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Saturday, 5 July 2008

From Today's Papers - 05 Jul

National Defence Academy intake swells to 400
July 3rd, 2008 - 12:18 pm ICT by IANS -
By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) There is good news for the officer-depleted Indian armed forces. After facing a drought during its January intake, the premier National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakvasla in Maharashtra has been able to attract 371 cadets for the new course that began last month and hopes to cross the 400 mark.
“For the latest batch, 371 cadets have so far turned up and we are expecting the number to touch 420,” an NDA official said.
The inter-services institution trains cadets for the three wings of the armed forces. They graduate after three years and are further trained at the academies of the army, the navy and the air force before being commissioned as officers.
This January, the number of cadets joining the academy fell drastically, with only 192 turning up against the sanctioned strength of 300 for the batch. This had raised questions about the military failing to attract the right kind of candidates due to more attractive opportunities available in the private sector.
Reacting to this, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had said: “The shortage is a reality. The government will take positive and active action in consultation with the army to lure youngsters to join the army.”
NDA commandant Air Marshal T.S. Randhawa had expressed optimism that the January shortfall would be compensated by the June intake.
“For the courses that begin in January, we generally have been receiving fewer candidates as compared to the courses that commence in June. Currently, we are only short of 50 cadets against our sanctioned strength of 1,800,” Randhawa had said at the passing out parade of NDA’s 114th course on May 31.
The orientation programme for the new joinees has already commenced at NDA.
“The eight-week orientation programme has begun. We are introducing them to physical activities and taking them around NDA to acquaint them with the academy,” the NDA official said.
The defence forces annually need 2,100 officers.
The Indian Army, with a sanctioned strength of 46,615 officers, faces a shortage of 11,238 officers.
The problem has been further aggravated with as many as 3,000 officers seeking early retirement from the army in the last three years, with most of them moving to the corporate sector.

The Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force too face shortages of 1,000 officers each.
Darjeeling police raise commando force
- Black fatigue, sophisticated weapons and fibreglass gear to tackle riot-like situations in district

Siliguri, July 4: Darjeeling police have raised a 120-strong specially trained commando force and have armed it with 9mm pistols and assault rifles of the AK series to tackle riot-like situations in the district.
The force will be primarily posted in Darjeeling and Siliguri.
“The idea is to maintain a stand-alone force and deploy its trained personnel in different areas of the district to handle riot-like situations or any other serious breach of law and order,” Rahul Srivastava, the superintendent of police of Darjeeling, said today.
“Considering some of the past incidents and the vulnerability of the area, it was decided to form the commando force which will work under the command of officials not below the rank of deputy superintendent or inspector,” Srivastava added.
Sources said following instructions from the state government, senior police officers of the district had selected young and vibrant constables to form the force.
“We conducted tests to shortlist them and trained them to tackle different situations,” the district police chief said. “Apart from Darjeeling Sadar and Siliguri, the commandos will be posted in groups of at least 15 in different police stations.”
Although Srivastava refused to speak in detail about arms and ammunition, the sources said the commandos would be dressed in black fatigue and have sophisticated weapons like 9mm pistols and assault rifles of the AK series.
The district police have also spent around Rs 10 lakh to buy fiberglass gear for the force, including helmets and visors, shin guards, chest guards, batons and shields.“Once the cadets of the first group are posted, we plan to raise another group of 70 men selected from the existing district police force. They will be an addition to the central para-military companies,” Srivastava said. Since September last year, Siliguri has seen a series of violent incidents, forcing the administration to call in the army or para-military forces. On September 28, residents of Siliguri clashed with supporters of Indian Idol contestant, Prashant Tamang. The police had to open fire and later the army and the BSF were deployed. This year, on May 2, residents beat up pro-Gorkhaland supporters trying to launch a hunger strike near the Siliguri subdivisional office. After that, came the June 8 attack by Bagdogra residents on Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters sitting on NH31, demanding permission for a meeting in Naxalbari.
Four days later, a riot-like situation developed at Bhanunagar Colony and Ganesh Ghosh Colony on the outskirts of Siliguri when Nepali-speaking people were attacked.
“This new force will be able to curb such violence much faster,” a police official said.
In another development, the government has recruited as permanent home guards all the 421 volunteers, mostly from the hills, who had helped the police during the Gorkhaland agitation in the eighties. “They will be soon posted in police stations across the district,” said the police chief. Till now, the volunteers served in the force as ad-hoc employees.

Telegraph - Print Version

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

Last updated: 8:20 PM BST 03/07/2008

Officer who won an MC in Burma and in 1971 led Indian forces to victory over Pakistan.

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who has died aged 94, played a key role in India's victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war between the two nations.
The partition of 1947 that brought independence to India created an East and West Pakistan separated by 1,000 miles of Indian territory.
In 1970 the East Pakistan general election was won by the Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; but the refusal of the Pakistani President, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to concede defeat led to unrest in the capital, Dhaka.
Mujibur's spokesmen declared the independence of East Pakistan (henceforth to be known as Bangladesh) in March 1971, a move supported by the Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi. The subsequent intervention in East Pakistan of the West Pakistan Army led to 10 million refugees crossing the Indian border, and tensions between Delhi and Islamabad rose to a peak.
On December 3 1971 Pakistan attacked airfields in north-west India and war broke out.
Manekshaw had become Chief of Staff of the Indian Army in 1969. As war loomed, he resisted great political pressure to attack the Pakistani forces prematurely, arguing in characteristically outspoken fashion that it was essential that they hold back until the monsoon was over.
He also urged that possible Chinese involvement must be forestalled by delaying until the mountain passes were blocked by snow.
Some senior politicians wanted to sack Maneksaw and go to war at once, but he warned Indira Gandhi that if they had their way, the country could be humiliated, its troops, artillery and equipment at a standstill, bogged down in the monsoon mud. She rejected his offer to resign and followed his advice.
When war came, Indian troops, well trained and properly supplied, marched on Dhaka while guerrillas loyal to Mujibur harassed the Pakistani troops in the countryside.
Dhaka fell, and on December 16 Lieutenant-General Abdullah Khan Niazi, the commander of Pakistan's Eastern Army, surrendered and was taken prisoner together with more than 90,000 soldiers and civilian personnel. The war established India as the regional superpower and led to the creation of Bangladesh as a separate nation.
Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, the son of Parsi parents, was born on April 3 1914 at Amritsar, Punjab. He was educated at Sherwood College, Nainital, before being accepted by the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun.
In 1934 he was commissioned into the Indian Army and was attached first to the Royal Scots. In the Second World War he served in Burma and won an MC in February 1942.
As a captain in command of "A" Company, 4th Battalion 12th Frontier Force Regiment (4/12 FFR), he was ordered to counter-attack the Pagoda Hill position, the key feature on the left of the Sittang bridgehead, which had been captured by the enemy. The counter-attack was successful despite 30 per cent casualties. Manekshaw was severely wounded shortly after the position was taken.
After recovering from his injuries he attended Staff College, Quetta. He rejoined 4/12 FFR in Burma and was again wounded. In the final phase of the war, he served as a staff officer in Indo-China and helped to rehabilitate Allied PoWs after the Japanese surrender.
In 1947 fighting broke out in Kashmir after tribesmen supported by the Pakistanis made a series of violent incursions into the region. Manekshaw, a colonel in the Military Directorate and responsible for operations throughout India, was said to have devised a masterly strategy for defeating the raiders while lying in his bath.
After commanding an infantry brigade, Manekshaw became Commandant of the School of Infantry and Colonel of 8 Gurkha Rifles. He commanded a division in Jammu and Kashmir before moving to the Defence Services Staff College in 1959 as commandant and then took command of a corps in the north-east.
His astute handling of an insurgency in Nagaland while he was GOC-in-C Eastern Command was recognized by award of a Padma Bhushan – one of India's highest honours – in 1968. He received a Padma Vibhushan in 1972 and, in January 1973, after nearly four decades of military service, was promoted Field Marshal, one of only two Indian soldiers ever to reach that rank.
A great individualist who affected a blimpish manner, Manekshaw was so popular that Indira Gandhi was believed to have asked him whether reports that he was planning to take her place were true.
He is said to have replied: "You have a long nose. So have I. But I don't poke my nose into other people's affairs." After retiring from the Indian Army, he served on the board of several companies, among them the Oberoi group of hotels.
Sam Manekshaw died at Wellington, India, on June 27.
He married, in 1939, Silloo Bode. She predeceased him and he is survived by their two daughters.Story from Telegraph News:

LTTE areas captured, claims Lanka military

B. Muralidhar Reddy
Colombo: The military on Saturday claimed yet another “major breakthrough”in its advance into the LTTE-held territories in the North and announced thetroops have captured “LTTE’s stronghold in Parappakkadantan, 4 km north ofGiant Tank, in Mannar district.”
Since the first week of May, the military has claimed to have made steadyinroads into LTTE-controlled territory in Mannar. LTTE has not denied themilitary’s claims.The Defence Ministry, in a statement, said in the latest offensive, a firingrange used by the LTTE was found in a search operation. “These areas wereunder LTTE clutches for more than two decades and it clearly shows theirinability to face the security forces, who are continuously marching towardsLTTE strongholds in multi-pronged offensive launched to liberate the Wanni,”said the Ministry.
Further, the military claimed at least 33 LTTE cadres were killed in thepast 24 hours. The LTTE has “suffered heavy defeats with soaring casualties”within the Mannar “rice bowl” area with the fall of Andankulama in Mannar tosecurity forces on Friday, it said.
Military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said 11 cadres were killedand three soldiers wounded during the confrontations at Andankulama. He saidtroops have also gained full control over 13 sq km surrounding Andankulma.Pro-LTTE TamilNet said the Army handed over 25 bodies of LTTE cadres, whowere killed “in action at Chriraddikkulam,” in Maanthai East division,Mullaiththeevu district.
The SLA spokesperson maintained the Army has“inflicted decisive blows” to LTTE. The military claimed at least 21 cadresof LTTE were killed in the confrontations. It said that pitched battles werereported in Papamoddai and Neduvarampu general areas lasting for eighthours.

India army chief wary of growing China military

Reuters, New Delhi
India needs to be wary of a rapidly modernising Chinese military as it could affect the country's security in the long run, India's army chief said on Thursday.
The world's two most populous nations are forging new ties amid soaring trade and business links, though serious differences over their Himalayan border, the cause of a 1962 war, fester.
India has also been pursuing closer relations with the United States, something that worries China.
"We need to take note of likely implications of China's military modernisation, improvement of infrastructure in the Tibet Autonomous Region, which could impact our security in the long-term," General Deepak Kapoor said in New Delhi.
Although India and China have signed a treaty to maintain "peace and tranquility" along the disputed frontier and agreed to find a political solution to the row, talks over a 3,500-km disputed frontier have hardly made progress.
Kapoor said growing trade ties augured well for both countries and there was peace along the border.
"Our mutual economic engagements and continued efforts to amicably resolved this boundary issue have ensured peace along the border," he said.
Another report adds: The Indian Army's involvement in the country's internal security is more than normal, army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor said here Thursday.
Notwithstanding its multi-front obligations, the Indian Army is being called in to tackle many issues ranging from law and order to providing aid during natural or man-made disasters.
"Due to external abetment, the Indian Army is involved in internal security functions on a relatively larger scale than is normal," said Kapoor.
Kapoor was delivering a lecture on 'Changing global Security Environment with specific reference to our region and its impact on the Indian Army' at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis here.
"The primary obligation of the army is to defend the borders of the country and internal security is the secondary duty," Kapoor added.
The internal engagements of the Indian Army include training police and paramilitary forces to combat the menace of Maoist insurgency.
Currently, the army is proving to be instrumental in strengthening police and paramilitary forces like Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and reserve police battalions in various states.
"The army has been providing advice and training in counter-Naxal (Maoist) operations and counter-IED (Improvised Explosive Device) operations.
We are rendering assistance in the establishment of counter-terrorism schools in the analysis of violent incidents to help the police and the paramilitary forces to formulate an operational framework," Kapoor said.
The army has trained 150 companies of police and paramilitary forces till June this year.

Australia losing its military advantage: defence expert
By Kathryn Roberts
Posted Thu Jul 3, 2008 12:28pm AEST

A conference in Canberra has been told Australia's military advantage in the Asia Pacific is coming to an end and the country needs to rethink its military structure.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute conference has heard from its director of operations and capability, Dr Andrew Davies, who says countries in Asia are acquiring more high end military equipment as their economies grow.
"Australia has over the last few decades had an economic advantage over the nations of Asia which we have used to build up a military advantage as well," he said.
"But with the economic growth we've been seeing in Asia, that means that countries are simultaneously both richer and internally more stable ... which means that they've turned their attention to buying high end military equipment which they haven't in the past because they've been more concerned with internal stability forces.
"So what that means from Australia's point of view is that the days where we've had a very clear advantage in terms of the equipment we have are coming to an end."
Dr Davies says as a result, defence spending needs to be redirected.
He says if Australia is to maintain its advantage, it needs to focus more effort and expenditure on submarines rather than surface ships.
"The Australian Defence Force we have today looks remarkably like the Australian Defence Force that the Menzies Government put in place back in the 1960s in terms of the number of aircraft, ships and submarines," he said.
"I think we need to think very hard about those relativities and move towards an ADF that's structured to maintain its relative advantage in the region."
Dr Davies says there will be 40 new submarines in the region in the next decade as Asian countries move to acquire more equipment.
"One of the things that Australia has a glaring deficiency in is our ability to conduct anti-submarine warfare," he said.
"So as well as concentrating more on Australian submarines we need to do more to be able to counter other people's submarines."

Military structure
Dr Davies says although Australia's military structure was well suited to deal with Asia in the past, it is not well-equipped to deal with Asia in the future.
He says the structure of the Army needs to change.
"The Army tends to send Special forces - SAS and Commando units - to Coalition operations and I think we need to formally recognise that that's the most valuable thing the Army can contribute to alliance operations," he said.
"But we also need light weight army forces for stabilisation and peace-keeping operations in the South Pacific and local countries.
"So I think the Army could usefully move towards a two level structure."
While there are no impending threats to Australia, Dr Davies says if relations sour Australia will be in a more vulnerable position and reliant on its alliance with the United States.
However he says data show South East Asian nations are scaling back their defence spending as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product.
"Now the conventional wisdom is that, that tells you something about how they see their threat situation and so the picture's actually a pretty comfortable one - the nations of South East Asia are quite comfortable with the status quo," he said.

Soldiers’ right to vote
The postal ballot system has not been effective
by Lt-Gen (retd ) Harwant Singh

The issue of a soldier's right to vote was first taken up in these columns in 1999. It was argued that while Part 111 and various articles therein of the Constitution of India lays down the fundamental rights of a citizen and though certain of these rights are abridged in the case of a soldier, the Constitution did not see any logic in abridging a soldier's right to vote.
After all, adult franchise is the very bedrock on which a democratic structure has to rest its foundation. Of all the citizens, it is the soldier who puts his life on the line to defend our democratic system and finally the Constitution.
While the framers of the Constitution of India gave this right to the soldier, they could not visualise the ingenuity and capacity for mischief of the bureaucracy to subvert so fundamental a right of the soldier.
It introduced the "postal ballot system," a system which ensured that a vote may be cast but would not get counted.
The time between the announcement of elections and the date the votes are to be cast being short, postal ballot would not complete the journey from the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) to the soldier's Record Office, then to his unit, and finally back to the ERO.
This is so because the greater part of the army is deployed in remote areas with indifferent postal services; even military postal service channels could not shorten the travel period of the postal ballot.
The Representation of the People Acts, 1950 and 1951, have the provisions for making rules enabling certain category of persons to vote by postal ballot.
Interestingly, this provision was made essentially for persons subjected to preventive detention under the law! Applying the same provision to a soldier is somewhat degrading.
What added to this problem was the fact that there is nothing in the Representation of People Acts 1950 and 1951, which enjoins on the polling staff for timely and accurate completion and prompt dispatch of postal ballot papers.
Since there is no accountability built into the Act for the polling staff, it's approach to timely dispatch of postal ballot papers is lackadaisical, to say the least and a dereliction of duty in more specific terms.
When these drawbacks were pointed ut to the Election Commission and the political class, the idea of proxy voting was thrown up without realising the oddity of reducing adult franchise to a voting system of a limited company.
Even so there was no consensus between the political parties and the issue dragged on endlessly. A committee of secretaries was asked to resolve the issue, which killed it by merely sitting on it.
Moreover, proxy voting had some other complications such as authentication of proxy by a magistrate or an oath commissioner and practical difficulties in such a process for every assembly and general election.
It was necessary to take up this cause because the fundamental right of soldiers, as citizens of the Republic of India, to exercise their vote was being denied to them through a mischievous bureaucratic fiat and political dithering, disinterest and indecisiveness.
The inbuilt drawback of postal ballot lay in another area as well. While a soldier was given the option to exercise his vote through postal ballot, the sequence and procedure ensured that only a very small percentage of votes arrived in time for the same to be valid.
It was pointed out that in the assembly elections of 1996 only 2.7 lakh ballot papers were received by the record offices at various regimental centres and this figure dropped to 2.6 in the case of the 1998 assembly elections, against 7.4 lakh registered service voters.
Besides, there have been innumerable deficiencies and inaccuracies in these ballot papers such as wrong names, papers of Air Force personnel sent to the Army etc. Consequently, the majority of these postal ballots were rendered invalid.
Our hunch was that only a miniscule of the over 2.6 lakh votes cast by armed forces personnel through the postal ballot arrangement, actually came to be counted due to the inherent flaws in the system.
The Election Commission could not furnish information on the actual votes cast through postal ballot that came to be counted, or were valid.
We argued that as per the Constitution, a person whose name appears in the electoral rolls cannot be prevented or denied the opportunity from casting his vote at the designated polling booth.
When the proposal to allow soldiers to vote at the place of their posting was first mooted, the Election Commission came up with the argument that the Army is deployed in large numbers in J and K and the NE and, as such, could influence the formation of a government there and be given this right only when its number is substantially reduced in these areas. We pointed out that such an argument had no validity, giving the example of our PM, who represents Assam!
Finally and happily, the Election Commission saw the logic in the argument and the disservice it was doing to the democratic cause by denying voting rights to such a large number of soldiers.
Consequently, the Election Commission vide its letter dated October 9, 2001, pointed out that armed forces personnel have the option of getting themselves registered on the electoral rolls at the place of their posting and thereby can exercise their franchise at that place.
Therefore, to give a soldier his fundamental right to vote, it is the bounden duty of the unit, station, sub area, area commanders, air force and naval stations commanders, to ensure that troops are enrolled as voters at the place of their posting, with the ERO by submitting Form-6, appended to the Registration of Electors Rules 1960.
Else through liaison with the local ERO, house-to-house enumeration should be organised. This procedure can be easily adopted even where troops are deployed in remote areas. Families of soldiers too should be enrolled on the electoral roles.

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