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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

From Today's Papers - 17 Jan 2012
Army Chief drags govt to court
AGE ROW: First serving Chief to move SC against govt, cites ‘honour, integrity’
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 16
In an unprecedented move, Army Chief General VK Singh today dragged the government to the Supreme Court, challenging its decision over his date of birth. If the government has its way, the General will retire on May 31.

General Singh, in his writ petition, the first-ever filed by a serving Chief against the government, challenged the rejection of his statutory complaint by Defence Minister AK Antony on December 30, 2011. He also sought a stay on the implementation of the Ministry of Defence’s July 21, 2011 order that fixed the General’s date of birth as May 10, 1950.

WHEN NAVAL Chief was sacked

New Delhi: On December 30, 1998, the government sacked the then Navy Chief, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, and appointed Vice-Admiral Sushil Kumar his successor. The order was preceded by a row between Navy Chief and the then Defence Minister. The Navy Chief had declared that the order of the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) was unimplementable. The ACC had placed Vice-Admiral Harinder Singh as the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations). Admiral Bhagwat had recommended Vice-Admiral Madanjit Singh for the post. — TNS

The confusion over General VK Singh’s age stems from the fact that the Army has been maintaining two records all these years. The Military Secretary’s (MS) office says the Chief’s date of birth is May 1950 while the Adjutant General’s (AG) branch lists it as May 1951.

The General has said in his petition that the age row is a matter of integrity and honour. He has questioned the government's decision to treat his date of birth as May 10, 1950 instead of May 10, 1951 as claimed by him on the basis of his matriculation certificate and other documents.

Till yesterday, General Singh kept his plan to move court under wraps and even hosted President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister AK Antony and Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi at an Army Day function at his home.

The petition, so far, does not mention whether the General has asked for an extension in service beyond May 31, 2012 — the dated mandated by the Ministry of Defence as his retirement. The Army Chief’s tenure is of three years or 62 years of age, whichever is earlier. The General, who succeeded Gen Deepak Kapoor as Army Chief on March 31, 2010, was a para-commando and veteran of the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

To buttress his claim, the Chief’s lawyers have cited Supreme Court judgments that say the matriculation certificate is to be considered the final document while deciding on an employee’s date of birth.

Also attached to the petition is the clarification made by the Chief’s father before the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) that had raised the issue of two date of births 40-odd years ago.

General Singh’s lawyers have also stated that all his documents — commissioning, matriculation etc — mention May 10, 1951 as his date of birth. His gallantry medal citations from the President also confirm May 1951 as his year of birth. Only in the admission form filled at the time of admission to the National Defence Academy, the General - then a 14-year-old boy - filled in May 10, 1950 as his date of birth. The form was purportedly filled in by a teacher in his school in Pilani.

His lawyers have cited Section 90 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 that states any document proved to be 30 years old can be taken as authentic by the court. In this case, the General’s matriculation certificate is over 30 years old. The petition also cites Section 35 of the same act that says any entry in any public or other official book or register is itself a relevant fact. Chandigarh-based lawyer Puneet Bali is part of the Army Chief’s legal team. “Since the matter is before the judiciary, it would be inappropriate for me to comment,” he said over the phone, expressing confidence that the matter was legally maintainable and had a strong basis in law.

The General’s decision to move court has the potential, in the long run, to drive a wedge between the delicate Army-civilian relationship in the country, besides leading to an upheaval in the succession battle among top generals.
India, China begin talks
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

Joint mechanism on cards

n The talks will end on January 17 with the two sides signing an agremeent on joint mechanism on the border issue
n The mechanism will facilitate real-time contact between the foreign offices of the two countries in case of intrusions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)
n It is aimed at preventing flare-ups or misunderstandings

New Delhi, January 16
Amid hopes of an improvement in bilateral ties, the Special Representatives (SRs) of India and China today began the 15th round of talks on the long-standing border dispute between the two countries.

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon led the Indian side at the talks while the Chinese delegation was headed by State Councillor Dai Bingguo. The two sides are understood to have held discussions on a wide range of issues, conveying their respective concerns to each other.

The talks will end tomorrow with the sides signing an agremeent on joint mechanism on the border issue.

The mechanism will facilitate real-time contact between the foreign offices of the two countries in case of intrusions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). It is aimed at preventing flare-ups or misunderstandings.

The talks were scheduled for November last year but were postponed after India refused to relent to Chinese objections to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's participation in a global Buddhist conclave in Delhi.

Ahead of the talks, Dai, said to be close to Chinese President Hu Jintao, struck an optimistic note on the future of India-China relations, rejecting the theory of a rivalry between the two countries.

"While working hard to develop itself, China is fully committed to developing long-term friendship and cooperation with India. It is our genuine hope that India will enjoy prosperity and its people, happiness," Dai said in an article.

"There does not exist such a thing as China's attempt to attack India or suppress India's development. China will remain committed to the path of peaceful development," he said.

Underlining the need for closer cooperation between India and China, Dai said: "We speak with one voice and enjoy increasingly closer coordination and collaboration in multilateral mechanisms and in tackling global challenges."

"What we face is a golden period to grow China-India relations. The world has enough space for China and India to achieve common development, as there are so many areas for us to work together," he said. Dai's comments came against the backdrop of recent unsavoury developments in bilateral ties. China recently denied visa to an Indian Air Force (IAF) officer who was to be a member of the Indian military delegation to China on grounds that he was from Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian state claimed by China. This led to India scaling down its delegation from the original 30 members to 15.
Army to get upgraded Arjun tanks soon
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, January 16
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will be handing over the much-awaited upgraded Mark-II version of the Arjun tank to the Army in March for integrated user trials.

Two Arjun Mark-II tanks will be used for initial trials and validation by the Army at the Pokhran field firing ranges, said Dr S Sundresh, DRDO’s Chief Controller (Armaments, Combat Vehicles and Engineering Interface).

The Mark-II version is a development over the Mark-I and incorporates over 80 modifications to enhance the tank’s operational capability and protection. The Army began inducting the Mark-I version in 2004 after placing orders for 124 tanks to equip three regiments.

Dr Sundresh, who was on a visit to the Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) here, said that another order for 124 Mark-II tanks has also been placed by the Army.

The Mark-I version has been used in some field manoeuvres, the most recent being Exercise Sudarshan Shakti in December 2011. The Mark-I was also pitted against the T-90 for comparative trials, with DRDO claiming that its tank performed well.

However, the fact that such a large number of modifications are being carried out and remarks by some senior officers and defence analysts indicate that the Army was not too happy with the Mark-I.

One of the most important modifications incorporated in Mark-II is the capability to fire missiles. The missiles, fired through the tank’s main gun, are primarily meant for targeting armoured vehicles and fortifications over extended ranges.

DRDO has, over the past few months, been carrying out in-house trials of the Mark-II version. The tank’s cost, as stated in Parliament by Defence Minster AK Antony, is Rs 27 crore apiece, which is almost double than that of Mark-I.
When the Pakistan Army feels uneasy
Nadeem F. Paracha

Pakistan Army Chief Gen Ashfaque Kayani          The late President of Pakistan Gen Ayub Khan

The Pakistan Army as an institution is a curious creature. A self-absorbed bulky white elephant, it can suddenly transform into becoming a raging bull in a china shop every time it feels the vast political and economic space it needs to move around in is being shrunken with the help of fences and boundary walls.

Though it has lost almost all of the wars that it has fought against archenemy India, it has done well against in this respect against the people of the country it it claims to defend.

It has constantly waged brutal battles against Baloch nationalists (1960-62; 1973-77; 2003-); mercilessly wiped out whole villages with the help of tanks in the interior of Sindh (1983 MRD Movement); ran circles around MQM activists in Karachi (1992), and, of course, has been accused of engineering a genocide of Bengalis in the former East Pakistan in 1971.

More than being a dependable and effective fighting machine, the Pakistan Army has risen to become a monolithic corporate and political empire that has increasingly safeguarded its vast economic interests and social perks under the cover of being the guardians of that vague abstraction called the 'Pakistan ideology', and by constantly meddling in civilian political affairs.

In spite of all this and especially due to the fact that Pakistan's civilian set-ups have always seemed to be looking utterly chaotic and ragged compared to the shining, monolithic and high sounding cohesiveness of the army, most Pakistanis have been known to actually applaud military intervention in civilian affairs.

Though the above is true, many analysts and politicos who use this argument to endorse military intervention fail to mention the fact that honeymoon periods of military regimes in Pakistan have been rather short-lived.

All military dictators have had to eventually face not only armed insurgencies but also large scale democratic movements. The reason behind this has little to do with Pakistanis being great admirers of democracy, because constant military interventions thwarting the evolution of the democratic process has not exactly produced a democratic polity.

The main reason why military regimes have had to face intense political opposition in a not-very-democratic Pakistan is that Pakistan (unlike its monolithic military) is an extremely diverse entity with numerous ethnicities, Muslim sects and religions.

Theoretically such a diversity is best served by an uninterrupted and evolving democratic system that produces its own filtering system, checks and balances, and helps most elements of an animated diversity become part of the country's political, economic and cultural processes.

However, the Pakistan armed forces' views in this regard have usually been rather myopic and with which it has constantly tried to enforce its monolithic and narrow understanding of nationalism and faith over a diverse polity of ethnicities, Muslim sects and religions present in Pakistan.

In its pursuit to do so - ever since Ayub Khan's military regime - the military has bagged the help of various other forces of myopia and supporters of monolithic ideological constructs, such as politico-religious parties, right-wing sections of the media, conservative politicians, and many technocrats, industrialists and bureaucrats, all of whose own political and economic interests now seem to be attached to those of the military's.

That's why in the last few decades, especially ever since the mid-and-late 1970s, apart from, the military and its civilian mouthpieces have been so enthusiastic about safeguarding 'Pakistan ideology' and its Iqbal-meets-Maududi 'Islamic' raison d'ĂȘtre.

Of course, the safeguarding of the so-called Pakistan ideology (largely constructed in the 1970s after the 1971 debacle in former East Pakistan), may mostly mean the safeguarding of the military's, the religious parties' and their capitalist and bourgeois supporters' political and economic interests from the perceived 'chaos' of a democratic system that, they fear and warn, might strengthen the political and economic aspects of Pakistan's diverse polity and that this can lead to the Balkanization of the country.

That's why the military and its economic and political allies have continued to harp loudly about the 'threats' that Pakistan faces from forces that want to divide the country on ethnic and sectarian basis, and it seems one of these threats include democracy.

Over and over again whenever a democratic (rather, an anti-dictatorship) movement or even the country's largely immature and pot-holed democratic system has shown hints of liberating large sections of the population from the shackles of the vagueness and myopia we call the Pakistan ideology and hurl the people towards a more pluralistic, autonomous and progressive set of economics, politics and culture, the military has gotten nervous - as if it was about to loose a conquered people.

This is the time when it intervenes. The above process is vehemently denounced as being chaotic and a threat that may break Pakistan. And, of course, never mind the fact that things like economic corruption were largely institutionalised during the Ayub and Ziaul Haq dictatorships and the fact that the military has come under increasing criticism of being one of the most shady institutions when it comes to generating and accumulating wealth, it's allies are quick to denounce democratic set-ups as being inherently corrupt and a danger to the country's security apparatus.
NCC stepping stone to Army, says Governor
Recalling his school days, when there used to be a terrible rush to join NCC, Governor Dr K. Rosaiah said, a careful study would be made to woo more students to join NCC, which is a stepping stone to a career in the defence services.

Speaking to DC on the sidelines of the golden jubilee celebrations of the Officers Training Academy (OTA) here on Monday, Dr Rosaiah said, he would verify the actual position and take appropriate steps to persuade students to join NCC.

Interacting with the cadets of OTA, he said, no amount of words is sufficient to describe the sacrifice done by defence forces. “If you just want to live, you can somehow live.

But those valiant sons, who have sacrificed themselves for the mother land are the real heroes,” he added.

Calling the youth of the country to take a leaf from the armed forces, Dr. Rosaiah said, the armed forces maintain a secular fabric insulated from the societal evils with amazing success.

“Your apolitical colours, seamless integration of different languages, caste, creed, colour is the true reflection of India one can dream about and it is the symbol of national unity,” he told the cadets.

Lauding the services of the army officers, he said, be it external threats, internal unrest, nature’s fury or manmade disasters, Indian Army has always measured up in the most professional manner.

“It is amazing to see how you adapt so well to take on such diverse tasks with assured success, I am sure that the secret of your success lies in its young leadership,” he added.
India and China back at the table to resolve border dispute

Eric Randolph
NEW DELHI // India and China resumed border talks yesterday in the shadow of unprecedented militarisation along their shared boundaries.

The talks were postponed last November over an appearance by the Dalai Lama in New Delhi last year.

Little was expected from yesterday's talks - the 15th round since the process began in the 1980s - with both sides still trying to outline the basic framework that will allow them to resolve their long-running border disputes.

Chinese infrastructure build-up along the border has become a major source of concern for India, which increasingly sees China as a longer-term threat to its security than traditional rival Pakistan.

The Indian government last month approved a US$10 billion (Dh35bn) military development programme for its border regions, including new fighter bases, helipads, and plans for more than 5,500 "permanent defences and bunkers" along the Line of Actual Control with China. That comes on top of another US$10 billion announced earlier in the year for a new mountain strike infantry corps, that will give the army a total of 75,000 troops in the region.

The Indian Army says this is necessary to meet a possible attack by up to 30 Chinese divisions based in Tibet.

India and China - who fought a war over their 2,000 kilometre boundary in 1962 - signed an agreement in 2005 saying they were committed to finding a solution.

But since then, the negotiations have made little headway, with minor issues often interfering.

Yesterday's talks were postponed in November after reports that Beijing objected to a scheduled speech in New Delhi by the Dalai Lama, who China's Communist government labels a separatist.

Relations between the two countries were in a rut in 2011, highlighted by some belligerent comments by China last summer about India's oil exploration in the South China Sea, which China considers its exclusive zone of influence.

Both sides seem keen to start the new year on a more positive note. The Times of India carried a prominent story over the weekend in which the top army commander for the northern region, Gen KT Parnaik, emphasised there was "no threat from China".

In an editorial in The Hindu newspaper, the State Councillor Dai Bingguo, who is leading the Chinese delegation, wrote: "There does not exist such a thing as China's attempt to 'attack India' or 'suppress India's development'.

"While working hard to develop itself, China is fully committed to developing long-term friendship and cooperation with India."

Such warm words have not stopped both countries from carrying out unprecedented militarisation along their borders.

India is also concerned about China's deployment of nuclear missiles along the border, which have the capability to hit any major Indian city.
India to exercise nuke option only if attacked by n-weapons'

NEW DELHI: Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma today said the country will exercise the option of carrying out nuclear strikes if somebody does the "foolhardy" act of attacking it with atomic weapons.

"Only time this (India using nuclear weapons) could happen is when somebody who possesses nuclear weapons does something as foolhardy as to use them. That will be the only occasion when our country would be involved in (its) utilisation," the Navy Chief told reporters here.

Admiral Verma was responding to a media query on Army Chief Gen V K Singh's statement yesterday that nuclear weapons are not for fighting war but to have a strategic capability.

Noting that India had a 'no first use' policy with regard to nuclear weapons, Verma said, "It means there will be no occasion where we will use it (the weapons) first."

He said this policy was a "good one" and met all the requirements of the country.

Asked if the stand-off between the Army Chief and the government over the age issue was affecting the relationship between armed forces and defence ministry, the Navy Chief said, "No, why should...I mean why do you have these doubts."

Admiral Verma is also the Chairman, Chiefs of Staffs Committee (COSC), which includes the three Services chiefs.

Asked to comment on an incident where a young officer drowned in the sea during an exercise, he said, "There is an inquiry on and whatever the recommendations in terms of the attributability of the individuals concerned, those will be reviewed at appropriate level and whatever action is required, will be taken."

Sub Lt Bipin Kumar had died during a sea swimming drill off the coast of Gujarat on December 20 after which the Navy sacked the Captain of warship INS Talwar from his command responsibilities.
Army losing more men to landmines than war
The Indian Army is losing more personnel during peace times, and more so, while clearing landmines than in any war.

Since October 2002, when the Army began large scale mine clearing operations along the Pakistan border, it has reported 793 causalities of which 411 were killed. An international landmine expert believes that these mind boggling casualties were more due to the defence ministry’s stubbornness from taking any expert help while excavating mines.

Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, Asia regional research coordinator for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, told a select audience here that despite their persistence, the Indian Army was not following standard operating procedures (SOPs) and international practices while forcing soldiers to clear mines.

He said casualties in the Indian Army were comparably more than in any war-torn country like Angola, Mozambique, Bosnia or Croatia. He said over the past few years, more cases of soldiers falling in the trap of landmines were reported from India.

“We have gathered cases of 365 soldiers falling victims to landmine,mostly while clearing mines. This amply means that they were not following SOPs or best international practices,” said Puangsuwan, who has supervised mine clearing operations in Cambodia and other countries.
Army officers honoured for their courage
Over 60 awards, comprising medals for gallantry and distinguished services as well as 11 unit citations, were presented at a solemn investiture ceremony held at the Madras Engineer Group and Centre on Sunday. Bangalore is holding a solemn investiture ceremony after 10 years.

Posthumous awards for five men were received by their relatives.

Presenting the awards, Lieutenant General AK Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command, asked the winners to continue serve the nation.

"The fact that so many young officers won awards, some posthumously, shows young men are leading the country in crises," Singh said, adding that the ceremony, organised by Indian Army's Karnataka and Kerala sub area in Bangalore, is aimed to encourage youngsters to join the armed forces.

Major Atul Garje (Maharashtra), Major Bhanu Chandar (Andhra Pradesh), Sepoy Panneer Selvam Rajendran (Tamil Nadu), Sepoy Nagalingam Panchavarnam (Tamil Nadu) and Sepoy Rakesh Kumar Gupta (Andhra Pradesh) were awarded Sena Medal (Gallantry) posthumously.

Yudh Seva Medal, Sena Medals, Vishisht Seva Medals were also presented at the ceremony.

The following battalions/regiments were awarded General Officer Commanding-In-Chief units appreciations: 9 Horse, 18 Guards, 125SATA Regiment, 201 Army Aviation Squadron (UH), 201 Engineer Regiment, 21 Corps Grid Signal Regiment, 5 Assam, 17 Grenadiers (MOT), 10 PARA (Special Forces), 1 (I) ARMD Squadron and 16 Bihar.

List of awardees
Yudh Seva Medal: Col Amar Ramdasani (Rajasthan)
Sena Medal (Gallantry):Lt Col Siddharth Khanna (New Delhi), Maj Dheeraj Kotwal (J&K), Maj Gaurav Kanwal (Gurgaon), Maj Gaurav Bhatia (UP), Maj Ranjeet Singh (UP), Maj Gurjinder Singh Gujral (Punjab), Maj Mrinal Kumar Shekhar ( Bihar), Maj Sujit Kumar Krisnan (Kerala), Maj Ashish Swaroop (Bihar), Maj Amandeep Singh Aulakh (Punjab), Maj Madhusudan (Karnataka), Maj Sachin Sinha (UP), Maj Aman Ahluwalia (Uttarakhand), Capt Varun Khajuria (J&K), Capt Rati Kanta Mohapatra (Orissa), Maj Navrathan Jaiman (Rajasthan), Sub Ravi Kumar D (Kerala), Hav Bodele Dharmsheel (Maharashtra), L/Hav Lava KB (Karnataka), NK Anirudh Kundu (West Bengal), NK Pawan (Haryana), Sep Bhoopal Singh (Uttarakhand), Sep Bhosale Vikrant Hindurao (Maharashtra) and Sep Daljit Singh (Himachal Pradesh).

Vishisht Seva Medal: Lt Gen Philip Campose (Kerala), Maj Gen Chacho (Kerala), Maj Gen Subroto (West Bengal), Maj Gen Ranjit Singh
(Punjab), Maj Gen (Retd) Tajuddin Moulali Mhaisale (Maharashtra), Maj Gen (Retd) Pralhad Rao Muttagikar (Karnataka).

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