret that while invading Afghanistan, the US permitted Pakistani regulars (including military and ISI officers) disguised as Taliban and fighting against Northern Alliance to be air evacuated from Kunduz and Khost. Then was the façade of so called GWOT targeting Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda alone. But the sub-conventional defeated the US in Vietnam, the Soviets in Afghanistan and the US now again in Afghanistan, last one with Britain in tow. The fact that Afghanistan has been brutalized and will continue to be brutalized after US/NATO scoot is of little consequence for that has been the norm in Iraq, Libya, Syria and will be in Afghanistan, which Afghan scholars have no hesitation in saying is being sub-contracted to Pakistan, Pakistani proxies and US terror proxies, Taliban-Al Qaeda-Haqqanis included. So the bluff of blaming the situation on India-Pakistan relations in the ‘deadly triangle’, and the reason for the current situation in Afghanistan can hardly work.

This so called GWOT, with Britain in tow, looked only at AfPak not the AfPAK-India region as should have been. The fact that India was already being targeted by Pakistani proxies for over a decade plus, was totally disregarded. GWOT itself never targeted the mother of terrorism (Pakistan) beyond perfunctory predator attacks. All the millions of dollars of aid, that continues, hav never been linked to promotion of terror and radicalization. Organizations like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) was permitted to become an international level terrorist organization like Al Qaeda itself that led an anguished Ashley Tellis to say, “The only reasonable objective for the United States is the permanent evisceration of LeT and other vicious South Asian terrorist groups …. with Pakistani cooperation if possible, but without it if necessary“. But then does the US (and Britain) want these terrorist organizations to be eliminated in the first place? All the brutalizing of Afghanistan and thousands of US led coalition casualties apart, US and Britain casualties by themselves number 2,220 and 444 respectively. How many of these dead would you attribute to Al Qaeda, Haqqanis, Taliban, if not all? So, when you used Al Qaeda in Libya, are using them in Syria and prepare to handover Afghanistan (in part or full) to Al Qaeda-Haqqanis-Taliban, is this in honour of the sacrifices made by your soldiers? The exit itself is so hasty without letting the Aghan National Army stabilize and more importantly the yet to be elected new government to stabilize – designed prescription for chaos, mayhem and instability.

Turmoil in Islamic world

Sectarian rivalries to affect India too
by G. Parthasarathy

EXTERNAL Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid paid a visit to Iraq on June 19-21-- the first by an Indian Cabinet Minister in over two decades. While New Delhi had a friendly relationship with the minority Sunni-dominated Saddam Hussein dispensation, there were naturally some anxieties about how the new dispensation would react to overtures from India.

Mr. Khurshid was, however, very warmly received by the Iraqi government, which expressed warm feelings for India and readiness to expand cooperation in the energy sector, while recalling Iraq's old connections with India, in areas ranging from education to defence. The Iraqis are unhappy with the direct dealings of US oil companies with the minority Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq. Moving dexterously, China has emerged not only as the major buyer of Iraqi oil, but has also been awarded lucrative exploration rights.

Iraq, which has the second largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia, has set ambitious targets to increase its oil production from its present level of 2.6 million barrels per day (mbpd) to 9 mbpd by 2019. With Saudi Arabia producing oil to almost its full capacity, Iraq, with its huge surplus capacity, will be a crucial player in meeting future oil demands.

But Iraq is located in a dangerous neighbourhood, where old Arab-Israeli rivalries are giving way to a deadlier Shia-Sunni conflict, across the Muslim world, stretching from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the Maghreb. Under Saddam Hussein, sectarian differences were set aside, as Shia-dominated Iran and Iraq fought a bloody conflict. Today, Iran and Iraq collaborate closely, as they confront an alliance of Sunni-dominated Turkey, once the occupying power in the Arab world, which has joined hands with an alliance of Sunni Arab States, backed by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Government of President Morsi and the members of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council, led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Even in the Gulf, the Shia-Sunni sectarian divide in Bahrain pits the Shia majority population, backed by Iran, against the ruling Sunni monarchy backed by Saudi Arabia, with some assistance rendered by Pakistani mercenaries

The epicentre of this bloody sectarian conflict today is Syria, where the Sunni majority has, since the 1970s, been ruled by the secular and modern minded, but ruthlessly authoritarian Alawite (Shia) minority, with Kurds constituting a 10 per cent minority, at the receiving end of discriminatory treatment. Shia-Sunni rivalries exploded into a no-holds-barred conflict in April 2011, in which an estimated 100,000 people have since been killed.

Both Israel and the US have viewed the growing ties between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah militia with considerable concern. Iran has been providing arms and members of elite Revolutionary Guards to bolster the Syrian regime. Iraq is providing over-flight facilities to Iran and strengthening its border with Syria, to block the movement of al Qaeda-linked Sunni fighters endeavouring to reinforce the resistance to the Assad regime.

To add to Israel's discomfiture, Hezbollah, which is the only Arab force to have successfully resisted Israel's military might, has moved in significant numbers into Syria. In recent days, the Syrian regime and Hezbollah have scored notable successes in ousting the Sunni insurgents from urban centres like the city of Qusayr.

Externally, the US has been reluctant to get directly involved in Syria as it has seen how a military intervention without a clear political game plan can produce disastrous results like the Anglo-French misadventure in Libya. Even in Syria, the European meddling has been largely orchestrated by the Anglo-French duo, with Germany and others reluctantly expressing token support. While President Obama has agreed to provide some military support to the Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition (which has been recognised by the Gulf Arab States), military support is being provided to the "Free Syrian Army" which operates across the Turkey-Syria border, primarily by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Diplomatic efforts by the US to get the Security Council to condemn the Syrian regime and call for its ouster have been thwarted by Russia, discreetly backed by China, which simultaneously makes some noises about the need for political change, to ensure that it does not earn the wrath of Saudi Arabia and its allies. Russia, with a naval base in Syria, appears determined to ensure that it remains a player in developments in West Asia and to back a traditional ally. It also has concerns about the impact of growing Salafi fundamentalism in Chechnya and its other Caucasian Republics.

The Syrian sectarian conflict seems to be heading towards a messy stalemate. While Israel has bombed supplies of Russian missiles being transported to Hezbollah through Syria, even Israel, like the US, cannot be comfortable with the armed insurgency in Syria being taken over by al Qaeda-linked Salafi-oriented fighters. The real challenge that the US faces is the prospect of the armed insurrection falling into the hands of the rabidly fundamentalist "Al Nusra Front," made up of six to ten thousand foreign fighters from Libya, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Palestine, Kuwait, Chechnya and Bosnia.

The Syrian conflict thus appears headed for a stalemate unless all parties display a sense of realism and statesmanship. Such a stalemate could involve a de facto partition of Syria, with the Alawite Shias controlling the coastal areas and Northern Syria coming under Kurdish control. This will be akin to the situation in Iraq, which is being torn apart by rivalries between Arab Sunnis and Shias, while the Kurds seek and assert greater self-rule.

Ever since the Iranian Revolution and the emergence of Salafi-oriented, Saudi-backed armed groups in Pakistan, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan has been torn apart by continuing violence against its estimated 20 per cent Shia minority. Even moderate Bareilvi Sunnis have been targeted by these extremist groups. In Afghanistan, Taliban rule resulted in a bloodbath of Shia Hazaras bordering Iran, provoking a warning of intervention by Iran, whose diplomats were massacred in Mazar-e-Sharif, by the Taliban.

Where dam is money, and rest be damned

Thursday, 04 July 2013 | Claude Arpi

Ask policy planners in Uttarakhand the need for so many dams to be constructed in the State, and they will tell you the structures are necessary for power generation and prosperity. But the policy has backfired terribly

This March, I had the occasion to visit Srinagar, Garhwal. There I witnessed some of the immediate consequences of building cascades of dams for the pecuniary benefits of the State (read, local officials). When I argued, “Why were there so many dams? I was told that, if the Union Government does not go for dams and generate power, it would have to annually release Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 15,000 crore as Central assistance. The Union Government wants power and the State, hard cash; dams bring a win-win situation. But what about the rivers which, at some places, have started disappearing?

Projects currently underway were supposed to increase the hydro-power capacity of the State to 12,235MW. A total of 95 hydro-power projects were being built or planned on different rivers converging in the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi basin of Uttarakhand. Nobody really cared if environmentalists like former IIT professor GD Agrawal or before him Sunderlal Bahuguna were opposing the wild contagion of concrete infrastructures. They were labeled ‘anti-development’; ‘development’ being the new god of the Himalayas.

It is not that the officials were unaware that since 2005, when Tehri dam’s reservoir filled up, the flow of the Bhagirathi had reduced drastically. I then wrote a note: “When there will no more rivers to worship, no more jobs for the local population, people will have to migrate to the cities.” My friend Michel Danino’s book, The Lost River: On the Trail of the Sarasvati, is a mind-opener on the fate of the mythic Saraswati river. Taking into account the latest research in fields as different as satellite imagery, archeology, linguistics, paleontology or mythology, Danino has explained: “The Indian subcontinent was the scene of dramatic upheavals a few thousand years ago. The Northwest region entered an arid phase, and erosion coupled with tectonic events played havoc with river course. One of them (the Sarasvati) disappeared.” Now, humanity has progressed; it can build its own tectonic events!

After the June 16 torrential rains, we have not lost rivers (though the course of some have changed), but in several cases the wild construction of dams has triggered much more destruction, increasing the misery of the locals. A few days after the downpour, The Hindu reported: “The national highway between Dehradun and Srinagar [Garhwal] is currently broken at Byasi and Devprayag, with silt measuring upto 10 ft covering an enormous area, in Uttarakhand’s Pauri district. According to the residents of Shakti Vihar, an area in Srinagar, this disaster occurred on June 17 at around 3am when the Srinagar dam authorities lifted the dam gates.” A resident told the newspaper: “The rainfall on June 16 was so much that the water reached up to our knees, and to add to it, the dam authorities released water without a prior warning.” Did they panic? Enquiries, if any, will tell us. The water from upstream swept the debris lying around the dam construction site and deposited a huge amount of silt tens of kilometers downstream. The water level was three to four metres higher than any previous floods.

The question asked by each commentator was: Was it predictable? In 2009, after studying the hydro-electric projects in Uttarakhand, a State Audit of the Comptroller and Auditor-General explained: “With the creation of Uttarakhand in November 2000, its hydro-power potential was recognised as key to the development of the State. The Government chalked out an ambitious plan to harness its hydro-power potential through the concerted efforts of both the State and the private sector.” A State policy was formulated in October 2002; with the dams, the needs of the State but also those of the ‘starved northern grid’ could be taken care of. According to the CAG report, most of the projects faced problems associated with land acquisition, forest clearances and enhancement in project capacities. But did anybody read the report? Certainly not the planners and their contractors — they were too busy making money. Indeed, ‘dam is money’, whether in Uttarakhand, in Sikkim or in Arunachal Pradesh.

The CAG had warned: “The State’s policy on hydro-power projects was silent on the vital issue of maintaining downstream flow in the diversion reach, …physical verification of four out of five operational projects, showed that river-beds downstream had almost completely dried up.” A new Saraswati in the making! The Auditors also remarked: “Negligence of environmental concerns was obvious as the muck generated from excavation and construction activities, was being openly dumped into the rivers contributing to increase in the turbidity of water.” It has now happened on a large scale after the June 16 and 17 torrential rains.

Despite a tumbling currency, India’s economy has got more stable in the past year. But a revival in growth remains elusive

India’s economy
Start me up
Jun 29th 2013 | MUMBAI |From the print edition

INDIA’S richest man may also be its most optimistic. On June 6th Mukesh Ambani, the boss of Reliance Industries, addressed an auditorium in Mumbai watched by his glamorous wife in the front row and bodyguards with oiled submachine guns in the wings. India’s economy, he said, was in a funk but his faith was “unshakable”. Soon the country would “trigger a major transformation of the world order”. The audience rose in delight.

Such bullish talk is rare these days. It is a year since markets got jittery about the risk of an economic crisis in India and nine months since the government responded with reforms meant to kick-start growth. Officials, business folk and economists hunting for signs of life have been disappointed. Asia’s third-largest economy expanded by 5% in the year to March, a decadal low and far shy of the 8% its leaders still claim is its potential growth rate.

The prospects of a revival have only been complicated by the possible winding down of quantitative easing (QE) in America. India has been a voracious consumer of the hot money that has sloshed around the world in recent years, using it to plug its balance-of-payments gap. On June 26th the rupee hit a record low of 61 per dollar (see chart 1). It has been the weakest emerging-market currency in the past month. Credit-default swaps on State Bank of India, a proxy for the riskiness of India’s government debt, have risen towards the levels of a year ago. India is the riskiest big emerging economy on this measure. Indian officials have been wheeled out to utter the dreaded words: “Don’t panic.”

Rupeeasy does it

Are the officials right? An apocalyptic scenario is that equity investors and multinational firms head for the exit. They form the vast bulk of the stock of foreign capital in India. This is unlikely. India is still growing faster than most countries and plenty of outsiders remain beguiled. In April Unilever offered $5 billion to buy out minority shareholders in its Indian unit. Net outflows of equity investments have been small so far.

Foreign bondholders are far less loyal. They have withdrawn $6.5 billion since mid-May. But the stock of external debt is a lowish 21% of GDP. Providing existing equity investors and multinationals stay put, India can probably handle a debt-buyers’ strike. Foreign reserves are 1.6 times likely financing requirements in the next year (defined as the current-account deficit plus short-term debt).

And although the world has got less forgiving as the end of QE looms, India’s stability has improved in some ways since last year. The government’s one unambiguous success is the public finances. Borrowing is still high but under Palaniappan Chidambaram, the finance minister since last August, it is no longer reckless. Control of spending and cuts in subsidies of fuel should mean the overall deficit in the year to March 2014 is 7% of GDP, according to Chetan Ahya of Morgan Stanley. For a while a deficit of 10% seemed possible. At this lower level India’s ratio of debt to GDP should be stable.

With an election due by May 2014, there will be pressure to boost spending. A proposed policy to give more food to the poor could add 0.2 of a percentage point to the deficit, analysts reckon. Still, the hope is Mr Chidambaram will see off his wilder colleagues. When other ministers float populist policies that would “devastate the economy”, Mr Chidambaram “says unpleasant things”, in order to shoot them down, according to Prithviraj Chavan, an ex-minister who now runs Maharashtra, a big western state.

Inflation also looks less scary, largely due to easing commodity prices. Wholesale prices rose by 4.7% in May year on year, about half the rate at the peak. Consumer-price inflation, at 9.3%, remains more stubborn, as do Indians’ expectations of inflation. But both are moderating.

A rout is unlikely, then. The one-quarter decline in the rupee since 2011 may eventually help boost India’s competitiveness and spark a long-awaited boom in Indian manufacturing that makes Godot seem punctual. This is probably the view of India’s central bank, which has not intervened much to support the currency.

Nation needs to undertsand Ethos of Forces: Uttarakhand Disaster- A Test Case

The devastation in Uttarakhand because of cloudbursts that occurred on 15th /16th June and heavy rainfall thereafter is unprecedented. Until June 27, rainfall was nearly 3.9 times more than the average monthly rainfall of 328 mm for June, leaving a heavy trail of death, destruction and devastation in its wake. While official sources give figures of under one thousand dead and around two thousand five hundred missing, the toll, as per conservative estimates, is likely to exceed five thousand. The devastation saw 154 bridges and 1520 km of road destroyed and upwards of 2232 houses wrecked. Over one hundred thousand pilgrims found themselves trapped as the Army moved in to rescue the stranded.

The Army’s Area Headquarter, located at Bareilly reacted before even being asked to do so. Commanded by a three star General Officer, it mobilised on 17th June and relocated to Dehradun from where it started functioning early next day. Simultaneously, it passed orders to its units to relocate immediately for rescue missions. The units responded with typical military precision and alacrity, underlying in the process the true nature of military leadership, which leads from the front. As an example, on the 17th itself, after an aerial reconnaissance, a unit was ordered to move to Kedarnath, establish its command post there and report readiness to the Area Commander. This occurred at a time when the civil administration was not even fully aware of the scale of devastation. The commanding officer moved forthwith, reaching Kedarnath with his unit and reported readiness by the 18th complete with command and control elements to the Area Commander. The Commanding Officer was the first to reach Kedarnath. Paradoxically, at this time, his counterparts in the civil administration were being evacuated! 

The message from military commanders was clear. At a critical time, four flag officers were available at dangerous places in the mountains of Garhwal where civil administration had ceased to exist. This helped greatly in the subsequent rescue missions with decision makers available on the spot. The Commander-in-Chief of the Central Army also provided a sterling example of frontline leadership, when on 26 June he walked with the stranded passengers, leading them to safety. How many leaders walk their talk? 

The Army’s reaction was quick and efficient. While exact figures are not available due to security reasons, estimates suggest initial deployment of 5000 or more troops. Thereafter, based on requirement the strength went up to around 8000 to 8500 troops. With more assistance sought in the form of support for engineering tasks, such as, construction of bridges and repair to roads the strength will only go up. The Air Force and Army Aviation contributed nearly 40 helicopters, civil aviation nearly a dozen or fewer helicopters. The ITBP initially contributed a battalion, building this up later to two battalions. This may further increase by another battalion for force strength of over two thousand personnel. The NDMA contributed around 300 personnel in the initial days of the rescue and now its strength stands further increased. The tragedy has shown up the top-heavy nature of the NDMA, overstaffed with high-ranking officials sitting in Delhi, but woefully short of functional elements at the ground level. That the Army moved in as first respondents instead of the NDMA tells its own tale.

The Indian state deploys the Forces whenever the chips are down. The forces too deliver, but whereas, the forces understand the concept of civilian supremacy the Indian state has paid scant attention to understanding the ethos of the Forces. This ethos - of Service before Self, leadership from the front, mission accomplishment at all costs, and transparency in all its dealings have been under acute national media scrutiny. Continuous live media coverage by the print and visual media has brought home to the Indian public both the unfolding tragedy and the role the Armed Forces are playing in its mitigation. Not a blemish has come on the Forces, which speaks volumes of their ethos. This factor is little understood, as the Services shy away from presenting their achievements. For them, mission accomplishment remains the single greatest aim and not its publication. This has led to a wide gap and the soldiers’ ethos of a three hundred old organisation is brushed under the carpet of babudom. In 2012, a large number of us retired veterans took part in a seminar organised by Uttarakhand Sub Area Head Quarters on the role of the Army in the floods of 2011. It seems the civil administration learnt no lessons. It slept over the findings of the seminar and today relies solely on the Army and the Central Police Forces such as ITBP for disaster management as that is the ground reality so visible today.

The Last Thunder?

Uddipan Mukherjee

“Dandakaranya is huge. The undivided Bastar district alone was larger than the state of Kerala. The railway line connecting Delhi to Hyderabad borders Dandakaranya on the west, while the sea, near Vishakhapatnam, flanks it on the east. The railway line connecting Kolkata and Mumbai near Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh marks out its border in the north.”

How apt was Sonu – one of the protagonists of erstwhile BBC journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary’s composition Let’s Call Him Vasu. The very idea of creating today’s dreaded guerrilla zone at Dandakaranya was of Kondapalli Sitaramaiyyah’s, then leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War. And as Choudhary describes the geography of 1,00,000 square kilometre ‘sprawl of trees, hills and treacherous paths……’, one is forced to acknowledge the hazardous terrain which so readily traps India’s security forces and of late, peaceful political marches. Ambushes are the order of the day – in fact, for days.
However, the stealthy attack on the Parivartan Yatra of the Indian National Congress on 25 May was not only the most impactful in 2013 – probably it was the most high profile targeted attack after the assassination bids on erstwhile Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. And as STRATFOR’s Scott Stewart had suggested in their security weekly a couple of years back in June 2011 that “if an assailant has a protectee's schedule, it not only helps in planning an attack but it also greatly reduces the need of the assailant to conduct surveillance -- and potentially expose himself to detection”, such an intelligence malfunction and information leakage turned out to be the two most decisive factors at Darbha Ghati, Jeeram Valley – again in Bastar !

On that Day

27 people, including Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nandkumar Patel, his son Dinesh and anti-Maoist vigilante group leader Mahendra Karma, among others were brutally butchered. Veteran leader and former Union minister V C Shukla was badly injured and later on succumbed to the injuries. Over 30 rank and file of the Congress party had to fall prey to the carefully orchestrated ambush of the Communist Party of India – Maoist (CPI-M), for which the left ultras, later asked an apology in their official proclamation – too late, too little though.

The Darbha Ghati incident was neither the first of its kind, nor will be the last. The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have had to face brutal onslaughts and invariably taken unawares on many occasions – not always in the labyrinthine topography of Chhattisgarh, but at times in Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal – though terrain was almost always the slippery area. Not only that, lack of ground intelligence and exposing their own selves to the guerrillas in the search operations against the Maoists had been lethal to the security personnel – let’s take the planting of IEDs inside the dead bodies of CAPF jawans in Latehar in January 2013 or may we just remember the April 2010 Dantewada massacre of 75 CAPF jawans. Or, for that matter, why fail to recollect the annihilation of 11 CAPF men at Lohardaga in Jharkhand in May 2011.

Nevertheless, the Darbha Ghati event shook many structures – especially the corridors of authority – and the resultant is that two independent probes are on – one by a sitting judge of Chhattisgarh High Court, Justice Prashant Mishra and the other by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). A natural knee-jerk reaction could have been to send ‘more CAPF forces’ against the rebels – however, even though in a phase-wise manner the number of battalions need to be increased in Ground Zero – but that’s not the panacea for this woe.

Ganapathy, the General Secretary of the CPI-M, still has dreams of a Red Flag at the Red Fort. Or may be, since he knows that those are dreams to be seen during the day, he needs to pull off something extravagant from time to time in order to maintain the espirit de corpsof his guerrillas and sometimes, to buttress his own dreams. The Darbha Ghati mayhem needs to be viewed in that context. Apart from the obvious negatives, the positives that could be taken out of the gory bloodletting on 25 May would be the analytic that CPI-M was definitely and still is under pressure – with its top brass either incarcerated or eliminated. Its wings and branches had been pruned in Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal. In fact, after the era of Mallojula Koteswara Rao alias Kishenji, West Bengal’s Jangalmahalregion has had a long bout of serenity and silence. In such a backdrop, it may not be naïve to surmise that 25 May was an ‘act of desperation’ by the Maoists. However, in no way, we can infer that the Maoists are in their last stage or they could be eradicated easily now.

However, it is probably hard to deny that Ganapathy and his party were hard pressed from all directions and they ‘had’ to prove their existence somehow. 

And nothing could have been bigger than Darbha – where their age-old animosity against Mahendra Karma was brought to an illogical fructification. Desperation manifested in diabolism when the demise of the octogenarian politician V C Shukla was justified by the spokesperson of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee, Gudsa Usendi, on 11 June 2013. In their ‘press release’, the Maoists have attempted to paint their devilish actions with the colours of exploitation and deprivation – a bogey with which they have consistently tried to coerce the tribal people join their military dalams.

Eradication or Negotiation?

A baffling situation no doubt, and the Indian policy makers have embarked on a two-pronged strategy to deal with the insurgency. The general principle works on the security-cum-development model. First, ‘clear’ the affected area and then ‘hold’ onto it and pump in the development as fast as practicable – or may be, faster than normal bureaucratic processes function.

As former Director General of the Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF), K Vijay Kumar told at the Idea Exchange event hosted by Indian Express in January 2012:

"Indian insurgencies need to be fought with security and development."

Taking the example of the anti-Maoist operation in Saranda forests of Jharkhand's West Singhbhum district, he also said in the same forum that “the security forces had pushed the door figuratively, by going in first. This had to be followed by immediate development in the region from the government.”

Past errors needn’t be repeated

Thursday, 04 July 2013 | Pravin Sawhney

It’s not that India does not have any leverage to push China for an early resolution of the border dispute. New Delhi can pressure Beijing by doing a lot on Tibet without breaching any agreement with China, and ramp up regional cooperation with other nations

It is difficult to say whether it is ignorance or obfuscation. Probably it is a bit of both when, at the conclusion of the recent 16th round of Special Representatives talks in Beijing, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon told the media that the bilateral 1993 and 1996 agreements with China have helped keep peace on the disputed border. He also said that the April 13 intrusions by Chinese border guards deep inside India’s northern Ladakh remain unexplained. Neither China deemed it appropriate to inform Mr Menon why it transgressed Indian land, nor was it asked to do so. The Indian interlocutors, it seemed, were anxious to forget the national embarrassment, unmindful of its security implications.

The April intrusions were the consequence of the ill-conceived agreements. And, the intrusions established the credibility of Chinese coercive diplomacy, something that should worry India. Interestingly, China tested coercive diplomacy in the Ladakh sector where, unlike the eastern sector, the Indian Army had given a good account of itself in the 1962 war. Thus, more than the military, the political leadership should wake up to these harsh truths.

Three issues which have worked to India’s disadvantage in the 1993 Border Peace and Tranquillity Agreement are: Re-naming the entire disputed border as the Line of Actual Control, the sector-by-sector approach for defining the LAC, and the concept of ‘mutual and equal security’.

Considering that the disputed border is neither agreed to on the maps nor on the ground, it was easy for China to publicly declare at an appropriate time in December 2010 that it has a mere 2,000km border with India; with none in Jammu & Kashmir. This is half of 4,000km length that India wants its people to believe. The implication is that the border row cannot be resolved; China will not change its stated position, and India cannot trade so much land for peace.

The only mutual doable now is to define and keep the Line of Actual Control peaceful. India should have insisted on defining the LAC as a whole. A sector-by-sector approach accepted in the 1993 BPTA makes little military sense for India. From India’s perspective, the western sector (J&K) of the LAC is the responsibility of its Northern and Western Army commands; the middle sector (Uttarakhand-Himachal) is with the Central Army command, and the eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh) is the responsibility of the Eastern Army command. The middle sector, which was least problematic, was mutually agreed upon and maps were exchanged in November 2000, but with little progress on the other two sensitive sectors. Now, how can the Central Army theatre commander, whose sector has been settled, pull his troops back when he knows that his adjoining areas are disputed? In military parlance, a theatre commander has to worry about both his sector, called his area of responsibility, and his adjoining sectors, referred to as his areas of interest. In short, the resolution of the middle sector has not helped the military, which continues to guard the entire LAC lest it be altered by force. The Chinese on the other hand have a single theatre called the Tibetan Autonomous Region, facing India. So, while China can claim progress on defining the LAC, in reality it does not help India.

Another unfortunate example of Indian Foreign Service mandarins making border agreements without military advice is the principle of ‘mutual and equal security’ mentioned in Article 1 of the 1993 BPTA. The impressive infrastructure in TAR and the formidable Chinese airlift capabilities makes the principle of ‘mutual and equal security’ meaningless for India which has neither capability. Moreover, unlike India, the Chinese do not require acclimatisation of troops in TAR. For these reasons, Chinese troops are far in depth with their border guards manning the LAC, as against the Indian Army holding ground close to the LAC. Thus, even if the LAC is settled in entirety, the Indian Army will find it difficult to reduce substantial troops until the LAC is accepted as the border.

The Chinese cleverly re-enforced the principle of ‘mutual and equal security’ in the 1996 agreement which deals with military confidence-building measures by having minimal troops and equipment close to the LAC. This now makes the border defence cooperation agreement — which is legally strengthened by the 1993 and 1996 agreements — suggested by China in March this year difficult for India to accept. Here is the Catch-22 situation confronting India: Accepting reduction of troops close to the LAC as spelt in the BDCA will lower Indian Army’s morale which has assessed that an additional strike corps is necessary to defend Arunachal Pradesh. Rejecting or seeking to dilute the BDCA will negate the agreed principle of ‘mutual and equal security’ and strengthen Chinese use of coercive diplomacy in the future.

Remembering a chief

by Lieut Gen Baljit Singh (retd)

HE would be one hundred today but when King George VI pinned the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) Medal "for conspicuous gallantry……." at the Buckingham Palace, the recipient had barely stepped past his thirty-third year. As he saluted the King, turned about and stepped out in the Parade-Ground posture, the guests inside the Investiture Hall broke into a thunderous applause. The essence of the DSO citation was focussed on a pitched battle fought South of Bir Hachiem (today's Libya) in early 1942, where the 3 Indian Motor Brigade with just 28 Field guns but not a single tank, were deployed to face over 300 tanks and 150 Field guns of Rommel's Afrika Korps. Once the battle was joined it was over in less than two hours, the Germans losing 84 tanks of which 56 fell to our Field guns. One German tank was just 30 m when hit by No 3 Gun of 07 Field Battery where the Battery Commander stood erect and fully exposed, motivating his gun detachments! Two days later, the Battery Commander along with a dozen survivors would return to the devastated gun area and retrieve 16 of their 28 guns! However, a month later on a deep penetration mission, he was taken prisoner.

But what followed the investiture was one episode which must be recounted and recorded lest it should be lost to posterity. That gallant Major was among the first to leave the Palace and he headed for London's premier perfumery, on the Reagent Street, to purchase a gift for his fiancé. When he came out and walked to his car, he was confronted by a policeman for a car-parking infringement. The Bobby enquired: "Is this your car"? The Major nodded and the policeman demanded "May I have your name". In his typical, unhurried drawl and perhaps with a tinge of mischief, the Indian stated "Paramashiva Prabhakaran Kumaramangalam" to which the flustered Bobby responded "I ain't going to write all that for a mere 10 Shilling fine. Don't do it again, sir."

Following German capitulation in May, 1945, Kay disembarked at Bombay in August, 1945 and he was greeted by a hoarding announcing the Mahalaxmi Race Course Season. Horses were Kay's first love, so he looked for lodgings but finding none, he luckily met an old acquaintance who took him to his friend Bharucha who had a sprawling bungalow, overlooking Mahalaxmi Course. The Bharucha household took to Kay with tender warmth and Kay's personal life was to change forever. Piloo, the Bharucha's eldest daughter, educated in England and an accomplished horse-woman, was also the most eligible spinster of Bombay. No sooner did Kay and Piloo set eyes upon each other than they were to "remain as one till death do us part". So never mind a car parking violation, Kay must buy the best in perfume for Piloo!

All POW camp repatriates were given six months leave to reunite with their families. Kay was by nature very reclusive and he was particularly tongue tied in the presence of women. Yet paradoxically, he simply could not bear the thought of separation from Piloo. So after the briefest of visits to his parents, near Bangalore, Kay returned to the Bharuchas at Bombay. However, he was soon posted to an Air Defence Regiment at Quetta. No one knows whether they were formerly engaged but we do know that Mr Bharucha not only ensured secure lodgings for Piloo at Quetta but also four horses and staff. So Kay and Piloo were on horse-back daily. Unfortunately, the interlude was too short-lived because the Army Headquarters had bigger things in store for Kay. They detailed him on a year-long Advance Gunnery Course at Fort Sill, USA. About a month after the start of the course, Piloo reached the USA and a month later they entered into a court marriage, solemnized at the Indian Embassy, Washington! When Kay returned, he was promoted a Brigadier, appointed the first Indian Commandant of the School of Artillery, Deolali. Henceforth, they would move from one to the next Flag Staff, with a string of noisy and sleek, black and tan Dachshunds, ending their Army journey at the Army House, New Delhi in June, 1966.

They chose to spend their last two days in Army service at the Defence Services Staff Collage, Wellington. As may be imagined, they rode after hounds on the Ooty Downs and spent the evening at the Ooty Gymkhana Races. Kay jockeyed in the last race!


The prime minister’s speech at the foundation laying ceremony of the Indian National Defence University was a landmark, writes Brijesh D. Jayal

The date, May 23, 2013, may well go down in the history of the Indian republic as a day when the first rays of a new dawn began to shed light on the culture of barren strategic thought within the national security establishment. On this day, the prime minister of India laid the foundation stone for the proposed Indian National Defence University at a two-hundred-acre site in Binola village, on the outskirts of the national capital. The idea of the university is one that had been hanging fire for four decades, then given a push after the Kargil Review Committee’s recommendations and finally given conceptual shape by a committee chosen and guided by Arun Singh, a strategic mind rarely associated with the political corridors of South Block. The committee, chaired by noted strategist, K. Subrahmanyam, submitted its report to the defence minister in 2001.

As if to mock the indifference with which the Indian electronic media treated this historic event, on this very day, the president of the United States of America was making the first major counter-terrorism address of his new term in office, laying down new policy guidelines. The forum he chose was none other than the US National Defence University at Fort McNair, Washington, from where presidents have enunciated important national security policy objectives in the past. The difference in the approach to strategic security between what is arguably the oldest, and the largest democracies in the world — which consider themselves to be natural allies — could not have been starker.

The Economist, in a recent article titled “India as a great power: Know your own strength”, highlighted the fact that on gaining independence, the Indian political elite, which had a strong pacifist bent, was determined to keep the generals in their place and succeeded in doing so. The cost of this success was that India exhibited a striking lack of what might be called a strategic culture and its political class showed little signs of knowing or caring about how the country’s military clout should be deployed. According to the article, this, along with the distrust between civilian-run ministries and the armed forces, had also undermined military effectiveness by contributing to a procurement system that was dysfunctional.

It was the late George K. Tanham, a strategic analyst, who, after a comprehensive study — which included numerous interviews with Indian thinkers, policymakers and those in the armed forces — produced a monograph, “Indian Strategic Thought: An Interpretive essay”. This US government-funded research project was published by the internationally respected US think tank, Rand Corporation, in 1992. Tanham’s broad conclusion that India always suffered and continues to suffer from a lack of strategic thinking drew the attention of many strategic writers nationally and internationally and elicited considerable debate at that time. But the cocooned Indian security establishment was not listening.

In this sombre background, the message emanating from Binola must gladden the hearts of a small tribe of students of national security, whose future otherwise was destined to follow that of the vanishing Indian tiger. During the foundation laying ceremony, Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, the current chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, said that there is a need to cultivate and develop a select cadre of policy advisors and politico-military thinkers, who, through their operational experience, academic record and application of domain knowledge, can conceptualize and formulate national strategy as well as provide critical analysis in areas of joint responses to varied security threats.

TREAD SOFTLY- There can be India-China ties without cutting off other nations

Kanwal Sibal
India-China border, Nathula Pass

India will have to manage its relationships with China and Japan with greater finesse. China constitutes by far our most difficult diplomatic challenge as its rise impacts us directly in view of its territorial claims on us, the unsettled Tibetan situation, the potential impact of China’s upstream river projects, its “more precious than gold” relationship with “iron brother” Pakistan, its strategic penetration in other neighbouring countries as well as in the Indian Ocean. The imbalance in our bilateral trade ties is also becoming unsustainable.

Chinese power is challenging us in Central Asia, the Gulf and Africa, aided by its much larger financial reservoir which it uses for gaining access to energy and mineral resources for its future growth under State direction that India cannot equal. The India-China equation is getting progressively tilted in China’s favour globally. Politically, this draws countries of interest to us into the Chinese orbit; economically, it affects the direction of international trade and investment flows in Asia to our disadvantage.

Yet, we reach out to China as if it is a partner-in-waiting and project congruence of interests bilaterally and multilaterally even where they are in conflict. There is a palpable disconnect between how we see China in private and how we treat it in public.

We justified our nuclear tests in 1998 because of the China threat. Subsequently, we gave China satisfaction by declaring that we did not view it either as a threat or an adversary. We have established a strategic partnership with China even when it has long countered us strategically. We say glibly that China is not a competitor and that the world is big enough to accommodate the rise of both countries. On the heels of the Ladakh incident we have affirmed that our relationship is a model of co-existence between big neighbouring countries. We say we support our respective friendships with common neighbours, contrary to reality. We are open to maritime cooperation with China in the Indian Ocean when its increasing presence there causes us concern. Even on the nuclear issue, where China has been the source of our biggest strategic challenge, we talk about civilian nuclear cooperation with it. We are consciously letting China off the hook on every issue of concern to us and attributing a benign air to its policies.

Perhaps we judge that any perception of mounting India-China differences reduces our capacity to bargain with other power centres. We probably want to give less room to those who would prefer China and India to be pitted against each other as such a conflict in Asia’s heart would suit their interests. We might be reasoning that those seeking to incorporate us into their anti- China strategy cannot themselves ignore the reality of China, and that with the already achieved integration of its huge economy with the global one any scope for confrontation is limited. Moreover, our role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the East Asia Summit, our participation in the emerging Asian security architecture, our BRICS dialogue and collaboration with China on the World Trade Organization and climate change issues, would be strained by India-China wrangles.

Such thinking has merit up to a point, but between exaggerating levels of understanding with China to ward off external exploitation of our underlying differences and constantly ceding ground politically to it bilaterally on contentious issues and helping it to present an accommodative face to an anxious international community by being receptive to its tactical grandstanding in India during Li Keqiang’s visit, we have room to craft a more balanced policy.

Just when wariness of China is growing we make a show of bonhomie with it. When Myanmar wants to dilute its dependence on China and the United States of America and Japan court it, we advocate an economic corridor between China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and India that would promote Chinese influence in this region. We are ready to allow our Northeast to move economically into China’s orbit, as if that would help us to better integrate it with the rest of India and Arunachal Pradesh can be insulated from Chinese inroads there. If China was visibly moderating its policies in our periphery and on our territorial differences, our postures would make better sense. But then, The Global Times has just reminded us that “India must accept and adapt to the enviable friendship between China and Pakistan. China cannot scale down this partnership merely because of India’s feelings!”

Under its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, Japan is reaching out to India as never before with the shared threat from a muscle-flexing China in mind. China has tried to queer this pitch with the prime minister, Li Keqiang, landing in India before our prime minister travelled to Japan in late May and wooing us with rhetoric and smiles, an exercise in which we willingly participated. This contrived show of friendship and harmony lacked diplomatic finesse, as signalling to the Japanese that our relations with them and China followed matching tracks weakens our playing hand with both. Buoyed by the success of Li Keqiang’s visit, Chinese commentators have lectured Japanese politicians — described as “petty burglars” — on the manner in which India and China managed to “properly” solve their border stand-off quickly. Such contemptuous rhetoric towards Japan should caution us not to take China’s engaging tone towards us too seriously.

The new Galapagos

Pratap Bhanu Mehta : Thu Jul 04 2013

A preliminary catalogue of Delhi's unique biodiversity

Delhi is famed for its biodiversity. It boasts of an astonishing array of animal and bird life. Like Galapagos, it is an ecosystem of its own. So the marvels of evolution, with an extraordinary range of mutations, can be seen in its full glory. More than any other city, Delhi requires ornithologists, evolutionary biologists and zoologists to understand its rhythms. Political scientists and economists are useless. Delhi's biological riches have not been catalogued in their full glory. The evolutionary trends are not fully understood. Delhi awaits its Darwin. But here are some preliminary results. They will shake up the fields of behavioural zoology and ornithology alike.

Member of Parliament: No law against cruelty to animals has been able to ameliorate the fate of this animal. It is always under a whip. And to make the fate even crueller, it is always found in the well of a House. But it is not allowed to drink. How this species will adapt is the biggest question in evolutionary biology.

Homo Lutyens: This is a very Delhi species. All its life it fights to make Lutyens its Habitat. It likes the white nest. And then, come hell or high water, will not leave it. No matter what the cost. No matter what the compromise. The only species known that governs its entire life around a particular habitat.

Econocrat: (This species named by Kaushik Basu). This is an economist who turns bureaucrat. A unique species. Like those species that are happy in all kinds of weather, this one also thinks all news is good news. If the rupee falls, it says, good for exports. If it rises, it says, good for imports. Have unusual powers of prognostication. No matter what happens to inflation, this species will repeat: inflation will come down next quarter. No matter what happens to IIP, it will repeat, IIP will go up next quarter. Precise role in ecosystem not clear, except that like a rooster will always be heard.

Homo Commiticus: Christened in this column in 2004, this is another very Delhi species. A perfect committee person. Prefers the small group gregariousness of committees. Only raison d'etre is to be member of more such groups. Is never confrontational, always tilts with the wind and thus ensures its own longevity. Known to sign on command.

Bureaucrat: Evidence for the self-limiting nature of the evolutionary process. Nature has designed it to stop all adaptation; so powerful that it can interfere in the growth of all other species. Often upsets the balance of this ecosystem.

Retired Bureaucrat: This is a marvel of evolution. Turns on its own kind. After retirement, it tries to devour its own species with an unprecedented ferocity. But alas, by the time it attacks its own, it has no teeth left.

Monkeys: Delhi has a lot of them. Beat at the windows of North and South Block. The only species capable of existential questions. Erratic behaviour conditioned by existential resentment: we are smarter than anyone inside North or South Block. Why are they inside and we outside?

Industry Chambers: Very fidgety animals. Delhi's over-friendly dogs. Will lick Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi or Nitish Kumar. Always in the expectation that some crumbs will come their way.

Party Spokespersons: These are like crickets. They are constantly chirping. Like crickets have different sounds. Some are loud and aggressive to repel other males. Some are courting songs to attract allies. There is an occasional copulatory sound after successful mating. But like crickets their sound is so incessant and part of the background that no one, other than other crickets, take the sound seriously.

Central Bureau of Investigation: This is an amazing species. On the one hand, it passes off as a caged parrot. But unleashed, it is also a bird of prey, devouring what is in its path. Ornithologists bent on its preservation are divided over how to treat it: is it a parrot to be released or a bird of prey to be tamed?

Auditors: A truly gifted species whose raison d'etre is counting. It is so gifted that it can allegedly count even irrational numbers.