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Monday, 20 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 20 Aug 2012
India wants Pak to act against radicals inciting N-E exodus
Shinde speaks to Malik, says Delhi has evidence
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 19
Armed with evidence that Pakistan-based radical organisations were using social networking sites to upload morphed videos and pictures to whip up communal sentiments against people of the North-East, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde called up his Pakistan counterpart Rehman Malik and asked him to act against such elements.

In the past one week, an estimated 25,000-30,000 people of North-East origin have fled Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Chennai after they received threatening SMSes and MMses. Social networking sites were flooded with hate messages against them. MHA spokesperson KS Dhatwalia said

Shinde spoke to Malik and told him that “social networking sites were being misused by elements based in Pakistan to circulate false pictures and stories to whip up communal passion in India”. This was first direct contact between Shinde and Mailk since the former took over the charge of the Home Ministry from P Chidambaram on July 31.

The Intelligence Bureau had found over 70 websites that were allegedly circulating inflammatory content. These were blocked following intervention of the computer emergency response teams that were stationed to monitor the incoming and outgoing internet-servers. Teams of software engineers traced the Internet protocol (IP) addresses to Pakistan. An IP address - unique to each landline broadband, datacard, hand-held mobiles or tablets - can be used to track down a person and location. New Delhi will share these details with Islamabad, sources said as Malik has asked India to send him the evidence. It would be sent through diplomatic channels.

Sources cited the IB report on the matter saying a socio-political Pakistani group had doctored images and spread them across social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Some Indian groups are also suspected to have played a role. “Most of the online content started getting posted from July 13 and fake profiles were created for spreading morphed pictures,” said the report.

"Pictures have been taken from different places such as Tibet earthquake, Thailand etc and most of the fake profiles have been created since end of July," it said. Malik briefly spoke to Shinde about pending issues between the two ministries and re-iterated his commitment to bring the masterminds and perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack to justice. Malik also invited Shinde to visit Pakistan to sign the revised visa agreement.

The Ministry of External Affairs, too, is concerned over the developments and keeping a close watch on it. Since the matter has been raised by the Home Minister with his Pakistan counterpart, the next response would emerge after inter-ministry consultations, said sources.

“On such issues, inter-ministerial consultations are the first step and the Ministry of External Affairs will then take the agreed follow up action,” sources in the ministry said. The matter could figure when Foreign Minister SM Krishna meets his counterpart in Islamabad next month.

The usual suspect

    A Pakistan-based hardline group is suspected to have been involved in doctoring images and spreading them across social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and You Tube to create scare among N-E people.
    An IB report said pictures have been taken from different places such as Tibet earthquake, Thailand etc and most of the fake profiles have been created since end of July

Pak rebuffs charge

    Pakistan on Sunday vehemently denied New Delhi's charge that morphed pictures of Assam and Myanmar violence which triggered an exodus of the people of northeastern states from other states originated in the neighbouring country. ''We want peaceful and stable relations with India...such statements only vitiate the atmosphere and do not in any way help the normalisation process,'' sources in the Pakistan High Commission said.
Army reels under ton of suicides
62 soldiers killed themselves till July 31
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, August 19
Over 100 Army soldiers have been committing suicide annually since 2006, with 2009 being the only exception when the number was a tad lower at 96. Since 2003, a total of 1,018 soldiers have killed themselves.

The Sixth Pay Commission was announced in October 2008 and was implemented in 2009. Some financial gains were made by the jawans and that could be a possible reason for the marginal dip in suicides that year.

This year, 62 soldiers killed themselves till July 31, Defence Minister AK Antony said in the Rajya Sabha. “The major causes of suicide are domestic problems, marital discord, stress and financial problems,” he added. The following have been the suicides each year: 2003 (96), 2004 (100), 2005 (77), 2006 (129), 2007 (118), 2008 (123), 2009 (96), 2010 (115), 2011 (102), Antony said.

The Ministry of Defence and the Army are worried over the tendency of its troops to kill themselves. Not only is a human life lost, it affects the morale of the unit -- comprising mostly of men drawn from the same ethnic group.

The latest suicide was last Wednesday when a jawan of 16th Cavalry Regiment, Arun V, hailing from Thiruvananthapuram, killed himself with his service weapon in Samba (Jammu and Kashmir). His angered mates raised slogans against the officers and surrounded their residences in protest. The Army has ordered a Court of Inquiry. Arun V had reportedly been refused leave to go home.

The Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) has been conducting studies which have led to changes in the past. In 2010, it was tasked to provide parameters that would enable officers on the ground to identify and spot "at risk" soldiers. One of the studies was a psychological autopsy of suicides.

Senior officials admit that the number of suicides is worrisome especially after several steps have been initiated in the past few years to improve the quality of life of the personnel. Antony had introduced schemes to allow card facility to jawans and their families to withdraw salaries. The married accommodation project is being implemented to build houses in urban areas to allow families of soldiers to enjoy better quality of life and also access to better education for their children.

Special rations have also been authorised for additional troops serving in high-altitude areas -- specially above 12,000 feet. A pilot project has been launched at 20 locations across the country for rail e-ticketing. This facility will replace the system of railway warrants.

Armed forces personnel will be able to book and print e-tickets through IRCTC websites at unit locations. This project will be gradually extended to more than 5,000 Army, Air Force and Navy units across the country.

Deadly Numbers

* 2003 (96), 2004 (100), 2005 (77), 2006 (129), 2007 (118), 2008 (123), 2009 (96), 2010 (115), 2011 (102)

* The Ministry of Defence and the Army are worried over the tendency of its troops to kill themselves

* Not only is a human life lost, it affects the morale of the unit -- comprising mostly of men drawn from the same ethnic group

* Senior officials admit that the number of suicides is worrisome, especially since several steps have been initiated over time to improve the quality of life of the personnel
War Memorial to be built near India Gate
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 19
After much debate and delay, the proposal for building the National War Memorial for Indian soldiers has been accepted and it will be built next to the India Gate. The existing India Gate, an imposing edifice in Lutyen’s Zone, Delhi, was built by the British to honour the soldiers who died in the World War I (1914-1918).

In the next meeting of the group of ministers (GoM) scheduled to be held on August 21, further decisions would be taken and after the remaining formalities are completed, it would be sent to the Union Cabinet for final approval. Since its independence, India has gone through five wars; and soldiers have died in counter-insurgency operations too. Each time the Service Chiefs pay their customary homage at the India Gate, they actually honour men who fought for the British Army.

The National War Memorial, which was first proposed in the 1960s, has now been cleared by a GoM handled to manage the project. It will be constructed next to the India Gate in New Delhi, a location preferred by the armed forces. It will be tri-service memorial.

Defence Minister AK Antony, who heads the GoM on the proposed war memorial, told reporters today, “Most hurdles for the construction of the War Memorial have been cleared.” While the armed forces wanted the memorial to be built near the India Gate in the centre of the Capital, the Urban Development Ministry and other bodies like the New Delhi Municipal Corporation had objected, saying that the construction would mar the landscape that includes the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the North and South Blocks and the Parliament, all built by the British. The forces proposed a ‘sunken’ structure that would be made by digging out a wide path around the India Gate. The walls of the path should have names and illustrations of the martyrs inscribed on them.

Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy was among the GoM appointed in 2009 to resolve the differences of opinion. It has been agreed that the layout of the memorial will be organic to the India Gate vista; will surround the main canopy at the India Gate; and will list the names of thousands of soldiers who died in the line of duty. The ‘sunken’ structure will mean it will not hinder the fa├žade of central Delhi for visitors paying homage at the India Gate.

Honouring Martyrs

* The National War Memorial, which was first proposed in the 1960s, has now been cleared by a group of minister handled to manage the project

* The armed forces propose a ‘sunken’ structure that would be made by digging out a wide path around India Gate and walls of the path will have names and illustrations of martyrs

* The existing India Gate, an imposing edifice in Lutyen’s Zone, Delhi, was built by the British to honour the soldiers who died in the World War I (1914-1918)
Jawan, who climbed onto 200-foot tower two days ago, refuses to come down
New Delhi: Vice Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General SK Singh visited the spot on Saturday, where an Army jawan has climbed a 200-ft high mobile tower on Friday alleging harassment by his seniors, and tried to persuade him to come down.

Lt Gen Singh spoke to K Muthu, who is attached with the Engineers Regiment, on phone for over 30 minutes, army officials said.

Mr Muthu, however, was not ready to believe that it was the Army Vice Chief himself talking to him and refused to climb down, they said.

The officials said they will continue its efforts to convince him.

Alleging harassment by seniors, 35-year-old Muthu had climbed the tower at Ajmeri Gate on August 17 and refused to come down despite appeals by police and Army officers. He is demanding an audience with Defence Minister AK Antony.

Mr Muthu, who lives in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu, has alleged he was transferred five times in five years.

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

On Friday, Mr Muthu had thrown a bunch of papers, and in one of the letters he had demanded his discharge from service due to alleged harassment by seniors. In the letter, he had also requested the commanding officer to get his salary of the last eight months cleared.
Agni-III test fire: India puts China on target
Balasore: In a bid to induct its first long-range ‘China-specific’ missile in the armed forces, India is contemplating a fresh test-firing of 3,500-km range nuclear-capable Agni-III missile from a defence base off the Odisha coast.

Defence sources said preparation for the launching of the country’s most potent missile, Agni-III, has already begun at the Wheeler Island. The missile is expected to be flight-tested anytime in the first week of September.

The test follows the successful user trials of two Agni variant missiles __ Agni-I and Agni-II __ by the Indian Army. Both the ‘Pakistan- specific’ missiles have already been inducted in the armed forces.
While this will be the fifth experimental trial of Agni-III missile, its success would pave the way for its induction and propel the DRDO to go for user trials in the limited stock production (LSP) series.

“If the missile meets all mission parameters, the DRDO would definitely go for its induction by the end of this year,” a defence scientist said.

The test is significant for the DRDO, which is plagued by cost and time over-runs of many indigenous projects. The missile had crashed into the Bay of Bengal just seconds after its blast-off from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) during its maiden test in 2006.

Programme director of Agni missiles and Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems) Avinash Chander told ‘The Express’ that the missile was planned for a fresh test, but the exact date of trial had not been fixed.

“The developmental flights of two more Agni variant missiles are also on the cards,” he said.

Agni-III, which has a velocity of 5 km per second, is a short and stubby, two-stage missile that weighs 48.3 tonnes and is 16.7 metres tall with an overall diameter of 1.8 metres. It can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads weighing around 1.5 tonnes. It is propelled by solid fuels, facilitating swifter deployment compared to missiles using a mix of solid and liquid fuels.

The first test of the missile on July 9, 2006 was a failure though its second trial on April 12, 2007 and third on May 7, 2008 were successful. While its proposed trial in 2009 was put off for unknown reasons, the weapon’s fourth test on February 7, 2010 was a copybook success.

“Though it is said to be ready for induction, it will still require one or two more tests before it can go for limited series production trials by the armed forces. However, two years more will be required for its operational deployment,” a defence analyst said.

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India’s anti-tank Nag missile fails in user trials
New Delhi: The long-delayed Nag anti-tank missile project of the DRDO has suffered yet another setback as its user trials held recently failed.

In the trials held in Rajasthan in presence of senior Lt Gen-rank officers from the Army and top DRDO officials, the modified carrier of the missile called NAMICA also under-performed, DRDO sources told PTI here.

In the trials held at the Mahajan firing range, four Nag missiles were fired of which only one could hit the target whereas the remaining failed to do so due to glitches in the equipment on-board the weapon, they said.

Army officials present at the test-firings were not happy with the performance of the missile and have asked the defence research agency to come better prepared for the trials to be held in the future, they said.

The missile has been under development as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) initiated in early 1980s and is now expected to take few more years to reach the induction stage.

Representational Image. AFP

Sources said the carrier of the Nag missile called NAMICA — a modified Russian-origin BMP-II personnel carrier, also failed to satisfy the users in displaying its capabilities in water during the trials.

However, the NAMICA met the requirements of the user in terms of its cross-country capabilities, they said.

When contacted for his reaction, DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta said the trials were a “partial success”.

“The Advanced Target Acquisition systems with both the Gunner and Commander have performed well,” he claimed.

The spokesperson said these trials have “brought out certain deviations in the engine performance of the NAMICA BMP-II and those were being assessed by the experts.”

So far, DRDO has carried out more than 50 test-launches of the missile since it started its development in the 80s.

The DRDO is also working on developing the helicopter-launched Nag missile called the HELINA and its trials are also expected to be held soon.

The Indian Army has been awaiting the induction of the Nag missile for a long time now. In absence of any indigenous system, it uses the French-origin Milan anti-tank missiles and is also in negotiations with the US for procuring a significant number of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles.
Indian Army is fat not fit, says internal audit
New Delhi: Is the Indian Army unfit? An internal audit of the Army conducted in 2011 by the Controller of Defence Accounts has raised questions about the quantity and quality of food being fed to the men. The audit says normal military diet could be three times more than what is recommended by the ICMR. The Army has dismissed the findings.

According to the audit report, the recommended dietary intake of cereals for normal human consumption is 460 grams per day, while the Indian Army gives 600 grams per day.

As for pulses the recommended norm is 40 grams. The Army's prescribed scales are more than double. Similarly the medical body ICMR recommends 30 grams of sugar per day. The men in uniform get 90 grams.

The ICMR recommends just 30 grams of meat per person per day as ideal for health but according to the audit report army men get 100 grams of fresh meat. In case of potatoes only 50 grams is permissible but the Indian Army gets 100 grams on a standard basis.

The audit report also refers to two other anomalies that the same scale of food items is provided to army personnel across all age groups. And number two, since food consumption also depends on the nature of the job being done, those deployed in widely divergent terrains and climate may need a higher calorific value than those in warm areas.

Further, the level of physical activity also varies from administrative duties to strenuous physical ones, so should the scale of rations.

The Indian Army in its response has dismissed suggestions saying comparing service rations to the recommended ICMR norms is an incorrect comparison. Further, it believes if compared to international scales of UN ration, the Indian soldier is getting far less.
Jawan firm on demand, refuses to leave tower
New Delhi: After spending the night on a 200-foot high tower, Army personnel K Muthu refused to step down on Saturday. "I will come down only if defence minister A K Antony comes here and listens to my complaint. I should be allowed to be discharged from service otherwise," Muthu was heard proclaiming. He had alleged on Friday that his seniors had been harassing him.

Muthu, who is attached to Corps of Engineers, had climbed the tower at Ajmeri Gate on Friday and stayed there despite numerous appeals by police officers. On Saturday, a second Army officer of his regiment was sent up to pacify him, even as cops, fire officials and other Army officers remained positioned on the ground, helplessly. However, Muthu was not convinced. Even Army officials tried to negotiate with Muthu thrice on Saturday, but to no avail.

"We have sent up some fruits and refreshment for the jawan and hope that he will agree to come down soon. He has climbed a high-rise structure in Bangalore too on the same issue," said additional commissioner of police (central) Devesh Srivastva.

Meanwhile, fire officials said that it is very risky to attempt to bring Muthu down forcibly. "His consent is needed before we help him get off the tower. We will not risk antagonizing him as he may take an extreme step or something may go amiss," said a fire officer of the area.

Muthu, who is deployed in Kota, has been absent from his unit since July 7 and sources claim that he hadn't asked for leave. A court of inquiry is likely to be ordered soon and action will be taken against him, sources said, adding that Muthu had sought retirement from the force. "Muthu is embarassing the force," a source said. According to police, a separate case will be lodged against him.
Indian Army's Growing Morale Problems
Low pay, incompetent leaders, other problems, lead to fragging, suicides

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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