[op-ed snap] Let them take flight: on Tejas and Kaveri projects

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: TEJAS, Cauvery

Mains level: Need of/expectations reform in Aircraft and engine manufacturing to make India Self reliant in defence sector.


NEWS

CONTEXT

On February 20, the Indian Air Force and the aviation community heaved a collective sigh of relief after the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mark 1, received its long-awaited Final Operational Clearance; this means it is combat-ready and can be exploited to the limits of its approved ‘envelope’.It is not late to declare the Tejas and Kaveri projects as ‘national missions’ .

Problems

  • However, a day later, came a rather unwelcome report: a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) announcement at the show of its decision to shelve the Kaveri turbo-jet engine project. 

Short Term Political Goals

  • Historically, all major aerospace powers have possessed the capability to design airframes as well as power-plants.
  • Until India can design and produce its own aero-engines, the performance and capabilities of any indigenously designed/built aircraft will be seriously limited by the technology that we are permitted to import.
  • India has already had two bitter experiences in this regard. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s sleek and elegant HF-24 Marut fighter, of the 1960s and 1970s, failed to achieve its huge potential as a supersonic fighter for want of a suitable engine.
  • Rather than exert itself to seek alternatives, the government of the day, with stunning myopia, closed the programme.
  • Similarly, many of the problems the Tejas faced emanate from lack of engine thrust.
  • Even as the Kaveri has failed to make an appearance, U.S.-made alternatives such as the General Electric F-404 engine, or even the more powerful F-414, do not deliver adequate thrust for the Tejas Mk 1, to meet all its missions.
  •  For the Tejas Mk IA, Mk II, the LCA Navy, and other aircraft programmes such as the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, India will need turbo-jet engines of even greater thrust.

Ways to make Indigenous Aircraft Industry Prosperous

  •  It is vital for India to develop a family of homegrown jet engines to power indigenous combat aircraft as well as re-engine imported ones.
  • In this context, it is necessary to recognise that both the Tejas and Kaveri projects — which have seen more than their share of headwinds and uncertainty — form key components of India’s technological aspirations.
  •  Unless carefully guided, protected and nurtured, their failure could spell the end of India’s aeronautical industry, or condemn it forever to licensed production.
  • A long production run of, say, 250-300 aircraft for the Tejas and its advanced derivatives is essential if the industry is to hone its design and production skills.

Challenges in Engine Manufacturing

  • The HAL claims to have “manufactured” nearly 5,000 aero-engines of British, French and Russian design, and overhauled 18,000 of them.
  • Since this putative “manufacturing” process involves merely the assembly of imported components, several engine divisions of the HAL have failed to imbibe aspects of design, metallurgy, thermodynamic and aerodynamic engineering as well as the complex tooling and machining process required for the design and manufacture of aero-engines,
  • In 1986, the DRDO’s decades-old Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) was tasked with developing an indigenous power plant for the LCA, which was to replace the U.S. engines being used for the development phase of the aircraft.
  • The first complete prototype Kaveri began tests in 1996, and by 2004 it had flown on a Russian flying test-bed; albeit unsuccessfully.
  •  Since then, the Kaveri has made sporadic progress and the GTRE has been struggling with serious design and performance issues which it has been unable to resolve.
  • As the Kaveri missed successive deadlines, the U.S. import option was mindlessly and gleefully resorted to.
  • It has, at least, on two occasions, approached French and British aero-engine manufacturers for advice and consultancy in operationalising the Kaveri.
  • Despite reportedly attractive offers of performance-enhancement and technology-transfer, the negotiations stalled reportedly on cost considerations. 

Responsibility for failures

  • It is obvious that the onus for repeated setbacks in these projects must lie squarely on India’s political leadership; for its neglect as well as absence of a vision for the aeronautical industry. 
  • There are three more factors: over-estimation by the DRDO of its capabilities compounded by a reluctance to seek advice; inadequate project management and decision-making skills of its scientists; and exclusion of users — the military — from all aspects of the projects.

Way Forward

  • It is still not too late for the government to declare both these projects as ‘national missions’ and initiate urgent remedial actions.
  •  The success of both the Kaveri and Tejas programmes will transform the aerospace scene, and put India in the front ranks of aeronautical nations, perhaps even ahead of China, if the desired degree of resolve and professional rigour can be brought to the fore.
  • If we miss this opportunity, we will remain abjectly import-dependent forever in this vital area.

 

 

Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

[op-ed snap]A case for aggressive diplomacy: on India-Pakistan relations

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:Not Much

Mains level: India Should Change it’s Response and strategy from defensive to aggressive.


NEWS

CONTEXT

Tensions between Pakistan and India post Pulwama are rising and diffusing at the same time.

Confusing behaviour

  • akistan alleged on March 5 that it had thwarted the entry of an Indian submarine into its waters. India responded that Pakistan was indulging in false propaganda.
  • On the same evening, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry issued a statement that its High Commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood, would be returning to Delhiand talks with India on the Kartarpur Corridor would go ahead.

Agenda  behind such acts

  • Pakistan, through its morning assertion, was playing to its domestic audience, while its evening statement was a signal to the international community that it had no further desire to climb the escalation ladder with India.

Winding Down Tensions

  • It was U.S. President Donald Trump who provided the first clear indication of the involvement of major powers in defusing tensions between India and Pakistan.
  •  If the Indian intention post-Pulwama was to isolate Pakistan, that doesn’t seem to have happened.
  • For the two governments, given that the score was level — one had shot down a F-16 and the other had shot down an MiG-21 — they could now respond positively to global concerns.
  • There is little doubt that India got away with its pre-emptive strike in Balakot because Pakistan’s denials that it has nothing to do with fostering groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) carry no credibility, including among thinking members of its own civil society.
  • Further, the JeM even claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror strike.

Past conflicts and Tensions

  • The India-Pakistan nuclear ‘deterrent’ was first put to test by General Pervez Musharraf, who planned the Kargil incursion months after Pakistan went publicly nuclear in response to the Indian nuclear tests of May 11 and 13, 1998.
  • As India began clearing the Kargil heights of the Pakistani Northern Light Infantry masquerading as ‘mujahideen’, there was enormous pressure on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to use the Indian Air Force across the Line of Control after the loss of two MiG aircraft.
  •  But Vajpayee held firm against both public and IAF pressure.
  • Pakistan’s conduct during Kargil exposed the state as irresponsible and led to numerous international calls for respecting the LoC.
  • Pakistan went to great lengths to obtain its nuclear capability to insulate itself against India and no “miltablishment” can survive there if it’s unable to even the score with India. The nuclear option is built into the trajectory of its survival as a state.
  • During the Kargil war in 1999, after the Parliament attack in 2001, and post the Mumbai attack in 2008, two Prime Ministers of India had the option of retaliation, but they did not exercise it.
  • Instead, India’s patience projected the responsible nature of the state, which was in stark opposition to Pakistan’s tattered credibility.

Way Forward

  • A conventional response to terrorist groups can demonstrate intent, but does very little to whittle down their abilities.
  • Covert capabilities coupled with deft and persistent diplomacy is the only way forward in such difficult circumstances.
  • The government’s inability to reach out to Kashmiris and its actions against the Hurriyat leadership at a time when the separatists have lost control of the public mood underline an uncaring attitude.
  • This has also created a fertile ground for Kashmiri youth to join terrorist ranks.
  • Indian state responses cannot be reactive to the agenda of terrorist groups, howsoever brutal their actions are.
  • A calm, mature, informed and long-term strategy with aggressive diplomacy at its core, one that leverages India’s economic strength, remains the country’s best bet to deal with the terrorist threat from Pakistani soil.

 

 

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Excavations in Kutch shed light on early Harappan custom

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Indus Valley civilization

Mains level: Various features of IVC


News

  • Archaeological excavations undertaken by a group of researchers have shed light on the custom and burial rituals that were prevalent during the early Harappan phase.
  • The team which camped in Khatiya village of Kutch unearthed several skeletal remains from a cemetery-like burial site where 26 graves out of the nearly 300-odd ones were excavated.

Burial Practices

  • The rectangular graves, each of varying dimensions and assembled using stones, contained skeletons that were placed in a specific manner.
  • They were oriented east-west with the heads positioned on the eastern side.
  • Next to the legs on the western side, the archaeologists found earthen pots and pottery shards and other artifacts, including conch-shell bangles, beads made of stones and terracotta, numerous lithic tools and grinding stones.
  • Of the 26 graves that were excavated, the biggest was 6.9 metres long and the smallest 1.2 metres long.
  • The skeletal remains of human beings in most of them were found to be disintegrated.
  • The presence of animal skeletons along with those of humans were also recorded in a few graves.
  • The skeletal remains will be sent to various laboratories to run tests to understand the age, gender, circumstances that could have led to the death and the salient features of the respective DNA.

What’s so special with it?

  • Interestingly, the researchers found the mode of burial to be non-uniform.
  • Instances of primary burial and secondary burial (when the remains of the primary burial are exhumed and moved to another grave) were found.
  • The researchers claimed that the mud pots bore similarities with those that were unearthed from other Harappan sites in Kot Diji, Amri and Nal in Pakistan and Surkotada and Dhaneti in Kutch.
  • This gives evidences to the trade network that could have existed during the early phase of the Harappan civilization from 3300 BCE to 2600 BCE.
Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Scientists transform black soot into a boon for water purification

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievement of Indians in science & technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Black Carbon Soot

Mains level: Effective treatment of Waste water


News

  • A group of Indian scientists have come up with a new process which promises to help utilize black carbon soot, which is a major air pollutant, for treating industrial waste containing highly poisonous organic dyes.

What is Black Carbon Soot?

  • Soot includes the fine black particles, chiefly composed of carbon, produced by incomplete combustion of coal, oil, wood, or other fuels.
  • Soot can consist of acids, chemicals, metals, soils, and dust.
  • It is emitted from gas and diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and other processes that involve burning of fossil fuel. It is known to be highly carcinogenic.
  • Organic dyes, in turn, are an important component of industrial waste and are generally non-biodegradable and deadly.
  • They enter water bodies and make them not only unfit for human consumption but also highly poisonous.

What has scientists transformed?

  • The scientists have converted black soot into graphene nanosheets.
  • They utilized the nanosheets to remove organic dyes such as crystal violet, rhodamine B, and methylene blue from industrial waste.
  • Treatment of waste water with organic dyes has remained a major challenge. The available methods are generally costly and cumbersome.
  • Black soot is available everywhere and even a lay person can convert it into graphene nanosheets at home.
  • The scientists tested the sustainability and the suitability of the overall process by using the treated water for growing wheat.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

J&K draft of return policy for militants

Note4Students

Mains Paper 3: Security| Linkages of organized crime with terrorism

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Policy

Mains level: Militancy and cross-border terrorism in India


News

  • These are the key points of a new “reintegration policy” draft that is under the consideration of the government to encourage militants hailing from the state to give up arms.

Draft Reintegration Policy

  • J&K govt is considering a policy for return of youth from militancy.
  • The policy draft is presently at the pre-SAC stage.
  • It is subject to clearance by the State Home Department and the Chief Secretary.
  • The State Administrative Council (SAC) is the body governing J&K, which is under President’s rule, and is led by the Governor and includes his four advisors and a Chief Secretary.

Features of the Policy

  • The new initiative addresses the need for rehabilitation at a policy level through a two-pronged approach: reformative measures and opportunities of livelihood.
  • There is also provision for a monthly stipend of Rs 6,000 for a militant who surrenders with a view to “encourage him to join the mainstream”.
  • The initiative, however, will not cover militants found to have been involved in “heinous crimes”.

Why such move?

  • The Army after the deadly Pulwama attack has made it very that anyone who picks up the gun, will be executed unless he surrenders.
  • There is a very good surrender policy being initiated by the government so that they can join the mainstream.
  • It is essential for the government to demonstrate its will to reach out to alienated youth.
  • The successful implementation of a surrender policy is of utmost importance in J&K as there are a large number of surrendered or released militants (around 25,000).
  • The successful rehabilitation of one hardcore surrendered or released militant will motivate others to follow suit.

Way Forward

  • The proposed policy is essentially a revised version of earlier initiatives but with a renewed focus on socio-economic re-integration.
  • It will be a haste to expect miracles overnight.
  • It will take a lot of effort on the part of everyone to implement it successfully, especially the civil society and political establishment have a major role in motivating and bringing them back into the mainstream.
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism

India launches third IT corridor in China

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy| Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Xuzhou IT Corridor Project

Mains level:  India’s IT Sector


News

  • India has launched its third IT corridor in China that will facilitate partnerships between Indian and Chinese companies.

Xuzhou IT Corridor Project

  • China being a dominant manufacturing country requires software, IT and IT enabled services to transform towards smart manufacturing.
  • The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) entered into a partnership with China’s Xuzhou city from Jiangsu Province in China to help develop the IT corridor.
  • The IT industry body has already launched such corridors at Dalian and Guiyang cities to cash in on the burgeoning Chinese IT industry market.
  • These have already sprung up opportunities to the tune of 24 Million RMB (USD 4.6 million) and 62 Million RMB (USD 8.9 million) respectively, it said.

Benefits

  • The first two corridors have paved the way for cooperation in co-create mode in the emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and Analytics in the Chinese market.
  • Xuzhou is the geographic and economic center of over 20 cities and in China’s regional economic layout, the city has slowly established itself as an industrial powerhouse.
  • Xuzhou is an important comprehensive national transportation hub and its proximity from major industrial and economic hub like Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Suzhou.
  • This will facilitate match-making between Indian companies wanting to collaborate with companies in Huai Hai economic zone looking.
  • This partnership will help create more jobs in Xuzhou and India and facilitating talent transfer between the two countries.

About NASSCOM

  • The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) is a trade association of Indian Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.
  • Established in 1988, NASSCOM is a non-profit organisation.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.