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    Internal security operations: The rub::::::::::::::::: Lt Gen RS Sujlana (retd)

    When the Army is called to aid the civil authorities, the operations are extremely sensitive. Patience and deliberation are of utmost importance. Minimum force and minimum collateral at the risk of own casualties is the thumb rule.

    Internal security operations: The rub
    A tightrope walk: The Army had to proceed with caution and avoid collateral damage. Foreigners being airlifted from Rohtak, during the Jat agitation. Tribune Photo

    The Jat Agitation in Haryana in February and the followup Prakash Singh report has brought to the fore key issues related to deployment of the Army in aid of the civil government. Both have received widespread coverage and discussion in the media, specially on the social media. The issue needs to be placed in perspective. It is necessary to understand the functioning and psyche of the Army in internal security operations; be it to aid civil authorities during natural calamities, rioting and unrest etc. or the more professional task in counter-terrorist operations. The Army always means business and therefore terms these as operations, however by nature these are offensive only while countering armed terrorists/ insurgents. Otherwise they have nothing to do with muscle and firepower. On the contrary, these operations are extremely sensitive, where patience and deliberation rule and there is no scope of instigating the population or getting carried away by any provocation by nefarious elements. The conduct has to be rational, minimum force and minimum collateral at the risk of own casualties is the thumb rule.The Army started its learning process in dealing with populations in a hostile environment in the North-East during the early years of countering insurgency in Nagaland (starting in late 1950s) and later in Mizoram. Lessons were there to learn from similar operations the world over but there were no copy-book solutions. One lesson was clear, that every insurgency had peculiarities and required ingenuity in handling. Strategy and tactics to be adopted also depended on whether operations were conducted in a foreign land against an alien people; or, within your country to handle misguided population. While in the former situation, strong-arm tactics to kill, collateral or imposing disliked measures like grouping of villages to isolate the insurgents were of no concern to the security forces but in the latter, strong-arm tactics are unacceptable and no contentious methods can be undertaken. Thus, over decades of operations in insurgency/terrorist-affected areas the Army evolved the concept of an “iron fist in a velvet glove,” while the iron fist is to counter the terrorists or other anti-national elements but more importantly was the velvet glove to deal with the majority peace-loving population. Collateral is a red herring and has immediate adverse affects; it is exploited by the terrorists/ insurgents/ rioters and their ilk to ignite the people which adversely affects operations. A hostile populace is a sure recipe for unsuccessful operations. Therefore, winning the confidence and goodwill of the local population is a must. Towards this the Army evolved the concept of a velvet glove or “Winning the Hearts and Minds (WHAM)” of people. WHAM is a well-articulated policy that has evolved and matured over years of experience and learning. It drives home the goodwill of the Army, and drives home that for a peaceful environment  is conducive for progress and prosperity. Once the confidence of the majority population is won it becomes that much easier to initially isolate and finally bring back the hostile elements back to the mainstream. WHAM activities by their very nature are carried out in close liaison with the civil administration and the involvement of the population who identify their wants and join hands with the Army. This policy has been successful in gaining the confidence of the locals; from initial small-scale projects like constructing playfields, minor water projects, road building, medical camps, veterinary camps etc. to major commercial, educational and technological spheres under Operation “Samaritan” in the North-East and Operation “Sadhbhavna” in the North. Cultural visits by schoolchildren and elders to places of interest have increased people-to-people contact countrywide, showcasing the progress of the nation and enhancing integration. However, in this entire well-meaning and humanitarian effort, the goodwill gained can be lost in a matter of hours. Collateral damage of any dimension, true or false, is a flashpoint and erupts without warning. It is often is a figment of imagination, created by anti-national elements or rioters etc. to up the ante and place the security forces on the defensive. Despite best efforts and repeatedly taking avoidable casualties to minimise collateral, a spark can always be created. For example, take  the recent alleged molestation case in Handwara, Kashmir, where a mountain was made even where there was no molehill.  It is against this backdrop that the conduct of the Army has to be seen when involved in any internal security action; the last thing that one would want is a hostile population to handle.The Army was called out during the Jat agitation. It was later construed that the presence of the Army had no effect. Did anyone rationalise the options available to the Army columns? Under no circumstance did the Army columns have the option of blasting their way through with tanks; infantry combat vehicles (which by the way are located in large numbers close at hand), heavy fire or even resorting to any violence. Despite incitement from the rioters, there was only one option to adopt a peaceful method and ensure no or minimal collateral and that is exactly what they did. To avoid any clashes or an adverse situation, troops were flown in by helicopters to begin with. As the situation improved, columns on foot moved forward to complete their allotted tasks.The Prakash Singh report mainly concluded a long-known fact that the Army should be used in internal security only as a last resort; and that repeated exposure of the Army in such operations will only reduce its effectiveness in internal security situations. However, the question here is whether or not the deployment of the Army in the agitation was a right step to bring the violent situation under control? Taking that the civil administration, the state police and the Central Police Forces abdicated their respective duties, leading to an “administrative paralysis,” with clear indications of internecine communal riots erupting, calling the Army in was possibly the right decision. This saved the situation from developing into another anti-Sikh mayhem as it happened in Delhi, where the Army arrived only when the damage was done. The report also goes on to add that the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) who evidently was sitting “dormant” at Chandigarh but had no hesitation in saying that the agitators were not daunted by the Army and that it is a matter of concern that the presence of the Army had “limited effect”. Strangely forgotten was the fact that 2,000 men of the Army effectively brought the situation under control where tens of thousands of the police/ CPOs failed.The Prakash Singh report seems to have ruffled some feathers and may finally not achieve its aim as is gradually becoming evident. The bureaucrats named are shouting blue murder, comments on an MP have been withdrawn, the role of the state police / CPOs seems to have been softpedalled, it reeks of an anti-Army bias. But the complete silence on appropriating any blame on the political leadership is indeed jarring. 

    The writer is a former Commandant, IMA & ex-Chairman, PPSC.

    Army… a way of life

    The other day while golfing at the nearby army golf course, a notice put up at the 15th tee caught my fancy, “In case of a bee attack, first-aid kit is available with the starter.” God forbid, if the bees do strike, reaching the starter, a good kilometer away, may be painfully arduous. Having experienced such kooky situations during my wonderful days in the army, I was least bit surprised at this veiled suggestion, ‘Taste their bites and get acclimatised for life or make own arrangements (the latter for the less brave)’.

    It was a warm summer afternoon during 1979, when our train reached the deserted rail station at Dehradun. Selected to be future officers of the great Indian Army, without worry and hurry we waited for some one to rush towards us, salute us , pick our luggage, escort us to the car, which would then drive us with fanfare to the Indian Military Academy (IMA). Instead, there was peace and inactivity. We de-boarded and started looking around. Our misplaced optimism was disrupted with a deep scruffy banter, “Hey you dandies! Are you here for a rock concert?” (an obvious reference to our flowing manes). Now don’t stand there like morons… get moving”, and the young captain assigned with the duty of receiving us trooped off.

    The railway station seemed bereft of porters, forcing us to lug the huge iron box and an overstuffed bedroll to the waiting army truck, which doubled as a means of transport for the luggage and the newly arrived trainees.

    The first stop was the IMA barber shop. Our pleas of having had a hair cut before leaving home went unheard. A subtle message that a crew cut is the beginning and end of life. All else is secondary.

    We had heard of an activity called the ‘Mussourie nights’, imagining it an excursion picnic to the beautiful hill station in the vicinity of Dehradun. Well this is how it unfolded. December night chill at Dehradun is not lost on most. A ‘fall in’ in PT (physical training) rig (shorts and vests) was ordered by our seniors. Once at the PT grounds, we were asked to go and take a clothed shower and get back. When back, all were asked to make a 100-metre sprint.

    The procedure was repeated half a dozen times till the chill did not matter. Back to our cabins at midnight, I wondered how many of us would report sick next morning. Surprisingly, none did. Like most, I suspect, a feeling of blocked nose and a heavy head did surface, but kept it to themselves for the fear of being labeled a weakling. The ‘endurance boost’ surely made a life time impact. Even now during peak winters, a recollection of Mussourie nights makes us feel warm and snuggy.

    I reported at my unit after getting commissioned and was escorted to the senior subaltern (senior most lieutenant in-charge of grooming the newly posted officer). Lieutenant Sidhu, without exchanging unnecessary pleasantries, asked me in his Sainik School dialect, “What do they call you?… Ok doesn’t matter! Do you drink?” “Occasionally sir,” was my genuine response.

    I don’t remember thereafter till I was woken up the next morning by my soldier buddy. Supporting blood shot eyes and a breath reeking of alcohol, I was guided to the Adjutant’s (officer incharge of discipline) office, who counseled me, “A way to avoid hangover and drunkenness is to consume butter before drinking. The smooth buttery layer avoids absorption of alcohol thus increasing your apparent capacity to consume more and remain fresh the next morning.”

    His words of wisdom keep me in good stead even today, though my wife often wonders why Captain Udawat, the adjutant never gave a simple two word advice, “Stop drinking” instead!

    P’kula-based broker has nexus in Delhi and beyond

    Sandeep Rana

    Tribune News Service

    Panchkula, June 11

    Panchkula-based real estate broker Manav Malhotra, who duped many, including serving Indian Army Colonels and Shimla MP’s brother in the tricity, of their hard-earned money, has his nexus spread in Delhi,NCR and beyond.Following a news item by Chandigarh Tribune about the cheating case yesterday, it came to light that 15 more persons were allegedly duped by him from Gurgaon and nearby areas on the promise of providing them 2 BHK flats at Bhiwadi in Rajasthan.“He showed us property at Bhiwadi with the project named Carbe India Buildtech, the property belonged to somebody else, but he claimed he was a partner in the property. The flat was priced at Rs 25 lakh and he got the money ranging between Rs 5 and 16 lakh, initially. However, he later failed to give the property or refund the money taken. To some customers, he issued cheques but they bounced,” shares Gurgaon resident Rahul Kaushik.Rahul’s father Rattan  Kumar Kaushik was allegedly duped of Rs 16.5 lakh, while his brother-in-law Sunil Sharma of Rs 12.5 lakh. Also, Gurgaon-based advocate Ritu paid around Rs six lakh and Dilreet Grewal Rs four lakh as earnest money, but have got nothing in return. They all paid the money in 2013 but have been fighting cases in courts to get their money back ever since. Malhotra showed the property in Bhiwadi to all of them. The affected parties have even approached the Commissioner of Gurgaon. However, the accused has been on the run. In one of the cases here, his bail application has also been rejected by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.   His wife Neetu Malhotra said he was innocent.

    Naval Academy passout honoured

    Tribune News Service

    Amritsar, June 11

    Baba Sewa Singh Kar Sewa Wale of Khadoor Sahib honoured Kirpa Singh, a student of one of the educational institutes run by their sect on completion of his course as Assistant Commandant in Indian Coast Guard here today.Kirpa, a resident of village near Khadoor Sahib, cleared the exam for entry into Indian Coast Guard recently. He was studying at a college run by Baba Sewa Singh.While congratulating Kirpa Singh for his achievement, Baba Sewa Singh said he was a role model for other children in this rural belt.“Kirpa Singh is one of the very few children from this area, who despite lack of educational opportunities, has managed to find a place for himself. We hope that other students will be inspired by his achievement,” he said.College Principal, Dr Surinder Bangar, said Kirpa had completed his training at Indian Naval Academy, Kerala, recently. He said educational institutions run under the Kar Sewa prepare rural children for various competitive exams. He said the sect had started an institute to prepare students for civil services examinations recently.

    Malabar Exercise kicks off close to South China Sea

    Malabar Exercise kicks off close to South China Sea
    File photo of Chinese vessels around Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea. —Reuters

    New Delhi, June 10

    India, Japan and the US on Friday kicked off their marine war games, ‘Malabar Exercise’, near the troubled waters of the East China Sea that will see in action over 100 aircraft and 22 naval ships, including a nuclear submarine.

    The exercise assumes significance as it is being conducted close to the East China Sea at a time when Chinese assertiveness in the region is a raging issue.

    It aims to achieve deeper military ties and greater interoperability amid rising tensions in the region.

    The exercise is being held close to the uninhabited isles in the East China Sea called Senkaku by Japan, which controls them. However, they are aggressively claimed by China as its Diaoyu islands.

    The Indian Navy said that their four ships are participating in the 20th edition of the naval exercise in consonance with India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and growing ties among the three countries.

    The exercise will support maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region and benefit the global maritime community, the navy said.

    India and the US have regularly conducted the annual exercise since 1992. Since 2007, Malabar has been held alternatively off India and in the Western Pacific. Last year, it was conducted off Chennai and included participation of Japan.

    While the harbour phase of the exercise started today at Sasebo, the sea phase in the Pacific Ocean will be held from June 14 to 17.

    Indian ships participating in the exercise are from the Eastern Fleet and include INS Sahyadri and INS Satpura, indigenously built guided missile stealth frigates, INS Shakti, a modern fleet tanker and support ship, and INS Kirch, an indigenous guided missile corvette.

    The US Navy will be represented by aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis (CVN 74), that holds 90 fighter aircraft and helicopters besides Ticonderoga class Cruiser USS Mobile Bay and Arleigh Burke class destroyers USS Stockdale and USS Chung Hoon, all carrying helicopters.

    In addition, one nuclear-powered submarine, carrier wing aircraft and long-range maritime patrol aircraft will also participate in the exercise.

    Japan will be represented by Hyuga, a helicopter carrier with SH 60 K integral choppers and long-range maritime patrol aircraft, besides 9 other advanced warships for specific parts of the exercise.

    Additionally, the Special Forces (SF) of the three navies will also interact during the exercise. — PTI

    ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi injured in air strike, say reports

    ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi injured in air strike, say reports
    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

    London, June 10

    Islamic State’s dreaded chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been wounded in an air strike by coalition forces on one of the outfit’s command headquarters close to the Syrian border in Iraq, media reports said on Friday.

    Iraqi news channel Al Sumariya TV claimed local sources in Iraq’s Nineveh province had confirmed that Baghdadi and other leaders in the Islamist group were wounded yesterday in the coalition bombing raid.

    “The planes of the international coalition yesterday bombed a location where there is a base of Isis members along the border area between Iraq and Syria, 65 kilometres west of Nineveh,” Express UK quoted an Iraqi source as saying.

    According to reports, Baghdadi was injured along with some members of the organisation who were gathered at that meeting.

    “The attack was carried out on the basis of precise intelligence information that led to strike its own that site,” the paper quoted the source as saying.

    The area is one of the group’s strongholds, the source said, adding that “Baghdadi and the other ISIS leaders arrived in Iraq from Syria with a convoy of cars”.

    A spokesman for the US-led coalition said that he had seen the reports but had “nothing to confirm this at this time”, the report said.

    In recent years there have been a number of reports of Baghdadi’s injury, and even death, but none have been confirmed.

    Baghdadi was seriously wounded by an airstrike on March 18, 2015, that killed the three other men he was travelling with. He was said to be receiving treatment for spinal injuries after being wounded in that strike.

    The injury left the terror chief incapacitated, with some claiming at the time that his injuries meant he would never again resume command.

    In 2011 the US State Department named Baghdadi as a terrorist and offered up to USD 10 million for information leading to his capture or death.

    Baghdadi became the leader of the militant group in 2010 but it was only in 2014 that ISIS declared the establishment of a “caliphate” – a successor of past Islamic empires – in its territory in Syria and Iraq. — PTI

    Not without Pak, China builds wall Most NSG members positive to India entry; Beijing spoiler

    Not without Pak, China builds wall
    Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto drives Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a restaurant in Mexico City on Wednesday. PTI

    Vienna, June 9

    China is leading opposition to a push by the United States and other major powers for India to join the main club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology, diplomats said on Thursday as the group discussed India’s membership bid.Other countries opposing Indian membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) include New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria, diplomats said.The 48-nation NSG aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by restricting the sale of items that can be used to make those arms.India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington, even though India has developed atomic weapons and never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.Opponents argue that granting it membership would further undermine efforts to prevent proliferation. It would also infuriate Pakistan, which responded to India’s membership bid with one of its own and has the backing of close ally China.“Bringing India on board is a slap on the face of the entire non-proliferation regime,” a diplomatic source from one of a handful of countries resisting India’s push said on condition of anonymity.A decision on the Indian membership is not expected before an NSG plenary meeting in Seoul on June 20, but diplomats said Washington had been pressuring hold-outs, and Thursday’s closed-door meeting was a chance to see how strong the opposition is. US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote to members asking them “not to block consensus on Indian admission to the NSG”.China, however, showed no sign of backing down from its opposition to India joining unless Pakistan becomes a member. That would be unacceptable to many, given Pakistan’s track record — the father of its nuclear weapons programme sold nuclear secrets to countries, including North Korea and Iran.Most of the hold-outs oppose the idea of admitting a non-NPT state such as India and argue that if it is to be admitted, it should be under criteria that apply equally to all states rather than under a “tailor-made” solution for a US ally.  

    India still positive

    “It’s an ongoing process but most countries appear positive,” said diplomatic sources in New Delhi. India has asserted that being a signatory to the NPT was not essential for joining the NSG, citing the precedent of France. The NSG works under the principle of consensus and even one country’s vote against India will scuttle its bid.  — Reuters/PTIMexico, meanwhile, too backs India’s bidNEW DELHI: In what is likely to strengthen India’s case for an entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Mexico on Thursday said it would support India’s membership into the elite grouping. The statement of support was made by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the country.The PM’s five-nation tour, which concluded with Mexico, saw the NSG agenda on top, with Modi pushing for support as India’s application comes up for consideration. Switzerland and the United States have already committed to supporting India. Mexico and Switzerland were initially not a part of the PM’s itinerary but were added specifically for the NSG agenda. TNS



    Terrorism ‘incubated’ in India’s vicinity, PM tells US Congress

    Terrorism ‘incubated’ in India’s vicinity, PM tells US Congress
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a joint meeting of Congress at Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. Vice-President Joe Biden and House Speaker Paul Ryan are seated behind him. PTI

    Simran Sodhi

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, June 8

    In his address to the US Congress in Washington today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about various aspects of the India-US relationship, including ‘shared values’. The new inject was the PM’s statement, “Today, our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history. Comfort, candour and convergence define our conversations.” This could be interpreted as a signal to the US that India is ready to move from being a non-aligned player to a natural ally of the US. Editorial: A matter of proportionsThe PM’s message on terrorism was loud and clear. Without mentioning Pakistan, he said terrorism was being “incubated in India’s neighbourhood” and pressed for action against groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Taliban and ISIS. “Distinguished members, not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia, and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat.In the territory stretching from West of India’s border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Laskhar-e-Taiba to Taliban to ISIS. But, it’s philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence. Although it’s shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India’s neighbourhood.” He commended the members of the US Congress for “sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains,” and thanked the US for showing solidarity during the Mumbai attack.



    The PM started his address by referring to his visit to the Arlington Cemetery two days ago and paid his respects to the brave men and women who laid down their lives for their nations. “Freedom, liberty form strong bonds between our two democracies,” said the PM.  He added that diversity, equal respect for all faiths were some of the values that India shared with the US. “India lives as one, India grows as one, India celebrates as one,” he said. His remarks seemed to convey to the US his government’s response to critiques of intolerance and lack of religious freedom. “For my government, the Constitution is the real holy book,” Modi said and went on to add that “1.25 billion Indians have freedom from fear every moment of their lives.” He recalled former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee had described India and the US as ‘natural allies’ and went on to talk about the 2008 phase.

    Very good speech by PM Modi, his points on terrorism was the highlight: Rodney Davis,US Congressman

    He skipped any mention of the man responsible for the civil nuclear deal then, former PM Manmohan Singh.His tongue-in-cheek reference to the bipartisan workings of the US Congress and the workings of the Indian Parliament provoked a chuckle. He also spoke of the defence purchases that had moved ‘from almost zero to 10 million dollars in less than a decade.” The PM said that strong ties between India and the US could anchor stability- from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. And in his closing remarks, he played to the gallery by quoting famous American poet Walt Whitman: “Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal.’ And to that, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play. ”

    We trade more with the US than with any other nation: PM Modi at US Congress

    Modi and Obama flip the switch on nuclear power

    India, US to start preparatory work on 6 reactors

    WASHINGTON: India and the US agreed on Tuesday to begin preparatory work on building six nuclear reactors in India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Barack Obama, who backed New Delhi’s candidature for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

    AP PHOTOPM Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama during a media interaction at the White House on Tuesday.

    The Nuclear Power Corporation of India and US firm Westinghouse will immediately begin engineering and site design work for the AP1000 nuclear reactors and conclude contractual arrangements by June 2017.

    Obama and Modi welcomed the start of the preparatory work on the reactors, a key step towards closing the first deal based on the landmark US-India civil nuclear deal struck more than a decade ago. India and the US ExportImport Bank will work together on a competitive financing package for the project, the two leaders said in a joint statement. The project will be among the largest of its kind when it is completed and it will fulfil the promise of the civil nuclear agreement.

    Addressing the media with Modi after their talks at the White House that lasted more than an hour, Obama backed India’s entry into the NSG.

    India makes it into missile tech group

    NEW DELHI: Members of the Missile Technology Control Regime, an international anti-proliferation grouping, have agreed to admit India, diplomats said, in a win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    Diplomats with direct knowledge of the matter said a deadline for members of the 34-nation group to object to India’s admission had expired on Monday without any objections.

    Under this ‘silent procedure’, India’s admission follows automatically, diplomats from four member nations said.

    Admission to the MTCR would open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology, also making more realistic its aspiration to buy surveillance drones such as the Predator, made by General Atomics. See page 9

    PM Modi lays wreath, pays homage to Kalpana Chawla


    From page 01 WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday laid a wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers and paid homage to late Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla at Arlington National Cemetery here.

    PTI PHOTOPrime Minister Narendra Modi pays homage at the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington on Monday.

    “Honouring sacrifice, saluting valour. Formal engagements begin with a solemn ceremony,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

    “In homage to heroism and indomitable courage,” Swarup said in another tweet.

    Modi also had a brief interaction with the husband and family members of Chawla, senior officials from Nasa, IndianAmerican astronaut Sunita Williams and her father at Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial.

    “All of us are very honoured that he took time to come and acknowledge the shuttle catastrophe and the deep cooperation that we have with India in the space world,” Williams said. “Personally it is commemorating my friend (Kalpana Chawla),” she said.

    Modi spoke to Sunita’s father in Gujarati and invited them to visit India. “With health permitting, I definitely look forward to visiting India,” her father said.

    Chawla’s husband JeanPierre Harrison presented a set of books on the late astronaut, including a biography written by him, to Modi.

    The Tomb of the Unknowns is a monument dedicated to American service members who died without their remains being identified.

    Japan backs India’s bid for NSG entry

    NEW DELHI: It is a major shot in India’s arm. Japan on Tuesday strongly supported India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and said it was working with the Indian government to garner support from other countries ahead of the bloc’s crucial plenary meetings on June 9 in Vienna and June 24 in Seoul.

    “I hope that India will be the part of the NSG. Japan is working with India to make sure that it becomes a member of the NSG. We are talking to the Indian government on how it can get more support from other countries,” Japan’s envoy to India Kenji Hiramatsu said.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi would pay a visit to Japan this year, the envoy said, adding that no date has yet been finalised. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had visited India in December last year for the annual summit.

    Switzerland backs India’s NSG bid; to help tackle black money

    Switzerland backs India’s NSG bid; to help tackle black money
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands Switzerland’s President Johann Schneider-Ammann before a meeting in Geneva on Monday. PTI

    Geneva, June 6

    India on Monday got the backing of Switzerland in its bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group ahead of the elite group’s crucial meeting even as the two countries resolved to strengthen cooperation in combating tax evasion and black money.Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann announced his country’s support to India’s membership in the 48-member group after holding comprehensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here.Agreeing to expand cooperation in tackling the problem of Indians stashing black money in Swiss banks was one of the key focus areas of the talks between the two leaders besides stepping up ties in areas of trade, investment and vocational training.“We have promised India support in its efforts to become a member of NSG,” Schneider-Ammann said at a joint media interaction.India has been pushing for membership of the bloc for the last few years and had formally moved its application on May 12. The group will take up India’s application in its plenary meetings on June 9 in Vienna and June 24 in Seoul.“I am thankful to the President for Switzerland’s understanding and support for India’s membership of the NSG,” Modi said.The NSG looks after critical issues relating to the nuclear sector and its membership will help India expand its atomic energy sector. Modi also said combating the menace of black money and tax evasion was “shared priority” for both the countries.“We discussed the need for an early and expeditious exchange of information to bring to justice the tax offenders. An early start to negotiations on the agreement on the automatic exchange of information would be important in this respect,” Modi said.On his part, the Swiss President said both the countries are making considerable progress in fighting tax fraud and evasion.