21 February 2013

India's Shrinking Military Capabilities

 20 Feb , 2013 

Indian military capabilities shrink rapidly while the threats multiply. 

Instead of removing poverty, the politician turned poverty into business of vote-bank-politics. Result: Sixty-two years later Maoists control forty percent of the Indian Territory and the insurgents in the border states have influence in another ten percent, both with explicit support of external actors. 

While the Army is battling insurgents for decades in Kashmir and in the Northeast, in all likelihood, it will be drawn into conflict with the Maoists to reclaim territories under their control. This is a direct consequence to the demonstrated incompetence of the inept and crumbling Civil Administration. Resources of the Army, Air force and the Navy are already at an all time low and are over stretched, undermining the capability of the Indian military machine to fulfill its primary role of coping with the challenges of external threat. 

MoDs legendary inefficiency extends battle-winning advantages to the enemy.

Beijing and Islamabad are delighted with New Delhi’s clumsy response. 

Couple the internal threat with burgeoning external threat. Beijing boasts of capability to create three-pronged mischief on the Indian Borders. First, China has built elaborate infrastructure and potent military capability in Tibet. Second, it not only synergized anti-India activities with Pakistan but has also positioned elements of the PLA inside PoK. Third, China quietly propelled their proxy Maoists (Nepal) to the centre-stage in Katmandu. Not to mention the advantage China gained in Sri Lanka while India lost some. 

Shahbag Square: Bangla’s DNA

By Bhaskar Roy

The huge protest gatherings at Shahbag Square in Dhaka demanding capital punishment for the 1971 war criminals, and the growing call for banning the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) reaffirms that the future of Bangladesh is in secure hands. 

These are young men and women, students, and professionals, cutting across party lines and non-party citizens who have realized at what cost and sacrifice the country’s independence was won and are determined to ensure that the ideals of the war of liberation are not lost. The most encouraging aspect of Shahbag Square is that political colour is absent and national sentiments are in the forefront. 

Honestly speaking, there was a real fear that the war of liberation had become a distant and vague issue in the minds of the young generation. No efforts were spared to obliterate the incident when three million innocent men, women and children were killed, and around two million women raped by the Pakistani army. They were more than adequately assisted by the Jamaat in the form of Al Badar, Al Shams and the Razakars. According to Pakistani army eye witnesses, these people even misled the Pakistani army to attack and kill old men, women and children. In fact, these people, by some accounts, were more blood thirsty than the Pakistani soldiers. Abdul Kader Mollah was one of them. 

What, perhaps, shocked the youth of Bangladesh were the happenings during BNP-JEI led government in 2001-2006, which are unravelling in the courts of the country currently. Witnesses and indicted officials of that era are beginning to speak. Fingers are being pointed at BNP Chairperson and then Prime Minister, Begum Khalida Zia by no one less than Director General of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), Brig. Gen. Rumi. In one of Rumi’s statements to the court, Khaleda Zia is implicated with knowledge on the attempt of Awami League President Sk. Hasina’s life in 2004. Many other terrorist related incidents and plans, involving BNP and JEI leaders have begun to come out. Finally, few in Bangladesh can forget the August 2005 simultaneous bomb blasts in 63 of the country’s 64 districts. The ensuing climate was such that if a man went out in the evening there was no surety that he would return alive. Terrorist group Jamatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB) was dismissed by Prime Minister Khaleda as a creation of media imagination. All those denials have come crashing to the ground. 

All these and more contribute to the reawakening which is Shahbag Square. No one wants to live under those dark days. Hawa Bhavan in Dhaka, the office of Khaleda Zia’s elder son Tareq Rehman became the power centre in the country. Political murders and corruption were directed from Hawa Bhavan as were important promotions and postings in the army and the bureaucracy. 

US Alliances in Asia: Doing More with Less

By Carl W. Baker, Brad Glosserman

Feb 20, 2013 

Amidst all the change in Asia - new leaders in China, Japan, and South Korea, relentless military modernization programs in China and North Korea, territorial frictions that could produce conflict - we like to believe that one verity remains: the US and its five allies remain committed to their military partnerships and rely on them to create the peace and stability that has been the foundation of regional prosperity. Or do they?

Nuclear Weapons: Debating the Normative Imperatives to Disarm

By Satyabrat Sinha, Assistant Professor, Presidency University 
21 February 2013 

In evaluating the argument that for global nuclear disarmament to be possible, norms that delegitimise and devalue nuclear weapons are needed, we first need to understand norms and their difference from injunctions (legal or moral), and the emergence of norms. Norms may be defined as, a principle of right action binding upon the members of a group and serving to guide, control, or regulate proper and acceptable behaviour. Norms comprise both of behaviour, observable recurrent patterns, as well as beliefs and expectations. Social norms can emerge through human design as well as an unintended outcome of uncoordinated human action. The crucial element sustaining the norm is the presence of conditional preferences for conformity. Only the joint presence of a conditional preference for conformity, and the belief that other people will conform to a particular ideal, will produce an agreement between normative beliefs and behaviour. 

That the establishment of norms devaluing and delegitimising nuclear weapons could go a long way in paving the path towards global nuclear disarmament has often been argued. There are various reasons to not expect the linear progression as imagined in the hypothesis. 

The first, and the strongest argument available, pertains to the prestige and utility value of nuclear weapons and how they provide weaker powers security against bigger and stronger powers. The norm of non-use of nuclear weapons that developed after its use in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a taboo that precludes the possession of nuclear weapons. In fact, the normative taboo with regard to use of nuclear weapons notwithstanding, there are more states who have rushed to possess nuclear weapons than the ones who have given up. Nuclear weapons remain an insurance for states seeking parity with superior powers (Pakistan-India; India-China; China-United States) and for states seeking security against regime change (North Korea). 

When the utility value of possessing nuclear weapons for the above set of states is examined, it seems that the normative considerations have not been and would not be enough to stop them in their pursuit. States such as Brazil, South Africa or Argentina, that have given up the nuclear weapons option have been states whose security calculus had no value of the possession of nuclear weapons. However, the states whose security imperatives called for the utility of nuclear weapons, have gone ahead (Israel, India, Pakistan) and the others (North Korea, Iran) have assiduously moved towards the goal, despite the threat of the US. As long as the utility of the possession of nuclear weapons remains, normative conditions will be difficult to satisfy. This, by far, would be the strongest argument against the development of norms against nuclear weapons and its success in terms of moving towards global disarmament. 

Getting ahead of the sum of all fears

By Michael Krepon
February 21, 2013 
The HIndu Agni-V, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Rajpath during Republic Day parade in New Delhi. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt 

The safest way to reduce the subcontinent’s nuclear dangers is through consistent efforts to improve relations between India and Pakistan, particularly economic ties 

While India focuses on China’s strategic modernisation programmes, Pakistan competes with India. This triangular nuclear interaction is too complex for traditional arms control and too dynamic for laissez-faire policies. Beijing and New Delhi have adopted a relatively relaxed approach to implementing the requirements for nuclear deterrence. In both countries, national security is equated primarily with strong economies and domestic cohesion. Chinese and Indian leaders value nuclear weapons primarily as expressions of national will and power, rather than as military instruments. In Pakistan, the situation is different. Economic growth is hobbled and the country is plagued by bloodletting. Decisions about nuclear requirements are made by a few individuals with military backgrounds who view these weapons as having both political and military  AP MISSILE FLEXING: Shaheen-1.         value. 

Of legal deals & agents

By S. Nihal Singh
Feb 20, 2013 

While the Bofors controversy was raging in the country, I asked Dinesh Singh, then a Cabinet minister, why Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of the day, had declared that he would have no agents in defence deals. His answer was significant. He said: “Bhai, inexperienced hai” (Well, he is inexperienced).

The evil of this foolish policy is still with us today, as we are reminded by the breathless coverage of the AugustaWestland helicopter deal. It is well recognised the world over that arms deals need agents not only to calibrate deals for potential sellers but also to prepare the ground for buyers. Defence deals are traditionally high-risk and high-profit enterprises and any agent has to have the wherewithal and savvy to swing a deal.

Paying money under the table to close a deal is another matter altogether and is a subject of legitimate investigation and, if guilt is proved, punishment. The tragedy is that the mantra of “no agent” prevailing in the country places legitimate agents at a great disadvantage, with wheeler-dealers and cloak-and-dagger specialists taking over the field.

Today’s prevailing political atmosphere, of course, does not help. Judging by the Bofors precedent and the long list of scams that have figured in recent times, the UPA government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh takes immediate fright and vows blue murder towards one and all, particularly before the Budget Session of Parliament. There is no cool assessment of the pros and cons of the deal. Once the chief of the Italian firm Finmeccanica was arrested in Italy, allegedly for paying bribes to swing the deal, New Delhi went hyperactive.

Normally, it takes years to make a major defence deal, given the essential process of matching specifications, field trials and price negotiations with built-in transfer of technology clauses and stipulated domestic investments. Our defence services are only too well aware of how dilatory the process is with our genius for making the simplest things most complicated in depriving them of essential equipment in each of the three armed services.

And whiff of a corruption scandal makes the government press the panic button. What is worse, reputations are sacrificed without proof. In the present instance, the basis of a preliminary report in Italy filed by the prosecution on the arrest of the firm’s chief is widely disseminated in the Indian media to besmirch the reputation of the former Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi.

Choking the middle

By Pratap Bhanu Mehta 
Feb 21 2013

It says something about our attention span that the important news seldom becomes news. The two most significant, and in some ways related, stories last week were these: on Sunday, this paper chronicled an extraordinary new survey of the prevalence of cancer in parts of Punjab; the Global Burden of Disease Report, released at a workshop organised by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), estimated that outdoor air pollution has become the fifth largest killer in India, accounting for approximately 6,20,000 deaths. The CSE itself has chronicled the alarmingly deteriorating air quality in Indian cities. 

But the discourse on the environment goes on its counter-narrative. Last month, the prime minister was quoted as saying that environmental clearances have become the new licence permit raj. Prominent businessman have been tweeting about green becoming the new red tape. There is some truth to this anxiety. There is arbitrariness, delay and uncertainty in our environmental regime, though statistically, the regime is too lax. But this is true of every aspect where the state impinges on us, from taxation to justice. 

There is also some truth in the anxiety that there is an assortment of groups who exhibit a debilitating distrust of technology, and would cumulatively grind everything, from power plants to ports to mining, to a halt. But it will be catastrophic for the nation if here, as elsewhere, the fringes are allowed to legitimise a counter narrative that constructs the environment as a kind of nuisance in the path of growth. The fact is that India's environment, from rivers to air, from groundwater to forests, presents a spectacle of extraordinary desolation and risk. The point about the CSE story, or the story on Punjab, is that the environment is not just about local communities: it has become a big, almost murderous, public goods problem. 

Apart from the understandable impatience about the way government functions, the counter-narrative on the environment has some elements that need to be questioned. This column has argued for the importance and revolutionary potential of growth. But the rank instrumentalism that says the quality of growth does not matter is self-defeating for a number of reasons. The large assumptions behind this counter-narrative need to be questioned. 

A swim test in the Indian Ocean

By  Jyoti Malhotra 
February 21, 2013 

The mess in the Maldives shows that Indian foreign policy needs to focus more on improving engagement with South Asia 

The situation in the Maldives today — former President Mohamed Nasheed is holed up inside the Indian High Commission seeking protection from what he believes are trumped up charges against him by a kangaroo court — is quite different from what happened in 1950 in Nepal, but it is worthwhile recalling the similarities.

All through the 1940s, tension between King Tribhuvan of Nepal and his Prime Minister, Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, had escalated because the Rana wanted Nepal’s Gurkha troops to join the Second World War on the side of Britain. After an unsuccessful attempt at dislodging the Rana regime, Tribhuvan sought refuge in India House in Kathmandu in November 1950.

Jawaharlal Nehru ordered that Tribhuvan, his son, Mahendra and eldest grandson, Birendra be given protection under the Indian flag. After a week, they were flown into exile in New Delhi and put up at Hyderabad House. Huge anti-Rana demonstrations broke out in Nepal, forcing Mohan Shamsher, the last Rana Prime Minister, to negotiate with Tribhuvan. The victorious King returned home after two months.

So when Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected President of the Maldives, walked into the Indian High Commission a week ago, the alarm bell rang out in Delhi even though this was no repeat of the Nepal experience.
The hand of Gayoom

The Indian government has made it clear to the Maldivian government of Mohamed Waheed that Nasheed will stay inside the High Commission premises as long as he likes. That’s the first difference not only from 1950, but also from 2012, when Delhi declared that the transfer of power from Nasheed to Waheed — Nasheed called it a coup — was legitimate.

One year later, Delhi is being forced to reckon with the series of miscalculations it made last February. Clearly, India’s poor judgment calls and tearing hurry to recognise Waheed were the combined outcome of misreporting from the ground by its man in Male, as well as the fear that a power vacuum would have the Chinese rushing into the Maldives. The threat of Islamist resurgence was always at hand.

India: War Preparedness Hit By Policy Paralysis of Defence Ministry

By Dr Subhash Kapila 

Introductory Observations 

India’s war preparedness against The China Threat and The Pakistan Threat is getting hit on two major counts. The de-emphasising of these two major threats by India’s policy establishment causes grievous harm to India’s security in more ways than one as reflected in my recent Papers on this site. 

Compounding the above is the policy paralysis that afflicts the Indian Defence Ministry in terms of timely acquisition of military hardware and defence equipment for the Indian Armed Forces. This presumably flows from the above where complacency sets-in the Defence Ministry. 

Significantly on both counts there seems to be a political and bureaucratic obliviousness to the strategic reality that both China and Pakistan continuously monitor Indian war-preparedness where shortfalls in Indian military inventories (especially the 126 Fighter Aircraft and Artillery Guns) provide windows of opportunity for military adventurism against India. Kargil 1999 and India’s lack of retaliation against Pakistan after Mumbai 26/11 are evidence of the same. 

Reminiscent of the Bofors Scandal has been the VVIP Helicopters scam which has occupied Indian political and media space overwhelmingly for the last ten days. The Indian media has already started terming the current scam as Bofors II. 

Coming to the fore as this VVIP Helicopter scam assumes sharper contours and scrutiny are many questions as to why corruption dominates Indian defence purchases and related questions as to why an honest Defence Minister gets outsmarted by wheeler-dealer arms agents, lack of pre-emption of corruption in defence deals by Defence Ministry bureaucrats and more importantly what has the Defence Ministry over the decades done to reduce dependence on arms imports to improve India’s war preparedness. 

Indian Defence Minister’s Dilemma—Safeguarding Personal Integrity Versus India’s War Preparedness 

Defence Minister Antony assumed charge on 24 October 2006. He has an impeccable record of personal integrity so far and is reported to enjoy the political confidence of the Congress President. 

After The Afghan Pullout, The Dangers For Central Asia

By John Herbst and William Courtney 
February 17, 2013 

Kyrgyz soldiers parade together with U.S. servicemen during a change of command ceremony at the U.S. transit center at Manas Airport in June. Russia has long been unhappy about the United States' presence in Kyrgyzstan. 

In his State of the Union speech on February 12, U.S. President Barack Obama declared that by the end of 2014 "our war in Afghanistan will be over." This step, long expected, will decrease security in neighboring Central Asia. Flows northward from Afghanistan of terrorists and narcotics will put at greater risk a region already weakened by corruption, despotism, and ethnic and water tensions. The West should do more to enhance security in Central Asia, comprised of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. 

U.S. policy is predicated on the expectation that the 350,000-strong Afghan National Army, with assistance from U.S. advisers, will be able to keep the Taliban at bay. It is more likely that after 2014, barring a political agreement, the Taliban will remain in the field with control in most Pashtun areas and perhaps beyond. A bloodied but still standing Taliban would also pose a danger beyond its borders.

In the 1990s, Taliban control in Afghanistan spurred extremists in Central Asia. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and carried out bombings in Uzbekistan and kidnappings in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In 2004 a splinter group, the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), claimed suicide bombings in Uzbekistan and targeted the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Tashkent. Both groups are now holed up in ungoverned areas of Pakistan, but as NATO leaves Afghanistan they will probably carry the fight back to Central Asian homelands.

More Afghans will turn for sustenance to the opium industry, perhaps one-third of their country's gross domestic product. Trafficking northward will exacerbate staggering addiction problems in Central Asia and Russia. Afghanistan and nearby areas provide over four-fifths of Europe's heroin.

Central Asia faces other sources of insecurity. Dams that may be built in impoverished Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would boost their economies but choke off much downstream water for agriculture in Uzbekistan. Its ruler, Islam Karimov, recently warned of "water wars." The lush Ferghana Valley -- shared by Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan -- is a swirl of peoples and oppression, and a recruiting ground for Islamic jihadists. In 2005, a large number of protesters died at the hands of Uzbek security forces in Andijon, Uzbekistan, and in 2010 several hundred Uzbeks and a much smaller number of Kyrgyz died in ethnic clashes in the Kyrgyz city of Osh and nearby areas. A cesspool of corruption in Central Asia undermines governance. On Transparency International's index of corruption perceptions of 174 countries, Central Asian states rank poorly, averaging 157th place.

Shambaugh: China won’t be a global power until it figures out what it wants

By Thomas E. Ricks 
February 20, 2013 

By Alexander Sullivan 

Best Defense department of psynology 

Contrary to some of the more sensationalist appraisals of China's rise in world rankings, David Shambaugh argues in his new book, China Goes Global: The Partial Power, that despite China's undeniable achievements, it has succeeded in becoming a global actor but not a global power. Hence the word "partial." 

Shambaugh, a George Washington University political scientist, introduced his book last week in a February 13 talk at Johns Hopkins SAIS. He focused less on China's "vertical" rise -- its skyrocketing GDP and increasing military sophistication -- than on the extent of its "horizontal" expansion of its influence to the rest of the planet. He analyzed China's current global presence along five vectors: diplomacy, global governance, economics, culture, and security. 

China has expanded its reach in most of these areas: It is the world's second largest economy and possibly the largest trading nation; it has relations with over 170 countries; it sits at the main table in most global multilateral fora; its official media outlets are opening new bureaus abroad; and it just launched its first aircraft carrier to lead its navy ever farther out in the Western Pacific. But according to Shambaugh, all the government's efforts along these lines have yielded precious little in the way of real power, as understood by people like Joe Nye -- that is, influence exerted to make actor A do thing X. 

On the face of it, Shambaugh's conclusions are not unwarranted. China remains a "lonely power" with few genuine friends in the world. Increasing assertiveness in the East and South China Seas has helped roll back diplomatic gains made in its neighborhood since the Asian financial crisis, and even in African and Latin American countries where Chinese investment dollars (untrammeled by governance guarantees) had gained fast new friends, the picture is becoming less rosy. 

Chinese View Of Islands Conflict: “Make It Quick”

By Kirk Spitzer
Feb. 20, 2013

An island in the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu group in the East China Sea. 

TOKYO – China’s airwaves and blogosphere are full of armchair generals predicting swift and righteous victory over Japan if fighting breaks out in the East China Sea. Overheated nonsense, mostly. Everybody thinks their side will win quick and easy before a war starts, but it rarely works out that way. 

But at least one senior commander offers a view that – while not necessarily right or wrong – sheds light on how the People’s Liberation Army might view a potential conflict, and what it thinks of Japan’s armed forces. 

“The battle to take over the Diaoyu Islands would not be a conventional operation. For either party involved in the war, it would be very difficult to employ their full military capabilities, because there would be no time for them to fully unfold in the fight. The real fight would be very short. It is very possible the war would end in a couple of days or even in a few hours,” said PLA Navy Rear Admiral Yin Zhou, a former director of the Navy Institute of Strategic Studies, in a recent primetime special on Beijing TV. 

Japan and China have been squabbling over a group of tiny, uninhabited islands that the former calls Senkaku, and the latter, Diaoyu. 

“The keys to winning the war are quick actions, and good planning,” says Zhou, a frequent commentator on military issues. “First, the troops that go into the battle must be well-trained, elite troops. Second, the troops must have precision strike capabilities. Once surface targets or air targets are chosen, the troops must be able to hit those targets immediately and precisely. Good planning also refers to accurately grasping the enemy’s situation, especially its operational (troop and ship) dispositions. We have to be very clear which disposition is the key and then plan our operations accordingly.” 

How to prevent a China-Japan clash

By Mark Valencia, Special to CNN
February 20th, 2013 

Editor’s note: Mark Valencia is a Hawaii-based maritime analyst and political commentator and author of ‘The Proliferation Security Initiative: Making waves in Asia.’ The views expressed are his own. 

Enough already! Nasty rhetoric is one thing. But confrontation between warships, including the locking on of fire control radar, is downright dangerous. The implications of an outbreak of military hostilities between China and Japan are too horrific to contemplate, and clearly this level of tension and instability is unacceptable – not only for the parties directly concerned, but for their neighbors and extra-regional partners. 

What is needed are some guidelines or an agreed declaration of expected behavior in disputed areas that could avert such confrontations. More specifically, China and Japan need to forge at least a rudimentary “incidents at sea agreement” – and fast! 

So what is an incidents at sea agreement (INCSEA) and why would it work? In the late 1960s, there were several incidents between the U.S. and Soviet navies, including planes of the two nations passing particularly close to one another or ships and aircraft making threatening movements – very similar to what has been happening in the East China Sea between China and Japan. 

No, Greenland Does Not Belong to China

February 20, 2013

Greenland may well develop into a large exporter of uranium. In the south of the island, rare earth deposits are among the largest in the world. Huge reserves of oil and gas are hidden off shore. 

And yes, London Mining, a British mining company, and the Greenland self-government authority are luring the Chinese to invest $2 billion in an iron-ore mine close to the Greenland ice sheet some 175 kilometers north of Nuuk, the capital. 

But let us stay cool as we discuss these prospects. Farfetched speculation is currently emanating from think-tanks and commentators on how Chinese military bases and Greenland’s rapid independence from Denmark are likely offshoots of these industrial projects. 

Such speculation is less than helpful. Greenland and its population of 57,000 are preparing for difficult transitions and a potential influx of foreign workers, but it is not the end of the world. Chinese investment may provide state-run Chinese companies with political leverage on the small and economically weak Selfrule Authority, but decision-makers in Nuuk are aware of these risks. They are weighing the pros and cons of Chinese investments, just like other governments. 

Greenland’s population may be small, but Greenland is a democracy and remains firmly within the Kingdom of Denmark and the security sphere of NATO and the United States. 

The confusion for many observers probably stems from a misreading of Greenland’s relation to Denmark and the Arctic conundrum. Eight states have territory in the Arctic, where newly accessible riches abound. Inuits, Indians, Sami and the peoples of northern Russia all have a say, while a host of non-Arctic states, including China, Singapore and India, also crave influence. China now claims to be a “near-Arctic” state with interests in new Arctic shipping routes, oil, minerals and climate change. 

No Farmer Left Behind in China

By Eve Cary 
February 21, 2013 

China has a serious income distribution problem. In January, China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that China’s Gini Coefficient (a common measure of income distribution, in which 0 is completely equal, and 1 means all income belongs to one person) for 2012 was 0.474, exceeding the UN’s warning figure of 0.4, above which social unrest is considered a danger. This may be a conservative estimate: as Bloomberg reported, a survey by the Survey and Research Center for China Household Finance (set up by the Finance Research Institute of the People’s Bank of China and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics) put the number in 2010 as 0.61. In comparison, the United States’ Gini Coefficient for 2011 is estimated to be 0.477. 

There are a number of factors that cause and exacerbate the income gap. Land grabs by local governments, who purchase land from farmers for pennies and resell the land at a massive profit to developers, are a key facet of China’s income gap. Farmers are left without a source of income, no assets, and are unable to receive social benefits as they are not registered as urban residents. According to the Wall Street Journal, a 2011 survey by Landesa found that farmers receive on average just 2 percent of their land’s market value, and the Chinese Academy of Social Science believes that there are currently 40 to 50 million landless farmers. Rural pensions are also lacking: according to Caixin, as of 2010, just 34.5 percent of the rural population was covered by state-sponsored pension schemes, and received an average 12,000 yuan a year, compared to 87 percent of urban residents who received 33,000 yuan a year. The hukou system separates residents into urban and rural, and restricts access for rural Chinese to education, medical and welfare benefits. 

The Evolving Indo-Myanmar Defence Relationship: an Analytical Perspective

By Brig (retd) Vinod Anand (Senior Fellow, VIF)
11th February 2013

It was only in early 1990’s that India realized that it was fast loosing strategic ground to China due to its lack of engagement with Myanmar. Not only security and stability in the border regions was crucial to India from internal security point of view but also constructive engagement with Myanmar and connectivity through it was very important for India to realize its ‘Look East Policy’ unveiled in early 1990s. 

The military to military relations between the India and Myanmar gained traction with the goodwill visit of the then Chief of Army Staff, General B.C.Joshi to Myanmar (May 1994). Supply of some military hardware followed. Momentum to the defence relationship was further imparted when in January 2000 when a military delegation led by the then Indian Army Chief, Gen. VP Malik visited Myanmar and met Myanmar’s senior military elite to forge a military to military relationship which over the years has proved very fruitful. Since 2000, after the return visit of Gen. Maung Aye to India, bilateral annual border meetings between the two armies have been taking place regularly. India has also supplied a range of military hardware since then. 

The Indian Prime Minster during his visit to Myanmar in April 2012 had also stressed on the need for maritime security cooperation and observed that both India and Myanmar need to “expand our security cooperation that is vital not only to maintain peace along our land borders but also to protect maritime trade which we hope will open up through the sea route between Kolkata and Sittwe.” In February, 2012 Myanmar Navy had taken part in joint naval exercises conducted by India with the participation of 14 nations’ navies (Milan series of naval exercises). 

The recent visit of Mr. Antony to Myanmar (20-21 January, 2013) was a continuation of trend that has marked the growing defence cooperation between the two countries. After a degree of democratic reforms that were ushered in 2010, many military dignitaries from both sides have exchanged visits to enhance military to military cooperation and address mutual border security threats and challenges. In fact, in last two years or so the three Indian services chiefs have visited Myanmar to forge a closer defence relationship with Myanmar. This time the Defence Minster was accompanied by Army Commander of Kolkatta based Eastern Command and Vice Chief of Indian Navy which highlighted the fact that India was keen to further address its concerns regarding land and maritime security concerns in coordination with Myanmar armed forces. 

It is important for India to build up capacities of the Myanmar’s armed forces especially in relation to developing its prowess in fighting the insurgents. Since the year 2000 there have been off and on coordinated operations along the borders to flush out the insurgents. The insurgents take advantage of the difficult terrain along the borders and lack of adequate controls along the borders to carry out attacks and then cross over to Myanmar. 

Myanmar's democratic transition: Doomed to stall

By Dr Kristine Eck, 
12 Feb 2013

The constitution must be amended to give civilians "full control of the legislature and the military" in Myanmar.

Myanmar's transition to democracy has been widely lauded. In a visit to Yangon last November, US President Barack Obama publicly praised President Thein Sein's reform agenda, and most recently, donor countries agreed to cancel over $6bn of debt. But has the international community had the wool pulled over its eyes?Certainly, Myanmar has made progress on some dimensions of democracy. Restrictions on participation in politics have eased, as was witnessed during last April's Parliamentary by-elections which saw opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi gain a place in the legislature. 

Civil liberties have also been strengthened, with greater media freedom and fewer restrictions on the right to assemble. Many political prisoners have been released (though many still remain behind bars) and some exiled dissidents have been granted permission to return home without the fear of persecution. 

Certainly, there is a great deal to be done before Myanmar reaches the level of a full liberal democracy on these dimensions, but the vast improvements cannot be denied.

I witnessed these changes in Yangon last year and was shocked at the difference in atmosphere since I last visited. People spoke freely of their political views, wore Aung San Suu Kyi t-shirts and held public political gatherings, activities which they would never have dreamt of doing only a few years ago. 

But on other critical elements of democracy, like the recruitment of the President or ensuring civilian control over the military, Myanmar has made no progress. This is because of an institutional Catch-22: to make these changes necessitates amending the constitution, which requires over 75 percent of the votes in Parliament (called the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw). 

Because a constitutionally-mandated quota of non-elected military representatives composes 25 percent of the Parliament, any change to the constitution requires the approval of the military representatives. This means that the constitution cannot be changed without the military's approval, virtually ensuring that the military will retain its iron grip over the political system. 

War, à la Française

February 19, 2013

'Yeah, you Americans, you have all the fancy equipment. But we French, we figure it out every time—we know how to get by.'

Somewhere between Douentza and Gao, Mali 

The French say we're stopping for lunch. But after 90 minutes on the side of the road in North Mali's badlands, it's clear that even the French army doesn't need this long to eat, smoke and digest. 

Turns out one of their Nexter/Renault infantry-fighting vehicles has broken down. The 70-odd trucks and IFVs in our convoy now line the savanna while a mechanic tends to the breakdown. The soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Regiment munch on canned goat's cheese, rabbit terrine, nougat and black chocolate. French logistical gear may not be ideal, but their rations are second to none. Welcome to war, à la Française. 

The soldiers joke privately about run-down equipment and not enough of it. Even the car trouble, though, prompts a sideways pride. "Yeah, you Americans, you have all the fancy equipment," one young corporal says, leaning against his Renault six-wheeler with a cigarette and a smirk. "But we French, we figure it out every time—we know how to get by." 

Officially, they're doing just fine. Captain Benoit, the 30-year-old deputy commander of our convoy, issues a short shrug when I ask if more loaner U.S. planes couldn't be easing the work of these crawling convoys across the Sahel. "Any country that wants to help is welcome," he says. 

Per French military protocol, Capt. Benoit gives only his first name. The French take their operational security as seriously as their food. Asked what his unit will be doing in Gao, Capt. Benoit replies: "I think we'll be going to find some rebels somewhere, I'm not sure." That was Saturday. The following day, the 92nd took Bourem, 80 kilometers from Gao and a suspected hotbed of al Qaeda and other jihadists riddling North Mali. 

The Signal and the Noise

FEBRUARY 20, 2013 

Why subtlety and national security don't mix. 

Before Congress took a well-earned nine day recess, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing to consider the nominations of two generals to lead Central Command and Africa Command. Senator Lindsey Graham asked the Central Command nominee, General Lloyd Austin: "If...we pick a [troop] number in Afghanistan that makes it a high likelihood of failure, that would be sending the wrong signals, do you agree, to the Iranians?" Austin replied: "I would, sir. I would agree with that." 

Later, Gen. Austin observed of cutting forces from the Middle East: "Once you reduce the presence in the region, you could very well signal the wrong things to our adversaries." Sen. Kelly Ayotte echoed his observation, claiming that President Obama's plan to withdraw 34,000 thousand U.S. troops from Afghanistan within one year "leaves us dangerously low on military personnel...it's going to send a clear signal that America's commitment to Afghanistan is going wobbly." Similarly, during a separate House Armed Services Committee hearing, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter ominously warned of the possibility of sequestration: "Perhaps most important, the world is watching. Our friends and allies are watching, potential foes -- all over the world." 

These routine and unchallenged assertions highlight what is perhaps the most widely agreed-upon conventional wisdom in U.S. foreign and national security policymaking: the inherent power of signaling. This psychological capability rests on two core assumptions: All relevant international audiences can or will accurately interpret the signals conveyed, and upon correctly comprehending this signal, these audiences will act as intended by U.S. policymakers. Many policymakers and pundits fundamentally believe that the Pentagon is an omni-directional radar that uniformly transmits signals via presidential declarations, defense spending levels, visits with defense ministers, or troop deployments to receptive antennas. A bit of digging, however, exposes cracks in the premises underlying signaling theories. 

Sixty years of IT in India

February 20, 2013 

PTI The supercomputer "SAGA-220", built by the Satish Dhawan Supercomputing Facility located at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. 

By the 1980s, software development by various companies began in right earnest 

I was struck by a recent headline that appeared in the business pages of newspapers, stating that the IT-related exports from India are expected to touch US $ 87 billion in 2014. In these days when colossal figures related to scams hit the headlines, this figure, coming out of hard, honest work, largely by “Generation X” is heartwarming. And to put this figure in historical perspective, software and services exports fetched us US $ 2 billion in 1998 and 50 billion in 2010. IT contributes about 7 per cent of India’s gross domestic product and employs about 2.4 million software professionals. 

All this in a matter of less than 60 years! The year 2014 marks the start of the Diamond Jubilee of the entry of computers into India. Professor V. Rajaraman, whom all of us consider as the Bhishma Pitamaha of computer education in India, summarizes the story of IT in his recent monograph “History of computing in India – 1955- 2010”. It traces the milestones of the growth of IT in India from day one, 1955, when the first UK-made digital computer named HEC-2M was set up at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Calcutta by Drs Mohi Mukherjee and Amesh Roy. Rajaraman points out that this machine had but a memory of 1024 (24 bit words) and arrived at the ISI without any manuals. Mukherjee and Roy had to write them and a dozen people used them. 

But a truly Indian-made computer was made by Professor R. Narasimhan at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) Bombay, when he put together a pilot computer to design logic circuits in 1956. This was later expanded to produce the TIFR automatic calculator or TIFRAC, inaugurated (and christened) by Jawaharlal Nehru. Professor P.V.S. Rao, who was part of the TIFRAC team describes the story in exciting detail in the scholarly book “Homi Bhabha and the Computer Revolution” edited by Professors R. Shyamasundar and M.A. Pai (Oxford, 201; hereafter called the S + P book) dedicated to R. Narasimhan, whom they call the doyen of Indian computer science. Soon after, ISI combined with Jadavpur University and produced another home made, second generation transistor-based computer named ISIJU. 

India’s cyberwar slumber

Feb 20 2013

India needs to wake up to the possibilities of cyberwar, especially with a neighbour such as China

In India, the apathy towards strengthening online security stems from the fact that the maximum attacks we have seen are defacing of sites or largely denial of services (DoS) attacks on websites. 

Cyberwars need to be taken seriously in a world ruled in equal measure by geopolitics and smart mobile devices that communicate with the help of the cloud.
On Tuesday, an American computer security firm Mandiant released a report alleging that advanced persistent threat (APT) groups operate in China. It added that these groups are waging a long-running and extensive cyber espionage campaign, especially in the US, with the help of direct government support. The study noted that one such group, christened APT1, targeted industries abroad that China has identified as strategic for its growth—including four of the seven strategic emerging industries that China identified in its 12th Five Year Plan. 

While China expectedly rubbished the report, cyberwar has been in existence for almost a decade in some form or the other. But it was the havoc that the Stuxnet virus wreaked in September 2010 that made countries realize its potential threat. Security firm Symantec’s September 2010 data revealed there were around 100,000 infected hosts, of which nearly 59% infections were in Iran and around 10% in India. 

The Stuxnet virus was injected via a universal serial bus (USB) stick and used a security breach in certain Microsoft Windows operating systems to breach a Siemens control systems called supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) that industries use for water management, electric power, traffic signals, mass transit, environmental control and in manufacturing (for automation). 

Chinese Hackers Are Getting Dangerously Good at English

FEBRUARY 20, 2013 

And they're coming to an inbox near you. 

The New York Times's announcement in January that Chinese hackers had compromised its computers, stolen employee passwords, and wormed around its network for four months made for a chilling read to those of us concerned about press safety and digital security. But the paper's latest installment, based on a report released by computer security firm Mandiant, lays out even more spectacular and serious possibilities that China's military has stolen information from companies "involved in the critical infrastructure of the United States -- its electrical power grid, gas lines and waterworks." 

An alarmed American public may wonder whether it's time to push the panic button, but in many respects, this is old news to those in the digital security industry. Chinese hackers have been tracked and traced before. Experts with a dismal view assume everything's hacked, until proven otherwise. 

"There's a saying in the security industry," says Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet advocacy group. "Everybody is ‘owned' all the time. These attacks are constant." 

Mandiant's report is the result of years spent tracking a Shanghai-based hacking team dubbed the "Comment Crew," also known as APT1. The company's investigators even managed to pinpoint the hackers' workspace: a Shanghai building owned by Unit 61398 of the People's Liberation Army. Mandiant says it has observed some 140 attacks by Comment Crew since 2006. 

The Cool War

FEBRUARY 20, 2013 

Cold War technology made war unthinkable. Cool War technology makes it irresistible. 

We are now in the midst of what could be called the Cool War. This successor to the Cold War shares the trait that it does not involve hot conflict on the battlefield, but is different in the nature and expectations surrounding the sub-rosa thrusts and parries by which it is conducted. 

This new war is "cool" rather than "cold" for two reasons. On the one hand, it is a little warmer than cold because it seems likely to involve almost constant offensive measures that, while falling short of actual warfare, regularly seek to damage or weaken rivals or gain an edge through violations of sovereignty and penetration of defenses. And on the other, it takes on the other definition of "cool," in that it involves the latest cutting-edge technologies in ways that are changing the paradigm of conflict to a much greater degree than any of those employed during the Cold War -- which was, after all, about old-fashioned geopolitical jockeying for advantage in anticipation of potential old-school total warfare. 

The Cool War is largely different not only because of the participants or the nature of the conflict, but also because it can be conducted indefinitely -- permanently, even -- without triggering a shooting war. At least that is the theory. 

The latest sign that this war is on-going is Tuesday's New York Times story focusing on the revelations produced by a U.S. cyber-security firm called Mandiant regarding China's People Liberation Army Unit 61398, a Shanghai-based operation that has allegedly been conducting "an overwhelming percentage" of recent attacks on U.S. companies and government agencies, according to the Times account. 

Expert: US in cyberwar arms race with China, Russia

Rick Wilking / Reuters file

First Lt Michael Newman examines a server rack that is isolated from the Internet at the Air Force Space Command Network Operations & Security Center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., in July 2010. 

By Robert Windrem, Senior Investigative Producer, NBC News

The United States is locked in a tight race with China and Russia to build destructive cyberweapons capable of seriously damaging other nations’ critical infrastructure, according to a leading expert on hostilities waged via the Internet. 

Scott Borg, CEO of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, a nonprofit institute that advises the U.S. government and businesses on cybersecurity, said all three nations have built arsenals of sophisticated computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other tools that place them atop the rest of the world in the ability to inflict serious damage on one another, or lesser powers. 

Ranked just below the Big Three, he said, are four U.S. allies: Great Britain, Germany, Israel and perhaps Taiwan. 

But in testament to the uncertain risk/reward ratio in cyberwarfare, Iran has used attacks on its nuclear program to bolster its offensive capabilities and is now developing its own "cyberarmy," Borg said. 

Scott Borg says the U.S. possesses a 'formidable capability' to wage cyberwar.

Borg offered his assessment of the current state of cyberwar capabilities Tuesday in the wake of a report by the American computer security company Mandiant linking hacking attacks and cyber espionage against the U.S. to a sophisticated Chinese group known as “Peoples Liberation Army Unit 61398. 

In today’s brave new interconnected world, hackers who can defeat security defenses are capable of disrupting an array of critical services, including delivery of water, electricity and heat, or bringing transportation to a grinding halt. U.S. senators last year received a closed-door briefing at which experts demonstrated how a power company employee could take down the New York City electrical grid by clicking on a single email attachment, the New York Times reported.

U.S. officials rarely discuss offensive capability when discussing cyberwar, though several privately told NBC News recently that the U.S. could "shut down" the electrical grid of a smaller nation -- Iran, for example – if it chose to do so. 

Borg echoed that assessment, saying the U.S. cyberwarriors, who work within the National Security Agency, are “very good across the board. … There is a formidable capability.” 

China's cyberwar: Intrusions are the new normal (FAQ)

February 19, 2013

Security firm Mandiant delivers compelling evidence that the Chinese military is behind a torrent of intrusions targeting the networks of U.S.-based companies. Here's what happens next.

The Shanghai offices of People's Liberation Army Unit 61398, the apparent home of a Chinese hacking group that has bedeviled U.S. companies for seven years.(Credit: Reuters via BBC) 

The most remarkable aspect of a new and deeply troubling report about network intrusions originating in China is how commonplace they've become. They're no longer a rare occurrence: A single Shanghai-based hacking organization has reportedly compromised at least 141 companies across 20 industries. 

Those figures come from a new report from security firm Mandiant, which revealed the global accomplishments of a group of professional hackers dubbed APT1. Mandiant has assembled convincing evidence that APT1 is actually part of People's Liberation Army Unit 61398, an organization so far uninterested in defacing or deleting data from U.S.-based companies -- but keenly interested in stealing it. 

APT1 may not have a fixed street address, but PLA Unit 61398 does. It's located in a 12-story office building along Datong Road in Shanghai that's not exactly open to public inspection: Authorities briefly detained a BBC reporter who tried to investigate earlier today. 

To try to put APT1's activities -- and the new normal of state-backed intruders trying to gain access to major companies and news organizations -- in perspective, CNET has assembled the following list of frequently asked questions. 

Q: What evidence links APT1 and the Chinese military? 

It's public record that PLA Unit 61398 is part of the PLA's General Staff Department's third department (second bureau). Unit 61398 is, according to (PDF) the Project 2049 Institute, a think tank with close ties to U.S. conservatives, China's "premier entity targeting the United States and Canada, most likely focusing on political, economic, and military-related intelligence." That would give it partly same role that the National Security Agency serves for the United States. 

One if By Land, Two if By Sea, 10101101 if By Cyberspace

Updated: February 20, 2013

To discourage cyberespionage, the United States could threaten to limit the number of visas it gives to Chinese nationals, former CIA chief Michael Hayden believes. (AP/Luis M. Alvarez) 

Until very recently, America’s battles have all been waged somewhere in physical space—on land, in the air, on water, or in outer space. Many of these domains come along with inherent features that make life harder or easier in battle. History tells us, for example, that defenders generally have an easier time on mountains or hills with a view. Underwater, sound waves travel easily, so countries with the quietest submarines are more effective. And, in space, gravity sets boundaries on where you can go and when. To overcome these obstacles takes human ingenuity, but also a healthy respect for these environmental limits. 

Americans are quickly learning now about a fifth domain: cyberspace. In some ways, this battlefield is the same as the others. It’s an arena where countries are competing with one another for political or economic advantage. But it’s also different in some fundamental ways. And how the world decides to use this space will go a long way toward determining how disruptive—or destructive—war in this domain will become. Michael Hayden, the former CIA director under President George W. Bush, believes the United States has a lead role to play in setting up man-made institutions to shape state behavior. 

Hayden told an audience at George Washington University on Tuesday that unlike air, sea, or land, cyberspace “is almost defenseless. There are no natural barriers up here in this domain.” 

There are a few ways to solve this problem. One is to make some cyberactivities prohibitively costly. The United States could, for instance, link cyberespionage attempts such as the kind China has allegedly committed with other issues in the U.S.-China relationship. As a start, lawmakers such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have complained directly to Chinese officials. But because Beijing doesn’t officially acknowledge its hacking activities, the United States might need to become more aggressive. Threatening to restrict the number of visas Washington gives out to Chinese nationals could be one way to deter further hacking, Hayden said.