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Saturday, 29 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 29 Sep 2012

Chinese Aircraft Carrier: Capacity Building and National Pride
Kamlesh Kumar Agnihotri
Research Fellow, National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi
The first Chinese aircraft carrier, refurbished out of the Varyag unfinished Ukrainian carrier, sailed for its 10th sea trial on 28 August 2012. The Chinese official news agency Xinhua, while putting this fact out in the public domain cited its naval experts as surmising that the 304 meter long carrier with a beam (width) of 37 meters and displacing 58,500 tons, will be inducted into the naval service later this year.

No sooner did Chen Bingde, the Chief of General Staff of the Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA) formally acknowledged in June 2011 that the Varyag was being readied for maiden sailing, than considerable Chinese academic and media discourse erupted. The development was straightaway linked to public pride, national prestige and international 'must have' requirements by highlighting the fact that "amongst the five permanent UN Security Council members, only China did not possess aircraft carriers." An article in the PLA Daily disparagingly remarked that "some of China's neighboring countries which were not rich enough had owned aircraft carriers since half a century." At the same time, one Chinese strategist took the opportunity to point out self-righteously that while the American carriers have become the symbols of US hegemony, China would never seek that course even if it built its own fleet of aircraft carriers. The media editorials and articles commenced animated debates on the carrier's name and a report has speculated that it will be named as 'Liaoning', after the Province of same name.

The strategic community world over has been discussing the development of China's aircraft carrier program for nearly a decade, with debates and conjunctures about its exact nature, future outlook, effect on regional security and implications in the global domain. The Chinese Ministry of National Defense finally clarified that "the carrier was intended solely for scientific research, experimentation and training" when it commenced its first sea trial in August 2011. The Deputy Commander of PLA Navy was also quoted as having said that the carrier was planned to enter service by the year end.

Capacity and Threat-Estimation
The warship refurbishment goes through three broad phases  being able to float, move and fight. A preliminary analysis of the ten sea trials  particularly three successive sea trials in May 2012 and the fact that the ninth sea trial that lasted 25 days  clearly indicates that the ship has credibly crossed the second milestone of 'being able to move'. In the meanwhile, the Chinese media speculated that the Sukhoi-30 aircraft would possibly carry out 'circuits and landing approach' trials over its angled deck during one of the trials. The procedure involving the aircraft coming in for a 'low go around' simulating a landing, would surely have validated many carrier based airmanship aspects involving the men, material and procedures. While the carrier may be 'floating' and 'moving', the ultimate aim would lie in achieving the most vital milestone of 'being able to fight'. Therein lies the major challenge in transforming Varyag into a quintessential fighting machine.

The challenges can broadly be classified into two categories, namely, operationalising the carrier as a unit; and enabling its integration into a carrier battle group. The biggest challenge lies in the production and flight test of carrier-borne aircraft. The J-15 aircraft which China has reportedly manufactured out of imitation prototypes of Russian Sukhoi-33 aircraft, has been undergoing flight tests since end 2010, but appears to be constrained on account of reliability of its indigenous engine.

Further, China does not have its pilots trained in launch and recovery from carriers and the prospects of gaining this expertise appear quite remote on account of non-availability of platform, trainers and appropriate international collaboration. Self-learning of this highly specialised skill may involve substantial attrition of precious aircraft and pilots. It is precisely for this reason that the Indian Navy, despite possessing 50 years of carrier operating experience, is proceeding with great caution involving the ship and aviation trials of the newly re-furbished Vikramaditya carrier. The next stage of integrating the carrier into a carrier group will involve the challenges of joint operations with other supporting assets of the PLA, which is no easy task. Beijing possibly recognises this acute limitation when it articulates that this carrier is meant solely for 'scientific research, experimentation and training'.

The difficult road ahead, however, does not alter the fact that China has made substantial progress in its single-minded pursuit of the vision set out by Admiral Liu Huaqing, PLA Navy commander in 1980s and Vice Chairman of Central Military Commission (CMC) in the 1990s. It perceives no harm in indulging in some rhetoric to fan the strong sense of emerging nationalism associated with a typical rising power. This vigorous public discourse may also be an attempt to create suitable public mood and nationalistic fervor in the run up to the 'magnum opus' entry of the aircraft carrier into naval service by the year end, if not on 1 October, the foundation Day of the Peoples' Republic of China.
Swedish Investments in the Indian Defence Industry: Prospects and Challenges
13:39 GMT, September 28, 2012 In end August 2012, the Swedish defence and security company Saab Technology signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian private-sector company Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company Limited. Saab, with total sales of US $3,582 million in 2011, holds a vital role in Sweden's defence industry. Partly as a result of changing economic conditions, the firm's strategy is now directed towards international cooperation, with greater focus on investments in Asia in general and India in particular. This commentary will take a closer look at the characteristics of Saab's recent investments as well as the prospect and challenges for current and future Swedish-Indian collaboration in the defence industrial sector.


Swedish defence industry is internationally renowned for its high quality of competence and its top-edge and sophisticated technology. A broad-spectrum, advanced military-industrial base in Sweden developed during World War II without much influence from foreign interests or investments, as part of the country's 'neutrality politics'. Saab, being one outcome of this development, is the number one company within its sector in Sweden today.

With the recent MoU, Saab commits to strategic investments in Pipavav to a value of $38 million[1] - investments that will mainly be focused on enhancing Pipavav's infrastructure capability, maintenance and building of military hardware for the Indian army as well as for export purposes.[2] Additionally, the two companies have signed a technical partnership agreement, securing the continuation of an already ongoing cooperation and an extension of Saab's engagement in Pipavav.

Saab is involved in partnerships with several large Indian companies, i.e. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), The Mahindra Group, Wipro, Samtel, FFV Services and S.M Creative Electronics.[3] As of now, Saab's business base encompasses ground combat systems, coastal surveillance systems, signature management, electronic warfare systems as well as communication equipment and avionics. The company's recent investments, however, reveal an interest in expanding the product line to other segments of the defence and security industry.

Saab's commitment to the Indian defence industry is characterised by several incentives to support and develop an indigenous Indian defence industry, to contribute to research and development, facilitate knowledge- and technology transfers, and generate customized solutions to the Indian market. Two examples of such attempts are the Saab India Technology Center in Hyderabad - a research centre and development facility in cooperation with Mahindra Satyam, and a sourcing office in Bangalore with focus on supplier development.


Saab's increased interest in the Indian defence industry can be understood as part of a larger structural change in the international geo-economic context. The Asian region, with sales amounting to SEK (Swedish Krona) 5,176 million for 2011, is Saab's second largest market. On the other hand, Sweden, and large parts of Europe, are struggling with economic instabilities, distressed markets, and diminished political and public support for retaining a strong defence industry. This can be seen, for instance, in the decrease in Swedish military expenditure by 18 per cent during the past ten years - a fall from 2 to 1.3-percentage points of GDP. In India, however, the trend has proceeded in the opposite direction, with military expenditure increasing by 78 per cent, to $46,086 million, for the same time-period.[4] In addition, India is also the largest arms import nation in the world - making the country a 'hub' of potential for foreign investors.[5]

Saab intends to make India its new home market, which is explained by India's strategic position in Asia, its emerging industrial capacities, democratic political and social foundation, and a comparably lenient regulation on their defence industry in relation to other major Asian nations such as China and South Korea.[6] With its presence in India, Saab will have a prime position in the expanding Indian market for defence and security products as well as earning a more direct access to the rest of the emerging Asian economies.

Saab is still a small player in relation to some of the giant defence and security firms, which makes it even more important for the company to establish a trustful relationship with the Indian industries and be a responsible partner. The company's strategy to sustain its competitive advantage is to contribute to capacity building and transfer of technological know-how for local partners, commitment to the development of an independent defence base and an enhanced civil security, and social development. India should value such an approach and support smaller scale collaborations with similar actors.


Scholars and expert committees have raised concerns about the deficiencies in India's defence industrial sector.[7] The defence and security industry is under heavy policy and export constraints, making innovation and structural improvements difficult.

India has thus to reconstruct its policy towards foreign investors if the country is to have a strong defence profile and safeguard its increasingly important role in the region. Despite these impediments, some advances have been made to attract foreign expertise, one of which is giving Indian private firms the chance to participate in the defence sector. The benefit of this initiative for foreign investors, like Saab, is that partnering with private firms is much easier compared to public sector companies. Entering into a Joint Venture (JV) also provides the foreign investor greater chances of winning contracts than by acting independently. Furthermore, as a JV is free to engage in offshore production, the foreign stakeholder will, by locating parts of its operations in its home country, have the opportunity for supporting the domestic industry and labour force. However, the most recent FDI policy allows foreign firms a 26 per cent stake in JVs with Indian companies – a level considered too low to attract relevant and sufficient technologies and expertise from abroad. A raise in the FDI cap to 49 per cent has been suggested, which would provide greater incentives for foreign investments as well as making the JVs more competitive in the domestic and export markets.[8]

In the recent MoU between Saab and Pipavav, the companies stated how they would be targeting global markets, besides meeting Indian and Swedish requirement for specific military segments.[9] Hence, these types of partnership, or JVs, will aid Indian firms in accessing new European markets. As a result, there will be opportunities for increasing procurement from Indian companies, providing India a reversed role in the current arms trade market.

There are, however, still some holdbacks to improved and increased partnerships with foreign companies, which stem from offset policies. If India is to enhance its defence industrial capabilities and attract advanced military technologies through foreign participation from nations such as Sweden, offset policies must continue to meet the interests of foreign investors. The 2008 provision of 'banking of offset credits', which allows foreign vendors to accumulate credit for discharging their future obligations, attempts to obtain long-term engagement by the supplying firm and is a sign of an economic policy more open to international economic influences. However, the current two-and-a-half year's validity period for banking of offsets is not a strong enough enticement for foreign investors. A longer banking period, along with further incentives to enable private participation and foreign partnerships, would be necessary for India to attract the right military technology and competences for its defence industry. Furthermore, the Ministry of Defence must make the requirements for future use of the accumulated credits more explicit, and be pragmatic about the areas in which new investments should be placed to benefit the Indian industry in the best way possible.


The Indian defence industry provides great investment opportunities for Swedish firms. Simultaneously, investments by Saab and other companies can speed up the development of an indigenous and modernized Indian defence. These opportunities, however, do not come without challenges. An assessment of the future of the Swedish-Indian industrial collaboration in the defence sector needs to be made by taking into account the prospects for bilateral cooperation in future political, economic, and security issues. Apart from the recommendations put forth here, further collaboration between Swedish and Indian firms necessitates an intensified bilateral political engagement to deal with the offsets and export restrictions on the defence industry.
India to buy 145 ultra light howitzers for Army from US
NEW DELHI: India will issue a request to the US Government next month for procuring 145 M777 ultra light howitzers for the Army at a cost of over Rs 3,000 crore.

"The Letter of Request (LoR) for procuring 145 Ultra Light Howitzers for the Indian Army through the Foreign Military Sales route would be issued in October," a Defence Ministry official told PTI today.

The clearance for procuring these howitzers was given recently by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister A K Antony.

The Ultra Light Howitzers of 155 mm (39 calibre) are being acquired for deployment in high altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, officials said.

The Ultra Light Howitzers are expected to be the first artillery guns to be included into the Army in the last 26 years.

After the Bofors controversy in 1986, no new gun has been procured by the Army for its artillery.

The M777 guns, manufactured by the BAE Systems of the US, can be airlifted easily and be used for quick deployment of assets in mountainous regions.

The go-ahead for procurement of these guns had been cleared by a high-level committee headed by DRDO chief V K Saraswat after leaked trial reports of the guns suggested that they were not fully meeting the parameters of the Army.

The Army is also hoping to induct the Bofors guns manufactured indigenously by the Ordnance Factory Board at its facilities in Jabalpur. The guns will be ready for pre-user trials phase in December.
Indian Army's Red Eagle Div Begins Platinum Celebrations
It is a proud day for Indian Army as well as the nation as its oldest fighting formation, the 4 RAPID(Strike) division also known as the Red Eagle Division celebrates its 74th anniversary and steps into the year of Platinum Glory. The Celebrations started with the remembrance of the brave predecessors of the division at the War Memorial, who have made the supreme sacrifice for the nation. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the division, Major General GS Chandel, Yudh Seva Medal laid wreath at the War Memorial and paid homage to the brave soldiers of the division in presence of Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and jawans.

The Wreath Laying ceremony was followed by a Sainik Sammelan. Maj Gen GS Chandel, YSM, spoke about the division and its exploits right from the time of Second World War upto its operations in the modern era. He brought out that it is the devotion to duty and sacrifice of each soldier that has earned the division a pinnacle position in the annals of military history. He emphasised on the endeavour of each individual to uphold this glorious history of the division with their utmost devotion and dedication to duty. This, he assured, will ensure even greater glory in the days to come.

A brief comparison of the times gone past, the present and the times to come was analysed by the GOC during his address. He enlightened the gathering on tackling the important personal and professional events in life requiring a thoughtful solution. The General was confident in promising that the division will always be prepared for any eventuality threatening the unity, integrity and sovernity of the nation. After the brief address, the GOC took the opportunity to felicitate the jawans who have shown exemplary dedication to their work by giving them prizes. The event culminated with a high tea in which the GOC had an informal interaction with the officers, JCOs and jawans.

All said and done, the celebration of the Red Eagle division as it steps into its 75th year was very well organised and co-ordinated, as can be expected from the oldest division of the Indian Army. The warmth of unity and bonding could be felt in the air throughout the celebrations.
Indian army to hold largest war game this week
New Delhi: The Indian army will hold its largest war game ever when top commanders from all key formations will gather at Pune this week to validate its latest pro-active war fighting concepts aimed at traditional rivals, Pakistan and China.
This is the first such warfare strategising exercise under present army chief General Bikram Singh.

The war game, played over a tabletop, is being held at a time when Pakistan is holding its largest two-month army field exercise by its Karachi-based V Corps beginning Tuesday (and will go on till middle of November), at a location overlooking Jaisalmer across the border in India's Rajasthan, to finalise its warfare concepts aimed at India.

Hosted by the Pune-based Southern Army Command from Wednesday to Friday, the war game is expected to have Gen. Bikram Singh taking part, a top army officer told IANS here. "Tabletop war games are much more complex and sophisticated in terms of content, brain-storming and evolving of warfare concepts to counter the enemy's defensive tactics and offensive strategies. Field exercises are for validating the concepts evolved at tabletop war games," a senior army officer explained.

"Senior officers from all seven commands of the Indian army and key formations are participating in the war game," he said."The war game will evolve a proactive strategy in punishing enemy forces at the time of battle. It will also work on effective ways of coordination between the army and the air force, key for a joint war effort for maximising gains during battle," the officer added.

Southern Army Command is the largest in terms of Indian territory that it is tasked to defend, from the coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
The war game is a follow-up to the three major field exercises carried out by the army in the summer and winter of 2011.

The 2011 summer exercise Vijayee Bhava was held in the Rajasthan desert in May by the Ambala-based 2 Kharga Corps, one of the three offensive strike formations of the army.It was followed by the summer exercise Pine Prahar in the plains of Punjab, also in May, staged by the Jalandhar-based 11 Vajra Corps, a pivot formation with both defensive and offensive elements among its ranks.

Both 2 Corps and 11 Corps are under the Chandimandir-based Western Army Command. In November that year, the army's Bhopal-based 21 Sudarshan Chakra Corps, under the Southern Army Command, carried out the Sudarshan Shakti exercise. These 2011 exercises, held under then chief Gen. V.K. Singh who spearheaded a transformation process in the army, aimed at building the capacities of the strike formations in delivering deadly blows to enemy forces in a short offensive by breaching the hostile army's defences and capturing important strategic assets deep inside enemy territory.

These exercises were also meant to test the army and air force's jointness and their firepower with the use of over 200 battle tanks and infantry combat vehicles, and artillery guns, apart from attack helicopters.
Indian Army ready to protect Panchayat members : Pandey

Kupwara , Sept.28 (KNS): Indian Army GOC 28 div Lalit Pandey, said that army is ready to protect panchayat members if state government calls them forward in this matter. "We're here to protect the people in every situation and circumstance" he added. Asked that Mustafa kamal has alleged the involvement of Army in panchayat members. He smiled and said that I don't have proper words to respond .He said that the around 600 militants are ready and looking for an opportunity to infiltrate line of control(LoC). "We have been and we'll continue to destroy their (Militant's) plans and would make their every attempt of infiltration unsuccessful. Asked about if Army is against the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) "To revoke or not to revoke AFSPA is the within the jurisdiction of the federal government. We'll perform our duties under the orders of it (Federal Government)." He replied. "We have sent our opinion to government but to take decision is within its jurisdiction" he added. He said that the militants are now using new routes to cross LoC like Nepal. "We're here on border and we've made various infiltration attempts of militants unsuccessful. In some cases we kill them and in some cases they succeed to move back" he informed. He informed that the infiltration attempt was foiled on Thursday. He said that Army suspected some movement on the LoC and found militants are crossing LoC. "As per our procedure Army challenged and chased them they returned back leaving behind six gunny bags which contained 10 AK-56 Rifles with 20 magazines, 98 Chinese made Pistols with 196 magazines and two Sub Machine Guns with 4 magazines. All the weapons were secured with packing tape and were brand new" he said.
Assam seeks Army help to counter poachers
After rebels, the army would be battling poachers in Assam. The sate government has asked the state police to coordinate with the army and Central paramilitary forces for forming an anti-poaching squad with focus on the 860 sq km Kaziranga National Park. This follows the shooting
of four rhinos this week. Two rhinos were alive when their horns were hacked off. The rhinos are bleeding profusely from their severed snouts and their chances of survival are slim.

"We have decided to let the army and paramilitary forces dominate Kaziranga. I have passed necessary orders to the DIG (central range) and he is coordinating with them," GD Tripathi, Assam home secretary, said. He added that the forces would be allowed to take appropriate action against anyone involved in poaching.

According to the police, local and international animal body parts traders were involved in the rhino horn trade. Since the four rhinos were shot in the Karbi Anglong – adjoining Nagaland, this hill district borders the southern edge of Kaziranga – the finger of accusation is being pointed at Karbi and Naga tribal militants.

"The horns are routed through Dimapur (in Nagaland) to south-east Asian countries," said LR Bishnoi, inspector general (law and order). "A rhino horn is sold at Rs50lakh to Rs1crore in the international gray market."

The spurt in rhino poaching, meanwhile, has triggered a war of words between forest minister Rockybul Hussain and opposition parties Asom Gana Parishad (BJP) and BJP. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi fuelled the verbal battle on Friday saying more rhinos were killed in Kaziranga during the AGP and NDA regimes.

Forest officials said poachers have killed 79 rhinos – 16 of them so far this year – in and around Kaziranga since 2007. Kaziranga, otherwise, is home to 2,500 one-horned rhinos. The park also has the highest density of Royal Bengal tigers – 32 per 100 sq km.

From Today's Papers - 28 Sep 2012
MoD slams criticism of pension hike
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, September 27
A day after groups of ex-servicemen termed the government hike in pension for armed forces personnel as ‘misleading’, authorities in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) yesterday retorted by saying this was the third hike in pension in the past four years.

A detailed chart of the financial benefits given to ex-servicemen since October 2008 is being calculated and will be released soon, said sources.

“Our aim is to cover the gap in pensions in a phased manner. This is the third increase in pension of ex-servicemen after the Sixth Central Pay Commission award was announced in October 2008,” authoritative sources said.
CISF men to guard Indian merchant vessels
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 27
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), a leading government security agency that already multi-tasks on several fronts, will soon have a new job - protecting Indian merchant ships from pirates on the high seas.

The force is training 200 of its men as armed guards on board privately owned Indian merchant ships carrying billions of dollars worth of goods.

Initially, the men will be deployed on board government-owned vessels, said CISF officials. Close to 95 per cent of all the $791 billion worth of Indian imports and exports is through the sea route.

This will be the new job for the CISF that is responsible for security of 59 airports in India. The force also provides on-payment services to six leading private companies like Infosys in Bangalore, Pune and Mysore, Jamnagar Oil Refinery, Electronic City in Bangalore and Delhi Metro Airport Express Line. Besides this, public sector giants like Steel Authority of India and ONGC also use the CISF.

According to senior officers of the CISF, 100 men will be deployed on board the merchant ships and the rest will be kept as reserves. CISF officers said that the men chosen for the sea-faring task will be commandos.

The training of these personnel is for a duration of three to four months and will begin in October. The Navy will be requested to train the men so that they gel in with the Indian doctrine at sea.

Anil Devli, the CEO of the Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA), said, “The CISF personnel will be given training by the maritime training institutes on international laws and regulations.”

The CISF personnel on board will be equipped with area weapons such as light machine guns (LMGs), AK-47s and INSAS (Indian Small Arms System), said a senior officer.

“A group of four troops led by an officer will be part of the crew of a merchant ship. The officer will make the decision to fire upon a hostile vessel. But our mandate is just to guard our ships and not shoot to kill,” said an official.

INSA will be coordinating with the CISF for the deployment of the men. INSA has 37 shipping companies as its members and will decide which companies will receive the first armed guards.

Earlier, the shipping association had requested the Directorate General of Shipping to grant the approval of armed guards on board merchant vessels. DG Shipping approached the Union Home Ministry which thereafter assigned the CISF to do the job.

Union Shipping Minister GK Vasan on September 3 in a reply to a question that was raised in the Lok Sabha said that 43 Indian seafarers are being held hostage by pirates. Fifteen of them have been held captive since 2010.

For safer seas

    95% of the $791 billion worth of Indian imports and exports is through the sea route
    The CISF is training 200 of its men as armed guards on board privately owned merchant ships
    100 men will be deployed on board the ships and the rest will be kept as reserves
    The men chosen for the task will be commandos
India feels let down after Pak rakes up Kashmir at UN
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, September 27
India today rejected Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s statement at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) that Jammu and Kashmir remained a symbol of failures rather than strengths of the UN system.

“We have seen the reference to Jammu and Kashmir in the statement of the President of Pakistan. You know, our principled position on the issue has been consistent and is well-known. The people of J&K, which is an integral part of India, have peacefully chosen their destiny in accordance with democratic practices and they continue to do so,” Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said at a media briefing in New York on the margins of UNGA.

The text of his media interaction was made available here by the External Affairs Ministry. New Delhi seems disappointed with Zardari for raking up the Kashmir issue at a time when the two countries are making a steady progress in their dialogue process. At the same time, it does understand the Pakistani leadership’s compulsion to keep the Kashmir issue alive lest people in the country start feeling that the issue has been out on the back burner.
Ex-servicemen’s just demand
Government gets close to the goal
by Inder Malhotra

OF late the media, especially newspapers and social networks, have been full of articles on the armed forces and their “discontents”. Since the authors of most of these are retired generals, air marshals and, occasionally, admirals, they refer more to the complaints and disgruntlements of highest military officers rather than of Other Ranks. Yet rare is any writing on the subject that hasn’t lamented the government’s heartless and overlong failure to attend to the just demand of ex-servicemen for equal rank, equal pension, or OROP, for short.

Over this period one has had to witness not just virulent agitation on the issue but also such heartrending scenes as the nation’s defenders marching to Rashtrapati Bhavan to return their gallantry medals to the Supreme Commander, the President.

Thank God, this ordeal is now over. The government has at long last done justice to two and a half million ex-servicemen whose number increases by 70,000 every year. The key point is that these men retire an early age and have to exist on meager pensions while other retirees of the same rank get higher or lower pensions depending on their dates of retirement.

A good proportion of the retirees could have been absorbed in the paramilitary forces, to great advantage both to them and the country. But this has not been possible, despite the best attempts of several defence ministers and others, because the monster of corruption has taken over the recruitment to not only the police forces in various states but also the Centre’s paramilitary organisations. Even the sleaziest of recruiters find it hard to ask retiring Army men for bribes, and so they are ineligible.

Lest the Army should start assuming superior airs on this score, let me hasten to add that on the admission of the best and the brightest within its own higher ranks, corruption in recruitment has contaminated the Army, too. As for other form of graft and malfeasance in the uniformed world, the evidence is littered across the country’s law courts or is stacked on the desks of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

On the merits of the government’s decision on OROP, there are two views. Some say that having gone thus far, the government could have gone a little farther and met the demand for one-rank-one-pension in full. They argue that this would not have added very much to the present package of Rs 2,300 crore which is a pittance compared with Rs 42,000 crore the government has generously offered the State Electricity Boards than which it is difficult to think of institutions more inefficient and corrupt. Having bankrupted themselves, they have run into debts amounting to the staggering figure of nearly Rs 2 lakh crore.

The debt recasting, even if it is achieved — the states have yet to agree to bear half the burden — would not solve the problem. For, no chief minister would stop the overuse and misuse of free power guaranteed to the farmers. Moreover, nobody would dare say boo to the crooks with clout that are stealing a huge quantity of power with impunity. It is, of course, written off as part of “distribution and transmission losses”!

Even so, there is a perfectly valid counter-argument to justify what the government has done. It has, it seems, gone as far as it could have or should have. After all, the amount of pension depends not only on the rank but also the last pay drawn. The salaries of the two men of the same rank and superannuating on the same day often differ because of the length of service in the last rank reached.

The Cabinet on Monday could have decided also on several issues concerning the pay, perks and pensions of lt-colonels, colonels, brigadiers and even lt-generals that have also been pending. But evidently, the committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary that examined the entire issue has not been able to complete its recommendations on these points.

What the government has got out of the way is very important, no doubt, but it was essentially a sideshow. The real problem, on which the armed forces’ resentment is perfectly legitimate, is the composition of the successive Pay Commissions appointed to fix the salaries and concomitant allowances of both the civilians and the military.

In other democracies there always is a separate pay commission for the armed forces. If this country is determined to deviate from this sound practice, why does it always make an IAS officer the commission’s secretary and usually excludes from it any representative of the three services? It is no secret that at the root of the bad blood in civilian-military relations is the services’ intense dislike of the IAS bureaucracy that, they feel, lords over them.

Other discontents of the services are a subject too large and would have to be discussed separately. But on one point, I am afraid the Army top brass is unnecessarily touchy is its place on the Warrant of Precedent. Some industrious scholar has discovered that, in the American pecking order, the position of the chairman, joint chiefs of staff is much lower than that of the three service chiefs here on the WoP. There is no heartburning there on this score.

Here, it seems, two-thirds of a century after the departure of the British amidst farewell trumpets, wearers of khaki are harking back to the era when, next only to the Viceroy, the Commander-in-Chief (India) was the second most important man. This is just not possible in a democracy where the wholesome principle of civilian control over the military (which need not mean civil service control) is well established.

Who sits where around the President’s banquet table is immaterial. What matters is that, in the US, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, together with the Defence Secretary, the Secretary of State, National Security Adviser, and the head of the CIA, is among the President’s main advisers and a member of the National Command. This country remains allergic to the concept of a Chief of Defence Staff for several reasons, including regrettably, stiff resistance within the armed forces, and the departing conduct of the previous Army Chief, General (retired) V. K. Singh.
Problem in upkeep of Tatra trucks: Defence ministry
NEW DELHI: With procurement of Tatra trucks put on hold, the defence ministry is facing problems in maintenance of over 7,000 of these vehicles in the armed forces and is likely to seek advice from the law ministry in this regard.

The ministry is likely to seek the opinion of the law ministry on how it should go about the maintenance of Tatra trucks as supply of all-terrain vehicles from the UK-based company has been put on hold because of a CBI probe into alleged irregularities in their purchase, sources told .

After getting the view of the law ministry, a final decision on the issue may be taken by the ministry's Defence Acquisition Council, they said here.

The issue of maintenance of these trucks is a key area for the armed forces as high-value assets such as strategic missiles and other heavy weapon systems are based on these vehicles.

After then Army Chief Gen V K Singh levelled bribery allegations in connection with procurement of Tatra trucks, defence minister A K Antony had ordered a CBI probe in the case.

Procurement of trucks from Tatra were put on hold after that and CBI has questioned several officials including the head of Tatra Vectra in this regard.

The defence ministry is also in the process of cancelling an order, placed after CBI began its probe, for one Tatra truck worth over Rs 50 lakh for meeting a DRDO requirement in May.

The chairman of BEML, which was supplying these trucks in India in partnership with Tatra, has been suspended by the ministry for ensuring a free and fair probe into the charges.
Army foils infiltration bid along LoC
JAMMU: Army today foiled an infiltration bid along the LoC in Poonch sector, where one militant is believed to have been killed.

A group of four-five armed militants tried to infiltrate into the Indian side of the border along LoC in Krishnagati forward area and their movement was picked by surveillance devices and troops guarding the border, an Army officer said.

Troops guarding the borderline fired at the infiltrating militants, who fired back resulting in exchanges, he said.

After the brief exchange of firing, militants tried to return, he said, adding that a body is lying close to the border line.

Search operations have been launched in the area.

Indian Army Chief visits Central Command headquarters
LUCKNOW (PTI): Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh on Wednesday visited the Central Command headquarters in Lucknow and reviewed operational preparedness of the force.

Gen Bikram Singh, who arrived in Lucknow on Tuesday with his wife and President of Army Family Welfare Organisation (AFWO) Bubbles Singh for a two-day visit, was briefed by Lt Gen Anil Chait, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Central Command.

The Army Chief addressed officers on challenges facing the army, collective efforts required in overcoming them and the need to carry forward the core values of sincerity, commitment and dedication to the organisation, a defence spokesman said.

Gen Singh emphasised on the need to return to the basics of soldiering with emphasis on discipline and esprit de corps.

In his interaction with ex-servicemen later, the Army Chief assured them of concerted efforts towards amelioration of their problems.

Gen Singh made a courtesy call to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and thanked him for the support extended to ex-servicemen and army.
Indian army firing range in Tosa Maidan

    Indian Army's lease of the Valley’s biggest meadow – Tosa Maidaan located in Badgam disctrict ends this December, and the residents of Khaag and adjoining localities in the district want removal of the Army’s firing range from the area. Tosa maidan was given to Indian Army on lease in 1962.

    The locals claim that artillery shells are fired from the banks of Sukhnag River near Chill village towards Tosa Maidan.
Now, an oxygen room for Army in Siachen and Leh
CHANDIGARH: Indian Army will soon have an oxygen room on top of the world to acclimatize troops to the high altitude conditions. Till now, soldiers used to take almost a week to adapt to the conditions in Siachen and Leh.

Now onwards, rushing troops to an altitude of 11,000 feet and putting them into action will take just 2-3 hours with the help of the oxygen room. The DRDO has developed the oxygen-enriched room for rapid induction of the soldiers who had to wait for a week for adaptation before they could venture out on duty in Siachen and other very high altitude areas.

The DRDO has set up one such room at Leh and six more such facilities will come up in forward areas, including Siachen, soon.

W Selvamurthy, chief controller of research and development at DRDO, who had been at Leh recently to make the troops aware of the functioning of the facility, said, "In a Kargil-like situation the Army is not given any time to adapt to the high altitude. The troops who are vulnerable to acute mountain sickness and get breathless suffer a lot during these emergencies. We will create six such rooms in the base camps of all the forward areas."

The room has been designed by Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS), a DRDO lab in Delhi. "This room is for rapid induction of the troops to the high altitude. The percentage of oxygen does not decrease in high altitude, it is the reduction in the partial pressure which makes one feel breathless as there is decrease in availability of oxygen to the body cells at such a height," said Dr Shashi Bala Singh, director of DIPAS.

However, cautioning that the room is only for emergency situations where there is less time for the soldiers to adapt, Shashi said, "The body has a natural capability of adjusting to a height up to 2500m. We recommend this room only in emergency situations. This is also for the VIPs who fly in for a day and leave immediately."


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