Defence

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State Vs Center in the Fight Against Terror… you decide!

Published February 23, 2013 by vishalvkale

The National Counter Terrorism Centre –  the one stop-shop for generating intelligence, analysing the inputs to connect the dots and carrying out counter-strikes – has been in the deep freezer since last year after states put their foot down. The states were worried it encroached their powers.”
The people are dying on the streets… and the best our awesome political masters can do is fight like spoilt brats over turf! Reminds me of my childhood, when I or my siblings would fight like cats and dogs over which cricketer is better, who does the ball-point pen belong to etc! It is simple logic that terror can only be a central subject, given its international links. Yes, there will be procedural hassles that will need ironing out, but the moot point is still that terror is something that crosses state borders, and has central links and support from an enemy nation. These factors place it slam-bang straight in the centre’s list of responsibilities.
But no, our centre is too busy appeasing the states – when it should be sending a clear message to every state that it has to toe the line. And an equal no – no state has the vision to recognise that the interest of the people comes ahead of the interests of the political class. No state (barring those who agree to the above, that is) can see that it better to sort this matter out fast – since the people will be the beneficiary. It will cut response times, it will enable faster identification and apprehension of suspects, and provide greater teeth to the terror fighting mechanism of India.
Are our politicians helping us by this frankly horrible and callous display of turf warfare? Is terror a subject when you can and should be screaming “this is my area, yeh meraa ilaakaa hai?” Cant these “people” see that it is in the interests of the public at large if we are able to forge a common and strong front in the face of terror, in place of the divided house that we are currently presenting? Look at the USA: terror is a central response, and it places the interests of the people first. But in India, we are placing the interests of the political class first! And yet, we the people are silent. I am not advocating an uprising, but it is high time we put some serious pressure on our political classes to put up or shut up. We remain silent at our own peril, as Hyderabad has shown once again. The least we can do is voice our utter disgust at the state of affairs publicly – as I am doing.

The need of the hour when your subjects are threatened by danger and loss of life is speed of action; in place of speed, we are moving at the pace of a tortoise. It has been years since most of these solutions have been presented to the political class; no action has been taken. In place of speed, we are just seeing discussions… while people are dying due to terror attacks. High time the centre became tough and took a no-nonsense attitude with the states on this matter. A weak centre is not what is required here! We need a strong and powerful centre, not a waffling indecisive tool of the states

I am disgusted at both the centre as well as the State apparatus that is present today; and would like to request them to place my interest (and that of my fellow Indians) over their idiotic turf warfare. People are paying through their noses – be it loss of GDP, or loss of life, or whatever. The lack of governance displayed by the political leadership in India is worrisome! And, this latest revelation has left me speechless with impotent anger and utter disgust. An anti-terror mechanism did not take off because of turf warfare between the centre and the states! A peaceful people’s movement is once again the order of the day  – I repeat, peaceful non-violent presentations to the government of the day. We are not law-breakers. We are law-abiding citizens; but are now seriously worried. Wake up, India…
As I have said so often… Jaago, Sonewaalon…

Peace… At What Cost?

Published January 24, 2013 by vishalvkale

Peace at what cost? I am a pacifist myself… but there is a limit to pacifism. Pacifism, if it leads to further bloodshed in the foreseeable future, is not recommended. Taken to the extreme, one has the WW2 situation, when pacifying Hitler lead to millions of casualties. I am not advocating war; just that successful peace negotiations also require the enemy to have a knowledge that behind the pacifist exterior is a will and strength of iron that can be used. Only then can a negotiation be fruitful. In my opinion, these signals emanating from India are positive; that the world had better take notice that our patience is limited and certainly not infinite! The knowledge of intent combined with the will to implement the intent can actually lead to enemies taking us less for granted! All in all, excellent posturing by the GOI!
It is a given that neither nation can afford a war – and I am not speaking in terms of economic cost, although that is part of the story. Unfortunately, that is precisely what is being utilized by Pakistan and its – aah – internal factor forces, shall we say – to keep up the pressure on India. Pakistan-based outfits are routinely terrorising India; Pakistan has also tried ill-conceived strategies like Kargil to attain its objectives. The result is that not only India, but Pakistan as well is bleeding. That Pakistan is bleeding is its internal problem; my concern is Indian blood. Despite innumerable peace initiatives, nothing has been achieved. That is reason enough for a re-calibration of our strategies vis-a-vis this problem. A slightly more aggressive approach – one that leaves no doubt that if pushed too far, India will not hold back – will give an added impetus to both our Western Neighbour as well as its Daddy USA to take urgent note of our creeping impatience. It will also serve to jettison our weak state image. The Kargil War comes to mind: wherein our controlled aggression won us accolades. That was the other end of the controlled aggression spectrum; what is also needed is controlled aggression that leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that India can only be pushed so far, and no more. The alternative is the status quo – where we are regularly taken for granted, and our strategic imperatives ignored. That has got to stop; and it will only stop when we make ourselves heard. 

Defence acquisition mess; Media and Citizen attitudes

Published March 29, 2012 by vishalvkale

The Hindu : News / National : Inside India’s defence acquisition mess:

‘via Blog this’

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article3253952.ece

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/3/29_03_12-metro8.htm

http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/indus-calling/entry/save-army-s-honour

Continuing from my previous post, a simple perusal of the morning papers revealed an expected but nevertheless interesting scenario: Most news coverage was concentrated either on The General or on the Congress / UPA. Here we are- faced with a nearly 1962-like situation in terms of Defences, sitting on a powder-keg situation, nearly naked (if the Chief’s letter is 100% accurate – which I dont doubt, judging from a series of critical articles in various sources over the past few years) – and the entire Media is focussing on anything but Defence. Most newspapers are sticking to their market positioning – which is fine under normal circumstances. If you are known for reportage, your readership will be of that kind. Similarly, if you have a market position of in-depth focus, then that will be reflected in your product. Being a sales & marketing professional I both understand and accept these realities. But this situation is anything but normal – it is exceptional, anyway you look at it! Rather than build pressure on the government to take immediate remedial measures to correct the scenario (as well as restore the morale of the Armed Forces) the Media is just doing routine reportage.
None of us can say that this development has come as a complete surprise: there have been any number of articles in magazines highlighting the increased level of problems in the Army. Admittedly, none were as serious in tone: but the fact remains that murmurs of something of this kind were rife in some magazines which questioned delay in fighter aircraft procurement, tank procurement etc. What makes this different is that this is coming from the head of the Army – which is an infinitely more serious development, as it impacts the morale of the forces, saps their energy and exposes its underbelly. More is expected from the Media at this juncture: and I hope that this particular development is not consigned to the back pages with time. A concentrated pressure is needed to ensure follow-up action! We need to gavanise the bureaucracy and the government to respond to this serious threat to national security – and if our Armed Forces are indeed so underprepared, then this is a threat to security. As it is we are facing serious threats from terrorism – and an Army unable to respond is the last thing we need at this point. 
Some good can still be had from this – if we can get the bureaucrats and the government to act on the weaknesses highlighted rather than do a witch hunt. Judging from the happenings in Parliament, this does not seem to be happening- with various speakers waking eloquent on the state of our Armed Forces as being ship-shape. Who are you trying to fool? By covering up, you are only fooling the people, some of whom will believe in your mumbo-jumbo. The more knowledgable (including enemies) probably already have an excellent idea of the state of the Indian Army. What is more, the fall in morale can only be good news to enemies. Rather than mere statements, the need of the hour is a white paper than either gives specific rebuttals – or gives a plan to plug same.
This is not a problem that can be wished away – it needs a clear strategy to be managed. And it is the absence of a strategy that is bothering me. No witch hunts now, please- at least, not in public.   Present a common front. For one thing is clear: given a choice, I would rather believe the General than the Government. The credibility of the government is lesser as compared to the General, simple as that. And that is what the government also needs to address. As for the rest, please rise above party lines and affiliations… that is the need of the hour!

It’s The Army Now….

Published March 28, 2012 by vishalvkale

Army toothless: General VK Singh drops letter bomb on govt – Hindustan Times:

‘via Blog this’

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article3254276.ece?homepage=true

http://www.hindustantimes.com/editorial-views-on/Edits/Not-all-quiet-on-this-front/Article1-831721.aspx

http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column_time-to-clean-up-army-but-who-ll-do-it_1668276

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Army-chief-vs-govt-Tension-escalates/articleshow/12443490.cms

I am beginning to wonder what is required for the people of India to wake up from their abhorrent stupor… Institution after institution is collapsing with monotonous regularity due to abject neglect! School performance is the lowest in the world; rampant corruption; inefficient policing; falling economic indicators; Telecom tangle; FDI in retail imbroglio; Judicial activism; Satyam….
And now the Army.
One point shines through this entire episode: The Media is more concerned with the Government’s continuance / Fate of the Army Chief / How the letter leaked / political reactions / Army’s politicization. What about the security of the nation? Rather than criticize the Army Chief, why has no one from the Media (judging from the coverage so far seen on various websites) critically examined the issues highlighted in the letter? What is more important: The Government, The Political Parties, The Letter – or The Nation? That should be a no-brainer: the nation should supercede all other considerations. And yet, I have not seen any reaction in print on any website so far. Let me see what the morrow brings – I am keenly waiting for tomorrow’s newspapers to see if there is critical analysis of the contents and their truth; as also how much pressure there is on the IAS lobby and the government to come clean on this matter.
I, for one, want to know the extent of the truth in the letter: has our Army indeed been rendered powerless for want of Modern Equipment and Ammunition? I very much fear this might be true- judging from the delay in finalising the Fighter Aircraft deal. The time has come for all of us to demand from the powers that be in New Delhi – Bureaucrats and Politicians alike – that they come clean on the state of affairs in the Army. Further, this matter should be dealt with without accord to politics- for we have now been rendered powerless as the respect of the Indian Army will have taken a severe beating across the world. This is also going to have a serious effect on the “India Shining” image. There was only last bastion that was left untouched at the altar of power games and corruption – The Armed Forces.
We have been hearing rumblings of dissatisfaction in the Armed Forces over the process of procurement of arms, over the control of the bureaucrats, the increasing politicization of the process. We have also read quite a few snippets of news highlighting the urgent needs of the Armed Forces… but nothing quite as serious as this. And in my opinion – the blame lies at our own doors – our carelessness, our I-Me-Myself-First attitude, our how-does-it-effect-me syndrome.  Corruption, Bad Governance is eating away steadily at all of our achievements – and this is being compounded by our total lack of concern on this issue. For this is what this is: Corruption & Bad Governance!