29 September 2016

Cabinet approves India - Singapore MoU to give a boost to Innovation, Creativity and Technological Advancement

Cabinet approves India - Singapore MoU to give a boost to Innovation, Creativity and Technological Advancement
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of Industrial Property Cooperation between Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), Ministry of Law, Government of Singapore. The MoU will be signed at the upcoming visit of Singapore’s Prime Minister to India from 4-7 October, 2016.

The MoU will enhance bilateral cooperation activities in the arena of Industrial Property Rights of Patents, Trademarks and Industrial Designs. It is intended to give a boost to innovation, creativity and technological advancement in both regions. The Priority initiatives under the MoU would be:

• Exchange of best practices, experiences and knowledge on Intellectual Property awareness among the public, businesses and educational institutions of both countries

• Exchange of experts specialized in the field of intellectual property

• Exchange and dissemination of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP with the industry, universities, R & D organizations and Small and Medium Enterprises

• Cooperation in the development of automation and implementation of modernization projects

• Partnership in IP-related training for local IP and business communities

The MoU will enable India to exchange experiences in the innovation and IP ecosystems that will substantially benefit entrepreneurs, investor and businesses on both sides. The exchange of best practices between the two countries will lead to improved protection and awareness about India's range of Intellectual creations which are as diverse as its people. It will be a landmark step forward in India's journey towards becoming a major player in global innovation and will further the objectives of the National IPR Policy, 2016. 

Cabinet approves ratification of the Paris Agreement

Cabinet approves ratification of the Paris Agreement
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to ratify the Paris Agreement (on Climate Change) on 2nd October 2016, the day of Gandhi Jayanti.

Paris Agreement was adopted by 185 nations last year on 12th December 2015 and India signed the Paris Agreement in New York early this year on 22nd April 2016. A total of 191 countries have signed to the Paris Agreement so far. As per the provisions of the Paris Agreement, the treaty will come into force as and when 55 countries contributing to 55 % of total global emission ratify the agreement. So far, 61 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval accounting in total for 47.79% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions.

India’s decision to ratify the agreement will take the number of cumulative level of emission of countries that have ratified the agreement so far to 51.89%. With the gathering momentum and willingness expressed by several other countries to ratify the agreement before the end of this year, it is expected that the Agreement will enter into force soon and give a thrust to the global actions to address climate change.

With its decision to ratify the Agreement, India will be one of the key countries that will be instrumental in bringing the Paris Agreement into force. Given the critical role that India played in securing international consensus on Paris Agreement, today’s decision will further underline India’s responsive leadership in the community of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice.

While agreeing to ratify the Paris Agreement, the Cabinet has also decided that India should declare that India will treat its national laws, its development agenda, availability of means of implementation, its assessment of global commitment to combating climate change, and predictable and affordable access to cleaner source of energy as the context in which the Agreement is being ratified.

Paris Agreement pertains to post-2020 climate actions. In the pre-2020 period, developed countries are to act as per Kyoto Protocol and some developing countries have taken voluntary pledges. 

Govt to conduct study of alien plant species in bid to check invasion of forests

Govt to conduct study of alien plant species in bid to check invasion of forests

Invasive alien species are species whose introduction and spread outside their natural habitats threaten biological diversity
The environment ministry will conduct a study of alien plant species to craft a programme to check their invasion of India’s forests, a ministry official said.
Invasive alien species are species whose introduction and spread outside their natural habitats threaten biological diversity. Among major threats faced by native plant and animal species and their habitats, the threat by the invasive alien species is considered second only to habitat loss.
“We will soon finalise an implementing agency for it. The agency will need to manage and control alien invasive species in selected forest landscapes of approximately 30,000 hectares area in Central Indian highlands region. Demonstrative sites will be undertaken in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh first,” said an environment ministry official, who did not wish to be identified.
The study will also suggest measures to improve the quality of India’s forests.
As per official estimates, India has an estimated species count of 18,000 plants, 30 mammals, 4 birds, 300 freshwater fishes and 1,100 arthropods that are invasive. Sometimes, species native to one part of the country are invasive in another.
The recently released draft of the National Wildlife Action Plan had also batted for a national policy on managing invasive alien species. The impact of biological invasions by alien species is considered to be a major factor in the loss of biodiversity. Invasive alien species can transform landscapes and cause dramatic ecological changes that reduce the adaptability and competitiveness of native species.
The environment ministry will receive World Bank’s Global Environment Facility grant for India’s Ecosystem Services improvement Project (ESIP). As part of this, models will be developed and tested for improving forest quality through effective management of invasive alien species.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be around $1.5 million.
The Green India Mission (GIM) aims to improve forest quality over five million hectares and developing new forests over another five million hectares. The ESIP project aligns with GIM as management of invasive species in India’s forests is a focus area.
GIM is expected to also contribute towards India’s voluntary actions that it pledged last October to bring down its greenhouse gas emissions including creating an additional sink of 2.5-3 billion carbon dioxide (CO2) through additional tree and forest cover by 2030.
According to the official quoted above, the selected organization for the study will also hold multi-stakeholder consultations for developing a national research agenda and strategies for specific invasive alien species.
“It will also develop and implement innovative approaches and field-based activities for invasive species removal, replanting with native species and biological control. It will result in enhance national knowledge support base to support the policy on contain the geographic spread of such invasive species,” the official explained.

GST roll-out: cabinet clears Saksham project The Saksham project will help in integrating systems for entire indirect tax system

In a move aimed at easing the transition towards the goods and services tax (GST), the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday approved a Rs2,256 crore project for upgrading the information technology systems of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
The cost of the “Saksham” project will be spread over seven years; the project will help in integration of systems for the entire indirect tax system. The project will help in implementation of GST, extending the customs department a Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) to include more services and in other ease-of-doing-business initiatives of the CBEC, the government said in a statement.
The CBEC—the government’s indirect tax wing—will revamp its eight-year-old information technology system on its own, keeping in mind the 1 April 2017 rollout date for the GST and to integrate its system with that of the GST network.
The government estimates that the number of taxpayers administered by the CBEC will increase to over 6.5 million from the current 3.6 million in a GST regime.
Also on Wednesday, the cabinet approved a productivity-linked bonus (PLB) equivalent to 78 days’ wages to be paid to eligible non-gazetted railway employees, excluding the Railway Police Force, for 2015-16.
Under the scheme, around Rs2090.96 crore would be distributed among around 70,000 railway employees before Dussehra. The annual bonus is given to railway employees as an incentive to enhance their productivity.
The cabinet approved an undertaking between India and South Korea on mutual recognition of certificates. This will allow mutual recognition of maritime education and training, certificates of competency, endorsements, training documentary evidence and medical fitness certificates for seafarers issued by both governments.
Focusing on the welfare of senior citizens, the cabinet gave back-dated approval of expenditure incurred on subsidy amount released to Life Insurance Corporation(LIC) for Varistha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY), 2003 and VPBY, 2014.
In another decision on loss-making central public sector enterprises (CPSEs), the cabinet approved the closure of Hindustan Cables Ltd (HCL), Kolkata, at a cost of Rs1,309.9 crore.
With the intention of boosting innovation, creativity and technological advancement in India and Singapore, the cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the field of industrial property cooperation between the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion under the ministry of commerce and industry and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) under the ministry of law, government of Singapore. The MoU will be signed during the visit of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to India from 4-7 October.
The CCEA also approved a proposal by the department of heavy industry for providing financial assistance amounting to Rs111.59 crore as a loan to Bharat Pumps and Compressors Ltd, Allahabad. The CCEA extended in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of the company. Statutory dues such as provident fund and gratuity of retired employees of the company will be paid.

28 September 2016

Indus Water Treaty: Five key facts

Indus Water Treaty: Five key facts

PM Modi’s meeting on Monday to review the Indus Water Treaty has raised the possibility that the govt may seek to alter the provisions of the 1960 agreement

For 56 years, both India and Pakistan are peacefully sharing the water of Indus and its tributaries, thanks to The Indus Water Treaty.

At a time when States within India are unable to find an amicable solution to sharing water from rivers that flow between them, India and Pakistan are living examples of how water resources can be shared through legal frame work.
For 56 years, both India and Pakistan are peacefully sharing the water of Indus and its tributaries, thanks to The Indus Water Treaty.
1The Indus Waters Treaty was signed on September 19, 1960 by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan's President Ayub Khan. 
2It was brokered by the World Bank.
3The treaty administers how river Indus and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be utilised.
4According to the treaty, Beas, Ravi and Sutlej are to be governed by India, while, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum are to be taken care by Pakistan.
5However, since Indus flows from India, the country is allowed to use 20 per cent of its water for irrigation, power generation and transport purposes.
6A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing.
7The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably.
8Though Indus originates from Tibet, China has been kept out of the Treaty. If China decides to stop or change the flow of the river, it will affect both India and Pakistan.
9Climate change is causing melting of ice in Tibetan plateau, which scientists believe will affect the river in future.
10It maybe noted that both India and Pakistan are still at loggerheads over various issues since Partition, but there has been no fight over water after the Treaty was ratified.

prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting on Monday with senior government officials to review the Indus Waters Treaty has raised the possibility that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government may seek to alter or scrap the provisions of the 1960 pact with Pakistan.
The Modi government is under tremendous public pressure to take action against Pakistan to rein in terrorism emanating from its soil against India in the aftermath of the killing of 18 soldiers in the Uri terror attack on 18 September.
But the key question is: Can India take unilateral action to alter the provisions of the treaty? There are no straightforward answers to this question.
To put it in perspective, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah noted in a Tweet on Friday that the 1960 World Bank-mediated Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan has survived three wars and numerous lows in India-Pakistan relations.

Not surprisingly, it is regarded as one of the great success stories of water diplomacy between two neighbours, whose relations are often fractious.
What is the 1960 Indus Water Treaty?
The treaty was signed by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru with Pakistani president Ayub Khan on 19 September 1960 in Karachi. The Indus Waters Treaty primarily covers the water distribution and sharing rights of six rivers—Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum. All the rivers of the Indus Basin are in India (although both of them originate in Chinese-controlled territories).
In simple terms, the treaty is an arrangement to implement a fair distribution of a natural resource between India and Pakistan. It also provides for mechanisms to resolve disputes over water sharing.
What are the provisions of the water-sharing agreement?
Under the treaty, Pakistan received exclusive use of waters from the Indus and its westward flowing tributaries, the Jhelum and Chenab, while the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers were allocated for India’s use. Although India can construct storage facilities on “Western rivers” of up to 3.6 million acre feet, it has so far not taken recourse to it so far.

Water as a weapon
Post-the Uri attack, most media debates and discussions to punish Pakistan has centered on using the treaty or more precisely “water as a weapon” against Pakistan. But it is easier said than done.
First, India lacks storage facilities to create a drought in Pakistan in the immediate term. Also, it is a huge infrastructural challenge to diver the waters of the three rivers (Indus, Jhelam and Chenab) to other geographical regions in India. Strictly speaking, India can temporarily stop the flow of water but cannot divert it.
The China factor
Moreover, India cannot ignore the China factor as both major rivers originate in Tibet. India does not have a treaty with China pertaining to this.
Neighbourhood jitters
Any unilateral action to scrap the treaty will draw criticism from world powers and may instill fear among other neighbours such as Nepal and Bangladesh with which India has similar treaties.
The Indus Waters Treaty 1960, which settled the sharing of the Indus waters, is internationally regarded as an example of successful conflict-resolution between two countries otherwise locked in a bad relationship.

Prime Minister told scientists to- “Link Technology with Common Man’s Life”- while inaugurating the CSIR Platinum Jubilee Celebrations

Prime Minister told scientists to- “Link Technology with Common Man’s Life”- while inaugurating the CSIR Platinum Jubilee Celebrations
“CSIR is a reflection of India in its diversity and heterogeneity and has left its indelible mark in every sphere of activities of the nation while playing a pivotal role in the development of Modern India by its all-round approach to Research & Development”, said the Prime Minister of India and the President of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). Shri Narendra Modi was addressing a distinguished gathering on the occasion of Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of CSIR, Ministry of Science & Technology here today.
The Prime Minister said that he looks forward to CSIR making an important contribution to the current Government’s mandate of doubling the income of the farmers’ income by 2022, the year the country celebrates 75 years of its Independence. In his message to the science fraternity across the country, Shri Modi stressed upon the urgent need to find technological solutions to address major problems being faced by the farmers, not only in terms of increasing the yield of the produce but also in growing crops in the wasteland areas through initiatives like ‘Per Drop More Crop’. He said we should have another objective which should be “an inch of land, and a bunch of crops.”
Shri Modi said that considering the contributions of CSIR over the last 75 years, the nation has large expectations from CSIR in delivering for the nation in the time-bound manner. This could be possible only by synergizing its activities and outcomes with all important functionaries in the entire value chain of taking the technology to masses, including all the important stakeholders, the government, industry, society and the ultimate users. Shri Modi gave a call to the scientific community to personally mentor science students to give shape to their ideas & energy and give India ‘Research Entrepreneurs’ of tomorrow.
The Prime Minister noted that CSIR has contributed significantly in Health sector. However, today when the nation faces the challenge of diseases like TB, Chikungunya, Dengue, etc, CSIR should also focus on development of affordable diagnostics that would help in the prevention of epidemics. He added that development of technologies enabling affordable products is the key to today’s world’s economy scenario that would not only cater to the domestic requirements but also help improve the country’s exports.
Earlier, Union Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan while thanking the Prime Minister for his valuable support and guidance, assured him that CSIR, which stands among top 100 R&D institutions in the world, would definitely deliver to the nation in a time-bound manner. CSIR, with the best minds and infrastructure is striving towards transforming the Brain Drain towards Brain Gain for India, he added.
On this occasion, the Prime Minister released seven new plant varieties developed by CSIR laboratories to the farmers located at five different locations. These varieties included: Citronella, Rose-scented Geranium, Lemongrass, Calla-Lily, new turmeric, Vetiver & Gerbera. The Prime Minister also interacted with the farmers at these places on prospects of farming these. He candidly urged farmers via video-conferencing to strive for taking a quantum jump in agriculture with the help of science & technology. He encouraged them to increase the use of modern technology and participation of youth in agriculture, concentrate on value addition based agriculture and explore different markets for their produce. Government stands firmly behind each citizen in his endeavors, he added. These new plant varieties, developed by CSIR labs in partnership with the state agriculture departments and universities over a span of five years, are expected to benefit the farmers in terms of additional income as a result of substantial increase in the agriculture yield.
The PM earlier witnessed an exclusive exhibition of major technological contributions of CSIR, including the ones that are in pipeline and have great potential of delivery to remove the drudgery of common masses, largely in the areas of healthcare, water conservation, solid waste management, waste-to-wealth, Communication & IT, housing, industrial competitiveness, and contributions to the strategic sector.
Later, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards, 2012-15, country’s highest award in science and other CSIR Awards were presented by Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri Y.S. Chowdary and Dr. Girish Sahni, Director General, CSIR.
Speaking on the occasion the Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri Y.S. Chowdary he envisioned a quantum jump in the field of Science & Technology Research and gave a call to the scientific fraternity to work dedicatedly for the ‘Target Nobel Prize’. The Ministry stands firmly behind all the efforts made in this direction, he added.
The distinguished gathering consisted of Senior scientists, Directors of National Science Institutions, awardees and 150 Sciences students.

PSLV-C35 Successfully Launches Eight Satellites into Two Different Orbits in a Single Flight

PSLV-C35 Successfully Launches Eight Satellites into Two Different Orbits in a Single Flight
In its thirty seventh flight (PSLV-C35), ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched the 371 kg SCATSAT-1 Satellite along with seven co-passenger satellites today morning (September 26, 2016) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty sixth consecutively successful mission of PSLV. The total weight of all the eight satellites carried on-board PSLV-C35 was 675 kg. PSLV-C35 is the first PSLV mission to launch satellites carried onboard into two different orbits. This PSLV mission was the longest of the PSLV missions conducted till date and was completed in 2 hours 15 minutes and 33 seconds after lift-off.
After PSLV-C35 lift-off at 0912 hrs (9:12 am) IST from the First Launch Pad with the ignition of the first stage, the subsequent important flight events, namely, strap-on ignitions and separations, first stage separation, second stage ignition, payload fairing separation, second stage separation, third stage ignition and separation, fourth stage ignition and cut-off, took place as planned. After a flight of 16 minutes 56 seconds, the vehicle achieved a polar Sun Synchronous Orbit of 724 km inclined at an angle of 98.1 degree to the equator (very close to the intended orbit) and 37 seconds later the primary satellite SCATSAT-1 was separated from the PSLV fourth stage.
After separation, the two solar arrays of SCATSAT-1 satellite were deployed automatically and ISRO's Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bangalore took over the control of the satellite. In the coming days, the satellite will be brought to its final operational configuration following which it will begin to provide weather related services using its scatterometer payload. The data sent by SCATSAT-1 satellite will help provide weather forecasting services to user communities through the generation of wind vector products as well as cyclone detection and tracking.
After the successful separation of SCATSAT-1, the PSLV-C35 mission continued. Still carrying the seven co-passenger satellites, the fourth stage of PSLV coasted over the South polar region and then started ascending towards the Northern hemisphere. A safe distance between the orbiting SCATSAT-1 and PSLV-C35 fourth stage was maintained by suitably manoeuvring the stage.
At 1 hour 22 minutes and 38 seconds after lift-off as the fourth stage was in the North polar region, the two engines of PSLV fourth stage were reignited and fired for 20 seconds. As a result of this, it entered into an elliptical orbit measuring 725 km on one side of the Earth and 670 km on the other.
And 50 minutes later, as the PSLV fourth stage was again coasting near the south pole, its engines were fired for another 20 seconds. This second firing made the fourth stage to enter into a circular orbit of 669 km height inclined at an angle of 98.2 degree to the equator.
37 seconds later, the Dual Launch Adapter was successfully separated from the PSLV-C35 fourth stage. 30 seconds after this event, ALSAT-1 was the first co-passenger satellite to be separated successfully. Following this, the NLS-19, PRATHAM, PISAT, ALSAT-1B, ALSAT-2B, and Pathfinder-1 were separated from the PSLV fourth stage in a predetermined sequence thereby successfully completing PSLV-C35 mission.
Of the seven co-passenger satellites carried by PSLV-C35, two – PRATHAM weighing 10 kg and PISAT weighing 5.25 kg – are University/Academic institute satellites and were built with the involvement of students from IIT-Bombay and PES University, Bangalore and its consortium, respectively.
The remaining five co-passenger satellites were international customer satellites from Algeria (three – ALSAT-1B, ALSAT-2B and ALSAT-1N), Canada (one- NLS-19) and the United States (one – Pathfinder-1).
With today’s launch, the PSLV’s capability to launch satellites into two different orbits has been successfully demonstrated. The total number of satellites launched by India’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV has now reached 121, of which 42 are Indian and the remaining 79 are from abroad.

Five things to know about Isro’s PSLV C-35 launch
Isro successfully launched PSLV C-35, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota
The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) successfully launched PSLV C-35, carrying eight satellites including India’s ocean and weather satellite SCATSAT-1, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, on Monday morning.
Here are five things to know about PSLV C-35 and the eight satellites.
1. The Monday’s launch used India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), making its 37th flight. Introduced in 1993, the PSLV has a record of 34 successful launches, one partial failure and one outright failure, which occurred on its first launch. The PSLV has made 32 consecutive launches successfully over a period of almost 19 years since placing the IRS-1D satellite into a lower-than-planned orbit during its fourth flight in September 1997. PSLV is a four-stage rocket, with a mixture of solid and liquid-fuelled stages.
2. The 44.4 metre tall PSLV will carry a total weight of 675kg of all the eight satellites on board. This will be PSLV’s longest mission spread over two hours and it is the first time that the rocket is putting its payloads in two different orbits, demonstrating the restart capability of Isro on a complete mission.
3. It places the primary satellite SCATSAT-1 meant for weather forecasting, cyclone detection and tracking the polar sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) at 730 km, while the seven others will be injected in a 689 km lower orbit after over two hours.
4. The 371kg primary satellite, Scatterometer Satellite 1 or or SCATSAT-1, is designed to serve as a stopgap to help measure ocean winds following the failure of the OSCAT instrument aboard the OceanSat-2 satellite in February 2014. SCATSAT-1 is designed for five years of service, providing an overlap with the OceanSat-3 spacecraft currently scheduled for launch in 2018. The mission objectives of SCATSAT-1 are to help provide weather forecasting services, cyclone detection and tracking.
5. Besides SCATSAT-1, the PSLV rocket is carrying two Indian university satellites, three from Algeria and one each from the US and Canada. The two academic satellites are PRATHAM from IIT Bombay, and PISAT from BES University, Bengaluru, and its consortium. While PRATHAM’s objective is to estimate Total Electron Count, PISAT’s mission is to design and develop a nano-satellite for remote sensing applications.The foreign satellites on board the PSLV are ALSAT-1B, ALSAT-2B and ALSAT-1N (all from Algeria) and Pathfinder-1 and NLS-19, from the US and Canada, respectively.
In its longest-ever flight, the PSLV C-35, carrying India’s SCATSAT-1 meant for ocean and weather studies and seven other satellites including from the US and Canada, on Monday lifted off from the spaceport in Sriharikota.
The launch marked PSLV’s longest mission spread over two hours and it is the first time that the rocket is putting its payloads in two different orbits. The 44.4 metre tall PSLV rocket blasted off at 9.12am and 17 minutes later injected SCATSAT-1 in orbit.
“SCATSAT-1 has been successfully injected in orbit,” the Indian Space Research Organization said. The 371kg SCATSAT, the primary satellite meant for weather forecasting, cyclone detection and tracking, was first injected in a Polar Sunsynchronous Orbit (SSO) orbit while the seven others will be injected in a lower orbit after over two hours, the first time the rocket is putting its payloads in two different orbits.
The total weight of all the eight satellites onboard is about 675kg. Besides SCATSAT-1, the PSLV rocket is carrying two Indian university satellites, three from Algeria and one each from the US and Canada. SCATSAT-1 is a “continuity” mission for the Ku-band scatterometer payload carried by SCATSAT-1, which has enhanced features compared to a similar one carried by Oceansat-2 satellite in 2009.
The two academic satellites are PRATHAM, from IIT-Bombay, and PISAT, from BES University, Bengaluru and its consortium. While PRATHAM’s objective is to estimate Total Electron Count, PISAT’s mission is to design and develop a nanosatellite for remote sensing applications.
The foreign satellites onboard the PSLV are ALSAT-1B, ALSAT-2B and ALSAT-1N (all from Algeria) and Pathfinder-1 and NLS-19, from USA and Canada, respectively

India improves in Global Competitiveness Index

India improves in Global Competitiveness Index

India fastest riser, moves up 16 spots to 39th rank in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index
India’s ranking in the Global Competitiveness Index for 2016-17, released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), improved 16 places to 39, making it the fastest riser up the ranks among 138 countries surveyed.
India’s competitiveness improved across the board, particularly in goods market efficiency (60), business sophistication (35) and innovation (29). WEF said recent reform efforts by the government have concentrated on improving public institutions (up 16 places), opening the economy to foreign investors and international trade (up 4), and increasing transparency in the financial system (up 15).
India still needs to cover a lot of ground, the WEF said, citing labour market deficiencies, large, public enterprises that reduce economic efficiency, especially in the utilities sector and the financial market. Lack of infrastructure remains a critical bottleneck, the report said.

Competitiveness of the country has improved in goods market efficiency, and innovation.

India has risen rapidly among all countries in the global competitive stakes by climbing 16 notches to the 39th position during the past year in the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index.
According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest Global Competitiveness Report for 2016-17 this marks the biggest scale of improvement in competitiveness among all countries and is the second year in a row India has gone up 16 ranks in the WEF index.
It suggests that improvements in institutions and infrastructure have increased overall competitiveness along with recent reforms such as opening the economy to foreign investors and increasing transparency in the financial system.
Oil prices
India’s competitiveness has improved, particularly in goods market efficiency, business sophistication and innovation, while lower oil prices and improved monetary and fiscal policies have made the economy not only stable, but also the fastest growing among G20 countries, the report noted.
“Still, a lot needs to be done... huge challenges lie ahead on India’s path to prosperity,” the report added, stressing that despite significant improvements in infrastructure and social indicators such as health and education over the past decade, it lags other nations on such parameters.
According to executives polled for the report, India’s tax regulations, corruption, tax rates and poor public health are the most problematic factors for doing business.
Labour market
The report added that the labour market rigidities and the presence of large, public enterprises especially in the utilities and financial sector make the economy less efficient.
“The labour market is segmented between workers protected by rigid regulations and centralised wage determination, especially in the manufacturing sector, and millions of unprotected and informal workers. Lack of infrastructure and ICT use (where India is ranked 120th in the world) remain bottlenecks,” the report said, emphasising that progress in recent years has been slow and further investment is necessary to connect rural areas and ensure they equally benefit from and contribute to India’s development.
Digital India
While India is the only South Asian economy in the top half of the rankings, Sri Lanka surprisingly ranks ahead of it in ‘technological readiness’ — one of twelve pillars on which countries are rated.
“The country’s biggest relative weakness today is in technological readiness, where initiatives such as Digital India could lead to significant improvements,” the report said. The efficiency of the goods market in India has also deteriorated over the past decade, and the WEF reckons this would change once the GST regime is implemented.

21 September 2016

Wildlife panel clears first phase of Ken-Betwa project

Wildlife panel clears first phase of Ken-Betwa project

The Rs. 10,000-crore project will irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region but in the process will also submerge about 10 per cent of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, feted as a model tiger-conservation reserve.

India’s first interState river interlinking project was given a go-ahead by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) at a meeting chaired by Environment Minister Anil Madhav on August 23, according to a report that was made public on Tuesday. This would be the first time that a river project will be located within a tiger reserve.
The Rs. 10,000-crore Ken-Betwa project will irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region but in the process will also submerge about 10 per cent of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, feted as a model tiger-conservation reserve.
“I’m a staunch conservationist myself but life is a trade-off,” V.B. Mathur, a member of the NBWL and part of the wildlife clearance process, told The Hindu. “The project will bring water to one of India’s worst drought-affected regions and we’ve also insisted on an integrated wildlife management plan,” he said.
The main feature of the project is a 230-km long canal and a series of barrages and dams connecting the Ken and Betwa rivers that will irrigate 3.5 lakh hectares in Madhya Pradesh and 14,000 hectares of Uttar Pradesh, in Bundelkhand. The key projects are the Makodia and Dhaudhan dams, the latter expected to be 77 m high and responsible for submerging 5,803 hectares of tiger habitat in the Panna tiger reserve.
Villagers to be moved

Chhatarpur, Panna, Tikamgarh, Raisen, and Vidisha districts of Madhya Pradesh and Mahoba, Jhansi and Banda districts of Uttar Pradesh will benefited from assured irrigation supply, domestic and industrial water supply and power, said the project report of the Water Ministry. On the other hand, about 6,388 people in 10 villages will be affected due to the submergence by Daudhan reservoir and 13499 persons living in the 28 villages will be affected due to the submergence by Makodia reservoir and will have to be resettled. Seventeen lakh residents of nearby towns and villages in both States will benefit from improved drinking water and irrigation facilities, the report added.
According to the NBWL, 6,221 hectares — 4,141 of which is core forest and located inside the reserve — will be inundated when, and if, the proposed reservoir were filled to the brim. A key point of contention between wildlife experts associated with the impact assessment and dam proponents in the water resources ministry was whether the height of the Daudhan dam could be reduced to limit the water overflow and contain its subsequent impact.
The Water Ministry had refused saying this would compromise the economic viability of the project and the records of the August meeting suggest the wildlife experts were convinced. “We considered that point but calculations showed that reducing the height of the dam by even a few metres would compromise the heart of the project — irrigation benefits to the farmers — and make the cost much higher,” Mr. Mathur added.
There were also concerns that vulture and ghariyal habitat in the region would be affected. Here too, the committee noted, that only “3% of the vulture habitat” would be affected. “Only about once in five years do we expect the dam to be filled to capacity,” Raman Sukumar, ecologist at the IISc and part of the NBWL expert team told The Hindu, “But what we’ve insisted is that government buy private land (agricultural) in lieu of the forest land destroyed. This is to ensure that the tiger habitat doesn’t get fragmented due to the project.”
Mr. Sukumar wasn’t present in the final meeting that cleared the project but confirmed the habitat-loss figures in a phone conversation with The Hindu.
No new mining leases would be allowed in the delineated tiger dispersal routes and existing mining leases extended only “if concretely justified” and a proposed hydro-power project would now be located outside the reserve.


The race for leadership in supercomputers – does India stand a chance?

In June 2016, a significant and unusual event occurred in the world of supercomputing – the sector that specializes in very high speed computers that are used for applications such as weather forecasting and advanced weapons design. It was announced that the fastest supercomputer in the world was now the Sunway TaihuLight, a Chinese machine, which had performed at a speed of 93 petaflops – three times faster than the previous leader.1 Chinese supercomputers have been leading the field since 2011, but until now had depended to a large extent on key hardware components from American companies. What made the June 2016 event unusual was the announcement that, in a first for the industry, the Sunway TaihuLight was powered entirely by Chinese-designed and Chinese-manufactured processor chips. In other words, the new machine was evidence that China had mastered the entire computer engineering cycle, from conceptualization to detailed design and manufacture of individual semiconductor components. For the first time in the history of computing, the leadership at the cutting edge of a strategic technology – supercomputers – had passed from the United States to China.

Brief History of Supercomputing

To understand how this happened, and why countries like Japan, India, and many in the European Union have been overtaken by China, it is useful to understand the history of supercomputing, or High Performance Computing (HPC) as it is also referred to. The idea of HPC – specialized machines designed to operate at ever faster speeds to solve the most complex of real world problems – is universally credited to Seymour Cray, the legendary American computer designer. In 1964, the world’s first supercomputer, the Control Data Corporation CDC 6600, was designed and manufactured under Cray’s supervision and leadership. For almost the next 50 years, with a few exceptions, it was always a US-built supercomputer that set the trend.
Within that half century were contained two stages, or eras, in supercomputer development. The first era is usually referred to as the Monocomputer Era, and this lasted from around 1960 to 1995. The Monocomputer architecture utilized a single high speed processor accessing data stored in a single memory stack. Since this architecture was first developed by Seymour Cray and was used by all supercomputers in this era, the first era is also sometimes referred to as the Seymour Cray era of hardware.
In the early 1980s, a radically different approach began to be adopted. This new approach, or architecture, used the idea that many computers or processors operating in parallel could do the job faster than a single computer using the single processor Cray architecture. Thus began the Multicomputer Era, which overlapped with the first era starting around 1985, and is continuing till date. The Multicomputer era places far greater emphasis on the software that distributes the work between different processors, and is thus also sometimes referred to as the Multicomputer Era of the programmer.2
One very unusual feature of the early days of supercomputing was that developments took place entirely in the American private sector. It was only when the Europeans and the Japanese also started work on their own supercomputers that the US government began to take an active interest. Nevertheless, it was only in 1995 that the first formal US government policy – called the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative or ASCI – was announced. The European and Japanese initiatives, in contrast, were driven by their governments and universities.3
The chart below tabulates the progress of supercomputers through the two eras. On the X-axis is plotted the year of introduction of the captioned machines; and on the Y-axis the speed of each machine in Gigaflops, measured by the industry standard Linpack Benchmark. As the chart shows, speeds of supercomputers have been doubling every two years.

India’s Supercomputing Efforts

The supercomputer effort in India began in the late 1980s, when the US stopped the export of a Cray supercomputer because of continuing technology embargoes. In response, the Indian government set up the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) with the mission of building an indigenous supercomputer. In 1990, C-DAC unveiled the prototype of the PARAM 800, a multiprocessor machine, the first outcome of the new programme. PARAM was benchmarked at 5 Gflops, making it the second fastest supercomputer in the world at that time.

How China Achieved Dominance in Supercomputing

What, meanwhile, of China? Historical records show that China had developed an interest in HPC as early as the 1950s and 1960s. During the Mao era, even at the height of the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, and in spite of the removal of Soviet assistance after the Sino-Soviet split, the Chinese computer programme proceeded without let up. By the end of the 1960s, China was manufacturing its own integrated circuits and integrating them into indigenous third generation computers, making China in some respects even more advanced than the USSR.
In July 1972, barely four months after the epochal visit of US President Richard Nixon to China, a delegation of American computer scientists visited China at the invitation of the Chinese government, and spent three weeks with their Chinese counterparts. While they were suitably impressed by the strides made by the Chinese in mastering the technology, it was the perspective and objectives of the Chinese technology programme that really gave them pause.
The Chinese, it turned out, were not interested in the small and inexpensive “minicomputers” which were at that time taking the US and Europe by storm. What they were really interested in were the high speed machines such as the CDC Star, which were considered the state of the art in the early 1970s. It was evident to the American delegation that matching US capability in this area was a major objective of the Chinese. The delegation made this observation in the report they subsequently published in the journal Science.4
The Chinese interest in supercomputing thus seems to have been established very early and remained constant during the decades of political turmoil in the 1960s and 1970s. This interest was institutionalized very substantially in March 1986, when Deng Xiaoping initiated the famed ‘863’ programme to acquire parity with the US, and with the rest of the world, across a range of high technology sectors. For supercomputing to develop, a host of other industries and sectors had to develop as well, such as semiconductor manufacture, design of integrated circuits, expertise in the mining and refining of rare earths, etc. All of these were integrated well into the 863 programme.5
It took two decades for these efforts to bear fruit. In 2006, Chinese supercomputers entered the Top 500 list for the first time. At that point, India had eight supercomputers on the list, which was otherwise dominated almost entirely by the Americans, albeit with strong competition from the Japanese at the top of the list. 10 years later, in 2016, China leads the Top 500 list with 169 machines, including the Sunway TaihuLight, the world’s fastest at 93 petaflops as mentioned earlier. The US comes second, with 165 machines. Europe as a whole has about 110 machines, and Japan barely 40, although it is to the Japanese credit that the average speed of their supercomputers is the highest. India, unfortunately, has stayed nearly static with only nine systems in the Top 500 list.
Supercomputers are the second sector where China has established global leadership, the first being rare earths mining and refining, in which it holds a 95 per cent market share. But China’s growing dominance in the supercomputer sector displays capabilities that go well beyond the specialized mining and refining technologies that characterize the rare earths sector.

Prerequisites for Making the Fastest Supercomputer

Developing the world’s fastest supercomputer requires capabilities that start with pure science – specifically quantum physics and the electrodynamics of semiconductors. Allied with this is the requirement of a highly educated and competent cadre of computer scientists who understand the complexities of such abstract computer science concepts as the ‘theory of computation’ and are able to apply these concepts to developing efficient algorithms that can solve very complex real world problems. Building up a cadre of scientists with such specialized knowledge requires decades of effort, which the Chinese have systematically put in. This needs to be combined with the capacity to design Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) integrated circuits, including complex microprocessors that are as good as, if not better than, American products.6 A host of networking and connectivity technologies that enable large numbers of processors to operate efficiently in parallel – the Sunway has over 10 million parallel processors – need to be mastered for the design to even reach the prototype stage.
Many seemingly unconnected technologies are associated with supercomputers. For example, HPC machines consume enormous amounts of power – the Sunway alone consumes as much as 28 MW. It is to the credit of Chinese scientists that the home-grown processors used in the Sunway are actually three times as energy efficient as the nearest American equivalents. The physical design of the machine, including the cooling system, is itself a mechanical and metallurgical engineering challenge.
Finally, for supercomputers to be effective, they need to be loaded with a large suite of specialized software packages, ranging from operating systems that cater for the multiprocessor environment to the application suites capable of executing algorithms that help solve the truly complex real world problems such as weather forecasting, very big data analysis, biomedical modelling, and of course security-related applications such as cryptography, advanced aerospace engineering and weapon systems design.

Future Trends in Supercomputing

This raises the questions: Do countries like India stand a chance in this race? And, what can they do? The answers may lie in a careful analysis of future trends.
The Chinese mastery of the wide range of technologies positions them well for winning the next race in supercomputers, which is breaking the “exascale barrier”. In simple terms, this is the race to determine who first succeeds in constructing a supercomputer that is capable of a speed of one exaflop per second, or one thousand million Gigaflops, one Gigaflop itself being one thousand million floating point operations per second. There are four countries in the race – China, the US, France and Japan. China looks well set to win the race in the year 2018.7 France and Japan have both indicated that they would achieve the objective by 2020, and the US has conservatively indicated 2023. But the US has also stated that it expects to regain long term leadership.8
The exascale barrier is a landmark for supercomputers for reasons that go beyond the mere desire to be the first. Supercomputers operating at such incredible speeds will encounter a variety of barriers that previous generations of designers did not have to contend with. For example, the network and interconnectivity hardware that allows millions of processors to operate in parallel will have to speed up by an order of magnitude to accommodate exascale performance. Similarly, the cooling system will become a central design constraint – a statement that supercomputer engineers are wont to make is that future HPC machines may need their own independent nuclear reactor for power supply and cooling!

What India Needs to Do

All this brings back into focus the need for innovation. One outstanding feature of the supercomputer sector is that innovation is always taking place across the entire cycle, from new theories of computation to the design of chips and to new forms of software. Unlike other sectors which stabilize based on commercial considerations sooner or later, the innovation pot is always boiling over in the case of supercomputers. This is both a daunting barrier and an exciting opportunity for countries like India. There are several imperatives if India is to regain some measure of competitiveness in this strategically vital sector.
First, India must move away from the perspective which it has allowed to dominate, namely, that the application of supercomputers is more important than supercomputer technologies themselves. In this perspective, it does not matter whether an HPC machine is indigenous or imported, as long as it is usefully applied. This perspective ignores the strategic importance of supercomputers and the abundant evidence that all major countries view these technologies as critical.
Second, India must understand that it is possible to start from the current state of the art itself. There is no need to entirely retrace the path already taken by China and the other countries. Using technological expertise that is available with the global network of Indian and Indian-origin scientists and engineers, it is possible to start from a baseline which is already advanced. In addition, the software skills and personnel base that India has built up in the public and private sectors can be effectively leveraged to propel innovation on the software components of supercomputer technology.
Third, India has to understand that supercomputer research always requires fundamental research into the next stages of computing. Thus, going beyond the exascale barrier might require new approaches that are right now only in the theoretical stage – quantum computing, for example, has been only spoken about in research forums, but may well turn out to be the basis of the next leap forward. The time frames required to operationalize and commercialize nascent technologies are shrinking, and this is something that needs to be factored into the Indian approach.
Fourth, India should set itself clear objectives of what it wants to achieve in this strategically significant sector. The Chinese perspective is telling – over 50 years ago, China set itself the clear objective of parity with the United States. While the setting up of the National Supercomputer Mission in 20159 is a laudable first step, it needs to be followed up by the identification of clear objectives and allocation of adequate resources. Within a Mission perspective, it should be possible to cut down bureaucratic red tape and allow scientists and engineers to take bold and radical steps without fear of reprisal.
Finally, it needs to be appreciated that supercomputers are strategic in the most important sense, namely, the creation of an ecosystem that extends well beyond the boundaries of science and technology and has the capacity to transform the country. A strong supercomputer sector leads to capability in a variety of other fields, from semiconductor manufacturing and precision engineering to optimal strategies for agricultural production, urban planning and the like. All this would be in addition to the national security related applications where India cannot afford to be dependent on foreign expertise. Building up capability in this sector requires active government leadership to catalyse the establishment of a vibrant academic infrastructure where research at the frontiers of physics and material sciences, computational mathematics and computer science are encouraged, to establish strong partnerships with industry for technology transfer and commercial exploitation, and finally to create widespread awareness of the possibilities and potential of supercomputers. In the more advanced countries, using supercomputer resources has become routine for a large and increasing percentage of Fortune 500 companies. In China, the Sunway TaihuLight installation is intended to function as a public service, with access available to all. It may be simpler for India to catch up with these countries than is commonly imagined. What is required are bold decisions that aim at reaching comparative parity within the next decade.

Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Warheads and India’s Nuclear Doctrine

Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Warheads and India’s Nuclear Doctrine

In an endeavour to preserve strategic stability, India, a reluctant nuclear power, has demonstrated immense restraint despite grave incitement from Pakistan. In stark contrast, ever since it became a nuclear-armed state, Pakistan’s behaviour has been marked by brinkmanship, with provocation bordering on actions that could lead to large-scale conventional conflict with nuclear overtones. Recent developments in Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal have been of the same destabilising pattern.
As part of its quest for ‘full spectrum deterrence’, Pakistan has developed the Hatf-9 (Nasr) short-range ballistic missile (SRBM). Pakistan claims the Hatf-9 is equipped with a tactical nuclear warhead (TNW) and is intended for battlefield use as a weapon of warfighting. The Pakistan Army appears to believe that a few TNWs can stop the advance of Indian forces across the International Boundary (IB) into Pakistan. By employing TNWs on the battlefield, the Pakistan Army hopes to checkmate India’s ‘Proactive Offensive Operations’ doctrine, which is colloquially called the ‘Cold Start’ doctrine.
This brief analyses the efficacy of TNWs as weapons of warfighting. It examines the likely impact of its use by Pakistan on the columns of the Indian Army advancing across the IB and, consequently, on India’s nuclear doctrine.

Major Shortcomings of TNWs

The term TNW is a misnomer as the employment of nuclear weapons on the battlefield will have a strategic impact and geo-strategic repercussions. A more appropriate term for these low-yield short-range weapons would be ‘nuclear weapons designed for battlefield use’. As a class of weapons, TNWs are extremely costly and complex to manufacture and also difficult to transport, store and maintain under field conditions due to their intricate electronic components. As missiles capped with TNWs may be required to be fired at short notice, the nuclear warheads have to be kept in a fully assembled state and ‘mated’ with the missile. Due to the short range of SRBMs – Hatf-9 has a maximum range of 60 km – the authority to fire has to be delegated at an early stage in the battle.
These two factors lead to the dilution of centralised control and create a proclivity to ‘use them or lose them’. TNWs are also vulnerable to battlefield accidents and are susceptible to unauthorised use, or what Henry Kissinger had called the ‘Mad Major Syndrome’. SRBMs are normally dual-use missiles and, as these have to be forward deployed because of their short range, they are likely to be targeted during war with conventional missiles, by fighter-ground attack (FGA) aircraft on search-and-destroy missions and, in the case of Hatf-9, by long-range artillery. This could lead in rare cases to sympathetic detonation of a nuclear warhead resulting in unintended consequences, especially if one-point safety capability is not the norm. Together, all of these disadvantages lower the threshold of nuclear use and make TNWs a dangerous class of weapons.
While the Nasr SRBM is technically capable of being capped with a nuclear warhead, whether this has actually been done is not known in the public domain. The warhead is likely to be based on a linear implosion plutonium design and is likely to have been cold tested. Pakistan’s plutonium stocks are limited. The four Khushab reactors can together produce plutonium that is sufficient for only 10-12 nuclear warheads per year. Considering the low level of damage that TNWs cause, the decision on how much of the plutonium stock should be allocated for TNWs vis-à-vis strategic warheads would be a difficult one to make. Hence, it maybe deduced that Pakistan is unlikely to have a large stockpile of TNWs in its nuclear arsenal.
As evident from the experience of the NATO-Warsaw Pact of the Cold War, the term ‘limited nuclear exchanges’ is an oxymoron. Nuclear exchanges cannot be kept limited and are guaranteed to escalate rapidly to full-fledged nuclear war with strategic warheads designed to destroy large cities and cause hundreds of thousands of casualties. Hence, India has very correctly refrained from adding the TNW class of weapons to its nuclear arsenal. As TNWs lower the nuclear threshold and are, therefore, inherently destabilising, it is necessary that international pressure be brought to bear on Pakistan to eliminate these weapons from its nuclear arsenal.

Strategic Stability

Strategic stability is a product of deterrence stability, crisis stability and arms race stability in the context of a hostile political relationship between two nations. In the South Asian context, the hostile political relationship stems from the unresolved territorial dispute over Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) with an active Line of Control (LoC). The state of strategic stability in South Asia has for long been a cause of concern for the international community. Pakistan’s proxy war against India is now in its third decade despite several peace overtures made by India. Waged primarily by Pakistan’s ‘deep state’ – the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – through terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Jaish-e Mohammad (JeM) and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), it is showing no signs of tapering off. In fact, the unrest in Kashmir Valley in the summer of 2016, terrorist strikes at Udhampur, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Pampore and the interception of infiltration attempts across the LoC once again indicate an increase in the intensity of the proxy war.
Despite grave provocation, including the terrorist strikes at Mumbai in November 2008, India has shown immense strategic restraint and has limited its counter-insurgency operations on its own side of the LoC in J&K. Another ‘major’ terrorist strike sponsored by the Pakistani ‘deep state’– on a sensitive target, causing large-scale casualties and extensive damage to critical military or civilian infrastructure –is likely to result in Indian military retaliation against the Pakistan Army and its organs with a view to raise the cost of waging a proxy war.
Pakistan’s ‘first use’ doctrine, quest for ‘full spectrum deterrence’, development of TNWs as weapons of warfighting, army’s control over nuclear decision making and the risk of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the jihadis are all potential threats to regional stability. Pakistan views India’s ‘Cold Start’ doctrine as being de-stabilising. Overall, the state of relations between the two countries may be described as ‘ugly stability’, a term coined by Ashley Tellis in the mid-1990s. It is at best a tenuous stability that could evaporate very quickly in the face of a prolonged crisis.

Possibility of Limited War

As per the Indian conventional wisdom, there is space for limited war below the nuclear threshold. Though Indian military retaliation to a major terrorist strike would be carefully calibrated to avoid threatening Pakistan’s nuclear red lines, under certain circumstances the exchanges could escalate into a war in the plains. For example, Pakistan may launch pre-emptive offensive operations across the IB, including strikes on Indian air bases or naval assets. Such a response from Pakistan will force India to launch counter-offensive operations with a view to destroying as much as possible of Pakistan’s war waging capabilities and, in the process, simultaneously capturing a limited amount of territory as a bargaining counter. The capture of territory is unlikely to be a primary aim as territories captured across the IB will have to be returned.
The Pakistan Army seeks to convince India that it has a low nuclear threshold and that its nuclear red lines are fairly close to the IB. The proximity of nuclear red lines to the IB would vary from sector to sector and would be a matter of careful assessment based on intelligence inputs. In keeping with its behaviour as a responsible nuclear power, India would like to keep the scale and the intensity of the conflict low so as not to threaten Pakistan’s nuclear red lines. However, if Pakistan’s defensive operations do not proceed as planned and it perceives the ‘space’ red line as threatened at one or more places, the Pakistan Army may deem it necessary to use TNWs on its own soil to contest India’s offensive operations, in keeping with its clearly stated intention to do so.
Pakistani analysts (senior retired armed forces officers as well as diplomats and academics) appear convinced that no Indian prime minister will authorise massive retaliation with nuclear weapons if Pakistan uses ‘a few’ TNWs against Indian forces on its own soil – on the grounds that such use does not constitute ‘first use’ for India. Presumably, a similar belief is held by Pakistan’s senior commanders who are in positions of authority in the nuclear chain of command. Such a belief, though falsely held, lowers the threshold of use of nuclear warheads as weapons of warfighting. Also, though such a belief questions the credibility of India’s doctrine of massive retaliation, it does not address the issue of the consequences that Pakistan will suffer in a contingency where the Indian prime minister, heading the Political Council of the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA), actually approves massive retaliation. Deterrence is ultimately a mind game.

Efficacy of TNWs as Weapons of Warfighting

Given the low casualty rates and minimal material damage if TNWs are employed on the battlefield against mechanised forces, the Pakistan Army’s faith in their ability to bring Indian offensive operations to a grinding halt is questionable. Simple calculations on the efficacy of TNWs against a mechanised combat group (roughly comprising an armoured regiment and a company of mechanised infantry) advancing in desert or semi-desert terrain are revealing. The combat group (60 armoured fighting vehicles – AFVs) would normally advance with two combat teams forward over a frontage of 10-12 km and depth of 8-10 km. In a nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) environment, AFVs generally move forward in buttoned-down condition (cupolas closed, full NBC protection). A reasonable assumption would be that the civilian population of the sector in which TNWs are intended to be employed would have been evacuated.
If a nuclear warhead of 8-10 kt is detonated over a combat group (low air burst explosion, with the ground zero close to the centre), the initial casualties would be in the range of 20-30 personnel killed or wounded and 10-12 AFVs destroyed or damaged. While the leading combat group would need to regroup (undertake casualty evacuation, repair and recovery and decontamination), the reserve combat group of the combat command/ armoured brigade could resume the advance in six to eight hours. In the case of an Indian bridge head across a water obstacle being hit, the casualties would be a hundred times greater, but in a bridge head the adversary’s troops would be in contact with Indian troops and, hence, a bridge head is a much less likely target.1
By employing TNWs against the Indian forces, even if Pakistan does it on its own soil, the Pakistan Army would have broken the nuclear taboo without achieving anything substantive by way of influencing the course of an ongoing military operation. In the process, it would risk the destruction of its major cities and strategic reserves as well as nuclear forces should India choose to retaliate massively. The leadership of the Pakistan Army must also have done these calculations. Therefore, their advocacy of the Indian disinclination to retaliate massively in response to their use of TNWs on their own soil indicates either a flawed analysis or a bluff that the Indian armed forces would be inclined to call.

Doctrinal Challenges

During a crisis, if deterrence breaks down, the essence of nuclear strategy would lie in minimising civilian and military casualties and material damage and preventing escalation, while ensuring the survival of the state. If Pakistan detonates TNWs on Indian forces on its own soil, the major options available to India are:
  • A massive retaliation to inflict unacceptable damage, in keeping with India’s stated doctrine. The adoption of this option would very seriously threaten to cripple Pakistan as a functional nation state.
  • A flexible response (quid pro quo or quid pro quo plus response) in order to minimise the probability of further nuclear exchanges and keep the level of casualties and destruction as low as possible. For example, in retaliation for the use of two 8-10 kt warheads against the Indian forces on the Pakistani soil, India may employ four or five or even six nuclear warheads to target Pakistan’s strategic reserves and nuclear forces, while ensuring that only those forces are attacked which are well away from civilian population centres.
  • Refraining from retaliating with nuclear weapons, but warn Pakistan of dire consequences if any more nuclear strikes are launched and increase the scale and the intensity of conventional offensive operations. (This is the least likely option and is not discussed further.)
Once deterrence breaks down, a publicly declared doctrine becomes irrelevant. In such a scenario, the political council of the NCA will have to decide as to how to retaliate based on the advice given by the executive council, of which the three services chiefs are members. The method and the mode of retaliation will be based on the prevailing operational-strategic situation and the likely reactions of the Pakistani armed forces, especially the probability of further nuclear exchanges. The assessment will also include the likely reactions of the international community – the threats held out, the appeals made and the course of the discussions at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
India’s nuclear doctrine clearly states that “nuclear weapons will only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere.” This debunks the Pakistan Army’s belief that its use of TNWs against Indian forces on its own soil will not constitute ‘first use’. A widely held belief among members of the Indian strategic community is even if the Pakistan Army employs TNWs against the Indian forces on the Pakistani soil, the most appropriate option will be massive retaliation to inflict unacceptable damage on Pakistan.
Though such a decision will not be made lightly, from the Indian point of view, massive retaliation is the only suitable option as anything else will run the risk of lowering the nuclear threshold and encouraging the Pakistan Army to continue to bank on the early use of TNWs to counter operational reverses. Also, breaking the nuclear taboo would be considered unacceptable and flexible response would run the risk of continued and repeated nuclear strikes. A decision to approve massive retaliation would be far easier to reach in case Pakistan uses TNWs against the Indian forces, but on the Indian soil.

Recommendations for Change in India’s Nuclear Doctrine

As 12 years have passed since India’s nuclear doctrine was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in January 2003, and many new developments have since taken place, a review of the doctrine is necessary. In fact, a review should be carried out every 10 years. Recommendations for continuity in some provisions and changes in other provisions of India’s nuclear doctrine are given below:
India’s nuclear doctrine premised on ‘credible minimum deterrence’ and posture of ‘no first use’ has stood the test of time and no change is necessary.
India’s declaratory strategy is that of ‘massive retaliation’ to a nuclear first strike and is ‘designed to inflict unacceptable damage’. This was enunciated in the statement issued by the Government of India on January 04, 2003, after the CCS had reviewed the progress in the operationalisation of India’s nuclear deterrence.
Ideally, the retaliatory strategy should have been that of ‘flexible response’ that results in ‘punitive retaliation… to inflict unacceptable damage’, as envisaged in the Draft Nuclear Doctrine of August 17, 1999, prepared by the first National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) headed by K.Subrahmanyam. However, as the strategy of ‘massive retaliation’ is a viable deterrence strategy that has served India well, no change is recommended. It would work well even in a contingency where the Pakistani planners may consider using TNWs against the Indian forces on the Pakistani soil as they cannot possibly risk massive Indian retaliation.
The credibility of massive retaliation needs to be enhanced through a carefully formulated signalling plan. Signalling should be based on an elaborate plan designed to showcase the preparedness of India’s nuclear forces and the firmness of its political will. For example, information about regular meetings of both the political and the executive council of the NCA should be made public (without disclosing the agenda).
India’s nuclear doctrine states that India will retaliate with nuclear weapons in case chemical or biological weapons are used against India. This is neither credible nor desirable as chemical or biological weapons may be used by non-state actors or by a state through proxy non-state actors with easy deniability. In either case, it would not be appropriate to retaliate with nuclear warheads. Hence, this formulation should be dropped from the nuclear doctrine.
Despite its costs and the risk of endangering arms race stability, ballistic missile defence (BMD) provides major advantages to a nation that follows a ‘no first use’ strategy. The government should consider sanctioning a phased BMD project to protect major cities and strategic forces
As TNWs are extremely destabilising, Indian diplomacy should ensure that international pressure is brought to bear on Pakistan to eliminate TNWs from its nuclear arsenal. A sustained campaign needs to be mounted by strategic analysts, scholars and academics to apprise the policy community and the public of the risks associated with TNWs.
It is in India’s interest to discuss nuclear confidence building measures (CBMs) and nuclear risk reduction measures (NRRMs) with Pakistan in greater depth than has been the case till now. Back channel diplomacy can also play a useful role in promoting confidence and reducing the risk of inadvertent escalation to nuclear exchanges.


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