Monthly Archives: September 2015

India, US, Japan to work together to maintain maritime security

Source: ET

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NEW YORK: Reflecting the growing convergence of their individual interests in the Indo-Pacific region, India, US and Japan have agreed to work together to maintain maritime security through greater collaboration.

The agreement was reached at the inaugural US-India-Japan Trilateral Ministerial dialogue held here on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 70th UN General Assembly session.

US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the dialogue with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

Representing a quarter of the world’s population and economic production

power, the three countries highlighted their shared support for peace, democracy, prosperity, and a rules-based international order, according to a joint statement.

The three ministers highlighted the growing convergence of their respective countries’ interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

They also underscored the importance of international law and peaceful settlement of disputes; freedom of navigation and overflight; and unimpeded lawful commerce, including in the South China Sea, it said.

They reiterated their support for ASEAN centrality in the multilateral political and security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region and emphasized the importance of the East Asia Summit as the premier leaders-level forum for addressing key political and security issues of the region.

The three countries agreed to work together to maintain maritime security through greater collaboration, the statement said.

The US and India welcomed Japan’s participation in the 2015 MALABAR exercise.

Recognizing the three countries’ extensive disaster response capabilities and converging interests, the three sides agreed to convene an experts-level group on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to enhance ability to respond jointly to complex disasters.

In an effort to capitalise on collective capacities in promoting regional economic linkages, the three ministers launched an experts-level group on regional connectivity to identify collaborative efforts that can help strengthen regional connectivity, including between South and Southeast Asia.

The three ministers expressed interest in exploring trilateral cooperation on women’s skill enhancement and economic empowerment to further social and economic development.

All three ministers welcomed the inaugural Trilateral Ministerial as a platform for strengthening cooperation and noted their interest in meeting again.

India-Japan-USA Trilateral meet

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India’s deadliest naval warship INS Kochi commissioned today

Source: Indian Express

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Naval warship INS Kochi, the stealth guided missile destroyers, was commissioned today by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai.

INS Kochi is the second ship of the Kolkata-class (Project 15A) Guided Missile Destroyers. The contract for three ships of Kolkata class was signed as a follow-on of the legendary Delhi-class Destroyers, which were commissioned into the Navy more than a decade ago, a defence spokesperson said.

Designed by the Navy’s in-house organisation, Directorate of Naval Design, and constructed by Mazagon Dock Ship builders Ltd in Mumbai, the ship is christened after the vibrant port city of Kochi.

Although conceived as follow-on of the earlier Delhi class, this ship is vastly superior and has major advancements in weapons and sensors. The ship incorporates new design concepts for improved survivability, stealth, sea-keeping and manoeuvrability.

With a displacement of 7,500 tons, the majestic ship spanning 164 metres in length and 17 metres at the beam, is propelled by four gas turbines and designed to achieve speeds in excess of 30 knots.

The ship has a complement of about 40 officers and 350 sailors. The accommodation and living spaces have been designed with special emphasis on ergonomics and habitability.

Enhanced stealth features have been achieved through shaping of hull and use of radar-transparent deck fittings. A bow mounted sonar dome, the second of its kind in an indigenous naval platform, has been introduced to enhance sonar acoustic performance, the spokesperson said.

INS Kochi is packed with an array of state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, with a significant indigenous component.

The ship has many lethal weapons to her credit which include the successful fitment of vertically launched missile system for long distance engagement of shore and sea-based targets.

The ship is one of the few warships of the world and the second in the Indian Navy to have Multi-Function Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar to provide target data to Long Range Surface to Air Missile system.

The MF STAR and LR SAM systems are jointly developed by DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. To protect against incoming air borne and surface threats, at medium and close in range, the ship has 76 mm and 30 mm gun mounts.

The ship can be classified as a ‘Network of Networks’ as it is equipped with Ship Data Network (SDN), Combat Management System (CMS), Automatic Power Management System (APMS) and Auxiliary Control System (ACS).

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Green Highways Policy

The Union government is all to unveil its Green Highways policy soon.

Details of the policy:

  • Under the policy, bushes and trees will be grown along all the highways in a phased manner.
  • The plan is to grow three layers of trees and bushes. The first will be of bushes so that if a vehicle goes off the road, it does not collide with something life-threatening. The second will be of medium-sized trees and the last will be of tall fruit trees. Only species indigenous to the area would be planted.

Purpose of this policy:

The purpose of this policy is to promote the greening of highway corridors with the participation of the local community, including local contractors and the local Forest Department. The latent objective was to generate employment.

Investment:

The investment in the project would be Rs. 1,000 crore this year. It is 1% of the Rs. 1,00,000-crore investment in national highway projects in the year.

Benefits of this policy:

  • The community will gain in terms of huge employment opportunities and entrepreneurship development
  • Huge environmental benefits are also associated with this policy.
  • The local community will get the rights to the non-timber produce from the trees.

Participation:

A wide cross-section of agencies would participate in the project. Those eligible include government or private companies, NGOs registered as societies, trusts or private limited non-profit companies, and producer organisations.

Targets:

The government has also laid down strict targets for the companies growing and maintaining trees. The minimum survival rate is 90%. Only after reaching this level will a company get the required money from the Ministry in the next year.

US, China to be part of Indian Army’s largest joint drill (FTX-2016) in Pune next year

Source: http://defencenews.in/defence-news-internal.aspx?get=new&id=jeqieMXFGUw=

NEW DELHI: Indian Army will hold its largest ever multi-nation military exercise in Pune next year, in which all the ten member states of ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners including China, Japan, Russia and the US will participate.

Army sources said for the period of 2014-17, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had developed a roadmap to build common understanding to achieve interoperability in the fields of Humanitarian Mine Action and UN Peacekeeping Operations in the region.

“For the first time in the history, Indian Army will be conducting one of the largest multinational exercise in March 2016 in Pune,” one of the sources said.

The sources added that the Field Training Exercise (FTX-2016) would involve participation from 18 ASEAN plus nations for a period of one week.

The countries that will take part in the joint exercises are the ASEAN’s 10 member states and eight dialogue partner countries which are China, Japan, South Korea, the US, India, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.

“The FTX-2016 would promote practical cooperation and give opportunity to share and learn good practices from each other,” a source said.

The Exercise Planning Conference for the FTX-2016 will start at Pune from tomorrow and end on September 30, and members from ASEAN Headquarters, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea and India would plan and coordinate the exercise events. Indian delegation is being led by Brigadier Ashok Narula from Army Headquarters, the sources said.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a political and economic organisation of ten Southeast Asian countries Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ASEAN and India reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen and advance the strategic partnership earlier this year and agreed to step-up cooperation.

Modi government’s Rs 10,000 crore plan to transform Andaman and Nicobar islands

Source: http://defencenews.in/defence-news-internal.aspx?get=new&id=1xnbTpbfu6Q=

India has drawn up an ambitious, Rs 10,000 crore plan to transform the Andaman and Nicobar Islands into the country’s first maritime hub, taking advantage of its strategic location and making it the base for infrastructure that will include an expanded dry dock and ship repair industry in the capital Port Blair.

The Narendra Modi government has readied a blueprint of the plan that also entails protection of the original Jarawa inhabitants while boosting the tourism potential of locations such as limestone caves and mud volcanoes.

“Plans for the projects that are to be undertaken over the next two years have already been formulated,” shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari told ET. “Action is being initiated.”

Projects that entail an investment of Rs 2,000 crore have been sanctioned and work on the rest of the programme will start soon.

The shipping ministry has prepared a 15-year perspective plan for the development of shipping and port infrastructure on the islands, which are home to India’s eastern and southern tips, putting them within close distance of an international shipping route.

Apart from ship repairs, the plan includes the development of port infrastructure, the acquisition of vessels to run mainland-island services, the purchase of tugs for safe berthing and sprucing up docking capacity.

“Andaman is a very sensitive zone. So, all these projects will have to be undertaken after assessing the impact on environment,” said a senior government official. “Tribal areas and tourist areas would be bifurcated. We are creating sea routes so that these areas are not disturbed.”

Over the past decades, the Jarawa indigenous peoples have been hit by the arrival of settlers from elsewhere in India and the limited development that has taken place, especially the construction of the Andaman Trunk Road and the rise in tourism. As is typical in such instances, this has meant the spread of disease among the Jarawa, sexual and other forms of abuse by outsiders, incursions into their territory and rampant poaching.

Campaigners have demanded that the government shut the trunk road and that there should be no forcible attempts to ‘mainstream’ them.

To be sure, the islands are a big tourist draw because the pristine waters make it ideal for diving.

To promote the area as a destination, the government has sanctioned a Rs 50 crore project on the development of a sea route from Port Blair to Baratang, one of the islands and home to the mud volcanoes. The project is being implemented by Andaman Lakshadweep Harbour Works and will be completed by October 2017. To augment the dry docking capacity in Port Blair, the existing facility will be expanded with an investment of about Rs 120 crore.

The government doesn’t want to be the sole participant in creating modern port and shipping infrastructure in the islands.

“For the ship repair industry, we are expecting private participation. The government has also set aside Rs 1,000 crore for the same,” said the official cited above.

Around the islands, 23 sites have been identified for development into ports, with seven of these being small facilities. The government plans to spend about Rs 4,000 crore on this project and also to create direct connectivity with Chennai and Vizag ports.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a chain of 572 islands of which a little more than 30 are inhabited. They constitute 0.2 per cent of India’s land mass but provide for 30 per cent of the country’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In keeping with their strategic location, the ministry is also collaborating with the ministry of defence through the Andaman and Nicobar Command to undertake some of the projects. The islands are scattered between the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea and are closer to Myanmar and Indonesia than the Indian mainland. Parts of the islands were devastated by the 2004 tsunami that originated off the Indonesian coast.

The ministry of defence is undertaking three different projects in the islands that will be of key strategic importance to India. Officials, however, didn’t provide details about the projects, saying all of them were critical in nature.

The southern islands lie near the Malacca Straits, a gateway to the Indian Ocean through which China gets some of its oil.

The southernmost tip, known as Indira point and located in the Greater Nicobar area, is 100 nautical miles away from Sumatra and 200 miles from Singapore. It’s an overnight journey to Phuket through the sea route from Greater Nicobar. However, no ship currently operates on this route.

“This region has huge potential for us as the international trading route that originates from Singapore and connects with the east-west corridor is hardly 15 nautical miles from Indira point,” said another government official.

The government has also planned a container transhipment terminal in the area to tap into the potential of the international trading route to cut down on freight costs. However, getting environmental clearance will be tough as the Greater Nicobar area has dense forests.

The Andaman and Nicobar administration is also planning to declare Port Blair a free trade area. But only clean, non-polluting industries will be allowed. The move is aimed at boosting employment opportunities, said an officer of the Andaman administration.

The government aims to acquire 60 small and large passenger and cargo ships for around Rs 5,000 crore.

“These ships would provide better connectivity with Chennai and Vizag port,” said one of the officials cited above. “We have already ordered two ships with capacity of 1,200 passengers and 100 tonnes of cargo each. Four small ships with capacity of 500 passengers each for inter-island connectivity are also being acquired.”

There is a plan to buy luxury cruise ships for wealthier visitors, to replace the aging, basic vessels that are available.

Haqqani’s advice to Pakistan: Stop ‘competing’ with India

Source: http://defencenews.in/defence-news-internal.aspx?get=new&id=dvT8ILtcDFs=

Former Pakistani ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani on Saturday advised Pakistan to stop ‘constantly competing’ with India and start focusing on its own welfare, NDTV reported.

“There is anxiety in Pakistan about everything that puts India at the centre on a global stage,” Haqqani said, while responding to a question whether Indian anxiety in Pakistan was linked to the G4 summit where India pitched for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Haqqani further said he did not agree with Pakistan’s attitude towards India. “And those attitudes are that India is a permanent enemy and the solution of Kashmir is key to any breakthrough between Pakistan and India,” he said.

Commenting on Pakistan’s attitude towards the G4 summit which was hosted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York and included Brazil, Germany and Japan, the former ambassador said, “So when you have that attitude entrenched in Islamabad and more so in Rawalpindi, then obviously there will be anxiety every time that India moves forward in getting international stature and this is definitely one of those moments.”

“Personally, I would like Pakistan to focus more on putting those children in Pakistan who are out of school into school. Pakistan has one of the largest out of school populations in the world. Our literacy rate in 1947 was 16% and India’s was 18%. It was a 2% difference. It has now become a 22% difference,” he added.

Further, Haqqani maintained Pakistan was being left behind while trying to compete with India. “What we should do is stop doing it and start focusing on our own welfare. But is that happening, no, and therefore, there will be anxiety as long as we continue to believe that Pakistan’s future lies in constant competition and rivalry with India. An unfortunate attitude but it is an attitude that exists.”