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Saturday, 10 December 2011

From Today's Papers - 10 Dec 2011

India, China inch ahead on defusing tension
Ajay Banerjee/TNS  Defence Minister AK Antony meets Deputy Chief of Staff of Chinese People’s Liberation Army Ma Xiaotian in New Delhi on Friday. Defence Minister AK Antony meets Deputy Chief of Staff of Chinese People’s Liberation Army Ma Xiaotian in New Delhi on Friday. — PTI  New Delhi, December 9 In what is being termed as a ‘positive step’ in tense and edgy India-China relations, the two countries, at a meeting today agreed to have more ‘mechanisms’ to reduce tension at their disputed borders.  New Delhi has made specific suggestions on moving forward and Beijing has agreed to consider the proposals, sources said.  “Both sides agreed that the process of dialogue and communication should be strengthened at various levels to ensure stability in the border areas,” spokesperson for the Defence Ministry Sitanshu Kar said.  Today, delegations of the two countries resumed the annual defence dialogue (ADD) - the first since January 2010. The Indian side was led by the Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma while the Chinese delegation was led by General Ma Xiaotian, Deputy Chief of General Staff, People’s Liberation Army.  The two neighbours, who have had a tiff over the navigation rights in the South China Sea and have a running dispute over demarcation of boundaries, agreed that the existing confidence-building measures and the protocol laid down in 2005 on maintaining peace and tranquility along the Line of Control (LAC) were working well. It was decided to continue with the existing arrangement.  The border management issue stems from varying perception of the LAC. Troops on either side transgress and reach a point which they perceive as the LAC. As per the 2005 agreement on protocols at LAC, New Delhi and Beijing have worked out what is called a ‘banner drill’. This helps keep tension under check. Whenever either side perceives that a transgression has been made across the LAC, soldiers on either side show each other a 10-feet-wide banner with a slogan painted across. The banner primarily cites the 2005 agreement and says there is a need to back off from the present positions of patrolling. India is keen to have a similar protocol at sea with the Chinese.  The two sides also decided to have more military delegations — involving middle level officials — to talk on various issues.  The first Chinese military delegation is coming to India at the end of this month while New Delhi will reciprocate by sending its delegation in January 2012.  The Chinese delegation called on the Defence Minister AK Antony. He extended an invitation to the Chinese Defence Minister to visit India at a mutually convenient time. The visiting delegation also called on Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Nirmal Verma.
13 years after soldier’s death, widow gets pension
Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, December 9 In a landmark decision emphasising that callousness towards human life would not be tolerated, the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal yesterday ordered exemplary compensation of Rs 10 lakh along with special family pension to Navindra Devi, widow of a soldier who had died in 1998.  The Bench comprising Justice Ghanshyam Prashad and Lt Gen HS Panag also directed that arrears of pension be paid to the widow with effect from 1998, along with interest.  The petitioner’s husband, while posted near Bikaner, developed psychiatric problems for which he was given electric shocks in a civil hospital. Thereafter, he was sent on leave to recuperate.  A few days after returning from leave, the unwell soldier walked out of the unit and went missing. He was found wandering near the Delhi railway station by the Government Railway Police (GRP) who requested the Army authorities to take him back to his unit.  However, rather than sending a team to bring back the soldier, his unit in Bikaner and the military authorities in Delhi kept writing letters to each another in this regard.  While the correspondence continued, the GRP let him go when no one from the Army came to escort him. His body was found the next day from a well.  The Army unit then showed him on leave retrospectively from the date he had wandered out of his unit. No Court of Inquiry (CoI) was conducted as Bikaner and Delhi authorities kept on shifting the blame.  After three rounds of litigation in the Delhi High Court, the court finally ordered the authorities to convene a CoI that was held 11 years after the soldier’s death.  The CoI, however, declared the death as not related to service factors and opined that the unit had readied a team to bring back the soldier from the GRP, but the team could not be ultimately dispatched.  Holding the unit responsible for callousness leading to death, the tribunal observed that there was extreme negligence in handling the issue since no care was taken to keep the soldier under medical supervision and then to bring him back from the GRP. The tribunal also observed that a CoI was not held which was mandatory under rules and the inquiry was held 11 years after the death on judicial intervention.  The tribunal also held that it was wrong for the authorities to have shown the soldier on leave retrospectively to evade responsibility. It was held that in terms of the dictum of the Supreme Court in Charanjit Kaur vs. Union of India, the widow deserved to be granted special family pension and appropriate compensation.
CRPF ‘mistakenly’ kills boy, probe ordered
Guwahati, December 9 The Assam Government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the killing of a 13-year-old boy who was yesterday shot dead by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in an alleged case of mistaken identity at Dolamara in Karbi Anglong district, official sources said in Guwahati.  CM Tarun Gogoi has announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the next of the kin of the boy even as the incident triggered mass protest in the area.  The boy was shot dead while he was going to the jungle in the morning. The CRPF personnel on duty in the area had mistaken him to be a member of an insurgent outfit and opened fire at the boy. — TNS
Making Indian army a flexible, lethal force
Barmer: The Indian army is often described as an unwieldy peasant army, ponderous and heavy footed. However, the India army is also looking at transforming into a more flexible and lethal force.  "We are looking at an army which is more lethal, an army which is more agile, an army which is technically superior and can work in a totally network-centric environment with all the services," said Army Chief Gen V K Singh.  The move is largely driven by the need to cope with asymmetric and hybrid wars, and the enormous advances in communications and surveillance technologies in firepower, all of which have underscored the need for smaller, more flexible groups of fighting men.  At Exercise Sudarshan Shakti in Rajasthan, the focus therefore was on small combat groups combining tanks and mechanised infantry, acting in concert with helicopter gunships and invisible unmanned aerial vehicles while rocket artillery hit enemy targets 120 km away.  All the action was controlled by a joint team of the air force and army, who also downloaded imagery in real time from an Indian satellite passing overhead.  "We are a large army and cannot make wholesale changes without test bedding. In this exercise we have put through most of the test beds to see which direction we need to take. At the end, a report will go to the chief who will give the final okay for implementing transformation in the Indian Army," said Lt Gen A K Singh, GOC, Southern Command.  The transformation, however, may not mean a leaner Indian army.  Army Headquarters is raising new mountain formations to counter China. Men are also needed to fight insurgencies and infiltration along often porous borders. So while some things will change, a lot else is slated to remain the same.
India-China defence talks back on track   Read more at:
India and China on Friday took a step forward to bring defence ties back on track.  The two countries agreed to maintain peace along the line of actual control (LAC), and emphasised the need to prevent tempers from flaring at the defence secretary-level annual defence dialogue in the Capital.  Stress was given on strict adherence to a 2005 protocol about the ground-level situation on the LAC.  The "range" and "scope" of defence exchanges between India and China would be gradually enhanced, but the decision on resumption of hand-in-hand army exercise has been left to a mid-level military team, that will hold discussions shortly. Only two editions of the exercise between the Indian army and China's People's Liberation Army were held before they were suspended in 2008.  Defence secretary Shashikant Sharma suggested some measures to ensure that the situation remains peaceful on LAC as the two sides are yet to resolve the boundary question.  The annual defence dialogue has taken place in the backdrop of increasing concern in New Delhi about China's massive military infrastructure development programme along the LAC.  China's growing military capability and the situation on the LAC are among the most asked questions to defence minister A. K. Antony in Parliament, reflecting the concern among the lawmakers.  The Chinese delegation was led by deputy chief of general staff Ma Xiaotian, who had attended the last hand-in-hand exercise in Belgaum, Karnataka.  The annual defence dialogue started in 2007, with the first meeting in Beijing. India had suspended defence exchanges with China in August 2010 after it denied visa to the northern army commander.   Read more at:
Top Chinese officers to train in India
Taking defence ties between the nations up a notch, a go ahead has been given by the government for the inclusion of senior Chinese armed forces officers for training courses in India and the formal mechanism is expected to be finalised during defence talks that will take place in New Delhi on Friday.  While exchanges at lower levels have been taking place, it has been decided to invite senior officers of Colonel and above rank to attend the Higher Defence Orientation Course (HDOC) that is conducted by the Army War College in Mhow. The six-week course is conducted for foreign officers as well as senior officers of the Indian Army.  The two sides are expected to work out the dates for a joint army exercise to take forward bilateral ties that got stuck after a row over China’s objection to a Lt Gen from Jammu and Kashmir heading an Indian Army delegation to Beijing. The next round of exercises will be carried out next year in China.
While two rounds of exercises have taken place, the process got stalled last year. The two sides are expected to discuss various issues, including schedule for defence exchanges and visits next year, during the fourth Annual Defence Dialogue on Friday.  The dialogue will be chaired by India’s Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma and the Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese PLA, Lt Gen Ma Xiaotian. The dialogue is taking place after a series of exchanges of military delegations on both sides in recent months.

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