In the wake of Jammu terror strike, MoD clears Rs 160 bn rifle procurement

The defence ministry has gone through several long-running acquisition processes for assault rifles and carbines but cancelled them all, most recently last year

Sunjuwan Army camp attack,Nirmala Sitharaman, defence minister, Indian soldiers, terror attack, Jammu and Kashmir,Jaish-e-Muhammad,Pakistan,Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti

Two days after yet another deadly terrorist strike in Jammu claimed six Indian lives, the government restarted a faltering procurement aimed at strengthening the firepower of the frontline infantry soldier, who bears the brunt of counter-insurgency operations and deployment along the Pakistan and China borders. | Today’s Paper

On Tuesday, the ministry’s apex Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, cleared the capital purchase of assault rifles, sniper rifles and light machine guns worth about Rs 159.35 billion ($2.5 billion).

“In the last one month, to equip the soldiers on the border with modern and more effective equipment, the DAC has fast-tracked procurement of the three main personal weapons, i.e., rifles, carbines and light machine guns”, a defence ministry release stated.
The “Fast Track Process” of the Defence Procurement Policy of 2016 (DPP-2016), is directed at concluding an acquisition within a year.

Over the preceding decade, the defence ministry has gone through several long-running acquisition processes for small arms – which include assault rifles, carbines and light machine guns – but cancelled them all, most recently last year.

ALSO READ: Jammu terror attack: MoD clears Rs 160 bn rifle purchase & 10 developments

The core of the approvals accorded today relate to the infantry’s basic weapon – the assault rifle. Approval was accorded for procuring 740,000 assault rifles for an estimated cost of Rs 122.80 billion ($1.91 billion).

The ministry stated the rifles will be procured under the category of “Buy and Make (Indian)”. This involves buying a limited number of fully-built rifles from the chosen global vendor, who then transfers technology to India to build the bulk of the order in the public sector Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and by private firms.

The DAC also approved procurement of 5,719 sniper rifles for long-range shooting by the army and the air force at a cost of Rs 9.82 billion ($153 million). Given the complexity of these high precision weapons, they will not be built in India; but procured fully-built under the “Buy Global” category of the DPP.

However, “the ammunition for these will be initially procured [from abroad] and subsequently manufactured in India”, said the defence ministry release.

The DAC also cleared the purchase of an “essential quantity” of light machine guns for an estimated cost of Rs 18.19 crore ($283 million). This initial procurement is intended to meet the immediate “operational requirement of the troops deployed on the borders… [while a] concurrent proposal is being processed for the [remaining requirement] to be procured under the ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ categorisation,” said the ministry.
As Business Standard earlier reported (November 4, “Infantry to get foreign rifles, others to get ‘made in India’”), the government is proceeding on two parallel acquisition tracks to procure small arms at affordable prices. | Readmore

 

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Budget 2018: FM Jaitley announces new tunnel in Arunachal to counter China

The defence ministry said the approval for the construction of Sela pass in Arunachal Pradesh has given further impetus to the defence preparedness

The three sister peaks of the Bhagirathi mountains

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today announced the government’s plan to build a tunnel through the Sela Pass located at an elevation of 13,700 ft which will ensure faster movement of troops in Tawang, a strategically-located town in Arunachal Pradesh bordering China.

The defence ministry said the approval for the construction of Sela pass in Arunachal Pradesh has given further impetus to the defence preparedness.

In his budget address, Jaitley said the government was developing connectivity infrastructure in border areas to secure India’s defence.

The proposal to build the Sela pass comes amid concerns in the defence establishment over China’s growing assertiveness along the nearly 4,000 km-long Sino-India border.

“Rohtang tunnel has been completed to provide all weather connectivity to the Ladakh region. Contract for construction of Zozila Pass tunnel of more than 14 kilometres is progressing well. I now propose to take up construction of tunnel under Sela Pass,” Jaitley said.

The Sela pass is located between the Tawang and West Kameng districts of Arunachal Pradesh and considered crucial from strategic perspective.

Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam last year after the Indian side stopped construction of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam. The face- off had ended on August 28.

The Indian Army has been pressing for speedy development of infrastructure along the border with China.

Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat last month had said time has come for India to shift focus from its border with Pakistan to that with China.

He had also said that the Army was focusing on improving border infrastructure to ensure speedy movement of ammunition and troops.

Click here to read → Budget 2018 Highlights

Black day vs anti-black money day: BJP, Opposition face off over note ban

Manmohan Singh said if anyone benefited demonetisation, GST, it was China whose imports to India grew by 23% in just 1 year

Demonetisation, currency, notes

A year into demonetisation – Anti-Black Money Day, the opposition and the government on Tuesday exchanged verbal blows over the action with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling it disastrous while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rejected the charge saying there was an ethical and moral rationale behind the decision which had given a “new direction” to the economy.

Jaitley, however, acknowledged that the “benefits may not be immediately visible” but would make future generations proud.

Fielded by the party in poll-bound Gujarat, Manmohan Singh said the measure had failed its ostensible purpose of curbing wealth accumulated through tax evasion as it was known by now that none of the stated objectives of eliminating black money, terror financing and counterfeit currency have been met.

ALSO READ: War of words: It’s govt’s ‘anti-black money day’ vs Oppn’s ‘black day’

“The fact that more more than 99 per cent of the (spiked) currency came back into the banking system has punctured the government’s claim. There are also widespread reports of the rich converting their black money into white while the poor have undergone immense suffering,” he said, “invoking the memory of more than a hundred people who lost their lives last year in the wake of the demonetisation”.

Calling the withdrawing of 86 per cent of legal tender in one single stroke as undemocratic and a coercive move, the former Prime Minister said “the demonetisation was clearly not the solution” to end the menace of black money and tax evasion in India.

“Demonetisation has proved to be a mere bluster to reap political dividends while the real offenders have escaped,” he said, again calling it “an organised loot and legalised plunder”. | READ MORE

India appoints Gautam Bambawale as new ambassador to China

Bambawale appointment comes at a time when India and China are trying to put behind the Dokalam stand-off

Gautam Bambawale

Seasoned diplomat Gautam Bambawale, India’s high commissioner to Pakistan, was today appointed as the country’s next envoy to China.

This was announced tonight by the external affairs ministry.

A 1984 India Foreign Service (IFS) officer, Bambawale is expected to take up the assignment shortly, the ministry said. He will replace Vijay Gokhale.

A deft hand in Sino-India relations, Bambawale opted to learn Mandarin Chinese as his foreign language and served in Hong Kong and Beijing between 1985 and 1991.

He was first the desk officer for China in the Ministry of External Affairs and served as director in the Americas Division of the ministry, responsible for relations with the US and Canada (1993-94).

He has also functioned as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Indian Embassy in Beijing.

His appointment comes at a time when India and China are trying to put behind the Dokalam standoff and work on a “forward-looking” approach in their ties.

Doklam row: Ready for two-front war with China, Pak, says IAF chief Dhanoa

Chinese troops are currently present in the Chumbi Valley in the Doklam Plateau


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Today’s Paper :The Indian Air Force is capable of effectively countering any threat from China and Pakistan simultaneously in a two-front war, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said on Thursday and indicated existing tension between Chinese and Indian troops in Dokalam row.

Noting that the Chinese troops were currently present in the Chumbi Valley in the Doklam Plateau, the IAF chief said a peaceful resolution of the issue would be in the interest of both the countries.

“The two sides are not in a physical face-off as we speak. However, their forces in Chumbi Valley are still deployed and I expect them to withdraw as their exercise in the area gets over,” Dhanoa told reporters ahead of IAF Day, which is marked on October 8.

Indian and Chinese troops were locked in an over two-month-long standoff after India stopped the construction of a road by China in Doklam in the Sikkim sector on June 16.

Asked about concerns over Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons and whether the IAF would be able to disarm Islamabad of its nuclear arsenals if necessary, Dhanoa said his force had the capability of locating, fixing and striking across the border.

Asserting that the IAF was capable of a two-front war to counter China and Pakistan, he, however, said the possibility of such a scenario was “low”. At the same time he added that India’s response had to be based on the enemy’s capability as intentions could change overnight.

“We need a strength of 42 squadrons to carry out full spectrum operations in a two-front (war) scenario. It does not mean that we are not capable of fighting a two-front (war) as we speak. We have a plan B,” Dhanoa said….READ MORE

Leave Sikkim Dokalam area with dignity or be kicked out: Chinese media

China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan trijunction

Photo: Twitter

Today’s Paper : The Chinese official media on Wednesday stepped up its attack on India with editorials asking Indian troops to move out of Dokalam area in Sikkim sector “with dignity or be kicked out” and describing the situation as “worryingly tense”.

While China’s nationalistic tabloid Global Times said India should be taught a “bitter lesson”, another official newspaper, China Daily, said India should look in the mirror.

The Global Times said in its editorial that India will suffer “greater losses” than in 1962 if it “incites” border clashes with China.

As the standoff in the Dokalam area continued for the third week, it said India should be taught a “bitter lesson”.

It also claimed that the Chinese public was infuriated by India’s “provocation”.

“We believe the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is powerful enough to expel Indian troops out of Chinese territory. The Indian military can choose to return to its territory with dignity, or be kicked out of the area by Chinese soldiers,” it said.

“We need to give diplomatic and military authorities full power to handle the issue. We call on Chinese society to maintain high-level unity on the issue. The more unified the Chinese people are, the more sufficient conditions the professionals will have to fight against India and safeguard our interests. This time, we must teach New Delhi a bitter lesson,” it said. | read more…