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Tuesday, 3 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 03 Mar 09

The Pioneer

Indian Express

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Hindustan Times

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The Times of India

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Asian Age

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Asian Age

First Indigenous Aircraft Carrier
to be Named INS Vikrant

By Ritu Sharma

New Delhi
The first indigenous aircraft carrier that will be ready for induction into the Indian Navy by 2015 will be named INS Vikrant, after the first aircraft carrier that was imported in the 1960s and played an important role in the 1971 war with Pakistan.

"The decision to name this aircraft carrier after INS Vikrant is taken as the force has golden memories of this aircraft carrier, which retired in 1997 after 36 years of eventful service," sources at the Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) told IANS.

The first indigenous aircraft carrier with 40,000 tonne displacement is under construction at the CSL. Defence minister A.K. Antony Feb 28 laid the keel of the warship, marking its assembling.

The British-built INS Vikrant, formally known as HMS Heculeaus, was commissioned in the Indian Navy in 1961. The 20,000 tonne aircraft carrier, the first to be operated by India, was retired in 1997. It has since been converted into a museum at Mumbai and is the only World War-II era British built aircraft carrier to be preserved.

"The indigenous aircraft carrier will be different in many ways as its identification signal and signature will be known only to India. The identification signal of the imported carriers are also known to others," the official said.

The name Vikrant is taken from the Sanskrit vikranta, meaning 'courageous' and 'victorious'.

Despite a crack in a boiler, INS Vikrant engaged in combat against East Pakistan in the India-Pakistan War of 1971. Stationed off the Andaman and Nicobar islands along with Indian naval ships, INS Bramhaputra and INS Beas, the Vikrant was redeployed towards Chittagong at the outbreak of hostilities.

On the morning of Dec 4, 1971, the eight Sea Hawk aircraft on the Vikrant launched an air raid on Cox's Bazaar (in present Bangladesh) from 60 nautical miles away. That evening, the air group struck Chittagong harbour.

The indigenous aircraft carrier will have Russian-built MiG-29K fighter jets, indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas and Kamov helicopters.

The indigenous carrier is designed to accommodate women officers as well - in case the government decides to approve deployment of women officers on warships in the future.

Women officers are currently not posted on board due to the present design of ships and submarines.

The indigenous aircraft carrier, which is the largest warship to be designed and constructed in the country, has made India the fourth nation to have the capability of designing and making a ship of this class.

China Says No Independence or Autonomy for Tibet

The Chinese government has reiterated its claim on Tibet and said the region would not be granted independence or autonomy, a report published Monday said.

The document, published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of democratic reforms in the region, said "granting independence to Tibet is impossible", adding "semi-independence or attempts to free Tibet using the term of high-level autonomy is also impossible".

The China Daily described the document as "conducive to telling right from wrong in history and helps the world better understand the real Tibet".

After the creation of Communist China in 1949, Beijing signed a 17-point agreement for the peaceful liberation of Tibet, after which the autonomous region became part of China.

Chinese officials consider the document a legal contract that was mutually welcomed by both governments and by the Tibetan people. However, many people in Tibet consider the agreement invalid having been signed reluctantly or under duress.

In 1959, the Chinese government launched a crackdown to suppress an uprising in Tibet which led to the removal of the Tibetan government. Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama escaped to India, where he has headed the Tibetan government in exile ever since.

China has branded the Dalai Lama a separatist and accused him of orchestrating violent unrest in Tibet and Gansu in March 2008, which left 19 people dead and injured some 623, according to official Chinese reports.

The West has accused China of human rights violations, which the Chinese government sees as attempts "by imperialistic powers to isolate, split and demonise China".

Though the West considers the Dalai Lama to be the "spiritual leader of the Tibetans, the keeper of peace, and the protector of human rights", the Chinese government described these tags as being "completely absurd".

Post 26/11, A College Course on Counter Terrorism
By Richa Sharma

New Delhi
It may well be the first post-graduate course in counter-terrorism in India. A Pune college run by an NGO that also works in insurgency-hit Jammu and Kashmir will teach students ways to check terrorism, especially in the post-26/11 scenario.

Called Sarhad, the NGO will launch the two-year course from the new academic session beginning July this year at the Sarhad College of Arts, Commerce and Science, a government affiliated college it runs in Pune.

The course will focus on counter terrorism strategy and will prepare its students to identify potential threats and take note of suspicious behaviour and people.

"India has been a victim of terrorism for so many decades and especially after the Mumbai terror attacks last year, it has become very important that we study terrorism and educate people about counter-terrorism strategy," said Sanjay Nahar, founder of the NGO, who was on a visit to Delhi.

The first year of the course will include the etymology and philosophy of terrorism, terrorist ideologies and modus operandi, national policy and role of the print and electronic media. The second year will focus on different terrorist groups, socio-economic factors creating the terrorist mindset, control strategy, retention camps, drug and arms trafficking.

"The course has been designed by experts from various fields - legal, administrative, police, academic, security - under the guidance of Aligarh Muslim University's former vice-chancellor Mahmud-ur-Rahman," said Nahar.

Rahman, a retired officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), had served on various administrative posts in Jammu and Kashmir from 1966 to 1995.

"During my tenure in the valley, I have seen terrorism raising its head and spreading like cancer in the valley. It was this experience that helped me in formulating the syllabus," Rahman, 66, told IANS.

"We have failed to tackle the problem of terrorism and now it has gone out of our control. It is high time we sat and understood its root cause so that we can work to control and reduce the menace if we are not able eliminate it," he added.

The 50-seat course is designed for all sections including university graduates, bankers, administrators, journalists, NGOs and police personnel. The NGO has also written to the University Grants Commission (UGC) for accreditation of the course.

"The college has also roped in various top senior policemen and army personnel, who have successfully thwarted off terrorist attacks, lawyers, journalists and also some surrendered militants, who will talk about as to how they became terrorists," said Nahar.

There will be visiting faculty from other terror-affected Asian countries -- Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iraq.

On the advantage of the course, Nahar said there was no counter-terrorism training or knowledge offered to common people though they become the major victims in any terror attack.

"This course will provide them information about terrorism and counter terrorism strategies," he said.

(Richa Sharma can be contacted at

Mutineers wanted to destabilise govt: Pranab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 2
Amid reports suggesting the involvement of external forces in the mutiny by BDR personnel, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today expressed shock over the killings of nearly 100 people in the revolt and condemned the "barbaric acts" aimed at destabilising a democratically elected government.

In a letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Mukherjee backed "a democratic, stable government" in Dhaka and offered support and assistance at "this hour of difficulty". Expressing "great shock at the tragedy that had unfolded over the last few days in Bangladesh”, he conveyed “deepest condolences" of the Indian government and people to the Bangladesh Army and the families of those who lost their near and dear ones. The Minister noted that such “barbaric acts” had no place in a civilised society, a spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry said.

In his letter, Mukherjee underlined that India was “ready to extend whatever support and assistance that Bangladesh may require at this juncture”.

Navy: Sagar Prahari Bal to secure India's coastline

Sonia Verma 02 March 2009, Monday

AK ANTONY the Union Defence minister said at the Cochin Shipyard Limited that the Navy would control all maritime operations, including those of the Coast Guard, to prevent failures like lack of coordination between the Navy and the Coast Guard, as on 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

The Indian Navy will create a new force called the Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB) to protect Naval bases and border the coastline areas. SPB will comprise of 1000 personnel and will have 80 fast interception crafts for sea front patrolling, Antony told reporters.

“This eliminates the possibility of any blame game such as the one witnessed between the Navy and the Coast Guard after 26/11.... We are also setting up joint operations centers under the Navy in Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam, Kochi and Port Blair,” Antony said.

Antony said the government has taken a number of steps to strengthen maritime security agencies like the Navy and the Coast Guard by increasing their assets like manpower, ships, boats, helicopters, aircrafts, boats, etc. The Union Defence minister said the government has approved setting up of nine additional Coast Guard stations. These stations are to be located at Karwar, Ratnagiri, Vadinar, Gopalpur, Minicoy, Androth, Karaikal, Hutbay and Nizampatnam. A new regional headquarters would also be set up to secure the coastline of Gujarat, he said.

He added, “The tragic incidents that took place at Mumbai have, in fact, shaken the nation. It is our duty to learn from that tragic incident.”

UK nuclear HQ, sensitive military sites under terror threat

Press Trust of India

Monday, March 02, 2009, (London)

Top security experts have warned that Britain's sensitive military sites, including its nuclear defence headquarters, could be under threat from terrorists using Google Earth.

Close-up aerial views of the sensitive military sites including top-secret Naval base with longitude and latitude of the facility in Faslane, Scotland home to the UK's Trident-armed nuclear submarine force are available for free over the Internet.

Two vast Vanguard Class submarines each capable of carrying 16 nuclear missiles can be clearly seen. Apart from the HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane, the Trident Special Area, where nuclear warheads are stored, is clearly revealed.

Fears have been expressed by military top brass that it would make it easy for terrorists to launch accurate mortar or rocket attacks on Britain's nuclear defence HQ using Google Earth.

"A strike on our nuclear capability would cause untold devastation. Terrorists could have a field day, knowing exactly where to aim strikes to cause the maximum devastation, an unnamed top security expert was quoted in The Sun.

The Internet search engine can be used to pinpoint Britain's nuclear crisis HQ in Northwood, North London, MI6s London offices and the SAS training facility in Hereford, the report said.

"If people are really determined to target these sites they can find these images and there is nothing we can do to stop them, an MOD spokesman told the British tabloid. We should be censoring sensitive military sites, not only for the protection of the servicemen and women, but also for the protection of the country, a military source underlined.

DRDO to test-fire BrahMos missile on March 4

PTI | March 02, 2009 | 21:07 IST

After failing to hit the target in the previous test, the Defence Research and Development Organisation is planning to test-fire the Block II version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on March 4.

"We are planning to conduct the second test of the BrahMos Block II version at the Army's test range in Pokharan on March 4 this week," Defence Ministry officials said.

The earlier test of the Indo-Russian joint venture missile was carried out on January 20 where it took off successfully but deviated from its path and landed far away from its target.

Speaking about the earlier problems with the missile, officials claimed that there was a 'small defect' in the software of the homing device of the missile, which they claimed to have rectified for the test this week.

Officials claimed that the technology in the Block II missiles was 'unparallelled' and would help them hit even insignificant targets hidden in cluster of buildings.

"The new seeker is unique and would help us to hit our targets, which are insignificant in terms of size, in a cluster of large buildings. We would be the only nation with this advanced technology," the officials claimed.

The Army has already made it clear to BrahMos Aerospace Corporation that it will induct the supersonic missile's new version only after it proves its capabilities in a series of tests to be conducted in the near future.

DRDO officials claimed that despite the failure of tests, BrahMos would be able to start deliveries of the 240 missiles ordered by the Army, in two years from now as per the original schedule.

The Army has already inducted one regiment of the Block I version of the missile. BrahMos is an Indo-Russian joint venture company with its headquarters in Delhi.

Kohat: Pak Army kills 7 Taliban militants

PTI | March 02, 2009 | 09:12 IST

Seven militants were killed and two others injured when Pakistani security forces used gunship helicopters and artillery to target Taliban positions near Kohat town in the troubled North West Frontier Province today.

The troops also arrested five militants and freed four hostages being held by the Taliban. The operation against the militants was launched at the request of local administration, a security official said.

Several militant hideouts were destroyed in the operation. Local residents said the troops and militants exchanged fire for several hours.

Kohat district is located near the tribal region of Darra Adam Khel, where the Taliban had been active in recent weeks. The Taliban in Darra Adam Khel had kidnapped and executed a Polish engineer after the government refused to accede to their demand to release some 60 arrested militants.

During the operation, the security forces also detained former lawmaker Mufti Ibrar Sultan, who belongs to the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, for a few hours. He was freed after his party threatened to stage a protest, the official said.

Singapore defence chief to hold talks on expanding military ties

3 Mar 2009, 0301 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: India and Singapore, after signing pacts which allow the armed forces of the latter to train here, are all set to further expand their bilateral military ties.

Visiting chief of the defence forces of Singapore, Lt-General Desmond Kuek, will hold discussions with Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, also chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, among others, on Tuesday to discuss ways to bolster military cooperation between the two countries.

Under the bilateral five-year agreements, India will be a regular host for the training of Singapore's small but high-tech armed forces. Singapore, in turn, will pay for access to Indian military training facilities and even keep some of its military equipment here on a permanent basis now.

The facilities for joint military training and exercises to Singapore's Army is at the Babina (tank) and Deolali (artillery) ranges, while the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal hosts its Air Force.

Incidentally, Singapore has signed similar agreements for training facilities with countries like US, France, Australia, Thailand and Taiwan since it simply does not have the land and airspace for its armed forces to engage in large-scale exercises.

The expanding defence cooperation with Singapore, of course, ties in perfectly with India's "Look East'' policy and the strategy to build stronger military linkages in the Asia-Pacific region to counter China.,prtpage-1.cms

Air Marshal Naresh Verma takes over charge (UPDATED)

Air Marshal Naresh Verma AVSM VSM has taken over as the first ever Director General (Administration) at Air Headquarters, Vayu Bhawan, New Delhi today.
He will be looking after the land and infrastructural development, Org and Ceremonials, Sports and Adventure as well as Air Force Schools.

Navy in-charge
Mumbai attack spurs the decision

THE government’s decision to restructure the country’s coastal security by assigning the Navy the sole responsibility of overall maritime security is a step in the right direction. This measure has been necessitated following the surreptitious landing of terrorists in rubber dinghies from Pakistan in the heart of Mumbai’s busy waterfront, which went completely undetected by both the Navy and the Coast Guard and resulted in the 26/11 massacre. This measure follows the tabling of a Parliamentary Standing Committee report rightly criticising the government for lack of coordination between the Navy and the Coast Guard that led to the national tragedy.

The Navy has been declared the “designated authority” responsible for overall maritime security with both coastal and offshore security under its control. The Coast Guard has been placed under the overall command of the Navy. The state maritime police forces and other Central and state agencies for the nation’s coastal defence will also be expected to assist the Navy in its task all along the coast. The three heads of the Western, Eastern and Southern commands will also be designated commanders-in-chief of coastal defence of their respective jurisdiction. The restructuring will also involve placing the entire assets of the Coast Guard under the Navy, establishing a national command, control, communication and intelligence network by linking the operations rooms of the two services, and augmenting their force levels and surveillance capabilities.

In the past, piece-meal measures have not helped. Following the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, the Navy embarked on a major surveillance and patrolling exercise named Operation Swan. Yet, in November last year, this ongoing operation did not stop terrorists from entering Mumbai from the sea-front and that too within a short distance of India’s naval base which accounts for most of India’s top-of-the-line naval assets and not far from nuclear establishments. Welcome as it is, this decision alone may not be sufficient. Despite India’s long history of security threats and engagements, inter-agency coordination has been a major problem whether in fighting insurgency or in intelligence sharing. The government needs to also consider establishing an agency to coordinate with Central government organisations such as the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the departments of shipping and fisheries to guard the security of a daunting 7,516-km coastline, a 2.01 million sq km exclusive economic zone and two major archipelagos comprising 1,200 islands.

Boosting defence
Time to make the Army lean and mean
by Premvir Das

FOR many years, several defence analysts have been bemoaning the poor allocations made by the government for maintaining armed power consistent with the nation’s needs and responsibilities. There has been a vociferous demand for providing at least 3 per cent of the GDP for defence, not a great improvement over the trend visible over the last several years of figures hovering around 2 per cent but still something better than the amount presently being allocated.

There are many arguments in support of this contention; none have carried weight with the decision-makers, possibly because other compulsions are more important.

Reduction, if not elimination of poverty, enhancing education, health care, housing and infrastructure, subsidies for weaker sections of society must also be weighing heavily, correctly so, on the minds of those who are charged with the destiny of the country.

What needs to be debated is why we are unable to do what we want with the money that is made available; the question of getting more can arise only thereafter.

For the year about to end, 2008-09, the Finance Minister, in his budget presented in February 2008, provided Rs 100,000 crore for defence, Rs 52,000 crore for maintenance or revenue expenditure and Rs 48,000 crore for modernisation or capital expenditure, promising more for the latter, if the need arose.

As the year draws to a close, we find that the total figure has come to Rs 114,000 crore but alas, expenditure on revenue (non-productive) is up by nearly Rs 22,000 crore while capital is down by Rs 7,000 crore.

Therefore, from 48 per cent of the allocation originally made for the purpose, expenditure on modernisation is down to 36 per cent.

This is clearly unacceptable because if revenue expenditure continues to consume the bulk of allocations, the required military power can never be created.

All hopes generated by the budget allocations made a year ago have, thus, been eaten up, literally. Arguments that several schemes estimated to be finalised during the year have not materialised or got delayed must be unacceptable. There must be accountability, both of civil and military officials, for the amount lapsing, rather than the lame reiteration of ‘systemic failure’.

The defence allocations made by Mr Pranab Mukherjee for 2009-10 arouse little enthusiasm. As a percentage of GDP, they continue to hover around 2 per cent but more important, the capital grant, at Rs 58,700 crore in a total budget of Rs 142,000 crore, amounts to 41 per cent and if we take away from it Rs 7,000 crore lapsed from the previous year, being carried forward, the real share is again, you guessed it 36 per cent.

With this kind of sharing between revenue and capital, the armed forces can never be modernised adequately because new additions will continuously be overwhelmed by deletions of platforms and equipment that have become obsolete.

So even as there is demand for a greater share of the allocation, something unlikely to be met by this government or any other of whatever hue, given the huge challenges posed by other segments, it is essential that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and this includes all its wings — Armed Forces Headquarters, Finance, Production and Research and Development — gets its act together.

Numerous committees have looked at the entirety of issues in every sector in depth over the last few years and made recommendations that are so obvious and reasonable that they need not even have been made, but all have failed to move the elephantine behemoth that goes by the name of MOD, of which the armed forces are an integral part, at least in name.

The reasons given are all too familiar, projects geting delayed over which MOD has no control, procurement is a sensitive issue and with Vigilance people around, nobody wants to risk his or her neck out, political “interest” in high-value acquisitions for which negotiations take their own time, changing requirements of the Services; the list can go on and on.

But the bottomline is that all lapses of funds must merit an immediate critical inquiry and the great majority of them must result in disciplinary action at a reasonably high level, at least of Joint Secretary or equivalent.

In fact, a committee consisting of former senior officials, civil and military, should be constituted which will be able to analyse each case of delay impartially and objectively. This may appear harsh but we have been soft for too long and this, more than inadequate allocation of funds, has resulted in the continuing degradation of military preparedness.

An equally important aspect relates to the proportion in which funds are allocated among the three wings of the armed forces. Only the most naïve will be satisfied with the shape of our Army, which continues to operate as a World War II relic, complete with its commands, corps, divisions, et al.

There has been little effort to restructure this monstrous entity into smaller, more coherent and more mobile entities. This is the need of modern war fighting and all credible armies are making this transformation. Unless this is done, our Army can never become the powerful weapon that it needs to be.

Concurrently, the Air and Naval components need to be strengthened; they are the wings which will facilitate our involvement in the extended neighbourhood, the zone of our strategic interest. These two Services, between them, need to get half of the Defence allocation which means that the Army has to be “rightsized” to become lean and mean. The integration of the three wings under a common superior, call him Chairman, Joint Chiefs or whatever, is a pre-requisite for optimum development and configuration of the armed forces—living in a military mode that is seven decades old — is not going to help either the military itself or the country.

So, if our defence preparedness is in distress, it is not just because enough resources are not being made available. It is a combination of many elements and no time must be lost in getting the weaknesses put right.

A strong leadership, especially at the political level, is needed to bring in change. Otherwise, the continuing degradation of the nation’s military capability can only compromise one of the most crucial constituents of national power.

The writer is a former Director General, Defence Planning Staff.

Bangla aftershocks: BDR revolt rattles BSF brass

Pragya Paramita Posted: Mar 03, 2009 at 0219 hrs

Kolkata The last week’s mutiny by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) jawans has forced the senior officers of its Indian counterpart, the Border Security Force (BSF), to sit up and take note of the problems its jawans face in the line of duty.

Though officers said there was nothing to fear, they pointed out the disparity in pay and working conditions between the Army and the BSF, which forms the country’s first line of defence.

“We have a very strong system and while one can never say with certainty that something similar will never happen here, we have faith in our jawans as they share a healthy relationship with the officers,” said a senior BSF officer who did not wish to be named.

He said besides holding games like football and volleyball between the jawans and officers to build a sense of camaraderie between them, there is also a practice of “vertical interaction”, where everyone, from the IG down the line, including the group-D staff, sit down to discuss problems. “Everyone participates in this to discuss the problems they are facing in their work,” he said.

Moreover, the BSF also holds Sainik Sammelans during which senior officers visit the far-flung outposts to have interaction with the jawans. There are also nodal officers at various levels to hear out the grievances of the jawans and address them or to pass them on to higher level.

However, the officer said there are some rumblings within the BSF jawans after the removal of the posts of lance naik and naik by the Fifth Pay Commission.

“Earlier, a jawan was gradually promoted to lance naik and naik before finally becoming a head constable in nearly 20 years. Now, they can directly be promoted to head constable but only after 20 years of duty. Moreover, there is a sharp discrepancy between the pay scales for the BSF and the Army. Even the perks they receive are far less than what the Army men get,” the source said, adding the BSF jawans do not get “peace postings” the jawans in the Army get for three years after a two-year stint at the border. Ramajkrishnan, a former BSF IG (South Bengal Frontier), said, “There is absolutely no family life for the BSF jawans, while the families of the army men get accommodation.

There are not enough schools take care of the educational needs of the children of the jawans.

While an Army battalion has four companies, the BSF one has seven.

There is no proper accommodation for the extra company.” he said.

Army Vice Chief stresses DRDO role

Express News Service Posted: Mar 03, 2009 at 0146 hrs

Pune Increasing threats to the nation had made the role of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) important, and there was a need for more trust between the tri-services and the DRDO, according to Army Vice Chief Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj.

“At a time the nation is facing threats that are dynamic and challenging in nature, the Armed Forces are becoming heavily dependent on the DRDO and its affiliates,” he said.

Speaking as the chief guest at a function at the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), he said, “The need for increased partnership among organisations under the DRDO, the armed forces and the academia cannot be over-emphasised.” The way forward is to have a “genuine, seamless interface,” Thamburaj said, adding there should be more trust between the tri-services and the DRDO.

He also stressed the need for indigenous technology. “We should develop state-of-the-art equipment and not depend on other countries. I would rather lose using Indian weapons than win using those made in other countries. At the same time, we cannot afford to be left behind in wars of the future.”

Elaborating, he said rapid technological advancements had led to a revolution in military affairs that was driven by “the good work of scientists at the DRDO and its affiliates.”

“A democracy such as ours is a soft target for terrorists, and the terrorist of today is difficult to identify or understand. They are often non-state actors — wicked people with no ideology and are anti-mankind. They are not supported by anyone, but sometimes financed by equally warped, wealthy people who indulge in killing innocent people. A soldier fights a soldier, not innocent civilians. Thus, owing to the fear and reality of collateral damage, the armed forces are often hampered when taking on these anti-social elements, he said.

Elaborating on the 21st century warfare, Thamburaj said it would be very different and would constantly change and therefore it was imperative to perceive the future.

“Wars have been lost by armies because they prepared as they did for the last war they fought, not one that will be fought in future,” he said. In future, conflicts will be heavily based on technology such as surveillance and a soldier may not come in direct contact with the enemy, he said.

Earlier, he inaugurated a two-day exhibition on armament products and technologies at the HEMRL, to showcase an array of systems and technologies from various DRDO labs as well as private industry. The defence equipment on display includes the Pinaka missile, Akash missile, 84-mm lightweight launcher and explosive detection kits.

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