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Friday, 27 November 2009

From Today's Papers -

NSG to assure safer Mumbai for citizens
Press Trust of India / Mumbai November 26, 2009, 11:59 IST

As Mumbai observes the first anniversary of the 26/11 terror attacks, National Security Guards (NSG) chief today assured the denizens of better security with the setting of an NSG hub in the metropolis.

"With an NSG hub set up in Mumbai in June this year, I assure citizens that the Black Cats would rise to their call of duty in case of emergencies," National Security Guard (NSG) unit chief N P S Aulakh said at the 'Jai Mumbai' conclave at Hotel Taj President here.

Aulakh, while thanking the city police, said the NSG commandos in Mumbai are undergoing continuous training and are conducting mock drills at various locations in the city.

"The 26/11 terror attack was the most traumatic experience not only for the citizens but also for the NSG commandos, who exhibited dauntless professionalism," the 1972 batch IPS officer said.

He further said that the manner in which the Black Cats were welcomed after the operations ended at Hotel Taj remain etched in the memories of the commandos and has reinforced the NSG's cause and motto of 'Sarvatra Sarvottam Suraksha'.

The Director General said it was difficult for the NSG commandos to immediately take over the situation as it was a new place.

"The officers had to take help from police to scour the rooms of both Hotel Taj and Trident," Aulakh said.

NSG to have permanent base at new hubs
Press Trust of India / New Delhi November 26, 2009, 10:51 IST

National Security Guard (NSG) commandos deployed at their new hubs in four cities and currently housed in temporary locations will have permanent structures at their earmarked lands by next year.

The permanent structures and multi-storey buildings will come up by next year at these places, NSG director general N P S Aulakh said.

Till the permanent structures come up, the commandos will be housed in pre-fabricated structures by mid-December this year at their designated lands, he said.

"The National Building Constructions Corporation (NBCC) had given us the deadline of November 30 for completion of pre-fabricated structures and roads etc. At the most, we will move into all the four hubs by second week of December," he said.

The regional hub at Mumbai was operationalised on June 30 while Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata hubs were inaugurated on July 1 by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram this year.

The hubs are located at Marol in Mumbai (23 acres), Nedunkundram in Chennai (85 acres), Trimulghery in Hyderabad (22 acres) and Badu in Kolkata (20 acres).

On the training of commandos, the DG said the force will have commando induction training at its Manesar (Haryana) garrison only, near the national capital.

"We have decided that in order to maintain a very high standard of training and to keep its uniformity, it (training) will be done at Manesar garrison only. This would be the basic induction training which runs for 12-weeks," he said.

"Conducting this training at new hubs or the regional centres may lead to varying standards. The hubs will carry out routine training for men who are stationed there. Hubs will also cater to train state police personnel in the vicinity of their location," Aulakh said.

For the regional centres at Kolkata and Hyderabad-- housing more than 5,000 personnel each -- the lands have been identified and the Andhra Pradesh government is "already on the job" to acquire it, he said.

The NSG, in a change of operational procedures, will now have increased co-ordination between its Army and para-military units during operations.

"There is going to be better synergy between Army and para-military men while carrying out joint training and operations. Heliborne operations are now being imparted to troops of Special Ranger Group (para-military) as was done for Special Action Group (Army)," Aulakh said.

Talking about VIP security, the DG said commandos on the duty are regularly briefed to enable them to keep their drills and procedures updated.

Aulakh, commenting on the forces' need to induct more men from the Army and central police organisations said: "Both the Army and para-military are in expansion mode. However, we keep informing the Home ministry about the requirement. They are giving us manpower and the Union Home Secretary had met Defence Secretary and this part (new induction in NSG) was also discussed."

The NSG chief, who recently visited the German anti-terror special force (GSG 9) headquarters in Bonn, said the proposal for collaboration with GSG 9 and France's GIGN is "in initial stages and will be taken up with the Ministry of Home Affairs".

Indo-Pak war is not an option: Chidambaram
Rajdeep Sardesai
FOR MUMBAI: Home Minister P Chidambaram pays tributes to the martyrs of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Union Home P Chidambaram remembering the fateful day of November 26, 2008 said that it is time for India to go beyond the grief and pain of Mumbai terror attacks. Talking to CNN-IBN's Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, the minister said India believes in Mahatma Gandhi and therefore there is no place for violence in the country. He assured that India is better prepared to tackle terrorism and said he is proud the way Kasab's trial is going on in the court.

Here is an excerpt of the interview -

Rajdeep Sardesai: The first big question is that have we learnt our lessons from 26/11? When I say ‘we’ I mean both the political establishment and civil society.

P Chidambaram: I think some of us have learnt many lessons and many of us have learnt some lessons. But I believe that sooner or later we all will learn all the lessons that have to be learnt.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Today in many of your speeches you were admitting that the equipments that our police force have today is still not good enough. Will you admit this on this show?

P Chidambaram: No, I don’t agree. It is better than what we had a year ago. It will be better six months from today and even better 12 months from today. Rome was not built in a day. I had to deal with cumulative neglect and we are dealing with it. States are dealing with it.

Rajdeep Sardesai: The part of the problem is this battle that the states are dealing with it. You as a Home Minister receive a lot of praise for finally being a tough minister but you have to deal with state home ministers and governments. But not everyone is convinced, for example the Maharashtra government is as committed as you are. Is this the way we will win our battle against terror?

P Chidambaram: That is not a problem. That is a fact that we need to taken into account that are we a unitary state or a federal state. We are a federal state and in a federal state there are certain powers with the Centre, certain with the state government and I think we have found a way in which the state and the Centre can work together at least in matters of internal security. I think the Maharashtra government has done quite a bit though we were interrupted by the elections in between and believe me in six to 12 months from today they will be better.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Shouldn’t the RD Pradhan report be made public?

P Chidambaram: It should be and it will be. I have seen the RD Pradhan committee and it has no startling conclusion. It is simply a report on the way the police worked on that day, the practical problem the police faced and many of the issues have been addressed and I am quite confident that the RD Pradhan report will be soon made public.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Why doesn’t the Government have the courage to ‘isolate’ Pakistan and cut off relations – bilateral, cultural, economic and diplomatic? (IBNLive question)

P Chidambaram: War is not the option in the 21st century. India and Pakistan cannot go to war on every issue. Two countries who will be neighbours forever shouldn’t think of getting into a war.

Rajdeep Sardesai: You have been tough with dossiers by giving evidences to Pakistan but at the end of the day Pakistan hasn’t arrested Hafiz Saeed. Are you disappointed with what Pakistan has done or were you cynical enough to believe that they would never do much?

P Chidambaram: I am not satisfied with what Pakistan has done or has been doing.

Rajdeep Sardesai: What is your answer to those who think that Kasab’s trial has taken much too long? One year after the trial continues Kasab can now go to the High Courts, Supreme Court and then he will file a mercy petition with the Union Home Ministry which will lie in the list of mercy petitions. It could take years before any action is taken against him..

P Chidambaram: I am proud of the fact that we are a country where there is a rule of law and we don’t try Kasab in a kangaroo court and hang him overnight as they do in some other countries. A murder trial will take time and in Kasab’s case believe me it has been fast tracked as all the prosecution witnesses I believe have been examined. That is a remarkable achievement and I compliment that. I think Kasab’s trial shows India into great light that it is a country, which regardless of the great pain it suffers, puts a terrorist into an open fair trial.

Rajdeep Sardesai: The citizens are still disconnected from the police, from the entire security apparatus. They are still fearful of going to the police station. Will this change?

P Chidambaram: A citizen must not be fearful to go to the police. He must learn to respect the police and the police must learn to deal with the citizens. The citizens are the masters. Attitudinal changes are required from both the sides. We need to remember that the policemen come from the same stock from where you and I come.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Our constables fight AK47s with lathis, yet we spent Rs 31 crore on Kasab’s trial. What is your take on this? (IBNLive question)

P Chidambaram: It is a completely misplaced criticism. I can’t confirm that Rs 31 crore was spent on Kasab’s trial. But that is not the point. Kasab was the sole terrorist whom we arrested as of the 10 terrorists nine were killed that day. He is a very important catch. He is the main lead which made Pakistan admit that the terrorists and masterminds were Pakistanis and forced Pakistan to start the trial. If Kasab was also killed Pakistan will be in a state of complete denial. So, Kasab has to be protected and tried.

Rajdeep Sardesai: After 9/11, America fundamentally changed and there hasn’t been another 9/11 in their country. Can you say with any assurance that this country will not face another 26/11?

P Chidambaram: I asked this question to my American interlocutors and they could not say that either. After 26/11 there hasn’t been an attack on India but how can anyone say that there won’t be another attack. All I can say to the people of India is that we are better prepared than what we were a year ago and we will be better prepared a year from today. We are more competent, have more capacity and are more confident. However, if there will be an attack I think we will be able to respond more decisively.

Rajdeep Sardesai: If you have to say the three achievements of the Government since 26/11, what will you say?

P Chidambaram: The fact that there has not been a 26/11-kind of attack on India. This is a sort of achievement because the vulnerability of the India given our geo-political situation remains as high as it was a year ago. Secondly, I think most of the states are now more prompt in responding to our suggestions and I think the police force in the states is much better in terms of the capacity to fight a terrorist. And third, which I think is the most important; we have been able to accomplish a more coordinated intelligence sharing in a matter of 12 months. The US told me that they were able to accomplish such kind of intelligence sharing in about 36 months.

Rajdeep Sardesai: One year from now, will we all forget our lessons from 26/11?

P Chidambaram: You may forget but I won’t forget. I live with it everyday and therefore I will never forget it. Neither will I forget my responsibility to deal with the intelligence reports that come everyday. And therefore my successors, if they are conscientious ministers as I believe them to be, I am sure they’ll learn to deal with such situations.

Rajdeep Sardesai: What is the one message you want to give to the people of India today?

P Chidambaram: My message is that we should go beyond 26/11, fear, grief and mourning, paying homage to those who lost their live that day and should reach a point where we can say that we have the confidence and the capacity to face any adversaries and overcome any threat. Beyond this I want to say that this is the land of Gandhiji in thought, word and deed. Each of us from law-abiding citizens to the extremists must come around and shed violence. There is no place for violence in thought, word and deed in India.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Those were the fine words from you. Let us hope that the people of India imbibe them, the idea of India survives and we go beyond 26/11.

National defence messed up
Politicians the root of the problem
by Inder Malhotra
WITHOUT doubt the Vice-Chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Marshal P. K. Barbora, is a maverick. Or else he would not have been speaking out so bluntly as he has done. For this he has predictably drawn flak.
Those who criticise him for speaking out of turn while still being uniform do have a point. But there is a bigger and more worrying question that needs to be answered: Isn’t every word of what the intrepid Air Marshal has said absolutely accurate? Must the grim state of affairs he has exposed to the light of day be brushed under the carpet again?
Let us leave out the controversy over women as fighter pilots that he started; the Air Force can sort this out. But no more time should be wasted before coming to grips with the key problem: the messing up of national defence by the way politicians and political parties of all hues and the political operate.
Other factors, of course, aggravate this depressing situation. The military itself seems to be reluctant to plan for the long term. To compound this, the three services habitually change their “qualitative requirements” all too often. “Firewalls” between the defence forces and the insufficiently informed civilian bureaucracy of the Ministry of Defence can delay proposals unduly.
It is true that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), despite the good work it has done, is unable to make good its tantalising promises, as the fate of the main battle tank and the Light Combat Aircraft so eloquently underscore. No fewer than 450 LCAs should have been produced by now to replace the IAF’s earlier workhorse, Mig-21. Not one has entered service yet!
This enables the Service Chiefs to demand imports of the latest and best equipment from abroad rather than rely on indigenous production. Consequently, 62 years after independence India has to import 70 per cent of all military hardware.
However, when all is said and done the main cause of unconscionable delay in decision-making is political. At a time when they need to be vigilant against both China and Pakistan, the Indian armed forces are not properly equipped. At one level, it is this country’s alarmingly contentious political culture that is at work. Whichever party may be in power, its adversary in the Opposition resists vehemently all decisions to acquire weapons and equipment. And when the power sea-saw goes the other way, the roles of both sides are immediately reversed.
Suspicions of massive corruption in every lucrative defence transaction, which cannot be dismissed out of hand, have undoubtedly contributed to the virtual gridlock. But no corrupt person — politician, military officer, bureaucrat or arms agent — has ever been brought to book. Indeed, the classic Bofors case that contributed to Rajiv Gandhi’s defeat in the 1989 general election is a telling example of how India handles the gift of the grab in defence purchases.
Without an iota of doubt there was corruption in the purchase of Bofors 155 mm gun. The amount distributed was Rs 64 crore, which is small beer compared with the amounts that are merrily changing hands these days.
Moreover, seven governments have come and gone since Bofors burst on the Indian scene with the force of a mini-nuke. These have included one that vowed to “expose the guilty men of Bofors” within 15 days but couldn’t do so during the 11 months it lasted. Another that ruled for six years was long on the promise to mete out just deserts to the “culprits” but woefully short on performance.
The story became steadily worse. Some people did make money but the gun they bought was excellent, as became evident at the time of the Kargil War. However, so shocking is our defence management and so inflexible our procedure that after putting a blanket ban on any further dealings with Bofors, the government made no alternative arrangement to either buy from elsewhere or manufacture domestically ammunition for the large number of Bofors howitzers.
So when the crunch came, we had no Bofors ammunition, and had to buy it at three or four times the normal price. No one is sure that the ammunition situation is any better today.
Finally, as the fish begins to rot at the head, unacceptable delay in decision-making on defence takes place at the top — at the level of the defence minister and his cabinet colleagues. Sadly, India has not always been well served by its defence ministers. Some of them didn’t have a clue to their critically important charge. Ironically, the cleverest of them, V.K. Krishna Menon, did a lot of damage in his arrogant ways. No wonder, during the border war with China in 1962, the country spent more energy on ejecting him from South Block than on beating back the invaders.
Some times, prime ministers have made the cardinal mistake of taking over the defence portfolio themselves and leaving it to a handpicked minister of state to run it. In Arun Singh, Rajiv Gandhi had an MoS of competence but the two were then drifting apart.
P. V. Narasihma Rao left the Defence Ministry to the tender mercies of Mallikarjun whose best friends never claimed that he had any knowledge of matters military.
Today’s Defence Minister, A. K. Antony, is a senior Congress leader burdened with some party chores unrelated to his official duties and a fine man. But his knowledge and experience of security issues is limited. Moreover, his overriding concern for probity and transparency in defence acquisitions is leading to indecision.
Against this backdrop, let me cite just one example of the resultant havoc. After careful consideration, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had invited offers for 126 multi-role warplanes this country needs. The United Progressive Alliance that has been in power for more than five and half years fully agreed with what the National Democratic Alliance had done.
However, has the desperately needed acquisition of the 126 aircraft moved an inch forward? Meanwhile, the prices of these magnificent machines are piling up as does the ticking meter of a taxi.
As far back as in 1963, the government had planned to have an air force of 64 squadrons. Later, for want of resources, the target was lowered to 45 squadrons. Today, the air force consists of only 39 squadrons of which only 30 are combat squadrons. Indeed, The IAF now is no better equipped than it was in 1962 but we boast of being a “global player”.

Home and Abroad
by Lieut-Gen Harwant Singh (retd)
At Manmad, we changed train for Ahmednagar. As I got down at the station I was accosted by the railway staff for carrying three items in my baggage. It consisted of a suitcase, bedding and a small radio (transistors had not come into vogue). I was told that penalty will have to be paid. There was no rule where only two items were allowed. Still I opened my bedding, put the radio in it and rolled the bedding and then had only two items. But the railway staff was adamant.
Another member of the staff, from my part of the country, taking me into confidence, suggested that I pay the chap Rs 50 and get him off my back. The railway staff was working as a syndicate. With frayed temper I threatened the stationmaster that I would report the matter to the Railway Board. That got them off my back.
We landed at Harwhich, on the English coast, from where we were to take the train for London. Delayed at the immigration check point, we reached the ticket counter when the clerk was in the process of closing down. He told us that tickets will be issued in the train. But no one came to issue us the tickets. As I got down from the compartment at London station, there was a ticket collector standing nearby to whom I explained that we were told that tickets would be issued in the train, but no one did so. He said, it is not your fault. Someone should have issued the tickets in the train. Well, your journey is over so you carry on.
We were joined in Scotland by our nephew, a government officer, who had taken return train ticket for Glasgow via Manchester, where he had some official work. Return tickets on British Rail are much cheaper. On return journey to London he wanted to travel with us. We had tickets for the direct route while our nephew had one for the longer route. He was worried that his travelling on a different route will come under objection. So we marched off to Glasgow to change his ticket.
While looking for help, we were spotted by a railway official. He said: “Gentlemen you are looking a bit harassed. How can I help you?”
Our nephew, cast as he was in the Indian bureaucratic mould, explained his predicament. His travelling, on the direct route, with his current ticket will be objected. The official told him that he had paid more money for his ticket, being of a longer route and his now travelling by a shorter route, which costs less, can be objected only by a bloody fool!
We bought tickets at Harrisburg for New York, two days in advance of our journey. Later we learned that as senior citizens, we could get a hefty rebate. So before boarding the train we went to the ticket counter and explained the situation to the clerk. He informed us that we should have told him that we were senior citizens. Then he looked at our grey hair and said that he was sorry: he should have realised this on his own. He took our tickets and issued new ones and refunded the excess amount.
Why in India is it so different?

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