Friday, May 22, 2015

Why Narendra Modi Matters Time Magazine Cover

On May 2, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sat down for an exclusive two-hour interview with TIME editor Nancy Gibbs, Asia editor Zoher Abdoolcarim and South Asia bureau chief Nikhil Kumar in New Delhi. Speaking mostly in Hindi, Modi talked about everything from his ambitions for India to the global war on terrorism to what personally moves him. Translated and condensed highlights, followed by the full interview:
On what he has learned so far about ­running India: The biggest challenge was that I was new to the federal government structures. Different departments tend to work in silos—each department seems to [be] a government in itself. My effort has been to break these silos down, [so that] everybody … looks at a problem in a collective manner. I see the federal government not as an assembled entity but as an organic entity.

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On how he sees the U.S.: We are natural allies … [It’s not] what India can do for the U.S., what the U.S. can do for India … The way we should look at it is what India and the U.S. can together do for the world … strengthening democratic values all over.
On India’s sometimes tense relations with China: For nearly three decades there has been, by and large, peace and tranquillity on the India-China border. Not a single bullet has been fired for over a quarter-century. Both countries are showing great maturity and a commitment to economic cooperation.
On the possibility of the Taliban’s returning to power in Afghanistan: The drawdown of U.S. troops is, of course, an independent decision of the American government, but in the interest of a stable government in Afghanistan, it would be important to hold consultations with the Afghan government to understand their security needs as the U.S. troops draw down.
On tackling the threat of terrorism: We should not look at terrorism from the nameplates—­which group they belong to, what is their geographical location, who are the victims. These individual groups or names will keep changing. Today you are looking at the Taliban or ISIS; tomorrow you might be looking at another name.
We should pass the U.N.’s Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. At least it will clearly establish whom you view as a terrorist and whom you don’t. We need to delink terrorism from religion—to isolate terrorists who use this interchange of arguments between terrorism and religion.
Several countries used to see terrorism as a law-and-order situation of individual countries. We should see it as something that is a fight for human values.
On whether economic reforms have gone far and fast enough: [This time] last year, nothing seemed to be happening in the government. There seemed to be a complete policy paralysis … There was no leadership. My government’s coming to power should be viewed in the context of the developments of the 10 years of the last government vs. 10 months of my government … The whole world is, once again, excited and enthusiastic about India and the opportunities that India represents. Whether it is the IMF, the World Bank, Moody’s or other credit agencies, they are all saying in one voice that India has a great economic future.
On whether he would like to have the kind of authoritarian power that China’s leader has: India is a democracy; it is in our DNA. As far as the different political parties are concerned, I firmly believe that they have the maturity and wisdom to make decisions that are in the best interests of the nation. So if you were to ask me whether you need a dictatorship to run India, No, you do not. Whether you need a powerful person who believes in concentrating power, No, you do not. If you were to ask me to choose between democratic values and wealth, power, prosperity and fame, I will very easily and without any doubt choose democratic values.
On India’s religious diversity, which some citizens believe is under siege: My philosophy, the philosophy of my party and the philosophy of my government is Sabka saath, sabka vikas—“Together with all, progress for all.” Take everybody together and move toward inclusive growth. Wherever a [negative] view might have been expressed [about] a minority religion, we have immediately negated that. So far as the government is concerned, there is ­only one holy book, which is the constitution of India. The unity and the integrity of the country are the topmost priorities. All religions and all communities have the same rights, and it is my responsibility to ensure their complete and total protection. My government will not tolerate or accept any discrimination based on caste, creed and religion.
On what influences him: [Chokes and tears up.] This touches my deepest core. I was born in a very poor family. I used to sell tea in a railway coach as a child. My mother used to wash utensils and do lowly household work in the houses of others to earn a livelihood. I have seen poverty very closely. I have lived in poverty. As a child, my entire childhood was steeped in poverty. For me, poverty, in a way, was the first inspiration of my life … I decided that I would not live for myself but would live for others.
Read the full interview:
Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi: Welcome to India, first of all. This is your first visit to India and I am delighted that on your very first visit we have a chance to meet. I hope this opportunity, this visit of yours, will also provide you an occasion to return to India more often.
TIME: Thank you, we hope so as well. I should start by wishing you a happy anniversary. It is almost one year now in office. So, I am curious about what has surprised you most. You often talked about being an outsider. Now that you are the ultimate insider, what have you seen about the strengths and the opportunities and the obstacles that you face in the program that you are hoping to pursue?
Modi: For more than forty years now, I have had an opportunity and chance to travel all across India. There would perhaps be more than 400 districts of India where I have spent a night. So I am fully aware of the strengths of India, I am fully aware of the challenges that we face, I am not unaware of them. What was relatively new to me was the Federal government structures, the systems, the way we operate at the Federal level. That was a part which I was not aware of till I entered the government here.
<b>1942:</b> The US held loose relations with "The British Raj" before Indian independence. Yet the Western nation did maintain an Airfield base in Dinjan,India during this time. (Photo by Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

<b>1949:</b> Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru takes his first trip to the US and meets with President Harry S. Truman in Washington, Oct. 11, 1949.

<b>1959:</b> US President Dwight D. Eisenhower makes the first official state visit to India’, joining Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru at the Taj Mahal at Agra, India on Dec. 13, 1959.

<b>1962:</b> The Kennedy Administration openly supported India during the Sino-Indian War. The US Air Force flew in arms and aid to Indian troops on the Chinese border, Nov. 1, 1962.

Ivan Dmitri—Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
1942: The US held loose relations with "The British Raj" before Indian independence. Yet the Western nation did maintain an Airfield base in Dinjan,India during this time. (Photo by Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The biggest challenge I think was that I was new to the Federal government structures. They were new to me, I was new to them, so there was a question of understanding each other’s perspective. But within a very short time I have bridged the gap through very focused and concentrated actions. There is now a meeting of minds. I understand them very well, they understand me very well. Because of that, within a very short period of time, we have been able to establish a smooth, seamless working mechanism within the Federal structure.
I was Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat for a long period of time. I knew very well what the Central government thought about the States of India and what State governments thought of the Federal government. I wanted to change this thought process, the fundamental thought process as to how the Federal Government and the State governments perceive each other. I wanted the Federal Government and the State Governments to work together for the country. I basically wanted to bring about a complete change in the thinking that Federal government is a giver to the State government, and the State government is a recipient of the largesse from the Federal government. And I think within a very short period of time, I have managed to achieve that objective to a very large extent.
I coined a term for that, which I call cooperative Federalism. I took it actually a step further and called it cooperative competitive Federalism. Essentially the concept is that it would encourage different State governments to compete with each other for the growth of the country. What essentially I have tried to do, and I think we have managed to do that, is to convert the country from a single-pillar growth nation to a nation that has 30 pillars of growth; these are the 29 States of India and the Federal centre.
Similarly, it was my experience after I entered the Federal government that different departments of the Government of India tend to work in silos. Each department seems to work as a Government in itself. The reason for that is that for the last three decades, there has not been a majority government at the Federal level; there have essentially been coalition governments, which has had a major impact on the government systems which created silos. My effort has been to ensure that these silos get broken down, that there is a collective thought process which is brought about in the Federal government. And I think we have managed to achieve that in a short period of time wherein everybody thinks together as a collective, everybody works together. And also it has invigorated the administrative system of the Federal government which looks at a problem in a collective manner rather than as individual silos.
I see the Federal government not as an assembled entity but as an organic entity so that each one understands the problems of the other and can collectively work together to address those problems.
TIME: Moving on to the US, the US-India relationship, President Obama has spoken very highly of you including on the Time 100 very recently. As you go transforming India, transforming the government as you say, how do you think the US should see you – as a partner, as an economic competitor? Would “Make in India” for example mean that jobs from the US would come here? So, the debate that we had on the service sector, would that not switch to manufacturing sector? How should the US see you?
Modi: I am extremely grateful to President Obama for the thoughtful and generous manner in which he has described me. What he has written in TIME magazine recently, I am also very grateful to him.
If I have to describe the India-US relationship in a single word, I will say we are natural allies. I think the relationship between India and US, and the two countries in themselves, have played an enormously important role and continue to play an important role in strengthening democratic values all over the world.
What should the India-US relationship be, what India can do for the US, what the US can do for India, I think that is a rather limited point of view to take. I think the way we should look at it is what India and the US can together do for the world. That is the perspective in which we approach our relationship with the United States.
TIME: You have visited 16 countries already in this year. Who would you say are your other natural allies?
Modi: I think this is an expected question from a journalistic point of view! I think each country has its own importance and each relationship has to be viewed in its own perspective. There are several countries of the world with which India has strategic partnerships. There are several other countries with which we have a relationship that is comprehensive in some other respects. There are some which are perhaps born to be there as natural allies, but there are still gaps to be covered in order for us to become natural allies. So I think it is important for us to see each relationship in an overall perspective and also how India approaches that relationship with each country.
If you look at the India-US relationship for example, the role that the Indian diaspora has played in the relationship is extremely crucial. Yes, we share democratic values but there is also the great role that the Indian diaspora has played in strengthening the bond of friendship between India and the US, and of course in underscoring the democratic values between the two countries.
Also our worldview… in addition to our shared democratic values, there are convergences in our worldview on different situations in the world. So, if I were to describe the relationship with other countries, I would say that each relationship of India with other countries has to be seen in a context and a perspective that is different from each other.
TIME: Prime Minister, you will be visiting China very soon. China is increasingly assertive and influential on the world stage including in the South Asia region. China and India have fought a border war before, and sometimes the relationship, the atmosphere can be tense. With your visit to China and your meeting with China’s leaders, what kind of relationship do you want to forge with China? Do you think you can do business with China’s leaders? Can India and China ever be friends?
Modi: After the India-China war in 1962, in the early 90s, India and China agreed on a framework for peace and tranquillity on the border. Further, since nearly last three decades until this time that we have entered into the 21stcentury, there is by and large peace and tranquillity on the India-China border. It is not a volatile border. Not a single bullet has been fired for over a quarter of a century now. This essentially goes to prove that both countries have learnt from history.
In so far as the India-China relationship is concerned specifically, it is true that there is a long border between India and China and a large part of it is disputed. Still, I think both countries have shown great maturity in the last couple of decades to ensure and commit to economic cooperation which has continued to grow over the last 20 to 30 years to a stage where we currently have an extensive trade, investment and project related engagement between the two countries. Given the current economic situation in the world, we are at a stage where we cooperate with China at the international stage but we also compete with China when it comes to commerce and trade.
You referred to the increase in Chinese influence in the region and in the world. I firmly believe that there is not a single country in the world, whether its population is one million or much more, which would not want to increase its influence internationally. I think it is a very natural tendency for the nations to increase their influence in the international space, as they pursue their international relations with different countries. I firmly believe that with due regard to international rules and regulations, and with full respect for human values, I think with these two perspectives in mind each country has the right to increase its presence, its impact and influence internationally for the benefit of the global community.
TIME: I just wanted to ask a follow-up question. On the eve of your visit to China, would you wish to send a special message to President Xi? Would you like to say something to him on the eve of your visit?
Modi: I firmly believe that the relationship between two countries, the India-China relationship as you are referring to, should be such that to communicate with each other there should really not be a need for us to go through a third entity. That is the level of relationship that we currently have.
TIME: The US is gradually drawing down its forces in Afghanistan. I am wondering whether you worry about the Taliban returning to power, and about the threat from ISIS and how you see that.
Modi: There are two different perspectives to the question that you asked and I would try and answer each of those two separately. The first refers to the India-Afghanistan relationship. It is well known that India and Afghanistan have enjoyed ancient ties and a very close relationship. People talk of infrastructure development these days. But if you go back in history, you’ll see that one of the former kings in the region Sher Shah Suri is the one who built the Kolkata-Kabul Grand Trunk Road.
The closeness of the India-Afghanistan relationship is not a new phenomenon. It has existed since time immemorial. And as a close friend, ever since India’s Independence, we have done and will continue to do whatever is required to be done to see Afghanistan grow and progress as a close friend.
President Ashraf Ghani was here last week. We had a good meeting and extensive discussions. One of the key points of discussions was the roadmap for development and progress in Afghanistan. We have in the past committed extensively to that. In fact, India’s assistance to Afghanistan is close to about 2.2 billion dollars for reconstruction and development. We have made further commitments to do whatever is required to be done for Afghanistan’s development. And not only have we made commitments, we are also taking concrete and specific steps to implement those commitments.
In so far as the drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan is concerned, this is a point on which I had extensive discussions with President Obama when I visited the US in September last year. I mentioned to him that the drawdown of troops is of course an independent decision of the American government, but in the interest of a stable government in Afghanistan, it would be important to hold consultations with the Afghan Government to understand their security needs as the US troops draw down. And I did mention to him that we should all try to meet the security needs of Afghanistan post drawdown of American troops. Rest of course is a decision that is for the US Government to take. But our interest is in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan; and whatever is required to be done for that, we will do that.
In so far as the Taliban and the ISIS issue which you referred to is concerned, I firmly believe that there is a need for the international community to undertake a detailed introspection of the overall perspective, the way they have looked at terrorism internationally. Till 1993, for example, there were several countries that did not fully understand the full force of this evil. They used to see it and they used to appreciate it purely as a law and order situation of individual countries rather than as an evil force internationally.
If you actually analyze the situation closely, what is needed perhaps is for the countries that believe in human values to come together and fight terrorism. We should not look at terrorism from the nameplates – which group they belong to, what are their names, what is their geographical location, who are the victims of terrorism…I think we should not see them in individual pieces. We should rather have a comprehensive look at the ideology of terrorism, see it as something that is a fight for human values, as terrorists are fighting against humanity.
So, all the countries that believe in human values need to come together and fight this evil force as an ideological force, and look at it comprehensively rather than looking at it as Taliban, ISIS, or individual groups or names. These individual groups or names will keep changing. Today you are looking at the Taliban or ISIS; tomorrow you might be looking at another name down the years. So it is important for the countries to go beyond the groups, beyond the individual names, beyond the geographical location they come from, beyond even looking at the victims of the terrorism, and fight terrorism as a unified force and as a collective.
TIME: So, what would we do differently if that coming together happened, if we looked at this threat more in the way you are describing; what would change in the way the threat is addressed?
Modi: I think as a first step what the international community can definitely look at is passing the United Nations Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism which has been with the United Nations for the last several years. I think that could be the first step for us to take. At least it will clearly establish who you view as terrorist and who you do not view as terrorist. The definitional aspects of terrorism will get addressed.
The second thing which is important to do is not to analyze or look at terrorism from a purely political perspective but also view it from the perspective of the way it attacks human values, as a force against humanity, the point that I made earlier on. If you view terrorism in Syria from one perspective and terrorism outside Syria from another perspective, it can create problems. If you view terrorism in categories such as good terrorism and bad terrorism, that too can create its own challenges. Similarly, if you view Taliban as good Taliban or bad Taliban, that creates its own problems.
I think we should not look at these questions individually. We should address this problem in one voice, not in segmented voices – something which diffuses the international focus when it comes to the problem of terrorism. I believe that this can be easily done.
I think the other thing that we need to undertake as a focused measure is to delink terrorism from religion. When I met President Obama both in September last year and in January this year, in September last year particularly, I did request him to lead the charge in delinking terrorism from religion. I think if we are able to achieve this and if we go down this path, it would at least put an end to the emotional blackmailing which is inherent in this particular concept. It would also help us additionally to isolate the terrorists completely who tend to use this interchange of arguments between terrorism and religion.
Another aspect which is important in our collective fight against terrorism is the question relating to the communication technology, the communication methodology that the terrorists use, and the modes of financing. Terrorists are linked to money laundering, dirty money, drug dealing, arms trafficking. We have to ask ourselves, where do terrorists get their weapons from? Where do they get their communication technology from? Where do they get their financing from? These are some of the aspects where I think the entire international community needs to come together and put a complete stop to access to these three key aspects by the terrorists which assist them in terms of easy access to communication, finance and weapons.
If we pass the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and if we take the steps that I have just listed out, it will help the international community, help all of us to isolate those countries that stand in support of terrorism.
TIME: Prime Minister, you were mentioning about delinking terrorism from religion. You mentioned Taliban, you mentioned ISIS. The other two groups that are creating a lot of headlines worldwide with their activities are Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab in Africa. All of them claim to be doing what they are doing on behalf of Islam. Do you think that the Islamic world, Islam’s world leaders should be doing more in their own communities to moderate those who are radicals, to do more on the education front and to cooperate more to fight these?
Modi: When the initial question was asked there was reference to Taliban and ISIS. That is why when I framed my reply and I started my response, I basically prefaced it by saying that we have to look beyond individual groups. I did not respond specifically to the Taliban or to ISIS, but I responded to the need for the international community to look at this problem from a larger perspective and not from the individual perspectives of the nameplates or the groups that I referred to.
I think terrorism is a thought process. It is a thought process that is a great threat to the international community. I am also not linking it to any particular religion or to the actions of religious leaders. I think it is something that, as I mentioned, the countries that believe in human values need to come together and fight as a collective and not looking at individual groups from the perspective of individual religions.
TIME: If I could go back to two things that you said earlier, Prime Minister, you said that every country tries to increase its influence, sphere of influence. Sometimes that is obviously not very positive. One was what the US and India can both do together in the world. But one thing that the US is doing right now is trying to counter Russia’s influence in Ukraine. Do you support international sanctions against Russia?
Modi: This issue was raised in the G20 Summit. President Obama was present there, President Putin was present there, and I presented my viewpoint in the presence of both the Presidents. My view was that there are United Nations guidelines, there are provisions in the United Nations; and I think whatever is agreed within the framework of United Nations, the international community should follow it.
TIME: Another big international issue that is coming up is the Paris Climate Summit later this year. Will India specify a peak for its emission, a cap on its emission?
Modi: In the entire world, if you analyse very closely the cultural and the civilizational history of different countries, particularly looking at the lifestyle which they have followed over decades and centuries of their history, you will find that this part of the world, India in particular, has advocated and pursued economic growth in coexistence, in close bonding, with Nature for thousands of years of its history. In this part of the world, in Indian civilization in particular, the principle value is that exploitation of Nature is a crime, and we should only draw from Nature what is absolutely essential for your needs and not exploit it beyond that.
If I may, in a somewhat lighter vein, recount a practice that is very common in the Indian cultural frame… it is that when you wake up in the morning and get off the bed, you step on to mother earth, causing it pain. What we teach our children is that earth is your mother that provides; she’s a giver. So, please first ask forgiveness from the mother earth before you step on to it and cause it pain.
We also teach in our cultural history that the entire universe is a family. For example, Indian bedtime stories – including school books – are quite replete with references to the Moon as maternal uncle and Sun as a grandfather. So when we view these aspects purely from the perspective of a family, our association with Nature is much deeper and of a very different kind.
Insofar as the question specifically related to COP21 is concerned, I think if you look at the whole world, and the whole issue of climate change, if there is one part of the world which can provide natural leadership on this particular cause, it is this part of the world. Insofar as my specific role and responsibility is concerned, I am acutely conscious and aware of that. In fact, when I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, my government was probably the fourth State government in the world to establish a Climate Change Department within my particular State. And we closely linked its work to the growth policy that we adopted in the State.
In future too, in terms of initiatives that we are going to take, there is going to be a heavy focus on using energy that is environment friendly. For example, we have launched a huge initiative in the field of renewable energy by setting a target for ourselves of 175 GW from renewable sources – 100 GW from the solar sector and 75 GW from the wind sector. It is really an immense and huge initiative of my government.
I have undertaken another mission mode project that we call Clean Ganga Mission. It is essentially on the re-invigoration of the river Ganges. River Ganges has a flow line of about 2,500 KM. Roughly 40 per cent of India’s population is either directly or indirectly linked to this river. It is not merely a Clean Ganga Initiative, not just cleaning of a river; it is actually a huge developmental initiative whose primary focus is to undertake development that is environment friendly.
In fact – and I say this to the entire international community – that those who believe in undertaking environment-friendly development in their own countries, I invite them to come and be partners in the cleaning of river Ganges which I think, as I said earlier, is essentially an environment-friendly growth and development model focussed on preservation of environment.
I have undertaken these mission-mode environment preservation steps in several layers. One layer, for example, pertains to the saving of energy. We have made it a nation-wide campaign to distribute and to ensure popularity of LED bulbs – something which essentially reduces the carbon emission and carbon footprint of energy consumption nationally.
For the farmers in India, I have launched an initiative called the Soil Health Card. It is essentially a system through which we inform the farmer of the toxicity in the soil which he is cultivating. The idea is to approach this entire issue in a scientific way and advise the farmer about his next steps in terms of reduced use of chemical fertilizers, in terms of increased use of organic fertilizers so that the fertility of the soil is preserved. Naturally, this reduces the environmental burden of agricultural cultivation within the country. For the Himalayan region of India, I want to convert it into the organic cultivation capital for the entire world.
I will talk of another measure which may seem like a small measure but which has a great environmental impact within the country. In India we provide to the households subsidized LPG gas cylinders for cooking. Sometime ago, I requested the rich and the wealthy to give up their gas cylinder subsidy to free up the usage of the cooking gas cylinders. Within a short period of time, about 400,000 families gave up their subsidized gas cylinders. My objective is to pass on the freed-up gas cylinders to the poor families which will help us achieve three objectives. Firstly, they would stop using the forest wood for cooking purposes which will prevent the degradation of the forests. Second, it will reduce carbon emissions because burning of the forest wood has a higher carbon footprint. Third, it will also reduce the health problems which are caused in poor families when they burn forest wood for cooking. So, essentially we try to achieve all the three objectives – reduce carbon footprint, reduce forest degradation, yet improve the health of the poor families through this very simple environment friendly measure.
Another decision that we have recently announced clubs together two concepts – providing rural employment and increasing the green cover in rural areas; we have provided a quantum of Rs. 40,000 crore (approx. $ 6.7 billion) to afforest the rural land, provide employment in rural areas, leading to conservation of environment.
Another measure we have taken is to build Metro mass transportation facilities in 50 cities of India. Similarly, in 500 cities of India, we have started elaborate waste water treatment and solid waste management plans. The idea is to build these facilities through public private partnerships by using global competitive aspects. All these measures which I have described have been taken in the last 10 months with the principle objective of ensuring that our economic growth is environment friendly.
The second aspect that I keep pointing out but perhaps international community is still not ready to focus on it or does not focus on it yet, is the need to change our lifestyles. I think the throw-away culture, the culture of disposables, causes a huge burden on the environment. I think recycling, or the re-usage of the resources of the earth, is an important aspect which should be ingrained in our daily lifestyle. I think it is important to change our lifestyles.
TIME: Prime Minister, you have talked about the economic and development reforms that you have been introducing in India, but there are other benchmarks of progress. President Obama said earlier this year that for India to succeed, it is critical that the nation does not splinter along religious lines. What would you make from President Obama’s remarks?
Modi: India is a civilization with a history that is thousands of years old. If you analyze the history of India carefully, you will probably not come across a single incident where India has attacked another country. Similarly you will not find any references in our history where we have waged war based on ethnicity or religion. The diversity of India, of our civilization, is actually a thing of beauty, which is something we are extremely proud of. Our philosophy of life, something that we have lived for thousands of years, is also reflected in our constitution. Our constitution has not come out of any abstract insularity. It essentially reflects our own civilizational ethos of equal respect for all religions. As Indian scriptures say, “Truth is one but sages call it by different names”. Similarly, Swami Vivekananda, when he travelled to Chicago for the World Congress of Religions, had said that respecting religions is not simply a question of universal tolerance; it is a question of believing that all religions are true. So it is a positive approach and aspect that India and Indian civilization take towards religion. If you look at one of the micro minorities of the world, the Parsi community, it has probably flourished the maximum in India. One of our Chiefs of Army Staff has been from the Parsi community. One of our biggest industrialists is from the Parsi community. A Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was from this micro minority community. So for us, the acceptance of all religions is in our blood, it is there in our civilization. It is ingrained in our system to work together, taking all the religions along with us.
My philosophy, the philosophy of my party and the philosophy also of my government is, what I call ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’, which essentially means, “Together with all, progress for all”. So, the underlying philosophy and the impulse of that particular motto is to take everybody together and move towards inclusive growth.
TIME: As we are heading to the US political campaign, a lot of America’s political leaders are talking about the role that their faith plays and their views of themselves as leaders. Could you talk a little about what your faith of Hinduism means to you as India’s leader?
Modi: Religion and faith are very personal matters. So far as the government is concerned, there is only one holy book, which is the Constitution of India.
In fact, if I look at the definition of Hinduism, the Supreme Court of India has given a beautiful definition; it says that Hinduism is not a religion, it is actually a way of life.
If one looks at my own belief, I think I have grown up with these values which I mentioned earlier, that religion is a way of life. We also say ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam’ – the entire world is one family, and respect for all religions. Those are the values I have grown up with.
Essentially the crux of Indian philosophy, the Hindu philosophy, is that all should be happy, all should be healthy, all should live life to the fullest. It is not something that is specific to a particular religion, or to a particular sect. It’s a philosophy, it’s a way of life which encompasses all societies.
And Hinduism is a religion with immense depth and vast diversity. For example, the one who does idol worship is a Hindu and one who hates idol worship can also be a Hindu.
TIME: Mr. Prime minister, some members of your party have said some unkind things about minority religions in India and we do understand that Muslim, Christians, some others have worried about the future of their practicing their faith in India and we are trying to understand that you are saying that under your leadership, they should not be worried?
Modi: In so far the Bhartiya Janata Party and my government are concerned, we absolutely do not believe in this type of ideology. And wherever an individual view might have been expressed with regard to a particular minority religion, we have immediately negated that. So far as BJP and my government are concerned, as I mentioned earlier, there is only one holy book of reference, which is the Constitution of India. For us, the unity and the integrity of the country are the top most priorities. All religions and all communities have the same rights and it is my responsibility to ensure their complete and total protection. My Government will not tolerate or accept any discrimination based on caste, creed, and religion. So there is no place for imaginary apprehensions with regard to the rights of the minorities in India.
TIME: Prime Minister, if I could go back to your election last year. A key thing and the most important was the economy that was spoken about. But here on, a lot of investors have begun to ask questions about the pace of reform, is it fast enough? That the economy basically benefitted from falling oil prices… What you make of those questions about the pace at which you have reformed and what reforms you are planning as you are going to your second year?
Modi: If you were to pick up the news papers for the period March-May 2014 last year and read them, you will actually get the context and key aspects of the context in which we were approaching the elections at that time. One of which was that nothing seemed to be happening in the Government. There seemed to be a complete policy paralysis at that time. Two, corruption had spread throughout the system. Three, there was no leadership; it was a weak government at the centre. That was the context and the background in which I was elected. My election, my government’s coming into power last year in 2014, should be viewed in the context of the developments over the last ten years in the country before May 2014. So you need to see ten years of the last government versus ten months of my government.
You will actually see that, internationally, the whole world is, once again, excited and enthusiastic about India and the opportunities that India represents. Another way to look at it is that, at the start of the 21st century, the term BRIC was coined to represent the four major emerging economies. The assessment was that the BRIC countries will drive international economic growth. Six-seven years before 2014, a view started emerging that ‘I’ in the BRIC had perhaps become less relevant or perhaps even a drag on the BRIC grouping.
In the last 10 months, the ‘I’ has reclaimed its position in the BRICS. Internationally, whether it is the IMF, the World Bank, Moody’s or other credit agencies, they are all saying in one voice, that India has a great economic future. It is progressing at a fast pace and has again become a factor of growth and stability in the international economic system. India is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
The last ten months clearly prove that so far as the expectations of the people are concerned, both in the country and internationally, we are moving very rapidly to fulfil those expectations.
I have in my mind a very clear outline of the framework of what we are going to do in the next five years. What we have done in the last one year is precisely as per that plan. And in the next four years, we have step-by-step measures that would unfold as we go along. So far as the reform process in the last eleven months is concerned, it is not simply a question of policy reforms that my government has taken. We have also undertaken focused administrative reforms. To establish (i) ease of doing business; (ii) making government more accountable; (iii) reforms at the level of technology and governance; (iv) reforms at all layers of the government, whether it’s local government or state government or central government. We have essentially taken the reform process to an entirely different level where both the Federal and the state level respond through a policy-based and administrative reform system.
The biggest reform since India’s independence in the field of taxation that is coming up is the GST and it is our expectation that we would start implementing it from the 2016 fiscal year.
Another example is increasing the Foreign Direct Investment cap in the field of insurance to 49%. This was stuck for the last 7 – 8 years and was not making any progress. We ensured that it was passed by the parliament within the first year of our government.
TIME: Prime Minister, when some people compare China and India’s economic development, there are some people who say that China has been much faster and much more successful because it is a one-party state in which the leader of the party can basically dictate his and his Cabinet’s policies. India of course is a democracy. You have a mandate in the Lower House of Parliament. You do not have a majority in the Upper House. Things like for example your new Land Acquisitions Law can run into obstacles because of the system that India has. Do you sometimes think that you would love to have President Xi’s power to push things through?
Modi: India by its very nature is a democracy. It is not just as per our Constitution that we are a democratic country; it is in our DNA. In so far as different political parties of India are concerned, I firmly believe that they have the maturity and wisdom to make decisions that are in the best interests of the nation. I firmly believe that for us, democracy and belief in democratic values, are a matter of faith, which are spread across all political parties in the country. It is true that we do not have a majority in the Upper House. Despite that, if you look at the productivity of the Parliament, it has actually been quite an achievement under our government. In Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Parliament, productivity has been about 124% whereas productivity in the Upper House has been about 107%. Overall, it conveys a very positive message of legislative action. In all, about 40 bills have been passed in the Parliament. So if you were to ask me whether you need dictatorship to run India, no, you do not. Whether you need a dictatorial thought to run the country, no, you do not. Whether you need a powerful person who believes in concentrating power at one place, no you do not. If anything is required to take India forward, it is an innate belief in democracy and democratic values. I think that is what is needed and that is what we have. If you were to ask me at a personal level to choose between democratic values on the one hand, and wealth, power, prosperity and fame on the other hand, I will very easily and without any doubt choose democracy and belief in democratic values.
TIME: One of the aspects, one of the pillars of a democracy is freedom of speech. Earlier this year, the authorities in India banned a documentary about the terrible rape case that took place in December of 2012. Why did the authorities do that and what are to you the limits of free speech? Do you think free speech should have some limits?
Modi: There are two different things which are dealt in this question and I will try to address them both. But, first in a somewhat lighter vein, if I could just recount a well-known episode about Galileo. He had propounded the principles of revolution of the earth around the sun but in the societal paradigm at that particular time, those principles were against what was enshrined in the Bible and a decision was taken to imprison Galileo at that time.
Now India is a civilization where the principle and philosophy of sacrifice is ingrained as part of our upbringing. If you take that as a background and look at our history, there used to be another great thinker of the time called Charvaka who propounded a theory of extreme hedonism which was contradictory to the Indian ethos. He essentially said that “You do not have to worry about tomorrow, just live, eat, make merry today”. But even he with those extreme thoughts, which were totally contradictory to the Indian ethos, was equated to a sage and accommodated and given space to express his views in the Indian society.
So in so far as freedom of speech is concerned, there is absolutely not an iota of doubt in terms of our commitment and our belief in that.
If you look at the issue related to the telecast of the documentary that you referred, it is not a question of freedom of speech, it is more a legal question. It has two or three aspects. One aspect is that the identity of the rape victim should not be revealed which would have happened if this interview was allowed to be telecast. Two, the case is still sub judice and the telecast which features the interview of the person who is alleged to have committed the crime could have impacted the judicial process. Three, it is also our responsibility to ensure protection of the victim. If we had allowed such a thing to happen, in effect, we would have violated the dignity of the victim. So I do not think it is a question of freedom of speech, it is more a question of law and respecting the victim and the judicial processes in this particular case. In so far as freedom of speech is concerned, as I mentioned earlier, there is absolutely no issue. It is something that we greatly respect as an important aspect of our democratic values.
TIME: I wonder if I might ask one last question before we turn you over to Peter, who is very eager. We talk a lot about influence and in the Time 100, these are people who we think right now are exerting an enormous influence on the world stage, can you tell us who has influenced you the most?
Modi: The question that you have asked actually touches my deepest core. I was born in a very poor family. I used to sell tea in a railway coach as a child. My mother used to wash utensils and do lowly household work in the houses of others to earn a livelihood.

I have seen poverty very closely. I have lived in poverty. As a child, my entire childhood was steeped in poverty. For me, poverty, in a way, was the first inspiration of my life, a commitment to do something for the poor. I decided that I would not live for myself but would live for others and work for them. My experience of growing up in poverty deeply impacted my childhood. Then, at the age of 12 or 13, I started reading the works of Swami Vivekananda. That gave me courage and a vision, it sharpened and deepened my sensitivities and gave me a new perspective and a direction in life. At the age of 15 or 16, I decided to dedicate myself to others and till date I am continuing to follow that decision.

IAF hunts for more roads to land jets in emergency

New Delhi, May 21

The Air Force today successfully test-landed a Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft on the Yamuna Expressway  as part of an emergency drill.The aircraft that took off from Gwalior landed on the expressway at 6.40 am. The force has plans to activate more such sites for emergency landings by jets. Such landings can be made in emergencies if an active airport is not available under certain circumstances. Mumbai and Mangalore are being considered as strategic locations where such landings can happen. The IAF statement said the jet made a practice approach on the highway, coming down to a height of 100 m before landing at the next approach. “The operation was conducted in coordination with District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of Agra and Mathura,” it said. For today’s trial, all facilities such as make-shift air traffic control, safety services, rescue vehicles, bird clearance parties and other requirements were set in place by the IAF. — TNS

Parrikar for proactive steps to defeat terror

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 21
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said terrorists would have to be neutralised through terrorists and India would take "proactive" steps to prevent 26/11 type attacks hatched from foreign soil.
"We have to neutralise terrorists through terrorists only. Why can't we do it? We should do it. Why does my soldier have to do it?" he said at an event, adding that this issue cannot be discussed beyond this.
Speaking candidly, the minister used the Hindi phrase "kante se kanta nikalna" (removing a thorn with a thorn) and wondered why Indian soldiers should be used to neutralise terrorists. He said proactive steps could include pressure tactics.
He was replying to a question on what would be the government's reaction if a repeat of Mumbai attacks or a Parliament attack takes place. He said the best response would be to ensure it does not happen. Parrikar's words are being seen as hint of some new strategy.
"There are certain things that I obviously cannot discuss here. But if there is any country, why only Pakistan, planning something against my country, we will definitely take some pro-active steps," he said. Meanwhile, he said the Army had been given orders to neutralise infiltrators trying to enter India. "I can only say that anyone trying to infiltrate will be neutralised," he said, adding: "A terrorist who comes with a gun cannot be lectured on human rights." He said instructions had been given to take precaution that there was no "collateral damage" and that no Indian soldiers die.

Army Training Command conducts triathlon

Tribune News Service
Shimla, May 21

In a run-up to the silver jubilee celebrations slated for October 1, the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) today embarked on a three-day triathlon, including mountain cycling, trekking and river rafting, in mountainous terrain at altitudes between 7,000 ft and 9,200 ft.
The expedition led by Lt Gen Sanjeev Madhok, GOC-in-C, ARTRAC, and 23 participants, including Lt Gen BS Sachar, former Chief of Staff, (ARTRAC), set out for the first leg with Lt Gen Raman Dhawan, Chief of Staff,(ARTRAC), flagging off the mountain cycling event from the Ridge here this morning.
In the first leg today, the ARTRAC team would be cycling 46 km from the Ridge to Khatnol via Dhalli, Mashobra and Baldiyan, while the second leg would involve trekking from Khatnol to Pandoa via Shali Peak. White water rafting on the Sutlej from Pandoa to Chaba would be the highlight of the third day. The event would terminate at Chaba.
The triathlon is being conducted by the ARTRAC to bolster the spirit of leadership through adventure, in line with the traditions of the Army and to commemorate the silver jubilee of the organisation.

Guv briefed on road projects under BRO

Tribune News Service
Srinagar, May 21
Director General of the BRO Lt Gen RM Mittal with Governor NN Vohra during a meeting in Srinagar on Thursday. A Tribune Photo
Director General, Border Roads Organisation (BRO), Lt Gen RM Mittal called on Governor NN Vohra at Raj Bhawan here this evening.
The BRO Director General was accompanied by Brigadier AK Das, Chief Engineer, Beacon.
During their meeting, Lt General Mittal briefed the Governor about the to-date status of construction and maintenance of various road projects being executed by the BRO to provide sustained connectivity, particularly to serve the remote areas of the state.
The Governor stressed the importance of various road projects being completed within the envisaged time-frames and important road networks being maintained throughout the year.
In this context, the Governor and the BRO DG discussed issues relating to improvement of traffic flow on roads leading to the entry points of the two routes to the Amarnath yatra.
Meanwhile, the BRO DG called on Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed here and discussed measures being taken by the BRO to carry out repairs on the national highways and other vital roads looked after by it.
During the meeting, Mufti stressed the need for repairing all strategic roads so that the people who face hardships get a sigh of relief, an official spokesman said.
Mufti said improvement in roads would also facilitate tourists and pilgrims during the Amarnath yatra.
On expediting work on the Srinagar-Anantnag road stretch of the National Highway 1-A, the Chief Minister asked the BRO to maintain the road, which is in a critical condition.
The Chief Minister emphasised that till the proposed widening of the existing Jammu-Srinagar national highway was fully completed, the state needed proper maintenance of the Mughal Road to ensure that the Valley was not cut off.

Army, BSF increase patrolling on border

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service
Jammu, May 21
With the summer season setting in, the Army and the BSF have intensified vigil along the 744-km-long Line of Control and 198-km-long international border in anticipation of an increase in infiltration attempts from across the border.
“The summer has set in and it is the time when intrusion bids go up. The Army has also upped its surveillance on the LoC,” said an Army source.
“We have put our troops on an alert as they (Pak ultras) make desperate attempts to sneak into the Indian territory during summer,” the source said.
Sources said the Army has increased its area domination along the LoC in the form of more foot patrols and has also enhanced its ambushes in areas vulnerable to intrusions.
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command Lt Gen DS Hooda had told The Tribune on May 2 that activities across the LoC, particularly opposite the 15 Corps zone, would start as soon as the snow melts in the mountain passes.
“There is no denying the fact that 42 terror camps still operate in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and 250 to 300 ultras have been kept in various launch pads opposite the 16 Corps zone area. Some activity across the LoC has already begun,” the Army source said.
The BSF has also put its men on alert and has increased foot patrol parties along the international border.
“The other day there was truce violation in the Samba and RS Pura sectors of Jammu district. We certainly have inputs about the presence of ultras on the other side of the border opposite the Basanter river in Samba and Hiranagar sub-sector in Kathua district,” said a BSF source.
“On a couple of occasions in the recent times, Pakistani Rangers had tried to launch ultras but our men foiled their attempts,” the source added. “The activities inimical to us have started and, therefore, we have also increased our deployment on the border and have also made some tactical maneuvers on stretches vulnerable to intrusion bids,” the source said.
Untold saga of an Indian soldier
PK Chhetri
| 22 May, 2015

It was early 1940 when my father went to the Amritsar recruitment camp to join the British Army. Since he was barely 17, he was considered too young to be drafted as a regular soldier and was, instead, enlisted as a recruit but only after completing six months vigorous training the Lahore camp. World War II was raging and the British needed men because the army had sustained heavy casualties in the fight against the Axis powers.
Back then, one didn’t need any documentary proof of identity for recruitment, just a verbal statement being adequate, particularly for Ghurkhas. Though my father was a Sharma (belonging to the priestly class), he was advised by the local recruiting JCO to identify himself as a Kshatriya (warrior class) or else he wouldn’t be recruited. The reason was best known to either the recruiting officer or the British government, but I think the British adopted this unwritten policy immediately after the First War of India’s Independence because the man who ignited the spark of mutiny was Mangal Pandey, who happened to belong to the priestly class.
The JCO concerned wrote Chhetri under the column caste and my father remained a Chhetri throughout, a surname I inherited. Though he never disclosed this fact suo motu at any time, while dusting his old books I discovered one in which he had written Sharma after his name. After much persuasion, he disclosed the actual fact and the book is a prized possession. After completing his training at Lahore, he was drafted into the Royal Army Medical Corps as an attendant and for a very short period was sent to Afghanistan, where, once, he had a sudden confrontation with a thug. One evening while loitering aimlessly through a narrow lane at the Kabul bazaar, a very tall turbaned man suddenly jumped him. But since my father was quite short in terms of height, his Afghan assailant missed him and fell flat on his face. Quickly distancing himself, my father noticed that the man held a short knife with a sparkling blade in his right hand. He was trying to regain his feet and my father, knowing he wouldn’t be able to grapple with him one on one, instinctively kicked him in the groin and quickly took to his heels. From that day onward he never dared venture afoot during his short stay in Kabul.
The one day he received orders to report to the Rawalpindi army camp, where he stayed for a while and attended to hospital work as a male nursing staff. Suddenly one night, an announcement was made over the camp microphone for newly joined recruits to pack their haversacks, report at the brigade’s parade ground and await further orders. Hundreds of hooded trucks were already lined up in rows and a senior British officer arrived and directed all of them to quickly get into the trucks. For the journey they were all given sandwiches, bottles of water, two small packets of dog biscuits apiece (though these were tasteless, they were highly nutritious, father said) and small bottles of vitamin pills.
There were possibly no less than 200 trucks in the convoy and the drivers were under strict orders to not switch on headlights but instead keep the taillights on. The road was extremely rough and since there was a lack of illumination, the drivers could hardly perceive anything in the pitch dark which made the journey extremely hazardous and tiresome; visibility on the road was almost zero as there was also no moonlight. The trucks moved at a snail’s pace and none of the recruits much like pack animals had any idea of where they were being taken.
Every one of them was at the mercy of the brigade commander, who was leading the convoy in an armored jeep up front. Though there were fixed wooden benches inside a truck, sitting comfortably was out of the question because the vehicle jumped every other second on the rough road. Nothing was visible outside except for dim dark silhouettes of bushes on either side. The convoy stopped in the middle of a desert and the soldiers were ordered to dismount quickly and camouflage the trucks with pale green netted shrouds every truck was carrying one and then dig trenches for their rest. No extra food was supplied and they had to make do with their biscuits.
Nobody knew where they were going and the question of asking their superior officer did not arise because in the army an order is an order and no soldier dared question his senior officer’s decision in any field operation. In fact, secrecy is a British trait, which explains how they managed to conquer half of the world once. Immediately after sunset, roll call was taken and everyone was again given two packets of dog biscuits and allowed to refill bottles, because both water and food were strictly rationed. There was no extra water either for toilet or for cleaning purposes. All of them simply used paper napkins supplied by the army, which were soaked in some antiseptic liquid.
The convoy was carrying some uncooked food provisions but no cooking was allowed lest the smoke from the fire attract the attention of enemy fighter planes. Occasionally, during the day a few fighter planes did hover over them, probably on recce, but no mischief was caused, perhaps due to the convoy’s good camouflage. This routine continued for many days and after a while everyone stopped counting. Because of poor nourishment, every soldier was gradually becoming emaciated even if, on only a few occasions, they were allowed a full meal and a wash whenever they rested near some permanently established army camp or when they came across an oasis they would cook food under the shade of palm trees. Even then they maintained a constant watch for stray enemy aircraft, their anti-aircraft guns in readiness. During the journey, they came across many unnamed towns and cities, all apparently deserted, probably because of the fear of Italian and German bombers.
The people of these towns and cities were mainly taking shelter on the outskirts in bunkers. Seeing the passing army convoy, even at night these starving people lined both the sides of the road and begged for food but there was hardly anything to spare. In Iran, they passed a number of grape orchards on the way. At these they would stop for a while and soldiers would gobble up grapes; but there were strict instructions to only eat on the spot, not spoil the vineyards and not carry anything with them. This was a peculiar trait of the British not to vandalise anything unnecessarily, because they presumed the same might be required at any time by others in future. Father used to lament that Indians had no sense of protecting anything for future use. Bypassing Babylon, the convoy somehow reached Baghdad after a long detour. But even the town looked eerie and devastated by enemy bombing. Since the fear of enemy snipers was always palpable, the convoy took shelter outside the city. In the vicinity of Baghdad, a bizarre incident occurred.
One night, when the entire brigade was asleep from sheer exhaustion, all the sentries on duty outside the tents were sprayed with some kind of anaesthetic gas by some unidentified people, which rendered them unconscious. In the morning, everyone felt amazed when it was detected, on cursory examination, that nothing had been stolen, not even arms and ammunitions, and no harm had been done to anyone all that was missing was the entire stock of rations! But it was not difficult to locate where the thieves were there had been a little rain the day before and the footprints of their camels showed the way. Around five miles away, after a meticulous search, the soldiers found several manholes camouflaged with bushes, though there was no trace of camels or the thieves. The CO could not take the risk of asking any soldier to enter the holes, so it was decided to burst teargas shells into their openings and guard all exit points simultaneously.
There were more than a dozen of these scattered over quite a large area. The teargas drew forth a few men, women and children who raised their hands above their heads, their eyes running. They were taken into custody and handed over to the local army unit. The stolen rations stocks were recovered. This was one of my father’s memorable incidents because he recounted the story several times to me and felt amused, when he described the panic-stricken faces of the thieves, when caught unaware. He used to say that the story of the Thief of Baghdad in The Arabian Nights was indeed true, though the thieves had different motives here.

Watch: IAF Mirage 2000 aircraft lands on Yamuna Expressway

In a first, a Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force on Thursday successfully landed on the Yamuna Expressway near Mathura as part of trials to use national highways for emergency landing.The aircraft landed at about 6:40 AM, senior IAF officers said, adding that the force has plans to activate more such stretches on highways in the future.The IAF has been considering the use of national highways for emergency landing by fighter aircraft.For today's trial, all facilities like make shift Air Traffic Control, safety services, rescue vehicles, bird clearance parties and other requirements were set in place by the IAF."The operation was conducted in coordination with District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of Agra and Mathura," an IAF statement said.The aircraft first made a practice approach on the highway coming down to 100 metres before landing on the next approach.IAF officials said such landings can be carried out in emergencies if an active airport is not available under certain circumstances. Photos and updates were posted by Sitanshu Kar, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Defence on Twitter.
 Watch how it happened:

Officers seek enhancement of retirement age via court, Navy puts onus on MoD

indian navy, navy personnel retirement age, Defence Ministry, navy retirement age, retirement age navy, navy news, india news, nation newsThe existing policies in Navy and IAF allow captains who have attained the rank on a time-scale (TS) promotion to work for 54 years.
The Navy, which is on the backfoot after a number of its captain-rank officers went to court after being denied a two-year enhancement in retirement age and returned with reinstatement orders, has now said that it has written to the Defence Ministry for a decision in the matter.
In an internal communique issued on April 9, a copy of which is with this paper, the Navy Headquarters has said that the matter rests with the MoD. “The case regarding enhancement of retirement age of Naval officers of the rank Capt (TS) to 56 years has been forwarded to MoD for taking a suitable decision in the matter and the same is still awaited.”
The existing policies in Navy and IAF allow captains who have attained the rank on a time-scale (TS) promotion to work for 54 years. However, for selection grade captains, the retirement age is 56 years. When Group Captain Atul Shukla approached the court citing the discrimination, the Supreme Court in November thrashed the forces calling the promotion policy “more illusory than real”.
Soon, more officers started approaching the IAF and Navy headquarters seeking an enhancement in their tenure. While the IAF has so far reinstated 70-odd Group Captains, the Navy headquarters has been denying the extensions. The result: Eight officers have so far gone to courts and returned to Naval Headquarters with reinstatement orders. In the latest case, the AFT ordered Navy to reinstate two officers on Monday. Notably, in one of the cases, a captain had already retired by the time the judgment was received.
An officer observed that a rise in instances of officers going to court in the matter was damaging for the morale of the force as it shows that the officers “look at the court as their saviours instead of their own organisation”.
“They are our own people. Why should they be denied to serve till 56 when the highest court in the country has ordered that they can,” asked the officer.
Israel will partner India to develop missile system
NEW DELHI: India is close to finalizing another mega military project with Israel, which will further bolster the already expansive but secretive defence cooperation under way between the two countries since the 1999 Kargil conflict.

Defence ministry sources on Wednesday said the contract negotiation committee had now virtually sealed the joint development of a medium-range surface-to-air missile system (MR-SAM) for the Indian Army through collaboration between DRDO and Israeli Aerospace Industries.

Defence PSU Bharat Dynamics, in turn, will undertake bulk production of the systems in India. Incidentally, Israel is among the top defence suppliers to India, having already inked deals and projects worth around $10 billion over the last 15 years, which range from spy and armed drones to sophisticated missile and radar systems.During his visit to India in February, Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya'alon had even offered the advanced Iron Dome interceptor, which was used to intercept the flurry of rockets fired into his country last year, for PM Narendra Modi's Make in India policy.

As for the initial Army order for one regiment of the MR-SAM systems, with their multi-function surveillance and threat tracking radars as well as weapon control systems, it would cost over Rs 9,000 crore. "More orders might later follow since the Army's air defence capabilities are relatively weak," said a source.

The DRDO-IAI-BDL model is identical to the SAM projects already under way for the Navy and IAF, which are together worth around Rs 13,000 crore. While the interception range of IAF-Navy versions is 70-km, the one for the Army will be 50-km.

Such SAM systems are basically "area defence weapons" that locate, track and destroy incoming hostile aircraft, drones, missiles and helicopters. They are the advanced versions of the Israeli Barak-I "point anti-missile defence systems" with a 9-km range, which were fitted on 14 Indian warships several years ago.

The new SAM projects, however, have been plagued by huge delays. The one to arm Indian warships at a cost of Rs 2,606 crore, which was approved in December 2005, was to be completed by May 2011.

But it's only now that an Indian warship — the 6,800-tonne destroyer INS Kolkata commissioned by Modi in August last year — is gearing up for the actual test-firing of the SAM system for the first time. After its HOT (home on target) tests were completed in Israel last year, the SAM has also been fitted in another destroyer INS Kochi, which will be commissioned later this year.

The story has been similar for the Rs 10,076 crore SAM project sanctioned in February 2009 for IAF to plug the existing gaps in air defence coverage of the country. The project completion date has been pushed back to August 2016. It was this long delay, in fact, which had led India to put negotiations for the Army version on the backburner till now.

India successfully test fires Astra missile from Su-30 MKI fighter jet

The Indian Air Force's (IAF) Astra beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAM) has been successfully test-fired from a Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft at the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur in Odisha, India.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists conducted two developmental trials on 20 May, with plans to conduct another launch today to prove the missile's long-range capability.
During the first developmental trial, the Su-30 fighter jet launched the supersonic missile while performing a "very high-g manoeuvre".
The second trial saw the release of the missile when the fighter jet was performing a higher manoeuvre.
"During the first developmental trial, the Su-30 fighter jet launched the supersonic missile while performing a very high-g manoeuvre."
A DRDO missile technologist was quoted by The Hindu as saying that 'extreme conditions were simulated for the missile's trials.'
Manufacturing of the Astra is taken care of by DRDO, with support from various DRDO laboratories, including collaboration between the missile complex at Hyderabad, CEMILAC and DGAQA, with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the IAF.The 3.8m-long, all-aspect, all-weather missile has active radar terminal guidance, electronic counter-countermeasures features, smokeless propulsion, and a high single-shot kill probability.The missile is equipped with a 15kg high-explosive warhead. It can engage both short-range aerial targets located at up to 20km and long-range targets at a distance of up to 80km, using alternative propulsion modes.In March, the BVRAM missile was test-launched as a part of an induction phase trial to demonstrate the aerodynamic characteristics of the missile.Astra is set to undergo additional tests, including pre-induction trials, and will be inducted in the IAF by 2016.

Indian Navy committed to 'Make in India': Navy chief

The Indian Navy is firmly committed to Prime MinisterModi's "Make in India" project, with 48 ships and submarines being built in the country's shipyards, navy chief Admiral R.K. Dhowan said here on Tuesday.
Speaking at the launch of the fourth and last anti-submarine warfare corvette named "Karavatti", he said "self-reliance and indigenisation" were the blueprints the Indian Navy was firmly anchored to.
The navy was making efforts to raise the indigenous content so as to make warships completely in India, said the navy chief.
"Karavatti", made at the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), has over 90 percent indigenous content.
GRSE chairman and managing director Rear Admiral A.K. Verma (retd.) said for the first time in the country, the superstructure of the corvette has been built of carbon fibre composite material.
Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh was the chief guest on the occasion, while the ship was launched by his wife Manita Singh.
The minister lauded the contributions made by GRSE, Kolkata in meeting the growing requirements of the navy.
Admiral Dhowan acknowledged the "excellent work" done by the yard for contributing towards achieving the Indian Navy's dream of transforming itself from a "Buyers Navy" to "Builders Navy".
GRSE is building four ASW Corvette class of ships under P-28 Project. The basic design for these ships was developed by navy's directorate of naval design and the detailed design was made by the in-house design department of GRSE. INS Kamorta, the first ship of the series, was commissioned on August 23, 2014 at Visakhapatnam.
The ship is now an integral part of the Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy.
The ASW corvette - 109 metre long with a displacement of 3,200 tonnes- is a most modern warship, with advanced stealth features having very low radar cross section and very low radiated underwater noise.
The ship has a maximum speed of 25 knots, with an endurance of over 3400 NM at 18 knots speed, and is designed to accommodate 17 officers and 106 sailors.

What Are Chinese Submarines Doing in the Indian Ocean?

NEW DELHI - China, although an outside power, is seeking to carve out a role for itself in the Indian Ocean region through its Maritime Silk Road initiative. The Maritime Silk Road -- along with an overland Silk Road to connect China with Central Asia, the Caspian Sea basin and beyond -- bears the imprint of President Xi Jinping, who has articulated a more expansive role for China than any modern Chinese leader other than Mao Zedong.
China's quiet maneuvering in the Indian Ocean, where it is seeking to challenge America's sway and chip away at India's natural-geographic advantage, draws strength from its more assertive push for dominance in the South China Sea -- the critical corridor between the Pacific and Indian oceans. With China converting tiny, largely submerged reefs into islands that can host military facilities and personnel, the South China Sea has become pivotal to the contest for influence in the Indian Ocean and the larger Indo-Pacific region.
The dual Silk Road initiatives -- also labeled the "One Belt and One Road" by Beijing -- are part of Xi's strategy for China to break out of the East Asia mold and become a more global power, with its clout extending to the Middle East. The projects will enable China to build economic leverage and help pull regional countries closer to its orbit.
Not a Marshall Plan
The twin initiatives, however, are not a Chinese version of America's altruistic post-World War II Marshall Plan. Rather, at a time of slowing economic growth in China, they have been designed to win lucrative contracts for Chinese state-run companies by presenting commercial penetration as benevolent investment and credit as aid. Beijing indeed is doing a great job in fobbing off overseas business as economic aid.
The contracts that China is bagging will help it to deal with its problem of overproduction at home. From a $10.6 billion railroad project in Thailand to more than $20 billion worth of new power projects in Pakistan, China is emphasizing infrastructure exports.
By embarking on connecting China's restive Xinjiang region with the Arabian Sea through a 3,000-kilometer overland transportation corridor to Pakistan's Chinese-built Gwadar port, Xi has made Pakistan the central link between the maritime and overland Silk Roads. This corridor through Pakistan-held Kashmir will hook up the two Silk Roads, besides permitting China to challenge India in its maritime backyard.
China is also seeking to tap the Indian Ocean's rich mineral wealth, and is inviting India to join hands with it in deep seabed mining there. Yet it opposes any Indian-Vietnamese collaboration in the South China Sea. "Your sea is our sea but my sea is my sea" seems to be the new Chinese saying.
Purchasing Friends
More broadly, the Silk Road initiatives mesh with Xi's larger strategy of co-opting regional states, especially by integrating them with China's economy and security. According to the Chinese conservative scholar Yan Xuetong, the "lie low, bide your time" dictum of the late strongman Deng Xiaoping is no longer relevant and has been replaced by Xi's more ambitious and assertive policy toward smaller countries. In Yan's words, "We let them benefit economically and, in return, we get good political relationships. We should 'purchase' the relationships."
One example of how China has sought to "purchase" friendships was the major contracts it signed with Sri Lanka's now-ousted president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to turn that strategically located Indian Ocean country into a major stop on China's nautical "road." The new president, Maithripala Sirisena, said on the election-campaign trail that the Chinese projects were ensnaring Sri Lanka in a "debt trap."
In his election manifesto, without naming China, Sirisena warned: "The land that the White Man took over by means of military strength is now being obtained by foreigners by paying ransom to a handful of persons. This robbery is taking place before everybody in broad daylight... If this trend continues for another six years, our country would become a colony and we would become slaves."
The Maritime Silk Road initiative, with its emphasis on high-visibility infrastructure projects, targets key littoral states located along the great trade arteries in the Indian Ocean, the new global center of trade and energy flows. This critical ocean region, extending from Australia to the Middle East and Southern Africa, is likely to determine the wider geopolitics, maritime order and balance of power in Asia, the Persian Gulf and beyond.
Through its Maritime Silk Road, China is challenging the existing balance of power in the Indian Ocean. Its effort involves securing port projects along vital sea lanes; building energy and transportation corridors to China through Myanmar and Pakistan; and assembling a "string of pearls" in the form of refueling stations and naval-access outposts along the great trade arteries.
China's interest in the Indian Ocean has grown steadily since 2008, when it embarked on a naval mission as part of a multilateral effort to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa. It was the first time the Chinese navy had deployed that far in 600 years.
Chinese Submarines in Colombo
Illustrating how China blends its economic and military interests, Chinese attack submarines last fall undertook their first known voyages to the Indian Ocean, with two subs docking at the new Chinese-built and Chinese-owned container terminal at Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo. After building Sri Lanka's southern port of Hambantota, China now wants to construct a major stop on its nautical "road" in the form of a $1.4 billion city, roughly the size of Monaco, on reclaimed land off Colombo. Beijing is also interested in leasing one of the 1,200 islands of the politically torn Maldives.
Under Xi, China has moved to a proactive posture to shape its external security environment, using trade and investment to expand its sphere of strategic influence while simultaneously asserting territorial and maritime claims against its neighbors. The Maritime Silk Road project -- part of Xi's increasing focus on the seas -- is driven by his belief that the maritime domain holds the key to China achieving preeminence in Asia.
In this light, the new Asian order will be determined not so much by developments in East Asia as by the contest for major influence in the Indian Ocean, the maritime center of the world.




Tax blow in Punjab

The pain is not confined to oil, electricity consumersThe Badal government has imposed an additional Rs 1,500-crore tax burden on Punjab. It is an unexpected off-budget, mid-year blow that will hurt more than is calculated currently. With agriculture stagnant and industry languishing, the new tax dose will make Punjab a less desirable destination for private investment. Industry goes where taxes are reasonable, competitive, stable and predictable. Electricity will become dearer too, while one keeps hoping Sukhbir Badal's claim of making Punjab power surplus will become a reality one day.  
The idea of providing sewerage and toilets is good but there are other ways of raising money like curbing tax evasion, downsizing government, cutting unproductive expenditure, especially on VIP luxuries, security and travels. A cess is a dedicated tax used for the purpose it is levied. Not so in Punjab, where the government has a history of diverting funds or losing Central funds for want of matching contributions. Besides, the government tries to hide cash from the Consolidated Fund where each rupee spent is cross-checked by the CAG. The cess collection of Rs 1,500 crore a year too will not be open to CAG scrutiny. It can be handed over to Badal for doling out favours to his favourites at “sangat darshans”. Public money is meant for promoting the common good in a planned way. The cess hikes done outside the budget have not been debated. Not that the warring Congressmen could have made a difference. At least the semblance of keeping democratic traditions alive would have been maintained. By Sukhbir Badal's own admission, 140 towns and 12,000 villages in Punjab are without toilets and sewerage. When he boasts of development, the Opposition can remind him of this. 
Costlier diesel will raise prices of all transported commodities people use. Children will have to pay more for going to school. Normally expensive petrol should deter the use of personal cars, which can help in checking air pollution and decongesting roads. But if bus fares rise too, people stick to cars, or given the chaos on roads, opt for luxury buses that the likes of Badals run. 

Entry tax fallout: Sugar prices up by Rs 2 per kg

Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 21
The price of sugar in the state has gone up by Rs 200 per quintal, or Rs 2 per kg, following the decision of the Cabinet to impose 11 per cent tax on sugar coming into Punjab from other states. The price of sugar (price at factories) in various parts of the state increased from Rs 2,710-Rs 2,740 per quintal till yesterday, to Rs 2,910-Rs 2,940 per quintal.
The retail price of sugar, too, saw a jump immediately, even though the government is yet to issue a notification or bring an ordinance for the imposition of this tax. In the retail market, the prices of sugar too saw a jump of Rs 2 per kg, with prices going up to Rs 30-Rs 34 per kg, in various cities across the state. Industry sources point out that the prices have been increased by unscrupulous sugar traders, who had hoarded sugar and after yesterday’s announcement started selling sugar at a hiked price.
The state’s move to impose entry tax was based more on the concern for the nine cooperative and the seven private sugar mills operating in the state. These sugar mills are running in huge losses and have unpaid dues amounting to almost Rs 700 crore, after Punjab increased its State Advised Price (SAP) on cane to Rs 295 per quintal for the recently concluded cane crushing season. With just 9.5 per cent sugar recovery from cane, the sugar mill owners in the state were claiming that the cost of production of sugar was around Rs 3,500 per quintal. Against this, the price of sugar in the open market was just Rs 2,800 per quintal.
The problem for the state arose because Uttar Pradesh — a main sugar producing state — gave a subsidy of Rs 40 per quintal on sugarcane to all sugar mills, on the SAP of Rs 280 per quintal. As a result, the cost of production of sugar in UP is around Rs 2,800 per quintal, as they were paying farmers just Rs 240 per quintal for sugarcane. Since Punjab, with its annual requirement of 60 lakh tonnes of sugar, gets almost 15 lakh tonnes of sugar from Uttar Pradesh, the cheaper sugar from UP started flooding Punjab’s market. It is basically to protect the domestic sugar industry that the government has decided to impose tax on sugar coming here from other states.
The sugar industry in the state is happy that the government has intervened to protect the interests of the sugar industry. “Our raw material cost is very high and retail prices have dipped. With the new tax being imposed, at least 90 per cent of dues to cane growers can be paid,” said Inderbir Singh Rana, of Rana Sugars.
In December last year, the state government had waived the 3.3 per cent purchase tax imposed on the seven private sugar mills of the state. The nine cooperative sugar mills in the state are already exempt from paying any purchase tax. The government had then reasoned that since other states had waived this tax on cane, they were following suit. The private sugar mills, operated among others by powerful politicians from across the political spectrum, had threatened not to go ahead with the crushing, if they were not bailed out and taxes imposed on them reduced.

Industry shocked over levy on power tariff

Experts call it a retrograde step, say it will adversely impact state’s developmenT
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 21
With the levy of 5 per cent infrastructure development (ID) fee on power tariff, the state government has undone the relief given recently by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission by reducing the tariff for certain sections of consumers and by deciding not to increase tariff for most other categories.
The government has made the regulatory commission’s power tariff order for 2015-16 redundant by levying the ID fee. The commission is a constitutionally created body which issues the tariff order after interacting with all sections of power consumers and holding public hearings at various places. 
After a long exercise, the commission had concluded that the power tariff was on the higher side for certain sections of consumers and had reduced it accordingly. The government has levied the ID across all sections of consumers.
Various power consumers are already paying 13 per cent electricity duty that goes directly in the government’s kitty. The projected revenue from the power tariff for the current fiscal year is Rs 24,412 crore. With the levy of 5 per cent ID fee, the government would earn a revenue of about Rs 1,220 crore. It is not confirmed yet whether the government will pay 5 per cent ID fee on power subsidy it pays to Punjab State Power Corporation Limited for supplying free power to the farm sector.
There is a strong resentment in the industrial sector over the ID fee. “The development is a major setback for the state industry,” said RS Sachdeva, co-chairman, PHD Chambers of Commerce. He said industrialists and other consumers were already paying 13 per cent electricity duty on power tariff. “We had held several meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal to seek relief for the industry to make it competitive. But the government has further burdened the industry,” said Sachdeva.
The levy of ID fee on power and Rs 1 per litre cess on diesel and petrol would adversely affect the state’s growth. Punjab already figures among the slowest growing big states in the country and the increase in the fuel price would have a negative effect on its GDP.
Eminent economist Dr SS Johl said it was unfortunate that the government had levied fee on power tariff. Electricity is an essential input required for the state’s development. Likewise, the hike in diesel and petrol prices was an equally retrograde step, he said.
“Moreover, the revenue earned through the ID fee and hike in petrol and diesel prices would most likely be utilised to meet state’s committed expenditure rather than on development projects as the state is already facing a huge fiscal and revenue deficit,” he added.

Chief Secy told to file affidavit on drug issue

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 21
Dissatisfied with the affidavit filed by the Principal Secretary, Health, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered the Chief Secretary to file a personal affidavit on the issue of de-addiction and rehabilitation of drug addicts and for setting up homeopathic de-addiction centres.
The directions came during the resumed hearing of a contempt petition filed by advocate HC Arora against Principal Secretary, Health, Vini Mahajan, for the alleged non-compliance of directions issued in June 2014 on a PIL filed by him.
In its orders, the high court had earlier directed the Principal Secretary, Health, to dispose of two representations submitted by the petitioner within four months. Taking up the matter, Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain expressed dissatisfaction by observing that the officer had not minutely examined the representations. Even the issues contained therein were not dealt with.

Mohali fuel dealers cry hoarse


Tribune News Service
Mohali, May 21
The Punjab Cabinet’s decision to impose an additional cess of Re 1 on fuel came delivered another blow to the state’s petrol dealers, especially for those who run their business in the periphery of the UT and along Haryana border.
The dealers in the bordering area were already up in arms against the unfavourable difference in the prices of fuel in Punjab and Chandigarh/Haryana.
“Our petrol stations are already on the verge of being shutting down. Now, the imposition of an additional cess of Re 1 on fuel prices is the last nail in the coffin,” said Ashwinder Mongia, president of the Mohali District Petroleum Dealers Association.
“After imposition of the additional cess, there will be a difference of nearly Rs 7.35 per litre in the prices of petrol and Rs 1.70 per litre in the rates of diesel in Chandigarh and Mohali. It would affect the business of the fuel pumps in the UT’s periphery,” said Mongia.
About 600 petrol pumps in the bordering districts of Mohali, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Ropar Hoshiarpur, Pathankot and on all National/State Highways would be the worst hit and the sales in these areas shall come down by 50 to 80 per cent, claimed petrol dealers here.
“Earlier, we were surviving on the sale of diesel. But the scenario changed when the Chandigarh Administration lowered the VAT in November last,” added Mongia.
“But now with a difference of Rs 1.70 in the rates at Mohali and Chandigarh, the entire sale of the fuel would shift to Chandigarh,” lamented Mongia, adding that the decision would spell doom for petroleum traders across the state.
He added that along with farmers, transporters and general public, the Punjab Government would be on the losing side too as the decision would cost it about Rs 500 crore of VAT collections.
According to the claims of petroleum dealers in Punjab, the decision will affect families of about 10,000 workers at petrol pumps in Punjab, who would be out of job with shutting down of fuel stations.
‘Additional cess the last nail in coffin’
Our petrol stations are already on the verge of being shutting down. Now, the imposition of an additional cess of Rs 1 on fuel prices is the last nail in the coffin. After imposition of the additional cess, there will be a difference of nearly Rs 7.35 per litre in the prices of petrol and Rs 1.70 per litre in the rates of diesel in Chandigarh and Mohali. It would affect the business of the fuel pumps in the UT’s periphery. — Ashwinder Mongia, president, mohali district petroleum dealers association