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Friday, 14 March 2014

From Today's Papers - 14 Mar 2014

Maoist ambush: Three CRPF heroes cremated with honours
Tribune News Service
Nawanshahr, March 13
CRPF jawan Tilak Raj Singh (58), who was killed in a Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh, was cremated with full state honours at his native Bharoli village today.
CRPF DIG Sunil Thorpe, Nawanshahr ADC Amarjit Pal, SSP Dhanpreet Kaur, SDM Banga Arvind Kumar, DSP Hansraj and other officials attended the funeral.

His pyre was lit by his son Varinder Singh. The martyr, who had joined the paramilitary force after retiring as Subedar Major from the Army in 2007, had lost his wife in 2001 and was the sole breadwinner of the family. He is survived by two sons, both unemployed, and two daughters.

The kin of the jawan, who had fought in the Kargil war, sought financial help and a job for elder son. Sarpanch Gurbaksh Singh insisted that an announcement be made on the spot, but the ADC cited that the election code was in place. He, however, said the administration would help them prepare a case for getting help from the CRPF in accordance with the provisions.

Jind: The body of Subhash Chander Dalal was consigned to flames in his native village Nagura here on Thursday. Hundreds of residents of Nagura and other villages along with senior officers of the CRPF, civil administration, NGOs and ex-servicemen attended the funeral.

CRPF IG Suraj Bhan and Assistant Commanders Dilawar Singh and Raj Singh, Jind DSP Suresh Kumar, tehsildar Rajender Singh, INLD leader Surender singh Barwala, Congress leader Balram Katwal and other senior officers of civil administration attended the cremation.

“He has sacrificed his life for the country and we are proud of him,” said the deceaseds’ father, Maman Singh.

Subhash had shifted his all family to village two months ago and joined his duty on February 20. Before joining duty, he had engaged both his sons Viraaj and Deepak and had plans to come to village in November to marry his sons.

Jawali (Dharamsala): Lakhbir Singh, an ex-Army para-commando and a CRPF Havaldar, was was cremated with full state honours today. His body was brought to his native Buskwara village in Jawali block of Kangra district earlier in the day.

Deputy Commissioner Kangra Paul Rasu and Kangra SP Balbir Thakur paid tribute to the martyr on behalf of the state. Former Congress MP Chander Kumar and Minister for Agriculture Sujjan Singh Pathania also attended the cremation. A CRPF contingent and police personnel fired several rounds in the air as a mark of respect, as his son Robin lit the pyre. People from the area attended the last rites.

Lakhbir’s father Harman Singh said it was a difficult time for the family but he was proud of his son. “We have to support his son and daughter, who are still undergoing schooling,” he said.

Lakhbir had joined Army in 1987. He remained as a para-commando in Army. After his retirement three years ago, Lakhbir joined the CRPF as Havaldar. Lakhbir had talked to his family on Monday and talked of completing their incomplete house in the village.

Lakhbir is survived by his wife Laita, son Robin, daughter Archi.
Indian Army chief meets Nepal president, PM
The visiting Indian Army chief Gen. Bikram Singh Thursday called on Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala at their respective offices and discussed a wide range of issues, including defence cooperation between the two close neighbours.

Gen. Bikram Singh, who arrived in Kathmandu on a two-day official visit Thursday morning, also met his Nepali counterpart, Gen. Gaurav Sumsher Rana, according to the Nepal Army.

The visiting Indian Army chief held a meeting with Gen. Rana at Nepal Army headquarters where the two chiefs discussed the historic ties between the two armies, further strengthening of relations between the two armies and expansion of military cooperation, said a statement issued by the Nepal Army here.

Gen. Bikram Singh also paid a courtesy call on President Yadav and Prime Minister Koirala in the course of which strengthening of military ties and defence cooperation between the two countries were discussed.

On Friday, he will leave for Saljhandi in Rupandehi district of southern Nepal to observe the joint military exercise 'Surya Kiran-VI' between the two countries' armies and will leave for New Delhi the same day, according to the Nepal Army statement.

Such high-level visits from the neighbouring country contribute to mutual relations between the two countries and will deepen the ties between Nepal and India that have been existing since long, the Nepal Army statement said.
Army, Navy Set to Launch Malaysian Airliner Search

President Pranab Mukherjee has written to Malaysian King Abdul Halim Mu’adzam offering assistance in locating the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft MH370, even as the Indian Navy and Air Force were readying to launch a search on Thursday over the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, for which coordinates have been received from Kuala Lumpur.

Hours after the President got in touch with the Malaysian king, India allowed Malaysia to search for the missing aircraft in the airspace over Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

“The Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard are likely to join in the search operation for the missing aircraft. Andaman and Nicobar Command is on standby. Nod from the Ministry of Defence is awaited,” Col Harmeet Singh, Public Relations Officer of Andaman Nicobar Command, told Express.

Col Singh said Australia and New Zealand are also likely to be permitted to conduct a search over the Andaman Sea. “Malaysia permitted, Australia and New Zealand likely. For the others, orders awaited,” Col Singh added.

The two Indian armed forces’ aircraft and warships based in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands would search for the aircraft at the break of dawn on Thursday, said Indian government sources.

Mukherjee in his message to the Malaysian king on Tuesday said, “Our officials have been in constant contact with Malaysian authorities in this regard. We appreciate the efforts of the government of Malaysia to locate the missing aircraft and are ready to provide any help needed.” The content of the letter was released to the media on Wednesday.
‘In two years, we have a field gun ready; it costs $2 million’
 Chennai, March 12: 

During the Kargil War, “a senior Defence Ministry official barged into my office in Pune asking us to immediately produce ammunition for Bofors guns. We made over 100,000 shells. There was no tender, no RFQ, no nothing,” Kalyani Group Chairman Baba Kalyani recalled in an interview to Business Line.

Now, the $2.5-billion group is ready with a home-built field gun costing $2 million and wants to prove that the “Made in India” label is the best. Excerpts:

You have built an indigenous field gun. What’s the cost and what opportunities do you see in defence manufacture?

Two years ago, we decided to be in land systems, including artillery, infantry, armoured vehicles, ammunition, rockets and allied stuff, and a little electronics, now integral to defence systems. We passionately set up a programme that we call the Indian gun programme. I challenged Colonel Bhatia, who heads our defence business, that let’s build an Indian gun. There’s a belief that Indian companies aren’t capable of this and we want to prove them wrong, as we did in components. In two years, we have a gun ready; it costs $2 million.

How competitive is this compared to imported guns?

It would be much more expensive if we import. We are far more competitive.

Have you got any orders from the defence establishment?

Not yet. We did this due to our automotive background where people keep designing new product components, unveil them and then develop a market.

What kind of gun have you made?

We’ve made two products; one is a 155 mm 52-calibre gun, with self-propelling and towing capability. This is a field gun, the mainstay of the Indian army like the Bofors guns. Our gun is similar but of a longer range. That was 39 calibre, this is 52; the calibre denotes the length of the barrel and the range.

We’ve also built an ultra-light howitzer gun, weighing around 900 kg; normal guns weigh around three tonnes. The technology of soft recall is from the US but we’ve built the whole gun in Pune, right from the special steel, forging in our plants and so on.

This gun has the advantage of much more mobility and can be mounted on a small truck, or lifted in a helicopter and put at the front on the mountains. The government is importing from the US 150 ultra-light Howitzers at a cost of $600 to $700 million. Ours has a smaller calibre, but by next year, we’ll also have a 155 mm gun at a substantially lower cost.

Who are your competitors?

Nobody, except for the Ordnance Factory. But the competition will be from outside — France, Israel. This wasn’t against a tender, but to show an Indian capability. There is a feeling within our system that defence equipment can’t be made here and should be imported. I wanted to break this myth, so we spent our money and made a product to prove we have capability in this country, so don’t just brush us aside.

What kind of business potential do you see for this?

From quotations we know the Indian army now needs about 1,500 to 2,000 guns. Their existing weapons platform – the Bofors guns bought in 1984 – is obsolete and needs replacement. India is the second biggest defence procurer in the world after the US. The European market is shrinking. With our current fiscal situation and the weaker rupee, if a home grown quality product is available at a competitive price, why would you import?

But some Indian businesses do tend to cut corners and compromise on quality.

Not everybody, or else our company wouldn’t be supplying to Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW. But the media doesn’t write about manufacturing because it’s not glamorous!

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