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Monday, 24 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 24 Aug 09


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BJP for screening of paramilitary recruits
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 23
The harsh reality of banned militant groups in insurgency ravaged Manipur having managed to plant their cadres in the state’s paramilitary police forces had once again to be faced after the Imphal police arrested a constable of the 2nd India Reserve Battalion (IRB) for lobbing a grenade at a hospital in the Thangal Bazar area in the heart of Imphal last Friday.

The opposition BJP today demanded a special commission be set up to screen credentials of personnel of the IRB and Manipur Rifles to purge these organisations of “men planted” by militant outfits, who they said had “taken advantage of the rampant corruption” in the recruitment process.

An Imphal court yesterday ordered the remand of the IRB constable, P Munna Singh, who was accused of throwing a grenade at the behest of a militant outfit, Kangleipak Communist Party (military council), to eight days’ police custody.

According to SSP (Imphal West district) L Kailun, during interrogation the IRB constable confessed he had lobbed the grenade that he claimed was supplied to him by the outfit. He added he had taken Rs 5,000 for the “job”. Three people were injured in the grenade blasts.

6 jawans of Gorkha Rifles booked

Katihar (Bihar), August 23
The police has registered an FIR was on Sunday against six jawans of Gorkha Rifles who, in an inebriated condition, allegedly misbehaved with the passengers and TTE in Delhi-bound North East Express.

The jawans, who had boarded the sleeper coach of the train at Guwahati railway junction, misbehaved with the TTE when he asked them not to trouble the passengers. Katihar Government Railway Poice (GRP) booked the jawans after a medical examination. — PTI

Indo-Canadian nuclear agreement in trouble

August 23, 2009 21:46 IST

India and Canada [ Images ] may not be able to sign a civilian nuclear agreement anytime soon as the two countries are yet to 'clear hurdles that would lead to the start of formal negotiations', according to reports in leading Canadian dailies like The Globe and Mail.

The Canadian daily's report contradicts the views expressed by International Trade Minister Stockwell Day, who had stated in May that Canada was 'very close' to a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with India.

After his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] in India in January, Day told that he was elated that his meetings with Indian leaders, including Dr Singh and National Security Adviser M K Narayan, have been very productive.

"Canadian companies are well positioned to capitalise on opportunities and to work cooperatively with their Indian counterparts to meet the needs of India's civilian nuclear market," he had said.

The story in the Canadian daily has quoted Day's Press Secretary Melisa Leclerc.

When contacted by on August 22, she responded in an e-mail message, "The (Canadian) reporter got the information from the Department (of Foreign Affairs and International Trade), not (from) me."

Dr Ashok Kapur, professor of political science at the University of Waterloo (Ontario), an expert on nuclear issues, told that, "The story shows there are big differences between the three Canadian Ministers - International Trade Minister Stockwell Day, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon."

Cannon hasn't spoken on the subject and obviously "he's not providing the leadership or else well-entrenched pro-Non Nuclear Proliferation Treaty bureaucrats in DFAIT won't continue talking against the India-Canadian civilian nuclear agreement," he said.

"The old view since 1974, when India conducted its first nuclear test, has been that relations with India shouldn't be very close, shouldn't be very friendly, and it should be commensurate with India's position in South Asia and within the framework of South Asia," pointed out Kapur.

Leaders who are opposing the India-Canadian nuclear agreement are ignoring the India-United States civilian nuclear agreement as well as the terms of India's understanding with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, argues Kapur.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon's silence on the issue is not helping either, says Kapur. "The longer he remains silent on this issue and doesn't provide leadership, the more free hand the Canadian bureaucrats will have. They now have a greater role to play because it is a minority Conservative government."

Canada's first draft on the civilian nuclear agreement had not been acceptable to India, according to Indian High Commissioner S M Gavai. "After India submitted a counter-draft, Canadian authorities have submitted another counter draft that has stressed on the NPT and gone beyond America's 123 agreement," claims Kapur.

When pointed out that the delay in signing the deal with India is costing Canada enormously as the US, Russian and French companies are singing several kinds of deals in the civilian nuclear field, Kapur said, "These Canadian bureaucrats don't care."

"If DFAIT wanted to give positive signals, cooperative signals, all they had to do was to take all the features of 123 and the India-US civilian nuclear agreement and the IAEA's approval of that agreement and incorporate all those features in the Canada-India draft agreement, but they are going beyond that. They are inserting new conditions that are impossible for India to accept," Kapur concludes.

Indian High Commissioner Gavai, Canadian Minister Stockwell Day and Parliamentary Secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Deepak Obhrai were not available for comments.

Regiment celebrates diamond jubilee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
Army’s 140 Air Defence Regiment (Self-Propelled) celebrated its diamond jubilee at the Chandi Mandir military station here today. A series of social events spread over a month were being organised to commemorate the occasion.

A special sainik sammelan was held today. It was attended by a large number of serving officers and jawans as well ex-servicemen of the unit. Maj-Gen JP Singh, the senior-most serving officer from the regiment, addressed the troops and exhorted them to maintain regimental traditions and strive for professional excellence.

A diamond jubilee newsletter and a first-day cover issued by the Army Postal Service were also released on the occasion. A special mandir parade, blood donation camp, fun games and sports competitions are among other events being organised to mark the occasion.

The unit was raised as 140 Medium Regiment of the Territorial Army (TA) at Meerut in 1949. It was the first medium regiment to be raised after Independence. In the 1965 Indo-Pak war, the regiment had the distinction of becoming the only TA unit known to have taken part in an offensive into the enemy territory, when it supported the operations along the Ichhogil canal in Pakistan.

In the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the unit, which had been converted into an air defence regiment in 1966, provided cover to the Pathankot airfield, Thein Dam, and the Mirthal and Madhopur bridges. The unit was the first to be equipped with a self-propelled air defence weapon system in 1977. It protects the vanguard of the offensive formations of the Army.

The regiment has produced eight Generals including two Director-Generals of the Corps of Army Air Defence. Its roll of honour includes two Vir Chakras, two Shaurya Chakras and two Sena Medals. For its excellence in all spheres, the unit was awarded Special Unit Appreciation by the Director-General of the Army Air Defence in 2005.

Govt Apathy
More ex-servicemen to return medals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
In protest against the alleged apathetic attitude of the government towards their demands, more ex-servicemen would return their medals to the President. About 15,000 medals have already been deposited at Rashtrapati Bhawan on four occasions earlier.

According to a statement issued by the Indian Ex-servicemen’s Movement, the medals would be collected from across the country and brought to Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on September 13.

Thereafter, a delegation of ex-servicemen would proceed to the Rashtrapati Bhawan to deposit them with the President, the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.

The statement said a huge gap still existed between pre and post-January, 2006, retirees, and that was expected to widen further.

Senior officers were drawing far less pension than their juniors, it said.

The statement said the concept of three assured career progressions (ACP) had been accepted by the government, but the same had not been applied to old pensioners.

Further, while implementing the Supreme Court judgment in connection with fixing pension of Major-Generals, the government had accepted that the concept of granting the same pension to pre and post-1996 retirees would be applicable.

In the same way, the government should have applied the concept in case of pre and post-January 2006 retirees also, the statement added.

Rs 20k cr deals may end Army's artillery drought

Rajat Pandit, TNN 24 August 2009, 03:02am IST

NEW DELHI: India is now going to float a mega global tender for acquiring 814 motorised howitzers in a fresh attempt to kickstart the Army's long-delayed over Rs 20,000 crore artillery modernisation programme, bedevilled by the Bofors ghost and other scandals for almost 25 years now.

The project will include an off-the-shelf purchase of 200 155mm/52-calibre mounted gun systems from abroad, which will be followed by indigenous manufacture of another 614 such howitzers under transfer of technology.

"These 17-tonne motorised howitzers will arm 40 regiments. The project was recently cleared by Defence Acquisitions Council, chaired by defence minister A K Antony. The RFP is being issued," said a defence ministry source.

Yet another big project on the anvil is the outright purchase of 100 155mm/52-calibre self-propelled tracked guns for five artillery regiments, the field trials for which will be held around May-June 2010.

The 1.13-million Army is keeping its fingers firmly crossed this time about its artillery modernisation programme, which envisages induction of a whopping 2,814 guns of different types.

Not a single new artillery gun, after all, has been inducted ever since the infamous Rs 1,437 crore Bofors contract for 410 field howitzers became a political bogey in 1986.

If first it was Bofors, then it was Denel in 2005. And now, Singapore Technologies (ST) is in the dock after the defence ministry put all dealings with it on hold due to the alleged corruption scandal involving former Ordnance Factory Board chairman Sudipto Ghosh.

A worried Army top brass, in fact, has even asked Antony to allow the trials in different categories to go ahead while the CBI conducts its probe into Ghosh's case. The Pegasus gun of ST Kinetics, for instance, was to be field-tested from mid-June onwards in the project to acquire 140 air-mobile ultra-light howitzers (ULHs) for Rs 2,900 crore. Army needs ULHs to ensure artillery can be swiftly deployed in forward, inaccessible areas with the help of helicopters.

ST Kinetics was also a contender in the meandering Rs 8,000 crore project to buy 400 155mm/52-calibre towed artillery guns, which is to be followed by indigenous manufacture of another 1,180 howitzers. The other two contenders are BAE Systems and Israeli Soltam.,prtpage-1.cms

Indian defence establishment gears up to thwart cyber threat

August 23rd, 2009 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS Tell a Friend -

By Ritu Sharma

New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) Facing mounting attacks from the virtual world, the Indian defence establishment is now gearing up for cyber warfare.

Officials working in South Block, where the Indian defence ministry is located, have been receiving mails from fake email identities (IDs) on a regular basis that is aimed at hacking into its computer systems.

“We regularly receive emails from fake IDs like from Chief of Army Staff Secretariat, director media, media cell etc. We know that it is from a fake ID so we do not open it lest it bugs our systems,” a senior Indian Army official working in the defence ministry official told IANS. He wished to remain anonymous as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Recently, mediapersons covering defence related matters received an email from the DPR (Defence Press Relations) ID outlining plans of the Pakistan Army against India. The defence ministry immediately took note of the email and swung into action.

“The email ID on Yahoo was used by the defence public relations office earlier. However, when an ID was created on gmail it was abandoned. Somebody apparently hacked the ID and sent the mail,” a defence ministry official said.

“The password of the abandoned email was immediately restored. The matter is currently being looked into,” the official added.

There have been attempts in the past where Chinese hackers have broken into the computer network of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), prompting the government to fortify their systems.

Earlier this year a number of computers were reportedly found to be compromised with a malicious spyware that had been sending copies of internal e-mail messages to a rogue address.

During last year’s Army Commanders’ Conference it was decided to boost the “cyber-security” of its information networks right down to the level of divisions, which are field formations with over 15,000 troops.

Apart from creating cyber-security organisations down to the division-level to guard against cyber warfare and data thefts, the army top brass also underlined the urgent need for “periodic cyber-security audits” by the Army Cyber Security Establishment.

“We have our cyber experts conducting cyber audit on our systems from time-to-time to check against possible bugs,” said an armed forces official.

During the cyber audits, the experts check the password strength of the accounts.

“We are being advised to give an alpha-numeric password with characters in upper and lower case,” the official added.

Generally the armed forces refrain from finding the sender’s identity as it involves a long procedure of writing to the Google headquarters with proper authorisation. However, the Indian armed forces have also issued a set of ‘do’s and dont’s’ to contain the menace of cyber crime.

“We have been instructed to work on stand-alone computers with no internet connections. Moreover, we cannot keep any confidential data in our hard disks. Nobody is allowed to use a pen drive inside the South Block and the rule is strictly adhered to,” said another Indian Army official.

Also the Indian Army had issued circular to its officials asking them not to post work-related information like ranks, place of posting etc on social networking sites like Orkut and Facebook. The circular had asked soldiers to remove such information from their networking profiles in case they had already posted it.

The armed forces have also undertaken various measures to sensitise its officials on cyber usage.

(Ritu Sharma can be contacted at

General Sir Richard Dannatt gave guests cheap wine to reduce expenses

Steve Bird

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the outgoing head of the Army, is reported to have claimed less than £20,000 in expenses, and even bought cheap wine and sausages from Lidl to feed military top brass.

Details of his expenses are said to show that he spent as little as £5 a head when hosting dinners for foreign dignitaries, Armed Services chiefs and politicians.

In stark contrast to the excessive expenses claimed by many MPs, General Dannatt spent only £1.49 for each of six bottles of Merlot from the cut-price supermarket Lidl as part of his official entertainment claims. A board dinner of the Army Executive Committee was given Tesco’s homebrand chicken wings and oxtail soup.

The expense claims, obtained by the News of the World under the Freedom of Information Act, are said to show that his total claim for the past four financial years — including 18 months as Commander-in-Chief Land — came to £19,290.77.

The disclosure came after Kevan Jones, the Defence Minister, last week denied reports that he was plotting with Labour MPs to obtain details of Sir Richard’s expenses in order to smear him in retaliation for his outspoken criticisms of government policy.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “As head of the Army, [the] Chief of the General Staff undertakes official hosting and entertaining of both overseas and United Kingdom dignitaries. This is an important part of his remit to assist in the betterment of international relations, to promote the British Army and facilitate a wider public understanding of its role.”

Other claims show how General Dannatt even shipped over cheap wine from France to save on entertainment costs.

In August last year he entertained General Deepak Kapoor, chief of the Indian Army, Shiv Mukherjee, the Indian High Commissioner, and 21 other guests at a reception at Kensington Palace costing £123.58. The food was purchased from Tesco and came to £5.15 per head.

In March he and Lady Dannatt held a lunch for 14 people costing £80.05.

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