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Friday, 31 July 2009

From Today's Papers - 31 Jul 09

Indian Express

Asian Age

Indian Express

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Indian Express

The Pioneer

The Pioneer



DNA India

DNA India

Navy alerted about suspicious ship sailing towards Goa

Press Trust of India / Panaji July 31, 2009, 11:02 IST

The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have intensified their patrolling off Konkan coast following intelligence inputs that a suspicious ship was heading towards Goa.

Goa police received the intelligence inputs last night from their counterparts in Sindhudurg (Maharashtra) which alerted them about a "suspiciously moving ship".

"We were informed by Goa police about such movement of the ship. But we are still verifying the reports," Captain Manohar Nambiar, public relation officer, Indian Navy, told PTI today.

The Sindhudurg police had based their inputs on the information provided by the fishermen.

There were no specific details about the vessel. The information did not even mention whether it was a large ship or small trawler-like vessel, a senior police official said.

"The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard launched search mission immediately after the inputs were conveyed to them but till now we have not received any feedback. That means the vessel was not traced or inputs were improper," Atmaram Deshpande, Superintendent of Police (Special Branch), said.

UN Security Council extends Darfur mission by one year

Press Trust of India / United Nations July 31, 2009, 10:04 IST

The UN Security Council today extended its peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region of Sudan by one more year.

In a unanimous resolution, the Security Council called for the UN to set out a plan so it can measure whether the mission is making progress towards achieving its mandate.

The 15-membered body stressed the importance of protecting Darfur's civilian population and ensuring humanitarian workers have unhindered access to those in need.

It also emphasised "the importance of achievable and realistic targets against which the progress of UN peacekeeping operations can be measured."

It asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit a work plan containing benchmarks so the Council can track UNAMID's progress in implementing its mandate.

The UN body's decision to extend the mission follows a request earlier this month from Ban, who warned in his latest report on the work of the mission that numerous challenges remain in Darfur, despite the decrease in large-scale conflict.

Brothers in 'arms'? China gives warship to Pak

Press Trust Of India

FIVE-STAR TREATMENT: China delivers the first of the four state-of-the-art F-22P frigates to Pak.

Islamabad: China on Friday delivered the first of the four state-of-the-art F-22P frigates to its all-weather ally Pakistan in keeping with contracts signed between the countries four years ago.

The frigate constructed at Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard in the eastern Chinese city Shanghai was formally handed over to Pakistan Navy at a brief ceremony here, the APP reported.

Work on design and construction of F-22P ships started in 2005 after signing of a contract between Ministry of Defence Production and CSTC of China for construction of three ships in China and one at Karachi Shipyard. While first F-22P is now heading to Pakistan, all other three ships are at different stages of construction.

The F22P frigates are equipped with state of the art weaponry and sensors. They would also carry at Z9EC helicopter as integral part of the platform. The construction of 4th ship is to be completed by 2013.

Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Noman Bashir NI(M), said with the passage of time the relationship between Pakistan and China has grown deeper and fonder in all spheres of defence and economic cooperation.

"Pakistan is indeed proud of close association with China and this unique relationship does not draw any parallel elsewhere in the world," he said.

Addition of these ships will not only strengthen the PN Fleet with much needed potential but will also contribute in enhancing country's shipbuilding capabilities, Bashir said.

Navy chief backs Gorshkov deal

New Delhi, July 30
With the CAG slamming the Government for buying the second-hand Admiral Gorshkov at the price of a new aircraft carrier, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta today defended the price being paid by India for the warship. “I can’t comment on the CAG. But you all are defence analysts, can you get me an aircraft carrier for less than $ two billion? If you can, I am going to sign a cheque right now,” Mehta told reporters on the sidelines of the ‘Naval Self Reliance Seminar’ organised by CII.

In its report, the CAG had noted that till 2008 the escalated cost of the aircraft carrier was about $ 1.82 billion and another $ 522 million for the sea trials, which was originally pegged at $ 27 million in the 2004 contract.

India had bought the 45,000-tonne Gorshkov from Russia in January 2004 at a total cost of $ 974 million, which included its refit and repair.

The Russians have thrice revised the price of the Admiral Gorshkov since 2007 and have made a final demand of additional USD 2.9 billion this February. India is carrying out final price negotiations with Moscow and is willing to pay around USD 2.2 billion for the ship.

Commenting on the CAG's finding that the Navy had not undertaken a risk analysis before going in for price negotiation, Admiral Mehta said, the question did not arise, as the Navy has been searching for a warship since late 90s, and a decision on the Admiral Gorkshov was taken after adequate tests. — Agencies

Trainee aircraft crashes in AP, 2 die

Press Trust of India, Friday July 31, 2009, Hyderabad

A trainee aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday crashed in Andhra Pradesh's Medak district, killing two instructors.

The mishap occurred at about 9.45 am when the HPT-32 training aircraft belonging to Air Force Academy Dundigal (located on the city's outskirts) crashed in an open ground at Annaram village of Jinnaram Mandal near the academy, a senior police officer said.

"The trainee plane took off from the Dundigal academy at 9 am and as per preliminary reports it crashed while landing at the academy at about 9.45 am," Medak District Superintendent of Police M Kanta Rao said.

Two instructors Ritin Jain and Chaturvedi were killed on the spot, the police officer said adding that the exact cause of the crash was not known yet.

Senior Air Force officials rushed to the spot and were carrying out further investigations, he said.

Same rank, different pensions
by Lt Gen (retd) Raj Kadyan

Having made a reference to the resolution of ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) in its 2004 election manifesto, the Congress-led government had rejected this long-standing demand of some two million ex-servicemen in the country. The rejection was announced in Parliament on December 11, 2008.

Dejected, the ex-servicemen went on a relay fast at Jantar Mantar on December 16, 2008. In their show of disappointment they also took to depositing their medals with the President. On February 8, 2009, they made a public commitment to support the Congress during the elections provided the UPA government implemented OROP. The party did not respond.

On March 17, the BJP made an announcement of implementing OROP in case it was voted to power. The party also included this in the election manifesto. On April 12, the ex-servicemen pledged support to the BJP. They followed the democratic norm where the voting pattern is largely decided by issues that affect the voter.

After the election results were announced, the ex-servicemen started planning their next phase of struggle. Happily, on June 4 the President included OROP in her address to the joint session of Parliament. This gave fresh heart to the ex-servicemen. They fervently hoped that this time OROP would be implemented.

The four-months-long relay fast at Jantar Mantar brought OROP on the national radar screen. The public got familiarity with the term. The media picked it up. The demand also found overwhelming support from the man on the street. That is not to say that all those who empathise with the veterans’ demand actually understand OROP.

It is hardly a secret that in order to retain a youthful profile, the military retires its members early. Nearly 85 per cent soldiers thus proceed on pension in the lowest rank of sepoy after 17 years of service when they are in their mid-thirties.

Not only do they lose means of livelihood, they also undergo a trauma of being unemployed in the prime of their life. They see that the fine traits of loyalty, discipline and dedication that they acquired during their years in uniform have no more value and are being wasted away.

To top it all, they find that the system for which they gave their all is not even giving them enough to survive. They have no choice but to look for lowly jobs to sustain their families.

The officers have been only marginally better. In view of the very steep pyramidal structure, a majority of them retired as Majors in their forties. Even today nearly 90 per cent officers retire at the age of 54 years as against 60 years applicable to all non-defence government employees. There is no compensation for this truncated service.

For nearly 25 years, the ex-servicemen have been demanding OROP. The demand implies that whenever the pay commissions enhance salaries and thus pensions, these enhancements should be given to the earlier pensioners as well.

Simply put, it means bringing old pensions equal to the present ones and keeping these equal as a principle. This provision is already in existence for our legislators, judges, Governors and many other categories. The retired soldiers rightly see this as a principle of equity as justice.

The government indeed showed political magnanimity in deciding to revisit OROP and had it included in the President’s address. However, it is not getting translated into action. So far while all pronouncements have used the term OROP; in their actions they have not touched it.

It needs to be understood that removing pension anomalies between distant past and recent past is not OROP; bringing the past with the present is OROP. The ex-servicemen are waiting for the last word from the government before deciding on their response.

The government machinery is notorious in finding a difficulty for every solution. Those opposed to OROP would undoubtedly do so again. One does hope the political leadership will show sagacity. This long-pending issue needs to be pushed and resolved once and for all. No one wants to see soldiers engaging in public airing of their just demands; least of all the soldiers themselves.

The writer is the Chairman, Indian Ex Servicemen Movement

Navy Chief slams CAG report

NEW DELHI: Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who is retiring next month, slammed the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s observations on the escalating price of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and claimed that he would pay $2 billion to anyone who can get a similar warship at that price.
In its recent report, the CAG had expressed concern on the escalating price of the second hand aircraft carrier. It had made several other observations on the deal and hinted that it was a flawed contract.
Refusing to react directly on the report, Mehta said if an aircraft carrier was available for $2 billion, he was willing to sign a cheque right away.
Mehta also debunked the CAG’s remarks that a risk analysis of the ship was not carried out. “I can promise you that there is no such thing. There is no question. We have been looking at the ship since the late 90s,” he said on the sidelines of a naval seminar.
Defence Minister A K Antony had said in Parliament on Wednesday that negotiations were going on for fixing a fresh price for the warship.
According to the initial contract signed in 2004, the ship was to cost around $900 million. But the Russians are now demanding $2.9 billion.
“The cost of acquisition has more than doubled to 1.82 billion (for the refit) in four years. At best, Indian Navy would be acquiring, belatedly, a second-hand ship with a limited life span by paying significantly more than what it would have paid for a new ship,” the CAG had observed.
“It can be seen that the Indian Navy was acquiring a second-hand refitted aircraft carrier that had half the life span left and was 60 percent more expensive that a new one,’’ the CAG had observed.,+A+K+Antony,+Sureesh+Mehta,+admiral+gorshkov&SectionName=pWehHe7IsSU=

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