Monday, March 28, 2011

China’s Maritime Ambitions: Implications for Regional Security

South Asia Analysis Group Paper no. 4281 17-Jan-2011
China’s Maritime Ambitions: Implications for Regional Security
Guest Column By Commodore R. S. Vasan
“Imagine six centuries ago, a mighty armada of Zheng He's ships crossing the China Sea, and then venturing west to Ceylon, Arabia, and East Africa. The fleet consisting of giant nine-masted junks, escorted by dozens of supply ships, water tankers, transports for cavalry horses, and patrol boats. Loaded with Chinese silk and porcelain, the junks visited ports around the Indian Ocean”... As recorded in “Muslim Heritage”.
Many China analysts are aware that the interest of the Chinese in Indian Ocean is not a new phenomenon. One has to only go back to the historical voyages of Chinese Admiral Zheng He (1371-1433) who undertook seven voyages and visited 37 countries while he commanded the Chinese fleet from the middle kingdom. It is noteworthy that the fleet visited countries in Africa, Persia and the Indian Coastal Regions, thereby practicing both forward presence and flag showing. As per recorded history, these voyages pre date those of Vasco-Da-Gama and Columbus clearly illustrating the rich maritime traditions of the Chinese Sea farers centuries ago. As per the reports, it has been brought out that the vessels were large junkets of over 400 feet in length and were able to undertake long arduous ocean voyages carrying merchandise and accompanied by a supporting fleet to far corners of the world. In the light of this recorded history, it is not a surprise that there is resurgence of Chinese interest in the Indian Ocean and in maritime matters driven by a desire to protect their shipping and global interests. The most important aspect of China’s maritime security today is driven by considerations of energy security and concerns on the vulnerability of long winding energy supply chains as they carry these vital products from distant shores.
Present day Compulsions for return to IOR.
It is a matter of great interest to examine the present day compulsions for return to Indian Ocean region after over six centuries in greater detail. These factors are discussed below:-
a. Peaceful development:. China has asserted that it believes in peaceful development. However, most nations remain naturally suspicious of Chinese intent. The concept of peaceful development has been assessed as a ploy for buying peace on its terms, while it prepares for war by spending phenomenal money on military modernisation, infrastructure and capacity building. Economic engagements as part of the peaceful development have reached far corners of the world as is evident by enormous investments in the maritime sector. China would be in a position to extract certain concessions from these countries due to the nature of assistance being provided to developing countries in Asia and Africa. In many cases, the beneficiary countries have been given soft loans and or other incentives to ensure that the long term interests of China are protected. The constant impressive GDP growth and the phenomenal money being spent on military acquisitions and modernizations do not lend any hope about the intentions of China which has surpassed Japan as the second largest economy after USA.
b. Energy dependence. As highlighted above, this factor would be uppermost while planning for energy security to maintain and improve the phenomenal double digit growth in terms of GDP. The figure below as provided by China Daily is indicative of the extent of dependence on energy products. Unfortunately for China, even today a major chunk of these inputs have to come through the sea routes.
Read the full article: China’s Maritime Ambitions: Implications for Regional Security

B-2 stealth bombers attacks on Libya

Daily Mail UK By Richard Hartley-parkinson Last updated at 12:40 PM
Touchdown: B-2 stealth jets return after epic 11,500 mile journey to bomb Libyan aircraft shelters

on 21st March 2011
They dropped 45 satellite-guided bombs weighing 2,000lbs each
Six hero pilots return home safe and sound from a bombing mission to Libya which saw them in the cockpit for an incredible 25 hours.
Three B-2 Spirit bombers, piloted by two men each, made it back after the 11,418-mile round trip from the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri - where they are kept in special hangars - to Libya, where they hit targets on forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi and back again.
At $2.1bn, they are the most expensive warplanes in the world and rarely leave their climate-controlled hangars. But when it does, the B-2 bomber makes a spectacularly effective start to a war - including during this weekend's aerial attack on Libya's air defences.
Its mission is to penetrate heavily defended enemy territory and 'kick down the door' on the opening night of a conflict. One of its special features is its ability to carry eight GBU-37 'bunker buster' bombs, weighing in at 2.27 tonnes that are capable of boring 20 to 30 ft of rock or reinforced concrete before detonating.
After the first wave of more than 110 Tomahawk missiles launched from allied warships in the Mediterranean, they struck yesterday morning on 'a variety of strategic targets over Libya', according to the US Air Force.
They dropped a total of 45 one-tonne satellite guided missiles on Libyan aircraft shelters before making the 5,709 mile journey back to the Missouri. The B-2 stealth bombers were first used in the Kosovo and Serbian war and have been used more recently in Afghanistan.
The long-range, heavy bomber capable of penetrating sophisticated and dense air-defence, and with one refuelling, is able to fly to any point in the world within hours.
The aircraft is famous for rather ominous-looking bat-like silhouette: The leading edges of the wings are angled at 33° and the trailing edge has a double-W shape. It is manufactured at two Northrop Grumman facilities in Pico Rivera and Palmdale in California.
The aircraft also are deadly and effective: An assessment published by the USAF showed that two B-2s armed with precision weaponry can do the job of 75 conventional aircraft.
That makes it a powerful weapon to strike targets including bunkers, command centres, radars, airfields, air defences. The B-2 can carry 16 2,000 pound (900 kilogram), satellite-guided bombs, including an earth penetrating version. As well as the eight 'bunker busters', its bomb bays can carry 16 Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM), which have been tested at ranges 180 miles from the target, or the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), a glide bomb that releases cluster bombs.
A major drawback, however, is the intensive maintenance required by the B-2s, whose heat and moisture sensitive skin must be painstakingly taped and cured after every mission.In previous conflicts, the maintenance requirements kept the B-2s tethered to their home base at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
In Afghanistan, that meant 44-hour bombing runs for their two-member crews, the longest air combat missions in history. It also meant few B-2 missions.
But the air force has built special climate-controlled shelters at bases on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia and at Fairford, Gloucestershire, for B-2s, which were built by Northrop Grumman and first flew in 1989.
Staying awake for the 25-hour mission while being in control of bombs that weigh nearly a tonne is a difficult task and one that tests the mettle of the pilots that take part in such journeys.
It isn't clear how the six pilots on Operation Odyssey Dawn managed to stay awake, but in the past they have used a fold-out bed behind the seats at the controls. It is also possible that they used auto-pilot for the majority of the journey but used manual controls while bombing so that they could keep concentrating on the task at hand.
Cost: £2.1bn
Range: 6,000 miles
Special features: radar absorbing skin to make it near-impossible to detect. Can carry the GBU-37 'bunker buster' 5,000 lib bomb that can bore 20 to 30 ft through concrete
Capabilities: Two B-2s armed with precision weaponry can do the job of 75 conventional aircraft. Can carry 16 2,000 lb satellite guided bombs
Max speed: 630mph at 40,000 ft
Cruise speed: 560mph at 40,000 ft
Dimensions: 69ft long, 17ft high, 172ft wingspan
Major drawback: Heat and moisture sensitive skin that needs taping and curing after every mission and climate-controlled hangar
Read more: Touchdown: B-2 stealth jets return after epic 11,500 mile journey to bomb Libyan aircraft shelters

Friday, March 25, 2011

Desert that beat Rommel may fox Gaddafi too

Times, London March 22 2011 12:01AM
The conflict in Libya today has remarkable parallels with the battles of 1941-42 – as the Colonel might appreciate
Muammar Gaddafi is a big fan of Erwin Rommel, the fabled wartime German commander of the Afrika Korps. The Libyan dictator, according to his French interpreter, is “a military history buff”, never happier than when curled up with the diaries of the German Field Marshal who earned the nickname the Desert Fox during the battle for North Africa in the Second World War.
If Gaddafi really is a student of Rommel — and, like most of the Colonel’s claims, it is probably a lie — then he will surely be aware that history is not on his side.
As both the British and German commanders discovered, fighting in the Libyan desert is a logistical nightmare, with success or failure dependent on supply lines of fuel, water and ammunition as much as military muscle.
Forces loyal to Gaddafi attempting to wrest Benghazi from the rebels ground to a halt outside the city at midday last Saturday because they had run out of fuel. Awaiting resupply, short of ammunition and exposed in open ground, they were easy targets for French jets. Rommel, who knew what it was like to get bogged down in the desert without enough petrol, might have sympathised.
The imposition of a no-fly zone, and the West’s strong disinclination to send in ground troops, mean that the opposing armies in Libya face a military situation remarkably similar to that in 1941-42.
Gaddafi certainly has the military hardware to besiege and take the rebel base, but with allied planes patrolling the main road between Benghazi and Tripoli, he cannot now bring up enough supplies and armour to do so. Whether the rebels could take Tripoli without huge reinforcements and protected supply lines is equally doubtful.
The most likely outcome is stalemate and a return to a Libya divided between east and west as it was in ancient times. History suggests that conquering Tripoli from Benghazi, and vice versa, is exceptionally difficult. There is simply too much empty space in between.
Libya’s geography, huge expanses of desert separating strategically crucial towns, dictates wars of mobility and fluidity, a see-sawing pattern of attack and retreat, interspersed with long periods of stasis.
Rommel and his Panzers tore across Libya in 1941, taking Benghazi in April and then pressing on at high speed, laying siege to Tobruk and driving the British back into Egypt. When it was pointed out that German vehicles were coming apart through wear and tear, he remarked loftily that “one cannot permit such great opportunities to slip by for the sake of trifles”.
There was, and is, nothing trifling about the extreme demands of desert warfare. Rommel’s supply lines were dangerously overstretched and he was forced to retreat towards Tripoli. Now it was the turn of the British to stagger in the sand. When the Germans counterattacked, the overextended British forces were forced back again.
The next year, Rommel again charged eastward, before discovering, as he wrote in his diary, that the impetus of the advance had faded away once more. The German supply lines grew so thin that the vanguard was forced to rely on supplies left behind by the retreating Allies.
A similar pattern has been seen in Libya over recent weeks. At first, the rebels had speed and momentum on their side, moving swiftly along the coast and even threatening Tripoli itself. But then came the counterattack and the rebels fell back as Gaddafi’s forces, in an odd reprise of Rommel’s blitz across Libya, took Ras Lanuf, Brega and Ajdabiya. By Saturday, however, Gaddafi’s loyalists had themselves overreached, as the advance on the rebel stronghold stalled at the critical moment outside Benghazi.
Rommel’s acute fuel-thirst also ensured Allied victory in 1942. Through Enigma decrypts, the Allies were able to intercept and sink tankers sent to supply the German Army. In October 1942, about 44 per cent of all Axis cargo and petrol was sunk before it reached Libya. The defeated Germans and Italians fled west along the coast road into Tunisia. Montgomery was the victor at El Alamein, but Rommel was also defeated by the logistics of fighting in Libya.
The ebb and flow of war in both 2011 and 1941 illustrates a key aspect of combat in such difficult terrain: the swifter a force advances, the thinner its supply lines grow and the more vulnerable it becomes; conversely, the retreating army grows stronger as it nears its supply base. In no theatre of war is this truer than the intractable landscape of Libya.
Colonel Gaddafi, the “military history buff”, will surely pull back under allied bombardment and consolidate in Tripoli. The rebels will dig in around Benghazi. Barring a popular uprising in Tripoli or an equally unlikely intervention by Western ground troops, Libya seems most likely to settle down into a tense, indefinite stalemate, with neither side militarily strong enough to oust the other.
There is a grim historical logic to the division of Libya between east and west. Since Roman times, coastal Libya has been divided between two distinct provinces, Tripolitania in the west and Cyrenaica in the east. While Cyrenaica took its cultural cues from the Ancient Greeks, Tripolitania looked to the Phoenicians. Opposition to Gaddafi has always simmered in the east, where rebels now fly the flag of the former Cyrenaician monarchy, deposed by Gaddafi in 1969.
Italian colonists united the provinces to create a modern Libya 80 years ago, and today the intervention of outside forces is helping to reinforce traditional tribal fault lines. If Libya’s past is a guide, then the country may be heading for a protracted civil war, and perhaps, eventually, partition. This is not a land where outright military victory comes easily or swiftly.
Whatever the final outcome, Colonel Gaddafi must now realise that without control of Libyan airspace he cannot hope to reassert his dominance over the entire country. Rommel himself predicted that “the future battle on the ground will be preceded by battle in the air. This will determine which of the contestants has to suffer operational and tactical disadvantages and be forced throughout the battle into adopting compromise solutions.” As his forces pull back from Benghazi, Gaddafi has had to compromise.
To echo Winston Churchill’s words after El Alamein: This is not the end of Gaddafi. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd)
Director Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)
Read more: Libya's Desert Rebellion: The Lessons of World War II

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Big Three

Iran, formerly called Persia, has been in the news recently because of its nuclear programme. It brought back pleasant memories of my posting to that country during World War II. At that time, the country was divided into two zones – Britain was responsible for the major part of the country while the Russians administered the areas north of Teheran. Our 12th Indian Division was located at Ahwaz in the South but later moved to Teheran. Our main task was to protect oil-fields and refineries, besides securing the South / North railway from the Persian Gulf to Teheran.
There were only two Indian Officers on the Divisional Staff – Maj Ajit Singh Sodhi (father of Billy and Pickles Sodhi, the famous polo players ) and myself. It was in the first week of November 1943 that our British Commander called both of us and, in hushed tones, told us that the Big Three war leaders – Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin – were coming to Teheran for a strategy conference to end the war. Ajit was given the task of coordinating a birthday reception for Churchill (it was his 69th Birthday) while I was detailed to join the security team at the British Legation where Churchill would be staying. Security was a big headache. The news of their impending arrival had leaked out and our counter- intelligence staff had a tough time tracking down enemy agents who had
infiltrated into the capital. There was also the threat of paradrops by German suicide squads. The British Legation and the Russian Embassy were adjacent to each other but the Americans were some distance away. Fortunately all the major events took place at the Russian Embassy which was literally turned into a security fortress. The birthday party for
Churchill went off well. Knowing his views about India, we were all pleasantly surprised to hear him praise Indian troops for their bravery on many battlefronts. I was delighted to hear from his speech that, out of all the Commonwealth countries, India had made the maximum contribution of providing two million men – all volunteers – for the war
On the final day of the conference, there was a hastily arranged photo-op session for a limited number of war correspondents of the three nations. Churchill insisted that a famous British correspondent be present though his arrival had been delayed. As I was the only officer in the British Legation who had a security pass for the Russian Embassy, I was detailed to act as escort to this correspondent. We made it to the function just in time.
The British correspondent’s seat had been reserved and was closest to the three leaders (I was standing just behind him) My first impressions– Churchill who had been portrayed as a ferocious bulldog by cartoonists, looked like a person with rosy cheeks and boyish enthusiasm. Roosevelt, sitting in a wheel chair, looked pale and gaunt and I felt he would not last long. Stalin, in a Marshal’s uniform and wearing his cap bearing the Red Star, kept silent, intently surveying the audience. His steely cold eyes caught mine for a few seconds.
Believe me, that look sent shivers down my spine!
Lt Gen MN Batra (Retd)
The Big Three by Lt. Gen. MN Batra
In The Middle by Lt Gen MN Batra

Monday, March 21, 2011

High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program

High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program
HAARP is a scientific endeavor aimed at studying the properties and behavior of the ionosphere, with particular emphasis on being able to understand and use it to enhance communications and surveillance systems for both civilian and defense purposes.
The HAARP program is committed to developing a world class ionospheric research facility consisting of:
•The Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI), a high power transmitter facility operating in the High Frequency (HF) range. The IRI will be used to temporarily excite a limited area of the ionosphere for scientific study.
•A sophisticated suite of scientific (or diagnostic) instruments that will be used to observe the physical processes that occur in the excited region.
Observation of the processes resulting from the use of the IRI in a controlled manner will allow scientists to better understand processes that occur continuously under the natural stimulation of the sun.
Scientific instruments installed at the HAARP Observatory will be useful for a variety of continuing research efforts which do not involve the use of the IRI but are strictly passive. Among these studies include ionospheric characterization using satellite beacons, telescopic observation of the fine structure in the aurora, and documentation of long-term variations in the ozone layer.
High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program

Monday, March 14, 2011

WHETTING the Black Cats' teeth

Counter-terrorist operations in response to the carnage in Mumbai over two years ago was an important episode in the history of the National Security Guards. It produced several lessons for the premier anti-terror force, some of which are in the process of being implemented. After a quarter century of existence, it is time for introspection and reorganisation to meet emerging challenges and to optimise the force’s full potential. The Tribune 15 March 2011 by Col Ramesh Davesar (Retd)

IT has been 25 years since 1986, when National Security Guards (NSG), the elite commando force for carrying out specialised security tasks was raised. During this period the NSG has more than once proved their mettle and professional acumen. Except for delayed reaction against Pakistani highjackers in December 1999, the NSG successfully executed counter-terrorist operations in Punjab, Akshardham in Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir and more recently in Mumbai during the December 2008 (26/11) terror strikes. The Silver Jubilee year is aptly timed to carry out reappraisal and review its command and control set-up as well as reorganise to face new challenges.

The NSG is modelled on the lines of Special Air Service (SAS) of the United Kingdom and the GSG-9 (a.k.a. Federal Border Police) of Germany; the former being an Army outfit while the latter is purely a police establishment. The designated role of the NSG is anti-hijacking, hostage rescue and counter terrorists (CT) operations.

Primarily, the NSG has two special Action Groups (SAGs), one Special Support Group (SSG) and three Special Rangers Groups (SRGs). Post 26/11, in order to improve reaction capability, four hubs have been created at Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad, each having a SAG team comprising approximately 250 personnel. The SAGs are trained for CT operations and therefore, are completely staffed by Army personnel including officers, while the SSG supporting the operations has majority Army deputees. The SRGs, meant for VIP security and support operations, have manpower drawn from the central police organisations (CPOs). Thus, the SAGs along with the SSG form the NSG's teeth, as Army personnel are the major component of the force's overall strength of 14,500.

In order to execute its assigned role and tasks, the NSG adopts military tactical battle drills for raiding hideouts, fighting in built-up areas, conducting heli-borne operations and storming high jacked aircraft, etc. It is evident that the assigned tasks and their execution are Army specific or shall we say, an extension of the offensive and specialised operations for which Infantry units in general, and the Special Forces of the Army in particular, are trained. Rightly so, the SAGs are therefore staffed and commanded by the Army personnel. Conversely, with due respect, the state police, the CPOs and the IPS officers are basically trained in maintenance law and order and crime prevention, except for the limited and subsidiary exposure they would have got while operating in the counter insurgency (CI) grid. It is therefore axiomatic that Army operations are best comprehended and conducted by Army officers only. But ironically the overall command of the NSG is with an IPS officer, which is not only surprising but is also operationally untenable. Perhaps we are the only country where Army troops are commanded by police officers.

One may argue that since the NSG is a paramilitary force (PMF) and functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), its command has, therefore, been delegated to a police officer. Conversely, the Assam Rifles (AR) also being a PMF has the complete line and staff appointments held by Army officers. One may further attempt to justify this arrangement by quoting that the GSG-9 (one of the NSG's role models) is also commanded by police officers. This, however, is a wrong comparison because the GSG-9 is totally a police outfit with no elements from the Army. Hence it has been appropriately placed under a police officer. Take a look at the SAS of UK, the other role model. Keeping in view the sensitivities and nature of the specialised tasks, the UK has very rightly branded this force as a regular Army unit as it is strongly felt that that it is an operational necessity. In order to optimise the full potential of this elite force, the NSG must be commanded by an Army officer, preferably from the Special Forces.

The 26/11 terror strike, apart from other things, brought out important lessons and highlighted operational and logistic loopholes such as our sea frontiers being vulnerable to infiltration, the requirement of captive air transport to enhance mobility, deficiency in overall command and control of operations and lack of coordination with local military and state agencies. Presently our coastal defence is woefully porous and needs to be substantially beefed up because the Navy is already overstretched on their conventional role while the Coast Guard and the Navy's Marine Commandos (MARCOS) are inadequate for effective maritime surveillance. With increased incidents of sea pirating it becomes all the more prudent to reinforce our strike capabilities against misadventures from the sea route. Therefore the NSG should raise a marine wing organised on the lines of MARCOS and staffed by naval personnel for carrying out CT tasks in the second tier or in brown waters and relieve MARCOS to operate strategically in the first tier or in blue waters.

As regards providing inherent mobility and improving reaction capabilities, in addition to provision of long-range airlifts, NSG headquarters as well as the new hubs should also have heli-lift capability for faster movement of their teams over short distances.

It must be understood that such military-like operations against the terrorists, whether conducted by the armed forces or by any other agency including the NSG, are executed with the operational and logistics support from the local military formations and the civil administration. Somehow a complacent impression has been created that the NSG can carryout such tasks independently on its own steam, which is ethically incorrect. Going back to 26/11, during the entire operation while the local Army units provided outer cordon at various points of action, the Navy along with MARCOS were deployed to dominate the coastline. Therefore it is a misplaced belief which must be set aside. Further, the local military formations have adequate knowledge of the security scenario and have the professional and administrative wherewithal to conduct such operations. In fact, to optimise the desired success, the NSG operations must be conducted under the overall command and control of local army formations, which are inherently best poised for effective planning and execution of such tasks.

In order to further optimise the operational capabilities of the avant grade force; we must carry out objective analysis of the existing organisation, command and control structure as also taking note of the operational expediencies, handover the overall command of the NSG to an Army officer, particularly one from the Special Forces. Also keeping future threat perception in mind, captive airlift as well as short-range marine special mission capability for the NSG must be considered as an inescapable necessity.


THE NSG commenced its charter in 1986 by combating terrorism in Punjab with initial operations in Amritsar. Primarily a counter-terrorist assault, anti-hijack and hostage rescue force, its deployments are usually kept under wraps and most of its operations are classified. Some known and successful operations include:

May 11-18, 1988 - Neutralised terrorists holed-up inside the Golden Temple, Amritsar during Operation Black Thunder- II
April 25, 1993 - Rescued Indian Airlines Boeing 737 hijacked by Islamic militants during Operation Ashwamedh in Amritsar
October 1998 - Combat missions against terrorists in J&K. Black Cats heli-dropped into countryside.
July 15, 1999 - Freed 12 hostages held by armed terrorists who had stormed an apartment complex in Kashmir and killed four people
August 21, 1999 - Neutralised armed terrorists hiding in a house in Delhi
September 25, 2002 - Operation Vajra Shakti to free hostages held by terrorists who had killed 29 people at the Akshardham temple in Gujarat.
November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks - Operation Black Tornado and Operation Cyclone to flush out terrorists and rescue hostages after multiple attacks across Mumbai.


THERE have been occasions when the functioning of the NSG has come under critical review, particularly over the non-availability of state-of-the-art tactical combat and surveillance equipment as well as poor transport and mobility arrangements. A section of NSG Rangers, belonging to the Special Ranger Group, has been assigned on VIP protection duties. After the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, some of the modernisation programmes include induction of:

Corner shot guns
Laser designators
Advanced communication sets
GPS & GPRS technological systems
Wall surveillance radars
Night vision devices
Protective goggles
Special tactical gear
Thermal imaging cameras
Mini remotely operated vehicles
Non skid shoes
Ghillie suits
Assault helmets with-in built hands-free communications
Level-3 bullet-proof vests
Knee pad and elbow pads
SIG SG 553 guns
Taser electric stun guns
Anti-Materiel Rifles
Chartered helicopters and use of civilian aircraft for emergencies.
— Compiled by TNS
WHETTING the Black Cats' teeth

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Deepening Mess- Pakistan

A DEEPENING MESS - Pakistan is again exploiting India’s eagerness for dialogue by Kanwal Sibal
Apropos our decision to resume a “comprehensive” dialogue with Pakistan, the question needs to be asked why we want to play the same game with our neighbour again and again when we know that it does not want to play by accepted rules, or interprets the rules differently from us, or indeed sets its own rules of play. Pakistan also commits fouls with impunity, but that does not deter us from going into the field with it. We also enter the game under threat of constant violence by our adversary. When we give such latitude to Pakistan and our own play is so defensive and permissive, how can we ever hope to win the game?

The reference to the “Thimphu spirit” suggests that we believe there is a positive spirit that animates Pakistan in playing this game. Why we persist in believing this despite the experience of the past is not easy to explain. We have had before other versions of a similar ‘spirit’ — the Lahore spirit, the Islamabad one, that of Havana, Ekaterinberg and Sharm-el-Sheikh, and New Delhi too, but, despite the rhetoric and expressions of hope, Pakistan’s game behaviour has continued to be unclean and malevolent.

We are the ones that make all the effort to create a positive environment before each round of play, despite Pakistan’s bid to vitiate the atmosphere. We say we have no choice but to play an honest game, however dishonest the other side is. Our bounden duty is to play the neighbourhood team, we say, despite its reputation of being unsporting. We exhibit our great keenness to enter the field, always assuming that the game will be played with positive intent on both sides. We are glad to offer to do the extra running to make the game exciting if the other side were to show some seriousness in playing straight. We are even willing to acknowledge for discussion some imaginary fouls the adversary charges us with, so long as play can be maintained. Our bottom line, of course, is that refusal to play the game, whatever the level of fraud and deception on the other side, is not an option.

Pakistan garners many advantages in responding to our overtures to resume play after periodic suspensions because of its misconduct. As the wooed party it makes demands with regard to playing conditions. Because our urge to play gets regenerated time and again, it feeds Pakistan’s conviction that its misdeeds will always get condoned eventually, and that whatever fouls it commits or rules it transgresses, the game will not be called off for too long. Indeed, the play will then resume from a new threshold of tolerance of its objectionable acts on India’s part. By being invited to play, Pakistan also gets acknowledged as a credible team, and India’s equal. When teams play, the cheerleaders are in the ring to make a noise. When the play stops they are disappointed and push for it to resume. India, as the supposedly stronger team, is then pressed to overlook fouls and violence and make the requisite gesture to the weaker side. And finally, Pakistan sees in every bout of play with an India that seems bereft of a winning playing strategy an improved chance of defeating its adversary — by scoring the goal it has long hoped for.

This is an elaborate metaphor for our diplomacy with Pakistan. We are once again engaging Pakistan in a dialogue, without learning salutary lessons from past dealings. When Pakistan resists our basic demands we gradually modify them under the cover of platitudinous references to compulsions of neighbourhood, of “no dialogue” not being an option, of a stable and prosperous Pakistan being in our interest and so on — and in this way the climbdown is sought to be concealed.

After the Mumbai attack, Pakistan, far from being on the defensive, has been adamant that India’s step-by-step approach, with priority focus on terrorism, is not acceptable because it relegates the Kashmir issue to the background. It has insisted on the revival of the composite dialogue, as that would cover, besides Kashmir, the Siachen issue over which the Pakistanis feel aggrieved and want an Indian withdrawal. We have now yielded to its demand, though we are avoiding calling the renewed full spectrum dialogue “composite”, as if description defines reality. We will be discussing Kashmir, peace and security, counter-terrorism, Siachen, Sir Creek, the Wullar barrage/Tulbul navigation project, economic cooperation and people to people contacts, an agenda that has an uncanny resemblance to the “composite dialogue” that we ostensibly reject. Pakistan’s obstinacy has succeeded in extracting a major concession from us. To top it all, Pakistan has made the visit of its foreign minister to India contingent on “meaningful” results, implying that the onus is on us to produce results to its satisfaction.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has made no progress in bringing to justice those responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks, much less act against the India-directed jihadi groups. Indeed, it seems to have now threatened that the masterminds of Mumbai like Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi may be released unless a Pakistani judicial commission can come to India to authenticate Ajmal Kasab’s confession. We are succumbing to these delaying procedural tactics that enable Pakistan to make the pretence of doing something in accordance with the law while doing practically nothing through legal manipulations.

We seem to be buying the argument that even if Pakistan wanted to act on our demands it would not be able to do so in the current conditions of domestic terror and mounting extremist sentiment exemplified by the largely approving public reaction to Salman Taseer’s killing. As usual, we discover excuses for our adversary’s inaction in order to justify resiling from our own position. Suddenly, even Hafiz Saeed, the bogey man of yesterday is no longer worthy of serious notice. The venomous head of the terrorist organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the spiritual architect of Mumbai, who advocated a nuclear strike against India a day before the Thimphu meet, and who has close links with the Pakistani political and military establishment, is now dismissed as “inconsequential”. Because it is amply clear that the Pakistani government will not act against him, we feel obliged to change tack in order to clear the political decks for resuming the dialogue.

Why downgrade the centrality of terrorism by consigning discussions on it to the level of home secretaries? The home secretaries do not handle foreign policy, whereas terrorism is a foreign policy issue not only bilaterally with Pakistan, but also regionally and, indeed, internationally. The dialogue at the home secretaries level can be supplementary to the dialogue between the principals — in this case the foreign secretaries — with focus on evidence, documents, procedures, modalities of exchange of information, counter-terrorism matters and suchlike technical issues. The degree of integrality of the terrorism issue to the quality and substance of the overall India-Pakistan relationship cannot be in the remit of the home secretaries. The principals will discuss Kashmir though, giving this issue the centrality that Pakistan has been manoeuvring for.

Pakistan is exploiting the dialogue game to maul us as much as it can. Show it the yellow card and wait for its initiative to resume play if it wants to extract itself from its deepening mess.

The author is former foreign secretary of India
A DEEPENING MESS - Pakistan is again exploiting India’s eagerness for dialogue by Kanwal Sibal

Delhi rebuilds Tehran line

Delhi rebuilds Tehran line- Menon carries PM message byK.P. NAYAR
Menon in Tehran on Tuesday. (PTI)
Washington, March 9: For Manmohan Singh, it must have been the most distasteful diplomatic act since he became the Prime Minister, having to write a letter this week to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that was carried to Tehran by national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon.
The letter, which was predicted by The Telegraph on February 28, may turn out to be the pivot around which India’s West Asia policy may be calibrated to meet the new realities of this increasingly volatile region.
Like most high-level diplomatic communication, the contents of Singh’s letter have not been made public, but it is understood that Menon tiptoed around a proposal that the Prime Minister should visit Iran later this year.
This would be a tectonic shift in the Manmohan Singh government’s consistent policy of whittling down relations with Iran and gradually positioning itself firmly in the US and Israeli camps against Tehran.
The extreme sensitivity of Menon’s mission can be gauged from the total silence on the part of the Indian government that the national security adviser travelled to Tehran.
The Indian embassy in Iran, which normally makes much noise during the dwindling number of visits from New Delhi to Tehran in order to retain its credibility with the host government, has also been silent about Menon’s meetings in the Iranian capital.
But it is clear from the ecstatic response, in Tehran’s carefully guided media and government channels of communication, to Menon’s talks that the Iranians sense an opportunity to revive their moribund relationship with New Delhi.
Tehran Times may be exaggerating when it today quoted Menon as having told Ahmadinejad that “many of the predictions that you had made about political and economic developments in the world are becoming true”.
While that has shades of north Korean reporting about “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, the national security adviser may well have said this to Iran’s President. “The world order is changing and the current condition has contributed to the expansion of relations between Iran and India,” the newspaper quoted Menon as saying. Indeed, it is true.
The Iranians have actually played their cards right in recent weeks and convinced key officials like Menon that they are reliable partners for New Delhi in these troubled times in their region.
Although India gave in to Washington’s persuasive powers in December and wantonly disrupted the long practice of settling payments to Tehran for oil imports through the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), Iran was not provoked into a response.
According to petroleum secretary S. Sundareshan, the Iranians continued to supply crude to India even though no payment was forthcoming since December.
Last month, the two sides agreed that importers of Iranian oil products, all of them public sector undertakings, will make payments in euros to the National Iranian Oil Company through Germany’s Europaisch-Iranische Handelsbank.
Despite a steady decline in bilateral relations in recent years, the compulsions of the global oil market put Iran above Saudi Arabia as the biggest source of India’s oil needs in 2009, much to the chagrin of the Americans and their lobbies in New Delhi.
The disruption in the ACU payment mechanism was the result of a successful effort by these lobbies to cripple crude purchases by Indian refineries from Iran.
Oil accounts for 75 per cent of Indo-Iranian trade and if crude supplies had been disrupted, the bilateral relationship would have been left with little else.
The troubles in West Asia were not on the horizon in December, but when they erupted, serious bumps in the Indian economy were silently averted because of Tehran’s decision to continue with crude shipments during two months without any payments.
It was this economic reality which convinced the Prime Minister that he needed to change course, belatedly, on Iran.
If Singh does go to Iran this year, Menon would have pulled it off with the diplomatic finesse that he is known for. An invitation from the Iranians for the Prime Minister has been pending for years and the Iranians have been reminding him regularly about it.
So although it will be reversing course on Iran, the UPA government would have done it without loss of face. The Prime Minister has been personally involved in decisions to vote against Iran on the nuclear issue at the International Atomic Energy Agency and, more recently, to abstain from a vote in the UN Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in Iran.
Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao visited Tehran in February last year for foreign office consultations and external affairs minister S.M. Krishna deputised for Singh at a Group of Fifteen summit in May 2010.
But neither of them could use their visits to significantly augment bilateral relations in the absence of clear directives from the Prime Minister who has always been lukewarm about ties with Tehran.
Writing a letter to the Iranian President may, therefore, have been distasteful for the Prime Minister, but yet another compulsion for him was the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) summit next month in Sanya in China’s Hainan province.
India would have been the odd man out on Iran at this summit because every other Brics country has been following a proactive agenda on Iran while India has been standing by until the West Asian turmoil forced it to change course now.
Delhi rebuilds Tehran line

Friday, March 4, 2011

NASSCOM Foundation Honours Social Transformers

NASSCOM HONOURS FOR BEST BUSINESS MODEL on 08 Feb 2011. Lt Gen Prakash Gokarn, PVSM, AVSM former Signal Officer in Chief receiving plaque from Minister of HR and Telecom Shri Kapil Sibal on behalf of Luna Ergonomics Pvt Ltd.
Tuesday 8 February 2011
NASSCOM Foundation, the leading Indian development organization that works towards galvanizing the corporate social responsibility (CSR) space in the IT industry in India; and the social development arm of NASSCOM, in association with Genpact today announced the winners of its third annual NASSCOM Social Innovation Honours 2011. The Honours were given to deserving projects that strive to bring about social change and development through Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) at the NASSCOM India Leadership Summit 2011.

The Honours were judged by an eminent jury of Dilip Chenoy, Managing Director & CEO of the National Skill Development Corporation, (NSDC); Jaithirth (Jerry) Rao (Chairman, NASSCOM Foundation); Kiran Karnik, ex President, NASSCOM ; Narayana Murthy (Founder-Chairman, Infosys Technologies Limited; Dr. Vasanthi Srinivasan, Associate Professor, Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources Management, IIM Bangalore, Chairperson, Centre for Corporate Governance and Citizenship
Mr. Jaithirth (Jerry) Rao, Chairman, NASSCOM Foundation said, "This year, every entry has been distinct and innovative. I am glad to say that all winners have lived up to the challenge of showcasing innovations with exemplary use of ICT. These would definitely contribute towards bringing sustainable and inclusive growth.We hope that many more would now be inspired to innovate!"
"Many of the finalists this year focused on assistive technologies to include People with Disabilities in the workplace, in academia and in everyday life. This is a critical step towards inclusive growth, a cause close to NASSCOM Foundation. The winners have come up with brilliant innovations and we hope that many more are inspired to do the same next year" said Rita Soni, CEO, and NASSCOM Foundation.
Genpact President & CEO Mr. Pramod Bhasin said, "NASSCOM Social Innovation Honours (NSIH) is a unique platform that aims to foster innovation in social development within organizations and individuals. The objective of our collaboration with NSIH is to act as a catalyst to drive growth and prosperity in the not so privileged sections of society. Through our association with NSIH, we aim to highlight the significant changes that technological innovations can bring about in improving the social landscape."

ICT led Innovation as a Business Model
Panini Keypad Luna Ergonomics Noida
Webpage- Panini Keyboard
Panini Keypad is an application that allows an individual to type in an Indian language on the phone faster than one can write in English on an equivalent phone. The technologies are alreadydeployed on the phone for Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi and work continues to include many others.
The Future
  • The first phones enabled with the Panini Keypad are entering the markets. And thousands of users all over India are already using the Panini Keypad to write in Indian languages freely on their phones
  • In the course of a year, millions of people of India are expected to be writing on their phones using the Panini Keypad

    About Luna Ergonomics Pvt Ltd
    A spinout from the startup myMobile Phone is based out of JSS Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park at Noida. The technology incubator is sponsored by the Dept of Science and Technology of the Govt of India. The startup is founded by Major Abhijit Bhattacharjee, an electronics engineer and a keen technologist, a former Signaller from the Indian Army and who along with a small team is invested into development of technologies, applications and services which address painpoints relevant to large population of India.

    Luna Ergonomics is currently into development of texting technologies for the mobile phone. They have developed the Panini Keypad which supports composition and sending of SMS in 11 major languages of India and 10 other global languages. Panini Keypad also supports transliteration between all the languages of India. It also offers SMS compression for the first time in the world increasing the payload of a SMS in an Indian language by over 300 percent.

    Luna Ergonomics also developed the first dictionary less statistical predictive texting technology which uses a dynamic allocation of keys and hence does not rely on printed keys on the keypad. This offers the possibility of supporting multiple languages on the same keypad. Also this is single key press typing. This technology called CleverTexting has also been developed for all the major languages of the world including Arabic and Hebrew. We have won many national and international awards for our path-breaking technology.
    NASSCOM Honours for best Business Model
  • Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    J&K: The complete surrender?

    By Maj Gen GD Bakshi
    IDR Issue: Net Edition | Date: 24 February, 2011

    The recent spate of scams has so exhausted the fund of public outrage, that the die-hard votaries of peace with Pakistan (at any cost) have found the time opportune to shamelessly resile from our principled post Mumbai stand and restart the composite dialogue with Pakistan – in all but name. The public in India is so preoccupied with local issues of corruption that this “peace at any cost” lobby has decided to exploit that sense of emotional ennui and exhaustion to push their pet agenda through surreptitiously. Such an earlier attempt at Sharm-el-Sheikh had come too soon after the Mumbai massacre and caused public outrage that forced the government to backtrack then.

    This perplexing urge to resile from a principled stand militates against our national interests and global image as an emerging global power. The worst part is the callous lack of concern it betrays for the lives of ordinary Indians. 163 innocent Indians were massacred in Mumbai. What steps has Pakistan taken to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism? What has it done to bring the perpetrators to justice? Why then this overarching compulsion on the part of India to resume dialogue and in fact, grovel before the perpetrators of terror? What really has changed except the Bleeding Hearts Brigade’s perception that now is the opportune time to get away with it? It is disturbing to note this cynical lack of concern for the lives of ordinary Indians that seem to matter so little to this Bleeding Hearts Brigade.

    Why then this overarching compulsion on the part of India to resume dialogue and in fact, grovel before the perpetrators of terror?
    There is however a second aspect that is of equal, if not greater concern. Are we compromising on our national interests under pressure from America? Bruce Reidel – who wields considerable influence over America’s Af-Pak Policy, recently wrote a book called “Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the Future of Global Jihad”. In this, he emphasized that the cancer of jihadism has spread deep into the vitals of Pakistan. He lamented that “nothing could be done unless the Kashmir dispute is resolved to Pakistan’s entire satisfaction. That alone will make it a normal state not preoccupied with India. It would also remove the rationale for the Pakistan Army’s disproportionate role in Pakistan’s Security Affairs.”

    The construct is very disturbing. It is Pakistan that has the Jihadi cancer but it is India that is required to undergo the surgical operation of giving up Kashmir simply because the Jihadis want it and to get peace we must tamely surrender the province. Besides, Bruce Reidel’s argument is seriously flawed. The surrender of Kashmir will only whet the Jihadi brigade’s appetite to dismember India. There is the issue of River Waters which is likely to be blown up next and maps of Mughalistan are rife in the Urdu Press in Pakistan. The Pakistani Army gains its prima donna status from the centrality of the disputes with India. Will it tamely relinquish its overarching role and power? The J&K settlement, supposedly arrived at in Musharraf’s tenure ,was derailed by his conclave of Corps Commanders and the ISI. Mumbai blew up in our faces. We can therefore, expect the next terrorist strike anytime now that we are going down the Munich lane again.

    Remove the Army and you might as well hand over the state on a platter to Pakistan.
    So the central premise of Bruce Reidel is seriously flawed. However it has, apparently resulted in backdoor pressure on India to compromise and we seemed to have caved in suddenly and completely .The article by Juan C Zarate, a former American National Security Advisor in the Washington Post reinforces this thesis and calls for” pressure on both parties to pave the way for a constructive dialogue on Kashmir”. The Americans of course are solely interested in safeguarding their own citizenry. Even a single CIA operative’s life is precious. The contrast with the attitude of the India state to the safety of its own citizens could not be more stark. It is the Indian states callous lack of concern for its slain citizenry that is cause for concern.

    The Indian state is hardly six decades old. It cannot afford to dilute its sovereignty or give in so supinely to the demands of separatism. J&K is a major test case for the core Indian constitutional principle of secularism. If we let the five million Kashmiri Muslims of the valley secede purely on the basis of a religious/communal agenda, we revive the two nation theory. Worse, what right will we then have to the continual loyalty of 150 million loyal India Muslims who voted with their feet at the time of partition to stay in a secular India and not migrate to a theocratic Pakistan? A retreat from our sovereignty in Kashmir could set up dangerous precedents and models for other insurgents in the North East. How can we deny similar dilutions of sovereignty then to the Nagas or Manipuris or Assamese?
    Also read: Stable Pakistan not in India's interest
    The backchannel diplomacy has proposed solutions that are dangerous. How can we demilitarize a state that has been attacked five times in the past by the Pakistanis and Chinese militaries? Massive deployments of Pakistani and Chinese troops are still arrayed against the state. It is the presence of the Indian Army that is the check against Jihadi Is infiltration. Remove the Army and you might as well hand over the state on a platter to Pakistan. Is the resumption of the dialogue the thin edge of the wedge of complete capitulation on the issue of J&K?
    J&K: The complete surrender?