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Saturday, 27 August 2011

From Today's Papers - 27 Aug 2011





To prevent Army acquisition, officer terms wife’s land unfit

Tribune News Service  Sequence of events  n Station headquarters approach land owner, get NOC for acquisition and erect a fence n The officer in question buys land in name of wife n He joins as station commander n He certifies land as unsuitable for acquisition  Chandigarh, August 26 To prevent the Army from acquiring a piece of land that was in his wife’s name, the station commander of an Army cantonment in Himachal Pradesh certified that it was “administratively and technically unsuitable”. Consequently, he was tried by a general court martial (GCM) and cashiered from service.  According to documents of the case, which came up for hearing before the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) yesterday, the Army was in the process of procuring land adjacent to the Nahan cantonment to meet its requirements and also to address security concerns.  The owner of the land was approached by Station Headquarters (HQs), Nahan, on behalf of the government and told not to sell the land as the Army was acquiring it. No-objection certificates for its acquisition were also obtained from the civil administration. A fence was erected and the case for acquisition moved ahead.  Till July 1999, there had been no change in the stand of station HQs with regard to the acquisition of the said land, of which the wife of the officer in question owned a small part.  However, a different stand was taken by the headquarters after the officer, who had served there earlier, joined as station commander.  From January 2000, station headquarters took up the case to term specific khasra numbers to be a municipal path, where as in September 1999, station HQs, while approaching revenue authorities, had stated that there was no existing path on ground and accordingly recommended that the area covered by the said path could not be excluded from the total area of land being acquired.  Later, in October 2000, the station commander in a letter addressed to Defence Estates Officer, Ambala, and Headquarters 2 Corps stated that some specific khasra numbers had been excluded from the acquisition proposal for being “unsuitable for the Army from the administration point of view as well as from build-ability factors”.  However, later, when an officer from Ambala visited Nahan and saw the situation on the ground, he learnt that a portion of the land which was recommended to be excluded by the station commander had been purchased by his wife and a house was being constructed on it.  After that, recommendations were changed in March 2002 and the whole land was recommended for acquisition. In his reply before the AFT, central government counsel Capt Sandeep Bansal contended that though very well aware of the purchase of the land by his wife in 1999, the petitioner, through his correspondence on record, never disclosed that the land in fact had been purchased by his wife.  He also did not endeavour to tell these facts to visiting officers and commanders. The matter was investigated by a Court of Inquiry and disciplinary action was initiated against the petitioner.

Defence personnel will now get pension statements by email, SMS

Kusum Arora/TNS  Jalandhar, August 26 Retired defence personnel will now get their monthly pension statements through SMS and email. The Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) has launched the facility, which would benefit a large number of retired defence personnel and war widows.  To make this project a success, letters are being dispatched to the pensioners to register their mobile numbers and emails with the Defence Accounts Department.  Sources at the Ministry of Defence said the pensioners would be required to provide their email accounts and mobile numbers on a prescribed format, which is available with all the 61 Defence Pension Disbursement Offices across the country.  “Earlier, the retired defence personnel had to personally visit the nearest DPDOs for pension. The new initiative will ensure quick update on their pension status”, said an Army official.  The CGDA has also developed and started two special softwares ‘Suvigya’ and ‘Aashraya.’  While ‘Suvigya’ is a pension enquiry system through which the pensioners would be able to know their entitlement by providing minimum basic information about themselves, ‘Aashraya’ is a web-enabled pension disbursement system developed to ensure right disbursement. It will also help in speedy redress of pensioners’ woes.

Fears of revolt in Pak Army

Some ominous portents by Sankar Sen  Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s fears of revolt in the Pakistan Army are not unfounded. Indeed, many in the Pakistan Army are increasingly viewing the war against terror as America’s war which Pakistan is forced to fight. There is also a growing feeling that the US is lording over Pakistan and treating it as a client state.  The Pakistan Army is a disciplined force and its soldiers have a long history of acting in accordance with the orders of senior army commanders. Various coups, insurgencies and national emergencies have not rocked the cohesion and discipline in the army. Now because of the variety of factors, loyalty and discipline in the army are being severely tested, and fears of a mutiny in officers’ rank are mounting.  In Pakistan, till now, says Prof Anatol Lieven, “(Pakistan — A Hard Country)”, there has not been a military coup from below. Every coup has been carried out by serving army chiefs backed by a solid majority of senior officers. Officers and soldiers of the army are keenly aware of the fact that it is unity and discipline in the army that has held the country together. Along with discipline and loyalty, fear of India is drummed into the mind of every Pakistani soldier from the day he joins the army. Thus, apart from the unforeseen consequences of a mutiny in the army, the fear that it will provide an opportunity to India to crush Pakistan appears credible and is widely believed by every Pakistani soldier.  The Pakistan Army’s history shows that in the past commanding officers were westernised and secular in their outlook. Stephen Cohen in his book, “Pakistan’s Army”, has identified three generations of army officers. The first was the British generation when the Pakistan army was set up. They came mostly from loyal westernised families and did not hold strong religious views. After World War II, when Britain was not in a position to provide the type of aid which the young Pakistan Army needed, Pakistan turned to the US and this spawned an American generation of officers who were secular in attitude and un-Islamic in outlook. But the tide turned after Pakistan’s humiliating defeat in the Bangladesh war. And the American generation was replaced by the Zia generation. General Zia wanted to build up a devout and puritanical army and with that end in view allowed religious groups like the Tablighi Jamaat to hold classes and give discourses in the army units. Zia himself attended the convocation of the group — the first army chief to do so.  The new generations of officers hailing from middle classes are generally hostile to Western ideas and receptive to Islamic teachings. In a sense, younger officers reflect the larger society and are becoming more Islamic and anti-West. Many of them are imbued with anti-Western, particularly anti-American, sentiments. Shuza Nawaz, a well-known expert on Pakistan’s army speaks of the emergence of a “different breed of officers” children of the lower middle class akin to General Zia’s own background who chose the service because of its economic and social advantages rather than military traditions.  Now the American raid in Abbottabad and the killing of Osama bin Laden has caused within the army a deep sense of anger and humiliation. In a way, it was a projection of American power and a clear message to Pakistan to align itself with America or face the consequences. Drone attacks on militants within Pakistan have also been causing an acute sense of unease in the army ranks. It is said that using anti-American anger without getting burned by it has become a fine art with Pakistan. What is worrying the military leadership now is the sense of anger within the army is accompanied by a feeling of humiliation. Unilateral nature of some of the US decisions and action has added fuel to the fire.  There is also growing criticism of Pakistan Army Chief Gen Ashfaque Kayani within the country and in the army barracks. His close links with the Obama administration have not gone down well with the army. The overwhelming opinion in the army is that Americans pose a danger to Pakistan’s national security, and it is time the military leadership drew a red line. The terrorist attack on PNS, Meheran, a naval airbase, in Karachi, has further exposed the army and the ISI to public criticism for sheer incompetence. Deflection of public criticism by blaming India or America is no longer working. Along with anti-American anger there is also sympathy for Al-Qaeda. It is not precisely known how far anti-American officers are wedded to radical Islam or if anti-Americanism reflects outright sympathy for the Talibani elements in the army.  The situation in Pakistan is difficult and grim. It is rocked by ethnic clashes, jihadi terrorism and general lawlessness. It has become a dysfunctional state; its economy is in a mess and the legal system has broken down. Its politicians are derided as clowns. The army, though supreme, with its badly tarnished image, is sunk in gloom. The Pakistan Army is no longer as it was loyal and professional as it was before. A number of army personnel are members of the Jamaat-e-Islami. Some military and intelligence officers have been involved in assassination attempts against Gen Pervez Musharraf (retd). There is desertion and surrender of soldiers before militants, and there is a growing feeling among sections of the Pakistan Army that they are fighting against their own countrymen at the behest of the US.  A division among officers on ideological lines is thus neither unlikely nor impossible. Such a division would hasten the fragmentation of the army.  The split is likely to stem from the differences among the officers with secular or Islamic leanings. A strong army has so far held together Pakistan, but if it gets divided on fundamental issues like the identity and the purpose of Pakistan, or relations with major outside powers like the US, and disaffected officers join the radicals to gain access to Pakistan’s rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal, it will indeed be a dangerous scenario.  The writer, a former Director, National Police Academy, is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi.


Wake up to threat

''China is embarking on huge military expansion.''  The continuous  upgradation of China’s military postures with respect to India should  prompt our defence authorities to improve our own defensive and offensive capabilities.  The latest alert about Beijing’s military spending and plans has come from a report to the US Congress by the Pentagon. The report is not specific to India but touches upon many areas of  concern for the country. One important revelation is that China has strengthened its nuclear capabilities against India by replacing its liquid-fuelled CSS-2 nuclear-capable missiles with more advanced solid-fuel CSS-5 systems.  That does not mean a sudden heightening of any hostile posture towards India and may even be part of the general upgradation of conventional and nuclear equipment. But it means that Beijing has deployed a better and more efficient nuclear weapons system, with a bigger reach and strike power, against India. Though it is claimed to be meant to boost its deterrent posture, in the event of hostilities there is no difference between deterrence and offence.  The report has also mentioned the big expansion in rail and road infrastructure being carried out by China along its border with India. This has happened over the last few years.  Though China has claimed that the infrastructure development is aimed at boosting economic development, its military significance should not be underplayed.  India has recently tried to improve its connectivity and facilities along the border but the efforts are much too slow-paced and far too inadequate in view of the requirements. There are also reports of fast expansion of the Chinese navy which can now project its power close to India in the Indian Ocean. China also has close military ties with Pakistan and these are being continuously strengthened.  Though India does not have a hostile relationship with China, the relationship is strained by many irritants, mainly relating to the longstanding border dispute. Economic ties are steadily improving and co-operation and dispute resolution mechanisms are in place. But there are always chances of conflicts of interest arising or the present tensions worsening  in future.  Therefore it is in India’s interest to be fully prepared for any eventuality that, hopefully, may not arise. China’s increasing military investment, which the Pentagon report has explained in some detail, is causing anxiety to other countries also. But India has to be more alert than others because its dispute with China is bigger than what any other country has with Beijing.


India needs to speed up indigenisation of defence industry: Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha

NEW DELHI: To expedite indigenisation of the defence industry, government agencies should ensure smooth Transfer of Technology ( ToT) through increased participation of private sector in the country, Chief of Integrated Staff Committee (CISC) Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha said on Friday.  "We envisage that Indian companies both in private and public sector will work together either through joint ventures or workable PPP model to achieve this objective (of indigenisation)," Sinha said addressing an international seminar on Defence Technology.  He said our goal to provide 70 per cent indigenous weapons to our armed forces is far from achieved.  The two-day seminar is being organised by Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS), a defence think tank, which has commissioned a research on reversal of defence imports from present 70 per cent to targeted 30 per cent. The post-doctoral study is being headed by Group Captain B S Nayyar.  On increased participation of Small and Medium Enterprises in defence sector, Sinha said, "The fundamental strength of Indian industries exists in its vibrant SMEs which have remained as important supply source of components and sub-components for aerospace to DPSUs, DRDO, ISRO etc."  These companies are modernising with cutting edge technologies, transforming themselves into major players and in the process becoming suppliers for global defence companies vying to outsource products and components from India, he added.  Major General (Retd) K B Kapoor, Director CENJOWS, said, "Presently, 70 per cent of our defence equipment is being imported and only 30 per cent is indigenously produced. We recommend a roadmap by which India will meet 70 per cent of its requirement by 2025."  On need to develop self reliance in design and development of military hardware, Sinha said agencies involved in this area should have greater synergy to achieve this goal.


India commissions second stealth frigate

MUMBAI, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- India has commissioned the Satpura warship, the second of what it calls "stealth" frigates, in a ceremony in Mumbai, the Business Standard newspaper said.  The head of the Indian navy, Adm. Nirmal Verma, commissioned the vessel into active service as India's 140th warship.  The Satpura, which follows the Shivalik into service, is the second of three Project 17 stealth frigates being built by Mazagon Dock in Mumbai.  It will be followed by the Sahyadri early next year.  The vessels are based on the three 4,100-ton Talwar-class frigates that Russia built for the Indian navy a decade ago. However, the officially termed guided-missile stealth frigates come in at 6,200 tons.  The Satpura carries 24 Russian Klub missiles with a range of around 130 miles.  The navy originally wanted the Indian-made Brahmos missile but it was too heavy for the vessel, the Business Standard report said. Only India's heavier destroyers are armed with the Brahmos.  The Satpura has an Israeli Barak air defense system and an RB-6,000 multi-barreled depth charge launcher. It also carries two Sea King, or indigenous Dhruv helicopters.  Power for the 465-foot warship is provided by two French Pielstick diesel engines. In addition, two General Electric LM-2500 gas turbines are used in tandem with the diesels for bursts of speed.  The stealth aspect comes in its design, configured to reduce its radar, infrared, electronic, acoustic and visual signatures, the report said.  Similar designs are being used in Project 28, the construction program for anti-submarine corvettes that are being built at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers in Kolkata.  Construction cost for the stealth frigates has been kept down through the use of warship-grade steel from the Indian firm Essar Steel, rather than importing similar grades.  But India remains concerned over the amount and cost of foreign high-tech equipment in its new vessels, Verma said.  Vice Adm. Ganesh Mahadevan, the navy's chief of Materials, said indigenization will rise dramatically for future vessels starting next year.  The Ministry of Defense also announced that the navy, along with the air force, is on schedule to receive additional Hawk AJT trainer jets.  The navy will get 17 of the 57 trainers to be built by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics.  Delivery of the first aircraft of the 57 will start in 2013 and be finished by 2016.  The $700 million order for the 57 two-seat aircraft was signed with HAL in July 2010, a report on the Web site said.  The air force is getting the other 40 Hawks, an advanced trainer designed by BAE Systems and which can be used as a low-cost fighter.  The order for the 57 from HAL comes after a previous contract with BAE and HAL for 66 Hawk aircraft.  In March 2004, the government signed a contract with BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce Turbomeca UK for the purchase of 24 Hawk AJTs to be built in the United Kingdom.  Also agreed at the same time was for HAL in Bangalore to manufacture another 42 Hawks under a transfer of technology contract, Defense Minister A.K. Antony said in the upper house of Parliament.  Read more:


Opportunities for industries in defence sector

PUNE: The defence committee of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) is organising a seminar in partnership with NASSCOM on simulation systems.  A statement issued by the MCCIA said the seminar will highlight opportunities for Indian industries in the defence sector. The seminar will take place on Friday at MCCIA Pune between 9.30 am and 5 pm.  "The event will increase awareness regarding emerging technologies for simulations systems, including gaming. This would also help in projecting competencies and capabilities of the Indian industry to leverage the gaming technologies, equipment needs and business opportunities," said Anant Sardeshmukh, executive director general of MCCIA.  "The seminar would facilitate the development of simulators in defence, training requirements, simulation-based equipment acquisition and product design," he added.  Brig S B Ghorpade, chairman, defence committee of MCCIA, said, "Simulation systems help understand the efficiency and efficacy of a new weapon system before introducing it into the armed forces."


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