INS Trikand And INS Teg To Sail Into Port of Abu Dhabi Today

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INS Trikand And INS Teg To Sail Into Port of Abu Dhabi Today

As a part of comprehensive strategic relationship and to strengthen defence cooperation between India and the United Arab Emirates, two ships of the Indian Navy namely INS Teg and INS Trikand will make port of call in Abu Dhabi.

INS Trikand And INS Teg To Sail Into Port of Abu Dhabi Today

As a part of comprehensive strategic relationship and to strengthen defence cooperation between India and the United Arab Emirates, two ships of the Indian Navy namely INS Teg and INS Trikand will make port of call in Abu Dhabi.

The visit will provide opportunity of cooperation between the friendly Navies of the two countries. It will also showcase India’s impressive achievements in the Maritime capabilities.

The current visit seeks to underscore India’s peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries in the Gulf and strengthen the existing bonds of friendship between India and UAE.

INS Trikand, a Teg class Guided Missile frigate was commissioned into the Indian Navy at Kaliningrad, Russia on 29 Jun 2013. Equipped with a versatile range of weapons and sensors, enables these ships to address threats in all three dimensions air, surface and sub-surface. The ship is further augmented with the latest stealth features like reduced radar, infrared, magnetic and acoustic signatures, which makes it difficult to detect by enemy at war time. Powered by four gas turbines engines, the ship can achieve speeds up to 32 knots and can generate a maximum electric power of 3. 2 MW. INS Trikand is part of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet and operates under the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, headquartered at Mumbai. The ship is presently under the command of Capt Upal Kundu.

The ship’s motto ‘Valorous and Victorious’ represents the indomitable spirit of this mighty warship and her crew to achieve success and glory in every endeavour.

Teg’ means a short, sharp and curved sword, traditionally wielded by Sikh warriors, who are famous for their valour and martial skills. The ship’s ‘Coat of Arms’ embodies two crossed swords against the backdrop of the blue sky and ocean waves which symbolise Strength, Responsibility and Commitment to a righteous cause. onour this warrior spirit, INS Teg has been affiliated with the coveted Sikh Light Infantry Regiment of the Indian Army. With the motto ‘Towards Eternal Glory’ firmly etched in their minds and an indomitable spirit, the gallant crew of INS Teg remain ever vigilant and always ‘on call’ to protect the maritime interests and sovereignty of India.

The ship has advanced technologies incorporated in every facet of design to make her stealthy, fast and formidable. Her weaponry includes ‘state-of-the-art’ surface to surface and surface to air missiles, a high calibre gun, anti-submarine torpedoes and rockets. is is complimented by an advanced sensor suite, combat management system and an integral Airborne Early Warning Helicopter, the Kamov 31. Capt Nirbahy Bapna is the Commanding Officer of INS Teg.

Read more http://theindiansubcontinent.com/defense/item/423205-ins-trikand-and-ins-teg-to-sail-into-port-of-abu-dhabi-today

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A Capital Mistake: On UN Resolution Against US' Jerusalem Move

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A Capital Mistake: On UN Resolution Against US' Jerusalem Move

The U. S.

by Chinmaya R.

What the world witnessed in the past few days at the United Nations, on a resolution demanding that the U. S. rescind its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, was an unprecedented display of the arrogance of power.

A Capital Mistake: On UN Resolution Against US' Jerusalem Move

The U. S.

by Chinmaya R.

What the world witnessed in the past few days at the United Nations, on a resolution demanding that the U. S. rescind its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, was an unprecedented display of the arrogance of power. Never before in the history of the UN has a member state threatened, so publicly and so inelegantly, fellow member states with dire consequences if they did not fall in line with its position as the U. S. did. It should not come as a surprise if in the coming weeks and months the U. S. loses an election to one of the UN organisations, just as Britain lost its bid to a seat on the International Court of Justice, and for the same reason. The member states are not willing to put up any longer with the hubris of the Permanent Five.

The Jerusalem issue is easily the most contentious one between the the Palestinians and the Israelis. There are other issues such as borders, sharing of waters, refugees, security, and so on. None of them is amenable to easy answers, but the Jerusalem problem is the most sensitive. Any attempt to unilaterally change its status will kill the peace process.

U. S. President Donald Trump has obviously given priority to nourishing his core domestic constituency rather than worry about the concerns of his close allies, all of whom voted against the U. S. except Canada — though it did not side with its powerful neighbour and simply abstained.

The immediate international reaction to Mr. Trump’s decision on Jerusalem was rather muted. Instead of condemning it, most voiced concern at the negative impact it would have on the peace process. Even several Arab countries were not very vocal in their criticism. But soon, the Arab street asserted itself and forced the governments to take a more robust position. Egypt seems to have played a lead role in this. It drafted a resolution which avoided mentioning the U. S. by name; that would have made it difficult for Britain and others to support the draft. After the veto in the Security Council, Egypt and Turkey lost no time in bringing the matter to an emergency session of the General Assembly, where there is no veto.

In all, 172 member states cast their votes. This means 21 countries did not vote at all. A few of them seem to have lost their right to vote because of arrears in payment of their mandatory dues to the organisation. The resolution passed with 128 votes in favour, a comfortable two-thirds majority. Nine voted against, and 35 abstained. The U. S. threat might have worked both ways.

It would be interesting to watch how the presidential threat works out in practice in the case of Pakistan which voted against the U. S. Among India’s neighbours, Bhutan abstained. This might be explained either by its desire to demonstrate its independence from India or not to alienate the U. S.

Read more http://theindiansubcontinent.com/defense/item/423198-a-capital-mistake-on-un-resolution-against-us-jerusalem-move

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Telangana Enabling Ecosystem For Aerospace Growth

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Telangana Enabling Ecosystem For Aerospace Growth

Telangana is witnessing all-round growth in aerospace and defence sectors.

Hyderabad: India’s aerospace & defence market was over $10 billion in 2016 and is predicted to grow at an estimated CAGR of over 5 per cent from 2017 to 2024.

Telangana Enabling Ecosystem For Aerospace Growth

Telangana is witnessing all-round growth in aerospace and defence sectors.

Hyderabad: India’s aerospace & defence market was over $10 billion in 2016 and is predicted to grow at an estimated CAGR of over 5 per cent from 2017 to 2024. Realising the potential of the sector, Telangana government has not only included the sectors among the thrust areas in its industrial policy but also has been enabling ecosystem for industries to invest and provide industry ready manpower with specific skill development initiatives. The government is also mapping the land requirement in advance to allow new companies to set up manufacturing units.

Telangana Government Aerospace and Defence director PA Praveen told Telangana Today, “There is no dearth of land for aerospace manufacturing in the State. A second aerospace park is going to come up that can accommodate more units. More places had been identified that are suitable for aerospace sector. Talks are on with many aerospace companies.

He added, “It is a very special sector with special needs. As the companies need skilled manpower, efforts are taken to improve the skill availability. Telangana government early this year signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with French Aero campus Aquitaine to set up aerospace skills academy in Hyderabad. The partnership focuses on developing skills among youth and experienced professionals to meet the needs of the industry. A clear mandate is there. Further studies are in progress.

Telangana is witnessing all-round growth in aerospace and defence sectors. The State has so far attracted major companies in the sector. Companies operating in the State have entered into global partnerships to make critical aerospace and defence components aimed at serving both domestic and overseas markets.

The latest being GE and Tata group entering into a partnership to manufacture CFM International LEAP engine components at Tata Advanced Systems Limited facility in Adibatla Aerospace Park. The two companies intend to jointly explore military engine and aircraft system opportunities for the India market. TASL will take up manufacturing, assembling, integration and testing of aircraft components. Also a new Centre of Excellence (COE) will be established to help develop a robust ecosystem for aircraft engine manufacturing and build related capabilities.

Praveen adds, “Companies will choose a location based on the availability of skilled manpower, besides other critical factors. The State is rightly focusing its efforts on this core necessity.

Read more http://theindiansubcontinent.com/defense/item/423197-telangana-enabling-ecosystem-for-aerospace-growth

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Second Church Attacked By Armed Mob In Pakistan

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Second Church Attacked By Armed Mob In Pakistan

Another Church has been attacked in Pakistan, this time by a violent mob amid escalating pre-Christmas tensions.

More than 50 armed men stormed St. Paul’s Catholic Church on the night of Dec. 19 night in Sambrial Town of Sialkot district in Punjab Province.

Second Church Attacked By Armed Mob In Pakistan

Another Church has been attacked in Pakistan, this time by a violent mob amid escalating pre-Christmas tensions.

More than 50 armed men stormed St. Paul’s Catholic Church on the night of Dec. 19 night in Sambrial Town of Sialkot district in Punjab Province.

The assailants fired shots into the air and entered the church compound, pulling off its plaque and damaging a window.

Parish priest Father Victor Sawera filed a complaint with police.

According to the priest, the mob was led by Asadullah Randhawa from the purportedly centrist Tehreek-e-Insaf political party of retired Pakistani Muslim cricketer Imran Khan.

Fr. Sawera said some Protestant pastors were trying to apply political pressure to be able to use Catholic premises for small religious gatherings.

This is our internal matter and Muslims should not get involved,” said Fr. Sawera, who has been negotiating with Protestants over the disagreement since his transfer to the parish in July.

Desperate pastors were now trying to close the church, he added.

Fr. Sawera expressed concern for the safety of worshippers in the wake of the Dec. 17 suicide bombing at the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province.

Nine, worshipers were killed, including three women, and 57 injured.

So-called Islamic State (IS) terrorists claimed responsibility for the attack.

Church security volunteers in Punjab province have been urged to keep licensed firearms at hand during Christmas services.

We have a team of security volunteers, but they will not be on duty at Christmas,” Fr. Sawera said.

I do not want another conflict between locals. We shall get a court stay and try to resolve the matter peacefully.

According to media reports, 16 Churches have been attacked by terrorists and violent mobs in Punjab Province since 1997. This April, the army arrested then released an alleged female suicide bomber planning to attack a Church in Lahore over Easter.

Rwadari Tehreek, a social interfaith movement, has urged government officials to take tough action against terrorists and militant outfits.

The Christian Chairman of Rwadari Tehreek, Samson Salamat, and the Muslim Vice Chairman, Deedar Ahmed Mirani, called for specific measures to combat the financing of terrorist organizations. And a joint statement sought the destruction of hideouts and training centers used by militants as well as restrictions on their recruiting activities at educational institutions.

And those engaged in “hate speech” should be arrested, the interfaith group said.

Read more http://theindiansubcontinent.com/defense/item/423195-second-church-attacked-by-armed-mob-in-pakistan

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India's Neighborhood-First Diplomacy Coming Apart At The Seams

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India's Neighborhood-First Diplomacy Coming Apart At The Seams

With talk of inviting ASEAN members for the upcoming Republic Day celebrations in India, New Delhi’s diplomatic overtures toward the Southeast Asian countries are increasingly clear.

India's Neighborhood-First Diplomacy Coming Apart At The Seams

With talk of inviting ASEAN members for the upcoming Republic Day celebrations in India, New Delhi’s diplomatic overtures toward the Southeast Asian countries are increasingly clear. At the same time, with India set to look for greener pastures beyond South Asia, it’s hard to ignore the palpable fissures developing in the so-called “neighborhood-first” policy. grand initiative to increase bonhomie with neighboring countries since 2014 has become hopelessly mired in episodic yet fundamental practical diplomatic hurdles. This anxiety can be sensed through recent developments, beginning with Nepal and Bangladesh.

The victory of the “left alliance” in Nepal has been seen as a failure of Indian diplomacy in the region since 2015. rmer (and likely future) prime minister K. P. Oli’s frosty relations with the Indian government, especially during their intervention in the constitutional crisis and the five month economic blockade that followed, further intensified the already existing tension between the two countries. The left alliance is much closer to the Chinese, and especially intent on not relying on Indian investment — almost akin to King Gyanendra’s positive relationship with the Chinese authorities in 2005. i continues to evince a similar interest in opening up the economy in a big way to the Chinese.

Nepal is one existing unresolved issue; another issue concerning Bangladesh has the potential to spoil a relatively stable relationship. The Rohingya crisis has been conveniently ignored till date by both parties. However, both of them will be compelled to address the issue soon, especially with the first draft of the National Register of Citizens of Assam now on the negotiating table. The Indian government faces the dilemma of either fostering a peaceful domestic situation or protecting one of its few stable relationships with a neighbor. The possible Indian option of deportation can exacerbate this nervousness, as Bangladesh has been vocal recently in expressing their displeasure with India for not pressuring Myanmar to take back the refugees.

Apart from dealing directly with its neighbors, India has to deal with the overweening economic clout of China. Along with China’s continuing diplomatic heft across Asia, it has also significantly managed to increase its presence in the Indian Ocean. The recent China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement is a case in point. The covertness and the suddenness with which it was made public has irked the Indian establishment. Another development saw the handing over of Hambantota port in Sri Lanka to the Chinese state-run company, China Merchants Port Holdings. In its relationship with China, Sri Lanka has made it amply clear: Colombo is not relying entirely on economic assistance coming from India. In fact, there has been virtually no progress on India’s comprehensive economic partnership with Sri Lanka. India seems to have fallen back again as the Chinese FTA with Sri Lanka is underway.

The Chinese seem to be winning not just economically but also in the diplomatic race, especially when one takes into account the ambiguous position of Bhutan vis-a-vis the stationing of around 8,000 Chinese troops spread across the Chumbi valley. Bhutan, even while stating clearly their stable relationship with India, cannot afford to incense the Chinese, thus sidelining the immediate, tangible economic investment on offer. India-Bhutan relations, irrespective of the Chinese factor, have seen tensions develop in the recent past with Bhutan’s reluctance to give a green signal to the BBIN network over “environmental issues. ndia has still not been able to convince Bhutan over the larger benefits of this initiative.

In Afghanistan, the country with which India has arguably the best relationship in the region, the economic investment in the Zerang-Delaram highway will not easily translate into political cooperation, let alone a geopolitical strategic partnership. Plus, Pakistan’s Gwadar port, propelled by the increasing consolidation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, appears more commercially viable than Chabahar port in Iran, which is envisioned as a way to link India and Afghanistan’s trade. anwhile, India will struggle to make Afghanistan more politically stable. Iran, which is showing no real signs of supporting India on the geopolitical front, let alone dealing with the Afghan Taliban directly, will leave it to India to bridge this all important gap.

At the moment, the optimism surrounding the invitation to SAARC countries for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in 2014 has petered out. Some of these developments are largely of India’s own doing, while the rest emanate from a rapidly rising China. In either case, India has to re-imagine its neighborhood policy afresh.

Read more http://theindiansubcontinent.com/defense/item/423192-india-s-neighborhood-first-diplomacy-coming-apart-at-the-seams

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Deputy Russian PM Dmitry Rogozin Calls On PM Narendra Modi

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Deputy Russian PM Dmitry Rogozin Calls On PM Narendra Modi

The Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Rogozin, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday afternoon.

Prime Minister Modi warmly welcomed Rogozin on his third visit to India this year.

Deputy Russian PM Dmitry Rogozin Calls On PM Narendra Modi

The Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Rogozin, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday afternoon.

Prime Minister Modi warmly welcomed Rogozin on his third visit to India this year.

He noted with the satisfaction of the marked increase in high-level exchanges this year. Prime Minister Modi also recalled his own visit to St. Petersburg in June this year for the Annual Bilateral Summit.

Both the leaders discussed the steady expansion and diversification of bilateral ties, particularly noting the standout collaboration in the energy sector and the common pursuit of high-technology cooperation.

Rogozin also conveyed the greetings of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Prime Minister Modi, to which he heartily reciprocated.

The deputy Russian Prime Minister also called on the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Rogozin, who arrived in India today, met Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj ahead of the IRIGC-TEC meeting.

The Russian delegation comprised of senior government officials and representatives of trade and industry.

Read more http://theindiansubcontinent.com/defense/item/423191-deputy-russian-pm-dmitry-rogozin-calls-on-pm-narendra-modi

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Why The Fight For Tejas And Arjun Is Not Just About Defence Forces

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Why The Fight For Tejas And Arjun Is Not Just About Defence Forces

This one definitely isn’t the typical fight witnessed within defence circles.

Why The Fight For Tejas And Arjun Is Not Just About Defence Forces

This one definitely isn’t the typical fight witnessed within defence circles. The high-profile fracas over the Tejas fighter aircraft and the more subdued skirmish over the Arjun tank carry with it the potential to define what India is going to do over the next 50 years on its quest for growth, development and prosperity. For over a decade there has been an intriguing war fought in the byzantine maze of defence bureaucracy. Everyone who is anyone has fired salvos at someone who has had a plan or a plane to sell or anything resembling a tank to hawk. But the last one year has been different with the intensely fought battles often spilling over into the public domain. The war has now entered a decisive stage and by some quirk of fate and politics Nirmala Sitharaman is bang in the middle of it.

Over the years, India’s convoluted and snail-paced defence procurement process has thrown up several mythical and real stories of corruption involving shadowy foreign operators, Indian fixers and kickbacks to politicians and business houses. For long-time observers of India’s defence and national security landscape, stories of abrupt and mysterious changes in requirements and parameters of defence procurement are par for the course. Such stories have long passed the threshold to alarm or startle the establishment or the Indian people.

Within that context it’s tempting to interpret the ongoing battle around Tejas and Arjun as just random shrapnel spewing from a larger battle for India’s lucrative defence market. ere are sufficiently good reasons to back up such an interpretation. Every single acquisition for the armed forces from new generation assault rifles for the infantry troops to anti-tank, surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles is going through a skirmish. In a sense, then, the fight around Tejas and Arjun seems to be inextricably connected to this larger battle. India has the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest importer of arms accounting for 13% of the global arms trade. That single fact makes India’s defence market the ultimate honeypot attracting intense attention from all sorts of legal, semi-legal and blatantly illegal shadowy entities and individuals. It’s also true that India has always had an appetite, aptitude and the necessary scientific and industrial base for acquiring, operating and customising state-of-art defence technologies. The Hindustan Aeronautic Limited (HAL)-led DARIN II upgrade of deep penetration strike aircraft Jaguar and the indigenous overhaul of the T-72 tanks with better engines, thermal sights and Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) are two cases in point. In that respect, the deep interest shown by global arms majors from the US, Europe and Russia to fulfil India’s burgeoning defence needs is understandable.

The no-holds-barred fight centred on Tejas and Arjun is as much about the much needed multirole single engine fighters to boost the Indian Air Force’s dwindling squadrons and the critical need to top up the eroding armour strength of the Indian Army, especially when the possibility of a two-front war is real, as it is about India being the goose that lays the golden eggs for the global arms corporations and its ancillary industries. Yet, to confine the intricate and complex battles surrounding Tejas and Arjun to just the defence domain, as most long-time observers tend to do, is nearsighted and does not allow enough light to reach into the multidimensional implications that any decision regarding these two platforms is going to have on how India will develop its manufacturing and industrial prowess in the years to come.

Tejas is not just a fighter plane and Arjun is not just a heavy tank. They are representatives – metaphorically and materially – of the densely networked and sophisticated Indian ecosystem that has been in the making for the last 60 years. s composed of scientists, engineers and factory workers of different kinds – from material sciences, metallurgical engineering, propulsion systems to inertial guidance systems, software engineers specialising in fly-by-wire software systems and aeronautical engineering. Now, that both the platforms are mature enough to serve the country, after close to 30 years of research and development, they are seen as an existential threat to three inter-linked forces. Two of these forces are quite well known and there isn't too much of a mystery surrounding them. The first are the foreign defence companies and contractors who have managed to dominate India’s defence procurement process, especially in the last two decades. The second is composed of powerful parts of the Indian defence establishment and their informal network of middlemen, agents and liaison experts who have established a cosy, comfortable and an extremely beneficial relationship with these foreign companies and contractors. Long-time observers and veteran defence journalists know both these forces intimately and how they operate, literally both below and above the radar, and in knowing them so inadvertently tend to look no further. This leads most to conclude that everything defence and military is just that: what you procure for defence forces impacts only the state of military readiness, operational efficiency and our armed forces ability to counter hostile countries and their armed forces. But that’s not true, and not by a long stretch.

There is a third force, hidden in plain sight as it may, that has exponentially grown in size and power ever since the economic liberalisation of the 1990s. Composed of a wide variety of thought leaders, think tankers, academics, policymakers and bureaucrats, and former bureaucrats, senior journalists, Big 5 and non-Big 5 consultants – mostly trained in foreign universities, foundations, scientific and engineering academies and multilateral institutions like World Bank and International Monetary Fund – they have over the years come to occupy crucial positions in a whole host of institutions, trade bodies and civil society organisations. is seemingly amorphous group, and I use the word seemingly in all seriousness, is deeply wedded to the idea that India’s growth, progress and prosperity lie in collaborating and entering into partnerships with foreign companies, even on terms that are not conducive for India’s development and growth, global conglomerates, multilateral institutional mechanisms that promote free trade, intellectual property rights and the patents regime and generally being in line with the global economy and its concomitant geopolitics. a certain extent it is true that India’s economic growth in the last two decades has come from integrating its complicated political economy to the globalised world order where trade, services, commerce and manufacturing are all inter-related, geopolitical and financialised.

The problem arises when the idea is converted into an immutable adage, such that it’s touted as a one-size-fits-all solution for everything from eliminating poverty in India to the country becoming a strong manufacturing and industrial power. This third force for various reasons – some above board and many below the board – creates a powerful discourse that puts global market and its mechanisms at the centre of all forms of development and security, including military, defence and national security. is is where the non-military implications of Tejas and Arjun come in. It’s precisely the long-term potential and possibilities of these implications that have caused vicious attacks on both platforms. That’s why the fight about and around Tejas and Arjun is not as much about defence procurement as it is about the pathways that India chooses to use to develop its manufacturing and industrial strength internally.

In more ways than one, the fight about the decision to induct all versions of Tejas and Arjun into the armed forces and continue with developing the platforms for the future is going to be a critical make or break moment for prime minister Narendra Modi’s vision about making India stronger and a competitive country on the world stage. It somehow seems appropriate that defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman is in the right place at the right time. To that end, it’s necessary for her to understand and unpack two crucial myths that are being perpetuated by this third force. Sitharaman is a strong woman in every sense of the term, but there are two interesting aspects to her. The first is that she once worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), an organisation that is a leading advocate of a globalised model of development. The second is that she has studied quite extensively in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) acquiring a master’s degree in economics from an academic institution that is often considered the intellectual powerhouse of a world view that wants India to adopt a more self-reliant model of growth and development. Only time will tell which aspect she chooses to asserts and will be allowed to choose to assert.

The first myth that’s continuously perpetuated is that both the Tejas aircraft and the Arjun tank are sub-par systems, obsolete, underpowered and not really indigenous. This myth is perpetuated by media organisations, journalists, experts and several serving and retired bureaucrats and armed forces officials. In short, the point that’s repeatedly pounded into our collective consciousness almost day in and day out is that the Indian defence industry – notably Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Ordnance Factory Boards (OFBs), Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and its several laboratories – lacks the bite and the muscle power to protect India. e that narrative may have some grains of truth and that too in a few specific cases, it’s substantially inaccurate in the case of Tejas and Arjun. While there are many logical inconsistencies that could be pointed out that fundamentally and irrevocably break that narrative, there are two pointed instances – one of Tejas and one of Arjun – that Sitharaman might find beneficial to keep in mind whenever she listens, reads or is exposed to that dominant narrative and its thought processes in one form or another.

Read more http://theindiansubcontinent.com/defense/item/423186-why-the-fight-for-tejas-and-arjun-is-not-just-about-defence-forces

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India And The QUAD: Delhi’s Balancing Act?

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India And The QUAD: Delhi’s Balancing Act?

Last month’s meeting in Manila of officials from India, the United States, Australia and Japan, now referred to in the media as the Quad, has aroused speculation on whether this constitutes an Indian challenge to China.

India And The QUAD: Delhi’s Balancing Act?

Last month’s meeting in Manila of officials from India, the United States, Australia and Japan, now referred to in the media as the Quad, has aroused speculation on whether this constitutes an Indian challenge to China.

There has been considerable conjecture in the media and strategic circles about the so-called “Quad” or Quadrilateral, a term referring to the meeting between officials of the United States, Japan, India and Australia on 12 November 2017. eculation has been rife on whether India has finally joined the big league in opposing Chinese belligerence on various fronts. After all, a similar initiative in 2007 had come to nothing, after Australia pulled out of the grouping under Chinese pressure.

Further questions were raised by the low-key nature of the meeting. First, the four countries were represented by bureaucrats rather than political leaders. Second, no joint statement was issued; each country instead issued its own separate statement. An examination of these indicates that only the US and Australia actually used the term “quadrilateral”.

The language used by Japan, the US and Australia was largely similar and ticked almost all of eight boxes: a rules-based order in Asia, freedom of navigation and overflight, respect for international law, enhancing connectivity, maritime security, the North Korean threat, nonproliferation and terrorism. The Japanese statement did not mention connectivity, but stressed all the others.

The Indian statement was shorter and showed a degree of caution. While the issues of navigation and overflight were mentioned prominently in the statements of the other three, India preferred to use the less loaded “free and open Indo-Pacific region” in its text, dropping even the term “security” with respect to areas of cooperation.

While highlighting the need for connectivity, it forbore from use of the term “prudent financing” employed by the US, which was meant to emphasise the exploitative nature of the Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative”. s, Japan and Australia showed a similar degree of caution. Expectedly, the short text emphasised India’s central concern of terrorism and, underlining its status as a virtually accepted nuclear-armed state, highlighted the dangers of “proliferation linkages.

India showed careful footwork in standing shoulder to shoulder with the other three who are members of interconnected alliances. While the other statements committed themselves to “deepening cooperation” in the future, the Indian statement baldly stated that the “Act East” policy would be the cornerstone of its engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.

At first glance, the Indian statement seemed to be eminently reasonable, since it highlighted India’s core concerns. Terrorism has been highlighted in almost all bilateral and multilateral forums in which India participates, with this directed against Pakistan. The “proliferation linkages” referenced the evidence provided by agencies and open sources on the Pakistani-North Korean connection in the missile and nuclear fields.

This is seen as a very real danger in India since there is a suspicion that North Korea may well provide data gleaned from nuclear and missile tests to Pakistan for a price. The term “Indo-Pacific” region serves Indian interests for the moment, though there are concerns among some officials and media that India should not be drawn into a US-China tussle for influence in the Indian Ocean and Pacific.

The central point, however, is while India showed caution at this forum it has not hesitated to commit itself in bilateral documents on the very issues that it shied away from at the Quad. For instance, an India–US bilateral statement of 2015 mentioned commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight, started a Maritime Security Dialogue, and called for responsible exploitation of resources per international law, all of which could be construed as being directed at China.

The 2017 joint statement reiterated commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight, and chose to call out the need for “responsible debt financing practices” in enhancing regional connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region. at bilateral was held while the Doklam stand-off was still on. The Joint Statement with the Japanese a month after the end of the Doklam incident went even further in calling for a “rules-based order” and considerably enhanced the maritime security dialogue. tably, it also called for an alignment of Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” and India’s “Act East” policy.

Prior to this, an April 2017 Joint Statement with Australia repeated the same principles, with additional language that recognised Australia and India’s common interests in respecting the maritime legal order, called for ensuring the safety of sea lines of communication, and stressed the need for a “rules-based system”.

Incidentally, though India kept Australia out of the Malabar Exercises this year as well, joint naval exercises with it are due to be held again in 2018, the last round having taken place in 2015. It is these bilateral agreements that provide the basis for policy and action in the ground. Therefore, even if the Quad did not issue a joint statement, the outlines of policy between each of its components and India is fairly clear.

The final question is the reference to the “Act East” policy in the Quad statement. cording to Indian Ministry of External Affairs documents, the objective of the policy is to “promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Asia–Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels, thereby providing enhanced connectivity to the states of the north eastern region including Arunachal Pradesh”.

The special mention of Arunachal Pradesh is interesting in that it is an area claimed by China. Even a visit by Indian higher officials to the region leads to annoyance in Beijing. The sentiments of the Quad were recently extended to the ASEAN forum during the Indian prime minister’s speech at the ASEAN Summit, where he extended an assurance to the forum of “steady support towards achieving a rules-based regional security architecture that best attests to the region’s interests and peaceful development”.

It seems therefore that India, while refusing specific commitments that might anger China in a multilateral forum, has instead chosen a bilateral route. In other words, it has chosen to provide the Quad with teeth in a bilateral context, while staying away from a process that may be seen as a “ganging up” against China, thereby leaving the door open for better relations. erall, it has chosen an independent course based on its own needs rather than depending on a gang of four, not all of whom have proved reliable in the past.

Read more http://theindiansubcontinent.com/defense/item/422986-india-and-the-quad-delhi-s-balancing-act

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