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Saturday, 4 April 2009

From Today's Papers - 04 Apr 09

Who the army's voting for

Priya Ramani - Friday, April 03, 2009 4:48 PM

This morning's Hindustan Times had a great story on how the army is getting ready to vote for its rights. The article said the army has directed all formations across the country to vote and to get their families to vote. The newspaper estimates the number of army personnel, along with their families and ex-servicemen at around one crore people. "Enough to turn the tide in the electoral battlefield," the newspaper says.

The army, angry about the government's refusal to tackle its longstanding one-rank-one-pension demand, is going all out to ensure the next government will be one who listens to it. No surprise then that the BJP's just out election manifesto is full of goodies for the Indian defence forces.

LK Advani had already promised earlier this month that he would reexamine the army's demand and sort out the one-rank-one-pension issue.

In addition, the manifesto has more promises:

The Indian Army, Air Force and Navy need to be strengthened in view of rapidly changing regional and global realities. Tragically, the services have been ignored by the Congress and failure to address the concerns of the Army, Air Force and Navy has bred undesirable discontent. The BJP will address all pending issues immediately. It will be guided by the following solemn commitments while dealing with the defence of India:

1. The long-pending acquisition of military hardware will be expedited through absolutely transparent means in a time-bound manner.

2. Budget allocations for defence forces will be spent without being allowed to lapse. The criminal negligence of the defence forces by the UPA Government has resulted in nearly Rs 24,000 crore by way of budgetary allocations being allowed to lapse over five years. This not only endangers the lives of our soldiers but also the security of the nation.

3. Our forces are performing a service to the nation and deserve better pay and privileges.

Towards this end, the BJP is committed to the following measures: a. The pending issues of pay and privileges will be revisited and resolved to the satisfaction of the defence forces. The modalities for setting up a separate Pay Commission for the forces will be expedited; b. All personnel of the Army, Air Force and Navy, as also paramilitary forces, will be exempt from paying income tax on their salaries and perquisites; c. The honorarium for winners of gallantry awards like Pram Vir Chakra, which is abysmally low at Rs 500 to Rs 3,000, will be increased ten-fold to Rs 5,000 to Rs 30,000. This will be done with retrospective effect; the honorarium will be tax free. d. The principle of one rank, one pension will be implemented; e. Incentive-based steps will be taken to make joining the defence services an exciting proposition for young men and women to overcome the shortage of officers; and, f. Incentives will be offered to State Governments for ensuring honourable settlement of retired personnel of the defence services.

4. The present shortage of defence personnel at all levels will be met by making the Services an attractive career option. This would include competitive pay and privileges, and pension benefits. This task will be completed in a time-bound manner. 5. The capacities of Defence Research and Development Organisation will be enhanced. The PPP route will be explored for conventional defence production bearing in mind the nation's needs and to make India a competitive player in the global market by 2020.

No prizes for guess who those one crore people will be voting for.

http://blogs.livemint.com/blogs/mint_manifesto/archive/2009/04/03/who-the-army-s-voting-for.aspx










India's pre-condition a step backward: Pak

NDTV Correspondent
Friday, April 03, 2009 4:11 PM (Islamabad)

India's pre-condition for resumption of dialogue is a step backwards, Pakistan said reacting to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement.

Pakistan has said that it is cooperating in the 26/11 investigations.

The Prime Minister on Friday delivered a blunt and tough message to Pakistan saying that that there is no question of resuming talks with Pakistan till it punishes the perpetrators of 26/11.

"We have always said that we are willing to discuss all outstanding issues, but let me say that these relations and discussions cannot proceed if hundreds of people, as happened in Mumbai, are being killed. Therefore, Pakistan has that opportunity to ensure to the world that it is absolutely sincere in its statements that its territory won't be used for terror acts directed against India. This is the minimum for any discussions between India and Pakistan," Manmohan Singh said.

The Prime Minister also made it clear in tough language to President Obama and Pakistan in tough language there won't be no talks with Islamabad till it brings the 26/11 perpetrators to justice.

The Prime Minister had his first meeting with the US President Barack Obama at G20 summit in London, following which he gave the statement.

http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/mumbaiterrorstrike/Story.aspx?ID=NEWEN20090089612&type=News






Missile Man pierces army apathy
How a tenacious technocrat put the supersonic BrahMos back on track

New Delhi, April 3: India can stake claim to be among the first in the world to be ready with a supersonic land-attack cruise missile because of the tenacity of an unheralded Missile Man whose pet project was almost written off for aiming too high.

Sivathanu Pillai, a technocrat whose bald pate is not covered by berets, whose chest is bereft of medals and shoulders of epaulettes, dared the Indian Army by claiming he would arm its artillery divisions with a missile the world had not seen.

The army is led by an artillery officer, General Deepak Kapoor, who wanted to see this wonder weapon himself.

So he led a team to the Pokharan desert range on January 20. The general witnessed the dismal failure of the BrahMos Mark II personally.

Yet, in the space of just over two months, Pillai produced a missile — a supersonic cruise missile for the army — through three rapid-fire tests that left the generals gasping for its uniqueness, for its speed and for Pillai’s sheer grit.

Pillai has made the BrahMos Land Attack Cruise Missile Mark II real despite opposition from the Indian Army that kept upping its demands and reducing the size of the targets in the tests.

The first target was the size of a factory, the second, also a factory the size of a large building and the third, a small building in a simulated urban cluster. The missile was tasked to hit the factory in the first two tests. In the third test, it was to discriminate, select and choose its target before destroying it.

Pillai’s BrahMos missed the first. The mission was aborted after the missile went off-target mid-course despite a successful launch on January 20 when the army chief was witness.

After the second test, on March 4, seen by deputy army chief Lt Gen M.S. Dadwal, Pillai said it was a success but the army said it was “evaluating and analysing” the results even three days after the test.

“The missile was in the target area all right,” Gen Kapoor said of the test. “But there has been one failure (on January 20) so we need confirmation and there are some technical issues.”

Then on March 29 — just last week — Pillai requested the army to send a team to witness another test. The director general of military operations, Lt Gen A.S. Sekhon, led a team.

This time, the army put up just a sheet as a target with reflectors on two sides to deflect the missile from its trajectory.

Pillai’s BrahMos hit bull’s eye. Without waiting for official word from the army this time, Pillai went public, proclaiming its success.

“In 15 minutes flat,” he put it simply in his chamber inside the headquarters of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in an interview to The Telegraph, “your enemy country can be destroyed and you do not even have to go nuclear.”

Pillai is the chief executive officer and the head of the Indo-Russian BrahMos, an acronym from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers. He is also the chief controller for armaments, land and naval systems in the DRDO.

“In the Iraq war, the US launched 1,000 Tomahawks in half a day,” he recalled. “You have to think on that scale. And the BrahMos is supersonic. It cannot be intercepted. Even we cannot do anything to it, once we launch it. Fire and forget. You think of the missile in hundreds, thousands, like you think of many, many arrows being fired from a quiver,” he said.

Two other known supersonic land-attack cruise missiles under development are the Fasthawk, made by Boeing in the US, and the French ANS. China also has a supersonic missile programme.

The BrahMos is ready.

Then why did the Indian Army open itself to suggestions that it was not keen on the project? Clear-cut answers won’t be available to such questions. But the army has been seeing demonstrations of missiles by Raytheon Corporation. A section of the army’s artillery officers has been impressed by it.

A piece of history that DRDO’s scientists are familiar with was in danger of being repeated: was another indigenous, rather, a semi-indigenous military programme going to be sacrificed in the interest of imports? And to the benefit of middlemen who would earn fat commissions? All in the name of national security? And national interest?

But this week — soon after Pillai’s third test — the vice-chief of army staff, Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj, announced at a seminar: “The BrahMos Mark II is ready for induction. The missile’s accuracy, lethality and range have made it a deadly combination.”

The army is now ready to raise two regiments of the BrahMos Mark II.


http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090404/jsp/frontpage/story_10772683.jsp#




CIA chief's visit to India to institutionalize intel cooperation

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | April 04, 2009 | 04:07 IST

The decision by the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon Panetta who chose India for his first� overseas trip--unprecedented in the annals of the spy agency's history-- was deliberate and intended to sustain the momentum and institutionalize the unprecedented intelligence cooperation between Washington and New Delhi that began in the aftermath of the horrific 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, say intelligence officials.

Panetta visited India from March 18 to 20 even before he went over to Pakistan and met with Home Minister P Chidambaram, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and the new heads of the Research� & Analysis Wing and the Intelligence Bureau K C Verma and Rajiv Mathur respectively.

The intelligence officials told rediff.com that preceding the Mumbai terror attacks, although there had been some cooperation and sharing of intelligence between the US and India, "on an operational level, the level of cooperation of the intelligence services on both sides were far from satisfactory."

"Neither side, for whatever reasons, were prepared to take the kinds of steps that you see for instance routinely between the United States and Britain or the United States and Japan, or even between the US and Jordan," these officials acknowledged. "And, of course there were all these mutual suspicions."

But, the officials explained how "all this changed after Mumbai and things went to a different level. There was a level of operational confidence and cooperation that occurred after Mumbai that anything that had taken place previously."

Thus, according to the officials, "The DCI (Director of Central Intelligence) by going to India first wanted to clearly convey a message (that the US was looking towards operational cooperation with India) and to reaffirm his support for that improvement in cooperation."

In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, it was reported in The Washington Post that the CIA had "orchestrated back-channel intelligence exchanges between India and Pakistan," allowing both countries to "quietly share highly sensitive evidence while the Americans served as neutral arbiters."

The report said that the exchanges, "gradually helped the two sides overcome mutual suspicions and paved the way for Islamabad's announcement," in early February that the conspiracy and planning of the attack had been launched in Pakistan.

But the intelligence officials told rediff.com that it was not so much the sharing of information by Pakistani intelligence, as it was the FBI and CIA confronting Pakistani with irrefutable communication intercepts and physical evidence that these agencies had collected on its own as well as in concert with Indian intelligence that forced Islamabad to acknowledge that some of the planning had occurred on Pakistani soil because it was faced with a fait accompli.

Former CIA analyst Lisa Curtis, currently a senior fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation, who heads up the think tank's South Asia Program, who has consistently urged for closer intelligence cooperation between the US and India, said she was extremely pleased that Panetta had made India his first stop and argued that it signaled something that went beyond mere symbolism and clear indication a desire by the US to institutionalize and operationalize this intelligence relationship.

Just two days after the Mumbai terror attacks, Curtis lamented� in a report titled "India Terror Attacks Point to Need for Stronger US-India Counterterrorism Cooperation," that "despite their agreement on the need to aggressively contain terrorist threats, Washington and New Delhi have failed in the past to work as closely as they could to minimize terrorist threats." She wrote that "this failure is largely the result of divergent geo-strategic perceptions, Indian reticence to deepen the intelligence relationship, and US bureaucratic resistance toward elevating counterterrorism cooperation beyond a certain level." But Curtis argued in her paper that "the gravity of the threat posed to both countries from terrorists in the region require New Delhi and Washington to overcome past suspicions and recognize that they both stand to gain considerably from stepping up their cooperation."

In an interview with rediff.com, Curtis hailing Panetta's decision to visit India first and signal the Obama Administration's desire to institutionalize and operationalize US-India intelligence cooperation, said US officials had told her that "the attacks in Mumbai has shaken loose some of these mistrust issues and bureaucratic obstacles and have led to a really fulsome dialogue and actual cooperation."

"The DCI's visit shows the importance that the US now attaches to its relationship with India, more broadly but specifically in the area of counterterrorism. And, it also shows how concerned the US is about the situation in Pakistan and hence its desire to have a more robust dialogue with India," she said, and added, "because India would be the most impacted by events spiraling downward in Pakistan."

Curtis said, "Also, it comes out of practical issues, which is that the greatest concern in terms of US security lies in South Asia, and particularly in Pakistan, and thus the need to consult mostly with India on these concerns�and after Mumbai, a desire to support India in its counterterrorism efforts, but also to share lessons learned and to share US' own lessons learned from the 9/11 attacks and to create a more productive relationship with India."

"So, this is really the driver behind his (Panetta) making India his first visit," she said.

Curtis said that in the past several years, despite the progress on the US-India civilian nuclear deal, "which was a major breakthrough in establishing trust on the nuclear issue specifically, what I saw was that we hadn't really made the counterterrorism relationship all that it could be."

"We really had failed to establish the kind of trust in tactical and strategic cooperation in this area, despite the fact that we have the same concerns and the urgency of our concerns, at the same level," she said. "We had failed to exploit the opportunities that are available and to deal with the issue and commensurate to the level of urgency both countries have in seeing the terrorist threat dealt with."

She acknowledged that much of it was also fueled by Indian paranoia over the CIA's ties with the ISI that had been formed in the wake of the erstwhile Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, and New Delhi perhaps felt that intelligence sharing or even close cooperation with the CIA could lead to leaks to the ISI.

Even events over the past few years like India being convinced that it was the CIA who ferreted out a senior RAW official, who had been a US agent and transplanted him in the US as well as other such incidents with lower ranked Indian intelligence operatives had further compounded New Delhi's concerns over close links let along cooperation with the CIA.

"Certainly that contributed to the distrust between our two governments," Curtis agreed. "But events over the summer, particularly following the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul and the fact that the US shared information with Indian intelligence even before the attack warning that they had picked up information that something was coming up�even though unfortunately there wasn't enough information to prevent it," had led to the developing of trust between the CIA and Indian intelligence.

What catalyzed this even more, she said was the US acknowledgement that "there was an ISI connection to this bombing--although it was not clear at what level�also contributed to India's recognizing that the US was now much more aware and recognized that there is still a problem within the ISI and its connection to extremism."

Moreso, that Washington was now "more willing to call a spade a spade and recognize that even publicly. So, all this helped to inspire some confidence within India that the US was looking more realistically at the challenge in Pakistan."

Other intelligence officials also told rediff.com that there was also a vested interest behind the CIA's efforts to both solidify and operationalize its intelligence cooperation with India in that its links and trust of the ISI "has eroded to a extent," in the wake of some high value al Qaeda targets escaping just before US attacks that had led to US intelligence being convinced that they had been tipped off by some elements within the ISI.

These officials said that Panetta who had visited Pakistan after his visit to India to meet with senior Pakistani military and intelligence officials was intent on restoring this trust and confidence "and ultimately the best case scenario is for US, Pakistani and Indian intelligence to work cooperatively together to combat the common threat of terrorism in the region.
http://news.rediff.com/report/2009/apr/04/mumterror-cia-chief-visit-to-institutionalize-intelligence-cooperation.htm





The world can't afford a failed Pak: Powell

PTI | April 03, 2009 | 15:03 IST

Pakistan cannot be allowed to disintegrate into a failed state as it will be a risk to Europe and the rest of the world, former US chief of defence staff, General Colin Powell has said.

"It's a risk to Europe, it's a risk to the rest of the world, because we cannot allow al Qaeda to grow in an environment of chaos in that part of the world," Powell, the former US secretary of state said.

Implying that if Pakistan failed, so will Afghanistan, Powell said: "We can't allow Pakistan to fail and we don't want Afghanistan to fail".

Hoping that the NATO and European allies of the US would understand the risk involved and support Obama Administration in winning the war against terror in the region, Powell Powell told MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" that Pakistan as a "sanctuary" for Taliban cannot be allowed.

"If Pakistan remains a sanctuary, a place where Al Qaeda and the Taliban can regroup and get recruits, that isn't going to solve the problem. American troops aren't going to go into Pakistan. We have to work with the Pakistanis so they can bring that problem under control," Powell said.

Powell, however, did not agree with Hillary Clinton's argument that all the financial aid that went to Afghanistan during the Bush regime was wasted.

"I can't agree with her that it was wasted and the characterisation that was made that it was all wasted. Roads were built. Schools were built. A government was created. A military force was created. It needs to be made much larger, but there is a military force there now; a police force, which has problems but, nevertheless, we did something to get it started," Powell said.

"So I think there were problems in the aid effort, and we can do a better job. I cannot go along with the assessment that it was all wasted," he said.

Asked if he believed that Pakistan spent the money given to them well, he said: "I don't think you can say they spent every dollar well, but I do know that they were investing in their educational system. They did things with their military. But I cannot account for every single dollar, nor do I have the order trail on every single dollar," Powell replied
http://election.rediff.com/report/2009/apr/03/powell-says-world-cant-afford-a-failed-pak.htm






DSOI functioning comes under cloud
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The functioning of Defence Service Officers’ Institute (DSOI) here has come under a cloud, with some committee members alleging financial irregularities in the management of the institute’s funds.

In a communiqué addressed to the Chief of Staff, Western Command, who is the ex-officio president of DSOI’s governing body, members of the management, finance, bar and catering committee, have sought investigations into alleged financial irregularities, lapses and acts of omission and commission by certain officials of the DSOI.

“The governing body president has been asked to inform the members about the outcome of the investigations during the annual general-body meeting on April 5,” Maj Anil Ahlawat, member of the finance sub-committee said.

“If things are not resolved at the level of the president, then the matter can be referred up to the patron, the GOC-in-C, Western or the chief patron, the Governor,” he added.

DSOI has about 3,500 permanent members, in addition to serving armed forces officers posted in Chandigarh and around. It is a popular place in the service community for social activities.

Among the issues being raised is that no budget was passed by the management committee for the 2008-09 financial year and financial matters pertaining to transaction, purchases, funds allotment, sponsorship, incurred expenditure, etc were not routed through finance members and management committee as was being done in the past.

It has also been alleged that no purchase committee was formed to incur expenditure amounting to lakhs of rupees during special functions and the details of proposals, budget, sponsorship, income expenditure on such events did not go through the management/ finance committee, thus violating rules and bylaws.

Irregularities in the purchase of gym equipment worth about Rs 8 lakh, repair of furniture, procuring items from firms not having VAT and service tax numbers and no comparative rates being considered while hiring equipment and services during functions, are among other issues being raised.

Lt Col RS Boparai, member, bar and catering sub-committee, said these issues were raised with the president in February also, but no acknowledgement or reply was received in this regard.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090404/cth1.htm#7




Lesser job offers for defence batch of IIM-L

4 Apr 2009, 0318 hrs IST, TNN


LUCKNOW: After the students, it's the turn of former defence officers who had been looking forward to a management degree from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Lucknow to face the heat of global meltdown.

On Friday, when some 65 officers - retired after a short service commission period - stepped out of the prestigious IIM-L, only 20 of them had a job in hand. They were pursuing a six months long General Management Programme (GMP) at the institute. This was the fifth session which was undertaken by the institute for the defence personnel.

The course is being undertaken by the defence personnel, who are recommended by the Army Resettlement Directorate (ARD).

Member, ARD, Brig K K Dhingra, who was the chief guest at the valedictory function held at the IIM-L campus, said that recession is indeed a cause of concern for the officers who have been seeking a job opportunity after gaining experience in various wings of defence -- army, navy and air force.

In charge of the group placement, Colonel Kaushik Banerjee said that many army officials have got job offers from the prestigious companies like Proctor and Gamble and Kotak Mahindra. "But the reduced number of such job offers is a cause of concern,'' he admitted.

Colonel Banerjee said that they are into negotiations with seven more companies for getting a job for the defence personnel. He said that there are other issues besides global meltdown which is a cause of concern for the job seeking defence officers.

According to him, most of the officers are seeking jobs in their regional territories to which they belong. That is, there are officers who have settled in cities like Hyderabad and are seeking a job in the city itself, which, however is not available easily. Or, the officer might have got a job offer in some other city which he/she is ready to take up.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Lucknow/Lesser-job-offers-for-defence-batch-of-IIM-L/articleshow/4357170.cms

1 comment:

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