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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 25 Sep 2012







http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120925/main1.htm
Govt moves closer to one rank, one pension; clears Rs 2,300-cr package
Cabinet nod for enhancement in family pension schemes for armed forces
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

How it will work

The new system will bridge the gap in the pension of pre-1.1.06 and post-1.1.06 JCO/OR retirees by determining the pension of pre-1.1.06 retirees on the basis of notional maximum for ranks and groups across the three Services as in the case of post-1.1.06 retirees
Weightage of qualifying service for Sepoy, Havaldar & Naik would go up by two years for pre and post-1.1.06 retirees
The pension of pre-1.1.06 Commissioned Officer pensioners would be stepped up with reference to the minimum of fitment table for the ranks instead of the minimum of pay band

7% more DA for Central staff

The Cabinet has approved a 7 per cent hike in dearness allowance for Central Government employees and pensioners. The move comes following rising inflation in double digits and recent hike in diesel prices and imposition of a cap on LPG cylinders. The DA has been raised from 65 per cent of basic pay to 72 per cent.

New Delhi, September 24
The Union Cabinet on Monday approved a Rs 2,300-crore package that will take retired armed forces personnel closer to their long-pending demand of one rank-one pension (OROP). It also cleared three other demands relating to ex-servicemen of the Army, Navy and the Air Force.

Defence Forces and Ex-Servicemen Associations have been demanding uniform pension to be paid to the Defence forces personnel retiring at the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement, and that any future enhancement in the rates of pension be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.

Implementation of the scheme will cost the exchequer a sum of Rs 2,300 crore in total and will benefit lakhs of servicemen, who unlike their civilian counterparts, retire early -- sometimes even in the forties -- making it harder for them to make both ends meet in the twilight years.

Today’s announcement is not OROP in the classic sense, but will bridge the gap between existing pensions and pensions under OROP. One possible reason why the government did not meet OROP in totality was that similar demands would have poured in from civilian employees.

The Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh okayed the scheme. In May this year, Defence Minister AK Antony, while replying to a debate in Parliament, said, “We are as near to the goal as possible and I will get maximum for the forces.”

The Cabinet also cleared the following: Enhancement of family pension for those who retired before 2006; dual family pension and family pension to mentally/physically-challenged children of armed forces personnel on marriage.

The move comes after the Prime Minister had on July 8 formed a committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth to study a series of pension and pay related issues of the forces and ex-servicemen that had been downgraded in the Sixth Pay Commission report of 2008. On the agenda of the committee was to study the following: Common pay-scale for in-service JCOs/Ors; initial pay-fixation of Lt Col/Col and Brigadier/equivalent; review and enhancement of grade pay; placing of all Lt Generals in HAG-plus scale; grant of non-functional upgradation (NFU) to armed forces personnel; one rank-one pension; enhancement of family pension; dual family pension and family pension to mentally/physically challenged children of armed forces personnel on marriage The Department of Expenditure will service the Committee. Only the demands of the ex-servicemen were taken up at today’s meeting.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120925/main6.htm
Gorshkov malfunction: No word from Russia yet
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 24
India is yet to hear from Russia on the exact nature of error reported in the boilers of sea-borne aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. The malfunction was reported in the warship almost two weeks ago.

The Russians have so far failed to convey the exact malfunction in the boilers or the time it will take to correct the flaws, say sources.

Two weeks ago, the 500-member Indian Navy team on board Admiral Gorshkov — still undergoing trials in the Barents Sea — had reported the problem with the warship’s boilers, especially when it hits top speeds nearing 30 knots (around 55 kmph), to the Naval headquarters. The problem lies with the insulation system of the boilers (eight of them powering four engine shafts).

The insulation system comprises a special ceramic called “fire-brick”, which helps maintain optimum temperature in the boilers.

The malfunction was noticed when the warship was being made to run full throttle at sea over a period of 10 days.

One possible reason for the lack of official Russian communication stems from the fact that the warship is still sailing and undergoing trials.

The warship is expected to return to Russian seaport of Severodvinsk in the White Sea, where it was refitted, early next month when it completes a 90-day trial.

Once it is back at the port, a detailed assessment will be made on the functioning of the boilers. Initial reports sent by the Indian crew suggest that three of the eight boilers are not performing at their optimum levels.

The malfunction notwithstanding, the warship continues to sail and undergo other trials like the landing and take-off of MiG-29K fighters from its deck. The sonar, radar and electronic warfare suite are also being tested.

Cloud over deadline

The renovated and refurbished $2.3 billion aircraft carrier is scheduled to be delivered on December 4 this year. Under the contract, a grace period of four months can be accorded.

Andrei Dyachkov, president, United Shipbuilding Corporation, was quoted by Russian news agency ‘Interfax’ as saying that repairs would push back the delivery by five months until May, 2013. The Indian side is skeptical of the media reports, as they cannot be taken as the official word on the condition of the warship, and will wait for the ship to first dock at the port, where engineers will estimate the nature of work.

Routine refit

The repair of the boiler insulation can be completed within the grace period of the contract - around four months or till April 2013 - as it does not require any external work. The change of boiler insulation is a routine refit carried out by the Navy workmen in Indian shipyards. For this task, the shipyard does not need to take out the boilers by cutting through the hull of the 44,550-ton warship.

$2.3-bn deal

India and Russia had signed a $2.3-billion (around Rs 12,650 crore in today’s valuation) contract for refitting an aircraft carrier of the erstwhile Soviet Navy. The first contract was signed in 2004 when no other country was ready to sell such a technology to India.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120925/main7.htm
Missing for 41 yrs, located in Oman, Army awaits its man
Ajay Banerjee & Anirudh Gupta


New Delhi/Ferozepur, Sept 24
The Army is learnt to have taken up the case of soldier Jaspal Singh, who has reportedly been traced to Oman, 41 years after he went missing in the battle at Hussainiwala during the Indo-Pak war. Through the Ministry of External Affairs, the Army has sough details of the missing soldier from the Indian Embassy in Oman.

Jaspal has been presumed dead by his family. His name occupies a pride of place as a martyr at the 15 Punjab Memorial plaque in Hussainiwala.

The soldier's name, however, does not figure on the list of 54 Prisoners of War that India has handed to Pakistan several times. Sources confirmed that an Armyman of the same name from the Ferozepore area has been missing since the 1971 war during operation 'Cactus Lily'.

Sources said Indian authorities had made some inquiries with their Oman counterparts afew years back, but it did not yield any result.

Jaspal Singh's 65-year-old wife Baljit Kaur said: "Though I have been in touch with POW families, I am not at all aware that my husband is alive." Baljit Kaur lives at Pamour village in Fatehgarh Sahib. She has been getting a special pension and other benefits. She says she has also written to the Army Chief requesting him to help her find her husband.

Kamaljit Singh, Jaspal's son, was three when his father went missing. "I do not remember much about my father," he said. "Ever since reports about his being alive in Oman surfaced, we have been trying to get in touch with various authorities," he said.

Sukhdev Singh of Ropar's Dubri Boormajra village almost ran into Jaspal Singh in Oman, where the soldier was sent for kitchen services in the island jail in August 2010. Jaspal approached him secretly and told him about his family.

Jaspal narrated how he and four soldiers of his regiment were captured by the Pakistani Army from the Ferozepur border on December 4, 1971.

He said he and five other POWs were kept in Pakistani jails for some years and then shifted to Oman’s Masira jail and elsewhere.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120925/nation.htm#6
Nod to 7% DA for Central govt staff
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 24
The Cabinet today approved a 7 per cent hike in dearness allowance for Central government employees and pensioners. The move comes following rising inflation in double digits and the recent hike in diesel prices and cap on LPG cylinders. The dearness allowance has been raised to 72 per cent from the current 65 per cent of basic pay.

The increase is in accordance with the accepted formula, which is based on the recommendations of the 6th Central Pay Commission.

The combined impact on the exchequer on account of both dearness allowance and dearness relief will be of the order of Rs 7,408.24 crore per annum and Rs 4,938.78 crore in the financial year 2012-2013 i.e. for a period of 8 months from July 2012 to February 2013.

The decision will benefit about 50 lakh employees and 30 lakh pensioners of the Central government. The current hike will be effective from July 1 and employees will be entitled to arrears from this date.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/army-general-says-us-refocus-on-asia-pacific-means-more-exercises-with-soldiers-from-region/2012/09/24/3cf85302-066d-11e2-9eea-333857f6a7bd_story.html
Army general says US refocus on Asia-Pacific means more exercises with soldiers from region

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii — The leader of U.S. Army forces in Asia and the Pacific says his soldiers will be able to conduct more exercises with other nations in the region, as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan and the military refocuses its attention.

Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski, the commander of U.S. Army Pacific, said he’d like U.S. soldiers to undertake more exercises with counterparts from nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia and India.


The Army will also be able to have more active duty soldiers, instead of reserves, participate in exercises with allies such as Japan.

“We’ve been engaged, obviously, in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that’s where we’ve had to focus — for all the right reasons,” Wiercinski told The Associated Press in an interview at his headquarters in Hawaii. “But now that we’re having this opportunity, we can get back into the Pacific with our partners here.”

The Army has 70,000 soldiers and 12,000 civilians at installations in the Asia-Pacific region.

U.S. military leaders and diplomats have increasingly emphasized the importance of Asia and the Pacific as the region’s economies grow and gain clout.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stressed last week that the U.S. pivot to the Pacific isn’t aimed at containing or threatening China, which now has the world’s second-largest economy after the U.S. But Washington has criticized China for lacking transparency while it has rapidly modernized its military and boosted military spending.

The Pentagon in January issued a new national defense strategy declaring that the U.S. would “rebalance” toward the region, noting U.S. economic and security interests are inextricably linked to developments in the area.

Examples of the strategy are slowly emerging.

Last year, the U.S. and Australia announced an agreement for up to 2,500 U.S. Marines to rotate through a joint military training hub in the northern Australia city of Darwin. The Navy next year plans to begin deploying a littoral combat ship — a new type of vessel that can operate closer to shore than other ships — to Singapore.

The Air Force, meanwhile, plans to make greater use of airfields and bombing ranges in the Australian Outback.

Wiercinski said the Army doesn’t want to set up new bases. Instead, he spoke of soldiers training with other nations to get a feel for cultures, terrain and interaction with U.S. allies.

“We’re not talking about putting bases in other countries or a permanent presence anywhere,” he said. “We’re talking about rotating — 30, 40 days at a pop.”

Wiercinski pointed to the current deployment of a few dozen soldiers to Tonga for a weeklong disaster relief exercise as the type of drill likely to become more prevalent.

In the drill, which also involves Australia, France and New Zealand, Tonga calls the U.S. for help after being hit by a major earthquake and tsunami. The Army sends soldiers to the Pacific island nation within 24 hours to assess the situation and report what help Tonga needs.

“Just that, the ability to do that, demonstrates our capability, shows the Tongan government and all the neighbors in the area that we’re backing up what we say we can do,” Wiercinski said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/280816/defence-ministry-buy-scanners-screen.html
Defence Ministry to buy scanners to screen trucks
New Delhi, Sep 24, 2012, DHNS:

Aiming to check illegal entry of banned materials in India, the Defence Ministry on Monday approved buying full body scanners for trucks making cross-country trips.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) under the chairmanship of Defence Minister A K Antony on Monday approved buying two such scanners for trucks at a cost of Rs 60 crore, said a spokesperson of the ministry. The scanning equipment is required by the security forces to be deployed at places in Jammu and Kashmir where cross-border trade routes have been opened across the Line of Control.

The Army sought to procure the two scanners to scan cargo trucks, including driver’s cabin, without unloading and unpacking the cargo.

The aim is to avoid illegal transshipment of restricted items like arms, ammunition and chemicals. No other big-ticket deals were on the agenda of the DAC, which gave its nod to buy a large number of components for surveillance and e-warfare projects.

http://www.financialexpress.com/news/blacklisting-firms-will-hit-armys-modernisation-plans/1007214/
‘Blacklisting firms will hit army’s modernisation plans’
New Delhi: The world’s largest arms importer is struggling to ramp up its defence procurement process. The recent spate of graft charges in military buys and the absence of a system to fix corrupt practices has slowed down India’s efforts to modernise its armed forces, feel experts.

The year saw three major foreign defence firms banned on corruption charges. Germany’s Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD), Singapore Technologies Kinetics (STK) and Israeli Munition Industries (IMI) were blacklisted for 10 years.

While there is still confusion if the ban debars only one subsidiary or the entire group from defence dealings with India, the move, experts said, is keeping serious players away.

Experts feel indiscriminate blacklisting of foreign defence giants would limit the options before the Indian government for future acquisitions and instead of competitive bidding, the armed forces would be forced to go for government-to-government purchases, as seen in the case of Ultra Light Howitzers (ULH). Instead of blacklisting suppliers, a heavy penalty or a similar measure would be apt to fix the current mess, they said.

“Blacklisting of companies or cancellation of defence deals are certainly going to impact negatively on the on-going military modernisation process, which has been equipment-driven for some time and likely to be so in future. If the number of blacklisting or cancellation of deals increases in future, then in many instances, India would be hard-pressed to opt for government-to-government negotiations or adopt fast-track procedures for arms purchases, which would cast serious doubts on the defence ministry’s abilities on managing competitive bidding,” Deba R Mohanty, chairman and CEO, INDICIA Research & Advisory, told FE.

Sample the case of procurement of L-70 guns for the army. There are four or five firms that make these guns. The best gun, according to the army, is made by Rheinmetall Air Defence(RAD), Zurich—one of the companies blacklisted. So, it makes procurement difficult, said experts.

STK was participating in tenders for the supply of 155mm/52 calibre towed guns, 155mm/39 calibre ultralight Howitzer guns and close quarter carbines. Interestingly, it was the sole bidder for the ultralight Howitzers. Suspension of dealings with STK has adversely affected army’s modernisation plans. India had to approach the US for emergent supply of M777 155MM Ultra Light Howitzers under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) procedure, a government-to-government deal.

Facing a critical shortage of ammunition for army’s fleet of T-90 and T-72 tanks after the blacklisting an Israeli firm, the defence ministry is now looking to procure these shells from Russia. The Israeli company was to construct three plants for producing bimodular charges at Nalanda Ordnance Factory in Bihar. Work on the factory to manufacture heavy calibre ammunition for the Bofors 155 mm Howitzers started in November 2001.

Crores were spent on setting up the main factory. The production, however, has not commenced to date. By blacklisting IMI of Israel and the Denel of South Africa in 2005, India has harmed its own interests, experts said. The Israeli firm was also the supplier of the FSAPDS (Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot) used by T-90 and T-72 tanks. Now, Russia has been approached for supplying these shells, sources said.

Experts pointed out that blacklisting of firms has also delayed many procurements. “It would be really difficult for the ministry to approve many of the contracts in a timely manner, resulting in delays or cancellation of contracts. This is certainly not an ideal situation. But, this happens primarily because India has largely been unable to strengthen its institutional mechanisms to deal with corrupt practices. Blacklisting seems an extreme example in the current context. A heavy penalty or a similar punishment could serve as a deterrent,” Mohanty added.

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