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Sunday, 29 May 2011

From Today's Papers - 29 May 2011

Raze terror camps to take ties forward: Antony to Pak
US military aid to Pak being used against us, says Defence Minister
Kannur, May 28 For better relations with India, Pakistan will have to dismantle the terror camps on its soil, Defence Minister AK Antony said on Saturday pointing out that friends can be changed but not neighbours.  Antony expressed concern over the fact that the arms supplied by America to Pakistan in the name of fighting terror in Afghanistan were being used against India. “The US military aid to Pakistan is being used against us. We have brought this to the notice of authorities in Washington,” he said.  India’s grievance with Pakistan was that about 42 terrorist camps were functioning in that country, Antony told reporters here.  “Without destroying these terrorist camps, it would be difficult to have permanent cooperation in Indo-Pak relations,” he said.  Antony said India wants to have good relations with Pakistan. “Dialogue is an important factor. Without dialogue nothing can be achieved,” he said. Antony said government’s stand was clear that it wants to maintain cordial ties with all its neighbours. “We can change our friends, but we cannot change our neighbours,” he said. — Agencies

Rare medical procedure saves 116 babies
Chandimandir hospital leads the way in foetus’ blood transfusion Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, May 28 Pioneering a rare medical procedure involving transfusion of blood into the veins of a foetus, the Army Medical Corps (AMC) has rekindled hope for Rh-isoimmunised women to achieve motherhood. Foetal blood transfusion is a delicate and tricky process that involves inserting a 15-cm-long needle into the umbilical vein of the umbilical cord inside the womb through ultrasound guidance.  A foetal therapy centre has now been set up at the Command Hospital, Chandimandir, which is among the half a dozen centres, including civilian clinics cross the country. This centre has over the past few months of its existence, helped save 24 foetus from sure death. Since foetal transfusion was introduced in the AMC, as many as 116 foetuses have been “salvaged” through 225 instances of transfusion. The vast majority of these cases were handled by a single doctor.  “Rh-isoimmunisation occurs when an Rh-negative woman married to a Rh-positive person and carries an Rh-positive baby. The mother forms Rh-antibodies against Rh-positive cells that cross over into the foetus and start destroying its Rh-positive blood cells, thereby leading to severe anaemia and ultimately death,” explained Col Devendra Arora, a gynaecologist at the hospital who has pioneered this procedure in the armed forces.  There are two methods of transfusion, the easier way being inserting a needle in the foetus’ abdomen, but then its not sure whether blood would reach the veins. The other, which we are using, is directly infusing blood in the foetus’ veins through the umbilical cord (intra-vascular), Col Arora said. The sole Army doctor performing this procedure, he has recently trained another Army doctor to perform this procedure. This procedure has been performed on a foetus as small as 18 weeks. At this stage, a foetus is just about four inches and weighs about 150 gm.  The hospital Commandant, Major-General AD Mathur said that transfusing blood into such a small foetus inside a womb is an extremely difficult and delicate task that requires intense and specialised training. Stating that the AMC holds the national record in intra-vascular transfusion, he added that the Command Hospital ha now been recognised as the national referral centre for the entire armed forces. The hospital is expected to shortly start a training programme in this procedure for other doctors.

Disability pension for Major discharged for mental disorder
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, May 28 A decade after a Major who served with the Special Forces was invalided out of the Army for a “psychiatric disorder”, the Armed Forces Tribunal has ruled that his medical condition was attributable to and aggravated by the military service and, hence, he was entitled to disability pension.  An AFT Bench comprising Justice Ghanshyam Prashad and Lt-Gen HS Panag has held that in view of the long and concentrated operational profile of the Major, he fulfilled all ingredients for grant of disability pension.  The petitioner was a third generation Special Forces officer who was commissioned in 1991. After predominantly field and highly active service, he was invalided out in January 2001 with a little over nine years of service “on account of an ambiguous disability termed as a personality disorder”.  The Army had declared that his disorder was constitutional and neither attributable to nor aggravated by the military service. Hence, he was denied the benefit of disability pension. He was also not allowed to complete 10 years of service that would have entitled him to invalid pension.  In his petition, the officer had contended that in 2000, his Commanding Officer had, after a heated discussion on operational aspects of the Operation Vijay, referred him to the Military Hospital at Leh calling his behaviour as “abnormal”. He was ultimately transferred to the Base Hospital at Delhi through the Command Hospital, Chandimandir, where his case was initiated for invalidation.

Can the Army win the hearts and minds of people ? Gautam Sen  For almost three decades , the Indian Army has been running a `Sadbhavna` programme in Jammu & Kashmir and in the North East, aimed at generating goodwill for the Armed Forces and eventually the Indian State. People affected by militancy and anti-national insurgents are the target of the programme.  The expenditure is funded from the Revenue Budget of the Army and has been of the order of Rs 45 crores, Rs 31 crores and Rs 44 crores in the years 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively in Jammu & Kashmir alone. The North East component has been approximately Rs. 15 crores each year on an average during the same  period.  Activities funded under `Sadbhavna` include excursions by school children from far-flung districts and interior areas to places of interest outside the region, to places like Agra, Mumbai, Chandigarh and New Delhi. The Army has also been associated with the running of schools and vocational training centres for people, particularly women.  Impressive on paper  There are two Army Goodwill Public Schools (AGPS), schools of excellence with modern facilities, in Jammu & Kashmir. Many other projects involving construction of public facilities like  shelters for people boarding buses, community centres, culverts and small bridges, playgrounds and development of water sources have also been executed. Nearly one thousand micro-hydel projects were also taken up in the early part of the last decade.  On paper, therefore, the scope of `Sadbhavna` appears impressive. The annual expenditure of Rs. 60 crores or so on ‘Sadbhavna’, against a huge Army Revenue Budget of nearly Rs. 62 thousand crores and more every year, appears extremely reasonable and far from being a costly proposition. But a closer scrutiny reveals some disturbing aspects.  Contradictions  The programme is executed by troops and field units while the stores are procured from the civil market with some quantity also taken from unit holdings. The deployment of combatant forces for such activities is said to detract from their normal role.  The Service Chiefs have been periodically harping on the need to keep the defence forces away from civil activities. In the interest of more effective deployment of manpower on their primary duties, the Army`s involvement in `Sadbhavna`, also needs a review.  The expenditure and impact of `Sadbhavna`has never been  appraised in its totality. The expenditure on the labour put in by soldiers, the cost of deployment of unit stores and depreciation of machinery, vehicles etc. may not be insignificant if calculated precisely.  Any programme has to be appraised from the point of view its outcome. In case of `Sadbhavna`, this is all the more necessary because a unique task of winning the hearts and minds of people affected by militancy and foreign-inspired insurgency has been given to the Army, which is already overburdened with security responsibilities  At loggerheads  Sharp differences have often surfaced between the state administration and the Army Command and Corps when `Sadbhavna`plans are drawn up. While in many of the militancy affected interiors of Jammu & Kashmir, the Army has indeed taken up relevant projects, this has not always been the case . The Army has also taken up projects which they have found convenient to undertake. The views of the State Govt. have not always been considered while selecting project sites or on machinery installed like pump sets, wells or on power generating systems.    Advice given to the Northern Command to draw up an Annual Work Plan with the Jammu & Kashmir Govt. so that the projects are sustained subsequently by the State Govt. with its own resources, have not had a favourable response from the Army. As a result, after construction, many projects ( including micro-hydel units ) are  languishing due to lack of proper maintenance by the State Govt. or local authorities. In many cases the Army continues to maintain and operate `Sadbhavna` assets.  Urban bias  The tendency is to take up projects in urban areas or those involving large outlays. The purpose to nurture projects which can bear fruit in a short time, with visible outcome and at low cost, also tends to get defeated.  This writer had an interesting experience  while functioning as Internal Financial Adviser at Army HQs. The then Governor of the state ( who was an ex-Director of IB), once suggested that the Army take up construction of two toilets in each of the fifty odd schools identified by the Nagaland Government. Anticipated expenditure was a paltry Rs. 50,000/- per school. But the suggestion met with stiff resistance from the Dimapur-based Corps Commander. The Army was more interested in Assam Rifles under its command taking up projects in urban centres like Dimapur because that would have been easier to execute and would also have given them better publicity. It was finally at the intervention of the then Vice Chief of Army Staff that the project was implemented.  While `Sadbhavna`as a special intervention can indeed be useful, it has to be ensured that the  Army and the State Govts.  work closely together.  The author is a retired Principal Controller of Defence Accounts

173 UN peacekeepers lost their lives in 2010: Ban Ki-Moon
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in his message on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers has said that last year 173 peacekeepers lost their lives due to natural disasters, violence, accidents and disease.  The tragedies that have befallen on the United Nations peacekeepers this year are a sobering reminder of the risks entailed in their important work for peace, UN Secretary-General said.
"As we mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on May 29, we pay tribute to more than 120,000 military, police and civilians serving worldwide under the blue flag and remember those who lost their lives in the cause of peace," he said.  In recent months, the United Nations has suffered a series of tragedies in rapid succession, he said adding that in early April seven personnel were murdered in an attack on a UN compound in Afghanistan, according to the UN Information Center's (UNIC) press release.  Just a few days later, 32 lives, many of them UN staff, were lost in the crash of a plane serving the United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it said.     These incidents added to others involving fatalities around the world, and followed the painful events of last year, when 173 peacekeepers lost their lives due to natural disasters, violence, accidents and disease, including more than 100 in the single, terrible blow of the January earthquake in Haiti.

Pakistan's defence secretary in India for Siachen talks
Pakistan's Defence Secretary Lieutenant General (Retired) Syed Ather Ali arrived in New Delhi [ Images ] on Saturday for the 12th round of defence secretary-level talks on the long- pending Siachen issue, which is being resumed after a gap of three years on Monday.  "Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar will lead the India [ Images ]n delegation during the two-day talks. India and Pakistan decided to resume the talks last year after both prime ministers met in Thimpu," defence ministry officials said.  While the Pakistani delegation has two civilian officials and four military officers, the Indian side includes Special Secretary R K Mathur, Director General of Military Operations Lieutanent General A M Verma and Surveyor General S Subha Rao, the officials said.  Siachen, the world's highest militarised zone, has been a long pending issue between India and Pakistan over differences on the location of the 110-km long Actual Ground Position Line which passes through the Soltoro Ridge and Siachen glacier.  "The AGPL is not clearly marked beyond the grid reference point of NJ-9842. The two countries have decided to de-militarise the Siachen glacier, but the matter is stuck as there are apprehensions on both sides," officials said.  India wants Pakistan to authenticate the AGPL, both on the maps and the ground, as it occupies most of the dominating posts on the Saltoro Ridge, officials said.  Pakistan, in turn, has been insisting on maintaining the pre-1972 troop positions as agreed in the Simla Agreement.  Retaliating to the Pakistan Army's [ Images ] advances in the glacier in 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot and deployed its troops in most of the dominating features in the area.  The defence secretary-level talks between the two countries on Siachen dates back to 1985. The decision to hold joint talks was taken by the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi [ Images ] and Pakistan president General Zia-ul-Haq. © Copyright 2011 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

India, Pak were ready to solve Kashmir issue in 1999: Sharif
Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif [ Images ] on Saturday said that India [ Images ] and Pakistan were ready to resolve the Kashmir [ Images ] issue in 1999.  "The then Indian prime minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee and I were ready to resolve the Kashmir issue in 1999 but General (Pervez) Musharraf did the misadventure in Kargil [ Images ] and then overthrew my government," Sharif said while addressing a function on Saturday to mark the anniversary of Pakistan carrying out nuclear tests.  "After we carried out the nuclear tests in 1998, India started taking us on an equal footing. In the following year, the Indian prime minister came to Lahore [ Images ] and we issued a joint resolution at the Minar-e-Pakistan," he told a crowd of cheering supporters.  Sharif said when his government went ahead with the nuclear tests in 1998, half the world was with Pakistan.  "I do not say that no one was with India. There were countries that were with India when it carried out the nuclear tests," he said.  Pakistan had become stronger after the blasts but the subsequent martial law had weakened it, he said.  "Had the people stopped the dictators from toppling the elected government, Pakistan would have been on the road to progress today," he lamented.  Sharif said he was not happy with the government of President Asif Ali Zardari [ Images ] and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [ Images ] as corruption was rampant and Pakistan's sovereignty was being compromised.  He said he would join the people in showing the door to the government if it did not mend its ways. Pakistan had been shaken by the killing of Osama bin Laden [ Images ] in a raid by United States' forces in Abbotabad and the attack on PNS Mehran naval airbase in May, he said.  "May 28 reminds me of the day when Pakistan tested nuclear devices, which gave confidence to the nation and the defence of the country became invincible. But today, Pakistan is surrounded by dangers despite being a nuclear state," Sharif said.

NDA and Naval Academy exam results out, 742 candidates clear
NEW DELHI: The results of the National Defence Academy ( NDA) and Naval Academy Exam (II), 2010 were declared on Friday, with 742 candidates finding their names in the merit list.  The examination, conducted by UPSC, was held for admission to Army, Navy and Air Force wings of National Defence Academy for the 126th course and Naval Academy for the 88th Indian Naval Academy Course (INAC) commencing from June 30 this year.  According to a Government statement, there are some common candidates in the three list for Army/Navy, Air Force and Naval Academy.  The number of vacancies intimated by the Government is 335 (195 for Army, 39 for the Navy, 66 for Air Force and 35 for Naval Academy for the 88th INAC).

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