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Saurav Jha
Saturday , July 19, 2014

Trends in combat jet sensors of relevance to the Indian Air Force's transformation


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In 2007 during the run up to the medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) decision, the then air chief had remarked that what matters today is not the exterior of the aircraft but what is inside it. This was of course an allusion to the centrality that combat jet tactical avionics has in determining the efficacy of the same. Indeed it is primarily for this reason that 40-60 percent of the cost of a modern fighter can be attributed to the on board tactical avionics package and associated software. As the Indian air force (IAF) transforms itself over this decade it would be worthwhile to look at the transition it is making in terms of combat sensors through potential new inductions and upgrades. The term avionics was coined by journalist Philip J Klass who condensed 'aviation electronics' to arrive at it. Modern on board avionics as such includes all primary....


Saturday , July 05, 2014

Putting the Indian Army's desire to import assault rifles in perspective


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Not all Armies in the world fight with a domestically developed standard issue rifle. The Indian Army (IA) however is not one of them and for the past two decades has been equipped with the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) built and Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) designed INSAS family of rifles. Nevertheless in a bid to acquire a rifle suited to 'modern battlefields' IA is looking for a next generation assault rifle with modular, multi-calibre characteristics whereby the same basic lower receiver can fire bullets of different calibre through a rapid field change of barrel, bolt carrier group (BCG) and of course the magazine. IA's current approach to procuring this purported new species of assault rifle (AR) for its infantrymen seems two pronged. On the one hand IA has rolled out a tender for an AR of imported design that it intends to get licensed produced by OFB while....


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Safe city concept lays the groundwork for Modi's smart cities


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The unsavoury events of the past decade, ranging from mass terrorist attacks to public crimes against women has created the need for safer Indian cities. As such the 'safe city' concept has taken hold in India with the country's first ever such consolidated project taking off in Surat with more underway. Safe city is somewhat synonymous with the 'smart city' concept given that the basic internet protocol (IP) based surveillance setup for both are similar. Moreover given that the BJP's Prime Ministerial Candidate Narendra Modi has mentioned 'smart cities' as part of his potential agenda in government and has promised to set up some 100 new such cities in India, it may be worthwhile to take a closer look at the public safety aspects of a smart city under the safe city paradigm as it is being currently envisioned in India. It is in Modi's home state of Gujarat....


Monday , June 30, 2014

In conversation with Chairman of the Atomic Energy Comission


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Narendra Modi's government has indicated a renewed push in the area of civil nuclear energy, which is a key component of India's strategy to enhance energy access as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover given the new government's desire to operationalize India's various bilateral civil nuclear agreements it would be worthwhile to get a clearer perspective on how safety, liability and nuclear commerce related issues stack up in India today. And with the stage set for India's potential entry into the Nuclear Supplier's Group besides other key international agreements, which in turn will make it easier to register significant growth in Indian nuclear exports in the days ahead. Geek at Large caught up a while ago with the Chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, Dr RK Sinha to discuss these issues. Dr Sinha is of course also one of the chief architects of....


Monday , June 16, 2014

Guest Post #8: A quick primer on the real dynamics of the Iraq situation by A Durai


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Like Sudan, Iraq has a large problem of uniting two ethnicities - Arab and Kurd into a united nation state with equal rights for both. Iraq under Saddam and the post-Saddam nation failed to unify the nation, wreaking division within the country on ethnic lines and ultimately laying the ground for a further sectarian split between Sunni and Shia. Over the last few years, post-Saddam Iraq has been precipitously corroding on these lines. The north is slowly being transformed into a Kurdish autonomous state acting to in effect seceding from central government control. Similarly, the west and central regions have become Sunni territories mobilizing on the fear that Iran and sectarian Shia ideologies threaten their way of life. Many Sunnis also feel that they have been side-lined in the new Iraq. Some interlocutors believe that the Maliki government's failure to integrate the Sunni populations is due to the influence....


Thursday , June 12, 2014

In Snowden's Wake - A PRISMatic view of India-US relations


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It came as a surprise to many Indians last year when it was publicly learnt thanks to whistle blower Edward Snowden's revelations that India was the fifth most spied upon country by the US National Security Agency's (NSA's) PRISM cyber-surveillance program. Perhaps the Indian people are a little naïve about such things, but it should certainly not have come as a surprise to the Indian establishment. The response of the Indian foreign ministry at that time however also seemed a little too naïve, given that the then Indian foreign minister seemingly sought to downplay PRISM activities targeted at India. The muted response notwithstanding, the fact is that the US is increasingly leveraging its lead in cyber affairs for geo-strategic gain and is both deepening and widening its intelligence activities in India. Given that Indian and American interests do not necessarily converge on a variety of areas the Indian establishment must....


Friday , June 06, 2014

India and the Pacific Alliance


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The Pacific Alliance (PA) is an emerging trade bloc comprising Chile, Mexico, Peru and Colombia. It accounts for about a third of Latin America's GDP in dollar terms and is developing EU-like characteristics sans a monetary union of course. It has been denounced by Brazil and the Bolivarians in South America as a Western imperialist project to check the tide of Leftist movements in the region. However the political economy in the PA countries may ultimately want to tread a more centrist path provided they have a partner to assist them in the same. India could be that partner. China is looking to rebalance its economy and has to draw down its manufacturing estate in order to save whatever is left of its natural environment. This means that before this decade is out China may no longer drive resource based activities in the PA. At the same time the....


Tuesday , June 03, 2014

Guest Post #7: Chimera - A Review by Mihir Shah


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First-time novelist Vivek Ahuja's book, Chimera, boasts a genesis as unconventional as the subject it explores. It began, not as an aspiring novelist's solitary effort at penning his first masterpiece, but as a military enthusiast's casual attempt to write a fictitious scenario involving an India-China conflict on an internet forum. I watched with great interest as the story grew from that attempt, with dozens of enthusiastic readers offering critiques, advice, brickbats, and wish-lists to the author as he posted each new chapter, always at a pace that seemed excruciatingly slow to his readers. So when I found out that the series of posts were going to be collated, edited, and published in the form of a novel, I was keen on laying my hands on a copy as soon as it came out. One of the first things I noticed as I began reading Chimera was that....


Saturday , May 31, 2014

Boost public-private partnerships in Indian industry to make the most out of FDI in Defence


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Last October India's flagship 'make' (high-tech systems) program under the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) -2011, the Tactical Communication System (TCS), finally got some momentum going when the Ministry of Defence (MOD) issued staff qualitative requirements to the previously down-selected competitors for this program. Though long overdue, forward movement on TCS marks the beginning of an era wherein synergistic public-private models will be pursued towards furthering indigenisation. For instance under the 'make' category, 80 percent of the cost of development and prototyping will be borne by the MOD while the remainder is to be put up by the developing agency (DA). Incidentally, over 150 new projects under the 'make' category are going be rolled out this year in order to both defray risks as well as augment capabilities. Other initiatives that include the sharing of government held intellectual property with private companies in order to raise their technological base and thereby....


Thursday , May 29, 2014

Evolving radar systems for C-RAM roles in the future


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Insurgent organizations all over the world are looking beyond small arms and shoulder launched weapons that are the usual staple of their arsenals. Middle Eastern groups such as Hezbollah and assorted Iraqi insurgent units have actually graduated to operating long range rockets of different diameters besides increasing the number of smaller tube artillery systems such as mortars at their disposal. It is not surprising therefore that it is in Israel and in US occupied Iraq that the means to counter rocket, artillery, mortar (C-RAM) rounds were first deployed and tested. Although, indirect firepower capability in the hands of terrorists is a concern, the accretion of precision rocket artillery systems by the Chinese is of greater import to India. It is therefore time to closer look at what constitutes the core of C-RAM systems and how the detection and guidance aspects of these technologies have evolved since some of them maybe....


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More about Saurav Jha

Saurav Jha studied economics (and debated politics) at Presidency College, Calcutta, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He writes and researches on global energy and security issues and is a regular contributor to publications such as World Politics Review, The Diplomat and Le Monde Diplomatique, and has written for Deccan Herald, The Telegraph and Hindustan Times. He is the Consulting Editor of Geopolitics magazine. His first book, The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power, was published in March 2010 to excellent reviews. He is presently working on The Heat and Dust Project, a quirky travelogue, based on an intense budget journey through India, co-authored with his wife Devapriya.

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