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Thursday, 22 December 2011

From Today's Papers - 22 Dec 2011





Tech snag postpones twin test of Prithvi-II
Balasore (Odisha), Dec 21 A twin user trial of India's nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile by the Army was deferred today due to a technical problem at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur near here.  "The test was postponed due to a technical snag," said ITR Director SP Dash, adding that the date for future trial would be decided after correcting the problem. The ITR director's statement came in the midst of media reports that the two missiles had failed to take off during the twin trial. "I don't know on what basis they have concluded that the trial had failed," Dash said.  Defence officials and scientists associated with the trial were tight-lipped on what exactly led to the postponement of the test.  Two indigenously developed surface-to-surface missiles were planned to be fired from a mobile launcher in salvo mode from the launch complex-3 of the ITR as part of user trial by the Army, defence sources said.  The missiles were randomly chosen from the stock of the Armed forces and the entire launch activities were to be carried out by the Strategic Force Command and monitored by the scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation as part of training exercise, they added.  Prithvi, the first missile developed under India’s prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme has the capability to carry 500 kg of warheads.  It has a length of 9 meters with one metre diameter and thrust by liquid propulsion twine engine, uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory and reach the targets with few meter accuracy.  The last trial of Prithvi-II was successfully carried out with high accuracy of better than 10 meters from the same base in September. — PTI
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20111222/nation.htm#4
                     
Chinese troops damaged wall in Tawang: Antony
New Delhi, December 21 Chinese troops had in July this year damaged a 200-feet stone wall which was built 250 m inside Indian territory in the Tawang area of Arunachal Pradesh, the Government told the Rajya Sabha today.  "As per the established mechanism with China, a strong protest was lodged with the Chinese side on the action of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) patrol in a flag meeting (between the two sides)," Defence Minister AK Antony said.  In reply to a question, the minister said the attempt by the PLA to raze the wall was prevented by the Indian Army.  "In July, a PLA patrol attempted to cross a 200-feet wall of loose stones constructed 250 m on our side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Yangtse area of Tawang, which was prevented by our troops," Antony said.  The stone wall was partially damaged by the PLA patrol, but it has been reconstructed, he said.  The 200-m long wall was constructed by the Indian Army for protection against the icy winds during the patrol duties.  "There is no commonly delineated LAC between India and China and there are few areas along the border where both have different perception of the LAC," Antony said.  both sides patrol up to their respective perceptions of the LAC due to its perceived differences in alignment.  Replying to a question on infrastructure development along the Chinese border, he said 10 railway and 73 roads projects have been identified in North and North East regions.  "The Army has identified 73 roads as critically and strategically important. In addition to this, 10 railway projects have also been identified for development in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh," Antony said. — PTI
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20111222/nation.htm#9
                     
The tamed tiger
by Raj Kadyan  I was on short winter leave from Nagaland where I had been commanding a battalion. My family was in government quarters in Delhi Cantonment. Telephone connections those days were hard to get, and we were lucky to have one. It was also used by many of our neighbours.  It was early in the morning when the telephone rang. My wife sent the domestic help to call the girl from across the road. The call was from her father who was commanding a division in Ladakh. I knew the General. As a Captain he had been our platoon commander in the Indian Military Academy. He carried a very high professional reputation. But he was a stickler for discipline and his temper was always on short fuse. As cadets, we unofficially had prefixed “terror” to his surname.  The girl came shortly, wearing her gown. She was an airhostess. Her somewhat dishevelled state showed that she must have been on a late night flight and was pulled out of bed by the call. She also carried a bad cold. She took the phone. It had been over five minutes since the call came. The operator told her that the General had perhaps left for the office and that she should hold on. Another two minutes of silence, broken only by the hapless girl’s sneezing.  The operator came on the line again to say that the General had not reached the office and, perhaps, had gone to the officers’ mess. The operator said he was searching for him and that the madam should remain on the line. After all, the operator could not afford to keep the General waiting. More silence and sneezing followed. It must have taken nearly 10 minutes before the General came on the line. Then all hell broke loose.  “Look here”, the daughter said in a raised voice, “I don’t care what General you are in the Army. Next time you want to talk to me, you better come on the line first.” It was fortuitous that we did not hear the voice at the other end. It would have been unsavoury to hear a grovelling father, that too a “terror” General of the Army. We could only hear the daughter letting him “have it” through her tears and sobs. Out of the epithets she used, ‘bullshit’ was perhaps the least offending.  My wife did her best to play a motherly role. After the call she gave her coffee and an arms-around comfort. I could not help looking at our carpet-crawling nine-month-old daughter and wondering what lay in store for me as a father.  It did not take me many summers to experience the unbounded pleasure of being bullied by a daughter.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20111222/edit.htm#5
                     
To prove Sukhois safe, IAF Chief flies one
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, December 21 In an attempt to restore the nation’s confidence in front-line fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30-MKI, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne made an hour-long sortie in the fighter this morning.  IAF officials said he personally wanted to ensure that the Sukhois were safe, adding that the Air Chief performed several manoeuvres during his flight.  Addressing the men and officers at the station, the IAF Chief said, “I wanted to be here to not only fly the SU-30 MKI, but also to meet all of you and assure you that our SU-30 fleet is in good and capable hands.”  After his sortie, Browne announced that the momentum of building up the new SU-30 squadrons needed to be maintained. There have been three crashes of the twin-engined Sukhois in the past three years. The latest one happened last week near Pune forcing the fleet to be grounded. It had sent alarm bells ringing in strategic circles as the plane is the latest acquisition from Russia that is produced in India under licence.  It is India’s most potent air-strike asset and is being modified to deliver the supersonic missile BrahMos. Its speed and long-range capability is unmatched by other air forces of the region like those of China and Pakistan.  Air Chief Marshal Browne made an hour-long sortie at the Pune airbase today. He was accompanied by Wing Commander Anurag Sharma, Commanding Officer of the SU-30 MKI squadron based in Pune. The Sukhoi is a twin-pilot configuration plane.  Notably, Browne’s son, Omar, is also a Sukhoi pilot. The chief’s sortie today is being seen as a step to state that the Sukhois will fly and more will be added.  The warplanes are based in Bareilly in Western UP, the North-East and are slated to be based in Punjab next year.  The report of the Court of Inquiry (CoI), which was ordered after the December 13 crash, is yet to come. Russian experts have also been called in to assist in the probe. The two earlier crashes in 2009 were caused by the failure of the fly-by-wire control system.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20111222/main7.htm
                     
'Army has zero tolerance for human rights violation'
The army on Wednesday reiterated its commitment 'to uphold human rights while dealing with elements inimical to the security of the country'.
Speaking at a seminar on human rights titled 'changing concept of human rights in present environment', Lt Gen K T Parnaik, GOC-in-C, northern command said, "The army has institutionalised the aspect of human rights by setting up human rights cells at various levels in the army in March 1993'.   "It indeed happened six months prior to the creation of National Human Rights Commission by the government, which is an indication of the seriousness the army attaches to this issue," Lt Gen Parnaik said.  The army commander also went on to add that 'the armed forces are the last bastion of the country, made responsible to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the State and has a huge responsibility on its shoulders to operate against the inimical elements, keeping the tenants of human rights uppermost  in our minds'.   "The army has a policy of zero tolerance for Human Rights violation and has tried to be as transparent as possible," he said  He informed the august gathering that 'army operations have evolved over a period of time and there is a change that has taken place in army's thinking, operating procedures, rules of engagement which flows straight from army's well formulated conventional doctrine of "Iron Fist with a Velvet Glove".  Defence spokesman S N Acharya said, the seminar held at Akhnoor Jammu was attended by an audience of approximately 350 army officers, 45 paramilitary force officers, 16 IAS probationers and 250 students of schools and colleges.  He said the seminar on the first day during the first two sessions examined the emerging trends in human rights in the light of the contemporary conflict dynamics in Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ] and the perceptions of the local population.  "The deliberations evaluated the role of the armed forces in upholding the human rights and freedom of people in insurgency affected areas. All speakers freely shared their views. The proceedings were marked by healthy interactive session on each topic," he said.  The seminar witnessed a number of issues related to human rights covered by various eminent speakers over a period of two days. A large number of college and school students from Jammu, Akhnoor and Sunderbani also shared their valuable thoughts on the subject during the interactive session held on both the days of the seminar on each topic, he said.  The seminar culminated with the closing address by Lt Gen A S Nandal GOC, White Knight Corps.  In the statement the spokesman said 'the seminar was an effort on part of the army to generate awareness about issues related to human rights and will prove invaluable in evolving the strategy of the armed forces to meet the emerging challenges and carry out people centric operations'.
http://www.rediff.com/news/report/army-has-zero-tolerance-for-human-rights-violation/20111221.htm
                     
Twin test of Prithvi-II postponed: ITR director
BALASORE (ODISHA): A twin user trial of India's nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile by the Army was deferred today due to a technical problem at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur near here.  "The test was postponed due to a technical snag," ITR director S P Dash told PTI, adding that the date for future trial would be decided after correcting the problem.  The ITR director's statement came in the midst of media reports that two missiles had failed to take off during the twin trial. "I don't know on what basis they have concluded that the trial had failed," Dash said.  Defence officials and scientists associated with the trial were tight-lipped on what exactly led to the postponement of the test.  Two indigenously developed surface-to surface missiles were planned to be fired from a mobile launcher in salvo mode from the launch complex-3 of ITR as part of user trial by the Army, defence sources said.  The missiles were randomly chosen from the stock of the Armed forces and the entire launch activities were to be carried out by the Strategic Force Command (SFC) and monitored by the scientists of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) as part of training exercise, they added.  Prithvi, the first missile developed under India's prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) has the capability to carry 500 kg of warheads.  It has a length of 9 meters with one metre diameter and thrusted by liquid propulsion twine engine, uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory and reach the targets with few meter accuracy.  The last trial of Prithvi-2 was successfully carried out with very high accuracy of better than 10 meters from the same base in September, 2011.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Twin-test-of-Prithvi-II-postponed-ITR-director/articleshow/11190941.cms
                     
CBI to probe into army plot sale?
MUMBAI: The state's decision to sell a 55,000 sq ft plot of land occupied by the army at Kandivli (W) to Neo Pharma Private Limited, a subsidiary of the Kalpataru Group, has returned to haunt it.  Local authorities in the Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa headquarters of the Indian Army have been asked to keep all documents pertaining to the Kandivli deal ready after indications that the army headquarters in Delhi is all set to ask for a probe by the CBI in the issue.  The Army HQ's move follows the report of the Court of Inquiry conducted by Major General Aniruddha Chakravarthy, general officer commanding, Pune sub-area on the issue.  Though an internal probe earlier this year had questioned the role of R P Singh, then chief vigilance officer, in the issue, the Director-General of Defence Estates (DGDE) has not yet taken any action against Singh.  As no chargesheet was filed thereafter, the Central Administrative Tribunal, on a petition filed by Singh, last week directed DGDE to follow rules and promote him.  Singh had granted the No Objection Certificate (NOC) which led to the sale of the defence plot to the private developer. The department's internal inquiry showed that Singh had issued the NOC in 1994 to Neo Pharma despite stringent objection voiced by the Central Ordinance Depot and had suppressed the fact that the land was on hire by the defence ministry for decades.  "What takes the cake is that the NOC issued by Singh was found in a mutilated condition in another land file. The NOC could not have been issued by Singh as army rules clearly stipulate that only the ministry of defence can issue an NOC for transferring defence land to any private or state body," said an official on condition of anonymity.  Singh had then been transferred as director of defence estates in Jammu even though the post was already filled.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/CBI-to-probe-into-army-plot-sale/articleshow/11199641.cms
                     
Unacceptable delay
Armed Forces need new equipment now  Every time the subject of the country’s defence preparedness is raised in Parliament, the Government assures the people that the Armed Forces are well prepared to meet any military aggression from across the borders. While there is no disputing the fact that our Armed Forces personnel are prepared to defend the country with the last drop of their blood — they have done so on more than one occasion in the past — the question that needs to be asked is: Are they adequately equipped to meet the challenges? Wars are no longer fought with swords and lances — even in hand-to-hand combats — but are waged and won with the help of sophisticated weaponry, besides razor-sharp intelligence inputs. But, as a recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General has pointed out, the Indian Army continues to battle with “guns of obsolete technology of 1970s vintage”. The report, which has been tabled in Parliament this week, brings to the fore all that is wrong with our policy when it comes to acquiring arms and ammunition for the Armed Forces. A case in point is the inordinate delay in acquiring modern field guns. Ever since the infamous Bofors scandal broke out in the 1980s, the Indian Army has not been able to purchase a single artillery gun, although it today needs as many as 1,600 of these. While it is true that the outrage over the Bofors bribery scandal, whose beneficiary is known for his proximity to the Congress’s first family, has led to a more stringent procedure for the identification and acquisition of weapons, but now it seems that caution has become a cover for inaction at various levels. For instance, as the CAG has pointed out in its report, the Army brass is yet to precisely define the features required in new field guns. As a result, the Army has had to do without field guns of contemporary technology for over a decade and continues to depend on antiquated weaponry. That’s unconscionable. Nor can the Army brass justify spending five long years on trial evaluation of field guns that are still being developed. Why can’t the Army insist on getting the best field guns with a proven track record that are available in the market? The shameful bribery scandal apart, the Bofors guns were the best available then and rendered enormous service during the Kargil war.  If senior Army officers responsible for selecting the new generation field guns have been dawdling over the choice for inexplicable reasons, the political leadership is not alert to the looming crisis either. Union Minister for Defence AK Antony is a man of unimpeachable integrity and nobody will ever question his intention if he were to actively push for speeding up the acquisition process. Yet, Mr Antony, no doubt wary of fingers being pointed at him by his detractors, has chosen to go slow. He does realise the necessity to make the Armed Forces stronger and fill up the yawning gaps in the hardware inventory of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. To his credit, he has taken praise-worthy initiatives to strengthen India’s line of defence along its border with China. But strangely, there has been little or no movement on the purchase of military hardware. This situation cannot continue any longer. The issue is not one of finances — there are enough funds to pay for new state-of-the-art acquisitions. The delay is purely on account of a reluctance to go ahead and do the right thing. It’s time Mr Antony led from the front.
http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/item/50718-unacceptable-delay.html
                     
How India's Bureaucracy Stays Unaccountable
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh boosted transparency in 2005 when he passed the Right to Information Act, or RTI, designed to give citizens better access to government records. But for the past couple of months, Mr. Singh has been talking about revisiting the act—for the worse.  Mr. Singh's says he wants to protect the "deliberative processes" of officials who now claim to be bogged down by RTI petitions seeking documents. More likely, those officials are scared of writing memos that reflect what they really think, lest that memo should suddenly become a liability when released under the act. The government wants to dilute the RTI by creating lots of exceptions for what information a citizen can access. Instead the act needs to be strengthened.  The passage of the act has improved accountability to some extent and enhanced ordinary citizens' understanding of government and politics. Hence, for instance, government bureaucracies that deliver services, like passports or driving licenses, are increasingly responsive to citizens who can drop the threat of an RTI to get work done faster. This is introducing an element of transparency in decision making.  But this hasn't been enough. The big problem is that the government's implementation of RTI is weak. Caveats for justifiable national-security cases are built into the law. Yet even for matters that don't need opaqueness, bureaucrats have stonewalled information gatherers or ignored diktats from the Chief Information Commission (CIC), the judicial office that oversees RTI.  Consider my own experience. Researchers of defense policy like me need access to government data, but the Indian military does not adhere to declassification procedures. Frustrated by the lack of primary material related to the defense ministry's organizational structure from the 1940s to 1980s, I filed an RTI request in 2009 against the Ministry of Defence and the three armed services, seeking six documents. A torturous year shuttling between different offices later I finally appealed to the CIC in August last year. But I heard from the CIC only eight months later. This exposed the first loophole in the implementation of the RTI—the CIC can take as long as it wants to call for the first hearing.  The course of my hearings threw up more surprises. Admitting it had one of the documents in question, the army claimed that it was still sensitive to national security and could not be declassified. Anticipating this I had made a caveat in my petition: that if there was any matter in these documents still sensitive then this could be redacted with a security deletion and the rest of the report could be shared. This information was anyway dated and secondary literature on it was already in the public domain. Something similar was done with a committee report that investigated the failures leading to the 1999 Kargil war in Kashmir.  But the army bureaucracy refused, instead offering to share the report with the CIC and leaving it to that office's judgment. The CIC in turn refused to make the report public arguing that he could not "substitute my own judgement for that of the Army top brass."  Mine isn't the only example. Journalists Kuldip Nayar and Sandeep Unnithan,have both filed RTIs to get access to records relating to India's 1962 war and 1971 war, respectively. In these cases, the CIC accepted the logic of declassification and instructed the relevant ministries to follow a logical and mature declassification policy. But these instructions went nowhere.  In other democracies, declassification is done by an expert body of scholars, historians and bureaucrats who deliberate and decide what to restrict and what to declassify. In India this process is missing. Bureaucrats who created the documents control their declassification. And they often are gripped by a fear of what will be revealed.  The RTI law in theory should signal to bureaucrats to start being accountable. Yet in practice, there is no political will from New Delhi to instruct bureaucracies to help ordinary citizens with information, or give them the manpower to do so. In this environment, bureaucrats can easily avoid this law.  These episodes suggest that the RTI act needs to be bolstered. First, the staff strength of the CIC needs to be augmented. Second the powers of that body must be strengthened. CIC officials should be allowed to initiate contempt proceedings against bureaucrats that do not implement its orders. In my case, at least the CIC advocated declassification at first. Third, all RTI requests and information gleaned through them must be shared on the Internet. Finally, the CIC must hear from experts during its deliberations. It cannot argue, as it did in my case, that one cannot substitute for the judgment of the military. Without such modifications, the obvious loss is for democratic accountability.  This legal issue can have profound implications for India's democracy. Without access to government documents, academics—especially historians—can only compose hagiographies of leaders or one-sided views of political events. The government denies citizens greater understanding about big events such as India's 1962 war against China, and may unfortunately skew their views. It's time to lift the veil of secrecy.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204552304577111950879387664.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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