Saturday, November 18, 2017

Modi Vs Manmohan: What's The Rafale Cost Difference?

The Raksha Mantri was unable to address media queries about how much the Modi government was paying for 36 Rafales compared to what the UPA government had negotiated.

Underlining the Bharatiya Janata Party's unease at the Congress party's allegations of wrongdoing by the National Democratic Alliance government in the Rs 58,000 crore (Rs 580 billion) purchase last year of 36 Rafale fighters from the French company Dassault, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman led a counterattack on Friday reports Ajai Shukla.

Flanked by Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra and Indian Air Force procurement chief Air Marshal Rathunath Nambiar, Sitharaman lashed out at the Congress on five counts.

First, she stated, the previous BJP government had, as early as 2000, 'recognised the need to strengthen the IAF', leading to procurement being initiated for 126 medium multirole combat aircraft.

Yet, the Congress was unable to conclude the purchase of Rafale fighters 'for an entire decade between 2004 and 2014', she said.

That 'act of omission' had led to severe fighter shortages in the IAF, Sitharaman charged.

'This was the grim situation when this government came to power in 2014,' she said.

In fact, the MMRCA procurement was initiated only in 2007, with the issue of a Request for Proposals.

Over the next four years, the IAF evaluated six contending fighters -- Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin's F-16IN Super Viper, RAC MiG's MiG-35, Saab's Gripen C, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Rafale -- in what was hailed worldwide as 'the world's most professionally run fighter competition.'

In April 2011, the IAF ruled out four fighters, leaving only the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale in the fray.

In January 2012, the Rafale was identified as the winner of the contest and negotiations began with Dassault over the cost.

Therefore, the UPA can, at worst, be accused of two years and three months of vacillation, until the BJP came to power in May 2014.

Sitharaman's second rebuttal related to the Congress accusation that Prime Minister Narendra D Modi had not followed due procedure, and not even consulted his defence minister before announcing during a State visit to France in April 2015 that India would buy 36 Rafale fighters in fly-away condition.

'When the prime minister went to Paris in 2015 and agreed (on the purchase of 36 Rafales), he followed the due process of getting it cleared through the Cabinet Committee on Security,' said Sitharaman.

'In September 2016, almost a year-and-a-half later, the Inter-Governmental Agreement for buying 36 Rafales was signed in the presence of the defence ministers of France and India,' she said.

While it is true that the Cabinet Committee on Security cleared the Rafale purchase after Modi returned from Paris, no CCS permission, or from any defence ministry procurement body, was obtained before Modi and then French president Francois Hollande announced the Rafale buy in April 2015.

Thirdly, Sitharaman countered the Congress's accusation that the NDA government had obtained the Rafale without transfer of technology, whilst the MMRCA contract the United Progressive Alliance government was negotiating involved full transfer of technology for building the Rafale in India.

"This is simple economics. When we are talking about building 126 aircraft (in India), ToT makes economic sense. But when you are buying 36 aircraft across-the-counter... it makes no economic sense for ToT to be added on," she correctly stated.

Fourthly, Sitharaman rejected the Congress's oblique allegation that Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence Ltd had benefited from his proximity to the PM to be unfairly picked as Dassault's Indian partner for discharging the 50 per cent offset clause that came with the Rafale deal.

"If two private firms come together, that doesn't require government's permission," said Sitharaman.

She argued the PM does not control the composition of his business delegation and it does not matter if it includes "a certain individual"

Finally, Sitharaman argued that "the price we have obtained (for the Rafale) is far less (than the UPA)."

However, she was unable to address media queries about how much the government was paying for 36 Rafales compared to what the UPA government had negotiated.

"We will give you the figures that you want," said Sitharaman, directing the query to the defence secretary. However, he did not have the figures either.

26/11 Attack Mastermind Lakhvis Nephew Among 6 Let Terrorists Killed In Bandipora

Garud Commando Force is the special forces unit of the IAF. The encounter broke out in Hajin area of Bandipora district. A Garud commando of the IAF was also martyred in the operation

Six terrorists of the Lshkar-e-Taiba (LeT), including nephew of 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, have been killed by the security forces in north Kashmir's Bandipora district.

A Garud commando of the Indian Air Force (IAF) was also martyred in the operation and 2 Army soldiers injured.

The Garud Commando Force is the special forces unit of the IAF. The development comes as a big boost for the security forces in the Valley.

Security forces cordoned off and launched a search operation in Chandergeer village in Hajin area of Bandipora district after receiving specific intelligence input about the presence of terrorists in the area, a police official said.

As search operations were going on, the terrorists hiding there fired at the security forces, who retaliated befittingly.

Apart from Lakhvi's nephew, another slain terrorist has been identified as Owaid, son of terror outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Abdul Rehman Makki. Makki is the brother-in-law of Hafiz Saeed.

Authorities have ordered suspension of mobile internet services, including 2G, 3G & 4G services, in Bandipora following the encounter. The Hajin encounter has now come to an end.

Pakistan NSA Nasser Khan Janjua Accuses India of Creating 'Two-Front Situation'

"India is self-seeking a two front situation which does not auger well for the region. All major powers of the world need to play their role in keeping the region stable and balanced," Janjua said

ISLAMABAD: National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua today accused India of creating a "two-front situation" for Pakistan, saying such a policy would be detrimental for regional peace and stability.

His statement came during his talks with visiting Special Representative of Germany for Afghanistan and Pakistan Markus Potzel who was accompanied by German Ambassador Martin Kobler here.

According to a statement by the NSA office, the two sides discussed the regional security situation and the prevailing situation in Afghanistan.

Janjua said that Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan but the same is under stress due to involvement of India which wants to create a "two front situation" for Pakistan.

"India is self-seeking a two front situation which does not auger well for the region. All major powers of the world need to play their role in keeping the region stable and balanced," he said.

He meant to say that Pakistan was being stretched to fight militants on the western front with Afghanistan and face Indian army on the eastern border with India.

The NSA also said that for "regional peace and stability, it is imperative for both the countries to engage with each and resolve their disputes".

He said Pakistan and India should resolve their disputes for the sake of better future.

Janjua also said Pakistan wanted peace in Afghanistan and urged for political settlement of the Afghan issue.

"To end miseries of Afghanistan and its people, warring sides should seek a political solution to the conflict as the perpetual war of last 16 years has given us nothing but human miseries and sufferings," Janjua added.

Pakistan Has To Show Pristine Behaviour For Normalisation of Ties With NSG: Former US Diplomat

Pakistan's Chasma Nuclear Power Plant built with Chinese assistance

"We were living with the consequences very negative for nuclear stability of the AQ Khan network," Burns said

WASHINGTON: Pakistan would have to exhibit "pristine behaviour" for a long time for normalisation of ties with the NSG, given its track record on nuclear proliferation, a former top US diplomat has said.

Nicholas Burns was responding to a question during a two- day conference here as to why a civil nuclear deal should not be given to Pakistan.

"Pakistan is going to have to exhibit pristine behaviour for a long time before the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) are ever going to try to normalise relations and nuclear trade with Pakistan," Burns told a Washington audience yesterday.

"I don't know how long, long is. I would say a decade or more, before the rest of the international community is going to have trust in Pakistan given what the state did. Assuming that the Pakistani state sponsored the AQ Khan network, which I believe the Pakistani state did, most people do," he said during the conference by South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council, a top American think-tank.

Burns, who is considered to be one of the architects of the India-US civilian nuclear deal during the previous Bush administration, was responding to questions from a Pakistani scholar as to why her country was facing nuclear apartheid and India has been merged into mainstream.

"When (then) secretary (of state) Condi Rice went to New Delhi in March 2005, she initiated it with prime minister (Manmohan Singh) saying the whole process, that led three years later to the passage of two American laws, would make an exception for India and allow the business of civil nuclear power plant construction for the supply of nuclear fuel that had been prohibited or under American sanctions that was the crux of the matter.

"We had observed that India had been a responsible owner, steward of its nuclear material. It had not proliferated on the black market and not sold it to other countries. That was the critical standard. We could not have gone... Secretary Rice and myself to the Congress Senate House and convinced them to hold two big difficult votes to take the sanctions off India if we could not point to the reality that he had been responsible," he said.

He said that in 2005, despite the fact that the US was at a very close working relationship with then president Pervez Musharraf, it couldn't make that argument about Pakistan.

"We were living with the consequences very negative for nuclear stability of the AQ Khan network," Burns said.

It is almost 13 years, Pakistan has worked a lot on the nuclear safety and security issues. These assurances has been given by the State Department as well and lots of reports have been published regarding the safety and security mechanisms, the Pakistani scholar from George Washington University said.

So still it is a life sentence or should Pakistan be given an opportunity to smooth its image, or behave like a more responsible nuclear weapons state, the student asked.

Burns said it was the right decision by the Bush administration to leave Pakistan out of the civil nuclear deal.

"The US took a very firm position in the George W Bush administration that we wanted to be strategic partners with India that we felt that India had been a responsible steward of its nuclear material, it had and still is.

"We embarked on a three-year negotiation that I led for the US to try to bring India into the non-proliferation system, make it part of the system put India's reactions under international observation and supervision and so that there will be transparency but allow the peaceful transfer of civil nuclear technology and the construction of nuclear power plants in India itself," Burns said.

"I'm convinced it was the right decision. And frankly with all due respect I'm convinced it was the right decision to leave Pakistan out because Pakistan of course has been a proliferator unlike India of its nuclear material in a very destructive way through the AQ Khan network more than a decade ago," he added.

Argentine Submarine Goes Missing With 44 Crew Members On Board - Navy

The vessel was in the southern Argentine Sea when it gave its last location two days ago

An Argentine military submarine with 44 crew members on board was missing at sea on Friday, prompting a massive search to locate the vessel which may have suffered a communication error, a navy spokesman said.

The vessel was in the southern Argentine Sea when it gave its last location two days ago.

"We are investigating the reasons for the lack of communication," Argentine naval spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters. "If there was a communication problem, the boat would have to come to the surface."

Balbi said the submarine, which left the southern city of Ushuaia for Mar del Plata, both in Argentina, has food supply for several days and is likely to continue its journey despite communication problems.

China Proposes Alternative Routes For CPEC Via J&K, Nepal

Envoy keen on a treaty of friendship and free trade

China may consider alternative routes through Jammu and Kashmir to address India’s concerns regarding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

In an interaction with experts on Chinese affairs and students, Beijing’s envoy Luo Zhaohui suggested the alternative routes, and said he was keen on accomplishing a bilateral friendship and trade treaty during his stint in India.

“We can change the name of CPEC [China Pakistan Economic Corridor]. Create an alternative corridor through Jammu and Kashmir, Nathu La pass or Nepal to deal with India’s concerns,” said the envoy in a speech at the Centre for Chinese and South-East Asian Studies in the School of Language, JNU, on Friday.

The Ambassador made a detailed presentation of the expectations on both sides and said that while the Dalai Lama’s presence and activities remain an issue for China, Beijing recognised that India’s expectations on the CPEC and Masood Azhar were also issues that both sides need to be deal with.

Dynamic Situation

Referring to the dynamic situation in the world, Ambassador Luo said, “There is widespread change in world affairs since the coming to power of President Donald Trump of the U.S.” and said that the recent visit of President Trump to Beijing has proved that China is a reliable partner.

“President Trump sealed $250 billion worth of trade deals with China during his trip. Would that be possible if China was a threat,” he asked, arguing that China and India as growing economies must cooperate with each other.

“One of my goals is to have a treaty of friendship and free trade with India,” he said, elaborating that both sides need to find more areas to collaborate like the Delhi smog. “Beijing also has smog and two sides can jointly deal with this issue,” he said

It was the first time that the Chinese ambassador was meeting Indian scholars and China experts five days after India held the first official-level meeting on the quadrilateral grouping with Japan, U.S., and Australia but the envoy declined to answer The Hindu’s question on the issue. However, he indicated his approval when a faculty member of the centre said that the quadrilateral was not a serious grouping as it could not produce a joint statement following the first meeting.

Untapped Potential

Ambassador Luo said China and India have untapped economic potential that needs to be explored and highlighted that there is a need for balanced trade between two sides. He also announced that China plans to hold major commemorative events next year to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s economic reforms where India is expected to feature prominently.

Purchase of More Rafales Was Raised By France Last Month: Defence Minister

The issue of purchase of more Rafale fighter jets was raised when the Indian and French Defence Ministers met here last month, but India has not given any answer yet, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday.

India is buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France under a government-to-government agreement, and there have been talks of purchasing more of the fighter jets as a follow-on order.

Asked if French Defence Minister Florence Parly raised the issue of purchase of more Rafale fighter jets during her visit to India last month, Sitharaman replied in the affirmative.

"Yes, the French Defence Minister raised the matter with me, but I haven't given any answer," she said.

This is the first official acknowledgement that talks on purchasing more Rafale fighters was on between India and France.

Sitharaman said that 36 Rafale fighters were bought as the government wanted to procure fighter jets at the earliest, and added that more fighter jets will have to be bought to meet the Indian Air Force's requirements.

"We will have to buy more (fighter aircraft), but who we will buy it from, when we will buy, we will see that," she said.

After the deal under which 36 Rafale jets are being bought off-the-shelf, there has been talk of purchasing 36 more of the fighters, which might cost lesser under a "follow-on" deal.

India and France signed an inter-government agreement for purchase of 36 Rafale fighters, off-the-shelf, on September 23 this year. This was after a long negotiation over the price and other aspects of the deal, which was agreed upon during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to France in April 2015.

The deliveries of the aircraft will start from 2019 end, and will be ended in 2022. Indian Air Force bases at Ambala in Haryana, close to the western border, and Hashimara in West Bengal, close to the China border, are set to home the squadrons of Rafale fighters.

The IAF currently has 33 combat squadrons against a sanctioned strength of 39.5, which is sought to be raised to 42. Former Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, in a press conference days before retiring last year in December had said that the IAF needs at least 200 more fighter jets in next 10 years.

Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa had said in the annual press conference of IAF that full squadron strength will be reached by 2032.

Syndicated Feed

Chennai Customs Website Hacked: Hackers Possibly From Pakistan Claim To Deface Site

The website of the Chennai customs department,, was hacked today for several hours and a search of the webpage showed that the site was "SH11 Team Pak cyber skulls".

Slogans demanding a "free Kashmir" and comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian Army were posted on it.

The message on the portal read "Go Modi Go" and stated that the reason for hacking the website was to spread the message of freedom for Kashmir. The post also read that "Kashmir does not want militarised government".

The site's cached image showed the Indian flag in flames. The police said they had not received any complaint in this regard.

The website was retrieved after two hours and officials are checking on details that were hacked from the website. Investigation on the hack is also said to be underway.

This is not the first time that Chennai customs website is hacked, a few years ago another group of hackers was successful in doing so.

China May Seek India's Help On CPEC At RIC Meet

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Beijing is once again expected to ask New Delhi to shed its opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visits India for the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral meeting on 11 December.

Diplomatic sources here acknowledged that it would be difficult for China to give a concrete shape to the CPEC project without India being on board. The multi-billion dollar CPEC is the flagship project of China’s ambitious Belt, Road Initiative (BRI).

Sources said Beijing’s contention was that the CPEC was aimed at enhancing economic cooperation and not achieving any political ambitions.

India says it would never give up its objection to the ‘so-called’ CPEC since it runs through Indian territory under the illegal occupation of Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. There would be no compromise on India’s sovereignty, New Delhi has repeatedly told Beijing. In fact, India refused to participate in China’s BRI Summit in May this year because of its opposition to the CPEC.

The RIC trilateral meeting was earlier slated to be held in April but was postponed at the behest of China, which was apparently upset over Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. Beijing lays claim over the entire Indian North-eastern state.

This will be the first high-level visit from Beijing following the elevation of Xi Jinping at the 18th Communist Party Congress. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a brief informal interaction with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at Manila on the margins of the East Asia Summit earlier this week.

The RIC meeting is to be followed by talks between the Special Representatives (SRs) of India and China over the lingering boundary dispute towards the end of December. The boundary talks are being considered most significant against the backdrop of the more than two months military stand-off between the two countries at Doklam, which ended on 28 August. National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval is the SR on the Indian side while Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi is his country’s SR at the talks.

Observers here say the SRs meet may not produce any major outcome but it would certainly help reduce the current tension on the border between the two countries.

Exclusive: Deported PFI Member Spills The Beans On ISIS Recruitment In India

India Today has gained access the interrogation report of Shahjahan Kandy, a PFI member, who left India to join ISIS but was arrested by Turkey police while crossing their border to enter Syria

The Centre has been mulling a ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) for many months now, and a recent development is likely to strengthen the government's case. Shahjahan Kandy, a PFI member who was deported to India by the Turkey police while he was trying to cross the Syria border, has made sensational revelations during his interrogation by the Indian agencies.

India Today has exclusively accessed the copy of Shahjahan's interrogation report. Shahjahan, who is a resident of Kannur in Kerala, according to reports, became the area president of PFI in 2007-2008. He was then heading a team of 9 PFI members. Shahjahan later joined the mouthpiece of PFI, Thejas Daily, and actively started meeting other PFI members.

In 2010, he joined Facebook and became members of two groups - Free Thinkers and Right Thinkers. Through Facebook, he came in contact with many potential recruits who according to him were useful in spreading PFI's activities.

Soon Shahjahan left India and when he returned to India in 2013, he started attending PFI's seminars. During one such seminar, he came in contact with a person named Sameer who motivated him for Hijra.

In 2016, Shahjahan left India for Syria along with his family. During his interrogation, he has revealed that many people like him were motivated by Sameer to move to Syria and help ISIS. The route was given by Sameer in which Shahjahan first went to Malasiya, then through Tehran and Istanbul he tried entering Syria. All those who were ready to fight for ISIS were given 3 months' training in Istanbul.

In 2016, Shahjahan along with two other friends, Munaf and Shahjil, tried to cross the border. His friends successfully made into Syria by crossing the Turkey border but Shahjahan failed. Later on, in 2017 he again tried to crossed the border but was caught at the Turkey border with fake passport.

Shahjahan, an ISIS sympathiser himself, has disclosed that all 17 youths who disappeared from Kerala have joined ISIS. PFI has been accused of forceful religious conversions . In the last few months, at least nine PFI members have reportedly joined ISIS.

NIA is currently investigating Shahjahan's case. Sources say the group could soon be banned by the government for its alleged links to terrorism and conversion activities.

Kandy was active on Facebook until June 2016 and was frequently putting up pictures and posts about purported violence against ISIS fighters. Security agencies say social media has become one of the biggest sources of recruiting new Jihadis by instigating them with provocative posts.

Al-Qaeda Commander Gunned Down In Srinagar

Al-Qaeda commander Mugais holds up a flag with ISIS-style text. The Gazwatul Hind, a part of the al-Qaeda wing in Kashmir, calls it the flag of Tawheed

An Al-Qaeda militant commander has been killed in Srinagar today. Mugais, who was functioning as part of the Zakir Mussa group in Kashmir was injured in the Zakura shootout earlier in the day.

During the shootout, a sub-inspector of Police lost his life and a cop got injured. Police said that there were 3 militants one was arrested and two managed to escape. Mugais got injured in the shootout. He reportedly succumbed to the injuries later, while fleeing from the spot.

Mugais was earlier associated with LeT. He was currently the commander of Al-Qaeda's wing functional in Kashmir under the title Gazwatul Hind. This wing of Al-Qaeda is represented by a black flag with Urdu text, called the flag of Tawheed.

Rafale Jet Purchase Deal: All You Need To Know

The Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on 16 November, Thursday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi by raising the Rafale Aircraft deal and accused the government of ‘changing the entire deal to benefit one businessman’, The Hindu report said.

“Listen, all of you keep asking me so many questions and I happily answer them. I want to ask why don’t you question the PM over the Rafale deal? Why don’t you ask Amit Shah’s son? PM changed the entire deal to just help one businessman. Why are you not questioning him?” Mr Gandhi told the media while addressing the office bearers of the All India Unorganized Workers’ Congress on Thursday. This comment follows a series of critical tweets where he mentioned that the Rafale deal was a ‘loot’.

Mr Gandhi raised questions about Dassault Aviation entering into a joint venture with Reliance Defence Limited, an Anil Ambani-owned company.

Self "Reliance" is obviously a critical aspect of "Make in India."
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) November 16, 2017

Can you explain "Reliance" on someone with nil experience in aerospace for Rafale deal?
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) November 16, 2017

What is the Rafale Deal?

The UPA-I government floated a tender on 20 August 2007, for the purchase of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Air Force. 

Dassault Rafale was declared L1 vendor as the bidder with lowest price quotation (with a base price of $10.20 billion, amounting to Rs. 54000 crores at that time) in 2012. 18 out of the 126 aircrafts were supposed to come in flyaway condition and the rest were to be manufactured in India by HAL with the transfer of technology. After formation of new government in May 2014, the earlier Request for Proposal (RFP) for the purchase of 126 aircraft was cancelled on July 30, 2015. Modi Government signed a new deal on September 26 the next year for buying 36 Rafale fighter jets for $8.7 billion.

On October 3, 2016, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited collaborated with Dassault Aviation in a joint venture for defence production in India. 

The price difference is stated to be huge, as per the claim of Congress. They say that the UPA negotiation settled for each aircraft price to be Rs. 526.10 crore. The recent price is about 1570.80 crore rupees for each aircraft. “It is time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government to answer to people of India as to why the government is buying 36 Rafale aircraft at a highly inflated price compared to originally negotiated the base price by UPA-Congress,” declared Rajdeep Surjewala, Congress communication chief.
Allegations around the corner

The previous deal which was cancelled by PM Modi after his trip to France in 2015, had made India’s defence public sector undertaking, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a partner of Dassault Aviation to make 118 Rafale aircraft in India through a transfer of technology clause. Once this deal was scrapped in July 2016, a new $8.7 billion deal was signed on 23 September 2016. Just 10 days later, on October 3, 2016, Reliance Defence Limited entered into a joint venture with the French fighter plane maker. The deal thus went from the hands of public sector to a private company.

Surjewala in a press conference on 14 November alleged Government of India of “promoting the interests of PM’s crony capitalist friends“. They also accused BJP of undermining the importance of national security regarding the Rafale aircraft deal and stated that “a huge scam is brewing”. 

He said that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government intentionally violated the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) and bypassed the interests of PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

According to a report by The Hindu, Mr Surjewala further alleged, “On April 10, Prime Minister Modi visits France and announces the deal for purchase of 36 fighter aircraft in a flyaway condition. This was done unilaterally without following the DPP, without any inter-governmental agreement and in the absence of India’s Defence Minister. However, Mr Anil Ambani, owner of Reliance Defence Limited was present in France during the Prime Minister’s visit.”

The Congress also alleged that PM Narendra Modi’s government has caused the exchequer an insurmountable loss by signing the deal at Rs 58,000 crore (8.7 billion euros). 

This is what noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan of Swaraj India party tweeted:

For BJP to justify #ModiRafaleScam by saying that price of Aircraft had to be tripled to enable servicing&training of pilots,is as absurd as Adani claiming:He had to buy power equipment of 5KCrs from China through his Dubai Co at 5 times price,since his Co gave extended warranty! — Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) November 17, 2017

Reliance Has Threatened To Sue The Opposition

On the other hand, the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Limited has threatened to sue the opposition party. Reliance Defence has called the allegations baseless and unfounded and asked the party to correct its facts or to face legal action.

The Reliance Defence has warned of legal action against the opposition if it does not withdraw the allegations. According to a report by the NDTV, the company said in a statement that, “Government policy issued on 24 June 2016 allows for 49% FDI in the Defence Sector under the automatic route without any prior approval. No approvals from the Union Cabinet or the CCS was required for the formation of the aforesaid Joint Venture company under the automatic route.”

For doing a front-page story on the same issue, Reliance Group of Companies have sued Mint’s Publisher HT Media Limited and nine others in the Bombay High Court on 2 October 2014.

Rafale Deal Is With India’S Defence Industry: France

France has categorically rejected the allegations made by the Congress party that the Narendra Modi government has negotiated an overpriced deal with French company Dassault to supply 36-state-of-the-art Rafale fighter jets.

According to a report by the Livemint, a French diplomat said, “It is certainly not benefiting one single player. The Rafale Omni-role fighter jet has been selected for its outstanding performance and competitive price. It has been selected after a fully transparent procedure compliant with the rules and regulations of the country. I am not going to enter into domestic political matters and I strongly believe that this is a domestic political matter.”

Under the agreement, the French side has made a 30-percent offset commitment for military aerospace R&D and the rest 20 percent for manufacturing the components of the Rafale aircraft in India.

“The Rafale Deal Is Cheaper And Better”

One significant rebuttal to the Congress accusation that the Narendra Modi government negotiated an overpriced deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France comes from the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa. According to a report by the Economic Times, he said, “It is not overpricing…We have negotiated for 36 French fighter aircraft Rafale at a price lower than that in the contract. The government has negotiated a very good deal“.

He further stressed the fact that it was a government-to-government deal and that the Indian Air Force was getting 36 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) at a “greatly negotiated” price. He further added, “It is definitely a better deal, it is lower than what was there in the contract.” Dhanoa said two aircraft had been purchased in a fly-away condition as an emergency measure.
Arguments by the ruling party

The BJP declared these allegations as baseless, calling out it as a media stunt to divert public attention from Rs. 3600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scam, occurring while NDA was in power.

BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said, “The Congress party has made baseless allegations over the Rafale deal to divert public attention and to cry political vendetta. None of these stunts will work and they must be ready to answer who took bribes in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal as the money trail is going to become known after the extradition of Carlos Gerosa.” Carlos Gerosa was one of the three alleged intermediaries in the chopper deal and he got arrested in Italy in October.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad rubbished the allegations levelled by Mr Gandhi. “They are finding it difficult to accept that that there is no case of corruption in the three-year rule of the Narendra Modi government,” said Mr Prasad, according to a report by The Hindu.


Is India's Nirbhay A Match For Pakistan's Babur?

'So far, Pakistan leads India in subsonic cruise missile development, having tested and operationally deployed the Babur cruise missile that has a range of 700 km, significantly less than the Nirbhay's'

The Nirbhay cruise missile, which the Defence Research and Development Organisation successfully test-fired on Tuesday, November 14, is a version of America's iconic Tomahawk cruise missile, made famous by CNN videos of the 1991 Gulf War, showing Tomahawks flying along Baghdad streets and entering target buildings through doors and windows.

Yet, despite Tuesday's success, Nirbhay remains an inconsistent performer. It has not yet demonstrated the reliability needed for launching nuclear weapons which require a delivery platform that is both reliable and accurate.

Three of the four earlier Nirbhaya tests ended in failure, making the outcome of this test crucial for the continuation of the troubled DRDO project.

Its test record contrasts unfavourably with that of the successful Indo-Russian BrahMos cruise missile, which has been in operational service since 2007 and will soon be carried by Indian Air Force Sukhoi-30MKIs.

The BrahMos has a range of 295 kilometres (being upgraded to 600 km) and flies at supersonic speeds (Mach 3, or 3,700 km per hour).

The Nirbhay's reach is longer (over 1,000 km), but it flies slower, at a subsonic speed of 865 km per hour.

While that makes it vulnerable to enemy air defence guns and aircraft, its survivability rests on flying low -- just 100 metres above the ground -- making it difficult to detect with radar.

While Russian propulsion technology has powered the BrahMos missile, DRDO continues to grapple with developing an adequate engine and pinpoint navigation systems for the Nirbhay.

So far, Pakistan leads India in subsonic cruise missile development, having tested and operationally deployed the Babur (Hatf VII) cruise missile that has a range of 700 km, significantly less than the Nirbhay's.
Analysts speculate that the Babur's engine is Chinese, supplied by Beijing in violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime.
The Nirbhay can carry a payload of 300 kg, the weight of a well-designed nuclear bomb.

It is 7.5 metres long, which would allow it to be carried inside a submarine. However, India has not claimed nuclear capability for the Nirbhay.

In contrast, Pakistan portrays the Babur as a nuclear delivery platform. Perhaps India's anti-ballistic missile defence that DRDO is developing makes Pakistan present the Babur as a nuclear delivery platform to add credibility to its deterrent.

Besides, Pakistan has no submarine launched ballistic missiles and, therefore, plays up the Babur as a vehicle for assured submarine-launched, second-strike capability, says a well-known deterrence specialist with an Indian think-tank.

Second-strike refers to a country's capability for assured nuclear retaliation after absorbing the full weight of nuclear attack from an adversary.

India's assured second-strike capability is based on the 750-km range K-15 SLBMs carried by the INS Arihant, the navy's first sub-surface ballistic nuclear submarine.

Arihant-class SSBNs (the second, INS Aridhaman, is nearing completion) are now being configured to carry the more capable K-4 SLBM which has an estimated range of 3,500 km to 4,000 km.

It is doubtful whether the Nirbhay will ever form part of a SSBN's arsenal.

The Nirbhay's first test on March 12 2013 was a failure. About 15 minutes into the test, DRDO had to activate an on-board, 'self-destruct' system after the missile deviated from its planned path and headed towards inhabited areas.

The Nirbhay's second test, on October 17, 2014, was an unalloyed success. In a 70-minute flight, the missile's inertial navigation system, assisted by the GPS satellite network, took the missile accurately to 15 pre-designated 'way points'.

After 1,050 km, the missile splashed, as planned, into the Bay of Bengal.

But two successive failures followed this, one in 2015 and the preceding test last December. Perhaps, for that reason, the defence ministry release on Tuesday stated: 'The flight test achieved all the mission objectives completely from lift-off till the final splash, boosting the confidence of all scientists associated with the trial.'


Modi Only World Statesman To Stand Up To China On OBOR: American Think-Tank Hudson Institute

The Chinese have already attacked this. They don't like it, said Pillsbury, who is considered an authority on China- related issues

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only world statesman to have stood up to China's Belt and Road Initiative even though the US has been silent on the ambitious project till recently, a top American expert on China said today.

During a Congressional hearing, Michael Pillsbury, Director of Center on Chinese Strategy at the prestigious think-tank Hudson Institute, told lawmakers that Modi and his team have been quite outspoken against Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious project.

"The only statesman in the world who stood up to it yet, is Prime Minister Modi. He and his team have been quite outspoken, partly because the Belt and Road Initiative includes violation of Indian sovereign claims, Pillsbury said.

"But the US government, until now and this is a five- year-old initiative if you count the early part of it, has been silent, he said.

Praising the Trump administration for its new Indo- Pacific strategy, the former Pentagon official said in recent days people have heard more than 50 times by members of the Trump administration including the president himself mentioning "free and open" Indo-Pacific region.

"The Chinese have already attacked this. They don't like it, said Pillsbury, who is considered an authority on China- related issues.

"The Indians, fairly recently, were joking about we want to make the Indian Ocean the Indian Ocean, by which they meant the purchase of several billion dollars worth of American PA aircraft, which have weapon systems in the back that can sink ships, frankly, and other improvements including maritime situational awareness and a big new center in Delhi where the Indians can keep track of both blue holes and grey holes going through the Indian Ocean, he said.

"Chinese are very angry about this. They have criticised the Obama administration for its effort to, as they say, boost India, to a higher rank order in comprehensive power than the Chinese believe India deserves, the top American expert on China said in response to a question.

Senator Ed Markey said China's signature Belt and Road Initiative that aims to position China as the uncontested leading power in Asia "may further coerce" its neighbours through loans they cannot repay.

The BRI aimed at building a vast network of infrastructure projects expanding China's expertise and capital to different parts of the world includes USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) over which India has protested as it traversed through Pakistan- occupied-Kashmir (PoK).

India boycotted the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) organised by China in May this year to highlight its concerns over Beijing pushing projects through the the PoK.

He said the US companies face the threat of intellectual property theft with reports that China has been stealing cutting-edge research as well as sensitive trade secrets from the US.

And that includes companies working in the clean energy sector who cannot compete with state-backed firms, he alleged.

Pillsbury said Chinese are offering low interest loans to countries that cannot afford it.

"We're already saw the example of Sri Lanka, which fell behind in its payments and then was the subject of coercion that if you transfer the main port here in Sri Lanka to Chinese control, we will forgive the debt. The Sri Lankans did it, he said.

There were concerns of debt burden brought in by the BRI projects after Sri Lanka opted for long-term lease of its Hambantota port for USD 1.12 billion debt swap.

"...So we are beginning to see, just through the media, what the Belt and Road Initiative may mean, Pillsbury told the lawmakers.

Senator Markey said China is challenging the very underpinnings of the global order that has brought peace and prosperity.

China has not lived up to its international obligations to help denuclearise the Korean Peninsula, he said.

"No country has greater leverage than China, which is responsible for approximately 90 per cent of North Korean trade," he noted.

Markey said, "China is challenging the international system elsewhere as well. It has constructed in violation of international law, military bases on artificial islands and disputed areas of the South China Sea."

"Through economic coercion, Beijing undermined the sovereignty of its smaller neighbours and countries including South Korea and the Philippines face Chinese retaliation for taking legal and sovereign actions in their own defence."

Panel On New Coastal Force Wants Coast Guard To Be Strengthened

New Delhi: A panel comprising the top internal security brass of the country has favoured the strengthening of the Coast Guard for a better safeguarding of the country's maritime boundaries, rather than raising a new coastal security force.

The proposal to raise a new Coastal Border Police Force (CBPF), on the lines of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), like the BSF and the ITBP, was mooted at a meeting convened in August by the Union home ministry with the chiefs of these forces.

The panel comprising the directors general of these forces discussed the matter at a recent meeting and concluded that the Coast Guard would be the best force to counter terror and other security threats along the over-7,000-km-long coastline of the country, official sources said.

The sources said the panel proposed that the Coast Guard be given an effective backup by the CAPFs deployed in the coastal areas, such as the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Border Security Force (BSF).

It was also discussed whether some personnel of the CAPFs could be sent on a special stint to the Coast Guard to work as external experts.

The recommendations made by the panel were sent to the home ministry, the sources said, adding that the ministry was expected to hold a fresh meeting on the matter soon.

At the August meeting, it was proposed that the new force -- the CBPF -- would guard the maritime frontiers closer to the country's landmass. The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) protects the country's maritime interests and enforces the maritime law. The territorial waters of India, including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone, come under the ICG's jurisdiction.

It also has a war-time role of assisting the Navy.