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Monday, 23 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 23 Apr 2012






http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120423/nation.htm#3
Agni V: Big one for Antony
Anita Katyal

AK Antony
AK Antony

After being in the news for all the wrong reasons, Defence Minister AK Antony had something to smile about last week. The minister was thrilled when he got the news about the successful launch of Agni V from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast. He called up his officers immediately and asked them to issue a statement on his behalf lauding the team of DRDO scientists on their achievement.

Simultaneously, he called up DRDO chief VK Saraswat to congratulate him. That's when Antony made his now-famous comment, "The nation stands tall today," which was also picked up by the international media. Antony then rushed to his South Block Office, reaching there well before his officers got in. He told them that he wished to issue a detailed statement which would reflect the magnitude of the achievement and also take into account the work done by previous scientists as this successful mission would not have been possible without their contribution. "You must remember, this is a big one," he remarked repeatedly.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120423/nation.htm#5
DRDO’s next: Reusable rockets
Will combine technologies of both ballistic & cruise missiles

New Delhi, April 22
After the successful launch of the Agni V Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), India is all set to develop reusable rockets that will combine the technologies of both ballistic and cruise missiles.

As part of plans to develop reusable ballistic missiles, Defence Research and Development Organisation will test the indigenously developed scram jet engine next year, DRDO Chief VK Saraswat said today.

"We have propulsion technology, we have re-entry technologies, we have the technology which can take a re-entry system which will deliver a payload and have yet another re-entry system which will bring the missile back when it re-enters the atmosphere on its return journey," he said.

"We have demonstrated the performance of a scram jet engine operating at Mach six speed (six times the speed of sound)," he said.

On the range of the Agni V, the DRDO chief said with moderate modifications "it can be extended to any range which is of our interest."

On technological capability available with the agency, he said, "The DRDO has built the necessary technologies, production infrastructure and design capability for developing a booster or a sustainer... We have the capability to develop a re-entry nose cone which can withstand higher temperature and velocity."

Reacting to reports that India does not possess sufficient indigenous technology for missile guidance systems, Saraswat said Agni V used a completely indigenous and high precision missile guidance system with "0.001 degrees of per hour accuracy." On criticism that DRDO sometimes does not live up to expectations, he said the agency was as good as its counterparts in advanced countries. Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), F-18 and Eurofighter took similar number of years and cost wise they were three times more than what we have put in our LCA," he said.

On development of Kaveri engine, Saraswat said it too has performed well and was, "flown an IL-76 aircraft in Russia, 55 hours of successful flight... We are going to upgrade it so that it can be used in India's LCA Mark-II and future systems." — PTI

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120423/nation.htm#6
Babus who helped Vectra boss under CBI scanner

New Delhi, April 22
The CBI is investigating the alleged association of Vectra chairman Ravinder Rishi with some bureaucrats and has approached the Income Tax Department seeking details of its probe against a tainted IAS couple, suspected to be beneficiaries of his largesse.

The CBI is suspecting that the suspended couple of Madhya Pradesh, under the I-T department's probe for amassing illicit wealth, are among many officers who have allegedly facilitated Rishi's dealings in the defence sector, agency sources said.

The couple's proximity to Rishi is said to have developed while one of them was posted as the Joint Secretary at the Defence Ministry during 1999-2004, when Vectra group signed defence deals related to supply of light helicopters, they said.

The agency has found that the couple still has close connections with Rishi and some of their funds are parked with him, they said.

The I-T Department had conducted searches in Bhopal and other premises of the couple during the financial year 2009-10 and after scrutiny of their financial holdings and assets, a tax demand notice of Rs 135 crore had been issued against them. — PTI

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120423/edit.htm#6
TRUCK WITH CONTROVERSY
Maj Gen Raj Mehta (Retd)
With Parliament in session and a truculent opposition looking to embarrass the ruling coalition, the explosive interview by Army Chief Gen VK Singh to The Hindu datelined March 26, 2012 provided them with just that opportunity. Alleging that he had been offered a bribe of Rs 14 crores ($2.73 million) by an ex-Army officer lobbyist to clear purchase of 600 sub-standard Tatra vehicles, the General claimed that the 7,000 Tatra vehicles already in Army service "had been sold over the years at exorbitant prices with no questions asked." He added that he had informed the Defence Minister about the incident. By late afternoon, Mr Antony had ordered a CBI probe into the bribing allegation. Contradicting the Army Chief a few days later, the DRDO chief and scientific adviser to Raksha Mantri, Dr VK Saraswat said that the BEML-Tatra trucks were outstanding, adding that the Prithvi and Agni missile launchers were Tatra based and functioning optimally. BEML Chairman VRS Natarajan has said that and there is no issue with either serviceability or availability of spares of Tatra trucks. With the BEML-Tatra vehicle being awarded such extreme grades by top hierarchy, the lay reader needs to understand where the truth lies.

The All Terrain Tatra Military Vehicle

Tatra a.s. (named after the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia) is a reputed truck manufacturer based in Koprivnice, Czech Republic. It is the world's third oldest car maker after Daimler and Peugeot. The company produces a range of all-wheel-drive trucks from 4×4 to 12×12. In 1967, Tatra brought out the Kolos (Colossus) Tatra-813 model. This vehicle incorporated innovative design features like wide tyres, modular engine, central tyre inflation/deflation system, stunning towing capability and multi-fuel adaptability. Tatra-815, its successor has repeatedly won international off-road rallies. Some current models are tailor-made for the desert (Tatra-815-6) and C-130 Hercules air transportability (Tatra-815-7). Tatra-815/variants are exported to USA, Brazil, Australia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, Israel and India.

The BEML-Tatra Connection

Tatra a.s. entered Indian Army service in 1986 through a contract signed with Defence PSU, Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) using completely-knocked-down (CKD) truck kits. BEML has business divisions in mining, construction, defence, aerospace and rail/metro coaches. In 1997, the contract for supply was reportedly signed with an intermediary and not with Tatra a.s., the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). This issue and its connected threads of the alleged bribe offer and connivance of other players is under CBI investigation and is outside the pale of this article. What is germane here is that BEML currently assembles nine variants of the Tatra-813 and Tatra-815 ranging from 6x6 to 12x12 vehicles for the Army. These have all-wheel-drive and very impressive cross-country capability. The ruggedised-for-Indian-conditions vehicle is 29 feet long, 8 feet wide and 9 feet high, weighs 16,000 kg and has a maximum speed of 80kmph.

The Tatra vehicle has, since induction been the Army's workhorse. Besides ferrying mechanised vehicles, it carries assault bridges and operational loads, following tanks with ease cross-country. Tatra variants are used as command posts, communication links, for recovery, as weapon platforms for multi-barrel-rocket-systems such as Pinaka, for the Prithvi/Agni missile systems and for the state-of-the-art Indo-Russian collaboration BrahMos missile system whose land version is carried on the 12x12 Tatra-815.

A Reality Check: Tatra is both Outstanding and Substandard

Exercise Brass Tacks was the first major exploitation of the Tatra vehicle, passing its rigorous desert induction with flying colours. The author had occasion to personally drive the vehicle both on and off-road when the vehicle was employed in the "follow-the-tanks-logistics-support" mode in both day and night conditions. The vehicle was quite simply outstanding. Years later, the author saw its utilization as missile-cum-communication-and-logistics carrier and found its performance high grade. If the left hand drive was a start-up problem, Army drivers quickly overcame it, driving the Tatra loaded with 50-tonne tanks on highways or off-road with logistics/containerised loads with ease, without any noticeable enhancement in accident rates.

Once past their prime, however, the Tatra-813/815 has started having problems of spares, maintenance and repairs because of grossly inadequate logistics support. These problems demand substantial attention from the field Army as tyres, batteries; critical engine spares are not only inadequately stocked but have also not been indigenously produced to the original, exacting standards of the OEM. The indigenisation figures being touted make for hair-raising reading. The Army Chief claims that 70 percent of the Tatra is imported. Rashmi Verma, MoD Joint Secretary (Land Systems) puts the figure at 45 percent and Chairman BEML at 40 percent -- figures that speak for the sordid, ham-handed way in which we look at defence procurement and indigenisation.

We must bluntly accept that a Tatra-815 without batteries, tyres or fitted with expensive though inefficient commercial-off-the-shelf substitutes, a vehicle reportedly with its nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) filters stripped, is operationally unserviceable. The blatant violation of the Governments Defence Procurement Procedure which prohibits intermediaries between user and OEM adds to the irony that an outstanding vehicle has been rendered hors de combat by bureaucratic obfuscation, inadequate political oversight, blighted indigenisation, and possibly, lack of financial probity. The military's sluggishness in following up on its whistle blowing is equally distressing.

The Indigenisation Conundrum

MoD in 2011, belatedly ordered trials for a 'Made-in-India' all-terrain vehicle, with Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Ural (India) Ltd and BEML participating. Though a significant development, we must accept that our indigenisation work ethic is poor. India has 39 ordnance factories, 51 defence laboratories and eight Defence PSUs under the MoD, with many performing sub-optimally, notwithstanding occasional successes like the BrahMos, Prithvi/Agni and radar projects. Defence self-reliance is urgently needed as profit driven foreign vendors will always let you down when the chips are down. Some analysts have suggested that the conundrum can be solved by allowing defence foreign players bulk entry, hoping that they will replicate the effect foreign players had on indigenising India's automotive industry. Such analysis is a chimera as it misses the point that the defence sector worldwide is government and diplomacy controlled, and has deep ramifications far beyond just profit.

What we do need to do is to tackle two broad issues. Firstly, the need to reform the Defence Ministry per se through a constitutionally appointed National Defence Commission. The other is to pragmatically promote defence self-sufficiency through foreign collaboration using the BrahMos model and by harnessing the military-industry interface, using Government subsidy-cum-support. An example from Israeli civil industry-R&D support scheme shows that it raised Israeli exports from $422 million when the program started in 1969 to $3316 million in 1987. Funding for firms meeting the subsidy criteria ranged from 50 - 66 percent of their R&D budget. In 1993, Israel started a "Magnet" research scheme for consortia in which innovative people, firms and academia received huge R&D budgetary support and 18 consortia are currently working on projects such as digital wireless communications and multimedia-on-line-services. In all, Israel is funding over 800 firms engaged in involving 1162 R&D projects.

Finally, does the BEML-Tatra potpourri have a silver lining currently concealed by the ugliness of the confrontation and exposures thereto? Indeed, there is. The much needed Military Reform Process has finally fallen into place and India may finally come out a winner from this fracas.

The writer has served with the Armoured Corps which uses Tatra variants

The Stake Holders

TATRA

Tatra is a Czech vehicle manufacturer founded in 1850 as Schustala & Company and in 1897 produced the first motor car in central Europe, and one of the first cars in world, the Pr√§sident. In 1919, it started to use the Tatra a.s. badge named after the nearby Tatra mountains in Slovakia. Tatra is the third oldest car maker in the world after Daimler and Peugeot. During World War II Tatra was instrumental in the production of trucks, and tank engines for Germany. Production of passenger cars ceased in 1999 but the company still produces a range of primarily all-wheel-drive 4×4, 6×6, 8×8, 10×10, and 12×12 trucks.

VECTRA

Vectra Group consists of diverse companies operating in various business domains across the world. The core businesses of the Vectra Group, according to its website, are aviation, engineering, material handling and construction equipment, automotive, real estate, information technology, and the services sector. Its operations are primarily in India and Eastern Europe, spanning more than 18 companies, with eight manufacturing facilities in four countries (India, the UK, Czech Republic, and Slovakia). In addition, Vectra Group has offices or investments in France, Russia, Singapore and Sri-Lanka. Vectra is the largest shareholder of the consortium Tatra Holding s.r.o. that owns Tatra a.s. Formerly known as Tatra Trucks India Limited, Tatra Vectra Motors Limited was the Vectra Group's first manufacturing plant in India. It. manufactures Tatra trucks in India and is located in Hosur in Tamil Nadu.

BEML

Bharat Earth Movers Limited is a public sector undertaking that manufactures a variety of heavy equipment for earth moving, transport and mining. BEML commenced operations in January 1965 and was wholly owned and operated by the Ministry of Defence until 1992, when the government divested 25% of its holdings in the company. BEML is Asia's second-largest manufacturer of earth moving equipment, and it controls 70% of India's market in that sector.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Ravi-Rishi-owns-trust-that-runs-Tatra-co/articleshow/12830168.cms
Ravi Rishi owns trust that runs Tatra co
NEW DELHI: Ravinder Kumar Rishi and his family members are the beneficiaries of Hemang Foundation, a trust based in the European tax haven of Liechtenstein which fully controls Tatra Sipox (UK) that supplies Tatra trucks to India.

Public relations executives representing Rishi, who is now under CBI investigation in the Tatra scandal, refused to respond to questions from TOI regarding his links to trusts based in the secretive tax haven.

The contract for supply of Tatra trucks is under CBI investigation, after Army chief General V K Singh claimed that he was offered Rs 14 crore to clear the purchase of 600 trucks. The CBI has already questioned Rishi, BEML (the public sector unit which supplies Tatra trucks procured via a contract with Tatra Sipox) top brass including its CMD V R S Natarajan, and some retired Army officers.

Fresh details coming out put the onus on Rishi to disclose activities of Hemang Foundation and its dealings over the years. Documents also show the existence of another trust of Rishi in Liechtenstein. The second trust, Deswa Holding Establishment, was coincidentally started in 1986, when the first contract for Tatra trucks was signed by BEML.

TOI on Saturday had reported that Hemang Foundation fully controls Tatra Sipox (UK), which after declaring itself as "manufacturers' agent" entered into an agreement with BEML for supplying Tatra trucks for the Army. Indian defence procurement prohibits dealings with agents and BEML should have signed the contract only with an Original Equipment Manufacturer.

Global Vectra Helicorp Ltd, one of Rishi's Indian companies, in the run-up to its listing on Indian stock exchanges, submitted to the Securities and Exchange Board of India in 2006, "The relation between the Hemang Foundation and the Rishi family is as follows: Hemang Foundation is a registered trust in which the beneficial owners are the family members of Mr Ravinder Kumar Rishi; i.e Mrs Deepti Rishi, Suruchi Rishi, Swati Rishi, Rati Rishi & Hemang Rishi. The settler of the Hemang Foundation Trust is Mr. Ravinder Kumar Rishi."

The filing said the foundation "in turn is the sole shareholder of Vectra Limited". Vectra Limited fully owns Tatra Sipox (UK).

Tatra Sipox (UK) said on January 20, 2012 that it has issued a total of 15,000 ordinary shares, and all of them are held by Vectra Limited.

According to filings of Vectra Ltd, it has issued a total of 100,000 ordinary shares. As on September 2, 2011, the entire shares of Vectra Limited is held by Hemang Foundation. According to earlier filings of Vectra Limited, Hemang Foundation is registered at FL 9490 Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

Document trails available from UK, Hong Kong and Liechtenstein have also established that in 1986, Rishi opened Deswa Holding Establishment in Liechtenstein. Up until 2010-11, the entire shares of Venus Projects Limited, a company owned by Rishi in Hong Kong, were held by Deswa Holding Establishment.

Venus Projects Limited, in fact, used to control 50% of Tatra Sipox until January 20, 2009. Venus Projects in 2011 transferred all its shares in Tatra Sipox to Vectra Limited, which now fully controls the company.

Tatra Sipox entered into the contract with BEML to supply Tatra trucks to the Indian Army in June 1997, and has over the years supplied a few thousands trucks.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2133603/General-effect-Standing-Committee-defence-admits-shortage-ammo-wants-government-fast-track-procurement.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
General effect: Standing Committee on defence admits shortage of ammo and wants government to fast-track procurement

Read more:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2133603/General-effect-Standing-Committee-defence-admits-shortage-ammo-wants-government-fast-track-procurement.html#ixzz1sowD0TX2

The alarm sounded by army chief General V.K. Singh about the sorry state of India's combat-readiness finds resonance in the recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee on defence.

The House panel has not just admitted to the 'critical' shortage of ammunition, huge gaps in the required and existing force levels as well as tardy procurement process, it has also come up with an innovative response to the service chief 's anxieties over these issues.

While mulling over the demands for grants for defence that are to be discussed by the Rajya Sabha when the budget session of Parliament resumes after the recess this week, the standing committee has taken the government to task for allowing the situation to reach such 'criticality'.

Read more:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2133603/General-effect-Standing-Committee-defence-admits-shortage-ammo-wants-government-fast-track-procurement.html#ixzz1sowFonU5

Significantly, the parliamentary discussions on the budgetary allocations of the defence ministry for 2012-13 will be based on the report of the standing committee.

What is equally important is that the UPA government will be compelled to take the panel's advice seriously, considering that it does not have the numbers to throw its weight around in the Upper House.

The committee has recommended an institutional dialogue and meetings between it members and all the three service chiefs for a comprehensive review of India's defence-preparedness.

This is a vital development because the rules of business state that the service chiefs are answerable only to the government which, in turn, is answerable to Parliament. The defence secretary usually appears before the panel along with vice-chiefs of the three services.

By setting in motion an institutional process of the service chiefs' dialogue with Parliament, the legislature has obviously gone the extra mile to ease the strain in civil-military relations - a step that should have been taken long ago by the executive.

The panel recommended a comprehensive review of the country's battle-preparedness that will take into account the equipment, war reserves, human resource availability and various other issues of geo-strategic importance.
WHAT AILS THE ARMED FORCES

ARMY

Critical shortage of tank ammunition, particularly with those used to destroy tanks.

With the banning of Israeli Military Industries, it has become difficult to
procure supplies in absence of alternative sources.

Shortage of electronic fuses for artillery.

Shortage of guns as no new piece of artillery was bought after the Bofors gun in the 1980s.

AIR FORCE

Vintage fleet of aircraft.

IAF wants a squadron strength of 42 but has only 34 fighter squadrons and the number will come down to 31 before it starts picking up.

Serious maintenance issues

This would involve calling and consulting current as well as retired military officers, strategic experts and people with the domain knowledge of the existing threat perception.

The committee is believed to have felt that this comprehensive review report should be submitted to Parliament during the winter session later in the year. The proposal for the review was mooted by Congress MP Manish Tiwari and Naresh Gujral of the Shiromani Akali Dal. It was supported among others by the BJP's Varun Gandhi. This would be the first ever such effort since the inception of the standing committee. The panel also noted that the ministry of defence (MoD) should consider framing guidelines with regard to the latter's being kept in the loop regarding troop movement towards the National Capital Region and Delhi.

In his letter to PM Manmohan Singh, General Singh had contended that the entire tank fleet was 'devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks'.

He had further observed that the air defence was '97 per cent obsolete' and the infantry was crippled with 'deficiencies of crew served weapon' and lacked night-fighting capabilities.

The letter was leaked and led to a national uproar over the state of the armed forces. Sources revealed that against the backdrop of the stand taken by the army chief, the standing committee went into the MoD's functioning and was rattled by the 'clear' picture.

The panel was enraged over the way the deficiencies were allowed to persist, leading to a severe crunch in the army ammunition. It was also apprised of the falling levels of the air force, including the high rate of air accidents and vintage fleet of aircraft (up to 40 years old).

The committee was appalled to know that in the defence allocation for 2012- 13, only `5,520.82 crore would be available for fresh purchases. The rest of the money - `66,032.24 crore - would be spent on the deals that have already been signed or are awaiting final clearance.

The panel was briefed by defence secretary Shashikant Sharma, army vice-chief Lieutenant General S.K. Singh and other senior officers of the armed forces. The army vicechief disclosed before the panel the 'disturbing' fact of ammunition shortages.

It was highlighted that tank ammunition was facing critical shortages. Furthermore, it was contended that problems were being faced regarding the Fin Stabilised Arm-oured Piercing Discarding Sabot which is used to destroy tanks.

The panel was told that the total armour ammunition was only about 67 per cent of the required stock, while infantry ammunition stood at 70 per cent. Apart from this, the panel noticed that there was a shortage of guns.

Another worrying aspect was that no new piece of artillery had been purchased after the Bofors guns in the 1980s. The panel wants the government to put procurements on the fast track and is of the view that the MoD should be provided complete financial support to improve ammunition stocks.

Read more:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2133603/General-effect-Standing-Committee-defence-admits-shortage-ammo-wants-government-fast-track-procurement.html#ixzz1sowK75BI


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\04\23\story_23-4-2012_pg3_2
VIEW: General Singh: sad endgame or sorry confessional? —A R Siddiqi

No matter how one might try to explain it, it had been an act against all norms of service etiquette and professional camaraderie

What does General VK Singh have to show for his mandatory three year-tenure as the Indian Army chief? He lost two battles in a row, casting an unflattering reflection on his performance as the chief of a million-plus army. His first battle lost concerned his date of birth. He claimed it was a year short of the date given in his service records ever since he joined the army. Having failed to convince the government to extend his tenure by another year based on his revised, self-calculated age, he moved the Supreme Court to draw a blank from there too. He will now retire in May as per the date of birth noted in his service records all the way through. That marked the sad end of an otherwise distinguished service record, to help him work his way to the top, the one fond dream of every career officer, vouchsafed to few.

The second battle lost might have been the sorry confessional of Singh’s dismal failure to note and notify the gaping chinks in the armour of the force under his command for three years. In a top-secret letter addressed to his defence minister, mysteriously leaked, General Singh listed formidable deficiencies in his arsenal, enough to reduce any fighting outfit to a shadow without substance, a mock force good for mock battles. Some of the worryingly missing links and acute shortages of hardware he identified in the leaked letter are as follows: Army tanks do not have critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks. Infantry poorly equipped and lacks night fighting capabilities; ‘large-scale voids’ in critical surveillance. Elite special forces ‘woefully short’ of essential weapons. Air defence ‘97 percent obsolete, undermines confidence to protect ‘from the air.’

Shocking! Is that all an army chief has to show at the end of his three-year army command? Hard to understand, but there is no way of turning a blind eye to the mess. The question is how all these gaping holes escaped Singh’s attention during his stewardship of the army. Would not that be too much to assume that the above might have been only the thin end of the wedge? In addition, there would be much more than the army chief’s sensational disclosure on the eve of his retirement. What is to be said about its negative impact on the morale, normal training and operational readiness of the field formations?

Commenting editorially, The Statesman, New Delhi, dated March 31, noted, “The army chief cannot escape the suspicion that his ‘much delayed revelations have followed his losing out on the date of his birth controversy.” Imagine a 60-plus, full general, first pressing the government to accept his self-chosen date of birth and then moving the Supreme Court to change his date of birth as given in his annual confidential reports and all other relevant documents, including his passports. This is a strange case of an army chief, in command of the world’s second or third largest army after the US and Russia.

The ‘topsec’ letter of March 12/12 addressed to defence minister A K Antony was first published by a relatively little known Mumbai daily. The minister sat tight over the missive until a provincial daily spilt the beans about the working relationship between the army chief and his civilian bosses, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reported to be ‘tense’. Whatever that might mean.

Yet another circumstance to embarrass the Indian army chief on the eve of his retirement happened to be his own disclosure of a case involving some 140 million rupees worth of kickbacks offered to him for recommending the purchase of some substandard military trucks.

He named retired Lieutenant General Tejinder Singh, who offered the army chief the aforementioned bribe for the purchase of second-rate trucks. While the army chief firmly rejected the lucrative offer, he stayed quiet about it for almost two years before reporting it to the higher authority, the defence minister in his case. The chief’s firm (and final) ‘no’ to the dirty lucre, notwithstanding his inaction for practically more than half of his three-year tenure, did lend a strong shade of some sort of a personal interest in the dirty business.

General V K Singh is yet to file a complaint about the alleged bribe offer, but the CBI may call Defence Minister A K Antony as a witness to confirm that the army chief had told him about it. The minister’s statement may be recorded after a preliminary inquiry into the case. The army chief has claimed that he has ‘hard evidence’ to back his claim. Lt. Gen Tejinder Singh reportedly, has taken the army chief to court for ‘libel’ along with the vice chief of the army, the chief of military intelligence and others, involving top brass at the army headquarters.

Ashok Mehta, a retired major general, describes this as a bizarre situation in which the image of the army office of the COAS and national security has been “directly imperiled.” Mehta would have the prime minister immediately to ‘rein in’ General Singh. He would recommend the constitution of a ‘ministerial task force’ to examine why and how army’s ‘operational preparedness’ dipped so low and how civil military relations reached ‘a nadir’.

Yet another act, unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman, least of all a four-star army chief, happened to be Singh’s failed bid to incriminate a serving officer Lieutenant-General Dalbir Suhag. He named Dalbir for corruption in the ‘purchase’ for some substandard materials during his tenure as the Inspector General Training and Evaluation. General Suhag had been placed at number two for the appointment of the new army chief after Lieutenant General Bikram Singh.

Rightly or wrongly, Singh’s bid to compromise his prospective successor without sufficient evidence would be yet another act beneath the dignity of the outgoing chief. CBI to probably shame General Singh cleared Suhag.

No matter how one might try to explain it, it had been an act against all norms of service etiquette and professional camaraderie. As for Singh’s gross negligence of the serious shortfalls in his combat equipment, it would be now between him, his own conscience and his civilian masters to figure out who is responsible.

Summing up General Singh’s critical lack of oversight vis-√†-vis the gaping holes in his war-fighting systems and material, The Statesman dated March 31 commented editorially as follows: “.... As Gen.Singh’s career winds down, he has taken down with him just about all that he earned... the army’s trust and the faith of the Indian people.” What a sad end of a man who many believed was ideally equipped to restore glory by uniforms.

Goodbye General Singh.

The writer is a retired brigadier and can be reached at brigsiddiqi@yahoo.co.uk

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