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The Green Crescent

Major Gaurav Arya

Indian Army (Retd.)

 
 
 
When did it exactly start? No one knows. But it can be said with a degree of certainty that in the early nineties when the Pakistanis decided that JKLF or Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, a “pro-azaadi” terror outfit in Kashmir, should cease to exist, it was the beginning of Islamic Jihad in the Kashmir valley.
JKLF wanted Jammu & Kashmir to be ‘free’ from India. Pakistan applauded it. But JKLF also wanted Jammu & Kashmir to be free from Pakistan. Suddenly, JKLF leaders started getting killed.
Look at the names of the terror outfits operating in Kashmir today. You have Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al-Badr, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Hizb-ul Mujahedeen, Harkat-ul Jehad al Islami and many others. Do you see a single name with Kashmir in it? These are all Arabic names. And all along Pakistan has maintained that Kashmir “freedom movement” is an “indigenous” struggle for freedom from Indian “oppression”.
Islam does not recognize nation states. The overriding belief is that of the “Ummah”, the global Islamic brotherhood, that all Muslims irrespective of the country they inhabit, are brothers bound by a common faith. The nation is incidental. Faith is supreme.
From the Pakistani perspective, ‘azaadi’ for Kashmir would be the legitimate cover. That would help lend credibility in the eyes of the west. But the soul, deep inside, would always be violent Islamic Jihad.
When a Pakistani head of state goes to the United Nations, the speech is always about the ‘freedom struggle’ in Kashmir. Recently, Burhan Wani has been dragged out of his grave to bear witness to India’s blatant violation of all things fundamentally human. But go on the streets of Srinagar and you see something very different. During violent stage-managed protests, there are no Kashmiri flags being waved. Incidentally, Kashmir is the only Indian state with its own flag, constitution and penal code. It has more ‘azaadi’ than all the other Indian states combined. What you see is a sea of ISIS flags with a black background and Quranic inscriptions. And, you see the flags of the chief sponsor, Pakistan.
Where is the Kashmiri flag?
The truth is that the first Kashmiri who waves the Kashmiri flag will be floating in the Jhelum, face down. That is what happened to the JKLF.
Increasingly, what you hear from the loudspeakers in mosques after Friday prayers is a script, which is more Arabic in spirit, than Kashmiri. The sermons discuss what is happening in Syria, Palestine, Myanmar and Yemen. There is an incessant one-way flow of disinformation, which thrives on those two factors so popular in the world of political Islam – victimhood and conspiracy.
Tarek Fateh and I were panelists on a discussion at a TV studio and the show went on air, the voice in the background informing viewers about how a Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Bahadur Ali had been charge sheeted by the NIA. The terrorist’s confessional statement was played. For a few seconds, Bahadur Ali’s face was still, and then he started speaking. The terrorist, who had come into Kashmir to “kill as many Hindus as I could”, started confessing in chaste Punjabi, the lingua franca of much of Pakistan.
Almost all infiltrating terrorists caught by security forces in Kashmir speak mostly Punjabi. Some speak Pashto. A terrorist speaking in Kashmiri is yet to be our guest.
Sudanese, Lebanese and Afghan terrorists been eliminated in Kashmir. This is a multi-national Islamic terror franchise.
These terrorists have scant knowledge of the Kashmir ‘dispute’ or the local ebbs and flows. This is important because what else could be the motivation of a young man who hails from rural Pakistan, to infiltrate into India? He enters India with the certain knowledge that he will come face to face with the Indian Army, and the encounter will be entirely brief and one-sided.
These young men trained and equipped by Lashkar and Jaish, come not to ‘free’ Kashmir. They come to die for the supposed glory of Islam. This is amongst the two large-scale scams perpetrated by the Pakistan Army, the other being real estate.
Pakistan knows that if the Kashmir issue becomes pan-Islamic, it will automatically be internationalized. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), that sub-optimal and geriatric body of 57 Muslim states, most of them tin pot dictatorships and sundry kingdoms, will need little persuasion to raise the Kashmir bogey at every turn of the road. They cannot give freedom and democracy to their own people. The least they can do is give opium. And what better opium than religion? Karl Marx was right.
When was the last time you heard a Kashmiri politician on TV discussing anything else apart from the “Kashmir issue”? When was the last time roads, education, health and electricity were important to the Kashmiri politician?
Kashmir will continue to burn because the local leaders and their sponsors in Pakistan want it to burn. A burning Kashmir means money, fame and instant celebrity hood. It is a cash cow. If a burning Kashmir means personal profit, the last thing they would want is Kashmir to be peaceful. I know it’s cruel. But it’s also logical.
Kashmir ticks all the boxes – money, religion, fame and leadership. Peace? Who wants peace in a state where blood is profit?
Winters in India always bring the sad news of people dying in ‘cold waves’ in UP, MP and Rajasthan. But no one dies of a cold wave in Jammu & Kashmir, the coldest state in India. Farmers commit suicide in Maharashtra because of their inability to pay back loans and famine. But in spite of frequent “shutter-downs” and ‘hartals’ in Kashmir, almost a weekly feature when business is totally shut down, no one commits suicide.
Where is all this money coming from? It is not just simply our central government giving funds to Kashmir. The central government gives funds to every state.
Today, there are more men with skullcaps in Kashmir, than ever before. Girls riding scooters have been threatened with acid attacks. Say “Khuda Hafiz” in downtown Srinagar, and you stand to be ticked off. The correct greeting, we are told, is “Allah Hafiz”. Khuda is secular. Allah is the God of the Ummah.
Fading memory takes me back to Lucknow, where as a child I met an old Muslim man who said to me “Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil ‘alamin”.All praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds. Allah is the “rabb” of all the worlds. He is not “rabbil’ Muslimin”, or “rabb” of the Muslims alone.
The word Allah predates Islam. Before Islam was revealed, the pagans who inhabited Mecca worshipped Allah. The word “Allah” was carried forward after Archangel Gabriel revealed the Quran to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
The word Allah itself is not a Muslim word. It is a secular word, which simply means God in Arabic. It was co-opted by the Muslim clergy later to mean God of the Muslims alone. It was co-opted by force.
They are now doing the same with Kashmir.
 

The Ripple Effect

Major Gaurav Arya

Indian Army (Retd.)

 
 
 
In the last 48 hours, the Indian Army has lost 7 brave hearts at Nagrota. It is with deep grief, immense helplessness and cold anger that I tell you today; we will lose many more, unless we realize that our response to Pakistan is woefully short of effective, and altogether wrong. We are applying Band-Aid, where chemotherapy is urgently needed. We are solving the wrong problem.
I write every week on this. And at least 3-4 times a week I go on National TV and share this anger and helplessness with my countrymen. For my sins, innumerable though they may be, I am called a warmonger. Time and again, I am told that I have a fascination for human blood. And, some of them who are a little kinder say that I am afraid of peace.
So I shrug my shoulders and go into this dark corner where it is a little quieter and the demons, a little benign.
The next day my phone rings again and the voice from the studio says, “Sir, can you join us at 6 pm, 7:30 pm, 9 pm? There has been another attack”.
The same cacophony, the same helplessness.
I have diplomats, spokespersons of political parties and an odd journalist as co-panelists. Lights, camera, action…let the games begin. So timid are we, that we can’t even be aggressive in speech, let alone in action. Words are spoken with emphasis on that great Indian virtue, “maturity”. Turning the other cheek is a sign of graciousness.
“Let us talk to Pakistan. After all we were the same country 69 years back”, a former diplomat says. He actually wants to say that the life of a soldier is cheap.
The next day I get a call from an army friend giving me an address. We have to go and pay respects to a fallen brother officer. We reach Delhi Cantt, and climb up to this small apartment on the first floor. It is neat, freshly whitewashed not more than a week back. The young widow is sitting in a corner. The two children look bewildered; they have never seen so many people in their house. Their mother just stares at the wall, still in shock, unable to talk. Army wives huddle in a corner. “She must cry. Let her vent”, they say. They know what they are saying. They have been through this many times. They take the young widow to a room and hug her. They speak to her in soft tones, never leaving her alone for a second. They are very gentle, very kind. Suddenly, there is a guttural scream of immense pain, of a shattered heart and a broken home. Loud wailing sounds of grief rush out from the room. It is like a physical force.
There is nothing to say. I ask my friend to come down stairs. He lights up a cigarette; anything to distract him from the grief unfolding upstairs. I stare at a lizard on the wall. There is something I am trying to remember. What is it? Aah yes. “Let us talk to Pakistan. After all we were the same country 69 years back”, I remember the talk-show diplomat; polished, suave with a clipped South Delhi accent. C’est la vie.
Was there a security breach in Nagrota? Yes, there was. Is the security at the army base to blame? Yes, it is. Having got that out of the way let me address a few questions that have been floating in the social media since the last two nights.
Many armchair warriors have been quick to blame the army, with a caveat “I respect the army and the martyrs but someone must pay for these lapses. There must be accountability”. There is an almost dismissive anger; the type a CEO would cower the head of sales with, for not having met targets. Well, counter insurgency under a nuclear overhang is a bit more complicated than selling toothpaste.
The Pathankot Air Force base was attacked on 2 January 2016. The Government of India took serious note of the terror attack and formed a high-powered committee under the leadership of Lt. Gen. (Retd) Philip Campose.
It comprised of representatives of all the three services and also a representative of the Indian Army’s Military Operations branch. The committee visited multiple locations of the Army, Navy and Air Force across India. In May 2016 the committee submitted a detailed report addressing the lacuna in security across military installations. The report was called “The Lt. Gen. Philip Campose Committee Report”, and was submitted to the Ministry of Defence.
The report is gathering dust on the table of some faceless bureaucrat in the Raksha Mantralaya. At least that is my presumption, because it has not been acted upon yet.
The report deals with multiple facets of security of installations and amongst other things, biometric security, raising of walls, fences, e-fences, CCTV cameras, movement triggered cameras, QRTs (quick reaction teams), equipment for soldiers, laser walls, Night Vision Devices, watch towers and a slew of other measures like movement protocol, threat perception management, SOPs, training, periodic audit etc. It is an exhaustive report, and perhaps the most comprehensive audit of security of defence installations in India. And what I have written here, as part of the report is not even a third of what the report recommends. I do not have access to the report, since it is designated “SECRET”, for obvious reasons. Certain parts were discussed with the media.
Lt. Gen. (Retd) Philip Campose was Vice Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. It’s a pretty rarified space and only the best of the best get that far. A soldier and thinker par excellence, Lt. Gen. Campose put his heart and soul into that report. He has also identified critical shortages in inventory and weaponry. That report must be adopted in letter and spirit, if we want to sincerely pay homage to our martyrs. And it must be adopted immediately.
Apart from security of military bases, it is important to understand that we are also facing critical equipment and ammunition shortage, which has a direct bearing on the security of our installations.
It is important to have aircraft carriers, fighter jets and artillery guns. It is also equally important to give the infantry soldier the best equipment money can buy. Understand this; you can have space age weaponry but in the end, it is the infantryman who will wade ankle deep in blood, much of it his own. It is the infantryman who will cross the Line of Control, who will walk through minefields and who will charge into enemy machine gun fire.
This is the truth of war. You cannot win without the infantry. Period. We need bulletproof jackets, proper helmets and better assault rifles, amongst other things.
The government has fast-tracked procurement of defence equipment but equipping a modern army is a continuous exercise. The last three decades have been a sledgehammer blow to the armed forces. It was yesterday, 30 November 2016 that we signed a deal for the purchase 145 medium artillery guns much needed on the China border. We should have signed this deal two decades back. There are hundreds of such war stores that have not been procured for the past two decades due to government apathy and bureaucratic incompetence.
We can prepare for a conventional war but the Pakistan Army has neither the funds, nor the willingness to engage in a conventional war. Apart from the fact that they have lost every war that they fought with India, the Pakistan Army’s generals are in a cushy space. They live lives that the Nawabs of Awadh would have been envious of. Why rock the boat? Terrorism is a cheap alternative. The Pakistan Army does not suffer, investment is low, there is plausible deniability and life goes on as usual. Perfect, isn’t it?
What is the solution to our terror problem and how can we stop Pakistan sponsored terrorists from launching attacks on Indian soil? The answer lies in what Ajit Doval has been advocating all these years, and towards which we have now been moving – offensive defence. Questions thrown up by asymmetrical warfare cannot be answered by a conventional mindset.
We have been killing terrorists since 1989, and it has not helped. It has changed nothing because the people we target are foot soldiers of Jihad. They are expendable. You can kill thousands more and they will just keep coming.
If you want to be safe, you have to target the fountainhead of terror, the Pakistan Army. And unless you do that, these attacks will not stop. You can have the best security systems in the world and someone will find a way to compromise them. American bases in Afghanistan are regularly attacked. US bases in Iraq were attacked, too. And before you quote Israel’s example of security seriousness, let me tell you that Israel has not fought a war with another nuclear weapons state or another highly professional army. Its enemies have always been tier two forces. Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq; name your foe. They wont last two days against the Indian Army.
The fountainhead of terror is the Pakistan Army. It is the officer corps that we must target. We do not need to use our army. Pakistan is actually an armory that looks like a nation and is floating in weapons. It is full of young men who know no other trade apart from killing. Most of them have no specific ideology. Dollars are good enough.
Pakistan Army’s V Corps (5 Corps) is stationed in Karachi. It has approximately 60,000 men, including officers. Karachi is the most violent city in Asia and it is amongst the “most armed” cities in the world. It has a violent mixture of Mohajirs, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Baloch and Kashmiris. It is an urban melting pot of armed and violent militia. It is also the commercial capital of Pakistan. Perfect.
Target killers can be had for hire in Karachi. What we must do is route money via offshore accounts. These killers will then target Pakistani Army officers in Karachi, specifically officers of 5 Corps. They will be targeted in market places and malls, outside restaurants and in roadside cafes. As we keep wiring money, Pakistan Army will keep losing officers.
Once the Karachi plan is successful, it can be rolled out in Quetta and Lahore. Peshawar will follow.
These Pakistani killers will not target infrastructure or civilians. They will not target innocents. They will simply locate, engage and eliminate any Pakistani Army, Navy or Air Force officer who steps out of the cantonment area. If the officer is moving with bodyguards, a sniper must take him out. An unseen enemy is far more terrifying than a known quantity.
I repeat – ZERO targeting of civilians, non-combatants and innocents. These are not terror strikes. These are “surgical” targeted killings of Pakistan defence forces’ officers.
India just bought 36 Rafale fighter jets at a total cost of USD 8.7 billion. We need these jets, but we may never use them in combat. Now imagine if we had bought just 35 jets, and put away the funds for one fighter jet into the program that I have mentioned above.
The Pakistan Army is an officer led army. The loss of an officer has a horrendous impact on morale. Once morale is shattered, nothing can compensate. That is what the Pakistan Army is doing to us. And that is what we must do to them.
Allow me to put it simply; should we make up our minds, we have the capacity to cause ten times more damage to Pakistan that they are causing us. In the end, asymmetrical warfare is also a function of money.
Our annual defence budget is about USD 40 billion. Just 1% of that can seriously denude Pakistan Army’s will to fight. It can shatter morale. And that is worth the entire fleet of F-16s that Pakistan is so proud of.
For too long we have been fighting on our own soil. It is now time to take war to the streets of Pakistan.
It is not enough that Pakistan bleeds. It must start hemorrhaging. And that must happen today.
 

Taming the Dragon

Major Gaurav Arya

Indian Army (Retd.)

 
 
 

All warfare is based on deception – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The Middle Kingdom has many achievements to its name, paper and gunpowder the most well known. It has been able to project an image of being inscrutable, tough, opaque and absolutely unwilling to entertain a contrary narrative. All this is true, but also true is the fact that the Chinese are more accepting of dictatorial tendencies. This faceless and gigantic mass of humanity has very little tradition of argument or balance, and absolutely no tradition of freethinking. Brilliant, hardworking and disciplined they are; consensual they are not.
China severely restricts opinion, and any opinion contrary to what the politburo deems appropriate, may find you in ‘correctional facilities’, where you will be ‘gently educated’ about how you must think. Many people do not return home after a few sessions of this ‘gentle education’.
China has the largest standing army in the world. It has the second largest economy. It is the most populous nation on earth and is a nuclear power, which occupies a pride of place on the United Nations Security Council. It has all the prerequisites of a global superpower.
And yet, China is afraid of social media.
This is why Twitter, Google, YouTube, WhatsApp and Facebook are banned in China. The Chinese government gives you alternatives, all in Chinese, and all under heavy surveillance by the China’s infamous Ministry of State Security (MSS), their premier intelligence agency.
And that begs the question; what is it about the Chinese political structure that is so shaky?
Democracy, as a workable solution, is far from perfect. But warts and all, it is still the best system of governance the world has ever seen. India took a serious leap of faith when it adopted democracy after independence. Our founding fathers showed tremendous vision. Democracy had very little going for it in the 1940s. While America was great and Britain was a superpower, democracy had thrown up luminaries like Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler. Churchill wanted to keep India under subjugation. Hitler had similar views about the entire world.
China, on the other hand, chose the path of Mao Tse Tung. There is an apocryphal story about farmers complaining to Mao about sparrows eating grain and damaging the harvest. Mao decreed that all sparrows be killed. So, all sparrows were killed. But sparrows also eat insects that damage crops. This damaged the local ecosystem and was one of the leading reasons for massive crop failure.
In 1957, Chairman Mao launched the Great Leap Forward, a program to catapult China into the league of developed nations through rapid industrialization and collectivization. 20 to 45 million people died due to famine and other forms of artificially inflicted violence.
Hitler was responsible for as many deaths, both civilian and military; he is globally reviled, and rightly so. An argument can be made that while Hitler was pure and distilled evil; he was responsible for deaths of foreigners in a global war, apart from deaths of Jews, gypsies and other Nazi-proclaimed so-called “undesirables” within Germany. While there is no accurate figure available, Hitler is held responsible for approximately 35 million deaths.
Josef Stalin, through his purges and executions, imprisonment in gulags and forced labor was responsible for approximately 45 million deaths.
Lets look at how their nations remember them.
The Germans are ashamed of their past and abhor the very name of Hitler. The Russians have turned capitalist and Stalin is a somewhat uncomfortable reminder of their bloody past. The Chinese worship Chairman Mao.
China’s methods have changed, not the mindset. Mao caused millions to die because he wanted to rapidly industrialize China. Millions more are being severely compromised, as China races frantically to grab global pole position. China has changed the entire demography of Tibet, with regular and systematic injection of Han Chinese into the plateau. Han males marry Tibetan females. The child is loyal to China, the Chinese being famously patriarchal.
The Uighur cant pray or fast during Ramzan. Maulvis are made to dance to Chinese music during the holy days. Women wearing hijab are cautioned. Chinese authorities even have a problem with the Uighur fascination with curd. I will let that pass; I simply don’t know how to address the issue of national security being threatened by Chinese Muslims eating curd.
If curd threatens China, did Twitter ever stand a chance?
All of us have seen automobile advertisements in India, with companies claiming a particular mileage, often with the caveat “under test conditions”. This simply means that given perfect conditions, the mileage will be x. But that’s not how automobiles behave in the real world, do they? That’s China for you – always performing “under test conditions”. Every thing is government controlled, including “market forces”.
Here is a list of the top 20 Chinese companies, by revenuehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_Chinese_companies. You will note that the majority of the companies are state owned. In the Chinese context it means that business is guaranteed by the state. And, the real business of the state is business.
Lifan, Loncin, Zongshen, Jialing and Qingqi – these are the top motorcycle brands in China, each valued at a billion dollars, or less. And you, my dear friend, have in all probability, never heard of any of them. Not unless you are an importer of Chinese motorcycles or motorcycle parts.
The point I am trying to make is that the entire story about the Chinese economic miracle is very real, but it is also synthetically manufactured, much like a top athlete whose competitors are chosen by a common coach. The winner is decided before the race starts.
What made China a global financial powerhouse? The 3 W’s – wisdom, will and the whip – formed the superhighway on which China’s car is zooming, albeit a bit slowly now; the wisdom of the government, the will of the Communist party and whip of the state when the citizens did not fall in line.
There are many pillars that uphold the Chinese edifice. However, the two most critical are the export-oriented economy and suppression of free will. Both are joined at the hip and cannot exist without the other.
As of now, an India-China war is an absolute improbability. If, God forbid, we do go to war (and there are no reasons why we should), we can make it extremely expensive for China to wage war, but we cannot defeat China. Neither can China defeat us. It will be a terribly expensive stalemate for both sides.
Boycotting Chinese goods is more of a moral message that hardly translates into dollars of any level of inconvenience.
If we are to tame the dragon, we must hit the dragon where it hurts.
One, we must realize that even the high internal consumption within China is not unrelated to its earnings from export. China is an export-driven economy. It invents or creates nothing new. Think of it as a massive photocopying shop. Nothing is original.
If India makes infrastructure development and creation of a manufacturing ecosystem a national priority, China will bleed. If India works very closely with Vietnam, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, Cambodia and Philippines, and builds a very close “special relationship”, China will start hemorrhaging. The day we together achieve even half the manufacturing scale of China at local costs, their story will be more or less over.
The Chinese economy is beginning to slow down. For the past two decades, it was (still is) the engine of global growth, but it left bitterness in its wake. And when Donald Trump takes issue with China about jobs and trade balance, he is not factually incorrect. The world has a problem with China, but has no alternative. Yet.
We can be that alternative, or at least lead it. India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Philippines are in a straight line. Taiwan is up North from Philippines. This is a manufacturing belt. Together, it is a powerhouse. Many of these countries have serious problems with China. Japan is a technology powerhouse and a one time manufacturing hub. It still is in many ways globally relevant. The differences between Japanese and Chinese products are many but one feature stands out. Japanese products are global brands. The top motorcycle manufacturers in Japan are – Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda and Kawasaki. And you, dear reader, have heard of all these brands.
The need of the hour is a TG7 (Trade Group 7) comprising of all these countries, coming together to form an alternative to China. We must share funding, technology and have mutually inclusive tax regimes. Let us have better flight connectivity, priority berths at ports and infrastructure sharing. Let us have funding a low interest rates and a land bank available to kick start manufacturing. And call charges, which are rock bottom. Are all these things easy? No. Not by a long shot. But this is what must be done. It is doable.
This is war by other means.
China’s real Achilles foot is free will. Any expression of free will is treated as an attack on the sovereignty of China. It is not just Uighur who are oppressed. The Han Chinese is a little better off. Many of you will remember the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989. The Chinese government did not take very kindly to its citizens, especially students, demanding democracy, economic reform and end to political corruption. All that the Chinese people were asking was for them to be able to choose their own leaders and overthrow corrupt ones out; something that we take for granted in India.
The Communist Party of China rolled out battle tanks on the streets of Beijing. Between a few hundred and a thousand protesters were killed and thousands were hunted down and imprisoned. The family members of pro-democracy protestors were systematically persecuted. The revolt spread to 400 cities and towns across China before it was brutally stamped out.
There are periodic protests in Hong Kong even today. Very recently, a few elected legislators of Hong Kong refused to take an oath of loyalty to China and instead floated banners, which proclaimed, “Hong Kong is not China”.
This is what India must take advantage of, this Chinese discomfort with democracy. Give a few thousand Indian sim cards to Chinese people on the Indo-China border, sim cards that allow access to Twitter and Facebook on Indian telecom networks. Let the Chinese folks discuss whatever it is that Chinese folks discuss when they are allowed to. That will scare China more than a mountain division. China is an ideological state. Only an idea can beat an idea.
Why have we forgotten the Dalai Lama, the original pinprick in China’s side? The Dalai Lama has a very influential fan following across the world. From opinion makers to Hollywood, from the US State Department to the EU Parliament, his is a respected voice. India must facilitate his travel and exposure at an international level. Let him tell stories of violence and genocide in Tibet.
Money is respected and that is exactly why no one points out that China is not a democracy, and has a terrible human rights record. If the world can single out Pakistan, North Korea and Cuba, why should China answer to different standards? But it does. Unfortunate though it may be, we must understand that it is temporary.
You may say, “China will be upset”. Well, China will always be upset with someone or the other about something or the other. Its intentions are hegemonic. It covets Arunachal Pradesh. It covets trade routes and the South China Sea. It covets what Japan already has. In short, China wants to expand geography. For that it needs influence and military power, which needs money, which in turn needs trade. And China’s growth hinges mainly upon its ability to contract manufacture at basement rates.
In a population of 1.5 billion people, in a fast growing hard-core capitalist (and in theory communist) nation, there is bound to be unequal growth and disquiet. Democracy is that valve that allows people to let off steam, so that the pressure cooker does not explode. China has no democracy and the pressure cooker is heating up. Economic superstardom has ensured that the people are kept quiet; the economic miracle is visible and the moral aspirations of the people have been suppressed. But for how long?
To question is human. And Baidu, China’s answer to Google, will not answer. If you are in China, try to search for “Tiananmen Square” using Baidu. Let me make it simpler for you. Go to Baidu and type “democracy in China” and press ENTER. Some experiences are instructive.
When TG7 offers the world an alternate to China’s manufacturing Goliath, the dollar fuelled submission to, and acceptance of, absence of democracy in China will start coming apart at the seams.
The earlier acceptance amongst the Chinese of the communist party’s totalitarian ways was due to ideology and fear. After Tiananmen Square, it is money and fear. Fear alone is not enough to keep men in line. Dollars are a better argument. And together, they are unbeatable. But they are unbeatable only till the time both are holding up.
TG7 will shift the center of gravity. It will gently nudge the world towards an alternative narrative. And it will nudge China towards an era when fear was the only glue holding the Middle Kingdom together; an era when Chairman Mao was ordering the killing of sparrows.
That is when the world will realize that the dragon was always a mythical creature.
And then the dragon will exist only in folklore.
 

Army Deserves Break from Headlines

Lt. Gen K J Singh, PVSM, AVSM(Bar)

Indian Army Officer(Retd.)

 
 
 
Last week, I had a group of visitors, retired Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs), who asked me a rather disturbing question, “Why is Fauj (Armed Forces) so much in news? Their next question was even more perplexing: “How did Army become so corrupt that it has to launch a special drive to root out corruption?” The same debate has been raging on WhatsApp and other social media channels with veterans in hyperactive fastest-finger mode.
The core issue that needs to be addressed is: Does the Army need to be so much in the headlines? In this case, Army doesn’t generically include the other two Services, Air Force and Navy, who enjoy considerable anonymity and have developed a better mechanism to manage their exposure.
While the public has a right to know about Armed Forces and even hold it accountable, it needs to be restricted to macro issues. Is it fair to start nitpicking and make every small issue a headline and TV debate? In this process, we create what the Americans call, ‘Strategic Corporals’, caught in a maelstrom unleashed by TRP hunters. While the world moves on, they remain a case study in perpetuity stripped of their privacy. Maj Gogoi’s case could well be an example of this.
I am reminded of a story narrated by a journalist, in his younger days. His editor chided him when he was taking a snap of an over-turned Army vehicle. The editorial advice was, vehicles meet with such mishaps and the Army is fairly ruthless in dealing with such cases. Look for a better story.
Unfortunately, we have a number of reporters, who are ‘beacon journalists’ with a welcome flasher for disgruntled elements. Consequently, all news on disciplinary proceedings meant for restricted circulation, reaches them and this lazy breed milks headlines out of these. What they forget is that Army has a ‘court-martial’ syndrome – the moment an enquiry starts, the person is presumed guilty, ostracised and abandoned by system.
Responsible journalism should avoid breaching the privacy of affected officers till charges are framed and culpability is prima-facie established. Major blame rests with ‘legal eagles’, who leak such stories and to some extent petty minded officers, bent upon vitiating the atmosphere to further their personal agendas. Like charity, correctives begin at home and the Army has to look within first, as this category of news keeps the Army in dubious headlines.
Another related species is, ‘HMV’, named after now extinct, music company, ‘His Masters’ Voice’. They contribute maximum to promoting coteries in Army and keeping alive the wars that continue to rage between cliques. In this case, the blame really lies with their controllers, who need to reflect on their pettiness, which is eroding the credibility of Armed Forces and senior appointments. Ironically, their relevance is due to their stint in those very exalted slots.
Just to put it bluntly, why and for how long should a former incumbent continue to lead a vilification campaign against his successors and vice versa? This trend is unique to Army, whereas in civil services, they collectively stand up for each other, notwithstanding, the fact that Army has taught this virtue to others.
Media does not even realise the kind of damage they do by their cavalier approach on matters military. A medically boarded out Army officer duly appointed and serving in state civil services continues to be tagged as ‘Fauji’, just to add spice. A Merchant Navy official is described as a Naval officer and defaulters of Central Armed Police Forces are routinely termed as army personnel.
Many reports routinely describe JCOs and even Non Commissioned Officers as officers to make the news more catchy. Recently, many TV channels and newspapers mentioned hardcore military stations like Chandimandir and Hisar as Cantonments and nor as military stations; a sad commentary on quality of research.
It is universally agreed that corruption in Army has always remained well below the threshold due to a zero tolerance policy. It will be good if enterprising journalists take up the challenge of analysing comparative timeframes and punishments meted out. While Army officers are singled out and hounded at bullet train speed, politicians and bureaucrats are allowed to go scot free. What is worse is bureaucrats involved get promoted and even secure post retirement sinecures. A differentiated sense of accountability is demoralising and breeds dissatisfaction.
Every Chief has an unfettered privilege to strive and further improve the system, in fact aim for absolute zero corruption but the messaging needs to be nuanced and refined. It should not be allowed to spin out of control to cast aspersions and make sweeping judgments on prevailing system.
A word of caution, some Army traditions and institutions appear to be ostentatious but are a part of our heritage and in our urge to simplify, we should remain pragmatic and not destroy those which have stood the test of time. Most comparable facilities for bureaucrats and politicians are run on five star norms albeit on outsourced basis and are highly subsidised. Army at least endeavours to provide high quality service, on cost effective basis and in the process trains its personnel in soft skills. The only difference is that bureaucrats, who manage civilian facilities know nitty gritty of rules and ensure the best deal for themselves.
Veterans should not worry too much as the Army remains in good health and like all generations, this one too is entitled to strive for perfection, so good luck to them. Timely reassurance has come from research conducted by Aziz Premji University and Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. The Army has once again attained ‘numero uno’ status with 77% approval rating for ‘effective trust’ with a huge differential of 23% over the Supreme Court; the next one on the ladder. It is high time, media also trusts the most trusted and gives Army a well-deserved break from headlines. They have the systems and will power to retain their ‘mojo’.
 

Planning for Capability Building

Lt. Gen K J Singh, PVSM, AVSM(Bar)

Indian Army Officer(Retd.)

 
 
 
Capability building is a complex and tedious exercise that is based on detailed planning leading to formulation of service specific plans like Army plan aggregating to Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), which includes all three Services. The next logical step is to get the draft plan approved by Cabinet Committee for Political Affairs (CCPA)/ Cabinet Committee for Security (CCS). While Armed Forces never slip up in producing their plans, only three such endeavours have got the requisite approval.
Synchronisation of Defence Planning as co-terminus with national plans was done with 6th plan (1980-85). Although, linkage between them remains ambiguous as no limiting financial figures are indicated to the Defence planners. Even desired capabilities and envisaged threats are stated in very generalised terms rather than clear-cut strategic guidelines. 6th and 7th plan (1985-90) were approved by CCPA. Commitment having ebbed, 8th plan remained in a limbo and 9th plan was got approved by only CCS. Exercise to seek approval for 11th plan was a protracted and frustrating dialogue war between Defence and Finance Ministries leading to it being abandoned as a lost cause like many other such earlier plans. It is perplexing that such deliberations don’t look at possibilities of part and interim approvals.
As Additional Director Perspective Planning, I had the onerous responsibility to steer formulation of 12th Defence Plan to cover period from 2012 to 2017. While formulating such plans it is imperative to carry out a review of last plan. The thing that stares you in the face is what is termed as ‘slippages’ or shortfalls. When plotted graphically they seem to depict skyscrapers vying with each other to rise to dizzy heights. With great difficulty, I motivated my team and we produced a pragmatic plan. Within Army, planning is basically balancing competitive demands of line directorates like Infantry, Artillery, Mechanised Forces etc.
Currently, key stakeholders, Regional Commands are included only in consultation and information loop. However, this may have to change with the establishment of integrated Theatre Commands.
The next challenge was to put it through the Finance Ministry but such was the bitter aftertaste of 11th plan experience that bureaucrats told us in jest it may be better to send it anywhere but Finance Ministry for concurrence. MOD was already caught in a maelstrom generated by compromising of infamous communication on ‘hollowness’, where a DO letter by COAS addressed to PM had got leaked and it had for the first time laid bare the critical deficiencies as a compiled list. This lead to introduction of a new term, ‘hollowness’, which is now regular and much-used jargon.
As a via media and to signal full backing of MOD, 11th plan was approved by Defence Acquisition Council on 2nd April 2012, on the very first Monday of financial year. Looking back and taking state of slippages combined with the recent statement of VCOAS to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence (PSCD), it may have been more apt if the plan had been approved on All Fools Day.
Consequent to this famous DO, we had to go through a similar invocation by PSCD. This Parliamentary committee lead by Hon’ble Satpal Maharaj had many active MPs like Manish Tewari, Owaisi, Navin Jindal, Madhvender Singh, just to name a few. Armed Forces were in the firing line but those, who are constitutionally mandated as per Allocation of Business Rules for defence preparedness and enjoy overriding powers were smiling and have since been rewarded with sinecures of constitutional appointments and plum assignments.
In the corporate world, each one of them would have got a pink slip and prolonged banishment. Even if it seems harsh, a system without accountability and which promotes risk averse filibustering, above all with no reward for performance defies all management principles and is unlikely to succeed. Even worse, all reforms and reviews are lead by failed in-house experts rather than a professional consultancy.
We were assured by Committee and Ministry that financial allocations will not be allowed to impair operational preparedness of Armed Forces and media was flooded with such assurances. Accordingly, a slew of measures including prioritisation, fast-tracking and holistic review of procurement procedures were undertaken. There was a flood of Acceptance of Necessity (AONs), which generate a false sense of belief that item is about to be inducted.
In fact, our procurement process is indeed a very sad litany of abandoned AONs and foreclosed procurement cases. Indian Navy with committed liabilities in approved long-term projects is the only exception. Unfortunately, the initial focus and commitment at least in case of Army fizzled out too soon after Parliamentary Committee hearing despite assurances at all levels.
Meanwhile, planning cycle continued and 13th Defence plan (2017-22) was formulated with an allocation of Rs 26,83,924 crore for the Armed Forces. This includes Rs 13,95,271 crore under the revenue segment and the remainder for modernisation or what is referred to as capital expenditure. These figures do not include anticipated expenditure for Defence Research & Development Organisation, Ordnance Factories, Coast Guard, Border Roads Organisation, and many other associated organisations, as well as miscellaneous activities, carried out under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Above all, it does not include the funds required to pay out defence pensions. The total allocation for these aforesaid organisations, activities and defence pensions adds up to Rs 1,36,746.10 crore for the year 2017-18, with defence pensions alone accounting for Rs 85,737.31 crore. As a ballpark figure and excluding any increase like OROP in the coming years, the requirement for the plan period approximates to Rs 6,83,730.50 crore. Once again total approximate requirement of Armed Forces, other organisations and defence pensions would thus add up to Rs 33,67,654.50 crore. We are already in the second year of the plan without any approval and only abiding realities are inadequate allocations, slippages and worsening state of equipment and ammunition.
Six years down the line, our ammunition stocks are well below revised and reduced mandated scale of ten days of warfighting. VCOAS also informed recent Parliamentary Committee hearing that our mix of equipment instead of ideal 30:40:30 (Modern, Current and Ageing) has become 8:24:68. It may be worthwhile to place on record the fact that a recent welcome corrective has brought down earlier impractical ammunition stocking levels from 40 days intense warfighting scale to 21 days and now in the interim to 10 days stock, yet we are short and in some cases down to 3 days of stocking.
As per media reports, deliberations at Defence Planning Group (DPG) have asked Armed Forces to build up stocks of ammunition to mandated ten days. It is a welcome initiative that arms procurement in future will be linked to assured supply of ammunition and it will be ensured that the Original Equipment Manufacturer will set up ammunition production facility with complete Transfer of Technology (TOT).
It will be pertinent to include a few important caveats. Firstly, all procurements should factor ‘life cycle support’ with assured serviceability rates, like in case of proposed supply of Rafael aircrafts. This would mean setting up of Maintenance Repair Operation (MRO) hubs and warehousing of critical spares. Ammunition TOT has to be genuine and complete unlike Russian APFSDS manufacture of 90s, where yearly supply of 35,000 Core Penetrators ex Russia really amounted to capped licensed production. Each equipment should come with simulation package and low-cost training ammunition like practice ammunition for 105 mm T-55 and Vijayanta tanks.
Recently constituted DPG should consider an urgent review of defence plans and lay down a strategy to make up the ‘critical hollowness’ in a time-bound manner. Unlike all previous such lists, let this listing be small and tailored to available funds. To start with basic weapons (rifles) and protection equipment (bulletproof jackets and headgear) for hybrid war for specified number of troops in combat zone, helicopters along with stocks of specified ammunition should be procured.
It will be worthwhile to form an empowered Task Force with committed non-lapsable funds backed up by special liberal ISRO type of pragmatic procedures, which ensure procurement. It will also be pertinent that in future defence planners are given an idea of possible fund allocations and desired capabilities in specific terms like – Should we prepare to fight two and half front war? Are we to maintain ‘punitive deterrence’ against Pak and ‘credible deterrence’ against China? More importantly, specifics in terms of likely duration of war, effects desired and punishment that we are prepared to withstand should be stipulated.
We need to find answer to an eternal enigma, will we continue with impractical and emotive diktat of no loss of territory or accept pragmatic formulation of tallying of net specified gains at the end of war? Another pertinent query that defence planners should address is scope and manifestation of collusivity between our adversaries. As a macro direction and in long-term, it will be good to revisit ‘threat vs capability based’ planning, a conundrum that bedevils our defence planners. In the interim, it appears that a via media of ‘effects-based’ planning, more of an operational ‘jugaad’ that addresses our critical hollowness, builds up essential infrastructure and keeps our deterrence inventory including surgical strike capabilities in shape may have to be accepted. In soldierly terms, enough to deter, bite a bit- if forced, while modernisation can wait.
 

Does Anonymity Suit the Armed Forces?

Lt. Gen K J Singh, PVSM, AVSM(Bar)

Indian Army Officer(Retd.)

 
 
 
“Strong teams win tough matches” is a proven maxim and it applies specially to the Armed Forces, where tightly knit teams battle all odds for the magical ‘unit izzat’. Some brave hearts even make the supreme sacrifice in the process.
Only a few get recognised but it is largely the unsung hero, who makes the victory possible. War memorials, all over the world eulogise the unknown warrior and their collective spirit. The same analogy applies to hybrid war and even peacetime challenges. Notwithstanding, the foregoing, some young officers and soldiers (also referred to as ‘strategic corporals’), get caught up in headlines due to circumstances mostly beyond their control. While they may grab some momentary fame but in the long run they end up being losers.
Recently, two company commanders, Major Ganguly and Major Aditya had got embroiled in the maelstrom of TRP hungry channels. A moot and obvious question lurks- Are they not entitled to their share of privacy, which is a universal right?
Whatever Major Ganguly did was unconventional and a sort of quick-fix ‘jugaad’ that probably many similarly placed junior leaders have indulged in and got away. It was most baffling that authorities, who after initial rush of publicity should have protected his privacy decided to thrust him into the spotlight again.
Why should he have been asked to hold a press conference? This raises the next question- should we over hype our heroes specially those involved in covert operations? The recent trend of parading them in literary festivals and other events is a double edged sword. It puts these officers in harms’ way; in some cases gives them a larger than life image: and a swollen head. Special Forces all over the world follow a code of secrecy, faceless warriors in shadows, reinforcing collectivism of teams.
The case about filing of FIR naming Maj Aditya, a young company commander, despite the fact that he was not even present at the scene of incident is another worrying example. Although, the Supreme court verdict adequately stalls such attempts; it only confirms the sinister design by certain elements to tarnish the officer’s reputation.
As per informed opinion, it was planned as a sort of retribution by locals after his recent success in eliminating dreaded terrorists. Could FIR in such cases be filed against a unit or appointment without personalising it?
Protection of soldiers is the bounden duty of the State as is being seen in Britain, where unscrupulous lawyers have brought up a mini tsunami of litigation in collusion with Iraqi nationals for compensation and criminal liability against soldiers deployed in Iraq eight years after their tour of duty. It forced Theresa May, British PM to reiterate, “it is a national obligation to protect armed forces from vexatious complaints”.
We need to draw appropriate lessons and set up proper legal organisations with qualified staff (on long tenures), supported by documentation to build up institutional memory. This is necessary to protect soldiers operating in disturbed areas as units and personnel move away on rotation, with passage of time records are not available and locals are often forced to gang up against them.
It is even more unfortunate that Maj Aditya’s father had to seek intervention of Supreme Court, reducing it to family issue. It is indeed worrying that a parent doesn’t trust the system to protect his son, who after commissioning is an officer first and a son later. Even if an intervention was required, it could have been done at the behest of Regimental Association. If officers follow the Chetwode motto of placing nation and soldiers before self, nation also has obvious reciprocal obligations.
While senior leaders have to be seen and heard especially by troops they command yet it has to be carefully calibrated. The holy grail of anonymity in academic exchanges is the famous set of Chatham House rules. These rules are now being increasingly flouted due to proliferation of social media, channel wars and headline hunting journalists.
Despite repeated appeals by seminar organisers, most journalists milk and twist every controversial statement and probability of such bytes hitting headlines is directly proportional to rank and appointment of speaker.
Our Army Chief was recently caught up in such a situation, when his statements made in good faith in seminars spawned a cascade of media reports and reactions. A similar effort was made to give a mischievous twist to statements by two Army Commanders in a seminar at a university.
It’s obvious that as you grow in rank, far more discretion is required to ensure anonymity! It appears that it’s curtains for the hallowed Chatham House conventions and it will probably be safe to assume that these rules now apply only in closed door discussions, where journalists are not present.
Notwithstanding the hazards, those at the helm should, while using utmost discretion, state their points with clarity be it a press conference or a seminar. Such activities as seminars will lose their relevance if we don’t have a balanced analysis presented by senior professional in the field.
At the junior levels, it would be better to project synergised teams rather than only an individual as a gladiator. Such projection needs to be handled by officers trained to engage with the media. Such an approach will also keep the individual anonymous and be more conducive to his safety.
 

Balancing Our Relationship With Israel and West Asia

Lt. Gen K J Singh, PVSM, AVSM(Bar)

Indian Army Officer(Retd.)

 
 
 
The Israeli PM has concluded his visit after an eventful six-day itinerary marked by some remarkable symbolism: renaming of Haifa Memorial, visits to Chabad House, Bollywood and Sabarmati Ashram. Propelled by personal chemistry and with some imaginative re-packaging, especially with renewal of agreements, it can be officially termed as a successful exchange.
There was much bonhomie articulated through gestures like the PM receiving the visiting delegation at the airport and complimentary tweet by Benjamin Netanyahu of ‘India- Israel relationship being made in heaven’. In essence, all the right kind of noises have been made yet gains or progress on crunch issues related to defence; revival of Spike deal and resolution of problems related to AWACS purchase were missing.
For the present, we may console ourselves with an assurance that probably discreet negotiations with some hard bargaining are underway and we may have some good news in the not too distant future.
As a build-up, there were heightened expectations and some hype fueled by imaginative leaks that the Spike deal may be revived through the Government to Government (G to G) route.
The timing of withdrawal of Request For Proposal (RFP), on the eve of Israeli PM’s visit was most baffling specially when a trilateral manufacturing facility incorporating Rafael, Kalyani Group and most importantly a DPSU, Bharat Dynamics has been set up with much fanfare under ‘Make in India’ initiative.
It is a well-known fact that ‘Nag Project’, which has been dragging on since 1980s has recently made some substantial progress with the incorporation of a French seeker. However, it will be safe to assume that given the not too impressive track record of DRDO, production and actual fielding of the missile may take three to four years.
This success is most heartening and calls for celebration especially by soldiers like us, who have participated in the project. We all want an affordable indigenous missile preferably with our own seeker.
The heart of missile is its guidance system. If this critical component is externally sourced, it reduces the entire exercise to essentially a licensed production.
We may recall the example of production of Armour Piercing Fin Stabilised Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) ammunition under Transfer of Technology (ToT), which had to be capped at 35,000 units per year because of the fixed supply of Core Penetrator by Russians.
The rescinded RFP for 8000 ATGMs worth $500 million was at very advanced stages and was after the American Javelin had been ruled out consequent to demonstration firing and preliminary negotiations for a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) option; an American version of G to G.
By some accounts, the Army is very upset as ATGM is an identified priority project, mandated to be fast tracked to make up our hollowness in our operational capabilities due to the depleted war wastage reserves. Land forces continue to be saddled with outdated Milan and Konkurs missiles. There is a feeling that DRDO has once again managed to pull the rug from under the feet, literally at the very last minute.
The reasons advanced are huge costs involved and the much touted claim that development cost of Nag is barely $50 million. As has been the case earlier too, such figures hide more than what they reveal i.e., hidden costs like establishment, human capital and import component. It has been reported that since Army wants this proven weapon system, considering the sensitivity involved, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has relented, and has no objections to the deal as long as it does not involve transfer of technology (ToT). This is not only retrograde but even baffling!
Indian Army is in dire need of third-generation ATGMs having infra-red seeker with integrated avionics to upgrade its obsolete missile systems. The requirement is of the magnitude 40,000 missiles for Army’s 390 odd infantry battalions and 45 mechanised units.
Spike is a battle proven missile which has much longer range and is lighter in weight when compared to Nag. It is time, we holistically analyse our requirement and look at a twin track approach. The magnitude of our projected requirement can ideally be met through this approach. While, we must drive a very hard bargain with Israelis, it should be accompanied by an objective cost analysis of Nag development project.
Hopefully, with astute leadership, a ‘win-win’ model can be negotiated to accommodate all relevant stakeholders and most importantly foster an eco-system to produce two missile systems locally.
The current government has to be lauded for bringing our relationship with Israel literally out of the closet with the maiden visit of PM Modi in July 2017, which prompted Netanyahu to remark, we have been waiting for 70 years.
Leaving aside some exaggeration, it came 25 years after India became the last major country in 1992 to establish full diplomatic ties. Despite our principled stand on Palestine, the relationship has blossomed catalysed by our dependence on cutting edge technologies in defence and civil disciplines like agro-bio technology, solar and cyber, to highlight a few.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which documents arms sales globally, reported that Israel sold $599 million worth arms and armaments to India i.e., about half of the $1.2 billion in arms Israel sold around the world in 2016.
As per some projections, with some more deals like Spike, Israel even has the potential to emerge as the largest arms supplier. It may surprise many, that the ultimate realist, Parvez Musharraf flirted with idea of getting close to Israel to get some critical technologies.
However, he was stymied by well entrenched lobbies.
Chinese foot print in Israel especially in industrial and technological sectors looks large and ominous due to their expertise in adaptive assimilation and cloning. Is it an organised low cost route to get such technology? Yet the obvious question that stares us in the face is: despite natural convergence and shared interests on issues like terrorism, can we go the whole hog with Israelis? Notwithstanding our desire and dependencies, we are constrained to take a nuanced approach and play the balancing game.
To placate our not so reliable friends in West Asia, who have always preferred Pakistan over us on issues like Kashmir, despite our principled approach on Palestine, the PM is slated to be the first Indian PM to visit Palestine in the first half of February. Our main interests in West Asia include energy security, large foreign remittances by seven million strong workforce in Gulf countries and a huge big market. Iran plays a key role in our strategic calculus with potential for enabling alternative connectivity through Chabahar to Central Asia and possibly Europe. It opens options to checkmate China Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar.
There is also a proposal for a large order for sourcing locomotives and freight wagons from India. We are naturally conscious of 50 plus votes of Organisation of Islamic (OIC) countries that can make a vital difference in our quest for permanent membership in Security Council.
It was imaginative on part of our PM to term India-Israel relationship as ‘I-4- I’, signifying India for Israel and Israel for India and equally encouraging response of Israeli PM to call it, ‘I squared, T squared, standing for India-Israel, Ties for To-morrow.
For de-hyphenation, the need is to build confidence across the board and invest in and safeguard our core interests. It calls for discreet negotiations especially with Israel on sharing of strategic intelligence and co-operation on counter terrorism including cyber and nuclear terrorism.
India also needs to cement its defence co-operation with Israel as it is the only country that can help us to make up our inventory, expeditiously. This guided but discreet hand-holding can be modelled on forays of Chinese entities, which are shown to be de-linked from the official establishments. For it to happen, nominated strategic partners in the Indian defence industry have to be empowered and guided.
I can’t help but remember my Israeli friend of peacekeeping days, who used to say, “Relationships have to be invested in and nurtured with a long term commitment.” To this seminal wisdom, I am tempted to add, “Also balanced and managed till the time is ripe”.
 

Leveraging Indus Water Treaty (IWT): A Realistic Appraisal

Lt. Gen K J Singh, PVSM, AVSM(Bar)

Indian Army Officer(Retd.)

 
 
 
Indus Water Treaty (IWT) has been under much debate and is being touted as an ultimate leverage to choke Pakistan, setting the stage for a call for use of water as a weapon. Former Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf in his thesis at RCDS had identified water as the most likely flash point between India and Pakistan. More than the potential and morality of water as a weapon, it is the attendant capability in terms of dams and storage, which needs to be realistically appraised. The question that begs an answer is, even if we want to, can we do it? Any renegotiation of IWT is likely to bring in China and Afghanistan; also new issues like climate control. The answer lies in an ancient Chinese proverb, build your capability, bide your time, implying work within the treaty norms but utilise in-built provisions.
The World Bank brokered treaty signed in 1960, allocated rivers in two groups i.e., Eastern: Ravi, Beas and Sutlej amounting to 33 Million Acre Feet (MAF), entirely to India and Western: Indus, Jhelum and Chenab, 135 MAF, mainly to Pakistan. India has rights on western rivers in terms of ‘run of the river’ power projects, irrigation and flood control upto specified limits, which are shown in the tables. While our share prima-facie may appear skewed, utilisation is even more worrying. With a less water intensive horticulture based economy in Kashmir valley, potential really lies in hydro-power and inter basin transfer to quench water stressed Punjab and Haryana.
Analysis of eastern rivers reveals that every year, nearly a million acre feet of water flows out from Ravi to Pakistani Punjab and 1000 cusecs (0.0019 MAF) from Sutlej at Husainiwala. For using water as a leverage, it is important that we build the physical wherewithal for positive control as a strategic capability. This has been grossly lacking because of interstate disputes and it is to the credit of Central Government that in March 2017, it pushed the contending parties into an agreement. Dispute on Ravi has been with regard to Shahpur Kandi dam, since 1999. Punjab and J&K governments have not been able to resolve issues of compensation, power and water distribution. In a welcome development, project has been designated as centrally monitored one with 90% funding by Centre. Punjab has agreed to provide 180 MW of power at ₹3.50 per unit to J&K. In addition, Jammu region will get 1150 cusecs of water, boosting irrigation and enhancing the defence potential of Upper Tawi link canal. Armed with a positive nod from the new Punjab Government, Centre needs to ensure fast track and time bound execution. We should take this forward by harnessing minor rivers like Degh (Basantar), Ujh, Tarnah, and Bein as water increases obstacle potential in strategically important Shakargarh bulge and aids infiltration into Samba-Kathua corridor.
Sutlej is a is not a major problem with reasons for water flowing to Pakistan being due to leakage because of lack of maintenance of antiquated sluice gates at Husainiwala and silting of Harike reservoir. Once again, the central government has brokered a much delayed agreement and now Rajasthan and Punjab have agreed to fund their respective shares. This has to be followed up with de-weeding Hycinth from Harike, which has gobbled up approximately 80% of the storage capacity. Repairs of head works and de-silting of all reservoirs, Gobind Sagar (Bhakra), Maharana Rana Pratap Sagar (Pong) and Ranjit Sagar (Thein) are overdue. There is a strong case for raising of Ecology (Dredging) TA battalions for de-silting to augment storage, which can be utilised for inter-basin transfer and flood control. It may be relevant to mention that push forward on clearances has been assisted by the Army flagging the issue repeatedly and providing impartial data with evidence.
Western rivers for us mainly are Chenab and Jhelum as Indus has very limited potential. Dynamism manifesting in recent clearances to Sawalkot, Pakad, Dul and Bursar on Chenab should lead to a mission mode approach. The ‘go-ahead’ to fill Kishenganga storage is another welcome move and is an appropriate message to the Chinese engaged in competitive hydrographics at Neelum valley project for Pakistan. It’s time, we accelerate Tulbul project on Jhelum for flood control and navigation, building on the only issue of convergence amongst opinion makers in Valley. There is a need to improve silt disposal of existing reservoirs on Chenab, Salal, Baglihar and Dulhasti, and especially Salal, which is because of sub-optimal design agreement.
Mercifully, our hydrographers have catered for such upgradation. Envisaged projects are well within our allocated share and we should continue to execute our plans disregarding delaying tactics by Pakistan. Despite huge technological challenges, it is time to examine possibility of inter-basin transfer of some of our balance share (approximately 20,000 cusecs or 0.04 MAF) from Chenab to Ravi-Beas through tunnels to avert a looming water crisis in Northern region. India with 17% of world population has only 4% water share and a storage of barely 90 days compared to two years in some countries.
A popular Pakistani folk ditty describes the centrality of water in Pak Punjab, “Ravi vichon waghan teen naharan, do sukiyan, teh teeji waghe hi nah (from Ravi flow, three canals, two are dry and third one doesn’t even flow)”. In a water stressed economy with ground water receding to alarming levels, we need to build our capability on a war footing to include dams, reservoirs and also maintain existing ones to harness legitimate share of water to exercise positive control. While dams are not in sync with new ecological narratives yet they have their strategic relevance as China is planning a bouquet of three dams on Indus for Pakistan as part of CPEC. In times to come, for keeping its canals flowing, Pakistan should be forced to introspect and improve its relations with its upper riparian neighbour.
 

The objections to the Citizenship Act are generally unconvincing

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Prakash Singh
Retd. IPS Officer & Patron-GCTC

 
The agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act appears to have gone through three phases. In the first phase, it was a protest against its enactment, as there were genuine apprehensions that the Act, followed by a pan-India NRC exercise, would lead to a large section of society, mostly Muslims, being declared illegal migrants/citizens. There was protests in Jamia Millia Islamia and large-scale demonstrations in Assam and other Northeast states. In the second phase, it became a confrontation between students and the police. Allegations of police high-handedness spread and there were sympathetic protests in educational institutions across the country. The CAA remained the trigger, but it was pushed to the background. Student anger was directed against the police and the government. In the third phase, which we are witnessing today, the movement has been hijacked by political opportunists, separatist factions, fundamentalist groups and lumpen elements. The CAA is an excuse; the target is the ruling party.
The government, in retrospect, appears to have seriously miscalculated the fallout of the CAA. Its success on three fronts appears to have made it insensitive to the simmering anger among the Muslim community. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019, which banned triple talaq, was a good measure for the emancipation of Muslim women from an atrocious practice, but it antagonised the radical elements. The abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, aggravated the discomfiture of Muslims. Then the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya added to the sense of unease. The canard that the judiciary had been influenced to give the disputed plot to the Hindus for the construction of the Ram temple, with some luminaries writing about the alleged flaws in the judgment, added fuel to the fire. All these three developments — the annulment of triple talaq, the abrogation of Article 370 and the Ayodhya verdict — collectively led to a feeling of anger, resentment and frustration among Muslims. The government either was not aware of the depth of Muslim resentment or was not bothered about it and was confident of being able to weather any storm.
The announcement of the National Population Register was unexceptionable, but it was ill-timed. Heavens would not have fallen if it had been delayed by a few months. It has provided further ammunition to the Opposition which has embarked on a disinformation campaign to mislead people.
The police are presently doing a thankless job. If they take action against the agitators, as they did in UP, there are allegations of high-handedness. If they play it safe, as they did in West Bengal, the agitators will have a field day — destroy railway property, burn buses, attack police posts and indulge in acts of vandalism. It is indeed sad that in most of the states, the governments are not particularly bothered about the destruction of public and private property. The taxpayer’s money is nobody’s concern.
The Supreme Court had, in the context of state governments not taking effective measures to protect public and private property from being damaged by unruly mobs, constituted two committees, one headed by Justice K T Thomas and the other by F S Nariman, to study the problem. The Thomas Committee gave recommendations regarding the modalities for preventive action and for providing sharper teeth to inquiry/investigation. The Nariman Committee made suggestions regarding the assessment of damages. These were accepted by the Court which clearly said that “the liability will be borne by the actual perpetrators of the crime as well as the organisers of the event giving rise to the liability” and that “exemplary damages may be awarded”. Uttar Pradesh is perhaps the first state to have shown the political will to punish those who vandalised property.
The agitation has thrown up some disturbing questions. In UP, according to the police chief, there was a conspiracy to create disturbance. If so, one would like to know its full ramifications. Another senior police officer said that the pattern of protests in the state showed guerrilla tactics. The official version that the police did not open fire, and the fact that there have been deaths due to bullet injuries need to be reconciled. Reports about the involvement of Popular Front of India (PFI) in the agitation are a matter of grave concern and require in-depth investigation. The Karnataka home minister, speaking about the Mangaluru violence, stated that the attack on police was premeditated and the arson was orchestrated by anti-social elements. It would appear that the roots of the agitation go much deeper. Resentment against CAA was perhaps the proverbial last straw. But the movement has since degenerated into a confrontation between the government and diverse elements opposed to it.
 
The objections to the Citizenship Act are generally unconvincing. Assam is the only state which has reasons to feel aggrieved. There is substance in the argument that the Act contravenes Clause 6 of the Assam Accord which guaranteed safeguards to “protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people”. Reservations on the NRC are understandable. While going ahead with the CAA, the government would do well to scrap the proposal to expand the NRC and explore the possibility of settling refugees in other states across the country which are willing to and in a position to absorb them.
 

Cop out in Delhi: Police response invariably reflects the bias of the ruling party

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Prakash Singh
Retd. IPS Officer & Patron-GCTC

 
The ongoing violence in northeast Delhi, where at least 10 persons, including a head constable, were killed in rioting was waiting to happen. It was the culmination of weeks of dithering and selective action on the part of the Delhi Police in dealing with those agitating against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Violence had erupted in the Jafrabad area on last Sunday (February 23) itself and there was sufficient indication that all was not well. However, no preventive action appears to have been taken, and on Monday, when the national capital was rocked by agitators in different areas including Jafrabad, Gokulpuri and Maujpur, the police appeared to have been caught by surprise. Worse, there appeared to be hesitation on the part of the police in taking firm action against the rioters who continued to be on rampage, destroying public and private property. There was a disturbing scene of a rioter openly brandishing his firearm at a policeman.
The Delhi Police is the best resourced police in the country. It is looked upon as a model by state police forces across the country. However, it has not covered itself with glory while dealing with recent agitations. Its response, in fact, shows a disturbing pattern. There have been extremes of action and inaction. In Jamia Millia Islamia, the police is alleged to have entered the campus forcibly on December 15, 2019 and roughed up students after their march against the CAA turned violent. In JNU, on January 5, there was an inexplicable delay in responding to violence by a group of outsiders within the campus.
In other states also, police action did not inspire public confidence. In West Bengal, with Mamata Banerjee leading the charge against the CAA, the message to the police was clear. They turned a Nelson’s eye to rioters’ vandalising government and private property; the Eastern Railways alone suffered a loss of Rs 72.19 crore. In Uttar Pradesh, where over 20 people were killed, the Allahabad High Court has called for a detailed report on the alleged police excesses. In Karnataka, the High Court has blamed the Mangaluru police of “over-zealousness” in dealing with the anti-CAA protests.
The moral of the story is obvious: Police response invariably reflects the bias of the ruling party. The partisan police response to situations, which were strikingly similar, has caused dismay and consternation among the people. One commentator deplored that “in no time, perhaps, has the decline in policing standards been this stark and this shocking”. The criticism is not unwarranted, but one must get to the root of the problem. The National Police Commission recorded as far back as 1979 that “the present culture of the police system appears a continuation of what obtained under the British regime when the police functioned ruthlessly as an agent for sustaining the government in power”. In such a situation, the Commission went on to say, “police find it difficult to play their lawful role and make their performance acceptable to the people at large”.
The Supreme Court issued a set of six directions in 2006 to state governments with a view to transforming the ethos and working philosophy of the police. Its most important direction was about setting up of a State Security Commission with a view to insulate the police from external pressures. It is true that several states have enacted laws purportedly in compliance with the Supreme Court’s orders, but these acts, as their critical examination reveals, violate the letter and spirit of the judicial directions. The old order continues for all practical purposes.
The Justice Dhingra Committee, in its recently released report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, slammed the Union government and the Delhi Police, observing that a large number of crimes of murder, rioting, looting, arson remained unpunished for the simple reason that there was “lack of interest shown by the police and by the authorities in handling these cases as per law or to proceed with the intention of punishing the culprits”. The effort of the police and the administration “seems to have been to hush up the criminal cases concerning riots”.
It is tragic that the lessons of 1984 have not been learnt to this day. It is unfortunate that the NPC recommendations have not been acted upon even after the Supreme Court’s directions. No wonder, in the recent agitation in different states, the police have acted in the manner they did. They were servants of the British during the colonial rule. They are servants of the ruling party now.
The police are, no doubt, to blame for not being able to function in an objective and impartial manner. There is definitely a failure of leadership also. But can political parties across the spectrum escape the blame for continuing to use the police as an instrument to further their political agenda? Can the media escape its responsibility for treating the police as a convenient punching bag from time to time and not taking up the cause of police reforms as aggressively as it should be doing? And, are the people of the country also not to blame for not being vocal enough about police reforms? The Supreme Court would also need to introspect as to why the implementation of its directions has been so ineffective.
 

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