21 October 2013

Weaponisation of Space

Date : 19 Oct , 2013

The International Space Station

Weaponisation of space would include space control and space-based systems that could destroy targets on the earth’s surface. Space control involves protecting own systems in orbit, attacking enemy assets in space and denying the enemy access to space. The means of achieving these objectives would be to prevent the enemy from launching satellites and destroying or degrading enemy satellites in space. It is akin to control over the air or the sea which would involve denying access to the air or to the sea to the enemy while ensuring access to own or friendly forces. Attacking terrestrial targets from satellites in space would limit reaction time available to the enemy and increase the element of surprise while reducing own losses.

The UN General Assembly recognized the threat from uncontrolled military expansion into space…

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two great ancient Epics of India. These Epics, especially the Mahabharata, pick up the thread of the tale of devastation and destruction. Atlantis rather displeased at the humiliating defeat, decided that they were no longer interested in subjugating the Rama Empire (an Indian empire) and decided instead to annihilate the major cities using weapons of mass destruction. Sanskrit scholars could not comprehend what was being described in the Epics until the dropping by the United States of America of the first atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. There are authentic verses from the Indian Epics as under:

“Gurkha, flying a swift and powerful Vimana (fast aircraft) hurled a single projectile (rocket) charged with the power of the universe (nuclear device). An incandescent column of smoke and flame, as bright as ten thousand suns, rose with all its splendour. It was an unknown weapon, an iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death, which reduced to ashes the entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. The corpses were burned beyond recognition. Hair and nails fell out, pottery shattered without apparent cause and the birds turned white. After a few hours all foodstuff was infected. To escape from this fire, the soldiers threw themselves into streams of water to wash themselves and their equipment.”

There are descriptions of other weapons. The ‘Brahmadanda’, the most powerful weapon in the universe, belonged to Brahma. The ‘Pashupatastra’ was the weapon of Mahakali, the consort of Mahadeva. This was granted to Arjuna by Shiva and was among the most destructive and foreboding weapons. The ‘Brahmastra’, which contained the mystical force of Brahma, released millions of missiles creating great fires and it had the destructive potential of extinguishing all creation. ‘Vajra’ was the thunderbolt weapon of Indra.

All these weapons raining death and destruction have been described in great detail in the Epics written thousands and thousands of years ago. The fertile imagination of great Indian minds had envisaged the exploitation of space and energy as weapons of war a long time ago. The story is somewhat different today.

On a Higher Trajectory

Deccan Herald
October 18, 2013
Gurmeet Kanwal

The major implication of the pact is that the US will treat India just like the UK, which is an alliance partner.

Contrary to most of the commentary that has appeared in the Indian media, the Obama-Manmohan Singh meeting at the White House on September 26 was unexpectedly successful in setting the Indo-US strategic partnership on the path to a higher trajectory in the long term. The joint statement issued after the meeting and the Joint Declaration on Defence Cooperation endorsed by the two leaders have the potential to perceptibly shape the future contours of the relationship to mutual benefit. 

The most notable achievement of the summit was in the field of defence cooperation and, more particularly, defence trade. President Obama and prime minister Manmohan Singh called for “expanding security cooperation between the United States and India to address 21st century challenges.” In an unexpected move the two leaders endorsed a Joint Declaration on Defence Cooperation “as a means of enhancing their partnership in defence technology transfer, joint research, co-development and co-production.” They decided to significantly enhance cooperation in combatting terrorism. President Obama appreciated India’s decision to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac) naval exercise to be hosted by US Pacific Command in 2014.

For several decades, India’s procurement of weapons platforms and other equipment as part of its plans for defence modernisation has remained mired in disadvantageous buyer-seller, patron-client relationships like that with the erstwhile Soviet Union and now Russia. While India has been manufacturing Russian fighter aircraft and tanks under licence for many years, the Russians never actually transferred weapons technology to India. There is now realisation in India that future defence acquisitions must simultaneously lead to a transformative change in the country’s defence technology base and manufacturing prowess.

The country has now diversified its acquisition sources beyond Russia to western countries and Israel. From the US, India has purchased weapons platforms and other items of defence equipment worth USD 10 billion over the last five years. Major procurements have included the troop carrier ship INS Jalashva (USS Trenton), six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for India’s Special Forces, ten C-17 Globemaster heavy lift transport aircraft, 12 Boeing P-8I Poseidon long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft and 12 AN-TPQ37 Weapon Locating Radars. Another six C-130J and seven C-17 aircraft are expected to be purchased over the next few years. Also in the acquisition pipeline are M-777 light artillery howitzers, Apache attack helicopters and Chinook medium lift helicopters. 

However, none of the recent deals with the US have included transfer-of-technology (ToT) clauses. It is imperative that whatever India procures now must be procured with a ToT clause being built into the contract even if it means having to pay a higher price. The aim is to make India a design, development, manufacturing and export hub for defence equipment in two to three decades.

Stumbling blocks

This is indeed a landmark agreement that has codified previously expressed intentions. The major implication of this agreement is that the US will treat India just like the United Kingdom, which is an alliance partner, without India having to enter into a military alliance with the US. Also, presumably, India will not have to sign the CISMOA, BECA and LSA agreements that have been major stumbling blocks in the past and about which it has differences of perception with the US. India is hungry for cutting edge state-of-the-art defence technology and this agreement will help to a large extent to fulfil India’s hi-tech requirement. On its part, the US will secure lucrative defence contracts for its leading defence companies. This will give a fillip to the flagging economy and help to create jobs.

‘We Only Postponed The Day Of Reckoning’

Jitender Gupta

Economist-cum-technocrat Deepak Nayyar is viewed as an influential observer of the economy and a selective critic of liberalisation. He was the chief economic advisor to the government during the tumultuous period between 1989 and 1991, when India negotiated with the International Monetary Fund. In a rare interview, Nayyar—emeritus professor of economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi—took questions from Sunit Arora:

Sunit Arora: Professor Nayyar, is India facing a balance of payments crisis?

Professor Deepak Nayyar: We are indeed in a crisis. In the past three months, confidence has been strongly undermined. India’s balance of trade deficit (10 per cent of GDP) and current account deficit (4.8 per cent of GDP) are both at levels that are unsustainable in terms of fundamentals. If you compare this with the past in India, or the present in other emerging economies, you would recognize how serious the situation is. It is as clear as daylight that we cannot continue to live beyond our means year after year.

But why has the mood shifted from abject despair to seeming euphoria?

The panic lifted when US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced in mid-September that he was going to defer the progressive withdrawal of quantitative easing. It was not the magic wand of Raghuram Rajan at RBI that stabilized the rupee It was this exogenous event in the US! Essentially, the problem lies in our flawed strategy of using foreign (portfolio) investment inflows to finance the current account deficit. Given this approach, we must be prepared to accept the ebbs and flows of global finance. However, we cannot claim we are victims of global finance. Of course, most emerging economies were hurt by Bernanke's decision. But we chose this path. And our fundamentals are distinctly worse 

What do you think is an appropriate value of the rupee?

The rupee was somewhat over-valued at Rs 55/$ . We have had high inflation for three years, much higher than in the outside world. Hence, this needed to be corrected. But the sinking to Rs 70/$ was too much of a correction. Clearly, there is no assurance the rupee will remain at current levels of Rs 62/$. When the Federal Reserve Board meets next, it is almost certain that they will announce a phased withdrawal of quantitative easing. There could then be a repeat performance of capital outflows from India. It is simply a matter of time. We have only postponed the day of reckoning.

The government continues to insist that we don’t need to go to the IMF.

"It would be prudent and wise to explore seeking an arrangement with the IMF—even if this cannot be in the public domain for obvious political reasons.” 

The government cites two reasons for their comfort: the exchange rate has stabilized, and foreign exchange reserves at $275 billion are large enough. The exchange rate could slip again. And the comfort implicit in these reserves is illusory. Simply put, short-term debt and liabilities that can be withdrawn on demand are much larger than our reserves. The private corporate sector has to repay $ 170 billion before end-March 2014. And the outstanding stock of portfolio investment is much larger. If there were to be capital flight, just as we had in 1990, the reserves would vanish—and vanish quickly. In the past, many countries in Latin America, East Asia and elsewhere have lost more than $100 billion of foreign exchange reserves in a fortnight during financial crises.

J&K: Incoherence and Volatility

Anurag Tripathi
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

In its continuing attempt to reverse the trend of deepening peace in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Islamabad has, since the beginning of 2013, intensified its onslaught on the border, repeatedly violating the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) signed in November 2003. The ‘intrusion’ into Shala Bhata village along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Keran Sector of Kupwara District in September 2013, was a glaring recent example of such violations.

Reports suggest that a group of an estimated 30 to 40 infiltrators, comprising Pakistan Army’s Border Action Team (BAT) troops and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)-backed terrorists, had ‘captured’ Shala Bhata village at some time in September 2013. The Army, however, denies such reports, asserting, “The enemy was not occupying higher ground but sitting in a nallah (rivulet)… If this was intrusion, the adversary would go and occupy dominating ground which is defensible.” Nevertheless, the Army was forced to launch Operation Shala Bhata on September 24, 2013. According to reports, at least 19 terrorists were killed during the operation. Five troopers also sustained injuries during the operation. The operation was called off on October 8, 2013, with Army declaring, “our counter-insurgency deployment is being strengthened. We are now going to launch operations which are intelligence based, which are surveillance based, so that we can eliminate and meet the challenges.”

In the meantime, an Army soldier was killed at Kachal along the LoC in the Keran Sector as the Army foiled an infiltration bid by terrorists in the night of October 10, 2013.

The sheer duration of the Operation Shala Bhata clearly demonstrated the enormous challenge that the SFs faced during the course of 15-days over which the engagement was extended. Indeed, the last protracted counter insurgency (CI) operation, Operation Khoj, had been launched in the J&K between March 27 and April 2, 2010, following information that a large group of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists, all equipped with maps, weapons and ammunition, had infiltrated along the Pallanwalla sector in Jammu (Jammu District) in the night of March 22, 2010. 16 LeT terrorists and six soldiers were killed, as almost 1,000 troops spread out across an area of just over 50 square kilometers. Speaking about the scale of the Operation Khoj, then General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the CI Uniform Force, Major General M.M.S. Rai stated, "No doubt it was the biggest by the sheer size of it, and the number of people involved on ground. We wanted to quickly eliminate, search and destroy and that is why we lost our own men too." SFs later claimed that Operation Khoj was, in fact, the second largest CI operation in the State after Operation Sarpa Vinash (Snake Destroyer) that was executed in the State in 2003 in the remote Hill Kaka region near Surankote town in Poonch District. "Operation Sarp Vinash, which was conducted in an area of approximately 150 square kilometres between April and June [2003] after comprehensive planning, led to the elimination of 65 terrorists and smashing of 119 hideouts," an unnamed senior Army officer had then told the Media.

Meanwhile, talking about the direct role of the Pakistan Army in the latest offensive from across the Border, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Northern Army command, Lieutenant General Sanjiv Chachra asserted,

India and China realise there is no room for animosity

October 18, 2013

Both India and China have demonstrated levels of maturity in diffusing tensions and ensuring that the border remains by and large incident free, says Seema Mustafa

The Indian government’s response to China is at complete variance with the hysterical approach of 24-hour television news channels. Unfortunately while this view is available off the record for senior scribes willing to observe the confidentiality clause, it remains absent from television screens thereby allowing hype to take over substance.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China next week promises to be an exercise in moderation with both countries set to sign a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement that has just been cleared by the Union cabinet as part of the Confidence Building Measures to maintain peace and tranquility along the border.

Significantly, despite the media hype about the so-called Chinese incursions into Indian territory recently, government sources have repeatedly insisted that the number of incursions are down as compared to the previous year. They say India-China border remains violence free, with no deaths or shooting reported for several years. This is seen as a success of the ongoing talks between the two countries, which has managed to institutionalise the border dialogue with regular meetings and discussions.

The BDCA is expected to introduce a higher level of military meetings on the border to ensure that the Depsang kind of incident does not recur, and even if there is similar activity, it is dealt with rapidly. Unlike India-Pakistan relations where talks often get bogged down under adverse circumstances, both India and China have demonstrated levels of maturity in diffusing tensions and ensuring that the border remains by and large incident free.

India is clearly not allowing China’s consistent refusal to grant visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh that remains ‘disputed’ on Beijing’s agenda, to strain relations. Two archers from Arunachal Pradesh were recently denied Chinese visas and were prevented from boarding a Gujagzhou-bound flight even though they were part of the team selected to participate in the World Archery Youth Championships in Wuxi.

The Indian government is no longer reacting to what many in New Delhi see as ‘predictable’ Chinese behaviour, although, the necessary diplomatic steps for clearances were taken.

Beyond The Searchlight

Sanjay Rawat
Should we be wary of Google’s all-pervasiveness?

Search Google

  • Some queries to type in the window
  • Is what is good for Google good for India, especially after Brazil and the EU question its actions?
  • Are politicians sending out the right signals by associating with Google’s initiatives?
  • Is Google directing the internet intellectual discourse in a way that will benefit it?
  • Does Google initiate the kind of offline activities it does here in other democracies?
  • Is Google shutting out potential competition by obtaining a stranglehold on the internet?
Google’s policy, its CEO Eric Schmidt had once said, was to get right up to the creepy line, but not cross it. It has generated contentious debate about the firm’s activities and products, whether it’s accessing your e-mails to feed you targeted ads, something we have now come to accept grudgingly, or its soon-to-be-rel­eased Google Glass that comes fitted with miniature cameras and has advocates all worried about the next big breach on the privacy frontier.

Not just online, where privacy violations and anti-competitive practices have raised concerns globally, some of Google’s offline activities in India too should have us asking questions based on conflict of interest and lack of transparency. Here too, the company seems to have placed itself right next to the creepy line. Especially the way it has gone about sponsoring research at key think-tanks and academia on areas that direc­tly concern its business interests.

Nothing illustrates this better than the work of PRS Legislative Research, which Google has funded in the past. PRS produces policy briefi­ngs that are sent out to lawmakers and the media, including on internet governance. PRS hasn’t got a clearance to receive foreign funds since it became independent of the Centre for Policy Research in 2010, where it was launched, and has since then been largely funded by domestic sources.

“That an Indian user seeking arbitration with Google has to do so in a California court reeks of double standards.”Prashant Reddy, Blogger 

But while it may have been forced to back out from fun­ding PRS direc­tly, Google’s web of res­earch fellows in this country is growing. In August this year, the Asia Internet Coalition, of which Goo­gle is a founding member, selected its two inaugural India fellows—Shehla Rashid Shora and Astik Sinha, both of whom will analyse policies concerning the internet environment here. Sinha also happens to be a social media advisor for BJP MP Anurag Thakur.

Does this growing network mean Google is having a say in shaping internet governance laws? Maybe yes. They should have a say by all means, just as other interested parties must get theirs. But given its influence and the certain opaqueness that marks its activities, some more transparency can only boost the cred­entials of a firm whose informal motto is—“Don’t be evil”. Google may have helped you find that bit of information from the googol tera bytes of online data but it has so far largely evaded discussion on how it has gone on to become big and influential in India.

So big that it hobnobs with Narendra Modi in the first of its Hangout series and, quite contrary to its espousal of free speech, has comfortable questions pitched to him. Or so influential that it has telecom minister Kapil Sibal, its bete noire from 2011 when his ministry was forcing them to pull down content, to attend the launch of chand­nichowkonline.in, a business direct­ory of Sibal’s constituency. Outlook made several attempts to get a reaction from Google but rec­eived none by the time this article had to go to the press.

Blurred lines Paid ads seem no different from search results for cameras

Google, since 2011, has also placed three fellows so far under its annual Google Public Policy Fellowship prog­ramme at the Bangalore-based Cen­tre for Internet and Society (CIS). The research is supposed to focus on “acc­ess to knowledge, openness in India, freedom of expression, pri­vacy, and telecom”. Yet another crucial funding in May 2013 went to the Centre for Communication Gover­na­nce at the National Law University in New Delhi, which does research on areas directly linked to its business interests. The agreement contains a clause that says “Google will not be excluded from any future business opportunities”. Its research director Chi­n­mayi Arun did not respond to Outlook’s e-mail and said she was too busy to speak when Outlook called her up.

“More transparency and accountability can only be good, both for Google and for the organisation it funds.”Anja Kovacs, Internet Democracy Project 

A third institution Google has fun­ded is the media watch website The Hoot. After the 26/11 attacks in Mum­bai when the government hastily amended the IT Act, clamping down in a restrictive spirit, noted journalist and the website’s editor Sevanti Ninan was one of the many criticising the government publi­cly in her articles. Google, she says, contac­ted her somewhere around mid-2009 seeking a proposal on how they could help with what she was working on. Ninan sent one proposing a Free Speech Hub and received a grant of $22,000 in January 2010 (approximately Rs 10 lakh at 2010 exchange rates) from Google to do so. The hub is an online forum to track free speech violation and highlight problems surrounding freedom of speech and expression and regulation of media. The commitment was renewed in February 2012 with ano­ther grant of Rs 42 lakh. Ninan says that while Goo­gle was “not interested in media ethics but free speech”, its app­roach was entirely “hands-off” to what the site could include on the hub. “I think it’s entirely up to the org­anisation being funded to decide how it handles a grant. At the same time, anything Google does should be under scrutiny just like other corporations.”

So just as it is necessary to publicise that Shell has ties with the India chapter of Brookings Institution or that Reliance sponsors the Observer Resea­rch Foundation, it is important that people know where Google is putting its money and for what gains. In fact, more so in the case of Google, a firm that touches our lives in so many more ways that Shell or Reliance does. Yet, a lot of what Google has been doing has gone without adequate publicity and scrutiny. Should we be any less sceptical of Google funding resea­rch that helps formulate policies on internet governance than we should be of, let’s say, the Tatas and Jindals on mining? “Google has huge money and its funding of research can be a very contentious issue, especially if it seeks to influence resea­rch. Therefore, parties who swear by full disclosure and transparency must adhere to it,” says senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta. “More transpare­ncy and accountability can only be good, both for Google and the organisations it funds,” adds Anja Kovacs, who works with the Internet Democracy Project.

The great connector Hangout with Narendra Modi

But there has been little of that transparency online. For instance, the Rules and Regulations Review of The Infor­mation Technology Rules, 2011, put out and sent to MPs by PRS Legislative Research has no mention that an interested party (Google) has funded its work. Similarly, The Hoot has no mention of Google funding it on the ‘About the Hub’ page even though it has details of Google’s funding on the ‘Support The Hoot’ page. Google has also funded numerous ngos, in areas such as health and education, and has sought to promote the use of technology (often theirs, such as in the ongoing Google Impact Challenge Award).

“Because there is no privacy commissioner, Indian citizens are left vulnerable to Google when it comes to privacy.”Sunil Abraham, CIS, Bangalore 

This offline influence apart, Google’s hold online is worrying enough to call for action. The way it manipulates search results to favour clients of its AdSense programme is a global concern. For instance, a search for a popular phone model throws up matches of Google’s clients and features them more prominently than the actual site of the product. The Jaipur-based Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) conducted a survey that found most internet users could not tell an ad from an organic search result from Google. Says Madhav Dar, an independent anti-trust economist, “Given its financial clout and dominance of e-commerce, Google can directly deny traffic to downstream sites. And because the internet ecosystem is still in a formative stage here, this is something that requires intense and urgent scrutiny by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).”

CUTS filed a formal complaint with the CCI in June last year alleging anti-competitive practices and abuse of its dominant position. Bharat­Matrimony.com too filed a complaint with the CCI in 2012 accusing it of directing online users’ search for “Bharat+Matrimony” to its rivals.

For many, Google crossed the creepy line when it declared, in a court filing in August this year, that people sending e-mails to any of Google’s 425 million Gmail users need have no “reasonable expectation” that their communications are confidential. This is something that concerns Sunil Abraham, the executive director of CIS, which hosts Google fellows but has received no funding from the firm. “India has no omnibus horizontal statutes, neither sufficiently evolved vertical statutes in specific areas of telecommunication or the internet,” he says. “And because of that there is no office of the privacy commissioner in India and the absence of this regulator doesn’t tame the voracious appetite that Google has for personal information. This happens in other jurisdictions, but the Indian citizen is left vulnerable to Google when it comes to privacy.” “Part of Google’s practice can be absolutely abhorrent, such as the way in which it seeks to have a monopoly in digitising information and being the only one to organise it,” adds Kovacs.

Amitabh Bachchan Google maps his home at WEF in Davos

Another controversial move online has been the decision between Airtel and Google to allow the former’s subscribers free usage of Google’s service up to 1 GB. This has thrown up concerns of violation of “network neutrality”, a widely acknowledged concept that requires internet service providers to not discriminate against third party applications and service.

"Anything that Google does should be under scrutiny just like other corporations."Sevanti Ninan, Editor, The Hoot 

Journalist and blogger Shivam Vij, however, thinks concerns surrounding Google’s offline activities are misplaced. “As long as they keep coming out with transparency reports that show the majority of requests for user data and content removal are refused, I’d consider them an ally. One should be grateful that Google is funding to protect free speech and ashamed that Indian firms aren’t,” he says. “And if they really have been trying to influence MPs, they would have bribed them, not put out research.”

Nikhil Pahwa, who runs Medianama, a digital media news and analysis website, is another person who says “he won’t look a gift horse in the mouth”. “I don’t know what the motives are, but I support what they are doing, especially given the way the state and Indian firms are failing us when it comes to protecting free speech online,” he adds. The only concern he has about Google is regarding its reported unwillingness to agree to a deal between the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The deal seeks to ensure smaller online publishers and advertising networks are paid on time by advertisers, who, in most cases, delay payments to smaller entities but always pay bigger players like Google on time. “Smaller players are suffering due to delay in payments, which can extend up to a year, a problem that Google does not face. The IAMAI initiative is something that Google is unwilling to support because it does not impact them,” he adds.

The outreach Sibal attends the launch of chandnichowkonline, a business directory of his constituency; Qutub Minar, digitised

Criticising or questioning some of Google’s policies does not amount to siding with the government on cracking down on free speech on the internet. Outlook ran a cover in December 2011 where it was severely critical of the government’s atte­mpt to muzzle online dissent. Neither does concern about Google’s activities stem from a fear of the foreign hand. Its expansion into Indian civil society has to be seen as an attempt by a profits-driven corporation to ensure its market interests in India are protected. The country becomes all the more important given the trouble it has been having in Brazil and in Europe, where the firm has been slapped with a slew of anti-trust charges. Keeping a close watch will only help enforce Google’s policy in India—not crossing the creepy line.

We regret that in the print version of this article, a wrong quotation was inadvertently attributed to Sevanti Ninan, which was spotted and corrected before posting the article online

Short-sighted policy on China

Posted on October 18, 2013 by Bharat Karnad
Trust Manmohan Singh’s Congress government to take an axe to India’s feet. This country has suffered from an absence of a strategic mindset for so long that decisions are taken these days without a thought to their ramifications on India’s own interests and options in the future. The latest manifestation of this short-sightedness is New Delhi’s making a capital case out of the sale of the Chinese ACP 1000MW pressurised water reactors (PWRs) to Pakistan, by charging Beijing with violating strictures in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) restrictions.

Why is this position hurtful to India’s interests? For several reasons: One, because we are trying to be more loyal than the king, acting as a guardian of the NPT—drawn up principally to keep India out of the weapons club—and which has been a thorn in India’s side. The Chinese sale does two things—it sets a precedent for India to sell its own 220-700MW PWRs to any country that wants it, especially on China’s periphery, on precisely the terms and conditions Beijing has set for the Pakistani purchase. Nothing stopped us all these years from peddling our heavy water moderated PWRs to energy-deficient states in Asia, Africa, and Latin America except lack of strategic imagination. Using our PWR technology as the cutting edge of an export drive would have energised and vastly expanded our nuclear industry, increased the skilled labour pool, stamped India’s nuclear presence the world over, and amortised the Nuclear Power Corporation’s debts, putting it on a self-sustaining growth curve. But because India is always a follower and not a leader, the Chinese sale will hopefully wake us up to pushing exports of indigenous nuclear products.

The second strategic reason to not oppose the Chinese reactor sale is the long-term interest in seeing a stable Pakistan. The reactors will address the severe electricity crunch there—the main cause for the industrial stagnation and rocketing unemployment in that country. It is in India’s interest to ensure Pakistani youth find gainful employment in factories and workshops, rather than picking up the gun for jihad.

Even as his government has made this strategic error, Manmohan Singh himself will soon be winging his way to Russia and then China, after returning from trips to the US and Southeast Asia. But having logged thousands of air-miles travelling to distant points on the compass, his exertions had no discernible impact except in terms of giveaways to big powers that the country cannot afford. Every time he has headed west, he surrendered ground in any country that wanted to fete him and in return receive goodies—usually multi-billion dollar contracts for high-value technological hardware (weapons systems, nuclear reactors and the like), and concessions such as on the fluorocarbon refrigerants and willful disregard of the 2010 Civil Nuclear Liability Act to please Washington, even as president Obama shrugged his shoulders at Indian concerns on the H-1B visas.

Why Russia remains Indias largest arms supplier

October 18, 2013

Once a frequent landing spot for Sri Lankan smugglers who traded opium for beedis and tobacco, the Kodikkarai fishing port in Tamil Nadu is today being used for a deadlier purpose -- arms trade.

Smugglers are now bringing in arms -- with Chinese help -- and channelising them into northern Kerala.

The recent detaining of MV Seaman Guard Ohio, the US-owned ship accused of illegally entering Indian waters with a huge cache of weapons, has once again tested India’s fragile coastal security apparatus.

Prior to this, various agencies have been looking at the illegal passage of vessels which are allegedly smuggling in arms from Sri Lanka and ferrying them to Kerala.

A major part of this operation has been traced near Nagapattinam at the end of the Salt Pan area of Kodikkarai fishing port.

Preliminary investigations have found that the smuggling of arms and ammunition is being carried out with the help of Chinese agents who facilitate the mafia and smugglers who are settled in Sri Lanka.

The National Investigation Agency, which is hot on the terror trail in Kerala, is trying to find out if the arms that have reached the state came through this channel. There is a considerable amount of weapons that have been stocked up in northern Kerala, especially at Udumalapet and the Karur forest areas.

At first, the NIA believed that it was Pakistan which supplied the arms and ammunition, but investigations showed that the route was too long and risky. Today, the Chinese angle appears more plausible.

Central intelligence agencies tell rediff.com that over the past few years there has been a considerable increase in the number of Chinese settlements in southern India. Across Tamil Nadu, especially in the rural areas, there are approximately 170 Chinese who have taken up odd jobs. 

An intelligence report states that the Chinese are trying to set up a base in southern India and would look to attack India through this part of the country. There are several elements in Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu who are more than willing to help stock these arms and ammunition and the agents either pay them in kind or cash.

Why Russia remains India's largest arms supplier

Low equipment price, operational durability in climatic extremes and platform familiarity are reasons for Russia's success with India as a weapons supplier, says Rahul Bedi.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Moscow and talks with President Vladimir Putin on October 21 will doubtlessly reconfirm India's dependence on Russian materiel.

'Bilateral defence ties between India and Russia have transformed radically, evolving from a buyer-seller relationship to one involving licensed production and more recently into one envisaging joint research, development and production of advanced defence systems,' India's envoy to Moscow Ajai Malhotra declared ahead of Dr Singh's participation in the 14th edition of the Delhi-Moscow summit.

India annually conducts $1,500 million (Rs 9,274.5 crores/Rs 92 billion) worth of defence business with Russia.

Since the early 1960s India has acquired military equipment worth over $40 billion (Rs 247,320 crores/Rs 2.47 trillion) from Moscow. This constitutes over 65 per cent of the Indian military's inventory.

According to recent assessments by the Russian Centre for Analysis of International Weapons Trade, India will account for around 54.4 per cent of all weapon exports by Moscow between 2010 and 2013 that are estimated at over $15 billion (Rs 92,745 crores/Rs 927 billion).

'Russia unlikely to be dislodged as India's principal weapons supplier'

This includes combat and transport aircraft, naval fighters, conventional and nuclear submarines, warships, main battle tanks, field artillery, infantry combat vehicles, varied helicopters and a vast assortment of ordnance and missiles.

A large proportion of this equipment is licence-built by India's public sector via technology transfers.

"Russia is unlikely for several decades to be dislodged as India's principal weapons supplier even by a combination of the US, France, Israel, each one of whom have individually increased their defence exports to Delhi in recent years," says Lieutenant General Vijay Kapoor (retd).

The three principal reasons, he added, for Russia's continuing success with India in this field remains low equipment price and operational durability in climatic extremes and platform familiarity for generations of Service personnel.

Consequently, the bulk of the Indian Air Force's 32-odd fighter squadrons comprise Russian platforms including the multi-role Su-30MKI whose numbers by 2017 will rise to 272, making it the single largest fighter type in the force.

The majority of the IAF's transport aircraft are Russian whilst India remains the world's largest operator of Mi-17/Mi-8 tactical transport helicopters with over 200 of them in service.

The Indian Navy's submarine and warship fleet too is largely Russian in both origin and design whilst 45 Mig-29Ks will form the air arm of its two aircraft carriers by 2017-2018.

Over 95 per cent of the Indian Army's armour fleet of around 2,500 main battle tanks include Russian T-72s and T-90S, whilst over 2,000 of its infantry combat vehicles are exclusively from the Soviet era.

Besides, the two sides have successfully developed the anti-ship BrahMos cruise missile with a 292km range which has been fitted onto the navy's frontline warships and is soon expected to arm its submarines.

Trials to test fire the BrahMos's air launched version from a specially modified Su-30MKI is reportedly imminent and export possibilities for the cruise missile continue to be negotiated.

On the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Moscow trip the Cabinet Committee on Security he heads on October 17 approved indefinitely the partnership to co-produce the BrahMos removing a persistent irritant in bilateral military cooperation.

The two sides are also jointly developing the long-delayed Multi-role Transport Aircraft of which 100 are earmarked for Russia, 45 for the IAF and 60 for export. And in recent years India has secured access to the Russian-built Global Navigation Satellite System or GLONASS as an alternative to the US-controlled Global Positioning System.

'India likely to get strategic military know-how from Moscow'

Fearful of competition from Israeli, US and European arms consortiums, senior Russian analysts recently declared that Moscow could offer India badly-needed strategic military know-how in order to retain sway over its largest materiel procurer.

'Growing international competition for the Indian defence market will push Russia to expand its cooperation with India into new sectors where it has no rivals, such as strategic weapons and technologies,' Konstantin Makienko of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies declared in Moscow in October 2010.

Makienko suggested that the two countries could diversify their defence ties into nuclear submarine technologies despite continuing international restrictions against India.

'India's de facto joining of the nuclear club makes such restrictions rather pointless,' he declared, adding that Russia was interested in strengthening Delhi's defence potential without any limitations.

He was referring to the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, responsible for regulating global nuclear trade approving a US-backed proposal in 2008 permitting India to conduct civilian atomic commerce whilst retaining its strategic weapons programme.

Russia's involvement in helping India miniaturise the 80MW pressurised water reactor fueled by enriched uranium aboard its indigenously designed ballistic missile submarine, the INS Arihant (Enemy Destroyer) has long been an open, though downplayed secret amongst naval, atomic and strategic community personnel.

Official sources recently indicated that Russia would, in all likelihood, also assist the Defence Research and Development Organisation in designing the 3 to 5 follow-on SSBNs at the secretive Ship Building Centre in Visakhapatnam.

'Only Russia is capable of leasing nuclear submarines to India'

India is also on the verge of leasing a second Russian nuclear powered attack submarine as a follow on to the INS Chakra it leased for 10 years for around $920 million. The INS Chakra was inducted into the Indian Navy last April.

'India can afford it (the second SSN). It is reasonable,' Defence Minister A K Antony said on the sidelines of the induction ceremony.

Chakra that will serve as a training platform for the Arihant was one of two Russian SSNs that India planned on leasing in 2004.

This classified deal was initially agreed upon by the National Democratic Alliance administration along with the procurement of the Admiral Gorshkov, the 44,750 ton Kiev-class aircraft carrier for the price of its refit, revised recently to $2.3 billion.

But the second SSN lease was deferred by the Congress Party-led federal coalition around 2005 only to be resurrected recently at the Indian Navy's insistence.

Earlier, in 1988, the navy had leased a Soviet Charlie-I class SSN for three years to gain operational experience with nuclear submarines, with plans on clinching similar agreements for six such boats. But the Soviet Union's disintegration foreclosed that possibility.

The sale of nuclear submarines is forbidden by international treaties, but leases are permitted provided the platforms are not armed with missiles with ranges of over 300 km. 'Only Russia is capable of leasing nuclear submarines to India. No other country would take such a step,' a vice-admiral said.

There remains an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Russia

Despite such alluring overtures, there remains an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Russia, both in the ministry of dDefence and the three Services, primarily over equipment cost and time overruns.

The initial cost of retrofitting the Gorshkov, for instance, was $974 million (Rs 6,022.2 crores/Rs 60 billion) but within a few years it had soared almost three times to $2.3 billion (Rs 14,220.9 crores/Rs 142 billion). Its delivery to the navy scheduled for November stands delayed by five years.

Astronomically high operating costs of fuel-intensive, relatively technologically inadequate Russian equipment alongside incompetent after-sales product support including access to spares remain a recurring concern for India's military.

This, in turn, had triggered the defence ministry's insistence on life cycle costing for future materiel purchases resulting in Russia losing out to the US and the Europeans in recent tenders.

These include the procurement of 15 heavy lift and 22 attack helicopters, six mid-air refuellers and the lucrative Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft requirement for 126 fighters which have been awarded to the US, Europeans and France respectively.

Meanwhile, the IAF is concerned over the inadequate technological share accorded to India by Russia, the lead partner in the $35 billion (Rs 216,405 crores/Rs 215 trillion) joint Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft project.

Under the FGFA programme, the IAF plans on inducting 220 to 250 of the advanced Russian fighters 2022 onwards, but in recent weeks its concern has mounted over India's share of work in the project following revelations that this is no more than 15 per cent. This, despite India having been promised greater technological participation.

'At the moment it (the FGFA) is not very much in favour of Indian development and we are flagging it through the government,' Deputy Air Chief Air Marshal S Kumar said in New Delhi on October 17. 'It should be much more focused towards indigenous development capability, he stated.

Dangerous Donations

Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press
LONDON — Muslims this week are celebrating Id al-Adha, a religious holiday marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage and commemorating Abraham’s obedience to God. Those who can afford to do so mark the occasion by sacrificing a goat, cow or camel.

The festival seeks to engender unity across the global Muslim community and promote philanthropy, as the meat from sacrificial animals is usually donated to the poor. But in Pakistan, the holiday often drives conflict.

Most Pakistani families donate the hides of sacrificial animals to charitable organizations, who then sell them to local tanneries for about $45 each. Shaukat Khanum Memorial, a cancer hospital founded by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, has collected this week about 40,000 hides from across the country.

But political parties, extremist organizations and criminal gangs have all gotten into the lucrative Id al-Adha trade and compete fiercely to collect the donations. The hides provide half the annual requirement of the country’s leather industry, and generate more than a billion rupees during the festival in the port city of Karachi alone.

Violence erupts when competing groups snatch hides from each other, or try to collect donations in a rival party’s turf. In previous years, people have been killed in gun battles over hides. The problem is particularly acute in Karachi, the country’s financial capital, where political parties and criminal gangs also routinely clash over land and the proceeds from extortion rackets.

Tensions start to rise a few days before the holiday. While families throng markets to select the best goat or cow they can afford — and children delight at the sight of livestock adorned with bells, ribbons and henna — political parties and extremist organizations start asking for hide donations. These groups set up stalls, use loudspeakers and slather city walls with graffiti calling for hides. I remember as a child walking through the markets with my parents, the festive music drowned out by strident announcements listing locations where people could drop off hides.

Extremist organizations especially try to cash in on the trade. Many solicit donations under false pretenses, pretending to be Islamic charities: half of the 24 entities that sought permission to collect hides in the capital city of Islamabad this year turned out to be fronts for other organizations.

Political parties are also in on the game: On the morning of the festival, party workers stalk the streets of residential areas, monitoring sacrifices and scheduling the collection of hides to ensure they get the maximum haul. Residents who wish to donate hides to charities of their choice, rather than local parties, are often compelled to perform the sacrifice outside their neighborhood to avoid being harassed or coerced. In areas where multiple groups vie for power, party workers go door-to-door or drive through in trucks bearing party flags.

‘Some people in Pak feel China still thinks like it did in ‘60s, ‘70s. It has moved on... In recent years, it has only advised good ties with India’

Express News Service : Sun Oct 20 2013

Pakistan's ex-Ambassador to US Husain Haqqani speaks about the battle for Pakistan. (IE Photo: Ravi Kanojia)

In this Idea Exchange, foremost Pakistani expert and Pakistan's ex-Ambassador to US Husain Haqqani speaks about the battle for the heart and soul of Pakistan, and why he believes jehadi ideology has to and will lose. The session was moderated by Associate Editor Y P Rajesh.

Y P Rajesh: You are one of the foremost experts on Pakistan. You have worn many hats, been a journalist, an academic, diplomat, advisor to four Pakistani prime ministers, and an author. And you've just written another book, Magnificent Delusions.

Thank you very much. I expect most of your questions to be about Pakistan-India relations and US-Pakistan relations, but I would like to draw you all out. I'm not as concerned about the foreign policy aspects of Pakistan as the direction Pakistan is taking or might take as a nation... If you're adding new young people to the market and don't have enough jobs, it's a problem. In fact, our median age is one year less than yours. In terms of growth, our economy is not growing. Jehadism is not enough for a nation to move forward in the 21st century; nor is a culture of grievance. Pakistanis need to worry about doing something other than having young people burn the flag of some country or the other.

Magnificent Delusions is mainly about US-Pakistan relations. I write about delusions on both sides, and how the US-Pakistan relationship in some ways has undermined Pakistan's ability to think inward.

My concern has always been how to make sure that Pakistanis are part of the 21st century and not living in some dream world of the 7th or 8th century. Pakistan's raison d'etre shouldn't be some abstract ideology, it should be the prosperity of our people.

I'm also here because I'm working at a think tank in Washington DC called the Hudson Institute which has an initiative called 'India, its neighbours and globalisation'. Is this region the outlier in globalisation? Are our problems catching up and holding us back? Are we spending too much energy on our little quarrels? We've had a good sprint, but we've kind of run out of breath as a region.

Y P Rajesh: There have been several incidents recently across the Line of Control, with the ceasefire being violated possibly by both sides. These happened in the run-up to talks between the two prime ministers in New York. One school of thought says that the Pakistani army is trying to hamper the peace process. Do you agree?

It's not fair to blame the army alone. The Pakistani military has made a mistake in the past by endorsing jehadis, but it's not about the military making an institutional decision that there will be no relations between India and Pakistan. In fact, the way the jehadis see the world, they would like a war between India and Pakistan because they are basically nihilists. Now, the Pakistani state made the mistake of bolstering them, but in the heart of hearts, no jehadi really likes the Pakistani state as it exists either. They would rather that the whole structure crumbled so that they could build it again.

US quietly releasing $1.6bn in Pakistan assistance

Oct 19, 2013

The US has quietly decided to release more than $1.6billion in military and economic aid to Pakistan.(AP Photo)

WASHINGTON: The US has quietly decided to release more than $1.6billion in military and economic aid to Pakistan that was suspended when relations between the two countries disintegrated over the covert raid that killed Osama bin Laden and deadly US air strikes against Pakistani soldiers.

Officials and congressional aides said ties have improved enough to allow the money to flow again.

American and NATO supply routes to Afghanistan are open. Controversial US drone strikes are down. The US and Pakistan recently announced the restart of their "strategic dialogue" after a long pause. Pakistan's new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, is traveling to Washington for talks this coming week with President Barack Obama.

But in a summer dominated by foreign policy debates over the coup in Egypt and chemical weapons attacks in Syria, the US hasn't promoted its revamped aid relationship with Pakistan. Neither has Pakistan.

The silence reflects the lingering mutual suspicions between the two.

The Pakistanis do not like being seen as dependent on their heavy-handed partners. The Americans are uncomfortable highlighting the billions provided to a government that is plagued by corruption and perceived as often duplicitous in fighting terrorism.

Congress has cleared most of the money, which should start moving early next year, officials and congressional aides said.

Over three weeks in July and August, the State Department and the US Agency for International Development informed Congress that it planned to restart a wide range of assistance, mostly dedicated to helping Pakistan fight terrorism. The US sees that effort sees as essential as it withdraws troops from neighboring Afghanistan next year and tries to leave a stable government behind.

Other funds focus on a range of items, including help for Pakistani law enforcement and a multibillion-dollar dam in disputed territory.

US-Pakistani relations have weathered numerous crises in recent years. There was a months-long legal battle over a CIA contractor who killed two Pakistanis, in addition to the fallout from bin Laden's killing in the Pakistani military town of Abbottabad in May 2011. The Pakistani government was outraged that it received no advance warning of the Navy SEAL raid on bin Laden's compound.

Adding to the mistrust, the US mistakenly killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers in November 2011. Islamabad responded by shutting land supply routes for troops in Afghanistan until it received a US apology seven months later.

The State Department told Congress that the US hadn't conducted any significant military financing for Pakistan since the "challenging and rapidly changing period of US-Pakistan relations" in 2011 and 2012. The department stressed the importance now of enhancing Pakistan's anti-terrorism capabilities through better communications, night vision capabilities, maritime security and precision striking with F16 fighter jets.