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Thursday, 18 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 19 Sep

Text of Field Marshal KM Cariappa Memorial Lecture, 2008 by FM

12:54 IST
Following is the text of the Field Marshal KM Cariappa Memorial Lecture, 2008 by Finance Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram delivered here yesterday:

“Thirteen years ago, delivering the first Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa Memorial Lecture, Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw described the invitation to him as an honour – an honour that, according to him, was greater because a soldier had been invited. How should I describe the invitation to me? I am not a soldier, and my only brush with uniform was when I was in the Boy Scouts for a few years. The invitation to me, therefore, is indeed an honour, in fact a great privilege, but I think it is also a stern test.

I accepted the invitation because of my high regard for our armed forces and, especially, for the memory of Field Marshal Cariappa. It was not easy to take over as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Army of independent India and transform what was a colonial force into a national Army. The Indian Army was no longer an instrument “to hold India in subjugation.” It deserved to be transformed into a national institution that the people could be proud of both in times of war and peace. Field Marshal Cariappa’s singular contribution was bringing about this remarkable transformation. He did so while accepting the authority of a civilian government in accordance with the principles of a parliamentary democracy.

Field Marshal Manekshaw reminded us of Field Marshal Cariappa’s crucial contribution in the first lecture in this series. He said, “He taught the Indian Army to be completely apolitical. Ours is one country, where soldiers have kept out of politics. I think that was the biggest achievement of Field Marshal Cariappa, the greatest service to this country.” I entirely agree, and salute the memory of Field Marshal Cariappa.

I compliment the Indian Army for instituting this Lecture series and arranging for a lecture to be delivered coinciding with the celebration of Infantry Day, and I thank General Deepak Kapoor for inviting me to deliver the thirteenth Memorial Lecture.

It is trite to say that change is the only constant. Change may be a constant but change, in my view, represents gradualism; a degree of imperceptibility, nay, even invisibility; a nuanced approach; and a reluctance to harm any interests, even if they are vested interests. Let’s look beyond the word ‘change’. Let’s look at another word. One that comes to mind is ‘transformation’. It implies more than change. Transformation means a change in the paradigm, in the orbit and in the vocabulary. Transformation may cause tremors in the foundations and may shake the structures. And, most certainly, transformation carries greater risks, but it also brings greater rewards.

Since 1947 – and especially since 1950 when we adopted the Constitution – India has witnessed change in every decade. That change was marked by gradualism, and outcomes were modest. On the economic front, the progress was slow, painfully slow. In the first three decades, i.e. the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the growth in GDP averaged 3.5 per cent per year. Per capita income increased at an average rate of 1.3 per cent. More people continued to remain very poor: while the proportion below the poverty line declined from 54.9 per cent in 1973-74 to 44.5 per cent in 1983-84, given the growing population, the absolute number of poor rose from 321 million in 1973-74 to 323 million in 1983-84.

That gradualism was seen in other parts of the economy as well. In 1950 we produced 1.0 million tonnes of steel; in 1980 this had increased to barely 6.8 million tonnes. In 1950 we produced 2.7 million tonnes of cement; in 1980 the production had increased to a modest 18.6 million tonnes. In 1950 we generated 5.1 billion units of electricity; in 1980, it was just 110.8 billion units. We should however remember that during this period the population had increased from 361 million in 1951 to 683 million in 1981. Consequently, the per capita consumption of steel or cement or electricity was very modest.

I could go on and on. I could list the number of children in school and the number of children out of school in 1950 and 1980. I could measure the length of roads. I could count the number of cars and buses on those roads.

A different way to look at the issue would be to take note of the indicators of human development. What was the infant mortality rate? It was 146 per thousand live births in 1960 and improved to just 113 in 1980. The maternal mortality rate did not fare much better: in 1955 it was 13.2 and, in 1980, it improved to 8.1. What was the rate of literacy? Between 1950 and 1980, it improved from 18.3 per cent to 43.6 per cent. So, change indeed did take place but only moderately, and the dominant feature was gradualism.

The gradualism of the first three decades was both a blessing and a curse. It allowed us time to build our institutions – the administrative system, the judiciary, the electoral process and its regulation, the banks, the institutes of higher learning, the free press and so on, and make them truly Indian. However, the gradualism also left a very large proportion of the population destitute, despondent and rebellious. How long should a village wait for electricity or a connecting road? How long should a family wait to be able to build a roof over its head? How long should a student wait to be able to go to college?

In a piece that I wrote few years ago, I described a village in my constituency. Please allow me to quote from that article

“I visited one such village recently to attend a marriage. The village was barely two kilometres away from a black-topped district road, but economic reforms and its benefits seem to have stopped at the point where the branch road began. It was a road which the revenue records would describe as a ‘village road’, a road ‘formed’ many years ago, and waiting to be black-topped. Meanwhile, the monsoons have taken their toll, the road is no longer level, there are many ups and downs and it is full of potholes. Some day, a department will do ‘patchwork’, but until then the villagers have to do with this road. The village has a population of about 300 families. The landowners hold, together, about 600 acres. A sizeable number are landless labourers. There is a village tank. According to the villagers, there is enough water in the tank only once in two years to raise paddy. In other years, the paddy crop is rain-fed and the harvest is poor. When even that is not possible, they raise some coarse grains.

Time has stood still in that village for many years. Young men have left the village to find jobs in towns and cities, some even in the Middle East. Young girls have grown into women, aged beyond their years, borne children and taken the places of their mothers and grandmothers.

Yes, there are some signs of the State. The government has given the village an elementary school, a community hall, a community TV and an overhead tank. All houses have electricity. A few landowners own television sets. What has not changed is their income levels. A family that is entirely dependent on agriculture and farm-based activities has remained poor. Life is hard work and drudgery, and at the end of the year there is some paddy, more debt and little else. The younger generation has no incentive or desire to continue to do farming, and is looking for ways to escape the prison walls of the village.”

There are thousands of such villages in India. And as I speak to you

• 67,000 villages do not have electricity;

• 35 per cent of habitations do not have an all-weather road connecting the habitation to the nearest highway or market;

• 363,664 habitations do not have an assured source of safe drinking water

These numbers are unacceptable. In my view, the country paid – and continues to pay – a high price for the gradualist approach that was embedded in the model of socio-economic development adopted in the first three decades after Independence, some elements of which survive even to this day. It was the crisis of 1991 that woke us from our slumber. Not that there were no voices before 1991 that had pleaded for an alternative paradigm of development. Not that there were no efforts made before 1991 to discard some of the long-held beliefs about what is sound economic policy in a developing country. Despite these voices and efforts, the country was held back by fear – the fear of transformation. What also held the country back was the silent pact among a small section of the population that had secured for itself a privileged place and was unwilling to let others share that space. They were bound by the common purpose of extracting rents from the system. Rents were extracted in building roads, constructing houses, admitting students to educational institutions, distributing subsidies and, above all, in controlling the production of goods and services. Licenses, controls and permits were justified as necessary to protect the “interests of the people”. The people were too poor and illiterate to realise that these licenses, permits and controls were the very instruments that ensured that they remained poor and exploited.

The low annual rate of growth in the GDP, the proportion of people below the poverty line, the number of unemployed, and the proportion of people that was denied basic services like drinking water, sanitation, primary education and health care, taken together, constitute a stinging rebuke to the so-called “pro-poor policies” that were the product of our preference for a particular pattern of development and gradualism.

The year 1991 marked a decisive break with the past. It was the first time there was an attempt at transformation. There is no need to recount all the changes that were brought about in the policies, the laws, and the administration. The initial reforms laid emphasis on economic liberalisation. The laws that sanctioned licenses, permits and controls were either repealed or relaxed in order to unleash the productive forces in the country. The most notable examples of liberalisation were the radical changes brought about in trade policy, industrial licensing policy and banking regulation policy. Likewise, markets were liberalised or invented. We virtually reinvented the securities market and created new markets in road transport, shipping services, aviation, exploration and production of oil and natural gas, mobile telephony, visual communication and entertainment, and a number of other goods and services. The dominant theme was liberalisation; yet monopolies remained, and some of them, regrettably, still survive.

Economic liberalisation was followed by globalization. With increasing levels of trade and investment, it was but natural that we addressed the issue of the inevitable integration of the Indian economy with the world’s economy. GATT and its successor, the WTO, multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, bilateral investment protection agreements and similar obligations brought the Indian economy closer to the world’s economy. Our increased dependence on imports of crude oil, commodities and sometimes food also opened our minds to the impact of global economic developments. Above all, our need of foreign capital to help generate and sustain a high growth rate bound our economy to the fortunes of the world’s economy.

Privatisation was placed on the reform agenda only after 1999. In 1996, the word ‘disinvestment’ was included in the programme of the Government of the day, but this was in the context of sick and unviable units in the public sector. However, despite some successful cases of privatisation, the case for privatisation was never made with any degree of conviction; nor did the argument in favour of privatisation find resonance among the people. All that the people were willing to accept was that there should be intense competition between the public sector and the private sector in every sphere of economic activity. In areas where the public sector and the private sector could work together in a partnership, it was welcomed. So, while privatisation took a back seat, intense competition drove growth in several sectors including banking, insurance, telecommunications, aviation, ports, steel, refinery etc.

Despite large scale liberalisation, a grudging acceptance of globalisation and extreme caution on privatisation, our entire approach was, and still is, marked by gradualism. Some justify gradualism by pointing to the high growth witnessed in recent years. The argument goes like this: if we can achieve and sustain a growth rate of over 8 per cent for a period of five years, and are likely to go forward on the same plane for the next five to ten years, why should we press the accelerator or force the pace of change?

The question I would like to throw back is: why not? The bias in favour of gradualism is deep-seated and is holding back progress in several key sectors. Obvious examples are the financial sector, the mining and minerals sector, and even sectors as mundane as sugar and fertilisers. Some not so obvious examples are atomic energy and defence production. Are we not missing the opportunity of emerging as a global leader in select sectors because of our gradualist approach? Are not millions of people trapped in abject poverty because of our reluctance to create new markets in land and labour?

The high growth rate witnessed in recent years – the average for the last four years has been 8.9 per cent – should not induce us to believe that this growth rate is “sufficient”. Whether the growth rate is sufficient or not is a question that can be answered only by reference to outcomes. Despite eighteen years on the reforms path, the benefits of higher growth have not trickled down to those at the bottom of the pyramid. The trickle down theory itself has come under severe attack. The gini coefficient of household consumption in 2004-05 was 0.30 for rural areas and 0.37 for urban areas. A household survey in that year indicated that the top 20 per cent of the population accounted for between 40 to 45 per cent of total consumption while the share of the bottom 20 per cent was between 7 to 9 per cent. The poor may now have a little more income than before; many may have acquired some rudimentary assets; and the poor may not have become poorer, but there is abundant evidence that several millions lead a sub-human existence marked by low and uncertain income, malnutrition, disease, poor quality of water and sanitation, and virtually no access to good education and medical care. If the human development indicators of the bottom 20 per cent of the Indian population are separately calculated, it will present a sad picture of destitution and neglect.

I shall end this section with the question, how does emerging India propose to face the challenge of development and security for those at the bottom of the pyramid?

The issue of economic transformation to sustain high growth, and aim for a higher growth rate, is intricately related to India’s place in the geo-politics of the region. Within the sub-continent, India is in a troubled neighbourhood. The security of India consists of many elements: food security, energy security, financial stability, border security and cross-border security. Each one of these elements is impacted by events in the neighbourhood. The ethnic strife in Sri Lanka has pushed thousands of refugees across the Palk Straits into India. The near failure of the State in Bangladesh triggered massive migration to India – which still continues in a significant degree – altering the demographic profile of many districts in West Bengal and Assam, and putting an enormous strain on India’s financial, food and physical resources. Myanmar, while overtly friendly, continues to give shelter to insurgent groups that threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. Pakistan is implacably opposed to India: while Kashmir appears to be the central issue of contention, Pakistan has taken its hostility beyond Kashmir and supports terrorist activities and communal conflagrations in other parts of India. Nepal remains an enigma: it is difficult to predict at this stage the future of India-Nepal relations under a Maoist-led coalition Government in Nepal, but our desire is to have a special and strategic relationship with that country.

Across the sub-continent, we face the unarticulated challenge from an equal – and perhaps stronger – rival, namely, China. China’s professed goal is the peaceful rising of that country. China has resolved all its boundary disputes with its neighbours, save with India. From time to time, China takes unpredictable positions that raise a number of questions about its attitude towards the rise of India. The most recent example is the negative stance adopted by China in the meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Yet, trade between India and China is growing at a blistering pace. There is expectation of greater investments from one country into the other. There are also isolated, nevertheless important, instances of cooperation and coordinated action between India and China in several fora. However, the nagging doubt is whether China will regard India as an equal or as an upstart and what will China’s attitude to India be if India’s economic strength begins to equal that of China.

But, today, we are significantly behind China in many aspects of the economy. At the end of 2007-08, the size of the Indian economy stood at US$1.2 trillion. In comparison, the size of the Chinese economy was US$3.3 trillion. Despite our splendid growth rate, the distance between India and China is increasing, not decreasing. The growing gap is reflected in a number of sub-sectors. For example, in the last ten years, while we have increased electricity generation by 1.5 times, China has increased it three-fold. In 2007-08, India generated about 710 billion KWH of electricity, while China generated 3,540 billion KWH of electricity. In the case of steel, we have doubled domestic capacity since 1997; yet we produce only about one-ninth of the steel that China produces. Last year, we produced 2.3 million automobiles, China produced 10 million. Both India and China have nearly the same amount of arable land. On our land, we produced 96.4 million tonnes of rice in what was our best year while China produced 130 million tonnes of rice.

It is faster economic growth that will secure a place for a country in, and command the respect of, the region and the world. This is true for India as well as for China. Our policy on external security is built on the principles of non-interference and non-aggression, resolution of disputes through peaceful means, and maintaining a strong force of deterrence. And because of these enduring principles our defence expenditure has been modest. I may recall that when Shri R.K. Shanmugam Chetty presented the first Budget of independent India on November 26, 1947 for the remainder of that year, he estimated the total expenditure at Rs.197.39 crore of which Rs.92.74 crore – nearly 47 per cent – was on account of defence expenditure! Given the competing demands on our public finances, such proportionately large expenditure on defence is infeasible. In 2008-09, our outlay for defence is Rs.105,600 crore and as a proportion of total expenditure it represents about 14 per cent. We spend about 2.5 per cent of our national income on defence. While it is difficult to put down a precise figure for China’s military spending, analysts estimate that it is about 3 per cent of China’s GDP. Let us suppose that the two countries spend about 2.5 per cent of their national income on defence. This is where the size of the economy will make a material difference. Given the much larger size of the Chinese economy, in dollar terms, China will spend US$50 billion more each year than India. This is a large sum of money, equivalent roughly to 1,700 F16 fighters each year! Thanks to China’s much larger economic resources, it would be able to expand its defence forces and modernise its military without excessively burdening or denying resources to the rest of the economy. We cannot say the same thing about India, at least not yet. Every segment of the Indian economy, including defence, needs more resources. Those resources will be available only if the Indian economy is able to sustain a growth rate of 9 to 10 per cent over the medium term. That, in short, is the foremost challenge that is faced by emerging India.

Apart from the challenges to India’s security that emanate from across the border, there are home-grown challenges too. The most formidable challenge is that from the naxalites. Their area of influence has expanded, their capacity to strike has increased, and their determination to prevail emboldened by the lack of development in, and the loss of control of the State Governments over, the affected areas.

There is also the challenge of alienation of the Muslim community and, more recently, of the Christian community. The divide between Muslims and Hindus is taking new and dangerous forms – ghettoisation, social boycott, discrimination in employment and the blurring of lines between State and religion (as was seen in Gujarat). Out of the hopelessness and despair of the Muslim community – and if not addressed firmly, the Christian tribal communities too – will rise new waves of terror. There is no other explanation for the phenomenon of graduates and engineers and doctors – born, educated and living in India – taking to the path of violence.

Emerging India, in my view, faces as many and as severe security challenges as it does in the case of economic challenges.

Emerging India is viewed as a strong global player now and will be so viewed, even more, in the future. India attracts huge foreign investments, companies wishing to move to or set up businesses in India, foreign financial institutions, manufacturing hubs to cater to world markets and, increasingly, knowledge workers, foreigners as well as Indians who wish to return to India. Outward investments and capital flows are also on the rise. For example, in 2007-08, gross FDI into India was US$34.9 billion while gross FDI out of India was US$ 19.4 billion. The two way movement of capital ties India to the rest of the world’s economy. This means a greater degree of globalisation.

The impact of globalisation is not restricted to the economy; it has its effects on the culture, environment, politics and security of the country. The explosion of information and the increased capacity to access information have had a decisive impact on the thinking and the aspirations of the people of India. For example, people now ask, “why does our village not have clean drinking water or electricity if there are remarkable technological innovations in water purification and renewable sources of energy?” People ask, “why are we excluded from the financial system; why cannot we be given loans?” No democratic country can afford to ignore these voices.

So, where do we go from here? More importantly, do we have a model of growth that would usher in a transformation? The outlines of that model are present, but we need to work on the model to make it truly complete. The outlines are visible in our commitment to pursue economic policies that will ensure high growth – our aspiration is to grow at over 9 per cent and reach a growth rate of 10 per cent by 2011-12. They are visible in our adherence to fiscal and monetary prudence and mandating such prudence through the adoption of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. They are visible in our promise of not only faster growth but “more inclusive” growth; it is the element of inclusiveness that distinguishes our current model from earlier models of a liberalised economy. They are visible in Government’s willingness to share responsibility with the private sector, non-profit organisations and representatives of civil society: the co-option of representatives of civil society in the enforcement of the Right to Information Act, the use of NGOs to audit the NREGA, and the dominant role given to the private sector in the National Skill Development Corporation are among the many examples of an improved model of development.

But we need to do more, especially in the matter of delivery and implementation. Many of our programmes fail because they fail to deliver on time and quality. Even as government programmes fail to deliver, there are examples of private sector and civil society organisations delivering outstanding results. A software company delivers ambulance services in urban and rural areas of a State. A drug manufacturer is delivering, with community support, stand-alone drinking water systems in villages. A private trust is constructing a network of schools in villages that will deliver quality primary education. A fertiliser company is delivering enhanced storage capacity to villages by renovating water bodies at the rate of one water body every two or three days. Each one of them has scrupulously avoided the government model of delivering goods and services and invented its own model.

By way of contrast, let me take the example of how government delivers on its promise of building an all-weather road to connect every village. How do we deliver on this objective? We cling to the traditional model: preparing an estimate for each road, calculating IRR and ERR, inviting bids from different classes of contractors, awarding the work to the lowest bidder, and chasing the contractor to complete the work within the time and cost estimates. At the end of the day, usually, there is a much-delayed road of poor quality that is, more often than not, washed away during the next monsoon. We believe, wrongly, that this is a cost-effective and transparent model. I would simply throw this model into the dustbin. Instead, I would list all the villages in a district that need to be connected by an all-weather road; put all the roads in one package; invite bids from world-class contractors to build all the proposed roads in that district; accept the bid at a price that will deliver quality; and load the contract with severe penalties if the roads are not completed according to the agreed quality and time schedule. We may be surprised to discover that the alternative model delivers better results at a lower overall cost. The current model of building roads promises change to the people living in the villages without roads, but seldom delivers on the promise. The alternative model is transformational and more likely to deliver the roads. I think we should revisit our current models and replace them by models of development that will deliver on the promises of roads, drinking water, sanitation and electricity.

One of the major differences between a developed country and a developing country is the relatively small risk of destitution and deprivation faced by a citizen in a developed country. In developing countries, like India, the risk is still unacceptably high. Our model of development must ensure that this and similar risks are minimized to the extent possible. It is only when there is a floor below the poor – and that floor provides them security – can the poor aspire to rise to greater heights. India must therefore find a transformational model of development that ensures food, water, basic health care, education, energy and clean environment to the poor.

Emerging India cannot walk on one leg. We cannot have both high growth and a high proportion of poor. We cannot have scholars in research institutions as well as children out of school. We cannot have record output of food grains on the one hand and malnutrition on the other. We cannot have laws to promote gender equality and, at the same time, rampant female foeticide.

Emerging India must accept the fact that India is a plural society and its strength lies in its diversity. That strength cannot be allowed to be converted into a weakness through divisive politics.

Emerging India must come to terms with a model of development that accords primacy to inclusiveness and places emphasis on equity, equality and affirmative action.

Inclusiveness is not just the current flavour of political correctness. While there are highly desirable social and economic objectives of greater inclusion, there is a mundane, but critical, reason for integrating the entire population of the country into the productive system. The plain truth is that we cannot grow at a sustained high rate without greater inclusion. Our labour markets are already facing severe skill shortages in many areas. The poor state of public education, health, sanitation and transport, and the inadequate penetration and reach of the financial sector, are increasing the cost of doing business in India. Unless we are able to ease these supply-side constraints and bring an increasingly larger proportion of the population into the mainstream of economic activity, we will not have the resources to grow at a faster pace.

I had earlier referred to the home-grown challenges to India’s security. At the risk of being accused of advocating economic reductionism, I do believe that, to a large extent, the common factor across the discontented groups is the frustration with the gradualist model of economic development.

Emerging India will have the advantage of a high savings rate and a high investment to GDP ratio. It will enjoy growth led by investment and, within investment, by fixed investment. Emerging India will have stronger financial institutions that will deliver more credit and other financial services to more people and, above all, emerging India will be powered by successive generations of young men and women with high potential and higher ambitions.

Emerging India must learn to use its resources, human, financial and physical, more effectively and efficiently, and learn from China and others the value of single-minded purpose and determination. When India feels confident to host the Olympics, it should do so on a size and scale grander than the Beijing Olympics, but without any attempt to sanitize the television images. That will happen only if we acquire a sense of purpose and enforce a strong degree of accountability. And it will happen only if we adopt a model of development that is not wedded to gradualism; that rejects the idea of a slow pace of change; and promises to deliver transformational change. Most people today agree that this should be done, but ask whether this is the time to do it. My answer is, this is the time and we should act now.”

China ready for border talks

Beijing, September 18
After a year-long hiatus, India and China today held a fresh round of boundary talks with Beijing saying the two countries must maintain peace and tranquility along the border to help in a speedy resolution of the protracted problem.

“Both should maintain peace and tranquility in the border area before the boundary issue is resolved,” Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping said during a meeting with India’s national security adviser M.K. Narayanan here at the ornate Great Hall of the people.

Narayanan, who is heading the Indian delegation at the talks, said New Delhi also hoped to realise the consensus by the leaders of the two countries to settle the vexed boundary issue at an early date.

The new round of boundary talks is being held amid some tension in bilateral ties in the walk of attempts by China to block a consensus on the India-specific waiver at the NSG meet in Vienna earlier this month.

Beijing’s stand at the NSG came as a rude shock to New Delhi, which conveyed its unhappiness to Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi during his visit to New Delhi last week. China maintains it played a positive role at the crucial NSG meet.

Xi hoped the framework for the resolution of the boundary issue will be “fair and reasonable” and worked out through equal consultation and friendly dialogue and accepted by both the countries.

Xi said the achievement made during the boundary meeting would benefit both sides.

“The two sides should view the bilateral ties with strategic and long-term perspective, and expand the common ground and properly handle the disputes,” the Chinese vice-president told Narayanan, who is here to attend the 12th round of India-China boundary talks. — PTI

Army trainers suspended from role
By Sophie Hutchinson
BBC News

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Secret filming at Catterick Garrison

Five training instructors based at Britain's biggest Army base have been suspended, a military source has said.

It comes as the BBC prepares to screen a report on an undercover investigation into bullying of recruits at the Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire.

A reporter who spent six months as an infantry recruit at the base uncovered evidence of physical abuse.

The Ministry of Defence said bullying was "fundamentally at odds with the Army's core values".

The incidents came despite promised changes after four recruits died after bullying at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey.

A military source was reported as saying three instructors were suspended before the authorities were made aware of the BBC programme.

But another two were suspended after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) received further evidence from the BBC, the source said.

The MoD could not confirm details of the suspensions.

'Punched me'

BBC reporter Russell Sharp secretly filmed life at the infantry training centre on his mobile phone and recorded his thoughts.

He discovered five instructors, all corporals, were involved in bullying and physically abusing young recruits.

One recruit said of an instructor: "Yeah he beat me up... Kicked me around. Punched me."

Despite examples of good practice, two recruits claimed they were forced to the ground, one with a rifle loaded and ready to fire.

One corporal urinated on a recruit's boot, and more than one young soldier said he was punched in the face by his instructor.

Another recruit said his hand was so badly injured in a beating he could not salute properly.

In a statement the MoD said it had already been in the process of investigating several of the cases brought to them by the BBC documentary team.

"...where allegations were new, we immediately launched further investigations," it said.

"We are, however, unable to comment on the details of specific cases so that we do not prejudice ongoing legal processes."

It said: "Bullying is absolutely unacceptable and fundamentally at odds with the Army's core values."

It added: "All soldiers are made aware that if they are a victim of bullying then they can complain either through their chain of command or to the independent Service Complaints Commissioner.

"We keep the standards of training across all Army facilities under constant review to ensure that the core values are being observed, and our training establishments are also the subject of continuous scrutiny by external, independent authorities."

Independent inquiry

Other allegations of bullying at Catterick Garrison have emerged in the past.

In 2003, the families of soldiers who died in non-combat incidents at the site called for a public inquiry amid allegations of bullying and harassment of young recruits.

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Joke comes close to uncovering truth about reporter

In 2006, a new course for instructors was introduced after footage of recruits apparently being humiliated surfaced. But no criminal charges were brought over the incident and Army chiefs stressed an inquiry had not found any evidence of abuse.

The Catterick incidents in the BBC programme were of a different nature to those highlighted by the investigations into Deepcut Barracks in Surrey where four recruits died between 1995 and 2002.

A review found some soldiers at Deepcut during the period were being beaten and sexually abused by their instructors.

As a result, the Army introduced a new two-week training course aimed at all instructors.

The government refused to order a public inquiry into Deepcut despite repeated calls for one from the families of the four recruits who died. Instead a review was held which investigated the way recruits are treated and trained.

Army guidelines say the use of physical strength or abuse of authority in order to intimidate is unacceptable.

The Undercover Soldier will be shown on BBC One (except Northern Ireland) on Thursday 18 September at 2100 BST.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Video Report

DRDO offers anti-explosive 'robots' to Centre
Press Trust Of India / New Delhi September 18, 2008, 13:13 IST

With terrorists striking Delhi and some major cities, the country's premier R&D institution, DRDO, is hard selling three of its anti-explosive devices to the Home Ministry to tackle the threat.

"We are in discussions with the Home Ministry to sell our three devices — a remotely operated bomb disposal vehicle (ROV), 'Sujav' Electronic Support Measure and 'Safari' Electronic Counter Measure — to agencies dealing with explosive-related cases," a top DRDO scientist said here today.

Developed by Pune-based Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) of the DRDO, the ROV could be used for disposing off bombs without the personnel coming in contact with explosive material.

Since the time army began using the devices in insurgency-affected Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and North Eastern States three years ago, they have been of great attraction both among the personnel and the public, who get to watch the machine in action on several occasions.

ROV robot could be used by the defence and paramilitary forces for mine detection and nuclear-biological-chemical (NBC) threat surveys too and it does the job without exposing the men to threats from anti-personnel mines or NBC weapons, DRDO scientists said.

A totally indigenous product, the robot has been developed by a team of 10 engineers about five years ago and it promises to drastically cut down loss of life of personnel in the urban warfare setting.

Armed forces to develop network-centric warfare
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, September 18
Information technology (IT) companies in the private sector would soon be developing next generation networks for the Indian defence services as the army, navy and air force develop a common platform for network-centric warfare.

The decision taken by the top brass of the Indian defence services follows the footsteps of the US defence forces which are gearing up for technology-driven conflicts.

The private-sector IT companies would be responsible for developing an IT backbone which would allow the army, navy and air force to work in close co-ordination.

The IT backbone, that is proposed to be developed, would allow all ships, submarines, aircraft and shore operations centres of the army, navy and air force to be linked via a satellite backbone.

According to sources, between Rs 6,000 and Rs 8,000 crore would be spent in upgrading the defence services for network-centric warfare.

Sources say, the defence services are in the process of setting up integrated command and control systems that would help seamless co-ordination of the three defence services.

At a session organised recently by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), defence officials said they would be looking at setting up data warehousing, next generation networks, network security, ERP and encryption technology, in co-operation with industry.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who is said to be actively involved in developing a network-centric force, would be the chief guest at an interface between industry and the navy next month, say the sources.

Chief of material at the integrated headquarters (Navy), Vice-Admiral B.S. Randhawa, said about 50 per cent of the navy's total budget for information technology was being used for creation of infrastructure and hardware.

Israeli Army Chief’s secret Kashmir Yatra

Sultan M Hali

Israel’s Army chief, Major General Avi Mizrahi secretly visited Kashmir last week. Indian authorities remained tight-lipped about the visit, neither confirming nor denying, however, the lid was blown by Iranian News Agency, IRNA. Earlier, Major General Avi Mizrahi, had arrived in New Delhi on September 9, on a three-day visit, where he met his counterpart Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor and also minister of state for defence production, Rao Inderjit Singh, chiefs of India’s navy and air force and discussed joint military training and exercises for the two armed forces.

Israel has offered to train Indian troops in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations. General Mizrahi’s visit to Kashmir comes in the backdrop of a massive anti-India agitation in Indian-Occupied Kashmir. At least 50 persons have been killed in the uprising that began two months back with the tensions still high. India and Israel have shared defense co-operation since diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Tel Aviv were established in 1992. The ties have become stronger in recent times with India emerging as the largest purchaser of Israeli arms since the beginning of the 21st century. India has purchased the Phalcons Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems from Israel that would be fitted onto the Indian Air Force’s three IL-76 heavy-lift transport aircraft. It has also bought the Green Pine radars that warn of incoming enemy ballistic missiles. The Indian armed forces also use Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance. The Indian Army uses Israeli night-vision equipment, particularly in Kashmir. Indian troops in occupied Kashmir have been armed with Israeli made Travor assault rifles to crush the Kashmiris’ righteous struggle. The TAR-21 Travor rifle costing around $6500 is one of the most modern assault rifles available in the world. According to Kashmir Media Service, the rifles are part of India’s strategy to use them during siege and search operation in civilian areas in the disputed territory.

It may be recalled that last year in October, a delegation of senior Israeli army officers secretly visited the violence hit Kashmir. Israeli army officers, during their visit to Kashmir, undertook real time testing of the sophisticated equipment sold by Israel to the Indian army. The wide array of Israeli-made surveillance devices, ranging from unattended ground sensors and Hand-Held Thermal Imagers (HHTI) to Long-Range Reconnaissance and Observation Systems and the Battle Field Surveillance Radars and the Surveillance Grid have been deployed by the Indian army along the LoC to keep a check on the infiltration of militants from the Pakistani side of Kashmir. The Indian Army has installed new and sophisticated surveillance equipment in the border district of Kupwara, Kashmir, to keep a check on the movement of “infiltrators”. The system, named Surveillance Grid, was imported from Israel. The equipment has been installed at selected points prone to infiltration. The Surveillance Grid is the first monitoring system of its kind in South Asia. The surveillance grid makes combined use of high-power cameras, thermal sensing cameras and long range observation system (Loros) to monitor all types of movements at and across the border with Pakistan. The Israeli army delegation reviewed the functioning and effectiveness of the equipment in Kashmir. The Israeli army delegation also shared with Indian army officers and men, their experiences of tackling infiltration and militancy in Palestinians areas. The Israeli army has been training Indian army personnel to fight militancy in Kashmir. After real time testing, the Israeli officers assessed the role of the gadgets and checked their effectiveness. This was the second trip for Israeli army officers, to the strife-torn state within four months. Earlier, in the month of June, 2007 an Israeli army delegation led by its Deputy Chief of General Staff, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky visited Jammu. During their stay in Jammu, the Israeli army commanders visited the border areas to check the functional compatibilities of a large amount of military equipment, procured from Israel and installed close to the LoC. The Indo-Israeli defence ties are increasing and there are reports that it was on the advice of Israeli army commanders that India fenced with barbed wire the 720-km-long LoC with Pakistan to check the infiltration of militants from across the border. India and Israel have a lot in common. The partition of India and its freedom from colonial rule set precedence for nations such as Israel, which demanded a separate homeland because of the irreconcilable differences between the Arabs and the Jews. The British left Israel in May 1948, handing the question of division over to the UN. Un-enforced UN Resolutions to map out boundaries between Israel and Palestine has led to several Arab-Israeli wars and the conflict still continues. A major difference between the two colonial endeavours, however, is that in the first case, no Palestinian state has yet emerged even after 60 years, despite the stipulations of international law. In February 1947 Mountbatten was sent out as Viceroy to India. He oversaw the process of partition of the Indian Sub-continent; meddling in the process in such a way that Jammu and Kashmir would inevitably go to India regardless of the sentiments of the indigenous population by allocating the Gurdaspur district of the Punjab to India. Had Gurdaspur gone to Pakistan, there would have been no land-route connecting India to Kashmir.

Just as in Palestine, the British role appears to have been deliberately designed to bypass the right of the indigenous Kashmiri population to self-determination. In this respect, the parallel between Palestine and Kashmir is quite obvious. In both cases, British colonial manipulation resulted in the violation of the right of a people to self-determination, and the blocking of the emergence of a legitimate independent state. The secret visit of the Israeli Army Chief to Indian-occupied Kashmir is ominous as it foments trouble for the Kashmiri freedom fighters and their cause. The strife-torn Valley has been yearning for freedom and peace, but Indian authorities are not only bent upon trampling their rights but also take aid from Israelis.

India denies Pak allegation of IWT violation

NI Wire

New Delhi

Thu, 18 Sep 2008:

India has denied Pakistan’s allegation of breaching the Indus Water Treaty held between both the countries in 1960 on equal distributions of rivers that flow in the north and northwestern part of India. India has control over three rivers flowing on eastern region while Pakistan holds the command of same numbeof rivers in the western part including Chenab.

Pakistan on September 15 had alleged that despite of repeated complaints to India for not enhancing the water level of Chenab, New Delhi had not responded to it. In September when the water is extremely crucial for upcoming crops of Rabi, reduced water flow in the Chenab is a major issue for the region. Hence, Pakistan has asked for World Bank intervention as the Bank is the third party of this treaty.

Pakistan has also warned to ask compensation money from India as against its loss which Pakistani farmers have borne for not getting adequate water for their kharif crops. According to sources, Islamabad has asked the Punjab irrigation department to estimate the value of loss.

India on the other hand has completely denied the allegation by quoting, “Pakistan knows it very well that the water level of the Chenab falls during the month of September.”

Earlier in 2005, Pakistan had protested against the construction of the Baglihar dam on the Chenab river and this time accused India for filling the dam which resulted in decreasing the water level on the Chenab.

However, Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz on Wednesday said that the marginal reduction on the Chenab water flow was due to less rain in the Chenab basin and India had not filled up Baglihar dam for its hydropower project since August 31 this year.

He further asserted, “New Delhi is strictly following the treaty guidelines and Pakistan has made complaint even before the schedule time, he said.

‘The Bagliyar dam is the main cause of this complaint because Pakistan had tried its best not to let the construction begin in 2005 and even that time it sought World Bank’s involvement. And now, when India has constructed the dam and has prepared for hydro electricity power project, Pakistan is feeling uneasy,’ as per Indian officials.

India is setting up a 450 Megawatt hydropower project plant on Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir.

The IWT was signed in Karachi between India and Pakistan on September 19, 1960 by the then Indian Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Pakistan President General Ayub Khan. The World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) is a signatory of the accord.

According to this deal, India and Pakistan would have to maintain a certain level of water that suits both the countries.

Pakistan committed to Kashmiris' self-determination: Zardari



Thu, 18 Sep 2008:

Islamabad, Sep 18 (ANI): President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday said Pakistan has always been committed to extending political, moral and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir in their struggle for self-determination.

President Zardari stated this in a meeting with Prime Minister of Pakistan occupd Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Attique Khan who called on him at Aiwan-e-Sadr here.

Khan lauded Pakistan government's policy on Kashmir and said it would help move forward the process of Kashmir-related dialogue between India and Pakistan.

Sardar Attique briefed the President on the ongoing pace of work on post-earthquake reconstruction process and the Mangla Dam raising project. (ANI)

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