India’s future historians may look on February 25, 2019 as a milestone in the country’s journey from soft to hard state, The first baby step was taken back in October 1947 when the Pakistan sponsored Pathan tribal invasion of the Kashmir valley was successfully repelled by the Indian Army.
V.P Menon, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s principal aide, famously wrote: ‘Srinagar today, Delhi tomorrow.’ The cycle of invasion, loot and destruction associated with Mahmud Ghaznavi and his like centuries earlier, model for the first Islamic state in the modern era in the Subcontinent, Pakistan – ‘Land of the Pure,’ had run its course. The fledgling Indian state in the aftermath of Partition withstood its first external challenge with notable success.
India- baiting takes toll of jihadi group
The facts are simple: on February 16, a suicide bomber of the Pakistan-based jihadi group Jaish-e-Mohammad blew up a truck in a convoy carrying paramilitary soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force at Pulwama in Kashmir. Forty-one of these men were killed – a major intelligence failure - leading to deepening rage across India. This was not an isolated incident; it was a continuing graph of Pakistan-sponsored jihadi activity in different areas of India – asymmetrical war designed to bleed India to paralytic exhaustion.
Faced with a deepening dilemma, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, between his teeth, authorized India’s military to respond appropriately to the latest outrage – which the three services duly did, with the Indian Air Force in the lead - calibrated response. Twelve IAF Mirage jets, with four air superiority Sukhoi 30MKI aircraft as protective cover along the Line-of Control, struck the Jaish-e-Mohammad training camp at Balacot in Pakistan, levelling it to the ground with estimated 200-300 deaths among jihadi operatives stationed there. The entire exercise was carried out with consummate skill and precision from the 1000 mile distant base in Gwalior, with bases in close proximity played decoys to deceive the enemy (Hindu, Times of India, Business Line February 27).
IAF eye in the sky
The Indian Air Force has commissioned an aerial surveillance system to monitor suspicious movements in dense foliage along the Line-of-Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. This hyper spectral imagery programme, a first for the country, seeks to locate and identify objects and their movements (Hindu February 23).
The Indian Foreign Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, Vijay Gokhale, issued a statement saying that the Indian attack was targeted exclusively at the Jaish-e-Mohammad base, and had avoided Pakistan military installations and population centres (Hindu, Times of India, Statesman, Business Line, TV Channels February 26).
PM, Mamata Banerjee, Rahul Gandhi takes
Prime Minister Modi: ‘The country is in safe hands. I will never allow my motherland to be wiped out or bow down to anyone.’ Bengal Chief Minister and TMC head Mamata Banerjee: ‘I salute the IAF for carrying out the air strikes...IAF also means India’s amazing fighters.’
Congress President Rahul Gandhi: ‘I salute the pilots of the Indian Air Force for carrying out the air strikes on a terrorist camp in Pakistan and for keeping Indians safe.’
Tata, India Inc laud strike
The captains of Indian industry took to Twitter, applauding the Balacot air strike in the wake of the suicide bombing at Pulwama. Mr Tata said: ‘We congratulate the PM and the IAF for the successful air strikes on the terrorist training camps which Pakistan has claimed never existed! India is proud of the firm action taken in retaliation to the suicide attack on our soldiers a few days ago, tweeted the Chairman of Tata Sons.
Industrialist Gautam Adani tweeted: ‘The message from our armed forces is strong and resonates with the pulse of the world’s most populous democracy. The nation continues to to stand firmly behind our armed forces,’ said the Adani Group Chairman.
Mahindra Group Chairman, Anand Mahindra tweeted: ‘And they returned safely...which is a feat in itself. Let us pray for the continued safety of of those who protect us.’
RPG Chairman Harsh Goenka’s tweet reads: ‘Indian Air Force show moves from Bangalore to Balacot. Swachi B harat campaign moves to Swaci Pakistan .’Josh’ converts to start of end of Jaish.’
‘We salute and stand firm with the valour of our security forces for their sustained commitment to protect our freedom. For the families of the pulwama martyrs a small token of gratitude from everyone,’ tweeted Aditya Ghosh, CEO India and South Asia Hotels Homes.
Jindal Steel and Power Chairman Naveen Jindal tweeted his salutations to the Indian Air Force and the team that carried out the strikes at Balacot (Hindu February 28).
India, Russia in billion Dollar small arms deal
India and Russia are closing in on a multibillion Inter Governmental deal for the production of AK 1033 assault rifles by an Indian Ordnance factories, according to Victor Kladov, Director International Cooperation and Regional Policy, Rostek State at the Aero India show at Bangaluru. India had signed multibillion arms deals with Russia in recent years and more were in thepipeline, said Mr ladov Hindu February 23).
Aero India 2019
Sukhoi-30MKI is the cutting edge and mainstay of the Indian air power, playing a significant role in the recent air strike on Balakot. It is a Russian multi-role aircraft with critical Indian software and avionics o board. Following the bilateral Summit in New Delhi in October last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin issued a statement indicating that the ‘Military and Military-Technical Cooperation between their countries was an ‘important pillar of their strategic relationship.’ The Sukhoi-30MKI has encompassed collaboration at the highest level between Indian and Russian engineers including the fitting of the joint venture product force multiplier supersonic BrahMos cruise missile into the aircraft’s weapons system, which it a competitive edge over India’s regional competitors (Hindu February 20).
Former ISI chief warns Imran Khan
The Pakistan Army and Prime Minister Imran Khan face a crisis of confidence following the Indian Air Force strike on Balacot, stronghold of the jihadi Jaish-e-Mohammad, said General Asad Durrani, former spymaster and head of the country’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, who fell out of favour and lost his pension and other privileges for authoring a book with A.S. Daulat, the former director of RAW, India’s external intelligence service. Durrani pointed to Pakistan’s gloomy record as a global sponsor of jihadi terrorism, and its acceptance by the broad spectrum of the international community. This truth had taken hold in Pakistan itself, he averred.
New Pakistan claim a hoax
General Durrani pooh-poohed Imran Khan’s talk of a ‘naya’ (New) Pakistan. This was fiction. The Army headquarters at Rawalpindi called the shots, more so Pakistan’s India policy. If the the aim of the aim of the Pulwana bomb blast was to embarrass Prime Minister Modi prior to India’s forthcoming general election, it has achieved the precise opposite, said General Durrani.
Pakistan’s Kashmir policy since 1947 has failed, so has its US policy, which was predicated on the endless supply of modern weaponry and financial bailouts. The heavy military hand lost Bangladesh, while its nuclear blackmail was losing its potency as India developed more sophisticated military options. Imran Khan, he remarked dismissively, is simply the Army’s civilian voice. He speaks in an echo chamber (Times of India February 28) See page 3 for comment.
The Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) successfully test-fired two of its swift reaction Surface-to-Air missile from its testing range at Chandipur-on Sea off the Odisha coast last week. The flights demonstrated robust control, Aerodynamics Propulsion Structural performance and high manoeuvring capabilities, thus proving the design configuration. Radars, electric-optical systems etc helped track their entire flights (Statesman February 27).
Adani wins airports 50 year contract
The Adani group has been given charge of six government-owned Indian airports that were put up for privatisation. It becomes, through this 50 year contract, the third largest private operator in passenger volumes after the GMR and CVK groups. (Statesman, February 28, Business Line February 26).
India is heading for record 115.60 million tonnes of rice, according to advanced estimates of the Agriculture Ministry. This will be 2.38 per cent higher for 2018-19.Estimatwes for wheat will be 97.70 million tonnes, with other foodgrians such as pulses, sugar cane et al adding up to an overall total of 284.83 million tonnes, despite deficit rainfall in many key areas of the country Business Line March 1).
Higher air fares
With a 10 per cent rise in fuel, air fares are set to rise. Jet Airways, IndiGO, SpiceJet and Indian Airlines incurred heavy financial losses between April-September 2018, despite the booming domestic air travel sector (Times of India March 1).