BHARAT DARSHAN – 3-in-1 CELEBRATION OF HOLY DEATH ON WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 14, 2018
Wednesday February 14, 2018 is very significant as the day symbolizes 3-in-1 Celebration of Holy Death from both Indian and Christian perspectives. There is an interesting coincidence of three holiday traditions; 1. Maha Shivaratri, 2. Ash Wednesday, and 3. Valentine’s Day.
Indians celebrate Maha Shivaratri in the Month of Magha, Krishna Paksha( Waning Phase of Lunar Cycle), on fourth day called Chaturdashi.
In essence it is celebration of Divine Love to defend man’s mortal existence from premature loss of life.
In Hindu Mythology, Lord Kamadeva or Cupid known as Lord Manmadha shot his magic arrow to facilitate romantic union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati to save humanity from actions of evil power. But Kamadeva pays heavy price for stimulating Lord Shiva’s romantic interest while He meditated with absolute stillness of mind. Later, Lord Shiva restores Kamadeva’s life for he acted to help humanity to save them from their suffering.
Many Hindus observe fasting on the night before Maha Shivaratri Day and spend the night in devotional worship of Lord Shiva to thank him for His Mercy, Grace, and Compassion in responding to man’s fears about Death. Man conquers his Fear of Death by simply burning his desires. In Indian Tradition, Lord Shiva adorns Himself by covering His body with ‘Ashes’ that signify burnt desires. Man keeps his Love of God by sacrificing desires for material comfort and sensual pleasure.
Ash Wednesday is again celebration of God’s Love. God sent Jesus to save man from Sin and Death. Jesus prepares Himself for His earthly mission for 40 days by fasting and praying. He prepared for His sacrifice through crucifixion to atone for man’s sinful conduct. Ash Wednesday heralds the beginning of ‘Lent Season’ that culminates in Easter Celebration of Resurrection of Jesus after He died on Cross.
Valentine’s Day celebrates romantic interpersonal relationships between men and women. For man is mortal being, man desires to keep feelings of Love alive even after death. Man celebrates enduring and abiding quality of Love for it transcends barriers of Time.
PUMA PUNKU DIVINE SOCIETY
ASH WEDNESDAY IS ABOUT DEATH
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Today is Ash Wednesday, the holiday marking the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of purification in which Christians often find something to “give up.”
This ritual makes a lot of sense even in modern secular terms. We have juice fasts and cleanses, after all. And indeed, the idea that it could be helpful for all of us to try to get rid of, or at least pause, the superfluous things in our life to focus more on the essential is an idea that is present in spirituality both Eastern and Western, as well as in secular folklore.
Fasting yields spiritual benefits because it is a kind of spiritual workout. Physical exercise works by putting stress on our muscles, and this strengthens them. Something like dieting is worthwhile not just because we expect to get some material benefit from it, like lower weight or better health, but also the spiritual benefit of becoming less attached to material things.
But Lent is about much more than dieting. It’s about death.
For starters, on Ash Wednesday, the priest draws a cross on your forehead with ashes, a reminder that “dust we are and to dust we shall return.” That means death.
This is a part of the Catholic faith that I don’t usually like. Not that death makes me uncomfortable — I believe in life everlasting — but because the faith has been corrupted by the idea that it is simply a get-out-of-hell card, a set of legalistic or pious requirements that one must accomplish to save one’s soul. Christianity shouldn’t just be about avoiding hell — it’s about an encounter with a person whom, we believe, is love made flesh.
The point about ashes and turning away from fleshly reality also offers a reminder of another folk belief that has too long been associated with Christianity: namely, the idea that this world is wholly corrupt and that the body and material goods are to be despised. This belief is actually condemned as a heresy by the Catholic Church, because the Bible affirms that God loves the material world he created.
And yet, while material things like food and drink and sex are all well and good, it is still the case that they are not the most important things in life. And moreover, it is still the case that those things can enslave us. “I can quit any time!” says the smoker, puffing in the rain with a grimace on his face. Tuning down some pleasures might make us realize how much of a hold they have on us.
A reminder of our maturity is perhaps one of the most salutary things we can experience. We are all mortal, and yet we spend our entire lives trying to distract ourselves from this fact. On a day-to-day basis, almost all of us like to think and live and behave as if we will live forever. But we won’t. If you were to die tomorrow — or 40 days from now — what would you change? What would you do differently? Lent pushes us to ask these questions.
Lent is also about death for a much more fundamental reason, one which is much less secular than platitudes about the importance of clean living. Lent is spiritual preparation for the celebration of the Easter cycle, when Jesus Christ was crucified before rising from the dead three days later.
Jesus chose to pour out his divine love on the cross, to give himself fully to us, in an acrobatic act of love that would in a mysterious way bind us to him. Christians, then, are called to imitate him by “dying” — that is to say, by renouncing everything apart from this divine love, everything apart from love of God and love of fellow man.
This, rather than Lent, is the real meaning of Ash Wednesday. I hope you can partake in it.
BEIJING DOOMED – “INFORMISATION” – THE ROLE OF INFORMATION IN WARFARE
In my War against Evil Red Empire, I use ‘Information’ as my weapon of choice to predict sudden, unexpected downfall of arrogant regime in Beijing. There are two key pieces of ‘Information’ that I discovered in the Books of Bible that help me to plan my attack using Heavenly Strike rather than man’s military power.
The Book of Isaiah, Chapter 47, and Book of REVELATION, Chapter 18 provide Information as to how Natural Force, Natural Mechanisms, Natural Events, and Natural Factors can bring about Downfall of Evil Power on Earth.
THE ‘GLOBALISATION’ OF CHINA’S MILITARY POWER -BBC NEWS
Clipped from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-43036302
Jonathan Marcus Diplomatic correspondent @Diplo1 on Twitter
Image copyright Reuters. Image caption. Experts say China is developing weaponry tailored for export to specific markets, including some deemed too sensitive for Western manufacturers
China’s modernization of its armed forces is proceeding faster than many analysts expected.
Now, according to experts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies – the IISS – in London, it is China and no longer Russia, that increasingly provides the benchmark against which Washington judges the capability requirements for its own armed forces.
This is especially true in terms of air and naval forces – the focus of China’s modernization effort. Events in Europe mean that for the US Army, it is still largely Russian capabilities that provide the benchmark threat.
This trend has been chronicled in the Military Balance, the annual assessment of global military capabilities and Defence spending, published by the IISS since 1959.
Of course, transformation of the Chinese military has been under way for some time. But now a significant way-point has been reached – or is very close – that will make it the “peer competitor” for Washington.
Ahead of publication of this year’s Military Balance later this week, I sat down with a group of IISS experts to try to tease out more of the details of this trend, providing a powerful narrative to the annual compendium’s tables and statistics.
China’s progress and technical abilities are remarkable – from ultra-long-range conventional ballistic missiles to fifth generation fighter jets. Last year the first hull of China’s latest warship – the Type 55 cruiser – was put into the water. Its capabilities would give any NATO navy pause for thought.
China is working on its second aircraft carrier. It is revamping its military command structure to give genuine joint headquarters involving all the key services. In terms of Artillery, Air Defence and Land Attack it has weapons that out-range anything the US can deploy.
Since the late 1990s, when it received an influx of advanced Russian technology, the Chinese Navy could recapitalize the bulk of its surface and subsurface fleets.
In the air, its new single-seat fighter, the J-20, is said by the Chinese to be in operational service.
It is what is known in the trade as a “fifth generation fighter”, meaning that it incorporates stealth technology; it has a supersonic cruising speed; and highly integrated avionics.
IISS experts remain skeptical.
“The Chinese Air Force”, they say, “still needs to develop suitable tactics to operate the low-observable jet and must come up with doctrines to mix these ‘fifth generation’ warplanes with earlier ‘fourth generation models’.
“Still, China’s progress is clear,” they say, “you can add to these aircraft a whole range of capable air-to-air missiles that are every bit on a par with those in Western arsenals.”
This year’s Military Balance devotes a whole chapter to developments in Chinese and Russian air-launched weapons which they see as a key test for western dominance.
The US and its allies have waged air campaigns since the end of the Cold War and have lost very few aircraft. But this dominance, according to the IISS, may be increasingly challenged. China, for example, is developing a very long-range air-to-air missile intended specifically to strike at tanker and command and control aircraft that now orbit out of harm’s way; essential but vulnerable elements in any air operation.
The authors of the Military Balance argue China’s air-to-air missile developments by 2020, “will likely force the US and its regional allies to re-examine not only their tactics, techniques and procedures, but also direction of their own combat-aerospace development programmes”.
On land the Chinese army is lagging behind in this modernization effort according to the IISS. Only about half of its equipment is serviceable in terms of modern combat.
But even here progress is being made. China has set a goal of 2020 as the date to achieve both “mechanization” and what it calls “informisation“. Quite what China means by this is latter term is unclear, but Beijing has been watching the developing role of information in warfare and seeking to adapt this to its own particular circumstances.
Image copyright AFP. Image caption. An armed Chinese drone of the type for sale to other countries
China has one clear strategic aim in mind to which many of its new weapons systems are tailored. In event of a conflict, this is to push US military power as far away from its shores as possible, ideally deep into the Pacific. This strategy is known in military jargon as “anti-access area denial” – sometimes abbreviated as A2AD. This explains China’s focus on long-range air and maritime systems that can hold the US Navy’s carrier battle groups at risk.
So as a military player China has pretty well joined the Premier League. But this though is not the end of Beijing’s global military impact. It is also pursuing an ambitious arms export strategy. Often China is willing to sell advanced technologies that other countries either do not have, or are unwilling to sell to all but their closest allies.
The market for armed drones is a case in point. This is a rapidly spreading technology that raises huge questions about the boundary between peace and war. The US, which was one of the pioneers in this field, has refused to sell sophisticated armed drones to anyone except a limited number of its closest NATO allies like the United Kingdom. France, which already operates US-supplied Reaper drones, has plans to arm drones as well.
China has had no such constraints, displaying impressive unmanned aerial vehicles along the various munitions that they can carry at arms shows around the world. The IISS Military Balance says that China has sold its armed UAVs to a number of countries including Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Myanmar, among others.
This is a very good example of unintended consequences. Washington’s reluctance to sell this technology leaves the field open to Beijing. Inevitably this has a wider role in the spread of such weapons, encouraging other countries who operate UAVs solely for intelligence gathering purposes to seek armed variants as well.
US and Western arms exporters see China as a growing commercial threat. Compared with even a decade ago, there is a serious Chinese presence in the marketplace, offering good quality equipment. China, as the armed UAV example illustrates, is also willing to enter markets which many Western manufacturers, or their governments, see as being too sensitive.
And as the IISS experts told me, China tends to win on all aspects of the deal. Typically Chinese weaponry will give you 75% of capability of the available Western technology for 50% of the price. In business terms it’s a strong offer.
Image copyright EPA. Image caption. The Thai army testing out a newly purchased Chinese-manufactured VT4 main battle tank in January 2018
China’s ground warfare exports are less impressive. They still have to compete for customers with countries like Russia and Ukraine. But when Kiev couldn’t meet the timeframe for a tank deal with Thailand in 2014, the Thais bought Chinese VT4 tanks instead. Last year Thailand went back for more.
IISS experts say that China is also trying to develop weaponry tailored to specific markets. They point to a new light tank for example intended for African countries, whose roads and infrastructure would not be able to cope with many of the heavier models offered by others.
China’s growing role as a source of sophisticated weaponry is something that is worrying many countries and not just its neighbours. Western air forces have enjoyed some three decades of dominance. But the “anti-access” strategy of the Chinese has provided weapons that could easily be employed by others to do the same thing.
A Western European country may never face China in a conflict, but it could well face sophisticated Chinese weapons systems in the hands of others. As one IISS expert put it, “the perception that you will enter a low-risk environment when intervening overseas, now needs to be questioned.”
RED CHINA’S NEOCOLONIALISM POSES THREAT BEYOND TIBET’S BORDERS
Red China’s doctrine of Neocolonialism is not limited to colonization of Tibet. Red China’s Expansionism has already snared several countries of Africa.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
SOUTH AFRICA’S TIBET PROBLEM: AN INTERVIEW WITH CHINA’S PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER TWO, LOBSANG SANGAY – DAILY MAVERICK
On Monday 5 February, Lobsang Sangay, the president of the Tibetan government-in-exile, arrived in South Africa for a four-day visit. The Department of Home Affairs couldn’t stop him because, unlike the Dalai Lama, he doesn’t travel on refugee papers. KEVIN BLOOM spoke to the “sikyong” about realpolitik, the influence of Beijing, and the environmental catastrophe that will be visited upon the planet if China doesn’t cease its exploitation of the Tibetan plateau.
I. Pieces of silver
“The occupation of Tibet started with a road.”
Sentences like these, because they indicate that you are in the presence of a storyteller, are an invitation to shut down the chattering mind; to simply and unreservedly listen. Even more so when the speaker of the sentence is somebody like Lobsang Sangay, the “sikyong” (president) of the Tibetan government-in-exile. And especially so when the speaker has the power to shame your own government – when his sentences, like the one above, are used to set the scene for the contextual parallels between Communist China’s behavior on the Tibetan plateau in the last century and its behavior in Africa today.
“The Chinese army were so polite, so nice,” said the sikyong, about the first visitors to travel up that road in 1950. “Children used to push them and slap them and pinch them, and they just kept smiling. The Tibetan workers who helped build the road were paid in silver coins. Later we found that the Chinese government deliberately built silver coin factories, near Chengdu, for this purpose. The question, when the Chinese troops came up the road, was to surrender or to fight. There was not much consensus among the ruling elite. A few of them were already siding with the Chinese government, saying, ‘Communism is good’.”
And it was here, according to the sikyong, that the mould for China’s modern expansionist drive had originally been fashioned and cast – because, by the time the 1959 uprising failed, forcing the Dalai Lama into exile in India, it had been discovered that these supporters of Chairman Mao had taken payment in silver coins too.
“So, you can clearly see the template,” said the sikyong, “not just in Africa, but in many places – Europe and Australia included. I’ve been saying this for a number of years.”
Which was no empty boast: the public record bore it out. Problem was, the South African government had been doing their utmost to ensure that such things weren’t said on local soil. In the last nine years, the Dalai Lama – who had transferred his political power to the sikyong in 2011 – had been denied a visa by the Department of Home Affairs three times. In 2009, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people (an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, Bodhisattva of Compassion), was refused entry to the country for a peace conference. In 2011, he was barred from coming for his old friend Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday. In 2014, the good people in Pretoria stopped him from attending the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.
But at each visa refusal, even though it was obvious to the world’s press, and even though China had publicly thanked South Africa for its “correct position” on the matter, our government played dumb. In December 2015, one month after the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation, where President Xi Jinping had pledged $60-billion to Africa for infrastructure projects and had promised to “work closely” with President Jacob Zuma in the creation of 10 special economic zones, the head of the African Affairs Department in the Beijing Foreign Ministry flat-out confirmed what everyone knew to be true. “We invest a lot of money in South Africa,” he told a delegation of African journalists, “and we can’t allow [the Dalai Lama] to come and spoil the good relations.”
Our government’s response to this bracing dose of reality? They denied that China, or any outside power, held sway over their foreign policy. “On two previous occasions when [the Dalai Lama applied for a visa], the applications were withdrawn by his own officials,” said Clayson Monyela, spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. “In fact, he is welcome to apply for a visa and that application would go through the Department of Home Affairs. It is just unfortunate that on previous occasions we were never given the opportunity to make that determination.”
Unfortunate too, perhaps, that Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, who travels on a United States passport, can’t be so easily denied – with the Dalai Lama, who intentionally travels on refugee papers, Home Affairs can be as intransigent as they like.
“I’m here, in some ways, to remind the South African government of the principles and values on which their Constitution and country was founded,” the sikyong informed Daily Maverick, a few hours after breezing through customs at OR Tambo. “Because of friends around the world, because of support from the international community, South Africa has gained its democracy. So, it’s natural for me to come and say, hey, we need your support now as well.”
II. More (infinitely more) pieces of silver
By all the measurements of modern realpolitik, the sikyong is on a fool’s errand. He may be the first Tibetan to obtain a doctorate in juridical science from Harvard Law School, he may be an expert in international human rights law, democratic constitutionalism, and conflict resolution – his birth-name may even mean “kind-hearted lion” – but he is still up against the essence, the very apotheosis, of historical and contemporary power. The upside? You don’t have to explain any of this to him.
“There was a big story in the media five years ago,” the sikyong said, from across the dining table at the Lamrim Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. “It was about whether the foreign minister of Australia, Bob Carr, would meet with me. So, when I visited parliament, I took the elevator up, the door opened, and there he was, Bob Carr. We just said, ‘hi, hi’. Obviously, he didn’t want to shake my hand. It could compromise his position from a perception point of view.”
Four years later, the sikyong went on, Carr had become a China expert, the director of the Australia China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney. The Australian people, he said, were suddenly suffering from “buyer’s remorse” – Chinese influence in the country had by this point spread from trade into politics and academia and had prompted the launch of a major local inquiry.
The investigation, wrote prominent Australian journalist and television presenter Chris Uhlmann in June 2017, “examined Chinese Communist Party activities that ranged from directing student groups, through threatening pro-democracy advocates to effectively controlling most Chinese-language media in Australia.” Carr’s institute, Uhlmann further noted, had been backed by billionaire property developers with links to the CCP.
The much bigger story, however, the story that for the sikyong would one day affect not just Australia or South Africa but ultimately the entire world, was the story of China’s exploitation of Tibet’s resources. It was no coincidence, said the sikyong, that the Mandarin appellation for Tibet – Xizang – meant “Western Treasure”. This proved, he claimed, that China had “always been aware” of the wealth in the Tibetan highlands. “Why do you think Chinese phones are so cheap?” he asked. “It’s because of the lithium on the Tibetan plateau.”
As the sikyong had written in a widely shared Guardian piece in August 2017, it wasn’t just lithium – it was oil and gas and (more disturbingly) water. At an average elevation of 4,000 meters and a surface area of 2.5 million square kilometers, the Tibetan plateau holds the largest store of glacial ice after the Earth’s two poles: hence its other ‘moniker’, “the third pole”. All 10 of the major river systems in Asia originate on the plateau, the sikyong reminded Daily Maverick, and so constitute a lifeline for nearly 2 billion people.
“China has 19% of the world’s population but only 12% of its fresh water,” he said. “Already, 400 million are facing a scarcity. The situation in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is worse. All of these are dependent on the water tower of Tibet. You can clearly see where it is leading.”
Hydro-damming, explained the sikyong, was diverting more and more of the precious resource into China. But the damming policy, together with unchecked mineral extraction and the effects of climate change, would ultimately melt the glaciers and destroy Tibet’s ecosystems, which would result in catastrophe for the citizens of China too.
As the sikyong put it in his Guardian piece: “Tibet symbolizes the three crises that confront Asia today: a natural resources crisis, an environmental and a climate crisis. These three are interlinked and potentially pose a threat to the ecological well-being and climate security not just of Asia but even of Europe, North America and Australia.”
Africa, of course, would not be spared – the Chinese road, when all was said and done, went everywhere. And so, what about hope? What did the Sikyong have to say about this resource?
“We believe in the law of karma,” he smiled. “All you can do is keep trying. It’s not nihilism, it gives a sense of optimism, because whatever begins, ends.”
LOOK AT TIBET ISSUE FROM ALL ANGLES
TO OPENLY CLAIM CHINA IS EVIL
I look at Tibet issue from all angles to openly claim China is Evil Power, Tyrant, Aggressor, and Neocolonialist.
MERCEDES-BENZ APOLOGIZES TO CHINA
OVER DALAI LAMA POST
Mercedes-Benz has become the latest major global brand to offer a public apology after upsetting the Chinese government on a sensitive subject.
The carmaker apologized Tuesday for hurting “the feelings” of Chinese people by quoting the Dalai Lama in a post on its Instagram account. The move comes just weeks after Marriott, Delta Air Lines and other big names found themselves in trouble with Beijing over how they described politically sensitive places like Taiwan and Tibet.
The Chinese government has launched frequent attacks on the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, calling him a “traitor” and a separatist. Beijing considers Tibet to be part of its territory and comes down hard on any suggestions to the contrary.
Mercedes, which is owned by Daimler, (DDAIF) ran afoul of China’s stance when it paired a quote attributed to the Dalai Lama with a photo of one of its luxury sedans on Instagram — a social media platform that is banned in China.
“Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open,” the quote read.
The ad was posted on Monday and garnered nearly 90,000 likes before Mercedes deleted it the following day, according to a screenshot posted by Chinese state media.
The Global Times, a state-run newspaper that often strikes a nationalistic tone, criticized Mercedes, saying the company was quick to respond to the incident but shouldn’t make such mistakes in the first place.
Mercedes issued a statement in Chinese about the incident on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter (TWTR), offering a “sincere apology” three separate times.
“We fully understand how it has hurt the feelings of people in the country, including our colleagues working in China, we sincerely apologize for this,” Mercedes said, adding that the post contained “extremely erroneous information.”
With its rising middle class and growing economic might, China is a key market for many global brands. Mercedes is no exception.
Of the nearly 2.4 million vehicles it sold worldwide last year, more than a quarter were snapped up by Chinese buyers.
A growing number of international companies have recently found themselves in hot water in China over politically sensitive issues.
Authorities last month blocked Marriott’s websites and apps for a week in China after it listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate countries in its emails and apps. Marriott (MAR) apologized profusely, saying it respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.
Shortly after that, Delta (DAL) came under fire for similarly listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries. It said it was “an inadvertent error with no business or political intention” in its apology.
At the same time, the owner of European clothing brand Zara was chastised by regulators for listing Taiwan as a country and ordered to rectify the situation.
China and Taiwan — officially the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China — separated in 1949 following the Communist victory on the mainland after a civil war.
They have been governed separately since, though a shared cultural and linguistic heritage mostly endures, with Mandarin spoken as the official language in both places. The government in Beijing has always maintained that Taiwan is a renegade province that is part of its sovereign territory.
Communist China sent troops into Tibet in 1950 to enforce its claim on the region and has controlled it since 1951 — though the central government in Beijing has faced repeated bouts of unrest from ethnic Tibetans unhappy over its rule.
— Nanlin Fang contributed to this report.
CNNMoney (Hong Kong) First published February 7, 2018: 2:43 AM ET
CHINESE’ STRING OF PEARLS’ TIGHTENS NOOSE AROUND SRI LANKAN NECK
China’s Neocolonialism is tightening the noose around necks of cash-strapped economies of countries in Asia and Africa while the United States watches helplessly as a silent spectator.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
WITH SRI LANKAN PORT ACQUISITION, CHINA ADDS ANOTHER ‘PEARL’ TO ITS ‘STRING’ – CNN
The Hambantota port facility, 2015
(CNN)When Sri Lanka’s government first looked to develop a port on its southern coast that faced the Indian Ocean, it went not to China, but to its neighbor, India.
The venture was considered economically unviable and indeed, in the years that followed, the port sat empty and neglected, and Sri Lanka’s debt ballooned.
But India’s economic foresight might have cost it in terms of strategic geopolitics, since the debt incurred on the port and the surrounding infrastructure undertakings now belong to its great rival.
China’s official licensing of the port in December last year gives it yet another point of access over a key shipping route, and the prospect of providing it with a sizeable presence in India’s immediate backyard and traditional sphere of influence, bringing China closer to India’s shores than New Delhi might like.
Sri Lankan dancers perform at the site of the Hambantota port during a ceremony marking the first phase of construction, August 15, 2010.
Moreover, Sri Lanka’s decision to sign a 99-year lease with a Chinese state-owned company for the Hambantota port to service some of the billions it owes to Beijing has some observers concerned other developing nations doing business with China as part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative might fall into similar financial straits.
A trap, they warn, that may well have them owing more than just money to Beijing.
“China is, in many cases, the only party with the interest and the capital to deliver on these projects,” said Jeff Smith, a research fellow on South Asia at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC. “The relevant question for everyone is: at what cost?”
‘A determined strategy by China’
China has for decades invested in Sri Lanka, particularly during moments in recent history when much of the international community held off.
As the European Union sought to punish Sri Lanka over human rights abuses during the decades-long civil war between government forces and the Tamil Tigers, China acted on its behalf diplomatically at the United Nations. It also supplied the Rajapaksa government with military aid and it promised to spend to rebuild the country’s damaged infrastructure. India had also sent in military help, but nowhere near the levels Beijing dispatched.
The civil war ended in 2009. Between 2005 and 2017, China spent nearly $15 billion in Sri Lanka. By comparison, the International Finance Corporation, which is part of the World Bank group, says that between 1956 and 2016, it invested over $1 billion.
Jeff Smith points out that along with the Hambantota port investments, Beijing loaned Sri Lanka $200 million in 2010 for a second international airport and a year later a further $810 million for the “second phase of the port project.”
There was more. $272 million for a railway in 2013 and more than $1 billion for the Colombo Port City project, ventures that hired mostly Chinese workers (one Sri Lankan report put the number of Chinese workers dedicated to projects in 2009 at 25,000), and all with money Sri Lanka could barely afford to repay.
By 2015, Sri Lanka owed China $8 billion, and Sri Lankan government officials predicted that accumulated foreign debt — both owed to China and other countries — would eat up 94% of the country’s GDP.
After an equity swap, an IMF bailout and more control over the projects ceded to Beijing, the terms of the debt were restructured, giving Sri Lanka some breathing space.
In 2017, however, the Hambantota port proved too costly for Sri Lanka to sustain.
“They (the Chinese) called in the debt, and the debt has been paid by Sri Lanka giving them the (Hambantota) port. That port then gives them not only a strategic access point into India’s sphere of influence through which China can deploy its naval forces, but it also gives China an advantageous position to export its goods into India’s economic sphere, so it’s achieved a number of strategic aims in that regard,” said Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Sydney.
“This is part of a determined strategy by China to extend its influence across the Indian Ocean at the expense of India and it’s using Sri Lanka to achieve it,” he said.
Details of the new agreement between China and Sri Lanka have not been made public.
The port is an “important project aimed at spurring local economic growth based on equality and mutual benefits,” according to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It declined to answer further when asked by reporters.
Construction workers operate heavy equipment at the base of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port August 1, 2010. Some 350 Chinese staff helped in the first phase of construction.
‘Creating demand for Chinese goods’
China’s claiming of controlling stakes in strategic ports along critical shipping lanes — what analysts have taken to referring to as its “string of pearls” — beginning at the Straits of Malacca and dotting the Indian Ocean, should signal Beijing’s ultimate ambitions, said Davis.
“There’s a bigger picture here, that the more you invest in the Belt and Road initiative, the more the Chinese are in a position to force your country to align politically in terms of policy,” Davis told CNN.
“So you become dependent on their investment and their largesse, and you’re less likely to be critical of them and you’re more likely to accommodate their interests strategically.”
China launched its ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) development strategy in 2013, investing in projects that include thousands of miles of highways in Pakistan, an international airport in Nepal and a rail link between China and Laos. The initiative would come to span more than 68 countries and encompass 4.4 billion people and up to 40% of global GDP. Consisting of two distinct parts, the Silk Road Economic Belt would stretch from China to Europe and include a host of trade and infrastructure projects, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road would be a sea-based network of shipping lanes and port developments throughout Asia and the Pacific.
Beijing’s other potential partners are finding difficulty with some of their own joint projects.
Last November the government in Nepal scrapped a $2.5 billion deal with a Chinese company to build the biggest hydropower plant in the Himalayan country because of “irregularities” in the award process. The current Nepalese government, which had replaced the cabinet that had approved the earlier deal, announced the contract would instead go to a state-owned Nepali company.
In Myanmar, a $3.6 billion dam project has stalled. The then-military backed government suspended work on the Myitsone dam in the north of the country in 2011, with talks regarding its future ongoing.
Pakistan withdrew from a $14 billion agreement with China for a dam last November because the conditions of the deal included China taking ownership of the project and were “not doable and against our interests,” Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority chairman Muzammil Hussain was quoted as saying. Like Nepal, Pakistan has since indicated it would also look to shoulder the cost of the dam rather than go to an outside investor.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed to be unaware of this when asked about the situation by reporters in Beijing in December. The country’s top economic planning agency later said that the two countries were discussing cooperating on the dam project but that there’d been no discussion of proposals to move it forward. The agency said “Pakistan media’s reporting on this project has been inaccurate, or only represented the views of certain officials.”
But China is still spending in Pakistan. It is building a hydroelectric power station in the Rawalpindi district, and it is developing the port of Gwadar, strategically located on the Arabian Sea.
In Malaysia, China is spending $7.2 billion on a new deep sea port in the Straits of Malacca and working on infrastructure projects on the country’s eastern seaboard.
China’s trade deal with the Maldives government included investments in developing the international airport and a bridge, but the Maldives in return has taken on a significant number of controversial loan obligations.
Last July, former President Mohamed Nasheed said the loan interest the traditionally Indian ally pays to service its foreign debt to China is more than 20% of the country’s budget. He said that part of the deal included China’s receipt of 16 “strategically located islands” in navigation sea-lanes.
A Sri Lankan soldier walks past a billboard bearing portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ahead of Xi’s visit to the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, September 15, 2014.
Dean Cheng, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, said that the initial wave of Chinese investments in the Indian Ocean, the so-called string of pearls, was largely driven by economic considerations. The investments, he said, “would facilitate economic growth, which would benefit Chinese companies. Moreover, the construction projects would entail Chinese workers (a feature of most Chinese projects abroad, bringing their own work force), and create a demand base for Chinese goods.”
At the same time, he said the Chinese are clearly intent on creating a friendly political network of states. “There’s nothing inherently dangerous about political considerations in economic investments,” he told CNN. “It would be foolish to think that any state is wholly driven by economic considerations.”
Leaders attend China’s Belt and Road Forum
The ever-encroaching Chinese presence into India’s sphere of political and economic influence has been noted, but so far, says Manoj Joshi, New Delhi purports to be unruffled, as long as Hambantota remains a commercial port, and no Chinese naval vessels suddenly appear in the vicinity.
“In 2014 a Chinese submarine was spotted in Colombo harbor and that was the first time we saw that and the Indian side was a bit concerned,” said Joshi, a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. At the time Indian defense officials expressed “serious concern” to their Sri Lankan counterpart, and naval chiefs from both countries met to discuss the incidents. Then-Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said the government “keeps a constant watch on all developments concerning our national security and economic interests and takes necessary measures to safeguard them.”
A Chinese submarine and a Chinese warship were allowed to dock at the Colombo port in November 2014, just under two months after another Chinese submarine called into the same port. At the time both China and Sri Lanka dismissed New Delhi’s concerns, saying the vessels were on refueling stops during anti-piracy missions. Colombo port regularly hosts ships from numerous navies, including the US. But as China’s own navy becomes more ‘blue water’ [as in, able to move in open oceans around the world and not just in its own surrounding waters] these appearances will be more commonplace.
A Sri Lankan commando stands guard on the Hambantota construction site, November 18, 2010.
“It’s geopolitical competition and India sees itself as the foremost nation in Asia and with the Chinese building a port, building and airport, building roads in Sri Lanka, they’ve emerged as big investors there and the Indians are obviously feeling somewhat nervous because India doesn’t have those kind of resources to compete with,” Joshi told CNN.
“What we worry about is, we already have a border problem with China and now that competition goes to the Indian Ocean region. That could be against our interests.”
India and China share a 2,500 mile-long border, and have regularly faced off over perceived intrusions on each other’s terrain as well as activity in uninhabited territory claimed by China and Bhutan, an Indian ally.
“Everybody talks about China and India being major rivals, I think China doesn’t see India as a genuine long-term rival, I think it looks at India and sees a classic case of democracy gone wrong,” said Yvonne Chiu, assistant professor in the politics department at the University of Hong Kong.
“India is incredibly corrupt, its infrastructure is terrible, and it is riddled with religious and demographic problems,” she told CNN. “Except it is very large. It does have a big population as well and it’s on the border. So it’s a regional rival, but I don’t think they take India seriously as a global rival.”
Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, center, flanked by his eldest son and parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa, right, and Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne, left, tour the Hambantota construction site, November 18, 2010.
For its part, India is now taking an active interest in Hambantota. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to be in talks with Sri Lanka about taking over the airport near the port, which was built using Chinese funds that Beijing itself wants to manage and is pushing for control with the Sri Lankan government. During a media briefing last November, Raveesh Kumar, an official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, would only say that New Delhi has “a lot of developmental projects” going on in Sri Lanka and declined to elaborate further. Colombo has yet to make a decision involving the airport.
And New Delhi continues to actively participate in large-scale naval exercises in regional waters alongside allies Japan, and the US, and into the future, possibly Australia too, all to Beijing’s continued consternation.
Last year’s Malabar exercises in the Bay of Bengal involving the US, Japan and India were the largest the region has seen in more than two decades.
“India, of course, remains highly influential in Sri Lanka, and would not look kindly on any effort to pressure the government on matters related to defense and national security,” said Jeff Smith. “Nor would the Sri Lankan military, which values its exchanges with the US.”
Modi will be in Singapore in June, attending the Shangri-La dialogue, an annual meeting of defense ministers, military chiefs and defense officials from the Asia-Pacific. His keynote address will be carefully watched for words on China’s maritime expansion.
A White House unable to compete with China
South Asia’s problems are not on Washington’s radar right now, says Hong Kong University professor Chiu. The White House has much of its focus — along with a substantial naval presence — directed towards the Korean Peninsula and the ongoing crisis there. And while the US is distracted, China is slowly and incrementally changing the seascape in the Asia Pacific. China claims disputed islands in the South China Sea as part of its territory and has been militarizing some of those islands, reclaiming land on others and turning sandbars into islands to assert sovereignty over the area.
“Everything that they do, like building these islands (in the South China Sea) and stuff that is illegal internationally, but nobody wants to get into a conflict over, it adds up and you have a new status quo and it’s too late to do anything about it,” Chiu said.
“China can’t afford to go to war over anything … it would most likely lose against a major power … but these kind of small incremental things, people will let them get away with. As long as they’re patient, it could have the same effect as going to war.”
Even as China has taken the long view, Dean Cheng argues it’s never too late for the US and its allies to do something to counter Beijing’s ambitions.
“The US, in cooperation with India, Japan and possibly the European Union, could offer alternative financing,” Cheng said. “They could help train local officials, lawyers, etc., to become better negotiators. They can push for transparency, especially in Chinese-sponsored institutions to make clear the terms of the loans, payback processes, as well as how contracts are rewarded.”
Sri Lankan police stand guard during a protest in Colombo against the lease of the loss-making Hambantota port to China, February 1, 2017.
Last October US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a speech on the US relationship with India. Tillerson said it was up to New Delhi and Washington to “do a better job leveraging our collective expertise to meet common challenges while seeking even more avenues of cooperation.”
“We must also recognize that many Indo-Pacific nations have limited alternatives when it comes to infrastructure investment programs and financing schemes, which often fail to promote jobs or prosperity for the people they claim to help,” Tillerson said. “It’s time to expand transparent, high-standard regional lending mechanisms, tools that will actually help nations instead of saddle them with mounting debt.”
Tillerson told reporters that during the East Asia ministerial summit in August that the US had started “a quiet conversation with others about what they were experiencing, what they need.”
However, he also admitted Washington’s constraints. “We will not be able to compete with the kind of terms that China offers,” said Tillerson. “But countries have to decide, what are they willing to pay to secure their sovereignty and their future control of their economies? And we’ve had those discussions with them as well.”
China’s resources are nowhere near as limited as the US and its allies, says Yvonne Chiu from the University of Hong Kong.
“Right now, it can play on multiple fronts at once,” Chiu notes. “And they take a very long view. If you’re a power like the US, you’re really far away. That distance is going to limit how much attention you can pay to the region. The US has to pick and choose and it’s chosen East Asia. So, unless something really major happens, that’s probably where their attention is going to stay.”
A Chinese worker at the construction site of a Chinese-funded $1.4 billion reclamation project in Colombo, Sri Lanka in October 2017.
As 2017 wrapped up, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua published a dispatch from Colombo, describing how the Hambantota port was “now racing along a developmental fast-track.”
Chinese and Sri Lankan workers were building a highway north of the port, along with a bridge, and the Chinese Harbor Engineering Company is negotiating with the Sri Lankan government to develop a Logistics Zone that will include a natural gas power plant and refineries, the agency reported.
On the first day of the new year, the Chinese flag flew beside Sri Lanka’s at the port for the first time ever.
The Chinese Harbor Engineering Company began 2018 with a $1 billion investment to build three 60-story office towers in Colombo.
Rather than resist getting into further debt, Sri Lanka’s government appears to be making more deals with China that it will may yet struggle to pay back.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? “RUDRA” – INDIAN ARMY ATTACK HELICOPTER
I arrived into this world at my maternal grandfather’s home on Kutchery Street, near Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, Madras, Chennai. My father named me “RUDRA” to please LORD Shiva to obtain His blessings to defend my mortal existence.
Indeed, those blessings helped me to act with courage while taking part in military action in remote Chittagong Hill Tracts during Bangladesh Ops of 1971-72. My Unit Commander Lieutenant Colonel B K Narayan, my Brigade Commander Brigadier T S Oberoi, and my Formation Commander Major General Sujan Singh Uban recommended the award of ‘Vir Chakra’ for my display of gallantry in providing medical support at Enemy Post that we captured.
Our Medical Plan for this military action included use of Russian Army Mi 4 helicopter to air lift battlefield casualties. However, Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi who sanctioned this covert military assault refused to send helicopter to Enemy’s Post located deep inside Enemy territory. As air lift was not provided, I marched on foot to reach a helipad in Indian territory to safely evacuate my patients to Field Hospital saving their lives.
In 1971, Indian Army refused to grant me the Gallantry Award recommended for there was delay in transmission of ‘Citation’ from Army Medical Directorate building to MS Branch building, at Army HQ in New Delhi. Indian Army did not account for the delay in dispatch of helicopter to provide airlift support for battlefield casualties and further failed to acknowledge my timely intervention to defend lives of soldiers on battlefield.
I am pleased to note that Indian Army has chosen the name “RUDRA” for its Advanced Light Helicopter.
Rudra Narasimham Rebbapragada
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
HAL RUDRA (ALH WSI) ATTACK HELICOPTER – ARMY TECHNOLOGY
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
Maximum Take-off Weight
Rudra is an attack helicopter manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), for the Indian Army. It is the Weapon System Integrated (WSI) Mk-IV variant of the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). Rudra is the first armed helicopter being produced indigenously in India.
The HAL Rudra helicopter can be deployed in wide range of missions, including reconnaissance, troop transport, anti-tank warfare and close air support.
HAL was contracted to deliver about 76 Rudra ALH Mk-IV helicopters for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. The Indian Army plans to equip its Army Aviation Corps with 60 helicopters, forming six squadrons. HAL handed over the first Rudra helicopter to the Indian Army in February 2013.
Design and development of the attack helicopter
“HAL was contracted to deliver about 76 Rudra ALH Mk-IV helicopters for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.”
Development for the WSI variant was authorized in December 1998. The prototype made its first flight in August 2007. Rudra completed a final round of weapon firing trials in September 2011. The 20mm turreted gun was tested during these trials.
The Mistral air-to-air missiles and 70mm rockets were tested on Rudra in November 2011. Mistral is an infrared homing missile, which is capable of striking the targets within a range of 6.5km. The ground tests for the first production helicopter were concluded in September 2012.
HAL Rudra Mk-IV received initial operational clearance (IOC) from Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) in February 2013. The helicopter was displayed for the first time at Aero India 2013 show.
HAL Rudra incorporates a conventional design. Carbon fiber composite materials have been used in construction to achieve weight reduction. The twin engines mounted above the cabin are attached to a four-blade composite main rotor. The cockpit is made of Kevlar and carbon-fiber materials.
Rudra has a length of 15.8m, main rotor diameter of 13.2m and a height of 4.9m. The maximum take-off weight of the helicopter is 5,500kg. Rudra can carry a payload of 2,600kg.
Cockpit and avionics systems of Rudra
The advanced glass cockpit of Rudra houses crash-worthy seats for accommodating two crew members. The night vision goggle (NVG) compatible cockpit is equipped with multifunction displays, dual flight controls and automatic flight control system.
The avionics suite integrates a global positioning system, FLIR, HF/UHF communications radio, Infrared Friend or Foe (IFF) identification system, Doppler navigation and a radio altimeter. The electro-optic pod, helmet-mounted sight and fixed sights ensure the pilots can accurately engage targets using onboard weapons.
Armament and countermeasures of the Indian helicopter
The Nexter THL-20 chin mounted gun turret is fitted with a 20mm M621 automatic cannon. The gun can fire at a rate of 750 rounds per minute. It has an effective range of 2,000m.
“The Mistral air-to-air missiles and 70mm rockets were tested on Rudra in November 2011.”
The stub wings of Rudra can be fitted with up to eight Helina (Helicopter-launched Nag) anti-tank guided missiles, four MBDA Mistral short-range air-to-air missiles or four rocket pods for 68mm/70mm rockets.
The HAL Rudra helicopter is equipped with SAAB Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS), radar warning receiver, IR jammer, flare and chaff dispenser.
The IDAS can be integrated with RWS-300 radar-warning sensor, LWS-310 laser warning sensor, MAW-300 missile-approach warning sensor and BOP-L series advanced lightweight countermeasures dispensing system.
HAL Rudra engines and landing gear
The HAL Rudra helicopter is powered by two HAL / Turbomeca Ardiden 1H1 (Shakti) turboshaft engines. Each engine delivers a maximum continuous power of 1,067kW. The operation of the engines is controlled by full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system. The helicopter has a fixed-type metal skid landing gear. The tail section features a tail skid to protect the tail rotor during tail-down landings.
The helicopter has a maximum continuous speed of 270km/h. The never exceed speed of the helicopter is 300km/h. Rudra can fly at a maximum altitude of 20,000ft and can climb at a rate of 10.3m/s. It has a range of 660km.
SEPTUAGENARIAN OF SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE CELEBRATES 69th REPUBLIC DAY OF INDIA
Septuagenarian of Special Frontier Force reminds his readers about Tibet’s military occupation since 1950. He is celebrating 69th Republic Day of India while Asia’s third largest nation remains under Colonial Oppression, Repression, Suppression, and Tyranny imposed by People’s Republic of China.
This Year’s Republic Day is of great interest for it gives me (Rudra) to speak about Rudra’s Maiden Appearance apart from ‘ASHWINI’ ( my son’s first name) Radar developed by Defence Development and Research Organization(DRDO). This Father-Son first-time appearance in 69th Republic Day Parade defines the term ‘KARMA’.
Rudra narasimham Rebbapragada
INDIA CELEBRATES 69th REPUBLIC DAY IN PRESENCE OF 10 ASEAN LEADERS
India today celebrated its 69th Republic Day with a grand display of the country’s military might and rich cultural diversity in presence of leaders from all the ASEAN nations, in a historic first and unprecedented strategic outreach to the powerful bloc.
This is for the first time that leaders from 10 countries attended the annual celebrations as chief guests, and the overwhelming presence of the ASEAN leadership is seen as reflection of India’s growing stature as a major power in the region where China has been expanding its footprint.
Marching contingent of Delhi Police during 69th Republic Day Parade at Rajpath in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)
Thousands of people on both sides of the Rajpath, India’s ceremonial boulevard facing the seat of power on the Raisina Hill, braved the winter chill and cheered loudly as the marching contingents and tableaux went past them.
Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, Singaporean Premier Lee Hsien Loong and Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah were among the ASEAN leaders who attended the event.
Chief guests and heads of states of Governments of ASEAN nations leave after attending the 69th Republic Day function at Rajpath in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith and Cambodian Premier Hun Sen also watched the grand parade.
In a series of tweets, Modi talked about India’s partnership with Asean and yesterday’s India-Asean Commemorative Summit. “Their presence with us is an unprecedented gesture of goodwill from Asean nations.” Before the beginning of the ceremony marking the date when India’s Constitution came into force way back in 1950, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wearing a saffron, red and green safa (headgear), paid homage to the martyrs by laying a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate.
The parade was commanded by Lt General Asit Mistry, General Officer Commanding, Headquarters Delhi Area. The supreme commander of the Indian armed forces President Ram Nath Kovind took the salute at the parade.
India’s highest peacetime military decoration Ashok Chakra was posthumously given to IAF Garud commando Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala, who laid down his life after gunning down two terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.
The award was received by Corporal Nirala’s wife Sushmanand and his mother Malti Devi.
The celebrations were attended by most of the Union ministers, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Health Minister JP Nadda, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi also attended the parade.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves at the crowd during the 69th Republic Day Parade at Rajpath. (Image: PTI)
He was seen sitting in the middle rows and chatting with senior Congress leaders and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.
India’s former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy chief minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia were also present on the occasion.
A march-past by the Army personnel carrying the ASEAN flag also featured during the parade. The Army personnel also carried the flags of the 10 Asean nations in the parade.
Twenty three tableaux, including those representing various states, ministries, the All India Radio among others, rolled down the Rajpath.
Tableaux from 14 states and Union territories showcased the historical, art and cultural heritage of the country.
The highlight of the parade was the motorcycle contingent, ‘Seema Bhawani’, comprising women personnel of the BSF that showcased their skills for the first time at the parade.
BSFs all-women team Seema Bhawani performs on motorcycles during 69th Republic Day Parade at Rajpath in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)
The Indian Army’s T-90 tank (Bhishma), Ballway Machine Pikate (II/IIK), Brahmos Missile System, Weapon Locating Radar (Swathi), Bridge Laying Tank T-72, Mobile Base Transceiver Station and Akash Weapon System were also showcased at the parade.
The marching contingent of the Army included horse- mounted columns of the 61st Cavalry, the Punjab Regiment, Maratha Light Infantry, the Dogra Regiment, Ladakh Scouts and the Regiment of Artillery and 123 Infantry Battalion — Territorial Army (Grenadiers).
The marching contingent of the Navy, comprising 144 young sailors, was led by Lieutenant Tushar Gautam, while the Indian Air Force contingent, comprising 144 men, was led by Squadron Leader Attal Singh Sekhon.
The paramilitary and other auxiliary civil forces, including the Border Security Force, also marched on Rajpath.
Camel contingents, Indian Coast Guard, Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo Tibetan Border Police, the Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme were also among the marching contingents at the parade.
BSFs all-women team Seema Bhawani performs on motorcycles during 69th Republic Day Parade at Rajpath in New Delhi on Friday. (Image: PTI)
There were a number of interesting Tableaux that rolled down Rajpath.
This year, the Indian Navy’s Tableau showcased the theme ‘Indian Navy – Combat Ready Force for National Security’.
The Navy also showcased its Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant, which will be commissioned in 2020, while the Defence Development and Research Organization exhibited the ‘Nirbhay’ missile and the Ashwini radar system.
The theme of the Indian Air Force tableau was ‘Indian Air Force Encouraging Indigenization’ which displayed models of the Tejas Multi-role Fighter Aircraft, Rudra Helicopter, Ashwini Radar and the Akash missile system.
A display of Akash weapon system at Rajpath during the 69th Republic Day Parade, in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)
The All India Radio tableau featured Modi’s monthly address ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and was one of the many firsts this year.
An Income Tax Department tableau, about special anti- black money drive launched post-demonetization, that rolled down Rajpath, was also on the list of many firsts.
On behalf of the central government, 61 tribal guests from various parts of the country had been invited to witness the Republic Day celebrations. Fifteen of the 18 children who won the National Bravery Award also participated in the parade. Three children, including two girls, have received the award posthumously.
Recipients of National Bravery Awards 2017 wave at the crowd during the 69th Republic Day Parade at Rajpath in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)
Of the 18 children, seven are girls and 11 are boys.
In the children’s section, over 800 boys and girls drawn from three schools in Delhi along with a group of school children from Nagpur and Dimapur, performed colorful dances on different themes.
The grand finale of the parade was a spectacular fly past by MI-17 and RUDRA armed helicopters along with a number of IAF aircraft. The fly past commenced with the ‘Rudra’ formation comprising three ALH Mk IV WSI helicopters in ‘Vic’ formation, followed by the ‘Hercules’ formation comprising three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.
IAFs Su-30MKI planes fly past during 69th Republic Day Parade at Rajpath in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)
Trailing them was the ‘Netra’ which is an Airborne Early Warning and Control System Aircraft also known as ‘Eye in the Sky’.
‘Netra’ was followed by the ‘Globe formation’ comprising one C-17 Globemaster flanked by two Su-30 MKIs among others.
Minutes before the parade began, the prime minister, Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman and Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force paid tributes at the ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’, the war memorial at India Gate where an eternal flame burns in memory of those who laid down their lives defending the frontiers of the nation.
As per tradition, after unfurling the national flag, the national anthem played followed by a 21 gun salute.
The ceremony ended also with the playing of the national anthem and the release of thousands of balloons.
Modi and President Kovind also waved to the crowd after the conclusion of the ceremony and were greeted with loud cheers.
Earlier, Modi greeted citizens on occasion of the Republic Day, tweeting, “Greetings on #RepublicDay. Jai Hind.”