Game Industry

As one of the most significant cultural forms of our time – the video games industry now generates more revenue than its more established film counterpart – games are a neglected but increasingly important part of our heritage. Estimates vary for the precise number of active ‘gamers’ in the UK, but the number of people for whom games are a part of their every day is in the millions.

As a creative industry, the UK video games sector – and, in particular, that in Scotland – punches well above its weight: as well as being the largest market for video games in Europe (and third in the world, behind the US and Japan) the UK is also the third most successful country in the world in terms of games software and hardware sales. This creative and financial success is built upon the UK’s gaming heritage and reputation for innovation and design in the games industry. From the release of the ZX Spectrum by Sinclair Research in the early 1980s and the generation of ‘bedroom coders’ it inspired, to the genre-defining software releases from studios such as Bullfrog (Populous), DMA Design (Lemmings) and Sensible Software (Sensible Soccer), and on to the development of hugely successful current properties including Tomb RaiderTransport TycoonGrand Theft Auto and Batman: Arkham City, this country has left an indelible print on global video game culture. This heritage is to be celebrated, and should be preserved for future generations – not least to encourage these generations to embrace the industry and ensure that Scotland and the rest of the UK retain their place at the top of the games development table for generations to come.

Scotland has enjoyed a long and significant relationship with the video game industry, which continues to this day. Dundee is perhaps most synonymous with video games in Scotland. The city’s relationship with the industry can be traced back to the manufacture of Sir Clive Sinclair’s ZX80 computer in 1980, and the legendary ZX Spectrum that followed. DMA Design – now part of Rockstar North – was responsible for the iconic Lemmings franchise (and the original Grand Theft Auto) while more recent successes include Bafta winners Proper Games (Flock!) and Denki (Quarrel)Other successful games development companies based in Dundee include Spiffing Games, Ruffian Games, Tag Games, Swallowtail Games, Guerilla Tea and Dynamo Games. Dundee-based development companies have also been responsible for porting several high-profile titles to alternative hardware platforms. The multi-million selling Minecraft – already a huge hit on PC and mobile – was ported to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 by 4J Studios, who also handled development of the Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) version of the immensely popular Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion title. Dundee is also home to YoYo Games, developers of the renowned and hugely popular GameMaker: Studio.

However, the industry thrives across Scotland with Rockstar North – developer of the wildly successful Grand Theft Auto series – now employing over 200 people in Edinburgh and dozens of successful smaller developers, often working in the growing mobile (phone and tablet) space, based in the capital (Interface3, Nevistech, Pixels on Toast), Glasgow (One Thumb Mobile, Chunk Games, Firebrand Games) and elsewhere (Chris Sawyer Games, Hunted Cow Studios).

The annual Edinburgh Interactive Festival is one of the largest game-related events in the UK and attracts keynote speakers from all of the biggest players in the business. Celebrating its tenth year in 2012, the EIF was originally founded by the CEO of the UK-wide games industry body TIGA with backing from Scottish Enterprise. It is currently led by David Yarnton, former Managing Director of Nintendo UK, with support from The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE). Established in 2000, Dare to be Digital is an internationally renowned video games design competition for university students and recent graduates, started by and held at University of Abertay in Dundee. Teams work together under a tight deadline to develop a functional game prototype over the summer, with the winning teams forming the nominees of the BAFTA ‘Ones to Watch’ Award.

Scotland is also home to a large number of leading games development degree programmes, including those based at The University of Abertay in Dundee, Glasgow Caledonian University and The University of the West of Scotland – all of which work closely with the country’s leading games development companies to ensure that Scotland continues to develop new talent. All disciplines associated with games development are catered for by such institutions, including 3D and 2D animation, game design, game production, AI programming and game engine and tool development.

The story of the games development industry in Scotland since its inception in the late 1970s is, as in the rest of the UK, sparsely documented.  There are certainly parallels with the first few decades of the film industry, but whereas the earliest days of that venerable industry are lost to living memory, there currently exists an opportunity to record, from first hand sources, the successful development of Scotland’s unique game industry.

The timing for an examination of Scotland’s games industry is ideal: video games have never been more popular. The explosion of smartphones capable of supporting a huge range of high-quality games, coupled with the phenomenal success of platforms such as Nintendo DS and Wii, have dramatically expanded the market for video games since the turn of the century, and led to more people in the UK (and beyond) playing games than ever before. Growth in the mobile games sector, in particular, has helped sustain the 50+ games development companies currently operating in Scotland. At the same time, those developers who created the first video games are still here and – in many cases – still developing games.

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At wit’s end

When the cartoon is turned into a target, democracy becomes a joke

Morphing done with graphic software like Adobe Photoshop, is part of the current practice of cartooning the world over today. It is no more offensive than the hand-done caricaturing by the conventional practitioner.

As a far-from-restrained poll campaign is coming to a close, the cartoon has made news — again for the wrong reason. Priyanka Sharma, a BJP youth activist from Bengal, was arrested for sharing a morphed image of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on social media. The screen image was seen by the state as offensive enough for detention. The Supreme Court granted bail to Priyanka and asked her to apologise.

The relief is partial; the cartoonish image remains an offence. Morphing such as this, done with graphic softwares like Adobe Photoshop, is part of the current practice of cartooning the world over today. It is no more offensive than the hand-done caricaturing by the conventional practitioner. If anything, the software extends the scope as well as the spirit of cartooning to amateurs and citizen cartoonists with sufficient wit but insufficient drawing skills. This is precisely the kind of irreverence and fearlessness that mature democracies seek to promote in citizens, enough to make them whistleblowers at a pinch.

This poll campaign began on a much happier note for the cartoonist. Early on, there was even a flattering mention of the wicked pencil. On March 27, briefing Chennai journalists on the Congress flagship NYAY, an unusual Chidambaram exceeded the welfarist brief to mention the big picture. Alluding to Tagore’s “heaven of freedom”, he asked the media gathering if they didn’t want their days of freedom back, when TV shows could be anchored without stress and cartoons could be drawn without fear. He wound up on the broad note that this election had much to do with democracy itself.

Through the campaign itself, such high-minded articulation was hardly heard from any quarter. Least of all in Tamil Nadu, whose politicians had good reasons to remember a cartoon and its content. In November 2017, not very long ago, a freelance cartoonist Bala G had posted on Facebook his reaction to the self-immolation of farmer Essakimuthu and his debt-trapped family in front of the Tirunelveli district collector’s office. The cartoon showed the district police chief, the collector and the chief minister in the buff trying to cover themselves with currency notes even as a man in front was burning to death. The 36-yea-old cartoonist was arrested on a Sunday in Chennai for obscene representation of the CM and officers under section 501 of the IPC and section 67 of the IT Act.

Whether nudity could be equated with obscenity was raised by jurists then. K Chandru, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, even cited in an article the iconic Abu Abraham cartoon carried in this newspaper showing President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed in a bathtub signing away ordinances. The cartoon didn’t pull punches and was quite explicit by Abu’s standards — usually more subversive and subtle rather than direct. Mostly Indian cartoonists leave the President alone. An early exceptional appearance was made by V V Giri in a Rajinder Puri cartoon as a rubber stamp in the Indira era. But that was no more than the public perception then.

Whether nudity could be equated with obscenity was raised by jurists then. K Chandru, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, even cited in an article the iconic Abu Abraham cartoon carried in this newspaper showing President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed in a bathtub signing away ordinances. The cartoon didn’t pull punches and was quite explicit by Abu’s standards — usually more subversive and subtle rather than direct. Mostly Indian cartoonists leave the President alone. An early exceptional appearance was made by V V Giri in a Rajinder Puri cartoon as a rubber stamp in the Indira era. But that was no more than the public perception then.

Interestingly, the Bala cartoon was taken note of in 2018 by Justice G R Swaminathan, a judge of the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court. While examining offence caused by another cartoonist in another case, the judge referred to how DMK chief and the state’s opposition leader M K Stalin condemned the arrest of Bala and asked the offended parties to seek inspiration from their leader. Here, three DMK MLAs were angered by a cartoon that appeared in the Tamil daily, Dinamalar.

जीवन का उद्देश्य

प्रश्न हमारे अनुभव को रेखांकित करता है फिर चाहे हम उसके विषय में सजगता से सोचें अथवा नहीं। जीवन का उद्देश्य क्या है? मैने इस विषय पर सोचा है और मैं अपने विचार उन लोगों के साथ बाँटना चाहता हूँ, इस आशा में कि वे उन लोगों के लिए प्रत्यक्ष और व्यावहारिक रूप से लाभदायक हो सके.
मैं यह मानता हूँ कि जीवन का उद्देश्य सुखी रहना है। जन्म के क्षण से ही, सभी मनुष्य सुख चाहते हैं, दुःख नहीं. न ही सामाजिक अनुबन्धन, न शिक्षा, न ही कोई सिद्धांत इसे प्रभावित कर सकते हैं. हमारे अंतर्मन से हम केवल संतोष की कामना करते हैं. मैं नही जानता कि इन अनगिनत आकाशगंगाओं, तारों, ग्रहों वाले ब्रह्मांड का कोई गहन अर्थ है अथवा नहीं, परन्तु कम से कम यह तो स्पष्ट है कि हम मनुष्य जो इस धरती पर रहते हैं, के सामने यह एक कठिन कार्य है कि हम अपने लिए एक सुखी जीवन बनाएँ. इसलिए इसका पता लगाना महत्त्वपूर्ण है कि कौन सी वस्तु अधिक से अधिक सुख दे सकती है.

आंतरिक शांति की अधिकतम मात्रा प्रेम तथा करुणा के विकास से आती है.दूसरों के प्रति एक सद्भाव का विकास करना अपने चित्त में स्वाभाविक रूप से चित्त को सहजता देता है. हममें जो भी भय अथवा असुरक्षा की भावना हो, उसे दूर करने में सहायक होता है. यह जीवन में सफलता का परम स्रोत है. हम इस संसार में जब तक जीवित हैं तब तक बाधाओं का सामना करना हमारे लिए अवश्यंभावी है.यदि ऐसे अवसरों पर हम आशा छोड़ कर निरुत्साहित हो जाएँ, तो हम अपनी कठिनाइयों का सामना करने की क्षमता को कम करते हैं.

अन्ततः प्रेम और करुणा सबसे अधिक सुख क्यों प्रदान करते हैं, उसका कारण है कि हमारी अपनी प्रकृति उसे सबसे अधिक सॅंजोती है. मानवीय अस्तित्व के मूल में ही प्रेम की आवश्यकता है. इसका कारण है एक गहन अंतर्निर्भरता की भावना, जो हम सबमें है. व्यक्ति चाहे कितना ही योग्य तथा कुशल क्यों न हो, उसे अकेले छोड़ दिया जाए तो वह जी नहीं सकता. कोई अपनी सम्पन्नता के जीवन काल में चाहे जितना बलशाली तथा स्वतंत्र क्यों न अनुभव करे, जब कोई बीमार होता है या फिर आयु में बहुत छोटा अथवा ढलती उम्र का होता है तो व्यक्ति को दूसरों के सहारे पर निर्भर होना ही पड़ता है. अधिक करुणाशील होने का प्रयास – अर्थात् हम दूसरों के दुःखों के प्रति सच्ची करुणा की भावना और उनकी पीड़ा दूर करने के लिए निश्चय की भावना का विकास कर सकते हैं.परिणामस्वरूप, हमारी अपनी शांति और आंतरिक शाक्ति अधिक होगी.

आजकल कई बच्चे दुःखभरे घरों में बड़े होते हैं. यदि उन्हें ढंग का प्यार नहीं मिलता, तो अपने आगामी जीवन में वे शायद ही अपने माता पिता से प्रेम करेंगे और संभव है दूसरों से प्रेम करना उनके लिए कठिन होगा. यह बहुत शोचनीय है.यदि कोई मानवीय संवेदनाओं से भर कर बोलता है तो उसे सुनने में हमें आनंद आता है और हम उसी के अनुसार प्रतिक्रिया देते हैं; पूरी बातचीत दिलचस्प हो जाती है, फिर चाहे वह विषय कितना ही कम महत्त्वपूर्ण क्यों न हो. दूसरी ओर, यदि कोई व्यक्ति बहुत ही भावशून्य होकर या फिर बडे ही कर्कशता से बोलता है, तो हम अशान्त से हो जाते हैं और चाहते हैं कि वह उस बातचीत को शीघ्र ही समाप्त कर दे. छोटी से छोटी घटना से लेकर सबसे महत्त्वपूर्ण घटना में भी दूसरों के लिए प्रेम और सम्मान हमारे सुख के लिए महत्त्वपूर्ण है.


मेरा विश्वास है कि कोई भी प्रेम की आवश्यकता का अभाव लेकर पैदा नहीं होता और इससे यह प्रदर्शित होता है कि यद्यपि आज की कुछ विचारधाराएँ इस ओर प्रयास कर रही है पर मनुष्यों को मात्र भौतिक रूप से परिभाषित नहीं किया जा सकता। कोई भी भौतिक वस्तु फिर चाहे वह कितनी ही सुन्दर या मूल्यवान क्यों न हो, हममें प्रेम की भावना नहीं भर सकती क्योंकि हमारा गहन अस्तित्व और सच्चा चरित्र चित्त के व्यक्तिपरक प्रकृति में निहित है. हम चाहे इस बात के प्रति सजग हों अथवा ना हों, परन्तु जिस दिन से हम पैदा हुए हैं, मानवीय प्रेम के प्रति हमारी आवश्यकता हमारे रक्त में है.

कुछ लोग कहते हैं जहाँ प्रेम और करुणा अनोखी तथा अच्छी है पर वास्तव में उनकी कोई प्रासंगिकता नहीं है. उनका कहना है कि हमारा संसार ऐसा स्थान नहीं है जहाँ ऐसे विश्वासों का बहुत अधिक प्रभाव अथवा शक्ति हो. उनका दावा है कि क्रोध तथा घृणा मानवीय स्वभाव के ऐसे अंग बन चुके हैं कि वे सदा मानव समाज पर हावी होते रहेंगे. मैं इससे सहमत नहीं हूँ. हम मनुष्य इस रूप में सैकड़ों हज़ारों वर्षों से हैं. मेरा विश्वास है कि यदि इस दौरान मनुष्य का चित्त मुख्य रूप से क्रेाध तथा घृणा के वश में होता तो हमारी कुल जनसंख्या कम हो जाती.। परन्तु हमारे सभी युद्धों के बावजूद, हम पाते हैं कि मनुष्य की जनसंख्या पहले से कहीं अधिक है. इससे मुझे स्पष्ट होता है कि संसार में प्रेम तथा करुणा प्रबल है.

करुणा मानसिक लाभ के साथ अच्छे स्वास्थ्य में भी योगदान करता है. मेरे निजी अनुभव के आधार पर मानसिक दृढ़ता तथा अच्छे स्वास्थ्य का सीधा संबंध है. इसको लेकर कोई प्रश्न ही नहीं उठता कि क्रोध तथा बेचैनी सबसे बड़ी बीमारी हैं और कमज़ोर बनाती है. दूसरी ओर यदि हमारा चित्त शांत हो और सकारात्मक विचारों से भरा हो तो शरीर बहुत सरलता से रोग का शिकार नहीं बनता.

परन्तु यह भी सच है कि हम सबमें एक आंतरिक आत्म केन्द्रितता है जो हमें दूसरों के प्रति प्रेम व्यक्त करने से संकुचित करती है. इसलिए चूँकि हम सच्चा सुख चाहते हैं जो कि केवल एक शांत चित्त से आता है और चूँकि इस प्रकार की मानसिक शांति केवल एक करुणापूर्ण प्रवृत्ति से आती है, तो हम इसका विकास किस प्रकार से कर सकते हैं? स्पष्ट है कि हमारे लिए केवल यह सोचना पर्याप्त नहीं है कि करुणा भाव कितनी अच्छी है. हमें उसके विकास के लिए एक गहन प्रयास करना होगा. अपने विचारों तथा आचरण में परिवर्तन लाने के लिए हमें अपने दैनिक जीवन की सभी घटनाओं को काम में लाना होगा.

सबसे पहले तो हममें इस बात को लेकर स्पष्टता होनी चाहिए कि करुणा से हमारा तात्पर्य क्या है. कई प्रकार की करुणात्मक भावनाएँ इच्छाओं तथा मोह से मिली होती है. उदाहरण के लिए माता पिता अपने बच्चों के प्रति जिस प्यार का अनुभव करते हैं उसमें अकसर उनकी अपनी भावनात्मक आवश्यकताएँ होती है. इसलिए वह पूरी तरह से करुणाशील नहीं है.फिर वैवाहिक जीवन में भी पति तथा पत्नी के बीच का प्रेम-खासकर प्रारंभ के दिनों में, जबकि वे दोनों एक दूसरे के चरित्र के बारे में अच्छे से नहीं जानते-सच्चे प्रेम के स्थान पर अधिकतर मोह पर निर्भर करता है. हमारी इच्छाएँ इतनी प्रबल होती है कि जिस व्यक्ति के प्रति हमारा मोह है वह हमें अच्छा प्रतीत होता है, जबकि वास्तव में वह बहुत ही नकारात्मक होता अथवा होती है. इसके अतिरिक्त हममें छोटे सकारात्मक गुणों को बढा चढ़ा कर कहने की प्रवृत्ति होती है. इसलिए जब एक साथी की प्रवृत्ति बदलती है तो दूसरा साथी भी अकसर निराश हो जाता है और उसकी प्रवृत्ति भी बदल जाता अथवा जाती है. यह इस बात का संकेत है कि प्रेम दूसरे व्यक्ति के प्रति सच्ची चिंता के बजाय वैयक्तिक आवश्यकताओं से अधिक प्रेरित हुआ है.

सच्ची करुणा केवल एक भावनात्मक उत्तर नहीं, पर कारणों के आधार पर एक दृढ़ प्रतिबद्धता है. इसलिए यदि वे नकारात्मक रूप से आचरण करें तो भी दूसरों के प्रति एक सच्चा करुणात्मक व्यवहार नहीं बदलता, निश्चित रूप से इस प्रकार की करुणा बिलकुल भी आसान नहीं है.

PMO Exposed –

My Story – PMO exposed in May 2018.

No photo description available.

The gestures and nuances of talks of Ajay Shekhar Sharma, SVP of Paytm, in the sting video conducted by senior investigative journalist Pushp Sharma (known for his Undercover operations in India) apparently depicts the close association with political party in power and RSS, and all this leads the conclusion that there’s is a closely knitted nexus between Indian political parties, extremist groups and so called ‘Startups’.

On November 8, 2016, the Government of India announced the demonetization of all Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 banknotes with an aim to curtail the shadow economy and crack down on the use of illicit and counterfeit cash to fund illegal activity and terrorism. The exercise was described as “a case study in poor policy and even poorer execution” by the Harvard Business Review.


The sting operation exposed government and BJP fully because it was speculated earlier as well. The decision to carry the PM’s image sparked political rumours – whether Paytm knew the decision, how could a company take a decision so quick, whether BJP was hand in glove with the company.
The announcement was made by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, in a live televised address late in the evening, and the next morning on November 9, leading newspapers in India had full-page advertisements on the front page from Paytm congratulating the Prime Minister for ‘taking the boldest decision in the financial history of independent India’. Many criticized the company for hailing the government’s move since the sudden nature of the announcement and the prolonged cash shortages in the weeks that followed created significant disruption throughout the economy.
https://www.moneycontrol.com/…/demonetisation-how-paytm-gai… 
This article goes defining 
Demonetisation: How Paytm gained from note ban and why it used PM Modi’s pic in ads 
Paytm COO reveals for the first time ever how the company managed to get ads published in front pages of newspapers just the night after demonetisation and how the company has grown since then…
Note – Officially private companies can’t use photograph of PM but PAYTM and JIO (company of Modi’ friend richest Indian Mukesh Ambani did ) 
Paytm’s affinity with the BJP Government
In the alleged conversation, Ajay clearly states his political affiliations and shares that the company has done a lot for the ‘Sangh’, a reference to Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh, the right-wing Hindu nationalist organization that ideologically steers the ruling Indian government.

On May 25, investigative news publication, Cobrapost released a video as part of an exhaustive ‘sting’ operation dubbed ‘Operation 136’. The investigative report is based on an interaction with an undercover journalist Pushp Sharma posing as a religious organization’s head looking for an opportunity to peddle its propaganda via Paytm and the company’s e-commerce store, Paytm Mall.
The video shows Ajay Shekhar Sharma, a Senior Vice President at Paytm, sharing with undercover investigative journalist Pushp Sharma how the PMO had asked for the personal data of some Paytm users in the aftermath of stone-pelting by the locals confronting Indian armed forces in Jammu & Kashmir. This, if true, is a breach of company’s privacy policy.
Background and Connection with PM – 
Paytm and rivals saw multi-fold growth the night after demonetization 
According to Forbes, its speculated worth close to 20 Billion US$ 
https://www.forbes.com/…/…/12/03/is-paytm-worth-20-billion/… 
In March 2015, Paytm received its funding from Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group based in Hangzhou, China , after Ant Financial Services Group, an Alibaba Group affiliate, took 25% stake in One97 as part of a strategic agreement.

PAYTM owner Vijay Shekhar Sharma with PM

PMO denied giving details under Right of Information Act 2005-

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• This is the response from PMO – Post May 2018 (post airing sting operation) people made independent effort to take information from PMO in this regard but as usual, PMO didn’t disclose any information. Neither PMO ordered to conduct any inquiry in this matter and didn’t respond even.

Growth – 
Paytm was, of course, one of the biggest beneficiaries of demonetization (along with other mobile wallet services). Due to the cash shortage, more and more people signed up for mobile wallets and in the next one month, Paytm added over 20 million new users and Vijay Shekhar Sharma became India’s youngest billionaire.

Paytm’s founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma (Company owner) and his staff saw an opportunity and put everything they had into it; Sharma has said that he and his staff did 600 days’ worth of work in 60. They ran full-page ads the following day praising Modi for “taking the boldest decision in the financial history of independent India,” a stunt that was not without its critics. Opposition politician Rahul Gandhi suggested Paytm stood for “Pay to Modi” (it is actually Payment through mobile).

Sharma’s catch-phrase is ‘Go big or go home’ – it is on his office wall, on his coffee mugs, all over his interviews – and he certainly ran big on demonetization.

Next Course of Action
Needless to say as both the company and the government are in question, its a matter of serious question who will investigate into this matter further. In past, over dozen of media outlets including a Softbank-backed digital media startup was uncovered for peddling propaganda but since then not a iota of investigation or inquiry was proposed from government or any of its agencies.
Earlier Prime Minister Modi’s own app Namo was also accused of giving users data to a company outside the country. This too was denied by govt agencies and the case was set aside without doing any investigation further. 
Can you #DeletePaytm?
A lot of social media chatter since the Cobrapost exposé is about users deleting their Paytm account because of the privacy breach and the mingling with the government. Mostly a knee-jerk reaction, it is also fueled by that uninspiring clarification by Paytm.

Yet, for those interested in closing their accounts, Paytm does not make it easy. There’s no option on the Web or on the apps to delete one’s account. The only legitimate way to request closure of the account is by writing to the company’s support email.
Then again, many believe that the account is just deactivated and the user information is not necessarily expunged. Paytm also has to come clean on this while offering a better mechanism for users jumping the ship.
At the moment, it’s stormy waters all around.

Rafale deal: The controversy and some unanswered questions

Claims and counterclaims are flying thick and fast over India’s deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft as the Congress-led opposition is relentlessly raising questions over the financial terms of the agreement and alleging crony capitalism while the government is rubbishing the accusations.

A closer look is in order to establish whether there is any merit in the opposition’s charges that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government ended up paying a lot more for the French manufactured jets than the price which was being negotiated by its predecessor, and that Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence will be a key financial beneficiary at the expense of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The NDA government, in April 2015, announced the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets off the shelf, about three years after the then Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had selected Rafale for purchase from among competing aircraft. However, the UPA government had planned to buy 126 fighter jets, 108 of which were to be made in India by HAL.

Therefore, the NDA government has argued that the final deal with Dassault Aviation, which manufactures Rafale fighter jets, is not comparable with the UPA’s original negotiations. It has also dismissed the charge of favouring a private company over HAL, saying the government had no say in Dassault Aviation in choosing to partner Reliance Defence to meet its offset or export obligations.

IS INDIA PAYING TOO MUCH?

The Congress has maintained that the government bought the jets at an inflated price of 7.87 billion euros (about Rs 59,000 crore). Congress president alleged that the NDA government paid Rs 1,670 crore per aircraft while the UPA government had negotiated a price of Rs 570 crore. However, the defence ministry’s internal calculations, show that each Rafale jet works out Rs 59 crore cheaper than what it would have cost under the UPA deal.

The notes state that with the India specific enhancements, under the UPA’s terms the Rafale jets would have cost Rs 1,705 crore per jet, compared with the Rs 1,646 crore the NDA government negotiated for the purchase of 36 combat aircraft. A big component of the cost is attributed to India-specific enhancements to the jets, from the ability to take off from high-altitude stations such as Leh to an enhanced infrared search and track sensor and a potent electronic jammer pod. The cost of these enhancements has been taken as standard – they will cost the same for 36 jets as they would for 126 – since these are one-time research and development costs.

Given the complexity of the deal, the Congress could argue that the 36 jets should have been way cheaper since they were being bought off the shelf. The government, on its part, says that not only are the jets negotiated by it cheaper but also armed with cutting-edge weapons and more efficient with a performance guarantee clause.

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Will Reliance Defence Gain at HAL’s Expense?

The Congress has alleged that the deal “gifted” offsets to the tune of 3.9 billion euros to Reliance Defence, which has no experience of making jets or defence equipment, inflicting massive losses on HAL. As per the UPA deal, the jets were to be made in India by HAL.

Since this was never finalised and subsequently cancelled by the NDA government, an offset clause kicked in for the direct, off- the-shelf purchase. The clause mandated that French companies invest at least 50% of the contract value in projects or work given to Indian entities. Offsets are designed to help nurture local manufacturers to absorb global technology and imbibe best practices and technology to be able to compete with the world’s top companies.

So, What’s the Real Deal?

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The offset clause kicks in only three years after signing of the contract. This means, the French companies will have to deliver on offsets from October 2019. The government, therefore, is making a technical argument that no offset contracts have been approved, simply because the work is to start next year and Dassault Aviation would be obligated to take permissions from the defence ministry to approve its Indian partners only then. However, there is little doubt that the Dassault Reliance Aviation Ltd (DRAL) joint venture has been acknowledged and supported by both the Indian and French governments.

In October 2017, French defence minister Florence Parly, India’s road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis were present at the inauguration of DRAL’s first facility in Nagpur.

The government’s point is that the Congress could not seal the deal when it was in power because Dassault Aviation and HAL could not strike a deal. The talks to make the jets in India broke down irreparably in 2012-14. The only way to have bought the Rafale jets after this impasse was to cancel the old deal and negotiate afresh. That HAL was the casualty in this reworked deal is clear.

Unanswered Questions

Amid the raging debate over pricing and offsets deal, a number of questions are yet to be fully answered. Will the Jets be Delivered Earlier? The government has claimed that it struck a deal for buying the fighters off the shelf – at the cost of sacrificing the Make in India concept – so as to get quicker delivery of the aircraft and secure the country’s defence. However, the 36 Rafale jets are to be delivered within 67 months of the signing that took place in October 2016. The first of these jets will not arrive before October 2019. The time frame is similar to the delivery schedule under the UPA-negotiated deal, which envisaged getting 18 jets off the shelf. Internal documents show that the government’s assessment is that it saved “five months” in the delivery schedule with its off the-shelf purchase. Given that not a single jet is being made in India, this does not amount to a significant saving on delivery time.

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Can Sovereign Guarantee Replace Bank Guarantee?

In the Rafale deal, the French negotiated a mechanism as per which its government would act as guarantor. This was a departure from regular commercial purchases, where the winning company is required by law to furnish guarantees from an international bank that can be encashed by the purchaser in case deliveries are not made on time after payments have been made.

There was significant discomfort on the Indian side when this was being discussed as the French assurances were not “watertight”, according to a section of the bureaucracy.

Significantly, among the seven reasons cited for withdrawing the UPA version of the deal in June 2015 was Dassault Aviation’s failure to furnish performance and warranty bonds and its refusal to act as a single point of responsibility.

It’s unclear how the government resolved the issue of absence of bank guarantee given clear reluctance in the bureaucracy. Moreover, it is not clear whether adequate safeguards have been built into the contract to ensure that India can penalise the manufacturer for violations such as delivery delays or a failure to meet offset obligations.

Why was Cheaper Option Rejected?

The government’s internal notes show that a key reason for scrapping the UPA’s Rafale deal was that the French aircraft, though initially thought to be cheaper, was turning out to be more expensive than the Eurofighter after detailed commercial discussions.

So it is unclear why the government selected the Rafale jets for purchase. The Indian Air Force had selected the Rafale jets after an elaborate process during the UPA regime. But it was not the only aircraft to be selected – the air force had also found the Eurofighter, built by EADS, as compliant with the requirements. When the NDA government decided to buy 36 new jets, it did not consider the Eurofighter, which was cheaper, as per the government’s analysis, as per the terms of the previous deal. In July 2014, Germany had even made an offer to the NDA government to further reduce the price of the Eurofighter by 20%, but India didn’t respond.

The Germans had also promised to divert deliveries of Eurofighter Typhoon jets from Britain, Italy and Germany to meet India’s needs on an urgent basis. However, no negotiations were carried out after it became clear that only the Rafale was being considered by the Indian government. 
Critics argue that detailed discussions with Germany could have at least forced Dassault to offer a more competitive price for Rafale jets. That’s why, they say, talks with only a single vendor are avoided as much as possible under the defence procurement rules.

Why Only 36 Fighter Jets?

The biggest mystery has been how the government decided to strike a deal for 36 Rafale jets and not more given the much larger requirement of the Indian Air Force. After all, the figure of 126 aircraft was arrived at after much analysis to replace older generation Russian jets that are being retired. Even when discussions with the French side started for a fresh deal, the air force held on to its minimum requirement. It is believed that at one point, the top leadership projected that to maintain a viable fleet, it would require at least 72 fighter jets of the type and that anything below this would be sub-optimal.

However, the final deal for 36 fighter jets was struck without even a follow on clause to purchase a similar number in the future (if required) at similar prices. As a result, the air force is now hard pressed for resources. Limiting the purchase of the cutting-edge fighter jets to 36 and the near cancellation of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft programme with Russia have left the air force at a dangerous precipice. If its plans to acquire 116 fighter jets under a Make in India programme do not take off within a year, 2022 will see its aerial combat edge dropping to an all-time low.

France fills the American arms void

– France fills the American arms void

Gulf states are scrambling to buy the French Rafale fighter jet, the highly-profitable backbone of Hollande’s real politik economic diplomacy.

France brandished the Rafale as the centerpiece of major new diplomatic strides.

Recently a $12 billion deal with Saudi Arabia announced, the Rafale has become the backbone of Paris’s real politik economic diplomacy aimed at sustaining its global stature and capitalizing on recent rifts in the United States’ relations with its partners.

Gulf states are signing defense contracts with Paris to express their discontent with American policies in the wake of the Iran nuclear negotiations.

The fact that the Iran talks have excluded Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners while ignoring Tehran’s regional meddling has led Gulf partners to question the American commitment to their security, especially after the administration’s backtracking on a Syrian chemical weapons red line. 
Spotting an opportunity, France has stepped in to fill the void.

France adopted a hard line from the beginning of the Iran nuclear talks to both distinguish itself from the United States and to cultivate closer ties with the Saudis and other nervous Gulf states. It continues to push for a UN Security Council resolution enforcing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, forcing the Obama administration to seek a postponement of any vote on the issue.

Presenting an alternative to the United States on such key regional issues has helped Paris put the Rafale on the map and secure billions in regional defense contracts over the past year, raising French arms exports to the highest level in 15 years.

In Egypt, France capitalized on the contentious U.S. arms suspension that began in late 2013 to secure a Rafale deal in February, which came on the heels of the Egyptian navy’s purchase of four French corvettes last summer.

Even though the United States ended the suspension earlier this year, France’s military deals are not tied to mutual security objectives and have no conditions requiring Cairo to undertake political reforms. As Egypt’s experience shows, France has emerged as an attractive, no-strings-attached alternative for states seeking to sidestep the scrutiny of U.S. conditional aid.

Saudi Arabia, the Gulf’s geopolitical heavyweight and one of the United States’ most important regional partners, has also followed suit. King Salman of Saudi Arabia skipped US President’ Camp but he sent French President François Hollande a royal invitation to the GCC summit in Riyadh. As the first foreign leader to attend the summit, Hollande’s presence sent a stark signal to the United States that the GCC has another reliable partner in the West.

But Hollande’s attendance at a ceremony in Doha before the summit was even more significant. France benefits from U.S.-Qatari tensions stemming from Qatar’s support for radical Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood affiliates from Libya to Syria, which has led to dangerously destabilizing competition for influence with some of its Gulf neighbors with closer U.S. ties. Seeing its chance, Paris seized the opportunity to sell Doha 24 Rafale fighter jets and other military equipment worth $7 billion.

Hollande used the sale of the Rafales, which beat out the Eurofighter Typhoon and the U.S.-built Boeing F-15 for the contract, to trumpet France’s credibility in the Gulf. Qatar originally sought 72 fighters and may yet pursue a split-buy with the U.S. aircraft, but Boeing F-15 production might not last past the end of the decade should Doha make its French deal exclusive.

French-Qatari relations are not spotless, but they still outshine the anemic U.S.-Qatari relationship. These political losses for the United States continue to translate into French defense-industrial gains.

Saudi Arabia did not opt for the Rafale, but Paris has stewarded bilateral cooperation that will grow significantly as France works to breathe life back into its ailing defense industry. The French hope to translate the momentum towards joint efforts to counter Hezbollah into new defense deals.

At a French-Saudi summit in late 2013, the kingdom announced it would provide $3 billion to the Lebanese army for the exclusive purchase of French weapons to be delivered by 2018.

In addition to these more recent developments, France has been Saudi Arabia’s primary naval supplier and partner in joint exercises since the 1980s, due to the Saudis’ preference for French surface crafts. The two countries have also profited from an upsurge in bilateral military and civil trade.

With these new sales under its belt, Hollande’s government hopes that the United Arab Emirates will be the next Gulf state to hop on the Rafale bandwagon. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian discussed the aircraft with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, reopening negotiations that stalled in 2011. Once again, U.S. contractors stand to lose out.

Paris is also applying its lessons from the Middle East elsewhere, taking advantage of a growing trend among historically “nonaligned” countries seeking out high-quality French military hardware and circumventing the frustrating U.S. foreign military sales system.

Most recently, Paris brokered a deal with India to update its aging air force with 36 Rafale fighters, worth an estimated $8.7 billion ( on inflated price due to shady corporate / government dealings).

This success has secured France’s diplomatic clout abroad, but it will also shore up the country’s economy. The defense industry, supporting 400,000 jobs, remains one of the few relatively stable holdouts in an otherwise ailing economy.

The recent row over France’s intended Mistral warship deal to Russia underscores how important the sector is to Hollande’s government. Even under immense pressure and political castigation from its NATO allies amid the Ukraine crisis, France was, until recently, prepared to move forward with the order to protect the 1,400 jobs the contract supplied.

France will not supplant the United States as an alternative security guarantor for the Middle East. Despite recent instability in its regional relationships, the United States maintains a forward military presence no other country could sustain. And for all of their bluster, Gulf partners still rely on Washington’s superior capabilities and will to act. But until relations between the United States and its Middle Eastern partners stabilize, France is happy to present an outlet for regional actors to express their dissatisfaction in exchange for lucrative defense deals.

With the Rafale leading the charge, this new brand of economic diplomacy is allowing one of Europe’s major powers to amplify its influence in the Middle East and beyond. Through the Rafale, French influence is seeping into the political cracks and fissures of the United States’ Gulf partnerships. From Iran to the Israel-Palestine issue, France’s tough talk has won many admirers in the region. And as its Rafale deals have shown, this talk is anything but cheap.

Bollywood’s love affair with the Forces / Vardi

Has the film industry suddenly developed a massive crush, or is it just election year excitement?

Still from Parmanu

Fifty days after the Pulwama terrorist attack, acknowledged as an intelligence failure even by the BJP-appointed governor of Jammu and Kashmir, the Hindi film Romeo Akbar Walter arrived. John Abraham plays a bank clerk, recruited by RAW to gather information in Pakistan as rumours of the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 swirl about. He leaves home and vows never to come back, and asks only that his mother be taken care of.

As its name suggests, this is the sort of film where everything has a double entendre. At the end of the film, the double meaning of mother is underlined — Abraham couldn’t perform his mother’s last rites but his motherland is in good hands. Major M.S. Grewal, the father of the film’s director Robbie Grewal, worked in military intelligence.

No bullets here
The trailer of India’s Most Wanted, starring Arjun Kapoor and slated for a May release, is also out. The promotional material says it is the story of the capture of ‘India’s most wanted’ terrorist without firing a single bullet. The success of the intelligence team is signposted in the promos.

Batla House, slotted for release on Independence Day, is based on the infamous encounter of 2008 when two suspected terrorists, and one ‘encounter specialist’, Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of the Delhi Police, were killed in Delhi’s Batla House. This one too stars Abraham, who has built up quite a filmography of ‘intelligence’ films.

Earlier this year in Uri, Paresh Rawal played the role of the Modi government’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval. Rawal’s character is called Govind Bhardwaj, and he sports a moustache similar to Doval’s. He uses information from RAW, ISRO and DRDO to strategise a ‘surgical strike’. Doval, an intelligence man himself, served as director of the Intelligence Bureau, the country’s internal spying department, set up by the British in the 1880s (RAW came into being in the 1960s, in the aftermath of the Sino-Indian war, and is responsible for foreign espionage).

Still from Madras Cafe

There is a clear message in these movies: that there are, deep within the government, officers working ceaselessly to keep you safe. The men of the government are mostly shown as slow and dull, with splendid inertia and annoying questions, while the men of action save the day.

Crush on the intelligence

Like everyone else here, I hate government offices. It is insufferable to be told that there are some officers who work hard when you still have to submit documents in quintuplicate at government offices and never encounter these industrious officers yourself. More importantly, it feeds a disingenuous narrative — the idea that things are ‘under control’ and that the state knows everything there is to know, the ‘surgical strike’ narrative of omniscience.

It is easy to imagine that this on-screen romance with the intelligence community is timed with an important election year, particularly for a right-wing government pumped up on national security concerns. But the Mumbai film industry’s crush on the intelligence forces goes further back, at least to 2012, when Kahaani and Ek Tha Tiger were massive hits.

Espionage thrillers

Still from Ek Tha Tiger.


Hollywood’s long-standing love affair with the CIA is well known. Films like Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, and TV series like Homeland and 24 rolled out after 9/11. But the association goes even further back, to the years following World War II, when there were Nazi-hunting espionage thrillers like Notorious, Where Eagles Dare and Marathon Man. The 90s (and the end of the Cold War) spawned films based on Tom Clancy novels — The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger. In all these films, American intelligence is heroic and correct: Zero Dark Thirty justifies the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay because it leads to the capture of Osama bin Laden. The PR exercise that Hollywood performs for the CIA is well documented in books such as Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood, which notes that the CIA invited Tom Clancy to meet them. Actor Ben Affleck who played the Clancy character Jack Ryan was also invited by the CIA, and the result of these meetings was Argo.

On a budget
RAW and other Indian intelligence agencies had a budget of ₹60,000 crore in 2018. As lawyer Prashant Bhushan argued in a PIL before the Supreme Court, this is roughly ₹5,000 crore more than India’s health budget for that year. The PIL asked for an audit of how the intelligence forces spent this money, but the SC dismissed it saying national security would be compromised. Do RAW and IB pay Bollywood for PR? We don’t know because we can’t ask.

In 2012, two films featuring intelligence operatives were superbly successful. In the opening minutes of Ek Tha Tiger, Salman Khan, a RAW officer, tosses a wad of cash in the air in a sticky situation and his stocky frame swaggers away like a crab in slow-motion. And when Khan elopes with an ISI spy played by Katrina Kaif, his genial RAW boss, played by the marvellous Girish Karnad, chooses to keep quiet — because Khan possesses much knowledge but will never betray his country.

More remarkable is Kahaani, which was made on a budget of ₹8 crore and earned over ₹112 crore. A heavily pregnant Vidya Balan turns out to be an elite operative who brings down a terrorist who had carried out a deadly gas attack on the Kolkata metro rail. She is part of such an exclusive unit that even the surly fox played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui is not aware of it. Interestingly, while in Kahaani, Indian intelligence comes away looking ill-tempered, it is also the real star of the movie — with the power and discretion to create crack teams with able agents like Balan.

Vidya Balan in Kahaani

Last year, in Raazi, which earned ₹195 crore, Alia Bhatt played Sehmat, a Kashmiri spy’s daughter emotionally blackmailed into spying for the government by her dying father. Sehmat’s devotion to duty appears to come from blackmail and fear, not from ideology and conviction. Intentional or not, I thought this was an unusually honest picture — after all, spies work under unforgiving pressure where the fear of death or jail-time is ever present. Raazi is based on the book Sehmat Calling by ex-Navy serviceman Harinder S. Sikka.

Successful strategy
Last year, there was also Parmanu, propaganda for the BJP and another box-office success. Here, John Abraham is a civil servant working for the ‘research and strategy’ department, who successfully leads India to her second nuclear test in Pokhran in 1998, right under the nose of the CIA.

Still from Naam Shabana

In 2017, in Naam Shabana, a young woman murders her alcoholic, abusive father and is sent to a juvenile home. She is later recruited by the intelligence forces when her boyfriend is murdered by a gang of rich brats. Taapsee Pannu plays Shabana Khan. Her recruiter first helps her avenge her boyfriend’s murder. When this satisfying job is done, she is trained for an elite mission abroad to nab a face-shifting terrorist. I love the premise of this story — intelligence forces buy complete loyalty from recruits by helping fulfil their need for justice, the scarcest commodity in the Indian system.

Naam Shabana spins off into Baby (2015), where a crack intelligence team led by Akshay Kumar brings home a terrorist nestled in the ‘Middle-East’, which in contemporary Hindi film topography is the terrain of oil wealth-fuelled terrorism, paedophilia and all manners of human rights violations.

Rescue mission

Still from Phantom


The highest-earning Hindi film in 2017, which made more than ₹500 crore (officially) is Tiger Zinda Hai, where the ex-RAW agent played by Salman Khan and the former ISI spy played by Katrina Kaif rescue 25 Indian nurses and 15 Pakistani nurses held by an ISIS-like group in Iraq, while the CIA twiddles its thumbs. Khan and Kaif go into hiding after the rescue because they suspect that their respective governments will not abide such bilateral co-operation. Governments are tied up in petty rivalries, the film notes, but intelligence agencies are above all this.

In Phantom (2015), disgraced ex-army man Saif Ali Khan and RAW agent Katrina Kaif execute the Indian fantasy of travelling to Pakistan and taking out all the planners responsible for the 26/11 attacks. In Bang Bang (2014), Indian intelligence works with British MI6 to nab an international terrorist; the British leave much of the heavy lifting to the agent played by Hrithik Roshan. Two years earlier, in D-Day, a ‘crack team’ led by Arjun Rampal’s character screened the fantasy of getting Dawood alive in Pakistan, with the tagline India Strikes Back.

No terror strikes
Much like Hollywood, Bollywood too never addresses India’s intelligence fiascos — the terror strikes of 26/11, the Kargil intrusion of 1999, the assassination of prime ministers . In the film Madras Cafe, the RAW officer played by John Abraham even warns the former Indian Prime Minister against going to a rally where he will be assassinated, but he doesn’t heed the advice.

There is also admiration for disturbing behaviour. Why should the Indian state be observing a young Indian Muslim woman as it did in Naam Shabana? Isn’t it illegal? Is it meant to rationalise the Gujarat government’s surveillance of a young female architect?

Still from Jolly LLB 2

Only one film in recent years has laid bare the rot in the inner workings of our security forces. In Jolly LLB 2, an amoral newbie lawyer finds his conscience when he comes across the case of a young Muslim man killed in cold blood by the police. This is termed an encounter death, a constable is killed to make the encounter more plausible, and an ‘encounter specialist’ cop earns yet another mark in a celebrated career. That this film stars ‘nationalist’ hero Akshay Kumar, and is a bona fide box-office hit is the sort of nice surprise that Hindi cinema offers far too seldom