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Sunday, 9 June 2013

From Today's Papers - 09 Jun 2013





As China builds on border, policy potholes block India
India’s building of roads along the China border has been tardy. In seven years, only 16 of the planned 73 projects have seen fruition. Slow clearances and tough terrain are the challenges. China, meanwhile, has built a formidable road and rail network.
By Ajay Banerjee

Inertia in inter-ministerial coordination, coupled with a sluggish pace of construction and challenges posed by the formidable Himalayas, is critically hindering India’s strategic plans to build a road and rail network along the 4,057-km frontier with China.

A majority of the strategic road projects are several years behind schedule, making a mockery of the 2012 deadline set by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the topmost security-related decision-making body at the Centre headed by the Prime Minister.

The realities of the lackadaisical approach cropped up at a meeting on May 20 this year. Defence Minister AK Antony was reportedly aghast at the slow progress on the 73 projects classified as India-China Border Roads (ICBR). He asked the road constructing authority, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), to expedite the work.

It was on June 29, 2006, that the CCS had directed the BRO to complete the task in six years (by 2012).

The BRO’s record provided to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) says as of March 31, 2013, only 16 of the planned 73 roads had been completed on the China frontier. Out of these, six had a length of less than 10 km, which means they are no more than a local connection. After spending huge sums, only 15 per cent of the work has been completed in seven years. In other words, only 527 km of roads, out of the mandated 3,505 km, have been completed.

So far, a sum of Rs 5,889 crore has been spent on the 73 roads, which includes formation works, labour cost, etc. Now, a more realistic deadline has been set for 2016 and “beyond-2016”.

The CCS decision was a far-reaching strategic policy as it approved the construction of a road network along the entire India-China frontier. It was a reversal of an unwritten code under which the Government of India had deliberately did not built a road network in the Himalayas, fearing a repeat of the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict. New Delhi feared that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China, which is much bigger than the Indian Army, could use India’s own road network to rapidly advance down the Himalayas.

Stuck in time

Forest and wildlife conservation laws in India are a serious hurdle. With the Supreme Court getting strict on violators, the pace of work is sluggish, with clearances pending for more than six years in some cases. In the Himalayas, the peaks have trees and a thriving wildlife. The ecology of the mountains and the rivers originating there affects the lives of billions of people living in the plains. Forest and wildlife clearances therefore turn out to be the biggest stumbling block when the BRO seeks to start a road project.

Clearance under the Environment Protection Act is not a big issue for border roads, but forest and wildlife clearances are required under the Forest Conservation Rules and Wildlife Protection Act, respectively. These are part of the Forest Conservation Rules, 2003, that prescribe timelines for clearance of proposals at the state and Central government levels. It takes 90 days to process at the state government level and 60 days at the Central level for border roads along the Indo-China border and projects of national security importance.

However, in reality, the timelines are almost never followed. A study within the MoD has found that the average time taken is two-three years, and in certain cases even more than that.

The horizontal spread of the Himalayas is a global biodiversity hot spot and hence one rule cannot apply to all parts of the mountain range. The concerns of states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand on trees getting cut or the wildlife being affected would not apply to Ladakh. However, in the militarily sensitive eastern Ladakh region, vast areas have been designated as “cold desert wildlife sanctuaries”, holding back roads to key areas which are perpetually in focus along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. The LAC is the nomenclature for parts of the border of which the alignment is accepted by neither India nor China.

“Not a blade of grass grows there and animal life is non-existent,” says a senior Army officer while pointing out at the dichotomy of such a ban. This flat plateau saw major battles in the 1962 war. On a similar terrain and ecology on its side, China has gone ahead with providing all-weather connectivity.

In Uttarakhand, there is a ban on stone quarrying in the Ganga catchment area.

A way around


The MoD and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) are now working to bring about a legal provision that will speed up road construction by exempting border infrastructure from all relevant Acts of forest and wildlife. The first tentative draft of the Strategic Border Infrastructure (Development) Bill, 2011, with comments of the stakeholders concerned, was sent by the MHA to the Ministry of Law and Justice, which brought out the second working draft of the Bill. “The draft has been examined by the MHA and it is being fine-tuned,” the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence said in its report in the House on April 29, adding “the delay in forest and wildlife clearances has been an impediment”.


The two ministries want roads within 50 km of the international border and the LAC to be exempted from controls. There can be no blanket permission or ban on infrastructure construction. “Each project can have an independent biodiversity impact assessment committee of experts which will submit a report to the National Board of Wildlife,” says an official dealing with the issue. “This route was adopted in eastern Ladakh and approvals have started flowing in,” he adds.


The MoD filed an interlocutory application in the Supreme Court, seeking exemption of strategic roads from the ambit of wildlife and forest applications, but it was turned down on September 23, 2011, citing “measures taken by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to expedite the clearance being adequate”.


Efforts made by the ministry to fast-track clearances have yielded some gains. The MoD is now taking up the matter with nodal officers of the BRO at the project levels as well as the MoEF and state forest departments to ensure regular liaison to expedite clearances.


Out of the 99 cases of clearances for the ICBR projects, approvals have been accorded in 79 cases, but the real work of cutting through rock and at heights which have deep valleys and no access points remain.


Slow tunnel work


The MoD and Army want a total of 17 tunnels at various locations in the Himalayas. The MoD had suggested seven tunnels, for which detailed project reports (DPRs) are under way to examine feasibility. These include one under the 18,300-ft Khardung La, leading to the Siachen Glacier and the sensitive Daulat Beg Oldie in northern Ladakh. In addition to these, the Army has endorsed the construction of 11 more tunnels in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and J&K, which could be taken up subsequently. So far, only one major tunnel is under construction to cut under the Rohtang Pass on the Manali-Sarchu-Leh road, for which the deadline is February 2015. The plans for tunnels are at various stages of approval so that the construction can commence expeditiously. The BRO and other agencies have little expertise in high-altitude tunnelling.


Difficult terrain


On the Chinese side, the Tibetan plateau is almost treeless. It is a cold desert and, unlike the Himalayas which have high peaks, it is flat, allowing easier movement of material and equipment. The Himalayas are jagged, high and inaccessible with narrow valleys. The Tibetan plateau — at an altitude of 11,000 feet — is cold but gets little or no snowfall. In contrast, the Himalayan passes like the Zoji La, Rohtang and Baralacha in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal receive huge amounts of snow, restricting road access for months and making in difficult to move equipment. Rather, the BRO spends weeks each year just to clear snow from these passes. In the East, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim face the same problems. Also, snow in the Himalayas allows a short working window during the summer months and the remaining time is lost due to weather and shortage of labour.


The Defence Ministry has admitted China has a “geographical advantage” along the border. A report of the parliamentary committee in August 2011 quoted the Defence Secretary as saying: “China has been building its infrastructure. They have the advantage of topography because they have the Tibetan Plateau whereas from our side, the terrain and geography are more difficult”.


Several spots in the Himalayas can only be reached on foot. Sending material is possible only through helicopters, but the IAF capability of Mi-17 helicopters is stretched. The MoD had toyed with the idea of hiring choppers, but it did not work. As per estimates, the BRO needs an annual lift capability of 3,500 tonne. Each Mi-17 can take up to 2-3 tonnes, depending on the altitude.

Poor access undermines defence
Infrastructural edge: China can move troops across frontier far more rapidly than India

A series of Chinese military exercises atop the Tibetan Plateau over the past two years have held out warning signals for India. At least three of these exercises were to practice rapid movement of a large body of troops, equipment, tanks and supplies, backed by fighter planes, to mimic a conflict scenario.


All military exercises mimic a war situation. However, for India the red herring in the exercises was the sheer number of troops and pieces of equipment they moved. The speed at which it was done was unprecedented. The importance of the Chinese military exercises was not lost on Indian strategic planners in New Delhi’s South Block. Around September 2012, an assessment was made to study the impact and possible threats for India.


Using a network of roads and rail lines, China showed it could rapidly move its troops east to west or vice-versa. Out of the three exercises, the ones in March 2012 and September 2012 were the biggest. In March this year, the China’s State Council published a White Paper titled ‘The Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces’, which talked about the rapid movements and said it had extensively practised the move to concentrate troops. “Trans-Military Area Command (MAC) movements have been carried out. In 2012, the Chengdu MAC and Lanzhou MAC carried out the exercise”. Out of a total of seven MACs of China, Chengdu and Lanzhou are the two tasked the Sikkim/Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh frontiers, respectively.


In 2012, more than three divisions (some 45,000 troops) were moved along with key equipment, missile launchers, tanks and other paraphernalia.


Encumbered movement


India, on the other hand, knows it would struggle to rapidly move even one-fifth of that volume of troops and equipment from one theatre of war in the Himalayas to another in the mountains. The Indian reinforcements, if any, will have to come from bases in the plains. During the winter months the reinforcements to places in Ladakh or Arunachal Pradesh will have to use transport planes which have limited capacities — possibly one tank or 200 troops can be sent at a time. The addition of C-130-J and the June-slated induction of the C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft will augment the capacity of the existing fleet of Russian-built IL-76.


Moving reinforcements by road could take three or four days to reach a spot, whereas China can do it in a day due to the excellent roads.


A serving Army officer, who has worked in a key position in the Himalayas, said, “Even in summer if we use roads to move a brigade (some 4,500 men) as reinforcement it could take a week. In winter, it would be impossible, unless the snow is cleared from the high passes”.


It was in view of this that the demand for strategic rail lines was being fast-tracked, and there was also a push to build smooth road access to remote valleys, the officer added.


Dr Rajeshwari Rajgopalan, senior research fellow at the New Delhi-based think tank, Observer Research Foundation, in her assessment of the relatively lower level of infrastructure on the Indian side, said: “India could face military setbacks in case of a limited conflict, as China can concentrate large number of forces within a few days at a particular spot, beating any defence”.


An internal assessment by the armed forces reads: “Chinese infrastructure is right at the borders, while ours is some 50-70 km short of it.” Pointing to the new thrust of the Chinese to build oil pipelines on the Tibetan plateau, Dr Rajgopalan says: “Logistics of fuel supply to Chinese military vehicles will be taken care of by this”.


Fair-weather logistics


Conversely, India, even during normal times, struggles to maintain supplies. The forward areas in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh have to stock everything for six months as the mountain passes become inaccessible in winter. In an emergency, supplies and troops are moved by aircraft or helicopters.


As per the Indian assessment, the railway lines in Tibet will allow China to relocate some 30 divisions (approximately 4.5 lakh men) within a month to station them at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India.


Between the two MACs of Lanzhou and Chengdu, the Chinese PLA has a total of nine divisions (1.35 lakh troops) besides five mechanised brigades that posses tanks and infantry combat vehicles. The Indian Army has eight divisions (1.2 lakh) facing China — spread across Ladakh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. However, the handicap is lies in moving tanks and sending in reinforcements from the plains. The Chinese, on the other hand, can move around any number of troops in these MACs using its infrastructure to concentrate a large number of troops in a small area to attack and overcome Indian positions at a particular point. — AB

Confusion over crossroads within BRO


There’s a fight within the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). With a litany of complaints, a section of employees are demanding their rights. Matters that should have been sorted out at the administrative level have been left to the court to decide.


Suggestions have even been made to split the BRO into two parts — one run by the Army and the other by civilian engineers. Defence Minister AK Antony has tasked his junior, Minister of State (MoS) for Defence Jitendra Singh, to address the human resource issues.


The Secretary of the Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) is from the IAS while its Chairman is the MoS, Defence. Funds are embedded in the budget of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The Director-General Border Roads (DGBR) is a Lt-General rank officer while the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) comprises civilian engineers who wear khaki uniform and are covered under the Army Act. They are recruited through an examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. The DGBR is the executive head of GREF.


Amid this cross-holding lies the dispute. The civilian staff, which forms 95 per cent of the work force, has petitioned the MoD saying the post of DGBR should be opened to civilian engineers also and not restricted to the Army alone. Out of the BRO’s authorised strength of 42,646 employees, some 3,000 are from the Army.


In April this year, the issue of rotation policy for postings has been on the forefront. Since GREF engineers are covered under the Army Act, which prohibits formation of any association or union, their wives have formed the GREF Employees Wives Welfare Association. This body met the MoS, Defence, with a memorandum on April 25 and suggested “dividing the organisation in two different entities” — one run by the Army and the other by GREF.


The memorandum alleged that orders regarding the implementation of a rotation policy had been violated. In 2010, the MoD issued orders that civilian engineers and Army officers will alternately command GREF projects and the GREF Centre. The memorandum cited the names of a few Army officers who had been posted bypassing the “rotational policy”.


It went on to allege that Army officers who had not been given a “substantive rank” of Brigadier were being posted as Chief Engineers in GREF. “This was against the advice of the Defence Secretary, asking not to post local rank Brigadiers against the post of GREF Chief Engineers,” it said.


A matter is pending in court questioning the very continuation of Army officers in the BRO. At a closed-door meeting in January 2010, Lt-Gen MC Bhadani, then DGBR, had stated: “The BRO men are too stressed, working their entire career in very difficult areas and cut away from their families”. Three years later nothing has changed. — AB


The builders on border


    The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) was formed in 1960 to create a single executive body for road development in the remote North and North-East regions of the country.

    Its administrative arm, the Border Roads Development Board (BRDB), was set up as an inter-ministerial body as a department under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

    The General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) was raised in June 1960.

    The Director-General Border Roads is the field arm of the BRDB.

Army bashing: A new found journalistic ethic?

A national newspaper came out with a scoop insinuating that a routine troop movement around Delhi was an Army coup in the making. A top secret letter addressed to the Prime Minister by General VK Singh, the then Army Chief was leaked to the press and attempts were made to implicate the Chief himself for the leak. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) who was ordered to investigate the matter has gone silent as if they had lost all their investigative skills!! The sanctity attached to a classified privileged communication from the Army Chief to the Prime Minister relating to national security was thus thrown to the winds.


Another newspaper came up with a front page story captioned “Generals home in on capital prime plot” Are the defence services officers meant to be thrown into a remote areas only throughout their life? Not long ago (1970s) the Cantonment area referred to in article was a remote area. Is it their fault if the area flourishes to become a posh area? Beyond the Daula Kuan circle (A roundabout existed then) an auto rickshaw would demand 50 rupees extra as it would be difficult for him to find return passenger.


If one had hoped that our newspaper czars would have learnt from these experiences, it was a mistaken optimism. The pity is, everyone involved in these outrageous exclusives got away without any reproof!


A leading newspaper has come up with yet another dubious report harming the reputation of an individual officer. An article titled “Senior Army general shunted after charges of irregularity”, smacks of disgraceful mudslinging against a senior officer of the Indian Army without presenting any valid substance. Take a look at it and the motive would be more than evident. The report could have been planted for some extraneous considerations or mischievous intents but it has cast a doubt on the credibility and the journalistic ethics followed by one of the leading newspapers of the country.

The officer concerned is Lt Gen JP Nehra and not Lt Gen JP Mehra as reported. Obviously the reporter did not even consider it necessary to check on the correct name of the officer leave alone the facts. The editor concerned could have verified the facts but he too failed to discharge his responsibility. What was the tearing hurry for publishing the story without proper verification? Is this the way newspapers are expected to function?


The theory that the Adjutant General (AG) was transferred “abruptly” is absurd. Today in the Indian Army, even Corps Commanders who are commanders of field formations are transferred in about a year. AG is merely a staff appointment and therefore transferring the incumbent in less than a year and a half is nothing abnormal. Lt Gen Nehra was appointed AG, a Principle Staff Officer (PSO) by General VK Singh. It is possible that the present incumbent wishes to have an officer of his choice in his place. As the Chief, he is well within his right to seek a change.


The newspaper alleges that a Ministry of Defence (MOD) source has said that the “ministry top brass was briefed by the Army leadership about the alleged irregularities and sought its approval for moving him out”. Since the case pertains to the AG, a PSO and a very senior officer, if at all any military leadership had briefed the ministry top brass, it cannot be anyone but the Chief. “Moving out” for committing irregularities? Guess where the officer was moved out – right within the same headquarters as the Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (DCOAS), an appointment which deals with important issues connected with operations. The punishment is as mystifying as the allegation itself.


The report claims serious allegations of “misappropriations in the Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO), Ex – Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) etc”. The author has not clarified what that “etc.” meant. The report goes on further to state that “internal enquiries have found serious problems with the way the schemes were implemented and have indicated the possibility of massive irregularities”. What exactly is the reporter meaning? Is he suggesting shortcomings in implementation of the schemes or is he talking about “massive irregularities”?


The reporter probably is unaware that AWHO and ECHS have a serving senior officer each as the head and are designated as Managing Directors (MD). The responsibility to run these organisations rests squarely on the MDs and not the AG. So if the so called internal inquiries found flaws in implementation, details of which the author has not specified, the blame for faulty implementation will fall unequivocally on the MDs.


The author has brought about yet another angle to his story by alleging that the AWHO projects have been “delayed around the country and in many cases serious misappropriation allegations have surfaced.” Yes, AWHO has a number of Projects running simultaneously throughout the country under different Project Directors. It is possible that there are some delays, shortcomings or corruption cases in some of the projects. If it is so, would the culpability fall on the Project Director, the MD who is the final implementing authority, the DG Welfare under whom the AWHO works or the AG who oversees AWHO’s work? It is here that the intention behind the story stands exposed.


The author ought to have known that all decisions pertaining to AWHO are taken by an Executive Committee consisting of the AG as the Chairman, with the Quartermaster General, and the Engineer in Chief both PSOs as members. These decisions are ratified by a Board of Governors consisting of Major Generals in Charge of Administration of all the Commands.


In the case of ECHS, the allegation is that “implementation of the scheme was marked by serious questions of propriety” What it means or implies is anybody’s guess. It may be relevant to mention here that funds for ECHS and the financial sanctions are accorded by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the organisation is run by its MD. How is the AG involved in irregularities?


The reporter has meandered around using expressions such as implementation shortcomings, massive irregularities, delays and propriety without being specific. If indeed something was seriously wrong, why was he evasive? Obviously, he was either not sure of the facts or the aim was to essentially discredit the officer. The authenticity, credibility and the motive behind the story are therefore suspect and questionable. The point is, a national newspaper cannot make allegations based on rumors and hearsays, breech all journalistic norms and propriety to discredit an individual and go scot free.


The story further suggests that the Army’s effort to play down the allegations reflect the eagerness of Army Chief not to attract unwanted and negative attention to his service after the tumultuous tenure of his predecessor Gen VK Singh. He further goes on to allude that the Chief is quietly trying to clean up various wings of the Army. Army Chiefs are not pussies. They have the mandate and the authority to be forthright and clean up things if there is a need. If the current Chief is in any way different, I am not aware of it.


The author and the newspaper perhaps are not aware or sensitive to the damage that they have done to the Army in the process. Just imagine the effect it will have on the troops and how it will affect officer man relationship. The Indian Army needs no enemy or traitors from across the borders!!


The Defence Minister and the Chief are the only two individuals who are privy to the reasons for the move of the General Officer from the post of AG to DCOAS. Whatever be the reason, to avoid damage to the institution one of them will have to come out and clarify the matter without any delay.

Army calls off search operation on LoC in Poonch

Jammu: Army on Saturday called off search operation in the dense forest areas along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district, where a Junior Commissioned Officer was killed when Pakistan troops opened heavy fire on Indian posts on Friday.


"Massive search operation which was launched yesterday by the Army troops, have been called off this afternoon," a defence source said.


Nothing has been found during the search operation in the forest areas along the LoC in Subjian-Mandi belt, the source said.


Army troops had launched a massive search operation yesterday around 1 PM to flush out infiltrators, who they suspected to have sneaked into Indian territory during heavy cover firing and rocket attacks from Pakistan troops on Indian posts in Subjian-Mandi belt. JCO Naib Subedar, Bachan Singh, was killed in the firing.


As per the reports, a group of militants had been launched from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) into the Indian territory under the cover of heavy firing and rocket attacks in the same sector yesterday.

Military hospital gets advanced CT scan machine

PUNE: A state of the art 256 slice interventional and cardiac CT was inaugurated by Lt Gen Ashok Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command at the Military Hospital - Cardio Thoracic Centre (MH-CTC) here on Saturday .


The 256 slice CT, built by a leading multinational, is the first such installation in the Indian defence services. It is also the first in Pune and only the eighth in the country.


Brig Kamal Pathak, head of department of Radiology said that the 256 slice CT is the gold standard in non-invasive coronary angiography. It is also capable of providing high end applications including whole body angiography with volumetric reconstruction, perfusion studies, virtual bronchoscopy, volume calculation for surgical planning to name a few.


"The sub second rotation capability of the tube with a wide field of view ensures faster scan capabilities for dynamic imaging. This machine is capable of imaging and interpreting all respiratory conditions including Interstitial lung disease, TB and malignancy. It can track changes in size and characteristics of lung nodules suspicious for cancer," Pathak said during a briefing to the army commander.


Pathak said, "The machine has a robotic system for pinpoint guidance for biopsies and interventional procedures and has been made available to the Armed Forces for the first time."


This advanced CT scanner is the fastest scanner in the world taking less than half a second for one complete 360 degree rotation. It is also the most powerful CT scanner with a generator power of 120kW. The scanner provides a larger coverage i.e. 8 cm in one single rotation. The 256 sliceCT has multiple clinical benefits as compared to 64 slice, he said.


Some patients have irregular heart rate, fast heart rates or are obese. These conditions are better suited for 256 slice systems, which are faster and offer a larger imaging area. It is also helpful for patients whose medical condition makes it difficult to sustain a longer breath-hold. Now, patients have to hold their breath for five to eight seconds only, for a scan that would otherwise take about 15 seconds using a 64-slice detector.It also has the lowest radiation dose among all scans, he added.


The CT machine installed at MH-CTC would provide a new dimension and improved imaging capabilities to the servicemen, veterans and their families as well as to civilians who undergo treatment in this complex.

Record 74 foreign nationals pass out of IMA, 631 new officers join Indian Army



The passing-out-parade (POP) of the Indian Military Academy, located in Dehradun, was special this time with a record number of Foreign Gentlemen Cadets graduating from the academy.


The rain-affected POP began two hour late of the scheduled time on Saturday, with the ceremonious parade being reviewed by Air Chief Marshall NAK Browne.


This time, an all-time high of 74 Foreign Gentlemen Cadets (FGC) passed out of the academy. Besides this, 631  new officers joined the Indian Army after the graduating ceremony.


Among the maximum number of officers, 112 were from Uttar Pradesh, followed by Haryana with 60 and Uttarakhand 52.


Normally the batch of the FGCs is about fifty per session, but this time, it touched a new figure. A record 55 cadets were from Afghanistan and ten others from Tajikistan.


Cadets from Nepal, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Ethiopia also passed out of this batch to become young officers in their respective countries.


The Indian Military Academy has so far trained 1,247 foreign gentlemen cadets.


Commandant of the Indian Military Academy Lt-Gen. Manvendra Singh said, "This is highest ever number of Foreign Gentlemen Cadets to pass out of the IMA. Under the policy of the Government of India, cadets from friendly countries come here and get training. After spending time at the academy, these cadets become lifelong friends of India."



This time, 55 foreign cadets joined the academy under direct entry scheme and 19 others joined under the ex-National Defence Academy scheme.


Abdul Samim from Afghanistan is an alumnus of the NDA and he was awarded the best all-round foreign gentleman cadet on Saturday. Samim speaks fluent Hindi after spending over four years in India.


Sharing his experience Shamim says, "The foreign cadets find the initial two months at IMA challenging due to food and language barrier, but after that things become normal and they enjoy the training and also make a serious effort to learn Hindi."



The rain-affected POP failed to dampen the spirit of the cadets and the guests, who had come from different corners of India and many from foreign land, for the ceremony.


Owing to bad weather, the traditional ritual of army helicopters showering petals from the sky on passing out graduates could not take place.


The flawless parade by the passing out graduates created magic-like environment to woo the spectators. 


Motivating the cadets, Air Chief Marshall NAK Browne, said, "The Indian Army is going through a revolutionary phase of comprehensive capability enhancement and you Gentlemen would be at the forefront of these momentous changes. Irrespective of your chosen arms, you would be operating in a knowledge-centric environment and technology would be intrinsic to each and every facet of future combat operations. To meet the stringent demands of this new environment, there will be a need to constantly prepare and adapt. So my advice to you would be to 'Never stop learning'."


Among the Indian cadets, Siddhant Suhag was awarded the sword of honour for his best all-round performance in the course. Vikas Kumar was presented the gold medal for standing first in order of merit in the regular course.



A strange coincidence exists as both Siddhant and Vikas are from the same village, Bisahan (district: Jhajjar, Haryana).


Siddhant says, "It is estimated that our village has produced about a hundred officers for the Indian Army. I also got motivated by the marshal tradition of my village to join the armed forces."




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