Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites

Loading

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

From Today's Papers - 07 Jul 09

Telegraph India

Indian Express

Asian Age

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times

Times of India

DNA India

One Rank, One Pension
Troops cheer, officers feel left out
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
The announcement of a new system in the Union Budget for parity in pensions for defence personnel is welcome news for the troops, but it has left the officer cadre fuming.

Based on the recommendation of a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary on One Rank One Pension (OROP), the government has decided to “substantially improve” the pensions of other ranks and bridge the gap between pre-2006 and post-2006 retirees. This is expected to cost the exchequer Rs 2,100 crore.

The government’s announcement does not cover officers, and a large number of them have expressed disappointment at being left out. Following the announcement of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, they had protested over what they perceived was a raw deal handed out to them.

The recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission had faced sharp criticism for widening the wedge between personnel who retired before and after January 1, 2006 - the cut off date for the implementation of new scales. While earlier the pensions of PBOR were calculated on the basis of the top of the pay scales, the 6th Pay Commission postulated a calculation at the bottom of scales at par with civilians since one single scale was now brought into force for all ranks from Sepoy to Havildar.

While the actual system of calculation remains hazy, sources say that it will substantially bring down the gap between retirees of various vintages. Ministry of Defence sources point out that the pensions of officers have always been linked to the pension calculation system in vogue for civil employees, whereas, Personnel Below Officers Rank (PBOR) have traditionally had a separate system in view of their service profile resulting in retirement starting from the age of 33 onwards. Even till 1996, retired PBOR of different eras were drawing almost the same pension, which was however upset by the 6th central pay commission, an anomaly that now stands addressed.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090707/main4.htm

North Korea test fires scud missile

Om Prakash Yadav

06 July 2009, Monday

NORTH KOREA’S reluctance to pursue nuclear and missile programme and its defiance of the United Nations weapons ban resurfaced on Saturday (July 4) when Pyongyang test-fired intermediate range scud missiles into the East Sea.

Obama’s initiative to defuse tension in Asia and other parts of the world once again ran into rough weather on July 4, following North Korea’s test firing of scud missiles into the sea between North Korea and Japan. Incidentally, July 4 is celebrated as America Independence and perhaps the test firing was meant to be an open challenge to the US administration. This test firing is seen as a demonstration of North Korea's disregard of UN resolutions and it seems that North Korea is ready to take on western powers including the United States and the United Kingdom.

Reactions from the West are along anticipated lines. David Miliband, British secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, has condemned the test firing by saying that tension on the Korean Peninsula should be kept at manageable level. A US state department spokesperson also said this act by Korea was ‘not helpful’ and asked Pyongyang to refrain from such actions which only aggravated tension in the region. Japan has also issued a strongly-worded reaction on this test.

Potential of the missile

This is an intermediate range missile with a range of 500km and can strike countries like Japan which falls well within its range. Sources said that North Korea has a stockpile of more than 600 scud missiles, and includes Hwasong-5 and Hwansong-6 with ranges of 300 km and 500 km respectively. This series of missiles is also capable of carrying nuclear warheads and thus poses potential threats to many countries including Japan. These missiles were reportedly test-fired between 8:00 to 8:30 in the morning.

Defiance continues

Only previous month, North Korea tested nuclear bombs - actions which caused much furore among Western powers. This current test firing suggests that North Korea is undeterred by any warnings, resolutions or sanctions.

Russia, China and Pakistan

The US and UK are particularly worried about the Russian and Chinese stand on this issue. The duo have of course not supported North Korea’s move but they have also not denounced Pyongyang in strongly-worded diplomatic overtones. Both Russia and China have urged Pyongyang to ‘return to talks’ and maintain calm. They have also urged the West, including the US, to refrain from any step which could escalate tension in the region.

This move of Russia and China is not encouraging for West who want a more ‘tough stand’ on this issue. The reasons for such a 'soft stand' by these two powers, are too obvious. The strategic location of North Korea has immense importance for both Russia and China. They want to play North Korea against increasing American influence in Asia especially after their much-publicised ‘war against terror’ which in a way silently authorised American presence in major parts of South Asia.

The growing military presence of the US and NATO in Asia, has perturbed both Russia and China. Moreover reports though unsubstantiated suggest that ‘nuke technology’ might have been deliberately made available to Pyongyang by China via Pakistan. Involvement of Dr Abdul Quadir Khan, father of the ‘Islamic Bomb’, in this ‘clandestine nuke technology transfer’ to North Korea has been practically confirmed by the international community. Thus, Pyongyang’s defiance is not without support and not without calibrations.

This act of defiance by North Korea has posed a serious challenge to the US because it is being seen as a misadventure by this geographically-tiny and economically-tattered country. It is not merely a coincidence that this test firing was carried out on American Independence.

It ermains to be seen how the Obama administration tames this rogue country keeping in mind that the US cannot afford another Iraq and Afghanistan. The helplessness of the UN, has once again been exposed because on the one hand, North Korea defied a UN resolution and on the other hand, Ban Ki Moon was denied a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. What a travesty!

http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=15775007

Obama, Medvedev agree to pursue nuclear reduction

Associated Press, Monday July 6, 2009, Moscow

AP image

President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a preliminary agreement on Monday to reduce the world's two largest nuclear stockpiles by as much as a third, to the lowest levels of any US-Russia accord, and counter what Obama called "a sense of drift" in the countries' relations.

"We must lead by example, and that's what we are doing here today," Obama declared in Kremlin hall glittering in gold. "We resolve to reset US-Russian relations so that we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest."

The document signed by the two leaders at a Moscow summit, Obama's first in Russia, is meant as a guide for negotiators as the nations work toward a replacement pact for the START arms control agreement that expires in December.

The joint understanding also commits the updated treaty to lower longer-range missiles for delivering nuclear bombs to between 500 and 1,100. The limit for warheads would be in a range of 1,500 to 1,675 each.

However, there are disagreements on what to count. Medvedev called Monday's agreement a "reasonable compromise."

Between them, the two countries possess more than 90 per cent of the world's nuclear weapons. Under current treaties, each country is allowed a maximum of 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles.

A White House statement said the new treaty "will include effective verification measures" and Obama said definitively the new treaty would be completed by the end of the year.

The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, led each country to cut its nuclear warheads by at least one-quarter, to about 6,000. The 2002 Treaty of Moscow called for further cuts to between 1,700 and 2,200 operationally deployed warheads by 2012.

But Moscow and Washington have long argued over what weapons should be subject to cuts.

Russia wants to limit missiles, bombers and submarines along with nuclear warheads, just as the original START treaty did. The 2002 agreement applied only to warheads. Also, the United States has been prepared to count only the warheads ready for launch, while Russia wants to count those in storage as well.

The two leaders appeared together at a news conference in a gilded and columned Kremlin hall, where they and other officials from both countries signed and exchanged documents with great flourish and much handshaking.

Among the side deals meant to sweeten Obama's two days of talks here and show progress toward improving badly damaged US-Russian relations was permission from Moscow for the United States to transport arms across its land and airspace into Afghanistan for the war there. The White House says the deal will save the US $133 million a year, by waiving transit fees and shortening flying time.

They outlined other areas in which they said their countries would work together to help stabilize Afghanistan, including increasing assistance to the Afghan army and police, and training counter-narcotics personnel.

A joint statement said that they welcomed increased international support for upcoming Afghan elections and that they were prepared to help Afghanistan and Pakistan work together against the "common threats of terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking."

Among other agreements was the resumption of military cooperation, suspended after Russia invaded neighboring Georgia last August and sent relations into a nosedive.

The White House announced that the two nations plan 20 exchanges and meetings this year. For example, Russian military cadets will come to the US Military Academy at West Point. The two countries also plan a joint exercise concerning responses to possible plane hijackings.

They also promised fresh cooperation on public health issues and revived a joint commission to try to account for missing service members of both countries dating back to World War II.

The commission was first created by the first President Bush and President Boris Yeltsin in the early 1990s, but the Russians later downgraded their participation.

The US hope is that the Russians will now open some of their more sensitive archives to US researchers seeking details about missing American servicemen.

http://www.ndtv.com/news/world/obama_medvedev_agree_to_pursue_nuclear_reduction.php

Muscle-flexing by China
Is India’s Pakistan fixation risky?
by Wasbir Hussain

WE are aware of developments in China, across the Line of Actual Control, both in the field of infrastructure and otherwise, but we cannot claim to know Beijing’s intentions,” the new Vice-Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal P. K. Barbora, told this writer during a recent interview in New Delhi. Is it because India is not quite sure of China’s possible military manoeuvres, particularly in the far-eastern Arunachal Pradesh sector, that New Delhi is reinforcing its military might in this area? One just can’t rule that out.

On June 15, the Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed four Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear warheads at a newly refurbished airbase in the northern Assam garrison town of Tezpur that lies on the way to the Chinese frontier across Arunachal Pradesh. The Sukhoi strength is expected to be raised to two squadrons in the area. Just before this development, former Army Chief Gen. J. J. Singh, now Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, announced that the government would add two Army divisions to the 10 mountain divisions that already remain deployed along the border with China. Besides, at least three Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) are being put in place, and airstrips and advanced landing stations in the area are being upgraded.

The year 2009 is not 1962. Yet history cannot be brushed aside or forgotten. The disaster that was Operation Leghorn — meant to push the Chinese further behind the McMahon Line along the border with Arunachal Pradesh (then the North-East Frontier Agency) — is still fresh in the minds of the surviving old guard in the Northeast. After all, in that bloody battle in the winter of 1962 (October-November), the Chinese Frontier Guards virtually overran Arunachal Pradesh, taking even Bomdi La, within reach of Tezpur, the town where the Sukhois are now located.

In the 47 years that followed, India has advanced by leaps and bounds and has become a nuclear power. We now have a highly modern and, as always, a committed Army. But geography has not changed. The terrain along the 1,030-km-long heavily wooded border that Arunachal Pradesh shares with China’s Tibet region continues to be as inhospitable as before. And, therefore, India’s emphasis now is not on simply having more sophisticated armaments in the area, but improving roads and other kinds of infrastructure along the frontier.

Not many in the Indian security establishment or the strategic community believe that Beijing would embark on a military adventure or misadventure with India anytime soon. But India doesn’t want to take a chance and is gearing up for “future security challenges” from China as General Singh would like to put it. Is it just about being ready for “future security challenges”? Has there been no challenge at all from the Chinese side as of now? There are challenges even now as the following revelation suggests — there has been 270 “intrusions” by the Chinese during 2008 compared to 60 in 2007. This, however, is not the sole reason for concern.

It is no secret that India has a Pakistan fixation over matters of security. The question now being asked, perhaps more seriously than ever before, is whether India’s Pakistan fixation could run the risk of exposing the country to Chinese threats in the East. That aside, some would even like to ask if there is a hidden Chinese hand somewhere in backing the Naxalites or the Maoists in India, who are actually wreaking havoc in half a dozen states. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh only recently described Naxalism as the “greatest threat to (the country’s) internal security.” The Indian security establishment is also taking note of the reports that Paresh Barua, military chief of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), one of northeastern India’s most potent separatist groups, has moved his base from Bangladesh to China’s Yunnan province along with a few dozen trusted fighters.

New Delhi is also wary of the Chinese encirclement of the Indian sub-continent. China’s access to refuelling stations in Myanmar, port facilities in Bangladesh, all the “listening posts” in Asia’s southern coast, and, of course, its stake in the Pakistani deepwater port of Gwadar are a matter of concern for New Delhi. China has even managed to have a stake in the building of the Sri Lankan port of Hambontota in the island’s south.

The rise of the Maoists in Nepal in 2006 was another ominous development for India and the Chinese are known to have been hobnobbing with the red brigade in the Himalayan nation. Beijing is even believed to have been interfering in Nepal’s political system, something New Delhi cannot reconcile to in view of the special relationship it has been sharing over the years with Kathmandu.

India has rightly realised the need to improve infrastructure along the Chinese frontier in the Arunachal Pradesh sector, parts of which are inaccessible and have to depend on the Air Force for supplies more than 60 years after Independence. New Delhi’s realisation has a lot to do with the massive infrastructure boost in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), just across Arunachal Pradesh, complete with a rail-link to mainland China that is nothing short of a technological marvel.

It was not surprising that during his visit to Arunachal Pradesh in January 2008, Dr Manmohan Singh launched an ambitious road project — the 1,840-km-long Trans-Arunachal Pradesh Highway — that will connect every district headquarters and facilitate easy movement of civilians and war machinery till the international border.

Chinese responses to these developments on the Indian side are not surprising. The People’s Daily on June 11, 2009, described India’s “tough posture” as “dangerous”. The newspaper called upon India to “consider whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation with China.” The daily went to the extent of being sarcastic and mocked New Delhi for failing to match up to China’s economic progress. China on its part has continued to push ahead with its claim on 90,000 square km of territory ruled by India in the eastern part of the border, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh.

But the most blatant statement about Beijing’s claim to Arunachal Pradesh was made by Ambassador Sun Yuxi in an interview with an Indian television channel just ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to New Delhi in November 2006. The Chinese envoy to India had said: “In our position, the whole of the state of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory. And Tawang is only one of the places in it. We are claiming all of that. That is our position.” New Delhi politely refuted that claim on that occasion as also later similar claims by the Chinese.

While diplomacy continues, India’s latest bid to replace the ageing MIGs with the more potent Sukhoi-30 MKIs on its eastern frontier with China, its decision to have two more Army divisions in the area, and the road and highway projects goes to reinforce the thinking in certain quarters that New Delhi cannot afford to take chances with Beijing. Oblivious or even indifferent to the diplomatic and military manoeuvres, the people of Arunachal Pradesh can only be happy about the transformation that is taking place in their homeland. After all, it is far too long that they have been deprived of good communication links not just to the outside world but also within their own state.

The writer is Director, Centre for Development and Peace Studies, Guwahati.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090707/edit.htm#3

Nuclear-armed India, Pak can't take over each other: Zardari

Press Trust of India / London July 6, 2009, 16:41 IST

With his forces battling Taliban in the country's troubled northwest, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari does not see India as the foremost threat and says the "position of being able to take over another state is nullified" after both countries acquired nuclear arms.

As his goodwill gestures towards India clubbed with a domestic campaign to end militancy have attracted criticism at home, Zardari says "it rankles the small mind."

"It does not rankle the army, because after India and Pakistan became nuclear powers, that position of being able to take over another state is nullified," the President said in an interview to 'The Daily Telegraph'.

In remarks that may give a boost to the US hopes for a united front against al-Qaeda and Taliban, Zardari said that his security forces' operations against militants would in future target figures who were the military's "strategic assets".

Pakistan's powerful military had given its backing in recent days to Zardari's shift from seeing India as the foremost threat to the country towards the danger posed by militancy inside.

"I don't think anybody in the establishment supports them (militants) any more," he said.

"Military operations are all across the board against any insurgent whether in Karachi, Lahore or whether he is in any part of Pakistan," Zardari said.

Zardari said: "My problem is terror. I have focussed myself on terror. The (ruling) PPP has focussed itself against the extremist mindset. Terror is a regional problem, it cuts across borders."

"I would love to be remembered for creating a Pakistan where militancy — I know it can't totally be diminished — is defeated," he said.

On the US role in Afghanistan, he said "what the US does in Afghanistan is its own business. It is a sovereign state."

Referring to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Zardari said "Karzai and myself are friends."

When pointed out that he was known as 'Mr 10 per cent' for alleged involvement in corruption, he said it was a cliche "created by the opposition and they tried me for 11 and a half years (the time he served in jail without being sentenced). I think a man should be judged by the fact he has walked the fire and come out without a spot."

He also renewed a call for the US to sell aerial drones to the Pakistan military in place of mounting cross-border attacks. "My position is that I have always asked for possession of the drone; I want the Pakistani flag on it."

On assassination of his wife and former Premier Benazir Bhutto, Zardari said that after the incident "the people in the street were calling for blood and we went for a democratic offensive."

"I wish (former President Perrvez) Musharraf had looked after my wife" by providing her adequate security, he said.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/nuclear-armed-india-pak-can%5Ct-take-over-each-other-zardari/66766/on

Today’s friends, tomorrow’s enemies
by Anita Inder Singh

THE killing of soldiers by Taliban suicide bombers in Pakistani Kashmir on June 26 is filled with grim irony. To Pakistanis, militancy and Kashmir have long been synonymous. Islamabad has pledged ‘moral, political and diplomatic support’ to what it claims are ‘freedom fighters’ in Indian Kashmir (and what neighbouring India deems to be Pakistani-sponsored extremists).

The Pakistani state has come under attack in an area where Islamabad has long joined forces with Islamic militants — against India.

The bombers were supporters of Baitullah Mehsud, who was hailed as a patriot by General Pasha, head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, less than a year ago, but for whose capture Islamabad is now offering a reward of more than $600,000.

The terrorist assault on Pakistani Kashmir signals that Islamabad’s project of exporting extremism to destabilise neighbouring India and Afghanistan has gone awry.

The news of this — and other bombings — will disturb New Delhi and Washington; both have been concerned about Islamabad’s ambivalence in dealing with extremists. It was only under American pressure since last January and only when Pakistan’s establishment ran out of excuses, according to General David Petraeus, that Pakistan’s army threw extremists out of the towns in the north-western province of Swat. It is now preparing to strike at the Taliban in Waziristan, where they are deeply entrenched.

The army has some popular support for its anti-extremist operations in Swat and Waziristan, not least because the Taliban have alienated many ordinary Pakistanis by being stupid enough to bomb a mosque during the Friday prayers, infuriating people into beating them up.

But the apparent ease with which the Taliban have carried out a series of bombings, almost every day, in some part of Pakistan over the last few weeks implies the existence of a countrywide extremist network and throws a question mark over the time, effort and resolve it would take to defeat them.

American and Indian fears have not been assuaged by reports that Osama bin Laden is still in Pakistan, and that Islamabad has not labelled al-Qaeda as a terrorist organisation, although the UN Security Council condemned its terrorist activities and called for sanctions against it seven years ago.

Moreover, Mullar Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, enjoying Pakistani hospitality in Quetta, are preparing for a new extremist ‘surge’ against Nato in Afghanistan, and Pakistan has rejected Washington’s demands to take action against them. And other extremist leaders have escaped from Pakistan to safer havens in Somalia and Yemen.

At another level, Washington and New Delhi were troubled by the Lahore High Court’s recent decision to release Hafiz Saeed, who heads the Jamaat-i-Dawa, an extremist organisation, which masterminded 26/11 and which was blacklisted by the UN Security Council in December 2008. This was largely because Islamabad did not present all the evidence at its disposal to the court, and New Delhi thinks this omission was deliberate.

New Delhi wants Islamabad to put an end to all terrorist outfits, including anti-India groups. After all, terrorists have bombed Lahore, which is quite near India’s border with Pakistan, thrice this year. And the bombing in Pakistani Kashmir will not allay Indian or American suspicions about the army’s ability and resolve to quash the Taliban.

Several extremists have been killed in American drone attacks, but extremist leaders remain at large in Pakistan.

To crown it all, President Zardari and the army reportedly disagree whether India or the Taliban are the main threat to Pakistan’s security. The Pakistani army continues to ally with anti-India extremists while fighting the Taliban, who are trying to subvert the Pakistani state.

The army has also enlisted some north-western tribes against the Taliban, and some of Mehsud’s rivals within the labyrinthine extremist complex. But the tribes now supporting the army were only until the other day allies of the Taliban.

Islamabad must realise that it cannot defeat one set of extremists and ally with others if only because, as the bombing in Pakistani Kashmir shows, the army’s erstwhile or present extremist friends could be its enemies tomorrow.

The writer is a Professor at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, New Delhi

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090707/edit.htm#7

Punjab rocket attack: Security may go up in borders

PTI | July 06, 2009 | 22:33 IST

In the wake of rockets fired from the Pakistan side of the border injuring a youth and creating panic among people, authorities are planning to work out security arrangements on border villages to prevent such scary incidents.

Border Security Forces Director General M L Kumawat after a visit to the site of Sunday's attack said adequate security arrangements would be worked out to the satisfaction of inhabitants of border villages.

Two rockets fired from across the border had hit Dandely village, near Attari border while one fell on the Pakistani soil.

Dilbagh Singh (24) had sustained splinter injuries in the assault.

DG said the force registered a strong protest in this regard with Pakistan Rangers, which denied its role in the act.

The PR was also asked to trace those responsible for the rocket attack.

About a Pakistani intruder shot dead on Sunday evening, the officer said the Pakistan government has admitted that he was its national and that the body was handed over to them.

The youth in his early 20s was shot dead by BSF when he ignored the warnings of BSF and crossed over to Indian territory near the Attari Check Post at Rorawali village near Dandey village, where the rockets fell.

The DG said launchers were used to fire rocket to hit country's border.

http://news.rediff.com/report/2009/jul/06/rocket-attack-security-may-go-up-in-borders.htm

I want to be remembered for defeating militancy: Zardari

PTI | July 06, 2009 | 18:30 IST

With his forces battling Taliban militants in the country's troubled northwest, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari does not see India as the foremost threat and says the "position of being able to take over another state is nullified" after both countries acquired nuclear arms. As his goodwill gestures towards India, clubbed with a domestic campaign to end militancy, have attracted criticism at home, Zardari says "it rankles the small mind."

"It does not rankle the army, because after India and Pakistan became nuclear powers, that position of being able to take over another state is nullified," the President said in an interview to The Daily Telegraph.

In remarks that may give a boost to the United States' hopes for a united front against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Zardari said that his security forces' operations against militants would in future target figures who were the military's "strategic assets".

"I don't think anybody in the establishment supports them (militants) any more," Zardari said. "Military operations are all across the board against any insurgents whether in Karachi, Lahore or whether he is in any part of Pakistan," Zardari said.

Zardari added, "My problem is terror. I have focused myself on terror. The (ruling) Pakistan People's Party has focused itself against the extremist mindset. Terror is a regional problem, it cuts across borders."

"I would love to be remembered for creating a Pakistan where militancy -- I know it can't totally be diminished -- is defeated," he said.

On the US role in Afghanistan, he said "what the US does in Afghanistan is its own business. It is a sovereign state." Referring to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Zardari said, "Karzai and myself are friends."

When pointed out that he was known as 'Mr 10 per cent' for his alleged involvement in corruption, he said it was a cliche "created by the opposition".

"They tried me for 11 and a half years (the time he served in jail without being sentenced). I think a man should be judged by the fact he has walked on fire and come out without a spot," he added.

He also renewed a call for the US to sell aerial drones to the Pakistan military in place of mounting cross-border attacks. "My position is that I have always asked for possession of the drone; I want the Pakistani flag on it," he said.

On the assassination of his wife and former premier Benazir Bhutto, Zardari said that after the incident "the people in the street were calling for blood and we went for a democratic offensive."

"I wish (former President Pervez) Musharraf had looked after my wife" by providing her adequate security, he said.

http://news.rediff.com/report/2009/jul/06/want-to-be-remembered-for-defeating-militancy-says-zardari.htm

Forces nudged to shop more

BS Reporter / July 07, 2009, 3:35 IST

Army, Navy, Air Force returned Rs 7,000 crore in 2008-09

The footprints of the Sixth Pay Commission were evident all over the outlay for the defence forces: Up from Rs 1,14,600 crore in 2008-09 (revised estimates) to Rs 1,41,703 crore in 2009-10), an increase of about 34 per cent over the previous fiscal.

Of this increase, pensions, which have gone up as a result of the Pay Commission’s award, account for about Rs 5,000 crore: From the budget estimate in 2008-09 of nearly Rs 15,600 crore, pensions went up to Rs 20,233 crore in the revised estimates, and have been allocated Rs 21,790 crore in the current budget. Salaries have also gone up: From Rs 54,560 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 81,388 crore in 2009-10.

The services have returned unutilised nearly Rs 7,000 crore because they did not buy equipment they had earlier provided for. In 2008-09, the capital outlay was Rs 48,007 crore. But as plans to procure the light utility helicopters and 155mm artillery guns did not materialise, the services gave the money back to the government.

As always, the Army and Air Force were responsible for the biggest quantum of money allocated towards equipment, returned unspent. The Army was allocated Rs 8,345 crore for equipment but spent only Rs 6,268 crore. The Air Force was allocated Rs 6,290 crore and spent nearly Rs 1,000 crore less, at Rs 5,151 crore.

The capital outlay for the Armed Forces for 2009-10 has been fixed at Rs 54,824 crore.

Less than a year ago, in October 2008, a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) slammed the government on India’s poor naval fleet. The report said that no more than 48 per cent of India’s submarine fleet was available for waging war, should India be attacked. “The Indian Navy currently holds just 67 per cent of the force level envisaged in its 1985 plan,” the report said. “Some of the submarines have already outlived their maximum service life,” it added. However, that the situation has not improved was clear from the budget figures: Of the Rs 7,200 crore allocated for the Naval Fleet, only Rs 4,000 crore was spent.

The increase in defence outlay this year amounts to Rs 36,103 crore over last year’s allocation of Rs 1,05,600 crore, and is to speed up procurement of defence equipment and plug the security gaps exposed by the November 26 Mumbai terror attacks last year. Last year, the outlay was increased just 10 per cent over the Rs 96,000 crore defence budget allocated in 2007-08.

India's defence spending is still at about 2 per cent of the GDP, compared to China’s 7 per cent and Pakistan’s 5 per cent.

After the Mumbai attacks, the government also initiated a massive revamp of the nation’s security structure, which includes creation of a Coastal Command and entrusting overall responsibility for maritime security with the Navy and integrating activities of all sea-faring ministry and departments including Petroleum, Shipping, and Fisheries.

It also approved the Coast Guard’s request for purchase of fast patrol craft for securing the long-winding 7,417-km coastline and to hire helicopters for maritime reconnaissance. But despite this, the Coast Guard returned nearly Rs 200 crore unspent. It was allocated Rs 947 crore in 2008-09 and managed to spend only Rs 700 crore. It has been allocated Rs 1,904 crore in the current budget.The budget also proposed the one rank, one pension scheme for ex-Servicemen. “Our country owes a deep debt of gratitude to our valiant ex-Servicemen. The Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary its report and the recommendations of the Committee have been accepted,” Mukherjee said.

On the basis of these recommendations, the Government has decided to improve the pension of pre-January 1, 2006 defence pensioners below officer rank and bring pre-October 10, 1997 pensioners on par with later pensioners. Both these decisions will be implemented from July 1, 2009, resulting in enhanced pension for more than 1.2 million jawans and JCOs. These measures will cost the exchequer more than Rs.2,100 crore annually. Certain pension benefits being extended to war wounded and other disabled pensioners are also being liberalised.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/forces-nudged-to-shop-more/363168/

Defence outlay up by 34 pc

New Delhi, DHNS:

A substantial increase in the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) — 34 per cent — indicates it is driven by a combination of two concerns: The hike in salaries for armed forces personnel, following the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, and a major rethinking in the country's military strategy.

The capital outlay for defence -- meant for hardware procurement -- has been hiked to Rs 54,824 crores from last year's revised estimate of Rs 41,000 crore.

This, by and in itself, suggests that the government will spend a great deal more on preparations for conventional warfare against nations like Pakistan and China.

The substantial outlay -- Rs 1,41,703 crores which is the same as that pegged in February's interim budget -- indicates the possibility of successful closing of negotiations like purchasing aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov at a higher price, buying three more Russian stealth frigates or leasing two nuclear-powered submarines from Russia. The total Defence outlay for the 2008-09 budgetary estimate was Rs 1,05,600 crores.

This is to say that there has been a jump of almost Rs 36,000 crores this time.

In his Budget speech, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee did not touch the interim defence budget he presented in Parliament in February at all, except addressing the long-pending one-rank-one-pension issue.

Of the total Defence budget, the operating expenditure of the three services and other departments has been pegged at Rs.86,879 crore. As in past years, the 1.1 million strong Indian Army has received the lion’s share of 41 percent, with the Indian Navy being allocated Rs.8,322 crore and the Indian Air Force (IAF) Rs.14,318 crore, with an additional Rs 300 crores for procurement.

The capital outlay for ordnance factories has been increased by Rs 500 crore. The Army has received an increase of Rs 4,852.65 crores in its capital outlay under the head of ‘’other equipment’’, possibly for purchasing heavy machinery. An additional Rs 619.33 crore was allocated to the Army for procuring helicopters.

Of the two heads, the operating expenditure has been increased — in comparison to the last hike of less than 7 per cent — by a whopping 50.85 per cent or Rs.29,286 crore largely due rise in salaries and allowances for armed forces personnel. At the same time, capital expenditure has declined 14.20 per cent or by Rs.6,817 crore.

Of its allocation, the Army will spend a staggering Rs.36,081 crore or 64 percent on pay and allowances. For the Navy Rs 2,850 crore or 34 per cent crore has been set aside on this count and for the IAF Rs.4,880 crore or 34 percent.

What remains to be seen is how much of this will actually be spent by the time the fiscal ends March 31, 2010, as the armed forces returned Rs.7,000 crore of the Rs.48,007 allocated for capital expenditure for 2008-09.

Mukherjee had a word of cheer for soldiers and junior commissioned officers (JCOs), saying their pensions would be enhanced. However, the officer cadre, which had led the “one-rank-one-pay” (OROP) demand, has been ignored. The enhanced pensions would annually cost the government Rs.2,100 crore. The Finance Minister said, “the government has decided to substantially improve the pension of pre-January 1, 2006 Defence pensioners below officer rank (PBOR)and bring pre-October 10, 1997 pensioners on par with post-October 10, 1997 pensioners. Both these decisions will be implemented from July 1, 2009, resulting in enhanced pension for more than 12 lakh jawans and JCOs.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/12284/defence-outlay-up-34-pc.html

Defence personnel can't decide which side they are on

7 Jul 2009, 0128 hrs IST, TNN

CHANDIGARH: Announcements made by the Union finance minister for defence personnel in the budget have been received with mixed feelings by the community in the tricity. Besides a hike of 34% over the previous year for defence in the budget, there are words of cheer for persons below officers rank (PBOR), saying their pensions would be enhanced. However, the officer cadre, that had led the one-rank-one-pay (OROP) demand, has been ignored.

During his speech, Union finance minister said the government has received the recommendation of Chander Shekhar Committee Report to decide on the much talked about one-rank one-pension (OROP) issue and would considerably implement its findings.

City-based Lt General (Retd) Harwant Singh said that enhanced budget should spend on the induction of advanced equipment for the forces, as almost all the countries have latest equipment and technological weapons with them whether it is of Navy, Air Force or Army.

Lt Gen SS Grewal (Retd), former adjutant general of India, said, ‘I think focus of government to spend the increased defence budget should be on the development of infrastructure, removing the shortage of manpower and induction of latest weaponry.’ Brigadier (retd) Krishan Kant of Panchkula said that announcement of OROP in budget is a positive step as finally the government has come out with something for the soldiers.

However, Col (retd) SK Aggarwal said the announcement about OROP in budget is completely vague and disappointing as it is not clear about the recommendations of the Chander Shekher Committee. ‘Officers of the rank of captain and major have been completely left out from any benefits after this budget,’ Col Aggarwal added.

Hailing the budget, Bhim Sen Sehgal, chairman, All India Ex-servicemen welfare association said the budget is extremely beneficial for lakhs of retired PBOR.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Chandigarh/Defence-personnel-cant-decide-which-side-they-are-on/articleshow/4746462.cms

No comments:

Post a Comment

 

Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal