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Monday, 15 February 2010

From Today's Papers - 15 Feb 10








Pakistan troops violate Line of Control truce, fire rockets

Press Trust of India, Sunday February 14, 2010, Jammu


A Junior Commissioned Officer was injured as Pakistani troops pounded Indian posts with 15 rockets and opened indiscriminate machine gun fire along the Line of Control in Poonch district in the "biggest" ceasefire violation in Jammu and Kashmir.


There were 17 infiltration bids and nine truce violations along the border this year. The last ceasefire violation occurred on January 26 when Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked firing in Kanachak sub-sector of Jammu.


Pakistani troops fired 15 under-barrel grenade launcher rockets on five Indian forward defence locations from its eight border posts along the LoC in Krishna Gati sub-sector of Poonch district at around 1815 hours on Saturday, Brigadier General Staff, 16 Corps, Brig Gurdeep Singh told PTI.


It was followed by the heavy firing by machine guns on the forward posts, he said adding "the heavy and indiscriminate firing continued for two hours".


The rockets missed the intended target and exploded near the posts, he said adding that one JCO Subedar P C Thakur of 17 Mahar Regiment was wounded and taken to a hospital.


Indian troops fired from small arms weapons and intermittent exchanges ended early today, he said.


"It was for the first time such a large number of rockets were fired and also several Pakistani posts were involved in the firing with heavy weapons," Brig Gurdeep said.


"This is biggest ceasefire violation so far. we will lodge a strong protest with our Pakistani counterparts at a flag meeting today," he said.


The aim of the firing by Pakistani troops was to give cover to infiltrating militants, officials said adding, however, their objective was not successful as all the border posts were alerted.


"Pakistani forward posts were instrumental in facilitating infiltration into Indian territory," BSF DIG S Sagwan had said earlier.


Information from various security agencies involved in security grid in Jammu and Kashmir has put figure of infiltration attempts at 433 in 2009, which is 91 attempts

more than 2008.


As per the police figures, 342 infiltration attempts were made from across the border in 2008, while 2007 and 2006 reported 535 and 573 such attempts along LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir, where over 100 militants managed to sneak in.


The BSF had said infiltration attempts along the border is up and measures have been taken by security forces to foil these bids as it is an area of concern at a time when violence has gone down in Jammu and Kashmir.


Addressing the Chief Ministers' Conference on Internal Security in New Delhi earlier this month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said though there has been a marked decline in the number of terrorist incidents from 2008 to 2009 in Jammu and Kashmir, infiltration levels have shown an increase in the same period and "recently there have been some incidents which are disturbing."



DRDO to document staff health profile
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has launched a massive project to document the health profile of all its employees and form a comprehensive medical data bank of its staff that would identify people susceptible to certain medical disorders like stress, coronary problems and diabetes.

The programme will cover the entire cross-section of DRDO employees, including scientists, administrative and technical staff and class-IV workers. Some 30,000 DRDO employees would be screened for cardiac and metabolic disorders.

“Our staff works in extreme environment like high altitude and deserts and is also exposed to high-pressure work situations, psychological stress, lasers, chemicals, radiation and other hazards,” Dr W Selvamurthy, Chief Controller, DRDO, said. “Hence, it has become a societal concern and it is our corporate responsibility to monitor their health and take preventive measures,” he added.

Dr Selvamurthy said a limited survey exercise was carried out five years ago and it was restricted to employees over the age of 45 years. The survey revealed several cases related to diabetes and coronary problems where early intervention proved highly beneficial.

He said people generally do not go for routine medical check-ups and, consequently, the “silent killers” affecting an individual’s health do not get detected.

Individuals would be required to respond to a detailed written questionnaire seeking information about their lifestyle, home and work environment and medical history. This would cover their habits pertaining to smoking, consumption of beverages and alcohol, physical activity, medications being used, history of illness in the family and recent events that could have an emotional and psychological impact.

This would be followed by a physical examination and blood test for estimating various biochemical and metabolic parameters, ECG and X-ray. Further investigations would be carried out if the values are not within specified limits or indicate some disorder.

Henceforth, every DRDO employee would be given a health identification number and card and a complete record of his or her medical history would be maintained from the time of recruitment.






A gateway to the Indian defence mart

Ajai Shukla / New Delhi February 15, 2010, 0:35 IST


Global arms suppliers are scurrying to partner local manufacturers in order to secure a share of the steadily growing Indian defence pie.


If there is a global economic slowdown or a recession, no signs of it are visible at the Pragati Maidan exhibition grounds where Defexpo 2010 will be held from 15th to 18th February. Some 650 exhibitors, ranging from global defence giants to Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs), have worked almost round the clock over the last week to put together displays that would do justice to the capital city of the world's biggest buyer of weaponry.


A sneak preview by this correspondent on the eve of the show revealed a glitzy array of stalls that included eye-catching laser displays, high-tech weaponry and functioning aircraft simulators.


Defexpo 2010 is a feat of organisation considering that, two months ago, it was still being decided whether Pragati Maidan would be available for the exhibition or placed under renovation for the Commonwealth Games. On 7th December it was handed over to the Defence Exhibition Organisation, which hosts each Defexpo. Meanwhile, the CII, which had been the event manager for Defexpo 2008, pulled out, saying that it had incurred a loss last time.


Despite these handicaps, especially the short time available, the lure of the Indian defence market has ensured that practically every global defence major will be at the exhibition. Attendance is up 50 per cent over last year; more than 250 foreign companies will be here. There are 30,200 square metres of display stalls, almost double that of Defexpo 2008, the last exhibition, which sold 17,000 square metres of display space. Inclusive of the outdoor displays, this year’s figure goes up to 40,000 square metres.


India’s first major defence exhibition was an air show, Aero India 1998, while the first land and naval systems exhibition — the first of the Defexpo series — took place in 1999. Encouraged by their success, the MoD decided to hold a Defexpo and an Aero India air show every two years. The Defexpo — this one is the 6th — is held in even years, while the Aero India show is held in odd years, both of them in the month of February.


The biggest exhibitor this year, India’s Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO), plans to use Defexpo 2010 to establish linkages with prospective technology partners across the globe. The DRDO has rented 1,400 square metres of display area for which it has shelled out more than Rs 1.5 crores. A close second is Israel, with 1,200 square metres of display space for its defence companies; since foreign exhibitors pay almost thrice as much as Indian companies, Israel has paid Rs 3.5 crores for this space.


The Defence Exhibition Organisation’s stated aim is to promote the Indian defence industry. That translates not just into cheaper display space for Indian companies, but also extra discounts for SMEs, many of which work at the cutting edge of military technology.


But foreign defence companies are hardly complaining about the expense. For them Defexpo 2010 is an important opportunity for winning a share of the Indian defence market, whose value a recently released CII-KPMG report estimates at some $100 billion (Rs 460,000 crores) between now and 2022. Besides this, India will spend $9.7 billion (almost Rs 45,000 crores) by 2016 on homeland security. The CII-KPMG report's estimation could be conservative, given that India already spends more than $11 billion (Rs 50,000 crores) annually on foreign military supplies and the defence budget is likely to continue its steady rise.


Currently, international defence majors supply almost 70 per cent of India’s requirements of capital acquisitions. The Indian government has declared, without setting a timeframe, that it will source 70 per cent of its defence needs from Indian suppliers. The global majors are, therefore, scurrying to partner Indian defence producers in order to become a part of the Indian defence business. Right now, there is a Foreign Direct Investment cap of 26 per cent in the field of defence, but the government has already signalled, in its Economic Survey for 2009, that this could be raised to 49 per cent.


Tie-ups with Indian firms are also being driven by foreign vendors’ need to discharge offsets liabilities accruing from recent and future sales to India. The MoD’s offset regulations impose a minimum offset of 30 per cent of the contract value for all contracts above Rs 300 crores. In practice, the offset liability has been set as high as 50 per cent in the contract for multi-role combat aircraft. This has to be discharged through the purchase of products or services from Indian defence companies; or through investments into the industrial infrastructure of Indian defence JVs; or through investment in Indian R&D organisations. In each case, the foreign vendor must identify an Indian partner through which it will discharge its obligations.


Defexpo 2010 provides defence companies with a platform for meeting prospective offset partners. It is providing, for the first time in an Indian defence exhibition, facilities for Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings between vendors. Vendors have also scheduled a host of product launches during this exhibition.


Another highlight of Defexpo 2010, particularly for vendors who want more clarity on Government of India policy, will be a series of seminars that have been scheduled during the exhibition. One of the most keenly anticipated will be the seminar on ‘The Indian Army next generation systems — an evolution’, which will include key officials like the Secretary, Defence Production; the Vice-Chief of the Indian Army; and the directors of the armoured corps, infantry, artillery and air defence. Another will be the seminar on ‘Leveraging offsets for naval self-reliance’, which will be addressed by the chief of the Indian Navy and key naval procurement officials.


The success of any defence exhibition is eventually determined by the amount of business that is done. Defexpo 2010 may not generate an enormous amount of actual signing. But while Indian defence procurement follows its own slow cycle, the growing churn in India’s defence production environment will be enough to make this Delhi visit a crucial date in the diaries of most global and Indian defence companies.





Army, DRDO want L&T; but Antony bats for BEML

Ajai Shukla / New Delhi February 15, 2010, 0:55 IST


DPSU to be nodal agency for Sarvatra bridge; L&T sidelined after developing it.


The Sarvatra, an assault bridge, which allows advancing tanks to spearhead to quickly bridge canals and water obstacles, remains denied to Indian strike forces even though its design was completed years ago. The reason: Defence Minister AK Antony wants to give the lucrative order for manufacturing Sarvatra bridges to MoD-owned Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), rather than to Larsen & Toubro, the private company that spent a decade designing the Sarvatra in partnership with the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO).


Antony has ignored the recommendations of the army, the DRDO, and his own officials, while nominating BEML as the nodal agency for the Rs 170 crores contract to build the first eight Sarvatra bridges. In a baffling order, Antony has noted on file that he agrees with the army’s and DRDO’s recommendations in favour of L&T; but he nominates BEML as the nodal agency for the first eight bridges. This controversial decision, with the potential to attract CAG and CVC intervention, has not yet been implemented.


The MoD has not responded to an emailed questionnaire on this subject.


BEML, one of the MoD’s eight Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), claims that it should be the nodal agency because it manufactures the Tatra high-mobility vehicles on which the Sarvatra bridge is carried. Each of the Sarvatra’s five sections is mounted on a Tatra. But L&T points out —- and the army and DRDO agree —- that BEML has had nothing to do with the engineering of the Sarvatra, a complex, decade-long process of engineering aluminium structures.


Whichever of the two is the nodal agency, initially L&T will manufacture the bridges while BEML will build the Tatras. But the nodal agency will obtain more prestige and profit: recognition as the builder of the Sarvatra, and profit margins over the entire bridge. The nodal agency also decides the improvements in technology. It could choose an alternative partner in the future, or even go it alone.


L&T worries that the initial contract for eight bridges is merely the thin end of the wedge. Once BEML is nominated the nodal agency for those, a precedent will have been established for the army’s entire requirement of 50 Sarvatra bridges. Priced at about Rs 22 crores each, the entire order is worth Rs 1100 crores.


BEML has not responded to an emailed questionnaire on this issue; and L&T officials have declined to be interviewed for this article.


However, in multiple interviews, entrepreneurs from private companies engaged in defence manufacture —- speaking off-the-record to avoid offending the MoD —- unanimously allege that South Block openly favours DPSUs. Besides the MoD’s obvious financial stakes in the DPSUs, point out private sector officials, MoD officials sit on the board of each DPSU.


BEML’s 11-member board includes two MoD joint secretaries, in their ex-officio capacity.


However, Minister of State for Defence Production, MM Pallam Raju, told Business Standard that there was no question of this impairing the MoD’s impartiality. Insisting that MoD officials would remain on DPSU boards, the minister said, “…There is a necessity to support them (DPSUs) to some extent. And the role of the [MoD] joint secretaries, when they are on the boards of DPSUs, it is to exercise the control of the government and to drive them to greater efficiency and to ensure that they survive well. They (the bureaucrats) should be on the boards; there are no two ways about that.”


Denying any conflict of interest for the board members, Pallam Raju explained, “When it comes to [deciding on procurements], it is… not the same JS [who is on the board of the DPSU]; The procurement official would be looking for the best price and delivery. There is no conflict of interest… it is a different individual.”


The Sarvatra Bridge allows Indian mechanised forces, including the 60-tonne Arjun tank, a quick crossing over canals and rivers that come in their path. Capable of bridging a 75-metre canal or river in less then two hours, this would leave the enemy with little time to side-step forces to block the Indian advance. The Sarvatra will replace the East European PMS Bridges, which require 57 Tatra vehicles to bridge 100 metres. In contrast, the Sarvatra, with just five Tatras, bridges 75 metres. At Rs 60 crores per set, the PMS costs almost thrice as much as a Sarvatra.







Forget The Sideshows

K Subrahmanyam, 15 February 2010, 12:00am IST

Most of our media commentators and the strategic community's senior members have expressed pessimism about US President Barack Obama's Af-Pak surge strategy. Doubts have been voiced about the viability of the London plan to win over reconcilable Taliban. Meantime, NATO and the US publicly announced their now ongoing offensive on the town of Marjah in Helmand province with a 15,000 strong force. It is claimed this was meant to encourage reconcilable Taliban to change sides. In addition, the US recently stepped up drone strikes and Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has been killed. The Pentagon in its Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) has announced that the use of combat drones will be stepped up by 75 per cent.


The media's gloomy predictions recall similar ones when the US started its anti-Taliban offensive in 2001. It is not uncommon for people outside the professional intelligence community to be influenced by historical memories and prejudices, summarily formed judgements and ideological predispositions. But policymakers have to try to derive the best professional assessments possible to formulate a country's policies and responses.


Consider public perceptions, some two months ago, about Obama giving in to the Chinese. Pundits who forwarded the thesis are having some difficulty explaining recent developments in US-China relations. In this case, the government assessment was not wholly different from the public consensus. Had that not been so, interaction between government and media in a democracy would have somewhat rectified the public debate. Wrong assessments have high opportunity costs for a country in diplomatic, political, economic, military and technological terms. Even in a mature democracy like the US, a totally wrong assessment on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was formed, thanks to wilful political pressure. The US paid a high price for it.


Professional analysis of the Obama strategy will focus on what will happen in the next three months as the surge gets completed and the forces take action, instead of being obsessed with the beginning of the withdrawal some 18 months later. The latest US QDR says, "The first (objective) is to prevail in today's wars" in Afghanistan and Iraq the first time this objective has been stated in a QDR. "America's ability to deal with threats for years to come will depend...on our success in the current conflicts." In other words, the US doesn't have the option of losing the war and withdrawing from the Af-Pak area.


US director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair recently told the Senate committee: "Islamabad's conviction that militant groups are an important part of its strategic arsenal to counter India's military and economic advantages will continue to limit Pakistan's incentive to pursue an across-the-board effort against extremism...Islamabad has maintained relationships with other Taliban-associated groups that support and conduct operations against US and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces in Afghanistan...It has continued to provide support to its militant proxies, such as (the) Haqqani Taliban, Gul Bahadur group and Commander Nazir group...The Al Qaeda, Afghan Taliban and Pakistani militant safe haven in Quetta will continue to enable the Afghan insurgents and Al Qaeda to plan operations..."


CIA director Leon Panetta said one of the greatest concerns was a possible al-Qaeda attack on the US in the next 3-6 months; the threat was the prime reason the US has undertaken to dismantle terror infrastructure. A media report recently suggested that the US National Security Council has downgraded the intelligence priority of China. The speculation is that intelligence effort is concentrated on Af-Pak. In his State of the Union speech, Obama, referring to the war, said he was no quitter. He has designated five terrorist organisations as enemies to be dismantled, disrupted and defeated. He has also warned that, when actionable intelligence is available and Pakistan does not act, the US will do so.


These are among the relevant inputs for an assessment on how the situation will develop in Pakistan in the next few months and how its army will react to the US surge strategy impacting on terrorist groups. US defence secretary Robert Gates had warned about the possibility of a terrorist attack on India to enable the Pakistani army to evade meeting US demands for action against jihadis. Presumably India, by inviting Pakistan for talks, was attempting to enlarge its space for manoeuvre in case of an attack. The Pakistani army may face a situation where jihadi groups are attacked by the US and they in turn retaliate against Pakistani cities and army targets.


General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has hinted at the possibility of moving against Haqqani. Will he actually do a Musharraf-like U-turn and cooperate with the US? India's joint intelligence committee should focus on these issues; so should our public discourse. It should be remembered though that the 9/11 plot was hatched in Pakistan and subsequently a number of Lashkar-e-Taiba plots have been uncovered in the US. The epicentre of terrorism against the US is yet to be subdued and US security ensured. That is what the war is about. The Afghan Taliban is a sideshow.


The writer is a strategic affairs analyst.







Devil's Advocate: Army chief on Sukhna land scam

Karan Thapar


IN DEFENCE OF THE ARMY: General Kapoor accepts that the scam has embarrassed the Army.


The Sukna cantonment land scam is an “individual misdemeanour” and does not reflect on the Army, insists General Deepak Kapoor, Chief of the Army Staff. Kapoor accepts that the scam has to “some extent embarrassed” the Army but assures “it will not go unpunished”. Kapoor told Karan Thapar on Devil’s Advocate he believed the media should be better informed about how military law works while reporting about the scam.


Karan Thapar: Let’s start with the Sukhna land scandal which has been headline news for the last three months. Would you accept this has embarrassed the Indian army and has affected the way Indian people look at the Indian Army?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: Yes, Karan to some extent it has embarrassed the Indian Army. But I would say what is more important is to see what steps the organization has taken to try and ensure such incidents do not get repeated.


Karan Thapar: Looking back and given that this is a matter of propriety and there are no specific charges of corruption, could it have been handled better?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: I think in our country the media has been super active on this issue and I think if they had been better informed and if they knew how the military system of law works, they would have handled it in a more positive fashion than in a purely negative perspective.


Karan Thapar: Would you say the media has been unfair?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: Possibly, at times they may have been over reactive. Keeping in mind the sensationalism, TRP ratings etc are involved, they may have been overactive to sensationalise the issue.


Karan Thapar: In a statement dated 1st Dec 2009 the Eastern Command of the Indian Army said the press coverage “amounts to character assassination of senior army officers”. Is that also your view?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: It could well be to an extent yes. Because if it is based on totally informed issues, then definitely it would be appropriate. But when at times when it is not fully informed, not fully aware of all the facts, and then passing judgments really amounts to character assassination.


Karan Thapar: Since you say the media was not well informed, shouldn’t the media have been informed better, given more information by the army?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: That has always been attempted and continuously my media staff has been trying to interact with the media to give the overall perspective to them.


Karan Thapar: So would you say it was done inadequately?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: I don’t think it was done inadequately. I would say it depends on how at times they could sensationalise those aspects. The same kind of news could be given in a positive or a negative twist.


Karan Thapar: Are you saying the media has been sensationalising the issue?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: No, I would only say that media has not been fair and objective in this particular case and to an extent has sensationalised the issue especially when things like scam, scandal etc have been talked about. When you refer to a scam it means certain amount of money involvement, wrongdoing in terms of making money etc etc. As far as this case is concerned there has been no indication of any kind of money involvement.


Karan Thapar: Should the media treat senior officers, not just Generals but Brigadiers, Major Generals who are charged with corruption differently from the rest of the people?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: No, not at all ! I don’t think so. In fact, every person who has to face some kind of investigation should be treated at the same level without any problem at all.


Karan Thapar: Hasn’t the media done so? That is, treat the other people with the same intensity and focus as they have done for Army officers?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: I think since the entire process of disciplinary proceedings are on, it would be too premature to pass a judgment on that. We would get to know with the passage of time, as to if the media been totally fair or not.


Karan Thapar: Let me come back to my original question. Could this have been handled better?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: If I may suggest to you, it was not an outside agency, Karan, which asked us or pointed out the flaw to us. It was the Army itself. The organization is resilient, objective and is concerned of its image in the public eye. So, keeping that in mind the enquiry was ordered by the Army itself. Therefore it has been self-corrective action which has been undertaken by us.


Karan Thapar: So, there are no decisions or actions which in hindsight should have been taken differently?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: I think we have gone totally by the way it should have been done and that is what we follow throughout.


Karan Thapar: The press and several of your predecessors have raised certain issues I want to touch upon. First of all, before you made your initial decision to take action against the four indicted generals did you consult the Defence Minister?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: Karan, you know it is a process. When such a thing happens, obviously the Defence Minister will also be concerned, when some senior officers have alleged to be involved in a thing like this. So a degree of interaction always takes place and it is not right to assume that no such interaction takes place. Naturally, I have to keep the government informed of the happenings in the organization.


Karan Thapar: If I understand correctly, you are saying you had discussed the matter with the Defence Minister before taking the first step?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: I said it is an ongoing process and It may be wrong to assume some actions are taken in isolation. It is an ongoing continuous process and that’s what you would expect a professional organization handling an issue like this to do.


Karan Thapar: So there were consultations with the Minister all the time?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: I leave it to you (but) I’ve said that in as many words.


Karan Thapar: Second, do you think you erred in initially proposing administrative action for three of the officers and disciplinary action for one? Should you not have considered the same punishment for all four?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: As I covered earlier some time back, when I had to look at the issue, I had to ensure that I was fair, just, that everyone was looked at, based on the degree of culpability involved of that individual in the case. You cannot put everyone on the same bracket and, therefore, kind of tie with the same kind of hooks.


So, therefore having seen that, I also had to be concerned that what is the kind of effect it would have on the organization as a whole. All these are considerations and finally, let me also be very clear that I had also to be concerned that my decision does not be swayed either by personal or media bias when it was taken.


Karan Thapar: So the same punishment for all four would not have been justified?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: That’s right.


Karan Thapar: The media believe you appear to have been softer on General Prakash, who as Military Secretary was close to you.


Gen Deepak Kapoor: I have covered the aspect that I had to be conscious of the fact that I did not have any personal or media pressure on myself. Let me also put it this way that General Prakash is one of the PSOs (Principal Staff Officer).


I have total of eight PSOs serving under me and they happen to be there by virtue of whatever professional reputation they have enjoyed in the past. Therefore one PSO is as dear or far away from me as the other.


Karan Thapar: So the accusation that you have been partial to General Prakash is unfair?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: I would say that.


Karan Thapar: Third, many people feel the Defence Minister was wrong to have made public his advice that you should take disciplinary action against Gen Prakash. This step has been seen by many as interfering with the prerogatives of the Army Chief and undermining the office of the Chief of Army Staff.


Gen Deepak Kapoor: Firstly, I would not like to comment on the aspect of Defence Minister being wrong. I would not like to comment on that. Secondly, it is a matter of advice. When we are interacting certain amount of discussion, debate does take place. And when I have to take a decision, I had to take all the factors into considerations.


The Court of Inquiry, findings, its opinion, the show cause notice, the response to it and all other relevant facts when I come to a conclusion. Therefore, I have taken that decision and that is what has been promulgated.


Another aspect I would like to touch upon is that the aspect of legal recourse is not complete. Only the first step has been taken in the form of Court of Inquiry. There are other aspects which are going to continue which include the Summary of Evidence which will happen.


Court of Inquiry is only a fact-finding body which establishes a prima facie case and once the summary of evidence has been written down, that is when the Commanding Officer looks at the facts and then decides what has to be done next.


Another aspect which I wish to clarify is, somehow in the civilian perception the meaning of court martial is not really understood. It really implies trial by a military court. Sometimes there is a perception on the civil side that just because a person is being tried by Court Martial he is bound to get the worst of punishment or he is headed for the gallows. That is not right. In fact it is meant as any other court to perform a function. There are many people who have been acquitted in the past.


Karan Thapar: Coming back to the Defence Minister’s public advice. If I understand your answer correctly there is nothing wrong or improper in that.


Gen Deepak Kapoor: I don’t think the Defence Minister gave any public advice. I am sorry but just because it has been orchestrated in the media doesn’t mean it becomes public advice.


Karan Thapar: It was leaked to the media and probably deliberately.


Gen Deepak Kapoor: Look, I do not know about that, as to how the media got hold of it.


Karan Thapar: But does it embarrass you? The fact that the media has found out about it?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: That is a separate issue, and it has no concern with me. As I said I was looking at the facts of the case and I would like to be away from any kind of media pressure to say. This doesn’t matter to me.


Karan Thapar: The reason I brought up the Defence Minister’s advice is because it is connected to the fourth issue that I want to bring up. After issuing a show cause notice, on what grounds did you change your mind and opt for disciplinary action instead.


Gen Deepak Kapoor: Like I said, I just covered this aspect a little while back, when I said that besides fact finding opinion of the court the reply to the show cause notice was also considered. When we look at all these facts, I did what I felt was the best course of action and when this happens all the aspects of the case would also come out.


Karan Thapar: The media has said that you were under pressure from the Defence Minister to change to disciplinary action.


Gen Deepak Kapoor: The media has talked a lot about so called pressure on the Army Chief but, like I stated in the beginning, the media has not been fair on the Army Chief.


Without trying to criticize the media let me put it this way that if the media had armed themselves with better knowledge of the legal system within the Army and better knowledge of the facts perhaps they would have treated the subject a little differently than what they did.


Karan Thapar: In your earlier answer you mentioned that one of the factors that made you change your mind to recommend disciplinary action was the reply you got from the show cause notice issued to Gen. Prakash.


But in the Armed Forces tribunal his lawyer has publicly said, and the papers have published this, that you undertook to order disciplinary action without applying your mind to his reply. In fact the lawyer said the proof of this is that you ordered disciplinary action within 48 hrs of receiving his reply.


Gen Deepak Kapoor: I think we are getting for too much into the specifics of the case. The case is still in its initial stages, only the first portion has been completed and it will be inappropriate for me to go into further details.


The issue has been set into motion whether the Armed Forces Tribunal or the recording of Summary of Evidence, whenever that happens Karan. I would like to refrain from any further comments than what I have already said--


Karan Thapar: I understand your reluctance to be drawn deeper into what is a tricky and awkward situation. But one more question that has been again in the media in recent days.


If the Armed Forces Tribunal was to decide that the Court of Inquiry, which was initially conducted, was improperly conducted because Gen Avdesh Prakash was not present when witnesses deposed, as is required by Army rule 180, would that not then mean that what ever action you took thereafter including the disciplinary action that was recommended would become infructuous, and wouldn’t that embarrass you?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: Again you are referring to the specific nuances of the case and if you have to ask this question the right people are the Armed Forces Tribunal. Because that’s where the case is being discussed.


As far as I am concerned, it will have to be coming out in the court. But we are in the process and it is not the end. So far it is just the beginning. There is a lot more to happen.


Karan Thapar: Gen. Kapoor, the reason why I have explored the various issues that are embedded in this case is because, as you said in the beginning of this interview, this is an embarrassment to the Indian Army.


But looking at it seems to me that far from being nipped in the bud, now that the Court Martial has got underway there will be lawyers involved and the issue will drag on and on. The Armed Forces Tribunal could also give a verdict and stop the court martial or make things complicated. Isn’t it getting worse and worse for the Army?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: Let me put it this way. I think the legal system and the norm desires that everything must come out appropriately. If there is a legal process to be followed, let it be followed. Let me also clarify to you, the damage to the Army’s image, whatever little extent it got done, I look at it as an individual misdemeanour. It got done initially when the media kept harping on it.


I do not think just because the legal system would like to look at it as to the exact truth and how it happened, therefore treat the offender in the fashion it deems fit. It wouldn’t in any way damage the army any more, because it would bring out the true extent of culpability of the individual. It will also show that the legal system both within the Army and within the Country is very fair to each and every person.


Karan Thapar: So what you say is that even though it may be embarrassing, it is important that it be done transparently and it is important that the whole world see that the Army is self correcting, so that at the end of the day the Army’s good name prevails.


Gen Deepak Kapoor: I could not have put it better.


Karan Thapar: So even though there may be awkward moments for you and your successor and the case may drag on, you say that this process is in the best interest of the Army and it redeems itself much better than any institution.


Gen Deepak Kapoor: The Army has always tried to do so, and will continue to strive to do so. Because to me as the Army Chief and to the Army as a whole, the image that the nation holds for the Army matters, because we have to respond to any challenges that come to our nation’s integrity and image.


Karan Thapar: And, in the process, what message would you like to send to your junior officers, not just Generals but Lieutenants, Captains, Majors, who are at the start of their career?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: As I have mentioned earlier, it is an individual misdemeanour which may have happened in the service. It does not take away the basic inherent qualities of the Army and the kind of image it has.


And whenever such misdemeanours happen, it will be the responsibility of the Army’s hierarchy to correct those, to let others know that it will not go unpunished and to treat such people in a fashion which will not only give a message but also an advise to all.


Karan Thapar: What you are saying is don’t judge the Army by one or two officers. The Army as an institution is clean and will always stay so?


Gen Deepak Kapoor: Yes, I say that, and I also say that while the Army comes from the same socio-eco milieu where rest of the country’s organization draw their strength and manpower from, we in the Army try to infuse a set of culture and values which place our people at a slightly higher pedestal, because we know that we are always in a glass house watched by everyone.


But that’s not the only reason, because we like to put in our people the kind of values which are required to defend the territorial integrity of the country.


Karan Thapar: Gen. Kapoor, a pleasure of talking to you.


Gen Deepak Kapoor: Thank you very much.






India to spend $200 bn on defence systems by 2022

14 Feb 2010, 1858 hrs IST, IANS

NEW DELHI: India is set to spend a whopping $200 billion on defence acquisitions over the next 12 years to replace its outdated Soviet-vintage



According to a study by the India Strategic defence magazine, nearly half of this funding, or $100 billion, will go to the Indian Air Force (IAF) which would need to replace more than half of its combat jet fleet as well as the entire transport aircraft and helicopter fleet.


The Army needs new guns, tanks, rocket launchers, multi-terrain vehicles while the Navy needs ships, aircraft carriers, an entire new range of submarines including nuclear-propelled and nuclear-armed.


The Army has the largest requirement of helicopters while the Navy needs both combat jets, helicopters, and a fleet of nearly 100 carrier-borne combat jets.


The details of the study will be published in March but according to a brief report in India Strategic's DefExpo show daily being published Monday, it is not that India has military ambitions but just that more than 70 per cent of the inventory of the Indian Armed Forces is 20-plus years old, and needs to be replaced as well as augmented with the sophistication of modern technology.


There have been few defence deals after the allegations over the acquisition of Bofors in the 1980s, and Russia, which inherited the Soviet military infrastructure, is unable to meet all the requirements.


According to official Russian reports, only 10 per cent of the Russian weapons could be described as modern.


All the three services as well as the Coast Guard and paramilitary organisations also need satellites and net centricity.


Plans to acquire surveillance aircraft, lesser in capability though the IAF's Phalcon AWACs and the Navy's P8-I Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) are also being worked out.


Pilotless intelligence aircraft (drones) generally called UAVs, including those armed, are also on the top of the list of the three arms of the forces.


The report says that the Pakistani 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai, in which scores were brutally killed and wounded, has given a wake up call to India and that the authorities had realised that 24-hour, 360-degree eyes and ears and preparedness to meet any attack were a necessity.


That also meant increased diplomatic and security cooperation with other countries.


It may be noted that the only major aircraft to be acquired by the IAF is the Su-30 MKI, some 280 of which have already been ordered in successive follow-on deals that do not involve fresh tendering and are easy to go through procedurally.


IAF has a plan to build 45 combat squadrons (about 900 aircraft), up from its maximum effective strength of 39.5 squadrons a few years ago. Many of its aircraft have been phased out due to simple ageing.







    * American company offers to upgrade Russian Tanks


New Delhi, Feb 14 (PTI) American defence major Raytheon has offered to upgrade around a 1,000 Russia-origin T-72 tanks of the Indian Army and enhance their capability to carry out operations in the night.


"In partnership with Larsen and Toubro, we have submitted our bids for upgrading the T-72s and have offered our solutions for increasing the lethality of these tanks," Raytheon Vice President for India operations Fritz Treyz said here.


The Indian Army is in the process of upgrading its T-72 'Ajeya' tanks and equipping them with more capabilities, including doing away with their inability to fight in the dark.


Interestingly, this would be the first time in India when an American company has offered to upgrade Russian origin inventory of the armed forces.


Other companies in the fray include a team of Israeli Elbit and Bharat Electronics Limited; and Russian Rosoboronexport.







The army’s agony


I don’t know if you’ve been following ‘the Sukhna Land Scam’ but the more I read the more dismayed I become. It’s been presented as a dark smear on the good name of the Indian Army. I’m not sure if the facts support that conclusion but, alas, the handling certainly appears to. As far as I can tell, no one is accused of graft or misappropriation. This seems to be primarily an issue of propriety. But despite that — and this is the rub — it’s hurt the army’s reputation for transparency and cleanliness.


I assume the details are well-known. Therefore I shan’t repeat them. It’s the way they’ve been pursued that raises disturbing questions. That, today, is my concern.


First, the army’s handling of this issue. Given that Army Rule 180 requires that any witness whose ‘evidence’ could harm the reputation of an officer must depose in his presence, why did the court of inquiry not ensure that Lieutenant General Avadhesh Prakash was present when such ‘evidence’ was heard? Retired army chiefs maintain this rule is sacrosanct. So why did the court of inquiry overlook it?


Next, given this was a high profile and controversial case, did the army chief consult Defence Minister A.K. Antony before deciding what action to take against the four indicted generals? In an interview to me, broadcast tonight on CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate, he suggests he did. In that case, did the defence minister fail to make clear he disagreed? Or did the chief ignore him? Worse, did the defence minister first concur but then, influenced by the press, change his mind?


The army chief has been criticised for recommending different punishments for the four indicted officers. It’s claimed this is ‘proof’ he was treating Lt Gen Prakash leniently. But General Deepak Kapoor says to have treated all four similarly would be disregarding their different degrees of culpability. Quite frankly, it’s a credible argument. But why was it not presented to the press in the chief’s defence? Failure to do so permitted the media to persist with the claim he had erred.


Second and most importantly, why was the defence minister’s advice to the chief to order disciplinary action against Lt Gen Prakash made public? And let me add, I don’t believe this happened without Antony’s concurrence. Yet, the defence minister knew this would be interference with the prerogatives of the army chief and, worse, it would undermine the sanctity of his office. So did he intend to slight Gen Kapoor? It’s difficult to conclude otherwise.


This is why many believe that when Gen Kapoor, after issuing a show cause notice for administrative action against Lt Gen Prakash, changed his mind and ordered disciplinary action, he was acting under pressure. The chief denies this and has told me his decision was influenced by the quality of Lt Gen Prakash’s reply. That could well be the case but Antony’s indiscrete behaviour has made it difficult for many to accept.


These questions apart, this matter has now gone into a court martial. Hereafter it will be argued by lawyers, headlined by the press and could drag on. Worse, if the Armed Forces Tribunal, where Lt Gen Prakash has appealed against the court martial, finds that the prior court of inquiry was mishandled, the whole disciplinary process could be declared infructuous. All of this can only add to the army’s agony.


Whatever be the outcome for the four concerned officers, the army is suffering. Could that not have been avoided?






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