Citizens' Issues
Now, the Indian Navy is getting the much needed attention!

The plans outlined by the Narendra Modi government will strengthen the Indian Navy so that it will be able to guard the coastal borders reasonably well


It is hardly 10 days now that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) took the major step to bolster the Indian Naval strength, by clearing the construction of seven stealth frigates and six number submarines.  
These are considered ‘critical’ to provide overall deterrence in the Indian Ocean Region as this will actually cover a vast strategic area of interest, from the Persian Gulf in the west to the Malacca Straits in the East.  This project is estimated to cost over Rs50,000 crore and will boost the manufacturing activities at the Mazagaon Docks (who will build 4 stealth frigates) and the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers in Kolkata (3 units). It is expected this project will take almost a decade to complete.
The secretive ship building centre at Vizag is already engaged in the building of India's first three nuclear powered submarines with nuclear ballistic missiles, estimated to cost Rs60,000 crore. Of the three, the first, INS Arihant has already begun its sea trials in 2014 and INS Aridhaman is due for launch soon, while the third is under fabrication.
According to the information available, it is now planned that six more nuclear powered submarines will also be built at this centre in Vizag.  The Navy's other requirements include six Scorpene diesel electric submarines being built at Mazagaon Docks, the delivery of the first unit being planned for September 2016. Additionally, a new tender for six advanced stealth diesel nuclear subs is likely to be announced this year, to be built in India, but with foreign collaboration. The project cost is estimated at Rs50,000 crore.
In the meantime, China has been asserting its dominance in the Asia Pacific Region, much to the discomfort of all other much smaller nations.  Chinese threats to these countries need not require any elucidation and they has been growing uneasiness between Japan and China, as a result.  In fact, China has shown its displeasure when Indian Navy wanted to be in that area.  They did not like the idea of even India doing the exploratory work on the Vietnamese waters for Oil and Gas.
However, thanks to the growing friendly relations between India and Japan, New Delhi has now made plans to acquire ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious aircraft from Japan at an estimated cost of $ 1.2 billion to cover 12 such units. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Manohar Parrikar, the Defence Minister, will take up the proposal to empower the Joint Working Group to negotiate this purchase for the Navy.
Later on, it is reported, that this lot of 12 may be actually increased to 17 to meet the Coast Guard requirements.  It appears that this JWG has been discussing the "technology transfer and licensed production" in India.  When this is finalised, these amphibious multipurpose and versatile aircraft may be stationed at the Campbell Bay in the Andaman & Nicobar Island to ensure security of shipping lane in the Malacca Straits.
The Indian Air Force needs have been recently covered and the final work on the French Rafael fighter aircraft is set for March. Therefore, the plans outlined by the government will strengthen the Navy so that it will be able to guard the coastal borders, reasonably well.  Efforts, however, need to be made to bring down the manufacturing and delivery schedules!
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)


Budget Day: SEBI, stock exchanges, brokers on high alert

Many brokers have asked customers or investors about increase in trading margin requirements as they are anticipating high market volatility during the Budget announcement


Anticipating huge volatility during the special stock market trading on the Budget day Saturday, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and stock exchanges have enhanced vigil to keep manipulators at bay and ensure smooth operations.
The surveillance systems have been put on high alert, fearing attempts by manipulators to take advantage of high anticipations associated with the Budget, top officials said, adding that the markets are expected to witness a huge turnover, including by foreign entities.
Various market entities have also been asked to ring-fence their systems and infrastructure from any sudden volatility.
Many brokers have informed their customers that they are anticipating high market volatility during the period of Budget announcement and therefore they have increased the trading margin requirements for the clients.
The day, being a Saturday, may add to trading volumes and volatility as overseas markets, including Singapore where many foreign investors take position before trading begins in India on normal days, would be closed and the foreign investors are expected to trade directly on Indian bourses.
Similar arrangements were made last year on the day of the exit poll results as well as the final results of the Lok Sabha elections.
At that time, the movements in stock markets were under special watch on 12 May 2014, the last day of polling and the day of exit polls, as also on 16th May when final results were announced and then on 19 May last year, the first full trading day after the announcement of all results.
Last week, SEBI had decided to keep the markets open on the Budget day, despite it being a Saturday, and asked the stock exchanges to put in place necessary systems to conduct trading during normal market hours from 9am to 3.30pm.
The decision was taken after requests were made by various market entities and others to keep markets open on the Budget day to allow the various proposals to be priced in naturally in the share prices and to avoid any sudden rush on Monday morning when markets would have otherwise opened after a gap of two days.
In that case, it was also anticipated that overseas investors in Singapore could have got an early-bird advantage to take positions because of time zone difference.
This is probably the first time in many years that the Union Budget is being presented on a Saturday. The stock markets are generally closed on Saturdays and Sundays, except for special circumstances.
As the Budget contains several market-moving announcements, trading participants, including stock exchanges, had requested SEBI and the government to keep the bourses open when the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, presents his first full-fledged Budget.
Stock markets have always been open during Budget presentations ever since the government changed the timing of Budget announcement to 11am in 2001, from 5pm earlier. 


How the ‘Corridors of Power’ work in Delhi-Part 2
When did ‘liaison work’ evolve into espionage, both commercial as well as anti-national?
The reasons and timelines were multiple, but if one had to put markers along this path of liaison becoming an anti-National episode in India, an important one would probably have to do with the Imperial Tobacco / BAT / India Tobacco episode as well as its linkages to "Operation Berkshire" to promote the increase in usage of tobacco. Before that it would also be about the way Nestle and other milk producing countries tried their level best variously with "Operation Flood". 
These are two I know about personally also, in addition to documented records, but there were many more. The way in which the Bengal famine was handled to benefit a few specific Calcutta families and the way steel scrap post World War-II was handled to benefit a few specific Punjab origin families in Calcutta, are just two. However, commercial espionage becoming a major anti-National force really came into its own when one fine day the developed world woke up to realise two things about India -
1) A totally unplanned and uncontrolled information technology boom despite bad communication infrastructure, born out of totally organic grey-market assembled computers and pirated software from all over the world, but not including the global market leaders in hardware and software.
2) A resultant quantum leap in the basics of information available and human intelligence growing in India, which was in projections going to be a major threat to a globally ageing population, because smart youngsters were emerging from India, with English language skillsets to boot.
I have had access to deep reportage and analysis on both the subjects, to the extent that research on food and eating habits in India linked to higher intelligence were deep analysed. Spices and herbs being identified as one reason, and cooking methods being identified as another, with lentils in diet considered to be a major reason for the rapid growth in available intelligence in India. Obviously, this scared "them".
We still continue to pretend we are surprised, when we read in a Western medical journal that something like "heeng" is good for the brains, or walnuts work even better. However, all this had been deeply researched as the developed countries worked hard on trying to figure out how they were punching out a larger percentile of obviously not so smart people.
In an aside, it needed a few wars all over the world for the Western World to get rid of many of the dumb and aggressive genes, but they still had to slow down the rapid growth of smarter people in India. Ergo, flood India with junk food and cancer colas, designed to get young Indians to follow the same path that the West followed a few decades ago.
If this sounds far-fetched, then please compare this to the way the Western World tried to drown China in opium a few centuries ago, grown and shipped mainly from India, soon after the Chinese started showing the world that they were inventing everything. For example, they invented and started using the moving type printing press before anybody else. And you get an idea of how the developed countries think when they see competition. Up the rivers, they come with their gunboats and shouts of "free trade free trade".
Again, I know because I also worked for one of the biggest and best in the business of lobbying as well as perception management, a polite word for influencing the way governments think and act and make policy. Free trade, it was made clear, was only one-way. And to achieve that, they had to not just know what was going on, but also influence what they wanted to happen.
Commercial espionage at this juncture, say during end '80s through mid '90s, was restricted largely to large Indian companies vying with each other-where results were often decided by political influence rather than commercial acumen or intelligence. Therefore, basis all the games rendered until then, around end '90s onwards, the arrival of large foreign companies and liberalisation in India put a new spin to the game.
The stakes went up, that was one aspect, and so did huge imports of almost everything. Simultaneously, from being a nominal exporter of value-added products and small shiploads of minerals and ores, the famous cobblers and tailors quote from one of country's biggest industrial houses then refers, India suddenly became an exporter of mineral and ores by huge shiploads. Suddenly, it was no longer just liaison but also communication skills, both for receiving inputs and being able to render them coherently – along with the ability to acquire the said information before others too, that became imperative.
The big movers and shakers of the world's corporate intelligence providers had arrived in India. All they needed now was willing and able collaborators in India. Journalists were an obvious perfect match.
Both sides of the coin, media on one side and commercial intelligence on the other, had arrived in India. All was fair in business, and the country, it was said, could take the hindmost.
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(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.)



Ashok Visvanathan

2 years ago

There was no high tech spinage by anybody. It appears that some clerical level employees figured out the value of information at their fingertips, and then periodically sold them,not to the highest bidder ,but to anyone willing to pay the price they were asking.
The Same thing happened in the COOMAR Narain spycase 2 decades ago.
They don't have confidential secretaries in govt. Only in the private sector.

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