US India Civil Nuclear Deal
In its quest for legitimate nuclear energy sourced from the Nuclear Suppliers Group after the Indo-US Agreement of 18 July 2005, the Indian government was waging a political battle with its own Allies, the Opposition as well as the Department of Atomic Energy which strangely showed resistance to modernization of its antiquated nuclear plants running out of fuel. Thus evolving modalities for separation of civilian and military facilities in the country to enable accent by the US Congress is proving to be a major political hurdle not only in the USA but also in India. Undiplomatic uttering by Ambassador Mulford only added fuel to the fire and not much could be achieved in the talks held between the Indian Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran and Nicholas Burns, the US Under Secretary of State. The antagonistic political leadership in India opposing the deal seems to be unaware of the problems which the Indian nuclear establishment is facing in modernizing its plants in the interest of nuclear safety as well as for providing us much needed energy. The US is unlikely to reduce its profile in political and military engagements across the globe if the lead editorial by Condoleeza Rice, the US Secretary of State entitled, "The Promise of Democratic Peace" in the Washington Post is any indication. She usurped the right for America to intervene where it felt that there was a freedom deficit, regardless of nation state, culture or value differential. A small concession was made to the European Union by Mr. Nicholas Burns, while addressing the European Institute seeking a Trans Atlantic coalition and partnership for management of global problems.
India Military Training
The Indian Army`s saga of joint training with foreign armies continued as an Indo-US exercise was held in the mountainous region of Kumaon Hills and also with the personnel of Singapore Army in Babina in Central India. India and Israel signed the first joint weapons development contract on 27 January 2006 to design and co produce the Barak II, a next generation air defence missile for war ships. The Defexpo 2005-06 opened in Delhi on 30 January 2006, in which arms vendors from all across the World participated in increased numbers eyeing the lucrative multi billion dollar arms bazaar of the country which is modernizing its armed forces in its quest for seeking its rightful place in the World of tomorrow.
Indo Pakistan Foreign Secretary Level Talks
Mr Shyam Saran was undoubtedly the most peripatetic chief diplomat in January 2006, with Indo Pakistan Foreign Secretary level talks also held during the month. The progress of the Third round of the Composite Dialogue was reasonable. Pakistan`s proposal for self governance was countered by the Indian Foreign Secretary very deftly by indicating that institutions like representative legislative assemblies were functioning in Kashmir but the same were absent in Muzaffarabad, Gilgit and Baltistan. On the proposal of demilitarization the Indian Foreign Secretary pointed out that this is possible only if violence is eliminated and clearly linked terrorism across the border with demilitarization. India provided information of 15 terrorist training camps to Pakistan with satellite photographs and other details as proof. Pakistan countered with Indian interference in Balochistan. Pakistan is reportedly not willing to turn off the terror tap as it is a powerful bargaining chip which it feels has brought India to the negotiating table.
Possibility of final fructification of the Indo-US Nuclear deal during President Bush`s visit to India in the beginning of March remained the key topic of debate. At the time of writing, conflicting reports do not raise confidence of its inking for the carbuncles are formidable. The Indian political landscape is a minefield of opposition of all hues, who change their colors based on the opportunism of public opinion. The ideological stasis of the Left is another impediment. The country`s nuclear establishment is also up in arms against nuclear glasnost. But the writing is on the wall. The civilian nuclear establishments other than the Fast Breeder programme and the Rare Earths facility in Mysore will have to come under the IAEA scanner. It may not be timed with President Bush`s visit as it would raise the tempo of resistance during his stay in the country when combined with contrary vote on Iran and the cartoon controversy. The US President`s talk at Asiatic Society in Washington on 22 February clearly outlined the agenda of Indo-US engagement based on common interests between two democracies, combating terrorism, free trade, outsourcing of jobs, improving health and environment and meeting India`s energy needs through joint initiatives. Indian analysts may be rankled by Bush outlining engagement with Pakistan as an important facet of US South Asia policy. The hoodoo of US equity in Indo Pak dealing will continue to haunt the South Block..
The Presidential Fleet Review(PFR) held in Visakahaptanam for the first time in the Eastern Seas was a landmark event not only from the point of view of display of India`s naval might but also an indication of its, "look east and sea wards policy" which should form the corner stone of our foreign policy in the years ahead. In the Presidential Fleet Review in February 2006, the INS Rajput was said to be the first ship to have carried the most advanced supersonic cruise missile, Brahmos. The Navy also unveiled the Russian stealth frigates, INS Talwar and Tabar during the PFR. The grand fleet review should not blind us to some of the realities of the state of the weapons, equipment and ammunition of the armed forces as three sailors were killed in Vizag on 22 February in a blast caused due to outdated ammunition.
The biggest scare of the month was the mysterious H5N1, bird flu virus attack in Navapur, Maharashtra which led to culling of several thousand birds and a poultry ban throughout the country. While this time it remained a scare, the discovery of the strain in the country is a major blow to our perceived immunity from modern diseases of this variety.
The Indo- Pak peace process seemed on track as the, the Munna Bao -Khokrapar Thar Express was flagged off by none other than, the Railway Minister, Laloo Prasad Yadav on 18 February.
March was a momentous month for South Asian security. It commenced with the visit of President of the United States, George W Bush to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This was a symbolic visit signifying strategic realignment of India into US orbit, with some political scientists propagating India band wagoning rather than balancing with the USA in the future. Indian interests were centered on sourcing nuclear fuel. The Indo US nuclear deal inked on 2 March 2006, entailed placing 14 of the 22 nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency scrutiny. The underlying strategic bargain appears a minor sacrifice for India grossly deficient of fuel to run its nuclear power plants. Domestic opposition cried hoarse over abrogation of strategic autonomy. Inter dependence is the reality of a globalized World. While much work lies ahead to gain approval of the US Congress, the first hurdle has been successfully crossed and it is expected that with consistent lobbying, Congress approval should be forthcoming. Preliminary indications were not very encouraging with US congressmen incensed with India`s links with Iran including port call by two Iranian naval ships to Kochi. Indian diplomacy is in for a tight rope walk, with two of its strategic partners at loggerheads, the United States and Iran, none of whom it can shed, but may be it can temporarily annoy Iran, the current American, "hot button".
The Australian Prime Minister, Mr John Howard visited the country in the wake of President Bush. Australia is an important player in the nuclear fuel segment holding 60 percent Uranium reserves of the World. Howard however preferred to await excision of sanctions by the United States and a green signal from the Nuclear Suppliers Group before making any commitments. India`s nuclear fuel nightmare however appears to be tapering. Russia has agreed to supply 60 tonnes for the two reactors at Tarapur starved of Uranium 135, under the safety exception clause of Nuclear Supplier Group guidelines. The replacement was slated in 2001 and is over four years due. Russia`s atomic energy agency, Rosatom will supply the fuel.
The controversy over the Muslim survey in the Indian Armed Forces may receive a new touch with Sri Lanka planning to raise a Muslim battalion for its Eastern province. The reasons for this step by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces are evident as Muslims have been consistently opposing the LTTE and supporting the government. Thus the move is to appease their sentiments as well as provide a new bastion for fighting the LTTE but is incongruent with the Indian situation.
There were two unfortunate air crashes for the Indian Air Force (IAF) during the month with loss of four pilots. In the first crash two pilots of the Surya Kiran aerobatics team were killed near Bangalore on 18 March, the first tragedy for the elite unit, while a Mig 21 crashed near Uttarlai in Rajasthan on 21 March. A strict no accident policy needs to be evolved and implemented by the IAF.
A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into allegations of corruption and payment of commission of Rs 640 Crore in the Scorpene submarine deal. It was alleged that the initial cost estimates were Rs 7000 Crore while the French government had asked for an additional Rs 2,100 Crore. This issue needs speedy resolution keeping in view the requirement of submarines to substitute the fast depleting fleet of the Indian Navy. Meanwhile the military industry war for a stake in the Indian fighter pie seems to be flaring up. The 126 fighter aircraft deal will be one of the biggest in recent times on offer to military aviation firms. There were reports that IAF pilots were rooting for Mirages over the F 16s and preferring even the Rafale with Russia offering the Mig 29M2 at costs which were 1.5 times cheaper.
The Indian Navy launched INS Kolkata, a multi role, stealth destroyer to be armed with 16 BrahMos launchers, 8 on each side and to be commissioned in 2010 with two more to be inducted in the subsequent two years. This is armed with a vast array of surface to air missiles with a 24 cell vertical launch system in its forward and aft areas, four AK 630 rapid fire guns, heavy gun for surface targets, twin torpedo launchers and anti submarine rocket launchers. It will operate two multi role helicopters. The radar and sensors include multi function radar system, Humsa NG hull mounted sonar and Nagin active towed array sonar. It is expected that all the sensors and weapons will be networked to provide speedy and coordinated response. The efficacy of stealth technology used however needs to be verified. Another issue is effectiveness of the networked system, this can be developed indigenously as India has adequate expertise in this field and will also ensure that software codes are secure.
The Indian Armed Forces received a substantial arms gift at the closing of the financial year with the Cabinet Committee on Security clearing a large number of proposals in the pipeline on 30 and 31 March estimated at Rs 7000 Crore from public sector undertakings. This included the 20 single seat Jaguar with DARIN II system (Rs 2442 Crore), 20 Tejas, Light Combat Aircraft (Rs 2438 Crore), likely to be operational by 2010 and 20 Dhruv (ALH), from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL). In addition Bharat Electronics Ltd received an order of 7 Central Acquisition Radars (Rs 275 Crore), vehicles for the up gunned 130 mm Field artillery guns (Rs 535 Crore) and five in shore patrol vehicles (Rs 431 Crore). What is not clear is if this outlay will be from the Budget Estimates for 2005-06 and thus a last minute clearance by the CCS? This will enable greater procurements from Budget Year 2006-07. On the other hand was this issue so insignificant that it had to await the dead line of the last day of the financial year 2005-06. However this will considerably boost the bottom line of the defense PSUs, which appear to have benefited the most from the defense budget.
Indian military diplomacy appeared to be in an overdrive. General Tsutomu Mori, Japanese Army Chief, visited India from 6 March and was conducted around the Line of Control as well as observed special forces exercises in Agra, the two areas of interest apparently of all foreign military commanders visiting India. A defense pact was also concluded with Mozambique inked by India`s defense minister and his counter part, Tobias Joaquim Dai, to cover military technical cooperation, logistics support and training. Joint patrolling of Madagascar channel was also discussed along with fast attack craft for Mozambique and assistance in research.
Terrorism Within India - Terror Cells Aplenty. In terrorist attacks within India, there were a series of bomb blasts in the holy city of Varanasi on 7 March including the Sankat Vimochan Temple and Cantonment Railway station. 16 people died in the attacks which also had a salient impact on national morale. Ironically such strikes are easily avoidable if intelligence warnings and basic security measures are taken which were glossed over. The police chief of Varanasi is reported to have been on leave, so was the District Magistrate, an unpardonable absence by both the principal functionaries at the same time. Lashkar e Qahar, a Jaish e Mohammad front claimed responsibility for the attack. The police launched sustained operations to apprehend suspects with limited success. A day after the attacks however, two terror modules were neutralized including Ghulam Yazdani a dreaded Bangladeshi terrorist killed in an encounter on 8 March 2006 in Delhi.
A number of terrorists were apprehended or killed during the period in the country. A Babbar Khalsa International terrorist, Paramjeet Singh Bheora was arrested in Delhi on 20 March 2006, Mehraj Akhoon a Kashmiri terrorist was also apprehended in Delhi on 29 March. A Lashkar suspect Shami Ahmed Shah was apprehended in Gulbarga Karnataka on 31 March with some arms and ammunition. All these are said to be some of the top men of the outfits on the wanted list.
An encouraging happening was the issue of a joint fatwa against terrorism by followers of Islam by 35 ulemas of Ahl e Hadess jointly. This was a positive development, especially after the mayhem of violence post Cartoon and Bush visit riots. The impact of the fatwa remains to be seen, though the Ahl e Hadees has a strong following of 3 Crore and with 40,000 offices in the country will cover approximately 1/5th of the Muslim population of India.
Indo - Myanmar Relations. Indo Myanmar relations received a fillip with visit by Indian President Kalam to the military junta ruled neighbor. Myanmar is being viewed from an economic perspective by India as a bridge to South East Asia ignoring its poor record on human rights, particularly incarceration of the fragile Aung Suu Kyi. Myanmar is important due to its gas reserves and possibilities of an oil and gas conduit. The operations launched by Myanmar`s Army on the Indo Myanmar border against Khaplang faction of the NSCN last year also proved of utility to keep the militants under check.
Indo - Pak Confidence Building Measures. Confidence Building Measures with Pakistan were taken to a new level by the Indian Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh. A Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Security was offered to Pakistan, to include development of cross border links between two parts of Jammu and Kashmir, improve quality of governance and provide dignity and self respect for the people of the state. He also announced that the Line of control should be made irrelevant and marginal issues as Siachen, Sir Creek and Baglihar should be resolved speedily. These initiatives should receive a favourable response from across the Border as it is in the interest of both, India and Pakistan to focus on economy rather than security issues. The greatest contribution to both economies would be reduction in manned surveillance of the borders in areas such as Siachen which can however come about only with trust and credibility.
An indication of the smooth flow of peace trajectory was commencement of Amritsar - Nankana Sahib bus service inaugurated by Mr Manmohan Singh on 24 March 2006 and resumption of the Uri-Muzaffarabad bus after reopening of the road from Uri to Muzaffarabad on 31 March 2006. After the initial euphoria, not many takers have been reported for travel to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Have we over estimated the linkages between two sides of Kashmir and hyped the need for establishing the same, if seats in the bus are going abegging ?
There are also indications of Pakistan increasingly amenable to inter people talks of diverse nature. One such meeting held under the Pugwash initiative saw heated exchange between Omar Abdullah, National Conference leader and a group of Pakistani journalists when Abdullah castigated the role of foreign militants in the Kashmir struggle. The journalists were incensed and referred to terrorists as martyrs. Till the role of violence continues to be eulogized in any Indo- Pakistan dialogue, the relationship cannot be placed on an even keel.
Indian Military Diplomacy and Arms Procurements - Deterrence at Play
The Indian Navy`s quest to police the waters of the Indian Ocean necessitates acquisition of maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Thus it had floated a bid for 8 maritime aircraft, the response for which is reported to have been received. The need arises from growth of maritime terrorism around the sea lanes of Indonesia and the Straits of Malacca which is the choke point. A recent meeting in the United States on maritime terrorism attended by the littoral states, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and others had identified a role for India in controlling sea piracy in the region. India has already sought a role of maritime security in the East African littoral with the military cooperation agreement with Mozambique and a base in Madagascar as reported in Security Scope March 2006. The increased importance to Southern Air command in Trivendrum is also said to be in line with the need for effective maritime security.
The present fleet for surveillance of the high seas with the Indian Navy includes 20 Dornier 228 aircraft and Israeli Searcher Mark II and Heron unmanned aerial vehicles supplemented by 8-10 ultra-long-range TU-142 Bear aircraft and 3 IL-38 May Maritime Surveillance Aircraft. These are considered inadequate to guard the vast sea frontiers of the country to include 7,516-km long coastline, 1,197 islands and a two-million square kilometer exclusive economic zone. The companies and aircraft under consideration are as follows:-
- BAE (Nimrod)
- Boeing (P-8A MMA)
- Lockheed (P-3C Orion)
- Northrop-Grumman (Global Hawk, presumably)
- EADS (AT3 Atlantique presumably, a smaller twin-engine turboprop)
- Rosoboronexport (IL-38 "May" and TU-142 "Bear", both currently in service)
The Prime Minister`s Day at Sea on 5 and 6 May, accompanied by the Defense Minister and the Home Minister, on INS Viraat will provide the political leaders the necessary insight on matters military. The Indian Navy is having a significant role to play in the future with asymmetric maritime threats rapidly arising in the Indian Ocean littoral and other navies looking towards it to secure the blue waters.
Indian defense minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee visited Maldives . The island state was gifted a fast attack craft ((FAC), named by the Maldives as Huravee. With a troop carrying capability of 35, two high speed boats on board, the FAC will be able to carry out surveillance and detection of maritime crime in 1192 islands of Maldives of which 200 are said to have human settlements. This is also in line with the overall policy of maritime protection against terror and piracy for which a network on the Indian ocean littoral is being established. Maldivian opposition parties however accused India of supporting a dictator in suppressing the people. This underlines the sensitivity of the island where internal polity could easily become a long term threat and operations would have to be launched as India did in the 1980`s to rescue the government in power.
Arms Procurements. 2005-06 is said to have been the safest year for the Indian Air Force with minimum accidents. Indian Air Force procurement list is the envy of any armed forces, it includes the following:-
- 6 mid air refueling aircraft.
- 80 medium lift helicopters of the Mi 17 class.
- 66 Hawk Advanced jet trainers.
- 3 Airborne Warning and Control Systems.
- 126 Fighters.
- 60 Advanced Light Helicopters.
- Light Combat Aircraft.
- Intermediate jet trainers.
- Medium transport aircraft in the 15 to 20 ton class.
Helicopters and other arms and armament under procurement are as follows:-
- Army aviation seeks to acquire 60 helicopters off the shelf and 137 build by HAL at a cost of $ 500 million. The total bill for 200 helicopters in the near future will cost $ 1.5 billion.
- Medium term requirement may be 500 helicopters for attack, high altitude reconnaissance and medium lift.
- Companies in fray are Euro copter, Augusta , Bell , Boeing, Kamov, Kazan and Sikorsky.
- Druv ALH is also being procured.
- Army Aviation is bidding for 500 light observation, utility and attack helicopters by 2017, in addition to two Druv squadrons.
- Coast guard is bidding for 60 helicopters by 2017.
- IAF - 80 Mi 17 class helicopters for assault and utility class, deal $ 350 million. IAF already has a fleet of 300 helicopters which are of old vintage.
- Indian Navy is negotiating for 15-16 anti submarine warfare helicopters to replace older Sea Kings.
Indo - Pak Confidence Building Measures.
Nuclear CBMs. The Fourth Round of Expert level Dialogue on Nuclear Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) India - Pakistan was held in Islamabad on 25 and 26 April 2006. A draft agreement is expected to be finalized for reducing the risk from accidents relating to nuclear weapons through radiological leakages by the end of the next round of negotiations. Development of security concepts and nuclear doctrines to improve confidence building measures continue. The talks on nuclear risk reduction as far as India is concerned are from accidents and not actual use as India has already given up the right for first use as also to strike a non nuclear state. Nuclear hawks in the India security establishment are however concerned of continued collusion between Pakistan and China and development of missile technology by Pakistan which in some areas is said to be ahead of the Indian capabilities. However a two track policy may have to be continued, which will comprise of simultaneous peace and arms build up till the relationship matures into that of sustained peace building.
Conventional CBMs. The Third round of the dialogue of experts on Conventional CBMs has agreed to work on the ground rules for implementation along the international border, holding quarterly flag meetings and speedy return of person`s crossing over inadvertently. The agreement on non development of new posts and defense works was also carried forward to include non fortification of existing defense works. Pakistan proposed demilitarization in a different form. This was redeployment of artillery guns and offensive formations from Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian side obviously rejected the proposal as being outside the sovereign decree of its rights to deploy forces within its own borders. Out warily this may appear an innocuous proposal but in relation to the terror campaign launched from Pakistan, it has significant implications as it would imply a reduction of density of ground troops in Jammu and Kashmir which if it falls below the optimum levels will facilitate operations by terrorists. This appears to be the hidden agenda behind the proposal as then Pakistan will be able to flaunt peace dividends for the terrorists who are increasingly unhappy with the Musharraff regime.
Siachen. The Prime Minister is slated to visit Pakistan during this year. The key issue during the visit is likely to be Siachen, the rugged wasteland on which maintaining the posts costs the national ex chequer Rs 3 Crore a day. The key to Siachen lies in the pride of the armies of India and Pakistan. The Indian Army has through great sacrifice, tactical dexterity and superior logistics occupied and maintained its posts on the Saltoro Ridge, the highest battlefield of the World, over the past two decades or so. The Pakistan Army on the other hand has never accepted that it was not in a commanding position on the Saltoro Ridge to the Pakistani people. The issue is now authenticating the grid references and the, "on ground" positions. If Pakistani Army accepts Indian positions on the Saltoro, it will permanently sully its reputation at home, losing political clout at a time when its credibility is increasingly being questioned. With elections slated in Pakistan in 2007, if the Army wants its candidates to win, it cannot accept the back tracking on Siachen.
Pull back from Siachen means a peace dividend of Rs 1000 Crore a year and a new lease of life to the many brides in waiting in Jhunjhunu and Guntur, for the toll on lives from weather and terrain hazards has also been very heavy. The Prime Minister will have to finally over rule the nay sayers and restore sanity to the conflict matrix in the Sub Continent.
Technology can in fact provide the answer to all fears. Satellite imaging can detect build up and movements in real time and these techniques are available even in the civilian domain today. Ground surveillance equipment can be deployed which can be monitored regularly by both sides to detect violations. An integrated surveillance plan including UAVs and the proverbial foot patrols is quite viable provided it is carried out with due rigor. Innovation and imagination is thus the key to Siachen and not boots on the ground.
A major breakthrough is commencement of screening of Indian films in Pakistan. This will facilitate other forms of trade as the Pakistani business lobby has maximum resistance to induction of Indian goods including films. Thus this entrenched bureaucracy in Pakistan having been marginalized, greater impetus in trade ties including the most favored nation status can be expected in a few years ahead.
US India Civilian Nuclear Agreement - Hearings. The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, headed by Richard G Lugar commenced hearings on the U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement on 26 April 2006. Senator Lugar has an enviable reputation of being a proponent of NBC disarmament. The Nunn - Lugar programme jointly spearheaded by him is said to have deactivated 6800 nuclear warheads in the former Soviet Union. In his opening remarks Senator Lugar brought out the apprehensions of the members of the Committee as India was not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, had built and tested nuclear weapons, had declared intention of continuance of nuclear programme and production of fissile material. The panel of experts who were to depose on the strategic dimensions of the Agreement comprised of former Secretary of Defense William Perry and Ashton Carter both Co-Directors of the Preventive Defense Project, Dr. Robert Gallucci, Dean of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown who has been the chief negotiator during the 1994 crisis over North Korea`s nuclear program and Dr. Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. While the response of Ashley Tellis, an Indian born US citizen would be to support the Agreement, reports indicate that Perry and Carter are also willing to go along with it provided India grants greater concessions in terms of arms deals and restricts its nuclear proliferation programme. Galluci however opposed the treaty.
The experts deposing on non proliferation implications of the agreement included Dr. Ronald Lehman, director of the Center for Global Security Research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and former head of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; Mr. Robert Einhorn, a Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation; Dr. Gary Milhollin, Director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control; and Dr. Stephen Cohen, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Einhorn as expected is reported to have testified against the Agreement unless India goes in for a Fissile Material cut off. He raised fears of escalation in proliferation in the Sub continent.
The deliberations are likely to continue and the final clearance by the US Congress is likely to be earliest in the month of June 2006. If this is missed than the next time line appears to be September. Other nations as Germany and Australia have in the last few months indicated that the issue of nuclear supplies to India was contingent upon the approval of the U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement by the Congress. Thus the stakes in this crucial debate for India are very substantial. As per present indications there is good chance of seeing the Agreement through.
India has a declared, "No First Use" nuclear policy and the credibility of the Indian state in meeting international obligations has been unimpeachable. Indians see nuclear weapons as a symbol of sovereignty and state right and not a weapon of destruction. These strategic nuances of the Agreement need to be projected with greater vigor, if it is to be concluded to India`s advantage. The condemnation of the US support to India`s nuclear programme by Ayman Al Zawahiri needs to be viewed with caution, as Al Qaeda operatives are known to take such statements as signals to their ground operatives for launching strikes on specific targets. If India is identified as a target by the Al Qaeda, the threat needs to be considered at the highest level as the Al Qaeda represent global terror, which has the potential to cause much greater damage than the serial bombs set off by the Lashkar and other operatives.
Indian Diplomacy. The momentum of Indian diplomacy saw the Prime Minister visit two crucial states, Germany and Uzbekistan. The former is a technology and manufacturing giant while the latter has large oil and gas reserves. The joint statement by the Prime Minister and Chancellor Merkel stressed a number of facets of bilateral interest, such as defense cooperation, trade, investment, technological collaboration, infra structure, energy and space. Indian participation as Partner Country in Hanover Messe acknowledges the growth of manufacturing sector in the country. This appears to be the beginning of a sustained collaboration as India is invited as the Guest of Honor Country for the Frankfurt Book fair and Indian Council for Cultural Relations is setting up five rotating Chairs on Contemporary Indian Studies in German universities.
The strategic partnership with Uzbekistan based on long standing bonds of friendship will prove beneficial to India in terms of its energy security. Uzbekistan can act as a hub for sourcing the natural resources particularly oil and natural gas from Central Asia. The information technology and management resources can be the key drivers from the Indian side. Thus a Jawaharlal Nehru India Uzbekistan Centre for Information Technology was inaugurated and an Entrepreneurship Development Centre is being set up in Tashkent . Satellite based tele-education and tele-medicine connectivity between India and Uzbekistan is also being provided.
The President of the Republic of Cyprus , His Excellency Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos, paid a State Visit to India from April 11-16, 2006 . This will strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
India will formally join the international Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) programme on 24 May 2006 with the Department of Atomic Energy Secretary Mr. Anil Kakodkar signing the Agreement which will be operationalised in another six months.
SAARC Diplomacy. The grant of observer status to the United States and South Korea in SAARC after the same was accorded to China and Japan last year will add much needed impetus to bring the harangued nations of South Asia together. Outside influence some times acts as a better coagulant than exclusive interests. Afghanistan is also being inducted as a member of SAARC. The economic benefits are unlikely to be affected by political issues as political antagonism between the observers is likely to negate development of over riding or sub group interests and lobbies as between Pakistan and China.
The process of indigenization of arms production received a boost with the Tata group and Larsen and Toubro bagging the Rs 200 Crore order for indigenous development of Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher, Pinaka, of 40 MBRL each. The retirement of the MiG 25 due to lack of maintainability and better economically viable options available to the IAF reduced its high altitude strategic reconnaissance capability. However this will be replaced by satellite imagery, unmanned aerial vehicles and aerostat radars.
Indo French Joint Naval Exercises - Varuna II. Varuna II, Indo French joint exercises were held off the coast of Goa in the first week of April 2006. The Indian Air Force also was apart of this exercise. These were focused on aircraft carrier, Charles De Gaulle and INS Viraat. Submarines and destroyers also participated. There were joint landings by aircraft on the carriers and other maneuvers to improve technical and communication compatibilities.
BrahMos Missile Regiment. Land based BrahMos is to be operationalised by raising a BrahMos Missile Regiment by the Indian Army. This is slated to be the fourth missile group of the Army with Ballistic Missile groups already raised for the 150 km Prithvi, 700-800 km Agni I and 2000 km plus Agni II. The proposed configuration includes three batteries of six road mobile autonomous missile launchers. The BrahMos, terrain hugging cruise missile with a range of 300 km has three versions, the sea edition has been inducted in the Indian Navy and the land version was tested at Pokhran in December 2004.. Air launched missiles to be based on Sukhoi 30 MkIs are under development. Pakistan already has a cruise missile, Babur which is said to have a range of 500 kms. The Indo-Pak missile capability and acquisition programmes are running in tandem. Pakistan claims to have a slight edge, however indigenous development of Babur is being questioned by experts.
Information Threats. As the Indian Armed forces become more computer dependent and network connected, there would be a constant need to ensure information security. The Navy War room leaks appear to be just the tip of the ice berg. Very stringent checks need to be ensured particularly in the operations and equipment procurement directorates of the armed forces which are the ones most prone to subversion. There is also a need to consider the impact of information proliferation such as blogging and googling to which the officer community is increasingly relying for downloading personal as well as professional information. How this will affect the Armed Forces in the long term will need a separate analysis.
Budgetary Constraints - Joint Exercises. The plans of the Indian Air Force for joint exercises were severely affected by the Budgetary cuts imposed on non tangible defense related activities. The Indian Armed Forces are said to have conducted 30 exercises with the United States in the last four years. Other countries as France, Russia and Singapore were also involved in joint exercises. Only two joint exercises per year are to be held in future, one at home and the other abroad. Indo - US fighter exercises will be held once in three years. Multilateral exercises are being discouraged as pilots use different languages, tactics and processes. Flight safety is another issue of concern when a large number of countries are participating. The IAF has probably assessed its potential after too many exercises and now wants to bench mark less frequently.
Restrictions due to budgetary cuts were anticipated as the initial euphoria of glasnost in training with joint forces has tapered off. The Armed Forces need to draw up a policy for such training activities factoring in the budgetary requirements and spin offs. This can then be approved at the appropriate level and a programme of periodic conduct institutionalized. For instance a Times of India report has indicated that the Cope India exercises held at Kalaikunda air force base in November 2005, cost the IAF, Rs 21.20 lakhs with an infra structure investment of Rs 12.16 Crores. Separate provisions can be made in the defense budget for such events.
Meanwhile a can of worms is likely to be reopen on Operation Vijay in Kargil with release of the book, "Kargil - From Surprise to Victory" by former Chief of the Army Staff, General V P Malik. The reaction of the intelligence community is awaited.
Indian Government View of India `s Security Needs
The views of the Indian Government on the trajectory of India`s security were evident in the speech by the Defence Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee to the Combined Commanders Conference on 17 May 2006 . Some excerpts culled from the Ministry of Defence Press Release are as given below:-
(a) Full Spectrum Security. "In the prevalent operational environment, defence services are required to provide a full spectrum security as well as response. The warfare today encompass spheres such as political, economic, social, diplomatic, and many more. Wars have become costlier and there is a shift to asymmetric warfare. The response therefore towards such myriad challenges has to be integrated, flexible, innovative and in real time".
(b) Joint Commands. "There is a need to evolve a road map towards furthering the process of joint commands so as to make resources available for modernization".
(c) Pakistan . "Though terrorism from across the border continues to strike at regular intervals, and across the length and breadth of the country, the overall situation is more positive than a year ago. India-Pakistan relations have witnessed notable progress in the two rounds of composite dialogue and third round currently underway. It is significant that people to people exchanges are taking place in large numbers". --- "The decline in terrorism in the Valley is on account of sustained efforts by Indian Army and paramilitary forces. No evidence is available to suggest that Pakistan has taken measures to completely dismantle the terrorist infrastructure within Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir . Therefore, while it is necessary that we continue with all sincerity our dialogue process, we cannot afford to become complacent in this regard"
(d) China . "We seek friendly, cooperative, good neighbourly and mutually beneficial relations with China . At the same time, we are also seeking to address our differences, including the border issue, through peaceful dialogue, without allowing them to affect the comprehensive development of our relationship".
(e) Afghanistan . The Defence Minister emphasized that security concerns of Indians working in Afghanistan is being addressed in consultation with the Government of Afghanistan. India `s commitment to rebuilding of the country with $ 650 million towards reconstruction and capacity building was also highlighted.
(f) Nepal . The resolution of the political situation through a process of constructive dialogue and reconstruction was highlighted.
(g) Bangladesh and Myanmar . Efforts to deter terrorist activities that have easy access into India through these countries were to be made.
(h) Sri Lanka . "We have urged for a return of peace and for the peaceful resolution of all issues while maintaining the integrity of the nation".
The joint warfare doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces was released by the Defence Minister on 17 May 2006. The Doctrine is classified. For deterrence, transparency is the key hence it is essential that this should be declassified at the earliest. Joint ness also seems to have been a theme during the Naval Commanders Conference held in the Capital. The Naval Chief indicated that the manner in which the Indian Navy will influence war on land was discussed. Other issues considered were network centric warfare which enables a commander to control a number of sensors and weapons systems based on dispersed platforms and increasing the level of force for an enhanced role for the navy in the future.
Radyuhin, Vladimir. "60 tonnes of Russian fuel ___". The Hindu. 1 April 2006. New Delhi. P 12.
The Hindu Report. "Scorpene __". The Hindu. 31 March 2006. New Delhi. P 14.
Bhatt, Arunkumar. "A lethal ___". The Hindu. 1 April 2006. New Delhi. P 5.
Indian Express Report. 7 March 2006. New Delhi. P 5.
Reddy, B murlidhar. "Foreign militant`s __". The Hindu. 12 March 2006. New Delhi. P 12.
Ex Konkan Indian and Royal Navy Maneuvers - Western Seas
Exercise Konkan II a joint sea maneuver between the Indian Navy and the Royal (British) Navy was conducted during the month. Four surface combatants, one submarine, and a variety of shore-based fixed-wing and ship borne rotary-wing aircraft from the Indian side under the tactical command of the FOCWF (Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet), Rear Admiral Anup Singh participated. The Royal Navy forces were commanded by Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti. The Indian Naval ships included guided-missile destroyer Mumbai, the guided-missile frigates Ganga and Brahmaputra , the fleet replenishment tanker Shakti, and the submarine Shankush. The Royal Navy task force comprised of aircraft carrier Illustrious (with her own air group), the guided-missile destroyer Gloucester, the fleet replenishment tanker Fort Victoria, and the submarine support ship Diligence and the nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) Sovereign. In addition it had one French frigate, FNS Surcouf. The exercises included, `DACT` (Dissimilar Air Combat) and `COMAO` (Combined Maritime Air Operations) between the Indian Navy`s Sea Harrier aircraft operating ex-Goa, and, the Harrier GR 7A of the Illustrious. Some of the `firsts` of this exercise include combined maritime air operations by Indian Navy Sea Harrier aircraft and Royal Navy`s Harrier GR 7A, cross-deck operations by Indian jump jets from the deck of Illustrious and flying demonstration by the Red Arrows. Immediate and advanced ASW (Anti-submarine Warfare), MIO (Maritime Interdiction Operations), VBSS (Visit, Board, Search & Seizure) procedures, NGS (Naval Gunfire Support), and tactical maneuvers were also practiced.
Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, first Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff Royal Navy, also visited the exercises from 27 May to 01 Jun. (MOD Press Release)
Exercise Sanghe Shakti
Indian Army`s 2 Corps conducted Exercise Sanghe Shakti in the plains of Punjab with a large number of defence attaches invited as observers. The task allocated to the Corps is said to be to find, fix, fight and finish the enemy`s combat capability. The battles were envisaged to be of short duration with high tempo and intensity to be conducted at short notice, under conditions of nuclear-chemical-biological warfare conditions. The networking of Army and Air force was also carried out during the exercises. (The Hindu, 17 May). 1 Armored Division, 14 RAPID, 22 Infantry Division as well as the artillery, air defence and engineer brigades of the formation were involved. This was designed to test the new Army Doctrine of 2004. (Times of India, 3 May). The Indian Air Force also carried out airdrop of an Army Battalion at the Sidwa Khas Range near Ludhiana during the exercise. Three IL-76s and twenty two AN-32s participated, drawn from various transport Squadrons of the Indian Air Force. An Air borne operation of this magnitude is said to have been carried out after a gap of nearly ten years. ( May 17, 2006 MOD Release)
Indigenization and Modernization Programme - Seminar
A two day seminar on, "Enhancing Combat Potential through Indigenization and Modernization" was conducted in New Delhi under the aegis of the Master General of Ordnance and the Directorate of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Indian Army. Defence Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee underlined the need for a national strategy to evolve measures "to harness the nation`s scientific and technical talent to place superior weapons in the hands of Indian soldiers".
The Minister also stated, "Indigenization of national security requirements will require major spending on science and technology. Efforts should be made to tap the genius of country`s scientists and the productivity of our industry. The indigenization efforts must be matched by the attendant modernization across all spheres that influence capability of the Armed Forces. The constituent infrastructure of production units and their processes need to be the most modern and match the world`s best practices. The modernization of hardware and infrastructure must be balanced with the software of updating of the skills and knowledge of the human resources that work this hardware. The software is more central, and demands considerable efforts as well as time. The harmony that is struck between the hard and soft aspects, give rise to successful process and procedures which yield the desired results. These process changes become the key drivers for the efficiency that accrues from modernization." (MOD Press Release 25 May 2006). Converting these platitudes into action is a challenge which is being increasingly faced by the DRDO, the Ordnance Factory Board and the Armed Forces. Some practical measures need to be evolved to bring about the desired transformation in the processes of arms development and production. Defence Production Collaboration
Defense News reported plans by the Indian Defense Ministry to allow tie ups by the Ordnance Factory Board, the defense manufacturing arm of the Indian Government with domestic as well as foreign defense companies to develop, produce and market weapons. The arms, ammunition and equipment proposed and the companies likely to be included in the tie up are as follows:-
(a) Zittara carbines, ammunition, remote control station for infantry and conversion of T 55 tanks into APCs. - IMI ( Israel Military Industries).
(b) AK 630 naval guns, improvement in mobility of BMP II APCs - Rosoboronexport, Russia`s new all encompassing defence export company.
(c) Transport, high mobility vehicles, defense electronic products and other weaponry - Tata Group.
(d) Modernizing of L 70 anti aircraft guns and Schilka air defense systems - BEL.
(e) Mine protected vehicles, optronic sights for 30 mm guns on warships, 155 mm base bleed ammunition, anti material rifles and up gradation of coast guard vessels - Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) (Source. http://www.defensenews.com)
This measure was long overdue and is a welcome recognition of the fact that collaboration is the key to defence production, a trend which is evident in the arms industry the World over.
Indo - Pak Confidence Building Measures.
As a part of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), talks were held between the Home Secretaries in Islamabad on 30 and 31 May 2005. Considerable headway has been made in inking an agreement on notification of prisoners and their early release. This will particularly benefit the large number of fishermen who inadvertently trespass national waters. A Memorandum of Understanding on narcotics control was also discussed. A list of wanted persons, 35 by India and 58 by Pakistan was exchanged. The Indian list included the notorious criminal recently outlawed by the United States, Dawood Ibrahim, Anees Ibrahim (brother of Dawood), Hafeez Saeed (Chief Terror Coordinator of Lashkar - e Taiba), Masood Azhar (chief terror coordinator of Jaish e Mohammed), Syed Salahuddin, (Chief terror coordinator United jihad Council), Salim Haji Ibrahim, accused in the Godhra fire incident reportedly in hiding in Karachi, Hijackers of the IC 814 flight, Athar Ibrahim, Zahoor Ibrahim Mistri, Shahid Akhtar, Shakir Mohammed and Azhar Yusuf. The basis of this list is apparently issue of red corner notice by the Interpol. (Source: The Times of India. 1 June 1, 2006. P 12).
The progress of the Indo Pak Defense Secretary Level talks was however limited to an agreement for survey of the Sir Creek area to be completed by March 2007. This will provide options for delimitation of the maritime boundary, which will be a contentious phase. The talks on demilitarization of Siachen did not lead to any break through. This was quite expected as there is considerable resistance on the part of the Indian Army to abandon posts without fool proof process for verification. These posts on the Saltoro Ridge have been captured by the Army after intense resistance and heavy fighting. Easy approachability of these areas from the Pakistani side and the memories of Kargil 1999 have led to considerable distrust. A step by step approach in withdrawing from areas which are less contentious seems to be the way out and needs to be explored to avoid human and economic losses in the extremely inhospitable area.
Indian Defence Diplomacy.
India`s Defence Diplomacy was in an over drive during May. While the Defence Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee visited Japan and China and later joined the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the Chief of the Army Staff, General J J Singh visited Chile, the first visit by an Indian Army Chief to the South American state.
Indo Japan Defence Cooperation
The Joint statement issued during the visit of the Defence Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee to Japan spoke about stepped up defence cooperation between the two nations. Goodwill exercises have been proposed between Indian Navy and the Japanese Self Defence Force. Exchange of ships, invitations for witnessing designated military activities, frequent meetings between the two defence ministers, a Defence Policy Dialogue at Defence Secretary level, Comprehensive Security Dialogue and Military to Military Talks were other areas of mutual cooperation. A vacancy in the National Defence College free of cost was also offered by the Defence Minster. (MOD Press Release 25 May 2006). The focus is however on maritime security. The Defence Minister`s statement during the press conference placed the relationship in context thus, "___the security of maritime trade, security of sea lanes which carry major energy sources and the growing concentration of lethal weapons at the hands of non-state actors require the collective intervention of the world community who have interest in peace and stability of the world. Therefore, I do feel it is necessary to have defence cooperation among the peace loving countries all over the world including our region. Japan is an important collaborator of India in our economic and trade activities. Therefore, we do feel, in order to ensure the maritime security in the Indian Ocean , Malacca Straits cooperation between India and Japan will be helpful". A large proportion of Japan `s energy requirements is being met by West Asian oil. India straddling the oil trade routes through the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean is regarded as a significant player for maritime security by Japan , with increasing threat to shipping in these areas.
Sino Indian Defence Cooperation
The visit of the Defence Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee to China resulted in signing of a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Exchange and Cooperation in the Field of defence between India and China . Gen. Cao Gangchuan, Minister of National Defence of the People's Republic of China represented the Chinese side. The MOU established the formal basis for defence and military exchanges between the two countries. The key facets of this understanding were as follows: - (MOD Press Release 29 May 2006 ).
(a) Exchange between leaders and high level functionaries of the Defence Ministries and Armed Forces of the two countries based on an annual programme.
(b) An annual defence dialogue to be hosted alternately to review the progress made suggestions for the future and exchange of views on international, security and strategic issues.
(c) Joint military exercises and training programmes for search and rescue, anti piracy, counter terrorism and other areas of mutual interest. Exchange of senior military officers for designated exercises is also relevant.
(d) Participation in seminars and discussions.
The MOU is a significant step which has placed the relations between the two countries on a new footing. The ides of 1962 and Somdurong Chu are well past and a new era of cooperative security seems to be emerging. The key security issues are those related to state versus non state players thus covering search and rescue, anti piracy and counter terrorism. Such an understanding acts as a deterrent for terrorists and criminals in respective countries and thus needs to be encouraged with other nations as well.
The visit of the Defence Minister included a trip to the Lanzhou Military Command which is responsible for the areas adjacent to the Sino Indian border in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. This was perhaps the closest the Chinese would have possibly taken an Indian Minister to the Chengdu Military Command which controls the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The significance of the Lanzhou Military Command is also indicated by its bordering the Great Game area of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan apart from the sensitive Xinjiang province. An interactive discussion is reported to have been held on issues such as anti terrorism, disaster management, training of military personnel, handling internal conflict situations and information warfare. These are the possible areas of cooperation in future. (Ministry of Defence Press Release 1 Jun). As the final event of the trip to China, the Defence Minister also visited the Shanghai Naval Base and was shown a missile frigate, possibly a X 12. (Capacity 2066 tons, Maximum speed 27 nautical miles). (Ministry of Defence Press Release 2 Jun).
US - India Civilian Nuclear Agreement. The first phase of hearings by the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, headed by Richard G Lugar on the U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement have been concluded. The Agreement is delicately poised as a number of inter related issues seem to weigh upon US legislators including proliferation by Iran and India`s reluctance to join the NPT. Present indications are that it will be cleared by the legislators, the earliest is likely to be in June or else it will go on to September or later, given the schedule of the legislative work in the United States.
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor Project (ITER)
India was formally admitted to the ITER during the month. The programme for building a reactor with hot fusion is conceived jointly by the United States , Russia , China , Japan , Korea and the European Union. The large hardon collider project is being built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research or CERN at a project cost of $ 10 billion. ITER is to provide unlimited, clean and cheap energy wherein one kg of fusion fuel would be able to produce the same amount of energy as 10 million kg of fossil fuels. The reactor is expected to be built by 2016. This will provide substantial boost to energy supply in the country once this project fructifies contributing to India`s ambitious target for nuclear energy of 40,000 MW by 2030
Fissile Materials Cut Off Treaty (FMCT)
The United States representative in the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva presented a draft Fissile Materials Cut Off Treaty (FMCT) on 18 May 2006. The FMCT envisages ban on fissile material production for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices without affecting the existing stocks. Production for non explosive purposes including propulsion will not be affected. This was a surprise move by the United States which has not been showing much confidence in the Conference on Disarmament and has been backing off from including a verification protocol in the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention. There are conflicting views on the US intent, however if it is applied uniformly across the board, it will be an effective measure to control production of weapons grade fissile material. Nuclear politics rather than safety of the World at large will however determine the outcome.
Geo strategic Security
Arunachal Road Network to be Expanded. The road network in Arunachal mainly in the West Kameng and Siang districts would be upgraded over the next five years as the proposal by the Border Roads Organization has been cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security at a totally outlay of Rs 608 Crore. This will bring about much needed progress to this remote area apart from better communications both for operational and logistics response by the Armed forces. Next time around the Chinese may see a speedier reaction than one that happened during the Asaphila intrusion.
AGNI III - Political Message of Technological Achievement. AGNI III is a two stage missile, powered by solid propellants with a range of 3500 kms. It can carry a nuclear warhead of 1.4 tons. Total weight of the missile is 48 tons and it has a height of 20 m. (The Hindu 7 June P 13). AGNI III will mark India`s entry into the highly restricted IRBM club. Since the country was under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and had no overt or covert support of other nations possessing missile technology, the technological achievement needs to be commended. The launch of the AGNI III however has been delayed primarily due to political reasons as it would have otherwise strengthened the hands of the non pro