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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

From Today's Papers - 17 Jan 2011

ARMY NEEDS A CHANGED PERSPECTIVE  Another Army Day was flagged on Saturday. The Army Day has always been a day of reflection on the achievements and shortcomings of the past year and the plans for the ensuing year. However, this year it is not just the start of one more year for the army but the commencement of a new decade. The army therefore must look at two decades, the previous and the one ahead.  The army always has achievements to cite every year. These are well known and are always a source of inspiration and satisfaction. But it is also important to mull over the areas of weaknesses so that these are removed and the army remains both a potent and relevant force.  The major areas of concern are both internal and external. The first category includes a comprehensive transformation plan; a makeover in manpower policies; greater interaction and empathy with veterans who need to be valued as adding to the strength of the army; and finally the need to get away from the status quo and defensive mentality, which hinders progress.  The external areas are modernisation, joint endeavours, reductions in internal security commitments, an assertive stand in core areas where no dilution should be acceptable, and halting and then reversing the trend of diluting the status of the army.  Transformation needs to be speeded up, as without it the army would continue to wallow in old and inefficient structures that are out of sync with the present and future battlefield environment and the rapidly changing methodologies of waging war. The army has not seen any major structural changes since the mid-80s and essentially it is still structured to fight wars of earlier eras. We need to change or upgrade our doctrines and concepts, restructure the field force, efficiently manage internal conflicts, upgrade human resources, streamline logistics, and modernise the training methodology. Our aim must be to transform the army into a lean, technology intensive, networked and joint entity.  Manpower policies are not merely promotion policies, but include recruitment and in-service management, especially grooming for higher ranks. For officers, recruitment and training policies are fairly comprehensive. However, we continue to be a generalist army, with no specialisation. There is no sectoral or geographical specialisation, no continuity in specific appointments like those in information technology that require long tenures, and little language proficiency.  Command appointments for officers are a must, resulting in shorter and shorter command tenures to accommodate everyone. The compulsion on commanders to "show" themselves in these truncated tenures, results in their riding roughshod on their commands! As regards promotion of officers, the seniority of passing out of training academies remains throughout one's service. This has resulted in many bright officers losing out. The need is for a reassessment of each officer's caliber at least at 10 years intervals and re-fixing seniority in accordance with the officers' changed abilities and performance.  In the case of jawans, there is a mismatch between imbibing technology and educational qualifications. In non-technical arms, which also handle the latest weapons and equipment, intake qualification continues to be class-X. In a transformation study carried out over 10 years ago, I had suggested upgrading the criteria to class-XII by 2002 and to graduation by 2005, but we continue to remain in a time warp! Secondly, though JCO'S are an essential link in the organisational structure, they all are promoted from the ranks. They are of higher ages, are comparatively less fit and have the same educational qualifications as the troops. Despite discussing the issue a number of times for recruiting at least a percentage directly as graduates, we have always baulked at doing so.  Today's active soldier is tomorrow's veteran. However, there seems to be a firewall between the two categories, with different norms of treatment, emoluments, medical arrangements and other related issues. This has resulted in the veterans getting disillusioned and the bureaucrats widening the gulf even more. It is the veterans who are role models for our youth as they interact with them more than the serving personnel; they ensure that the best and motivated manpower joins the army. This has not only eroded but a very large number of veterans now speak ill of the army. The army needs to re-focus on this important issue and do away with the artificial division that is increasingly disillusioning the veterans. The veterans must again start feeling that the army chief is their chief too! Although a Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare is in existence for the last six years, it has done virtually nothing for the veterans. How can it, when it is exclusively manned by the bureaucracy?  Coming to the last two areas of internal concern, status quo is no doubt a safe option, but no organisation can prosper if it loses its ability to change as the environment demands. As regards the defensive syndrome, no country has won by being on the defensive, which even in military teachings is a temporary phase.  The external areas of concern are much better known and need not be amplified. Modernisation has been a crying need for the last at least two decades. It is a great pity that neither does the army receive a sufficiently large budget, nor does the procurement wing of the Ministry of Defence and other ministries concerned, especially that of finance, see any urgency in modernising the army. Lack of modernisation has substantially reduced the fighting capability of the army and if this continues, the army is unlikely to be the deterrent force it ought to be.  War is a joint endeavour. The complexity of modern war is likely to increase in the future on account of increased and sophisticated technology; the nature of modern war; new threats and challenges; and the reality of nuclear weapons in our neighbourhood. Consequently, a joint force, which acts in an integrated manner, is not just desirable but imperative. Most professional militaries have adopted jointmanship but the Indian military is unfortunately an exception. While everyone endorses the need for jointmanship, it eventually turns out to be merely lip service. This must change. Appointing a CDS and an integrated ministry of defence would be the first steps. We would then be able to generate the necessary synergy, so essential for winning conflicts, battles and wars.  The involvement of the Army against insurgents has been extensive. Despite the ever-increasing central police forces that should be conducting such operations, there is no reduction in the commitments of the army. We have unfortunately reached a stage where the army, instead of being the last option, is often the first recourse! The heavy commitments of the army have undoubtedly been at the expense of its war-readiness, as well as the desired quality of life. Even In situations where the employment of troops becomes essential, they should be withdrawn at the earliest opportunity.  The apolitical stance of the army is correct, but should not translate into meekly accepting whatever orders the bureaucracy relays. Unfortunately, our political leaders are shy of dealing with the army directly, preferring to do so through the bureaucracy. This has resulted in a skewed arrangement whereby gradually the services chiefs appear to have lost their power of dissent even when they find any dispensation that reduces the status, power, emoluments or morale of their command. This needs to stop. It is nobody's case that the chiefs should be confrontationists, but when it comes to their authority being usurped by the bureaucracy, they must hold their ground and get the best for their men.  The military has been and will continue to be the most potent instrument that is used for the most difficult tasks, when every other instrument has failed or given up. This cannot be done by a meek military. We need to educate our political leaders the correct meaning of civil control and supremacy in a democracy.
The challenges  n Doctrinal changes: Over the past few years, the army has been evolving and validating new concepts to cater to the changing geo-strategic scenario and keep pace with emerging battlefield technologies. New doctrines are aimed at cutting down mobilisation and response times while increasing the effectiveness of surgical strikes, besides fighting limited wars, waging sub-convectional warfare as well as fighting high intensity battles in the backdrop of a nuclear threat. A key emerging feature is joint operations with sister services.  n Manpower: There is a deficiency to the tune of 24 per cent in the officer cadre. There is serious shortage at the junior and middle level that forms the force's cutting edge. Policies for personnel below officer rank also need a serious re-look.  n Erosion of values: A number of senior officers have, in recent years, been embroiled in cases pertaining to corruption as well as professional and moral impropriety, denting the army’s image.  n Internal Security: Frequent and prolonged deployment on internal security and counter-terrorist operations has affected operational preparedness, training cycles, troop morale and ethos of the army.  n Network Centric Warfare: The army is developing a "network of networks" that would integrate echelons and formations vertically and horizontally for exploiting the information spectrum to enable real-time flow of data and intelligence, facilitating battlefield assessment and decision making. Many interlinking systems and protocols are in the development phase, but the biggest drawback is that the military does not have a dedicated satellite to bank upon.  n Armour: A large chunk of the army's tank fleet is not equipped for night fighting. Older T-72s require upgradation while the indigenous Arjun does not fully comply with operational requirements.  n Artillery: Upgradation of the artillery has been hanging fire for decades, with no new gun being inducted in 25 years. The army lacks medium and heavy caliber self-propelled artillery. Tendering process to procure new systems has been cancelled thrice. Only a limited number of artillery fire-finder radars are available. Army yet to get cruise and long-range ballistic missiles.  n Infantry: The army has conceived Future Infantry Soldier as a System (F-INSAS), aiming to significantly improve the capability of the foot-soldier by equipping him with state-of-the-art light-weight weapons, sensors and protective measures. The present day personal equipment of the soldier continues to be rudimentary vis-√†-vis modern armies. The infantry also requires more battlefield surveillance radars, detection systems, thermal imagers and night vision equipment. Two new infantry divisions are being raised.  n Air Defence: This is an arena that requires urgent attention. Existing systems like ZSU 23-4, SA-6 and SA-8 are vintage. Indigenous systems such as Akash and Trishul are nowhere in sight.  n Airborne component: The Army Aviation Corps has drawn up plans to expand and induct light as well as medium-lift utility and battlefield support helicopters. Its present fleet of largely Cheetahs and Chetaks is old and insufficient. More unmanned aerial vehicles needed for tactical recce.
Upgraded Arjun tank trial this summer  Has 13 modifications over the existing version Ajay Banerjee/TNS  New Delhi, January 16 A new and upgraded version of the indigenously built Arjun Tank, with 13 modifications over the existing version of the 58-tonne machine, will be put to summer trials this year.  Sources in the Army said the modifications had been incorporated in Arjun Mark II and it would be tested at the Mahajan ranges in Rajasthan in the heat of summer. The exercise would be followed by winter trials later this year.  Two regiments of Arjun, 124 tanks, have been inducted and the Army has ordered another lot of 124 tanks. Arjun has been accepted by the forces after it outgunned, outran and outclassed Russia-built T-90 tanks in a shootout in March, 2010, heralding a turnaround for the DRDO-built tank. Defence Minister AK Antony has himself taken keen interest in the project and ordered that the two tanks faced each other to decide the matter.  The plan now is to jump to the Mark II version of the tank, which will have a number of upgrades over the Mark I version. The latest version of the tank will fire missiles from the existing turret of the tank. The Israeli Laser Homing Attack (Lahat) missile system was tested on Arjun in 2005, but was not incorporated. The missile’s designator has been incorporated into the Arjun’s fire control system. The T-90 already has the capability.  This missile can be handled by the usual gunner of the tank. The missile can perform precision homing on a laser-designated target at a distance of over 8 km. It can even pierce 800mm armour steel with its tandem warhead.  These missiles can be fired from the tanks to destroy long-range targets like enemy tanks and even bring down low attack helicopters.  Arjun Mark II will have a panoramic sight with night vision. This will enable the commander to carry out his job at night with his thermal sight and engage targets more effectively. Its radio communication has also been upgraded.  The new version of the tanks will also have a new kind of armour. This will see the introduction of explosive-reactive armour (ERA) panels, which will comprise of explosives in metallic brick form. These bricks will be mounted not only on the front slope of the latest version of the tank, but also all around it. The explosive reaction from the armour will disrupt and defeat even the latest anti-tank missiles.  Normally a tank’s armour is passive, but ERA will react to the penetration of the incoming missile with the help of explosives sandwiched between armour plates. These explosives will generate sufficient energy to destroy the incoming missile. The missile will not be able to penetrate the entire thickness of the armour and will be deflected by an explosive force.
C-130J Hercules aircraft to arrive this week  New Delhi, January 16 Almost after four decades, India, which was as a Soviet Union ally during the Cold War era, will get its first lot of US-built transport planes next week. The C-130J Hercules aircraft designed to carry special forces will be delivered to the IAF at Hindan, near Delhi, next week. After the arrival of the first of the six C-130Js that India has placed orders with the US, a formal induction ceremony will be held in February first week at the Hindan air base before the plane is flown to Bangalore to be displayed at the biennial Aero India show.  Though India had used U.S military planes like Dakota, Packet and B-24 bombers, which were inducted in 1940s and 1950s, a gradual shift was made towards Russia as the IAF has been plying An-32 and IL-76 transport planes. — TNS
Jairam wants Adarsh to be pulled down in 3 months  Vibha Sharma/Shiv Kumar Tribune News Service  New Delhi/Mumbai, January 16 In an order, expected to have considerable implications on the future of several buildings facing “green blues” in India’s ecologically critical coastal areas, the Environment Ministry on Sunday declared the Adarsh housing society in Mumbai “illegal” and ordered the demolition of the 31-storey controversial structure.  In a strongly worded order, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said the “unauthorised structure” should be removed for flouting Coastal Regulation Zone rules and the area must be restored to its original condition within three months.  The order, posted on the ministry website, says the Adarsh society violated the very spirit of CRZ Notification, 1991. The ministry noted that apart from complete demolition, it had two other options. One was the removal of that part of the structure which was in excess of the Floor Space Index (FSI) that might have been allowed had the requisite permission been sought from the appropriate authority. The other option was the government taking over the building for public use to be determined later.  Justifying its decision to demolish the entire structure, the ministry said: “Option II (of part removal) was rejected since this would have been tantamount to regularising or condoning an egregious violation of the CRZ notification, 1991. Option III was rejected because (i) even though the final use may be in the public interest, it would still be tantamount to regularising a violation of the CRZ norms. (ii) there would be substantial discretionary powers that would vest with the state or the Centre in case of a takeover.”  The order asked the Adarsh Society to carry out the demolition on its own, failing which the Environment Ministry would have to enforce the decision under sections of the Environment Protection Act.  As of now there is no clarity on who will execute Ramesh’s orders. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority may be asked to demolish the society as it is the planning authority for the area where Adarsh is located.  The Environment Ministry had in November last year served a notice to the society, asking it why the illegal floors in the building should not be demolished. The building in Mumbai’s plush Colaba locality was originally meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil War heroes and their kin but was later extended to 31 floors allegedly without mandatory permission.  The scam cost former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan his chair and brought to surface collusion between bureaucrats, Army officials and politicians to corner flats in the building constructed on a prime plot in south Mumbai.  Admitting that it had not taken the ministry’s approval, the society had contended that CRZ regulations were applicable only for industrial projects requiring water front and offshore facilities.  However, immediate demolition of unauthorised construction is unlikely as Adarsh Housing Society will challenge the MoEF order in the Bombay High Court. Adarsh members have already said they would approach court for relief, thereby, indicating a long road before any action actually happens on the ground.  Congress leader Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, who is one of the office-bearers of the society, said they would move the courts to stall the demolition. The society has hired Satish Maneshinde, a high-profile lawyer, who has already challenged the decision of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to revoke the Occupation Certificate granted to the society in the Bombay High Court. “The minister had already made up his mind to demolish the building. The tenor of the order is completely mala fide,” Maneshinde told reporters shortly after the demolition order was issued.  RTI petitioner in the Adarsh case Simpreet singh welcomed the decision and said bureaucrats must act quickly and not delay its execution. “It should be ensured that no frivolous petitions are filed to get a stay on the demolition,” he said.  Another activist YP Singh said while the report is welcome, action should be taken against similar constructions all over Mumbai.  Activists also fear that the “overzealous” action may be an attempt to misguide the public because the main issue of filing an FIR was still pending. “Unless names of bigwigs are incorporated in the FIR, critical matters will get stifled,” they say.  Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Government said it was waiting to receive the order from the Environment Ministry before taking a decision. “We will take a decision upon formal receipt of the order,” state Environment Minister Sanjay Devtale told reporters today.  The Congress termed the MoEF’s decision as an example of the UPA Government’s determination and commitment to fight corruption.  The BJP welcomed the decision but wanted an inquiry ordered against Vilasrao Deshmukh for clearing the land in his tenure as Chief Minister of Maharashtra. “Now that the building has been declared illegal, the Maharashtra Government should punish those responsible for its construction,” Leader of the Opposition Eknath Khadse (BJP) in Maharashtra Assembly said.  Back
Pak wants full resumption of dialogue  Islamabad, January 16 Pakistan has insisted on the full-fledged resumption of the composite dialogue in proposals submitted to India through diplomatic channels ahead of the upcoming meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries.  The two countries have exchanged several proposals in the run-up to the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries on the sidelines of a SAARC meet to be held in Bhutan on February 6-7.  The most recent exchange of proposals by diplomats was in Islamabad yesterday, a senior official of the Pakistani government said.  Pakistan has called for the "restoration of the full spectrum of relations" and resumption of talks on all issues included in the stalled composite dialogue, the official said.  He added that Islamabad is also trying to convince New Delhi to work for a "positive outcome" in the meeting of Foreign Ministers to be held after the parleys between the Foreign Secretaries.  The Foreign Ministers are expected to meet in the first quarter of the year, possibly in March, in New Delhi.  External Affairs Minister S M Krishna recently renewed his invitation to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi to visit India for talks.  Though Krishna first extended the invitation when he visited Islamabad in July last year, Qureshi's visit has been delayed because the two sides have not been able to find common ground on the agenda for talks between the Foreign Ministers, sources in Pakistan's Foreign Office told PTI.  Qureshi has been insisting he will travel to India only if the two sides agree to hold "meaningful and result-oriented" talks.  The senior Pakistan government official acknowledged that contacts through diplomatic channels had continued away from the media glare even after the meeting of the Foreign Ministers in Islamabad in July 2010 ended inconclusively.  Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir met Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal several times as part of these contacts. — PTI
Another Adarsh-like controversy haunts Mumbai  Priyanka Kakodkar, Updated: January 16, 2011 16:46 IST ad_title  PLAYClick to Expand & Play Mumbai:  If the Adarsh Housing society scam shocked Mumbaikars, now another controversy on similar lines is here to haunt them.  The Bombay High court stopped the sale of flats at Harsiddhi Heights in Mumbai's prime Worli area after the Navy complained it was too close to its missile base INS Trata and did not have naval clearance.  As investigations proceeded, NDTV found out that several top bureaucrats or their relatives owned flats in the building, again raising questions about whether their influence helped garner clearances.  Among those who own flats in the building is, Ajay Nair, the son-in-law of former Maharashtra Chief Secretary RM Premkumar who outrightly rejected all allegations "My son-in-law bought the flat at market rates. I was not involved in clearances. The letter was addressed to the municipality, collector and subsequently to the chief secretaries as well. It was up to the municipality to act on the clearance it had given," said RM Premkumar to NDTV.  Another flat-owner Rachita Ratho is the wife of state Energy Secretary Subrat Ratho. The flat was purchased when Subrat Ratho was in the municipality.  However, Ratho clarifies, "I have not handled approvals for the building. My wife bought the flat after due diligence."  Satish Bhide, the then Joint Municipal Commissioner, also owns a flat but denied he handled any file.  Nikhil Gehrotra, a relative of former state Finance Secretary OP Gehrotra, also owns a flat but was unavailable for comment.  Another flat owner is former IPS officer YP Singh, now a lawyer, who helped expose the Adarsh scam.  In the Adarsh case, the babus who got flats had directly handled clearances. But, that link is not clear in the Harsiddhi case.  After the Navy's objections, the government issued a stop-work notice in 2008. By then the building was almost ready. The Navy alleges that the construction continued despite the stop-work notice  "The file moved through ten tables and all these people are now beneficiaries of the flats," alleges Bharat Kumar Raut, a Shiv Sena MP.  Flat-owners on the other hand say that Navy's clearance was not required in this case. Also, they claim that the Navy has not opposed to other buildings in the area, hinting at a personal vendetta.  "The policy for granting No Objection Certificates is still pending with the Ministry of Defence. No orders have come. Why is one building being targeted?" said YP Singh.  While allegations and counter-allegations continue, the question is, how could so many bureaucrats ignore the concern of the Navy and buy flats in the building?

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