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Thursday, 27 March 2014

From Today's Papers - 27 Mar 2014

 SC puts Army areas off limits for politics

While interim orders by the Supreme Court allowing armed forces personnel and their families to register as voters at their place of posting in peace stations has added a fresh dimension to the political calculus in 318 constituencies, the military areas would be off limits to political campaigners and vote seekers. The Apex Court's March 24 order explicitly states that the Election Commission “shall be within its power to issue guidelines prohibiting campaigning in peace stations”.

The Centre has been directed to give details of peace stations to the commission within two days. Armed forces’ families in the remaining 225 constituencies where the voter lists have already been complied may be left out of the poll process and may have to make do with the traditional postal ballots.

Poll-related activities are expected to be witnessed in the 62 cantonments across the country like Ambala, Delhi, Kasauli and Secunderabad where a sizable civilian population co-resides, though such activities would be outside military premises.

Army Chief visits Israel

Chief of the Army Staff Gen Bikram Singh visited Israel. Last week, Gen Bikram Singh was welcomed at Camp Rabbin in Tel Aviv.

During his visit, he met the Israel Defence Forces' (IDF) Chief of the General Staff, Lt Gen Benjamin Gantz, and the Commander of IDF Ground Forces, Major General Guy Tzur. The military meetings focused on the cooperation between India and Israel. Gen Bikram Singh also toured Israeli military bases and was briefed on operational procedures.

Assam Rifles turns 179
It is as far back as March 1935 to which India's oldest paramilitary force, the Assam Rifles, traces its birth. It was raised by the British 179 years ago as the Cachar Levy with a strength of 750 men to guard the plains of Assam from the unruly tribes inhabiting the surrounding hill tracts. The force has since undergone a number of changes before the name Assam Rifles was finally adopted in 1917. It has participated in the two World Wars as well as post-Independence wars and major operations. Popularly known as "Friends of the Hill People," the force, with its 46-battalions, is mandated for the dual role of internal security in the north-east as well as guarding the Indo-Mayanmar border. At present, its Director General is Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, a foot soldier from the Bihar Regiment and an alumnus of the Lawrence School, Sanawar near Chandigarh.

MoD in silent mode

The Ministry of Defence is in a "silent mode" since the Model Code of Conduct was enforced for the General Elections on March 5. Even the launch of long-range underwater-fired nuclear capable missile on March 24, a big event that would have had the MoD even issuing pictures of the event, was a low-key affair with conformations coming only with a static “yes” and followed with request "please do not quote anyone from the MoD." On a normal day without the code being in place, such a launch would have led to a formal announcement.
War pigs: outrage as Army admits it slaughters animals to test equipment

The British Army has blown up live pigs - some wearing body armour - as part of attempts to improve battlefield medical techniques, Freedom of Information requests have revealed.

Some 115 animals were killed in three years at the Ministry of Defence's secret Porton Down base in Wiltshire.

The pigs were killed to see whether they could be saved despite suffering “severe battlefield trauma” and to test blood-clotting products, the Mirror newspaper reported. Pigs are genetically quite close to humans.

Mimi Bekhechi, director of animal welfare group PETA UK, said: “The UK military's involvement in the cruel and archaic exercises is impossible to justify medically, ethically or educationally.

”It's time for the military to end its participation in these inhumane and ill-conceived exercises for the sake of both our fighting forces and animals.

“The MoD is out of step with the latest developments in education, which show unequivocally that to shoot, stab or blow up live pigs in order to train our military medics makes as much sense as conducting modern warfare with muskets. Vastly superior non-animal trauma training methods, including life-like human-patient simulators are available and used by the militaries of 23 of the UK's 27 NATO allies.”

The MoD killed 28,000 animals in the last three years for a number of reasons, including to test poisons.

It said the pigs were anaesthetised when they were subject to explosions and then “humanely culled”.

“The research we undertake saves lives by helping us develop world class protective equipment and new medical treatments that benefit both troops and civilians,” an MoD spokesman said.

“Advances in technology mean we're reducing the number of procedures carried out on pigs but there is some research, such as countering the threat posed by chemical and biological weapons, that can't be conducted without use of animals.”

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