Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Friday, 24 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 24 Aug 2012






Army Chief opens institute for jawans at Chandimandir

Tribune News Service


Chandigarh, August 23

Chief of Army Staff Gen Bikram Singh inaugurated an institute to cater to the social needs of junior commissioned officers, jawans and their families in the Chandimandir military station near here today.


The state-of-the-art institute has been named the Jadunath Sainik Institute after an Army war hero decorated with the Param Vir Chakra, a statement issued here said. Naik Jadunath Singh of the 1 Rajput was awarded the highest gallantry award for his acts during the 1947 operations against Pakistani raiders in the Naushahra sector of Jammu and Kashmir.


The institute, stated to be the first of its kind in the country in terms of standards and services, will provide a host of facilities like restaurant, gymnasium, library, cyber café, conference hall and indoor games.


The Army Chief, who is on a two-day visit to the Western Command Headquarters, Chandimandir, also met Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda to discuss various civil-military issues.


This is Army Chief’s second visit to the operationally sensitive Western Command within a fortnight. He was here on August 9, when he had reviewed the operational preparedness in the western theatre, interacted with senior formation commanders and addressed officers.

Lakshya-1 test-flown successfully


Balasore (Odisha), August 23

India's indigenously developed, micro-light pilot-less target aircraft 'Lakshya-1' was successfully test flown from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur near here today.


Lakshya-1, fitted with an advanced digitally controlled engine, was test flown from the launch complex-2 of the ITR at about 12.15 PM successfully, defence sources said.


The test was carried out to check the validity of its engine and duration enhancement, they said, adding that usually the flight duration of the six-foot-long micro light aircraft is 30 to 35 minutes.


Lakshya-1, a sub-sonic, re-usable aerial target system, is remote controlled from the ground and designed to impart training to both air borne and air defence pilots.


It is launched by a solid propellant rocket motor, and sustained by a turbojet engine in flight. — PTI

Message from LoC

India shouldn’t lower its guard


It is cheering news that the security forces have succeeded in bringing down considerably the cross-border infiltration attempts in Jammu and Kashmir. From 485 infiltration bids with 114 intruders ultimately managing to cross over to this side of the Line of Control (LoC), the figure has declined to 103 attempts for illegal entry into the country with 38 terrorists being successful in their unholy objectives this year till June 30. This is, indeed, a major achievement. Despite some stray incidents of terrorist violence in the Valley, it is almost a peaceful environment there. The situation is much better along the LoC in the Jammu region. Since last year, infiltration has declined substantially. The security forces need to be complimented.


But this is also time to have a closer look at the factors that might have contributed to this development. The security forces have, no doubt, succeeded in sending across the message that anyone trying to intrude into this side of the LoC will be gunned down. The weather factor plays a major role. Earlier infiltration attempts used to go up during the hot summer days, but now that too appears to be becoming a thing of the past. The situation at the ground level in the Valley seems to have gone a sea-change as people today are sick of those preaching violence on any pretext. Almost everybody wants a revival of economic activity in a big way.


There is another factor influencing the thinking of the terrorist masterminds in Pakistan. India no longer occupies the top place on their hate list. That place has gone to the US. The focus of these elements has shifted to Afghanistan, where they see a golden opportunity to capture power through their camp followers in the Taliban once the US-led NATO forces complete their scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan, beginning in July 2014. Yet India cannot afford to lower its guard, as extremist outfits continue to remain active in Pakistan. There is no conclusive proof that Pakistan has discontinued using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

Changing N-scenario in S. Asia

The likely implications for India

by Harsh V. Pant


Pakistan’s giant aeronautical complex at Kamra came under attack from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) last week. The Minhas base, in the town of Kamra, houses the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, the manufacturing division of the air force. It builds French-designed Mirage fighter planes and, with Chinese support, JF-17 fighter jets. This latest attack on the air base came amidst reports that the Pakistani military was preparing for a new military operation in the restive tribal region of North Waziristan.


What have been particularly troubling are the reports that the base contains components of Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons programme, although the Pakistan government was categorical in its denial. But the reassurance had to come from Washington that the nuclear arsenal in Pakistan remains safe. The world doesn’t really believe anything that comes out of Islamabad anymore. According to the most recent estimates by US intelligence agencies, Pakistan has doubled its nuclear stockpile over the last few years with the nation’s arsenal now totalling more than 100 deployed weapons. Pakistan is now ahead of India in the production of uranium and plutonium for bombs and development of delivery weapons. It is now producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world. Pakistan will soon be the world’s fourth largest nuclear weapon state ahead of France and Britain and behind only the US, Russia and China. It is investing heavily in plutonium production capacity with work reportedly underway on a fourth plutonium-producing reactor at Khushab nuclear complex.


The danger is that this expansion is happening at a time of great internal turmoil in the country and the rise in religious extremism. The fears of proliferation and possible terrorist attempts to seize nuclear materials are real and cannot be brushed aside. Along with the defeat of Al-Qaeda, the Obama Administration’s Afghan War Review had mentioned Pakistan’s nuclear security as one of the two long-term strategy objectives in Af-Pak. In State Department cables released by WikiLeaks, concerns about the vulnerability of Pakistan’s nuclear material were evident.


As the Obama Administration was starting to review its Af-Pak policy, an intelligence report suggested that that while Pakistan’s weapons were well secured, there was deep, continuing concern about “insider access,” meaning elements in the military or intelligence services. The then US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, wrote in a separate document that “our major concern is not having an Islamic militant steal an entire weapon but rather the chance someone working in GOP (Government of Pakistan) facilities could gradually smuggle enough material out to eventually make a weapon.”


But any attempt by the US to force Pakistan on the nuclear issue will only generate further suspicion that the US favours India and wants to control Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. This, despite the fact that throughout the Cold War years, it was Washington that was critical in giving a boost to Pakistani nuclear programme by wilfully turning a blind eye to nuclear developments in the country.


Pakistan already has more than enough nuclear weapons for an effective deterrent against India. Around 110 nuclear weapons will not make Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent more effective as compared to a deterrent based on 60-odd weapons. Nuclear deterrence doesn’t work like that. The higher number will just be used by the military to enhance its prestige by claiming that Pakistan is ahead of India, at least in this area.


For long, the US and the rest of the West have viewed nuclear weapons in South Asia with dread because of the possibility that a conventional war between India and Pakistan might escalate into a nuclear one. Former US President Bill Clinton called the Kashmir conflict “the most dangerous flashpoint on earth” precisely because of this fear of a nuclear holocaust in the Indian subcontinent. Indian and Pakistani officials, on the other hand, have continued to argue that just as the threat of mutual assured destruction resulted in a “hot peace” between the US and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, nuclear weapons in South Asia will also have a stabilising impact. They point out the fact that despite several provocations, India and Pakistan have behaved “rationally” during various crises by keeping their conflicts limited and avoiding escalation. But since September 11, 2001, the nature of the problem for the West has changed insofar as the threat is now more of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal being used against the West by radical Islamists if they can lay their hands on it.


There is little hope that the rational actor model on which classical nuclear deterrence theory is based would apply as much to militant Islamist groups as it would to the Pakistan government. The present turmoil in Pakistan has once again raised concerns about the safety, security and command and control of its nuclear stockpile. The command and control arrangements continue to be beset with some fundamental vulnerabilities that underline the reluctance of the Pakistani military to cede control over the nation’s nuclear assets to civilian leaders. Moreover, senior civilian and military officials responsible for these weapons have a problematic track record in maintaining close control over them.


The US has suggested that there are contingency plans in place to deal with the possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of militant groups, but it remains far from clear as to what exactly the US would be able to do if such an eventuality arose. This poses a serious challenge to the Indian credible minimum deterrent nuclear posture. While India has little to worry about Pakistan’s desire to have more than 100 nuclear warheads, the possibility of leakage from the state to non-state actors is a serious threat as it will undermine India’s ability to maintain peace in the region. A dangerous new nuclear matrix is emerging in the region.


India needs to be aware of the potentially catastrophic implications of the collapse of the governing authority in Pakistan. A boost to fundamentalist forces in India’s neighbourhood will have some serious consequences for the utility of nuclear deterrence in the subcontinent. Irrespective of India’s other problems with Pakistan, Indian decision-makers had little doubt so far in trusting that their Pakistani counterparts would take rational decisions insofar as the use of nuclear weapons was concerned. That assumption might soon need revisiting if the present trends in Pakistan continue for much longer.


The present turmoil in Pakistan and all its attendant consequences in the nuclear realm point to the long-term costs of short-sighted policies — the politics of proliferation — followed by the West in countering proliferation.

Soldiers and suicides

Suicides in the 1.1 million-strong Indian Army have come down marginally in recent years. From an all-time high of 129 in 2006, they dipped to 102 in 2011. But until July 31 this year, 62 Indian soldiers have taken their lives. Every such incident will remain a cause for concern. The suicide of a soldier at an Army unit in Samba in Jammu and Kashmir led to a round of tensions involving officers and soldiers this month. The case of an Army man who spent five days atop a mobile phone tower in the heart of Delhi to highlight his grievances — he threatened to jump but was somehow brought down safely this week — seemed to epitomise the crisis. Incidents of ‘fragging,’ or the fratricidal killing of fellow soldiers or superiors, also continue. It is clear that measures that were put in place by the armed forces after a study done by the Defence Institute of Psychological Research to identify stress-points are not efficacious enough. Some senior officers have contended that more than the physical and mental strain that extended deployment in counter-insurgency roles exerts, domestic, family and financial problems account for much of the distress. Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who is known to have taken a personal interest in the issue, has written to Chief Ministers to make the administration more responsive to the grievances and complaints of serving soldiers and their families. The Ministry of Defence appointed more psychological counsellors at the unit level, introduced yoga sessions and also issued guidelines to liberalise leave-granting practices. But more needs to be done. The armed forces have to introspect on how far the issue of the quality of its leadership at multiple levels may be involved here.


It is cold comfort that in India, suicide rates in the armed forces are less than those of the general population. The argument that in affluent countries such as the United States, military suicide rates have been rising at an alarming rate does not help the debate either. While the U.S. military reported 301 cases of suicide through 2011, this year the rate seems set to reach one a day. In fact, in the U.S. armed forces, suicide as a cause of death has overtaken combat deaths and motor vehicle accident deaths. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the question of the general morale of a force. Suicide is a tough enemy, but one that can be beaten with the right measures. At the force level, individuals need to be aided to improve their resilience and helped to cope with what life throws at them. The military, it seems, also needs to battle some demons within.

Army to shut down snooping unit set up by former chief

NEW DELHI: The Army has decided to shut down a secretive military intelligence unit set up by former chief General VK Singh that had been accused of illegally tapping telephones in the national capital. The Army move came even as it also shunted out the director general of military operations, a senior lieutenant general perceived to be close to the former Army chief.


The technical security division (TSD), headed by Col Honey Bakshi, was accused of illegally using off-the-air interceptors to listen in on telephone conversations of powerful individuals. Col Bakshi is presently admitted in an Army hospital in Delhi, after he complained of depression because of constant harassment by his seniors.


Sources indicate that the unit would be shut down because it was not serving any official purposes and was suspected of unethical acts. They also indicated that a senior official would be carrying out an inquiry to assess the activities of TSD ever since it was set up by Gen Singh. The unit was directly reporting to the Army chief.


Army officials dealing with media did not have any response when asked about the decision.


The controversial unit is already in the middle of a court of inquiry after its head clerk tried to sell off secrets of Col Bakshi's operations and accounts. It is still not clear if the Army has recovered from the head clerk any sensational details that could embarrass Gen Singh, whose fight over his date of birth had viciously spread across the Army creating major gulf among the Army top brass. Gen Singh's supporters had tried various options to stall the appointment of Gen Bikram Singh as his successor.


The developments came even as Lt Gen AK Chaudhary, the director general of military operations (DGMO), was transferred out as the chief of Bengal area, which is far below the profile of DGMO. Chaudhary was known to be close to Gen Singh and was in the thick of the controversy surrounding movement of two Army units towards the national capital just as the former Army chief moved the Supreme Court over his date of birth earlier this year.


After Lt Gen Rameshwar Roy was shunted out of Assam Rifles, Gen Singh had recommended Lt Gen Chaudhary's appointment as the chief of the paramilitary force. But the defence ministry shot it down.


Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, at present the director general (infantry), will be the new DGMO. He was the 33 Corps commander under the Eastern Command when the present chief was heading the Kolkata-based command. Lt Gen JS Bajwa, who had earlier served as the chief of staff at the Eastern Command under Gen Bikram Singh, will be the new DG (infantry).

Indian Army in the line of unfriendly fire

By Siddharth Srivastava


NEW DELHI - A rising incidence of violent face-offs between officers and soldiers in the Indian Army is becoming a worry for the establishment. The reasons are related to harsh working conditions, high risk to life due to the nature of the work, low pay, lack of leave, and indifferent management of the lower ranks.


At least three violent incidents have been reported in the recent past, prompting the defense minister and the army top brass to conduct brainstorming sessions to prevent such occurrences turning into a wider trend.


The latest instance was at Samba in Jammu & Kashmir, triggered by the suicide of a jawan (young soldier). In May, a violent


incident took place in Ladakh, also in J&K, while a similar fracas happened in June last year in Punjab.


Last week, Defense Minister A K 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 [the] 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 of the killing of officers in the 1.1-million-strong Indian Army points to growing levels of frustration among jawans. Between 2003 and 2005, suicides hovered around the 100 mark annually. 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.


Multiple reasons have been attributed to the discontent. According to studies by the Defense Institute of Psychological Research, the major causes of suicides in the army were domestic problems, marital discord, stress and financial problems. The report was quoted recently by Antony in Parliament.


Revelations of large-scale corruption in defense procurement, land and housing schemes in which top army, civil officials and politicians have been found culpable do not foster morale within the forces. A soldier is trained to follow orders. Doubts about the integrity of superior officers are a cause for dissonance.


Psychological aspects relate to the army being increasingly deployed in low-intensity conflict zones in the northeast and J&K and lately extended to regions afflicted by Maoist rebellions. It creates the peculiar situation of defense forces having to deal with multiple goals of eliminating the enemy while ensuring safety and retaining support of the civilian population.


An army jawan trained for all-out war situations is often found wanting in handling the emotional animosities of local populations who 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 Kargil conflict.


In fact, along with the army, growing incidence of suicides is being recorded in the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force and 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 belong to rural areas that are undergoing rapid changes due to affects 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 salary provided.


Today the cost of living has risen much more than the wage increments. Given the increase in 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 (army 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 look closely for solutions to pre-empt the disgruntlement among the jawans rising to alarming levels and adding to the 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 neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh or Nepal, India's army has remained largely apolitical and has worked well under the civilian political leadership since independence in 1947. The Indian jawan deserves his due.


Siddharth Srivastava is a New Delhi-based journalist. He can be reached at

Didn't apply mind to threat risk: Vij

MUMBAI: Former chief of army General N C Vij on Wednesday told a judicial commission he had not applied his mind to whether the Adarsh building was a security risk. Vij, who paid around Rs 70 lakh for his 650 sq ft flat in Adarsh, told the commission he was told by his officers that the land belonged to the state. Vij, who retired in 2005, said he was unaware of the answer to a question submitted by the army to Parliament about the land.


About Adarsh being a security threat, Vij said it was not the building but the residents who would have to be checked. "It is not the building, but the people occupying the building who need to be scrutinized from the security angle and whether the persons occupying the building are trustworthy and dependable," said Vij.


About his visit to his 28th floor flat in Adarsh, Vij said, "I did not really put my mind to the security aspect. I was there just for five minutes. Security threats require a detailed appreciation of a number of factors, like population profile of the cantonment, number of civilians, vulnerable targets and surrounding area profile," said Vij, adding that it was the responsibility of the local military authority to certify security threats.


The counsel for the defence ministry, pointing out that many senior army officers were members of Adarsh, said, "Will it be correct to say that the local military authority never raised the question of security during your tenure as all five former general officers commanding were members of Adarsh?" Vij replied "No!"


Vij said that he had been informed that the Adarsh land belonged to the state. "I was told that the Southern Command had confirmed telephonically that the land does not belong to the defence," he said, adding that the question in the Parliament about the status of the land was not brought to his notice.

India Gate complex to house National War Memorial

NEW DELHI: India's national war memorial (NWM), which was first mooted in the 1960s but is yet to become a reality despite a long-pending demand by the armed forces, should come up in the India Gate complex on the Central Vista in the national Capital.


Making this recommendation on Tuesday, the group of ministers (GoM) headed by defence minister A K Antony also suggested that a national war museum can concurrently come up at the Princess Park complex near India Gate. ``The recommendations are now being send to the Union Cabinet for the final approval,'' said an official.


As reported by TOI earlier, while the majestic India Gate was built by the British to honour the 84,000 Indian soldiers killed fighting for the British Empire in World War-I and the Afghan campaign, there is no NWM to remember the soldiers who laid down their lives to guard an Independent India during the 1947-48 J&K operations, the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars and the 1999 Kargil conflict.


The bone of contention for long was that while the armed forces wanted the NWM to come up near India Gate, the Union urban development ministry and the Delhi Urban Art Commission held it would disrupt the layout and spoil the aesthetics of the area.


But now, with the urban development ministry also ``on board'', the three Services will now prepare an integrated master plan for the construction of the memorial and museum. The earlier ``conceptual design'' for the NWM prepared by Army basically revolves around a landscape-type memorial around the `chhatri' (canopy) near India Gate on the Central Vista, with ``retaining walls'' for inscribing the names of the martyrs.


No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal