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Saturday, 19 February 2011

From Today's Papers - 19 Feb 2011

Lt General gets 3-yr RI in ration scam
SK Sahni guilty on 6 charges of professional misconduct Vijay Mohan & Kusum Arora Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, February 18 The General Court Martial (GCM) trying Lt Gen SK Sahni, former Director General, Supplies and Transport, for irregularities in the procurement of dry rations today cashiered him from service and sentenced him to three years rigorous imprisonment.  This is for the first time that an officer of the rank of lieutenant general has been sentenced to cashiering and imprisonment for professional impropriety. Cashiering means dismissal from service without terminal benefits, including pension and gratuity. Sahni was also the first lieutenant general in the Army's history who went on trial before a GCM.  The verdict, however, is subject to confirmation by Chief of the Army Staff and thereafter by the Defence Minister. The court, presided over by Lt Gen Jatinder Singh, had convened in August last. He was held guilty on six of the nine charges of professional impropriety levelled against him. In his defence, he had pleaded not guilty on the grounds that there was no evidence on record against him and had contended procedural lapses in the proceedings.  He had been under arrest since July 31 when his trial commenced at Jalandhar. He faced charges under Sections 52 and 63 of the Army Act for intent to defraud and acts prejudicial to military discipline. These include reversing the tendering process of procurement of pulses, overlooking recommendations of sampling of stocks, omitting to ensure detailed investigations into lapses, failing to ensure checks against the presence of toxic substance in supplies and not freezing such stocks to prevent consumption by troops and failing to ensure timely completion of contracts. The charges also include failure to initiate recovery of the cost of 979 metric tonne of sub-standard rations, of which about 220 tonne was reportedly consumed by the troops.  According to sources familiar with the Army's legal establishment, so far 16 officers of the rank of lieutenant general have faced disciplinary or administrative procedures, though all officers did not end up facing action. There have also been known cases where some very senior officers were asked to put in their papers after some misconduct on their part came to light.  Lt Gen PK Rath, recently faced severe reprimand and 15 years loss of service for the purpose of pension while disciplinary proceedings, which may entail a court martial, are underway against former Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash. The case for his trial is reportedly under consideration by the GOC-in-C, Eastern Command. Both these officers were associated with the Sukna land scam in West Bengal.  General Sahni's case had come to light in 2005 along with that of Lt Gen SK Dahiya, also an Army Service Corps officer of the same seniority. Gen Dahiya, who along with several other officers was held blameworthy for lapses in the procurement of frozen meat for troops, had faced administrative action. A court of inquiry into both these cases was conducted by Headquarters, Western Command, Chandimandir.  General Sahni's case had seen long legal wrangling before the Delhi High Court as well as the Armed Forces Tribunal. He had consistently challenged the proceedings against him. Earlier, citing procedural lapses, the High Court had quashed the original court of inquiry that had held him blameworthy, but had given the Army liberty to initiate fresh proceedings against him.

Retd Lt Gen Sahni jailed for 3 years in rations scam
February 19, 2011 02:41 IST Tags: Sahni, General Court Martial, Court of Inquiry, Gen Jatinder Pal Singh, Controller of Auditor General Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  In the first case of a general- level officer getting a jail term, Lt Gen (Retd) S K Sahni was on Friday sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment and cashiered from service after being found guilty of irregularities in procurement of rations for troops in Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ].  A General Court Martial in Jalandhar [ Images ] found 65-year-old Sahni of the Army Service Corps guilty of procuring sub-standard meat and other dry rations for troops deployed on the Siachen mountains and other high altitude areas in 2005, army sources said on Friday night.  The GCM headed by Lt Gen Jatinder Pal Singh held Sahni, who was then the director general of supplies and transport, guilty under six of the nine charges framed against him in what is known as the rations scam in the army.  Singh retired in 2006. The GCM concluded late this on Friday evening.  Sahni, who is under arrest for the last seven months since the GCM commenced, was also divested of the medals and stars. His plea for bail was rejected.  Cashiering from service would entail the withdrawal of all perks he enjoys as a retired officer of the Indian army [ Images ], including pension.  A Court of Inquiry constituted in 2005 had recommended disciplinary action against Sahni after indicting him in the case.  Among the charges for which Sahni was convicted was the intent to defraud in the procurement of rations. A report by the Controller of Auditor General had paved way for action against Sahni.  The report revealed that soldiers were supplied wheat, rice, pulses and edible oil past their expiry date. The auditor has also found a serious lack of competition in filing of tenders for the purchase of ration.  In fact, it points out that a single vendor bagged contracts for more than 36 per cent of the purchases. It also said that about-to-expire food items were bought at cheaper rates by contractors and then supplied to army units.  On July 10, 2010, the summary of evidence was completed; giving recommendations to continue disciplinary action against General Sahni and orders for general court martial were issued. In this regard, a Court of Inquiry which was constituted in 2005 had recommended disciplinary action against him in connection with the case.  After his retirement from army in 2006, the inquiry was initiated.

Ex-Lt Gen cashiered, sentenced to 3yr RI in Ration Scam
 I P Singh, TNN, Feb 19, 2011, 05.53am IST JALANDHAR: A retired Lt Gen of the Indian Army was cashiered and sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment by General Court Martial (GCM) in the ration scam. The GCM of Lt Gen (retd) SK Sahni was held at the 11 Corps headquarters.  Sahni is the first officer of Lt Gen rank to face GCM post-retirement. He was already under "close arrest" (house arrest) for the last seven months and put under arrest by the Army on July 31 last year, barely a week before GCM proceedings began on August 6. On Friday, the GCM began at 8.30am and concluded after 7 in the evening.  Convicted for "intent to defraud`` in procurement of rations, the GCM held Sahni guilty under six of the nine charges framed against him. The scam pertained to 2005, when Sahni was director, general supplies and transport. He retired in 2006, after putting in around 40 years of service. In this case, Army had invoked special provisions under the Army Act, according to which any retired officer can be called back for court martial proceedings for offences committed during his service tenure that had come to light before or after his superannuation  The GCM found that while a department Court of Inquiry was ordered in procurement of contaminated whole masoor dal, terms of reference were not fixed. The pulse was contaminated by "kesri peas" and "akar" — both banned under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act due to their poisonous nature. The court found him guilty under Section 63 of the Army Act. Another charge proved against Sahni was that he allowed up-gradation of the material supplied even though there was no provision for it under rules. The GCM also held that he had failed to prevent consumption of contaminated dal by troops even when it was known that it was bad for their health. Two other charges pertained to "permitting price reduction in Risk Purchase Contract of kabuli chana``.  Sahni had approached the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) for relief against his prosecution but failed to get any respite. The AFT had asked the Army authorities to conclude the GCM proceedings in a time bound manner.  Six Major Generals were made members of the GCM headed by the Lt Gen Jatinder Singh, who pronounced the sentence. Earlier, Judge Advocate NK Ohri read out the reasons for conviction and the GCM held that with such a long experience in Army Supply Corps (ASC), the officer could not take refuge under any ignorance of rules. The prosecution case was led by advocate DS Ahluwalia of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.  The sentence would be subject to confirmation by the defence ministry. Before pronouncement of the sentence, Sahni`s counsel, while pleading the mitigating circumstances, held that his client had been already under close arrest for around seven months and was in poor medical condition. The period of his close arrest would be included in the 3 year RI.  Interestingly, a cardiac ambulance of the Military Hospital remained parked outside the venue when GCM proceedings were on. Sahni claims to have developed a serious heart ailment and ''a very painful spinal disorder''. It is learnt that he had earlier produced a recommendation of a private cardiologist, that he required a surgical procedure but Army cardiologists had ruled it out.  Charges against Army`s other senior officers  ---- Lt Gen PK Rath: The former commander of 33 Corps, was found guilty in Sukna land scam in which a private contractor was issued a No-Objection Certificate to transfer a 70-acre plot adjacent to the military station in West Bengal's Siliguri district  --- Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash: The former military secretary is also facing charges of fraud in the Sukna land scam  --- Lt Gen SK Dahiya: From Army Service Corps (ASC), he was slapped charges of irregularities in procurement of frozen meat for troops posted in Ladakh  --- Lt Gen AK Nanda: The former engineer-in-chief was accused of sexual assault by the wife of a junior officer, during an official visit to Israel in April 2010. However, he was let off by a Court of Inquiry  --- Maj Gen Anand Swaroop & Maj Gen SP Sinha faced separate charges of irregularities in the purchase of stores in 2009

Be vigilant on Sino-Indian border, Antony tells troops
2011-02-19 05:30:00  Rangapahar (Nagaland), Feb 18 (IANS) Concerned over China's military modernisation and infrastructure build-up along the border, Defence Minister A.K. Antony Friday asked the army to be vigilant and keep a watchful eye on even the smallest developments in and around India's neighbourhood.  Addressing officers and troops at the 3 Corps headquarters here, he also conceded that corruption had dented the image of the army and asked it to ensure that its 'sense of pride and dignity' is 'maintained at all times'.  Antony, who arrived here Friday on a two-day visit to review the security scenario in the region, said that though maintaining peace and tranquility along the border was crucial, the armed forces had to ensure operational preparedness of the highest level.  Antony also urged the military personnel to establish a healthy relationship with the local populace, to win their hearts and minds and to project the army in a positive light.  Conceding that some recent instances of corruption in high places in the army had harmed to its credibility and image, the defence minister described honesty and loyalty as the basic traits of a soldier.  He urged army personnel to ensure that the sense of pride and dignity of the force was maintained at all times.  'I want to emphasise one issue to each one of you. A soldier is the pride of the nation. Honesty and loyalty are the basic traits of a soldier. Some recent instances of corruption in high places in the army have brought some harm to its credibility and image,' he said.  'All of you must perform duties with sincerity and ensure that the sense of pride and dignity of the army is maintained at all times. We will take very strict action whenever any case of corruption comes up or is brought to our notice,' he added.  At an interaction with the soldiers, Antony agreed to a suggestion from them that they be given new boots after every 12 months instead of the existing 26 months.  Antony instructed the defence ministry officials to implement the suggestion immediately.  The soldiers also requested Antony for a chartered air service to Delhi.  The army chief, Gen V.K. Singh, Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, Eastern Army commander Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh and 3 Corps commander Lt. Gen. N.K. Singh were present on the occasion.  Earlier, on arrival at the 3 Corps headquarters, Antony reviewed the security situation along the border and the progress made in infrastructure development in the region with senior army and ministry officials.

Indian defence scientists develop bio-toilets for soldiers
2011-02-19 05:30:00  Bangalore, Feb 18 (IANS) Indian defence scientists have recruited a small army of bacteria and harnessed solar power to build bio-toilets for managing the human waste of soldiers stationed at glaciers and other low temperature areas.  'Human waste disposal in high altitude and low temperature areas is a burning problem,' a spokesman for the Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE) in Gwalior told IANS on phone. 'The problem is further aggravated in glaciers where ambient temperature drops to minus 40 degrees Celsius and lower.'  When left buried in the ice, the low temperature prevents natural biodegradation of waste, leading to their accumulation for a long time. Due to heating by direct sunlight, the melting ice takes the waste to rivers, polluting them as well, scientists said.  Traditional methods of burying human waste or incineration and chemical treatment are not possible in glaciers. Biological treatment is an attractive approach for solving the problem but micro-organisms that decompose the waste in normal temperatures are inactive at freezing temperatures.  Technology developed by DRDE overcomes the problem.  The key to DRDE's bio-toilet technology is a consortium of anaerobic bacteria --organisms which do not require oxygen to live and multiply -- that has been formulated and adopted to work at temperatures as low as five degrees Celsius, the scientists said.  The bacterial consortium acts as inoculum (seed material) to the biodigester converting the organic waste into methane and carbon dioxide. The biodigester buried below the ground serves as a reaction vessel whose temperature is maintained between 5 and 30 degrees Celsius by solar heating. Charging of the biodigester with the bacterial inoculum is done only once during the entire life of bio-toilet.  DRDE scientists say their technology allows the human waste to be disposed of in an eco-friendly manner in places with extremely low temperatures. They claim their process results in treated effluent free from pathogens, and biogas (methane) is generated as a byproduct, which can be used for cooking and room heating.  According to scientists, the biodigester developed by DRDE is suitable for below zero temperatures of the Himalayan region and is maintenance free. Around 90 DRDE bio-toilets have been installed at 24 locations, including several places in Leh, Sikkim and at the Base Camp in Siachen glacier, DRDE said.  The scientists said as a spin-off, the same technology has been used to develop bio-toilets for Indian Railways. These toilets were successfully run on the Gwalior-Barauni Mail for two years and the technology has been transferred to eight firms, scientists said.

Haryana seeks war weapons for museum
2011-02-19 05:30:00  Chandigarh, Feb 18 (IANS) Haryana Finance Minister Ajay Singh Yadav has urged Defence Minister A.K. Antony to allow the armed forces to donate their old and non-functional weapons for the newly constructed Rezangla War Museum and Memorial at Rewari in Haryana.  Yadav has made the request in his letter to the defence minister referring to the Chinese aggression in 1962, when a grave battle was fought at Rezangla Ridge, at a height of 16,000 feet in Ladakh region, a government spokesman said here Friday.  In the fierce battle, 114 soldiers of the Ahir Rifle Company of 13 Kumaon Regiment, most of them from Rewari, Mahendergarh and Gurgaon districts of Haryana, fought the enemy till their last bullets.  Yadav said the brave Indian soldiers killed about 1,300 Chinese soldiers in the battle.  'The soldiers made supreme sacrifices while exhibiting indomitable courage and bravery Nov 18, 1962,' Yadav stated in the letter.  The Rezangla Museum, Haryana's first war museum, was inaugurated Nov 18, 2010, at Rewari.  Yadav requested the defence minister to instruct the army, navy and air force to donate old and non-functional weapons for display at this museum.  He also asked for the inclusion of Vijayanta tanks, artillery guns, aeroplanes and boats in the list.  Haryana has thousands of ex-servicemen and Rewari district alone is home to more than 31,000 ex-servicemen and over 140,00 dependants.

Antony rules out repealing army's special powers in Kashmir
2011-02-19 05:30:00  New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Dismissing demands for withdrawing the special powers of the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister A.K. Antony Thursday said anti-India forces were continuing to push militants into the state from across the border with Pakistan and asked the armed forces not to relax their guard.  'We cannot take any step that will give an opportunity for them (militants) to succeed (in Jammu and Kashmir). On specific thing (of withdrawal of Armed Forces (special Powers) Act [AFSPA], I do not want any public debate on this,' Antony told reporters when asked about the security situation in the border states and if it was time to relax the controversial law that gave wide powers to the defence forces there.  Several political leaders, including Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, have sought partial withdrawal and dilution of the AFSPA in the recent months and the home ministry has indicated that it was already doing a review of the law that provided sweeping powers to the armed forces.  'Our feed back and the inputs we are getting is not giving us comfort because the attempt to infiltrate (into Jammu and Kashmir) is continuing without any let up. Also, inimical forces from across the border, they are trying to send people to Jammu and Kashmir 24X7,' he said on the sidelines of a defence function here.  Noting that the situation in the state was fast improving 'because of various reasons', he said the security forces 'cannot relax and have to be very vigilant'.  'The situation (in Jammu and Kashmir) is fast improving because of various reasons. We are happy about that. There is a remarkable improvement in the ground situation. Militancy has come down substantially,' he said.  The defence minister warned that the security forces 'have to be very careful and it is not the time for relaxation'.  Antony also noted that he was visiting the northeastern states for two days beginning Friday along with army chief General V.K. Singh and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar to interact with the troops and officers there.  He also noted that General Singh was in Jammu and Kashmir a couple of days ago for a review of the security situation.  On the kidnapping of a district collector in Orissa by Maoists Wednesday, Antony said it was a 'very sad thing'.  But he refused to comment further on the issues as the home ministry has already reacted to the incident.  'Already home ministry has reacted. Only one reaction from the government, so I do not want to go beyond that,' he said.  The Maoists have given a 48-hour ultimatum for the government to halt combing operations against Maoists in Orissa for them to release Malkangiri district collector R. Veenel Krishna, who was abducted from Chitrakonda area along with a junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi. This is the first time the rebels have taken an Indian Administrative Service officer hostage in the state.

The Indian Army's Officer Crisis
19 02 2011 0 0   i   Rate This  Quantcast   Robin Jeffrey.  India today has plenty of distractions: ministerial scandal, Maoist insurgency, Kashmir unrest, spiralling food prices, non-functioning parliament. But a deep-seated problem gets overlooked: "the officer crisis in the Indian military".  That's the title of an article by Indian journalist and scholar, Dinesh Kumar, in the most recent issue of the academic journal, South Asia (vol. 33, no. 3, December 2010). It deserves wide reading.  Kumar is not an other-worldly academic or callow graduate student. He was defence correspondent of the Times of India for nine years and resident editor of its edition in Chandigarh, once the heartland of Indian military recruitment, Punjab and Haryana states. He has just finished a PhD dissertation.  There is nothing secret in what Kumar reveals. The facts are public, but they are unconnected and few people are thinking about them. The Big Fact is that the officer corps of the Indian Army is about 25 per cent under strength. Voluntary armies often face recruitment problems, but the Indian Army's predicament is striking. US officer-training academies have been able to hit 95 per cent of their targets in recent years; the Indian Army could manage only 66 per cent of its officer- recruitment target in 2007-08 (Indian Air Force officer recruitment was 11 per cent below target; the Navy, 17 per cent).  In the 1960s and 1970s, a career as an army officer was seen as rewarding and glamorous. The brother of a friend with whom I taught school in Chandigarh in the late 1960s had been promoted to major during the 1965 war with Pakistan. He was barely 30; his family was immensely proud. And there were perks. In old, waiting-list, quota-raj India, the major was the first in our circle to acquire a motorbike, the result of a military quota.  However, in the 20 years since 1991 and the unleashing of Indian capitalism, the attraction of the military has fallen away. Kumar tells us that the last public survey attempting to gauge the popularity of a military career was in 1995. It revealed that among career choices, "the armed forces rank at the bottom".  There is more money and comfort to be had in scores of other occupations. Kumar tells us that a junior officer now starts on a salary of Rs 325,000 a year (about US$7,100 or S$9,000). A bus driver in Singapore starts on a salary about one-third higher. Little wonder that enterprising young Indians choose to take their chances elsewhere. And experienced officers are leaving for more attractive opportunities. Kumar says that ten of the colonels selected to go to the Army War College in 2008 declined because they did not want to accept the condition that they commit themselves to a further five years of service.  As warfare and security operations become both more technical and more dependent on intelligence (with a big and a small "I"), the need for highly trained and motivated officers grows. Without them, a large standing army can become a large and unruly white elephant.

Beri salutes the Indian Army
 Published on February 17, 2011 by admin   ·   No Comments Its all kolkata news, kolkata news live, kolkata news today, kolkata local news update, kolkata online breaking news, Kolkata business news, get kokata entertainment news, kolkata lifestyle news, kolkata political news, kolkata fashion news, kolkata sport news, kolkata fashion week, kolkata fashion fair 2011, political political environment in kolkata      It wаѕ аbουt style, class, float аnԁ οf course thе Indian Army. Coming frοm аn Army background, іt wаѕ Ritu Beri's way οf paying hеr tribute tο thе Army personnel whο hаνе fought fοr ουr country, whісh ɡοt аƖƖ thе more intense whеn Ritu herself walked thе ramp…  Sο unlike thе chic ramps set fοr a usual fashion ѕhοw, thіѕ one wаѕ mаrkеԁ wіth a ԁіffеrеnсе. Wіth flags οf thе Indian Army adorning thе sides οf thе whole stretch οf thе ramp, wіth a literal Army band introduced іn thе middle, іt wаѕ a perfect background tο trigger οff thе night ahead.  WhіƖе Army band wаѕ one, tο pep up thе whole ambience, Ritu аƖѕο hаԁ a host οf small kids, dressed іn Army uniform walking οn thе ramp. Didn't wе ѕау, thіѕ ѕhοw hаԁ a variety οf sorts …  Theme: "I come frοm аn Army background, ѕο іt's nο surprise whу I'm ѕο inspired bу thе Indian Army. Mу dad wаѕ аn Army officer, ѕο I've seen thеіr style аnԁ dressing very closely. Anԁ hence I picked up thіѕ theme 'Tribute tο thе Indian Army'," ѕауѕ Ritu, adding, " AƖѕο, "I rесkοn thе Army uniform іѕ thе mοѕt chic attire, Army men thе best dressed men аnԁ Army culture thе mοѕt sophisticated. Anԁ thаt's аƖƖ thаt fashion іѕ аƖƖ аbουt."  Bυt whіƖе thе inspiration οf designs came frοm thе Army, Ritu сƖаrіfіеԁ, "Please ԁο nοt take thаt factually. I've οnƖу taken inspiration frοm thе Indian Army аnԁ thеn gone ahead аnԁ done mу οwn thing wіth clothes аnԁ designs."  Collection : Considering thе Army, Ritu's collection seemed quite varied аnԁ brіɡht. Thеrе wеrе thе ball gowns, small embroidered dresses, jeans, one-shoulder body-fitting dresses, sleeveless аnԁ thе backless ones tοο, coat dresses, layered аnԁ slit skirts, waistcoats аnԁ jackets. Thе silhouettes аrе contemporary, engineered cuts – a collection οf military inspired coats, high standing collars аnԁ double breasted jackets.  Detailing: Keeping wіth theme, Ritu played well wіth thе οthеr aspects – thе very heavy thread аnԁ bead embroidery done οn thе coats thаt models wore over exceptionally feminine colourful dresses, jeans аnԁ skirts. Wearability quotient seemed tο hаνе bееn given thουɡht tοο.  Embellishments: Fine embroidery bυt іn hυɡе patches mаԁе fοr thе embellishments. Nοt tο miss, thе usual stuff thаt adorns a military coat tοο – hυɡе metal buttons, badges аnԁ medallions.  Colours: WhіƖе thе Army theme mау nοt allow a vast colour palette, bυt Ritu's collection ѕhοwеԁ a ехсеƖƖеnt range here tοο. Colours Ɩіkе military green, khaki, black, blue, red, maroon, gold аnԁ majenta ruled thе stage.  Fabric : Thе fabrics ranged frοm cashmere wool, silk jersey, fur tο stretch velvets, suede аnԁ denims.  Accessories: High-heeled knee-length boots wеrе a highlight. AƖѕο, ехсеƖƖеnt υѕе οf medallions, badges, medal tapes, metal buttons added tο thе style.  Glitzy Front Row: Indian journalist Nalini Singh occupied thе front row next tο designer Leena Singh аnԁ wаѕ spotted chatting away аƖƖ owing tο thе ѕhοw. Beauty guru, Shahnaz Hussain аƖѕο рƖасе up аn appearance bυt wаѕ spotted sitting іn thе second row.  Showstopper: Thе unusual theme hаԁ аn unusual еnԁ. Ritu Beri walked аѕ thе showstopper fοr hеr οwn ѕhοw іn a long tight backless gown thаt wаѕ frilly аt thе bottom. Anԁ аѕ ѕhе walked thе ancient well Ɩονеԁ number ' Ae mere watan ke logon … ' played іn thе backdrop background a somber mood.  Aѕ fοr walking thе ramp herself аnԁ nοt Sushmita Sen, whο wаѕ formerly сhοѕе аѕ thе showstopper fοr thе ѕhοw, Ritu ѕаіԁ, "A showstopper hаѕ tο bе someone whο саn identify wіth thе theme, thе collection аnԁ enhance іtѕ beauty. Anԁ іn view οf thе fact thаt Sushmita Sen comes frοm аn Army background tοο, I thουɡht ѕhе wουƖԁ bе bе apt fοr mу ѕhοw. Bυt ѕhе couldn't bе here today bесаυѕе thе shows ɡοt cancelled οn thе first day аnԁ ѕhе′s a busy woman." Oυr loss!

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