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Monday, 22 December 2014

From Today's Papers - 22 Dec 2014

T-90 tank induction short by 40%
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
There is a shortfall of over 40 per cent in the indigenous production and issue of T-90 battle main tanks that were to form the cutting edge of the Indian strike formations.
Against a target of 300 tanks by 2010, only 167 tanks were handed over to the Army by 2013 by the Ordnance Factories.
The delay in indigenous production resulted in fresh imports of T-90 tanks at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore. The delays in the indigenous production come in the backdrop of the Army reporting a 38 per cent shortage of tanks against its authorised holding of 3,717 machines in 2000.
To overcome the shortage, the MoD decided to import 124 T-90s, assemble another 272 T-90s from kits and licence-build 300 T-90 tanks in India along with 124 Arjun tanks. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its latest report tabled in Parliament, has observed that the Defence Ministry planned to achieve self-reliance in manufacture of tanks by a phased induction of Arjun during 1985-2000. This schedule shifted to 2002-09.
The production of indigenous T-90 tanks based on transfer of technology (ToT) from Russia was slated to be accomplished during 2006-10. However, production of the indigenous tanks did not meet the schedule planned for timely fulfilment of the Army’s needs. In numbers, the ordnance factories have met the indent for Arjun — 119 out of 124 were delivered after holdups arising out of frequent changes in design, delay in establishment of production infrastructure and problems of sourcing components.
The ToT for indigenous production of T-90 tank was marred by delays in translation of design documents, which took six years, and the Russian firm’s failure to share designs on critical assemblies such as the gun assembly. The problem was compounded by delays in decisions on alternative solutions on these designs.
CAG pointed out that a case in point is the Directorate General of Quality Assurance thwarting the proposal by the ordnance factories for using “modified chemistry” proposed for the barrel for T-90 tank. This was despite the fact that the factories had experience with “modified chemistry” for the barrel of T-72 tanks.
Naval light combat aircraft tested
New Delhi, December 21

The first naval prototype of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), designed to operate from the decks of aircraft carriers, was successfully tested at a facility in Goa, the defence ministry said here on Sunday.

The LCA (Navy) Prototype 1 - or NP1 - the first indigenously designed and developed fourth-plus generation combat aircraft, was tested at the Ski-Jump facility of the Shore Based Test Facility at INS Hansa in Goa Saturday.

The LCA (Navy) is designed with stronger landing gears to absorb forces exerted by the ski jump ramp during take-off, to be airborne within 200 metres as against 1,000 metres required for normal runways. Its special flight control law mode allows hands-free take-off as the aircraft leaps from the ramp and automatically puts the aircraft in an ascending trajectory, the statement said.

The Shore Based Test Facility was created to replicate the aircraft carrier with a ski jump for take-off and arresting gear cable for arrested landing. — IANS
The Peshawar Attack: A Paradigm Shift in Pakistan?
Peshawar:  If there is hell on earth, that hell today is Peshawar. A city of tiny coffins and funerals, of scars and tears. A city that mourns the merciless killing of over 140 people, 132 of them children, at gunpoint by Taliban terrorists who entered the Army Public School in Peshawar disguised in military uniform. (Pakistan Hangs Four More Terrorists After School Attack)

From some accounts, terrorists disguised in military uniform fooled children into revealing who were from army families and then shot them in the head, when they innocently put up their hands. Those, who tried to hide behind desks and under chairs, were dragged out and gunned down.

Nightly candle-light vigils across Pakistan are uniting ordinary citizens in overwhelming grief, but as the country comes to terms with the brutality of this attack the only question anyone seems to have the clarity to ask is just what belief, what jihad drives them to attack children, to kill teachers in front of their students? ('Our Hearts bursting With Pain' Over Taliban's Peshawar Attack, Says Al Qaeda)

In 2007, the north-west region of Pakistan was labeled the most dangerous place in the world. The epicenter of global terror, where an ungodly jihad is being waged by those claiming to be the keepers of faith.

In spite of being the target of the global war on terror, in the badlands of Af-Pak, as the border regions of Pakistan's western and Afghanistan's eastern provinces is now commonly known; terrorism, led by the local offshoot - the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, has spread like a galloping malignant cancer. A cancer that is bleeding Pakistan in every possible way, and one Islamabad seems to have no strategy to cure or contain. (Peshawar School Attack is 'Pakistan's 9/11', Says National Security Advisor)

Alternately, Pakistani governments and political leaders have either advocated strong military responses against the terrorists or have tried to bring them to the table and conduct dialogue.
But can anyone talk to those who are not willing to listen? (In Pakistan, Parents Prepare to Bury Children in Mass Funerals)

Since 2009, statistics show between five and 6,000 soldiers and civilians meet a bloody fate in this violent war every year. So far, the Taliban has hit several key military installations, including army headquarters in Rawalpindi, a naval base in Karachi, an air base in Kamra, an airport in Peshawar, and the international airport in Karachi.  But nothing that evoked the same sense of outrage as this school attack did in Peshawar on the morning of December 16.

To the rest of the world, watching these events unfold in horror, Pakistan's double speak and blundering strategies so far have been all too apparent. A day after the Taliban gunned down 142 people, mostly children in cold blood, its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared his government was not going to distinguish between "good Taliban" and "bad Taliban". But will this attack become a turning point in Pakistan's strategy against terror? And more importantly, in a polity where many of its leaders either still see justification in the rise of this bloody extremism, or are simply afraid to challenge it, will Pakistan be able to evolve a consensus? (Taliban Attack on Pakistan School Draws Global Revulsion)

Imran Khan, whose party is in power in the Khyber Agency,  has consistently pushed for engagement with the Taliban in spite of increasing deadly strikes, is finally attempting to review what his critics call a soft line towards terrorists. His protests have included mass rallies in Islamabad, condemning Pakistan military action against the Taliban and pushing for dialogue with its warlords.

So much so that he was unable to openly name the Taliban as the perpetrators of this attack, merely assuring his people that he would push for "those responsible" to be punished. This even after the group itself had claimed credit for it.

As the army intensifies its operations and strikes Taliban strongholds in retaliation against the attack, Mr Sharif's predecessor and political arch rival, former president General Pervez Musharraf, says it's time Pakistani politicians speak in one voice. (Silent Classes, Bloody Notebooks: Day After the Pakistan School Massacre)

In an exclusive interview to NDTV on the evening of the attack, Musharraf said politicians demanding negotiations "must learn lessons, they must draw conclusions, there is no negotiating... you negotiate with people who are sensible, with people who have logic and are prepared to discuss issues. Can you discuss things with animals?"

Talib means student in Arabic, but there is no doubt at all that the Taliban terrorists who shot little children at point blank range displayed the basest kind of depravity, inverting the very essence of learning and tolerance on its head, inverting fundamental laws of nature as parents buried their children. These children were not the government or army of Pakistan, they were not responsible for drone strikes the Taliban claimed the attack was in retaliation against.

The one thing that is emerging as an indication of Pakistani resolve to tackle the Taliban more firmly now is that the military offensive "Zarb-e-Azb", named after the prophet's sword that began in June in the frontier areas, is now likely to intensify. 57 strikes were carried out within 24 hours of the attack. The army chief General Raheel Shareef flew to Kabul to seek Afghan assistance to capture Mullah Fazlullah - who took over the Pakistani Taliban after Hakimullah Mehsood was killed.

Fazlullah or Mullah Radio, as he was called for his venomous hate sermons on the radio, had been on the run after offensives in the Swat Valley and is believed to have taken shelter in Afghanistan's Khost province bordering Pakistan. As this went to press, unconfirmed reports saying Fazlullah had been killed in air strikes along the Pak-Afghan border flooded social media, but there has yet been no confirmation by the Pakistani government.

Pakistani security analysts feel this attack on the army school in Peshawar is bound to shift the paradigm of Pakistan's security policy. Zahid Hussain, author of Frontline Pakistan and senior journalist, says "Before this actually there was a kind of reluctance on the part of the civilian authorities to go after the militants wholeheartedly. They supported and they approved the North Waziristan operation of the military, but actually there was something lacking. Now it seems both the civilian and military leadership are on the same page."

But in the fabric of terror, Islamabad is separating threads, differentiating between the Taliban they are fighting within and the Afghan Taliban, or worse, from groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its ideologue Hafiz Saeed .Or the Jaish e Mohammed, who wage a proxy war against India from Pakistani soil.  Hafiz Saeed roams freely on the streets of Islamabad and incites mobs of extremists against India on a regular basis under the nose of the Pakistani government, in spite of the Jamat-ud-Dawa ( Lashkar's parent organisation) being banned by the UN as an international terror group.

In a recent editorial, the New York Times said Pakistan is  "Wedded to an outmoded vision of India as the mortal enemy, the army has long played a double-game, taking American aid while supporting and exploiting various Taliban groups as a hedge against India and Afghanistan, and ignoring the peril that the militants have come to pose to Pakistan itself. The extent of cooperation among those groups in the tribal areas has made that game even riskier; the Pakistani military has long provided support for the Afghan-focused Taliban, even while trying to fight the Pakistani Taliban in recent years." After all, Mullah Omar is still believed to be hiding out in Pakistan and the world's collective memory cannot forget how Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces in the heart of one of Pakistan's main military garrison towns. (How the Pakistani Taliban Became a Deadly Force)

Two days after the school attack in Peshwar, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, one of the masterminds of 26/11, was granted bail citing a lack of evidence. As India stood with Pakistan in the wake of this attack, it's a move that doesn't instill confidence in Pakistan's stated resolve to fight terror. India protested immediately and Islamabad detained Lakhvi for another three months under the Maintenance of Public Order Act. But the 26/11 cases still drag on.

When Hilary Clinton was America's Secretary of State, she warned Pakistan against keeping snakes in the backyard and expecting them to bite only neighbours. Today that snake has turned within. For a country accustomed to sectarian violence, where its city's streets have been washed with the blood of religious or ethnic minorities, where liberal advocates of peace or fundamental rights have been gunned down, the only hope now is that this attack will shake the collective conscience of its military and political rulers into rethinking a security policy that has for long centered around spawning monsters to serve perceived national interests, now that the monster has turned on its own.
Adarsh: Ex-servicemen put blame on VK Singh
All 104 flats in the Adarsh Society premises, including 60 for ex-servicemen, remain unoccupied after the society landed in a controversy touted as India’s biggest housing society scam. Ex-servicemen (flat owners) of Adarsh who have intensified their fight to get back their flats, are now blaming ex-army chief VK Singh for the entire mess.

Armed with information sought through a series of applications under RTI Act, which states that Adarsh land does not belong to the defence, Brig TK Sinha (rtd), chairman of the society said: “RTI replies clearly state that the land never belonged to Army or ministry of defence. Army was apprised of this way back in 60s, in 2003 and again on April 6, 2010, five days after VK Singh became the chief. Yet Singh misrepresented facts before the ministry in October 2010 to order a CBI inquiry against Adarsh only because he had grudge against his predecessor, General Deepak Kapoor.” “Singh did this to settle scores with Kapoor who hadn’t allowed him to ‘correct’ his date of birth.

Moreover, Kapoor had a flat in Adarsh,” said Sinha, who along with 50 other ex-defence personnel holding flats in the society, held a press meet in on Saturday to assert their right to stay in the building. They also claimed that CBI had closed the Sukna, Kandivli and Pune ‘land scams’, which had surfaced during VK Singh’s tenure, for want of proof. The April 6, 2010 letter of Army southern command HQ written to ministry of defence obtained through RTI Act states, “It is seen that Adarsh case has been examined in 2003-04, and since then there has been no correspondence on the subject with southern command HQ. Hence it’s suggested that reopening the case may not be advisable as it may generate adverse publicity due to likely media manipulation.” According to RTI reply dated Aug 4, 2014, Army HQ (Maha, Gujarat, Goa and Mumbai), which had filed the title suit in Bombay HC, had no records to establish ownership of the land.

RTI reply from General Defence Estates, ministry of defence, of Dec 3, 2014 also states it had no documents to prove ownership of the land. A 2-year-old RTI reply from Defence Estate officer also denies any mention of this land in the military land register which is being maintained since 1886. The members of the society are set to present their findings before Bombay HC in the next hearing on January 12. “MMRDA has already told the court that the 65 members of the society met all legal requirements to own flats. It also absolves these men in uniform from being “land grabbers” and our honour is restored,” said Maj Gen AR Kumar (retd).

Former army chief General VK Singh said: “It was dna that first broke the Adarsh scam. Army held an institutional inquiry and found these people were to blame. Army even looked up archives in London. Unfortunately, Mr RC Thakur misrepresented facts because he saw that they had made a mistake. The land on the other side of the compound, which had an Army park, Pukhri Park, which was not part of the inquiry, was declared reclaimed land. The mastermind is Thakur along with Gen Deepak Kapoor. Gen Kapoor produced a fake certificate, and NC Vij, who has a flat there was made sub-area commander. Have you ever heard of that? Vij says he had retired when he brought one, but they kept one for him. Congress was complacent and even transferred CBI officer Rishi Raj. Army is quite clear on that, and have filed a title suit. This is a monumental scam and those people are to blame.”
India Still Unsure on Need for Cyber Command
NEW DELHI — The Indian Ministry of Defence remains undecided on whether to establish a dedicated cyber command despite a push by the three military services to improve defense against network attacks from China and to build offensive cyber capabilities, a senior Indian Army officer said.

A draft proposal to establish a cyberwarfare tri-command has awaited MoD action for more than a year, the officer said, and the service hopes new Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will take up the matter soon.
“There is a need for creating synergy by a single headquartered cyber command,” said defense analyst Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Army brigadier general. “This will ensure militarywide doctrinal unity, synergize existing resources and coordinate defensive and offensive capabilities to direct these at the potential adversary.”

The cyber command proposal was prepared in consultations with the chiefs of the Air Force, Army and Navy after Chinese hackers broke into the computer systems of the Eastern Command headquarters in Vishakapatnam, where India’s Arihant nuclear submarine was undergoing sea trials, in 2012, a Defence Ministry source said. In 2013, the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s networks were breached by Chinese hackers, the source added.

MoD officials have declined to explain why no action has been taken on the issue.

Defense analysts and military officers said India needs to prepare to defend itself against such attacks —and also build offensive cyber capabilities.

“The cyber threat has the potential of being elevated to the level of a cyberwar in the event of a war between nations,” said analyst Venkataraman Mahalingam, a retired Army brigadier general. “Activities in cyberspace are an inherent part of day-to-day functioning of the militaries. Consequently, the psychological impact of a cyber attack on the soldier and military establishments would be tremendous. It is a threat which will impact the minds of commanders.”

The Indian Army officer said the advent of high-tech weapons makes cyberwar part of conventional warfare because these vital technology-driven systems are vulnerable to cyber threat and must be protected.

While no MoD official would officially say if there is a proposal to create a cyber tri-command, one ministry official quietly said that it remains undecided whether to build an offensive cyber arsenal.

“The presence of cyber weapons can be very dangerous because no one can predict its diffusion,” he said, adding that no one can ensure that a cyber arsenal can always hit the target.
INDIA TV Exclusive: Indian Army deprived of bullet proof jackets and quality ammunition
New Delhi: Indian soldiers are respected and adored for their valour and sense of duty by 125 crore people of this nation. They are country’s shield and sword, which keep our interests safe, our enemies at bay and the people of our country secure and free. But these jawans are deprived of basic and quality defence equipments, including bullet proof jackets needed to counter enemies.

According to a report of Parliament's Standing Committee on Defence, accessed exclusively by the India TV, our jawans have often compensated the lack of quality equipment with their own personal valour.

The report stated that nearly 3.5 lakh jawans don’t have access to bullet proof jackets, meaning they are guarding country's international borders without one of the basic kits which is a must to protect them from enemy's bullets.

What is ironical is that approximately two lakhs bullet proof jackets which were dispatched for jawans, according to the report, have not reached them.

It also stated that recommendation for purchasing 3,53,765 bullet proof jackets were made to the Ministry of Defence but the concerned department(s) didn't pay any heed to the requirement.

The report further said that, as of now, there is a lack of 1,86,138 bullet proof jackets and order for the same was placed in 2009 but till date not a single jacket has reached the jawans.

Former chief minister of Uttarakhand, BC Khanduri, is the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Defence. Khanduri, a retired Major General, has served the Indian Army for 36 long years.

The report also highlighted the supply of poor-quality of arms and ammunition supplied to the soldiers and thus questioned the decisions by the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) functioning under Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence.

It has also stated that the designs of more than 20 ammunitions, presently being supplied to armed forces, have become problematic to the jawans.

There are 23 items which failed to meet the quality standards, the report said, adding that the jawans are facing difficulty in using these equipments.

Between 2009 to 2014, the Army had demanded 133 items required for the use of ammunitions but Ordinance Factory Board managed to supply only 23 entities from the demanded list.

Besides, the 125mm gun common to all T-72 tank, were of bad quality and several time they blasted inside the barrel, causing serious injuries to jawans.

DGQA is more than hundred years old organisation and provides quality assurance cover for the entire range of arms, ammunitions, equipments and stores supplied to armed forces.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, and other top officials of the Ministry will meet the members of the Standing Committee on Defence in the last week of January next year.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

From Today's Papers - 21 Dec 2014

‘Infighting in army to blame for Adarsh’

Claiming the land allotted to Adarsh housing society does not belong to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), members of the controversial building held that it was rivalry between former Maharashtra chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde and former defence minister AK Antony that was responsible for the entire controversy over ownership of the land.

At a press conference on Saturday, the members also levelled allegations against former army chief and current union minister Gen VK Singh for misleading Antony in this case to take revenge against his predecessor Gen Deepak Kapoor.

While addressing the media, the secretary of the society, RC Thakur, said, “Ever since the allotment letter was issued by Sushilkumar Shinde, his rival Antony started targeting us. He did not even care to check records before commencing action against us.”                                                                

The members showed various replies from the MoD obtained through Right to Information (RTI) Act to show that the land did not belong to the MoD.

Brig TK Sinha (retired), chairman of the society, said, "In spite of the Defence Estates officer’s reports, a one-man inquiry by a colonel ordered by Army headquarters and the opinion of then Additional Solicitor General of India Darius Khambata informing the Army headquarters that the land does not belong to the defence, Gen VK Singh brushed aside all facts and wrote to the Ministry of Defence in October 2010 to order an inquiry by the CBI, which resulted in the case against Adarsh."

Sinha further said the defence ministry did not have any records to prove that the land belonged to it.

"The information sought under the RTI has revealed that the MoD has no information or records available with them regarding ownership of the plot on which the Adarsh society has been built," Sinha said.

Claiming that the land belongs to the Maharashtra government, Sinha said “Finally after four years of malicious conspiracy, the truth is out and we all in the society, especially men in uniform, who have suffered unsolicited humiliation as ‘land grabbers’ stand totally vindicated before the nation.”
Adarsh society members blame Congress infighting for the controversy
 Members of the controversial Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society here have claimed that infighting between two senior Congress leaders, Sushil Kumar Shinde and A.K. Antony, was the cause behind their travails.

At a press conference held on the building’s premises, the members — largely ex-Army and Naval officers — alleged that the false information provided by the former Army Chief V.K. Singh to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had also resulted in the case against Adarsh.

“The Letter of Allotment (LoA) to the society was signed by Mr. Shinde when he was Chief Minister. It was the political infighting within his party that resulted in Mr. Antony initiating action against Adarsh,” said R.C. Thakur, Secretary, Adarsh Co-op. HSG. Soc. Ltd.

In a statement here, the members alleged that in spite of subordinate formations, Defence Estate Officer, One man inquiry by Colonel ordered by Army headquarters and opinion of Additional-Solicitor General of India, informing Army headquarters that land does not belong to Defence, Gen. V.K. Singh brushed aside all the facts.

The society cited the reply dated December 3, 2014 to the application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) to strengthen their case, as Ministry of Defence/ Director General Defence Estates (DGDE), the custodians of land records for Armed forces had confirmed that that they had no information / documents related to the ownership of the land on which the building stands. Earlier, the Defence Estate Office, Mumbai too had provided the identical information on August 4, 2014.

“We all, especially the men in uniform, who have suffered the most unsolicited humiliation as ‘land grabbers’ stand totally vindicated before the nation after four years,” said Brig. T.K. Sinha, (Retd.), citing the RTI reply.

“Despite the judicial commission having given its report and its final and positive findings negating the claim of Army not only on land but on the Kargil reservation issue, both Gen. V.K. Singh and Mr. Antony persisted with false allegations,” said the statement.

The Adarsh society has been embroiled in a major controversy after it was alleged that the plot was under the ownership of the MoD and originally allotted for the housing scheme for the widows of Kargil martyrs.

The alleged scam till now has resulted in a number of lawsuits, around two-year long enquiry by the two member judicial panel of several bureaucrats, former defence personnel and politicians, including four former Chief Ministers of Maharahstra. Present Congress MP Ashok Chavan had to resign from the Chief Minister’s post after it was proven that his in-laws too had purchased flats in the society.
CAG slams defence PSUs for huge delays in developing trainer aircraft and indigenising Tatra trucks
NEW DELHI: The CAG has slammed Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for the 14-year delay in developing the intermediate jet trainer (IJT), the absence of which endangers rookie pilots, as well as Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) for failing to indigenise the Tatra trucks, which are used to carry missiles and radars.

In reports tabled in Parliament on Friday, the audit watchdog came down heavily on HAL for "adversely affecting" the Stage-II training of IAF pilots, who are forced to train on obsolete and ageing Kiran aircraft, by failing to deliver the Sitara IJT till now.

As reported earlier by TOI, "human error (aircrew)'' has been the reason for over 40% of the around 1,100 crashes recorded by IAF since 1970. Noting that IAF had lost 33 aircraft and 27 personnel during 2010-2013, the CAG said 51% of these accidents took place due to human error, while technical defects accounted for 49%. "Training of pilots was compromised as basic training was conducted on ageing trainer aircraft," said CAG.

The acquisition of Tatra trucks, in turn, is already under the CBI scanner, with BEML being accused of selling the all-terrain vehicles to Army at rates double their market value as well as deliberating going slow on indigenizing the specialized equipment and spare-parts despite technology transfers being included in the various contracts that were inked.

Minister of state General (retd) V K Singh had also claimed he was offered a Rs 16 crore bribe to clear a fresh procurement of 600 Tatra trucks when he was the Army chief. The armed forces, incidentally, have inducted over 7,000 Tatra trucks through a BEML tie-up first with Czech firm Omnipol and then Tatra Sipox of UK over the last 28 years.

CAG said BEML had signed a collaboration agreement for indigenization of Tatra vehicles in 1986 with the original equipment manufacturer on the instructions of the defence ministry. "The objective of attaining 86% indigensation by 1991 was envisaged by BEML. However, till 2014, the target is yet to be attained," it said.

"BEML attributed the delay mainly to the MoD's failure in placing orders for sufficient number of vehicles between 1986 and 1991. The process for indigenization of Tatra vehicles suffered due to lack of clear long-term projection of orders by Army to BEML. As a result, the objective of self-reliance in production of Tatra vehicles was defeated," it said.


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