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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

From Today's Papers - 20 Apr 2010

Kashmir Times
Asian Age
Asian Age
Asian Age
Telegraph India
The Pioneer
Asian Age
Kashmir Times
The Pioneer
The Pioneer
Times of India
Times of India
DNA India

  Strategy to tame the Maoists Need for systemic changes
by Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi (retd)   The massacre at Dantewada is a wake-up call for the entire nation and not just for the police forces that are involved in conducting counter-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh and other affected states. This is the time for soul-searching, introspection and coming up with a strategy that can effectively deal with this major challenge to the nation.  The various tactical aspects of the unfortunate incident and the motivations of the Maoists have been well debated. The focus unfortunately is on equipment upgrades, whereas the essential requirement is to change the ethos, training and leadership of the police forces and make them more capable. By focusing on high technology weaponry, we seem to forget the old adage – “it is the man behind the gun and not the gun that matters”. Current weaponry with some technical upgrades is adequate, as in such operation skills are more important than firepower.  There are six states that are in the grip of militancy. I am intentionally using the word militant (s), as opposed to insurgents or terrorists, for the Maoists are very much part of our polity and have resorted to taking up arms when other methods have not succeeded. They are not in the same category as insurgents and terrorists in J&K and hence need to be treated differently, especially in the case of quantum of force and the manner in which it is applied.  There has been some talk of deploying the Army to deal with the Maoist militants. This may seem an attractive option, but in actuality it is not. In principle, the Army should not be committed to tackling internal militancy. The Army is meant to fight external aggression, which includes tackling external insurgency. If at all it is to be employed to tackle internal militancy, it should be as the last resort when the police forces of all types have failed. It should also be withdrawn at the earliest opportunity.  In our country, the instrument of choice for tackling internal militancy and insurgency is the civil police, assisted by the CRPF, which is a component of the Central Police Organisations (CPOs). The police have enormous advantages over the military. They have legitimacy, close knowledge of local conditions, an extensive bank of local intelligence and means of acquiring fresh intelligence, close familiarity with the law and expertise in criminal investigations. Consequently, the use of the state police with the CRPF units superimposed, as at present, needs to continue.  Over a period of time the country has raised vast numbers of CPO units, but they have unfortunately not been trained well for their primary tasks and there is little bonding among the personnel (including officers) in sub-units and units. The senior hierarchy of the CPOs comprises solely of IPS officers, who have never commanded platoons, companies and battalions. Resultantly, they are unable to appreciate the ground situation and plan operations correctly. As opposed to this, all senior Army officers have risen in rank after serving extensively at the levels of platoons, companies and battalions.  The major drawbacks of both the state police and the CRPF include the typical police culture of delayed and lethargic responses, lack of adequate training for executing the assigned tasks, lack of competent leadership, lack of some items of technical equipment and not the least their thinking that the Army is always there to take over, as it has done in the past! This attitude needs to be disabused, as it is fraught with a very large number of negatives. The Maoist militancy has not suddenly appeared; it has been a festering concern for decades and yet we have not been able to make these CPO units fit to tackle internal militancy and insurgency. The Central government must take early and active measures to enhance the capabilities of the CPOs while the state governments must do the same for their respective police forces, especially their armed police units.  For decades now, the Army has repeatedly suggested that both the CPOs and the Army will benefit by lateral induction of trained Army personnel to the CPO units and their headquarters. This has also featured as a strong recommendation by the Sixth Pay Commission. All such recommendations have, however, been summarily rejected by the Home Ministry mainly on account of preserving their turf. Short Service Commissioned Officers, who cannot be retained in the Army after their mandatory service of five years, extendable to 10 in selected cases, are ideal material to be inducted into the CPOs. They are excellent officers, highly competent and well versed in conducting counter-militancy operations.  Such lateral shifts will give the CPOs ready and well-trained young officers, who with their Army ethos, excellent leadership qualities and professional outlook would change the CPO units from complacent to competent and would make them capable of fighting not just the Maoists but even other insurgents in future.  There is urgent need to do away with the current compartmentalised existence and take much broader views. Otherwise, we will continue to wallow in the usual copious reports of committees, demands for raising more units, import of sophisticated weapons that are really not needed, the continuing blame-game and so on, but nothing will be done to remove the systemic deficiencies and weaknesses!  There is also a political aspect that needs to change. The Centre cites the Constitution and says that security is a state subject, thus throwing the ball directly in the state’s court. The states deftly parry with the logic of lack of resources! In some states, the Maoists are even looked at as assets for elections and their violence gets subtly condoned! In addition, when militancy is active in six states, how can each state fight it on its own? Unless there is a joint and concerted attempt simultaneously in all the affected states, nothing is likely to be achieved. The time has come for setting aside the political baggage and getting together for the common cause. Let political expediency be kept aside while the full weight of the nation is used to confront the Maoists.  The need of the hour is to quickly set up two sets of structures, one for addressing the genuine concerns of the Maoists and the other for the conduct of police operations. The former is the concern of each state government and to varying extent it is already being done, but the latter needs a well-thought-out centralised structure under an overall force headquarters, headed by a DGP-level officer. This headquarters, while maintaining liaison and coordination with each state government, must have autonomy to plan and conduct all counter-militant operations in the entire Maoist-affected areas. The staff must report only to the Force Commander and not to their parent organisations, as is the current practice.  All counter-militancy operations are of a long duration, but if the structures are correct and adequate attention is paid to removing systemic deficiencies, it would be possible to address both the amelioration of the concerns of the Maoists and the violence unleashed by them.n  The writer is a former Vice-Chief of the Army Staff.

MiG-21 being phased out, says Antony 
New Delhi, April 19 The Indian Air Force has initiated the process to phase out MiG-21 fighter aircraft, Defence Minister AK Antony told the Lok Sabha today.  The MiG-21 are in their final phase of service and in the process of phase-out, he said answering supplementaries in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour. Antony said: “The IAF maintains a mix of old and new aircraft in its fleet and each plane has a life span of 30-40 years.” The Minister dismissed criticism over the crash of Kiran trainer aircraft during an airshow at Begumpet airfield in Hyderabad in March.  He said the Kiran aircraft was inducted in the Navy in 1985 and the fleet has reported only three accidents in the past 25 years. All accidents were taken seriously by the government. On compensation to crash victims, Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju said it would be awarded by the Navy on completion of the court of inquiry. — PTI

DRDO develops eczema ointment
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, April 19 The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a non-toxic, poly-herbal ointment for relief against eczema, a skin disorder.  The product was clinically evaluated on 70 patients having various phases and clinical features of eczema. All patients got 100 per cent relief within 15-120 days of application of the ointment, the DRDO’s latest in-house bulletin has claimed.  Called Ecxit, the ointment contains ingredients of nine plants and two carriers — a vegetable oil and petroleum jelly. Preliminary clinical trials were conducted on the ITBP jawans posted at an altitude of 9,000 m as well as civilians residing at altitudes of 10,000 feet.

Woman claims Rs 1-cr damages from Army
Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, April 19 The Army has been slapped a notice for Rs 1-crore damages by the wife of an officer for allegedly publishing a “baseless” official order pertaining to her divorce and for “fraudulently” showing her husband to be present in the unit on different occasions while he was stated to be at a different station.  In a notice issued under Section 80 of the CrPC, she has alleged that her husband, an EME officer, was shown present in his unit at Meerut in October, 2009, whereas he was in Natinal on that day.  The notice has also questioned the advice rendered in the case by the Judge Advocate General’s Department, the Army’s legal wing, and has contended that the department skipped vital evidence.According to her counsel, Brig Rajindar Kumar (retd), the officer was shown to be present in his unit and having drawn rations for two days when he was supposed to be in Vishakhapatnam, where he had got an affidavit attested and produced in the court.

India's next big defence scam...
April 20, 2010 03:29 IST Tags: SCAM International, Defence Offsets Facilitation Agency, Defence Offsets Management Agency, Department of Defence Production, India Email this Save to My Page Ask Users Write a Comment  Move over artillery gun deals… stamp paper… fodder and other scams! India's [ Images ] pinnacle of subterfuge will soon belong to a new hustle called offsets on which pliant Indian defence manufacturers are set to ride to riches. Setting the stage for this shakedown is a disinterested Ministry of Defence (MoD), which has artlessly authored a scamster's delight called the Defence Offset Procedure.  To recapitulate, the MoD's procurement regulations (currently the Defence Procurement Procedure of 2008, or DPP-2008) impose a minimum offset of 30 per cent in all contracts worth Rs 300 crore or more. Foreign arms vendors must discharge this liability through the purchase of products or services from Indian defence companies; or through investments into the infrastructure of joint ventures they set up in India; or through investment into Indian R&D organisations. In all cases, the essential first step is for foreign vendors to identify an Indian partner through which offset obligations will be discharged.  Viewing this through a more cynical and realistic prism, unscrupulous foreign vendors (most of whom regard offsets as state-legitimised extortion) are starting by identifying pliable Indian partners that will happily partner them in neutering the offset requirement. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion confirms that rafts of small companies, many without a track record in defence, are applying for licences.  To get an idea of the money at stake here, a recently released CII-KPMG report estimates that India will buy foreign weaponry worth some US $100 billion (Rs 4,50,000 crore) over the next 12 years. Going by this extremely conservative estimate (actual figures could be 50 per cent higher), Indian defence companies will have to anchor at least $30 billion (Rs 1,35,000 crore) in the offsets business by 2022. That averages out to about Rs 11,000 crore every year.  So, how will the skulduggery be structured? Let's look at a hypothetical offsets tie-up between a hypothetical foreign company — let's call it Shipping, Communications and Munitions International, or SCAM International — and an equally hypothetical small Indian company called 15 Per Cent Partners. Each year, SCAM International will hand the MoD an offsets compliance certificate, along with a copy of an invoice from 15 Per Cent Partners, as proof that goods worth $100 million were manufactured and shipped by the Indian company. Actually, the goods were worth only $35 million, but both companies had quietly agreed that 15 Per Cent Partners would hold the excess amount on behalf of SCAM International. The Indian company is entitled to a fee of — you guessed it — 15 per cent for its services. That means 15 Per Cent Partners now has effective custody of $50 million on behalf of SCAM International.  "The implications of this are frightening," a senior defence ministry official apprehends. "A few years down the line, all defence kickbacks will be coming through the route of offsets. Currently, there is tight control over the money that foreign companies can bring in. Now Indian offset partners will become the agents who pay out bribes. That is why so many offset deals are being tied up with small and medium companies."  Other ingenious stings are being fashioned out of offset partnerships. One foreign company has already asked its Indian offsets partner to start paying all the expenses for its executives visiting India. The costs of tickets, hotels, meals and entertainment will all be adjusted through over-invoicing offset supplies.  Making all this feasible is the MoD's inertia in setting up the systems needed for tightly monitoring offset transactions. Currently a small, undermanned section — the Defence Offsets Facilitation Agency (DOFA) — handles everything relating to offsets. A section of the MoD argues for setting up an expanded, high-power, multi-agency Defence Offsets Management Agency (DOMA) that is equipped to minutely evaluate the impending flood of offsets proposals; keep a running account of banked offsets; and interpret and clarify offsets policy. But South Block continues to shy away from framing a holistic offsets policy.  "Are you surprised that they are leaving open loopholes," asks a senior executive from a global arms corporation. "Who do you think will benefit from the kickbacks when they pick up momentum?"  Keeping a track of offsets is even more difficult when they are executed in Information Technology and services. But the MoD has not set up any specialist organisation, or even obtained specialist advice, for monitoring these fields.  Four years after offsets were announced, their purpose remains a matter of speculation. The MoD has never declared whether offsets are meant to generate employment in the defence sector through mass manufacture; or to encourage high-tech R&D through collaborative ventures; or to bring foreign direct investment (FDI) into the defence sector. South Block will probably avow that it wants all three. In this policy vacuum, vendors will naturally structure offsets to suit themselves rather than the Indian defence industry.  Within the MoD there is disquiet; many bureaucrats fear that offset scams will have the potential to end promising careers. But there is little expectation that Defence Minister A K Antony, with his unblemished record of policy paralysis, will allow clarity to creep in unnoticed. And so, bureaucrats are passing the buck. The Department of Defence and the Department of Defence Production are each trying to make the other responsible for offsets, hoping that, when the music stops, they will not be holding the parcel.

Indian Army Chief Gen VK Singh visiting Ladakh tomorrow
by Vijay Kumar    April 19, 2010   Udhampur, April 19 (Scoop News)-The Chief of Army Staff, Gen VK Singh PVSM, AVSM, YSM, ADC will be arriving at Leh on the first leg of a three day visit to Northern Command from 20 Apr to 22 Apr 2010.    According to defence spokesperson Col DK Kachari, the Army Chief will be received by Lt Gen BS Jaswal, PVSM, AVSM VSM, GOC-in-C Northern Command. This is the maiden visit of the COAS to Northern Command after taking over as the Army Chief on April 01 this year..  Gen VK Singh is well versed with the Northern Command and the entire conduct of counter infiltration/counter terrorism operations. He commanded his unit (2 RAJPUT) on the LC. Thereafter, he distinguished himself in command of Counter Insurgency Force Victor in the Valley, and was the Chief of Staff of the prestigious 15 Corps. During his tenures in the Valley, he left an indelible impact on the modus operandi of operations and the overall security situation,said Col DK Kachari  in a statement.  The COAS is scheduled to be briefed at Leh and Srinagar. After that he will move to Udhampur for a round of discussions with Lt Gen BS Jaswal, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, GOC-in-C Northern Command. Nagrota is next on the itinerary. The Chief will also be visiting forward areas at Poonch, Mendhar and Akhnoor. A scheduled meeting with NN Vohra, the Governor of J&K and Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has also been organised at Jammu. He will depart for New Delhi on 22 Apr 2010.  The chief will be accompanied by his wife Mrs Bharti Singh, President, Family Welfare Organisation (FWO).She will be interacting with the staff involved in various initiatives and endeavours aimed at welfare activities. She will also meet the wives of all ranks at various locations.

Eastern Command GOC arrives in state 
The Imphal Free Press  IMPHAl, April 19: Lieutenant General Bikram Singh, GOC in-chief, Eastern Command, and in charge of Military Intelligence Wing has arrived by Army helicopter this afternoon to access the existing law and order situations of the state creating out of the insurgency.  An official source said the GOC in chief Eastern Command of Military Intelligence Wing in his official visit to the state have arrived the Kangla Helipad this afternoon around 3.30 pm and he was given warmed welcome by the official team of  IGAR (South) at historic Kangla Helipad this afternoon.  The source said the visiting Army officer soon after he arrived the state capital made and official inspection at Military Intelligence wing established at Army Head quarter at Leimakhong this afternoon and later return back to IGAR (South) Complex at Mantripukhri of his official halt for tonight.  The visiting Army officer as per the official tour programme he will attend a called on meeting at Raj Bhavan Imphal with the state Governor Gurbachand Jagat to discuss the existing the law and order situation of the state at 9.30 am tomorrow morning and will follow by the official meeting with the chief minister O Ibobi Singh at his official bungalow at 10.30 am tomorrow to scale up the existing law and order situations of the state will assess existing law and order situation of the state cause by the insurgency related problems of the state, the source added.  The source also further mentioned that, in view of the visiting Army officer to the state proposed meeting, chief minister priory called up the state DGP and chief Secretary this evening at his official bungalow and collected official upto date report of the existing law and order situations of the state to table before the meeting with the visiting Army officer from the Central Military Wing tomorrow morning the source added.

Henderson Brooks on 1962 war still has `operational value': Antony
TNN, Apr 20, 2010, 01.44am IST NEW DELHI: Can a war fought close to half a century ago still have "operational value'' which must not be disclosed? Yes, the government certainly thinks so.  Defence minister A K Antony on Monday said the Henderson Brooks report, which was the result of an operational investigation into the failures of the Indian Army during the 1962 conflict with China, remained "a top secret document''.  "Based on an internal study by the Indian Army, the contents (of the report) are not only extremely sensitive but are of current operational value,'' Antony told Lok Sabha in a written reply.  Though much has changed in the two countries across the Himalayas, the government still remains extremely reluctant to make the Henderson Brooks report public since it is widely believed to be quite critical of the then political (led by Nehru) and military establishments of India.  The defence ministry has so far only released the official history of the 1948 Jammu and Kashmir operations. Even after the expiry of the mandatory 30-year confidential clause, it has suppressed the official histories of the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars till now.  This even after a review committee had strongly recommended a few years ago that the official war histories of the different conflicts fought by the nation should be made public and "published for open sale''.

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