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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 30 Sep

A Soldier's pride at stake ?

A Soldier's pride at stake or is it a country's?

“Take care of your soldier, O' King , the day should never arise when a a soldier has to ask you for the justice. He lays his life on border for the kingdom,so that you me and our people can sleep peacefully.” - said Chanakya to King Chandragupta.

How true!

This was quoted by a participant in a discussion forum conducted by one of the prestigious news channels in the context of ongoing disparity between defence personnel and their civil counterparts.

Without going in to much technicality of the issue, the main point is that, the outcome of the sixth pay commission report suggests that the officers of the defence services will get the pay far less than their civil counterparts of the equivalent ranks, so much so that civil official will fetch more pay than his senior counterpart in the Army, Air force and Navvy.

Now Is this the result of a well thought process by the IAS officers? This question was popped up by retired senior defence officers and the possibility was not denied.

I had earlier also mentioned about the poor living conditions and a very bad pay scale about the defence personnel in one of earlier write-ups. People live in such bad conditions and at times shell out huge amount from their pockets for the rent of the house as the govt is not in condition to provide them the accommodation; then he flies the fighter plane the very next morning to check the safety of the border with no assurance whether he would be back to see the smiling faces of his children and wife.

Officers and men from other branches work day and night to keep the planes, system , machines, equipment and all the time maintained and ready so that the country can sleep in peace. Generally people do not realize it but when a calamity occurs or when a Kargil happens, suddenly Faujis are remembered and are glamorized.

No amount of money can ever replace the life of a warrior, but does the government ever come and find out the conditions in which he lives and still goes to the border to lay his life quietly and bravely. He deserves to live a life with dignity and respect.

Now among his civil contemporaries he is made feel so low, by developing this huge gap in the salary that he would have with them.

Is it because defence officers and men and their families do not constitute a vote bank? Given the fact that are always located else where and no voting by post takes place.

India is not respecting its own defence services, which is supposed to be one of the best militry services in the world.

Officers and men have to cut the corners in their expenditure and are struggling with financial problems , not able to provide their children what they wish to and still live the life with a smile on their face all the time, and immediately pack their bags and move to the toughest of the postings, along with their families. If these people are not kept happy at the home front and if their dignity is not the pride of the nation; this is very unfortunate.

How sad is this situation where a soldier has to rise and ask for what he deserves?

With all this will we have young Indians joining Indian Army, Air Force or Navvy?

Editorial: Extreme step

Business Standard/ New Delhi

September 30, 2008, 0:02 IST

For matters to have reached a stage where the three defence chiefs should collectively decide not to implement a government pay order is surely serious. Fortunately, things got sorted out after Defence Minister A K Antony made it clear to the chiefs that they could not unilaterally decide on whether or not to implement the Cabinet order on the Sixth Pay Commission and that, if need be, his ministry would issue the necessary order. The chiefs over-stepped a line in what they did, and it is not a good precedent to have set. But, equally, it must be asked whether the government drove them to such misdemeanour, and (even more importantly) whether their strong feelings accurately reflect the degree of unhappiness that exists on the issue in the officer corps. At the end of the day, what maintains the relationship between the civilian and the uniformed officer is mutual respect and a feeling that the government is not going to ride roughshod over the defence forces' genuine concerns, merely because civilians have the final say (which of course they do).

The three chiefs had made their views on the Sixth Pay Commission known to the government months ago; some adjustments were indeed made to what the Commission had recommended, but key issues were not addressed (or addressed through rejection). As the chiefs pointed out, and as has been well-known for some time, it was getting more and more difficult to recruit people to the forces — as is evident from the gap between the number of officer cadets recruited this year and the stipulated strength. There is little doubt that the services as a career have to be made more attractive, if the country's defence capability is not to be impaired. Therefore, through a combination of incentives, status recognition and generous hardship allowances, some way should have been found to address the issues raised. It is inexplicable how, despite the strong signals that had been sent, the government chose to notify the Sixth Pay Commission without paying too much attention to whether the forces' genuine grievances had been addressed. Perhaps the all-powerful IAS that runs the government felt that the forces would simply lump it.

The crux of the defence forces' grievances has to do with the manner in which they have been downgraded in relation to the civil services. A lieutenant colonel who drew Rs 800 more than his civilian counterpart now draws Rs 11,000 less. Similarly, other bands have been created which put even higher-level officers at a disadvantage vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts. The forces had been demanding an integrated pay scale till the rank of major general, in order to reduce the feeling of stagnation. This was accepted in the Fourth Pay Commission, removed in the fifth, and has now been restored in the sixth (while introducing a similar facility for other services), but the way in which the scale has been fixed ensures that civilian employees draw higher salaries. The wonder of it all, if you go by the calculations submitted by the defence forces, is that the total cost of what they ask for is under Rs 250 crore. It is obvious that the issue is not the money, but a needless act of oneupmanship by the civil services. The group of ministers that has been constituted will have to make up now for past government insensitivity.

11,000 soldiers needed in Indian Army

THERE IS a shortage of over 11,000 officers in the Indian Army. Lieutenant General Thomas Mathew told the media in a recruitment rally at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on September 26. He expressed satisfaction at the tremendous turnout at the recruitment rally for soldiers.

Explaining the shortage, Major General MN Kashid, additional director general (recruiting) told that the shortfall is in the Short Service Commission grades. “We have a huge demand for captains and majors. The Army has initiated a four pronged approach to fill this gap. A widespread publicity campaign targetted at youth about the life in the Army, is also in process.

The Army is in advanced stages of discussion with the Ministry of Human Resource Development regarding introduction of Army-related lessons in the NCERT curriculum. Inspirational and real life stories will be a part of class VIII to XII books. A touching story of flying officer Anil Kumar of the Indian Air Force and an NDA product, has been included in class X English textbook of the Maharashtra State Board.
Kumar, who was commissioned as a fighter pilot is totally paralysed below neck after a major road traffic accident.

Lieutenant General Thomas Mathew hoped that the Pay Commission review should also attract more young men and women to take up a career in the armed forces. A strategy is also being worked out to enable Short Service Commission officers to integrate into civilian jobs later. He also drew attention to the fool-proof and transparent system being followed at the recruitment rallies where middlemen and touts can not pay any role in this process.

In 2007, the Indian Army recruited about 38,000 soldiers. An open recruitment rally for male candidates from seven south districts of Kerala has been undergoing since September 25 by the Army recruitment office, Trivandrum. Rally is open till October 1. About 2,000 candidates took part in the first day’s selection programme. Good physical characteristics, good education, a strong will and commitment is all that is needed to be a part of the Indian Army.

Uncalled for defiance Admiral Mehta’s conduct inexcusable

THE TRIBUNE has been consistently supporting the demand for a better deal for the armed forces on the issue of implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission report. We not only protested against the stepmotherly treatment meted out to our uniformed personnel, who have done the country proud in protecting the borders or taking care of internal security, we also threw open the columns of this newspaper to ventilate their grievances. Yet, we found ourselves on the side of Defence Minister A.K. Antony when the mild-mannered minister chided the service chiefs for the manner in which they protested about the implementation of the new payscales. The Union Cabinet had decided to implement the new payscales but as a mark of protest, the Services Headquarters had chosen not to send the revised salary bills to the Defence Ministry. Worse, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, went one step further and even sent a communication withholding the issuance of the government draft notification to the staff.

Their conduct, particularly Admiral Mehta’s, was unacceptable and, as Mr Antony is reported to have pointed out, was not expected of them. Any such defiance of the government’s order would have sent the wrong signals down the Services line. The Tribune, too, believes that the services have a case when they insist that there should be parity in payscales, perks and protocol vis-à-vis the civilian bureaucracy. They have an amiable minister in Mr Antony, who has been taking up their case with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister. Already, a lot of anomalies in the recommendations have been ironed out. However, it would be an injustice to delay implementation of the new payscales in the name of rectifying other shortcomings. These could have been sorted out by the three service chiefs with the South Block, away from the public gaze.

It was in the light of this urgency that the Cabinet cleared the proposal to implement the revised payscales. Once the service chiefs backed off after listening to the Defence Minister’s strong words of disapproval, the Centre did not take long in appointing a three-member committee headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to look into their grievances. If anything, this shows that there are institutional mechanisms in place to sort out such differences. There was no need for defiance.

India, Russia defence ties enter new phase
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 29
India today reaffirmed its relationship with it oldest defence ally - Russia. The two countries signalled a shift in the earlier “buyer-seller relationship” by announcing: “We will now be partners in jointly developing next generation of weapons, aircraft and hold joint scientific research.”

Besides, the two nations announced plans to increase the frequency and scope of bilateral military exercises, which means involving more men in these exercises and using more equipment. The two countries have also decided to extend the tenure of military cooperation, which was to expire in 2010, for another ten years.

An apex body headed by the defence secretary and his Russian counterpart will now drive the military cooperation for the countries and coordinate various working groups. The first meeting of this body will be held in Moscow before the Russian President arrives for a visit to India in December this year.

Defence minister A.K. Antony and his Russian counterpart AE Serdyukov today jointly signed a protocol at the eighth meeting of the Indo-Russia inter-governmental commission on military technical cooperation.

India and Russia, as partners, will now be co-developing next generation of fighter aircraft and technology will be transferred to India to produce Russian technology-based T-90 tanks. The issue of pricing of the Gorshkov aircraft carrier is also near resolution.

On the T-90 tanks, the Russians had an issue of transfer of technology to build 1000 tanks at a designated factory in India. It had delayed the original schedule that was to start first lot of deliveries last year. But today Antony announced: “We have found a solution, hereafter things will move fast”.

Besides, India will be buying another 347 tanks in a drive-away condition.

On Gorshkov, the Russian side has submitted its additional demand of US dollars 1.2 billion for refitting it. The same will now be presented before the Union cabinet which is expected to approve it. Subsequently, the Russians will be invited for re-negotiating the deal. As an interim measure, India has asked Russia to support the shipyard that is refitting the 44,570, tonne warship. It is learnt that a sum of US dollars 250 million will be spent by Russia on this.

Notably, India badly needs an aircraft carrier as its biggest ship, Virat, is ageing. But with the delay in the refit programme Gorshkov is expected to join the Indian navy only by 2012.

On the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) that the two countries have decided to jointly produce, the Sukhoi and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) teams have held technical discussions and both sides have agreed to finalise the negotiations of the general contract. Separately, The Ilyushin (IL) and HAL will form a joint venture to manufacture 145 multi-role transport aircraft.

Army brass defied Govt on pay hike by citing ‘larger interest of the services’

Shishir Gupta Posted: Sep 30, 2008 at 0254 hrs IST
NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 29 The armed forces have agreed to implement revised pay scales and arrears from October 1 but in a highly controversial move last Friday, the Army top brass, taking a cue from the Navy, cited “the larger interests of the services” to justify their defiance and “delay” in implementing revised salaries.

The Army signal was sent the day Defence Minister A K Antony talked tough with the three Services chiefs and told them in very clear terms to implement the Cabinet decision on the Sixth Pay Commission report.

Top sources confirmed to The Indian Express that via a signal on September 26 — two days after Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta signalled his men — Lt Gen V K Chaturvedi, Director General, Manpower Planning, under the Adjutant General of Army, informed “all ranks up to unit level” that the revised pay scales were delayed. The signal, being kept under wraps, was sent to Headquarters/Commands and Corps of the 1.1 million-strong Army.

While the armed forces process for issuing the Government notification has begun so that all officers and ranks get the new scales together with their civilian counterparts on time, the Army, in its signal, said that four pay-related issues still remain unresolved:

•Uniform grades of pay at par with civilian officers.

•Lt Col should be upgraded to Pay band 4.

•t Generals should be placed in Higher Administrative Grade plus.

•Restoring pensionary benefits of personnel below officer rank.

While the UPA government plans to take up the two signals issued by the Navy chief and Army Headquarters seriously as these have wider ramifications, it is foxed by the first demand which is not even within the purview of the Pranab Mukherjee committee — it also comprises P Chidambaram and Antony — set up by the Prime Minister last Friday to sort out pay-related anomalies with the armed forces.

US was allowed limited actions, reveals Kasuri

Monday, September 29, 2008
ISLAMABAD: Former Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri has disclosed that Pakistan had allowed the United States to conduct limited operations in its territory against al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked militants.

"Pakistan had allowed the US to conduct limited operations," Kasuri told the Geo television. "We could not go to the limits that were demanded by the US," he said. Asked about the ongoing Army operation against the militants, he said Pakistan Army was raised to fight India and it would have to get training for guerrilla warfare. –NNI

Online adds: Kasuri said Pakistan was adhering to nuclear safeguards of international standard for the safety of its nuclear programme. "There are several security wings meant for our nuclear programme. We have nuclear safeguards in accordance with international standards adopted by other nuclear powers," he said.

"Being the foreign minister, I was member of the National Command Authority. President, prime minister, foreign minister, defence minister, chairman joint chiefs of staff and all the three forces’ chiefs are members of the authority. We have remained in contact with the IAEA. Our safeguards are of international standard," he underlined.

The country's nuclear programme was in safe hands, he declared. About US-India civil nuclear technology pact, he said Pakistan was facing some difficulties due to nuclear proliferation charges levelled against Dr A Q Khan. India's civil nuclear technology agreements, however, would pave the way for Pakistan, he said. Two Chinese nuclear reactors were already functioning in Pakistan, he said.

He claimed headway on the Kashmir issue during the rule of the previous government and said that a solution to the Kashmir issue could be found if there was a political will. President Asif Ali Zardari was a political figure; therefore, it would be easy for him to move forward on this count.

Jitters over China's military muscle

Thomas Harding in London
September 30, 2008

CHINA is developing a modern military that will be the equal of Western armies, say defence analysts. A conference in London heard that within the next decade China will possess an army second only to America's, a fact that could "embolden" it to military action.

The analysts, from Jane's Information Group, believe the Communist Party can only continue to rule if it maintains economic growth at more than 10 per cent. Therefore the rapid growth of its navy is matched by its desire to expand into the Indian Ocean and South China Sea to feed resources into its voracious economy.

"China is developing a modern, highly manoeuvrable force able to operate anywhere as well if not better than Western armies," said Christopher Foss, editor of Jane's Armour and Artillery, who added that in the last 10 years China had made "dramatic progress".

During that time China's army has been substantially slimmed down into a leaner fighting force with new tanks and armoured vehicles. But its growing naval might poses the greatest threat.

By 2015, China is expected to have six Jin class submarines capable of firing the JL2 ballistic nuclear missile that could threaten both the west and east coasts of America, acting as deterrent to any intervention by Washington should China begin hostilities against Taiwan.

The conference heard that China's nuclear attack submarine force is expanding "quite considerably". Within the next year the first navy pilots will also begin training for aircraft carrier operations, while new air-to-air refuelling planes are being delivered that will double the range of its air force's increasingly modern fighters.

The editor of Jane's Intelligence Review, Christian Le Miere, said China would have less to fear from America if it had the threat of nuclear weapons off US waters allied to a "very capable military to back up diplomatic moves".

However, he said the Chinese navy was still a considerable distance from its US counterpart, which spends 10 times China's budget building twice the number of vessels.

Telegraph, London

This story was found at:

India develops unmanned combat vehicle

Production could start in four years' time

By Peter Larsen @ Monday, September 29, 2008 5:58 AM

The Indian Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE ) is reportedly developing a number of unmanned infantry combat vehicles.

According to CVRDE director S Sundaresh, Medak Plant workers are fitting Russian infantry combat vehicles with advanced robotic components at a cost of Rs 60 crore.

"We have undertaken the project last year, and a full-fledged vehicle will be handed over to Army in four years' time. We are planning to hand it over to the Army by 2011 for field tests, after which we will take up full scale production", said Sundaresh.

Sundaresh also noted that the all-terrain vehicles would be utilised to detect mines, as well as nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

As the IT Examiner previously reported, the crowded Indian defence market has led numerous officials to express concern over a perceived lack of indigenous self-reliance. To be sure, air chief marshall F M Major recently recommended that New Delhi reduce its dependency on aerospace imports by embarking on a "strategic shift [that] will offer the required thrust towards building skills and infrastructure for engineering and manufacturing".

Dr W Selvamurthy of the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) expressed similiar sentiments.

"A sustained effort on indigenisation of defence science and technology would ultimately provide us the technological know-how and know-why, and thus in turn result in continuous evolution of product upgrades", he said.

Indian Navy Seeks to Acquire Six More Submarines

Dated 28/9/2008

India has initiated the process of acquiring six more submarines on the lines of the under-construction Scorpenes to augment its underwater warfare capabilities.

"The Navy has initiated the process of acquisition of six more diesel-electric submarines and has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to major manufacturers across the globe," top Defence Ministry sources told reporters today. "The Defence Ministry will now await responses from these companies and will follow it up with global tenders or Request for Proposals (RFP) next year," they said.

In all, Navy plans to procure 30 new submarines to have formidable underwater fighting capabilities. India already has 16 submarines of the Russian Kilo and German HDW Shishumar Class.

Among the countries from where India is seeking information are France, Russia and Italy, all with major submarine manufacturing capabilities. The new submarines would be procured as a follow-on of the six Scorpene submarines being built at the Defence Public Sector Undertaking shipyard, Mazagon Dockyards Limited (MDL), in Mumbai.

"The additional six submarines will start joining the Indian Navy fleet after all the first set of six Scorpenes have joined the naval fleet," the sources said.

Pension disparity

A letter to The Editor, The Tribune Chandigarh of 29SEP.

Apropos of Ajay Banerjee?s report on the disparity in defence pensions (Sept 25), the Finance Ministry has not at all agreed to the proposals of the defence services and has, in fact, outrightly rejected them. The ball has reached the Prime Minister?s office only because of differences between the Defence and Finance Ministries.

It is also learnt that the officer handling the Pay Commission Cell in the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, is from the Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS), a service which has always traditionally been in a status war with military officers.

Otherwise, why would a Lieutenant Colonel with 13 years of service and with a pre-revised scale of Rs 15,100-18,700 be placed in Pay Band-3 (Rs 15,900-39,100) and a Director to Government of India also with 13 years of service and with an erstwhile scale of Rs 14,300-18,300 placed in Pay Band-4 (Rs 37,400-67,000)?

The Sixth Pay Commission and the subsequent approval by the Union Cabinet was nothing but an exercise to mislead politicians by the babus who have never wasted time in degrading the status of men and women in uniform.


General students can study medicine with army wards

Delhi HC asks Army College of Medical Sciences to leave 21 out of its 100 seats for students who qualified CET

Rakesh Bhatnagar & Vineeta Pandey. New Delhi

Here is a bit of good news for medical aspirants. Children of civilians can now also study in armed forces medical colleges set up exclusively for the children of army personnel.
The Delhi high court on Friday passed an order asking the Army College of Medical Sciences (ACMS), Delhi Cantonment, to leave 21 out of 100 seats for general category students who qualified the Combined Entrance Test (CET). The CET was conducted by Delhi�s Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University to which ACMS is affiliated.
ACMS is run through army welfare funds and is exclusively for the wards of serving army, ex-army personnel and war widows. There are about 12 professional colleges, including engineering, run by the army. The ACMS is different from the Armed Forces Medical College , Pune, which takes civilians after an all-India entrance examination. Once they complete AFMC, the MBBS students become army doctors. However, ACMS is like any other medical college and the students are under no compulsion to join the army.
The HC observed that many seats in ACMS remained unfilled since very few candidates who were wards of defence personnel had qualified for admission in the institute. On the other hand, a large number of general students had secured higher marks in CET than those who were given admission for being wards of army/ex-army personnel or war widows. The court observed that it was unfair of the ACMS to not open its unfilled seats to general students.
The court did not accept the ACMS�s argument that the institute was set up mainly for the children of army personnel and that being an unaided professional institution it had the right to maintain autonomy in its administration.
�Every such seat is highly precious since a large number of meritorious candidates are desirous of, and waiting to get admission. Each such seat is a national asset and it would not be desirable not to let them same go waste. A seat left unfilled in any academic session remains vacant till the end of the course and the period of the MBBS course is nearly 5 years,� judge Vipil Sanghi said in his order.
He further ordered that reservation of seats for the wards of army/ex-army personnel and war widows in ACMS could be to the extent of 79 out of 100 and the remaining 21% seats should be filled in by general category candidates on the basis of merit.
The institute was asked to issue public notices in dailies asking successful candidates to appear for counselling on Monday (September 29, 2008) and accept fees of general students by September 30, 2008, so that they can join the classes at the earliest.

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