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Monday, 3 February 2014

From Today's Papers - 03 Feb 2014

Centre set to hike DA by 10% in March

New Delhi, February 2
The Centre is likely to announce next month a hike in the dearness allowance by 10% to 100%, benefiting about 50 lakh employees and 30 lakh pensioners.

It would be the second double digit DA hike in a row. The government had announced a hike of 10% to 90% in September last year, effective from July 1, 2013.

Official sources said the preliminary assessment suggests that the DA hike will not be less than 10% and would be effective from January 1 this year.

He said the exact percentage hike in DA could be calculated only when the revised all India Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) for December is released on February 28. According to the provisional data released by government on January 31, the retail inflation for factory workers for the month of December stood at 9.13%.

As per practice, the government uses CPI-IW data of the past 12 months to arrive at a quantum for the purpose of any DA hike. Thus, the retail inflation for industrial workers between January 1 to December 31, 2013 would be used to take a final call on the matter. — PTI

More bonanza

    It would be the second double digit DA hike in a row. The government had announced a hike of 10% to 90% in September last year, effective from July 1, 2013
    Official sources said the preliminary assessment suggests that the DA hike will not be less than 10% and would be effective from January 1 this year
 DRDO all set to make its presence felt at Indian Science Congress
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 2
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which fulfils over 55 per cent requirement of the armed forces, is all set to make its presence felt at the 101st Indian Science Congress being organised at the University of Jammu (JU) from February 3.

The technological strength of the research giant will be depicted through its state-of-the-art systems and technologies will be showcased at the five-day-long mega event. The DRDO pavilion has continuously bagged top awards for the last four years.

"The highlight of the DRDO's participation in the Indian Science Congress will be a special evening lecture 'Scientific innovation in security', by Avinash Chander, Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence R&D, on February 3," said Dr Ravi Gupta, Director, Public Interface, DRDO.

Avinash Chander is an accomplished missile scientist, who has led the indigenous designing, development and production of India's ballistic missiles. These missiles, capable of delivering strategic payloads in excess of 5,000 km, provide credible deterrence against misadventures by any adversary and are thus the weapons of peace, he added.

Dr Gupta said besides the exhibition of DRDO products, another important event would be a public outreach session titled "Innovations in defence technologies" scheduled to be held on February 5.

During the session Dr G Malakondaiah would lead a galaxy of senior DRDO scientists in presenting the activities and achievements of the organisation. He said 33 laboratories of the DRDO would be taking part in the mega event.

Ashwagosha Ganju, Director, Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, DRDO, said 50 scientists of the DRDO would be taking part in the Science Congress and would make the show immensely beneficial for the visitors.

The DRDO has developed several material technologies and established production facilities as well. A few samples such as titanium sponge and high-power rare earth magnets can be seen, he added.

Dr Sudarshan Kumar, Director, Center for Fire Explosive and Environment Safety, DRDO, said the aim of the DRDO to participate in the Science Congress was to apprise and inspire young minds with science and technology opening to them a whole new world of dreams, challenges, and opportunities.
 BSF may replace Assam Rifles on Myanmar border
Shaurya K Gurung
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
With the Border Security Force (BSF) being proposed to be given the responsibility of guarding the India-Myanmar border, there is likely to be a change in the security structure of counter-insurgency operations in India’s North-East.

Sources in the security establishment have said the Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force, which has been guarding the 1643-km long India-Myanmar border since 2002, will soon only conduct counter-insurgency operations in the North-East. The plan is to replace about 15 to 20 infantry battalions of the Indian Army that have been deployed in the North-East for counter-insurgency operations, by Assam Rifles. The remaining battalions of the Army engaged in counter-insurgency operations there would also be replaced by the Assam Rifles in a graduated manner.

The developments came to the light after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently sent a proposal to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for approving the BSF to take over the responsibility of guarding the India-Myanmar border from the Assam Rifles. Although the CCS is yet to approve the proposal, it is likely that the BSF will be given the task.

The BSF which was raised on December 1, 1965, is the world’s largest border guarding force. It presently guards the India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders.

At the BSF’s annual press conference held on November 29 last year, the force’s Director-General, Subhash Joshi, had said: “We have recently been informed of the decision that the India-Myanmar border will be guarded by the BSF.”

The BSF plans to raise 41 battalions (41,000 troops), four Frontier, 12 Sector and a Theatre Headquarters, for guarding the border.

Counter-insurgency op

Assam Rifles to conduct counter-insurgency operations in North-East soon.
 India-Myanmar border alignment high on agenda
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
With India firmly looking to engage countries to its East, the Indo-Myanmar border alignment is high on the agenda for resolution as New Delhi’s assessment is that an increased population of Chinese origin in Myanmar could pose a risk along the porous and un-demarcated border.

With the India-Burma-Thailand trilateral highway getting top priority, large volume of trade is expected to move on the route. At present the trade volume is around $1 billion (Rs 6,000 crore) and largely by the way of import of pulses and timber.

The tri-lateral highway can entail a 10-fold increase since it will provide access to Thailand and further east to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The existing sea trade route to these countries is expensive. Indian security agencies have suggested to have a firm alignment of the 1634-km-long border with Myanmar. It should is fully demarcated and marked on the ground lest any dispute arises.

The alignment of 136 km of this is not aligned or demarcated on ground and it lies in heavily forested areas where India does not even have roads to access the area. The location of another nine border posts in Manipur (Moreh-Tamu area) is disputed due to inability of surveyors.

Sources confirmed that the Indian decision is to remain sensitive to Myanmar. However, the need is now to demarcate the boundary and have some regulation on entry and exit points.
 Pak raises pitch against key Indian role in Kabul
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
As the deadline for withdrawal by foreign troops from Afghanistan draws closer, Pakistan has intensified its campaign against giving any robust role to India in the war-torn nation in the post-drawdown phase.

It is learnt that Islamabad has yet again told the United States that it would have strong reservations if India was given any critical responsibility in Afghanistan after the pullout by NATO troops by the end of this year.

The issue was discussed at a recent meeting of the Standing Committee of Pakistan’s Senate (Upper House) on Defence at which the country’s Defence Secretary Lt Gen Asif Yasin is reported to have given a detailed briefing on US-Pakistan talks on Afghanistan.

Islamabad is also said to have conveyed to Washington its apprehensions about the role of Indian Consulates in the Afghan cities of Kandahar and Jalalabad in fuelling insurgency in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province, notwithstanding New Delhi’s contention that the Consulates were primarily involved in the massive reconstruction programme India has undertaken in the war-ravaged country.

Pakistan’s renewed opposition to India’s role in Afghanistan has once again given rise to speculation that it wanted to gain ‘strategic depth’ in the battle-scarred country after the withdrawal by foreign troops. The control over Kabul after all is vital to Islamabad’s military doctrine.

Last week, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz was in Washington where he told his American interlocutors that there was a strong perception in his country that a lot of pressure was exerted on Islamabad on issues concerning India. In an obvious reference to the Afghanistan issue, he complained that Islamabad’s legitimate concerns were not conveyed to New Delhi with intensity.

Strategic experts say Pakistan’s fresh offensive against India on the Afghanistan issue was reflective of its ‘dubious’ game-plan in the embattled country in the post-drawdown phase. It is not a secret that both India and Afghanistan have always been under threat of terrorist havens located in Pakistan. New Delhi fears that resurgent militancy in Afghanistan by the Taliban and its allies after the troops’ pullout could stoke violence, aided and abetted by Pakistan, in Jammu and Kashmir.

Because of Islamabad’s insistence, the US has pressured India from time to time to limit its role in Afghanistan so as to prevent Pakistan from withdrawing support for the war and cutting vital US supply lines.
 Defence civilian staff to go on strike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Defence civilian employees across the country have decided to go on an indefinite strike from February 17 in support of their demands. The move is likely to affect defence establishments across the board, including service establishments, ordnance factories and the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

With a combined cadre strength of about four lakh, defence civilian employees are those who are employed in Ministry of Defence (MoD) establishments and paid from the defence estimates, but do not fall under the purview of the Army, Navy or Air Force Acts.

A host of demands have been put up that includes matters pertaining to service conditions, pay and allowances as well as MoD’s technical issues that could have an adverse impact on the ongoing restructuring and functioning of some defence establishments.
 Naval warship runs aground off Vizag coast

New Delhi, February 2
In the ninth mishap involving Indian Navy's warships in the last seven months, an amphibious vessel was damaged when it ran aground off the coast of Vishakhapatnam.

An inquiry has been ordered by the Navy to ascertain the reasons for the mishap last week, sources in the Navy said today.

The incident was the eighth involving a Naval warship since the sinking of the submarine INS Sindhurakshak in Mumbai harbour in August last year in which all 18 personnel on board were killed.

The Magar-class Landing Ship Tanker (LST) ran aground off the coast of Vishakhapatnam and suffered damages. A Navy spokesperson refused to comment on the issue. The LSTs are used by the Navy for amphibious warfare.

Only two ships of the class were designed and built by Hindustan Shipyard Limited in partnership with the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers. The ships are stationed at the naval base in Vishakhapatnam.

They can operate two medium-lift helicopters, which are primarily meant for "inserting" a small team of Special Forces (marine commandos). There have been several incidents in the recent past amid claims by Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi that the force's record in terms of safety was "not that bad" when compared to other navies in the world. — PTI

9th mishap in 7 months

    The incident was the eighth involving a Naval warship since the sinking of the submarine INS Sindhurakshak in Mumbai harbour in August last year

    After the sinking of the INS Sindhurakshak, one of the mishaps involved INS Betwa which was damaged after probably hitting some underwater object
CBI raids army recruitment exam, finds irregularities
NAGPUR: The anti-corruption wing of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted surprise checks at two places on Sunday during the nationwide army recruitment drive, over suspicion of malpractices by some candidates, including leaking of some questions.

The CBI personnel manually checked around 1,400 candidates appearing for the written examination for mobile phones at the exam venue, Institute of Science. The CBI had received information that answers were being sent by SMS to some candidates before the examination, which had been delayed for around three hours for reasons best known to army officials.

Sources claimed that the answers were messaged to several candidates in the morning since the examination was scheduled at 10am. The examination actually started at around 1pm.

An offence was registered by CBI Nagpur after the question paper leak at the final examination of the recruitment drive at various centres across the country came to fore. This leak has brought several army officials concerned with recruitment under the CBI scanner.

CBI initiated the action after getting information about a Katol-based private grooming centre for army recruitment. The institute named 'Tango Charlie' allegedly was in nexus with some insiders in the army recruitment cell. It had lured several aspiring candidates to cough up around Rs1.5 lakh with the promise of getting them selected in the army. A civilian, identified as Roshan Tidke, has been booked along with the owner of Tango Charlie, Jaikumar Belkhode.

During the raids conducted by teams of PI Pradeep Lande and Hanumant Jangid, under supervision of CBI SP Sandeep Tamgadge, at the written examination centre, six candidates were found possessing mobile phones with SMSes from racketeers mentioning answers to some multiple choice questions.

Around 1,400 candidates, who had qualified for the written examinations, were vying for recruitment as soldiers in clerical, technical and general duty.

Wing Commander Samir Gangakhedkar, defence public relation officer, said that the Army recruitment office is extending full cooperation to the CBI investigations.

Sources said that the private institute, whose premises were searched, had approached candidates who had cleared the physical test and other initial rounds. CBI officials said the private institute is unlikely to get the details of candidates who have qualified for the final exam without support of army officials.

CBI officials had also sent undercover personnel to the private institute a day earlier, where the management is learnt to have promised candidates special favours like leaking question papers or messaging answers prior to the written examination against payments. During searches, CBI recovered original documents of several candidates.

CBI SP Tamgadge said such rackets can undermine the system. "It is a grave offence that elements are actively trying to infiltrate the army recruitment. CBI collected adequate evidence before initiating the action," said Tamgadge. The CBI officer was also in touch with army officials when the raid was initiated.

This TOI correspondent had accompanied the CBI officials during the raids. It was found that candidates were made to sit either on the road or in the field under the afternoon sun to write the examination. Earlier, the candidates had to spend the night under the open sky as army personnel checked their documents for around five hours beginning at 5am before being allowed to enter the venue.
Omar Abdullah meets Manmohan Singh, raises Army decision in Pathribal encounter
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here and raised the issue of Army's controversial decision to close the Pathribal fake encounter case, saying punishment should be meted to those responsible for killing of innocent people.

Omar also emphasised the need for giving justice to the families of the victims, an official spokesman here said. The Chief Minister also discussed suspension of trade across Line of Control(LoC) after the seizure of truck load of contraband drugs and called for amicable resolution of the matter with Pakistan so that the important Confidence Building Measure(CBM) of trade across the LoC is not jeopardised.
India and Pakistan last Thursday failed to break the two-week-old deadlock over the cross-LoC trade. During the meeting at Raj Bhavan, the Prime Minister was briefed about the peace and development scenario prevailing in the State at present.

Nearly 14 years after the fake encounter rocked J and K, the Army last month closed the case, saying the evidence recorded could not establish prime facie charges against any of its accused five personnel. The Army decision triggered an outrage in the Valley.

Five civilians were killed in a fake encounter on March 26, 2000 at Pathribal in South Kashmir with the victims being branded by Army as foreign militants. The case was handed over to the CBI for investigation in January, 2003. The CBI in its chargesheet concluded that officers and jawans of the Seven Rashtriya Rifles -- Brig Ajay Saxena, Lt Col Brahendra Pratap Singh, Maj Saurabh Sharma, Maj Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan had staged a fake encounter and killed five innocent civilians whom they said were terrorists involved in the massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpora in south Kashmir on March 20, 2000.
The Chief Minister also apprised the Prime Minister of the achievements registered by the coalition government during the last five years in the State in various fields of socio-economic development, empowerment of people, employment generation and restoration of peace and stability.

Matters pertaining to security and law and order also came up for discussion in the meeting, the spokesman said.

The Chief Minister expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister for his support to the State in its endeavour to fast track development and move ahead towards achieving the cherished goal of prosperity and tranquillity.

Omar wished good health and well-being to Singh which he reciprocated warmly. The Prime Minister also wished peace and progress in the State and well-being of its people.
Tatas developing ‘Blackberry’ for army
The $110-billion Tata group may shortly be ready with desi version of technology-rich Blackberry phones to handle security communication in Indian defence forces.

Tata Power’s strategic engineering division (SED) is working on a highly-secure android phone on a unique platform with versatile applications referred to as “desi Blackberry” internally. This is for exclusive use by three defence forces and security establishment.

Tata Power SED that’s involved in R&D of high-end technology products for the defence sector has roped in engineers from the IITs to solve technology puzzles in the process.

These “desi phones” with capability to handle highly encrypted coded conversations would be 100 per cent “made in India” without possible ‘malware from Chinese manufacturers’, a person clued into the development said without wanting to be identified in person.

He said, “If everything goes well, we would be able produce these high end phone instruments that could surpass the best in Blackberry range or the likes.”

These instruments would not be for commercial sale in the retail market, nor would they compete with any of the mobile handsets available in the country.

“These phones are being developed with a specific purpose and would exclusively cater to Indian defence forces,” the person said.

The mobile instruments would be part of the country’s tactical communications system (TCS) being put up across army, air force and navy apart from the central command for these forces to handle “highly secure communication that cannot be intercepted”.

Apart from Tata Power SED, state-owned defence PSU Bharat Electronics (BEL) and L&T are also reported to have been given the mandate to develop a large high security communications network with frontend “Blackberry-like” fancy features.

These phones being developed by Tata Power SED would be capable of operating on “frequency hopping spectrum spread over different bands” to ensure virtually uninterrupted communication. These phones will be deployed from battle formations to command structures as a new generation meshed network.

The network servers would themselves be based on lightweight high mobility vehicles that form nodes connected as a grid and carry the communication.

The secure phones will work on high bandwidth networks with voice, video, data, high capacity point-to-point radio backbone, point to multipoint wireless access at the user end, robust and survivable trunk and access radios. The communication can be scaled up based on bandwidth on dedicated satellites.

Phone instruments and the networks would be developed with inbuilt protection against cyber and electronic attacks using firewalls and frequency hopping spread spectrum techniques, the person quoted earlier said.

The handset will bring in new technology for encryption – euphemism for coded conversations and data transfers — besides multilevel network security, real time management of spectrum, integration with legacy systems and strategic networks, national defence communication systems and interoperability within the army and other services during joint operations; light weight user terminal with integration in operating information systems.

While the source of this report was unwilling to divulge the cost of the project, he said 80 per cent of the development cost would be borne by the government, while 20 per cent would have to be invested by private companies like Tata Power SED.

Warfighter information network in the US and Falcon trunk communication programme in the British army seem to have provided useful insights for this project.
Two Years On, Army Still Probing its Men

The Indian Army keeps fighting itself as the internal campaign against Technical Services Division intelligence operatives continues. At the top of the hit list of five officers from the TSD is the unit’s chief Colonel Hunny Bakshi, an intelligence corps officer considered a legend among his peers for his deep penetration network and counter intelligence skills. The Army could soon initiate court martial proceedings against Bakshi, who is now on “punishment posting” in the inconsequential Bangalore Sub-Area of the Army since December 2012.

The case relates to the arrest of the TSD’s head clerk Shivadasan on April 2012 in Kochi, caught when he was allegedly receiving a part payment in return for allegedly providing ISI classified information. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which laid the “trap” to nab Shivadasan, had claimed the head clerk had demanded `1 crore from his ISI handler for handing over “information” on troop deployments and had sought an advance of `60 lakh. Sleuths from DRI claimed they had “trapped” the head clerk when he was about to hand over a compact disk, pen drive and documents holding sensitive information.

Though the arrest happened when General V K Singh—under whose tenure the TSD was set up in the aftermath of the 26/11 terror attacks—was still the army chief, the case gained traction only after his retirement in May 2012. In June 2012, a few days after General Bikram Singh succeeded him as Army chief, the details of the “trap” were leaked to the media.

 Ahead of the leak, TSD had maintained that the head clerk was only a bait to get to ISI operatives working against India through contacts in Dubai and it was part of a larger counter-espionage game. In November 2012, the DRI handed over its case to the Army, which ordered a Court of Inquiry into the DRI “trap”. Apart from the head clerk, the inquiry also examined Bakshi and his role in the episode. Following the inquiry, the Army had carried out Summary of Evidence (SoE)—the process for preparing a chargesheet—in the case. The Army transferred Sivadasan’s custody to a unit, headed by present Army vice chief Dalbir Singh’s younger brother Col. Dharmbir Singh. He now awaits court martial, in which Bakshi too may be tried, sources said. This move comes after the head clerk had been attached to the unit for over 20 months without even a chargesheet. It was only after he moved the Armed Forces Tribunal for bail that the Army filed a tentative chargesheet against him, sources said.

Meanwhile, Bakshi put in his application for premature retirement on January 8, 2014. But, just three weeks later, he withdrew it and decided to continue in service after his seniors communicated that he would face “disciplinary action” in the case.

Action is yet to be taken on the Board of Officers’ report of 2013 on TSD in which, too, Bakshi’s name figures. The report suggested TSD paid off some Kashmir politicians to bring down the Omar Abdullah government, apart from paying a Kashmir NGO to file a court case against Bikram Singh in a fake encounter case. The TSD had been disbanded in mid-2013 after Gen Bikram Singh took over.
Live drills of BrahMos supersonic fitted to Sukhoi by year-end
The BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited, the joint venture between India's Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia's Federal State Unitary Enterprise NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM), is expecting the live flight test of BrahMos supersonic missile attached on Sukhoi flights by the end of 2014, said A Sivathanupillai, founder, CEO and Managing Director of the JV company.

Speaking to reporters in the sidelines of Kurukshetra 2014, an international techno-management fest organised by College of Engineering, Guindy in Anna University, he said, "We are in a stage now to do the integrated test, which will take some time. We are planning the live flight test from the Sukhoi by the end of the year 2014."

Integrating the supersonic missile with Sukhoi requires about $50 million. Engine modifications and so many works are given to the Russians. As per the agreement, out of the $50 million investment, $25 million is funded by the Russian partner. The total investment into the JV is around $300 million while the business, which is the production based on order,is $6 billion, he said.

The company had to reduce the weight of the missile and make some changes to use it in Sukhoi. The changes had to be made since unlike launching from the land, it is launch from a moving platform.

"We needed certain modifications. All modifications have been done and missile is ready for flight test. But we need to modify the Sukhoi itself – structurally, to hold this heavy missile. That has been completed and the design has been validated through various tests," he added.

The missile, launcher and modifications are ready and a wind-tunnel test was successfully conducted at National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) to see whether the seperation from the flight is smooth and clean. The modifications were done by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). It may be noted that the company has received around Rs 25,000 crore worth of orders from the Army and Indian Navy.

"Launching from the air is a big capability, because it is a moving platform. Today there is no such weapon available in the world. It becomes very important weapon for our forces," he said. "Indian Army is the only land force in the whole world, to have a supersonic cruise missile for land attack. Similarly Indian Air Force will be the only Air Force to have an air launched supersonic cruise missile which can target land and sea," he added.

He added that it is a mandate that the company have to export at the right time and the time to start exports depends upon the strategy decision of the government. Currently the country's interest is to equip the Indian armed force.

"Initially we didn’t understand the high potential of the system. Today all countries want this missile. We have become first in the world. First we should use it for our own people," he said. While it is currently producing based on orders, it can increase the production. Around 205 industrial units are working with the company and investing into manufacturing components.

Elaborating on the plans to develop hypersonic version of the missile, BrahMos II, he said that BrahMos would require a very big technology named Scramjet, and it is expecting that it would take five years to develop the technology.

The propulsion system Scramjet is a Supersonic Combustion Ramjet, in which the oxygen for the engine to combust would be taken from the air passing through the vehicle, instead of from a tank onboard.

According to US space research agency NASA, researchers predict scramjet speeds could reach 15 times the speed of sound, which makes an 18-hour trip to Tokyo from New York City reduced to a 2-hour flight. BrahMos has to bring in new materials for the hypersonic version, because the

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