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Thursday, 12 September 2013

From Today's Papers - 12 Sep 2013
Deprived ECHS members can now visit govt hospitals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Keeping in view the difficulties being faced by the Ex-servicemen’s Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), subscribers residing in districts not covered by the scheme, the Ministry of Defence has liberalised rules, allowing veterans to avail treatment at the local government hospitals.

Under the revised rules, veterans holding valid ECHS cards are entitled to in-patient treatment at Central, state or local self government hospitals without obtaining prior referral from the ECHS polyclinic located outside their home district.

Post-operative follow-up treatment in government hospitals would be permitted in the cases of renal transplant surgery, knee and hip joint replacement, cancer treatment and neuro and cardiac surgery. For this, prior permission would be required from the nearest ECHS polyclinic.

Medical re-imbursement claims in all cases would be submitted to the ECHS polyclinic concerned and the re-imbursement would be limited to the Central Government Health Service rates applicable to the nearest polyclinic and as per the ceiling rates and ward entitlements, or as per actuals, whichever may be lower. Recently, the defence ministry had provided some administrative relief to veterans and their dependants across the board by simplifying procedures for availing treatment for serious ailments that require frequent visits to the hospital.
Challenges in Afghanistan
Delhi must shed its pusillanimity on relations with Kabul
by G Parthasarathy

THE Air India flight from Kabul to New Delhi on September 5, in which I had travelled, had just landed when I was told at the arrival hall that Sushmita Banerjee had been brutally murdered by the Taliban in retribution for her expose of Taliban atrocities against women. The brutal murder again exposed the medieval and murderous characteristics of the Taliban with whom the US is almost desperately seeking “reconciliation.” This, after the Taliban, operating largely from bases in Pakistan, has killed 2,161 American combat personnel and wounded 19,080. What I found in a five-day visit to Afghanistan is that it is a country with unlimited opportunities for development and democracy, even while facing a brutal insurgency fuelled and funnelled from across its borders with Pakistan. Pakistan is an object of hate and derision across the country. Visitors from Pakistan in Kabul often prefer to describe themselves as “Hindustani” in Kabul’s bazaars.

In just over a decade after the medieval Taliban was ousted, Afghanistan has seen a remarkable political and social transformation. The country has since developed a robust political system. President Karzai and his ministers are freely criticised. The media is free and lively. Shahrukh Khan and his “Chennai Express” receive rave reviews. While schools were virtually defunct and women denied the right to education and work in the Taliban years, there are now 10.5 million students in educational institutions, with universities now flourishing in Kabul, Nangarhar, Khost, Herat and Balkh. Forty-eight per cent of all doctors and 60 per cent of teachers are women, who now are also well represented in the legislature and even in the army and the police.

Afghanistan is now preparing for the Presidential elections scheduled for around April, 2014. With President Karzai constitutionally ineligible for a third consecutive term, jockeying has commenced for who should succeed him. Afghanistan has traditionally been ruled by the dominant Pashtuns, with the Tajiks, Hazaras (predominantly Shia), Uzbeks and Turkmens who constitute over 50 per cent of the population, forming alliances to protect their interests. Powerful regional leaders with significant armed cadres like Mohammed Atta in Mazar-e-Sharif and Ismail Khan in Herat will have a significant say in any outcome. This jockeying for viable coalitions will continue till the Presidential elections are held. President Hamid Karzai, derided by the Americans and their British camp followers, deserves high praise for the way in which Afghan democratic institutions have been nurtured, ethnic, sectarian and religious pluralism respected and the state and educational institutions developed, in his 11 years as President. Even the miniscule Sikh and Hindu communities are now represented in Parliament.

There are understandable suspicions in Afghanistan about the future American role after they end their combat operations in December 2014. Recognising their economic and military vulnerabilities, Afghans realise that they will have to conclude a security pact with the Americans, giving the Americans more than half a dozen air bases, if they are to secure American and western economic and military assistance. It will require at least 10 years of relative peace for the Afghans to become economically self-reliant, by developing their agricultural and mineral potential. What is most worrying for the Afghans is the American policy of supplying their armed forces only weapons with limited firepower, while denying them artillery, tanks and other heavy weaponry, which they possessed earlier, but were destroyed by the Americans shortly after they arrived. This is a source of deep anger and anguish as Afghanistan's ill-equipped armed forces are taking huge casualties as they confront the Pakistan-backed Taliban. American policies are widely seen as a deliberate ploy to force the Afghans to “reconcile” with the Pakistan-backed Taliban and Haqqani network with Pakistani "facilitation".

While the Afghans are seeking good neighbourly relations with Pakistan, the overwhelming view is that there will be no change in Pakistan's malevolence in the near future. In contrast there is huge admiration and affection for India with public opinion polls indicating that India is the most highly regarded country, by 74 per cent of Afghans polled. Ninety-one per cent of Afghans polled have an “unfavourable” view of Pakistan, with 58 per cent regarding the Taliban as the “biggest danger” to their country even when including local warlords, drug smugglers and the US. India's economic assistance and political non-interference have played a crucial role in this. But this favourable perception is slowly changing, primarily because of India's refusal to provide any military equipment to the Afghan army, which has deliberately been kept inadequately equipped.

With Russia now poised for a larger economic role and ready to supply military equipment on commercial terms (something the Afghans cannot afford), it is time to review our approach of dovetailing our policies almost totally with those of the US and worrying needlessly about Pakistani reactions to our policies, which are, in any case malevolent, and will remain so. New Delhi must shed its pusillanimity on relations with Afghanistan. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should personally get President Putin’s concurrence for transferring military equipment of Soviet origin like India’s older T 62/T 55 tanks and MiG 21/23 fighters to Afghanistan. It is also shocking that while we have supplied 105 mm Field Guns and Howitzers to Myanmar, we are seeking every conceivable excuse to refrain from doing so to Afghanistan. Arms transfers have to be complemented by an institutionalised tripartite India-Russian-Afghanistan dialogue on security issues so that proposals for promoting security cooperation are expeditiously implemented. There is also need to reach out to Iran, activating the India-Iran-Afghanistan tripartite dialogue on the development of Chahbahar port and road communications between Iran and Afghanistan.

Any Indian visiting Afghanistan cannot but be proud of the sterling role of our diplomats who live barricaded, under a heavy security cover. Particular tributes need to be paid to successive Ambassadors” — Vivek Katju, Rakesh Sood, Jayant Prasad, Gautam Mukhopadhyay, Amar Sinha — and their diplomatic colleagues, military staff and the ITBP security personnel. Likewise, the role of our diplomats living in a challenging environment in Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif deserves high praise. These are all individuals who have soldiered on bravely, leading spartan lives, away from their families, in the face terrorist threats. Similar tributes have to be paid to all those engineers, doctors and construction workers who have done India proud in Afghanistan. Those who have sacrificed their lives in this effort should have their names engraved on the premises of India’s new Chancery building. Their selflessness should spur others to join the effort to make Afghanistan and our neighbourhood free from the scourge of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
India, Pakistan Armies Exchange Fire in Kashmir
The armies of India and Pakistan Wednesday fired on each other's positions on line-of-control (LoC) in Kashmir, officials said.

The ceasefire violation took place in the afternoon in Mendhar sector of frontier Poonch district, around 185 km southwest of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

"Pakistani army today violated ceasefire and targeted our posts in Mendhar area at 12:30 p.m.," said S N Acharya, Indian army spokesman in Jammu. "Our side also retaliated in an effective manner to Pakistani firing."

The firing from both sides continued for more than one hour." They (Pakistani army) used small arms and rocket propelled grenades to target our posts," Acharaya said. "We have not suffered any damage because of Pakistani firing."

The ceasefire violation has come two days ahead of possible meeting between India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz. The leaders according to reports are likely to meet on Friday in Kyrgyzstan.

Reports said both countries are making efforts for a meeting between Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif in New York on sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly later this month.

Skirmishes between two armies are going on almost at daily basis for the past one month. Majority of the exchanges took place on LoC in Poonch.

LoC is a de facto border that divides Kashmir into India and Pakistan controlled parts.Both India and Pakistan blame each other of resorting to unprovoked firing that triggers skirmishes resulting in civilian or troop casualties on either side.

Last month five Indian troops were killed and another wounded in a deadly ambush near Sarla in Poonch. India accused Pakistani troops of entering into its territory and carrying out the attack, a charge Pakistan denies.

Following the incident reports say so far three Pakistani troopers including an officer were killed in Indian firing on LoC. New Delhi and Islamabad in 2003 agreed to observe ceasefire along the international border and LoC in Kashmir. Though some violations have been reported on both sides, the ceasefire remains in effect.
Army free to respond to situation on LoC: Indian Defence Minister
NEW DELHI: India’s Defence Minister A.K Antony said on Monday that armed forces were free to respond to situation on the Line of Control (LoC).

He said that Indian forces had freedom to respond appropriately to the developing situation at the border.

Aggression of India forces coupled with this sort of statements by the minister have been fanning already tense situation as well as persistently testing Pakistan’s patience.

New Delhi’s allegations, Indian army’s aggression at the LoC and attitude of Indian rulers are also aggravating the prevailing situation between both the neighbors
Army see red after 4-1 thrashing
A brace by Asim Hassan and a goal each by Henry Ezeh and Parvinder Singh helped ONGC rout Army Red 4-1 in the Durand Trophy group stage match at the Ambedkar stadium on Wednesday. In the second match of the day, Air India was beaten by Indian Navy 2-0. Army Red have finished both their group matches winning one and losing the other, but their passage to the semifinal becomes very tough especially after conceding four goals against ONGC which may affect their goal difference.

Despite starting as the underdog against an ONGC side which has I-League experience, it was the Army side that drew the first blood. As early as in the 19th minute, Army Red were given an opportunity to go ahead when winger Lal Ramneen Moya charged into the box from the left flank. In order to thwart his run, ONGC's left back Sachin Gawas obstructed him just inside the box and the referee awarded Army a penalty. It was a similar opening for Army Red as they went ahead through a penalty against Pune FC in the opener. They called on their defender-cum-penalty expert Vipin TV to take the kick and he obliged, as Army Red took an early lead.

ONGC regrouped and began to put pressure on the opposition. Despite getting a few half-chances, the side failed to convert them, at least until near the end of the first half. In the 39th minute, ONGC skipper Jatin Bisht found his way into the Army box.and on the run, hit a volley towards the goal. Though the strike was superbly saved by Army goalie AK Balwant, the ball rebounded from his hands and fell kindly to Asim Hassan, who tapped in for the equaliser.

After the breather, ONGC took full control of the game. Their attacks multiplied and the score remained level only because the side missed the target repeatedly at the end of good moves. In the 58th minute, Hassan scored his second of the game with a run through the right flank and a right-footed shot from just outside the box. The goal put ONGC ahead and set up the side's Nigerian recruit and striker Henry Ezeh for the third goal.

With Army Red on the lookout for an equaliser, they were always going to be vulnerable on the counter and that is how ONGC got their third. With an Army Red move ending tamely in the hands of the goal-keeper, the long clearance fell to the lone guy in the other half, Ezeh.

The striker pushed aside the attentions of defender Vipin TV, tapping in his side's third goal at leisure in the 64th minute.

In the 73rd minute, ONGC coach C Pinho replaced Lavino Fernandes with Kamaluddin Khan. His move paid rewards just two minutes later when Khan dribbled past the Army midfield and from the right flank, played in Parwinder Singh who was making a run form the center. As soon as Parwinder entered the box, Khan sent a measured cross to him which was left-footed on the go for the side's fourth in the 76th minute.
Army Looks To Schools To Find The Next Cyberwarriors
You can literally see rockets when you drive into Huntsville, Ala., also known as the "Rocket City." NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center is here, along with scores of aerospace and defense contractors. The city also has one of the largest fully digital school districts: 24,000 Huntsville City Schools students use laptops or tablets instead of textbooks.

All of this partly explains the new cybersecurity class at Grissom High School. Huntsville City Schools and U.S. Army Cyber Command are developing the curriculum, which will eventually begin in middle school.

From the case of NSA whistle-blower Eric Snowden to potential threats from Chinese hackers, talk of cybersecurity is everywhere — and many experts think the United States is simply not up to today's threats. One big reason why, they say, is too few U.S. workers with the right skills.

The Huntsville Schools-Army Cyber Command partnership aims to tackle that problem by getting more young people into the cybersecurity career pipeline.

A Growing Demand

Rodney Visser, a "threat provider" for the Defense Department, hacks military networks to expose vulnerabilities. But on a recent afternoon, he's here at Grissom, guest lecturing to a class of 20 students.

"We'll go in, and pretend to be the Chinese or the Russians or whoever, and either hack into computer systems, or break into buildings and gain access to critical information and networks and cool stuff like that," Visser tells the students.

James Lewis, director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says military branches and the private sector are all competing for high-tech expertise. He says government and private-sector demand for those cyber-experts is increasing as key systems become more Web-connected.

"Global financial systems are dependent. Electrical systems are dependent. You could turn off the water supply, maybe the traffic system," Lewis says. "The ability to disrupt is becoming, unfortunately, a lot easier to pull off."

At Grissom High, Visser points out that those threats also apply to dams, nuclear power plants, missiles and radar systems. Add in private-sector cybercrime, and you can see why security providers across the board are looking for talent.

Huntsville's new farm team may include students like Matthew Rogers, a junior at Grissom. "The infrastructure damage could happen in the hit of a button, so it's very important," Matthew says, " 'cause the governments are currently very good at offense, but none of them are very good at defense. It's probably something I'm looking to get into in my future career."

Christopher Lin, also a junior, loves cracking codes. He was interested in programming before, he says, but the course curriculum has him rethinking his career path.

"I also have a huge interest in security, just because I hear all the news about security, and all the stuff that's going on is really cool," he says. "And it's a growing field and it's something I would like to do as a career if I can."

Thinking Ahead

But early preparation for these jobs raises at least two issues. Grissom cybersecurity teacher Christine Sutton says some students want to learn to hack their classmates' accounts — not skills she teaches in her class, she's quick to note.

Secondly, cybersecurity careers often require what other jobs don't — a security clearance. And that's something drug use or ill-advised social media posts could easily derail, she says.

"There are a lot of lifestyle choices that kids are making right now in high school that could stand in the way of them having some of the really exciting careers," Sutton explains.

Back in the classroom, Visser is optimistic. He says he's working to make sure future cyberdefenders meet the threat better than his generation is now. And he thinks economic and national security depends on it.

"Networks all over the place are getting attacked and pretty much constantly," he says. "They're always getting scanned and probed. So that's where some of you bright young minds might come into it."

Army and Huntsville leaders hope their curriculum will eventually spread across the country. At the end of the class, an enthusiastic junior admitts he skipped his advanced-placement history class to sit in on the session.

"I think you made the right choice," Visser says, half-joking.
16 land at Army recruitment office with fake job letters
TRICHY: Their dream was to serve the Army. But the law caught up with 16 youths who reported to the recruitment office in Trichy with fake call letters, which said they had been selected as soldiers (general duty). The director of the recruitment office, G George, handed them over to the police on Thursday. They are now lodged in Trichy jail.

The youths are from Tirunelveli. The complaint from George said the candidates were lured into the act by an agent named Karuppasamy from Tuticorin. George asked the deputy commissioner of police (law and order) to take exemplary action so that the image of the Army was not tarnished.

He told TOI that the fake call letters were made out of a copy of the original letterhead, but with a fake stamp. It is yet to be ascertained at what stage they were lured by the middleman. The scam came to light after Army officers failed to find the names of the 16 youths in the list of candidates who had been dispatched call letters. The cheated candidates paid between 1 to 2 lakh to a person in the Army. They said a person in a Maruti car sporting an Army sticker contacted them for the fake letters.

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