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Friday, 13 November 2009

From Today's Papers - 13 Nov 09

Kashmir Times

Telegraph India

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Indian Express

Indian Express

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Indian Express

Indian Express

Times of India

Times of India

Times of India

DNA India

DNA India

Antony asks Navy to plug gaps
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 12
Less than an year after the Mumbai attacks, which were carried out using the sea route, Defence Minister AK Antony today ordered the Navy and Coast Guard to take a fresh look at the gaps, if any, in the coastal security and suggest a new plan to iron out the deficiencies.

The two agencies have been carrying out intensive patrolling and surveillance for the past 11 months.

Antony while chairing a meeting of coastal security said measures should be taken in a time-bound manner to plug the gaps.

"Another Mumbai type attack will not be tolerated at any cost," the minister told the high-level meeting were the National Security Adviser, the Cabinet Secretary, the Defence Secretary and the Chief of Naval Staff were among those who attended.

At a 90-minute meeting in south-block here, Antony also did a quick check on the progress made in acquiring new ships, patrol vessels and interceptor boats for the Navy and Coast Guard for strengthening surveillance along the 7,500-km long coastline.

He asked all maritime agencies to hasten the process of integration with the coastal security grid and coordination in intelligence gathering and sharing during operations.

Coastal security was on top of the government priority. Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar, who spoke on the occasion, said any effective mechanism could be achieved only when there was a combined action involving the Navy, Coast Guard and the state governments.

"States have to be integrated into the system for results as involvement of states have produced results in flow of information, which has recently started. In this, the role of fishermen is very important," he added.

The meeting was informed that the government would spend Rs 6,000 crore on procurements for Navy and Coast Guard and another Rs 300 crore to establish a chain of 46 radars, a critical component of coastal security.

Veteran Day: Quotes, Free Meals, Parade and many more

Scott G

Wed, Nov 11, 2009 22:24:37 IST

VETERAN DAY which is also known as Armistice Day is an effort of honoring the veterans of the war. The 1st world war ended after the German signed Armistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.

It is a legal and a federal holiday in USA. In 1938 it was declared as a National Holiday by the then American President. On this day the post offices, Drivers license stations, state government offices are closed. In Iowa most banks are closed. In Minneapolis Wells Fargo is closed whereas the US bank is open.

West Virginia represents the most veterans in the country having 202000 out of the total 24 million military veterans of USA. Veterans Administration said that there were 2.2 million living veterans of World War II and out of them around 900 are dying every day.

The only living legend of World War I is Frank Buckles aged 108. He had joined the army at a tender age of 16.

In World War 1, World War 2, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam War and Korean War around 621000 Americans have died.

Some of Veteran day quotes of war are:

“We know more about war than we do about peace, more about killing than we know about living.” Gen. Omar Bradley.

“The military doesn’t start wars. Politicians start wars.” Gen. William Westmoreland.

“What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purist joys and happiness God has granted us in this world.” Gen. Robert E. Lee

Each and everything counts, so one should just take out some time and send Veterans Day thank you message to all the Veterans.

Veterans day free meals are available at a few places mentioned below:

Applebee's Neighborhood Bar and Grill, 502 N. Veterans Parkway, Bloomington.

Bob Evans, 801 IAA Drive and 2115 W. Market St., both in Bloomington

Outback Steakhouse, 1409 N. Veterans Parkway, Bloomington

Krispy Kreme, 201 N. Veterans Parkway, Bloomington

Veterans Day Parade had brought New Yorkers and Americans together to honor those people who served the defense of our democracy.

Veterans Day being observed in US to mark Armistice


Wed, Nov 11, 2009 17:49:19 IST

TO HONOUR the veterans of World War One, Veterans Day also known as Armistice Day is being observed all across America. The day marks the end of the 1st world war, as Germany signed the 'Armistice on November 11, 1918.

As a tribute to the American soldiers, Veterans Day has been declared as a national holiday and both federal and state government observe it as holiday. America has at present almost 25 million military veterans and there are at least 2 million veterans of the World War II.

The only living veteran of World War I is Frank Buckles. America has lost 6 lakh men to wars since the first world war and the Veterans Day is observed to pay respect to these men. Tributes all across America are being payed to the veterans on Veterans Day 2009 to all those, who have laid down their lives for the cause of the nation.

The Veterans Day was celebrated as the Armistice Day on the initiative of President Woodrow Wilson. It was on this day that the World War I was brought to an end by the agreement between the allied nations and Germany. Veterans Day celebrations is now observed with the objective of stopping war and fighting in different parts of the world.

Some of the Veterans Day Quotes are:

“We know more about war than we do about peace, more about killing than we know about living.” Gen. Omar Bradley.

“The military doesn’t start wars. Politicians start wars.” Gen. William Westmoreland.

“Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a solder dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.” Otto Von Bismark.

Sri Lanka's top general resigns, may run for prez


STRONG MAN: Sri Lanka's Chief of Defence Staff Sarath Fonseka takes part in a ceremony in Colombo. (file photo)

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's top general, who engineered the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after a 25-year war, has resigned, sources said on Thursday, amid speculation he will run for president as an opposition candidate.

General Sarath Fonseka is expected to challenge his Commander-in-Chief, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in an election due to be held by April.

If Fonseka enters the race, analysts expect it to weaken Rajapaksa's core voter base and erode the incumbent's present monopoly on claiming political capital from the war victory.

"General Fonseka had submitted his resignation to the president," said a military source.

Another defence official speaking on condition of anonymity said the resignation had been sent. Two other sources confirmed the same.

Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is the president's brother and served as army officer in combat alongside Fonseka, told Reuters he did not know about the resignation. "The president didn't tell me," he said.

In July, Rajapaksa promoted the then-army commander to a newly created post, chief of defence staff, which many analysts saw as neutralising the wide powers Fonseka had been given in wartime.

The government has repeatedly denied any split between Fonseka and Rajapaksa, but evidence of a long-brewing rift has been clear. Numerous ruling alliance politicians have publicly rubbished Fonseka's ability to lead the nation as president.

Opposition parties have been happy to fan speculation of Fonseka's potential candidacy to unsettle the ruling alliance and help find any issue that can help them erode the incumbent's enormous post-war popularity.

Rajapaksa has called for early presidential and parliamentary polls to be held by April in what analysts have said is a manoeuvre to lock in a second term before his post-war popularity fades over issues like the cost of living and public wage hikes.

Trade unions allied with the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and pro-business United National Party have joined hands in an ongoing five-day labour action, demanding pay raises the president pledged to give after the war ended.

The government's agreement to reduce its budget deficit under a $2.6 billion International Monetary Fund loan could complicate Rajapaksa's ability to deliver on that pledge, a fact the Opposition parties know.

Although both parties are ideologically incompatible, they have both indicated they will back Fonseka for the purpose of defeating Rajapaksa.

Pakistanis worry about US nuclear intentions

By TIM SULLIVAN (AP) – 4 hours ago

ISLAMABAD — In Washington, the ultimate Pakistani nightmare is that the country's nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of Taliban militants or rogue soldiers.

In Islamabad, though, talk of nuclear weapons taps into a very different fear: Washington.

The United States, they'll tell you in this capital city of well-ordered neighborhoods and retired generals, wants to seize Pakistan's arsenal. And as Pakistan spirals into ever-worse bloodshed, they worry Washington might find an excuse.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber attacked a crowded northwestern market, killing 24 people. In the most audacious assault, militants stormed the Pakistani army headquarters last month, raising fears around the world of a security apparatus that has trouble protecting its own generals — let alone a nuclear arsenal estimated at 70-90 warheads.

There is "a unilateral U.S. plan to have a force in Pakistan to attempt to take out the (nuclear) triggers and thereby decapitate the nukes," Shireen Mazari, editor of the prominent English-language newspaper The Nation, wrote in a front-page editorial. "Is that why we are seeing so many covert U.S. personnel coming into Pakistan?" she continued, a reference to the widespread belief that American military contractors are slipping into the country.

Such talk reflects the delicate and often contradictory nature of Pakistan-U.S. relations as well as the peculiar role that nuclear weapons play in Pakistan's self-image.

Certainly not every Pakistani is worrying about American nuclear commandos, but it's far from just the extremist fringe. Although Washington has given billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan over the years, the U.S. is also seen here as an untrustworthy ally willing to betray its friends without warning.

Polls have repeatedly shown that many Pakistanis are highly distrustful of the United States, and that many even view the U.S. as an enemy. In the streets, it's easy to find people who blame the recent surge in violence not on the Taliban, but on the CIA or the tarnished U.S. security contracting company once called Blackwater.

Washington's warming ties with archrival India do little to ease suspicions among Pakistanis, many of whom see an Indian hand behind most of the country's troubles.

In many ways, though, it's easy to see why people are suspicious. Ties between Washington and Islamabad are seldom clear. CIA drone aircraft, for instance, regularly fire on militants in isolated Pakistani villages. While top Pakistani leaders would privately have to approve such attacks, those officials — sensitive to public fears — publicly rail against the drone strikes and demand the U.S. end them immediately.

As for nuclear weapons, in Pakistan they are far more than just a secretive branch of the defense ministry.

"Look here, this is our most important totem pole, our nuclear capability," said opposition lawmaker Ayaz Amir.

The current round of hand-wringing was set off this week by an article in The New Yorker questioning Pakistan's nuclear security. It said Washington had detailed knowledge of Pakistan's arsenal, had worked with Islamabad to harden nuclear installations and had trained a secret team that could secure the weapons in case of a crisis.

While questions about nuclear security have been raised for years, and the existence of a U.S. team has long been rumored, Pakistan's response was immediate, angry and loud.

_ "Preposterous," said the Foreign Office.

_ "Absurd," said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

_ "Fantasies," said The Nation.

Such reactions — a mix of defensive outrage and fury that their own government might be giving nuclear secrets to Washington — don't surprise people who watch this country.

"Nuclear status is an extremely important issue for Pakistan," Hassan Abbas, a former top government official now at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said in an e-mail. "Especially at a time when it is faced with multiple life-threatening challenges."

Pakistan's nuclear weapons program is many things here. It is a sign of Pakistan's technological prowess and it's a point of pride that Pakistan has the Muslim world's only nuclear missiles. It is also, they say, a strategic insurance policy, a way to ensure that Pakistan cannot be obliterated in an atomic firestorm launched by India. At the very least, Pakistan will be able to fire back.

But Pakistan also has plenty of challenges. Taliban fighters have staged a wave of increasingly bloody attacks against civilian and military targets over the past few months, raising the violence after a government offensive began in October in the semiautonomous region of South Waziristan. The rugged mountainous tribal area, just across the border from Afghanistan, is the main Pakistani stronghold for the Taliban and al-Qaida.

The militant attacks have reached far from those strongholds, leaving more than 300 people dead since the beginning of October. Suicide bombers have hit public markets and a U.N. office; gunmen have killed one general in the streets of Islamabad and injured another; commando-style raids paralyzed the eastern city of Lahore.

Most alarming, though, was the October storming of the Pakistani army headquarters, in the nearby city of Rawalpindi. The attack lasted 22 hours, left 23 people dead and brought Taliban fighters into the heart of the country's powerful security establishment.

In public, Washington insists it is confident of Pakistan's nuclear security.

"The United States has no intention to seize Pakistani nuclear weapons or material," U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson declared in a statement. The New Yorker article, though, insists Washington is — in private — very worried.

But inside Pakistan, it is heresy to raise such concerns, and many people can reel off the nuclear safeguards: strict oversight of personnel, physical separation of weapon components, complex locking systems.

"It is under secure lock and key and no one can come near it," said Amir, the opposition lawmaker.

Israel sells system to India

Thursday, November 12, 2009 | by

Israel will supply an upgraded air defense system to India after signing a $1.1 billion contract Nov. 9 during a visit to Israel by the head of India’s army, Gen. Deepak Kapoor, Reuters reported.

The state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. has promised to deliver the Barak-8 tactical air defense system to India by 2017. Israel is India’s largest defense supplier.

In August, the Indian cabinet approved a $1 billion deal with the Israeli government-owned Rafael Advanced Defense System under which the company will provide 18 of its SPYDER air defense system, which can intercept missiles in a 25-mile radius, by 2012. — jta

Indian Army still facing a dearth of officers

November 12th, 2009 - 5:37 pm ICT by IANS Tell a Friend -

By Ritu Sharma

New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) The Indian Army is grappling with an acute shortage of officers. Despite the recession, it has been unable to attract more talent and contain their outflow. In 2008, the army was able to take in 1,500 officers - but over 1,800 left the force.

The army now faces a shortage of 11,238 officers.

“It is a very peculiar situation. Despite the recession and relaxation of our requirements the number of officers leaving the army is more than the number of officers we have managed to take in,” a senior officer familiar with the situation told IANS.

“What adds to the worry is that the negative inflow has been witnessed despite an economic slump,” he added.

The negative flow of the officers in the army has been witnessed since 2007 when nearly 1,780 officers resigned or retired, compared to the intake of about 1,750. While there has been a constant outflow of officers in the past, the army had managed to induct more before that year.

The army received 535 voluntary retirement applications in 2005, 810 in 2006, and 1,265 in 2007. The defence ministry’s approval depends on the need of the armed forces. The army approved voluntary retirement for 365 officers in 2005, 464 in 2006 and 608 in 2007.

“Concerned by the situation, we have made it mandatory that officers with less than 15 years service will be considered for premature retirement or resignation only on medical grounds,” another officer said.

The army’s sanctioned strength is 46,615 officers, but it has been facing a shortage of 11,238. The problem was aggravated when about 3,000 officers sought premature retirement in the last three years. Most of them moved to the lucrative corporate sector.

The data for 2009 has not been compiled yet.

“But there has been an increase in the number of withdrawals of premature retirement applications since January 2009. We hope that the trend will be reversed this year,” the officer said.

“In the past six months 65 officers have withdrawn their applications for premature retirement.”

Now, the army is hoping the financial crisis and the Sixth Pay Commission — which has increased their salaries — will help bring in many more to the armed forces that is facing a shortage of middle-rung officers in particular.

Retd army man exposes defence pension racket

Vaibhav Ganjapure, TNN 12 November 2009, 06:35am IST

NAGPUR: A retired Lieutenant Colonel has moved the high court here claiming that many persons were illegally drawing pension meant for World War-II (WW-II) veterans. The 61-year-old Lt Col Shrikant Kane produced information obtained under Right to Information (RTI) Act and said as many as 59 persons were being given pension in contravention of eligibility norms for years. The amount involved may run lakhs.

The petitioner who retired as regular officer of Indian Army's Corps of Signals after over two decades of service has prayed for directions to the state government to investigate the matter and arrest the beneficiaries. Alternatively, he demanded an enquiry by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) within a stipulated period.

A division bench comprising justices Dilip Sinha and Filomeno Reis issued notices to the respondents - state home secretary and Ram Nagar police station officer at Chandrapur -- on Wednesday asking them to file replies within two weeks. According to counsel for the petitioner Anand Parchure, the World War-II veterans (or their widows) who had taken part in the battle as uniformed soldiers of Indian Army and who retired from active service till 1949 used to get Rs 300 monthly pension. This benefit is being given as per a government notification dated December 29, 1989. It was raised to Rs 600 in January 1999 and finally to Rs 1,275 in 2004.

These grants were provided by director, department of sainik welfare (Maharashtra), who has to arrange payment and subsequent accounting to the eligible persons through Zilla Sainik Welfare offices under the respective district collectors in the state. Kane claimed that three persons were allegedly reaping pensionary benefits even after being recruited at the end of second world war- August 14, 1945 - which is contrary to the rules. Citing reports received from Accountant General (AG), Nagpur office, he claimed that Zilla Sainik Welfare office in Chandrapur had illegally paid Rs 2.18 lakh to these three persons - one male and two widows.

The petitioner who obtained this information through RTI pointed out this fact to the Zilla Sainik Welfare Officer in Chandrapur. It, in turn, passed on the information to Department of Sainik Welfare. Still, the payments to the three persons continued. The retired Colonel has also apprised principal secretary and AG office about these irregularities but no cognizance was taken.

When the petitioner filed another query under RTI about list of persons availing WW-II benefits, he learnt that as many as 59 ineligible persons were reaping benefits. Earlier also, Kane had filed a civil petition in this regard and the court had directed police to register a complaint against such persons on September 9. Still, the government failed to take any steps resulting in huge amounts being paid to undeserving persons, he claimed.

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