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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 17 Mar 2010






Small setback

Work on missile defence system must continue

A Prithvi missile strayed off course after it went aloft and as a result, another missile that was supposed to intercept it was not launched. This setback to the ballistic missile defence (BMD) shield programme is a small one, since what failed to perform was the target missile, not the interceptor. India’s BMD system was tested for the first time in November 2006, when a Prithvi II ballistic missile was successfully intercepted at an altitude of 50 km. Only the USA, Russia and Israel had demonstrated this capability till that time. China announced its success in January this year.  Ever since Nazi Germany targeted London with the V-1 and V-2 rockets near the end of World War II, nation-states have sought to defend themselves against such attacks by creating anti-ballistic missiles (ABM) and interception systems to find and destroy enemy targets. The result is systems like the USA’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3, Russia’s ABM-3 and Israel’s Arrow-2 BMD. Of course, they have never been tested in battle conditions. Although late entrants into the ABM sector, Indian scientists and engineers have taken impressive strides in both designing missiles and in developing the Long Range Tracking Radar, the latter with help from Israel.  BMD systems are both costly and technologically very complex. However, security requirements make investment in such safeguards essential. The DRDO has already rescheduled another test. Many missiles, both within the 50 km atmospheric range and outside it, will need to be tested and interception rates of nearly 100 per cent will have to be achieved before the system becomes truly operational. A good BMD system is vital for our national security and setbacks should be taken in our stride, as long as they are analysed properly and become lessons for the future.







SC breather for Lt Gen Prakash in Sukna scam

R Sedhuraman Our Legal Correspondent  New Delhi,


March 16 The Supreme Court today stayed till March 29 the Army’s Court of Inquiry (COI) against Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash (retd) in the Sukna land scam case.  Posting the appeal filed by General Prakash for March 29, a Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan made an oral remark restraining the Army from holding its proceedings till that time.  The apex court decided to hear his petition against the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) refusing to quash the COI against him.  While posting the appeal against the AFT order for hearing on March 29, Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said: “Till such time there shall be no proceedings against him”. Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi and Jyoti Singh, appearing for the accused, said the trial against their client did not take place in a fair manner. The witnesses were not examined in his presence and even the AFT had described it as a “mockery of natural justice.”  However, the Bench, which included Justices Deepak Verma and BS Chauhan, felt the AFT had given sufficient opportunities to General Prakash to cross-examine the witnesses at a later stage. “All witnesses were recalled for cross-examination. What else do you require?”  Rohtagi said the AFT had found that the statements of 18 witnesses had been recorded by the COI without the presence of General Prakash and when his client appeared before it as the 19th witness, he was named an accused.  Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Indira Jaisingh told the court that General Prakash could not have been present at the COI proceedings when 18 witnesses were examined because till then he was only a witness, not an accused.  For him, the complexion of COI proceedings changed only after his status too changed from that of a witness to an accused. She said that after he was made an accused, he was provided with the statements of the 18 witnesses and adequate time to prepare his defence and cross-examine them.







Discharged for being HIV+, airman reinstated after 10 yrs

Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh,

March 16 Over 10 years after an Air Force NCO was invalided out of service after being wrongly diagnosed as an AIDS patient, the Armed Forces Tribunal has ordered that he be reinstated in the service with all consequential service and medical benefits, including full back wages along with 12 per cent interest.  The petitioner, then holding the rank of corporal, was invalided out in December, 1999, after the medical authorities assessed him to be HIV-positive along with having pulmonary tuberculosis, thereby falling in the definition of AIDS.  “It appears that the medical board has gone wrong in considering that the petitioner was HIV with pulmonary tuberculosis and they have wrongly boarded out the petitioner. Since the petitioner was not found to be suffering from TB, it appears that his discharge was wrongly advised by the medical board,” the tribunal observed after considering the opinion of a radiologist summoned by it.  In April, 1994, the petitioner was admitted to the Command Hospital, Bangalore, because of swelling on the neck. He was referred to the Command Hospital, Pune, where he was confirmed as HIV-positive. In August, he was called for medical review and was found fit. With annual medical reviews advised, he was given two promotions till 1997.  During medical review in October, 1999, Command Hospital admitted him to cardio-tuberculosis centre for chest evaluation, where he was suspected to have TB. Medical authorities recorded that it was a case of HIV infection with pulmonary tuberculosis and he fulfilled the AISD defining criteria. Stating that he was, therefore, unfit for retention in the service, the medical authorities placed him in category “E” and recommended his discharge.  Subsequently, he put in a request for special medical investigation and on the basis of the reports, contended that he was not infected with TB. His discharge orders were not changed. His claim for pension was also refused. He moved the Delhi High Court, which directed the pension authorities to consider his case. The appellate committee dismissed the appeal holding that his disability was neither attributable to nor aggravated by the Air Force service.  Thereafter, he filed afresh petition claiming that his diagnosis had been incorrect and merely having HIV with TB does not mean having AIDS. He contended that he did not fall in the definition of AIDS as defined by the WHO.





Pakistan test-fires surface-to-air missile

March 16, 2010 21:05 IST Tags: Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Fleet Commander, Tanveer Faiz, P3C, Arabian Sea Email this Save to My Page Ask Users Write a Comment  Pakistan on Tuesday conducted a surface-to-air missile test, its second such drill in four days in a bid to add "offensive punch" to its forces, according to the navy.  A guided missile destroyer carried out the firing of a surface-to-air missile and scored a "direct hit", said a statement . The navy described its anti-air warfare capability as another manifestation of its offensive punch.  The surface-to-air missile that was fired is capable of intercepting targets at extremely high speeds. It is a "fully automated system which can track and engage even very small targets", the statement said without giving details.  On March 12, the Pakistan Navy conducted a major firepower drill in the north Arabian Sea to "send a message of deterrence to anyone harbouring nefarious designs" against the country.  Warships, submarines and aircraft carried out the "successful firing of a variety of missiles and torpedoes" during the drill.    Newly inducted weapon systems, including anti-surface missiles on Chinese-made F-22 P frigates and air-to-surface missiles of P3C maritime surveillance aircraft, were among those tested in the drill.  Today's firing was witnessed by the Pakistan Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Tanveer Faiz. © Copyright 2010 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.





Indian Army faces Massive Shortage of Officers 

Syed Ali Mujtaba, Ph.D. - 3/17/2010 

The approval of the Union Government to open a second Officers' Training Academy (OTA) at Gaya in Bihar marks a major step to solve the problem of shortage of officers in the country.  The new academy will function on the similar lines as one that exists in Chennai. Initially the new Officers Training Academy at Gaya will commence the training of 250 cadets, but in due course of time it will be upgraded to its full design capacity to train 750 short-service commission officers annually.  At present the Indian Army has two training institutions; one, at the Indian Military Academy ,(IMA) Dehradun that annually churns out permanent commission officers. The other is Short Service Commission officers that are produced at the Officers Training Academy at Chennai.  IMA gets its cadets from the tri-Service National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla, which is open to youngsters after class XII, as well as through the `direct entry' route open to college graduates.  The Officers Training Academy at Chennai is open to college graduates only are also struggling for students. In both the institutions students have to clear a very comprehensive test and this include physical endurance test as well.  As part of their force-restructuring to maintain a young profile and attract bright youngsters to their fold, the armed forces are gradually moving towards substantially increasing the number of short service commission officers in their ranks. The change in intake pattern will eventually lead to one is to two ratio, for Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission officers.  India Military Academy at Dehradun currently has a capacity to train 950 officers per year, while the Officers Training Academy at Chennai trains around 500 officers. The capacity at both these academies is also being expanded to train an additional 100 cadets each every year.  However, the National Defence Academy that enlists high school graduates and turns them into officers for the Navy, Air Force and also the Army, is struggling for students. The defence ministry records show just 190 students signed up this month against the academy's sanctioned strength of 300.  Incidentally, almost all the three wings of the armed forces in the country are short of officers. The Indian Army is short of around 11,400 officers. The Indian Navy is short of about 1,500 officers. The Indian Air Forces grapple with a shortage of about 1,400 officers.  The shortage of the Indian defence force officers becomes conspicuous when we cross check shortages of the officers with those of its prescribed strength.  The Indian Army has an authorized strength of 46,614 officers. The authorized strength of Indian Air Force is 12,136, whereas the Indian Navy has an authorized strength of 8,797 officers.  India's army, the world's fourth largest, is failing to attract enough youngsters with "officer-like qualities'' for its 1.13-million strong Army. The second is Indian Army is facing a massive exodus from its ranks, with more and more officers opting for premature retirement. The shortage of officers in the Indian defence forces is blamed on stress, low pay, slow promotions and the military's tough lifestyle.  Even though the salaries of armed forces have substantially increased after the 6th Pay Commission, the youngsters still find them less compared to the private sector. This consideration is put forth especially is one takes into the account of the life of a soldier which is tough and risky.  Then army has severe promotional bottlenecks. After entering the army, an entry level officer must wait up to 10 years before donning the flashes of a lieutenant-colonel. But even at that level the monthly basic salary does not exceed much. The other contributing factors are poor promotional avenues and frequent transfers that disrupt family life of the officers.  The traditional catchments area like; Punjab and Rajasthan for recruitment of Army officers have gone dry. Most of the families that have strong soldiers background have stopped sending their wards to the Amy schools and are keen to send them abroad have hampered the steady flow of the officers in the Indian Military service.  Added to it is the lack of interest of the Anglo- Indian and Muslim communities in joining the Indian Army that has resulted into the shortage of the officers in the armed forces. If we check the old records and compare with the recent ones the total desertions of these two communities from the armed forces is glaring.  We may like it or not, corruption has entered into the armed forces as well. Many talented recruits feel patriotism and valor the two cardinal features of the deference services are compromised with corruption coming into its ranks. This has resulted in keeping them away from the defense services.  Indian Army faces a dire shortage of officers because the booming private sector is recruiting the best talent. The private sector, which has been luring away India 's best talent by offering hefty wages and generous perks and the government and the services, simply cannot compete in matters of salary and perks with the corporate world.  The Indian Armed forces has enormous opportunities available outside the services. According to the defence ministry's Directorate of Resettlement, a third of the 3,000 officers who retire annually enlist in top Indian business schools. And the corporate world welcomes retiring military recruits with open arms.  This has left the military with poor pickings. Most of those applying are not the right material. Experts feel that the deficiencies should not be met by lowering the quality standards of the world's largest voluntary army.  India, which has fought three wars with Pakistan and a bloody border skirmish with China since its 1947 independence, has never turned to compulsory recruitment but such a move could be an option in future to meet the demand of the shortage of officers.  Compulsory military service could be one of the avenues before the government but at moment it’s not given much thought but sometime in the future such possibilities cannot to be ruled out.  However, skeptics feel that conscription is not the answer to the problem because it may lead to indiscipline, waywardness and desertions.  Nonetheless the recruitment issue has become an urgent priority for the army after 3,000 mid-level commanders recently sought early retirement on top of an existing shortage of 11,200 officers. The army needs a total of 46,615 officers.  How this anomaly is going to be resolved needs to be seen in the new policies that are going to be evolved by the government in the course of time. The only good news is thanks to India 's billion-plus population and high unemployment, the 1.23-million-strong army has no shortages in the lower ranks. Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai, India. He can be contacted at



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