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Belling the cat of intellectual mediocrity

The so-called intellectuals and experts in this country must realise that this is not the time to criticise or degrade our military leaders. It undermines morale at the cutting edge.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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File photo of the Indian and Chinese troops.

An article, ‘Military Mediocrity: Who Will Bell the Cat’, by Mohan Guruswamy is doing the social media rounds. It paints the Indian armed forces leadership in poor light. Casting aspersions on the leadership of the armed forces, at present, sow doubt in the minds of common people. Is the safety, security and wellbeing of the nation in the right hands?

Guruswamy’s intellectual discourse on military leadership is a reproduction of his earlier diatribe, ‘Military Incompetence: Who Will Bell the Cat’, in July 2018. What is the difference between the two articles? ‘Incompetence’ has been replaced by ‘Mediocrity’ over two years. Congratulations India! Your military leadership has graduated from incompetence to mediocrity. This new article with a few changed sentences, a paragraph on Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and a dimwitted effort of cut, copy and paste will put us on the way to global military leadership. Such intellectualism is below mediocrity. It is mendacity for attention. I must also hand it to the editorial staff of the media platform who re-published such scurrility. Even Global Times is miles ahead in comparison. This represents only one of the two things: Poor journalism or ulterior motives. No third reason. Plumbing new depths of intellectual idiocy to seek relevance!

 Am I shooting the messenger? No. I shot the messenger two years back in Daily O. Read it. (https://www.dailyo. in/voices/indian-armedforces-mohan-guruswamykashmir-doklam-surgicalstrikes/story/1/25813.html). Instead of a full response just read the last paragraphs to get the drift. When I was penning these thoughts down, I read some tweets of Guruswamy and learnt something about his persona. He has a daily and an hourly opinion on many issues, from Hema Malini to the Indian Army. That’s his right to free speech and he is exercising it. However, I am thankful that he is in a pitiful minority regarding military leaders. It is not without reason that India feels that the military is the most trusted institution in India. Is it possible without able leadership?

If Casablanca had been an intellectual, he would not have stood on the burning deck. The boy stood on the burning deck, and so are the Indian armed forces. I am proud to have donned the uniform of the Indian Army, which is internationally respected. Guruswamy can hold his opinion about all of us, any way he thinks, any number of times. We heartily reciprocate it. By the way, I am also confident that our Armed Forces will set right any aberrations which surface; including those of leadership. When the time comes. Till then the Indian armed forces remain unyielding (https://www. gunnersshot.com/2020/06/ the-armed-forces-of-indiaunyeilding.html).

The Indian armed forces are being led competently in the front. If not, China and Pakistan would have been all over India. In the current situation, our forces have stemmed the Chinese tide. The Chinese came with a well-prepared plan to teach India a lesson. In the process they are learning a lot of lessons. The greatest asset of the Indian armed forces is our men—better than the best. Unless our men are well led, they cannot defend the nation. We need good commanders—right from Langar commanders to Army commanders to do that. Please realise our armed forces are not as well equipped as they should be. Still our military leaders are getting more out of our men and material than one can imagine. Galwan bears testimony. If military leadership was poor as reiterated by Guruswamy, then the Chinese would be sitting at Thangu and the confluence of Shyok and Galwan Rivers. India would have then been in a soup.

I am also fully aware that there are problems with our military leadership which are institutional, structural and historic. They need correction and major reforms if India is to become a global power. We need the best leaders that India can and has the potential to produce. I have been raising these points through earlier articles. I will do so again once the current situation eases. However, at this point of time we must stand by those who are there. These commanders are laying a lot on the line. Some might make mistakes under battle stress. They are not gods. Weak links in any chain of command need strengthening. If they are beyond that, simply sack them. Otherwise back them. It is not easy to lead in an area where even the mere act of breathing is a problem.

Our senior military leaders were probably company commanders and 2ICs during Op Vijay. It is because of some of their demonstrated military ability that Kargil and other operations were successful. Later, they must have put in a lot of hard work to improve their professional acumen to reach their current ranks and positions. ACRs and promotions are not freebies. It took me backbreaking hard work, study, deprivation and application to become a three-star general. I have had many serious differences of opinions with my seniors, bureaucracy and even national politicians from the rank of Lt to Lt Gen. Yet, I was never harmed in a CR or a promotion. I am sure I am not unique or a creature of exception. There are many more with similar backgrounds. There will be systemic aberrations also. However, this is not the time to criticise or degrade our military leaders. It undermines morale at the cutting edge.

Scratch below the surface. I suspect a link between this great man and those 144 protesting veterans. Am I disappointed? At one level I am. At another level, I am sanguine that our democracy is strong to take such opinions and journalism in stride. My only advice to them: Thank your gods that you are in India. Imagine your status under Xi Jinping if you had raised such voices. You would have been giving some hapless Uighurs company in a re-education camp and your hair would be on sale in the US as a wig.

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on his blog www. gunnersshot.com.

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Defence

World superpowers and China

China does not have the grandeur of the Romans, the military machine of the Mongols, the ideology of the erstwhile USSR, the Navy of the British or the unassailable expanse and contribution to mankind of the US.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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We have seen many civilisations: Greek, Persian, Chinese, Indus Valley, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Roman, Islamic, Mayan, Inca and more. Similarly, many great empires have risen and fallen—the Ottoman, Persian, Spanish, Hapsburgs, Arab, Mauryan, Mughal, the Tang dynasty. However, the world has seen only five superpowers. Mongol and Roman empires in ancient times. The British empire, the USSR and the US in modern times. What is a superpower? The term is contextually used with different meanings. Holistically, superpowers possess military, technological and economic might, vastly superior to others. They have global capacities to steer, influence and shape events. Their power projection could be simultaneous in multiple locations. The power could be economic, military, technological or “soft” (diplomatic, political and cultural). A superpower should be able to dominate other countries and ward off challenges. It cannot be ignored on the world stage. Without its cooperation no world problem can be solved.

The Emerging Competition: The US is striving to retain superpower status. China is striving to surpass the US. The Pandemic has parachuted into this competition to throw a spanner in the works. In this context it is necessary to evaluate if China can realize its ambitions? What are the threats and opportunities? These questions will trouble us; particularly in India.  An overview of superpowers – past and present indicates where China is heading. 

 Past Superpowers

The Roman Empire. It was the first superpower. It was founded in 27 BC and lasted five centuries (probably the longest superpower). Illustrious emperors/ dictators like Caesar, Augustus, Trajan, Hadrian, Antonius Pius and Marcus Aurelius’ and decadent ones like Nero, Caligula and Tiberius ruled it. It held sway over the Middle East and Europe, ruling most major population centres and contemporary civilizations including Greece, Egypt, the Levant, Carthage, Anatolia and Italy. Its footprint covered over 60 million people. Roman legions, famed for military dominance, laid  the foundations of the Empire.  Persia, the only real competitor of the time, was repeatedly ravaged. The Roman Empire was distinguished for many intellectual accomplishments – Law, City Planning, Architecture and Roads. Roads promoted commerce, agriculture, mail delivery, pedestrian traffic, and military movements. City planning was all about hygiene with plumbing, sewage disposal, dams, and aqueducts. Roman architecture is still famed for its lavishness and planning. The period is also significant for the birth of two major religions – Christianity and Islam. One within the Roman Empire and other on its periphery.  Rome ultimately fell due to internal factors like civil war and economic depredations.

The Mongol Empire. It was the world’s largest land empire. Just a million Mongols conquered vastly larger populations and empires. It was not a unitary empire as normally envisaged but a vast agglomeration of widely different territories held together by military domination. Military prowess propelled it to superpower status. Its all-conquering military machine was based on outstanding tactics, mobility, utilization of the technology of the conquered peoples and logistics. As each state along the Silk Road was conquered, the empire expanded.  The Silk Road was the economic backbone of the Mongols.  From 1206 till about 1294, Genghis Khan and his heirs ruled an empire that included most of Eurasia, much of the Middle East, parts of Eastern Europe, China and Russia. At its peak it stretched from the Danube to the Sea of Japan  and from the Arctic to Camboja, covering over 22% of the Earth’s land area. It held sway over 100 million people. It is often referred to as the” Mongol World Empire”.

The British Empire.  The first modern day superpower where economic, military and soft power were equal constituents. It was founded on colonies and trading posts established in the 16th/17th centuries. The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by UK. Its political, linguistic and cultural legacy still e n d u r e s t h r o u g h t h e Commonwealth.  It was the largest empire and foremost global power for over a century. In 1922, it controlled 1/4th the world’s population over 1/4th of Earth’s landmass. In the  empire there was sunlight throughout at some place or the other. That is why the “sun never set” in the British Empire. It had the largest military of all times. Its military power was based on a powerful Navy with which it could strike and control strategic chokepoints—Suez, Malacca, Aden, Hormuz, Gibraltar. It enabled unfettered trade and made UK enormously wealthy. In 1870, it had the largest percentage of world GDP (35.9%).  In 1938, it still had the second largest GDP after the USA. It was insulated and unassailable by continental powers with the Atlantic on one side and the English Channel on the other. WW1 heralded the collapse of the British Empire. It was completed by WW2.  

 The Soviet Union. USSR was the briefest superpower. It was founded on the erstwhile Russian Empire. It rose to be a superpower at the end of the WW2. It disintegrated due to the Cold War with USA. The intervening four decades witnessed global bipolarity whose poles were capitalism and communism. USSR was huge and difficult to knock out as Napoleon and Hitler discovered. The expansive resource-rich landmass fulfilled Mackinder’s Heartland Theory – whoever controlled the Eurasian heartland could control Eurasia and thus the world. It rivalled the US militarily, technologically, economically and in soft power. Communism, its defining ideology,  propelled it to superpower status and ultimately caused its demise. Communist ideology propagated by USSR was global and included China also. Russia, its successor state inherited USSR’s global influence.  Russia is still a power but falls short of being a superpower since it could not reinvent itself as the US has repeatedly done.  

 Present Superpower

USA is the current superpower. It has a huge population,  an enormous continental-sized resourcerich territory located on two oceans.    It has been unassailable barring two brief times — Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and 9/11 strikes on Twin Towers. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, it has enjoyed conventional military dominance in air, sea or land. Its Navy can control all the world’s major sea routes and choke points. It operates 516 military installations in 41 countries around the world, including 42 that are large or medium-size bases. It has extensive alliances including the NATO, Anzus Pact, bilateral military agreements with Japan and South Korea, and the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance between the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Economically it is very strong and is home to a significant proportion of the world’s GDP. Its currency is the reserve currency of the world. It has the trust of most rich and affluent nations. That makes its economic power non-finite and non-territorial. The US has leveraged technology in every walk of life as a currency of power. Its forays into space, nuclear and information spaces are pioneering. Technology turned it from an energy-neutral to an energy surplus nation. It wields enormous soft power which it projects it through its culture, educational system, political affiliations, aid programs, overseas bases, Hollywood and its huge network of MNCs. Most importantly it has been able to reinvent itself after every setback to emerge stronger: Be it economic setbacks like depression of the 1930s or the global meltdown of 2008 or military setbacks like the Pearl Harbour or Twin Tower attacks. It has been able to ward off competition from the USSR and emerge bigger. It is currently in a debilitated state economically due to the corona virus and is under severe threat from China. Will it stage a recovery as it has always done?  One thing for sure even if does stage a recovery, its economic dominance would have eroded. The other thing for sure is that its military, diplomacy and technology power are still intact. These could leverage its economy back to dominance. Do not count it out.

China

China’s ambition is to be the undisputed No. 1 superpower. The Chinese were expected to overtake the US as the world No. 1 power by 2050. However, coronavirus has put in sharp focus a number of issues. Let us take see them.

  China has an unfavourable Military Geography—continental size, poor resources, assailable from all directions (The Great Wall is testimony) with constricted ocean access. Its military must defend the nation, prop the Party up, parry competitors and control international choke points and gates. China needs an outsized military with international presence. The past few months revealed two things. One. Chinese military power has serious limitations. It does not have superpower capabilities. Two. Core military power still counts to become a superpower. Power flows from the barrel of a gun. Did Mao not say that? India has stopped it in its tracks in Ladakh and the US has bottled it in South China Sea. All its military gambits have strategically failed. Its reach lies exposed. Outposts are vulnerable. Internal issues like Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan are termites. Its military needs greater teeth to be a superpower. Bridging the chasm demands huge investment.  

 China is betting on its economy to attain superpower status. Despite a high GDP, per-capita GDP is low. Population is aging. The state must guarantee prosperity to people in return for sacrificed freedoms. All superpower populations had affluent lifestyles (barring the USSR which collapsed). China needs huge revenues internally. BRI is its gambit to control international trade, expand the economic footprint, develop dependencies and achieve world domination. It is a mega combination of the US’ foreign aid programs, the Mongol Empire’s Silk Route and the British Empire model of establishing trading posts prior to colonisation. However, the Virus has paralysed the BRI and exposed its noxious underbelly—usurious loans, debt traps, one sided projects et al. Overall being a superpower is an expensive business with huge external expenditure. The economy will have to generate lot of cash.  In the current environment of relocation of manufacturing, unacceptability of Chinese financial systems, longevity of the Virus and the overall geopolitical developments, there are severe headwinds ahead.  

To adjudicate on international matters China needs to generate trust. However, it is emerging as the root cause in many disputes. Its reputation on IPR theft and technology transfer is horrendous. China displays selfishness with no concept of ‘Global Commons’. It has blatantly repudiated international treaties, law and a rules based order (South China Sea and in Hong Kong) and not lived up to promises. More than alienation it has generated hate in many countries.

Overall, when one sees it in the backdrop of history, China does not have the grandeur of Romans, the military machine of the Mongols, the ideology of the erstwhile USSR, the Navy of the British or the unassailable expanse and contribution to mankind of the US. They might be aiming to better everyone. They might achieve many things but seem unable to scale their symbol of pride: The Great Wall of China. It has fostered psychological isolation- Mao’s self-imposed international isolation, the current regime’s Great Internet and Information Firewall, diplomatically created geopolitical isolation and the Han exclusion of other Chinese ethnicities. A psychologically isolated superpower without allies or friends (historically) is difficult to imagine.

China must have phenomenal economic growth to become a superpower. It appears to be recovering well despite the pandemic. However it is early days. The huge variables are the Virus, Unprecedented floods in its core industrial belt, drought and food shortages, job losses due to industry closures, global determination in decoupling/relocation and geopolitical isolation—all reported by Chinese media. The chances of economic dominance do not look bright.

Net Outcomes

It would be fair to say that the days of a unipolar world are over. We are entering a world of multi-polarity. The US will be a large pole which will strive to recover its economic mojo while everything else intact. China might be a large economic pole striving for everything else. There will be budding poles like EU, India, Japan and ASEAN. All one can say—the Global Pivot is to the East and the competition is on!

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on his blog www. gunnersshot.com.

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Defence

Silent Chinese invasion down under

Australia has seen the worst form of Chinese invasion. The Dragon has conquered Australian landmass through silent invasion, without firing a single bullet.

Shreedharan Raman

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If there’s one country that is subverted the most through democratic ways and processes, it is Australia. Using free speech and through power, Australian system was undermined. This is not even an understatement.

When Federal Government of Australia said “no” to Belt & Road Initiative, China was hurt and considered it an insult. So, China made its moves to teach Australia a lesson. It made an infrastructure funding offer to Premier of a Province of Australia that one can’t refuse. All it needs to do is, override Australian Federal Government policy and join BRI. And it happened. In 2018, premier Daniel Andrews signed Memorandum of Understanding with China. Premier was even boasting about it. As per TheGuardian.com news report, Premier said, “In four years we have more than tripled Victoria’s share of Chinese investment in Australia and nearly doubled our exports to China. We said we’d reboot our relationship with China and we’re getting it done.”

Mind you, in Australia, Premier is like a Chief Minister of India. Final authority on Foreign policy is Federal Government, like our Union Government. So, this invited problems, for the Premier. Coalition partners raised concerns. While nobody is against investments that would come into the Province, Premier was asked just one question. That is, “Why is only Victoria overriding Federal Government’s Foreign Policy?” PM Scott Morrison had warned Premier Daniel Andrews, “Victoria was stepping into federal government policy territory.” There is no closure to this issue, just yet.

It all started few years before Premier Andrews with former Premier John Brumby of Labor Party in Victoria. On 27th July 2007, quite dramatically, the then Premier Steve Bracks announced his retirement from politics, citing family reasons. Quite dramatic. Few hours later, Deputy Premier John Thwaites also announced his resignation. Three days later, he was elected unopposed as leader.

Thus, Premier John Brumby. Three years later, he resigned from Parliament. Fast forward by 3 years. What is interesting is that the former Premier took up an assignment at a University. While Premier Andrews took care of the party. Making groundwork for his Premiership few years later. Post-resignation former Premier Brumby took up some very interesting assignments. Apart from openly advocating and professing a pro-China stand, he also took up key assignments in Universities that got huge amounts of Chinese funding. Especially, Monash University & University of Melbourne. University of Melbourne received donations under Australia – China Science Research Fund (ACSRF). The same ACSRF was announced by no less than Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2017 during his visit. Former Premier Brumby later became President of Australia – China Business Council (ACBC). And, icing on the cake, became a Director of Huawei. Until recently, Brumby was batting for Huawei 5G in Victoria. Until PM Scott Morrison unleashed his federal powers after US Secretary of State Pompeo warned about using Huawei in any networks of Australia which would invite all the communications channels with US to close. After futile efforts, Brumby resigned from Huawei in February 2019.

News reports of May & June suggest that Victoria has also been accused of undermining Federal Government’s response to Wuhan virus pandemic. As recent as 1st August 2020, there are reports that Premier Daniel Andrews is busy fighting controversy over irregularities in hotel quarantine during the pandemic. Some recent media reports in The Age suggest that the Government of Victoria under Premier Andrews might face unintended consequences due to this. That would be one more step towards cleaning Chinese influence in Victoria.

Darwin Port

The 99-year lease of the most strategic port of Darwin in Norther Territory turned controversial. The aftermath of the bid was messy. While it is now known that the Shandong Landbridge Group’s subsidiary in Australia Landbridge Group’s bid value is A$506Mn, not much is known about the competitors – European & American bidders. China ultimately won the bid. So, how did China pull this off? A loophole based on spirit of democracy. Per Senate Committee of 2016, Federal Investment Review Board (FIRB) for review. But, it was never formally investigated. Because, law doesn’t require formal review when a State or Territory is involved with a private company. This was a simple rule in the spirit of trust exploited by China. Thanks to PM Scott Morrison, Australia changed this exemption in 2016. In the recently concluded AUSMIN talks last week, it has been decided that there’d be a US funded military fuel storage facility in Darwin Harbor, as Darwin port is leased to Chinese company. It’s up to Chinese if they want to still stay there for next nine decades.

Subversion of free speech

All the above, this all happened through completely democratic process. Then comes the curious case of Chinese students. Just like in the US, Chinese students when in Australian Universities, are used as diplomatic weapon by local Chinese diplomats. Here they have a different role. Like, pushing CCP’s narrative on political matters like Taiwan, Uyghurs & others. For example, in 2017, an Indian Professor of Sydney University, had to apologise for showing map of India. Why? Because Chinese students disputed that some of the regions are of China’s. So much so, that on 70th Independence Day Chinese students in Sydney drove luxury cars across popular places in the city.

In May 2020, Mr Drew Pavlou was suspended from University of Queensland for two years following a disciplinary hearing that examined allegations of misconduct linked to his oncampus activism. What activism? He supported Hong Kong protests and criticized Chinese Communist Party. It only ended up scrutinizing more UQ’s record. From funding of top executives of the University to leaking controversial course materials online. UQ ended up doing more damage to itself, than it tried to prevent for Beijing. As per News.com.au reports, the involvement of Confucius Institute – CCP’s propaganda arm – in funding & designing courses is significant. While it helped Beijing narrative to be peddled through University of Queensland, it didn’t last. Australian High Commissioner to UK George Brandis replied to British MP Andrew Rosindell on this matter expressing that events in UQ “greatly saddens” as it is also his alumnus. Of course, there were online outrage too. To this day.

To think of using students & Universities as a pawn to further your political agenda is something no civilized country would do. But, CCP should think twice before doing such things. Do remember, even in democratic countries, we can treat such acts by ‘students’ as waging war against sovereign nations. If say, a significant number of them are taken in for questioning and subversive acts, how long would it take before it creates uproar in Weibo? Would the single kid parents be able to take the hit? Would the friends of those who are being taken in be affected and would turn against CCP for not helping? This is surely going to backfire in near future.

There have been some elements in Australian media as well which pally around with Communist Party. Take for example the media coverage went full on anti-PM Scott Morrison when the bushfires were happening, look at the coverage. Thanks to tycoons like Andrew Forrest who tried to pull a fast one for CCP, at the cost of embarrassing Australian Health Minister by helping Chinese Counsel General gatecrash a press conference that the Minister was supposed to address. A Chinese diplomat gate-crashing. When Federal Government said that Google & Facebook must pay media houses for sharing their content on their platforms, they are right. This is only language that tech companies understand and stop giving free leverage to Confucius thoughts in democratic societies.

Strategic response by Australia

Strategically, the Chinese communist party threat has brought Australia closer to its other neighbours. Taking all the security objectives into account, PM Scott Morrison started working on “2016 Australian Defense Whitepaper” & more importantly also made it a point to back it up with funds. Four years & a Pandemic later, “Australia Defence Strategic Update 2020” was released recently. With a huge hike from the earlier announced budget boost of A$270Bn for investments over next 10 years. Apart from weapons, what interests is the transformation outlined for Australian Army – to a more US Marines kind of role for the future.

Australian Defence Minister recently announced, “I am open to exploring the trilateral cooperation with India, Indonesia & other countries in our region.” This is significant and adds more teeth to Indo-Pacific alliance. It is worth noting two points here. A) Indonesia said recently that it wants to buy Austria’s entire Typhoon fighter fleet. B) Times of India reported last week that India might be interested to sell Brahmos to Indonesia. Meanwhile, Philippines & Vietnam are already in talks with India for the same. In due course, Australia would indeed be part of QUAD participating in Military Exercises. To take it further Solomon Yue, Vice Chairman & CEO at Republicans Overseas, RNC, in his interview to Epoch Times answering a question about threat of China in Australia said that, India & Japan might be invited to join the Five Eyes (FVEY) alliance. To make it Seven Eyes. He didn’t give a timeline for this though. Not sure if India is interested in this either.

Australia has additional responsibility of taking care of Pacific Islands & prevent them from falling into debt trap of China. It is here, that India can help diplomatically, via Fiji. India can play a crucial role here in alliance with Australia. Meanwhile, US is contemplating about opening training facilities at Guam for Air Forces of India, Australia & Japan. If it happens it’ll send an important message to Australia’s partners in South East Asia & Pacific regions. It is to keep a close eye on dynamic scenarios emerging in South Pacific Islands too. It is in the above context that PM Scott Morrison spoke specifically about capabilities in areas such as long-range strike weapons, cyber capabilities and area-denial systems to maintain regional peace & stability. PM Scott Morrison is a blessing for Australia and is a great ally for India against China and beyond in the region.

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HAL donates ambulances to government hospital

Ashish Singh

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Considering the ever growing demand for ambulances in these extraordinary times of Covid-19 pandemic, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) donated two ambulances to Bow-ring & Lady Curzon Medical College & Research Institute (BLCMC&RI) under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.

These specialised ambulances can be used for transporting patients who require medical monitoring while in transit and non-invasive airway management, says R. Madhavan, CMD, HAL. The ambulances are equipped with facilities like air conditioning, basic life support system, analog oxygen delivery system, auto loader stretcher trolley with floor mounting mechanism adds Alok Verma, Director, HR.

Under BLCMC&RI there are three major Government Hospitals – Bowring & Lady Curzon Hospital, HSIS Gosha Hospital and BBMP Super Specialty Hospital.These are presently converted as COVID hospitals for emergency treatment.

The handing-over programme was held in the presence of Dr K. Sudhakar, Minister for Medical Education, Karnataka, Rajender Kumar Kataria, Secretary to Karnataka Government Agriculture Department, and in-charge of Covid Care Centres in Bengaluru, top HAL and government officials.

 On this occasion, an MoU was also signed between HAL represented by Ch. Venkateswara Rao, GM (CSR) and BLCMC&RI, represented by Dr Manoj Kumar, Director-cumDean. The MoU relates to up-keeping and maintenance of ambulances by BLCMC&RI.

 Last month HAL had created and handed over the Covid-19 Care Centre (CCC) to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). The facility has 160 beds with other supporting infrastructure.

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Medical evacuation by Southern Naval Command

Ashish Singh

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A medical evacuation was undertaken by Southern Naval Command (SNC) by using helicopter from a merchant vessel off Kochi. On 5 August 2020, SNC received an input regarding injury to Rajpal Singh Sandhu native of Amritsar the Captain of merchant vessel MV Vishva Prerna. The Captain was reported to have suffered a severe leg injury necessitating an immediate rescue off Kochi.

A Sea King helicopter was launched from INS Garuda at short notice for casualty evacuation (CASEVAC). Heavy sea state resulted in the ship rolling excessively the pilots of the helicopter displaying tremendous skill and professionalism successfully overcame the challenges posed by the unfavourable conditions and ensured the safe evacuation of the patient.

The casualty was brought to INS Garuda post evacuation, from where he was transferred to Medical Trust Hospital, Kochi for further medical assistance adhering to all Covid-19 protocols.

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Defence

Depth of China’s poison tree farm

It’s time for the world to realise—and accept—that China’s much publicised and acknowledged development story is full of illegal, unethical and unfair practices.

Shreedharan Raman

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The doctrine of fruit of the poisonous tree is meant to remove illegally acquired evidence from negatively impacting a criminal defendant. Similarly, the same can be applied to China’s development story, which it achieved through illegal, unethical and unfair practices. A reality check is warranted here before accepting the growth is achieved fair and square.

Back in the 1950s, China was extremely poor. With WW2 just over and people were going through a revolution. A newborn country has more ‘josh’ as we call it. Just in that josh, the Communist Party of China started to make monumental mistakes within the first two decades of their formation. They could have built a beautiful and sustainable economy. With blessings of such beautiful neighbors. What seemed an empty canvas full of opportunity to paint a beautiful motif, now seemed tarnished. Be it invasion of Tibet, war with India, great leap forward, parting ways with USSR and subsequently Mongolia to name a few.

China then turned moderate in the 1970s, with Deng Xiaoping, who understood that China can’t rise without the help of neighbors. He started to work on the issue. He made peace as much as he could, however temporary it could be. And it did help China to ramp up the number of factories and heavy industries from zero to near monopoly in many fields. China is almost making everything for the World. Even it has monopolized supply of bamboo for incense sticks.

Anyone would admire the focused vision of Chinese leadership that they invested and made sure the ecosystem and Government machinery works towards the single goal of global dominance. Full credits to that. No second thoughts at all. But there are two key parameters they forgot: Ethics and honesty. In many ways, India was in a similar situation then. New country syndrome. Poor, rising aspirations and all the above that China faced. In fact, more than what China faced. As we had democracy, a diverse nation with no common interconnecting language. Different food habits, terrain, culture and weather and so on. We are more diverse within the Nation. Yet, India was fortunate enough to have quickly found a soul. Something united us as a nation. It was organic.

People connected across the country with some soulful connection. That seems missing in China. Some predicted a breakup of India in a few decades after partition. We proved that wrong. With all the complaints we might have, at the end of the day, our system still works. It might be very slow and seem inefficient. But it works. Whereas in China, it is one-way communication on what the party decides. Despite all our difficulties, we still play by established rules. World is now slowly beginning to discuss how China is into a different level of stealing intellectual property from Western countries. So, how does this work?

Perception & reality

Businesses that went to China since Deng Xiaoping, it was working wonders. They had little problem dealing with bureaucracy and so on. One-point to deal in Beijing and work gets done anywhere in China. Say, Shanghai or Chengdu or Guangdong. Over time, word did spread.

These businesspersons became quasi-spokesperson for China. Reality strikes a few years later. When they begin to realise what is happening. Big industries started seeing competitors. Chinese ones. Especially, those the big industries partnered with earlier. Making exact same components and products, at a fraction of the cost. Some went to Courts in China only to realise that the Chinese Courts and Judges are extended arms of the CPC and not independent. They had to let go for legal actions thereafter.

Legal but unethical

The story of China’s highspeed rail miracle is legal, but unethical. Everyone knows for sure how quickly China developed such a vast network of High-Speed Rail (HSR). Not many know how this was done quickly through shortcuts.

A decade ago, China was planning to create an HSR network across the country. One small problem: They didn’t have the technical expertise and know-how. So, they called international experts. Siemens was given an order to make 300 kmph train sets for China Railway Rollingstock Corporation (CRRC). These were cutting edge. Technology wise, up to date. Sweet order. None could avoid it. Just a catch. There’d be tech transfer from Siemens to CRRC.

Siemens did sign the deal, expecting not to lose a big market like China as they would need more trains. But, CRRC tricked Siemens. Leave alone going ahead and capturing bids from within China, CRRC started competing “head-to-head” with Siemens. This is all done by a single signature on tech transfer. Not sure if it would stand in Court of Law, in favor of China, elsewhere. On technology transfer, similar experiences happen for Alstom, Bombardier, Kawasaki. Now this is perfectly legal.

In European theater, to stop being potent competitors for China Rail and Rollingstock corporation (CRRC), it is reported that China even used diplomatic clout on European Commission to stop the politically contentious merger of Siemens — Alstom. This merger means the biggest competitor for CRRC, which still would be roughly half of what CRRC is currently. Proposed Siemens — Alstom merger points out how fractures are created by China. It triggered a political issue between Germany and France and they are talking to each other to calm the situation to find a way out.

Meanwhile, the Alstom — Bombardier deal worked out well, with a German interference as Alstom made some quick business moves to gain early anti-trust approval from European Commission. It is an entirely different story on why Germany is supporting China so much despite reservations from other European nations. Chinese use their car market to have that leverage over Germany. This is nothing but, economic militarisation through joint ventures, unethical reverseengineering, militarising trade.

 Illegal and unethical

Year 2006. Duke University, San Diego, United States of America. The (in)famous story of Liu Ruopeng who was investigated by the FBI for stealing intellectual property from Dr David Smith’s US Department of Defense funded laboratory. Dr Smith was into research about metamaterials that create an invisible cloak — which could make sure radar signals don’t pick objects that are covered by the cloak. Liu was doing his doctorate under Dr Smith who was researching.

 Liu ultimately got his PhD. But, after his expulsion from the research group. The FBI could do nothing beyond expulsion. Liu today is no ordinary man. He is dubbed to be the next Elon Musk. After he went back to China, he was rewarded. He started his own company. Liu is a billionaire already. Probably he would earn much more. His innovations might sound cool. Even today, the entrance of his office has a cloak monument. Highlight of this episode of stealing is that this research and lab of Dr Smith was being funded by the US Department of Defense. Imagine the amount of money, capability and resources needed to infiltrate such sensitive research projects.

Another incident. US Department of Justice released a statement on its website on July 30, 2020 about an Ohio woman Li Chen pleaded guilty today via video conference in US District Court to conspiring to steal scientific trade secrets and conspiring to commit wire fraud concerning the research, identification and treatment of a range of pediatric medical conditions.

Per NationalPulse.com, Li Chen and Yu Zhou (her husband) were trying to steal secrets relating to Exosomes — which plays a key role in identification and treatment of various medical conditions including Liver Cancer. Zhou and Chen admitted to selling “isolation kits” through their company for “personal gain” in China. Highlight of this whole episode is, they got funds from Chinese Government — State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs and National Natural Science Foundation of China.

As Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C Demers put it, “Once again we see the People’s Republic of China (PRC) facilitating the theft of our nation’s ingenuity and hard work as part of their quest to rob, replicate and replace any product they don’t have the ability to develop themselves.” On the pattern he added, “Far from being an isolated incident, we see the PRC implicated in around 60 percent of all trade secret theft cases. This continued economic belligerence runs contrary to the values and norms that facilitate the success of our industries and countering it remains among our highest priorities.” Sixty percent of all trade theft cases happen in China.  Let that sink in. That’s how deep China has intruded into US companies, institutions and research projects.

In 2014, China passed a law which requires every Chinese citizen to cooperate in acts of Chinese intelligence agencies. In other words, there can’t be a more direct order for its citizens to co-opt in surveillance acts by the Ministry of State Security of PRC. To give the adequate human resource required, China uses those large numbers of tourists and students that it sends every year to many countries. Especially to the US, UK and Australia. To give an indication of the scale of it, China has about 3.7 lakh students in the US, 1.2L in the UK, 1.6L in Australia. All these students have an obligation to abide by the above legislation, if need be. Similarly, for tourists, act as “courier” to transfer back to China. Few weeks ago, some of these students were caught on camera participating in protests that happened in the US.

 To influence those high and mighty in power corridors, China invested heavily in key people. Take the case of Andy Purdy, Huawei’s Chief Security officer. He was a member of the White House team that drafted the US National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (2003). Another example is how China’s propaganda is delivered at the doorsteps of politicians. As Republican Jim Banks said in a recent interview to Epoch Times, “It’s unbelievable to me. The China Daily, which is a state-run propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party, magically appears on the doorstep of every lawmaker on Capitol Hill. Imagine the impact it makes in the psyche of decision makers.

That’s not all. If you think, the US was the worst infected country by Chinese communists, think again. Because, Australia story would beat that. China conquered Australian land mass through silent invasion, without firing a single bullet. The largest among China’s poison tree farm in Indo-Pacific region is, Australia. The silent invasion has happened. Australia is battling it in various ways. (This article is the first part of a two-part series. second will appear tomorrow.)

Shreedharan Raman watches strategic moves by countries around the globe, especially China, and writes his opinions occasionally on shreedharan. com and can be contacted at write@shreedharan.com. 

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Defence

Handwara locals celebrate one year of the abrogation of Article 370 with mela

Ashish Singh

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Soundly rejecting Pakistan’s efforts to create a false narrative around the first anniversary of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiris celebrated the occasion by organising “Bangus Awaam Mela” in Handwara district with great fanfare. The two-day annual festival witnessed the participation of hundreds of Gujjars, Bakarwals and other Kashmiri sightseers from Kupwara, Tangdhar and Handwara. 

The mela commenced on 3 August and the grand finale was held on 4 August. Village games such as horse racing, sheep shepherding challenge, tugs of war and wood chopping competitions were organised on the first day in which the local Gujjar and Bakarwal community, from various Bhaiks who inhabit the beautiful meadows during the summer months, actively participated.

 A veterinary and medical camp was also organised by the local Rashtriya Rifles unit as per the request of senior community members. The doctors advised, treated and gave free medicines to 679 patients including 49 children. The veterinary camp provided medical aid to 135 livestock in addition to surgical assistance to the wounded. 

On the festival’s second day, the audience enjoyed folk songs by the Gujjar community, patriotic songs by local children, dances and a karate display by Handwara Kudo Association in addition to the village games finals. The event culminated with rousing participation in National Anthem recitation and a vote of thanks by the community elders to the Army for its support.

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