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Thursday, 23 February 2012

From Today's Papers - 23 Feb 2012
Can it emerge as India’s ISI?
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 22
The Prime Minister’s letter to the chief ministers opposing the manner in which the National Counter Terrorism Centre was notified, has taken care of the primary grievance of the states that they should have been taken into confidence and consulted. The PM has effectively set the criticism to rest by asking the Union Home Minister to address the states’ concerns.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the effort will eventually settle the misgivings. The Chief Ministers, led by Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, have pointed out that law & order is a subject in the ‘state list’ of the Constitution, Mr Chidambaram is certain to point out that not only are the states not equipped to handle cross-border terrorism, but it is the responsibility of the Union Government to contain and counter terrorism.

The states, however, are far from convinced. The states, said Patnaik, were as concerned with terrorism as the Centre. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar wondered aloud to ask whether there is any instance of states not cooperating with the Centre in combating terrorism. Without the cooperation of the states, these chief ministers say, terrorism cannot be contained. Counter-terrorism, they argue, cannot be the responsibility of the Centre alone.

The states are clearly uncomfortable with the NCTC being vested with the powers of arrest and seizure, of calling from any data and information from the states and the power of overriding agencies of the states in cases involving terrorism.

They fear that the NCTC will evolve as an extra-constitutional and all-powerful body like the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in Pakistan. The apprehension stems from their experience that the party in power at the Centre tends to misuse the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). With the NCTC vested with a lot more power than the IB or the CBI, the temptation to misuse the NCTC, they feel would be great for a government in a corner.
Security experts stand divided
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 22
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States carries out investigations and operations all over the country; the federal structure of the USA does not come in the way there; so why are the states crying wolf here and objecting to the creation of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), wonders retired police officer Ajay Raj Sharma.

Even the Prime Minister, in his letter to the chief ministers objecting to the NCTC, took pains to point out that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has been involved in gathering Intelligence, in analysing them and in counter-terrorism activities. And the NCTC, the PM’s letter stressed, will be a part of the IB, which has its offices all over the country and which operates in close collaboration with law-enforcing agencies in the states.

The original idea of having a structure like the NCTC was mooted soon after the 9/11 attack in New York. But the NCTC in the United States took off in 2003 to assess terror threats, monitor terror groups, analyse Intelligence and, finally, coordinate and share information with other agencies involved in counter-terrorism.

In India, the urgency to have an apex body, a single window to process all Intelligence, was felt more acutely following the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai. And while the original deadline of making it operational by 2010 could not be met, the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security earlier this month paved the way for the body to take shape by as early as March this year.

Among experts, there is unanimity on the need to have a specialised body dedicated to “prevent terror attacks, contain them and inflict maximum pain on the perpetrators”. What they are concerned about is whether the NCTC will be an independent body or whether it will be a part of the Intelligence Bureau. The fact that an Additional Director of the IB will be Director, NCTC has given rise to these misgivings. Since the NCTC Director will be junior to the Director, IB and since the IB has been doing intelligence gathering, analysis and operations-the inefficiencies of the IB could affect the working of the NCTC, feel the experts.

There is no dispute, however, over the Centre’s legislative competence to give shape to the NCTC.
SC slams Army for obstinate approach
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday disliked the approach of Andhra Pradesh's Army College of Dental Science to demand declaration of results for its students who appeared in the 2012-13 All India Post-Graduate Dental Examination conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences without contributing seats to the all India kitty.

When counsel Dipak Kumar Jena mentioned the application seeking a direction for declaration of results of those students from dental college, a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya said the dental college run by the Army could not have the cake and eat it too.

"It is an absolutely obstinate attitude on the part of Army as well Andhra Pradesh. Either you are part of the All India Entrance Examination structure or not part of it at all. There could not be half way measures," it told the counsel. Given the court's mood, Jena requested for posting the applications along with the main petition pending on the identical issue.

The Andhra Pradesh government had decided not to be part of the pan-India quota system in post-graduate medical education because it did not want to contribute seats for the nationwide reservation. Instead it wanted to give preference to state domiciled students in its medical colleges.

The petitioner said that the Army Dental College was neither state-aided nor state-run institution and was set up to cater to the children of army personnel and ex-army men and argued that its students be allowed to take admission in other colleges on the basis of their performance in the all India test.
Has The Russian Ka-226T Forged Ahead In The Indian Army Helicopter Competition?
Eurocopter's recent letter to the Indian Army Chief of Staff complaining of delay in announcing a winner in the Indian Army 197 helicopter tender, has to be seen in the backdrop of its Russian competitor's emerging confidence in bagging the deal.

      The Ka-226T helicopter, being sold internationally by Rosoboronexport, has emerged as a dark horse in the competition meeting most of the requirements of the tender, sources told

      Separately, the Russian company has claimed that the Ka-226T showed itself excellently during the evaluation trials conducted within the tender earlier in India. "These tests clearly demonstrated that the Ka-226T had embodied the best Kamov design school achievements such as modularity, easy piloting technique, low vibration, high reliability, flight safety and low maintenance".

      Rosoboronexport has posted a release stating that the high level of survivability of the Ka-226T is because of two Turbomeca Arrius 2G1 engines.

      Even with one of its engines damaged or failed, the helicopter will be able to continue flying with one of them. The Ka-226T has a twin rotor system which increases its climb rate and hover ceiling.

      In contrast, the Eurocopter AS 550 C3 Fennec is a single engine, single rotor helicopter whose performance characteristics cannot be compared with a twin engine, twin rotor helicopter. There have been some reports that the Eurocopter was not put through its high altitude tests for reasons that India did not have a test helipad at the required altitudes.
Army accuses NRAI of biased selection after Rathore`s omission
New Delhi: The Army on charged the National Rifle Association of India of having a "biased selection policy" after one of its officer Lt Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was excluded from the 2012 London Olympics shooting squad.

Rathore, who won a silver in men`s double trap event in the 2004 Athens Olympics, failed to figure in the 11-member Indian shooting squad for London Olympics announced on February 19.

"With declaration of final list of names of shooters to represent the country in London Olympics, the NRAI has finally brought the cat out of bag. The irony is the shooters who have won the quota for the nation have been mercilessly axed. The most deserving and experienced shooters have not been considered defying all logic," Army officials said here.

"The names missing were of RVS Rathore, 50m Rifle Prone position quota winner Hariom Singh and 3 Position Rifle quota winner Imran Hasan Khan. The name considered for the quota swap are Heena Sidhu in 10m Air Pistol and Joydeep Karmakar in 50m Rifle Prone Position.

"The interesting angle is that both these shooters selection seems to have been influenced by interested groups lobbying and neither national interest nor the merit and competence have been kept in mind," the officials added.

"There is no explanation from the NRAI on why Rathore has not been considered fit to represent the nation inspite of his having equalled World Record Score in Malaysia in November 2011 and being in form. On the other hand, in 50m Rifle Prone Position event Sushil Ghaley is in much better form in head to head comparison with Joydeep Karmakar but his name also does not figure," they further stated.

The Army also lashed out at the NRAI for changing the selection criteria frequently.

"In last 16 months the Olympic selection policy of the NRAI has been changed thrice without any logical justification. On detailed analysis a pattern has emerged which clearly points out to a trend of modifying the policy to favour certain individuals," they concluded.
Non-availability of funds for Army’s modernisation plan
Indian Army’s modernisation plan for current fiscal has been seriously hit with Finance Ministry re-appropriating Rs 3,000 crore ostensibly on account of delayed spending last month and the force left with only Rs 950 crore to spend for its 106 plan proposals. Non-availability of funds has resulted in Army’s critical modernisation proposals being shelved this year. This includes procurement of ultra light howitzers for artillery, replacements in the helicopter fleet, raising of a Pinaka multi-barrel rocket regiment, component level repair facility for T-90 tanks and equipment for special forces. Besides there is a serious shortage of armour piercing shells for tanks and artillery.

Defence Ministry sources said out of a total allocation of some Rs 10,000 crore as modernisation budget 2011-2012 for the Indian Army, Rs 4,000 crore was spent by the military towards committed liabilities. Out of the remaining amount, Rs 2,000 crore was given to Director General, Ordnance Factories.

While top ministry officials said that 66% of the defence budget had been spent by December 2011, they confirmed that Finance Ministry had taken away Rs 3000 crore from Army’s modernisation budget last month as the military acquisition process was slow.

However, Army says that only Rs 320 crore has been spent on 106 proposals that were submitted the Defence Ministry for military modernisation plan at the beginning of the fiscal. “What modernisation we can do with only Rs 950 crore left for a million-strong force,” said a senior official from the headquarters.

Although the Army blames the Finance Ministry for re-appropriating Rs 3,000 crore, the latter says the money was taken back as there was no way the military could have spend it this year due to delayed decision making

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