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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

From Today's Papers - 15 Oct 2013
Jawan assaults CO of Batala NCC unit
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, October 14
Close on the heels of a clash between officers and jawans in Meerut, the Commanding Officer of an NCC battalion in Punjab was today assaulted by a jawan following an altercation between the two.

Sources said the jawan, posted at the 22 Punjab NCC battalion at Batala, was apparently missing from duty last night. He was summoned by the Commanding Officer (CO) today morning and asked to explain about his whereabouts. The jawan reportedly misbehaved with the CO and even used foul language.

The CO ordered that the jawan, deputed to the NCC from the Sikh Light Infantry, be placed under arrest. This angered the jawan and he assaulted the officer. The incident took place in the presence of other unit officers and jawans.

The CO, who is from the Gurkha Regiment, did not sustain any serious injury. He was immediately taken to a hospital for treatment. The jawan has been placed under arrest. A Court of Inquiry (COI) has been ordered into the incident. A Colonel posted with a brigade at Amritsar has been detailed as the CoI’s presiding officer. There have been several clashes between officers and jawans in the recent past.

Last week, troops of the Sikh Light Infantry had clashed with officers at Meerut over the outcome of a boxing match. It has left two officers of the rank of Major and a jawan injured.

In perhaps the biggest incident of collective indiscipline in the Army, as many as 168 personnel of an artillery regiment, including its Commanding Officer and five other officers, are facing disciplinary action over physical altercation at Nyoma near Leh. A jawan allegedly misbehaving with the wife of an officer is stated to be the cause of the fracas.

There was another case in 45 Cavalry at Gurdaspur where officers and jawans clashed. Unrest was reported from 16 Cavalry at Samba following a jawan committing suicide.
The trigger

    The jawan, who was missing from duty, was summoned by the CO for an explanation
    The jawan reportedly misbehaved with the CO and even used foul language
    The CO ordered his arrest following which the jawan assaulted the officer

Increasing disorder

    Last week, troops of the Sikh Light Infantry had clashed with officers at Meerut over the outcome of a boxing match
    168 personnel of an artillery regiment, including its CO, are facing disciplinary action over serious altercation at Nyoma near Leh in 2012
BSF guard hurt in Pak fire in Samba
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/TNS
Jammu, October 14
A BSF constable was injured in sniper fire by Pakistan Rangers, who also opened heavy fire today on at least two Indian forward posts in Samba sector along the 191.5-km-long international border.

The BSF retaliated effectively and heavy exchange of fire lasted for over an hour.

“At about 11.30 am, sniper fire followed by heavy volume of fire came from the Pakistan side on the Naka mound in the area of responsibility of border outpost Katao, which lies near Londi, in Samba area. Constable M Baswaraj, who was on duty, sustained bullet injuries in the abdomen,” said BSF spokesperson Vinod Yadav.

He said that the injured constable was immediately evacuated to a Samba hospital and then to the Government Medical College and Hospital here.

“The injured constable is undergoing an operation and his condition is state to be stable,” said Yadav.

Following a calibrated retaliation from the Indian side, the fire stopped at 12.15 pm. This is the fourth incident of sniping fire this year in which a BSF guard sustained bullet injuries, said the spokesperson. It has been learnt that the injured BSF guard belonged to 9 Battalion of the paramilitary force that mans the Samba sector.

An official source said that soon after a bullet hit M Baswaraj, Rangers opened heavy fire on Indian posts.

“Our guards guarding the border immediately took positions and retaliated strongly,” he said. “Similarly, Rangers also opened fire on Pansar post in Hiranagar tehsil but the gunfight there was not as intense as it was in Katao,” said the source.

Meanwhile, the police and CRPF today scanned jungles of Billawar tehsil in Kathua district for over six hours after a man claimed that he saw four suspicious-looking men carrying bags on their shoulders during the wee hours.

“The individual, who works as a cook in marriages, claimed that around 4.30 am today, he saw four men with bags but we didn’t find anything in our search. The CRPF had also joined us in the operation,” said a police officer.
Top military officials may meet next month

Islamabad: Amid tensions, senior military officials from Pakistan and India are expected to meet next month to come up with a clear plan to restore ceasefire along the Line of Control, a media report said on Monday. However, there was no independent confirmation of this from the Indian High Commission here.
Guards, crew of detained US ship booked for carrying arms

Chennai, October 14
Two days after the detention of a ship carrying arms off Tuticorin coast, 35 persons aboard, including crew members, were today booked for illegally carrying weapons and ammunition even as the police intensified probe to ascertain the motive behind the vessel's entry into Indian waters.

An FIR has been registered against 10 crew members and 25 guards of the MV Seaman Guard Ohio ship, now berthed in the port in Tuticorin, about 600 km from here, under the Arms Act, the police said.

Besides, a case under the Essential Commodities Act has also been registered for buying 1,500 litres of diesel illegally with the help of a local shipping agent.

A senior Marine Police official said the ship, stated to be belonging to a US-based firm offering maritime security, was not authorised to enter the Indian water and its mandate was largely confined to regions in the Indian Ocean like the Gulf of Aden, a hotbed of piracy.

“We can always sympathetically consider innocent trespass. But this does not look so. They have authorisation to operate in Indian Ocean areas like the Gulf of Aden. But they have come up to Gulf of Mannar. We are seeing why they came here,” an official said.

“This is illegal. If needed, diesel could have been procured through legitimate avenues by paying applicable statutory levies. Illegal diesel procurement is among the reasons for the ship coming into our adverse notice,” the official said.

The guards have been booked under the Arms Act for illegally possessing arms and ammunition on board the ship, he said, adding, "They will continue to be interrogated on board the vessel." The vessel, whose crew included eight Indians, was intercepted and detained by the Indian Coast Guard about 15 nautical miles east of Tuticorin. — PTI

Caught near Tuticorin

    MV Seaman Guard Ohio was intercepted and detained by the Coast Guard about 15 nautical miles east of Tuticorin on October 12
    A senior Marine Police official said the ship, stated to be belonging to a US-based firm offering maritime security, was not authorised to enter the Indian water and its mandate was largely confined to regions in the Indian Ocean like the Gulf of Aden, a hotbed of piracy
    An FIR has been registered against 10 crew members and 25 guards under the Arms Act, the police said.
    Besides, a case under the Essential Commodities Act has also been registered for buying 1,500 litres of diesel illegally with the help of a local shipping agent
PM likely to take up stapled visa issue with China
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, October 14
Against the backdrop of two archers from Arunachal Pradesh being issued stapled visas by China, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to take up issue with the Chinese leadership during his visit to the Asian country next week.

Ahead of the visit, the two countries are said to be negotiating a pact that may end visa-related matters between the two countries.

Sources said the stapled visa issue has become a perennial problem between the two countries and New Delhi wanted it to be resolved on a priority basis. “This issue has become an irritant between our two countries. We need to find a solution pending a final settlement of the boundary dispute,” they said.

New Delhi has already lodged a protest with China over issuing stapled visas to the two young archers, Maselo Mihu and Sorang Yumi, who had, last week, hoped to travel to the youth world championships in Wuxi. The two archers were not allowed to board a China-bound flight by Indian authorities because of stapled visas on their passports.

Sources pointed out that allowing Indian residents of Arunachal Pradesh to travel on stapled visas would amount to recognising China’s territorial claims over the northeastern state and undermining India’s negotiating position on the boundary dispute.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki condemned granting of stapled visas to the two archers. “We are an integral part of India. We are Indians… we cannot be denied the right to travel. This is a sad day for the youth of the state in particular and of the country as a whole,” he said.
India summons Pak envoy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 14
India today lodged a protest with Pakistan over the indiscriminate firing on unarmed fishermen by a vessel of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency near the India-Pakistan international maritime boundary on Friday, which led to the death of an Indian fisherman.

Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner Mansoor Ahmad Khan was summoned to the South Block and told that the incident be thoroughly investigated into and its outcome shared at an early date with New Delhi.

Khan was told that New Delhi was concerned that such an incident had taken place amid Pakistan's stated desire for peaceful and cooperative relations with India.
Military needs a separate pay commission
Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi (Retd)

Though there is no equation between the roles of the military and their civilian counterparts or commonality of service conditions, the armed forces are clubbed with civilian officials in the various pay commissions. In the bargain, defence personnel have suffered.
The government has made the announcement for the setting up of the Seventh Pay Commission that will look at and revise the emoluments of all central government employees and the pensions of retired personnel, including families of deceased personnel. Pay commissions are periodically constituted to look into issues such as pay and allowances, retirement benefits, service conditions, and promotion policies of central government employees. It is an administrative mechanism that the government had started in 1956 and since then, every decade has seen the birth of a commission that decides the wages of government employees for a block of ten years. The last pay commission, the Sixth, which is still current, is covering the period from 2006 to 2016.

The concept of constituting pay commissions after every ten years is in actuality archaic. Most countries have done away with such systems, but we seem to be either happy with the status quo or our bureaucrats who advise the political leadership on such matters lack imagination and are unable to think of a new and more acceptable system. So, at least for now we are stuck with yet another pay commission.

The announcement for setting up the Seventh Pay Commission is different in two respects to previous such announcements. First, the announcement has been made at least one year earlier than usual. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to understand the reason for this. The ruling party seems to think that it is likely to get more traction in their quest for votes as the next general elections are only months away and votes of government functionaries are important. Secondly, the government has also announced that there would be a separate pay commission for the defence forces. This is the more important of these two points, as it is a major departure from the government’s policy. I aim to focus on this aspect.

Pay Commissions are expected to settle a reasonable wage, affordable to the government and fair to employees. However, over the decades, the pay commissions have become commissions of the IAS, for the IAS. This has especially affected the military, as over the past nearly six decades the omissions, aberrations and self-serving reports of the bureaucrats have inflicted incalculable damage to the military. That is the reason for the demand of a separate dispensation for the military. There are other valid reasons too. There is nothing in common between the military and the other government services, including the IAS, IFS, IPS, other civil services and the subordinate civil services. It needs to be noted that while the civil services deal with the citizens of the nation on a daily basis, the military interacts with them only when requisitioned to come to the aid of the civil authority. This is usually for short periods.

A vexed question relates to the fixation of emoluments of all central and All India Services, as well as the military. The IAS inexplicably has always been treated as a special case. The bureaucrats belonging to this service try to explain this by emphasising their being part of the government, but such arguments are hollow. The real reason is that they occupy the powerful slots in the pay commissions, including that of ‘member secretary’ and also rely on that much abused word ‘precedent’. This is particularly galling to the armed forces, as they have been deliberately kept out of the government as well as the pay commissions. It needs to be appreciated that the military and the civil administrative services are two equal pillars of the government and need to be treated as such.

Till now, military personnel have reluctantly accepted their gradual down grading and lowering of status because of obeying the orders of their hierarchy, but if this state of affairs continues, the nation may find itself in dire straits without an outstanding military, as exists today. The greed and self-serving attitude that the bureaucracy displayed in the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission and the biased committees formed to eliminate the large number of anomalies have not just accentuated the anger of the military, but any more such actions would amount to the proverbial breaking of the camels’ back. The government needs to take note of this and ensure that this state of affairs ends now. The government cannot and must not pay military personnel lower salaries, merely to keep the IAS in good humour.

Despite there being no equation between the roles of the military and their civilian counterparts, the armed forces were clubbed with civilian officials in the various pay commissions. The terms and conditions of service of defence personnel cannot be compared to any other category of government employees. Yet, each successive pay commission has made comparisons artificially. In the bargain, defence personnel have suffered. The dissatisfaction is clearly reflected in the huge shortage in the officer’s cadre, as both the status and the emoluments are not proving attractive to young aspirants. The same is the case with the large number of other ranks of the military, who are also unhappy with the equations and comparisons that have resulted in the downgrading of their status in the society. The government needs to understand that soldier’s having pledged even their lives to the country set great store to ‘izzat’, which if diluted affects morale adversely.

Calls for a separate pay commission for the military started when the repeated requests to the government for adequate representation of military personnel in the pay commissions were ignored. Despite these requests being made at the highest levels of the armed forces, no action was taken. From the third to the sixth pay commissions, there was not a single military person included in them, although 40 per cent of the government employees, whose pay was being revised, comprised the military.

After the major fiasco of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, where the greed and ego of the bureaucrats and their attempt to further downgrade the status of the military were palpably visible, there was uproar by the military, especially the veterans. The political leadership did intervene but the bureaucrats still got away with only cosmetic changes through committees, again comprising the same dramatis personae, who were responsible for the damage! After prolonged efforts of the military, more so by the veterans, the Prime Minster finally conceded the demand for a separate pay commission. This has now fructified by the recent announcement of the Prime Minister. However, till the composition of the proposed pay commission, as well as the related modalities are announced, it will be premature to accept or reject the offer of the Prime Minister. It is perhaps one of the reasons that the Chiefs of Staff Committee has conveyed their reluctance to accept the proposal at this stage.

There are pros and cons of having a separate pay commission for the armed forces, which need to be considered before a final decision is taken. A separate pay commission would obviously be a non-starter if one or more bureaucrats again call the shots and the representation of the military is in a token fashion or in those slots which are of lesser importance. A pay commission for the armed forces, which is only manned by military personnel, would again be incorrect.

Other important points are the need to have a common chair person for the two pay commissions; the need for a senior officer from the Finance Ministry as an adviser; the timings of the two pay commissions – civil and military — which must coincide; the harmonising of the recommendations for both the commissions; the need for continuing with the Military Service Pay (MSP); a reversion to the earlier status of the armed forces that has become askew by earlier acts of omission and commission; the grant of the nearly 30 years old issue of one rank--one pension, which has in the past been cleared and recommended by all sections of the political spectrum; and the removal of various sub-categories that have been imposed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) arbitrarily. Two examples of the latter, both relating to disability pension will clarify this aspect.

Broad-banding of percentages for disability and war injury for those disabled in war or warlike situations has been sub-categorised in three categories, despite orders by courts to the contrary. Another issue relates to military personnel, who become disabled on account of non-service reasons. They are discharged without any ‘invalid pension’ if their service is less than 10 years at the time of discharge. On the other hand, civilian employees cannot be discharged at all and can enjoy their full tenure with full pay and allowances till the age of superannuation and pension thereafter.

Before I conclude, let me again revisit the need for a separate pay commission for the military, notwithstanding the recommendations conveyed to the Defence Minister by the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee recently. The main reason is the stark differences in employment between the armed forces personnel and civil government employees, some of which have been enumerated earlier. The manner of selection of armed forces personnel; their initial and subsequent training; their unique job profiles; the sacrifices that they have to make; the slow career progression; steep promotion pyramid; the large number of steps in the rank structure; early retirement; long separation from families; and lack of skills for a second career; have no parallel in any of the civil services. This being the reality, there could not be a stronger case for a separate pay commission for the military. The caveat is that the points enumerated earlier and perhaps some more, while setting up the separate pay commission must be duly incorporated in the terms of reference of the commission.

Appointing of one or two pay commissions will work only if there is a major change of attitude of the government, especially of the bureaucracy. If the government is unable or unwilling to understand the legitimate demands of the military personnel in relation to their emoluments and more importantly their status, then even ten pay commissions will be of no avail.
How Boeing Got a Sweetheart Deal From the U.S. Army
When it comes to negotiating contracts with Boeing (BA), the U.S. military appears to be sorely outmatched. A Pentagon inspector general report from this summer, published today by our colleagues at Bloomberg News, found overcharges by Boeing totaling $16.6 million after the company overestimated how many new parts would be required. In many cases, the report said, parts salvaged from older aircraft were used on the Army helicopters.

The latest audit of a $4.4 billion contract awarded in 2008 was the fourth to find excessive or unjustified payments to Boeing. The two-rotor Chinook, which is designed to ferry troops and battlefield supplies, dates to the mid-1960s. The current F model entered service in 2006 and is built in suburban Philadelphia.

“The bottom line is that using reworked parts rather than new parts increased Boeing’s profit,” Bridget Serchak, a spokeswoman for the inspector general, told Bloomberg News. The Army paid Boeing for parts “that were proposed but never installed” and “is paying for additional parts that they do not need and may not use.” The largest overcharge described in the July report was as much as $2.6 million for 142 Chinook engine transmission housings that the inspector general found weren’t needed. The audit found Boeing, instead of giving the Army the unneeded parts, was allowed to keep them for other jobs, “even though the Army paid for” the items.
STORY: Boeing Unveils Its Jumbo Killer

A Boeing spokesman, Damien Mills, said the company “disagrees with the IG’s conclusions”—although the company itself hasn’t reviewed the report yet and has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a copy while reviewing the document Bloomberg News posted online. In a telephone interview, Mills said the refurbishment work was done on a “fixed price” contract for aircraft that were in service in the Middle East and that Boeing had to assume how many new and remanufactured parts would be needed before the helicopters were returned for the work. “So there is an assumption of risk on the part of the contractor on this type of contract,” Mills said.

The Army has little recourse to pursue refunds because of how the 2008 contract was written, Serchak said. This summer, the Pentagon awarded Boeing a five-year contract for 177 new CH-47F Chinook helicopters, with options for 38 more. The five-year contract was structured to save taxpayers “more than $800 million,” Boeing said in its June 11 release, which sought to highlight cost savings to the government. That contract requires Boeing to give the Army any unused parts from the Chinook program, a change that was apparently based on the IG’s findings.
Keran operation: role of Pak army’s BAT suspected
Pakistan army-backed Border Action Team (BAT) and not militant groups active in the valley may have launched the Keran operation in north Kashmir. It has come in the backdrop of the armies of the two countries resorting to tit-for-tat operations on borders since January this year.

The state security intelligence grid in Srinagar has underlined the operational details pointing towards the BAT’s involvement to crossing the armed men into Indian territory.
“The operation was meticulous unlike the random infiltration bids, more than two dozen times, made in Kupwara district this year. The infiltrating armed men had advance information on the movement of the army regiment, had details of bunkers in the area and complete idea of topography and about strategic altitude points,” said a counter-insurgency on-ground official.
In the last week of September, a unit of the army’s Kumaon Regiment was replacing another when armed men were spotted on the night of September 23-24. “Even the places of stockpiles of soldiers were identified,” said the official.
Another pointer towards Pakistan army’s complete complicity in the operation was that the armed men were deliberately not using any means of communication.
“Most infiltrating militants are received either by guides or use mode of communication to constantly stay in touch with militant commanders inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to be received by militants on this side,” said the counter-insurgency cell official.
The infiltrating armed men apparently seemed “more resolved to stay back in an area and apparently returned without a trace of any body or stockpiles”, said intelligence sources. This, he said, was not possible without huge logistic support from across the border.
The 30-40 armed men engaged the army for 15 days in Keran Sector. It was also followed up by two major infiltration bids in the first week of October in which seven militants were killed.
Shalla Battu village, which witnessed migration of civilian population in early 1990s after cross-border shelling and firing, was chosen deliberately for the operation. The pass of Shalla Battu has Pakistan soldiers with an edge because at least two sides are dominated by the pickets of Pakistan.
The operation came just a day after the army claimed to have foiled an infiltration bid in Keran Sector and killing a “militant” and recovering a new kind of pistol from him.
The state police confirmed that the body handed over to it was of a man around 60-year-old and “may not have been a militant but a guide”.
The police suspected the dead to be Atiqullah, a well-known militant guide, from north Kashmir. “During investigation, we found he was not Atiqullah but someone from across the border.”

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