Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Indian Army: Organizational Changes in the Offing

This is a very interesting article which needs debating. Please come up with your thoughts which we will posted on this Blog.
Harbhajan Singh
Lt Gen (Retd)

The Indian Army: Organizational Changes in the Offing by Firdaus Ahmed

The recent headline in a leading national daily, “Indian Army set for its most radical revamp,” is entirely believable. The article informs that “proposals include setting up of a Strategic Command, comprising of Army's offensive capabilities” which may be implemented as early as March 2010. The reorganization involves the “creation of a Strategic Command, under which the three Strike Corps would be brought together” as “part of the ‘transformation study’ done by a high-level team under Army chief, General VK Singh, when he was heading the Eastern Command.” The article examines this move in relation to India’s Pakistan policy and the inescapable fact of South Asia’s nuclearization.

India will reengage Pakistan after the long gap since July last year with their Foreign Secretaries meeting on the sidelines of a SAARC meeting in Thimpu next month. This will set the stage for talks between their Foreign Ministers during the first quarter of this year. The strategic changes in India would occur around this time. The message to Pakistan is stark. How will Pakistan react? Although there is no direct link between resumption of the peace process and military restructuring, this exercise has long-term implications for the peace process.

The implications for the peace process arise at two levels - overt and less visible. The overt message is that India is ‘upping the ante’ by establishing a capability for escalation-dominance. Pakistan, led by its Army, will receive the message that India now has an answer to the problem of proxy war. Pakistan would, in response, need to rethink its India strategy. The less visible message is that India has little faith in the peace process. These changes would prepare India for the worst case scenario in which it may need to credibly coerce and possibly compel Pakistan.

Bringing the strike corps under one command headquarters would bring synergy to India’s offensive capabilities, making them seem more potent when employed together. The headquarters enables this capability, although these strike corps can be deployed in the geographical commands, if required.

This capability harks back to the ‘Sundarji doctrine’, in which the strike corps was designed to slice Pakistan at its waist in a counteroffensive. During Operation Parakram, Pravin Sawhney and VK Sood reported that the three strike corps were deployed for this purpose in mid 2002, when they were co-located in the desert after the Kalu Chak incident. By making this capability more ‘doable’ through the creation of a strategic command headquarters, the Army seems oblivious of the nuclear dimension that is present since 1998.

The implications of the nuclear dilemma are of equal consequence. Currently, Pakistan has an unstated nuclear doctrine, that one observer interprets as ‘asymmetric escalation’. Most believe that its nuclear threshold is high enough to permit limited conventional operations, even at strike corps levels and up to a limited depth. This can be triggered by India’s strike corps operating together under a single command headquarters, which highlights the limitations in rationale of a single command headquarters.

The doctrinal trend has moved from the Sundarji doctrine to limited Cold Start offensives. Now, with Cold Start in cold storage, it is to a ‘proactive strategy’. This movement was broadly in consonance with the imperatives of nuclearization. The current reported moves amount to risking a nuclear showdown, which is a strategy that India can do without. It is a strategy that can be adopted in a war situation with one of the command headquarters, Central Command, for instance, playing a role. However, to establish a permanent strategic command headquarters will amount to keeping a sword pointed at Pakistan’s innards, given the message that India, with its offensive capability enhanced, would be able to continue operations even in case of nuclear first use by Pakistan.

Possible Pakistani reactions may occur at two levels – one, its peacetime equations with India and second, in wartime. If the nature of the Pakistani regime is any indication, it would first attempt to balance India. Pakistan could increase its reliance on the nuclear deterrent and its dependence on China. For Pakistan’s reliance on the Chinese, the Indian Army has a ready answer - ‘two front’ doctrine.

In conflict, this change indicates an expectation that nuclear deterrence will work. In other words, the proposed changes would require rethinking whether India’s nuclear doctrine is adequate. Since the conventional and nuclear levels are interlinked, changes in one cannot be considered in isolation from the other. The consequent changes in the nuclear doctrine are not known. However, could the tail end up wagging the dog?

Mr. AK Antony, who will have to take the ultimate call, needs to thus ask himself the question: “Does the proposed change meet India’s security interests?”
The Indian Army: Organizational Changes in the Offing

Pakistan Army and Indian Bureaucracy are feathers of the same bird- Terrorize

Pakistani Army and Indian Bureaucracy (read IAS) are Destroying Pakistan and India by Abhay Vaidya | Monday, December 27, 2010
"Pakistan has been ruined by the army and India by the bureaucracy”. So wrote a letter writer while responding to a 2009 Asian survey that ranked Singapore as the country with the best bureaucracy and India,the worst.

Have corrupt bureaucrats done more harm to our nation than Corrupt politicians? The various governments that have ruled India have been punished, tolerated or rewarded by the people through the Ballot box. Such is the power of the vote that even the most powerful of politicians can be punished, as happened with none less than Indira Gandhi and Rajiv.

Chastened in defeat, top politicians characteristically speak of “accepting the people’s verdict”. They resolve to introspect, rebuild and reconstruct. Have you seen this happen with IAS bureaucrats and their associations? Article continues below the advertisement... The lobby of corrupt bureaucrats lies virtually untouched; like a computer virus deeply embedded in the system, which we know is infected but cannot be repaired.

The Bombay high court raised this very point last week while hearing a petition on the Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society scam in Mumbai. Pointing out that the bureaucrats who cleared key files in the revenue and urban development departments were gifted flats in Adarsh Society; the court asked why no action was being taken against these officers. Using precise words, the court described the scam “as a clear-cut case of manipulation” by the bureaucrats. Precisely, manipulation of the laws, rules and regulations by the faceless bureaucrat is what is at the root of some of the biggest corrupt deals in India.

Thus, whether it is the Rs1.76 lakh crore 2G spectrum scam, the Commonwealth Games or any of the land-related frauds that have plagued the country decade after decade, itis often the corrupt bureaucrat from the celebrated IAS cadre who has facilitated the corruption.

Bureaucrats who try to clean up the system at their level and stand up to the politicians are cannibalised by their own cadre, as happened with Arun Bhatia who was transferred 26 times in his career of 30 years. After one such transfer from the Pune Municipal Corporation in 1999, which was effectively challenged through a writ petition in the Bombay high court, the chief justice described the transfer as “outrageous”. He said, “We wish to emphasise that during the present days when, unfortunately, corruption and dishonesty are at their peak, honesty and action as per law deserve a pat, rather than punishment. The transfer of Bhatia, in our view, is in the nature of punishment”. We curse the Indian bureaucracy because of the gross inefficiencies at the grassroots.

Our attack is misplaced because we need to focus on the corrupt in the IAS, to start with. Deal firmly with the top and the rest will clean up itself. The politician is afraid of the masses because they can destroy him through their votes. The corrupt Bureaucrat is virtually fearless because he stands protected by his political masters and peers. He is the bigger traitor of the two and India needs effective mechanisms to bring him to book.

If one were to Give a harsh analogy between corruption and terrorism, the corrupt politician is the terrorist who is the face of the act and the corrupt. Bureaucrats are the sleeper cells who provide him the support. They are the more insidious of the two because they are cowardly, lie undetected and having once tasted blood, are ready for the next Operation.
Source: DNA, India
Pakistani Army and Indian Bureaucracy are Destroying Pakistan and India

China's Coming Fall

Lawrence Solomon: China’s coming fall January 22, 2011 – 12:27 am
Like the Soviet Union before it, much of China’s supposed boom is illusory — and just as likely to come crashing down.
In 1975, while I was in Siberia on a two-month trip through the U.S.S.R., the illusion of the Soviet Union’s rise became self-evident. In the major cities, the downtowns seemed modern, comparable to what you might see in a North American city. But a 20-minute walk from the centre of downtown revealed another world — people filling water buckets at communal pumps at street corners. The U.S.S.R. could put a man in space and dazzle the world with scores of other accomplishments yet it could not satisfy the basic needs of its citizens. That economic system, though it would largely fool the West until its final collapse 15 years later, was bankrupt, and obviously so to anyone who saw the contradictions in Soviet society.

The Chinese economy today parallels that of the latter-day Soviet Union — immense accomplishments co-existing with immense failures. In some ways, China’s stability today is more precarious than was the Soviet Union’s before its fall. China’s poor are poorer than the Soviet Union’s poor, and they are much more numerous — about one billion in a country of 1.3 billion. Moreover, in the Soviet Union there was no sizeable middle class — just about everyone was poor and shared in the same hardships, avoiding resentments that might otherwise have arisen.

In China, the resentments are palpable. Many of the 300 million people who have risen out of poverty flaunt their new wealth, often egregiously so. This is especially so with the new class of rich, all but non-existent just a few years ago, which now includes some 500,000 millionaires and 200 billionaires. Worse, the gap between rich and poor has been increasing. Ominously, the bottom billion views as illegitimate the wealth of the top 300 million.

How did so many become so rich so quickly? For the most part, through corruption. Twenty years ago, the Communist Party decided that “getting rich is glorious,” giving the green light to lawless capitalism. The rulers in China started by awarding themselves and their families the lion’s share of the state’s resources in the guise of privatization, and by selling licences and other access to the economy to cronies in exchange for bribes. The system of corruption, and the public acceptance of corruption, is now pervasive — even minor officials in government backwaters are now able to enrich themselves handsomely.

This ethos of corruption is captured in a popular song in China, I want to marry a government official, whose lyrics explain why an official makes for a good matrimonial catch: “He has power, a car and house; He only needs to drink tea and read the newspaper during work; He never spends his own money on cigarettes and alcohol; He can get free food every day; He can get promoted by only kissing his boss’s ass.”

If the corruption were limited to awarding contracts to friends and giving mines, power plants, and other public assets to relatives, the upset among the poor, who would realize some trickle-down benefits, would be constrained. In fact, the corruption deprives the poor of their homes, livelihoods, health and lives.

Take golf courses, a status symbol among China’s new rich. To obtain the immense tracts of land needed near urban markets, developers have been cooking up deals with local officials that see land expropriated and typically tens of thousands of residents and businesses evicted per golf course, generally with unfair compensation. Although the construction of new golf courses is officially banned, thousands more are expected to be built in the next few years.

Golf courses aside, countless other real estate developments abetted by officialdom likewise wipe out entire communities. Then there are resource projects such as hydro dams that can displace numerous people and businesses — the Three Gorges Dam alone displaced several million people.

The corruption extends to the enforcement of regulatory standards for health and safety, which few in China trust. In recent years China has endured a tainted milk scandal and a tainted blood scandal, each of which implicated corrupt officials in widespread death and debilitation. In a devastating 2008 earthquake, some 90,000 perished, one-third of them children buried alive in 7,000 shoddily built “tofu schools” that skimped on materials. Nearby buildings for the elites that met building standards, including a school for the children of the rich, were largely unscathed.

The government tries to tamp down the outrage over the abuses inflicted on the public by banning demonstrations and censoring the Internet. But it is failing. Year by year, the number of demonstrations increases. Last year alone saw 100,000 such protests across the county, directly involving tens and indirectly perhaps hundreds of millions of protesters.

China is a powder keg that could explode at any moment. And if it does explode, chaos could ensue — as the Chinese are only too well aware, the country has a brutal history of carnage at the hands of unruly mobs. For this reason, corrupt officials inside China, likely by the tens of thousands, have made contingency plans, obtaining foreign passports, buying second homes abroad, establishing their families and businesses abroad, or otherwise planning their escapes. Also for this reason, much of the middle class supports the government’s increasingly repressive efforts.

What might set off that spark? It could be high unemployment, should China be unable to control inflation or the housing bubble that now looms. It could be another natural disaster such as the 2008 earthquake which spawned outrage — rapidly organized via cellphones and the Internet — that the government had difficulty containing. It could be a manmade disaster — many fear that a “tofu dam” might fail, leading to hundreds of thousands of downstream victims.

Whatever might set off that spark, it is only a matter of time. The government shows no interest in relaxing its grip on power — if it did so, the officials in power might face retribution.

Meanwhile, we in the West see a China that by all measures is becoming stronger and stronger, not realizing that it is also becoming more and more brittle. The Soviet regime, when it fell, went out with a whimper. China’s will more likely go out with a bang. No regime can contain the grievances of a billion people for long.
Financial Post
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and a founder of its sister organization, Probe International.
Read more: Click here

China's Sinister Border Activities

Wooing NSCN (IM)
•China agrees to host a permanent representative of the NSCN (IM) from 2008
•The outfit is asked to spy on Indian troops in Arunachal Pradesh and the Dalai Lama
•Pakistan’s ISI also contacts NSCN (IM) and asks it to break the ceasefire with India
•NSCN (IM)’s firepower grows significantly during the ceasefire with India that began in 1995
For decades, India and China have played a cat-and-mouse game, full of intrigue and suspense. Even while New Delhi is trying to find ways around vexatious border issues or making occasional noises about stapled visas, Beijing has been secretly supporting, advising and arming major insurgent outfits in India’s troubled Northeast and the Maoist belt. Unlike the noise and heat the Indo-Pak relationship generates, Indian diplomats maintain a studied silence when it comes to the Chinese hand in the Northeast or arms from across the border reaching Maoists in central India.

In the last three months, however, the Chinese hand in the Northeast has been revealed in great detail. In the early hours of October 2 last year, Indian intelligence officials, along with their counterparts in the National Investigation Agency, accosted a tall, hefty man waiting outside the Patna railway station. The quarry was Anthony Shimray, a key official of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) faction or NSCN(IM), the biggest insurgent outfit in the Northeast. Not only is Shimray a powerful member of the NSCN(IM)’s top leadership, he is also the nephew of its general secretary, T. Muivah, currently in New Delhi for peace talks with the Centre. As the chief arms procurer for the outfit, Shimray also has first-hand information on Chinese efforts to support insurgencies.

Comment: Good work by Saikat Datta. Some of us have been speaking about the Chinese connection to the NE insurgent groups for several years, but without substantive evidence. It's good it is now in the open. GK
Click here to read Outlook's full article

China Diary: Glimpses through my Sojourn

China Diary: Glimpses through my Sojourn- Guest Column by Rakhee Bhattacharya
Dawn was breaking just when I was finishing the fresh cup of green tea. By the Chinese time, it was 6 O’clock in the morning. The China Eastern Airlines flight was readying for touchdown at the airport at Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province of China. The plane was packed to its capacity - there were mostly Chinese and Indian business people.
This was my first visit to China as a member of a delegation from the Government of India to interact with Chinese academia to explore the avenues and prospects of mutual cooperation between the two most populous countries of the world. But the Kunming airport almost took my breath away – not only was it vast, but even at this early morning hour we could feel the tremendous vibrancy and movements of people all over. The rush in fast food outlets in the airport at that early morning told us about the busy schedule of the people. We were received by the representatives of Chinese government as ‘distinguished guests’, and were welcomed through red carpet through their VIP exit. A clean, well-decorated and massively constructed airport dazzled my eyes, in stark contrast to the filth and chaos of the Kolkata’s international airport I had just left.
We had gone there for a two day conference on ‘K2K’, or Kolkata to Kunming Forum, initiated between the provinces of Yunnan and West Bengal in the year 2004 to search for a connection in economic and cultural spaces. Every year this forum meets across the border, and in 2010 the forum arranged its meeting in a small town of Yunnan province, Dehong. So we took another domestic flight from Kunming to reach Dehong in the afternoon the same day.
I was excited to be in China. My knowledge about this nation was only through my reading, only as an outside observer. I had read about things like their centuries old civilization, the Confucian culture and his teaching, the imperial history, communism and finally the economic modernity and mighty military power. The country has survived and passed through tumultuous transitions. It was the country about which Chairman Mao once said that the people here were a blank sheet of paper on which he could write the words of socialism. He indeed had made a Herculean effort to transform China. He has rewritten the history of China since 1949 and provided food and basic necessities to its large hunger-striven and unequal society, could give reasonable amount of redistributive justice to its suffered society, but had taken away the freedom of mind and speech of his people. And not only that, his wrong policies had resulted in the death of at least 30 million people from hunger, starvation and State persecution.
In the later phase, after Mao’s death, the policies of economic liberalism was adopted under the guidance of Deng Xiao Ping, which had transformed China within a fee decades in such a way that the country could no longer be recognized as the old China, and the world could no longer ignore this new China. It appears that with its newly acquired economic and military, this Century is going to be China’s century for the world. The world looks with awe and envy at this new China, which flexes its economic muscle all the time. The so- called ‘China factor’ has entered the strategy and policies of all powerful nations of the world today So there were enough things to attract me in this nation and to allow me to get an insider’s view during that brief sojourn of mine.
Dehong is a small picturesque town of Yunnan province whose beauty and landscape is manicured perfectly to attract tourists and travelers. We were escorted by car through the lovely paved roads of Dehong to a five star hotel, whose mammoth size at the first site has made us spellbound. Since then, for the next three days we have had numerous opportunities to see suchenclaves of prosperity through the super-structures of multiplexes and high rise buildings which is the Chinese way of development, and one cannot definitely miss glitters and dazzles all over. I was impressed by the people, who work hard in an immensely regulated and disciplined system under a single-party authoritarian regime.
The conference was on expanding possibilities of bilateral economic and cultural horizons between Yunnan and West Bengal under the pan-engagement programme of India and China, the two modern super powers of Asia. It was one of my many international exposures, where I was startled by their structured speeches, one-track agenda and their set programmes. There was not a slightest deviation from that. Added to this were their splendid banquets with the display of sumptuous food and gala cultural evenings. There were around twenty five courses of food in each meal having awesome fishes, fresh vegetables, meats of variou varieties, and how could I resist my temptation of tasting the fried insects and fried honey bees! Above all my platter could not get away without sticky rice, which I adore being a daughter of Sylhet. The people I found were wonderful and warm and one had to be moved by their hospitality and charmed by their youth and beauty as well.
But that is not all about China, beneath such structuralism and display, there lies the other China, where people wish to share and emotion to express, but are utterly restrained by the regimentation of their thought. No matter how hard China tries to hide such facts, but the world is aware today about the astounding degree of displacement and denial there in the name of development. The Chinese slums and poverty is no less than a scourge than in any other developing nation in the world, the gap between the rich and the poor is also awfully large just like India. But the only difference is that, their miseries are concealed and our miseries are revealed.
They are voiceless under an autocratic regime and we are vocal in democratic space. I could fortunately make few friends in this short span of time and Cheng was one such very sweet lady, who is a scholar in the Yunnan Development Research Centre. She was all along with us and I have had several opportunities to hear her views as an insider of China. She was candid to express her anguish and annoyance about the lack of freedom of speech in her country, she expressed her anger against the ruthless one-child norm in her country, which denies the innate feeling of a mother, and she showed her concerns about the growing delinquency among youth and large-scale corruption inside the government of China.
We travelled across the province and went up to a small town called Ruili, which borders Myanmar. And while going to Ruili, we actually travelled through the historic Stilwell Road, which was built during the World War II to connect India, China and Myanmar for military purpose. This was in ancient times also a part of Southern Silk Route, which carried ideas, people, trade, and religion connecting India’s Northeast. I was overwhelmed to be in such historic place and then was fascinated to see the degree of similarities that still exists amongst the ethnic groups of Yunnan province and that of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh of India’s Northeast, the area which is familiar to me due to my research exposure. I could correlate many aspects of Northeast India’s ethos which reflected in the footprints of this Yunnan region, lying in the southwestern part of China and geographically so close to India’s Northeast. The ethnic communities like Tai, Singphos, Lisus, Tangsas, Noctes, Wanchos, Khamtis, and many others still have their cultural roots and connectivity across the border. Their habits, customs, cloths, foods, legends are remarkably similar. It was sheer territorial boundary drawn by the colonial rulers for their own interests that had painfully turned these neighbours into awkward strangers.
I was surprised to discover that twenty six different ethnic groups exist in Yunnan province, leaving aside the other parts of China. Their distinct identities are hidden behind the Pan-Chinese identity with Maoist communism and Mandarin language. Their diversities in terms of society, culture, religion, ethnicity, language, and traditions are no less variant and vibrant than in India, but are barely encountered in the world forum.
So the fear that was lurking at the back of my mind was how long China could continue this journey with such unchallenged political suppression, which made such heartless trade-off by marginalizing and oppressing the aspirations of regional identity, and by concealing the pain and misery of its have-nots. The state and its power remained supreme in China’s journey of communism and much important than any individual and his liberty.
Can recognizing Liu-Xiaobo’s work and conferring him the Nobel Peace prize by the West be a step forward within China and for its people to hope for a new life with freedom of speech and expression? I have no answer, but at the end of my journey, I felt claustrophobic and wanted to fly back to my sweet home. While saying adieu to my Chinese friends in the Kunming airport, I quietly hoped and dreamt a future for these wonderful people to have a freer space, where their minds will be without fear under a free sky to create another mighty nation of China the world would like to see.
The writer is a Fellow in Maulana Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Visiting Lecturer in the Department of South and Southeast Asia, University of Calcutta.
China Diary: Glimpses through my Sojourn

Dancing with the Dragon

January 03, 2011 Dancing with the Dragon by A Adityanjee CLAWS
In the immediate aftermath of the three-day visit of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao to India in early December, the Indian strategic community purred approvingly at the host country’s changed assertive self in the face of continued Chinese diplomatic obfuscation and intransigence in bilateral geopolitical issues. Indian analysts, policy-wonks and think-tankers announced from the roof-tops at how self-confident we have become in the face of the dragon! Not just that, the venerable international magazine from London, The Economistpublished a special article suggesting that India is pushing back. In hindsight, though, more sobering analyses have appeared. However, looking at the broader perspective, the important question is whether our delayed and subdued response to continued Chinese belligerence since 1949 is enough or we need to do something more, both strategically and tactically, to deal with the perpetual, habitual and often covert Chinese aggression that we choose to ignore all the time.

Time to balance protocol
Tactically speaking, we committed several mistakes while negotiating on bilateral issues with China during the recent visit by Wen. First and foremost is the issue of protocol. We really need tochange the protocol while dealing with China owing to differential power structures and forms of governance in both the countries. The Prime Minister of China is not at par with the Prime Minister of India hierarchically. Let us be honest about it. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao comes third in hierarchy in the Chinese government. The top dog is President Hu Jintao and next to him comes Wu Bangguo, the speaker of the National Parliament of China (NPC). In the recent situation, the executive head of the Government of India, Dr Manmohan Singh held a bilateral meeting with number three person in the Chinese hierarchy! This anomalous situation must be corrected by amending the bilateral protocol whereby the executive heads of the two countries can deal directly with each other. Some in India gloated over the activation of the hotline between Dr Manmohan Singh and Wen Jiabao. The relevant question, taking the same analogy, would be why not establish a hotline between the Prime Minister of India and the President of China?

The stapled visa
India should not have agreed to a visit by Wen Jiabao till the stapled visa issue was solved satisfactorily to India’s viewpoint. China has brandished this new irritant in the bilateral relationship as it has become economically and militarily stronger. By not dealing with the issue forcefully, India lost another opportunity to assert its sovereignty. China only promised to have the stapled visa be discussed with and looked into by minor level Chinese visa officers. China will do everything to keep this issue alive for next few decades as it has changed its strategy in the Indian sub-continent and seeks to force parity and hyphenation of India with Pakistan. More emboldened with India’s naivete, China will manufacture more such issues implying geographical shrinkage of India’s official boundaries.

Preserve our boundaries
On the eve of the Wen Jiabao visit, Xinhua stated that the Indo-China border is
2000 km. This was a deliberate attempt to imply that the borders of of Jammu & Kashmir with Xinjiang (Eastern Turkistan) and the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) are not part of the official Indo-China border. China has already disputed the boundaries in India’s east, calling Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet. There is a fitting answer to China’s newly nuanced Chinese ploy in Jammu & Kashmir, as also the policy they follow vis-à-vis Arunachal. India should not accept the TAR as part of China, but clearly enunciate that Tibet is a colonised Asian country that has had civilisational relations with India for centuries. The border with TAR should be termed as the Indo-Tibetan border and not part the Indo-China border. Indeed, the Chinese used force to grab the nation of Tibet as war booty in 1949. Continued Chinese imperialism and usurpation of the territory of independent Tibet for natural and fresh water resources should no longer be acceptable to future Governments of India. Similarly Eastern Turkistan (Xinjiang) was an independent country in the 20th century till the Chinese forces overran it and was annexed as new frontiers.

Skewed bilateral trade
India has agreed to increase bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015 without any chance of balanced and fair trade. Currently bilateral trade is heavily in favour of China. The Chinese have always been very business-minded. The international trade policies and long-term commercial strategy of the Government of China has always been predicated on mercantilism, intellectual property theft and deception. China continues to have both bilateral and multi-lateral problems with other trading nations of the world on currency issues, trade surpluses and stolen intellectual properties. This was a good opportunity for India to ensure fair trade practices with China prior to engaging deeper on bilateral trade issues. Currently China has trade imbalance with India of $19 billions and this situation could have been rectified in the recent visit but was not done. Promises never make a difference with China. Denial of markets is the only solution to force the Chinese towards fairer trade practices. Going slow on bilateral trade would take the steam out of China as Western markets have been drying up owing to the economic meltdown. Trade barriers and shipping costs (which increase with energy costs) will eventually neutralise the China price of manufactured goods and take away the Chinese trade advantages and surpluses.

Will China endorse India’s quest at the UNSC?
India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru gave up the opportunity for permanent membership of UN Security Council in the 1950s, which was then encouraged by the US administration because he was too scared of the Chinese dragon. In 1971 when Communist China was seated for the first time in the UN General Assembly after manoeuvring to get Taiwan unseated, India’s permanent representative in the UNGA welcomed China by thumping the table. During the recent visit of the Chinese premier, there were high hopes that China would be persuaded to endorse India’s quest for permanent membership of the UNSC. China, of course, only promises to understand India's aspiration to serve in the UNSC as a permanent member! No concessions there! In context, we need to remember that China was pretty much forced to support the US-India civil nuclear energy deal in the NSG by the US administration.

The Sino-Pak all weather relationship
After many promises of positive Chinese intentions in New Delhi, Wen Jiabao travelled to Islamabad and promptly announced $20 billion bilateral deals including a Pak-China civil nuclear deal that has now, not only been approved but also ‘blessed" by the US! Why did we (India) not insist on de-hyphenation and demand a stand-alone India visit? May be next time an Indian Prime Minister visits China, on the way back home he or she needs to take a refuelling stop in Taipei and discuss some trade and business deals with the Republic of Taiwan.

The dragon’s necklace
It was good that in the joint statement there was no mention of India endorsing a ‘One China’ policy. However, there was no mention about China’s ‘String of Perals’policy which will lead to a strategic encirclement of India. In future, in bilateral communiques with China, a statement renouncing this strategy should be mentioned. If China refuses to do so, India needs to enunciate a ‘One China, One Taiwan, One Tibet’ doctrine openly. India needs to explore naval bases in North-eastern Asia to reciprocate this policy of encirclement.

Bully thy neighbour
Chinese national character is mired in feudalism despite professing equality and liberty. While decrying serfdom in pre-1949 Tibet, China has always considered itself as a divine power with all its neighbours as vassals or tributary states. This national trait manifests periodically in saber-rattling and pressure-tactics towards neighbours. China did the same during the 2008 Olympics and on the issue of participation in the Noble peace prize award ceremony to Chinese dissident political activist, Liu Xiaobo. During his recent visit, Wen Jiabao blamed the free Indian press for souring bilateral relations. Similarly, the Chinese Ambassador to India described bilateral relations as fragile because Indian print and electronic media have rightly taken a more stringent view of the dangers coming from China as compared to the one by the central Government of India.
Dr Adityanjee is President, Council for Strategic Affairs, New Delhi
(The views expressed in the article are that of the author and do not represent the views of the editorial committee or the Centre for Land Warfare Studies).
Dancing with the Dragon

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Capt Mulla and sinking of Khukri

Ref: Sinking of INS Khukri: click here
Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla, Maha Vir Chakra (Posthumous)
15 May 1926 Gorakpur UP

Dear Sir,
Regards RADM Allon Rodrigues Story, I have to say something on this subject. I was on board INS Kadmatt as its Executive Officer which was inducted to hunt the submarine, may be 20 hours later or so-I do not recall properly.
What ever may be said and not said, my inner gut sense makes may me say something more on the subject.
The Western Fleet had excerised many times in Simulated Tactical Schools and in the Arabian Sea. In fact just the month before we excercised in the same waters for 15 days, evolving anti-submarine tactics. It is quiet possible that the Pakistani Submarine had a measure of us during that period. Kadmatt too had participated in these anti-submarine excercises, along with our own SUB, though I am bit hazy on this point.
I found my Captain using his higher mental powers to place the submarine when a miss occured and was correct most times. But Khukri had a tactic to literally sit on the submarine at very slow speeds to kill it. He was commended many times for his abilities to track the submarine.
Anti-Submarine hunt operations are done at fleet speeds of 12-14/15 knots if I remember something. Chances of hit at that speed get reduced as Allied Tactical Book of NATO, given to Indian Navy. Khukri used to do creep speed of 3/4 knots during excercises? When a ship is on patrol in hunt areas it has to be smarter. Ofcourse my course mate Lt Cdr Suri went down in Khukri too.
Just this Sunday at CNS Lunch hosted at Naval Mess Delhi, my Engineer Course mate, now settled in USA, who was the Chief Engineer on board the sister ship Kirpan said that Kirpan running away from the scene was correct decision. When ordered full away, Kirpan had not built up full steam which was mandatory? Unfortunately, there was no Black Box to be recovered for post hit analysis.
I am perplexed by both these ships. Was Kukri doing slow speed when hit. Kirpan after building full speed of over 20 knots should have made daring foray and drop boats, rafts at the scene for survivors to hang on too. I think he joined hunt when we came on the scene?
It is for you to make conclusions.
With best regards,
Cdr Prem P Batra

Why Capt Mulla Chose to go down with the Khukri"... an Allan Rodrigues perspective- 23rd December 2010
Dear Ms Ameeta Mulla Wattal,
I am an ex- Indian naval officer who left the service honourably in 1994. I live in New Zealand, and work in Australia and New Zealand these days.
This email refers to an article you wrote some five years ago very poignantly, on your father the Late Captain Mulla, pondering why he chose to go down with his ship.
The article obviously struck a chord with many of your readers, and in the way of the internet, travelled the world before it entered my mail box a few days ago, via a social network maintained by the 42nd NDA and 51st IMA course.
I did not know your father personally, but I feel I have always known him and for what he stood for, all of my adult life. I missed the fighting in 1971 as I was cadet in the NDA at the time, and only passed out and joined a warship at sea in June 1972, six months after the war ended. In the event I became an Anti Submarine specialist and along the way, I ended up commanding three warships including INS Himgiri (also an anti submarine frigate, although a more modernised version of the original Khukri). I retired after 20 years, joined industry, and eventually moved across the Pacific and the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.
I only say this because it has some context to the comments I make below, on the decision by your father to go down with his ship. In doing so I hope to capture the circumstances (and perhaps the greater purpose) of why captains of warships in extreme circumstances, take such drastic actions that seem to lack purpose or reason (particularly to the public at large). I?m sure many naval officers of senior rank and certainly more qualified than me, may well have commented at length after reading your article. I just felt I might throw some light on a take that has largely been neglected. I know the pain never goes away and I apologise for any anguish I might give you in the process, but I do believe that Captain Mulla did something for the service that night, that has not been either understood or recognised, by both the navy, and the public at large.
The Indian Navy of 1971 was a different beast from the one we have today. Little was known about Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) at the time. We commissioned our first submarine in 1968 in the then Soviet Union, and had barely begun operating a fledgling submarine arm by 1970. Pakistan by contrast, had been operating submarines since the early sixties. Ships like the Khukri and Kirpan supposedly specialised in ASW, formed the vanguard against the fight against Pakistani submarines. They had little in the way of operational experience against submarines, and even less knowledge about the ocean environment.
The physics of detection can be explained in simple non technical terms. The Khukri had sonar called the Sonar 170? which was the best we had at the time. It had a maximum range (in laboratory conditions) of only 1500 yards. We knew little about the harsh nature of the environment underwater.
The seas in the tropical waters off India?s coastline are heated up in the morning and afternoons, raising surface temperatures to ambient levels. The worst effect is in the afternoons. The laws of physics then apply. They literally bend the sonar waves downwards, severely limiting detection range. Since deeper waters are ice cold, there is meeting point of the warm waters on the top and the cold waters below. This meeting point is called the „layer? where the sonar beam bounces off and is almost totally reflected upwards. There is very little penetration below the layer. These layers lie between 30 and 60 metres depth in tropical waters, and are exploited by expert submariners who are able to hide under it.
It took us another 15 years after the war, all which I was professionally involved with in one way or then other, to fully understand the nature of anti-submarine warfare, and to learn how to work with the physical limitations imposed by a hostile ocean underwater environment.
Submarines on the other hand are not as handicapped, as they do not need to transmit on their sonars to detect a ship. Their engines are silent. They can consequently listen out for a warship and even identify a type of ship and its signature from the sound of its engines. Skilled submariners hide beneath the layer and approach with stealth. They only transmit at the last possible moment when they need a final range to fire their torpedos.
Warships at sea in 1971 (and Captain Mulla in particular) would have been more than aware of these limitations. They would have known two simple facts
(a) That a submarine at sea would have already detected a surface ship long before the ship had even reached any kind of detection range;
(b) That even if the warship did detect the submarine, it would be at the penultimate moment, when the submarine had already fired, (or was on the verge of firing) its torpedoes, giving the warship a few minutes at best, to take avoiding action, let alone counterattack.
The Pak submarine that sank the Khukri used its environment to maximum advantage. In hind sight and over the years, we developed better sonars and better tactics. We employed dedicated ASW aircraft with sonobuoys and magnetic detectors, helicopter with dunking sonars, and yes we spent a lot of time learning the harsh facts of the ocean environment we were forced to operate in.
This is the context in which ships put to sea in 1971, against an adversary who was well versed in using submarines to maximum advantage. Our own ASW ships had little in the way of riposte or as much experience we would have liked to have had before the war of fighting submarines.
In the event every sailor at sea recognises a moment of truth, when all of his training and skills are put to the ultimate test. It is the moment when the ship beats to quarters and goes into action against an enemy in sight, or an enemy that has been detected.
Khukri and Kirpan were operating in submarine infested waters. The ship would have gone to „action stations? against a submarine many times over, in the days and nights preceding the sinking of the Khukri, sometimes for genuine reasons, sometimes for false alarms. All of this would have exhausted the crew and formed the „fog of war? that hindsight experts, armchair generals/admirals and the public at large never quite get.
Each time the crew of the Khukri beat to quarters and battened down for action, a clarion call would have been broadcast on its tannoy “Hands to action stations _ assume first degree anti-submarine readiness - assume damage control state one condition Zulu”. The crew of the Khukri would have known fully level, that they were going against a committed enemy, and that the dice were loaded against them. Each of them would have been wondering whether they were going to come out of the action alive or dead. This is an age old fear that men have, and then learn to conquer, when they go to sea and to war. It is the nature of the beast. The army and the air force face similar issues, which they deal with in their own inimitable way.
The people most at risk on board the Khukri that night would have been its technical departments; engineering and electrical officers and sailors, closed up at action stations in the bowels of the ship three and four decks below the waterline, keeping the engines and the machinery running, so that their captain could fight. Each of them knew if a torpedo were to hit, it would do so well above where they were located, and that the chances of them surviving would be a lot less than those sailors who were fortunate to be located on the upper decks, and above the waterline.
It takes a special kind of motivation to get these men to go down into the bowels of a fighting ship whilst in action against a submarine. They do so each time out of a sense of duty that the ship cannot fight without them and mostly because they recognise that one single unspoken truth… That their captain will not forsake them; that their captain will not leave them behind. That is the crux of the why, and the reason why captains at sea honour this unspoken agreement.
Captain Mulla would have known that many of his boys were trapped (but yet alive) in the bowels of his ship when it went down, in the few minutes after the torpedoes hit. He tried to help as many as he could, but I suspect he could not bring himself to save himself, whilst his boys were dying down below. That he chose to go down is a personal decision, perhaps even a moral decision; but it was a decision that set a standard that will save lives in future actions. It forced all of us who came after him, and who were privileged to command men in peace and war, to recognise that undeniable and unspoken bond between fighting men … that you fight your ship against an enemy (or the ocean in a storm), with what you have, and to the best of your ability, and that come what may, you never forsake your troops or leave a man under your command, behind you.
What Captain Mulla did that fateful day has had an enormous and positive impact on the service he loved and on the men who continue to serve it to this day. It reminds every one of us chosen to command of the qualities of leadership needed under duress, and of the ultimate responsibility we have to the families of the men we command; „You never forsake your men – You never leave a man behind?.
I know that this hardly helps when trying to explain all of this to the family of a captain who makes the ultimate sacrifice. Nor does it assuage the grief of a young girl trying to understand why her father chose to voluntarily die, rather than save himself. For a fledgling service post independent India trying to forge its own traditions independent of the Royal Indian Navy of yore, the impact was enormous. It was one of the many actions in the 1971 war that made us equal partners with the Army and Air force in the defence of independent India.
I am reminded of the last few stanzas of Ronald Hopwood?s classic poem; Our Fathers? that I quote below:
“When we've raced the seagulls, run submerged across the Bay,
When we've tapped a conversation fifteen hundred miles away,
When the gyros spin superbly, when we've done away with coals,
And the tanks are full of fuel, and the targets full of holes,
When the margin's full of safety,
when the weakest in the fleet Is a Hyper-Super-Dreadnought,
when the squadrons are complete.
Let us pause awhile and ponder, in the light of days gone by,
With their strange old ships and weapons, what our Fathers did, and why,
Then if still we dare to argue that we're just as good as they,
We can seek the God of Battles on our knees, and humbly pray
That the work we leave behind us, when our earthly race is run,
May be half as well completed as our Fathers' work was done”.

My wife Sharon and I wish you and your family a great Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year 2011. If you or your family do visit New Zealand do look us up.
Allan Rodrigues
Director NE

Readers Comments and views
Commander Hirak Nag
1. I am with you and I had totally no intention or otherwise of what is read and received.
2. We all have some points that are at dead end. So one naturally seeks some answers for The Truth for the future when the answers come. After all the newer technogolies are born out of such situations in the hunter-killer game.
We all know that submarines always have longer ranges of their under waters sonars than the hunting surface ship sonars. Their passive listening sensors capacities like the Sharks are more acute and detect far beyond the surface adversaries. You may have read that last year Britain has launched a non-nuclear submarine that can detect movements of ships in US port of Baltimore, across the Atlantic Ocean. That does not mean that anti-submarine ships and warfare would be not built and used as hunters of lurking submarines of all hues.
3. As Executive Officer INS Kadmatt being not assigned any specific task as 2nd in Command but was tested under real situations when the Command would suddenly hand over the Bridge command and go for his rounds at action stations. But normally I used to go around the action stations. I recall going to Sonar Stations during this prolonged search to Sonar Stations which is a very tight space like in Tanks next to the hull bottom of the ship. Only our TASI was very good at Sonar Opeartions but he could not be there 24 hours. Some used to get sea sick and not as smart. The Sonars too get fatigued during long action stations. When the contact used to be missed the Captain would assign new areas to regain the Echo. So naturally this unequal contest used to engage mind but being no specialist, I could but file away for the anwers to come.
4. You have two very close friends who perhaps may be knowing the answers but like you and me, they too remain non speaking.
5. We are in our last leg of life and cannot contribute much to the scene. God bless us.
With best regards,
Prem Prakash Batra

Dear Prem,
I am sorry that you are reviving a sad memory with your wise comments on what should or should not have been done. It is similar to the wise comments on the Sukna and Adarsh episodes by officers not knowing the full facts. Naval HQ would have had all the facts and would, I am sure, have learnt the correct lessons and put these into effect. I for one like to just mourn the unfortunate deaths of Capt Mulla, my friend Jack Suri and the many other colleagues who went down in the field of battle. May their soul rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

India and America in the Strategic Times to Come

India and America in the Strategic Times to Come
Remarks to the Delhi Policy Group and the MIT Center for International Studies Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr., USFS (Ret.)

January 11, 2011 | New Delhi
Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text SizeAs the second decade of the 21st Century begins, no great regional power is as sought after as India. Over the past few months, the prime ministers and presidents of China, France, Russia, and the United States have all come here to Delhi to make the case for enhanced relationships with India. Earlier, Britain’s new leader also came a-courting. Why all the sudden attention to this previously underappreciated corner of the globe?

It is not just the stunning beauty of India’s women, though that is a compelling enticement revealed to all the world by Bollywood. Nor is it the dynamic growth of the Indian economy, though India is clearly on its way to becoming once again a big factor in the global marketplace. It is not the vibrancy of India’s democracy, though India’s politicians — like those back home in America — regularly astonish citizens with their legislative stratagems, scalawaggery, shell games, and shenanigans. All these things are part of India’s contemporary image. But what most attracts foreign leaders to India is its strategic empowerment by the changing constellation of global power.

I want to speak briefly with you today about shifting patterns in the world and regional political and economic orders and how they may affect India, its neighbors, the United States, and the world. I will begin with a bow to strategic geography and history.

Isolated behind adjoining deserts, mountains, and seas, the Indian subcontinent was long the target, not the instigator, of strategic change. The fabled riches of South Asia were in the main the creation of its own intellectual, human, and natural capital, supplemented by gains from trade with West Asia, North Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, and China. Indians inhabit a distinct geopolitical zone, separated in normal times from all these others. This region is easy to defend but it has proven vulnerable to occasional transforming invasions from Central and West Asia, and, at last, the sea.

Until their British rulers joined them to a global empire, Indians seldom ventured abroad except as traders or missionaries. The Islam of Southeast Asia, like its Hinduism and Buddhism, is a legacy of this politically isolationist tradition of outreach primarily through commerce and the force of spiritual example. The wide attractive power of Indian culture (and the broad reach of the Chola Empire) notwithstanding, historically, India has been — in the main — content to keep its armies and navies at home. Its political and economic ties to its east have long been especially tenuous.

Given the growing weight of India in world affairs, it will increasingly be called upon to form and lead coalitions to address both regional and global problems. In many but not all such efforts, the United States can and — I am confident — will play a significant supporting role. But, this pattern of entente rather than alliance challenges longstanding strategic predispositions in both countries. The United States needs to understand that cooperation with India on various matters will not be translated into and cannot be equated with alliance. India needs to recognize that cooperation with America in pursuit of common interests, far from compromising its non-alignment, is in fact an affirmation of its independent sovereignty. And, if America must learn to accept the leadership of others, including India, on an expanding range of matters, India must accustom itself to sometimes taking the lead with regard to issues beyond its immediate environs.

I first lived and worked in India forty-five years ago. It is impossible not to be encouraged by what India has accomplished in the interim and by the spirit with which it now faces the future. There is a sense of dynamism here, as in other reemerging great powers, that inspires optimism that the new international order now taking shape will be able in time effectively to address issues that are currently neglected or deferred. Most Americans take pleasure in India’s return to wealth and power. The world at large is ready — I believe — for India to play a leading role in regional and world affairs. But only Indians can determine whether India itself is ready for such responsibilities. I for one, hope that it is.
Click here to read full article...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

China says no change in its Arunachal Pradesh policy

The Economic Times 17 Jan, 2011, 09.42PM IST,PTI
BEIJING: China today said its policy that Arunachal Pradesh is a "disputed area" remains "unchanged", days after it issued stapled visas to two Indian sportsmen from the state which it claims as "Southern Tibet".

"China's position is consistent and clear about the China- India border issue including the disputed area of Eastern section and the Indian side is aware of it. The position has remained unchanged," the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman's office told PTI here.

Eastern section of the India-China border covers the Arunachal sector which is part of the dialogue mechanism to resolve it. India-China so far held 14 rounds of talks without much of success.

The Foreign Ministry issued the clarification today to a question asked last week over the controversy of issuing stapled visas to two Indian sportsmen from Arunachal to take part in the Weightlifting Grand Prix at Fujian province.

The two were turned away by the Indian immigration officials as India do not recognise the stapled visas, while External Affairs Ministry stated India will not honour such visas.

The Foreign Ministry, however, did not clarify whether the issuance of stapled visas or paper visas as they are known meant any departure from its purported previous policy of not to grant any visas to people of Arunachal Pradesh in support of Chinese claim that the state is part of its territory therefore its people did not need visas.

However Rong Ying, a Senior Research Fellow at the state-run China Institute of International Studies, said while China's stand on the dispute remained unchanged, perhaps the stapled visas were given as a "pragmatic" step to allow people of Arunachal to visit China.

"Certainly we have to take the reality into consideration as it is a disputed area and also we have to be pragmatic if people wants to travel to China," Rong, an India specialist at the Institute told PTI.

He said personally he believes that the stapled visas were issued to enable the people of the area to travel to China while the two countries made efforts to resolve the boundary dispute.

Both sides have to be pragmatic keeping the reality into consideration, he said, apparently meaning that India too should permit those with stapled visas from Arunchal to travel to China.

"I think there is no shift in China's policy but it will be good to facilitate their travel," he said, adding that otherwise the people of the area cannot travel to China until the dispute is resolved.
China says no change in its Arunachal Pradesh policy

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pakistan is 'epicentre' of global terrorism: US

Economic Times 13 Jan, 2011, 10.36AM IST,IANS
WASHINGTON: Calling Pakistan as the "epicentre" of global terrorism, a top US military official has said that America can't succeed in Afghanistan unless terrorist safe havens in Pakistan are shut down. "I've said it before and I'll say it again it [Pakistan] is the epicentre of terrorism in the world right now, and it deserves the attention of everybody to do as much as we can to eliminate that threat," Admiral Mike Mullen , Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff told foreign media Wednesday.
"It is absolutely critical that the safe havens in Pakistan get shut down. We cannot succeed in Afghanistan without that," he said asserting "progress in Pakistan is critical in terms of the region.
"We cannot succeed in Afghanistan without that," said Mullen, noting he has had "many meetings" with Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on the topic.
"He has evolved his military against this threat, and this threat is evolving as well," Mullen said of Kayani's anti-terrorism strategy.
"It's not just Haqqani any more, or Al Qaeda , or the Afghan Taliban or LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba], it's all of them working together, in ways that two years ago they absolutely did not."
The reconciliation process, Mullen said, is focused on "getting to a point where Afghanistan is peaceful and stable, and can take control of its own life and move forward, in every respect."
"Since I've had this job I've never talked or wanted to leave the impression that it was about one country or the other, because it's about the region. I think progress there is critical as well."
Mullen said Pakistan's role in ensuring regional security remains critical. The recent assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer and the departure and return of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to Pakistan's ruling coalition government highlight some of the political challenges that country faces, he said.
"That political aspect is something I keep an eye on all the time," Mullen said.
"When I talk about the region, it isn't just Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said noting neighbours in the area include Russia, Iran and India.
"I think we all have responsibility and we all want to see this resolved as rapidly as possible. That is a call for action for everybody that's involved in this.
Pakistan is 'epicentre' of global terrorism: US

Thursday, January 13, 2011

PAC and The Chiefs

Many a tricky query…
GIVEN the huge importance attached to prestige, protocol and status (pique too), the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament asking the Service Chiefs to appear before it in person is decidedly unusual, and is likely to cause much misgiving in the military community. For while the “army” has always extended full respect to parliamentary institutions, it does not hold individual MPs in equal esteem ~ so the Chiefs being quizzed by politicians (generally perceived in poor light) will hardly be appreciated. Hence it would be appropriate for the PAC to spell out why this time around it deviated from the norm of the Defence Secretary and the Vice-Chiefs assisting its inquiries. Surely the PAC must be aware that the Chiefs have no personal or direct role in procuring rations. Was it because, as some reports suggest, the Service Headquarters had not responded to its queries based on the CAG’s observations on foodstuffs supplied to soldiers? In that case the MoD too could be faulted for not keeping the brass in line and responding on the military’s behalf, as has been the practice. But what causes disquiet even beyond the military are suspicions that the government is asking the Chiefs to go before the Committee as part of a strategy to accord exaggerated status to the PAC only to negate the Opposition demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the 2G Spectrum scam. That would be dragging the Services into the murky arena of politics, and merits the most severe of condemnation. Yet if the CAG can be slammed by UPA-II, what’s to prevent it from sacrificing the dignity of the Chiefs when covering-up its shortcomings? If the Chiefs feel they are being thus misused they must place the honour of the uniform above all else and make their unease known to the Supreme Commander ~ the President. A major precedent is being set, all implications must be duly weighed. Never before ~ not after the 1962 debacle, Bofors or the IPKF misadventure ~ were the Chiefs personally queried by a parliamentary panel. The defence minister/ministry was “answerable” to the legislature. Why the change?
This complex “development”, however, ought to generate deep introspection in the military, veterans included. For it is a reflection of how recent involvement of senior defence officials in a series of unsavoury activities ~ corruption, sexual misconduct, dereliction of duty, fake encounters, land scams and so on ~ have corroded the aura of probity that once shielded the military from normal public scrutiny. Who would have dared “summon” a Cariappa or Manekshaw?
PAC and The Chiefs

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tide is turning in Nepal

Leh/Srinagar: Chinese troops entered Indian territory along the Line of Actual Control in south-eastern Ladakh region some time in September-October last year and threatened a contractor and his team to halt work on a “passenger shed”.
Chinese troops enter Ladakh; halt work

The tide is beginning to turn in Nepal — one which is likely to test India as much as the decision to drop monarchy in favour of democracy back in 2008. This time it would mean standing with the democratic forces in the face of a fresh Maoist onslaught, the makings of which were indicative in a Prachanda-sponsored political document at the central committee meeting of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) this week. Baburam Bhattarai, who is currently in India, was the only prominent dissenting voice.

From what India has reliably learnt, the document identifies “Indian expansionism” and “domestic reactionary forces” as their principal enemies. It signals a call for a people’s revolt, if need be, to defeat these forces. Supporting Prachanda in this call is the Mohan Baidya faction, which leaves Bhattarai on the margins despite his wide urban appeal. At the root of this is a quest for power, which the Maoist leaders have not hidden from their Indian interlocutors, telling them in no uncertain terms that it would be difficult for their cadre to give up arms without first being in power. The Young Communist League and the battery of trade unions are all firmly behind this stand.
The Maoists don’t want the UN’s Nepal mission to be wound up right now. The reason is quite clear — the Maoist weapons are currently inside large containers kept at eight locations, they are locked but the keys are with the Maoists themselves while the locks have been sealed by the UN. Periodically, the locks are de-sealed, opened, weapons checked in the presence of both sides, then locked and sealed again. The locations are under round-the-clock CCTV monitoring to ensure there is no breach of the pact. The mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has already been extended and now ends on January 15. Thereafter, a Nepalese army general appointed by the Nepalese parliament will take over the onerous task of monitoring these containers filled with weapons.

The Maoists, clearly, object to this but the move has the support of all other political parties and so, the Maoist leadership has written to the UN secretary-general to continue with the UNMIN. The matter may be discussed in the UN Security Council, where India is now a non-permanent member and the voice it lends will, perhaps, count the most. New Delhi, by all accounts, should favour the views held by the majority of the parties in Nepal that the time has come for them to manage and monitor these weapons. It also means that the Nepal government gets to handle its own internal affairs. However, New Delhi often gets caught up in artificially balancing disparate voices and this at times creates uncertainty in Nepalese political circles on what is New Delhi’s approach.

There is no doubt that the situation in Nepal has never been tougher than this for India. Just a few days back, Nepal’s parliamentary committee on international relations and human rights, headed by Maoist MP Padmalal Bishwakarma, refused to clear 28 Nepal Foreign Service recruits for a two-week training at Foreign Services Institute (FSI) here on the grounds that it was an Indian attempt to “brainwash” these fresh trainees. As it turns out, these recruits had not received any training before being drafted into the service and the Indian side thought it could be of help. In fact, the FSI was not too keen as it is already overburdened, but South Block managed to prevail.

It is also important to read the commentary against Rakesh Sood, the Indian ambassador to Nepal, in this context. He has had his share of run-ins with Nepalese activists, the press and even politicians who have, in turn, attacked him. No diplomat would like to land himself in such a situation. But having said that, the root of it all lies in a fundamental decision to respond and, at times, even strongly react, to discriminatory or blatant anti-India moves. This, especially, has come to the fore in the case of Indian business interests. For instance, take the case of an Indo-French joint venture that bid for a Japanese-funded Sundri Jal drinking water project. Even though the Indo-French venture apparently bid the lowest, the project went to a Chinese firm even before the bids were opened. Subsequently, it came to light that the Chinese firm had a higher bid. Now, these are commercial allegations with strong political overtones. India decided to back its company’s views and, as a result, the Japanese funders JAICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) have ordered an inquiry into the bidding process.

The fact is Nepal has turned into a place of competing self-interests, where India can no longer take matters for granted, neither can it remain in a constant self-flagellating cycle which rests on the presumption that India is responsible, in some ways, for Nepal’s woes; that there is merit in the Maoist line about Indian hegemony and whatever India does, it must remember these red lines. But there is also a line between observing caution and getting apologetic. India has to let its neighbours run their own countries while also securing its own interests.

Nepal is critical to India’s security. The open border means easier access to Indian hinterland for both terrorists and Maoists. Just recently, between May and August 2010, there was reliable intelligence of 25-30 Indian Maoists having received training in Nepalese Maoist camps. India officially took up the matter, but not much came out of it. Several other inputs keep surfacing about Indian Maoists taking shelter or getting medical treatment in Nepal. But when India offers to strengthen Nepalese immigration or its border-monitoring mechanisms, it invites criticism of interference in Nepal’s sovereign functions.

The same is not the case with China, which has a limited focus on ensuring that Tibetans don’t use Nepal as a staging ground to move in and out of Tibet. So much so, the Chinese ambassador directly speaks to local police officials and goads them to act against Tibetans. In fact, the word is out that China has officially offered monetary remuneration to police officials who nab Tibetans. At one level, no one can grudge China for trying to protect its interests.

India, on the other hand, has large stakes in Nepal and, perhaps, the biggest stake in its peace and stability. The more powerful of Maoist factions, however, see India as part of the problem just as they saw the democratic experiment as a way to capture power and not share it. Multi-party democracy in Nepal is set to come under increased threat — it is, therefore, that much more important for India to speak in one voice and to speak clearly.
The other K-word

Armed Forces: 2011 Year of Reckoning

The Tribune Sunday, Janaury 9, 2011
Focus on reform, refurbishment
India’s military strategies and doctrines must be flexible, capable of rapid application in any unforeseen circumstances and ready for the entire spectrum of conflict by Gen V. P. Malik (retd), Former Chief of Army Staff.

An important assumption in military strategy is that "Despite whatever effort there may be to prevent it, there may be a war!" This assumption is neither provocative nor a justification for the existence of the armed forces. History tells us that nations that neglect this historical determinism make themselves vulnerable to military surprise, defeat and ignominy.

Security threats, challenges and vulnerabilities that face India in the foreseeable future are border and territorial disputes, hegemonic and power politics, resources and financial crises, failed and failing states, crossborder terrorism and other crimes, and spread of weapons of mass destruction. In addition to these external challenges, there are grave internal security challenges such as insurgencies in the Northeast, J&K and the Maoist movement.

The emergence of China as a major power, and territorial disputes with China and Pakistan coupled with the nexus between these two nations have politico-security consequences for India. India’s economic relations with China may be improving but its security relations are not. With faster economic, technological and military modernisation, China is likely to become more aggressive and be in a position to create pressure points on the border and other strategic issues.

If India can maintain an adequate level of nuclear (for which development of Agni 3 and the nuclear submarine are essential) and conventional deterrence, then there are two strategic conditions which can escalate a military conflict between India and its neighbours. First: Border disputes where a serious skirmish can lead to a conventional military conflict. Second: Proxy war which may lead to a limited conventional war.

With our present capabilities, it is not possible for China to capture Arunachal Pradesh or large chunks of territories elsewhere. However, they do have the capability to intrude and capture small parts of territory where we have the problem to reach fast and deploy our forces. Our capability to react quickly and counter-attack is weak. Also, we will not be able to lift additional forces from the Pakistan border. Therefore (a) against China, it is essential to create integrated rapid reaction forces and ground infrastructure capable of joining battle at short notice, particularly along the disputed areas on the LAC, and (b) against Pakistan, we have the ability to hit back and carry out similar intrusions provided we maintain the present level of conventional weapons superiority.

Our persistent problems with regard to modernisation of the armed forces are (a) ad hocism in defence planning, (b) complicated procurement procedures, (c) political and media witch-hunting and scare of getting involved in scams. But fundamentally, it is our inability to develop and produce bulk of the required weapon systems and equipment indigenously. Our decision-making in defence planning is an ultimate case study in negative processes. Unless the political and bureaucratic establishment in the government focusses on reform and refurbishment in the process of planning and decision-making, modernisation of the armed forces will remain a nightmare. It is time for a more calibrated application of resources for modernisation plans at the national level, in accordance with assessed inter se priorities in respect of land, maritime and air power assets. Determination of these priorities will be the acid test of a mature and responsible defence leadership.

In the current strategic environment, we have to be ready for the entire spectrum of conflict. India’s military strategies and doctrines must be flexible, capable of rapid application in any unforeseen circumstances. The focus will have to be on deterrence, a conventional war below the nuclear threshold, as well as on the low-intensity conflicts and counterterrorism. Important requirements are:
1. Building strategic infrastructure along the northern borders: road axes, laterals, helicopter and logistic bases.
2. Raising integrated rapid reaction forces capable of military operations in high altitude mountains.
3. Capability to locate and engage ground targets in the mountains by the air force.
4. Substantial improvement — both defensive and offensive — in cyber and electronic warfare.
5. Extensive use of space technology, satellites, and night vision capabilities for surveillance, communications and real time location of the adversary.
6. Making up voids in big ticket systems like the medium artillery, multi-role fighter aircraft and submarines.
7. Ensuring a higher degree of jointness in defence and operational planning. We need to reorganise the networking system of the armed forces within, and with other government agencies that have an important role to play in a future conflict. Jointness must also apply here between the Defence and Home ministries.
8. A Chief of Defence Staff is essential to be able to contribute to the long-term strategic planning, coordination among the Services, and for calibrated resource allocation for balanced defence capabilities.
9. On the internal security front, Home Minister Chidambaram must take further steps to make police forces less political and more professional. Tribal areas in the country need faster development and improved governance.

Shortage of officers
Despite the implementation of the last Pay Commission, cadre reviews, extension of colour service and retirement age done in the past, shortage of officers in all three Services continues. It is necessary to appoint a high-level committee to review the terms and conditions of the armed forces holistically. Keeping in view the large base of young officers and restricted opportunities for promotion, the officers need to be given opportunities to go up or peel off at different levels of service. The government could work out a suitable monetary and re-orientation package for each exit point. When this is ensured, there would be less frustration and insecurity among officers.

Image of the services
The image of the armed forces has taken a beating recently in public and within the Services due to land scams and several cases of indiscipline. Also, it is observed that the VVIP culture, ostentatious celebrations and event management, alien to the armed forces’ ethos, are overtaking the old Cantonment culture and military sociology. Such a conduct at senior levels is likely to affect professionalism, morale and confidence in the military leadership. Perhaps the greatest single task facing the Service Chiefs will be to ensure that the Services’ value system and ethos — integrity, loyalty, discipline, courage and honour — and the implicit faith and trust with which the junior ranks looked up to their seniors, where dented, is quickly restored. They must watch this carefully and deal ruthlessly with those who display a lack of probity and sound judgment in the chain of command.
Armed Forces: 2011 Year of Reckoning

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Twin Tower Type or Mumbai Style Global Terror Attack: Prediction for 2011

What is the state of global terrorism today, nearly a decade after the Sept. 11 attacks? Foreign Policy asked the top terrorism experts in the field. Here's what they told us: JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011 By Peter Bergen

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, FP asked top terrorism experts to take stock of the threat posed by al Qaeda and its allies. And while the majority of respondents believe that al Qaeda is no stronger today than it was a decade ago, they also worry that we are only slightly safer from terrorist attack than we were the day the Twin Towers fell.

The headline finding is surprising: Experts credit nine years of the war on terror with making U.S. soil only marginally more secure -- despite the fact that only 14 Americans have died in jihadist terrorist attacks in the United States since Sept 11. Why the disconnect? Respondents were likely quite cognizant of the numerous serious "near-miss" terrorist operations targeting the homeland, from the Christmas Day 2009 plot to bring down a passenger jet over Detroit to the botched Times Square car bomb attack in May 2010. These plans were devised by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Pakistani Taliban, respectively, and were a powerful reminder that the threat from terrorism is still real.

A strong majority also predicted that there will be another terror attack in the United States or Europe in the next year. Given that a botched terrorist attack took place in Stockholm, a plot was averted to mount a "Mumbai-style" attack in Copenhagen, and a dozen suspected terrorists were arrested in the United Kingdom -- all since the survey was completed -- the experts were, unfortunately, probably right about this. Still, 78 percent of respondents disagreed with the idea that al Qaeda is stronger today than it was on 9/11.

There is a great deal of bad news for Pakistan in the survey. Overwhelmingly, the experts selected Pakistan as the country that posed the greatest threat to the West today, and a majority also picked it as the country most likely to have its nukes end up in the hands of terrorists. Interestingly, only two experts named Iran as the West's greatest threat or as a nuke proliferator to terror groups. Does this signify the end of the neoconservative notion that state sponsors of terrorism like Iran are more dangerous than groups without state sponsorship such as al Qaeda?

There was widespread agreement that "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding are not effective, although there was something of an even split on whether closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay would improve U.S. security.

Some of the most interesting insights came in the experts' on-the-record responses. Roger Cressey, a National Security Council official under Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, characterized the CIA's drone program in Pakistan as "the most successful counterterrorism program since 9/11," while retired French counterterrorism prosecutor Jean Louis Brugière elegantly termed the drone strikes "efficient, but not sufficient."

The exponential increase in drone strikes during the Barack Obama administration is one reason why former George W. Bush White House official Richard Falkenrath can say with justification that the Obama administration is "rhetorically dissimilar but substantively almost indistinguishable" from the administration that launched the drone program when it come to its policies on terrorism.

Asked to name the world's most dangerous terrorist, counterinsurgency expert Andrew Exum wisely named not one of the obvious suspects like Osama bin Laden but "the terrorist whose actions precipitate a war between India and Pakistan." Indeed, a "Mumbai II" is one of the most predictable challenges that Obama can reasonably expect to confront in the next two years. And just this past week, Mumbai went on high alert for a possible terrorist attack. Bizarrely, former CIA director James Woolsey named Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the globe's most dangerous terrorist, a confirmation that, at least in some quarters, neoconservatism is not entirely dead.

Finally, a number of experts had similar views about the biggest mistake by the U.S. government since 9/11: Several cited invading Iraq -- and the resulting failure to get the job done in Afghanistan. Variations of this view were expressed by Cressey, Brugière, diplomatic heavyweight Thomas Pickering, and CIA veteran Bruce Riedel. If this is the first draft of a historical verdict on the war in Iraq, perhaps neoconservativism is, in fact, entering its terminal stage.
The FP Survey: Terrorism
Related Reading
China makes Russian calculations

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

General Kayani's suspicions

Kayani was a star student at the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1988, writing his master's thesis on "Strengths and Weaknesses of the Afghan Resistance Movement." He was among the last Pakistanis to graduate from the college before the United States cut off military assistance to Islamabad in 1990 in response to Pakistan's suspected nuclear weapons program. Eight years later, both Pakistan and India conducted tests of nuclear devices. The estrangement lasted until President George W. Bush lifted the sanctions in 2001, less than two weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Kayani is far from alone in the Pakistani military in suspecting that the United States will abandon Pakistan once it has achieved its goals in Afghanistan, and that its goal remains to leave Pakistan defenseless against nuclear-armed India.
Kayani "is one of the most anti-India chiefs Pakistan has ever had," one U.S. official said.
The son of a noncommissioned army officer, Kayani was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1971. He was chief of military operations during the 2001-2002 Pakistan-India crisis. As head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency from 2004 to 2007, he served as a point man for back-channel talks with India initiated by then-President Pervez Musharraf. When Musharraf resigned in 2008, the talks abruptly ended.
The Pakistani military has long been involved in politics, but few believe that the general seeks to lead the nation. "He has stated from the beginning that he has no desire to involve the military in running the country," said Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council. But that does not mean Kayani would stand by "if there was a failure of civilian institutions," Nawaz said. "The army would step in."
Kayani remains an enigmatic figure, chiefly known in Pakistan for his passion for golf and chain-smoking. According to Jehangir Karamat, a retired general who once held Kayani's job, he is an avid reader and a fan of Lebanese American poet Khalil Gibran.

Even some Pakistanis see Kayani's India-centric view as dated, self-serving and potentially disastrous as the insurgents the country has harbored increasingly turn on Pakistan itself.
"Nine years into the Afghanistan war, we're fighting various strands of militancy, and we still have an army chief who considers India the major threat," said Cyril Almeida, an editor and columnist at the English-language newspaper Dawn. "That's mind-boggling."
Kayani has cultivated the approval of a strongly anti-American public that opinion polls indicate now holds the military in far higher esteem than it does the weak civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari. Pakistani officials say the need for public support is a key reason for rebuffing U.S. pleas for an offensive in North Waziristan. In addition to necessitating the transfer of troops from the Indian border, Pakistani military and intelligence officials say such a campaign would incite domestic terrorism and uproot local communities. Residents who left their homes during the South Waziristan offensive more than a year ago have only recently been allowed to begin returning to their villages.
Several U.S. officials described Kayani as straightforward in his explanations of why the time is not right for an offensive in North Waziristan: a combination of too few available troops and too little public support.
The real power broker

Pakistani democracy activists fault the United States for professing to support Pakistan's civilian government while at the same time bolstering Kayani with frequent high-level visits and giving him a prominent role in strategic talks with Islamabad.
Obama administration officials said in response that while they voice support for Pakistan's weak civilian government at every opportunity, the reality is that the army chief is the one who can produce results.
"We have this policy objective, so who do we talk to?" one official said. "It's increasingly clear that we have to talk to Kayani."
Most of the talking is done by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In more than 30 face-to-face meetings with Kayani, including 21 visits to Pakistan since late 2007, Mullen has sought to reverse what both sides call a "trust deficit" between the two militaries.
But the patience of other U.S. officials has worn thin. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, has adopted a much tougher attitude toward Kayani than his predecessor, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, had, according to several U.S. officials.
For his part, Kayani complains that he is "always asking Petraeus what is the strategic objective" in Afghanistan, according to a friend, retired air marshal Shahzad Chaudhry.
As the Obama administration struggles to assess the fruits of its investment in Pakistan, some officials said the United States now accepts that pleas and military assistance will not change Kayani's thinking. Mullen and Richard C. Holbrooke, who served as the administration's special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan until his death last month, thought that "getting Kayani to trust us enough" to be honest constituted progress, one official said.
But what Kayani has honestly told them, the official said, is: "I don't trust you."
U.S. efforts fail to convince Pakistan's top general to target Taliban

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pakistan's Nuclear threshold

Does WikiLeaks give any indication of the location of Pakistan’s nuclear threshold? Its cables have only confirmed our fears and have nothing new to offer to the Indian Government. The Pakistani establishment continues to double-cross the Americans who, knowing that the dollar cannot buy everything as aptly expressed in The Beatles’ timeless hit Can’t buy me love, cannot help dropping greenbacks as its only purported solution to the debt-ridden economy.

Has WikiLeaks brought to our thinking any new aspects? Some facets of Pakistan’s nuclear thinking do emerge but Pakistan’s nuclear threshold remains distant, yet debatable. India remains Enemy No. 1 which is not very flattering and Pakistan going ahead and making tactical nuclear warheads at a greater pace than its requirement is an interesting development which has always been factored in any Indian plan. Tactical weapons require a delivery system and an overarching concept of employment.

One of the strategies being discussed is that of a cold start by Indians who have denied the existence of this doctrine. This however, brings to fore the fact that, as per the disclosures, Pakistan is more trigger-happy regarding the use of nuclear weapons. Tactical strikes have to be backed by integrated tactical plans. Thus what is clearly emerging is a counter force strategy against an Indian force, at a time and place of Pakistan’s choosing. The use of the bomb in one’s own territory with the heavy cost of collateral damage and civilian casualties involved will not be very prudent.

It also clearly reinforces the international opinion that South Asia is the world’s most dangerous place. While India has a mature democracy, civilian supremacy and a stated no first use policy, things are entirely different for Pakistan. The difference is on account of two reasons: Its control of the bomb, which was initially built as an Islamist bomb, being in the hands of the Army and, as being increasingly indicated, even by WikiLeaks, that this bomb can fall into jihadi hands. There is this aspect of a large number of personnel working their security and easy access to technology to make the threat of a dirty bomb even greater.

Pakistan is the only country in the world where the army and not a civilian democracy controls the nuclear trigger. The National Nuclear Command Authority works through the army’s Joint Operation Centre. A perusal of all available interview records of all Prime Ministers and Presidents of the country who have occupied the top post clearly indicates that they never possessed full knowledge of all the nuclear weapons in the land which, ipso facto, implies that these were not under their control. This fact is known to the international community.

While Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was built with India as their specific target, its leadership has also never clearly stated a no-first-use policy. Its nuclear policy is, at best, ambiguous in nature. In such a situation, our apparent lack of concern is most disconcerting.

The question that arises is - what is Pakistan’s nuclear threshold? Is the nuclear threshold territory a given line crossing which will cause the Pakistani Army to use the bomb? Or is the bomb a political weapon? It is not always risk-free to interpret correctly a single action but going by its record of repeated betrayal at the bilateral level as well as by the WikiLeaks’ disclosures, there is enough evidence available of a trigger-happy nature as well as behaviour on its part.

The Pakistan psyche is that the bomb brings equality with a greater power and is thus a combination of a political weapon at the international level to be used for the purpose of arm-twisting as well as an instrument of achieving parity with India in the eyes of the world.

The bomb is, therefore, likely to be used in pursuance of military objectives. The nuclear threshold is going to be lower than that of any mature democracy as the military objectives are fast changing and strategic goals remain distant.

The Indian state judges Pakistan’s nuclear threshold based on Indian conditions but the circumstances are entirely different. As a democracy, India’s belief in the nuclear threshold is far different from other nations.

As long as the Army controls the bomb directly or indirectly, its centre of gravity will remain high. India has to find answers through excellent surveillance and international deterrence. India will also have to ensure that the costs of using these by a trigger-happy general are prohibitive. An all-out conventional war will not be allowed or will be very short-lived.

The forces must, therefore, train, arm and be ready to fight in a nuclear environment while taking special care not to present itself as a lucrative target for a counter force strategy.

This is the road to take if one chooses to take seriously - as one must - the revelations by WikiLeaks.
Courtesy: The Pioneer, 20 December 2010
What is Pakistan's Nuclear threshold? by CS Thapa
Related Article
Kayani and his generals