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Friday, 31 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 31 Aug 2012
On training sortie, 2 Air Force copters collide mid-air, 9 dead
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
Nine Indian Air Force personnel, including five pilots, were today killed when two MI-17 choppers collided mid-air just after take-off from the Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat.

The Russian-made twin-engine copters were on a training sortie and flying in close formation. The crash occurred at 12.05 pm, five minutes after the take-off,” said IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Gerard Galway. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered. This is the first-ever MI-17 mid-air collision for the IAF.

Among the dead are three Wing Commanders - Vikram Singh, S Saxena (a qualified flying instructor) and Ashish Sharma. The other casualties are Squadron Leader Manoj, Flying Officer Srijith and 4 air warriors - an IAF nomenclature for other ranks - Patel, Rana, Murugan and Sahni. It is learnt that at least three of the officers were not based in Jamanagar and had come for special combat training from forward bases.

Preliminary reports suggest a pilot error could have caused the crash, said sources. The choppers were headed for field firing practice and flying close to each other. Under the IAF guidelines, the Mi-17 choppers have to maintain a distance of 60 meters from each other. A Mi-17 on such missions flies at a speed of 180 km per hour. “It appears that one of the pilots took a wrong turn or followed a command incorrectly like taking a left turn instead of right or vice-versa,” said sources. “In such a scenario, there would have been no reaction time for pilots to correct the error, leading to collision. In this case, the upper rotors had come in contact causing the collision,” said officials. A Wing Commander who flies such a chopper in tactical flying formation would ideally have a flying experience of 1,200 to 2,500 hours. The choppers belonged to the Tactical Development Establishment, Gwalior. Sources said the choppers turned into a fireball after collision and the bodies were badly charred.

All in 5 minutes

    The Mi-17 choppers took off from the Jamnagar airbase at 12 pm and crashed five minutes later
    The IAF copters were headed for field firing practice and flying in close formation
    Preliminary reports suggest a pilot error could have caused the crash. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered
Indian army helicopters in deadly collision
At least nine military officials dead after two Russian-made MI-17 helicopters crash into each other in Gujarat state.
Two military helicopters have collided during a training sortie over India's western state of Gujarat on Thursday, killing nine air force personnel, the government has said.

Television pictures showed the burnt out remains of the Russian-made MI-17 multi-utility helicopters in what seemed like a sparsely populated area.

The wreckage was surrounded by police, firefighters and military officials.

Officials quoted by the media said the crash site was a military area near the Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat, a state bordering Pakistan. No casualties or loss of property on the ground was reported.

The military has been plagued by several fatal accidents, often due to obsolete hardware. More than half of the 872 MiG fighters India bought from Moscow since the early 1960s have crashed.

India plans to spend about $100bn over the next 10 years to upgrade the largely Soviet-era military equipment.
China Test Fires Nuclear-Capable ICBM, Defense Minister to Visit India
China has announced this week that they have recently test-fired a new generation inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) that is capable of carrying up to 10 nuclear warheads. The missile, called Dongfeng-41, has a strike range of 14,000 kilometers.

The announcement, which was broadcasted on China’s state-run CCTV, said that “China last month tested a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missile, the Dongfeng-41, or DF-41, which is believed to have a maximum strike distance of 14,000 km.”

In a rare occurrence, the announcement also contained video footage of mobile missile units in action.

Perhaps provocatively, the announcement also said that “the new missile’s mobility, precession and war head yield combined give China a first strike capability.” China claims, however, that it would never be the first one to use nuclear weapons, and that its arsenal is strictly designed as a deterrent and for counter-attack in the event of a nuclear strike against its territory.
On Tuesday, China’s CCTV also reported that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) mobile missile units have been undergoing training in different parts of the country to become familiarized with local, climatic conditions.
This missile launch is of significant strategic importance for India. China’s test-fire has occurred in the aftermath of India’s own launch of its Agni-V missile, which has the capability to reach several cities deep within China. It then begs the question, is China’s recent launch in reaction to India’s own missile launch?

At a time when China and India have been militarizing their shared border within the Himalayas, such missile diplomacy is an unwanted addition to already tense Sino-Indian relations.

High-level interactions and negotiations between China and India, however, are set to increase. China’s Defense Minister, General Liang Guanglie, is due to visit India for official meetings from September 2, 2012. This will be the first visit from a Chinese defense minister to India in the past seven years.
The purpose of the trip is to deepen military ties between the nuclear-armed neighbors, especially along their heavily-armed Himalayan border. It is expected that successful negotiations will result in the creation of confidence building measures, and possibly the revival of their “hand-in-hand” bilateral exercises (which have been placed on hold since 2010 after China denied an Indian general a visa).

In an official statement, the Indian government noted that measures to increase “peace and tranquility” along the Sino-Indian border is on the agenda. The government further stated that “the two sides will also discuss measures to promote defense cooperation between their armed forces.”

The overall situation is thus quite positive. In recent years the militarization of the border between China and India has been a contentious issue – any confidence building measures that can be put in place will only serve to decrease tension in the region. However, further testing of nuclear-capable ICBMs could potentially inject a degree of uncertainty into the strategic calculations of both sides. Nonetheless, continued high-level interaction between China and India can only help to preserve the positive relations between the Asian giants.
Five Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan
SYDNEY: Australia on Thursday mourned the deaths of five of its soldiers in Afghanistan, three killed by an Afghan army colleague, in what have become the nation's deadliest hours of combat since the Vietnam War.

The Australians were killed in two separate incidents just hours apart late Wednesday and early Thursday.

The first incident took place at a base in Uruzgan province, when a man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire on Australian soldiers, killing three and wounding two, according to Air Marshal Mark Binskin, vice chief of the Australian Defense Force. Hours later, two Australian soldiers died and a crew member was wounded when their helicopter rolled over while landing in Helmand province.

"In a war of so many losses, this is our single worst day in Afghanistan," Prime Minister Julia Gillard said. "Indeed, I believe this is the most losses in combat since the days of the Vietnam War and the Battle of Long Tan. This is news so truly shocking that it's going to feel for many Australians like a physical blow."

Eighteen Australian soldiers were killed in the Battle of Long Tan in 1966. Tom Vasey, a spokesman for the Australian War Memorial, said five Australian soldiers were killed in a 14-hour period in 1971 during the Battle of Nui Le, making that the last time so many died so quickly in a combat zone.

The Australians were relaxing at the base when the assailant began shooting at close range with an automatic weapon, Binskin said. Soldiers at the base returned fire, but the shooter scaled a fence and escaped.

The Australians tried to revive their comrades, but the wounds proved fatal, he said. One of the wounded soldiers sustained a serious gunshot wound and was evacuated to another base for further treatment. He is in satisfactory condition. The other was treated at the scene.

The Afghan soldier accused of the shooting is named Hekmatullah, and was working as a night guard at the Afghan army base where the international troops had stopped to spend the night, Afghan officials said. Hekmatullah fired at the Australians as they entered the base in Uruzgan province's Chora district, said Abdulhameed Hameed, an Afghan army commander in the south.

Australian and Afghan soldiers were hunting for the killer Thursday, Binskin said. He would not release further details of the attack, and said the shooter's motive was unknown.

Insider attacks, in which Afghan security forces or insurgents posing as soldiers or police fire on their coalition allies, have been rising over the past year and have surged even higher in the last few weeks. Including the latest strike, there have been at least 34 such attacks so far this year, killing 45 coalition members, mostly Americans. Last year, four Australian soldiers were killed by Afghan troops.

In response to the spike in killings, the U.S. has begun using "guardian angels" _ armed NATO service members who are assigned to watch over any gatherings of NATO troops and Afghan soldiers. Binskin said Australia also uses guardian angels, but he didn't know whether such a soldier was in place during Wednesday's shooting.

Gillard, who in the wake of the deaths will be returning early from a meeting of Pacific nation leaders in the Cook Islands, said security for Australian soldiers had been heightened following the latest attack. She acknowledged the incident was a blow for relations between the two nations' soldiers.

"These insider incidents are very difficult for trust between Australian soldiers and the Afghans that they train. They are corrosive of trust," she said.

Thirty-eight Australian soldiers have been killed in the Afghanistan war, and the latest incidents were the country's worst loss of life in a 24-hour period since the campaign began more than a decade ago.

Australia has 1,550 troops in Afghanistan and makes the largest military contribution of any country outside NATO. The Australian soldiers' primary focus is training an Afghan battalion to take responsibility for security in restive Uruzgan.

Australian plans to begin withdrawing troops once the Afghan battalion is fully trained, as early as next year. Gillard said the latest bloodshed would not speed up that timeline.

"Our strategy is well defined, our strategy is constant. And we cannot allow even the most grievous of losses to change our strategy," Gillard said. "We are there for a purpose and we will see that purpose through."
Two army officers honey-trapped by foreign operatives: Antony
Press Trust of India / New Delhi August 30, 2012, 17:05

Two army officers have been honey-trapped by alleged foreign operatives in the recent years, Defence Minister A K Antony has said.

"Two instances have been reported where officers were compromised by alleged foreign operatives," Antony said in written reply to a question raised yesterday in Rajya Sabha.

He said inquiries were conducted by the army and appropriate action has been initiated in the respective cases.
Two cases of honey-trapping have come to light in the recent years. In the first case, a Lt Col-rank officer from the Parachute Regiment was honey-trapped by a woman while he was doing a course in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

While in the other case, a Major-rank officer posted in Sriganganagar (Rajasthan) was found to be compromised online as he was in touch with the same lady over social networking websites.

The army had ordered separate Court of Inquiries in both the cases and taken measures to check such incidents.

Replying to another query, Antony said a Brigadier and a civilian officer working with the Canteen Stores Department (CSD) were arrested by the CBI for illegal gratification.

"Two officers of the CSD including Bikash Ranjan Dashchaudhary and Brig Anuj Kainthala were arrested by the CBI, Anti-Corruption Bureau for accepting illegal gratification," the Defence Minister said.

On the suicide of a jawan in Samba, Antony said an inquiry has been ordered by the army to look into the matter.
Indian Navy afflicted with common defence diseases: Hopelessly low indigenisation and criminal cost overruns
C Uday Bhaskar

Visiting Fellow, National Maritime Foundation

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while addressing Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists in Delhi on July 31, drew timely attention to a perennial shortcoming of the Indian defence R&D and production sector: the low level of truly indigenous content in major platforms and the huge time and cost overruns.

While commending the DRDO for its contribution and the success achieved in high-visibility items such as the Agni V missile, Singh, in his characteristically low-key manner, noted with commendable candour, "The reality is that the share of indigenous content in defence procurement continues to be low. We need to take a hard look at the pipeline of our projects and focus our time and material resources on selected areas where we have demonstrated capacity to deliver projects within reasonable time and cost."

Established in 1958, the DRDO is over 50 years old and acquired its institutional credibility and relevance under the stewardship of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when India was placed under a severe US-led technology denial regime after the peaceful nuclear test of May 1974.

Predictably, the national strategic military capability received the highest priority and the country's current missile and nuclear weapon profile was enabled due to the perseverance shown by the techno-scientific leadership of those decades that included Raja Ramanna, V S Arunachalam and Abdul Kalam who headedthe DRDO during a challenging period.

However, there are many areas where the DRDO has not been able to deliver as envisaged and the big-ticket items that are still stuck as it were include the main battle tank for the army and the light combat aircraft for the air force. Despite its progress in other sectors, India's truly indigenous defence production is woefully inadequate and the country has the dubious distinction of having a one-million-plus army but is unable to produce its own artillery gun - and the Bofors syndrome has afflicted the entire defence procurement and production edifice.

There is a perception, albeit misplaced, that it is only in the case of naval ship design and production that India has been able to make commendable strides, and that the Indian Navy is ahead of its larger peers - the army and the air force - as far as indigenisation is concerned. The commissioning of the stealth frigate, the INS Sahayadri, on July 21 in Mumbai is illustrative of this dominant perception.

The 6,300-tonne Sahayadri is the second in a series of three guided-missile frigates with stealth characteristics built at Mumbai's defence public sector Mazagon Docks and epitomises the observation made by the Prime Minister. Estimated to cost Rs 10,000 crore, the three frigates will undoubtedly add muscle to the Indian Navy, and defence minster A K Antony exhorted the shipbuilding fraternity to rise to the challenge and asserted, "The country's warship-building programme must meet the Navy's force-level requirements. Over the years, there has been a gradual shift from being a buyer's navy to a builder's navy."

Antony added that Indian shipbuilding must benchmark itself against the best international practices and urged the private sector to join in this endeavour. This, alas, is where the plot thickens, in a not-so-flattering manner.

The stealth frigate project is one of many ambitious procurement programmes that the Indian Navy has embarked upon and is portrayed as an example of India gradually making the transition from a 'buyer to a builder.' However the reality is more modest. A warship is indexed by the credibility and potency of its ordnance punch, precision guidance, surveillance and propulsion capabilities. A closer examination of the equipment fitted on the INS Sahayadri reveals that barring the electronic warfare kit and the sonar, every other significant inventory item - be it guns, missiles, radars or the engines - are all imported, with Russia, Israel and France being the major suppliers.

As the Prime Minister correctly observed, the indigenous content of major Indian military platforms is woefully low. And as for benchmarking them against the best international practices, the contrast is even more dismal.

The Sahayadri took over nine years from the laying of the keel to the commissioning - March 2003 to July 2012 - and this has become the norm for building a major naval ship in India. The first ship in the guided-missile destroyer class, the 6,800-tonne INS Delhi, took almost 10 years from keel to commissioning - and this is indicative of the timelines that prevail in Indian shipyards.

The track record for comparable ships in other countries is: China four years and Japan three years. Time overruns invariably translate into cost overruns and the fact that Indianyards take more than double the time to deliver a ship to the Navy does not augur well for the future.

By current reckoning, the country will allocate upwards of Rs 1,00,000 crore for naval shipbuilding over the next 10 years in domestic yards and clearly, the current indigenisation-cum-cost and time indicators need drastic and determined improvement.

This can happen only if the reality is accepted that there is an 'emperor's new clothes' syndrome at play as far as the country's defence production sector is concerned. The Tatra vehicle scandal is the tip of a murky iceberg of make-believe and this virus is widespread in other domains.

An objective techno-commercial and politico-strategic audit of the country's naval ship and submarine building is called for. Placing the sequestered Rama Rao committee report that reviewed the DRDO in the public domain will be a very useful starting point.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 30 Aug 2012
Medical supplies to ECHS clinics to be outsourced
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, August 29
Availability and issuance of medicines under the Ex-servicemen’s Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) is expected to be streamlined soon. Tendering process for outsourcing pharmacy operations will take off shortly.

Under the scheme, a private vendor would handle procurement and distribution of medicines as prescribed to ECHS subscribers at pre-fixed discounted prices and the bill for the same would be picked up by the government.

The move to outsource pharmacy operations comes in the wake of procedural delays and shortages of medicines procured through military hospitals. As reported earlier, non-availability of prescribed medicines at many ECHS polyclinics is a sore point with many veterans who depend on them for medicare.

Under the first phase, 100 polyclinics under six regional centres - those in Chandigarh, Delhi, Lucknow, Pune, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram - would be brought under the ambit of outsourcing. The lowest bid would be decided by the highest discount quoted by the vendor, who will procure medicines through his own sources.

Under the present system, the Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) is responsible for procuring and ensuring availability of medicines, for which funds are placed with them by the ECHS. The DGAFMS sub-allocates the funds to various medical supply depots for central procurement and to military hospitals for local purchase of medicines. These medicines are then transferred to the ECHS polyclinics.

It typically took six-eight weeks to purchase medicines and even emergency procurement by hospitals was affected. Further, no additional staff had been authorised to the DGAFMS to cater to the ever-increasing additional load of the ECHS.

The government-sponsored ECHS has 260 functional polyclinics besides about 1,400 empanelled private hospitals that provide medicare to about 40 lakh retired armed forces personnel and their dependents. It has an operating budget of over Rs 1,000 crore.

Streamlining Healthcare

    The move to outsource pharmacy operations comes in the wake of procedural delays and shortages of medicines procured through military hospitals
    To begin with, 100 polyclinics under six regional centres — Chandigarh, Delhi, Lucknow, Pune, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram — will be brought under the ambit of outsourcing
CBI registers Official Secrets Act case against Abhishek Verma
Syed Ali Ahmed/TNS

New Delhi, August 29
The CBI today registered a case against arms dealer Abhishek Verma under the Official Secret Act (OSA) on the basis of a complaint filed by the Defence Ministry requesting the agency to probe “leakage of secret defence documents”.

The Defence Ministry has already provided the CBI with a list of seven documents that come under the definition of the Official Secrets Act (OSA). The documents which are believed to be of secret nature include acquisition plans for next five years for the Indian Air Force, sources said.

The Defence Ministry submitted the complaint on August 24 to probe leakage of secret official defence documents. The CBI discussed this issue at senior level to register the case as there was no mention of Abhishek in the complaint, sources said.

Sources said the documents had not been recovered from Verma’s possession. They were disclosed by other persons.

The sources added that retired Defence Ministry officials could be questioned in the case.
Indian Army buying 20 mini-UAVs for Kashmir
New Delhi, Aug 29 — To better arm its troops fighting insurgents in the border state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Army is buying 20 man-portable, mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can be deployed to gather intelligence and mount surveillance.

The mini-UAVs are being bought by the Udhampur-based Northern Army Command. Earlier this month, it issued a tender open to global original equipment manufactuters.

Sources in the Northern Army Command said the mini-UAVs will augment the Israeli UAVs that the over three lakh troops in Jammu and Kashmir already use.

"The tender was issued earlier this month and we expect the mini-UAV manufacturers to respond by the beginning of September this year. After perusal of the proposals, the orders will be placed for the 20 mini-UAVs required at present," souces said.

The procurement is being made under the Northern Army Commander's special financial powers as "the quantity is less and costs low", the source said.

The mini-UAV that the troops will get will weigh less than 10 kg and can be transported on the shoulders of a trooper.

The mini-UAV will have cameras, including an infrared one, for night use. It also comes equipped with recording devices and sensors for mounting surveillance.

"We have asked for mini-UAVs that can be assembled by the troops themselves within 20 minutes and deployed for about an hour over a specific area of about five-km radius," sources said.

The mini-UAVs will be propelled by an electric motor and hence it will be literally noise-free once it attains a height of 500 metres above ground level. This will help it avoid detection.

The ceiling for this flying machine will be 1,000 metres above ground level. It will have a cruise speed of about 40 knots or over 70 kmph.

Indian armed forces are at present using about 100 Searcher-II and 60 Heron UAVs, both from the Israeli stable.

India is also in the process of developing indigenous UAVs such as Nishant and Rustom.
Will India-Burma cooperation neutralise Northeast militants?
The 46th India-Burma border liaison meeting was held at Leimakhong near Imphal, where a mountain division of the Indian Army is headquartered, on August 22. This meeting, which came reportedly in the wake of Burma’s assurance of pushing out Northeast rebel — terrorist groups from its soil and the subsequent vigilant measures being taken up along the porous India-Burma boundary by the Indian security forces in the tribal-dominated Chandel, Ukhrul and Churacha-ndpur districts. During this visit, Burmese officials also visited Kolkata and Gaya.
Of the four Indian states, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, which share 1,643 km of land border with Burma, the first two are plagued by insurgent-turned-terrorist groups, who have been getting shelter and support from the Burma Army.
At least eight groups of Manipur and Nagaland, including the so-called “anti-talks faction” of United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) have had bases in Burma for many decades. When the pro-Pakistan Bangladesh Nationalist Party came to power in Bangladesh, Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) presence in that country was substantially increased. When the Indian Army was called to deal with the menace of United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) in Assam in end November 1990, its top leadership under Paresh Baruah escaped to Bangladesh giving the ISI there the golden opportunity to enter Assam and other parts of the Northeast.
Following Awami Leagues massive electoral victory in December 2008, its government, led by Sheikh Hasina, began a crackdown on Northeast militants, many of them returned to take shelter in the jungles and hills of Burma. From these areas in Burma, Ulfa has been making trips to China, which has been providing it support and weapons for them and for supplying to Left Wing Extremists (LWEs)/Naxal-Maoists.
In 1988, India decided to stop openly supporting the Burmese democracy movement and began negotiating for bilateral cooperation with the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC)/ military junta. The junta always had a long wish-list of military hardware from India with a quid pro quo of putting pressure or chasing out leaders and elements of these groups.
With a view to garnering support from the Burma Army in dealing with the menace of insurgency and to counter-balance the Chinese influence in Burma, India began engaging the military junta quite extensively since 2006.
In 2001, India’s Border Roads Organisation constructed a 160 km-long road from Tamu to Kalewa which reduced the travelling time from about 11 to 3 hours. According to a December 30, 2006 report of India Defence Premium, during a visit to Burma in November 2006, former Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal Tyagi, offered a multi-million dollar sale of military hardware to Naypyidaw (military junta’s new name for Yangon). The package included helicopters, technical upgrades of Burma-Russian and Chinese made fighter planes, naval surveillance aircraft and radar manufactured by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited. The visit of Gen. Shwe Mann, the junta’s joint chief of staff, in December was expected to expand the arms sales talks. Prior to ACM Tyagi’s visit, former Indian Army Chief Gen. J.J. Singh had offered to provide training in counter-insurgency campaigns for Burmese Special Forces.
President of Burma U Thein Sein, who assumed office heading the new civilian government after general elections on March 30 2011, came on a state visit to India six months later.
The President, accompanied by his spouse Daw Khin Khin Win, headed a high-level delegation of 10 ministers and the Chief of General Staff. External affairs minister (EAM) S.M. Krishna called on Mr Sein prior to the delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, where some agreements were signed.
New Delhi felt it was time to further strengthen bilateral relations with Burma as an integral part of India’s Look East Policy. Connectivity through Burma can boost economic development for India’s north-eastern region. Work is under way in establishing the Kaladan Multi Modal Transport Corridor to connect India’s eastern ports to Mizoram through the Sittwe Port in Burma. Thereafter, the corridor moves north via rivers and the roads.
Then came the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Burma after 25 years, during which liberal financial assistance to Burma was promised and 12 agreements were signed. Further, though the Burma Army signed a ceasefire pact with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Chapping faction (NSCN-K), the government of India objected to the same and the matter was reportedly corrected.
Admitting that a deadline of June 10 was given to separatist outfits holed up in Burma by its Army, security sources said that Burmese troops came close to the camps NSCN(K) and Peoples’ Liberation Front of Manipur but no action was taken. Informing that the elusive Ulfa chief Paresh Baruah was keeping a close watch over the development, security sources said that intercepts suggested that Ulfa was mounting pressure on its senior cadres.
Frequent arrest and recovery of explosives and failure of their subversive plan is believed to have created tension in the Ulfa. While the June deadline was recently extended to September, it remains to be seen whether it will be implemented and if so, to what extent, as the Burma Army and these groups have strong old linkages related to trafficking of arms and narcotics. The youth of Manipur and Nagaland have been victims of the scourge of heroin number 4, which comes from hubs like Sagaing in Burma.
The agreements mentioned for India-Burma bilateral cooperation, whenever implemented, will be a great boon for both Burma and India’s Northeastern states, but the decision makers in New Delhi and Napyidaw/Rangoon must be very clear that these projects can only succeed if militant groups-both of Burma and India’s Northeast enjoying sanctuary there are neutralised.
TN parties angry over MoD stand on Lankan personnel
Minister of state for defence Pallam Raju’s statement that India would continue to train Sri Lankan Army officers in the interests of friendly relations with the neighbouring country has triggered a new heat wave across TN with several political parties and social outfits condemning Delhi’s “insensitivity towards Tamil sentiments”.
Leading the attack, chief minister J. Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveying the Tamils’ outrage at the Centre continuing to host the Lankan defence personnel at the Indian military training establishments despite repeated objections from her and others in Tamil Nadu since the Lankan Army had killed thousands of innocent Tamils during the Eelam war.
“This betrays the total insensitivity on the part of the Government of India towards the views of my government as well as the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu,” she said.
Key UPA ally DMK on Tuesday accused the Centre of hurting the sentiments of Tamil Nadu as it took strong exception to Mr Raju’s comments.
“It can be construed that the Centre is hurting the sentiments of Tamil Nadu and its people by this reply (of Raju),” DMK chief M Karunanidhi said in a statement.

Army asked to seize illegal arms
Guwahati, Aug. 28

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi here on Tuesday warned the armed rebel groups, including those in ceasefire mode, to restrain from indulging in violence in Bodoland Territorial Council.
Threatening to take stern steps against the rebel groups engaged in peace-talks and found to have been indulging in violence, Mr Gogoi told reporters, “The Army, which was called for maintaining law and order in BTC, has now been given power to seize illegal arms and exuded confidence that results would soon be visible.” He, however, refused to elaborate it saying, “You will see the results soon.”
Bogged down by sporadic incident of violence, Mr Gogoi also accused the BJP and AIUDF of making provocative statements.
Appealing the students and political parties to refrain from calling bandh in larger interest of the state, Mr Gogoi said, “I am not happy about the way in which BJP and All India United Democratic Front (AIDUF) and some other outfits are conducting themselves. I appeal to them not to make any more provocative statements.”
Referring bandh calls by Bajrang Dal on Monday and All Assam Minority Students Union on Tuesday, Mr Gogoi said, “This is not a time to call bandhs. Instead of restoring harmony, bandhs only increase the temper and also affect the economy. I urge all parties and outfits to refrain from calling bandhs.”
Admitting that primary responsibility is of the government to stop the violence, Mr Gogoi said, “A chief minister alone can not stop the violence unless civil society and political parties help him in containing the situation.”
Indian army facing breakdown in ranks
The Indian army is grappling with growing concerns a failure of leadership and a drop in the quality of officer recruits is behind a breakdown of discipline among key combat units.

In the last three months, Army Chief General Bikram Singh has been quietly visiting army bases across the country, emphasising to India's 1 million-strong army the core values of a disciplined army and a renewed stress on officer-soldier relations.

It follows three major incidents of troop discipline in the past eight month, all related to combat units.

Founder of the Defence Planning Staff, Major General Ashok Mehta, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program, the issues relate to the relationship between officers and soldiers.

"The visible manifestation of the problem might be not granting leave or otherwise," he said.

"[However], the basic issue that comes out of any cases of collective indiscipline reflect the fact that the officer-man management - those relations have snapped."

Earlier this month, there were reports of a stand-off between officers and men from 16 Cavalry located at Samba in Jammu and Kashmir, close to the border with Pakistan.

In early May, there was a huge brawl at Nyoma, close to the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, when troops from an artillery unit clashed with officers, resulting in several hospitalisations from serious injuries.

Army Headquarters described the clash - the worst of its kind since some units mutinied in 1984 - as "an incident of indiscipline," not a mutiny.

There was yet another skirmish prior to this.

Lieutenant General R.K. Sawhney, a former deputy army chief, says the clashes do not point to a complete breakdown of discipline.

"The three cases have found out to be ultimately because of command failure, actually," he said.

"That is being looked into, but this is not very alarming. Sure it is a pointer that the army has to be conscious about, but I won't say discipline has broken down."

Strategic analyst Saurabh Joshi says much of the current concerns about discipline are due to the changed nature of both combat and the soldiers themselves, creating a more stressful environment.

"Troops are more educated, they are more connected, they are more aware," he said

"This is not the Indian army of 20 years back - the leadership of the army must recognize that and deal with that course correction because I fear this could happen again."

"More problematically, the issue is that these incidents are not taking place in a peace station. They are taking place in sensitive locations - those deployments are very important."
Arjun Mk-2 Indian Army tank unveiled
An Arjun MBT being test driven on the bump tra...

An Arjun MBT being test driven on the bump track at the Central Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), at Avadi, Chennai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The DRDO Defence Research and Development Organisation of India has announced that The trials started on Friday last and will continue for the next two months. The ongoing trials will mainly focus on 19 parametres. The Arjun Mk-2 is an improved and more capable upgrade over the Mk-1, an estimate of the cost of the tank is about 6.6 million U.S. dollars, which makes it one of the tanks more expensive of the world.
The Arjun Mark II will have a total of 93 upgrades, including 13 major improvements starting with a full frontal Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) and an enhanced Auxiliary power unit providing 8.5 KW and not last an improved gun barrel with new advanced electronics.


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