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Monday, October 12, 2009

RAILWAYS IN NDC COURSE

Two Railway officers B P Awasthy and Adesh Kumar are joining the NDC Course.

tug of war

There is a tug of war between the Army Chief and the Ministry of Defence over the appointment of Lt Generals. Reason is delay in the appointment of 17 Lt Generals.

Antony to seal Gorshkov deal during Russia visit

New Delhi, October 11
Playing its military-diplomacy cards correctly, India has yet again showed that it was “comfortable” with both, the USA and Russia. The Defence Minister AK Antony leaves for Russia on October 13 to ink the pending deal for the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and also finalise the extension of the existing military cooperation agreement between the two countries.

On the other hand, Indian Army and the Indian Air Force will stage separate exercises with their US counterparts within this month. The exercise between Indian Army and the US Army starts on October 12 and is the biggest ever between the two countries. It will have participation of armoured elements of both sides. The IAF exercise will be to fine-tune the carrying capacities of the transport planes.
Meanwhile, sources in the defence ministry said, “Both countries will seal the deal for Admiral Gorshkov during Antony’s visit to Russia.” Apart from signing the deal, the two countries will discuss projects like development of fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), T-90 tanks and issues relating to supersonic BrahMos missiles.
Crucially, Antony will also lay the foundation for extending the existing inter-governmental commission beyond 2010. The deal for extension will be formally signed by the Prime Minister’s of the two countries when Manmohan Singh visits Russia at the end of this year. However, Antony and his Russian counterpart AE Serdyukov will tie up the looses ends.
India and Russia had concluded an agreement in December 1988, which envisaged a programme for defence cooperation between the two countries up to the year 2010.
Modernisation of the Sukhoi-30 MK1 aircraft is also expected to come up for discussion. The aircraft, contracted in 1996, are due for overhaul shortly.


Baloch story a lie, says PM

Mumbai, October 11
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today categorically rejected as “false” Pakistan’s charges blaming India for terrorism in Balochistan and emphatically said the country is not in the business of “spreading” terror.

Singh on the other hand sent a strong message to that country saying, “Pakistan should realise the great harm that patronisation of terrorist groups has done to South Asia.”
Replying to a pointed question on Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s allegation that India was arming militants in Balochistan, Singh said, “This is entirely wrong.”
“We are not in the business of spreading terror in Pakistan or in any other country. We are not in that business. And the Government of Pakistan and the people will jolly well know that their accusations are false accusations,” Singh told a press conference here.
On the situation in the neighbourhood, the PM said, “We have to make adequate preparations to deal with the consequences of this overflow of terrorism from the neighbourhood to our country. We are taking all necessary steps in that direction but it is still my belief that particularly Pakistan and the people and Government of Pakistan should realise the great harm and (their) patronisation of terror groups have done to the South Asian region,” he said.
“We need a neighbourhood of peace, friendliness and I will be the last one to say that, I think, if these conditions prevail (like) today in our neighbourhood in Pakistan and in Afghanistan the situation is not what it should be.” He was replying to a query about the recent blast outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul and the terror attack at the Pakistan army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
On domestic issues, Singh refused to bracket Naxals with terrorists and ruled out use of armed forces against them. — PTI & Tribune

India Battles ‘Red Terror’

The Maoist-Naxalite threat turns up the heat in India, with extremists on the rampage, attacking civilians and killing 17 police officers this month, and the government preparing for a major military offensive, Animesh Roul writes for ISN Security Watch.
By Animesh Roul in New Delhi for ISN Security Watch

In a brutal show of force, hundreds of left-wing extremists (also known as Maoists or Naxalites) attacked a police unit killing 17 officers in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district on 8 October, despite threats from state and federal governments of a strong military response if extremists failed to renounce violence. 
Earlier that week, Maoists extremists beheaded an abducted senior police official in Chhattisgarh state following a failed bid to swap jailed Maoists leaders.
Reacting to the latest Taliban-style execution, Minster of Home Affairs P Chidambaram told local media that the violence was a possible response to the arrest of some senior CPI-Maoist leaders.
Samarji, Maoist leader in Jharkhand, had reportedly demanded through local media that the abducted police official be swapped for three recently arrested cadres — Kobad Ghandy, Chhattradhar Mahato and Chandra Bhushan Yadav.
Maoists have been targeting legislators, security officials and government properties in regular intervals in their so-called Red Corridor, which comprises swathes of territory including parts central and eastern India.
According to government sources, the extremists control nearly 40,000 square kilometers across 20 states.

The Indian government now concedes that the Naxalites pose one of the greatest threats to the country’s security.
In India, left-wing extremism emerged from a place called Naxalbari in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal in 1967 under the leadership of Charu Mazumdar. Since then, the movement has come a long way from what was a rather small-scale local rebellion of farmers and tribal peoples.

Maoists in India, as elsewhere, have adopted the ‘Protracted People’s War’ (PPW) as the strategy to achieve their political objective. The PPW is divided into three phases: occupy the land; step up the guerilla struggle; and bring power to the people.
Urbanizing terror
Speaking to ISN Security Watch, Rajat Kujur, co-author of Maoism in India: Reincarnation of Ultra Left Wing Extremism in the Twenty-First Century (Routledge, 2009, Forthcoming), said that some significant changes [have] occurred in the Maoist modus operandi of late.” He said that the Maoists were moving away from the traditional guerilla formula of ambush towards a novel hit-and-run formula and an urban strategy.
There been violent clashes between armed tribal groups backed by Maoists and security forces in West Bengal’s Nandigram, Singur and Lalgarh areas over land acquisition by the state government. And of late, many Maoists cadres from Indian metropolises including New Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur and Hyderabad have been arrested.
According to Kujur, these developments should largely have been expected. 
“Encircling the Urban areas definitely is a Maoist technique,” Kujur said, explaining that “once the guerilla warfare reaches a point, the classic Maoist formula says they must start encircling the cities, which they are doing now.”
Nihar Nayak, Maoist expert at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA), agrees. “In their mass mobilization effort, Maoists are now garnering support from intellectuals, students, slum dwellers, minority populations and laborers in the Cities and towns,” he told ISN Security Watch.
“In urban areas, the CPI Maoist has been forming a Tactical United Front with organizations that oppose the Indian State. It has also infiltrated existing trade unions and plans to float new ones in all big companies both for political and funding purposes.”
In a recent interview with a national daily, Koteshwar Rao, a politburo member of the CPI (Maoists) in charge of their West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkand operations, disclosed they had joined forces with northeast separatist groups and Islamist organizations in order to fight the Indian government.
Nayak recalled that “the CPI-Maoist’s January 2007 resolution had prompted the extremists to reach out to Muslims and other minorities to spread the movement throughout the country.”
On the offensive
The government is planning a multi-pronged military operation in ‘hot pursuit’ of extremists that will include a developmental package for tribal regions starting in mid-October.
The scheduled military campaign, now dubbed the ‘October Offensive,’ will be carried out with help from civilian and military agencies such as the Anti- Maoist Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) force, the Indian air force, the Indian Space Research Organization, paramilitary forces such as the Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force.
“This will be the first time India will wage such a military offensive, though not a full-fledged war against its own people.”
However, “We do not consider this as our own Swat [referring to anti-Taliban operations in neighboring Pakistan] at all, as media are painting it,” a senior security official involved in the operation told ISN security Watch under condition of anonymity.
Nayak plays down the euphoria of a military offensive to root out Maoist extremism in India. He underscores that this “cannot be a long term solution to the protracted Maoist insurgency in the country.
“Historical evidence suggests that even if the state managed to suppress the movement for some time, the Maoist movement would [return] with new vigor and manifest itself in most a virulent form,” he said.
Similar views are expressed by Mahendra Kumawat, a former paramilitary chief who was quoted in The Telegraph on 4 Kolkata. In charge of anti-Naxalite operations in his earlier capacity, Kumawat questioned the government’s ‘crackdown first - development-later strategy’ and urged it to refrain from a “strike policy” that only involves bloodshed and disruption.
Kujur concurred, saying, “This military campaign and economic overtures notwithstanding, the government needs to ensure that the people of those affected regions enjoy the benefits of good governance.”
“Again, one needs to understand that Naxalism is a political problem and it needs to be solved politically,” he added.


Army not to be used against Naxals: PM

The government will not use the armed forces to fight Maoists, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Mumbai on Sunday.
Singh reiterated that Maoists were India’s biggest security threat. “But paramilitary forces and police are adequate (to deal with them),” he said, quelling speculation that the Indian Air Force may be used to bomb Naxal-dominated areas.
He added that it was also necessary to look into the reasons why sections of people — specially tribals — became alienated from the state.
The Maoists, who have killed 250 security men in the first eight months of this year alone, currently hold sway across 180 districts in 10 states, or nearly 40 per cent of India’s territory. Most of their strongholds are in tribal areas. 
Answering a host of questions on different issues at a press conference, Singh, who was in Mumbai on the last day of the Maharashtra assembly election campaign, dismissed Pakistan’s allegation that India was arming militants in Balochistan.
He also assured citizens that the worst was over as far as price rise was concerned.
Singh reacted to Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik’s allegations that India was arming militants in Balochistan. “India has no role in promoting any terrorist activity. Their (Pakistan’s) people and government jolly well know it,” he said.
He viewed the Pakistani court formally charging the seven 26/11 suspects on Saturday as an admission from Pakistan for the first time that its citizens were involved in the terror attack on Mumbai last year. “Pakistan had never before agreed to this... So there is some progress,” he said. 
On the price rise front, the Prime Minister said: “The prices of some items have gone up due to specific reasons like drought. I am hopeful that we will have a normal rabi (winter) crop ... and if it is normal, it will impact the situation.”


India Likely to Test-Fire BrahMos Supersonic Missile in Dec

To add more teeth to the country's underwater weapons delivery capabilities, India is planning to test-fire the 290-km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from an undersea platform off the coast of Orissa soon.

The test-firing is planned to be carried out in mid-December and will prove the Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos cruise missile's capability to be fired from submarines, Defence Ministry sources told PTI.

Underwater weapon-delivery platforms are considered to be the most potent second strike capability and the addition of nuclear capable BrahMos in its submerged arsenal is expected to provide more strength to India's 'no first strike' nuclear policy.

India has developed significant underwater weapon delivery platforms in the recent past including an indigenously-built nuclear submarine INS Arihant and successfully test-fired the nuclear capable 700 km range K-15 Shaurya missile early this year. The Navy is also expecting to receive a Russian-made Akula-II class 'Nerpa' nuclear submarine on lease by early next year.

The test-firing of the BrahMos is likely be done from a pontoon at Integrated Test Range in Balasore on Orissa coast from a DRDO facility. The same pontoon was used for carrying out the test-firing of the 700-km range K-15 'Shaurya' Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile early this year, the sources said.

A ring will have to be fitted in the existing pontoon for fitting-in the BrahMos, which has a relatively smaller diameter than the K-15 SLBM, the sources said.

The under-water cruise missile will have the same capabilities as its earlier variants and would be able to strike at both land and sea-based targets, they added.

The Indian Navy also wants that its second line of Project 75A submarines should have the capability of firing the BrahMos. The Navy had released the Request for Information (RFI) in September last year for acquiring six submarines as a follow-on order of the Scorpene submarines.

BrahMos has been developed jointly by India and Russia and has been inducted in the Army and Navy already. The IAF is also working on integrating the missile on its Su-30MKI air superiority aircraft.

The two countries have also signed an agreement for developing the hypersonic version of the missile, which currently flies at a speed of 2.8 mach.

Braveheart carries trapped labourers out of manhole, falls ill

Dharamvir Singh (38), a major in the Indian Army, climbed down a manhole on Saturday and carried out two contract labourers, but fell ill in the process.

He has been admitted to INS Ashwini Hospital at Navy Nagar, having apparently inhaled noxious fumes. His effort too went in vain, for both labourers died.

The labourers, Brothers Ramkishan (30) and Kisan Rajouria (28), got stuck in the manhole near US Club at Navy Nagar, Colaba, while they were cleaning it on Saturday evening, Cuffe Parade police said.

Captain Manohar Nambiar, the defence spokesperson said, “Major Singh was on his way back after playing squash at US Club when he saw a crowd near the manhole. On asking them, he got to know about the sweepers stuck inside. Singh and his companions arranged for some rope, which was tied around his waist, and he was lowered some 12 to 13 feet into the manhole and he managed to pull them out. The 30 to 40 seconds that he had spent inside the manhole during this time left him giddy and dehydrated, causing him to collapse after the rescue.” 


Facing the Chinese challenge

THE RECENT statement of the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal VP Naik and that of the just retired Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta a little earlier, though presenting a grim picture of the state of the country’s preparedness with regard to its Naval and Air Defence, deserve appreciation of the nation for their bold truthfulness. They, indeed, represent a healthy departure from the general age-old Government policy of projecting a sab achcha (all well) scenario even at the worst of times, ostensibly, for preventing demoralisation and containing panic that may get set off by the truth about our state of preparedness.

In the context of the Chinese threat we will, however, have to bear in mind that in view of the nature of the terrain over which the likely war with China will be fought, the role of the air forces of both sides is going to be restricted. The jungle and mountainous terrain of the likely area of operations precludes the possibility of effective tactical air support. On the other hand, any strategic bombing by the Chinese Air Force could, perhaps, be ruled out on ideological considerations as the bombs will not be able to distinguish between China’s proletariat friends and the bourgeoisie enemies in India and could damage their ultimate cause of fomenting World Revolution. This leaves the Red Air Force with the only option of interdiction, (cutting off Indian supply lines). 

So even if China has the third largest air force in the world and India only 1/3 of that strength, the disparity between the two is not likely to prove too disastrous for India. Some under developed countries of the world possessing small air forces are, in fact, known to have carried out jungle and mountain warfare successfully against developed countries possessing large air forces. The same goes for our naval disparity with the Chinese. The navies of the two nations will come fully into play only in case of a protracted war on land spilling into the sea with the role of attacking/defending each others sea trade lanes. In the shorter version of the war, which evidently is the order of the day, India can expect nothing more that small skirmishes with China at sea. The saving grace for us in either case will be that with the trade interests of many other countries involved in the region, the naval war is not likely to remain confined to the countries engaged in the war on land. It could enlarge into a much bigger conflict, which would only be to China’s disadvantage.

Undoubtedly, the decisive force in the war between the two countries, if it comes, is going to be the Army. Consequently, any disparity in strength between the Indian and the Chinese Armies that weighs heavily against the Indian Army could have a telling effect on the outcome of the war to the extent of it proving disastrous for us. Such a situation should, therefore, be of greater concern to the nation than inadequacies in India’s air and naval strengths.

In a recent interview, our Chief of the Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor, is reported to have rubbished the chances of a repeat of the 1962 Sino-India war and assured the nation that the Indian Army is quite capable of looking after and ensuring the defence of the country. While no one doubts the Army’s sincerity and the determination of its men to fight to the last drop of the blood that the Army Chief has spoken of, doubts continue to lurk whether he has said it all. Evidently there are certain facts related to disparities that Indians suffer vis-à-vis the Chinese, which though glaringly visible have not been discussed. It is for instance quite reliably known that China has deployed about 13 infantry divisions in Tibet and is capable of reinforcing its strength at short notice – thanks to its vast reserves held at the mainland and its greatly improved land communications with Tibet. 

India has, on the other hand, about half that number deployed against them with no capacity for reinforcements in view of an equally belligerent Pakistan operating all along its backyard. Besides, while the Chinese have kept their army generally concentrated at a couple of places in the rear of the Indo-Tibetan border, the Indian forces are mostly deployed all along the Line of Actual Control on a defensive role. The initial initiative, therefore, rests with the Chinese as they are in a position to strike at any time and at any place of their choosing. Against this India, apparently, has just enough strength to hold the defence line and none for launching any counter offensive to force the Chinese on the defensive. In military training, ‘offence’ is considered to be the best form of ‘defence’ and our present defensive posture against the Chinese would appear to be flawed on this account.

The question that arises is as to why we are not fully prepared to meet the Chinese threat. The alibi put out by Air Marshal VP Naik that preparation requires time would not hold water considering the fact that the Chinese threw the gauntlet at us more than five decades ago and we have not been able to pick it up till today. The fact of the matter is that over the years the will of our political leadership has wilted at the very thought of the colossal effort - involving sacrifice, dedication and hard work - required to meet the Chinese challenge and rather than facing the threat squarely it has continued to opt for a policy of, as the saying goes, letting the sleeping dog lie in the fond hope that it may not wake up on its own. Assured by such wishful thinking our defence preparations have, apparently, moved at a leisurely pace based more on convenience rather than necessity.

There is no rationale behind the national psyche though. What does China have which India doesn’t? India has an equally booming economy and is bestowed with a vast reservoir of the best fighting material in the world. Besides the effort required for meeting the Chinese threat may not be as colossal as imagined. By raising our defence expenditure from the present two per cent of our Gross National Product to seven per cent like that of China we could, perhaps, stand up to the Chinese black mail fairly effectively. What is required is the national will. We must understand that there is no alternative to facing the Chinese challenge other than surrender. Let us not be deceived by the hope that the United States will come to our rescue if China attacks. We must remember that no country will ever fight another’s war. We have the example of the Indo-Pak war of 1971. Though before the war many friends of Pakistan had promised to intervene actively on its behalf none of them came forward to pull Pakistan out of the desperate situation before it was forced to surrender.

For the intellectual and the idealist in India who seems to suffer pricks of conscience over preparation for war it may be clarified that preparing for war by itself does not amount to jingoism. By remaining prepared for war we will be, in fact, only creating a credible deterrent that would dissuade our enemies from taking recourse to war for settling their disputes with us. It is not said in vain that “if you want peace, prepare for war.”


Chinese Threat on Border and India’s Defence Preparedness

Notwithstanding the assertion made by S.M. Krishna, the Indian External Affairs Minister, that the India-China boundary happens to be one of the most peaceful of our borders, continued Chinese incursions along the Line of Actual Control and the series of strategic moves being undertaken by Beijing in regard to its relations with some smaller countries of the subcontinent, point to a sinister Chinese design of encircling India. It appears that Beijing still rues its decision of voluntarily withdrawing from the 90,000 sq km of Indian territory it had occupied in 1962 and has been harbouring a desire to make up the loss at an opportune moment.
China wears an inscrutable mask and India has so far been unable to see through it as it did in 1962. China is now India’s largest trading partner and the amount of transaction between the two countries touched a whopping $ 52 billion last year. This has possibly given India a comforting idea that China would never choose to go for an all-out war in spite of the fact that the Chinese Army has been carrying on incursions into Indian territories not just in the western and central sectors but in Sikkim too where the border is now undisputed.
But the Government of India is trying to keep the people in the dark about some serious moves of the Chinese Army. Recently they penetrated deep inside Ladakh and painted the word China on rocks and boulders in an area which is not very far from the Pangong-Tso lake, a highly sensitive point near the international boundary. But long before there were reports that China had built a helipad in an area in the Arunachal Pradesh sector which, in fact, belongs to India. There is nothing new about the Chinese presence in Ladakh as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has often been violating the boundary in the Pangong-Tso lake which is situated in the neighbourhood of the Chushul mountains acoross the Changla Pass in the northeast of Leh. Forty per cent of this lake belongs to India while the rest sixty per cent is Chinese domain. But China’s patrol boats often penetrate deep into Indian waters and they sometimes willingly barge into Indian naval vessels. Intelligence reports, quoted by the national as well as regional media, have pointed out quite sometime back that China has built its own road network inside Ladakh.
The Government of India is well aware of the Chinese moves along the border and in recent past it has, on quite a few occasions, hurriedly moved Army units away from the Jammu and Kashmir border and posted them along the boundary with China. This happened sometime ago when Beijing had suddenly increased the strength of its Army near a mountain ridge which is very close to the trijunction of India, Bhutan and China. But the most inexplicable side of the whole story is the hush-hush atmosphere which India prefers to drape over the whole issue.
A.K. Antony, the Indian Defence Minister, was perfectly right when he had voiced his concerns sometime back about the unsatisfactory state of communication network on the Indian side of the border. He had reasons to do so as China has not only been strengthening its communication system in the area but trying to attract some smaller subcontinental countries in such a type of patron- client relationship which would go a long way towards putting India in a disadvantageous position.
This forms China’s policy of ‘encirclement’, a diplomatic-military initiative Beijing has been practising for a long time. In line with this, China has been gradually pushing its outposts nearer to the Indian border, the most important example being Xigatse, the second most important city of Tibet which has been put on the Golmud-Lhasa extended railway line. Xigatse has now become a bustling centre of not only trade and commerce but Chinese espionage activity as well. So far as Nepal is concerned, in addition to the Kodari highway, which was built with Chinese assistance in 1960, a second highway connecting Nepal and Tibet has come up. Although the Maoists are no more part of the Nepalese Government, yet there are valid reasons to believe that the bashing of Indian priests by the Maoists at the Pashupatinath temple may have had Chinese blessings.
China is now one of the most important patrons of Pakistan in international politics and in return Pakistan has allowed Beijing to open at least four link roads from the Karakoram Highway one of which will connect the Gwadar deep- sea port which China has built for Pakistan. In the world energy market Beijing is now in brisk business of securing energy supplies most of which pass through the Persian Gulf. By using the Gwadar port China gets an automatic access to the Persian Gulf where it has substantially increased its naval strength in recent times. For Myanmar, it has developed the Irrawady corridor thereby creating a netwok of roads, rails and waterways. This corridor is extremely important for China as it would give its landlocked areas an access to the Bay of Bengal where Beijing is rapidly increasing its naval strength. In competition India has also agreed to invest $ 100 million for upgrading the Sittwe port and developing the Kaladan river system of Myanmar. However, in matters of respective bilateral relations China has left India way behind. Beijing’s relations with the Myanmar military junta are extremely cozy and it has always stood up for Yangon to block sanctions against the junta in international organi-sations. China has already secured rights for free use of Myanmar’s river systems. Due to this facility it has been able to build up surveillance stations on the Coco Island near the Andamans. That India has recognised the probable Chinese threat from the sea becomes clear from New Delhi’s decision to upgrade its naval station in the Andamans.
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The military threat from China is real. The numerical strength of its Army is 2.5 million, more than double that of India, while the range of its missiles is more than its Indian counterparts. Quite a good number of Chinese missiles in Tibet carry nuclear warheads. This year China’s defence expenditure has increased by 14.9 per cent. This would push up Beijing’s defence budget to $ 70.2 billion, an increase of $ 9.1 billion from the previous year. While India lags far behind in this respect, China now stands very near to Japan, Russia and the UK in respect of military spending. Chinese experts are always at pains to point out that their country spends only about 1.5 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for defence. But China’s GDP has been growing by more than 10 per cent annually. It has no staggering inflation and its currency is stable.
This has enabled China to build its war industry. China now not only produces arms and ammunitions for its own use but supplies them to a good number of other countries also. They include, apart from Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt, Tanzania, Albania, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka. In 2007 China successfully carried out its anti-satellite test. It has acquired technology for construction of aircraft carriers, for carrying out air-to-air refuelling and for developing anti-tank missiles. While its MiG- 33 is much superior to the accident prone MiG-21 which the Indian Air Force uses, it has also developed a multi-role fighter aircraft christened CAC-J7 which is widely used not only by Pakistan but Myanmar and Bangladesh as well. Another very important arsenal rolling out of China is the basic jet trainer-cum-light attack aircraft, a product of the Hongdu Aviation Industry. Its export variety is called K-8 in Pakistan which uses it extensively and has a 45 per cent share in its joint production with China. China’s participation in the production of the Jalalat class missile fast attack naval craft in the Pakistan Navy Dockyard at Karachi is too well known. Nowadays Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh use large numbers of patrol boats, fast attack crafts and vessels for amphibious operations either designed or built by China. India’s presence in this field is minimal, the only noteworthy example being the Hindustan Shipyard-built 1890 tonne patrol vessel “Shaurya” which is used by the Sri Lankan Navy.
China now considers itself a great power and a clash of interests with India is inevitable. It looks upon the Asia-Pacific region as its hegemony. As a consequence it s likely to come into conflict with India’s “look East” policy. So there are enough grounds, strewn all over, for escalation of tension between India and China, the most important of them being the unresolved border question with Beijing not accepting the Line of Actual Control and the Mcmahon Line. New Delhi recognises the danger and therefore it has recently decided on a series of steps like stationing of Sukhoi-30 aircraft at Tejpur, revival of abandoned airfields in Ladakh, posting of two Army divisions for the defence of Tawang and building of all-weather roads upto the farthest Army post in the border. Defence experts, however, opine that due to the Pakistan-centric defence policy pursued so long, not an illogical thing either, India’s defence preparedness has to be improved considerably to meet the Chinese might in the extreme heights of the Himalayas.
Unfortunately the biggest impediment before such an important task is the attitude and self-deception of the Indian ruling class. Although George Fernandes, the Defence Minister during the NDA regime, always voiced concern about Chinese intentions, he did not get sufficient support from other members of the Vajpaiyee Cabinet. Manmohan Singh, the present Prime Minister, is also advising restraint with respect to the attitude towards China. Obviously he is trying to sweep every uncomfortable information beneath the carpet. Manmohan Singh has reasons to do so as he is in the best position to know how unprepared his government is to match China force by force.
Some honest confessions are also emerging. Sometime back Admiral Sureesh Mehta, the former Naval Chief, was honest enough to admit the inadequacies of the Indian Navy. The other day Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, the incumbent Chief of the Indian Air Force, has said that the IAF is only one-third the size of its Chinese counterpart. But the political tribe is desperate to hide its failure.
Indira Gandhi always tried to keep herself posted with latest indepth information about the security affairs of her country. The same should be expected from Manmohan Singh. If he is honest enough he should ask explanations from Pranab Mukherjee, the Defence Minister for a large part of the previous UPA Government, about infra-structural development along the LAC and inade-quacies of the armed forces. What has now prompted A.K. Antony and the Naval as well as Air Chiefs to admit serious drawbacks about India’s defence preparedness?
Let Manmohan Singh be reminded of a hilarious assumption by the people of Sikkim. The condition of the road from Gangtok to Nathu La is atrocious. But local drivers who ply their vehicles along this road proffer a different reason for this. In the event of a war in the Nathu La sector the Indian side will be vanquished and swept aside by the Chinese Army within a few days. The Indian Army and the Government of India know this. So they do not repair the road to Gangtok in the hope that bad roads might ultimately turn out to be the only defence against the might of Beijing, the drivers point out.


Two Prithvi-II missiles testfired within a gap of five minutes

Balasore (Orissa), Oct 12 (PTI) India Monday successfully testfired in quick succession two nuclear-capable 'Prithvi-II' surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 350 km from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, about 15 km from Balasore in India's eastern state of Orissa.

The two indigenously developed missiles were test fired successfully at 10:28 AM IST and 10:33 AM IST, from mobile launchers as part of user trials by the army, defence sources said.

The trajectories of the missiles were tracked by a battery of long-range, multi-function radars and electro-optic telemetry stations at different locations for post-launch analysis, the sources said.

Scientists of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) supervised the test-firing with logistic support from the ITR personnel here. Naval ships were anchored near the impact points in the Bay of Bengal.

Maoists blow up railway tracks, torch trucks in Jhar



Ranchi, Oct 12 (PTI) Maoists today blew up a stretch of railway track and set ablaze three trucks in Jharkhand as they began their two-day Jharkhand-Bihar shutdown in protest against what they alleged the Centre's effort to put down the CPI(Maoists) movement by force.

"They (Maoists) blew up a stretch of railway track around 2.30 am at Jharandih in the Coal belt Industrial Chord section in Dhanbad," Senior Public Relations Officer of the Dhanbad Rail Division Amrendra Das told PTI in Dhanbad.

Shaktipunj Express was held up due to blast, he added.

In another incident, about 12 armed Maoists set fire to three trucks at around 1 am in Giridih's Isri area and cut down trees to block road traffic on the Dumri-Giridih road, Giridih Superintendent of police Ravi Kant Dhan said in Giridih.