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Tuesday, 15 November 2011

From Today's Papers - 15 Nov 2011

Omar meets PM, PC to discuss AFSPA
Talks about narrowing differences through consultation, compromise Tribune News Service  New Delhi, November 14 After days of debating over the removal of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) from parts of Jammu and Kashmir, a semblance of sense has finally been restored. State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today visibly softened his stand and talked about the role of “consultations” and clarified that he was not playing “politics” over national security.  Omar today called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram in the National Capital. Yesterday, he had met Defence Minister AK Antony. Omar’s stand today was in sharp contrast to the verbal warning he issued a few days ago, saying the state was competent to remove AFSPA on its own. This was preceded by a statement in which he said he would not take “no” as an answer from the Indian Army in case of removal of AFSPA.  After meeting the Home Minister, Omar said, “The effort is to narrow down the differences and try to work out a compromise.” He said the Army was not present in areas from where we wanted to remove AFSPA - Budgam, Srinagar, Jammu and Kathua.  On being told that separatists were threatening to take over areas as soon as AFSPA was lifted, Omar said, “Let them try it. This is a ploy of the separatists. If the act is not removed, they agitate against it and when we are trying to remove the Act, they will threaten and scare people.”  He said, “I have never played politics with national security. The issue has to be resolved through consultation and meetings with the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) members will continue.”  Sources said an immediate resolution was not expected and neither was the Chief Minister keen to apply more pressure. The Prime Minister had made it abundantly clear that an objective review was needed.  Sources said a compromise formula suggested by the Defence Ministry was that AFSPA should not be tinkered with, however, the Army could be asked to withdraw from selected districts and areas. This would allow redeployment of the Army in case things did not work out well. A suggestion of the Army was to consolidate peace and it had pointed out how its supply lines to Drass-Kargil-Siachen, all routed through Kashmir, could be disrupted.  On his part, the Defence Minister, while talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function, said he had a “very frank and very fruitful discussion with J&K Chief Minister on Sunday, but it was inconclusive... On our side, my opinion is that this being a very very sensitive issue, let us handle it in a very mature and cool manner”.  Antony refused to give a time line and when he was asked if AFSPA would come up for discussion at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security this week, he said: “Don’t put any time limit.”  Inter-governmental consultations were taking place and discussions on the issue would continue, the Defence Minister said while adding “considering that the infiltration attempts from across the border are continuing, we have to be careful 24/7.”
Army aspirants run into SMS lingo barrier
Mohit Khanna/TNS  Ludhiana, November 14 Proficiency in the Queen’s language is proving to be an Achilles’ heel for aspirants from Punjab seeking to join the world’s third largest Army.  Despite being able to fare well in screening, physical fitness and medical tests, a number of candidates have found it difficult to clear the written English test. And, ironically, that too from a state which is contributing youth by the hundreds to universities and vocational institutions in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for which clearing the IELTS is mandatory.  Interestingly, officers of the Army’s recruitment directorate blame the deficiency on the short messaging service (SMS) and low standards of school education.  “They answer their questions the way they text their friends on the cell phone. It is ridiculous. They are bound to flunk in the written test. After all, how are we going to understand what they want to communicate?” asked an Army officer, who is part of an ongoing Army recruitment rally at the Dholewal Military Complex here.  Candidates from Ferozepore have performed the worst when it comes to answering questions in English. Army officers say not a single candidate from Ferozepore has managed to clear the written test for the post of Nursing Assistant in the last three years.  “They use SMS lingo such as “Luk (Look), gud (good) ur (your) asap (as soon as possible) while answering questions,” said an officer. “Candidates are unable to even write an essay on a ‘Picnic’,” he added.  It’s not just English. Even their level of general awareness is low. Recently, a majority of aspirants who appeared in the written exam left authorities shocked when they wrote that the Taj Mahal was in Dalhi (Delhi)!  “I can bet they cannot write four lines in correct English. The education system is to blame. These students clear the matriculation exam with grace marks, but are exposed when they appear for a competitive examination. Aspirants for posts of clerks, nursing assistant and technical staff are regularly flunking in the written exam. We are forced to give them grace marks to recruit them,” said an officer.
Amputee Major set for half marathon 
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, November 14 In a courageous act, a retired major of the Indian Army, who lost his leg during the 1999 operation Vijay, has not only got along with his life nicely, but is slated to run in a half marathon in the national capital on November 27. He will be running on an artificial right leg.  Major DP Singh, whose family hails from Ambala, lost his leg as a young Lieutenant on July 15 1999. Belonging to the 7 Dogra Infantry Regiment, Maj Singh was on a forward location in the Chammb-Jaurian sector along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir when a Pakistani shell exploded virtually at his feet. He was rushed to Akhnoor with little hope for survival having lost his right leg had nearly 40 splinters embedded in his body. “I weighed just 28 kg when I first landed at Pune for rehabilitation nearly 40 days after the incident,” the officer recollected as he narrated the life-changing incident that occurred in the wee hours that fateful day.  Coming out of his post battle-injury life, the young man opted out of the Army. He is now working with a leading private bank as the administrative head for branches in the National Capital Region. Talking about his colleagues the Major says “they have a different kind of respect for me and back in my achieving goals”.  His only child is studying and was born after the crippling injury. Thankfully, the rules of the forces allow full pension in the cases of battle injuries and he did not have to wait for the mandatory 20 years of service to be eligible for his pension.  On November 27, he will run the 21.4-km half marathon with a special leg provided by the Army’s Pune-based Artificial Limb Centre. The leg is lighter than the 3.5-kg apparatus he is using at present. The one provided by the Pune centre is designed for running. The Major has motivated 12 other differently-abled in the 18 to 44 age group to run the half marathon. He has launched a Facebook page “the challenging ones” to motivate more people.
Pak offers discounted JF-17 fighter jet   Read more at:
Dubai:  JF-17 Thunder (Joint Fighter-17) combat aircraft, jointly produced by China and Pakistan made its Middle East flight debut at the Dubai Airshow 2011, Sunday. The jet is being offered at aggressive discounts to compete with Western rivals, with three JF-17s being offered at the price of one F-16.  With coordination between Aviation Industry Corporation of China and Pakistan Air Force, three JF-17 Thunders were exhibited at Dubai International Airshow. One performed on Sunday while the others were used for static display and weapon display.  The aircraft, also designated as FC-17 Xiaolong (Fighter China-17 Fierce Dragon), is a light-weight multi-role combat aircraft and has remarkable combat ability in low distance interception and close attack.  "I think is an excellent aircraft with excellent handling qualities. It is very easy for the pilot to manage this aircraft in combat, because of its displays and controls, and its interface with the pilot which is very modern and latest in the world," said Ahsan Rafiq, Pakistan Air Force pilot.  "I think it was a great play and I want to really see it again tomorrow and I will watch it very carefully," said George Elkins, CEO of Sigma Aerospace Metals, LLC.  Aside from JF 17 Thunder, the latest turboprop regional aircraft MA600 produced by Aviation Industry Corporation of China is also on display at the international airshow.  As the leading aviation event in the Middle East, the biannual Dubai airshow will end Thursday. More than 1,000 aviation enterprises from over 50 countries and regions attended this year's airshow.  Meanwhile, organizer stated on the opening day that orders worth over 26 billion U.S. dollars were contracted. Dubai's state-owned carrier Emirates Airline placed an order for 50 Boeing 777-ER long-range planes worth 18 billion U.S. dollars, on Sunday, the largest dollar-value order in the Chicago plane producer's history.   Read more at:
Army training academy in Gaya
New Delhi, Nov. 14:   A newly raised Officers Training Academy at Gaya was inaugurated by the Army Chief, Gen V.K. Singh, on Monday.  Set up to train selected youth into commissioned officers for the Indian Army, the Academy is the third of its kind in the country, a Defence Ministry release said.  The plan for construction of modern infrastructure and world-class training facilities at the academy has already been approved.  Gen Singh urged the youth to put in their best to absorb the professional skills imparted to them at the academy.
How Gurkhas came to be Britain's new security army
The influx of Gurkhas into the UK, after a very public campaign, sparked a debate about their welfare and the cost to the public purse. But many of them are already playing a vital role.  Most British people will know something of the Gurkhas.  The fearsome Nepalese soldiers have been part of the British Army for almost 200 years, their motto is "Better to die than be a coward" and they still carry their traditional weapon - an 18in long curved knife known as the kukri - into battle.  Others might not remember the historical facts but they will recall the fierce battle to give retired Gurkhas the right to settle in the UK. Actress and Gurkha campaigner Joanna Lumley celebrates with retired Gurkha soldiers adjacent to the Houses of Parliament on May 21 2009 in London. The euphoria of winning settlement rights has given way to welfare and economic concerns  The campaign, led from the front by the actress Joanna Lumley, captured the public's attention and caused some red faces in Parliament.  The campaigners were victorious and since the rules changed in 2009, just over 9,000 applications for settlement from Gurkhas - including their dependants - have been approved.  There has been much debate as to the impact of this influx. The MP for Aldershot, where an estimated 10% of the population comes from Nepal, has said the town has been "overwhelmed".  Gerald Howarth says the elderly Nepalese, in particular, are putting a strain on local resources and the Gurkhas should be dispersed around the UK to spread the financial burden. On Monday, the government announced the local council would receive £1.5m to meet "immediate resource pressures".  It has been suggested that some Gurkhas are struggling to cope with the cost of living in the UK, with the British Gurkha Welfare Society saying about 25,000 of those who retired before 1997 still only receive a third of the pension of their British and Commonwealth former comrades. Pte Bhuwasing Limbu Pte Bhuwasing Limbu has swapped Nepal for Nottingham  But a recent study suggested that Gurkhas of working age are the most economically active and self-reliant social group in Britain.  The University of Kent research found the employment rates among Gurkha men and women are particularly high, at 95% for men under 60 and 93% for women under that age.  It also showed that security is the most popular job for male veterans. Ex-military people joining the security industry is nothing new, but security companies are capitalising on the Gurkhas' formidable reputation.  G4S set up Gurkha Services in 2007 and it now employs at least 600 people across 27 contracts.
hey are involved in guarding the UK's "critical infrastructure", such as power stations and railways, from vandals, protesters and thieves. Rarely a day goes by without some story about how cable theft has disrupted a train journey or caused a power outage. Now Gurkhas are the new front line against the crime wave.  A smaller rival of G4S - Octavian, which has its headquarters in Nottingham - first started using Gurkhas in 2005.  Their skills were made clear to the company a year later when they sent five of the ex-soldiers to guard a crime-ridden car park in the city's Giltbrook area.  "They reduced crime rates to nil and since then we have not stopped using them," says commercial director Tony Mellor.  Octavian employee Pte Bhuwasing Limbu says working in security feels natural.  The 50-year-old rifleman has worked on construction sites, power stations and car parks. He talks about dealing with "mostly drunken teenagers" but he did on one occasion help disarm a knife-wielding trespasser at a stately home before handing him over safely to the police.  In addition to it being familiar territory, there are practical reasons why so many Gurkhas are attracted to security jobs, which are often low-paid and involve antisocial hours.  Nina Gurung, who carried out the University of Kent study, says it is a "relatively stable and comfortable" job for former Gurkhas.  "For many of them, language might be a barrier and with security, you just do your job and go home." Tara Gurung Family affair: It is not just former Gurkha soldiers who are being employed as security guards  Octavian does not only hire former soldiers. Prem Dewan, 22, is following in his father's footsteps, not into the British Army, but into the security business.  "We are doing this for day-to-day living," he says. "It's a dependable job and there's big demand in the security field."  Tara Gurung, 42, who was on duty at the Nottingham City Contact Centre, a "one-stop shop" for advice about benefits and council services, says security is now a "family thing".  "My husband, my son and myself are all in security. I am very happy to come here and I'm really proud."  Her husband L/Cpl Bishnu Raj Gurung works for another security company and the imposing 45-year-old works a few streets away in another council building.  It is a far cry from his service in Bosnia and his days on the Hong Kong/Chinese border but he says working as a security guard in the UK offers his family a much better life than they would have in Nepal.
"It is a similar job," he says. "I know how to look for threats and handle difficult situations."  The whole business of guarding installations, anticipating threats and acting swiftly is innate to the way they have been trained.  Selection for a Gurkha unit in the Army is notoriously rigorous - out of 28,000 applicants last year, only 230 soldiers were enlisted.  All Gurkha soldiers are recruited in Nepal, with retired Gurkhas touring remote villages conducting screening tests. Perhaps the best known and most gruelling selection test is the doko race - a two-mile run up a steep hill carrying 35kg of rocks in a basket.  Noah Price, operations director of G4S Gurkha Services, says these men are the "fittest of the fittest" because they have been born in the foothills of the Himalayas. But they come from a background where poverty is rife and infant mortality high.  "They have survived this struggle from birth and then we have selected the best of the best into the British Army."
Price, a former Gurkha officer, says: "They can see things that you and I cannot see."  They hardly ever get sick. Price recalls just two workers being sent home - one because of a burst appendix, the other with a broken rib. He says the Gurkha with the broken rib was reluctant to leave his post.  Price has also recently noticed that very few of his men wear glasses.  "They are robust, strong and hardy individuals who are absolutely dedicated to the job. When they are stuck in a cold field at three o'clock in the morning, I know they are doing their job."  There's also a psychological aspect that encourages security firms to take them on.  "Criminals do not want to come against them," says Mellor.
Army officers wage war against crooked realtor
Three senior defence personnel have alleged that the accused, who also owns two famous eateries in Noida, has duped them of Rs 2.45 crore by selling them properties with forged documents   A colonel and two brigadiers of Indian Army have allegedly been duped by a property dealer to the tune of Rs 2.45 crore. The accused owns two famous restaurants in Noida. An FIR in this connection was also lodged by Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi police but no action has been taken so far. One of the victims, Lieutenant Colonel SK Trivedi is a medical officer in the army and is posted to Kerala.
Flat broke "The property dealer Amit Khera cheated me of Rs 45 lakh. He promised me a flat in Greater Noida for the amount. I sold my Dwarka flat and made the payment. But later I came to know that my wife was made to sign on forged documents. I then approached the police to complain against him," said the victim. He said that Brigadier Arvind Gupta has also been defrauded along with a retired lieutenant colonel, Alok Dubey.  He used his unique modus operandi. He cheated only senior army officials posted outside Delhi," alleged Trivedi. "This property dealer owns two restaurants in Noida Sector 18 - Kaffiiaa and Desi Vibes - and his name is Amit Khera," he added.
Alok Dubey, a retired colonel of Indian Army and another victim said, "He also cheated me in a similar manner. Amit Khera also forged my signature and withdrew Rs 16 lakh from my bank account. He even harassed my wife, after which she too lodged a complaint against him," he alleged. Brigadier Arvind Gupta too lodged the complaints of fraud against him and the case is being investigated by EOW.  Big money Brigadier Gupta stated in his letter to Delhi's police commissioner that he had a property in Panchkula, which he sold to Amit Khera. "Amit convinced me that if I purchased the property in Delhi, then the appreciation would be 10 times better than in Panchkula. I sold the property to a person named Subhash for Rs 1 crore 72 thousand. He took all the money from Subhash and never returned it to me," Gupta said. MiD DAY tried to contact Jt Commissioner of Police (EoW) Vivek Gogia, but he didn't respond to our calls and SMS.  The other side Varun Khera, younger brother of Amit, denied all the allegations and said that he and his family have never been into real estate business. "I don't even know that person and all his allegations are false. I'm into the business of restaurants and we bought these eateries by taking loans and not from the alleged money," he said.

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