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Thursday, 15 July 2010

From Today's Papers - 15 Jul 2010

US to look for WW-II debris in Arunachal
Bijay Sankar Bora Tribune News Service  Guwahati, July 14 The United States government has been in touch with the Government of India and the Arunachal Pradesh government seeking cooperation for locating mortal remains, if any, of American soldiers and debris of aircrafts, which had gone missing in action during World War II.  Kolkata-based US Consul-General Beth A Payne, who was leading a high-profile delegation of American Chamber of Commerce (AMACHAM) in India to explore investments opportunities for American companies in the Northeast, today said in view of reported occasional recovery of wreckage of US war aircrafts in Arunachal Pradesh in the past, the US government was looking forward for cooperation from Indian authorities to locate more such debris in Arunachal Himalayas.  Terming the Northeast as a huge emerging market in the east , she said American companies would be happy to get an opportunity to invest in this resourceful region, especially in well connected Assam in view of rapid improvement in security scenario of late.  “The US government is closely watching the improved security situation in Assam. We had never advised US citizens against travelling to Assam even when there was trouble rather asked them to consult our security officers in Kolkata before embarking on journey to the state,” she said.  The US official said the US government was keenly watching the move and demands from various quarters for re-opening of historic Stilwell Road.  The age-old road which is now not in use, was constructed by the Americans during the Second World War from Ledo in Upper Assam to connect Brahmaputra Valley to Kunming in China. It passes through Lekhapani, Jairampur, Nampong and Pangsau pass, India-Burma (Myanmar) border. It winds up the passes of 9000 ft Patkai Range and emerges at Shindbwiyang and then Myitkyina. It crosses the broad bowl of the Upper Chindwin, threads the Hukawng and Mogaung valleys, and goes down to Bhamo and to the Burma road which connects Kunming in Yunnan province of China.

Unified Command to battle Naxal menace Centre okays more logistic support 
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 14 In what is a first step at forming a common strategy for states hit by Naxal violence, the Centre today announced setting up of a Unified Command in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. Realising that development and action in Maoist areas should be together, the Centre also announced that over Rs 1,750 crore would be spent on developmental projects in the four states.  Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced the decision after a meeting of Chief Ministers of seven Naxal-affected states convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Jharkhand being under Central rule was represented by its Governor whereas West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya skipped the meeting and was represented by his Health Minister.  The Chief Secretary of each state will head the Unified Command, which will have a retired Major-General as its member. The CRPF will depute an IG-level officer for ‘operations’ while an equal rank officer from the state police force will coordinate the entire effort.  The Home Minister said that there was need for a Unified Command only in these four states and Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar had been omitted for the time being. “This (a unified command) is a normal pattern wherever various forces operate jointly like in Jammu and Kashmir and North-East,” Chidambaram said.  Responding to whether states had wanted the Army to be deployed, he said, “…None of the states directly sought the Army’s deployment but have asked for air support… The states wanted infusion of more paramilitary forces; they have been told that there were no available forces and will be provided once new battalions are raised.”  The Centre has told the states that their demand for air support was being considered. Air support will be ramped up once the Indian Air Force withdraws 15-odd MI-17 choppers on UN duty.  Separately, the Member-Secretary of the Planning Commission will work to modify existing norms and guidelines to ensure rapid development in the targetted 34 districts: Rs 800 crore will be spent on strengthening police stations and another Rs 950 crore on road connectivity in these districts. The government will fund the establishment and strengthening of 400 police stations in affected districts at the rate of Rs 2 crore a police station on 80:20 basis over a period of two years.  The Planning Commission is considering a special development plan for the affected districts and states with emphasis on road connectivity, primary education, primary healthcare and drinking water, the Home Minister said.  What is Unified Command?  Already in force in militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir and Assam, the Unified Command structure includes Army, paramilitary and state police, who work in coordination. The Centre has agreed to implement the structure in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal. But here, the Army, as per Union Home Minister, would not be involved. However, IAF helicopters would be used for supplies and evacuation. 

ACRs within purview of judicial bodies: Tribunal
Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, July 14 Holding that the courts cannot close their eyes if flaws and illegalities in Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) are brought to their notice, the Armed Forces Tribunal had rejected the contention of the Defence Ministry that ACR matters cannot be looked into by judicial bodies.  Setting aside the ACR of a Lieutenant Colonel that had been initiated at the time when he was facing a court of inquiry, the Tribunal’s bench comprising Justice Ghanshyam Prashad and Lt Gen H.S. Panag (retd) asked the authorities concerned to be fair while dealing with complaints filed by officers concerning their careers.  Lt Col S.N. Pokhriyal had challenged the action of the Military Secretary’s Branch of considering an ACR written in March 1999 for his promotion boards held in 2007. The officer had contended that he was facing a Court of Inquiry from April 1998, which resulted in award of “reproof” to him in June 1999, and hence in accordance with the then applicable rules, the ACR could have only been initiated after June. He also contended that the ACR was unsigned and the contents not communicated to him and hence, had no value even on that ground.  Upholding the contentions, the Tribunal observed rules provided that ACRs cannot be initiated when an officer is facing disciplinary action so that the initiating superior officer does not get biased or prejudiced.  Rejecting the stand of the respondents that the petition was barred by time, the Tribunal held that the incorrect action of 1999 had affected the officer in 2007 when his promotion was due and hence he had full right to challenge it.

Cyber security and India
 In recent times India has got exposed to a new kind of threats for which international cyber criminals are to be blamed. It is worth mentioning here that in the month of April, India was seriously victimised by the cyber attack sourced from China.  IN RECENT times India has got exposed to new kinds of threats, but this time it is not the courtesy of the terrorists, instead international cyber criminals are to be blamed. While giving a lecture on ‘Future of IT in Modern warfare in Context of Cyber Security’, at recently held meet at College of Defense and Management (CMD), the chief executive office (CEO) and managing director (MD) of the country’s largest IT firm, Infosys, S Gopalkrishnan showed serious concern over the numerous attempts of cyber attack that the country faced recently from anti national outside forces.  It is worth mentioning here that in the month of April, this year, India was seriously victimised by the cyber attack sourced from China. The real motive behind this cyber rampage is yet to be revealed. Gopalkrishnan said that similar kind of cyber attack on India is very likely to take place in the future and in a much frequently. So he suggested that it is the high time for India to remain vigilant to track any such attempt and to revamp its cyber security. The most frightening aspect of the story is that it requires very limited amount of resources and a capable tech savvy team of workers is all it takes to launch such an attack. So he urged the authorities to take the issue very seriously and to work hand in hand with the able IT companies of the country to fix the loop holes.

Krishna leaves for Pakistan amid concerns and hopes
 IANS, Jul 14, 2010, 02.36pm IST NEW DELHI: External affairs minister SM Krishna left for Islamabad Wednesday for the most tangible move aimed at reviving a dialogue between India and Pakistan since the Mumbai terror attack of 2008.  Armed with the authority to reduce the trust deficit but proceed with caution, Krishna boarded a special Air India plane for a three-day visit that will see him shaking hands with both the civilian and military leadership in Pakistan.  Accompanying him are foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and other senior officials of the external affairs ministry.  Krishna's main agenda is to hold wide-ranging talks Thursday with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in line with a decision taken by the two prime ministers to incrementally step up their engagement in order to reduce tensions between the two nuclear armed neighbours.  Publicly, both countries are firmly hopeful.  "The willingness to resume the stalled dialogue presents a win-win situation for both the countries, as peace and stability is the only way forward," Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in comments welcoming Krishna.  Besides Qureshi, his opposite number, Krishna is also expected to call on Gilani and the army chief, General Parvez Ashfaq Kayani, widely seen as the real power centre in Pakistan.  On Tuesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Krishna and his core cabinet colleagues - finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P. Chidambaram and defence minister AK Antony - to prepare the outlines of what India could possibly offer to Pakistan.  Indian officials believe that if contentious issues are kept aside for now, a lot of road can be travelled.  This basically revolves around what is known as "people-to-people" contacts including easing of the strict visa regime, further trade particularly between the two halves of Kashmir, more cross-border trains and buses, and more frequent exchange of prisoners, particularly fishermen who stray into each other's sea.  The more serious issues confronting the India-Pakistan relations are, however, deeply divisive.  New Delhi accuses Islamabad of harbouring, arming and financing terrorists directed against Indian interests, both in India and beyond, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, whose ownership is claimed by both countries.  Pakistan denies the terrorist label while openly declaring moral and diplomatic support for the separatist campaign in Jammu and Kashmir, where unrest has led to bloody street clashes between mobs and security forces since June.  Pakistan is also keen to cut India to size in Afghanistan, where Gen Kayani is hopeful of brokering a workable deal between the US and President Hamid Karzai in a way Islamabad's strategic interests are fully met.  In the process, Washington has got involved in the India-Pakistan game as it has concluded that Islamabad will not provide the military muscle to take on the Taliban and Al Qaeda as long as tensions run high between with New Delhi.  No wonder, America is gently seeking a revival of the India-Pakistan dialogue.  India is ready to engage with Pakistan again, but it is firm that it cannot proceed beyond a point unless Islamabad acts firmly against Islamist forces that instigated the horrendous attack on Mumbai that left 166 people dead and was blamed on Pakistani terrorists.  This is easier said than done.  While Pakistan is also a victim of terror, some of which it sowed, it cannot afford to turn its back against those groups that play a key role in bleeding India without plunging into a formal war.  On paper, such outfits are dubbed "non-state actors".  However, some of these outfits are linked to the Taliban, and so are not in the good books of Washington either.  While Krishna may press Pakistan to act decisively on the terror front, Islamabad could take up the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, a festering wound at the heart of their tense relationship.

Objectives of Pakistan’s adversaries remain unaccomplished 
July 14, 2010 posted by Michael Leon · Leave a Comment  Share U.S. Pakistan Relations  U.S. Pakistan Relations  By Asif Haroon Raja  The US is the strongest military and economic power of the world but its behavior is amateurish and childish and doesn’t correspond to its stature, strength and capability. After 2nd World War, it never clashed directly with an adversary matching its capabilities but always attacked very weak foes. Like a typical bully, it prefers tiny David over giant Goliath and clobbers the former mercilessly but as luck would have it, USA didn’t even succeed against David.  After the North Korean fiasco in 1953-54, its physical strength was put to test in Vietnam where it got embroiled with small-height, impoverished and ill-equipped Vietcong under inspiring leadership of Ho-chi-Minh in North Vietnam who were no match to the well fed, tall and strongly built GIs backed up with massive sophisticated military and technological resources. They wanted to succeed where French had failed against Vietminh led by Gen Giap (1946-54). During its ten-year stay (1964-1974), the US military applied maximum force to annihilate the opponents. It dropped 7.8 million tons of bombs including napalms and mustard gas, sprayed 75 million litres of defoliants including Dioxin over fields, forests and villages causing 7 million casualties including 3 million dead. Despite wholesale massacre and destruction the Americans failed to break the will and resilience of Vietnamese to fight back. The resistance forces were covertly backed by USSR and China since the two considered it their moral duty to provide material assistance to the beleaguered neighbor believing in same ideology.  When the casualties of US soldiers began to mount and reached the figure of 58000 fatalities and home pressure intensified, adamant US leadership instead of winding up the war extended it to Cambodia under the warped logic that unless safe sanctuaries of Vietcong in neighboring Cambodia were neutralized, victory in Vietnam War was not possible. Additional troops were sought to expand the scope of war. When this experiment failed after massacring tens of thousands of Cambodians, USA had to finally eat a humble pie and order retreat in sheer disgust and disgrace.   Stewing in the juice of humiliation, the US got an opportunity to avenge its disgrace when Soviets forces barged into Afghanistan and Mujahideen backed up by Pakistan confronted them at their own. Instead of jumping into the fray and battling with Soviet forces in an even match, USA decided to resort to indirect strategy. It provoked and backed Mujahideen to directly take on Soviet troops and Afghan Army to liberate Afghanistan . It also lured Pakistan through $3.5 billion aid package to act as a frontline state and undertake a proxy war. Its forces stayed out of the Afghan war since USA had learnt a bitter lesson of direct confrontation in North Korea and North Vietnam .  Thanks to outstanding fight put up by rag tag Mujahideen and immense sacrifices rendered by them and Pakistan , Afghan war was decisively won and Soviet forces pushed out. When it came to collecting awards, the US stood alone on the victory stand and gathered all of them leaving the actual winners high and dry. The US having avenged its dishonor in Vietnam with the help of others declared itself a winner without losing a single soldier.  This grand success which drastically truncated USSR and reduced it into Commonwealth of Independent States, ended bi-polarism and made USA the sole super power. This unprecedented elevation went into the heads of arrogant US leaders and they started viewing America as the mightiest and invincible. They forgot that their military had played no role in the defeat and demise of Soviet Union . Drunk with power and megalomania, they wanted to punish the very forces that had elevated USA to prestigious position of unchallenged super power and had put their lives at stake. Afghanistan under Taliban was among the most impoverished countries of the world, devoid of armed forces and technological base.  Regardless of their handicaps, the Americans forgot that Afghanistan was the traditional graveyard of many mighty empires where it was easy to get in but far more difficult to get out. They wanted to succeed where none had succeeded. Soviet Union jumped into the inferno of Afghanistan because of paranoia of Islamic resurgence. It had the advantage of geographic contiguity and dedicated logistic tail. It had strong political roots in Afghanistan in the form of Khalq and Parcham parties, had a heavy presence of military advisers and had committed 150000 troops at the outset. Yet it failed in its mission and had to withdraw. US leaders were so buoyed up with the prospects of commercial gains from Central Asia that they completely overlooked US military handicaps. To hide their real motives they raised false slogans of freedom and democracy and demonized Taliban, with whom US UNOCOL was in secret contacts. They ignored over 1.5 million human losses of Mujahideen, mostly Afghans and the brilliant work done by ISI under Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman and later under Gen Hameed Gul.  Without ISI’s fanatical commitment and its competence to undertake this gigantic covert operation that had no parallels and Allah’s support, the miracle was not possible. Throughout the operation, CIA was kept on the back seat and its role was confined to provisioning funds and weaponry or collection of volunteers from Muslim world.  Training, equipping and launching of Mujahideen and dealing with seven aggressive Mujahideen groups in conflict with each other on one hand and bracing up to subversive activities of KGB, KHAD, RAW together with overbearing attitude of Moscow and Tehran’s disquiet was an uphill task for ISI and Pakistani leadership. Pakistan had to put up with frequent bomb blasts, hijacking, target killings, ground and air border violations.  Pakistan also had to bear with domestic opposition led by PPP and ANP opposed to Afghan Jihad and Gen Ziaul Haq’s policies and rise of sectarianism. To defy the threats of next door super power fuming with anger was no easy job and that too when Pakistan was confronted with twin threat from east and west and India ’s heightened belligerency.  India ’s military exercise Brass-tacks in 1986 had taken place in that critical period. At that time Pakistan had not attained viable weapon grade nuclear capability with requisite delivery means but had kept India scared under policy of ambiguity. Moscow had hurled series of threats cautioning Pakistan to stop meddling and to dismantle training camps or be prepared for dire consequences. Despite grave internal and external challenges, at no stage Gen Zia buckled or resorted to appeasement or compromised national interests or prestige and honor of the country.  One can note the stark difference of attitudes of the then leadership with present day leadership. The elected democratic leaders claiming to enjoy support of the majority lay prostrate before the US and Indian leaders and accept their taunts, insults and kicks smilingly. Americans and Indians after pasting false charges of abetting terrorism are threatening to invade. What to talk of seeing them in eyes and disregarding their illegal demands, accusations and threats, they don’t even pick up courage to mumble a word of protest when Pakistan is in flames at both ends and has put everything at stake. Yet they have the temerity to declare Gen Zia’s era as black and illegal. They can pass laws while in power but cannot wash away facts of history.           Pakistan could have played a double game to milk both the super powers and keep them appeased, but it played a straight game and put all its eggs in the basket of USA . Having tested the tenacity, resilience and professional abilities of Pakistani people and premier institutions for a decade under trying conditions, there was no earthly reason for USA not to place its full faith in Pakistan and to make it a life-long strategic partner. In reality, reverse happened. The US ditched Pakistan in 1990, developed acute apprehensions and distrust and undertook highly discriminatory acts to penalize Pakistan . Pakistan ’s nuclear program was the overriding factor for such an attitude. The US had ignored the ongoing program at Kahuta throughout 1980s and US President had rendered certificates each year from 1985 onwards that Pakistan was not pursuing nuclear program. Besides Nuclear program, ISI also became an eyesore for USA since it had seen its outstanding capability and had emerged as the most potent intelligence organization within the third world. CIA developed envy for ISI and vied to cut it to size.  No sooner the US downed its chief rival with the help of Pakistan ; it started penalizing its ally. To add insult to injury, the US befriended Pakistan ’s chief adversary India which had remained in the Soviet camp from 1947 onwards. The US went out of the way to bolster strategic ties with India . At the behest of India , Washington started hounding and persecuting Pakistan through Pressler Amendment and propaganda war to enfeeble its economy and spoil its image. ISI was purged of diehard officers committed to Afghan and Kashmir jihad during the two tenures of Benazir Bhutto at US behest. The US didn’t sever linkage with Islamabad since it saw Pakistan as a possible bridge for its future exploits in Afghanistan and Central Asia.  It was owing to US discriminatory policies that democratic era in Pakistan in 1990s failed to deliver and opened doors for military intervention in October 1999. After a brief spell of coldness, George W. Bush US befriended Gen Musharraf and made him a blue-eyed boy. This transition in outlook happened when Musharraf readily agreed to serve US interests in Afghanistan blindly. Besides extending several facilities to USA , the ISI was purged for the third time. This time the axe fell on officers with a religious bent of mind. Even employees working in nuclear facilities were not spared. While US leaders kept hugging secular Musharraf affectionately, lava of aversion kept simmering in their minds and hearts against Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its people. Governed by this mindset, Indo-US-Israeli team worked upon a gory plan to destabilize, denuclearize and fragment Pakistan through covert means. All the members of the team excelling in this game put their heart and soul to make the plan a roaring success. FATA and Balochistan, both bordering Afghanistan were picked up as hunting grounds to establish a foothold in Pakistan.  While drumming up threat of terrorism, CIA and FBI started playing a double game by outwardly trying to control terrorism in two fertile grounds but inwardly making peaceful areas restive. After collecting information from Pakistani agencies, instead of working jointly, the US agencies cleverly sidelined them and assumed total control of intelligence acquisition from 2003 onwards. So much so that army units operating in Waziristan were made dependent upon their inputs. No raid could be conducted without clearance from CIA heavy US command centres established in Peshawar , Kohat, Miranshah and Wana. Over 500 pro-government Maliks and clerics were assassinated in FATA by CIA agents, Blackwater and extremists on their payroll, which paved the way for establishment of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and loss of power of anti-Taliban elements in FATA. Idea behind creating TTP was to form a force formidable enough to confront and defeat the Army in guerrilla war. It was trained, equipped, funded and guided to ensure its success since it was evaluated that without destroying the Army none of the objectives conceived could be achieved.   Pakistani troops were pushed into South Waziristan (SW) in late 2002 without training in guerrilla war, acclimatization, motivation and counterterrorism equipment. Peace deals were promptly disrupted through drone attacks, which also hit anti-US and pro-government elements. Peace jirgas were targeted by suicide bombers. Flames of war were gradually spread from FATA to settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and then to major cities. Western print and electronic media and think tanks duly fed by Indian writers were activated to spread gloom and doom; so were pro-western elements in Pakistan . English newspapers like Daily Times and to an extent Dawn together with several TV channels performed the allotted job loyally to smear Pakistan and its institutions.  All these immoral activities financed through illegal drug trade delighted the master planners. In their excitement to floor Pakistan and then extract its nuclear teeth they lost sight of their primary objective of disrupting, dismantling and defeating Al-Qaeda for which they had sauntered into Afghanistan .  Taking advantage of their loss of direction, Al-Qaeda and Taliban kept regaining ground. By the time the US woke up from its stupor, nearly 80% territory had slipped from under its feet. All their gains had been gifted away due to imprudence, myopia and over confidence. Americans had over estimated own strength and under estimated deftness and guts of Afghan fighters and repeated the mistakes committed by Soviets. The Taliban gained complete sway in southern and eastern Afghanistan and acquired the strength to venture into all parts of the country including Kabul . As if this setback was not enough, the conspirators received another shock when Pak army broke the back of Fazlullah led militants in Malakand Division and Swat and Hakimullah Mehsud led TTP in SW in 2009.    Like Pak Army has pushed the militants in FATA and Swat on the back foot, Afghan Taliban have also achieved moral ascendancy over occupation forces since they have succeeded in defeating their minds. Coalition forces have lost the will to fight and are eager to return home. However, unabated turbulence in Afghanistan and Pakistan suits India and Israel . Hence their desperate efforts to stave-off negotiated political settlement. Both are keen to convert Afghanistan into an Indian satellite and to consolidate Israeli presence for future joint covert operations against Central Asian States and Pakistan . Continuation of war on terror helps in bleeding Pakistan and weakening it from within and keeping its attention away from Kashmir . They also seek to break the will of Pakistan to resist Indian hegemony in the region. News of over one trillion dollars mineral resources in Afghanistan has watered the mouths of occupation forces and given them second thoughts.  Machinations and intrigues of adversaries of Pakistan are however getting drowned in the fast flowing stream of events which are not going in their favor. Afghan situation is in a fluid state and USA having lost on all counts, doesn’t know how to crystallize it. Israeli blockade of Gaza strip and piracy against peace flotilla in May has for the first time evoked worldwide condemnation and it is fast getting isolated. India is getting exposed in occupied Kashmir due to ongoing protests by unarmed Kashmiris seeking freedom and ruthless action by Indian security forces who had been claiming that insurgency had been quashed. At home Maoist movement has become grave for India since Maoists are trying to bring all anti-imperialist struggles in India on one platform. Instead of hoping to accomplish objectives set against Pakistan , the conspirators have got worried about safety of their own homes.

MoS Defence’s move to fight EFI election opposed
 Press Trust of India Posted online: Thu Jul 15 2010, 02:09 hrs New Delhi : Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju's decision to contest the July 31 election of the Equestrian Federation of India has evoked criticism with former spocriticising down the minister’s move.  Members of the ‘Clean Sports India’, created by former Indian spolike hockey captain Pargat Singh, suspect that if Raju contests the poll he may influence the electorate to become the EFI President.  “We suspect that Mr Raju may try to use his political influence to get votes of the Army officers working under him to get elected to the EFI presidency as the majority of the electorate is from the armed forces,” said a statement issued today.  “We appeal to the Army chief General V K Singh, who is a rider himself, not to get influenced by his political boss. We also appeal to Prime Minister and Defence Minister to ensure that their colleagues do not interfere in the sports bodies using their political clout,” it added.  The Minister has already filed his nomination for the election to be held here and the CSI, a society claiming to create awareness about problems in Indian spo, requested him to reconsider the decision.  “Finally we make an earnest appeal to Mr Raju himself that he should reconsider his decision to contest election for the EFI presidentship,” the statement said.  Pargat last month had launched a scathing attack on the Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi, accusing him of preventing athletes from joining National Sports Federations.  Former national players like Arjuna awardee Reeth Abraham, Bhugeshwar Boruah and Sunita Godara are also members of the ‘Clean Sports India’s society.

CBI blacklist stalls Army's towed guns trials 
With the CBI recommending a fresh list of defence firms for blacklisting due to their names figuring in corruption cases, the Army's towed guns trials now stand indefinitely postponed for the third time since 2002.  "The towed guns trial that were to happen this month will not happen immediately. It could take a few more months," Defence Ministry officials said on Wednesday.  Singapore Technology Kinetics, an artillery guns manufacturer, has been named in the list of defence firms sent by CBI to Defence Ministry for blacklisting due to their alleged involvement in corruption cases against former Ordnance Factory Board chief Sudipto Ghosh.  The Singapore firm was competing in the towed guns trials of the Army against UK firm BAE Systems.  The Army had projected a requirement of 1,180 155mm/52 calibre towed guns about a decade ago to replace the ageing Bofors guns.  The requirement was projected as the Army had not purchased even a single artillery gun in the last two decades since the Bofors corruption scandal broke out, after its guns were bought by India in the late 1980s.  The initial need of 400 guns would be met through a global tender along with transfer of technology, under which a the remainder 780 guns would be produced under licence by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).  Four vendors had submitted tender documents to the Defence Ministry, of which SWS Defence AB of Sweden (later taken over by BAE) and Singapore Technology Kinetics were shortlisted for participation in the 'No Cost - No Commitment' trials to be held in Pokhran firing ranges in Rajasthan.  The guns from the two firms for the trials were required to fire the ammunition provided by the Ordnance Factory.  The CBI had recently written to the Defence Ministry listing Singapore Technologies Kinetics, Israel Military Industries, Zurich based Rheinmetall Air Defence, Russian Cooperation Defence, Delhi based T S Kisan and Company and Ludhiana based R K Machines Tools Ltd for blacklisting.

Mission possible 
Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools, said Napoleon Bonaparte once. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), it appears, has faith in the same philosophy. For them nothing is difficult, and the impossible might take some time. This commitment is well reflected in their motto — Shramena Sarvam Sadhyam (With hard work everything is possible). The construction work — be it roads, tunnels, bridges or airfields — that they undertake, both within and without the country, bears testimony to that fact.  The BRO has constructed approximately 48,000 km of roads, 400 major bridges of 36,000 metres length and 19 airfields in difficult and remote areas of the country. At present, the organisation is working on 699 roads (27,958 km), which include new construction work and  single to double-lane upgradation. Add to this the maintenance of approximately 21,182 kms of road and seven airfields and clearing up of snow on 95 roads (2,961 km) every year to ensure connectivity of border regions to the rest of the country and you get a pen picture of the magnitude of its activities.  “The BRO was formed in the year 1960 to meet the strategic requirement of the armed forces with the aim to develop  the road infrastructure network in the border regions of the country,” says Brigadier Sukhvir Sharma, deputy director general (personnel), BRO. The organisation has, over the years, “spread its wings and diversified into a large spectrum of construction and development works, bridging and tunnelling,” he elaborates.  This elite force is now regarded as a symbol of nation-building, and has become an inseparable component in maintaining the security and integrity of the nation. It has spread its wings beyond the boundaries of the nation. In order to “strengthen the bond of friendship with neighbouring countries, BRO has developed road infrastructure in Bhutan, Mayanmar and Afganistan,” Brig Sharma says.  Apart from constructing and maintaining roads in Bhutan, BRO had in 1968 built an international airport at Paro (in Bhutan) at an altitude of 2300 metres and carried out subsequent strengthening and extension of the facility in 2007-08. Other international projects have included construction of ATC buildings, aprons and other facilities alongside ‘rehabilitation’ of the runway in a record time of 10 months in Tajikistan.  A BRO official (engineering cadre) holds the designation of assistant executive engineer. He can rise up to the level of additional director general, the second highest post in the organisation. An officer of the Indian Army always holds the post of the director general. According to Pritam Singh, a senior private secretary from the administrative cadre, many private organisations seek to hire retired BRO officers.  “The multi-national companies engaged in constructing roads, bridges, tunnels etc are always on the lookout for BRO officers (read engineers) as they acquire vast experience in the course of their career.”  However, the work of BRO officials is not easy. When working on a project in a remote border area they may have to deal with “excessive hot/cold climate.  Difficulties could be faced while mobilising material or manpower, or dealing with non-availability of sufficient labour force, lack of civic amenities and communication facilities,” says R Rai, executive engineer, civil, who has done his ME on structures. But, as most of the officials say, the tougher the challenge, the sweeter the fruits of labour.  What's it about? The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) was conceived and raised in the year 1960 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. This was done to fast track the development of road network and infrastructure in the northern and northeastern border areas of the country and to meet the strategic requirements of the Indian Armed forces. The executive arm of the BRO, the General Reserve Engineer Force, popularly known by its acronym GREF, is a dynamic force. The organisation, conceived primarily as a road building agency in the early ’60s, has over the years, spread its wings and diversified to undertake a large spectrum of construction and development works, comprising road projects, defence works, and bridging and tunnelling. The BRO has a rich and glorious past. With the humble beginning of just two projects in 1960, Vartak in east and Beacon in the north, today, there are 17 projects/ special task forces spread across the length and breadth of the country  Clock Work 7 am to 8 am:       Ensure deployment of resources as per work plan 8 am to 4 pm:       Inspect construction work and ensure it’s as per specifications 4 pm to 5 pm:       Take stock of the progress during the day 5 pm to 6 pm:       Ensure daily works documents have been updated 6.30 pm onwards: Plan work and deployment of resources for the next day  The Payoff The salary is at par with that of any Central government employee, varying in keeping with the designation. The starting salary for the officer in pay band 4 is in the range of Rs 15600 to 39100 a month with grade pay of Rs 5400 for assistant executive engineer that rises to Rs 67000 to Rs 79000 a month (in case of an additional director general, Border Roads). The DA is applicable as per latest government orders. BRO officers are also entitled to free ration, outfit allowance, subsidised accom-modation, free railway warrant from place of duty to hometown  Skills .    Engineering knowledge and analytical skills  .    Officers should possess  leadership qualities, set personal examples to lead their men .    Should be honest with a high degree of integrity .    Be physically and mentally robust .    Should be capable of shouldering additional responsibilities  How do i get there? Take physics, chemistry, maths in plus-two. Take the engineering entrance exam conducted by Central and state boards. Earn a BE degree upon successful entry to an engineering course.  The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts an All-India Engineering Exam for candidates (engineering degree minimum qualification) and based on their merit, engineer officers are picked for BRO. For administrative officers, selection is made by UPSC based on the interview. They should be graduates from a recognised university in arts or science stream  Institutes & urls There is no specific institute which can train/coach you for joining the BRO.  Selection is done by UPSC based on merit in the  All India Engineering Exams for engineering stream officers and on the basis of interviews for administrative officers with degree qualification from a recognised university  Pros & cons .    Being part of a disciplined force, officers and men learn service ethos and develop leadership qualities .    In course of their employment the officers gain the experience and confidence to handle prestigious projects  .    You get to work and live in various parts of the country .    Incentives given in the 6th Pay Commission have taken care of certain anomalies and service conditions have improved over the period .    The officers and men have to stay away from their families Elite organisation, unique experience  A senior talks about the opportunities and challenges in the organisation  Is it mandatory to be an engineer to get entry into the BRO? BRO constitutes officers from the engineering as well as administrative background.  It is essential for BRES (engineering cadre) to have an engineering degree from a recognised university for entry into BRO. For administrative officers, a  degree in arts or science stream, from a recognised university, is essential.  Similarly, for medical officers, MBBS degree from a recognised college is mandatory.    Is there a need for more BRO officers in the country? There are adequate numbers. However, deficiencies are made up for by UPSC.    Where can a BRO officer find  re-employment? (Which are the places/organisations/sectors that might employ a retired officer?) BRO officers during their service in this elite organisation gain a lot of experience, which helps them after post-retirement and opens avenues to other government or private construction agencies dealing with roads, bridges, tunnels and airfield works.   What are the challenges facing officers today? What is the future of BRO as a career choice among young men? The challenges faced by BRO engineers are as under: .    To orient and update themselves on the latest technological advancements  .    Implement planned work in extreme border areas — a tough job .    To maintain speed of work while ensuring quality .    To maximise efficiency of men who work under them and look after their welfare aspects. With the planned cadre review and the promotional aspects improving, BRO will definitely find a priority among young engineers in search of challenges.   What role do officers of Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army play in the BRO? The BRO is one of the four pillars of the Corps of Engineers (Indian Army). The officers from the Corps of Engineers are posted to BRO on extra-regimental- employment (ERE) duties and work shoulder to shoulder with BRES officers towards one common goal: That of the development of the country.

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