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Monday, 5 September 2011

From Today's Papers - 05 Sep 2011




Can’t ignore DoB in Class X certificate: Army to ministry

Ajay Banerjee/TNS  New Delhi, September 4 The embarrassing controversy over the Chief of the Army Staff General VK Singh’s two different dates of birth, followed by an unprecedented “statutory complaint” by the General under the Army Act, went through another twist on Sunday when the Army Headquarters went on record to say that the “matriculation certificate of the Army Chief cannot be ignored”.  General Singh’s claim, on which hinges the date of his retirement and appointment of his successor, has already been turned down by the Defence Ministry. Sunday’s development, therefore, signalled the beginning of an uglier public spat. The development does not augur well for the image of the forces or the ministry.  In what is the first public response on the issue, Army’s Additional Director General (Public Information) said. “The value of a matriculation certificate can’t be wished away.” He also went on to blame the Military Secretary branch of the Army HQ of not matching its records with the Adjutant General’s branch.  The Army Chief has two sets of date of birth in the records. The Military Secretary (MS) branch shows it to be May 10, 1950, whereas the Adjutant General’s (AG) branch shows it to be May 10, 1951. Strangely, the Military Secretary’s branch has itself been ignoring the very same matriculation certificate. The ADG (PI) says, “The custodian of records, at the Army Headquarters, is the AG’s branch and the MS branch has no jurisdictional authority on the issue as per regulations for the Army and the charter given to each branch.”  The two DoB’s have a 45-year-old history. The General, when he joined the NDA as a schoolboy, had mentioned his DoB as May 1950 in his signed application that is maintained by the MS branch.  The ADG (PI) said the Defence Ministry has arrived at its decision on the issue on the basis of what it was told by the MS branch which has no jurisdiction on such issues. In a response to queries, he said the “confusion has occurred because the AG’s branch has not been consulted”. This was further compounded “because the MS branch did not correct its records from those maintained by the AG, despite the AG branch writing to the MS, in earlier years”.


‘India, Pakistan reached deal on Kashmir’

New Delhi, September 4 India and Pakistan had reached a “back-channel” agreement on the Kashmir issue during the tenure of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had told a visiting US Congressional team.  According to secret US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks, Manmohan Singh told the Congressional delegation in April 2009 that India and Pakistan had made great progress prior to February 2007, when Musharraf ran into trouble.  “We had reached an understanding in back channels,” he had told the delegation.  The cable was sent by US Charge d’Affairs Peter Burleigh to his bosses in the US State Department on April 21, 2009.  Manmohan Singh told the delegation that Musharraf had agreed to a non-territorial solution to Kashmir that included freedom of movement and trade, the cable said. — PTI


NATO seeks missile defence ties with India

Seeing missile attacks as a common threat, US-led NATO military alliance has offered India [ Images ] cooperation and sharing of technology in the field of missile defence.

During a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels, its top officials briefed PTI on its missile shield programme to defend Europe from a possible missile attack by Iran or Syria.  "You have a missile threat that confronts you. We have a missile threat that confronts us. It's a different one, but our ability to defend against it could be the same. We have cooperation on those kind of issues," said a top NATO official.  He added that NATO and India need to have the kind of dialogue that the US and India are already having as bilateral partners.  "Democracies face challenges that are common. We need to work together and resolve. We need to cooperate, because individually we cannot deal with such threats. It is better to deal with such issues commonly than deal with them individually," he said.  Talking about the commonalities between India and NATO on the missile defence project, the NATO official said, "One would be in the technology of defence".  He added, "even though the threats of missiles come from different directions, we don't necessarily see the threat that you see, because your strategic situation is different from ours. But, the technology of discovering and intercepting missiles is similar".  Another top US official at NATO, however, said that the area of missile defence was also of interest to the Indo-US partnership and "could be more US-Indian relationship, than a NATO-Indian. But we are getting into ballistic missiles defence systems in a pretty big way".  He said, "as a result, we have knowledge which you can share and we can train together. Even though the threat is different the nature of the response can be similar".  What that involves ultimately will depend on India, the official said, adding that "there are experiences that we could talk about and share them".  The US by itself has been suggesting a partnership for India in its national missile defence programe. It has also offered the Patriot missile defence system to India.  While India has accepted briefings on the US-missile defence programme, it has so far been charting an independent course. India's DRDO is indigenously developing a two-tier missile defence system to intercept enemy ballistic missiles, which is scheduled to become operational by 2015.  While India has not publicly identified or talked about the source of the missile threats to it, its programme is very clearly aimed at blunting the missile threats from Pakistan and China.  NATO is also taking steps to address Russian anxieties about Europe's missile shield. The four-phase NATO missile defence programme initiated by Europe in May 2001, aims to work with the 28 member nations to jointly create a defence system over Europe from possible missile threats.  NATO officials said the first phase of the missile shield programme is already in place and the second one will be shortly. While the third phase would be in place by 2015, the fourth one would be in by 2020. "We have already signed an Agreement with Romania for having radar and line-based interceptors in place," said officials.  NATO officials said Russia [ Images ] has misgivings about the 3rd and 4th phase of this programme, which it believes could blunt its ballistic missile capabilities.  "While we see a missile threat coming from Iran in South-East Europe... NATO is not planning any larger European ground war as in the Cold war," said officials, adding that "Russia is sometimes building its military capabilities with NATO in mind, but NATO is not doing so in reverse".  Officials added that Russia also has concerns over military exercises in erstwhile Soviet Union nations, which are independent nations now.  NATO is already working out with Russia to remove these misgivings and has formed the NATO-Russia Council, which meets every month and briefs Russia about the missile defence programme for Europe. NATO officials said missile defence programme could also become the key partnership of cooperation between India and NATO.


Unfit Army? Survey finds 30% overweight

NEW DELHI: A study on the health of Indian Army personnel has thrown up worrying results. Four out of five personnel surveyed, including officers, were found suffering from pre-hypertension, about a third were overweight and two-thirds had low levels of good cholesterol (HDL), caused by lack of exercise.  The sample survey was conducted by the defence ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research on 767 'healthy' personnel including 130 officers. Their ages ranged from 18 to 50 years.  The study also found a majority of the personnel had bad eating habits. Most of them added salt or pickle to their food and used ghee/butter regularly.  Alarmingly, the prevalence of pre-hypertension in the group was higher than in the general population. While 40-60% of Indians show these symptoms, it was as high as 80% among the Armymen. Pre-hypertension is a risk factor for heart disease and is characterized by mildly high blood pressure - 120-139mm Hg systolic pressure and a diastolic pressure of 80-89.  Almost 67% were found to have low HDL cholesterol level - a sign of low physical activity. More embarrassingly, 30% had a body-mass ratio of over 23, putting them in the overweight category.  Young Armymen must cut down on smoking and go easy with their salt and ghee, says a recent survey that found more than 80% personnel suffering from pre-hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease.  "Lifestyle modifications such as reducing the intake of saturated fats and salt in diet and reducing smoking can achieve a downward shift in the overall blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease," says the survey conducted by the defence ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research.  The study, published in the latest issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research, was conducted over two years. Of 767 personnel studied, 670 were married. Personnel with known history of ischemic heart disease, hypertension, obesity and diabetes were excluded from the study and only "healthy" ones included.  Most of the soldiers identified as pre-hypertensive were in the habit of using extra salt and pickles and had a lot of ghee or butter. "In the Army, we have an authorization scale for ration which includes fresh vegetables, fruits, bread, butter, rice and milk among others. But people also eat from outside. The diet differs from person to person," an Army officer said.


Mahindra & Mahindra targeting $18 bn revenue from supply of defence equipment

NEW DELHI: Mahindra & Mahindra today said it is eyeing a revenue of up to $ 18 billion in the next 8-10 years through the supply of various defence equipments in India.  "Mahindra & Mahindra Group is looking at a revenue of about $ 15-18 billion through its land, aerospace and naval equipments in the next 8-10 years in India," Mahindra Defence Systems CEO Khutub Hai told media.  Some of the revenues will start accruing from next fiscal, he said, adding that as of now, the group's revenue from the defence supply business is very insignificant.  As per an estimate, the Ministry of Defence has earmarked a capital expenditure of about $ 100 billion on equipment purchases over the next 7-8 years.  At present, 70 per cent of the country's defence equipment is imported, Hai said.  "What we envisage is that going forward, with Indian companies developing capabilities, supply of defence equipment from domestic sources can account about 50 per cent of the requirement," he added.  Mahindra & Mahindra is looking to develop infantry combat vehicles and artillery systems under its product portfolio expansion plans.  The group is also in advanced stages of forming a joint venture with a multi-national player for the supply and manufacture of naval defence equipment.  However, Hai declined to comment on the investment required to meet the target revenues, saying that most of the capital requirement was only finalised after getting orders from the government.  At present, the investments were mainly being made on human resources training overseas and developing capabilities.  The group is also looking to become a leader in the global market for aerospace components, assemblies and completed aircraft over the next few years.  Recently, the company handed over six Mine Protected Vehicle-India (MPV-I) units that were developed by Defence Land Systems India -- a JV between Mahindra & Mahindra and BAE Systems Plc -- to the Jharkhand Police to mark the commencement of serial production of landmine protected vehicles from its Prithla plant, near Faridabad.  The company is looking to sell about 100 MPV-Is next fiscal, as it expects to bag big orders from the Home Ministry for the CRPF and other state police forces.



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