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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Are the defence bureaucrats misleading the Indian government and people?

In January 2009, Col Pis Phulka said that bureaucrats had misled the UPA government (and the President Prathiba Patil) on the One Rank One Pension issue. See the Daily Excelsior article here. Two other statements from senior ministers are discussed here.
With due respect for the Minister of State for Defence, M. M. Pallam Raju, his statement to Shri T.K. Rangarajan in the Rajya Sabha could be construed as misleading. He claimed that Rs 7,500cr (approx US$1.6 billion) of contracts have been signed related to offset obligations. While this may be true, industry analysts say that less than 800cr has actually been invested. Of the money invested there are few, if any, offset success stories. By giving such a large figure Mr Pallam Raju seems to project that the offset program is a huge success but by any measure it has been a dismal failure. Neither has our indigenous capacity improved nor has any significant technology been transferred or indigenously developed in a sense that it would have a long term benefit. By projecting success instead of failure, the difficult issue of acquisition process reform and failure to involve the private sector has been sidelined. See the GOI press release here.
Separately, the Defence Minister A.K. Antony claimed that the armed forces are short of 15,000 staff. But the reality is that we have the third largest army in the world and the only battle we have seen in the last 10 years is in Kargil where a few thousand men were deployed. Globally there is a trend towards reduction in the number of personnel while using technology to increase the effectiveness of each soldier. This is thus an issue of a flawed long term strategy and also deploying of the army for issues that local bodies (police, CRPF etc) should be deployed. 8ak sources say that the shortage of staff at the levels like Lt Col is due to excessive promotions which have bloated the upper echelons of the forces. Read the article on Sify here.
Thirdly, during the budget presentation, Pranab Mukherjee's statements seemed to indicate that the Armed forces demand of One Rank, One Pension has been resolved. However Major Gen. (retired) Satbir Singh, the vice-chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Association, said to the Calcutta Telegraph (here) “This is not an acceptance of our demand for one rank one pension,”. So while the politicians and bureaucrats have convinced themselves that the issue of low morale in the armed forces has been resolved, our sources in the Armed forces say that neither has it been resolved nor are the relevant issues being addressed. Refer to articles on blogs like IndiaMilitary.info and Pragmatic and its is easy to see that this is not true. The issue of low morale (as our forthcoming article will cover in detail) has less to do with pay but more to do with the armed personnel feeling a loss of honour of being a soldier. The reasons are the demeaning treatment meted out to Senior Defence Personnel by bureaucrats and politicians who have long viewed the army as an occupying force. A full analysis on this issue will follow in 2 weeks. See the Taragana article here
Also, India Today said that the armed forces were unhappy that the French National day was given more importance than the anniversary of Kargil where our bravest men laid down their lives against an unprovoked Pakistani attack. Read it here.(8ak)

Pakistan gaining military edge over India


While India keeps cancelling and re-issuing RFPs endlessly, Pakistan is forging ahead on a war footing. They are ahead of India in the following:-

1. Howitzers
India has been dilly-dallying over artillery guns for close to 30 years since the Bofors scam. Pakistan has inducted U.S. made M-109 howitzers.
Indian Express: United Nations data reveal that delivery of the M-109 A5 self-propelled artillery guns took place last year. The guns were transferred under the US Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme that was granted to Pakistan for the fight against militant groups on its border with Afghanistan. Experts say these M-109 A5 155 mm howitzers give Pakistan a definite conventional edge over the Indian Army that is years away from induction of similar systems. Full news

2. UAVs
The game changers in the Af-Pak war are the future of any credible Air Force. But PSU infighting delayed India's plan for 4 years. Recent articles on 8ak noted that Pakistan has started drone production with Selex Galileo.

3. Fighter Jets
While our military aircraft crash at a rate of 1.5 a month means a constant grounding of fleets (the Sea Harrier fleet is grounded after last weeks crash), Pakistan is upgrading their F-16s to the latest Block C/D with a little help from Turkey. Russia has also given the go ahead to China to give Pakistan the engines for the JF series fighter aircraft.

4. Motivation
The Pakistani people are united, not by their nationality, but by their religion and their constantly-re-inforced-by-the-mullahs/government view on Kashmir. Add to this the combat experience they are gaining in the Af-Pak war and one can see that they would be a formidable force.
5. Funds
While India's budget is larger thanks to a better economy, Pakistan gets billions in equipment and training from the U.S., China and Islamic sympathisers like Saudi Arabia.
The list could go on to include helicopters, missiles, nuclear weapons. But at least India has the Arihant submarine. Well not exactly. Strategy Page article says that the Arihant was launched without a working reactor to scam the public in to believing that the government has something to show after sinking billions in to those projects.

India is upset... so what?



While the Hindu mentioned only one Chinese helicopter intrusion, PTI/Mail/India Today reported 2 other incursions by Chinese helicopters in  Leh. 
"The Yousuf Raza Gilani government has approved the controversial 'Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009', aimed at giving Pakistan's Northern Areas "full internal autonomy" and changing the region's name to Gilgit-Baltistan." 
 
What will anger most Indians is that in the last article, after Pakistan's violation of a ceasefire killed a Jawan "Jang Bahadur Grung of Gorkha Rifles" the Indian response was that yet another "strong protest" was lodged. And the Pakistani response, "It wasn't us".

 Pak/LeT fires rockets in Amritsar area, over 300 militants waiting to infiltrate, Pak not doing enough to punish 26/11 culprits, India asks US to pressurise Pak. (8AK)

I WONDER : THE LIST IS END LESS, IN NUT SHELL WE CAN SAY  THIS FOR INDIA " SHAMA SHOBHTE BHUJANG" i.e ONLY A POISONOUS SNAKE DESERVES TO FORGIVE... 

OLD BUT IMP : Spurt in Chinese 'intrusions': India

NEW DELHI: Prior to the 13th round of India-China boundary talks, Indian defence and security agencies reported an increased spurt in "intrusions" and "incursions" by the Chinese, particularly in the western sector.

Security agencies say on June 1, a combined Indian Army-ITBP patrol was intercepted by the PLA in Depsang Bulge and forced to turn back after the PLA planted vehicles in front and behind the Indian patrol vehicle and escorted it back across the Chinese "perception of the LAC". Later in the month, Chinese air force helicopters again flew across the LAC in the Chushul area in J&K.

The border issue is not a cakewalk, as was clear from the talks that ended on Saturday. So, if India says Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of the country, China is not likely to give up its claim on what it calls "southern Tibet".

On August 7, China's official newspaper `Global Times', quoting `Ming Pao', a Hongkong newspaper, said, "The present time is not favorable for China to resolve the boundary issue in such a hurried way because the country is still rising globally and if the dispute is not properly addressed, the result will only be blamed by generations to come."

"Chinese military expert Long Tao commented that the disputed region of South Tibet is not the cause of the two countries' conflict in the history, but rather was left over from 1914. That was when the British colonialists arbitrarily made the `McMahon Line', which Long says is even more ridiculous than the unequal Treaty of Nanjing." While concluding, it said, "China won't sacrifice its sovereignty in exchange for friendship. Therefore, India should not have any illusions with regards to this issue."

Air Marshal to visit 3 base repair depot

CHANDIGARH: Air Marshal Pramod Vasant Athawale, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief( AOC-in-C), Maintenance Command, Indian Air Force will arrive on a two days inspection visit to 3 BRD Air Force on 14 Sep.
Air Marshal Athawale took over as AOC-in-C, Maintenance Command on 01 Apr this year.  He was commissioned in the Electronics Stream of Engineering branch in IAF, on 02 July 73.  A graduate of Electrical Engineering from University of Rookee, he earned his postgraduate degree in Computer Science from IIT Kharagpur.  Beginning as an Engineering Officer in HF-24 Marut Squadron, he worked on to become Chief Engineering Officer of a MiG-21 fighter Base, thereby gaining rich and varied experience in maintenance of various fighter and transport aircraft.  An aircrew tenure on Super Constellation aircraft provided him valuable flying experience, which was followed with a stint in Aircraft and System Testing at ASTE, Banglaore.
He has been credited with immense experience in Radar and Communication fields.  Having held appointments in Microwave Communication units besides steering the Low Level Radar Networking Project as its Project Director, he also held the appointment of Principal Director Ground Electronics at Air Hq. 
Apart from the work in engineering and system, Air Marshal Athawale pioneered the software initiatives in IAF.  In 1992, he established the Software Development Institute of IAF at Bangalore as its first Commandant.  Known as the ‘projects man’ he has steered the vital projects of Integrated Air Command and Control Systems and Air Force NeT as the Asst Chief of Air Staff (Signals & IT) at Air HQ.  Before assuming responsibilities as Air Officer Commaing-in-Chief, the Air Mshl held the appointment of Senior Maintenance Staff Officer, HQ Maintenance Command since 01 Dec 07.
The Air Mshl has represented Services in Ranji Trophy Cricket, besides being a competitive high-level sportsman in many a sport during his younger days.  He is an avid golfer today.  He was awarded Vishisht Seva Medal in 1997 and the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 2008 for distinguished service to the nation.

IAF pilot's body consigned to flames

I WONDER : FROM CIVIL ADMINISTRATION SIDE JUST A GP B SUB DIVISIONAL OFFICER WAS PRESENT.

PATNA: Body of 23-year-old Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Flight Lieutenant Manu Akhouri, son of Col (retd) Sanjay Akhouri, of Danapur sub-area Cantonment, was consigned to flames at Peepapul ghat at Danapur with full military honour on Saturday.

He died on Thursday when a MIG-21 fighter aircraft he was flying crashed near Bhatinda airbase in Punjab.

Earlier, his body was brought to Patna airport on Saturday afternoon. It was a heart rending sight when the body was brought to his house located at Vaishali Enclave at Dana-pur Cantonment. His grandmother, mother Meera Akhouri, uncle Ratan Akhouri, elder brother C H Akhouri, an engineer at Pune, sister Pragya Akhouri and many other relati-ves broke down literally on arrival of the body.

While Col Mahendra Singh laid wreath on the body on behalf of Chief of the Army Staff, Col R K Chadda placed wreath on behalf of General Officer in Commanding. Deputy Commandant of BRC Col Manjeet Singh also placed wreath on the body on behalf of the Bihar Regiment Centre.

A large number of Army and Air Force officials and civilians were present at the funeral to pay homage to Manu. Danapur SDO Adesh Teetarmare was also present.

4 JAWANS OF IRB KILLED IN AMBUSH

Four jawans of the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) were killed and six others injured when unidentified militants from the banned People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ambushed their two vehicles at Oksu in Imphal East district around 11 am today.
Sources said the personnel were posted to provide security at an underconstruction dam site at Makhong.
The incident took place when they were coming to Imphal in two Gypsies and were attacked by them. Three weapons belonging to the personnel were also missing.
The injured are under treatment at the Regional Institute of Medical Science and Hospital (RIMS) in Imphal.
The police said thickly forested terrain in the hilly area was in the favour of the militants, who also used rocket launchers in the attack.
Meanwhile, normal life in Manipur was affected today due to a 24-hour general strike called by the Joint Action Committee in protest against an alleged fake encounter that took place on September 8 last at Awang Khul in Imphal West district.

MPs’ pay hike, allowances put on hold

The storm raging over the UPA government’s fresh austerity measures has had serious fallout for the country’s lawmakers who were eagerly awaiting a better pay packet. The proposal to increase their salaries and allowances has been put on hold for the time being.
The matter has now snowballed into a major controversy following reports that External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and his junior Shashi Tharoor had been staying in five-star hotels for three months as their official bungalows were under renovation.
Given the public outcry on this matter, the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry has quietly buried its proposal on raising the salaries and allowances of MPs.
UPA sources said since the salaries were last increased in 2006, another hike was overdue for long, especially after the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission report which provided for a substantial raise in the salaries of government officials.
A bill approving such a hike was being drawn up and would had been presented in the winter session of Parliament, had the present controversy not erupted.
The new proposals, it is learnt, included a substantial hike in the constituency allowance and a provision for the recruitment of researchers by MPs.
The sources confirmed that the proposal has now been put in cold storage for at least another year.
“Given the current mood of the people, this is certainly not the right time to give ourselves a pay hike...it will not go down well with the public ,” remarked a senior Cabinet minister.
At present, Lok Sabha MPs are paid a monthly salary of Rs 16,000, which was revised from Rs 12,000 in 2006. In addition, they are entitled to a host of allowances for travel, medical facilities, accommodation and telephones.
They also get constituency allowance and office expenses’ allowance amounting to Rs 20,000 a month, a sum of Rs 1,000 daily for attending a parliamentary committee meeting and travel concessions.
Not only does a lawmaker get accommodation in Delhi’s prized Lutyen’s Zone but it also comes with free supply of water up to 4,000 kl a year and electricity up to 50,000 units. An MP is entitled to 50,000 local calls from his telephone during a year.
The UPA government was also planning to consider former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s proposal that a permanent commission or a similar body be set up to fix the salaries and allowances of MPs.
The Union Cabinet had considered the proposal last year but left the final decision to the next Lok Sabha.
It was felt that such an independent mechanism would have would have insulated MPs from facing flak for deciding their own salaries.

Three Indian ‘spies’ released from Pakistan jails seek compensation

Ahmedabad For Sunil Bhola (50), the eight years he spent in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail were a service to the nation. But he resents the government apathy to what he did for his country.
Bhola, a resident of Dhadwan in Gurudaspur tehsil of Punjab, was recruited in 1989 by the Army Intelligence Unit in Gurudaspur (RED) Sambha Code 43244 to head to Pakistan and spy for the Indian Army. In the next 10 years, he visited Pakistan for at least one hundred times before he was arrested on February 2, 1999 by the Pakistani Army near Babia post, says Bhola.
“Inhuman torture was a daily routine,” says Bhola pointing to the injury marks on his hands. “One Mehta from Indian High Commission in Pakistan met me in prison and secured my passport and other documents. Finally, I returned to India via Wagah Border with 19 other Indian prisoners on December 23, 2006.”
When Bhola, father of four, reached Dhadwan, his native place, he found that the promises ‘that his family will be taken care of’ were not fulfilled. He says: “I am too old and too broken to get any job. My family is starving. I sacrificed 20 years of my life for my country.”
The plight of Bhola and two others was brought to fore in Ahmedabad on Saturday as they appeared before the media and spoke about the government’s apathy towards their cases.
The story of Prakashchand, 60, a resident of Bega village in the Jammu district, is not very different. Released along with Bhola in 2006, Prakashchand who had started working as a BSF informer in 1984, says, “I visited Pakistan at least 20 times until my arrest on April 1, 2001. My inputs had even led to the arrest of three dreaded militants of Babbar Khalsa International.”
He said, “As I was in Pakistan for so many years, the J&K police often call me for interrogations.” The third case is of Ratanlal (45) of Bhagatpur village of Gurudaspur who was first sent to Pakistan in 1994 by the Military Intelligence unit in Pathankot. Ratanlal says, “I was arrested by Pakistani army personnel on July 7, 1999 during the Kargil war and released on August 21, 2002.”
“During my stay there, my wife and parents were not paid any compensation. Even after my return, I have not been paid any legal dues,” said Ratanlal. Present at the place along with them was Kishore Paul, a human rights activist and advocate of the Gujarat High Court.
Paul said, “These three will be made a party to the petition that we have filed in the Delhi High Court in February this year against the government inaction regarding the National Human Rights Commission’s order dated June 23, 2007 in case no. 192/6/07-08/OC. Our contention is securing immediate release of Indians languishing in Pakistani jails and granting due compensation to those who have been released.”
This petition lists 16 Indian prisoners, of which Kashmir Singh was released in March last year after the then caretaker Federal Minister for Human Rights in Pakistan, Ansar Burney took up his case. Two others, Chanan Singh and Parvez Ahmed, were released after languishing in jails for 20 and 15 years, respectively.
Paul said, “Last year in April, the Gujarat High Court had granted an interim relief of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Kuldipkumar Yadav, a native of Mehsana, who
had been in Pakistan jails since 1993.” Dilipkumar Yadav, a former BSF jawan himself and Kuldip’s brother, said, “Earlier, we used to receive letters from him regularly but these have stopped completely since last three years. Now, we don’t even know whether Kuldip is alive or not.”

No worry over China's N-submarine: Roy

On July 26 this year, India joined the select group of five nations to have its own nuclear propelled and nuclear armed submarine called Arihant. Code-named Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), the submarine is a project conceived in the 70s and initiated by Indira Gandhi in the 80s.

It was a secret project so no one knew whether India was definitely making such an advanced weapon. Vice Admiral (Retd) MK Roy was the naval officer who was the first chief of this project and was there when it all began. He spoke with Shashank Chouhan of Zeenews.com and told him about how this almost impossible dream was achieved and how India has become safer now.

Shashank: In what ways does Arihant make India safer?

Roy: The last century saw major developments in space and underwater realms. This submarine is a product of the higher end of that phase. It is the biggest and best possible platform that India has got to defend itself. The salient features of Arihant are that it does not need to surface for months to recharge its batteries since it runs on nuclear fuel. With a speed of upto 25 knots, it can easily chase fast enemy ships. It has unlimited endurance and completes the three dimensional aspect of security.Targets on land can be easily detected, jets are not that fast and radars can pinpoint them. But Arihant remains 200 mts underwater so no one can ever know where in the vast ocean it is. It’s our best bet at second nuclear strike.



Shashank: What was on the mind of the policymakers when they asked you to build this submarine?

Roy: Well they said ‘we want to have a three dimensional force with nuclear power which is a deterrent for the enemy.’ The only target we had was defending India from any attack. Also, it was the next natural step in the technological development of our armed forces.

Roy: (looks on with quiet wonder) Next question please...that’s a secret.

Shashank: How important was Russia’s contribution to the development of the submarine?

Roy: Marshal Ustanov, the Soviet Defence Minister, and Admiral Gorshkov, the Commander-&-Chief of Soviet armed forces, offered to transfer technology to India for the construction of a nuclear submarine as well as for training and operating it. A Russian delegation visited India for the same and they reported to their bosses that India had met all the requirements for such a transfer. Dr Raja Ramanna, the country’s top nuclear scientist who was my classmate from Madras college, broached the subject with me as I was the chief of Eastern Command then. I said we wanted a nuclear propelled submarine that could also fire nuclear missiles and we used to discuss this issue in detail. Eventually these conversations took the form of the ATV Project as I accompanied Ramanna and other officers including Admiral Ganesh, Nigam etc. to Moscow.

The Russians arranged to train our officers for operating nuclear submarines and also leased us the Charlie nuclear submarine for practical training and use. But there was no import of technology- only transfer of knowledge.

Shashank: Why did the project get delayed?

Roy: The delay in the ATV project was primarily due to political, industrial, technological and social changes in Russia from 1985 onwards. Supplies were delayed, factories had closed and the initial contract (in roubles) changed to hard currency (US dollars) which required time-consuming checks and balances.

But our work never stopped. While the Russians were away, there was a great cooperation between the PSUs like BHEL, BEL, DRDO and private companies like L&T, Walchandnagar, Tata, Kirloskars etc. It was a unique learning period for the Indian defense administration.

Shashank: What do you have to say about Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s recent observation that we are not competing with China and that only three submarines are enough?

Roy: Only one good submarine is enough for effectively responding to any misadventure. It is the quality of weapons that matters and not quantity and the nuclear submarine is the most sophisticated piece of war technology.

We shouldn’t be China obsessed as far as seas are concerned as they are not a threat in the Indian Ocean and ours is a regional Navy. Yes they have submarines, but so do we so that’s not a problem. The two countries have growing trade relations and we protect their oil route in Malacca Straits.

Shashank: What about Pakistan’s charge of Arihant triggering an arms race in the subcontinent?

Roy: Look who’s talking? There is no race here. Pakiatan Navy is nowhere near to ours. That is a country which has been importing technologies from dubious sources. India has the right to look after its interests. But we are not aggressive in our approach.

Shashank: What problems did you face in this project?

Roy: The problems were basically in building the technology- the design, reactor, hull design, periscope, electronic warfare system, sonar etc. But because private and public sector had joined hands, we could sail through.

Finance and red tape was never a problem. The Defence Minister headed the group and he cleared all problems in a jiffy. Bureaucracy always helped us- they never created any roadblocks. PM Rajiv Gandhi, Dr Arunachalam (Security Advisor to Defence Minister), Venkatraman and others were very keen to see the submarine made quickly.

Shashank: What is your take on the Gorshkov deal?

Roy: We have said many times we need three aircraft carriers to defend India from all three ocean sides. I myself commandeered the INS Vikrant and know that it is enough. Who is going to sell us a fully operating machine like that in open market? The Russians are ready to ‘gift’ it with Kamov copters and MiGs.

The problem is that we have to pay for the refit in dollars. But it is not and should not be a question of price. It’s about India’s security. It’s expensive, but look at the expense the Army and Air Force are indulging in. Navy does not ask for much in this country. And there is no basis of saying we did not negotiate properly. With every passing year the cost will escalate, but we will pay only that with which we are okay.

Shashank: In age when air superiority is considered the defining edge with any armed force, what is the importance of Navy?

Roy: You see the Mughals neglected India’s vast marine borders and had to pay the price as the British crossed Bombay, Goa and Calcutta and marched up to Delhi. Don’t forget that the Earth is basically an island in the oceans. The sea connects all countries and having a viable sea monster at disposal is absolutely essential to protect our sovereignty.

Shashank:
When you were made the in-charge of the project, what did you think?

Roy: We don’t think! Everything is scientifically calculated and dexterously planned in advanced. We just followed what had been laid on paper with full commitment.

Shashank: How did you feel when the submarine was launched finally?

Roy: (with a mild smile) There was absolute silence. They say I had tears in my eyes when Arihant touched water. I missed Raja Ramanna the most. He was a great man, a great scientist and a great musician too. I don’t think our country has honoured such people enough. This was a very difficult, multi-technological project. Many were involved in it. Not enough has been done for all.

Shashank: Did your family ever know you were heading the ATV?

Roy: I never discussed my work with family, much less talk about state secrets! But they were really happy when they came to know about it this year and were surprised.

Shashank: You have been there done that. What is the one thing India needs today to become an impregnable fortress?

Roy: Forget sea, land or air power. We need comprehensive security for the individual- clean water, sanitation, health, opportunities. If these things come, automatically the rest will follow. We can’t go on making tanks after all. Individual in the society should feel secure on all fronts. Our education, health systems need urgent changes. Forty percent of our countrymen are below the poverty line. I am glad that I have lived to see today’s time- there is a lot more freedom and opportunity today. My grandson has a rockband and is cool about his career. That’s all good, but it’s not enough for the millions.

Of course that doesn’t mean we leave our borders for the enemy. For development, we need to be secure from outside too.

On July 26 this year, India joined the select group of five nations to have its own nuclear propelled and nuclear armed submarine called Arihant. Code-named Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), the submarine is a project conceived in the 70s and initiated by Indira Gandhi in the 80s.

It was a secret project so no one knew whether India was definitely making such an advanced weapon. Vice Admiral (Retd) MK Roy was the naval officer who was the first chief of this project and was there when it all began. He spoke with Shashank Chouhan of Zeenews.com and told him about how this almost impossible dream was achieved and how India has become safer now.

Shashank: In what ways does Arihant make India safer?

Roy: The last century saw major developments in space and underwater realms. This submarine is a product of the higher end of that phase. It is the biggest and best possible platform that India has got to defend itself. The salient features of Arihant are that it does not need to surface for months to recharge its batteries since it runs on nuclear fuel. With a speed of upto 25 knots, it can easily chase fast enemy ships. It has unlimited endurance and completes the three dimensional aspect of security.Targets on land can be easily detected, jets are not that fast and radars can pinpoint them. But Arihant remains 200 mts underwater so no one can ever know where in the vast ocean it is. It’s our best bet at second nuclear strike.

Shashank: What was on the mind of the policymakers when they asked you to build this submarine?

Roy: Well they said ‘we want to have a three dimensional force with nuclear power which is a deterrent for the enemy.’ The only target we had was defending India from any attack. Also, it was the next natural step in the technological development of our armed forces.

Roy: (looks on with quiet wonder) Next question please...that’s a secret.

Shashank: How important was Russia’s contribution to the development of the submarine?

Roy: Marshal Ustanov, the Soviet Defence Minister, and Admiral Gorshkov, the Commander-&-Chief of Soviet armed forces, offered to transfer technology to India for the construction of a nuclear submarine as well as for training and operating it. A Russian delegation visited India for the same and they reported to their bosses that India had met all the requirements for such a transfer. Dr Raja Ramanna, the country’s top nuclear scientist who was my classmate from Madras college, broached the subject with me as I was the chief of Eastern Command then. I said we wanted a nuclear propelled submarine that could also fire nuclear missiles and we used to discuss this issue in detail. Eventually these conversations took the form of the ATV Project as I accompanied Ramanna and other officers including Admiral Ganesh, Nigam etc. to Moscow.

The Russians arranged to train our officers for operating nuclear submarines and also leased us the Charlie nuclear submarine for practical training and use. But there was no import of technology- only transfer of knowledge.

Shashank: Why did the project get delayed?

Roy: The delay in the ATV project was primarily due to political, industrial, technological and social changes in Russia from 1985 onwards. Supplies were delayed, factories had closed and the initial contract (in roubles) changed to hard currency (US dollars) which required time-consuming checks and balances.

But our work never stopped. While the Russians were away, there was a great cooperation between the PSUs like BHEL, BEL, DRDO and private companies like L&T, Walchandnagar, Tata, Kirloskars etc. It was a unique learning period for the Indian defense administration.

Shashank: What do you have to say about Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s recent observation that we are not competing with China and that only three submarines are enough?

Roy: Only one good submarine is enough for effectively responding to any misadventure. It is the quality of weapons that matters and not quantity and the nuclear submarine is the most sophisticated piece of war technology.

We shouldn’t be China obsessed as far as seas are concerned as they are not a threat in the Indian Ocean and ours is a regional Navy. Yes they have submarines, but so do we so that’s not a problem. The two countries have growing trade relations and we protect their oil route in Malacca Straits.

Shashank: What about Pakistan’s charge of Arihant triggering an arms race in the subcontinent?

Roy: Look who’s talking? There is no race here. Pakiatan Navy is nowhere near to ours. That is a country which has been importing technologies from dubious sources. India has the right to look after its interests. But we are not aggressive in our approach.

Shashank: What problems did you face in this project?

Roy: The problems were basically in building the technology- the design, reactor, hull design, periscope, electronic warfare system, sonar etc. But because private and public sector had joined hands, we could sail through.

Finance and red tape was never a problem. The Defence Minister headed the group and he cleared all problems in a jiffy. Bureaucracy always helped us- they never created any roadblocks. PM Rajiv Gandhi, Dr Arunachalam (Security Advisor to Defence Minister), Venkatraman and others were very keen to see the submarine made quickly.

Shashank: What is your take on the Gorshkov deal?

Roy: We have said many times we need three aircraft carriers to defend India from all three ocean sides. I myself commandeered the INS Vikrant and know that it is enough. Who is going to sell us a fully operating machine like that in open market? The Russians are ready to ‘gift’ it with Kamov copters and MiGs.

The problem is that we have to pay for the refit in dollars. But it is not and should not be a question of price. It’s about India’s security. It’s expensive, but look at the expense the Army and Air Force are indulging in. Navy does not ask for much in this country. And there is no basis of saying we did not negotiate properly. With every passing year the cost will escalate, but we will pay only that with which we are okay.

Shashank: In age when air superiority is considered the defining edge with any armed force, what is the importance of Navy?

Roy: You see the Mughals neglected India’s vast marine borders and had to pay the price as the British crossed Bombay, Goa and Calcutta and marched up to Delhi. Don’t forget that the Earth is basically an island in the oceans. The sea connects all countries and having a viable sea monster at disposal is absolutely essential to protect our sovereignty.

Shashank: When you were made the in-charge of the project, what did you think?

Roy: We don’t think! Everything is scientifically calculated and dexterously planned in advanced. We just followed what had been laid on paper with full commitment.

Shashank: How did you feel when the submarine was launched finally?

Roy: (with a mild smile) There was absolute silence. They say I had tears in my eyes when Arihant touched water. I missed Raja Ramanna the most. He was a great man, a great scientist and a great musician too. I don’t think our country has honoured such people enough. This was a very difficult, multi-technological project. Many were involved in it. Not enough has been done for all.

Shashank: Did your family ever know you were heading the ATV?

Roy: I never discussed my work with family, much less talk about state secrets! But they were really happy when they came to know about it this year and were surprised.

Shashank: You have been there done that. What is the one thing India needs today to become an impregnable fortress?

Roy: Forget sea, land or air power. We need comprehensive security for the individual- clean water, sanitation, health, opportunities. If these things come, automatically the rest will follow. We can’t go on making tanks after all. Individual in the society should feel secure on all fronts. Our education, health systems need urgent changes. Forty percent of our countrymen are below the poverty line. I am glad that I have lived to see today’s time- there is a lot more freedom and opportunity today. My grandson has a rockband and is cool about his career. That’s all good, but it’s not enough for the millions.

Of course that doesn’t mean we leave our borders for the enemy. For development, we need to be secure from outside too.

China - The Big Boss



China’s recent helicopter incursions into Indian airspace in Leh and then the violation of the International Border in Ladakh region have left New Delhi at the receiving end of Beijing’s augmenting hostility.

While the Indian External Affairs Ministry has refuted reports of Chinese incursions by describing the border shared with China as “one of the most peaceful”, the Army has admitted that Chinese soldiers did enter India territory in Ladakh. China, on its part, has described the incursion reports as “untrue” and “groundless”.

According to reports in the Indian media, Chinese troops crossed over into India's territory in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region. Reports further claimed that the Chinese troops marked boulders and rocks as deep as 1.5 km inside India’s border with red spray paint.

It is not for the first time that reports of Chinese incursions into Indian territory have emerged. As per reports, the Indian Army logged 270 border violations and about 2,300 cases of “aggressive border patrolling” by Chinese soldiers in 2008.

What is India doing about it? Literally nothing! Not even a single strong comment from the government has followed any of the Chinese incursions. In fact, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna wants to use the option of “standard mechanism” while handling such cases of Chinese incursions. But the question is: Why a “standard mechanism” to deal with such high-priority security issue?

India and China share approximately 3,200-kilometer border in the Himalayas.

China sees India as a competitor, or probably as a threat. Without doubt, China wants India’s rise as an economic power and an influential player in South Asia to subside, by keeping it busy with the problems emanating from its neighbourhood.

Were the recent intrusions intended at conveying any message to India, or China’s show of might?

China has emerged strongly as far as military might is concerned. Its economic rise has left every other country on this planet breathless. In fact, the US’ Asia policy revolves around China. But what is India doing to match up with this Dragon called China? Today, Beijing has not only knocked at the doors, but also established its hold in all the continents, while India continues to lag far behind.

China has even started entering US strongholds such as Saudi Arabia, while India has let its diplomatic manoeuvring wane.

According to former Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, the power gap between India and China “is just too wide to bridge and is getting wider by the day”.

Mehta further noted, “China is in the process of consolidating its comprehensive national power and creating formidable military capabilities. Once it is done, China is likely to be more assertive on its claims, especially in the immediate neighbourhood.”

The Navy Chief’s statement should have been taken very seriously, but it seems New Delhi has not heeded to it carefully.

If one observes it closely, the militarily strong China now follows a defined and assessed policy of intensifying diplomatic and military pressure on India by adopting a hard line on the border issue.

At first, China seemed to be yielding its claim on parts of India's Northeast in exchange for Indian recognition of Beijing’s control over a part of Ladakh. Then it became more interested in bilateral ties. And then it increased its military incursions while aggressively laying claim to Arunachal Pradesh.

According to sources, China not only keeps a tab on the developments going on in Arunachal Pradesh, but also criticises them in its commentaries.

Furthermore, talks between India and China over territorial disputes over a long period of time have continued to be futile. Grabbing the advantage, China is continuing to influence the Himalayan balance in its favour.

By constructing new railroads and highways in Tibet, China has gained strategic depth. Beijing can now swiftly locate its troops at the border and target India easily. While India finds border with China as the “most peaceful”!

If India fails to take concrete steps to take stock of China’s intrusions and deters them, the so-called aggressive ‘Big Boss’ in the international affairs will pose a greater threat in the near future.(ZEE NEWS)

ATS nabs ‘ISI’ recruit, says spied on Army


The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) today arrested an alleged ISI spy from Kanpur and said the man was on the payroll of the Pakistani intelligence agency.
Additional DG (ATS) A K Jain said the arrested man, Imtiyaz Ali (52), is a native of Jhansi and was assured of Rs 5,000 per month by the ISI. He had returned from Pakistan in February last after training at an ISI camp in Karachi. Ali had received Rs 30,000 through Western Union Money Transfer three months ago, Jain said. 
The ADG said Ali was asked to send vital information about the movement of troops, the routine drills and the frequency of firing practice at the Indian Army establishment in Jhansi. He had also been asked to recruit ISI spies to collect information about Army stations at Agra, Mathura and Meerut. 
The ATS has recovered several SIM cards on fake IDs and the documents containing details about the Indian Army from the possession of the accused.

Ali, a mechanic, has allegedly told the interrogators that he had joined the ISI to earn money for his son’s admission in any private engineering college. 
The ADG said a team had been trailing Ali after they came across frequent phone calls being made to Pakistan from Jhansi and the person passing on information about day-to-day development in the cantonment area. 
The cops laid a trap and caught Imtiyaz Ali (52) from Sachendi area of Kanpur today.
According to Jain, Ali revealed during his interrogation that he, along with his mother, had left for Karachi on November 20, 2008 to visit his sister, who is married there. 
An ISI agent named Athar contacted him there and got his visa extended thrice. After luring him with a hefty sum, he took him to the cantonment area in Karachi where he went through 10-days training of Daura-e-aam in December 2008. 
Ali allegedly said the ISI men there showed him the insignia of all ranks in the Indian Army and asked him to keep a watch on every development at the Jhansi establishment. He also admitted having seen two more Indian youths undergoing training at the ISI camp in Karachi. 
Ali returned to his native place at Mau Ranipur area in Jhansi on February 26, 2009 and started collecting information about the movement in cantonment area here. He used to jot down numbers of army trucks and vehicles carrying jawans and officers and commodities. He had procured several SIM cards on fake IDs to make calls to Athar in Pakistan.

China objects to Dalai visit to Arunachal Pradesh

Beijing/New Delhi, Sep 11 (PTI) China has objected to the proposed trip of Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh in November but India has made it clear that the Tibetan spiritual leader was free to travel anywhere in the country.

The Dalai Lama intends to travel to Arunachal in the middle of November, which the Tibetan government-in-exile says has nothing to do with politics.

Commenting on the development, Chinese Foreign Ministry voiced "strong concern", saying it "further reveals the Dalai clique's anti-China and separatist essence".

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said "We firmly oppose Dalai visiting the so-called 'Arunachal Pradesh'."

When contacted, Chinese Embassy in Delhi drew attention to the statement made by the country's Foreign Ministry on the issue and did not go further.

India felt the Chinese objections are unwarranted and the Tibetan leader is free to travel anywhere in the country.

India: Diffident over growing Chinese Incursions

OVER THE last year or so, the incursion of Chinese troops on Indian soil has gone up. Indian Army has said that it has registered the protest with Chinese officials but it still looked lethargic in their approach to me.
The government is just playing down these border violations by saying that it is not a big deal since the Line of Actual Control is not clearly defined. Whatever the case, if these issues are not addressed seriously then India will face tough times ahead.

China is clearly a stronger power than India, both militarily and economically. As former Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, put it, “The power gap between the two is just too wide to bridge and getting wider by the day.” The day China will be confident enough; it will assert its claim on disputed land more aggressively. Diplomatically also India has performed very badly.

The talks over the border dispute have been going on since the year 1981, making them already the longest and the most-barren process between any two countries in modern history. Thus, the longer the process of border-related talks continues without yielding tangible results, the greater the space Beijing will have to mount strategic pressure on India.

The futile discussion and time buying process will put India under even tremendous pressure. It seems the only progress here is that India's choice of words in public is now the same as China's. “Both countries have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of this issue,” Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna told Parliament on July 31. “The matter, of course, is complex and requires time and lots of patience.”

It was as if the Chinese foreign minister was speaking. Isn't it odd for India, the country at the receiving end of growing Chinese hostility, to plead for more time and patience after nearly three decades of negotiations?

One thing is clear that New Delhi does not have any well defined plan and strategy to go around settling the disputes. More time means, more time for Beijing to define its strategy. Today, China's muscle-flexing along the Himalayas cannot be ignored. After all, even when China was poor and backward, it employed brute force to annex Xinjiang (1949) and Tibet (1950), to raid South Korea (1950), to invade India (1962), to initiate a border conflict with the Soviet Union (1969) and to attack Vietnam (1979).

India's long record of political diffidence only emboldens Beijing. India accepted Chinese annexation of Tibet and surrendered its own British-inherited extraterritorial rights over Tibet on a silver platter without asking for anything in return. Now, China wants India to display the same 'amicable spirit' and hand over to it at least the Tawang valley. Indian diplomats failed miserably and even in registering protests they appear to be defensive. It gives a feeling that they are clueless about China.

If the situation goes like this then one day, the duo might again be at war. The history has shown that the cost of weak politics and diplomacy has been paid by the soldiers.

India must show courage to fend off an aggressive China


THIS IS with regard to one of the articles written by B Raman (former head of RAW) titled 'India-China: Dangerous Hysteria', which speaks about the possibility of a 'status quo plus' solution under which China will recognise the status quo in Arunachal Pradesh in return for India accommodating some of the Chinese interests in Tawang. I would like to make a small point.

I totally do agree with the point that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind and also by whipping up combative sentiments across India and China, it would be disastrous. If the two nuclear neighbours get down to combat with a crony Islamic state, eager to get involved as it has always been doing.
 
But, it has always been noticed that force respects force and when you are dealing with a neighbour like China, it would always be better to speak up with courage and show that Indians cannot be taken for granted. By putting up suggestions of re-adjustment in Arunachal Pradesh we will be sending a signal across the border that India as a country is desperate to maintain peace in the region and hence, is ready to negotiate to any length to maintain the status quo which I guess is not in the best of our interests.

China which blindly follows the policy of Mao which says: "If the East wind doesn't prevail over the West wind then the East wind will prevail over the East wind" and driven by this hegemonistic mindset, any such adjustment with China will only embolden them to start questioning the very legitimacy of any of our North Eastern borders. Today, it is Tawang, tomorrow it would be Ladhakh and so on and so forth. Hence, it would be wise for India to keep the diplomatic channel open and also at the same time hold a stern posture in front of China and convey a strong message across that any kind of border re-adjustment in the face of coercion is not acceptable.

India should also convey that unless otherwise China is also ready to negotiate on the Nehruvian gift of Chinese occupied Aksai-Chin, which is a disputed territory from an Indian perspective, we will not negotiate on any of the other regions. We should convey it to China that if China feels whatever territory that it has already occupied as a resolved part and whatever it questions is unresolved then we better let our 'Red' neighbour know that it is not always their perspective that matters.(MERINEWS)

Powerful blast rocks Srinagar, three killed

SRINAGAR: In the first attack of its kind in two years, three people, including a 56-year-old woman, were killed and 18 others injured in a powerful car blast set off by terrorists near Srinagar’s main jail at Rainawari on Saturday.

The explosion, which took place 150 metres from Srinagar’s central jail, shattered windowpanes of nearby houses and could be heard in a five-km radius. The explosives were packed in a car parked near the jail and detonated by remote control as a police bus drove past.

Srinagar SSP Javaid Riyaz Bedar identified the dead as cops Sagar Singh and Abdul Hamid and Khatija Begum. ‘‘The blast was triggered when the bus was coming out from the jail after dropping some undertrials,’’ he said. He said the bus was damaged and bodies of the cops were mangled. ‘‘One police vehicle and a private car were also damaged.’’

He said one of the injured is critical. ‘‘The toll is likely to rise. ‘‘Nine cops and nine civilians were injured in the blast.’’

Intelligence sources said Lashkar-e-Taiba is believed to be behind the attack.

Last month four CRPF men and policeman were killed by the militants in two different incidents in Srinagar.

There has been a sudden spurt in cross-border infiltration and a marked increase in violence in the Valley in the past one month. Last month, officials said violence had fallen to its lowest level since 1989.
According to police records, killings have dropped to one a day, from 10 daily in 2001 and a peak of 13 in 1996 when the insurgency was at its height with daily bomb attacks and gunbattles.

The level of violence declined sharply after India and Pakistan started a peace process in 2004. The peace process was suspended after the last year’s Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead.
Officials attribute the decline in violence to effective counter-insurgency tactics and hi-tech barriers along the LoC that have made infiltration very difficult.

Army intensifies J&K operations to check infiltration

NEW DELHI: The Army has intensified its counter-insurgency operations in the higher reaches of J&K following increased attempts of militants to sneak in from across the Line of Control (LoC). It is estimated that about 300 militants are waiting at launch pads, a senior Army officer said here.

There is a change of strategy this time with terrorist handlers across the border having made multiple launch pads across the LoC to divert the attention of India troops while trying to push in militants. Pakistani troops have violated ceasefire several times to provide cover fire to these terrorists.

In the last two months, at least 10 to 12 infiltration bids have been made each month, an Army officer said. In fact, India has taken up the matter with the US - which is highly engaged with Pakistan with its anti-Taliban operations - to put pressure on the latter to dismantle the terrorist training camps in PoK.

The issue of infiltration will also be discussed during two-day infantry commanders' conference in Mhow in Madhya Pradesh, beginning on September 14.

Meanwhile, home minister P Chidambaram said in Washington on Friday that he has sensitised the US leadership about India's concerns on infiltration. He said: "We make estimates based upon human intelligence and technical intelligence. The numbers are now running at about 50 to 60 (terrorists) a month."

The current year has already witnessed more infiltration than in 2008. Against a figure of 57 last year, the first three months of the current year alone saw over 70 terrorists managing to sneak into J&K, according to intelligence estimates. The highest, of course, was reported in March when about 67 came into India. The total number of infiltration attempts were as many as 190 in the first few months.

Though most of the infiltration attempts have been foiled, officials believe on an average a dozen militants in smaller groups are successful in breaching the security net.

The Army has redeployed troops at strategic points along the LoC and enhanced surveillance to frustrate the terrorists' attempts. Army officers said though the infiltration was timed around the Lok Sabha elections, some spillover effect of the action against Taliban in Swat and North West Frontier Province may have resulted in this enhanced bid to push terrorists into India.

The Army has deployed more technical equipment for surveillance even at most difficult places keeping the LoC under active patrolling and surveillance at all times.

LeT behind Pak rocket fire?

AMRITSAR: Lashkar-e-Taiba has emerged as the main suspect behind the Friday night’s rocket fire into Indian villages from Pakistan side after Pak Rangers claimed their troops had no role in the incident.

Four rockets had smashed into villages in Punjab, shattering the late night calm as they exploded in the fields and triggered a major scare. The attack had forced BSF — perhaps for the first time — to retaliate with machine gun and mortar fire.

The BSF has lodged a strong protest with Pak Rangers and sounded an alert along the border late Friday night soon after the attack. The attack came the same day BSF deployed its first women contingent along the international border in the Punjab sector.

There was no damage or casualty on the Indian side, BSF inspector-general Himmat Singh said. The 107 mm rockets landed about 2 km inside the Indian side at Modhey, Rattan Kalan, Dalkae and Dhoneya Khurd villages, near Attari.

BSF commandant Baljit Dhillon held a flag meeting with Pakistan Rangers at 1 am on Saturday and lodged a strong protest with Rangers’ leader wing commander Akbar Bhatt, who surprisingly denied knowledge of the attack or Pak army’s role.

Sources said the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose armed men now operate in the Pakistani state of Punjab, could be behind the attack.

In July, Pakistani security forces had seized a cache of arms, including 107 mm rockets — the kind used on Friday — from the arrested LeT men at Dera Gazhi Khan.

Following the rocket attack, BSF retaliated with machine guns and mortar shells from Pul Kanjari, Attari. The IG said this was perhaps the first such retaliatory action by BSF in this sector.

The BSF described the projectiles as 107mm rockets with a range of 8 km. The BSF said it didn’t have these kind of rockets.