Monday, October 22, 2018

Defence Production: How HAL Can Counter Pessimistic Narrative And Demonstrate More Competence

HAL is developing a Heavy-Lift multi-role helicopter for the armed forces

While HAL has demonstrated technological and production competence, it may not survive the Centre's pessimism if it doesn't counter this narrative. HAL possesses requisite resources to undertake complex programs across eras

by Deba R Mohanty

Allegations of irregularities in major military purchases take little time to get politicised. Politicisation, especially before an election, causes much confusion in the minds of citizens while actors and stakeholders involved in the particular case take time to receive their dues—fair or unfair, depending on how the case plays out. Whether allegations are proved in due course of time (normally a long period), thanks primarily due to unfathomable nature of such transactions, a few stakeholders invariably bear the brunt at the end of the day while others get away.

That’s how the Rafale controversy is currently playing out and the biggest fall guy from this is undoubtedly the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), whose very credentials and existence are being questioned, even by government figures. One can always dismiss blunt statements from retired military personnel or some veteran journalists about HAL’s capabilities and contributions, bulk of which are either personal observations or pure lack-of-fact analyses, but statements from ministers like V K Singh and even the defence minister defy logic. This has happened for the first time that the entire government machinery appears to be gunning for its own entity in such a manner. This is problematic and worrisome, as it will denote disastrous consequences for HAL. Bagpipers like the Air Force chief and deputy chief, singing praises of Rafale, add insult to injury for HAL.

In order to have a more nuanced perspective on the changing military industrial dynamics in India in current times, three fundamental issues are examined here: a) Dassault’s non-selection of HAL as the prime point of share of manufacturing responsibilities (either as a nominated government entity or as an offsets partner); b) Dassault’s reported position on HAL’s refusal for a guarantee; and c) last but not the least, the Centre’s own pessimistic position on capabilities of HAL in fulfilling manufacturing requirements. All three inter-related issues, taken together, point to the assumption that HAL appears unfit to undertake the desired responsibilities for the state. Answers to these issues have been adequately provided by T Suvarna Raju, recently retired CMD of HAL.

Once the state goes against its own creature, which it has nurtured for decades, the latter may write its own obituary. HAL appears helpless at the moment: a) it is a silent spectator in this political slugfest, where it can not intervene on its own (Suvarna Raju spoke blunt, initially, and he appears to be silent now); b) its own bosses are pessimistic (MoD top brass along with IAF); c) it can’t even defend its position publicly as it is a government-owned enterprise (whereas, IAF chief and vice-chiefs can make public statements on Rafale and even the government decision); and d) last but not the least, it is precariously positioned to carry out regular orders from higher-ups for responsibilities beyond its jurisdictions, which it is too weak to refuse (for example, HAL deploys several hundreds of its officials and employees for several months just to manage events like Aero India, which is actually the responsibility of the Defence Exhibitions Organisation; even major works for Def Expo 2018 in Chennai were performed by the HAL). HAL gets occasional pats from MoD Babus for successfully organising such shows, while its legitimate dues (one such event costs around Rs 150 to 200 crore) are not paid in time or even denied by the citing of some excuses by Babus. In sum, it is unfortunate that from aspiring to become a global OEM, HAL appears to be degenerating into an event management entity. HAL can take all negativities with a pinch of salt. But, when its existence, relevance and expertise are questioned (based on perceptions or otherwise), it should stand and speak up. If it does not, as assumed before, its demise appears to be on the cards.

Here is a contrarian narrative on HAL: 

a) HAL possesses requisite resources to undertake complex programmes across eras (managing from MiGs, LCA Mark I and IA, Su 30 MKI, LCH, UAVs, all licence productions and mid-life upgrades of types like Mirage, Jaguar, HAWK AJT, etc.);
b) reasonable amount of expertise available within HAL to undertake complex programmes (unfortunately, such talents are not seamlessly accommodated properly in programmes, directed by DRDO’s ADA);
c) as a recently listed entity, it has already made impressive gains in terms of revenue and profits for the current financial year;
d) its enhanced capacity will be doubled with dedicated LCA division within Bangalore complex and the new assembly line will soon increase production of aircraft to 16 from 8 per annum;
e) last but not the least, its top leadership is confident of its future performance, only if the state allows.

One is at a loss to explain why a company like HAL, which has demonstrated capacities to manufacture (under license) frontline fighters like Su-30 or advanced jet trainers (AJTs) like Hawk (which can also perform the role of fighters, if needed), undertake complex mid-life upgrade of Mirage 2000 or indigenously develop LCA and LCH, among others, be perpetually questioned about its capabilities. Further, one is at a loss to explain why the LCA, which has been flown by senior Indian Air Force officers from time to time, including current IAF chief, deputy chiefs and others, is pilloried time and again. If LCA was such a bad product, even the chief of staff of the US Air Force, General David Goldfein, would have been hesitant to fly Tejas at the Jodhpur Airbase in February 2018 during his maiden visit to India. In the recently held AGM of now listed HAL, its CMD, R Madhavan, said: “We have recorded the highest ever turnover of Rs 18,283.8 crore in 2017-18 FY, compared to previous year’s turnover of Rs 17,603.79 crore. Profit before tax for the current year was Rs 3,322.8 crore as against Rs 3,582.5 crore in previous year, while the Profit After Tax (PAT) for the year was Rs 2,070.4 crore.

In the given period, it has produced 40 aircraft and helicopters covering Su-30 MKI, LCA Tejas and Dornier Do-228 in fixed wing and ALH Dhruv and Cheetal Helicopters in rotary wing, while in addition, it produced 105 new engines, overhauled 220 aircraft, helicopters and 550 engines and even 146 new aero-structures for space programs”. Such impressive financials are also diluted by political considerations: “in the last three years between 2015-16 and 2017-18, HAL’s money, to the tune of Rs 5,205 crore, has been given to the government through two rounds of buybacks—of 25% of the share capital and free reserves, which did not include interest component. Financial insults have been added to technological and perceptional injuries for HAL, thanks to  political considerations.

The beauty of arms production is its intertwined complications at technological, economic, structural, political and perceptional levels. HAL, unfortunately, is a victim of all such dynamics. If it is to survive, it has no other way but to search its soul, pull up its socks, stick to its ground and fight it out. A tall order, indeed.

'Attack On Press Freedom': Global Journalism Watchdog On Reliance Suing NDTV

NDTV has been sued for Rs. 10,000 crores by Reliance Group for Rafale coverage

New Delhi: The Committee to Protect Journalists, a global journalism watchdog, has called Anil Ambani's Reliance Group suing NDTV for its reportage on the Rafale fighter jet deal a severe attack on press freedom and called for the conglomerate to "end its use of excessive civil defamation cases filed against critical news outlets".

"The ridiculously massive civil defamation claim Reliance Group has made against NDTV amounts to a severe attack on press freedom in India," said Steven Butler, the Committee to Protect Journalists' Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C.

He added that "India's judiciary must ensure that powerful business groups cannot abuse the country's legal system to silence critics."

The Committee reported that a Reliance Group spokesperson declined to respond to their request for a comment.

NDTV has been sued for Rs. 10,000 crores by the Reliance Group in a court in Ahmedabad and the hearing has been listed for October 26. The lawsuit is filed against NDTV's weekly show, Truth vs Hype, which aired on September 29. Top executives of Reliance ignored repeated requests to appear on the show or comment on what is being widely discussed not just in India but in France as well - whether Anil Ambani's Reliance was transparently chosen as the partner for Dassault in a deal that saw India buying 36 fighter jets.

NDTV will argue in court that the charges of defamation are nothing more than a heavy-handed attempt by Anil Ambani's group to suppress the facts and prevent the media from doing its job - asking questions about a defence deal and seeking answers that are very much in public interest.

NDTV has said "As the Rafale deal has become a larger news story in India, the Reliance group has been on a notice-serving spree; to sue a news company for 10,000 crores in a court in Gujarat on false and frivolous charges, ignoring facts that are widely reported everywhere and not just by NDTV, can only be interpreted as an unsophisticated warning to the media to stop doing its job."

PAK SCAN: A Jealous Pakistan Scoffs At India's Growing Might

India ARJUN Main Battle Tank has matured as an lethal fighting machine

India’s Growing Military Hardware

India’s voracious appetite for possessing military hardware remains insatiable. It keeps spending billions of dollars on purchases of weapons system, all with an eye on its arch foes, China and Pakistan. Some deals, such as the one it cut last year with a South Korean defence contractor for the supply of 100 self-propelled howitzers, are meant to implement its so-called Cold Start Doctrine of a limited conventional war with Pakistan.

Its obsession with arms build-up knows no bounds. Small wonder then that New Delhi emerged as the largest buyer of Israeli arms in 2017. Tel Aviv’s exports are principally made up of aerial defence, radar systems and ammunition which New Delhi is ever so eager to pounce upon. It even lifted a ban on two Israeli arms companies, Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defence System Ltd, it had blacklisted over graft charges in 2006, to allow for a $2 billion deal with the former.

The latest contract to add to its arsenal is the sale of S-400 missiles by Russia. President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed the high-profile, dearly-priced deal earlier this month. It will cost the Indian state coffers some $5.43 billion. But aside from the cost, it will serve to add to bellicosity in a region already riven by tensions.

The deal was bound to elicit a warning and a little bit of bluster in the neighbourhood. Islamabad, for its part, said the purchase could destabilise the region but hastened to talk down its efficacy, noting that Pakistan had developed capabilities that could defeat India’s planned Ballistic Missile Defence system. Defence experts, however, are unsure if this heavy investment will bear the intended fruit, noting that India may not be able to mount an effective defence against strikes by Pakistani missiles in case hostilities break out. Be that as it may, the arms race is never in the interest of teeming millions inhabiting the two countries. At the risk of sounding clichéd, we suggest that the money poured into weapons purchases be instead ploughed back into social causes and for lifting the two countries’ people out of poverty.

Lashkar Threatens To Blow Up Ujjain's Mahakal Temple, Forces On High Alert

Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based terror group, has threatened to carry out series of attack in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh

According to an HT report, Lashkar’s area commander Maulvi Abu Sheikh had written a warning note from Rawalpindi, which was ‘received’ by railway officials in Jaipur on September 29. 

The letter said that attacks will be carried out on October 20 and November 9. With October 20 passing off peacefully, the security agencies are on high alert for any untoward incident on November 9. The terror group will be specifically targeting railways stations across Madhya Pradesh. Bhopal, Gwalior, Katni and Jabalpur have been put on high alert. 

The threat comes at a time when two of these states are preparing for the state Assembly elections in December. Both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh is witnessing intense poll campaigning by various political parties. 

Lashkar is the same group that carried out deadly 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in 2008. A group of 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) terrorists from Pakistan carried out coordinated attacks in Mumbai from November 26 to 29 in 2008, which claimed 166 lives and left more than 300 injured.

Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught in Mumbai and hanged after being handed down a death sentence. Not only is the probe going slow, the masterminds Zaki-ur-Rehman and Hafiz Saeed are currently roaming freely in Pakistan.

Hafiz Saeed has launched a political outfit whereas Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi is reportedly raising funds for the outfit's terror activities. He is actively organising collection of donations in Punjab coinciding with the wheat harvesting season, said a report quoting sources. Zakiur Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Sadiq, Shahid Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum – have been facing charges related to the attacks since 2009.

There were reports that a mosque in Haryana’s Palwal was built with help of Lashkar funds.

Two Pakistani Intruders, Three Soldiers Killed In Jammu & Kashmir'S Rajouri

He said three soldiers were killed while fighting the intruders and another soldier suffered grievous injuries and has been airlifted to the Army Command hospital in Udhampur.

Two heavily armed Pakistani intruders and three soldiers were killed Sunday in a gunfight after the Army foiled an infiltration bid along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, a defence spokesman said.

The slain intruders are believed to be members of a Border Action Team (BAT) comprising Pakistan Army Jawans and trained militants, an army officer said on condition of anonymity.

"At about 1.45 pm, Indian Army in Sunderbani sector had a fierce encounter with heavily armed Pakistani intruders very close to the LoC. The patrol (team) killed two intruders and recovered war-like stores including two AK-47 rifles," the spokesman said.

He said three soldiers were killed while fighting the intruders and another soldier suffered grievous injuries and has been airlifted to the Army Command hospital in Udhampur.

The injured soldier's condition is reported to be stable, the spokesman said.

He said the area near the encounter site was cordoned off and a "search-and-destroy" operation is in progress.

India Will Hit Back With 'Double The Force' If Its Sovereignty Is Challenged: PM Modi

PM Narendra Modi (donning the famous Azad Hind Fauj cap) speaking at an event at Red Fort to mark the 75th anniversary of proclamation of the Azad Hind Government

India never eyes anyone else's territory but will hit back with "double the force" if its sovereignty is ever challenged, Prime Minister Modi said Sunday at an event to mark the 75th anniversary of proclamation of the Azad Hind government by Subhas Chandra Bose.

He also said his government is working towards providing the armed fores with better technology and latest weapons even as efforts are underway to make the lives of soldiers easier by extending them with better facilities.

Modi said his government took decisions such as carrying out surgical strikes across the Line of Control and providing benefits of 'one rank, one pension' to ex-servicemen.

The prime minister hoisted the national flag at the historic Red Fort to mark the event.

Donning the cap of the Indian National Army presented to him by one of the close aides of Bose, Modi said it has been the Indian tradition not to eye someone else's territory, "but when our sovereignty is challenged, we will hit back with double the force." He also cautioned people against forces inside and outside India which are working against the country by targeting it and its constitutional values.

He said a feeling of nationalism and "Indianness" is must to counter such designs.

Referring to the opposition faced by Bose when he decided to establish the Rani Jhansi Regiment -- an all women unit of the INA, Modi said the regiment would complete 75 years of its establishment on Monday.

He said, the present government is trying to fulfil the dreams of Bose even as he recalled the decision to alow women in the Army to opt for permanent commission from short service commission following a transparent procedure.

The prime minister said the air force is set to have the first batch of women fighter pilots.

He said arrears worth Rs 11,000 crore have been released for ex-servicemen under the 'one rank, one pension' (OROP) scheme. OROP, coupled by recommendations of the seventh pay commission, have given "double bonanza" to former servicemen, he said.

Modi also said the work on the National War Memorial is in its last stages.

3 Terrorists Gunned Down In Fierce Gun Battle In Kashmir’s Kulgam

Three terrorists were gunned down in an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam town on Sunday

The identity of the terrorists is yet to be ascertained. Giving the details about the security operation, DGP Dilbag Singh said, ‘The encounter concluded just now and I have been told that three terrorists were neutralised in it. The operation is being wound up.’

The encounter broke out between terrorists and security forces in Kulgam’s Larro area in early morning hours. 

A cordon and search operation was launched in the Laroo area in south Kashmir this morning following specific information about the presence of terrorists in the area, a police official said.

Forces were conducting searches, when the terrorists fired on them, and an encounter broke out.

The fierce gunfight ensued in which three terrorists were killed. There are reports that two jawans were also injured during the operation. 

The gun battle comes a day after the National Investigation Agency arrested a key the Nagarkota attack. Mohammad Ashraf Khandey of Achhan village in Pulwama district was picked from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. Khandey, who was on the run, had planned to move to Saudi Arabia via Sri Lanka, said officials. In 2016, Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists had killed seven soldiers in an Army camp in Nagrota of Jammu and Kashmir. 

According to the NIA, Khandey was a co-conspirator in facilitating, harbouring and transporting the JeM men. The Pakistan-based terror outfit was founded by Masood Azhar, who was freed by India in 1999 in exchange for passengers on board the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC814 that had been taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Security forces had gunned down the terrorists in a daylong fight. Sixteen hostages, including 12 soldiers, two women and as many kids, were rescued by the Army. It was found that the JeM attackers had infiltrated into India through the International Border in Kathua-Samba sector in the intervening night of November 27 and 28, 2016.

PM Modi Hoists Tricolour At Red Fort To Mark 75th Anniversary of Subhas Chandra Bose’s 'Azad Hind Government'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi salutes our tricolour at the historic Red Fort

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hoisted tricolour at the historic Red Fort to mark the 75th anniversary of the 'Azad Hind Government' headed by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. 

Traditionally, the prime minister hoists the national tricolour at the Red Fort on August 15.

Speaking at the function marking 75 years of the proclamation of the 'Azad Hind Government', the prime minister said, “Netaji had promised an India where everyone has equal rights and equal opportunities. He had promised a prosperous nation which was proud of its traditions, development in all areas. He had promised to uproot 'divide & rule'. Those dreams remain unfulfilled even after so many years.” 

Modi had announced on Wednesday that he would join a flag-hoisting ceremony at Red Fort on October 21. Bose had announced the formation of the country's first independent government on October 21, 1943. The Prime Minister would also lay the foundation stone of a museum dedicated to the Azad Hind Fauj.

In a video interaction with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers on Wednesday, Modi spoke at length about his government's works to celebrate the contributions of many personalities who, he said, were neglected by the Congress in its rule of several decades.

"I will have the opportunity to participate in a flag-hoisting ceremony at Red Fort on October 21. Now you will ask - why the flag-hoisting on October 21? I know some people will criticise even this. What is the significance of this day? This October 21, it will be 75 years of Subhas Chandra Bose's 'Azad Hind Government," Modi said. 

While the Congress neglected the likes of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Bose and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the BJP believed in remembering everybody who contributed to nation-building, he said, citing his government's works, including constructing museums for noted tribal personalities and developing five places linked to Dalit icon Ambedkar.

"We respect everybody who served the country," he said while noting that he recently inaugurated a statue of Sir Chhotu Ram in Haryana. 

61,000 Posts Lying Vacant In Paramilitary Forces

Over 61,000 posts of central paramilitary personnel are lying vacant in six paramilitary forces in the country, Home Ministry statistics said.

Altogether, 18,460 posts are lying vacant in the country's largest paramilitary force, CRPF, as on March 1, 2018, while 10,738 posts are remaining vacant in the border guarding force BSF.

A home ministry official said the vacancies in the paramilitary forces arise due to retirement, resignation, death, creation of new posts or raising of new battalions.

"The vacancies are filled through various modes, including direct recruitment, promotion and by deputation as per the extant provisions of recruitment rules. Filling up of vacancies is a continuous process," he said.

As many as 18,942 posts are lying vacant with the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) as on March 1, 2018, while 5,786 posts are vacant in the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

There are 3,840 vacancies in the Assam Rifles and 3,812 vacancies in the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) as on the said date.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is primarily deployed for the assistance of state police forces in internal security, fighting militants in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, and in anti-Naxal operations in Maoist-hit areas. The Border Security Force (BSF) guards the Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangladesh borders, while the SSB protects the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders, and the ITBP is deployed along the Sino-Indian border.

The CISF guards the airports, nuclear and industrial installations, sensitive government buildings, Delhi Metro besides others.

The Assam Rifles is deployed for guarding the Indo-Myanmar border and fighting insurgency in the Northeast.

The combined strength of the paramilitary forces is around 10 lakh.

Cochin Shipyard To Lease Mumbai Port's Dry Dock

Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) is set to get the lease for Mumbai Port Trust's (MbPT) Hughes Dry Dock facility as well as four berths at the Indira Dock on Saturday. This will help the Kerala-based shipbuilder to service around 100 more ships every year, apart from spreading its ship repair services beyond South India.

The over-a-century-old Hughes Dry Dock facility and the berths at the Indira Dock at the MbPT premises are being given out to CSL for a period of 29 years. The Cochin-based shipbuilder will provide end-to-end ship repair solution to ship owners and use the berths at the Indira dock for deployment of floating dry dock and afloat repairs. 

“MbPT will receive annual fees of approximately Rs 14.80 crore with an annual escalation of 2.5%. There will also be a profit share of 5% on profit after tax for the initial period of four years and 7.50% thereafter,” said Sanjay Bhatia, chairman, MbPT.

A Memorandum of Understanding for the same was inked between both the entities in January this year.

As per the arrangement between the two government-owned firms, services of existing skilled employees of MbPT will continue to be utilised by the CSL by way of deputation to CSL. Hence, there would not be any cut down in manpower at the Mumbai-based port. The leased out facilities will be managed and operated by CSL.

Over the last few years, the MbPT has been focusing more on citizen-related services and recreational facilities inside its port premises. As a result, the direct involvement of the port trust towards core shipping and shipping-related activities has been on a decline. For example, the offshore container terminal has been shelved for Ro-Ro (Roll on-Roll off) terminal. Secondly, the ship-breaking facility, too, is almost shut. Part of the port land is being opened up for ‘port land development’ project, which would have residential and commercial establishments.

The MbPT is also looking at options to generate revenue by leasing out its assets for ancillary services. For example, it has opened up its vacant land within the port premises for Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), wherein barge operators will take containers from JN Port to berths at Mumbai Port. For now, New Sewree Warehouse at MbPT, spread over 24,000 square metres, has been earmarked for the project

According to CSL, the Hughes Dry Dock, as well as four berths at Indira Dock, are likely to be utilised for commercial as well as defence ship repairs. Other than CSL, Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd are also looking to diversify into ship repairs.

UK Government Aims To Close Loophole In Anti-Terror Laws

Pakistani-origin radical Islamist preacher, Anjem Choudary

"As part of his strict licensing conditions, Choudary is only permitted to attend one mosque that has been given prior approval," a source told the newspaper

The UK government is looking at closing a loophole in the anti-terror laws that allowed the early release of Pakistani-origin radical Islamist preacher, Anjem Choudary, from the jail earlier this week, according to media reports Sunday.

The release of Choudary after serving just half of his five-and-a-half-year sentence for inciting support for the Islamic State (IS) terror group had led to UK security minister Ben Wallace's assurance that "Jihadists convicted of inviting support for terrorist groups such as ISIS would no longer be eligible for such an early release", The Sunday Times reported.

The 51-year-old preacher was charged with one of the few terror offences that prohibits a UK judge from imposing an "extended determinate sentence" (EDS), which allows a "dangerous" offender to be kept inside jail beyond the halfway point of his sentence.

Responding to his release, Wallace said that the offence Choudary had committed would be brought "within the scope" of the EDS regime, the report said.

Choudary was freed from the London's high-security Belmarsh jail on Friday for reported "good behaviour" and moved to a bail hostel under 25 strict conditions on his movement and interactions with the outside world.

There was widespread outrage that the so-called "preacher of hate", whose followers have been linked with the London Bridge terror attack in June last year and included Indian-origin ISIS fighter Siddhartha Dhar, was released so early.

It has since emerged that 35-year-old Dhar, a former salesman from Walthamstow in east London who converted to Islam and became known as Abu Rumaysah, has been killed in Syria.

Dhar, one Choudary's key followers, had gained notoriety by appearing in an ISIS video in 2016 in which he shot a prisoner in the back of the head while making threats to David Cameron, then British Prime Minister.

When Justice Holroyde sentenced Choudary at the Old Bailey court in London September 2016, he said he thought the cleric would continue to spread his poisonous ideology, but added that he had "no power to impose an extended sentence".

According to a report in 'The Sunday Telegraph', the UK-born preacher has been shunned by many of the imams across London's mosques since his release.

Choudary is only permitted to attend a single place of worship that has been approved by officials from the UK's Ministry of Justice.

He was asked to submit a list of mosques he wished to visit, but when they were approached by the UK authorities asking if they objected to him attending, many of the imams said he would not be welcome.

"As part of his strict licensing conditions, Choudary is only permitted to attend one mosque that has been given prior approval," a source told the newspaper.

"He was asked to submit a list of his preferred options and then they were asked if they would be willing to accommodate him. However, it was clear that many of the mosques he wanted to visit did not want him mixing with their worshippers," the source added.

The father of five is understood to have applied for state-funded legal aid to try to fight the strict 25 rules that limit his movements and actions while serving the rest of his prison term outside jail. They include wearing an electronic tag, monitoring of whom he can associate with, not being allowed the use of the internet or speak to anyone aged under 18.

It is believed that the human rights law firm Birnberg Peirce, who are acting for him, has written to the Ministry of Justice claiming the restrictions breach his human rights.

If Choudary is held in breach of any of the conditions, he will be returned to prison to complete the remaining half of his five-and-a-half-year sentence for pledging an oath of allegiance to IS behind bars.

U.S. Withdrawal From Nuclear Arms Deal 'Dangerous Step': Moscow

Withdrawing from a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty with Russia as President Donald Trump has announced he plans to do is a dangerous step, Russia's deputy foreign minister warned on Sunday.

"This would be a very dangerous step that, I'm sure, not only will not be comprehended by the international community but will provoke serious condemnation," deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told TASS state news agency.

The treaty is "significant for international security and security in the sphere of nuclear arms, for the maintenance of strategic stability," he stressed.

Russia condemned what he called attempts by the US to gain concessions "through a method of blackmail", he added.

If the US continues to act "clumsily and crudely" and unilaterally back out of international agreements "then we will have no choice but to undertake retaliatory measures including involving military technology," Ryabkov told RIA Novosti news agency.

"But we would not want to get to this stage," he added.

On Saturday, Trump announced US plans to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, signed in 1987 by the then US president Ronald Reagan.

"We're the ones who have stayed in the agreement and we've honoured the agreement, but Russia has not unfortunately honoured the agreement, so we're going to terminate the agreement and we're going to pull out," said Trump.

But Ryabkov on Sunday denied Trump's accusations, throwing the accusation back at Washington.

"We don't just not violate (the treaty), we observe it in the strictest way," he insisted.

"And we have shown patience while pointing out over the course of many years the flagrant violations of this treaty by the US itself."

US National Security Advisor John Bolton is set to arrive in Moscow on Sunday.

"We hope that we will hear from him during meetings, tomorrow and the day after, more substantively and clearly what the American side intends to undertake," said Ryabkov.

Earlier a foreign ministry source told Russian news agencies that the US move was connected to its "dream of a unipolar world", an argument that Ryabkov also advanced.

"Apparently the existence of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty creates problems for establishing a line of total US domination and supremacy in the military sphere," he said.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Is Modi Repeating Nehru’s Mistakes That Cost 1962 Indo-China War?

Has the current government learnt anything since the 1962 Indo-China war, or are they repeating the same mistakes of their predecessors

by C Uday Bhaskar

For those Indians who lived through that period, 20 October 1962 will remain etched as a day of deep national humiliation.

A direct threat to India’s territorial integrity found the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the national security apex in Delhi floundering against a concerted Chinese military aggression in the Indian north-east that could not be countered.

A month later in November, after the fall of Bomdila (now in Arunachal Pradesh) PM Nehru spoke in anguish and reached out to “ our countrymen in Assam, to whom our heart goes out at this moment .”

This was seen as a case of abject surrender and it is a different matter that the Chinese troops withdrew unilaterally after administering a ‘lesson’ to India. It was a costly lesson, for it is estimated that the total number of Indian Army personnel killed, wounded, missing or captured is almost 10,000.

Has Delhi internalised this experience of 1962 in the appropriate manner? Half a century later, the answer, alas cannot be a definitive yes and the déjà vu apropos higher defence management and the governance template apropos national security is disconcerting.

The received wisdom about the October 1962 debacle is that then PM Nehru misread the political signals coming from Beijing and was also misled by his closest advisors.

In the run up to 1962, there were sage voices that cautioned Nehru about China and the national security implications of an unresolved territorial cum border dispute and these included Home Minister Sardar Patel and Army Chief General Thimmaya.

A Road Map To India’s Defeat

However, then intelligence czar BN Mullick , a tempestuous Defence Minister Krishna Menon and a coterie that included Lt Gen BM Kaul led Nehru down the path of personal and national humiliation.

As always, national sovereignty had to be defended by the hapless Indian soldier against all odds and it was raw courage and heroism that provided a silver lining to a very dark cloud.

The late BG Vergheese, one of just two Indian correspondents who remained in NEFA (North-East Frontier Agency) during that brief war recalled:

“From 15 to 17 November, we drove up to Se La (15,000 feet) and Dirang Dzong in the valley beyond before the climb to Bomdila. Jawans in cottons and perhaps a light sweater and canvas shoes were manhandling ancient 25-pounders into position at various vantage points. We had seen and heard (General) Bijji Kaul’s theatrics and bravado at 4 Corps headquarters a day earlier and were shocked to see the reality: ill-equipped, unprepared but cheerful officers and men digging in to hold back the enemy under the command of a very gallant officer, Brig Hoshiar Singh.”

Lesson Unlearned: The Lingering Problems Since ’62

The déjà vu about October 1962 is discernible in certain rhythms of the current times that have not received the attention they warrant, given that all the oxygen in the public domain about national security has been sucked up by the Rafale deal and the unsavoury political mud-slinging.

The symbolism of the Indian jawan in a light sweater and canvas shoes at high altitude manning vintage guns continues to this day – and it rarely figures in parliamentary deliberations.

The report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence submitted by Major General (rtd) BC Khanduri in March 2018 is illustrative.

It noted that the fund allocation “is not supportive to the inevitable needs of the army” and added that there are “huge deficiencies and obsolescence of weapons, stores and ammunition existing in the Indian Army.” Almost two thirds of the equipment inventory of the army was deemed to be ‘vintage’.

The second déjà vu strand is the tenacious distancing of the military from policy-making or meaningful involvement in the higher defence management of the country.

A former naval chief Admiral Arun Prakash had drawn attention to the existing rules of business in the government of India, wherein the service chiefs are ‘ the three invisible men’ and the responsibility of the defence of India is vested in the bureaucracy.

‘NSA Emerging As the Most Empowered Entity’

In recent months there has been a consolidation and revamp of the management of national security by the Modi government and the NSA (National Security Advisor) has emerged as the most empowered entity – now assuming responsibility for matters that were earlier in the purview of the Defence Ministry.

The distancing of the military from the policy loop has been further evidenced in the most recent revamp of the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), wherein three deputy NSAs have been appointed but none of them are from the armed forces.

It may be recalled that during the UPA II tenure, a serving three star General was appointed as Military Adviser (MA) in the NSCS in May 2011 and this was the first such appointment of inducting a serving member of the armed forces.

The officer Lt Gen Prakash Menon (who retired in late 2011) continued as the MA till mid 2014 and was later appointed as an OSD (officer on special duty) in the NSCS for two years from March 2015 to 2017 and reported to NSA Doval.

After a gap of a year, another retired Lt General (VG Khandare) has been appointed as the MA.

The post of an MA is not quite the same as being part of the NSA vertical and the orientation of the Indian political leadership over the last two decades is instructive.

‘Diplomats & Police Officers As Core Officials, While Military Is Marginalised’

It is evident that that the top tier of national security management is increasingly being entrusted to the civilian bureaucracy – diplomats and police officers in the main – and the core professionals, the military remain on the margins.

During the 50th anniversary recall of 1962 , BG Vergheese opined about this continuing anomaly of ostracising the military:

“Mullick and Menon sowed in Nehru’s mind the notion that a powerful chief might stage a coup (as Ayub had done in Pakistan). This myth was for long, a factor in the Indian government’s aversion to the idea of appointing a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).”

While the selection of top advisors is the prerogative of the prime minister in a parliamentary democracy, the tenacious marginalisation of the military as an institution in the management of national security from Nehru to Modi is not conducive to the optimum utilisation of the sizable resource of military professionals.

October 1962 needs to be reviewed more objectively by the Indian parliament for lessons still not learnt.

The writer is a leading expert on strategic affairs

UAE May Buy Tejas Fighter Jets Due To Combined US, Russian, Israeli Technology

Mohammed Ahmed Al Bawardi Al Falacy, UAE’s minister of state for defence affairs recently visited HAL facilities in Bengaluru and was given a briefing of the ongoing projects in the HAL. Al Falacy was taken around the Helicopter Complex, LCA Tejas Division and Hawk final assembly hangar. He displayed a keen interest in LCA Tejas,” HAL said releasing a statement.

The UAE minister also visited the Indian Air Force’s Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment which conducts flight testing of aircraft, airborne systems and weapon stores, prior to their induction.

Earlier, the long-delayed LCA Tejas program successfully demonstrated its air-to-air refuelling capability during a trial involving an Ilyushin Il-78MKI tanker. The successful refuelling test was described as a big leap in the developmental stage and improved the possibilities of the fighter jet getting a final operational clearance certificate.

Currently, the HAL is working on an order of 123 such jets ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF), which is thinking of additional purchase of the advanced version of the aircraft. Singapore, Egypt, and Sri Lanka had earlier shown interest in the jet, but they never revealed the status, officially, of such interest. The low cost and simple design of Tejas make it attractive for cost-conscious countries in Asia.

India Walking A Tightrope With US And Russian Defence Systems

India finalised the acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defence missile system earlier in October

Compatibility problems could mean the two missile systems might not work seamlessly together

by Emanuele Scimia

India is aiming to modernise its strategic arsenal with the introduction of advanced US and Russian defence systems. However, some military experts say that while the South Asian giant needs foreign technologies to become a self-sufficient arms manufacturer – and autonomous global geopolitical player – technical problems could limit their coexistence.

The Indian government finalised the acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defence missile system earlier this month and is said to be considering the purchase of the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II (NASAMS-II) from the United States.

Aside from geopolitical considerations related to Washington’s secondary sanctions against Moscow, the inclusion of these two platforms in India’s developing multi-tiered air defence network could pose problems of compatibility.

Turkey, a US ally in the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), is coping with similar challenges while going ahead with the S-400’s procurement. America and other NATO countries argue that the Russian system cannot be integrated with the alliance’s defence framework as it presents problems of interoperability. By this reasoning, the S-400 should also not be compatible with the NASAMS – which is built by the US Raytheon National in cooperation with Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace of Norway.

The crucial question for Delhi, as well as Washington and the Kremlin, is determining whether the two systems can coexist as part India’s prospective air defence framework.

India has already deployed the Israeli-manufactured SPYDER air defence system and will co-develop a Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) platform for the army with Israel Aerospace Industries. In addition, they are working on an indigenous Ballistic Missile Defence shield, which will be equipped with Swordfish radar, a variant of an Israeli model.

Interoperability Problems

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the US$5.3 billion deal on the S-400 on October 5. Washington has several times threatened to impose sanctions on India for acquiring Russian arms systems.

According to the Countering America’s Adversaries Sanctions Act (CAATSA) – which the US Congress passed in response to Russia’s alleged meddling in American politics and armed intervention in Syria and Ukraine – the US government can penalise countries that engage in “significant transactions” with Russia’s intelligence and military sectors. That said, it seems US President Donald Trump is ready to grant a waiver to Delhi.

India, historically a big purchaser of Russian weapons, is buying more advanced US military items. However, this diversification of arms suppliers could undermine Delhi’s efforts to set up a national grid connecting all its air and missile defences. The S-400 and the NASAMS have different encryption systems, and this will force the Indian Air Force to integrate them into its command and control system separately. Without exception, air and missile shields are still largely untested against multiple enemy attacks and India’s patchy defence network could prove to be even less capable.

Retired Indian Major General Shashi Asthana told Asia Times that his country had gotten used to handling weapons platforms from Russia, the US, Israel and France under its “Make in India” industrial initiative. “Defence self-sufficiency is the best option for India, but the transition to this stage through a transfer of technology and its absorption will take some time,” he said. “We have signed the deal on the S-400 for the interim period because we need a variety of systems for our multi-layered air defence umbrella.”

There are also economic reasons behind the Modi administration’s decision to turn to different foreign suppliers, Asthana added. “India has been the world’s largest buyer of military equipment in recent years and is seeking to strike competitive deals.” However, he admitted that the Indian armed forces would have shortcomings in interoperability “until the country becomes self-reliant.”

Leaking of Defence Secrets

As to whether codes and technology linked to NASAMS batteries could be exposed to data collection by S-400 units operated by the Indian military, and vice versa, Alexander Savelyev, chief research fellow at the Moscow-based Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, said that such interference was technically possible. But he noted the two systems should first be reprogrammed with the help of specialists authorised by the suppliers, which is presumably prohibited by both the US and Russia.

Questions have reportedly been raised about the possibility of Moscow having access to NATO’s technical data and defence secrets should Russian technicians assist Turkey in deploying the S-400. Asthana, who is currently a chief instructor at Delhi-based think-tank United Service Institution of India, dismissed this concern. “The problems of secrecy [in supporting incompatible assets such as the S-400 and the NASAMS] are normally dealt with by way of specific contract clauses and the conclusion of COMCASA-like accords with the countries concerned,” he said.

India and the US inked the COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) last month. Such a pact will allow both countries to share communication and satellite data and ease Delhi’s access to high-end US defence products.