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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

From Today's Papers - 30 Jan 2013
Army hospitals still procure drugs shunned by controlling authority
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, January 29
In a revelation that reflects upon the control and monitoring mechanism of the Directorate General Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) as well as on updating the knowledge base at the local level, military hospitals have been procuring drugs no longer recommended by their controlling authority.

A number of military hospitals continued to procure such drugs through local purchase even three years after an amended list of drugs was issued by the DGAFMS in 2009. Hospitals are holding such drugs worth lakhs of rupees.

A drug review committee (DRC) at DGAFMS periodically reviews drugs in the priced vocabulary of medical stores (PVMS) list and marks out drugs that are to be deleted from the list. The amended list is then issued to the medical heads of the three services for implementation.

Several factors govern the deletion of drugs from the PVMS list, which include drugs no longer being in vogue, drugs becoming obsolete due to serious or life threatening side-effects, or the introduction of new drugs. The last DRC was held in September 2008 and the amended list issued was in June 2009.

According to available information, Command Hospital, Chandimandir, procured ‘deleted’ drugs worth about Rs 18.66 lakh, while Army Hospital (Research and Referral) at New Delhi, the force’s most prestigious and advanced medicare institute, spent over Rs 9 lakh on such purchases. Base Hospital, Delhi, spent Rs 2.5 lakh. Procurements by other hospitals across the country also run into several lakh rupees each.

This revealed that the process adopted by the DGAFMS to cut procurement of drugs that it no longer found suitable to meet its requirements was not being strictly implemented, thereby affecting the established system to achieve better patient care.

The DGAFMS controls 133 military hospitals and 90 field hospitals in addition to medical stores depots. These are authorised to make local purchases of drugs, kits and consumables as authorised for their hierarchical level.

Hospitals on their part have contended that though the said drugs may have been deleted from the PVMS list, they were not banned for use by the Drug Controller of India and their procurement was made as per requirement or demands raised by hospitals wards. Authorities at some hospitals have decided to gradually stop the use of ‘deleted’ medicines in a phased manner. ‘Deleted’ drugs procured by: Command Hospital, Chandimandir: Erythroprotein, Norfloxacine, Amikacin Sulphate, Salbutamol Army Research and Referral Hospital, Delhi: Secnidozole, Thalidomide, Glutamide, Lignocaine Base Hospital, Delhi: Doxazocin, Thalidomide, Ketoanlogue, Betalistidine
Army rejects calls to raise new units based on caste or religion
NEW DELHI: The Army has once again strongly rejected calls for raising new "single-class" units like the Gujarat, Kalinga, Dalit, Ahir, Paswan or Tribal regiments as well as attempts to tinker with its "time-tested" regimental system.

"The policy since Independence is not to raise any new regiment on the basis of a particular class, creed, community, religion or region but to have a force in which all Indians have representation. This is the well-defined position of both the defence ministry and Army," said a senior official.

Added a top general, "Politics should not be played with the apolitical armed forces. The Army is an inclusive, secular force, open to all. It's for that reason the force had even opposed the religious headcount proposed by the Sachar Committee in 2005-06."

Having just finished with the Republic Day celebrations as well as the Army Day on January 15, which marks the day when Field Marshal K M Cariappa became the first Indian chief of the force in 1949, the 1.13-million-strong Army is equally steadfast about resisting any changes in its regimental system.

But it's the existence of this system, with a preponderance of "single-class" regiments like the Sikh, Gorkha, Dogra, Garhwal, Jat and the like, which propels politicians and others to demand a Dalit Regiment, like LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan often does, or a Gujarat Regiment, as proposed by L K Advani when he was the deputy prime minister.

Single-class or "pure" regiments were raised during the Raj based on the classification of certain communities as "martial races". After 1947, India, however, decided to continue with these caste or community-based units because "regimental history, ethos and loyalty" was considered to be the main driving force in combat effectiveness and operational performance.

"Soldiers from the same clan fight better from the same foxhole. These tradition-bound regiments have proved themselves in combat in all conflicts since 1947. They should not be dismantled," said a major-general.

This "battalion esprit de corps" was quite evident during the 1999 Kargil conflict. Quizzed why they had made those daredevil assaults against fortified positions held by Pakistani intruders, the common refrain among jawans was that the "paltan's izzat" (the battalion's honour) was at stake, more than loftier notions about fighting for the flag and the country.

While officers can be commissioned into any unit, the infantry's 23 regiments — with over 350 battalions under them — are basically of three types. Single-class units constitute around 60% of the whole. Even among them, the further sub-divisions are based on community or caste. The Army's seven Gorkha Rifles, for instance, recruit separately from the Gurung, Rai, Limbu, Magar and other communities, both from India and Nepal.

The aim after Independence has been to raise "All India-All Class" regiments, like the Brigade of Guards, where jawans are recruited from all over the country irrespective of class and percentage. "The endeavour is to progressively move towards such regiments," said a Brigadier.

In between these two are the "mixed" and "fixed" class units like the Grenadiers or the Mahar Regiment. The 4 Grenadiers, for instance, has two companies of Jats, one company of Muslims and one company of Dogras. Similarly, Rajputana Rifles has an equal mix between Rajputs and Jats, while the Rajput Regiment mainly has Rajputs and Gujars with a sprinkling of Muslims and Bengalis.

"Jawans, with similar language and eating habits, have kinship, brotherhood...they form a cohesive fighting force. Even in mixed class regiments like Grenadiers, individual companies - the basic fighting units — are `pure'," said a Colonel.

The other "fighting arms" like the armoured corps and artillery also have several instances of "pure" units among them. Many artillery medium or field regiments, for instance, are "pure" ones recruiting only Gorkhas, Sikhs, Jats, Ahirs or Marathas into their respective folds. But "support" arms like ASC, EME, Ordnance, Signals and the like are resolutely "all-class" units.
Indian army responsible for attack on Pakistan
NEW DELHI: Pakistan attack on Indian army was a reprisal to latter’s Sunday assault on former’s post, India media reported Thursday.

The reports citing sources in New Delhi’s ministries of internal and defence affairs on Thursday held Indian soldiers responsible for escalation of tensions between the two countries. The reports said that commandos from 9th Maratha Light Infantry caused provocation by launching attack on Pakistani position.

Sources in both the ministries said Islamabad attack was a response to Indian assault. The reports claimed that Brigadier Gulab Singh Rawat deputed at Charchanda Sector along the Line of Control (LOC) decided to launch aggressive attack that led to killing of Pakistani soldiers, including a commissioned officer.

A report pointed out that Brigadier Singh was an aggressive officer and his behavior affected nine-year old ceasefire agreement between both the countries.

The Indian army has ordered an investigation into the matter and a decision was likely against Brigadnier Singh, the India media reports said.
India Reverses Gear, Puts Arjun Tank Back in Production
India’s indigenous Arjun tank project began in 1974, and originally aimed to replace the Russian T-54 and T-72 tanks which made up the bulk of that country’s armored firepower. As has often been the case in India, its DRDO government weapons development agency sought an entirely made in India solution, even though this would require major advances on a number of fronts for Indian industry. As has often been the case in India, the result was a long and checkered history filled with development delays, performance issues, mid-project specifications changes by India’s military, and the eventual purchase of both foreign substitutions within the project (now 58% of the tank’s cost) and foreign competitors from outside it (the T-90S).

The 58.5 tonne Arjun tank wasn’t fielded with the Indian Army until May 2009. In contrast, Pakistan’s much more time-limited, scope-limited, and budget conscious approach in developing and successfully fielding its T-80UD “Al-Khalid” tank is often cited by Arjun’s detractors.

The Russian T-90S will form the mainstay of India’s future force, despite that tank’s performance issues in hot weather. That won’t change, but after beating the T-90 in a number of trials, the Arjun now has a clear future in India…
The Arjun is an indigenous project, but not wholly so. Imported items such as the engine/ power pack, gunner’s main sight, and other components account for 58% of each tank’s cost. This is not uncommon around the world. Israel’s Merkava tank family also relies on a foreign-built engine, for instance, as does France’s Leclerc.

It is uncommon among Indian policy-makers, but the reality is that a series of project failures gave them little choice. The Arjun has been plagued with a mix of problems over its 36-year development history, including its fire control system, suspension issues, and poor mobility due to excessive weight. It has also grown from a 40-tonne tank with a 105mm gun, to a 62-67 tonne tank with a 120mm gun. Predictably, project costs spiraled up from Rs 15.5 crore in 1974 to Rs 306 crore (INR 3.06 trillion). The army was not pleased. In an unusual stance, they accepted the tank only after a third-party audit by an international tank manufacturer, and orders were strictly limited.

The Indian army didn’t even stand up its 1st Arjun armored regiment until May 2009, 35 years after the program began. To underscore the point, even that milestone followed a development that seemed to end the platform’s future. In July 2008, India had announced that production of the Arjun would be capped at the already-committed total of 124 vehicles. Instead, development would begin on a new next-generation tank, designed to survive and serve until 2040 or so.

That appeared to close the book on a failed project, but opinion in India was sharply split. Many observers cited this as the final failure. Other were noting the problems with the T-90s, and the Army’s refusal to conduct side-by-side tests, alongside recent test successes that began earning the Arun some military fans. In May 2010 desert trials alongside the T-90S, the Arjun did surprisingly well.

In response, the government and the Army changed course somewhat. Arjun production would double to 248. That’s an improvement, but DRDO insists that a 500 vehicle order is needed to give them the volume needed to iron out all production difficulties, and provide a platform for future development.

The Army’s plan still calls for 1,657 T-90S “Bhishma” tanks at about 12 crore (INR 120 million, about $2.78 million) each if prices remain stable. About 1,000 of those are slated to be built in India by Avadi Heavy Industries, the same firm that builds the Arjuns. They will be joined by just 248 Arjuns at about 16.8 crore (INR 168 million, about $3.92 million) each, as well as 692 older T-72 tanks upgraded to the T-72M1 “Ajeya” standard. This overall plan changes the force structure proposed in 2006, from 3,780 tanks (1,302 T-90s and 2,480 T-72s) to 2,597 higher-end tanks.

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