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Thursday, 6 February 2014

From Today's Papers - 06 Feb 2014

War memorial stone laying to be grand affair

The foundation stone laying ceremony for the Punjab State War Heroes Memorial and Museum at Amritsar is expected to be a grand affair. Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh and at least five former services chiefs are scheduled to attend it. The stone will be laid by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on February 12. Gen Shankar Roy Chowdhury, Gen JJ Singh, Gen Deepak Kapoor, Adm Madhvendra Singh and Adm VS Sekhawat are among the ex-chiefs who have agreed to attend the event. About 25,000 ex-servicemen of all ranks from across the state, besides a large number of civilians, are also expected to converge on the venue, for which special transport arrangements are being made. Students of Sainik School, Kapurthala, Punjab Public School, Nabha, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Armed Forces Institute, Mohali and NCC cadets from Amritsar would also participate in the function. Gallantry awardees would also be honoured on the occasion.
With a 45m stainless steel sword, signifying strength and courage, being the memorial's central point, the complex will include six state-of-the-art galleries that would showcase the martial heritage and history of Punjab from the times of Guru Hargobind Singh till the present day through images, paintings, artifacts, weapons and informative panels, 5-D auditorium, laser shows and restaurants. Spread over 7 acres with landscaped gardens that would reflect three different war zones-pre-British era, British era and post-British era-the project is estimated to cost about Rs 100 crore and will take two years to complete.

33 senior officers apply for PESCO chief's post

Thirty-three senior retired defence officers have applied for the lone post of Chairman, Punjab Ex-servicemen Corporation (PESCO), which has been lying vacant for the past few months. The aspirants for the post include five officers of the rank of Lieutenant General and 10 officers of the rank of Major General. The post has traditionally been held by a retired Major General, barring a couple of instances.

The selection committee is headed by the Chief Secretary, Punjab, and the appointment is expected to be finalised this month. To be eligible, the aspirant should have held the rank of Brigadier or equivalent in the services, belong to the state of Punjab and be below 65 years of age. Set up by the state government, PESCO is involved in the welfare of ex-servicemen, their widows and dependents. It provides them post-retirement employment, financial assistance and undertakes other welfare schemes.

Agusta controversy continues to simmer

The AgustaWestland helicopter deal continues to simmer, now at the political level. The Ministry of Defence has cancelled the Rs 3,600-crore deal for purchasing 12 copters for VVIP use and the company has been barred from participating in the Defence Expo, starting February 6 in the Capital. The BJP is demanding that the names of all those named in the Italian court of law hearing the case be made public. The Issue was raised in Parliament on February 5 and BJP MPs raised slogans from the Opposition stands. The matter now looks headed to become a poll issue.
India eyes better ties as German Prez arrives
Tribune News service

New Delhi, February 5
India and Germany today discussed ways to further enhance bilateral ties. Visiting German President Joachim Gauck held talks with President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a range of issues.

Gauck, who arrived here last night on a five-day visit to India, was given a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Relations between India and Germany have traditionally been cordial and close. The two countries are strategic partners since 2000. With the commencement of Inter-Governmental Consultations in 2011, there has been significant progress in all areas of bilateral cooperation through regular high-level exchanges at the Head of Government level, cooperation in strategic areas, growing economic and commercial ties and increased interaction in the fields of education, science and technology, culture and people-to-people relations.

Germany continues to be India's largest trading partner in Europe. India and Germany also work closely in the international arena.
   Chinese giant ‘hacks’ BSNL network

New Delhi, February 5
Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei allegedly hacked state-owned BSNL's network and the government is investigating the matter.

"An incident about alleged hacking of BSNL network by Huawei has come to notice. The government has constituted an interministerial team to investigate the matter," Minister of State for Communications and IT Killi Kruparani said. There were reports of Huawei hackers targetting a mobile tower in Andhra Pradesh. — PTI
541 Attempts to Infiltrate Into J&K in Last Two Years: Govt
In the last two years, there have been 541 attempts to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir while 65 terrorists were killed in 2013 in encounters with the Indian Army, Defence Minister A K Antony informed Rajya Sabha today.

"In 2012 and 2013, there have been 541 infiltration attempts in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2013, 65 terrorists were killed in J and K in encounters with the Indian Army," he said in a written reply.

"No Pakistani soldier was apprehended on the LoC in 2013. However, on February 14, last year, one Pakistan Army soldier was killed while intruding across the LoC in the Naushera sector," the Defence Minister said.

To a query on AgustaWestland chopper scam, he said the government has scrapped the VVIP chopper deal with effect from January 1 on grounds of breach of pre-integrity pact.

"No decision has been taken till date to debar the said company," the Minister said.

Replying to another query, Antony said in last five years, three MiG-29 combat aircraft have met with accidents and these mishaps have been investigated by the IAF.

On the issue of large number of services personnel not being able to cast their votes, Antony said, "The matter relating to the further facilitation of voting by defence personnel has been taken up with the Election Commission of India."

On setting up of a national war memorial, the Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh said a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Antony has recommended its construction at the India Gate hexagon.

"The Urban Development Ministry is processing the recommendations for approval by the competent authority," he said.
Britain Says India Did Not Follow Its Advice in 1984 Army Raid
LONDON — Britain sent a military officer to advise India before Indian forces stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984, leaving hundreds dead, but the advice was largely ignored and had little impact on the bloody outcome, the British government said on Tuesday.

In publishing an inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the attack on the temple, the holiest shrine for Sikhs, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the tactics India used were so different from those suggested by the British officer that London bore no responsibility for what followed.

The raid on the Golden Temple, in the northern Indian state of Punjab, was designed to flush out separatists. Estimates of the number of victims vary, but Mr. Hague said on Tuesday that official figures put the death toll at 575, while other reports suggested “as many as 3,000 people were killed, including pilgrims caught in the crossfire.”

Britain’s role in the episode came to light last month when internal government documents were released under rules allowing for the publication of official records after 30 years. On Tuesday, Mr. Hague rejected requests from some lawmakers for an apology for Britain’s role. He said an apology was not justified by the investigation done by the nation’s top civil servant, Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary.

“If any of us thought that any British assistance had contributed to unnecessary loss of life and to suffering in this or any other case,” Mr. Hague said in Parliament, “then we would all want to say that this was a mistake and, for the country, to make an apology. But that is not what is established by the cabinet secretary’s report.”

Britain’s assistance was, Mr. Hague said, “purely advisory, limited and provided to the Indian government at an early stage in their planning.”

Mr. Heywood’s inquiry confirmed that a British military officer visited India from Feb. 8 to Feb. 17, 1984, conducted reconnaissance of the temple site and advised India’s intelligence services. But the report emphasized that there were significant differences between the advice offered and the operation that took place in June 1984. By that time, dissident forces in Amritsar, in northwestern India near the border with Pakistan, had increased, as had their fortifications.

“In particular, the element of surprise was not at the heart of the operation,” the report said. “Nor was simultaneous helicopter insertion of assault forces to dominate critical areas.”

The report said that India had requested the advice from Britain, but Mr. Heywood described it as “a one-off” and said that the government “did not link the provision of this military advice to defense sales.”

Mr. Hague said that British officials had searched 200 files and more than 23,000 documents in the inquiry, but that “some military files covering various operations were destroyed in November 2009, as part of a routine process undertaken by the Ministry of Defense.”

Last month, the BBC reported that the Indian general who led the operation to take the Golden Temple, Kuldip Singh Brar, had denied using British help.
Rosoboronexport looks to expand India cooperation at DEFEXPO
The Russian defence export company is offering a wide range of products to all three wings of the Indian armed forces at the defence exhibition, which begins on February 6 in New Delhi.
Rosoboronexport is looking to expand cooperation with India and is focussing on joint production and development with the country, the Russian company said on Wednesday. “Expanding joint development and production efforts on weaponry and military equipment will be among the key topics during talks between Rosoboronexport and Indian partners,” at the DEFEXPO India 2014, Rosoboronexport said in a press note.

“This is India’s biggest arms exhibition and therefore Russia will be presented here on a large scale,” Ivan Goncharenko, First Deputy General Director of Rosoboronexport said in the press statement. “Clearly, we’re planning to promote a large number of army and naval equipment, air defence systems and aircraft models at DEFEXPO India. Moreover, in almost all cases the upcoming talks are directly related to setting up joint ventures, establishing licensed production, and transfer of technology – precisely such cooperation is the mainstream of our bilateral relations.”
Rosoboronexport said it would hold talks with Indian partners on current and future projects, including upgrading of previously delivered equipment, including the BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, T-72 and the T-90S tanks. The company added that it expects to discuss the progress of the tender to supply self-propelled artillery systems. “Among its contenders is the Russian upgraded Msta-S 155mm self-propelled howitzer, which is undergoing trials in India. The howitzer’s chassis has a high level of commonality for components and units with the chassis of the T-90S MBT, whose licensed production has already been mastered at India’s Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi,” the company said in the statement.

The ongoing work on setting up a Russian-Indian joint venture to manufacture rocket projectiles for the Smerch multiple launch rocket system may be considered a promising new area for mutually beneficial cooperation on army weapons, Rosoboronexport said.

The Russian company said it expects India to be interested in the T-90S MBT, T-90S-based engineer vehicles, BMPT-72 tank support combat vehicle, Sprut SD self-propelled anti-tank gun, tactical automated command and control system among other offerings.

Offerings to the Indian Navy

After-sales service of the INS Vikramaditya will be among the naval issues to be discussed at the expo, the Russian company said, adding that it was ready to continue consultations to promote the Amur-1650 diesel-electric submarine within the upcoming tender for design and construction of the Project 75I submarines for the Indian Navy, as well as to supply an additional series of Project 11356 frigates.
“Russian patrol and landing craft, ship weapon systems, Bal-E coastal missile system, and a variety of radar and sonar coastal zone surveillance systems have also good prospects in the Indian market,” Rosoboronexport said. “The Be-200 multipurpose amphibious aircraft offers a number of advantages over the competitors within the upcoming Indian Navy’s tender to purchase amphibians for reconnaissance and search and rescue operations and transport service between the island territories.”

For the Indian Air Force, the Russian exporter is offering the Ka-226T light utility helicopter, which is a strong contender in the Indian tender to supply 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters.

Rosoboronexport, a subsidiary of the Rostec Corporation, is the sole state-owned arms trade company in the Russia authorized to export the full range of military and dual-purpose products, technologies and services.
Saab, Ashok Leyland tie-up for Army's SR-SAM tender

NEW DELHI: Swedish defence firm Saab Group has tied up with Indian Ashok LeylandBSE -2.43 % for Indian Army's requirement for short-range Surface-to-Air-Missile system tender.

"Saab and Ashok Leyland are teaming to meet the SRSAM requirement with a new solution that combines the Saab BAMSE missile system with Ashok Leyland high-mobility vehicles," a Saab release said here.

The system on offer from Saab and Ashok Leyland is a ground-bas ..
Army's Ingenious Frontier Diplomacy
P. Stobdan

February 5, 2014

In an extraordinary endeavour and perhaps for the first time, the Indian Army invoked the struggles and ardors of civilians from borderland Ladakh during its annual day celebration this year. Lt. Gen. Sanjeev Chachra, Army Commander of Northern Command paid tribute while awarding three civilians for their exemplary valour that included porters working with the army at Siachan glaciers. The gesture, a marked departure from traditionally awarding only the army personnel, would surely raise the morals of hapless civilians battling two difficult fronts but so far remained hopelessly in the slough of despond.

The awardees included Stanzin Padma, a porter who exhibited exemplary grit by digging out live two army soldiers trapped under snow avalanche last summer. Not just this, on 6 December 2012, Padma saved fellow porter Nima Norboo who had fallen into a 200 feet deep crevasse while operating a trolley for 16 Rajput. In a daunting exercise that lasted for 20 hours, Padma physically extricated Norboo from treacherous crevasse. Nima Norboo himself displayed extraordinary nerve to keep himself alive for over 20 hours in sub-arctic temperatures. But for Padma’s nerve-racking effort, death for Norboo was certain. He has been through traumatic head surgery and suffered amputation of both his legs and left hand due to grade IV frostbite. After months of treatment at 153 army hospital, Norboo was left to his own fate without even an artificial limb. He came from Waris, the last village on border with Pakistan in Turtuk Sector. Norboo now redundant his survival along with two small children seemed improbable. But fate of many despondent porters like Norboo changed after Lt. Gen. Rakesh Sharma, newly joined GOC 14 Corps promptly recognised their sacrifices when this author also brought the case to his attention last summer. Not only the Army gave justice but also conferred him with honour for his exceptional contribution to national security. Another hero included Jigmet Urgain who had to leave army after a mine blast left him completely wounded. He lost his eyesight as well as both hands. However, it didn’t distraught Jigmet from helping his less privileged brethren which earned him bravery award from Army.

Lt. Gen. Rakesh Sharma, a sound military geo-strategic thinker and ex-colleague of this author at IDSA knows that big challenges never come easy. In a first, the Army picked another civilian hero Rigzin Tangay from Demchok, a border village over facing a Chinese military post in Eastern Ladakh, for this year’s award. Tangay’s contribution for combating the PLA’s intrusions is known to the nation through media. Yet, except for Army, no civilian authority or political class could even set their eyes on these heroes. They were only busy pushing their own lobbyists and fixers for the Padma awards, the sheen and credibility of these anyway seem fading away. In a unique public discourse on the Depsang incident held in New Delhi last summer, Tangay left India’s elite security community stunned when he said that the next generation will not live along borderland due to government’s apathy. Yet, the Army remains the only hope. This time professionalism of military leadership has been proved. It still remains unvaryingly the country’s most effective institution, far ahead of our usual laggards as political, bureaucracy and the media.

For the GOC 14 Corps, it was a masterstroke to offset the loss of public confidence and attitude towards the Army - a trend begun in the aftermath of Kargil War. In the face of growing Chinese intrusions like in Depsang, Chushul, Demchok and Chumur regaining people’s trust is utmost important. To be sure, the Corps has risen to the challenge, and undertaking measures what would prove to be a dramatic change, especially when the Army is raising a Mountain Strike Corps with an offensive capability to penetrate into Tibet.

Military remains a catalyst; the infrastructure built compensate for the short falls of government development plans in Ladakh. The DRDO projects had trickle-down effect on local agriculture growth and it needs to do more innovative work to stabilize sparsely populated eastern Ladakh prone to Chinese incursions. All in all military’s role still remains paramount for tackling a range of social problems, virtually proving employment to the poor.

To reshape public confidence further, the Union Home Ministry should quickly address the long festering issue of redeploying at least one regiment of the sashastra seema bal (SSB) in Ladakh. Initially raised as Special Service Bureau in the 1960s, SSB effectively involved natives for building a second line of defence against adversaries. It resembled China’s Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), known as Bingtuan, a quasi-military force working as an "ecological warrior" to defend frontier desert, mountains and wasteland under adverse conditions. SSB gave guerrilla training to even women folks and kept the public morale upbeat at all odds. The decision to shift the force (post-Kargil) to the Indo-Nepal border proved disastrous for security and demographic profile of borderland. Its dislocation left the natives demoralized; hundreds of labourers, porters, transporters and others were deprived of their livelihood that also entailed social discontentment. Set adrift by lack of employment, thousands of youths in Ladakh stray in distress. Ladakh component of SSB personnel remain scattered across the UP, Bihar and Bengal plains who routinely complain of heat-strokes, snake-bites and malaria-attacks. The relocation would allow these young men to return to their native land stronger mentally and physically; better fit to serve in the high altitude warfare conditions. Revisiting the policy by the Home Ministry should be considered as deemed necessary for national interest.
Army looking for gear to protect troops from AK-47 bullets
New Delhi: For providing its personnel protection against the lethal bullets of rifles such as AK-47, the Indian Army has issued tenders to procure around two lakh bullet-proof jackets and helmets for its troops deployed in counter-insurgency operations.

The two tenders were issued last year under Army's modernisation programme of its Infantry soldiers known as the Future-Infantry Soldier as a System (F-INSAS) under which it will acquire?1,86,168 bulletproof jackets for its personnel along with ballistic helmets with internal communication gear.

"We have participated in both the tenders to supply these bullet-proof jackets and ballistic helmets with internal communication facilities," Indian firm MKU's Managing Director Neeraj Gupta said here.

He said his firm has responded to the bids issued by the Army under the category in which only six Indian vendors have been allowed to compete.

Gupta said after acquiring a German manufacturing facility, his firm has supplied protective gear to more than 100 international forces and they have been used by them in conflict zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

As per the Army's requirement, it wants jackets with hard armour plates for front, rear, sides, upper arms, groin and throat, capable of protecting against 7.62mm x 39mm mild steel core ammunition fired from an AK-47 from 10 metres.

The Army is deployed in counter-insurgency operations for several decades in North East and Jammu and Kashmir and has been facing shortage of these protective gear as pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General in its recent report.

Gupta said his firm is looking towards providing armoured protection to military helicopters that operate in insurgent and terrorist-infested areas in the country.

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