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Monday, 22 April 2013

From Today's Papers - 22 Apr 2013
Jawan killed, 17 injured in Manipur explosions

Imphal, April 21
A Manipur Rifles jawan was killed and 17 others, including a superintending engineer and nine security personnel, were injured in separate explosions in Chandel and Imphal West districts of Manipur today, officials said.

They said suspected insurgents ambushed an official team, including the superintending engineer and Manipur Rifles personnel of 8th Battalion escorting them by exploding two bombs and opening fire at a place between Khudengtabi and Kwatha Lamkhai, about 110 km south-east of here, at 7.45 am.

A jawan, identified as Sushil Singh, was killed on the spot and 10 persons - six Manipur Rifles personnel and four civilians including the engineer - were injured by bomb splinters, sources said, adding the team was returning to Imphal from the border town of Moreh after inspecting the condition of some roads in the area.

Official reports from Chandel district said the injured civilians included an assistant engineer and two drivers.

All the injured were taken to a hospital in Imphal, they said, adding the condition of some of them was stated to be serious.

Four hours later, suspected insurgents also exploded a powerful bomb attached to a vehicle at the roadside at Sekmai area in Imphal West district injuring three CRPF personnel and four civilians, sources said, adding that condition of the injured was not stated to be serious.

No individual or group has claimed responsibility though the spots where the explosions took place were the operating zone of insurgents of different groups.

Police said security and police forces rushed to both the spots after the explosions were reported and launched massive search operations by blocking all exit points. The insurgents, who reportedly exploded the bombs by using remote control device, escaped into the nearby thick jungles and hilly areas.

Official sources said all security and police posts have been put on alert and instructed to check movement of insurgents under their jurisdiction.

An official report from Sekmai police station in Imphal West district said the bomb attached to a vehicle at the roadside exploded when a CRPF party was passing through the area, about 20 km north of Imphal. — PTI
Security for road building projects in Naxal-hit areas
Shiv Kumar/TNS

Mumbai, April 21
The Central Government will provide security cover for its ambitious road building programme in the Naxal-affected areas of the country, sources have said. “The Maharashtra Government has been asked to provide details of the road-building programmes in Gadchiroli and Gondia districts for which central security forces will be provided,” a senior state government official said.

Earlier this year, the Centre had earmarked around Rs 200 crore for the construction of roads and bridges in these two districts. Gadchiroli and Gondia are considered one of the most sensitive areas as road contractors and labour desist from working on projects here due to the Naxal menace.

“Apart from roads, a number of bridges and culverts are to be constructed in these two districts,” the official said.

The project is funded by the Surface Transport and Highways ministries at the Centre. Sources say three rivers — Godavari, Pranita and Indravati — will be bridged to improve connectivity between Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Gadchiroli and Gondia districts are thickly forested and tribesmen living in the area depend on selling minor forest produce. Improved road connectivity will help the local people reach markets more easily, say officials.

As part of the major road building drive in these areas, the state’s Chief Secretary will monitor provision of security cover for contractors and labour entrusted with road construction. The state government will also coordinate the movement of both state and central security forces under the new plan, say sources. The government is also expected to provide insurance cover for workers and equipment and eligibility norms of contractors are being relaxed to attract more bidders for such projects.
Army weighs options to check officer shortage, stagnation
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, April 21
In an effort to make the career of an Army officer even more attractive and promising, the Ministry of Defence is looking at three additional options aimed at tackling officer-shortage at junior level, opening up new opportunities for jawans to graduate as officers and remove stagnation at the middle level.

The Army faces a shortage of 10,100 officers, as per the Ministry of Defence reply to a question in Parliament on March 4 this year.

Sources confirm the three options are at various stages of administrative processing.

In making the Army attractive for short-service commissioned (SSC) officers, the Army had proposed that they should be given additional financial benefits in terms of a lump sum of Rs 10 lakh on the completion of 10-year service and further Rs 2 lakh per year up to 14 years of service. This will mean a payout of Rs 18 lakh over and above the payments under the existing 6th Pay Commission recommendations.

The Army has also proposed grant of ex-servicemen status on the completion of short service. SSC officers join around 21-23 years of age and leave after 14 years. Defence Minister AK Antony has agreed to it “in principle”.

The Ajai Vikram Singh Committee set up by the MoD had recommended in 2004 that SSCs should from 60 per cent of the officer cadre.

The second proposal is to allow jawans to take examination and attempt to graduate as commissioned officers. As of now, the age bracket for a jawan to take this exam is 28 to 35 years. The lower limit will be brought down to 24 years.

A jawan joins the force at 17-18 years of age. Some of them possess good academic record, but fail to study further due to economic hardship or family circumstances. By reducing the age limit to 24 years, the Army aims to motivate newly recruited jawans to study further.

This will not only address the problem of officer shortage, but also socially uplift jawans, who once promoted at young age can go on to become Lieut-Colonel after 13 years of service. A draft Cabinet note based on the Army proposal is under examination by the MoD.

The third option is to allow short-term deputation to other forces. As of now, only the National Security Guards and the Assam Rifles are open for the purpose. The Ajai Vikram Singh Committee had suggested this method of lateral entry and termed it as the “peel off” factor to mitigate stagnation at middle level. As of today, officers selected as Brigadier and Major Generals have to wait for months to “pick up” their rank as the Army has no system of promoting anyone till a vacancy arises. Again, this has the “in principle” approval of the Defence Minister and is being examined.


    To grant Rs 10 lakh to short-service commissioned officers on the completion of 10-year service and further Rs 2 lakh per year up to 14 years of service
    To allow jawans to take graduate examination so that they can make an attempt to become commissioned officers
    To allow short-term deputation to other forces
'Russia provides latest military tech exclusively to India'
Russia today reminded India that it provides latest cutting-edge technology exclusively to New Delhi unlike its "newly-acquired partners" in defence sector.

"Unlike its newly-acquired partners, we provide the latest cutting-edge technology to India and don't share it with others," Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin said at an IAF function here on frontline fighter aircraft MiG-21.

Kadakin said Russia was still India's biggest partner and it has orders worth over USD 20 billion for supplying defence hardware to its armed forces.

His comment came at a time when India is purchasing hardware from other countries -- the latest of which is French Rafale being shortlisted for 126 Medium-Multi Role Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) for the IAF.

Speaking on the occasion, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said 874 MiG-21s were inducted into the force of which over 200 were still in service.

The Indian Air Force is celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the induction of frontline MiG-21 fighters, which played a key role in 1965 and 1971 wars but later earned the sobriquet of 'flying coffin' due to their high rate of accidents.

Inducted into the IAF first in 1963, Artyom Mikoyan's brainchild took part in India's armed conflicts with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971.

During the two wars, the MiG-21s were at the forefront of air operations giving tough times to the Pakistan's American- origin fighters, including the Sabres and Starfighters.

The MiG-21s fired rockets at the Dhaka Governor's house during the 1971 war, resulting in the surrender of 90,000 Pakistan army troops under their commander Lt Gen A A Niyazi.

India continued the induction of the MiG-21s till the early 80s after which it went for the swing-wing MiG-23s and MiG-27s as a counter to F-16s of the Pakistan Air Force.

Though several types of MiG-21s have been phased out from service, over 100 of them will continue to provide strength to the IAF numbers till 2017.
Army’s resolve
Addressing graduating cadets of 127th PMA Long Course, Integrated Course 46 and Mujahid Course-1 at Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul on Saturday, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said that Pakistan was fully capable of responding effectively to any threat despite the current focus on internal security. “Pakistan is a peace loving country. Our quest for peace is essentially based on a genuine desire to improve our lot and that of our future generations. Let no one see it as a weakness”, the COAS put a three-pronged message for the world at large and immediate neighbours in particular.
He added that the armed forces remained fully prepared to defeat the enemies within and without. The resolve of the army chief despite the Pakistan Army’s engagement in the tribal belt to combat extremism and militancy and partial deployment in Balochistan and Karachi augers well for national interest. The credit of the assemblies completing their constitutional five-year tenure for the first time in the country’s history also goes to the armed forces and their leadership which preferred to carry forward a democratic agenda despite political hiccups and opportunities to step in on a number of occasions between 2008 and 2013.
The country’s armed forces have yet again shown their willingness to come to the aid of the civil administration in the quest for peaceful conduct of the May 11 polls. It may be pertinent to mention here that the armed forces have willingly offered a sizeable deployment on the polling day after the Election Commission of Pakistan declared as many as 20,000 polling stations across the country as sensitive. This resolve reflects the determination to help the country successfully complete a democratic transition to ensure consolidation of democracy in particular and state institutions in general. His observations that Pakistan was at present passing through difficult times but so has every other successful nation at some time in their history, is a testimony of this resolve. Pakistan Army, the COAS said, was fully committed to the cause and was as always standing with the nation. He assured the people that armed forces would succeed if they remained committed to the basis for the creation of Pakistan and remained steadfast as a nation.
However, Gen Kayani also chose the moment to make certain belligerent external forces to respect the Pakistani sentiment; not forgetting the skill of the forces to make a matching response of some very offensive statements in recent months. Although he made no specific references, it is broadly understood to be the Indian military hostilities across the Line of Control in January this year. The COAS said, “We have exercised restraint. Let it suffice to say that Pakistan is fully capable of responding effectively to any threat. Despite our current focus on internal security, we remain fully prepared to defeat an external direct threat.”
He said let there be no doubt that with a strong Pak Army and the nation standing behind it, no harm could ever come to Pakistan. He said that regardless of odds, Pakistan Army would keep on doing its best towards its common dream for a truly Islamic Republic of Pakistan as envisioned by the Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal. Referring to the Islamic provisions of the 1973 Constitution, Gen Kayani said Islam should serve as the most substantial bond to knit the nation, ensure the country’s socio-economic development as the basis of the creation of Pakistan that could not be taken out from its body politic. He said that in its short history, the country has overcome many a challenges that would have overwhelmed lesser nations; this is the country’s real potential, he sounded optimistic about the country’s future. He was confident that the nation can do it again.
The nation hopes that he is right.\04\22\story_22-4-2013_pg7_16
Imran pledges to withdraw army from FATA

PESHAWAR: Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan on Sunday claimed said that a new Pakistan would emerge after elections and there will be no room for corrupt individuals in the new set-up. “I promise you today that PTI will never compromise and will never bow to anyone,” Khan said while addressing cheering PTI supporters in a charged environment where party activists were dancing and clapping at regular intervals. Addressing public gatherings at D.I. Khan and Karak in connection with elections campaign, the PTI chief said a new Pakistan would be carved on May 11 that would represent the true aspirations of the people and would be devoid of corrupt elements.
He alleged that all major political parties had failed to deliver adding PTI would not let this happen again. He said that PTI has introduced young leadership in politics and their capabilities would help in forming a new Pakistan.
He said that PTI has awarded tickets to 250 candidates who are below 40 years adding they would create a new Pakistan.
Khan urged young generation to join hands for the victory of PTI in coming elections. He claimed that after assuming power, PTI would have relations with world nations according to the wishes of the people. PTI Chief said that he would withdraw army from FATA and include the tribesmen in national building process through negotiations. He claimed corruption is affecting the foreign investment and the process of country’s development.
He said that he would not deter from its resolve and fulfill pledges made to the public. He said that affiliations could not be bought by initiating laptops schemes. Imran Khan underlined the need for implementing true norms of justice in a society and said that justice was a pillar of Islamic society that was established by our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). He said that if voted to power, he would address the basic problems of Karak and DI Khan. agencies
Defence Ministry comes to life
Slowing economic growth, a depreciating rupee, and a string of arms purchase scandals that tarnished the ministry of defence (MoD) and scuttled ongoing purchases of weaponry together made a powerful case for building rather than buying defence equipment for India's military. In the dozen years since defence production was opened to foreign direct investment (with a 26 per cent cap) and to private Indian companies, the MoD has published a series of limp policies that merely paid lip service to indigenisation. Successive Defence Procurement Procedures (DPPs) of 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2011 took baby steps when giant strides were needed, creating despondency and mistrust within the private sector.

The latest procurement policy, DPP-2013, which the MoD cleared on Saturday, is a dramatic departure. The new acquisition procedure explicitly recognises that India's private sector is as Indian as the public sector behemoths. Now the Tata group, Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge and a multitude of others will be entitled to know what technologies and weaponry the military hopes to procure in the future, allowing these companies the lead time to develop and build these complex systems. Even more significantly, an import-happy military will no longer be allowed to import defence systems by deploying the convenient argument that any delay would endanger national security. Instead, the military must foresee its requirements well in advance, and project them to industry through a publicly available "Technology Perspective and Capability Road Map". Only if industry fails to develop the required equipment will import be considered. While long-range plans have always been shared with the defence public sector undertakings, the DPSUs have consistently failed to meet the military's needs. And the private sector has long been kept out on flimsy grounds of "security".

The DPP's details are not yet out; it is hoped that the fine print contains no devils. Also, indigenisation could yet be scuttled if the military refuses to accept into service indigenously developed weaponry on the grounds that better equipment can be bought elsewhere. The MoD must, therefore, explicitly mandate the concepts of "spiral development" and "capability-based deployment", which encourages the military to accept indigenously developed equipment into operational service, even when it falls marginally short of the laid-down specifications. This allows user feedback to be ploughed into a "Mark II" version of the equipment that meets or even surpasses the operational requirements. DPP-2013 has also not addressed a number of crucial issues, such as exchange rate variation (ERV) protection for private defence companies. This places the Indian private sector at a serious competitive disadvantage while bidding against foreign vendors. When the DPSUs are given ERV protection, why not their private counterparts? The gainer will be Indian defence capability.
Defence Ministry shows interest in Rajasthan govt's medicine scheme
aipur: Defence Ministry has shown interest in Rajasthan government's free medicines scheme and invited state officials for a presentation to MoD officials in Delhi.

Speaking at a function at the South Western Command here, MoS Defence Bhanwar Jitendra Singh requested the state health minister to send a team to Delhi for a presentation.

"Gehlot government has done remarkable work in Rajasthan. The state has a good scheme of free medicines and I request the health minister to ask his officials to give a presentation to MoD officers," Singh said.

Later, on the sideline of the function, Singh told reporters that his Ministry will explore how the scheme can be used in the Defence set up.

"We want to learn from the state government's experience with regard to free medicines schemes. We keep running welfare schemes and programmes for veterans and will see how they can be improved," he said.

The minister inaugurated online bill processing of Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS).

Online bill processing will benefit all members of ECHS by ensuring transparency and considerably reducing the time period between treatment of patients and release of payment to the empanelled hospitals, he said.

Six more polyclinics will be operationalised in the state by the end of this year, said Singh adding, the state will get two Sainik schools - one in Jhunjhunu and the other in Alwar.

When asked about the incursion by Chinese troops who entered the Indian territory in eastern Ladakh, the minister said, he was not in a position to comment on the matter as he has not received an official report yet.

Earlier in the day, Singh attended a rally of veterans in Kota.
Defence pensioners ask for increase in allowance
Reiterating their long pending demands that remain unfulfilled by the central government, defence pensioners expressed that they are being treated as a liability. On the occasion of the 28th Annual Convention of the Defence Services Civilian Pensioners Welfare Association (DSCPWA), around 250 delegates from 9 zonal offices of the body in North India assembled at the Government Museum and Art and Gallery in Sector 10.

Calling for the need to provide better medical facilities for the senior citizens, various speakers demanded the opening of dispensaries at each district headquarter under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS). An increase in the monthly medical allowance of the pensioners was also among the other major demands.

"The present fixed allowance of Rs 300 is far too inadequate to meet the medical needs of the pensioners. Since the prices of medicines are sky-high, the allowance must be increased to Rs 1,000," said D P Puri, president of the Amritsar zone, DSCPWA.

Demanding a 5 per cent increase in the old age pension gradually after the age of 65 years, S K Puri, President of DSCPWA said, "Although the government agrees that the optional age for retirement is 60 years, an increase in the pension is introduced only after 80 years. Like in other states, the Punjab government should follow the rule of a gradual increase of 5 percent in the pension after the age of 65".

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