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Saturday, 5 January 2013

From Today's Papers - 05 Jan 2013
Sonia Gandhi travelled in IAF aircraft 49 times in last 7 yrs, Rahul 8 in 3 yrs
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi travelled in Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft and helicopters 49 times in the last seven years which included 23 trips with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi also travelled in IAF aircraft and helicopters eight times in the last three years, according to a reply received under the Right to Information Act.

Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are not eligible to travel by IAF aircraft and helicopters so they have to travel in the company of eligible persons which includes the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Defence Minister for official purposes.

For unofficial purposes, only the Prime Minister is eligible.

Other Cabinet ministers can also travel by these aircraft after taking permission of the Prime Minister.

According to IAF rules, people eligible for airlift can take other co-passengers for specific purposes.

Of the 49 air travels undertaken by Sonia Gandhi in IAF aircraft, 42 did not result in any bills as they were undertaken in the company of eligible people while six bills were raised and paid by the respective departments.

One bill of Rs 1.17 crore is still pending against the Karnataka Government as this trip was undertaken on behalf of the State Government.

The flight details show Sonia Gandhi also travelled with Pranab Mukherjee (the then Finance and External Affairs Minister) and Defence Minister A K Antony six times each.

The reply received by Hissar-based RTI activist Ramesh Verma from the Defence Ministry and IAF headquarters show Assam government has an outstanding of Rs 8.26 lakh on one air travel undertaken by Rahul Gandhi. One bill for air travel of Rahul Gandhi to Assam is still under preparation.
India cautious on Pak’s new military doctrine
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, January 4
New Delhi has chosen to be quite cautious to Pakistan army's new military doctrine which described home-grown militant groups and internal dangers as the biggest challenge to the country's security after focusing on the threat from India for decades.

"It is a Pakistani assessment, which is not for us to comment upon. There are many analysts and interlocutors from around the world who have been saying this in public and talking to Pakistanis about it," sources here said.

The sources added, "If that assessment is one that Pakistan has arrived on its own, it is a matter of interest."

According to the new doctrine, published in the Pakistani media, ongoing activities of Taliban militants in the restive tribal regions and unabated terrorist attacks on government installations in major cities were posing a real threat to Pakistan's security. The doctrine deals with operational preparedness and is reviewed on and off.
NSAs of BRICS nations to meet next week
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
Ahead of the BRICS summit in Durban in March, the National Security Advisers (NSAs) of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will meet here next week to discuss major regional and international issues.

India’s NSA Shivshankar Menon will represent India at the meeting to be held on January 10.

This will be the first structured meeting of the NSAs of the BRICS grouping comprising the five major emerging economies of the world.

The situation in the Middle East, the conflict in Syria, Iran’s nuclear issue and counter-terror cooperation are among the issues that are expected to figure in the discussions.

The 5th BRICS summit will be held in Durban on March 26-27, the first time South Africa will be hosting the heads of states and governments of the BRICS countries. The BRICS comprises nearly half the world’s population and a quarter of global GDP.
Nepal Army Chief to visit India
Kathmandu: Nepal's Army Gen Gaurav Shumsher Rana will pay a maiden visit to India from January 6 to further strengthen the age-old friendly relations existing between the armies of the two neighbouring nations.

Gen Rana, who assumed the top army post in September, will visit India at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Gen Bikram Singh.

During his 10-day long trip, he will be conferred with the title of honorary General of the Indian Army by President Pranab Mukherjee as per a long-held tradition of conferring the title on each other's army chief.

Since 1965, both the armies have been conferring the honorary rank of General on each other's Army Chief in view of the close military ties shared by the two countries.

Besides holding bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart, Gen Rana will meet other top Indian civilian and military officials.

India-educated Gen Rana will be leading a six-member delegation of Nepal Army.

The visit is expected to further strengthen the age-old friendly relations existing between the two countries, Nepal Army Headquarters said in a statement today.

Rana took over the post of Nepal's Army chief succeeding Gen Chhatra Man Singh Gurung. He passed out of The Lawrance School, Sanawar in Himachal Pradesh, and has served in the Nepal Army for the last 39 years.
Indian Army to Unveils New Machine Gun
ndia --( The Indian Army is set unveil a new modern submachine carbine (MSMC), developed by Pune-based Armaments Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), following final trials scheduled for December 2009.

The 5.56mm calibre MSMC will replace the Russian 9mm-calibre carbine currently used by the Indian Army and paramilitary forces.

ARDE director Anil M Datar said the company was in process of demonstrating 99.7% reliability for the MSMC, which can fire up to 200m.

The development of MSMC is a part of the Indian small arms system (INSAS) programme created by ARDE to build an indigenous small arms weapons system for India.

The prototype underwent initial trials in January 2009 and is gearing for the final trials before being launched.
Now, Antony headed for Myanmar to bolster defence ties
NEW DELHI: Better border management as well as "capacity-building" of the Myanmarese armed forces will figure high on the agenda when defence minister A K Antony heads for Naypyitaw later this month to boost bilateral military cooperation.

Defence ministry officials on Friday said Antony will be visiting Myanmar — a country with which India has assiduously ramped up diplomatic, economic and military cooperation to counter China's deep strategic inroads there — on January 22-23.

Myanmar's importance on Indian strategic radar screens can be gauged from the fact that Antony's visit comes shortly after foreign minister Salman Khurshid and Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, in his capacity as the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, visited the country in November-December.

"A MoU on border management is being worked out with Myanmar, the only Asean country with which India shares land and maritime boundaries. The MoU will include border infrastructure development as well as better coordination among the forces guarding the 1,643-km land border," said an official.

India will also step up training of the Myanmarese armed forces as part of the overall capacity-building plan. This, for instance, will include training Myanmarese air force pilots to fly the Russian-origin Mi-35 "attack" helicopters. Similarly, "more vacancies" for Myanmarese personnel will also be created at Indian Army's establishments like the counter-insurgency and jungle warfare school at Vairengte in Mizoram. "Myanmar is very keen on military training with India," said the official.

India has also been supplying some military hardware and software to Myanmar, which ranges from Islander maritime patrol aircraft and naval gun-boats to 105mm light artillery guns, mortars, grenade-launchers and rifles. It is also getting some armaments and electronic equipment, including radars manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd, for its warships like frigates and corvettes.

Seeking deeper engagement with the military junta in the energy-rich Myanmar, even as it keeps lines open with pro-democracy crusader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, New Delhi is also keen to ensure the country step up cooperation in flushing out Indian insurgent groups operating from its soil.

There has been a flurry of top-level visits to the country after PM Manmohan Singh laid the foundation for greater bilateral economic cooperation during his visit to Naypyitaw last May. During the first such PM-level visit in 25 years, the two countries had inked a dozen MoUs, from an air services agreement and border area development pact to a joint trade & investment forum and extension of a $500-million line of credit to Myanmar.|head
New Delhi Rejects Mahindra-Rafael Anti-Torpedo Team
NEW DELHI — The Indian government has rejected a proposed joint venture between Israel’s Rafael and Mahindra Defence Systems to produce anti-torpedo systems, a move that surprised Mahindra officials and could undermine future foreign teaming efforts with private Indian companies.

Indian Defence Ministry sources said the ministry opposes such teaming projects if they involve the Indian private sector in strategic programs. Instead, the ministry supports establishing relationships for such sensitive projects only through the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Mahindra already has a joint venture with BAE Systems to manufacture defense land systems products.

The joint venture proposal would have given Mahindra 74 percent equity and Rafael 26 percent. It was turned down by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) last month, said Khutub Hai, a retired Indian Army brigadier and CEO of Mahindra Defence systems. The company is “unhappy” with the decision by the Indian government, which gave no official reason for its denial.

“Both Mahindra and Rafael are surprised at the decision as both are reputable companies which have extensive engagement with the government of India on projects related to defense and homeland security. We will be seeking clarification on the reason for this rejection,” Hai said.

Hai expressed his “shock” over the decision while Rafael is already engaged in developing high-tech defense systems in India. Rafael and DRDO jointly are developing India’s long-range surface-to-air missile systems and armoring technologies.

No Rafael executive was available for comment.

In March, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop a variety of defense systems, including anti-torpedo systems, electronic warfare systems, advanced armoring systems and remotely operated weapon stations for the Indian Army’s $11 billion Future Infantry Combat Vehicles program.

“The decision to turn down the [joint venture] between Mahindra Defence Systems and Rafael is a retrograde step as it will discourage overseas defense companies from forging tie-ups with the domestic private sector companies to produce high-tech defense systems,” said Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst here.

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