24 September 2013

Attack Helicopters: Should India Have Them?

Date : 23 Sep , 2013 

The Attack Helicopter has value for money in a relatively benign environment for short, swift Special Operations where the opposition has restricted ability to interdict the AH. Other countries have huge air arms for each Service, some of which are now closing down. There is no justification for India to mimic defunct, untried and indeed failed strategies developed for European and Middle East scenarios. This approach may mislead us into a weapons procurement minefield. Thereafter, wasteful expenditure will hamper us from getting what we really need for India’s safety and security. 


Attack Helicopters in support of huge mechanised attacking or defending armies have never been tested against any enemy… 

It is with much trepidation that one reads about acquisition of Attack Helicopters (AH) for the Armed Forces. Ground Force commanders have always demanded dedicated air borne offensive fire power placed directly under their command as they are convinced these are indispensible for victory. The commander equates airborne firepower with armour, artillery, combat engineers that are under command and integral to the Division or Corps. He believes, incorrectly, that under-command airborne fire, he will win the land battle. He ignores the inherent flexibility of airborne weapons which precludes limiting that firepower within restricted areas. Why squeeze that flexible and swiftly re-locatable capability? 

The Indian Air Force (IAF), on the other hand, appears to be averse to let airborne weapons systems be with anyone except themselves. Their fear is that when one such weapon system goes outside their command and control, there will be an exodus of other similar airborne weapons. Precedents are awful to deal with. 

Foreign Doctrines 

Over the last few decades as Indian Army strategists were exposed to American doctrines of warfare in Europe, the desire to acquire ‘under-command’ air power became paramount. The Indian Army’s battle theories against Pakistan became copies of NATO hypotheses to thwart the ‘Soviet Steamroller’ overwhelming Western Europe. Strike formations with terrific mobility became the bedrock of fighting concepts in India’s Western theatre. Many actually believed that such bold plans would succeed and they conducted exercises and rehearsals culminating in Operations such as Operation BRASSTACKS and Operation PARAKRAM. 

Deducing that a mobile and fluid battlefield would emerge with mechanised and armoured forces covering great distances, concepts for airborne firepower to support these forces emerged in the form of the AH. Regrettably, the concept is intrinsically flawed and the question arises whether it will fructify in India. 

The Indian Air Force appears to be averse to let airborne weapons systems be with anyone except themselves… 

Without bias and rancour, one can deduce the true utility of Attack Helicopters in India – these expensive flying machines have limited value and poor effectiveness and acquisition of the AH may be a seriously flawed concept. 

Where Has the Attack Helicopter Been Decisive? 

The appropriate answer would be – no where. AHs in support of huge mechanised attacking or defending armies have never been tested against any enemy. Exercises in Europe with Red & Blue forces could not give a correct picture of how the helicopters would perform. What attrition would they suffer? How would the mechanised formations changing directions, out-maneuvering each other keep their helicopters with them? How will the ground forces, who need to be within about 500 metres to recognise enemy tanks, identify own AHs from those of the enemy? 

More pertinently, how will the AH pilots differentiate friend from foe? What happens with sudden reversals and retreats to re-group for counter-offensive? What is the impact on own forces when own AHs are destroyed among maneuvering tanks and infantry combat vehicles? The infamous fog of war becomes foggier with helicopters raising dust and howling jet engines. None of this can be ignored and wished away. 

Chinese Aggressiveness: Need for appropriate response

Date : 23 Sep , 2013 

Incursions from China continue despite protests and meetings by India. It is reported that on 20 August 2013, there were intrusions by China in the Walong- Choglagam sector in Arunachal Pradesh which resulted in erection of tents by troops of both sides. This follows the Depsang Plains incident of April 2013 and the Chumar incident thereafter. China has also operationalised two airfields in Tibet. These are the Ngari-Gunsa near Shihquanhe opposite Demchok in Ladakh and Bangda North opposite Arunachal Pradesh. As per reports, a dozen more airfields have been planned in Tibet. 

There are 72 roads to be constructed out of which work has commenced only on 32. Most of them are stuck due to problems of environmental clearance and acquisition of land. 

The intrusions are well coordinated and show marked interest by the PLA in areas of military significance. It is perhaps a signal by the new leadership in China to indicate that along with diplomatic activity, China will adopt an assertive stance on the issue of territorial claims and sovereignty. It could also be deduced that the actions of the PLA are to restrain India in building up infrastructure in the border areas. Also, by slowly biting into pieces of Indian Territory through continuous intrusions, the Chinese are observing how India’s political leadership and its security forces react to such provocation. 

Ever since the new leadership has taken charge in March 2013 there have been aggressive statements by outspoken Chinese military officers about their military capabilities. It is extremely difficult to probe the Chinese military mind but Chinese military doctrine is focused towards winning short duration border wars. The PLA is training for short and swift conflict preceded by a cyber-offensive. An offensive could involve the use of missiles, anti-satellite weapons, overwhelming firepower and control over the air space. The extent and scale of conflict would depend on Chinese motives and intent. 

Another aspect for consideration is the consolidation of the string of pearls strategy. While Pakistan has always been closely allied with China, Beijing is asserting increasing influence on Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Maldives and in a mild manner, Bhutan. The question to ask is “What Is the Chinese Objective”? Various possibilities exist. It could be to lower India’s image in the region and to keep India confined to the backwaters of South Asia. It could also be to demonstrate power to the Chinese people who of late have been indulging in protests and violent disturbances in Inner Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang. How then should India respond to such unfriendly acts? 

A LAST VISIT AND ITS HOPES - The Indian prime minister at the White House

SANJAY PULIPAKA & KRISHNAN SRINIVASAN 

On September 27 Manmohan Singh will pay what will presumably be his last visit as prime minister to the president of the United States of America at the White House. He will find Barack Obama struggling to define the global responsibilities of the US. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the limits of American hyper-power status and also the folly of nation-building enterprises in other parts of the world. Given its recent experience, the US public is unenthusiastic about intervention in ‘wars of choice’ even when there is large-scale violation of human rights as in Egypt or Syria. Whether or not Washington decides on punitive strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons before Singh’s visit, the US leadership is obliged to weigh its international obligations and re-assess the mechanics of carrying them out, even though the domestic economy is at last showing signs of recovery. 

Both the US and India have cause to introspect on their status in the world. While Washington has encountered obstacles in what it perceives as its self-appointed mission to promote democracy and human rights, New Delhi on its part has suffered multiple setbacks in its scarcely concealed aspirations to emerge as an important world power. The growth rate has plunged well below expectations to 4.4 per cent, the value of the rupee has tumbled in international currency markets, and with general elections due in a few months, the possibility of curbing the fiscal and balance of payments deficits seems a remote prospect. The government’s decision to attract foreign investment in over a dozen sectors has not made any significant impression on the negative perceptions of the Indian economy, and the trip of the ministers, P. Chidambaram and Anand Sharma, to the US to promote investments was a dismal failure. On India’s borders, Chinese forces have been trespassing into Indian territory and the number of ceasefire violations on the line of control in Kashmir has registered a significant increase. 

In contrast with Obama’s speech in the Indian Parliament in 2010, when he spoke of an India “with increased power” and sharing “increased responsibility”, the US president will this month encounter a much diminished Indian counterpart. Nevertheless, the national security adviser, Shiv Shankar Menon, has expressed high satisfaction with the preparations for the meeting and its likely outcomes. What might these be? 

On the security front, discussions on Afghanistan will assume priority. The US has scaled down the objectives of its intervention since 2001 from establishing a strong Afghan State to a focus on eliminating the terrorist threat prior to withdrawing its forces next year. During a recent visit to Pakistan, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, stated that the US would draw down its troops but not remove them completely, but this will depend on a status of forces agreement that is still to be concluded with the disgruntled Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, or his successor. As part of its exit strategy, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has handed over operational command to the Afghan army and the Americans have announced their intention to talk to Taliban representatives. These talks have made no headway because the Taliban called its premises in Doha the ‘Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ which gave the impression of a government–in-exile, raising strenuous objections from Karzai, who was in any case opposed to any negotiation that excluded the Afghan authorities. There has subsequently been no progress in Pakistan-facilitated talks between the Karzai government and the Taliban or between the Taliban and Washington. 

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The world’s biggest firms 
American private enterprise dominates the corporate premier league again, thanks to waning valuations of state-backed firms 

Sep 21st 2013 |Source Link


BACK in September 2009 it seemed that America Inc was being crushed. Of the world’s ten largest quoted firms by market value, only three were American—Exxon Mobil, Microsoft and Walmart. The list was dominated by state-controlled giants such as PetroChina, China Mobile and ICBC, a Chinese bank. Petrobras, an oil-and-gas firm run by the Brazilian government, had just made it into the ninth slot. It all fitted an easy story. America was in decline after the subprime crisis. The private firm was being displaced by state capitalism. There was an inexorable shift in power to the emerging world. 

That year turned out to be a low point for the American firm: its resurgence has been remarkable. Today nine of the ten most valuable companies are American. The country has not been as dominant for a decade. Look at the top 50 firms and America’s share is much lower. But it is still over 50%, and has recently begun to rise (see chart 1). With its economy energised, not least by cheap shale gas, and its stockmarket rampant there is optimism in the air. The big beasts are stirring. 

On September 2nd Verizon, a telecoms firm based in New York, said it would take full control of its wireless arm, buying out its British partner, the once all-conquering Vodafone. At $130 billion this deal is the third-largest ever and an advertisement for the depth and sophistication of Western capital markets—Verizon has managed to issue a colossal $49-billion-worth of bonds and the next stage is a fiddly cross-border transfer of Verizon shares to Vodafone shareholders. The following day Microsoft said it was buying Nokia’s troubled handset arm. In its pomp thirteen years ago Nokia was the world’s 16th-biggest firm. Now America dominates the wireless industry. 

Churning and earning 

Countries do not need giant companies to be successful: Germany’s strength is its medium-sized firms; Canada is comfortable living colossus-free. And dominance in the league tables can evaporate quickly. In May 1987, before Japan’s banks keeled over, the country accounted for eight of the top ten companies. Tokyo Electric Power, once the planet’s third-biggest firm, is now worth a tenth of its peak value back then, and mainly famous for the disaster at its Fukushima nuclear plant. 

In 2000, even as the dot-com bubble began to burst, Cisco and Oracle (two technology giants) were in the top ten. Between 2005 and 2007 Citigroup, AIG and Bank of America moved in and out of the top ten—all three had to be bailed out by taxpayers before the decade was done. As the next decade began, talk of a commodities “supercycle” driven by Chinese demand saw BHP Billiton, an Australian mining firm, join the top ten. Now it has slumped back to 27th place. 

NSA targets Indian politics, space & n-programmes

Shobhan Saxena 

Nation's strategic, commercial interests may have been compromised 

The public assertions made by Indian and American officials that no content was taken from India’s internet and telephone networks by U.S.’s National Security Agency (NSA) and that the American surveillance programs just looked at “patterns of communication” as a counter-terrorism measure are far from the truth, if not outright misleading. 

According to a top secret document disclosed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and obtained by The Hindu, the PRISM programme was deployed by the American agency to gather key information from India by tapping directly into the servers of tech giants which provide services such as email, video sharing, voice-over-IPs, online chats, file transfer and social networking services. 

And, according to the PRISM document seen by The Hindu, much of the communication targeted by the NSA is unrelated to terrorism, contrary to claims of Indian and American officials. 

Instead, much of the surveillance was focused on India’s domestic politics and the country’s strategic and commercial interests. 

This is the first time it’s being revealed that PRISM, which facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications as well as stored information, was used by the world’s largest surveillance organization to intercept and pick content on at least three issues related to India’s geopolitical and economic interests. They are: Nuclear, Space and Politics. 

The top-secret NSA document, which carries the seal of “Special Source Operations”, is called “A Week in the Life of PRISM reporting” and it shows “Sampling of Reporting topics from 2-8 Feb 2013”. Marked with a green slug that reads “589 End product Reports’’, the document carries the brand logos of companies like Gmail, Facebook, MSN, Hotmail, Yahoo!, Google, Apple, Skype, YouTube, paltalk.com and AOL on the top of the page. 

“End products” are official reports that are distillations of the best raw intelligence. 

In a section titled “India”, the document clearly mentions numerous subjects about which content was picked from various service providers on the worldwide web in just one week early this year. 

This document is strong evidence of the fact that NSA surveillance in India was not restricted to tracking of phone calls, text messages and email logs by Boundless Informant, an NSA tool that was deployed quite aggressively against India. “As politics, space and nuclear are mentioned as “end products” in this document, it means that emails, texts and phones of important people related to these fields were constantly monitored and intelligence was taken from them, and then the NSA prepared official reports on the basis of raw intelligence. It means, they are listening in real time to what our political leaders, bureaucrats and scientists are communicating with each other,” an official with an India intelligence agency told The Hindu, speaking strictly on condition of anonymity. 

Looking beyond the Proactive Doctrine

Date: 23/09/2013

The genesis of India’s proactive doctrine lies in events that occurred post the attack by Pakistan sponsored terrorists on India’s Parliament on 13 December 2001. India’s response to such a blatant attack on the very temple of democracy was to mobilise its forces along the Western border as a precursor to taking punitive action against Pakistan. The code name given to this mobilisation was“Operation Parakaram”, but the long lead-time taken to mobilise forces for conventional conflict eventually denied India the opportunity of using them. This brought home the need to reduce the lead time required to initiate hostilities, giving rise in due course to the “Proactive Doctrine” of the Indian Army, also referred to by many, though incorrectly, as the “Cold Start Doctrine”. The aim of this article is not to delve into the merits or otherwise of the “Proactive Doctrine”, but to analyse what further needs to be done to encourage Pakistan to desist from taking recourse to terror to further its foreign policy objectives.

The doctrinal use of force or threat of use of force must flow from national political goals and objectives. At the national level in the Indian context, for a country struggling to find its soul from centuries of foreign domination, the primary strategic objective would of necessity, remain the human development of its people, which in turn would require a durable peace. The doctrinal approach of the military to conflict must hence aim at deterrence to enable peace. In the event of conflict, the aim must be for early conflict resolution, with adequate conflict control mechanisms in place to reduce the risk of escalation. War capability must encompass both the capacity and the will to wage war. It would require a well-trained and equipped force to meet the above national policy objectives.

Viewed in this context, India’s “Proactive Doctrine” has been remarkably successful. Pakistan’s inability to find an appropriate response to this doctrine despite a series of exercises conducted over the last few years simply brings out the importance of a doctrinal approach to war fighting. It is perhaps credible to assume that Pakistan’s approach to the use of tactical nuclear weapons in conventional conflict reflects in large measure its inability to counter the Indian doctrine. However, this has not dissuaded Pakistan from continuing to support cross border terrorism from within its territory against India, albeit at a lower scale, to what some in the Pakistan establishment believe to be within India’s ‘threshold limits’. We hence need to enmesh an additional element in the existing “Proactive Doctrine” to make it expensive if not impossible for Pakistan to use terrorism for political and ideological ends. As stated succinctly by the late Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, “We need to ask ourselves whether we have evolved a credible doctrine to successfully counter Pakistan’s strategic doctrine of sub-conventional war (through terrorism) under the nuclear umbrella acquired by 1987?

The answer as of now is that we have partial capability only. Enough to deter attacks of the type on India’s Parliament and the Mumbai attacks in September 2008 but not enough to deter continued support by Pakistan to militant groups based in its territory. India’s strategy to defeat Pakistan’s proxy war remains mired in defensive actions against terrorists after they cross over into India. What is required is the capability to operate against specified targets across the line of control in particular, in short duration punitive strikes. The ability to carry out such strikes consistently over time and space can give to India the punitive edge to deter Pakistan from continuing with its existing policy of ‘bleeding India with a thousand cuts’. There is an obvious risk of escalation in this approach, but the onus for that must lie on the adversary, the doctrine advocating additional degrees of punishment for each added act of provocation. In this expression of will to defend ourselvesthrough military capability, talks for the political resolution of conflict could proceed alongside. However, each attempt by the adversary to further escalatethe conflict must be met by a more severe response to maintain the credibility of the doctrine. In other words, what is being advocatedhere is a calibrated use of force for punitive purposes to achieve policy objectives without the need or the necessity to hold on to territory.

Need to effectively manage the India-Nepal Border

IDSA COMMENT

September 19, 2013

The recent arrests of two high profile terrorists, Adul Karim Tunda and Mohammed Ahmed Sidibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal have brought the India-Nepal border into sharp focus. Differences of opinion, however, exist as to the exact location from where these two terrorists were arrested. While India maintains that Tunda was arrested at the Banbasa-Mahendernagar border point and Bhatkal in Raxual, some media reports indicate that Tunda was arrested from Kathmandu Airport and Bhatkal was picked up from a hideout in Pokhara during a joint operation with Nepalese law enforcement authorities. Whatever maybe the case, these arrests highlight the fact that terrorist and criminal groups are increasingly using Nepal as a base because the open border with India allows them to enter and exit India with ease.

The seeds for an ‘open’ border between India and Nepal can be found in the Treaty of Peace and Friendship which the two countries signed in 1950. Articles VI and VII of the treaty specify that citizens of both countries have equal rights in matters of residence, acquisition of property, employment and movement in each other’s territory, thus providing for an open border between the two countries. These provisions allowed the citizens of India and Nepal to cross their shared borders without passport and visa restrictions. In fact, the practice of keeping the borders with Nepal open was a British legacy. During the colonial times, the British required Gorkhas for the Indian army and the Nepalese market for their finished goods. These requirements necessitated unrestricted cross-border movement of both goods and people. After independence, India continued with the practice of an open border with Nepal. In addition, the rise of an assertive China and the absence of any physical barrier between India and Nepal compelled India to define the Himalayas lying north of Nepal as its northern barrier with China.

The open border between India and Nepal not only addressed mutual security considerations but also fostered close socio-economic relations between the two countries. The unrestricted flow of people over the years has resulted in the dissemination of ideas, culture, and settlements of people in each other’s territory thereby strengthening the bilateral social and cultural relations. The open border also has a favourable impact on two economies. Nepal is a landlocked country and its closest access to the sea is through India. As a result most of its imports pass through India. Keeping this in consideration, India has granted Nepal 15 transit and 22 trading points along the border. As for India, it is the biggest trading partner of Nepal. An open border has also allowed many Nepalese citizens to find employment in India and Indians to open business ventures in Nepal.

At the same, the open border has been misused by terrorists and criminals. During the eighties and nineties, the Sikh and Kashmiri militants used to infiltrate into India through Nepal as fences were erected along the India-Pakistan border to prevent infiltration. More recently, India has allowed former Kashmiri militants to return to Jammu and Kashmir via Nepal under the surrender and rehabilitation policy because of the difficulties involved in accessing the designated routes along the India-Pakistan border. However, apprehensions have been raised that trained militants might also slip through the border in the guise of surrendered militants. Further, suspected perpetrators of serial bomb blasts in India sneak out of the country through the open border and hide themselves in Nepal. In addition, many hard-core criminals pursued by Indian law enforcement agencies escape into Nepal through the open border, where they set up smuggling gangs and criminal syndicates to smuggle gold, drugs, fake Indian currency notes (FICN), women and children, arms, and explosives. For instance, the Indo-Nepal border has become a major conduit for smuggling FICN. In the last four years, FICN amounting to more than Rs. 8 lakhs was seized along the border. Likewise, human trafficking and smuggling of Ganja from Nepal and pharmaceutical preparations from India is also quite rampant. More recently, the Indo-Nepal border has also become a route for smuggling of gold from Tibet into India.

Peace Gestures in Manipur: Will it Work?

IDSA COMMENT

September 23, 2013

It is never easy to talk peace, especially when one has spent decades fighting. The Union government and the Naga armed groups, in particular the National Socialist Council of Nagalim led by Isak Chisi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah – NSCN (IM) – have spent more than 16 long years talking to each other. Talks have also started with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) since 2011, yet resolution to the conflict may be sometime in the making given that one of its key leaders, Paresh Barua has not joined the peace process. The ULFA has submitted its “Charter of Demands”, given up its core demand of sovereignty in lieu of the guarantee of indigenous peoples’ rights, land reform and addressing the issue of illegal migration.

The only state, severely affected by armed conflicts, but which has witnessed no significant peace talks between the state and the armed groups is Manipur. Despite suffering from armed violence since the 1960s, none of the Meitei armed groups in the state have come forward for peace talks, until of course now.

On September 9, Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) were signed between the Manipur state government and three militant groups: Kangleipak Communist Party-Nongdreinkhomba (KCP-N), Kuki National Liberation Front (KNLF) and the Kuki Revolutionary Party (KRP). By signing the MoUs, the three armed groups have agreed to give up arms and start peace talks. The propelling factor for this rather significant development was perhaps the release of Lanheiba Meitei, the leader of the KCP-N. Lanheiba was apprehended by the Assam Police and re-arrested by the Imphal Police in 2011 for his alleged involvement in planting a car bomb in the Manipur Governor’s house in Imphal on September 19, 2007 and in the October 21, 2008 Ragailong bomb blasts which killed 17 people. He now has a chance to talk peace within the framework of the Indian Constitution. Given his background and involvement in subversive activities, his position in the peace talks is already rather weak.

The more important issue is whether the dominant armed groups in Manipur especially the United National Liberation Front of Manipur (UNLF), the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), the People’s Liberation Army of Manipur (PLA) and its political wing, the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) are willing to come forward for peace talks. Rajkumar Meghen, the chairman of the UNLF, was arrested in 2010. Despite the advantage of having him in jail, pressures to induce Meghen to come to the peace table have not worked till date. The most elusive outfit is the PLA, who has rejected any resolution to its armed movement within the framework of the Indian Constitution. Last year, when the Manipur Chief Minister, Okram Ibobi Singh reached out to the PLA to shun violence and come forward for peace talks, PLA President, Irengbam Chaoren rejected the offer and instead appealed to all armed groups in the Northeast to join in a united fight against the Indian state.

The challenge in Manipur will be to incentivize these three armed groups to come to the peace table. The task to get the PLA to talk to the government is particularly daunting given the fact that this armed group has remained united since 1978 unlike the other two which suffered internal factions. The PLA has also succeeded in establishing social networks that are not only spread across the community it claims to represent, the Meiteis, but also across other smaller ethnic communities in Manipur. It also has its safe base areas across the border in Myanmar.

India-Pak CBMs and Cricket: Duck, Six or Somewhere in Between?

Source Link
by ISSSP

Generation Why: South Asian Voices, Stimson Center, August 30, 2013
Arun Vishwanathan, Assistant Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies
Aryaman Bhatnagar, Associate Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi

A simple search will throw up several definitions of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). Given deep suspicions of the ‘other’ and unresolved bilateral disputes, Indo-Pak CBMs are seen as a means to establish channels of communication and increase transparency between the two countries. Currently such mechanisms exist to increase military to military ties, greater people to people contact, provide advance notification of military manoeuvres and missile tests among others. Given cricket’s popularity in both countries, it has been seen as a possible CBM. Seen as a ‘quick fix’ to improve relations, given the sport’s popularity, in reality cricket might not translate into much in terms of better Indo-Pak relations.

For the complete article click here



The Promise of U.S.-India Ties

September 23, 2013 

With Indian Prime Minister Singh due to meet President Obama in Washington on September 27, hopes are modest for what the two leaders can agree or achieve together. 

Against a backdrop of damaged global governance, with both leaders suffering serious credibility deficits at home or abroad, it hardly seems an auspicious time to reinvigorate relations between America and India. 

By all means the leaders should proceed with care, to avoid accusations of further widening the gulf between rhetoric and reality in U.S.-India ties. 

But now is no time to lose faith in the relationship or let it drift–not least because it turns out that a good proportion of people in the world’s largest democracy wants quite the opposite. 

According to a representative opinion poll released earlier this year, most Indians remain positive about U.S.-India relations and want them to grow stronger. 

To be sure, the narrative of the U.S.-India strategic partnership is beginning to sound strained. Both economies, especially India’s, are going through hard times. The relative power and appeal of both countries is less than what it was meant to be by now, when President George W Bush and Prime Minister Singh began transforming the relationship about a decade ago. 

The game-changing civil nuclear deal, commenced in 2005 and concluded after courageous parliamentary brinksmanship by Singh in 2008, remains afflicted by India’s extraordinary nuclear liability laws. These strongly discourage U.S. nuclear industry from following through on the flagship diplomatic initiative of the transformed relationship. 

Despite substantial advances, and talk of natural gas adding a serious energy supply link, the two-way trade and investment relationship remains a fraction of what it could be. Parts of American and multinational business are put off by India’s investment restrictions, bureaucracy and corruption, while Indians are understandably concerned about the impact of possible changes to U.S. immigration rules on prospects for their human capital to deliver in both nations’ interests. 

On the geopolitical stage, globally and in Indo-Pacific Asia, there is a palpable sense of neither country being keen to ask very much of the other, because, as the time-honoured shop notice says, refusal often offends. 

From UN votes on Iran, Syria and Libya, to climate change and free trade, the global diplomatic dividend hoped for from closer U.S.-India ties has been uneven in some places, disappointing in others. 

And when it comes to the big regional security issues of fighting jihadists in Afghanistan or rebalancing to hedge against the uncertainties of Chinese power, Washington is learning to expect neither gratitude nor straightforward alignment from its cautious and pragmatic Indian partner. 

L1 versus T1 versus L1 & T1

Date: 21/09/2013

The law of the bayonet says the man with the bullet wins, Tracer works both ways, and Always keep in mind that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder are a few of the one liner jokes which very aptly put across a soldier’s dilemma, particularly on the battlefield and while on training. The last one reverberates very often in military circles and it is not uncommon to cite the so called L1 regime as source of all evils in procurement. Recently, the issue of L1 came up during a round table discussion on capital procurement at CLAWS and it was interesting to hear comments of many a distinguished attendees both from the retired and serving military fraternity and the elite of the corporate world. The techies vehemently wanted the L1 to be replaced by T1, the corporate representatives were keen to have some sort of mix of the L1 and T1 and the serving fraternity wanted a system which is objective and free from any misgivings. The article is motivated by the aforesaid discussion, and attempts to analytically examine the options available. Let me begin by elaborating a little on the abbreviations used so far.

The L1 Regime

L1 is an abbreviation for the Lowest Bidder, but has somehow also become synonymous to our present system of evaluating bids. The DPP advocates use of ‘Single Stage -Two Bid System’, which entails that the Request for Proposal (RFP) solicits both the technical and commercial offers together, but in two separate sealed envelopes. This system safeguards against the possibility of a vendor increasing his commercial offer consequent to development of a single vendor situation post evaluation. The commercial bids of only those bidders are opened whose technical bids have been cleared by the Technical Evaluation Committee; equipment has been shortlisted after Field Evaluation (Trials)/Technical Trials and Staff Evaluation; and whose offset offers have been accepted technically (wherever applicable). Thereafter, the L1 bidder is determined by Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) on the basis of costs alone.

The DPP in vogue does allow in certain acquisition cases to select particular equipment offered by a vendor not necessarily the lowest bidder (L1). These cases need to pertain to strategic partnerships or where major diplomatic, political, economic, technological or military benefits are to be derived from a particular procurement. However, decisions on all such acquisitions are required be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on the recommendations of the Defence Procurement Board.

To summarise, the so called L1 regime or our present system ensures that the contract is awarded to the bidder who provides a product which meets all the mandatory requirements set forth in the Services Qualitative Requirement (SQR) and the RFP at the least net cost. Provisions also exist to buy from L2 or L3 in special circumstances, though it does not require great intellect to decipher that getting a CCS approval is not an easy business.

The T1 Regime

This system is fairly simple and entails evaluating only the Technical Bids and awarding marks to the technical features of the product/services being offered. The Technical Bids are quantified to determine which solution is technically the best solution or T1. The contract is awarded to the T1 irrespective of the financial liability of the decision. This method is also called as the Quality-Based Selection (QBS), a method based primarily on the technical qualification of the bidder.

The Pipeline From Hell

By Caroline Farris
September 23, 2013

During his trip to Pakistan last month, U.S Secretary of State John Kerry warned Pakistan that it could face U.S. sanctions if it continues to pursue plans to build a pipeline and import natural gas from Iran. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been reluctant to comply with Washington’s demand that it squash its pipeline plans, stressing Pakistan’s current energy crisis and the importance of repairing ties with Iran. Indeed, some in Iran and Pakistan have taken to calling the project the “peace pipeline.”

Initially conceived in the 1950s as the Iran-Pakistan-India Project, the 2,775 km natural gas pipeline runs from the South Pars gas field in Asalouyeh, Iran, to a number of delivery points deep inside Pakistan. After falling by the wayside for many decades, it was revived in the late 1980s by the Indian intellectual Rajendra K. Pachauri and Ali Shams Ardekani, a former secretary general of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, who proposed it to their respective governments in 1990. Since then, India has oscillated back and forth regarding its involvement in the pipeline project, ultimately dropping out in 2009.

Iran and Pakistan have persisted with the project. In 1995, the two countries signed an initial agreement outlining the construction of a pipeline from the South Pars gas field to Karachi, in southeastern Pakistan. Although progress was minimal for at least another decade, the project has taken on unprecedented urgency in recent years as Pakistan’s energy crisis has worsened and Iran has come under international sanctions that have greatly curtailed its ability to export its vast energy wealth.

The momentum for the pipeline finally culminated earlier this year when then-presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Asif Ali Zardari inaugurated the final construction phase of the pipeline.

Despite the fact that both states have a strong interest in seeing the pipeline succeed, the project faces a number of obstacles that could ultimately prove fatal to it.

For instance, although Iran has already built its side of the pipeline, Pakistan continues to struggle to secure enough financing to construct the side of the pipeline that falls within its borders.

One potential source of financing is Russian gas giant Gazprom, which has expressed interest in financing and building the Iran-Pakistan pipeline and has both the capital and the expertise to execute it. As the largest gas extractor in the world, Gazprom’s involvement could be a decisive factor in whether or not the pipeline will be completed by December 2014. For Moscow, such a deal would be critical to ensure Europe’s gas markets remain safely in their palm. However, Gazprom has insisted that Pakistan against its proposed contract without entertaining other bids on the project, which has so far doomed its participation.

China’s Big Currency Strategy

Source Link
September 23, 2013
By Jun Jie Woo and Suvi Dogra

China’s growing success in internationalizing the RMB has both political and economic implications.

A Bank of International Settlements survey released on September 5 reveals that the renminbi (RMB) is now among the 10 most actively traded currencies in the world. This comes on the back of China’s recent draft plans to allow full convertibility of the RMB within the newly approved Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ). Both events are intricately linked and are linked to deeper plans by the Chinese government to both internationalize the RMB and consolidate its influence and standing in global financial markets. This suggests that China’s global integration is no longer limited to trade, but is fast spilling over into the realm of finance.

The establishment of the Shanghai FTZ is expected to provide a boost to the city’s ambitions of becoming a full-fledged international financial center by 2020. While the FTZ was formally approved in August this year, the draft plans pointing towards full convertibility of the RMB within Shanghai were revealed more recently. This comes on top of other plans to liberalize trade, interest rates and the establishment of foreign and joint venture banks in the Shanghai FTZ. Already, foreign banks such as HSBC, Standard Chartered and Citibank have expressed interest in setting up branches in the Shanghai FTZ.

Importantly, the success of allowing RMB convertibility within the Shanghai FTZ will enable the Chinese government to gradually liberalize the RMB at the national level. This is in line with its plans to make the RMB a global reserve currency, with Shanghai potentially becoming a major center for RMB trade. However, plans to liberalize currency controls within the Shanghai FTZ are merely part of an overarching RMB strategy.

As early as 2004, China had tapped Hong Kong to become an offshore RMB center, designating the Bank of China Hong Kong as an RMB clearing bank. This was followed by announcements in 2009 that London would follow suit. By mid-2012, both Hong Kong and London had become offshore RMB centers catering to a variety of institutions and enterprises. Singapore was next in 2013, with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China designated as the RMB clearing bank in the city-state. Plans to liberalize currency controls within the FTZ suggest that Shanghai will become the fourth city to facilitate the RMB’s internationalization, albeit as an onshore center.

The Latest from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

September 24, 2013 

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) recently held a high-profile meeting in the capital of Kyrgyzstan. With so much at stake in the region, how are Russia, China, the other SCO member states (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) coordinating their efforts to combat “terrorism, separatism, and extremism” while simultaneously resisting perceived Western intrusion into Asian geopolitical affairs? 

Counterterrorism with Chinese characteristics 

When China founded the Shanghai Five in 1996 (which was renamed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization once Uzbekistan joined in 2001), promoting regional security emerged as a top priority. The Chinese side even promulgated a doctrine of combating “three evil forces,” namely terrorism, separatism, and extremism. Given the large-scale ethnic and religious unrest along China’s so-called “western frontier” throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, this type of government response was unsurprising. As Uyghurs and Tibetans demonstrated against Chinese rule, Beijing undoubtedly looked for ways to secure its borders and prevent “separatist forces” from gaining support from neighboring countries. The SCO has emerged as one such mechanism through which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can pressure various foreign governments to restrict “anti-China activities” on their soil, which include restricting the activities of Uyghurs and Tibetans who attempt to mobilize support for political protests or organizations. In return for their support on key policy issues, China provides SCO members with lucrative investment deals, particularly in the burgeoning Central Asian energy sector. 

The Bishkek Declaration, issued at the close of the summit, reinforced the goals of combating terrorism, separatism, and extremism as well as halting transnational organized crime and similar illegal activities. In a television interview with Chinese state media, former SCO Secretary-General Muratbek Imanaliyev stated: “I deeply believe it’s time to boost efforts to fight terrorism. We need to expand regional anti-terrorism work and strengthen cooperation with other international peace-keeping organizations.” 

President Hamid Karzai similarly articulated that Afghanistan remains a haven for international terrorist groups, even as the international community attempts to rid the country of extremists. He singled out such groups as Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Beijing has long blamed domestic terrorist attacks on radical separatist groups in Xinjiang (“East Turkestan”), but scholars and experts remain divided on whether many of these groups even exist, let alone whether they are as well-developed and organized as the Chinese government claims. 

Sri Lanka: A bombshell in the Northern Province

Paper No. 5568 Dated 23-Sep-2013 
Guest Colum by Dr.Kumar David 

Provincial Council (PC) elections were held in three provinces in Lanka on 21 September – the Northern (NP), North Western (NWP) and the Central (CP) Provinces went to the polls and as expected the Rajapakse government won fairly handsomely in the Sinhalese majority NWP and the CP securing about 60% of the vote. The bombshell was the NP where the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was expected to win but the outcome turned out to be a titanic landslide. The TNA secured about 80% overall in the province and in the culturally and emotionally crucial Jaffna District it took 85%. The TNA (actually the Illangai Thamil Arasu Katchi or ITAK, the largest party in the TNA, is the name under which it contested) secured 30 of the 38 seats in the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) inflicting a stunning defeat on the government. It was thought that because the President’s brother Basil had been spearheading large infrastructure construction projects in the NP, and because the acknowledged base that the government’s point man in the north Douglas Devananda had nursed over the years, Rajapakse’s UPFA would be able to save face. These hopes have been devastated. 

The profound political message is this. The Tamils have emotionally reaffirmed the war crimes accusations they have been making against the regime, they have also rejected what they perceive to be an oppressor Sinhala State; there is no other interpretation for this result. President Rajapakse in the meantime held his position in the hearts of the Sinhalese as the NWP and CP results showed. There is now a dangerous bifurcation in the country; a long repressed Tamil voice has found utterance for a message whose intensity is unlikely to diminish at least till there is a change at the Centre. But that is unlikely any time soon. It is in this context that I will make some effort in this essay to think a little bit ahead and speculate on how things may unfold. 

What next? 

The one issue on which Chief Minister designate C.V. Vigneswaran and the new NPC Administration cannot retreat is demilitarisation, in some form and guise; this is non-negotiable for the people and for the TNA unless it wants to lose all credibility. For the President’s other brother and all powerful Defence Secretary (DS) Gotabaya, as well for the army brass, it is a red-line that cannot be crossed. How is President Rajapakse going to make the tactical retreat that he must? What is the inner relationship between President and DS? The siblings are so close that an open rift is hard to believe, and if these gears do crash the regime itself will totter because this axis is the locus of power in Lanka’s authoritarian dispensation. 

The blatant involvement of the army in election violence and refusal of the police to intervene indicates that the President has lost control of the DS, or the DS has lost control of the military. To some degree the TNA can thank the army for the landslide; its involvement in pre-election violence and the refusal of the police to intervene galvanised anger. It also focussed the spotlight on either the role or the impotence of the DS. 

Hence I believe that the first flashpoint in the new structure will be the question of confining the military to barracks and ending its open involvement in every aspect of civilian life in the north. A meeting, a social gathering, a pamphlet, you name it and it needs permission; and beware someone will be there keeping a watchful eye. This massive election triumph for the TNA must toll the death of this order of things. 

What after that? 

The next crucial issue is whether the NPC Administration is allowed to get on with its job – or stated more generally, the relationship between the Centre and the Province. I had been of the view before the elections that since an authoritarian regime cannot tolerate pluralism and sharing of power the regime will bring the NPC Administration to heel or even dissolve it down the line. The tools in the hands of the President are many such as appointing hard-core military types as provincial governors whose powers are great, engineering political rifts as has been done in the Eastern Province, fiscal undermining, and if all else fails, dissolving the Council. However, the enormity of the government’s electoral defeat must have forced a change in these options. There is pressure on the President that he has no choice but to work with the NPC; he has to bend and cooperate. 

Burma's Nuclear Program: Who's in Charge?

September 24, 2013 

As the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad’s government continues to dominate foreign-policy circles globally, the news that Burma (or Myanmar) recently signed an important agreement providing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors with greater access to investigate suspicious nuclear activity will go largely unnoticed. However, the difficulty of attributing chemical attacks in Syria provides a useful reminder of the challenges of dealing with a country with overlapping powers of authority and ambiguous chains of command. In this respect, Burma’s case is not as simple as it may appear. 

In November 2012, Burmese president Thein Sein indicated that his country would adopt an Additional Protocol to its nuclear safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The Protocol, which many in the international community—along with the IAEA itself—had been urging Burma to adopt for some time, commits it to providing more information about its nuclear activities, as well as greater access to international inspectors. Although it has taken several months for the president’s decision to be formalized, it nonetheless constitutes a great leap forward for transparency. 

This is welcome news, given the allegations in recent years that Burma’s nuclear activities have not been altogether legitimate. Worrying links with North Korea have further enhanced these suspicions. As a result, most have taken Naypyidaw’s greater openness as a sign that its nuclear ambitions are no longer military in nature, or that they were never truly anything else. After all, why would Thein Sein agree to reveal more information about his country’s nuclear program if he knew that it had something to hide? 

Playing By Iran's Rules

September 23, 2013

Hassan Rouhani is not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Everyone in Washington pretty much agrees with that. On everything else the city divides into two camps. One holds that the new Iranian president offers an opportunity to engage with the regime. The other contends that that Tehran is more much interested in breaking out of the diplomatic and economic isolation imposed by the West than cutting a deal that will kill its nuclear weapons program.

President Obama will jump squarely into the “let’s talk” camp. And, there, he will get totally played. Tehran will get everything it wants, while Washington will end up worse for the wear.

Iran’s strategic direction is not about to change. We know that because the strategic course is set not by the Iranian president but by his overlords. Hassan Rouhani represents a change in style not substance. He has one mission: to get the Europeans to back off sanctions while preserving Iran’s option to go nuclear whenever it wants. The way to do that will be to 1) appear less threatening to the West, 2) offer to help the U.S. on some thorny geo-political problems and 3) slow-walk Tehran’s weapons programs while the regime perfects its long-range missiles.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s bumbling approach to Syria makes it all the more likely that Rouhani can execute this game plan successfully. Here is why.

If Obama had bombed Syria, Tehran would have had to take sides publicly—and perhaps even retaliate against the United States. Rouhani’s charm offensive would have lost all charm if, for example, Iran decided to express its displeasure by blockading the Straits of Hormuz.

Now, however, the likelihood of Washington and Tehran coming to blows over Damascus looks to be near zero. Even if Assad never hands over a canister of nerve gas, American intervention is about as likely as Miley Cyrus going back to Disney. If Obama couldn’t convince Congress that bombing was a good response to a red-line infraction, he’ll have an even tougher time winning their support just because it becomes evident that the Russian international weapons control “plan” is a dud.

That’s good news for Iran. Now it won’t have to pick an open fight with America over the Syrian Civil War. It can just continue to funnel support quietly to Assad, so he can continue to murder his own people.

Unfortunately, Obama weakened his hand by declaring that Syria came to the chemical weapons table because of his threat of force. To perpetuate that fiction, he will try to make the case that Iran also got the message and wants to avoid a similar threat-of-force fate over its nuclear program.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Tehran saw how the Russians played Obama—and they’ll do the same.

Desperate for a deal that shows the Obama Doctrine (engage our adversaries with fairness and respect) actually works, our president will be ready to sign up for just about anything Tehran might put on the table. Expect Obama to be all smiles when he runs into Rouhani at the UN.

Iran will sweeten the pot for Mr. Obama by promising to help the U.S. extricate itself from the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan. Rouhani knows the White House wants to put both war zones in its rearview mirror. Obama knows the Iranians hold influence in both countries.

Playing By Iran's Rules

September 23, 2013

Hassan Rouhani is not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Everyone in Washington pretty much agrees with that. On everything else the city divides into two camps. One holds that the new Iranian president offers an opportunity to engage with the regime. The other contends that that Tehran is more much interested in breaking out of the diplomatic and economic isolation imposed by the West than cutting a deal that will kill its nuclear weapons program.

President Obama will jump squarely into the “let’s talk” camp. And, there, he will get totally played. Tehran will get everything it wants, while Washington will end up worse for the wear.

Iran’s strategic direction is not about to change. We know that because the strategic course is set not by the Iranian president but by his overlords. Hassan Rouhani represents a change in style not substance. He has one mission: to get the Europeans to back off sanctions while preserving Iran’s option to go nuclear whenever it wants. The way to do that will be to 1) appear less threatening to the West, 2) offer to help the U.S. on some thorny geo-political problems and 3) slow-walk Tehran’s weapons programs while the regime perfects its long-range missiles.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s bumbling approach to Syria makes it all the more likely that Rouhani can execute this game plan successfully. Here is why.

If Obama had bombed Syria, Tehran would have had to take sides publicly—and perhaps even retaliate against the United States. Rouhani’s charm offensive would have lost all charm if, for example, Iran decided to express its displeasure by blockading the Straits of Hormuz.

Now, however, the likelihood of Washington and Tehran coming to blows over Damascus looks to be near zero. Even if Assad never hands over a canister of nerve gas, American intervention is about as likely as Miley Cyrus going back to Disney. If Obama couldn’t convince Congress that bombing was a good response to a red-line infraction, he’ll have an even tougher time winning their support just because it becomes evident that the Russian international weapons control “plan” is a dud.

That’s good news for Iran. Now it won’t have to pick an open fight with America over the Syrian Civil War. It can just continue to funnel support quietly to Assad, so he can continue to murder his own people.

Unfortunately, Obama weakened his hand by declaring that Syria came to the chemical weapons table because of his threat of force. To perpetuate that fiction, he will try to make the case that Iran also got the message and wants to avoid a similar threat-of-force fate over its nuclear program.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Tehran saw how the Russians played Obama—and they’ll do the same.

Desperate for a deal that shows the Obama Doctrine (engage our adversaries with fairness and respect) actually works, our president will be ready to sign up for just about anything Tehran might put on the table. Expect Obama to be all smiles when he runs into Rouhani at the UN.

Iran will sweeten the pot for Mr. Obama by promising to help the U.S. extricate itself from the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan. Rouhani knows the White House wants to put both war zones in its rearview mirror. Obama knows the Iranians hold influence in both countries.

So the deal looks like this. Iran helps perpetuate the Administration’s face-saving fiction in Syria and its rush to the zero-option in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Tehran says less threatening things about Israel and goes slow on its nuclear program. For our part, the White House slow rolls sanctions and ignores European countries as they quietly ease their sanctions on Iran.