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Monday, 13 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 13 Aug 2012
Lankan Navymen threaten TN fishermen

Rameswaram (TN), August 12
Windowpanes of a boat, part of 78 others which had put out to sea from this coastal town, were damaged in an attack allegedly by Sri Lankan naval personnel, fisheries department sources said. They also took away the fish catch from 10 boats.

Sri Lankan naval personnel allegedly threw beer bottles and stones at the boat last night, damaging the windowpanes. Later, they surrounded the boats and threatened the fishermen to leave the area, sources said.

Meanwhile, about 11 organisations of fishers did not put out to sea for the fifth consecutive day, demanding release of five fishermen arrested by the Lankan Navy in November 2011. Fishermen's Association president Arulanandam said a Sri Lankan court had on August 7 released four fishermen, arrested by the Lankan Navy three months ago on charges of smuggling snuff, after ordering them to pay Rs 1.05 lakh as fine and impounded their boats. — PTI
Pak objects to India's move to fill Nimoo-Bazgo dam in J&K
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

Pakistan has objected to India's move to fill the Nimoo-Bazgo dam in Jammu and Kashmir, claiming that it could cut off Islamabad's share of water from the Indus.

India had informed the Pakistan Government that the dam had been completed and was going to be filled. "We have asked India not to fill the dam as it is a disputed and controversial project," an unnamed senior official of the Ministry of Water and Power was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

The hydroelectric project with a capacity of 45 MW has been built near Alchi village in Leh district. An inquiry was earlier conducted by the Water and Power Development Authority Secretary Muhammad Imtiaz Tajwar regarding the project. The report blamed former Indus Water commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah for delaying the issue and losing the opportunity to take up the matter with a neutral expert or Court of Arbitration.

Jamaat Ali Shah rubbished the allegations of not taking timely action, saying he had rejected India's claims that the Nimoo-Bazgo dam would not harm Pakistan.

In 2002, Pakistan requested India to provide details of the project. Pakistan claims India did not respond till December 2006 despite reminders.

Legal battles between Pakistan and India over water rights have emerged as a key irritant in bilateral relations. India built the Baglihar Dam with a capacity of 450MW on the Chenab after a neutral expert ruled in its favour.

A court of arbitration, however, stopped India from constructing a permanent structure for the Kishanganga dam in a short-term order.

(With PTI inputs)

Water War

    The Nimoo-Bazgo dam is being built by India on the Indus river at Alchi village, 70 km from Leh
    Pak claims filling the dam could cut off Islamabad's share of Indus water
    It has asked India not to fill the dam as it is a disputed and controversial project
Money spent by Army on NE pictorial trilogy under scrutiny
A three-volume work on the Northeast published by the Indian Army last year is under scrutiny over the money spent on the exercise. In reply to an RTI application by The Indian Express, the Army revealed that the pictorial volumes had cost it Rs 93.15 lakh, possibly the highest ever amount spent on a publication project by it.

Author Kunal Verma, however, pointed fingers at the change of guard from General V K Singh to General Bikram Singh, saying "Phase Two" of his project had been put on the backburner since the former Army chief demitted office on May 31. Verma's father, Maj Gen (retd) A K Verma, was among those who filed a PIL in the Supreme Court against Bikram Singh's appointment along with retired Navy Chief L Ramdas, former IAS officer M G Devasahayam and four others.

Under Phase Two, the trilogy would have been translated into major vernacular languages and distributed in schools throughout the country. The estimated cost of publishing 10,000 sets for each state: Rs 30 crore.

Officials in the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the money spent on the publication was currently under "scrutiny". In addition, the RTI reply stated, the Army spent approximately Rs 50,000 on each of the six functions held to release the book, while Verma was paid approximately Rs 25,000 to attend each of them.

V K Singh had attended three of these functions, including on January 15 in New Delhi on Army Day and in Kolkata on May 19, a few days before his retirement.

In the RTI reply, the Army said the volumes "have been published under arrangements of the Indian Army to promote the Northeastern region". "The Indian Army periodically undertakes publication of books and miscellaneous literature for strategic and national security purposes and for consumption of internal environment — the details of which are exempted from disclosure under RTI."

Questioned about the money spent on his project, Verma (the volumes were co-authored by his wife Dipthi Bhalla) said it was hardly exorbitant given the "scope". Of the over Rs 90 lakh, he said, Rs 57 lakh was paid to the printing press for 6,000 sets of the volumes, and he and his wife had spent almost three years working on them.

According to Verma, the funds, in all probability, came from the "perception management" funds of Military Intelligence.

He added that the proposal discussed with V K Singh (when he was posted as Eastern Army Commander in Kolkata) also conceived a "Phase Three" — including an exposition and exhibition on the Northeast in several cities and a few foreign countries.

Claiming there had been complete silence from the Army the past few months, Verma said: "I am happy I achieved Phase One and that the trilogy was published by the Army. Now the ball is in the court of the new Army Chief. I feel if they do not move on the original plan of bringing out vernacular editions, the money spent on Phase One will all be wasted."
Understanding India: an Indian opposition viewpoint
r. Subramanian Swamy, President of India's Janata Party, was a foreign speaker whose comments were awaited with much interest at the three-day Defence Seminar organised by the Sri Lanka Army and held at the Galadari Hotel this week.
An academic and an economist, Dr. Swamy is known for his outspoken manner and has been a controversial figure in Indian politics.

He came into the local news spotlight in Sri Lanka earlier this year when the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution against Sri Lanka relating to alleged human rights violations during the latter stages of the war. The opposition Indian politician expressed views vehemently against the US-sponsored resolution both before and after its adoption, arguing that it went against India's own interests.

"It's a monumental blunder. India has shown that we don't care for our backyard. We became a junior partner and destroyed our independence," he was quoted as saying to CNN-IBN, in the Indian Express.

India's unexpected abandoning of its small neighbour at a major international forum, by voting in favour of the resolution, left many in government circles feeling let down. At a more general level, it has led to a sense of popular resentment against India.

Asked for his views on these developments, in an interview on the sidelines of the Defence Seminar in Colombo, Dr. Swamy lashed out at India's Congress Party and the Gandhis.

"Sonia Gandhi has a deferential attitude towards European interests. Europeans have a habit of poking their noses in (the affairs of) other countries," he said. Mentioning in particular Norway, he noted that these powers had "no world role" any more, adding that "Sri Lanka should ignore them."

India's UPA coalition government is dominated by Sonia Gandhi, who has certain 'long term interests' Swamy said. Gandhi was not in favour of the ban on the LTTE, and opposed capital punishment for the LTTE operatives convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, he claimed. Such a stance had not been adopted in other cases.

It would be relevant to mention here that the Janata Party that Dr. Swamy leads, traces its origins to a coalition formed in the 1970s to oppose Emergency Rule by the Congress-led government of Indira Gandhi at the time. This diverse coalition became the first non-Congress government in India's history for a brief spell (1977-1979). The Janata Party is today one of many coalition partners in the centre-right 'National Democratic Alliance' led by the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) that will challenge Congress at India's next parliamentary election in 2014. Dr. Swamy predicts a change of government then.

Asked for his explanation of India's stance on the UNHRC resolution, and questioned on the role of Tamil Nadu coalition partners who pressured the central government to support it, Dr. Swamy was dismissive. "It's a media problem," he said, alleging that certain Tamil Nadu political parties were getting money from the LTTE in London and Paris.
The written text of Dr. Swamy's presentation at the conference was longer and more detailed than his conference speech. In it he asserted that the majority of people in Tamil Nadu rejected the LTTE, and also that the 'overwhelming majority of the Indian people' disapproved of the Indian Government decision to support the US sponsored resolution. He wrote:

"The war conducted by the Sri Lankan armed forces against a sinister terrorist organisation, had also by the sensationalised propaganda of international interlopers and busy bodies, more or less become polarised into a conflict between the Sinhala and Tamil communities which unfortunately was abetted by the political miscalculations of some shortsighted leaders of the two communities over the last three decades.

"The LTTE in fact had wanted that polarisation, and Tamil leadership fell into the quicksand created by it. They were egged on across the Palk Strait by selfish leaders in Tamil Nadu, many of whom were being financed by the LTTE.
"As an Indian and a Tamil, let me say at this point that the overwhelming proportion of the people of Tamil Nadu had rejected the LTTE whenever they were made to make a call."

"The Sinhalese are our brothers" Dr. Swamy says. In the context of the ongoing reconciliation process he says India can't be 'selective' about whom to support. He suggests that while India expresses concerns about Sri LankanTamil grievances, it needs to show concern for the Sinhalese as well.

Addressing the seminar on Friday Dr. Swamy also made reference to the international conference of the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation (TESO) that DMK leader M. Karunanidhi planned to open in Chennai today (Sunday), as part of his campaign for Eelam in Sri Lanka.

He said the Prime Minister had that day written to Karunanidhi warning that if the word 'Eelam' is mentioned, the conference will be banned. "So India is becoming normal�" he remarked. The Hindu reported that day that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs had written to the TESO to say the conference may be held "with the proviso that 'Eelam' may be dropped from the title."

Latest reports in the Indian media say that police in Chennai have denied permission to hold the meet.
"The police have cited eleven reasons for denying permission including lack of adequate space at the venue, including disturbance to the Royapettah Government Hospital nearby, traffic congestion and a possible law and order situation," NDTV reported. Reports also indicate that the Indian missions have denied visas to several foreign invitees to the conference.

Asked during the interview if Indian foreign policy was growing increasingly in sync with US policy in the region, Dr. Swamy responded that Prime Minister Singh is 'deferential' towards the US. "We like the US as a democratic country. But we want good relations with China too."

Questions still hang in the air as to the trajectory of India's policy towards Sri Lanka. In the light of recent Indian behaviour on the international stage, a degree of confusion prevails.

Dr. Swamy said, "Sri Lanka is our neighbour. We are cultural siblings. We have our own policy (towards Sri Lanka). Perhaps the US itself is re-thinking whether it did the right thing�"

Ending on a cryptic note, he said "Just chase the money trail of the LTTE � find out who is getting it!"
Armed forces' grievances need urgent attention
The suicide of a soldier, V. Arun, from Kerala in Jammu and Kashmir was raised in parliament. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged MPs not to have a discussion. "This is a very small incident, which is being blown out of proportion. It is not good for the morale of our armed forces."

While his statement was clinical and accurate, the choice of words may not have been politically the most appropriate -- no death of a citizen can be dismissed as "small" by the leader of a democratic country.

One presumes the prime minister was not keen on an open discussion on the subject since it pertains to an in-house matter - discipline within a military unit - that falls within the organizational purview of the Indian Army.

For a one million strong army, this suicide, while tragic in a relatively minor empirical occurrence, an in-house inquiry into the internal cohesion and professionalism is imperative.

From the ignominy of the ketchup colonel, the booze briagdier and the 'dal' general and more recently the Sukhna and Adarsh real estate scandals, the Indian Army has been convulsed with varied transgressions and a lowering of its ethical and professional standards.

In 2012, there were two cases of serious breakdown in officer-soldier relations in units tasked with low-intensity-conflict duties. The recent suicide is indicative of the internal stress and tension the Indian Army has to address.

These are matters the army needs to review in an objective and candid way. There may be a case for an independent commission to empathetically review as to what ails the Indian Army.

The status accorded to the military varies from country to country and is a complex derivative of the history of the nation, its political character and the manner in which valour is perceived.

In authoritarian regimes, the military has a special status. In Pakistan, it has subsumed the state for decades.

Democracies have a more complex relationship with their military. The soldier and the patriotism and gallantry inherent in the profession is recognized by the state and society. In India, the military has a curious and ambivalent status apropos the state structure and society at large.

Since 1947, the Indian military as an institution has been kept outside of the formal structure of the state due to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's distaste for the profession of arms. Successive prime ministers kept the military aloof. Consequently the 'fauj' occupies a twilight zone, where it is neither fish nor fowl.

While the elected political representative aree the new ruler in India, the civilian bureaucracy have become astute mediators of the pursuit and consolidation of power and status in the world's largest democracy.

The progressive denigration of the armed forces by the state and society has led to a steady erosion of military morale - a danger the prime minister alluded to in parliament. The apathy of the Indian state is best illustrated by the manner in which the Manmohan Singh government has dealt with pay and allowances for the soldiers.

An objective review of the manner in which the pay, allowances and status of the military have been lowered over the last two decades reveals some startling facts. The military is the outcaste in the Indian state matrix, but lacks a Gandhi or an Ambedkar to take up their cause.

The average 'fauji' retires at a much younger age than the civilian counterpart who serves up to age 60. An empathetic state would have ensured that the inter se fixing of pay, allowances and pension would be equitable. Alas, this is not the case. Many anomalies abound.

Pay commissions do not have a military representative. Review committees have the same pattern. The military remains invisible and their grievances ignored.

Things have come to such a pass that the three serving chiefs have expressed their dismay over how pay and pensions for serving and retired military personnel are being addressed.

Minister A.K. Antony in turn has cautioned the prime minister that if not redressed, this issue could take "a bad turn".

The UPA had a rare opportunity to address and redress the long festering inequities regarding the military and the larger issue of rewiring the security establishment. But Manmohan Singh and his cabinet chose not to pick up the gauntlet - till the last lap of UPA II when the Naresh Chandra Task Force was set up to review the post Kargil security sector reforms.

Manmohan Singh's Aug 15 address will be closely monitored for the policy initiatives he will hopefully unveil to assuage the bruised morale of the military - and avoid the 'bad turn' which otherwise seems inevitable.
Former Army chief Gen VK Singh joins Ramdev's protest, calls government 'property dealer'
NEW DELHI: After sharing dais with Anna Hazare, former Army chief VK Singh today joined yoga guru Ramdev's protest here, dubbing the government as a "property dealer" which takes over farmers' land in the name of development.

Singh participation in the protests came two months after he retired from service during which he had taken on the government on his age issue.

Earlier this month, Singh had appeared at Jantar Mantar here on the last day of Hazare's fast. He was also one of the signatories to an appeal to Hazare asking him call off his fast and work towards a political alternative.

Addressing the gathering at Ramdev's protest here this afternoon on black money and Lokpal issue, he claimed that over two lakh farmers had committed suicide since 1995 and accused the government of taking over their land in the name of development.

"Problems of farmers will have to be taken to the forefront of this movement ... The government is taking land from farmers in the name of development. The government is working as a property dealer," he said addressing the crowd which was predominantly from the rural areas.

The former Army chief alleged that a scam was being reported everyday and value of each scam was higher than the previous one. "What we want is complete all round development. Money shouldn't be distributed among just 4-5 per cent of the people only," he said.

Noting that there was a need to stand firm in the agitation, he said if corruption is not stopped, one has nowhere to go and emphasized the need for "some tough action".

Criticizing the policies adopted by the government, he said it is government's duty to work for welfare of people.

"But after liberalization, you can get a pizza within half-an-hour but you won't get an ambulance in more than two hours. You can get a bottle of water in Rs 15 but you won't get clean drinking water from the tap," he said.

"Only 5-7 per cent of the population is benefited. Rest are left behind. Whatever money comes, it is held by 4-5 per cent," he said.

Indian Army gets battle-ready on Jaisalmer border

Jaipur: Jaisalmer is set to house the first "model modern military station" of the country with reduced response time to emergencies, battle-ready capabilities in modern warfare and a set up critical to the supply chain for army rationing.

According to highly placed sources, the Indian Army has decided to develop a modern army base in the border district to cut down on the response time to an emergency, including a reduction in travel time in case of a disturbance along the border. It's proximity to the international border of India and Pakistan has got the army to reap the benefits of this strategic location for securing the nation against any foreign aggression in future.

At present, the army base at Jodhpur is trained to respond to a situation across the border, but to expedite heavy military movement, a station close to the border is being put up, sources said. The distance from Jodhpur to the border is around 300 km. Having a base at Jaisalmer would save at least 6-7 hours for the troops. "In case of disturbance or war-like situation, when every minute counts, such a response time can turn the situation around," a reliably placed official said, adding, "Because of its location Jaisalmer is being developed as a defence hub; the defence department has identified some places where the latest technology would be installed as a tactical ploy in modern warfare; Jaisalmer is one of them."
However, the officer refused to divulge details about the facility that is being installed in Jaisalmer.

A senior administrative official in Jaisalmer said, "Several units have already moved from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer. And the scale of the activities clearly indicates that Indian Army has big plans for Jaisalmer." The officer also said that the availability of land for setting up an enterprise of such scale facilitated the development of the station in Jaisalmer. "In other border districts availability of land was an issue," the officer said.

Lt Gen Philip Campose, GOC Desert Corps, who was on official visit to Jodhpur recently, confirmed the development and said, "Jaisalmer would be an example for other military stations of the country." Without going into the details Campose said modernisation of Indian Army is a top  Turn topriority just like other developed countries have done for strengthening their forces. A unique feature of the upcoming military base at Jaisalmer is that it would be a residential-cum-operational establishment.

In addition, a unique and modernised perishable store shed has been set up in Jaisalmer to ensure that there is no quality deterioration in fresh rations along the supply chain and that the rations reach troops in farm-fresh state.
CBI may book Abhishek Verma under Secrets Act
The CBI is set to lodge a fresh case against suspected arms dealer Abhishek Verma under the Official Secrets Act for alleged possession of classified defence documents.

The documents are related to arms procurement plans for the Indian army. Verma's former business associate, C Edmonds
Allen, had submitted the set of documents to the CBI.

"The CBI had forwarded the documents to the ministry of defence to verify their authenticity. It has been confirmed that they were indeed secret papers," said a CBI officer. "We will soon lodge a case under the Official Secrets Act against Verma and a few others who helped him get the papers," he added.

Since June, the CBI had booked Verma in two corruption cases. The first is a bribery charge. Verma allegedly accepted bribes to influence public servants to get a Swiss arms manufacturing firm off the government blacklist. The second relates to fabrication of government documents.

Lawyer Vijay Aggarwal, who represents Verma, told HT, "There is no proof that any document originated from my client".

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