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Saturday, 16 January 2010

From Today's Papers - 16 Jan 10







New Delhi, January 15
Less than a week after he stressed on preparedness for two-pronged war with Pakistan and China, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor today said “we want cordial and peaceful relations with both”.

His earlier statement on Pakistan had received vehement protest across the border. Minutes after reviewing the Army day parade, the Army chief said, “India has always believed in maintaining peaceful and cordial relations with its neighbouring countries,” He was addressing his troops, senior officers and foreign dignitaries here on the occasion of 62nd Army Day. He went on to add “With China, we want to continue peace. We want cordial relations and peace with Pakistan too”.
General Kapoor’s statement comes just a week after Chinese and Indian defence delegations met in Beijing where China had reportedly told India that it should get “worked up” over reports. The two countries plan to resume their bilatral exercises from next year onwards. China is slated to host talks. It could not be conducted in 2009 and is not scheduled for this year also. Meanwhile, on the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir and north eastern states, the Army Chief said the current situation was very much under control. “It was fully under control of the security forces”.
Referring to the changes in the geo-political and security situation, General Kapoor said this was an era of bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation and India had pursued it by holding highly enriching joint-training exercises with several countries.
He listed out the start of armed forces tribunal, the married accommodation project in forward and high altitude areas, hike in allowances and better facilities, as some of the welfare measures launched recently.




Scam taint
Army chief must take resolute action
Army chief General Deepak Kapoor has admitted, belatedly though, that the Sukna land scam in West Bengal has hurt the image of his fighting force. The only way to redeem the image is by taking resolute action against all those found to be involved in the transfer of 70 acres of prime land to a dubious developer. Four generals have been indicted in the case by an army court of inquiry. General Kapoor has ordered disciplinary action against Lieut-Gen P.K. Rath and served show-cause notices on two other generals, but Army Headquarters is considered to be going soft on Lieut-Gen Avadhesh Prakash, who is a close aide of the Army chief as the Military Secretary, and faces only ‘administrative action’ instead of the harsher court-martial. No wonder, during the chief’s customary annual press conference ahead of Army Day on January 15, most of the questions were related to this raging controversy.
General Kapoor’s promise that justice will be done is reassuring, but it would be worthwhile only if actual action is taken against everyone blamed for a string of lapses in the case. This has become all the more necessary since the Eastern Army Commander, Lieut-Gen V. K. Singh, who is tipped to be the army chief when General Kapoor retires on March 31 this year, had recommended that Lieut-Gen Avadhesh Prakash be sacked. Yet, he was only served a show-cause notice for administrative action.
In fact, General Kapoor has added another entirely avoidable sub-text to the whole controversy. When asked whether there was a rift between him and Lieut-Gen V K Singh, he commented that “in armed forces, there can’t be a rift between a senior (himself) and a junior officer (General Singh) … This is the ethos and the hierarchy they follow”. Such fault lines in the top brass are hardly good for the 1.13-million strong Indian Army. 





It’s time to have Admiral of the Fleet
by Premvir Das
In a piece published in a national daily recently, Lt Gen SK Sinha (retd), a former Governor of Assam and Jammu and Kashmir, has written of how on January 1, 1973, Gen SHFK (Sam) Manekshaw was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal.
It is now known that this proposal, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s very own, came to fruition in the face of heavy opposition from a united civil bureaucracy which could not stall the PM’s decision but did everything in its power to oppose almost every measure that would give dignity to the rank, even putting the FM below the Cabinet Secretary in protocol, all acts petty beyond compare.
It took many decades and a visit from the President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, to a terminally ill 90-year-old Manekshaw at his house in the Nilgiris for the Field Marshal to get even his arrears of pay, not a meager amount at Rs 1.3 crore.
Nearly three decades later, Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh of the Air Force was made Marshal of the Air Force, a position on a par with Field Marshal. If Sam was the hero of the 1971 war which led to victory over Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh, Arjan Singh had led the IAF with great distinction in the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and was widely respected.
Clearly, both elevations were very well deserved and, in a tangible way, were in recognition of the roles that their respective Services had played in making the country stand tall.
For some reason the government has not considered it necessary until now to honour the Navy in the same way. This cannot be because its exploits in war have not been extraordinary.
While, the hostilities in 1965 did not see the Navy coming into play in any significant way, the conflict in 1971 saw its exploits receiving admiration in military circles around the world, not just in India.
The two raids on Karachi, the citadel of the adversary, one on December 4 followed by another on 8th, resulting in the sinking of several ships and destruction of oil fuel storage facilities there, wreaked havoc and traumatised the people to an extent that few other military actions until or since then have done.
In the East, the Indian Navy played a significant role in sealing all escape routes for the beleaguered adversary, which was crucial to obtaining the surrender of nearly 90,000 officers and men of the Pakistan Army/Navy/Air Force. Surely, these achievements called for some recognition by the government.
The architect of the naval raids and actions in the war of the 1971 was the then Navy Chief, Admiral SM Nanda. It was his brilliant approach and decisive leadership – recall that his own Commander-in-Chief was shying away from the offensives against Karachi fearing the possibility of severe losses – that led to the successes described earlier.
By any reasoning, he merited elevation to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet, if not immediately after the war then at least along with Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh.
This did not happen. It is, of course, well known that by this time Admiral Nanda was reeling under a spate of innuendoes as an “arms dealer” because a company formed by him after his retirement, and later taken over by his son, was engaged in the supply of spare parts and maintenance support, partly to the Navy but largely to the Coast Guard.
Allegations of malfeasance against the Admiral have never been proved but the defamation stuck. No charges were ever preferred in any court of law.
In this background, the government, probably to avoid controversy, chose to let the ‘old man’ wither away, which he did. When he died at the ripe old age of 94, he continued to stand erect, disdainful of the efforts to sully his name.
Thus, recognition of his service through the creation of the rank of Admiral of the Fleet was held back, not so much an affront to him than to the Navy that he loved and had commanded with such great skill and leadership and which, in every way, had performed on a par with the other two.
Yet let bygones be bygones. “Charles” Nanda, as he was fondly called by all those who knew him, has made his tryst with the Almighty. But the Navy remains, the nation’s guardian at sea and one of the guarantors of our territorial integrity. To treat the Navy as a sort of step child considering that the other two Services have on their Army and Air Force Lists a Field Marshal and a Marshal of the Air Force, respectively, is patently unfair, even unkind.
This scenario is not only demoralising to those who serve their country at sea but also speaks poorly of a government that is not sufficiently grateful.
Clearly, it needs to move because as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said more than once, there are things whose time has come. Creating an Admiral of the Fleet is one such.
Who is this person to be is the question. Obviously, he should have headed the Navy at some time in the rank of Admiral. He should have a reputation which would make his elevation welcomed and be free from any controversy. Even in retired life he should be widely admired and respected by the serving community.
In short, he should be a true leader, not only in times when he wore uniform but equally in times that he does not. Is there such a person, is the next question that can be asked.
This is where the Prime Minister comes in. No Departmental Promotion Committee recommended the upgradation of Sam Manekshaw to Field Marshal. The decision was that of the Prime Minister.
Presumably, the same route was followed in the case of Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh. So, there are precedents.
Let Dr Manmohan Singh first reassure himself that the country’s Navy must have an Admiral of the Fleet in the Navy List and then decide who would be the most suitable for wearing the braids of that rank. The task should not be too difficult.
As the Navy prepares to meet the complex challenges that will confront it in the years ahead, it should know that it stands right up front in the peoples’ consciousness. As the repository of their confidence, the government needs to do things to show that we care.
The writer is a former Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command






ST Kinetics Targets Major Opportunities in Indian Defence

22:26 GMT, January 15, 2010 New Delhi | ST Kinetics today said that it will be fielding the world's first and longest in-service 155 mm 52 Calibre towed Howitzer, the FH 2000, in field trials next month. The company is hopeful that the stalled trial of the 155 mm calibre 39 Pegasus Lightweight Howitzer (LWH) will also recommence very shortly.

ST Kinetics is a subsidiary of the ST Engineering in which the Singapore Government has a stake of 51 per cent through Temasek Holdings. ST Engineering, with a turnover of US$3.8 billion in 2008, has a workforce of over 20,000 employees, and global operations in Aerospace, Electronics, Land Systems and Marine.

ST Kinetics plans to address India's strategic needs and is fielding tailored solutions to meet the requirements of the modernisation programmes of the armed forces. These include the iFH2000 155mm 52 Calibre Howitzer for the Towed Gun requirement and the Pegasus 155mm 39 Calibre Lightweight Howitzer for the Ultra Lightweight Howitzer program. ST Kinetics has also offered the SAR 21 Carbine with its proven reliability and performance.

Speaking at the Press Conference, Brig Gen Patrick Choy, Chief Marketing Officer, said "ST Kinetics has a 40 year lineage in defence and over a billion dollars in revenue earned from being a market leader in many areas. For example, we are a leading 40mm grenade solutions provider and manufacturer of other class leading defence products. We are a much accoladed company, recognised with many awards for our innovation in defence technologies including those for the Pegasus, Trailblazer, Bronco, SAR 21, 40mm Air Bursting Munitions. We have a strong Engineering background and a large number of IPs. The company is respected for its integrity, transparency and high standards of corporate governance.

"We are ideal partners for the modernisation programs of the Indian armed forces. ST Kinetics' 155mm 52 Calibre Howitzer is the first to be fielded in the world. Our head-start in the development of the whole family of 155mm Howitzers has given us certain advantages in the design and development of a towed gun that could meet the Indian Army's total fire power needs. ST Kinetics believes our system is superior in many ways and it would prove itself during the field trials. The strongest credential for the FH 2000 is its long years in service, having been inducted in regular service as far back as 1993," he said.

He further said, "The Lightweight Howitzer Pegasus is a highly operable and portable system that meets the Indian Army's total battlefield needs. The ST Kinetics engineering team has also ingeniously retained the flexibility for the Indian Army to retrofit it into self propelled lightweight 155mm Howitzer system that could operate in the plains. Pegasus is deemed to be superior in its class with its unique self propelled capability, flexible configuration and lower crew fatigue due to powered handling. The gun is already in India in Gwalior and is awaiting a call to trials."

ST Kinetics has been designing and developing Howitzers for the last 30 years, including the FH 88, a 155mm Calibre 39 towed Howitzer, the FH 2000 155mm 52 Calibre Self Propelled Howitzer, the Pegasus Lightweight Self Propelled Howitzer and the Primus 155mm tracked Self Propelled Howitzer. ST Kinetics will continue to develop capabilities in artillery systems.

ST Kinetics is also offering innovative and customised engineering solutions including dual use systems such as the Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carrier for frontline defence and disaster relief applications. With its all terrain capability, the Bronco would be an excellent protected mobility solution in view of India's vast and diverse terrains.






‘India, Pakistan urged to cut defence budget by 10% yearly
Saturday, January 16, 2010
By By Shahid Husain
Karachi

Pakistan and India should cut their defence budget by 10 per cent every year and spend it in social sector, former law minister and Co-chairman Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Iqbal Haider said on Friday.

Speaking at a news conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) after participating in a peace conference held at New Delhi from January 10 to 12, he said that the peace activists of Pakistan and India would be meeting at Islamabad in the third week of March. He requested the Pakistan government to issue “multi-entry visas” to peace conference delegates. He said that Indian editors and intellectuals would also be visiting Pakistan in February, besides a delegate from the Indian Federation of Commerce and Industry was expected to visit Pakistan shortly. Iqbal Haider was flanked by B.M. Kutty and Sharafat Ali of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and Asad Saeed Butt of HRCP.

“Terrorism and Jihadi culture is not the answer; only peace is the answer to the problems faced by the two neighbours,” he said. “Poverty in both these countries can only be eliminated if there is peace in this region and terrorism is eradicated,” he added.

“We greatly appreciate the Amn ki Asha initiative by the Jang Group and The Times of India Group. It’s a brilliant idea. These conferences of peace activists are supplementary to Amn ki Asha. We have no differences in our objectives,” he said.

He said that there were as many as 800 Pakistani citizens, including fisherfolk, languishing in Indian prisons and the roadmap towards peace includes joint India-Pakistan committees on prisoners, Kashmir, human rights, distribution of water resources, hate speech, military expenditure and confidence building measures (CBMs).

“Some people from Pakistan proposed to discuss Balochistan issue at the conference but we rejected it because we thought it should not be discussed on Indian soil,” he said. He, however, made it clear that there were not two opinions that military action in Balochistan should come to a halt, adding, maximum provincial autonomy should be given to that province and “missing” people should be recovered.

The Declaration of “India Pakistan Conference: A Road Map towards Peace” urged the resumption of dialogue and the composite peace process and said once resumed the dialogue should be uninterrupted and uninterruptible. It called for considering a suitable location near the border where the talks could be held at regular intervals.

It said there should be coordination amongst the various ministries of the Indian government involved and concerned with India-Pakistan relations and policy; there must be no militarist/chauvinist statements from political or military leadership of the two countries; confidence building measures must be initiated on items awaiting solution such as Siachin, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage and they need to be settled, besides demilitarising the border between India and Pakistan.

The declaration also said that both the countries should work together to counter terrorism and fundamentalism “which are common challenges” and set up joint mechanisms, and share intelligence and related information within the framework of the 1987 SAARC convention on combating terrorism.

The declaration emphasized upon free flow of goods and commodities and encouragement of joint business initiatives and said that India must unilaterally open the borders to further facilitate border trade, ease customs and tariff procedures as well as issuing business visas.

Referring to Kashmir dispute, it said that since it was a “core issue”, therefore, there must be a “genuine and urgent effort to find solutions”. It said that both India and Pakistan must jointly agree to de-militarise Jammu & Kashmir and the Indian government should repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The declaration called for rolling back the nuclear programme in both the countries to establish a nuclear-free South Asia and cooperate jointly towards global disarmament. It also called for the joint management of water resources and revisiting the Indus Water Treaty in the light of new factors such as climate change and its implications based on the principles of equitable sharing rather than division of waters.

The declaration said that Siachen Glacier must become a “zone of peace” and evacuated from army altogether.

Prominent amongst those who spoke at the peace conference in New Delhi, included: Kuldip Nayar, Aitizaz Ahsan., Admiral (retd) L. Ramdas, A.H. Nayar, Asma Jahangir, Hasil Bizenjo, Yasin Malik, Akbar Zaidi, Ayesha Siddiqa, Mani Shankar Ayar, Salman Haider, Mahesh Butt and Madeeha Gouhar.






Report : India's Defense Industry Poised For Huge Growth

New Delhi, India (AHN) - The defense industry in India is poised for huge growth driven by modernization plans, an increased focus on homeland security, and India's growing attractiveness as a 'home market' defense sourcing hub.

A joint study by CII-KPMG, "Opportunities in the Indian Defense Sector: An Overview" reveals that the Indian Industry is upbeat about the opportunities in defense and aerospace, and eager to grow its industrial capabilities in this space.

Richard Rekhy, Deputy CEO, KPMG in India said that with skilled intensive manufacturing capabilities and a world class IT base, India has the right ingredients to become a key link in the global defense supply chain.

The study also reveals that the industry is looking at the government to establish a sustainable defense industry in India.

India currently procures around 70 percent of it equipment needs from abroad. It aims to reverse this balance and manufacture 70 percent or more of its defense equipment from within the country.

Gurpal Singh, Deputy Director General, CII said, "The need of the hour is to combine the skills of the public and private sectors to develop a partnership that can achieve the aim of self-reliance in defense production."

The report says that the Indian government needs to fine tune areas like the procurement process, the need for a defense industrial strategy for India and tax and regulatory incentives to help in the growth.

Marty Philips, Global Head, Aerospace and Defense, KPMG, said, "India is at a hugely exciting juncture in the growth of its defense industry. By leveraging off its own major defense procurement cycle and its inherent skills and capabilities, India can use this opportunity to become a major defense production hub for both domestic and global defense systems."

The report also highlighted a number of areas for additional exemptions or concessions which could be used to promote the development of the industry.





Singapore defence firm says it was never blacklisted by India
PTI
Friday, January 15, 2010 20:19 IST
New Delhi: Six months after the Defence Ministry froze its dealings with the Singaporean defence firm ST Kinetics, the company today said it was "never blacklisted" by India.

"The fact that trials are now allowed to be continued after six months, it must be clear that we are not a blacklisted company. We were never blacklisted and the word blacklisted has never been told to us. Only certain dealings were put on hold," ST Kinetics' chief marketing officer Patrick Choy told reporters here.

He said the CBI had talked to the company but it was never told about the charges against it.

On May 17, 2009, the CBI had registered a case against former Ordnance Factory Board director general Sudipto Ghosh and after that, the Defence Ministry blacklisted seven defence firms including ST Kinetics as the CBI was investigating their role in the FIR.

All the deals involving them were put on hold resulting in the postponement of field trials of the ultra-light and towed howitzers for the Army, in which ST Kinetics was participating.

Last month, the Defence Ministry had allowed trials involving the blacklisted companies and said they would be awarded contracts only after they were cleared by the CBI probe.





India wants cordial ties with Pak, China: Army chief

Fri-Jan 15, 2010

New Delhi / Press Trust of India
After his doctrine of two-front war with Pakistan and China drew flak from across the border, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor said on Friday that India wanted to foster "cordial and peaceful relations" with both the nations.

"India has always believed in maintaining peaceful and cordial relations with its neighbouring countries," Kapoor told his troops, senior officers and foreign dignitaries in New Delhi on the occasion of 62nd Army Day.

"With China, we want to continue peace. We want cordial relations and peace with Pakistan too," he said after reviewing a smartly turned out Army Day Parade.

On the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir and North Eastern States, the Army Chief said the current situation was very much under control.

"The insurgency situation in Jammu and Kashmir is in full control of the security forces. The peaceful situation in the border state is due to the continuous efforts of the security forces. In the North East too we have ensured peace. We will continue this good work," he said.

Referring to the changes in the geo-political and security situation, Kapoor said this was an era of bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation and added that India had pursued it by holding highly enriching joint training exercises with several countries.

"Such joint exercises provides an opportunity to enhance mutual understanding," he said.

He listed out Armed Forces Tribunal for dispensing justice to personnel, Married Accommodation Project in forward and high altitude areas, hike in allowances and better facilities, as some of the welfare measures launched recently.






Indian Army Day: Road to reform?
Jan 15, 2010 03:29 EST
INDIA

January 15 is celebrated as  India’s Army Day each year. Sixty-two years ago on this day, the first Indian officer took over as Commander–in–Chief of the army.

Lately, the Indian army has been under constant scrutiny. From modernization of equipment to the moral character of the organisation, many believe the army is facing too many problems at the same time.

In the recent past, there was a media frenzy about Chinese incursions and violation of Indian air space along the Line of Actual Control and also speculation whether the army would fight the growing left-wing extremism in its own country.

N. Manoharan, Senior Fellow, Centre for Land and Warfare studies, wrote in an article that reforms in the military sector are imperative for India to make a leap from a regional power to a leading global power. They are also vital to achieve the primary objective of securing the country from external and internal adversaries, he said.

Do you think the Indian Army has too many concerns to deal with? Is it time for the army to review the many aspects of the organisation?

The theme for Army Day this year is ‘Indian Army partners in nation building’.

Is the Indian army at a stage where it can help with nation-building? Should it have started contributing to nation building much earlier?





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