Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Saturday, 31 May 2008

From Today's Papers - 01 Jun

Drunk jawans in jail for abduction

Guwahati/Jorhat, May 31: Five Assam Rifles jawans were arrested on charges of abducting a girl in Jorhat after high drama in the heart of the town past midnight.

As news of the incident spread like wildfire through the town this morning, activists of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad gheraoed the main police station and staged demonstrations at several places, demanding stringent action against the jawans.

The five jawans, identified as Debendra Singh, Rajnish Kumar, Amrit Kumar, Harpal Singh and Suresh Raita, were sent to judicial custody after being produced in court.

Jorhat superintendent of police Deepak Choudhury said the jawans, who were in uniform, were waiting near a link road to the railway station at Dohaborachuck in a white Maruti Gypsy last night.

They were allegedly drunk and chased three girls and a boy who were returning home from a Bihu function around 11.30pm. “While two girls and the boy managed to escape, the jawans caught hold of the third girl and picked her up in the vehicle before speeding away along the Jorhat-Mokokchung road,” Choudhury added.

However, the driver lost control of the vehicle on a speed-breaker near the Buddhist monastery at Rajabari, about 3km from the abduction site, and the vehicle turned turtle. No one was critically injured and the girl managed to escape in the commotion. She took shelter in a house by the roadside.

Sensing trouble, the jawans got the vehicle back on its wheels and sped away.

A stallowner, Bibhuti Bhusan Adhyapak, who had withnessed the abduction, rushed to a police station. The police sealed all the entry and exit points to the town and gave chase. The jawans took a U-turn at Cinnamara when they saw a police checkpost ahead. They started fleeing towards their transit camp at Nephabari through a link road via Lichubari.

A police patrol, led by additional superintendent of police Mukul Saikia, accosted the vehicle near Assam Agricultural University. The jawans gave in, but not before a verbal duel with the police.

“They were put through a medical test and brought to the police station,” the Jorhat SP said. They were produced in the court of chief judicial magistrate S. Dey today and have been booked under Sections 34 (collective crime with a common intention), 366 (kidnapping) and 354 (criminal outrage of women) of IPC.

“I was so scared. I have been through hell,” the young girl, in her early twenties, told The Telegraph between sobs. “A hand clamped down on my mouth, cutting of my screams, and another pair of hands took hold of my legs, lifting me into the vehicle.”

The girls are from Sivasagar district and stay in Atiliagaon, half-a-km from the site of the incident, and study paramedics at Jorhat Civil Hospital. The boy studies there, too. An official at the Assam Rifles base in Jorhat said the jawans had illegally left the camp with the official vehicle. “They were on transit from Arunachal Pradesh to Manipur and had been put up at the Assam Rifles camp.” He said a departmental inquiry would be conducted.

The Jorhat SP said the jawans would be treated like ordinary criminals. “The Assam Rifles has also asked us to treat them like ordinary criminals,” he added.

IAF returns to highest airfield after 43 years
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
The IAF activated the world’s highest airfield, Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), when an AN-32 from Chandigarh touched down on the unpaved airstrip today. This is the first time that a fixed-wing aircraft landed at DBO in 43 years.

Operations by transport aircraft from DBO will give a much-needed boost to providing logistic support to troops deployed in the forward regions in the Aksai Chin Sector. It would also enable troops to be airlifted out at regular intervals since roads and communication network in that area is very poor.

“At present, air maintenance is through helicopters, which are slower and have lesser payload carrying capacity or airdrops by AN-32, Air Marshal P.K. Barbora, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command who was onboard the trial sortie, said. “After the successful first landing, we would be carrying out a study on how to optimise this new-found capability,” he added.

Stating that it was a pre-planned operation that had been conceived some time ago, he ruled out the possibility of any current international developments being the reason for this mission.

Located at an altitude of 16,200 feet near the strategic Karakoram Pass, just about 10 km from the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control, DBO is an important Army forward post which links with the ancient Silk Route to China. The airstrip was build during the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict and three-engined Packets operated from DBO from 1962 to 1965.

Gp Capt S.C. Chafekar, Commanding Officer of 48 Squadron that undertook the mission, said extreme altitude and temperature were the major challenges they faced. Engine performance deteriorates in rarified air. “We touched down at 6.20 a.m. when the temperature was minus 8 degrees. We kept the engines running during our brief halt in case they failed to start up later,” he said.

Besides Group Captain Chafekar, the crew comprised Wg Cdr M.B. Aserkar, Wg Cdr S.K. Verma, Wg Cdr A. Ray and JWO R.N. Verma. “From terrain to the weather, the mission was full of challenges,” Gp Capt Chafekar said. “Extensive planning had gone into the mission and we were prepared for the worst-case scenario like the aircraft skidding on the runway or not being able to stop within the space available,” he added. The strip was 6,000 feet long whereas the ideal length required under the conditions was 10,000 feet.

General Officer Commanding 14 Corps, Lieut-Gen V.K. Ahluwalia said it was a Herculean effort by Army troops as well as ITBP personnel to prepare the landing strip for operations within two months. He said the achievement was a great morale booster particularly as troops could be airlifted now. Last year troops could not proceed on leave for several months at a stretch, as roads were inaccessible.

Regular operations to DBO are expected to commence by October this year. In winters, air maintenance is the sole means to sustain troops in that region. Since DBO is situated in a bowl, it would have little snow cover, enabling frequent sorties in winters. In winters, an AN-32 could ferry in over four tonnes of load and carry out 1.5 tonnes on the return journey.

NDA prepares cadets for modern wars
Adds Chinese, nuclear physics in syllabi
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Pune, May 31
Preparing the armed forces for possible battles in the future, the National Defence Academy (NDA) has changed the focus of its curriculum. The cadets are now taught foreign languages, including Chinese, besides subjects like nuclear physics, hydro-graphics and aerodynamics alongside other subjects.

All changes have been introduced in the past year or two. The change has come about after an expert committee recommended the shift in curriculum to bring in aspects that are more suited for the needs of the armed forces. The learning of Chinese language is of course due to the growing needs to keep abreast with the developments in China that has emerged as a major military power.

Nuclear physics and aerodynamics are needed when sophisticated missiles and ammunition are fired that are operated on computer-based systems. A virtual battle field that will have a high degree of automation and reliance on computer aids is going to be the next type war.

Commandant of the NDA Air Marshal T.S Randhawa said the changes in the curriculum had been made after the academic study review had a look at the syllabus. The group had professors from Jawaharlal Nehru University and also senior officers of the armed forces. The first half of the three-year course at the NDA is now devoted to academics while the second half has the focus on service subjects i.e. subjects that are oriented towards the armed forces and their needs in real time battle situations.

The process of giving laptops and providing on-campus connectivity is on. The boys will be able to just plug in their respective laptops in their classrooms and use them. These have been specially designed keeping in mind the needs of the cadets, said the Commandant.

Air Marshall Randhawa said they were getting cadets who were not very physically active before joining the NDA and it took some months to bring them to a level of physical activity and hone their abilities. He said till some years ago the boys coming into the NDA used to be active and had played sports in their hometowns.

However, the NDA cadets continue to meet the same standards as before there was no downgrading. He allayed fears that there was a shortfall in the number cadets joining the NDA. The academy was short of about 45 cadets at present, but this was a normal phenomenon. Every year there was a shortfall in January, however, in June this was covered up. Like this June, some 400 new cadets would be joining as against the quota of 300, he added.

On girl cadets at the NDA, the commandant said, “We should have girl cadets, however, no decision has been conveyed”.

Pakistan Permitted to Inspect Baglihar Dam: Official

by Muhammad Najeeb

India has agreed to Pakistan's request to inspect the Baglihar dam project in Jammu and Kashmir and the dates for this will be worked out soon, a Pakistani official said Saturday.

"The dates for the inspection will be worked out soon," the official told IANS after the first session of the four-day 100th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) here.

There was, however, no confirmation of this from the Indian side.

Going into the meeting, G. Aranga Nathan, who is heading the 11-member Indian delegation, said the Baglihar project was not included in the agenda.

"We have a set agenda and would be going according to it," he told reporters.

His Pakistani counterpart Syed Jamaat Ali Shah agreed that it was not on the agenda but maintained that any issue can be brought up for discussion by either side.

"We are looking forward to taking up the Bghaliar issue in this meeting," Shah said.

The first session of the meeting concluded with both the sides expressing their satisfaction over the progress they had made. The meeting began with officials of the two sides cutting a cake to mark the 100th meeting of the commission.

The Pakistani official said both sides expressed their satisfaction over the exchange of information regarding flood alerts and other water related issues.

The PIC, a permanent commission between Pakistan and India, was established with the help of the World Bank after the 1960 Water Treaty between the two neighbours.

At least one annual review meeting of the commission is mandatory but on many occasions, the two sides have met more than once a year.

The meeting will continue till June 3 and the Indian delegation is expected to leave for home the same evening.

The Baglihar hydropower-cum-water storage project is being built on the Chenab river tht flows from Kashmir into Pakistan.

"The Pakistani team will urge the Indian side to give an exact date for inspection of the Baglihar project to determine whether or not the work is under way in accordance with the decision of the World Bank appointed neutral expert last year," said the Pakistani official.

Pakistan has raised concerns on the design of the project and sought modification on freeboard, level of power intakes, poundage and spillway.

After India's refusal to modify the design, Pakistan in 2006 sought mediation by the World Bank, which appointed Raymond Lafitte as a neutral expert to review the project and examine Pakistan's concerns.

In his Feb 12, 2007 report, Lafitte said that the Indian calculation on freeboard was inaccurate and said India should set the crust level at the lowest. He, however, rejected other objections by Pakistan saying India can go ahead with the construction of the project.

He directed India to reduce the freeboard by 33 percent from 4.5 metres to 3 metres.

While both sides claimed victory after the Lafitte report, Pakistan has been saying that it needs to inspect the project to determine if the expert's decision is being implemented.

"Now we want to ensure that the design is being modified and will be commissioned under instruction by the expert," the Pakistani official told IANS.

IAF Revives World's Highest Airstrip
after 43 Years

Leh (Jammu and Kashmir)
The Indian Air Force (IAF) Saturday achieved a major strategic feat when it landed an AN-32 aircraft at the Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) airstrip - the highest airstrip in the world.

The strategic airstrip, in the inhospitable Ladakh district in Jammu and Kashmir, is located close to the Line of Actual Control (LOAC) with China near the Aksai Chin area.

"History repeated itself when an Indian Air Force fixed wing aircraft (AN-32) landed at DBO, the highest landing airstrip in the world at 6.30 a.m. This is a twin-engine aircraft landing at DBO after a gap of 43 years," Air Marshal P.K. Barbora, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C), Western Air Command, announced.

Regular operations by AN-32 class of aircraft will be initiated in due course of time, Barbora said.

The crew members of the historic flight were Group Capt S.C. Chafekar, Wing Commander M. Aserkar, Wing Commander S. Verma, Wing Commander A. Ray and junior warrant officer R. Verma.

"The advanced landing ground (ALG), where the aircraft landed, has an unpaved surface and is located in the Aksai Chin area at a height of 16,200 feet (4,960 metres) near the strategic Karakoram Pass and very close to the Line of Actual Control with China," an IAF official said.

DBO is an important army forward area post on the ancient silk route to China. This base was built during the Sino-Indian conflict in 1962. Packet aircraft of the IAF operated from DBO between 1962 and 1965. In 1966, an earthquake caused some loosening of the surface soil, making this base unfit for further fixed wing aircraft operations.

The decision to re-activate the airstrip was made earlier this year during Barbora's visit to forward bases in Ladakh. The army and the IAF got down to repairing the airstrip and completed the job within months.

Landing at DBO will not only enable India to induct troops and improve its communication network, but also help in supplying the troops positioned there.

IANS | May 31, 2008

Antony faints at passing-out parade
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Pune, May 31
Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony today fainted during the passing out parade at the well laid out National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla. He collapsed twice within a span of a couple of minutes just as the impressive ceremony, during which 286 cadets passed out, was about to culminate.

After he collapsed, Antony, 68, had to be lifted from the parade ground by senior officers. He then stood near his car and watched the conclusion of the ceremony. Later, Antony was taken to the military hospital on the campus for treatment.

The minister is out of danger, said Col (Dr) Deepak Bahadur while briefing reporters about Antony’s condition. The minister’s scheduled interaction with the media was cancelled and the doctors put him under observation. Antony was latter referred to the Cardiac Trauma Centre at the Command Hospital, Pune.

The NDA is celebrating its diamond jubilee this year. Cadet Yamnam Romen Singh from a rural area of Manipur was awarded the President’s Gold Medal, indicating a shift towards cadets from the Northeast doing well at the NDA. The ceremony was witnessed by parents and families of the cadets besides senior officers of the Southern Command based in Pune.

About 14 cadets from Tajakistan and Bhutan also passed out today. The NDA has also witnessed a demographic shift as the number of cadets from rural background is rising. Last year, 25 per cent of the 296 cadets taken in were from the rural areas. About 10 years ago, the average used to be just 3 per cent while the urban cadets formed a large chunk.

Meanwhile, Colonel Bahadur blamed the minister’s condition on fatigue and lack of sleep coupled with a grueling schedule he had been keeping for the past few days. He returned from Berlin yesterday morning and was working through the day only to reach Pune past midnight and was at the parade at 7 am.

Minutes before his medical emergency, Antony had inspected the parade and told cadets that the government was aware of the tough service conditions and other problems. Several measures had been taken to bring about improvements, including new accommodation facilities and liberalised leave rules. The quality of life would be better, he promised.

Afghan army team visits IMA
Dehra Dun:
A 24-member Afghanistan Army Senior Command and Staff College delegation visited the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehra Dun. The delegation led by Afghanistan Army Major-General Mohammad Zaman Waziri and other senior officers reached the IMA on Saturday. The team was briefed regarding the military training and other related activities carried out at the IMA. The delegation watched the movie “Making of the Warrior” at the Chetwode Hall and thereafter they drove around the academy campus. — TNS

Antony collapses at NDA parade, condition stable

Antony collapses at NDA parade, condition stable

Indo-Asian News Service

Saturday, May 31, 2008 (Pune)

Defence Minister AK Antony collapsed while taking the salute at the passing out parade at the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune on Saturday but quickly revived and insisted on staying on till the event ended.

He was then shifted to hospital, where his condition was described as stable.

The cadets of the 114th course were marching past when Antony suddenly slumped into a chair on the saluting dais. He got up but then fell onto the dais. An army officer immediately ran up and carried him to his car parked nearby.

By then, Antony had recovered and insisted on returning to the dais, where NDA commandant Air Marshal TS Randhawa had quickly taken the defence minister's place to ensure there was no interruption in the parade.

Antony ignored repeated pleas of doctors to get into the car and did so only after the last contingent had marched off the parade ground.

He was then taken to the Military Hospital at NDA where doctors conducted two ECGs, as also a blood test and a cholesterol test. The defence minister was advised six to seven hours of rest.

He was subsequently shifted to the Command Hospital in Pune and kept under observation in the cardio-thoracic trauma centre.

''There is no reason for any apprehension. He is completely ok. His hectic schedule, lack of sleep, dehydration and the scorching sun at the passing out parade led him to feel dizzy,'' Col. Deepak Bahadur, the physician who treated him at the NDA hospital, told reporters.

''The ECGs and other tests did not show up anything abnormal,'' Randhawa said, adding that the minister was being treated in line with his medical history.

''The minister had returned to New Delhi on Friday (after attending the Berlin Air show). He worked in office for an hour and then left for Khadakwasla (the NDA campus on Pune's outskirts), arriving in Pune late on Friday night,'' NDA public relations officer Major Pratap Singh, who carried Antony to the car, said.

From Today's Papers - 31 May

Friday, 30 May 2008

From Today's Papers - 30 May

The Queen to open new home of the royal artillery

29 May 2008, Thursday
THE QUEEN, captain-general of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, will formally open the new regimental home of the artillery during a visit to the Royal Artillery Barracks, Larkhill, on June 12.

The Queen will arrive near the barracks by a helicopter, where she will be welcomed by the lord lieutenant of Wiltshire and the director, Royal Artillery. Her Majesty will then proceed by car to the main entrance of the barracks where she will be welcomed by the master gunner, St James.

The Kings Troop Royal Horse artillery will fire a royal salute as her Majesty arrives. The Queen will then be invited to inspect a guard of honour, consisting of personnel from first Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. Her Majesty will then unveil a new entrance stone bearing the name of the Royal Artillery Barracks to formally open the new regimental home.

Then, the Queen would enter the barracks by car where she will travel to the Gun Park to view a display of operational equipment, and meet with soldiers who have had recent operational experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with those who have been on deployment in other parts of the world.

She will then have lunch in the Royal Artillery mess with all ranks. Following lunch, Her Majesty will have a private meeting with the next of kin of those killed in action since 2000.

A regimental group photograph will be taken with the Queen outside the Royal Artillery mess before Her Majesty attends a garden party in front of the mess. During the garden party, the Queen will meet Dr Ben Parkinson who was severely wounded while serving with seventh Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery in Afghanistan.

At the end of the garden party, the Queen will be presented with a posy and gift to commemorate Her Majesty’s visit.

May 30, 2008

NATO Chief in Afghanistan Says Pakistan’s Tack on Militants Is Not as Expected

KABUL, Afghanistan — The departing American commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan K. McNeill, raised concerns on Thursday that Pakistan had not followed through on promises to tackle militancy on its side of the border, and in recent months had even stopped its cooperation with NATO and Afghan counterparts on border issues.

General McNeill said Pakistan’s failure to act against militants in its tribal areas and its decision to hold talks with the militants without putting pressure on them had led to an increase in insurgent attacks against United States and NATO forces in eastern Afghanistan.

“We have not seen the actions that we had expected late last year; we have seen a different approach,” he said before a news briefing in Kabul. “That is different from what most of us thought last year we were going to get.”

Militancy rose last year in Pakistan, where officials indicated that tougher measures against the militants were planned. Instead, the government has sued for peace, a policy tried in 2005 and 2006 that led directly to a rise in attacks across the border, as is happening now.

“Over time, when there has been dialogue, or peace deals, the incidents have gone up,” General McNeill told journalists in Kabul and others in Brussels listening via videoconferencing. “What you see right now is the effects of no pressure on the extremists and insurgents on the other side of the border.”

As if to underscore his point, a suicide car bomb exploded Thursday near a convoy of international forces on the eastern side of Kabul, killing four civilian bystanders and wounding 14 others, police officials said.

The attack was the first in the capital in weeks, but came amid a new rash of attacks around Afghanistan. On Tuesday, 24 people, including 13 policemen, were killed in suicide attacks and roadside bombings. Two suicide attacks on Wednesday in Khost and Kandahar killed one person and wounded several others.

General McNeill said that Pakistan had stopped the high-level meetings among Pakistani, Afghan and NATO counterparts that were the main conduit for resolving border issues and coordinating operations to combat cross-border infiltration.

The meetings are usually attended by the top generals on all sides, but Pakistan has postponed the last three, he said.

“We have had some difficulty here,” he said, adding that he did not expect to hold another meeting before handing over command in early June. But General McNeill expressed hope that his successor, Gen. David D. McKiernan of the United States, would be able to resume the meetings.

General McNeill called the problem a “dysfunction” that he attributed to political changes in Pakistan since the election of a new government in February.

General McNeill said last year was “a very difficult year” for Pakistan and cited episodes of militancy including “a huge spike in suicide bombers, the Red Mosque events, some 250 Pakistani soldiers captured by about 20 militants, some forts laid siege to.” His reference to the Red Mosque was to a raid last summer by Pakistani forces after militants holed up inside.

“My connection is military to military,” the general said, “and I think they know in the Pakistani military this is an issue they have to take on, and they have to do it in a way that is consistent with counterinsurgency doctrine.

“But they have also just gone through some rather huge changes within their government and, I think, are still trying to find their way to get something coalesced, to get it congealed to where there is a forward movement in the business of governance,” he said.

Pakistan’s government has made clear it wants to break with the tactics Mr. Musharraf has used against militants and instead try dialogue, political engagement and economic development of the tribal regions.

Yet there has been increasingly urgent criticism from Afghan and NATO officials here since attacks rose 50 percent in April over last year in eastern Afghanistan, where American forces were claiming success against insurgents.

The Defense Ministry claimed that Afghan forces had killed dozens of insurgents in an operation in the southwestern province of Farah on Wednesday. The United States military, which was also involved in the fighting, confirmed only that several insurgents were killed after several hours of fighting and airstrikes.

The suicide attack in Kabul on Thursday occurred on the main road leading east toward Jalalabad Province, where there are several military bases. The bomber targeted two sport utility vehicles carrying soldiers from the American-led coalition. None were seriously hurt, a United States military spokesman said.

Allah Mohammad, police chief of the district, said four civilians were killed and 14 others wounded. Most of the victims were schoolchildren, he said.

Abdul Waheed Wafa contributed reporting.

To ban or not to ban, the cluster bomb
by Kevin Sullivan and Josh White

LONDON – More than 100 countries reached an agreement on Wednesday to ban cluster bombs, controversial weapons that human rights groups deplore but the United States, which did not join the ban, calls an integral, legitimate part of its arsenal.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose personal intervention led to final agreement among representatives of 111 countries gathered in Dublin, called the ban a “big step forward to make the world a safer place.”

In addition to the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan – all of them major producers or users of the weapons – did not sign the agreement or participate in the talks.

The weapons consist of canisters packed with small bombs, or “bomblets,” that spread over a large area when dropped from a plane or fired from the ground. While the devices are designed to explode on impact, they frequently do not. Civilians, particularly children, are often maimed or killed when they pick up unexploded bombs, sometimes years later.

In staying away from Dublin, US officials argued that the talks were not the right forum in which to address the issue and that cluster bombs remain an important part of the country’s weaponry. “While the United States shares the humanitarian concerns of those in Dublin,” said Navy Commander Bob Mehal, a Pentagon spokesman, “cluster munitions have demonstrated military utility, and their elimination from US stockpiles would put the lives of our soldiers and those of our coalition partners at risk.”

The US military says that it keeps the weapons in its arsenal as a defence against advancing armies, a strategy closely linked to conventional Cold War approaches to conflict, and that it has not used the bombs since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

US officials argue that technological advances will ensure that future cluster bombs reliably explode or quickly disable themselves, so they will not become a hazard to civilians later.

Israeli forces carried out the largest recent use of cluster bombs, dropping large numbers on southern Lebanon in their 2006 war with the Hezbollah militiamen. Many of the bombs did not explode immediately and have left a lasting humanitarian hazard.

Advocates of the ban said they hoped that the agreement, which was supported by rich nations and poor from Scandinavia to Africa, will have the same effect as the 1997 ban on land mines, reducing use of the weapons even among non-signatory countries.

Simon Conway, co-chair of the Cluster Munitions Coalition, said that Myanmar is the only nation still using land mines and that the United States has not fired a single one since the ban went into effect.

Already, controversy over cluster bombs has led the United States to stop exporting them for now – a law that went into force this year bars the foreign sale of cluster bombs that have less than a 99 percent detonation or disabling rate, conditions that current versions of the weapons do not meet.

And as a matter of policy, the NATO alliance does not use cluster munitions in Afghanistan.

The Dublin meetings were part of a process begun in February 2007 in Oslo. The nations met again in Lima, Peru, in May 2007; Vienna in December; and Wellington, New Zealand, in January.

“We decided not to go to Oslo,” Stephen Mull, acting assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told reporters last week, “because we don’t want to give weight to a process that we think is ultimately flawed, because we don’t think that any international effort is going to succeed unless you get the major producers and the users of these weapons at the table.”

The United States argues that the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons is a more appropriate forum in which to talk about cluster munitions with major world powers at the table, Mull said.

Rachel Stohl, senior analyst at the Center for Defense Information in Washington, said the Pentagon gets “nervous” over discussions on restricting use of a weapons system it has in its arsenal and has used in previous conflicts.

She said the fact that in the past five years no situation has arisen in which US forces have needed cluster bombs should be evidence that they are not critical to modern warfare.

“The fact that these 100-plus countries have been able to come together and develop a convention text signifies that the rest of the world is ready to move forward with international agreements that are pro-humanity,” Stohl said. “In the end, the victims of cluster munitions have won.”

By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post
NCC training in institutions: Deliberations required

NCC training should be given a greater importance in the academic institutions all over India. Nowadays, Army, Navy and Air Force require intelligent young men and women. The training can offer greater job opportunities..
CJ: Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee ,

NCC TRAINING must be compulsory in academic institutions all over India, as all the three wings of defence ministry require intelligent and educated young men and women.

The National Cadet Corps ( NCC) came into existence on July 15, 1948. The origin of NCC can be traced back to the University Corps, which was created under the Indian Defence Act 1917 with the object to make up the shortage of the defence services. But with the passage of time, NCC has become a tri-services organisation comprising the Army, Navy and Air Force engaged in grooming the youth of the country in to disciplined and patriotic citizens.

But in West Bengal, very little care is taken of the NCC cadets and officers. Students do not get any extra advantage during their admissions while such facilities exist in other states of India. In West Bengal, NCC had been a compulsory training for the students in schools and colleges. But with too much emphasis on democratic norms and values, and especially with the crisis being over, NCC training is no more compulsory.

The Spartans were physically strong and Athens was always defeated by them. The Spartans were given compulsory military training for the whole youthful stage. In modern India, such rigorous training is not necessary. But a sound mind in a sound body. In these days of valueless politicking, cell addiction and other allurements for the youth, NCC training is almost a must. It makes the young mind healthy and engaged in good habits.

There are so many opportunities for the NCC cadets. They can go for trekking and satisfy their wander thirst. They can have the mountaineering training, which is really an adventuresome for the youth. Girls can join NCC for learning values of life. They can learn good leadership qualities. Job opportunities are there. In Border Security Forces (BSF), coastal services, Navy or in Army recruitment, NCC ‘C’ certificate holders are given preference and they are exempted from written test. NCC training keeps a student mentally alert and fit for all kinds of jobs. Nowadays, students waste time in gossiping and develop a lethargic outlook. NCC training makes them all smart for mixing with people. Social service is one of the mottoes of NCC cadets. Camps are organised to enhance awareness about national integration.

It is really thrilling that a young man of 16 or 17 is given the military training with real rifles or machine guns. They learn map-reading. In this way, a young mind is developed. In academic institutions students nowadays lead unhealthy canteen-life at their leisure periods. But only two/three hours training a week can change a young mind completely. Unity and discipline, which an NCC cadet learns from his training, help them face the issues of life and society in a much better way. Boldness and courage are taught in the easiest way through NCC training. Wearing of the uniform instills a rare sort of confidence in the young minds. Brilliant students of science have good scope for jobs in the Army or Air Force or Navy. Today militarism is based on intelligence. Our attitude to military training should change. Earlier only poor and less educated ones used to join the Army. Nowadays many intelligent students are showing interest in the military career.

NCC training can be made compulsory for at least six months in the academic institutions. This may be done by introducing defence studies in the colleges and universities. The Central and the state governments should make some deliberations on broad-based NCC training. It may give us better citizens for future India.

India strengthening defence along Chinese border

Pakistan Observer

New Delhi—Though much is being publicized about expanding trade relations between India and China, the tension between the two countries continues to maintain its edge and India is stepping up its military infrastructure along the Indo-China border to flex its military muscle.

The statement by Minister of State for Defence M. M. Palam Raju bears testimony to the fact that Indian army would continue to increase its troops’ concentration in Sikkim. “The country will not accept any Chinese claim over Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh and Indian army will continue to build-up forces in Sikkim areas till this threat perception is obliterated”, Mr Raju was quoted as saying.

Defence analysts are of the view that the Indian army is bolstering its military capability along its disputed border with China. The build-up is planned to take place in length and width of the Ladakh Sector in the north- Uttarkhand region and the eastern border in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

According to reports, the Indian army has also decided to raise two new mountain divisions of around 15,000 troops each, for deployment along the 4,05km of disputed Sino-India border. Senior Defence Ministry planners are working on building infrastructure, increasing troops, building additional air fields and upgrading roads along the China border.

“The current upsurge of economic activities between the two countries can be just an eyewash as India continues to harden its stance concerning the disputed Sino-India border”, observer the analysts.—APP

A new engagement with military

Ajai Shukla / New Delhi May 29, 2008, 23:14 IST

The success, last December, of the Defence R&D Organisation's Akash missile, which proved its ability to shoot down an enemy fighter 25 kilometres away, is a happy ending to a dismal tale. The Akash development programme, like others from the 1980s and 1990s, is a decades-long story of managerial and technological blunders, from which the DRDO is now drawing valuable lessons.

Under fire from the military and the media, and under scrutiny from a Review Panel set up by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the DRDO has instituted fundamental changes in the way it will now approach equipment development. In a series of exclusive interviews with Business Standard, top DRDO officials — the Chief Controllers, who head its various divisions — have outlined their new approach.

The most far-reaching change is an institutionalised forum — called the Services Interaction Group — in which the DRDO will work hand-in-hand with the military to identify the technologies, and weapons systems, which the DRDO laboratories must develop. The Services Interaction Group has already created its first "technology roadmap", which lists out the equipment the DRDO will develop over the 11th and 12th Defence Plan period, ie from 2007-2017.

That roadmap took more than a year to finalise; the process began at the beginning of 2007. A DRDO sub-committee called the G-FAST (Group for Forecasting and Analysis of Systems and Technologies) began consulting with almost 50 DRDO laboratories across the country, to make a draft technology roadmap.

Meanwhile, the three services, working together in the headquarters of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), produced their technology wishlist. Then, through several sittings in the DRDO's headquarters, the DRDO and the IDS agreed upon a final technology roadmap, which the DRDO would implement.

Such cooperation is routine in countries where defence is planned systematically. In India, however, the DRDO has long been at loggerheads with the services, which have complained about not being consulted about equipment that they must eventually use.

This communication gap was glaringly evident in the Akash missile programme; after the DRDO developed all the Akash launchers, radars, and command systems, the Army demanded higher mobility by fitting them into T-72 tanks.

The DRDO, having framed the Akash requirements unilaterally, was taken by surprise. Dr Prahlada, the DRDO's Chief Controller (R&D) explains, "It's not a joke to put the missile radar on a tank. It was a double challenge: having developed a cutting-edge radar, we then had to squeeze it into a tank, with all the problems of space, ruggedness, and high temperatures.

You can't even put an air conditioner, like in a wheeled vehicle… So instead of 12-15 years (to develop the Akash), we took 20 years; just to make sure the Army gets it on a tank."

But now, there's a joint process. The DRDO and the IDS have divided 100 of the most important technologies they need into three different categories:

  • Category 1. Technologies that the DRDO will develop in-house. These are strategic technologies and systems, such as missiles, hypersonics, and unmanned fighter aircraft, which no country usually provides to another.

  • Category 2. Technologies that the DRDO will develop in partnership with academic institutions. The CSIR, IITs, and universities will assist the DRDO with fundamental research, to overcome the DRDO's shortages of manpower and facilities.

  • Category 3. Technologies that the DRDO will develop with foreign partners, since they are beyond the capabilities of the country's existing scientific base.

    This is the first time that such rigour has been applied to the procedure for identifying projects and deadlines. In committing itself in this manner, the DRDO is displaying a new confidence.

    Senior DRDO scientists admit that they had traditionally avoided a joint roadmap because there was little certainty of being able to deliver on a project. If the project was successful, it would be brought to the user when it was nearly ready; if it failed, it could be quietly buried without any fuss.

    Now, however, there will be transparency and accountability, and regular reviews of how long-gestation projects are progressing. Says Dr VK Saraswat, Chief Controller of Missiles and Strategic Systems, "This is a consultative process and it doesn't stop. It is a continuous process. Every year we update it."

  • Thursday, 29 May 2008

    From Today's Papers - 29 May

    Floundering on defence
    UPA must do more on national security
    by Gurmeet Kanwal

    Four years ago, when the new ruling coalition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), had finalised its common minimum programme (CMP) for governance, the formulation contained a few brief paragraphs on foreign policy and national security. The CMP accorded a very high priority to defence modernisation and promised to eliminate delays and ensure that allotted funds were “spent fully at the earliest”.

    The coalition declared that it would make the National Security Council (NSC) a “professional and effective institution” and would appoint a full-time National Security Advisor (NSA). It also held out the assurance that “there will be no compromise in the fight against terrorism”, expressed concern at the manner in which the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) had been misused, and proposed to repeal it.

    The CMP also spelt out its intention to establish a new Department of Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare and proclaimed that the “long-pending issue of one-rank, one-pension will be re-examined.”

    The section on foreign policy dwelt on the UPA government’s intention to “maintain the independence of India’s foreign policy stance on all regional and global issues” while pursuing “closer strategic and economic engagement with the USA.” The new government said that it would “accord the highest priority to building closer political, economic and other ties with its neighbours in South Asia.”

    It would continue a systematic dialogue with Pakistan “on a sustained basis,” support peace talks in Sri Lanka, further expand trade and investment with China and “seriously” pursue talks on the border issue.

    Perhaps in deference to the Left Parties’ anti-nuclear sentiments, the CMP made no mention of the UPA’s stand on India’s nuclear policy of credible minimum deterrence and strategy of no first use. All of the aims and objectives contained in the CMP were unexceptionable and were generally in line with the stated positions of the Congress and the Left Parties with only minor variations.

    This appeared to augur well for a national consensus on major foreign policy and security issues as it was considered unlikely that the constituents of the outgoing National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would have objections to any of the provisions spelt out in the CMP. However, with only one year of the UPA’s five-year term remaining, the implementation of the CMP has been lackluster.

    Sadly, the lack of political consensus has almost checkmated the UPA government’s most importance foreign policy and national security initiative – the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.

    Despite the almost unanimous approval accorded to this agreement by the nuclear scientists, the leading lights among the members of the strategic community – including former Generals, Admirals and Marshals, diplomats and academics, and the irrefutable logic of obtaining uranium supplies and nuclear reactor technology quickly to further India’s nuclear energy programme, India’s political class has allowed coalition politics to prevail over national interest.

    The stubborn resistance of the Left Parties and the incomprehensible vacillation of the BJP and some of its NDA allies have stymied a key initiative that would have set India firmly on the road to world power status and pulled it out of the doghouse of nuclear apartheid and a disadvantageous technology denial regime. Only a political miracle can now salvage this deal before a new US Administration takes office in January 2009.

    Much still needs to be done to improve long-term defence planning and inter-ministerial coordination for the holistic assessment of emerging threats and challenges. The evolution of a comprehensive National Security Strategy (NSS) is a mandatory pre-requisite for the armed forces to plan their force structures and weapons and equipment acquisitions to meet future challenges.

    The first step in the NSS process is to conduct an inter-departmental Strategic Defence Review with multi-agency inputs. This must be ordered post haste by the National Security Council that has at long last begun to meet fairly regularly to consider the formulations and proposals of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and the Strategic Policy Group (SPG).

    The NDA government had dragged its feet on some important measures despite the recommendations made by its own Group of Ministers that had reviewed the suggestions of the four task forces formed after the Kargil Review Committee Report was submitted. The UPA government has also ignored these issues completely.

    These include the creation of a post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to provide single-point military advice to the Cabinet Committee on Security and the genuine integration of the headquarters (HQ) of the three Services with the Ministry of Defence. Equally important for efficient functioning is the need for the government to delegate responsibility for the financial management of the revenue budget to the Services HQ.

    The modernisation plans of the three Services are continuing to stagnate, raising the spectre of being out gunned by the Pakistanis some time in the future, even as China is gradually converting its quantitative superiority to a qualitative edge and tightening the screws in its strategic encirclement of India.

    Another important measure that is being glossed over is to raise the defence budget from the present abysmally low level of less than 2.0 per cent of the GDP to first 3.0 per cent and then gradually to 3.5 per cent, a figure the Indian economy can easily sustain.

    The Finance Minister must ratify his predecessor’s decision to institute a rolling, non-lapsable defence modernisation fund of Rs. 25,000 crore by incorporating it in the defence budget for the year 2008-09.

    The UPA government has its work cut out for its last year in office and Defence Minster A K Antony must take up the cudgels in right earnest - if this government is to leave a positive mark on India’s defence preparedness before it demits office.

    Meditation — Army way
    by Maj-Gen Jatinder Singh (retd)

    This is a true incident of early 1972. In the western theatre we had captured most of Shakargarh Bulge. Our Artillery Regiment was “in direct support” of an infantry brigade during the war and this affiliation remained in place till end-72 when we handed back the captured areas to Pakistan. This affiliation was marked with camaraderie and bonhomie interspersed with leg pulling.

    Our battery commander, Maj JK Vasdhani (JK for short) was a grizzled, serious looking person but with a fantastic sense of humour though occasionally sardonic. He was able to convince outsiders of what to us (his juniors) seemed ludicrous.

    He enjoyed a lively rapport with the supported infantry battalion commanding officer (CO). I was one of the forward observation officers (FOO) and our gun position officer (GPO) was young Lt SS Singh (Shashank Shekhar Singh, later the UP Cabinet Secretary with the Mayawati Government).

    SS as we called him was very enterprising and Maj JK gave him an unusual task when SS proceeded on a short leave to Lucknow during Feb 72. The results of this enterprise were highlighted during one of our regular get-togethers in the battalion officers mess after return of S.S.

    Major JK on entering the mess and after exchanging the usual pleasantries suddenly went into a “silent mode”. The CO tried to converse with JK. Each time JK would put his fingers on his lips and then point to his nameplate. It was slightly larger than the usual nameplate worn by officers but it had a shutter on the lower half below his name. We were aghast at JK’s actions. JK again pointed at the shutter and we looked closer to see a “OUT” in the open half of the shutter.

    After agonising minutes of silence he moved the shutter to ‘IN’ position and started conversing with the CO. He convinced the CO that an Army order had been issued which laid down that all ‘field officers’ (Officers with the rank of Majors and above) were to use these shuttered name plates. Whenever these field officers wanted to meditate/contemplate they could shift the shutter to “OUT” position and this was to imply that they were not to be disturbed.

    The CO took JK’s word and started berating his Adjutant as to how the gunners had this Army order and why had they not received the same. The Adjutant called up the brigade and there was reasonable amount of confusion at the brigade and battalion for the next few hours. During the dinner get-together JK entered the mess with a ration (Meat on hoof — Army parlance) Bakra in tow and after handing the bakra over to the CO he followed it up by shifting the shutter to ‘IN’ position and let out a loud guffaw.

    What followed was a boisterous evening set in motion by scotch for all by JK and a pat for SS for getting the shutter name plate.

    Sixth Pay Commission
    Panel wants govt to pay arrears in phased manner

    New Delhi, May 28
    Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council wants the government to pay its employees in phased manner and deposit part of the estimated arrear of 18,000 crore in their Provident Fund while implementing the sixth pay panel report to minimise its impact on inflation.

    “Since the payment of arrears in cash could result in marginal rise in inflation rate due to spurt in demand for various products, the EAC has said that government should consider depositing part of the arrears due to employees in provident fund and pay the remaining amount in a phased manner,” official sources said.

    The council, headed by noted economist and former Reserve Bank governor C. Rangarajan, is of the opinion that the payment of arrears in one go could result in further rise in prices, especially of manufactured goods and consumer products.

    “The government had paid the arrears in a phased manner while implementing the report of previous Pay Commissions, so it can consider it again,” said Rangarajan.

    The council, which advises Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on important economic matters, had earlier said the inflation rate could come down to 5 to 5.5 per cent after about four months following good monsoon and measures taken by the government. — PTI

    Army for tougher law

    Tezpur, May 28: The army today advocated tougher legal provisions to win the fight against insurgency.

    GOC, 4 Corps, Lt Gen. B.S. Jaswal, told newsmen in this garrison town that it has become imperative to stop arrested militants from getting bail easily to effectively curb militancy.

    “We need to have tougher legal provisions in place as we have reports about most arrested militants returning to the rebel fold once they are out on bail. To stop this recycling we need to have tougher laws. I will not be able to say the kind of legislation required as I am not well versed in that subject but it should be something like putting the arrested militants behind bars for a longer duration,” the GOC, who assumed charge in August, said.

    Building a strong case in favour of tougher legislation against those who endanger public safety, Gen. Jaswal said a longer term behind bars would not only de-motivate the militants but also keep them away from their mentors. “Anybody carrying explosives or arms that threatens public safety has to be dealt with firmly,” he said.

    Citing an example to prove his point, he said a militant was arrested in Sivasagar district with three IEDs. “He was arrested but got out on bail. He was re-arrested with five IEDs. This proves that they go back to the organisation. This can be stopped only if there is tougher legislation.”

    The senior army official, who is in charge of the operations group of the Unified Command in the state, said it would not be militarily possible to decimate insurgency in three years as claimed by the state government recently. Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said the Tarun Gogoi-led government would be able to resolve the problems plaguing Assam, including insurgency vis-à-vis Ulfa, in three years.

    “Militarily, our experience shows that it is not possible to wipe out insurgency, which is nothing but terrorism here. But if the present trend of operations continues, it can definitely be brought down to a manageable level..”

    Describing 2007 as the “golden year” in the fight against militants as counter-insurgency operations has neutralised around 3,000 militants by way of arrests and encounters, Gen. Jaswal said the morale of Ulfa was extremely low. “We have been able to neutralise around 80 leaders of Ulfa.”

    Yesterday, I was apprised by the state government at a meeting of the operations group that there were around 40 Ulfa leaders in Bangladesh. Their strength is clearly diminishing and this is because of the support of the common man to the security forces and sustained operations. Today, there was big chasm between their leaders within the country and outside,” he said.


    Army on standby in Ambala
    Tribune News Service

    Ambala, May 28
    The Army was placed on standby in Ambala district late this evening following intelligence reports of possible violence by Gujjars around the areas of Panipat, Sonepat and areas particularly adjoining the National Highway-1 (NH-1).

    According to sources in the home ministry, the Army, which was earlier in the day issued a general alert, was late in the night ordered to be prepared for development at a short notice.

    Sources said the intelligence reports received from areas of Panipat and Sonepat indicated that the Gujjars could resort to violence in case they were prevented from entering New Delhi. Reports also indicated that apart from stopping vehicular traffic on the NH-1, they may attempt to disrupt the Ambala-Delhi line.

    Defence sellers must part with technology: Antony


    28 May 2008, Wednesday

    MAKING IT clear that future defence procurements in India will have to be based on technology sharing and co-production, Defence Minister AK Antony has stated that companies planning to sell major defence products in India must be prepared to part with technology.

    Speaking shortly before his departure from Berlin, Antony said, "The era of procurement alone is over as far as India is concerned." He further said, "We would like to have fruitful defence cooperation with countries, which are prepared to transfer technology and are interested in co-designing, co-development and co-production of defence products."

    Referring to Indo-German defence co-operation, Antony said that he had impressed upon his German counterpart Dr Franz Josef Jung on Monday (May 26) that India is a responsible country and that Germany should be flexible towards India so far as technology transfer issues are concerned.

    The minister was optimistic that outstanding issues in this regard would be settled soon in India’s favour in the near future.

    Antony was in Germany to attend the


    Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

    Template created by Rohit Agarwal