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Sunday, 19 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 19 Aug 2012
Most N-E rumours sourced from Pak, says Home Secy

New Delhi, August 18
The bulk of the rumours that triggered panic among the people of the northeastern states in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were sourced from Pakistan, Union Home Secretary R K Singh said today.

"A total of 76 websites were identified where morphed images were uploaded and bulk of these were uploaded in Pakistan," Singh told PTI.

"Morphed images and photographs of people who had died in cyclones and earthquakes were circulated as victims of violence in Myanmar in 76 websites. All these websites have been blocked. As many as 34 more sites were identified and they will also be blocked soon," he said.

"We believe it is highly reprehensible. I think it needs to be made known to everybody that this is something that is being done from Pakistan. The bulk of it has been done from Pakistan," he said.

"We will raise this issue with Pakistan. I am certain they will refute it but our technical team of experts is certain about the origin," Home Secretary said. As a step towards rumours being spread, the government had on Friday imposed a 15-day ban on bulk SMSes. Karnataka and Assam police are looking for some people who were responsible for circulating SMSes, he said, adding that no linkages have been found between those arrested and any known terrorist group. — PTI
India, Russia to ink contract for fifth-generation fighter
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, August 18
India and Russia will ink a formal $11 billion contract for joint research and development project of the next generation of fighter aircraft. The first prototype will be available for flight-testing at Nashik airbase in Maharashtra from 2014 onwards.

Indian Air Force intends to order some six squadrons - approximately 120 - in the first lot and will follow up with more. It will be the IAF’s frontline fighter in the next decade. This stealth warplane, so far known by its acronym FGFA - Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft - will have advanced features such as super-cruise, ultra-manoeuvrability, highly integrated avionics suite, enhanced situational awareness, internal carriage of weapons and Network Centric Warfare capabilities.

India’s share in the cost of R&D will be some $5.5 billion. The contract is expected to signed by the end of this year, well-placed sources said, while confirming that copies of the draft agreement have been exchanged. India wants some additions like banning of the sale of the plane to other countries.

Once done, it will be the second fifth-generation plane after the US-produced F-22 Raptor. Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting India in November and his visit could see the historic signing.

This is the first time that India is developing one of the latest warplanes with any country. The R&D will include development, certification and transfer of technology.

The preliminary design phase of the plane is complete. A joint team of the Indian Air Force and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will visit Russia in two weeks from now to check documentation of the preliminary design which jointly cost $295 million and was started in December 2010 with an 18-month deadline.

Once the R&D contract is signed, FGFA prototypes will be available in India in 2014, flight-tested by Indian pilots and monitored by Indian engineers. Two more prototypes will follow in 2017 and 2019; the last will be the final version on which the FGFA will be based. Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne had visited Russia from August 9 to 12 and had also visited the FGFA facility at Zhukovsky airfield, 40 km south-east of Moscow. The R&D will be done by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russian firms Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi.
Deficient by 25%, SSB to raise 16 new battalions
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, August 18
In the backdrop of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), a border guarding force, being deficient in manpower by 25 per cent, as many as 16 new battalions are being raised over the next four years.

The SSB, a Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), has an authorised manpower of 78,700 combatised personnel, but the current posted strength of the force is 58,570. It is also authorised a cadre of 2,675 civilian/non-combatised personnel, which has a posted strength of 2,590, according to the Home Ministry’s data.

The new battalions are being raised in a phased manner from this year onwards and the exercise is scheduled to continue till 2016. In addition to regular battalions, the SSB is also raising 32 new dog squads to assist in border patrolling and internal security duties. The force already has 41 dog squads.

Among the lesser known CAPFs, the SSB was raised as the Special Service Bureau in 1963 following the Indo-China conflict, then having the mandate to build up morale and capability in border regions against threats of subversion, infiltration and sabotage from across the border. In 2001, it was rechristened as the Sashastra Seema Bal and its revised charter including border guarding duties. It is currently responsible for management of the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders. The force, with 54 battalions, is divided into five frontiers and 11 sectors.

As part of is ongoing reorganisation, the SSB raised eight new battalions, two sector headquarters and one frontier during the last fiscal. Its other recent establishments include five animal transport units for the high-altitude areas, three recruit training centres and two horse riding training units.

Apart from manpower, the SSB is also getting better weapons, surveillance, communication and navigation equipment, personnel protective clothing, bullet proof vehicles and light armoured utility vehicles.

A few years ago, the MHA had approved a special three-year modernisation plan amounting to Rs 444 crore for the SSB, but there have been slippages in its implementation. Till March 2012, only about 68 per cent of this outlay could be utilised. While the force spent Rs 33 crore on modernisation in 2009-10, the figures came down to about Rs 7 crore in 2010-11 and Rs 11 crore in 2011-12.
Armyman on top of mobile tower for two days, refuses to come down
New Delhi: Adamant on his demand to speak to Defence Minister A K Antony, an Armyman who climbed a 200 foot high mobile tower in New Delhi alleging harassment refused to come down for the second day today.

K Muthu, who is attached with Engineers Regiment, climbed the tower at Ajmeri Gate at around 1 PM yesterday and refused to come down till late night despite appeals by the police and officers of the Army, a senior police official said.

The 35-year-old jawan in the Army told PTI over phone, "I want to meet the Defence Minister. I will come down only if I'm allowed to meet the minister."

Colleagues from his unit are taking turns to be with him atop the tower and trying to convince him. Hailing from Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu, Muthu has alleged he was transferred five times in five years.

He said, "This is not a problem faced by me alone. I'm presenting the problems faced by many jawans in Army."

On Friday, he had thrown a bunch of papers and in one of the letters, he demanded his discharge from service due to alleged harassment by seniors. In the letter, he has also requested the commanding officer to get his salary of the last eight months cleared.

Rubbishing the allegations levelled by the jawan, a senior army official said, "There is nothing like that. Muthu has taken more leaves than he has been sanctioned. In fact, he would be given a fair chance to present his case once he comes down."

Regarding the jawan's health, the official said, "Muthu is currently taking only liquids and has refused to have solid food. We have sent colleagues who were with him in his regiment but he is not cooperating with them also."
Controversy surrounds the death of Indian soldier in Firozpur
his week, the Indian Army was rocked by allegations that one of its soldiers, serving along the Indo-Pak border, was murdered, probably by his own colleagues.
Lance Naik Krishnappa Gowda was serving with the Army Services Corps in the Indian state of Punjab. The controversial revelation follows the suicide of another soldier last week, allegedly as a result of harassment by his superiors. Local army officers said that the police is currently investigating the case and those who are guilty will be punished severely, even if they are from the armed forces.

Earlier, the army officials had claimed that Gowda had died during an attack by the Pakistani soldiers. However, the local police personnel, who conducted an inquiry in to the incident, determined that he died as a result of stab wounds, inflicted from close range. Gowda hailed from the town of Beltangady in the state of Karnataka. Relatives of Gowda said that he had joined back to duty last month, after availing a one month leave period allotted to him for his marriage.

Last week, the suicide of one of the soldiers serving with the Indian Army in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir had rocked the defence establishment. Arun Vishwamohan Pillai committed suicide by shooting himself with the service gun issued to him, at his army base in Samba. He was attached to the 16th Light Cavalry Armoured Corps of the Indian Army, which is apparently notorious for incidents of bullying.

After the discovery of the suicide, more than 400 colleagues of the dead soldier surrounded the quarters of their officers and shouted slogans against them. Tensions rose further after the Indian Prime Minister, Man Mohan Singh described the suicide as a “minor incident”. After negotiations failed to resolve the standoff, two units of army were called in from the neighbouring military bases, to remove the agitating soldiers. This is the third major standoff occurring between the jawans and the officers in recent times. Similar standoffs were earlier reported from Nyoma and Gurdaspur.
Indian Army’s Growing Morale Problems
Rising incidents of violent face-offs between officers and soldiers in the Indian Army are becoming a cause for worry. The reasons relate to harsh service conditions, risk to life and limb, low pay, incompetent leadership and a culture of humiliation of enlisted men by their officers.

At least three incidents of violence have been reported in the recent past, prompting the defense minister, A.K Antony, and Army top brass to conduct brainstorming sessions to prevent such occurrences from turning into a wider trend. By one count, four times as many soldiers die by their own hand as those killed in combat. In the past 10 years, more than 1,000 soldiers have committed suicide, while another 73 have died of “fragging,” a Vietnam War term born of the practice of disaffected US enlisted men killing their superiors with fragmentation grenades.

The latest incident took place at Samba in Jammu & Kashmir and was triggered by the suicide of a jawan, or low-ranking enlisted man. In April, a jawan turned his rifle on four of his comrades and killed them after being given what was perceived as a humiliating dressing-down by superior office. In May, a violent incident took place in Ladakh, while a similar fracas happened in June last year in Punjab.

Last week, Antony publicly expressed concern about the brawls in the first official acknowledgement of the government’s worry over the issue.

“Each incident is a matter of concern to me but armed forces are better trained to handle such situations. They are handling it in their own way. I also had a brief discussion with the Army chief and they are handling it,” Antony said.

Statistical evidence of suicides and fragging in the 1.1-million strong Indian army points to growing levels of frustration among the jawans. In 2003-5, suicides hovered around the 100 mark. They rose dramatically over the next three years to touch 150 in 2008. Since then the number of suicides has gone down but remains over 100 every year. At last count, 26 soldiers had died so far in 2012.

Multiple reasons have been attributed for the discontent. According to studies by the Defense Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR), the major causes of suicides in the army were domestic problems, marital discord, stress and financial problems, with soldiers serving far from home and unable to return to their families to solve the issues. Antony recently quoted the report in the Lok Sabha, or lower house of Parliament.

Psychological aspects relate to the Army being increasingly deployed in low-intensity but long-running and intractable conflict zones in the northeast, Jammu & Kashmir and lately extended to regions afflicted by leftist Maoist rebellions. Rather than being deployed to prevent or fight a war, the army is too often bogged down in domestic insurgencies, guarding its borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh and sometimes being required to bring civilian riots under control. That has created a peculiar situation in which defense forces must deal with multiple goals of eliminating the enemy while ensuring safety and retaining popular support of civilian population.

An Army jawan trained for all-out war situations is often found wanting in handling the emotional animosities of local populations that perceive security forces as instruments of state oppression and interference. In Kashmir, for example, even an inadvertent road accident could lead to riots across the state.

The same soldier ironically is feted by the country and turned into a hero when he succeeds, often posthumously or by sustaining grievous injuries, in killing terrorists, as happened during the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 or fighting against a foreign enemy during the 1999 high-altitude Kargil conflict in the mountainous border between Pakistan and India, dubbed the world’s highest war.

In fact, along with the army, growing incidence of suicides is being recorded in the paramilitary forces the Central Reserve Police Force or the Border Security Force, which are also deployed in high risk internal conflict areas. The economic factors too cannot be ignored.

The bulk of jawans continue to volunteer for duty from rural areas that are undergoing rapid change due to the effects of urbanization and industrialization. A decade back an Army man’s job was eulogized by folks back home for the sacrifices involved and economic stability that a regular military salary provided.

Today the cost of living has risen much more than the wage increments. Given increased land prices and other avenues of income, the army has lost some of its sheen as a sought-after employer. A recent comment in the Indian media reads:

“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 average ‘fauji’ (soldier) retires at a much younger age than the civilian counterpart who serves up to age 60. Many anomalies abound.”

Indeed, it is important for New Delhi to closely look for solutions to pre-empt the disgruntlement among the jawans turning alarming levels. There are already rising instances of industrial unrest in India.

Dissatisfied workers of car manufacturer Maruti brutally assaulted management cadres recently, killing a senior executive and injuring several others. The Maoist violence in large tracts of Central and Eastern India is linked to mining companies exploiting the local tribal populations resulting in deep grievances.

Unlike its neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh or Nepal, the Indian army has remained largely apolitical and has worked well under civilian political leadership since India’s independence in 1947. The Indian jawan deserves his due.

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