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Thursday, 22 July 2010

From Today's Papers - 22 Jul 2010




New US thinking on India
Coming Obama visit offers an opportunity by G. Parthasarathy  When an anxious Andrei Gromyko met Atal Bihari Vajpayee just after the Janata Party government assumed office in 1977, he was assured that Indo-Soviet relations were strong enough to withstand changes in the government in New Delhi. When a populist Barack Obama assumed office in January 2009 there were good reasons for many in New Delhi to feel concerned about the future of India-US relations. Obama made no secret of his view that he intended to resolve world issues in partnership with a resurgent and assertive China.  As President-elect, he averred: “We also have to help make the case that the biggest threat to Pakistan right now is not India, which has been their historical enemy; it is actually from within their borders.” While these views are unexceptionable, what raised the eyebrows in India was his assertion: “We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try and resolve the Kashmir crisis, so that they (Pakistan) can stay focused not on India, but on the situation with those militants.” President Obama subsequently expressed his displeasure with American outsourcing to India by stating: “Say no to Bangalore; say yes to Buffalo.”  Now, in the second year of his presidency, we are evidently seeing a turnaround in President Obama’s thinking. His administration is recognising that an assertive China is set to challenge US power worldwide and particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, where the US has alliance relationships with a number of countries like South Korea and Japan. Not only is China strengthening its navy to militarily assert its territorial claims on maritime boundaries with Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan and South Korea, but it is also challenging the presence of the American Pacific Fleet in the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea, off the Korean coast.  The Chinese have introduced new concepts in international relations by claiming that foreign ships cannot enter the waters in their neighbourhood even if they are outside Chinese territorial waters by describing these areas close to their shores as “waters of China’s interests,” or as being within “China’s sphere of influence”. Moreover, China’s export-led growth and manipulation of exchange rates are seen as producing destabilising global trade imbalances, and its approach to climate change is less than positive.  On India’s western borders, the US is now realising that despite all its solicitude towards and assistance for Pakistan, Gen Ashfaque Parvez Kayani has no intention of ending his support for Taliban groups like the Quetta Shura led by Mullah Omar and the Haqqani network, based in North Waziristan, which are inflicting heavy casualties on the American forces in Afghanistan. Moreover, these groups are now being reinforced by the Lashkar- e-Toiyaba.  In these circumstances, there are now calls in the US, led by influential Congressmen and Gen David Petraeus, to declare the Haqqani network as a terrorist organisation.  Thus, contrary to earlier perceptions, it is now clear that while the US may nominally thin down its forces in Afghanistan and even move its forces out of Southern Afghanistan, it will not permit a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. The US will retain adequate air power and ground forces across Afghanistan to inflict damage on the Taliban and Al-Qaida bases there and even in the tribal areas of Pakistan.  On July 1, the Pentagon’s Under Secretary for Defence Policy, Michele Flournoy, outlined the US approach in Asia.  She asserted that it no longer makes sense to discuss the increasingly interconnected Asian region in terms of “East Asian” security or “South Asian security”. She added: “It also means that the security of Asia’s two dominant powers (India and China) can no longer be viewed as a zero-sum game. A safer and more secure India that is close to the US should not be seen as a threat and vice-versa. Indeed, all three countries play an important role in that region’s stability”. Flournoy also remarked that the economies of both India and the US relied on effective maritime security to preserve free passage in the Indian Ocean and surrounding waterways.  India believes that its interests are not served when US-China relations are marked by collusion, as was apprehended in the first year of the Obama Administration, or by confrontation, which marked the early years of the Cold War. Moreover, the emerging American policies appear to reject Chinese efforts to undermine India’s “Look East” policy. China views Indian engagement with its Asia-Pacific neighbourhood with suspicion, asserting that India is merely a “South Asian power”.  While Michele Flournoy has indicated that the Obama Administration recognises that India has a “lot to offer” in space technology and that agreements are being finalised to permit “frontline American (defence) technologies to be shared” with India, substantial spadework remains to be done if the relationship is to grow significantly. American firms are still restricted in developing relations with the Indian Space Research Organisation and key Indian defence industries. Though India has already moved to acquire C-130 J transport aircraft and P-81 maritime reconnaissance aircraft and appears interested in meeting its shortages in field artillery by purchases from the US, for its Mountain Divisions, future high-value Indian defence acquisitions should have detailed provisions for technology transfers and imports from India by American suppliers — the provisions which American defence industrial units need to get familiar with.   The US State Department has rejected Pakistani accusations of “human rights violations” during recent protests in Kashmir. Referring to these events, the State Department Spokesman stated: “We regret the loss of lives in this incident. It is an internal matter (of India). We respect the efforts of the Government of India to resolve the current situation in Kashmir. In terms of the protest, we would urge everyone to refrain from violence and conduct protests in a peaceful manner.”  Moreover, during his visit to New Delhi on July 15 President Obama’s National Security Adviser Gen James Jones came down heavily on Pakistan-based terrorist groups, stating: “In our bilateral relationship with Pakistan, we have expressed strong concerns over the existence within the borders of Pakistan of terrorist organisations that have goals to destabilise our way of life, your way of life, to prevent (our) strategic goals from being achieved in Afghanistan.”  Preparations now appear to have commenced for President Obama’s visit to India this November. While the Obama Administration is now showing a better understanding of India’s security concerns, New Delhi would be well advised to prepare now to utilise his visit for addressing other concerns also like the existing sanctions on the Indian defence research and space organisations. A strategic partnership can have little meaning if such sanctions persist.  The writer is a former Ambassador of India to Pakistan.








Holbrooke in India
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 21 US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke arrived here today for discussions over the role of India and other regional powers in stabilising Afghanistan.  Shortly after his arrival, Holbrooke met National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon. His visit comes a day after an international conference in Kabul cleared the handing over of security of the violence-hit nation to domestic forces by 2014. He will meet Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao tomorrow. The visit assumes significance as it does against the backdrop of Pakistan's prominent role in reintegration plan of Afghan government.









Army orders 1 million pieces of grenade developed by DRDO’s Chandigarh lab
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, July 21 About a decade after being designed, the Army has approved bulk production of lightweight modular hand grenades developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for induction.  An order has been placed with the Ordnance Factory Board for supplying one million hand grenades to the Army. Known as Shivalik, these would replace the existing M-36 HE grenades, the original version of which dates back to the Second World War. Developed by DRDO’s Chandigarh-based Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory, the new grenade overcomes the safety hazards posed by the existing grenades. The M-36, according to the DRDO, has a severe reliability problem due to its flawed fusing system and uneven fragmenting pattern, making it unsafe even for the thrower.  Shivalik uses a modular plastic body and pre-formed cylindrical mild steel fragments for uniform distribution of fragments to overcome these deficiencies. Additional features have been incorporated into the fuse’s arming mechanism to ensure greater safety during storage, transportation and airdropping. Fragmentation distribution can also be controlled for use in offensive or defensive roles by attachment of a fragmentation sleeve. The use of plastic has also resulted in reduction of the grenade’s overall weight. Unlike earlier grenades, it can be para-dropped if urgent re-supplies are needed and can function in temperatures ranging from minus 20 to 55°C.  Besides the Shivalik, the Army has also approved bulk production of the add-on 40 mm under-barrel grenade launcher (UBGL) that is attached to rifles for increasing their firepower. The UBGL, which can be mounted on the INSAS as well as AK-47 rifles, was developed keeping in view the global trend in technology for small arms from the concept of point-target capability to area-target capability. Capable of night-firing, it fills the gap between the maximum range achieved by a hand grenade and the minimum range of a mortar while giving better accuracy than both.  Another unique weapon under development by the DRDO is the “chill grenade”, which uses extract of Bhut Jolokia, certified as the world’s hottest chilli and is native to the northeast. Part of a range of equipment being developed by the DRDO for counter-insurgency and internal security operations, the chilli-grenade is non-toxic and non-lethal and functions like tear-gas used by the security forces. Its pungent fumes can smoke out terrorists or hostile elements from hideouts.










Saluting General Mattis for his love of truth
Notwithstanding what President Obama did to General McChrystal, the new General in command of NATO forces in Afghanistan is equally outspoken. His humour keeps him going. He loves to tell the Truth. CJ: Chitranjan Sawant   Wed, Jul 21, 2010 10:58:36 IST Views:              17    Comments: 0 Rate:  1 out of 5 2 out of 5 3 out of 5 4 out of 5 5 out of 5 0.0 / 0 votes            Latest World News :  Firing of General McChrystal does not augur well for Afghan war GENERAL JAMES Mattis is no son of a gun. He is a bold man, who loves to call a spade a spade. Mundane matters and strategic studies engage his attention alike. He is battle hardened, but not media savy. The Press Corps has not yet gained access to his plans on the plains of Kabul. He does not intend to let them have a peep into it. General McChrystal had the bitter experience of dropping the pressmen and lensmen from privy parties as hot potatoes when his reported remarks enraged Obama in the White House.   HE HAS HUMOUR   General James Mattis has impressed the people who matter in the Pentagon. The Defence Secretary Gates has gone on record to say that Mattis is brilliant and is rated as a top strategist. No wonder General Mattis is being moved to kabul to take over from General David Petraues. The latter was posted post haste to replace general McChrystal after his comments on top men in the Obama Administration dubbing them as CLOWNS found prominence in the press. McChrystal was less than charitable to Obama, the top executive.   General Mattis cracks jokes quite often. He cannot survive under stress unless he knows how to laugh it off. His jokes are blunt. At times he has a dig at himself. When he moved into the combat zone as a general he remarked wryly to his aides that this was the first time he could eat well in a war zone. Further, this was the first time that his own officers were not telling him the whole truth about the battle situation.   Not long ago he made a matter of fact statement about his life in the face of the enemy. "It is good fun to shoot those guys in Iraq and Afghanistan". Of course, the general was reprimanded for this injudicious off the cuff remark.   One out, another in, they say. It means that general McChrystal ws shown the door for his out of turn outspokenness but the new top man, General James Mattis is equally outspoken. Some civilian officials say that the new military boss is rather rough in his remarks. A good military man should be like that - that is the general opinion of GIs. That explains why General Mattis is so popular among the rank and file. He has lived in trenches and loved that hard life from the bottom of his heart.   Kill the enemy and be prepared to get killed for Duty Honour and Country - that is the guiding principle of a soldier. He is trained to fight against the enemy and not to make PC or polite conversation.   And that's the way it is with General James Mattis.










US will break Taliban momentum: Obama
Press Trust of India / Washington July 21, 2010, 12:19 IST  Voicing US' resolve to break the Taliban's momentum, President Barack Obama said terrorists trained in Afghanistan and the tribal regions along the Pakistani border have killed innocent civilians in the US and the UK.  Obama also said that although the fight in Afghanistan was not easy, it was "a necessary one" and expressed confidence that they had the right strategy,  "We have the right strategy. We are going to break the Taliban's momentum. We are going to build Afghan capacity, so Afghans can take responsibility for their future. We are going to deepen regional cooperation, including with Pakistan," Obama said at a joint news conference yesterday with British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is is on his first White House visit after assuming office in May.  "This is not an easy fight, but it is a necessary one. Terrorists trained in Afghanistan and the tribal regions along the Pakistani border have killed innocent civilians in both of our countries.  Obama also warned that an even wider insurgency in Afghanistan would mean an even larger safe haven for al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates to plan their next attack. "And we are not going to let that happen."  The president also said he would begin to transfer some of the American troops from the war torn Afghanistan in July 2011.  "Over the coming years, Afghans will begin to take the lead in security and, in July of  next year, we will begin to transfer some of our forces out of Afghanistan," Obama said setting aside all speculation over the deadline of draw-down of US troops from Afghanistan beginning July 2011.  Noting that yesterday's historic Kabul conference is another major step forward in this regard, Obama said the Afghan government presented, and its international partners unanimously endorsed, concrete plans to implement Afghan President Hamid Karzai's commitments to improve security, economic growth governance and the delivery of basic services.  Afghanistan, in fact, was one of the major topics of discussion when Obama met Cameroon at the White House, the two leaders acknowledged at their news conference.   "We reaffirmed our commitment to the overall strategy. A key part of that is training the Afghan National Army and Police so they can provide security for their country and our troops can come home," Cameron said.   Obama further affirmed that the US "firmly supports" the Afghan government’s peace and reconciliation plan and also heaped praise on the recently signed Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Agreement which would "increase economic opportunity for people on both sides of the border."









Don't talk to Pakistan for the sake of talking
July 20, 2010 11:18 IST Tags: Inter Services Intelligence, Asfaq Kayani, David Coleman Headley, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, NDTV India Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  Given the repeated failures of such engagements, New Delhi [ Images ] should quickly accept the futility of talking for talk's sake with Pakistan, says Nitin Gokhale, defence editor with NDTV  India's home secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai is that rare civil servant who is unafraid to interact with the media on a day to day basis.  He bats straight, articulates the government's position succinctly and unambiguously.  He's easily the most popular civil servant among journalists -- both beat reporters as well as senior editors -- for being accessible and informative.  It was, therefore, not surprising to see him make the candid revelation to a group of journalists that American terrorist David Coleman Headley's [ Images ] interrogation by Indian sleuths fully confirmed what India always suspected: the Mumbai [ Images ] attack was the handiwork of the Inter Services Intelligence from inception to execution.  In a way, the home secretary was only reiterating what has been widely known in the Indian security and intelligence establishment and to those who report on these matters ever since Headley started singing to the Americans in November 2009.  Essentially, Headley confirmed what Indian investigators had surmised after interrogating the lone surviving Mumbai attacker Ajmal Amir Kasab [ Images ]. According to Kasab and now Headley, the ISI and the Pakistani army were involved in training the Mumbai attackers along with LeT handlers. Both revealed that:  # Two of the five training camps of the Mumbai attackers were located at Mangla reservoir near the Tarbala dam  # Access to these two dams are controlled by Pakistani army and navy  # The attackers were trained by Pakistani marine commandos  # At least three Pakistani army/ISI officers – Maj Haroon Shah, Maj Iqbal, Major Sameer Ali -- were directly in touch with the attackers  All this information and sketches of the Pakistani officers based on Headley's description formed part of the latest dossier given to Pakistan by Home Minister P Chidambaram [ Images ] during his visit there. The Pakistani interior ministry therefore knew what Pillai was talking about.  So those woolly-headed analysts who are citing the Indian home secretary's remark as THE reason for the failure of the latest India-Pakistan talks are clearly chasing a red herring or are deliberately obfuscating facts.  The truth is: The Pakistani army-ISI conglomerate was uncomfortable with whatever little progress the India-Pakistan civil interlocutors were making.  Any success achieved by the political establishment in making peace with India would make the army less important, a state of affairs that the Pakistani military is not used to.  So, Pakistan Army [ Images ] Chief Gen Asfaq Kayani and the ISI boss Gen Shuja Ahmed Pasha systematically proceeded to sabotage the talks by citing Pillai's remark about the ISI's involvement in the Mumbai attack  They could not have let the likes of Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi get away with permitting India reinforcing Headley's confessions implicating the ISI.  Kayani also had to reiterate the army's superiority over the civil government as the parleys were heading towards a "constructive" phase.  According to insiders at the dialogue, the atmosphere changed between 3.30 and 4.30 pm on July 14.  By then, Foreign Minister SM Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart had sorted out all differences to hammer out a mutually-acceptable agreement.  It was at this crucial juncture, around 4 pm, that the all-powerful Pakistani army chief intervened.  Kayani called on President Asif Ali Zardari [ Images ] and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [ Images ] in quick succession before Krishna could meet either of them.  In less than half an hour after that, Islamabad [ Images ] had changed track, insisting on a timeframe for resumption of peace talks, a commitment which Islamabad knew India could not make. The dialogue inevitably degenerated into a slanging match.  So why did Kayani sabotage the talks?  The obvious reason is of course to retain the army's influence in Pakistan's polity, but the bigger reason could be Kayani's plan to gain a firm foothold in Afghanistan as an increasingly nervous United States begins to look at winding down its involvement in Pakistan's western neighbour in a year's time. In this period, the Pakistani army is clearly looking at gaining an edge in once again installing a puppet regime in Kabul, thus gaining the much-vaunted "strategic depth".  Simultaneously, with Kashmir [ Images ] valley in turmoil, it suits the Pakistani army to keep the pot boiling by once again stepping up infiltration across the Line of Control [ Images ].  All available indications suggest that at least 500-600 well-trained militants of various tanzims are currently housed in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Latest intelligence inputs say at least 15-16 small groups of these militants are attempting to cross over through known and as well as little-used infiltration routes. They have been given lethal weapons and high-end GPS devices, besides well-informed, well-paid scouts to guide the groups into Kashmir.  The Indian army [ Images ], aware of these plans, has put up a re-tweaked, three-tiered counter-infiltration grid all along the LoC but as recent encounters have shown, the lethality possessed by the infiltrating groups is causing many more casualties than before. This year since January, the Army has already lost five officers and 45 other ranks while killing over 130 militants. By comparison, in 2009 over 260 militants were killed throughout the year while 78 security men died in that period.  Apart from pushing in more militants, the ISI has been active in fomenting trouble across the valley's smaller towns and Srinagar [ Images ] by financing separatists to encourage protests against the Omar Abdullah [ Images ] government.  Under the circumstances, Kayani and his fellow corps commanders could not have tolerated any prospects of progress in peace dialogue with India.  That GK Pillai made that brutally honest remark about the ISI's involvement in the Mumbai attack on the eve of Krishna's visit to Islamabad, was a sheer stroke of luck for Kayani and company.  To that extent, one can question the timing of Pillai's remark but not his intent because irrespective of the Indian home secretary's assertion, the GHQ would have sabotaged the talks by finding some other flimsy excuse.  Given the repeated failures of such engagements, New Delhi should quickly accept the futility of talking for talk's sake with Pakistan.  This is not to suggest that India should not engage with Pakistan, but in doing so it would be pragmatic to temper the expectations and not hope for any dramatic breakthroughs as resident peaceniks and media commentators on either side do every time the two delegations meet.








After 15 yrs, Indian Army chief to visit Vietnam
Express news service Posted online: Thu Jul 22 2010, 01:01 hrs New Delhi : Indicative of the increase in bilateral military ties with the nation, Army Chief General VK Singh will be visiting Vietnam next week to hold talks with the top military brass, besides the political leadership. Singh’s visit is the latest in a string of high level military delegations that have visited the country over the past three years.  The upswing in ties started after a landmark visit by Defence Minister AK Antony in 2007 that laid the ground work for defence cooperation between the countries. Since then, several top military leaders, including the Navy Chief have visited Vietnam. General Singh’s visit is the first by an Indian Army Chief in 15 years.  General Singh will visit the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh and will interact with various commanders of military regions.General Singh will call on General Phung Quang Thanh, Minister of National Defence of Vietnam and also hold talks with Chief of General Staff and Chief of Army, Vietnam.







Army plans to buy tank busting missiles from US 
The Indian Army intends to buy the US-designed Javelin anti-tank guided missile to equip its troops with the capability to defeat enemy armour systems. The defence ministry is expected to issue a letter of request (LOR) to the US government for a potential sale of the weapon system used by the US Marine Corps, the US Army and 11 other militaries.  India plans to buy Javelin under the foreign military sales (FMS) programme, a  government-to-government transaction between the US and friendly countries.  Indian soldiers operated the weapon last October during exercise Yudh Abhyas, the annual Indo-US military drill held at the Babina firing ranges near Jhansi.  “It engaged and destroyed targets every time it was fired during the exercise,” said an army officer. Javelin was fired nine times, including thrice by Indian soldiers. The fire-and-forget weapon system is a joint venture between US aerospace and defence giants Raytheon Company and Lockheed Martin.  Raytheon Asia President Admiral Walter F. Doran told HT at the Farnborough International Airshow that the LOR from India was awaited for a possible sale.  India has taken the FMS route to buy equipment worth billions of dollars from the US. Some recent contracts include the $2.1-billion (around Rs 9,450 crore) deal for eight P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft and another worth $1 billion (Rs 4,500 crore) for six C-130J Super Hercules military airlifters. India is also negotiating with the US to buy M777 ultra-light howitzers and C-17 military transport aircraft.  The US believes FMS transactions may be complicated in their conception and execution, but are more transparent to financial scrutiny.  Although designed to destroy tanks and armoured vehicles, Javelin provides day/night secondary capability against helicopters and fixed defences such as bunkers and buildings. The imaging infrared system allows the gunner to acquire targets even in darkness and limited visibility.  Javelin’s normally engages and destroys a tank in the `top-attack’ mode. It also has a direct-attack capability to engage targets with overhead cover or in bunkers. The fire-and-forget capability allows the gunner to acquire another target or move position as soon as the missile is launched. It has a range of 2.5 km.








India-Pakistan talks can never succeed, says former NSA Brajesh Mishra
2010-07-21 20:50:00  Stating that India-Pakistan talks could never succeed as long as the armed forces were the rulers in Pakistan, the former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra on Wednesday said that there was a grave danger to the national security because of "unmitigated hostility of Pak and China".  Speaking at the two-day ORF-Heritage Foundation Dialogue on "Countering Terrorism in South Asia", the former NSA Brajesh Mishra referred to the recent talks between the Indian-Pakistan Foreign Ministers and said: "This talk has also failed. And it would continue to fail, as in the past, as we have not yet grasped the reality that Pakistan army will never allow peaceful relations with India."  "Pakistan Army's hostility towards India is not because of Bangladesh (factor), Kashmir or Siachen. Their very existence depends upon hostility towards India. Unless we grasp that, we would never able to deal with Pakistan," said Mishra.  He remarked that despite the Naga insurgency problem, also supported from outside, after the Independence and three decades of sponsored terrorism from Pakistan, the Indian governments paid very little attention to national security and our military strength.  "India has never been able to get Pakistan Army to stop it (terrorism). We must seriously consider reasons for it", said Mishra while adding: "if it is one country, you have certain means to act against that country. But we have not done that."  "How long are we going to say that Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism and therefore we are going to work together, when terrorist activities are directed against you?," said Mishra.  "Pakistan, which has been dependent on the US and western countries for its survival, have cheated them. And if we think, we can have friendship and cooperation with Pakistan, as long as the armed forces are the rulers there, I think, we are living in a fool's paradise," Mishra said.  Pointing out that the Bush Administration had given more than 12 billion dollars assistance and the present administration is giving five to six billion dollars to Pakistan to fight war on terror, Mishra asked the Americans after all what had they got in return for its assistance in nine years.  He said the Agra Summit between Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pervez Musharraf failed because the Pakistani President wanted primacy to Kashmir talks and avoiding terrorism from across the border in the joint statement.  Cautioning that terrorism is going to increase in the coming years because of "unmitigated hostility of Pakistan and China towards India", Mishra requested the Indian policy makers to give equal importance to defence capability as to economic growth.  Mishra drew everyone's attention to the development that for the first time, China has now come out openly on Pakistan's position on Kashmir as showed by instances like issuance of visa on separate papers, various projects on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and the nuclear assistance to Pakistan. And, the situation in Afghanistan is also worsening.  "If Taliban succeeds in going back to Kabul, as happened in 96, we are going to have a tremendous problem of fundamentalism and extremism in South Asia, Central Asia and other parts of the world," Mishra warned and said: "In such a situation, terrorism is going to increase as the situation in Afghanistan returns to what was in mid 90s. Then, what is the answer?"  He said India having nine borders with people who are inciting and abetting terrorism, the government is going to have a tough task to secure its borders. "We can no longer ignore the grave danger to the national security and territorial integrity, including Kashmir," Mishra warned. (ANI)









Preparing disabled soldiers for second career option
2010-07-21 18:20:00  The Indian Army Wednesday tied-up with a private wheelchair manufacturer that will train disabled soldiers and employ them as its sales and maintenance representatives for a second career.  The memorandum of understanding, which an army spokesperson said would give 'further impetus to welfare and empowering measures of disabled soldiers', was signed by Director General (Manpower Planning and Personnel Services) Lt. Gen. V.K. Chaturvedi and chief executive of Callidai Motor Works Bhargav Sundaram.  Adjutant General Lt. Gen. Mukesh Sabharwal and senior army officers were present when the pact was signed in South Block that houses the defence ministry and the headquarters of the Indian Army and the Indian Navy.  According to the agreement, Callidai Motor Works will train disabled soldiers or their wards and families in facilities to be set up by the army at its regimental training centres.  'These facilities will be manned by experts from the firm. After successful training, the disabled personnel will be absorbed by Callidai as its sales-cum-maintenance representatives for their range of manual and automated wheelchairs,' the spokesperson said.  The agreement 'aims at progressively staffing each district of the country with a trained representative', he said.  The two sides, the spokesperson said, have partnered 'an attractive terms and remuneration package'.  The Chennai-based Callidai is one of the largest Indian manufacturers of powered and special wheelchairs meant to aid patients with diverse needs arising from ailments and medical conditions.  The army, in the last one year, has taken a slew of measures to empower and prepare soldiers for a second career.  Project Gyandeep, a tie up with the Indira Gandhi National Open University ( IGNOU) was signed in 2009 to meet the twin objectives of empowering soldiers educationally and providing an opportunity for a second career option.  The tie up seeks to confer educational certification to soldiers.  It was followed by Project Kshamta signed with Microsoft for training soldiers on computer and software applications.



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