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Thursday, September 10, 2009


All former Members of Parliament who have served Lok Sabha for any period are now entitled to pension with effect from 9th January, 2004. Entitled former Members of Parliament, who have not applied for pension so far, may apply for the same. Application forms are available in MSA Branch, Lok Sabha Secretariat, Room No. 405, Parliament House Annexe, New Delhi.

NDC Nomination


Rajeev Ranjan Kumar, Commandant, CRPF, RAF, Delhi, has been nominated for 50th NDC Course at National Defence College, New Delhi commencing from 4th January, 2010



Military As A Career: A Self Assessment Tool is a R&D endeavor from Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) which will help the youth to do a self-assessment on the web and know their potentiality to become an Officer in the Indian Armed Forces. The tool does not dissuade anybody from applying to Armed Forces except for giving an indication towards the candidate's potentiality for the job. The process would help prospective applicants to make up their mind for choosing the right career.



TIME TO USE RTI : MPs' bill for 3 months in Samrat Hotel: Rs 3.7cr

NEW DELHI: It is not just foreign minister S M Krishna and his MoS Shashi Tharoor who are running bills in hotels.

Though the ministers said they were footing their bills, newly-elected MPs have run up expenses amounting to Rs 3.71 crore for their stay in Samrat Hotel in the past three months alone. And in their case it is the government making the payments.

In response to an RTI query filed by activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal, government-owned ITDC has admitted that between May and July 2009, about 74 MPs stayed at the hotel.

Their room rent alone totalled Rs 3.71 crore. The tab will be picked up by the directorate of estates, urban development ministry, according to the hospitality major.

Other expenses like food and perks including gymnasium, are additional and must be paid by the MP. The off-season tariff for a deluxe or super-deluxe room in Samrat is pegged at Rs 8,000-9,000 but the MPs have been given a discounted rate of Rs 6,000 per room per night.

Incidentally, the move to accommodate MPs in state-run hotels has been one of the primary reasons why ITDC-run properties have traditionally been incurring losses. Despite the fact that one arm of the government must pay for the other, blocking over 70 of the 255 rooms in a hotel ensures that the deficit continues.

When asked why MPs continued to stay in hotels, Lok Sabha house committee chairman Jai Prakash Agarwal said, "We have completed the allotment process. Sometimes there is a delay in the MPs shifting because the previous occupant has not vacated the flat or the CPWD has been tasked with some repair and maintenance."

The situation is not very different at the Hotel Ashok and Janpath either. Ex-MPs Govinda, Dharmendra have contributed to an outstanding bill of Rs 1.3 crore.


Days after millions of Central government employees got second installment of arrears arising from implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission, they are set to get more money.

The Cabinet on Thursday is expected to take a decision to increase dearness allowance by 5 per cent from July 1, 2009.

If cleared, around 5 million employees and 3.8 million pensioners will benefit. It will cause an additional burden of approximately Rs 2,600 crore (Rs 260 billion) till December 2009.

In February, the government had raised the DA by 6 per cent with a total outgo of Rs 5,160 crore for the year beginning January 2009.

The proposal has come at the time when the Finance Ministry has asked all Central government ministries to cut its non-plan expenditure by 15 per cent to combat rising fiscal deficit.

Home loans

A proposal to provide interest subvention of 1 per cent on home loans up to Rs 10 lakh is also expected to be taken up. The move is aimed at giving stimulus to the real estate sector.

Armymen ransack medical student's hostel over ragging

Indore: About 150 armymen belonging to the Infantry School, were booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)for allegedly creating ruckus and ransacking the hostel of Sri Aurobindo Institute of Medical Science (SAIMS).
The incident occurred on the night of September 7, 2009, after a kin of an armyman residing in the hostel was ragged. The armymen were booked for rioting, creating hurdles in official work and armed dacoity, Banganga Police Station In-charge R L Bhadoria said.
Bhadoria said that the police had already arrested two college students for assaulting the armymans' kin, but still the army personnel retaliated in a violent manner. When police intervened, one of them even tried to snatch the mobile phone from a senior police officer.
Inspector General of Police (IG) Indore Range, Sanjay Rana told PTI that he would be taking up the issue with defence ministry through the state government as such incidents are not good for the army.
Rana said that police is in touch with senior army officers on the issue and added that they have also launched a full scale investigation into the incident.
Incidences of disputes between young army officers and local police and citizens have taken place on number of occasions in the past. Following which several cases were registered against army personnel in different police stations of the city. Army officials have assured the police to extend all possible cooperation in the probe.

Pak gave Iran nuke aid: AQ

Washington, Sept. 9: Rogue Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, father of its nuclear weapons, now admits Islamabad had helped with Iran’s nuclear programme.
Mr Khan told Pakistan’s Aaj TV in an interview that he and other senior Pakistani officials guided Iran to a network of suppliers to advance its covert nuclear programme years ago.
They were also instrumental in Tehran’s covert purchases of equipment through Pakistan’s Dubai suppliers, he said, in the first admission of official Pakistani support for Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
This was done, he explained, so that the two countries could emerge as a "strong bloc", resist international pressure and "neutralise" Israel’s power.
Mr Khan said Sri Lankan Muslims based in Dubai were suppliers of nuclear material and equipment to Pakistan, Iran and Libya. "The Iranian officials would meet (suppliers) them in Dubai. We told them the suppliers were very reliable."
This will further expose Pakistani duplicity as Iran faces tougher international sanctions within weeks over its nuclear programme.

Civil-military battle at Delhi Gym

ept. 9: The Indian Air Force lobby appears pitted against the powerful civilian bureaucracy for the post of president of New Delhi’s prestigious Delhi Gymkhana Club. The club’s presidential election is due to be held on the last Saturday of the month, September 26, and once again there’s a controversy brewing.
The bureaucratic lobby is agitated over a "breach of convention" — they say that according to convention the president’s post should rotate between the armed forces and the civil services every two years, and it’s their "turn" this time. The armed forces and the bureaucracy, serving and retired, dominate the club’s membership.
This year’s contest is expected to be between the current president, Air Marshal P.S. Ahluwalia (Retd), who is seeking re-election, and a senior bureaucrat, Mr Prakash Chandra of the Indian Revenue Service.
Air Marshal Ahluwalia, who earlier retired as chief of the New Delhi-based Western Air Command, had become president last year and wants to continue. The club has been witnessing controversies over its presidential election for the past two years, with the Army lobby pitted against the Air Force officers. Adding another twist is the fact that a substantial section of the Army lobby, which is upset with Air Marshal Ahluwalia, could end up supporting his civilian rival as a mark of protest.
"The convention has been that every two years, the post of president is rotated between the armed services and civilians. Two years ago, outgoing Army Chief Gen. J.J. Singh was elected and last year it was Air Marshal Ahluwalia. Now the military lobby should step aside and allow the smooth election of a civilian president," said a civilian member of the club who sought anonymity. Other members said that while such a convention did exist, it had not always been followed. A senior retired Army officer said, however, that as per convention Air Marshal Ahluwalia should step aside.
The air marshal’s supporters, on the other hand, claim that there is another convention that a sitting president is allowed to contest a second term. "Air Marshal Ahluwalia is contesting for a second term. That does not violate any convention. If he had served two terms, he would not have contested again." They also draw attention to the fact that he had "gracefully withdrawn" from the contest two years ago in order to not contest against Gen. Singh, then still the serving Army Chief. Last year, the air marshal contested again and won, defeating Lt. Gen. Rajender Singh, who was then the Army’s director-general of infantry.

Pak Cabinet may get final war say

Sept. 9: Pakistan’s PPP-led government is planning legislation that would prevent any Kargil-like "misadventure" by requiring Cabinet approval for any war, sources said. The Kargil war was launched unilaterally in 1999 by then Army Chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf despite the reservations of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Gen. Musharraf toppled Mr Sharif’s government and seized power later that year.

Martyr gets a tearful send-off

He was a born soldier. Half his life he wore the uniform. On Wednesday, he attained martyrdom leading from the front at the age of 34 after serving the mother nation for a little over 10 years.

Joining Indian Army was his childhood dream. He slogged before earning his olives in September 1999. And when the gallant soldier, Major Akash Singh Sambayal of 5 Maratha Light Infantry, embarked on his final journey he was accorded a tearful adieu by a large number of people from different walks of life.

The last rites were performed with full military honours. Several senior Army officers of the Northern command including GoC 16 corps Lt Gen RK Swamy paid tributes to the brave soldier.

Major Akash is survived by his wife Deepti Sambayal and two children Khusi (3) and Tejas (2). As close relatives and family friends started assembling in the house of Major Akash, his daughter greeted them with an innocent smile on her face. She was repeatedly heard telling few close relatives that his father has killed few ‘bad men’ in Poonch and he is undergoing treatment in a hospital. “Papa is going to come home soon,”she kept saying without realising that her father had arrived draped in Indian Tricolor and was readied for final rites. Akash had recently joined duty after a long holiday with family in Jammu.

Ironically, none of the Ministers or representative of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah could spare time to attend the cremation ceremony of son of the soil or consoled family members of the brave soldier.

Politicians in Jammu & Kashmir, otherwise, frequently visit families of militants and attend funeral processions and sympathise with them by extending healing touch and fat compensation cheques.

Barring lone BJP legislator Chaman Lal Gupta and veteran Congress leader Mangat Ram Sharma, none of Ministers of Omar Abdullah’s Cabinet or senior officer of the Jammu district attended the cremation. SSP Jammu and SP Headquarters and few other policemen paid their tributes and attended the cremation ceremony.

Major Akash attained martyrdom in the wee hours of Wednesday when a group of heavily armed militants made an attempt to infiltrate inside the Indian territory in Mendhar sector of frontier Poonch district.

Before making the supreme sacrifice Major Akash gunned down two militants while leading the attack from the front. He received bullet injuries on the side of his abdomen while he was tracking down another militant.

“The brave officer singlehandedly killed two militants and foiled an infiltration bid by a group of heavily armed militants in Sunegali area of Medhar sector in frontier Poonch district in the wee hours of Wednesday. We have lost a very gallant soldier,” Brigadier Akhil Dixit of 16 corps headquarter said after paying tributes to the martyr at the Shantighat cremation ground.

His school time friend Avdesh Raina paid silent homage to his soul mate by narrating interesting stories highlighting the personality of the brave officer.

Beware of the Red dragon

There is no doubt that India is back on China’s radar. The recent Chinese incursion into Ladakh preceded by a Chinese strategist advocating the break-up of India into several small states should be enough reason for our Government to review its strategic relations with Beijing in order to avert a repetition of 1962.

When both India and China were discussing border issues in the 13th round of the Sino-Indian border talks last month, an article appeared on a Chinese news portal which was captioned “If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up”.

On reading the article one could easily gauge that it would have definitely been approved by the Chinese Government before being published. Keeping this in mind one can easily analyse the strategic game that China is playing vis-à-vis India, which quite often comes to the fore at international fora where Beijing is not shy of declaring its commitment to ‘peace’ and ‘stability’ in South Asia. It is this that confirms the real motive behind weakening India, either internally or by continuously supporting its enemies.

The article vividly describes the mindset of the Chinese think-tank. China has traditionally spoken in two voices. When it comes to diplomatic talks with India, the Chinese show a great amount of ‘understanding’. But they never pass up an opportunity to pour scorn on India.

It is in China’s interest to destablise India by supporting the separatist forces in the North-East and in Jammu & Kashmir. A separatist group like the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) in Assam, can easily be helped by the Chinese to push for an independent state. Hence, the article needs to be taken seriously and India must take necessary steps to strengthen its security along the Indo-China border. While India spends about $ 30 billion annually on defence, China spends at least thrice as much. This huge gap must diminish.

China has been building up its naval presence by constructing ports from Sittwe in Burma to Hambantotta in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan. It plan’s to strategically encircle India from the all fronts.

Chief of Indian Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta recently set off a storm when he said that India cannot match China militarily. His voice must not be ignored and adequate steps taken to meet any challenge that China has planned for us.

Ultras attack Sopore police station, CRPF camp Three security personnel among 4 hurt

Militants fired a rifle grenade at Sopore police station today, injuring three security personnel and a civilian.
Police sources said two CRPF personnel from 179 Battalion Sandeep and Antool, police constable Mohammad Rafiq and a civilian, Mohammad Shafi, were hit by splinters. The grenade landed on the roof of the police station, causing some damage to the building, the police said.
The injured were rushed to a nearby sub-district hospital from where Shafi and constable Rafiq were referred to Srinagar as their condition was stated to be "critical", sources said.
Sopore police station, about 55 km from here, in Baramulla district has been attacked by militants a number of times as the area is particularly hostile to the security forces and sympathetic to militants.
Militants lobbed a grenade at the headquarters of 49 Battalion of the CRPF at Balgarden in Srinagar today. The explosive, however, went off outside the camp and did not cause harm to anybody. No militant outfit has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

IS ANYBODY READING : A stray bullet sneaked through an opening in officer’s bullet-proof vest

Despite wearing a bullet-proof vest, an Army Major lost his life while foiling an infiltration bid from across the border in the Mendhar sector of Poonch district last midnight. Two militants were also killed in the encounter, while two others managed to escape.
An open space on the side of the bullet-proof vest that Major Akash Singh of 5 Maratha Light Infantry was wearing proved fatal as a stray bullet sneaked through that space and pierced through his body. This was the 28th infiltration bid from the Pakistan side this year.
A bullet sneaked through a small opening on the side of the vest killing the 34-year-old valiant Army officer, but not before he had shot dead two militants and foiled the infiltration bid, said Brigadier General Staff 16 corps, Brig Gurdeep Singh. The Army is pressing for new design bullet-proof vests that besides covering the open spaces on the sides of the vests would be lighter as well.
A senior Army officer said new vests to prevent casualties in such a freak manner were being acquired.
The encounter took place between the LoC and the fencing in the Sunegali area, 5 km from Mendhar town, Brig Gurdeep Singh said.
This was the second Army casualty this month in cross-border firing and encounter with militants. An Army jawan was killed in Poonch district when the Pakistani troops had resorted to unprovoked firing.
Lt Col Biplab Nath, Defence PRO, said the encounter took place last midnight when three or four terrorists attempted to cross over to the Indian side during night.
He said the martyred officer was an alumni of the Officers Training Academy, Chennai, and was commissioned into 5 Maratha Light Infantry on September 4, 1999. He had rendered 10 years of meritorious service.
In his distinguished career, the officer had served in the terrorist-infested areas in the state and the Northeast. He belonged to Shiv Nagar, Jammu. He is survived by his wife, four-year-old daughter Khushi and two-year-old son Manu.
Major Akash’s father is a retired Deputy Director from the state Cooperative Department. Of the five sons, he was the only one serving in the defence forces. He was cremated with full military honours in Shiv Nagar here this evening.

University teachers call off strike

The Haryana University teachers today called off their fifteen-day-old strike following an assurance from Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to give due benefits to teachers as per the UGC recommendations.
The decision to call off the strike was taken at a meeting of the coordination committee of Haryana universities (ad hoc), representing teachers’ associations of Kurukshetra University, MDU, Rohtak, Guru Jambheshwar University, Hisar, Ch Devi Lal University, Sirsa, CCSHAU, Hisar, and DBCR University of Science and Technology, Murthal, with Hooda at his residence in New Delhi.
A number of issues like re-designation of readers/lecturers (selection grade) as associate professors, upgrade of 10 per cent posts of professors to higher AGP (academic grade pay) of Rs 12,000, minimum entry level pay for readers and professors directly recruited after January 1, 2006, incentives for PhD/MTech/MPhil, special allowance of Rs 5,000 per month for the Vice-Chancellors were discussed during the meeting in a cordial atmosphere and Hooda assured that all due benefits as per the UGC recommendations would be given to them, convener of the coordination committee Prof NS Kaushal said.
He further mentioned that all other pending issues, including raising the age of superannuation, would be decided by the committee already constituted for the purpose after due consultation with representatives from different teachers’ associations.
The committee unanimously resolved that the loss of teaching due to agitation would be compensated by taking extra classes and academic activities would be resumed immediately.
ROHTAK: The two-week-old strike by the teachers of Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) was called off on Wednesday after the remaining section of the teachers announced to suspend their agitation and return to work immediately.
The move came after a meeting of a teachers’ delegation with the Chief Minister, who has assured of a positive action regarding their demands of proper revision in the pay scales as per the provisions of the MHRD notification.
The move also came after the story, which was carried out by The Tribune on Wednesday, in which the strike had been described as illegal and the Vice-Chancellor of the varsity had warned to initiate action against those teachers who fail to return to work soon.
Earlier, a meeting of agitating teachers was held on Wednesday morning on the campus to discuss the present scenario and the assurance given by the Chief Minister and his OSD regarding their demands.
According to Professor Rajinder Chaudhary, convener of the Action Committee of the MDUTA, the OSD responded to the delegation on a positive note and said the government would seriously look into these aspects and on receiving clarifications from the MHRD/UGC/Election Commission, wherever appropriate, or otherwise, would take a suitable remedial action to provide relief to teachers.
He said the teachers later endorsed the common decision of all university teachers’ associations of Haryana to suspend the agitation. It was also decided that the seven-member action committee would continue to liaise with other teachers’ associations of universities of Haryana over pending issues. He claimed that the teachers had also decided to start the process of conducting annual MDUTA elections at the earliest since the previous union had already completed its term.
In another development, secretary, MDUTA, Dr Subhash Sharma and members of the executive committee of MDUTA, Dr Nikhilesh Kumar and Dr Rajendra Sharma, resigned from the EC of the MDUTA alleging that they were misled in the meeting held on September 8 about the developments regarding the agitation.
HISAR: The striking teachers of the Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology on Wednesday called off their 15-day-old strike saying that it has received a “concrete assurance” from the Chief Minister regarding the implementation of new scales.
GJUTA president Rajesh Lohchab said the teachers would take extra classes during the winter break to compensate for students’ studies.


Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor shakes hand with a member of the Engineer’s All-Women Officers Expedition to Siachen Glacier at South Block in New Delhi On Wednesday.
Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Calling China's Bluff

The recent remarks of the outgoing Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, where he ascribed China's economic and military prowess as beyond India's reach, is misplaced and exaggerated given China's present and evolving tangible and intangible assets.

In fact, the very endurance of the rise of China is under question on various counts.
By all indications, China is a paranoid nation. It is so apprehensive about economic competition from India that it allowed some of its firms to produce fake Indian drugs and label them 'Made in India' for export, especially to African countries.

Only a paranoid country transfers critical strategic assets like missiles and nuclear technology and wherewithal to another country in pursuit of its security and strategic ambitions. Pakistan and North Korea are two such nuclear proxies of China. The creation of third nuclear proxy state, Myanmar, appears to be imminent. There are analysts who maintain that 'Pakistan's nuclear programme' should correctly be called 'China's nuclear programme in Pakistan.'

China is so-ill reputed for its proliferation activities that one is compelled to believe that had it not been for its own problems in the Xinjiang region, it would have not hesitated to provide nuclear weapons or technology to the Taliban or the Al-Qaeda.

A delinquent country, which believes in proliferation, cannot aspire to be a respectable entity in the international arena.

China's internal situation is explosive not only in terms of the ethnic unrest in Xinjiang and Tibet, but in the Chinese hinterland, where there is a complete media blackout and no foreigners are allowed. If China is truly a great, unified and prosperous country, then why is it so opaque? Why does it block internet sites? Why does it gag the press, and fudge figures about its economy? Why the inability to manufacture world-class conventional weapons such as tanks, aircraft, destroyers and submarines?

The large imports of arms from Russia in the recent years are also reflective of its technological inadequacies. When the Chinese leaders talk of 'pockets of excellence', it is a tacit admission that their scientific and technological development is not well rounded.

Many scholars credit ancient China with the invention of the compass, maps and gunpowder. Such pioneering inventions and innovations usher in revolutions in military spheres, described as a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA).

Contemporary China has no such distinctions or achievements in military technology. It is only catching up with the inexorable technological agenda set by the western countries. Technological inventions and innovations cannot be a product of a fiat or diktat. They evolve under a given political, social and economic environment. Countries, which try to reach up to the shifting benchmark and rely on reverse technologies, can at best be second- best. China's manned space flight in October 2003 came more than 40 years after the erstwhile USSR and the US achieved it.

Chinese products and goods that once threatened to swamp the world markets, failed to inspire confidence because of their doubtful quality and durability. Most of the countries that have imported weapons and equipment from China are bedeviled with their low serviceability rate.

Recently a Chinese strategic commentator suggested that China should balkanize India into 26 parts. The fact of the matter is that barring the border skirmish with newly independent India in 1962, China has been a humiliated empire, never winning any military engagement in its history.

In 1850, Tsarist troops had invaded Manchuria. In 1864, France had colonized Cochin China (Southern Vietnam). In 1884-85, Britain took Burma and the Russians penetrated into Chinese Turkestan (modern day Xinjiang-Uygur autonomous region). In 1894-95, Japan defeated China and forced it to cede Taiwan and Penghu Island. The British sought and got further territorial concessions, like the 99 years lease of Hong Kong in 1898.

The foreign settlements in China had become sovereign pockets of territories with a menacing presence of warships and gunboats. Internally too, China was bleeding in the later half of 19th century. The Taiping Revolution, which was led by Hong Xiu Quan and lasted for 14 years (1851-64), claimed 30 million lives. Such was the debilitation of China that the Manchu ruler had to seek the assistance of British and French forces to crush the revolution.

The story of military humiliations of China, which began with the first Anglo-Chinese War, better known as Opium War (1839-1842), continued well into the first half of 20th century i.e. till World War-II. The allied expedition during the Boxer Revolution in 1900 in China in which many western missionary facilities were burnt and thousands of Chinese Christians were killed, had left China comprehensively defeated.

In 1932, Japan had annexed Manchuria, which finally resulted in a full-scale war in 1937 which lasted till the end of World War-II. China's initiation of war against Vietnam in 1978 speciously on the plea “to teach it a lesson” turned out to be a miscalculated adventure.

Historically, every 'ism' in China at some point or the other has fallen victim to disaffection, corruption, cronyism, and ideological degeneration. These were invariably followed by attempts at sweeping reforms.

In 1898, there was a bold attempt by Chinese Emperor Guangxu to root out corruption and introduce fundamental changes in broad range of activities and areas like academics, civil services exam system, agriculture and industry. The life of this reform process was only a 100 days, and it is therefore referred to as the “100 Days Reform”. It failed because of the opposition from conservatives and gradualists. This has strong resonance during the present day reform and modernization period availing in China.

However in the current period, the opposition has been better neutralized, as the reform process has yielded speciously encouraging results. If it were to fail, communism may be become an ineffective glue, as in the case of erstwhile USSR.

The same strategic commentator who suggested that China should Balkanise India also noted that Hinduism cannot unify India. India is a pluralistic country, where all religions are practiced with complete freedom. It has therefore thrived as an adaptable and flexible civilization. It is the nations which try and rob religion from their people which eventually breakup. This explains the paranoia of the Chinese authorities with the spiritual movement 'Falun Gong'.

But despite all its harsh measures, China has not been able to kill the religious and spiritual spirit of its citizens, especially in Tibet and Xinjiang.

A global power must have a powerful navy with the force projection capability in at least two oceans. China is far from it. The superiority of the overall arms inventory of China vis-Ã -vis India is not reckoned to be anywhere near formidable when considered in qualitative and deployment terms.

For example, on paper the Chinese Navy inventory appears to be formidable. But more than 70 percent of it is of average or poor quality. The major chunk of the submarines belong to the Romeo class, whose endurance is limited and are only suitable for coastal defence.

What matters is the strength China can bring to bear against India. Its threat from east is rather precarious given the US direct and indirect presence in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. That is the reason it is paranoid about the growing military assertiveness of Japan and is loathe to see a united Korea, even as North Koreans are enslaved and starved by hereditary dictators in the name of communism.

Given these robust external threats and internal contradictions, Beijing would do well to indulge in some deep introspection.

Indian Navy to induct MiG-29 Ks by Oct

NEW DELHI: The first four ship-borne Russian-made Mig-29 K/KUB fighter jets, purchased for the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, will be inducted in the Indian Navy by October, officials here said.

Pilot training for the squadron, to be named Black Panther, were completed in the US and Russia, said a senior Indian Navy official. The jets were purchased by the Indian Navy as part of the $740 million contract signed in January 2004 for Admiral Gorshkov, to be commissioned as INS Vikramaditya in the navy.

"The pilots were sent to US for deck landing training and the QFIs (qualified flying instructors) to Russia for conversion flying (for converting to different aircraft). The pilots will do the conversion flying in Goa under the supervision of QFIs," the official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Four to five batches comprising four pilots each had gone to the US for the deck landing training. As the 45,000-tonne Kiev class aircraft carrier Gorshkov is scheduled to be inducted in service only by 2011 after its refurbishment, the aircraft will be based on shore.

The navy will be getting 12 MiG 29K single-seater aircraft and four MiG 29KUB double-seater trainer aircraft in flyaway condition. The trainer version is similar to the single-seater but with a slightly reduced operational range. The contract also stipulates the procurement of hardware for pilot training and aircraft maintenance, including flight simulators, and interactive ground and sea-based training systems.

The MiG 29K have arrestor gear and stronger landing gear for carrier landings, folding wings and rust proofing to reduce corrosion from salt water. Features of the aircraft include a fully digitised glass cockpit, improved engine protection against ingestion of foreign particles (like birds), a multi-mode radar and increased range due to increase in internal fuel capacity.

The MiG-29K multi-role carrier-based fighter is designed to air cover the ship grouping, gain air superiority and destroy sea surface and ground targets with guided high-precision weapons, day and night, in any weather.

The aircraft, the first bought by the navy after the Sea Harriers, will also be capable of playing the role of an air refueller. The contract with MiG will ensure that the navy gets the entire spectrum of services, including a full mission simulator.

Air Chief inaugurates Tele-Presence System

NEW DELHI - Indian Air Force took another significant step in its quest for acquiring Network Centric Capabilities when Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal PV Naik inaugurated the ‘Tele-Presence System’ under the Air Force Network (AFNET) project today.
This system facilitates lifelike experience between two distant sites for holding operational discussions that results in saving crucial time, fatigue and cost.
During the Tele-Presence session, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik advocated the use of the system extensively for operational and other procurement and training activities in order to cut down costs in economically tough times.
The Air Chief congratulated the AF Net team for achieving yet another milestone.
From the Bangalore site, this conference was attended by Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command.
The system uses high definition cameras, spatial audio and calibrated acoustic systems for providing real-life experience which cannot be achieved by other video conferencing systems.
Tele-Presence system rides over IAF’s state-of-the-art IP/MPLS network providing adequate reliability and security.

Tibet: wedge or link? —George Yeo

Tibet is both an opportunity and an issue. The economic opportunity is obvious, but rapid development has brought about great stress to the Tibetan way of life. This complicates bilateral relations between China and India

The encounter of China and India in this century will change the world. For thousands of years, the two civilisations were separated by the high mountains of Tibet. Except for a brief war in 1962, there were no major conflicts between them.

Together, they make up more than a third of the world’s population and will supply much of the talent for global development in this century. The concentration of Chinese and Indian talent in Silicon Valley foreshadows what is coming. How China and India relate to each other in the coming decades will affect everyone.

Tibet is changing from being a barrier to a region linking China and India together. Today, there are good roads connecting Tibet to Xinjiang, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan. Three years ago, an amazing thousand-kilometre railroad from Golmud in Qinghai to Lhasa in Tibet was opened. Eighty percent of it is over 4000 meters in altitude; 50 percent on permafrost. When first proposed, many foreign engineers said that it could not be built.

Economically, there is much to be gained by improving road and rail links between Tibet and South Asia. Indeed, the Chinese have suggested that Lhasa and Calcutta be linked by rail.

The Indian government is understandably apprehensive about moving too quickly. Scars of the 1962 War are still raw in India. When the Indian Army moved into then East Pakistan in December 1971, an important factor it considered was the winter snow preventing the Chinese Army from interfering through the mountain passes. Thus, the reopening of the 4400-meter-high Nathu La Pass in July 2006 was politically significant. As part of it, China recognised India’s ownership of Sikkim. Hundreds of kilometres of fibre-optic cables have been laid in the past year from Yadong in Tibet to Siliguri in West Bengal with an initial capacity of 20 gigabytes per second.

Trade between China and India has grown rapidly in the last ten years. China has already become India’s biggest trading partner. And this is only the beginning. Common economic interests are driving the two countries into closer political cooperation both bilaterally and internationally.

Tibet is both an opportunity and an issue. The economic opportunity is obvious, but rapid development has brought about great stress to the Tibetan way of life. This complicates bilateral relations between China and India.

Over long years, Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhism evolved in response to the challenges of extreme physical conditions at high altitudes, developing in the process a deep spirituality.

However, old Tibet should not be romanticised. It was not Shangri-La. The political economy was based on the feudal domination of monasteries over rural serfs. In 1951, Mao Zedong’s government negotiated the ‘peaceful liberation’ of Tibet with the local Tibetan government, guaranteeing that Beijing would not force changes to the feudal political economy of Tibet.

But the Chinese revolution had its own internal dynamic. By the mid-1950s, land reforms had begun in Tibetan-inhabited areas outside Tibet. Monastic lands were seized and redistributed to peasants. These contributed to the Tibetan rebellion of 1959. While the Dalai Lama fled to India, the Panchen Lama remained in China and worked within the system, but not always effectively. In 1962, he sent a letter to Beijing expressing Tibetan grievances. During the Cultural Revolution, Tibetan youths, following Chinese youths in other parts of the country, engaged in an orgy of destruction.

Since then, as in the rest of China, monasteries and temples have been restored or rebuilt, often to a state better than what they were before, although some precious artefacts were lost forever. Without land and serfs, these places can only be sustained with the patronage of the Chinese state.

The marriage of Tang Princess Wencheng to Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century began a complex relationship between Tibet and Imperial China which ebbed and flowed with the rise and fall of Chinese dynasties. Mongol princes during the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty intervened on behalf of the Yellow Hat Gelugpa (the order of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama), making it the dominant sect in Tibet.

Because religious and political leadership was fused from the time of the 5th Dalai Lama, the appointment of high lamas often required the approval of the Emperor. This was certainly so during the Qing Dynasty. It was a practice carried into Republican and Communist China. Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang government approved the appointment of the 14th (present) Dalai Lama in 1940 and the 10th Panchen Lama in 1949. At the Forbidden City in Beijing today, the old buildings still carry inscriptions in the four main languages of the Qing Dynasty – Han, Manchu, Mongolian and Tibetan.

In the last 50 years, China devoted huge resources to the development of Tibet because of its strategic importance. Economic growth has been in the double digits in the last fifteen years. Social indicators like average life spans have shown remarkable improvement.

But, relative to Han Chinese, Tibetans lag behind especially in economic performance. This should not be surprising because an entrenched way of life cannot change quickly within a few decades. As in Singapore, the tensions which naturally arise when different ethnic and religious groups living side by side respond at different speeds to globalisation cannot be wished away; they simply have to be recognised and managed.

Education is clearly the key to the future. Pole-vaulting a medieval society to the 21st century is however never easy. At the Norbulinka Palace, the summer residence of the Dalai Lama, devotees still prostrate themselves before objects once used by him like his bed and sofa.

The 14th Dalai Lama is now 74 years old. In a recent TV interview, he said that he was born to accomplish certain tasks, and as those tasks were not completed, it was ‘logical’ that he would be reincarnated outside China. Many believe that ‘outside China’ means Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh where the 6th Dalai Lama came from, a Tibetan area controlled by India but claimed by China. This would greatly complicate the border demarcation between China and India. Beijing, of course, insists on the old rule that the appointment of high lamas must have its approval.

The 11th Panchen Lama is coming of age. When chosen as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, Beijing gave its approval but not the Dalai Lama. Six months ago, at the Second World Buddhist Forum in Wuxi, he surprised many people by giving his speech in English.

It may seem strange that the reincarnation of high lamas should be a subject of such intense interest today. That perhaps is a reflection of the past in the present and the importance of the China-India relationship. Looking ahead, however, Buddhism in Tibet will have to adjust to change as it has in other parts of Asia where it is enjoying a huge revival in many countries. Tibet is part of a much larger Asian drama that is changing the world. —YaleGlobal

China playing a bigger game

For reasons well-documented by history India’s relations with Pakistan have always drawn public and media attention on both sides of the border. Arguably, four wars and hundreds of confidence building measures later, Pakistan truly is one of India’s prime foreign policy and national security concerns and given its track record, so it ought to be. Between then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s confidence building bus journey to Lahore in 1999 and his successor Mr Manmohan Singh’s abject surrender to Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Sharm el-Sheikh on the Balochistan issue this July, lies a decade of deceptions, obfuscations, intrusions, terror attacks and denials by Pakistan. As the pendulum of opinion swings between the need to “engage” Pakistan and teaching that country a few lessons in good neighbourly conduct, the undeniable truth is India, not for once, can afford to let its guard down with Pakistan.

Despite Pakistan’s brazenness and the Manmohan Singh’s Government’s miserable failure to make that country accountable for repeated terror attacks on India, what inspires hope is the fact that each time the India-Pakistan face-off has turned into a conventional military conflict, India has emerged victorious, militarily and diplomatically. If at all, Pakistan has a humiliating history to look back at in this regard. There is, however, another neighbour with whom India has a deeply humiliating military past to remember, dating back to 1962. This neighbour, which has since aided and abetted Pakistan’s hostile designs on India including its nuclear weapons programme, cleverly staying away from a direct military confrontation again, is now making consistently disturbing noises on India’s northern and eastern borders. This needs to be discussed and debated as intensely, if not more, as India-Pakistan relations.

With Pakistan rapidly imploding and Barack Obama’s America directly involved in the region, it is apparent that China is gradually losing the leverage it has had since 1962 of using Pakistan to needle India. With the Chinese as uncertain as the rest of the world about who calls the shots in Pakistan — the Army, the Prime Minister or the President —Beijing no longer has a failsafe political interface with Islamabad. Too many players have now entered the Pakistani arena for any one country or entity to control or influence Islamabad. Accompanying this irretrievable unmaking and fragmentation of the Pakistani polity, therefore, is a disturbing trend in recent months: More than casual, in fact defiant, Chinese intrusions into Indian territory, on repeated occasions in Arunachal Pradesh and now in Ladakh.

While paranoia is best avoided at this juncture, the gradual unmaking of Pakistan and China’s recent border missives to India seem more than merely coincidental. Be it a navigational error or an undefined Line of Actual Control, India can ill-afford to dismiss Chinese intrusions as “routine” to be dealt with under a “standard mechanism” set up in a 2005 protocol wherein a flag meeting is to be called within 48 hours of any intrusion which then has to be investigated by the “guilty” party and a report sent back to the other country. It is perhaps India’s inexplicable lack of urgency that has emboldened China into outright denial of any territorial intrusion. In response to Indian Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor’s casual observation, therefore, that, “there have been several violations and one incursion by a Chinese helicopter in the past few months,” have come two official denials from Beijing in the space of a month.

Even if one were to dismiss the recent intrusions as routine or ignore them as innocuous games by a bunch of young Chinese soldiers thumbing their nose at India for adventurous relief from their boredom at the border posts, the fact is recent years have witnessed an intensification of China’s military modernisation as well as massive infrastructure development in the Tibet Autonomous Region. In fact, Gen Kapoor admitted last year that these developments “could impact our security in the long term.” Indeed, on a visit to TAR in 2007 one was astounded by the sheer scale of infrastructure development in the region, swank airports, a commanding rail network and impressive highways rolling up the mountains that can effortlessly ferry Chinese troops in a matter of hours to the Himalayan heights that stare down menacingly on our soldiers. However, simply carping about China’s infrastructure build-up or border incursions will not ease India’s problems on its northern frontier.

Admittedly, the Indian armed forces have duly acknowledged the ongoing Chinese moves along the border by intensifying border patrol along the country’s sensitive North-East. However, one must not be too hasty to infer from this development that there are chances of an India-China military face-off in the foreseeable future. The geopolitical make-up of the region and indeed of the world is significantly different from 1962. And so is the position India and China independently occupy on the global stage today.

For one, an aspiring world power like China can afford the temerity of a military aggression against India, a legitimate aspirant to a similar position, at a huge diplomatic cost globally. Two, India and China are emerging as the world’s fastest growing economic powerhouses, a historic opportunity neither country would want to fritter away by risking a military face-off. Three, both India’s and China’s equations with the United States will serve as a deterrent to any military misadventure. If India today enjoys strategic clout with the US, China has an economic card to play with the Americans. While neither would want to risk disturbing this balance by turning the region into a theatre of conventional war, the US, on its part too, cannot play one against the other. Added to this is the fact that for the first time since the disintegration of the USSR, China and India are credible options for redistributing the strategic weight long concentrated in the world’s sole superpower.

Why then is China resorting to its pre-1962 tactics of irritating India on the long-standing border dispute? The answer lies in the last reason cited for the unlikelihood of a military combat anytime soon. China has its eyes trained on a 2020 scenario when it hopes to assume a significant share of the strategic weight the US is likely to shed by then. And, India is a direct competitor, if not rival. Therefore, while not engaging in a full-blown military face-off that would erode its credibility as a global player, China is only seeking to remind India of the screws it can so easily tighten on the borders even after Pakistan has been rendered unemployable. This pressure-in-perpetuity Chinese game is what India urgently needs to apply its mind to.

Army Major, 2 militants killed on LoC in J&K

A MAJOR infiltration bid was foiled by alert Indian army troops in Sona Gali area of Mendhar in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir early morning on Wednesday (September 9). At least two militants and a young army Major belonging to 5-Maratha Light Infantry were killed in the gun battle, which ensued after troops guarding the Line of Control (LoC), challenged a group of ultras trying to sneak into the Indian side.

Sources said the group probably comprised five intruders who started firing on the security men as soon as they were asked to surrender. The retaliatory firing resulted in a prolonged gunfire, which continued for hours together resulting in the killing of two infiltrators and the army officer.

The bodies of the two militants were retrieved from the encounter site, whereas the body of the Jammu based major has been shifted to Military Hospital. A search operation has been launched in the nearby areas and security has been beefed up to track the three militants, two of whom are believed to be dead as per the intercepts.

As soon as the news of the death of Major Akash Singh, who hails from Jammu spread, there was a pall of gloom in the city. A large number of people made a beeline to offer their condolences to the bereaved family.

Major Singh is survived by a two-year old son and a three-year old daughter. His family members were distraught and shocked by the news of his sudden death but said that they were proud of their brave son's martyrdom.