Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Sunday, 8 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 08 Mar 09

Asian Age

Telegraph India

Asian Age

Telegraph India

Asian Age

Asian Age

Times of India

Times of India

Times of India

DNA India

Leaders & Misleaders | Kuldip Nayar

One rank, one pension is a fair demand

I do not know who in the establishment is to blame for the mess in the case of the armed forces’ salaries and pensions. Of course, the IAS officers have processed the demand and they are the twice-born service, always ensuring that they remain on top. They knit a net of procedures and precedents so skilfully that others give up in exasperation. But why do our political masters play into their hands? There must be an equation between the two, the reason why Ministers allow the IAS set-up to maul or mutilate any proposal if they decide to do so. In this case, their action is horrifying.

When ordinary soldiers and officers of the rank of lieutenant general want to return their medals won for bravery, they prove that a point has arrived where they have abandoned the hope of getting justice. It is time the nation realised that something is drastically wrong. Something has happened to push them into the domain of despair.

The establishment was not able to belittle the dignity with which hundreds of men from the armed forces surrendered their medals of individual bravery. They assembled at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to express their protest. All that they wanted was one rank, one pension. It was a fair demand which, surprisingly, the Government had spurned.

The other Sunday, the day of Sabbath, as many as 200 retired armymen packed their medals in transparent plastic bags, with their names written on them, put them in three cardboard boxes and sent them to the President of India. They wanted to meet President Pratibha Patil, but she was away in Mumbai. They were not satisfied meeting a deputy secretary. They want to meet the President who, after all, gives away the medals for extraordinary courage and bravery.

I do not think there is anything wrong in the demand for one rank, one pension. A lieutenant general who retired in January 2005 gets a pension of Rs 27,700. An officer holding the same rank but retiring after a year gets Rs 10,000 more — Rs 37,700. For brigadiers, there is a similar anomaly, in this case, Rs 5,000.

I believe that the Congress’ election manifesto in 2004 acknowledged the demand for one rank, one pension. Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee too promised to remove such anomalies. Still, over the years, the disparity has grown. One officer contends that the gap has grown by 82%. The matter came up before Parliament’s Standing Committee when I was retiring from the Rajya Sabha in 2003. I am told that the committee recommended the provision of one rank, one pension. But the Government refused to act. On the one hand, we say the country is safe in the hands of the defence forces and on the other we treat them poorly.

My query to official quarters reveals that the Government is afraid to implement the demand because it may trigger similar claims from other public sector employees. This is not a fair comparison. The armed forces do a hazardous and life-threatening job. Those sitting in secure, cushy seats in air-conditioned rooms cannot even imagine what the front means, whether at peacetime or during war. I do not want to introduce emotional arguments like defence of the motherland etc. Yet, the fact remains that those in the armed forces give their life to help us live in peace. To deny them their due is not right.

I take this opportunity to point to the serious disparities within the defence services. Some 85% of the personnel are from the category that comprises Persons Below Officer Ranks [PBOR]. They are the most neglected lot, because they have preferred not to raise their voice. Rations are free for officers and jawans. But there is a disparity in the quantum. For example, an officer gets 260 gm of meat, while a soldier gets only 110 gm. The Government can at least end such disparities.

The Government has no defence because grievances over salaries, pensions and the armed forces' place in the protocol hierarchy have been piling up for years. Instead of improving their lot, it, or for that matter, the IAS officers have been downgrading them, emolument-wise and status-wise. The last Pay Commission’s recommendations were the proverbial straw on the camel’s back and hence the medals were returned [¼]

Kuldip Nayar is an author and human rights activist

Longest wait for result of fastest missile


The Brahmos missile

New Delhi, March 7: Three days after India’s military scientists tested a missile that they said took 150 seconds to reach its target, India’s army is still evaluating if it hit the bull’s eye in Rajasthan’s Pokhran desert firing range.

By any standard, 72 hours must be one of the longest periods a supersonic missile — which is touted as the world’s fastest — has taken for an evaluation. The Brahmos Mark II is said to be capable of flying at 2.8 mach or nearly 2.8 times the speed of sound.

The US Tomahawk cruise missile, meanwhile, is knocking on India’s door. Its maker, Raytheon Corporation, has contracted orders for the latest Block IV version of the missile to the UK’s Royal Navy.

Raytheon has also made friendly enquiries in India and has offered to make presentations to the Indian armed forces.

Raytheon has earlier sold through government-to-government contracts six Firefinder artillery gun locating radars to India and is currently supplying equipment to India’s navy and air force apart from the army.

The Indian Army began raising a regiment of the Brahmos Mark I in 2007. The latest Mark II version is claimed to be four times faster and twice as heavy as the Tomahawk.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is also developing a Tomahawk clone, a secret project called the Nirbhay that is being prepared by the Advanced Systems Laboratory in Hyderabad. The Nirbhay is due for testing by end-2009.

The defence research establishment suspects that if Wednesday’s test is shown as a failure, competitors stand to gain.

For Sivathanu Pillai, the director of the Brahmos Mark II project, the Indian Army’s tests on the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile are a nailbiter.

Brahmos is an acronym from the words Brahmaputra — India’s largest river — and Moskva — one of Russia’s best-known rivers — and is a joint venture between the DRDO and the NPO Mashinostroynia, the Russian Federal Unitary Enterprise.

A test of the Brahmos Mark II on January 20 went awry in mid-flight after a successful launch, missing the target. That test was witnessed by the Indian army chief, General Deepak Kapoor, among others.

The army was smug and, honestly, not unhappy with the failure.

The scientists concluded that a homing device on the Mark II version had failed and the missile missed the target by inches. Pillai had promised it would be set right within weeks and called for a re-test within a fortnight.

After the test on Wednesday (March 4), when Pillai briefly told a local radio correspondent that the test was a success and since then has gone mum, the standard army line has been “we are evaluating if it has met the general staff quality requirements”. The response from the Brahmos project team has been “you will have to ask the army”.

The army team at Wednesday’s test was led by the deputy chief of army staff (planning and systems), Lt Gen Madan. The parameters of the tests have not been made known but two of these are obvious.

First, whether it has hit the target, the bull’s eye, or not.

Second, because it is a cruise missile, whether it has performed an “S” manoeuvre to be able to evade an interceptor.

“We need to study every aspect,” said a senior army officer. “A series of tests have to be performed before we place an order worth Rs 10,000 crore,” he said.

In the 72 hours and more since the test, India’s defence research establishment is still sure about the speed of its missile but is less than sure about the pace of deployment.

Is Pakistan a failed state?

Pakistan is a failed state because it was created on the wrong belief that mere religious homogeneity among people is enough to keep a nation united. As long as the army has a say in governance, democracy can never take roots in Pakistan..

CJ: R. Venkatesan Iyengar , 1 day ago Views:276 Comments:2

THE NATION-STATE of Pakistan was born out of two beliefs, both equally wrong. One, Muslims can live the life of a believer in Quran only in an Islamic state. Two, Muslims, as minorities, cannot expect equality in an independent India dominated by Hindus. The partition seed sown by Muslim poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal, in his writings and in his presidential address to the All India Muslim League, in 1930, sprouted and grew along with undivided India’s freedom movement.

Bowing to the wishes of Jinnah-led Muslim League, the British government partitioned India into two nations and gave them independence in the midnight hour between August 14 and 15, 1947. Thus, Iqbal’s dream of an independent state for Muslims comprising the Muslim-majority provinces in northwestern and northeastern India came into being.

In other words, the creation of Pakistan was based on the belief that Muslim identity is sufficient to keep a nation together and Muslims can live peacefully only under an Islamic dispensation. However, the sorry state that Pakistan finds itself in shows why such a belief is wrong. In fact, Pakistan is one good example that mere religious homogeneity among people cannot keep a nation united for long.

While Iqbal and Jinnah looked at the Muslim identity, they failed to take into account the cultural, linguistic and group identities of people. In other words, diverse and assorted clans, tribes, and linguistic and cultural groups that had nothing in common except for their affiliation to Islam came together to create an Islamic nation called Pakistan.

True, like India – which too has a huge population that belongs to different religious, linguistic and caste groups – Pakistan also could have emerged as a strong and vibrant democracy if it had taken efforts to build its democratic institutions to give power to the people and create in them a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, Pakistan did no such thing and instead chose to sustain itself as a republic-democracy on its Islamic identity and to a large extent on anti-India feelings.

Also, unlike in India, where secular leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and others made efforts to take every caste, and religious and linguistic group along, Pakistan did nothing to unite the diverse clans and groups present on its soil. The reason for this could be the untimely death of its founding father Jinnah, who was secular in his outlook. If Jinnah had lived for another 20-25 years after independence, like Nehru, perhaps Pakistan would have emerged as a mature democracy. But that was not to be.

Result? East Pakistan split from Pakistan and became Bangladesh, in 1971, largely because the West Pakistanis had no time or concern for the Muslims in the eastern wing. The formation of the Karachi-based political party Muhajir Qaumi Movement (later renamed Muttahida Qaumi Movement) in the early 1980s to represent Urdu-speaking Muslims, who migrated from India to Pakistan in 1947, showed how mere Islamic identity had not got the immigrants equality. And, the four provinces bordering Afghanistan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have all along remained a part of Pakistan only on its map, but in reality have been administered by the tribal elders. There have been sectarian clashes between Sunnis and Shias.

The political situation in the Pakistani mainland has been no better. Even a cursory glance at the political history of Pakistan would reveal that the country was ruled by military presidents for about 36 years in its 60 years of independence (1958–71, 1977–88 and from 1999–2008)! In such a setup, democracy could never bud and take root.

The successive military rulers of Pakistan did all that they could to hang on to power at the cost of political parties and democratic intuitions, which has today made Pakistan dependent on its army for even remaining as a single entity.

In other words, Pakistan is in a Catch-22 situation. If you remove the Pakistani army from the picture, Pakistan will fall apart, for the tribal and clan loyalty of people is much stronger than their Islamic identity. But as long as the army has a say in governance, democracy can never take roots in Pakistan.

That brings us to the question whether Pakistan is a failed state. It is. However, it can become a success as a nation-state if it realises that building democratic institutions that give power to people is more important than harping on the Islamic identity.

Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as a “modern, moderate and very enlightened” state is possible only if the Pakistani people are allowed to have a say in how the country should be run.

Let's Move Beyond Burden of History,
Resolve Kashmir: Musharraf

New Delhi
Making a pitch for lasting peace between India and Pakistan, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf Saturday asked the leadership of the two countries "to overcome the burden of history" by grasping the "fleeting opportunity" to resolve key disputes like Kashmir.

Calling for "an attitudinal change" among people and the governments for better relations, he exhorted the two countries to "move beyond the burden of history" and jointly combat common problems like extremism and terrorism.

"We must overcome the burden of history and move forward. The path of peace is the right course to adapt for India, Pakistan, the region and the world," Musharraf said.

Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan for nine years, was speaking on "Challenge of Change" at a conclave organized here by the India Today news magazine.

"We have to resolve Kashmir. Kashmir remains a key dispute. The resolution of dispute means give and take," Musharraf said.

"The political leaderships of both countries must grasp the fleeting opportunity and bring peace to the region. These opportunities are not going to be there all the time," he said.

Linking the festering Kashmir dispute with terrorism, he said: "There is an emotional involvement of Pakistan people with people of Kashmir. Therefore, this has given rise to dozens of freelance mujahideen groups and increasing militancy in Pakistan society.

"It certainly needs to be controlled but the task of controlling these groups is very difficult and dispute resolution is the only permanent solution. We must go for it," he said. "We have to show the courage to reconcile and compromise."

"We should also address the core issues of terrorism and extremism together. We have to have a clear and realistic understanding of the root causes of terrorism. Addressing the root causes of terrorism holds the key," he said.

"We have to adopt a holistic approach to eliminating terrorism and extremism.

"We should have the courage and wisdom to write a new chapter in peace and mutually beneficial cooperation. Pakistan can't be coerced; they can't live with coercion. India has to show magnanimity and humility. One can't be a large country with a small heart," he said.

"We must stop meddling in each other and we should start back channel.

"I stand for peace, for the sake of the whole world which considers our region a nuclear flashpoint. I stand for peace in the South Asian region where progress and development is tied to harmony between India and Pakistan," he said.

"I stand for peace for the sake of our future generations to whom we owe a better life and a better environment," he said.

Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf Saturday accused India of whipping up war hysteria after the Mumbai terrorist attacks and asked the intelligence agencies of both countries to stop the path of confrontation for the sake of peace in the subcontinent

"Both ISI (Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence) and RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) must stop their confrontationist path. Your RAW does exactly what ISI does," he said in his characteristically blunt remarks.

He was addressing a conclave organized here by the India Today magazine.

"The past has been dirty. But we should stop the blame game and move beyond history," he said. "We must have done tremendous damage to each other."

Pointing to the curse of extremism and terrorism that afflict both countries, Musharraf said he has come to India to prove a point that extremists will not be allowed to create obstacles in the path of peace between the two countries.

"I was advised against coming to India and against the negative reaction of extremists on both sides. I came here to prove a point that extremists must not have their way," he said.

"We the moderates must stand for the resolution of all disputes and issues between them. We must not allow extremists to create obstacles in the path of peace," he stressed.

Musharraf's presidential tenure saw the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 that brought the two countries on the brink of a war. However, the second half of his tenure saw the resumption of the peace process and the launch of new cross-border bus and train links.

US drone shot down in Pakistan: Officials

Press Trust of India

Saturday, March 07, 2009, (Islamabad)

A US drone was shot down by the Taliban militants in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan, officials and residents said on Saturday.

The drone crashed in Angoor Adda area of South Waziristan, which has witnessed several missile strikes by pilotless aircraft as well as an incursion last year by US-led coalition forces from Afghanistan.

Officials of the local administration and residents told reporters that the drone, which was flying at a low altitude, was shot down by militants.

Officials said they were searching the area for the drone's wreckage.

However, military sources told TV channels that the drone could have crashed because of technical defects.

Chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said the reports about the drone crash were being investigated.

A drone had crashed near Angoor Adda in September last year.

Musharaff accuses India of fomenting trouble in Pak


ADVISING MEDIA: He was addressing a conclave organised by the India Today magazine.

New Delhi: Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf Saturday accused India of whipping up war hysteria after the Mumbai terrorist attacks and asked the intelligence agencies of both countries to stop the path of confrontation for the sake of peace in the subcontinent.

"Both ISI (Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence) and RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) must stop their confrontationist path. Your RAW does exactly what ISI does," he said in his characteristically blunt remarks.

He was addressing a conclave organised by the India Today magazine.

"The past has been dirty. But we should stop the blame game and move beyond history," he said. "We must have done tremendous damage to each other."

He accused India of whipping up mass hysteria after the Mumbai attacks and for targeting the Pakistani Army and the ISI for extremism in the region.

"Let's address issues and disputes with a new approach," he said.

Calling for "an attitudinal change" among people and the governments for better relations, Musharraf exhorted the two countries to "move beyond the burden of history" and jointly combat common problems like extremism and terrorism.

U.S. Army document describes Israel as 'a nuclear power'

By Amir Oren

In a rare breach of official American adherence to Israel's policy of nuclear ambiguity, the U.S. military is terming Israel "a nuclear power" on a par with Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea, all of which have declared their nuclear weapon status, and ahead of "nuclear threshold powers" Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, and the "emerging" Iran.

The reference to Israel as a nuclear power is contained in a document published late last year by the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), the Norfolk, Virginia-based headquarters in charge of preparing American forces for their military missions worldwide, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. JFCOM's chief, U.S. Marine Corps Four-Star General James Mattis, also heads NATO's Allied Command Transformation.

Israel's nuclear program is rarely, if ever, explicitly mentioned in public, unclassified U.S. official documents. Classified assessments are usually published only years later, in response to Freedom of Information requests, in former officials' recollections or as part of historical research. It is virtually unheard of for a senior military commander, while in office, to refer to Israel's nuclear status.

In December 2006, during his confirmation hearings as Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates referred to Israel as one of the powers seen by Iran as surrounding it with nuclear weapons. But once in office, Gates refused to repeat this allusion to Israel, noting that when he used it he was "a private citizen."

JFCOM's "Joint Operating Environment" (JOE) document, with a forward by Mattis and drafted by a team of officers and civilians he selected, was signed in mid-November 2008 and posted on the Pentagon's Web site. It has generated protests by the governments of Mexico - whose potential collapse is depicted as a grave threat to U.S. national security - and South Korea, which resented the reference to North Korea as a nuclear power. Following the Korean controversy, JFCOM issued a clarification, noting that this reference does not reflect U.S. government policy, which has vowed never to accept North Korea as a nuclear power.

Asian arsenals

Regarding Israel, the JOE document warns of the danger of nuclear exchanges between countries in and around Asia. It notes that India and Pakistan have nuclear arsenals and delivery systems, that North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon and has enough fissile material to produce more nuclear weapons, and that Iran is "driving forward aggressively" toward its nuclear goals, unchecked by the international community's "confused reaction." This could serve as a proliferation incentive for other countries, the document warns.

"In effect," the document continues, "there is a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India and on to China, North Korea and Russia in the east. Unfortunately, that nuclear arc coincides with areas of considerable instability [which] are of enormous interest to the United States."

General Mattis, a tough, thinking marine with several friends in the Israel Defense Forces, including a former military college classmate (retired Major-General Shai Avital, a former commanding officer of the Sayeret Matkal commando unit), conferred with Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi in NATO's Brussels headquarters last November, within days of signing the JOE document.

Mattis condemned the U.S. Air Force's "Effects Based Operations" approach to warfare, as employed by the IDF in the Second Lebanon War of 2006, citing lessons learned reported by IDF officers "in a very blunt way," as he recalled in a Washington speech last month. He praised the courage shown by Israeli soldiers, but noted that being brave is not enough to stop a rocket-propelled grenade.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal