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Saturday, 13 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 13 Mar 2010







From Moscow to Delhi: 16 N-reactors
Gorshkov delivery by 2012 end; key defence, aviation deals sealed
Ashok Tuteja & Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News service

New Delhi, March 12
Demonstrating the solidity of their strategic relationship to the world, India and Russia today sealed multi-billion dollars deals in key areas like defence, nuclear energy, diamond, petroleum and aviation as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reaffirmed Moscow’s support to Delhi in its fight against terrorism.

Russia also announced its readiness to build 16 nuclear reactors for power stations in India. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who was part of Putin’s delegation, told the media that Moscow was prepared to assist India fully in the civil-nuclear energy field.

The two countries signed five accords at the government level in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Russian leader after wide-ranging talks between them. Around 15 supplementary agreements were inked between the two countries at various other levels on the margins of the official-level talks.

The most significant accords between the two sides were on the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier that was approved by the Union Cabinet for the purchase of the vessel at $ 2.33 billion and the supply of 29 MIG 29K — the sea variant of the fighter used by the IAF — valued at $ 1.5 billion. Earlier, 16 such fighters had been ordered by India and the first lot of four — twin-seated trainer version — were inducted into the IAF at Goa last month. The IAF variant has been in service since the cold war era of the 1980’s. These can fly off the deck of the Gorshkov. The purchase of Admiral Gorshkov, the 45,000 tonne sea-borne aircraft carrier, was first inked at $ 974 million.

The Russian side demanded more money and wanted $ 2.9 billion which was brought down to $ 2.33 billion following a three- year hectic re-negotiation process. Moscow said it would deliver the aircraft carrier to India by the end of 2012.

The two sides are also understood to have discussed cooperation in other key areas of defence. The role of India in co-developing the fifth generation fighter aircraft and the multi role transport aircraft were discussed. India wants an embargo on selling the upcoming fighter to other countries, especially China. Another important agreement was the umbrella pact between the National Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Atom Stroy for Kudankulam III and Kudankulam IV nuclear reactors as part of the nuclear cooperation accord between the two sides. The agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy is expected to open more avenues of nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

The two sides also signed another pact on serial construction of Russian designed nuclear reactors. “This is one of our major, far-reaching, promising areas of interaction,” Putin said, while video-conferencing with Indian businessman earlier today. Cooperation with India in nuclear energy will include not only building reactors and supply of the fuel, but also waste disposal, he said.






Permanent commission: HC sides with women
They’re on a par with male officers, tells Centre
R Sedhuraman & Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 12
In a path-breaking judgement, the Delhi High Court today directed the Centre to offer within two months Permanent Commission (PC) to Short Service Commissioned (SSC) women officers of the Air Force and the Army at par with male SSC officers with all consequential benefits, including promotion.

At present, the Indian Army offers permanent commission to women after 10 years of SSC. This is applicable to those who were recruited after March 2009 and that too only in two streams — the Judge Adjutant General (JAG) branch and the Education corps. Women are also recruited in Signals, Engineers, Ordnance and Air Defence but are not eligible for PC.

In the IAF, women are offered a permanent option in the Legal, Accounts and Education corps. Women chopper and transport pilots, engineering corps, Logistics and Meteorological streams are not eligible for permanent commission. At present, there are about 1,050 and 827 women officers in the Army and the IAF, respectively. Separately, the Navy has 280 women.

Strangely, and against the principles of natural justice, those women who were recruited before March 2009 were not offered any permanent commission. They simply retire after 10 years or at best get another 4 years’ extension in service. In reality, the Ministry of Defence existing policy will help the women only in 2019 when the first batch will be eligible.

Correcting this anomaly, a Bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Mool Chand Garg today ruled: “Women officers of the Air Force who had opted for PC and were not granted PC but granted extension of SSCs and of the Army are entitled to PC at par with male SSC officers.”

The benefit would be extended to women officers recruited prior to change of policy ( March 2009) and the PC shall be offered to them after completion of five years. However, these benefits would be available only to women officers in service or who approached the HC but retired when the case was pending in the court, the Bench clarified.

The court made significant remark on having women in combat roles saying “the claim of absorption in areas of operation not open for recruitment of women officers cannot be sustained being a policy decision.”

The court also refused to interfere with the policy decision which does not offer PC to SSC officers across the board for men and women being on parity and as part of manpower management exercises.

The HC clarified that those women officers, who “have not attained the age of retirement available for the PC officers shall, however, be reinstated in service and shall be granted all consequential benefits including promotion, except for the pay and allowance for the period they have not been in service.”

The HC expressed the hope that with the expanding horizon of women participation in different walks of life, the respondents would be encouraged to have larger participation of women in more areas of operation both for SSC and PC.




India to act ‘swiftly’ if 26/11 recurs: PC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 12
Virtually issuing a warning to Islamabad, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today said India would act “swiftly and decisively” if another terrorist attack emanated from Pakistani soil.

Speaking at a function of a news magazine, Chidambaram said Pakistan needed to “reinvent” itself as a genuine democracy and a responsible neighbour. Pakistan had proved to be a “difficult neighbour” post-Partition and Independence in 1947. India’s hope, said he, was for a political transformation in Islamabad where powers wrested with elected people. “The two nations are nuclear powers, and war is not an option, so we must talk,” the Home Minister said. “At other times, we must remain vigilant.”

The tough talking Home Minister, who took over just four days after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, made it clear: “If we are able to establish with a reasonable degree of certainty that another attack on India emanated from Pakistani soil, we will respond swiftly and decisively.”

Reacting to a query if he meant that this means military action, the Home Minister said: “It suffices to say our response will be swift and decisive.” Pointing to the duplicity of Pakistan over Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafeez Saeed, the Home Minister offered to send in Indian investigators to probe him. “Investigations around the world are carried out in a certain way. If Pakistan does not know how to interrogate Saeed, then they should allow my agents to go in there and do the job. I am willing to get this done.” The Minister said dossiers presented to Pakistan contained information of Hafeez Saeed's specific location on certain dates, the terror camps he visited and his interaction with those suspected of launching the terror attacks in Mumbai.




No vacancy for retired women officers: Forces


ROADBLOCK: Armed Forces maintain that court's order would create cadre management problems.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Friday directed the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) to reinstate the over 50 women officers who petitioned against the denial of permanent commission but the two forces said this would be well nigh impossible.

"Firstly, there are no vacancies. Secondly, this would create cadre management problems. Thirdly, there are sound arguments on the basis of which an appeal can be filed," an IAF officer said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media on the issued.

Commenting on the court order to grant permanent commission to the women officers who had joined the forces in the Short Service Commission stream, the officer said: "This can't be done at the stroke of a pen as it would have a cascading effect.

"On the one hand, all other women Short Service Commission officers would also demand permanent commission. Then, male officers would also demand this facility."

"It would also stand the recruitment policy of officers on its head. A permanent commission, by its very nature, is meant to be on a long-term basis. Short Service Commissions are, by their very nature, meant to be for a shorter period."

"Everything else apart, this would create a discriminatory situation as women officers of the Indian Navy are not covered by this judgement," the officer pointed out.

"We have yet to receive the detailed judgement. Once it is received, it will be carefully studied and a view taken on the way ahead," the officer said.

Indian Army officers IANS spoke to reacted in similar vein.

Short Service Commission officers, be they men or women, serve for a maximum of 14 years while male officers granted permanent commissions can serve up to the age of 60, depending on the rank they rise to.

Women are currently eligible for permanent commission only in the medical, nursing and dental services of armed forces. They are eligible for Short Service Commission in the non-combat or support arms of the armed forces.




Inside Pakistan
Why General Pasha remains ISI chief
by Syed Nooruzzaman

What was being intensely speculated has proved to be true. ISI chief Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, due to retire on March 18, has been given one year’s extension in service.

The questions now being raised are: Has he been favoured “to ensure that the military effort against militancy, which is currently underway, continues without any disruption”, as The News has commented? Or Lt-General Pasha’s closeness to Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has been the deciding factor? Or is General Kayani, due to retire in November, preparing a strong case for the grant of an extension to himself?

Before the decision to retain Lt-General Pasha was announced, three other three-star generals were granted extension in service on the same pretext as given in the case of the ISI chief. An editorial in Daily Times explains it thus: “… These are extraordinary times. Not only are we in the middle of a war inside the country (Pakistan), we are also a frontline ally of the US in the war on terror.” The other beneficiaries are Corps Commander (Peshawar) Masood Aslam, Lt-Gen Sikandar Afzal, now on UN assignment, and Lt-Gen Tanvir.




Court order under study: IAF

Special Correspondent

The Indian Air Force on Friday preferred not to comment stating the order of the Delhi High Court was being studied. The court had earlier directed the Centre to allow grant of permanent commission to women officers, some 18 of whom from the service had filed petitions. At present there are over 2,000 women officers serving in the three services, entering through the Short Service Commission. The Army has over 1,000 officers, the Air Force over 800 and the rest belong to the Navy. Majority of those who appealed to the High Court were from the Air Force and all of them has since retired, sources in the services said here. The sources said the issues under study include those relating to cadre strength and vacancies and the option of going in for an appeal.

The IAF first inducted women officers in 1992, who got commissioned the next year. The non-technical cadre initially serve for 5 years while the technical cadre serve a year extra. Normally, these officers were given another five years and an option of four year extension.

Permanent commission

In 2006, the Chiefs of Staff Committee recommended that grant of permanent commission would be based on military needs and not social consideration. Later in 2008 it was decided to offer permanent commission to women officers from January 2009 in education, accounts and administration in the case of Air Force. In the case of the Army, the women officers serve in Army Supply Corps, EME, Ordnance, Engineers, Signals, Air Defence, Judge Advocate General, and Education while the Navy deploys them only for shore-based work in different branches. As per new plans, the Army will offer permanent commission to women in Education and Legal branches while the Navy will offer in branches of Education, Legal and as Naval Constructors, a sub-division of engineering design.








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