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Friday, 28 February 2014

From Today's Papers - 28 Feb 2014

 Quit on my own: Admiral Joshi
Consulted PM before accepting resignation: Antony
New Delhi/Mumbai, Feb 27
The government has started the process of appointing a new Navy Chief after Admiral DK Joshi resigned yesterday. Vice Admiral RK Dhowan, Vice Chief of the Navy, was made Acting Chief after Admiral Joshi resigned owning moral responsibility for the accident on board the submarine INS Sindhuratna yesterday.

Admiral Joshi told a group of senior Naval officers today that it was his own decision to resign while Defence Minister AK Antony said he was sad at his resignation, describing him as a “very good man”.

Antony said he was sad at the developments. He had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and consulted “everybody” before accepting the resignation of an “upset” Admiral Joshi.

Admiral Joshi became the first chief of the Navy to resign over accidents involving naval vessels. He was slated to serve till August 2015.

In Mumbai, the Indian Navy today confirmed the death of two of its officers, who were on board the ill-fated submarine. The bodies of Lieutenant Commander Kapish Munwal and Lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar were located in compartment three of the submarine. Fire and smoke had been noticed in the same compartment. — TNS
 Ex-soldiers praise Joshi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
The unprecedented resignation by Naval Chief Admiral DK Joshi has earned him applause from retired soldiers while Defence Minister AK Antony is being questioned for the hasty acceptance of the resignation and not acting like a statesman.

The Admiral's decision to resign owning moral responsibility has set the bar high for his peers and successors to follow. Even though Admiral Joshi is not responsible for the faltering 30-years submarine construction plan, he had paid the price for operating an ageing fleet.

The Admiral's resignation has also posed questions as to why the Ministry of Defence is not being revamped to work faster and remove bottle necks as this seems more of a case of delayed modernisation and lack of quality spares. Could the Defence Minister AK Antony have not accepted the resignation immediately and allowed Admiral Joshi to 'cool down'? The haste in accepting the resignation is raising more questions. A serving officer said: "Antony could have let the matter cool down."

In the past, Antony showed great level of tolerance towards former Army Chief Gen VK Singh (retd), who embarrassed the government with his age row controversy and litigations.

Lt Gen KK Nayyar, a former Vice Chief of the Indian Navy, who has the distinction of having commanded both the Western and Eastern fleets of the Navy, says: "It was a great decision."

"It takes years to decide on small matters and the first-ever resignation by a Chief is decided within two hours," Vice Admiral Nayyar said.

Within the Navy, officers are shocked. Lt Gen Mohinder Puri, who led the 8 Mountain Division into the Kargil war, and latter went on to become the Deputy Chief of the Indian Army, said "It is an excellent decision". The problem is that Admiral Joshi had to resign for the collective failure of the system.
Iran for better security ties with India
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif today called for increased cooperation between the two countries to stabilise the security situation in the region.

Delivering the fifth RK Mishra Memorial lecture on ‘Foreign Policy-Towards Stability in West Asia’, he noted that Afghanistan would soon witness presidential elections, followed by the withdrawal of NATO troops.

Zarif, who is on his maiden visit to India after becoming the Foreign Minister, will hold talks with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and other Indian leaders tomorrow.

The Iranian leader said India and Iran were in an advanced stage of negotiations for setting up the Chabahar Port that would provide a road link to India to transport its goods to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Fratricides, suicides return to haunt security forces in J-K
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 27
After a long hiatus, fratricides and suicides have returned to haunt the security forces in conflict-ridden J&K. Senior Army officers dubbed the incidents this year, including today’s carnage in Ganderbal, as stray and isolated and attributed them to a multitude of factors like mobile phone technology, domestic problems back home, denial of leave vis-a-vis the hostile and stressful working conditions of soldiers.

After grappling with fratricidal killings and suicides among armed and paramilitary forces in the 90s, reconciliatory measures in the form of liberal leave to soldiers, yoga classes and recreational facilities have paid positive dividends, said a senior officer of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps.

“In most cases, their problems back home, which they get to know through their mobile phones, act as a catalyst. They lose their balance of mind and go berserk. But, at the same time, staying connected with one’s family is everyone’s right,” he said.
India, Israel ink 3 security agreements
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
The Ministry of Home Affairs has signed three security agreements — Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters; Agreement on Protection of Classified Material; and Agreement on Cooperation in Homeland and Public Security — with Israel today.
Govt committed to pension plan: Antony
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
Laying to rest speculations on one rank-one pension (OROP) for ex-servicemen, Defence Minister AK Antony today assured the Services that the government was fully committed to implementing OROP and that the requisite funds would be made available to ensure its implementation.

Chairing a meeting of the top brass of the Services and senior officials of the MoD here last evening, Antony said the Finance Minister had clarified that the figure of Rs 500 crore made available for the scheme was only “indicative”.

For the first time, the government explained in writing what it means by OROP. An MoD statement said, “OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to the armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement and any future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.”

One rank-one pension had been announced in the Budget by the Union Finance Minister. Ever since, retired soldiers have been asking the government to clarify how it defines OROP.

This implies bridging the gap between the amount of pension of current pensioners and past pensioners. Future enhancements in pension will also be automatically passed on to the past pensioners. Antony directed the Controller General of Defence Accounts to initiate necessary steps in consultation with the three Services, MoD Finance and Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare to implement the decision.
An honourable resignation
The government, MoD must also take responsibility

In a dramatic event, the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Devender Kumar Joshi, has resigned, the first by a service chief in post-Independence Indian history, while taking moral responsibility for a spate of unfortunate accidents and mishaps involving several warships and submarines in the last six months. The government has since accepted the resignation and given temporary charge to the Vice Chief of Naval Staff.

The resignation was sparked off by an incident on board INS Sindhuratna, a 25-year-old Kilo class submarine of Soviet origin, on Wednesday in which two officers died and seven sailors were injured while on an exercise in the Arabian Sea. Admiral Joshi, a highly competent officer and distinguished submariner, has set a laudatory example of leadership by taking responsibility on himself in the highest traditions of service rather than to pass the buck. However, the causative factors still remain unaddressed. The Navy needs to tackle issues relating to non-compliance of standard operating procedures, of leadership and training and inter-personal relations at the top. Also, the officers under whose command these mishaps have occurred need to also take responsibility. But the Navy cannot account for issues relating to an ageing fleet of submarines and ships as also delays in acquisitions for which the government must bear responsibility. A paralysed political executive and bureaucracy hounded by scams must account for indifference by a civilian agency entrusted with dredging in the Mumbai port that have led to ships running aground, shabby maintenance and repair that led to material failures in ships, shortages in the officer cadre and a partial decline in the quality of youth joining a highly technology intensive Navy in an increasingly competititve maritime environment.

The resignation by a service chief is a very grave development indeed that has harmed the image of a highly professional and outstanding Navy which for some years now continues to be the most operationally engaged on the high seas in recent history and is considered vital for maritime security and international diplomacy. Admiral Joshi's resignation, therefore, requires serious introspection and course correction by the government. This incident, which will remain permanently etched in India’s military history, should not be allowed to pass. It is hoped that no service chief will ever again have to resign under such circumstances.
Jawan kills five colleagues, self in Kashmir
Tribune News Service

Manasbal (Ganderbal), Feb 27
An Army jawan shot dead five of his colleagues while they were sleeping early Thursday morning before committing suicide at the battalion headquarters of 13 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) in central Kashmir's Ganderbal district.

The Army has ordered a high level Court of Inquiry into the killings, Srinagar-based defence spokeperson Lt Col NN Joshi said.

A police officer told IANS that the angry soldier went berserk inside the Safapora (Manasbal) camp, some 35 km from Srinagar, on the banks of the serene Manasbal Lake, following a heated exchange of words with his colleagues.

This is the first major incident of fratricide in Kashmir in the last two years.

While the Army did not give more details, it is learnt sepoy Ranveer Singh was posted on sentry duty at the main gate of the Army camp. Around 2am, he walked to one of the guard room barracks where some jawans were asleep. He took a jawan’s rifle and fired indiscriminately.

“Five jawans of 13 RR were killed in the indiscriminate firing and another was injured. After the firing, the soldier returned to his post and shot and killed himself with his own service rifle,” a source said. The slain soldiers are: Sepoy Amit Kumar, Lance Naik Tabruq Ansari, Sepoy Surinder Singh, Rifle Man Rajput Joni and Sepoy Mahetre Rahul.

A bloody decade

2005: 44 cases of suicide, 10 of fratricide reported among Armymen

March 2006: Soldier kills four colleagues in Miran Sahib, Jammu, before killing himself following an argument

Oct 2006: Soldier kills two colleagues in Rajouri, commits suicide; jawan kills officer in Srinagar’s Harwan camp

Nov 2007: Soldier kills two senior colleagues in Doda

2008: 34 cases of suicide, one of fratricide reported

May 2013: Sashastra Seema Bal soldier kills two colleagues in Kishtwar

Oct 2013: Rashtriya Rifles JCO shot dead by subordinate in South Kashmir

Feb 2014: Jawan shoots five colleagues at a camp in Central Kashmir
Former Army Chief General VK Singh likely to join BJP on Saturday: sources
 Former Army Chief General VK Singh, who was engaged in a bitter battle with the government over his age, is likely join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday, according to sources.

This comes just two days after General (retired) Singh met Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan at his official residence in Bhopal. The ex-army chief, though, described that meeting as "courtesy" visit.

General (Retd.) Singh had, in October last, ruled out joining the BJP, saying that he was firmly behind veteran activist Anna Hazare in his crusade against corruption.

The statement had come close on the heels of his sharing the dais with BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at a rally in Haryana, attended mostly by ex-servicemen.

General (Retd.) Singh was the first serving military chief to drag the government to court in the hope of establishing that he was correct in claiming that he was born in 1951, not 1950. Documents with the Army reflected both dates. In his petition in the Supreme Court, he had asked for an explanation of why his claim that he was born in 1951 and not 1950 had been rejected by the Ministry of Defence.

The Supreme Court, however, had upheld the government's decision on the issue, saying it was not in favour of entertaining the Army Chief's petition.
My decision alone, only consulted my wife: Admiral DK Joshi on quitting as Navy Chief
Admiral DK Joshi, who stunned the country yesterday by resigning as Navy Chief taking moral responsibility over a series of accidents, has said that he had only consulted his wife on the decision.

"It was my decision alone. I only consulted my wife. I was firm that I must take responsibility for the incidents," Admiral Joshi told a gathering of the Navy's seniormost officers in Delhi.

His wife, he said, told him that he must go ahead if he was convinced. Admiral Joshi, who took over as Chief of Naval Staff in 2012, said he had tried unsuccessfully to change a growing perception that the Navy Headquarters and Command were unable to address the problem of accidents involving naval assets.

The Indian Navy has seen 10 accidents in the last seven months. Admiral Joshi discussed with the two-star and three-star officers he met, that while two of these had been major mishaps, the others were more minor incidents which could have happened anywhere in the world.
The 59-year-old resigned yesterday, hours after a fire was reported on the Navy submarine INS Sindhuratna, which was being sea-tested about 50 kilometres off the Mumbai shore. Two officers were killed and seven sailors were taken seriously ill.

In his resignation letter, Admiral Joshi had said though the government continued to repose faith in his capabilities, it was becoming untenable for him to continue as the head of the maritime force in terms of accountability.

His resignation was promptly accepted by Defence Minister AK Antony, and Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral RK Dhowan was asked to take over as acting Chief till the next chief is appointed.

Admiral Joshi, who belongs to Uttarakhand, had 15 more months to go of his tenure as chief. He served in a variety of command, staff and instructional appointments during his 41-year career, including captaining the guided missile corvette INS Kuthar, the guided missile destroyer INS Ranvir and the aircraft carrier INS Viraat.
Two officers died in fire on board submarine INS Sindhuratna, confirms Navy
    The navy said Lieutenant Commander Kapish Muwal and Lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar died in the INS Sindhuratna fire. They had been declared missing yesterday after the accident in which seven sailors were injured. Their bodies were found in a submarine compartment.

    Reports suggest the fire that broke out in the 25-year-old submarine could be due to malfunctioning batteries. The submarine was being sea tested after a refit; its batteries were reportedly not replaced because contracts were not finalised in time.

    Seven sailors fell unconscious from suffocation while trying to control the fire and smoke and had to be airlifted to a Navy hospital in Mumbai. The submarine surfaced after the smoke was detected.

    The Russian-origin Kilo Class submarine, one of India's 14 conventional submarines, was carrying no weapons or ammunition. It had sailed out on Tuesday night and since it was still being tested, had not been placed under operational command yet.

    Admiral DK Joshi resigned as Navy Chief hours after the accident. "It was my decision. I only consulted my wife," he told a gathering of naval officers in Delhi today.

    Defence Minister AK Antony, who has been criticised for accepting his resignation said, "I am very sad about the incident. Joshi came to me. He was very disturbed about the whole development. He said he would like to take responsibility and insisted that I accept his resignation. So I consulted everybody and the Prime Minister and ultimately took a decision to accept it."

    Former defence officers and experts say the minister should also resign."Admiral Joshi has held himself to the highest standards of public morality. Mr Antony had the option to tell him not to go," said strategic expert Admiral Raja Menon.

    The government faces a dilemma over a successor for Admiral Joshi, who is the first military chief to resign. Vice Admiral Robin K Dhowan, who has been appointed as acting Naval Chief, is not the seniormost Naval officer after Admiral Joshi's resignation. Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, currently the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, based in Mumbai, is senior to Vice Admiral Dhowan. (read)

    The Sindhuratna fire was the 10th accident involving an Indian Navy asset and the third submarine accident in the last seven months. In August last year, Navy submarine INS Sindhurakshak sank in the Mumbai harbour after an explosion on board, killing 18 sailors. (Navy hopeful of reusing INS Sindhurakshak)

    Earlier this month, an amphibious warfare vessel INS Airavat ran aground after which its commanding officer was stripped of his command duties.
Too late to ask: Is AK Antony right for defence?
The sacking of naval chief DK Joshi following yet another submarine mishap points to the turbulent nature of defence minister AK Antony's tenure. Generally known for his calm, composed and near-reclusive nature, the Kerala strongman clearly found the defence ministry much beyond his capabilities to handle.

The various mishaps that happened to naval vessels, the long tug-of-war the minister had with former army chief VK Singh, the so-called "coup" attempt during Singh's tenure, the cancelling of various defence deals, the corruption allegation against former air chief SP Tyagi, and the perceived gulf of mistrust that developed between the army and the government have become the hallmarks of Antony's stewardship of the ministry.

"There is no denying the fact that Antony is an honest man. But during his tenure, deficit of trust between the forces and ministry widened a lot. The episode of General VK Singh and now Admiral DK Joshi has exposed the trust deficit," a retired Lt General of Indian army told dna. Another officer claimed that despite repeated demands and even an alarm raised by the forces, the defence ministry kept many crucial army acquisitions on the backburner.

"We need a person who is not pro-self, but pro-India, and can thus utilise the resources to the best, rather than sitting on files for the sake of personal, intangible gains," said Air Vice-Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak.

Antony may have achieved the record as the longest-serving defence minister of the country, but in his tenure of seven years, the nation's defence preparedness has suffered. His over-cautious approach has led to long delays, a complaint which has been following him since his days as chief minister of Kerala.

While handling General VK Singh's age row, the defence ministry was completely on the back foot as the former army chief went to the Supreme Court against the order of the defence ministry. VK Singh was the first army chief in the history of Independent India, who went to court against a government decision.

In a recent disclosure, then director general of military operations, claimed that a panicked defence secretary summoned him to know about the movement of troops on the day VK Singh had approached the Supreme Court and asked that the troops be sent back. This was the incident that gave rise to 'coup attempt' rumours.

"There was a misconception or there was perceptional difference or there may be distrust," Lt General AK Choudhary, the DGMO reportedly told the media. The very fact that such an incident happened is indication of the trust deficit between the forces and the executive which has never happened.

"If you ask me, there was no trust deficit between me and the defence minister. Deficit of trust was created by the babus of the defence ministry as I was taking on the issue of rampant corruption in the corridors of ministry and particularly in the defence public sector units. Babus do influence defence minister for their vested interest," Gen VK Singh (retired) told dna.

"The issue was highlighted by me in my book as well that babus did their best to develop a trust deficit between the defence minister and me because I was exposing them."

Even in the navy chief's resignation episode, we should look into the circumstances orchestrated by the defence ministry which led to his departure. Taking moral responsibility for mishaps is certainly a moral booster for the forces. But, the real culprits are the defence ministry officials, who did not bother to look at long-pending demands of the navy, VK Singh said.

"He is completely a self-centered man. Self revival is his first instinct. He neither has the ability to control his officers nor has faith in them. He did not take action after the then army chief General VK Singh informed him about the bribery episode. Instead, he sat on the issue and only handed it over to the CBI after it was highlighted by the media," a former Lt General told dna.

"In an attempt to protect his image of an honest man, he has blacklisted almost all major defence firms. But he has not been able to find fault in the ministry and circumstances under which these private companies bribe officials of his ministry," an army officer added.

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