CW GAMES WATCH, THE AFTERMATH: Commonwealth Games a hit, now punish graft: TOI poll – Gill, Kalmadi & Co at the eye of the storm, incompetent or obdurately corrupt or both ?!!
From The Times of India
Oct 16, 2010, 12.09am IST (TNN): The Commonwealth Games were a resounding success for India, but the allegations of corruption that preceded the event must be thoroughly investigated. That’s the message coming out loud and clear from metropolitan India.
An opinion poll in India’s four biggest metros – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai – exclusively for TOI has found 85% of those surveyed felt the Games were a hit. The same proportion said they have enhanced India’s reputation globally.
This is a sea change from a poll we had conducted in September, where close to 50% had said India’s reputation had taken a beating due to the stories of sleaze emerging almost daily.
That the change is thanks mainly to the athletes, and not the organizers, is clear from the fact that 86% of respondents to the latest poll say that allegations of corruption must be investigated. In other words, the bungling has neither been forgotten nor forgiven.
88% feel India has arrived as a sporting nation
The rich medal haul and India’s finishing second to Australia in the tally of gold medals has clearly captured the imagination of many. As a result, 88% expressed the view that India had arrived as a sporting nation — an estimate that sport buffs might not yet share.
The success of the Games also seems to have whetted the appetite for more such mega sporting events. When asked whether India should now put in a bid for the Olympic Games in 2020, 82% said it should.
A final question was put exclusively to respondents in Delhi and pertained to what they considered the biggest failure of the organizers. The most common response — voiced by 33% of those polled — was poor infrastructure.
The authorities might point to the kudos received from several foreign delegations on this count, but negative perception at home appears to have been driven by events like the collapse of the foot overbridge near the main venue and the state of the Village when it was first handed over to some of the delegations.
The second most common response, from 30% of the respondents, was traffic chaos due to excessive security. Lack of tickets, poor facilities and a poorly run website also figured on the list of complaints, but lower on the scale. The survey was conducted by Synovate, a global market research agency, polled a total of 375 adults between the ages of 18 and 40 years, 150 of them in the host city, Delhi.
CWG: Al-Qaida planned attacks on Oct 12, 13 – the biggest achievement of the CW Games was peace and no terrorism ?!!
From The Times of India
NEW DELHI, Oct 16, 2010, 02.17am IST (TNN): The unprecedented security across the Capital might have inconvenienced Delhiites, but its aim was to prevent al-Qaida and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) from carrying out deadly attacks through `multiple shoot-outs’ targeting theCommonwealth Games village, sports venues and a five-star hotel specifically on October 12 and 13.
The plan was to sneak in a number of jihadis simultaneously through Indo- Nepal or Indo- Bangladesh borders or from across the India’s western border. There was also intelligence input that some others would come from West Asia, using legal channels through proper visas.
Government sources said that a Western intelligence agency had tipped off India on October 10 about these specific plans.
Alarmed by the input, the government had immediately enhanced the security of the Games venues and village from three layers to four and brought in additional forces, including armed commandos, to foil any attempt of sabotage even from air.
“The input was very specific about the venues and suggested that the terrorists would probably come from West Asia, Nepal or from across India’s western border,” a source said.
Security was also increased in all eight leading five-star hotels in Delhi.
There was also information that the terrorists may use paragliders to reach the venues prompting authorities to put in place anti-aircraft guns.
“Credentials of all foreign nationals arriving in international airports were checked one-by-one. Twenty Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) were deployed besides keeping ready a special team of 40 army and NSG commandos — equipped with special weapons capable to shoot down paragliders from a distance — near the sporting venues, including Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium,” said the source.
“Though the general threat still exists, the Delhi Police and other security agencies through their meticulous planning and deployment averted any strike specifically during the CWG,” the source said.
Sources said that the fresh inputs had nothing to do with what the HuJI commander and al-Qaida member Ilyas Kashmiri had threatened a month before the Games. “The latest plan was the brainchild of some other elements/modules within al-Qaida and LeT,” said a source.
Incidentally, the security agencies had to do all this amid many goof-ups made by the Games Organising Committee. Already under attack for mismanagement, the OC had kept the Union home ministry and Delhi Police virtually on the edge over security issues giving them many an anxious moment even till the closing ceremony.
In fact, the closing ceremony was finalised barely two days before the Thursday’s grand finale, sources privy to the arrangements said.
The drill regarding accreditation cards, transport, catering and ticketing facility had collapsed till the matter was brought before the home ministry, which had to step in on a war footing to sort out things, the sources said.
The list of participants and details of the function were handed over to the security agencies only on October 11 after which the government decided to include some more programmes. Equipment and items of the dancers could be checked only on the morning of October 14.
HOMELAND SECURITY & INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY: Obama likely to visit 26/11 sites during Nov visit – oh, that famous US marketing pitch for the hawks, no Bofors repeats ?!!
From The Times of India
By Vishwa Mohan
NEW DELHI (Oct 16, 2010, 12.45am IST, (TNN): US President Barack Obama is likely to visit the places attacked by terrorists during the 26/11 assault on Mumbai, in what may strongly symbolize the burgeoning cooperation between the two countries against terrorism.
Official sources indicated that during his visit starting on November 5, Obama may visit places where “shootouts occurred” during the 26/11 attack.
There are indications that Obama, who has chosen to stay at the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel, which was ravaged by the 26/11 attackers but has since been restored, is likely to visit Chabad House, the Jewish centre also known as Nariman House, and Leopold Cafe. There is also a possibility of his going to see the Oberoi Trident, another Mumbai hotel targeted as part of a plot scripted by ISI and executed by the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Clarity on the details, including the possibility of his going to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus where terrorists struck first on the night of November 26, 2008, will emerge after a meeting that officials of central and US agencies are scheduled to have with Mumbai cops on October 25.
“His presence at the places attacked on 26/11 will be seen as a statement of solidarity,” said a source, adding that India was keen on Mumbai’s inclusion in the US president’s itinerary.
Obama’s visit takes place against the backdrop of growing conviction in the US that terror groups like Lashkar, reared by ISI, have moved beyond their India-centric focus to meld with the wider web of jihadi terror and pose a threat to other countries as well.
The Mumbai attack was crucial in sensitizing the global community to the danger facing India. The recognition, belated according to many counter terror officials here, was the reason the Obama administration agreed to give access to US-born Lashkar jihadi David Coleman Headley who receed targets for Ajmal Kasab and his companions.
The heightened awareness of Pakistan’s unwillingness and inability to rein in terror groups has also cleared the way for very close cooperation among the counterterror authorities, as evident during the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games.
Top sources in the government speak of a perfect tandem between Indian and foreign counterterror agencies, American as well as others, that helped nip the terror threat to the Games. Intercepts with domestic agencies had pointed to the anxiety of ISI-Lashkar combine to launch terror attacks on India during the Games.
Their desperation to stage a spectacular attack, intercepts showed, had led the plotters to seek to rope in a whole range of potential accessories — from the Mumbai underworld to Khalistani and Kashmiri terror groups to Naxalites and criminals.
EARLIER – NOTICE THE SYNTAX
Military with no weapons – now to purchase astutely or rampantly, better yet – to build India’s own resources and self sufficiency, too much for the wondrous negative Indian mindset ?!!
From The Pioneer
By Ashok K Mehta
October 16, 2010 2:57:25 AM: India’s defence forces are getting increasingly crippled as Saint Antony refuses to sanction the purchase of urgently needed weapons
Over the next five years, India will spend $ 50 billion on arms purchases, including the daring joint development and production of the fifth generation fighters with Russia. This would suggest that Russia might no longer be in the race for the 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft as defence acquisition involves political balancing. Still 70 per cent of all our equipment and dependency will remain Russian. As Finance Minister, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised that once the economy grew, funds for defence modernisation would increase incrementally. That’s what is likely to happen after a two-decade drought in military modernisation.
Given the track record, defence acquisition will be further degraded by the overkill in probity and the Byzantine procedures. On August 25 this year, heads of five defence companies from the US, the UK Germany, France and Canada wrote to Defence Minister AK Antony for better structured and more supplier-friendly defence procurement policy.
The real questions are whether the buying spree will enhance self-reliance, improve deterrence and strengthen India’s clout in international affairs. So far, at least, India has underutilised its military capability for a variety of domestic political and cultural reasons, not the least, the lack of strategic thinking.
A new book, Arming Without Aiming: India’s Military Modernisation by Stephen Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta of the Brookings Institution has done some excellent mind-reading of Indian policy planning failures to develop military capabilities commensurate with its rising power and also exposed the warts in planning.
It is not surprising that despite terrorist attacks on Parliament and in Mumbai and several lesser strikes across the country over the last two decades, India has not crafted a suitable response to cross-border terrorism. The international community is astonished at the amazing levels of tolerance and military restraint shown by New Delhi — making a virtue of necessity, its strategic restraint and patience. The authors say that India’s rise is welcome (except in Pakistan) as it is not seen as an assertive power.
Is strategic restraint, the term coined by Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh during Operation Parakram, an euphemism for lack of appropriate military capabilities? Twice in that year, India came close to crossing the start line but held back, according to insiders, as neither the Air Force nor the Army was deemed fit or ready for punitive operations. It is the duty of Governments to keep the armed forces in a state of operational preparedness with relevant equipment and technologies. So it may not just be the culture of military restraint but equally the lack of defence planning.
The authors argue that India’s defence acquisition process is ‘amazingly convoluted’ and coupled with its preference to acquire technology and build weapons itself has led to deep problems. The preference is also to add and expand existing structures than engage in reform. This is true as since independence there has been no defence review and the armed forces have continued to operate in a political vacuum virtually decoupled from decision-making. This has resulted in erratic and spasmodic defence modernisation unrelated to developing challenges and their priorities but contingent upon availability of funds.
Commenting on the book, Ashley Tellis of Carnegie Endowment has noted that India’s defence policy was in crisis as there is ‘internal sclerosis’ in India’s internal defence thinking. Despite the Group of Ministers report after Kargil, key reforms like appointing a Chief of Defence Staff, remain in abeyance and integration is only lip-serviced. Another profundity from Tellis is that while the Indian state has the money, it does not have the capacity to spend it efficiently. To this self-explanatory charge can be added that funds for modernisation cannot be utilised in full due to avoidable road blocks. Tellis notes “how civil-military relations restrain military modernisation and this is not accidental but deliberate”.
Every year, an average of Rs5,000 to Rs 8,000 crore is returned to the Finance Ministry months before the end of the fiscal which helps to balance the Government’s books. Tongue in cheek every year, the Finance Minister ends his ritual two-line statement on defence allocation with the caveat that “more money will be provided if required”. This is followed by thumping applause!
But no amount of military modernisation will help unless there is new strategic thinking and political will to shape the environment to India’s advantage. For a rising power, a strong military is an asset if it is employed gainfully to promote political and diplomatic objectives. Cohen says: “We don’t think that new hardware and weapons will make that much of a difference as diplomacy and new strategic thinking are important.” The challenge for New Delhi is transforming the strategic environment.
Interestingly, the book contains a chapter on Defence Modernisation and Internal Threat. This probably is the most relevant contribution to India’s severe domestic problems ranging from insurgencies in Jammu & Kashmir and the North-East to the Maoist threat which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh first flagged in 2004 and has since repeatedly called the most serious internal security threat facing the country. Unfortunately, we continue to look outwards without addressing cogently, the threats from within, being fixated with Pakistan.
India’s defence budget has shot up astonishingly from nearly Rs50,000 crore in 1999 to Rs1,50,000 crore in 2010 and is growing exponentially at nearly 10 per cent but still remains far below two per cent of the GDP against the prescribed three per cent. Nearly 40 per cent of the budget goes towards military modernisation and maintenance.
Given the recommendations in the book, India must revisit its defence policy, implement outstanding defence reforms, including scrapping the laughable system of Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, and appointing a Chief of Defence Staff. Despite India’s, in Tellis’s words, “strong cultural impulses towards restraint” the dominant short-term military requirement is creating a credible response to a terrorist strike from Pakistan short of full-scale war. One hopes that Home Minister P Chidambaram’s threat of a ‘swift and decisive response’ transfers into visible military capability embodied as a deterrent.
Diplomacy and deterrence will work best when the military is encouraged in new
thinking through useful strategic and political guidance. This must become a two-way street with a free flow of ideas and innovations. Arming Without Aiming is certainly not what the Army teaches its soldiers. It is ek goli ek dushman.