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Friday, 17 September 2010

From Today's Papers - 17 Sep 2010

  Fresh move on Kashmir An opportunity that can help end the crisis 
The decision arrived at Wednesday’s all-party meeting on Kashmir, held in New Delhi, on sending a delegation to the valley to study the situation there is a welcome move. Since the delegation will comprise representatives from different political parties, including the BJP and the PDP of Mehbooba Mufti which participated in the deliberations to find a solution to the latest crisis, it will be easier to implement the recommendations made for the purpose. There is no reason why a feasible solution taking in view people’s aspirations and legitimate demands cannot be found within the Constitution of India. In any case, the unrest in Kashmir can no longer be allowed to persist.  The suggestions of the all-party delegation can serve as the basis for a fresh dialogue on how to establish peace in the valley. Issues like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the grant of autonomy can be discussed threatbare once talks are under way. However, a meaningful dialogue cannot be possible unless the cycle of violence comes to an end. As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pointed out during the all-party meeting, “discussions can take place only if we have calm and public order”. The state government has been assured of all kinds of help from the Centre for creating a congenial atmosphere for a dialogue on Kashmir.  The toning down of their stand by the BJP and the PDP on the AFSPA, withdrawal of troops, etc, provide an opportunity that must not be allowed to go waste. Only when tempers are cooled down can our efforts lead to any positive outcome. Anyone from the separatists’ camp willing to join in the dialogue process should also be welcomed. Those who refuse to cooperate should be dealt with separately. There is need to take steps immediately to address the increasing alienation in the valley. A process of “healing touch” can be initiated by declaring that all cases of human rights violations will be looked into quickly and the guilty will not be spared. This may send a positive signal to the people in general and help blunt the weapon of the separatists, who have been thriving because of lack of efforts to heal the wounded psyche of the people.

A first: Sword of Honour for OTA woman cadet
 Chennai, September 16 For the first time in the history of the Officers Training Academy, one of the country’s premier defence training institutes, a woman cadet would be decorated with its highest award, the ‘Sword of Honour’.  A. Divya (21) would receive the honour, given to the best all-round cadet, from Chief of Army Staff Gen VK Singh on September 18 during this year’s Passing Out Parade at the OTA here. She also bagged three gold medals in academics and would be among the 70 woman cadets and 157 gentleman cadets to be commissioned into the Army.  Since 1992, when OTA started training women after the Army opening its portals for their entry as Commissioned Officers, this was the first time a woman cadet has bagged the Sword of Honour. — PTI

  10 pc DA hike for Central staff To be paid with effect from July 1 this year
Girja Shankar Kaura Tribune News Service  New Delhi , September 16 In a pre-festive season bonanza, the Union Cabinet on Thursday cleared the proposal for a 10 per cent hike in the Dearness Allowance (DA) for the Central government employees and pensioners.  With the hike in the dearness allowance - effective from July 1 2010 - DA would be 45 per cent of the basic pay and would benefit about 88 lakh employees and pensioners.  The increase is in accordance with the formula devised by the Sixth Pay Commission to compensate for price rise.  The Union Cabinet at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also approved the introduction of the Multi-State Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2010 in the Parliament, besides approving amendments to the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Act 1952 by introducing the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2010 in the Parliament.  The decision to provide higher DA to employees will cost the exchequer an additional Rs 9,303.2 crore per annum, an official spokesperson said after a meeting of the Union Cabinet, where it was decided to raise the allowance.  The new DA will be paid to Central government employees and pensioners with effect from July 1, 2010, and the burden during the current fiscal has been estimated at Rs 6,202.1 crore.  The last time the increase was affected in March 2010, when the DA was increased by 8 per cent over and above the existing 27 per cent.  The existing rate of DA, which is paid as percentage of basic pay to compensate employees for the rising cost of living, is 35 per cent.  Inflation stood at 8.5 per cent in August, while food inflation is hovering above 15 per cent, according to the new WPI indices.  The increase in DA comes ahead of the Dussehra and Diwali festivals in October and November, respectively.  In the other decisions the Union Cabinet approved the introduction of the Multi-State Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2010 in the Parliament which are intended to enhance the public faith in the cooperatives and to ensure better accountability of the management towards its members and the law of the land.  It is proposed to define active member to ensure the member’s active participation in the affairs of the society. Time bound decision by the society for admitting members is proposed to prevent inordinate delay by the society in admitting members.  A clause is proposed to be inserted for ensuring that the members make their payment due to the society to be eligible for exercising their rights as a member. It is proposed to allow the MSCS to refund full or part of the share capital subscribed by the Government to reduce/eliminate Government control of these cooperatives.  It also approved amendments to the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Act 1952 by introducing the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2010 in the Parliament.  After the Bill is passed and enacted by the Parliament, Forward Markets Commission (FMC) as a regulator will get autonomy and power to regulate the market effectively.  New Products like ‘options’ will be allowed in the commodity market. This will benefit various stakeholders including the farmers to take benefit of ‘price discovery’ and ‘price risk management’.

Sherdils to revive old rivalry
Prabhjot Singh Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, September 16 On Sunday when Sherdils, a team of Sikh Polo players that drives its name from the Regiment of Bodyguards of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, takes on the British Army in Princess Camilla Charity match in London, it will revive the traditional Polo rivalry between the Sikhs and the British Royalty that otherwise has been dormant for over 70 years now.  A four-member Sherdil team comprising Lieut-Col Navjit Singh Sandhu of 61st Cavalry, Angad Singh (grandson of Amarinder Singh), Jai Inder Singh (grandson of Maj-Gen RS Sparrow and the son of Lieut-Gen TS Shergill) and Dr Pawandeep Singh (Tony) (son of Tarlochan Singh, a former MP) left for London yesterday.  Pawandeep, a doctor by profession and the captain of the team, told The Tribune that Sherdils are carrying the Saragarhi Cup carrying an emblem of the Sherdil Regiment of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. At present, 16 Grenadiers of Pakistan Army are known as Sherdils.  Talking about the event, Pawandeep says that on arrival Sherdils will have a practice game on Saturday at Tidmouth Army Polo Club.  “The occasion for the revival of the rivalry is a charity match dedicated to the infamous Saragarhi battle. Winners will keep Saragarhi Cup that they will have to defend every two years. Proceeds from the event would go to the Princess Camilla Charity for Punjab farmers,” says Pawandeep Singh.  The Battle of Saragarhi, one of history’s most famous last stands, was fought during the Tirah Campaign on September 12, 1897, between twenty-one Sikhs of the 4th Battalion (then 36 Sikhs) of the Sikh Regiment of British India, defending an army post, and 10,000 Afghan and Orakzai tribesmen. The battle was fought in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, now in Pakistan, which then formed part of British India.  The contingent of the twenty-one Sikhs from the 36 Sikhs that was led by Havildar Ishar Singh chose to fight to the death. Sikh military personnel and Sikh civilians commemorate the battle every year on 12th September as Saragarhi Day.  Prince Charles and Princess Camilla would watch the September 18 game between the Sherdils and the British Army. Also, among the guest of honours for the match will be HS (Satnam) Chadha, the main sponsor of the Sherdils.  Prince Charles, one of its foremost activists in British Royalty polo, had announced on November 17, 2005, that he had played his last chukka. He retired from polo at the age of 57. Many thought his retirement was a loss to the polo circuit that prides itself on its royal connections as well as to the charities for which Charles has raised several millions over the years. On his last visit to Punjab, he had announced a charity for the small and marginal farmers of Punjab. Incidentally, Prince Charles did, after all, meet a young Camilla Shand, then aged 23, during a polo match in 1970.  “The last time Sikhs (with turbans) played the British Royalty was about 70 years ago when Patiala Tigers comprising Jaswant Singh and General Chanda Singh took on the British Royalty,” reveals Pawandeep Singh.  He said that the credit for raising a memorial event for the brave Sikhs of Saragarhi goes to Harbinder Singh Rana of the Sikh Heritage Trail that hopes to set up a Sikh Museum at Elvedon Hall, the last palace of Maharaja Duleep Singh.  Incidentally, Elvedon Hall will be the venue of sit in dinner for 300 odd special invitees on September 19. At present, the palace is with the Royalty. Maharaja Duleep Singh Trust is hosting the dinner.

Army ready to quell Kashmir protests
 Anuj Chopra, Foreign Correspondent      * Last Updated: September 17. 2010 12:29AM UAE / September 16. 2010 8:29PM GMT  Kashmiri protesters pick their way across a road scattered with rubble in Srinagar after further demonstrations against New Delhi’s rule. Altaf Qadri / AP  SRINAGAR, INDIA // The Indian army yesterday urged demonstrators in Kashmir to keep away from military garrisons after a separatist leader called for protests next week at military camps.  The warning came as the army announced a “joint strategy” with the police and paramilitary forces to stifle a summer of violent anti-India protests that have led to dozens of deaths.  The details of the strategy were not made public for “operational reasons”, except that security personnel would “exercise maximum restraint”, but the move signifies the army’s increasing and unprecedented involvement in quelling public protests.  “The army makes a sincere appeal to people…to avoid confronting army camps and vehicles,” Lt Col JS Brar, a defence spokesman, said at a news conference in Srinagar yesterday. “The [separatists] are misleading ordinary masses and trying to create a wedge between army and the people for vested interests.”  In July, when this latest wave of secessionist violence first flared up, 17 army columns, consisting of 1,700 personnel, was deployed in the Kashmir valley for the first time in the last two decades to enforce a curfew.  The army was deployed then only as a deterrent, but this time it might actively be involved in security arrangements.  The new strategy was devised at a meeting Wednesday night chaired by the chief security adviser of the state, Lt Gen N C Marwah, to counter an appeal from the separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s for Kashmiris to protest in front of military camps on Tuesday.  Maintaining internal security in India is usually the domain of the police and paramilitary forces. The army is reserved exclusively for counter-insurgency operations and securing India’s borders. But as the violence in the Himalayan state shows no signs of abating, it seems the army’s role has expanded to include tackling civil unrest.  Lt Col Brar said next week’s planned protest was a “deliberate attempt” by separatists to distract the army from its “primary roles”. Just before his press conference began, Mr Geelani was placed under house arrest for the third time this month.  In a telephone interview, Mr Geelani, who leads the hardline All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a conglomeration of Kashmiri separatist political groups, said the march to the army camps is meant to be a gesture to “evoke the conscience” of military personnel.  “We want to tell them that ‘you are just doing your duty, but yours is an illegal occupation,’” he said.  During the march, Mr Geelani, who enjoys popular appeal in the valley, has urged Kashmiris to shout “Go India Go back, We Want Freedom.” The planned protest is part of his “Quit Kashmir Movement” launched in late June against the presence of 700,000 security personnel in Kashmir.  Since its launch, he has intermittently announced “protest calendars” – which lay out a schedule for street protests, shut downs and sit-ins against “Indian occupation”.  Mr Geelani insisted that he had issued a “strict directive” to his supporters to ensure that the protest march remains peaceful “at any cost”.  He said he had appealed to them to the protesters not go “too close” to the camps. Only one elder from each village is entrusted to walk up to military camps and hand over a “letter of protest” to the camp commander.  But in these volatile times, not even Mr Geelani can guarantee that the march will remain peaceful. During his Eid sermon on Saturday, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a moderate separatist leader urged a crowd to march up Lal Chowk, the main square of Srinagar, for a “peaceful sit-in” to protest the killings of civilians in recent months.  The marching crowd soon turned into an angry mob that went on a rampage. It burned down a police outpost at the city’s white-marble Hazratbal Shrine and other government buildings.  With public sentiment inflamed against the military presence, “it will be very difficult for the army – or even Mr Geelani – to stop crowds,” said a 37-year-old resident of Srinagar, who “morally supports” the protests.  “When my three year old son sees an army soldier, his immediate reflex is to pick up a stone.”  In the current wave of violence, the writ of the state is not being challenged by a separatist cartel or a militant insurgents, he said, but by the hot-blooded youth of Kashmir.  “The movement is changing,” he said. “In the beginning, the masses followed leaders. Now the leaders are following the masses.”  The resident, who requested anonymity fearing reprisals from security personnel, said that in the last two days the electricity supply in his neighbourhood – located in the old town, the main location for the clashes - had been cut off. Yesterday, water supplies also appeared to have been switched off.  This, he alleged, was a part of government strategy to coerce protesters into submission.  “It is meant to wear out people, to break their resolve to protest,” he said. “But it won’t stop Kashmiris.”  A tenuous calm settled yesterday over the streets of Kashmir, sealed off by razor-sharp rolls of barbed wire, as normal life seemed paralysed with the curfew entering its fourth day. There were reports of killings from some parts of the valley that have raised the death toll to 94.  People were locked indoors, even as public appeals grew to relax the curfew temporarily for people to buy food provisions and seek medical treatment. Security personnel went around neighbourhoods, instructing people through scratchy loudspeakers not to come out of their homes.

‘Hyderabad liberation’ day sparks row
Sep 17 2010  Sept 16: ‘Hyderabad Liberation’ Day, a low-key celebration all these years, has suddenly kicked up a major political row with the pro-Telangana faction wanting to celebrate it in a big way, ably supported by the BJP. Their demand is that the annual celebration on September 17 to mark the surrender of Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur to the Indian Army in 1948 and the accession of Hyderabad State to the Indian Union should be officially celebrated. Though the state of Hyderabad was officially merged into the Indian Uninon January 26, 1950.  The day is also celebrated as the Telangana Liberation Day after a powerful Indian Army ran over a weak Nizam, who refused to join the Indian Union and wanted to stay independent. Like the Telangana issue, it has divided separatists and some integrationists, with the former demanding official celebrations and the latter opposing it.  Confusion also persists among historians, authors, politicians, and others about how to describe the Indian takeover of the princely state of Hyderabad. It has been described variously as surrender, annexation, liberation and even betrayal. However, historical documents with the Ministry of Defence codenamed it ‘Operation Polo’ (renamed Operation Caterpillar) and described it as “surrender and accession”. It was officially called a ‘police action’though it was in fact a purely Indian military operation.  In fact, September 17 is a misnomer. Though the war diary of the Third Battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles states it was in the vanguard of the strike force, a Group of 1 Armoured Division of the expeditionary column of the Indian Army had reached Patancheru (now Medak district). If at all anybody has to celebrate September 17, it should be the Indian Army regiments that participated in Operation Caterpillar. For all intents and purposes, Hyderabad became the 562nd princely State to accede to India on January 26, 1950, says Capt. Lingala Pandu Ranga Reddy, a retired army captain of the 11 Gorkha Rifles who made a study of the Hyderabad Liberation.  Politicians from Telangana belonging to the Congress, Telugu Desam, and the Left parties, besides the BJP, TRS, Praja Rajyam, Lok Satta and other T-activists, want to make an official event out of September 17, but the MIM president, Mr Asaduddin Owaisi, some Seema-Andhra leaders like Mr J. C. Diwakar Reddy and Mr Lagdapati Rajagopal stoutly oppose it saying it has never been done in the past and will “open past wounds”.  The Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, made it clear to a BJP delegation that he would not set a new precedent by celebrating Liberation Day officially.  Telangana Congress MLCs Mr S. Indrasain Reddy, Mr D. Rajeshwara Rao, Mr K. R. Amos, Mr T. Bhanuprasada Rao, Mr M. S. Prabhakar, and Mr N. Rajalingam cautioned the government against going against the wishes of the people and wanted an official celebration.  “It’s a public demand,” Mr Amos claimed. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi president, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who is spearheading the separate Telangana movement, demand official celebrations like neigbouring states have. The Former minister, Mr J. C. Diwakar Reddy demands to know how a state can celebrate two independence days. TRS chief Mr Rao says Mr Diwakar Reddy should go to Bellary to see the celebrations. “We too should have a state function. TRS will celebrate the day with gusto.”  Arch rivals BJP and MIM both warn that celebrating/not celebrating will hurt the sentiments of ‘the people’. “It has to be celebrated officially like Maharashtra and Karnataka. People of this generation should know Indian and Hyderabad history. I don’t know why some people are creating a fuss. Compared to other princely states, Hyderabad was a different dominion and has a chequered history,” Mr Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, former Union minister of state for home told this correspondent.  Mr Rao adds, “I also feel it should get a mention in text books. Students should know Hyderabad history. The MIM’s objection is uncalled for. During the Razakar movement and its aftermath, Hindus as well as Muslims were victims. Suppressing history will do no good.”  The MIM president, Mr Asaduddin Owaisi is unconvinced and says, “It’s a Sangh Parivaar agenda. I am an Indian. For me freedom means August 15 and January 26. Apart from these two days, other dates are irrelevant. It will be a hate campaign against the Muslim rulers, fuel more anger and poison against Muslims.” He points out that there was no such demand in the past and any attempt to do it now will have repercussions. The Muslims of Telangana have not forgotten the brutal massacre and rape of thousands of Muslims during the liberation period. “We congratulate the Chief Minister for not celebrating September 17 as ‘Liberation Day’officially,” said Dr Hasnuddin Ahmed, former chairman of the AP State Minorities Commission.  Mr Inamul Haqq, former chief engineer, Panchayat Raj, Major SGM Quadri (Retd), president of Help Hyderabad, Mr Kamaluddin Ali Khan, secretary, All India Soofi Association, and Mr Muzaffar Ali Khan, member of the Social Initiative for Legal Remedies, have petitioned the Chief Minister not to hold official celebrations.  Lok Satta argues that the day should be an occasion to introspect to what extent the present day leaders have realised the dreams of those who had fought in the liberation movement.

U''sity to work with Army to promote defence related
activities PTI | 02:09 PM,Sep 16,2010  Puducherry, Sept 16 (PTI): Chief of Army Staff General V K Singh today expressed happiness over Pondicherry University evincing interest to work with the Army in promoting some defence related issues. "A lot of universities do a lot of other programmes. But this is the first time we have found that a University is coming foward to do something which is defence related and which is topical," he told reporters after paying a courtesy call on Lt Governor Dr Iqbal Singh. Stating that defence related activities is a strategic field, he said the subject chosen by the University concerns the security situation in South Asia. "When we involve academica in such activities, it makes it better for other universities to take up some subjects like this`, he said. Asked if the University had plans to start any specific course, he said it would be a welcome step if they did so."The Army will then make defence officers available to guide them in their initiatives. This will work like a think tank for the country," he said. General Singh said the Army has started a dialogue with the University, which is holding a seminar tomorrow on an important and topical defence oriented subject. (The Army chief will speak tomorrow at the University on `India`s role in South Asia: Strategies Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st century`). He said the Lt Governor had assured him during the meeting that he would extend full support to whatever help was needed for ex-servicemen. The Lt Governor later handed a memento to General Singh.PTI COR APR

Lone civil engineer to get into Army wing is from city
Express News Service Posted online: Wed Sep 15 2010, 02:27 hrs Pune : City based engineer- Hrishikesh Arun Barde has been selected for the 35th Short Service Commission (Technical) of the Indian Army.  A passout of civil engineering Department, Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Barde, 22, is the only candidate across the country to have made it to the Civil Engineering Section of the Indian Army.  A topper in the stream, Barde is the only candidate from across the nation to have cleared the interviews in the stream.  “I had decided to join the Armed Forces when I was in standard seven. Though I missed the opportunity to join the National Defence Academy, life gave me another chance and I grabbed it” said Barde. There were a total of 49 vacancies for engineering graduates across the nation out of which seven were for Civil engineering. Out of a total 2000 applicants, Barde is the only candidate to have successfully cleared the interview.  “Many say that I had a lucrative career in the commercial sector where civil engineering is a booming field because of the growth of the real estate sector. However, earning high income has never been my goal. Instead, I chose to join the Armed Forces and decided to serve the country,” added he.  “His example is a true motivator for others who aspire to serve in the Indian Armed forces,” said Lt col (retd) Pradeep Brahmankar of Apex Careers who trained Barde for the defence career.  A native of Walaki in Ahmdenagar district, Barde's hobbies include trekking, photography and reading.  A participant of Purushottam karandak for the year 2008, he bagged a special consolation prize at the Firodiya Karandak in the year 2009. He will now proceed to Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai for a 49 week training that will commence on October 8, after a successful completion of which he will be commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Indian Army.

Improving Quality Of Rations Supplied To India Army Personnel
Thursday, 16 September 2010 23:11 Written by IDSA          Print AddThis Social Bookmark Button  By Narinder Gupta  Recent media reports on the quality of rations being supplied to the Indian Army are quite revealing and disturbing, given that the quality of rations has been found to be inferior and substandard particularly in insurgency prone and high altitude areas. It is difficult to imagine what army personnel feel when they receive rations that are not fit for human consumption. The recent CAG report about the quality of rations supplied to army soldiers is a pointer to the pathetic state of affairs in the procurement, inspection and distribution of both fresh and dry rations by the Army Service Corps and Army Purchase Organization, which are under the control of Army Headquarters. Introspection is certainly called for in view of the widespread ramifications on the fighting forces particularly which may arise because of sub-standard ration provisioning.  The service corps incurs an annual expenditure of about Rs. 1,440 crore. The procurement procedures are well established through periodic amendment, depending upon the requirements of time. The procuring agencies are well known and form part of various formations to ensure timely procurement of quality rations, inspection and distribution. Therefore it is quite baffling to find such sub-substandard rations being given to troops. The CAG report has indicated that items like atta, rice, dal and edible oil supplied were 28 months past their expiry date. A similar situation prevails in the case of vegetables, fruit, meat and milk. Therefore the satisfaction levels of troops about quantity, quality and taste of rations is bound to be low.  The cause for such deterioration needs to be looked into. As far as procurement procedures are concerned, perhaps there is a requirement to review the existing system of procurement of dry rations to ensure quality, speed and cost. A decentralized system for some of the items can always be considered if it would result in better quality. As far as fresh rations are concerned, the procedures are already well defined. However, the procuring agencies need to guard against several pitfalls. Some of these pitfalls, which have been broadly brought out in the CAG report, are lack of competition, 36 per cent of purchases being undertaken from a single vendor, 82 per cent of procurement in case of fresh rations being based on less than three quotes, existence of cartels, etc.  Media reports have not ruled out the existence of rampant corruption in matters of procurement. There are instances where courts of enquiry have been held against even senior ASC officers. But this is really not the solution. At the least they can only act as a deterrent. The main issues are the improvement of the quality of ration items supplied, the removal of irregularities in quantity supplied and consumed, the acceptance only of quality rations with prescribed specifications, rigorous inspection procedures at the time of acceptance of items offered by the contractor to ensure quality and the right quantity.  As far as the ASC’s role in procurement is concerned, it is imperative that it resorts to competitive ways to demolish cartels and the monopoly of contractors who have not only monopolized the business but adopted exploitative practices to keep genuine competitors away. If these practices are controlled in some of the major areas, it will be a breakthrough. However, to do this, a strong will and effort on the part of the procuring organization is needed.  As already stated, better quality control and checks at the level of the contract operating officer and improvement in the process of distribution of ration items can also help to a large extent in the improvement of the supply chain up to the ultimate consumer in various nooks and corners of the country. The possibility of outsourcing ration distribution can also be considered as an option on an experimental basis.  Another important aspect in ration procurement happens to be the cost of various items. The CAG in their report have touched upon cost differentials in many items with the same specifications. The report has mentioned the payment of exorbitant rates for various items of hospital supply at Delhi like lime, apples, oranges, etc. as against the contracted rates for normal supply of the same items with the same specifications at Delhi. Thus the report reveals considerable variations in the rates of fruits and vegetables for different units within a city. This is again a serious financial anomaly, which reflects on the procurement agency. This situation only indicates that either substandard items were supplied to units other than hospitals or the rates quoted were unrealistic or the contractor quoted these rates just to bag the contract for a big station like Delhi. To minimize such contingencies, on-line data sharing within various procuring CFAs can be considered. The purpose is to procure the various items at the most economical rates without compromising on quality.  The government is stated to have made suitable provisions to supply special rations to jawans deployed in high altitude and insurgency prone areas. However this may not be the end of the problem unless concrete steps are initiated to improve the quality of already authorized and scaled ration items. A decentralized dry ration procurement system can be considered in order to tap better suppliers in a phased manner.  As far as fresh rations are concerned, the need of the hour is to generate and infuse competition to break the monopolies and cartels in the entire process of procurement. The existing ASC procedures of procurement can also be reviewed, particularly the prevailing system of registration of contractors where the credibility of the contractor for supply of quality items in the past can be considered as an overriding factor. Media reports have pointed out the violation of norms in many cases. It is reported that several transport and tour companies were registered as vendors for supply of items like eggs, meat, vegetables, etc. Similarly a poultry farm was registered for the provision of transportation. Though all these issues are extremely crucial to deal with, however among all these issues the most crucial is inspection of the ration offered by a contractor under the contract and acceptance of the same by the contract operating officer with due care and with reference to quantity as well as quality. If these aspects are dealt with effectively, the possibility of at least some improvement in the quality of food supplied to the troops would come about.

Don’t fall prey to separatist design, army appeals to Kashmiris 
Srinagar, Sep 16 – The army Thursday appealed to people in the Kashmir Valley not to ‘fall prey to the designs’ of the separatists, who plan to bring the people into confrontation with the army.  Lt. Col. J.S. Brar, spokesman of the army’s 15th Corps, told media persons here that the Hurriyat leaders were planning to bring the people into direct confrontation with the army.  ‘The Indian Army is a people’s army and the people should not fall prey to the designs of the Hurriyat leaders who are planning to bring the people into confrontation with the army,’ Brar said here.  The spokesman was reacting to the programme announced by the hardline Hurriyat group headed by Syed Ali Geelani as part of the group’s Quit Kashmir campaign.  Geelani has asked people across the Valley to stage sit-ins and dharnas outside the army camps Sep 20 to press for the complete demilitarization demand of the separatists.

“Entire Indian mechanised fleet to be capable of fighting at night and reacting at short notice"
Col. A K Sharma, Former Armour Battalion Commander and Dean of the Indian Army’s Faculty of Technical Studies (and Editor of the South Asia Defence & Strategic Review), examines the Indian Armoured Vehicles marketplace and its future directions.    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PRLog (Press Release) – Sep 16, 2010 – The growing capability requirements of the Indian mechanised force have leant themselves towards a healthy marketplace for the Indian Armoured Vehicles community ( With hardware, in the past, procured traditionally from Russia and the Eastern Bloc and training methods from the UK, the market has proven itself to be anything but a closed shop. In a recent interview with Defence IQ Colonel A K Sharma, Former Armour Battalion Commander and Dean of the Indian Army’s Faculty of Technical Studies (and current Editor of the South Asia Defence & Strategic Review), expanded on this theme to give an overview of the current Indian marketplace and its future directions.  With “technical and tactical training from the UK set to make its mark in the training of Indian mechanised forces,” as Col. Sharma explained, and further computer-based training on the way, the crux of the capability enhancement focus now lies, in Col. Sharma’s opinion, on where future hardware plans for the mechanised force will direct Indian Army spending. The capability enhancement focus centres upon four key areas:  - Increased Mobility and the viability of engine upgrades as quick-win solution  - Increased Survivability  - Night-fighting Capability  - Battlefield Management Systems  While Sharma is confident that “soon enough the entire mechanised fleet is going to be capable of fighting at night”, he is also honest in admitting that a fully capable battlefield management system – effective in both logistics and processing terrain data – has long been talked about without being delivered. The tide has turned though India’s mechanised force now seems to be making genuine forward steps towards being “capable of reacting at short notice.”  Despite the overall confidence in capability enhancement, Sharma did offer a few words of warning on the challenges that lay ahead – most notably, the timelines and technology issues which often plague the procurement process for many military forces looking to develop equipment and capability. According to Sharma, in the past, India has struggled to overcome an inability to produce satisfactory prototypes to the extent that once built, those prototypes have since already become outdated and the process, far too costly. Coupled with this, is the traditional lack of the core technologies which are central to the build of all major hardware ranging from tanks to aircraft. This lack of core technology and the resultant slow build of suitable prototypes have further delayed an already costly procurement process. Sharma’s outlook though for the Indian Army is bright and that is in no small part down to the Indian Government’s recent initiative on the System of Offsets so as Sharma explains, the Indian Army “gets what we really need” and “gets what we really don’t’ have at the moment.”  In all of this, Sharma is adamant that “transparency” and “fairness” are key to avoid the stereotypically lengthy and complicated procurement process that the Indian Forces have come to expect. The outlook though has become considerably brighter.  To listen to Col Sharma’s podcast interview in full, visit the complimentary Armoured Vehicles India Download Centre at Col Sharma will also be leading “The Indian Armed Forces Modernization Debate” with Dr. Thomas Mathew (Deputy Director General, Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses IDSA), Brigadier (Ret’d) Gurmeet Kanwal (Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, CLAWS) and Lieutenant General A.K.S.Chandele (Director, Corps of Electrical & Mechanical Engineering, Indian Army) at the Armoured Vehicles India forum on 22nd – 24th November 2010. At the same event, Col Sharma will also be briefing the Indian Armoured vehicles community on his “Analysis of the Indian Army’s Past, Current and Future Armoured Vehicle Procurement Programmes.” The full agenda can be viewed at

Kashmir Calling
By Mashaal Javed • Sep 16th, 2010 • Category: Politics • One Response  The roaring sounds of the Indian Army’s armoured vehicles and thumping military boots of the Indian soldiers equipped with a complete battle outfit are no more dreadful sights for Kashmiris. The surging death toll in the fresh spate of violence sequel to the re-deployment of the Indian Army in the Kashmir valley is a grim warning of a fresh storm that is gathering yet again over the restive valley. The current volatile situation in Kashmir is a replication of the violent events of late 80s and early 90s that saw the casualties rise to more than 500000 people most of whom have been the civilians.  The events that have led to the current violence this time are also no different from the earlier ones that also bore the hall marks of brutal repression at the hands of Indian security forces. The death of a 17 year old Tufail Mattoo who was brutally killed by a gas canister that fatally struck his head during a protest in Srinagar in June against the Machhil fake encounter of April 30 this year, has triggered this fresh violence. Tufail embraced shahadat at the hands of Indian security forces in the Machhil encounter. Though the army arrested the soldiers responsible for the fake encounter the only reason they had the nerve to commit such a heinous crime was because they also know that they would get away with like their many predecessors involved in such events. The confidence of the rogue soldiers in getting away with the crime is rooted in the notorious Pathribal fake encounter of 2000. The Army officers involved in the kidnapping and murder of 5 kashmiri civilians then are freely moving around despite having been charge sheeted by the CBI. The Indian Army did not arrest them and even refused to hand them over to the CBI. The Army filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India against the charge sheet to ensure that their accused officers do not face a trial.  The Chief Minister of the disputed state of Indian held Kashmir has publicly acknowledged that the recent spate of violent events that have jolted the security of the Kashmir Valley have not been instigated by any political leader. He termed the events as natural and ‘leaderless’ and not the product of any manipulation by some hidden individual or group. In other words he just painted the reality that due to the nature of this up-rising, it cannot be controlled even if their leaders are arrested. There is another dilemma since there is no leader of this fresh violence whom the authorities should invite to a dialogue to arrest the spiraling down of the security situation in IHK.  It is not the IHK Chief Minister but the Indian Army Chief also that are convinced of the genuineness of the current leaderless on-going protests and violence by going on record as having said that no so called infiltration is taking place from across the line of control.  Ever since the violence commenced in the IHK, the Indian authorities have started attributing their inability to control the fresh genuine up-rising of the Kashmiris to their easy and favourite outlet i.e. to implicate the banned LeJ and LeT and even the ISI as fomenting the events. Their diversion tactics have somehow always proved to be very successful. Through exploitation of state crafting techniques outlined in one of their religious books Chanakya, they successfully extracted remarks on Pakistan terrorism export from British Prime Minister David Cameron who unluckily happened to be there in India on official visit looking for Indian financial investment. He only managed around 1.2 billion Pounds but earned the wrath of better informed public on diplomacy at home and of-course the Pakistanis. Former British foreign secretary David Miliband termed the diplomatic faux pas as due to the incumbent Prime Minister’s loud mouth and in-experience. No wonder, he had also termed his own country as a junior partner of America in latter’s endeavours around the globe. The irresponsible remarks on terrorism about Pakistan while being in India also highlighted David Cameron’s shallow knowledge over of sub-continental affairs and history of human rights violations in Kashmir that are even acknowledged today by the international forums including the united nations. But he naively forgot to mention anything on Kashmir.  India may not be utterly interested immediately to redress the current wave of violence in Kashmir and probably would probably take it till President Obama’s visit to India in November. This way, India may utilize Obama’s visit to hoodwink the realities on ground in Kashmir and on the way draw huge benefits with respect to volatile Kashmir through manipulative statements against Pakistan besides winning his sympathies and support for India on the same.  Wait a minute! Would India show another David Cameron in Obama? The analysis may be termed as bizarre at this point of time but may not be totally out of context.  India continues to will fully ignore the root causes of the Kashmir problem. The frequent rate of violence and rising death tolls resulting from persistent Kashmiri struggle only goes to shake world’s conscience on human right abuses in the Kashmir Valley. It is an established fact t hat the Kashmir dispute cannot be solved bilaterally between India and Pakistan given the history of mistrust and accumulating issues. Only India successfully gains the precious time through the process of bilateralism to water down the Kashmir dispute till demography changes and the world forgets about it. The clocks do not turn back.

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