Future conflicts will need more integrated approach Pranab Mukherjee

Posted by admin on November 4, 2015 (Comments Closed)

New Delhi, Nov 4 2015 Future conflicts will require a more integrated multi-state and multi-agency approach as the security of a nation is no longer confined to preserving territorial integrity but encompasses economic, energy and food security, President Pranab Mukherjee said today.

Security areas like economic, energy, food, health, environmental and several other dimensions are important for security of a nation, he said while addressing members of 55th batch of National Defence College.

The members of the team of the course comprise members from all the three armed forces, IAS, IPS and officials from friendly nations.

Recalling the words of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, while inaugurating the NDC in 1960, the President said, “defence is not an isolated subject. It is intimately connected with the economic, industrial and many other aspects in the country and is all encompassing”.

“Intensive research and quality analysis in all fields and disciplines is thus a pre-requisite which calls for a holistic approach to studies across a vast spectrum of disciplines,” he said.

He said the role of the armed forces has expanded far beyond traditional military matters with the revolutions in military affairs and globalisation.

“It is clear that future conflicts in the complex defence and security environment will require a more integrated multi-state and multi-agency approach,” Mukherjee said.

“There must be a conscious effort to strengthen the underlying linkages and not divide them into watertight compartments. Adopting such an approach will yield rich dividends. At the same time, one must not lose sight of the larger picture and keep the primary objective always in focus,” he said.

Mukherjee, who has earlier served as Minister for Defence and External Affairs, said the global environment today poses numerous challenges to the world because of its dynamic nature.

“The astonishing pace at which events have unfolded in the recent past could not have been foreseen a decade earlier,” he said.

Newly-Discovered Geoglyphs Are So Big, NASA Is Helping Study Them From Space

Posted by admin on November 2, 2015 (Comments Closed)
in News

bestamskoe-ringTurgai, Kazakhstan might not look like much besides wide, sweeping plains. But over the past few years, archaeologists have revealed more than 200 massive earthworks, so large that you’d never notice them from the ground. As the New York Times reports today, no one knows their purpose–yet.

They’re called the Steppe Geoglyphs, or the Turgai Geoglyphs, and they were discovered by a Kazakh archaeologist browsing Google Earth in 2007. While clicking over the seemingly empty landscape, he saw remarkable patterns in the soil: crosses, boxes, swastikas, circles, and more, created from mounts of dirt only three feet high and roughly 30 feet wide. All in all, there are now 260 known geoglyphs here.

Today, the Times brings word that study of the mysterious forms is intensifying, thanks in part to NASA scientists who are prioritizing space photography for researchers who request them back on Earth. NASA has released several new images of the glyphs, dating back to 2012.

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In his fascinating story, the Times’ Ralph Blumenthal talks with several researchers who posit that they may have been used for “horizontal observatories to track the movements of the rising sun,” a bit like Stonehenge. According to his sources, the huge size of the structures are forcing archaeologists to reconsider “the nature and timing of sophisticated large-scale human organization,” as the University of Winnipeg’s Persis B. Clarkson puts it to Blumenthal.

You’re probably familiar with another set of famous geoglyphs–the Nazca, in Peru, which were recently in the news after Greenpeace partially destroyed one in an idiotically ill-conceived protest. The Nazca are far more well-known, in part because they’re more accessible and because of the support of the Peruvian government to study them. Now, thanks in part to help from NASA, at least researchers are able to view Kazakhstan’s glyphs more closely from afar.

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NASA astronauts and archaeologists studying early civilization may seem like strange bedfellows. But NASA actually has been focusing some of its bandwidth on archaeology since the 1980s–far earlier than you might expect–as the sensing tech aboard both its satellites and manned missions has gotten more and more advanced.

In the 1980s, a radar scan of Sudan helped archaeologists discover “ancient watercourses” via the Space Shuttle; in the 1990s, NASA and National Geographic collaborated to study aspects of Maya civilization using remote sensing technology. It makes sense: As some of NASA’s resources go to studying climate change and weather with these tools, why not also use them to further our study of human civilization?

It’s fascinating to wonder what other discoveries we’ll make about the ancient world as the novel tech of the future emerges. The more advanced our space exploration becomes, the more we’re learning just how many mysteries–like those in Turgai–still need to be explored on our own little planet.

You can read the full New York Times story here, or check out NASA’s new images here.

Report predicts temperatures too hot for humans in Persian Gulf

Posted by admin on October 27, 2015 (Comments Closed)
in News

WASHINGTON — Rising global temperatures could push the sun-baked cities of the Persian Gulf across a threshold unknown since the start of civilization: the first to experience temperatures that are literally too hot for human survival.

A scientific study released Monday warns that at least five of the region’s great metropolises could see summer days that surpass the ‘‘human habitability’’ limit by the end of the century. Heat and humidity would be so high that even the healthiest people could not withstand more than a few hours outdoors.

The report, in the journal Nature Climate Change, says booming cities such Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha could cross the threshold if temperatures continue to rise at current rates. Not far behind is the Saudi holy city of Mecca, a destination for millions of Muslim pilgrims every year.

On the hottest days, inhabitants of those cities could experience a combination of heat and humidity so high that the human body is no longer capable of shedding the excess heat through perspiration, according to the report’s authors, a pair of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Loyola Marymount University.

‘‘Our results expose a regional hotspot where climate change, in the absence of significant mitigation, is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future,’’ the authors write.

The report examines different scenarios over the coming decades, focusing on a key heat measurement known as the ‘‘wet-bulb temperature,’’ which includes humidity and evaporation rates, averaged over several hours. A wet-bulb temperature of 95 degrees is regarded as the survivability limit for healthy people.

For years, scientists have postulated that parts of Earth could cross the 95-degree mark in future centuries if global warming continues. But that day could come much sooner for cities in the Persian Gulf, where temperatures soar well beyond 110 degrees in the hottest summer months, the researchers said.

Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha already suffer from high heat-index values that contribute to high rates of heat stroke among outdoor workers. But the authors warn that city planners will have to make major adjustments as temperatures begin to cross the lethal 95-degree threshold.

‘‘It is an upper limit to adaptability to climate change due to heat stress,’’ MIT researcher Elfatih Eltahir said.

The report is the latest to highlight dangerous weather extremes that could be experienced in the relatively near future if atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases continue to rise at current rates.

A policy statement released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics warned of significant new health threats to children if global temperatures continue to climb — from higher rates of heat-related illnesses to outbreaks of diseases normally associated with the tropics.

‘‘Children are uniquely at risk to the direct impacts of climate change,’’ said Samantha Ahdoot, lead author of an AAP policy statement published in the research journal Science.

‘‘Some of the scariest prospects from a changing clime involve conditions completely outside the range of human experience,’’ Chris Field, a climate researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, told the Associated Press in an e-mail

‘‘If we don’t limit climate change to avoid extreme heat or mugginess, the people in these regions will likely need to find other places to live,’’ said Field, who was not part of the study.

Dr. Howard Frumkin, dean of the University of Washington’s public health school, who wasn’t part of the research, said: ‘‘When the ambient temperatures are extremely high, as projected in this paper, then exposed people can and do die. The implications of this paper for the Gulf region are frightening.’’

Catholic patriarchs, cardinals, and bishops representing five continents appealed to climate negotiators on Monday to approve a ‘‘transformative’’ and legally binding agreement that sets global temperature limits.

Representatives of bishops’ conferences from around the globe signed the appeal in a renewed push to encourage climate negotiators meeting in Paris next month to heed Pope Francis’ call to protect God’s creation and the poor who suffer most from its exploitation.

China to boost defence ties with India, military drills start

Posted by admin on October 12, 2015 (Comments Closed)

Beijing, Oct 12 (PTI) China today said it will continue to strengthen defence cooperation with India as the two nations’ armies kicked off the fifth round of annual anti-terror military drills in the Chinese city of Kunming aimed at enhancing mutual understanding, communication and cooperation.

“The drills will play a significant role in safeguarding domestic security and strengthening mutual trust between militaries of both sides and contribute to the sound development of bilateral relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying told a media briefing here.

“We will continue strengthen our cooperation on national defence and inject more positive energy to our bilateral ties,” she said replying to a question.

India fielded a contingent of 175 troops from 2nd Battalion of Naga Regiment from Eastern Command which also looks after the border with China while China deployed troops from 14 Corps of China’s Chengdu Military Region, whose focus is on Indian borders.

Both sides pressed same number of troops for the joint exercises, which will culminate on October 22, a press release by the Indian Embassy here said.

The purpose of the exercise is to develop joint operating capability, share useful experience in counter-terrorism operations and to promote friendly exchanges between the armies of India and China, the embassy said.

Troops from both sides will undergo intensive joint training, which will include displays, demonstrations, and a comprehensive joint exercise during the drills.

The three-phase integrated exercises include armament display, military demonstration, and troop training, it said.

The armament display includes light weapons and equipment for military engineering and logistics, while the demonstration will feature shooting, group tactics and unarmed combat, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

In the second phase, troops will be trained in combat, anti-terrorism tactics, humanitarian aid and disaster-relief communication and the two sides will also conduct joint manoeuvres. .

11 indian nuclear scientists died in mysterious circumstances in 4yrs

Posted by admin on October 8, 2015 (Comments Closed)

New Delhi, Oct 8 (PTI) 11 nuclear scientists had unnatural deaths during 2009-13 in the country, latest data provided by Department of Atomic Energy shows.

Eight scientists and engineers working in laboratories and research centres of the Department died in a blast or by hanging or drowning in the sea.

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In its RTI response to Haryana-based Rahul Sehrawat dated September 21, the department said three scientists of Nuclear Power Corporation had also died under mysterious circumstances during the period of which two allegedly committed suicide and one had died in a road accident.

The bodies of two scientists of C-group posted at BARC, Trombay were found hanging in their residences in 2010, while one scientist of same grade posted at Rawatbhata was found dead at his residence in 2012.

In one case of BARC, police claims that he committed suicide because of prolonged illness and closed the case while the remaining cases are still under investigation.

Two research fellows at died in a mysterious fire in the chemistry lab of BARC, Trombay in 2010.

A scientist of F-grade was found murdered at his residence in Mumbai. It is suspected that he was strangulated but the murder accused remained untraced till date.

A D-grade scientist at RRCAT also allegedly committed suicide with police closing the case.

Another scientist posted at Kalpakkam allegedly jumped into the sea to end his life in 2013 with the case is still under probe whereas a Mumbai based scientist committed suicide by hanging, with police citing personal reasons for the same.

One scientist allegedly committed suicide by jumping into Kali river in Karwar, Karnataka with police again pointing at personal reasons

Ex-servicemen plan to return medals to PM

Posted by admin on October 6, 2015 (Comments Closed)

Thousands of gallantry medals may be returned to the government soon, if veterans who have been protesting the delay in the implementation of the one rank one pension policy have their way.

Ex-servicemen, who have been on a relay hunger strike since June at Jantar Mantar, will be asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to meet them and take back 10,000 medals as a mark of protest. Though the government announced on September 5 that OROP would be implemented, the protesting veterans said there were seven major flaws in the plan.

Major General (retd.) Satbir Singh, who has been leading the agitation as an adviser to the United Front of Ex-Servicemen, said on Tuesday that they would be writing to the Prime Minister seeking appointment.

“Over the past year, 10,000 medals have been sent or given to us by ex-servicemen across India. We will be asking the Prime Minister for time so that we can return the medals to him. The apathy of the government has left us with no other choice,” said Maj. Gen. Singh.

He said that in the past disgruntled ex-soldiers had returned their medals to the President, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

“But, this time we want to give the medals to the Prime Minister, as it was he who promised during the election campaign that we would get OROP. Returning the medals will send a message to the entire country that assurances given have not been fulfilled,” said Maj. Gen. Singh.

The veterans said the government had not issued the notification to implement OROP, which it said would do so within a month of the announcement on September 5.

Army opposes plan for bund on border; PMO to take a call

Posted by admin on October 6, 2015 (Comments Closed)

National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval is grappling with a face-off between the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Army.

The Army has objected to the government’s plan to build a raised embankment along the 179-km stretch of the international border (IB) in Jammu district, a senior Home Ministry official told The Hindu.

India-Pakistan-Border-Kathua

The plan for the embankment (better known as ditch-cum-bund) was cleared in 2013 by the then UPA government after the twin terror attacks in the Hiranagar/Samba sector the same year. Around 20 per cent land has been acquired for the project, being implemented by the MHA. The raised embankment will be constructed under the supervision of the Border Security Force (BSF).

At a recent meeting between Army Chief General Dalbir Singh and Mr. Doval, the government has been asked to rethink the entire project.

“The Army believes that in case of an emergency, this embankment will affect their operations and restrict their forward movement. The Army already mans another embankment, a few kilometres behind the IB,” said a senior MHA official.

Another official said the BSF has also been asked to submit a detailed report on why the project should go ahead.

A final decision will be taken by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the proposal is pending with the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

The proposed embankment will be 41 metres wide and 10 metres high and will accommodate bunkers and border outposts. The project would cover 118 villages in the three districts of Kathua, Samba and Jammu, which are located along the international border.

On MHA’s request, the Jammu and Kashmir government initiated the land acquisition process in Jammu district.

The Jammu sector has witnessed 589 ceasefire violations from Pakistan’s side since May 2014, when the NDA government came to power, till August 20 this year. The same period saw 95 infiltration attempts from the Jammu border.

This is the same project over which Pakistan complained to the U.N. Security Council a few days ago. Pakistan’s Ambassador to U.N., Maleeha Lodhi, in a letter to the President of the Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, alleged that India was planning to construct a “wall” along the border, which it called a working boundary to convert it “into a quasi international border”.

Sri Lanka and India begin defence talks

Posted by admin on September 21, 2015 (Comments Closed)

Sri Lanka and India will hold defence talks in New Delhi on the sidelines of the annual defence dialogue which began today.

A Sri Lankan delegation is in India for the ‘3rd India – Sri Lanka Annual Defence Dialogue’  where security related issues will be discussed.

Sri Lankan government’s delegation, comprises of Karunasena Hettiarachchi, Secretary to Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva, Commander of the Army, Rear Admiral N.B.J Rosayro, Deputy Chief of Staff and Commander, Eastern Naval Area of Sri Lanka Navy, Air Vice Marshal C.R Gurusinghe, Representative, Sri Lanka Air Force, Rear Admiral G.D.A.S Wimalathunga, Director General, Sri Lanka Coast Guard Department, Mr M.R.K Lenagala, Deputy High Commissioner, Sri Lanka High Commission, New Delhi and Ms Sashikala Premawardhane, Senior Assistant Secretary, Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence.

The two-day (Sept 21 – 22) event will see cordial discussions which will focus on several issues of bilateral importance, the army media unit said.

The ‘India – Sri Lanka Annual Defence Dialogue’ was inaugurated in 2012 as a forum for exchange of views on defence cooperation initiatives, regional and maritime security issues and for further strengthening bilateral defence ties between the two neighbouring nations.

Sri Lanka Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi and Indian Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar are expected to have talks on the sidelines of the event.

During their stay, the Sri Lankan delegation will also fly to differnt places and call on several high ranking officials of the Indian defence establishment.

Evaluating the US-India Strategic Agenda

Posted by admin on September 15, 2015 (Comments Closed)

The United States and India will hold their first-ever Strategic and Commercial Dialogue next week in Washington. This strategic and commercial consolidation is a little-noticed but important outcome of President Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Modi at the Indian Republic Day last January. Now the Obama administration is pulling out all the stops to make this U.S. engagement a success and a key demonstration that the administration’s “rebalance to Asia” is more than just rhetoric.

The Modi administration is reciprocating by sending some of its brightest stars to the meeting and following-up with another visit from the Prime Minister himself. His trip will include a visit to Silicon Valley to see how the U.S. does innovation and culminate in an unprecedented third- within- a -year summit with Obama in New York on September 28. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the White House on September 24 -25 occurs between the U.S.-India dialogue and the Modi summit – a sequence that will not be lost on Chinese policy makers. Nor will the virtually simultaneous visit to Washington of Pope Francis featuring a protection of the earth theme be ignored as Obama tries to push India toward a commitment on climate change, as he previously did China. Obama has declared climate change a strategic priority. An Indian commitment could pave the way for a substantive agreement in Paris this December.

Indeed, clean energy and its positive effects on the environment will be central to a U.S.-India energy dialogue that will occur the day before and feed into the strategic and commercial meeting. Indian Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Power, and Coal Piyush Goyal will confer with his U.S. counterpart, Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz.

Just after the energy conference and just before the strategic and commercial dialogue, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and visiting Indian ministers will headline the US-India Business Council annual dinner. A CEO forum and The Energy Research Institute (TERI) will incorporate major leaders of U.S. and Indian business into the agenda.

The prominence being given commerce and business underlines basic realities regarding the U.S.-India economic relationship.

The days of government action being the driving force in U.S.-India economic engagement are over. A “green revolution” aid model, i.e. provision of U.S. technology and resources on a non-commercial basis, no longer has much relevance in the U.S.-Indian context. The U.S. government acting alone simply does not have the resources to make much difference to economic growth in India even though India needs outside help. At times this seems hard for the Indian side to understand and even harder for the U.S. side to admit. Today U.S.-India economic engagement must be driven largely by the private sector on commercial terms. The opportunities for public-private cooperation to fuel mutually beneficial economic development are immense and the necessity for policy coordination is essential. Thus, there is a need for combining strategic and commercial considerations.

However, strategic and commercial factors do not always operate in virtuous circles. They can result in vicious downward spirals as well. Economic and commercial engagement gone awry can drive the world’s two largest democracies apart as well as bring them together. India has just lost a WTO dispute brought by the U.S. about local content in solar projects. India plans to appeal. Less than two years ago, a U.S. business coalition got more than 170 members of Congress to sign on to a letter questioning the fairness of Indian trade practices and instigated a highly critical report of the U.S. International Trade Commission. The ITC is due to issue a follow-up report soon, and it will not be entirely favorable to India.

More importantly, the U.S. and Indian economic models presently may not be sufficiently compatible to support a long-term strategic partnership. Further reforms are needed on both sides. State-owned enterprises are widespread at all levels of Indian government and often make a mockery of the term “free enterprise.” The fundamental economic reforms that drove closer U.S.-Indian strategic relations beginning in the early 1990s have once again stalled. Even the word “privatization” is anathema to large segments of the Indian political establishment. The euphemism “disinvestment” is used to try to get around this difficulty, but the fact remains that the dead hand of governmental bureaucracy still directly controls large segments of the Indian economy.

Nor should the United States be complacent in a belief that it has perfected an economic model that works for promotion of growth and prosperity in India. Neither India nor the rest of the world has forgotten that the great recession of 2008 -2011 began with a meltdown in U.S. financial markets. A system that tolerates – some say “promotes” – vast swings in economic stability and provides income inequality that caters to the top one-half of 1 percent is not wholly attractive to a nation that has 400 million of some of the poorest people on earth.

Unquestionably, economic engagement on commercial terms has been a driver in the ability of the United States and India to move from estrangement to cooperation on strategic issues. The eight days stretching from the U.S.-India energy dialogue through the strategic and commercial dialogue to Modi UN and Silicon Valley visits and culminating in yet another Obama-Modi summit may prove to be pivotal in U.S. Indian relations. Or this sequence of events may be just window-dressing in a seemingly endless string of U.S.-India discussions and photo ops – overshadowed perhaps by the visits of a Catholic Pope and a Chinese President. However, if the world’s largest democracies are to provide the dynamism for a rebalancing toward Asia, these dialogues must be more than just talk: they must show results.

Raymond E. Vickery Jr. is a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center; Of Counsel at Hogan Lovells; Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge; and a former Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Trade Development, in the Clinton Administration. The opinions expressed in this pieces are solely those of the author.

India, China defuse tensions at Burtse in Ladakh after flag meetings

Posted by admin on September 15, 2015 (Comments Closed)

NEW DELHI: India and China held flag meetings along the line of actual control in Ladakh on Tuesday afternoon to defuse tensions at the high-altitude Burtse region, where a military stand-off had erupted on Friday evening after Indian troops demolished a watchtower-like structure built by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) there.

The flag meetings between the rival commanders were held at the border personnel meeting (BPM) points at Daulat Beg Oldi and Chushul from 3pm to 5pm, with the two sides deciding to “maintain peace”, said sources.

READ ALSO: China says there is no stand-off on border, but confirms watch tower construction

As earlier reported by TOI, the two sides on Monday had somewhat moved back their troops from their forward positions at the incident site located at an altitude of 17,000 feet in the Depsang plains. Both sides had earlier rushed additional troops to the Burtse area after Indian soldiers on Friday evening had demolished the watchtower, which consisted of a camera and solar-panel mounted on a hut’s roof, after spotting it on the “border patrolling line”.

Though both sides send patrols to this line as per their “perception” of where the un-demarcated LAC lies, the mutually-accepted principle is that no new construction should come up in the disputed stretches.

Troop face-offs and “transgressions”” are quite common along the three sectors of the 4,057km LAC – western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) – due to “aggressive patrolling” but eastern Ladakh in particular has emerged as a major flashpoint in recent years.

The Depsang Valley was also the site of the 21-day face-off between the two armies in April-May 2013 after PLA troops had intruded 19km into Indian territory. Another prolonged standoff, with around 1,000 soldiers from each side in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation at Chumar and Demchok, had taken place in September last year.