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Saturday, 7 June 2008

From Today's Papers - 7 Jun

Army's clear and present danger: Officers quitting

New Delhi: The Indian Army is battling a crisis: Officers quitting or opting for early retirement.

More than 800 Army officers put in their papers in the first five months of this year. This is alarming, as in the whole of last year a total of 1,100 officers put in their papers.

The dramatic increase in the number of officers waiting to leave comes after the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations on salaries were made public.

The military’s top brass has shot down the recommended salary hikes, but even before the commission’s recommendations were made public Army headquarters was receiving an average of five resignations a day.

Of those who have opted for early retirement, 400 are lieutenant colonels, 200 colonels and 150 officers of rank Major and below. Among those asking for premature retirement, majority are middle rung officers who are critical in the Army’s command structure.

The Army has already had to let 300 of these applicants hang up their uniforms, so far this year.

These officers are critical for the Army for they command battlefield units.

Poor pay is forcing many soldiers to pursue a more lucrative career in the private sector.

It is a sign of troubled times ahead specially when the number of resignations are compared to the figures of 2007. Last year, out of 1,100 officers who sought premature retirement, 550 were released.

Major Amar Kwatra left the Army after nine years of distinguished service. A fourth generation in the Defence, a Sena Medal to his name and several counter insurgency operations later, Amar believes he has done his bit.

“We never joined for the money. We joined for respect. However, you do want a lifestyle. If I want to send my child to a public school, I can’t afford it on a Major’s salary,” says Amar Kwatra.

Meanwhile it is this point the Chiefs of all three Indian services have been stressing to the political class. Already 11,000 officers short, the Army is feeling the pinch with every man.

It seems only speedy measures from the government, redressing grievances will be able to retain its Army officers.

Army to try its hands on Nishant before induction

New Delhi (PTI): In a major step towards giving the Indian Army discrete aerial reconnaissance and target acquisition capabilities, Nishant, the DRDO's pilotless aircraft, will soon be put through pre-induction trails.

The Army is expected to take Nishant, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), for "confirmatory and training trials before induction" within a month. "The trials are scheduled to be held shortly," officials of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) said on Friday.

Designed to perform discrete aerial intelligence gathering and for acquiring targets on land and air, Nishant would be put to use by the Indian Army in forward areas in Jammu and Kashmir, for gathering electronic intelligence and for electrooptical reconnaissance.

In a battlefield, Nishant can help Army units to acquire targets to direct heavy artillery shelling and for guiding fighter aircraft to fire rockets and drop precision bombs at enemy positions and in an anti-tank role.

"Pre-induction trials are mandatory to affirm the satisfaction of the end-user, the Army, before these UAVs are inducted and deployed in operational areas," the sources said.

Printed from

Punj Lloyd signs pact with ST Kinetics for defence equipment
5 Jun, 2008, 1313 hrs IST, PTI

MUMBAI: Engineering and construction firm Punj Lloyd today said it has signed an agreement with Singapore Technologies Kinetics (ST Kinetics) for the manufacture of defence equipment.

Under this agreement, ST Kinetics and Punj Lloyd would be pooling their resources in the execution of supply contracts for the Ministry of Defence, Punj Lloyd said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Earlier, Punj Lloyd had been issued a license by the Government of India for manufacture of guns, rockets and missile artillery systems and other related equipment.

Commenting on the pact Punj Lloyd Chairman Atul Punj said, "Punj Lloyd is confident of leveraging its dynamism and adaptability to enter into the defence sector."

"This tie-up augurs well for the high growth Indian Defence sector. The combined capabilities of both the companies can help the Indian Army to scale up its modernisation programmes," he added.

The companies would support trials by the Indian Army through provision of suitable personnel and resources.

ST Kinetics is the land systems and specialty vehicles arm of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd and is one of Asia's leading defence and specialty vehicles companies. The company clocked sales of 1.18 billion Singapore dollars in 2007.

Shares of Punj Lloyd were trading at Rs 283.95 on the BSE, up 2.14 per cent in the afternoon trade.

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