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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 14 Aug 2012
India, Pakistan mull meeting of RAW, ISI chiefs
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

Pakistan and India are taking into consideration a proposal to bring their intelligence chiefs on the same table amid a series of confidence-building measures to foster goodwill between the neighbours.

The proposal is part of numerous mechanisms being explored to reduce trust deficit between the nuclear-armed neighbours, official sources said.

According to Express Tribune, the US was instrumental in persuading Islamabad and New Delhi to discuss the possibility of a meeting between the heads of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The proposal, if materialised, could mark the beginning of a new phase in the relationship between the two countries.

Relationship between the two countries has shown significant improvement in recent months. However, a breakthrough on the most contentious issues is still awaited. Hopes are running high with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expected to travel to Pakistan later this year.

A Pakistani official confirmed that several proposals, including regular interaction between the security agencies of the two countries, were on the table.

“But it is too early to say anything at this stage,” the official added, referring to the probability of face-to-face talks between ISI and RAW chiefs.

When approached, a security official, however, expressed ignorance about the development. “We are not privy to any such proposal,” the official added.

In the past, efforts to bring spymasters of the two countries on the same table have not succeeded. Following the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, the government announced that the ISI chief would visit India to help authorities in investigations. However, the trip had to be cancelled after a strong reaction from the country’s security establishment.
PoK integral part of India: Antony

New Delhi, August 13
India today termed its military deployment on Siachen Glacier as an “adequate safeguard” to ensure the integrity of its territorial borders. Congress MP from Ludhiana, Manish Tewari, had questioned the Government, asking it about the “official position on demilitarisation of Siachen Glacier”.

Defence Minister AK Antony said in a written reply, “The issue of illegal and forcible occupation of areas in Jammu and Kashmir by the neighbouring nation remains to be resolved.” A part of the territory of the state (J&K) is under illegal and forcible occupation of Pakistan. The issue that remains to be resolved in J&K is the vacation by Pakistan of the area under its illegal occupation… the area of Siachen Glacier is an integral part of India.”

Antony said, “The Indian standpoint considers Siachen holistically and it is based upon principled and consistent positions…. and ensures that adequate safeguards are in place to ensure the integrity of our territorial borders.” India, Antony said, remains committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan bilaterally and peacefully in accordance with Simla Agreement (1972) and Lahore Declaration (1999).

aft bill in house

    The Armed Forces Tribunal (amendment) Bill 2012 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Monday
    It proposes to confer powers of civil contempt to the Tribunal
    The Act in its present form does not contain any provision for execution of the orders finally passed by the Tribunal
    The Armed Forces Tribunal Act was enacted in 2007 to provide for adjudication of disputes and complaints in respect of persons subject to Army Act, 1950, Navy Act, 1957 and Air Force Act, 1950
Defence offsets cross Rs 25,000 cr bigger contracts loom
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi Aug 14, 2012, 00:30 IST

Minister of State for Defence, M M Pallam Raju, told Parliament on Monday that Indian companies had signed 19 offset contracts with foreign vendors since the offset policy came into effect in September 2005. Indian Air Force (IAF) procurements have generated 80 per cent of all offsets, with naval procurements accounting for the other 20 per cent. Army procurement have yielded no offsets so far.

Business Standard has calculated, from MoD figures released over time, that the total value of these offsets has just crossed the Rs 25,000 crore mark. Starting from a modest offset contract worth $5.4 million (Rs 30 crore), linked to the procurement of Medium Power Radars (MPRs) from Israel in 2007, offsets have accelerated sharply, particularly over the last two years. In 2011 and 2012, offset contracts worth $2.2 billion (Rs 12,350 crore) were signed.
The most recent signing was a $150 million (Rs 830 crore) offset contract this summer with Swiss aircraft builder, Pilatus. This was linked with Pilatus’ contract to supply the IAF with 75 trainer aircraft.

Scheme           Date of signing            Offset ($mn)
Mig-29 Upgrade          Mar 07,’08       308
Mi-17 V-5 Helicopters(MLH)    Dec 15,’08       405
P-8I maritime aircraft   Jan 01,’09        641
C-130 J-30      Mar 06,’09       219
AW-101 VVIP Helicopter          Feb 08,’10       224
C-17 Aircraft    Jun 14,’11        1092
Mirage-2000 Upgrade             Jul 29,’11         593
MICA Missile for Mirage-2000             Jan 31,’12        386

The defence offset policy requires international arms vendors who win contracts worth Rs 300 crore or more to plough back at least 30 per cent of the contract value into India in the form of defence orders, technology or infrastructure. Offsets were first made mandatory in the Defence Procurement Policy of 2005 (DPP-2005) and then revised periodically, most recently on August 1.

The biggest offset contract signed so far has been with The Boeing Company, a massive $1092 million (Rs 6,050 crore) contract, linked with the purchase of C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft for the IAF. Close on its heels are the $979 million (Rs 5425 crore) offsets linked with the upgrade of Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft. This includes a $592 million (Rs 3,280 crore) offset contract with Thales for the aircraft upgradation; and a $386 million (Rs 2,140 crore) offset contract with MBDA for new missiles for the Mirage 2000.

Looming ahead is the mother of all offset contracts. French aerospace major, Dassault, and its major sub-vendors like Thales, will be liable for offsets worth 50% of the value of the contract to supply 126 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) to the IAF. With the Rafale contract conservatively expected to be worth some Rs 75,000 crore, it would generate another Rs 37,500 crore in offsets.
CBI probing charges against defence firm in Tatra deal: Antony
Bribery allegations were made by General V K Singh against a defence firm that allegedly 'push a tranche of trucks'
Press Trust of India / New Delhi Aug 13, 2012, 15:42 IST

The CBI has registered a preliminary enquiry to ensure comprehensive investigation of a case where bribery allegations were made by former Army Chief General V K Singh against a defence firm to push a tranche of truck.

"One such case has been ordered to enquire into alleged irregularities in purchase of Tatra trucks. CBI has been requested to investigate comprehensively into the charge of bribe to the Chief of Army Staff," Defence Minister A K Antony today told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
Preliminary enquiry is a probe of limited scope undertaken to verify whether or not an allegation merits further inquiry as a full investigation.

Antony said whenever any irregularities in defence deals come to the notice of the government, appropriate action is initiated expeditiously.

Replying to a question on providing specialised clothings to soldiers, the defence minister said, "Special clothing and mountaineering equipments are authorised to army personnel deployed in super high altitudes like Siachen/Kargil. Of the 55 items, 36 items are being procured indigenously and only 19 are being imported."

In order to streamline the procedure, an Empowered Committee is in existence under the chairman of Master General of Ordnance of army headquarters with full powers of competent financial authority, he said.

To avoid shortage, sufficient quantities of these items are kept as reserve and the improvement in their quality and indigenous resources for these items is a continuous process, Antony said.
Gen promises ‘revealing’ memoir
NEW DELHI: Former Army chief Gen V K Singh has decided to write a "revealing, compelling and occasionally controversial autobiography", in what could raise the hackles of many in the Army and the defence establishment.

Aleph Book Company, the publisher of the memoir of the ex-Army chief, who retired on May 21 after losing a protracted legal battle over his retirement age and sees himself as the victim of a conspiracy, said, "The book provides insights into the inner workings of the Army at various levels and its equation with the political establishment and the bureaucracy. Gen Singh's autobiography is... the story of a straight-talking officer who was never afraid to stand by his convictions."

The announcement comes at a time when Gen Singh appears to be seeking a public role for himself by making appearances at anti-graft rallies of Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev as well as in protests against nuclear power plant in his home state Haryana. The autobiography may well coincide with the ex-Army chief's political debut, although it is not clear if Singh will formally join a political party.

To be released in September 2013, the book will be co-authored by Kunal Verma, who wrote a three-part trilogy on the northeast and has directed many documentaries on the military.
Defence ministry audit questions DRDO functioning
An internal audit report ordered by the defence ministry has raised questions over the functioning of the DRDO and the grant of Rs 2.8 crore by its chief V K Saraswat to a society under him.

The report prepared by the Finance wing of the defence ministry has raised several issues in its review and the transparency of the research agency with a budget of over Rs 5,000 crore, defence sources said.

The report has questioned the grant of Rs 2.8 crore by Saraswat to a mathematical society The report has also pointed out that to avoid seeking approvals from the competent financial authorities, the DRDO was splitting the sanctions for its projects, they said.

It has also cited shortcomings in the products developed by the DRDO such as the Arjun tank, which has been found to be overweight by the Army for operations in certain areas along the border.

However, the DRDO said the issues raised in the report "are essentially in the nature of preliminary observations" and it was "vitiated by a faulty audit process".

"Such preliminary observations are required to be formally issued and replies to the same should be sought prior to compilation of any report. Only if the replies are not satisfactory is the next step of making a preliminary report taken.

"In the extant case, the laid down procedure was not followed and to that extent, the process of audit stands vitiated. Thus, even before seeking replies of DRDO, presumption and baseless conclusions appear to have been arrived at," DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta said.
Army sends flood relief team to MP
ALLAHABAD: The Red Eagle Division of the Army has rushed a rescue and relief team to the flood-affected areas of Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh on the request of civil administration. Civil authorities had requested Army assistance as inclement weather and release of water from Tawa dam has left hundreds of people marooned in the area.

Defence PRO, Allahabad, Group Captain Amit Mahajan said a 125-men column led by five officers and troops of Red Eagle Division has been sent to flood-hit areas. The rescue and relief column comprised troops of engineer regiment well trained in swimming and carrying out rescue and relief tasks in flood affected areas along with requisite equipment, medical team and other support elements of army. The column is fully equipped with boats, life jackets, medicines, emergency lights, generators etc.

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