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IDN pays homage to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee
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Friday, August 17, 2018

Ashok Tandon: Atal Bihari Vajpayee Went Against All Odds To Establish India’s Nuclear Credentials


But before Vajpayee could go ahead with the requisite preparations for the historic task of declaring India a nuclear power he was ousted from the office

by Ashok Tandon 

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, during his political career spanning over six decades, always believed in personal equations and developed friendly relations across party lines. His proximity with former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao was always a matter of curious discussion within their respective political parties. During his premiership Rao had deputed Vajpayee as leader of the Indian delegation to the special session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) in Geneva where a Pakistan-sponsored resolution to censure India on its record of human rights in Jammu & Kashmir was successfully thwarted. Rao’s gesture did not go down well within his party. Salman Khurshid, the then minister of state for external affairs, was particularly upset working under Vajpayee in Geneva.

When the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the 1996 Lok Sabha election, Rao had an inkling that the US would be lobbying to deny premiership to Vajpayee in the event of a hung Lok Sabha. Washington’s apathy towards Vajpayee was clearly reflected in some declassified emails sent to Washington by the US embassy in New Delhi.

However, when the then President Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma appointed Vajpayee as the prime minister and asked him to prove his majority on the floor of the house, Rao quietly passed on a chit to Vajpayee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan swearing-in-ceremony which Vajpayee said, “Now is the time to accomplish my unfinished task.” The task Narasimha Rao had failed to accomplish during his premiership was the nuclear tests at Pokhran.

But before Vajpayee could go ahead with the requisite preparations for the historic task of declaring India a nuclear power he was ousted from the office. After the 1998 mid-term election, when Vajpayee returned to the saddle heading a coalition NDA government the first thing he did was to order nuclear tests at Pokhran on May 11 and 13, 1998, a delicate task which Indian scientists accomplished with precision, putting India in the elite global nuclear club.

According to the classified documents, the US was taken by surprise by the success of the Indian agencies in maintaining utmost secrecy and the manner in which they deceived the US intelligence. Having learned from the 1995 experience, India, under strict instructions from Vajpayee’s national security adviser Brajesh Mishra, hid its test preparations through a deception campaign, including far better concealment of the activities at Pokhran.

The author was the media adviser to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee


China 'Likely' Training Pilots To Target US: Pentagon


WASHINGTON: China is actively developing its fleet of long-range bombers and "likely" training its pilots for missions targeting the US, according to a new Pentagon report.

"Over the last three years, the PLA (People's Liberation Army) has rapidly expanded its over water bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and allied targets," CNN quoted the report as saying on Thursday.

The report, which is mandated by Congress, details Chinese military developments over the previous year.

It also says that China is pursuing a nuclear capability on its long-range bombers, saying the Chinese air force "has been re-assigned a nuclear mission".

"The deployment and integration of nuclear capable bombers would, for the first time, provide China with a nuclear 'triad' of delivery systems dispersed across land, sea, and air," the report said.

It says that in addition to the bombers Beijing already operates, "China is developing a stealthy, long-range strategic bomber with a nuclear delivery capability that could be operational within the next 10 years".

China is deploying "increasingly advance military capabilities intended to coerce Taiwan" in a bid to prevent self-governing Taiwan from declaring independence, CNN reported quoting the report as saying.

The document notes that China has established its first overseas base in Djibouti and that it "will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries". 

China continues to develop counter-space capabilities, "including kinetic-kill missiles,ground-based lasers and orbiting space robots" and also working "to expand space surveillance capabilities that can monitor objects across the globe and in space and enable counter-space actions", the report added.


India Raises Intrusion In Pir Panjal With Pakistan


The quantum of ceasefire violation has drastically reduced and augurs well for future, the statement said. Early this month, four Indian Army personnel were killed in an encounter while trying to stop an infiltration bid in Gurez in north Kashmir

New Delhi: Asserting that infiltration by terrorists was a major concern, India on Thursday told Pakistan that intrusions have increased in the north of Pir Panjal mountain ranges and Islamabad must take measures to prevent it.

A statement by the Indian Army said the Director Generals of Military Operations of the two armies held talks and expressed pleasantries on the occasion of Independence Day.

The Pakistan DGMO made an assurance that the Pakistani Army will take prompt action against any move of inimical elements in proximity to the LoC and respond to information shared by the Indian side, thereby facilitating the conduct of anti-terrorist operations, the statement said.

“The Indian DGMO emphatically stated that infiltration attempts by terrorists were a major cause of concern. He also informed the Pakistan DGMO that these activities have increased in the areas north of Pir Panjal mountain ranges. Pakistan must institute measures to prevent infiltration from the launch pads located on its side of the Line of Control,” it said.

Early this month, four Indian Army personnel were killed in an encounter while trying to stop an infiltration bid in Gurez in north Kashmir.

The Pakistan DGMO, the statement said, expressed satisfaction on the measures being taken along the Line of Control by troops to maintain peace and tranquillity. The quantum of ceasefire violation has drastically reduced and augurs well for future, the statement said.

“Indian DGMO assured that the Indian Army will abide by its commitment to uphold the Ceasefire Understanding of 2003 provided Pakistani Army initiates positive steps to control infiltration and abetment of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir,” it said. In May, the DGMOs of India and Pakistan had decided to follow the 2003 ceasefire agreement in letter and spirit.


Why Theatre Commands Is An Unnecessary Idea


We must be realistic about where India stands. Our focus is on defending our territory and we need to structure our forces and strategy accordingly

by S Krishnaswamy

They will require large increase in defence expenditure with doubtful returns. Country should focus on modernising its forces and innovating strategic solutions

There have been murmurs of a debate in recent days about the idea of forming three integrated military Theatre Commands, covering the Northern, Eastern and Southern territory, that would subsume all operational functions of the existing 19 predominantly single-service commands in their respective geographical areas. The Theatre Command concept is over-simplified. Conceptually, one visualises large theatre operations like Normandy landings and other World War II campaigns that involved large manoeuvring armies. However, technology now offers stand-off means and special weapons that can degrade and destroy the enemy’s potential effectively and reduce the need for direct confrontation. The days of large manoeuvring armies are over, especially in a nuclear-threat scenario.

We must be realistic about where India stands. Our focus is on defending our territory and we need to structure our forces and strategy accordingly. Interestingly, the current responsibilities of the 19 commands towards administering, training, equipping and supporting the forces under their charge would in no way diminish if such Theatre Commands are formed. The creation of few more general rank posts would be sought. Do we really need to get organisationally so top-heavy — it is so even now — thereby diluting the ranks? There is scope to “de-brass” the military even in the current structure by reducing the number of two and three stars and improving the teeth-to-tail ratio.

In military planning, one must consider India’s needs and challenges. India is one of the fastest-growing economies of the world and promotes its image as a peace-loving, mature and a dependable power. Many nations in its neighbourhood are economically weak and depend on India for their own progress. However, India is still a developing country and its economy may not be strong enough to withstand many storms. Dividing the country into military theatres sounds jingoist. Having attended several Cabinet Committee on Security deliberations when the country nearly went into war, I learnt that any battle that India may be compelled to enter must remain short and swift.

In this present scenario, forming Theatre Commands would demand large increase in expenditure with doubtful returns. Before we embark on a new organisation, the government must evaluate the efficacy of the current Integrated Defence Headquarters including the two joint commands — the Strategic Forces Command and ANC (Andaman and Nicobar Command). The core issue to be addressed when considering the Theatre Command is whether the current structure helps the Services to coordinate and mount joint operations effectively. Would a new organisation improve “jointness”?

I recall some examples from my own experience of Inter-Service co-operation and jointness. One night, well past midnight, few years after the Kargil conflict, I received a call from the then army chief about an adversary having sneaked up a mountain in our territory and occupied a part of it. He wanted an early air strike on that hilltop. I understood the need and importance of speed and secrecy. Before long, we met the defence minister and the situation was explained. He gave us a go ahead and told us that he would keep the PM informed. There was a couple of days’ delay in mounting the strike due to weather, logistics and the time taken in getting the final clearance.

The strike warranted the use of a type of aircraft that was based 1,500-km away, weapons at another base, an interim base for launching the strike and senior pilots for executing the mission at yet another base. Since every message and call was monitored from across the border, we communicated only in person. No signals or orders were issued. A designated Air Force Commander took charge and flew down to the hills and met the field commander concerned and got the briefing about the target. He flew down to the fighter base that was to mount the operations and then to the parent base of the squadron that would execute the mission. Eight aircraft flew a circuitous route over the mountains and landed at a base unannounced. Weapons were loaded and the strikes having been carried out, they returned directly to their home base.

The mission was a success. The news broke in the media after many days. We possibly avoided another Kargil-like situation. In this instance, there was no lack of jointness, though the process followed was unorthodox and demonstrated flexibility. A Theatre Command will not have the resources to mount such an operation or the freedom to decide. The air force is organised and trained to plan operations centrally to exercise the best possible choice and the execution is delegated. Resources and skills being limited, they are spread out geographically. There have been many such instances of outstanding cooperation with other Services. We do not have to imitate the US or NATO structures or their drills. We should evolve our own ways that can swiftly achieve results at minimal cost avoiding collateral damage and losses. We can do so by evaluating organisations and operations for cost-effectiveness.

While the idea of a Theatre Command may seemingly have some operational advantage, the permanency of dividing our own territory into Operational Theatres as a defence measure seems preposterous. And to state that such a division is required to defend our country more effectively sounds alarming. International press for one, not to mention our adversaries, would have a field day with the news that could be interpreted in many ways — to exercise tighter political control could be one. In recent times, no progressive country has created Theatre Commands to defend its home territory. The Western militaries call themselves expeditionary forces (our military is termed as defence forces) typically meant to create joint command not for home-defence but to project their power overseas. The Falkland conflict was one interesting example wherein the expeditionary force sailed 8,000 miles from UK to reach Falkland. The force was headed by an admiral and on disembarking, the leadership shifted to an army general.

Even after the establishment of Theatre Commands, the responsibility of the country’s air defence would remain with the air force and so also offensive air operations and strategic and tactical air transport support for the entire gamut of operations. IAF assets, including special weapons, are limited in number and are distributed across the country, which require base-installation support. It is not possible to triplicate or quadruplicate them to every Theatre Command. Same is the case with skilled personnel and EW (electronic warfare) and C4ISR (command, control, computers, communications, intelligence and reconnaissance) equipment. Moreover, the IAF has a serious shortfall in strength of combat squadrons. Our combat squadron strength may never reach the reasonable figure of 45.

In future wars, we expect military actions to be swift and the objectives to be met in days or weeks. This could be a tall order if we plan a large manoeuvring army or the navy in blue-water leaving the coast to the coast guard. The essentials are special forces, special weapons, stealth, integrated surveillance and communication. We should focus on modernising our strategic thinking and innovate solutions to meet our challenges. These requirements are not feasible unless we trim the flab. The formation of a Theatre Command at a juncture when we are lagging behind on modernisation would not be in the best interest of the nation.


Day of Great Sadness For Bangladesh: PM Sheikh Hasina On Former Pm Vajpayee's Demise 


Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away on Thursday at Delhi's AIIMS, leaving the country mourning the irreplaceable loss. While political leaders and diplomats across the country condoled Vajpayee's demise, leaders from neighbouring South Asian nations also expressed grief on the unfortunate event.

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina described Vajpayee as "one of the most famous sons of India" sharing that she was "deeply shocked at the sad demise of former PM Vajpayee".

"He'll be remembered for contributing towards good governance and highlighting issues affecting common people of India as well as regional peace and prosperity," PM Hasina noted. 

"Today is a day of great sadness for all of us in Bangladesh," she said.

"He was our friend and highly respected in Bangladesh. As a token of recognition for his invaluable contribution to our Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh government conferred on him Bangladesh Liberation War Honour," Bangladesh's PM shared. 

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister of India. May the departed soul rest in eternal peace!" tweeted Nepal's Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

The government of Pakistan also condoled the loss and noted Vajpayee as a "renowned statesman who contributed to bringing a change in Indo-Pak relations and remained a key supporter of SAARC and regional cooperation for development".

"Pakistan government and the people extend their heartfelt condolences to his family and to the government and people of India," news agency ANI quoted Pak government's statement.

According to the official statement released by AIIMS, Vajpayee passed away at 5.05pm on Thursday, August 16.

"It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 5.05pm on August 16," the statement noted.

"Shri Vajpayee was admitted in AIIMS on June 11 and was stable in the last 9 weeks under the care of a team of AIIMS doctors. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best efforts, we have lost him today. We join the nation in deeply mourning the great loss," AIIMS stated in the release.


A Former National Security Adviser Explains How India Can Modernise Its Military Tech

PINAKA multi barrel rocket launcher - Bigger and better

The context of war is changing for India too

by Arvind Gupta

On its western border, Pakistan, though numerically inferior to India, is trying its best to modernise its armed forces. It has been generously helped by China in the development of missiles and nuclear arsenal. The gap between the Indian and Pakistani militaries, though significant, is narrowing in some areas. Pakistan has also sought to cultivate Russia, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic for sourcing high-tech equipment. Over the years, it has tried to establish an indigenous military technical complex with Chinese technical assistance.

However, it is China that has made big strides in manufacturing a wide variety of weapons platforms ranging from ships to aircraft and anti-ship missiles, anti-satellite weapons, and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). It has set up extensive defence R&D and defence production systems. China’s defence expenditure in absolute terms is now second only to that of the US. It is also emerging as a leading exporter of arms. China-Pakistan collaboration in the defence sphere is a major challenge to Indian security.

To meet these challenges, the Indian military forces are being modernised. They have over the years acquired state-of-the-art platforms and other equipment and gradually prepared themselves for network-centric warfare. However, it must be mentioned that India continues to import advanced defence technologies from other countries. The acquisitions in recent years of aircraft carrier Vikramaditya and S-400 missile defence systems from Russia, C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft and C-130 medium lift transport aircraft from the US are some examples.

The armed forces have a long list of items which they intend to import in the medium to long term. The acquisition of high-tech platforms, equipment, and even ammunition illustrates the point that India has still a long way to go before it becomes self-reliant in some critical defence technologies.

India’s indigenisation effort is based largely on the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and the DPSUs (Defence Public Sector Undertakings). The DRDO develops prototypes and the DPSUs manufacture them. For strategic missiles, the DRDO does all the work from development to productionisation. Over the years, the DPSUs and the DRDO have sought to fulfill the demands of the armed forces to some extent and their achievements are creditable. But overall, the indigenisation effort is yet to take off.

The private sector is still not in a position to meet the needs of the armed forces largely because it has been deliberately kept out of defence production. The micro small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector is yet to grow. It is dependent on the growth of larger players. The procedures are cumbersome and stacked against the private sector. This is now changing, but there is a lot of catching up to do. The Make in India programme is taking off but “Made in India” is still some way off.

The problem, however, is that many of the DRDO’s projects have been delayed. The armed forces have also raised the issue of quality. Their needs are urgent, hence they often take recourse to imports rather than wait for DRDO projects to fructify. Yet, it must be said that the DRDO over the years has done a commendable job and as an R&D organisation contributed to the development of indigenous capacities in critical technologies.

The DRDO’s problems are wide-ranging, from inadequate manpower in critical areas to the lack of proper synergy with the armed forces. The armed forces are unable or unwilling to wait for DRDO products and systems to mature; this is the nature of innovation. For it to compete with global defence R&D organisations, the DRDO has to have much larger, better-trained and highly motivated manpower, larger budgets, and more freedom in its operations. It has to be allowed to bear the risks inherent in innovation. In the risk-averse atmosphere prevailing in the country, the DRDO cannot be an exception. However, not all the blame can be put on the DRDO for delays as the above prerequisites are not available to it. At the same time, it cannot be fully absolved from responsibility.

The problem of delays should also be looked at from the DRDO’s perspective. It is a part of the innovation ecosystem that is not geared to deliver products on time. The armed forces are its only customers. They project their plans of acquisitions and technology through a document known as the LTIPP which lays down the needs of the armed forces for a fifteen-year period.

For instance, the current LTIPP of the MoD is from 2012 to 2027. From the LTIPP is derived a document known as the Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap. Ideally, this document should give the DRDO and the industry a lead time of fifteen years to plan for innovation and production.

But in practice it is too generic in nature and does not give any practical information on the basis of which the DRDO can plan. For instance, the document says that the armed forces will require space-based sensors but does not provide either the numbers that would be needed or their parameters. In the absence of such details the DRDO is unable to start its work.

The actual details are usually made available only when the armed forces begin to acquire a product. By that time it is too late to design it indigenously.


Want To Help India, Pakistan Open Talks, Says Saudi Envoy

Saudi ambassador Saud bin Mohammed al-Sati spoke on a wide range of issues, including bilateral security cooperation and Iran’s alleged meddling in Afghanistan

Saudi ambassador Saud bin Mohammed al-Sati said that he had noted the “reference that Imran Khan made regarding India — that if India takes one step, we will take two”. It was encouraging, he said, that this was followed by PM Modi’s call to Khan to congratulate him on his electoral success.

Saudi Arabia hopes India and Pakistan will resume peace talks and will be happy to help the process but only if it is asked to do so, Saudi ambassador Saud bin Mohammed al-Sati said on Thursday.

He said he had noted the “reference that the Prime Minister-elect of Pakistan, Imran Khan, made regarding India — that if India takes one step, we will take two”. It was encouraging, he said, that this was followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s phone call to Khan to congratulate him on his electoral success.

“These were very positive. Pakistan is a strong partner of Saudi Arabia and India is our strategic partner and we hope that dialogue will be resumed between the two countries,” he said. “If we can and if we are asked to help, we will be very happy to help,” he added.

During an interview, al-Sati spoke on a wide range of issues, including bilateral security cooperation and Iran’s alleged meddling in Afghanistan.

Referring to the arrest of a suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operative at the New Delhi airport after his deportation from Saudi Arabia on August 5, the envoy said there is “excellent” cooperation between the two sides to counter extremism and terror financing. “There is no outstanding issue in terms of security cooperation…there is zero terror financing (from Saudi Arabia) and we don’t allow any (illegal) money transfers to any organisations worldwide and particularly to India,” he said.

Asked what action Saudi Arabia will take if controversial preacher Zakir Naik, whose extradition has been sought from Malaysia, returned to the kingdom, al-Sati said he would not go into hypothetical matters.

“All I can say is Zakir Naik is an Indian national who visited Saudi Arabia like any other Indian national and left... he is not in the kingdom anymore. We don’t intervene in other countries’ matters,” he said.

While backing efforts to reconcile with Taliban elements that give up violence in Afghanistan, al-Sati said his country hosted a conference of ‘ulema’ that encouraged national reconciliation to end instability and war.

“Afghani national reconciliation is very important for the political process to succeed. The main principle here is denouncing terrorism and putting aside weapons to come to the political process and working with other Afghan groups to reconcile,” he said.

However, the envoy criticised Iran’s intervention in Afghanistan, including the recruitment of Afghan Shias and “training them and sending them to areas of conflict” such as Syria. He said there were also reports of Iran recruiting from among Afghan refugees and sending them to countries such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

“Using these recruits to intervene in other countries’ internal affairs and destabilising their security is not going to…help in countering terrorism. So we have to pay attention to this,” he said.


Aero India Is On The Move — In The Wrong Direction


Although there has been no formal confirmation from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), India's flagship air show, Aero India, is on the move — many reckon in the wrong direction

by Angad Singh

Defence and aerospace ‘trade shows’ in India are not viewed with any great seriousness around the world

Participation is meagre (despite what the breathless annual press releases will tell you), there is precious little hardware actually on display, no business engagements of great value take place, and few contracts of any notable worth are ever signed — at best we make do with an endless list of MoUs and LoAs. In recent times, we have added shifting dates and venues to this credibility deficit.

A Case of ‘India Fatigue’

State-owned defence companies have little choice but to show up, with the likes of HAL, BEL, DRDO, DPSU shipyards, and so on, taking up the bulk of space at Indian shows such as Aero India and DefExpo. Foreign vendors that do participate are typically major global players with either budgets for multiple major shows annually, or active tenders with the MoD.

One aerospace executive described the Indian shows as “pay to play”, noting that if their company failed to purchase space at an MoD-administered trade show, it might be viewed dimly by the powers that be. With the ministry-in-charge of both procurement and exhibitions, one is certainly forgiven for an over abundance of caution.

Treating trade shows, particularly air shows — with their higher logistical burden and flight safety implications — as political footballs, is problematic at a time when Make in India and FDI in defence, are becoming something of a running joke.

And ‘India fatigue’ is becoming an issue with governments and defence firms around the world. Seriousness of intent matters, yet these annual defence events are becoming a sideshow to the larger political theatre in the country. While most other international defence shows are synonymous with their host cities (Farnborough, Paris, Dubai, Singapore, Langkawi etc), and are easy to plan for with a fixed window of dates, India has made a mess of DefExpo, and appears set to repeat the mistake with Aero India.

Far From an Ideal Location

The front-running venue for the air show, Lucknow, is far from an ideal location, and November is right in the middle of the worst time of the year for an air show. Pollution and visibility are known issues in north India, starting around late September to early October, and only easing up by late March.

Regulars at the Air Force Day parade at Hindon Air Force Station (Ghaziabad) on 8 October every year know how difficult it is to see aircraft — even flying past at low levels! When the Royal Air Force Red Arrows display team visited Hindon for Air Force Day 2016, they could not carry out their display during the main parade owing to safety concerns. Even the local heroes, the IAF Surya Kiran team, carried out a limited display, with concerns that pilots could lose sight of each other or visual references on the ground if they conducted their usual show.
As someone who has photographed fighters very close to Lucknow in UP (last October, during an IAF highway landing validation exercise), the visibility issues were all too apparent, and there is no reason to expect the situation to be different this winter.
The date change also impacts most firms’ bottom lines. Trade shows are budgeted for annually, and companies pick their annual calendar of events with some care. Recent years have even seen a tightening of the collective belt in the defence industry worldwide. Two Indian shows separated by six months skews plans across the board. Most small firms will simply not be able to afford a second round, while larger companies will be forced to put up token appearances for the sake of propriety, which seems to be the only virtue the MoD takes seriously.

A Logistical Nightmare

The shift to November 2018 also calls into question the Indian defence exhibition calendar for 2019 — affecting companies’ plans for not one, but two years.
Compounding the ‘pay to play’ dilemma faced by industry participants is the lack of infrastructure at Lucknow.
There are a few scattered hotels in and around the city, but the number of available rooms is not even close to those at Bangalore. And while Bangalore has benefited in recent years from the proliferation of quality hotels that have come up outside the city, closer to the airport and the air show, the opposite is true of Lucknow — show-goers will be forced to travel long distances, often through the most congested areas of Lucknow city, in order to get to and from the airfield.
Logistical issues are not limited to travel and accommodation alone.
Bakshi Ka Talab is a tiny airfield, particularly in comparison to the sprawling layout of Yelahanka. The latter has two active aprons for aircraft, a mammoth static display area (even if largely empty most years) and a set of five large hangars located close together serving as exhibition halls. As a fighter base, BKT emphasises hardened shelters and dispersed operations, not expansive aprons and hangars. Organising an air show within the limitations of the field will be an incredibly difficult ask, and whatever is managed in the few months remaining will likely leave attendees more frustrated than even the worst years at Yelahanka.

Gearing Up For ‘More Pain’

Bangalore also has a cottage industry geared toward supporting the air show, with dozens of service providers thronging the airfield, selling much-needed snacks and cold beverages. Trade publications, the most committed partners of Indian defence shows, are supported by a network of local printers in Bangalore, allowing them to publish daily issues covering the events at Yelahanka.

DefExpo’s move first to Goa and then Chennai put great strain on these stalwarts of the defence exhibition calendar, and already many are now gearing up for further pain with Aero India.

The lack of an airshow ecosystem, as it were, in Lucknow or indeed any Indian city cannot simply be wished away. With the frequent shifting of these shows, no one is likely to invest in an ecosystem in Lucknow if Aero India moves once again with the next edition.

Most major exhibitors are already putting a brave face on all this. One executive from a European firm told me that they would be in attendance “with full parade” of personnel but probably with less hardware on display owing to time and cost constraints.

Another said that like the last two editions of DefExpo, a handful of company bigwigs would show up for the first day or two for the requisite glad-handing, before heading quickly to saner shores.

The late date change means that most air arms and manufacturers will barely be able to put up a worthwhile participation at all — and losing aircraft from an air show rather defeats the purpose. Bangalore’s loss is only a fleeting gain (if at all) for Lucknow, but thoughtless flip-flops like this further erode the MoD’s already-fading credibility.


India Wants To Buy The Sparrow To Appease U.S. After Annoying Them With Russian Defence Deal


Americans use the defence missile system to protect their capital region, which is how India plans to employ it

by Ravi Rikhye

The surprise announcement that India will buy the US/Norwegian Sparrow air defence missile system for $1 billion may have been expedited to mollify the United States.

Given Washington DC’s unhappiness with India going ahead with a $6 billion, five battery S-400 SAM (surface-to-air missiles) purchase from Russia even though the US has issued a waiver (Countering America’s Adversaries through the Sanctions Act), there will be speculation that the Sparrow air defence missile deal is meant to appease the Americans.

India takes very long to buy any weapon, and the US concern over the S-400 became loudly public only about a year ago.

The immediate question that is being asked is this: Why not pick an Indian system or the Israeli Barak 8 in whose development we invested in and that will come into service with the Navy and Air Force?

There is, however, no sinister plot to destroy the development of indigenous SAMs. When it is considered that the classified range of the AIM-120D is believed to be greater than 180 km, the Sparrow is in a different class altogether from indigenous missiles. Moreover, the launch and control component, made by a Norwegian company, has been well-tested in service with multiple countries, including the US.

The Americans use the system to protect their capital region, which is how India plans to employ it. India has been looking for credible missile defence systems for more than two decades to protect its vital establishments, including the national capital and its nuclear installations.

What does $1 billion buy us? This is surprisingly difficult to estimate because the structure of each big-ticket SAM deal is different. My high-ball guess is 20 launchers, each with six missiles. The realistic number of launchers could be much lower, perhaps 12 plus. This gives between two and three batteries of six launchers each.

Incidentally, the AIM-120D costs $2 million per round. With training rounds, reloads, regular software updates, spare parts, training, and assured vendor maintenance we could easily be looking at just two batteries. They will replace the now museum piece SAM-3 Pechoras; a squadron in the Indian service has 8 launchers with a load of 32 missiles.

None of this is a solution to India’s serious problem of obsolete equipment. The government of India may not be firm on many things, but one which it refuses to budge from is its stand on severely starving the military of new equipment.

I will not comment on the government’s new metric of noting that the defence equipment takes up one-third of the Centre’s capital budget. This is a hilarious content-free metric without meaning. The government has said that the GDP measure is meaningless because, thanks to our large informal sector, it is understated. Comparing the Indian defence spending to a reasonable estimate of the real GDP will show we spend even less than the budgeted 1.6 per cent or so.

Ravi Rikhye has written 16 books on defence, and co-authored ten others


Former PM Vajpayee Worked For Betterment of India-Pak Ties: Imran Khan


Pakistan's prime minister-in-waiting and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Thursday condoled former PM Atal Bihar Vajpayee's sad demise.

Khan called Vajpayee a "tall political personality of the subcontinent," news agency ANI reported. 

"His attempts for the betterment of India-Pak relationship will always be remembered," read a tweet posted by PTI's official handle.

"Mr Vajpayee, as a Foreign Minister, took responsibility of improving India-Pak ties," the tweet read. 

"His death has created a void in South Asian politics," PTI said.

South Asian leaders Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli also expressed grief on Vajpayee's sad demise.

"He'll be remembered for contributing towards good governance and highlighting issues affecting common people of India as well as regional peace and prosperity," PM Hasina noted.

"Today is a day of great sadness for all of us in Bangladesh," she said.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister of India. May the departed soul rest in eternal peace!" tweeted Nepal's Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

According to the official statement released by AIIMS, Vajpayee passed away at 5.05pm on Thursday, August 16.

"It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 5.05 pm on August 16," the statement noted.

"Shri Vajpayee was admitted in AIIMS on June 11 and was stable in the last 9 weeks under the care of a team of AIIMS doctors. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best efforts, we have lost him today. We join the nation in deeply mourning the great loss," AIIMS stated in the release.


India Should Take American Or Russian Help For Manned Mission: Madhavan Nair


The former ISRO chief also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for mentioning the mission during in his Independence Day speech

HYDERABAD: Former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair today said India should seek support from United States of America or Russia to successfully send a manned mission into space by 2022.

It would take India a long time to set up its own astronaut training and space-environment simulation facilities, the veteran space scientist opined.

Terming the manned mission as the next logical step for India's space programme, Nair praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for mentioning the mission during in his Independence Day speech.

"We have been dreaming about this (manned mission) for the last 10 years. Now the Prime Minister has taken a very bold decision. It is a matter of national pride. We will have our own spacecraft to send people to the orbit and back. So, it's a great initiative and a most welcome thing," he told PTI.

"The basic design for the space capsule is for carrying three people. GSLV-Mk III has got a capacity to carry such a module," Nair said.

"Of course, we have to do a lot of things -- training of astronauts, use and make life support systems among many others. All this is new development, and it's a very challenging job," he added.

"We may have to depend on some friendly countries like Russia and America for the initial mission", he said.

"Life support system and conditioning of astronauts for the space environment is one of the key technological challenges," Nair said.

The overall reliability of the launch vehicle needs to be improved.

"Necessary improvement in launch systems and satellite technologies is called for," he said.

Asked about the 2022 time frame for the mission as announced by the prime minister, Nair said: "It's tight but if you decouple the setting up of facilities in India, certainly it's doable. If we get support from other countries certainly it will happen."


Atal Bihari Vajpayee: The Leader Who Uncloaked India’s Nuclear Ambition


Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a traditionalist when it came to foreign policy. He held that it wasn’t feasible to radically reshape foreign policy in a short span

When it came to diplomatic matters, Atal Bihari Vapayee was a traditionalist who held that it wasn’t feasible to radically reshape foreign policy in a short span because it stood on the twin foundations of consensus and continuity.

Yet, for Vajpayee, external relations were not cast in an unchanging mould either. He wasn’t risk-averse, but above all, pragmatic and worldly-wise.

The risk-taking ability came to the fore when India, with Vajpayee as PM, conducted its second set of nuclear tests in May 1998, almost a quarter of a century after the first. All hell broke loose. Led by the United States,global powers slapped economic sanctions on India when liberalisation was yet to complete a decade.


“It was the biggest foreign policy crisis in a generation or more. At the end, it was defused. The US and India charted a new course of strategic relationship a few years from then, “ said former foreign secretary Lalitman Singh.

Many were caught by surprise when Vajpayee first declared that India and the US , the world’s largest and oldest democracies, were natural allies. Of course, the Cold War had become history by the time Vajpayee became Prime Minister of India. But trusting the Americans had never come naturally to generations of Indian leaders.

“The Vajpayee government invented the term ‘natural alliance’ which has been adopted by Prime Minister(Manmoha) Singh’s government ,and American officials,” foreign affairs expert Stephen P. Cohen wrote.

In his 2000 address to the US Congress, Vajpayee said India and the US had taken a decisive step away from the past.

“The dawn of the new century has marked a new beginning in our relations”, Vajpayee said.

And he presided over the dawn of the new phase in India’s relationship with the US.

Dealing with Pakistan was more challenging although Vajpayee consistently maintained that stopping cross-border infiltration and destruction of terrorist infrastructure by Pakistan could open the doors for talks. “Talks can take place on all issues, including that of Jammu & Kashmir,” he said.

When he took over as PM, cross-border terrorism was rampant, but much to India’s discomfiture, world powers then were not ready top support New Delhi’s contention that Pakistan was sponsoring terror outfits to carry out attacks on India. Against heavy odds, he sought normalisation of ties with Pakistan, reasoning that one can change friends, but had to live with one’s neighbours.

In 1999, Vajpayee made his historic bus journey to Lahore in quest of peace. “The partition of our country had caused a wound in our heart, that wound had healed and the mark left by it reminds us that we have to live in harmony with one another”, Vajpayee said at a civic reception in Lahore in February 1999.

Months after that initiative, India fought a limited war to stop Pakistan’s aggression in the Kargil sector of J& K in the summer of the same year. The 2001 Aqra summit between Vajpayee and then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, too, collapsed in mutual acrimony.

Vajpayee, like present Prime Minister Narenadra Modi, departed from the long-standing hostility towards China of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological fount of the Bharatiya Janata Party.. As foreign minister in the Janata Party government of 1977-79, Vajpayee began the effort to normalise relations with China that had been held hostage to the 1962 war over a border dispute that persists to this day.


India, Pak DGMOs Meet To Talk On Infiltration, Peace Along LoC


Indian Army said today that Director General Military Operations (GMO) level talks were held today at the behest of Pakistan DGMO.

Pleasantries were exchanged between the DGMOs on the occasion of Independence Day of both the countries, the Indian Army said.

During the meeting, the Pakistan DGMO expressed satisfaction on the measures being taken along the Line of Control(LoC) by troops to maintain peace and tranquillity.

The Pakistan DGMO assured the Indian official that the Pak Army would take prompt action against any move by "inimical elements" in the proximity of the LoC, the Indian Army said, adding that Pak Army said it would also respond to information shared by the Indian side thereby facilitating the conduct of anti-terrorist operations.

The Indian DGMO told the Pak DGMO that infiltration attempts by terrorists were a major cause of concern, the Army said in a statement. The Indian DGMO informed Pakistan that activities had "increased in the areas north of Pir Panjal Mountain Ranges."

"Pakistan must institute measures to prevent infiltration from the launch pads located on the side of the LoC," the Indian DGMO told the Pakistan DGMO.


Asia Pacific Group Talks Tough, Asks Pak To Curb Terror Financing


An international delegation monitoring Pakistan's commitments to the Paris-based global financial watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has urged Islamabad to make terror financing and money laundering extraditable offences, a media report said on Thursday, 16 August.

The inter-governmental organisation, Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering, which is currently in Pakistan, will submit a report to FATF which placed Pakistan on its 'grey list' in June 2018.

The APG’s Mutual Evaluation report can play a critical role in retaining or removing Pakistan from the list after September next year.

Islamabad needs to comply with a 10-point action plan it committed to the FATF in June, by September-end next year. The plan’s agenda is to combat terror financing and money laundering to get out of the grey list or further fall to the black list.

Placement on the grey list hurts a country's economy as well as its international standing. On 15 August, The Express Tribune reported that the delegation urged Pakistan authorities to enact appropriate laws, enabling local officials to act upon requests of foreign countries to freeze illegal assets and extradite those involved in financing terror and money laundering.

The delegation met officials of the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) of the State Bank of Pakistan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs and interior.

Highlighting deficiencies in Pakistan’s legal framework, the visiting APG team pointed out that this could hamper Pakistan’s effective response on requests of mutual legal assistance by foreign countries in money laundering cases, officials said.

Pak Needs to Strengthen Domestic Legal Framework

APG members said the country needs to strengthen its domestic legal framework by October, after which the regional body will conduct an on-site inspection.

It also urged the authorities concerned to predicate offence-monitoring powers to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The group’s other areas of concerns were activities by non-profit organisations, narcotics trafficking and proceeds of crimes.

The team comprises officials from the US, Turkey, China and the UK. Officials from the US Treasury and the UK's New Scotland Yard are part of the delegation.

Discussions are taking place on technical grounds where Pakistani authorities are trying to address the APG's concerns.

During its third day of visit, the AGP team discussed the status of implementation of the FATF recommendations on supervision of financial institutions, challenges posed by beneficial ownerships and trusts, the targeted financial sanctions against terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, mutual legal assistance and extradition.

After discussions, the AGP will prepare the second draft of technical compliance report before October, which can be improved upon during the mutual evaluation on-site visit, scheduled for October.

Pakistani authorities were of the view that each department had its own mutual legal assistance arrangement, which could meet the needs of other countries. However, they said this did not fully persuade the APG team.

Pakistan is also not a signatory to mutual legal assistance treaties with countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, the UAE, Malaysia and Thailand.

Officials said the APG team also expressed concerns about implementing recommendations on extradition of criminals involved in money laundering and terrorism financing.

Mandatory for Countries to Deny Safe Havens to Those Charged With Terrorism

The FATF makes it mandatory for member countries to deny safe havens to individuals charged with financing of terrorism, terrorist acts or terrorist organisations.

Various departments gave presentations to the APG on their role in curbing money laundering and terrorism financing.

The visiting experts were largely satisfied with the performance of Anti Narcotics Force, SECP and NAB. But they sought improvements in the skill sets of the Financial Monitoring Unit and National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA).

Discussions were also held on effective supervision of financial institutions to ensure that the secrecy laws did not hamper implementation of the FATF recommendations. The visiting experts also stressed that beneficial ownerships should not be used to protect the proceeds of crimes.

They also discussed Pakistan's legal and regulatory regimes on beneficial ownership and trusts, which could be used for laundering money.

Pakistani authorities are learnt to have informed the APG team about measures taken by the country to comply with the United Nations Security Council resolution 1267 and 1373, targeting financial sanctions against terrorists.

Musharraf, Vajpayee And Kheer At Agra Summit: Former Pak Ruler Remembers The Indian Stalwart


Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf on Thursday mourned the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, calling him a great man. Speaking to Wion News, the former military ruler of Pakistan said that Vajpayee’s demise was a great loss for both India as well as Pakistan.

“He was a great man, and it is a great loss. India and Pakistan should both feel the great loss of the towering personality of Mr Vajpayee,” said Musharraf, adding that he had no doubt about the multi-faceted personality of the former prime minister.

Recalling that Vajpayee was a great leader, poet and orator, the former Pakistan president talked about the moments he spent with the political stalwart.


Talking about a famous handshake with Vajpayee in Pakistan, Musharraf said, “I remember that when I shook hands with him, he held my hand and started walking to the front. He believed that if we remain bogged down by the past, we would not be able to resolve our differences.”

He further shared a lighter moment with Vajpayee during the 2001 Agra Summit, which did not end on a successful note. It was about the culinary skills of the former Indian prime minister.

“My foreign minister told me that Vajpayee was quite fond of cooking. I then asked him as to what he liked to cook, and he told me Kheer. Since I also like Kheer, I discussed with him the qualities that Kheer should have,” said Musharraf.

He further remembered how Vajpayee believed that inter-state relations depend on inter-personal relations, and also worked towards the same.

Notably, the Agra summit has been one of the major highlights of Vajpayee’s tenure as Prime Minister of the country. Vajpayee and Musharraf met in Agra on July 15 and 16, 2001 to resolve outstanding issues between India and Pakistan. But the summit collapsed as the two sides couldn't arrive at any agreement, despite five one-to-one rounds between the two leaders and hours of discussion between the two delegations.