Monday, October 28, 2013

Between Lies and Ignorance

Pravin Sawhney comments on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent visit to China

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed nine agreements during his recent visit to China. The most awaited agreement, which took a long time to get mutually accepted, and on which both sides have expressed complete satisfaction was on Border Defence Cooperation (BDC). This has been hailed by the Prime Minister as the bedrock of harmonious relationship, without which the bilateral relationship may come unstuck.  
According to India’s ambassador in China, S. Jaishankar, the BDC agreement lays out a protocol to prevent incidents like the April-May Depsang (Ladakh) intrusions when Chinese troops came in and sat 19km inside Indian territory. And importantly it does not put any restrictions on India to enhance military capabilities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Elaborating, Jaishankar said that according to the ‘principle of mutual and equal security’ emphasised in the BDC, both countries are free to take military measures according to their security needs.
This is not true. India is legally committed under the 1993 and 1996 agreements, which have been unambiguously mentioned in the BDC agreement, to get China’s consent before enhancing its military capability on the 4.000km LAC. The 1993 agreement says that the two sides will have military forces along the LAC ‘in conformity with the requirements of the principle of mutual and equal security to ceilings to be mutually agreed’. Thus, the operative words in the principle are ‘mutually agreed ceilings.’
The 1996 agreement, which provides details of the confidence building measures along the LAC, once again emphasises on ‘mutually agreed ceilings’ by stating that, ‘major categories of armament to be subjected to ceilings include: combat tanks, infantry combat vehicles, guns with 75mm or bigger calibre, mortars with 120mm or bigger calibre, surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles and other weapons system mutually agreed upon.’
The 1993 and 1996 agreements are testimony to Chinese foresightedness and involvement of the People’s Liberation Army; both qualities lacking on the Indian side. To obfuscate matters, the BDC agreement has been drafted cleverly and mentions only ‘the principle of mutual and equal security’, and says that this should be read in conjunction with the 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2012 agreements. This way India has been helped by China to sell the BDC proposition back home by saying that India would be free to enhance its military prowess along the LAC according to its wishes.
To put matters further into perspective, even the principle of ‘mutual and equal security’ enshrined in the 1993 agreement was a blunder by India. Three Chinese military advantages make this principle meaningless. One, India will never be able to match Chinese rapid troops’ mobilisation through its excellent infrastructure including road and rail links to Tibet from the heartland, and enormous airlift capability. Two, Chinese troops have no requirement for acclimatisation in Tibet battlefield. Indian troops would need a minimum 21 days after its relatively slow mobilisation to be ready for war. And three, China being a closed society can easily hide its ballistic missiles in Tibet, something India will not be able to do.  
This is not all. Coming back to the BDC agreement, it states that, ‘the two sides shall not follow or tail patrols of the other side in areas where there is no common understanding of the LAC.’ Except for the 553km Middle sector, there is no mutual understanding on the remaining LAC in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. Thus, Chinese patrols could once again walk past the LAC to where they want and stay for whatever duration they want on India land. All they have to do is assert that they are on their side of the LAC. And, unlike the Depsang incidence, they, under the BDC, will not be ‘tailed’ by Indian forces. Think about the humiliation of Indian soldiers purportedly guarding the LAC at freezing heights of 10,000feet to 18,000feet round the year, when they will find Chinese patrols go merrily past them and they watch haplessly waiting for instructions from Delhi.

Given these realities, the BDC agreement has in essence demoted the military-held LAC to a frontier between India and China, akin to what it was during the heydays of the British rule in India. The word ‘frontier’ is defined as the limit of a nation’s political and military influence, while ‘LAC’ denotes the limit of national sovereignty that has to be defended at all costs. As China today is relatively more powerful economically, politically and militarily, the free trespassing of the LAC will be a one-way affair. A catch-up with Chinese growing political and military power will, for various reasons, not be possible for India into the foreseeable future. Thus, crossing the LAC is unlikely to become a two-way affair. As Chinese patrols go deeper and deeper into India territory as their global clout increases, are we not looking at an unfolding scenario where Sun Tzu’s famous words, ‘to defeat the enemy without a battle,’ may come true?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What India should watch out for during Chinese Prime Minister's visit

By Pravin Sawhney

We now know from the horse’s mouth why the Chinese border guards trooped in, pitched tents on Indian land in Ladakh, and left suddenly in 20 days. Their objective of getting Indian commitment to hold its capacity (infrastructure) and capability (troops and equipment) building below the threshold of military activism had been achieved. Encapsulated in the Defence Border Cooperation Agreement (DBCA) which was handed over to foreign minister Salman Khurshid during his recent Beijing visit, China is determined to operationalise a dormant clause of the 1993 Border Peace and Tranquillity Agreement (BPTA) on its terms for a quieter border.

Speaking recently with select Indian journalists, Qin Gang, director general, external publicity in the Chinese embassy in Delhi, gave two Chinese takeaways from the recent tension. One, ‘both sides did not allow it (intrusion) to contaminate other spheres of cooperation’. Translated, this means that Beijing is happy that India disregarded its core-interest of border resolution by focussing instead on overall bilateral relations. And two, ‘the incident should spur both sides to make greater efforts for a quieter border’. Explained, India should abandon its plans for more troops (proposed mountain strike corps, about 40,000 troops), equipment, airfields and advanced landing grounds, ballistic missile silos, and border infrastructure along the 4,056km Line of Actual Control (LAC). These issues will be discussed under the DBCA.

Unlike India, China does not have regular troops on the LAC. Instead, it has awesome air lift capability, a preponderance of accurate ballistic and cruise missiles, formidable Special Forces, world class space and cyber capabilities, and a flat Tibetan plateau to fight a border war. Above all, it has the psychological advantage of having vanquished Indian political leadership in the 1962 war. Given all this, India, under pressure of the 20-day Ladakh stand-off, should not have agreed to discuss the DBCA which fundamentally calls for reduced Indian military presence on the border.

To be sure, the DBCA will set the stage for bilateral relations under the fifth generation Chinese leadership, beginning with Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit on May 19. Beijing had been uneasy since 2008 when in a bottom-up approach, the Indian defence ministry had given the go-ahead to the army and the air force to build capacity and capability along the Western (Ladakh) and Eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors of the LAC which is neither demarcated (identified on ground) or delimited (agreed on maps). In the classified ministerial directive issued to the defence services in February 2009, defence minister, A.K. Antony had instructed them to prepare capabilities for a two-front (Pakistan and China) threat. To China’s discomfiture, the tussle between the activist military seeking means to defend the disputed border and the pacifist foreign ministry mandarins who since the 1988 visit of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to China had accepted that the border dispute was not India’s core-interest had to be settled.

Chinese reasoned that burgeoning Indian military activism would not only impede its grand strategy of strategic encirclement of India from land and sea, but could also cross path with China’s core-interest of Tibet. For instance, after the passing away of the Dalai Lama, China is certain to ask India to ban the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala. And the means to exert pressure would be the disputed border with imbalanced capacity and capability for a border war. Thus, by relenting on Chinese terms to discuss and settle the DBCA, India is likely to deprive itself of the muscle for meaningful and serious diplomacy, which must involve a give and take. Considering that the foreign ministry has taken credit for resolving the 20-day Ladakh crisis, its policy of appeasement is expected to prevail.

This will please China, accustomed to signing advantageous treaties with India since 1988 when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited China. Gandhi accepted Deng’s terms for building bilateral relations. The border dispute was not discussed by them and emphasis was placed on developing overall relationship. Worse, in a unilateral goodwill gesture, the 15-year border infrastructure and military build-up plan which was started in 1980 by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and General K.V. Krishna Rao was abandoned. India decided to take-on the Chinese challenge by diplomacy alone.

The September 1993 BPTA signed during Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao’s China visit re-named the entire disputed border as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). India’s sense of agreeing to this was that instead of resolving the entire border as one whole, both sides could now do so progressively in three parts (Western, Middle and Eastern) and make it peaceful. In reality, it worked to Chinese advantage. With the entire border being called the LAC, intrusions and border skirmishes increased, as Chinese with more gumption kept pushing the border envelopment. Thus, while between 1962 and 1993, there were only two border incidents in 1967 at Nathu La and the 1986 Sumdorong Chu crisis, thereafter, border intrusions rose steadily with each year.

Now, China wants to activate a generic sentiment listed in the BPTA which seeks less troops on the border; something that Delhi has agreed to work upon. However, having accepted to discuss DBCA, Delhi should not agree to any more Chinese conditions for a quieter border, for these will put Indian military at a disadvantageous position.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cruise Control

The recent BrahMos test-firing has brought into focus the importance of cruise missiles

By Pravin Sawhney

The successful maiden test-firing of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from an underwater pontoon on March 20 was more important than has been understood in the popular perception. Media focus, unfortunately, has been on the negatives: there is no submarine platform (Project 75I) to use this version of BrahMos missile; the missile has been test-fired from a stationary underwater pontoon and not a submarine; as Project 75I acquisition is a good decade away (the RFP has still not been issued), the underwater cruise missile technology would become obsolete, are some of the comments which betray both a lack of understanding of the subject and its operational utility and context.

It seems to have been forgotten that Pakistan successfully test-fired its long range 1,000km sub-sonic Babur cruise missile, in August 2005, which since has joined its army’s inventory, upsetting the operational balance between the two militaries. While bean counting of assets between India and Pakistan is unnecessary, a new weapon system joining one’s inventory has serious operational implications for both sides, since neither is expected to use nukes early in a war. Probably a step by step approach is required to understand the latest progress in the BrahMos phenomenon: how cruise missiles relate to war? The quality of cruise missile with India and Pakistan, and the road ahead, are questions that need to be pondered over. The issue assumes importance since cruise missiles, unlike ballistic missiles, will be used freely in a conventional war.

A cruise missile is a dispensable, pilot-less, guided, continuously-powered, endo-atmospheric (stays within the atmosphere) vehicle that is supported by wings and is powered by the same kind of jet engine as an aircraft. Unlike a ballistic missile, that is powered and usually guided for only the brief initial part of its flight till it leaves the atmosphere, a cruise missile requires continuous power and guidance, since both the velocity and the direction of its flight can be unpredictably altered by local weather conditions or changes in the performance of its propulsion system. For instance, a ballistic missile is guided for the first five of the 20 minutes it takes to travel 5,000km; a cruise missile, which usually flies at subsonic speed, would require close to six hours of continuous guided flight to cover the same distance. Hence, guidance errors that accumulate with time would be almost a hundred times larger for a cruise missile than for a ballistic missile with a comparable range. Accurate arrival of a cruise missile at a target is achieved with continuous inertial guidance only by correcting it from time to time with fresh information about the missile’s position.

In terms of cost, cruise missiles are less costly to design, develop, procure, maintain and operate than ballistic missiles. In operational terms, cruise missiles are better suited than ballistic missiles for use with conventional warheads as their accuracy is far better. The aerodynamic stability of the cruise missile permits the use of less-sophisticated and therefore, less costly guidance and control methods than in the case of ballistic missiles, which undergo the stresses of re-entry into the atmosphere with high speed. For example, cruise missiles can receive satellite navigation corrections all the way to the target from the US Global Positioning System (GPS) or Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) leading to 10 metres Circular Error Probability. CEP is a measure of accuracy, defined as the radius of a circle in which 50 per cent of missiles are successfully delivered.

Another appealing operational feature of cruise missiles is that they can be placed in canisters, which makes them easy to maintain and operate in harsh environment. Their relative compact size offers more flexible launch options, more mobility for ground-launched versions, and a smaller logistics burden, which reduces their battlefield vulnerability to detection — and thus improves their pre-launch survivability. Moreover, cruise missiles dictate no special launch pad stability requirements and can be launched from ships, submarines, aircraft and ground launchers with ease.

Most importantly, cruise missiles can fly low and hence pose severe detection challenges even for airborne radars due to ground clutter. Moreover, cruise missiles’ exhaust plumes are not generally detected by launch warning systems, and unlike ballistic missiles, their flight paths are unpredictable. Given the fact that reductions in radar cross-section are easier to accomplish in cruise missile designs than in manned aircraft, cruise missile pose a formidable challenge to modern air defence systems. In comparison, at least to a limited extent, defences against ballistic missiles are available with the US, Russia, Israel and China.

In more specific terms, the operational importance of cruise missiles owes to the advances in propulsion (engine), guidance and navigation technologies. The air breathing engines for propulsion are of two types: turbojet and turbofan. Turbofan engines consume much less fuel than turbojets of equivalent size; hence are more complex system and extremely expensive. Accordingly, turbofan engines are considered suitable for long-range cruise missiles with ranges between 600km to 2,000km. At present, only a few advanced countries have mastered the turbofan propulsion technology. Interestingly, China is amongst them. In 1994, the Clinton administration in the US approved a half-billion-dollar sale of turbofan engines by AlliedSignal to China for use in business aircraft. These engines were reversed engineered by the Chinese to upgrade their Silkworms Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCM) to 600km range. China publicly unveiled its WS500 turbofan engine (subsequently used in Babur Land Attack Cruise Missile) at the Zhuhai Air Show in late 2004. Developed by the Chinese Gas Turbine Establishment, the WS500 is claimed to produce around 1,125lbs of thrust. By comparison, the US Tomahawk engine produces 700lbs thrust.

The turbojet engine is more widely used in cruise missile with ranges up to 500km, referred to as tactical missile. The ramjet propulsion engine is a derivative of turbojet engine. Unlike in the case of turbojet propulsion that produces subsonic speeds, in ramjet, adequate pressure is built up within the engine to produce supersonic speeds of Mach 2 (Mach 1 is equivalent to the speed of sound which is 1,000km per hour) to Mach 4. The main disadvantage of the ramjet is that it requires to be boosted from static to a suitable high velocity, usually around Mach 2, to create a high enough pressure (called ram pressure) for the ramjet propulsion to work. However, a ramjet is much simpler than turbojet or turbofan propulsion.

Regarding the navigation and control of cruise missiles, it can be done by various methods that include simple mid-course correction by pre-programmed autopilot, and terminal guidance by passive radio frequency homing, radar, or passive Infra Red. The Inertial Navigation System (INS) that uses accelerometers and gyroscopes that detect motion and calculate changes in relative position are not very helpful with cruise missiles as given their slow motion and long range, adequate inaccuracies accumulate that make it unreliable for use in conventional missions. The answer is to integrate GPS with INS. The problem with the GPS is that the US defence department has intentionally added an inaccuracy in the system called Selective Availability (SA), so that only the US military gets the accurate signal codes for its use. Interestingly, US companies themselves have created a technique called the Digital Ground Precision System (DGPS) which has removed most of the inherent GPS’ SA inaccuracies. Commercial DGPS are available in the open market and India and Pakistan are amongst the many countries that have sought the DGPS.

Probably what makes cruise missiles an attractive weapon system for developing countries is the stronger consensus amongst the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) members that restricting ballistic missiles is more important than cruise missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) systems. This has motivated many countries to upgrade ASCM and UAV to Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM). Moreover, the MTCR threshold of 500kg payload and 300km range is more suited for ballistic rather than cruise missiles. From an engineering standpoint, it is relatively easy to scale-up the range of an existing cruise missile system than a ballistic missile. The technology required to produce a 600km range cruise missile is not fundamentally different from that needed for very short-range cruise missiles. Hence, UAV technologies falling clearly below the MTCR threshold can be exported and applied to the development of long-range cruise missiles. Moreover, the structures, propulsion, autopilot, and navigation systems used in manned aircraft are essentially interchangeable with those of cruise missiles. Against this backdrop, Pakistan’s Babur and India’s BrahMos cruise missiles need to be assessed to determine their operational capabilities. 



Babur’s two technology advantages are its turbofan propulsion, and its navigation and guidance system comprising the radar altimeter and a digital imaging infrared seeker. Unlike India that started with the low-end of technology by making BrahMos into an ASCM to be upgraded to LACM, Babur’s evolution appears to be the other way round. It has been developed as a long-range LACM and its naval version will be made in limited numbers to be carried by F-22P guided missile frigates.

The radar altimeter enables the cruise missile to fly as low as 20m over water, 50m over moderately hilly terrain, and 100m over mountains. (This capability makes the missile difficult to detect with ground-based radar). Fitted with turbofan propulsion, a cruise missile is capable of ranges up to 2,000km at low altitude and perhaps 50 per cent more if the first 1,500km are flown at higher altitude and the rest at tree top level.

As a thumb rule, more fuel is consumed if a cruise missile travels low, and inversely, less fuel is expended if a cruise missile travels at higher altitudes within the atmosphere. Given these technical parameters, Pakistan media reports claiming that the 10 August 2005 test-firing of Babur achieved a range of 500km at a low cruising altitude of 100m at a speed of Mach 0.7 sound plausible. Moreover, Babur has tremendous inherent potential to be made into an accurate long range LACM.

The introduction of Babur missile by Pakistan coincides well with the Chinese focus on cruise missiles with longer ranges since the Nineties. For example, China reportedly has a number of cruise missile programmes underway. These include the YJ-62 long-range ASCM, as well as air and ground launched derivatives. For missile guidance, China has acquired active radar guidance for terminal guidance in addition to electro-optical seeker for LACM.

It will be appropriate to assume that China, which cares little about international non-proliferation treaties and obligations, would have shared advanced cruise missile technology with Pakistan. In summation, Babur, with state-of-the-art turbofan technology procured from China, is expected to be used as sub-sonic LACM and on surface ships.



What makes BrahMos cruise missile extraordinary is that it is the only significant weapon system produced by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which has evolved in reasonable time and cost-lines and has been accepted by all the three defence services (navy, army and air force) readily without government pressure. The missile has two-stage propulsion — solid propellant rocket for initial acceleration and liquid fuelled ramjet for sustained supersonic cruise — achieving a speed of 2.8 Mach to deliver a 300kg payload. Russia has provided propulsion, while India is responsible for navigation based on inertial navigation system.

A brainchild of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, BrahMos has matured through Dr Sivathanu Pillai’s efforts as a multi-role cruise missile. The inter-governmental joint venture agreement signed between India and Russia on 12 February 1998 formed the BrahMos Aerospace to build ASCM to be jointly designed, developed, produced and marketed. Fifteen years later, in February 2012 when BrahMos celebrated its landmark anniversary, it had achieved the unexpected. Starting with INS Rajput in 2005, BrahMos has been accepted by the navy to be its offensive weapon on all surface ships. The army has accepted three versions of BrahMos LACM. Three regiments of BrahMos Block I and II have been raised as part of artillery divisions. Block I is with radio frequency seekers, while Block II has indigenous software developed by BrahMos and DRDO for better accuracy against smaller targets.

In tandem with GPS, an accuracy of 10m has been achieved. Block III version is meant for mountains, where BrahMos’ steep-dive capability meant to cover targets behind mountain ridges (called dead ground in army parlance) was successfully demonstrated to the army on 5 September 2010.  Orders for a regiment of BrahMos LACM Block III version have since been placed. The BrahMos LACM version will be provided with an Infrared missile seeker with an inbuilt camera to provide simultaneous photographs of the target to minimise collateral damage.

Meanwhile, work has started on adopting BrahMos for the air and undersea versions. The air version will be lighter in weight and the government has cleared modifications on 42 numbers of Su-30MKI aircraft to have the supersonic missile. All checks and analysis by HAL and the Sukhoi design bureau have been completed and the field ‘drop test’ of BrahMos from the Su-30MKI is slated for the end of the year, with the production expected to commence in 2014.

Meanwhile, BrahMos created a record of sorts by its recent underwater launch from a pontoon platform. The navy is satisfied with the tests and preliminary acceptance to have eight vertically launched BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles on each P-75I submarine has been cleared. Consider a realistic naval firepower potential a decade from now: All Kilo-class submarines will be fitted with the Russian Klub 3E-14E LACM. With each submarine carrying 16 to 18 of these 300km range missiles, the navy will have devastating firepower to employ in various tactical scenarios. This is not all. With P-75I submarines getting inducted into service, they would be fitted with both Klub 3E-14E LACM and improved BrahMos missiles; then, even reduced submarine numbers will be made good by better capabilities.

Probably the biggest limitations of BrahMos are its 290km range and 300kg warhead, well under the MTCR range threshold of 300km and 500kg. Fitted with ramjet propulsion, BrahMos rises up to an altitude of nearly 10km to 12km, before the ramjet propulsion takes over to provide the missile with a speed of Mach 2.8 during the cruising phase. BrahMos’ advantage is that with its high speed, it is capable of travelling its maximum range in four minutes. Even as the missile during its initial phase will provide a sizeable signature for the enemy acquisition radar, there will be little time to take counter measures to stop the missile.

On balance, BrahMos has three distinctive features. One, except for the air version, it has a universal launcher for its naval and land versions. Two, the same missile, without any modification, can be employed against any ship or land targets. And three, no land forces in the world are equipped with supersonic cruise missiles. Specific to Pakistan, with kinetic energy nine times more than Babur, BrahMos is a formidable supersonic cruise missile.  

What India now urgently needs is a cruise missiles policy, whose long-term developmental focus should be three-pronged: to improve BrahMos to hypersonic speeds, to work on a long range subsonic cruise missile with indigenous turbofan propulsion, and Cruise Missile Defence (CMD). There will also be the need to decide various platforms for cruise missiles, as being the prime target of the enemy these will be vulnerable. For example, the LACM can be fired from mobile launchers, hardened silos and submarines; the ideal, of course, will be to have a mix of all three.

There is a need to exploit BrahMos, which is available in all three sea, land and air versions, optimally. At present, BrahMos uses the GPS. It is known that the Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) is working on an indigenous GPS, which has been partially successful. Once accomplished, this will be a major breakthrough in providing secure and improved guidance to cruise missiles. Another cruise missile project should concentrate on scramjet propulsion, to take the missile to hypersonic speeds of Mach 10, something that BrahMos Aerospace has initiated. It may be recalled that conceptual work on hypersonic propulsion was started in 1993 by the then DRDO chief, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. In addition to the engine itself, the need will be for composite materials that can withstand high temperatures for trans-atmospheric flight. Unfortunately, material management has never been India’s strength and outside help (Russia) would be needed.

Probably the most daunting challenge will be the Cruise Missile Defence (CMD), especially when futuristic missiles are expected to have hypersonic propulsion. The answer to this lies in directed energy weapons, which derive their destructive power from electromagnetic energy or subatomic particle beams aimed against an incoming warhead, and travel close to or at the speed of light. For example, laser light can be used as directed energy weapon. Laser guided weapons differ from the anti-missile weapon systems in three fundamental ways: One, in laser weapons destructive energy is transported to the target in the form of an intense beam of electromagnetic waves rather than in the form of an explosive charge carried inside a missile or shell. Two, this energy travels at the speed of light, that is, 3.10 (to power 8) metres per second, compared with 1,000 to 2,000m per second that a supersonic missile should be capable of. And three, the laser beam can damage a target only if it physically strikes it. It is axiomatic that laser weapons are best directed from space. While India is in no way near such advanced research and in principle opposes militarisation of space, it must start appreciating the non-military applications of space.

In a rare candid admission, a former DRDO chief, M. Natarajan has said: “The lack of success in developing indigenous propulsion systems for the country’s major programmes is a cause of concern. Affected are programmes such as the aero engines for fighter aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles, engines for tanks and naval propulsion and ramjet and hypersonic propulsion for missiles.” Taking cue, the DRDO should abandon its penchant for hype and boasting, and indeed concentrate on essentials with transparency. The growth trajectory of BrahMos Aerospace has set the roadmap for future developments.

Risks to Women

A few weeks ago, FICCI organized a round table discussion on risks to women in India. I was invited to moderate the discussion. This is what I said...


Two observations: One, it is indeed progress that an industrial federation has found it worth its while to organise a discussion on risks to women. Given that industry is notorious for living by the balance sheet, it is very heartening to see attention being given to a subject which has traditionally been low-priority.

My second observation is that despite this initiative, women’s security is still considered a woman’s matter. Not for a moment I want to undermine the eminence of this panel, but the very fact that it overwhelmingly comprises women suggests that men still consider this a bit of a non-issue. This is not only undermines woman’s safety in the public spheres, but also underlines the primary reason why they are unsafe.

Why this undermines woman’s safety? Simply because our public spaces are overpopulated by men. Hence, no matter what we do at our end, to a very large extent, women will always have to depend upon a male guarantee to their security. Right from her workplace to a public park, women have to bargain space and security with men. A woman’s security is not a woman’s issue, it is a societal issue which has to be addressed by both men and women.

And why this underlines the reasons for women insecurity? Because by putting the responsibility of their security on women, the men willy-nilly apportion the blame on women, should anything happen to them. By holding the victim responsible for the fate that befells her, they showcase the mental make-up which discriminates against women, and not just in public spaces. Even at home, women are vulnerable, and most often this vulnerability is reinforced by women themselves, whether their mothers or mothers in law.

Coming to the specifics, what are the risks to women’s safety? At home, it can be an abusive or exploitative childhood, violent marriage and dowry harassment. Or something as invisible as undermining of her personality and spirit by constant emotional and psychological battering: by isolating her from decision-making; by not allowing her to spend her earnings, if at all, in the manner she wishes to; by isolating her from her family and friends; by running down her abilities and so on.

At workplace, sexual harassment is the most obvious threat. But that apart, a lot of threats that exist at home exist at the workplace too. For instance, women workers are mocked for their inability to put in certain number of hours; they are arbitrarily considered less efficient for certain jobs or conversely are considered more efficient for certain jobs, like public relations which is a not so subtle reference to their sexuality.

In public places, from verbal assault (which we delicately put as eve-teasing) to physical assault, it’s an open field.

The irony is, even in the so-called safe environs, the gender and cultural insensitivity leads to further violations of a woman, whether it is the police stations, the hospitals or the court rooms.

So where do we begin? After all these years, it is clear that our deterrence against the predators who stake women out has not worked. In fact, punishment has not been a deterrence at all. It is some kind of unfathomable vileness that leads men to commit sexual crimes against women. It just cannot be the over-confidence that they won’t get caught. What explains the behaviour of the hotel owner in Agra? How did he imagine he would get away with whatever he intended to do?

After the gruesome December incident, all kinds of mind-numbing and blood-curling statistics appeared in the press underlying how unsafe women are. Figures don’t really register in my mind. But what did, was a traditional lunch that I and a group of my girlfriends have once in two months. We have known each other on an average for about 10-12 years. But somehow personal incidents of sexual harassment or abuse never really figured in our conversations.

However, such was the impact of the December rape and murder case that we started sharing our personal histories. Shockingly, each one of us had an incident or two to narrate; ranging from every day verbal assault to more invidious instances of stalking and indecent propositioning at workplace. One had even suffered persistent molestation by her tutor as a child. Ironically, the shame of it was reinforced in all our cases by the women in our lives, our mothers, aunts and older sisters.

So really, where do we begin?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Giving Pakistan a taste of its own medicine

By Pravin Sawhney

While confirming that the recent mutilation of two Indian soldiers on the Line of Control was the handiwork of Pakistani regulars, defence minister A.K. Antony said that India was watching the situation, a euphemism for military inaction. Taking cue, the army, has confirmed its resolve to continue with counter-terrorism operations adding that 2,500 infiltrators are waiting to cross the LC. Pakistan, on the other hand, slipped into denial mode, with its foreign minister, Hina Rabbani offering cooperation for a UN probe into the matter, which India rejected. This was clear evidence, if one was needed, that the raid had sanction from the highest level at General Headquarters, and the latter controls India policy. Meanwhile, having got a good sensational story, the Indian media went into an overdrive speculating motives behind the dastardly act and what India should do to teach the Pakistan Army a lesson.

Writing in the Hindustan Times newspaper, one defence analyst with army background has suggested that the Pakistani post from where the raiders came should be decimated by massive artillery firepower. This is what should not be done. The Pakistan Army will seize the opportunity with ferocious firepower retaliation leading to the end of ceasefire on the LC. The latter will both then facilitate infiltration under cover fire and India will be seen as aggressors in Kashmiri perception. The Indian response should also not be more CI ops, something that works to Pakistan Army’s satisfaction; the India Army continues to bleed itself in an unending war with little threat to Pakistan. The answer lies in giving the Pakistan Army a taste of its own medicine. This should be done by regular raids by Indian Army Special Forces across the LC at a time of its own choosing, while keeping a firm grip over the war escalatory ladder. How?

Three simultaneous actions by Indian defence ministry will get Pakistan army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani to the edge of his chair wondering what to do next? In the next three months, the Indian Army should move 40 to 50 per cent of its Rashtriya Rifles (RR) troops from its CI role in the hinterland to the LC. Of the present five divisions (called RR Force Headquarters), two divisions or about 25,000 troops can be pulled to the LC for the conventional war role. This should not be difficult as forward elements of these forces (reconnaissance and order groups) have been familiarising themselves for the war contingency. In addition, two Special Forces units doing CI ops in Kashmir should also be moved to the LC.

Meanwhile, the fence on the LC which gets damaged by snow, especially in the higher reaches, each year, should not be re-built this season. This will both facilitate Indian raids when they happen, and will leave the Pakistan Army perplexed about Indian motives. And lastly, in a war-like mode, defence ministry officials should procure ammunition and missiles from abroad to make up war wastage rate deficiencies of the Indian Army, something that was done during the 1999 Kargil conflict. Even if India does not want war, the army should have adequate ammunition for a credible holding (and probing, if needed) action on the border.

Once these preparations are afoot, the Pakistan Army, in all possibility, will get the message and be compelled to even scale down infiltration across the LC, something that usually goes up each year with the melting of snow. The Indian Army offensive strategy will become clear to GHQ, Rawalpindi. It will be raids across the LC, and should Pakistan escalate operations, there will be credible Indian forces (pivot corps) on the border to checkmate the machinations without venturing into Pakistan territory. The Pakistan Army leadership, committed on its western front against Afghanistan, will find it difficult to keep supporting the Jehadis (Laskhar terrorists) across the LC. The Pakistan Army for once in 22 years, when insurgency started in Kashmir in 1990, will be on the back-foot.
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Highlights from the January cover story

The Indian Army may not have ammunition to fight the next war (with Pakistan, not to mention China) beyond three to five days. Holdings for all types of missiles, and anti-tank ammunition are critically low. Stockings for artillery (70 per cent fuses needed for firing are unavailable) and armour fighting vehicles ammunition are unlikely to last beyond four to five days of intense war. War Wastage Reserves (WWR) for most ammunition categories do not exist.


How has the prestigious 13 lakh-strong army remained unprepared for so long? At the heart of this tragedy is the government’s weird idea of indigenisation with the fulcrum around the 41 units of OFB and the 10 Defence Public Sector units (DPSUs) being run as personal fiefdoms by defence ministry bureaucrats.


Over 50 per cent of the T-72 tank fleet (around 2,500 numbers) gun barrels require urgent replacements as being sub-standard they cannot be used.


70 per cent of artillery ammunition is without fuses and hence, cannot be used. Units have found sealed ammunition with fungus on them and there have been regular cases of propellant leakages from charges.


Take the case of Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle, which has been with the army since Eighties and its ToT was transferred to OFB. Even today, the weapon and its ammunition are imported from the Swedish OEM.

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