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Sunday, 2 March 2014

From Today's Papers - 02 Mar 2014



























http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140302/nation.htm#1
 Ex-Army Chief VK Singh joins BJP
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 1
Former Army Chief General VK Singh, who was engaged in a bitter battle with the Congress-led government over his age, today made a formal entry into politics. He finally joined the BJP — along with a number of ex-servicemen from the Army, Navy and the Air Force — in the presence of party President Rajnath Singh.

“I saw the BJP as nationalist party,” the former Army Chief said, explaining his reason for joining the saffron party. “We, who have served on the borders, decided to work with nationalist forces. So we have decided to join the BJP to bring a government which is stable, strong and is able to take decisions in national interest,” he said amid cheers and slogans proclaiming him as “Defence Minister”.

VK Singh was the first serving military chief to drag the government to court and now becomes one of the few top-ranking officers to turn into a politician. Though he was seen sharing the dais with BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi at Rewari, he had so far been ruling out joining the political party, saying that he was firmly behind activist Anna Hazare in his crusade against corruption.

Sources say that Anna may be seen canvassing for the BJP now that the General has formally joined the saffron party.

VK Singh may be fielded from Rajasthan -- the state he was born in. Two seats are being considered, one being Jhunjhunu. However, his known critic Lt-Gen Raj Kadyan (retd) is the AAP candidate from there. Sources say the BJP is considering a “safer seat” in Rajasthan though the option of Bhiwani is also an option. He comes from the Bapora village in the district.

Being a Rajput, he will find support in Rajasthan and adjoining areas. Among the constituencies in Haryana adjoining Rajasthan is Mahendergarh — a seat which is likely to be contested by Sudha Yadav.


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140302/nation.htm#4
 Rajnath woos ex-servicemen with welfare panel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 1
BJP president Rajnath Singh today promised to take care of the Armed Forces personnel and ex-servicemen by assuring an ex-servicemen welfare commission. Citing recent mishaps involving the Navy, he charged the Congress-led UPA with not paying attention to military modernisation.

“It is a shame that brave men have to die in such accidents,” he said, referring to the recent submarine accident.

He welcomed former Army Chief VK Singh and other senior retired officers into the party fold and attacked the government over ceasefire violations by Pakistan, including the beheading of two Indian soldiers and intrusions by China.

“The country needs a strong government with Narendra Modi at the helm to ensure that no one can mess with the country,” he said.

He said the Congress-led coalition had not looked after the Armed Forces and its personnel. He stressed the need for indigenous production of weapons.

The BJP chief questioned the government over the timing of the “one-rank, one-pension” decision, saying it came too late clearly with an eye on the upcoming elections.

He claimed that the BJP had been in favour of the decision and had raised the issue in Parliament several times.

Rajnath Singh also promised a war memorial. Those who joined today included Lt General P Chaudhary, Lt General AK Chopra, AVM Bordoloi and Commodore Awasthi.


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140302/edit.htm#2
Time ripe for action against militants in Pakistan
Nasim Zehra

Militant violence has increasingly alienated their supporters and even the fence-sitters. When militants kill polio workers and declare polio drops un-Islamic, sympathy for them starts waning.
"You hit us once and we will hit you twice. That’s what people like in my area. They say Nawaz Sharif is doing the right thing now," explains Adil, the man who lives in Bhara Khau on the outskirts of Islamabad.

Adil had been in awe of Lal Masjid’s prayer leader Abdul Aziz Sahib, who is now in the Taliban team nominated for negotiations with the government. Adil had rejoiced the return of Lal Masjid to Aziz and helped them repaint the mosque. He would also bring the weekly Taliban supported newspaper from Rawalpindi. Adil vocally supported its editorial thrust on how Pakistani society must be "cleansed of all evil". Often he would recall its stories about Taliban providing prompt justice to the corrupt and the immoral in society. When all else did not work the way Adil — from the less advantaged segment of Pakistani society — wanted, the Taliban panacea was attractive.
And so a narrative was born. The killing machines of the militants found greater resonance in the hearts of the poor than the state machinery’s constitutionally approved killing machines. It began some decades ago with the Afghan jihad in the ’80s bankrolled by global powers.

But in recent weeks much appears to have changed. Millions of Pakistan’s Adils are now watching with shock the videos of beheaded soldiers, paramilitary and the police. Deadly bomb blasts are routine and so are the militants’ messages taking responsibility. Their justification for turning Pakistan into an expanding killing field ranges from wanting to impose "real Sharia", extricating Pakistan from a US war, to asking for an end to drones.

What may have appealed to many, including some of the political leaders, is now cutting almost no ice. Now the loudest voices are of those who are opposing militants and demanding use of force against militants who don’t surrender unconditionally. The young PPP chairman, Bilalwal Bhutto, wants no talks with the ones of a beastly character. "They want Islam promoted from the seas of blood that their terrorism is creating in Pakistan," Bilawal thunders. When he seeks a peaceful Islam that has been Pakistan’s pre-Eighties legacy, even non-PPP supporters sit up, listen and nod in agreement.

Militant violence has increasingly alienated their supporters and even the fence-sitters. When militants kill polio workers and declare polio drops un-Islamic, sympathy for them starts waning. Many of the militants have publicly trashed the Constitution and talked of forcing their own version of Sharia. This combined with the gross beheading clips has given it the unlikely but powerful title of ‘pornography of death".

The stronger the militants’ actions against the people and the State, the greater the space for government action. Some has already begun. Air attacks in different regions of FATA, including in Mir Ali and Tirah Valley, are on. Often intelligence sharing between Pakistan and the US helps pinpoint militant hideouts.

The government is in no hurry to launch a quick operation but clearly that is what the signs are. Regular meetings are now held between the President, Prime Minister, Interior Minister, army chief and the ISI chief to devise plans for a ground offensive. The Prime Minister has called a meeting of the four chief ministers to discuss timings, impact and blowback.

Humanitarian problems are emerging in the form of displacement of local population. A similar ground and air operation against the militants in Swat — Operation Rah-i-Raast — was conducted in July 2009, which prompted 2.5 million local people to leave their homes. Similar dislocations will likely accompany news of military operations in North Waziristan, the preparations for which have been underway for the past two months.

The political leadership, which is also the army’s constitutional authority, is now almost all decided on the operation. They know that the Adils of Pakistan may now be far more receptive to such action, which needs the support of the people of Pakistan. How much support is generated will depend on how the government communicates its motives, plan and compulsions for the operation.

The message from the government still lacks clarity on the reasons for the operation. While the confusion over timing and the kind of action the Interior Minister is adept at creating may have a reason, the articulation of why an operation is required will brook no clumsy takes. The message has to be convincing. The narrative has to touch people’s hearts. As in other societies, with the many divides across class, religions, regions and parties, a less than convincing narrative can create resentment once the fallout of an operation hits the civilians.

In the coming days, better articulation is expected while the army prepares to put its best foot forward to clear the militant bases from where terrorist attacks have haunted million of Pakistan’s Adils and others.


http://www.coolage.in/2014/02/28/ins-sindhuratna-mishap-rotten-government-is-plaguing-indian-def/
INS Sindhuratna Mishap: Rotten Government is Plaguing Indian Defense Forces
Indian Navy's fortunes seem to be running precariously low. In last single year alone, our sea guardians have suffered momentous damage to their fleet, with as many as 10 serious accidents of inexplicable sabotage to Navy's refurbished vessels. Wednesday brought some more terrible tidings for Indian Sea forces as another submarine malfunctioned, causing grievous damage to the sailors on board.

INS Sindhuratna, the Russian-origin kilo Class submarine, is the latest Indian vessel to fall victim to a string of mishaps plaguing the Men in Blue. The submarine was undergoing sea trial after a six-month refurbishment in Mumbai when a leakage in the battery compartment of the vessel led to fire onboard. The smoke was so intense that seven sailors passed out instantly from suffocation and had to be airlifted to a Navy Hospital. However, lieutenant commander Kapil Muwal and lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar, both from electric section, lost their lives.

This is the 10th mishap involving a Naval warship in last 7 months. Navy's woes began last year with INS Sindhurakshak, a Sindhugosh class conventionally powered submarine, which sank in the Mumbai harbor after an explosion, killing all18 sailors onboard. It was the worst tragedy in the history of Indian sea forces. The cause of explosion, despite investigation, remains unknown.

On Dec 4, 2013, INS Konkan caught fire at the naval dockyard in Visakhapatnam. A fortnight later, INS Talwar rammed into a trawler. January this year, INS Betwa ran aground, sustaining serious damage to its critical equipment. In the same month again, two more accidents were reported, casting aspersion over the worthiness of Navy's fleet.

What is of utmost significance in these spate of disasters suffered by Indian naval forces is the fact that the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak last year in August and now fire onboard INS Sindhuratna happened within months of both the vessels undergoing refits. In the former case, the submarine blew up and submerged in six months of receiving highly-financed upgradation.

A whooping 815 crores were spent on sprucing up the war vessel, but it all went up in flames on Aug 14, 2013 when the powerful submarine turned into ashes. The fact-finding inquiry into the cause of explosion came a cropper as the investigators couldn't zero in on what triggered the blasting of the submarine. The failure of investigating team to pinpoint the reason behind the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak did not go down well with a parliamentary panel, which raised serious and valid question of how could a recently refurbished vessel can go up in flames in just six months of it getting spruced up.

It's the same story with the latest accident involving INS Sindhuratna. The submarine was renovated and underwent extensive repairs in December last year. In other words, it's hardly been a couple of months since its overhaul but the vessel has already become dodgy, showing glaring gaps in its operational capacity and raising serious questions over its fitness to safeguard India's interest.

What is more worrisome is that all these mishaps have exposed the chinks in India's security armor. Our naval forces' fighting capability has taken a nasty hit in last one year alone. Currently India operates 12 submarines, however, by 2015, half of these war vessels will be phased out, leaving India with a skimpy fleet of 5 or 6 submarines. In other words, in a couple of years this shrinkage of our naval fleet will eliminate India' strategic advantage, whatever little there is, over Pakistani naval force as both countries will have equal number of submarines by 2015.

If this is bad news, terrible is yet to come if we draw a comparison with Chinese marine strength. China already has an impressive tally of around 50 powerful submarines at its disposal. India, on the other hand, as we know, is nowhere in the picture to match this mighty seafaring army. This fact bears testimony to the present day reality that how massively China has modernized its naval forces, whereas Indian Navy has been plummeting to new lows every passing day, thanks to inept and indifferent political dispensation.

The failure to modernize and equip our armed and sea forces with latest technology is at the heart of these recurrent disasters which are plaguing both Indian navy as well the army. Paucity of funds, dependence on foreign suppliers, inordinate delays in procuring parts for overhaul, apathetic Congress and a slack Defence minister have together made sure that guardians of our territory remain most backward.

"If our submarine are going up in flames every now and then, Indian Air forces' aging MiG and Sukhoi are going down more often than is heard of in other nations," said Ratnakar Kumar, a student at DU. Now the failure of defence ministry to seal Rafale Fighter deal has added to Indian Air Force's troubles.

The situation is indeed precarious for our security forces that are expected to guard the nation at all times, but little thought is given to the fact that defending a country' frontiers is easier said done. Our men on the ground need best and cutting-edge technology to counter the rising threat of terrorism, sea-pirates and other contraband activities, however, Indian government treats such critical matters way too lightly and is busy appeasing minorities to garner votes in the upcoming Lokshabha elections.

Navy Chief, in a rare show of moral courage and assuming responsibility for the naval mishaps, has resigned from his position. But it's not him who should have got the marching orders; the real culprit is Sonia's government and her party members who are corrupting the nation. Manmohan Singh is better off silent; AK Antony, thanks to scatterbrained Indian public, need not explain the matters, but the real tragedy is our guys on the ground are dying without cause and reason.
Indian Navy's fortunes seem to be running precariously low. In last single year alone, our sea guardians have suffered momentous damage to their fleet, with as many as 10 serious accidents of inexplicable sabotage to Navy's refurbished vessels. Wednesday brought some more terrible tidings for Indian Sea forces as another submarine malfunctioned, causing grievous damage to the sailors on board.

INS Sindhuratna, the Russian-origin kilo Class submarine, is the latest Indian vessel to fall victim to a string of mishaps plaguing the Men in Blue. The submarine was undergoing sea trial after a six-month refurbishment in Mumbai when a leakage in the battery compartment of the vessel led to fire onboard. The smoke was so intense that seven sailors passed out instantly from suffocation and had to be airlifted to a Navy Hospital. However, lieutenant commander Kapil Muwal and lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar, both from electric section, lost their lives.

This is the 10th mishap involving a Naval warship in last 7 months. Navy's woes began last year with INS Sindhurakshak, a Sindhugosh class conventionally powered submarine, which sank in the Mumbai harbor after an explosion, killing all18 sailors onboard. It was the worst tragedy in the history of Indian sea forces. The cause of explosion, despite investigation, remains unknown.

On Dec 4, 2013, INS Konkan caught fire at the naval dockyard in Visakhapatnam. A fortnight later, INS Talwar rammed into a trawler. January this year, INS Betwa ran aground, sustaining serious damage to its critical equipment. In the same month again, two more accidents were reported, casting aspersion over the worthiness of Navy's fleet.

What is of utmost significance in these spate of disasters suffered by Indian naval forces is the fact that the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak last year in August and now fire onboard INS Sindhuratna happened within months of both the vessels undergoing refits. In the former case, the submarine blew up and submerged in six months of receiving highly-financed upgradation.

A whooping 815 crores were spent on sprucing up the war vessel, but it all went up in flames on Aug 14, 2013 when the powerful submarine turned into ashes. The fact-finding inquiry into the cause of explosion came a cropper as the investigators couldn't zero in on what triggered the blasting of the submarine. The failure of investigating team to pinpoint the reason behind the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak did not go down well with a parliamentary panel, which raised serious and valid question of how could a recently refurbished vessel can go up in flames in just six months of it getting spruced up.

It's the same story with the latest accident involving INS Sindhuratna. The submarine was renovated and underwent extensive repairs in December last year. In other words, it's hardly been a couple of months since its overhaul but the vessel has already become dodgy, showing glaring gaps in its operational capacity and raising serious questions over its fitness to safeguard India's interest.

What is more worrisome is that all these mishaps have exposed the chinks in India's security armor. Our naval forces' fighting capability has taken a nasty hit in last one year alone. Currently India operates 12 submarines, however, by 2015, half of these war vessels will be phased out, leaving India with a skimpy fleet of 5 or 6 submarines. In other words, in a couple of years this shrinkage of our naval fleet will eliminate India' strategic advantage, whatever little there is, over Pakistani naval force as both countries will have equal number of submarines by 2015.

If this is bad news, terrible is yet to come if we draw a comparison with Chinese marine strength. China already has an impressive tally of around 50 powerful submarines at its disposal. India, on the other hand, as we know, is nowhere in the picture to match this mighty seafaring army. This fact bears testimony to the present day reality that how massively China has modernized its naval forces, whereas Indian Navy has been plummeting to new lows every passing day, thanks to inept and indifferent political dispensation.

The failure to modernize and equip our armed and sea forces with latest technology is at the heart of these recurrent disasters which are plaguing both Indian navy as well the army. Paucity of funds, dependence on foreign suppliers, inordinate delays in procuring parts for overhaul, apathetic Congress and a slack Defence minister have together made sure that guardians of our territory remain most backward.

"If our submarine are going up in flames every now and then, Indian Air forces' aging MiG and Sukhoi are going down more often than is heard of in other nations," said Ratnakar Kumar, a student at DU. Now the failure of defence ministry to seal Rafale Fighter deal has added to Indian Air Force's troubles.

The situation is indeed precarious for our security forces that are expected to guard the nation at all times, but little thought is given to the fact that defending a country' frontiers is easier said done. Our men on the ground need best and cutting-edge technology to counter the rising threat of terrorism, sea-pirates and other contraband activities, however, Indian government treats such critical matters way too lightly and is busy appeasing minorities to garner votes in the upcoming Lokshabha elections.

Navy Chief, in a rare show of moral courage and assuming responsibility for the naval mishaps, has resigned from his position. But it's not him who should have got the marching orders; the real culprit is Sonia's government and her party members who are corrupting the nation. Manmohan Singh is better off silent; AK Antony, thanks to scatterbrained Indian public, need not explain the matters, but the real tragedy is our guys on the ground are dying without cause and reason.
Indian Navy's fortunes seem to be running precariously low. In last single year alone, our sea guardians have suffered momentous damage to their fleet, with as many as 10 serious accidents of inexplicable sabotage to Navy's refurbished vessels. Wednesday brought some more terrible tidings for Indian Sea forces as another submarine malfunctioned, causing grievous damage to the sailors on board.

INS Sindhuratna, the Russian-origin kilo Class submarine, is the latest Indian vessel to fall victim to a string of mishaps plaguing the Men in Blue. The submarine was undergoing sea trial after a six-month refurbishment in Mumbai when a leakage in the battery compartment of the vessel led to fire onboard. The smoke was so intense that seven sailors passed out instantly from suffocation and had to be airlifted to a Navy Hospital. However, lieutenant commander Kapil Muwal and lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar, both from electric section, lost their lives.

This is the 10th mishap involving a Naval warship in last 7 months. Navy's woes began last year with INS Sindhurakshak, a Sindhugosh class conventionally powered submarine, which sank in the Mumbai harbor after an explosion, killing all18 sailors onboard. It was the worst tragedy in the history of Indian sea forces. The cause of explosion, despite investigation, remains unknown.

On Dec 4, 2013, INS Konkan caught fire at the naval dockyard in Visakhapatnam. A fortnight later, INS Talwar rammed into a trawler. January this year, INS Betwa ran aground, sustaining serious damage to its critical equipment. In the same month again, two more accidents were reported, casting aspersion over the worthiness of Navy's fleet.

What is of utmost significance in these spate of disasters suffered by Indian naval forces is the fact that the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak last year in August and now fire onboard INS Sindhuratna happened within months of both the vessels undergoing refits. In the former case, the submarine blew up and submerged in six months of receiving highly-financed upgradation.

A whooping 815 crores were spent on sprucing up the war vessel, but it all went up in flames on Aug 14, 2013 when the powerful submarine turned into ashes. The fact-finding inquiry into the cause of explosion came a cropper as the investigators couldn't zero in on what triggered the blasting of the submarine. The failure of investigating team to pinpoint the reason behind the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak did not go down well with a parliamentary panel, which raised serious and valid question of how could a recently refurbished vessel can go up in flames in just six months of it getting spruced up.

It's the same story with the latest accident involving INS Sindhuratna. The submarine was renovated and underwent extensive repairs in December last year. In other words, it's hardly been a couple of months since its overhaul but the vessel has already become dodgy, showing glaring gaps in its operational capacity and raising serious questions over its fitness to safeguard India's interest.

What is more worrisome is that all these mishaps have exposed the chinks in India's security armor. Our naval forces' fighting capability has taken a nasty hit in last one year alone. Currently India operates 12 submarines, however, by 2015, half of these war vessels will be phased out, leaving India with a skimpy fleet of 5 or 6 submarines. In other words, in a couple of years this shrinkage of our naval fleet will eliminate India' strategic advantage, whatever little there is, over Pakistani naval force as both countries will have equal number of submarines by 2015.

If this is bad news, terrible is yet to come if we draw a comparison with Chinese marine strength. China already has an impressive tally of around 50 powerful submarines at its disposal. India, on the other hand, as we know, is nowhere in the picture to match this mighty seafaring army. This fact bears testimony to the present day reality that how massively China has modernized its naval forces, whereas Indian Navy has been plummeting to new lows every passing day, thanks to inept and indifferent political dispensation.

The failure to modernize and equip our armed and sea forces with latest technology is at the heart of these recurrent disasters which are plaguing both Indian navy as well the army. Paucity of funds, dependence on foreign suppliers, inordinate delays in procuring parts for overhaul, apathetic Congress and a slack Defence minister have together made sure that guardians of our territory remain most backward.

"If our submarine are going up in flames every now and then, Indian Air forces' aging MiG and Sukhoi are going down more often than is heard of in other nations," said Ratnakar Kumar, a student at DU. Now the failure of defence ministry to seal Rafale Fighter deal has added to Indian Air Force's troubles.

The situation is indeed precarious for our security forces that are expected to guard the nation at all times, but little thought is given to the fact that defending a country' frontiers is easier said done. Our men on the ground need best and cutting-edge technology to counter the rising threat of terrorism, sea-pirates and other contraband activities, however, Indian government treats such critical matters way too lightly and is busy appeasing minorities to garner votes in the upcoming Lokshabha elections.

Navy Chief, in a rare show of moral courage and assuming responsibility for the naval mishaps, has resigned from his position. But it's not him who should have got the marching orders; the real culprit is Sonia's government and her party members who are corrupting the nation. Manmohan Singh is better off silent; AK Antony, thanks to scatterbrained Indian public, need not explain the matters, but the real tragedy is our guys on the ground are dying without cause and reason.


http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/IndiasInterimDefenceBudget2014-15_lkbehera_230214
India’s Interim Defence Budget 2014-15: An Appraisal
Laxman K Behera

February 23, 2014

On February 17, 2014, the Finance Minister while presenting the Interim Union Budget 2014-15 to the Parliament, allocated Rs 2,24,000 crore (US$ 37.15 billion as per the prevailing average exchange rate) for the national defence. The interim defence allocation, which represents a 9.98 per cent increase over the 2013-14 defence budget is exclusive of Rs 53,582.15 crore for defence pension that includes Rs 500 crore on account of the government’s acceptance of the armed forces’ long-standing demand for One Rank One Pension (OROP) principle. Although the interim budget is relevant till the new government presents a regular budget after the 2014 general elections, it nonetheless sets a broad roadmap for various ministries and departments. Defence being a major charge on the central government budget, it is worthwhile to look at the interim allocation that impinges on the modernization and other needs of the Indian armed forces.
Interim Budget: Growth Factors and Key Elements

It is noteworthy that the 10 per cent hike in the interim defence budget is with respect to both budget estimate and revised estimate of 2013-14 allocation. In other words, there has been no upward or downward revision of the defence allocations provided in the previous budget. With the overall 2013-14 allocation remaining same, the capital expenditure has, however, been revised downward by 9.07 per cent or Rs.7868.48 crore, which has been added to the revenue expenditure. Around 46 per cent of upward revision of the revenue expenditure has been necessitated due to the increase in pay and allowances of the three armed forces.

The increase in the pay and allowances is also the main reason for bulk of the hike in the interim defence allocations. Suffice to mention that in the new budget, 48 per cent of the total increase is accounted for by the hike in armed forces salary component. Compared to this, the capital expenditure, which mainly caters to the modernisation requirement of the armed forces, has contributed to only 14 per cent of the total hike.

Table-1 below provides a comparative overview of the key elements of the interim defence budget 2014-15 and the defence budget of 2013-14. Among others, it brings out clearly that although the growth of the interim budget is higher than that of the previous year’s budget, the growth, as mentioned earlier, is consumed by swelling revenue expenditure. Consequently, the capital expenditure, its growth and its share in total defence budget cut an unimpressive outlook. An interesting aspect of the table is that the share of defence in GDP and total Central Government Expenditure (CGE) has moved on opposite direction. It is largely due to the difference in the growth projection of these two parameters. While the nominal GDP is assumed to grow by 13.4 per cent in 2014-15, the CGE is estimated to grow by 5.9 per cent.

Table 1: Comparative Statistics of Defence Budget: 2013-14 & 2014-15 (Interim)
            2013-14           2014-15 (I)
Defence Budget (Rs in Crore)            203672.12       224000.00
Growth of Defence Budget (%)          5.31     9.98
Revenue Expenditure (Rs in Crore)   116931.41       134412.05
Growth of Revenue Expenditure (%)             2.73     14.95
Share of Revenue Expenditure in Defence Budget (%)        57.41   60.01
Capital Expenditure (Rs in Crore)      86740.71         89587.95
Growth of Capital Expenditure (%)     9.00     3.28
Share of Capital Expenditure in Defence Budget (%)            42.59   39.99
Capital Acquisition (Rs in Crore)        73444.59         75779.66*
Growth of Capital Acquisition (%)      11.23   3.18*
Share of Defence Budget in GDP (%)           1.80     1.74
Share of Defence Budget in Central Government Expenditure (%) 12.23   12.70

Note: *: approximate figure. Rs 1.0 crore = Rs 10 million = US$ 165,852 (as per the average exchange rate for the first 10 months of 2013-14)
Interim Defence Budget: Share of Defence Services

Among the defence services, the Army with an approximate budget of Rs. 1,18,231 crore accounts for 53 per cent of the total interim defence budget, followed by the Air Force (Rs 54,262 crore; 24 per cent), Navy (Rs 37,627 crore; 17 per cent), the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) (Rs 11,960 crore, five per cent) and the Ordnance Factories (Rs 1,873 crore; one per cent) Among the three armed forces, Army has the highest (19 per cent) increase in the budget. While the Navy’s budget has been increase by a modest 3.5 per cent, the Air Force’s budget has been contracted by a 5.6 per cent. The DRDO on the other hand has got a 13 per cent hike in its budget.
Impact on Modernisation

The 10 per cent hike in the overall defence allocation notwithstanding, there has only been a marginal increase in the capital acquisition budget of the armed forces (Table II-V). Of the three armed forces, the Army is only service which has got an impressive hike in its modernisation budget. Much of its growth is however concentrated on ‘Other Equipment’ which caters to missiles and artillery guns among other. This may provide a cushion to the Army to finally sign to pursue its long-delayed procurement deals of ultra-light howitzer, Javelin anti-tank guided missile and night vision equipment.

Compared to the Army, both the Navy and the Air Force have witnessed a decline in the capital acquisition budget, with the latter bearing a heavy brunt. The sharp decline of the air forces modernisation budget, especially from the ‘Aircraft and Aero Engines’ head is surprising, given that it is on the verge of signing several multi-billion dollar deals including for medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) programme for which French Rafale has been declared winner way back in January 2012. Given that its budget has been reduced sharply, it is very unlikely that the Air Force could sign this much talked about fighter deal in 2014-15. Some of Air Force’s other programmes which are likely to be affected include the multi-role tanker aircraft and heavy and attack helicopters.

Table 2: Capital Acquisition
Armed Force   BE 2013-14 (Rs in Cr)            RE 2013-14 (Rs in Cr)            Under/over Spending (Rs in Cr)             Under/over Spending (%)       Interim 2014-15 (Rs in Cr)      % Growth of Interim 2014-15 over BE 2013-14
Army   13327.04         10801.22         2525.82           18.95   20900.20         56.83
Navy   23478.78         19864.31         3614.47           15.39   23020.86         -1.95
Air Force         37048.06         36016.54         1031.52           2.78     31817.89         -14.12
Total    73853.88         66682.07         7171.81           9.71     75738.95         2.55

Notes: The Capital acquisition figure is approximate and exclusive of funds for ‘Make’ projects in columns 4 and 5, plus figures denote under-utilization and minus figures over-utilization

Table 3: Army Capital Acquisition
            2013-14 (BE) (Rs in Cr)         2013-14 (RE) (Rs in Cr)         2014-15 (I) (Rs in Cr)             % Growth of 2014-15 (I) over 2013-14 (BE)
Aircraft & Aero-Engine            1527.79           1182.32           2127.99           39.29
H&MV             2024.37           1480.94           2128.16           5.13
Other Equipment        9758.86           7889.47           16155.93         65.55
Rolling Stock   0          81.5     275.07              
Rashtriya Rifles          16.02   166.99             213.05             1229.90
Total Acquisition Expenditure Acq Exp          13327.04         10801.22         20900.2           56.83

Table 4: Navy Capital Acquisition
            2013-14 (BE) (Rs in Cr)         2013-14 (RE) (Rs in Cr)         2014-15 (I) (Rs in Cr)             % Growth of 2014-15 (I) over 2013-14 (BE)
Aircraft & Aero-Engine            6708.71           7418.40           3330.69           -50.35
H&MV             53.74   3.90     34.27   -36.23
Other Equipment        2192.82           2514.87           4358.10           98.74
Joint Staff        740.08             619.27             828.87             12.00
Naval Fleet      11772.26         8757.87           12856.06         9.21
Naval Dockyard          2011.17           550.00             1612.87           -19.80
Total Acquisition Expenditure             23478.78         19864.31         23020.86         -1.95

Table 5: Air Force Acquisition
            2013-14 (BE) (Rs in Cr)         2013-14 (RE) (Rs in Cr)         2014-15 (I) (Rs in Cr)             % Growth of 2014-15 (I) over 2013-14 (BE)
Aircraft & Aero-Engine            25539.59         28588.85         16271.43         -36.29
H&MV             2.82     36.14   194.29             6789.72
Other Equipment        11505.65         7391.55           15352.17         33.43
Total Acquisition Expenditure             37048.06         36016.54         31817.89         -14.12
Funds for ‘Make’ Projects

The interim defence budget has made a provision of Rs 35.7 crore for prototype development under the ‘Make’ procedure. The interim budget also shows an upward revision of 2013-14 allocation for ‘Make’ projects from Rs one crore to Rs 29.34 core. The higher allocation for Make projects notwithstanding, it is not clear as to what projects the funds are allocated for. The much talked about ‘Make’ projects - Tactical Communication System (TCS) and Future Infantry Combat System (FICV) - which were under the discussion for long time are now virtually in limbo, due to the indecisive on the part of the defence ministry and the complexity of the procedures. More importantly, the MoD is currently engaged in simplifying its ‘Make’ procedure, the implementation of which is unlikely to happen in 2014-15. Given this, the allocation under the ‘Make’ head seems to be unrealistic.
Conclusion

The 10 per cent growth in the interim defence budget although looks impressive from outside, it has a poor outlook on the modernisation front. Much of the hike in the interim budget is consumed by the increase in salary, leaving very little to meet the modernisation requirements, particularly of the Indian Air Force which has lined up several deals for contract signing. From a long term perspective what is of more relevance is that given the continuous steep rise in the pay and allowances of the 1.4 million strong Indian armed forces, the pressure on modernisation would be felt more acutely in the coming years. This is more so, given the given the prevailing poor economic outlook, increasing subsidy bill, growing demand from social sector on union budget, and limited fiscal space available with the government.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Headquarters-Bengal-Area-steps-into-its-120th-year-of-existence/articleshow/31228554.cms
Headquarters Bengal Area steps into its 120th year of existence
 KOLKATA: The Headquarters Bengal Area (HQ BA), one of the oldest static formations of the Indian Army in this region, which is entrusted with the defence of the narrow but extremely sensitive Siliguri corridor that connects the northeast with the rest of the country, stepped into its 120th year of existence on Saturday. Over the years, with more attention being paid to China's military build-up across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the role of the HQ BA has gone up manifold.

On Saturday, Lt Gen Raman Dhawan, General Officer Commanding, Bengal Area addressed all ranks in a special Sainik Sammelan and conveyed his greetings to them and their families.

Besides its operational war time role, HQ BA also supports the logistics requirements of fighting formations and units of Eastern Command in war and peace. As the 'Local Military Authority', it is also the link between the state government and the Army besides being the custodian of the Kolkata Maidan and all Army land in and around the city.

"The formation also provides assistance to civil authorities during calamities, natural or otherwise. In the past, the state government also called in the Army to quell violence in the city. In October, 2013, when a breach in an embankment of the Kansai River in East Midnapore displaced several thousand villagers, Army columns under HQ BA repaired the damage and provided assistance," an officer said.

With eyes on China, new units are being raised and stationed at locations like Panagarh, Murshidabad and parts of north Bengal. Apart from a Strike Corps and independent brigades headquartered at Panagarh, a Composite Air Base has been planned in north Bengal from where Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will monitor movement along the borders. As and when these developments take place, the HQ BA will play a greater role.

The HQ BA was raised as Bengal Command at Fort William on March 1, 1895, by Lt Gen Sir W K Ells. It moved to its present location at 246, AJC Bose Road in September, 1995. The Bengal Area participated with distinction in World War II and the 1962 and 1971 operations.



http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/HC-stays-Armys-curbs-on-roads/articleshow/31189088.cms
HC stays Army's curbs on roads
HYDERABAD: In a huge relief to thousands of road-users in the Secunderabad Cantonment, Justice P Naveen Rao of the high court on Friday directed the Union cabinet secretary and the commanding officer of the defence wing not to impose any restrictions on movement of traffic and commuters on five major roads passing through the Cantonment area till March 6.

The judge made the interim order while hearing two writ petitions that challenged the decision of the Army authorities in blocking the roads from February 25. The roads that were blocked by Army are the ones from S P Road/East Marredpally towards Allahabad Gate (Entrancement Road), from Secunderabad Club, Picket/West Marredpally towards Wellington Enclave (Wellington Road), from Safilguda junction towards Safilguda railway crossing (Ordnance road) and Trimulgherry Hanuman temple to Gough Road (Mornington Road ) and Kendriya Vidyalaya crossing to East/West Marredpally (Gough Road).

B Krishna Vijay Rao and G Surya Narayana Reddy, residents of Secunderabad, filed separate writ petitions aggrieved by the action of the Army authorities who closed the roads to the general public from 10 pm to 8 am from February 25 to March 9 and completely (day and night) from March 10.

The petitioners contended that there was no provision under the Cantonment Act to close the roads permanently, except to close temporarily for the purpose of carrying out works relating to drainage, water supply or lightening or any other work as per Section 258 of the Act. They urged the court to declare the action of the authorities illegal.

While making the interim order, the judge issued notices to the respondents to file their counter affidavits and posted the case to March 6 for further hearing.


http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-thousands-protest-against-ak-antony-in-amritsar-over-spate-of-submarine-accidents-1965835
Thousands protest against AK Antony in Amritsar over spate of submarine accidents
Thousands took to streets in Amritsar on Friday protesting against Defence Minister A.K Antony over the spate of Submarine accidents hitting the country's naval forces-a threat looming large over 'India's military breakdown'.
            In recent years, military has been on the verge of breakdown, each military chief has informed Antony of the growing danger that the country might prove unable to fight future wars, said media sources.

The Navy is well below strength, and its increasingly obsolescent platforms are dangerous. Last year's explosion on board INS Sindhurakshak was one of the significant accidents involving the Navy in the last seven months, which had caused more damage to the fleet than it suffered at war.

Meanwhile, over 2000 protesters comprising of army officers and residents staged a protest outside Deputy Commisioner's office in Amritsar. The huge protest was lead by a former Army official Charan Singh Sidhu.

Protesters said they were irked over the policies and decisions taken by the Defence Minister regarding the safety of all the three forces-Navy, Army and Air force, which has led to a spate of disasters recently.

Protesters stressed that the resignation of the Naval Chief was not called for, as it was the responsibility of the defence minister to take steps to upgrade the naval fleet.

"The government forced naval chief D.K. Joshi to resign. We are holding a protest against this. We believe that instead of Joshi, Defence Minister A.K. Antony should have resigned for not making any contributions for the army in the past 35 years and is creating troubles for them instead", said a protester and a former Indian Army official Charan Singh Sidhu.

Irate protesters said they demand the resignation of the defence minister, and will stage demonstration until their demands were met.

"We will march to the Amar Jawan Jyoti, and will stage a demonstration until the seventh pay commission comes into force and A.K. Antony resigns for the post", said a protester and former Army official Charan Singh Sidhu.

The two officers went missing on duty on board when smoke filled parts of a Russian-built submarine on a training exercise off the Mumbai coast in the early hours of Wednesday.

Following this, navy chief, Admiral DK Joshi, has resigned after a submarine accident took place off the coast of Mumbai on Wednesday. The incident left seven sailors injured, while two went missing, which the Antony accepted.

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