The Phoenix Moment: Challenges Confronting the Indian Left (Praful Bidwai) : Mr. Praful Bidwai (June 12, 1949-June 23, 2015) was an Indian journalist, political analyst, and activist on issues of peace, global justice and human rights. Enormous research, sharp analysis, strong and clear arguments and a bright narrative had always characterised Mr. Praful Bidwai’s writings. In his book The Phoenix Moment Challenges Confronting the Indian Teft,, Mr. Bidwai investigates whether the Left’s core agenda of progressive or socialist transformation can yet be reinvented and restored              to

relevance—either with its own agency or through other forces, formations and initiatives. The first half of the book covers colonial and immediate post­colonial times, and the second half explores Kerala and West Bengal, both ruled by the Left for long time. Each State has two chapters, one to explain the Left’s early achievements and the second to track its later degradation to patronage politics, insulated from mass movements.

The research is astounding, across party archives, newspapers, historical works, as well as analyses of Indian and global politics from different perspectives, and intellectual and political debates around socialist and Marxist theories.

Defence

IAF successfully test-fires Akash missile : India on January 28, 2016 test-fired its indigenously-built surface- to-air Akash missile from complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Odisha. It was as part of a user trial mission in which three rounds of test were ‘carried out by Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel aiming at para- barrel targets.

The Akash (sky) is a mid-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. It is developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India under the integrated guided-missile development programme (IGMDP). IGMDP is also involved in the development of the Nag, Agni and Trishul missiles and Prithvi ballistic missile. The first missile was delivered to the IAF in March 2012. The missile was formally inducted into the IAF in July 2015. The missile can fly at supersonic speeds ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5 and can, engage aerial targets up to a range of approximately 25 kilometres.

DAC approves major changes in Defence Procurement Procedure :

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Union Defence Minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar on January 11, 2016 approved major changes in the new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016. The DPP 2016 allows government funds up to 90 percent of development costs to private companies to push research and innovation. It also aims to enhance private sector participation and speed up procurement process. The new DPP will streamline defence acquisitions and give a big impetus to indigenisation through the Make in India initiative.

As per DPP 2016, a new category will be created to promote domestic manufacturing, including government funding for Research & Development and recognition of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in technology development. Under the new category for Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured (IDDM) equipment, it will be mandatory for 40 percent of the content to be sourced locally. Validity
of the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) has been brought down to six months from the earlier one year. It will help the defence forces to issue tenders faster. It also includes addition of the policy to fund’ Indian private entities in R&D to encourage more local development.

Indigenously built ASW Corvette INS Kadmatt commissioned in Visakhapatnam : Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette INS Kadmatt was on January 7, 2016 commissioned in the Indian Navy at naval dockyard in Visakhapatnam by Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral R. K. Dhowan. INS Kadmatt is the second ship of Project 28 (P28) class ASW corvettes and is the latest ship after Shivalik class, Kolkata class and INS Kamorta. In all these ships, an excessive amount of weapons and sensors had been integrated to provide a Common Operational Picture (COP). The ship was manned by 13 officers and 180 sailors with Commander Mahesh Chandra Moudgil as the first

Commanding Officer. The ship is an integral part of the Eastern Fleet under the Eastern Naval Command to safeguard the Eastern Seaboard of India.

INS Kadmatt was designed 90 percent indigenously by the Directorate of Naval Design (DND) and which is the Navy’s Design Organisation, undertaking indigenous design of all surface combatants. INS Kadmatt is named after one of the large islands amongst the Lakshadweep group of Islands off the west coast of India. The ship had been constructed using high-grade steel produced in India. With a displacement of 3,500 tonnes, the sleek and magnificent ship spans 109 metres in length and 14 metres at the beam. It is propelled by four diesel engines to achieve speeds in excess of 25 knots with an endurance of 3,450 nautical miles. The ship had a potent strike capability with guns, close-in weapon system, heavy-weight torpedoes and anti­submarine rockets. Very soon, the ship will also be fitted with vertically launchec Surface-to-Air Missiles to neutralise


enemy missiles. This second ship of Project 28 has a low radio, acoustic, magnetic and IR signature owing to “X’ shaped hull form, raft-mounted engines and an IR suppression system. The unique architecture used to fit the engines on a separate mounting reduces its underwater noise, thereby making it difficult to detect by sonars of enemy ships and submarines. As an ASW Corvette, the ship carries on the legacy of her predecessor INS Kadmatt (P 78), which served the Indian Navy for 24 years from December 23, 1968 to November 30, 1992.

India and Japan conduct joint Coast Guard exercise Sahyog-Kaijin 2016 : The Coast Guards of India and Japan on January 15, 2016 conducted their 15th joint exercise off the coast of Chennai. India’s Coast Guard vessel Samudra Pehredar and the Japanese vessel Echigo were berthed at Chennai Port for the bilateral training called Sahyog-Kaijin 2016. The highlight of the joint exercise was anti-piracy. However, search and rescue operations and interoperability between the two forces was also given emphasis. The exercise also involved Indian Coast Guard ships like Rajkamal, Vishwast, Rajtarang, Hovercraft, C-415, C-417, one Dornier and one Chetak helicopter.

The Sahayog-Kaijin is a bilateral exercise, which is a part of the cooperative arrangements between two Coast Guards for the last 15 years. The exercise is also a part of the Memorandum on Cooperation, which was signed between India and Japan in 2006. It is a biennial bilateral exercise and the venue shifts in both countries on alternate occasions.

Indo-French military exercise Shakti-2016 conducted : India and France conducted their eight-day counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency joint exercise Shakti-2016 in Rajasthan from January 8 to 16, 2016. This was the third edition in the series of bilateral exercises under this banner and was held in Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan’s Bikaner. The exercise focused on counter-terrorism operations in backdrop of semi-urban terrain under United Nations Mandate. It is an important step for the armies to train together and gain from each other’s rich operational experience. French contingent comprising 56 personnel of 35th Infantry Regiment of 7th Armoured Brigade, which had taken part in the Afghan war, participated in the Shakti-2016. The Indian contingent to participate in the exercise was the 2nd Battalion of Garhwal Rifles, part of the Sapta Shakti Command. Both countries have troops deployed in counter-insurgency and counter­terrorist operations and therefore sharing each other’s military experiences pays meaningful dividends.

The French 35th Infantry Regiment also participated in India’s 67th Republic Day Parade on January 26, 2016, creating history as it was for the first time that a foreign army contingent took part in the celebrations.

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