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Saturday, 28 June 2008

From Today's Papers -28 Jun




































How he and his men won those wars

NEW DELHI: ‘Sam’ Maneskhaw backed his men through and through. And, his self-belief rubbed on to his men. He would back officers even if some of them developed a fondness for the bottle that made them anathema in the eyes of some of his more punctilious colleagues. ‘Sam’ felt that the indiscretions of youth could be overlooked if the officer was courageous and a brilliant tactician, one whom soldiers would follow unquestioningly. Thus, when the 1971 war came about, the General had around him officers who were not afraid to speak out their mind but when ordered to do so, would fulfil their missions with the dedication of evangelists. Like Major General Ian Cordozo who cut off his leg without anaesthesia after gangrene had set in during the battle at Sylhet in Bangladesh. Manekshaw conveyed to his Eastern Command chief Lt. Gen. J.F.R. Jacob, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s wish to move quickly into East Pakistan in 1971. On being asked by General Jacob to wait till the end of monsoons, ‘Sam’ accepted his commander’s advice and did not budge when requested by the political leadership to launch operations immediately. Asked by Indira Gandhi whether “he was ready [for the war],” Sam replied, “Sweety, I am always ready.” But he stood solidly by the assessment of his field commanders, who felt that a military campaign which began in summer would not be concluded successfully because of the monsoon. This lead to the famous four words from Jagjivan Ram, then Defence Minister: Sam, ab maan bhi jao (Sam, please do agree). Manekshaw was proved right. By the time war was declared, the army had over eight lakh men, about 300 fighter planes, 1,500 tanks and 3,000 artillery pieces. The Pakistan Army had less than half that number of men, fighter jets, tanks and artillery pieces. ‘Sam’ had mentored many of the officers serving under him. Pakistani military historian Shuja Nawaz recalls that the war gaming models by an Indian officer about Pakistan’s likely offensive in Jammu during the 1965 war were so accurate. It was as if he had read the Pakistan commander’s mind. The Indian army officer later revealed that he had developed these ideas while serving under a certain Brigadier Manekshaw in an infantry school. The sterling display by the army in 1971 under Manekshaw could not have happened without a combination of factors. Having noted Foreign Minister Swaran Singh’s advice to not venture into the war without an influential international friend, Indira Gandhi signed the 20-year friendship treaty with the Soviet Union which instantly increased the availability of weapons. Foreign journalists expelled from East Pakistan were smuggled back by India to write on the Mukti Bahini’s successes and the Pakistan Army’s excesses. This put Pakistan on the backfoot as far as the liberal international opinion was concerned. The 1971 war saw several instances of jointsmanship among the armed forces. Naval jets accompanied IAF fighters to pound Chittagong. The navy made innovative use of high-speed short distance missile boats by towing them towards the Pakistan coast at night and launching a lightning attack on ships in the Karachi port from the southern side even as IAF fighters appeared from the eastern side. Indeed this thread of all the three forces chipping in their might made the 1971 war a delight to execute for its Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals. While Manekshaw was adamant about delaying the military campaign till the monsoon had receded, he was flexible on many occasions. A firm believer in the Clausewetzian theory of that war is continuation of politics by other means, Manekshaw accepted the creation of a joint military command in which the head of the Mukti Bahini (a retired colonel) was given the title of a general and made the East Pakistan’s counterpart of Eastern Command chief Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh. This was essentially a political arrangement and Manekshaw saw sense in accepting this gesture aimed at respecting Bangladesh’s status as an independent nation and its sensibilities. And as result, the Indian Army’s Eastern Command received a steady flow of priceless intelligence about the Pakistan Army. And then there was Manekshaw’s attitude of not pulling rank if the advice was sensible. The Eastern Command wanted Dhaka as the final objective but the East Pakistan capital was missing from Manekshaw’s battle plans. An intense debate ensued at Fort William in Calcutta, the army’s Eastern Command headquarters, and battle plans were modified to include the capture of Dhaka as a key objective of the attack on East Pakistan. No debate of this kind was conducted at the Pakistan Army’s central headquarters in Rawalpindi, rues Shuja Nawaz. All these combined to give a decisive victory for the Indian armed forces and helped create a nation that gave the lie to the two-nation theory.

1971 — His greatest triumph: surrender by Bangla forces
How Yahya ‘exchanged’ Bangladesh for a bike

New Delhi, June 27
Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw had sold a James motorcycle to his junior Yahya Khan for which he never got the money.

But years later, Sam Bhahdur, as he was popularly called, claimed that “Yahya, who rose to become the President of Pakistan, made up for it by giving me the whole of East Pakistan!”

Hormazd Sorabjee of Autocar India had interviewed the Field Marshal at his home in Coonoor, near Ooty, Nilgiris.

Sam, who loved bikes and cars, had this interesting anecdote for Sorabjee: He had bought a James motorcycle from a British Officer for Rs 1,600 in 1947. Just two days before the Partition, his good friend Major Yahya Khan, who went on to become the President of Pakistan, begged Manekshaw to sell him the bike. “What will I use?” asked Manekshaw. To which Yahya replied, “Sir, you will get everything in India, we will get nothing in Pakistan”.

Manekshaw agreed to sell the bike for Rs 1,000 and said, “Okay, Yahya take it!” Yahya looked at his superior and said, “Sir, I haven't got a thousand. I will send it to you”. Manekshaw was never paid the Rs 1,000 but said, “Yahya made up for it by giving me the whole of East Pakistan!”

Sorabjee, who had interviewed Manekshaw on his “Sunbeam Repear” car had mentioned the Yahya Khan tale in his article. — UNI

Field Marshal S. H. F. J. Manekshaw
One of the ‘pioneers’ of IMA
S. M. A. Kazmi
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, June 27
Sam Manekshaw was amongst the first 40 cadets who joined the academy and were known as the “pioneers”.

The IMA was set up on October 1, 1932. With Brig L.P. Collins as its first commandant, the first course had on its roll Manekshaw, who after passing out from Sherwood College, Nainital, joined the IMA.

The academy, which started from erstwhile Railway Staff College here with an extensive campus, also had Smith Dun and Mohammad Musa along with Manekshaw who all rose to become Army chiefs of their respective countries namely Burma, Pakistan and India.

Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode, after whom the main building of the academy was named, formally inaugurated the IMA on December 10, 1932.

Interestingly, even before the first course passed out, Lord Willingdon, the then Viceroy of India, presented colours to the academy.

Under Officer Smith Dun commanded the parade held on the occasion and later also commanded the passing out parade.

As per academy records, Manekshaw as a gentleman cadet had his share of trials and tribulations, rewards and punishments.

He was commissioned into 4/12 Frontier Force as Second Lieutenant after he passed out in December 1934.

Manekshaw visited the academy many times as Army chief in 1969 and then as a reviewing officer of the passing out parade in 2002. He visited the academy for the last time in 2006 to inaugurate a war memorial.

Manekshaw become a legendary military leader imbibing the credo of his academy given by Field Marshal Chetwode in his inaugural address: “The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last always and every time.”


Manekshaw laid to rest

Udhagamandalam (TN), June 27
Iconic former Army chief Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw was given the final salute in a state funeral and laid to rest with full military honours. As a 17-gun salute boomed, the body of Manekshaw (94) was buried in a Parsi graveyard adjacent to the place where his wife lay buried after the last rites was performed as per the Zoroastrian customs.

His wife Silloo died seven years back. The celebrated master strategist and the architect of India’s victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak war that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh was given a state funeral in an acknowledgement of his services to the country in his military career spanning four decades. Union minister of state for defence Pallam Raju placed a wreath on behalf of the Prime Minister, Central Government and also public of India.

The body of ‘Sam Bahadur’ as he was affectionately called was kept at the Madras Regiment Centre parade grounds, Wellington, for about three hours from 11.15 am to enable the public to pay homage to the departed General. The body was then placed inside a closed coffin in an open flower-bedecked military truck and brought to the graveyard, 21 km from Wellington. ` Manekshaw’s end came at 12.30 am at a Wellington hospital, where he was battling a lung disease for several days bringing to an end an era.

The Public and media were not allowed inside the graveyard, while the last rites were being performed as Manekshaw’s family members wanted the ceremony to be a private affair. Manekshaw’s death was condoled by President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief ministers, Governors and former service chiefs. — PTI


Top Govt., military brass miss Field Marshal Manekshaw's funeral
ANI
New Delhi, June 27 (ANI): The death of India's first Field Marshal, Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, should have prompted top leaders of the government and the armed forces to make a beeline for Wellington to attend his funeral, but on Friday, no one of note was present.Most chose to send messag of condolence to the bereaved family of one India's most popular and decorated soldiers despite them being in the country.
While President Pratibha Devisingh Patil was in Indore on an official tour, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Defence Minister A.K.Athony were in New Delhi, but chose to send messages of condolence.The Government decided to send Minister of State for Defence M.Pallam Raju to represent it at the funeral.From the side of the armed forces, the incumbent Chief of Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor, is in Russia on an official visit. The army deputed the Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Milan Naidu to represent it. Air Chief Marshal Fali Major deputed his Vice-Chief R.K. Jolly to represent the Indian Air Force at the funeral, while a rear admiral of the Southern Naval Command is representing the Navy Field Marshal Manekshaw died at the Military Hospital in Wellington early on Friday at the age of 94. He was the country's eighth Chief of Army Staff and had a distinguished career in the armed forces for nearly four decades.
His moment of glory came when synchronised the Indian armed forces into a tellingly effective war machine to defeat Pakistan in the War of 1971, which led to the creation of Bangladesh. In recognition of his services to the nation, he was made a Field Marshal by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi just 15 days before his superannuation as army chief. (ANI)

His spirit lives on in Amritsar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 27
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who was born on April 3, 1914, was the last Amritsar-born Parsi. Tehmi Bhandari, a Parsi woman who was Manekshaw’s childhood friend, had died on August 26, 2006, at the age of 101.

It was visionary Maharaja Ranjit Singh who was instrumental in bringing members of various communities such as Parsis and Marwaris to settle in Amritsar during his rule. Amritsar-born Parsis, whose unflinching courage, dogged determination and the zeal to excel earned them laurels in various fields, were known for their enterprise and Manekshaw’s family was no exception. However, with the passage of time, many Parsis facing serious demographic problems migrated to other places.

Field Marshal Manekshaw was born in Amritsar in 1914 at the house of Dr H.F.S. Maneckshaw. Sam Manekshaw, who had made Delhi his home, did his FA (second year) from Hindu Sabha College (Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was also the alumnus of the college). As per the official records, he joined the college on March 3, 1934, and left the institution in January 1935 to join the IMA. Earlier, he had completed his schooling from the local PBN School.

The city hosted a memorable reception when the Field Marshal visited the historic Ram Bagh here after scripting a histories win in the 1971 war. He also visited the “Sur Babu & Co” at Katra Ahluwalia, the chemist shop once owned by his father, who was a doctor. Nobody sits on the chair in the chemist shop where Dr Manekshaw used to sit before it was gifted to his assistant manager. The owner of the shop, recalled that Dr Manekshaw was a “man of word,” and disposed of his palatial bungalow on the Mall for Rs 1 lakh. Though Baiji (wife of Dr Manekshaw) got annoyed following the deal, Dr Manekshaw told her that he had already given his word. Not surprisingly, Dr Manekshaw’s son, Field Marshal Manekshaw, has had a special affection for the city.

Once, late G.R. Sethi, a veteran journalist from Amritsar, went to the Army headquarters for a courtesy call without appointment. The staff of the Army Chief refused to entertain him. But on seeing the visiting card of the journalist from Amritsar, the Field Marshal immediately came out of the room and accorded him a warm welcome.

Bahadur Sam
A billion people salute their hero

AS a soldier’s soldier and the nation’s archetypal war hero, Sam “Bahadur” Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw was the very stuff of which military legends are made. Whether taking Japanese bullets in his stomach during World War II, or marshalling his forces for the triumph of 1971 against Pakistan, Sam exemplified the best of military virtues — the ability to see the strategic big picture without missing the devil in the detail; to display courage and determination under fire; to stand by every single man under one’s command; to work hard and party hard; and to deploy reserves of wit, humour and even school-boy braggadocio, to serve where a bullet would not.

These virtues were on display right from the very beginning, when the Amritsar-born Parsi joined the very first batch of the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. A great soldier always finds himself in the thick of action, and in Burma, it was his bravery against Japanese forces that saw his superior pinning his own Military Cross ribbon on him in the battlefield. He joined the Frontier Force Regiment, and declined Jinnah’s invitation to be a part of the Pakistani armed forces at the time of Partition. He oversaw the defence of Jammu and Kashmir against the tribal raiders in 1947-1948. Apart from commanding divisions and corps in J&K and the Northeast, he was commandant of the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, the Nilgiris, a place which he made his home. As the Eastern Command chief, he handled the insurgency in Nagaland.

As Chief of Staff during the East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) crisis, he famously resisted attempts to rush the Army into military action, instead taking time to get his men and material exactly where he wanted them, primed and ready for a decisive success. The 1971 victory catapulted him to iconic status which sat lightly on his shoulders. He set the highest standards of excellence in service to the nation and he was a source of inspiration, not for just armed forces personnel but for men and women in general. Good bye Sam, we’ll cherish your legacy of gallantry and military sagacity, and your old-world virtues of courtesy, chivalry and charm. A billion hearts salute you.



Charming, Sam could call a spade a spade
- He led a happy team and believed in the motto: work hard and play hard

A tribute to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who died on Thursday night. He was 94. Manekshaw was accorded a state funeral on Friday in Tamil Nadu.

Sam Bahadur, as he was fondly called by the rank and file of the Indian Army, was an epitome of “the officer and a gentleman” tradition. For most of us who had the privilege and good fortune to serve under his leadership, he was indeed a role model.

General, later Field Marshal, Sam Manekshaw led our army to its finest victory in 1971. He masterminded the defeat of the Pakistani Army in erstwhile East Pakistan. It was the swiftest and most decisive victory in recent history. And importantly, it resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.

I got to know him in 1957 as a teenager studying in Jammu, when he was the commanding general of the 26 Infantry Division there. He was one of the primary motivating factors in my deciding to join the NDA and serve the nation.

During my early years in the army, he was the army commander in Eastern Command in Calcutta. In 1965-68, we were serving in Nagaland. He had inspired all of us so much that we were ready to do anything to implement his strategy and directions relating to counter-insurgency. We had outstanding successes such as the neutralisation of the entire gang of Naga hostiles led by the self-styled General Mowu Angami.

I realised that Sam Bahadur was not only a great military leader, but he had many other qualities and facets of his personality, such as being lion-hearted, particularly in adversity. He also had an uncanny sense of humour, and seldom lost his cool.

At the highest levels of military leadership, one is required to have the moral courage to call a spade a spade and to render professional advice keeping national interest uppermost. Not only was he gifted with this important quality, but he was also endowed with the ability to put across his views tactfully and effectively.

The manner in which he displayed these attributes in early 1971, when the occasion demanded, during the briefing and discussions regarding the Bangladesh War, is legendary. A lesser person would not have been able to do what Sam Bahadur did.

Sam also lived life fully. He was disarming and friendly. Endowed with social charm and grace, he was extremely popular with the fair sex. He led a happy team and believed in the motto “work hard and play hard”.

He has many admirers and friends in Calcutta because of his stint as GoC-in-C of Eastern Command. He will surely be missed by them all as also by the rest of our countrymen.

I would fail in my responsibility if I do not mention Sam Bahadur’s concern for his men, the gallant soldiers of his Regiment, the 8th Gorkha Rifles, and the Indian Army. He was loved by the men. A true soldier’s General he was.

His passing away is a great loss to the Indian Army and our country, but his legend will live on.


Lust for life, zest for battle - He knew when to say ‘No’

Sam Manekshaw (1914 - 2008 )

New Delhi, June 27: By the time the Great Mule finally kicked him in Wellington last night, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw had transcended the line between legend and myth. It’s been a lark of a trip.

He was a legend when he said “No” to Indira Gandhi and refused to go to war in April 1971 and then, eight months later, delivered modern India’s greatest military victory.

Sam Bahadur has been in and out of the military hospital in Wellington for much of the last five years. He’s been in and out of a coma, prepared to die, never looking forward to it, adept at dodging his Maker with a feint here and a shove there for much of his life.

It surprised him no less than others that he should be able to exhibit such zest, such a lust for life that it should conceal the horrible, calculated working of a military mind.

Four corps of the army he commanded converged on Dhaka from four directions and, aided by the Mukti Bahini, forced the surrender of the Pakistani army and helped create a new nation.

In the most celebrated military photograph showing Pakistan’s Lt General A.A.K. Niazi signing the instrument of surrender on December 16, 1971, the general who crafted the victory is absent.

He was in Delhi, twirling a waxed moustache and guffawing. Did he really tell Indira Gandhi “Sweetie, I told you so?” — we’ll never know now.

We know of course that subsequent generals had not learnt to say “No” when it mattered most, for example, in 2001, when India’s Prime Minister ordered the army to mobilise for a war that was never intended.

Thirty years on from 1971, the generals quietly agreed to march the entire soldiery into a political game, not daring to point out how foolhardy it is to expose military assets when you do not intend going into battle.

Myths have been woven about Manekshaw’s flamboyant personality since the time he was conferred the rank of field marshal in 1973. Myths are necessary to the military in India because real life is boring.

Manekshaw was not prepared for the honours that came his way. You can bet he did not dream of getting a state funeral — like the government has today decided to accord to him “in a rare gesture” — when he died.

For, decades before he was made field marshal, Manekshaw, the first Indian Military Academy cadet to be punished for weekend excess on “liberty”, was prepared to die when he was only 28 years of age.

He took bullets in his body in Burma in 1942 — and lived a decade and more for each of the nine pieces of lead. When the Australian surgeon asked him what had wasted him so, Manekshaw replied: “A bloody mule kicked me.” After that, the doctor was determined. “By Jove,” he said, “you have a sense of humour; I think you are worth saving.”

If leadership sat lightly on the general who exemplified it, it was because the man couldn’t stop having a good laugh at the world, his times and himself, in that order. He waged war, yes — and war is horrible because you kill or get killed or plot to kill and it is macabre and all of that — but Manekshaw almost spotted a sport in it.

If you must be a professional soldier, paid to kill or get killed, it is just as well that you should go about the nasty business with a head swilling in Dimple scotch whisky.

Manekshaw’s nasha has been infectious. He allegedly called Indira Gandhi “sweetie” in 1971 and, a few months back, called septuagenarian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who went to meet him, “a baby”. Kalam had gone to gift him the arrears of salary totalling more than Rs 1 crore, much of which had accrued when politicians were suspicious of the field marshal and he was being victimised for a cavalier attitude towards India’s rulers.

The provocation, apparently, was a newspaper interview in which he said had he chosen to go to Pakistan at the time of Partition, India would not have won the 1971 war. Parliament members of the time (1972) found in that statement an element of disloyalty when, in fact, it was reflecting a professional military mind.

Seeds of suspicion were sown again in 2005 when Gohar Ayub Khan, former Pakistan governor and son of Pakistan’s General Ayub Khan, insinuated that Manekshaw, as an officer of the Directorate of Military Operations in 1948, had leaked plans for the 1965 war.

Gohar Ayub Khan never named Manekshaw but maintained that the officer was still alive and that his wife had a fondness for gardening. Manekshaw’s wife Siloo died in 2001.

Despite the army protestations, few Indian politicians rose up and asked how it was that Pakistan lost the 1965 war despite getting hold of India’s warplan?

Manekshaw, if he was aware of the controversy, never spoke a word about it and, in fact, the Indian Army was even shy of uttering that it was to their field marshal that the Pakistani politician was referring.

Now that Manekshaw is no more, Gohar Ayub’s views should be all the more interesting. But the field marshal has left no one in doubt about what he thought of India’s politicians — though he did tell Indira Gandhi who was afraid he was planning a coup that he was happy running the army without having to shoulder the burden of running the country.

He said: “I wonder whether those of our political masters who have been put in charge of the defence of the country can distinguish a mortar from a motor; a gun from a howitzer; a guerrilla from a gorilla — although a great many of them in the past have resembled the latter.”

Manekshaw refused to take ambassadorships and gubernatorial positions since his retirement. His biggest prize probably came only in April this year, when he was given the news that Bangladesh hosted 10 Indian generals he had commanded in the 1971 war, and finally acknowledged the role of the Indian Army in the creation of that nation.
Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw a.k.a Sam Bahadur R.I.P.

US eyes Indian defence market
Defence Minister AK Antony, while inaugurating the new building complex of the Bangalore-based Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE), stressed the need for self reliance in the design, development and manufacture of high precision avionics systems for the Indian Air Force, which is working out a strategy for modernization and augmentation on a massive scale.
Antony has repeatedly expressed his vehement opposition to the blind and wholesale import of defence hardware and advanced technological systems. In fact, he has made it clear that India will clinch a deal for defence hardware and associated technology only as an equal partner. His thesis is that India has technological expertise and an industrial base, resurgent enough to not only absorb and adopt advanced imported technologies, but also to indigenously design and develop state-of-the-art weapons and armaments.
'High technology products need to be futuristic. Our over-dependence on foreign suppliers must reduce. We must develop our own systems indigenously. A tendency to depend on foreign suppliers may land the country and the armed forces in deep trouble in crucial times in the form of import restrictions, technology transfer denials or even undue and unjustifiable delay in the delivery of already contracted systems or components of critical nature" observed Antony. He did not leave anyone in doubt that he was referring to the US.
In fact, the American sanctions and technology embargo that came in the wake of India's 1998 nuclear blasts had affected the developmental schedules of a number of projects of national importance including the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), developed by the Aeronautical Development Laboratory (ADA) and the Saras multi-role light transport aircraft, developed by the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Bangalore.
Notwithstanding the growing bonhomie in Indo-US relations, many Indian industrial outfits, research institutions and scientific organizations continue to be under the US Entity List. Not surprisingly then, both in the civilian and defence sectors here, the US is not favored as a dependable and reliable partner for projects of critical nature.
As it is, way back in early 90s the US had coerced an economically emaciated and political unstable Russia into going back on its commitment of transferring the critical cryogenic engine technology to India. Their argument was that the transfer of technology, which is of dual use, constituted a clear-cut violation of the so-called Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Overcoming all the impediments, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has now successfully developed an indigenous cryogenic engine constitution the upper stage of the three-stage GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle).
Similarly, DRDO has not forgotten how the US tried to coerce the Union Government into dropping the development programme of Agni range of surface-to-surface, nuclear capable missiles. Antony notes that "despite technology denials and restrictive export regimes, DRDO has been able to develop strategic systems and advanced missiles".
Against such a backdrop, India's defence establishment is fully aware of the implications of getting defence hardware and advanced armament systems from the US. For the denial of spares and refusal to service the hardware in the event of an embargo would mean a serious setback to the country's defence preparedness. But then, Russia which has supplied India with a vast array of military equipment including combat aircraft and utility helicopters is fast eroding its Indian base. Indeed, the Indian military planners are losing patience with Russia for its failure to stick to the deadline and make available spares on time.
Peeved by the inordinate delay and a hefty price hike in respect of retrofitting the decommissioned aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, naval chief Admiral Suresh Mehta had sometime back questioned the logic of looking at Russia as a reliable and trusted military partner. Similarly, the Russian insistence on a massive increase in the price tag of Su-30 MKI multi-role combat aircraft, which currently constitutes the very backbone of the IAF, has not gone down well with the Indian defence establishment. It is here that the US is trying to step into the Indian defence scenario with robust optimism.
In this context, the statement made by the US defense secretary Robert Gates that military-to-military ties between the two countries would continue to be independent of the controversial Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, assumes significance. Of course, Indian Government's lack of political will to go ahead with the deal has pushed it into a "slow and certain death." Gates was forthright in his assertion, "We ask for no special treatment. We are pleased to have a place on the table. And we believe that in a fair competition, we have a good case to make".
On its part, US defence and aerospace major Boeing estimates a US$10-15 billion defence market in India over the next one decade. "According to industry projections, there will be a need for around 1000 defence aircraft by 2020, while 70 per cent of the requirement will be filled by the existing orders for aircraft like Su-30s" says Deba Mohanty, a defence analyst with the New Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation.
Perhaps the biggest trump card of the American defence hardware and systems is their perceived superiority in terms of performance, efficiency, technology and state-of-the-art electronics and avionics systems in comparison to the Russian defence equipment. The latter's biggest disadvantage lies in avionics and electronics, which form a major component of an aircraft.
Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin, keen on grabbing the mega Indian order for the supply of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft to IAF have offered their most advanced fighter machines to India. The argument of Boeing is that F/A-18E/F Super Hornet that it has offered to India is already in service with the Australian Air Force. Not to be outdone, Lockheed Martin has sweetened its offer of making available F-16 IN Fighter Falcon by hinting at a possible future sale of F-35 JSF of perhaps F-22 combat aircraft if India goes in for F-16.
Boeing which has submitted a proposal for the supply of eight long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft at an estimated cost of US$2-billion is awaiting the nod from defence ministry. The Boeing P-8A multi mission maritime aircraft built around a Boeing-737 aircraft is, however, known to be under its active consideration. In response to Indian request for proposal for 22 attack helicopters, Boeing is offering its AH-64 Apache Longbow.
Meanwhile, US aerospace and defence contractors are awaiting Indian request for proposal for the supply of around 200 light utility helicopters. These helicopters will replace the aging fleet of Cheeta and Chetaks in service with the IAF and the Indian army. Originally, India had planned the acquisition of 300-plus light utility helicopters. But with the Bangalore based aeronautical major HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) coming forward to develop a hundred plus light utility helicopters, the Indian defence ministry decided to go in for the import of around 200 such rotary wing machines. Is there need to shop elsewhere?
Radhakrishna Rao, -INFA

Army gets notice for sacking HIV positive personnel
The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Indian Army on a petition that challenges the sacking of personnel who are HIV positive, without the mandatory approval of the army's medical board.
A bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice GS Singhvi issued notices to the central government and the defence ministry on a plea by a HIV positive havildar of the Indian Army's Ordinance Corps, posted at the army's Ordinance Depot in New Delhi.The havildar moved the apex court, challenging his impending ouster from the army on June 30.The bench, however, declining to stall his slated ouster, decided to hear his plea along with a similar plea by another army personnel August 6.Appearing for the havildar, advocate Aagney Sail of the Human Rights Law Network contended before the bench that the army's policy decision taken in April 2007 to oust its HIV positive personnel was a ''retrograde'' one.
Sail contended that his client was being sacked ''on the erroneous assumption that HIV positive persons are inherently incapable of serving in the army''.Sail pointed out that not only do armies of various western countries, including those of the US and Canada, allow HIV positive personnel to serve, but also lets them go to the battlefront. He submitted to the bench a copy of a March 2008 ruling of the South African High Court, which had struck down a government decision against letting HIV positive personnel serve in its army. ''It is the prejudice against the positive status that is the foundation of the notion that HIV positive persons are inherently unable to serve in the army,'' Sail contended.

Army officers graduate

Jamshedpur, June 26: The third defence officers’ batch of the executive management programme at XLRI graduated today at a function held on the B-school campus.

XLRI launched the certificate programme in business management for the defence personnel on January 14, 2007, and 59 officers graduated from the present batch.

The programme for defence officers was launched on the request of central ministry of human resource development, which perceived the need for resettlement of officers.

The batch comprises engineers, doctors and air traffic controllers, mountaineers, naval aviators and submariners with experience ranging from five to 30 years of service.

Professor Pranabesh Ray, the course in-charge, said: “The executive management programme has been designed keeping in mind the needs of the business world with the aspirations of the service officers. This programme has been structured to focus on the theoretical formulation and is designed to augment and adapt the officers’ varied experience to disciplines and functional areas relevant to management of business.”

The programme equipped the students with basic skills of all functional areas of management thereby enabling them to find a second career in the corporate world.

Bhushan Raina, the managing director of the Tinplate Company of India Limited, was the chief guest at the graduation ceremony.

Addressing students he said: “From defence officers to management personnel — it’s a huge transition. All the officers are already efficient managers as in their previous career they always had some uncertainty to deal with.”

Based on their academic excellence Captain Kavita M., Colonel Krishna Dev Singh and Captain Esha were awarded the first, second and third ranks, respectively.

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