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Monday, 10 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 10 Sep 2012

Mere inquiry cannot hold up promotion, rules AFT

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service


Chandigarh, September 9

The Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has held that promotion of defence personnel cannot be held up on the basis that some investigation or inquiry against them is pending, unless due cognisance of the same has been taken and the matter is at the charge-sheet stage.


After examining the applicable policy, the tribunal’s Bench comprising Justice Rajesh Chandra and Air Marshall SC Mukul ruled this week that pendency of investigation or an inquiry does not result in a bar on promotion unless on the due date of promotion the investigation has culminated and cognisance has been taken on the same by the competent authority for taking action against the delinquent.


Re-emphasising the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Union of India vs Jankiraman in which it was held that a promotion can only be denied if a chargesheet or charge memo has already been issued against a government employee, the AFT held the non-promotion of a Havildar to the rank of Naib Subedar as illegal and directed the Army to promote him to the rank of Naib Subedar.


In 2011, Havildar Sandeep Kumar Tiwari of the Corps of Engineers was reprimanded and fined for causing loss to personnel of his unit due to incorrect preparation of the pay summary. He was later promoted to the rank of Naib Subedar in February 2012 which was to take effect in April 2012. However before his promotion, another Court of Inquiry was ordered for the same offence by an engineer brigade for which he already stood punished and even his promotion was not given effect on the basis of the pendency of the second Court of Inquiry.


The NCO then approached the AFT on the ground that he was being probed again for the same offence for which he stood punished and that his promotion could not be held back due to mere pendency of a Court of Inquiry.

Chinese minister made another bid to give cash as gift

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, September 9

Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie had planned to do an encore of his act of giving cash as gift to Indian Air Force pilots, but was advised against doing so by Indian officials. The minister was all set to give out the cash gift to a military band playing at a banquet hosted by Defence Minister AK Antony.


The Chinese Minister was on a five-day visit to India from September 2 to 6.

Discontent in armed forces

Pushing them too much not in national interest

by Air Marshal R. S. Bedi (retd)


A few decades ago a senior former bureaucrat wrote in his book that it was not possible for the armed forces to stage a coup in India. The argument was simply based on the fact that Indian society was a complex body comprising different castes, religions, languages and ethnicities. No General, however popular, could be sure of total loyalty and backing of so diverse a force as the Indian armed forces. He was perhaps right. Despite this, the fear in the corridors of power continued to persist, for many a fledgling democracy was falling prey to ambitions of men in uniform. There lay the genesis of the process of downsizing and subordinating the Indian armed forces.


At present, the state of affairs in the armed forces is somewhat disturbing. The cumulative effect of years of neglect of the forces has begun to manifest. Today’s soldier is educated, conscious of his status and standing. His aspirations are growing with the fast-changing environment around him. This, perhaps, is the main reason for repeated incidents of indiscipline in the Army. The men were never so verbose and openly daring as they are now in expressing their dissatisfaction. The palpable resentment of the mass of the forces against the government doesn’t augur well for the future.


Year after year, the armed forces have been given a raw deal. They are downgraded with regular periodicity and denuded of power due to them. Enough has been said about their dwindling status. Even the para-military forces seem to be overtaking them in many respects.


The bureaucracy has tightened its grip to the extent that orders from the highest in the government establishment are either diluted or not implemented in proper spirit. Realising deep discontent in the armed forces in regard to the Sixth Pay Commission award, the Prime Minister ordered a high-powered committee to look into the armed forces’ grievances. The bureaucracy got away with impunity without delivering. The problem continues to simmer. There is mounting discontentment over the government’s inability to set things right. The political leadership that should, in fact, be the epicentre of power is gradually becoming ineffective.


The retired community, less shackled with rules and regulations, is far more verbose and has even resorted to rallies and dharnas to express their dissatisfaction. They surrendered their hard-earned medals to their Commander-in-Chief to protest against the step-motherly treatment meted out to them. The President showed scant regard for this desperate act of the soldiers.


Surprisingly, even the para-military forces are better placed and better looked after by their Home Ministry than the armed forces by their Defence Ministry. In the case of the latter, the Services first struggle with their own ministry to get past it to secure government approval for anything that it needs. The reason not generally known for the para-military forces to be under the Home Ministry instead of the Defence Ministry in itself assures them somewhat better treatment. They don’t have to fight with their own ministry as do the armed forces.


The armed forces are not in any major decision-making loop, not even in regard to national security. This is when the country is on the verge of completing its nuclear triad and acquiring strategic weapons. Presently, no uniformed personnel serve in the Ministry of Defence despite the recommendations made by various committees in the past to make decision-making more informed and rational. Many a committee, including the one on Kargil, has made such recommendations but none has been implemented by the all-powerful bureaucracy. It’s a pity that despite the highly specialised staff available at the Services headquarters, the political establishment relies totally on the Ministry of Defence civil servants drawn from diverse backgrounds. Since the Services have a limited access to the political establishment, they are unable to make any worthwhile contribution to matters of national importance. The Chiefs can hardly meet the Prime Minister. Meeting the Defence Minister is not a routine affair either.


The plight of the soldier has not moved the conscience of the government. He is taken for granted and tasked to perform what his civilian compatriots prefer not to do or perhaps consider it too dangerous to stake their lives. He is killed almost every day which is just a matter of statistics for the government. Only his family sheds tears for they will have to struggle for the rest of their lives; first with the bureaucracy to get what is due to them and then try to subsist with growing responsibilities and scarce resources. His status and emoluments are perhaps among the lowest in the government hierarchy. Yet he does not come out in the streets to protest. But now the discontentment is no more confined to whispers. It is getting louder by the day. Questions are asked but unfortunately the answers are not forthcoming. How long will the mandarins in the North and South Blocks ignore the writing on the wall?


The military leadership has been sounding the government at various levels but to no avail. In a rare display of political magnanimity, the Defence Minister wrote to the Prime Minister a couple of months ago with an implicit warning in regard to the deteriorating state of affairs in the armed forces. The Prime Minister acted ‘promptly’ and asked the bureaucracy, the same people who are largely responsible for creating the mess, to look into it. The bureaucrats, as is their wont, refused to include representatives from the armed forces whose problems they are supposed to resolve. Obviously, one doesn’t expect much from them in the absence of their voice being heard directly. In the end, some cosmetic changes will be brought about, but the problem will linger on.


Today’s Indian Army is no more the same as it was a decade ago. To take them for granted without responding to their genuine needs would be a serious mistake. They are no more reticent and subdued. At least, three cases have been reported in the recent past of revolts against officers. It may be the tip of the iceberg. In any case, it is a reflection of deteriorating standards and morale of men in uniform. Whatever be the reasons for dissatisfaction — pay, pension, food, facilities or status — once the intensity of feelings reaches the critical stage, the consequences may be serious.


The naval mutiny in 1946 was led by signalman M.S. Khan and Telegraphist Madan Singh as a strike in protest against the general conditions of service, inadequate facilities and poor quality of food. The revolt spread fast throughout the British India from Karachi to Calcutta and ultimately came to involve nearly 20,000 sailors on 78 ships and 20 shore establishments. So was the 1857 mutiny inspired by an ordinary soldier called Pandey in Meerut that soon escalated into other mutinies and civilian rebellions?


The Indian Air Force too was gradually sucked in the naval strike. And so was the Indian Army. The NCOs defied the orders from their British superiors. In Madras and Poona, the British garrison faced a revolt in the ranks of Indian Army. In fact, widespread rioting took place from Calcutta to Karachi.


Even the British Air Force revolted against the conditions of service in January, 1946. The mutiny began in Karachi and spread to sixty RAF stations in India, Ceylon and Singapore. Lord Wavel, then Viceroy of India, stated that the action of the British airmen inspired both Indian Navy and Air Force mutinies. Revolts and rebellions are not necessarily led by the officer class; in fact, often by men whose only concern is their conditions of service and welfare.


Today the discontent is far more pronounced than ever before. Whether it is the lackadaisical attitude of the government or a wilful decision is hard to say. But it would be a gross mistake to ignore the writing on the wall and the lessons of history so soon.


The writer is a former Director- General, Defence Planning Staff.

Army combat display thrills audience

PUNE: Personnel of the Indian Army recreated a war-like situation and displayed military combat skills as the main attraction of the Southern Command Gold Cup, a grade III race, held on the second Sunday of September every year at the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), Pune.


Before the combat demonstrations, two paramotorists held aerial demonstrations in a green and a blue glider saluting the public with much elan. The team of the army paramotorists has conducted a Kashmir-Kanyakumari expedition covering 3,330 kms in seven days. The paramotorists have also flown from one Lakshadweep island to the other in the past.


The aerial performance was followed by a drill specifically designed to show the synergy between the air and ground operations. Four armymen slithered down a rope from a helicopter to the centre of the race course. Specially modified vehicles then came on to the field with men in camouflages who assisted the soldiers in combating the 'enemies'.


Later, artillery weapons that were used during the Kargil war by India were brought on while four tanks proceeded towards the 'battlefield'. One of the tanks, named 'Bhishma', weighing 48 tonnes, stood in the centre of the field and generated an ash-grey smoke leaving the audience thrilled.


A rod-like formation was made by soldiers to make the final assault. They maneuvered the situation with skill and targeted their 'enemy' to accomplish their mission.


The combat power display exhibited the potential of the Indian Army. To conclude the demonstration, a fly past was conducted by four helicopters of the army aviation carrying the national flag, the Indian Army flag and the Southern Command flag.


The keenly contested Southern Command Gold Cup race brought the curtains down on the splendid display of arms and sportsmanship. The Gold Cup for this year was lifted by 'Star of Gibraltar' and was ridden by A Sandesh. Lt Gen A K Singh gave away the trophy to the winner.

Army, DRDO test Pinaka rocket system in Pokhran

JAISALMER: The development trials of Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher system has begun at the Chandan firing range in Pokhran on Sunday. Officials of DRDO and Army, who are conducting the trials, said the tests would continue for the next two days.


Pinaka, a state-of-the-art weapon system for destroying areas of enemy troop concentration, communication centres, air terminal complexes, gun/rocket locations etc, has been developed by DRDO. High operational mobility, flexibility and accuracy are the major characteristics, which give the weapon system an edge in modern artillery warfare.


"The rocket system is meant to neutralise a large geographical area with rapid firing of rockets. With a strike range of 40 km, Pinaka could fire a salvo of 12 rockets in 44 seconds. It was also put into field testing for assessing its capability during the Kargil conflict," said an Army officer.


"The ongoing trials at Pokhran field firing range in western Rajasthan by Army and scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation was for advanced stage of development of the weapon system," said Ravi Gupta, DRDO spokesperson.


The trials will continue and the weapon is expected to enter service this year, he added.


"Its quick reaction time and high rate of fire give it an edge to the army during low-intensity war. The system's capability to incorporate several types of warheads makes it deadly for the enemy," said defence spokesperson S D Goswami.

Army jawans warned against information technology threats

FAIZABAD: General Commanding Officer (GOC) of Madhya Bharat area Lt Gen R S Pradhan visited Faizabad Army Station on Friday and apprised defence personnel of the threat posed to national security by misuse of the fast-developing information technology.


Pradhan warned that the nation's enemies may be targeting the country's defence through this new and potent weapon. An army spokesperson said almost all military personnel have shut down their accounts from Facebook and other social networking sites.


"We are also closely monitoring our communication equipment such as mobile phones, so that no loopholes may develop in our system," he said.


During his visit, Pradhan also met retired Army jawans and war widows. He took note of their grievances and issued orders to the authorities concerned to provide immediate relief. More than 1500 ex-servicemen from different districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh had been brought to the station for direct interaction with the GOC.


Pradhan also visited the military hospital and army supply depot to get first-hand information about the units.


Talking to TOI, Lt Gen Pradhan said a special drive is being conducted by the Army to meet ex-army jawans and war widows and address their grievances.



SPO shot dead, jawan injured in militant attack

Our Correspondent


Sopore, September 8

A special police official (SPO) was killed and a Territorial Army (TA) personnel critically injured in a suspected militant attack on the outskirts of Sopore town today.


The SPO Reyaz Ahmed Tantary and TA jawan Tariq Ahmed Mir are residents of Gundbrat Kalan in Sopore.


Reports said gunmen fired on the duo from point blank range around 7 pm. Two bullets hit Reyaz near his left ear and he died on the spot.


Critically injured Tariq was rushed to sub-district hospital in Sopore, from where he was shifted to SKIMS, Srinagar.

CRPF man killed in Guwahati blast

Bijay Sankar Bora

Tribune News Service


Guwahati, September 8

One CRPF personnel was killed and seven others, including three CRPF men, injured in a grenade blast near an Assam State Transport Corporation bus stop at Paltan Bazaar in the heart of the city at 7.40 pm today.


Kamrup (Metropolitan) district Deputy Commissioner Ashutosh Agnihotri said that the grenade was hurled at CRPF jawans on duty in the crowded area. The slain CRPF man was identified as Bhabani Singh. The injured were rushed to Guwahati Medical College Hospital.


The anti-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Assam is suspected to be behind the attack.

As Dragon multiplies its war toys, India plays catch-up

n 2009, the Indian Army carried out top-secret war games — codenamed Divine Matrix — aimed at analysing China’s threat to the country. The conclusion: China could attack India by 2017, and there was a possibility of Pakistan stirring the pot by trying to trouble India at the same



Three years later, while there are no immediate signs of hostility on either border, a rare visit by China’s defence minister to India last week has thrown into focus the latter’s military capabilities to defend itself in a volatile neighbourhood, where India has fought five wars since Independence.


While Beijing hailed General Liang Guanglie’s visit to India — the first by a Chinese defence minister in eight years — as “successful”, our military experts have cautioned against taking the eyes off the ball on the security implications of China’s rapidly modernising military.  


Pakistan, they say, is not even seeded in the game. “We have adequate deterrence against Pakistan, but the policy of dissuasion against China needs to be upgraded to credible deterrence so that Beijing can’t spring a surprise. We are not quite there yet,” says strategic affairs expert Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (retd). 

With its defence outlay for 2012 officially pegged at $106.41 billion ( Rs. 5.85 lakh crore), but actual military spending suspected to be twice as much, China is buffing up its war stores with strategic missiles, space-based assets, aircraft carriers, fighter jets and warships.


China’s focus has shifted from land forces to air force and navy to expand its military reach.


India’s defence outlay of $35.09 billion ( Rs. 1.93 lakh crore) pales before China’s military spending. Islamabad, meanwhile, will spend $6 billion ( Rs. 33,000 crore) on defence this year, not factoring in American aid.


India hasn’t ignored the possibility of a two-front war at a time when Beijing’s strategic intentions remain unclear.


Defence minister AK Antony told Parliament in May that his ministry would seek an additional outlay of $8.18 billion ( Rs. 45,000 crore) from the Centre, factoring in “changed threat perception”, a euphemism for the possibility of China and Pakistan coming together.


If such a scenario were to crop up, the Indian strategy would revolve around defeating Pakistan and holding China, experts said.


The proposed increase will take India’s defence expenditure from 1.9% of the GDP to 2.35%. The country’s defence spending averaged 1.59% of the GDP from 1947 to 1962, when our army suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Chinese.


Experts have argued India’s defence spending ought to be around 3% of the GDP to keep up with China’s military build-up.



New Delhi is pumping billions into fighting machines such as stealth jets, modern fighter, aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines, submarine hunter planes, special operations aircraft and attack helicopters. But the pace of induction needs to be sped up.


Former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Major says, “One-party autocracy is the secret behind China’s swift military upgrade. Democracies will have their delays.”




China is hard to beat in terms of sheer numbers. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) reportedly operates upwards of 3,500 aircraft, though much of the inventory consists of outdated designs. In comparison, the IAF has a fleet of 600-plus fighters.


But the PLAAF is fast ridding itself of obsolete platforms from the 1960s and inducting fighters such as Sukhoi-30s and JF-17 Thunder light combat aircraft.


“China may be upgrading rapidly but let’s not place it on a huge pedestal. The IAF can hold its own in a head-to-head comparison,” says Major.


The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), too, is numerically superior to the Indian Navy. Compared to our 135 warships, the Chinese fleet has close to 400 vessels, but the PLAN lacks robust blue-water capabilities to deploy forces far away from its shores.



China is aggressively working on expanding its footprint in the Indian Ocean region, which the Indian Navy regards as its own backyard. The PLAN’s first aircraft carrier Varyag — bought from Russia in 1998 — is currently undergoing sea trials.


China eventually wants to deploy four to five carriers, an ambition that symbolises its growing maritime appetite.


Former navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta says, “We currently have an edge but the equation may change in a decade when the PLAN stabilises its integral air elements. They have also made significant advances in building new destroyers. We can’t afford to fall behind in fleet modernisation.”


There are other flanks that need to be covered as well. The army has not bought a single new artillery gun since the Bofors scandal exploded in the late 1980s. The $4 billion ( Rs. 22,000 crore) artillery modernisation plan has failed to take off.


Kanwal warns: “Firepower is a serious handicap. Also, we don’t have a mountain strike corps, limiting our capability to take the war deep into Chinese territory.”

Hand over Army to me, I'll fix the nation: Thackeray

Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Saturday claimed that if he was given charge of the Indian Army, he would solve all problems and set things right in the country within a month. In the second of his

our-part interview published in party mouthpiece 'Dopaharka Saamna' on Saturday

Thackeray also warned that he would not 'spare' Muslim fundamentalists who fomented trouble in the country.


"Give me control of the army. I will show you miracles and set everything right within a month. Just hand over the army to me," Thackeray, known as 'Sena-pati' claimed.


When he was told that his party, Shiv Sena, was an 'army', Thackeray rued the fact that it was 'unarmed'. He claimed his army had only saffron flags. "Yet, we have so much influence, but I don't want only that, hoardings, banners and drums," the 86-year-old leader said.


Thackeray claimed that the violence at Azad Maidan of Aug 11, when Muslim groups were protesting the alleged attacks on Muslims in Myanmar and the riots in Assam, was 'pre-planned', just like many other such incidents in the past.


"After Babri Mosque demolition (of December 6, 1992), they (Muslims) started riots in Mumbai. Even during the Godhra carnage, they locked up three bogies of Sabarmati Express and burnt people, women and children, alive. Similarly, the Mumbai violence (of August 2012) was pre-planned," Thackeray asserted.


He said that the incident was roundly condemned by the Shiv Sena and his nephew Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, but asked, "where were the people who paralysed Parliament," (referring to the Sena's ally Bharatiya Janata Party).


However, Thackeray warned that he would not 'spare' the perpetrators of violence and fanatic Muslims from Pakistan or Bangladesh who are creating trouble in the country, at least in Maharashtra.


"When I come into my element ('josh'), I will not allow a single fanatic Muslim to live in Maharashtra, and wherever we have party branches, right up to Jammu & Kashmir," Thackeray roared through the pages of the party mouthpiece.


He repeated his party's old stance of not permitting Pakistani cricketers to play in India. "I have never changed my stand (on this) and will never deviate from it," he declared.


Turning attention to Bihar, the Sena chief wondered why (Bihar) chief minister Nitish Kumar should get angry over the Maharashtra Police action of nabbing a criminal from that state.


"In our country, laws are made for whom, the people or dangerous terrorists? He should first think of how such terrorists could create trouble instead of raising a hue and cry over Maharashtra Police action," Thackeray advised.


Indicating that his son Uddhav and nephew Raj were coming together, Thackeray said that the media ('pimps and agents') find problems even with this.


"Now that the two cousins are getting closer, they (media) have started devising ways to again separate them, sow differences between them and again make them fight," Thackeray claimed.

Indian Army wins arrears battle: SC asks Centre to pay Rs. 1,600 crore

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Government to re-fix the pay scale of Army officers affected by the Fourth Pay Commission which would now entail a payout of Rs. 1,600 crore to the exchequer.


The order will benefit a large number of officers who were in the rank of Captain to Brigadier in the army and equivalent ranks in the Air Force and Navy, between January 1, 1986 and January 1,2006, according to counsel Aishwaraya Bhatti, representing the officers.


The apex court also directed the Centre to pay interest at the rate of 6 per cent from January 1, 2006, to all the officers, whether or not they have filed any petition before any of the High Courts or Benches of Armed Forces Tribunal, within 12 weeks from today.


The bench  directed that all pending petitions before any of the High Courts or Benches of Armed Forces Tribunal, by similarly-placed officers, will be governed by this order.


A three-judge bench of justices- R M Lodha, T S Thakur and  Anil R Dave, passed the order while  dismissing an application filed by the Centre for recall and modification of March 8, 2010 order.


By the March, 2010 order, the apex court had agreed with the reasoning of the Kerala High Court in the case of Major Dhanapalan and directed proper fixation of rank pay from January 1,1986 and interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum.


The officers had contended that there was a wrong fixation of rank pay awarded by the Fourth Pay Commission in which the element of rank pay was introduced for all ranks from Captain to Brigadier in the Army and their equivalent ranks in the Air Force and Navy, in addition to pay in the integrated scale.

However, at the time of fixation, the rank pay was first deducted to arrive at the total emoluments and  thereafter added after fixation in the integrated scale. This ensured that the final fixation of the total pay of the officer came on a par with his civilian counterpart and the edge was neutralised during fixation.

Portable telemedicine boon for army

Here is some good news for the defence forces deployed at border outposts in snow clad glaciers, deep forests, deserts etc., as well as those on board naval ships, in far off deep seas. The Defence Research and Development Organisation has announced that the Rugged and Portable Tele-medicine System developed by Defence Bio-engineering and Electro-medical Laboratory, Bengaluru (DEBEL) is in advanced stages of acceptance by the Indian Army and Navy.


“User trials have been successful in sub-zero temperatures and received well by senior officials of the Indian Army and Navy. Both the forces have expressed keen interest for speedy induction of Telemedicine System into the forces, while Indian Air Force has also applauded the same,” said the DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta. He further disclosed that although developed chiefly for the armed forces, Telemedicine System may be within reach of civilian populace in remote places of India soon, just like various technologies developed by DRDO in the past has found use in civilian population as well.


“Telemedicine system will be cost effective and capable of using multiple communication channels including audio-video based on multiple links like various satellites for data and image transfer etc. Within no time, the system would link all field areas, base and command hospitals with tertiary link being the Army Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi for expert and specialised medical intervention,” Mr Gupta said.


The system would enable doctors and paramedics posted in forward areas or on-board ships to seek and follow instructions from expert doctors sitting in command hospitals or R&R while transmitting required physiological parameters of the patient like ECG, BP, heart rate, temperature etc., using Data Acquisition System for in-teractive communication.


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