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SPECIAL: INDIA’S LOOK EAST POLICY

geopolitics V OL II, ISSUE VI, NOVEMBER 2011  ` 100

DEFENCE  DIPLOMACY  SECURITY



General Vijay Kumar Singh (NDA Batch-1969)



Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma (NDA Batch-1968)



Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne (NDA Batch-1970)

OFFICERS & GENTLEMEN Are the training templates based on the British legacy still good enough to produce officers of the 21st century?


COVER STORY (P48)

Evolving Martial Curriculum The Indian Army needs to evolve its training regimen, which is currently strait-jacketed and doggedly follows a legacy that promoted “physical” fitness as the epitome of military skill.

PANORAMA (P10)

FOCUS (P18)

DEATH BY DRONE

HIGH AND DRY

The targeted killing of tech-savvy terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, a dual US-Yemeni citizen and a senior al-Qaida leader, was orchestrated by the same team that was responsible for the Osama raid.

It was not a surprise to observers when the joint venture between Mazagon Dock Limited and Pipavav Shipyard was put on hold by the Ministry of Defence.

SPOTLIGHT (P12)

DEF BIZ (P28)

TUSSLE FOR CONTROL

OFFSETS SPINOFF

POLICE MODERNISATION

The Army’s insistence for operational control over the ITBP stems from reports of repeated Chinese incursions on the sensitive border.

Indian industry stands to gain a great deal technologically with the offsets clause of the major defence acquisition programmes.

The government needs to reorient its approach towards modernising the police, enabling them to quell the forces active in destabilising internal security.

www.geopolitics.in

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INTERNAL SECURITY (P62)

November 2011


Photo:militaryphotos.net

INFO WARRIOR (P32)

Delhi-based firm Smart Warrior has offered combat simulators for ground troops of the Indian paramilitary and armed forces.

TROUBLE IN THE HILLS (P58)

The Garo National Liberation Army is fomenting fresh violence in Meghalaya and dissuading pro-talk groups.

REGIONAL WATCH (P62)

THE HANOI AFFAIR (P76)

India’s equation with Afghanistan will face critical tests ahead with the pullout of the US forces looming on the horizon.

Bordered by the Chinese behemoth, India and Vietnam share a symbiotic relationship in a turbulent regional swathe.

SPECIAL REPORT (P28) SEEK AND DESTROY

Photo:Kobus Savonije

More surveillance and reconnaissance platforms are being acquired by the Air Force to guard India with Asia’s most-sophisticated integrated air defence network.

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GEOPOLITICS

Consulting Editor

SAURAV JHA

DIPLOMACY (65)

EASTERN PROMISES Editor-in-Chief

K SRINIVASAN Editor

PRAKASH NANDA Managing Editor

TIRTHANKAR GHOSH Assistant Editor

JUSTIN C MURIK

Senior Correspondent

Copy Editor

ROHIT SRIVASTAVA

ASHOK KUMAR

FROM THE TIGER ECONOMIES OF ASEAN TO THE TECHNOLOGICAL POWERHOUSES SUCH AS JAPAN AND KOREA, INDIA IS SEEKING A NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH THE EAST ASIAN NATIONS IN ITS ‘LOOK EAST POLICY’.

Director (Corporate Affairs)

RAJIV SINGH Conceptualised and designed by Newsline Publications Pvt. Ltd., from D-11 Basement, Nizamuddin (East), New Delhi -110 013, Tel: +91-11-41033381-82 for NEWSEYE MEDIA PVT. LTD. All information in GEOPOLITICS is derived from sources we consider reliable. It is passed on to our readers without any responsibility on our part. Opinions/views expressed by third parties in abstract or in interviews are not necessarily shared by us. Material appearing in the magazine cannot be reproduced in whole or in part(s) without prior permission. The publisher assumes no responsibility for material lost or damaged in transit. The publisher reserves the right to refuse, withdraw or otherwise deal with all advertisements without explanation. All advertisements must comply with the Indian Advertisements Code. The publisher will not be liable for any loss caused by any delay in publication, error or failure of advertisement to appear. Owned and published by K Srinivasan, 4C Pocket-IV, Mayur Vihar, Phase-I, Delhi-91 and printed by him at Nutech Photolithographers, B-240, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-I, New Delhi-110020. Readers are welcome to send their feedback at geopolitics@newsline.in. www.geopolitics.in

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SPECIAL: INDIA’S LOOK EAST POLICY

geopolitics VOL II, ISSUE VI, NOVEMBER 2011  ` 100

DEFENCE  DIPLOMACY  SECURITY



General Vijay Kumar Singh (NDA Batch-1969)



Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma (NDA Batch-1968)



Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne (NDA Batch-1970)

OFFICERS & GENTLEMEN Are the training templates based on the British legacy still good enough to produce officers of the 21st century?

Cover photos: PIB

November 2011


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LETTERS

LETTERS TO EDITOR

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eopolitics has been consistent in its story mix, which is good and the October issue was one step ahead. Three interviews of leading people were something of a feat, which very few can achieve. The article Looking for Landing Platform Dock in the October issue was purely based on the Request for Information (RFI). I think the article was one-sided and did not cover the aspects of the use of the Landing Platform Dock (LPD) in the amphibious operations of the Indian Navy. I also feel that the article should have covered why India is going for larger LPDs and still retaining the smaller landing crafts. The mix of news in Geopolitics is getting better and it is turning out to be a well-rounded niche magazine. The article Farewell to Legend, (October issue) your special report on MiG 21 brought out the forgotten facts about the aircraft. Nice to be reminded why we bought and what it has done for the nation. One story that must be of importance to both the business and government was, Another Misfire for LongRange Artillery (October issue), which dealt with the ongoing tussle between the government and the industry. The information given in the article was over and above the coverage of the newspapers on the same issue. I wish to congratulate you for the commendable work. Wish you luck. Nagesh Sharma, Karnal

www.geopolitics.in

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oing through the previous (September) month’s issue I was happy to see the number of timely articles on the regional affairs of India. The story on the Prime Minister’s visit to Bangladesh Beyond Bilateralism was well written and well presented. The article brought out very coherently the historical perspective, the current challenges as well as the way forward. The author is a known authority on regional issues and was a right choice. The choice of authors in Geopolitics is commendable and I am sure many readers like me would be enriched from their expert views. Similarly, SD Muni’s Meeting the Chinese Challenge was a fascinating piece. The Chinese threat is indeed grave. India has taken cognizance of this and if we look back at the news coming out on the military modernisation, one can see that the military planners are doing their bit and the Prime Minister’s Office is supporting them in their endeavors. I am sure Muni is aware about this. Our new military formations for the north-east are slowly getting in place and a lot has been achieved in other aspects of the defence formations. The Chinese role in Nepal is something which we need counter and the author has put this forth in no uncertain terms. I am sure Geopolitics will continue to do similar work. I am looking forward to your forthcoming issues eagerly. Regards Sushil Prakash, Bengaluru

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s a student of strategic affairs, Geopolitics comes as very handy magazine for me. The content of the magazine is completely in line with its name and every aspect of the Indian geopolitical paradigm is given due importance. In last three months since I have been reading this magazine, I have come across various topics, which have broadened my view on my subject of choice, i.e., strategic affair. For a non-military person, the hardcore military subjects can be tricky to tackle and on top of this, the technical jargon about the weapons can be beyond our comprehension. The role of weapons in strategy can never be undermined and some understanding of weapons is a serious requirement of student of strategic affairs. In this regard Geopolitics is doing us a huge favour by breaking down the jargon for us. Out of the numerous magazines available in the market today Geopolitics is in a different league and cannot be put into the bracket of trade magazines, which double up as strategic magazine with few stories on strategy and foreign affairs. Your website gives free access to the magazine, which is a generous addition. Keep up the good work. Cheers Sarmistha Singh Chandigarh All Correspondence may be addressed to Editor, Geopolitics, D-11 Basement, Nizamuddin (East), New Delhi-13, OR mail to geopolitics@newsline.in.

November 2011


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ow we are all aware that like the legendary cricketer Bapu Nadkarni (who was miserly with his bowling, never took wickets, but never gave runs) was India’s original stroke-less wonder. His successor without a doubt has to be AK Anthony. Now Anthony hasn’t lifted a cricket bat or for that matter a ball in all his life, but he brings a cricketing parallel to his work at the Ministry of Defence; be miserly with the decision-making process. His greatest claim to fame is his dexterity in taking no decision. Now what the sophisticated gentlemen and women who flock to the MoD day in and day out have to say about him in private is legion, but that’s not the point. At least Mr Anthony can improve his sartorial elegance when he is travelling overseas. As case in point is his recent trip to Moscow for the Indo-Soviet annual Joint Commission meeting. Now if you surf the net, you’ll get plenty of pictures of Mantriji in Moscow. In one picture as he prepares to lay a wreath, you can’t see his hands. The overcoat is so long the hands are somewhere inside the sleeves struggling to come out. Now either the fitting

HASNAIN: DELHI OR SRINAGAR? In last one year the invisible yet very important post of Military Secretary was in news for numerous reasons including Army Chief’s age controversy. This post is going to be vacant when Lt Gen GM Nair will retire in November. One name that is making the rounds as Nair’s replacement is Lt Gen Hasnain, GoC in C of Srinagarbased 15 Corp. Without a doubt he is only second to the Army chief when it comes to media play He is one of the most widely covered Lt Generals by media. But the Military Secretary by the very nature of the job is Mr Invisible, behind the scenes and off bounds and off the record at most times. So that’s something that will be tough on him in case he does move to Delhi. But would it really help getting him here when he is doing such a fine job in Srinagar? It has been one of the most peaceful years in the valley and many attribute it not only to the general sense of détente between India and Pakistan but also to some savvy operational excellence by the 15 Corp lead by Lt Gen Hasnain.

www.geopolitics.in

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November 2011


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WORLD-CLASS STENOGRAPHY was so poor that the sleeves outflanked the hands, or else, Mantriji like bittu, tony and titoo decided that the best way to escape the cold is to hide inside the sleeves. In another picture he is wearing a peak cap made famous by Charles Shobraj. Now surely that’s not what one wears to a high-level tete-a-tete. It reminded one of the tramp in Shree 420 made immortal by Raj Kapoor, such an indelible part of the Russian psyche. Or is it that Mr Anthony was trying to quietly do a Shree 420 on his own? Mantriji’s disregard to America and neutrality towards Europe is well known among the MoD’s regulars. His recent trips has been mostly to central Asia to strengthen defence ties with these nation. Be it Krygzstan, Tajikistan, or Mongolia. But with MMRCA, chopper deals at verge of being finalised and Russian deals like MTA (Medium Transport Aircraft) getting into rough weather, he might have to do more trips to Europe and the US. The Old Russian heavy coats will have to be dropped for sharp pin strips. He can certainly learn this metamorphosis from his colleague across the Rajpath. Our very own Chidambaram who sheds his favourite vesti for Armani every time he goes to Davos. Anyway Antony enjoys PC’s friendship, a rarity in the Cabinet, and getting sartorial tips shouldn’t be much of a problem. But one wonders if he will ever go to Armani ?

Like it or lump it, one has to give credit to Sitanshu Kar, the powerful Director of PR at the Ministry of Defence, for having a loyal crop of stenographer patrakars (journalists). They swear by his every word and their pens move on pads like accordians, recording every little nuance that Mr Kar has to utter. And the consequence is that the ‘plantation’ drive from the Ministry gets full play in the media. Bhai ab naam lena theek nahin (it would be unfair to name names), suffice to say that he has his favourites amongst the wire services and the print media. Those who play the accordion know who we are referring to, you can be sure they will turn pale the moment they read this. As for Sitanshhu what has he got to bother about, as long as he has the ears of the (RM) Raksha Mantri (something that the stenographer patrakars are never tired of repeating)? He can continue with his dictation. Haan, to likhiye…. (Okay, note it…..)

CAN’T BE QUICK An article appeared in June in one of the leading US newspapers on the death of a young girl while crossing the Indo-Bangladesh border. The death occurred as a result of the firing by the Border Security Force whose brief is to stop infiltrators. Unfortunately, the girl who was in a group tragically died when the BSF acted. The bleeding heart journalist wrote the piece calling names to the BSF. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) took cognizance of the issue and decided to send a rebuttal to the editor of the paper. It’s October and the file related to the rebuttal is still making rounds in the corridors of the North Block. If it takes months to shoot a rebuttal then what will be the significance of the letter in eyes of the editor of the paper. This should come as no surprise to anybody. When a DO (Demi Official) letter which the standard vocabulary for communication in the sarkar (government) takes 15 days to move from department to department, a letter to the editor of a US paper will get the same treatment that the MMRCA bids are getting.

www.geopolitics.in

TAILPIECE In the dinner reception of a seminar on internal security held at Delhi’s Le Meridien recently, the delegates were astonished when they happened to bump into a most unexpected guest. The reaction between them also goes to show the temperature between countries. The most surprised were the Americans who were taken aback by his esteemed presence. The Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan was the guest in question in Delhi. One senior executive of an American security firm said, ‘The enemy is here!’ There was nothing more to explain and it only shows that what the State Department thinks today, American or should it be American companies think the next day! But then is Pakistan really an enemy of the US? Whatever Hilary Clinton might have said about keeping snakes in the backyard and bearing up with them, it now appears that her words were all part of a big drama— not our words but the belief of many political analysts in the country and abroad.

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November 2011


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PANORAMA IN THE SHADOW OF OSAMA: Anwar al-Awlaki’s menace lay in his use of the internet to spread al Qaida’s message of hate

HOW THE US

ANWAR AL-AWLAKI

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www.ansar1.info


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www.geopolitics.in

baronshobbies.com

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attacks, with Navy SEAL commandos operating under CIA authority. The CIA oversees a 3,000-strong Afghan counter-terrorism contingent and now has a new generation of officers steeped in the craft of targeting.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the killing was a violation of both US and international law. “This is a programme under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts. It

pibillwarner.wordpress.com

WEAPON OF CHOICE: Hunter-killer drones, such as the MQ-9 Reaper, have become synonymous with the targeted killing of terrorists by the US

TECH-SAVVY FANATIC: Samir Khan, who edited al Qaida’s slick internet magazine, Inspire (below left) was also killed in the attack

is a mistake to invest the President — any President — with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country.”  The Obama administration has elected to continue a post-September 11 Bush administration policy authorising the CIA and the military to kill US citizens outside the country if there is strong evidence of their involvement in terrorist activities. US officials reportedly maintain lists of citizens who they have the authority to kill. Awlaki’s father unsuccessfully sought a court order last year to keep the government from killing his son.

ot.com trail.blogsp obspaper

he killings of US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and another American al Qaida propagandist in a US airstrike have wiped out the decisive factor that made the terrorist group’s Yemen branch the most dangerous threat to the world. Here are a few unusual aspects of the US effort to ‘take out’ Awlaki and Co.  The US drone attack was believed to be the first instance in which a US citizen was tracked and killed based on secret intelligence and the President’s say-so. Al-Awlaki was placed on the CIA “kill or capture” list by the Obama administration in April 2010 — the first American to be so targeted.  A second American, Samir Khan, who edited al Qaida’s Internet magazine, was also killed in the airstrike. Khan published a slick English-language Web magazine, Inspire, that spouted al Qaida’s anti-Western ideology and even offered how-to articles on terrorism — including one titled, “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”  The top al Qaida bomb-maker in Yemen also died in the strike — Ibrahim al-Asiri, who was linked to the bomb hidden in the underwear of the Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. Al-Asiri is also believed to have built the bombs that al Qaida slipped into printers and shipped to the US last year in a nearly catastrophic attack.  The pursuit of al-Awlaki was directed by the same US special unit that directed the Navy SEALs raid on bin Laden’s hideout In Abbottabad, Pakistan.  After three weeks of tracking the targets, US armed drones and fighter jets shadowed al-Awlaki’s convoy, before drones launched the lethal strike. Al-Awlaki and his comrades were moving through a desert region east of Yemen’s capital near the village of Khasaf between mountain strongholds in the provinces of Jawf and Marib when the drone struck.  In its relentless pursuit of terror suspects, the CIA now oversees a growing military operation that threatens to sideline its traditional work in espionage and intelligence, former officials and experts say. The US raid in May that killed Osama bin Laden symbolised the “militarisation” of the leading spy agency since the 9/11

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November 2011


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SPOTLIGHT

SENTINELS OF THE HIMALAYAS: The mountaineering skills of the ITBP troops are highly regarded by the Army

FIGHTING FOR OPERATIONAL CONTROL The Army’s call for guiding the ITBP is leading to unnecessary wrangling over forces deployed near the border of our most potent adversary. The sooner the civil- political leadership takes a final call on the issue, the better it will be for long-term security of the nation, comments ROHIT SRIVASTAVA

Photo:ITBP

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HE AGGRESSIVE Chinese patrols on the Indo-Tibet border are an ever-present menace to our border-management agencies. The threat of Chinese incursions has increased along the border with multiple cases being reported this year. The situation has reached such a state www.geopolitics.in

that the border management apparatus of the 4,057-km-long Indo-Tibetan border needs to be reorganised at the institutional level. The first effort in this regard was made in 2005 by the Indian Army when it sent a proposal seeking the operational control of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). The reports of regular incursions by Chinese forces have made

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the Army cautious and it obviously does not want to be out of the loop on this sensitive border. The proposal was turned down by the government then. According to government sources: “The latest thrust is due to an incident that happened in 2010 when an ITBP patrol met a Chinese patrol within Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh, resulting November 2011


g SPOTLIGHT in a tense day-long standoff. The ITBP patrol pulled back only at night, when the Chinese also pulled back. This incident sent jitters across the Army High Command and Ministry of Defence (MoD), and since then, the Army has become very serious about this issue.” The ITBP replaced the Assam Rifles (AR) on the Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh border in 2005. Before this, the ITBP was manning the Indo-Tibet border from Ladakh to Nepal only. Barring Ladakh, this stretch is not contested by the Chinese. The ITBP was made incharge of the whole of the Indo-Tibetan border as per the government policy,’One Border-One Force’. After this policy was implemented, the Border Security Force (BSF) was entrusted to guard the border with Pakistan and Bangladesh, Shastra Seema Bal (SSB) was tasked with the Bhutan and Nepal border, Assam Rifles looked after the border with Myanmar and the ITBP was delegated the IndoTibet border. The Army feels that the ITBP does not have the experience and capability to handle sensitive areas like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. According to Army sources, the ITBP is relatively “new” in this region and in all these years the Assam Rifles was under the Army’s operational control. Except the boundary with Sikkim, the Indo-Tibet perimeter is an undefined border. The border-management responsibilities are shared by both the Army and the ITBP. In its recommendation, the Group of Ministers on Border Management suggested that all unsettled borders be manned by the Army also. Presently, there are two borders on which the Army operates along with the border-guarding forces: the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir with the BSF, and the Indo-Tibet border with the ITBP. The BSF is under the Army’s operational control when it is copositioned with the Army on the LoC. The Army wants a similar arrangement with the ITBP. The proposal is with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Army is waiting for the response. India shares a Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, except in Sikkim where the border is defined. Both the Army and the ITBP are deployed along the LAC with no singular operational control. This duality often leads to ambiguity with regard to responsibility and accountability. Army sources suggest: “In all sectors www.geopolitics.in

other than Sikkim, it is therefore axiomatic that all border-guarding forces are placed under the operational control of the Army. But the administrative control of all such units will continue to be with the ITBP. Similar arrangements exist in J&K, where BSF troops deployed along the LoC with Pakistan are under the operational control of the Army. It has neither caused any ‘chaos’ in the BSF, nor affected the morale of BSF troops, as is being feared, if ITBP troops along the IndiaChina border are to be placed under the operational control of the Army. By operating in close concert with the Army, the ITBP is likely to gain from its wellentrenched ethos, operating procedures, and training, leading to much-needed synergy in operations and better understanding of each other.”

THE ARMY WISHES TO HAVE A VERY FORMAL FLOW OF INFORMATION AT A LATERAL LEVEL Comprehensive border management requires a synergised approach for surveillance, intelligence, deployment and employment of border-guarding forces along the unsettled China border. Therefore, it is believed in defence circles that uncoordinated actions can aggravate the situation along the LAC, which may affect the peace and tranquility of the region. The problem between the forces is in operational matters. Both the forces have different sets of manuals and there are serious issues of trust. The Army has grave reservations over the efficiency and capability of ITBP, whereas the ITBP is apprehensive about the Army’s motives. The reason behind the Army’s demand for operational control can be divided into — Intelligence/Information Sharing, Synchronised Patrolling, Minimum Manning Levels, Joint Operational Training, Operational Alert and Operational Discussion and Operational Accountability. The difference of opinion on each is very sharp. The Army wishes to have a very formal flow of information at a lateral level. The

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Army accepts that there is lateral sharing of information by the ITBP when the personal relationship between the unit commanders is good but these are informal exchanges. At present, the ITBP sends situational reports weekly or on a monthly basis to the Army, but the Army wants the reports on a daily basis. The ITBP has a different take on the issue. As one senior officer informed Geopolitics, “We share information with the Army wherever it is in a superior formation. Lateral-sharing is done wherever required. The general information is sent through the headquarters as per procedures. There is not much information to share on a daily.” The most important issue, according to Army sources, is border patrolling. The Army wants to carry out joint patrolling and it believes the yardstick of patrolling must be similar if not the same. The Army also wants full feedback after every patrol. One senior officer elaborated the objectives of any patrol: “When any border patrolling is done, we look for operationally relevant information, like possible routes of enemy infiltration, the number of enemy that can advance, the possibilities for counter-attack, possible artillery locations, etc.” These operational requirements can be analysed by the Army only and the ITBP is not trained to carry out such operational analysis. Therefore, the need for joint patrolling. According to Army sources, every Army patrol is officer-led, while the ITBP patrols are almost always subordinateled. The Army wants the ITBP to plan patrols with their consent and advice. This kind of control over the ITBP is not possible without operational control. ITBP sources do not agree with the Army’s view. They say information about the ITBP patrols is shared with the Army and with approval taken from senior Army formations, generally from corps headquarters. The information about the ITBP’s long-range and short-range patrols is shared to avoid duplicity. Senior Army officers don’t consider ITBP jawans inferior to the Army’s men in any way. They believe ITBP men are as good as any Army man, but they have serious issues with the officer cadre of the ITBP. The Army sources say ITBP officers hardly ever visit the forward posts and the border posts are led by juniors, whereas all Army posts are lead by officers. ITBP officers blame the administrative responsibility for not giving them November 2011


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Photo:militaryphotos.net

SPOTLIGHT

GUNNING FOR TOTAL CONTROL: Reports of repeated incursions by Chinese forces have made the army call for control over the ITBP

enough time to visit all posts regularly. They contend that they do not have any support services like that of the Army and consequently they have to take care of their supplies as well. Army units focus only on the operational responsibility. They say that the officer cadre is relatively independent in the Army. Another major issue where the Army is not very happy with the ITBP is operational training. Every Army division does an annual “operational alert,” where the Army rehearses operational contingencies. The Army has made operation plans and the role and place of the ITBP are earmarked. The Army assumes the ITBP will be placed there at the time of operation. The Army feels that the ITBP doesn’t take this training seriously and sends just few men for such training. The Army is not confident about the ITBP’s capability. They believe that the ITBP’s personal training is fine, they are excellent mountaineers but operational training is about units not individuals. The Army wants the ITBP to understand that training together with the units one has to operate jointly with is critical. The Army also has problems with the minimum manning level of the ITBP. They believe that ITBP doesn’t maintain minimum manning levels set by Army at the forward posts. www.geopolitics.in

THE CHOICE IS BETWEEN AMBIGUITY IN LAC MANAGEMENT AND ENSURING TOTAL INTEGRITY OF BORDERS ITBP has a very pragmatic take on this. They informed Geopolitics that the Army is generally deployed at the rear and has the liberty to send large part of formation for training like ‘ops alert’ whereas ITBP units at the border are always fully deployed and cannot be moved out for training purposes. Whenever such training occasions arise the ITBP has to maintain a minimum manning level, which doesn’t leave many men to spare for training. Field formations are aware of this problem. The Army also feels that ITBP’s DIG-level officers are not interested in operational discussions. According to Army sources, any entity which is deployed with them should be under their ‘operational control’: “We are not bothered about BSF deployed on

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Indo-Bangladesh border.” On the other hand, an ITBP officer said: “We have better knowledge of terrain and operational area, we are the lead intelligence agency on the China border and we are deployed all the year round, then why shouldn’t the Army come under our operational control in areas where both forces are deployed together?” Finally, there is the issue of operational accountability. According to Army sources, “The ITBP doesn’t share ‘move out’ information with sufficient time. The Army doesn’t get time to react. It’s a deliberate strategy to not allow the Army to interfere in moving out.” ITBP sources rebutted this allegation saying they knew their responsibility. The moot point here is not control but accountability and responsibility of the border-guarding forces. The issue is the creation of a synergised and cohesive approach to border management and not partisan interests. The security forces should be able to look beyond turfs and emotions and concentrate on their national responsibility towards the borders. Their intent should be to strengthen mechanisms prior to conflict situations along the LAC. The choice is between ambiguity in LAC management and ensuring total integrity of the borders of our nation. November 2011


gONLOOKER HOLLANDE VS SARKOZY WITH FRANÇOIS Hollande as the Socialist Party’s nominee for President, the next French election will be suspenseful, as Nicolas Sarkozy tries to hang on to the presidency. Less than a year ago, François Hollande scored a lowly three per cent against a smattering of more popular rivals, including Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in a poll asking French people to name who they would like to see designated the French Socialist Party’s candidate in 2012. But Hollande, 57, won the primary contest hands down. The social-democrat now becomes the principal opponent to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s re-election bid next spring.

SAUDI ARABIA’S INVISIBLE HAND IN THE ARAB SPRING ACCORDING TO Foreign Policy, “Saudi Arabia has played a singular role throughout the Arab Spring. With a guiding hand — and often an iron fist — Riyadh has worked tirelessly to stagemanage affairs across the entire region. In fact, if there was a Abdullah bin Ab- moment of the Arab revolt that dulaziz Al-Saud sounded the death knell for a broad and rapid transition to representative government across the Middle East, it came on the last day of February, when Saudi tanks rolled across the border to help put down the mass uprising that threatened the powers that be in neighbouring Bahrain. The invasion served an immediate strategic goal: The aggression quelled momentum in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich eastern province among the newly restive Shia minority who had been taking cues from Bahrain. The column of tanks also served as a symbolic shot across the bow of Iran: The brazen move was a clear signal from Riyadh to every state in the Middle East that it would stop at nothing, ranging from soft diplomacy to full-on military engagement, in its determination to lead a region-wide counterrevolution.” And it made its point clear day-after-day:  The kingdom offered refuge to Tunisia’s deposed leader, Zine elAbidine Ben Ali. Eager that popular justice not become the norm for Arab dictators, Riyadh has steadfastly refused to extradite Ben Ali to stand trial. (He remains in Riyadh to this day.) Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali  When President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen was injured in the June bombing of his presidential palace, he fled to Saudi Arabia. Saudi medics had saved his life, and in a tribal region such personal debts are not quickly forgotten.

But that was hardly the only advantage King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud gained. Take a look at their intervention:  The dramatic emergence of Ennahda (“Awakening”), the main Islamist party is no surprise. Ennahda’s meteoric rise is widely believed to be, at least in part, bankrolled by Saudi Arabia.  The Muslim Brotherhood has vaulted to prominence in the post-Mubarak era. Their members took refuge in Saudi Arabia during the decades of persecution under former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Today, the party makes a good partner for Riyadh, as it never utters even a whisper of criticism of what more radical Islamist outfits denounce as the Saudi royal family’s treacherous ties with the West  In Yemen the protests have been taken over by activists from Islah (or the Islamist Congregation for Reform), the country’s main Islamist party. Islah was founded by leading members of the powerful, Saudi-backed Hashid tribal confederation, whose decision to turn against Saleh was a Ali Abdullah Saleh key moment in the uprising.  King Abdullah’s announcement that he was withdrawing Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Damascus was less a protest against the savage brutality of the Syrian regime (if it was at all) as it was another chapter in Riyadh’s ongoing effort to loosen Iran’s grasp on the region’s counterrevolution. The simultaneous decision by fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members — Kuwait and Bahrain — to likewise withdraw their ambassadors, followed by a communiqué from the Arab League expressing predictably muted misgivings about Damascus’ ongoing massacres, indicated the kingdom’s ability to line up allies and make them dance to the tune of the regional powerhouse.

François Hollande

Quip meter No one should miscalculate America’s resolve and commitment to helping support the Iraqi democracy. We have paid too high a price to give the Iraqis this chance. And I hope that Iran and no one else miscalculates that.

Think tanks aren’t the only ones with a dim view of the conflict. We invaded with a frighteningly simplistic view of Afghanistan, We didn’t know enough and we still don’t know enough.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on exiting Iraq

Stanley McChrystal, US Army Commander in Afghanistan

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We know where he is but surely no one will allow me to go to the place and point out his house. We have raised it with Pakistan. I have raised it with my counterparts. They are in flat denial. Home Minister P Chidambaram on Dawood Ibrahim and Pakistan

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O N L O O K E R

Appointed Phillip Hammond has been appointed as the new UK Defence Secretary. He replaces Liam Fox who resigned after a scandal on freebies threatened to get out of hand. Hammond said: “I have always been a huge admirer of the professionalism and the dedication of our armed forces, so it is a real honour and privilege to be asked by the Prime Minister to take on this role.

Iran’s nuclear quagmire IRAN’S NUCLEAR programme, which stumbled badly after a reported cyberattack last year, appears beset by poorly performing equipment, shortages of parts and other woes as global sanctions exert a mounting toll, nuclear experts say. At Iran’s largest nuclear complex, near the city of Natanz, fast-spinning machines called centrifuges churn out enriched uranium. But the average output is steadily declining as the equipment breaks down. Iran has vowed to replace the older machines with models that are faster and more efficient. Yet new centrifuges recently introduced at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Photo: paknavy.gov.pk

Photo:nationalconfidential.com

Freed Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was seized in 2006 by Hamas, was freed in a deal that involves the release of 1,027 Palestinians. More than 450 Palestinians were meanwhile transferred from Israeli prisons to the West Bank and Gaza, where massive celebratory rallies were held. The rest of the prisoners — about 550 more — are to be released in a second phase in two months.

Photo: Amplified2010 at flickr.com

Photo:http://abcnews.go.com

SPEEDREADING

Landmark It’s been 10 years since the start of the Afghanistan war. On October 7-8, 2001, US aircraft began bombing Taliban positions in Afghanistan. Little more than a month later, on November 13, the Northern Alliance, with the aid of the CIA and Special Forces advisers, entered Kabul. One of the longest wars in American history. It has already lasted longer than the direct fighting by US troops in Vietnam.

Natanz contain parts made from an inferior type of metal that is weaker and more prone to failure, according to a report by the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington non-profit group widely regarded for its analysis of nuclear programmes. “Without question, they have been set back,” said David Albright, president of the institute and a former inspector for the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency talking to journalists. Although the problems are not fatal for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, they have “hurt Iran’s ability to break out quickly” into the ranks of the world’s nuclear powers, Albright said. US intelligence officials have concluded that Iran’s clerical leaders are seeking to rapidly acquire the technical capability to make nuclear weapons, though there are indications that top officials have not yet firmly committed to building the bomb. Iran maintains that its nuclear intentions are peaceful. Experts say Iranian officials have been frustrated and angered by the programme’s numerous setbacks, including deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists. Four Iranian scientists have been killed by unidentified assailants since 2007, and a fifth narrowly escaped death in an attempted car-bombing.

I call on everyone for forgiveness, tolerance and reconciliation. We must get rid of hatred and envy from our souls. This is a necessary matter for the success of the revolution and the success of the future Libya.

If there is war between Pakistan and America, we will stand by Pakistan. Afghanistan will never betray their brother. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on relations with his neighbour

Interim council head, Mustafa Abdel Jalil on the ‘liberation’ of Libya

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Succeeds Admiral Asif Sandila sworn in as 19th Chief of the Naval Staff of the Pakistan Navy earlier in October. Sandila reiterated that under his command, he would continue to cooperate with friendly countries to maintain a lawful order at sea; “I sincerely feel the oceans of the world despite their vast expanse are a means to unite the nations and Pakistan Navy will maintain global outlook in this respect.”

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A FLAWED DEAL?

Justifying the government’s decision to withhold the joint venture between MDL and Pipavav Shipyard, MRINAL SUMAN argues why it is not in India’s interests to allow such practices in warship-building

www.geopolitics.in

stressed the need for transparency and promised to study the complaints received in that regard. Genesis of JV Prior to the promulgation of Defence Procurement Procedure-2011 (DPP-2011), orders for warships were placed only on the public sector shipyards, i.e. MDL, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Limited, Goa Shipyard Limited and Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. With the emergence of a number of large-sized shipyards in the private sector (ABG, Bharati, L&T and Pipavav), the government could not ignore their potential. DPP-2011 has split shipbuilding into two categories: ‘nomination’ and ‘competitive bidding’. Under the first category, orders will be placed on the nominated public sector shipyards for ships, submarines and other crafts. The second category allows private sector shipyards to participate in open competitive bidding to bag orders. It is natural that MoD would try to keep the public sector shipyards fully loaded. Therefore, almost all major shipbuilding proposals will invariably be earmarked for the nomination category. Once public sector shipyards throw their hands up, the competitive section would get activated. In other words, the private shipyards can only hope for orders that are refused by the public sector shipyards. The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard are on a hectic modernisation drive to fill critical warship voids and are likely to spend close to $40 billion in the next 15 years. Whereas MDL is already loaded

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Photo:tribon.cn

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T DID not come as a surprise to knowledgeable observers when the much-hyped joint venture (JV) between Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) and Pipavav Shipyard was put on hold by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on September 26, 2011. The JV had earlier been announced on September 12, when Pipavav intimated the tie-up to the Bombay Stock Exchange. It was to be a 50:50 JV, to be called ‘Mazagon Dock Pipavav Ltd’, the first of its kind in the defence sector for the construction of warships and submarines. Unfortunately, it went askew within days of its announcement. Other private shipyards such as Larsen and Toubro (L&T), ABG and Bharati had cried foul, termed the decision “arbitrary” and questioned the procedure followed by MDL for the selection of the JV partner. The selection process was faulted for “a total lack of transparency”. Further, L&T and ABG alleged that neither any timeline was indicated for submission of the detailed JV proposal, nor were any evaluation norms specified. Doubts were raised about the selection criteria under which Pipavav, with no experience, had been preferred to ABG, with a track record of having delivered 142 ships. Addressing the Consultative Committee attached to MoD, Defence Minister A K Antony announced that the JV was not being progressed till a policy on JVs was put in place by the government. Highlighting the fact that India was treading on a new path, he wanted the issue to be fully examined and settled before making any forward movement. Further, he

with orders exceeding `100,000 crore, all other public sector shipyards also have their capacities totally booked for the next 10-15 years. There is a huge backlog of pending orders and these shipyards are unable to cope with their inflow. They have found JVs to be an ingenious and convenient stratagem. They can obtain orders on nomination basis and thereafter outsource the excess work to JVs. Such an arrangement will ensure that no shipbuilding proposal ever goes to the competitive category, thereby preventing the emergence of the private sector shipyards as serious competitors and perpetuating the monopoly of the public sector shipyards. On the other hand, private sector shipyards have invested enormous resources in building up their capacities. However, they are struggling for orders from the civil sector. Global recession could not have come at a worse time for them. Orders have simply dried up. Furthermore, there has been considerable November 2011


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DRY SPELL AHEAD? The MoD decision is a major stumbling block for Pipavav’s expansion plans

cancellation of existing orders as well. The defence sector offers them a ray of hope. Fully aware of the clout enjoyed by the public sector shipyards, private shipyards considered it judicious to take the shortcut of riding piggyback by joining hands with them. They are offering their capacities to the public sector shipyards to enable them to execute their overflowing orders. Thus, JVs suit both the public and the private sector shipyards. Therefore, there is a mad rush to seal them. Pipavav’s statement that ‘the JV would work specifically to expedite the execution of the large order book with MDL’ revealed the underlying intent. MoD sensed the gameplan of MDL to procure orders on nomination basis and offloading excess work on the JV. This apprehension was also echoed by the Defence Minister when he ruled that all public-private JVs must compete for contracts and should not get them on nomination basis. www.geopolitics.in

Undesirability of JVs in Warship Building The MoD has not doubted the competence of Pipavav. The JV has been stalled because of the questionable selection process and undue haste that was shown to declare the successful partner without giving adequate opportunity to the other aspirants. Incidentally, Pipavav claims that it operates the largest shipyard in India with modular construction facilities, has the capacity to carry out work on a dozen submarines/warships at a given time and can produce five warships every year. It has established partnership with six of the ten global leaders for warships and submarines. A public-private sector JV should ideally be carried out in areas in which each side finds itself lacking capability and skills to undertake complete work. Joint ventures facilitate the synergy of their respective domain competencies to master all facets of production complexities to be

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able to deliver fully finished products. Ideally, JVs should aim to harmonise public sector’s infrastructure with private sector’s business acumen. A well-blended fusion of the former’s manufacturing facilities and the latter’s managerial expertise can complement their respective strengths and prove mutually beneficial. Unfortunately, the above conditions do not exist in India’s warship-building industry. All the four public shipyards are totally self-contained and capable of delivering fully furnished modern battle ships. They need no help from the private sector shipyards. For example, MDL is a giant with decades of experience of building ultra-modern naval crafts. It needs no support from a new start-up like Pipavav that has not delivered a ship to date. The same applies to the other three public sector shipyards. The need for additional manufacturing space for unloading excess work cannot be a justification for JVs. November 2011


g FOCUS  JVs will make a mockery of the recent policy to encourage open competition by splitting shipbuilding procedures. Competition with private sector shipyards would have forced the public sector shipyards to become more competitive through upgradation of technology and modernisation of manufacturing practices. Confident of their monopoly, they can continue to persist with their slack work culture. Most importantly, JVs may make genuine competition unsustainable. For example, how can MDL, Pipavav and their JV compete against one another to bid for the same order? Needless to say, mutual accommodation will prevail.

LOST CHANCE: Mazagon Docks Limited is one India’s largest defence shipbuilders in terms of sheer numbers

It is strongly recommended that no JVs between public and private sector shipyards be allowed. As stated earlier, public shipyards would offload their current orders on their JVs and show spare capacity to demand additional orders through the process of nomination. Such a practice will have the following negative fallout:  As most shipbuilding orders will follow the nomination route, there will hardly be any open competitive bidding between public and private sector shipyards. In the absence of comparison, public sector shipyards would never be questioned for huge cost and time estimates. They will continue to dictate terms.  Burgeoning private sector shipyards will be reduced to the status of being adjuncts to the public sector shipyards, carrying out manufacturing activities under their supervision and as per the drawings supplied by them. Thus, their growth as independent builders will get stunted. Worse, JVs will make them captive to the public sector shipyards for www.geopolitics.in

regular inflow of work. It will be an unhealthy dependence as it will adversely affect their keenness to compete against the partnering public sector shipyard for direct orders in open competition.  All private sector shipyards have signed technology-sharing agreements with leading shipmakers of the world. Indian warship-building capability will get a major boost with the infusion of multiple technologies. JVs will make private sector shipyards undertaking work as per the dictates of the public shipyards, thereby making all technology-sharing agreements infructuous. No new technology will be introduced.  There is a serious danger of the private sector shipyards getting infected with the laidback culture of the public sector, where targets and cost-ceilings mean little. Worse, they will get used to surviving on the work outsourced to them by the public sector shipyards. With assured inflow of such work, a sense of complacency is bound to permeate.

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The Way Forward As per the statement of the Defence Minister, the government wants to examine the issue of JVs fully to put a policy in place before making any forward movement. It is a welcome step and provides MoD an opportunity to examine the whole issue in its entirety. India needs a vibrant and prosperous warship-building industry. Formation of JVs should be viewed critically with respect to their long-term impact. As seen earlier, it is not in India’s interests to allow JVs in warship building. MoD should ask both the public and private sector shipyards to function as independent shipbuilding entities and compete for orders. Moreover, every shipyard should strive to become a centre of excellence by acquiring domain expertise in building ships of specific types. Such a development would not only prevent duplication of facilities but also encourage them to excel in their chosen field. Ideally, there should be two shipyards — one each in public and private sectors — specialising in the construction of each type of naval craft. For example, in addition to MDL, the most suitable private sector shipyard should be selected for building submarines. Similarly, two shipyards should be earmarked for frigates. As present-day shipyards have modular construction facilities, they possess inbuilt flexibility to switch from one to another type of ship construction to cater to changing operational requirements with minimal increments. All shipyards should be encouraged to have tieups with world leaders for technological support and construction techniques. Criticality of infusion of latest technologies cannot be over emphasised. (The author is a retired Major General) November 2011


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WHY CAN’T THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE WALK THE TALK? PRANAV KUMAR on why private sector should play a major role in defence production

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HOUGH 64 years have passed since India’s Independence, and the biggest democracy with a 1.2-billion-strong population has some of the greatest brains, reformists and intellectuals, the country is still not self-reliant when it comes to the manufacturing and servicing of military hardware. Almost 70 per cent of India’s military hardware are imported today, largely from countries such as Russia, France, the USA, the UK, Germany, Italy and Israel. Defence Minister AK Antony intends to reverse this trend in the next few years. He also seems to be serious about involving the private sector in defence production. But whether the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is on track to implement the vision of its minister remains a big question. On paper, India has opened up its defence industry to the private sector with 100 per cent investment now allowed. It has also opened up 26 per cent for Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). However, no major business houses have made any significant capital investment in this sector due to the huge entry barriers and lack of long-term business prospects on a guaranteed basis against the large capex (capital expenditure) requirement. Going by the recent Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) reports, force-level preparedness of the Indian Navy is not up to the mark. Frigates and aircraft carriers are still being built in Russia and oil tankers are being built in Italy. Orders for corvettes, submarines, frigates, destroyers, amongst others, amounting to approximately `1,25,000 crore, have been placed with Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) such as Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL), Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL), and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Limited (GRSE). More contracts worth nearly `1,25,000 crore for submarines, frigates, landing patrol docks (LPDs) etc are lined up for defence PSUs. Ironically, the cumulative annual revenue of shipyards has never crossed `5,000 crore. In fact, the CAG strongly remarked www.geopolitics.in

against the six-to-eight-year delay per ship by Mazagon Docks and cost overruns in access of 240 per cent, which, by

any stretch of imagination, is extremely serious. No country in the world can afford not to find an appropriate solution

ANOTHER FOREIGN IMPORT: INS Tarkash being launched at Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad, Russia, on June 23, 2010.

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Photo:india-defence.com

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CLASH OF THE TITANS: L&T’s AM Naik (left) and Pipavav’s Nikhil Gandhi (right)

and allow the country’s national security to be put at risk. Also, by not finding an equitable local solution, the Defence Ministry is indirectly supporting the avoidable imports. The private sector has been looking to play a role in defence production in an orderly manner, but the Department of Defence Production has been looking at supporting only defence PSUs. In fact, they for long behaved as the saviors of the defence PSUs and not as an agency meant to provide military hardware to our defence forces, both from private and public sources in the interest of the country. In the naval segment, the only company in the country which has exhibited the guts and conviction to invest a mammoth $1 billion without any commitment from the Navy or the MoD is Pipavav Defence. As per our sources, the MoD finally deputed its team to visit the shipyard in July 2010 after it was dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in June 2010. Pipavav genuinely and legitimately wanted to secure contracts for the naval ships either directly or through joint ventures with the DPSUs. Finally, Mazagon Docks and the Department of Defence Production made a earnest beginning by floating the expression of interests (EOIs) among the Indian shipyards and looked for appropriate synergy to liquidate their orders to protect our maritime frontiers. This was followed www.geopolitics.in

by EOIs by Hindustan Shipyards Ltd and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Limited. MDL granted a time of almost three months to all the companies to submit their proposals and during this time, all the participants were given as much opportunity as they wanted to clarify their doubts and seek other information to ensure healthy competition. After the submission of the proposal by each of the participants by the end of May 2011, the Board of Directors of MDL appointed a committee of 3 directors, consisting of 2 independent directors and one functional director along with senior officials, to visit the facilities belonging to all participants. The committee was also tasked with carrying out the assessment of each proposal from all the private players and to put up with their recommendation to the board of MDL. The committee of three directors (including two independent directors) and other senior officials visited all the facilities during June and July 2011 and during that period several rounds of discussions took place among the private companies and MDL authorities. In the month of August, all the concerned private parties (Larsen and Toubro (L&T), ABG, Bharti and Pipavav) were called to make their presentations to the Board so that each of them could explain their business plan and proposal in detail

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and have a thorough discussion with the MDL management committee and functional directors/independent directors. MDL sought further clarifications from L&T, ABG Shipyard and Bharati Shipyard after the opening of proposals from all the parties. MDL’s full board, including the government nominees and independent directors, considered all the proposals and found the Pipavav Shipyard proposal to be superior from every aspect and selected them as their JV partner. The Board Committee also suggested that L&T (which had proposed a shipyard on the east coast) and Hindustan Shipyard (also on the east coast) could tie up with each other as Hindustan Shipyard Ltd and also Garden Reach Shipbuilders, Kolkata had issued similar "Expressions of Interest" to select capable private sector partners. Therefore, it can be seen that all the private shipyards were offered equitable opportunities by the defence shipyards in accordance with their needs. All the private players were encouraged to play a role by all the three DPSU’s. Hence it may be seen that L&T’s complaint against MDL and the Ministry of Defence (On the basis of which the JV between the MDL and Piipavav has been put on hold) is based on unfounded reasoning. It seems that L&T wants a specific DPSU as their partner without that DPSU believing that there is a synergy between them. What is unfathomable is that L&T complained, despite the fact that the entire process for selecting the partner lasted almost seven months, and there was ample opportunity for all the prospective bidders to seek any clarification they wanted from MDL. Why did L&T choose not to do so? After all, L&T has been in the business of supplying equipment to the Navy for almost 40 years. Why is it that L&T does not have a world-class dry dock, production facilities and other infrastructures ahead of other bidders? L&T, it is believed, is in the process of developing shipyard infrastructure on the east coast. Would it not be most suitable to partner with the shipyard on the same coast, i.e. HSL, for which L&T is believed to be using for making components for the strategic assets? Why cannot L&T build submarines and surface ships together with the Hindustan Shipyard using its infrastructure? Would L&T have complained in case it was selected by MDL as the JV Partner? November 2011


geopolitics

DEF BIZ GUARDING THE SKY

As prior detection of the enemy is vital towards its subsequent neutralisation, the AWACS constitutes the lynchpin of the IAF's armoury


DEF BIZ

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Fincantieri in the Indian market

FINCANTIERI IS bullish on the Indian market and is hopeful of further strengthening its ties with India for delivery of vessels to the Navy, according to the Chairman, Corrado Antonini. The Italian shipyard has built the INS Shakti, a 27,550-tonne fleet tanker that was commissioned at the naval dockyard by the Navy Chief Nirmal Verma recently. Antonini said Fincantieri had earlier delivered another ship, Deepak, in January, and also an oceanographic vessel, Sagar Nidhi, for the National

Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai. “We are also involved in the design of the propulsion system of the indigenous aircraft carrier currently being built by India at Cochin shipyard,� he said. Fincantieri, with a turnover of $3 billion, was ranked number five in the global industry and it was the number one in building cruise ships. In accordance with the regulations of the International Maritime Organisation both INS Deepak and INS Shakti have double hulls, making them safer.

Saab opens Tech Centre with Mahindra SAAB INDIA Te c h n o l o g i e s Pvt Ltd has inaugurated Saab India Te c h n o l o g y Centre, a Research and Development Centre, in partnership with Ma h i n d ra Satyam in Hyderabad. The Saab India Technology Centre (SITC), will form a bridge between India and Sweden. The aim of the centre is to support the internal operational excellence and optimisation initiatives within Saab, while also supporting Saab to expand in the Indian market. A base of 100 skilled Indian engineers to be inducted by the close of 2012 will form the backbone of the centre. The SITC is expected to increase its headcount to at least 300 over the next three years. The new hub will undertake research and development in aerospace, defence and urban innovation including civil security. The primary areas of development will include software engineering, electronic engineering and mechanical engineering. The SITC envisages future development in the areas of signal processing and systems engineering.

Photo:airliners.net.

Navy Hunts for Sea-King and Kamov successors

www.geopolitics.in

THE INDIAN NAVY is looking to upgrade its present fleet of Sea King and Kamov helicopters and purchase new helicopters to replace them in the coming years. Sea-King is an anti-submarine warfare helicopter while Kamov is used for airborne early warning. The Indian Navy has appointed a senior officer to oversee and fast-track all submarine acquisition plans, even as it grapples with a depleting underwater force and rising levels of submarines in the inventories of nations inimical to Indian interests. Rear Admiral MT Moraes has been appointed as the new assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Submarines), a position in naval headquarters that is being revived after a long time. With a rapidly depleting fleet, the Navy has to move fast to get the `50,000-crore Project-75 India (P-75I) rolling at the earliest. The `50,000 crore P-75I programme envisages acquisition of six new stealth submarines, equipped with both tube-launched missiles for land-attack capabilities and AIP (air-independent propulsion) for enhanced underwater endurance.

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Photo:MBDA

Europe offers missiles to India

European consortium MBDA has offered its 300 km-range Taurus stand-off missile system to the Indian Air Force (IAF). “We have received a Request for Information (RFI) from the IAF for a stand-off long-range missile from the IAF and we have offered the Taurus missiles as we feel that it meets all the desired requirements,” Anders Axebark, the business development manager for the missile systems told a group of Indian journalists recently. The Taurus air-to-ground missiles are manufactured by the Germany-based Taurus Systems GmbH, which is a joint venture between MBDA and Swedish defence major Saab. MBDA is a missile-manufac-

turing firm based in Italy, Britain, France and Germany. India is going to upgrade the first batch of its Sukhois in collaboration with Russia and is looking to enhance the capabilities of the aircraft by equipping it with new radars, longrange weapons and avionics. The Taurus GmbH is also offering the ground-launched version to the Indian Army. The company claimed that the missile system could be used to take out hard targets such as bunkers and concrete shelters from a stand-off range of 300 km and it could track its target without using the GPS navigation system. The MBDA has also offered its MICA and Meteor missiles to the IAF.

BEML bags order for 600 ARVs

Weiss Technik launches India unit

Rane forays into Defence

INDIA WILL procure around 600 armoured recovery and repair vehicles ARVs for T-72 battle tanks from Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), a Public Sector Company under the Ministry of Defence. The proposal in this regard has been cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security. The armoured recovery vehicles, will be made by BEML and the contract will be worth more than `1,000 crore. This is a repeat order and the vehicles will be built under a transfer of technology from the Polish defence firm.

WEISS TECHNIK India Private Limited, a subsidiary of German-based Schunk Group, is aiming to focus more on the country’s automotive, defence and aerospace sectors. It has formally launched its Indian subsidiary, Technik India Private Limited, to spearhead operations from Hyderabad. The company is going to focus on Indian automation, aerospace and defence industry. Its customer base is spread over manufacturing, electronic, pharmaceutical, aviation and aerospace industries. So far, Weiss has more than 700 installations across India including DRDO and ISRO.

RANE GROUP, a leading component maker for automobiles, has bought 26 per cent equity stake in SasMos HET Technologies for an undisclosed sum. SasMos is involved in the production of interconnection systems (cable harnesses), wiring harness, panel-boxes and electromechanical assemblies for various applications in the defence and aerospace industries. The Rane Group has been exploring opportunities beyond its core competence in automotive industry and looking for opportunities in defence and aerospace industry since the government opened the defence business to the private sector.

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Polaris gets orders from Indian Army BARELY A month after its formal foray into India, the US-based off-road vehicle manufacturer Polaris Industries announced it had bagged orders from the Indian Army for its snowmobiles. Polaris India Managing Director Pankaj Dubey told reporters: “We have got orders from the Indian Army to supply our snowmobiles. By the end of this year we

will have 10 dealers. By next year-end we plan to have 25 dealers.” The Minnesota-based group, the first offroad vehicle maker to enter the Indian market, aims to clock revenues of up to $ 400 million by 2016. The company currently brings the vehicles as completely built units (CBU) from USA but Dubey said it might set up an assembling facility.

Airbus, Pipavav for joint MRO Facility

Photo:polarisedge.com

AIRBUS WILL set up a joint aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in India with private Indian defense company Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering. The MRO facilities and associated infrastructure are likely to cost $100 million. The joint facility initially will target the servicing of civilian aircraft, though the Indian Air Force is also eyeing the venture. EADS, with its Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, is bidding against Dassault's Rafale in India's $10 billion medium multirole aircraft competition. Sources say the location will be decided after the winner of the multirole fighter aircraft competition is announced.

Bids in for LUH engine Ardiden 1H1/Shakti — which powers HAL’s Dhruv and Light Combat Helicopter — and T800, manufactured by LHTEC, a joint venture of Rolls-Royce and Honeywell. Turbomeca’s Shakti engine, which was to have powered the LUH, was dropped as a default

choice following a reported fall-out between the company and HAL over licence fees. The LUH is being developed to meet a requirement of 187 helicopters-126 for the Indian Army and 61 for the Indian Air Force.

Photo:shiv aroor

HINDUSTAN AERONAUTICS Ltd (HAL) has opened technical bids from two-engine houses, the starting point of a process to select a turboshaft engine for its in-development Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). The two contenders are Turbomeca offering the

www.geopolitics.in

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SPECIALREPORT

TOWARDS AIR SUPREMACY In the process of having Asia’s most sophisticated integrated air defence network, the Indian Air Force is acquiring more and more “Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance” assets, writes SAURAV JHA

T

HE INDIAN Air force (IAF) has identified four core areas of functionality that it outlines as ‘see, reach, hit, and protect’. ‘See’, naturally has to come before all else and this is precisely the area where the IAF continues to make steady investments. Simply put, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance or ISR is the lynchpin of the IAF’s transformation, because even as the service gets much better in putting ordnance on target, it still has to act as a precursor, identify targets precisely in an increasingly complex environment. Literally, the most capable ISR asset in the IAF’s inventory today is the Phased Array L-Band Conformal Array (PHALCON) Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) mounted on an IL-76-based platform. The IAF has inducted all three PHALCON AWACS that it contracted from Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) in 2004 for a sum of $1.1 billion and has based them at Agra. www.geopolitics.in

The PHALCON actually consists of four unique sensors: a phased-array radar, a phased-array Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and Communication Support Measures (CSM). It also exhibits a rather high level of sensor fusion allowing the four distinct sensor suites to communicate with each other leading to greater situational awareness. Nevertheless, the primary sensor in the PHALCON is the IAI’s Elta division’s EL/M-2075 active electronically scanned array (AESA) L-band radar, which in IAF service, is housed inside a stationary dome mounted on an IL-76 providing full 360 degree coverage. The EL/M-2075 radar can detect low-radar cross section (RCS) targets amidst background clutter from hundreds of kilometres away, 24x7 and under all-weather conditions. Its AESA technology allows it to achieve superior target discrimination in comparison to mechanically steered arrays and also makes it less susceptible to interception and jamming. For instance, track initiation by the

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EL/M-2075 is achieved in two to four seconds as opposed to the 20 to 40 seconds that are standard with legacy AWACS types sporting rotodomes housing mechanically steered arrays. EL/M-2075 radar modes include high Pulse Repetition Frequency (PRF) search and full track, track-while-scan, a slowscan detection mode for hovering and low-speed helicopters (using rotor blade returns) and a low PRF ship-detection mode. It is claimed that up to 100 targets can be tracked simultaneously to a range of 370 km, while at the same time guiding over a dozen air-to-air interceptors or ground-attack aircraft on to their targets. Coupled with a state-of-the-art IFF, the PHALCON does seem to live up to its role as an airborne command and control centre. The IFF system employs solidstate-phased array technology to perform interrogation, decoding, target detection and tracking, while utilising a monopulse technique to implement azimuth measurement. Indian PHALCONs probably use Bharat Electronics Limited’s (BEL’s) November 2011


g SPECIALREPORT

EYE IN THE SKY: IAF has inducted three

PHALCON AWACS that it contracted from Israeli Aerospace Industries and based them at Agra Link-2 as the primary data-link for network-centric operations. In the near future, the PHALCON will be complemented by a smaller but potent indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) solution. The Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), which is DRDO’s spearhead laboratory for aerial ISR technology, is currently looking to proceed with mission systems integration on the first of three Embraer ERJ-145s, which serves as the platform for India’s indigenous AEW&C console. Each modified ERJ-145s will house a primary radar, a secondary surveillance radar (SSR), ESM, CSM, mission communication system (MCS) consisting of SATCOM and datalinks (such as the Link-2) and a comprehensive self-protection suite (SPS). It is noteworthy that the modified ERJ-145 used in this programme is in-flight refueling capable. The lynchpin of the indigenous AEW&C solution is an AESA consisting of two radiating planar arrays assembled back-to-back and mounted on top of the ERJ-145’s fuselage in a box like structure called the Active-Array Antenna Unit (AAAU). This arrangement allows 120 degree coverage on either side of the AAAU and allows the AESA to achieve its www.geopolitics.in

full potential of delivering multiple trackwhile-scan. This indigenously developed AESA is expected to deliver features such as high performance tracking and priority tracking with reference to fighter-sized targets. If things go according to plan, CABS may start flying the first fully integrated ERJ-145 next year. After the initial three-unit order, up to 20 more examples of the type may be acquired by the IAF in the next decade and a half. Cooperation with Israel has also seen the IAF move into the aerostat age. The service currently operates two Israeli-origin aerostats, each carrying Elta’s EL/M2083 radar which is reported to be a derivative of the ‘Green Pine’ missile defence radar, used in the Arrow AntiBallistic Missile (ABM) system. The EL/M-2083 given its reported antecedents is probably an L-band phased-array radar capable of search, acquisition as well as fire-control. It can acquire and track targets at both “high” and “low” altitudes, identify targets such as cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) against background clutter. It also performs its scans electronically in both azimuth, and elevation, and does so out to a potential 500 km. In any case, the IAF seems to put a lot of weight

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on its aerostat holdings and is looking to acquire a dozen more aerostats in the short term, with more inductions when indigenous types like the Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment’s (ADRDE’s) in-development ‘Nakshatra’ aerostat becomes available. Even as it brings in more high fliers, the IAF is also focusing on new ground-based radars for developing a truly comprehensive Air Situation Picture (ASP). The IAF’s finest new ‘ground level’ acquisition is the Arudhra Medium Power Radar (MPR) developed by the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) with Israeli cooperation. The Arudhra’s induction into Naliya Air Base, Gujarat, in June this year marks the first time a groundbased active array for air surveillance and has been inducted by the IAF. Arudhra boasts of advanced digital processing technologies such as digital beam forming and programmable signal processing to fully exploit the capabilities of its S-band solid state active aperture that can detect and track fighter-sized targets from more than 300 km away. The radar combines a rotating phased-array antenna with electronic steering modes for 360 degree coverage in azimuth and +40 to -40 degree coverage in elevation between November 2011


g SPECIALREPORT

SUPERSENSITIVE BLIMP: IAF seems to put a lot of weight on its aerostat holdings and is looking to acquire a dozen more

altitudes of 100 m and 30 km. The radar is also capable of both stand alone and network-centric modes, although in the latter department Arudhra apparently offers extremely potent capabilities. Aware of the enormous difficulties in keeping round-the-clock radar coverage in mountainous areas, the IAF is well into the process of bringing in 18 Low-level Light-Weight Transportable Radars (LLWTRs) of indigenous origin. LRDE’s 3D-Aslesha LLWTR has found favour with the IAF. The Aslesha, as per LRDE is “a multifaceted ground-based S-Band 3D Low-level Light Weight Surveillance Radar for deployment in diverse terrains such as plains, deserts, mountain tops and high-altitude regions and can also scan valleys”. The last point is crucial since the IAF is particularly concerned about Chinese airborne forces infiltrating along the Brahmaputra valley taking advantage of a number of blind spots that are afforded by the terrain. Radars like Aslesha can certainly reduce the number of uncovered areas considerably, given its portability and 3D capability, providing accurate range, azimuth and height information for each target with electronically steerable multi-beam technology in elevation. The radar sweeps 360 degree in azimuth and 30 degree in elevation to provide air space awareness and is easily re-locatable. It can be transported by a number of means since it can be configured and re-configured from multiple packages. LRDE says that it can be deployed or decamped in less than 15 minutes. The quadripod-mounted radar can operate in networked or stand-alone modes and features multiple Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (ECCMs). www.geopolitics.in

Given its potency against even relatively low RCS targets such as UAVs, the Aslesha represents a quick way to provide coverage, as well as extend the reach of the overall air defence ‘network’.

AESA TECHNOLOGY IS LESS SUSCEPTIBLE TO INTERCEPTION AND JAMMING The IAF has also ordered 30 all-weather capable LRDE Rohini 3D medium surveillance radars. Although a mechanically steered pulse-doppler radar operating in the S-band, the Rohini does feature some very contemporary technology on the processing side, which is entirely digital and software defined. The radar has a digital receiver and programmable signal processor driven by advanced algorithms that apparently make it very userfriendly and allow for instant assessments of the air situation picture. The programmable back-end allows the Rohini to work in conjunction with various air-defence systems such as the Akash and be networked with other sensor systems. As such, the Rohini is capable of scanning 360 degree in azimuth and 30 degrees in elevation up to an altitude of 18 km and can detect targets up to 150 km away. Designed for mobility

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and survivability, it is mounted on two high-mobility TATRA vehicles with the power unit being in a third TATRA that hosts 2X125 kva generators. LRDE claims that the entire setup can be deployed or decamped in 30 minutes. As we can see from above, all of the IAF’s new air-surveillance inductions are network-capable and this is in keeping with the IAF’s desire to emerge as a network-centric force. The biggest step in this direction was of course taken with the launch of AF-NET in 2010, which has replaced the IAF’s old communication network setup using tropo-scatter technology from the 1950s. All major formations and static establishments have been linked through a secure wide area network (WAN) and are accessible through data communication lines. The nationwide programme was launched by the IAF in collaboration with private industry to accelerate the use of information technology, as well as to link all field units using a dedicated satellite, which unfortunately has been deferred by a year. AF-NET is, after all, the primary facilitator of the IAF’s Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) — an automated command and control system for air-defence (AD) operations that will ride the AFNET backbone integrating all ground-based and airborne sensors, AD weapon systems and C2 nodes. The IAF is building up to ten such IACCS nodes in the country and the new network-enabled radar acquisitions are naturally dovetailed with this concept. When all ten nodes are fully operational, India may have what could become Asia’s most sophisticated integrated airdefence network. November 2011


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g GEOPOLITICS

INTERVIEW

Indian pilots have been used to simulators for quite a while now, but how about a virtual reality aid that helps the grunts on the ground? That is exactly what Delhi-based firm Smart Warrior BCL Secure Premises has introduced. CEO MANOJ CHANNAN spoke to ROHIT SRIVASTAVA about the innovative technologies being introduced by the company.

VIRTUAL REALITY AID FOR

REAL WARRIORS

Tell us a little bit about your company. MC: After the Parliament attack on December 30, 2001, a delegation went on tour across the world to look for the best security practices. It was then that the concept of this company came to S K Gupta, ex-Joint Director, Intelligence Bureau, in November 2005. We initially provided security and other electronic surveillance. Slowly, the purpose shifted to bringing in new technology. The aim was to provide all products and services under one roof. Our focus is to have a comprehensive security solution. www.geopolitics.in

Along with the other security and intelligence services, one of our verticals, for which I am the CEO, is Virtual Simulation Training. We are marketing this technology in India as Smart Warrior. Could you be more specific about the technology? MC: The training system was created by Motion Reality Inc based out of Mariette, Atlanta, USA and it is being branded and sold by global defence major Raytheon. We are the resellers for Raytheon in the South Asian region

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(excluding Pakistan and Afghanistan). This is a strategic alliance to introduce and sell this technology in India. At the moment, this technology is primarily being used by the US Army and some countries in the Middle East (West Asia). Most of the American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq have undergone training on this system. This training had been under development in the US for many years. Now that it has been perfected, one of the main benefits of this technology is that it reduces the training time dramatically. November 2011


g INTERVIEW Some of our Army officers who went to the US for training saw this system there in 2004. The current system is a much more advanced version of that system. Why should someone get trained on this? MC: Today, most of the simulators are for the Navy or the Air Force. The Army does not get many simulators. This technology is different from other simulators used for the Army, as the trainee gets totally immersed in the simulator. In this system, your fellow trainee could be your opponent, and even artificial avatars can be created against the trainee for real combat experience. This system allows different levels of training, i.e. trainee vs trainee, trainee vs trainer, trainee vs avatars. It is a fully networked system. It has the facility to network with different simulators where two different batches can train together even if they are in different cities. In this system the combat exercise is uncontrolled in a simulated environment. How someone will react one can know, it is as actual and real as the real deal. In this technology, the soldier feels the pain when he gets shot in virtual reality through ‘muscle stimulation’. An immediate muscle spasm is created by shock and the pain and reaction of the soldier real. The muscle stimulation is not done for the new recruit as this can create fear in his mind. We need to be careful about the psychological impact during training. It has to be done for well-trained soldiers.

www.geopolitics.in

Have you made any presentation to the forces? MC: We have made presentations to the defence services and their training establishments as well as to the various central police organisations. We have also explained to them the philosophy and rationale behind the technology. We are planning to give them first-hand training soon. For this purpose, we are coming up with a facility at Bawal, 20 km from Nimrana on National Highway 8. This state-of-the-art facility will come up soon and HT 5000 will be installed there. This will become a training hub. We have been told by the Americans that an entire company can be trained in five days with an eight-hour training schedule. We expect this to be ready by the first quarter of next year.

What has been the reaction from state police? MC: The reaction of the state police has been good. They want a part from counter-insurgency/counter-terror training, law and order, crime scene investigation, anti-rioting and other police function modules. Our endeavour is to get the best training modules from across the globe and load them here. During conventional training, an average combatant fires around 8-10 rounds a year, without always gaining expertise. The major advantage in a simulated environment is that even if a trainee fires 8-10 rounds, his skill levels will be enhanced. It can even allow trainees to ‘zero’ their weapon before firing. One can immediately reconfigure scenarios in our systems.

Photo:H.C. Tiwari

What exactly is this system? MC: At present, the Virtual Simulation 5000HT can accommodate one trainer and 12 trainees at the same time. For more troops, parallel systems are required. The system software is open and flexible so it can be integrated with other simulators as well. The system needs an area of 100x50x15 ft, but it can simulate a 100 kilometre walk. It requires air-conditioning and a dust-free environment. It is a costly system, but to help the combatant train in this environment, we have worked out a business model. Equipment can be leased, and we also plan to install the system at various locations. Different agencies can use it for training and payment

would only be for each training batch. The system is divided into a scaling room — where the individual is scaled for simulation — equipment room, training room, and an after-action review room. The review room is used for “Hot Wash-Off”, ie, reviewing every individual’s performance. This can be used for all sorts of training. Every agency will have to create a library of scenarios, which will be played in the simulator for training purposes. There is no time limitation in this system. One can build cognitive, physical, and psychological stress over the soldiers of what they will face during real war or operations.

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November 2011


TECH SCAN

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BrahMos to go hypersonic IAF begins screening astronauts AFTER FIELDING the supersonic version of the antiship missile, plans are on to develop a hypersonic variant of the BrahMos. This particular variant, being jointly developed by India and Russia, will be capable of operating at Mach 7, or seven times the speed of sound. According to A Sivathanu Pillai, CEO and MD of BrahMos Aerospace, a new engine will be developed for the new variant of the missile and a number of Indian and Russian firms are involved in the development of the components and the subsystems: 20 major industries and 20-plus small and medium enterprises across India are involved in producing various components and accessories for BrahMos missile project. Brahmos Aerospace has augmented production at all three of its manufacturing centres in Hyderabad, Pilani and Thiruvanathanpuram to cater to the substantial orders received from the armed forces. The Indian Institute of Science and Moscow Aviation Institute would be involved in the research and development of critical components for the hypersonic version of the BrahMos. Trial flights of the new variant along with missile testing are supposed to begin by January 2012. Meanwhile, the integration of BrahMos into Sukoi-30MK-I is in progress with aircraft’s structural modification going on at HAL. The air-launched version is also slated for 2012 commissioning.

THE INDIAN Air Force’s (IAF) Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) has kicked off the ground work for the screening of potential astronauts for India’s space programme. The institute has developed state-of-the-art laboratories for the initial selection process. The Bengaluru-based institute was an integral part of the Indo-Soviet manned space flight in the 1980s and played a role in the medical-monitoring squad of India’s only cosmonaut, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma. The Department of Space and Environment Physiology at the institute has developed three laboratories, including the thermal chamber, micro-gravity simulation, and lower-body negative pressure.

Arjun Mark II to go for second trial AN UPDATED version of the DRDOdeveloped Main Battle Tank Arjun, which has incorporated 59 improvements, will go for a crucial trial in the next three months. The Mark-II version, being developed at Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), is scheduled to be tested in December this year or January next year. The testing would also include firing of the Israeli-made laser-homing anti-tank guided LAHAT missile. LAHAT was designed for the Merkava tanks’ 105mm and 120mm guns but it can be used by all 105mm and 120mm guns.

India to build world’s largest Cryostat INDIAN SCIENTISTS will create the world’s largest high-vacuum cold storage vessel for an international project to generate energy from nuclear fusion, a process that also powers the sun. The vessel, called a cryostat, will be home to the global thermonuclear experimental reactor, the largest and the most sophisticated facility of its kind being built in Cadarache, France. Scientists and engineers at the Institute of Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar, will manufacture the www.geopolitics.in

massive cryostat in segments and ship it to France for final assembly at the site. The cryostat is expected to cost around €100 million and the procurement arrangement for it was signed recently by ITER-India. India is part of a seven-nation group that is creating the fusion reactor intended to generate 500 MW of output electricity with a power input of 50 MW. International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) India Project, a part of the IPR — an autonomous unit of the Department of Atomic Energy — will make the ‘in-kind’ contributions that forms India’s share to the ITER project.

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November 2011


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DEFBIZ

WILL IT DELIVER ALL THAT IS EXPECTED? India is attaching great importance to the offsets agreements in its defence deals, but the irony is that both the industry and the MoD want to keep the entire offset conundrum as opaque as possible, points out ROHIT SRIVASTAVA

www.geopolitics.in

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November 2011


g DEFBIZ

THINK TANKS AND CONSULTING GIANTS DO NOT WANT TO GO ON RECORD ON THE OFFSETS ISSUE comments were on similar lines. Our efforts to get exact information regarding the offset business from the Ministry of Defence didn’t meet with any success. When asked about the total amount of offsets finalised till now, the defence industry quotes figures ranging from `9,000 crore to `20,000 crore. A chasm of `11,000 crore separates the two numbers. So where lies the truth? The amount of offsets is not the only thing which is not clear. No one knows why offsets and what for? Colonel KV Kuber, an independent consultant, speaking about the objective of offsets said, “Today we don’t know why we have offsets. Its not there on paper. The MoD doesn’t know what they want from offset. “The understanding of offset between the industry and government is different. VK Mathur, Managing Director, Inapex, said. “There is a disconnect at our level and on the other hand there is no understanding.”

CRACKING THE RIDDLE: Defence Minister AK Antony unveils the Defence Procurement Procedure-2011, in New Delhi on January 13, 2011

O

ffset entered the labyrinth corridors of the Defence Ministry as a defence procurement procedure tool in circa 2006. Since then it has become an integral part of any defence deal of over `300 crore. The idea is that cash outflow on account of hardware imports are retained within the country in the form of offsets — that fundamentally means manufacturing or downstream/upstream investments in collaborative avenues. At present India is importing around 70 per cent of military hardware and the trend is unlikely to change in near future. Regular Ministry of Defence (MoD) www.geopolitics.in

assessments put India’s shopping budget at over $100 billion in next decade. A large part of these weapons will be direct purchases and a substantial portion will be from Indian firms under ‘Make India’ procedures. The total amount of offsets will be around $20 billion by 2020, according to industry sources. It is no surprise that both the industry and the MoD want to keep the entire offset conundrum as opaque as possible. Even the so-called celebrated think tanks and consulting giants do not want to go on record on the issue. “Brilliant subject, get to the bottom of it, but I don’t think it is necessary to quote,” said one seasoned veteran. Other

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But where is the disconnect? The disconnect is in the understanding of the business of defence. Speaking to Geopolitics, an American defence trade expert on condition of anonymity said, “Defence is a distorted market. Defence is non commodity market; there is almost always a single buyer, i.e. government. Offset is fundamentally flawed math. The cost of offset is not free. Offset is good political tool, it’s a pay back, and it has to be used sensibly.” Speaking further he said, “Offset is never dollar for dollar.” According to procedure the original equipment makers are supposed to submit offset proposal before the opening of commercial bid. The offset proposals are submitted to Defence offset Facilitation Agency (DoFA) headed by Joint secretary (acquisition) MoD. Industry sources has many complaints against this institution. Speaking to us on this, one foreign expert November 2011


g DEFBIZ

said, “MoD needs professional expertise. DoFA is without expertise. This is full time job. Lack of such professional interest shows lack of commitment on India’spart. “Audit experts of industry feels that, “There is no offset monitoring; companies are just submitting the proposal and certificates. DOFA is not functional.” Director of a leading industrial house which has big plans for defence said: “Offset obligations are at initial stage and it takes time for moving forward. At later stage the obligation should move up. There are countries where where the offset obligations are close to 200 per cent. People in government are not well aware and this is new to our country and decision makers don’t have the clarity.” Big companies as middlemen The offset business and the ‘Make India’ options have created huge opportunities for Indian firms. The recent mega deals have energized the Indian industry and every business house has set up a defence division to capture a slice of this market. The best part is that the OEMs are under obligation to offload offset to subsidiaries or Indian companies and the business is certain to be offered Indian industry. But the key question is whether the business is being conducted in right manner. The big firms neither have the technology nor any expertise. This technical expertise is with the Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) but they do not have the influence or pocket to establish industries to capture this sudden surge of orders. The present situation in India is such that system integrator is in command. As far as government policy is concerned, it makes no distinction between PSUs and private firms. The FDI limit in defence ensures that only large companies with deep pockets can afford to invest large sum of money into joint ventures to grab orders. But the www.geopolitics.in

Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) 2011. These are going to enable SMEs to exploit their innovativeness and will encourage them. Things will change if government of India earmarks a certain amount of offset business or certain technologies specifically for SMEs. Some policy decision where

technology is with SME and the system integrator will be forced to subcontract business to SMEs. Therefore the business will flow to SMEs but they will not make huge money. Moreover to keep themselves afloat SMEs will have to invest in new technology, thus substantially cutting its profit.

ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MAKERS HAVE TO SUBMIT OFFSET PROPOSALS BEFORE BIDS ARE OPENED The SMEs have lobbied vigorously in keeping in ensuring that the 26 per cent FDI limit prevails. SMEs believe if the 49 per cent FDI is allowed the technology will flow in through the OEMs who will have a larger stake in the business. While that may be a myopic view, there are many who do not see the SME losing out in all this. “The SMEs is going to get large part of the business because of their sheer technological expertise,” said one observer. Government has allowed offset banking and offset credit for the first time in

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SMEs must get a share of business and technology is a must. Are we getting the technology? The idea of having offset is to get Indian defence industry on its feet. India has been buying off the shelf or assembling systems in India. Only the small systems are manufactured in India. What is essentially lacking is the technology. Every major deal has a clause for technology transfer. India had similar clauses where ToT was part of contract in past but what India got was production design at best. Speaking on this, VK Mathur said, “Government is looking for technology, and they think production design is technology. In any production whether aircraft or car about 70 per cent of it come from outside as sub assembly.” The company that is selling the aircraft is responsible for only 20 per cent of technology. Speaking further he said, “Today technology is so complex and wide spread and no one can give it alone.” Infact the technology is spread in at least three tiers. The first one is sub system providers like engine, hydraulic, radar manufacturers etc. Tier two provide, the subsystem of the main components. Tier three is metallurgy, software, etc. The original manufacturers and tier 1 can provide the assembly detail but the real manufacturing technology is with the tier 2 and tier 3. November 2011


g DEFBIZ Industry leaders aver that the “bureaucracy is not interested in understanding the nitty- gritty of technology.” But the question arises why the OEMs will part away with the technology for any deal. The Indian market is very lucrative at this point and India is only market where large deals are being pursued in the world. VK Mathur believes, “No technology unless the OEMs have a sizeable

stake. Let OEMs have majority stake and let them manufacture and train engineers here and in twenty years we will have technology.” An auditor with the defence industry elaborated on some other elemmts of offset: “Portions of import is being added as offset. That doesn’t help.Fifty percent indigenisation of technology is must. Technology being brought under technology collaboration is being added as value addition. Fees for HR and training are added into offset value.” With just 30 percent offset, the HR and training costs are being charged exorbitantly to minimize the real transfer of technology and amount of offset. The auditors believe that for better technology access, “Tier 2 and tier 3 from abroad should be part of Joint Venture and Memorandum of Understanding. Government should see what is the value addition by Indian companies in the offset and what have they earned of it.” The real fear is that instead of something substantial coming our way, it is possible that Indian offset partners can just do the book entry with little real work. The technical and commercial offsets are submitted separately and they are evaluated separately. The transfer of technology is generally, dealt separately by government. So the chance of things not coming our way is pretty high. Industry sources believe: “Technology is coming wherever it is required. Most of the technology is dual use technology and it is the level of technology that differs. Indian offset business should look for global supply chain. India should look at business for next 40-50 year.” www.geopolitics.in

Another industry veteran believes: “OEM wants to have 26 per cent in FDI with the rest taken up by the Indian partner only only if there is steady revenue in long term. OEMs just want to dump money or machinery under offset obligation, but Indian partners have to see viability in long term. Research and developmentcompanies should develop some business strategy and start earning revenue and then invest into R&D and design and developing products.”

THE OFFSET BUSINESS HAS CREATED HUGE OPPORTUNITIES FOR INDIAN FIRMS Way out Vendors can’t be blamed “if they can they will make money.” Vendors don’t have the expertise of offset. Every couple of year the policy is changing. MoD doesn’t have consistency and expertise, one consultant, with knowledge of US defence industry. Industry sources further opined that, “Cost of infrastructure is not permitted or there is no guidelines so they have to go for equity. MoD is encouraging equity dilution in private firms but keep a tab over the FDI limit. But investment in infrastructure is applicable with DPSU.” In theory training is offset and imparting of knowledge is also offset. Now the OEMs are asking for multiplier which India is not allowing. Multiplier can be understood as the OEM calculates the

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impact of its offset on Indian industry and receives credit or goods of that amount from the company who has received the technology. So if the amount of offset is 100 crore then the OEM can order Indian vendor in multiple of this number. The cost of the production will not be calculated in multiplier but above that amount will be taken in the kitty. This can be also put into investment as credit. The value of knowledge is over

and above the value of goods. We need to keep in mind that South Korea and Israel has built their industry on offset. In US — companies compete for innovation dollar which is the way to develop competitiveness in research. Col Kuber believes, “We have started the policy recently and at appropriate time multipliers will be there.” The US has a Defence Acquisition University. India should send its officers there. India should put up Industry security programme. Industry should decide FDI limit deal-by-deal. Let Indian government monitor this. Government should incentivise the research fund. Allow investment in the fund as offset,” suggested an American consultant. VK Mathur observes: “The eyes don’t see and hearts don’t listen. Unless we focus on tier 1/2/3 supply line, Indian assembly line is useless. We need to develop vendors, the days of finished products is over. Government should ask vendors who are your Tier 1/ tier2/vendors.” He further said, “Guys with knowledge are no where in decision making. Technology reside in mind of people not in design, what we need to get is engineering into design.” Finally, Col Kuber, suggests, “DOFA needs to be strengthened. An independent unbiased body to monitor offset is required.” November 2011


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Crore invested by services in mutual funds

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6

FGFAs to be inducted

with Army Group Insurance Fund contributing more than half. Navy Group Insurance Fund and Air Force Group Insurance Society have smaller sums of money invested in equity funds. The equity in MF is just 3-5 per cent of the defence forces’ overall portfolio but it’s a big amount INDIAN AIR FORCE (IAF) will induct a of money for fund houses. total of 214 single and twin-seater variants of the Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) being developed jointly by India and Russia by 2014. According to Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, India is looking for 166 single-seater and 48 twin-seater versions of the fighter. The contract is in the preliminary contract stage and is expected to involve more efforts by two sides when it enters the design phase next year.

THE INSURANCE arms of Army, Navy and the Air Force have supported the Indian mutual funds (MF) industry, which has been threatened by fund underperformance, lack of investor interest and intermittent outflows. The insurance arms have invested around `100-150 crore in equity MFs every month for the past few months. Defence forces’ investment in equity MFs stood at `4,800 crore,

More C-130Js for Indian Air Force

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Crore needed for army modernisation

INDIAN AIR FORCE (IAF) is set to acquire six more C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft from the United States in addition to the six already ordered. According to Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, the aircraft performed well in the recent earthquake relief operations in north-eastern India. The new order for next six aircraft is expected to be finalised by January next year.

THE INDIAN Army is nowhere near reaching its 100 per cent operational capability, which an earlier projection held would be possible only by end of the 14th Plan in 2027. In its 11th Plan (2007-2012) review, operational gaps were pointed out in fields ranging from artillery, aviation, air defence and night-fighting to anti-tank guided missiles, precision guided munitions and specialised tank and rifle ammunition. The 11th Plan review says around `41,000 crore will be required “to make up current deficiencies”.

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New assault vessels for Navy

IN ORDER to strengthen its operational capabilities, the Indian Navy has signed a contract worth `2,170 crore with the Kolkata-based, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, for the construction of the eight assault vessels. The vessels will have a displacement of around 800 tonnes and one will be delivered in the next 35 months. The new vessels will be used to replace the existing fleet of six amphibious boats already in service. www.geopolitics.in

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CRPF officers train with army

CENTRAL RESERVE Police Force (CRPF) has sent officers to train with operational Army units to hone their skills in tactical manoeuvres and counter-insurgency operations. The officers are undertaking patrols, ambushes and tactical courses with these units in various parts of the country, from anti-militancy in Kashmir to counter-insurgency in the north-east. The decision to attach officers was taken by Cabinet Committee on Security after the Dantewada ambush. November 2011


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Russian ballistic missile subs to retire by 2014

THE RUSSIAN Defence Ministry announced that it would retire three long-range ballistic missile submarines no later than 2014 in order to meet the mandates of a bilateral nuclear arms control treaty with the United States. The three Akula-class vessels — Arkhangelsk, Dmitry Donskoy, and Severstal — are the largest submarines in the world. Their decommissioning is forced by the New Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) accord’s cap.

3,000

Afghans operating under CIA authority

66,000

Critical tank shells short

THE AFGHAN contingent works under the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which has transformed from its pre-9/11 attack days as an intelligence gathering agency to one that is deeply wedded with special forces targeting terrorist leaders across the world. Officials see the counter-terror operations, carried out often with the Joint Special Operations Command, as a stunning success that has severely damaged alQaeda. The 9/11 attacks triggered an unprecedented expansion of the CIA paramilitary arm.

THE ARMY is learnt to have put it down in writing that it needs about 66,000 Armoured Piercing FinStabilised Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) rounds as an “immediate operational necessity”. The APFSDS rounds are vital for the Armoured Corps to take down enemy tanks in a tank-to-tank battle. This is the latest instance where the Army has officially conveyed to the government that its war reserves for certain ammunition have fallen below critical levels.

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Billion dollars lost annually due to piracy

PIRACY COSTS the global merchant-vessel industry up to nine billion dollars per year according to the Indian Shipowners’ Association. This is due to use of longer routes to avoid piracy-prone areas, and higher insurance costs. Indian shipowners and importers have also been badly affected after a London-based insurance company included India’s west coast as a warship zone. Consequently, merchant vessels carrying goods to ports such as Cochin and Goa have to pay hefty sums for insurances. Most of the food imports into India are routed through the same course. In August, the Indian government allowed deployment of armed guards on merchant ships.

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42

Terror camps India wants destroyed

INDIA HAS asked Pakistan to destroy the terror camps operational on its soil. “There are 42 terror camps which are still operational. We want all of them to be destroyed,” said Defence Minister AK Antony when asked about India’s concerns over the existing terror camps in Pakistan. Reports have suggested that a large number of terrorists are waiting on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC) to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir.

Mig-29Ks to join Navy within two years

CHIEF OF Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma has said that more Mig-29K-class fighter aircraft and helicopters would be inducted into the Indian Navy. Talking to media after the commissioning of fleet tanker INS Shakti at the naval dockyard he said 29 MIG-29K aircraft and

www.geopolitics.in

sixteen helicopters would be acquired within two years. Sixteen Mig-29Ks, (12 fighter and 4 trainee aircraft) have already been acquired. The Navy Chief also said that Italy was extending cooperation for an aircraft carrier.

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November 2011


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India to join ICBM big leagues

INDIA IS all set to join the select group of nations capable of launching nuclear strikes across the continent. With Russia ready to provide the cutting-edge ‘seeker’ technology for India’s Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the country is ready to flaunt its nuclear might in a big way by the year-end when the ICBM will undergo its maiden launch. The development of the ICBM had been delayed because no country

was ready to provide India the crucial ‘seeker’ technology, which enables the missile to home in on the target with pinpoint precision. The ICBM will be capable of carrying a nuclear payload and has a strike range of 10,000 km. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has indigenously developed the ‘seeker’ technology for Agni-I, Agni-II and Agni-III intermediate range missiles.

Missile shield for Bengaluru

HOME TO multi-billiondollar IT, space and defence companies and drawing the admiration of the world as a tech hub that pushes the envelope in research and development, Bengaluru is suspected to be coming under the increasing threat from not only terrorists’ strikes, but also missile attacks from unfriendly countries. But come 2013, the Indian armed forces will make sure that the city is

ISRO mulling more launch sites INDIAN SPACE Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to have more launch sites as the frequency of satellite launches is slated to go up in the coming years, Chairman K Radhakrishnan said recently. The outlay for these new sites may be less than `1,000 crore. The future launches include the Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) launch that is scheduled for the second quarter of 2012. There are two more Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLVs) — one (PLSV C-19) carrying RISAT-1, a microwave remote-sensing satellite, another (PSLV C 20) carrying an Indo-French collaborative satellite Saral, and other small satellites, which will study oceans, he said. ISRO also plans to launch Astrosat and Aditya satellites in the coming years. The agency is also scheduled to launch Chandrayaan 2 at the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014 with a GSLV. www.geopolitics.in

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under a multi-layered shield that will protect Bengaluru from missile strikes. The proposed multi-layered missile defence system is similar to the ‘Patriot’ anti-ballistic missile defence system of the United States. The armed forces plan to mount quick-reaction, surface-to-air missiles (SAM) — the made-in-India medium-range ‘Akash’ and the deadly short-range Israeli ‘Barak’.

DRDO -Odisha tussle THE ODISHA government has indicated that it might not allow Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) to use the state’s coastline for carrying out seaward artillery practice and manoeuvres. Though it is a regular practice by the DRDO to undertake such exercises in Balasore and Bhadrak coasts, since February this year, the state government has been refusing permission to the defence establishment to use its shore. And all this has been a retaliatory measure as the DRDO has objected to the state government’s port-projects. The Odisha government is proposing to develop ports at Chudamani, Chandipur, Bichitrapur, Kirtania, Inchudi, Bahabalpur and other likely places in these areas.

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First flight by India-bound P-8I Poseidon The P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing is developing for the US Navy based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane. In order to efficiently design and build P-8 aircraft, the Boeing-led team is using a first-in-industry, in-line production process that draws on the company’s next-generation 737 production system. Boeing announces new C4ISR division Boeing has announced creation of a new division for company’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance

and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) business. The new Electronic & Mission Systems (E&MS) division will operate within the Network and Space Systems business unit and include Argon ST, Digital Receiver Technology (DRT) and Boeing’s tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) programmes. E&MS will be led by Terry Collins, who previously served as vice president and general manager of Argon ST. Boeing acquired Argon ST in August 2010 and DRT in December 2008.

Photo:www.navair.navy.mil

BOEING’S FIRST P-8I aircraft for the Indian Navy completed its initial flight. The flight performed airborne systems checks including engine accelerations and decelerations and autopilot flight modes, and took the P-8I to a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet prior to landing. In the coming weeks Boeing will begin mission systems installation and checkout work. Speaking on the occasion Rear Admiral DM Sudan, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air), Indian Navy, said: "The P-8I programme is progressing well and we are looking forward to this potent platform joining the Indian Navy as part of its fleet.”

Navy to induct more personnel

THE FIRST-EVER joint Army exercise between India and France in the northern state of Uttarakhand in mid-October has enhanced combat skills and interoperability between the armies. The two-week exercise called ‘Shakti 2011’ also focused on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. Indian Army indicated that sixty troops from French ‘13 Mountain Battalion’ and an equal number of soldiers from two Indian regiments participated in the 15-day exercise. The training exercise enabled both the armies to draw from each other’s expertise and combat skills since both armies had performed varied operations in the past.

GIVEN ITS increasing security responsibility in the region, the Indian Navy is set to augment its personnel levels by almost a quarter over the next few years by inducting technically qualified men and officers, even as efforts are on to increase military infrastructure in the Andaman islands by upgrading three forward operating bases. While the 50,000-plus Navy is suffering from an officer shortage of about 8 per cent. Navy requires between 20 and 25 per cent more personnel over the next few years to safeguard the nation’s coastline and carry out its mandate as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Photo:defense.gouv.fr.org

First-ever Army drill with France

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COVERSTORY

GRIM PORTENTS Is our military selection and training system in crisis mode? Are we using cutting-edge tools and methods for selecting and training the right officer material across genders to prepare them for fighting and winning the “next” instead of the “last” war? Or, are we still strait-jacketed in doggedly following our legacy when being “physical” was considered the epitome of military skill? More importantly, do we, as a nation, really care about honing the one tried-and-tested institution that works in India — its armed forces — into an exceptional war-fighting machine? RAJ MEHTA explains www.geopolitics.in

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knowledge-based warfare including cyber warfare. We need to worry whether our selection and training methodologies for young officers are current, or, do we continue to be complacent and uncaring; taking scant note of how military selection and training systems and processes have adapted world-wide to the changed security paradigm, including in countries inimical to us?

LEAP OF FAITH: The peculiarities of the Indian armed forces selection and training methods mean that overdue stress is put on physical aspects putting excessive stress on cadets

When you’re finished changing, you’re finished — Benjamin Franklin In autumn 2010, the author sat in the secluded Lavele Valley in the Western Ghats, far away from the heat and grime of Pune. It was a period of frenetic activity for him as he was busy planning a murderously tough motivation-cum-training “boot camp” for rookie undergraduate and postgraduate boys and girls with a taste for the uniform. What was planned as a short interaction with Colonel Vinay Dalvi, an earnest and committed retired Maratha Light Infantry officer and a renowned physical training (PT) expert, became a fascinating discussion. The author had reviewed his book, Role Model for Delhi-based Pentagon Press; a first ever wake-up call on the state of selection and training in the armed forces. Dalvi www.geopolitics.in

argued that our ace training academies — the National Defence Academy (NDA), the Indian Military Academy (IMA) and the Officers Training Academy (OTA) — were overly “physical” (see accompanying box on page 46 *) in their “training” of officer cadets and in an unscientific, selfdefeating manner. The must-read portion of his book is a 30-page military paper Dalvi wrote while still in service, supplemented by a shorter paper by his cousin, Colonel Pradeep Dalvi, (a retired Mechanised Infantry officer) who acidly pointed out that they weren’t “selecting” officer candidates right either. We have grim, almost daily reminders of a disintegrating, nuclear-capable and terror-plagued Pakistan and a resurgent, nuclear China militarily colluding with each other under our noses. China now leads the world in emerging forms of

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ARE WE ADVANCING BY LOOKING BACKWARDS…FIGHTING YESTERDAY’S WAR? Primer On Selection Issues The Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) is a Delhi-based defence laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) tasked to do deep research in the area of psychology for selecting armed forces personnel. The French proverb, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose; in translation: ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same’ best describes the status quo outputs that DIPR provides, as widely felt by the Services. Under DRDO since 1982, DIPR, in specific terms, provides training, content, and monitoring and feedback inputs for the officer selection system used by the Services Selection Board (SSB). Psychologists, Group Testing Officers (GTOs) and Interviewing Officers (IOs) conducting the SSB are all DIPR trained. The Additional Directorate General Army (Recruiting) and similar directorates in the other Services are, overall, responsible for officer selection (including women officers), but find their linkages with DIPR to be supercilious, nonaccountable and opaque. The five-day-long SSB Personalitycum-Intelligence Interview analyses candidate’s potential and compatibility for commission into the armed forces. The interview regimen uses psychological assessments to gauge candidates potential as future officers by screening them for OLQs (Officer Like Qualities) such as effective intelligence, sense of responsibility, initiative, judgment (under stress), ability to reason, communication skills, determination, courage, self-confidence, speed in decision-making, willingness to set an example, compassion and loyalty to the nation. The psychology-driven Screening Test on Day 1, finds “60 per cent candidates” who have made the SSB after a gruelling UPSC written November 2011


OFFICERS AT LAST: The sheer ‘physicality’ of Army’s training routines can put off potential recruits

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examination packed off (insensitively without lunch), after a four-hour ordeal. What is disheartening is that there is “no test of physical capability” during the SSB proper. Individual and group obstacles negotiated by candidates merely bring out leadership qualities or the lack of it. This is because of an inexplicable mindset or notion that physical fitness, considered mandatory by all foreign selection boards is a ‘trainable’ quality; something that can be acquired at any time during training; even after commissioning. The feeling is the testing system is opaque, secretive, change-resistant, very tough for the uninitiated, callous (dropouts after Day 1 screening/final dropouts are never told what they lack; thereby savagely undermining their selfesteem). Changes made by DIPR over 60 years of testing are viewed as cosmetic. Part of the problem is that their interaction with military end-users is non-binding since DIPR reports to DRDO; not HQ IDS. So far, “no DIPR performance audit” involving the Services has been carried out. The military thus remains outside the loop. For three years now, DIPR has been talking of introducing “new tests” — sensory, psychomotor and physical. These have yet not been publicly aired to the Services for their inputs. This is why the French proverb best describes the DIPR approach — preserving the status quo since 1947. International Military Practices It is not possible to get a sense of how much off-target we are unless we analyse what other countries are doing. The first www.geopolitics.in

organised exchange of experiences on officer selection took place at the 20th International Congress of Applied Psychology in Edinburgh in 1982, where military psychologists from NATO countries met. Between 1997 and 2000, a Research and Study Group (RSG) from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA, focused on officer selection. RSG presciently concluded that regular re-examination of national selection systems can significantly improve output. Let us learn from specific examples. In Belgium, the selection process includes assessment of “Morality Traits”. Physical fitness is tested, using an ergometrical bicycle; shuttle runs and balancing/isostatic exercises. In Canada, selection interviews are conducted by two “Military Career Counselors”; typically specially-trained-in-recruiting junior officers. Specialist “Personnel Selection Officers” are also employed. Pre-enrolment aerobic PT tests are conducted by registered “civil contractors”. In Denmark, candidates are scanned for mental disorders, situational awareness/alertness and sense of humour. What is intriguing is the holistic manner in which Britain has moved on from its “physical” legacy. Most officers are today recruited using a complex network of school and university liaison officers who do talent spotting; then nurture students’ interest. All candidates attending the Regular Commissions Board (RCB) are sponsored by Regiments/Corps who allow visits or short attachments for a “realistic job preview”. Thereafter is a mandatory RCB Briefing where candi-

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dates undergo psychometric tests, interview and a PT test. This is also the first elimination stage; followed by the RCB main board which is like our SSB. In America, the Services have highly competitive entry standards with students needing to clear the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT). Service academies use “whole person” reporting for evaluating applicants; with 60 per cent weightage to academic aptitude, 30 per cent for leadership potential and 10 per cent for physical aptitude. “Insiders” Agree that Change is Mandatory Now in the corporate sector, Colonel Pradeep Dalvi is one of the few officers to have done the Group Testing Officers (GTO) and IO courses run by DIPR. He opines “Our selection systems are totally outdated and unwilling to change.” The selection criterion is unrealistically pitched and suffers from lack of transparency and intellectual arrogance. Colonel Nimbalkar; GTO at several SSBs and Brigadier Rajbir Singh, SSB psychologist for long, agree with this view. Dalvi also suggests that we pitch for increased short service male/lady officer intake and that the NCC/University officer entry schemes be reviewed. He opines that the OLQ the SSB seeks in candidates paradoxically reflects the qualities that the corporate world seeks, though formatting is different. A makeover to establish equivalence can be win-win situation for corporate houses seeking value-for-money and service officers seeking alternate careers. Dalvi feels that “Integrity” and “Morality” November 2011


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should be visible, not implied parts of SSB testing. “Annual opinion polls like Mercer’s reflect youth expectations and can help fine-tune selection and marketing. PRIMER ON TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT ISSUES A Role Model Who Remains Unheard Colonel Vinay Dalvi is a 1971 “Direct Entry” from IMA. A third-generation soldier, he opted for the Army Physical Training Corps (APTC), serving 29 years in it till retirement in 2008. He was Physical Training Officer (PTO) at NDA, IMA and OTA for a record nine years. Twice decorated, he has played for/captained the Services Hockey team, besides coaching/managing Services teams in athletics, aquatics, wrestling and gymnastics. He is an avid sports aficionado. In Role Model, Dalvi uses his 2007 paper: Physical and Recreational Training in Pre-Commission Training Institutes to convey his angst. Each academy has its own interpretation of the Physical Training (PT) syllabus. Coordination of academic-cum-physical activity is abysmal, far too many people have a say in academy matters: HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS); Director General Military Training (DGMT); Army Training Command (ARTRAC); the Adjutant-General, who oversees manpower planning and recruiting; the DRDO which oversees selection through DIPR; the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSc), the Medical Corps, and, not the least, the personality, mindset and predilection of individual Academy Commandants who are pretty much free to do their own thing without worrying about any ombudsman who can question any tinkering they may undertake to HQ IDS approved training schedules. Dalvi goes on to add to his litany of woes: the conscious degradation of physical fitness as a “trainable quantity”; unscientific approach to PT — formal as well as informal physical punishment awarded by all and sundry including cadet appointments — resulting in alarming cases of “stress fractures” and below-knee problems, which expose cadets to severe career and health penalties for cadets; “physical toughening up” to meet fiercely competitive squadron sports aspirations as well as ragging, which, officially prohibited, still has Nelson’s Eye sanctity. The cumulative result of this insidious focus on “physical” issues — a throwback to our 1950s legacy of macho soldiering — www.geopolitics.in

* THE “PHYSICALITY” ISSUE

THE BRITISH armed forces were, in their prime, world conquerors. What worked for them were supremely physically-fit military personnel who could take enormous stress and hardship, obey orders unquestioningly, and, most of the time, deliver victory. Conservative and orthodox, the British did not lay much store by academic development; this, because of fears that highly-educated soldiers were more likely to question orders. The Sandhurst Military Academy still values physicality more than it does academics. With key founding fathers Sandhursttrained India unquestioningly carried forward this legacy. Post the 1947-48 Indo -Pak War, the 1950s decade was largely trouble free, with Pakistan quiet and with Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai bonhomie with China. Left to do their own thing, both cadets in Training Academies and officers were left free to be cheerfully… “Physical”. With no crippling officer deficiencies either; all forms of physical activity were encouraged, starting with Training Academies. At the NDA, which was setting stellar physical standards with several of its cadets representing India in several sports, the initial, tentative steps to upgrade the academic syllabus from inter science to graduation was strongly opposed; even resented. Finally, in June 1974, JNU was roped in to underwrite the NDA degree; something they do till date, but little “hands on” involvement. What are the results? The reality audit is as under:  The authorised Physical Training is is that academies follow academic-cumphysical programmes whimsically. Expectedly then, a shocking 70 per cent of a cadet’s time is spent on various forms of PT: official, unofficial, and prohibited. Only 30 per cent time is spent on intellectual activity. Ironically, the official scheduling is exactly the opposite. Dalvi also brings out that the approved PT testing regimen in each academy is non-standard and personality driven. A recent DIPR study for 10 NDA courses (Serials 96-106) revealed a wastage rate of 17-18 per cent, which is almost double the European average and much higher than the Chinese average of 12.5 per cent. Dalvi points out that the APTC faces

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given short shrift officially; suffered rather than encouraged. APTC is helpless because it cannot impart scientific training to cadets in line with its Harmonious Training-Systematic ProgressionContinuity in Training credo.  The APTC helplessness arises from the fact that cadets who do PT are also exposed to incessant drill practice; to “restrictions”, “extra drills”, “puttee parades”; to “Ragda”; toughening up cadets at unearthly hours in the name of “squadron spirit” to win competitions. There is also the “Singarh trek” as a long standing punishment in combat dress; a four-hour, 25-kilometre trek to Singarh Peak at 4660 feet and back…  Add to this, the evil of “ragging” and you have cadets doing physical activity that savagely stresses knees, tendons, ligaments, bones… Most of these physical activities are obviously “Off Syllabus” but happen because of the Nelson’s Eye effect…  Common sense suggests that with such an excess of daily physical demands on a young, vulnerable body, the average cadet’s performance and interest in high grade academics as also in scientifically conducted, authorised Physical Training must suffer. The net loser is, sadly, the cadet. The problem of “Physicality” can thus be seen in its full, very serious import: What is urgently needed is a scientifically programmed, well-executed and stringently monitored world-class physicalacademic mix; not the current haberdashery.

crippling shortages with only 37 officers held against an authorisation of 64 and no women PT officers. The officers PT course, which trains 70-100 officers a year, is not a priority course for units facing endemic officer shortages. They, in any case, feel it is a pedestrian course. The blunt facts? PT is not a Services priority. Reeling under huge commitments, depleted strength (combined officer shortages in 2010 were a crippling 15,273) and uncaring governance, the Services doggedly slog on; making do with what they have — candid words spoken by the then Army Chief General VP Malik, in response to media inquisition about operational shortages during the Kargil war. November 2011


g COVERSTORY The Establishment Is Not Interested To cap it all, Dalvi states that he sent Role Model to the top decision-making Political, Bureaucratic, Military and Scientific hierarchy. Their response has been heart-breaking. The one person who did react positively was General Gautam Banerjee, the then Commandant OTA. He not only found merit in Dalvi’s suggestions, including the need for PT tests at SSB, but solicited his help for his lady cadets’ PT. With some key people not replying, most addressees merely saw the book as a “useful addition to our library”. Several respondents wrote back with asperity that the current system had delivered in the past and brooked no change. With over 5000 officer-cadets under training at any given time (NDA-2000; increasing to 2500; IMA-1800: OTA-Chennai 750; OTA-Gaya 500); surely far more was expected…

their own volition, skip school to attend coaching classes that promote “cracking” solutions by guesswork/elimination/ math skills; rather than by reflection and reasoning. On September 26, 2011, The Tribune reported that 26 IIT/IIM students had committed suicide between 2008 and 2011, due to the parent/self-fuelled “topper syndrome”. Expectedly, the institutional response was as linear as the study programming: “Remove ceiling fans; allow double occupancy…permit ‘sensible’ ragging to allow students to communicate...” The criticism by IITtrained Infosys Mentor Narayana Murthy in a pan-IIT meet at New York on October 2, 2011 that most IIT graduates are tunnel-vision led and unfit for highend jobs hurts, but is true. Combine this with our emerging gadget-driven lifestyle and military woes in both selection and training are better understood.

Stress Fractures: The Bane of Academies How have the recent, much-touted syllabi changes impacted the NDA? Its BSc/BA/BCS degrees have never featured amongst India’s or the world’s best institution lists or (exceptions aside), its cadets cited for athletic brilliance. On the contrary, cadets of courses Serial 116-125 have suffered a staggering 466 stress fractures from July 2008 to August 2011 or over 12 a month/155 fractures a year. Stress fractures occur when too much stress is unscientifically applied on the shin bone and connecting tissues by startstop games, marching on non-compliant surfaces, uneven hill running, landing on the heels and wrong shoes, or when a cadet wears heavy duty boots for the first time for a long march. Women are 3.5 times more prone due to lesser bone density than men. Average stay in hospital over a ten-year average has been 25.2 days. Given mandatory sick leave of four

The PT Instructors Are No Role Models Dalvi bluntly accepts that the APTC is itself in need of a major makeover. The last (limited) PT review was in 1990. Service HQ does not issue yearly PT directives and standards of instructors in the Corps leave a lot to be desired. Lacking direct recruitment, officers past their prime get inducted into APTC; making a mockery of the word role model. Our Historic Legacy It may be recalled here that in ancient India, individual pursuit of fitness was discouraged as the religious beliefs of Hinduism and Buddhism emphasised spirituality; tending to neglect development of the body. Yoga has doubtlessly been around for 5000 years, but has little mass appeal. Today, regrettably, many senior officers feel it can replace the PT tests; an unscientific deduction. Post the Lord Macaulay-driven dismantling of our educational system; it was only in 1882 that the Indian Education Organisation recommended PT in schools. Its ground execution has left us embarrassed and humiliated in most international sports competitions. Rote Learning Has Students And Parents In Thrall Part of the blame lies in our obsession with rote-driven as opposed to holistic academic development. It is no surprise that students, driven by parents as by www.geopolitics.in

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November 2011


g COVERSTORY weeks, the cadet is unavailable for eight weeks with a 60 per cent chance of recurrence. The Army invaliding statistics are a shocking 4.07 per cent for cadets; 0.20 per cent for officers and 0.33 per cent for soldier-recruits. The deductions are there for all to see: We are not conducting our PT right and overstress trainees by more informal/unauthorised than by authorised PT. Also, cadet’s shoes need far more careful Orthotics-Neural examination. Training And Education Norms In Western Academies A brief oversight of selected academies helps sense the direction in which they are headed. The United States Military Academy (USMA), after which NDA is modelled, is located at West Point, New York and handles 4487 cadets. It grants a Bachelor of Science degree with cadets being assessed in academics, leadership performance, and competitive athletics.

TIME FOR INTROSPECTION: The army high command needs to re-examine its training regimen for a better quality of officers

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USMA was rated in 2010 as #4 nationally and #1 among public institutions by Fortune magazine. USMA cadets who commit regulatory infractions are sent on punishment termed “walking the area” tours. It ranges from 5 to 80 hours, with some cadets completing over a 100 hours. US cadets as well as soldiers undergo the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) involving push-ups, sit-ups and a twomile run. Air Force and Naval test requirements are somewhat similar. The Army is now doing a battlefield-inspired make over. Lt Gen Mark Hertling feels that soldiers must be prepared to carry up to 30 kg of weapons/body armour as also lift/drag to safety, wounded colleagues weighing up to 100 kg. The Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) helps develop future leaders by providing Navy, Army and Air Force officer cadets with military training and university education (through the University of New South Wales). ADFA encourages academic excellence in its students. Applicants are required to pass PT tests as applicable for their chosen Service The Royal Military College (RMC) Duntroon is the Australian equivalent of IMA. Faced with savage ragging, the Australian Constitution was invoked to stop it. Today, it is known for its excellent academic programme; teaching students not what to think, but how to think. In March 2004, ADFA and RMA Duntroon were visited by Vice-Admiral SCS Bangara as Commandant, NDA. He found that the University of New South Wales, fully empowered by a formal agreement with the Australian Joint Service HQ, was conducting the ADFA degree package including funding and appointment of staff. The military content, he found, supplements the academic package and not the other way around, a legacy that NDA persists with. A combination of tough selection/screening norms including physical fitness, aggressive marketing, militarisation for the first six weeks; thereafter stringently overseen academic-military scheduling makes the ADMA (like the USMA one) a world-class degree to strive for. What impressed him too was that cadets, on arrival, were streamed into their Service of choice and trained to absorb its values from Day 1, including wearing its uniform; with Service content being left for later learning at Single Service Academies such as Duntroon. In NDA, streaming takes place in the last year, with

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inadequate “chosen Service” assimilation. The startling change he noted was that, after bad experiences with “Hazing” (brutal ragging), the cadet appointment system was dismantled; with punishments now only tenable by officer and belowofficer-rank instructors. This has broken the back of the USMA/Sandhurst/NDA culture of excessive compliance and the “my squadron right or wrong” spirit. Srikanth Kondapalli of IDSA, in a wellresearched study, has written that China has taken military reform seriously since setting up a “Military Academy Systems Reform Task Force” in 1984. PLA, with outreach in schools, colleges and universities, ensures that PLA approved PT modules are run. Most equipment in its 67 Training Academies other than highvisibility ones remains outdated and libraries poorly stocked. Corruption is rampant. Bribing the instructors for qualifying in examinations is frequently done by students. That notwithstanding, the People’s Daily recently reported that the PLA will recruit 20,000 high school graduates and over 8,000 students from 93 universities in 2011. What we also need to take note of is the emphasis the Chinese lay on research on scientific methods of selection and training. Examples: Chinese researchers used 376 recruits (1998 batch) for stress fracture case-control studies and found that overuse injuries caused an unacceptable 12.45 per cent incidence rate. They opine that good PT pre-selection and orderly basic training reduces incidence. A 2000 case-control study on 805 male recruits found 93 overuse injury cases. The PLA now prefers cadets without history of lower limb injury and has improved training diet content. The PLA has indeed taken PT research seriously with most universities and academies joining. Sample research subjects: “Discussion on Cadets’ Physical Training in the Military Academies”; “Exploratory Analysis on the Conception of Physical Fitness”; “Comparative Study of Different Methods on Recruits Physical Training”; “Correlative Study of Individual Differences of New Army Recruits with Psychological Factors of Military Training Injury”. Where China has a huge lead over the world is their dedication to public health. Their Physical Culture Administration encourages everyone to engage in at least one sport activity daily, learn at least two ways of keeping fit and have annual health examinations. China today has November 2011


g COVERSTORY 350,000 sports instructors and 850, 000 gyms. The goal by end 2011 is to have 40 per cent citizens exercising regularly. OVERALL RECOMMENDATIONS The weaknesses in our selection-cumtraining system affect all three Services almost equally, with the fallout being borne a bit more by the Army, because its charter demands consistent, high-grade physical fitness from induction to retirement. The following recommendations may be noteworthy:  Breaking radically with the past and establishing a healthy, path-breaking

precedent, a Standing National Military Commission should be ordered by the Supreme Commander, The President of India, to go into the entire gamut of selection, training and development of Army officers across gender. The Commission’s charter should be carefully vetted and prioritised. It should include areas suggested in this paper. The Commission should be headed by an eminent “outside” eminence (preferably a serving Jurist) and have, as members, serving and retired across-discipline experts known for integrity, objectivity and vision. Commandants of Joint/Single Service Acade-

RESPONSES TO SELECTION/ TRAINING CHALLENGES BY SENIOR OFFICERS

Lt Gen GK Duggal, ex-GOC 10 Corps and Lt Gen Ashok Joshi, ex-DGMT An ex-NDA, Gen Joshi was an iconic DGMT in 1992-94; famously remembered for stating at his first conference that the Army suffered from “violent doses of PT” from which it must speedily disengage. He is in complete agreement with the envisioned changes this paper projects as is the distinguished Gen Duggal, an ex- OTA. Vice Admiral SCS Bangara was Commandant NDA in 2003-04. He is a ‘nonex-NDA.’ He feels that the impact of upgrading the NDA academic syllabus from inter science to degree level by JNU was never fully analyzed, with no audit being carried out on its efficacy. With over 50 per cent teaching staff deficiency and antiquated UPSC selection norms; making up numbers by hiring ad hoc staff has been disastrous. NDA, he feels, is perhaps the “Only institution which concurrently runs a grueling physical program alongside an under graduation academic program”. He felt in 2004 that the varied “physical” traditions of NDA squadrons played an “obsessively important role in training of cadets” with most Cadets/officers validating/accepting them as “an inextricable part of service life”. He urges a Duntroon type of ragging clean-up. Unscientific approaches to training, stress fractures, poor medical health-testing (regular blood-chemistry testing is not done); the need to re-look diet/food supplements, including enhancing Calcium content; reducing oil intake and, not the least, obsession with drill are other issues he has railed against. The emphasis at

NDA, he opines, should shift from physicality to providing truly world class intellectual and vocational content. Also, physical standards should be as per individual Service need; implying ab initio acceptance of Service streaming along ADFA lines. Lt Gen SA Hasnain, a distinguished Direct-Entry from IMA who is currently commanding the Army in Kashmir, wholeheartedly supports the idea of producing thinking soldiers at our training Academies. He opines that we need to be transformational in outlook and switch over to creating the Scholar-Warrior over the Soldier-Warrior; the basic theme of this paper. “Soldiering is an intellectual, not just a physical pursuit,” he says. Maj Gen BS Grewal is ex-NDA and was Deputy Commandant NDA in 2008-2009. A supremely fit officer, he conceptualized and participated in the heavily-cadet-subscribed 20-20-20 concept (20 km riding-20 km cycling-20 laps swimming at 50 metre lap in non-stop mode). He feels, in retrospect, that the “Prevailing culture of preponderance of physical activity” must make way for greater intellectual content”. Col Gautam Das, an intellectually oriented, ex-OTA retired GURKHA officer, emphasises the values of 'Mens Sana In Corpore Sano’ – A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body. “Our entire officer-induction system is unsuited to the country's requirements at this time”, Das bluntly states, while sharing his unqualified approval of the papers contents. He adds that having a scientific basis for physically conditioning young bodies is mandated.

mies must be listed as ex-officio members. Foreign selection and training experts can be co-opted.  The Commission is recommended to be a “Standing” Commission, keeping in mind that the rapid changes sweeping across the military world make reform an ongoing, not start-stop process. The Commission’s writ must be constitutionally applicable to all agencies affected by its functioning. The Commission must function on a strict time-line and be under RTI scrutiny.  In its priority deliberations, the validity of suggestions emerging from this paper should be examined, particularly, lessons emerging from NATO; British college/ university outreach; ADFA and Chinese research as well as its physical fitness orientation.  The Services, not DIPR, de facto, the DRDO, should call the shots on selection. The merger of DIPR into HQ IDS must be seriously examined as a key term of reference.  Another criticality is to re-position APTC and equivalent Navy/IAF Directorates conducting PT to make them genuine, world-class role models in word and in deed.  The JNU connect with NDA must be radically upgraded or the upcoming National Defence University (NDU) empowered to make NDA degrees India if not world-class.  The issue of imparting a balanced mix of scientifically imparted physical training and world-class academic education must be looked with a visionary, not legacy intent.  The Commission must appoint eminent ombudsmen to oversee implementation/compliance norms. They should be empowered to override wrong practices /violations when discovered.  Marketing and PR should be reviewed ab initio and the Services pitched innovatively for attracting bright young people. Positioning the NCC/recruitment directorates in this regard must remain a Commission Key Result Area.  Lastly, the NDA, once a world trend-setter, must be restored to its Alpha Positioning as an academy worthy of the world’s emulation, because its product is enabled to fight and win not the “last” but “next” war; hopefully for a country that finally begins respecting its military, 64 years after inheriting it. (The author is a retired Major General)

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geopolitics

INTERNAL SECURITY NEED FOR MORE

Photo: ITBP

The country deserves a modern and better weaponised police force


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INTERNAL SECURITY

B R I E F S

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Taking on the Maoist rebels

Photo: ITBP

THE INDIAN ARMY has been training the state police forces on how to deal with the rising Maoist threat in the so-called “Red-corridor” states. It has completed the training of 65,000 state policemen and paramilitary personnel to take on the Maoists as the Centre prepares for a renewed offensive against the rebels. The Centre has also decided to rope in six more MI17 helicopters — taking the total to 15 — and 6,000 additional CRPF personnel to assist in the effort. The twin-engine bulletproof Mi-17 choppers can carry up to 25 persons including the crew. Besides this, the Centre is also going ahead with the plan to use unmanned air vehicles (UAV) in anti-Maoist operations. UAVs of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) have been deployed for gathering “real-time intelligence” in Maoist strongholds. It is expected that once the UAVs start providing images, air-support operations could be launched, whereby the choppers would drop CRPF men at the pinpointed locations. There will, however, be no assault or firing from the choppers. Meanwhile, it has been decided that security forces will shun armoured vehicles in Naxal areas. With mine protected vehicles (MPVs) becoming virtual death traps, claiming 150 personnel in the last two years, security forces fighting the Maoists/Naxals have been asked to rely more on foot patrols to detect underground mines and use armoured vehicles sparingly. It has been seen that every time security forces upgrade the landmine-protection capability of their MPVs, the Maoists move one step ahead using higher quantity of explosives in their improvised explosive devices (IEDs), making these mine-protected vehicles redundant. News channel CNN-IBN claims that it has accessed an Intelligence Bureau (IB) dossier with details of the Communist

Party of India (Maoist) Politburo and central committee members revealing some of India’s most wanted. The following are India’s most wanted — described by the Prime Minister as the biggest internal security threat. Topping the list is General Secretary Ganpati alias Laxman Rao, 61, who carries a reward of `24 lakh and is the main ideological pillar behind the Naxals. The dossier lists Ganpati’s family members in Hyderabad, Dharmapuri and Karimnagar districts of Andhra Pradesh. Number two in the Politburo is Nambala Keshav Rao, who comes from a family of government officials with a reward `19 lakh on him. Rao’s brothers are Vigilance and CMD-level officers in Andhra Pradesh. Kishanji, the masked darling of the press, is alive and active in the OrissaChhattisgarh forests while his younger brother Mallojula Venugopal is also a Politburo member. Kattam Sudashan, Bureau Secretary of CPI (Maoist), is the alleged mastermind of the April 2010 Dantewada massacre in which 76 security personnel were butchered. Kattam is believed to be still influential in the Dantewada region. Pulluri Prasad Rao, alias Chandranna, is the secretary of the North Telangana special zonal committee. Kishan, alias Mahesh, is the international face of the CPI (Maoist) and is believed to be the link between Indian and Nepali Maoists. Kishan is the only Bengali amongst the largely Andhra-dominated outfit. The other good news is that the Centre has sanctioned `120 crore to fortify 400 police stations located in Naxal-affected areas across the country. Official sources said the first installment of `30 lakh to each of the 400 police stations has been sanctioned for construction of new buildings, residential complex, bunkers and to procure arms and communication equipment.

Talks with ULFA hit hurdle FORMAL TALKS with United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) beginning on October 23 have suffered a setback with its general secretary Anup Chetia pulling out from the path-breaking initiative. Anup Chetia, who was giving feelers till recently that he was willing to join the tripartite talks, has suddenly switched sides and has chosen to close ranks with the anti-talks faction led by ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Barua, responsible government sources have revealed. Chetia’s fate now hangs on his petition seeking political asylum which has been pending in the Bangladesh High Court since he finished a sevenyear sentence in 2005. www.geopolitics.in

Most of ULFA’s leadership has relented and decided to join the peace process through structured formal talks, but Barua still remains stubborn, trying to keep up the pressure on India by funding terror attacks in Asom from the remote regions of northern Myanmar close to the Chinese border province of Yunnan. Keen to get Chetia on board for talks to further weaken Barua’s hold on the dispirited ULFA cadres, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had indicated the possibility of getting his custody in August. ULFA “surrendered” leadership led by chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa also wanted Chetia to be on their side to get more acceptability.

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B R I E F S IS

Photo: armybase.us

NSG commandos to go hi-tech

LEARNING ITS lessons from 26/11 and from the success of the US Navy SEAL operation to neutralise Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, the National Security Guard (NSG) plans to raise two ultra-modern commando units of about 1,600 within the next five years. These commandos will have cutting-edge weapon systems, individual GPS links and highly nutritious food to survive in isolation for at least 48 hours.

The country’s elite counter-terrorism force plans to ready the first batch of about 800 commandos soon, and they have already started receiving training. Sources said the government might have to spend between `3 -4 crore for a group of six-seven commandos. After learning from drawbacks during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in which commandos used equipment such as hand-held radios for communication, which meant one of their hands was pre-occupied, the new commandos will have modern communication systems strapped to the uniform, freeing their hands. These systems will have body-wearable computer systems that can process data horizontally and vertically available from the scene of action. This will automatically be seen by the Commanding Officer and at the same time, the commando can keep interacting with his superior. NSG Director General RK Medhekar has said that once the commandos get these advanced devices fitted to their body, their operations could be viewed in real time by Commanding Officers, as was in the case during the raid on Osama.

BSF, BGB to manage border jointly

THE RANN of Kutch is the only portion of the 2,308 km-long India-Pakistan border without a fence and the government is planning to fence it. The Rann of Kutch is a hotbed of large-scale smuggling of drugs and weapons, and trafficking of immigrants, as the Indian Army struggles to police, patrol and protect the swampy border. For decades, smugglers and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have taken advantage of the place’s unique geography. Home Minister P Chidambaram has set a March 2012 deadline for the completion of the fencing. However, there will be a delay in installing the flood-lights as this work can only be taken up after other works are completed. In 1997, the Border Security Force (BSF) had first proposed that this stretch of marshy land should be fenced. The marshy land is highly saline, which hampers fencing work, but the ministry has finally decided to take up the challenging task. The BSF and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) jointly came up with a suitable design of the fencing to survive in the marshy area with geo-climatic disadvantages.

BORDER OFFICIALS from India and Bangladesh will start the joint border management after October 31 to maintain peace along the common border. The top-level talks between the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) that concluded in Dhaka recently focused on how to bring down the incidence of the border killings to zero level. The joint management is aimed at resolving all outstanding border issues including combating cross-border crimes and enhancing quality of border management as well to ensure cross-border security. Incidentally, the BSF has handed over to the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) a fresh list of Indian insurgents hiding in that country and demanded action against them, even as the latter ruled out presence of rebels in its soil.

Photo: picasaweb/naveensharma

Last stretch of Pak border to be fenced soon

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INTERNAL SECURITY

Govt to form Aviation Security Force?

THE GOVERNMENT is considering a proposal to create a dedicated Aviation Security Force (ASF) in view of increasing terror threats to airports and other aviation infrastructure. The proposal is part of a series of recommendations made by the UNbody International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on restructuring the aviation security system, including the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), official sources said. ICAO was commissioned by the government last year to review the entire gamut of issues relating to aviation security and recommend measures. Its consultants carried out a special study on restructuring BCAS administration, setting up of a dedicated ASF for airports; designing an operational framework for aviation security, striking the right balance between security and passenger facilitation, among other things. The ICAO committee has recently submitted its report to the Civil Aviation Ministry, which would come up for consideration soon. Currently, all airports are guarded by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). It is administratively under the Home Ministry but is guided by the BCAS, which at times creates functional problems. Following certain “glaring lapses” observed during security drills, the government decided to go ahead with a comprehensive review of aviation and airport security. November 2011


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LONG MARCH AHEAD: In spite of numerous attempts made to restructure Indian police forces, we still have a long way to go

TUNING THE INDIAN POLICE

Forty-two years of modernisation of police in India has achieved much less than what was expected, argues AJIT KUMAR SINGH

A

T LEAST 11 people were killed and 91 injured in the bomb explosion carried out by militants at Gate Number 5 of Delhi High Court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. Four of the injured died, raising the death toll to 15. Barely two months before that, at least 26 people were killed and 131 injured, as three near-simultaneous blasts rocked India’s financial capital Mumbai on July 13, 2011. This year alone, 42 people have been killed in four terrorist attacks, outside the theatres of major conflict in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the North-East (NE) and the Left-Wing Extremism (LWE)affected regions. In fact, since the dawn of the 21st century, a total of 41 prominent attacks occurred outside these theatres of conflict, in which 1043 people, including 976 civilians, 44 Security Force www.geopolitics.in

(SF) personnel and 23 militants have been killed. Meanwhile, the fatalities in all types of terrorist violence, including the ones in J&K, LWE and NE, stands at a staggering 33,850. India is unmistakably under an unvarying threat. Turning back to the 1960s when India faced two wars — the Sino-Indian (1962) and the Indo-Pak (1965) — it was realised that the overburdened central forces [Army and Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMFs)] had to be eased from maintaining the exigencies of law and order. Consequently, in 1969-70 the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in collaboration with the state governments, initiated the Modernisation of Police Forces (MPF) scheme. The prime objective of the scheme was to reduce the dependence of the state governments on the central forces to manage internal security and the law

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and order. It was also aimed at identifying deficiencies in various aspects of police establishments and operations. The scheme aims at modernising police forces in terms of:  Police Buildings: Construction of administrative buildings including police stations and outposts;  Police Housing: Construction of residential houses including barracks;  Mobility: Purchase of vehicles and motorcycles including bullet-proof/ mine-proof vehicles;  Weapons: Purchase of arms and ammunition;  Training: Enhancing the infrastructure for training institutes;  Equipment: Purchase of equipments for security, communication, crowd control, protective gear, bomb disposal, aids to investigation, disaster management, etc; November 2011


g INTERNALSECURITY  Police training equipment/training aids;  Physical-training equipment;  Field-craft equipment;  Games equipment;  Computerisation: Use of information and technology in policing;  Forensic Science: Improving forensic science laboratories and infrastructural facilities. The MPF Scheme had been started in the present format, by the MHA, in 19992000 for a period of 10 years, i.e. up to 2009-10. Meanwhile, perturbed by the deteriorating security scenario, the MHA reviewed the MPF Scheme in 2005. The prominent changes brought, thereafter, include:  The states were re-categorised into two groups, namely ‘A’ and ‘B’ providing the Central assistance at 100 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively. Jammu and Kashmir and all the eight North-Eastern states have been classified as ‘A’ category and the remaining 19 states fall in category ‘B’ with effect from 2005-06.  The annual allocation under the MPF Scheme was also enhanced to `16.45 billion.  The new concept of Mega City Policing (MCP) under the MPF Scheme was initiated from the year 2005-06. The MCP covers seven cities — Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Ahmedabad.  Desert policing also was started with Rs 10 million per district for desert districts of Gujarat and Rajasthan.  A special component for strengthening the police stations/outposts in the districts along Indo-Nepal and IndoBhutan borders, involving `10 million per border district per year within the normal MPF allocations was included. Later, during 2008-09, 32 Naxal-affected districts in eight states were allocated `20 million per district, above the normal allocation for construction of new police stations and fortification of police stations. In 2009-10, the Naxal Management Division identified 51 districts in eight states for construction of new police stations, police outposts and fortification of police stations/outposts. In the 83 Naxal-affected districts in nine states, an amount of `20 million per district per annum, within the allocation for MPF, is given to states, for strengthening police infrastructure. Since sanction for the MPF scheme

was only up to the year 2009-10, for a decision to be taken for its continuation, MHA had tasked the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D) to carry out an Impact Assessment of the Scheme. The present proposal is to continue the scheme for one more year, i.e. up to 2010-11, in accordance with the scheme parameters approved in 2005-06 and further modifications made in the scheme in the years 2007 and 2009 with the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The scheme is being implemented in 28 states and seven Union Territories. Though funds have not yet been released to states under the MPF Scheme for 2011-12, the government is to spend `1,018.58 crore in 2011 on policing the whole country. Never theless, what has been achieved in these 42 years in terms of capacitybuilding, recruitment, procurement, training, induction of technology, intelligence-gathering, solving cases and overall improvement in the level of violence and in maintenance of law and order reflects the sorry state of affairs in which our police force finds itself in. Even the prime objective of the scheme to reduce the dependence of the state governments on the central forces to manage internal security and law and order has not been achieved as the state police forces simply lack the number. Despite the state police forces reportedly recruiting 107,238 constables in 2009 and 90,359 in 2010, there are still over 500,000 vacancies in the state police forces. According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB, 2010) data, the police-population ratio (policemen per 100,000 peope) stands at a meagre 133 as against the United Nation’s norm of 222. Further, as against the authorised strength of the Indian Police Service (IPS) of 4,720, there were

3,393 officers in position, as on January 1, 2011, and it will take seven years to reach the optimum level. Deplorably, this is the situation even though five years have passed since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the observation, “Unless the ‘beat constable’ is brought into the vortex of our counter-terrorist (CT) strategy, our capacity to preempt future attacks would be severely limited.” To put it in simple terms, the PM had then advocated for more number of policemen on ground. The intention to identify deficiencies in various aspects of police establishments and operations still remains at large as not all states have enacted the new Police Act nor set up the State Police Establishment Board. The new Police Act itself is questionable. The aim to modernise police forces in terms of police buildings, housing, mobility, weapons, training and computerisation has still not been achieved satisfactorily. Notably, for a population of over 1.21 billion, the Intelligence Bureau’s (IB) total strength of field agents — the officers and personnel actually involved in intelligencegathering — is about 5,000. Even the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram admitted that there had been 11 unsolved terror cases across the country out of the 48 cases being investigated by security agencies since 2000. Thus, the Prime Minister noted, “The grassroots’ information and intelligence-collection systems that have traditionally been a part of policing, have languished and fallen into disuse in some places.” Policemen frequently complain about the mismatch in the quality of weapons and equipment used by them and those employed by the terrorists. According to official documents (continued on page 57)

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PM’S ADDRESS AT THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF DGPs THE SECURITY environment in the country continues to be uncertain. The recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai and Delhi are grim reminders of the grave challenges posed by terrorism to our national security. Over the last one year, Left wing extremism has also claimed the lives of many innocent persons and police personnel. The Home Minister has already briefed you on the large resources that have been deployed by the Government of India in dealing with the problem of Left Wing Extremism. There have been some successes on the ground. But if we seek a decisive change in the situation, then a huge collective and coordinated effort is required both by the Centre and the States acting in concert. The role of the DGPs in leading this effort is crucial and I urge that more focussed attention be given to this problem. We are trying to give a sustained thrust to development

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processes in the Naxalite-affected areas. I met recently with the Collectors of 60 Naxal-affected districts. What they told me shows that there is a ray of hope for the development of these areas provided we show flexibility and innovation in implementing our development agenda. I have asked the Minister of Rural Development and the Planning Commission to make the necessary changes in the rules of these schemes to address some of the concerns and problems expressed by the district officers. I am hopeful that with these changes and the setting-up of Specialised India Reserve Battalions, that will assist directly in these development efforts, there will be some positive difference on the ground. In Jammu and Kashmir, the summer has been peaceful and record numbers of tourists, yatris and pilgrims have visited the state. Voters turned out in large numbers to exercise their democratic franchise in the panchayat elections. The real challenge now will be to meet the high expectations of the people as peace is restored. Empowerment of local bodies will be one critical step in energising the development processes... Despite these positive developments, there is no room for complacency on the security front in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. There are reports of cross-border camps for terrorists being reactivated, and of attempts to induct fresh batches of militants into the country. We need to ensure that such attempts are foiled through smooth and coordinated functioning of all security agencies working in the state... Our human intelligence capabilities need to be improved. The grassroots information and intelligence collection systems that have traditionally been a part of policing have languished or fallen into disuse in some places. The role of a vigilant and effective beat constable can be vital in checking the activities of networks, which otherwise operate under the radar. Some reorientation in the functioning at these cutting-edge levels is necessary and the role of community policing should also be emphasised. Shortage of manpower is another problem and we are trying to address it on a war-footing. At the meeting of the National Integration Council last week, the need for a well-trained and equipped force to deal with riots was underscored. The Rapid Action Force has been discharging such a function with distinction. I would like the Conference to consider ways and means of scaling up the availability of such trained personnel and formations in the state police forces. Sometimes our security forces have to perforce serve in unfamiliar areas far away from their homes. They don’t have adequate understanding of local sensitivities and sometimes

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g INTERNALSECURITY (continued from page 55)

of the language as well. These can be vital handicaps in earning the trust and confidence of local communities. I understand a number of steps have already been taken in this direction, but more needs to be done. As the 26/11 tragedy showed, terrorists use the latest technologies for communication and real-time information sharing. We have therefore to remain one step ahead of our adversaries. With this in mind, connectivity has been established between Subsidiary Multi Agency Centres and State Special Branches. I hope that the NATGRID would enable seamless retrieval and dissemination of data critical to the task of anticipating and pre-empting terrorist attacks. Crowd control techniques in a democracy, where people often vigorously vent their opinions and sometimes their frustrations, have to strike a fine balance between the requirement to maintain law and order and the imperative of using absolutely minimum, non-lethal force. The Jammu and Kashmir Police have improved their capabilities considerably in this regard. We need to keep looking at new methods and methodologies and technologies of handling demonstrations... The constabulary is the mainstay of our police forces, constituting about 87 per cent of their total strength. Improving the image of the constabulary is therefore critical to building public trust in our police forces. The job of a constable is arduous and hazardous. Currently, the constabulary is over-stretched and asked to perform multifarious duties. Many of them find it difficult to get suitable accommodation and are even forced to live in slum areas. All our police stations do not provide basic facilities for women constables. It is not realistic to expect high levels of efficiency unless proper attention is paid to the living and working conditions of our men and women in the police forces. Police personnel must also be adequately trained to upgrade their professional skills and inculcate the right attitude towards the public. Promotions could be linked with training, as is done in the Army. I would urge the Conference to draw up a comprehensive roadmap for police training. Modules on white-collar crimes and cyber crimes will become increasingly important as these types of crimes become more salient. September 16, 2011 New Delhi www.geopolitics.in

FINE-TUNING REQUIRED: There have been numerous attempts to evolve the police forces to meet new challenges

FUNDS RELEASED FOR POLICE MODERNISATION Year 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11

Central funds released `10 billion `10 billion `6.95 billion `7.05 billion `9.60 billion `10.25 billion `10.65 billion `12.48 billion `11.57 billion `12.30 billion `12.24 billion

Source: Ministry of Home Affairs

put together by the MHA in 2010, seven states had fared poorly in modernising their police forces. The MHA noted that the ‘poor performance’ states had outdated and obsolete weapons and, even where modern weapons were supplied, police personnel were not trained for their use. Deficits were also noted in police communication networks, transportation and forensic capabilities.

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Corroborating the fact, this is what Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said after the 13/7 Mumbai attacks on Mumbai, “For over 15 minutes after the bomb blasts, I was unable to get in touch with Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik or any senior police officer or bureaucrat. There was a complete jam in the mobile network…Even the wireless network was not functioning, since it works only within a limited radius.” Chavan further admitted that owing to rampant red tapism and procedural wrangles, his government had not been able to install around 5,000 Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras and had been unable to procure sensitive weapons, bullet-proof jackets and security equipment. Conspicuously, the MPF scheme has achieved much less than what was expected and it has left the police forces on edge to face the existing internal security scenario of the nation. It is, therefore, desirable for the government to reorient its approach towards the scheme to modernise the police forces, enabling them to quell the forces active in destabilising the internal security of the nation. (The author is a Research Fellow, Institute of Conflict Management, Delhi) November 2011


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The Garo National Liberation Army is suspected to have links with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence and is intimidating extremist groups that are in favour of talks and dialogue with the government, comments VERONICA KHANGCHIAN

Photo:silcharchronicle.com

INTERNALSECURITY

EMERGING THREAT IN MEGHALAYA

O

N AUGUST 9, 2011, four Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants, including ‘Deputy Commander-inChief Roster Marak, were killed in an encounter with the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team of Meghalaya police at Bolkengre, a village located just four kilometres from Williamnagar town of East Garo Hills District. The GNLA termed this encounter a ‘national’ tragedy and warned that it would not go unheeded. Intelligence inputs suggest that the Anti-Talk Faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB-ATF) is assisting the GNLA in the planned retaliatory strikes. Significantly, the Security Forces (SFs) have had a few successes against the outfit. In a significant operation, on July 8, 2011, the SFs neutralised a GNLA camp, regularly visited by Sohan D Shira, the ‘Commander-in-Chief’ of the outfit, at Nengmandalgre, eight kilometres from Williamnagar town in East Garo Hills district. The camp was also providing shelter to GNLA’s West Khasi Hills ‘area commander’ Savio Marak, who arrived in the www.geopolitics.in

area ostensibly for a briefing by Shira. Earlier on June 15, the SFs neutralised a GNLA camp located in the foothills of Durama Forest in the same district. Meanwhile, on May 15, 2010, GNLA ‘General Secretary’, Novembirth Marak was arrested from New Jalpaiguri railway station in West Bengal, followed by the arrests of ‘Finance Secretaries’, Solte Marak and Martin Sangma. The South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) records the arrest of 29 GNLA cadres since its inception (till October 9). A total of 33 GNLA militants have surrendered so far. The latest surrender was on September 5, 2011, when four senior cadres of the GNLA surrendered before J K Marak, Superintendent of Police (SP) of East Garo Hills district. Amongst them was Salvision R Sangma alias Kodalok, cousin of Champion R Sangma, ‘Chairman’ of the outfit. According to sources, it is likely that they fled from a GNLA camp in the Durama in Garo Hills. Also on July 24, three militants of the GNLA surrendered at Baghmara in South Garo Hills district. “The trio surrendered following pressure due to the ongoing combing operations against the GNLA militants in

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Garo Hills region,” Deputy Inspector of General of Police (Western Region) said. The most significant surrender, however, was when 20 GNLA militants, led by the ‘Chief Training Instructor’ of the outfit, Mingran T Sangma alias Lodrin T Sangma, surrendered on April 27. Two Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) units of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and five companies of the Border Security Force (BSF) were deployed in the state on July 12, 2011, to tackle the GNLA in the midst of the rise in their activities. This force has been trifurcated, and a group each is based in each of the three district headquarters in the Garo Hills — Tura, Williamnagar and Baghmara, with their area of operations extending up to the West Khasi Hills district. Earlier, 500 CRPF troopers were assisting the Meghalaya Police and its SWAT commandos, to tackle the GNLA. The Meghalaya Police has a total strength of 10,064 personnel, yielding a strong police-population ratio of 391 per 100,000. However, on July 20, 2011, Champion Sangma warned, “Such deployment will only strengthen our commitment to the November 2011


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AGGRESSIVE TACTICS: The GNLA is being hunted down by the security forces across Meghalaya

cause of Garoland and unite all sections of Garo society... The jungles of Garo Hills shall be the graveyard for the so called CoBRA and BSF special forces. We will send them back in body bags.” On July 17, 2011 GNLA militants had threatened to carry out serial blasts across Meghalaya if the combing operations against the outfit were not stopped immediately. However, on July 21, 2011, the GNLA clarified that it had no intention of harming civilians and that its statement was intended to indicate its capability to execute simultaneous attacks on government establishments in the state. On August 4, 2011, GNLA spokesman Nikjang Marak said: “We will attack legislators from Garo Hills and bomb the offices of Congress party and NCP in Garo Hills if the government does not withdraw the CoBRA commandos.” Consequently, the GNLA continues to emerge as the number one threat in the state, which was fast returning to peace prior to the outfit’s creation in 2009. The GNLA was formed by its present ‘chairman’, a former Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Pakchara R Sangma alias Champion R Sangma. The ‘commanderin-chief’ of the outfit , Sohan D Shira is a www.geopolitics.in

former Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) leader. The GNLA reportedly has 70 cadres, of whom an estimated 45 have received arms training. The organisation has a strong presence in the East and South Garo Hills districts. The Durama Hill Range near Dorengchigre area in East Garo Hills is believed to house the GNLA headquarters, where Shira resides. The other major camp of the militant group is at Nengmandalgri of the same District. Fighting for a ‘sovereign Garoland’ in the western areas of Meghalaya, GNLA has reported links with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the NDFB-ATF. The outfit has also forged an alliance with the Bangladesh-based rebel A’chik Special Dragon Party. The GNLA faced a split when Jokin Momin and his associates deserted GNLA to form a breakaway faction, due to differences with GNLA ‘Chairman’ and the ‘Commander-in-Chief’. However, on December 10, 2010, four militants of the breakaway faction, including its leader, Jokin Momin, were killed during an encounter with the commandos of SWAT team at Gajingpara in Resubelpara of East Garo Hills District. Two days later their hideout in Soenang forest area was also busted by a special operations team. On August 16, 2011, GNLA militants, shot dead a truck driver and his helper near Mendipather for violation of 12hour bandh (general shutdown) called by the GNLA to mourn the killing of its cadres. They also exploded a grenade inside the Chokpot Block Office in South Garo Hills District. On the same day, GNLA militants shot dead a 50-year-old man in Changkegre village in the district. Also, on September 27, 2011, heavily armed militants belonging to the GNLA led by ‘area commander’ of South Garo Hills Baichung Momin and his deputy Eudo Ch Momin alias Cellopa ambushed a police patrol in remote Chokpot area of South Garo Hills, 55 kilometres from Tura. Earlier, on August 22, GNLA militants opened fire on a team of SWAT commandos of the state police leading to a brief gun fight at Baija locality on the outskirts of Williamnagar town. Again on September 10, 2011, the GNLA hurled a grenade at a check-point of Transport department in Dainadubi area in East Garo Hills district. On October 3, 2011, the GNLA militants also pillaged seven rifles, including four Single Barrel Breech Loading (SBBL) guns,

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from a forest range office in East Garo Hills. This was reportedly the first major attack by GNLA militants on any government institution to snatch weapons. Mounting pressure on the government to withdraw central forces from the Garo Hills region, the outfit also enforced a three-day dawn-to-dusk shutdown in the three districts of Garo Hills from September 12 to 14. After its success of the total shutdown, the GNLA on September 24, 2011, went a step further threatening to unleash a 10-day shut down in the three districts of Western Meghalaya demanding withdrawal of operations from October 10 to 14 and from October 17 to 21. However, on September 28, 2011, the GNLA called off its proposed 10-day shutdown in Garo Hills. Prior to the deployment of central forces in the region, three policemen were killed and two others sustained injuries as GNLA militants ambushed them at Thapadarenchi village in East Garo Hills District on June 4, 2011. The police have not ruled out the possibility of NDFB-ATF helping GNLA in carrying out the ambush. Significantly, it was on December 7, 2008, when a policeman was last killed by militants in the state. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal database, eighteen persons, including eight civilians, five SF personnel and five militants, have been killed in terrorism-related incidents in the state in 2011 (till October 9), all in incidents related to GNLA. There were 20 fatalities, including 17 militants and three civilians, in 2010, of which four (two civilians and two militants), were related to GNLA. To sustain its activities, GNLA is engaged in extortion from coal-traders, petrol tank owners and local businessmen. On August 4, 2011, suspected GNLA militants shot dead a Nokma (village council chief) of Geldupara village under Garobada Police outpost in West Garo Hills district, for failure to pay extortion money. GNLA had served him a demand notice of `700,000 with the deadline of August 1, 2011. Again on September 7, suspected GNLA militants abducted a contractor from the public health engineering department, Dipak Saha, from Kherapara in the district. On June 29, suspected GNLA militants opened indiscriminate fire on a police outpost in the Dobu area of East Garo Hills district, an area which has been a prime target for extortion from coal barons. According to an April 24, 2011, November 2011


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Photo:easternpanorama.in

INTERNALSECURITY

RESTIVE HILLS: Robinus Syngkon, abducted and released after after 55 days

report, most non-Garo government employees working in the Garo Hills have been abstaining from their duties due to the fear of GNLA militants, who have served demand notes to them asking for up to Rs three million as “donation for the interest and upliftment of the Garo people of Garoland and for making use of the resources of Garo Hills”. An Army source noted, on June 15, “Earlier ULFA was mainly carrying out extortion on the Assam-Meghalaya border. But after most of the ULFA cadres participated in the peace process, the ‘extortion business’ was virtually taken over by other outfits such as the GNLA and Rabha Viper Army.” Reports indicate GNLA’s nexus with politicians in the state. On April 29, 2011, dissident Garo Hills District Congress legislators claimed to have received “threatening” text messages from GNLA militants’, reportedly from Bangladesh, asking them why they did not support Chief Minister (CM) Mukul Sangma. “We have specific inputs which indicate GNLA has some political patronage allowing the outfit to carry out its activities openly,” an unnamed senior police official said on December 10, 2010. A probe by the Meghalaya government is currently on to ascertain whether politicians are “patronising” the GNLA. On his part the, Chief Minister has stated that, “It would be disastrous if any sympathiser is found handin-glove with the group.” Meanwhile, on February 6, 2011, it was www.geopolitics.in

reported that the GNLA was offering a ‘better package’ to attract police constables in the state to its fold. Unconfirmed sources suggest that the GNLA was offering a monthly package from `400,000 to `500,000 to police personnel to join the outfit, and there are increasing worries that this may tempt at least some policemen to break ranks. A senior police official said that GNLA was offering between `10,000 and `15,000 as salaries to encourage the unemployed youth of the state to join them.

SUSTAINED OPERATIONS AGAINST GNLA MAY FORCE IT TO THE NEGOTIATING TABLE The GNLA rise has worried other, now peaceful groups, in Meghalaya. The Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC), currently under a truce with the Government of India (GoI), has asked for its weapons to returned, which were deposited at the time of the ceasefire in 2004, to protect themselves from the GNLA. In what could be an indication of intensified rivalry between the outfits, the ANVC accused the GNLA of trying to

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poach its cadres by offering up to `3 million. The ANVC also claimed that the GNLA was working with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). An ANVC release stated, on July 7, 2011, “ANVC’s intelligence bureau has confirmed the GNLA’s connection with the ISI and that Champion R Sangma is in Bangladesh channelising all other organisations of the North-East which are getting the support of the ISI.” These questions had been raised earlier, and Champion Sangma had, in May 2010, denied any link with the ISI, declaring, “The ISI and several jihadi groups extended help to the GNLA but I refused.” However, again on August 25, 2011, the ANVC termed the GNLA as a stooge of the Assam-based anti-talk militant groups, NDFB and ULFA that are under the control of Pakistani ISI. Reiterating its stand that the GNLA was trying to exploit the people and disturb the ongoing peace process in Garo hills, the ANVC leader said that his cadres would go to any extent to thwart such exploitative elements. The ANVC on August 15 had told ULFA and NDFB to leave the Garo Hills region. The GNLA threatened to carry out several retaliatory attacks in protest against the central forces deployment in the jungles of the Durama Hill range and the Balpakram National Park range, where the group is also believed to have bases. The Durama hill range is a tri-junction connecting the three districts of Garo Hills — West, East and South Garo Hills. “As the operations have been intensified, we have learnt that GNLA militants have been forced to move to other safer places,” an unnamed police official said on July 18, 2011, adding that before fleeing Durama, the GNLA militants destroyed six of their camps. There are apprehensions that the GNLA militants could escape into neighbouring West Khasi Hills and Assam, while some of them could cross over into Bangladesh. In a significant development, however, BSF and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB), on July 8, 2011, agreed to share real-time information to capture trans-border criminals and militants. If sustained, the deployment of additional forces and aggressive operations against the GNLA will have inevitable impact on this group, and may well force it to the negotiating table, even if a quick end to its capacities cannot be secured. (The author is a Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management ) November 2011


geopolitics

DIPLOMACY LOOKING EAST It is the Asia-Pacific region where India faces both challenges and opportunities in projecting its global role

THE BURMA ROAD

A STRATEGIC PARTNER IN AFGHANISTAN


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REGIONALWATCH

THE AFGHAN

ENDGAME

India is slowly but steadily evolving a proactive approach to consolidate and promote its interests in a post-2014 Afghanistan that will be without the presence of American troops, writes SD MUNI

I

NDIA CANNOT afford to watch helplessly the unfolding endgame of the “global war on terror” in Afghanistan whose contours are uncertain and fraught with consequences that may threaten to pose a formidable security challenge to India and the whole region. After being involved in helping Afghanistan build its democratic institutions and stimulate economic development with investments going beyond $2 billion, dimensions of India’s response to deal with the fallout of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, though it may not be complete and decisive, are gradually becoming clear. The most critical aspect of India’s response is to deepen its bilateral stakes and strengthen its overall political, strategic and economic presence in Afghanistan. The second dimension of India’s approach seems to be to help evolve a regional strategic cushion that can deter forces of extremism and terrorism in post-US Afghanistan. Thirdly, while working at the bilateral and regional levels, India would like to see the international community and the US remain as engaged in Afghanistan as possible. In the context of India’s bilateral relations with Afghanistan, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Sing’s visit to Kabul in www.geopolitics.in

May 2011 and President Hamid Karzai’s return call to New Delhi in early October would go down as landmark events. The outcome of these two visits has been the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between the two countries in New Delhi on October 4, 2011. This agreement clearly and unambiguously underlines the political and strategic thrust of India’s developmental partnership with Afghanistan. Under this agreement, India and Afghanistan have established “regular bilateral political and foreign office consultations…with once-a-year summit level consultations”, agreed to take “joint initiatives on key regional and international issues” and also put in “mutual efforts towards strengthening regional peace and security”. India has further undertaken to “assist, as mutually determined, in the training, equipping and capacity-building programmes for Afghan national security forces”. The strategic partnership agreement does not specifically preclude the stationing of Indian troops in Afghanistan, under “mutually determined” ‘training equipping and capacity-building’ arrangements. But it would be misleading to interpret the language of the agreement as a prelude to landing forces in that country to compliment or supplement the downsizing US and NATO

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forces, as is being alleged in certain quarters, specially the Pakistani media. New Delhi certainly is not so imprudent as to assume that it could deliver what the US and all its allies put together have failed to do so far. Nor is it out of its wits to get involved into Afghan internal conflict directly and militarily knowing fully well that historically no conflict in Afghanistan has been resolved militarily. However, India’s participation in training and capacity-building of the Afghan national security forces may be a bit more effective as India does not suffer from any stigma of being an alien western and interventionist power in Afghanistan. It enjoys wider goodwill with the Afghan people as brought out in recent international surveys and has an easy way of establishing rapport with the Afghan national forces where Tajik officers have a major role in its command and control structure. By getting involved in the training process, India would be able to have a better feel of the ground reality in Afghanistan conflict and reinforce those forces in Afghanistan which are detrimental to the rise of the Taliban. It is also useful to keep in mind that security dimension is not the only component of the strategic partnership. India has also decided to enter into the area of November 2011


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HISTORIC PARTNERSHIP: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai exchanging documents of an agreement on Strategic Partnership

mineral and hydrocarbon resource extraction, which had so far remained dominated by the US and China. This would enable Afghanistan to strike better bargains with the countries operating in this vital sector of the Afghan economy and would also help India in its search of energy security and mineral imports. In no way is India’s strategic partnership with Afghanistan a reaction either to the assassination in September 2011 of the former Afghan president and president Karzai’s principal Afghan negotiator with the Taliban, Burhanuddin Rabbani or to the widening gulf between Pakistan and the US in the war against terrorism. The question of strategic partnership had been under discussion between Kabul and New Delhi much before Rabbani’s assassination, at least since January 2011, when Foreign Minister SM Krishna visited Kabul. Krishna’s Kabul mission was to initiate discussions on the security cooperation between the two countries and the Joint Declaration issued at the end of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kabul on May 12, 2011, spelled out all the key elements of the Strategic Partnership. The Prime Minister said in his press conference: www.geopolitics.in

The President shared with me the political processes underway towards reconciliation and plans of the government and the people of Afghanistan to assume full ownership of their security and development efforts. India supports these efforts. We have experience in the political and security areas which we think is relevant to Afghanistan.

INDIA WILL NEVER GET INVOLVED IN ANY FUTURE AFGHAN INTERNAL CONFLICT DIRECTLY As regards the US and its relations with Pakistan, Prime Minister Singh had also stated in Kabul that India would not be like the US in its role in the neighbouring region. He even emphasised the importance of regional cooperation in search of peace, which could include not only India

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and Afghanistan but also Pakistan. It is, however, obvious that both the US and the Karzai regime desperately need to put more pressure on Pakistan to deter it from deviations from the expected cooperation and sincere commitment in fighting terrorism. Sections of the Pakistan Army have continued to patronise groups like the Haqqani network, which has been at the forefront of numerous attacks in Kabul and on the US and NATO security forces in the recent years. The US Secretary of State publicly blamed Pakistan for nursing “snakes in its backyard, which bite Pakistan’s neighbours”. Both the US and the Karzai regime have been frustrated by Pakistan in seeking a meaningful engagement with the Taliban and its hardened sections like the one led by Haqqani group. Pakistan’s Army chief, General Kayani has defiantly proclaimed that Pakistan will not conduct operations against the Haqqani group. Therefore, both the US and the Karzai regime have been looking for ways and means to bring a recalcitrant Pakistan on line. India’s increased strategic presence and role in Afghanistan could well be one of the important factors in pushing Pakistan towards the desired direction. That is why the US promptly endorsed India-Afghan strategic partnership agreement as a positive development. This amounts to a notable shift in the US position as it had so far been resisting increased Indian involvement, particularly in security matters, in Afghanistan to keep Pakistan in good humour. If there was no US resistance all these years, the India-Afghanistan strategic partnership could have been signed much earlier, even before the US declaration of its drawdown strategy. That frustration with Pakistan has made the US realise the significance of India’s role in Afghanistan is obvious. Afghan President Karzai’s recent statement to come to Pakistan’s help “if it is attacked by US or India and if Pakistan seeks our (Afghanistan’s) help” should not be seen as a dilution of Afghanistan’s strategic partnership with India. The statement, read in its totality and the specific context objectively, is indeed meant to instil a sense of seriousness and purpose in Pakistan in the fight against terrorism. Besides firming bilateral relations with Afghanistan, India has also been exploring the possibility of regional support for a peaceful, stable, democratic November 2011


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ISLAMABAD’S DILEMMA: Afghan Defence Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak meeting Defence Minister AK Antony in New Delhi

and moderate Afghanistan. Neighbours such as Iran, Russia, Central Asian Republics, China and Pakistan are of critical significance in this respect. India has opened serious dialogue with Iran and Russia on this subject as these three countries were supporting the ‘Northern Alliance’, which fought against the Taliban in the 1990s. There are signs of improving understanding between India and Iran on Afghanistan as was evident during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with the Iranian President Ahmedinejad in September on the sidelines of UN General Assembly meeting. Iran is critical to India’s access to Afghanistan and Central Asia in view of Pakistan’s uncompromising hostility. India has also opened the channels of communication with the Central Asian Republics for exploring options in the Afghan endgame. In the last days of October a host of Afghan and Central Asian ministers had informal consultations in New Delhi in this respect. China is playing its cards carefully, exploiting Afghan natural resources under the prevailing US-led security structure but keeping away from any involvement in conflict and security issues. China does not want to alienate Pakistan but is also unsure if Pakistan would be able to protect and www.geopolitics.in

SECTIONS OF THE PAKISTAN ARMY CONTINUE TO PATRONISE GROUPS LIKE THE HAQQANI NETWORK promote its interests in Afghanistan on the long-term basis. India would be happy to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan and strengthen regional cooperation between the three neighbours within or outside the SAARC framework. It is keen to join regional projects such as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline (TAPI) and the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline. The bilateral and regional dimensions of India’s response to the unfolding Afghan situation are not in conflict with the role of the US and its NATO allies. As noted, the US has already endorsed India’s strategic partnership with Afghanistan. The US is also keeping in touch with other regional actors, with the

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exception of Iran, like Russia, China, Central Asian Republics and, of course, Pakistan, in evolving viable options for a stable and terrorism-free Afghanistan. It is willing to evolve a negotiated arrangement with the sections of Taliban, even by offering them a place in Afghanistan’s future power structure, but not on the terms dictated by the extremists. The Karzai regime has organised a Loya Jirge in November 2011 to deliberate upon and approve a new US-Afghanistan plan for reconciliation with the Taliban. India values continuing US engagement in Afghanistan, which will contribute to the stability of the region while keeping a constructive pressure on Pakistan. India’s strategic partnership with Afghanistan is a bold and courageous move. It enhances India’s stakes in Afghanistan and its presence in the unfolding endgame. In doing so, India has ignored the consequences of Pakistan’s displeasure and even Chinese unhappiness on a possible competition in the resource sector. The implementation of this strategic partnership will, in no case, be easy and smooth. The biggest of the inherent challenges is that Afghanistan does not change its track with India either under external pressures or under the exigencies of complex internal ethnic politics. Any possible outbreak of a civil war within Afghanistan after the retreat of international forces may also highly complicate and undermine India’s role and standing. India’s move in Afghanistan is comparable to India’s initiatives in relation to Myanmar and Vietnam, where India’s growing strategic proximity has made China uneasy. In the recent months, India has also moved to smoothen some of its lingering rough edges in its relations with other immediate neighbours such as Bangladesh and Nepal. In all these countries, China is pursuing an assertive economic and strategic diplomacy to expand its political presence. In the overall regional context, the shreds of India’s pro-active approach are a welcome departure from its stale reactive responses. One hopes this confident regional approach gathers a momentum and is sustained to India’s advantage by matching the Chinese resilience and resources. (The author is Visiting Research Professor, Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore) November 2011


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DIPLOMACY

TOWARDS A BIGGER ROLE

IN ASIA-PACIFIC

India’s ‘Look East’ policy is not merely an external economic policy. It is about reaching out to our civilisational neighbours in South East Asia and East Asia. Of late, the policy has been marked also by a strategic shift in India’s vision of the world and India’s place in the evolving global economy, writes CHIETIGJ BAJPAEE

I

T HAS been two decades since India launched its much-vaunted ‘Look East’ policy. While India’s engagement with the Asia-Pacific region is by no means new, the fact that our long-standing cultural and historical links are now complemented by growing interdependence forged by economic integration and shared transnational security concerns, serves to forge a stronger bond with the Asia-Pacific region. India’s trading links with East Asia stretch back two millennia to the Silk Road and Calicut emerging as a major

trading port in South Asia while cultural and religious bonds date back to Emperor Asoka’s spread of Buddhism beyond the subcontinent in the third century BC. The exchange of pilgrims, explorers, and traders continued until the onset of British rule over India in the 18th century, after which India ceased to be an independent actor on the international stage. India’s contact with East Asia became subordinated to colonial rivalries as Indian opium and soldiers were used to gain markets and quash rebellions in other parts of Asia, including China and

Malaya. During the World War II, the Stilwell Road served as a vital transit route to shuttle supplies from India to the antiJapanese forces in China, and Subhash Chandra Bose’s short-lived Indian National Army formed an alliance with Imperial Japan. Under India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, India reengaged with East Asia under his grand vision of an “Asiatic Federation of Nations.” The Asian Relations Conference held in New Delhi on April 2, 1947, served as the earliest attempt by New Delhi to orient itself toward East

MUTUAL CONSENSUS: The conclusion of free-trade agreements has been a crucial foundation of India’s ‘Look East’ policy

www.geopolitics.in

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November 2011


EAST ASIAN FAMILY: The ‘Look East Policy’ has been marked by a strategic shift in India’s vision of the world and its place in the evolving global economy

Asia within the framework of the modern nation-state system. Nehru along with Indonesian President Sukarno and Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai took the helm of the campaign to forge an Asian identity by combining Asia’s struggle against Western imperialism and decolonisation with the principles of socialism, national sovereignty, equality, and a developing-world solidarity. This manifested in the “Bandung spirit” of 1955, which became the precursor for the Non-Aligned Movement and the Asia-Africa Summit. These historical and cultural linkages with the East Asia region continue to hold relevance in India’s interaction with the region by offering leverage for commercial and strategic advantage. This was manifested at India’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi in January 2011 where the chief guest was Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, harking back to the cordiality of the Nehru-Sukarno relationship of the immediate post-colonial period. The voyage of the Indian Navy’s only sailing ship, the INS Tarangani, across the sea-lanes of Southeast Asia this year also served to reaffirm India’s long-standing maritime linkages with Asia. Similarly, the Pan-Asian Nalanda Initiative, which aims to revive the 3,000-year-old educational institution, as well as the liberalisation of the visa regime for Buddhist scholars to visit India, aims to reassert India’s cultural bonds with the region. The conclusion of free-trade agreements has been a crucial foundation of India’s ‘Look East’ policy. In Southeast Asia, India’s road toward free trade began with the conclusion of an early harvest scheme with Thailand in 2004, which was followed by the more substantive Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Singapore in 2005. The implementation of the CECA with Malaysia in July 2011 supplements the CECA that came into

force with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (of which Malaysia is a member) in January 2010, as the former includes trade in both goods and in services while the latter is presently limited to goods. This will facilitate the cross-border movement of skilled service sector professionals and investments.

HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL LINKS WITH EAST ASIA CONTINUE TO BE RELEVANT IN INDIA TODAY In Northeast Asia, the conclusion of the India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in February 2011 will serve to deepen economic interdependence between both economies. Japan is currently India’s sixthlargest source of foreign investment, which includes such high-profile projects as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), which has received a third of its funding from Japan in the form of $100 billion in soft loans. The pharmaceutical sector in both countries also stands to benefit from the CEPA given that Japan is the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market while India is a leading producer of generic drugs, which has been granted accelerated registration under the CEPA. This follows in the footsteps of the CEPA with South Korea that was concluded in 2009, which has offered greater market access for Indian pharmaceutical and IT-enabled services. On the security front, the maritime domain has emerged as the main sphere of cooperation between India and South-

east Asia given a shared interest in maintaining the free flow of maritime trade and transport, the need for a joint approach in addressing humanitarian disasters, and mutual concerns in combatting the scourge of maritime piracy, illicit trafficking, and the latent threat of maritime terrorism. Several Southeast Asian countries have taken part in the biennial Milan naval exercises with India since they commenced in 1995, including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, while India has also conducted joint naval exercises with Singapore (SIMBEX) since 1993 and with Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia as part of the Search and Rescue Operations (SAREX) since 1997. While Singapore was the catalyst for India’s strategic re-engagement with Southeast Asia in the immediate postCold War period, India’s relations with Indonesia is emerging as the cornerstone of India’s role in the region in the 21st century. As major regional maritime powers both countries maintain a shared interest in protecting Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean region. This has manifested in their signing of a strategic partnership and defence cooperation agreement in 2005 and 2006 respectively, joint naval exercises since 1996 and coordinated patrols in the Andaman Sea since 2003. While there has been growing attention over the US rapprochement with Vietnam, no less significant are reports of India’s burgeoning strategic cooperation with Vietnam. India has been conducting joint naval exercises with Vietnam since 2000, which has been complemented by reports that Indian Navy vessels have been offered permanent berthing rights at Na Thrang port. This would play a significant role in India’s goal of establishing a “sustainable maritime presence” in the South China (continued on page 68)

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November 2011


g AMBASSADOR’SJOURNAL

TRUE STRATEGIC PARTNERS KIM JOONG-KEUN, South Korea’s Ambassador to India, feels that the current impressive bilateral trade and investment figures notwithstanding, the true potential of the relationship still remains untapped

K

orea and India established diplomatic relations in 1973 after 11 years of consular relations. Ever since, the bilateral relations have maintained the momentum of steady growth. Our relationship reached its recent new high in January 2010 when the two countries implemented the Korea-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and also entered into a Strategic Partnership during the landmark State Visit of His Excellency Lee Myung-bak, President of the Republic of Korea to India. The recent State Visit of President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil to Korea in July gave further momentum to our evolving strategic partnership. Bilateral trade and investment between Korea and India have been rising steadily since India opened its economy in the early 1990s. From $1 billion in 1991, the bilateral trade volume has substantially grown to $17 billion in 2010 and the volume is expected to reach $21 billion in 2011. The CEPA has acted as a catalyst and helped register significant growth in bilateral trade. From January to August this year, the bilateral trade has increased to $14 billion, which represents a 29 per cent increase over the same period in the previous year. Our investment relation has also made spectacular progress with Korean investment in India and Indian investment in Korea steadily rising. The two-way investment has now reached around $4 billion. Around 400 Korean companies are doing business in India. For quite a long time, major Korean companies continue to remain household names. Today, Hyundai Motors has 20 per cent market share in car market, while LG and Samsung have 40 to 60 with growing impact on the Indian market. The current impressive bilateral trade and investment figures, notwithstanding, the true commercial potential of the two countries still

Photo:cii.in

BANKING ON THE FUTURE: South Korean Ambassadaor Kim Joong-Keun (right) says the economic exchanges between India and South Korea have yet to reach their full potential

www.geopolitics.in

remains untapped, beckoning our governments and entrepreneurs. There are vast areas for further cooperation that remain to be tapped by both countries. For instance, areas such as automobile sector, information and communication technology, shipbuilding, construction and infrastructure, civil nuclear and renewable energy, defence industry and science and technology have huge potential for bilateral cooperation. The entrepreneurs of our two countries with the active support of our respective governments are determined to realise the untapped potentials. Korea and India enjoy close relations with each other in political field, too. Since the end of the Cold War, the political relations between the two countries have steadily developed and strengthened by exchange of high-level visits and cooperation in important policy matters. With the upgradation of ties to Strategic Partnership, bilateral relationship has now expanded beyond the traditional areas of cooperation to include security and defense cooperation. However, there is further scope to enhance cooperation on mutual political and security issues. The two countries can establish regular political dialogue at summit and ministerial level and increase parliamentary exchanges. Acting as strategic partners, both can work together to promote peace and stability in Asia, enhance cooperation in tackling non-conventional security threats such as terrorism, piracy, drug-trafficking, embark on enduring defence relations, besides working together to help shape the contours of emerging Asian regional architecture. At a time when the two countries are sharing increasing cooperation in economic and political fields, cultural and people to people exchanges are also experiencing steady growth. However, they still remain below the desired level. Our two governments are celebrating the year 2011 as Year of Korea in India and Year of India in Korea to promote mutual awareness and understanding of each other’s culture. Befitting the time, we are also going to open Korean Culture Centre by the early next year. Our two sides are negotiating Visa Facilitation Agreement and a new Civil Aviation Agreement to give a fillip to peopleto-people contacts. Both Korea and India are committed to develop comprehensive bilateral relations. We are hopeful that with growing engagement across the spectrum, we will be able to break new ground and achieve many more milestones in the coming years.

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November 2011


g DIPLOMACY (continued from page 66)

Sea. Confirming India’s deepening relations with both countries, Indonesia and Vietnam, have expressed interest in procuring the joint India-Russia developed Brahmos supersonic cruise missile. In Northeast Asia, India maintains a ‘strategic and global partnership’ with Japan. Both countries’ participated in the tsunami relief regional core group in the Indian Ocean in 2004 (along with Australia and the United States), which emerged as a catalyst for wider strategic cooperation as manifested in the IndiaJapan Global Partnership Summit in September and the US-Japan-India trilateral dialogue in October. India has also forged a strategic partnership with South Korea, which has contributed to bilateral cooperation in sensitive areas such as the former launching satellites for the latter. India also maintains a Comprehensive Partnership with Mongolia, which culminated in the signing of a defence pact during the visit of Indian President Pratibha Patil to Ulaanbaatar in July 2011. India’s participation in a plethora of regional forums has served to solidify India’s role in the East Asia region. India became a sectoral dialogue partner with ASEAN in 1992, a full dialogue partner in 1995, a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum in 1996, and a summit-level partner (on par with China, Japan and Korea) in 2002. India acceded to ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in 2003, which was a precondition to the country being admitted as a founding member of the East Asia Summit in 2005. New Delhi played host to the second India-ASEAN Business Council meeting in March, which came after a gap of six years. India has also appointed an ambassador to ASEAN while Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna has called for IndiaASEAN ties to be upgraded to a “strategic partnership”. Cambodia is the country coordinator for India in ASEAN and is scheduled to assume the chair of the grouping in 2012, which will coincide with New Delhi hosting the first IndiaASEAN commemorative summit. India is also a member of a number of track-two (non-governmental) dialogues such as the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific and numerous sub-regional forums, including the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), the Ganga-Mekong Cooperation Project (GMCP) and the Kunming Initiative in the Indo-China region. India is www.geopolitics.in

SHARED HERITAGE: India’s new approach is about reaching out to civilisational neighbours in South East Asia and East Asia

also a participant of several cross-regional forums, including the BRICS (BrazilRussia-India-China-South Africa) forum and the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP), which aims to forge a ‘united front’ between developing world, emerging powers. Finally, India has participated in functional initiatives such as the Asian Energy Ministerial Roundtable that held its first meeting in New Delhi in 2005. This forum, which held its latest meeting in Kuwait in April 2011, brings together Asia’s major oil-consuming countries and engages in a dialogue with major oil-producing countries with the aim of forging a coordinated approach toward shared energy security concerns. Notwithstanding all this, a word of caution is required here. Despite the exuberance of India’s deepening interaction with East Asia, the rhetoric of India’s interdependence with the region should not be exaggerated and the possibility of its marginalisation cannot be underestimated given the low base from which economic integration and strategic interaction are proceeding. For instance, though the India-Malaysia CECA aims to boost bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2015, India is presently only Malaysia’s 13th largest trading partner. In contrast, China is Malaysia’s leading trade partner. More broadly, India-ASEAN trade stands at over $55 billion (with a target of $70 billion by 2012), making India the Southeast Asian bloc’s seventh-largest trading partner. This pales in comparison with ASEAN’s bilateral trade with China ($293 billion), Japan ($160 billion) and South

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Korea ($74 billion). Similarly, while the India-Japan FTA aims to double bilateral trade to $25 billion by 2014, India presently accounts for less than one per cent of Japan’s total trade while Japan is only India’s 11th largest trading partner. Driving the slow pace and superficial level of interaction between India and East Asia is the fact that sectors in which India maintains a comparative advantage — including information technology, pharmaceuticals and retail — have traditionally oriented themselves towards western markets. However, this cannot be sustainable given a loss of consumer demand and market access in the United States and Europe amid the on-going public debt crises and the possibility of growing protectionist tendencies. This has added to the urgency of deepening India’s economic integration with East Asia, which has emerged as the focal point of the world’s economic dynamism. The region presently accounts for only a third of India’s total trade, which has the potential for further growth given forecasts that Asia as a whole will account for almost half of world GDP, a third of global trade and a quarter of global military spending by the end of the decade. A similar lack of depth can be seen at the strategic level. The fragility of India’s strategic role in the region is illustrated by the fact that the rhetoric of India forging an “arc of democracies” in Asia along with Japan, the United States and Australia, which emerged under the administrations of George W Bush in the United States and Shinzo Abe in Japan, has since November 2011


g DIPLOMACY noted by their latest defence white papers. Both Tokyo and Canberra have opted for a lower-profile bilateral security arrangement with New Delhi rather than the multilateral process proposed by the former Quadrilateral Initiative, reaffirming that the essence of the so-called “arc of democracies” initiative remains alive despite its’ toned-down rhetoric. Nonetheless, these sudden shifts in policy toward India by Asian powers, which is often reflective of changes in governments, party ideology or knee-jerk reactions to perceived changes in the strategic environment, illustrate that India’s engagement with East Asia is still not sufficiently institutionalised to warrant claims that India maintains an undisputed role in East Asia. lost momentum. The Barack Obama administration’s focus on reviving the US economy, which entails maintaining cordial relations with China as the dominant emerging economy and leading holder of US government debt, has led to any notions of forging an “arc” against China to be downgraded as a foreign policy priority in Washington. A shift in priorities of the other countries in the so-called “arc” — Japan and Australia — has led to its further decline; the victory of the Labour Party in Australia’s general elections in November 2007 leading to Sinophile Kevin Rudd assuming the premiership (until June 2010), coupled with Australia’s growing resource interdependence with China has led Canberra to abandon any realpolitik notions of containing China. Similarly, Japan, while retaining its concerns over China’s hegemonic ambitions, has been preoccupied with internal tensions amid a string of weak and short-lived governments and structural economic deficiencies. Instead, both countries have opted for more inclusive regional architecture, as highlighted by Rudd’s proposal for an Asia-Pacific Community and former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s proposal for an East Asian Community. Both countries’ notable absence from the Malabar-2008 naval exercises between the United States and India, which included the navies of Australia, Japan and Singapore in 2007, has reaffirmed their attempt to tone down their anti-China rhetoric, though Japan has been part of subsequent exercises. To be sure, both Australia and Japan remain wedded to the need to hedge against the rise of a hegemonic China as www.geopolitics.in

AUSTRALIA AND JAPAN REMAIN WEDDED AGAINST THE RISE OF A HEGEMONIC CHINA Reinforcing India’s superficial engagement with the region is the fact that while India has got a seat at the table of several regional forums, it has yet to shape the rules of the regional architecture of which it is a member. Geoffrey Pyatt, principal deputy secretary for South and Central Asian affairs at the US State Department, has called on India to move beyond ‘Look East’ and instead adopt a ‘Be East’ policy by playing a more proactive role in shaping the trajectory of regional integration. US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton echoed these views during a recent speech in Chennai where she called on India to “not just to look east but engage east and act east as well”. Underlying New Delhi’s inability to be a proactive shaper of regional security is the fact that it lacks a strategic vision of its role in the region. This has fuelled its inability to exploit shifts in the regional strategic environment. For instance, China has demonstrated a growing proclivity toward abandoning its self-professed mantra of maintaining a low profile by adopting increasingly confrontational and aggressive posturing with neighbours, including Japan, South Korea and several Southeast Asian countries on

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maritime territorial disputes. This could offer India an opportunity to expand its influence in the East Asia region by deepening relations with countries along China’s periphery. However, New Delhi has so far remained on the side-lines of maritime territorial disputes in East Asia despite the fact that it has both the interest and resources to offer assistance in ensuring freedom of navigation along vital SLOCs. This includes the fact that more than 50 per cent of India’s trade passes through the Strait of Malacca, the country maintains the world’s fifth-largest navy and a Far Eastern Naval Command off Port Blair on the Andaman Islands that straddles the South China Sea, and the Indian Navy has an established record of acting in the region as noted by its humanitarian assistance following the Asian tsunami of 2004 and Cyclone Nargis that struck Myanmar in 2008. To be sure, such a role in the region is unlikely to go unchallenged as noted by reports in July that the INS Airavat received radio contact from someone claiming to be the ‘Chinese Navy’ that requested the vessel depart disputed waters in the South China Sea after completing a port call in Vietnam. Similarly, India maintains a vested interest in a peaceful and denuclearised Korean peninsula given the long-standing symbiotic relationship between Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme and North Korea’s ballistic missile programme. A regional conflagration would also alter the dynamics of the US-China relationship and thus the regional balance of power. Finally, North Korea’s nuclear brinkmanship could further delay India’s recognition as a status quo nuclear power by demonstrating the “dark side” of nuclear proliferation, even though India maintains a strong record on nuclear non-proliferation. Nonetheless, despite a brief role as mediator between China and the United States during the Korean War, New Delhi has played a marginal role in bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula. Perhaps the most significant impediment to India’s ‘Look East’ policy lies within India itself as bureaucratic and political bottlenecks continue to make the country a complex and difficult investment and operating environment. While the conclusion of free-trade agreements with several East Asian economies have facilitated equity investment opportunities in India, local laws have yet to be amended to facilitate such investments. November 2011


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GOODWILL VISIT: The President of Vietnam, Tsruong Tan Sang, inspecting the Guard of Honour, at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi

Bureaucratic delays continue to act as an impediment for FDI in several key growth sectors in India. For instance, despite the conclusion of the India-South Korea CEPA, Seoul’s largest investment in India — a proposed integrated steel plant in the state of Odisha by POSCO (Pohang Iron and Steel Company) — continues to face delays amid inconsistencies in India’s mining policy. While the $12-billion project was given conditional environmental clearance in May 2011, the state government has yet to transfer land for the project six years after its inception while the MoU between POSCO and the state government lapsed in June 2011. Despite the appeal of India’s stellar growth, growing middle class, high-savings rates and dynamic private sector, Asian companies will continue to adopt a cautious approach toward investing in India in the absence of further progress in implementing India’s second generation of reforms. These include accelerating the process of disinvestment of public-sector utilities, raising FDI limits (in such sectors as retail, defence and insurance), improving transport, power and agricultural infrastructure, relaxing fuel and agricultural subsidies, dismantling the industrial licencing regime, addressing issues of corporate governance and corruption and other reforms aimed at improving the basic operating environment in India, including the development of a more flexible labour market, improving judicial efficiency, strengthening enforcement of intellectual property rights, and improving the provision of education. Reaching the full potential of India’s ‘Look East’ ambitions would also entail exploiting trade and transport linkages www.geopolitics.in

INDIA’S ROAD TO FREE TRADE BEGAN WITH AN EARLY HARVEST SCHEME WITH THAILAND through countries that share contiguous land and maritime borders with Southeast Asia, namely Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma). With respect to Bangladesh, despite an improving bilateral relationship under the Awami League government in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s potential to emerge as a transhipment hub between East Asia and India still remains underexploited amid bureaucratic delays and an underlying trust-deficit between both countries. This was evidenced during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s most recent visit to Dhaka in September during which both sides failed to reach an agreement on allowing Indian goods to be shipped through Chittagong and Mongla ports as a quid-pro-quo for a lack of progress on water-sharing along the Teesta and the Feni rivers. Furthermore, a swing back toward another Bangladesh National Party (BNP)-led government could fuel a renewed deterioration in the bilateral relationship. Similarly, despite New Delhi’s adoption of a more pragmatic approach toward Myanmar through engagement with the military junta regime since 1993, New Delhi has remained second fiddle to Beijing in the country. India has been unable to

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exploit its geographic advantage and unique historical position as an ally of Myanmar’s three poles of influence (military junta regime, popular democratic forces and ethnic groups) to push for a ‘middle-path’ approach toward political reconciliation and economic reform, which the United States is now attempting under its policy of ‘principled’ or ‘pragmatic engagement’. While New Delhi has initiated several high-profile infrastructure and investment projects in the country, is Myanmar’s fourth-largest source of foreign investment and is one of only eight countries to regularly supply Myanmar’s military with armaments, this has failed to translate into a policy of expanded influence in the form of direct overland access to the resources and markets of Southeast Asia. This has been fuelled by persistent security concerns in India’s northeast and precarious political relations with China. Finally, India’s ‘Look East’ policy cannot realise its full potential in the absence of greater integration and cooperation within the sub-region where India resides. In South Asia underlying mistrust, notably between India and Pakistan, has resulted in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) playing a limited role in forging regional integration. While intra-regional trade has blossomed in East and Southeast Asia, accounting for over 50 per cent and 25 per cent of total trade, respectively, in South Asia intra-subregional trade has been stagnant at a dismal 4 per cent, even though the South Asia Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) has been in place since 1995 and the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) went into force in 2006. Steps have been taken to overcome sub-regional barriers toward regional integration, most notably through the exclusion of Pakistan from cross-regional forums such as BIMSTEC and GMCP. However, this has coincided with the parallel development of China playing an increasingly prominent role in South Asia’s economic and strategic affairs, as noted by China emerging as a leading trade partner, source of foreign investment and provider of military hardware to several countries in the region. This has prompted concerns that rather than becoming a leading player in East Asia, India threatens to be displaced by China within its own neighbourhood of South Asia. (A political-risk consultant, the author is at King’s College, London) November 2011


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DIPLOMACY

NEW BEGINNINGS

Myanmar President Thein Sein’s visit to India on October 12, 2011, underlined once again the significance of Indo-Myanmar relations. Given the geographical, ethnic, cultural and linguistic proximities, Myanmar is becoming an integral part of India’s ‘Look East Policy’, argues PM HEBLIKAR

I

NDIA’S IMMEDIATE neighbourhood has undergone a strategic transformation in the past two to three years with the new governments assuming office through the parliamentary route in Bangladesh and Myanmar. The present situation in the east is most gratifying from India’s point of view, especially referring to developments in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Both are key factors of India’s “Look East Policy” (LEP), which is an engine for regional stability, security, prosperity and development. It is a far cry from the days when a large body of Indian insurgent groups operated at will from sanctuaries offered from across the border. The rise of the Awami League government to power in 2008 changed equations dramatically. It put paid to anti-India activities on its soil and reined in fundamentalist forces operating there at the behest of a third country. The newly-elected President Thein Sein of Myanmar has just visited India. This was his third visit overseas after Jakarta and Beijing, which had various implications. The presidential entourage included a large ministerial delegation and the presence of major economic ministries in the delegation

NEW BEGINNING: The fact that President Thein Sein chose to

visit India early in his presidency is a welcome development

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November 2011


g DIPLOMACY underlined a greater desire to engage and invite India to participate in that country’s development agenda. The powerful military was represented by the third seniormost general in the armed forces. This is a significant departure from the past when the military formed a major part of the entourage of senior General Than Shwe’s visits to India. The fact that Thein Sein chose to visit India early into his presidency is a welcome development. It also augured well for India’s “Look East Policy” and added value to the security-strategic dimensions of the relationship. With Bangladesh and Myanmar emerging as vital access points to the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, this region is expected to witness unprecedented economic activity in the decades ahead. It will crucially benefit Myanmar, Bangladesh and India. The unsettled state of relations with the ethnic minorities on its international borders proves a major source of anxiety to the Myanmar authorities. It has also been an irritant in its political and diplomatic relations with its neighbours, particularly India, China, Bangladesh and Thailand in that order. A senior military intelligence official working under former Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, chief of the powerful Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence (DDSI), advised diplomats: “The military considered the ethnic problem and support to Aung San Suu Kyi and National League for Democracy (NLD) as serious security concerns.” He added that foreign diplomats would do well to stay away from indulging in efforts to woo the “terrible twins”. India’s role in the developments of 1988-90 and the act of bestowing the Jawaharlal Nehru Award to Aung San Suu Kyi is not distant in the military’s memory but less has been said of it in the past several years. The Myanmar President Thein Sein regime is reportedly in the process of negotiating an end to the ethnic conflict despite differing views by a section that adopts a hard line on the matter. The swapping of arms for peace was part of a larger Chinese initiative for opening up the Yunnan province as a gateway to the Bay of Bengal through Myanmar. Unless there was peace on its borders with Myanmar, China could not have accelerated the development of Yunnan and its adjoining provinces. China realises the nuisance value of lawlessness on its border with Myanmar and displays consistent anxiety to secure peace and stability

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on its borders. The ethnic minorities too have been uncomfortable with the policies of the majoritarian military government. However, the military cannot be faulted for not trying to reduce the deficit trust. The first major step in this direction was the ceasefire pact with 17 insurgent groups signed by former intelligence chief, Khin Nyunt during the tenure of State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) under the slogan “arms for peace”. It has, however, remained a pact and not translated into a formal political document. The credit for pushing these groups towards ceasefire should go to China, which was looking for peace and stability on its borders with Myanmar so as to facilitate its plans to access the Bay of Bengal in order to obtain a strategic advantage. Since independence, Myanmar has been pre-occupied in consolidating the country into one single administrative unit. Myanmar has always been wary of its ethnic minorities, almost all of whom inhabit border areas contiguous to India, Bangladesh, Thailand and China. This has been the single source of worry and apprehension for rulers at Yangon. There is no evidence as yet whether any perceptible change has taken place in this mindset. It is acknowledged that China’s presence in Myanmar is formidable in a strategic sense and poses an element of threat to India’s security in its northeastern region. China’s main objectives in its relationship with Myanmar are: (i) to get access to the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea (ii)to exploit potential strategic resources (iii)to enhance military technology cooperation thereby increasing dependency of Myanmar armed forces (iv) to develop oil and gas through economic packages and investments for fulfilling its growing energy needs and (v) to maintaining a friendly neighbour in South East to get ready markets for its business ventures. China took over 20 years to obtain a short-cut to the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. China utilised its proximity to Myanmar to cultivate the leadership of the Indian insurgent groups and exploited some among them for espionage purposes. For instance, the manner in which the NSCN (I-M) supplemented Chinese espionage efforts in Arunachal Pradesh is well documented. The former NSCN (I-M) leader Anthony November 2011


g DIPLOMACY Shimray has given a fund of irrefutable inputs to Indian intelligence agencies on the intelligence nexus with Chinese intelligence operatives. There have been numerous reports of Manipuri insurgent leaders and others having safe houses in Yunnan province and conducting flourishing businesses in Mandalay, Myitkyina and other major towns opposite Indian borders such as Kalemyo, Homalin and Mae-sai on the Myanmar-Thai border. Myanmar also became a conduit for arms smuggling, highway for drug trafficking, pushing fake Indian currency notes (FICN) into the northeast region and other items into India from safe havens on the China-Myanmar border. This was done under the watchful eyes of the powerful intelligence agencies of the military. There is no doubt that China’s presence in Myanmar is worrisome from our security point of view. It is necessary to consider reports that China and Bangladesh discussed construction of a road from Yunnan to Chittagong during the recent visit of the Bangladesh Premier, Sheik Hasina, to Beijing. This development will need constant monitoring since it could traverse close to the Indian border with Myanmar. Especially, Indian territories opposite the Tirap, Changlang districts and those areas across Tezu district have implications given the sensitivity emanating from Chinese claims over parts of Arunachal Pradesh. Also China is reported to have periodically sailed its ships to the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal to track the scientific activity at the Sriharikota space station besides monitoring Indian techno-military developments. Sri Lanka has recently joined Bangladesh and Myanmar in its quest to set up a civilian nuclear facility. This should be worrisome for India. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are yet to take the first baby steps but Myanmar has moved speedily. While several western countries have expressed grave apprehensions over this development, the recent WikiLeaks expose highlights several reports emanating from the US Embassy, Yangon as if to confirm the existence of the project. Bertil Lintner has made a detailed exposition on it at several fora. The nascent Myanmar-North Korea nexus came to notice in mid-1997, after the announce-

ment of strong US sanctions against Yangon by President Clinton, in the barter of foodgrains for arms transactions. This was followed by a further meeting at Bangkok between both sides leading to restoration of political contacts. That Pakistan utilised its proximity to the Myanmar junta to foster anti-India propaganda is well known and does not need reiteration. One aspect that merits attention is the Pakistani involvement in the Myanmar nuclear project. This becomes all the more important when two of its nuclear scientists fled to Myanmar in 2001. The North Korea-China-Pakistan axis is worrisome and needs constant monitoring. The fallout of any mishap will have serious consequences for India. In fact, this requires a detailed impact study since a number of civilian nuclear power projects will be coming up in India’s neighbourhood in the near future. The Thein Sein government that assumed office in April 2011 seeks to establish its credentials as a truly representative body of the people, thereby appearing to make a break with predecessor military regimes. This was evident from the steady stream of international dignitaries from the West, besides

THE PEOPLE’S STAR: The decision to allow Aung San Suu Kyi to visit the Martyr’s Memorial is touted as the government’s desire to engage the NLD leader

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neighbouring countries, visiting Myanmar. A road map is discernable. The engagement with the pro-democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi obviously topped the list of initiatives. This was followed by permission to the UN Special Rapporteur and to the EU Commissioner on Human Rights to visit the country. The most recent decision to revamp the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) would appear to be yet another manifestation of the new approach. According to several reports, the parliamentary proceedings too have marked a departure from the past. The statement issued following the second meeting of government representatives with Aung San Suu Kyi contained a mix of news; firstly, willingness of both sides to work together for stability, tranquility and development of the country as a gesture to fulfil the genuine needs of the people, on the flip side, Aung San Suu Kyi made it clear that she remained opposed to the military sponsored 2008 Constitution and the NLD had rejected government suggestions to register itself as a political party under the new regulations. Since NLD’s legal status remains ambivalent, it remains to be seen as to how this dilemma is resolved.


g DIPLOMACY The decision to allow Aung San Suu Kyi to visit the Martyr’s Memorial (July 19) along with 300 supporters is touted as the government’s desire to engage the NLD leader. An article titled “The world will welcome Burma if it reforms” in the Bangkok-based English language daily The Nation dated September 14, 2011, made several important statements on developments in Myanmar, especially noting that Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi were photographed standing in front of a huge photograph of the late General Aung San after their talks. This was an unprecedented development and a noteworthy one too. Is it an attempt to revisit the spirit of the Panglong agreement? Clearly the non-military government is yearning for some accommodation or space for itself as it has allowed interactions of foreign dignitaries with Aung San Suu Kyi. While western governments have shown their keenness to engage the government, the pressure on the latter to release political prisoners, engage in dialogue with the opposition and improve the human rights record has continued. The UN, the US, EU and Japan have reiterated these demands. A new government has taken office in Thailand, and

given its association with former Prime Minister Thaksin, it will be interesting to note how it will address its relationship with the civilian government at Yangon. The previous government of Abhisit had taken a strong dislike towards the then ruling Myanmar dispensation.

INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE ON YANGON TO IMPROVE ITS HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD HAS CONTINUED

Photo:Htoo Tay Zar

There is a need to create a favourable international climate for the development of democracy in Myanmar-based on mutual trust and assistance. Western sanctions have been wholly unsuccessful and only added to the prevailing poor economic condition of the country and its people. It is the people who have endured the suffering. Reports and government think tanks in several western countries and others have pitched for a reversal of this failed strategy. If the case for sanctions on Myanmar needs to be strengthened on the basis of a yardstick, then it must be equally applied. Myanmar has some democratic credentials having at least held two parliamentary elections in the past 20 years as against some neighbouring countries that have a dubious track record on human rights, drug smuggling and dismal civil rights practices. Myanmar deserves a break, I suspect the civilian government is looking for a way out of the cul-de-sac and every effort may be made to allow it the opportunity. The July 2011 visit of External Affairs Minister SMKrishna to Myanmar was the first high-level political contact between the two countries following the assumption of office by the Thein Sein government. The meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and the Indian Foreign Secretary at Yangon was a significant development. It may be added that the first meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and the Indian Ambassador took place in 1998 at her Inya Lake residence. She subsequently visited India House to sign the condolence register. The NLD looks to India for

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inspiration, support and encouragement. It may not be out of place to add that the Chinese too have had contacts with the NLD and follow related developments closely. India’s current two-year non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council UNSC will be useful to bring about objectivity in international dealing with Myanmar. A permanent membership of the UNSC will add strength to its endeavours in this region and Myanmar, no doubt, will recognise this to its immense benefit. India’s contribution to the economic development of Myanmar should not be underestimated nor compared with that of any other country especially China. India has substantial investments in that country and it will grow exponentially in years to come, the benefits under the “Look East Policy” for Myanmar is going to be enormous. India has built the Moreh-Kalemyo road at its own cost in pursuance of the LEP and re-engagement with the Yangon regime. Several other major projects are in different stages of implementation. The action of the Awami League government in Bangladesh has broken the back of the ULFA and other groups, thereby ushering in a non-violent period in Assam and bringing them to the negotiating table. The peace talks with the Naga groups have paid rich dividends and the sensitive state is enjoying unprecedented peace. India has on its part ensured that its soil is not used by Burmese groups for anti-national activities across the border. Both India and Myanmar would do well to contemplate taking a leaf out of the Dhaka initiative. It will be remembered that Bangladesh too has similar problems with Myanmar. A trilateral initiative under the BIMST-EC is a step in the right direction. Myanmar will be a major beneficiary. A visit by the five Indian Chief Ministers of the northeastern states to Yangon as part of an initiative of the Union Government would be a step in the right direction. It will be a precursor to major Indian initiatives leading to a new beginning in bilateral relations. As a significant player in this sensitive region India needs to take the first major step as witnessed during the Indian Prime Minister’s recent successful trip to Bangladesh. (The writer is a recently retired Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, and now a Managing Trustee of the Institute of Contemporary Studies, Bengaluru) November 2011


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DIPLOMACY

MARCHING AHEAD

Vietnam’s support in imparting content and depth to India’s Look East Policy has forged closer links between New Delhi and ASEAN capitals. With each passing day, India-Vietnam relations are gaining greater momentum and depth, writes YAMINI CHOWDHURY

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NDIA’S relation with Vietnam has always occupied a persistent place in the complexly layered world of foreign policy priorities. It is widely believed that the first meeting between the then Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Vietnamese President, Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi almost five decades ago, established the foundation for the traditionally strong, friendly and vibrant bilateral relation, with a profound historical essence. www.geopolitics.in

Over the years, contacts between the two nations have increased, impelled essentially by a multiplicity of reasons. Both countries have been at the receiving end of Chinese aggression — India in 1962 and Vietnam in 1979 — though Vietnam continues to be hectored by the Middle Kingdom’s naval supremacy in the region. Both India and Vietnam also enjoyed close relations with the erstwhile Soviet Union during the bipolar Cold War era. India’s steadfast support for Vietnamese inde-

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pendence from France and its vehement objection to the US involvement in that country was reciprocated in full measure by Vietnam’s vociferous support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the expanded United Nations Security Council. The fact that India was the first noncommunist country to accord recognition to a unified Vietnam shored up confidence levels and enabled New Delhi to successfully leverage Hanoi’s unequivocal support in the comity of nations. November 2011


g DIPLOMACY However, it was in 1991 when India formulated its Look East Policy that relations with Vietnam were imbued with a strategic dimension. The raison d’etre of the policy, which was an acknowledgement of the soaring economic growth and rising strategic heft of the Asia-Pacific region, was to reinforce and deepen contacts with countries in the purlieus of China — Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. Vietnam has formed an “important pillar, a vital pillar, a key pillar” of this policy. India’s foray into Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was the essential domino to the strategic import of these relations. A united opposition to an increasingly strident foreign presence in the region and a common obligation to create a perpetual culture of peace and stability has been a discerning feature of India-Vietnam relations. However, as we embark on the 40th year of this momentous journey, one needs to identify the other areas of cooperation that can add strength and value to this expanding relationship. Even though defence and security will continue to drive bilateral relations, there exists tremendous potential in areas such as trade, investments, credit and banking, agriculture and animal hus-

bandry, human resource development, capacity-building, information technology, science and technology, health, civil aviation, education and culture. The maiden visit of the President of Vietnam, Truong Tan Sang, in October is certain to spur greater cooperation in new, unexplored areas. The assertive bilateral relationship between India and Vietnam holds immense promise for the emerging Asian region. Challenging the Chinese Colossus Considering the mammoth dimension that China occupies in the political and strategic mind space of both countries, no discussion is complete without a nuanced understanding of ostensibly the most crucial element of the Indo-Vietnam strategic relationship. China has, both traditionally and historically, staked claim to the South East Asian region. Over the years, they have deployed several strategies to challenge the US supremacy in the region. However, what has really raised the hackles of the Indian and Vietnamese governments is the perilous, destabilising role assumed by China in Pakistan and Cambodia respectively. The strategic depth and significance of the relationship shared by both countries “is self-evident and natural”, says G

Parthsarathy, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan. “This is inevitable in the light of China’s attempts to contain India. India has always admired the sense of national pride and independence of the people of Vietnam. It is not in India’s interests if China asserts its hegemony in its entire neighbourhood,” he maintains. This strategic relevance, particularly to India’s national security, gets amplified in today’s rapidly evolving and increasingly volatile security environment in East Asia, believes strategic affairs expert, Maroof Raza. “Having been one of the few countries that has stood up to China, and taught Beijing a few military lessons when China attacked Vietnam in 1979, it is a country that must be watched carefully. Moreover, it has a sizeable population of over 95 million and a booming economy. Most importantly, Vietnam is crucial for India’s strategy to encircle China tactically,” he stresses. Elaborating the larger-than-life role played by China in the strategic calculus of India and Vietnam, Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd.), Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), asserts, “China is a domineering neighbour of both India and Vietnam and its over-sized footprint in the region is a cause for concern to both the countries.” India’s strategic

“India’s relations with Vietnam are rooted in antiquity” This is the first visit by the President outside the ASEAN region and reflects the importance attached by both sides to our relationship. India’s relations with Vietnam are rooted in antiquity. They have been strengthened by successive generations of leaders and strong mutual trust and goodwill. Today, our relations cover the areas of trade and economic cooperation, capacity building and assistance, cultural exchanges, energy, defence and security. Vietnam is among the most dynamic economies in Asia and we wish to build a strategic partnership with Vietnam that responds to the aspirations of both our peoples. …. Our bilateral trade has reached 2.7 billion US dollars last year. We have set ourselves the target to increase it to 7 billion US dollars by 2015. We have agreed to work towards an early finalisation of the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement in Services and Investment. I conveyed to the President that we are committed to greater investment flows between our two countries. Several Indian companies are working in Vietnam, and we similarly welcome Vietnamese investments in India. We will continue to render assistance to Vietnam in its capacity building and human resource development efforts. India and Vietnam are maritime neighbours. We face common security challenges from terrorism, piracy and natural disasters.

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We believe that it is important to ensure the safety and security of the vital sea lanes of communication. We have agreed to continue and strengthen our exchanges in these fields. We have instituted a mechanism of a biennial dialogue on security issues between our Ministry of Home Affairs and its Vietnamese counterpart. The Extradition Treaty signed today will provide a legal and institutional basis for our cooperation. …. Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between our two countries. It will also mark twenty years of India’s Dialogue Partnership with ASEAN. We have agreed to celebrate 2012 as the Year of Friendship between India and Vietnam. We will also organize the ‘Year of India in Vietnam’ in 2012. Developing close relations with Vietnam is an important component of our Look East Policy. We have agreed to strengthen our cooperation in regional mechanisms such as the ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit and the Asean Defence Ministers Plus Eight Dialogue. A strong India-Vietnam partnership is a factor of peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region. It is a partnership that stands on its own merits. Excerpts from the PM's statement to the media during the visit of Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, October 12, 2011.

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Military and Maritime Cooperation China’s relentlessly bellicose stance within South Asia has prompted India and Vietnam to enhance the levels of military and maritime cooperation. When both countries entered into a New Strategic Partnership in 2007, it signified a considerable rise, not only in security and defence cooperation, but also in other spheres of political and economic engagements. In terms of defence cooperation, the 2007 Hanoi visit of Defence Minister AK Anthony is significant. It was during the Indian Defence Minister’s meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, General Phung Quang Thanh that a joint working group for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defence cooperation was established. Under this MoU, Vietnam would receive 5,000 items of naval spares for the repair and maintenance of the Petya class of ships and a four-member team for UN peacekeeping operations training. The 2010 visit of the Chief of Army Staff, General VK Singh, the first of its kind by an Indian Army Chief in almost a decade, followed by the visit of the Indian Defence Minister the same year, also opened up new avenues in affirmative action. These include greater military exchanges, training, including IT and English training for Vietnamese army personnel, joint exercises in mountain and jungle warfare, dialogue between strategic defence institutes and experts for promoting exchange of information, enhanced cooperation between defence industries, application of e-technology and provision of advanced capacitybuilding and technical support to the Vietnamese navy. Clearly, India must focus on its strategic objective of providing invaluable assistance to Vietnam in augmenting its military prowess. “We should cooperate to the maximum extent possible and even encourage others to join in efforts to strengthen Vietnam’s defence capabilities and infrastructure,” emphasises G Parthsarathy. www.geopolitics.in

Photo:Chad J. McNeeley

partnership with Vietnam, he states,”is aimed at developing leverage against China’s hegemonic tendencies and is part of India’s simultaneous outreach to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia”. Without doubt, challenging the Chinese colossus in the region is a conundrum that merits urgent attention from both countries.

GUARDING AGAINST THE DRAGON: China’s aggresive stance has prompted India and Vietnam to enhance the levels of military and maritime cooperation

Maroof Raza lists out other ways to enhance the level of military engagement between the two countries. “India can offer considerable support and training to the Vietnamese navy. This would include the enhancement of blue water capabilities, so essential for the Vietnamese to hold their own against Chinese domination of the South China Sea. Also, India could export some of its indigenous military technology to Vietnam, including the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile, naval missiles, tanks and armoured vehicles. India’s armed police like the CRPF and BSF could benefit from a deeper understanding of the skills and methodologies required to battle jungle insurgencies, which the Vietnamese are so competent at,” he suggests. Maritime cooperation is yet another important dimension of this strategic relationship. Both countries have considerable geo-strategic cachet in a turbulent regional swathe. China’s truculent posture has ensured that even for countries like Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, it has not been smooth sailing in the choppy waters of the South China Sea. Further, China has deployed the aggressive “String of Pearls” strategy to contain India,

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wherein it has substantially elevated the level of maritime cooperation with countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Burma. In a befitting reply, India has fortified its military capabilities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Finally, as the issue of piracy becomes more intractable, India needs to mobilise support for anti-piracy patrolling and escort operations. The developments in this realm have been particularly encouraging. Vietnam has accorded permission to Indian naval warships to drop anchor at its Nha Trang port during goodwill visits. By early 2012, Vietnam’s naval capability will receive a shot in the arm with the induction of six Kilo-class submarines, to replace the existing Yugo-class midget submarines, from the Admiralty Shipyards in St Petersburg. The June 2011 visit of Vietnamese Navy Chief and Deputy Minister of Defence, Vice Admiral Nguyen Van Hien to the Hindustan Shipyard Limited in Visakhapatnam and the Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai provided valuable insights into the functioning of the Kilo-class submarine and India’s defence shipyard. Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Retd.) Director, National Maritime Foundation believes that “in addition to regular visits by naval ships of both countries to each November 2011


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other’s ports and offering technical and maintenance support for the refit and repair of Vietnamese naval ships and submarines acquired from Russia, we must conduct joint exercises, both bi-laterally and with other ASEAN and East Asian states, to enhance Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) capacity. This would be particularly useful in assuaging Chinese concerns”. Some defence experts, however, view these developments with cautious optimism. Vice-Admiral Arun Kumar Singh, (Retd.), former Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command and international strategic analyst observes, “India will have a reasonable capability for sustained operations in the South China Sea only after 2030. I feel we should not rush into the South China Sea. Remember, Fredrick the Great said, Diplomacy without military power, is like a band playing without instruments.” Off-Shore Development Projects One of the most critical constituents of the strategic partnership is articulated by Maroof Raza when he says, “Vietnam is no push-over. It is willing to allow ONGC to explore oil and gas in the South China Sea, an area where others in South-East www.geopolitics.in

Asia are scared to defy Beijing’s writ.” With an estimated investment of over $400 million in the Vietnamese hydrocarbon sector over the last two decades, India has emerged as Vietnam’s indisputable partner in offshore energy development projects in the South China Sea. The state-owned ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) in collaboration with PetroVietnam and British Petroleum began exploration in the early 1990s, resulting in the discovery of the Lan Do and Lan Tay gas fields and the subsequent generation of three billion cubic metres of gas every year. Today, OVL has emerged as one of the largest investors in Vietnam, with investments aggregating $225 million. The news of OVL acquiring stakes in two other exploration blocks, 127 and 128, was commandeered by the intense Chinese opposition to this development in the apparently disputed region of the South China Sea. Dismissing the fallacious Chinese objection, Pankaj Jha, Research Fellow, Indian Council for World Affairs argues, “India has every right to explore oil and gas within the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and continental shelf that lie entirely under Vietnamese sovereignty. Further, the proposed exploration abides by the 1982 UN Convention

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on the Law of the Sea and international practices, in addition to various multilateral and bilateral agreements signed by Vietnam. After all, if China can build projects in PoK, isn’t India free to do oil exploration in resource-rich, contentious waters” India’s refusal to be hamstrung by the inveterate Chinese intransigence will be the real test of its foreign policy strength. The recent visit of Vietnamese President, Truong Tan Sang, from October 11 to 14, 2011, the first visit outside the ASEAN region, only reaffirmed Vietnam’s time-honoured policy of developing strong, strategic relations with India, apart from enhancing people-to-people contacts. The visit witnessed important measures to strengthen the strategic partnership, including the institution of a mechanism of a biennial dialogue on security issues between India’s Ministry of Home Affairs and its Vietnamese counterpart. The signing of the Extradition Treaty is expected to provide a legal and institutional basis for the strategic cooperation. Both sides also agreed to work towards strengthening the sea lanes of communication. The other areas of cooperation identified during the visit were people-to-people contacts, energy, science and technology, information and communication technology and the conservation and restoration of Indian cultural relics in Vietnam. The celebration of 2012 as the ‘Year of Friendship’ between India and Vietnam and the decision to organise the ‘Year of India in Vietnam’ in 2012 highlight the eagerness on both sides to enhance bilateral ties. The New Strategic Partnership 2007 has enabled India and Vietnam to stimulate strategic cooperation, in addition to providing the impetus for enhanced political, economic and cultural interactions. Considering the dynamic geostrategic and economic architecture of the Asia Pacific region, this relationship has the potential to be a game-changer. Both countries have espoused values of peace, freedom and stability and have steadfastly refused to let China torpedo their dedication. In the years to come, the Asian region will become a crucible of peace, stability and healthy economic growth, with the strong, vibrant and cordial relations between India and Vietnam forming the pivot of this structure. (The author is a freelance journalist) November 2011


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EXCERPTS

IMPLICATIONS FOR LOWER RIPARIANS BRAHMA CHELLANEY is a Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, an independent think-tank. Professor Chellaney is widely regarded as one of India’s leading strategic thinkers and analysts, and is also a well-known newspaper and television commentator on international affairs. In his latest book, Water: Asia’s New Battlefield, Chellaney has done pioneering work on the link between the growing water stress in the world and long-term peace and security

Water: Asia’s New Battleground Author: Brahma Chellaney Publisher: HarperCollins Pages — 386, Pricee — `699 Year of Publication — 2011

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HE WATER mega projects and plans on the Tibetan Plateau cannot be regarded as China’s internal matter alone, given the likely transboundary effects, the threat to the health of transnational rivers, and the environmental degradation already being witnessed in Asia’s “water tower.” Environmental changes on the plateau will, for

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example, adversely affect the Asian monsoons, introducing greater variability and unpredictability in patterns. Indeed, the Chinese moves to aggressively dam international rivers have set a wrong example, as underscored by the dam building initiated by the lowerMekong countries and the nations along the Himalayan belt. Not to be left out of the water-harnessing game, these riparian states have launched their own projects. China’s dams, however, are much bigger in size and purpose, and carry the most profound transboundary implications. That country’s hydraulic interventions through gigantic projects actually translate into much increased geopolitical risks in water-stressed Asia. The planned construction of the world’s largest dam at the Great Bend, for example, would reduce cross-border flows into India and Bangladesh and affect fluvial and aquatic ecosystems in ways even more significant than the impact of China’s upper-Mekong River basin hydropower projects on Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Yet it has been speciously claimed in China that the

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AUTHORSPEAK What are the major battlegrounds for water that are located in Asia? BC: Asian water disputes are concentrated in four separate circles - China and its neighbors; India and its neighbors; Israel and its neighbors; and Turkey and its neighbors. There are also water disputes in Central Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. However, the biggest disputes are between China and its neighbors, because Beijing rejects the very concept of water sharing. In fact, China does not have a single water-sharing treaty with any neighbor. In contrast, India has generous water-sharing arrangements with both its downstream neighbors, Bangladesh and Pakistan. How is it that South America, which too has a large reservoir of rivers and tributaries, is free of bitterness and rancor that water brings to the fore among the countries of Asia? BC: South America is the world’s richest continent in terms of water resources. Asia has less than one-tenth of the waters of South America per inhabitant. Water disputes in South America have flared in the past over dam projects. They have largely been resolved, often by agreeing to jointly build mega-dams. In the last 20 years there has been a dramatic shift in the people’s perception on ecology and its importance in their dayto-day life. Why it is then that river issues still turn out to be such difficult subjects for both people and politicians? BC: Water is the most vital of all natural resources. Although environmental consciousness has grown in the world, greater attempts are still being made by some countries to appropriate the waters of shared rivers before those resources flow out of their frontiers. This approach has strained inter-riparian relations in parts of the world. November 2011


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Are there any great models of water battles in other parts of the world that have been amicably settled which can be a template for societies in Asia? BC: Institutionalised arrangements that serve as a means of conflict avoidance over shared transnational-river resources cover several basins, including La Plata in Latin America and the transboundary resources shared by Canada and the United States. In Asia, the Israeli-Jordanian water arrangement covering the Jordan River basin is important because it fuses water and security in the framework of an overall peace treaty. The Jordan River, however, covers four nations, and Syria and Lebanon are not part of this arrangement. What are the places that you visited to write this book; and what are some of the most impassioned images that stay with you? BC: This interdisciplinary study took several years to complete, and the institutions I visited stretched from Japan and South Korea to Israel and Qatar. The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UnitedNations provided valuable insights and data. Where do you see river water battles 20 years down the line? BC: China is a common factor in more than a dozen crucial river basins in Asia that lack any kind of institutionalised cooperation among all key co-riparian states. While promoting multilateralism on the world stage, China has given the cold shoulder to multilateral cooperation among river-basin states. And although China publicly favors bilateral initiatives over multilateral institutions in addressing water issues, it has not shown any real enthusiasm for meaningful bilateral action. As with its territorial and maritime disputes with India, Vietnam, Japan, and others, China is seeking to disrupt the status quo on international-river flows. Persuading it to halt further unilateral appropriation of shared waters has thus become pivotal to Asian peace and stability. www.geopolitics.in

massive upstream damming of the Brahmaputra River, or even the partial deflection of its flow northward, will not “significantly” affect downstream-basin states but rather “help reduce flood damage” in India and Bangladesh. It is even claimed that a lot of the Brahmaputra water goes “waste” through discharge into the ocean. These claims actually mirror the ones that have been made in relation to the Mekong. Such contentions overlook the plain fact that fish and other marine life depend on the nutrients and minerals received through such emptying of a river. If the Brahmaputra’s discharge were reduced to a trickle, it would ravage the delta and coastal marine areas in the Bay of Bengal that together are among the most biologically productive areas on the planet, supporting countless species. The impoundment and diversion of the river’s waters in Tibet would also seriously disrupt the Brahmaputra’s annual Flooding cycle, which helps spread valuable nutrients into the floodplains of northeastern India and Bangladesh and allows for the cultivation of rice paddies in natural-pond conditions, besides creating a giant nursery for fish-the main source of protein for the poor. The rich, fertile soil in the lower Brahmaputra basin owes a lot to nature’s yearly gift of silt; the Chinese megaprojects will block delivery of that gift. Much of the river’s nutrient-rich sediment load, instead of being naturally transported downstream, would get trapped by the upstream projectsin the same way that the Three Gorges Dam already is disrupting heavy silt flows in the Yangtze and causing silt buildup in its reservoir itself, besides creating fluvial imbalance upstream and denying essential nutrients to agricultural land and fish downstream. The Chinese plans to divert the Brahmaputra waters partially away from India and Bangladesh also have to be viewed against the likely impact of climate change on the snowmelt and glacial melt that significantly feeds this river, Tibet’s longest and the world’s fourth largest. The shrinking Himalayan glaciers along the route of the Brahmaputra in Tibet underscore the creeping impact of climate change. If the sources of river flow begin to be seriously affected, mas-

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sive impoundment and diversion of the Brahmaputra’s waters upstream would be an invitation to an ecological catastrophe in Tibet itself, besides devastating the plains of northeastern India and more than half of Bangladesh. By the middle of this century, global warming is projected to adversely affect the dry-season availability of Brahmaputra waters downstream while increasing wet-season flooding. The Brahmaputra ecological health already is beginning to be affected because of the growing number of upstream hydropower plants and irrigation reservoirs on the main river and its tributaries, with India also seeking to emulate China’s example by unveiling dam-building projects in Arunachal Pradesh State. Ecologists have warned that such overexploitation of water resources would diminish the movement of nutrient-rich sediments downstream, affecting agriculture on the Assam plains of India and in Bangladesh and eroding the rivercentered biodiversity. In fact, owing to the high ambient salt levels in the Brahmaputra watershed, the irrigationinduced salinity resulting from the introduction of widespread farming in the upper-middle basin in Tibet has already emerged as a threat to downstream agriculture. With the leadership in Beijing having decided that the Tibetan Plateau’s waters are the answer to China’s water crisis, the Brahmaputra and the Mekong are likely to join the list of the world’s endangered rivers. As symbolised by the cascade of dams that China is building on these rivers, with little regard for the transboundary impact on co-riparians, its upstream hydro engineering projects on the plateau carry dire environmental risks as well as major interstate political implications. Its moves, in fact, threaten to turn international rivers like the Mekong, the Salween, and the Brahmaputra into mirror images of its main rivers, the Yellow and the Yangtze: hydrologically degraded, heavily polluted, and ecologically dying. Of all the Chinese hydroengineering plans on the plateau, the ones relating to the Brahmaputra are the most far-reaching. —Excerpts from the book November 2011


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Right Angle

THE CHINA FACTOR

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s mentioned in this column last month, senior officials of India, Japan and the United States were scheduled to meet at Tokyo on October 7 to hold a trilateral dialogue on ‘regional and global issues of mutual interest’. The scheduled meeting however did not take place. The meeting was postponed indefinitely. Surprisingly, there was no official explanation behind the postponement. And what is more surprising, the media did not bother to highlight the development. Is it the China-factor that was behind the postponement? After all, the timing of the scheduled meet was such as to give an impression that the three countries were to discuss the recent Chinese provocations in South China and East China seas that had potentials to affect the freedom of navigation in seas. It is probable that China was not happy about such an “unfriendly Prakash meet”. And China is too important a country that neither the United States nor Japan nor India could antagonise openly by holding such a meet. After all, China has emerged as America’s leading banker, given the American bonds that Beijing buys. Thousands of Japanese and Japanese industries are based in China. As regards India, it is still guided by post-1962 mindset. Above all, there is that growing perception all over that since China is emerging as the next superpower of the world, if you treat China an enemy then it will eventually become your enemy; the converse is equally true. That means that if you treat China like a friend then it will become a friend. Of course, each one of the above rationales is open to challenges, something I cannot deal here because of the constraints of space. Suffice it will be to underscore the point that as China is relentlessly building up its economy and military, its territorial ambitions are getting insatiable. Accordingly, China has been regularly shifting its policies, endangering global principles and practices and evoking concerns from neighbours. Take, for instance, its stances in the South China Sea (SCS). In 1996, Beijing ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and publicly embraced the treaty’s provision that ‘China shall enjoy sovereign rights and jurisdiction over an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles and the continental shelf’. But, in 2009, China submitted a map to the UN Commission on the Law of the Sea in support of its “historical claims” over virtually the entire SCS. But then history is often a confused heap of facts and that is why history’s lessons are no more enlightening than the wisdom of those who interpret them. www.geopolitics.in

Historically, going by the “Middle Kingdom” concept that said China was at the centre of the universe and that all others must respect it, lesser powers were its tributaries. This version of Chinese history says that all those who were sending tributes or gifts to the Chinese emperors constituted Chinese empire. If we go by it, then many parts of South India are Chinese territories since the rulers of the erstwhile Vijayanagar Empire had sent tributes to the Chinese emperor! Of course, Chinese arguments could also boomerang. China says that Tibet became a part of the Chinese empire when the great Mongol Genghis Khan annexed Tibet (most parts of it) in the early 13th century. It is a strange logic, because taken to its logical conclusion, one could argue that China is a part of Mongolia and does not deserve to exist as an independent nation. Secondly, why are the Chinese not claiming a quarter of Europe, Russia Nanda and the whole of West Asia (Middle East) and Central Asia since these also constituted the Mongol empire of Genghis Khan? Coming back to the SCS, the Chinese claims are dangerous. First, it contravenes the territorial and economic claims of other coastal countries. Secondly, it challenges internationally approved navigation rights of all the countries. In 1996 China had said that foreign warships required its approval in order to pass through China’s territorial waters. But, now it is saying that foreign warships must obtain its approval before they can pass through its exclusive economic zone — a much wider area than 12 miles of its sovereign waters. Thirdly, whenever it talks of its territorial claims, China brings them under what says its “core interests”, meaning thereby that it can always resort to unilateral military recourse, including the use of nuclear weapons. Here, China will not stick to its official “no-first-use-policy” in case of nuclear weapons. The danger is obvious. For instance, since China has territorial disputes with India, it can always use nuclear weapons against us. Viewed thus, it is all the more reason why India and other leading global players such the US, Russia and Japan must sit together and devise ways so that China is convinced of the fallacies of its shifting “territorial -policies”. As regards the SCS, it is important for India that the sea lanes there remain “open”. Apart from being a strategic maritime link between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, it is a vital gateway for shipping in the Asia Pacific. Importantly, India ships oil from Sakhalin (Siberia) to Mangalore through sea routes of SCS.

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