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Friday, 12 April 2013

From Today's Papers - 12 Apr 2013
Antony seeks report on plaint by naval officer’s wife
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
A complaint by a serving naval officer’s wife against her husband and certain officers in Kochi today prompted Defence Minister AK Antony to seek a report from the Navy. Antony has asked the Defence Secretary to furnish the details of the case.

The young officer’s wife also called up the Defence Minister’s office complaining about the behaviour of her husband and his superiors.

She had yesterday lodged a complaint with the Kochi police alleging that she was being ill-treated by her husband and that he was forcing her to extend sexual favours to his bosses.

This is the second time that the woman has lodged a complaint against the officer.

The Navy came out with a rebuttal saying it was a marital discord between a serving officer and his spouse which had resulted in the woman lodging an FIR with the local police.

A Navy spokesperson said: “Unlike the corporate world, in the Navy, the support system, including superior officers, and families of colleagues (make) endeavour to resolve such issues. However, in this specific case, the wife of the officer has levelled unfair allegations against superior officers in her husband’s chain of command, their spouses and other officers who have interacted with her. These officers accompanied by their respective spouses had tried to unsuccessfully resolve the issues dogging the couple’s personal life. The couple was also sent to a marriage counsellor under the aegis of the Navy Wives Welfare Association, Southern Naval Command,” the Navy added.
MoD ‘inclined’ to correct rank pay inconsistencies: Air Chief
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, April 11
While pointing out that the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict in the rank pay case pertaining to the Fourth Pay Commission meet the aspirations and the expectations of the affected officers only partially, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, has said the Ministry of Defence “appeared inclined” to accept the services’ view on the shortcomings in the government orders.

In his reply to a letter written to him by a retired officer on the subject, the Air Chief, who is also Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, has stated that a detailed note is being prepared by the MoD for seeking the views of the Solicitor General. Further, a committee is also being set up to crystallise the problem definition and the views of the stakeholders.

A series of meetings have been held between service representatives and officials of the MoD over the past three months, where the said inconsistencies were discussed in detail. The actual fixation of pay scales and problems thereof have also been submitted to the MoD, which in turn has sought the comments of the Controller General of Defence Accounts, Ministry of Finance and the Legal Attache (Defence) on the issues raised.

According to the chief’s letter, the implementation order has restricted the benefits by making the court order effective only for those officers who held the rank of flight lieutenant and equivalent as on January 1, 1986. This meant that officers promoted to the rank of flight lieutenant and equivalent after this date would not be covered by the order even though the apex court judgment implied at the benefits were applicable “with effect from” January 1986.

Further, the integrated pay scale of the Fourth Pay Commission (FPC) and the minimum pay for each rank have not been amended, which means that there would be two types of pay scales for the same rank and seniority. The basic pay ceiling of Rs 5,100 prescribed by the FPC has not been amended.
SC notice to Centre, Army Chief over caste-based recruitment
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 11
The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre and the Army Chief seeking their response within six weeks to a PIL that has sought abolition of recruitments in the Army on the basis of caste, religion and region.

A Bench comprising Justices TS Thakur and Gyan Sudha Misra passed the order, pointing out that “this matter is important and has to be examined”.

It asked the petitioner, IS Yadav, who is a medical practitioner from Haryana to file his reply to the affidavits of the Centre and the Army Chief within two weeks thereafter.

Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, whose assistance had been sought by the court in the matter, accepted the notice on behalf of the Centre. Acknowledging that recruitments were being made on the basis of caste, region and religion, he said once they joined the Army they were treated alike and there was no discrimination.

Restrictions were there only in the Presidential Guards who could be from only the Jat, Sikh or Rajput regiments, he said.

Petitioner’s senior counsel S Balakrishnan contended that it was unfortunate that the Army was still following the divide-and-rule strategy evolved by the British to prevent the emergence of national loyalty among service personnel or a monolithic integrated Indian Army.

The PIL states that the government is claiming that the Army is truly secular, but it has regiments based on caste, religion and region such as Rajput, Sikh, Gorkha, Naga, Jat, Rajasthan and Maratha regiments even today.

“This is unhealthy and against the interest of the Army itself and the larger interest of the nation,” it said.
Two Indian peacekeepers killed in South Sudan cremated
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, April 11
The two Indian peacekeeping soldiers from Uttar Pradesh — martyred during a United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan — were today cremated with full military honours.

The last rites of Havildar Hiralal were performed at his native village of Bijaun under Sikandarabad police station of Bulandshahr this afternoon.

His body was brought here this morning and was cremated in the presence of senior dist-rict officials.

The mortal remains of the Naib Subedar Shiv Kumar Pal, originally from Pratapgarh, were cremated at Bainsakund in Lucknow with military honours.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today announced financial assistance of Rs 20 lakh each to the two bereaved families of peacekeepers.

After paying homage to Pal, whose parents live in Lucknow, Yadav assured to help their families. He said, “The Uttar Pradesh Government will fully support the families of the martyrs. It is towards this that the government is paying Rs 20 lakh to both the families.”
Dismissed Wing Commander says Air Chief’s orders illegal
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, April 11
Dismissed from the Air Force by a general court martial (GCM) for allegedly demanding and accepting illegal gratification, a wing commander has challenged the proceedings against him on the grounds that certain orders passed by the Air Chief in his case were legally unsustainable.

In his petition that came up for hearing before the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal today, the officer, Wg Cdr Alok Kumar has also contended several procedural irregularities in the conduct of the court of inquiry and the subsequent trial by the GCM.

Issuing notice to the Central government and other concerned, the Bench has ordered an interim stay on the execution of the GCM verdict.

A GCM presided by Gp Capt MG Shetty had held the officer, Wg Cdr Alok Kumar, guilty on four of the eight charges of demanding and accepting illegal gratification from delegates of Dassault International during Aero India 2011 at Bangalore.

The GCM’s finding and sentence are yet to be confirmed by the court’s convening authority.

Dassault’s representative Posina V Rao had lodged a complaint with the authorities against the officer. According to the petition, it was an oral complaint and nothing in written had been forwarded to the IAF authorities.

Dassault’s Rafale fighter had emerged as the top contender for the IAF’s contract for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft, the advance contract negotiations for which are under way.

Later, the Chief of the Air Staff ordered the GCM to reassemble and record brief reasons in support of its findings. Last year, the IAF had issued orders that all GCMs are required to record reasons in support of their findings vis-à-vis the charges. This practice has been continuing in the Army for a long time.

The petitioner has also contended that the Air Chief’s order is opposed to law and the matter could not have been sent back to the GCM only for the purpose of recording its reasons in support of its findings.

He has claimed that it was erroneous for the confirming authority to only seek substitution of reasons in support of its case, which has led to miscarriage of justice.
AFT changes Bench hearing Kargil commander’s case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Taking a U-turn over its earlier stance, the Armed Forces Tribunal (ATF) has changed the Bench hearing the case of former Kargil brigade commander Brig Surinder Singh. The case pertains to termination of his service for allegedly mishandling classified documents during the 1999 conflict.

The Brigadier had contended that the Bench comprising Lt Gen NS Brar as the administrative member could be biased against him as he was a close associate of another war-time commander, Brig Devinder Singh, with whom he had a clash of interest over the scope of intrusions by Pakistan troops and issues pertaining to handling of classified information.

When the matter came up for hearing today, the Bench said the case was being transferred to a different Bench at Chandigarh. Earlier, Brig Surinder’s counsel had stated that he would approach the Supreme Court with a plea for a change of Bench after he did not get any relief from the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had held that it did not have power of superintendence over the administrative functioning of the AFT. “This court has power of judicial review in respect of the judicial decisions of the tribunal. However, it would have no power of superintendence in respect of its administrative functioning in view of Article 227 of the Constitution,” a Division Bench comprising Justice SS Saron and Justice SP Bangarh had ruled.

Brig Surinder Singh had moved the high court after the AFT’s regional Bench here and the Principal Bench at New Delhi dismissed his plea for change of Bench.

Why the change

The case pertains to termination of former Kargil brigade commander Brig Surinder Singh’s service for allegedly mishandling classified documents during the 1999 conflict

The Brigadier contended the Bench comprising Lt Gen NS Brar as the administrative member could be biased against him as he was an associate of another war-time commander, Brig Devinder Singh, with whom he had a clash of interest
Lack of strategic thinking
A problem that persists
by Inder Malhotra

IT was in the mid-1990s that George Tanham, an eminent Ame ican scholar then working for RAND Corporation published a seminal paper, India’s Strategic Culture. His conclusion, moderately expressed, was that nothing of the kind “existed yet”. Patriotic Indians were enraged and tried to rubbish Tanhm’s findings as best they could.

The epic battle of Mahabharta, they pointed out, was fought on the basis of the highest military doctrines, and they asked, somewhat sneeringly, whether the US specialist had heard of Chanakya and his masterly work on statecraft that instructed the king what to do in times of both war and peace. Only after K. Subrahmanyam, the Bhishma Pithamaha of modern Indian thinkers on security and strategy, asked what else had been written or said by us during the two and a half millennia since Chanakya, were the critics silenced.

Since then, however, things in India have changed radically.  The number of strategy-linked think tanks has increased exponentially, compared with a handful then. More importantly, the government that had traditionally treated defence and strategy a “hush-hush affair” never to be shared with the people or even Parliament, has also gone public, if only to a limited extent. However, while lively discussions on security pour out of the think tanks and the voluble media practically every day, there is little resonance to it from those that make and run policy.

In the circumstances, it is both sad and strange that very recently, The Economist has repeated almost exactly what Tanham had said two decades ago.  Let the pith and substance of the two elaborate articles in the journal (March 30 - April 5, 2013) speak for themselves: “Whereas China’s rise (economically and militarily) is a given, India is widely seen a nearly-power that cannot get its act together … India’s huge potential … is far from being realised. One big reason is that the country lacks the culture to pursue an active security policy”. The weekly’s punch line is: “That India can become a great power is not in doubt. The real question is whether it wants to.”

Now it would be wise not to be stampeded into believing that every word of what The Economist says must be true, for even the most respected publications in the West have sometimes been biased against India. But a dispassionate examination of the relevant articles by security experts and those of us whose job it is to chronicle and comment on the goings-on in the security establishment, including former chiefs of the three services, shows that much of the criticism of this country’s security policies is based not on prejudice but on reality.

Let me just cite a few stark truths that the London-based journal doesn’t even mention. Fourteen years after the formation of the National Security Council, this august body has met but rarely. During the last three years or so, it hasn’t met even once! Worse, to this day the second largest country in Asia does not have a national security doctrine. Mercifully, a strategic doctrine, boldly opting for a “credible minimum deterrent” and no first use, was made public after the 1998 nuclear tests. Shockingly, there isn’t even a joint doctrine of the three armed forces. The Army, the Navy and the Air Force each plough a lonely furrow in this day and age when every battle is a joint land-air-sea undertaking.

Like other western analysts The Economist has devoted considerable space to India’s huge defence purchases from abroad – said to be the world’s largest over the last five years and still rising – but refrains for hammering home the real underlying message: A country that imports 70 per cent of the military hardware it needs cannot be a superpower. At the same time, the path to domestic production of sophisticated defence equipment is littered with many roadblocks, largely because of the almost complete dependence on the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) despite the government’s grudging willingness of late to give the private sector a share in defence production. The fate of the main battle tank, Arjuna, promised to be operational two decades ago and still undelivered, underscores the point. The Army has to do with dated T-72 and T-90 tanks, imported from Russia. Why the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) flown by a former Air Chief several years ago hasn’t yet entered service in the IAF remains a mystery.

There is a clear and present danger that the mother of all defence deals, costing about $ 20 billion, for the import of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) might be at stake. An unduly long time was taken in deciding to buy from France the Rafale aircraft manufactured by Dassault. Now the whole deal is in danger of coming unstuck.

For, an essential part of the deal is that Dassault would sell us 18 aircraft from the shelf and the remaining 108 would be produced within this country by an Indian entity and Dassault jointly. The GOI now insists that the joint production must take place at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).  Unfortunately, Dassault considers HAL to be a stodgy organisation and, therefore, suggests that it would deliver the kits to the HAL and accept no further responsibility. The French preference is for a consortium of public and private engineering companies to represent India. The Ministry of Defence says that this is totally unacceptable.

In available space, one of the fundamental flaws of the highest structure managing defence and national security can be mentioned only briefly. It is the appalling state of the relationship between the civilian and military components of the Indian security system at the top. The trust deficit between the two sides is colossal. The armed forces deeply resent being “bossed over” by generalist civilians of the IAS. One will have to return to the subject later.

The Naresh Chandra task force on national security took cognisance of this problem and suggested measures to take care of it at least partially. But the report of the task force has been before the government for one year without any decisions being reached. In such matters our government believes in doing nothing and doing it all the time.
Indian Navy denies sexual harassment of young lieutenant's wife
Kochi: The Indian Navy has denied allegations that a group of officers based in Kochi sexually harassed a young lieutenant's wife.

Based on a complaint by the woman, the Kochi police has filed a case against six naval officers; the charges "physical and mental torture" and demanding dowry.

The woman, who graduated from IIT, and was married in 2011, told NDTV that two months ago in an officer's house, she was tied to a table by her husband, and that he allowed his colleagues to  sexually molest her and cut off her hair.

She has also alleged in her complaint to the police that her husband and other officers have been threatening her safety if she does not drop the case against them.

The Southern Naval Command has issued a statement in which it says, "The wife of the officer has leveled unfair allegations against superior officers in her husband's chain of command, their spouses and other officers who have interacted with her. These officers accompanied by their respective spouses had tried to unsuccessfully resolve the issues dogging the couple's personal life in a bid to leverage the strength of the Naval community bond." (Read full statement here)

The statement says the Navy will cooperate fully with the police investigation to "clear the fair name of the officers who intervened in the line of duty to resolve the domestic discord of a young officer."
Defence Ministry asks Army to avoid single-vendor tender for missiles
NEW DELHI: Stung by scams in import of military hardware, the Defence Ministry has asked the Army to avoid a single-vendor tender for procuring anti-tank guided missiles from Israel and look for other sources also who can offer the weapon system.

During the last meeting of Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister A K Antony, the Army had proposed to buy the Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel but it was deferred as the Ministry wanted the Army to find out if other vendors were providing the system and they could also be issued the tender, sources said here.

The Ministry, which is looking to enhance transparency in weapon procurement through the import route, is now not inclined much towards the single-vendor tenders and wants a fair competition between arms suppliers for any acquisition, they said.

The tri-services Integrated Defence Staff Headquarters has been asked to do a 'Technology Scan' for finding out if there are other sources who can offer their products for the project.

The procurement of the ATGMs was expected to cost over Rs 5,000 crore for procuring ATGMs for more than 350 Infantry battalions of the Indian Army.

The Army has been looking at procuring these systems to do away with the shortfall of such weaponry in its inventory.

The shortage of anti-tank weapons was also mentioned in the letter written by former Army Chief Gen V K Singh in his top secret letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

India was also interested in evaluating the American Javelin missile system for the purpose but the complex defence sales procedures of the US over the conduct of trials and Transfer of Technology did not allow the Army to test it out.

Under the project, India wants the vendors to transfer the technology of their systems to the Bharat Dynamics Limited for their mass production in India.
In a first, pvt Indian firms can bid to make artillery guns
Crossing an important milestone at the last meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the Ministry of Defence has, for the first time, decided to allow Indian private entities to participate in a bid for making artillery guns.

It is learnt that while approving the Army's proposal for upgunning of 300 more 130 mm M-46 field guns to a 155 mm gun system, the DAC on April 2 also decided that the request for proposal (RFP) would also go to interested private players. The Ordnance Factory Board, which used to automatically get these orders, will now be one of the contestants.

This is the first time that South Block has decided to let the Indian private sector make an offensive weapon platform. While companies have been keen, the opportunity has never come. However, private entities such as the Tatas and L&T have been involved in making important ancillary equipment such as launchers for the Pinaka missile.

The upgunning of 130 mm guns was originally awarded to Israeli firm Soltam which completed the first lot of 180 guns but it was then blacklisted. It was no longer possible to proceed with the original plan of upgunning all 480 guns of 130 mm.

Some transfer of technology did take place but it has all remained mothballed with the gun carriage factory in Jabalpur, sources said. In 2010, the Army did float a request for information for the remaining 300 guns but the process ran into delays.

For an Army facing shortage of artillery guns, this move is also being seen as a test case for opening the doors to the Indian private sector to manufacture lethal weapon systems given the problems India faces as a major global arms importer.

Besides, the DAC meeting, headed by Defence Minister A K Antony, also gave its stamp of approval to a new process of acquisition by which buying globally would be the last option. A new gradation has now been set under which the first priority would be to 'buy Indian', the next would be 'buy and make Indian' that would allow private entities room for collaboration, after which would come options of 'buy and make global' and then 'buy global'.

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