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Monday, 10 December 2012

From Today's Papers - 10 Dec 2012
LeT camps’ visuals given to Pak court as proof
Islamabad, December 9
Photographs of Lashkar-e-Taiba training camps in Sindh and motorboats used by the 10 terrorists who attacked Mumbai are among the evidence presented to an anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of seven Pakistanis charged with involvement in the 2008 strikes.

Officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) presented the evidence to anti-terrorism court Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman during a hearing conducted behind closed doors in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi yesterday.

The FIA officials presented photographs of the LeT training camps and motorboats to the judge.

The motorboats and other items, currently in the FIA custody, were recovered in January 2009, media reports said today.

The articles presented by the FIA officials were made part of the judicial record after an initial examination by the judge.

FIA officials told the court that the terrorists involved in the attacks trained in the Arabian Sea on boats were named Al-Hussaini, Al-Atta and Al-fouz. They also trained in LeT camps in Mirpur Sakro area of Thatta district in Sindh and Yousaf Goth and Landhi areas of Karachi, the officials said.

One of the seven suspects currently on trial, Hammad Amin Sadiq, had confessed that the 10 attackers had been kept in the training camps before being sent to Mumbai, the officials said.

Sadiq acted as a facilitator for the attackers while they were in Sindh, the officials said. Among the seven Pakistani suspects is also Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the LeT's operations commander.

Special Prosecutor Chaudhry Zulifqar Ali had told PTI yesterday that the FIA officials recorded their statements and provided details of 350 articles found in the LeT training camps, including life jackets and a “pink foam” or pink coloured packaging material.

The “pink foam” has emerged as a crucial piece of evidence in investigations of the Mumbai attacks on both sides of the border.

Indian investigators found samples of the material at three sites where attackers planted bombs in Mumbai in November 2008.

Samples of the “pink foam” were also found in the boat used by the attackers to travel to Mumbai and in a rucksack used by Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker who was hanged in an Indian jail last month.

In Pakistan, sleuths found the pink foam at the LeT training camps in Sindh.

Special Prosecutor Ali requested the court yesterday for an early disposal of the high-profile case, saying it had been unnecessarily delayed. — PTI
Services to get seven new officer selection boards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 9
Even as the armed forces continue to battle severe officer shortage and find it hard to attract quality personnel to join its ranks, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is setting up seven additional Service Selection Boards (SSBs) to assess candidates desirous of becoming officers.

Under plans approved by the MoD, the Navy will get three more SSBs, while the Army and the Air Force will be get two more each.

At present, there are a total of 18 selection boards for all three Services, which include 11 for the Army, four for the Air Force and three for the Navy.

The SSBs for the Army are located at Allahabad, Bhopal and Bangalore with those for the Air Force being in Varanasi, Dehradun, Mysore and Gandhinagar. The Navy’s selection boards are located at Bangalore, Bhopal and Coimbatore. Each city has several selection boards.

Candidates seeking a commission as officers in the armed forces are detailed for assessment by the SSBs after having qualified in the written examination held by the Union Public Service Commission or after fulfilling other eligibility criteria as stipulated by the government.

The assessment is spread over five days to determine a candidate’s “officer-like qualities” and his capability to be an effective group leader under challenging situations through a series of personality, psychological and intelligence tests.

Sources said that the move to increase the number of selection boards was initiated to reduce the pressure on the existing boards after some additional entry schemes, especially for the technical streams, were introduced.

Though lakhs of candidates pass through the SSBs every year and there is no dearth of the number of aspirants, the Services are not attracting the best among the youth as a career in the armed forces no longer seems to be lucrative given the opportunities and remuneration available in the civilian sector.

The shortage of officers has has impacted operational preparedness, man-management and officer-men relationship.

Battling acute shortage

The Army is short of 11,500 officers in the junior and middle rungs, while the Navy and Air Force are short of 1,606 and 1,342 officers respectively
Parliament ready for debate on intrusions by China
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, December 9
Keeping in mind the fears over growing military prowess of China and a century-old unresolved boundary dispute, Parliament is all set to discuss the entire gamut of relations with China.

The crucial verbal commitment in this regard was made on the floor of the Lok Sabha on December 5. However, it was lost in the din of the heated atmosphere due to the foreign direct investment (FDI) debate that day.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said: "The government is ready for discussion under rule 193 on China". The Congress leader was responding to demands made by the BJP MP's and also Samajwadi Party boss Mulayam Singh just minutes before the mandatory question hour was to end on December 5. The BJP MPs were on their feet to protest what they termed an incomplete and insufficient reply to a question on China posed by Lalji Tandon, MP from Lucknow.

Tandon had asked the External Affairs Ministry about "incidents of infiltrations by the Chinese Army into the Indian Border…whether the government does not perceive the infiltration by the Chinese Army into Demchok area in Ladakh as dangerous to the security of the country".

Tandon lodged a protest on the floor of the House, saying the reply of External Affairs Minister Salmaan Khurshid was not enough. Khurshid tried to explain that there were differing perceptions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and there has been no agreement between India and China on demarcation of the border.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, herself a former Indian foreign services officer, took the mood of the MPs in mind and suggested: "I think the House is agitated over it. If you send me a notice, we could have a discussion".

The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha allow, under Rule 193, any member desirous of raising discussion on a matter of urgent public importance may give notice in writing. It has to be accompanied by an explanatory note stating reasons for raising discussion on the matter and be supported by signatures of at least two other MPs.

In the past there have been questions in Parliament on Chinese transgressions along the disputed LAC. In May this year, the Rajya Sabha was informed how differing perceptions of the LAC between India and China has led to a whopping 505 transgressions by Chinese soldiers since January 2010.

Indian officials explain 'transgressions', saying, since India and China do not agree on the LAC, hence soldiers on either side patrol up to the point they perceive as the LAC. Soldiers on both sides show a banner asking the other party to withdraw when the LAC is crossed. Despite the underlying tension, the process of withdrawing by both sides keeps a lid on the situation along the tense frontier between the two edgy neighbours.
IAF to have midair refuelling capability on all combat aircraft

New Delhi, December 9
In a major step to increase its range and operational capabilities, the IAF has decided tbat all its aircraft and helicopters will have the capability for midair refuelling.

Disclosing this, the IAF vice chief, Air Marshal DC. Kumaria, said at the Fifth National Seminar on Aerospace Technologies (N-SAT) recently that the decision applies to all its current and future acquisitions - whether combat jets, transport aircraft, helicopters or other assets.

Only aircraft with this capability will be considered for acquisition in future, he observed adding that technology and strategic requirements have evolved over time and that the IAF decision is in line with the current thinking in military aviation worldwide.

The N-SAT series on military aviation is held by India Strategic defence magazine ( annually. It lays emphasis on a building technological edge for the Indian armed forces, and significantly, most participants agreed that if an air force was not thinking of 20 years hence, they it is already behind the times.

In the late 1970s for instance, Air Marshal Kumaria pointed out, the IAF actually sought removal of aerial refueling plumbing from the Anglo-French Jaguar aircraft even though they were meant for a deep penetration strike role. Today, whether it is the long-range aircraft or helicopters, aerial refueling capability is a key requirement.

It may be noted that IAF's current acquisition line includes Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, Boeing C-17 Globemaster, Embraer 145 for electronic radars, Agusta Westland's VIP role AW 101 helicopters, new AWACS and midair refuellers (Airbus Military MRTT or Russian IL 78) , Rafale fighter jets, and Boeing's Chinook and Apache helicopters. The last four items are under various stages of procurement.

The existing Mirage 2000s, Sukhoi Su-30 MKIs and Jaguars already have this capability while on the Mig 29s, its plumbing will be activated during upgrades for midair refuelling.

According to defence analyst Air Marshal (retd) Ashok Goel, the inflight refuelling capability is standard worldwide now and it would, in fact. cost more to remove it than to have it while acquiring and inducting new aircraft.

All NATO and US aerial assets, for instance, are equipped with midair or in-flight refuelling capability and in the Gulf and Afghanistan operations, aircraft were able to conduct multi-mission strikes during single flights. "This in-flight refuelling capability," Air Marshal Goel told India Strategic, "literally has far-reaching implications, enabling modern aircraft to cover long distances 360 degrees."

Thanks to the IAF's Il-78 midair refuellers, its Su-30 combat aircraft have gone up to the US in 2008 to take part in the multi-national Red Flag exercise, and will again do so in 2013, he said.

It may be noted that midair refuelling capability will also be on board the Army and the Navy combat assets as the Chief of Staff Committee already has a Tri-Service agreement on common parameters for same and similar systems needed by them.

The committee is currently headed by the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal NAK. Browne, and he is on record as having said that there are no differences between the three Services on acquiring common systems with same or similar requirements. — IANS

Getting ready for multi-mission strikes

    The existing Mirage 2000s, Sukhoi Su-30 MKIs and Jaguars already have this capability
    Only aircraft with this capability will be considered for acquisition in future, says IAF vice-chief,
    Air Marshal DC. Kumaria
    All NATO and US aerial assets, for instance, are equipped with midair or in-flight refuelling capability and in the Gulf and Afghanistan operations, aircraft were able to conduct multi-mission strikes during single flights
India rejects recommendation to review AFSPA
Accepts only 67 of 168 suggestions made to it during second UN-led review of human rights situation
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, December 9
India has rejected all recommendations on the review and repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) made to it by peer nations during its Second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Human Rights conducted in September this year.

UPR is the formal UN mechanism held every four years to monitor human rights situation in all countries. It’s a process whereby other nations act as peers to review the status of rights in a particular country. India’s first UPR was held in 2008.

During the second one held in Geneva, peers gave a set of 168 recommendations to the Government of India on a range of issues. The government has accepted 67 of that and rejected the ones related to AFSPA and ratification of the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances-a matter which is critical given the recent discovery of unmarked graves in Jammu and Kashmir.

On AFSPA, the following three recommendations made to India have been rejected, “Review AFSPA to align it with your obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights; repeal AFSPA or adopt negotiated amendments to it that would address the accountability of security personnel; carry out an annual review of the 1958 AFSPA aiming to gradually reduce its geographic scope.”

The government also rejected the critical recommendation of the UPR to ratify the convention on torture.

“The strange part is that in the UPR of 2008, India had accepted the peer recommendation to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. And now it goes back on its own commitment and says it will not even accept a recommendation it had earlier accepted,” Vrinda Grover, Supreme Court lawyer, told the Tribune ahead of the International Day on Human Rights today.

Grover was part of the working group on human rights in India and the UN. Among the rejected recommendations are two promises the UPA made in 2004 after evolving the common minimum programme following the 14th Lok Sabha poll.

These were: “The government would increase health budget to 3 per cent of the GDP and education budget to 6 per cent of the GDP.”

The government has not accepted any recommendation even on death penalty.

Miloon Kothari, head, Working Group on Human Rights, said, “India did not even bother to explain why it was rejecting so many recommendations. Smaller nations like Egypt and South Africa have accepted many more recommendations of the UPR in percentage terms. If we claim to be part of an international human rights system and claim commitment to our own Constitution, how can we not ratify conventions on enforced disappearances, torture and how can we refuse to even review AFSPA.”

The working group along with the National Human Rights Commission will now formally monitor India’s progress on the 67 UPR recommendations the government has formally agreed to accept.

What is Universal Periodic Review

It is a formal UN mechanism held every four years to monitor human rights situation in all countries. It’s a process whereby other nations act as peers to review the status of rights in a particular country

Suggestions on AFSPA

    Review AFSPA to align it with your obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights
    Repeal AFSPA or adopt negotiated amendments to it that would address the accountability of security personnel
    Carry out an annual review of the 1958 AFSPA aiming to gradually reduce its geographic scope
Whither India-China ties?
When economics and politics collide
by Harsh V. Pant

ONCE again, Sino-Indian ties present a strange spectacle. On the one hand, India and China have signed 11 agreements entailing an investment of over $ 5 billion during the second India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue in New Delhi while on the other India had to protest vigorously against China’s newly revised passports that show disputed territory near their shared border as part of China and respond by issuing Chinese citizens visas embossed with New Delhi’s own maps. For a long time, the idea that economic ties will lead to a maturing of political ties was a mantra that serious policymakers in New Delhi were willing to consider. But clearly the argument was a specious one and anyone with even an iota of understanding global politics would have known that this trade leads to peace thesis rarely works.

There are multiple levels — diplomatic, economic and cultural — at which China and India are engaging each other. Sino-Indian economic ties are at an all-time high with annual bilateral trade expected to reach around $100 billion over the next three years. Yet despite that pretence of a sustained engagement, suspicions of each other are at an all-time high with the two states sharing one of the world’s most heavily militarised border areas. Alarmed by China’s reiteration of its claims over the whole of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, India is expanding its military deployments in its north-eastern region. If China has deployed around 300,000 troops across the Tibetan plateau, India is responding by raising its military deployment from 120,000 to 180,000 along with two Sukhoi-30 fighter squadrons in the region. And the issue is not merely about the border and Tibet anymore. Today, New Delhi and Beijing both view themselves as rising powers and as a consequence, their interests and capabilities are rubbing off against each other not merely in Asia but in various other parts of the world as well.

The two countries do not fully comprehend the complexities of each other’s domestic politics either. China’s opaque political system festers a lack of transparency that can only be dangerous over the long term. India’s, often cacophonous, domestic political system seems perpetually unable to attain a seriousness of purpose vis-a-vis China. As if this were not enough, popular opinion in both countries is rapidly turning against each other. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that two-thirds of Chinese respondents viewed India unfavourably. The feeling is mutual with only 23 per cent of Indians describing their relationship with China as one of cooperation and only 24 per cent viewing China’s growing economy as a good thing. So much for the trade leads to greater understanding thesis!

Alarm bells are ringing all around India’s periphery as China’s growing military might is allowing it to dictate the terms of engagement to its neighbours. A comprehensive programme of naval development is underway with some warning of a Chinese Monroe Doctrine taking on a new degree of salience. Last month, China unveiled its first aircraft carrier — the Liaoning — with five more reportedly under development. China is busy developing an extensive near-seas capability allowing it to pursue its ambitions unhindered even from the influence of the world’s reigning heavyweight, the US.

Yet India has found it difficult to articulate a China policy that can go beyond clichĂ©s. It’s not about matching China weapon for weapon. It is about managing China’s rise in a manner that does not lead to India giving up its vital interests. There is no likelihood of border settlement anytime soon, but the infrastructure upgradation on the Indian side of the border has only just begun. Despite 15-odd rounds, the border talks between China and India have not led to anything substantive. Rising nationalism and the increasing sway of the PLA in policymaking in China will make it even more difficult for the two sides to reach a diplomatic solution.

As China and India have risen in the global hierarchy, their bilateral relationship has become uneasy as they attempt to come to terms with each other’s rise. The distrust between the two is actually growing at an alarming rate, notwithstanding the rhetoric of official pronouncements. Growing economic cooperation as well as bilateral political and socio-cultural exchanges have done little to assuage each country’s concerns about the other’s intentions. Indian policy trajectory toward China is evolving as India starts to pursue a policy of internal and external balancing more forcefully in an attempt to protect its core interests. The government is trying to fashion an effective response to the rise of China at a time of great regional and global turbulence. Though it is not entirely clear if there is a larger strategic framework shaping India’s China policy, India’s approach towards China is indeed undergoing a transformation, the full consequences of which will only be visible a few years down the line.

With Sino-Indian friction growing and the potential for conflict remaining high, the challenge to India is formidable. India is increasingly bracketed with China as a rising or emerging power — or even a global superpower — though it has yet to achieve the economic and political profile that China enjoys regionally and globally. India’s main security concern today is not the increasingly decrepit state of Pakistan but rather an ever more assertive China, whose ambitions are likely to reshape the contours of the regional and global balance of power with deleterious consequences for Indian interests.

India’s ties with China are thus gradually becoming competitive, with a sentiment gaining ground among Indian policy elites that China is not sensitive to India’s core security interests and does not acknowledge its status as a global player. As a consequence, India is belatedly gearing up to respond to China’s rise with a mix of internal consolidation and external partnerships.

The latest row over Chinese passports is not limited to India. They also show images of the disputed, resource-rich islands in the South China Sea as Chinese territory, islands that Vietnam and the Philippines also claim. India has done well to respond forcefully to the latest Chinese challenge. As China’s behaviour becomes more and more difficult to predict, New Delhi will have to ensure that it has sufficient diplomatic and military firepower in its arsenal to deter Beijing from being too adventurous.
Indian Navy needs a wider berth
The new Chief of Naval Staff Admiral D. K. Joshi takes command at a time of extraordinary expansion for the Indian Navy.

He has also gone on to say that the Indian Navy — the fifth largest in the world — is ready to protect the country’s economic interests in the South China Sea, particularly the oil blocks off the coast of Vietnam being explored by ONGC.

The Indian Army and the Indian Air force are accustomed to fast growth, but the Navy, after a brief spurt in the mid-80s, suddenly came to a halt. It, however, appears to be back in full steam mode.

However, the Navy’s place within strategic thinking in India, a country with a predominantly landlocked mindset, is uncertain.
The Royal navy legacy

According to the Defence Ministry, the Navy has added as many as fifteen ships over the last three years. This includes a leased nuclear submarine from Russia, the Akulla II class.

It will soon take delivery of the much-delayed Russian aircraft carrier retrofitted for Indian use, the INS Vikramaditya. Other ships include three “stealth” frigates of the Shivalik class, resupply tankers and fast attack boats.

The plan is to add five more ships every year for the next five years. The Navy has received a major boost in its surveillance capability with the acquisition of the US-made P8i aircraft, armed with Harpoon missiles. These aircraft will replace an aging fleet of Tu142 and IL38 aircraft of the 80s.

The aircraft carrier group and the nuclear submarine are capabilities, that could, over time, restore Indian maritime primacy in the Indian Ocean waters. The imperial Navy that India inherited from the British controlled seas from Aden to Singapore.

That sea control included an outreach capability over the three critical “chokepoints”— Bandar Abbas in the Persian Gulf, the straits south of Sri Lanka and the Malacca straits in the Singapore littoral.
More bases

Besides these impressive strides in hardware, the Indian Navy has also developed two critical bases, at an estimated cost of $3 billion. On the Western Seaboard, the INS Dweeprakshak on the Lakshadweep Island will handle surveillance and base larger war ships. With this base, India has will acquire a robust sea control capability.

On the Eastern Sea Board similarly, India has opened a new base, the naval air station, Baaz. This base will be under the tri-command in the Campbell bay, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Significantly, it is nearer to the Malacca strait than to India.

The two bases are complemented by India’s longest runway at the INS Rajali in Tamil Nadu that will base the P81 spy aircraft. The Navy has also gone digital with all ships in the process of being linked to a command and control apparatus.
Strategic Centrestage

With its ability to remain underwater without refuelling for long periods, the nuclear submarine is the ‘Alpha’ asset. It is virtually impossible to detect and can have several nuclear weapons aboard depending on the configuration. What is more, the nuclear submarine can be far, really far, out at sea.

The Navy is unique in its ability to project power beyond the constraints of national boundaries. After twelve nautical miles, the world is your oyster. Neither the Army nor the Air Force enjoy a similar advantage. For India, the submarine combined with the aircraft carrier battle group provides a critical edge. It is a pity that the Indian mindset is landlocked. The strategic planners need a complete reorientation from brown and white lands of Rajasthan and the Himalayas to the endless oceans. The Navy, to be truly a strategic force, will require two critical changes in India’s way of war.

First, India will have to move away from prioritising the million-plus army and allocate bandwidth and funds for the Navy in strategy.
Time overruns

Second, the Defence Ministry and the Navy with the myriad defence public sector undertakings that they control, need to get their act together. Although Indian-made warships cost a quarter of similar class ships in the West and Japan, the time overruns are very high. The Navy has a staggering delayed delivery schedule. This constrains the force with only about six submarines at any given point at sea. The Indian Navy needs robust oversight and a bold decision — allowing private players in warship building. Some of this is already happening. The hull of Arihant, India’s own nuclear submarine due for sea trials this year, was built by L&T, a private firm.

Such participation can accelerate if India allows majority investment by foreign players in shipbuilding and taps the potential of defence offsets.

Partnership is the way forward. India’s state-owned shipyards are in a growth dilemma — choked with orders they cannot fulfil for lack of technology and funds.

The ocean is too large to be anybody’s playground. Technology, with cruise missiles and potential anti-aircraft carrier missile defence, has shrunk geography.

India shares with democratic countries the maritime advantage — all of them have robust navies. Working with the democracies of the US, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia will be to its advantage.

This will need diplomatic innovation and a strategic re-jig. Without it, floating assets, even hefty ones, will count for little.

Lastly, the Defence Ministry will need to control leaks on its mother ship. With a nuclear submarine, potentially armed with nuclear weapons out at sea, another such leak could lead to an unthinkable catastrophe. Securing ships is the vital challenge for the Indian Navy in the years ahead.
Indian Army ready to deal with any insurgency, says chief
 After admitting that rate of infiltration has increased this year in comparison to last year, Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh said that Indian defence forces are completely prepared and ready to take on any external aggression, if it happens in the near future.
He said that Army’s commitment to protecting the nation against external aggression, stating that the Army is still alive in the fight against terrorism and other internal security challenges. He said that what we have watched now is a bigger thing, because, in spite of our involvement in fighting internal security threat, we are not losing sight of the fact that our primary responsibility is the defence of external aggression.
“What we have just demonstrated here is that we are ever ready to defend the country. The zeal and high morale of the young passed out officers is enough to send message across that Indian Army is fully capable and prepared to deal with any insurgency,” he reiterated, adding that modernisation and up-gradation of the arms and ammunition including communication equipments is a regular feature in the Indian Army.

He however, reassured towards encouraging research and innovations by the various formations of the Army, towards improving the efforts of the Indian Army. While giving highlighting about the high standards of IMA, Gen Singh said that officers have been fortunate in having been groomed at the academy which has produced some of the world’s finest military leaders, including the legendary field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.
“As young Army Officers, your basic role will be that of a warrior and protector. You will also have to act as an apostle of peace and hope for the citizens of this great country. Wherever and in whatever capacity you are, always remember that you belong to the last bastion of the country and you cannot afford to fail and ever let your country down,” he said, adding that the Indian Army has a formidable image, both at home and abroad. It is an Army known for its long martial traditions with the time-tested ethos of nationalism, patriotism and discipline as its bedrock.

According to him, Indian Army has set benchmarks for valour, courage under fire and selfless sacrifice in four major wars on our borders after independence and in the ongoing internal security commitments and the Army is admired for its prompt and effective response to conduct disaster relief and humanitarian assistance operations in the aftermath of natural calamities. In the global environment, the Army is renowned for its contributions in UN peace keeping operations.  Gen Singh also conveyed appreciation the passing out cadets from Afghanistan, Maldives, Tajikistan, Mauritius and Bhutan.
Southern star horse show on the way
PUNE: A total of 18 equestrian teams, including 12 from the Indian Army, will participate in various categories of the 'Southern star horse show 2012', being organised by the Headquarters, Southern Command, at the general parade ground, Pune race course, from December 13 to 15.

Teams from National Defence Academy (NDA), Officers Training Academy, Armoured Corps Centre and School, Artillery Centre, Northern and Eastern Commands, are among the prominent army teams that will showcase their talent at the show. In all, 80 to 100 riders, 95 army horses and 20 civilian horses will put up a show at the event, which is being hosted for the first time by the city.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Major General J S Deol of the Army Service Corps (ASC) said, "The idea behind the horse show is primarily to popularise the equestrian sport in the city and the country. A national show jumping novice will be part of the event considering that selection of Indian equestrian team for international competitions is based on performance of riders in the national events."

The equestrian sport is categorised into parts such as introductory, novice, medium and advanced. "The national show jumping event here will be of novice category featuring 35 to 45 horses," Deol said.

The Commandant of NDA, Lt Gen Ashok Singh, will inaugurate the show at 9 am on December 13, while Southern army commander, Lt Gen A K Singh, will be the chief guest for the concluding event on December 15.

An officer from the organising committee said, "The army, with the maximum number of horses remains the biggest stakeholder in equestrian sport in India, followed by the paramilitary forces and the civilian fraternity. The introductory class has the largest number of riders and the number goes on reducing as one moves towards novice and advanced grades."
Government committed to armymen's welfare: AK Antony
Defence Minister AK Antony on Saturday said government is committed to the welfare of defence personnel and ex-servicemen.

Addressing the "Army Mela' at nearby Pangode military camp,Antony said the pension of ex-servicemen would be revised with a total commitment of Rs2300 crore.

"Order in this regard would be issued next month",Antony said, adding, in 2009, after he took over as Defence Minister, the pension for ex-servicemen was revised with a total outlay of Rs2300 crore.This increase happened after the sixth pay commission recommendations," he said.

Stating that it was the government's responsibility to look after the welfare of defence personnel and ex-servicemen, Antony said peace prevailed in the country due to dedication and vigilance of 'our armed forces' to protect boundaries.

"Centre not only extends assistance to armed forces in imparting training and equipping it with modern weapons, but also equally gave importance of personnel's welfare," he said.

Antony said Indian defence has 13 lakh personnel and out of this 11 lakh were in the Army. Besides this,India has Coast Guard and Territorial Army strength of 23 lakh and 14 lakh NCC cadres who assist defence forces in times of need, he said.

Antony also said India was able to overcome various crises since Independence mainly due to the strength and dedication of defence forces.

The Army has organised an exhibition of ammunition and other armaments as part of the mela titled 'Know your Army'. The army personnel also displayed their adventurous skills during the occasion,which witnessed huge public participation.

Union Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor, top South-Indian actor and Lt Col in Territorial Army Mohanlal were among those present.

GOC in Chief Southern Army Command Lt General A K Singh welcomed the audience.
‘Sons of soil’ to guard China border in Sikkim
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 7
India’s policy of integrating local soldiers or “sons of the soil” with the Indian Army in guarding the frontier with China will now be extended to Sikkim. This will complete an arch of locally recruited battalions to be integrated with the Army and stationed from Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir in the North to Arunachal Pradesh in the East.

The Cabinet Committee of Security, at a meeting last night, gave its nod to raising a battalion of “Sikkim Scouts” that will be tasked with guarding high passes and portions of the north-eastern part of Sikkim, besides keeping an eye on the routes of ingress.
Initially, 28 officers, 44 Junior Commissioned Officers and 862 jawans will form the battalion. The raising of the battalion will cost the government Rs 32. 50 crore, while the annual recurring cost will be Rs 34.45 crore. The battalion will be ready and raised in 30 months i.e. mid of 2015.

It will take time to recruit and train boys from Sikkim to form the battalion of “sons of the soil”, said sources.

The Chief Minister of Sikkim had asked the Defence Ministry to raise a battalion for Sikkim, as other Himalayan states already had battalions from their respective areas.

The Army has integrated battalions of locally recruited soldiers under “Ladakh Scouts” and “Arunachal Scouts” (two battalions each), “Kumaon Scouts”, “Garhwal Scouts” and “Dogra Scouts” (one battalion each). Battalions comprising locally recruited soldiers hold a strategic advantage. The local recruits have instinctive knowledge of their mountainous terrain, do not require skills training to survive in harsh climatic conditions and can gather information from local population easily.

Over 350 infantry battalions are stationed all over the country and are moved every few years to keep them abreast with different terrains and threat levels.

“Arunachal Scouts” was the last one to be raised. General JJ Singh (retd) had proposed it during his tenure as Army Chief and the Cabinet approved it in 2009. Its first battalion was raised in 2010. The second one was approved later.
The won't-be soldiers
To imagine an Army without Punjabis!

Punjabis are a martial race, they said. There was reason: besides history, numbers in the Indian Army - among both officers and other ranks - were overwhelmingly made up of young men from Punjab, a land of sturdy farmers. Not anymore. The number of Gentlemen Cadets from Punjab passing out at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, on Saturday is a measly 20 out of 421. In comparison, Haryana has done far better with 50, as have the hill states of Himachal (22) and Uttarakhand (46), which otherwise have much smaller populations. Recruitment drives for jawans in Punjab have also thrown up dismal results for the past few years. Rampant drug addiction is cited as the most obvious explanation for the situation. It is valid, but there are other complex cultural changes at work too.

Several studies and reports - though none comprehensive - say up to 75 per cent of the male youth population of Punjab takes drugs in one form or the other. Whatever be the exact figure, anything close to this is enough to make a society dysfunctional. Drugs are as much a cause as the result of youth losing direction. One reason for high addiction rates is easy availability of drugs, which is something the state government has to address forthwith. The other is lack of any alternative avenue to give the youth the 'high' they need. There is little meaningful education. Till the sixties, a large number of the officers selected in the Services came from government schools in the villages of Punjab.

The state is also undergoing a drastic and rapid cultural flux, fuelled largely by the fire in real estate. And farmers - the traditional stock for the armed forces — are the most affected by this. Many of those who come upon instant big money are unable to handle it, and those who don't are liable to heartburn, neither of which is good. Quality education has to be made available to every child, urban or rural, to ensure they have a purpose in their youth. The other need is for them to be role models, of which there are few today. Unless the Punjab Government and the Punjabi himself sit up, it might be long before a state derailed by militancy becomes the pride of the nation once again.
Pakistani intelligence agencies use new software to seek information on Indian Army
JAISALMER: Receiving a phone call on your mobile phone from an unknown Indian telephone number and asking for information about the Indian Army, etc can be dangerous - this could be a call from the Pakistani intelligence agency.
The Pakistan Intelligence Operative Agency (PIOA) associated with Pak intelligence agency ISI has recently uploaded softwarenamed 'fone phreak' on Google and efforts are being made to call the Indian Army, BSF, Indian intelligence agencies and journalists to collect information. Though the calls are made from Pakistan, the number is that of Indian operators. Among the many calls received in the last 20 days, three calls were from Pakistan while the number displayed on the mobile screen was of that of Tata company's call centre in Hyderabad. After such efforts from Pakistan,the Army has alerted its units and directed them notto give out any informationon the phone. Indian security and intelligence agencies and telecommunication department do not have any arrangement to stop this software. Otherwise too, this software can be used by many other peoplejust for fun. Various security and intelligence agencies have expressed concern over this software.
There has been a sudden increase in incoming calls from unknown numbers on mobile phones. If anyone gets such calls repeatedly then the police should be informed immediately. This software is uploaded in thecomputer which can be downloaded free of cost and can be used for wrongpurposes.
After downloading this software, one could use it for an hour and make fakecalls. After downloading this software, two boxes are seen; in one box we have to put phone number from which the call has to be made and in the other box, the number has to beput on which the call is to be made. On dialing, the receiver cannot identify your phone number and will only see the number that has been put in the first box.
This software can be uploaded from many countries including America, Canada, Australia,the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and some others.
There has been heavy increase in incidents of getting fake calls in India.
A TOI correspondent too received three calls in November. The caller introduced himself as a journalist from London andwanted details of the Army's exercise and movement in Thar desert.
For quite some time In the past some time, army, BSF,intelligence agencies, security agencies were also getting fake calls and there has been heavy increase in this. The caller calls himself from Indian army or officer from any other Indian agency and try to get information. The army has directed its jawans to be extra alert inthis regard.
As this software can be downloaded free of cost, many people such as criminals, eve-teasers andmiscreants can use it to tease girls or create problems for others. If the Centre does not ban this software then any person can misuse this software.
Defence spokeman S D Goswami said, "Electronic communications do not respect national frontiers. Mobile phone communication provides aneasy tool as part of digital spy war game plan or programmed agenda of Pakistan. We are fully aware of this type of warfare and have preventive measures in place. Our troops are now fully aware of such war through other means. We are keeping an eye on malicious tactics of anti-national elements and educate our rank and file through our awareness programmes. We have comprehensive cyber security instructions and defaulters are dealt with severely. "

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