Big Picture, GS-3, Uncategorized

Intelligence sharing for internal security

Introduction

  • Any fight against terrorism, insurgency and internal security would be incomplete without a strong and a robust intelligence network, feedback or its analysis. Prime Minister speaking at 11th meeting of Inter–State Council pointed out about internal security.
  • There is a need to improve intelligence, improve the system of information exchange between different stake holders and states should remain alert and updated.
  • The present scenario of the country is that the threat from outside is not only along borders but anywhere in the country. All the states have to remain alert and they have to coordinate and share the intelligence gathered. In the same manner centre should also share the intelligence with the sates.
  • It is the coordination between all the agencies which are working with in the country and those gathering information outside the country. Having coordination with peace loving countries is very important.
  • In India there is a thin line between external security threat and internal security threat. We live with anaggressive neighbourhood. Pakistan which is a nursery of terrorism is waging proxy war on India over the decades.
  • National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) was created in 2012 and due to some circumstances it slowed down. The present government is reviving it to give it a practical shape. This is known to be a robust intelligence gathering mechanism.
  • All the intelligence agencies in the country sit together, coordinate and analyse all the intelligence information available and analyse the real threat and pass on to agencies which are required to take counter action.
  • The passing of information is very quick and if this carries on in a positive manner, this will benefit all the security forces and the people working on ground.

Centre and State coordination

  • Centre is operating internal security through its Armed forces, Para military forces and intelligence agencies. Apart from the union government, the states cannot ignore the developments taking place inside the country and even globally.
  • Terrorism has become a global phenomenon now. The developments taking place in any part of the world may have the ramifications on our internal security.
  • There is a need to keep politics aside while discussing issues like National security, NATGRID, and upgrading Armed forces. Having national consensus on security related issues is very important.

Importance of technology in Intelligence gathering

  • Human intelligence is different from technology intelligence. Human Intelligence may not include featureistic intelligence. Where as in technology intelligence the access to information is fast and easy. While tracking a suspicious movement, this technology plays an important role like tracking through satellites.
  • With the coordination of Technology intelligence and human intelligence we can get real time information which is required for action against the terrorist threat or any other threat to the country.
  • NATGRID is also going to be an ambitious counter terrorism programme. No counter terrorism programme in the world would be complete without use of the latest technology. It is believed that latest technology would be available to NATGRID and these should be available to other arms of intelligence gathering systems also.

Coastal Security

  • India’s very long coast line makes the coastal security a significant importance. We have a National Maritime Awareness Grid which coordinates with coastal guard, the coastal police and with the Navy. There are two different ministries – Ministry of shipping and Ministry of fishing who are also involved.
  • The terrorist infiltration through coastal areas is increasing as seen in Mumbai and Gujarat. Coastal areas cannot be ignored. There is already a great surveillance in the land borders of the frontiers. Government has laid a great importance on coastal security.
  • Earlier coastal borders were considered safer than land borders with countries like Pakistan and China. Now there is a great emphasis on coastal security.

Importance of Rapid Response capabilities

  • In today’s world an important element while fighting against terrorism is the time frame. We need to strengthen the Rapid Response capabilities.
  • In case the information is delivered late and the terrorist activity has already taken place, this would cause a major damage to the nation. This was happening previously when the technology intelligence was not available. Now with the latest technology available we are preventing these activities.
  • There is a need to go ahead and anticipate in case there is any security threat to our country. This can happen only when the information is available with the security agencies much in time.

Cyber Crime

  • The technology is not available only with security agencies, but also with terrorist organisations. This brings in the importance of cyber crime.
  • Cyber crime has two aspects. Cyber crime is not only related to local crime, but the terrorist network all over the world is increasingly using cyber technology.
  • Cyber space and social media is the fastest means available with the terrorists. They can brain wash the youth through their network. This is used by ISIS and it played a big role in motivating youth in Australia, Europe and Kashmir.
  • There is a need to protect critical network infrastructure of Banks and Government Agencies. People are being trained to counter cyber attack.
  • There are many initiatives taken by the centre like modernising the police forces to update the intelligence network.
  • In 2014 there was 136% increase in cyber crime threats and attacks against Government of India organisations. 126% increase in cyber attacks in financial services organisations. We have seen Chinese hacking our Armed forces website and Pakistan hacking our security forces website,
  • This shows the challenge cyber crime poses. National Cyber Security Policy is been strengthened. Steps are taken to plug the loopholes.

Conclusion

No internal security network would be strengthened unless centre and state focus on intelligence gathering and sharing. A coordinated plan of intelligence gathering and dissemination should come into place immediately without any delay so that we can tackle the present challenges effectively.

GS-3, Internal security, Uncategorized

Maharashtra to have own law for internal security

Maharashtra Government has proposed an internal security act to deal with the challenges of terrorism and communal and caste violence. The proposed legislation, ‘Maharashtra Protection of Internal Security Act, 2016,’ would be the first such state-level act for internal security which will give more power to the police department if implemented.

What’s there in the draft?

  • It proposes ‘special security zones’ where movement of arms, explosives and inflow of unaccounted funds will be prohibited.
  • Dams, defence institute bases, government buildings or facilities, nuclear reactors, transportation systems have been identified as ‘critical infrastructure sectors’ under the act.
  • It proposes a ban or regulation of production, sale, storage, possession or entry of any devices or equipment or poisonous, chemical, biological or radioactive article or substances, or electronic content of potentially explosive nature or any inflow of funds in the SSZ, if it is a threat to the internal security or public order in the area.
  • Every public establishment and government office shall carry out the security audit of its premises and every owner of the premises of the public establishment shall save video footage of public activities for a period of 30 days.
  • It will be compulsory for all the private institutions to have CCTV surveillance and security arrangements as guided by the police.
  • There would be a ‘state internal security committee’ with Home Minister as ex-officio Chairman, and include Minister of State (Home) and the Chief Secretary. It would oversee the implementation of this act and also review its implementation.
  • The act provides strict action against those who hamper the critical assets by means of facilities systems and equipments which if destroyed, degraded or rendered unavailable would affect reliability or operability of the system jeopardizing the national security or economic security. The act also has brought a check over public agitation.
  • As per the provisions in the act the prior police permission would be needed for any gathering where more than 100 people are expected. Many fear that this is a move to curtail public agitations. Even if the act clarifies that any bona fide act against the policies of the govt with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful and peaceful mean shall not be deemed as act intended to endanger the safety or the stability of the state.
GS-3, Internal security, Uncategorized

China instigated Naga outfit: Centre

The Hindu

News:

  • For the first time, the Centre has admitted officially that the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), named after its Myanmar-based leader S.S. Khaplang, intensified violence in the Northeast in 2015 at the behest of the Chinese.
  • The admission was made in depositions by the Centre and other States before a tribunal set up early this year to adjudicate the ban on the insurgent outfit under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
  • The full order of the tribunal, which upheld the decision to ban the outfit for five years, has neither been posted online nor publicised.
  • The order reveals that Nagaland was the only State which was not in favour of declaring the NSCN-K an unlawful association and sought a “peaceful political solution”. Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur supported the ban.
  • It was in September 2015, the Centre moved to ban the NSCN-K following which the tribunal under the UAPA, led by Delhi High Court judge Najmi Waziri, was set up.
  • On February 12, when the tribunal was hearing the case in Gangtok, Sikkim, the Ministry of Home Affairs made a written submission that the NSCN-K “obtained assistance from anti-India forces in other countries to procure arms…in its struggle for the creation of a separate State,” the only direct reference to foreign help to the outfit.

Given to violence

  • According to the Central government, the NSCN-K is professed to violent activities.
  • According to the government’s intelligence report of April 2015, 130 cadres of NSCN-K were camping across the Myanmar border with the intention to assault Assam Rifles personnel and attacking their outposts at Longwa village in Mon district, while another armed group of 30-40 cadres was found to be proceeding towards Chenmoho in Mon district from its general headquarters at Throillo in Myanmar.
  • It is the government’s view that the NSCN-K has been aiding and sheltering other unlawful groups such as ULFA, NDFB and CorCom, particularly at their bases in Myanmar.
Editorials, Uncategorized

A licence to kill innovation

Article Link

The Ministry of Home Affairs recently released a draft of “The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016.” The draft Bill came under scathing criticism on social media and other online platforms for its draconian features. In the light of this, the government now has proposed to review this bill.

  • The Bill basically aims to regularize critical information on Maps services that affect “the security, sovereignty and integrity” of the country.

Highlights of the Bill:

  • According to the draft, it will be mandatory to take permission from a government authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India.
  • The draft Bill will ensure that online platforms like Google will have to apply for a licence to run Google Maps or Google Earth in India.
  • The bill also says that no person shall depict, disseminate, publish or distribute any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries through internet platforms or online services or in any electronic or physical form.
  • Also, any addition or creation of anything that has to do with any geospatial information – or location – within the territory of India will need the permission of the government or, in this case, a Security Vetting Authority.
  • The bill also imposes hefty fines for illegal acquisition, dissemination, publication and distribution of geospatial information of India.

What does Security Vetting Authority do?

It grants licenses to organisations/individuals who want to use geospatial data. It will check the content and data provided and make sure it is well within national policies, “with the sole objective of protecting national security, sovereignty, safety and integrity”

What does “geospatial information” mean?

According to the draft it means:

  • Geospatial imagery or data acquired through space or aerial platforms such as satellite, aircrafts, airships, balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • Graphical or digital data depicting natural or man-made physical features, phenomenon or boundaries of the earth.
  • Any information related thereto including surveys, charts, maps, terrestrial photos referenced to a co-ordinate system and having attributes.

Why this is a not so good move?

  • The proposed bill brings back licence raj. For each map of India or its regions created by any company will have to be vetted by a committee. There will a fee that will have to be paid and the licence will have to be sought.
  • The proposed bill makes “every person” associated with the business offering map service an accessory to a crime in case of any violation, intended or unintended.
  • The proposed bill effectively ends crowd-sourcing. This means when you see your area in Google Maps and want to fix a mistake, you won’t be able to do that. The proposed bill also affects the real-time gathering of geo data. This too will make the map services almost useless.
  • Companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple, which have millions of Indians using their maps, would be hit directly by the legislation if it is pushed through. Firms that depend on these maps to provide their services, such as Uber, Zomato and Ola, too would be affected.
  • The security vetting authority removes sensitive zones from the data and takes about two-three months or even more to respond, which is an unrealistic timeline for people working with digital data. There is also apprehension that the Bill will undermine rescue and humanitarian efforts, such as during disasters like the Nepal earthquake.
  • Also of concern is the lack of court’s jurisdiction in matters related to the proposed legislation.
  • It’s not just app developers that will require a license. As per the current draft, every end user of these apps who does things like shares their location with a friend, posts a status update, or uploads a photo with meta-data, is effectively creating mapping information and will have to get one too.
  • It’s also likely to do little to stop terrorist attacks. Since the rules in the bill only apply within India and to Indians outside the country, it won’t restrict foreign military forces and terrorists beyond India’s borders from sourcing map data from elsewhere.
  • What is worrisome is that it provides for stringent punishment ranging from a fine of up to 100 crore rupees to a 7-year jail term, for as much as publishing a wrong map of India. Since the print, electronic and digital media use a lot of easily available data, the new regulations could spell doom for the industry as it would push up the costs of acquiring such basic information and also make media liable for heavy fines and imprisonment in case of even an oversight.
  • The new law also conflicts with the provisions of the Information Technology (IT) Act 2000, because both it and the earlier IT Act deal with not just physical but also digital data. Furthermore, the IT Act is a special law and states that in case of conflict between it and any other law, then it will prevail. However, the draft geospatial bill has also been given special status under Section 33, stating that its provisions will have effect over inconsistencies in other laws. In other words, the interplay between the new law and the IT Act has not been properly worked out.

What can be done?

  • An alternative modality that can serve national security purposes would involve switching to a simple registration-based system that doesn’t make the acquisition of a licence a precondition to using data. However, such a registration-based system is also fraught with danger in a framework that insists on scrutinising the credentials of every end user.
  • A clear distinction must be made between the producers and consumers of geospatial data. In order to not constrict the innovation ecosystem, the definition of consumers must be as wide as possible.
  • It may be okay to require all publishers of geospatial data to register with the security-vetting authority and provide an online window through which the authority can conduct an audit of their data. The vetting authority can go through the data and raise an objection if it finds anything objectionable, and it can do this in its own time. In the meantime the data can be used by end users and updated by the publisher as required.

Conclusion:

Hence, the government now has to strike a balance between the protection of its national interest and ensuring that the data gets used for the propagation of e-commerce and m-commerce.

GS-2, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

Rs.100-cr. fine proposed for wrong India map

The Hindu

What happened?

  • The government has proposed a law where wrong depiction of the map of India could land the violators in jail with a maximum term of seven years and fine up to Rs. 100 crore.

Why this measure has been proposed?

  • This measure has been envisaged by the government against the backdrop of instances where certain social networking sites showed Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as part of Pakistan and China respectively.

Key provisions in the The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016,’

  • According to the draft,  it will be mandatory to take permission from a government authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India.
  • The draft Bill will ensure that online platforms like Google will have to apply for a licence to run Google Maps or Google Earth in India.
  • “No person shall depict, disseminate, publish or distribute any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries through internet platforms or online services or in any electronic or physical form.
  • “Whoever acquired any geospatial information of India in contravention of the law shall be punished with a fine ranging from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 100 crore and/or imprisonment for a period up to seven years,” according to the draft Bill.
GS-2, GS-3, Internal security, International Relations, Uncategorized

Indian maritime challenges and its diplomatic dimensions

India shifts its focus from ‘using’ to ‘securing’ maritime security in the Indo-Pacific.


Scope of discussion

  • Maritime challenges & Our new Maritime Security Strategy
  • Geopolitical aspects of maritime challenges – Fodder for Mains & Essay
  • Indian maritime agencies – Fodder for Prelims
  • Diplomatic dimensions – Fodder for Prelims & Interview
  • Challenges ahead? Mains & Interview

Indian Maritime challenges

India’s maritime geographical position is both an advantage and a challenge. The close proximity of international shipping lanes to India’s coasts attracts other powerful countries too to try to dominate and, thus, create the potential situation of confrontation with India.

India’s own strategic interests made it pay attention to waters beyond its immediate proximity.Late 2015, we released our new edition of Maritime Security Strategy. Contrast the aggressiveness vis a vis the older strategy document released in 2007:

  • 2015 – Ensuring Secure Seas
  • 2007 – Freedom to Use the Seas
source: nausena-bharti.nic.in

This is the third maritime guidance document since 1998 and the most comprehensive account of India’s nautical imperatives, challenges, strengths and opportunities. Here’s why we say so:

#1. India has accepted the concept of “Indo-Pacific” in India’s maritime security. This essentially brings the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific – theaters of geo-political competition  into one strategic arc and broadens our focus.

#2. The latest Maritime Security Strategy (2015) enhanced its definition of primary & secondary areas of maritime interest – 

  • Primary – Coastal areas, islands, EEZ, the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Andaman Sea, their littorals, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, various choke points and their littorals, SLOCs and energy and resource interests

  • Secondary – Various seas outside the Indian Ocean Region

South-west Indian Ocean and the Red Sea were formally under the secondary area of interest. In defining the areas of interest, the navy’s intention is to outline the geographic extension of its strategic influence and give an indication of its involvement in those areas.

#3. Aim to become the “net security provider” to island states in the Indian Ocean. What does that mean?

As per the document, the term net security describes the state of actual security available in an area, upon balancing against the ability to monitor, contain, and counter all of these.

#4. The strategy emphasises the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and strengthening the international legal regime at sea, particularly UNCLOS.


Geopolitical aspects of maritime challenges

  1. Indian strategists are, naturally, paying attention to developments practically in all waters due to the country’s growing international profile
  2. Their growing concern is regarding tensions rising in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Mediterranean
  3. The Indian Ocean remains largely peaceful but has an unstable littoral
  4. Pakistan has declared its intention to put its nuclear weapons at sea which raises the prospect of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Jihadis
  5. We face a mix of the ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ challenges – IT, biotechnology, race for natural resources etc.

To read more on how India has evaluated its prospects in Indian ocean, read this article on Blue Economy


 

Indian maritime agencies

#1. Indian Navy – It aims to be the ‘net security provider’ in the maritime neighbourhood, including deployments for anti-piracy, maritime security, NEO (Non-combatant Evacuation Operations) and HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) operations

#2. Coast Guard – The Coast Guard protects India’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) from criminals, pirates, smugglers, poachers, human-traffickers and foreign subversion.

#3. Coastal police – The role of the coastal police gained prominence following the Mumbai terror attacks of November, 2008. confines its activities to largely coastal waters up to 24 nautical miles.

#4. Ocean affairs – Ministry of Earth sciences (2006) is responsible for development of technology for exploitation and exploration of marine resources, weather services, climate change and geo-hazards


Diplomatic dimensions

  1. India has cooperated well in anti-piracy operations, played a key role in IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association), launched IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, 2008) and shaped BIMSTEC and MGC (Click to read)
  2. Prime Minister’s articulation of India’s ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ (SAGAR), on 12 March, 2015, highlights both security framework for the Indian Ocean as well as regional integration with emphasis on Ocean Economy
  3. Japan’s inclusion into the MALABAR exercises
  4. Navy has also carried out Non-combatant Evacuation operations in Libya (2011), Kuwait (2014) and Yemen (2015)
  5. Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations such as cyclone relief (in 2007, 2008, 2013 and 2014)

Did you know: In August 2013, a dedicated communications satellite for the navy, GSAT-7, was launched for surveillance purposes


What are the challenges ahead?

  1. The navy’s fleet is ageing, with an estimated 60% of vessels reported to have reached various stages of obsolescence
  2. The Scorpene-class submarine is the first to be acquired in 16 years, in an attempt to stabilise the fleet’s fast-dwindling numbers
  3. The navy is 16% below strength in officer ranks and 11% below strength in non-commissioned ranks
  4. In August 2013, the navy suffered its worst peacetime accident when an ex-Russian Kilo-class conventional submarine sank in Mumbai’s naval dockyard, killing 18 personnel

 

Questions for you

  1. Since we are talking about maritime security, comment on the point of convergence and divergence of Project Mausam & Project Sagarmala
  2. “Net security provider” – This term would have crossed your reading sphere in our dealings with US (defence ties) as well. Is India showing promising signs in becoming one? What has been our progress on this front (land, air, sea)
  3. Since we revised our maritime document very recently and increased the ambit of Primary & Secondary areas of interest – find & locate them on the world map (for Prelims’ sake!)
Big Picture, GS-2, Internal security, International Relations, Uncategorized

Militarizing the South China Sea

There are reports that China has placed surface to air missile batteries in the Woody Island, a link in the chain of Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Woody Island has been claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. However, the island is under the control of China since 1974. Islands and rock formations in the South China Sea are subject to claims by number of surrounding countries. However, to strengthen its claims China has been extending its coastline by building on reefs and rock formations. The US, Australia and Vietnam have accused China of militarizing the region. However, China has hit back by saying that US is the main reason for the militarization of this region. It should be noted here that recently a US naval ship sailed close to the disputed area in the South China Sea. It is also significant to note that this region witnesses around 5 trillion dollar worth international trade passing through it annually.

Some experts argue that China’s spectacular economic rise accompanied by its increased military strength and spending is the real concern for the rest of the world, especially the US. China, too, is willing to push western countries out from the western Pacific Ocean. However, Philippines and Vietnam are not happy with the recent increased Chinese assertion. China, however, defends this action citing historical connections. But, this has certainly raised concerns among other countries.

Roughly, 12 nautical miles from the coast is considered as sovereign zone of any country. According to UNCLOS, 200 nautical miles is considered as EEZ. However, the problem here is that China, Vietnam and Philippines have a concept called as Territorial Sea, which means whatever their claims are no country can enter into this zone, be it military or civilian vessels. And this is the problem for international trade. International vessels going through this region have to take the permission of these countries.

 

Why is the United States so interested in what goes on in the South China Sea?

Officially, the United States holds that freedom of navigation is important. But, few experts argue that US is doing all these things just to suppress China. Fundamentally the United States will not allow a challenger to replace it, either regionally or globally.

 

Why does China want to control the South China Sea?

Control of the South China Sea would allow China to dominate a major trade route through which most of its imported oil flows. It would also allow China to disrupt, or threaten to disrupt, trade shipments to all countries in East and Southeast Asia — as well as deny access to foreign military forces, particularly the United States. The floor of the South China Sea may contain massive oil and natural gas reserves. Sovereignty over the region could give China a level of energy security and independence far beyond what it currently possesses.

 

The dispute between the United States and China is likely to escalate to some degree. U.S. Pacific Command planners are preparing to sail and fly again within 12 nautical miles of areas that China claims as sovereign territory. However, China has stated that it will defend what it considers its territorial limit. If the Chinese government blinks, it could suffer domestically due to the loss of face for the Communist Party. If the United States wavers, it will risk perpetuating the impression, among U.S. partners and allies, that it lacks resolve in light of its policy in the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine. The stakes are high for both sides, as is the risk of a miscalculation. The United States is marshaling major allies in the region to take a role, in the hope that the combined weight of U.S., Japanese and Australian forces will give China pause.

Editorials, GS-3, Internal security, Uncategorized

A peaceful way out on Siachen

Why doesn’t India vacate Siachen? This question has been raised after every human tragedy on the glacier, and now it is being asked again when 10 soldiers lost their lives in an ice avalanche at the Sonam post.

  • It is not just avalanches; the challenging terrain of the glacier and its surroundings as a whole have been regularly claiming lives.
  • According to reliable estimates, over 2,000 soldiers from both sides have died on the Siachen glacier since 1984, when India beat Pakistan by a few days to occupy many of the strategic locations on the glacier.

Where is it located?

The Siachen Glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalaya Mountains, just northeast of the point NJ9842 where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends.

  • At 76 km long, it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world’s non-polar areas.
  • It is situated at an average altitude of 5,400 meters above sea level.
  • It lies South of the great watershed that separates Central Asia from the Indian subcontinent, and Pakistan from China in this region. It lies between the Saltoro ridge line to the west and the main Karakoram range to the east.
  • The entire Siachen Glacier, with all major passes, is currently under the administration of India since 1984, while Pakistan controls the region west of Saltoro Ridge.

Background:

Ever since the two militaries began a costly engagement on the glacier, there have been numerous efforts by both countries to find a way to demilitarise the glacier. In June 1989, they came very close to clinching a final deal.

  • The two sides had agreed to “work towards a comprehensive settlement, based on redeployment of forces to reduce the chance of conflict, avoidance of the use of force and the determination of future positions on the ground so as to conform with the Shimla Agreement and to ensure durable peace in the Siachen area”.
  • Ever since then, India and Pakistan have tried diplomatically to find a way to demilitarise the region. However, a lack of political will on both sides has meant that the status quo holds, and soldiers continue to pay a very high price in that remote snowy outpost.
  • India has in the past suggested delineation of the Line of Control north of NJ 9842, redeployment of troops on both sides to agreed positions after demarcating their existing positions, a zone of disengagement, and a monitoring mechanism to maintain the peace.
  • Deeply divergent positions held by New Delhi and Islamabad on the dispute is one of the primary reasons why the negotiations on demilitarising the Siachen glacier and the adjoining areas have not progressed much.

About the conflict:

The conflict in Siachen stems from the incompletely demarcated territory on the map beyond the map coordinate known as NJ9842. The 1949 Karachi Agreement and 1972 Simla Agreement did not clearly mention who controlled the glacier, merely stating that the Cease Fire Line (CFL) terminated at NJ9842. UN officials presumed there would be no dispute between India and Pakistan over such a cold and barren region.

  • The conflict began in 1984 with India’s successful Operation Meghdoot during which it gained control of the Siachen Glacier.

Why India doesn’t want to leave this place?

The most obvious reason for India’s continuing presence at Siachen is its strategic importance. Military experts also believe that it drives a wedge between Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and China, and is the only tenuous link India has with Central Asia.

  • Other fears include the Chinese presence in the vicinity, concerns about a Pakistani incursion and the difficulty in retaking the glacier once gone.
  • India also insists that the present ground positions on the Saltoro ridge should be demarcated and authenticated on a map before any demilitarisation could be conducted, fearing that once India withdraws from the region, the Pakistan Army could occupy the high ground.
  • Moreover, India does not want a disagreement on the posts and locations to be vacated by the Indian side. This feeling has further strengthened after the Kargil intrusion by Pakistan.
  • India has therefore insisted that joint demarcation of the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) on the ground as well as the map should be the first step to be followed by a joint verification agreement and redeployment of forces to mutually agreed positions.

Pakistan’s arguments:

  • Presently, India is the occupying party in Siachen and hence, it should unconditionally withdraw and the pre-1984 status quo should be maintained.
  • By agreeing to a joint demarcation, Pakistan would be accepting the Indian claims in Siachen, at least theoretically.
  • Pakistan also feels that if it accepts such demarcation, it would amount to endorsing the Indian occupation of 1984.
  • Pakistan has therefore proposed that demilitarisation of the region, withdrawal of forces and authentication proceed simultaneously.

What can be done?

  • One, both countries can agree to a glacier of peace with neither side occupying it. Then there would be no strategic reason for soldiers to serve in such inhospitable terrain.
  • The second option is mutual withdrawal of forces without delineation and authentication. This is both undesirable and unlikely.
  • The third option is mutual withdrawal after jointly recording current military positions and exchanging them as part of an annexure without prejudice to each other’s stated positions, pending the final settlement of the Line of Control (LoC) and AGPL. This is perhaps the best option and takes on board India’s demand, and may not meet too much resistance from the Pakistani side given that they had agreed to it in 1992.
  • It can also be converted into an international destination for glacial research and other scientific experiments. International scientific presence would act as a deterrent against any potential Pakistani attempts at occupying the territory and it could also check the Chinese activities in the greater Karakoram region. This perhaps is the best option under the circumstances.

Way ahead:

Given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal initiative to visit Lahore in December 2015 and to push forward peace with Pakistan, it would only be the next logical step to look at the low-hanging fruits in bilateral issues to build trust.

  • The demilitarisation of Siachen is definitely doable. This is not only because it is diplomatically possible, but also because there is a critical mass of opinion in both India and Pakistan that neither can sacrifice, or put in harm’s way, so many lives on the inhospitable glacier.
  • If the initiative is not seized by both sides now, the vagaries of nature will continue to exact a toll on forces deployed in Siachen, even if peace holds.

Conclusion:

It is important to recognise that just because we have militarily and materially invested in the Siachen region over the years or incur lower casualties than Pakistan, it does not provide us with a strategically sound rationale to continue stationing troops there, only to keep losing them year after year. The February 3 avalanche on the Siachen glacier that buried 10 Indian Army soldiers is a stark reminder to both India and Pakistan about the cost of military deployment in such inhospitable territory. While we as a nation remain indebted to our brave soldiers who laid down their precious lives on the glacier, there is neither valour nor glory in death due to cerebral edema or hypothermia, guarding a few kilometres of ice whose strategic value is ambiguous at best.

Editorials, GS-3, Indian Economy, Uncategorized

A, B, C of Blue Economy

“Blue Economy”:
The oceans, which have always been a source of livelihood, trade, colonialism, storms and piracy, present opportunities and challenges. 

What is Blue Economy?

The newly set up Blue Economy Strategic Thought Forum India, under the auspices of the National Maritime Foundation defines the blue economy as “marine-based economic development that leads to improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”.

The blue economy, as distinct from the blue-water economy, encompasses in it the “green economy”, with focus on the environment, and the “ocean economy” or “coastal economy”, with its emphasis on complementarities among coastal and island states for sustenance and sustainable development.

Advantage of Blue economy:

The central principle of the blue economy is the idea of cascading nutrients and energy the way ecosystems do. Cascading energy and nutrients leads to sustainability by reducing or eliminating inputs, such as energy, and eliminating waste and its cost, not just as pollution, but also as an efficient use of materials.

The book The Blue Economy: 10 Years — 10 Innovations —100 Million Jobs by Gunter Pauli, 2010,contains fascinating innovations to open a new world of production and lifestyle. These game-changing ideas will entice entrepreneurs. Surprisingly, these innovations have the potential to increase rather than shed jobs, as emulating natural systems will mean the deployment of humans rather than machines. Ideas like eliminating air in freezing water, use of food-grade ingredients as fire retardants, growing mushrooms with coffeeshop waste, silk as a replacement of titanium, electricity generated by walking and talking, etc, are mind-boggling.

Maritime Mining and Laws:

The euphoria over marine mining (manganese nodules and cobalt crusts on the ocean floor) led to the establishment of the International Seabed Authority. The UNCLOS, the “constitution of the seas”, which came into force in 1994, became the basis for the legal rights for mining in the open sea. The interest in seabed mining flagged because of escalating costs, but it’s being revived on account of the demand for minerals and metals in industrial development, particularly in China, Japan and India.

Indian Ocean:
Today, India is working with the states in the Indian Ocean region and others to strengthen security and economic cooperation. The re-emergence of piracy has added a new dimension. The new focus on the Asia-Pacific highlights the security and economic dimensions. The US rebalancing of forces and counter-measures by China have created a new cold war. New partnerships are in the making in the Asia-Pacific, seeking Indian participation by competing powers. The blue waters of the Indian Ocean have become a new theatre of tension. 

The blue-water economy will become central to the development of the entire region. Our competition with China is likely to be exacerbated by the competition for a piece of the blue economy, as evidenced in Bangladesh.

Recent conversations on Blue Economy

  1. Both the traditional blue-water economy and the new blue economy are important for India’s sustainable development. Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsed the blue economy during his visit to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.
  2. PM Modi spoke of the blue economy to Saarc leaders. In September 2015, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) hosted the first Ministerial Blue Economy Conference and identified priorities
  3. Goal 14 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” — makes detailed references to the reduction of marine pollution, conservation of coastal and marine areas and regulated fish harvest.

India can profitably integrate its ongoing programmes like Make in India, smart cities, skill development and self-reliance in defence. Delhi’s forthcoming chairmanship of the BRICS will offer a splendid opportunity to highlight the cooperation needed for the blue economy.


Blue economy has been a buzzword for few years now. It was introduced by Gunter Pauli in his 2010 book,The Blue Economy: 10 Years — 10 Innovations —100 Million Jobs. It has opened new avenues for bilateral and multilateral work, involving the environment, energy, defence and food production.

  • The oceans, which have always been a source of livelihood, trade, colonialism, storms and piracy, present opportunities and challenges.
  • Professionals connected with the oceans, including the negotiators of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), have been prominent since the 1980s.

What is Blue Economy?

The newly set up Blue Economy Strategic Thought Forum India defines the Blue Economy as “marine-based economic development that leads to improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”.

  • It refers to a healthy ocean, supporting higher productivity. The current focus is confined to marine products, including minerals, as if this is all it concerns. The concept of blue economy is much broader and encompasses even maritime activities, such as shipping services.
  • Blue economy infrastructure is environment-friendly because larger cargo consignments can move directly from the mothership to the hinterland through inland waterways, obviating the need for trucks or railways.

Difference between Blue Economy and Blue-Water Economy:

The blue economy, as distinct from the blue-water economy, encompasses in it the “green economy”, with focus on the environment, and the “ocean economy” or “coastal economy”, with its emphasis on complementarities among coastal and island states for sustenance and sustainable development.

Significance of the Blue Economy:

The central principle of the blue economy is the idea of cascading nutrients and energy the way ecosystems do.Cascading energy and nutrients leads to sustainability by reducing or eliminating inputs, such as energy, and eliminating waste and its cost, not just as pollution, but also as an efficient use of materials.

  • The Blue Economy will promote innovations and open a new world of production and lifestyle. These changes will in turn entice entrepreneurs. They also have the potential to increase rather than shed jobs, as emulating natural systems will mean the deployment of humans rather than machines.
  • Ideas like eliminating air in freezing water, use of food-grade ingredients as fire retardants, growing mushrooms with coffeeshop waste, silk as a replacement of titanium, electricity generated by walking and talking, etc, are mind-boggling.
  • Goal 14 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” — too makes detailed references to the reduction of marine pollution, conservation of coastal and marine areas and regulated fish harvest.

Maritime diplomacy:

Maritime diplomacy had its heyday back in the 1980s, with the sensational discovery of manganese nodules and cobalt crusts on the ocean floor. The euphoria over marine mining led to the establishment of the International Seabed Authority.

  • The UNCLOS, the “constitution of the seas”, which came into force in 1994, became the basis for the legal rights for mining in the open sea.
  • The interest in seabed mining flagged because of escalating costs, but it’s being revived on account of the demand for minerals and metals in industrial development, particularly in China, Japan and India.

India and the Maritime Diplomacy:

The Indian Ocean has been a fulcrum of Indian diplomacy since Independence. During the Cold War, India was extremely active in the UN Adhoc Committee on the Indian Ocean in its bid to keep the Indian Ocean a Zone of Peace, which, in essence, meant keeping the Indian Ocean free of great-power rivalry.

  • But the littoral and hinterland states differed on the meaning of the zone. Many sought the presence of external powers to counter India’s growing strength. But even at that time, cooperation for ocean resources was a priority.
  • Today, India is working with the states in the Indian Ocean region and others to strengthen security and economic cooperation. However, the re-emergence of piracy has added a new dimension.
  • The new focus on the Asia-Pacific highlights the security and economic dimensions. The US rebalancing of forces and counter-measures by China have created a new cold war. New partnerships are in the making in the Asia-Pacific, seeking Indian participation by competing powers. The blue waters of the Indian Ocean have become a new theatre of tension.

OBOR and India:

The Chinese initiative — one belt, one road (Obor) — is a $150 billion grandiose development strategy and framework for China to push for a bigger role in global affairs and to increase its exports.

  • Some see it as an opportunity for India, others as a challenge. Hence, the choice has to be made cautiously, balancing our security concerns about an expanding China with economic engagement.
  • Given the history of Sino-Indian relations, it’s difficult to look at Obor as a benign initiative. But it will be difficult to stay out of a new global highway linking Asia with Europe.

Importance of Regional Organizations:

The importance of regional organizations has increased in the context of the blue economy. PM Modi recently spoke of the blue economy to Saarc leaders.

  • In September 2015, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) hosted the first Ministerial Blue Economy Conference and identified priorities.

Way ahead:

In the coming years, the blue-water economy will become central to the development of the entire Asia-pacific region. Also, India’s competition with China is likely to be exacerbated by the competition for a piece of the blue economy, as evidenced in Bangladesh.

  • India’s neighbourhood policy too assumes primary importance in light of the blue economy. India can profitably integrate its ongoing programmes like Make in India, smart cities, skill development and self-reliance in defence.
  • Delhi’s forthcoming chairmanship of the BRICS will offer a splendid opportunity to highlight the cooperation needed for the blue economy.

Conclusion:

India is no longer hesitant about taking a larger responsibility for securing the Indian Ocean, promoting regional mechanisms and working with great powers like the United States and France with which India now shares many interests. India has also initiated a new process of multilateralism in ocean politics by gluing together security and the blue economy. However, the action on the ground remains to be seen.

Big Picture, GS-3, Uncategorized

Defence Sector stock

Watch debate here

Summary:

India has a land frontier, a coastline and an exclusive economic zone, as well as island territories, vital offshore installations and airspace to defend. The Indian forces, therefore, have to be kept well prepared and well equipped to repel any external threat. India’s defence spending has grown manifold since the country announced its first defence budget in 1950. Approximately 40% of the budget release to the capital expenditure is currently driven by equipment modernization programmes in each of the three services- the army, the airforce and the navy. The country procures approximately 70% of its equipment needs from abroad. But, with ‘Make In India’ the government aims to reverse this trend and manufacture 70% or more of its defence equipments in India. This provides an immense opportunity for both domestic and foreign players in the defence sector.

Basically, defence expenditure is divided into two categories:

  1. Revenue: Includes expenditure on pay and allowances, maintenance, transportation and all stores expenditure on utilities.
  2. Capital: includes creation of assets and expenditure on procurement of new equipment.

India’s defence expenditure has always been in the range of 2% – 3% of the GDP. This is in line with other major developed nations. It signifies a fairly steady focus on defence within the economy. The new government’s manifesto explicitly envisages India as an exporter of defence equipment over the next decade. The government has done away with the requirement of licences for defence manufacturing for 16 items. FDI in defence sector has also been increased.

Currently, defence manufacturing is dominated by defence PSUs and ordnance factory boards (OFB), which together have 90% share in total defence manufacturing. The opening of the strategic defence sector for private sector participation will help foreign original equipment manufacturers to enter into strategic partnerships with Indian companies and leverage the domestic markets and also aim at global business. Besides helping build domestic capabilities, this will bolster exports in the long term- the country’s extensive modernization plans, an increased focus on homeland security and India’s growing attractiveness as a defence sourcing hub.

The defence procurement is governed by the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). The Government has now decided to revise the DPP every year. The key objectives of the defence offset policy are to leverage capital acquisitions to develop the Indian defence industry. The initial validity period of industrial licenses has been increased to three years from the present two years.

There is now need to acknowledge at every level of government that the private sector in India can be trusted to play as important a role in the modernisation of India’s defence capabilities as the public sector. A common framework for defence procurement across research establishments, ordnance factories, defence Public Sector Units (PSU) and the private sector is the need of the hour. Decision making needs to be simpler, faster and transparent. There’s also an urgent need to address and improve the ease-of-doing-business. The Ministry of Defence is the sole customer for the defence industry in the country. Without long-term contracts, certainty of volumes, a quick selection process, transparency and fair payment terms, there will be little incentive for private players to invest the huge resources required for defence production.

There is a compelling case for creating a single window for defence licensing and FDI approvals. Any large-scale involvement of the private sector in defence would require a clear road map for engagement, with clearly identified thrust areas. New modalities of public-private partnership (PPP) should also be thought of. The need has now arisen to accord infrastructure industry status to the defence sector, thereby paving the way for easier credit and a greater role and opportunity for the private sector. India’s confidence in FDI draws a facile equation between foreign investment, local manufacturing and technology inflow. The key, however, is not money but technology. Technology transfer is elusive. It requires not just a clause in a contract, but in the recipient taking determined measures to ensure acquisition and absorption of technology.

The most significant development of 2015 was the scrapping of the $20-billion Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal for the purchase of 126 French Dassault Rafale fighter jets. To boost squadron strength, the government cleared the off-the-shelf purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft in fly-away condition from Dassault’s factories in France at an estimated cost of $8-9 billion. 2015 has been a good year for India’s helicopter fleet with three major deals: The purchase of 15 Chinook heavy lift helicopters and 22 Apache attack helicopters from the US’ Boeing company at a cost of $3 billion and $1-billion deal for 200 Kamov 226 T utility helicopters, a replacement for the air force’s vintage Chetak and Cheetah helicopters.

Another notable development in 2015 was the announcement of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for defence personnel. The scheme will require an additional expenditure of Rs. 8,000 crore ($1.2 billion) every year and is expected to provide equal pension payments for personnel having served in the same rank for the same length of service. However, a significant section of veterans continued to protest against the government, saying they have been cheated.