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Saturday, 21 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 21 Apr 2012






http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120421/main2.htm
Govt can’t release SSC women Army officers from service: SC
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

Asked to go on leave

A petition filed by women Army officers says they have been asked to proceed on leave in view of their impending release from service on May 10 despite the Delhi High Court issuing a directive on March 12, 2010 to offer them permanent commission.

Defence Ministry decision soon

The Defence Ministry counsel contended that a copy of the petition had been given to the ministry officials and a decision was likely to be taken in a couple of days.

New Delhi, April 20
The Supreme Court today took the government to task for releasing Short Service Commissioned (SSC) women officers of the Army from service at the end of their tenures despite the fact that the Delhi High Court had issued a directive on March 12, 2010 to offer them permanent commission.

“Why do you keep issuing release orders? We will stay these orders” to prevent complications, a Bench comprising Justices RM Lodha and HL Gokhale observed.

The Bench was hearing arguments on a petition filed by some of the women officers who have been asked to proceed on leave in view of their impending release from service on May 10.

The Defence Ministry counsel, however, resisted the court’s move, contending that a copy of the petition had been given to the ministry officials only last evening and that a decision was likely to be taken in a couple of days.

In the wake of the ministry’s decision, “there may not be any need for the court to pass an order,” the counsel contended.

Appearing for the petitioners, counsel Rekha Palli said though the government had challenged the high court verdict the apex court had not stayed the operation of the HC judgment. Hence, the government could not release the SSC women officers.

She, however, acknowledged that some such officers had been given provisional extension and some had been reinstated, pending the SC verdict on the appeal.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120421/nation.htm#1
Ex-Army officer gets life for killing boy

Chennai, April 20
Retired Army officer K Ramaraj was sentenced to life imprisonment by a fast-track court here on Friday for last year's killing of a 13-year-old boy who had entered his residential premises to pick almonds.

The court also levied a fine of Rs 60,000 on Lt Col (retd) Ramaraj (50) of which Rs 50,000 has to be given to the family of the victim K Dilshan, said a prosecution lawyer.

The judge also found Ramaraj guilty under two Sections of the Arms Act and awarded him prison terms of three years and one year each, besides a fine of Rs 10,000. All the sentences would run concurrently.

The shooting of the boy for trespassing raised a nationwide uproar with people demanding exemplary punishment for the killer.

Reacting to the judgment, Dilshan's mother K Kalaivani told reporters assembled at the court, "I am happy. It is a good judgment. This will be a lesson to everybody. Such incidents should not happen to anyone, anywhere in the world.”

A prosecution lawyer told reporters that the hearing by the court began in September and ended on April 11. Around 55 witnesses were examined by the court. The police had submitted 45 exhibits and 13 material objects, besides the murder weapon.

The Tamil Nadu Police cracked the case within a week of the killing of the boy.

According to the police, Ramaraj was irritated by the boy trespassing into residential premises housing retired and serving Army officials to pick up almonds.

The police had charged that Dilshan was shot by Ramaraj from the balcony of his residence on July 3 last year when the boy and his friends residing nearby entered the residential campus to pluck almonds.

Dilshan was fatally wounded and succumbed to injuries in a hospital. Ramaraj has three sons serving in the Army.

The murder investigation was taken over by the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID). The police had initially suspected some other official but later ruled out his involvement and zeroed in on Ramaraj.

According to the police, Ramaraj, who retired from service last year, had acquired a 0.30 calibre Springfield rifle in 2004 when he was posted in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. The gun licence had expired and Ramaraj had applied for licence renewal.

The Army officers here were not aware that Ramaraj was in possession of a rifle. Ramaraj had later thrown the rifle in the Cooum river here. It was recovered by the police.

Twelve probe teams were constituted to crack the case. — IANS

Just for almonds

n On July 3, 2011, 13-year-old K Dilshan and his friends entered a residential premises housing retired and serving Army officials to pick up almonds

n According to the police, Dilshan was shot by Lt Col (retd) Ramaraj from his balcony

n He was fatally wounded and succumbed to injuries in a hospital

n Ramaraj threw his 0.30 calibre Springfield rifle in the nearby Cooum river. It was recovered by the police

n The 12 teams of the Tamil Nadu Police that were constituted to probe the case cracked it within a week

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120421/nation.htm#2
Agni missile programme to be honed further, says Saraswat
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 20
The launch of ‘Agni-V’ missile yesterday proves beyond doubt that India has the capability and competence to develop a long-range missile, DRDO chief VK Saraswat said today.

Talking to the media, he said the DRDO would conduct two or more validation tests over the next 18 months, after which it would be ready for production and handing them to the armed forces for training and user trials.

Emphasising that Agni V, with a range of over 5,000 km, was sufficient to cater to the country’s strategic requirement in the wake of the threat perception, Saraswat clarified that there was no proposal to cap the programme. The Agni missile programme would continue and be honed further.

He, however, was not keen to enter into a debate on whether Agni V could be characterised as an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile that starts with a range of 5,500 km.

While yesterday’s test carried a single dummy warhead, the DRDO has started work on the Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV), known as a collection of nuclear weapons, but has not decided when to fit it on the missile. One major benefit of Agni V is that the booster technology would give the country the ability to launch satellites on demand that might be required in war theatre situations when existing satellites are affected requiring rapid deployment of mini or micro satellites in low-orbit for navigation and communication purposes.

Agni V can hit targets 8,000 km away, says Chinese expert

Beijing: Du Wenlong, a researcher at China’s PLA Academy of Military Sciences, told the Global Times that the Agni V “actually has the potential to reach targets 8,000 km away”. Du added that "the Indian government had deliberately downplayed the missile's capability in order to avoid causing concern to other countries". — IANS

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120421/nation.htm#10
CBI quizzes Army Chief
Syed Ali Ahmed
Tribune News Service

Gen VK Singh New Delhi, April 20
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today recorded the statement of Indian Army Chief General VK Singh following the allegation that a retired officer had tried to offer him a bribe of Rs 14 crore in 2010 to clear a tranche of sub-standard vehicles.

Sources said the Army Chief was questioned in the Central Bureau of Investigation’s South Block office for about two hours today by a team of senior officers of the investigating agency. The team was led by deputy inspector general (DIG) of police. He reached the CBI office at 1.30 a.m. and left at 12.30 p.m. The Army Chief was given a questionnaire by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

According to the sources, the Army Chief clarified all the questions asked by the investigating team. The Army Chief also told the team members if any question remained he was ready to clarify that in future.

The Army Chief, in a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation, had alleged that a retired officer, Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh, had met him at his office on September 22, 2010, and offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore on behalf of Vectra group chairman Ravinder Rishi for clearing a deal of ‘substandard’ Tatra trucks for the army. While questioning, the investigating team asked Gen VK Singh why he delayed the complaint and reported about the bribery offer two years later. So far, the Central Bureau of Investigation has not registered any first information report (FIR) on the basis of the Army Chief's allegation. The agency is conducting its preliminary probe to find more evidence before registering the case. The Central Bureau of Investigation asked him about the hard evidence that he had promised.

The Army Chief made the allegation in a media interview that had shocked the government following which Defence Minister A.K. Antony ordered the CBI to probe the matter "comprehensively".

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120421/edit.htm#1
In the big league
Agni V launch raises nation’s stature

The successful maiden launch of the Agni V missile from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast on Thursday has propelled India into the big league of nations that have the ability to launch Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). Agni V has gone further, by 2000 km than any Indian missile, and faster too — it moves at 24 times the speed of sound. The Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO)-deserves more than a pat on the back for this achievement. The 5000 km range of the missile and its sophistication are impressive indeed. Even more commendable is the fact that as much as 80 per cent of the missile is indigenous, including its engines and navigation systems.

The DRDO has also shown that it has now harnessed private sector manufacturing for its missile programme, something that bodes well for the commercialisation of Agni V missiles. This commercialisation is necessary to produce the 60 or so missiles necessary to provide a credible deterrent. Indeed, this launch was a technology demonstrator, and operational capability is a few years away. India is not in any kind of an arms race with its neighbours. It is just seeking essential security measures, given its threat perception. The launch of the ICBM will, however, be a deterrent in an environment wherein two of India’s neighbours have their own missile-based weapons delivery systems. Pakistan has its missiles, but China has a whole range of ICBM missiles, and a huge industrial complex to support its ventures, necessitating the need for India to beef up its armoury.

It will take a while before Agni V can achieve its stated goals, which include the development of capability to fire from mobile platforms. Before it achieves operational status, the DRDO scientists and others involved in the project have much to do, and miles to go. They have started in a blaze of glory and surely that will help them brace themselves for the days ahead.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120421/edit.htm#4
Facts vs bluff on Siachen
Kayani’s suggestion worth pursuing
by B.G. Verghese

There has been a flurry of interest after Gen Ashfaque Kayani declared that India and Pakistan must live in peaceful coexistence as defence without development is neither viable nor acceptable. Hurrah! He saw all issues as capable of resolution and Siachen as an urgent starting point. This impassioned appeal followed the tragic death on April 7 of 138 Pakistani troops in an avalanche “while on Siachen”. He said, “Everyone knows why the army is here … because in 1984, the Indian Army occupied the area and in response to that the Pakistan army was sent in”. The facts are otherwise.

General Kayani has also got the genesis of the problem wrong though he rightly asserts that both sides are paying a high price in blood, treasure and environmental costs. Pakistan’s solution calls for an Indian withdrawal from the glacier. India in turn is willing to accept a mutual pullback and redeployment of troops to agreed positions provided Pakistan acknowledges the present “Actual Ground Position Line” (AGPL) that it holds. These are the proffered “solutions”. The Indian Army, however, fears that Pakistan could renege on the agreement and send troops dressed as “mujahideen” to occupy Siachen as it brazenly attempted to annex Kashmir in 1947 and again in 1965 and the Kargil Heights in 1998.

The Siachen “solutions” overlook the problem. The critical date is not 1984 but July 29, 1949, when the Cease-Fire Line Agreement was signed in Karachi by ranking military representatives of India and Pakistan and the UN Military Observer Group. It delineated the entire CFL, demarcating over 740 km on the ground. With the CFL increasingly running through high mountains and glaciated areas as it traversed north, it often followed a directional path in the absence of clear landmarks. Thus, finally, “Chalunka (on the Shyok River), Khor, thence North to the glaciers”, passing through grid reference NJ 9842.The segment beyond NJ 9842 was not demarcated, being an elevated glaciated, unexplored and unpopulated region that had seen no fighting. A plebiscite was soon to follow and the matter, it was assumed, would soon be settled.

The delineation of this segment of the CFL was, however, unambiguous: NJ 9842, “thence north to the glaciers”. If everyone of 30 or more earlier directional commands were meticulously followed in tracing the CFL, there was no reason whatsoever for any departure from this norm in the case of the very last command. “Thence North” could only mean due north to wherever the boundary of J&K State lay. The very next section crucially directed that the line be drawn “so as to eliminate any no man’s land”. Therefore, the Line could in no way be left hanging in the air. Certain sectors along the CFL were also to be demilitarised but if deployed, troops would remain “500 yards from the ceasefire line.…”

The CFL was ratified by both sides and deposited with the UNCIP. It was revalidated as the LoC after Simla, and incorporated the military gains made by either side in J&K in the 1971 war. In the Kargil-Siachen sector, all gains thereby went entirely to India which acquired the Turtok salient just south-west of NJ 9842.

Earlier in 1956-58, during the UN-designated International Geophysical Year, an Indian scientific team led by the Geological Survey explored the upper Nubra and Shyok Valleys, mapped and measured the Siachen and other glaciers and publicly recorded its findings.

No protest followed. Why? Locate NJ 9842 on a detailed physical map of northern J&K and draw a line “thence North” and much of Siachen will be found to lie on the Indian side of the CFL. Pakistani military maps (ref. Musharraf’s Memoir, “In the Line of Fire”. Free Press, London. 2006), depicting Pakistan’s military positions during the Kargil operations, situate the entire Siachen glacier on the Indian side of the delineated line, NJ 9842, “thence north to the glaciers”.

All Pakistan, UN and global atlases depicted the CFL correctly till around 1967-72. By then Beijing had commenced its creeping cartographic aggression in Aksai Chin and in 1963 signed a boundary agreement with Pakistan which unilaterally ceded the 5000 sq km Shaksgam Valley to China. Thereafter, Pakistan started extending its lines of communication eastwards and began licensing western mountaineering expeditions to venture east of K2. It was emboldened to extend this “eastward creep” when, between 1967 and 1972, the US Defence Mapping Agency, an international reference point for cartography, began extending the CFL from NJ 9842 to a point just west of the Karakoram Pass, unilaterally hardening what was possibly no more than an extant World War II air defence information zone (ADIZ) line into a politico-military divide. World atlases followed suit. So did Pakistan, which followed cartographic aggression with moves to occupy Siachen. Getting wind of this stratagem, India, pre-emptively occupied the glacier in March 1984.

In a US Institute for Peace conference on J&K in Washington in 1991, delegates were delivered a map at their hotel without the mandatory credit line regarding its origins. It was headed “The Kashmir Region: Depicting the CFL/LoC, Siachen and Shaksgam”. This showed a hatched triangle NJ 9842-Karakoram Pass-K2, and Shaksgam in the north, with a legend reading, “Indian occupied since 1983”. The conference organisers disowned what it surmised was “possibly” a CIA map that might be treated as “withdrawn”! The map not only confirmed Pakistan’s claims but labelled India an aggressor.

As on present, I “protested” to friends in the US State Department and informed the Indian Embassy and the MEA at home to no avail. Years later, US Ambassador David Blackwill said the US Defence Mapping Agency had got its lines wrong and that the impugned maps would be amended. Nothing ensued.

Any unqualified redeployment from the Siachen glacier without asserting the correct delineation of the CFL/LoC from NJ 9842 “thence north to the glaciers”, will mean accepting the Pakistan claim and throwing the August 1948 UN Resolution and derivative 1949 Karachi Agreement into the dustbin. Dr Manmohan Singh’s 2005 peace formula would sanctify the LoCas an evolving international boundary, rendered porous as “mere lines on a map” across which movement and commerce increasingly flowed to bind the peoples of J&K and India and Pakistan together in friendship and cooperation. This is the only viable win-win solution for all in and over J&K. But unless the LoC is firmly anchored to a northern terminus, it will dangle loose and surely unravel, leaving everything for grabs.

Siachen has no intrinsic strategic value. Both sides should withdraw or redeploy from there once there is clear acceptance of the 1949 CFL-cum-LoC. Thereafter the triangle NJ 9842, K2 and the Karakoram Pass can be designated an International Glacier and World Weather Park, hopefully with Shaksgam as a partner, to study and measure climate change. India should, therefore, welcome General Kayani’s second thoughts and pursue it without getting snow-blinded regarding the facts, larger perspectives and the national interest.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/China/India-s-missile-programme-dependent-on-foreign-technology/Article1-843480.aspx
'India's missile programme dependent on foreign technology'
A day after the launch of the Agni V missile, the government-controlled Chinese media continued to question the state of preparedness of India's armed forces and the many problems plaguing them. Questions were raised about the India's ballistic missile programme and
missiles actually were. While acknowledging the successful launch, the official television channel, CCTV, said India's missile programme was riddled with problems.

India, it was pointed out, doesn't possess a homemade high-precision guidance system for long range missiles to hit targets more than 5000 km away. New Delhi is dependent on foreign technology.

Further, at 50 tonnes, the weight of Agni V could pose a problem in transporting. An unnamed expert claimed that India does not possess the infrastructure, like roads, to quickly transport missiles.

And any way, it would take a long time, maybe several years for India to operationalise the missiles and induct them into the armed forces, it was said.

On Friday, CCTV news programme from Washington, titled "missile launch causing stir around the world" said major Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai could be targeted by the Indian missile.

It raised a question whether New Delhi's acquiring a nuclear-capable missile takes it any close to a seat the UN Security Council? The programme was quick to point out that that India has become the largest importer of arms and its expenditure would touch the 50 billion USD in a few years, (China's defence budget crossed the 100 billion USD mark for the first time this year.)

Several controversies to hit the Indian armed forces were pointed out this year including the recent letter that army chief VK Singh wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Malik’s assertions that the armed forces were low on ammunition, the air force didn’t have enough fighter jets or training aircraft and equipment were dated. 

The state-run China Daily, the most circulated English newspaper, splashed a photograph of the launch on page 1.

On Thursday, the Global Times newspaper published an editorial warning India not to be too adventurous.

The main mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, the People’s Daily, was yet to react to the launch.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/China/Chinese-media-pick-chinks-in-India-s-missile-armour/Article1-843480.aspx
It will take yrs for India to operationalise Agni-V: Chinese media
A day after the launch of the Agni V missile, the government-controlled Chinese media continued to question the state of preparedness of India's armed forces and the many problems plaguing them. Questions were raised about the India's ballistic missile programme and how effective Indian missiles actually were. While acknowledging the successful launch, the official television channel, CCTV, said India's missile programme was riddled with problems.

India, it was pointed out, doesn't possess a homemade high-precision guidance system for long range missiles to hit targets more than 5000 km away. New Delhi is dependent on foreign technology.

Further, at 50 tonnes, the weight of Agni V could pose a problem in transporting. An unnamed expert claimed that India does not possess the infrastructure, like roads, to quickly transport missiles.

And any way, it would take a long time, maybe several years for India to operationalise the missiles and induct them into the armed forces, it was said.

On Friday, CCTV news programme from Washington, titled "missile launch causing stir around the world" said major Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai could be targeted by the Indian missile.

It raised a question whether New Delhi's acquiring a nuclear-capable missile takes it any close to a seat the UN Security Council? The programme was quick to point out that that India has become the largest importer of arms and its expenditure would touch the 50 billion USD in a few years, (China's defence budget crossed the 100 billion USD mark for the first time this year.)

Several controversies to hit the Indian armed forces were pointed out this year including the recent letter that army chief VK Singh wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Malik’s assertions that the armed forces were low on ammunition, the air force didn’t have enough fighter jets or training aircraft and equipment were dated. 

The state-run China Daily, the most circulated English newspaper, splashed a photograph of the launch on page 1.

On Thursday, the Global Times newspaper published an editorial warning India not to be too adventurous.

The main mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, the People’s Daily, was yet to react to the launch.
A lot needed on defence front


Read more at:
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/india-needs-do-a-lot-on-defence-front-defence-ministry/1/185227.html
The recent brouhaha over defence issues has brought welcome attention to the state of our armed services. Just a couple of years ago, in 2010, India's National Security Annual Review unnecessarily averred that India was now the world's fifth most powerful country, outranking traditional powers such as the UK, France and Germany.

Citing the country's population, military capabilities and economic growth, the Review, issued by the MEA, placed India behind only the U. S., China, Japan and Russia in a ranking of global power. For a country still excessively focused on problems in its own neighbourhood, distracted (if not obsessed) with Pakistan and kept off balance by China, this had even then seemed a somewhat farfetched claim. In the wake of the Army Chief's letter to the PM on defence preparedness, it bears re-examination.

Threats

India's military capabilities are real and their quality has been demonstrated time and again both on the battlefield and in a large number of challenging United Nations peace-keeping operations. But whether in terms of structure, equipment and training the Indian military establishment could yet measure up to the European powers the Review said it had supplanted, remains to be proven.

Security in the most fundamental sense is one area where our military cannot be faulted: they have done all that we have asked of them to keep our nation safe. But the Ministry of Defence also needs to be able to engage other countries on international security issues. As the Indian-American scholar Ashley Tellis has pointed out, 90 per cent of the MoD's personnel is focused on acquisition and there is only one Joint Secretary entrusted with the task of handling global security cooperation. The resultant lack of capacity has been embarrassing: as Tellis tells it, a number of training exercises scheduled in recent years between the Indian and foreign militaries have had to be called off at the last moment since India simply could not get its act together. This has, inevitably, led to a serious loss of credibility for the country.

Few countries face quite the range and variety of security threats that India does - from the ever-present risk, however farfetched, of nuclear war with Pakistan or China, with both of whom we have unresolved territorial disputes, to Maoist movements in 165 of our 602 districts, secessionist insurgency in the north-east, and terrorist bombs set off by Islamist militants in metropolitan markets. And yet we have not yet evolved a comprehensive national security strategy to cover this entire spectrum of threats. As a democracy, India needs to undertake a strategic defence review that brings in all elements of the security services, the public at large and elected representatives in parliament, to produce a national security strategy. But such an exercise has not even been attempted.

Capacity

With the government not yet having formally approved the long- term integrated perspective plan (LTIPP 2007-22) formulated by the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff, there is little systematic effort to align India's defence expenditure and purchases with any systematic strategy to modernise and enhance India's combat capacity. Instead, defence procurement - when it is not delayed by a political reluctance to make potentially controversial decisions involving large sums of money - is being undertaken through ad hoc annual procurement plans, in the absence of long-term policy.

Whereas China spends 3.5 per cent of its GDP on defence and Pakistan officially spends 4.5 per cent (not counting US military aid and vast sums allotted to intelligence and counter-terrorism operations, which would take the figure well above 6 per cent of GDP), India's defence budget clocks in at the very modest level of less than two per cent of GDP. At these levels, any meaningful modernisation that will substantially enhance India's combat capabilities remains a chimera, and the money at the disposal of the military remains inadequate even to replace the ageing and obsolete weapons systems with which the Indian defence services, armed police and para- military forces are replete.

As the eminent strategist K. Subrahmanyam observed, "India has lacked an ability to formulate future- oriented defence policies, managing only because of short-term measures, blunders by its adversaries, and force superiority in its favour." The structure of the armed forces and the nature of defence policy-making, planning and training leave much to be desired; there is little co-ordination amongst the three services, and proposals to create either a Chief of Defence Staff or a US-style position of Chairman of a Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee have never been implemented. There are both a National Security Council and National Security Advisory Board, but neither can point to a stellar record in promoting policy coherence and strengthening strategic planning. The services lack serious intelligence capacity and world-class area studies expertise; even issues of nuclear policy and strategy do not bear a significant military stamp, partly a reflection of the strong civilian desire to keep the armed forces out of the nuclear area.

Role

The absence of a Chief of Defence Staff or a permanent Chairman of the Joint Chiefs - which means there is no single point of military advice to the government on defence strategy - is compounded by the lack of any tri- service integrated theatre commands in such vital areas as the management of air space and cyber-warfare. Serious morale issues have also arisen over such issues as the welfare of ex-servicemen, whose campaign for "one rank- one pension" has not met with a satisfactory response, the embarrassing absence of a National War Memorial to honour the sacrifices of India's military men and women, and the needless controversy over the date of birth of the Army Chief.

The role of the Indian armed forces is principally to constitute a credible deterrent in itself; in Subrahmanyam's words, "preventing wars from breaking out through appropriate weapons acquisitions, force deployment patterns, the development of infrastructure, military exercises, and defence diplomacy". This is a far more demanding task than conducting routine peacetime operations would normally have been, because with unsettled borders on two sides, the security of the country lies in a credible conventional military capacity that can serve as a deterrent against any adventurism from a possible adversary across the borders. We can be proud of our armed forces, which have distinguished themselves in a number of conflict situations, but we still have a long way to go before we can boast of the kind of integrated and well-resourced defence structure that warrants any claim of a higher standing in the ranks of global powers.


Read more at:
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/india-needs-do-a-lot-on-defence-front-defence-ministry/1/185227.html
For the army, the system needs to be de- bureaucratised
There is a lot of corruption in military acquisitions -- because the volume of money is so high. If, you look at the Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft deal, it is worth about $16 billion to $17 billion. That is a huge amount of money. Even if somebody has paid off 1 percent, it's an enormous amount of money.

By 2022, which is the end of the 13th five-year finance plan, India has allocated $100 billion for arms acquisitions. So there is a lot of scope for corruption. The Bofors episode is used, after 25 years, as an excuse to not do anything.

People take shelter behind Bofors. I really have no answer to the question as to why the political class is so inept and incapable of taking decisions. But, a lot of it stems from ignorance, a lot of it stems from complacency and a lot of it also stems from the fact that there are no votes to get if you buy the right kind of equipment.

In India, normally, a lot of deals are signed close to elections. Ahead of the 2004 elections, big-ticket items were signed by the National Democratic Alliance government. It is anticipated that some big-ticket items are likely to be signed before the 2014 elections. But buying pieces of equipment doesn't equal modernisation. Modernisation is an ongoing, unending process.
Our system is so slow that since 2005, the defense ministry has returned Rs 220 billion ($4.4 billion) unspent to the federal exchequer as it was unable to decide on equipment. This year alone, they have returned Rs 30 billion ($600 million) because no decisions could be taken.

Equipment planning is not something that is done in a day. It is not like going out, buying a car, bringing it home and driving it. A new piece of defense equipment, even a basic truck, takes up to two years to induct. Because you have to get your systems, spares and entire equipment profile working efficiently.

So even inducting a Tatra truck, which is under question (General Singh said he was offered a bribe to okay the acquisition of 788 units), takes a minimum of two years. Inducting an aircraft or inducting a tank system or an artillery gun takes even longer because it has to function along with the rest as a team.

The Indian army wants to buy too many things but in the process ends up stove-piping its purchases and ends up creating these little islands which do not function collectively. The military has to function as a team and cannot operate individually.

Interlinking is one of the problems. And because there is this problem between the army, navy and air force, the defense ministry, or somebody like the prime minister must take charge and make them work collectively.

There was a proposal after the Kargil review committee for a Chief of Defense Staff who would be the one-point control between the political establishment and the military establishment, but that has still not come about.

It is a workable solution, but the political establishment is scared that the CDS will become so powerful that he will threaten the government. The fear is so much that no government is willing to take that risk.

There is also a problem within the services. The navy and the air force don't want to work under the army. They think the army being the largest force will probably dominate, and the air force has expressed its reservations over many years. They have said they don't want a CDS. Because once you move into a CDS kind of a situation, you will also move into theatre commands.

The only one joint command we have is in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands but that's dominated by the navy. And it's a very small command.
When General V K Singh came in as army chief, he had an agenda to clean up the army. There was a lot of corruption and he wanted to clean it up and found that there were a lot of vested interests in the army.

As far as this age controversy is concerned, I think it was a personal issue and because he had got his promotions to major general to lieutenant-general and then subsequently to army chief on the basis of his earlier date of birth, he was not justified to bring up this issue. The Supreme Court too said as much.

It is, however, debatable that had General Singh prevailed in the age row, maybe all this would have not come out, maybe he would have just retired quietly in March next year.

By raising these questions, by bringing the weaknesses of the army out in the last three, four weeks into the public domain, I think he has raised the level of debate on the functioning of defense ministry and the way it treats the military.

In the process, the military's faults have also emerged. It is not as if the military is completely blameless, but he has raised the level of the debate and I think that is a good thing. The leakage of the letter is an administrative matter and it should be investigated, but frankly the contents of the letter are much more important than the leakage.

General Singh has, ironically, not painted an accurate picture. The picture on the ground --- if you go out to the units to the front and if you talk to soldiers serving in the front -- the situation is a lot, lot worse.
I think this standoff between the government and the army will abate over the next few weeks. The article in The Indian Express (please see the article headlined Game of Shadows) is likely to excite things a little more but that too will die down. I think the new chief has a tough task ahead because he has to mend relations with the ministry, improve the equipment profile and, above all, the vitiated atmosphere.

I fear not much will come out of the Central Bureau of Investigation enquiry into the Tatra truck deal. I think the Tatra trucks are very efficient and if you ask most people who have utilised them, they claim they have performed well.

But General V K Singh is calling them substandard and his principal criticism is about their price. The price of each truck is about Rs 4 million ($80,000) in the European market while the Indian Army buys them for about Rs 11 million ($220,000).

The best step forward for the Indian armed forces would be to de-bureaucratise the system. Because one of the serious problems -- that also accounts for General V K Singh's standoff with the ministry -- is that for the last 30, 40 years, the bureaucrats have ruled over the uniforms. And in many instances they tend to misuse it, to humiliate the military.

If a service chief has to go abroad on a tour, it is the deputy secretary in the defense ministry who decides when he goes and invariably the permission is given just a few hours before his flight.

These are small things, but over the years this resentment has grown against the bureaucrats not so much the politician because he comes and goes.

So, the system has to be de-bureaucratised. Not only in the day-to-day workings of the ministry but by integrating the ministry and the armed services.

In all other militaries around the world, whether it is the United Kingdom, the United States or France, the military is a part of government. In our case, the military is not a part of the government.

It is the integrated headquarters of the army, navy and air force. There is no uniformed officer who is posted in the defense ministry; the result is that there is no professional advice that the ministry has on tap, no niche knowledge.

Over the past 20, 30 years, experts have advised successive governments to induct uniformed men in the defense ministry as it's frightening to see the delays in decision-making. This situation can escalate to frightening levels.

I am not saying that there is going to be a military takeover, but the morale of the soldiers is likely to be adversely affected. As it is the Indian soldier looks upon the babu and the politician negatively and this is not going to change unless strong and swift measures are undertaken.

If the defense services are integrated with the ministry, a certain amount of responsibility and accountability will be upon this newly formed establishment to make the changes. Let us not forget that in all societies military establishments are the most impervious to change, forever bound by rules. I think it's about time we overcame our allergy for the armed forces.

Every few years there are pay commissions that are set up. There is representation of all on the panel, but there is no one from the defense services. It is the civilian that decides the armed forces' pay structure. It has been proven elsewhere that a uniform in the system is not a negative thing.

Let us try and make that change.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Tatra-truck-deal-BEMLs-contract-with-Tatra-Sipox-violated-defence-procurement-stipulation/articleshow/12772031.cms
Tatra truck deal: BEML's contract with Tatra Sipox violated defence procurement stipulation
NEW DELHI: Tatra Sipox (UK) Limited, supplier of Tatra trucks to the public sector BEML, is an agent of the manufacturer. This was admitted by Tatra Sipox on June 23, 1995, to the UK authorities to which it described its main activity as being the "manufacturers' agents".

The fresh evidence would indicate that the contract between BEML and Tatra Sipox was in clear violation of defence rules which ban dealing with agents or middlemen.

TOI has secured a copy of Tatra Sipox's returns filed before the UK authorities where the company, responding to the query, "give a brief description of principal activity", stated, "manufacturers' agents". This document is among many accessed by this newspaper which show that BEML violated the defence procurement stipulation that allows purchase contracts only with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Documents accessed from European authorities show that the company Tatra Sipox is fully owned by an investment firm that is controlled by a trust based in the European tax haven of Lichtenstein. Ravi Rishi, the NRI businessman who runs Tatra Sipox and a clutch of other companies in UK, Hong Kong, India and elsewhere, had been operating at least one more establishment in Liechtenstein since 1986. Coincidentally, the first contract for supply of Tatra trucks was signed by BEML in 1986.

These findings raise questions about BEML's deal with Tatra Sipox UK since 1997, prior to which BEML's contract was with Czech company Omni Pol for 11 years. Although it's widely known that agents and middlemen are banned in defence deals, the arrangement with Tatra Sipox passed muster with not just BEML, but also the defence ministry and the Army brass for several years before the current Army chief V K Singh blew the whistle.

TOI sent a detailed questionnaire to Ravi Rishi's PR agency in Delhi but no response was forthcoming. On Friday, the agency got back to say there would be no formal response to the questions.

According to Tatra Sipox's filings on January 20, 2012 before the British authorities, it has issued a total of 15,000 ordinary shares. The entire lot was held by Vectra Ltd, another company of Rishi's controlled by a trust in Lichtenstein.

According to documents of Vectra filed with the British authorities, it has issued a total of 1,00,000 ordinary shares. As on September 2, 2011, the last date of official filings from Vectra Ltd, the 1,00,000 ordinary shares of Vectra Ltd was held by Hemang Foundation, the address for which is not given in the communication. However, some old filings of Vectra Ltd show Hemang Foundation's address as Land- strasse 25 PostFach 439, FL 9490 Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

Apart from Hemang Foundation, there is at least one more entity holding stake in companies controlled by Rishi in UK, Hong Kong and India.

In 1986, the Ravi Rishi group opened Deswa Holding Establishment in Liechtenstein. In2010 and 2011, the entire shares of Venus Projects Limited, a company owned by Rishi in Hong Kong, were held by Deswa Holding Establishment.

The Hong Kong-based Venus Projects Limited controlled 50% of Tatra Sipox UK, until January 20, 2009. According to details filed on January 20, 2011, Venus Projects had transferred all its shares in Tatra Sipox UK to Vectra Limited, which now fully controls the company.

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