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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

From Today's Papers - 29 May 2012
No sanction needed to remove corrupt babus: High court
Saurabh Malik/TNS

Chandigarh, May 28
In a first, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has reinterpreted provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act to hold that public servants, who can be removed by the subordinate authorities other than the government, are not entitled to protection of sanction.

It means that they can be proceeded against even without the grant of sanction for their prosecution. The significant judgment, expected to affect nothing less than 90 per cent of the corruption cases against the lower-level staff, came on a petition filed by a patwari in Punjab. He was facing criminal proceedings after being allegedly caught red handed while accepting Rs 2,000 as illegal gratification for carrying out a mutation.

For reaching the conclusion, Justice Mehinder Singh Sullar referred to Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 that deals with “previous sanction necessary for prosecution”. He held that only those public servants of the Central or state governments are entitled to the umbrella of protection under Article 19 of the Act, who are employed in connection with the affairs of the Union or the State and are removable by the respected governments, and not otherwise.

“Meaning thereby, public servants who are liable to be removed by the lower/subordinate authority other than the government indeed are, and would, not at all be entitled to such protection”.

Examining the section in depth, Justice Sullar added: “Section 19 (1) (a) of the Act regulates public servants, who are removable by the Central Government; and clause (b) deals with public servants, who are removable by the state government; whereas clause (c) is only applicable to other persons (public servants) employed with the affairs of variety of other financial institutions, banks, corporations and not public servants of the Centre or state governments.

Justice Sullar added that the intention of the legislature been to extend the protection of sanction under this Section to all categories of public servants, “it ought to have mentioned that all public servants are entitled to protection of sanction and only this one line would have served the purpose".

Referring to the case in hand, Justice Sullar minced no words to say: “Since the petitioner was working as a patwari at the relevant time and place, and was removable by the district collector and not by the state government, no prior sanction was required to prosecute him”.

Prior to the judgment so many accused, who could be removed by subordinate authorities, would claim their case fell under clause (c). They would claim that sanction was necessary for their prosecution as well. But, the latest judgment has paved way for their trial.
Antony for hike in defence quota in educational institutions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
With the number of ex-servicemen and consequently their dependents increasing day by day, Defence Minister AK Antony has sought an increase in the number of seats reserved for wards of serving and the retired defence personnel in educational institutes.

In separate letters written to Minister of Health and Family Welfare Gulam Nabi Azad and Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) Kapil Sibal, copies of which have been circulated to veterans’ associations for reference, Antony has pointed out that the present quota of defence seats is insufficient.

Antony has asked the health minister to consider increasing the existing quota to at least 100 seats in MBBS and 25 seats in BDS courses run in Central government medical colleges. At present, this quota is about 30 seats in MBBS and 2 or 3 seats in BDS courses. Similarly, the defence minister has requested the HRD minister to reserve at least two seats in all educational institutes and universities to effectively address the aspirations of the wards of the armed forces personnel.

Antony has stated that it has been experienced in many places that the provisions of reservation for wards of defence personnel have not been fully implemented, thereby defeating the very purpose of supporting them in their education. Further, the difficult service conditions in which wards of defence personnel grow have a bearing on their education too as they are often deprived of guidance and hence they require the government’s additional support.
Two Akash missiles test-fired in Odisha

Balasore (Odisha), May 28
For the third time in five days, India today test-fired two surface-to-air anti-aircraft 'Akash' missiles from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur near here, achieving success in one, while the data of the second trial was being analysed.

"Two Akash missiles were launched from the ITR. While one test was successful, data for the other is still being analysed," ITR Director MVKV Prasad said.

The double test-fire came after trials of the indigenous missile, with a range of 25 km and capable of carrying a warhead of 60 kg to neutralise aerial targets, on May 24 and 26. "The trials were conducted in quick succession from road mobile launchers at launch pad-3 in the ITR at about 1102 hours," sources said. "Each missile was aimed at intercepting a floating object supported by a pilotless target aircraft at a definite altitude over the sea," the sources added. — PTI
Withdrawing from S. China Sea?
India’s credibility is at stake
by Harsh V. Pant

There are reports that India is planning to withdraw from joint oil exploration with Vietnam in the South China Sea. Although no formal announcement has been made yet to this effect, Indian officials have been suggesting that the oil block 128 has not shown promising results, so commercially it makes sense to withdraw. At a time when the South China Sea is the focal point of regional turmoil in East Asia, India’s decision will have repercussions far beyond the mere technicalities of hydrocarbon production. Even if there may be no oil in this joint effort, the way it is being announced is bound to be interpreted that India has no stomach for challenging China in its backyard.  Hanoi has already suggested that New Delhi’s decision is a response to pressure from China.

It was just last year that New Delhi had asserted its rights in the international waters of the South China Sea, signalling a deepening of its engagement with Vietnam. The Indian External Affairs Minister had snubbed China, making it clear that India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) will continue to pursue oil and natural gas exploration in two Vietnamese blocks in the South China Sea.  Asking countries “outside the region” to stay away from the South China Sea, China had issued a demarche to India underlining that Beijing’s permission should be sought for exploration in Blocks 127 and 128 and that without it, OVL’s activities would be considered illegal. Vietnam, meanwhile had underlined the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to claim its sovereign rights over the two blocks being explored. India decided to go by Vietnam’s claims and ignore China’s objections.

India’s bold move was aimed at asserting India’s legal claims in the international waters of the South China Sea as well as strengthening its relationship with Vietnam. Both moves unsettled China which views India’s growing engagement in East Asia with suspicion. India’s decision to explore hydrocarbons with Vietnam had come after an unidentified Chinese warship had demanded that INS Airavat, an amphibious assault vessel, identify itself and explain its presence in the South China Sea after the vessel left Vietnamese waters. The Indian warship was completing a scheduled port call in Vietnam and was in international waters. Though the Indian Navy promptly denied that a Chinese warship had confronted its assault vessel as reported by London’s Financial Times, it did not completely deny the factual basis of the report.

China has collided with Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines in recent months over issues related to the exploitation of the East China Sea and the South China Sea for mineral resources and oil. It was under American guardianship of common interests for the last several decades that China has emerged as the economic powerhouse it is today. Now it wants a new system—a system that only works for Beijing and does not deal with the provision of public goods or common resources. With its moves in the South China Sea, India too is challenging China’s claims.

If the display of backbone in pursuing joint oil exploration with Vietnam, despite Chinese objections, had helped India, strengthening relations with Vietnam and forcing others to acknowledge as a credible player in the region, the unceremonious announcement of withdrawal will not only disappoint Hanoi but also put into question the whole idea of India as a regional balancer in the Indo-Pacific region. The smaller states in East and Southeast Asia have been looking to New Delhi to manage China’s rise. Unless managed carefully, India’s credibility will come into question.

To control the damage to its reputation from this sudden volte face, India should make it clear to Hanoi that, despite this decision, it would continue to expand its strategic ties with Vietnam. After all, both nations have stakes in ensuring sea-lane security as well as shared concerns about Chinese access to the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. As the South China Sea become a flashpoint, Hanoi has been busy courting its erstwhile rival, the US, and Washington DC has been asking India to “not just look east but also to engage east and act east as well.” Solidarity among major powers on South China Sea disputes is essential to force China to moderate its maximalist position on this issue.

China is too big and too powerful to be ignored by the regional states. But the states in China’s vicinity are now seeking to expand their strategic space by reaching out to other regional and global powers. Smaller states in the region are now looking to India to act as a balancer in view of China’s growing influence and America’s anticipated retrenchment from the region in the near future, while larger states see India as an attractive engine for regional growth. To live up to its full potential and meet the region’s expectations, India must do a more convincing job of emerging as a credible strategic partner of the region.

It is dangerous in international relations to allow an impression to develop that New Delhi can be browbeaten into submission. If China can operate in India’s backyard and systematically expand its influence, then there is no reason why India should feel diffident about operating in areas that China considers its own sphere of influence. India’s diffidence in foreign policy remains the reason why despite pursuing a ‘Look East’ policy for the last two decades, it continues to be a marginal player in East Asian geopolitics.
India’s New Chief Of Army Staff: A Tough Task Ahead – Analysis

Gen. V. K. Singh, who will be retiring as the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) on May 31,2012, will go down in history as a highly competent General, who did not deserve to be the head of the proud Indian Army despite his excellent record in the battle-field against our adversaries.

He proved during the last months of his tenure that to command the Indian Army, one’s professional qualities and battle-field achievements alone are not sufficient. One requires leadership qualities like firmness in man management combined with fairness to subordinates and colleagues, discretion, an ability to win the respect of the colleagues and establish an atmosphere of trust with the political leadership.


India has been a successful democracy. Its success has been due to not only its voters and its electoral system, but also to the responsible behaviour of the heads of its institutional pillars. Our Army has always been one of the important institutional pillars of our nation and democracy.

In our 65 years of history as an independent nation, we have had instances of honest differences of opinion between the COAS and the political leadership and between the COAS and his senior colleagues. They were handled in a way as they ought to be handled in a sensitive institution like the Army— with a sense of balance, with mutual respect despite the differences, with discretion and away from the glare of publicity. We, the people, became aware of such instances long after the COAS concerned had gone into superannuation.

It went to the credit of those chiefs that they saw to it that their differences did not damage the trust of the political leadership and the public in our proud Army. An Army marches on its pride and its image in the eyes of the public. If the pride and the image are damaged, even the best of weapons and training will be of little avail in maintaining the battle-hardiness of the Army.

In his last months as the chief, Gen.V.K.Singh played to the gallery and exhibited in public a viciousness towards some of his senior colleagues, the like of which will not do credit to any institution, particularly the Army. We have had instances of viciousness in leadership in other institutions of the Government of India dealing with national security, but such viciousness was never exhibited in public and did not make the institutions the laughing stock of the public.

Firmness and fairness in man management is the most important quality the heads of the Armed Forces should have. The esprit de corps, which keeps them fighting fit all the time and under all circumstances, depends on those qualities.

Gen.Singh showed himself to be lacking in those qualities. The Indian Army, that has never been accused or suspected of factionalism, became a breeding ground of factionalism. The relationship of mutual trust and mutual respect between the political and military leadership which has been the bedrock of our successful democracy stands eroded.

Over the years, there has been a demand from strategic analysts in the country for giving our Armed Forces a greater role in decision and policy making in national security matters on par with practices in Western democracies. The Government of Dr.Manmohan Singh had initiated a major exercise to see how this can be done.

Any decision to give the Armed Forces a greater role in decision and policy-making in defence and national security related matters has to be that of the political leadership. It would depend on its confidence in the sense of balance, discretion and responsibility of the military leadership.

That confidence is likely to have been eroded by the way Gen.Singh conducted himself in his sunset months as the COAS. A major casualty of his behaviour could be the exercise to associate the military leadership with policy and decision making in an increasing measure.

The last months of Gen.Singh as the COAS were a bad dream for the country. It is hoped that his successor will repair the damage quickly and make the Army once again one of the important institutional pillars of our democracy and re-establish its esprit de corps.
We need to restore Indian hockey's lost glory: Army Chief
rmy Chief General VK Singh today showed his passion for hockey and urged the nation to restore the lost pride of the Indian hockey team who had clinched the Olympics titles eight times in the past.

"We need efforts to restore the glory of the Indian hockey. We need to respect a hockey player, look to become the best hockey team once again. It will take a lot of effort from all of us," said Gen Singh on the sidelines of the launch of an autobiography titled 'Sansarpur to London Olympics' by 1968 Mexico Olympic medallist Col. (retd.) Balbir Singh.

"I have been a hockey lover and I would like to see the game regain its past glory," the Army chief added.
Talking about the book, Gen Singh said: "This book is about Hockey, a game that was once called a national game. We can relive the glory of hockey through this book."

'Sansarpur to London Olympics', co-authored by sports film maker Sunil Yash Kalra, is a unique book of personal memoir, with interesting compilation of stories, funny anecdotes, sensational revelations and heart-warming vignettes of Balbir's life in the Army and as a hockey player and coach.

"My autobiography, is a sincere attempt to chronicle my life, on and off the field. Aided by newspaper clips, official letters and formal exchanges for over half a century, this humble effort is aimed at hockey aficionados on various landmarks of Indian hockey, in past six decades," Balbir said.

"I have seen many ups and down in my life and I have been fortunate to continuously be a part of various historic events in the past six decades of Indian hockey and now the time is right to share it in exact entirety. I wanted to bring the brutal truths in the open," added Balbir, who hails from Sansarpur, a village that has produced 14 Olympic medallists.

The book has been launched in a digital format and the e-version has been priced at Rs 95 and will be available exclusively on handygo technologies RockASAP.Com.

It will be the first ever sports book in the country to be launched as an E-Book which will not only be available on all Smartphones and Tablets but also on all GPRS enabled mobile handsets.
Chinks in Indian armour
Prasenjit Chowdhury

The Army chief’s letter is not a betrayal. The real betrayal lies not in India’s weakness being uncovered, but in putting a lid on it.

When a surface-to-surface Agni-V missile was launched from the Wheeler Island off Odisha in April this year, the avowed intention was not to be missed. The missile, it is said, can hit targets more than 5,000 km away. With this launch, India entered an ‘exclusive’ club of nations that have this capability. There must be a sense of pride attached to a sense of exclusivity. Though the affair was kept deliberately low-key, it took some 40 years after India first conducted a nuclear test at Pokhran, that she has finally got Beijing and Shanghai within the radar of its nuclear forces. It is beside the point that the Agni-V remains some way from actually being inducted into the armed forces which experts say would require four or five more tests to confirm its flight path, accuracy and overall competence, before production could actually begin.

Chinese experts feel that there is more fire power to India's successful long-range nuclear-capable missile Agni-V than what New Delhi is making the world community to believe. Du Wenlong, a Chinese researcher said the missile “actually has the potential to reach targets 8,000 km away.” Zhang Zhaozhong, a professor with the People’s Liberation Army National Defence University, told the Global Times that according to China’s standard, an ICBM should have a range of at least 8,000 km. Compared to India, China’s nuclear delivery system is equipped with multiple warhead (MIRV) ICBMs like DF-5A (12000+ km) and DF-4 (7500+ km). It also fields submarine launched SLBMs like JL-2 (8500+ km) and strategic fighter bombers like Su-27 Flanker in its nuclear delivery arsenal.

With China in mind in India’s defence policy, without any unnecessary drumming up, what should grab media attention was rather the Army chief General V K Singh’s pointer to the loopholes in India’s operational capabilities – in his letter to the PM – burdened with tanks running out of ammunition, obsolete air defence systems and lack of adequate weaponry for infantry and special forces battalions.

Many raised a hue and cry about a service chief sounding alarm bells on the country’s defence preparedness. Many also questioned the rationale of the facts of India’s ‘weakness’ be put in the public domain as it might expose the ‘shortcomings’ to one and all, including interests ‘inimical’ to India. To them, this act was akin to betrayal. But is hiding unsavoury facts from public scrutiny that might jeopardise national security any more patriotic?

The trouble is, though the leak might amount to a dangerous faux pas, the contents must point to a greater malaise which might not have come to light without the letter. The letter says the army’s entire tank fleet is “devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks”. The existing air defence systems are inadequate against enemy air attacks since they are ‘97 per cent obsolete,’ the letter warns. The letter further points to ‘large scale voids’ in essential weaponry as well as critical surveillance and night-fighting capabilities.

Operational gaps

Army chief’s observations are not misplaced. The Army itself has painted a grim picture in its 11th Plan (2007-2012) review, pointing at ‘operational gaps’ in fields ranging from artillery, aviation, air defence and night-fighting to ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles), PGMs (precision guided munitions) and specialised tank and rifle ammunition. Though the Navy and IAF are on the modernisation track – however slowly – the Army looks like a laggard. In one estimate, the 1.13-million strong force needs as much as Rs 41,000 crore to even meet its existing shortages in equipment and ammunition.

So, while conceding that however big a technological achievement was Agni-V, a number of analysts noted that it was but a small step in forging any military parity with its giant regional adversary. “We are still way behind China. In terms of missile numbers, range and quality, they are way ahead of us,” commented C Raja Mohan, a security analyst and senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, a policy think-tank in Delhi. 

Be that as it may, the former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta (who preceded Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma) was spot on in admitting once that India cannot match Chinese military force. “In military terms, both conventional and non-conventional, we neither have the capability nor the intention to match China force for force,” he said.

He further warned – perhaps mindful of the slow pace of India's military modernisation –  that whether in terms of GDP, defence spending or any other parameter, the gap between the two is too wide to bridge and is getting wider by the day.

Perhaps prodded on by the recommendations of successive standing committees on defence that it should be at least 3 per cent if the emerging threats and challenges are to be successfully countered, the defence budget this year was substantially hiked by more than 17 per cent to Rs 1,93,407 crore from last year's Rs 1,64,415 crore. But a considerable hike is sure to wobble India’s other financial priorities.

An article by Bharat Verma, a former cavalry officer and editor of ‘Indian Defence Review’ infamously predicted that China will attack India before 2012. The article drew a lot of flak but the central thesis was that “India, with its growing affiliation with the west, is yet weak under China’s fire”. His posers were many. Verma questioned if the Indian military is equipped to face the two-front war by Beijing and Islamabad. “Is the Indian civil administration geared to meet the internal security challenges that the external actors will sponsor simultaneously through their doctrine of unrestricted warfare?”

The ghosts of 1962 still haunt the nation. The real betrayal lies not in India’s weakness being uncovered, but to put a lid on it.
Army Chief Gen Singh justifies notice issued to Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag
New Delhi, May 28: Army Chief Gen V K Singh has justified the notice issued to Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag saying that he could not leave the Army in the dumps only because he was going to retire a few days later. Gen Singh retires on May 31.
In an exclusive interview to India TV Executive Editor Sanjay Bragta, Gen Singh said, the Court of Inquiry began its work in December-end and completed its work by April this year after which they file came to him.

"In such a scenario, what did you want me to do? Say, that I have nothing to do because I am retiring?  Let the army go to the dumps ( fauj jaaye bhaad mein ).

"As the Chief, it was my responsibility to act, but then people began attributing motives to me.

"For me, all are equal. After all, I have only issued a notice, nothing more. To attribute motive behind this action is childish."

Asked whether Lt Gen Suhag was targeted because he was in the line of succession for Army Chief, Gen Singh said: "The army is not a monarchy, where you have a succession line. There is no such thing as succession here."

On the Rs 14 crore bribe offer, Gen Singh said, the matter could have been referred to the CBI earlier too. "This could have helped things in the long run. And here, our retired officer goes out and says he wants to take revenge."

On the Tatra truck issue, the Army Chief said, the Army was being palmed off technology of the Seventies, whereas the Czech army itself was using better, modern trucks.

"The Tatra truck costs Rs 25 lakhs in the Czech Republic, but they (BEML) were selling it to our army for Rs 73 lakhs a piece. Moreover the spareparts too were costlier."

On the Indian Express report about army units causing a scare in Delhi, the General said, journalists report such activity when they do not know how the Services work.

Every formation commander, every unit commander carries out such exercise to check mobilisation.

The civilians are never informed, not even the Army chief. There is no need for the formation commander to share info at any level."

On his age controversy, the Army Chief said, the age issue was closed after he was appointed the chief. "Nothing was done from 2006 to 2008.  It was raised again by the same people who were opposed to my appointment."

Asked whether he felt hurt after going to the Supreme Court, Gen Singh said, "I won't say hurt, I feel laughing (mujhe hansi aati hai) . My disappointment was only beause there was no verdict. For me, even a day is as important as my whole tenure."

On the leak of his letter to the Prime Minister pointing out deficiencies in war preparedness, Gen Singh said, "letters are never leaked from the army, where a strong system and workstyle is in place.

The question as to from where the letter was leaked, is a matter to be decided by those who matter.

"An effort was made to give the impression that I leaked the letter. I was the person who wrote the letter, then where was the point for me to leak. These are all efforts to create baseless misunderstandings (be-fazool ki galatfahmi)."

On Pak army chief Gen Kiyani's offer to demilitarize Siachen, Gen Singh replied; "Kiyani Saheb has not said anything new. Then why should we discuss this issue (demilitarizing Siachen) all of a sudden.

So long as we have our boundary disputes pending with both China and Pakistan, we have to remain alert."

Asked about his post-retirement plans, Gen Singh said, "my first work will be to finish my PhD thesis".            

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