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Saturday, 29 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 29 May 2010

Asian Age
Asian Age
Telegraph India
Asian Age
Asian Age
Asian Age
Asian Age
Asian Age
The Pioneer
The Pioneer
Indian Express
Indian Express
Times of India
Times of India
Times of India
Times of India
DNA India
DNA India
DNA India






A year after the war Rajapaksa resetting the compass in Lanka
by Maj-Gen Ashok K. Mehta (retd)  One year after the war, victorious President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa will be in India on June 8 to discuss relief and rehabilitation of the nearly 300,000 war displaced Tamils of the North. Any serious dialogue with Indian leaders on power sharing with minority Tamils and implementing the 13th Amendment in letter and spirit is unlikely though the issue will make it to the joint statement. Despite winning the war, the Sri Lankan President has wavered on a political solution by failing to appreciate the necessity of securing peace and ending the ethnic conflict.  Mr Rajapaksa is a happy man and must thank his stars for the unprecedented battlefield successes which were wisely converted into a string of spectacular political gains. He is a second-term executive President, his six-year term beginning only in November this year, his ruling alliance is six short of two thirds majority needed to change the constitution to give him a third term and his party rules in all the provinces where elections have been held (elections in the North are awaited). With these formidable credentials Mr Rajapaksa is destined to create history.  But there are negatives too which were ignored during and after the war. Disregard for human rights and international humanitarian law; curbs on press freedom especially the foreign media; eviction of NGOs and excessive and indiscriminate use of military force attracting allegations that 40,000 civilians were killed in the last phase of battle. In its latest report, the International Crisis Group has alleged that displaced Tamil civilians were killed in large numbers by the Army. “Evidence gathered by ICG provides reasonable grounds to believe that during April-May 2009, security forces intentionally and repeatedly shelled civilians, hospitals and humanitarian operations.” Amnesty International went a step further accusing the Sri Lankan military of war crimes.  UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon is to set up an expert panel to advise him on the credibility of Sri Lanka’s own investigations into war-related charges. And EU has issued notice of suspending trade concessions called GSP Plus. The West is incensed with the way the Rajapaksa government rejected its appeals for restraint and ceasefire and refused to entertain Western emissaries in the country. Many see Sri Lanka moving away from the West to the East with friends like Iran, Burma, China, Pakistan… One year on, Mr Rajapaksa is beginning to recognise the ground reality and resetting the compass. He knows he cannot afford to antagonise the west where bulk of the Tamil diaspora resides. The government has already relaxed provisions in the Emergency regulation, released journalists from jail and sent an official delegation to patch up with EU. Initially Mr Rajapaksa ordered the formation of a panel to study the root causes of the conflict. The latest is Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission which is to examine events from February 21, 2002 (Norway-brokered ceasefire) to end of the war (May 19, 2009) and recommend at the end of six months, measures to promote national unity and reconciliation.  It is useful to recall the root causes of the conflict as some Sri Lankan leaders have said: there was no ethnic conflict, it was terrorism and with terrorism eliminated, it is hunky-dory. This lingering illusion among the majority Sinhalese contains the seeds of rejuvenating the Tamil cause and the idea of Eelam, given the one million Tamil diaspora and a nascent Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (with an estimated LTTE bounty of $ 600 million).  Four watershed events spurred the ethnic conflict — the Sinhala-only language Bill; the 1972 Constitution; parliamentary elections of 1977; and the 1983 Tamil pogroms. The Eelam War I reached its culmination in 1987 when India intervened to end the fighting. The LTTE brush with IPKF ended inconsequentially. Eelam War II began in 1990 and closed in a ceasefire in 1994. The next round of fighting was between 1995 and 2002. The decisive Eelam War IV flared up in 2006 with security forces scoring a historic victory by defeating the invincible Tigers at Mullaithivu. President Rajapaksa demonstrated that not only can a guerilla force be vanquished, it can also be comprehensively routed though at enormous social, human and diplomatic cost.  The centerpiece of past government strategy was bringing the LTTE to the negotiating table. Ceasefires were accompanied by five direct and two back channel negotiations with the LTTE. The first of the five attempts was the failed Indo Sri Lanka Accord followed by efforts towards power sharing made by Presidents R. Premadasa and Chandrika Kumaratunga, Prime Minister Ranil Wickramesinghe and President Rajapaksa. When the latter realised that Mr Prabhakaran would never be amenable to a negotiated settlement as he was determined to win Eelam through a military solution, Mr Rajapaksa picked up the gauntlet at Maavil Aaru.  President Rajapaksa achieved in 2009 what Indira Gandhi had in 1971 – winning the war. There are lessons from Sri Lanka’s military success. But whether countries are able and willing to apply military forces in the face of external criticism and threats of sanctions is a moot point. India could almost never emulate this model as it follows a policy of minimum force with the use of heavy weapons and the use of air power almost unthinkable. Other countries faced with insurgency problems and are not ideologically constrained on use of force, have tips to take from Sri Lanka’s success story: clarity of mission; unity of effort, politico-military resolve, national will and a free hand to the military. When both sides are pursuing a military solution, one would have expected a stalemate. But by shaping the internal and external environment to his advantage, President Rajapaksa’s winning team was able to snatch a spectacular victory in which India played a decisive role in keeping the LTTE’s head down.  While in Delhi, Mr Rajapaksa must be told that Sri Lanka’s national question dealing with the political empowerment of Tamils is also India’s regional issue. History and geography dictate an equitable power-sharing arrangement with the minority Tamils (Sri Lankans now say there are no minorities — all are Sri Lankans). Neither the sacrifice of 1200 IPKF soldiers nor the sterling military, intelligence and diplomatic assistance provided by India during the decisive war should go in vain. Just as relief and rehabilitation are humanitarian requirements, dignity and devolution of power are political imperatives. That’s the message for President Rajapaksa.  The logical conclusion to Sri Lanka’s military victory over the LTTE and the peace process is empowerment of Tamils to ensure durable peace.








US House votes to allow repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law
David M Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse, NYT News Service, Friday May 28, 2010, Washington The House voted Thursday to let the Defense Department repeal the ban on gay and bisexual people from serving openly in the military, a major step toward dismantling the 1993 law widely known as "don't ask, don't tell."  The provision would allow military commanders to repeal the ban. The repeal would permit gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.  It was adopted as an amendment to the annual Pentagon policy bill, which the House is expected to vote on Friday. The repeal would be allowed 60 days after a Pentagon report is completed on the ramifications of allowing openly gay service members, and military leaders certify that it would not be disruptive. The report is due by Dec. 1.  The House vote was 234 to 194, with 229 Democrats and 5 Republicans in favor, after an emotionally charged debate. Opposed were 168 Republicans and 26 Democrats.  Supporters of the repeal hailed it as a matter of basic fairness and civil rights, while opponents charged that Democrats and President Obama were destabilizing the military to advance a liberal social agenda.  "On Memorial Day, America will come together and honor all who served our nation in uniform," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a floor speech, noting the symbolic timing of the debate. "I urge my colleagues to vote for the repeal of this discriminatory policy of 'don't ask, don't tell' and make America more American."  Separately on Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a similar measure allowing the repeal.  The vote, in a closed session, was 16 to 12, with one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, in favor of the repeal, and one Democrat, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, in opposition.  Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the committee, said he believed that the full Senate would support permitting the repeal.  Like the House amendment, the Senate measure would allow Pentagon leaders to revoke the ban 60 days after the military study group completes its report and President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, certify that it would not hamper military readiness and effectiveness or "unit cohesion."  Mr. Obama and Mr. Gates favor repealing the ban, as does Admiral Mullen, who, in testimony before the Armed Services Committee in February, called for a repeal.  In a statement, Mr. Obama said he was "pleased" by the votes.  "This legislation will help make our armed forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity," he said.  But chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have objected. In letters solicited by Senator John McCain of Arizona, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, they urged Congress to delay voting on the issue until after the Defense Department completed its report.  After the committee vote, Mr. McCain said he would continue to fight a repeal when the bill reached the Senate floor. "I think it's really going to be really harmful to the morale and battle effectiveness of our military," he said.  Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, who sponsored the repeal measure, said, "The 'don't ask, don't tell' policy doesn't serve the best interests of our military and doesn't reflect the best values of our country."  "Bottom line," Mr. Lieberman, added, "thousands of service members have been pushed out of the U.S. military not because they were inadequate or bad soldiers, sailors, Marines or airmen but because of their sexual orientation. And that's not what America is all about."  The Armed Services Committee approved the broader policy bill by a vote of 18 to 10, with Mr. Webb and Senator Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, who also opposed the repeal, supporting the broader measure.  With liberals in Congress being asked to vote on an unpopular war spending bill, Democratic leaders there have been pushing to finally do away with a ban that many in their party view as discriminatory and unpatriotic.  The Senate approved the spending bill Thursday night and the House is expected to vote on it early next month.  As the House headed toward the vote, the debate was often emotional.  In a floor speech on Thursday, Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, denounced the policy that requires gay men, lesbians and bisexuals to keep their sexual orientation secret if they want to serve.  Mr. Frank noted that the Israeli military, which he called "as effective a fighting force as has existed in modern times," does not bar gay men or lesbians from service. Mr. Frank, who is openly gay, also said that he would be criticized - rightly, he said - if he were to suggest that gay men and lesbians be exempted if a military draft were needed.  Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the No. 3 Republican in the House, accused Democrats of trying to use the military "to advance a liberal social agenda" and demanded that Congress "put its priorities in order."  Other Republicans said the military was a unique institution and its rules sometimes had to differ from civilian society.  "We are dissing the troops, that is what we are doing," said Representative Howard P. McKeon of California, senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee.  Republicans also questioned if the military leaders who would make the final decision would be able to resist pressure from the White House to lift the ban.  Democrats who backed the repeal compared the vote to the racial integration of the military and hailed the action as allowing all Americans who wanted to serve to do so.  "In the land of the free and the home of the brave, it is long past time for Congress to end this un-American policy," said Representative Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat who is openly gay.  Democrats accused Republicans of mischaracterizing the proposal, by suggesting it would unsettle the troops. "This policy will happen only when the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stay that it is the right thing to do for this country," said Representative Robert E. Andrews, Democrat of New Jersey.









J&K: Murder case filed against Army for alleged fake encounter
NDTV Correspondent, Friday May 28, 2010, Srinagar The Jammu and Kashmir Police have arrested three persons including a territorial army jawan for allegedly luring three youths to the border and staging a fake encounter in Machil sector of north Kashmir.  Police arrested Abbas Shah - the territorial army jawan, Basharat Lone and Abdul Hamid Bhat after registering a case of murder against them.  The Army says it's fully cooperating with the probe. The Army on Friday night said a fast-track inquiry will be instituted to ascertain facts and "expeditious action" will be taken against anyone found guilty.  A senior Army official said the fast-track inquiry will be instituted once it receives a formal report from the Jammu and Kashmir Police in this regard.  "As and when a formal report is received from the police authorities, a fast-track inquiry will be instituted to ascertain the facts and in case any wrongdoings come to light, expeditious action to bring guilty to book will be taken," the official told PTI.  The state government has ordered a magisterial enquiry into the case and also taken up the matter with the Defence Ministry. (With PTI inputs)









An army officer recounts Canadian visa woes
May 28, 2010 22:32 IST Tags: Canadian, United Kingdom, United States, Indian Army, Canada Email this Save to My Page Ask Users Write a Comment  As more and more cases of Canadian visa rejection to Indian men in uniform pour in, certain ugly facets of double standards are getting illuminated. Brigadier S K Chatterji, a retired Indian Army [ Images ] officer, recounts his experience:  It was in late April/early May 2008, when my wife and I applied for visas to visit Canada [ Images ]. We were planning a trip to the United States and Canada, and planned to spend a couple of days in London [ Images ] on our way back.  If there is one common experience I have gathered in my interaction with foreign nationals, especially from the Western countries, be it during military courses in India or in the streets abroad, it has been the deep respect that they have for military professionals.  In fact, I have found the fact of my being an officer from the Indian army holding the rank of a brigadier, to be a global status that has stood me in good stead, anywhere. The experience has been no different in my interaction with Canadians. As such, grant of visas by any country was an issue of no concern at all to me.  To get a Canadian visa in Delhi [ Images ], one has to apply through their deputed agency. There is no face-to-face interaction with the embassy staff. About a fortnight after depositing my visa applications, it came back to me through the agency.  The passports were there, but the accompanying note that lists the reasons 'why no visa had been given' was without any of the listed reasons being ticked. In between, my dates for interview for visa to the US had rolled over, with the passports not having been returned till then by the Canadian embassy.  In response to my mail to the Canadian embassy for a clarification on May 14, 2008, I received a mail on May 23, 2008, that advised me to collect some forms that I would have to fill on May 26, 2008 from their nominated agency.  My requests for an interview led nowhere. The queries included the units that I have served in, their location and certain other details. There was a questionnaire too, that listed such items as whether or not I had ever witnessed or participated in ill treatment of prisoners or civilians…  Most armies, and I have met officers from a large number of forces during my tenure in the army, would not provide a dossier of an officer with such details to another government. This was obviously an issue that I could possibly not undertake without concurrence of my organisation. I had no option but to ask for time.  It was at this stage that I realised my problem was not unique, and that other officers had also faced similar problems in procuring a Canadian visa. It was also getting close to my leave dates. The US embassy had no slots available for interviews immediately, either.  Finally, I proceeded to get our visa for the United Kingdom, rather than scrapping the holiday plans altogether. The UK visa came through without a hitch and instead of a UK-USA-Canada tour, we were forced to spend all our time in the UK.  On return, I processed the case with my organisation and forwarded a reply. In any case, I had never been either a witness or participated in any form of ill treatment of anyone.  Two issues are very clear. If an officer of the Indian armed forces, and also certain paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies has served in an insurgency area, the Canadian embassy does not issue visas. Personnel of these organisations, who have not served in such areas, are given their visas.  Today, Canadians are serving in Afghanistan as a part of the International Security Assistance Force. They are combating a violent insurgency movement. I am quite certain the Canadians are restoring, and definitely not violating human rights in the process. When our personnel serve in such areas, they serve similar objectives.  Hopefully, the Canadian boys fighting in Afghanistan will get their tickets back home and not be put through the scanners that a lot of Indians in uniform have faced.  Obviously, they have carried the issue a bit too far. It has also been unfortunately selective. No such cases of the US or UK armed forces personnel serving in insurgency areas being denied visa, has at least been reported.  It is most imperative that the Canadians correct the situation immediately. They surely respect their men and women in uniform. Their families of the Canadian soldiers definitely want them back. And a lot of our armed forces personnel have relatives in Canada, who would want our boys to visit them in Canada, now and then.  Our army's services have been sought by a number of countries to learn the basic tenets of counter-insurgency operations. The pillars on which our counter-insurgency doctrine rests, includes upholding human rights and focused civic affairs. For personnel from such an organisation, being put in the league of human rights violators is most humiliating.  In my case, fortunately, the visa finally materialised, though I was unable to use it at that belated stage.  It's also heartening to see the ministry of external affairs getting its act together; belatedly though. Hopefully, there will be no lull in the battle before the Canadians correct their system.  The author is a retired Indian Army officer Brigadier S K Chatterji Email this Save to My Page Ask Users Write a Comment








India Thought Leaders: Hypersonic BRAHMOS Missile By 2015, CEO Says
Last Updated:May 28, 2010  Dr. A Sivathanu Pillai, CEO & MD of BrahMos Aerospace. The Indo-Russian BRAHMOS supersonic missile programme has made its mark in the international arena with a series of successful launches and subsequent rapid induction by the Indian Army and Navy. Now an air version of the missile is currently under development and will be fitted onto the Su-30MKI platform when ready.  Excerpts from an exclusive interview with BrahMos Aerospace CEO and Managing Director Dr. A Sivathanu Pillai published in the Aviation Week (AW).  AW: Indian media has often hailed your role in making BrahMos a major hit. What do you think has led to your successes so far?  Dr. AS Pillai: Joint venture BrahMos is built upon the technological synergy of strengths of the two nations – India and Russia. Moreover, the superiority of the product such as Speed, Precision and Power has ensured the realization of this high-tech product and attracted the users to go for induction of the system in the shortest possible time. It can be proudly said that the Indian Army is the only land force in the entire globe to have a supersonic maneuverable land-attack cruise missile regiment.  AW: Could you please give an update on the programme? How many missiles (squadrons) have the Indian Army and Navy inducted?  Dr. AS Pillai: As you are aware, the development of both antiship and land-attack versions of BRAHMOS had been completed successfully and we are in the process of delivering the systems to the Navy and Army. Recently, contracts have been signed for induction of the mobile complex for Indian Army and Indian Air Force. Further orders are in the pipeline. The number of systems will depend on the force strength the services need to have.  AW: What kind of additional orders are we talking about for Indian Army and Navy? What’s the order value?  Dr. AS Pillai: As BRAHMOS will be the first strike weapon with punch, there will be a greater number of ships, mobile launchers and aircraft fitted with the missile. Our order value will exceed $5 billion.  AW: When will the hypersonic version come out? What’s the latest from this front?  Dr. AS Pillai: The hypersonic version is on the drawing board and mutual discussions are in progress. We would like to freeze the design aspects in the near future. The realization of the missile would be taken up. Probably five years down the line, we can start testing of the missile.  AW: What kind of role are private industries playing in the success of BrahMos?  Dr. AS Pillai: BrahMos is an ideal example for the public-private industries consortium. Many industries had been identified in both India and Russia for manufacture of subsystems. Industries have become the production partners and are extending full support in the timely manufacture of the systems/subsystems. In short, the Missile Industry Consortium has been established in both the countries.  AW: Over the last two years BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Ltd. (BATL) has taken shape in Kerala. Where do you see BATL in the next couple of years?  Dr. AS Pillai: BATL was established as a leading aerospace industry and a role model for Kerala. It is expected to grow in the coming years. BATL is primarily for supporting various projects of BrahMos, Defence Research Development Organisation and Indian Space Research Organisation. In addition, we will be supporting Bhabha Atomic Research Center for the robotic system and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) for engines. The Phase-II expansion will begin after we get additional land and the Phase-III thereafter. The first fully-integrated BRAHMOS missile is expected to roll out from BATL by 2012.






Will Lucknow Cantonment be a no-civilian zone? 
Defence authorities plan to take over all sprawling bungalows that the British once allotted to the moneyed, respectable citizenry of Lucknow, in the Cantonment limits. Following a marathon exercise, 15-odd bungalows have been taken over and four notices to ensure similar action are pending.  Top Defence Estates bosses say the mandate is to ensure resumption (taking over) of all the 69 Old Grant as well as Lease bungalows. Today, Lucknow’s crème de la crème, including Sudhir Halwasiya and Arif Md Sheikh, have bungalows in the area. Some of them have been taken over from the original occupants.  “The land on which the 69 bungalows stand is ours and we have every right to take it back. Compensations will be paid to the residents — mostly the who is who of Lucknow — as per the norms,” said an official.  Sources hinted the Army is exploring land expansion options across the country and Lucknow is no exception. “The armed forces are facing accommodation problems for its officers and soldiers but I cannot attribute the taking over of the bungalows to this problem,” said an official.  So why the taking over? “Cantonment areas are meant of troupes and not for the public. Such areas should not be crowded to ensure health, security, recreation etc,” the official said.      Plus, these bungalows were allotted strictly for residential purposes. “There’s definitely some commercial activity going on in the some of the structures,” said another official.    “The policy of taking back such properties is very old, the last structured directive being as old as of 1992,” Army sources said and added, “In the 1970s, 15 such bungalows were taken back in Lucknow. Now, 4-5 acquisition notices have been sent out to the occupants (recorded holders of occupancy rights).”  However, the process is not that easy. “The occupants move court and plead they are very poor and they don’t have any other shelter, while the fact remains they own a number of properties in the city itself,” said a source. On being served notices, the obtain a court stay which may run into as long as 30 years.    The History  There are a total of 69 bungalows, reminiscent of the British era, in the Lucknow Cantt area, the biggest one sprawling in as much as 15 acres of land. Defence source say the moneyed, respectable citizenry of Lucknow who sought proximity with the British were allowed to construct bungalows and reside in them.  The British also allowed the natives to come and reside in the bungalows on Defence land for reasons such as service and supplies, while the ownership rights lay with the East India Company. “It was convenient then because there was no population pressure,” said a source. There are 62 cantonments in India and of them, 25 of them are under the Lucknow-based Central Command, covering seven states.  Bungalows not likely to be demolished  The demolition and conversion of these bungalows into group housing/flats is not likely because of Cantt Board’s building bylaws, lease conditions and government policies. “No construction or demolition has been allowed by court,” said an official.    MEGA Accommodation Project  The armed forces are facing accommodation problems for its officers and soldiers. Consequent to the promise made to the Indian Armed Forces by the Centre, a four-phase Married Accommodation Project or MAP in already underway to construct married accommodation for the three services to take care of the housing problems.  A separate Directorate General Married Accommodation Project (DG MAP) was raised on 31 May 2002.With a mandate to construct 300,000 dwelling units, it is one of the largest construction endeavours in the world.  In the first phase, 8,459 units will be constructed across the country. In seven pockets of the Lucknow Cantt area, there will be 2,222 units for officers, JCOs and jawans. 1000-odd units are ready.



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