Defense


Listen to this – “US caused the Nandigram killings”, “CIA running a media-syndicate in Kerala”. Stop smiling .. its serious.. its the latest intelligence report from CPM(ya its our own communist party).

US intelligence agency sponsoring a “media syndicate” in God’s Own Country to drive wedges into the Left, and destroy the VS Achuthanandan government in the state.“If what our intelligence reports say on such activity is found serious enough, the Central Government would be informed,” VS Achuthanandan.[Indian Express Report]

What does he mean by our intelligence reports?Is it KGB? May be, but this time it could be Kerala Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti and not Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti. Stop blaming and try to so something useful for the Nation. Let the Intelligence work be done by RAW. We didnt elect you to do make baseless comments like this.

VS also added that he would “neither deny nor confirm”

Well watch out they might even come out with the news that MI6 cause India’s exit from the Wordcup so that England has a chance.

The Reports – Economic Times News – CPM blames US for Nandigram(you would require an IndiaTimes ID to view the news)

Indian Express News – God’s Own Country fights ‘CIA demon’

(cross posted here)

Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel are among my favorite and I’m like glued to these channels for hours. Lately i was watching the show where they show the construction and other details of this M6A1 Tank of the U.S. Armed Forces.

I was totally glued to the program and i enjoyed the program about these mean machine.

Towards the end there was this statement that totally got me off guard. It was the concluding line of the program and it went like this – “.. and Its ready to be deployed over-seas!!!” :o .. what the hell.

Aren’t these things meant to protect once own home land or is it to destroy someone else’s overseas. Now i’m thinking twice of watching these programs. If its meant to display the arsenal and military strength of some country run by stupid politicos who fool their people when wrecking the peace at some distant place, No Way, i got better use with my time.

India, cricket, World Cup, New Species, Mutiny, Defense, Treaty

Hindumommy started off the week with an aptly modified Gita , tailored to the lifestyle of the modern working individual.
She also commented on Master Blaster, a comic book series about a superhero swinging into the Indian scene and loosely based on Indian cricketeer Sachin Tendulkar.

Nita noticed that Bihar, more aware of its unusually high illiteracy rate, began using police to enforce education for the multitude of children that do not attend school in this state. Later, she wrote about the relative stability of mutual funds and their value as an investment – but warned that returns are not as high as other arenas of the stock market. She brought to our attention the sad plight of buildings neglecting to properly maintain their elevators, and discussed India’s role in a crucial security arrangement in the Asia-Pacific region.

Jo alerted us to a novel “Ahimsa” method for creating silk textiles, then turned the spotlight to Saudabi, a Kerlatile who is now an employee at global investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Angelspace showed us the heartwrenching cases of Tsunami victims selling their kidneys for daily subsistence.

PoliteIndian wrote an interesting article on the government’s insufficient compensation to residents for purchasing their land, then researched violence in Nandigram.

Cakerfare reflected on some popular Indian festivals, and reviewed books A House on the Edge of Tears and The Space between Us.
Guru examined tensions in the pharmaceutical industry and the patent sphere, then discussed the phenomenon of Brain Drain. He also mentioned the lack of bipartisanship in the Indian government.

Swetha demonstrated that beggars sometimes make a decent salary and questioned the true potential and value of an IIT/IIM graduate.

Chacko wished the Indian cricket team luck in their match up against Bangladesh.

Vishal compiled a list of favorite blogger pastimes, and noted that a new species of leopard has been discovered in Sumatra and Borneo .

Ujj wrote an insightful piece on the prevalence of fallacious resumes, and later reviewed the book Hitchhiker by Vinod George Joseph.

Jerry introduced us to future space tourist George Kulangara.

Maltesh gave us a glimpse into the Geneva Auto Show, then presented us with an environmentally friendly liquor.

Thanks for stopping by, and catch us again next week for more from the Mutiny team!

That India is an emerging power has never been as evident as it is now! The powers that be are eager to invite India to be part of a new security arrangement.
Quoting from the Australian

The Japanese Government and US Vice-President Dick Cheney are keen to include the growing economic and military power of India in the already enhanced “trilateral” security arrangements, locking together the three most powerful democracies of the Asia-Pacific region.

The common enemy? China ofcourse:

India’s military power, economic growth and geographic position would significantly offset China’s emerging power, which is of concern to many in the Bush administration.

Apparently, the US and Japan are really pushing for this new alignment. And now that a historic security declaration between Japan and Australia has been signed, security, intelligence and military relations are at the highest level they have been since World War II! But still, this is not enough for the world powers. They want India.

But if nations are eager to gang up against China, it’s China’s own fault. Speaking from India point of view…well, India knows she has to join this gang, and quickly. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if India herself has been quietly working to persuade the US to push for this. So what is China doing that is a cause for worry for India?

Remember that visit of Chinese premier in April 2005? Then, and more recently in late 2006, China said that it did not accept Arunachal Pradesh as Indian Territory. You can also read what the Wiki has to say about this issue.
Also, China does not support India’s claims on Kashmir and nor on Sikkim.
China continues to supply missiles to Pakistan. China ofcourse denies this vehemently but the Americans say that they have the proof.
Pakistan is not the only country China is cosying up to. It has defence agreements with
Nepal, Myanmar, and Bangladesh as well.

Oh, and China is helping Pakistan with Gwadar port as a base for its navy, although now there seem to be some disagreements over the finances. China is doing something similar in Sri Lanka as well! It has concluded an initial agreement worth US$360 million for the construction of the Hambantota harbour in southern Sri Lanka.

Then there are also those who firmly believe that China clandestinely supports secessionist movements in the north-east of India, although no hard proof has been found.

Is it any wonder then that China has increased it’s defence budget this year by 18 percent? It needs plenty of moolah to support all these activities. Activities which are a threat to India. Its staring at us in the face. China has already surrounded India.

The Chinese are doing what they feel is best for their country. They want to be supreme in Asia and India is a strong contender to the position. Besides this, there are other little pinpricks. China hates it that India is giving refuge to the Dalai Lama and therefore to Tibet.

The United States is as worried about China as India is. No, much more. China is getting powerful, not just militarily but also economically. Goldman Sachs has predicted that China will overtake the United States economically by 2039. A pretty scary prospect for the US huh? And for us too. We are surrounded on three sides by hostile countries. Pakistan, China and Bangladesh. We need friends – friends like Australia and Japan.

(Photo sourced from the bbc)

A legendary ship, the first aircraft carrier of Indian Navy, now a naval museum.

The INS Vikrant

It was with a sense of awe that I stood on its decks. I knew the aircraft carrier was huge but it was only when I stood there that I got a sense of it. We had gone there the previous Sunday, a whole bunch of us cousins. It is not open to the public every day…only on specific days (like Navy week) and sundays. Usually when one is living in the same city one usually neglects to see the important places…and this museum is certainly important - from the historical point of view. In fact when I stood there it almost seemed as if the history would rise up and consume me. The liberation of Goa in December 1961. The Indo-Pak war of 1971. Vikrant earning two Mahavir Chakras and 12 Vir Chakras. I had heard the stories from my dad and my uncles (all service officers) but this was the first time that I actually saw the ship first hand.

The museum, which was opened to the public a few years ago has beautiful black and white photographs with descriptions of air operations and landings as well as exhibits on the 1971 war. The ship’s forward engine room displays the propulsion system powered by huge steam turbines and technically inclined people would find this very interesting. There are aircraft on display here too, the very ones like Sea Hawk and Chetak helicopters, which have taken off and landed in action from the Vikrant’s flight deck. Besides there are also submarine models, diving equipment, bombs and mines which are on exhibit. Plus on certain specific days (Navy Week) a documentary film is screened. People are also drawn to the flat, expansive length and breadth of the flight deck, deck-landing mirrors costing crores each, a giant hanger lift which can lift hundreds of persons at one time, the ski jump arrangement and arresting gear on the flight deck. And for a bit of shopping, there is a curio shop which sells mementoes like caps with the Vikrant logo (Rs 60- each), key chains (Rs 25 each) and even large coffee mugs (Rs 120- each). And yeah, a cafe where you can have a bite on tables shaped like propellers! We didn’t visit the cafe, but it sure sounded like fun! Well, the musuem happens to be a big hit with families and children. School visits are common. Entry tickets are Rs 40/- each, for adults and a half ticket for children under 14. There is extra charge for carrying a camera.

Vikrant (Sanskrit vikrānta = “stepped beyond”, i.e. “courageous”, “victorious”) was India’s only carrier for over two decades. It has an interesting history and you can read news reports about how she was procured and what she did during the war here and here and get some more information from this Bharat Rakshak site.

The great ship has traveled or rather, steamed, a total of 4,99,066 nautical miles, about 15 times around the world. Interestingly, the carrier might be preserved for posterity – the only wartime constructed British aircraft carrier to be under possible preservation.

The ship is docked near the Gateway of India, at the naval docks and entry is through the ‘Tiger Gate.” If you are in Mumbai, check it out.

An update: February 28th was a big day on board the Vikrant. The soundtrack of an upcoming film, 1971: The Prisioners of War was released on board the Vikrant. The film is about 54 missing POW’s and stars Manoj Bajpai. Vice Admiral Sangram Singh Byce (quoted in the TOI) said about the film:

No country can claim to be a nation unless it honours its war heroes. I congratulate the makers of the film for accomplishing this noble aim.

The TOI report also goes on to report that the invite for the event, sent from the office of the commander-in-chief, Western Naval Command, is in the form of a handwritten postcard sent by Major Ashok Suri to his father, RS Suri, from a jail in Pakistan.  

Update 2: Due to the valued contribution of one of the commentators who went to Tiger Gate I am adding this:
1. INS Vikrant is not open for Civilians except on the last weeks of November & December.
2. If you still wish to go, you would require a special pass which can be arranged provided you know any employee working inside.

Cross-posted here.

Walking past the bodies of Iraqi soldiers, a member of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team asks quitely, “Why do we do these things to one another?”

2004 – Pulitzer Prize – Breaking News Photography

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2005 – Pulitzer Prize – Breaking News Photography

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2002 – Pulitzer Prize – Breaking News Photography

 

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I was quite overwhelmed by the magnitude of these photos, I just couldnt write anything. Visit the links for a description on each of the photos

Pic Courtesy – The Pulitzer Prizes

More Photos at – [jerry@Freedom:~]#

Google has agreed. It is going to blur sensitive sites  in India. It was our President Shri A P J Abdul Kalam, who had objected to Google Earth showing high resolution pictures of sensitive sites. Apparently Google Earth and the Indian government have come to an understanding to the effect that images of scientific and defense establishments would not be shown clearly. This is considered preferable to blocking out the sites completely. A complete blackout would in fact draw attention to these locations. From a Times of India report:

Images of these locations will not be of more than 25-30 meter resolution, more like older generation picures provided by Indian Remote Sensing Satellites…Google Earth would distort the building plans by adding structures where none existed or masking certain aspects of a facility.

Well, India is not the only country to have protested. Last year countries like South Korea, Thailand and even Australia raised objections. Considering that Google has already reached an agreement with America and has actually ‘obscured the White House roof, and the tops of other key US governmental buildings’ there is no reason why Google should not do it for other countries as well.  A quote from New York Times:

United States law requires that images of Israel shot by American-licensed commercial satellites be made available only at a relatively low resolution. Also, the companies’ operating licenses allow the United States government to put any area off limits in the interests of national security. A 24-hour delay is mandated for images of especially high resolution.

Considering these different standards for different countries, it was about time that India clamped down on Google. As the pictures published here show, extraordinary details can be visible. For India specially (we are surrounded on all sides by countries not considered friendly) these images are a big threat. And what is the point of the prohibitions regarding photography of sensitive sites, whether a dam, a tunnel or a defense site, if anyone can get the pictures from Google anyway? 
Ofcourse, the point that made by experts is that technology cannot be stopped and all this subterfuge is futile. Even more important – those who want these pictures can get them anyway. They don’t need Google! Another quote from the New York times article:

American experts in and outside government generally agree that the focus on Google Earth as a security threat appears misplaced, as the same images that Google acquires from a variety of sources are available directly from the imaging companies, as well as from other sources. Google Earth licenses most of the satellite images, for instance, from DigitalGlobe, an imaging company in Longmont, Colo.

But the fact is that even these companies have to follow American law! That India or countries like South Korea are not over-reacting is proved by this report that Google has replaced satellite imagery of British military bases in Basra with pre-war photographs. The British Army said that terrorists were using the maps for planning attacks. A report in the UK Telegraph:

…documents seized during raids on the homes of insurgents last week uncovered print-outs from photographs taken from Google…

The United States double standards are also quite clear by this report:

…as to why Central America and several Caribbean islands – including Cuba – have been spared. Then it dawned on us: the former is vital to the US economy as the supplier of orange-picking, dish-washing immigrants; the latter an essential justification for the continued existence of the US weapons development programme…

Well, whatever damage has been done by Google has been done. We now have to be thankful for the damage control agreement that is in place. That such an agreement was needed is not in doubt. Why make the work of terrorists easy by providing all sensitive data to them on a platter?

(The photographs have been sourced from theregister.co.uk)

KGB-CPI-India-Russia-spy

I would never under-estimate the Soviet influence in our country during the pre-Perestroika era. How else would I become a regular reader of ‘Misha’ (a Russian children’s magazine which now seemed to have achieved some kind of cult status thanks to its virtual disappearance) or participate in a rally conducted by a Catholic School promoting relations with the Soviet Union.

But when a former KGB intelligence officers sensational book implies that the Congress party, the Communist Party of India and most worryingly the Indian media was in the KGB payroll, I am inclined to dismiss it as another Ludlumisque long-drawn spy thriller, but for some meticulous details it provides.

Over the period of 12 years , Vasili Mitrokhin typed in 25,000 pages of sensitive information that he obtained from several KGB documents. When the Mitrokhin Archives finally came out, not less that three countries initiated parliamentary enquiries. It created a storm in India, columnists had a field time assessing Mitrokhin’s authenticity while political parties were trying to gain some mileage out of the affair. Inevitably conspiracy theories followed, putting the KGB name to assassinations of everyone from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Lal Bahadur Shastri to Rajiv Gandhi and infering that Sonia Gandhi was a KGB recruit.

Certainly, many politicians in India was and still is corrupt enough to be bought. But the Mitrokhin archives overwhelmed even our wildest nightmares. Barring some like India Today’s cover story on the affair, the Indian media allegedly tried to trivialise the whole issue, possibly taking into account that the archives indicate that some leading newspapers and media houses were in the KGB payroll.

As any ex-KGB man like Vladimir Putin would reckon, the KGB seldom leaves a trail of its activities. And when it does, it promises to raise a stink.

I am still searching for an old Misha cover.

 The days of suspense are finally over and the new air chief has been announced. Senority won out after all. And the winner is Air marshal Fali Homi Major, PVSM, AVSM, SC, VM, ADC (at present Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command). He will be next Chief of the Air Staff with effect from March 31, 2007. There was some heart burning and hectic lobbying to prevent Air Marshal Major from becoming the Chief as never before in the history of the Air Force has a helicopter pilot reached this level. As this site reports:

 “This, in fact, has led to considerable churning within the IAF in the weeks leading to Tuesday’s appointment, with a strong lobby urging that the practice of appointing only a fighter pilot to the top job be adhered to. According to sources, defence minister AK Antony is believed to have shot down the argument, holding that competence and seniority should be the sole criteria for selection.”

Indeed, competence should definitely count. But breaking with tradition always causes dissatisfaction. In fact Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi (the present Air Chief) himself was not in favour of going against tradition, but the Air Force has not made any official comment on this issue. The prerogative to choose the Chiefs lies with the Indian government after all. 

A tradition of elevating only those from the combat arms to the position of ‘Chief’ exists not just in India but in most countries of the world. There are sound reasons for this as in times of war it is a fighter pilot’s training which can help him strategise. However making a non-fighter pilot the Chief is not really a first for India. In the eighties Air Chief Marshal IH Latif was made the Chief even though he was not a fighter pilot. 

When Partition bought with it the division of the armed forces, Latif as a Muslim officer was faced with the choice of joining both India or Pakistan, but there was no making up of minds for him. He was very clear that his future lay with India. Even though both Asghar as well as Noor Khan called him up to persuade Latif to join them in the fledgling Pakistan Air Force, Latif made it clear that for him, religion and country were not interlinked. It was no surprise that Latif made his way to become the first Muslim Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force.

So finally when the government takes a decision it takes into account the various complexities involved. And in the case of Marshal Fali Homi Major no one can dispute the fact that he is a distinguished officer with an amazing record. His bio in brief:

Born on May 29, 1947.
Commissioned into the Air Force on December 31, 1967 as a helicopter pilot.
In a service spanning over 39 years, he has worked in a variety of Command, Staff and Instructional appointments.
He has the distinction of having 7765 hours of flying experience to his credit.
Has been awarded the Saurya Chakra award for undertaking a very dangerous and exacting rescue mission on October 14, 1992 at Timber Trail in Parwanoo, Himachal Pradesh.
Fellow of the National Defence College, New Delhi, and the Army War College, Mhow.
Oversaw the tri-Service operations including the Tsunami operations during his tenure as Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Operations) at IDS Head Quarters.
He was promoted as AOC-in-C, Eastern Air Command in September 2005.
The Indo-US Joint Air Exercises at Kalaikunda in 2005 were successfully conducted under his leadership in Eastern Air Command.
He was awarded Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM) in January 2006 and Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM) in January 2002.
He is one of the Honorary ADCs of the Supreme Commander.

(Photo of choppers sourced from India Daily) 

Update: The Hindu editorial today points out at the silver lining behind the dark deeds at Kashmir:

When southern Srinagar Superintendent of Police Uttam Chand first received the missing-person complaint that led to the unravelling of the Ganderbal murders, he ensured that the case was properly investigated. His superiors, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Farooq Ahmad and Inspector-General of Police S. M. Sahai, backed the investigation even after it became clear that the findings could be explosive. Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad must be commended for throwing his weight behind the truth, no small act of courage given the fraught political climate and strategic context of his State.

It indeed is a thing we should be very proud of — the crimes were investigated by our police, and were reported by our newspapers — And, as long as we have the moral courage to face such ugly situations, and take remedial actions, all will be well with the Indian state.

Hindu reports today:

At least three separate Indian Army units in Jammu and Kashmir participated in a series of cold-blooded murders of innocent civilians organised by a group of rogue police officers in Ganderbal, near Srinagar.

Documents obtained by The Hindu establish that officers of the 5 Rashtriya Rifles, the 13 Rashtriya Rifles, and the 24 Rashtriya Rifles staged encounters and filed false First Information Reports — to make it appear that the civilian victims were terrorists who had been killed in legitimate counter-insurgency operations.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, the fact that we are forced to deploy army to quell insurgency, by itself is deplorable. However, if we have to continue the deployment, the army needs to be trained specifically for such operations, and should be made more sensitive to the ideas of democracy, rule of law, and human rights.

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