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Monday, 19 December 2011

From Today's Papers - 19 Dec 2011`

China war: No records of Nehru writing for Israeli help
New Delhi, December 18 The External Affairs Ministry has said it has no records of any "purported" letter written in 1962 by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to his Israeli counterpart David Ben Gurion seeking help during the Sino-India war.  Responding to an RTI application filed by activist Subhash Agrawal, the MEA said diplomatic relations with Israel were established only in 1992 and therefore, the ministry has no information on the same.  The issue had come before the Central Information Commission following an appeal filed by Agrawal, who demanded a copy of the letter along with the file notings which went into drafting it.  Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi agreed with the response given by the External Affairs Ministry saying since "information sought is not available and hence, cannot be provided".  Basing his queries on a media report which claimed that Nehru had turned to Israel for help during the 1962 war, Agrawal had sought to know from the ministry the content of the letter, the response of Gurion and any other communication exchanged between both the countries. — PTI
An exclusive club
by Harwant Singh  There are some clubs so exclusive that it is nearly impossible to get their membership. Some have very special criteria, which few can meet. One such example is the Palm Beach Club in America where only multi-millionaires can seek entry.  Reputed clubs have long waiting lists. Candidates are invited to an “at home” in accordance with the seniority on the waiting list and the club managing committee members assess suitability for granting membership. Most clubs have a provision where a committee member can “black ball” a candidate, but like all Indian systems, “pull” does come into play and sometimes money passed under the table works. For the membership of golf clubs, the skill at the game too is evaluated.  The criteria for the membership of the exclusive club under discussion was unique and no “pull” or “jack” could possibly work! Memories of this club were revived when the Press reported an encounter with terrorists in the area of the Shamshabari mountain range in the Tangdhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir.  The Shamshabari mountain range is towards the northwestern edge of the Kashmir valley, across the Nastachun Pass. The highest peak of the range in the area of Tangdhar is over 18000 feet and the climb is steep, arduous and risky. This club was founded on the very top of the peak, and to qualify for its membership, one had to merely climb this peak and no less or more. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the club used to be held at the peak. Members of this club were mostly officers who had served in the Tangdhar brigade. I was perhaps the only outsider to take up its membership. It was called The Shamshabari Club.  At the AGMs, new members who had scaled the peak were enrolled. Issues of general interest such as weather, snowfall dates, any new pictures of the area and the sighting of wildlife, etc, were discussed and the date for the next AGM was decided. The area was peaceful except for odd incidents of exchange of fire along the Line of Control, which was some distance away. So, the club activities and attempts at gaining membership went unhindered. At one such AGM, it was proposed that members should suggest an insignia for the club which should depict the club’s exclusivity and adventurous spirit. The insignia could be used on a blazer coat and other appropriate places, and the members were required to bring the proposed designs for the final selection at the next AGM.  Now the DQ of the brigade, though a paratrooper, was not particularly of an adventurous disposition but, all the same, had taken the membership of this club. He, too, worked on the design. At the AGM, those who had drawn designs of the insignia were asked to display these before the house for approval. Quite a few innovative designs were presented. The last to present his design was the DQ. His was a simple and straightforward design! It showed the back of a man and underneath was scribbled the word “Punga”.  The AGM was abruptly terminated and, perhaps, the club dissolved!
Last US troops leave Iraq as war ends   Read more at:
Khabari Crossing, Kuwait:  The last U.S. soldiers rolled out of Iraq across the border to neighboring Kuwait at daybreak on  Sunday, whooping, fist bumping and hugging each other in a burst of joy and relief. Their exit marked the end of a bitterly divisive war that raged for nearly nine years and left Iraq shattered, with troubling questions lingering over whether the Arab nation will remain a steadfast U.S. ally.   Read more at:
The mission cost nearly 4,500 American and well more than 100,000 Iraqi lives and $800 billion from the U.S. Treasury. The question of whether it was worth it all is yet unanswered.  Capt. Mark Askew, a 28-year-old from Tampa, Florida who was among the last soldiers to leave, said the answer to that question will depend on what type of country and government Iraq ends up with years from now, whether they are democratic, respect human rights and are considered an American ally.  "It depends on what Iraq does after we leave," he said, speaking ahead of the exit. "I don't expect them to turn into South Korea or Japan overnight."  The war that began in a blaze of aerial bombardment meant to shock and awe the dictator Saddam Hussein and his loyalists ended quietly and with minimal fanfare.  U.S. officials acknowledged the cost in blood and dollars was high, but tried to paint a picture of victory - for both the troops and the Iraqi people now freed of a dictator and on a path to democracy. But gnawing questions remain: Will Iraqis be able to forge their new government amid the still stubborn sectarian clashes. And will Iraq be able to defend itself and remain independent in a region fraught with turmoil and still steeped in insurgent threats.  Many Iraqis, however, are nervous and uncertain about the future. Their relief at the end of Saddam, who was hanged on the last day of 2006, was tempered by a long and vicious war that was launched to find nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and nearly plunged the nation into full-scale sectarian civil war.  Some criticized the Americans for leaving behind a destroyed country with thousands of widows and orphans, a people deeply divided along sectarian lines and without rebuilding the devastated infrastructure.  Some Iraqis celebrated the exit of what they called American occupiers, neither invited nor welcome in a proud country.  Others said that while grateful for U.S. help ousting Saddam, the war went on too long. A majority of Americans would agree, according to opinion polls.  The low-key exit stood in sharp contrast to the high octane start of the war, which began before dawn on March 20, 2003, with an airstrike in southern Baghdad where Saddam was believed to be hiding. U.S. and allied ground forces then stormed across the featureless Kuwaiti desert, accompanied by reporters, photographers and television crews embedded with the troops.  The final few thousand U.S. troops left Iraq in orderly caravans and tightly scheduled flights. They pulled out at night in hopes it would be more secure and got out in time for at least some of the troops to join families at home for the Christmas holidays.  "The biggest thing about going home is just that it's home," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Gaumer, 37, from Ft. Hood, Texas. "It's civilization as I know it, the Western world, not sand and dust and the occasional rain here and there. It's home."  The last convoy of MRAPs, heavily armored personnel carriers, arrived in Kuwait around 7:30 a.m. local time (0430GMT) Sunday. Soldiers standing just inside the crossing on the Kuwaiti side of the border waved and snapped photos as the final trucks crossed over. Soldiers slid shut the gate behind the final truck.  "It's just an honor to be able to serve your country and say that you helped close out the war in Iraq," said 23-year-old Spc. Jesse Jones, who volunteered to be on the last convoy.  "It's all major things. Not a lot of people can say that they did huge things like that that will probably be in the history books."  The final troops completed the massive logistical challenge of shuttering hundreds of bases and combat outposts, and methodically moving more than 50,000 U.S. troops and their equipment out of Iraq over the last year - while still conducting training, security assistance and counterterrorism battles.  As of Thursday, there were two U.S. bases and less than 4,000 U.S. troops in Iraq - a dramatic drop from the roughly 500 military installations and as many as 170,000 troops during the surge ordered by President George W. Bush in 2007, when violence and raging sectarianism gripped the country. All U.S. troops were slated to be out of Iraq by the end of the year, but officials are likely to meet that goal a bit before then.  The total U.S. departure is a bit earlier than initially planned, and military leaders worry that it is a bit premature for the still maturing Iraqi security forces, who face continuing struggles to develop the logistics, air operations, surveillance and intelligence-sharing capabilities they will need in what has long been a difficult region.  Despite President Barack Obama's earlier contention that all American troops would be home for Christmas, at least 4,000 forces will remain in Kuwait for some months. The troops will be able to help finalize the move out of Iraq, but could also be used as a quick reaction force if needed.  Obama stopped short of calling the U.S. effort in Iraq a victory in an interview taped Thursday with ABC News' Barbara Walters.  "I would describe our troops as having succeeded in the mission of giving to the Iraqis their country in a way that gives them a chance for a successful future," Obama said.  The Iraq Body Count website says more than 100,000 Iraqis have been killed since the U.S. invasion. The vast majority were civilians.  The U.S. plans to keep a robust diplomatic presence in Iraq, foster a deep and lasting relationship with the nation and maintain a strong military force in the region.  U.S. officials were unable to reach an agreement with the Iraqis on legal issues and troop immunity that would have allowed a small training and counterterrorism force to remain. U.S. defense officials said they expect there will be no movement on that issue until sometime next year.  Obama met in Washington with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki last week, vowing to remain committed to Iraq as the two countries struggle to define their new relationship. Ending the war was an early goal of the Obama administration, and Thursday's ceremony will allow the president to fulfill a crucial campaign promise during a politically opportune time. The 2012 presidential race is roiling and Republicans are in a ferocious battle to determine who will face off against Obama in the election.   Read more at:
Polo tournament kicks off
KOLKATA: Calcutta Polo Club's first international polo tournament named the BFL Ezra World Cup to mark 150 years of its existence, kicked off at the Pat Williamson Grounds off the Calcutta Race Course on Sunday. Three international teams from USA, Italy and Indonesia are also participating in the tournament this year. Ironically, today an Italian team beat an Indian Army team at a game started in India.  "Our aim is to showcase the unique Polo heritage of the club and also catalyze the resurgence of Polo in India" said Keshav Bangur, President of the Calcutta Polo Club, while inaugurating the event.  Ezra Cups is one of the oldest polo tournaments, named after David Ezra was introduced in 1880.  The Indian Army, which is incidentally the only patron of the game, is aiding the Indian Polo Federation and the Calcutta Polo Club to host the event. The Army has also fielded the Army Polo & Riding Club (Delhi) to be a participant in the event. The final match of the tournament is to be held on 25th December is expected to be attended by the Army Chief General V.K Singh.  The inaugural event was attended by Lt General Bikram Singh GoC-C Eastern Command, Eduardo Huergo, President Federation of International Polo and other dignitaries of the sport. Carlos Gracida, a famed player of the game will also be seen playing in the tournament.  "The Indian Polo team performed really well in the other international tournaments, I am sure the game will have a bright future" said Huergo. While, Carlos Gracida expressed his desire to come to India and play in future. The first match of the tournament kicked off between Rome and Army Polo and Riding Club, with Rome beating the Army team in the 9-5.5 goal line.  Modern day polo, incidentally, is played according to the rule book formed originally in Calcutta Polo Club. Later in 1892, Calcutta Polo Club played a pivotal role in the formation of the Indian Polo Association. The first IPA championship was deservedly hosted by Calcutta Polo Club in 1907 and continued to be hosted till 1997. Incidentally, Kolkata is a home of the game which was later known to be played by the royal families of India. After a period of inactivity, the club was rejuvenated, hosting a two-week polo tournament, the "BFL Corporation Polo Season", in December 2006.
Army to get indigenous IED disposal robot tomorrow
India’s first improvised explosive device (IED) disposal robot, Daksh, will be handed over to the army authorities in the city on Monday.  A total of five units of the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) developed by the Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) (R&DE[E]), a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory, will be handed over to the army.  In an interview to DNA on Saturday, head of robotics, R&DE(E), Alok Mukherjee, said that Daksh, which was developed and manufactured in India at the cost of Rs1.7 crore each, was half the cost of imported robots. Mukherjee said that Daksh had surpassed similar category robots from the UK on 20 counts in recent comparison tests.  The robot was part of a package that also included a carrier vehicle, which could carry the robot, six personnel, a master control station, accessories and spares.  According to Mukherjee, the primary job of the robot was to detect a hidden IED or a bomb and diffuse it. Daksh is a compact robot on wheels which has a manipulator arm with six joints.  The robot, which can travel 500 metre from the master control station, is adept in cross-country situations and could even climb stairs. The operator in the vehicle has access to a portable, X-ray system, which allows him to see the insides of a bag.  “If there is a bomb inside the bag, the robot’s water jet disruptor can be activated to diffuse the bomb immediately,” Mukherjee said.  Tracing the history of Daksh, Mukherjee said that an opportunity to repair a Canadian robot at the College of Military Engineering in 2001 triggered an interest in the R&DE(E) team to develop an indigenous robot, and this is how the robotics development centre was formed in 2002.  According to Mukherjee, the first prototype of Daksh was produced in May 2005, and the army conducted trials over three years (2006-08) before giving it the thumbs up.  “The army even conducted a comparison trial with a UK-made robot and found that Daksh was better on 20 distinct counts. This is what actually clinched us the deal. The army gave us the bulk production clearance for 20 units of Daksh in September 2011.  We are happy that we could deliver the first five units in just three months,” Mukherjee said.  He is confident that the rest of the 15 units would be ready by March 2012.  Mukherjee said that Daksh would be invaluable to the armed forces, the police, the paramilitary forces and airport and railway authorities to track and diffuse IEDs in crowded places.  Mukherjee said Daksh is special because the product is completely indigenous and R&DE (E) has transferred the technology to three Pune-based companies, viz Messrs Dynalog, Theta Controls and Bharat Electronics, which are in a position to manufacture and sell the equipment with a specified royalty to be paid to the DRDO.  “The biggest advantage for the users is that the robot can be easily serviced and repaired in India,” he said.
Retd army officer, 2 others jailed for defrauding MoD
New Delhi: A retired Army officer and two other persons have been sentenced to jail by a Delhi court for defrauding the government of over Rs 22 lakhs under the pretext of purchasing store items for the Defence Ministry.  “It can be inferred beyond reasonable doubt that all the three accused were acting in connivance to attain their illegal object of defrauding the Ministry of Defence,” Special Judge VK Maheshwari said.  Lt Col (Retd) PS Rao was sentenced to two years imprisonment, while Upper Division Clerk Deepak Dutt Mudgal and his brother Rahul Dutt Mudgal were awarded four years in jail.
In 1994, Rao was posted as Deputy Director Ordinance Service (DDOS) in Inventory and Budget Control (I&BC) section at the Army headquarters here while Deepak was working under him.  The court held them guilty of criminal conspiracy, forgery, cheating, impersonation and criminal misconduct by public servant.  The court showed leniency towards Rao as he is suffering from cancer. It also slapped a fine of Rs one lakh on Rao and Rs two lakh each on Rahul and Deepak.  The CBI said the I&BC section dealt with allocation of revenue budget to various units and is not authorised to procure any store item on its own or issue sanction for its purchase.  However, Rao, in conspiracy with Deepak and his brother, opened three bogus and non-existing firms and Rahul was shown as their proprietor.  They then prepared 32 bogus bills, false sanction orders, notice inviting tenders, quotations and other related documents and got them passed fraudulently.  The agency said Rao had prepared bogus sanction orders and forged signatures of the sanctioning authority and items like paper shredding machines, laminating machines, intercom sets, dicta phones, storage cabinet and over head projectors were falsely shown as purchased.  Besides the trio, there were five other accused in the case, who were discharged by the court in 2005.
Veterans recall days of 1971 war, pay tribute to martyrs
Veterans of 1971 India-Pakistan war hailing from Gujarat and other parts of the country recalled the brave army jawans at a ceremony held in the city to celebrate the victory of Indian Army in the war that gave birth to Bangladesh.  Held a day after Vijay Diwas, the day Indian Army celebrates the gallant victory, the ceremony at Sahid Samarak in Shahibaug was attended by Colonel (retired) Kirit Joshipura, Commander (retired) K P Jani, Squadron leader (retired) Jagdeep Jagat, all veterans of the 1971 war, among others.  The ex-servicemen laid a wreath at the Sahid Samarak and offered salute. Colonel Joshipura congratulated the small gathering in his brief address.  Colonel Joshipura, Commander Jani and Squadron leader Jagat hail from Porbandar, Saurashtra and Junagadh respectively. The trio, representing Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF), had actively participated in the war.  Ads by Google  Colonel Joshipura, who was a major then, was posted at Army Headquarters in Delhi. “I was a part of the team which was looking after logistics in the run-up to the war. The team prepared maps of roads and planned operations of removing mines that were laid by Pakistani army,” 76-year-old Colonel told The Indian Express, recalling his days as an army man.  Commander Jani had just joined Navy when the war broke out. He was posted as sub-lieutenant and was going through advance training in engineering on-board INS Kaveri, a warship with the Western Naval Command. “On December 6, we tugged an Indian missile boat into Pakistani waters. The missile boat wreaked havoc on Karachi port,” Jani, 65, said.  Squadron leader Jagat was posted as a pilot officer in Delhi but was attached to Pathankot airbase in Punjab. “During the war, my duty was to load fighter aircraft with bombs and other ammunition,” Jagat, 63, said.  The ceremony was organised by Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), an organisation of ex-serviceman working for their rights.
India is not under military orders led to a new T90 tank assembly line shutdown
LONDON Dec. 18, 2007: According to the Russian military news network reported December 16, India avadi licensed production of heavy vehicles factory T-90S main battle tanks, Russia plans to have initial success, the last two years the average annual output of more than 50, production capacity will reach 100 next year . But this trend may only last until 2013, after the production line may be forced to shut down, because the Indian Army has not yet issued new orders, production cycle is related to spare parts up to 30 months.  the Indian Army’s main battle tank produced mainly by the Chennai City avadi heavy vehicles factory (HVF) is responsible. As India’s arsenal Commission (National Commission ordnance facilities)’s leading enterprises, avadi heavy vehicle plant previously produced T-72 and the “victory” tank, now focus on production of “Arjun” and T-90S tanks, factory output up to last year $ 466 million. India’s “Business Standard” December 14, revealed that, in the licensed production of T-90S tanks of the contract signed in 2001, after the initial failure to comply with Russian technology transfer agreements, leading to T-90S tanks in India, the process of nationalization of production delays six years. Now, 11 years after the commencement of the contract, the pace of licensed production in India began to accelerate. Avadi heavy vehicles factory spokesman announced that the factory has been the Indian Army in 2009 to deliver 24 tanks, delivered 51 2010, delivered this year, 50. Next year, will produce 100. In addition, the Department of Defense has approved the annual production capacity to 140. But now get the plant’s production order can only guarantee the production of 2013, after the T-90S production line it is possible to temporarily shut down.  India, “Business Standard” reporter visited last week, Al-Awadi heavy vehicles factory found that the Indian army assembled T-90S tanks in the workshop production of almost all activity stopped. Although the Indian Army plans to purchase 1,000 T-90S tanks, and Russia has paid license production costs, but the plant is only the order of 300 tanks. The new order has not yet been issued, expected by mid-2013 after completion of existing orders, T-90S tanks and production lines will be discontinued.  responsible avadi heavy vehicles factory Affairs Committee of the Indian arsenal Finance Manager Jain said: “In the next issue of the order of T-90S, we will work closely with the General Staff and the Defense Department. The development of new product cycle, including delivery of materials and accessories, is about 30 months. it takes so long to get the orders, shipping materials, manufacture, installation and delivery of finished products, we are, and the Army Deputy Chief of Staff to discuss this issue, we Department of Defense has also been requested to discuss this issue. “  Jain pointed out that, in order to ensure the expansion of T-90S tanks capacity, avadi heavy vehicle factory set to purchase additional equipment. The factory is responsible for production of T-90S main parts, including body, turret, transmission, chassis, etc. Another factory is responsible for local production of engines. More than 1,000 other small parts are also produced by local companies. T-90S tanks currently 70% of production tasks has been to focus avadi region next year, this indicator will increase to 80%. All of these separate components with a lead time of 30 months, by the factory after assembly. However, there is no sure avadi heavy vehicles factory-assembled T-90S tanks factory has eliminated all manufacturing defects, the Indian army will not be issued a temporary new production orders. He explained: “The military want to carefully study their licensed production T-90 tanks in the hope that in the end-user point of view of the tank after the formation of their own under the new order. Military experiments being only the first delivery 2009-2010 24 tanks, in order to properly assess its efficiency and we delivered in 2010-2011 to 51 tanks have not yet been properly used. “  Indian Defense Ministry refused to answer why it has not yet issued a new The T-90S tanks issue production orders. Obviously, the order will be issued in batches to reduce negative impact on cost of the tank. Indian Affairs is responsible for the defense industry defense minister Manmohan Singh was in November 30, 2006 that Indian imports from Russia finished type the full price of T-90S tanks, $ 2.5 million, while the use of Russian components in the assembly of Al-Awadi tanks worth $ 2,750,000. Now, avadi licensed production of heavy vehicles factory tank prices have risen to $ 3,350,000. In response to high-volume production plant officials Hou Tanke prices will reduce the number of issues that may be reduced 25-30%. If the military ignored this cost savings may lead to future 700 T-90S tanks to increase the production cost an additional 38 million rupees ($ 710,000). Indian military orders are often issued in batches so that the production of defense industry enterprises into a passive, even state-owned military giant Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Bharat Electronics Limited is no exception. Official confirmation of these enterprises, often intermittent orders can not be ordered to make arrangements for business cycle, but also for the effective use of skilled workers have a negative impact and duration. (Shu-shan)

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