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Saturday, 30 April 2011

From Today's Papers - 30 Apr 2011

Chinese influence in Nepal
A major challenge for India by S.D. Muni  For the past couple of years, India has been trying to get its grip over slippery relations with Nepal. Towards that end, former Foreign Secretary and envoy to Nepal Shyam Saran was sent to Kathmandu in August 2010. This was followed by present foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao’s visit to Nepal in January 2011.  Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna’s three-day visit to Nepal in April (19-22) should be seen in continuation of these visits. Though formally Mr. Krishna had to inaugurate a newly built check-post on the Indo-Nepal border in Birgunj, his main mission was two-fold: to express India’s growing concerns on the security of its stakes in Nepal and to assess the prospects of faltering peace process and constitution making, for which the deadline is only five weeks ahead - May 28t.  The security of India’s interests in Nepal has come under severe pressure; not only due to personal attacks (with stones and shoes) on the Indian Ambassador, but also by defacing of Indian flag, politically inspired breakdowns and disruptions of Indian business establishments, the continuing use of Nepal for the flow of fake currency and terrorists into India and the expanding space of China’s strategic presence in the sensitive neighbour. Krishna articulated these concerns strongly and frankly to his Nepali interlocutors and pressed Nepal to move forward on the India-initiated pending proposals of tying up loose ends in this regard, including the conclusion of bilateral Treaties of Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance. Maoists being the principal driving force behind the attacks on The Indian Ambassador and business establishments, Mr Krishna forcefully conveyed India’s displeasure while talking to Maoist supremo Prachanda.  Mr Prachanda reassured Mr Krishna that the Maoists valued the importance of constructive engagement with India, but without mincing matters regarding his party’s reservations on India’s interference in Nepal against the Maoists since 2008, specially during the various rounds of elections For the Prime Minister in 2010.  The prospects of the peace process and constitution making in Nepal are passing through a dismal transition. Failure to accomplish these tasks by the deadline of May 28, may create a highly unstable and chaotic situation in Nepal with unwelcome adversary implications for India. The breakdown of consensus among major political parties and internal fragmentation within these parties on account of ideological differences and competing power ambitions of the key party leaders are the reasons behind the prevailing political stalemate. While the peace process is stuck on the question of integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist armed cadres, constitution making is held up due to unresolved power-sharing among the principal stakeholders and the resulting breakdown of national consensus on critical issues of federalism, nature of the executive and the basic structure of the polity.  Days before Mr Krishna’s visit to Kathmandu, indications of a positive turn in Nepal’s political situation had emerged. Internal tussle within the Nepali Congress, between its President Sushil Koirala and former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, on the question of Working Committee nominations had been resolved amicably. Similarly, Maoist leader Prachanda had distanced himself from the party’s line of “people’s revolt” and come out with a new document for speeding up the “peace process” and “constitution making”. This was the result of his swing away from his hardline mentor and Vice- Chairman Mohan Baidya, and towards the balanced and moderate ideologue, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai.  Mr Prachanda also realises that realistically, it is fool-hardy to resort to a second “peoples war” in Nepal now.  It may be recalled that the Maoists shift from the “people’s war” to democratic mainstreaming during 2005-06 had been led by the Prachanda-Baburam duo. There have also been signs of softening between the Nepali Congress and the Maoists. While Mr Baburam has been openly asking for the Maoists and the Nepali Congress to work together, the Nepali Congress hardliners are also realising that the Maoists demand for the integration of their armed cadres need to be considered carefully.  How can the process of mainstreaming the Maoists be accomplished without proper rehabilitation of their militant cadres? Some in the Nepali Congress are willing to accommodate as much as 6000 of these cadres through the integration in security forces. There is now even a proposal formally advanced by the Nepali Army for integration of militant cadres, and the response of the Maoists to this proposal so far has not been negative.  Mr Krishna in his public pronouncements had pleaded for the completion of the peace process and constitution making. He also underlined the need and significance of political consensus among Nepal’s political parties towards that end. The extent to which his parleys with the political leaders focused on this process and will help in advancing it will be known only when political moves of these leaders unfold in Nepal in the weeks to come. Mr Krishna has been assured by the Maoists that they do not have a policy to hurt India’s interests in Nepal. There are reasons to believe that the Maoist attacks on Indian diplomats and business establishments have mostly been in reaction to their perception that India wants to keep them on the margins of power-structure in Nepal.  These perceptions were reinforced by the outcome of the visits of Mr Shyam Saran and MsNirupama Rao in the midst of prime ministerial elections.  The Maoists are the largest party in the Constituent Assembly and they think that they should legitimately be accepted to lead any coalition government. They want India to be helpful by remaining at least neutral, if not supportive, to their claims in the process of government formation in Nepal. One does not know if there has been any change in India’s stance in this respect. The Maoists should be expected to change their calibrated hostility towards the Indian establishments in Nepal if Mr Krishna has succeeded in impressing upon the Maoists that India indeed wishes them well. But has he?  There have been unmistakable signs of China expanding its presence and influence in Nepal. The latest evidence of this was provided by the visit of a powerful Chinese military delegation to Nepal in March (23-26) under the leadership of the PLA chief, General Chen Bingde. An MoU was signed during his visit offering Chinese assistance of $19.9 mn to Nepal for medical equipment and construction machinery.  Mr Krishna must have explored the extent of growing Chinese influence in Nepal, particularly during his talks with President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Khanal and Nepal’s army chief General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung.  Indian policy makers must accept the hard reality that the assertion of influence by a rising China in Asia, including in India’s sensitive neighbourhood, is inevitable and Indian diplomacy has to equip itself strategically, politically and economically to face that reality. In a country like Nepal, it is the deficiencies and failures of Indian diplomacy that will be exploited by an assertive China to its advantage with the help of all those Nepali political forces that feel alienated from India.  The writer is Visiting Research Professor, Institute for South Asian Studies, Singapore

Antony to go on western front visit
NEW DELHI: Even as the Army has launched a major combat exercise in the Thar desert to practice "high tempo" operations, defence minister A K Antony will be visiting Rajasthan on Monday to review operational preparedness of Indian troops along the western front with Pakistan.  Accompanied by Army chief General V K Singh and defence secretary Pradeep Kumar, Antony will tour the forward areas, review the border infrastructure and interact with soldiers.  As reported by TOI earlier, the Army is conducting the "Vijayee Bhava" (Be Victorious) exercise in Suratgarh region to finetune its "pro-active" war strategy.  The main formation taking part in the simulated wargames, under "a NBC (nuclear, chemical, biological) overhang", is the armoured corps-intensive 2 Corps, considered to be the most crucial of the Army's three principal "strike" formations tasked with virtually cutting Pakistan into two during a full-fledged war.

Self-inflicted afflictions
Mohammad Jamil  Whether it was the decision to enter into defence pacts with the West; becoming frontline state during Afghan jihad or joining the war on terror with the US, our civil and military bureaucracy and inept political eminences in the past have had the penchant for self-inflicted affliction. During 1965 and 1971 wars with India, the uselessness of the defence pacts had become obvious, yet our leaders did not abandon the policy of putting all eggs in one basket. Now they have also bought some of our anchorpersons, analysts and ‘brilliant’ panelists, who advise Pakistan to obey the super power, even if it is against our national interest. It is well thought out policy that WikiLeaks disclosures are made whenever they wish to put Pakistan on the mat. According to recent WikiLeaks’ leaks, the US authorities described Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency as a terrorist organization. The leaked documents distributed by WikiLeaks website stated that “the US saw the ISI as a threat at par with al-Qaeda and the Taliban”. Can these ‘eminences’ understand that the US after facing defeat in Afghanistan is planning to make Pakistan a whipping boy? And god forbid if anything happens to Pakistan, they all stand to lose.  On our home front, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s tirade against the ISI for intervening in politics provided further ‘ammunition’ to America’s arsenal. It is of course duty of the politicians, writers, analysts and media to criticize and even condemn when pillars of the state and/or institutions transgress their limits and encroach upon other’s domains. Some media men while flaunting their independence are carried away by the newly found freedom of speech, and wittingly or unwittingly act in a manner that brings ignominy to the country and its national institutions. We do not hold brief for the military or intelligence agencies, but to accuse the military or agencies of supporting some political parties without any evidence is downright vulgar. Anyhow, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday categorically stated that the country’s intelligence agencies were subservient to the government and act under government’s instructions and guidance. Speaking in the National Assembly, the prime minister said the country’s institutions should not be looked at with suspicion, adding, whatever the intelligence agencies including ISI do it is on the government’s instructions.  It has to be mentioned that after 2008 elections the PPP-led government had tried to bring the ISI under ministry of interior on the behest of Pentagon or US administration to make it ineffective. For some weeks now Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of PML-N has started a smearing campaign against the ISI, not realizing that the agency is trying to identify the CIA and Blackwater operatives roaming around the cities of Pakistan. Anyhow, Chaudhry Nisar is once again playing hawk; but the PML-N is likely to lose the support of the people, as it already stands isolated whereby there is hardly a political party of substance that stands with it. According to reports, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was the one who had advised Mian Nawaz Sharif to act tough with civil and military bureaucracy. Of course, Mian Nawaz Sharif got rid of a President, two army chiefs and one chief justice, but ultimately wasted 10 years of his prime life in exile. The timing of Chaudhry Nisar Ali’s tirade against the ISI is also wrong when the US has already opened the front with the ISI especially after the Raymond Davis case. Anyhow, the people of Pakistan are angry over the insults being inflicted on this nation by the Americans so blithely.  One is astonished to hear some anchor persons on Pakistani channels saying that “America has a point when it says that Pakistan is only conducting military operation on the militants that pose threat to Pakistan but turns a blind to the Haqqani network holed in North Waziristan”. Any patriotic Pakistan would argue that when America and India, who have no borders with Afghanistan, wish to protect their strategic interests in Afghanistan, what is wrong for Pakistan to desire a friendly government next door, which is logical and reasonable. Pakistan, indeed, has genuine concern, as Afghanistan was the only country that had voted against Pakistan’s membership in United Nations in 1947, and except for a brief period of Taliban era, the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan remained strained. Yet our pseudo-intellectuals smirk and insinuate Pakistan for finding strategic depth in Afghanistan, which has never been an official policy. Of course, some defence analysts have been using the term but not to convey that Pakistan should maneuver to have a govt of its choice in Afghanistan.  There are indeed patriotic elements in Pakistani print and electronic media who are aware of their national responsibility, and they do not project our enemies’ point of view. But there are others who are chivalrous and obstreperous as a result of the newfound media freedom. Pseudo-intellectuals and a few politicians also continue to spread despondency in a bid to prove that Pakistan is a failed state, at a time when India is trying to get Pakistan the stigma of a state supporting and promoting terrorism. However, it is only the urban-centric anchorpersons and their ‘brilliant’ panelists that remain preoccupied with proving each and every act of the government, military and intelligence agencies wrong. During their TV programmes, they take bleeper from Indian journalists who support their government on every count, but our ‘intelligentsia’ does not feel qualms over denigrating Pakistan. These anchorpersons and analysts often badmouth the military while discussing Martial Laws of the past, though elected governments, civilian and military dictators were responsible in equal measure for having brought the country to the present pass. There is a perception that elements at the social pyramid - the educated class, pseudo-intellectuals, or intelligentsia both Mandarins and Resistantes - have not performed their rightful duty of providing adequate leads to the overwhelming illiterate and immensely religious hoi polloi.  However, the irresponsible minority needs strong sanctions from within the media to protect the good name and integrity of those who act responsibly. Media in the past had played prodigious role during Pakistan movement in uniting the Muslims of the subcontinent. And it was because of this unity that Muslims of the undivided India were able to carve out a separate homeland under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam. During 1965 war also, the media had made a commendable contribution towards uniting the nation and boosting the morale of the armed forces.  The result was that Pakistan could resist and repulse attack by India - much larger in size and having enormous resources. At this point in time when Pakistan is confronting challenges to its internal and external security, Pakistani media men should rise to the occasion and play their role to counter hostile Indian and western propaganda and protect national interests. It is not being suggested that they should become embedded journalists and hold brief for the government, military or intelligence agencies, but should act in a responsible manner, which is emblematic of patriotism.

India to choose fighter jets made in Europe, not US
Dubai: To the surprise of some, India has brushed aside tenders from US and Russian manufacturers to award the $12 billion (Dh44.04 billion) deal to supply 126 multi-role fighter aircraft to European firms.  In the tough bidding process for a contract that is being seen as one of the decade's biggest, New Delhi has short-listed the Rafale, made by France's Dassault Aviation, and the Eurofighter Typhoon, built by European Aeronautic Defence and Space, a consortium of Spain, Germany, Britain's BAE Systems and Italy's Finmeccanica.  Incidentally, the Rafale and the Eurofighter are seeing action over the skies of Libya as part of Nato's military campaign.  Speaking to Gulf News, Laxman Behera, Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, a New Delhi-based think-tank, said India's move was a "big blow" to the US. "When there is international bidding, involving multiple foreign companies, the stakes are very high. It is very competitive. The final decision is a big blow to the prestige of the US companies."  Surprising  According to Behera, the Indian Air Force had listed more than 600 parameters to evaluate the aircraft. But he said he found it difficult to believe a highly advanced fighter jet like Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet could not pass the test. "It took a long time, as the aircraft had to be tested in different climatic conditions. But it is a bit difficult to digest that Boeing was excluded. It is surprising."  American ambassador to India Timothy Roemer, who announced on Thursday that he was resigning for "personal reasons", said the US government was "deeply disappointed" by the decision.  But asked about the implications of the deal on New Delhi's growing strategic and economic relationship with Washington, Behera said he did not believe there would be a negative impact in the long term. "It was a big contract. And the US administration was trying hard to persuade the Indian government. There will be some short-term bitterness. But in the long-term, I don't think it will have much impact. In the past four to five years, US companies have been awarded many big defence contracts. In any case, no company has the liberty to ignore the Indian market."  Spending spree  Indeed, India has been on a spending spree, lately. The country's defence budget for the fiscal year which ended in March rose by more than 11 per cent, to $36.28 billion.  Defence experts believe India will spend between $50-80 billion on armaments in the next five years. The army is looking for artillery while the air force will be shopping mainly for attack helicopters. And a significant portion of that is likely to go to US weapons manufacturers.  India's traditional arms supplier, Russia, also lost out on the deal, when its MiG-35 was rejected. "The MiG-35 didn't stand a chance. It was least likely to be selected. It was not up to the task," said Behera.  Reputation problem  The MiGs also have a reputation problem in India, with the MiG-21s being branded "flying coffins" as a result of the deaths of numerous Indian Air Force pilots in crashes.  Sweden's Saab Gripen and Lockheed's F-16 Super Viper were also in contention.

BAE Systems cries foul, skips tender for IA's artillery programme new
New Delhi: India's notorious defence procurement system received another nasty jolt with global defence major BAE Systems today pulling out of the ministry of defence's (MoD) tender for the supply of 400 towed artillery guns to the Indian Army (IA).  Bofors FH-77B L52BAE was offering a more advanced version of the older FH-77B Bofors guns, which performed very credibly in the IA's campaign in Kargil in Kashmir, but forever retained the taint of an earlier scandal concerning their acquisition.  BAE Systems now owns Bofors.  Apparently, the decision was arrived at after the company realised that new tender specifications contained technical and performance relaxations that would allow less capable weapon systems to enter the competition and thereby reduce the competitive advantage of their FH-77B05 L52 gun.  According to BAE spokesperson, Guy Douglas, "BAE Systems has, after very careful consideration, come to the conclusion that the company will not submit a proposal. The ministry of defence has been informed," he added.  The 155mm .52 calibre towed howitzers intended to be offered by the BAE Systems is an upgraded version of the Bofors guns inducted into the army in the late 1980s. Today was the last date of submission for bids, and the company skipped the opportunity.  The tender for the towed guns is one of the most jinxed of all of MoD's acquisition programmes and has badly impaired the Indian Army's artillery modernisation programme. This is the army's fifth attempt to get an acquisition programme underway.  Douglas said the decision not to bid is a "commercial one" based on the high investment costs required to participate in a complex artillery competition of this nature, where the win probability has been reduced.  The last tender was cancelled after Singapore Technologies, one of the two participating companies in the deal, was blacklisted by the ministry of defence following corruption allegations.  Douglas however made it clear that the company's commitment to India and the development of India's domestic defence industry remained "resolute."  Indian plans to induct the Ultra-light Howitzers, manufactured by BAE Systems in America, has also run into some trouble with allegations that the gun has failed to meet the exacting requirements of the army. The procurement was supposed to be done through the Foreign Military Sales route.  Under its Rs20,000 crore artillery modernisation plan, the army is looking to induct different types of howitzers including towed and self-propelled.

Antony to visit Rajasthan ahead of Army war games
NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian Defence Minister A K Antony will visit Rajasthan on Monday to review operational preparedness of the troops along the Pakistan border ahead of the Army war games to be held there.  "During the one-day visit, the Defence Minister will visit the forward locations in western desert and interact with the personnel deployed there," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here Friday.  At one of the forward locations along the border, the Defence Minister will be briefed about the infrastructure created and other requirements of the troops there.  The Defence Minister will also visit the Jaisalmer military station where he will be briefed by Southern Army Commander Lt Gen A K Singh about the operational preparedness and issues relating to the Pune-based Southern Command.  Indian Army Chief General V K Singh, Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and various other senior military officials will accompany the Defence Minister during the visit.  Antony's visit comes a week before the Army starts its Division-level exercise codenamed 'Operation Vijayee Bhava' to validate its concepts and war-fighting doctrines.  The exercise would be held well inside the border where all fighting arms of the Indian Army including the artillery, armoured columns including tanks and mechanised vehicles will take part in it, sources said.  As part of war-fighting arrangements, the Indian Army has put its three Strike Corps, which are supposed to strike and enter enemy territories in case of war, under three different commands.  During such exercises, the formations evolve and practice battlefield tactics for different warfare scenarios for a conventional conflict with the adversaries.

Soldier kills 4 colleagues
Srinagar, April 28: An army havildar turned his service rifle on his colleagues inside their camp in a south Kashmir village today, killing a junior commissioned officer and three troopers.  Defence spokesperson Lt Colonel J.S. Brar said this was the first big incident of fratricide in two years in the Valley. In Jammu, however, a soldier was killed by a colleague last month.  Sources said havildar Abhay Kumar of the 42 Rashtriya Rifles ran amok inside his camp at Panjpora village in Anantnag early this morning. Brar said Kumar opened fire for “unexplained reasons”.  But a police officer said Kumar had an altercation with some colleagues. He identified the slain junior commissioned officer as Jaipal Singh. The three jawans, most of whom reportedly died on the spot, were not identified. Kumar was overpowered by his colleagues and arrested.  “One jawan was injured and was evacuated to the base hospital in Srinagar where he is stated to be out of danger. Havildar Abhay is in military custody,” Brar said.  The army has ordered a probe. “This incident is an aberration, the first in the past two years (in the Valley). Now that it has taken place, we will take more remedial measures when the inquiry report comes out,” Brar said.  Last month, havildar Chittar Bahadur of the 2/5 Gorkha Rifles was killed by a colleague in the Mendhar area of Jammu’s Poonch.  Generally, incidents of fratricide in the army have declined across the country, from 13 in 2006 to one in 2009, though a handful were reported last year.  Spokesperson Brar said the army had in the past few years put in place stress- management measures — such as constant counselling by superiors and religious preachers, regular rest, yoga and recreation — but conceded that counter-insurgency operations were stressful.  Other officers said the jawans had to maintain continuous vigil to tackle infiltration and militancy which, along with domestic problems, could increase stress and lead to fratricides, even suicides.  “We have been on the job to ensure a stress-free environment for the jawans. In this case, it will be ensured the truth comes to light and suitable measures instituted to prevent any recurrence of such incidents,” Brar said.  The army has also taken tough action against the soldiers involved in such incidents.  A general court martial had in 2007 sentenced sepoy K.C. Behra to death for killing an officer, Lt Colonel Saket Saxena. Life terms were given in other cases.

Centre pumps in Rs1,500 crore for advanced drones
The Centre has approved a budget of Rs1,500 crore for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop India’s latest unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Rustom-H. This was disclosed by the chief controller, research and development of DRDO, W Selvamurthy, in Pune on Thursday.  He was speaking at a press meet held on the sidelines of the second national symposium on robotics and autonomous vehicles held at the Research and Development Establishment, Engineers, R&DE (E).  Selvamurthy said the Rustom-H would be India’s latest medium altitude (20 km), long range (24 hours endurance) and heavy payload (500 kg) UAV and would be developed over five years. “We are keen to develop a micro UAV the size of a cockroach,’’ he added.  Emphasising that future wars would increasingly see the use of unmanned vehicles, Selvamurthy said the US Army had projected that by 2035, one-third of their hardware would comprise only unmanned vehicles.  The Rustom-H would be developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment, a Bangalore-based DRDO laboratory. Selvamurthy said a special UAV centre would be soon developed in Chitradurga (Karnataka) to facilitate all test flights and demonstrations of Rustom-H and other UAVs of the future.  On the Agni-5 missile, Selvamurthy said it would have a range of 5,000 km and would be test-fired in March 2012. Two variants of the light combat aircraft Tejas, one a trainer and the other a naval aircraft, would also be developed. Also on the DRDO’s drawing board is an advanced medium combat aircraft.  He said DRDO, which had delivered 101 Arjun main battle tanks (MBTs) to the army, had received orders for another 124 tanks. The newer version of the Arjun MBT-II with 13 new features would be ready for formal demonstration in June 2012. The new features include better missile firing capability, better penetration of ammunition and thermal lighting for the tank commanders.

Brigadier digs out old maps of building plot
MUMBAI: In a new twist to the Adarsh case, Brigadier Deepak Saxena, General Officer Commanding (Army) on Thursday filed another affidavit before the two-member judicial commission, which is probing the Colaba housing society scam, stating that the Army has more information on the status of the Adarsh plot. The affidavit stated that the Army had accessed old maps dating back to the early 1900s from its archives, which show the land on which the controversial 31-storey residential tower stands.  But even as the affidavit was taken on record by the state-appointed judicial panel—led by retired high court judge J A Patil and former state chief secretary P Subramanyam—another lawyer stood up saying he represented the Union of India . He, too, wanted to file an affidavit for the Ministry of Defence (MoD). All parties and their lawyers were caught off guard and there was confusion about who and which departments were representing the government of India.  Meanwhile, the housing society's lawyers Manish Desai and Saket Mone questioned Saxena's authority as did the commission's lawyer Dipan Merchant . They also filed two applications requesting the Centre, state government and Geeta Kashyap who is the Defence Estate Officer, to file affidavits. The society wants to cross-examine concerned officers.  Saxena's counsel Dhiren Shah sought time to file a reply to the society's application, and the matter was moved to Monday. The commission's counsel Dipan Merchant who was all set to crossexamine Saxena on Thursday said he would like all the affidavits and documents in place before questioning the brigadier. Anil Sakhare, counsel for the state, said that even the Maharashtra government would like to file affidavits.  The commission has made it clear to both the state and Centre that no further extension will be granted beyond May 2 for filing affidavits.

GOC in Myanmar for liaison meeting
Imphal, April 28 2011: The 43rd Indo-Myanmar border liaison meeting between Indian Army officers and Myanmarese Army officers has begun from today at Myanmar.  The meeting will continue till May 2 .  According to a statement issued by PIB Defence Wing, a 12-member Indian Army delegation under the aegis of HQ 3 Corps led by Major General DS Hooda, AVSM, VSM, GOC HQ 57 Mountain Division left today for Myanmar to attend the meeting.  The Indo-Myanmar border liaison meeting is a landmark event where representatives of both the Armies interact and exchange views on matters relating to security of border areas and measures to be initiated to control insurgency in both countries.  The event also gives an opportunity to all the delegates to know each other personally and help in further strengthening the friendly bond and co-operation between the two countries, the statement added.    DS Hooda and his counter part at Myanmar, with the flags of the respective country   Meanwhile, Red Shield Division of India Army has today handed over earth moving machineries to the Myanmarese Army.  This gesture of the Indian Army to assistance Myanmar in road construction is expected to strengthen co-operation between the two neighbours for future growth and and an amiable relationship, PIB Defence Wing said in another statement.  In a simple ceremony organised at 31 Assam Rifles location at the border town of Moreh, Major Gen Hooda, AVSM, VSM, GOC of Red Shield Division handed over two Tata JCBs (Back Hoes) to Brig Gen Aung San Chit, Commander RCC, Kalay of Myanmar Army.  A number of Indian Army officers, who are part of the Indian delegation, Myanmarese Army officials and civilians of Moreh attended the function.

US Army to have its own app store, Should Indian army follow ?
The application store will have apps that are intended to help soldiers accomplish every day army-related tasks. Should the Indian army, which is in the process of setting up its own wireless network, take similar initiative?  Soon the US Army will deploy its own mobile application store. Dubbed the Army Marketplace, it will initially feature 17 Android and 16 iPhone apps intended to help soldiers accomplish every day job-related tasks.  Apps included in the store have a wide range of utility. There's a workout guide, an app for disaster relief that lets users create, edit, and search maps using Google Earth, and another that lets soldiers connect with the Army's command post software in order to learn where firefights and bombings are occuring.  The Army Marketplace is also intended to encourage the development of new apps. In a forum within the Marketplace, Army personnel will be able to discuss potential apps. Ideally, the Army wants these apps to be developed in-house, but if not, it could contract third-party developers.  The Army Marketplace will not be open to the public. It is scheduled to be hosted on the Department of Defense's secure server and access will require a username and password.  The US Army is also developing an Android smartphone especially for its soldiers, who will be allowed to access the Army Marketplace via a native app.  The Indian Air Force is in the process of deploying its own wireless network, and the Army and Navy will join soon.  Therefore, it won't be difficult for them to have their own smartphone and application store.  This will prove to be icing on the cake as it will reduce the hassle in communication in a very cost effective way. Also, the phone is like the Swiss Army Knife of communication and computing.

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