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Thursday, 26 August 2010

From Today's Papers - 26 Aug 2010

Multi-role combat aircraft not fit for BrahMos
Shubhadeep Choudhury Tribune News Service  Models of Agni and Prithvi missiles on display at the DRDO stall in Bangalore on Wednesday. — PTI  Bangalore, August 25 The high-profile “medium multi-role combat aircraft” (MMRCA), 126 of which are being purchased by the IAF at a mind-boggling price tag of Rs 42,000 crore, has been ruled out for integration with the supersonic BrahMos missile.  BrahMos Aerospace, the Indo-Russian joint venture, has successfully developed the low-altitude supersonic BrahMos cruise missile that is quicker than any other missile in the world. Having a speed of 2.8 mach, BrahMos, with a range of 290 km, is four times faster than American Tomahawk cruise missile, widely used by the USA during its offensive against Iraq.  BrahMos Aerospace is now working to develop a hypersonic missile having a speed of over 6 mach. Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the Space Expo here today, A Sivathanu Pillai, CEO and MD of BrahMos Aerospace, said the new hypersonic missile would be ready in another five years. The warhead of the hypersonic missile would be relatively smaller, he said and added that because of its speed, the hypersonic missile would hit the target with a devastating impact nevertheless.  Pillai said following the induction of the supersonic BrahMos in the Army and the Navy, they were now working to develop a supersonic missile for the IAF. He said the missile would be integrated with the Russian Sukhoi 30 aircraft. Pillai said $50 million, split between the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and its Russian partner on a 50.5 and 49.5 per cent basis, had been allocated for developing the air force version of the missile to be used for air-to-ground attacks  Modifications in the Sukhoi aircraft for integrating the missile would be carried out by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at its facility at Nashik, Pillai said. Blueprint for the changes would be drawn up by the Sukhoi design bureau in Russia, Pillai said. The flight-test of the air force variant of the missile would take place in 2012, he added.  On the issue of integrating the missile with the MMRCA, which the IAF was in the process of acquiring, Pillai said medium aircraft were not being considered for firing the missile. “Sukhoi, being a big aircraft, is ideal for BrahMos,” he said.

Colonel held guilty of molesting woman officer
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, August 25 A General Court Martial today held a Colonel guilty of molesting a woman officer under his command while he was heading Electronics and Mechanical Engineers' Battalion based at Pathankot. The quantum of sentence is scheduled to be pronounced tomorrow.  The accused, Col A Mishra, had faced four charges under Sections 69 (read with Section 354 of the IPC) and 63 of the Army Act and was found guilty of three charges. In May 2007, he had allegedly called the woman officer to his residence on the pretext of instruction and misbehaved with her.  Other charges levelled against him include passing inappropriate comments and making late-night phone calls. Sources said the woman officer had recorded some of the phone conversations containing incriminating comments, sources added.  The trial, presided by Brig Arvind Datta, Commander of a mountain brigade, had commenced on July 21 at Udhampur.  The Colonel had denied the charges against him and maintained that the CD containing the alleged comments was doctored. Contending that the charges were vague, he maintained that the woman officer had levelled the allegations 14 months after the incident was purported to have taken place and had done so with ulterior motives.  Based upon the woman officer’s complaint, the Army had ordered a Court of Inquiry, presided by Brig SK Sarkar, then Deputy GOC of 39 Mountain Division, in November 2008. The Colonel was held blameworthy and thereafter Headquarters (Northern Command) had ordered disciplinary action against him.  Prior to the commencement of the court martial, Colonel Mishra had challenged his trial in the Armed Forces Tribunal, but the tribunal had declined to interfere in Army’s proceedings at that stage.

One-rank, one-pension not so soon: Antony
 Vibha Sharma/TNS  New Delhi, August 25 It is not a heartening news for ex-servicemen but the government today said their long-pending demand for one-rank-one-pension (OROP) may not fulfilled soon. In fact a written reply on the issue in the Upper House clearly stated that no such proposal was under consideration and that a government-appointed committee did not recommend the OROP.  Replying to a zero hour mention by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, which was supported by members across party lines, including Defence Minister AK Antony, said implementation of the OROP was an ongoing process. “In one stretch we will not be able to implement it but we are near the goal….It is a long process,” Antony said, as he went on to counsel protesting ex-servicemen not to take the extreme step of returning their medals.  But Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju in a written reply categorically said that no such proposal was under consideration.

Army to beef up security during Commonwealth Games
The government has decided to rope in the army to ensure foolproof security for the ensuing Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi from October 3. Around 1000 personnel of special units from the army are likely to be deployed during the games. CJ: Adolf Desjardins   Wed, Aug 25, 2010 17:25:32 IST Views:              10    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     The government has decided to rope in the army to ensure foolproof security for the ensuing Commonwealth Games  to be held in Delhi from October 3. Around 1000 personnel of special units from the army are likely to be deployed during the games.   Sources informed that the army personnel are scheduled to be deployed at the venue by September 15. This move will come into effect a little more than a fortnight before the games commence. The Commonwealth Games 2010 are scheduled to begin from October 3.   The deployed personnel will help in providing technical assistance related to intra-force communication, maintenance of jammers, decrypting suspecting signals besides providing other logistical support. Apart from the army, a team from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) will also be deployed.   The Union Ministry had earlier had sought help from defence minister A K Antony to ensure that the army does not charge the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee for extra facilities provided by the personnel during the games.   On the security front, the army personnel would liaison and help as an extra hand in maintaining security of different vital installations that also includes top hotels and games village where officials from the participating countries will be staying along with the players.   Nearly 175 companies(17,500 personnel) from the Central Paramilitary forces, 3,000 commandos, 100 anti-sabotage teams, 200 dogs and 15 bomb disposal squads will be put in security for the Games.   Some of the venues where the games will be taking place includes 12 main stadia, four non-competition venues such as hotels, six training venues and two other grounds.

What is Nuclear Liability Bill?
Reuters / New Delhi August 25, 2010, 19:44 IST  Here are some questions and answers on the nuclear commerce liability bill.  WHAT IS THE BILL?  A civil nuclear agreement between India and United States in 2008 ended New Delhi's isolation in global atomic commerce and opened up its state-controlled nuclear power market to foreign firms.  But the deal could not be implemented until India put in place a compensation regime that limited the liability of private companies, especially those from the United States, in the event of an industrial accident.  So India framed the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010, which stipulates the compensation burden on the state-run reactor operator, the liability of the federal government and the responsibility of private suppliers and contractors.  WHY IS THE BILL IMPORTANT?  The bill is important for private companies whose liabilities are not underwritten by their governments, as is done by the governments of Russia and France.  Compensation claims from one nuclear accident could be enough to bankrupt a private company. Firms are reluctant to enter the Indian market despite its size until there is some clarity on compensation in case of an accident.  WHY IS THE BILL CONTROVERSIAL?  Critics say the original draft law pegged the compensation liability of the operator too low -- at about $110 million, almost 23 times less than that of an operator in the United States.  It also did not hold private suppliers liable, opening a debate on whether the government was allowing them to get off easily in case of an accident.  But the main opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party agreed to back the bill after the government trebled the compensation liability of the operator and extended the liability to cover private suppliers.  HOW MUCH COMPENSATION IS BEING OFFERED?  Following opposition to the bill's original draft, the government referred it to a special parliamentary panel.  The panel recommended the liability cap for the operator be trebled to $320 million, a suggestion largely backed by the opposition.  State compensation, or the liability burden on the government, has been pegged at the equivalent of 300 million IMF special drawing rights ($450 million) which will be over and above the operator compensation.  The panel has also suggesting extending the liability to cover private suppliers and contractors.  WHICH FIRMS WILL BENEFIT AND AT WHAT COST?  The main beneficiaries could be firms such as US-based General Electric and Westinghouse Electric, a subsidiary of Japan's Toshiba Corp.  They already lag Russian and French firms, which have moved ahead on building reactors in India. While higher compensation would mean firms would have to shell out more for insurance premiums, a formal compensation regime will bring in much-needed policy clarity which will help speed up projects.  Once the bill becomes law, the US firms can start work on building reactors at least two sites identified for them. The first fruits of the India-United States deal could fetch GE and Westinghouse up to $10 billion.  The Confederation of Indian Industry, a business lobby, said the bill would keep away domestic and foreign suppliers because of the stiff provisions against private firms.  "Globally, there is no insurance coverage available for suppliers in the nuclear business," CII wrote in a letter to the government, which was released to the press on Wednesday.  "This will stall the growth of the nuclear manufacturing industry in India and be a setback for the government's plan to indigenise maximum supplies for the foreign technology plants."  ANY OTHER HURDLES REMAIN?  Yes, problems over acquisition of land for nuclear power plants could delay projects. In India, farmland acquisition has highlighted a broader standoff between industry and farmers in a country where two-thirds of the population lives on agriculture.  There have already been several farmers' protests against upcoming nuclear reactors and opposition support for such demonstrations will complicate the land acquisition process.

Will India’s Military Revolt?
August 25, 2010By Madhav Nalapat Dispirited by a government that seems soft on the intifada in Kashmir, Madhav Nalapat says trouble is brewing in the military.  Image credit:Uniphoto Press  During the 63 years that India has been a free country, only once has an army chief ever veered close to planning a coup along the lines of the Pakistan model. That was Joyanto Nath Choudhuri, who was better at writing than at war, having conceded a stalemate to a vastly inferior Pakistan force in 1965.  Before him and since, the military has remained loyal to its civilian masters, even during the many periods when they’ve indulged in favouritism or in procurement scams. But there are signs now that a revolt may be brewing within the uniformed services over what they see as the United Progressive Front government's unwillingness to back them in their often bloody battle against Maoists, insurgents and jihadists across the country.  The resentment is greatest in Kashmir, a consequence of Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi's ‘Look the other way’ policy towards the well-organized intifada now taking place in that state. The movement is designed to attract international intervention in the state—preferably of a military nature—similar to that which occurred in Kosovo. This might seem like an outlandish idea, but the separatist leaders in Kashmir (who preach their venom openly while living in opulence) have been made to believe by their handlers in Pakistan that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defence Secretary Robert Gates and CIA chief Leon Panetta are in favour of robust US mediation in Kashmir. Such intervention, they believe, would ultimately ensure that the state would, in effect, become independent from India.  They claim that Pakistan's army chief of staff, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has made it clear to the US trio that his military's support for NATO operations in the Af-Pak Pashtun belt is conditional on such an outcome in Kashmir.  Certainly, US and other Western diplomats have ensured there’s a steady diet of reports on the intifada in Western media, almost none of which point out that the movement is confined to just a section of the Sunni population in the Kashmir Valley and is opposed by the majority of the population in the region comprising Shias, Gujjars, Bakkerwals, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. Indeed, the Western media reports also ignore the reality that what the Valley Sunni separatists seek is a religious state where the Saudi version of Sharia law would form the basis of jurisprudence.  Whatever the compulsions of Clinton, Gates and Panetta, the fact remains that the Sonia-led UPA has followed the Western press and diplomatic corps in ignoring the ‘silent majority’ in Kashmir, refusing to factor in the views of the non-Valley Sunni elements in the state.  What has infuriated the military is the parroting of the Valley Sunni line by Home Minister P Chidambaram (ever-focussed on winning brownie points with the United States) and the silence of Defense Minister A K Antony over the frequent criticisms of the military and the uniformed services generally—this at a time when more than 700 members of these services have been hospitalized for serious injuries sustained during the intifada. There’s also anger that thus far, no VIP has bothered even to enquire properly about these men, much less visit them in hospital.  The present chief minister of Kashmir, the youthful Omar Abdullah, was chosen for his proximity to the heir of the Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi. But in this first test of a Rahul brigade member in the field of fire, Abdullah has failed miserably, apparently seeking to curry favour with the instigators of the intifada even while doing nothing to stop the widespread corruption that has made Kashmir (together with the Northeast) the most administratively crooked part of India.  Sadly, each eruption of violence is followed by an increase in the volume of Delhi's largesse to the state, almost all of which gets used in the Valley and seems to end up in the pockets of the very Valley Sunnis who fan the flames. Kashmir for them has become a cornucopia, sustained by constant agitations that lead to fresh transfusions of cash, a part of which get used to initiate more trouble.  Those on the field say that it’s only a matter of time before a revolt takes place within the uniformed services—not just in Kashmir, but in other parts of India, where the present government is adopting a policy of hunting with the hounds and running with the hares.  But given the multiple arrests and other disciplinary action against uniformed personnel (which they contrast with the kid-glove treatment meted out to the intifada leadership), the time may be approaching when the hounds refuse to hunt. Instead, they may decide to step back to let Kashmir's political leadership and its Delhi backers face the consequences of a policy of winks and nods to pro-Pakistan elements seeking to prise Kashmir loose from India through international intervention.

Shifting of army centre to hit Gaya economy hard
 Abdul Qadir, TNN, Aug 26, 2010, 03.27am IST GAYA: Now that the defence ministry has finally decided to shift Army Service Corp (ASC) centre from Gaya to Bangalore, the local economy is to be hit hard by the decision. The final decision to shift the ASC centre from Gaya and relocate it at Banglore was announced by Chief of Army Staff Gen V K Singh, a few days back in Bangalore.  As a consolation, the Army officers have announced the establishment of a training college for 750 Short Service Commission officers at Gaya. Taking the announcement regarding the establishment of the training college with skepticism, Vijay Kumar Mithu, convener of the Sangharsh Samiti constituted to oppose the shifting of the ASC centre out of Gaya, said that the proposed training college, even if it is finally established, would be no substitute for the ASC centre.  ASC centre is the logistics wing of the Indian Army responsible for all kinds of supply to the Army ranging from arms and ammunitions to food and clothing. The Gaya centre was also known for animal training - to train mules for the Army's animal transport system, to provide support to Army personnel deputed at less accessible places having a difficult terrain.  Expressing disappointment at the decision to shift the ASC centre, Mithu threatened to revive the agitation against the relocation.  But before that, he will seek an appointment with the Union defence minister, A K Antony, to request him to withdraw the decision to relocate the Gaya Army centre.  According to sources, the decision is irrevocable. Sources also say that some units have already been silently withdrawn from Gaya.  The shifting process would be expedited after the Bihar assembly elections, as full-fledged shifting at this stage is likely to cause damage to Congress prospects in the state.  Earlier in its representation to the Union defence minister, the Sangharsh Samiti gave 13 different reasons why the shifting plan should not be executed. The reasons included the Centre's proximity to Gaya International Airport, Maoist activities in the region and the continuation of the good work done by Army personnel who have done massive plantation, resulting in the Gaya summer becoming less torrid facilitating maintenance of the water reservoirs of the area.  The shifting plan is also being opposed for economic reasons. As per the contents of the representation sent to the defence minister, about Rs 120 crore are paid as salary to the nearly 15,000 Army personnel and civilians working at the Gaya Army centre.  Rs 84 crore finds its way to the Gaya market. With very little business scope, the Gaya market can not afford to lose that much of money.  Instead of shifting the ASC(N) centre, the Gaya Army centre should further be strengthened by adding two units having special training in disaster management to cope with situations like the Kosi floods, said the representation.

'Army brass inability in '62 war revealed'
Himanshi Dhawan, TNN, Aug 26, 2010, 01.45am IST NEW DELHI: Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah on Wednesday said the Henderson-Brooks report -- the operation review of the 1962 Sino-India war -- revealed the incompetence of the Indian military top brass.  Habibullah, who read the report before rejecting journalist Kuldip Nayar's request to disclose the contents under the Right to Information Act, said, "The report reveals the incompetence of the military top brass. But that was not why we rejected the plea for its disclosure. The Commission felt that the the report hinged on the question, which are still items of negotiation between India and China."  While the government has been persistent in keeping the document under wraps through the years, there have been reports published-- notably by Neville Maxwell in 2001 -- that have divulged details of how things went wrong in 1962.  The Commission had denied disclosure of the Henderson Brooks report in 2009 on the ground that it could endanger national security.  "We have examined the report specifically in terms of its bearing on present national security. There is no doubt that the issue of the India- China border particularly along the North-east parts of India is still a live issue with ongoing negotiations between the two countries on this matter," CIC had reasoned last year.  "The disclosure of information of which the Henderson Brooks report carries considerable detail on what precipitated the war of 1962 between India and China will seriously compromise both security and the relationship between India and China, thus having a bearing on both internal and external security," it had added.  The Henderson Brooks report was prepared by Lt General Henderson Brooks and Brig Prem Bhagat as part of an internal review conducted on the Army's operation strategy in the North-east. The report was prepared on the orders of the then Chief of Army Staff General J N Chaudhuri.  Applicant Kuldip Nayar had requested for the report to be made public, arguing that the document was 43 years old, and should have been formally available in the National Archives of India.  On being denied the information, Nayar had also pointed out that the papers related to Vietnam had been disclosed by the USA and the administration could not use the plea that the information was classified and sensitive.  According to the defence ministry, the report was not even submitted to the government let alone placed in public domain. The report also included information on deployments that has a "direct bearing on the question of the demarcation of the Line of Control between India and China, a live issue under examination between the two countries at present".

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