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Wednesday, 6 March 2013

From Today's Papers - 06 Mar 2013
Pak PM to visit Ajmer; no official meeting on agenda
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5
Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will visit India on Saturday to offer prayers at the Ajmer Sharif shrine for the success of his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in the upcoming polls. As of now, no meeting is scheduled between the Pakistani Premier and Indian leaders since it is purely a religious trip.

The term of Ashraf’s government ends on March 16.

Ashraf would land in Jaipur on Saturday morning and proceed straight to Ajmer, sources said. He is expected to return to Islamabad the same day.

The visit takes place at a time when relations between the two countries have come under renewed strain in the wake of the beheading and mutilation of bodies of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops on the Line of Control (LoC) in January.
Navy copter crashes near Vizag; two missing

New Delhi, March 5
A Naval helicopter with four personnel on board crashed off the Vishakhapatnam harbour today. Two crew members were immediately rescued while two others were missing and a search was underway for them, Navy officials said here.

The Chetak helicopter crashed at around 3 pm during a routine training sortie, they said. The Navy has pressed into service its helicopters and ships to search for the missing personnel and has ordered a Board of Inquiry to investigate the reasons behind the crash of the light utility helicopter.
The Cheetah and Chetak helicopters are the vintage of the 60s and the 70s and are the mainstay of the armed forces for ferrying small groups of personnel and light loads.

The Navy has already initiated the process for acquiring 56 new light copters with twin-engines for replacing the vintage helicopters.

The IAF and the Army are also in the process of replacing their fleet of such helicopters.

In a similar crash in Panaji last October, three Naval personnel, including two pilots, had died when their machine crashed at the Dabolim Airport while landing.

Before that incident, a Navy light helicopter crashed in 2005 when a copter from Goa met with an accident near Belgaum in Karnataka on its way to Vishakhapatnam. — PTI

Training sortie gone wrong

    The Chetak helicopter crashed at around 1500 hours during a routine training sortie
    There were four personnel on board; two were rescued
    In 2012, three Naval personnel died when their machine crashed at Gao’s Dabolim Airport while landing
VVIP copter deal: CBI examines Aeromatrix CEO
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5
The CBI examined the CEO of Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix firm today in connection with the alleged kickbacks received in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal. The investigating agency examined executives of IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix yesterday.
The CBI today asked Aeromatrix CEO Parveen Bakshi to join the investigations for examination of all the details and allegations laid by the suspects in Italy. His name was reportedly disclosed by Guido Haschkhe, one of the suspects in Italy.

Bakshi was examined for a few hours as the CBI team was not satisfied with the details given by him yesterday. If need be, other senior officers of the firm would also be examined, sources said. Bakshi was earlier with the IDS Infotech. When the IDS has left the business of chopper deal and handed over all stake to Aeromatrix, Bakshi had joined it as the CEO.

The agency is trying to find out the criminal liability of suspects in Rs 350 crore kickbacks in chopper deal case. Once the criminal liability is conformed, the CBI will register an FIR, the sources said.

The investigating agency suspects that a portion of Rs 350 crore bribe was allegedly routed to Indian nationals, through Tunisia and Mauritius, camouflaged as payments for engineering contracts to Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix.

While examining the CEO, the CBI team tried to collect exact amount of kickbacks received by Aeromatrix and its role in the chopper deal.
China ahead: Indian army to be worst-hit by budget cuts
A 10.7% increase in China’s military spending for 2013-14 has triggered a sense of unease in India, which only marginally raised its defence allocation last week.

China’s defence budget now stands at $115.7 billion ( Rs. 5,94,000 crore), compared to India’s $37.3 billion (Rs.
related stories

    Defence budget 3 times India’s

2,03,672 crore) — a 5.3% increase over last fiscal’s outlay.

Recording a double-digit growth over two decades, China’s defence spending is expected to overtake the US by 2035.

The meager hike in India’s defence spending threatens to derail some key modernisation plans of the army, at a time when the force is desperate to scale up its artillery capabilities.
Experts fear this year’s inadequate allocation is unlikely to give impetus to the Indian Army’s plans of buying artillery guns, anti-tank guided missiles and modern small arms.

The army needs more than Rs. 40,000 crore to buy this military hardware.

Of the three services, the experts say, the army is likely to feel the pinch most since the air force and the navy have already made some major acquisitions in the recent years.

The army has not bought a single new artillery gun since the Bofors scandal in late 1980s. A senior army officer said the fate of the Rs. 22,000-crore artillery modernisation plan looked uncertain in the current financial scenario.

Security affairs expert Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (retd) said, “We need committed funding for five-year defence plans. It is also critical to have indicative funding for the next 10 years to support the military’s 15-year integrated perspective plan.”
Full text: Indian Army's statement on Baramulla
A 25-year-old man was killed and four were injured in firing allegedly by security forces during protests in Baramulla town of north Kashmir on Tuesday.

Hundreds of residents of Baramulla town took to streets to protest what they alleged ransacking of their houses by the Army in the area.

Below is the full text of the Indian Army's statement denying that the youth died in its firing.
Death of person at Baramulla not caused by Army fire

Baramulla, 05 Mar 2013. A foot patrol of Army while moving from Convoy Ground Baramulla to the company operating base when it was attacked by an unruly and violent mob of over 250 people. The aggressive mob, despite repeated warnings and caution, surrounded the patrol and people from within the crowd started attacking the Army personnel. The Army patrol was soon outnumbered, leaving some of them injured.

A person out of the mob assaulted the Army personnel with an iron rod creating a life threatening situation. To extricate themselves, the patrol fired, aiming in the air which could not have resulted into any injury. In any case, the place of incident where the person died was well away from the location of the patrol and could have no way been affected by the firing by the patrol in the air. This calls for detailed investigation by the Police.

Army reiterates that the death of Tariq Ahmad s/o Ghulam Rasul could not have been caused due the firing by the Army personnel as extreme caution was exercised by them and the fire was deliberately aimed in the air. There were intelligence inputs with regard to the plans by the terrorists to entangle Army personnel, particularly in Baramulla, in a protest and to attack the Army taking shield of the crowd with a view to trigger large scale violence. This was aimed at providing fodder for the inimical elements to disturb the peace in Kashmir. The death of the individual seems to be a part of the said design and the Army has ordered an investigation to get to the bottom of the truth.

Notwithstanding this, Army regrets the loss of life and assures the awaam that Army is always there for them and would do nothing against the security of the people. Army further appealed to the awaam not to fall prey to such nefarious designs of the inimical elements.
10% boost in China’s defence budget gives India jitters
NEW DELHI: China significantly upped its defence spending by over 10%, a rise that will be watched nervously in India. Particularly, since India's own defence budget is constrained not only by decreased funding, but also by a distinct lack of strategic planning.

In Beijing, the new president, Xi Jinping, began his stewardship of the party and country by raising defence budget by 10.7% to 740.6 billion yuan ($119 billion). Last year, China's budget stood at $106 billion.

Indian defence officials say China's actual defence spends are almost 60% higher than their declared official budget. In contrast, while the Indian defence budget was hiked only marginally to Rs 203,672 crore ($37.86 billion), the less reported aspect is that the spend is either underutilized or cut by the finance ministry halfway into the year. For instance, in December, 2012, finance minister P Chidambaram had cut the defence capital outlay by Rs 10,000 crore (almost $2 billion).

Chinese defence expenditure is also spurning a cycle of innovation, increasing employment and improvements in industrial capabilities within China, because of the massive indigenization by Chinese military over the last two decades. Indian military continues to buy almost 70% of its military equipment from abroad, and no noticeable effort is being made to increase indigenization.

However, China will be spending much more on internal security threats, at 769.1 billion yuan, according to China's official figures. India's spend on internal security in the coming fiscal is a paltry Rs 52,264 crore ($ 9.86 billion), showing perhaps a greater sense of confidence among Indians, unlike China, whose massive spends could indicate that the leadership is actually afraid of its people. Beijing has listed a growing number of mass incidents of unrest as being the reason for such large outlays. In 2010, China registered 90,000 such incidents, and has refused to divulge figures for the past couple of years.

In the past two decades, China has carried out a massive reversal of its dependence on imports. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China, which was the largest recipient of arms exports between 2002 and 2006, fell to fourth place in 2007-11. While India has climbed to become the world's largest recipient of arms, accounting for 10% of global arms imports in 2007-11, according to SIPRI. As China steps up its purchases from domestic industries it is set to kick off several technological breakthroughs, nurture a robust R&D culture and power a powerful military-industrial complex.

The worry is India's budgeted defence expenditure is only 1.79% of the projected GDP for 2013-14, much less than the 3% being demanded by the armed forces and strategic experts for years to ensure requisite deterrence against both China and Pakistan. In fact, it's even worse than the 1.9% figure of 2012-13.

India's defence budget of Rs 203,672 crore ($37.86 billion) is a 5.3% jump over last year's allocation of Rs 193,408 crore and a 14% hike over the revised estimate of Rs 178,504 crore. India also spends more on paying salaries and on day-to-day costs than on actually procuring new weapons. Such expenditure stands at Rs 116,931 crore, surpassing capital expenditure at Rs 86,741 crore, reflecting a poor "teeth-to-tail'' ratio.

A military expert said, "Exactly a year ago, the then Army chief General V K Singh warned of huge operational gaps in war-fighting capabilities...the situation remains the same."

National Army Museum gifted death-defying Indian Mutiny redcoat
The unique 156-year-old military tunic belonged to Lieutenant Campbell Clark, who was caught up in one of the many bloody episodes of the Indian Mutiny between 1857 and 1859.

Ambushed by rebel sepoys (Indian infantry) and shot at point-blank range during a skirmish in Cawnpore, the musket ball passed through Lieutenant Clark's stomach, taking with it his gold watch-chain and pieces of clothing.

His comrades managed to get him back to the basic military hospital at Cawnpore, where he was considered beyond hope. Remarkably, he defied the odds and survived.

"The Gen Hospital was a terrible place and I really think had we remained there we should have died or gone very near death,” he later wrote in a letter dated January 4, 1858.

“I have only one fear about my wound, and that is that there may be still some flannel shirt or red flannel from which my coat was made or merino under-waistcoat, or dyed blue trouser in my stomach and that may trouble me after the wound has healed up.”

Subsequent surgery removed fragments of watch-chain, clothing and lead musket ball and, although he had to wear a truss to support his stomach and bowel for the rest of his days, Clark went on to have a successful military career in India and at home, rising to the rank of colonel.

He eventually succumbed to stomach cancer, dying in Suffolk on March 28, 1896, aged 69.

The bloody events of the Indian Mutiny, which erupted in the northern states of India, also affected Campbell Clark’s brother, who lost his wife and unborn child in the siege of Lucknow.

The tunic, which was gifted to the museum by his great-great nephew, John Gordon Clark, joins the most extensive collection in the UK of historical and military artefacts relating to the Indian Army from 1754 to 1947.

“Campbell Clark’s tunic and the story surrounding it provide a graphic example of the perils of soldiering in the 19th century,” says Pip Dodd, the museum curator.

“It also shows the extraordinary fortune of some soldiers to survive horrific wounds.”

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