Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Thursday, 6 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 06 Sep 2012




Alarmed at rising suicides by jawans, Antony to consult Services

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, September 5

Alarmed at seeing almost 100 Army soldiers commit suicide annually since 2006, Defence Minister AK Antony has asked the three Services to come up with additional suggestions to improve living conditions and methods to curb suicidal tendencies among jawans.


He has asked the Vice-Chief’s of the three services, the Defence Secretary and the head of the Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) to be present at a brain storming session tomorrow.


Sources said the latest trigger to Antony’s reaction is the August 8 suicide of a jawan of the 16th cavalry regiment. Arun V, who hailed from Thiruvananthapuram, committed suicide with his service weapon. The incident occurred in the Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir. His angered mates later raised slogans against officers and surrounded their residences in protest. The Army has ordered a Court of Inquiry into the incident. The jawan had been reportedly refused leave to go home.


In 2010, the DIPR was tasked to provide parameters to enable officers to identify and spot the “at risk” soldiers. One of the studies was a psychological autopsy of suicides.


In all, 1,018 soldiers have committed suicide since 2003. This year alone, 62 suicides have been reported in the forces till July 31. The number of suicides over the past few years is: 2003 (96), 2004 (100), 2005 (77), 2006 (129), 2007 (118), 2008 (123), 2008 (96), 2010 (115), 2011 (102).


Antony told Parliament last month “the major causes of suicides were domestic problems, marital discord, stress and financial problems”.


In the past, the government has taken several steps to prevent such incidents. These included counselling, improvement in food and clothing, married accommodation, leave concession, air travel for movement of troops from border areas and establishing a grievance redressing mechanism in states.


Senior officials, however, admit the number of suicides is worrisome, especially when several steps have been initiated over the past few years to improve the quality of life for the troops.

Pilot to join Territorial Army as Lieutenant

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, September 5

Union Minister Sachin Pilot will don the Army’s olive green uniform tomorrow. Pilot (35), who will join the select list of politicians having parallel careers in the Territorial Army (TA), will be commissioned as a regular officer by Army Chief General Bikram Singh.


Pilot, the Minister of State for Communications and IT, cleared the written exam and the Service Selection Board (SSB) interview at Allahabad recently. He will be joining the force as a Lieutenant before proceeding for the training at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, Army sources said. A person can apply and join the TA till the age of 42.


Besides Pilot, other politicians who have been regular officers in the TA include Rao Birender Singh of Haryana, KP Singh Deo, a former Union Minister, DY Sema, a minister in the Nagaland Government, MPs Sanjay Singh and Manvendra Singh.


The young minister, who is an MP from Dausa in Rajasthan, will be following his family tradition. His father, Rajesh Pilot, was a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force and left service in 1980 to join politics after his friend Rajiv Gandhi requested him to do so.


Gen Bikram Singh and Additional Director General of TA, Lt General AK Siwach, will accord Sachin Pilot the rank of Lieutenant. Pilot will also have to do a mandatory training at the TA Academy at Devlali in Maharashtra. He will be commissioned into 124 TA Battalion of the Sikh Regiment. After clearing the written exam earlier this year, Pilot appeared in the SSB interview last month at the Allahabad centre.


Unlike cricketers Kapil Dev, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and actor Mohan Lal, who joined the force as Honorary Lieutenant Colonels, Pilot will be joining TA as a regular officer and will be asked to do service like other TA officers.


Uniform love


    Pilot, the Minister of State for Communications and IT, cleared the written exam and the Service Selection Board interview at Allahabad recently

    He will be joining the force as a Lieutenant and will be commissioned into 124 TA Battalion of the Sikh Regiment

    Unlike cricketers Kapil Dev, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and actor Mohan Lal, who joined the force as Honorary Lieutenant Colonels, Pilot will be joining Territorial Army as a regular officer

Unusual Chinese gift for two IAF pilots

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, September 5

Two pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) were in for a surprise when visiting Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie handed them over an envelope each. The two had flown the visiting Chinese minister from Mumbai to Delhi onboard IAF's Embrarer aircraft on Monday.


On opening the envelopes, the pilots were surprised to find Rs 50,000 in each packet. The captain of the aircraft informed the IAF headquarters about the unusual gift. The Ministry of Defence was roped in and a decision made to deposit the gift in the "toshakhana" (treasury). Normally, visiting VVIPs gift something unique from their country to the hosts. Money is almost never given. In India, the recipient of the gift can keep it in case its value is below a certain level. The Chinese Defence Minister's act of giving cash was unusual. Moreover, giving cash to a pilot in service uniform is considered "acceptable" in power circles.


The aircraft flown by the two pilots is part of the VVIP fleet maintained by the IAF for travel by dignitaries from India and visitors.


The rules of accepting gifts from foreign officials are part of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955. The Ministry of External Affairs maintains the "toshakhana" register that lists the gifts, the names of the giver and the receiver, the value of the gift and the date on which it was transferred to the depository.

Brigadier’s disclosure before media improper: Govt

Tribune News Service


Chandigarh, September 5

The Union of India (UOI) today filed afresh affidavit before the Armed Forces Tribunal contending that disclosures made before the media by former commander of the Kargil brigade, Brig Surinder Singh, and his counsel were overreaching the court as the matter was sub-judicial.


The UOI also submitted a CD to the bench, urging it to take it on record, which containing footage of the said disclosures that were aired by some news channels. Counsel of the UOI contended that the contents of the footage were viewed by people both in the country as well as abroad, which was not proper.


Brig Surinder Singh was commander of the Kargil-based 121 (I) Brigade, responsible for the defence of the LoC in the Kargil sector, when the conflict had broken out. He was removed from command at the height of the conflict and later his services were terminated on charges of mishandling classified documents and not seeking proper permission for vacating the Bajrang post in the Kaksar sector under his jurisdiction. He has challenged the action against him and the case has been pending, first before the Delhi High Court and now before the Tribunal, for several years.


Brig Surinder Singh’s counsel, while alleging delaying tactics on part of the UOI today, also sought disposal of several applications, filed by him in support of his contentions, which have been pending before the bench for many months.

Major protocol breach: Chinese Defence Minister gifts Rs. 1 lakh to Indian Air Force pilots

New Delhi: In a major breach of protocol, visiting Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guang Lie handed out Rs. 50,000 each to two Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots on Monday.


Two Embraer and an Avro aircraft were sent to Mumbai to fetch the delegation to Delhi for delegation-level talks. These aircraft were from the communication squadron of the IAF which is tasked to ferry senior officials and dignitaries including the Indian Prime Minister and the President.


The normal custom is to hand over mementos by the visiting delegation; money is never handed over. IAF officials said when Indian dignitaries travel on these aircraft for foreign trips, they gift small mementos as a token of appreciation to the aircraft crew.

The money was handed over to pilots as mementos in two packets. Once the pilots opened the packets and realised that money had given they informed the IAF headquarters which in turn has written to Ministry of Defence. The money will be deposited in the Government treasury tomorrow morning.


Although India-China relations appear to be normalising, New Delhi should take this issue seriously and return the money back to China, even though such a step could unsettle the fragile relationship.


This is not the first time that protocol has been beached by the Chinese. In 1991 Prime Minister Li Peng also handed over an envelope containing Rs. 500 to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer who was his liaison officer. The money was immediately returned back to the Chinese embassy.


The Chinese Defence Minister, who is on a five-day India visit, had arrived in Mumbai on Sunday. He was provided an aircraft for inland travel by the Defence Ministry.


Yesterday, before the beginning of talks, General Guang had thanked his Indian counterpart A K Antony for the arrangements made for him and his entourage by India.

AK Antony worried about soldier suicides, wants better living conditions for jawans

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of recent cases of suicides and fratricide by jawans, Defence Minister AK Antony will on Thursday hold a meeting with the Services to address these issues and find ways to improve the living conditions of soldiers.


"The Defence Minister will hold a meeting tomorrow on suicides and fratricides by jawans. This meeting will be attended by the three Services Vice Chiefs and representatives of the DRDO," Defence Ministry officials said in New Delhi on Tuesday.


Defence Minister had earlier informed Parliament that a stand-off between officers and soldiers of an armoured unit had taken place on August 8 after the suicide of a jawan.

The Minister had also said that over 25,000 soldiers had quit the force in last three years pre-maturely.


About five-six years ago, when suicide rate had gone up, the Defence Ministry had initiated several steps to check the trend which included a liberalised leave policy and counseling by officers and religious teachers.


DRDO had last year also given a presentation in this regard and suggested several ways of bringing the stress level down among soldiers.

Will India impart training to Pakistan Army? asks Nedumaran

Madurai, Sep 5 (TruthDive): Pazha. Nedumaran. the President, Tamil National Movement (Tamilar Desiya Iyakkam) and the Convener, ‘Tamil Eelam Liberation Supporters Co-ordination Committee’ has asked the Government of India one inconvenient question to answer.


He was participating in a protest against imparting training to Sri Lanka Army in India. It was organised by the Communist Party of India at Madrai. He posed some logical questions. He pointed out that Sri Lanka army is continuing to act against Tamils in Sri Lanka,  Despite opposition from all parties in Tamil nadu and request by the Chief Minister of Tamil nadu the Indian Government is not respecting such voices within the country and continue to train SL Army which is accused by the apex world bodies on human rights violations and genocide of Tamils.


    “They say  they provide  training to Sri Lanka Army since the country is a member state in SAARC. Then a question arises whether India will impart training to Pakistan Army because Pakistan is also a member of SAARC. They will not entertain  such a proposal because the trining imparted to Pakistan will be used to attack India itself. But the Government of India trains Sri Lanka despite knowing that Sri Lanka army will use their training in India to suppress Tamils in Sri Lanka. This has to be condemned”


But the people in Tamil Nadu now understand that India will do nothing to resolve ethnic problem in Sr Lanka citing various reasons like SAARC agreements, China cards, economic interests etc. A common man in Tamil nadu can understand simply that a Sinhala is friend of India while Tamils can be taken as granted as second class citizens both in India and Sri Lanka. The policy of India is more oriented towards geo political interests than the human rights which will definitely craete more political problems within India on these issues. India has to defend its own integrity before worrying about soverignty of neighbors.


Recently it was reported in the Hindustan times that the Madhya Pradesh  government ruled by BJP had decided to welcome Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa visiting the  world heritage site of Sanchi on September 21 . It was also reported that the leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj had invited Rajapaksa for the function in her constituency. Suddenly Sushma has denied that she had not extended any invitation as such invitation should come only from Prime Minster’s Office. But no one is ready to believe her and angry protests have erupted against BJP and Sushma in Tamil nadu. It is well recorded that there was a meeting between Sushma Swaraj and Mahinda Rajapaksa at Columbo. Who can verify whether She had invited the Sri Lanakn President to the Lok Sabha Constituency in Madhya Pradesh? Moreover it is also a question how the BJP welcomes Anti Hindu Mahinda Rajapaksa.


There are reports that Buddhist religious structures are constructed in the Hindu dominated areas of Sri Lanka and Hindu temples idols are vandalized. How to understand this? Is BJP pro Hindu subject to a condition that one must be a  Brahmin Tamil? Or why Sushma is siding with persons like Subramnanyam Swami, Cho Ramasamy and Hindu Ram?


It appears that both the leaders of National parties Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Sushma Swaraj have become supporters of Sri Lanka for various political and personal reasons based on their own interests and agenda.


Unless the major political parties Congress and BJP decide to take a firm stand to create an autonomous region within Si Lanka like Jammu and Kashmir, the woes of Ealem Tamils will continue.


The present issue got boiled over after the remark of  Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju that the training of Sri Lankan defence personnel in India would continue. It is also reported that the Union shipping minister G.K. Vasan  of Congress Party is of the firm view that Sri Lankan army personnel should not be trained in India. Which is the official position of Congress party or Congress Government?


We wonder whether India can have many stands like separate  stands for each National party for each caste , religion and state ,  Regional stand, National stand, SAARC Stand and international stand. With India standing on so many legs the emotions of Tamils all over the world who are waiting for so long on their own leg without any support from India will get pain.


All these point out that the Indian Prime Minister Office has no intention to coordinate in any issue to take a coherent stand on important issues as it has recently invited adverse remarks from the Supreme Court on Cauvery issue.


The attitude of the central Government on Cauvery Issue, Mullaip Periyar Issue, Ealem issue etc is always against the interest of Tamil nadu which is creating a favorable atmosphere to the separatist forces in Tamil nadu affecting the National Integration. Why BJP and Congress party work very hard for Indian  National disintegration?


The Congress Party and BJP should discuss this and take a firm stand whether the National integration of India is less important when compared to the national interests of Sri Lanka and the personal interests of war crime accused Sri Lanka President Rajapaksa.

Jawan killed as Army foils infiltration attempt

A militant was killed and a soldier lost his life as the Army foiled an infiltration attempt at the Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir’s Tanghdar sector on Tuesday night.


Army officials said a group of militants tried to sneak into the Valley through Keran sector, but were intercepted by the troops and a militant was killed. “The infiltrators were challenged by the alert jawans of the Army, the militants under the cover of darkness fired on the jawans resulting in the death of an Army soldier,’’ Defence spokesman Lt Col J S Brar told The Indian Express.


Brar said one unidentified infiltrator was killed and another sustained injuries in the firing. “The injured militant along with other accomplices managed to escape into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir,” he said.


On Monday, Army had foiled an infiltration bid in Uri’s Kamalkote sector. The militants and the Army jawans managing the posts on the LoC exchanged firing for an hour.


Following the fresh infiltration attempts, Army is maintaining extra vigil at the Line of Control.


Rs 1.98 lakh crore spent on defence equipment in 3 years

NEW DELHI: India spent around Rs two lakh crore for procuring defence equipment for its armed forces in the last three years, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.


"Rs 1.98 lakh crore has been the total expenditure on procurement of defence equipment for armed forces during the last three years," Defence Minister A K Antony said in a written reply.


India has undertaken a major military modernisation drive under which it is planning to spend more than $ 100 billion in the next five years for procuring weapon systems for the armed forces.


It is in the process of signing several big-ticket deals including multi-billion contracts for procuring 126 multi-role combat aircraft, 197 helicopters for Army and Air Force and artillery guns worth over Rs 20,000 crore for the Army.


In recent times, it procured six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for the IAF, several tankers and warships for the Navy and also embarked on major upgrade programmes of existing inventory of tanks and aircraft in armed forces' fleets.


Giving the break-up of these expenditure in the last three years, the Defence minister said Rs 56,507 crore was spent in 2009-10, Rs 67,138.38 crore in 2010-11 and Rs 74,408 crore in the last fiscal.


Answering another query, Antony said the Indian systems of medicine have not been introduced in the armed forces.


He said there are specific requirements to handle medical emergencies such as myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, head injuries which can be best taken care by allopathic physician and surgeons.

Why is officer-men relationship declining in the Army?

Is the Indian Army [ Images ] feeling the heat of being in perpetual operations? Are our soldiers' stress levels peaking dangerously? Making them prone to acts of indiscriminate violence? asks Nitin Gokhale.

Is the famed officer-men relationship in the Indian Army on the verge of a breakdown? How should one read recent incidents of indiscipline, rebellion/revolt, physical scuffles and suicides in the Army?


If you ask the top brass, most tend to brush aside the incidents as aberrations. Army Chief General Bikram Singh had in fact asserted that the suicide in an armoured unit in Samba and the subsequent fracas between officers and men was not related.


On Monday, September 3, Defence Minister A K Antony contradicted the army chief's assertion. In a written answer to the Lok Sabha, Antony said: 'The incident of suicide by an army personnel on 8th August 2012 in the Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ] led to unrest.'


On the face of it, the development is a major worry since absolute trust between officers and men in the Indian Army is the bedrock on which the combat units are built.


Indeed, when a former vice-chief of the army Staff, Lieutenant General Vijay Oberoi also says it's a matter of concern, it's time to take note.


In a recent article General Oberoi says: 'Three incidents of collective indiscipline by jawans in the last few months, reflecting a breakdown in the traditionally close officer-man relationship, are a cause for concern, especially as all three of them are related to combat units, where a stable and healthy officer-man relationship is an article of faith.'


And yet, some of the breathless commentary in the media attributing the breakdown to 'clash of class' between officers and men is born out of incomplete understanding of the working of the Indian Army.


Yes, there is a problem. But the problem is an outcome of a combination of factors: Erosion in the soldiers' status in the society, prolonged deployment in monotonous and thankless counter-insurgency jobs, crippling shortage of officers' in combat units and ironically easier communication between families and soldiers!


The Samba incident compels me to ask: What is it that drives a jawan to desperation? Is it just the tension of operating in the counter-insurgency? Or is there something more to it than meets the eye?


There are no straight answers but figures available since 2003 clearly indicate that that the Indian Army is facing one of its biggest challenges in history. Consider the figures:

In 2003, 96 army men committed suicide.

In 2004, this number was exactly 100.

In 2005, 92 of them took their own lives.

In 2006, 131 army personnel committed suicide.

In 2007 and 2008 the recorded figures were 142 and 150 respectively.

Since then the numbers have come down, but still remain over 100.

2009: 111; 2010: 130; 2011: 102.


Given that India has an 11-lakh strong army, these numbers may not be huge but for a force that prides itself on its standards of training and discipline, it is certainly a matter of concern if not alarm.


One can also point out the fact that in the American army this year alone the rate of suicide (till June 8) was one-a-day. That's hardly a consolation.


Therefore, it's time to ask the question: Is the Indian Army feeling the heat of being in perpetual operations? Are our soldiers' stress levels peaking dangerously? Making them prone to acts of indiscriminate violence?


There is no denying the fact that come summer, winter or rains, soldiers continue their daily patrols along the Line of Control [ Images ] in Kashmir. Every day and night at least a thousand foot patrols spread out in Jammu and Kashmir to try and corner terrorists. The job is risky and can even get monotonous. A bullet can come from anywhere any time. So one has to always be alert. But the chase is mostly futile. Nine out of ten times the patrols return empty-handed.


After nearly 14 years of counter-terrorism in Kashmir, the army has got used to the apparent hardship of uninterrupted operations. The fear of the enemy, claims each man that I have talked to, is nominal. 'We have no tension in this respect (counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency), we had joined the army precisely for this kind of work,' is the constant refrain from soldiers.


Officers say their biggest duty is to ensure that men are fully trained to face any situation in counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism.


'A fully-trained soldier is a confident soldier and effective soldier,' commanding officers say whenever one meets them.


But this practised auto-reply could cloak a very different reality.


A psychiatric study by army doctors a couple of years ago on 'Evolving Medical Strategies for Low Intensity Conflicts' revealed the huge range of issues soldiers in such situations have to confront, contradictions between war and low intensity conflict situations and particularly the concepts of 'enemy', 'objective' and 'minimum force'. There are no clear-cut victories like in wars. Some other findings were:


    In general war the nation looks upon the soldier as a saviour, but here he is at the receiving end of public hostility.

    A hostile vernacular press keeps badgering the security forces, projecting them as perpetrators of oppression.

    Continuous operations affect rest, sleep and body clocks, leading to mental and physical exhaustion.

    Monotony, the lure of the number-game and low manning strength of units lead to over-use and fast burn-out.


Leading psychiatrists also feel that there is disconnect between what a soldier is trained for and what he ends up doing in low-intensity conflicts.


I remember that some years ago Dr Nimesh Desai, a psychiatrist, had told me: "There is a certain dissonance in what the soldier feels when he operates in low intensity conflict. He is trained for war, to go all out against an enemy but in insurgency, he is told to hold back. Plus there is no end in sight for such operations. It is the constant tension that gets him."


Operating in a tension-ridden counter-insurgency environment does lead to certain stress among the jawans, but that is only one of the factors.


The main worry are the problems back home -- land disputes -- tensions within the family, rising aspirations, lack of good pay and allowances, and also the falling standards of supervision from some officers, all these factors have led to major stress.


Company commanders who lead field units in counter-insurgency situations also believe that tensions at home transmit themselves much quicker today. Since almost 80 per cent of India's foot soldiers come from rural and semi-urban areas, most of them have strong links with the land.


For the ordinary soldier, the smallest patch of land back home is the most precious property. Again, I have frequently come across a common thread where soldiers say there is no tension in actual work of counter-insurgency. The main problem for the fauji comes from his domestic situation.


Very often land gets encroached in his native village or there is a dispute over even the smallest of property. "There is always a tension. The police don't listen to us. My parents feel helpless, I become tense every time I go back home," I remember a soldier telling me in the Kashmir valley.


One more common thread among soldiers from Rajasthan [ Images ] to UP, from Tamil Nadu to Haryana was how little respect they seem to command today in a society which devalues their work.


As a former army commander had once pointed out: "You see he comes from a society where he compares himself with others and when he realises that he is at a disadvantage since acceptance wise, the kind of respect that his predecessors had is no longer there."


Very often insensitive civil administrations create tensions.


Senior officers point out that most suicide and fratricide cases take place after soldiers return from a spot of leave. The feeling of frustration can bring in helplessness which in turn leads to suicides and fratricide, it creates an impression that no one listens to the army. It is the system that sends the man in uniform into a depression.


It is precisely this concern that had prompted Defence Minister A K Antony to write to all chief ministers some years ago asking them to sensitise district administrations in their states to the needs of the soldiers. State governments were asked to set up a mechanism at district and state levels to address soldiers' grievances.


The harsh reality is that men in uniform no longer command the respect they did in the early years after Independence. Today, they have to fight for getting equivalence with officers of Group A central government services!


And yet, the army must look within too.


Soldiers these days are better educated and consequently better aware of their rights. This, coupled with falling standards of command and control among some of the undeserving officers who have risen to command units, is becoming a major cause for worry.


An acute shortage of officers at the cutting edge level is the other big factor contributing to an increasing gap between soldiers and officers. Against an authorised strength of over 22 officers for a combat battalion, there are at best 8 or 9 officers available to the Commanding Officer these days.


Very often young officers with less than two years of service are commanding companies! Even in the battalion headquarters, one officer ends up doing the job of three given the shortage. There is no time to interact with soldiers. In the old days, a game of football or hockey was the best way to get to know each other. Not any longer.


Moreover, soldiers no longer accept a wrong or unjustified command blindly. The old attitudes among some of the COs, of lording over ORs and expecting them not to protest/revolt must change.


It is ironic that while there is a shortage of over 12,000 officers in the army, the majority of staff postings are fully subscribed, but combat units have to do with bare minimum strength!


While there is no single reason that can be cited as THE cause for suicides and recent standoffs that have happened in quick succession, the army leadership will have to take a hard look at the disturbing developments and come up with quick but effective solutions.


Apart from increasing the intake of officers, the army leadership will have to take a conscious decision to post more officers in combat units and make do with shortages in the staff.


Reportedly, the new Military Secretary, Lieutenant General Ata Hasnain, a compassionate soldier himself, has been tasked with formulating a new human resource policy for the army. One hopes, he comes up with innovative ideas to nix this new menace in the initial stage.


No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal