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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Libraham Commission's Report will be a hot issue for debate in the coming session of Parliament. Sources said, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal would be banned because the Commission has indicted both organisations. As a result of imposing of ban on these two groups, stocks of a political party could go up.

Light Combat Helicopter struggles to slim down

(BY AJAI SHUKLA)A jinx seems to hover above the armed forces’ urgent need for modern attack helicopters to replace the obsolescent Russian Mi-35s, which have been around for three decades. In March, the Defence Ministry had to cancel a global tender for 22 attack helicopters after international vendors signalled little interest. Meanwhile, the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), has run into a serious weight problem.

Business Standard discovered, during a visit to Bangalore, that the LCH --- which should weight about 2.5 tonnes --- is overweight by some 580 kilograms. For operations in the plains, or in the foothills, this would not be a disaster. But at Himalayan altitudes, near the LCH’s ceiling of 6000 metres (19,685 feet), this would dramatically reduce the helicopter’s payload of rockets and missiles.

This weight problem means the LCH’s first flight will only take place at the end of this year. Despite the delay, that first Technology Demonstrator, named TD-1, will still be 400 kg heavier than planned.

The Managing Director of HAL’s brand new Helicopter Complex, Mr R Srinivasan, told Business Standard that the LCH’s weight would be progressively reduced over the first three prototypes. “We will find ways of cutting down TD-1 by 180-200 kg; TD-2, which will fly in mid-2010, will be another 100 kg lighter; and TD-3, which will be ready by end-2010, will shave off another 65-75 kg.”

That still adds up to only 375 kg, which means that the LCH could enter production 200 kg heavier than planned. HAL bosses say the IAF has accepted the extra weight.

Attack helicopters are amongst the most difficult combat platforms to successfully engineer. Even a helicopter maker like Sikorsky, which can boast of having designed the legendary Black Hawk helicopter, lost prestige and over $6.9 billion in a failed attempt to develop the Comanche attack helicopter.

But HAL remains confident it can navigate these treacherous waters. Many of the key technologies --- e.g. the Shakti engine, the rotors and the main gearbox --- that will go into the LCH are being concurrently proven in the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), 159 of which are being built for the army and the air force.

Meanwhile, the weapons and sensor packages that give the LCH its fighting edge are being tested on a weaponised version of the Dhruv. HAL and the IAF have zeroed in on a Nexter 20 mm turret mounted cannon, an MBDA air-to-air missile, and an EW suite from SAAB, South Africa. India’s Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) has begun work on a HELINA missile, which is the successful Nag missile with an extended range of 7 kilometres.

HAL’s focus on the LCH is evident. The newly created Helicopter Complex has set up a Mission and Combat Systems R&D Centre, or MCSRDC, which is focusing on developing indigenous glass cockpits for the range of helicopters that HAL intends to churn out, starting with the LCH.

[A glass cockpit refers to the tidy digital multi-function display that replaces the earlier clutter of dials and instruments that made flying so difficult.]

So far, HAL has imported the glass cockpit displays from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Sagem, of France. But with a range of helicopters in the making --- including 179 LCHs; 187 Light Utility Helicopters (LUH); and 400 or so Medium Lift Helicopters (MLH) --- there is a need, HAL believes, to develop its own glass cockpits.

India China at each others throats again

14 Sep 2009 8ak: In the last 3 days, Chinese newspapers have attacked India over the following
  1. Indian journalists releasing false reports of Chinese incursions
  2. Indian media hyping up issues to create anti-China hysteria, incl Telecom threat from Global Times
  3. Dalai Lama's visit to Tawang as a political ploy. DNA report may agree. Rediff covers China's warning
  4. India's detention of UAE plane is a case of spying on Chinese weapons. Mainly Times of India but quoting a Global Times story
See also, India Today "China taking land by inches not yards" and ToI's summary of the issue "Why do we fear the Chinese dragon" which re-inforces 8ak's reason that Bharat Verma is wrong about China attacking India by 2012 as its first priority is Taiwan.

Cycle rally by NCC cadets for environment awareness

ALLAHABAD: To spread mass awareness about environment, the naval cadets of the NCC organised a cycle rally in the city, on Monday. The rally and street plays are being observed in the state from September 14 to 20 under the aegis of UP NCC Directorate, Lucknow.

The cycle rally was flagged off by Lt. Cdr. Pramod Dutta of Indian Navy. More than two hundred cadets of Allahabad University, ECC and a local school took part in the rally which started from All Saints Cathedral, Civil Lines and passed through various routes and localities. The rally was led by chief petty officer of Indian Navy, Parashuram Singh.

On the occasion, university cadets also presented a street play at Subhash crossing. The play depicted the importance of trees in human life from birth to death. Cadets Ankit Vishwakarma, Shefali Sahu, Manish Sonkar, Pratibha Sharma, Mukesh Upadhayay, Yogendra Verma, Nishant Bajpai, Prashant Mishra, Abhishek Shukla, Madhukar Mishra etc. took part in the street play.
People appreciated the theme of the play and efforts of the cadets. The entire programme was conducted under the command of Col. Kaushal Chaturvedi, Group Commander of Allahabad NCC Group Headquarters. Lt. Cdr. P K Ghosh and Lt. Ajin Ray motivated the cadets on the occasion.

19-member Army trekker group rescued

KULLU: A team of 19 trekkers, including 12 Army personnel, was rescued from Pin Parbati glacier in Lahaul and Spiti district where it was stranded due to untimely snowfall last week. The group, airlifted by the Army helicopters to Bhuntar airport late Sunday, has been taken to the headquarters, police said on Monday.

"Nineteen trekkers of the Pathankot-based AD Regiment were rescued by the Indian Army on Sunday. They had been stuck in the high altitude slopes of Pin Valley for the past many days due to hostile weather," Superintendent of Police K K Indoria said.

The Army personnel were on a routine trekking expedition from Kheer Ganga near Manikaran in Kullu district to Pin valley in Lahaul and Spiti. "Due to widespread snowfall, the expedition got stuck near Mantlai (in the Spiti Valley). As the weather cleared on Sunday, three military choppers were pressed into service and members of the expedition team, including six porters and a guide, were airlifted," Indoria said.

Sources at the Bhuntar airport, too, confirmed that three Army helicopters had been carrying out sorties since Saturday and that a bigger chopper was inducted in the search on Sunday. An officer who had been coordinating the rescue from Bhuntar said the trekkers had remained in constant touch with the headquarters.

Pakistan asks India to share “actionable” intelligence

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, once again, reminded India on Monday of the agreement at Sharm-el-Sheikh to share “actionable” intelligence to prevent future terrorist attacks, and urged re-activation of the joint anti-terror mechanism and composite dialogue for “pragmatic co-operation” in dealing with terrorism.
The reminder came after remarks by Home Minister P. Chidambaram about the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed planning possible terror strikes against India.
“We have repeatedly requested the Indian government to share with us, whatever information it has in this regard,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said.
“Sharing of real time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats was deemed essential by the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India at the Sharm-el-Sheikh summit.”
Pakistan also flagged that, at the summit, the Prime Ministers had agreed that terrorism threatened both countries.., and “affirmed their resolve to fight terrorism and cooperate with each other to this end.”

Pak-based outfits getting support from disgruntled elements: Chidambaram

NEW DELHI: Union home minister P Chidambaram on Monday warned that Pakistan-based outfits -- Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) -- continue to plot terror attacks against India where they are finding support from disgruntled elements.

This is perhaps the first time that the home minister has publicly spoken about LeT and JeM getting help from disgruntled elements in the country.

Addressing police chiefs of state police, paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies, Chidambaram said: "They (LeT and JeM) continue to innovate new ways and means of deniability. They find support among disgruntled elements within India. Cells and modules within India lend an Indian character to these activities."

He also said that there were attempts from across the border to forge unity among separatists and escalate violence in Jammu and Kashmir.

While asking police and intelligence top brass to prepare to face such challenges in a much better way, Chidambaram described the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks as a ""game changer", saying, "We can no longer afford to do business as usual".

"Let me state our position clearly. On terrorism, our stance is zero tolerance. We shall raise our level of preparedness to fight any terror threat attack and, in the case of threat or attack, our response will be swift and decisive," he said.

Referring to threats from Maoists, Chidambaram highlighted how the Red ultras have, of late, been trying to forge an alliance with secessionist and terrorist elements in the country in order to expand their network and influence.

He said: "It -- CPI (Maoist) -- has been keenly seeking ideological resonance and tactical understanding with the north-east insurgents and has begun to lend support to their secessionist ideology and demands."

Though such an alliance between Red ultras and N-E insurgents has not been a secret as the Maoists have regularly been getting sophisticated arms and ammunition from the latter, the CPI (Maoist) politburo had recently clearly stated how such cooperation among them was needed to spread their influence to new areas.

Pointing out that the large scale diversion of development funds to militants gives them easy access to critical resources which helps them recruit new cadres as well as procure arms, the home minister said: "This conference should dwell on finding workable ways and means to curb illegal diversion of funds to the militants."

Omar seeks tighter vigil along LAC

SRINAGAR: Rattled by frequent reports of sightings of Chinese soldiers near the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir government has moved to get New Delhi's nod for permanent structures along the disputed frontier to increase vigil and check incursions.

State revenue, relief and rehabilitation minister Raman Bhalla said chief minister Omar Abdullah would talk to defence minister A K Antony and seek permission for the structures that would house revenue officials and guards to monitor Chinese activities along the Pangong Lake, around 180km from Leh. "Shepherds have approached the district administration twice this year and complained about the Chinese troops preventing them to grazing their cattle in Pangong, Dokbug and Doley Tango areas along the frontier,'' Bhalla said.

Leh deputy commissioner A K Sahu had also informed state divisional commissioner about Chinese activities along the border in January. "Sahu had sought necessary action in the matter,'' said Bhalla. He said the revenue officers and guards would be posted along the border round the year. "They would coordinate with the intelligence agencies and keep them posted on the activities of the Chinese troops,'' he said.

Ladakh DIG H K Lohia said the Chinese troops have made incursions into the Indian territory. "But there have been no skirmishes between the two armies,'' he said.

A recent J&K government report said that Chinese were taking "land in inches and not in yards" and that they were constructing structures along the frontier in Ladakh sector for the first time since the 1962 war between the two countries. The Chinese are constructing structures that could be used for either stationing additional personnel or mounting a camera for monitoring Indian troop movement.

ITBP jawans injured in China border shootout

KOLKATA/GUWAHATI: Simmering tensions along the mountainous frontier with China appear to have become serious with a revelation that two jawans of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the sentinel force along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), were injured in bullets fired from the Chinese side.

The firing in an area identified as Kerang in northern Sikkim took place a fortnight ago but has been kept under wraps. It was confirmed on Monday by a highly-placed intelligence source, who is not authorised to give information to the media. ITBP officials at its headquarters in New Delhi declined to confirm the incident.

It was the first incidents where bullets have been fired since the landmark 1996 Sino-India agreement in which both sides pledged not to open fire, no matter what the provocation, as a part of confidence-building measures.

Sources cite this as yet another instance of China's maintaining pressure on the 2.1 sq km area of `Finger Tip' in northern Sikkim. Last year, China had sent a vehicle-mounted patrol into this area, penetrating 1 km into Indian territory. The Kerang shootout prompted an unscheduled border personnel meeting on August 30.

Also last week, the entire situation along the LAC was reviewed in a war game by the Eastern Command top brass in Kolkata's Fort William, Eastern Command HQs, in the presence of Army chief General Deepak Kapoor.

Violations aren't new but have rarely involved casualties. What is alarming is the report of shooting along the LAC which has remained peaceful for decades since the Chinese invasion of 1962.

At Asaphila in Upper Subansiri Division of Arunachal Pradesh, for instance, a contingent of 22 Chinese troops had intercepted an armed Indian patrol of two policemen, three porters and five Special Service Bureau personnel in June 2003, disarmed them and returned them to the Indian Army.

In contrast, the Kerang incident could be a significant and dangerous deviation from the practice of talks before bullets.

Despite ceremonial border personnel meetings (BPMs) at Nathu La in Sikkim and Bum La and Kibithu in Arunachal, Chinese troops continue to violate the LAC with brazen regularity.

According to Army sources, People's Liberation Army patrols have been sighted crossing over the LAC six times since January this year -- four times in Upper Subansiri district in June and July, and twice in Lohit district in January. A Chinese post continues to occupy Sumdorong Chu valley since 1986.

The situation has been worsened by the fact that the border is unguarded at some places in Arunachal Pradesh, mainly due to inhospitable terrain marked by high mountains and hostile weather throughout the year. At some locations there are no field units on either side. There is no deployment of Indian forces in at least one district, the backward Kurung Kumey (Tawang's neighbour).

Such forays by Chinese troops have left the population near the LAC insecure. "Chinese patrols encroached into my district in June and July,'' said Upper Subansiri deputy commissioner H G Shalla.

Western Arunachal Pradesh MP Takam Sanjay -- whose constituency has many areas where Chinese incursions have happened -- said the local people felt unsafe. "People of Arunachal do not want to face 1962 all over again,'' he said. He has taken up with the Centre the issue of securing the border. "It seems, somewhere we have lost involvement.''

Indian troops on the LAC have even sighted Chinese grazers and fishermen crossing over and pushed them back, say sources. Bhutan, too, faces the same problem. People from Tibet cross over in search of medicinal herbs.

According to Army sources, there is no PLA build-up across the border, but what worries the Indian top brass is the definite edge the Chinese have in terms of infrastructure, particularly road communication. Because of this, they can move reinforcements to the LAC at a short notice, which is difficult for India. In Asaphila, the last road on the Indian side ends 50 km away from the LAC.

Political leaders from Arunachal, like former MP Kiren Rijiju, have been vocal against the Indian policy of not developing infrastructure on the border for fear the Chinese would use them in case of a war. He has described this as a "defensive policy''. Sanjay, however, said that with prime minister Manmohan Singh granting Rs 24,000 crore to Arunachal for infrastructure development, the situation is set to change.

One of the most important projects is the construction of the trans-Arunachal highway, connecting Tawang with Changlang district. It is learnt that the Cabinet committee on infrastructure has given approval for bidding for two sections of this highway.

India, Mongolia sign civil,nuclear cooperation pact

NEW DELHI: India has signed a pact for civil nuclear cooperation with Mongolia making it the sixth country with which New Delhi has linkedsimilar deals since it acquired a waiver from NSG allowing it to carry out nuclear commerce.

The nuclear agreement and four other pacts were signed after wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj here.

India has already inked civil nuclear agreements with the US, Russia, France, Kazakhstan and Namibia.

The `Memorandum of Understanding on Development of Cooperation in the field of Peaceful Use of Radioactive Minerals and Nuclear Energy' would enable India to procure for uranium in Mongolia.

"We have signed agreements in the field of peaceful uses of radioactive minerals and nuclear energy, health, culture and statistics. India will provide Mongolia a soft loan of US $25 million to help it to stabilise its economy in the wake of the global financial crisis," said Singh.

Congress jolted in byelections

NEW DELHI: The Congress suffered a jolt on Monday, when results of the byelections poured in from different states. It managed to win only two seats in Gujarat, lost one of its seats to BJP in Madhya Pradesh and in Uttarakhand, it could not stop BJP from securing a majority in the assembly. The party, however, retained its seat in Andhra Pradesh.

Of all the losses, Gujarat would irritate Congress the most. Not only is the state on Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s revival map, he had recently visited parts of Gujarat before Congress’ membership drive and the youth Congress elections.

Moreover, with Mr Modi coming under pressure after the Lok Sabha elections, when BJP only managed to win 15 of the 26 parliamentary seats in the state, and the reversal suffered by the party in its stronghold of Junagarh , the bypoll results were being considered an important indicator of BJP’s and Mr Modi’s popularity.

If Congress had managed to retain its seats — Jasdan, Chotila, Dehgam, Danta and Sami — then it would have been seen as big boost for the party, which has been trying to revive its fortunes after Mr Modi took over. Of the two seats the Congress won, it managed to retain Dhoraji and wrested the Kondinar constituency from BJP.

Congress’ performance immediately spurred a blame-game, with state leaders blaming the result on poor candidate selection. Congress had given tickets to children of leaders in Jasdan, Chotila, and Dhoraji. The party could only win in Dhoraji. In Sami and Dehgam, state leaders claimed Congress had chosen outsiders over local candidates. Congress leadership in the state accepted the results were rather disappointing.

“The results of the byelections are not as per our expectations. We will undertake a detailed analysis in the coming days to see what went wrong,” Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) chief Siddharth Patel said. He added the results should be examined in the context of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, which showed Congress losing hold over seats where byelections were held.

“The results from the other states have shown that the ruling party always has an edge in byelections,” Mr Patel said, adding that “local conditions and local factors” had contributed to Congress’ defeat.

Congress at the Centre tried to downplay the losses. “One set of byelection losses should not be treated as conclusive or even indicative (of the political trend) in any manner,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said. While accepting that Monday’s results were not “encouraging”, Mr Singhvi said the results of the Lok Sabha and the assembly elections told different stories.

Congress also lost the Tendukheda seat in Madhya Pradesh even as it managed to defend Gohad. In Uttarakhand , Congress was unable to defeat BJP in Vikasnagar. With this win, BJP’s tally now stands at 36 in the 70-member assembly. Congress had also lost the other bypoll to the Kapkot seat, which had became vacant after former chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari was nominated to the Rajya Sabha.

In Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim, the ruling Congress and Sikkim Democratic Front, respectively, won Tekkali and Namchi-Singhithang seats.

20 states, 2,000 police stations Naxal-hit

In an admission that reflected the serious Naxalite situation in the country, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday said various groups adhering to Left-wing extremism have their pockets of influence in 20 states across the country and that more than 2,000 police station areas in 223 districts in these states were affected by the problem.
Addressing the Conference of Directors General of Police and Inspectors General of Police, Chidambaram said, “Left-wing extremism purports to be a radical form of communism. Today, various groups adhering to this outdated ideology have their pockets of influence in 20 states across the country. Over 2,000 police station areas in 223 districts in these states are partially or substantially affected by the menace.”
Ironically, less than a year ago, at the same police conference, the then Union home minister Shivraj Patil had a completely different take on the matter and had tried to downplay the Naxal threat, saying its representation was not accurate.