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Monday, 3 November 2008

From Today's Papers - 03 Nov

Punjab seeks PM’s intervention
Express News Service
Posted: Nov 03, 2008 at 0516 hrs IST

Mohali, November 02 The Punjab government, on Sunday, urged Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to immediately intervene to resolve the pay issue of defence personnel in view of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, which had generated much anguish among the serving and retired personnel of the country’s Armed Forces.

Addressing an impressive gathering of ex-servicemen from five districts of the state in Mohali, Punjab Minister for Defence Services Welfare, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, announced to amend the present law provisions for the speedy disposal of land disputes involving ex-servicemen.

Capt Kanwaljit said soldiers of the Armed Forces were fighting on double fronts as India was facing internal and external threat, but their morale had come down drastically after the recommendations by the pay panel, removing the equality the armed personnel shared with their civil counterparts. “Soldiers fighting at tough battlefields are being discriminated against by the panel and so far the Centre has failed to resolve the issue,” the minister said, adding that the widespread anguish and despair in the armed forces was an alarming bell for the country.

He appealed the Prime Minister to immediately take up the matter, which he (Capt Kanwaljit) had earlier taken up with the Defence Minister.

Capt Kanwaljit said the SAD-BJP government in the state was taking care of the needs of the ex-servicemen and was committed to ensuring their well-being.

Recollecting that people from Punjab have always remained on the forefront of sacrificing for the country, the minister said to promote this trend and help the children of ex-servicemen, the Punjab government has opened four training institutes. These centres provide free training for preparatory exams of different fields, including NDA and others.

The minister said that the state government has decided to amend the policy regarding the provision of facilities to the families of the pre-1999 war heroes.

He said that Army was facing the enemy at home-front that was stronger than the external aggression and accordingly families of those soldiers who had been declared war casualty by the Ministry of Defence would get the benefit of this policy.

“We have instructed the deputy commissioners and senior superintendents of police in the state to give proper honour to the ex-servicemen,” he said, while warning that that any officials found guilty in the matter would be dealt with sternly.

Capt Kanwaljit urged for the institution of a federation, involving the groups of ex-servicemen, to take on a common goal of the welfare of ex-servicemen. A meeting of all groups would be convened in this regard, added Kanwaljit.

The Minister also gave away an appointment letter to the widow of a war hero besides distributing cheques of Rs 5 lakh each to 16 families of slain soldiers.

Indian Navy Crew to Train
on Nuclear-Powered Submarine

New Delhi
A batch of Indian Navy personnel will leave for Russia this month to get training on board a Russia-built nuclear powered submarine, which will be delivered to India by next year on a 10-year lease.

Partly financed by India under a hush-hush deal signed with Russia in January 2004 for $650 million, the 12,000-tonne Akula class attack submarine was being built at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur shipyard in Russia. It will be commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Chakra.

"The Indian Navy crew of nearly 40 personnel will leave for the Russian port of Vladivostok in batches to train on board INS Chakra this month," said a senior naval official, requesting anonymity.

The shipyard in Russia announced last month that the submarine had been shifted out of the shipyard to a maintenance facility in Primorye territory near Vladivostok for trials in the Sea of Japan.

The Akula-II class vessels are considered to be the quietest and deadliest among Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines. The likely date of commissioning of INS Chakra in the Indian Navy is Aug 15, 2009.

According to defence officials, three domestically-designed nuclear submarines are under construction under a top-secret Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) programme at Mazagon docks in Mumbai, but the navy needs to gain first-hand experience in nuclear submarine operations, deployment and maintenance prior to the deployment of domestic submarines. The first of the three indigenous nuclear submarines is expected to begin its sea trials Jan 26, 2009.

According to experts, INS Chakra would help India fill the void caused by the delays in the indigenous ATV project to build a nuclear powered attack submarine capable of firing missiles.

Three Indian naval crews for the nuclear submarine have already been trained at the specially set up training centre in Sosnovy Bor near St. Petersburg.

The nuclear submarine leased by Russia will not be equipped with long-range cruise missiles due to international restrictions on missile technology proliferation, but India may later opt to fit it with domestically-designed long-range nuclear-capable missiles.

At present, India operates 16 conventional diesel submarines and awaits six French-Spanish Scorpene class diesel attack submarines, to be delivered between 2012 and 2017. India plans to deploy at least three nuclear submarines armed with long-range strategic missiles by 2015.

India previously leased a Charlie-I class nuclear submarine from the Soviet Union from 1988 to 1991.

Faith in O.P. Baba Keeps Soldiers
at Siachen Glacier Going
By Ritu Sharma

Siachen (Jammu and Kashmir)
At the frigid and inhospitable heights of the Siachen Glacier, once known as the highest battlefield in the world at a height of 22,000 ft, Indian soldiers' unwavering faith in a legendary soldier as their "guardian deity" gives them the strength to brave all odds.

As the legend goes, a soldier named Om Prakash was instrumental in single-handedly fending off an enemy attack at the Malaun post in the late 1980s, while the other soldiers had been temporarily called to the rear headquarters. Who the soldier Om Prakash was and what happened to him remain a mystery.

However, it is the firm belief of troops posted in Siachen that Om Prakash, fondly revered as O.P. Baba, protects them not only from the depredations of nature but also from the enemy by forewarning them by appearing in their dreams.

"We have faith in O.P. Baba that he will guard us against all odds whether it is the extreme weather or the enemy," a soldier said reverentially.

The Indian Army has been defending the Siachen Glacier since the summer of 1984. Surviving the three-month stint at the glacier, named after Sia rose, is an arduous task due to the temperature plummeting to minus 65 degrees Celsius at times and low oxygen levels.

Guns have been silent at Siachen since 2003 after a truce between India and Pakistan. However, there are lots of other things that can harm or kill you, like ice-crevasses where the mercury registers minus 200 degrees celsius, extreme weight loss and even a rare case of snow-blindness.

The belief in the soldier saint is so strong that a formal report is given to O.P. Baba before the induction of a soldier party on the glacier and after the successful accomplishment of any mission.

While giving the report, the troop in-charge treats O.P. Baba as a senior officer and seeks his blessings. Following that, the soldiers shout "O.P. Baba ki jai".

"The faith in the legend of O.P. Baba is so strong that all troops give up consumption of alcohol and tobacco during their stay on the glacier," an army officer said.

With the spread of the soldier-saint's legend, a shrine has come up at every post on the glacier.

The shrine of O.P. Baba at the Siachen Base Camp, just a few metres from the snout of the Siachen Glacier where it melts to become the Nubra river, has been upgraded to a multi-faith temple and prayers are offered to all the deities after formal reporting to O.P. Baba.

Legends are part of the postings at the Siachen Glacier. A silhouette on a mountain at the Siahcen Base Camp is seen as the "woman of Siachen" by the soldiers posted there and they believe that no woman can be posted there.

The other legend is that the ice-axe of Col. Narendra Kumar, who opened the Siachen Glacier on Indian side for trekking, was lost during an expedition to the glacier. And till the time the axe is recovered, the Indian Army is bound to defend the icy heights.

However, it is the legend of O.P. Baba that endures best and continues to help soldiers brave all odds while guarding the glacier.

AF to deploy radar for Taj Mahal security

Press Trust of India

Sunday, November 02, 2008 (New Delhi)

Taj Mahal will get a watchful eye right over its dome to keep a tab on possible aerial attacks to the 17th century monument of love.

IAF will deploy its newly-acquired Aerostat radar for strengthening the security cover over Taj Mahal in Agra from the third dimension to ward off any threat from aerial platforms similar to 9/11 WTC twin tower attacks.

"We are planning to deploy an Aerostat radar specifically for providing aerial security coverage to the Taj Mahal," a senior IAF officer told a news agency.

Aerostat radars are early warning and control phased-array radars mounted on balloons, tethered to the ground and designed to detect hostile approaching aircraft from afar, especially when they fly at low altitudes.

IAF plans to put one of these radars in its inventory over Agra, as it found that the present assets in place for Taj Mahal's aerial security were inadequate to tackle threat from low-flying aircraft.

Such straying civilian aircraft were used by terror mastermind Osama bin Laden's men to bring down the twin WTC towers in New York on September 11, 2001, an event which led to the US' 'War on Terror' campaign in Afghanistan.

The Lankan guerrilla group LTTE's newly-acquired air capabilities that have attacked the island nation's airbases have also made India wake up to aerial threats from non-state actors to its vital installations and infrastructure.

Soldiering develops canine instincts of soldiers

A military person is not doing a job but fulfilling a mission. His life is total dedication, commitment, love for fellow colleagues and people. These instincts are developed through intense soldiering. His whole life is a saga of supreme sacrifice..

SOLDIERING IS a very important process in the making of a soldier. According to major general Soumya Dev Mohanty soldiering is important as it develops canine instincts. This helps to develop loyalty that a soldier develops towards his profession while developing a way of life which is of mother-saint kind. As a mother is unconditionally committed to her family, as a saint unconditionally contributes for the development of human beings, a soldier renders this service for his fellow men. As he develops this canine syndrome it makes him live happily at the lowered survival threshold.

According to Mohanty, a soldier’s sacrifice need not be regretted because it is an honor for anyone to die in this way. This cannot be called death, but is in fact life.

A soldier is complete human being. He develops the entire right attitude for leading a life of fulfillment. He not only lives his life but also lives it with total enjoyment. The most creditable thing in a soldier’s lifestyle is his attitude towards his fellow officers. Such attitude of oneness cannot be found in any other institution. Also the leadership quality gets fully developed. He learns to lead and also to be led.

A soldier’s work should not be called a job. It is also not a profession. His whole life is a saga of supreme sacrifice. He chooses to live for others not for himself. They are first proud patriots, proud soldiers and proud family persons.

Suicide car bomber kills 8 Pak soldiers

Press Trust of India

Sunday, November 02, 2008 (Islamabad)

At least eight Pakistani soldiers were killed and five others injured when a suicide car bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a paramilitary camp in the troubled south Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The attacker struck at Zalai check post, located 20 km west of South Waziristan Agency's main town Wana, at 9.30 am, an official of the local political administration said.

Witnesses said the bomber drove his explosive-laden car into the heavily guarded check post, killing eight personnel instantly. Security personnel cordoned off the area after the explosion and rushed the injured to a hospital in Wana.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the suicide attack and deplored the loss of innocent lives. He directed the hospital authorities to provide all possible medical facilities to the injured.

Meanwhile, reports from the adjoining Mohmand tribal region said some 200 militants had taken over a state-run school in the area.

However, a Taliban spokesman denied the militants were involved in the incident. Most schools in Mohmand Agency have been closed following the outbreak of violence in the area.

In yet another incident, a close aide of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud was arrested along with a companion near Kohat in the North West Frontier Province. Top militant commander Qari Rehman was arrested while he was coming to the area from Hangu district, TV channels reported.

The security forces are also continuing their operations against the Taliban in the Bajaur tribal region, where six militants were killed on Saturday during raids by gunship helicopters. A number of vehicles were also destroyed.

In the Aurakzai tribal area, militants on Saturday kidnapped 10 people, including three government employees.

Chinese navy chief arrives in India

Press Trust of India

Sunday, November 02, 2008 (New Delhi)

Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Chief Admiral Wu Sheng Li is in India on a maiden visit even as Indian Air Force chief Fali H Major reached Beijing in an evident exchange of visits to boost bilateral relations.

Wu arrived in Delhi late on Saturday on a five-day visit to India.

"Wu is expected to meet the defence minister (A K Antony) and Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta. The Chinese navy chief is also likely to be hosted in the Western Naval Command headquarters in Mumbai," a naval source said.

The Indian and Chinese navies have held elementary drills -- Passex (passage exercise) and Search and Rescue Exercise -- in the past. They are now seeking to engage with each other for the first time next year to build up on the goodwill generated by the first joint exercise between the two armies last year.

Indian and Chinese warships have already been making calls at either country's ports as part of growing confidence-building measures between the two sides.

The Indian Navy has long expressed apprehensions about the Chinese Navy's incursions into the Indian Ocean region and hopes to "blunt" its thrust into this area through engagement.

"There has been talk of enhanced defence cooperation between the two countries and right now the balance of visits to the other country is tilted on the Indian side," said an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"The visit of the Chinese Navy chief will give a fresh impetus to military cooperation between two countries," the official said.

Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, is in China to witness the first performance of the IAF's Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT), which has enthralled spectators worldwide with its intricate manoeuvres in the skies.

Major went to Beijing with a proposal for joint air exercises with the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army's air force.

Dearth of officers

The Army is having an acute shortage of officers. At the same time, officers having served it for 14 years are being asked to quit. These are the people who have served the Army for years and yet are not being permitted to serve permanently. To us it does not make sense. Will some one make us understand?

A. N. SHARMA, Rohtak

Rectify anomaly

The formula introduced for revising the pension of pre-2006 pensioners on the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission is erroneous because 40 per cent fitment benefits has been given on the sum of basic pension only and dearness pension has not been included and considered for determining the fitment benefit though dearness pension is a part of pension for all intents and purposes.

In addition, as the commission’s recommendation has been implemented from Jan 1, 2006, 50 per cent of DA merged into basic pension from April 1, 2004 should have been considered as basic pension for purposes of granting fitment benefit in the interest of justice.

Moreover, all the prevailing allowances and other benefits in existence before the cut off date are always merged in the revised pension/pay to arrive at the precise and correct revision of emoluments. The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister should get the glaring anomaly rectified and help the pensioners.

B.K. CHOPRA, Amritsar

Five firms in fray for copter deal

Ravi Sharma

BANGALORE: Five global helicopter majors are in the fray to sell India 197 multi-role, light helicopters, in a deal worth Rs. 3,000 crore.

Eurocopter, a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space company with its AS 550 Fennec; Bell Helicopters, which is offering the Bell 407; Russia’s Kamov (for its Ka-226), the Franco Italian consortium’s Agusta (which is prepared to offer either the Agusta A109 Power or the A 119 Koala) and McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems ( MD 520N) have been given time till December 19 to submit proposals.

To replace Chetak

Weighing less than three tonnes when armed, these multi-role, light turbine helicopters will replace the 1970s vintage Chetak and Cheetah helicopters operated by the Army Aviation Corps and the Air Force.

They will undertake tasks such as reconnaissance and observation, casualty evacuation, electronic warfare, escort duties, anti-insurgency operations and injecting and extricating personnel from the battlefield.

Of the 197 helicopters, which are to be bought in a fly away condition and via knock down kits, 133 are for the Army, while 64 will be delivered to the Air Force.

The helicopter deal is part of a mega modernisation programme which will see the Army eventually receiving 197 helicopters and the Air Force getting 188.

Offset clause

The deal also includes an offset clause, under which the successful vendor must source defence-related goods and services to the value of 50 per cent of the deal from Indian companies.

The process — including discussions on offset proposals, technical evaluation, short-listing by the Defence Ministry, hot weather and winter trails — is expected to be completed by the middle of 2010.

LTTE on verge of losing key supply line: Sri Lanka

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) on Sunday claimed to have pounded “an LTTE training and logistic base” located in the Iranamadu area in Mullathivu district.

Spokesperson Janaka Nanayakkara said the base is located north of Iranamadu jungle and “fighter jets accurately hit the target.”

The military claimed soldiers met with “less resistance” from the LTTE on the Wanni battlefront as they continued to consolidate defences in the newly-captured territory east and west of Kilinochchi. A Defence Ministry statement said sporadic fighting was reported close to the 12th mile post along the A-32 Mannar-Pooneryn Main Road on the western Kilinochchi battlefront. “Fighting was reported between troops and LTTE at Kovilkoduttavil, Podimuruppukulama and Urutirapurankulama. This phase of the military surge has forced the LTTE to retreat with heavy casualties. The LTTE is on the verge of losing its ‘supply line’ along the western coast,” it said.

The military claimed the LTTE had to relocate its artillery batteries — used to target civilian and military positions in Jaffna — on the outskirts of Pooneryn. “The military surge will force the LTTE to relocate its main guns towards Mullathivu, where the final stages of battles are expected.

Troops of the 57th Division, continuing their advances towards Kilinochchi, are now positioned north of the Akkarayankulama built-up area after weeks of intense fighting. The terrorists are faced with fierce multi-pronged attacks from the military, which has left scores of terrorists killed and many bunkers abandoned,” said the Defence Ministry.

Indian aid

India and Sri Lanka are working out the modalities to deliver the 800 metric tones of food pledged by New Delhi. A meeting presided over by the President’s senior advisor, Basil Rajapaksa, was held here to discuss the logistics. Representatives of the Indian High Commission attended the meeting.

India made the commitment to supply food to the stranded citizens in the north over a week ago when Mr. Rajapaksa visited New Delhi to discuss the humanitarian crisis triggered by the war.

Mohanlal wants to join Territorial Army - Indian Paparazzi E News

Thiruvananthapuram: Malayalam superstar Mohanlal, whose latest blockbuster "Kurukshetra" tells the tale of the Kargil war, has shown interest in joining the Territorial Army (TA), a voluntary part-time civilian force, as an officer.

A senior official commanding the TA battalion said on condition of anonymity that feelers have been send by the 48-year-old actor, saying that he is interested in joining up.

"The biggest impediment is that the upper age limit for entry into the battalion is 42 and after that if anyone has to be included, it has to be referred at the highest level, which is a tough ask," said the official.

Recently, former India Cricket team captain Kapil Dev was inducted into the Territorial Army after it was cleared at the highest level.

"Veteran theatre and film personality Nana Patekar's application for entry into the battalion is still being considered," said the official.

Mohanlal had his first major role as an army officer in the movie "Keerthi Chakra". Released in 2006, the film was directed by Major Ravi, a former commando with the National Security Guards (NSG).

In August 1991, Ravi headed the team that shot dead Sivarasan, the mastermind behind the killing of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

He quit the army due to his passion for movies.

Ravi, who also directed the superstar in "Kurukshetra", confirmed that Mohanlal is interested in joining the Territorial Army.

"Yesterday only we discussed this and he is very keen. He is now getting his papers ready to be sent for processing. It was after the role he played as a Major in 'Keerthi Chakra' and Lt. Col. in 'Kurukshetra' that he became really interested," said Ravi.

Courtesy Manorama News

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