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Friday, 4 February 2011

From Today's Papers - 04 Feb 2011





HRD said no to IGNOU doctorate for Gen Kapoor

Anubhuti Vishnoi Posted online: Fri Feb 04 2011, 01:44 hrs New Delhi : Former Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, now in the dock over the Adarsh housing scam besides a series of other defence land scams, has been denied an honorary doctorate that a Central government-run university wanted to confer on him.  A Right to Information (RTI) application filed by The Indian Express has revealed that while the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) had submitted a proposal seeking to confer an honorary doctorate on the former Army chief, the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry in December last year shot down the proposal terming it inappropriate. The move comes even as a series of allegations have been surfacing against General Kapoor over the past few months questioning his role in the Kandivali land transfer scam, Sukna land scam and most notably in the Adarsh Housing Society scam.  As per established procedures, Central universities have to route their proposals on conferring of honorary doctorates to the HRD Ministry with complete information on the proposed candidates. In case of any foreigner or a significant personality being considered for awarding a doctorate by a government institution, political clearance is also required. Once cleared by the government, the same proposal is sent to the President — who is Visitor to all Central universities — to be signed before the varsity is deemed to have been permitted to confer the said doctorate.  While the IGNOU Vice-Chancellor had in December 2009 first formulated the proposal when Kapoor was serving as Chief of Staff Committee and Chief of the Army, this was received by the ministry in December last year.  The RTI response received by The Indian Express reads: “A proposal was received in Distance Learning Division of this ministry on 22.12.2010 from Vice-Chancellor, IGNOU vide their letter dated 17.12.2009 for conferment of honorary doctorate (Honoris Causa) on General Deepak Kapoor, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSH, ADL the then Chairman, Chief of Staff Committee & Chief of the Army.”  “However, the proposal was not considered appropriate” by the HRD Ministry, the response adds.  Incidentally, the IGNOU had first formulated the proposal within three months of the Indian Army signing a major MoU with the IGNOU to set up a number of ‘Indian Army-IGNOU Community Colleges’ and to confer educational certificates on Indian Army jawans under the IGNOU system. The MoU was signed in the presence of General Kapoor on September 29, 2009. Barely two months later, in December 2009, the IGNOU V-C sent a proposal to the HRD Ministry to confer the honorary doctorate on General Kapoor who was still serving as Army chief at that time. He retired on March 31, 2010. That the HRD Ministry also took nearly a year to decide on the fate of the proposal indicates the government’s unease over General Kapoor’s candidature.  Officials in the HRD Ministry point out that as per norms an honorary doctorate is awarded by an educational institute to a distinguished person who has put in several years of service to a chosen field and who has generally not been in active service for a while. However, instance of serving defence chiefs or for that matter recently serving chiefs being awarded honorary doctorates are rare. Last heard, the illustrious Field Marshall S.H.F.J Manekshaw was conferred an Honoris Causa in 2004, incidentally also by the IGNOU.






Buildings near RAW centre irk IAF

Tribune News Service  New Delhi, February 3 Indian Air Force (IAF) has objected to swanky five-star hotels coming up next to the Indira Gandhi International Airport, here as these multi-story buildings are very close to the spy agency - Aviation Research Centre (ARC), the air wing of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).  “This is a matter of concern to us...We have raised objection over this (construction),” Air Chief Marshal P V Naik told reporters here on sidelines of a seminar.  He was replying to queries about whether the construction of hotels next to the ARC complex was a matter of concern for the IAF and whether it has raised objection over the issue. The IAF chief did not elaborate or specify as to whom the objections had been conveyed. As per rules, no construction activity is allowed within 100 metres of military air bases and technical areas, IAF officials said.  The ARC base at Delhi Airport has aircraft such as IL-76, AN-32 and Gulf Stream besides some Mi-17 choppers which are used for gathering intelligence and carrying out airborne surveillance missions. Most of these planes are piloted by IAF personnel on deputation to ARC or by former IAF pilots, who are re-employed with ARC.  At least 14 five-star hotels and other buildings are being constructed near the Indira Gandhi International Airport.







Indigenous UAV Nishant ready for delivery

Tribune News Service  New Delhi, February 3 Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) today announced that indigenously developed unmanned aerial vehicle, Nishant, has successfully completed a series of confirmatory trials conducted by the Indian Army at Pokharan.  The Army will formally take delivery of a set of four such UAVs together with ground systems in the coming weeks.  Dr Prahlada, Chief Controller, Research and Development, (Aeronautics and Services Interaction) explained that Nishant is capable of being launched from a hydro pneumatic launcher without the need of a runway.  The system consists of air vehicle supported by ground control station equipment mounted on an existing “Tatra” series of vehicle of the Army. The UAV can be made to land at a particular spot with the help of parachutes and landing bags. The UAV is used in roles like battle field reconnaissance, surveillance, target tracking and pointing artillery fire in the correct direction.  Nishant can carry cameras, sensors and even equipment to pick out communication. It can also be used for counter insurgency operations. The performance of the pay load sensors in particular has been better than even the imported UAVs with the Army, the DRDO spokesperson said.  Nishant has been designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a DRDO laboratory specialising in UAVs.








Officials at ITBP recruitment camp admit mistake

An official from the ITBP told reporters that as recruitment for the post of tradesman was being done after a gap of three years, estimation of the number of aspirants, who will turn up for the process went wrong. CJ: Nikhil Menon        Thu, Feb 03, 2011

                   IT TOOK loss of 20 lives and many hopes which were shattered during the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) recruitment drive for the paramilitary organisation to admit the mistakes. The ITBP after the incident said that it had indeed failed to estimate the number of aspirants, who would turn up at its camp in Bareilly.  An official from the ITBP told reporters that as recruitment for the post of tradesman was being done after a gap of three years there was a huge rush of aspirants.   He also confirmed that action would be initiated to probe into the reasons which led to the incident and can be expected to get over within a weeks time. The official also added that since no body has been accused in the case so far, the guilty will be produced only when the inquiry is over. However, aspirants who had a first hand experience of the incident claimed that the local Police and other security personnel charged at them and directed them to leave Bareilly by any means. It was only because of the fear of police and security personnel that hundreds of students climbed on to Himgiri Express in Bareilly.   The victims who climbed the Himgiri Express were crushed to death as they hit an overbridge at Shajahanpur, 60 km from Bareilly. Adding to the woes, many of them also claimed that they were forced to climb onto the roofs of goods train which was also passing by.









Maj Unnikrishnan's uncle attempts self-immolation

February 03, 2011 23:46 IST Tags: K Mohanan, Maj Unnikrishnan, Parliament House, New Delhi, Sandeep Unnikrishnan Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  The uncle of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was killed by terrorists during Mumbai [ Images ] attacks, allegedly attempted to set himself afire in front of Parliament House on Wednesday, as he was disturbed over his nephew's death.  K Mohanan, a native of Kozhikode in Kerala [ Images ], poured kerosene on his body and set himself afire outside Gate No 4 of Parliament House near Vijay Chowk at around 6 pm.  People on the spot rushed to his rescue and shifted him to the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital.  The 35-year-old sustained 85 per cent burn injuries and told doctors that he was extremely unhappy after his nephew's death.  Mohanan said he wanted to feel the pain, which Major Unnikrishnan [ Images ] underwent. He also said that he was unhappy at the manner in which the families of the victims had been treated.  Mohanan, who is the younger brother of Sandeep's father, had told his family that he was leaving for Ernakulam but left for New Delhi [ Images ] instead. Major Unnikrishnan's father however refused to comment.  I do not wish to speak about this, he said.  Police have recovered a train ticket and a notebook from him. "From the train ticket, we think that he reached Delhi on January 30," a senior police official said.










Defence Ministry wants ‘security threat region’ tag for Colaba military area 

Sunil Baghel and Alka Shukla  Posted On Friday, February 04, 2011 at 02:04:53 AM  In what looks like a bid to ensure that Adarsh CHS-like situation is not repeated, Ministry of Defence wants the entire Colaba Military Station declared a ‘security threat region’. The idea is to impose restriction on the use of the land in its vicinity and keeping it free of civilian structures. In its affidavit filed in response to a petition filed by Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society at Bombay High Court, the ministry has written that it initiated this procedure under the Works of Defence Act, 1903 by convening a Board of Officers. A convening order was passed on January 8 this year.    The Ministry has maintained that Adarsh is a serious security threat in the post 26/11 scenario. Calling it a ‘private’ society, it said that Adarsh being the tallest building at the entrance of Colaba Military Station, and overlooking military establishments like EME workshop, storage and disbursal depot for petrol oil and lubricants, Army and Navy Supply Depot, it poses grave security risk.  The Defence Ministry has told the Bombay High Court that after the 26/11 terror attacks Adarsh is a serious threat to defence establishment in Colaba The affidavit stated that among other things security concerns could arise as a “potential resident of Adarsh building and their guests, who could be foreign nationals and will not be under the jurisdiction of the Indian Navy or Indian Army Authorities and hence not amenable to security checks.”  Interestingly, the person to have surveyed various sites across the city before the 2008 terror attacks was David Coleman Headless -- a Pakistani American national.  “It may be possible for the residents of this building to observe the number and types of specialist and general purpose vehicles that may be parked in EME workshop from which there availability/serviceability can be analysed,” the affidavit reads. It adds that in as early as June 2003, the then Defence Estate Officer has raised the issue of a security threat with the Collector of Mumbai.  In fact, it mentions that the Occupation Certificate (OC) were issued to Adarsh despite a written request to MMRDA to withhold issuance of OC mentioning security reasons.  In its affidavit, the ministry stated that some local defence officials may have been involved in the scam. “It appears that certain officers belonging to the Defence Estate Office issued letters including a letter falsely stating that the plot was state government land,” it stated. “The CBI enquiry is expected to include a probe into the roles and involvement of officers belonging to the Defence Estate and Armed Forces,” it has said.  Also alleging that Adarsh CHS approached the Court by “wilfully not disclosing relevant and material facts” they are requesting for dismissal of the petition with costs.


















Nishant UAV successfully tested by army ahead of induction

2011-02-04 05:30:00  New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) India's indigenous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Nishant has successfully completed its series of confirmatory trials carried out by the army at the Chandan ranges in Pokhran, Rajasthan, ahead of its induction.  'Nishant, the UAV, has successfully completed the series of confirmatory trials conducted by the Indian Army at Chandan Range Pokharan recently,' a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) release said here Thursday.  Nishant is designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of DRDO that specialises in UAVs, flight control systems and simulators, in partnership with other DRDO laboratories such as Dehradun-based Defence Electronics Applications Laboratory (DEAL), Pune-based Research and Development Establishment (Engineers), and Agra-based Aerial Delivery Research & Development Establishment (ADRDE).  DRDO Chief Controller for Research and Development (Aeronautics and Services Interaction), Dr Prahlada, said the versatile Nishant is capable of being launched from a hydro-pneumatic launcher without the need of a runway.  The launch vehicle can be parked in a safe area and moved to any location for launching whenever required making it very versatile. The system consists of an air vehicle supported by ground control station equipment mounted on Tatra vehicles.  It has endurance up to four-and-half hours and has been designed to facilitate recovery at a desired place with the help of parachutes and landing bags. Nishant can be used in roles like battle field reconnaissance (day and night), surveillance, target tracking and localization and correction of artillery fire.  The payloads that can be carried onboard Nishant for surveillance include electro-optical, electronic intelligence and communication intelligence payloads. It can also be used for counter-insurgency operations.  The successful flight trials were conducted by the army before taking delivery of a set of four Nishants together with ground systems. The trials were witnessed by army's Director General (Artillery) Lt. Gen. Vinod Nayanar, ADE Director P.S. Krishnan and Nishant project director G. Sivasankaran.  'The performance of the pay load sensors in particular has been better than even the imported UAVs with the Army. It is expected that more of such equipment will soon be purchased by the users,' the release added.








Are the Army's Cheetah helicopters death traps? 

Nitin Gokhale, Updated: February 03, 2011 14:14 IST Ads by Google  The Economist Magazine – 12 Issues for Rs. 500/- Subscribe Now or Miss out!  New Delhi:  On Wednesday, a Cheetah helicopter of the Indian Army crashed in a civilian area in Nasik, soon after it took off from an aviation training school. Both pilots on board, young Army Majors died. One leaves behind a three-month-old daughter. The other had been married for six months.  A preliminary probe suggested a "technical snag" in the Cheetah helicopter. Did the Cheetah that crashed in Nasik then become a death trap for Major Atul Garje and Major Bhanu Chandra?  Consider these facts. The Cheetah, bought from France, was inducted into the Indian Army 40 years ago, in 1971. There are about 120 Cheetahs in service right now and most of these helicopters have been stretched beyond their lives.  The airframe life of the light-utility helicopter is about 4,500 hours, but most of the Cheetahs that the Army has have logged over 6,000 flying hours. The engine life of the chopper is 1750 hours and most have gone past that too At any given time, half of these helicopters are AOG (aircraft on ground) or grounded. Supply of spares is a major problem too.    Worse. While the Nasik crash is a jolt and brings focus back on the precarious condition of the choppers, in the Siachen glacier Cheetahs, which have a flying ceiling of 17,000 feet, routinely fly at over 20,000 feet, risking both man and machine.  Almost four years ago, in March 2007, Defence Minister AK Antony had told Parliament that the aging Cheetah fleet would be replaced soon. There has been one cancelled tender since then, some fresh trials, but no decision. In these four years, eight pilots have been killed in Cheetah crashes.










'Menon's visit kicks off intensification of Indo-US ties'

Washington, Feb 2, (PTI):  A series of high-profile visits between India and the US is on the cards in next few months, which would further intensify the Indo-US strategic dialogue.  The Washington visit of National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon last week is seen as a kicked off event for next few months; wherein top officials of the two countries would be discussing on implementing the decisions taken during the November visit of President Barack Obama to India.  During his three day visit beginning January 27, Menon not only had the privilege of meeting Obama, wherein the latter reiterated his personal commitment to strategic partnership with India, but also had luncheon with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, besides having detailed meeting with his American counterpart Tom Donilon.  Menon's trip would be followed by the visit of Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to Washington on February 13 and 14, during which she would meet her American counterpart William Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and other top officials of the US Government.  "This would provide an opportunity to review in greater detail the bilateral aspect of India US relationship," an Indian diplomat said. And before Rao's US trip, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke would be leading a high-profile trade mission to three Indian cities – Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi.  In the first week of March, the Indian Defence Secretary would be coming to Washington for the Defence Policy Group meeting and from March 2nd to March 6th, the US Air Force Chief is scheduled to travel to India.  The Indian Army Chief is also scheduled to travel to the US from March 7 to 13, diplomatic sources said. The most important travel between the two countries would be that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to India in the first week of April for the next round of Strategic Dialogue.  Leading a high-profile delegation of several Cabinet level ministers, she would co-chair the Strategic Dialogue with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna. In April, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is also schedule to visit Washington to attend the annual Spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. But he would also be interacting with his US counterpart Timothy Geithner.  The same month, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would also be travelling to India to launch the India-US Homeland Security Dialogue. This would be in addition to the ongoing co-operation between the two countries on counter-terrorism matters.




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