Wary Of China, India Offers Akash Surface-To-Air Missile Systems To Vietnam
- NEW DELHI : India is now actively discussing the possible sale of the indigenously developed Akash surface-to-air missile systems+ to Vietnam, even as the two countries steadily crank up their bilateral military ties with a watchful eye on a confrontational China in the Asia-Pacific region. With Beijing continuing to thwart New Delhi's bid to join the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group and get Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Masood Azhar+ designated a terrorist by the UN, while also stepping up its naval forays into the Indian Ocean Region, India is responding by fast-tracking military ties with countries in China's own backyard. The expanding "strategic and military partnership" with Japan and Vietnam, in particular, has emerged a major thrust area. Sources say the discussions under way with Vietnam on the Akash area defence missiles, which have an interception range of 25-km against hostile aircraft, helicopters and drones, come after India earlier offered BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles+ and Varunastra anti-submarine torpedoes to the country.
- India, of course, will also begin training Vietnamese fighter pilots on its Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets from this year, much like it has been tutoring sailors from that country on the intricate art of operating Kilo-class submarines for the last three years, as reported earlier by TOI. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar says Vietnam "is a close friend" and several initiatives are in progress to further boost bilateral defence cooperation, ranging from help in upgrade of military equipment of the Vietnamese forces to training them on fighters and submarines. All this comes in the backdrop of India and Vietnam deciding to "elevate" their "strategic partnership", which was established in July 2007, into a "comprehensive strategic partnership" during PM Narendra Modi's visit to Hanoi in September 2016.
- Sources said Vietnam has shown "deep interest" in the acquisition of Akash missiles, asking for transfer of technology and joint production of the air defence system. India, however, thinks it has to be an incremental process, with an initial off-the-shelf purchase followed by transfer of technology in maintenance and other areas. "Talks are in progress to arrive at a common plan. It's relatively easier on the Akash front since the missile system is 96% indigenous," said a source. The two defence secretaries, incidentally, are slated to meet soon to identify the military projects and equipment under the new $500 million defence line of credit announced by Modi in September. But it will be more complicated to sell the 290-km range BrahMos — or transfer technology — to Vietnam because the missiles are produced here under a joint Indo-Russian venture.
- BrahMos missiles still have an import content of over 60% from Russia. On other fronts, however, India is fast expanding its military training, technology sharing, joint exercises, visits and exchange of experts with Vietnam. Faced with a belligerent China, Vietnam too has been strengthening its military capabilities by inducting Kilo-class submarines and Sukhoi fighters from Russia, both of which have been operated by Indian armed forces for years. It was in 2013 that India had kicked off the training of a large number of Vietnamese sailors in "comprehensive underwater combat operations'' in Navy submarine school INS Satavahana, Visakhapatnam. Now, the training on Sukhois is all set to take off.
Delhi Acers Beat Chennai Smashers To Register First Win In PBL
- BENGALURU : Defending champions Delhi Acers defeated Chennai Smashers 5-2 to finally register their first win of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) Season 2 at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium on Sunday. Acers, who won three matches on the trot to go 3-0 up in the tie, needed their men's doubles pair of Ivan Sozonov and Vladimir Ivanov to pick up a win over the pair of Chris Adcock and Mads Pieler Kolding to put the tie out of Chennai's reach. Coming in with huge expectations and playing in a trump match, the heavyweight Delhi pair did not disappoint and displayed a dominant performance to win the match 11-6 11-6 to take an unassailable 5-0 lead over Smashers. In the last match of the tie, it was PV Sindhu, playing in the trump match for Smashers was up against Tanvi Lad of Acers. With the tie already sealed in favour of the Acers, it was for Sindhu to salvage two crucial points and maintain their top position on the points table.
- And as expected, it was Sindhu who eventually won the match 11-6 11-7 to go to third position on the points table with 10 points. Earlier, mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Vladimir Ivanov beat the pair of Chris Adcock and PV Sindhu of Chennai Smashers to hand defending champions Delhi Acers grab an early 2-0 lead in the tie. Smashers, who were one down in the tie, looked like they would bounce back after their experiented pair produced a dominating performance to take the first game 11-7. With a game up it looked like Chennai's gamble would pay off but Jwala Gutta and Ivanov got their acts together to win the second game 11-4.
- In the decider, Sindhu and Adcock tried their best to get past their much experienced opponents, however Jwala and Ivanov did not let go off the momentum and won the game 11-9 to win the second match of the tie. In the third match of the tie, Son Wan Ho did not lose much sweat to beat P Kashyap of Smashers 12-10 11-4 to give Acers 3-0 lead. In the first match of the tie, Jan O Jorgensen put Acers back on the winning path after he beat Tommy Sugiarto of Smashers. Delhi, who are currently lying at the bottom of the table and are virtually out of contention for the knock-outs, finally got their winning mojo back and salvage some pride. Jorgensen came back from a game down to beat Sugiarto 10-12 11-4 11-6 and take an early 1-0 lead in the tie.
- Jorgensen started the match on the attacking note and was looking favourite to win the first game as he raced to a 9-5 lead. On the cusp of a loss, Sugiarto however launched a strong fight back to take the game 12-10. Jorgensen made a strong comeback to win the second game 4-11. With the match tied 1-1, Jorgensen was at his brutal best to end the game 11-6 to win the match and give Acers a much needed win. Awadhe Warriors are now leading the points table with 14 points followed by Mumbai Rockets at 12 points and Chennai Smashers at 10 points.
Iran's Ex-President Rafsanjani Dies : Agencies
- TEHRAN : Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died in hospital on Sunday after suffering a heart attack, the ISNA and Fars news agencies reported. Rafsanjani, who was 82, was a pivotal figure in the foundation of the Islamic republic in 1979, and served as president from 1989 to 1997. He had been admitted to the Shohadaa Hospital in northern Tehran, one of his relatives, Hossein Marashi, was quoted as saying by the agencies. Rafsanjani was born on August 25, 1934 in the village of Nough in southern Iran into a wealthy family. He studied theology in the holy city of Qom before entering politics in 1963 after the shah's police arrested the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
- A confidant of Khomeini, Rafsanjani was the speaker of parliament for two consecutive terms until Khomeini's death in 1989. Rafsanjani's presidency, a breathing space after the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, was marked by reconstruction, cautious reform and repairs to Iran's relations with its Arab neighbours. But it was also marred by human rights violations, rampant inflation and difficult relations with Europe, not least with Britain after the "death sentence", or fatwa, handed down to writer Salman Rushdie by Khomeini. After serving a maximum two consecutive terms, Rafsanjani played an important role in the election of the reformist Mohammad Khatami, who succeeded him as president from 1997 to 2005.
- Rafsanjani sought a return to the presidency in 2005 but lost to hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a conservative backlash. It was a bitter defeat, but rather than retreating from public view, he remained in the limelight. Rafsanjani emerged as a moderate counter-figure to the ultra-hardliners clustered around Ahmadinejad- under whom Iran's relations with the West plummeted- and criticised the crackdown that followed Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009. In recent years though, his influence within state institutions had waned. In 2013, his candidacy for the presidential election was rejected because of his advanced age.
- The next year he delivered crucial support for the eventual winner, Hassan Rouhani, a moderate with whom he has a warm rapport. He was an important backer of the deal Rouhani struck with world powers for sanctions to be lifted in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear programme. Rafsanjani was always a member of Iran's top clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, charged with appointing- and if required dismissing- the country's supreme leader. Rafsanjani chaired the influential committee for several years. He also held the chairmanship of Iran's main political arbitration body, the Expediency Council, since 1990, when he was appointed by Khomeini's successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
No 'Representation' In ICC Meet Could Hurt BCCI
- MUMBAI : If the worst fears of the members of the BCCI came true with the January 2-3 order of the Supreme Court, things are about to get messier for them at the turn of the month. Only this time, it'll leave the financial interests of Indian cricket in tatters too. With the sacking of almost every senior administrator, the BCCI is unlikely to have a proper representative at the board and chief executives meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC) on February 1 in Dubai. In such a scenario, member boards of the ICC - chiefly the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA) - who have been pushing for a new revenue model based on redistribution of revenue earned from world cricket rights will finally find the opportunity to push their interest in India's absence. After taking over as the first independent chairman of the ICC, Shashank Manohar had dealt the BCCI's interests a big blow when he brought down India's share from the global revenues of the game from 22% to 15%.
- Later, in the run-up to the ICC Board meeting in Cape Town last October, the parent body of the sport saw Australia, England and South African boards pushing for a consolidated revenue model of global cricket rights under which the rights of the game from across the world would be pooled and distributed. India, by virtue of bringing the lion's share to the table, had been objecting to the model which had led to a stand-off between the BCCI and the ICC chairman. BCCI's contention had always been that since Indian cricket brought the highest share of revenue to the ICC, there was no logic in sharing it with member boards who depended on BCCI for survival.
- The ICC, it should be noted, had kept the BCCI out of the newly formed Working Group that met thrice last year to discuss the revenue distribution. Decisions taken at these Working Group meetings - last during the day & night Test in Adelaide - would be brought up at the ICC Board meeting for ratification. It was ex-BCCI chief N Srinivasan who had first fought for India's rights at the ICC after taking over as chairman in 2013-14 when he introduced the 'Big Three' finance and revenue model that was based on the philosophy that a member board would get to earn according to what it brought to table in terms of revenues.
- The entire process underwent a change, to BCCI's dismay, when Manohar took over. Anurag Thakur,, the next BCCI president after Manohar, kept the fight going and objected to the change at the ICC Board meeting last year. However, this time, with no representative from BCCI likely to attend the ICC meeting, Manohar could possibly have the last laugh. BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, who is now heading the Indian board for all practical purposes, could attend the ICC meeting on India's behalf. However, not having attended any of its Board meetings in the past - considering the chief executive cannot represent member boards at Board meeting - Johri will neither have the authority nor the required experience to continue BCCI's fight.