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Friday, 1 June 2012

From Today's Papers - 01 Jun 2012
Siachen demilitarisation
A low-risk option to test Pak army’s sincerity
by Gurmeet Kanwal

Ever since General Kayani, the Pakistan Army Chief, made a statement seeking peaceful co-existence with India and pushed for the demilitarisation of the Siachen conflict zone, the commentary that has been published on the subject in India has been mostly negative. Some of the views are ultra-jingoistic and deserve to be discarded as there is no scope for jingoism in international negotiations. Other opposition to demilitarisation is primarily on two major issues: firstly, that the Pakistan Army cannot be trusted to honour the demilitarisation agreement; and, secondly, that China and Pakistan will gang up and join hands at Siachen and threaten Ladakh from the north.

Apparently, the finer nuances of the demilitarisation process have not been clearly understood. The demilitarisation agreement between India and Pakistan will be a legally binding international agreement. It will lay down a step-by-step process to turn the Siachen conflict zone into a demilitarised zone (DMZ). The first step will be authentication of the present deployment positions. This will be followed by disengagement from the AGPL and, finally, the movement of troops, guns and war-like stores to previously agreed positions. The step-by-step demilitarisation process will be mutually agreed by the two DGMOs and approved by the political authorities.

The demilitarisation agreement will be without prejudice to either country’s stated position on the extension of the Line of Control (LoC) beyond NJ9842. This reference on military maps is the point up to which the Cease-Fire Line was jointly demarcated under the Karachi Agreement of 1949 and the Shimla Agreement of 1972. In fact, a Joint Commission will be appointed to negotiate the extension of the LoC beyond NJ9842. This commission will begin its work simultaneously with the commencement of the process of demilitarisation. However, an agreement on the extension of the LoC beyond NJ9842 cannot be a prelude to the commencement of demilitarisation, as some analysts are suggesting. Such a condition, if imposed by India, will make demilitarisation of the Siachen conflict zone a non-starter and both sides will be forced to continue to maintain their present deployments with all the attendant costs.

As part of demilitarisation, the disengagement and redeployment of all military forces to agreed positions will be verified independently by national technical means (satellites, air photos and electronic surveillance) as well as physically through joint helicopter sorties. Subsequent monitoring of the DMZ will also be similarly undertaken. No military activity will be permitted in the DMZ. In addition to mutually agreed physical monitoring being conducted jointly with laid-down periodicity, both sides will have the right to conduct surprise inspections of suspected military movements. A joint monitoring centre (JMC) will be established. This could be set up near Chalunka, where the LoC passes over the Shyok river and road access is easily available. The JMC will be jointly manned by Indian and Pakistani personnel and will have communications with the controlling HQ on both sides. Updated satellite photos and streaming videos from helicopter and UAV sorties will also be regularly available. All joint verification and monitoring activities will be controlled from here.

As both verification and monitoring will be transparent joint activities, it will be ensured that the process of demilitarisation is completed to the mutual satisfaction of both India and Pakistan. Alleged violations of the demilitarisation agreement will be jointly verified. The demilitarisation agreement will contain a clause permitting both sides to take any action that is deemed appropriate, including the use of military means, in case the agreement is violated by the other side. Unauthorised military movement will not go unchallenged. The intruding personnel will be targeted by helicopter gunships and the fighter-ground attack aircraft of the Indian Air Force, as also by armed drones. In case any bunker that is vacated by Indian troops is occupied by the Pakistanis, it will be destroyed by using precision strike munitions. Under these circumstances, even if the Pakistan Army has intentions of attempting to occupy vacated Indian bunkers, it will not succeed in doing so.

Small enemy patrols intruding surreptitiously into the DMZ will not be able to survive beyond a few days in the high altitude wilderness. They will need sustained helicopter support for ammunition, rations and fuel for warming. Supply helicopters will be easily detected and shot down. Large-scale intrusions of platoon to company size will be neutralised by air-to-ground strikes by the IAF with quick reaction reserves - that will be maintained in a high state of operational readiness in Ladakh - being employed for ‘mopping up’ operations. Hence, it will be militarily impossible for Pakistan to ‘hand over’ portions of the DMZ to China or to gang up with that country to jointly threaten Ladakh. Those who are imagining such linkages are seeing phantoms and vastly overstating the threat.

The joint working group constituted to draw up a demilitarisation agreement should be headed jointly by the two DGMOs and their staff assisted by MoD officials and diplomats. They should meet at the Attari-Wagah border and prepare a draft demilitarisation agreement that addresses the apprehensions and concerns of both sides. The draft agreement should be thoroughly debated in both Parliaments and among civil society luminaries, including military veterans. Of course, it has to be remembered that it will be impossible to reach an agreement if all possible objections were to be removed first.

The demilitarisation of the Siachen conflict zone will not only act as a huge military-to-military confidence-building measure, but will also test the Pakistan Army’s sincerity and will be an opportunity for that army to prove that it has actually had a change of heart at the strategic level in wanting peace with India. It is a low-risk option to test whether the Pakistan Army can be trusted, and India must not lose the opportunity to do so. However, India must draw up a demilitarisation agreement that takes care of all political and military apprehensions and make it clear to the Pakistan leadership that no military violation will be tolerated.n
Economic, not military confrontation to checkmate the Dragon
Brig Kartar Singh (Retd)

The Cold War saw tensions between two superpowers, the US and the erstwhile Soviet Union, over a 40-year period, till the Soviet Union came under severe economic crisis and ultimately dissolved. That was the time when China realised the importance of economic reforms, which she started in right earnest. In spite of being the largest communist country in the world, China opened up her economy and allowed large-scale foreign investments, thereby becoming the world's second largest economy. She is continuing her efforts to become an economic super power by 2020. China had learnt her lessons from the Soviet dismemberment and is hence not leaving any stone unturned in the economic field. She has really converted geo-politics and geo-strategies into geo-economics to achieve the status of an economic superpower before ultimately becoming a global superpower.

Some strategic thinkers may not agree with the view that the Sino-Indian thaw has become a geo-economic tussle or show down. China has realised that in the 21st century, only two elements of power will dominate --domestic economy and military/nuclear power. In last two years the Chinese economy has become a five trillion dollar economy and has crossed the Japanese economy. Only USA remains ahead of China, which she might cross by 2020, if all goes as planned by the Chinese.

In order to analyze the military and nuclear elements of power, it is well known that China has the world's largest conventional army. Chinese armed forces are well equipped and their nuclear arsenal is second largest in the world. Though not aligned with any power block, she is an unchallenged military power. As far as regional deployment is concerned she is completely dominating the South Asian region. If one has to compare the might of China and India, it stands completely in favour of China with a ratio of nearly 2:1. Though India has the third largest army in the world, her requirements are much more and her economy can not afford a larger army at this point of time.

China knows that it can not engage in an outright war with India for good reasons which are mostly related to economic conditions. India is not what she was in 1962 and is now a responsible nuclear state with a clear cut nuclear policy. Therefore, China will engage India through a blocking or indirect interference posture, creating economic hindrances or additional expenditure to India, aimed at hampering India's economic growth. If China employs military elements in a blocking or interfering posture against India, she would do it with economic advantage.

It would be in our interest to join hands with China and engage her in the economic development of South and South-East Asian region. Engaging China economically rather than militarily, may avoid military confrontation. The dragon has outgrown us many folds and any military engagement with it should be avoided keeping in mind long term repercussions.

Let us now analyze how China is employing economic polices and geo-strategies to neutralise India. China's biggest worry is import of crude oil. If we take growth of Chinese economy at seven percent, then the oil import worries are likely to enhance. China imports more than 50 per cent of her oil from Gulf and littoral states. To ensure safe passage of her ships, China has secured port facilities in Srilanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The facilities in Srilanka are transit facilities while one at Bangladesh are for transporting oil via a rail link being developed through Myanmar to eastern mainland China. A full fledged port facility at Gawadar in Pakistan will be used for moving oil by rail and road to western Tibet via Gilgit. These facilities appear like strategic encirclement and could be used by China for geo-strategic purposes.

Chinese economy may be assessed as a bubble by some economists but so far nothing adverse has been reported in the public domain. China exports both consumer goods and consumer durables to South Asia and to rest of the world. Chinese have cut down their production costs and they may now open their economy further for MNCs. China has learnt from Russia how not to keep the economy fully closed and run into a deep economic recession. China would naturally allow dollar and euro investments.

China’s realisation about her military and economic strength has helped her to become a regional power and will help her further to become a world power. China has realised the importance of economic growth and seen how the economic crisis in the West is affecting growth in those countries. She has a very competitive neighbour like India and it would be ideal for both countries to cooperate in regional economic development without erecting blockades for each other. China and India must not get involved in any military confrontation, lest they suffer economically. The Sino-Indian border thaw can take its own time to resolve. If bilateral relations have stabilised over the past fifty years, then that has proven my point on economic growth, without which both countries would have suffered. Military escalation on part of India or China could lead to an arms race at the cost of economic development. We must remember that 21st century belongs to the eastern giants -- China and India.
Antony’s message to new Gen: Forget the bitter past
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31
General Bikram Singh today took over as the 27th chief of the 1.13-million strong Indian Army, bringing to an end the controversial 26-month tenure of his predecessor General VK Singh, who retired after 42 years of service.

The new Army Chief has his task cut out, an indication of which came from Defence Minister AK Antony. The minister told the officialdom and the Army to “carry no baggage of the past” and that the “bitter developments” should not be carried forward.

Antony’s message comes at a time when civil-Army relations have hit a nadir. At times, it was felt that the Army was by-passing the civilian authority.

Gen Bikram Singh had to surmount many hurdles before he became the Army Chief. Had the Supreme Court accepted Gen VK Singh’s plea that he was born on May 10, 1951 and not May 10, 1950 as recorded in the Ministry of Defence, Gen Bikram Singh would not have made it to the top job. A chief retires at 62 while Lt Generals retire at 60 years of age.

Commissioned in 1972 in the Sikh Light Infantry, Bikram Singh (59) marks a generation shift in the army, being the first chief who has not seen action in a conventional war. The last conventional war India fought was in 1971 against Pakistan to liberate Bangladesh. Known as ‘Bikki’ to his friends, Gen Bikram Singh commanded the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command before his present assignment.

This afternoon Gen Bikram Singh arrived at South Block accompanied by his wife Bubbles Singh. He saluted the outgoing chief on entering the first floor office of the Army Chief located in this British-era building that houses the Defence Ministry.

Gen V K Singh warmly shook hands with his successor. As per Army traditions, the wives of both the officers were present.

Bharti Singh, the wife of Gen VK Singh welcomed Bubbles Singh, who will now be the chief of the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA).

Gen V K Singh, after inspecting his farewell guard of honour, said the internal health of the force had improved. He said he was alarmed about an incident where a Major had complained about a fake encounter, and that there was no investigation by
the 3 Corps headed by Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who is in line to head the force in 2014.

Gen VK Singh in reply to a question whether there were too many controversies during his tenure, said, “There is no controversy. If we pay too much attention towards certain things, they become controversial.”
Jammuites take pride in Gen Bikram’s feat
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/TNS

Jammu, May 31
Youngest among six siblings, General Bikram Singh, affably called “Bikki” by his friends, who took over as the 25th Chief of the Army Staff of the third largest Army in the world today, spent his early childhood in Exchange Road area of the old city here.

“The only son of his parents, he was very sharp in studies and see what he did today. He has become Chief of the Indian Army,” recalled an old woman, who now lives in the same decrepit house where General Bikram Singh once lived with his five sisters and parents.

He, however, was sent to Nabha for his schooling, she added.

One of his sisters, Balbir Kour, is married to a police officer. They now live with their family in Trikuta Nagar, she informed.

Son of Piara Singh and Jeet Kour, his family lived here for nearly 20 years, she recollected.

The General’s brother-in-law IPS Bali (retired SP) said, “I feel on top of the world today. He (General Bikram Singh) has scaled the pinnacle of success. I really feel happy and I think every Jammuite should take pride in his remarkable feat.”

By sheer dedication and hard work, the Army Chief has made it to the top, said Bali.

General Bikram did his schooling from Punjab Public School, Nabha, before joining the Army. His father was a surveyor by profession.

Dalbir Singh, a retired engineer, who lives in the Exchange Road area, recalled his brief rendezvous with General Bikram Singh. “I had an inkling that he will carve out a niche for himself,” he said.

Celebrations at ancestral village

Amritsar: As General Bikram Singh took over as the Chief of Army Staff on Thursday the residents of his ancestral village Kaler Ghuman near Rayya on Amritsar-Jalandhar road were a jubilant lot
General Bikram Singh assumes charge as new Army Chief
New Delhi: General Bikram Singh, a veteran infantry officer, today took over as the 25th Chief of the Indian Army, succeeding General VK Singh whose 26-month tenure was mired in controversies.

General Bikram Singh, 59, will have a tenure of two years and three months in the top post. (Know your new army chief, General Bikram Singh)

Prior to his appointment as Army Chief, General Bikram Singh was heading the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command.
He has held several important appointments in counter-insurgency areas as the Corps Commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps and Akhnoor-based 10 Division as Major General. (General Singh on his priorities)

The officer, better known as 'Bikki' to his friends, was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry regiment on March 31, 1972 after attending the prestigious Indian Military Academy (IMA).

At the IMA, he held the appointment of battalion cadet adjutant and was awarded the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles gold medal for 'tactics and leadership' and the Shriganesh Trophy.

He was awarded the 'Commando Dagger' and the 'Best in Tactics' trophy during his young officers' course at Infantry School.

He also served as an instructor at the Commando Wing of the Infantry School in Belgaum.

The officer was the face of the Army during the Kargil war when he was serving in the Military Operations Directorate in New Delhi, and used to brief the media about the progress in operations to drive out enemy troops from Indian territory.

As a brigadier, Singh attended the US Army War College in Pennsylvania and has served in two assignments with the United Nations in Central America and as the deputy force commander and GOC of Eastern Division in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

General Bikram Singh is married to Surjeet Kaur and the couple have two children.
Arunachal governor hails Army for scaling Everest
ITANAGAR: Arunachal Pradesh governor Gen (Retd) J J Singh on Thursday congratulated a team of eight Indian Army officers led by Col Ajay Kothiyal for conquering Mount Everest. The Governor said that the achievement reflects the ability and potential of the Indian Army and the leadership and sheer determination of its officers. The army mountaineering team also included Major (Dr) Niekhrietounou Ginua Linyu, the first Naga woman to scale Everest.

Singh also congratulated Arif Siddiqui, a renowned photographer of the state working as junior engineer in PWD, for winning the coveted second edition of Indian Himalayan Photography Competition-2012, for his photo titled 'The stuff of life' in Gangtok on Friday. Singh said he had made the state proud with his photography.

In another congratulatory message, the Governor congratulated professor David R Syiemlieh, vice-chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University, on being appointed to the post of Member, Union Public Service Commission. "Your appointment to the coveted post is a recognition of your ability, talent, experience and dedication to the nation and a matter of great pride for all Arunachal," Singh said.

The Governor said that the achievement reflects the ability and potential of the Indian Army and the leadership and sheer determination of its officers. The army mountaineering team also included Major (Dr) Niekhrietounou Ginua Linyu, the first Naga woman to scale Everest.
13 students from city-based institute make it to NDA
As many as 13 students of the city-based institute Apex Careers have cleared the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy, Ezhimala (NDA&NA) entrance test, the results for which were declared on Wednesday.

Krishenpal Singh, who hails from Rajasthan and studied at the institute, stood 10th in the All India Rank (AIR). While six of those in the list are from the city, four of the shortlisted students are Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC), Dehradun, passouts and have made to NDA in their second attempt. The other two — Prasad Biradar and Shreyash Srivastava — are form Latur in Maharashtra and

Tejas Agham, a resident of Range Hills in Khadki who ranked 301 in the All India Merit said, “Carrer in defence forces is a new found love. I was preparing for IIT entrance at Kota but when one of my professors mentioned about NDA and career in the Armed Forces, I gave a thought to join NDA. While I could not clear the IIT entrance, I decided to appear for the NDA entrance with a dream to join the Indian Air Force as a fighter pilot. Meanwhile, my father who is a teacher, told me to re-appear for the IIT entrance. Interestingly, today I have cleared both the exams and have both the options open in front of me. I have decided to join the Armed Forces as the career here is much more than just money.” Agham would be joining the Army wing of the NDA in the last week of June.

Over two lakh students from across the country appeared for the UPSC written test that was held in August 2011. The Services Selection Boards (SSB) interviews took place from January 30- February 4. An All India Merit List of 837 was declared on Wednesday.

Another student, Sunny Salunkhe said, “I have cleared the written and the SSB interview. However, given that my rank is low in the merit list, I might not be able to make it to the academy. But now I plan to go through 10+2 Technical Entry Scheme.”

Lt Col Pradeep Brahmankar, director, Apex Careers said, “I am overwhelmed. This is the first time that our student has stood 10th in the AIR. Four RIMC students have made it to NDA in their second attempt.”
Outgoing Chief smells ARV scam year after MoD got complaints
Outgoing Army Chief General V K Singh said he had only just learnt that there were “issues” concerning the WZT-3 Armoured Recovery Vehicles (ARVs) but the Ministry of Defence had been receiving complaints about the contract with Bumar of Poland since last year.

Bumar supplies the ARVs — T-72 tanks re-fitted for repair and recovery — in collaboration with Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) at almost identical terms and indigenisation stipulations as the Tatra-Vectra trucks. And, only four months ago, Bumar bagged a $275-million contract for supply of 204 more ARVs which the ex-Chief says were “useless.’’

A year ago, BJD MP Pinaki Mishra wrote to Defence Minister A K Antony complaining against the slow pace of indigenisation by BEML on the ARVs and what he called “obsolete” technology sold by Bumar to India. He sent a second letter on July 22, 2011, alleging “vast details of fraud and misfeasance’’ in the BEML-Bumar contract.

The first order for ARVs was placed by MoD with Bumar in 1999 and with the latest contract for 204 vehicles, the total number contracted for stands at 556 ARVs.

On August 19, 2011, Antony replied: “In the last contract of 2004, BEML attained an indigenisation content of 26% inspite of the fact that the RFP for the contract was issued for fully formed imports and without any precondition for indigenization. In the present case for procurement of 204 ARVs, the Ministry has stipulated an indigenisation content of a minimum of 30%. However, BEML will be directed to enhance this to a level of 50% in a time-bound and phased manner.’’

Antony also replied that the “price (of the ARVs) has been deliberated upon extensively by the Contract Negotiation Committee and acceptable prices worked out...’’

While BEML Chairman V R S Natarajan did not respond to messages and calls, Pinaki Mishra said he was not satisfied with the Minister’s reply since a fresh contract was signed by the MoD with Bumar and BEML for the ARVs despite the issues raised by him.

“The ARV case is just like the Tatra case which is now the subject matter of a CBI inquiry,” Mishra said. “The same issues of exorbitantly priced spares, slow pace of indigenization and lack of transparency in the bidding process stare us in the face here too.’’

Also, just as in the case of Ravi Rishi, the owner of Tatra-Vectra, the latest criticism of the Bumar ARV deal has turned the spotlight on Chetan Seth, Managing Director of BIPL (Bumar India Pvt Ltd), the joint venture between Bumar of Poland and the Chemon Group of Companies, established in 2005.

That JV was set up to create “indigenous sources of supply of T-72 parts and WZT-3 parts for supply to BEML/ Ordnance factories/Indian party.’’ Bumar, Poland, holds just under 26% equity in this company.

In response to questions on the ARV deal, Seth gave a written reply that BIPL has been specifically barred from doing “any activity’’ that may influence the sale of Bumar products and that all negotiations for the ARV deal were conducted directly between Bumar, Poland, and BEML.

Seth indicated that if there were issues on the inflated rate of spare parts for the WZT-3s, this could be because of the price difference between what Bumar is charging BEML and BEML, in turn, billing the MoD. Their statement reads, “It came as a surprise to us when we heard Gen V K Singh’s statement on television that BEML was charging 400% profit on Bumar spares. I will recommend that Bumar should ask BEML for an explanation and also request the MGO (Master General of Ordnance) that imported spares should be bought directly from Bumar at very competitive prices and there is no reason for them to be imported via BEML. BIPL could also deliver these spares in India.’’
General VK Singh, Lt Gen SR Ghosh bid farewell to Indian Army
Chandigarh: On May 31, history was written for the Indian Army. The last of the Generals who participated in the last of the three wars that Independent India fought retired from service. Gen VK Singh, former Chief of Army Staff and Lt Gen SR Ghosh, former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, were the last of the serving officers of the Indian Army who fought the 1971 India-Pakistan war.

All officers in the Indian Army, beginning June 1, 2012 were commissioned into the Indian Army after the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The Army has been participating in internal security duties and has taken part in operations with the United Nations in war torn areas and also in Sri Lanka and Maldives in addition to fighting the Kargil war. The Kargil war was not elevated to the level of an India-Pakistan war and was considered localized even as both Armies lost a large number of soldiers and officers on the icy heights.

Lt Gen SR Ghosh, General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC-in-C), Western Command, bid farewell to arms Thursday after distinguished service to the nation spanning over four decades. After a solemn Wreath Laying ceremony at war memorial Veer Smriti Chandimandir Lt Gen SR Ghosh, remarked in the Veer Smriti Visitor Book "As the last veteran of the 1971 Indo-Pak war, I hang up my uniform and pay my solemn gratefulness to our brave soldiers who laid down their lives for our tomorrow".
Lt Gen SR Ghosh, an alumnus of St Josephs, Nainital and National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, was commissioned on 14 November 1971 and immediately participated in Indo-Pakistan war in J&K. Besides commanding one of the oldest battalions of The Brigade of The Guards, he has commanded an Infantry Brigade on the Line of Control, an Infantry Division, The Mathura-based Strike Corps and the prestigious Western Army from where he bid adieu today.

Lt Gen Ghosh said that during the height of the controversy over his age Gen VK Singh told him that his fight was his personal issue and it should not affect the training, the operations or the functioning of the rest of the Army. "My belief is it has not affected the commands in any manner, the fighting armies," said Ghosh.

"We have kept out of the controversies; we frankly don't have the time to get into all that. Whatever he was fighting for was what he thought was right and just. I know the new Chief Gen Bikram Singh extremely well, we are very good friends, I have a huge regard for him, he is an extremely competent, well read and well spoken officer. I think he will be a dynamic leader. I was in J&K when he was injured. These things actually happened. Controversies may have been raised by somebody. But the Army should be allowed to get back to its functioning," said Lt Gen SR Ghosh.

A new Army Commander takes charge of Western Army Command from June 1.
Chiefs of Staff banner: It's Oscar squadron again
Never let your personal gains overwrite national rights — says Army chief General V K Singh, reviewing officer of the parade

Marching on the tunes of Auld lang syne, 361 cadets of the 122nd course passed out of the National Defence Academy (NDA) on Wednesday. In a crisp parade reviewed by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General V K Singh, Academy Cadet Captain GD Reddy was awarded the President's Gold Medal for standing first in the overall order of merit. Battalion Cadet Captain (BCC) SS Pal was awarded the President's Silver Medal while battalion Cadet Adjutant (BCA) JS Aswal was awarded the Bronze medal. In a remarkable achievement, the Oscar Squadron bagged the prestigious Chiefs of Staff banner- for the third consecutive time in a row. Squadron Cadet Captain L Nikhil Singh received the banner on behalf of the Oscar squadron.

The PoP was reviewed by General V K Singh, Chief of Army Staff of Indian Army. The passing out 361 cadets included 21 foreign cadets from friendly countries- nine from Afghanistan, ten from Tajikistan and two from Kazakhstan. The 122nd course commenced their training on June 30, 2009. The course included 248 Army cadets, 44 Naval cadets and 69 Air Force cadets.

The bugle went off at sharp 7.15 am post and marching on the tunes of Kadam Kadam Badhaye Jaa, cadets positioned themselves in 18 squadrons on the Khetarpal Parade Ground. The officers received by the parade included rear admiral Anand Iyer, deputy commandant and chief instructor, NDA, Lt Gen Jatinder singh, commandant, NDA, Lt Gen A K Singh, General Officer commanding-in- Chief of the Southern Command and General V K Singh, Chief of Army Staff. The achievers of the 122nd course were felicitated by the Army Chief.

Three Super Dimona aircraft flew past the parade as the sixth termers crossed the 'Antim Pag' the final step to take formal leave of the academy. The cadets will now be joining their respective finishing academies before being commissioned into the three services as officers.

During his address, General V K Singh said, “You are commencing an exhilarating journey in the three services. You were boys when you entered the NDA. Now you are men and will become military leaders after training individually in each service. Military leaders must have commitment, determination and the thought of nation should be the uppermost in mind. They should lead by example. Never let your personal gains overwrite national rights. Nation depends on you for peace. Amongst you would be the future chiefs of the services. When India is searching ahead, there are exciting times ahead,” he said. He concluded referring to Kipling's poem saying, “If you can dream - and not make dreams your master..If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!”

President's Gold Medal
Academy Cadet Captain (ACC) G D Reddy

On July 7, ACC Reddy will be joining the Air Force Academy (AFA) to become a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force (IAF)- thus achieving a major milestone towards completion of his dream to be a fighter pilot. On Wednesday, if the Army chief praised the parade, a major credit certainly went to ACC Reddy who was commanding the parade. The winner of the President's Gold Medal for standing first in the overall order of merit, ACC Reddy said, “This is a dream come true. My mother was initially scared about me joining the forces. But I managed to convince her.” An alumnus of Sainik School, Vijaynagaram, Reddy's father is a pharmacist while mother is a housewife. His sister is an MBA. Reddy belongs to the Oscar Squadron of the academy.

President's Silver Medal
Battalion Cadet Captain (BCC) S S Pal

A cadet from the Echo Squadron, Pal, unlike Reddy comes from military background. His father subedar S M Singh is posted in the Ordnance Depot Talegaon. Originally from Uttar Pradesh, Pal will now be joining the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun on July 7 for becoming an infantry officer in the Indian Army. “My son is will become an officer now,” said a visibly pleased Singh, BCC Pal's father. “I have not been great at academics, but sports has always been my strong point,” said BCC Pal adding, “I am happy that my classmates are passing with me.”

President's Bronze Medal
Battalion Cadet Adjutant (BCA) J S Aswal

It has been three days that Subedar Rajinder Singh Aswal, his wife and BCA Aswal's grandmother are staying at the NDA. This is the first time his grandmother has visited the academy. Subedar Rajinder Singh Aswal's eyes are filled with pride when he talks about his son saying, “He will be an officer.” A cadet of Lima Squadron, BCA Aswal will be joining the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun on July 7. “It is a different feeling. But I always wanted to be an officer and am looking forward to joining IMA,” he said.
Tough days ahead for new Indian Army chief
New Delhi : He surmounted blistering attacks and challenges to his elevation but Gen Bikram Singh, who Thursday assumed command of the 1.13 million strong Indian Army has his task cut out on two fronts: restoring the image and public perception of the force and ensuring its rapid modernisation.

The turbulent civilian-military relations over the last two years, primarily caused by the age row of previous chief V.K. Singh that went up to the Supreme Court to be settled, has taken a heavy toll and it will be an uphill effort for Bikram Singh to bridge the wedge.

That apart, recent allegations of corruption in army purchases, in particular the bribe offer for Tatra trucks, has dented the confidence that the people of the country had in the army as a bastion of morality.

How Bikram Singh changes that perception will be keenly watched.

Differences of opinion between the military and the civilian leadership in a democracy like India is nothing unusual, but the way these differences are dealt with is an indicator of how matured the nation is in its governance practices.

On this score, Bikram Singh would need a lot of help from the defence ministry mandarins and the civilian political leadership.

Then, within the army itself, restoring the morale of the troops and the confidence of the soldiers in their commanders would be the key focus.

Ahead of moving to Delhi, Bikram Singh, in his last meeting with officers and staff at the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command, is quoted as having listed getting the army "back on track" as one of his primary tasks.

He also talked about "setbacks" in the recent months for the army, and also promised not to "brush anything under the carpet".

The other major challenge for the new chief is to further the army's modernisation process and push the defence ministry for fast-tracking key purchases of weapons and equipment for the force, whose hollowness in critical areas is now out in the public domain thanks to his predecessor's letter to the prime minister on the issue finding its way to the media.

There are several procurements that need to be expedited. These include buying four different types of artillery guns, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers, 10,000 Konkurs-M anti-tank guided missiles and 25,000 anti-tank Invar missiles. This apart, there is the need to raise new regiments to operate the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

Stepping up of border infrastructure for smooth, quicker movement of troops and equipment is another key area, particularly in the northeast.

And finally, the 15-year and five-year plans for the force, approved earlier this month, need to be followed up with the defence ministry and timely implementation ensured.
Gen Bikram Singh assumes command of Indian Army
Gen Bikram Singh, an infantryman, Thursday assumed command of the 1.13 million strong Indian Army, bringing to an end the controversial 26 month tenure of his predecessor Gen V.K. Singh, who retired after 42 years of service. He is only the second Sikh to be elevated to the post.

Bikram Singh, the 27th Indian Army chief, had to surmount a number of hurdles, including a legal battle that almost denied him the opportunity to the helm the world's second largest army. He was hitherto the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Commander and will serve for 27 months as the army chief.

Commissioned in 1972 in the Sikh Light Infantry, Bikram Singh, 59, marks a generation shift in the army, being the first chief who has not seen action in a conventional war. The last conventional war India fought was in 1971 against Pakistan to liberate Bangladesh. During the last major operation the Indian Army was involved in - Kargil in 1999 - he was posted in the Directorate General of Military Operations at Army Headquarters and used to conduct the daily media briefings.

His ascension to the top had come in doubt over his predecessor's claim that he was born on May 10, 1951 and not in 1950, thereby allowing him 10 months more as chief till March 2013 - by which time Bikram Singh would have retired.

However, the Supreme Court, in February, heard a petition on V.K. Singh's age and upheld the defence ministry decision to treat the birth year as 1950 in official records. This paved the way for Bikram Singh to be named army chief-designate in March, ending months of a bitter succession row.

Bikram Singh's appointment came after an intricate vetting process in the wake of an allegation that he was involved in a fake shootout in Kashmir and an intelligence check on his family members.

The defence ministry had sought a detailed clearance from intelligence agencies on his eldest daughter-in-law, who was said to be a Pakistani citizen. This had raised fears of "security risks and implications".

But intelligence agencies rubbished this and in fact informed the defence ministry that the daughter-in-law is a US citizen. She is the daughter of an Afghan and her mother is from a Central Asian country.

As for the March 2001 Kashmir shootout, the mother of an alleged militant killed in a south Kashmir village said her son was a civilian labourer and troops under the command of then Brigadier Bikram Singh had killed him in a staged gun battle.

Kashmir Police gave him a clean chit, even as a petition on the issue is still pending with the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

Bikram Singh was among the three short-listed senior-most officers - Vice Chief Lt. Gen. Shri Krishna Singh and Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik being the other two - in contention for the top post.

Bikram Singh is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy. He also attended the US Army War College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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