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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

From Today's Papers - 29 Feb 2012







http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120229/main1.htm
Govt calls off Army Chief’s visit to Israel
Ajay Banerjee/TNS
New Delhi, February 28
In keeping with its neutral stance on Israel-Iran tensions, India has asked its Army Chief General VK Singh not to travel to Tel Aviv on a scheduled official visit next month.

Officially, the Defence Ministry has cited "critical situation prevailing in the Middle-East" as the reason behind the move.

General VK Singh was scheduled to visit the country from March 16 to 18. The Chief has now been advised to travel there later this year. It means his successor - scheduled to be take over the charge on June 1 this year - will go to Tel Aviv to discuss cooperation.

Israel is India’s second largest defence equipment supplier after Russia while Iran caters to around 10 per cent of India growing crude oil needs.

Senior officials have not ruled out the latest flare-up between Israel and Iran over embassy blasts as one of the reasons for not sending the Army Chief to Tel Aviv. Israel had asked India to impose a trade embargo on Iran and implement other sanctions.

By not sending its Army Chief to Israel, New Delhi probably wants to show Iran that it was adopting a neutral stance at this juncture even as global pressure was mounting against Tehran.

After the February 13 Delhi car-bomb attack, in which an Israeli woman diplomat was injured, India has done the proverbial tightrope walk to manage its two strategic partners. It has warded off high-pitched suggestions from Israel that Iran had a hand in the attack. Home Minister P Chidambaram has made it clear that there was no evidence to link the attack to any specific country. Sources maintained that an official visit to Israel, at this stage, could send wrong signals to Iran.

All military visits are planned and cleared at least a year in advance. So, this sudden move by the government has raised many brows.

Sources said there could be other reasons for not sending Singh to Israel. One of them could be a kind of ‘trust deficit’, a fallout of the confrontation between the government and the Army chief over his age. The Ministry of Defence, however, has denied this.

General VK Singh is the first serving Army Chief to drag the government to the Supreme Court.
Reading the fine print

    Officially, the Defence Ministry has cited “critical situation prevailing in the Middle-East” as the reason behind the move
    Senior officials have not ruled out the latest flare-up between Israel and Iran over the embassy car blast as one of the reasons for not sending the Army Chief to Tel Aviv
    Sources said an official visit of the Army Chief to Israel, at this stage, could have sent wrong signals to Iran. India is adopting a neutral stance on Israel-Iran tensions



http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120229/edit.htm#1
Brakes on NCTC
Need to reform, not to scuttle

True to expectations, the Union Home Ministry has put off indefinitely the operationalisation of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre which was scheduled to start functioning from March 1. This had indeed become inevitable after the proposed body was opposed by as many as 10 State governments which included West Bengal where the Congress is in alliance with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. Evidently, the Union Home Ministry had not done its homework adequately and had to pay a price for it. While a nodal agency for counter-terror intelligence is a welcome initiative, it was clearly wrong of the Home Ministry to have not taken the states into confidence. The protesting states, with some justification, took the position that the powers of arrest and search given to the NCTC amounted to interfering with the jurisdiction of states on law and order and hence, the executive order impinged on the federal structure of the Constitution.

As things stand, the Union Home Secretary will invite chief secretaries and home secretaries of all states along with the DGPs and heads of anti-terror wings for a meeting that is likely to be held on March 10. Thereafter, the Chief Ministers will hopefully get a chance to discuss it when the Centre calls a conference on internal security a few days later. There is no way the non-Congress chief ministers who opposed the counter-terror body would agree to it in its present form. While the Centre must be prepared to hold out some concessions to address the concerns of the dissenting states, the states on their part must realize that it would be grossly wrong of them to scuttle the setting up of the counter-terror body out of political expediency.

Whenever there is a major terror strike anywhere in the country the lack of effective coordination between the State where the incident occurs and the Centre comes out starkly. It is, therefore, necessary to have a nodal counter-terror mechanism in place. The example of the United States where such a counter-terror body was set up three years after the New York Twin Towers terror strike showed that such a body can be put to good use. For India, too, the experiment can be efficacious provided the coordination is handled effectively.

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/army-chief-general-vk-singh-denied-permission-to-travel-to-israel-180672?pfrom=home-lateststories
Army chief General VK Singh denied permission to travel to Israel


Read more at:
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/army-chief-general-vk-singh-denied-permission-to-travel-to-israel-180672?pfrom=home-lateststories&cp
New Delhi:  The Ministry of Defence has reportedly denied General VK Singh permission to travel to Israel. Officially, the ministry has cited "critical situation prevailing in the Middle-East" as the reason for the denial. Sources however say the move is a fallout of the confrontation between the government and the Army chief over his age. The Ministry of Defence has denied this.

The news of the denial comes on a day when retirement orders General Singh were issued by the Military Secretary's branch, confirming that he will retire on May 31.

The government officially maintains that the situation in the Middle-East is not favorable with war clouds gathering over Iran. An official visit to Israel, it says, could send a wrong signal to Iran, with who India is doing a tight-rope walk.  However, it is note-worthy that all military visits are planned and cleared at least a year in advance. The sudden denial of the permission has therefore raised many eyebrows.

General Singh was scheduled to visit the country from March 16 to 18. He has now been advised to travel there in the latter part of the year.

General VK Singh  is the first serving Army chief to take the government to the Supreme Court over his age.  But he was forced to withdraw his petition after the court sided with the government and indicated that it was not in favour of entertaining his petition, asking for all his records to show his date of birth as May 10, 1951 and not May 10, 1950.  Documents in the Army reflect both years.


Read more at:
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/army-chief-general-vk-singh-denied-permission-to-travel-to-israel-180672?pfrom=home-lateststories&cp

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/army-issues-retirement-note-to-gen-vk-singh/159089/on
Army issues retirement note to Gen VK Singh
Press Trust of India / New Delhi Feb 28, 2012, 20:15 IST

After a delay of over seven months, the Army has finally issued a retirement note to its Chief General VK Singh communicating to him that his tenure will end on May 31, official sources said today.

Gen Singh, who is in Jodhpur today, was issued the Retirement Warning Letter (RWL) by the Military Secretary (MS) branch recently, they said.
RWL is normally given to officers about 10-11 months before their due date of retirement but it had not been issued to Gen Singh as he had filed official pleas to get his date of birth changed.

After rejecting his plea to change his date of birth to May 10, 1951, the Defence Ministry in November last year had asked the MS branch to issue the letter.

The MS branch had then expressed its inability to do so saying the matter was sub-judice.

The Army chief had at that time filed the Statutory Complaint with Defence Minister AK Antony to accept May 10, 1951 as his date of birth.

On February 10, the Army Chief withdrew his plea on the age issue in the Supreme Court which held that May 10, 1950 will remain as his date of birth in service records.

The Defence Ministry has shortlisted three seniormost officers - Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh, Army Vice Chief Lt Gen Shri Krishna Singh and Northern Army Commander Lt Gen KT Parnaik - to succeed him.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Army-chiefs-visit-to-Israel-cancelled/articleshow/12071680.cms
Army chief's visit to Israel cancelled
New Delhi: Army Chief General V K Singh's visit to Israel next month has been cancelled because of "instability" in West Asian region, particularly Syria, Government said today.

Singh's three-day official visit to Israel was scheduled to start from March 16.

"Syria is restless and other things are happening in the region...," Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju told reporters here today while replying to a question on the reasons for cancellation of the visit by the Defence Ministry.

"Primarily because of what is happening in Syria which is experiencing little turbulence. So I guess it is better. I am sure they must be better informed about the situation."

When asked why the decision was taken so late, he said, "These things can happen anytime. We cannot predict. So it is better to be cautious."

During his visit, the Army Chief was expected to discuss with his Israeli counterpart the future joint development of defence programmes.

Defence cooperation between India and Israel has been burgeoning since diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Tel Aviv were established in 1992.

The ties have become stronger in the recent times with India emerging as the largest purchaser of Israeli defence hardware since the beginning of the 21st Century.

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