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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

From Today's Papers - 01 Oct 2013


Payoff row: NC MLAs move privilege motion against VK Singh

Ehsan Fazili/ TNS


Srinagar, September 30

The ruling National Conference legislators today moved privilege motions in both Houses of the state legislature against the former Army Chief Gen (Retd) V K Singh for his comments about making payments to ministers of Jammu and Kashmir.


Contrary to the rules and convention, the obituary references on the opening day of the Assembly session turned into debate and discussion on the remarks of the former Army Chief and the recent incidents of violence across the state.


Gen (retd) VK Singh had recently alleged that payments have been made by the Army to state ministers for “winning people’s hearts” adding that the agriculture minister and Congress leader Ghulam Hassan Mir had received Rs 1.19 crore from the Army.


As the MLAs, cutting across the party lines, expressed concern over the killings, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mir Saifulla intervened, saying that it was in violation of the rules and convention. He urged Speaker Mubarak Gul to ask the members to restrict their speeches to the obituary references.


While the Deputy Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Tara Chand concluded the discussion on the obituary references, senior NC leader and Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather informed the House that a privilege motion against the former Army Chief had been submitted to the Speaker.

Age Controversy

Faces contempt proceedings

Legal Correspondent


New Delhi, September 30

The Supreme Court has initiated contempt proceedings against former Army Chief Gen VK Singh for questioning its fairness in disposing of his petition relating to the controversy over his age.


A bench comprising Justices RM Lodha and HL Gokhale, which had heard Gen Singh’s petition, will take up the contempt proceedings tomorrow. The bench has slapped contempt on Gen VK Singh by taking suo motu notice of media reports last week, quoting him in this connection.


“If the court can define the age of a rape victim on the basis of his matriculation certificate, then why has the Supreme Court failed to decide my age despite checking and cross-checking my certificates,” Gen Singh had been quoted as having said.


In fact, the SC had not delivered any judgment on Gen VK Singh’s petition, deciding his age. Gen VK Singh had withdrawn his petition on February 10, 2012 after sensing that the SC ruling would not be in his favour.

N-pact with Canada comes into force

Ashok Tuteja/TNS


New Delhi, September 30

The India-Canada civil nuclear cooperation agreement, signed more than 3 years back, has come into force.


The announcement was made by Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Lynne Yelich in Ottawa a few days after External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Canada.


“This coming into force (of the agreement) results from Canada’s vigorous efforts to reach new markets for energy exports, creating job opportunities for Canadian business. The Canadian nuclear industry currently supports 30,000 direct jobs across the country,’’ the Canadian High Commission announced here today.


India and Canada had signed the civil nuclear accord in June 2010 during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to that country, breaking a new ground in the history of cooperation in this sector between the two nations. Earlier, India and Canada had a long but rocky relationship in the field of nuclear cooperation after India conducted the nuclear test at Pokhran in 1974.


The two countries had signed the Appropriate Arrangement pursuant to the India-Canada nuclear cooperation agreement on April 8, 2013.


The civil nuclear accord and the supporting Appropriate Arrangement will allow Canadian companies to export nuclear items for peaceful uses to India in accordance with Canada’s nuclear non-proliferation policy.

India, China discuss border defence pact

Ashok Tuteja/TNS


New Delhi, September 30

With focus on maintaining peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India and China today discussed the broad contours of the proposed Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) which is expected to be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing next month.


The Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs concluded its two-day meeting in Beijing this afternoon. The Indian delegation was led by Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the External Affairs Ministry, and consisted of representatives of the External Affairs, Defence and Home ministries as well as members of the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).


The Chinese team was headed by Ouyang Yujing, Director General at the Department of Boundary in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and comprised representatives of various departments concerned.


A joint statement said the talks were held in a candid, constructive and forward-looking atmosphere. ‘’Reviewing recent developments in the India-China border areas, especially in the Western sector, the two delegations agreed that peace and tranquillity on the border is the basis for the continued expansion of India-China relations,’’ it added. Both sides discussed further measures to maintain stability on the border, building on existing understandings and arrangements.


The two countries have held a series of meetings over the past few weeks as part of the preparations for Manmohan Singh’s visit in the second half of October. Breakthroughs in border management and addressing growing trade imbalance would dominate the agenda of the PM’s much-anticipated visit.


The two sides are working overtime to finalise the BDCA so that it could be clinched during Manmohan Singh’s visit. The pact envisages interaction between area commanders on both sides to help manage the incidents along the border in an effective way. Such an accord will perhaps be more useful for India to deal with Chinese incursions, like the one that took place in Ladakh in April-May.


Peace vital for expansion in ties


    The two delegations agreed that peace and tranquillity on the border is the basis for the continued expansion of India-China relations

    The two sides are working overtime to finalise the BDCA so that it could be clinched during Manmohan Singh’s visit in October

    The pact envisages interaction between area commanders on both sides to help manage the incidents along the border in a proper way

    Such an accord will perhaps be useful for India to deal with Chinese incursions, like the one that took place in Ladakh in April-May

Indian, Nepalese armies train for joint response to natural disaster

ALLAHABAD: In a historic milestone, a battalion each of Indian and Nepalese armies on Monday participated in a combined training programme to ensure inter-operation ability of both armies in disaster prone region of Uttarakhand.


Defence public relations pfficer (PRO), Group Captain Basantkumar B Pande said that Indian Army chief General Bikram Singh and Nepalese army chief General Gaurav Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana witnessed the combined training exercise currently underway in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. Army Commander of Central Command Lt Gen Rajan Bakhshi was also present on the occasion.


The defence PRO further said that based on an agreement signed during the 7th Nepal-India bilateral consultative group on security, the two countries commenced combined training at platoon level (30 men each) in 2011. The first two combined exercises focused primarily on jungle warfare and counter-insurgency operations. The troops shared their experiences and exhibited skill sets during combined training at counter insurgency and jungle warfare school at Wirangte in Mizoram and a similar school at Amlekhganj in Nepal.


The level of combined training was upgraded to company level (consisting of approximately 120 men) in 2012, based on experience gained in 2011 exercises. The company level combined training in 2012 also focused on counter-insurgency and jungle warfare operations in hilly terrain as the Himalayan region all along Indo-Nepal border is covered with thick jungles amidst rugged Himalayas.


Surya Kiran V is the first battalion-level combined training programme between India and Nepal of 2013. Approximately 400 soldiers from each army are participating in the combined exercises. This year, both armies have focused on training for disaster response in a geologically disaster prone zone of Himalayas. Witnessing the well rehearsed drills in rescue, relief and disaster response techniques exhibited by both the armies, the army chiefs expressed satisfaction at the level of preparation and coordination displayed by troops. Both the contingents shared their experiences in handling such situations in future.


The exercise also helped in promoting understanding and inter-operation ability in conducting operations at battalion level. Both the chiefs were thoroughly impressed by the high standards of training and synergy displayed by the participating contingents and complimented the troops for their efforts.


The Nepalese army chief lauded the Indian Army's selfless service to the people by providing timely succor during rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand in June this year. The next combined training is scheduled in Nepal in December this year, said the defence PRO.

Nisar rejects Indian allegations against Pakistan Army



ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has rejected allegations levelled by the Indian external affairs minister against the Pakistan Army that it was hindering the peace process between the two countries.


In a strongly-worded statement issued through the Press Information Department on Sunday night, he termed the remarks made by Indian Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid “unnecessary and against diplomatic norms”.


Hours before the meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries in New York, the Indian minister was reported to have alleged in an interview to Voice of America that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and its military were sabotaging the Nawaz Sharif government’s efforts to make peace with India.


Mr Khurshid said while Prime Minister Sharif was saying the right things, it was imperative for the civilian government of Pakistan to find a way to keep the army and the ISI under control. “We’ve been told that all the government agencies are on the same page,” Mr Khurshid said, but added that “if they were, the things that are happening would not be happening”.


Referring to the recent violence on the Line of Control, Mr Khurshid said he would not accept the notion that it could be the work of non-state actors without support from the ISI. He said if Pakistan could not control non-state actors on its territory it should seek India’s help.


Commenting on the Indian foreign minister’s remarks, Chaudhry Nisar said the statements being issued by the Indian rulers and politicians at a time when Pakistan was sincerely trying to improve the atmosphere and end confrontation showed that New Delhi was not serious in pursuing the peace process with Pakistan.


“It is surprising that the Indian government is levelling allegations in response to the Nawaz Sharif government’s efforts to normalise relations between the two countries,” the PML-N leader regretted.


He said no foreign ruler had the right to speak on an international forum about fabricated differences and a gulf between the Pakistan government and its army.


The interior minister said there was complete harmony between the army and the government on all international and national security issues. He said Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had himself stated that the military and the government were on the same page on policy matters. He said the Indian rulers were finding it difficult to digest and were issuing statements reflecting their “ill-intentions, negative thinking and anti-Pakistan sentiments”.

Vietnam: Chief Of General Staff Visits India – Analysis

In manifestation of the growing Vietnam-India strategic and defence ties, the Vietnamese Chief of General Staff of Vietnam Peoples Army, Senior Lieutenant General Do Bo Tuy visited India from September 24-27, 2013. He led a 14 member military delegation to visit India.


During his visit to New Delhi the Vietnamese General had discussions with the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne on the reinforcing of existing defence ties between India and Vietnam. During this meeting it was emphasised that Vietnam was India’s most significant strategic partner in South East Asia.


The Vietnamese General also had discussions with the Indian Army Chief of Army Staff, Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff and the Vice Chief of Naval Staff.


The scheduled meetings with the Indian Defence Minister and Indian National Security Adviser could not take place as the former was hospitalised and the latter was leaving for Washington along with the Indian Prime Minister.


However a meeting with the Secretary Ministry of Defence took place.


The Vietnamese Army Chief of General Staff visited two important military installations during his visit to India following his discussions in New Delhi with the Indian military hierarchy. These were to the Indian Air Force Base at Hindon in the vicinity of New Delhi and to Headquarters of Indian Navy Eastern Naval Command at Vishakhapatnam and Indian naval combat assets located there.


The Indian Air Force newly acquired strategic force projection assets in terms of transport aircraft like the US C-130Js and the US C-17 giant Globemaster are located at Hindon. The Vietnamese Armed Forces Chief would have gained first hand exposure to India’s aerial capabilities in this dimension.


The visit of the Vietnamese Army Chief of General Staff to the Indian Navy Headquarters Eastern Naval Command is more significant. It needs to be recalled that India’s Headquarters Eastern Naval Command is operationally tasked for responsibilities of securing India’s maritime interests in the Indo-Pacific Region. In naval terms the Indo Pacific Region needs to be taken as Eastern Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. The latter includes the South China Sea which is of critical security concern to Vietnam in the context of escalation of South China Sea disputes by China.


Stressed many times over in my past papers are the imperatives of reinforcing and adding more firm contours to the Vietnam-India Strategic Partnership. India needs to play a significant role in the capacity-building of the Vietnamese Armed Forces, especially of the Vietnamese Navy and the Vietnamese Air Force.


Vietnam and India have serious border disputes with China and both are victims of Chinese military provocations. Strategic convergences should therefore be a natural outcome to bind Vietnam and India. The Vietnam-India Strategic Partnership cannot be in bondage to India’s ultra-sensitivity to China’s strategic concerns.


On the side-lines of his defence visits and discussions in India, the Vietnamese General paid a visit to Bodh Gaya. India’s Buddhist spiritual and cultural ties with South East Asian countries are an additional bond to forge strong ties with South East Asia.

India-China border mechanism talks concluded on positive note

BEIJING: India and China today agreed that peace and tranquility on the border are key for expansion of bilateral ties as their senior officials held candid talks on a border security mechanism agreement expected to be inked during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's proposed visit here.


The fourth meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on China-India Border Affairs concluded on a positive note here, during which officials discussed the proposed Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), aimed at more comprehensively dealing with tensions related to patrolling by both sides along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).


The mechanism headed by Foreign Ministry officials of both the countries was formed to address problems between the troops at the borders.


The two-day meeting was "held in a candid, constructive and forward looking atmosphere", a statement issued by the Indian Embassy here said.


"Reviewing recent developments in the India-China border areas, especially in the Western Sector, the two delegations agreed that peace and tranquility on the border is the basis for the continued expansion of India-China relations," it said.


"To this end, both sides discussed further measures to maintain stability on the border, building on existing understandings and arrangements," the statement said.


The talks were held against the backdrop of several incursions by Chinese troops along the LAC. The People's Liberation Army troops had intruded into the Depsang Valley in Ladakh region several times earlier this year, which lead to diplomatic tension between the two countries.


Talks under the aegis of the border mechanism played key role in resolving the dispute under which Chinese troops withdrew from the Valley. It also paved the way for a fruitful visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India in May.


Ahead of the talks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the mechanism has played "positive role" in enhancing cooperation and understanding between the borders related departments and the timely treatment of sensitive issues and stabilisation of border situation.


Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei even suggested that it could be leveraged to resolve the vexed boundary dispute.


Besides the incursions, the meeting also discussed the BDCA, regarded as an upgraded version of the mechanism to comprehensively address a host of issue related to the disputed boundary issue including the patrolling of the LAC by both armies.


While officials were tight lipped about the progress of the talks over finalisation of the BDCA, expectations were high that it could be signed during Prime Minister Singh's visit here slated for the fourth week of October.


The Indian delegation at the border mechanism talks was led by Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia). It also included representatives of the ministries of Defence and Home Affairs as well as members of the Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police.


The Chinese delegation was led by Ouyang Yujing, Director General, Department of Boundary and Oceanic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and comprised of representatives of the National Defence of the People's Republic of China.


The Indian delegation also called on Liu Zhenmin, China's Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Meanwhile, a number of official level talks have been held here during the past weeks as part of preparations for Singh's visit. 2013 was regarded as landmark year in the relations between the two countries as it will be for the first time both Prime Ministers visited each other countries in the same year, stepping up high level exchanges.


While Li made New Delhi his first destination abroad after he took over as Premier to send a strong message of the importance attached by China's new leadership to its ties with India, Singh's visit was a reciprocal state visit which was expected to focus on a host follow-up measures to strengthen relations, including China's promise to address over USD 30 billion trade deficit.


Also the two militaries are poised to hold their third joint military exercises in November this year at Chengdu in China after a gap of four years.

Village lad cracks NDA exam, bags 30th rank in India - See more at:

CHANDIGARH: This time, it’s village Bhairon Khurd’s Sikh boy Karandeep Singh, a baptized Sikh lad, who at 17, determinedly marched his way into serving Indian Army, scoring All India Rank 30 in the NDA (National Defence Academy ) intermediate entrance exam & selected as a CADET in 2013-14 batch to receive specialized 3-year army training in Kharagwasla, Pune and 1 yr at IMA Dehradun for purpose of serving The Indian Army.


India Army offers 2 intermediate examinations NDA & TES wherein TES seeks candidates to serve the army as Engineers; Karandeep Singh independently prepared, appeared & cracked through both the examinations, he scored a strong AIR 74 in TES exam also, but chose to serve the Army as a Soldier.


Young Karandeep Singh has no special family background; coming from a rural village, his childhood & family situation have had no exceptions. His farmer family had been living through the gloomy conditions of financial instability, negative output & declining profits, etc that have been pervading the country’s agrarian societies over the past 2 decades; draining the life out of farmers especially in the Northern Rural belt, where farmer suicides remain trending.


Karan’s father said that Karan has always been a reserved person, even as a child, his interests were atypical. He was never too keen on playing or going outside much, he was a close observer & analyst of things around; perhaps that is what kept him occupied & that is how his determination & motivation developed.


Besides academics, dharmic programs & faith were the only things that have kept Karan’s keen interest throughout all these years, which remains intact; though his family is not baptizes like him, but his father revealed that his family has always been graced to have remained clean off alcohol; they in fact have been pure vegetarians!


Further revealing about his early days during schooling, his dad told that Karan has always remained an independent child ever-since he was little, his only focus was on education he received at the school and his only time-pass was cricket and  ootball, that too indoor, at house veranda with his young brother Jyot-Prakash. He was always so engrained with the studies at school there was never any room, space or even need for any tuitions.


His father also reveal, that in early years of his childhood itself, Karan told his father that observing the given circumstances & stand of agriculture in India, he is decided about not following agriculture & is aiming for becoming a Big officer, that holds prominence in the country.


Karandeep Singh has been a bright student all through his academics. With a keen interest in studies and co curricular activities, Karandeep has never let us down. When I came to know about this great achievement of his, I knew somewhere that this kid had all the capabilities to be where he is now. I wish him all the luck and I am sure he will do the best; said Pawan Sahni, principal, Akal Academy Gomti.


Currently, Karandeep is taking training as a CADET under NDA regime.

All eyes on supreme commander

The VK Singh controversy underscores the need for President to play a more active role.

While the so-called Rahul Gandhi bombshell, apropos “ordinance is nonsense”, has seized the national discourse and has long-term implications for the political scenario that will shape the governance of the country, the more damaging issue in relation to national security that merits objective scrutiny is what may be termed the General VK Singh controversy.


It may be recalled that a national daily (Indian Express, September 20) made a dramatic revelation about a confidential report submitted by Army HQ to the Ministry of Defence in March this year which inter-alia alleged that former Army Chief, General VK Singh, had misused secret intelligence funds to de-stabilise the elected government in Jammu and Kashmir.


In the following days, there has been a series of public statements and clarifications offered by the former Chief, which, in turn, has led to an explosive debate in the national audio-visual media by his well-wishers and detractors that has only served to vitiate the discourse and, thereby, caused both embarrassment and damage to India’s image and security interests.


At the heart of this controversy is a statement made by VK Singh, who, while defending himself, alleged that Army funds were used to pay certain politicians in J&K to ‘stabilize’ the region — and furthermore, that this was a practice that dates back to the dawn of Indian independence. The enormity and preposterous import of this statement — for those who heard it live on TV — is self-evident. To characterize this as a jaw-dropping revelation is an under-statement.


Some correction was attempted by VK Singh who sought to clarify the content and context of his remarks but the damage was done. Was the allegation made by the former Army Chief true? If so, has India been guilty of the most heinous and hypocritical charge of nurturing a sham democracy in J&K — and the extrapolation is that Kashmir was indeed under the jackboot of the Indian army. This, incidentally, is the core of what India has long maintained in relation to Pakistan — namely that it is Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) that is still under the tight control of the Pakistan Army.


Mercifully, this allegation has been refuted by every former Indian Army Chief and in a joint statement (September 27), eight former Generals asserted that ‘no funds were ever provided by the Army, to any politician, political party or NGO in their tenures and nor would they have allowed that’. They further added to allay any anxiety that “the Indian Army is completely apolitical and that they do not dabble in politics and the Army takes great pride in this time honoured tradition.”


While this latest statement by the former Army Chiefs may offer some palliative, the VK Singh controversy needs to be reviewed in its entirety for it reveals certain abiding institutional infirmities in the higher defence management of the country. Civil-military relations in India have been less than appropriate and this is a trait that goes back to the Nehru years. The run-up to the 1962 war with China is a case in point.


At the time, the political direction to national security was less than objective and the most undesirable form of factionalism within the Army was nurtured by the then Defence Minister Krishna Menon. Consequently, negligence to an unfolding challenge to national security was the leitmotif of that decade. The debacle of October 1962 followed and it compelled the then President S Radhakrishnan to chastise PM Nehru for rank ‘negligence and credulity’. The Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces made the appropriate post-facto intervention within the Constitutional framework and encouraged a shattered PM to apply the corrective to the higher defence matrix.


One could argue that a similar situation currently prevails, in that the challenges to national security have become complex and urgent and the VK Singh episode is symptomatic of the systemic inadequacies that need to be objectively reviewed and corrected. The need for a radical overhaul of India’s higher defence management was palpable in the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil war and it is a shame that 14 years later, little substantive progress has been made. Both the NDA and UPA governments are culpable of having neglected this issue and in many ways, the VK Singh episode is a result of this negligence.


What began as a totally avoidable date-of-birth controversy soon snowballed into an ugly situation wherein the Army Chief was petitioning the Supreme Court for redress since the political executive was unable to deal with the matter. At the time there were unseemly insinuations about factions within the Army and selective leaks to the media about shaping the line of succession to the post of Army Chief.


In early 2012, more leaks in the media followed that hinted at General VK Singh attempting a coup by moving military formations towards Delhi — again a preposterous charge — and the matter was allowed to fester without any firm resolution by the political establishment. More turbulence was in store, for towards the end of his tenure in mid 2012, a secret missive from General VK Singh to the Prime Minister found its way into the public domain and a slew of charges and counter-charges filled the air. Again, the matter remained suspended and an aggrieved VK Singh went into retirement.


The nation was hoping that this matter had been buried but, regrettably, the latest mid-September revelations about VK Singh seeking to topple an elected government, amongst other grave charges that have deep import for national security, have opened the Pandora’s Box again. Given the uncertain political environment within the country — and the ordinance fiasco has only served to exacerbate matters — is there a case to review the role of the President? Should all eyes be upon the Supreme Commander only on the ceremonial occasion of January 26? The present incumbent of Rashtrapati Bhawan has an unmatched insight into the challenges to national security and could perhaps burnish the track record of his illustrious predecessor of 1962.




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