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Sunday, 23 January 2011

From Today's Papers - 23 Jan 2011

PK Rath first Lieutenant General to face court martial proceedings The Court of Inquiry will now pronounce its sentence on Saturday. Rath is the first General to face court martial proceedings. This verdict will now have to be confirmed by the Army Chief and the Ministry of Defence. CJ: Richa Sinha                   Sat, Jan 22, 2011 10:56:42 IST Views:               17    Comments: 0 Rate:  1 out of 5 2 out of 5 3 out of 5 4 out of 5 5 out of 5 0.0 / 0 votes     LIEUTENANT GENERAL PK Rath has been found guilty in the Sukhna land scam by an Army Court in New Delhi on Friday.  Gen Rath faced court martial on three counts firstly for providing a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the construction of the building next to the Army headquarters in Sukna, secondly for signing a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) with the private builder and thirdly for not informing the Eastern Command headquarters while the process was being carried on by him.  The Court of Inquiry will now pronounce its sentence on Saturday. Rath is the first General to face court martial proceedings. This verdict will now have to be confirmed by the Army Chief and the Ministry of Defence.  The land scam came into the open in mid-2008 and the names of Gen Rath and General Avadhesh Prakash figured among the senior army officers who influenced the decision to issue the NOC to a Siliguri-based private builder to construct an educational institution on a 70-acre land adjacent to the Sukna military station in Darjeeling.  The private builder floated a trust Agarwal Geetanjali Education Trust to set up an affiliate school of the prestigious Mayo College in the area.
Serious challenges plague massive US aid to Pakistan: Report The ambitious US civilian-aid program, which has made Pakistan the world's second-largest recipient of American economic and development assistance, is facing a host of serious challenges on the ground. CJ: thomosp     Sat, Jan 22, 2011 15:11:50 IST Views:      7    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 AMBITIOUS US civilian-aid program, which has made Pakistan the world's second-largest recipient of American economic and development assistance, is facing a host of serious challenges on the ground.  A push to give more money directly to the the Pakistan government and local organisations has been slowed by concerns about the local groups’ capacity to properly handle the funds, the Wall Street Journal reported.  Some international groups have balked at new requirements, such as prominently displaying US government logos on food shipments, and have pulled out of US government programs, it added.  Anti-American sentiment continues to flourish in Pakistan despite the uptick in spending, in part because of the US drone attacks on tribal regions. A last July poll by the Washington-based Pew Research Center showed that two-thirds of Pakistani respondents considered the US as an enemy, said the report.  In early 2009, US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke was frustrated that all of the money the US was pouring into Pakistan had failed to improve America's image there, the report said, adding that in March 2009, he called a meeting in India of all aid officials involved in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Central Asian republics to outline how things would change.  "He thought everything we were doing was a failure," recalls one participant in the meeting.  According to the report, Holbrooke decided to shift focus to give more aid directly to local organizations and the Pakistan government, and less to the foreign nongovernmental organizations that handled the bulk in the past.  However, the report said it was unclear whether Pakistan's nongovernmental organizations were prepared to handle a massive influx of funds.  "I think $1.5 billion is too much money for this country," said Shandana Khan, head of a nationwide network of rural-development organizations that recently won a 20-million-dollar grant from the USAID. "This country doesn't have many organizations that can absorb this kind of money."  Some senior USAID staffers have complained that the change in policy has happened too quickly for the agency to find suitable new programs, the report said.  US officials acknowledge difficulties distributing so much money, but say the shift in direction is needed, the report added.
IAF to showcase network centric operations on Republic Day Network Centric Operations involve the networking of sensors and critical capabilities to provide the IAF leadership with complete situational awareness. This will significantly enhance command and control and lead to superior decision-making. CJ: Richa Sinha          Sat, Jan 22, 2011 16:39:37 IST Views:               11    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 INDIAN Air Force (IAF) Tableau for this year's Republic Day Parade will showcase the endeavor to uphold age-old military values, while transforming into a modern, competent and capable force.  Network Centric Operations involve the networking of sensors and critical capabilities to provide the IAF leadership with complete situational awareness. This will significantly enhance command and control and lead to superior decision-making.  Scale models of a Sukhoi-30 MKI tearing through the sky in the form of an aerostat, a satellite and an AWACS will be the star attraction.  The images of the situation board of AFNET (Air Force Network) and the Surface to Air Missiles firing depict the integration of sensors and capabilities of the IAF tableaux.  While IAF continues to acquire new capabilities and assimilate advanced technologies, it believes that the air warrior is the greatest force multiplier.  A flypast comprising 25 IAF aircraft including 13 fighter jets, ten helicopters and five transport aircraft, and three helicopters of the Indian Army's aviation arm will add to the aerial aspect of the RDP.  The flypast will be in two phases at the start of the parade by helicopters trooping the national tricolor and ensigns of the three services.  The second phase will be at the end of the parade with waves of formation comprising Mi-25 attack helicopters, a transport aircraft ''Big Boy'' formation of mixed fleet (IL-78, AN-32, Dornier) followed by fighter jets-Jaguars, Mig-29s and Su-30 MKIS. A vertical Charlie maneuver by a single Su-30 MKI spiraling upwards will signal the close of the proceedings.  The aerial show will be matched by 144 air warriors and 72 musicians of AF Band who will form the IAF marching contingent on Rajpath.  Flight Lieutenant CP Deshpande will lead the AF contingent, while Flight Lieutenant Jasdeep Kaur, Flight Lieutenant Mukesh Rai and Fg Offr Anupama Chaudhary will be the other officers marching alongside.  50 other air warriors led by Sqn Ldr B Biswas as the IAF contingent commander will form part of the Inter Services Guard of Honour of 150 personnel to be led by Wg Cdr Ajay Dasari as the overall Guard Commander.  In view of the flypast at heights varying from 60 to 500 metres and the associated flight safety concerns posed by birds, the IAF has made an appeal to all citizens of Delhi and its neighbourhood to keep their areas clean and avoid throwing eatables, garbage, dead animals or carcasses in the open in all the days leading upto January 26.
Sukna land scam: Army Court Martial orders 2-year seniority loss for Lt General P K Rath  NDTV Correspondent, Updated: January 22, 2011 18:06 IST ad_title  New Delhi:  Army Court Martial has ordered a two-year seniority loss for Lieutenant General Rath, and has ordered 15 years of loss of service for pension. Rath, A serving Lieutenant General of the Indian Army was court martialled in the Sukna land scam case on Friday.  General Rath has service till March 2012. He however, will now become two years juniour to his batch mates.  Lt Gen Rath was found guilty by an Army court of issuing the no-objection certificate to the builder, signing an MoU and not informing the Command Headquarters.  Speaking to NDTV, Lt Gen P K Rath's brother Proffessor Pratap Kumar Rath said that they will appeal against the court martial in the Supreme Court.      * Share this on     * NDTVTwitter     * NDTVNDTV Social     * Share with MessengerLive Messenger     * NDTVGmail Buzz     * NDTVPrint   "We are a democracy and are not run by martial law. We're Indians and every Indian citizen has a right to seek final justice from the Supreme Court," he said.  Earlier, a court of inquiry instituted to look into the case had found Lieutenant General Rath, a former commander of the 33 corps and retired military secretary Lieutenant General Awadesh guilty.  Lt General Rath had given a no objection certificate (NOC) to a private developer to commercially develop a 71-acre land adjacent to the Sukna military station in Darjeeling district in December 2009 despite repeated objections by his own officers.  Rath overruled objections of other officers. He also issued the NOC without informing Eastern Command or Army Headquarters.  Lieutenant General Prakash, the then military secretary, had influenced Lt Gen Rath to issue a NOC to Dilip Aggarwal, the private builder who falsely claimed to be setting up an affiliate of the Mayo College in Sukna.  It was Lt Gen Rath's chief of staff, the then Maj Gen (now a serving Lt. Gen and DG, Military Training) Ramesh Halgali who had complained to Eastern Army Command about the NOC.  Surprisingly, the then Chief of Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor censured Lieutenant General Ramesh Halgali and five other officers who blew the whistle in the Sukna land scam.
Ensure Pak military aid not used against us: India to China Press Trust of India / Beijing January 22, 2011, 16:32 IST  Asking China to use its "good offices" to pressure its 'all-weather friend' Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism, BJP today said the Chinese government should also ensure that its nuclear and military assistance to Islamabad is not directed against India.  Pakistan continues to create lots of problems for India through acts of cross-border terrorism, BJP President Nitin Gadkari, who held wide-ranging talks with Chinese leaders yesterday, told the Indian media here.  Gadkari said he told the Chinese leaders that whatever help China is providing to Pakistan, be that of nuclear reactors and military assistance, there is a "possibility it can be used against India."  "Pakistan government is supporting terrorism and sponsoring cross-border terrorism," he said, adding that in such a situation China's support to Pakistan may also mean "supporting terrorism."  "So I requested them (Chinese leaders) that since China is also against terrorism, use your good offices and just tell Pakistan to stop all terrorist activities sponsored by Pakistan government," he said.  Gadkari, who is on a five-day goodwill visit to China, held talks with Li Changchun, the fifth ranking member of the powerful politburo of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) yesterday besides Ai Ping, the Chinese Vice-Minister in the International department of the CPC.  He said the Chinese leaders listened to his views and "assured" him that they will refer them to competent authority and covey his feelings to them.  Besides urging China to step up pressure on Pakistan to stop exporting terror to India, he said he had conveyed his party's opposition to issuance of stapled visas to Kashmiris and residents of Arunachal Pradesh.  In a statement issued after the talks yesterday, Gadkari said, according to his party, China still occupies 38,000 square kilometres of Indian territory in Ladakh and another 5,000 square kilometres ceded to it by Pakistan in Kashmir.  He also expressed concern over reports of the Chinese troops' presence in PoK.  "The Indian Government has independently verified and confirmed that PLA troops had entered the region," he said.  Gadkari also opposed any talks between India and Pakistan without Islamabad stopping use of terrorism as a weapon against New Delhi.  "We are ready for any talks, but first of all Pakistan- sponsored terrorism activities should be stopped. Even Indian government has submitted lot of evidence to them. Without stopping sponsorship of terrorism against India it is not possible for Indian people to maintain good relations with Pakistan," he said.
Pakistan was always there for Sri Lanka: Gen. Kayani Says arms race with Inida not option for Pakistan By Yasasmin Kaviratne  Pakistan stood by Sri Lanka at a time of crisis and that will be the foundation of a new friendship and it will be etched in the memories of the people of the two nations, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army said.  Addressing the student officers of Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) at Sapugaskanda on Friday, the visiting Army chief said be it weapons or training for military personnel, Pakistan always came forward to help Sri Lanka. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani addressing student officers at DSCSC. Pic by Sanka Vidanagama  He was here on a three day visit which ended on Friday. General Kayani said although the war against the LTTE has been won, the battle is still on as it will be won only when ex combatants are reintegrated into society. He added that a lot could be learnt from the expertise of the Sri Lankan army in fighting terrorism.  He said terrorism could be created by growing radicalism. “In the case of Sri Lanka, it grew in terms of ethnicity. But usually in South Asia radicalism grows in terms of religion,” he said adding that people are more sensitive when it comes to religion than ethnicity and that’s the situation Pakistan was facing presently.  Commenting on the relations with its neighbour country India, he said, “An arms race with India is not an option for Pakistan,” adding that the defence budget of India is nine or ten times bigger than Pakistan’s. But he said that he stands by the fact that he is India-centric as Pakistan has some unresolved issues and a history of conflicts with its neighbour.  He elaborated that there should be a right balance between defence and development and that was the way forward for the South Asia region. “Strategic stability means having stable and secure neighbours as it enhances security and peace within the country. An arms race is not an option for South Asia,” he said.  Commenting on Afghanistan and President Obama’s change in strategy to pull out of Afghanistan in 2014 instead of 2011, the General said that the question is how things are going to shape up by 2014 as no one has a clear idea of how things would turn out.  He added that what happens in Afghanistan is important to Pakistan not only because it shares a long border but because there are many tribal villages in the border for whom these don’t mater much. Moreover, he said, if Afghanistan is secure, then many border and security issues that Pakistan faces too could be solved. “One cannot isolate Afghanistan from Pakistan,” he emphasized.  The Defence College Commandant, Major General Jagath Rambukpotha, welcoming Army chief said when Sri Lanka sought Pakistan’s assistance during the war the Pakistan General’s answer was, “We are coming to help. Don’t worry, we are coming”
Asian military giants to help Sri Lanka  By Shanika SRIYANANDA   Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa presents a memento to Pakistan Army Chief General Kayani.   Sri Lanka Air Force Commander, Air Marshal Roshan Goonetileke presents a memento to Indian Air Chief Air Marshal Naik.   Sri Lanka Army Commander, Lt. General Jagath Jayasuriya welcomes Pakistan Army Chief General Kayani  It was a significant week for the Sri Lanka's defence forces as two military chiefs from two friendly countries arrived to strengthen their longstanding military ties, last week.  Both helped in Sri Lanka's battle against 30-year-old terrorism in 2009. Being military giants both never looked away when Sri Lanka's military was in need of support.  At a time when the West believed that it was a pipe dream for Sri Lankan military to defeat the LTTE and when they were trying to halt the military push to save the LTTE, these two nations silently gave their fullest help to Sri Lanka's military might to defeat the LTTE.  It was India and Pakistan who stepped in Sri Lanka to enhance the on-going military bond between them and Sri Lanka.  First to arrive in Sri Lanka was the Indian Air Force Commander Air Chief Naik on January 17. He was welcomed by the Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetileke at the SLAF headquarters.  He met President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees and also met Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne, Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Commanders of Army and Navy.  Being a qualified flying instructor he had visited the Sri Lanka Air Force Flying Squadrons at Katunayake.  He paid a floral tribute to the soldiers of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), who fought with the LTTE. He visited the IPKF memorial at Battaramulla on January 17.It was built to honour over 1,000 IPKF soldiers who were killed during their fight with the LTTE. Military affairs  While discussing the military affairs between the two countries, Prime Minister Jayaratne appreciated the Indian support given to Sri Lanka and said the Government had given priority for development of the North.  Briefing him on post-conflict development activities in the island Premier Jayaratne said the Tamils in the North now have fresh hopes and the Government intended to make their expectations come true.  Discussions were focused on military matters between the two countries.  During the meeting, the Indian Air Force Chief Naik said that India was very particular about Sri Lanka's safety. He also highlighted the importance of strengthening bilateral security. Sri Lanka is a country with natural beauty.  We see how the country moves forward with development goals after ending the war. Sri Lanka would draw a greater number of foreign tourists due to her inherited splendour, he said.  The Premier appreciated the assistance extended by India to Sri Lanka.  While commending the assistance extended by India in strengthening the defence of Sri Lanka, the Premier was of the view that the two countries should explore new avenues in the cooperation with regard to defence issues.  The Premier further said that the people in the North would experience the benefits of development drives already launched.  Commenting on the Indian Air Force Chief Naik's visit Air Force Commander Air Marshal Roshan Goonatilake said it was a very successful visit when both the Air Forces are concerned and it strengthened the longstanding relationship between the two Air Forces.  "We are longstanding friends and the historical relationship between the two Air Forces has been strengthened by this visit. I especially thank the Indian air Force chief for assisting us with the Indian Air Defence system, which was given free of charge, during the Sri Lanka's military and humanitarian mission to defeat terrorism. Enhancing training  “Being our neighbouring country Indian Air Force helped Sri Lanka in different means", he told the Sunday Observer. He said: "We discussed on further enhancing training of Air Force technicians and air traffic controllers.  We also discussed initiating exchange programs where the expertise in sports and medical fields are concerned and also giving the airmen of both Air Forces who excel in sports to take part in events. But these ideas have not been finalised yet. They will be looked into in future".  Commander of the Pakistan Army General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani arrived in Sri Lanka for a three day visit on January 19. General Kayani and Sri Lanka's Army Chief Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya discussed military matters of mutual and regional interest and possibilities for sharing experience and strategies in the successful Wanni Humanitarian Operations against the separatist terrorists.  The meeting also explored avenues of receiving more and more training opportunities for Sri Lankan officers in Pakistan, in addition to ongoing training programs.  He met Prime Minister D.M Jayaratne, Secretary Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, High Commissioner of Pakistan, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of Sri Lanka Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetileke, and newly appointed Navy Commander Vice Admiral D.W.A.S. Dissanayake during his visit.  He visited the Defence Services Command and Staff College at Sapugaskanda, where he was welcomed by Commandant of the College Maj. Gen. J.C Rambukpotha.  Addressing the student officers he said military ties between Sri Lanka and Pakistan go back generations and Pakistan would continue its training programs for Sri Lankan military officers.  Pakistan Army Chief's wife. Begum Zahida Kayani accompanied Sri Lanka's Army Commander's wife Manjulika Jayasuriya to Ranaviru Sevana and appreciated the SLA's efforts to rehabilitate disabled war heroes.  Sri Lanka's Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya said they had discussed on continuing Pakistan's support in military matters. "It is a significant visit and this is his first visit to Sri Lanka following the defeat of the LTTE. We discussed the experience that the Sri Lanka Army gained in defeating terrorism. This visit will further enhance the relationship between two Armies and continue to support each other in military matters", he told the Sunday Observer.  "I thanked the Pakistan Army for their support in defeating the LTTE.  Pakistan is a friend in need and also a friend in deed. During Sri Lanka's battle against terrorism, Pakistan is one country that did not ignore us. They always stood by us when we needed help. Especially when we needed material support, Pakistan provided us the necessary military equipment without delay", the Army Chief Jayasuriya said.  "The training which the Pakistani Army gives us will continue and we discussed about initiating training in specialized areas. General Kayani agreed to carry out a study and provide necessary support to commence such training", Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya said.  "We have Pakistani Army officers who have commenced their training here recently. Sri Lanka has started extensive courses for international students to learn how to defeat terrorism. Pakistan Army was the first to respond and they are now getting training in our military academy", he said.  Army Chief Jayasuriya said an invitation was extended to the Pakistan Army Commander to participate in the International Seminar on how Sri Lanka defeated LTTE terrorism, which is scheduled to be held on May 31 to 2nd June in Sri Lanka.
Lt Gen Rath gets 2-yr seniority loss, rebuke January 23, 2011   8:54:18 AM  Pioneer News Service | New Delhi  A day after holding Lt General PK Rath guilty in the Sukna land scam, the court martial on Saturday ordered for him a two-year seniority loss, 15 years of loss of service for pension and severe reprimand. Rath is the first serving Lt General in the history of Indian Army to have been convicted for corruption.  Announcing the sentence in Shillong, presiding judge Lt Gen IJ Singh ordered, “To take rank and precedence as if appointment as substantiating Lt Gen bore dated May 24, 2010, forfeiture of 15 years’ service for pensionary benefits and severe reprimand.” The verdict is subject to confirmation by the Defence Ministry.  Loss of seniority means that Rath, who became a Lt General in May 2008, would now be considered as being promoted to Lt General from May 2010. Rath, who has another year of service left, was designated to take over as Deputy Chief of Army Staff in 2008, but was transferred to other department. After the scandal broke out, he was not made the deputy chief.  The court martial had on Friday found Rath guilty on three counts, but four other charges against him were dropped. The officer broke down in the court before the order was passed. He expressed gratitude to the General Court Martial (GCM) for dropping the charges of fraud.  “This has removed the stigma that has been haunting me ever since the chargesheet was filed,” he said.  The court martial held him guilty for issuing a ‘No-Objection Certificate’ in his capacity as 33 Corps Commander to a private realtor for constructing educational institutions on a piece of land adjacent to the Sukna military station in West Bengal. The other charges for which he was found guilty are signing of MoU with Geetanjali Trust for construction of the educational institute and not informing his superiors in the Eastern Command about the proposed agreement. The other four charges, including that of ‘intent to defraud’, were dropped by the GCM.  The controversy hit headlines in late 2009 when, besides Rath, names of senior officers — including then Military Secretary Lt General Awadesh Prakash, Major General Ramesh Halgalli and Major General PC Sen — came to light. The Army ordered a Court of Inquiry, which found Rath guilty of wrongdoing along with Prakash and the two major generals. Based on the findings, the Army ordered a court martial in mid-2010 against Rath. Prakash Halgalli and Sen were censured.  The controversy also attracted attention as Prakash was considered to be close to then Army chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, and he had to face flak for the scandal. Defence Minister AK Antony also expressed concern over the Army’s image taking a blow due to the controversy surrounding senior officers. In fact, the Defence Ministry asked the Army to initiate court martial proceedings against Prakash after the Army recommended administrative action against him.
No girls please, we’re the Army  Gautam Datt and Jayant Sriram First Published : 23 Jan 2011 12:55:00 AM IST Last Updated : 22 Jan 2011 07:56:30 PM IST  The retired tag attached to Major Ambica Prasad’s name can be misleading. She is still in her early 30s, her decade-old professional career nowhere near its end. She holds a cushy IT job now but before that she toiled hard for seven years in a profession still considered relatively new for women. She was a woman officer in the Indian army, a rarity among the million-strong males who make up the armed forces.  She was among the first to be inducted in the ’90s, when women were given a short commission of between 10 and 15 years. She was happy to take it but it meant that she could not make the military her life. The appointment curtailed her prospects of career growth. She had no chance of reaching a position of command. That is the reason so many like her have moved to civilian jobs. There was, of course, no question of a place in the combat arm so they couldn’t fly a fighter, serve on a warship or even command troops.  This is certainly a surprising situation compared to countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh who all  deploy women on warships. The United States even allows them on submarines. Even Pakistan reportedly has seven women fighter pilots. In India, even the prospect of women in such positions appears light years away though it’s something organisations like the National Commission for Women have long been petitioning for.  In a judgment delivered on March 12, 2010, the Delhi High court ordered that permanent commission be granted to short service commissioned women officers in all three wings of the armed forces. This was in response to petitions by over 50 women officers who had accused the government of discrimination vis-a-vis their male counterparts. But while the order  itself sounds all-inclusive, it is restricted, at the moment, only to the education, legal, medical, nursing and dental services of the armed forces. Positions that don’t involve command of men or battalions. There is no provision to speak of for inclusion in combat wings, or even for permanent commissions in areas like signals and the service corps where women are taken on short service commissions. So then what are the  objections to permanent commissions in these fields?  According to Major General (retd) GD Bakshi, the question of having women in the army has become all about political correctness, at the cost of harsh military realities. He says, for instance, that most of the soldiers in the army, nearly 70 per cent, are peasants from a village background and are not culturally prepared to accept women in command roles.  Others like Prabhakaran Paleri, a former DG of the coast guard, says there are logistical problems even with non-combat roles. “In the coast guard, women can’t go on ships so that means they would have to occupy all the shore-based jobs. If that happens, how can we bring men back from the sea? We have to rotate them and give them shore-based jobs for a while so they can be with their families. If we can’t do that, if all the shore-based jobs are occupied by women, then their morale gets affected.”   infrastructure is another problem. Former Commodore S Shekhar describes a drill called ‘hotbunking’ when he was working on board a submarine. “There are 60 people on board and 20 of them take it in turns to keep watch. When one group finishes their shift, they have to sleep. So they take up the beds left by the 20 whose turn it then is. Now can you imagine a woman in this position, having to rotate beds like this constantly? Also, there are only two toilets on board a submarine.” Shekhar also points out that a permanent commission entails a permanent commitment, something women in the armed forces will find difficult. “Many women will want to get married by the time they are 27 or 28 and this is the stage when your commitment to the armed forces has to  increase. This is when you get sent to staff college or to combat college. So, if at this crucial point they choose to get married, what happens then?” The point, he argues, is that standards like equal opportunity, which are applicable in other walks of life, should not be applied to the armed forces.  Needless to say, the issue of women in combat is one on which all the senior officers Express spoke to are unanimous: it is simply not a woman’s place. Says former Brigadier Ravi Verman: “The idea of sending women to places like Kashmir or Siachen is utterly  ridiculous. These are areas where there is constant fighting and we have to consider what might happen if women are taken prisoners of war. There is no telling what the enemy will do with them.”   ‘No privacy on the field’  Major General Bakshi adds that it would be uncivilised to put women in harm’s way and that there are very real physical constraints for women that do not make them suited for the rigors of the battlefield. “After taking women in the Army we have encountered many practical problems. How do you afford them privacy in difficult field areas where armies have to operate in the open in mountains, jungles or deserts?”  And while there is the argument for women in other countries serving on ships and as pilots of combat jets, experts like Gopalji Malviya, who is professor of Defence and Strategic studies at University of Madras, say there is no point in comparing our military tradition to theirs. “The  social ethos is different in other countries and the role of women in their societies is also completely different. Moreover, in many of these countries they have a shortage of manpower and that’s why they take women while we have no such problem.” He argues therefore, that granting commission to women in support fields like the education and legal wings is a great step as it would allow them to continue after their SSC.    What do the women say  To add to this tumult of opposition, there is also the question of how women in the armed forces feel about their position. Former officers like Major Ambica say the army has not as yet been able to bridge the gender divide. In her time, she felt that women had to make an extra effort to get recognition from the seniors compared to their male colleagues.   Another officer, Major Shikha Singh, who held important positions during the Kargil war and took part in Operation Parakram, the biggest  mobilisation of troops after the December 2001 Parliament attack, says there is often only a single woman among many male officers in a unit. “She gets a lot of attention and in this environment, when she performs well, her success is mostly  attributed to her proximity to male colleagues.” She adds that her own skills and caliber were very seldom appreciated.  Her views, however,  were countered by Major Priyanka, who has now completed nearly 10 years in service. “I have been posted in locations where I was the only girl for hundreds of kilometres among thousands of men, but never have I felt insecure or odd,” she said. Given a chance, she would love to continue in the army for longer than 15 years.  For Captain Anjali Saxena, a permanent commission for women in the army is only logical but not before there is a change in the mindset of the women themselves. “In the armed forces, a woman who sheds her femininity and adopts a masculine body language is generally appreciated,” she said. “Even troops respect those women officers who adapt to the masculine environment. A woman can not remain a woman.”  Major Priyanka has a different take on the  issue. She said troops were initially shocked to see women wearing uniforms. But over a period of time, they have accepted the fact and don’t create trouble. “It all depends on how you conduct yourself. I have been firm with the troops but never forget the fact that I am a woman. I don’t get casual with them like a male officer may do,” she said. She goes on to suggest that the time may now have come to open combat arms for women on an experimental basis. “It should be done gradually as the numbers of women officers are increasing slowly,” she said. “Until we do it, how would we know if it is good or bad?” she asked.  India against the rest of the world  In India, currently, 5,137 women officers serve in the armed forces. They include 4,101 in the Indian Army, 784 in the IAF, and 252 in the Indian Navy. This includes women granted permanent commissions in the Army Medical Corps, the Army Dental Corps and their equivalents in the other two services as also in the Military Nursing Service. In the army, women serve in support arms like the Corps of Signals, Army Ordnance Corps, the Corps of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers and the Army Service Corps. In the Indian Air Force, women are inducted in all streams barring the fighter stream. In the Indian Navy, there are restrictions on posting women officers aboard ships and submarines. Most militaries worldwide induct women but only a few allow them to perform active combat roles. Among these countries are Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland.  UK:  Total number of women : 17,900  Total number of officers :  3,670  Total number of other ranks : 14,230  Total of all personnel : 196,650  Total percentage of Women in Armed Forces:  9.1%  Women may now join the British Armed forces in all roles except those whose ‘‘primary duty is to close with and kill the enemy’’: Infantry, Household Cavalry, Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Marine Commandos, RAF Regiment, Special Air Service and Special Boat Service.  Israel:  As of 2002, 33 per cent of lower-rank officers in their Israel Defence Force are women, 21 per cent of Captains and Majors, and 3 per cent of the most senior ranks. IDF Women are allowed to serve in 83 per cent of all positions in the military, including Shipboard Navy Service (except submarines), and Artillery. Combat roles are voluntary.  US:  Total Number of women in the Army: 76,193  Total Number of women in the Navy: 52, 546  Total number of women in the Airforce: 64, 275  Women are allowed to serve in the US army in most flight combat positions as well as on warships and submarines. Pentagon rules dictate that women may not be assigned to ground combat units. That means, they are not allowed to serve in the infantry or as special operations commandos. However, they serve in support units as truck drivers, gunners, medics, military police, helicopter pilots and more.
Defence ministry challenges order to disclose unpublished INA history DNA / Kanu Sarda / Sunday, January 23, 2011 0:01 IST  As the nation celebrates the 114th birth anniversary of the founder of Azad Hind Fauj of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, this Sunday, his 60-year-old manuscript of a book chronicling its history will remain under wraps for some more time.  The ministry of defence (MoD) had challenged the Central Information Commission (CIC) order on the plea of a RTI applicant seeking the information regarding Bose saying if the manuscript goes in private hands it may prove detrimental to the economic interests of the government of India.  The case relates to an RTI application filed by activists Anuj Dhar and Chandrachur Ghose, who were the office bearers of a trust called ‘Mission Netaji’ and sought a copy of the manuscript of the book by PC Gupta, a historian, written 60 years ago, who was commissioned by the government to write the official version of the Indian National Army.  The manuscript was completed in 1950, but languished in the History Division of the MoD till date. The Delhi high court has on Friday stayed the CIC’s order that had asked the MoD to provide manuscript of a book relating to the history of Azad Hind Fauj.  The unpublished book commissioned by government six decades ago was refused by MoD to the RTI applicant saying it is “planning” to publish the manuscript submitted in 1950 and the disclosure would hit the “economic interests” of the state. Following the CIC order, Dhar and Ghose had also provided a written oath to the government saying that they would not extract any economic mileage out of the manuscript and it was only for research and personal reference.  Information commissioner ML Sharma had in its order last year directed the MoD to disclose the manuscript to the RTI applicants. “Information sought by Ghose and Dhar is “disclosable (sic)” and the reasons provided by the ministry do not hold in the light of the oath by the duo,” the CIC order states.  “This instance is symptomatic of larger malaise. Our government wants to keep everything about Netaji secret for reasons known to them,” Dhar said.  In 2009, CIC has also directed the home ministry to make public “each” exhibit listed in the Justice Mukherjee Commission report which probed the alleged disappearance of Subhash Chandra Bose in 1945, even if they belonged to other ministries and state governments.

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