Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kingdom of Worms

Rajasthan, Gujjar Protests, Naxalites stronger than ever, North-Eastern Militancy on the rise, Nandigram, and now, Protests in Kolkata against Taslima Nasreen. Welcome to the new, unsafe India.

The Financial Times has reported that Shivraj Patil, our bumbling, invisible Home Minister, has finally woken up to the devastation that is Nandigram. He came out with the following reply:

“We have given directives to the state government that no one should be forced to leave his or her home. Everybody should be brought back and given full protection,” Patil said. He added that the Centre had information that “some outsiders had instigated people from behind to take to violence. They also brought sophisticated weapons into the area”.
The CRPF has debunked the last statement. In a CNN-IBN report, CRPF DIG, Alok Raj has stated that there was no evidence of Maoist weapons or the presence of Armed Maoist Cadres. Perhaps Shivraj Patil got his names mixed up- it was the CPI(M)'s goonda's and armed terrorist militia who, armed with Bolt action rifles, country made pistols, machetes and even SLRs, marched into Nandigram, easily scattering the lathi-wielding locals, and embarked on their pillage of the area. Maoists were the scapegoats for the CPM leaders in Kolkata- easy targets, much like the Communists when the Reichstag burned.

The Home Minister's post has been been an extremely powerful and important post; but under Shivraj Patil's ineffective sleepover at the helm, it seems almost an honorary post. Patil, who, like Pratibha Patil and most other Congressmen, got his post due to his loyalty to "The Family" and to Madam Maino. He has seen the rise of the Naxal menace, which is now a threat of gargantuan proportions. Law and order in several areas has literally crumbled, and the weak government at the centre has meant that even small groups with political leverage have been able to hold the authorities to ransom.

The result- Internal security is worse than any other time in the past. As the government is more worried about its own survival and the Political fortunes of Crown Prince Rahul Gandhi, the conditions of poor people or the state of Police Forces is the least of their concerns. The main problem is the weak-kneed Congress Government. Even a bad decision is better than no decision. Unfortunately, thats something the UPA has forgotten, seeing how they are being pulled by all sides, each of which, however small, has the power to bring the government to a crashing fall. And that's something that Sonia Gandhi cannot stomach.

Then, there is the man at the helm. Much like the other seat-warmers in other posts, including Manmohan Singh, Patil is a true Sonia loyalist. Thats something thats rewarded, irrespective of how ill-fitting the man is to the post- just look at the other senile dinosaurs in the cabinet- Natwar Singh (who's thankfully gone), Arjun Singh (who, unfortunately, isn't off the 'reservation'
yet), Ambika Soni and Renuka Chaudhary. Patil hasn't been given any power by 10, Janpath, and unfortunately, he seems content with remaining a titular figurehead. The Home Minister must be strong-willed, and willing to make hard decisions that could cost them their careers. No one in the present government has the spine to do that. Look at our previous Home ministers- Sardar Patel, Rajaji, Lal Bahadur Sastri, Morarji Desai, and Lal Krishna Advani. And then, look at Shivraj Patil.

Till the next elections, theres little else to do but wait and pray that the country isn't destroyed by then. 'Coz at the way we're going, we'll probably get there pretty fast.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Blood Red Victory (Part 2)

The CPI(M) must be justifiably proud, at least for now. As its massive state-sponsored pogrom in Nandigram ended, the bratchnies in Kolkata and Delhi would have heaved a temporary sigh of relief as the media that played such havoc in Gujarat was kept completely out of this situation. This organized media blackout seems to be something that Communists around the world have learnt well- and CPI(M) even better, considering the expertise of their tutors in Beijing.

Another lesson they've learnt is to direct the blame at their attackers, which Buddhadev Bhattacharya tried to do, blaming the Trinamool Congress and Naxalites. But it does little to explain why well-armed gangs of motorcycle-borne CPI cadres overran Nandigram, planting red flags and shooting, looting and raping villagers. Perhaps Brinda Karat will blame the Trinamool for that as well.

Its a sad state of affairs when the government of the country is too scared to speak the truth and take action against these hoodlums, even when the Governor has lambasted the government in no uncertain terms. The UPA government has proved itself to be nothing more than a yellow-bellied, lily livered bunch of old, lecherous men fighting for power with no care about the state of the nation. Their silence is a criminal quid-pro-quo of giving away Nandigram in exchange for the Nuclear deal.

Its this cycle of violence, appeasement and corruption that leads people to the Maoists. Even worse is the CPI's attempt to keep this issue out of the discussion in Parliament, terming it as a state matter. Well sirs, it ceased to be a state matter the moment the CRPF had to fight their way through your ranks of thugs, armed with AKs and SLR rifles.

If Gujarat was a situation that was caused by government apathy, Nandigram is a clear case of enthusiastic government violence, just like the 1984 riots which were sanctioned by Rajiv Gandhi himself. So if Modi fiddled while Gujarat burned (ironically, Nero did all he could to stop the fire), these Commie Droogs were organizing the massacres, modern day Hitlers. If only our Almost-honourable PM-ji would admit it, and call a genocide a genocide, and not simply a "Cause for Concern".

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/shhhh-no-nandigram-talk-in-house-say-left/52357-3.html

Shhhh... No Nandigram talk in House, say Left

New Delhi: The Left parties are hell-bent on having a detailed debate on the nuclear deal in Parliament, but when it comes to Nandigram, they seem to have other standards.

As the Winter Session of Parliament opened on Thursday with clear indications that the Opposition BJP will disrupt proceedings over the Nandigram issue, the Left have put their foot down, saying it is a state issue and they will not allow any Parliament debate on the same.

After a meeting of four Left parties, the leaders maintained on Thursday that Nandigram issue was a 'state law and order subject" which could not be discussed in Parliament as rules did not permit such matters to be raised.

"Parliament functions according to rules. Whatever the rules permit, can be discussed. Nandigram can be discussed in the West Bengal Assembly, but not in Parliament," CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta told a joint press conference with other Left leaders, including.... (read more)
http://www.ibnlive.com/news/nandigram-makes-cpm-face-political-isolation/52167-3.html

Nandigram makes CPM face political isolation

New Delhi: The CPI(M) has been completely isolated on Nandigram and is finding it tough to counter the fall-out.

While the CPM General Secretary blamed the violence on the Trinamool-Naxal link, UPA allies have preferred to be subdued in their reaction.

Meanwhile, Left intellectuals are out in protest on the streets of the Capital, convinced that the atrocities in Nandigram are only comparable to Gujarat.

This view is held by historian Sumit Sarkar, who says, "What they have been doing merely amounts to a kind of repetition of Gujarat."

CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat has risen to the West Bengal government's defence by falling back on the man he has been critcising the most, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"Prime Minister says the Maoists are the single biggest threat to national security today," he said.

Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee has had a successful bandh in West Bengal and for once, the fiery politician is on a strong wicket. "Where are the human rights? Where are the civil rights? Where is the civilized society?" she demanded....... (read more)

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/they-pulled-her-raped-her-mercilessly/52545-3.html
'They pulled her, raped her mercilessly'

New Delhi: Many refugees of Nandigram have confirmed that they had been brutally raped. Fear looms large in her eyes, the fear of CPI-M cadres. Forty-year-old Akreja Biwi doesn't want to go back home anymore.

Last Sunday, as the CPI-M recaptured Nandigram, nearly 100 of the party cadres allegedly looted her house, raped her and her daughters. All her daughters have gone missing.

Akreja says, “They pulled her and raped her mercilessly, I have lost my daughters.”

It's an unparalled tragedy that is now unfolding in hospital wards in Nandigram and Kolkata. Those who managed to flee their homes speak of the torture ...... (read more)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

All in the name of God!

From the other end of the spectrum, heres a sensible and correct decision

Times of India Report

Taking oath in Allah's name is okay: SC

NEW DELHI: God has many names and an MP or MLA can take oath in the name of 'Allah', 'Ishwar' or 'Deva', said the Supreme Court on Monday rejecting a plea to disqualify a few MLAs who had taken oath in the name of 'Allah' instead of 'God' as mentioned in the Constitution.

But no human being, howsoever venerated he may be, could be elevated to the position of God for the purpose of taking oath, the court clarified.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran said this while dismissing a petition filed by Madhu Parumala, Kerala unit vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, seeking disqualification of 11 Kerala MLAs on the ground that they had taken their oath in the name of Allah last year.

He said Article 188 of the Constitution and its 3rd Schedule provides for the members of the legislature and constitutional functionaries to take oath in the name of God or, in the case of atheists, the Constitution.

The petitioner contended that the Constitution mentioned only 'God' and therefore the 11 MLAs had veered from the 3rd Schedule when they took the oath swearing by Allah.

The bench did not agree. "If an elected representative cannot read English and the oath has to be translated into his mother tongue, the word 'God' has also to be translated and it could be 'Ishwar' or 'Deva'. 'Allah' in Arabic means the same. So what is the problem if the MLAs took the oath in the name of Allah?" it asked.

..........
.......... (read more)
This is a correct decision and one that should shut a lot of idle minds and big mouths. Its a pity they didn't fine or charge the petitioner. Too bad.

Blood Red Victory

Shiv Aroor spent the last few days in Nandigram, and filed this report from there.


Its amazing that the CPI(M) can talk about Gujarat when it has willingly committed its own personal holocaust in Nandigram. Its shameful, and hopefully, the people of Bengal have been shocked awake from their slumber. Whats more disgusting is the Congress' silence on this issue.

There is only one word I can think of to describe these politicians- Vultures. Scavengers. Maggots.

Keep watching Shiv's blog for more updates.

Friday, November 16, 2007

ISRO - Singin' in the Rain


ISRO has taken giant steps in the past year or so. The successful launch of the AGILE, recovery of the SRE-1, the opening of the IIST and the successful GSLV-F04 rocket carrying the 2 ton INSAT-4CR. Day before yesterday, India and Russia signed a agreement to jointly launch a lunar mission. We've taken Russian help in the past, but this time, we work as equals.

Yesterday brought even more good news- The Full duration test of the indigenous Cryogenic Engine, and ISRO's plans for a Mars mission in the near future. This flurry of activity and announcement of ambitious plans is a pleasant surprise from ISRO, and demonstrates its newfound confidence in its abilities.

Here are the reports:

frontierindia.net/indigenous-cryogenic-engine-qualified/

Indian indigenous Cryogenic engine successfully qualified

Indian Space Research organisation (ISRO) has achieved a significant milestone through the successful test of indigenously developed Cryogenic Stage, to be employed as the upper stage of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The test was conducted for its full flight duration of 720 seconds on November 15, 200, at Liquid Propulsion test facility at Mahendragiri, in Tamil Nadu. With this test, the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage has been fully qualified on the ground. The flight stage is getting ready for use in the next mission of GSLV (GSLV-D3) in 2008.

on August 4, 2007, a ground test for 480 seconds of the complete stage was conducted .

The indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) is powered by a regeneratively cooled cryogenic engine, which works on staged combustion cycle developing a thrust of 69.5 kN in vacuum. The other stage systems include insulated propellant tanks, booster pumps, inter-stage structures, fill and drain systems, pressurisation systems, gas bottles, command block, igniters, pyro valves and cold gas orientation and stabilisation system. Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) from the respective tanks are fed by individual booster pumps to the main turbo-pump, which rotates at 39,000 rpm to ensure a high flow rate of 16.5 kg/sec of propellants into the combustion chamber. The main turbine is driven by the hot gas produced in a pre-burner. Thrust control and mixture ratio control are achieved by two independent regulators. LOX and Gaseous Hydrogen (GH2) are ignited by pyrogen type igniters in the pre-burner as well as in the main and steering engines.

.....
..... (read more)
And today's report:

http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/nov/16isro1.htm
ISRO plans mars adventure, comet flyby
November 16, 2007 15:30 IST

India has drawn up plans to send a spacecraft to Mars and have flyby missions to comets and asteroids over the next five years.

The Indian Space Research Organisation will also ramp up the number of transponders on its communication satellites to 500 from the current 175 to meet the growing demand in the various sectors.

Government has also proposed to more than double the plan outlay ISRO to Rs 27,305 crore to enable it achieve its ambitious programmes, including facilitating tele-medicine and tele-education services.

The Eleventh Plan has identified building capabilities in space communications and navigation, developing navigational satellite systems, research in satellite communications and self sustenance of INSAT/GSAT systems as major areas of focus.

ISRO is expected to operationalise the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III capable of putting four ton satellites in orbit and develop technologies to recover spacecraft after completion of missions.

India's maiden moon mission Chandrayaan-I will take to the skies on April nine and ISRO has already begun finalising details for a second lunar mission with a possible launch in the next three years.

While Chandrayaan-I will orbit the moon, following mission would be an advanced one with lander and rover for collection and analysis of lunar samples.

The draft plan document also lists advanced space endeavours like mission to Mars, and flyby missions to comets and asteroids as thrust areas for the next five years.

These add to the already overflowing cup of good news- the DRDO and ISRO projects for a hypersonic demonstrator vehicle, Chandrayaan, the Indian Regional Navigational System, the local GPS system that will come up soon, and GAGAN. More projects of equal importance and ambition are on the anvil.

So whats with ISRO's new dynamism? Well, for one, it has a lot to do with the maturing of projects being undertaken. The newfound enthusiasm in India's global role has led to an awareness of the importance and use of space missions. Then, there are obvious strategic uses for space that India has lagged behind in, till now. The armed forces have woken up to this and are working overtime to get us up to speed in these areas- spy satellites, an Indian GPS constellation, dedicated secure communications and navigation. These will aid not only missiles becoming more accurate, but will aid in tactical situations as well, as repeatedly demonstrated by the US armed forces. Then, there is the fear of being left behind in another space race- US has already successfully tested exo-atmospheric missile intercepts, and China's ASAT test woke up a lot of snoring people. Space is no longer another world- it has become another territory to be controlled and conquered, and if India is not preparing for it, we'll be overrun.

Global events are also shaping ISRO's vision. The two decades ahead represent a new space-age, a far more inclusive one that will carry the common people in its folds as it shoots forward. Unlike the previous missions where the only public interest was one of starry-eyed wonder and hope, space has now become another territory to be explored and used. Space vacations are already a viable option for the rich and famous and in the years ahead, will be accessible to more people. Then, there are the technologies- Satellite TV, GPS and Google Earth, which have directly benefited the common man. All these have made space attractive and romantic again, at least in developing nations like China, India and Brazil. If you don't believe me, just check out the enthusiasm among students to join ISRO's new College in Trivandrum.

The next good news to look forward to will be the launch of Chandrayaan and the integration of the indigenous Cryogenic engine. It would certainly be a good way to cock a snook at the countries that tried so hard to prevent us from getting this technology.

Some more News Reports about ISRO:

Watch out for ISRO’s eye in the sky - Manoj das, New India Press
Space launches and the cost factor - T.S. Subramanian, The Hindu
Indian study on manned moon mission in 2008 - Indrani Bagchi, Times of India
ISRO eyes Mars, flyby missions to comets in next five years - Daily News and Analysis (DNA) India.
To The Moon, For India & Russia - SatNews Daily.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Arjun Mk.2 Approved

Finally, there was official army confirmation of the news that most well-informed insiders knew -
the Arjun Mk.2 will be developed. This was confirmed by the Army Chief during the 3-day AFV meet that is being organized by the Army in New Delhi. The short report from Zee News is scant on details, but I'll try and fill you in.

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/NEWS/newsrf.php?newsid=9608

Army okays development of Arjun Mark II tanks


New Delhi, Nov 13: The army on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for developing next generation indigenous battle tanks after a successful run of the original model Arjun.

Based on its experience in designing the Arjun MBTs, the DRDO was coming up with a lighter and more versatile version called Arjun MK-II which is expected to meet future needs, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor told an international seminar on Armoured Fighting Vehicles here.

Defence scientists are also working on the Tank X project comprising features of Arjun and Russian-supplied T-72 tanks.

The function organised by the CII was presided over by Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, who asked Indian companies to invest and participate more in production of weapons systems.

Bureau Report
Some more details from IDRW.org report:
http://www.idrw.org/2007/11/13/indian_army_seeks_next_generation_battle_tank.html

Indian Army seeks next generation battle tank

The Indian Army has sought a new generation main battle tank (MBT) even as it reluctantly prepares to receive the homegrown Arjun tank that has been over three decades in the making.

'What we have today is mid-level technology. What we need is a tank of international quality,' Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor said Tuesday.

'I have no doubt that the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) will be able to develop indigenous capabilities for coming up with a better answer and more versatile armoured fighting vehicle (than Arjun) in the future,' he added while speaking at the inaugural session of an international seminar on Armoured Fighting Vehicles, the first to be held here.

Kapoor also called for synergy between scientists, users and producers to ensure the delivery of a cutting-edge-technology tank.

'The scientists cannot work in isolation. The users (the army) should be with them. So also should the producers, be they the public sector undertakings or private players. Only then will we see an indigenous armoured fighting vehicle of international quality,' the army chief maintained.

Now, the Arjun Mk.1 never really found many supporters in the Army, many of whom were angry at the long gestation period and the constant problems. While the Arjun was, in theory, an excellent tank, it used a mish-mash of indigenous and foreign components, many tailor-developed for the Arjun. Obviously, with such high technology and the inexperience of scientists in the field use of these systems (not helped by the Army, which kept pushing Trial dates), the systems performed exceptionally well in the labs, but tanked in the Field.

But in the past two years, especially after the 2005 trials where the Army gave a clear to-do list to DRDO, these problems were systematically solved, and DRDO commenced a war-footing overhaul and repair work on the systems. Most of the problems were ironed out, and a grueling internal testing of the Arjun, which performed well. These efforts finally turned a corner a few months before exercise Ashwamedh, which was held in April this year.

Truly confident of their product, the DRDO was ready for user trials, but the Army wasn't. In a coup of sorts, the DRDO bulldozed the MoD and Army into including fifteen Arjuns in the large scale war games. The games, held in the hot Thar summer, also gave the Arjun an opportunity to show its new self, and its performance in heat, something that had caused it problems aplenty in previous trials. Less than pleased, there was nothing else for the Army to do but obey the Raksha Mantri's diktat. The results were clear. Arjun outgunned the Ajeyas and T-90s. The T-90s were beset with problems, many of them the same problems that had afflicted the Arjuns not so long ago- Suspension issues, Fire Control System Failures, and frequent stoppages.

In light of this new look Arjun, both DRDO and MoD were agitating for comparative trials, something that even the Army had, till a few months before, had been insisting upon. Suddenly, as the T-90s looked shaky, the Army got cold feet- after many postponements and delays, the Army finally cancelled the trails altogether, instead replacing them with an AUCRT, which should theoretically bring the Arjun into full scale service. But considering the Army's reactions, that seems doubtful.

But the message that the Army was getting was clear- the Arjun is world-class material, and with a little tweaking, could do a world of good. Plus, it would be foolish to rely on the T-90, a series whose development is reaching a plateau. After all, a small, light tank can only do so much. Plus, the T-90 is far worse protected than the Arjun, something that gives it a weight advantage, but at the cost of certain death to the crew in any conflict involving even moderately successful ATGMs. The T-90 would be hard-pressed against the newer tanks that will enter service around the world in a few years- the M1A2, Korean XK-2 and Al-Khalid upgrades, which will outgun the T-90. This, along with a need to expand the Armored Corps, led the Army to the revelation that it will need a modern tank in the future. There is a requirement for almost 3000 tanks to replace the old T-72s and Vijayanta tanks.

The Army has formulated a requirement, GSQR 2020, which will spell out the needs for a modern tank to be in service by 2020. This will be released to DRDO soon, and its clear that the Modernized Arjun, a Mk.2 variant will be able to fit the requirement. This will give the Army a fleet of Arjun Mk.2s and T-90s, a stable that echoes the WW2 style of different tank classes- Infantry and Cruiser Tanks.

The only question is, what name will the new tank be given? I have a suggestion- Abhimanyu.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Pakistan Army: A failing Force

Here's a piece I did for Frontier India (Wikipedia Page) today. I'm posting the first few paras. Check out the full story at http://frontierindia.net/pakistan-army-a-failing-force/.

Pakistan Army: A Failing Force

Pakistan has always been on a razor’s edge, torn between its identity as a moderate Islamic democracy that Jinnah had envisioned, and an unstable state that has seen repeated Military rule. But politicians and soldiers have always stood together on one issue- the unquestioning policy of state-sponsored terrorism. This support hasn’t abated even when Pakistan’s very existence has been threatened. But now, that policy is boomeranging on its creators, proved by the events of the last one year.

Pakistani officers joke about how the million- strong Indian Army couldn’t even stop terrorists. As they get more hopelessly bogged down in the mess called Waziristan, it probably doesn’t sound so funny any more. Today, the Pakistani Army stands battered by the very terrorists it created. Over a hundred soldiers have been captured and many more have died fighting a menace that they created. Fifteen Brigades have been moved to these areas from the Indian border, including Skardu and Mangla, an action that speaks volumes about the seriousness of the situation and the ineffectiveness of Pakistani actions in the NWFP. Morale is low, desertions are rampant, and suicide attacks on Army installations have been devastatingly successful.

In every major engagement that they’ve been involved in, the Pakistan Army has lost ground. As professional as it purports itself to be, there is not a single war that the Pakistani Army has won in its history of existence. Failure and defeat seem to come naturally. And yet, it seems almost dyslexic in its inability to learn from its mistakes. The wars with India never went their way. They were able to temporarily pacify the Baluch problem, but the brutality with which they accomplished it has ensured that the problem remains. It has faced defeat after defeat against the fiery Pashtun tribesmen in Waziristan, and it’s only a matter of time before the issue threatens the very existence of Pakistan.

The first war was soon after the formation of Pakistan. Breaking the standstill agreement, the Army launched an attack on the Independent State of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. Even with the element of surprise and a head start, they were beaten back and Pakistan lost the prime real estate of Jammu and Kashmir Valleys to India. Pakistan’s second attempt at ‘liberation’, the 1965 war, fared no better. Not only did they receive no support from the local populace, but lost vital territory to the Indian Armed Forces, a force they had dismissed as weak and beaten after the 1962 loss. If not for the goodwill of Lal Bahadur Shastri, and the compulsions of International politics, India would have captured Lahore and destroyed much of the Pakistani Army.

The third war was an unmitigated disaster that even the most enthusiastic Pakistanis cannot deny. The beleaguered forces in the East had no chance against an army advancing from three sides upon it, but their collapse and the speed of the Indian advance surprised all. Boxed in, the Pakistani Army launched attacks on the western front, hoping to gain territory that they could barter later. But even that effort met its doom, beaten and destroyed by Indian forces far smaller than the Pakistani’s. Yet again, they were saved by American intervention and Indian magnanimity. 93,000 troops surrendered, shattering the morale of the Force and the nation, a disgrace that they’ve tried hard to whitewash.

By then, the cracks within were starting to show..... (read more)

India steps up production of Prithvi and BrahMos

This interesting report from Times of India caught my eye:

With Pakistan rapidly moving towards enlarging its missile arsenal with China’s help, India is slowly but steadily stepping up production of Prithvi surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, as well as BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles. Sources said facilities were now in place to produce around 20 Prithvi missiles every year, while the annual production rate of BrahMos missiles is geared towards touching 50 in the near future.

In 2006-2007, for instance, Hyderabad-based defence PSU Bharat Dynamics Limited for the first time managed to produce 15 full-fledged Prithvi missiles and four training missiles, apart from 18 warheads, said sources. While different Prithvi variants have strike ranges varying from 150-km to 350-km, the BrahMos missile developed with Russia can hit targets over 290-km away.

"Similar plans to step up production of the strategic missiles (700-km Agni-I and 2,000-km-plus Agni-II ballistic missiles) are in the pipeline," said a source.

While Army has had its 150-km Prithvi-I missiles for some years now, IAF and Navy operationalised their longer-range variants of the same missile recently. Navy, for instance, is weaponising its Sukanya-class large patrol crafts with Prithvi’s ‘Dhanush’ variant, which has a strike range of 250-km to 350-km. IAF, in turn, has started moving its Prithvi-II missile squadrons from Hyderabad to some airbases closer to the western front.

As for the air-breathing BrahMos missiles, which fly at a speed of 2.8 Mach, Navy was the first service to equip its frontline warships like Rajput-class destroyers with their vertical launch systems. The Army, which already has missile groups to handle Prithvi, Agni-I and Agni-II, is now also operationalising BrahMos land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs) as its "precision strike weapon."

Work on BrahMos’ air-launched version for Sukhoi-30MKI multi-role fighters, however, had been hit by delays. Consequently, this missile will be integrated with the naval IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft as the first step.

Incidentally, Pakistan tested a new air-launched 350-km range cruise missile, ‘Hatf-8’ or ‘Thunder’, a couple of months ago. Moreover, its ‘Babur’ cruise missile, said to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads to 500 km, is already on course for large-scale induction. Indian defence scientists, too, are working on a wide array of missile programmes, which interestingly also include submarine-launched versions of both Prithvi (K-15) and BrahMos missiles.

The Agni-III missile, with a 3,500-km strike range meant for China, will be ready by 2010 after a few more tests. Then an advanced 5,000-km range Agni missile, with a third mini-stage being added to the two-stage Agni-III, is also on the anvil.

Similarly, work is also in progress to develop submarine-launched cruise and ballistic missiles under the ‘Sagarika’ project to complete India’s ‘nuclear triad’ — the ability to fire nuclear-tipped missiles from the air, land and sea.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

DRDO develops Micro-UAV

Here's a report from the Khaleej Times that caught my eye (Link1, Link2) about DRDO developing a new Micro-UAV:

DRDO develops tiny spy gadget
(IANS)
28 October 2007


AGRA — Indian scientists have developed a tiny gadget that can keep an eye on enemy territory and help in traffic management.

The details of the device were disclosed at the first national flying competition of Micro Aerial Vehicles (MICAV) at the Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE) of DRDO here.

Lt. Gen. V.J. Sundaram and Balraj Gupta of the DRDO, on Friday said the tiny unmanned device can remain in air for 15 to 20 minutes and send photographic data to computer networks. Soldiers on the borders can also use it to observe movements across enemy lines. Only 30 cm wide, the device looks like a bird to untrained eyes. It can survey an area of roughly one square kilometre from a height of 500 metres. It weighs about 400 gm and is powered by a rechargeable battery.

Sources said the actual production of the device could take as long as three years after a series of field trials and improvements from feedback were made available.

Agra will host an international MICAV competition in March 2008 in which teams from Japan, the US, France, Britain, Israel and some other countries are expected to participate. (Source)
One wonders why the Indian media haven't heard about this yet. Guess we'll be waiting for more information from DRDO.

Chemical Imbalance

The electronic media is at it again. This time, its India's chemical weapons arsenal. One general statement from Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor, and Vishal Thapar has created a story out of thin air. This is pure sensationalism, or worse. Not only is the story full of holes and mistakes, but the basic premise itself is a fallacy. Here's why.

This is the report on CNN-IBN. (Story link). The video is embedded below:



To say that the report is full of holes would be an understatement of monumental proportions. What Thapar has done is to take a single sentence of Gen. Kapoor, remove the context, add unreferenced information, add his own conclusions, all cooked with a good bit of mirch masala to create a news story thats frivolous at best.

Firstly, India's Treaty obligations that was referred to is the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Its administered by an independent body, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (homepage). Its heartening to note that unlike other treaties, this is almost universally accepted, and has been ratified by 182 states (see list), and signed by another six.

Now, lets be clear. India's cache of Chemical weapons is no secret, contrary to Thapar's assertion. After ratifying the CWC in 1997, India has diligently fulfilled all its treaty obligations, dismantled over 80% of its weapons, and is on course to complete disarmament by 2009. The 2006 Annual report of the OPCW states much the same thing. And it should be an indicator of the sagacity of our administrators that the Armed Forces were kept out of the loop, thus reducing the risk of a WMD escalation in the subcontinent. It was a wise decision and not a blot on India's strategic culture.

This is what the OPCW says about India's commitments:

India has received an extension to 28 April 2009 of the deadline by which it must destroy all of its Category 1 chemical weapons stockpiles India has already destroyed 80% of its category 1 CW stockpile as well as 100% of its declared Category 2 and 3 chemical weapons.
Under the treaty (Part VI, Verification Annex), states are allowed to produce upto 10 kg of Schedule I chemicals annually. Any production over 100 gms must be declared. It would be laughable to call this production an "arsenal". Such production serves the purpose of improving Chemical Weapon protection and understanding of the Physiological effects of these chemicals. If dear Mr. Thapar wishes that we cease even this critical production in an effort to better protect our soldiers and people, there is nothing to be said.

Another allegation that Thapar immaturely makes (without offering any substantiation) is that the Army continues to be doctrinally committed to Chemical Weapons. That is a very serious claim, but no further explanation is offered. Why is that? Is it because it is too embarrassing, is the source confidential, was there a lack of time, or was it simple because there wasn't any proof?

The only bit of the article (which is as flimsy as a bamboo hut in a hurricane) that Thapar didn't make up, misquote or fib was the single sentence of the CAS that he used as a keystone to build around. Analyzing what Gen. Kapoor said,
“The chemical weapons aspect is still in the domain of discussions going on at an international level,” Kapoor said.
This is vague, but its hard to see how its even close to the conclusion that Vishal Thapar has drawn. And it certainly wasn't forced out of the Chief's mouth, like Thapar claims. Most likely, the Army Chief was referring to the CWC treaty and the disarmament process. Either way, its hard to know the context of his reply unless the whole quote was included. Unfortunately, the reporter has deigned that objectivity unimportant compared to his expert "findings".

The best indicator of Vishal Thapar's intentions is this statement, inserted at the bottom of the report, and not included in the Video.
For the record, Pakistan has declared a zero stockpile.
Well, for the Record, India ratified the CWC seven months before Pakistan did (India ratified on 29th Apr 1997, while Pakistan ratified on 27th Nov 1997).

Its not unlike Vishal Thapar, who never misses an opportunity to cock a snook at the Defence Establishment, whether it be this report, or his previous one about the Missile tests. The smear campaign is not worth responding to, but the serious and fraudulent claims that he has made are. Hopefully the Army or MoD will come forward to rubbish this slander campaign.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Newsflash: LCA Fires Missile

This is a newsflash from Chacko Joseph of Frontier India, who has confirmed that the LCA PV-1 has successfully fired a Vympel R-73 Air to Air Missile during Missile Trials in Dabolim, Goa.

This is a HUGE step forward for Indian Aerospace, and marks a turning point in the Operational Clearance process for the Tejas, and marks the first milestone of the weaponization process. Many more trials will have to be conducted, but this is a first step.

I saw a picture of the first LCA test flight. The whole team was up in the air, like little schoolboys cheering in a cricket match, without thought of the VIPs and VVIPs around (many of whom were also jumping up and down in glee). Today would have been the second of such cheerfully tearful days. Congratulations to the LCA team, and all those who poured their heart and soul into the program, which is finally bearing fruit. And Congrats to Chacko Joseph who first reported this news. Keep it up all.

Heres the report from Frontier India (link):

LCA firing the R-73 (Pictures courtesy DRDO, taken from Frontier India)

Tejas fires its first missile

Written on October 25, 2007 – 6:53 pm | by FIDSNS |

The Light Combat Aircraft ‘TEJAS’ program achieved the most significant milestone yet when it successfully test fired the Close Combat Missile R-73 today at the air to air range off Goa coast. The historic event marks the beginning of weaponisation, which is the focus of the current initial operational clearance (IOC) phase of the program. Air to Air missile integration and testing especially on a fly by wire aircraft is a very complex task involving interfaces with aerodynamics, engine air intake, control laws, flight control system, avionics system, electrical and other general system of aircraft. Today’s successful test firing is the culmination of preparatory work under the guidance of Mr. JJ Jadhav, DPD (Weapon Systems) and Mr. Balasubramanyam, AGM (HAL). Accordingly the main objectives of test firing were to validate:

•Safe separation of the missile from the parent aircraft.
•Effect of missile plume on engine air-intake
•Functionality of store management system (SMS) including safety interlocks
•Effect of missile plume on composites structures
•Handling quality assessment during missile launch

The historic flight was done on Tejas prototype vehicle PV-1, piloted by the Chief Test Pilot of the National Flight Test Centre ADA, Gp Capt. N. Harish. The test firing was done at 7 km altitude and 0.6 Mach.... (read more)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Praise the Double-tongued Snake

Continuing in the Congress' tradition of duplicity and double-speak, PM-ji Singh's comments that Gujarat was a 'Holocaust'. Fine, Dr Singh. But what about the Sikh Riots? A Government-sponsored pogrom (much like the Holocaust itself), that killed more than Gujarat. A genocide that ironically, led Khushwant Singh to say that he "felt like a Jew in Nazi Germany".

Swapan Dasgupta elaborates in this his piece for the Pioneer, reproduced below.


False eloquence does PM in

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has offered himself for direct election only once: In 1999, when he was the Congress candidate for South Delhi.

In normal circumstances, Manmohan should have won. South Delhi had a significant number of middle and upper-middle class voters who were direct beneficiaries of the economic liberalisation he initiated in 1991. Many of them, particularly the beautiful people, came out openly in his support. The jhuggi clusters were, in any case, Congress strongholds. Additionally, the constituency had a generous proportion of Sikh voters who should have been glad to see one of their own in the Lok Sabha.

Then something unexpected happened in the final days of the campaign. At one of those dreary Press conferences every candidate hosts, Manmohan was asked a routine question about the Congress involvement in the 1984 riots that led to the killing of more than 1,000 Sikhs in the four days after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. He calmly replied that the RSS was responsible for the riots. Surprised

According to local politicians, this was the turning point. On Election Day, I recall some BJP leaders saying there was a heavy Sikh turnout in South Delhi. It implied the Manmohan card was working for the Congress. The results contained many surprises but none greater than Manmohan's resounding defeat. On scrutiny, it was found that the Congress lost most heavily in Sikh-dominated areas. Manmohan's disingenuous bid to turn black into white and falsify the past rebounded on him.

The 1999 defeat should have driven home to the Prime Minister a simple fact: That it doesn't behove him to play with a cross bat. People have different expectations from politicians. Lalu Yadav can get away being perpetually non-serious; slippery ambiguity is associated with Atal Bihari Vajpayee; dynastic gaffes come naturally to Rahul Gandhi; and inanity and Jyoti Basu are inseparable. LK Advani and Prakash Karat are known for their measured pronouncements; they can't get away with loose talk. And Sonia Gandhi never makes an unscripted utterance since she proclaimed "We have 272" in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan in 1999.

Manmohan is a prisoner of his own reputation. He is perceived as scholarly, serious, upright and kindly -- a cut above the average grasping politician. These attributes have conferred on him both respectability and acceptability. His limitations -- malleable, spineless and too wooden -- are known. But balanced against his strengths he has somehow passed muster in the cruel world of politics. The nation has defined its expectations of the Prime Ministers.

What they don't expect from him is falsiloquence -- a tongue-twister that means lying, deceitful speech. Yet, it was a harried Prime Minister who fell back on falsiloquence on the return flight from his uneventful African sojourn.

Responding to the BJP's call for his honourable resignation in the aftermath of his shamefaced surrender to the comrades and mullahs over the nuclear deal, he retorted that Advani had no moral right to pillory him. Had Advani, after all, not been Home Minister during the "Holocaust" in Gujarat?

The PM is sufficiently well read to know that holocaust is a term that cannot be used casually. In contemporary usage, it refers to the organised elimination of some six million Jews by Hitler's Nazis. It carries connotations of institutionalised evil on a grand scale.

According to a written reply to the Rajya Sabha on May 11, 2005 by the Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal, a total of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed in the post-Godhra riots of 2002 in Gujarat. Judged by casualties, the violence that gripped Gujarat after the arson attack on Hindu activists in a railway carriage outside the Godhra railway station is one of the most serious post-Independence. It ranks just a notch below the killing of more than 1,000 Sikhs in Delhi (there were another 400 killings in other parts of India) -- a tragedy that Rajiv Gandhi justified with a facile analogy to falling trees.

The murder of any Indian in sectarian violence is a blot. Yet, the incidents recur with monotonous regularity and the blame game goes on without interruption. It's bad enough for the Prime Minister to once again lower himself to what Nehru once disdainfully called "the level of the bazaar". His offence is compounded by his penchant for wilful exaggeration.

If the Gujarat riots were, indeed, another Holocaust, does it do the image of India any good in the eyes of the world? Or, is the Prime Minister so utterly contemptuous of the people of Gujarat that he would go to any extent to vilify them? The Holocaust utterance tells us more about the PM's insecurities and paranoia than it does about what happened in Gujarat five years ago.

Of course, Manmohan's Government has an intimate sense of what constitutes a Holocaust. In November 2005, Russia, Canada, Australia, Israel and the US moved a resolution in the UN General Assembly calling for January 27 to be observed each year as a memorial day for the six million Jews and other victims of the Nazi Holocaust. India voted against it. Exclamation

The suggestion was that it was an attempt by the UPA to cosy up to the anti-Semitic lobby that thrives in parts of West Asia. The real reason, I suspect, was that Manmohan felt that the actual Holocaust happened in Gujarat. Laughing

It would be interesting to know what the people of Gujarat have to say about the Prime Minister's sense of history.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Bitter pill to swallow


Most of the 200,000 who turned up on the streets of Karachi to welcome back Benazir Bhutto knew that there were credible threats. But they still came, believing in the humanity of those who made the threats, and the effectiveness of the government security. On both counts, they were wrong. Its unfortunate that innocent people who came to celebrate the return to democracy had to die for no fault of theirs. 130 dead, and counting. 130 Families devastated.

Its the worst terrorist attack that Pakistan has faced. John Howard has blamed the Al-Queda for for this, Asif Zardari has blamed the ISI, and others have just blamed 'Extremists'. This itself shows the monumental misunderstanding that most countries have of Terrorism in general.



The Horrific aftermath of the blasts. (sourced from The Liberal Blogger)

But this incident will come as no surprise to those who have observed Pakistan for the past few years- smaller incidents have been frequent, mostly killing a few dozen people. This is the big one that will wake up the rest. And those who till now were called naysayers, sensationalists, and other names are hollering we-told-you-so. Not with glee though. Unfortunately, it seems that those who're speaking the truth are afflicted with the "Cassandra complex", and its only now that most leaders are realizing what could have been prevented if only they'd listened.

'Blowback'. Thats the only way to describe the present happenings in Pakistan. What goes around, comes around. This bomb blast, the Lal masjid problem, and the growing power of Radical Clerics is all a blast from the past (no pun intended), a fallout of the policies of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, and ironically, the support of Madam Benazir. After all, it was her channeling of these terrorists into Kashmir that kept them alive. After tearing apart Kashmir, and being beaten back by the Army, they tried (with liberal ISI support) to tear apart our cities with bomb blasts. With the US forces in Afghanistan, they were boxed in. with nowhere else to go, no weak enemies to destroy, the terrorists did the only thing they could- they're tearing Pakistan
apart.

Somewhere in South Block today, there's probably been a meeting to discuss the response to these events. Both Shivraj Patil and MMS should realize that the events in Pakistan can, and will spill over. The only way to stop that is to be alert and strong against terror. Unfortunately, that seems a little far-fetched, given our government's pussyfooting, and the fact that we dont even have an anti-terror law.

For long, we've faced these blasts. India has lost 60,000 people to these monsters. It was a matter of time before our neighbours faced the same. Undoubtedly, there's a certain schadenfreude among certain sections in seeing Pakistan eating its own medicine. There was an indication of that when the Samjhauta Express was firebombed. But we must remember that in any incident like these, its not the terrorists or leaders who suffer; its the common people. Hopefully these event will spur the Pakistan's leaders to clean up, and our leaders to be on their toes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Just so Stories- How Pakistan got its bomb

Here's a Guardian Report about how the US turned a blind eye to Pakistan's Nuclear activities, and even helped it along:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/pakistan/Story/0%2C%2C2188777%2C00.html

The man who knew too much

He was the CIA's expert on Pakistan's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark report

Saturday October 13, 2007
The Guardian


Rich Barlow idles outside his silver trailer on a remote campsite in Montana - itinerant and unemployed, with only his hunting dogs and a borrowed computer for company. He dips into a pouch of American Spirit tobacco to roll another cigarette. It is hard to imagine that he was once a covert operative at the CIA, the recognised, much lauded expert in the trade in Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

He prepared briefs for Dick Cheney, when Cheney was at the Pentagon, for the upper echelons of the CIA and even for the Oval Office. But when he uncovered a political scandal - a conspiracy to enable a rogue nation to get the nuclear bomb - he found himself a marked man.

In the late 80s, in the course of tracking down smugglers of WMD components, Barlow uncovered reams of material that related to Pakistan. It was known the Islamic Republic had been covertly striving to acquire nuclear weapons since India's explosion of a device in 1974 and the prospect terrified the west - especially given the instability of a nation that had had three military coups in less than 30 years . Straddling deep ethnic, religious and political fault-lines, it was also a country regularly rocked by inter-communal violence. "Pakistan was the kind of place where technology could slip out of control," Barlow says.

He soon discovered, however, that senior officials in government were taking quite the opposite view: they were breaking US and international non-proliferation protocols to shelter Pakistan's ambitions and even sell it banned WMD technology. In the closing years of the cold war, Pakistan was considered to have great strategic importance. It provided Washington with a springboard into neighbouring Afghanistan - a route for passing US weapons and cash to the mujahideen, who were battling to oust the Soviet army that had invaded in 1979. Barlow says, "We had to buddy-up to regimes we didn't see eye-to-eye with, but I could not believe we would actually give Pakistan the bomb.

How could any US administration set such short-term gains against the long-term safety of the world?" Next he discovered that the Pentagon was preparing to sell Pakistan jet fighters that could be used to drop a nuclear bomb.

Barlow was relentless in exposing what he saw as US complicity, and in the end he was sacked and smeared as disloyal, mad, a drunk and a philanderer. If he had been listened to, many believe Pakistan might never have got its nuclear bomb; south Asia might not have been pitched into three near-nuclear conflagrations; and the nuclear weapons programmes of Iran, Libya and North Korea - which British and American intelligence now acknowledge were all secretly enabled by Pakistan - would never have got off the ground. "None of this need have happened," Robert Gallucci, special adviser on WMD to both Clinton and George W Bush, told us. "The vanquishing of Barlow and the erasing of his case kicked off a chain of events that led to all the nuclear-tinged stand-offs we face today. Pakistan is the number one threat to the world, and if it all goes off - a nuclear bomb in a US or European city- I'm sure we will find ourselves looking in Pakistan's direction."

US aid to Pakistan tapered off when the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan. Dejected and impoverished, in 1987 Pakistan's ruling military responded by selling its nuclear hardware and know-how for cash, something that would have been obvious to all if the intelligence had been properly analysed. "But the George HW Bush administration was not looking at Pakistan," Barlow says. "It had new crises to deal with in the Persian Gulf where Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait."

As the first Gulf war came to an end with no regime change in Iraq, a group of neoconservatives led by Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Donald Rumsfeld were already lobbying to finish what that campaign had started and dislodge Saddam. Even as the CIA amassed evidence showing that Pakistan, a state that sponsored Islamist terrorism and made its money by selling proscribed WMD technology, was the number one threat, they earmarked Iraq as the chief target.

When these neocons came to power in 2001, under President George W Bush, Pakistan was indemnified again, this time in return for signing up to the "war on terror". Condoleezza Rice backed the line, as did Rumsfeld, too. Pakistan, although suspected by all of them to be at the epicentre of global instability, was hailed as a friend. All energies were devoted to building up the case against Iraq.

It is only now, amid the recriminations about the war in Iraq and reassessments of where the real danger lies, that Barlow - the despised bringer of bad news about Pakistan - is finally to get a hearing. More than 20 years after this saga began, his case, filed on Capitol Hill, is coming to court later this month. His lawyers are seeking millions of dollars in compensation for Barlow as well as the reinstatement of his $80,000 a year government pension. Evidence will highlight what happened when ideologues took control of intelligence in three separate US administrations - those of Reagan, and of the two Bushes - and how a CIA analyst who would not give up his pursuit for the truth became a fall guy.

At first Barlow thought he was helping safeguard the world. "I just loved it," he says. His focus from the start was Pakistan, at the time suspected of clandestinely seeking nuclear weapons in a programme initiated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the father of Benazir. "Everywhere I looked I kept coming up against intelligence about Pakistan's WMD programme," Barlow says. "I thought I was telling them what they needed to hear, but the White House seemed oblivious." Immersed in the minutiae of his investigations, he didn't appreciate the bigger picture: that Pakistan had, within days of Reagan's inauguration in 1981, gone from being an outcast nation that had outraged the west by hanging Bhutto to a major US ally in the proxy war in Afghanistan.

Within months Barlow was out of a job. A small band of Republican hawks, including Paul Wolfowitz, had convinced the president that America needed a new strategy against potential nuclear threats, since long-term policies such as d├ętente and containment were not working. Reagan was urged to remilitarise, launch his Star Wars programme and neutralise ACDA. When the agency's staff was cut by one third, Barlow found himself out of Washington and stacking shelves in a food store in Connecticut, where he married his girlfriend, Cindy. He was not on hand in 1984 when intelligence reached the ACDA and the CIA that Pakistan had joined the nuclear club (the declared nuclear powers were Britain, France, the US, China and Russia) after China detonated a device on Pakistan's behalf.

Soon after, Barlow was re-employed to work as an analyst, specialising in Pakistan, at the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (OSWR). The CIA was pursuing the Pakistan programme vigorously even though Reagan was turning a blind eye - indeed, Reagan's secretary of state, George Schultz, claimed in 1985: "We have full faith in [Pakistan's] assurance that they will not make the bomb."

Back on a government salary, Barlow, aged 31, moved to Virginia with his wife Cindy, also a CIA agent. From day one, he was given access to the most highly classified material. He learned about the workings of the vast grey global market in dual-use components - the tools and equipment that could be put to use in a nuclear weapons programme but that could also be ascribed to other domestic purposes, making the trade in them hard to spot or regulate. "There was tonnes of it and most of it was ending up in Islamabad," he says. "Pakistan had a vast network of procurers, operating all over the world." A secret nuclear facility near Islamabad, known as the Khan Research Laboratories, was being fitted out with components imported from Europe and America "under the wire". But the CIA obtained photographs. Floor plans. Bomb designs. Sensors picked up evidence of high levels of enriched uranium in the air and in the dust clinging to the lorries plying the road to the laboratories. Barlow was in his element.

However, burrowing through cables and files, he began to realise that the State Department had intelligence it was not sharing - in particular the identities of key Pakistani procurement agents, who were active in the US. Without this information, the US Commerce Department (which approved export licences) and US Customs (which enforced them) were hamstrung.

Barlow came to the conclusion that a small group of senior officials was physically aiding the Pakistan programme. "They were issuing scores of approvals for the Pakistan embassy in Washington to export hi-tech equipment that was critical for their nuclear bomb programme and that the US Commerce Department had refused to license," he says. Dismayed, he approached his boss at the CIA, Richard Kerr, the deputy director for intelligence, who summoned senior State Department officials to a meeting at CIA headquarters in Langley. Barlow recalls: "Kerr tried to do it as nicely as he could. He said he understood the State Department had to keep Pakistan on side - the State Department guaranteed it would stop working against us."

.....
.....
(read more)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

75 years: Soaring hopes and Ambitious plans

At the 75th Anniversary Celebrations of the Indian Air Force at Hindon Air Base, the rows of VVIPs (Including the president, Vice-prez, PM and group) were enthralled by our hi-flying boys-in-blue. And what better occasion to trumpet the achievements and plans of the IAF. Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Major's address did just that; and in the process, helped clear up a lot of confusion, and provide a checklist (almost) of the Force's plans for the next few years.

You can check out the full address at Press Info. Bureau of GoI. (Link)

The Press releases for the MoD can be found here.


Some juicy tit-bits provided by the CAS are:

Aircraft Entering Service:

- Hawk AJTs- Will arrive next month.
- Phalcon AWACS- Will be here next year.
- LCA - 1st sqn operational by 2010 (IOC)

Contracts to be signed soon:

- 6 C-130J 'Super Hercules' Tactical Transport Aircraft for the Special Forces.
- 80 Mi-17 1Vs.
- 54 ALH Dhruvs.
- Aerostats for Air Defence and over-the-horizon Surveillance {{Obviously from Israel}}.

Upgrades:

- Jaguar & Mig-27 - Upgrades almost done
- Mirage-2000 & MIg-29 - Being Negotiated
- Il-76, An-32, Helos - Will start after that

Other:

- Integration of Civil Radars.
- 'Combat Communications Network' to be set up.
- Joint Design & Development of 5th Gen Fighter Aircraft and MTA (Medium Transport Aircraft) being negotiated. {{This is probably the clearest indicator that the FGFA project is not the PAK-FA being developed by Russia, since its design has been frozen.}}

Sunday, October 7, 2007

And yet, Terrorists don't rest

You'd have thought that after this week's mega-encounter at Tangmarg, the terrorists would rest for some time to allow the situation to cool-off. But they dont seem to have got the message. Yesterday, another infiltration attempt was foiled. Thats the fourth attempt this week. 19 Terrorists dead, 5 Armymen dead.

Result: 7 Terrorists killed, 2 Jawans dead. RIP to the soldiers.

The Hindu has the story (link):

Seven militants killed

Srinagar: Seven militants and two jawans were killed on Saturday when security forces foiled two infiltration bids near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

A defence spokesman said here that six militants were killed in Tangdhar sector near the LoC.

Two jawans lost their lives in the gun battle.

One militant was killed by troops along the LoC in Baramulla district.

With Saturday’s incidents, the Army has foiled four bids by militants to infiltrate into Kashmir in as many days. Nineteen militants and five Army personnel were killed in these incidents. — PTI

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Tears & Pain

As the dust settles on the "Fiercest encounter in 5 years", the nation pays tribute to the two officers who lost their lives but took 9 terrorists with them. The Army has suffered a great loss with the heroic deaths of Maj. Vinay and Maj. Raghu Raman. One was to be married end of this month, the other was about to become a father.

The loss of these two bright, highly qualified officers is a big blow to the army, especially since they are the officers on the field, leading the men. It comes close on the heels of the death of Col. Vasanth, who died in a similar encounter in August. They all died as they lived, leading from the front.

It will be hard for the men who fought with the two officers to come to terms with their deaths. They were bright, enthusiastic, honourable and Brave men who lived by the Army credo of putting the country and the men above all else. Maj. Raghu Raman, even as he was being evacuated, was still thinking of how to destroy the Terrorists, his last words being a plea to his commanding officer not to let any terrorist escape.

Their families, strong in their grief are justifiably proud of their sons, a trait common to all Army families. Veteran Sub Maj (Hony Capt) S Krishnamurty, Raghuram's father said that while he was proud to be the father of a martyr, despite having lost his son in the service of the nation he would still advise his grand child, who is yet to be born, to join the Army and serve the nation. “I am an ex-serviceman and very proud of my son, who laid down his life for the country. That is all I can say.”

May Maj. Raman and Vinay R.I.P, their families find the courage to face their loss. Above all, let not their sacrifice be in vain, forgotten by an ungrateful nation.

The sister & father of Maj. D.R. Raman pay their respects as his coffin is brought to the airport in New Delhi on Thursday.

Bodies of the militants killed

The Indian Army Website keeps a tally of Anti-terrorist Operations on both the Northern as well as North-Eastern Regions. Check out http://indianarmy.nic.in/arantimili.htm.

Shiv Aroor's Arjun Ride

Here is the half hour Headlines Today special about the Arjun MBT, filed by Shiv Aroor (Blog) from the Heavy Vehicles Factory and CVRDE testing range in Avadi, Chennai. The lucky fellow got to spend two full days with the Tank, and was even given a chance to take it for a spin and get a few bumps and scratches on the paint.

There isn't much new information about the Tank thats said in the report, which is understandable given that the focus is on the layman who doesn't know a T-72 from a Mig. The camera-work is patchy, and wastes a lot of time showing repeats of the road-rage antics of Shiv the Driver. Still, considering that its a 20 minute long report, there are still some great bits of info, most notably a look into the impressive state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for the Arjuns. In addition, there are lots of small bits of info that can be gleaned by careful observers and enthusiastic analysts.

Shiv has a post on his impressions at his blog:
http://livefist.blogspot.com/2007/10/what-now-arjun.html


Take a look:

Part 1:


Part 2:



This latest piece echos Ajai Shukla's report about the Arjun in May, where he too did not have any criticisms of the Tank.

At that time, there was a palpable sense of both hope and anxiety. Hope because the DRDO was confident that it had a world-class product that would come out on top in the comparative trials; anxiety because the Army is notoriously obstinate about having exactly what it wants (even with best-of-Brochuritis). In addition, Arjun's long development and a strong Russian Arms Lobby make it all the more disliked by the Brass.

With the cancellation of the Comparative Trials, a travesty of monumental proportions, the DRDO's fears came true, but they quickly salvaged it by planning the Accelerated User Trials. Lets hope this isn't another hogwash. One thing is clear though- the Arjun has arrived.

Its a great achievement on part of the DRDO PR apparatus that they have converted two people, who till recently were hacking at the Arjun and DRDO. Lets hope they can convince the Generals as well.

Tangmarg Encounter- A Sinister plot.

The terrorists killed in the Tangmarg encounter recently were on a mission- Destroy or disrupt the rail link being built to connect the Valley to the rest of India. Recovered from them were rifles, grenades, detailed diaries and instructions in bomb-making and laying explosives. Even more alarming is the recovery of Night Vision Devices and GPS receivers.

The recovery confirms the Army's reports that the militants were using GPS to cross the LoC, reducing their dependence on Gujjars. The NVGs and GPS are highly sophisticated equipment that would be difficult for an unsupported terrorist outfit to obtain, which indicates ISI assistance. That makes their planned operation no longer an act of terrorism, but an act of sabotage; an act of war.

The slaughter of the terrorists, many of whom were top commanders in their area of operation will surely be a big blow to their masters, and it will take time to fill their shoes. Kudos to the 34 Rashtriya Rifles who were involved in the operation.

Here's the CNN-IBN report (link). The video (link) is embedded below. (Follow the video link if you can't view it)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ramanjaneya Samvadam

Heres a Hilarious satirical piece I found at a forum (credits to Balunand). [Link]

Obviously, with all the Setusamudram controversy going on and with Rama's educational qualifications being questioned, its time for an answer from Ram. Which college did he study in. Well, heres his answer.

A BRIDGE TOO FAR

The Lord surveyed the Ram Setu and said "Hanuman, how diligently and strenuously you and your boys had built this bridge several centuries back. It is remarkable that it has withstood the ravages of the climatic and geographical changes over centuries. It is indeed an amazing feat especially considering the fact that a bridge at Hyderabad built by Gammon using latest technology collapsed the other day even before they could stick the posters on its pillars."

Hanuman with all humility spoke "Jai Sri Ram, it is all because of your grace. We just scribbled your name on the bricks and threw them in the sea and they held. No steel from TISCO or cement from Ambuja or ACC was ever used. But Lord, why rake up the old issue now."

Ram spoke "Well, Hanuman some people down there want to demolish the bridge and construct a canal. The contract involves lot of money and lot of money will be made. They will make money on demolition and make more money on construction "

Hanuman humbly bowed down and said "Why not we go down and present our case?"

Ram said "Times have changed since we were down there. History they say is only what is written in paper that can be carbon dated and counter-signed by a notary public from a western country of that time. Poetries are not good history anymore. They will ask us to submit age proof. We neither have a birth certificate nor school leaving certificate, and since we travelled mainly on foot and some times on your shoulders and in carts we don't have a driving license either. As far as the address proof is concerned the fact that I was born at Ayodhya is itself under litigation for over half a century. if I go in a traditional attire with bow and arrow, the ordinary folks may recognize me but Arjun Singh may take me to be some tribal and, at the most, offer a seat at IIT under the reserved category. Also, a God cannot walk in dressed in a three-piece suit and announce his arrival. It would make even the devotees suspicious. So it is a dilemma, so to say."

Hanuman said "I can vouch for you by saying that I was present personally when Neela built the bridge."

"My dear, Anjanaputra, it will not work. First of all neither of you are qualified engineers with a degree certificate from a recognized university. Then they will ask you to produce the lay-out plan, the project details, including financial outlay and how the project cost was met and the completion certificate. Nothing is accepted these days without documentary evidence in India. You may cough but unless a doctor certifies it, you have no cough. A pensioner may present himself personally but the authorities do not take it as proof. He has to produce a life-certificate to prove that he is alive. It is that complicated."

"Lord, I can't understand these historians. Hasn’t Valmikiji given an accurate description of the planetary positions when you, Lakshmanbhai, Bharathbhai and Shatrughnabhai were born? Every major event of your life has been described with reference to astronomical positions. What about the geography of India of our times? We never saw the desert in Rajasthan and the Saraswati and Drishadwati were in full flow then. Yamuna was flowing west and Sutlej to the east then. Valmikiji has mentioned all these. Can’t the present day chaps work with their softwares and satellite pictures and verify them? Over the years you have given darshan once in a while to saints like Surdas, Tulsidas, Saint Thyagaraja, Jayadeva, Bhadrachala Ramdas and even Sant Tukaram and still they disbelieve your existence and say Ramayana is a myth.

“Well”, said the Lord, What Surdas and others saw has been dismissed as hallucinations and those astronomical and geological data, I believe, are only later day insertions in Valmikiji’s fiction by some mischievous Brahmins who somehow became smart enough to calculate the positions backward by sheer imagination.

Hanuman said, The only option, I see, is to re-enact Ramayana on earth and set the government records straight once for all."

Lord smiled "It isn't that easy today, Hanumat. Ravan is apprehensive that he may look like a saint in front of Karunanidhi. I also spoke to his Mama Mareecha, who appeared as a golden deer to tempt Sita Maiyya when I was in the forest and he said that he won't take a chance of stepping on earth as long as Salman Khan is around."

Friday, August 31, 2007

Indo-US Nuclear Deal- Full Text

Manoj Joshi, whose blog is both interesting and eloquent, has been kind enough to trawl through the MEA's website and find the full text document of the Indo-US 123 Deal (in pdf format).

If you're interested in reading and analyzing it, you can check out the download link at http://www.savefile.com/files/946023. The file will be up for a month (more, depending upon the number of downloads).

The full text can also be found on the US State Department Website at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/aug/90050.htm

While you're at it, you can also download the July 18 2005 Agreement text (pdf document) from the MEA website (Bilateral Treaties and Documents section):

Implementation of the India-United States Joint Statement of July 18, 2005: India’s Separation Plan

Friday, June 29, 2007

MRCA Tender- RFP cleared for Release

MRCA Contract Update- June 29

Over the past week, theres been a flurry of activity on the MRCA scene. Last week, AK Antony said that the Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC) would meet and approve the Request for Proposal (RFP) for release within the fortnight. That report was on the 18th. Luckily, the DAC met the deadline. Yesterday, the DAC met in Delhi and cleared the purchase of the 126 fighter jets.

The big news was reported by various newspapers. Unfortunately, its hard to trust most of these reporters (for reasons well known), and so, an official MoD source was needed. That press release is given below.

An Analysis of this news is on the way. The press release by itself is quite detailed, and a lot can be inferred from it. The most important observation is the name "Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft", which suggests that the IAF is no longer looking for a Mig-21 replacement, but is looking to boost the number of medium weight class (Max. Takeoff Wt. of 20-25 tons) aircraft, which do the bulk of "Earth-mover" work in strike roles. That is, in any mission, these aircraft would be the bomb carriers and the core of the formation, while other aircraft, like the LCA and Su-30 would provide air cover. This class, capable of carrying over 6 tons of weapons (9-10 tons
of load, i.e. Weapons + Fuel), is crucial for the IAF, which has been looking to shore up the numbers and replace the Mig-27s and Jaguars that are getting old.

This also means that the MoD is no longer worried about the progress of the LCA project. Reports before would regularly talk about the MRCA being floated due to delays in the LCA project. But, considering the progress of the Tejas, that doesn't seem to be a worry any more.

The MoD Press Release:
http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=28894

DEFENCE ACQUISITION COUNCIL CLEARS PROCUREMENT 126 MMRCA

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony has cleared the process for the procurement of 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force. During its meeting here today, the DAC debated various issues related to the initial purchase, transfer of technology, licensed production and life time maintenance support for the 126 MMRCA and gave the final go-ahead for the project.

In pursuant to the recent assurance given by the Defence Minister for an early issue of the much awaited Request for Proposal (RFP) for the 126 fighter jets, the Ministry of Defence and Indian Air Force officers have been working overtime to scrutinize all aspects of the RFP. In view of the size and operational importance of the likely purchase, the criteria for selecting the final MMRCA contender from amongst some of the best combat aircraft offered by American, Russian and European companies, has been fine tuned. The RFP would contain a selection model that would involve an exhaustive evaluation process as detailed in the Defence Procurement Procedures — 2006.

The proposals from the likely contenders would first be technically evaluated by a professional team to check for compliance with IAF’s operational requirements and other RFP conditions. Extensive field trials would be carried out to evaluate the performance. Finally, the commercial proposal of the vendors, short-listed after technical and field evaluations, would be examined and compared. The aircraft are likely to be in service for over 40 years. The vendors are required to provide a life time support and performance based warranty for the aircraft. MoD officials have confirmed that great care has been taken to ensure that only determinable factors, which do not lend themselves to any subjectivity, are included in the commercial selection model. The selection would be transparent and fair.

The DAC has approved that a majority of the MMRCA would be produced in India under transfer of technology. The vendor finally selected would also b e required to undertake offset obligations in India. It is expected that the ToT and offset contracts would provide a great technological and economic boost to the indigenous defence industries, which would include DPSUs, RURs and other eligible private sector industries. Foreign vendors would be provided great flexibility in effecting tie-up with Indian partners, for this purpose.

There are three guiding principles for this procurement scheme. First, the operational requirements of IAF should be fully met. Second, the selection process should be competitive, fair and transparent, so that best value for money is realized. Lastly, Indian defence industries should get an opportunity to grow to global scales.

With the decks finally cleared, the RFP is planned to be issued in the near future.

Sitanshu Kar

An earlier report by the Indian Express, dated 18th June is given below.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/33998.html

PANEL MEET SOON TO DECIDE ON IAF’S 126 FIGHTERS CONTRACT

New Delhi, June 18: The decks have been cleared for India’s biggest ever global defence tender to acquire 126 multi role combat aircraft. Defence Minister A K Antony on Monday said the Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC) will meet within a fortnight to finalise the tender document.

“The DAC will meet within a fortnight and decide on the RFP. All negotiations are over and now it is a question of formalities,” the Minister told media persons after inaugurating a two-day annual Unified Commander’s Conference.


He indicated that issues like factoring in life-cycle costs and clauses of the offset policy have been resolved by saying that the final Request for Proposals would be issued within “one or two months”.


Meanwhile, Air Chief Marshal F H Homi left on Monday for a five-day France visit. He will attend the Paris Air Show that will showcase contenders for the contract like the American F-16 and F/A 18 Super Hornet, the French Rafale, Russian MiG 35 and the Swedish Gripen.


Speaking on the LTTE threat, ... (unrelated issues continued).


More Reports:
(note- links shown here may have been shortened. If you're not able to see, right click and copy link location.)
http://www.hindu.com/2007/06/29/stories/2007062954320900.htm

http://www.indiaprwire.com/businessnews/20070628/23165.htm
http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/India_to_buy_126_fighter_jets
CNN Money Report
International Herald Tribune Report
Reuters India Report
http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/77788.html

For more reports, see Google News. A Collection of reports like the ones above can be found here.