3 September 2013

*** Nuclear Weapon Stockpiles: Past and Present

By Zachary Keck
September 2, 2013

Two decades after the end of the Cold War there are still some 17,000 intact nuclear warheads around the world, according to a study published in the new issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

The study, which was done by the Federation of American Scientists’ Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, estimates that the nine nuclear weapons states—the U.S., Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea— have approximately 10,000 nuclear warheads remaining in their stockpiles. In addition, the U.S. and Russia are estimated to have around 7,000 nuclear warheads still intact but awaiting dismantlement.

According to the article, Washington and Moscow’s nuclear arsenals still account for over 90 percent of the global total.

More troubling, nearly half (4,400) of the 10,000 nuclear warheads in existing military stockpiles are deployed on missiles or at bases with operational launchers present, the authors estimate. In fact, Kristensen and Norris believe that the U.S. and Russia maintain 1,800 nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles that are kept at high alert, meaning that they can be launched 5 to 15 minutes after the order is given.

Even still, global nuclear stockpiles have dropped considerably since peaking in 1986 when there were almost 64,500 nuclear warheads in existence. Most of the reductions in global nuclear stockpiles can be attributed to the U.S. and Russia, although the UK and France have also eliminated some of their stockpiles.

According to Kristensen and Norris, since the dawn of the nuclear age 125,000 nuclear warheads have been built, 97 percent of them by the U.S. and Russia/Soviet Union. The other seven nuclear states—presumably including South Africa’s briefly held arsenal—account for the remaining three percent.

The U.S. has historically built about 66,500 warheads, or 53 percent of the global total. 59,000 of these have been disassembled since. Russia and its predecessor, the Soviet Union, have produced some 55,000 nuclear warheads since first exploding a nuclear device in 1949. Of these, 8,500 remain intact although 4,000 of them have been retired and are awaiting dismantlement.

While the UK and France are also reducing their much smaller arsenals, the rest of the nuclear weapon states are believed to be expanding their stockpiles. Indeed, the authors estimate that China has now surpassed the UK in holding the fourth largest nuclear stockpile in the world, and could surpass France as the third largest nuclear power by the end of the decade. The authors also expect both India and Pakistan to surpass the UK by the middle of the next decade.

Currently, the UK has 225 nuclear warheads, all of which would have to be delivered using its Trident-II submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which are deployed on its Vanguard-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). It is currently contemplating building a new class of SSBNs, although there is much debate about the wisdom of this in the U.K. at the moment.

London plans to reduce its arsenal to 180 by the mid-2020s, and already the English government claims that only 160 of its nuclear warheads are operationally ready, with one SSBN on patrol at all times carrying at least 48 nuclear warheads on board.

France has about 300 nuclear warheads and plans to reduce this slightly over the coming years. Its delivery systems are a variant of its M51 SLBM, as well as the SMP-A (Air-Sol Moyenne Portee-A) cruise missile, which it launches from its Mirage 2000N and Rafale fighter-bombers.

'You either normalise with China or normalise with Pakistan. It's easier to normalise with Pakistan. In the long run, competition will be with China' ***

Tue Sep 03 2013

In this Walk the Talk on NDTV 24X7, Stephen P Cohen speaks to The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta about the changing US relationship with India and Pakistan, and why India can play a crucial role in nudging Pakistan towards 'normalisation'.

Hello and welcome to Walk the Talk. We are at New Delhi's India International Centre and my guest is Professor Stephen Cohen, a guru of gurus, but more importantly a great student of the subcontinent.

Really appreciate being on your programme, I have watched it many times.

Thirty years of knowing each other and we've never done an interview. So we better get it right.

It's also a coincidence that it's the 50th year that I first came to India. In fact 50 years ago we stayed at the India International Centre.

Your children were very young then.

I had one baby here on the first trip and one was born here, so therefore he is an Indian citizen. My daughter is a professor, studied autism in India, and the son is a professor of history of Telugu. So we have a lot of India connection.

What has changed in the subcontinent and what hasn't in 50 years?

When I came here in 1963, we drove from Delhi to Patna, just to see what the country looked like. You couldn't do that now.

But what has changed is the attitude towards the United States, and there has been a roller-coaster of attitudes... When I came here right after the war with China, US-Indian relations were very close. The 1965 war took place and we were disillusioned, India was disillusioned. We broke apart, and for a long time, India turned towards the Soviet Union for weapons. When the Soviet Union collapsed, clearly that affected Indian strategy and that's one of the arguments I make in the book. The collapse of the Soviet empire sort of transformed India's relations with the United States. Also the economic reasons...

That's the new book?

Yes, the new book puts it in the larger context. The new book really is based on 50 years of research. My first books looked at Pakistan as well as India. I was originally interested in the role of the military in these two countries—why India went in one direction and Pakistan in the other. So, one book was on the Indian Army and the other on Pakistani army. The new book is about India-Pakistan relations as such and the transformation that may happen in the future. So it looks ahead 35 years, make it 100 years of conflict between India and Pakistan.

Tell us about the change in attitudes. In India, Pakistan, Washington, and the change in attitudes vis-a-vis each other. There are many variables.

In the case of Pakistan, we always believed that Pakistanis were a true ally. And they would tell us that. The Pakistani argument was that the Americans betrayed Pakistan many, many times. There was some truth in that but it was clearly an exaggerated story. I think the war in Afghanistan, the American soldiers in Afghanistan, has put paid to that argument.

I regularly teach American officers in various summer schools, and seven years ago they started telling me, 'Professor, I've served in Afghanistan for a year and the people who were shooting at me were coming from Pakistan. They are our ally. Why are they doing this?' I would tell them that Pakistan is playing a double game. And that began a slow shift in American opinion about Pakistan. Ironically some Republicans are more anti-Pakistani than the Democrats. It used to be the other way around.

Until about 10 years ago...

Yes. We needed Pakistan for the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, that revived the relationship. I was in the State Department and I could see the process going on, and we wanted to believe what the Pakistanis told us because it was convenient.

When Pakistanis negotiated with America...

Their strategy is — it's not unique, but it's notable — they tell us what we want to hear, and they do what they want to do. And I found that during the (Ronald) Reagan administration, because Pakistanis would tell me what I wanted to hear, and since I knew Pakistan pretty well... Essentially what would happen was that we lied to the world about their nuclear programme and they lied to the world about our involvement in Afghanistan.

The wider vision **

Sep 02 2013

Why India must reach out to the subcontinent's constituency of peace at all times

Two principles have defined Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's policy towards Pakistan and, indeed, the entire Indian subcontinent. First, it is in India's interest to constantly seek normalisation of relations with neighbours, and peace and stability in the neighbourhood, even in the face of grave provocations. Second, there is a growing constituency for peace and stability across the subcontinent and India must strengthen these forces rather than allow them to remain isolated and weak.

To proceed to engage Pakistan at the highest level on the basis of these two principles does not constitute a "policy of appeasement", as some retired diplomats, service and intelligence chiefs have recently claimed. Rather, such engagement must be viewed as part of a wider agenda of restoring to the Indian subcontinent the primacy it once had in this part of the world as an engine of economic development and political stability.

Few disagree with the view that the 21st century will witness the return of "Asia" to the centrestage of global economic activity. In the past half a century, the world has witnessed the rise of East Asia, then Southeast Asia, followed by China and then India. This "arc of prosperity", so to speak, has the potential to extend west to the Gulf and Central Asia. Stabilising Afghanistan and Pakistan would be a necessary precondition.

It is inconceivable that the rise of Asia could happen without the rise of the Indian subcontinent. For too long have many of us in India imagined a future in which the country would rise, leaving the rest of the subcontinent behind. This is neither possible nor warranted. That is the essential departure Manmohan Singh has sought to make in Indian strategic thinking. His Pakistan policy, as indeed his Bangladesh policy, and his Sri Lankan policy — his subcontinental policy to wit — have been informed by this wider perspective.

To hold this historic shift, this shift in the tectonic plates of global development, hostage to short-sighted stratagems would only play into the hands of India's enemies. Those who seek to keep India back and down would continue to destabilise the subcontinent, hoping the region would remain embroiled in pointless conflict and confrontation.

There are many in China and Pakistan who are playing this very game. In India too, the cacophony of "an eye for an eye" in the media and political discourse will only play into the hands of those who seek to leave us all blind.

Thankfully, there are many in both countries, and indeed around the sub-continent and the world, who want India to stabilise, grow and become the regional engine of growth. As one senior Sri Lankan diplomat put it to me, "Why should Sri Lanka want to ally with China and hurt India when India is next door to us and India's growth is in our interest, as long as India remains open to us?" That caveat is key.

India as a growing, open economy is what her neighbours, including Pakistan, seek and would benefit from. China's role in the region has been that of "exporter to the world" but "importer to Asia". India is still a smaller trader but it can become an "importer in the subcontinent" and an exporter to the world. Such ideas might sound bizarre at a time when India's exports are crashing, imports are rising and a huge current account deficit stares the economy in the face. But India will ride this storm out and return to its medium-term growth path of around 8 per cent per annum over the next several decades.

The Indian elite must recognise the fact that, as the country grows, it is destined to become once again the "crossroads of Asia", drawing the entire subcontinent into the new dynamics of Asian growth, from Central Asia and the Persian Gulf to Southeast Asia. Working towards peace and stability within this broad swathe, along with the Indian Ocean that links the region, is not just in India's interest but also its destiny. No other power has either the stake or the capability to discharge this historic role.

FDI in Defence: Dispelling the Myths

Date : 02 Sep , 2013

India should adopt a flexible FDI policy to import much needed technologies which cannot be mastered through indigenous efforts in the acceptable time frame. Unfortunately, every time the issue of increasing FDI limit comes up, the opponents resort to their time-tested subterfuge of raising the bogey of security concerns and threat to indigenous industry, thereby hiding their selfish reasons. In any case, India can incorporate necessary security clauses in the initial license to ensure that an unscrupulous entrepreneur does not play truant in crisis situations. India should reserve the right to take over a facility if required in an operational emergency.

Most prospective foreign investors consider the Indian FDI policy in the defence industry to be dissuasive in intent and content…

India’s policy on Foreign Defence Investment (FDI) in defence industry is symptomatic of bureaucratic obduracy and perverse intransigence. Unwillingness to learn from experience has been the bane of Indian governance. Persistence with failed policy initiatives can never yield results. In May 2001, the defence industry was thrown open to the private sector. The Government permitted 100 per cent equity with a maximum of 26 per cent FDI component, both subject to licensing. Unattractiveness of the policy became evident in a short span of time. By 2004, Defence Minister George Fernandes was forced to admit in the Lok Sabha that India had received no FDI proposal till then.

Observing the lack of enthusiasm amongst the prospective entrepreneurs at Aero India 2005, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee considered it necessary to exhort interested foreign companies to invest in the Indian defence industry. As per the reports appearing in the press, India has received less than US$5 million of FDI inflow in defence manufacturing during the last decade. Most prospective foreign investors consider the Indian FDI policy in the defence industry to be dissuasive in intent and content.

In 2010, the Commerce Ministry circulated a note recommending the raising of FDI cap to 74 per cent to encourage ‘established players in the defence industry to set up manufacturing facilities and integration of systems in India’. It was vehemently opposed by the interested parties, with Ministry of Defence (MoD) insisting that the 26 per cent FDI limit should be retained. In May 2013, modifying his earlier proposal, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma suggested that the upper cap be raised to 49 per cent as a first step. It has also been shot down by the MoD. However, in a deft move, the MoD has suggested that higher FDI may be considered for modern and state-of-the-art technology by the Cabinet Committee on Security on a case to case basis.

Time Critical Targeting: UAVs

Date : 31 Aug , 2013

Various Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Pictured are (front to back, left to right) RQ-11A Raven, Evolution, Dragon Eye, NASA FLIC, Arcturus T-15, Skylark, Tern, RQ-2B Pioneer, and Neptune.

The obvious advantage of stand-alone UAVs for TCT is the shortened sensor-to-shooter timeline since no dissemination of information is required from sensor to shooter. In optimum conditions, it is foreseeable that TCT could be achieved in single digit minutes utilising UAVs. However, this would require that the Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC) allow decentralised execution authority at the AOC level.

After achieving repeated success in targeting key terrorist leaders in Afghanistan, Iraq and in the Middle East, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have come in to the limelight. This was possible after UAVs became a part of an extremely complex air operation, the bedrock of which was seamless real-time integration of all intelligence agencies. The UAVs were only the front end. The Predator UAV has been extensively employed in a TCT role. Therefore, let us briefly look at the Predator UAV to understand the concept of TCT.

Numerous recent technological advances show great promise for a TCT mission.

The most widely used tactical UAV is the RQ-1 Predator. Designed to provide constant Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance (ISR) coverage of the area of operations, it was operated as a Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC) owned theatre asset. The sensor suite on the Predator includes an Electro Optical/Infra Red (EO/IR) camera, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and a laser designator. The laser designator is employed in conjunction with the Hellfire-C missile, which gives the Predator the capability to perform time-critical targeting. Video captured by the Predator is data-linked to a Ground Control Station (GCS) where it is reviewed and disseminated through the Joint Broadcast System. The Predator has a maximum endurance in excess of 30 hours and can communicate via line-of-sight data-link. However, when loaded with sensors and armament including Hellfire missiles, its operational endurance is about six to eight hours. Its improved version, now called the Reaper, also carries Hellfire missiles or 12 LASER-guided 500 lb bombs or four 500 lb GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs). Its ceiling of 50,000 feet1 is double that of the Predator’s.

Advantages of UAVs in TCT

The obvious advantage of stand-alone UAVs for TCT is the shortened sensor-to-shooter timeline since no dissemination of information is required from sensor to shooter. In optimum conditions, it is foreseeable that TCT could be achieved in single digit minutes utilising UAVs. However, this would require that the JFACC allow decentralised execution authority at the Air Operations Centre (AOC) level.

Dimming of Brand India

Sep 02 2013, 

We have messed up the present. Can we still recover the future?

We are in the midst of a severe economic crisis. Our macroeconomic indices are weakening. The first quarter growth figure has come in at 4.4 per cent and some analysts are projecting a figure for FY 2013-14 of below 4 per cent — the Hindu rate that we all thought was a historical memory. Inflation in critical items is well above double digits — year-on-year the prices of vegetable goods have increased by 46 per cent; that of cereals by 18 per cent and proteins by 11 per cent (I quote the numbers recently published by Ashok Gulati, the chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices); the rupee is hovering close to Rs 70 to the dollar and the Sensex is gyrating, but in fall. The finance minister has pronounced a 10-point programme to narrow the fiscal deficit, balance the current account, stabilise the currency, contain inflation and bring the economy back onto the growth path. Whether he succeeds or not remains to be seen. The odds are against him. He has to contend with populist political colleagues, and the immune system of the economy has been so weakened that it seems no longer capable of countering the convulsions of the international market. But even if he does succeed, there is doubt that potential investors will bring India back onto their radar screen. Sure, "hot money" might flow back, but investments into the more stable and longer term "bricks and mortar" and services sectors will most likely remain lacklustre.

This is because the current crisis is not just about "poor economics". It is also about the loss of confidence in the government's commitment to upholding the constitutional checks and balance of governance. It is about the weakening of the pillars upon which Brand India has been built and which so positively differentiated us from other emerging economies.

As every marketer knows, there is a difference between "advertising" and "branding". Advertising is a tangible instrument for hawking a product. Branding is an intangible asset that embodies the qualities, values and experience of the company. The two are, of course, interrelated. Advertising helps build the "brand" and the brand reinforces (hopefully) sales. But they are conceptually different.

When India was growing at 8 per cent plus, it was not difficult to develop a compelling advertorial for the country. The pitch was pegged on the fundamentals of the economy — the large market, our youthful population, the reservoir of talent — and the ingredients of Brand India. Economic growth had not done away with corruption, red tape and shoddy infrastructure, but these negatives were offset by the assurance that if and when the entry hurdles were overcome, the strength of our institutions would ensure a level playing field, respect for contracts and protection against the arbitrary and discretionary exercise of power.

Today, these assurances have been dented. Investors see not only an economy on the skids, but a governance process that is opaque and unpredictable. The government may have had "good" reasons for the spate of tax charges that have been slapped on the multinationals and for unilaterally rewriting binding contracts and passing orders with retroactive effect, but the result has been to make investors nervous about the operating environment. For the first time since the onset of economic reforms, boardroom discussions are not about specific investments but about the fundamentals of the Indian polity. People are asking generic questions. What is the nature of India's democracy? How strong are the institutions of the executive, legislature and judiciary? Have these institutions got so hollowed out that there is a power vacuum? And if so, where does power reside? Investors will want satisfactory answers to these questions before they bring India back on to their investment agenda.


Manmohan Singh and Li Keqiang in New Delhi, May 20, 2013

The BCIM growth corridor proposed by Li Keqiang can boost the economy of India’s eastern and northeastern states, argues Subir Bhaumik

The sabre-rattling in the Himalaya has been replaced by a cool optimism that India and China will not waste their energies over a desolate frontier where ‘not a blade of grass grows’. The two Asian giants are close to signing the border defence cooperation agreement that lays down the framework for controlling tensions of the kind that nearly scuttled the visit of the Indian foreign minister, Salman Khurshid, to Beijing on May 9 — and the visit of the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, to India later that month. War is too important a matter to be left to generals, so it goes to the credit of Indian and Chinese diplomats (like the national security advisor, Shivshankar Menon, his counterpart in the border talks, the former foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, even India’s envoy in Beijing, S. Jaishankar) that they have pulled back bilateral relations from the brink of a fall that would have cost 2.5 billion people and the rest of Asia dear.

Those closely watching the negotiations on the China-proposed BDCA would argue that this will be one of the ‘sideshow agreements’ needed for a State visit like the one planned for the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, this year in October — the month when the Indian army was routed in the 1962 Himalayan war. Others would say that there is enough in existing treaties like the one signed in 1993 to control border tensions, and this pact was not really needed. But the fact that the two countries have worked hard to finalize a pact to control border face-offs is evidence of the high priority the two Asian giants attach to their bilateral relationship — something that cannot be allowed to wither away in smoke and gunfire on the desolate Himalayan wastes. It is also significant that the Chinese who proposed in January to ‘freeze’ building military infrastructure that would have allowed it to retain the military edge in the Himalaya have finally backed off, leaving the Indians to attempt a catch-up. Their reaction to India raising a mountain strike corps, 45,000 troops with airlift , artillery and armour, after having two mountain divisions in the recent past, has been guarded .

China has more to gain from India than in a battle over a frontier where it enjoys a decisive advantage of terrain and resources. It is not willing to fritter away the impact of Li’s India visit, when he offered the “handshake across the Himalayas” and reminded Delhi that a “close neighbour is often more useful than a distant relative”. A commentator from the influential Beijing think-tank, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, expressed the optimism recently in Global Times that India will stay “non-aligned” and not become a “vassal state of US” because it cannot risk a confrontation with China. The hint is clear when he talks of India’s “economic interests” — India has so much to gain from trade with and investments from China. That was brilliantly argued by Sunanda K. Datta-Ray in his August 18 article in The Telegraph (“Jane Eyre from China”). If the United Kingdom, in spite of being so close to US, can welcome Chinese investments with open arms to boost its sagging economy, why should India not do the same?

'Leaving Pakistan–India trade barriers up ties political progress down '

Pravakar Sahoo, Institute of Economic Growth

The recent announcement by Pakistan’s finance minister that most favoured nation (MFN) status to India will not be considered is an additional blow to India-Pakistan relations.

While improved trade relations could significantly enhance political ties between the two countries, and this announcement makes it more likely that bilateral relations will continue to languish at current low levels.

The latest figures show that India’s 2012 trade with Pakistan accounted for a mere US$2.15 billion of its total trade of US$778 billion (less than 0.3 per cent). Exports to Pakistan accounted for only 0.56 per cent of India’s exports, while imports constituted 0.11 per cent. Given the size of both countries’ economies and the complementarity of their trading baskets, the present level of trade should be higher. The denial of MFN status compounds these difficulties, and arguably neutralises the positive steps taken by both countries over the last few years.

Along with Pakistan’s denial of MFN status to India (which would give market access to Indian exporters in all products), the ad-hoc ‘positive list’ approach taken by Pakistan has contributed to low base trade by creating uncertainty among traders on both sides of the border. Though the positive list approach, which allowed for the import of 2000 items from India, was abolished in 2012 and replaced with the ‘negative list’ approach, which prohibits listed items from importation, improvement has been marginal. The negative list contains 1500 items, with 500 being untradeable items belonging to the iron, steel and automobile sectors in which India has comparative advantage. In addition there are non-tariff barriers on both sides, including: licensing and customs requirements; visa policies and restrictions on travel; high trade and transaction costs due to long waiting periods at the borders; a lack of information on tradable items; and India-Pakistan trade complia nce regulations.

India’s exports to Pakistan at the industry level have witnessed negligible and fluctuating growth due to the limitations of the positive list, even in very competitive industries such as base metals and articles, and textiles. India fares better in industries where there are more items on the positive list. For example, India is doing well in chemical products in the Pakistani market, as Pakistan added 308 more items to the positive list between 2000–09, taking the total items to 568. In recent years, India has also exported more mineral products and textiles subsequent to these products being added to the positive list. The quantity of goods moving from India to Pakistan is determined by local demand at any given point in time, and MFN status would have given stability to this demand.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s exports to India are suffering from India’s lack of tariff liberalisation. India has agreed to bring down all tariffs under the South Asia Free Trade Area, other than those on the negative/sensitive list. But India’s negative list includes some of the top 10 import items from Pakistan, such as edible fruits and nuts, some cotton textiles materials, carpets and sacks.

There have, however, been a few positive developments in recent years that have helped India-Pakistan economic relations despite the denial of MFN status. In April 2012, both countries agreed to launch a new integrated check point at the Attari-Wagha border crossing to address the issue of trade and transaction costs. Further, in September 2012, both nations concluded a visa agreement that loosens the travel restrictions across the border. India has also permitted foreign direct investment from Pakistan since August 2012 through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board to ameliorate the environment of suspicion and mistrust. But because there are barely any capital flows between the two countries worth mentioning, the initiatives taken in the last couple of years to reduce non-tariff barriers could hardly be expected to boost trade without a stable framework created around MFN status.

Arrest of Yasin Bhatkal: An Analysis

September 2, 2013

“The ghost who bombs” has been captured. Mohammad Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa @ Yasin Bhatkal @ Saharukh @ Imran, the kingpin of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) was arrested along with Asadullah Akhtar @ Haddi (accused in helping Yasin Bhatkal in carrying out terror strikes in Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad in February 2013), from the India-Nepal border on August 28, 2013 by the Bihar Police in a joint operation with the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The NIA special court had issued non-bailable warrants against these two wanted IM terrorists on 18th July, 2013. Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest is the second major breakthrough for law enforcement agencies with in a span of two weeks. Abdul Karim Tunda of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was arrested from the India-Nepal border on August 16, 2013.

Yasin Bhatkal, took over as the head on the IM after both of his brothers, Iqbal Bhatkal and Riaz Bhatkal escaped to Pakistan in 2008. He has been successful in indoctrinating Muslim youth and recruiting them in the IM and carrying out several blasts in Delhi High Court in September 2011, Mumbai in July 2011, Chinaswamy Stadium in Bangaluru in April 2010, German Bakery in February 2010, Ahmedabad in 2008 and twin blasts in Hyderabad in August 2007 amongst others.

The arrest of Bhatkal is important, and highlights the measures taken by security agencies to apprehend a number of terrorists in the last few years. This has been as a result of improved coordination among security agencies in different states. At the same time investigative agencies have been successful in identifying the linkages and modus operandi of terrorist outfits. Bhatkal’s arrest was preceded by a number of arrests of important IM terrorists by security agencies. In 2012, half a dozen important IM terrorists were arrested. They included: Kafeel Akhtar (co-conspirator of Chinaswamy stadium blast) from Darbhanga on May 7, 2012; Mohammad Kafeel Ahmad, one of the recruiters of IM on February 21, 2012 from Darbhanga, Mohammad Tariq Anjuman Hassan, another IM recruiter on February 2, 2012 from Nalanda, Bihar; Fasih Mohammad from Saudi Arabia October 22, 2012; Talha Abdali @ Israr, one of the closest aides of Yasin Bhatkal from Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh on February 5, 2012; and Naqi Ahmed Wasi, suspected to have executed Mumbai blasts, on July 13, 2007, from Mumbai. Such initiatives and arrests by the law enforcement agencies indicate the seriousness of measures to crack down on the IM.

These arrests have possibly provided important information about various aspects and links of the IM activities. For instance, it has been widely reported that enforcement agencies have claimed that the name of Fasih Mehmood, who was deported from the Saudi Arabia, first came up during the interrogation of Kafeel Ahmed. Similarly the name of Yasin Bhatkal first surfaced during the interrogation of arrested IM operative, Mohammad Akbar, Ismail Chaudhary, in 2008. In addition to these arrests, the NIA has filed a charge-sheet against five IM operatives: Mohammad Danish Ansari, Mohammad Aftab Alam, Imran Khan, Syed Maqbool and Obaid Ur Rahman on July 17, 2013. These five have been charged on grounds of hatching conspiracy to carry out terrorist attacks in India and for being members of an outlawed outfit. The NIA on September 10, 2012 had also registered a FIR against 12 IM operatives. They include: Yasin Bhatkal, Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal. Mohammad Iqbal, Mohsin Choudhary, Amir Reza Khan, Tahsin Akhtar, Shahnawaz Alam, Asadullah Akhtar, Ariz Khan, Mohammad Sajid, Mohammad Khalid and Mirza Shadab Beg.

Cooperation with foreign countries has also helped intelligence agencies to nab some of the important terrorists. Intelligence sharing with countries such as the US, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been of great help. For the last couple of years India has been able to apprehend some important terror operatives from countries like Saudi Arabia. They include: Fasih Mahmood, an IM operative, deported from Saudi Arabia on October 22, 2012, Abu Jundal, an LeT operative and one of the link men between the LeT and the IM was arrested from Saudi Arabia, A Rayees, wanted for a case relating to seizure of ammonium nitrate from Kannaur district of Kerala in 2009, was also deported from Saudi Arabaia and recently, Abdul Sathar @ Manzoor who was deported from Saudi Arabia on August 2, 2013 for allegedly participating in a terror camp at Wagamon in the Kottayam district of Kerala in 2007. Abdul Sathar, a member of the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), was reportedly hiding in Abu Dhabi and was involved in hatching terror strikes against India with absconding SIMI and IM operatives.

Hydro Power Development & Mandatory Purchase of Hydro Power

Shankar Sharma,
Power Policy Analyst
27 August 2013

There has been a recent media report that the government is planning to promote hydro power projects by making it mandatory for distribution utilities to buy a percentage of their electricity requirement from hydel plants. Such a proposal gives rise to serious apprehensions for our communities and the natural environment. 

Making it mandatory for distribution utilities to buy a percentage of their electricity requirement from hydel plants, will mean mushrooming of hydel power projects all over the country. The Integrated Energy Policy (IEP) of Planning Commission and the Central Electricity Authority have identified a total hydro potential of 150,000 MW in the country. If all of this potential is to be developed, it shall mean the addition of about 110,000 MW to the existing hydro power capacity by 2032 (as projected by IEP). 

The social, environmental and economic impacts of dam based hydel projects on our densely populated communities, are well known and documented too. Our own past history of not demonstrating adequate responsibility in correct planning, execution, monitoring, rehabilitation, reporting etc. has resulted in strong resentment against future dams. Recent ruling by the Supreme Court of India banning environmental clearance to hydel power projects in Uttarakhand, and the ruling by High Court of Karnataka banning construction of mini and micro hydel projects in Western Ghats of Karnataka indicate the grave concerns of judicial bodies. 

In 2000 the World Commission on Dams had stated: "Dams have made an important and significant contribution to human development ….. In too many cases an unacceptable and often unnecessary price has been paid to secure those benefits, especially in social and environmental terms, by people displaced, by communities downstream, by tax payers and by the natural environment". 

Even the so called 'run-of-river' projects, which are touted as of least impacts to the rivers and river dependent communities, are generally known to have flouted the true characteristics of a run-of-river concept, and have created havoc to the downstream of such projects. 

The arguments offered by IEP to project 150,000 MW of total hydel power by 2031-32 are: 

> that hydel power is renewable and green power, 

> that it will provide the much needed peak hour demand support, 

> that it will provide the much needed water security through storage facility. 

It is not difficult to see the weakness of these arguments when we consider the huge GHG potential of tropical dams through Methane, CO2 and Nitrous Oxide emissions; the huge cost to the society of not adequately managing the peak hour demand; and the social and environmental costs of the dams. 

The massive costs to our communities from the recent disaster in Uttarakhand should also destroy the myth that the hydel projects can be and should be net revenue earners to the Himalayan states. 

As per Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - IV Assessment Report "Emissions from deforestation are very significant - they are estimated to represent more than 18% of global emissions"; "Curbing deforestation is a highly cost-effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions". Dam based hydel projects in India will invariably lead to submergence and destruction of rich tropical forests making it almost impossible to keep up its commitment to reduce its GHG emissions. 

Return of Haji Pir Pass in 1965 – Myth and the Reality

Issue Net Edition | Date : 28 Aug , 2013

In 1965 war, Indian Army had captured the strategic Haji Pir Pass. During the Tashkent talks between Indian and Pakistan, held through the good offices of Soviet Union, India agreed to return Haji Pir Pass, Pt 13620 which dominated Kargil town and many other tactically important areas. To add mystery to the whole process, Prime Minister Shastri died on 10th January, 1966 after signing the Tashkent Declaration with President Ayub Khan of Pakistan. He was denounced by all and sundry for caving in to the Russian pressure and made to return Haji Pir Pass to Pakistan, resulted in two grave disadvantages to us: One- had the pass been held by us, the distance from Jammu to Srinagar through Poonch and Uri would have been reduced by over 200 Kms. Two – later on Pak commenced its infiltration into J & K in 1965, through the Uri – Poonch Bulge which continues even today. They why did we commit this error of judgement?

Haji Pir Operations:

Following failure of Operation Grand Slam, the infiltration attempt in J & K in August, 1965, Pakistan decided to launch its offensive operation in Chhamb in order to capture Akhnoor, thus cutting off lines of communication to Poonch Sector. Subsequently operations were to be progressed to Jammu to cut off the Valley from the rest of the country. Selection of Chhamb – Jauriyan Sector conferred many advantages on Pakistan. The area is bound in the west by the Ceasefir Line, which is the South and Kalidhar Range in the North.

thrust in this area was launched by Pakistan on 1st September, 1965. After crossing Munnawar Tawi which is fordable in winters by tanks, Pakistan forces started moving eastwards and were halted at Fatwal Ridge, only 4 Km. from Akhnoor when Indian offensive in Lahore sector forced Pakistan to thin out Chhamb Sector and thus its momentum was halted.

Chhamb – Jauriyan Battle

When negotiations commenced in January, 1966 between India and Pakistan under the aegis of Soviet Union, India had to view the threat posed by Pak dagger into Indian heart in Chhamb Sector. Since Pakistani forces had already reached Fatwal ridge only four Kms. from Akhnoor, it could always resume operations for capture of Akhnoor. The author understood this implication better in 1987 when he was commanding his unit near Jauriyan, a few kilometers west of Fatwal Ridge. The Indian policy makers at that time did not visualize infiltration threat through Uni-Poonch bulge and hence it was decided to return Haji Pir Pass to Pakistan and ask them to withdraw from Chhamb Sector since it would not have been advisable to let Pakistan point a dagger at Akhnoor and thereafter at Jammu. It was too high a risk to take. So Prime Minister Shastri was left with no option. Whether he died due to a feeling of guilt will remain a mystery. But in hindsight, India was remiss in not capturing Haji Pir Pass in 1971 war. It was the only worthwhile objective on the Western Front. Thus ends the myth and reality of return of Haji Pir Pass by India after 1965 war. May Shahstri’s soul rest in peace.

India’s Slowdown: A Hit to PM Manmohan Singh’s Global Image?

By Pratyush
September 2, 2013.

India’s mild-mannered Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is known to be measured in his public utterances. This is perhaps why his combative response on August 30 to attacks made by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Rajya Sabha, India’s Upper House of Parliament, made headlines. In recent weeks, the BJP has accused Singh of presiding over a government battered by a slew of corruption scandals and failing to take steps to revive the Indian economy, which has seen a sharp deceleration in growth.

Data released on August 30 showed that GDP in the April-June quarter slowed to 4.4 percent, down from 5 percent a year ago, the slowest pace of growth since the 2008 global financial crisis. The figure will add to growing fears about the health of Asia’s third-largest economy, exacerbated by a ballooning current account deficit and a falling rupee, which has depreciated 20 percent since May 2013.

However, in one curious remark intended to rebut the opposition’s attack, Singh said, "Whatever some members of the House may say about me as the prime minister, I command certain status, certain prestige and certain respect in the Council of the Group of 20."

The remark assumes significance coming as it does days ahead of the G20 Summit in Russia, which the Indian prime minister is due to attend, along with leaders of 19 other major economies. In previous meetings of the grouping, Singh’s reputation as an eminent economist ensured that fellow world leaders solicited his views on the global economy after the 2008 financial crisis. U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed this in 2010 during a meeting with the Indian leader on the sidelines of the G20 Summit.

"I can tell you that here at G20, when the Prime Minister speaks, people listen," said Obama, who added that this was because of Singh's deep knowledge of economic issues. Underlining this remark was the fact that the Indian economy grew by 8 percent in 2009-2010, bolstering his economic credentials. 

Singh’s contention that he commands a “certain prestige and respect” among world leaders is also confirmed by an August 2010 Newsweek article that hailed the Indian prime minister as the “leader other leaders love.”

“Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a sophisticated former economist, has played a key role in the country's emergence as one of the rising powers of the 21st century, engineering the transition from stagnant socialism to a spectacular takeoff in the global economy,” the U.S. magazine noted

It added that it was his unassuming personal style that “really inspires awe among his fellow global luminaries, who praise him for being modest, humble, and incorruptible.”

GSAT-7: India's first dedicated military satellite

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan and Rahul Prakash
30 August 2013

ISRO has just launched GSAT-7, India's first dedicated military satellite. The satellite was launched into the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) from French Guiana using the European Space Consortium Arianespace's Ariane-5 VA 215. India's own GSLV rocket, using the indigenous cryogenic engine, is still in the works and will have to undergo a few more rounds of tests before it becomes operational. Until then, India will have to rely on foreign rockets for heavy payloads. 

The 2625 kg GSAT-7, developed at a cost of INR 185 crores, will be the first dedicated satellite for maritime communications. The satellite will provide India with UHF, S-band, C-band, and Ku band relay capacity over the Indian landmass and surrounding seas. The deficiency faced by the Indian Navy in terms of both line of sight and ionospheric effects will be rectified to a large extent. Earlier, satellite communications for the navy was ensured through Inmarsat (International Maritime Satellite Organisation; the name was later changed to International Mobile Satellite Organization), originally a non-profit international organization but now a private British satellite telecommunication firm. Inmarsat, established in 1979 at the behest of International Maritime Organization (IMO, a UN body) for building a satellite communications network for the maritime community, provides maritime communication services to a large number of states including governments, airlines, oil and gas industry, mining and constructions, aid agencies among others. With the launch of GSAT-7, India will have its own set up and will not have to rely on foreign agencies. This launch, as an ISRO official commented off the record, is thus important from maritime security and surveillance points of view. 

The launch, including insurance charges, will cost India INR 470 crores, but capability building in terms of India's maritime security is huge. GSAT-7 will improve India's overall MDA (Maritime Domain Awareness) capabilities as well. MDA is essentially better understanding of the maritime environment in the realm of safety, security, economy and environment. Without adequate MDA, India's abilities including surveying activities in the Indian Ocean Region and the surrounding seas are going to be limited. Increasing sea-borne traffic for energy transportation and cargo trade increases the potential for disruption of SLOCs and incidents of piracy and terrorism at sea, calling for greater understanding of the maritime domain on a continued basis. MDA is thus important for responding to rapidly evolving crisis situations. However, its relevance for anticipating situations or shape scenarios in the maritime security domain must also be an important consideration. 

Nevertheless, the Indian military satellite network has a long way to go. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, India is currently operating 25 satellites, including those shared with other countries such as France. Of these, 4 satellites are dual-use in nature and are being used by the military. Besides, India launched its own (much smaller) version of GPS with its Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) in July 2013. In comparison, China, a major driver for the Indian military modernization, operates more than 100 satellites, of which at least 31 are being used by their military. Additionally, China is in the process of completing its own GPS system - BeiDou - by the year 2020 with a total of 35 satellites in its constellation. As of now, the BeiDou Satellite Navigation System has 14 operation satellites and is capable of providing data and location services to the Asia-Pacific region. Upon completion, it will provide global coverage -- benefitting the Chinese military along with the civilian sector. Additionally, China is also developing a space station which is likely to be operational by 2020, adding further into China's capabilities in outer space. 

To bridge this gap, New Delhi could cooperate with other like-minded nations such as the US and Japan. To this extent, cooperation on creating Space Situational Awareness (SSA) could also be explored, apart from MDA. On the domestic front, the GSAT-7 is a significant achievement, but delays caused due to technological and financial constraints need to be addressed to create a robust network of satellites to increase the capabilities of the Indian armed forces. Creating an Aerospace command of the armed forces could also contribute in these efforts by enhancing coordination among the three different wings. 

The Indian armed forces cannot afford to lag behind, given the likelihood of an arms race in outer space, the possibility of which is increased by Chinese activities in developing Anti-Satellite (ASAT) technologies. Besides advancing its space technology to meet operational needs, India should also focus on using military space capabilities as a deterrent. 

(Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan is a Senior Fellow and Rahul Prakash a Junior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi) 

The Economics of Shale Gas

Lydia Powell,
27 August 2013

Opinion on the shale gas revolution is divided. Some believe that it is a technological miracle that will provide a new lease of life for fossil fuel production outside the OPEC gulf nations, return the United States to its former glory as an energy super-power and consequently change the geo-politics of energy completely. Others feel that it is an ecological menace that will not only extend the life of fossil fuels at the expense of renewable sources but also pollute water resources and cause irreversible geological damage. The more economically inclined make cold calculations and argue that the ecological costs of shale gas are likely to be more than off-set by its economic benefits. A recent paper by the Yale energy group falls into the third category. 

In 2010 average wellhead price of natural gas in the United States was about $3.45/mmbtu as per the EIA and the marginal cost of production was $0.97/mmbtu. Between 2008 and 2011 the fall in gas prices was about $3.9/mmbtu. Taking into account general expenses, amortisation of assets, depreciation and interest expense, average total cost of $2.52-4.89/mmbtu was incurred which left a substantial return for producers. Using basic economic principles the Yale energy group shows that consumer surplus (or benefit) accrued was in the range of $0.98-5.44/mmbtu. In 2008 gas production was over 700 bcm which meant that the consumer surplus from a reduction in gas prices was about $ 102 billion. The Yale energy group also calculated the ’cost’ of ecological damage caused by shale gas production and came to the conclusion that the economic benefits exceed costs by a factor of 400. 

One barrel of oil produces 5.8 btu of energy. As natural gas prices have been falling steadily in the United States since 2006 natural gas is now about 80% cheaper than oil on an energy equivalence basis. In other words natural gas is selling at a price of about $19/bbl in the United States. This means that the gain to consumers replacing one barrel of oil with gas (in the USA) is more than $70 (2011 oil prices). US oil consumption is about 15 million barrels per day (mbpd). Replacing just 1 mbpd with gas will generate a consumer surplus of $25 billion a year. 

We may or may not agree with the idea of capturing ecological losses in purely monetary terms but the point of this story is only the economics as that matters the most to India at this point. One item in this week’s news developments is relevant in this regard as it notes that 79% of India’s oil imports are used as transportation and cooking fuels. The share of cooking fuel in this is relatively small (roughly 15% of total oil consumption) which means that most of the oil is consumed by the transportation sector. This is very high compared to the 35% share of oil in transportation globally. India’s high share of oil in transportation is a clear sign of inefficiencies built into our system which includes but not limited to physical, economical, managerial, social and administrative inefficiencies. Replacing oil with gas in transportation is one way to address this inefficiency. At a price of $4.2/mmbtu, gas could be seen as being sold at a price of $24/bbl which is a substantial discount when oil has to be imported for $ 100/bbl. Each barrel of oil replaced with gas will in theory save about $ 75. Replacing 100,000 bbls or around 4% of India’s net consumption with gas will save about $7.5 million each day. 

Annually this would save more than $2.5 billion. If this is entirely passed on to consumers this becomes a consumer surplus. The take away from this story for India is not that it must embrace shale gas or that it must come to a conclusion on whether or not to develop shale gas purely on the basis of an economic cost-benefit analysis but rather that cheap energy is the key to general economic wellbeing. India is not competitive in producing even trinkets of little economic value (such as ’Rakhis’) because the cost of energy as a factor of production is too high. If the United States was importing gas at the price of over $20/mmbtu as it was expected to do before the boom in shale gas production, its economy is unlikely to have recovered so quickly from the financial crisis. This would have had very different geo-economic and geo-political consequences. Like-wise if India’s energy landscape is changed through efficient pricing of energy, it will have impressive geo-economic and geo-political consequences.

Battle of Hajipir Pass 1965

The cease-fire of January I, 1949 ended the First Kashmir War but did nothing to improve the relations between Pakistan and India. Kashmir remained the bone of contention. Nehruji offered a no war pact to Pakistan. Pakistan said that such a pact could only be signed after an honourable solution of the Kashmir issue. Thus while India sought peace and development, Pakistan sought Kashmir and to build a military capability strong enough to defeat India.

In the early fifties, United States, in a bid to contain the Soviet Union and spread of communism, formed a number of regional military groups like the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) and South East Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO). The concept was that each member would pour in resources (mainly manpower resources) for collective defence of the area against the Soviet threat and spread of communism.

In return, United States pledged to assist the member states economically and militarily. This provided Pakistan an opportunity to strengthen its armed forces at minimal cost. Pakistan joined CENTO and SEATO in September 1955. India, under Nehruji, the architect of the Non Aligned Movement, chose to remain non­aligned. Pakistan benefited greatly from joining the mutual defence treaties sponsored by US. In the period between 1954 to 1965, Pakistan received military aid worth $ 1.5 billion. The equipment included Patton tanks, Sabre jets, FI04 Star Fighter aircraft, MI rifles, Universal machine guns, mortars, recoilless rifles, guns and every other conceivable type of defence equipment.

…Shastriji made an unambiguous statement. He said that if necessary India may attack raiders bases and the tussle may last long. He also said, “India cannot go on pushing the Pakistanis off its territory.

The Pakistan Army officers received training in United States and Britain and joint military exercises were carried out. Thus, by 1965, Pakistan had completely modernised its armed forces with new equipment received from the United States. It had also been able to upgrade the so-called Azad Kashmir forces or forces in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Pakistan had also concluded a treaty of co­operation in military and economic affairs with China.

The armed forces had taken over Pakistan Government after a military coup in October 1958. General Ayub Khan became the new president of Pakistan. By 1965, Pakistan was ready for another war with India.

On April 9, 1965, 51 Infantry Brigade of the Pakistan Army crossed the international border into the Rann of Kutch and captured Sardar Post near Kanjarkot. On April 24 Pakistan attacked again with tanks and artillery and captured four more posts and the entire Kanjarkot area. The Indian Army did not put up any significant fight and withdrew. Possibly it was surprised and not in a position to resist. It was reasoned that the monsoon flooding of the Rann of Kutch would, in any case, drive the Pakistani Army out. It was also not militarily and logistically prepared to drive out the Pakistani forces.

Soon after capturing the Kanjarkot area, Pakistan offered to negotiate. India refused saying that there could be no talks till Pakistan vacated the areas illegally occupied. However, Shastriji met Ayub Khan at the Commonwealth Conference in London. Under the influence of the British Prime Minister, a cease-fire agreement was signed on June 30. Under the agreement Pakistan agreed to withdraw its forces and restore Indian control over the area. India agreed to allow Pakistan to use a road it had constructed in Indian Territory.

In April 1965, along with the invasion in Kutch, Ayub activated the cease-fire line (CFL) in Jammu & Kashmir. There were many cease-fire violations by both sides. Next, in May, Pakistan launched operations at Kargil to cut-off the Srinagar – Leh Highway. Pakistani infiltrators crossed the CFL and occupied three high hill features (possibly Tiger Hill, Tololing and Pt 4875) astride the Highway and established observation posts.

Pakistan attacked again with tanks and artillery and captured four more posts and the entire Kanjarkot area. The Indian Army did not put up any significant fight and withdrew.

From these observation posts, they brought down accurate artillery fire on the Highway and disrupted the traffic. India reacted by complaining to the UN observers. Nothing happened. The Indian Army then launched operations to evict the intruders. This was successfully done on May 17, 1965. However, the positions were vacated in June 1965 when UN Observers were posted in the area.

Indian Airpower Afloat

September 2, 2013

The first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, was launched on August 12, 2013. While still several years from being operational, the launch of the carrier, which has been designed to carry 36 fixed wing fighter aircrafts, comprising a mix of MiG-29K and the indigenous LCA (naval variants) in addition to Ka-31 AEW and ALH helicopters, will provide air cover to Indian Navy (IN) vessels. The launching of the hull of INS Vikrant with the power plant and generators integrated is the first step in the further development of the ship, particularly the weapon systems. This work is likely to consume the better part of two years before the ship can join the operational fleet. Only the UK, the US, France, and Russia have demonstrated the ability to design and build such ships. Reportedly, the second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-2) is under design already.

One particular feature of the aircraft carrier is that it does not plan to utilise steam catapults, like the US super carriers, for the launch of the fixed wing aircraft. Instead, the bow of the ship sports a ski-jump configuration, in which the aircraft rolling down the very short available runway on take off is lofted into the air like a skier.1 This will impose limitations on the type of aircraft operable. The IAC-2 is likely to have catapults for aircraft launch.

The importance of air power at sea can not be overstated especially since the Battle of Coral Sea (May 4–8, 1942), in which two opposing fleets fought a major sea battle through the use of aircrafts launched from their carriers. Replacement of the battleship of yore with aircraft carriers, as the new capital ship, has been a strategic choice for the navies of the world since then.

INS Viraat, currently the sole Indian aircraft carrier, operates British-made Sea Harrier2 fighters in addition to helicopters of various types. INS Vikrant’s MiG-29K fighters are modern fourth generation fighters that will provide the IN with state-of-the-art air defence capability through the use of advanced Beyond Visual Range (BVR) as well as Within Visual Range (WVR) missiles backed by advanced airborne radar and Infra-red search and Track (IRST) systems and excellent agility. The MiG-29K also has an anti-ship and anti-land target strike capability, which would help in vastly increasing the reach, safety and lethality of the fleets at sea.

The IN has fielded an aircraft carrier since 1961.3 The original INS Vikrant served from 1961 to 1997.4 Aspiring to field at least two carrier battle groups (CBGs), one each for the western and eastern seaboards, the IN negotiated for induction of the erstwhile Soviet carrier, the deactivated Admiral Gorshkov, while also commencing to design an indigenous aircraft carrier. The contract for its transfer of Admiral Gorshkov involved extensive refurbishment by Russia. The refurbishment has faced extensive delays and cost escalations, though the vessel is reportedly now nearing readiness.

The progress in the development of INS Vikrant indicates that India’s shipbuilding capabilities are maturing towards self-reliance in design and development of high-end naval vessels. At the higher end of naval equipment, the aircraft carrier and nuclear powered submarine are complex. By 2020, INS Vikrant should be ready for operational deployment and could be reasonably be expected to be joined in a few years by its sister ships that may include further refinements over the original design. Both INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant are expected to carry MiG-29K fighters, sourced from Russia, to be joined later by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL’s) Tejas (naval variant).