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Thursday, 11 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 11 Feb 2016

Addressing Maritime Challenges in the Indian Ocean Region: A Case for Synergising Naval Capacities towards Collective Benefits

The vastness and diversity of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and its littorals, and difference in the latters’ overall view of regional security, presents a broad spectrum of challenges therein. The maritime capacities of most littoral states are not strong enough to individually address these challenges. However, synergised response strategies, appropriately regulated by one or two collectively mandated apex bodies, would greatly help in managing regional maritime security. The existing maritime cooperative initiatives in IOR, like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), have shown great promise and potential. Countries like India and Australia, major players in both these constructs, can possibly rally other IOR littorals into leveraging their maritime capacities under these pan-regional fora by mutual agreement. Concurrently, both initiatives could find congruence in their maritime security visions, so as to create a collaborative local environment for collective benefits without dependence on extra-regional players.

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US for joint patrol in South China Sea
New Delhi, February 10
The United States and India have held talks about conducting joint naval patrols that a US defence official said could include the disputed South China Sea, a move that would most likely anger Beijing, which claims most of the waterway.

Washington wants its regional allies and other Asian nations to take a more united stance against China over the South China Sea, where tension has spiked in the wake of Beijing’s construction of seven man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago.

India and the US have ramped up military ties in recent years, holding naval exercises in the Indian Ocean that last year involved the Japanese navy.

But the Indian Navy has never carried out joint patrols with another country and a naval spokesman said there was no change in the government policy of only joining an international military effort under the United Nations flag. He pointed to India’s refusal to be part of anti-piracy missions involving dozens of countries in the Gulf of Aden and instead carrying out its own operations there since 2008.

The US defence official said the two sides had discussed joint patrols, adding that both were hopeful of launching these operations within a year. The patrols would likely be in the Indian Ocean where the Indian Navy is a major player as well as the South China Sea, the official said.

The official gave no details on the scale of the proposed patrols. There was no immediate comment from China, which is on a week-long holiday for Chinese New Year. — Reuters
Siachen braveheart’s condition deteriorates
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
The condition of Siachen survivor Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad has deteriorated over the past one day and it remains “very critical”, the Army has said.

Hanumanthappa of the 19 Madras Regiment was rescued alive six days after being buried under tonnes of ice following an avalanche on the Siachen Glacier on February 3. His condition was reviewed by a team of the Army Hospital (R&R) comprising critical care specialists, Head of the Dept of Medicine, nephrologists, neurologists and a panel of experts from AIIMS, New Delhi.

An Army statement said, “He continues to remain extremely critical with evidence of oxygen deprivation to the brain on CT scan. There is evidence of pneumonia in both lungs.”

“The rescued jawan has multi-organ dysfunction and that continues…His condition has deteriorated despite aggressive therapy and supportive care,” it added.

Hanumanthappa remained ventilator-dependent since his arrival in the hospital yesterday, it said. The medical team at the R&R Hospital was monitoring his condition regularly and he was being treated with the best expertise and resources available in the world, the Army said.

Hailing Hanumanthappa’s “endurance and will power”, Congress president Sonia Gandhi wished for his speedy recovery.
Capt ‘missing’, search on
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
Capt Shikhar Deep of 8 Sikh Light Infantry went missing under mysterious circumstances after he boarded a train in Bihar on the intervening night of February 6 and 7. He was travelling to Delhi from Katihar on the Mahananda Express.

Sources said Capt Shikhar Deep was a resident of Bihar. He was posted with Sikh Light Infantry (Sikh Li), a unit based in Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir. His father, Lt Col Anant Kumar, told the Army that his son spoke to him while onboard the train on February 6 at 10.40 am.

Shikhar (25) told his family that two persons who did not have confirmed tickets were in his compartment.

The Captain's relatives arrived at the Delhi railway station to pick him but he did not reach there. However, his belongings, including his shoes, clothes and an empty wallet, were found in the train.

The location of his phone was traced to a hotel at Bihar Sharief on February 7 morning. Since then, the phone is switched off. The Army authorities are trying to locate the missing officer with the help of the police.

"The officer (Captain) might have been looted by the criminals by offering drinks or food mixed with drugs/intoxicant or sedatives," said a senior Army officer.

"They (miscreants) mix drugs and sedatives with food, drink and even prasad. We have received reports about women being used to lure jawans," said another officer.
Year on, Centre yet to respond to relief hike for firing range victims
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 10
The state Home Department has been awaiting a response to a proposal submitted by it to the Ministry of Defence a year ago for enhancing compensation package to people affected by field firing ranges across the state.

On February 27 last year, the Home Department had submitted the proposal to the Ministry of Defence and, on February 7 this year, Governor NN Vohra had requested Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for enhanced compensation.

Jammu Divisional Commissioner Pawan Kotwal said the rates of compensation being given to the affected population were fixed almost three decades ago.

“We have sent a proposal to the Centre suggesting enhanced rates relevant with the existing market rates. The affected people are getting paltry compensation,” he added.

He said that on the days of firing, the Army, well in advance, asks the people living close to ranges to stay indoors to remain safe and sometimes they have to be dislocated, which affects their livelihood.

State Home Secretary RK Goyal said the Centre’s response to the proposal was still awaited. The Defence Ministry has been asked to give compensation at a par with the market rates.

On restrictions on movement and dislocation of local populace on days of firing, the Army has fixed Rs 8 (for the day) and Rs 12 (for the night) for males and females above 18 years. The Home Department has suggested hiking it to Rs 151 (for the day) and Rs 225 (for the night).

The Home Department proposed Rs 2.50 lakh for deaths due to firing, Rs 2 lakh for 100 per cent disability, Rs 1.50 lakh for 50 per cent to 100 percent disability and Rs 1 lakh for disability below 50 per cent.

The letter mentioned that to date the Army has not paid compensation or ex gratia for losses or injuries to human lives due to the firing practice.

A compensation for livestock of the villagers killed due to firing practice has also been proposed. The letter also suggested compensation for crop loss, a joint survey of which should be conducted by the Revenue authorities with the Army unit concerned.

The letter also contained objections of the people to renewal of firing ranges. The objections were based on displacement and restrictions imposed on movement of people on days of firing that affected their economic activities; deaths due to shells remaining unexploded and not cleared by the Army units after firing; damages to building and other structures due to tremors as a result of explosions; issues related to medical treatment of the injured and compensation for livestock and crop loss.

The “Agenda for Alliance” of the PDP-BJP government had also wanted that monetary remuneration should be made by the Army at market rates.
North Korea's Army Chief Of Staff Executed: Report
SEOUL:  North Korea's army chief of staff has been executed, South Korean media reported on Wednesday, in what would amount to the latest in a series of purges and executions of top officials by leader Kim Jong-Un.

Ri Yong-Gil, Chief of the Korean People's Army (KPA) General Staff was executed earlier this month for forming a political faction and corruption, Yonhap news agency said, citing a source familiar with North Korean affairs.

The report came at a time of highly elevated tensions on the divided Korean peninsula following the North's recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

Ri was often seen accompanying Kim Jong-Un on inspection tours, but his name was conspicuously missing from state media reports of a recent major party meeting and celebrations over Sunday's rocket launch.

"The execution... suggests that Kim Jong-Un still feels insecure about his grip on the country's powerful military," Yonhap quoted the source as saying.

"It shows that Kim's reign of terror still persists," the source was quoted as saying.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) in Seoul declined to comment on the report.

In May last year the NIS said Kim had his defence chief, Hyon Yong-Chol, executed -- reportedly with the use of an anti-aircraft gun.

Hyon's fate was never confirmed by Pyongyang but he has never been seen or heard of since. Some analysts have suggested he was purged and imprisoned.

Reports -- some confirmed, some not -- of purges, executions and disappearances have been common since Kim took power following the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011.

A large number of senior officials, especially military cadres, were removed or demoted as the young leader sought to solidify his control over the powerful army.

In the most high-profile case, Kim had his influential uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, executed in December 2013 for charges including treason and corruption. 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 10 Feb 2016

Siachen braveheart soldiers on
9 bodies found; miracle survivor Lance Naik comatose, 48 hrs crucial
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 9
The next 48 hours are medically crucial for the Army jawan who was miraculously found alive after being buried under 25 feet of snow following an avalanche atop the Siachen glacier.

A medical bulletin of the Army today said Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, who was evacuated to Delhi this morning, is comatose but has no frostbite that would have permanently damaged the affected body part. But the bulletin, which was issued by Army spokesperson Col Rohan Anand, added: “He remains extremely critical and is expected to have a stormy course in the next 24 to 48 hours due to complications by re-warming and establishment of blood flow to the cold parts of the body.”

Army doctors treating people with long exposure to cold follow a procedure of re-warming the human body by slowly infusing medication that facilitates blood flow to parts of the body that would have gone numb due to lack of oxygen and cold.

The rescued soldier is being treated with fluids and drugs to bring up his blood pressure. He has been placed on a ventilator and is being given “humidified warm oxygen” and passive external re-warming. 

Rescue teams looking under the avalanche site at 20,000 feet atop the glacier, had last night found Hanamanthappa buried under 25 feet of ice. He was conscious but drowsy and disoriented. He was severely dehydrated, in shock and was resuscitated by the doctors at the site.

Explaining his miraculous survival, sources said he was probably lucky to be wedged between two ice blocks which created a “pocket” around him, stopping wind and thus keeping him alive despite night temperature dropping to minus 55 °Celsius. The thick alpine clothing and specialised snow boots prevented him from freezing to death.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Army Chief General Dalbir Singh visited the Army Hospital Research and Referral (R&R) and commended the braveheart for his indomitable mental robustness.
INS Viraat to be converted into luxury hotel
Suresh Dharur

Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 9
The world’s oldest aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, is all set to be converted into a luxury hotel to attract tourists once it is decommissioned from service in June this year.

The Defence Ministry has given its nod to a proposal from Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) to convert the Centaur-class aircraft carrier into a hotel-cum-museum.

The decision was conveyed to the state officials on the sidelines of the International Fleet Review (IFR- 2016) at the coastal Andhra city of Visakhapatnam.

The state government has drawn up plans to convert Viraat into a 500-room hotel, the Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said. The warship would be docked at the shores of Visakhapatnam to serve as a tourist attraction.

“It will have 500 rooms and a conference hall to seat 500 people. Since it is an aircraft carrier, helicopters can easily land on it. It will be convenient to hold conferences apart from being a major tourist attraction,” the Chief Minister said.

The officials are confident that INS Viraat can be a game changer for the tourism development in the state. Its conversion into a hotel-cum-ship museum will be jointly undertaken by Indian Navy and Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA). The central government would also contribute for the project to be taken up under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.

The north coastal city is also home to INS Kursura, a Soviet-built decommissioned submarine, that has been converted into a museum in 2002. It is the first submarine museum in South Asia. It received 270,000 visitors in 2010, according to Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority, which maintains the museum ship.

INS Viraat was completed and commissioned in 1959 as the Royal Navy’s HMS Hermes and was transferred to India in 1987. In April 1986, India had entered into an agreement with Britain to acquired HMS Hermes. It was part of the action during the Falklands war in 1982. After refits and new equipment being fitted on Hermes, it was commissioned as INS Viraat on May 12, 1987.
Exclusive: How Indian Army carried out its biggest rescue operation at Siachen
India Today's special coverage of the massive rescue efforts from the world's highest battlefield.
Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad was found alive on the Siachen glacier six days after being presumed dead under 35 feet of snow was "extremely critical" and in coma, the army said on Tuesday.

Koppad is being treated at the Army Research and Referral Hospital where he was flown in from Siachwn base camp. The Army who continued their search operations and found Lance used mechanical ice cutters and comparative size of ice boulders to cut the ice at the avalanche site.

India Today's Jugal R. Purohit has managed to reach the Siachen glacier and obtain the inside track on the heroic rescue operation mounted by 220 personnel of the High Altitude Warfare School and the Siachen Battle School.

For over 5 days, they fought the elements and spared no effort to rescue their 10 comrades.
Paying tribute to the Army personnel who lost their lives at the Siachen glacier, India Today's Rahul Kanwal on his show Newsroom read out a poem by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), published in The Times newspaper on September 21, 1914. 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Pakistan ‘very concerned’ at India’s military modernisation
Pakistan’s military establishment is said to be “very concerned” about the conventional military modernisation programme of the Narendra Modi government, and “frustrated” that no “deal” had been struck with India since the NDA came to power.

As the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) published its annual “Military Balance 2016” report on Tuesday, Ben Barry, a senior expert who works with the military-strategic communities in India and Pakistan, said there was “great optimism” in Islamabad when Modi came to power.

“In the government and security community in Pakistan there was great optimism when Modi came to power, that he would be able to engage Pakistan and maybe strike a deal (normalisation of relations, reduction of tension over security),” Barry told HT.

“But I think there is some frustration in Islamabad that they haven’t been able to achieve that. We have contacts with the Pakistani military. I think they are very concerned about India’s conventional military modernisation.”

Barry, a former brigadier in the British army, said Pakistan was particularly concerned with India acquiring advanced weapons systems like Apache helicopters, C-130 Hercules aircraft and T-90 tanks. The India-US nuclear deal too remained a matter of concern in Islamabad.

According to the IISS expert, “We should take confidence that there hasn’t been a repetition of the terrible massacre in Mumbai. I may be proved wrong, though, but given the state of various extremist groups in Pakistan, it is very, very difficult for the Pakistani government to withdraw all of them. They may have had a hand in generating some of these and setting them up, but it’s quite difficult to turn them off.”

Barry said Pakistan Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif was able to “take advantage” of the 2014 massacre in an army-run school in Peshawar to launch Operation Zarb-e-Azb to clear North Waziristan of militant groups.

“There is no doubt that it has made considerable difference. Islamist terrorist groups and their capabilities have been considerably degraded by the Pakistan Army and the police,” Barry said.

The “Military Balance 2016” report details various initiatives taken by the Modi government to encourage FDI and private sector participation in defence, and lists the personnel and assets of India’s armed forces and reserve forces.

“The Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ policy aims to strengthen the indigenous defence-industrial base through measures that include reforming India’s foreign direct investment cap. However, industrial-capability limitations and bureaucratic obstacles have hampered a number of promising initiatives,” it said.

Focussing more on developments related to Russia, China, Iran and NATO, the analysis states that western military technological superiority is eroding due to the proliferation of advanced military capabilities and growing accessibility to military-relevant high technology around the world.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 09 Feb 2016

Siachen miracle: Jawan found alive after 6 days
Jammu, February 8
An Army jawan who was buried under 25 feet of snow following an avalanche in the Siachen glacier was today miraculously found alive in critical condition after six days of rescue efforts.

"It was a miraculous rescue, all efforts are being made to evacuate Lance Naik Hanaman Thappa to the RR hospital in the morning," Lt Gen D S Hooda, Northern Army Commander, told PTI.

He said, "Five bodies have been recovered so far and four bodies have been identified. All other soldiers are regrettably no more with us."

He hoped that another miracle continues with Thappa, who hails from Karnataka.

A Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and nine other ranks of Madras Regiment were buried after their post was hit by the avalanche at the altitude of 19,600 feet close to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan where the tempreature was minus 45° Celsius.

Siachen is the world’s highest active battlefield, contested by India and Pakistan since 1984 when India launched Operation Meghdoot. — Agencies
No plans to vacate Leh air base: IAF
J-K govt recently claimed Air Force had said yes to its proposal
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
The Indian Air Force has no plans to vacate the strategically important airbase at Leh in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources in the Ministry of Defence said neither had any such decision been taken nor was the matter discussed at any platform. Speaking to The Tribune over phone, Leh Deputy Commissioner Prasanna Ramaswamy G confirmed the develop-

ment: “The IAF will not be vacating the base.”

Over the weekend, reports (quoting a press release issued by the J&K government) had emerged that “the IAF has agreed to vacate the airbase at Leh, which would be used for expansion of the civilian airport to promote tourism in Ladakh”.

Officials here admitted that a press release had been issued, and that it “conveyed an erroneous impression”.

The IAF brass today questioned its officers who attended the civil-military liaison meeting chaired by Divisional Commissioner (Kashmir) Asgar Hassan Samoon last week. The base is used for transporting troops, machines, equipment and ration for the Army during the winter months when both the approach roads via Manali and Srinagar are closed due to snow. 

Sources said the IAF had only agreed to vacate some land for the expansion of the terminal at the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, Leh. 

Located at a height of 10,600 feet, the airport is to get a new terminal building to cater to the passenger rush and for the creation of new parking bays for civil aircraft.

The IAF is learnt to have agreed to the demand by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for requisitioning 11.8 acres of land.

The upgraded facility would accommodate 600 passengers (against 100 at present) and five civilian planes instead of two currently. The expansion project has been hanging fire for the past four years. The land identified for the project belongs to the state government, but it is under the possession of the IAF.
India-Nepal military exercise begins in Pithoragarh
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 8
A 14-day India-Nepal combined military exercise, named Surya Kiran IX, commenced at Pithoragarh today. The exercise will culminate on February 21.

The Nepal army is being represented by officers and troops of the elite Shree RudraDhoj battalion while an infantry battalion is participating on behalf of the Indian Army. The combined battalion-level exercise is being conducted under the aegis of the Panchshul Brigade of the Central Command.

This is the 9th India-Nepal combined exercise. During the combined training, emphasis will be laid on upgrade of tactical and practical skills by sharing each other’s experiences and also on enhancing inter-operability in jungle warfare and counter terrorism operations in mountain terrain. The role and importance of Armed Forces in disaster management in both the countries has assumed increasing significance in the recent years. Therefore, focus will also be laid on humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations, including medical and aviation aspects.

Brig Sanjay Sharma, officiating Major General, Staff, Central Command, was present during the opening ceremony and interacted with soldiers of both the contingents.

He emphasised that both the armies had a lot to learn from each other, especially in their approach towards handling the modern day challenges of terrorism and in disaster management, as it had been one of the most important challenges for both the countries after some recent calamities. Senior Nepalese Army officials were also likely _to attend the combined exercise along with their Indian counterparts during the validation phase _of the exercise.
L&T sees huge potential in defence under 'Make in India'
Press Trust of India | New Delhi Feb 07, 2016 01:32 PM IST

Eyeing big-ticket investment opportunities in the defence sector under 'Make in India' drive, engineering and construction giant Larsen & Toubro sees huge scope in areas like submarines, nuclear power equipment and artillery guns.

The infrastructure major, which saw its bottomline surge 19 per cent to Rs 1,034.8 crore in the last quarter, has listed indigenisation thrust for defence equipment, interceptor boats, naval vessels and submarines for Indian Navy and Coastguard and artillery guns and other equipment for Indian Army as investment opportunities.

L&T, in an investor presentation, has also listed oil and gas equipment supply opportunities in India and key petroleum/petrochem producing regions, nuclear power plant equipment in India and components for Indian space program as potential areas.

However, the company has also underlined challenges in heavy engineering and defence segments as "shrinking spends on oil and gas with low crude price" and "reduced prospect base of nuclear power equipment post-Fukushima and consequent Indian civil liability overhang."

It also sees "very long prospect-to-award timelines and dominance of public sector and foreign OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in Defence orders" as another challenge.

L&T Heavy Engineering manufactures and supplies custom designed equipment to critical process industries such as refinery, petrochemical, and oil and gas, as well as to sectors such as nuclear power, aerospace and defence.

Likewise, its shipbuilding arm has global scale heavy manufacturing facilities.

Heavy engineering segment of the company has achieved a customer revenue of Rs 884 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2015, registering growth of 9 per cent over the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal, mainly contributed by defence and aerospace business.

International sales constituted 52 per cent of the total customer revenue of the segment.

The order book of the segment stood at Rs 8,180 crore as on December 31, 2015.

L&T is India's largest E&C company with interests in projects, infrastructure, development and manufacturing, among others.

Its revenues stood at $15 billion last year and the company has a market cap of USD 18 billion as on December 31, 2015.

L&T is aiming to restructure its top management as part of its succession plan as well as making efforts to expand its global presence.

Group Executive Chairman A M Naik has recently said that the company is looking to expand its global presence.


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