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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

From Today's Papers - 25 Aug 2010

AT STAKE, the army’s Izzat
 Lt Gen Baljit Singh (Retd)  The origins of the Indian Army are often traced back to the 18th Century. Since then, its rank and file have always epitomised the composite ethos of Izzat, Waffadari and Imaandari, that is, self-respect, unconditional loyalty and moral integrity. Its well groomed appearance and above all, its valour on the battlefield had made the Army a cherished and ennobling profession. On its acclaimed merit, the Service was looked upon as an exclusive calling for men of honour  Today, with about 1.5 million personnel, it is the third largest standing, professional army in the world. But of late, its proud image has been so severely dented that even the "aam-admi" is beginning to question whether those who lead the army are men of straw? At the face of it, that may be a harsh judgement to single out the officer cadre alone for the crisis of character afflicting this magnificent profession. But not quite so. In any collective endeavour and especially in the profession of arms, the leaders bear the sole responsibility of all failings. And in the same time honoured tradition, it is only the crown of success that is celebrated as the collective triumph.  A few years ago, a Major General commanding an infantry division pleaded guilty of misappropriating CSD liquor and was cashiered with seven years rigorous imprisonment in a civilian jail. About a year later, another Major General was served a show-cause notice for acts of omission and commission while ironically he headed the army's judicial department. On October 26, 2009, the CBI filed a charge-sheet against yet another Major General and his spouse for possessing assets to the tune of Rs 3.37 crore, grossly disproportionate to their known incomes and family inheritances. And now this month a general court martial has cashiered a Lieutenant Colonel and sentenced him to three years for irregularities upward of Rs 10 crore.  It is a common human trait to stand up for one's entity, no matter what. But there are moments when truth stares at and stabs the viewer so hard that he cannot evade the moment of reckoning. Recently, I was dumbstruck when a young lady in the family group I was travelling with, asked politely but candidly "Now, is that not a misuse of the army, uncle?" When I turned to face where she was looking, I was shocked and dismayed. There was this army load-carrier that had ferried to the site, fresh and sparkling heaps of flowers, along with mounds of plastic chandeliers, mountains of furniture and gaudy tapestry.  A smart young lady stood issuing instructions to her staff to arrange the "marriage-palace". Three soldiers in army uniform stood close to the load carrier (a Jonga and a Gypsy were partially hidden behind) and jaded looks on their faces betrayed that they were on a regular mission. On inquiry whether they were preparing for a regimental function, they replied matter-of-factly: "Nahin. Hamaari madam ney yehaan contract lay rakkha hai."  Guards at the imposing courtyard readily informed us that an evening's rent for using the establishment (exclusive of meals) were Rs 4 lakh. It would not be far-fetched to assume that the organiser (Hamaari madam) would have a net earning of ten percent of the rental. If at an average there are four such engagements for the month that would be an impressive income -- close to the basic monthly salary of the Army Chief, post Sixth Pay Commission.  That Army spouse had every right to work and earn. But was there no one to guide her that for a mere one per cent of her earnings that were needed to hire a civilian truck, she was besmearing in dirt the Army's ethos of Izzat, Imaandari and Wafaadri? And jeopardising her family's future? And corrupting the three army men and countless others?  Not many can deny that the army's leaders are fully intent upon rooting out moral and material corruption. But punishment alone seems perhaps not an adequate deterrent any more. May be the army now needs to delve deep into the mind-set of its wrongdoers by commandeering the services of the best psychoanalytical experts. The defences of the guilty must simply be pulled down, even at the promise of remitting punishment, so that we can get to know their motives for corruption. The sooner we understand their compulsions, the better will we be able to rid the army of this all-devouring monster.  In the 1980s, Philip Mason, an officer from the erstwhile ICS, wrote an absorbing history of the Indian Army titled A Matter of Honour. The book begins with the statement: "Fidelity to an oath, loyalty to comrades and courage on the battlefield are the qualities without which an army is nothing....." And from there he launches into the genesis and growth of the Indian Army of today, having all the attributes required of a force that can never be vanquished by any foe!  It is time that the country also stood by and proved itself worthy of its splendid armed forces, that is, not to constantly erode their status vis-a-vis the other central services as was the unwritten convention till August 1947. The armed forces are a breed apart and if the India of post-1947 procrastinates on this issue further, the evil of moral degeneration may spread so deep and wide among the rank and file that the foundations of the structure built assiduously over the previous two hundred years may crumble in a heap. 

  Indiscipline in forces a reflection of society
Col (Dr) P.K. Vasudeva (Retd)  India today exists in a seriously embattled security environment, with external military threats and internal naxalite movements having acquired menacing and dangerously devious contours. India's armed forces have determinedly and innovatively strategised to meet the expanded military threats with efficient military leadership despite political constraints imposed on them.  Indian Army lays tremendous emphasis on the military leadership as the lives of thousands of men are involved. Leadership and the military are practically inseparable. Military leadership and leadership development are foundational concepts in the army at all levels. It permeates military culture, beginning with every recruit learning the leadership-oriented doctrine.  Effective military leadership requires skills that are virtually unknown in the civilian world. These skills are taught through extensive training in leadership theory and focused development of the time-tested style of military leadership.  Though the army has not fought a full-blown war in the last three decades, the force is bogged down with fighting domestic insurgencies, guarding restive borders, responding to authorities’ request to quell civil riots, tackling insurgency, and terrorism, rescue operations during natural calamities, accidents, fire fighting and so on, which have put tremendous stress and strain on the soldiers.  There has been a noticeable rise in suicides and fratricides in the army over the past five years. Such a trend, in the third largest and one of the best-disciplined armies in the world, is a cause of grave concern. Over 100 soldiers took their lives in last three years due to extreme pressures and poor service conditions leading to frustration or rebellion.  Disciplinary cases are also on the rise in the forces. The armed forces have held a staggering 6,000 courts martial since 2000. Statistics show the army alone court-martialled 1,215 soldiers in 2000; 1,034 in 2001; 1,031 in 2002; 945 in 2003; and 872 in 2004. In just the last two years, over 20 rape and 10 murder charges have been levelled against soldiers.  And it's not only the lower ranks that have been afflicted. It is true even for officers. Last year around 30 officers were convicted in court  martial proceedings. But, unlike other agencies, the armed forces deal "swiftly and effectively'' with  "aberrations and delinquents'' within their fold.  The latest court martial is that of Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash and two other general officers for their alleged involvement in West Bengal's Sukna land transfer issue. A former head of the Army's supply branch, Lt Gen S.K. Sahni, is being tried by a court martial for alleged irregularities in the procurement of rations for troops.  What the services need is high quality of leadership, which can motivate men in challenging situations. The reason for the present state of poor leadership, among others, is that a career in the armed forces has been reduced to the last priority among the youth, the cream of which opt for more lucrative and better rewarding options in terms of social status and financial gains. Degradation in the Warrant of Precedence has also brought down the image of the defence services to the lowest ebb.  The soldiers' pay and allowances are less than that of a skilled labourer in the industry. Though the military is responsible for safeguarding national sovereignty and integrity, it is the lowest paid service and in a state of neglect. Soldiers retire at an average age of 35, when they are in the prime of their life and burdened with domestic responsibilities. The officers retire at an average age of 54 when they have another about 15 productive years of employability left.  Further, there is no coordination between the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defence that could result in lateral induction of military personnel into the para-military where they serve up to the age of 60 years.  Be it central and state ministers, the judiciary, bureaucracy, vice-chancellors, MPs, MLAs, the police, media barons and now office-bearers of the organising committee of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) - the cancer of corruption has metastasised into every nook and corner of the country including the armed forces. Indiscipline in the forces is not entirely the fault of the military leadership, is the reflection on the state of affairs of the nation and the society at large.

India rules out revival of Northern Alliance in Afghanistan
Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 24 As Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul flew into New Delhi this morning, India has ruled out making any effort to revive the defunct Northern Alliance as a move to counter the Taliban in the war-ravaged nation.  Sources debunked reports in the media that New Delhi was quietly sounding out Russia and Iran, which have also expressed reservations over the process of integration of the Taliban into the mainstream of the Afghan society, that the remnants of the Northern Alliance, mostly comprising the Tajiks and Uzbeks, should be reactivated so that the Taliban could be kept at bay from any power-sharing arrangement in the embattled nation.  Sources said India favoured a solution to the crisis in Afghanistan through a process that was “Afghan-led, Afghan-driven and Afghan-owned”. New Delhi supported a process that was transparent and inclusive. Of course, there were certain red lines that had been flagged to the international community, like the Taliban cadre willing to join the mainstream must abjure violence, cut links with the Al-Qaida, abide by the Afghan Constitution and participate in Afghan life.  “India remains committed to assisting the people and the government of Afghanistan…we are for a peaceful, pluralistic, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan,” they added.  The visiting minister met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this evening and briefed him on the evolving situation in his country. He will hold delegation-level talks with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna tomorrow.  With Kabul openly accusing Pakistan’s military establishment of harbouring the Taliban and the Al-Qaida, the two countries will discuss ways to combat the common threat. Krishna is likely to convey to the Afghan side that any process to reintegrate the Taliban should factor in India’s concerns in view of disturbing reports that Pakistan-supported militant outfits like the Haqqani network to target Indian assets in the war-torn country.  Sources dismissed suggestion that India had become irrelevant in the Afghan quagmire and Pakistan had suddenly emerged as a nation being wooed by the entire West for finding a solution to the crisis there.  New Delhi acknowledges the importance of Pakistan in arriving at a solution to the Afghan crisis since it happens to be a contiguous neighbour of Afghanistan. “At the same time, we maintain that Afghan insurgent groups must not be provided safe havens and sanctuaries beyond the country’s border,” sources added.

India, Brazil, SA to hold joint naval drill
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 24 The navies of India, Brazil and South Africa are set to embark on their biannual naval exercise “IBSAMAR”. A spokesperson of the Navy said the exercises were meant to promote greater interoperability and foster synergy among the Indian Navy and other participating navies.  Having initially involved only basic operations, the current interaction would feature advanced aspects of the naval warfare, including anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine operations. The Indian Navy has been conducting formalised exercises annually with several foreign navies over the past several years, such as the “VARUNA” series with the French Navy, the “INDRA” series with the Russian Navy and the “KONKAN” series with the Royal Navy (UK).  The professional skills and experiences exchanged during these interactions enhance cooperation and lead to better understanding of finer nuances of naval operations as well as disaster management and combating maritime threats of terrorism and piracy. With the success of such interactions, the scale of complexity of these exercises is growing by the year.  Four Indian warships, INS-Mysore, Tabar, Ganga and Aditya, are deployed on a goodwill visit to several maritime nations of Africa and South Indian Ocean. These will move on for the exercise with Brazil and South Africa.

 Govt misleading courts: Armed Forces Tribunal
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, August 24 In two separate scathing indictments, the Chandigarh and Kochi benches of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) have taken the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to task for misleading various courts with outdated rules and for not placing actual facts before the judicial fora. This had led to verdicts based on inapplicable provisions of law.  The Kochi Bench, in its judgement made available here has held that in rulings rendered by the Supreme Court rejecting the grant of disability pension, the Centre did not bring to the court’s notice the changes made in rules in 1982. The changes had shifted the onus of proving disability pension entitlement from the claimant to the government.  The bench, while disposing off the case of Nair MP vs UOI, observed that instead, rules of 1949 were placed before the court. “It was “very unfortunate that a person who had dedicated his life for the country was not getting his due on account of the fact that applicable rules were not brought to the notice of the court or the AFT,” the apext court ruled.

 Afghanistan, Pakistan, India triangle: An unresolved riddle
Afghanistan is land locked country since 1893, when under duress was forced to give away a part of its territory to British India. Division was primarily to act as buffer zone between Russian and British interest in the region. CJ: Sanik   Tue, Aug 24, 2010 16:31:52 IST Views: 29    Comments: 0 Rate:  1 out of 5 2 out of 5 3 out of 5 4 out of 5 5 out of 5 5.0 / 3 votes   WE ARE repeatedly told that Pakistan wants to control Afghanistan to ensure strategic depth for its army from Indian attack. This appears to be a well thought out deception as war between two nuclear armed nations will not aim to occupy territory but to destroy economic growth centres and military potential of adversaries. Pakistan’s actual intention appears to spread its area of influence over Islamic countries, as it is the only Muslim country having nuclear arsenal which is named Islamic Bomb. Afghanistan, because of its geopolitical location being gateway to Central Asia, is first target in this direction.   Afghanistan is a land locked country since 1893, when under duress it was forced to give away a part of its territory to British India. Division was primarily to act as buffer zone between Russian and British interest in the region. Division was not rectified by Afghanistan government, which has declared all previous agreements void.   Pakistan swears by this agreement but refuses to abide by its terms and conditions which states that “Government of India (now Pakistan) will at no time exercise influence in the territories lying beyond the line on Afghanistan side. It is interesting to note that even Pakistan installed puppet government in Afghanistan refused to recognise Durand Line.   Afghanistan and Balochistan are still called Afghanistan provinces in Pakistan suggesting these two provinces are part of Afghanistan only temporarily attached to Pakistan. Border dispute along with issues of Pasthunistan and Balochistan, Afghanistan's relation with India, and role of Inter-Services Intelligence in Afghanistan are major bone of contention between these two countries.  Restoration of Muslim Empire in South Asia was the cherished dream of Islamic leaders even before Pakistan’s birth. At the time of partition Muslim leaders were vehemently demanding British to hand over power to them as it was snatched from Muslims kings. Relations between India and Pakistan suffered major set back immediately after partition when Pakistan backed tribes attacked Kashmir. Disputes between these two countries are three dimensional, territorial issue covering Kashmir, Siachin glacier and Kori Creek, water sharing of rivers passing through Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan sponsored jihad, terrorist, insurgency activities in India.  Pakistan army and its intelligence outfit ISI which funds, trains, provides logistics support and organises their deployment to achieve its Islamic aim, by war through other means are the main culprits. In Pakistan democratically elected civilian government has no control over army whose chief is actual power centre. Country’s foreign policy is adjusted and directed to achieve army strategic goals whereas it should be other was round. Pakistan army and its outfit ISI has to be weaned away from interfering in disputes between nations before any meaningful progress can be made, it should be left to democratically elected civilian government.  The solution to this complicated scenario lies in formation of union of all countries in South Asia including Afghanistan on the line of European Union. Nation-stat concept between Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka be done away with. Yet each one of these countries will be politically independent. Currency, foreign affairs and defense will be common for all.   As far as territorial disputes are concerned Kashmir, NWFP and Balochistan be placed under United Nation for short duration after which referendum be held in these areas to ascertain people’s opinion, which should be implemented for final solution of lingering problem.

India's new military plans to tackle China 
Nitin Gokhale, Updated: August 24, 2010 19:06 IST Ads by Google  Luxury Home Doors Windows – European Quality. Made for India. India's #1 Window & Door Company  PLAYClick to Expand & Play New Delhi:  The Pentagon has recently reported that China has moved lethal medium-range Ballistic Missiles closer to the Indian border.  The potential Chinese military threat has been anticipated by India, which has now deployed a couple of strategic missile units in the East.  These units under the Strategic Forces Command that control India's nuclear arsenal have been moved under the Eastern Command recently.  The Indian Air Force, which first deployed its best fighter jets, the Sukhois, in Tezpur in Assam last year, has increased the number of planes in the area. The Air Force has also stepped up the pace of work on seven advance landing-grounds in Arunachal Pradesh which will soon be capable of handling bigger, fixed-wing transport planes  The Army presence in Ladakh, in the Western sector, is being increased.  An infantry brigade has been moved back here after a long gap.  India is also concentrating on quickly building 75 tactically and strategically important roads . They will eventually cost over Rs. 5,000 crore.

Indian Army chief on visit to Australia Indian army  Australia  defence 
 Posted On: Aug 24, 2010 print this news A file photo of Indian Army Chief V K Singh. NEW DELHI (PTI): Army Chief General V K Singh is on a four-day visit to Australia seeking to boost defence cooperation between the two countries.  The Army Chief, who left on Monday, will hold talks with Australian Defence Secretary Ian Watt and its Chief of Defence Forces Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.  The Indian Army Chief's visit to Canberra comes a month after Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had visited for a security dialogue there.  He will also hold talks with his Australian counterpart Lt Gen Ken Gillespie.  Singh will also visit various training institutions, service headquarters and operational units.  India and Australia share common interests in spheres of maritime security, counter terrorism, disarmament, non-proliferation, peacekeeping and disaster management and are members of Commonwealth and various other international forum.

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